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Thread: Pokemon Generations: Satsumi's Journey

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    Default Pokemon Generations: Satsumi's Journey

    Summary: When Satsumi's dad goes missing on a trip to investigate an ancient temple ruin, she decides to do everything she can to find him. She knows it won't be easy. Sickly for most of her childhood, Satsumi grew up sheltered and isolated, and even though her health has improved, she's still a timid, awkward girl prone to worry. Dealing with her new friends is almost as much of a challenge as dealing with her new enemy. But most troubling of all is the strange mystery which threatens to pull her under. What happened in that ruined temple so long ago? What does it have to do with her dad's disappearance? And what it Satsumi's connection to it? She'll soon find out, whether she wants to or not.

    Satsumi's Physical Description:

        Spoiler:


    Prologue (Pt. 1)


    I knew something was wrong when he didn’t come home for my birthday. My mom said it was nothing: “Maybe he just forgot what day it is; you know how absent-minded your dad can be”– but I could tell she was only trying to make me feel better. She pretended that everything was fine, that there was nothing wrong with sitting at a table for two at my favorite restaurant, or with putting a third of my cake back in the fridge, or with actually being able to hear the funny parts of my favorite movie because no one was laughing too loud. Did she think I didn’t notice that her smile was too wide, her voice was too high-pitched and bubbly, or that she kept turning her face away so I wouldn’t see her worried expression? I kept glancing at her while we watched the movie– no, not watched– my mom’s eyes were glued to the TV screen, but she was staring straight through it.

    But I pretended, too. My mom was trying so hard to make me happy, and I didn’t want to make her worry about me. So I told her that she was right, maybe something came up; maybe he got so busy he lost track of time. I could almost believe it myself– he really was absent-minded, just like my mom said. He’d forgotten her birthday a few years before; boy, she’d really let him have it for that.

    It wasn’t the first time he’d been away from home, either– a three time Pokemon League Champion, he travels sometimes, giving speeches and exhibitions. But this time wasn’t like the others. It started when Professor Ookido came to our house one day about a week ago. There was nothing unusual about that; he lives nearby, and he and my dad have been friends since they were kids. But this time, it seemed like something was bothering him. His smile was too thin. When I answered the door, he mussed my hair and said, “Hey, Short Stuff,” like always, but he didn’t stop to talk to me, just asked where my dad was. I led him into the kitchen, where my dad was crouched putting down food bowls for Pikachu and his other Pokemon. He looked up, stood, and said hi to Professor Ookido when we entered. Then he said, “Satsumi, why don’t you go upstairs and clean your room?” He didn’t answer when I said that my room was already clean, just frowned, crossed his arms, and looked me straight in the eye. I knew what he was trying to tell me-- cleaning my room was just an excuse; really, he just wanted me to leave so I wouldn’t hear their conversation. I was really curious, but I wasn’t going to argue. So I left.

    That night at dinner, my dad told my mom and me that he had to leave on business for a few days. When my mom asked what kind of business, he shrugged and said, “Some archeologists just finished digging up some ruins over in the Nirakar Region. Shigeru wants me to go check it out.”


    “Ruins?” my mom said, pausing with her fork halfway to her mouth.

    “Yeah, out in the desert, some temple in some mythological city or something.” My dad shrugged. “I don’t know much about it, but Shigeru seemed excited.”

    “Then why can’t he go?”

    My dad looked at me with raised eyebrows, and I turned my face toward my plate, embarrassed by my outburst.

    “Shigeru has too much to do at the lab,” said my dad, “he has to get the starters ready for this year’s new trainers.”

    “Oh. Right.”

    That made sense– it was almost time for new trainers to start their Pokemon journeys. But that didn’t make me feel any better. I rolled a pea around on my plate with my fork so I wouldn’t have to look at my dad.

    “Don’t worry, Satsumi,” he said with a smile in his voice. “I’ll be home in plenty of time for your birthday. Have I ever broken my promise?”

    I shook my head, feeling a little bad for doubting my dad. I’m really proud of him, and I’ve kind of gotten used to him being gone sometimes; these days, I don’t even cry when he leaves. But I still miss him when he’s away, and he knows it. That’s why he promised me he’d always be home for my birthday no matter what. My dad’s always told me that the day I was born was the most important day of his life, even more important than the day he set out on his Pokemon journey, or the day he first won the title of Pokemon League Champion.

    That’s why I knew, deep down, that he couldn’t have forgotten. Even if he got held up this time, he would’ve at least called. My mom kept her phone near her all day, kept checking it. The light came back to her eyes every time it rang, then disappeared again as soon as she looked at the caller ID. I hope I hid my disappointment from her better than she hid hers from me.

    It was getting late when she looked at the clock, sighed, and headed upstairs. She came back down a minute later carrying something small in one hand. My mom sat down next to me on the sofa and handed me a box a little bigger than my open hands, wrapped in blue paper and pink ribbons.

    “Happy birthday, Satsumi,” she said. “This is from both me and your dad. I was hoping he could be on the phone when you opened it, but... I guess he’ll just have to miss out, huh?”

    I nodded and smiled back at her as best I could.

    “Go ahead, open it!”

    I tried to show enthusiasm as I tore into the paper, but a chill ran through me when I saw what the present was. My stunned reflection stared back at me from the blank screen of a new model Pokedex, visible through the cellophane window of the box.

    “Mom... wow... this is...”

    “You like it?” she said with a laugh in her voice. “Your dad and I picked it out weeks ago; we think you’re finally ready to begin your Pokemon journey.”

    “R-really?”

    My mom nodded.

    “You’ve been a lot healthier these past couple of years; I almost can’t remember the last time you got sick. And your doctor says it’s ok now.” She paused, then added “Actually, you probably could’ve gone last year, but we wanted to wait and make sure.”

    Why did I feel so anxious? I’d been waiting for this day since I was a little kid. My parents told me countless stories about their adventures while I was growing up– about how they met all of their Pokemon (and each other), about all the places they traveled to, all the gym matches and tournaments they battled in, about all their encounters with the “evil” Team Rocket. I’d make them repeat my favorite ones over and over (especially the one about how my dad won his first Pokemon League), and dream about having my own adventures. What kind of Pokemon would I train? What region would I journey through? What kind of people would I meet? I spent hours imagining it all and couldn’t wait to leave home.

    But my dreams got put on hold. I was born two and a half months too early, and was sickly for most of my childhood. Fevers, ear infections, and (worst of all), respitory infections– it seemed like there was always something wrong with me. My parents and I hoped I’d be better by the time I turned ten, the age when most kids start their journeys. And I was; at least, I wasn’t sick as often, and when I was, it wasn’t as serious (though I was still small for my age). But my doctor said I still wasn’t healthy enough to travel on my own. My tenth birthday was miserable, and not just because I had a fever. All the other kids my age got to start their journeys; I loved Pokemon just as much as they did, but just because I got sick sometimes... it wasn’t fair! Nothing my parents did to cheer me up worked. They told me, maybe I’d be well enough next year;

    “No, I won’t,” I sobbed, “I’ll always be sick, and I’ll never get to be a Pokemon trainer!”

    I said it because I was frustrated and upset, but really, I hoped my parents were right. When they weren’t, I started to give up. It seemed like I was just doomed, Pokemon-wise. But now that my chance had finally come...

    “It’s ok if you don’t want to leave just yet,” my mom said.

    I looked at her and shook my head, scolding myself for letting her see me worry.

    “It’s not that, this is really great; thank you so much! I was just surprised, is all.”

    She smiled warmly at me and tucked my hair behind my ear.

    “Ok. But you don’t have to rush things, you know; take as long as you need to feel ready. One more year won’t–-”

    “Mo-om, I’m fine!!” I said, pretending to be annoyed.

    She laughed and said “Ok, ok! But I wanted to tell you that, anyway. Especially since...”

    That’s what was bothering me: I was worried about my dad; I couldn’t leave home without knowing he was safe.

    “It’ll be ok, Mom,” I said, trying to sound casual, “Dad’ll definitely be home before then.”

    My mom put her smile back on and said “I’m sure you’re right.” We both tried to believe that I was.


    My mom had contacted the authorities in Eternia City the day after my birthday, but they couldn’t find my dad. The police started an investigation, interviewed my mom, Professor Ookido, talked to people in the area where he’d disappeared. He’d been seen there, at least. The archeologists at the site said that he’d been there a week ago, wanting to explore the ruins. They hadn’t allowed him in, and he’d gone back to his hotel in the city after a short argument. All his stuff was still there. But my dad had just disappeared. No one had seen him after that night; they had no idea where he’d gone. The police wanted to investigate the ruins, see if he’d been there, but first they needed a permit; it would take days for them to get one.

    With every day that passed, I lost a little more hope. Every night, I cried alone in my bed, trying not to imagine what had happened to my dad. What if he was sick somewhere? What if he’d been kidnapped? That didn’t seem likely, not when he had Pikachu and his other Pokemon. But they’d disappeared with him. I wished Pikachu were sleeping curled up next to me, the way he always did when I was sick or sad. I hugged my Clefairy doll tight instead, but it wasn’t the same. I wanted to crawl in bed with my mom like I used to whenever I had a nightmare, but I couldn’t let her know that I could hear her crying. I’d never felt so alone in my life.

    Waiting to hear something about my dad was driving me crazy. The day for new trainers to leave on their Pokemon journeys was getting closer and closer, but I couldn’t leave without him there, could I? Everything was so wrong, it wasn’t the right time. But that was an excuse; I was really just afraid. After all, what could I do against something that even my dad couldn’t handle? But sitting around waiting for the phone to ring wasn’t helping anything, and I knew deep down that I should be doing everything I could to find him. My dad had always been there when I needed him. Like the time when I was little and I got really, really sick, the sickest I’ve ever been. He was away at the Pokemon League finals, going for his third title. But when I woke up in the hospital, he was right there holding my hand, looking down at me and stroking my hair. He’d stayed home for a couple of years after that, to make sure I was ok. My dad would do anything for me. And now that it was my turn to help him, I couldn’t let him down. So I decided– I’d leave on my Pokemon journey, and I’d find my dad, no matter what.
    Last edited by Hakajin; 12th July 2014 at 11:11 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Prologue (Pt. 2)

    Every time I thought about leaving home, I felt anxious and sick, and I almost wanted to just get it over with. But the next few days just crawled by. To distract myself, I studied up on the Nirakar Region in a book on my dad’s shelf. It didn’t help much, because it kept reminding me of him, but at least it felt like I was doing something. Maybe that temple or whatever had something to do with his disappearance; maybe I’d find some kind of clue in what I was reading.

    I learned that Nirakar is an arid region northwest of Kanto, across the sea. Much of it is desert, but the river that flows from the mountain in the North makes civilization possible; there are both big cities and small towns.

    Historians from thousands of years ago wrote down legends of a great city, Paradisio, in the middle of the Nirakar Desert. Paradisio had tall buildings made of glittering stone; a man-made lake and canals; beautiful gardens with fountains. But they didn’t know where the city was, exactly, who the people were or where they had gone.

    For a long time, modern historians thought Paradisio was just a story. Apparently, historians from a long time ago often exaggerated and wrote down strange rumors as fact. There were no ruins in the Nirakar Desert. The story was impossible, anyway—how could anyone build a civilization in such a dry place? How could they build such huge structures? How could they have used this “glittering stone” when there was nothing like that for miles and miles around? But lots of people still believed in it. They kept looking for it.

    And then, fifty years ago, someone found something. It was just a stone sticking out of the ground, but it was long, square, and pointy, obviously carved by someone. The stone turned out to be the top of a spire from a grand palace. At the time my dad’s book was published two years ago, they were finished with everything but the temple (which my book says is called a “ziggurat”). Most of the buildings had crumbled and the lake and canals were dry, but it had once been exactly as the ancient historians had said.

    But even today, no one has been able to figure out who built the city or how they did it. There have been lots of theories– maybe the lake was fed from an underground water source, maybe they used Pokemon to build, maybe it was aliens– but none of them have worked to explain the city (well, except for the one about the aliens, but no one really takes that seriously). There’s no evidence in the soil that there was ever a natural water source. And no tools for capturing Pokemon have been found. None of it makes any sense. There is writing in the ruins that might have the answers, but so far no one has been able to translate it. But linguists keep trying. Some are convinced that there’s a great power hidden in the ancient city.

    It all sounded like exactly the kind of thing my dad would get himself involved in. Like the time he saved the world from a ruthless Pokemon collector (I was five, sick with another ear infection, when my parents first told me that story. I remember lying on the sofa with my head in my mom’s lap and my feet in my dad’s, as they told me about arriving on the island just as the people were celebrating the legend of an ancient prophecy, how my dad started out playing the role of the hero, then had to brave a fierce storm to collect the three orbs of power and help Lugia tame the legendary birds of fire, ice, and lightning). Yeah, if I wanted to find my dad, the Paradisio ruins were definitely the place to start.


    Two days before I left on my Pokemon journey, I lay on my stomach on my bed, my head propped up in one hand and my book in the other, rereading the part about the ruins.

    All of a sudden I heard, “What are you reading, Satsumi?”

    I snapped the book closed and laid my arm across the cover, but the look on my mom’s face said she already knew the answer to her question. If I’d known she could read the title from where she stood in the hall, I would’ve closed my door.

    “Nothing,” I said, sitting up, “I mean, nothing really interesting.”

    My mom walked into my room and bent over to pick up my book.

    “Nirakar Then and Now,” she read, sitting down beside me. Her smile faltered, but her voice was still steady when she asked, “Are you reading this because of your dad?”

    I nodded. There was no point in lying; she wouldn’t believe me if I said no. I stared at my feet, which still didn’t quite touch the floor when I sat on my bed, and said, “I’m... actually thinking of traveling there on my Pokemon journey.”

    My face felt hot. I could feel my mom’s eyes on me, and I wished she’d say something. I hadn’t meant for her to find out this way. Not that I’d been hiding it from her, exactly... I’d just been waiting for the right time. Only, it never seemed to come. So maybe it was better this way.

    “I hope you’re not planning to go looking for him,” my mom said finally.

    “I’m not!” I said, facing her. “Nirakar seems like an interesting region, I want to see it for myself!”

    My mom studied me carefully, and I had to look away. I knew she was too smart to be fooled by that, but I hadn’t had time to think of an answer. I took a deep breath and started over.

    “Actually... I do want to know more about the ruins. I need to try to find out what happened. And... I think I’d feel closer to him there.”

    That was the truth, even if it wasn’t the whole truth. My mom hugged me tight, and I laid my head on her shoulder.

    “You’re such a good girl, Satsumi,” she said. “You’ve grown up so much.”

    After a moment, she released me, but kept one arm around my shoulders. She looked into my face and tucked my hair behind my ear, as she said, “But you’re still a kid. I don’t want you getting involved in anything dangerous.”

    You and Dad did all kinds of dangerous stuff when you were kids, I thought.

    “I know, your dad and me did all kinds of dangerous stuff when we were kids,” my mom said with a strained smile. “That’s why I worry about you. I know a lot can happen on a Pokemon journey, even when you’re not looking for trouble, and...Thinking of you getting involved in the kind of things as we did terrifies me.”

    I leaned into her and wrapped my arms around her waist, and she pulled me close to her again.

    “It’s ok, Mom,” I said. “I’m not gonna look for dad, and I’m not gonna do anything dangerous. I promise.”

    My mom studied me carefully for a second, and I was afraid she was going to argue. But then she nodded and said "Ok."

    My chest felt tight, and I had to fight back tears. I hated lying to her. But there was no point in making her worry, and I had to do this. Maybe I wouldn’t even have to break my promise. Maybe my dad wasn’t involved with anything dangerous at all, maybe it was all a misunderstanding, and he’d turn up before I even left for my Pokemon journey. I closed my eyes tight and willed it to happen.
    Last edited by Hakajin; 12th July 2014 at 11:18 PM.
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  3. #3
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    This is a great read. I wonder what is going to be head of Satsumi's new journey
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  4. #4
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    Thanks! I have big plans for this fic ^^!
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  5. #5
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    I like what you've got so far but at a glance there's a few things I'd change, on Serebii it's pretty universal to include a break between each line of dialogue between another character, it makes it a lot easier to read, (consider people are on there phones, or what theme they're using, etc.) so you would change;

    “It’s ok if you don’t want to leave just yet,” my mom said.
    I looked at her and shook my head, scolding myself for letting her see me worry.
    “It’s not that, this is really great; thank you so much! I was just surprised, is all.”
    She smiled warmly at me and tucked my hair behind my ear.
    “Ok. But you don’t have to rush things, you know; take as long as you need to feel ready. One more year won’t–”
    “Mo-om, I’m fine!!” I said, pretending to be annoyed.
    She laughed and said “Ok, ok! But I wanted to tell you that, anyway. Especially since...”
    to

    “It’s ok if you don’t want to leave just yet,” my mom said.

    I looked at her and shook my head, scolding myself for letting her see me worry. “It’s not that, this is really great; thank you so much! I was just surprised, is all.”

    She smiled warmly at me and tucked my hair behind my ear. “Ok. But you don’t have to rush things, you know; take as long as you need to feel ready. One more year won’t–”

    “Mo-om, I’m fine!!” I said, pretending to be annoyed.

    She laughed and said “Ok, ok! But I wanted to tell you that, anyway. Especially since...”
    This section especially was a little confusing, I had to go back and re-read it because I lost track of who was talking when, the break allows you to instantly spot that in a second.

    Before I start, I want to give Satsumi's physical description (I've been trying to work it into the story, but I'm having trouble doing it in first person in a way that's not awkward. I'll probably get it in later, but I want you to be able to picture her from the beginning). She is small for her age, with blue eyes, pale skin, and black hair cut into a bob. Ok, that's all; onward!
    I'd wrap this in spoiler tags as people might not want to know what she looks like straight away, you mentioned you had trouble doing it in first person so maybe have her look in the mirror or describe herself. You could have her do the same with her mum, something like. "Blue eyes, identical to my own stared back at me." Or have her mum say something like: "Are you ok honey, you look even paler than usual." Don't worry about fully describing her to the last detail in the first chapter, it's not totally vital and can even add some mystery.

    My face felt hot. I could feel my mom’s eyes on me, and I wished she’d say something. I hadn’t meant for her to find out this way. Not that I’d been hiding it from her, exactly... I’d just been waiting for the right time. Only, it never seemed to come. So maybe it was better this way.
    “I hope you’re not planning to go looking for him,” my mom said finally.
    “I’m not!” I said, facing her. “Nirakar seems like an interesting region, I want to see it for
    myself!.”
    My mom studied me carefully, and I had to look away. I knew she was too smart to be fooled by that, but I hadn’t had time to think of an answer. I took a deep breath and started over.
    “Actually... I do want to know more about the ruins. I need to try to find out what happened. And... I think I’d feel closer to him there.”
    That was the truth, even if it wasn’t the whole truth. My mom hugged me tight, and I laid my head on her shoulder.
    “You’re such a good girl, Satsumi,” she said. “You’ve grown up so much.”
    After a moment, she released me, but kept one arm around my shoulders. She looked into my face and tucked my hair behind my ear, as she said “But you’re still a kid. I don’t want you getting involved in anything dangerous.”
    You and Dad did all kinds of dangerous stuff when you were kids, I thought.
    “I know, your dad and me did all kinds of dangerous stuff when we were kids,” my mom said with a strained smile. “That’s why I worry about you. I know a lot can happen on a Pokemon journey, even when you’re not looking for trouble, and...Thinking of you getting involved in the kind of things as we did terrifies me.”
    I leaned into her and wrapped my arms around her waist, and she pulled me close to her
    again.
    “It’s ok, Mom,” I said. “I’m not gonna look for dad, and I’m not gonna do anything dangerous. I
    promise.”
    “Ok,” she said, “I believe you.”
    FIX:

    My face felt hot. I could feel my mom’s eyes on me, and I wished she’d say something. I hadn’t meant for her to find out this way. Not that I’d been hiding it from her, exactly... I’d just been waiting for the right time. Only, it never seemed to come. So maybe it was better this way.

    “I hope you’re not planning to go looking for him,” my mom said finally.

    “I’m not!” I replied, facing her. “Nirakar seems like an interesting region, I want to see it for
    myself!.”

    My mom studied me carefully, and I had to look away. I knew she was too smart to be fooled by that, but I hadn’t had time to think of an answer. I took a deep breath and started over.

    “Actually... I do want to know more about the ruins. I need to try to find out what happened. And... I think I’d feel closer to him there.” That was the truth, even if it wasn’t the whole truth. My mom hugged me tight, and I laid my head on her shoulder.

    “You’re such a good girl, Satsumi,” she told me. “You’ve grown up so much.”

    After a moment, she released me, but kept one arm around my shoulders. She looked into my face and tucked my hair behind my ear. “But you’re still a kid. I don’t want you getting involved in anything dangerous.

    You and Dad did all kinds of dangerous stuff when you were kids, I thought. “I know, your dad and me did all kinds of dangerous stuff when we were kids,” my mom said with a strained smile. “That’s why I worry about you. I know a lot can happen on a Pokemon journey, even when you’re not looking for trouble, and...Thinking of you getting involved in the kind of things as we did terrifies me.”

    I leaned into her and wrapped my arms around her waist, and she pulled me close to her
    again. “It’s ok, Mom,” I whispered. “I’m not gonna look for dad, and I’m not gonna do anything dangerous. I promise.”

    “Ok,” she replied, “I believe you.”
    I've gone through another section here, and changed up a few things. First I've swapped out some "said's", originally in this extract there was seven and I've got it down to two, I feel it adds something more, especially if you use words like "whispered", "muttered", "shouted," etc, this gives us more of a clue to the characters mood. There are also opportunities to not use said at all and just keep the dialogue flowing back and forth, it helps it feel more natural. As well as the words I mentioned earlier, think about words like "remarked", "observed, "replied", and try and be aware of how much you're using one word, it's an easy crime to commit when writing, I oftentimes slip up and find I've used one word three times in the last paragraph or something, if this is the case just jump on a thesaurus and swap it, it really does add something to a story as well as improving your vocabulary.

    Anyway I've really enjoyed the story thus far, I hope you take into account what I've said and I'll be looking forwards for what you've got planned in the future.
    Last edited by Lanced; 26th June 2014 at 2:42 AM.

  6. #6
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    I like what you've got so far but at a glance there's a few things I'd change, on Serebii it's pretty universal to include a break between each line of dialogue between another character, it makes it a lot easier to read, (consider people are on there phones, or what theme they're using, etc.)
    Thanks for the advice there; I'll go back and fix that.

    I'd wrap this in spoiler tags as people might not want to know what she looks like straight away, you mentioned you had trouble doing it in first person so maybe have her look in the mirror or describe herself. You could have her do the same with her mum, something like. "Blue eyes, identical to my own stared back at me." Or have her mum say something like: "Are you ok honey, you look even paler than usual." Don't worry about fully describing her to the last detail in the first chapter, it's not totally vital and can even add some mystery.
    Can definitely do the spoiler-tag thing. I did the mirror thing last time I attempted writing about this character, but later I read that that's a pretty amateurish thing to do (read it in a great book about writing fantasy/sci-fi called "Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imagintive Fiction" by sci-fi writer Jeff Vandermeer). That makes sense to me, because people don't typically notice things that they see every day. The second thing would work, but she's not abnormally pale... I'm pretty sure what I'm going to end up doing is have Satsumi describe herself in comparison to new people she meets, because she's insecure and is totally the type to compare herself to other people. That'll come up in the first chapter... I included the description in the first part because how she looks is important to me, and I know that when I'm reading something and the description comes up later in the story, I tend to just ignore it and go with what I'd already pictured.

    I've gone through another section here, and changed up a few things. First I've swapped out some "said's", originally in this extract there was seven and I've got it down to two, I feel it adds something more, especially if you use words like "whispered", "muttered", "shouted," etc, this gives us more of a clue to the characters mood. There are also opportunities to not use said at all and just keep the dialogue flowing back and forth, it helps it feel more natural. As well as the words I mentioned earlier, think about words like "remarked", "observed, "replied", and try and be aware of how much you're using one word, it's an easy crime to commit when writing, I oftentimes slip up and find I've used one word three times in the last paragraph or something, if this is the case just jump on a thesaurus and swap it, it really does add something to a story as well as improving your vocabulary.

    Anyway I've really enjoyed the story thus far, I hope you take into account what I've said and I'll be looking forwards for what you've got planned in the future.
    Can definitely remove some "said"s, but something I read/learned in creative writing classes is not to use lots of different dialogue tags. Generally, the only time you should use another is if it's not clear from the context how something's being said. Readers generally skip over "said;" what's really important is signifying who's speaking, and using different tags unnecessarily slows down the reading process. I usually only use ones that supply tone and loudness, and certain things like "ask." It's a good idea to use variety in your language when writing, this is just an exception. Also, I'm facing the challenge of writing in the voice of someone who's less than half my age.

    Um... I hope I don't sound stuck-up or anything. I just wanted to show that I am taking your advice to heart and give my reasons for not using some of it. The characters I'm writing about are really precious to me, so it means a lot that you're taking the time to get to know them and review my writing. So, thank you! I'm so glad you're enjoying it so far!
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  7. #7
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    Here for the Review Game. Let's get it going.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hakajin View Post
    Summary: When Satsumi's dad goes missing on a trip to investigate an ancient temple ruin, she decides to do everything she can to find him. She knows it won't be easy. Sickly for most of her childhood, Satsumi grew up sheltered and isolated, and even though her health has improved, she's still a timid, awkward girl prone to worry. Dealing with her new friends is almost as much of a challenge as dealing with her new enemy. But most troubling of all is the strange mystery which threatens to pull her under. What happened in that ruined temple so long ago? What does it have to do with her dad's disappearance? And what it Satsumi's connection to it? She'll soon find out, whether she wants to or not.
    Sounds like an interesting plot so far. Nothing especially surprising, but enough to draw me in.

    Satsumi's Physical Description:

        Spoiler:
    You really should work this into the story proper. I'm not terribly bothered by it, but that's just a recommendation of mine.

    Prologue (Pt. 1)


    I knew something was wrong when he didn’t come home for my birthday. My mom said it was nothing: “Maybe he just forgot what day it is; you know how absent-minded your dad can be”– but I could tell she was only trying to make me feel better. She pretended that everything was fine, that there was nothing wrong with sitting at a table for two at my favorite restaurant, or with putting a third of my cake back in the fridge, or with actually being able to hear the funny parts of my favorite movie because no one was laughing too loud. Did she think I didn’t notice that her smile was too wide, her voice was too high-pitched and bubbly, or that she kept turning her face away so I wouldn’t see her worried expression? I kept glancing at her while we watched the movie– no, not watched– my mom’s eyes were glued to the TV screen, but she was staring straight through it.
    I like this, it's a very strong start. The first-person perspective (which I assume is Satsumi's) serves what you've written well, and the actual content is actually emotionally difficult to read. This is very well depicted. I get the crystal clear image of a young girl who knows something is wrong with her world and is very aware of her mother's attempts to hide that.

    But I pretended, too. My mom was trying so hard to make me happy, and I didn’t want to make her worry about me. So I told her that she was right, maybe something came up; maybe he got so busy he lost track of time. I could almost believe it myself– he really was absent-minded, just like my mom said. He’d forgotten her birthday a few years before; boy, she’d really let him have it for that.
    It's interesting to show Satsumi struggling and acting that nothing is wrong, too. It makes the story a little less straightforward and predictable.

    I assume the father is Ash/Satoshi and the mother is Misty/Kasumi, based on Satsumi's name and the description of the father's personality.

    It wasn’t the first time he’d been away from home, either– a three time Pokemon League Champion, he travels sometimes, giving speeches and exhibitions. But this time wasn’t like the others. It started when Professor Ookido came to our house one day about a week ago. There was nothing unusual about that; he lives nearby, and he and my dad have been friends since they were kids. But this time, it seemed like something was bothering him. His smile was too thin. When I answered the door, he mussed my hair and said “Hey, Short Stuff,” like always, but he didn’t stop to talk to me, just asked where my dad was. I led him into the kitchen, where my dad was crouched down putting down food bowls Pikachu and his other Pokemon. He looked up, stood, and said hi to Professor Ookido when we entered. Then he said, “Satsumi, why don’t you go upstairs and clean your room?” He didn’t answer when I said that my room was already clean, just frowned, crossed his arms, and looked me straight in the eye. I knew what he was trying to tell me-- cleaning my room was just an excuse; really, he just wanted me to leave so I wouldn’t hear their conversation. I was really curious, but I wasn’t going to argue. So I left.

    That night at dinner, my dad told my mom and me that he had to leave on business for a few days. When my mom asked what kind of business, he shrugged and said “Some archeologists just finished digging up some ruins over in the Nirakar Region. Shigeru wants me to go check it out.”
    I have to admit I feel a little awkward about reading very Japanese names. Again, it's not a complaint, but just something I thought.

    I like how perceptive Satsumi is. The emotions of those around her are clearly very strong, and her thoughts as she processes them are fascinating.

    The storyline of ancient ruins is something I love. I'm definitely into that.


    “Ruins?” my mom said, pausing with her fork halfway to her mouth.

    “Yeah, out in the desert, some temple in some mythological city or something.” My dad shrugged. “I don’t know much about it, but Shigeru seemed excited.”
    Brings memories of Pokelantis to mind, which means it raises some real possibilities for where the plot can go.

    “Then why can’t he go?”

    My dad looked at me with raised eyebrows, and I turned my face toward my plate, embarrassed by my outburst.

    “Shigeru has too much to do at the lab,” said my dad, “he has to get the starters ready for this year’s new trainers.”

    “Oh. Right.”
    Typical Gary, making others do his dirty work. I bet he'll come back later to do something, though.

    That made sense– it was almost time for new trainers to start their Pokemon journeys. But that didn’t make me feel any better. I rolled a pea around on my plate with my fork so I wouldn’t have to look at my dad.

    “Don’t worry, Satsumi,” he said with a smile in his voice. “I’ll be home in plenty of time for your birthday. Have I ever broken my promise?”
    Yeah, Ash, you have actually. Pidgeot says hi.

    I shook my head, feeling a little bad for doubting my dad. I’m really proud of him, and I’ve gotten kind of used to him being gone sometimes; these days, I don’t even cry when he leaves. But I still miss him when he’s away, and he knows it. That’s why he promised me he’d always be home for my birthday no matter what. My dad’s always told me that the day I was born was the most important day of his life, even more important than the day he set out on his Pokemon journey, or the day he first won the title of Pokemon League Champion.

    That’s why I knew, deep down, that he couldn’t have forgotten. Even if he got held up this time, he would’ve at least called. My mom kept her phone near her all day, kept checking it. The light came back to her eyes every time it rang, then disappeared again as soon as she looked at the caller ID. I hope I hid my disappointment from her better than she hid hers from me.
    I know I keep saying it, but the emotions are excellent. I really feel for Satsumi here. The emotions are strong and yet believable.

    It was getting late when she looked at the clock, sighed, and headed upstairs. She came back down a minute later carrying something small in one hand. My mom sat down next to me on the sofa and handed me a box a little bigger than my open hands, wrapped in blue paper and
    pink ribbons.

    “Happy birthday, Satsumi,” she said. “This is from both me and your dad. I was hoping he could be on the phone when you opened it, but... I guess he’ll just have to miss out, huh?”

    I nodded and smiled back at her as best I could.
    That one really broke my heart, it really did. You can truly feel how hurt Satsumi is even though she's trying to hide it.

    I find it interesting that you are refraining from explicitly naming Ash and Misty.

    “Go ahead, open it!”

    I tried to show enthusiasm as I tore into the paper, but a chill ran through me when I saw what the present was. My stunned reflection stared back at me from the blank screen of a new model Pokedex, visible through the cellophane window of the box.

    “Mom... wow... this is...”

    “You like it?” She said with a laugh in her voice. “Your dad and I picked it out weeks ago; we think you’re finally ready to begin your Pokemon journey.”
    Wow, once again, this is something. You couldn't have picked a more apt gift, and it really truly is tough to see Satsumi and Misty deal with Ash not being there for such an important event.

    “R-really?”

    My mom nodded.

    “You’ve been a lot healthier these past couple of years; I almost can’t remember the last time you got sick. And your doctor says it’s ok now.” She paused, then added “Actually, you probably could’ve gone last year, but we wanted to wait and make sure.”
    Ah, right, I almost forgot about her illness. I do suspect it will come up when she goes on her journey for real, though.

    This is a good reason why she didn't necessarily start as early as she could have, that she was ill. I like it.

    Why did I feel so anxious? I’d been waiting for this day since I was a little kid. My parents told me countless stories about their adventures while I was growing up– about how they met all of their Pokemon (and each other), about all the places they traveled to, all the gym matches and tournaments they battled in, about all their encounters with the “evil” Team Rocket.” I’d make them repeat my favorite ones over and over (especially the one about how my dad won his first Pokemon League), and dream about having my own adventures. What kind of Pokemon would I train? What region would I journey through? What kind of people would I meet? I spent hours imagining it all and couldn’t wait to leave home.
    An extra quote mark after Rocket.

    Satsumi's thoughts are so well expressed here that I feel right in her shoes right now. I'm very impressed; getting the reader into the character's emotions this well is not easy.

    But my dreams got put on hold. I was born two and a half months too early, and was sickly for most of my childhood. Fevers, ear infections, and (worst of all), respitory infections– it seemed like there was always something wrong with me. My parents and I hoped I’d be better by the time I turned ten, the age when most kids start their journeys. And I was; at least, I wasn’t sick as often, and when I was, it wasn’t as serious (though I was still small for my age). But my doctor said I still wasn’t healthy enough to travel on my own. My tenth birthday was miserable, and not just because I had a fever. All the other kids my age got to start their journeys; I loved Pokemon just as much as they did, but just because I got sick sometimes... it wasn’t fair! Nothing my parents did to cheer me up worked. They told me, maybe I’d be well enough next year;

    “No, I won’t,” I sobbed, “I’ll always be sick, and I’ll never get to be a Pokemon trainer!"
    I certainly sympathize with her. Her illness sounds very serious.

    I said it because I was frustrated and upset, but really, I hoped my parents were right. When they weren’t, I started to give up. It seemed like I was just doomed, Pokemon-wise. But now that my chance had finally come...

    “It’s ok if you don’t want to leave just yet,” my mom said.

    I looked at her and shook my head, scolding myself for letting her see me worry.

    “It’s not that, this is really great; thank you so much! I was just surprised, is all.”

    She smiled warmly at me and tucked my hair behind my ear.

    “Ok. But you don’t have to rush things, you know; take as long as you need to feel ready. One more year won’t–”

    “Mo-om, I’m fine!!” I said, pretending to be annoyed.
    She really is her mother's daughter.

    She laughed and said “Ok, ok! But I wanted to tell you that, anyway. Especially since...”

    That’s what was bothering me: I was worried about my dad; I couldn’t leave home without knowing he was safe.
    Interesting. It's one of two ways this could have gone, the other being her wanting to go look for him.

    “It’ll be ok, Mom,” I said, trying to sound casual, “Dad’ll definitely be home before then.”
    My mom put her smile back on and said “I’m sure you’re right.” We both tried to believe that I was.
    Oh dear, that is quite sad.

    My mom had contacted the authorities in Eternia City the day after my birthday, but they couldn’t find my dad. The police started an investigation, interviewed my mom, Professor Ookido, talked to people in the area where he’d disappeared. He’d been seen there, at least. The archeologists at the site said that he’d been there a week ago, wanting to explore the ruins. They hadn’t allowed him in, and he’d gone back to his hotel in the city after a short argument. All his stuff was still there. But my dad had just disappeared. No one had seen him after that night; they had no idea where he’d gone. The police wanted to investigate the ruins, see if he’d been there, but first they needed a permit; it would take days for them to get one.
    Knowing Ash, he went in the ruins anyway. That's my guess.

    With every day that passed, I lost a little more hope. Every night, I cried alone in my bed, trying not to imagine what had happened to my dad. What if he was sick somewhere? What if he’d been kidnapped? That didn’t seem likely, not when he had Pikachu and his other Pokemon. But they’d disappeared with him. I wished Pikachu were sleeping curled up next to me, the way he always did when I was sick or sad. I hugged my Clefairy doll tight instead, but it wasn’t the same. I wanted to crawl in bed with my mom like I used to whenever I had a nightmare, but I couldn’t let her know that I could hear her crying. I’d never felt so alone in my life.

    Waiting to hear something about my dad was driving me crazy. The day for new trainers to leave on their Pokemon journeys was getting closer and closer, but I couldn’t leave without him there, could I? Everything was so wrong, it wasn’t the right time. But that was an excuse; I was really just afraid. After all, what could I do against something that even my dad couldn’t handle? But sitting around waiting for the phone to ring wasn’t helping anything, and I knew deep down that I should be doing everything I could to find him. My dad’d always been there when I needed him. Like the time when I was little and I got really, really sick, the sickest I’ve ever been. He was away at the Pokemon League finals, going for his third title. But when I woke up in the hospital, he was right there holding my hand, looking down at me and stroking my hair. He’d stayed home for a couple of years after that, to make sure I was ok. My dad would do anything for me. And now that it was my turn to help him, I couldn’t let him down. So I decided– I’d leave on my Pokemon journey, and I’d find my dad, no matter what.
    That is such a great set of paragraphs to go out on. They really encapsulate everything that was enjoyable about this chapter - the strong characterization, the raw, intense emotion, all of it. I am truly compelled by Satsumi's story.

    And now to the review criteria!

    Opening: Very strong. It tells exactly what we need to know about Satsumi and her situation. I do feel that her illness could have been better established in the actual story instead of in an outside paragraph. That is the only fault I can give the opening.

    Ending: Absolutely excellent. I actually found myself near tears, no kidding. I can truly sympathize with Satsumi; it is obvious her father's disappearance affected her greatly, and the ending is the strongest example. The attention to detail in the ending is truly perfect for what it must accomplish.

    Grammar: Solid. I have only seen two issues: the extra quotation mark, and the use of "dad'd" near the end, which is very awkward. Otherwise the writing style is very, very strong.

    Enjoyment: I can't say enough how much I liked this. I'll admit, I was unsure how I thought I would feel when I began. I was totally surprised by how good this was.

    Plot: A little on the standard side, admittedly. However, you execute the "lost father, devastated family" story well, so it works. I actually find them much more interesting than I thought I would get for what seemed like an Ash/Misty fic at first.

    Pace: Pacing is perfect. No further comments necessary.

    Characters: The best part in a strong fic. Satsumi is truly compelling, which caught me entirely by surprise for the OC child of two canon characters. Her story is very brutally emotional even only one chapter in, and I was able to put myself in her shoes completely, which made it even more intense. Misty is portrayed well, too; I admire that you didn't go for the standard weepy widow story with her.

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  8. #8
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    You really should work this into the story proper. I'm not terribly bothered by it, but that's just a recommendation of mine.
    Heh, yeah, I'm working on it. It'll probably come in bit by bit, finishing in chapter 2.

    I like this, it's a very strong start. The first-person perspective (which I assume is Satsumi's) serves what you've written well, and the actual content is actually emotionally difficult to read. This is very well depicted. I get the crystal clear image of a young girl who knows something is wrong with her world and is very aware of her mother's attempts to hide that.
    That makes me so happy to hear! Getting across Satsumi's characterization is what's most important to me here.

    It's interesting to show Satsumi struggling and acting that nothing is wrong, too. It makes the story a little less straightforward and predictable.

    I assume the father is Ash/Satoshi and the mother is Misty/Kasumi, based on Satsumi's name and the description of the father's personality.
    Thanks! You are correct.

    I have to admit I feel a little awkward about reading very Japanese names. Again, it's not a complaint, but just something I thought.

    I like how perceptive Satsumi is. The emotions of those around her are clearly very strong, and her thoughts as she processes them are fascinating.

    The storyline of ancient ruins is something I love. I'm definitely into that.
    Yeah, to be honest, I feel like a bit of a Weeaboo using Japanese names... actually, I AM kind of a Weeaboo, but I don't want that to come through in my writing. I thought about changing them, because honestly, "Satsumi" is the most obvious and cutesy name you could use for Ash and Misty's daughter. I wasn't serious when I came up with the character... but then I was, and it was too late to change the name. I thought about making an English version name... one of the kanji combinations for that name, which is the one I chose, is so perfect for her personality and personal struggles: 咲摘 ("sa," [blossom] and "tsumi" [pluck]). Finding something with a meaning that has the same symbolism would be hard... but there's also an ambiguity there that'd probably be lost, and... Yeah, I decided to just stick with what I had.

    Glad you're interested in the plot, though; it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do with it.

    Yeah, Ash, you have actually. Pidgeot says hi.
    Oh, yeah, that... But in this case, he meant specifically his promise to her.

    I know I keep saying it, but the emotions are excellent. I really feel for Satsumi here. The emotions are strong and yet believable.
    That one really broke my heart, it really did. You can truly feel how hurt Satsumi is even though she's trying to hide it.

    I find it interesting that you are refraining from explicitly naming Ash and Misty.
    Once again, I'm so glad the emotions are getting through. Oh, I haven't named them because it doesn't occur to Satsumi to name them. God, that sounds so pretentious... I just mean that to her, they're mom and dad. Ash and Misty are famous in certain circles in this world, but they're not like movie-star level celebrity. I felt, too, like mentioning their names would seem like name-dropping for readers. Who her parents are will come up later; I just didn't want to force it in.

    Ah, right, I almost forgot about her illness. I do suspect it will come up when she goes on her journey for real, though.

    This is a good reason why she didn't necessarily start as early as she could have, that she was ill. I like it.
    Thanks! It was kind of a happy accident that that worked for the plot, as it's mostly a characterization point for me.

    She really is her mother's daughter.
    I'm glad you see that! Satsumi is different from her parents in a lot of ways, so I thought it might not be obvious... but she's still got a lot in common with them.

    That is such a great set of paragraphs to go out on. They really encapsulate everything that was enjoyable about this chapter - the strong characterization, the raw, intense emotion, all of it. I am truly compelled by Satsumi's story.

    And now to the review criteria!

    Opening: Very strong. It tells exactly what we need to know about Satsumi and her situation. I do feel that her illness could have been better established in the actual story instead of in an outside paragraph. That is the only fault I can give the opening.

    Ending: Absolutely excellent. I actually found myself near tears, no kidding. I can truly sympathize with Satsumi; it is obvious her father's disappearance affected her greatly, and the ending is the strongest example. The attention to detail in the ending is truly perfect for what it must accomplish.

    Grammar: Solid. I have only seen two issues: the extra quotation mark, and the use of "dad'd" near the end, which is very awkward. Otherwise the writing style is very, very strong.

    Enjoyment: I can't say enough how much I liked this. I'll admit, I was unsure how I thought I would feel when I began. I was totally surprised by how good this was.

    Plot: A little on the standard side, admittedly. However, you execute the "lost father, devastated family" story well, so it works. I actually find them much more interesting than I thought I would get for what seemed like an Ash/Misty fic at first.

    Pace: Pacing is perfect. No further comments necessary.

    Characters: The best part in a strong fic. Satsumi is truly compelling, which caught me entirely by surprise for the OC child of two canon characters. Her story is very brutally emotional even only one chapter in, and I was able to put myself in her shoes completely, which made it even more intense. Misty is portrayed well, too; I admire that you didn't go for the standard weepy widow story with her.
    Opening: Thanks! As for working in her illness... Yeah, I wanted to work that in better. I was having trouble doing it in voice, because to Satsumi, it's not that important. I mean, it's important, but with everything going on, it's not the first thing she'd mention.

    Ending: Aah, still really happy you feel that way about it!

    Grammar: Thanks for pointing those things out, I'll edit them.

    Enjoyment: Thanks! I'm so glad!

    Plot: I don't mind it being kind of standard; the focus here is all about characterization and relationships, so as long as it's not boring. I've got the plot about 75% worked out... working on the other 25%. But I'm happy with where it's going.

    Pace: Good, I was a little worried about that.

    Characters: Thanks again! Honestly, I was surprised by that, too. I came up with Satsumi just for fun, as a Pokeshipper, and then... I ended up getting more involved with her and the person I pair her up with than with Pokeshipping *Head-desk* But yeah, the characters I'm writing about here are really important to me, especially Satsumi, so... seriously, you don't know how happy it makes me that you're on board with them. Oh, and I'm glad Misty came through well, too; I haven't been so focused on her lately, but she's still an important character to me... and for once I didn't feel entirely sure about how I was writing her. So, good to hear.
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  9. #9
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    Interlude

    Mira is angry with me for being angry with her; she says I’m being selfish. After all, she has a family here, other friends, an intended; how can I expect her to leave them all behind and come with me to Mubahk? I’m being unfair, she says. Well, I think it’s unfair that I’m to be married off to the prince of a kingdom at the edge of civilization, miles and miles away from everything I’ve ever known, with no one, not even my lady’s maid, to accompany me. I’ve known Mira since we were children, and I thought we were best friends. I thought she was the one person who’d stay with me no matter what. But I suppose I was the only one who thought that.

    Arcanine senses my despondency and nuzzles my face with his huge head. I smile and stroke the fur on his nose.

    “At least I’ll still have you,” I say.

    And at least I still have six more months at home. I should try to forget about my marriage and enjoy what little time I have left here. I lie back in Arcanine’s soft, warm fur as if he were a pillow. With my head turned toward the sky like this, the ziggurat looms in my vision; the midday sun makes the white stone glitter so blindingly that I have to close my eyes. I know it’s only a trick of the light, but sometimes when I look at it towering above me, it seems as if it’s about to topple and crush the whole palace. It frightens me sometimes. Ever since I was a child, I’ve felt a strange force from the ziggurat, pulling on me, as if it were constantly watching me from behind. At least in Mubahk, I’ll be able to escape that thing.

    The heat is making me drowsy, but a cool breeze keeps it from being unbearable. I could lie here like this all day. After a while, I feel myself drifting off. But suddenly, Arcanine turns his head to the left, the movement rousing me. I sit up and follow his gaze to see Sena wandering toward me on the garden path, head bent, hands clasped behind his back. He’s about twenty paces from where Arcanine and I sit beneath the Pomeg tree, but he hasn’t noticed me yet. He’s frowning, as usual.

    Sena’s not much older than me, but in the months I’ve known him, I don’t think I’ve seen him smile once (it’s a shame, if he weren’t so dour, he wouldn’t be bad to look at, with his pale skin and dark eyes and hair). What’s he got to be so unhappy about? My father brought him to Urutu, the richest, most beautiful city on Earth, to be a scribe and record the stories of his people on parchment. Just being among the scholars chosen to do the writing for my father’s library was a great honor, but he also gave Sena spacious quarters in the palace, all the writing supplies he needs, the finest cotton robes to wear. And yet... My father can’t see it, but to me, it’s obvious that Sena hates us, the ingrate.

    When he’s about ten paces away, Arcanine begins a deep growl, and Sena finally looks up and sees me. It pleases me to see his eyes go wide as he realizes he’s failed to show me the proper reverence.

    He goes down on one knee and bows before me, saying, “Please pardon me for disturbing me, Your Highness.”

    “You’re pardoned,” I say, enjoying his nervousness.

    I pat Arcanine on the head, silencing him. He lays his head on his paws, but keeps his eyes locked on Sena.

    “You may rise,” I say to Sena.

    He does so. He’s trying not to look at Arcanine, but his eyes keep darting back to him.

    “Don’t worry,” I say, “Arcanine won’t attack without my permission.”

    “Well, then. I suppose I have nothing to fear.”

    Sena gives a polite smile, but it’s strained and obviously false. I smile back easily.

    “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it, Sena?” I say.

    “Every day is a beautiful day in Urutu, Your Highness,” he replies, which is true, but I can tell he doesn’t mean it.

    “Well spoken. Tell me, what do you think of our garden?”

    Sena looks him and says, “It’s wonderful; we have nothing like it in Shul.”

    “Oh, don’t you?”

    Of course they don’t; Shul is a wasteland of dust and burning sun. Sena knows I know this.

    “I’m afraid not, Your Highness,” he says politely, but with a hard look in his eyes.

    I smile and say, “Well, perhaps my brother will fix that when he becomes Pokemon Emperor.”

    “Perhaps,” says Sena, though we both know it’ll never happen.

    The people of Shul are fiercely territorial and have been trouble-makers since the first Pokemon Emperor, Alulim, hundreds of years ago. Alulim wanted only to bring water and greenery to their parched land, but they refused out of sheer pride. No wonder Sena is the way he is; it’s in his blood.

    “By the way, Your Highness, did you remember that you’re having your first lesson tomorrow?”

    Lesson? What lesson? What is he talking about?

    Sena’s brows rise when he sees the blank expression on my face, and he says “Didn’t His Majesty tell you? I’m to tutor you on the myths and legends of the Empire.”

    My eyes go wide before I can even try to hide my shock, but I take a breath and try to collect myself.

    “So...
    you’re... to be my tutor?”

    Sena smiles almost imperceptibly at my dismay as he says “That is what his majesty told me.”

    Arcanine wants to barr his teeth at him, but I stop him as I try to stop my own face from showing my rage. I did tell my father that I wanted to be tutored. There’s little else for me to do lately, now that Mira and I aren’t speaking. And I thought it would please him. He wants so much for his children to be educated, to know our own history, as well as the cultures of the people in his empire. Or at least, that’s what I thought. But it’s really only my brother’s education that he cares about, isn’t it? I was a fool to expect a tutor equal to my brother's. After all, he will one day rule this Empire, while I’m just a girl; what does it matter whether I’m educated? No, an untitled foreigner from a barren land is more than good enough for me. There’s no point in even asking my father for a better one.

    I wish I could refuse. But if I do, I’ll look like a fool to both Sena and my father.

    So I cross my arms, smile, and say “Perfect. When do we begin?”
    Last edited by Hakajin; 12th July 2014 at 11:15 PM.
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  10. #10
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    I knew something was wrong when he didn’t come home for my birthday.
    You might want to make it clear who "he" is. Anyone who reads the description knows, but if not... the reader might be lost.

    My mom said it was nothing: “Maybe he just forgot what day it is; you know how absent-minded your dad can be”– but I could tell she was only trying to make me feel better.
    Weird punctuation going on here. Remove the colon, put a period. You can start a sentence with "but," so do that, just don't do it often.

    She pretended that everything was fine, that there was nothing wrong with sitting at a table for two at my favorite restaurant, or with putting a third of my cake back in the fridge, or with actually being able to hear the funny parts of my favorite movie because no one was laughing too loud.
    Good description of the father's absence. I like it.

    When I answered the door, he mussed my hair and said “Hey, Short Stuff,” like always, but he didn’t stop to talk to me, just asked where my dad was.
    Cute, but it needs a comma after "said".

    I led him into the kitchen, where my dad was crouched down putting down food bowls Pikachu and his other Pokemon.
    You're missing a word in there.

    When my mom asked what kind of business, he shrugged and said “Some archeologists just finished digging up some ruins over in the Nirakar Region. Shigeru wants me to go check it out.”
    Comma after said again.

    “You like it?” She said with a laugh in her voice. “Your dad and I picked it out weeks ago; we think you’re finally ready to begin your Pokemon journey.”
    Don't capitalize "she". From now on I'm not going to point out dialogue tag issues. I would suggest proofreading before posting or getting a beta if you're not sure about grammar.

    After all, she has a family here, other friends, an intended; how can I expect her to leave them all behind and come with me to Mubahk?
    What's "an intended"?

    Arcanine senses my despondency and nuzzles my face with his huge head. I smile and stroke the fur on his nose.

    “At least I’ll still have you,” I say.
    Ugh, Arcanine is always a cute pokemon to use. I like the imagery here.

    I sit up and follow his gaze to see Sena wandering toward me on the garden path, head bent, hands clasped behind his back. He’s about twenty paces from where Arcanine and I sit beneath the Pomeg tree, but he hasn’t noticed me yet. He’s frowning, as usual.
    From your description I can already tell what kind of character this is. Good on your part.

    I wish I could refuse. But if I do, I’ll look like a fool to both Sena and my father.

    So I cross my arms, smile, and say “Perfect. When do we begin?”
    Overall the characterization is solid, though I don't see Sena's disdain in his dialogue. He sounds like a servant under royalty normally would, which is probably your intention, so good job on that. The dialogue between them was well written for the two characters at hand. Seems like small talk, though it does have a point to it and establishes character roles. My only complaint is that with the first person, Your Highness and Satsumi sound pretty similar. I'm assuming they're not the same person at all, but they sound similar: both want to please parents, has lost someone close to her, similar dialogue patterns (aside from making small royalty talk, which falters a bit in places like this: “Don’t worry,” I say, “Arcanine won’t attack unless I say so"). Perhaps try: "Do not worry. Arcanine will not attack unless I tell him to." A person of royalty would probably speak pretty formally, and it should show in the first person narrative as well.

    As for the prologue, I like Satsumi. Her worry shows clearly, and I like the reason for her starting her pokemon journey late. I don't particularly enjoy reading about younger 10 year olds; I like when trainers start later. I have a feeling, however, that her constant worry will tear at her immune system and make her sick again. Keep that in mind. Worry and stress like this does have physical effects, as well as worse mental ones, if exposed to during a long period of time.

    It's a gripping beginning and I'm intrigued by the interlude as well, even though the plot is something I've heard before. That's because your writing style (particularly your emotional description) is spot on and compelling. My only complaint is grammar, which I pointed out already.

    Since we are doing a review exchange and my fic is much longer, feel free to ask me to beta before you release a chapter. I don't mind doing this for you to make up for the short-ish review. Also, if you want me to comment on anything else, let me know.

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    | this trainer is different. everyone knows it, but no one can explain it. |
    | complete |


    | flying in the dark |
    | he's hiding something. she just doesn't know it. |
    | on hiatus|


    | love and other nightmares |
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  11. #11
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    You might want to make it clear who "he" is. Anyone who reads the description knows, but if not... the reader might be lost.
    Oh, it's intentionally ambiguous; the point is to make the reader curious about who "he" is. It's sort of a genre technique, which I tend to shy away from... but I thought it was appropriate for the character I'm writing.

    Weird punctuation going on here. Remove the colon, put a period. You can start a sentence with "but," so do that, just don't do it often.
    Oh, that's a semi-colon; it's used to connect two independent clauses that are related in topic. Like... well, like the previous sentence. As for "but," I think it's fine as long as it doesn't sound awkward. Sorry, I feel like I'm correcting you... it's just that I'm trying to write this in common usage. Like I said in my review description on the review exchange page, I'm a firm believer in the idea that rules describe common usage, and aren't a mold that language should fit into. So, as long as it doesn't sound awkward, I'm fine with it.

    Good description of the father's absence. I like it.
    Thanks! I wasn't sure whether that part sounded awkward or not.

    Cute, but it needs a comma after "said".
    Hm... I'm kind of conflicted over whether to add a comma there. A comma reflects a pause, and there really isn't one here. At least, not when I hear it in my head. But maybe most people would read it with a pause? Well, I suppose part of whether they do has to do with whether there's a comma there, which is why I left it out, but... I wonder if that sounds weird. I think what most people do when quoting someone is change their pitch or tone a bit, but there's not a good way to indicate in writing... Now that I think about it, I guess most people do indicate that with a comma. So I guess I'll change it!

    You're missing a word in there.
    Oh, thanks for pointing that out.

    Don't capitalize "she". From now on I'm not going to point out dialogue tag issues. I would suggest proofreading before posting or getting a beta if you're not sure about grammar.
    That I will change.

    What's "an intended"?
    An intended is a fiancee.

    Ugh, Arcanine is always a cute pokemon to use. I like the imagery here.
    Thanks!

    From your description I can already tell what kind of character this is. Good on your part.
    Thank you!

    Overall the characterization is solid, though I don't see Sena's disdain in his dialogue. He sounds like a servant under royalty normally would, which is probably your intention, so good job on that. The dialogue between them was well written for the two characters at hand. Seems like small talk, though it does have a point to it and establishes character roles.
    Well, he's not really a servant, but he is of a much lower social status. Yeah, my intention here is that he really can't say what he thinks because of that. Innanna (the first person character) is toying with him; she knows he doesn't like her and is amused by forcing him to have a pleasant conversation. Maybe it wasn't clear from the context?

    My only complaint is that with the first person, Your Highness and Satsumi sound pretty similar. I'm assuming they're not the same person at all, but they sound similar: both want to please parents, has lost someone close to her, similar dialogue patterns (aside from making small royalty talk, which falters a bit in places like this: “Don’t worry,” I say, “Arcanine won’t attack unless I say so"). Perhaps try: "Do not worry. Arcanine will not attack unless I tell him to." A person of royalty would probably speak pretty formally, and it should show in the first person narrative as well.
    Really? They're not, and they do have some similarities-- that's intentional. But Innanna has a different attitude and way of treating other people. Her relationship with her father is also a lot different, though she would like to please him. I wonder... if the problem here is that there are certain aspects of Satsumi's character that haven't come across yet, because so far I haven't shown her interacting much with other people. I've shown her with her mom, but that's someone she's very close to and familiar with. As for similar dialogue patterns... I wonder how I can change the sentence structure? Like, sentence length, use of dependent clauses, that kind of thing. I use a larger vocabulary with Innanna, so I feel like sentence structure is where a lot of that similarity is coming from. As for formality... Well, Innanna is royalty, but there are different levels of formality; she wouldn't be as formal with a commoner like Sena as she would be with, say, her father. Actually, now that I think about it, Sena is being more formal than she is, because he's obligated to be polite to her. Anyway, relative lack of formality also applies to Innanna's narration, since she wouldn't filter her own inner voice. Um... I don't want to eliminate contractions, because they're a natural part of speech that would only be edited out in... almost ceremonial situations, I'd say. ...Now that I think about it, though, I did drop some contractions with Sena's speech for that very reason. Huh. That's interesting; I wasn't really thinking about it when I wrote it. Anyway, I could definitely write that sentence more formally... It's just that I don't want to overdo it, because that would come off as false, like I was trying too hard to write formally. Basically, I want Innanna to sound like she's well-educated and of high status, but also like she's having a casual conversation without trying to sound formal. Yeah, that's it.

    ...Ugh, sorry, I feel like I sound like a snob or like I can't take criticism or something. It's just that... I don't want to not change things without explaining why I'm not changing them, you know? I mean, I just wanted to offer my opinion on it; feel free to say so if you disagree.

    As for the prologue, I like Satsumi. Her worry shows clearly, and I like the reason for her starting her pokemon journey late. I don't particularly enjoy reading about younger 10 year olds; I like when trainers start later. I have a feeling, however, that her constant worry will tear at her immune system and make her sick again. Keep that in mind. Worry and stress like this does have physical effects, as well as worse mental ones, if exposed to during a long period of time.
    Thank you! I'm sooo glad you like Satsumi and are interested in her problems. Yeah, don't I know it (personal experience)! That's something I'm definitely considering bringing into play.

    It's a gripping beginning and I'm intrigued by the interlude as well, even though the plot is something I've heard before. That's because your writing style (particularly your emotional description) is spot on and compelling. My only complaint is grammar, which I pointed out already.
    Thanks! I was worried the pacing might be too slow at first. And thanks again! Voice is something that's really important in this fic, so I'm glad you feel like I got that right.

    Since we are doing a review exchange and my fic is much longer, feel free to ask me to beta before you release a chapter. I don't mind doing this for you to make up for the short-ish review. Also, if you want me to comment on anything else, let me know.
    I'd love that, thanks for offering! I didn't think it was a short review, though. Ok, I will. Really appreciate it!
    Last edited by Hakajin; 10th July 2014 at 12:18 AM.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hakajin View Post
    Prologue (Pt. 2)

    Every time I thought about leaving home, I felt anxious and sick, and I almost wanted to just get it over with. But the next few days just crawled by. To distract myself, I studied up on the Nirakar Region in a book on my dad’s shelf. It didn’t help much, because it kept reminding me of him, but at least it felt like I was doing something. Maybe that temple or whatever had something to do with his disappearance; maybe I’d find some kind of clue in what I was reading.
    Good to see her being proactive and trying to learn about where her father went.

    I learned that Nirakar is an arid region northwest of Kanto, across the sea. Much of it is desert, but the river that flows from the mountain in the North makes civilization possible; there are both big cities and small towns.

    Historians from thousands of years ago wrote down legends of a great city, Paradisio, in the middle of the Nirakar Desert. Paradisio had tall buildings made of glittering stone; a man-made lake and canals; beautiful gardens with fountains. But they didn’t know where the city was, exactly, who the people were or where they had gone.
    This sounds like quite a beautiful visual, and I'm always up for myths like this. Well done so far on this regard.

    For a long time, modern historians thought Paradisio was just a story. Apparently, historians from a long time ago often exaggerated and wrote down strange rumors as fact. There were no ruins in the Nirakar Desert. The story was impossible, anyway—how could anyone build a civilization in such a dry place? How could they build such huge structures? How could they have used this “glittering stone” when there was nothing like that for miles and miles around? But lots of people still believed in it. They kept looking for it.
    Not to blow my own horn, but I wrote a story a while ago about a lost treasure and city with elements similar to this. Exploration and treasure hunting and mythology are all things I'm really into, so it goes without saying that I'm very much into learning more about the civilization here.

    And then, fifty years ago, someone found something. It was just a stone sticking out of the ground, but it was long, square, and pointy, obviously carved by someone. The stone turned out to be the top of a spire from a grand palace. At the time my dad’s book was published two years ago, they were finished with everything but the temple (which my book says is called a “ziggurat”). Most of the buildings had crumbled and the lake and canals were dry, but it had once been exactly as the ancient historians had said.
    One question I have immediately is, if the city was buried underground and had a visible element (the stone) above ground, why did it take so long to find?

    That said, still very much liking this.

    But even today, no one has been able to figure out who built the city or how they did it. There have been lots of theories– maybe the lake was fed from an underground water source, maybe they used Pokemon to build, maybe it was aliens– but none of them have worked to explain the city (well, except for the one about the aliens, but no one really takes that seriously). There’s no evidence in the soil that there was ever a natural water source. And no tools for capturing Pokemon have been found. None of it makes any sense. There is writing in the ruins that might have the answers, but so far no one has been able to translate it. But linguists keep trying. Some are convinced that there’s a great power hidden in the ancient city.
    A lot of potential here. I bet there might be more to the aliens theory than meets the eye at first, and I am certain there is a great power. It is probably connected to Ash's disappearance.

    It all sounded like exactly the kind of thing my dad would get himself involved in. Like the time he saved the world from a ruthless Pokemon collector (I was five, sick with another ear infection, when my parents first told me that story. I remember lying on the sofa with my head in my mom’s lap and my feet in my dad’s, as they told me about arriving on the island just as the people were celebrating the legend of an ancient prophecy, how my dad started out playing the role of the hero, then had to brave a fierce storm to collect the three orbs of power and help Lugia tame the legendary birds of fire, ice, and lightning). Yeah, if I wanted to find my dad, the Paradisio ruins were definitely the place to start.
    Oh wow, nice integration of the second movie. I like it.

    Two days before I left on my Pokemon journey, I lay on my stomach on my bed, my head propped up in one hand and my book in the other, rereading the part about the ruins.

    All of a sudden I heard “What are you reading, Satsumi?”

    I snapped the book closed and laid my arm across the cover, but the look on my mom’s face said she already knew the answer to her question. If I’d known she could read the title from where she stood in the hall, I would’ve closed my door.
    The dynamic between Satsumi and Misty is truly interesting. You can see Misty trying to hold it together for the sake of herself and her family, while Satsumi bristles under her mother's watch in her desperation to find her father.

    “Nothing,” I said, sitting up “I mean, nothing really interesting.”

    My mom walked into my room and bent over to pick up my book.

    “Nirakar Then and Now” she read, sitting down beside me. Her smile faltered, but her voice was still steady when she asked “Are you reading this because of your dad?”
    Misty's pain here is really palpable. You're good at conveying emotions with minimal words.

    I nodded. There was no point in lying; she wouldn’t believe me if I said no. I stared at my feet, which still didn’t quite touch the floor when I sat on my bed, and said “I’m... actually thinking of traveling there on my Pokemon journey.”

    My face felt hot. I could feel my mom’s eyes on me, and I wished she’d say something. I hadn’t meant for her to find out this way. Not that I’d been hiding it from her, exactly... I’d just been waiting for the right time. Only, it never seemed to come. So maybe it was better this way.

    “I hope you’re not planning to go looking for him,” my mom said finally.
    It's very understandable that Misty would have hesitated before reacting to that. She doesn't need to lose another family member to Nirakar.

    “I’m not!” I said, facing her. “Nirakar seems like an interesting region, I want to see it for myself!.”
    Satsumi's not such a great liar.

    Also, you had an extra period after the exclamation point at the end.

    My mom studied me carefully, and I had to look away. I knew she was too smart to be fooled by that, but I hadn’t had time to think of an answer. I took a deep breath and started over.

    “Actually... I do want to know more about the ruins. I need to try to find out what happened. And... I think I’d feel closer to him there.”

    That was the truth, even if it wasn’t the whole truth. My mom hugged me tight, and I laid my head on her shoulder.

    “You’re such a good girl, Satsumi,” she said. “You’ve grown up so much.”

    After a moment, she released me, but kept one arm around my shoulders. She looked into my face and tucked my hair behind my ear, as she said “But you’re still a kid. I don’t want you getting involved in anything dangerous.”

    You and Dad did all kinds of dangerous stuff when you were kids, I thought.
    An apt response from Satsumi.

    “I know, your dad and me did all kinds of dangerous stuff when we were kids,” my mom said with a strained smile. “That’s why I worry about you. I know a lot can happen on a Pokemon journey, even when you’re not looking for trouble, and...Thinking of you getting involved in the kind of things as we did terrifies me.”

    I leaned into her and wrapped my arms around her waist, and she pulled me close to her again.

    “It’s ok, Mom,” I said. “I’m not gonna look for dad, and I’m not gonna do anything dangerous. I promise.”

    “Ok,” she said, “I believe you.”
    Misty, that's your big mistake...

    My chest felt tight, and I had to fight back tears. I hated lying to my mom. But there was no point in making her worry, and I had to do this. Maybe I wouldn’t even have to break my promise. Maybe my dad wasn’t involved with anything dangerous at all, maybe it was all a misunderstanding, and he’d turn up before I even left for my Pokemon journey. I closed my eyes tight and willed it to happen.
    Oh dear, another emotionally rough ending. Satsumi's wishes aren't going to come true, she's going to get into danger... all of that is very clear, and it hurts to know it.

    A great chapter that certainly holds up the pace of the first one, I'd say. If I had to raise one issue, it's that Misty believed Satsumi's "promise" not to look for Ash, but that's not too much of a fault.
    Last edited by The Great Butler; 12th July 2014 at 5:55 AM.

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  13. #13
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    One question I have immediately is, if the city was buried underground and had a visible element (the stone) above ground, why did it take so long to find?

    That said, still very much liking this.
    Ah, it wasn't always visible; the sand in the desert had receded due to shifting wind patterns. I should probably explain that at some point... I've definitely got somewhere I can work it in.

    Oh wow, nice integration of the second movie. I like it.
    Thanks! I really wanted to work that scene in somewhere, because I wanted to show their family dynamic, how secure Satsumi feels with her parents, and how much they treasure her.

    The dynamic between Satsumi and Misty is truly interesting. You can see Misty trying to hold it together for the sake of herself and her family, while Satsumi bristles under her mother's watch in her desperation to find her father.
    Thanks! I'm glad you think I was able to convey that well.

    Misty's pain here is really palpable. You're good at conveying emotions with minimal words.
    Thank you! I try to insinuate rather than state.

    Satsumi's not such a great liar.

    Also, you had an extra period after the exclamation point at the end.
    No, she's not. Oh, thanks for catching that, I'll fix it.

    Oh dear, another emotionally rough ending. Satsumi's wishes aren't going to come true, she's going to get into danger... all of that is very clear, and it hurts to know it.

    A great chapter that certainly holds up the pace of the first one, I'd say. If I had to raise one issue, it's that Misty believed Satsumi's "promise" not to look for Ash, but that's not too much of a fault.
    Aw, I'm glad it reached you... but, though it'll be hard for her, not everything will be bad.

    You're right, she did believe it too easily. I'm going to change it so it's more ambiguous what she's thinking.
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  14. #14
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    I'm really enjoying this story so far, you've created an incredibly intriguing beginning and I'm very impressed. The interactions between characters is well-crafted and believable, and you seem to be able to convey emotions and feelings in speech really well, where other writers would just outright explain it. If there is one thing I would change, and this is entirely up to you.

    “Oh, don’t you?”

    Of course they don’t; Shul is a wasteland of dust and burning sun. Sena knows I know this.

    “I’m afraid not, Your Highness,” he says politely, but with a hard look in his eyes.
    I would change scenes like this so the only break is between another person speaking, it just seems a little choppy as it was before, but once again it's a personal preference.

    “Oh, don’t you?” Of course they don’t; Shul is a wasteland of dust and burning sun. Sena knows I know this.

    “I’m afraid not, Your Highness,” he says politely, but with a hard look in his eyes.
    Anyway, I'm eagerly awaiting the next chapter.
    Last edited by DMerle; 14th July 2014 at 4:00 PM.

  15. #15
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    I'm really enjoying this story so far, you've created an incredibly intriguing beginning and I'm very impressed. The interactions between characters is well-crafted and believable, and you seem to be able to convey emotions and feelings in speech really well, where other writers would just outright explain it. If there is one thing I would change, and this is entirely up to you.
    Thank you! The characters and interactions are what's most important to me here; they're the reason I'm writing this. Oh, showing and not telling is... well, some of it I picked up from creative writing classes, and some of it came from reading books (it's something I came to admire)... and some of it comes from reading manga. A lot is implied through facial expression and body language in manga, and at some point I noticed a focus on that in my own writing. I think it changed how I visualize things.

    I would change scenes like this so the only break is between another person speaking, it just seems a little choppy as it was before, but once again it's a personal preference.
    Ok, I might change that... I want to do whatever's most readable to most people.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hakajin View Post
    Interlude

    Mira is angry with me for being angry with her; she says I’m being selfish. After all, she has a family here, other friends, an intended; how can I expect her to leave them all behind and come with me to Mubahk? I’m being unfair, she says. Well, I think it’s unfair that I’m to be married off to the prince of a kingdom at the edge of civilization, miles and miles away from everything I’ve ever known, with no one, not even my lady’s maid, to accompany me. I’ve known Mira since we were children, and I thought we were best friends. I thought she was the one person who’d stay with me no matter what. But I suppose I was the only one who thought that.


    Hm, this looks interesting, but I have to admit I feel a little alienated jumping into something so different from what was going on before. Obviously this interlude will dovetail with Satsumi's story, so it's just something I need to get used to.

    That said, I think this plot has some interesting potential. The impression I get is that this is somehow related to the ancient society of Nirakar that was brought up prior.

    Arcanine senses my despondency and nuzzles my face with his huge head. I smile and stroke the fur on his nose.

    “At least I’ll still have you,” I say.

    And at least I still have six more months at home. I should try to forget about my marriage and enjoy what little time I have left here. I lie back in Arcanine’s soft, warm fur as if he were a pillow. With my head turned toward the sky like this, the ziggurat looms in my vision; the midday sun makes the white stone glitter so blindingly that I have to close my eyes. I know it’s only a trick of the light, but sometimes when I look at it towering above me, it seems as if it’s about to topple and crush the whole palace. It frightens me sometimes. Ever since I was a child, I’ve felt a strange force from the ziggurat, pulling on me, as if it were constantly watching me from behind. At least in Mubahk, I’ll be able to escape that thing.
    Yeah, I think this confirms the link to the ancient society. I'm definitely invested now.

    I notice a really distinctive descriptive technique here that I'm quite enjoying. I can easily visualize what this setting looks like, which gives me the imagery of a classic ancient civilization. Perhaps it has a flavor of ancient Egypt, I think? I can see her standing in a sort of desert-like area outside the ziggurat.

    The heat is making me drowsy, but a cool breeze keeps it from being unbearable. I could lie here like this all day. After a while, I feel myself drifting off. But suddenly, Arcanine turns his head to the left, the movement rousing me. I sit up and follow his gaze to see Sena wandering toward me on the garden path, head bent, hands clasped behind his back. He’s about twenty paces from where Arcanine and I sit beneath the Pomeg tree, but he hasn’t noticed me yet. He’s frowning, as usual.

    Sena’s not much older than me, but in the months I’ve known him, I don’t think I’ve seen him smile once (it’s a shame, if he weren’t so dour, he wouldn’t be bad to look at, with his pale skin and dark eyes and hair). What’s he got to be so unhappy about? My father brought him to Urutu, the richest, most beautiful city on Earth, to be a scribe and record the stories of his people on parchment. Just being among the scholars chosen to do the writing for my father’s library was a great honor, but he also gave Sena spacious quarters in the palace, all the writing supplies he needs, the finest cotton robes to wear. And yet... My father can’t see it, but to me, it’s obvious that Sena hates us, the ingrate.
    Again, this is really interesting. I'm feeling more and more comfortable with the setting jump as we go.

    I'm starting to more strongly believe this is indeed an Egypt-based society? I'm already into it as it is, but if it is indeed based on Egypt, you've got me swallowing the hook completely.

    What's going on with Sena, this girl and her father, I wonder? Even moreso, how will it tie into Satsumi's story? I'm already pondering potential answers.

    When he’s about ten paces away, Arcanine begins a deep growl, and Sena finally looks up and sees me. It pleases me to see his eyes go wide as he realizes he’s failed to show me the proper reverence.

    He goes down on one knee and bows before me, saying, “Please pardon me for disturbing me, Your Highness.”
    A priestess, huh? That's the impression I get. Either that or a more simple princess, given the mentions of her father.

    I sense sarcasm from Sena.

    “You’re pardoned,” I say, enjoying his nervousness.

    I pat Arcanine on the head, silencing him. He lays his head on his paws, but keeps his eyes locked on Sena.

    “You may rise,” I say to Sena.

    He does so. He’s trying not to look at Arcanine, but his eyes keep darting back to him.

    “Don’t worry,” I say, “Arcanine won’t attack without my permission.”
    I wonder about that.

    “Well, then. I suppose I have nothing to fear.”

    Sena gives a polite smile, but it’s strained and obviously false. I smile back easily.

    “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it, Sena?” I say.

    “Every day is a beautiful day in Urutu, Your Highness,” he replies, which is true, but I can tell he doesn’t mean it.
    Yeah, I was right about the sarcasm. Wonder what that's about...

    Although I do wonder if there is some truth to the "every day is a beautiful day" comment, or if it's actually total sarcasm because the kingdom is awful.

    “Well spoken. Tell me, what do you think of our garden?”

    Sena looks him and says, “It’s wonderful; we have nothing like it in Shul.”

    “Oh, don’t you?”

    Of course they don’t; Shul is a wasteland of dust and burning sun. Sena knows I know this.
    Now I'm picturing Urutu as being like an oasis, sort of like Phenac City from the Orre games. Is that true?

    Interested in the history of these nations...

    “I’m afraid not, Your Highness,” he says politely, but with a hard look in his eyes.

    I smile and say, “Well, perhaps my brother will fix that when he becomes Pokemon Emperor.”

    “Perhaps,” says Sena, though we both know it’ll never happen.

    The people of Shul are fiercely territorial and have been trouble-makers since the first Pokemon Emperor, Alulim, hundreds of years ago. Alulim wanted only to bring water and greenery to their parched land, but they refused out of sheer pride. No wonder Sena is the way he is; it’s in his blood.
    Now this caught me off guard. I had expected that there were just different kingdoms with their own kings, but there's a single king above them all?

    “By the way, Your Highness, did you remember that you’re having your first lesson tomorrow?”

    Lesson? What lesson? What is he talking about?

    Sena’s brows rise when he sees the blank expression on my face, and he says “Didn’t His Majesty tell you? I’m to tutor you on the myths and legends of the Empire.”

    My eyes go wide before I can even try to hide my shock, but I take a breath and try to collect myself.

    “So...
    you’re... to be my tutor?”

    Sena smiles almost imperceptibly at my dismay as he says “That is what his majesty told me.”


    I'm not sure I believe him.

    Arcanine wants to barr his teeth at him, but I stop him as I try to stop my own face from showing my rage. I did tell my father that I wanted to be tutored. There’s little else for me to do lately, now that Mira and I aren’t speaking. And I thought it would please him. He wants so much for his children to be educated, to know our own history, as well as the cultures of the people in his empire. Or at least, that’s what I thought. But it’s really only my brother’s education that he cares about, isn’t it? I was a fool to expect a tutor equal to my brother's. After all, he will one day rule this Empire, while I’m just a girl; what does it matter whether I’m educated? No, an untitled foreigner from a barren land is more than good enough for me. There’s no point in even asking my father for a better one.

    I wish I could refuse. But if I do, I’ll look like a fool to both Sena and my father.

    So I cross my arms, smile, and say “Perfect. When do we begin?”
    "Arcanine wants to bare his teeth at him"

    I find this to be a strong closer, even if I'm slightly lost just because Mira's identity hasn't really been made very clear yet. I'm definitely intrigued by all of this, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it connects to Satsumi and probably Ash as well. And of course, like I've mentioned, ancient civilizations like this are always to my interest. Seems like there's a lot of intrigue going on here, which is always a good thing.

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  17. #17
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    Hm, this looks interesting, but I have to admit I feel a little alienated jumping into something so different from what was going on before. Obviously this interlude will dovetail with Satsumi's story, so it's just something I need to get used to.

    That said, I think this plot has some interesting potential. The impression I get is that this is somehow related to the ancient society of Nirakar that was brought up prior.
    Yeah, I figured it would be jarring, but there wasn't really a way to prevent that at first. It is definitely related.

    Yeah, I think this confirms the link to the ancient society. I'm definitely invested now.

    I notice a really distinctive descriptive technique here that I'm quite enjoying. I can easily visualize what this setting looks like, which gives me the imagery of a classic ancient civilization. Perhaps it has a flavor of ancient Egypt, I think? I can see her standing in a sort of desert-like area outside the ziggurat.
    Thanks! I had a hard time figuring out how to describe the ziggurat, since the narrator here is familiar with it.

    Again, this is really interesting. I'm feeling more and more comfortable with the setting jump as we go.

    I'm starting to more strongly believe this is indeed an Egypt-based society? I'm already into it as it is, but if it is indeed based on Egypt, you've got me swallowing the hook completely.

    What's going on with Sena, this girl and her father, I wonder? Even moreso, how will it tie into Satsumi's story? I'm already pondering potential answers.
    Good! I was kind of worried it wouldn't be as interesting... No, it's based on ancient Mesopotamian society which is... I want to say it's older than Egyptian society, but it might have been concurrent. Here's a fun video on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sohXPx_XZ6Y. Anyway, there's going to be a lot on those relationships later.

    A priestess, huh? That's the impression I get. Either that or a more simple princess, given the mentions of her father.

    I sense sarcasm from Sena.
    She's a princess. Well, it's not so much sarcasm as insincerity... she's basically forcing him to say nice things about the place, which he resents.

    Now I'm picturing Urutu as being like an oasis, sort of like Phenac City from the Orre games. Is that true?

    Interested in the history of these nations...
    Well, Urutu and the kingdoms/provinces surrounding it. Good, thanks! I'm going to do more history on them later.

    Now this caught me off guard. I had expected that there were just different kingdoms with their own kings, but there's a single king above them all?
    He's an emperor, so he controls more localized rulers in the different territories.

    "Arcanine wants to bare his teeth at him"

    I find this to be a strong closer, even if I'm slightly lost just because Mira's identity hasn't really been made very clear yet. I'm definitely intrigued by all of this, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it connects to Satsumi and probably Ash as well. And of course, like I've mentioned, ancient civilizations like this are always to my interest. Seems like there's a lot of intrigue going on here, which is always a good thing.
    Ok, thanks, I'll hange that. Oh, Mira is the narrator's best friend and lady's maid; she doesn't have that significant a role. At least, not in what I have planned so far. Thanks again!
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  18. #18
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    Chapter 1

    I woke from strange dreams I couldn’t remember and looked at the clock on my bedside table– 6:30 already? Like my dad, I’d barely slept the night before leaving on my Pokemon journey. Unlike my dad, who’d slept in the next morning and almost missed getting any Pokemon at all, I was going to make sure I got first pick. So I got up and made my bed, trying not to wonder how long it’d be before I slept in it again. I tried to ignore the queasy feeling in my stomach. After all, my dad hadn’t been nervous or worried when he started his journey; he was just excited about the adventure ahead of him. I dressed in my blue jumper over a white t-shirt and black leggings, then brushed my hair and clipped my bangs to the left with two silver clips. When I was finished getting ready, I headed down stairs and into the kitchen, where I found my mom making a special breakfast.

    “Good morning, Satsumi!” she said when she saw me. “Are you ready for your big day?”

    “Yeah!” I said, trying to match her too-cheerful tone.

    Soon, we were sitting down with plates of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. My stomach still felt sick with nerves, and I couldn’t really taste anything, but I forced myself to clean my plate. My mom would worry if she knew I had no appetite, so I couldn’t let her see– especially not when she was trying so hard to make me happy.

    Later, riding to Pallet Town in the back seat of my Aunt Sakura’s red convertible, I regretted eating so much. Watching the passing scenery was only making me feel sicker, so I leaned back into my seat, closed my eyes and swallowed hard to fight my nausea. There was nothing to see, anyway, except grass, grass, and more grass.

    “You’re pretty quiet back there, Satsumi,” Aunt Sakura called over the wind. “You ok?”

    I opened my eyes and saw her adjusting the rearview mirror to look at me.

    “I’m fine!” I called back. “Just, um... thinking about what starter Pokemon I’m going to choose!”

    “Huh?” my mom said, twisting around in her seat to talk to me. “I thought you’d already decided?”

    Oops. I’d forgotten that I’d told her.

    “Oh, yeah, I did. But I’m thinking about it again. To make sure it’s the right choice.”

    My mom smiled.

    “Well, don’t over-think it. At times like this, it’s best to go with your gut.”

    That sounded exactly like something my dad would say.

    “Ok!” I said.

    We were quiet then. Ahead of us, I saw a girl with a green ponytail and a boy with brunette hair walking along the side of the road. I turned around to see them better as we passed; the girl waved to me, but I couldn’t tell if she saw me wave back.

    An hour later, we were in Pallet Town. Another ten minutes, and we were driving through Professor Ookido’s gate and up his driveway to the Pokemon lab and ranch. My dad and I had been there only a month ago to help Professor Ookido and his assistant, Kenji, replace a section of fence that had rotted. (Well, ok, my dad helped, I mostly just held boards in place and handed everyone nails.) That part of the fence still looked brand new, its spotless white paint standing out against the dingy older parts. It seemed strange that my life had changed so much in that short time.

    As we got out of the car, the door to the lab opened, and Professor Ookido, his grandfather, and Kenji came out waving and calling out “hello”s. My grandmother followed, but she rushed ahead of them down the walkway and scooped me up in her arms.

    “Oh, Satsumi, I’m so happy for you, Sweetie!” she said.

    I hugged her back. After a few seconds, she released me, but kept her hands on my shoulders and held me at an arms’ length.

    “Look how grown up you are! Time goes by so fast...”

    “You just saw me last month, Grandma,” I said, smiling up at her.

    She laughed.

    “Oh, I know. I just can’t believe this day is already here; it makes me feel so old!”

    She was smiling, but there were tears in her eyes, and I wondered if she was thinking about the day my dad left on his journey. Grandpa Ookido put a hand on her shoulder and said, “You’ll never be old, Hanako, as long as you stay young at heart.”

    “Yeah, he’s the real old-timer around here,” said Professor Ookido.

    “That’s right, so you’d better show me some respect!”

    Kenji slapped Professor Ookido on the back and said “Yeah, Shigeru, show some respect!”

    I tried to laugh along with them, but all I could do was smile. No one mentioned my dad’s absence, but they didn’t have to– I could feel it, like the hum in my ears in perfect silence. They could, too, I thought; their joking around seemed fake, like they were trying too hard to pretend everything was normal. My eyes kept drifting to the spot beside my mom where my dad should’ve been standing. My mom wasn’t laughing, either, but we both smiled bigger when our eyes met.

    “All right, all right,” Professor Ookido said, “Enough of that. Satsumi’s here to get a Pokemon, not to listen to us talk. You ready, Short Stuff?”

    I nodded, and we started up the path to the lab. Professor Ookido put his hand on my back and slowed down, and I matched his steps so I wouldn’t get ahead of him. We started lagging behind. The others turned and waited for us when they reached the door, and then he stopped completely. I looked up at him, waiting for him to explain, but all he said was “Um.”

    Everyone stared at us for a second, and then Kenji smacked his forehead and said, “Oh, no, I was supposed to clean the lab before the new trainers got here! I totally forgot!”

    “Kenji!” Professor Ookido said, clearly annoyed. “You were supposed to do that yesterday!”

    “I know, I’m sorry! Man, now I’ll never finish in time!”

    “Don’t worry, I can help,” Grandpa Ookido said.

    “Me, too!” said my Aunt Sakura.

    “We’ll all help,” my mom said.

    Kenji opened the door and led everyone inside. I started to follow, but Professor Ookido held me back.

    “Can I talk to you for a minute, Short Stuff?” he asked.

    I nodded, even though his serious tone was already making me nervous. Keeping his hand on my shoulder, he got down on one knee so he could look me directly into my eyes.

    “I just wanted to tell you that I’m so sorry for what’s happened. It’s ok if you’re angry with me, I understand.”

    “I’m not!” I said, shaking my head.

    It wasn’t Professor Ookido’s fault my dad had gone missing; he couldn’t have known what would happen. So it wasn’t fair for me to be angry at him.

    Professor Ookido smiled and said “Ok. I’m relieved to hear that. But I wanted you to know.” He paused, then said, “You know, Satsumi, you’re a really brave kid for starting your journey at a time like this. I know it hasn’t been easy for you. Your dad would– your dad will be really proud of you when he finds out.”

    There were so many questions I wanted to ask. Why had he sent my dad to the ziggurat in the first place? What was going on there? But my throat was so tight that I couldn’t get any words out without sobbing. Besides, if Professor Ookido figured out what I was up to, he’d probably try to stop me, or tell my mom. So I turned around and hurried up the path before he could see me cry. The path looked blurry and far away through my tears. He was wrong– I wasn’t brave, I was terrified. Already, I could feel the anxiety buzzing through my body. What would he say if he knew how much I wanted to forget the whole thing and just go home? But I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t give up on my dad so easily. So I kept putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the door.

    Professor Ookido held it open for me, then led me through the lobby and down a hall to a room I’d never been in before. It was really plain, with white walls and a gray tile floor, but the right wall was lined with floor to ceiling shelves full of Pokeballs. In the middle, there was a metal table that held four more, and I guessed that these were the starters. All the surfaces looked polished and shiny. The room wasn’t exactly small, but it was crowded with everyone inside. No one was doing any cleaning.

    “Finished up in here?” Professor Ookido asked as he entered the room.

    “Yeah,” my mom said, “but we didn’t really do much. It was clean to begin with.”

    Kenji shrugged and said, “Shigeru’s just kind of a neat-freak.”

    “Hey, good research begins with a clean lab!” Professor Ookido said, smiling. “You should really know that by now.”

    He and I moved toward the middle of the room, and everyone else stepped back to make room for us.

    “Now, Satsumi,” he said, “you’re the first trainer here, so you get first pick. Which Pokemon do you choose?”

    My heart pounded with excitement– this was it. I took a deep breath and said, “Eevee. I want Eevee.”

    “Good choice,” Professor Ookido said.

    Everyone clapped as he picked up the left-most Pokeball and handed it to me. I curled my fingers around it, the metal cool against my skin, and stared at its shiny red and white surface. I’d handled plenty of Pokeballs before, but this one was different, this one was mine. My first Pokemon. How many times had I imagined this moment? Now that it was actually here, it almost didn’t feel real.

    “You know,” Professor Ookido said, interrupting my thoughts, “It was my idea to make Eevee a starter Pokemon.”

    Everyone laughed at that, but I felt a squeeze at my heart; this was where my dad usually said “What are you talking about, Shigeru, you know it was my idea!” They’d been arguing about it for years, and it’d become kind of a joke between them. Actually, whoever suggested the idea got it from all the trainers who kept requesting Eevee, but it was still a good one. Eevee was a normal type, so it didn’t have many advantages in battle, but it didn’t have many disadvantages, either. Plus, it had lots of different evolutions, each with a different type, and new trainers could take their time deciding which one they wanted. I’d decided on Eevee a long time ago.

    “Why don’t we head outside so Satsumi can release her new Pokemon?” Grandpa Ookido suggested. “It’s really too crowded in here.”

    So we headed outside, down the driveway, and through the gate to the road. Everyone stood behind me and watched as I threw the Pokeball and said “Eevee, come out!” (Actually, I was so nervous that I just kind of muttered it.) The ball hit the ground and split open, releasing a flash of white light that began to take the shape of a small, four-legged Pokemon with long ears. The light faded, and there sat Eevee, exactly as I’d imagined– brown fur, tan collar, black eyes. I wondered, would I be able to tell it apart from all the other Eevees in the world once I got to know it better?

    “Eevee!” Eevee chirped, jumping to its feet.

    I crouched to the ground and held out my hand to it.

    “H-hi, Eevee!” I said. “My name is Satsumi; I’m your new trainer!”

    Eevee trotted over to me and sniffed my outstretched fingers. Slowly, I reached out to pat its head, and it happily said its name again in response. Eevee’s fur was soft and warm. I smiled, really smiled, for the first time in days– meeting Eevee was almost enough to make me forget how worried and upset I’d been feeling.

    “Aw, so cute!” my aunt Sakura exclaimed. “Is it a boy or a girl?”
    “This one’s a boy,” said Professor Ookido.

    “It looks like you two are going to get along just fine,” my mom said.

    That made me think of my dad, how Pikachu hadn’t wanted anything to do with him when they first set out on their journey. Eevee watched me curiously as I picked up the Pokeball and stood.

    “Return for now, Eevee,” I said.

    A white beam of light shot out of the ball and hit Eevee, turning him back into light and pulling him inside. I’d let him out again later, but now it was time to say good-bye to my family, and I didn’t want Eevee to see me sad so soon after we’d met.

    I inhaled deeply, tried to swallow the lump in my throat, and turned around.

    “Well, Satsumi, this is it!” Professor Ookido said. “Good luck out there!”

    “She won’t need it!” Grandpa Ookido added, then said to me, “But you know who to call if you ever need any advice.”

    “And be sure to tell us about any new Pokemon you meet!” said Kenji.

    “I will,” I said. “Thank you all.”

    My aunt Sakura hugged me and said, “I love you, Sweetie.”

    She released me and tucked her hair behind her ear.

    “You sure you don’t, like, want a ride back to Viridian?” she asked. “I’d be happy to take you.”

    I shook my head.

    “Thanks, but it wouldn’t feel right to ride back after getting my first Pokemon. I want to start my journey now.”

    That was true, but there was another reason– I wasn’t ready to leave for Nirakar. I wanted to start looking for my dad as soon as possible, but I could barely believe I was going to a foreign country all by myself. How was that even possible? I’d never been away from home on my own. I needed to take this slow, get used to journeying on my own, before I took the train to Celadon and boarded my plane.

    “Ok,” my Aunt Sakura said, “I understand.” She winked at me and added “You’re like, going to do great, I know it!”

    “Of course she will,” my grandmother said, “it runs in the family.”

    She pulled me into her arms and held me tight.

    “I love you so much, Satsumi,” she said, “and I’m so proud of you.”

    She stood back and wiped away a tear, then added “Do your best out there. But be careful, ok?”

    “Ok, I will, I promise.”

    And then it was time for the hardest part of all– saying good-bye to my mom. She knelt down in front of me and rested her hand on my cheek.

    “Oh, Satsumi...” she said.

    “Mom...”

    And that was it– I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. My mom wiped them away as they rolled down my cheeks.

    “Don’t cry, now,” she said with a sad smile, “or I’ll start, too!”

    But even though my vision was blurred, I could see that there were already tears in her eyes.

    “Mom... I’m really going to–”

    I choked up and couldn’t finish the sentence. I wanted to tell her how much I was going to miss her, and how sorry I was. It seemed like my mom was always getting left behind! When she and my dad were kids, they’d traveled for years together on their Pokemon journey. Then she’d had to go home to take care of the gym in Cerulean City while he went off and had more adventures. Now he was gone again, and I was leaving her, too? It wasn’t fair! Especially when she’d sacrificed so much for me. My mom had been a member of the Elite Four, recognized as the strongest Water-type trainer in the country, until I was born so tiny. Both my parents stayed by my side constantly during my first couple of years, to make sure I was ok, but it was harder on her. Pokemon League Champion wasn’t a job; my dad didn’t have to make appearances. But when my mom couldn’t fulfill her duties as an Elite Four member, she’d had to retire. And this was what she got in return? I wanted to find my dad for her sake, too, so we could be a family again... But if I was doing the right thing, why did I feel so terrible?

    “I’m really going to miss you, too, Satsumi,” my mom said.

    She took my face between her hands and held my gaze.

    “But I don’t want to hold you back; I want you to go on your journey and meet new people and have new experiences.”

    “But you’ll... you’ll be...”

    “I’ll be fine. I’m going to stay with your Grandma, and Kenji and Shigeru and Grandpa Ookido are all right here.”

    “And I’ll visit, like, all the time,” Aunt Sakura added.

    “See?” my mom said. “I’ll have lots of company! So don’t worry about me, ok?”

    I nodded and said “Ok,” but I didn’t mean it.

    We hugged each other tight, and I felt her warmth surround me one last time.

    “I love you so much, Satsumi,” my mom said softly in my ear.

    “I love you, too, Mom,” I replied, not even trying to hold in my sobs anymore.

    What was I going to do without her? I’d never been away from her for more than a few days (and then I was with my grandmother). We let go of each other, and she tucked my hair behind my ear like she always did.

    “You’re going to be fine,” she said through her tears. “Better than fine! Just be careful. And you know you can come home anytime you need to.”

    “I know.”

    “I’ll let you know as soon as we hear something from your dad.”

    I nodded and wiped away tears.“Ok then. Well, I guess this is good-bye.”

    “Yeah. Good... Good-bye.”

    The words came out so quiet and squeaky that I could barely hear myself, but my mom seemed to understand. She stood, kissed my forehead, and took two steps back from me. And with that, I turned and took the first steps of my Pokemon journey.
    Last edited by Hakajin; 5th August 2014 at 11:29 PM.
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  19. #19
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    Didn't even realize you had posted this, my bad for missing it! It was a good chapter, I love the detail and heart you pour into your writing.

    An hour later, we were in Pallet Town. Another ten minutes, and we were driving through Professor Ookido’s gate and up his driveway to the Pokemon lab and ranch. My dad and I had been there only a month ago to help Professor Ookido and his assistant, Kenji, replace a section of fence that had rotted. (Well, ok, my dad helped, I mostly just held boards in place and handed everyone nails.) That part of the fence still looked brand new, its spotless white paint standing out against the dingy older parts. It seemed strange that my life had changed so much in that short time.
    This paragraph, despite it's simplicity, really stood out. It adds to the obvious love between Satsumi and Ash, has a nice touch of humor thrown in and that metaphor at the end is great.

    I also love the addition of Eevee as a starter, it's an awesome Pokémon and I'm interested in seeing which direction you take Satsumi with her's. Once again another great chapter, as ever well done for throwing the amount of feeling and emotion into it that you did, and I'm anxious to see what Satsumi's gonna start off doing on her journey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMerle View Post
    Didn't even realize you had posted this, my bad for missing it! It was a good chapter, I love the detail and heart you pour into your writing.


    This paragraph, despite it's simplicity, really stood out. It adds to the obvious love between Satsumi and Ash, has a nice touch of humor thrown in and that metaphor at the end is great.

    I also love the addition of Eevee as a starter, it's an awesome Pokémon and I'm interested in seeing which direction you take Satsumi with her's. Once again another great chapter, as ever well done for throwing the amount of feeling and emotion into it that you did, and I'm anxious to see what Satsumi's gonna start off doing on her journey.
    No problem; thanks for the review! Thank you!

    I'm glad you liked that one paragraph; I was glad I was able to put something like that in there. It's hard to write in moments between Satsumi and Ash since he's not around, and I worry that their relationship won't come across... so I'm glad you found that effective.

    Oh, and I'm glad you like Eevee as a starter. I have reasons for using that Pokemon, but I'm aware that it's considered kind of cliche... so I'm relieved it didn't seem that way here.

    Thanks again! I'm working on chapter 2 now; it's going to have more action in it than the previous chapters.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hakajin View Post
    Chapter 1

    I woke from strange dreams I couldn’t remember and looked at the clock on my bedside table– 6:30 already? Like my dad, I’d barely slept the night before leaving on my Pokemon journey. Unlike my dad, who’d slept in the next morning and almost missed getting any Pokemon at all, I was going to make sure I got first pick. So I got up and made my bed, trying not to wonder how long it’d be before I slept in it again. I tried to ignore the queasy feeling in my stomach. After all, my dad hadn’t been nervous or worried when he started his journey; he was just excited about the adventure ahead of him. I dressed in my blue jumper over a white t-shirt and black leggings, then brushed my hair and clipped my bangs to the left with two silver clips. When I was finished getting ready, I headed down stairs and into the kitchen, where I found my mom making a special breakfast.
    This is an interesting way to start the "trainer gets a Pokemon" line. I like the parallels you draw between her and Ash, and the fact that you show her being nervous.

    I wonder if the strange dreams will be relevant later...

    “Good morning, Satsumi!” she said when she saw me. “Are you ready for your big day?”

    “Yeah!” I said, trying to match her too-cheerful tone.

    Soon, we were sitting down with plates of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. My stomach still felt sick with nerves, and I couldn’t really taste anything, but I forced myself to clean my plate. My mom would worry if she knew I had no appetite, so I couldn’t let her see– especially not when she was trying so hard to make me happy.
    I get the sense that Misty is still putting on an act of strength for her.

    Later, riding to Pallet Town in the back seat of my Aunt Sakura’s red convertible, I regretted eating so much. Watching the passing scenery was only making me feel sicker, so I leaned back into my seat, closed my eyes and swallowed hard to fight my nausea. There was nothing to see, anyway, except grass, grass, and more grass.
    Sakura, the one from the anime?

    “You’re pretty quiet back there, Satsumi,” Aunt Sakura called over the wind. “You ok?”

    I opened my eyes and saw her adjusting the rearview mirror to look at me.

    “I’m fine!” I called back. “Just, um... thinking about what starter Pokemon I’m going to choose!”

    “Huh?” my mom said, twisting around in her seat to talk to me. “I thought you’d already decided?”

    Oops. I’d forgotten that I’d told her.
    It felt like Satsumi was lying, so yeah.

    “Oh, yeah, I did. But I’m thinking about it again. To make sure it’s the right choice.”

    My mom smiled.

    “Well, don’t over-think it. At times like this, it’s best to go with your gut.”That sounded exactly like something my dad would say.
    Missed a space between the quote after "gut" and "that."

    “Ok!” I said.

    We were quiet then. Ahead of us, I saw a girl with a green ponytail and a boy with brunette hair walking along the side of the road. I turned around to see them better as we passed; the girl waved to me, but I couldn’t tell if she saw me wave back.
    I sense at least one person who's going to be important later.

    An hour later, we were in Pallet Town. Another ten minutes, and we were driving through Professor Ookido’s gate and up his driveway to the Pokemon lab and ranch. My dad and I had been there only a month ago to help Professor Ookido and his assistant, Kenji, replace a section of fence that had rotted. (Well, ok, my dad helped, I mostly just held boards in place and handed everyone nails.) That part of the fence still looked brand new, its spotless white paint standing out against the dingy older parts. It seemed strange that my life had changed so much in that short time.
    That bit of fence feels like an important memory item here. Was it intended as such, to be alluding to one of her last memories with her father?

    As we got out of the car, the door to the lab opened, and Professor Ookido, his grandfather, and Kenji came out waving and calling out “hello”s. My grandmother followed, but she rushed ahead of them down the walkway and scooped me up in her arms.
    Wait, is Gary the current Professor Oak with the "grandfather" being the original, or is it the original Professor Oak with his own grandfather? I'm a little confused here.

    “Oh, Satsumi, I’m so happy for you, Sweetie!” she said.

    I hugged her back. After a few seconds, she released me, but kept her hands on my shoulders and held me at an arms’ length.

    “Look how grown up you are! Time goes by so fast...”

    “You just saw me last month, Grandma,” I said, smiling up at her.

    She laughed.

    “Oh, I know. I just can’t believe this day is already here; it makes me feel so old!”

    She was smiling, but there were tears in her eyes, and I wondered if she was thinking about the day my dad left on his journey. Grandpa Ookido put a hand on her shoulder and said, “You’ll never be old, Hanako, as long as you stay young at heart.”

    “Yeah, he’s the real old-timer around here,” said Professor Ookido.

    “That’s right, so you’d better show me some respect!”

    Kenji slapped Professor Ookido on the back and said “Yeah, Shigeru, show some respect!”
    Okay, so it was Gary. I know I probably missed something, but I found it rather confusing to follow which Oak was which. You might want to clarify it somehow.

    I tried to laugh along with them, but all I could do was smile. No one mentioned my dad’s absence, but they didn’t have to– I could feel it, like the hum in my ears in perfect silence. They could, too, I thought; their joking around seemed fake, like they were trying too hard to pretend everything was normal. My eyes kept drifting to the spot beside my mom where my dad should’ve been standing. My mom wasn’t laughing, either, but we both smiled bigger when our eyes met.

    “All right, all right,” Professor Ookido said, “Enough of that. Satsumi’s here to get a Pokemon, not to listen to us talk. You ready, Short Stuff?”

    I nodded, and we started up the path to the lab. Professor Ookido put his hand on my back and slowed down, and I matched his steps so I wouldn’t get ahead of him. We started lagging behind. The others turned and waited for us when they reached the door, and then he stopped completely. I looked up at him, waiting for him to explain, but all he said was “Um.”

    Everyone stared at us for a second, and then Kenji smacked his forehead and said, “Oh, no, I was supposed to clean the lab before the new trainers got here! I totally forgot!”

    “Kenji!” Professor Ookido said, clearly annoyed. “You were supposed to do that yesterday!”

    “I know, I’m sorry! Man, now I’ll never finish in time!”

    “Don’t worry, I can help,” Grandpa Ookido said.

    “Me, too!” said my Aunt Sakura.

    “We’ll all help,” my mom said.
    I dunno, I feel like this is kind of needlessly prolonging things to have the distraction with the cleanliness of the lab. I hope I get proven wrong.

    Kenji opened the door and led everyone inside. I started to follow, but Professor Ookido held me back.

    “Can I talk to you for a minute, Short Stuff?” he asked.

    I nodded, even though his serious tone was already making me nervous. Keeping his hand on my shoulder, he got down on one knee so he could look me directly into my eyes.

    “I just wanted to tell you that I’m so sorry for what’s happened. It’s ok if you’re angry with me, I understand.”

    “I’m not!” I said, shaking my head.

    It wasn’t Professor Ookido’s fault my dad had gone missing; he couldn’t have known what would happen. So it wasn’t fair for me to be angry at him.

    Professor Ookido smiled and said “Ok. I’m relieved to hear that. But I wanted you to know.” He paused, then said, “You know, Satsumi, you’re a really brave kid for starting your journey at a time like this. I know it hasn’t been easy for you. Your dad would– your dad will be really proud of you when he finds out.”
    Hmm... I do notice that he is keeping his habit of giving pet names, but I feel like this could be.... somehow more Gary-ish? Something feels a little off. Like, I can see him being concerned about Satsumi, but he's talking more like his grandfather than anything.

    There were so many questions I wanted to ask. Why had he sent my dad to the ziggurat in the first place? What was going on there? But my throat was so tight that I couldn’t get any words out without sobbing. Besides, if Professor Ookido figured out what I was up to, he’d probably try to stop me, or tell my mom. So I turned around and hurried up the path before he could see me cry. The path looked blurry and far away through my tears. He was wrong– I wasn’t brave, I was terrified. Already, I could feel the anxiety buzzing through my body. What would he say if he knew how much I wanted to forget the whole thing and just go home? But I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t give up on my dad so easily. So I kept putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the door.
    I really feel Satsumi's emotion here. On top of that, I'm again wondering about that ziggurat and the ancient mystery and all.

    Professor Ookido held it open for me, then led me through the lobby and down a hall to a room I’d never been in before. It was really plain, with white walls and a gray tile floor, but the right wall was lined with floor to ceiling shelves full of Pokeballs. In the middle, there was a metal table that held four more, and I guessed that these were the starters. All the surfaces looked polished and shiny. The room wasn’t exactly small, but it was crowded with everyone inside. No one was doing any cleaning.
    Four more?

    “Finished up in here?” Professor Ookido asked as he entered the room.

    “Yeah,” my mom said, “but we didn’t really do much. It was clean to begin with.”

    Kenji shrugged and said, “Shigeru’s just kind of a neat-freak.”

    “Hey, good research begins with a clean lab!” Professor Ookido said, smiling. “You should really know that by now.”

    He and I moved toward the middle of the room, and everyone else stepped back to make room for us.

    “Now, Satsumi,” he said, “you’re the first trainer here, so you get first pick. Which Pokemon do you choose?”

    My heart pounded with excitement– this was it. I took a deep breath and said, “Eevee. I want Eevee.”

    “Good choice,” Professor Ookido said.

    Everyone clapped as he picked up the left-most Pokeball and handed it to me. I curled my fingers around it, the metal cool against my skin, and stared at its shiny red and white surface. I’d handled plenty of Pokeballs before, but this one was different, this one was mine. My first Pokemon. How many times had I imagined this moment? Now that it was actually here, it almost didn’t feel real.

    “You know,” Professor Ookido said, interrupting my thoughts, “It was my idea to make Eevee a starter Pokemon.”
    Okay, I can see why Gary would have that idea, but I struggle with swallowing it. There was really no need to tack on a fourth starter Pokemon, which scuttles the usual concept of the three starters being a type-cycle triangle (the typical Grass-Water-Fire, with the additional Fighting-Dark-Psychic secondary typing of the Kalos starters' final evolutions.) Adding a Normal-type breaks that. On top of it, there are a lot of things that could have been selected, but going with Eevee - one of the most overused "non-standard" starter Pokemon in fics - makes me a little uneasy. I think a lot more new things could have been done if it was something else.

    Everyone laughed at that, but I felt a squeeze at my heart; this was where my dad usually said “What are you talking about, Shigeru, you know it was my idea!” They’d been arguing about it for years, and it’d become kind of a joke between them. It was a good idea, though, no matter whose it was. Eevee was a normal type, so it didn’t have many advantages in battle, but it didn’t have many disadvantages, either. Plus, it had lots of different evolutions, each with a different type, and new trainers could take their time deciding which one they wanted. I’d decided on Eevee a long time ago.

    “Why don’t we head outside so Satsumi can release her new Pokemon?” Grandpa Ookido suggested. “It’s really too crowded in here.”

    So we headed outside, down the driveway, and through the gate to the road. Everyone stood behind me and watched as I threw the Pokeball and said “Eevee, come out!” (Actually, I was so nervous that I just kind of muttered it.) The ball hit the ground and split open, releasing a flash of white light that began to take the shape of a small, four-legged Pokemon with long ears. The light faded, and there sat Eevee, exactly as I’d imagined– brown fur, tan collar, black eyes. I wondered, would I be able to tell it apart from all the other Eevees in the world once I got to know it better?
    That muttering was an interesting touch. Really conveys her emotion here.

    “Eevee!” Eevee chirped, jumping to its feet.

    I crouched to the ground and held out my hand to it.

    “H-hi, Eevee!” I said. “My name is Satsumi; I’m your new trainer!”

    Eevee trotted over to me and sniffed my outstretched fingers. Slowly, I reached out to pat its head, and it happily said its name again in response. Eevee’s fur was soft and warm. I smiled, really smiled, for the first time in days– meeting Eevee was almost enough to make me forget how worried and upset I’d been feeling.
    I like the bond between them, though I think I was hoping for a slightly less... positive start. You know, give her a little bit more of a challenge with Eevee.

    “Aw, so cute!” my aunt Sakura exclaimed. “Is it a boy or a girl?”
    “This one’s a boy,” said Professor Ookido.

    “It looks like you two are going to get along just fine,” my mom said.

    That made me think of my dad, how Pikachu hadn’t wanted anything to do with him when they first set out on their journey. Eevee watched me curiously as I picked up the Pokeball and stood.
    This could have been another boost to the parallels between her and her father, if Eevee was more challenging as I had said.

    “Return for now, Eevee,” I said.

    A white beam of light shot out of the ball and hit Eevee, turning him back into light and pulling him inside. I’d let him out again later, but now it was time to say good-bye to my family, and I didn’t want Eevee to see me sad so soon after we’d met.

    I inhaled deeply, tried to swallow the lump in my throat, and turned around.

    “Well, Satsumi, this is it!” Professor Ookido said. “Good luck out there!”

    “She won’t need it!” Grandpa Ookido added, then said to me, “But you know who to call if you ever need any advice.”

    “And be sure to tell us about any new Pokemon you meet!” said Kenji.

    “I will,” I said. “Thank you all.”

    My aunt Sakura hugged me and said, “I love you, Sweetie.”

    She released me and tucked her hair behind her ear.

    “You sure you don’t, like, want a ride back to Viridian?” she asked. “I’d be happy to take you.”

    I shook my head.

    “Thanks, but it wouldn’t feel right to ride back after getting my first Pokemon. I want to start my journey now.”
    That's a very mature decision on her part.

    That was true, but there was another reason– I wasn’t ready to leave for Nirakar. I wanted to start looking for my dad as soon as possible, but I could barely believe I was going to a foreign country all by myself. How was that even possible? I’d never been away from home on my own. I needed to take this slow, get used to journeying on my own, before I took the train to Celadon and boarded my plane.
    As was that.

    “Ok,” my Aunt Sakura said, “I understand.” She winked at me and added “You’re like, going to do great, I know it!”

    “Of course she will,” my grandmother said, “it runs in the family.”

    She pulled me into her arms and held me tight.

    “I love you so much, Satsumi,” she said, “and I’m so proud of you.”

    She stood back and wiped away a tear, then added “Do your best out there. But be careful, ok?”

    “Ok, I will, I promise.”

    And then it was time for the hardest part of all– saying good-bye to my mom. She knelt down in front of me and rested her hand on my cheek.

    “Oh, Satsumi...” she said.

    “Mom...”

    And that was it– I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. My mom wiped them away as they rolled down my cheeks.

    “Don’t cry, now,” she said with a sad smile, “or I’ll start, too!”
    That tells me Misty really was putting on a brave show for Satsumi after all.

    But even though my vision was blurred, I could see that there were already tears in her eyes.

    “Mom... I’m really going to–”

    I choked up and couldn’t finish the sentence. I wanted to tell her how much I was going to miss her, and how sorry I was. It seemed like my mom was always getting left behind! When she and my dad were kids, they’d traveled for years together on their Pokemon journey. Then she’d had to go home to take care of the gym in Cerulean City while he went off and had more adventures. Now he was gone again, and I was leaving her, too? It wasn’t fair! Especially when she’d sacrificed so much for me. My mom had been a member of the Elite Four, recognized as the strongest Water-type trainer in the country, until I was born so tiny. Both my parents stayed by my side constantly during my first couple of years, to make sure I was ok, but it was harder on her. Pokemon League Champion wasn’t a job; my dad didn’t have to make appearances. But when my mom couldn’t fulfill her duties as an Elite Four member, she’d had to retire. And this was what she got in return? If I was doing the right thing, why did I feel so terrible?
    I think your greatest strength is the emotion, and it's certainly showing here. I can put myself right in Satsumi's shoes and feel the flood she's experiencing. It's got to be difficult for her. Would it be wrong to guess that maybe she wants to bring Ash back to make her family whole again, among her goals for looking for him?

    “I’m really going to miss you, too, Satsumi,” my mom said.

    She took my face between her hands and held my gaze.

    “But I don’t want to hold you back; I want you to go on your journey and meet new people and have new experiences.”

    “But you’ll... you’ll be...”

    “I’ll be fine. I’m going to stay with your Grandma, and Kenji and Shigeru and Grandpa Ookido are all right here.”

    “And I’ll visit, like, all the time,” Aunt Sakura added.

    “See?” my mom said. “I’ll have lots of company! So don’t worry about me, ok?”
    The way you write Misty's speech is perfect.

    I nodded and said “Ok,” but I didn’t mean it.

    We hugged each other tight, and I felt her warmth surround me one last time.

    “I love you so much, Satsumi,” my mom said softly in my ear.

    “I love you, too, Mom,” I replied, not even trying to hold in my sobs anymore.

    What was I going to do without her? I’d never been away from her for more than a few days (and then I was with my grandmother). We let go of each other, and she tucked my hair behind my ear like she always did.

    “You’re going to be fine,” she said through her tears. “Better than fine! Just be careful. And you know you can come home anytime you need to.”

    “I know.”

    “I’ll let you know as soon as we hear something from your dad.”

    I nodded and wiped away tears.“Ok then. Well, I guess this is good-bye.”

    “Yeah. Good... Good-bye.”

    The words came out so quiet and squeaky that I could barely hear myself, but my mom seemed to understand. She stood, kissed my forehead, and took two steps back from me. And with that, I turned and took the first steps of my Pokemon journey.
    Fitting place to end the chapter.

    Anyway, I hope I didn't come off as too critical. This certainly wasn't a bad chapter, I just feel like maybe you weren't playing to your primary strengths this time. I did like it in the end, I just had some concerns.

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  22. #22
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    This is an interesting way to start the "trainer gets a Pokemon" line. I like the parallels you draw between her and Ash, and the fact that you show her being nervous.

    I wonder if the strange dreams will be relevant later...
    Thanks! I wanted to make Satsumi different from Ash, but still relate her journey to his. And yes, it will definitely be relevant.

    Sakura, the one from the anime?
    Well, yes, but probably not the one you're thinking of. In the Japanese, Daisy's name is Sakura. I know, it makes things kind of confusing.

    Missed a space between the quote after "gut" and "that."
    Thanks, I'll fix that.

    I sense at least one person who's going to be important later.
    Yep!

    That bit of fence feels like an important memory item here. Was it intended as such, to be alluding to one of her last memories with her father?
    Yes, it is.

    Okay, so it was Gary. I know I probably missed something, but I found it rather confusing to follow which Oak was which. You might want to clarify it somehow.
    Eheh, sorry about that... I was having trouble clarifying it while staying in voice.

    Hmm... I do notice that he is keeping his habit of giving pet names, but I feel like this could be.... somehow more Gary-ish? Something feels a little off. Like, I can see him being concerned about Satsumi, but he's talking more like his grandfather than anything.
    Well, it's just one pet name. I feel that Ash and Gary would be close as adults, so he'd also care a lot about Ash's kid. In this situation... he was the one who asked Ash to go investigate the ruins, so he feels... not guilty, really, but responsible. He knows Satsumi pretty well, so he knows she wouldn't be ok with telling him if she were upset with him, and he doesn't want her to feel that way. Overall, I feel like Gary would still be kind of arrogant in the future, but in a more joking, self-aware way (I tried to write that into his interactions with the other characters)... and I feel like he'd be different with different people. He'd behave a certain way with Ash because of his history with him... but Satsumi's more timid and vulnerable, and she's also a child, and a girl, so I feel like she'd bring out a more tender side from him. Normally, he's pretty casual with her (that's why I went with a teasing nickname like "Short-Stuff," instead of something like "Sweetie"), but with everything that's been happening, he's more considerate.

    I really feel Satsumi's emotion here. On top of that, I'm again wondering about that ziggurat and the ancient mystery and all.
    Thanks, I'm glad! That was an important part for me.

    Okay, I can see why Gary would have that idea, but I struggle with swallowing it. There was really no need to tack on a fourth starter Pokemon, which scuttles the usual concept of the three starters being a type-cycle triangle (the typical Grass-Water-Fire, with the additional Fighting-Dark-Psychic secondary typing of the Kalos starters' final evolutions.) Adding a Normal-type breaks that. On top of it, there are a lot of things that could have been selected, but going with Eevee - one of the most overused "non-standard" starter Pokemon in fics - makes me a little uneasy. I think a lot more new things could have been done if it was something else.
    Well, like I said, the thing with Eevee is that it has a unique potential for different evolutions... and it was used in Pokemon Yellow. I was worried about it being overused, but... I had thematic reasons for choosing it... which are probably similar to the reasons a lot of other people choose it, whether they really think about it or not. I was going to add in a line about how trainers kept requesting it, but it was coming off kind of awkward... maybe I'll find a way to put that back in, though. Basically, I'm trying to make the fact that it's overused work in my favor-- Satsumi isn't getting a special or unusual Pokemon.

    That muttering was an interesting touch. Really conveys her emotion here.
    Thanks! I wasn't quite sure how it would sound.

    I like the bond between them, though I think I was hoping for a slightly less... positive start. You know, give her a little bit more of a challenge with Eevee.
    This could have been another boost to the parallels between her and her father, if Eevee was more challenging as I had said.
    Well, Eevee's friendly, but that doesn't mean he won't be a challenge. Basically, I didn't want to give Satsumi the same problems with Eevee that Ash had with Pikachu, because that'd be just too cute, you know? Plus, Ash was pretty aggressive with Pikachu. Not in a mean way, but he definitely didn't have any qualms about taking charge and telling Pikachu what to do. Satsumi's not like that. And Eevee is pretty friendly, not stubborn like Pikachu. So there's not going to be that kind of friction between them. Bascially, I want Satsumi's journey to parallel Ash's without imitating it. She grew up with stories of his journey, so she's going to be constantly comparing her own to his, but it's not always going to match up.

    That's a very mature decision on her part.
    As was that.
    You think so? Satsumi doesn't think of it that way at all; she feels like she's just being her usual, reticent self (although "reticent" isn't a word she'd use).

    That tells me Misty really was putting on a brave show for Satsumi after all.
    The way you write Misty's speech is perfect.
    Thank you! Like I said before, Misty's an important character to me, and I want to get her right. She was always looking out for the people close to her, and I wanted to bring that out.

    I think your greatest strength is the emotion, and it's certainly showing here. I can put myself right in Satsumi's shoes and feel the flood she's experiencing. It's got to be difficult for her. Would it be wrong to guess that maybe she wants to bring Ash back to make her family whole again, among her goals for looking for him?
    Thank you! Yes, that's right. I think I'll edit that in.


    Fitting place to end the chapter.

    Anyway, I hope I didn't come off as too critical. This certainly wasn't a bad chapter, I just feel like maybe you weren't playing to your primary strengths this time. I did like it in the end, I just had some concerns.
    No, you didn't; I appreciate the input!
    Last edited by Hakajin; 5th August 2014 at 11:44 PM.
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  23. #23
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    Chapter 2

    “Eevee! Stop! This isn’t a game!” I called, panting.

    Eevee stopped, stood on his hind legs, and looked back at me over the tall grass.

    “Eevee!” he squeaked happily.

    “Come back!”

    I aimed my Pokeball and the white light shot out, but he was already off again– all I could see of him was the tips of his ears bobbing up and down as he ran. I scrambled to catch up, but I just wasn’t fast enough; it was only another minute before I had to stop again to catch my breath. Eevee popped up again, waiting for me to follow, but he still wasn’t close enough for me to retrieve with my Pokeball. So we wove through the grass, starting and stopping, starting and stopping, until I heard a squeal up ahead.

    I froze in mid-step, thinking for a second that Eevee was in trouble. Then I realized it wasn’t his voice I’d heard. I hurried ahead to see what was happening, and found Eevee standing over a small Pokemon. I couldn’t see past Eevee, but the curled purple tail sticking out from under him told me it was a Rattata he’d caught. Rattata twisted and shrieked, but it was useless– Eevee had its forelegs pinned to the ground. I felt sorry for it.

    “Let it go, Eevee!” I called.

    He turned his head to look at me, and that’s when Rattata gave one final jerk and squirmed out from under him.

    “Eevee!” Eevee cried as he stumbled.

    In one smooth motion, the Rattata rolled onto its feet and leaped at Eevee, but Eevee jumped out of the way just in time. The two faced each other, heads lowered. Rattata’s fur bristled and it bared its teeth at Eevee, but Eevee didn’t seem scared. He flattened his ears, getting ready to attack. My legs felt shaky and my heart pounded– this was my first Pokemon battle. I took my Pokedex from my pocket, aimed it at Rattata, and pushed the Scan button at the bottom. The word Scanning appeared on the screen, followed by the page on Rattata. There were pictures, maps, and lots and lots of text– too much information.

    Rattata is the Rat Pokemon, the Pokedex recited in a pleasant female voice. It must spend all day gathering food in order to maintain its fast metabolism. Would you like to know more?

    “Yes!” I cried.

    But at that moment, Eevee sprang and pounced on Rattatta. They rolled though the grass in a blur of brown and purple fur, growling and snarling the whole way. At one point, Eevee seemed to have Rattatta pinned again, but this time Rattatta used its smaller size to wriggle out from under him. By the time Eevee got to his feet, it had already disappeared into the grass. He stood at attention with his ears perked up, listening for any sounds of movement. But I couldn’t hear anything. A breeze began to blow, rustling the grass.

    You have not chosen a topic, my Pokedex said. I have information on habitat, attacks, abilities, and general battle strategies. Would you still like to know more?

    “No,” I said, sticking it back in my pocket. “It’s gone, Eevee. Let’s–”

    At that moment, Rattatta burst out of the grass beside me and was on top of Eevee before he even had a chance to turn around. Rattatta bit Eevee’s left ear, and he screamed in pain. He shook his head up and down, but Rattatta wouldn’t let go, just bounced with the movement.

    “Eevee, stop! You’re only going to make it worse!” I called, but Eevee wasn’t listening.

    With one last shake, he sent Rattatta rolling. It was back in only a second, though, nipping at Eevee’s ears, barely missing each time as Eevee backed away step by step.

    “Run for the road, Eevee!” I called. “You’ll be able to move better there!”

    This time, Eevee obeyed; he turned and ran, with Rattatta close behind. I followed as fast as I could, but they were already several yards ahead of me by the time I made it to the path. And then I had to catch my breath again. And then, just when I was about to reach the spot where Eevee and Rattatta were facing off, the ground suddenly gave way under my feet.

    “Ow!” I cried as I hit the bottom of the hole, but it hadn’t really hurt; my fall had been cushioned by a bed of grass.

    What is this? I wondered. Some kind of Pokemon trap?

    I stood, brushed myself off, and tried to pull myself out of the hole, but it was too deep– I could reach the edge when I jumped, but I couldn’t get a good grip.

    Uh-oh, I thought, now what?

    I hadn’t seen anyone else on the road all day; no one would come if I called for help. What about the girl and boy I’d seen on the ride to Pallet? They’d find me, wouldn’t they? But what if they didn’t? I was starting to panic, when someone appeared at the edge of the hole. The sun was behind them, so I couldn’t really see what they looked like, but relief washed over me.

    “Hey, um, can you help me?” I said. “I fell in this hole, and I can’t get out.”

    “Oh, really?” said the boy (I could tell from his voice that he was definitely a boy).

    Worry crept back into my chest, but I pushed it down– just because he was a little rude didn’t mean he wasn’t going to help me.

    “Y-yeah. So... can you help me out? Please?”

    The boy went down on one knee, resting his arm on his other leg, and peered down at me.

    “Sure, I’ll help you out...”

    “Oh, thank–”

    “...If you hand over your Pokemon.”

    I froze, still holding my hand out to him, and said, “Huh?”

    “I said, I’ll help you out, if you hand over your Pokemon.”

    I pulled my hand back and clenched my fist against my chest. That’s what I’d thought he’d said. But this wasn’t what I thought it was, was it? I had to be misunderstanding something.

    “Why?” I asked.

    “So I can steal them,” the boy said matter-of-factly.

    My body went cold and my mind went blank; this couldn’t be happening. I stumbled backward into the wall of the hole and pressed myself against it.

    “I’ll take that as a no,” he said, standing. “Well, nice meeting you, good luck getting out of there on your own.”

    “Wait!” I called as he started to walk away.

    He turned back toward me.

    “I, um... I don’t have any Pokemon!”

    My voice came out as a squeak.

    The boy crossed his arms and said, “Do you really expect me to believe that?”

    I hadn’t even thought about whether he’d believe it; it was just the first thing that popped into my head.

    “I mean, I, um... I have a Pokemon... but not with me!”

    “Oh. So you came out here, all alone, and just happened to forget your Pokemon. That sounds likely.”

    “I didn’t forget! Eevee just ran ahead of me!”

    “Eevee, huh?” the boy said, kneeling down again.

    Shoot. I hadn’t meant to tell him that.

    “Um... yeah. He’s really not with me, though– look!”

    I held up Eevee’s Pokeball and opened it in my hand, proving that it was empty.

    The boy laughed and said, “I’m not stupid enough to be fooled by a trick like that, Brat.”

    “Huh? But... but it’s empty, that proves–”

    “It proves that there’s nothing in that Pokeball. How do I know it ever had a Pokemon in it?”

    My eyes went wide– I hadn’t even thought of that.

    “Ok, then–”

    I dropped to my knees, took off my backpack, and pulled out my five unused Pokeballs. Then I opened them one by one to show that they were all empty.

    “See?” I said.

    “Hm...” the boy said.

    Now what? I thought.

    “Well, I guess a new trainer like you wouldn’t have more than five empty Pokeballs,” he mumbled to himself.

    “No, I wouldn’t,” I said, shaking my head. “I mean, I don’t!”

    “Ok.”

    “Ok? Does that mean you’re going to help me?”

    “Yes,” the boy said.

    I put away my Pokeballs, put on my backpack, and stepped toward him. I reached for his extended hands, my own shaking, and he grabbed on and pulled me up in one swift motion.

    I was relieved to be back on solid ground, but the feeling didn’t last. The boy held onto my right hand, only tightening his grip when I tried to pull away.

    “Oh, no, you’re not getting away that easy,” he said.

    I looked down at his hand wrapped around mine and was hit with a shock. White gloves, black clothes– I knew from my parents’ stories that this was Team Rocket’s uniform. Somehow the realization made the boy scarier, even though I’d already known he wanted to steal my Pokemon. I jerked away again without even thinking, but he held on tight.

    “Come on,” he said, pulling me forward.

    I tripped and stumbled on shaky legs.

    “Slow down!” I cried. “Where are you taking me?”

    “To find Eevee.”

    He did slow down, at least. I was too afraid to look up at him, but I could tell the boy was bigger and older than me– my hand completely disappeared into his, and his stride was longer than mine. I got the sense that he was at least a foot taller than me. What was I going to do? There was no way I was going to get away from him on my own, and there was no one to help me.

    “Call him,” the boy said to me over his shoulder.

    I hesitated; I was afraid of the boy, but I couldn’t let him steal Eevee.

    He stopped and turned, leaned toward me and said, “I said call him.”

    I turned my head away, too afraid to speak, and shook my head. The boy sighed deeply.

    “Fine, have it your way,” he said.

    What does that mean? I wondered.

    Still holding onto my hand, he turned away, cupped his mouth with his other hand, and called, “Eevee! Come out, come out, wherever you are! I’ve got your trainer here; you don’t want me to hurt her, do you?”

    At that, my knees buckled and I fell to the ground. Tiny, sharp pebbles dug into my knees and hand, sending pain shooting through my legs and arm. My heart pounded and I couldn’t get enough air no matter how much I gasped. The edges of my vision started going dark.

    My mind screamed, Someone please help me.

    “Hey, kid, would you calm down?” the boy said. I could feel him looking down at me. “I’m just--”

    Suddenly, I heard loud squawking and the sound of beating wings, and at the same moment, the boy let go of my hand.

    “Ow, ow, ow,” he cried. “What is this?!”

    I looked up and saw four Spearow hovering around his head, feathers flying as they pecked and scratched at him. The boy stumbled back, covering his face with one hand and swatting at the Spearow with the other, but they stayed just out of his reach.

    “What’s wrong with you crazy birds?!” the boy yelled. “Leave me alone!”

    I didn’t know what was happening, and I didn’t care. In one motion I got to my feet and started running as fast as I could.

    “Hey, come back here!” the boy called, but I just ran even faster.

    All I could see was the path in front of me, and all I could hear was my heart pounding in my ears. All of a sudden, a flash lit the air, but I didn’t stop to see what it was. How long could I keep running like this, I wondered? How long did I have before the boy got away from the Spearow and caught up to me? Then, when I came over a hill, I saw two figures approaching in the distance. As I got closer, I could see it was the boy and girl from earlier. The girl was holding Eevee, who looked a little scratched up, but otherwise ok. When he saw me, he chirped his name, jumped out of her arms, and ran toward me.

    “Eevee!” I called, crouching down to pat his head.

    “Satsumi!” the girl cried.

    How does she know my name? I wondered. Do I know her from somewhere?

    The girl and boy ran toward me until they were standing right over me. I looked up at them. Now I could see that they had the same bright green eyes. The girl was wearing jeans that stopped midway down her calves, and purple top with an orange stripe across the chest under a white vest. The boy wore regular jeans and a yellow t-shirt with a blue collar and sleeves, and had a leather pouch buckled around his waist.

    “So this is your Eevee?” the girl asked. She tossed her ponytail. “He was having a little trouble with a Rattata, but don’t worry; I helped him out.”

    Just then, I noticed footsteps coming up behind me, getting louder; I scooped up Eevee and held him tight, stood and backed away.

    “Hey, are you ok?” the boy asked.

    “What’s wrong?” asked the girl when I didn’t answer.

    “Th-this boy...” I said, my thoughts racing too fast to explain more.

    “A boy? What boy?” the girl asked.

    The footsteps were getting even closer, and I moved behind the girl without thinking. The boy from Team Rocket appeared over the hill, slowing to a stop several feet away from us and leaning over to pant. His face was still hidden, but I could see that he had red hair (darker than my mom’s) pulled into a ponytail that stuck out from the back of his head.

    “Who are you?” the girl demanded, stepping directly in front of me. “What do you want with Satsumi?”

    Instead of answering, the red-headed boy held up one finger to say Wait a minute while he caught his breath. The brunette boy turned to me and said, “Who is this guy, Satsumi? Do you know him?”

    “N-no,” I answered quietly. “He tried to steal my Pokemon; I think he’s from Team Rocket!”

    The red-headed boy drew himself up, crossed his arms, and said, “That’s right. Not that it’s any of your business, but the name’s Retsu.”

    I was finally able to get a good look at him; he had blue eyes (but darker than mine) that slanted in a way that made him look mean, and there were scratches on his face (from the Spearows’ attack, I guessed). He had a gold earring in his left ear. Though his crossed arms covered some of it, I could see most of a red “R” across the front of his shirt, just where I’d expected it to be.

    “You jerk!” the girl exclaimed, making a fist with her left hand and pointing at him with her right. “How dare you attack Satsumi?!”

    Retsu turned aside slightly, but didn't back down.

    “I didn't attack her,” he said.

    “That’s not what Satsumi says,” said the brunette boy.

    “She said I tried to steal her Pokemon,” Retsu said, turning back toward us.

    The girl crossed her arms, cocked her head, and said, “Oh, big difference.”

    “Yeah, it is!” Retsu insisted, leaning toward us now, fists held at his sides.

    “So, what did you do, trap her in a hole?” the girl asked.

    Retsu’s face turned red, and he shifted his weight back and crossed his arms again.

    “So what if I did?” he said.

    “Wait, that’s actually what you did?” she said, covering her mouth to stifle a laugh. “I was kidding; I didn’t really think you were that pathetic!”

    Retsu turned even redder.

    “Shut up!” he said, turning his face away. “I’m working with limited resources here!”

    She leaned toward him and said, “So? You could at least show some originality!”

    He leaned toward her and said, “Oh, like you could do any better!”

    “Yeah, I could! For example–”

    “Fuuka,” the brunette boy said, grabbing her arm, “don’t give him any ideas!”

    Fuuka... The name sounded familiar, but I couldn’t remember from where.

    “Ah!” Fuuka exclaimed, covering her mouth. She pointed at Retsu and said, “You creep! You tried to trick me into giving me ideas!”

    “Actually, I’m pretty sure you were about to volunteer,” the brunette boy said, smiling with embarrassment.

    Fuuka shook him off and muttered, “Shut up, Kazeo!”

    Kazeo sounded familiar, too. Where did I know these people from? But this wasn’t the time to ask.

    Fuuka turned back to Retsu, pointed at him, and said, “Anyway, I won’t forgive you for trying to steal Satsumi’s Pokemon, even if she did beat you!”

    “Ok, let’s get one thing straight,” Retsu said, pointing right back at her, “she did not beat me! She just didn’t have her Pokemon with her!”

    “Oh, well isn’t that convenient?” Fuuka said, shifting her weight back and crossing her arms.

    “No!” He yelled back. “It’s not convenient! It was really inconvenient!”

    “He’s telling the truth,” I said. “Eevee's my only Pokemon, and he got away from me.”

    I was embarrassed to admit it, but it seemed like the right thing to do.

    “Hm,” Fuuka said, holding her chin high. “Well, you’re really lucky, then, because Satsumi would’ve destroyed you.”

    Retsu burst out laughing at that, bending over and holding his stomach.

    “Oh, that’s a good one!” he said. “As if I’d be beaten by a brat like her!”

    My face went hot with anger and embarrassment. Eevee growled, and when I looked down at him, his fur was bristling.

    But Fuuka just smiled to herself, put her hands on her hips, and said, “‘A brat like her?’ You really have no idea who you’re dealing with, do you?”

    Retsu stopped laughing and stood straight. He crossed his arms and raised one eyebrow.

    “Um, no,” he said, still sounding skeptical, “should I?”

    “Of course you should,” Fuuka said, flipping her ponytail over her shoulder and sticking her nose in the air. “Satsumi is none other than the daughter of Satoshi, the greatest Pokemon master of all time!”

    Retsu stared back blankly.

    “Who?” he asked.

    “Who?” Fuuka exclaimed, lowering her head. “What do you mean, who?

    Kazeo pressed his hand to his face and mumbled, “Oh, no, here we go.”

    “I mean, who?” Retsu said.

    “How can you not know who Satoshi is?!” Fuuka exclaimed. “Have you been living under a rock?”

    Retsu pulled back and said, “No, I just don’t keep up with that stuff!”

    “Everyone knows who Satoshi is! He won the Sinnoh League Championship last year, and before that he won the Johto League Championship and the Indigo League Championship.”

    “Oh, that guy,” Retsu said.

    “Yes, that guy.

    “Eh, he’s overrated," he said with a wave of his hand.

    Anger flared up inside me again, and I dug my nails into my palms. Kazeo sucked in air through his teeth.

    “You really shouldn’t have said that,” he said.

    “Overrated? Overrated?!” Fuuka yelled, now practically lunging at him as Kazeo held her back by both arms.

    “Yeah, overrated,” Retsu said. He shrugged. “I mean, he’s pretty good, but Champion Hiroko is better.”

    “How can you even say that?! Hiroko only ever won one League Championship, Satoshi’s won three!”

    She jerked her arm away from Kazeo and held up three fingers to make her point.

    Why is she so upset? I wondered. Fuuka seemed angrier about what Retsu had said than me, and it was my dad he was talking about.

    “Yeah, but Hiroko won the Kalos Championship last year, and the competition was way tougher than anything Satoshi’s faced.”

    “That’s not true! Take it back!” Fuuka said, pointing at Retsu again.

    “Yeah, take it back, for all our sakes!” Kazeo called, still holding onto her other arm.

    “No,” Retsu said.

    “Take. It. Back!” Fuuka demanded.

    “No!”

    Fuuka pulled a Pokeball from her belt and said, “Fine, then I’ll make you take it back! Go, Gloom!”

    “Oh, no,” Kazeo said, letting her go to hold his nose with both hands.

    I held my breath; I’d never seen a Gloom up close before, but from what I’d heard, I never wanted to smell one up close.

    Fuuka wound up and threw her Pokeball as hard as she could; a white light burst out and became a purple, ball-shaped Pokemon with a dark magenta flower growing out of its head.

    “Gloom!” it exclaimed.

    Kazeo was still holding his nose, but Fuuka and Retsu weren’t, and they seemed fine. So I breathed in. There was a faint odor in the air, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected. I shifted Eevee so I was holding him with one arm, pulled out my Pokedex and scanned it.

    Gloom is the Weed Pokemon, it said. When threatened, it emits a foul odor so strong that it can be smelled from up to a mile away. Would you like to know more?

    Oh, that’s right, I thought, it has to be threatened first.

    My parents had mentioned that to me before, in a story about when they met the Celadon City gym leader, Erika.

    “Fine,” Retsu said, pulling out his own Pokeball and expanding it, “if that’s the way you want to do things, go, Elekid!”

    He threw his Pokeball, and out came a small, egg-shaped Pokemon with prongs on its head. It was yellow with two black stripes on its side and a lightning bolt on its stomach.

    “Elekid!” it said.

    Elekid is the electric Pokemon, my Pokedex said when I scanned it. It is unable to store much electricity, but it can create a current between its prongs by spinning its arms.

    It spun its bulky arms around, and I could see blue electricity building between its prongs, just like the Pokedex said. Even though it was my enemy’s Pokemon, I couldn’t help thinking it was really cute.

    “Elekid, huh?” Fuuka said, rubbing her chin. “Well, I feel bad for fighting a baby, but I guess it can’t be helped.”

    She leaned forward, pointed across the battle area, and said, “Ok, Gloom, let’s go! Time to turn on the stink!”

    Huh? I thought. Is it even possible for Gloom to stink on command?

    I didn’t plan on finding out, so I hurried to put my Pokedex away and hold my nose. I missed my pocket, though, and it fell to the ground with a clack. Before I could even pick it up, I was hit with a stench worse than anything I’d ever smelled; it was like a hundred dumps full of rotting garbage. I dropped Eevee and fell on my hands and knees, retching. Even when I held my nose, I could almost taste the awful stink. Beside me, Eevee whimpered and tried to cover his nose with his front paws.

    “Ugh, that’s putrid!” Retsu exclaimed. “What kind of weirdo would you even train a Pokemon like that?!”

    I felt too sick to even look up, but judging from the gagging sounds he and Elekid were making, they were having a similar experience. As soon as I could, I pulled out Eevee’s Pokeball and made him return; there was no reason for him to suffer through this.

    “Don’t call me a weirdo, you loser!” Fuuka yelled back.

    She sounded fine, like she wasn’t even holding her nose.

    “Sorry about this, Satsumi,” Kazeo said, still holding his own nose.

    “I thought Gloom only stank when threatened!” I coughed out.

    “Normally, yes, but Fuuka trained hers to do it at will.”

    “I call it my stink strategy!” Fuuka said.

    “Well, I call it disgusting!” said Retsu. “Go, Elekid! Use Quick Attack!”

    I forced myself to look up and saw Elekid stumble and weave toward Gloom in a (not very) quick attack. But when it was half way there, it lost its balance and fell flat on its face.

    “Elekiiid,” it said, crying and pounding the ground with its fists.

    “Elekid!” Retsu called. “Get up! I know you can do it!”

    But Elekid ignored him and kept up its tantrum. Gloom turned to Fuuka with its arm to its mouth and said, “Gloooom...”

    “Come on, Gloom!” Fuuka said. “Concentrate! Remember, this guy tried to steal Satsumi’s Pokemon; we can’t let him get away with that!”

    Gloom looked from Fuuka to Elekid and back, still touching its mouth.

    “What’s happening?” I asked Kazeo.

    “I’m not sure,” Kazeo said, “but I think Gloom feels sorry for Elekid, and she’s lost the will to stink.”

    I let go of my nose, almost afraid to breathe in, but the smell really had lessened.

    “Come on, Elekid,” Retsu called, “Get it together! It’s not so bad now!”

    Elekid finally stopped crying, pushed itself up on one arm, and sniffed the air. Then it got up and shook itself.

    “All right!” Retsu said, pointing toward Gloom. “Finish that Quick Attack!”

    Elekid rushed toward Gloom so fast I could barely see it.

    “Gloom, dodge it!” Fuuka called, but it was already too late.

    Elekid slammed into Gloom, sending her tumbling backward into the grass.

    “Gloom!” Fuuka called, pulling back and clenching her fist against her chest.

    “Ha!” Retsu said, pumping his fist. “Nice job, Elekid!”

    Elekid beamed proudly while Gloom crawled out of the grass and back onto the path.

    “Are you ok, Gloom?” Fuuka asked, her voice worried. “Can you keep going?”

    Gloom got to her feet, shook herself off, and gave an enthusiastic “Gloom!”

    The stink came back full force, and I quickly grabbed my nose and held on tight.

    “Elekid!” Elekid said, crouching and holding its nose with both hands.

    “Don’t let it get to you, Elekid!” Retsu said, though he was holding his nose, too. “We’re winning; just a little more to finish it off!”

    Elekid kept holding onto its nose, but nodded.

    “Hm!” Fuuka said, putting her hands on her hips. “He gets in one little Quick Attack and thinks he’s winning! Well, we’ll show him, won’t we, Gloom?”

    “Gloom!” Gloom said.

    “Use Absorb!”

    “Gloom!”

    She leaned in Elekid’s direction, and thin tendrils extended from the center of her flower to wrap around the opposing Pokemon. It jumped back in surprise.

    “Shake it off, Elekid!” exckaimed Retsu.

    Elekid shook itself as hard as it could, then pulled at the tendrils, but they didn’t budge and he only ended up running in place.

    “Nice try,” Fuuka said, “but Gloom’s tendrils stick like glue; you’re not getting out of this one!”

    Elekid’s movements became smaller and slower as Gloom absorbed its energy.

    “Don’t give up!” Retsu called to it. “Put everything you’ve got into escaping!”

    Elekid was panting from exhaustion, but it nodded and started spinning its arms around. Once again, I saw blue electricity build between its prongs.

    “Gloom! Watch out!” Fuuka called. “It’s going to use Thundershock!”

    Elekid was dragged back as Gloom tried to pull back her tendrils, but they stayed stuck.

    Suddenly, Elekid let out a burst of electricity that traveled up the tendrils and into her body. Gloom cried out and fell backward as the now-scorched tendrils released Elekid and withdrew into her flower. Elekid dropped down on one knee, still panting, and glared at her.

    “Great job, Elekid!” Retsu called. “Just a little more, and–”

    But before he could finish, Elekid fell flat on its face.

    “Elekid!” Retsu called. “Are you ok?”

    “Kiiiiid,” Elekid groaned.

    “Yes!” Fuuka exclaimed, jumping with her fist in the air. “We did it, we won!”

    “You did not!” Retsu said, glaring at her. He pointed at Gloom. “In case you didn’t notice, your Pokemon is down, too!”

    “Are you sure about that?” Fuuka replied.

    Without being told, Gloom pushed herself to her feet, shook herself off, and flexed her stubby arms.

    “Gloom Gloom!” she exclaimed.

    Retsu gave a tch as he pulled out his Pokeball and returned Elekid.

    “You did a great job, anyway,” he said softly to it.

    “Yeah, Elekid did do a great job,” Fuuka called loudly. “Too bad it has such a loser for a trainer!”

    “Hey, it was a close battle, ok?!” Retsu yelled back, his face going red again.

    She shrugged and called Gloom back into her own Pokeball

    “So? You still lost,” Fuuka said, hand on her hip.

    “Yeah, I know, you don’t have to rub it in!”

    “Well, of course I don’t have to." She flipped her ponytail again. "But it’s more fun this way!”

    Retsu crossed his arms, stood tall, and said, “Hm! Laugh while you can! But next time–”

    “Next time?”

    “Yeah, next time. What’s wrong, you scared?”

    Fuuka made a pfft sound and waved her hand in front of her face.

    “You wish!” she said. “I’m just surprised you’re willing to face me again after that humiliating defeat.”

    “It was not a humiliating defeat!” Retsu said, leaning toward her again.

    “What would you call it, then?”

    He jerked back, and his brow creased.

    “I’d call it, um…” Suddenly he recovered and pointed at her. “Look, it was a defeat, but there was nothing humiliating about it!”

    “Says you.”

    “Look, Fuuka,” Kazeo chimed in, “it was pretty close. Can we just–”

    Fuuka turned on him and said, “Whose side are you on?!,” while Retsu pointed at him and said, “I don’t need you to feel sorry for me!”

    Kazeo held up his hands defensively.

    “Whoa, I’m on your side,” he said to Fuuka, “and I definitely don’t feel sorry for you,” he said to Retsu. “I just have more important things to do than stand here listening to you two argue all day. Satsumi, too,” he said, looking at me. “Today’s the first day of her Pokemon journey; I’m sure she’s got shopping to do, and–”

    Oh!” Fuuka gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. “You’re right! I’m sorry, Satsumi!”

    “That’s ok,” I said, “I really–”

    “You apologize to Satsumi, too!” she continued, turning on Retsu.

    He tched again, crossed his arms, and turned his face away.

    “Fine,” he said. “I’m sorry you have such an obnoxious friend.”

    “What?!” Fuuka exclaimed. She raised her fist and lunged at him, saying, “Why don’t you come over here and say that?!,” but Kazeo held her back.

    “Run!” he said to Retsu, “I can’t hold her back much longer!”

    Retsu walked toward us until he was standing right beside Fuuka, then stopped.

    I said, I’m sorry you have such an obnoxious friend.” He said it to me, but he was looking straight down at her.

    “I’ll make you sorry!” Fuuka exclaimed, pulling against Kazeo.

    “You make me laugh,” Retsu said, without laughing at all.

    With that, he stalked away, in no hurry to escape.

    “Hey! Come back here!” Fuuka called to his back, her fist in the air. “I’m not through with you yet!”

    “Relax, Fuuka!” Kazeo said.

    “Let me go, Kazeo, he’s getting away!”

    “So? You already beat him! Besides, I have a feeling you'll get another chance to battle him.”

    “Yeah, that’s the problem,” Fuuka said, but she did finally stop struggling, and Kazeo let her go.

    She turned to me and said, “But I guess we can always beat him again, right, Satsumi?” with a wink.

    “Um, yeah,” I said, though I wondered why she’d said we.

    She grinned and held out both hands to me, so I grabbed on, and she pulled me to my feet. I started to pull away and brush myself off, but Fuuka didn’t let go.

    “Oh, Satsumi, I’m so happy to finally see you again!” she gushed, squeezing my hands and leaning toward me.

    I leaned back without thinking, and Kazeo said, “Calm down, Fuuka, you’re scaring her. She probably doesn’t even remember us.”

    Fuuka looked over my head at him and said, “She does so!” then turned back to me and said, “Don’t you, Satsumi?”

    “Um, well…” I said, glancing around nervously.

    “See?” Kazeo said.

    “I’m sorry,” I said.

    I looked them over carefully, trying to find something I recognized. There was definitely something familiar about them—hadn’t I seen those bright green eyes somewhere before? Then again, it seemed like I definitely would’ve remembered meeting someone like Fuuka.

    “Don’t be sorry,” said Kazeo, stepping up beside me. “It was a long time ago; of course you don’t remember us.”

    Fuuka seemed disappointed, but she nodded, let go of my hands, and stood straight.

    “Kazeo’s right,” she said. “I’m the one who should be sorry; I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.”

    “You didn’t!” I said. “Thank you for helping me! I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t run into you!”

    “Don’t mention it!” Fuuka said. “It was my honor!”

    “Um, so, how do we know each other?” I asked, unsure how to respond to her comment.

    “Our parents are friends,” Kazeo said. “We played together a few times when we were little.”

    I was suddenly hit with recognition.

    “Oh! You’re Aunt Haruka and Uncle Shuu’s kids, right?”

    “Yep!” Fuuka said, clapping her hands together. “See, you do remember us!”

    The truth was, I didn’t remember ever playing with Fuuka and Kazeo, but I’d seen them, along with their parents, in photos from my childhood. Now I could see the resemblance—they’d grown up a lot, of course (I only came up to Kazeo’s chin, and Fuuka was a little taller than him), but now I wondered how why I hadn’t recognized them instantly. Especially since my parents sometimes mentioned the things Aunt Haruka told them about her kids over the phone—which region they were traveling in, what badges Fuuka had won.

    “What are you doing here?” I asked, then caught myself. “I mean, I’m happy to see you, but my mom said your mom said you were in Unova.”

    “We came to see you, of course!” said Fuuka, clasping her hands near her face.

    “The last time we talked to our mom, she said your mom said you were starting your Pokemon journey,” Kazeo added. “We thought you might like some company.”

    At those words, I felt the weight on my heart lessen, and suddenly I could breathe easier.

    “But… what about your own Pokemon journey?” I asked Fuuka.

    “This will be part of it!” she replied, flipping her ponytail over her shoulder. “I have plenty of time to become a Pokemon Master. Actually, I think it’s going to be kind of nice to take a break from gym battles—the pressure’s off; I can relax and just enjoy traveling for a while.”

    “Yeah, you could definitely stand to relax a little,” said Kazeo.

    “Shut up, Kazeo,” Fuuka replied automatically, still smiling.

    I turned to Kazeo and forced myself to ask, "But... what about you? Don't you have a dream?"

    I was afraid of the answer; I knew I'd feel terrible if he was putting my journey ahead of what he really wanted to do. But still, I had to know.

    Kazeo shrugged and said, “Of course.” He stood proud and tall and continued, “I want to become a potions master. But I can pursue that anywhere, as long as we're traveling to new places.”

    “Thank you guys so much!” I said, tearing up a little. “I… I…”

    I didn’t know what to say.

    “You don’t have to thanks us,” Fuuka said, “we’re happy to be traveling with you, too! Right, Kazeo?”

    “Right,” he said, nodding. “I’ll finally have someone sane to talk to!”

    “Kazeo,” Fuuka warned, glaring at him.

    He ignored her and said, “So, are you ready to get moving, Satsumi?”

    I nodded, and we continued my Pokemon journey, together.




    “Eeveee! Come back!” I called.

    I'd thought it'd be safe to let him out of his Pokeball-- after his encounter with Rattata, he'd know better than to run off again, wouldn't he? Apparently, he wouldn't.

    “Eevee, get back here!” Fuuka said in a commanding voice.

    Eevee stopped in mid-step, paw still in the air, his ears pinned back and his tail drooping.

    “I'm going to count to three: one, two...”

    He turned around and padded back slowly, but kept his head turned away from Fuuka. When he sat at her feet, she gave him a quick rap on the head, making him chirp in protest. Then she crouched down in front of Eevee and said, “Satsumi's your trainer; you have to listen to her; she know's what's best for you. You don't want to get yourself in trouble again, do you?”

    “Eevee...” he said, still refusing to look at her.

    “Ok!” Fuuka said, smiling and standing. “There, he should listen now.” Then she laughed and said, “For a while, anyway.”

    “Thank you, Fuuka,” I said, but I didn't feel very grateful.

    My cheeks burned-- it was embarrassing enough that I couldn't control my own Pokemon, and then Fuuka had done it so easily. I felt so stupid.

    “Don't worry, Satsumi,” Kazeo said, stepping up beside me, “it just takes experience. Fuuka had trouble with her first Pokemon, too.”

    “Really?” I said.

    “Yeah, my Mudkip started out really stubborn,” Fuuka answered.

    “Almost as stubborn as you!” Kazeo added.

    “Hey!” Fuuka said, smiling. “I'm not stubborn; I'm determined!” Then, to me, “Even your dad struggled at first, right?”

    I nodded, remembering the story of how he'd first met Pikachu, how Pikachu had been so “determined” that he'd had to tie him up and drag him along (while wearing rubber gloves so Pikachu couldn't shock him).

    “You really know a lot about my dad, don't you?” I said.

    “Thanks!” Fuuka replied brightly, though it hadn't really been a compliment. “I'm his number 1 fan! Oh, speaking of which, let me show you something!”

    She reached into her inside vest pocket and pulled out her own Pokedex, which was a little bigger and a lot more scratched up than mine.

    “I hope we're close enough to town to get a signal...” she said, poking at the screen. “Ah! Here we go!”

    She turned the Dex around and handed it to me; on the screen was a webpage with a heading in big red letters that said, To Be a Master: The Unofficial Satoshi Fan-Site. Under this was a quote: “This is my favorite fan-site! You've done a great job here! Thanks for your support! Keep up the good work! -Satoshi.”

    My chest tightened; I knew people weren't always honest about who they were on the Pokeweb, but somehow I was sure that the choppy, over-excited sentences were my dad's. I quickly scrolled down, only to see a video news report about my dad's disappearance under the heading “Recent News.” There was a post underneath by “Satoshi's #1 Fan” (Fuuka, I assumed) that said, “Satoshi, if you're reading this, your fans are all thinking of you and hoping for your safe return!”

    Suddenly, an image flashed in my mind, of my last glance of my mom. I'd only turned around once, but that was enough to see her with her face pressed against my aunt Sakura's shoulder, her own shoulders shaking. My aunt Sakura wrapped her arms around her, and my grandmother put her hand on her back, but nothing seemed to help.

    The Pokedex screen blurred through the tears forming in my eyes; I held my breath and tried to hold them back, but they spilled over and ran down my cheeks.

    “Oh, Satsumi, I'm so sorry!” Fuuka exclaimed. “What was I thinking? I'm such an idiot!”

    “No, you're not,” I said, shaking my head and wiping away tears.

    I handed the Dex back to her, and she put it away.

    “I'm just a crybaby,” I continued, trying but failing to stop my voice from breaking.

    Then Kazeo stepped toward me and put his hand on my shoulder. When I looked up at him, he was staring down at me kindly.

    “Don't be silly,” he said. “Who wouldn't cry at a time like this?”

    “Kazeo's right,” said Fuuka, putting her hand on my other shoulder. “You're crying because you love your dad and you're worried about him, right? That's nothing to be embarrassed about.”

    Their words only made the tears come faster, but at least I felt better about it.

    “Don't worry,” Fuuka continued, “he'll definitely come home safe; nothing can defeat Satoshi!”

    She pumped her fist, and I nodded along, but inside, I didn't feel so sure.

    “Plus, Fuuka's got her fan-army looking for him,” Kazeo added.

    “Really?” I asked, looking up at her.

    “Of course,” she said. “Everyone's sharing everything they know, and some of Satoshi's Nirakar fans are investigating for more evidence.”

    I tried to swallow the lump in my throat; I'd been nervous about telling them my plan, but this was the opportunity I'd been waiting for.

    “Actually...” I started. “The truth is...”

    “What is it, Satsumi?” Fuuka asked, bending slightly so she was on my level.

    She tried to meet my eyes, but I turned my face to the ground.

    “I-- the reason I started my Pokemon journey is to look for my dad.” I said in a rush.

    “I thought so!” Fuuka exclaimed, jumping up and clapping her hands together.

    I jumped back, startled by her reaction.

    “Y—you did?” I asked.

    “Mm-hmm,” Fuuka said, nodding. She put one hand on her hip and flipped her ponytail. “You are Satoshi's daughter, after all, and it's exactly what he'd do at a time like this. I just knew you'd be brave like him!”

    How she could say I was brave when I was standing there with my face all red and wet? I was nothing like my dad. He wasn't afraid of anything, but I'd barely even been able to leave home. But I didn't Fuuka any of that. Instead, I looked back up at her and said, “So you'll help me?”

    “Of course!” Fuuka replied. She took both my hands. “I'd be honored to help you find your dad!”

    “That's actually what she was hoping for,” Kazeo said, putting his arm between us and forcing Fuuka back a few steps.

    “Really?” I asked.

    “Of course!” she said. “Satoshi's my hero, and you're my friend. I want to help both of you out!”

    I turned to Kazeo and said, “And you're ok with it, too?"

    “Sure!” he replied, nodding. “I don't idolize your dad like Fuuka does, but you're my friend.”

    "But... It might be dangerous," I said.

    "All the more reason for us to come with you," Kazeo said.

    Fuuka held her chin up and smiled wickedly.

    “I laugh in the face of danger,” she said.

    "She really does," Kazeo said, pointing sideways at her, "it's kind of scary."

    Fuuka glared at him, but he ignored her.

    “You guys... Thank you... Thank you so much...” I said, my voice still shaky.

    “Don't mention it,” said Kazeo. "How many times do we have to tell you, we want to help you.

    Fuuka nodded, smiling softly.

    “Ok,” I said. “But I'm still really grateful.”

    And this time I really meant it.
    Last edited by Hakajin; 19th November 2014 at 12:38 AM.
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  24. #24
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    Interesting plot you've got here! Oddly enough, this is the first time I've ever read a fic that uses the anime cast as characters, so the first few paragraphs left me deciding on whether or not you were referring to Ash (well, Satoshi) or not, what with all the mentions of Pikachu. Putting him in the "absent father" position much like his own father is pretty cool (and, well, depressing), and how you incorporate Misty, Gary, and the rest of the cast is also good. I'm intrigued with how you're going to treat his absence throughout the story, since judging from what I've read so far, it's gonna be a major part of Satsumi's journey.


    I knew something was wrong when he didn’t come home for my birthday. My mom said it was nothing: “Maybe he just forgot what day it is; you know how absent-minded your dad can be”– but I could tell she was only trying to make me feel better. She pretended that everything was fine, that there was nothing wrong with sitting at a table for two at my favorite restaurant, or with putting a third of my cake back in the fridge, or with actually being able to hear the funny parts of my favorite movie because no one was laughing too loud. Did she think I didn’t notice that her smile was too wide, her voice was too high-pitched and bubbly, or that she kept turning her face away so I wouldn’t see her worried expression? I kept glancing at her while we watched the movie– no, not watched– my mom’s eyes were glued to the TV screen, but she was staring straight through it.
    I agree with The Great Butler's comment that this is a very strong opening. That first sentence has a lot of weight attached to it, and it really grabs the reader's attention from the get-go. When you get to Satsumi's observations of her mom's odd behavior, that weight I felt in the first sentence was suddenly heavier, since now I share both the awareness and worry of the protagonist and feel the conflicting emotions. Really great start.


    But my dreams got put on hold. I was born two and a half months too early, and was sickly for most of my childhood. Fevers, ear infections, and (worst of all), respitory infections– it seemed like there was always something wrong with me. My parents and I hoped I’d be better by the time I turned ten, the age when most kids start their journeys. And I was; at least, I wasn’t sick as often, and when I was, it wasn’t as serious (though I was still small for my age). But my doctor said I still wasn’t healthy enough to travel on my own. My tenth birthday was miserable, and not just because I had a fever. All the other kids my age got to start their journeys; I loved Pokemon just as much as they did, but just because I got sick sometimes... it wasn’t fair! Nothing my parents did to cheer me up worked. They told me, maybe I’d be well enough next year;
    A little nitpicky with this comment, but I felt like this paragraph revealed a lot of Satsumi's backstory in a very little space, and it's not that good of an effect story-wise. It felt like all of these details were put there because they needed to be said and not because it was relevant to what was being said at this point of the prologue (which it was, but I got more of the former than the latter). Instead of each detail being brought up when it was relevant, this made it so that all of the necessary ones were out of the way so that the more plot-important ones would come later on. I know that wasn't the point, and that this was probably the best time to mention most (if not all) of these details, but seeing all of them together like that was a bit abrupt for me.


    The Interlude is an interesting break from Satsumi's story, and it sounds like both the princess' and Satsumi's plots will intersect down the line. While I can't comment much on it since it doesn't reveal too much, I do feel that there's a bit of a disjunct between the first part of the interlude and the latter parts. I think it's brought about by how the first few paragraphs focus on something completely different (her conflict with Mira and her arranged marriage) than the rest of the story (her conflict with Sena and her education, with a little bit of family issues and social hierarchy thrown in). Again, I understand why you included both and why they're necessary, but I feel that they could be presented better by making the two related to each other and not just go from one conflict to the other. Both being in an arranged marriage and education are big deals, and both affect the princess in strong but different ways, but they both possibly have the underlying connection of issues with her father, which would probably be a good parallel to Satsumi's plot. If that was what you were going for, I guess I wanted to see a bit more of that between the lines. Reading the start of Chapter 1, it seems like this is the strange dream that Satsumi couldn't remember, so that parallel is strengthened even further.


    “I just wanted to tell you that I’m so sorry for what’s happened. It’s ok if you’re angry with me, I understand.”

    “I’m not!” I said, shaking my head.

    It wasn’t Professor Ookido’s fault my dad had gone missing; he couldn’t have known what would happen. So it wasn’t fair for me to be angry at him.
    Satsumi's response was oddly calm, considering the descriptions of everyone acting "fake" preceding this, especially since this is the first time where the intentions are, for the lack of a better word, "real." Not really a point of contention, but more of a noteworthy observation, especially considering how Satsumi reacts at a mention of her father in Chapter 2.


    I choked up and couldn’t finish the sentence. I wanted to tell her how much I was going to miss her, and how sorry I was. It seemed like my mom was always getting left behind! When she and my dad were kids, they’d traveled for years together on their Pokemon journey. Then she’d had to go home to take care of the gym in Cerulean City while he went off and had more adventures. Now he was gone again, and I was leaving her, too? It wasn’t fair! Especially when she’d sacrificed so much for me. My mom had been a member of the Elite Four, recognized as the strongest Water-type trainer in the country, until I was born so tiny. Both my parents stayed by my side constantly during my first couple of years, to make sure I was ok, but it was harder on her. Pokemon League Champion wasn’t a job; my dad didn’t have to make appearances. But when my mom couldn’t fulfill her duties as an Elite Four member, she’d had to retire. And this was what she got in return? I wanted to find my dad for her sake, too, so we could be a family again... But if I was doing the right thing, why did I feel so terrible?
    Now, as compared to the first break about Satsumi's backstory, this one seemed much more natural. It's relevant because Satsumi's actions are adding to the previous experiences of her mom's, and listing those experiences heightens that effect. Breaks like this are fine, and it gives backstory to the reader without throwing it onto them.


    “Oh, really?” said the boy (I could tell from his voice that he was definitely a boy).
    Awkward parenthetical insertion here. It could be incorporated better IMO. This can go for many of the other parenthetical inserts in your story. They make the text an abrupt read.


    “I'm just a crybaby,” I continued, trying but failing to stop my voice from breaking.

    Then Kazeo stepped toward me and put his hand on my shoulder. When I looked up at him, he was staring down at me kindly.

    “Don't be silly,” he said. “Who wouldn't cry at a time like this?”

    “Kazeo's right,” said Fuuka, putting her hand on my other shoulder. “You're crying because you love your dad and you're worried about him, right? That's nothing to be embarrassed about.”

    Their words only made the tears come faster, but at least I felt better about it.

    “Don't worry,” Fuuka continued, “he'll definitely come home safe; nothing can defeat Satoshi!”

    She pumped her fist, and I nodded along, but inside, I didn't feel so sure.

    “Plus, Fuuka's got her fan-army looking for him,” Kazeo added.

    “Really?” I asked, looking up at her.

    “Of course,” she said. “Everyone's sharing everything they know, and some of Satoshi's Nirakar fans are investigating for more evidence.”

    I tried to swallow the lump in my throat; this was as good a time as any to tell them my plan.

    “Actually...” I started. “The truth is...”

    “What is it, Satsumi?” Fuuka asked, bending slightly so she was on my level.

    She tried to meet my eyes, but I turned my face to the ground.

    “I-- the reason I started my Pokemon journey is to look for my dad.”

    “Wow!” Fuuka exclaimed, standing up straight and clasping her hands together. “That's amazing! You're so brave, Satsumi! But I guess shouldn't be surprised; you are Satoshi's daughter, after all.”
    I felt like this part of Chapter 2 was fast and rushed. It jumped from point A to point B pretty hastily, as if it was rushing to end the chapter on a definitive note (which it did). One moment Satsumi is feeling bad about her father, then the next she's revealing her plans to her newfound friends. Some improvements in transitioning would help, but I believe that what you have to work on more is your dialogue.

    The dialogues of Satsumi, Fuuka, and Kazeo in Chapter 2 felt much more static and rigid than the dialogue in the previous chapters. There's a part in Chapter 2 where Kazeo says that it wouldn't be the last time that they'll see Retsu, and it doesn't really leave much to the imagination - now, it's 100% guaranteed that Retsu is important because he'll come back in the future. Because of this, too, I felt like the introduction of Fuuka and Kazeo into the scene was a bit too convenient, since it seemed like they already knew what was going on and what was going to happen by the time they entered the picture. This may be a result of their experience, but the build-up of the conflict between Retsu and Fuuka felt too smooth in my opinion, with one line jumping to the next without really focusing on it. Both of these are examples of their dialogue working against the story, since the things they say feels like it's just advancing the plot forward instead of exploring their characters.

    I feel that this applies much more to Kazeo, since I don't really get much out of him apart from being more level-headed and controlled than Fuuka. Having the primary descriptions of a character being comparisons to another character is indicative of the first character not being explored much, and I think this is because his dialogue didn't really show much of his personality. This also goes for Fuuka, though her headstrong and determined personality shines in her actions rather than in her dialogue.

    As for Satsumi, you approach her timidness and cluelessness in chapter 2 pretty well, and I like how this is a stark contrast with the awareness and maturity she displayed in the prologues and chapter 1. Taking her out of her comfort zone is a huge deal, and with her home itself becoming less and less of a comfort zone, the confidence she's built up crumbles at a simple mention of the reason why she left home. I also like how you parallel Fuuka's obsession with Satsumi's love for her dad, and I feel that it would make a very interesting dynamic when the subject of Satoshi comes up again between them. Her dialogue, while still somewhat rigid like Fuuka's and Kazeo's, does portray this personality well, and it will be interesting to see how it evolves throughout her journey.



    Some other comments:

    > I really like how you incorporate little snippets of Satoshi into Chapter 1. It makes you feel his absence so much more.
    > The battle in Chapter 2 had pretty good description. I followed it pretty easily, and you went from one action to another very smoothly. Good job there.
    > I haven't really commented on the "journey" aspect of the story, and I apologize for that since I haven't read a lot of journeyfics myself, and the last one I read was many years ago. The Great Butler brought up a comment about Eevee being an overused starter Pokemon, and while I've heard that comment a lot, I think it's too early to judge you for choosing an Eevee just yet. Sure, Eevee is a convenient starter Pokemon to incorporate into journeyfics, as its multiple evolutions can be a good parallel to the decision-making of its trainer, so it may be a little too convenient when you compare it to other starters. But let's see what you do with their relationship, since that's what's going to count. So far, you depict her struggle pretty clearly, so good job there as well.

    And that's about it for now. Work on your dialogue and your presentation of events, and the characterizations will improve as a result. All the rest of the elements are already good, so I have no doubt that this is gonna churn out a good plot. Keep it up!
    Last edited by Dramatic Melody; 11th November 2014 at 3:28 PM.


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  25. #25
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    Thank you so much for your review! I really appreciate it! I'll definitely take your advice to heart!

    Interesting plot you've got here! Oddly enough, this is the first time I've ever read a fic that uses the anime cast as characters, so the first few paragraphs left me deciding on whether or not you were referring to Ash (well, Satoshi) or not, what with all the mentions of Pikachu. Putting him in the "absent father" position much like his own father is pretty cool (and, well, depressing), and how you incorporate Misty, Gary, and the rest of the cast is also good. I'm intrigued with how you're going to treat his absence throughout the story, since judging from what I've read so far, it's gonna be a major part of Satsumi's journey.
    Thanks! You know, I'm surprised there aren't more fics that jump off the anime... I don't mind the fact that it's not overdone, but it's interesting. Glad that you liked how I incorporated the rest of the canon characters!

    A little nitpicky with this comment, but I felt like this paragraph revealed a lot of Satsumi's backstory in a very little space, and it's not that good of an effect story-wise. It felt like all of these details were put there because they needed to be said and not because it was relevant to what was being said at this point of the prologue (which it was, but I got more of the former than the latter). Instead of each detail being brought up when it was relevant, this made it so that all of the necessary ones were out of the way so that the more plot-important ones would come later on. I know that wasn't the point, and that this was probably the best time to mention most (if not all) of these details, but seeing all of them together like that was a bit abrupt for me.


    The Interlude is an interesting break from Satsumi's story, and it sounds like both the princess' and Satsumi's plots will intersect down the line. While I can't comment much on it since it doesn't reveal too much, I do feel that there's a bit of a disjunct between the first part of the interlude and the latter parts. I think it's brought about by how the first few paragraphs focus on something completely different (her conflict with Mira and her arranged marriage) than the rest of the story (her conflict with Sena and her education, with a little bit of family issues and social hierarchy thrown in). Again, I understand why you included both and why they're necessary, but I feel that they could be presented better by making the two related to each other and not just go from one conflict to the other. Both being in an arranged marriage and education are big deals, and both affect the princess in strong but different ways, but they both possibly have the underlying connection of issues with her father, which would probably be a good parallel to Satsumi's plot. If that was what you were going for, I guess I wanted to see a bit more of that between the lines. Reading the start of Chapter 1, it seems like this is the strange dream that Satsumi couldn't remember, so that parallel is strengthened even further.

    One thing I wonder, though, is if I can really improve on the jumping around given the nature of the story... Like, where the princess is narrating... Since her parts, especially, are very stream of consciousness... Satsumi's telling a story in a direct manner; it's sort of literary, but also sort of like how you'd tell something to a friend. That's what I'm going for, anyway. I feel like some awkward writing actually benefits me here, because Satsumi is young, and she wouldn't be a terribly advanced writer. Eheh, actually, I've had to tone down my vocabulary and such for that reason. The princess is narrating her moment to moment experience. I have her sitting around brooding about stuff, but then Sena's appearance completely changes her train of thought. I feel like that's how people normally think, and... Well, the effect I'm going for in this fic is, I want it to sound like the characters are telling the story as it occurs to them. To me, that's more important than telling the story in a cohesive fashion (although the latter is still important). Is that what it feels like to you? As for the connection with their fathers... Well, I guess that's sort of a parallel, but the relationships are so different. There are other parallels, though, that will come into play later.

    Satsumi's response was oddly calm, considering the descriptions of everyone acting "fake" preceding this, especially since this is the first time where the intentions are, for the lack of a better word, "real." Not really a point of contention, but more of a noteworthy observation, especially considering how Satsumi reacts at a mention of her father in Chapter 2.
    You think so? I mean for Satsumi's response to Shigeru to be vehement here (speaking of vocab I have to avoid in this fic, eheh). I wonder... I don't want to give everything away for you, but I'll give you a hint: Satsumi's not being entirely forth-coming about herself here. There's something she's not telling the reader... And what's not being said is implied by what she is saying. If you read it again, do you think you see what she's hiding?

    Now, as compared to the first break about Satsumi's backstory, this one seemed much more natural. It's relevant because Satsumi's actions are adding to the previous experiences of her mom's, and listing those experiences heightens that effect. Breaks like this are fine, and it gives backstory to the reader without throwing it onto them.
    Ok, thanks! I'll compare the section that worked for you and the one that didn't to see what's different.

    I felt like this part of Chapter 2 was fast and rushed. It jumped from point A to point B pretty hastily, as if it was rushing to end the chapter on a definitive note (which it did). One moment Satsumi is feeling bad about her father, then the next she's revealing her plans to her newfound friends. Some improvements in transitioning would help, but I believe that what you have to work on more is your dialogue.
    Yeah, I was trying to find an ending point... But again, when I think about it, I guess what I was going for here was how quickly people switch states of mind... Or, more than that, Satsumi is uncomfortable showing her feelings and talking about her plans to her friends (I think that's obvious enough to just go ahead and talk about). So when they notice that she's upset, it becomes an opportunity to tell them everything, because she's got nothing more to lose. Is it still jarring?

    The dialogues of Satsumi, Fuuka, and Kazeo in Chapter 2 felt much more static and rigid than the dialogue in the previous chapters. There's a part in Chapter 2 where Kazeo says that it wouldn't be the last time that they'll see Retsu, and it doesn't really leave much to the imagination - now, it's 100% guaranteed that Retsu is important because he'll come back in the future. Because of this, too, I felt like the introduction of Fuuka and Kazeo into the scene was a bit too convenient, since it seemed like they already knew what was going on and what was going to happen by the time they entered the picture. This may be a result of their experience, but the build-up of the conflict between Retsu and Fuuka felt too smooth in my opinion, with one line jumping to the next without really focusing on it. Both of these are examples of their dialogue working against the story, since the things they say feels like it's just advancing the plot forward instead of exploring their characters.
    I was a little confused by this part, actually, because... Well, first of all, I think part of what you're picking up on here is that I'm trying to give this fic a feel similar to the show, so the dialogue is going to seem... Well, with Kazeo's line about Retsu coming back, at least-- I wrote it that way because it seemed like something a character on the show would say. I want this to feel like a continuation of the show, I want it to feel like it's part of the canon. The part I don't get as much is how Retsu and Fuuka's conflict feels like it's advancing the plot. It's funny, because while I was writing it, what I was worried about was, am I slowing the plot too much to focus on the characters' personalities? Because the conversation doesn't tell you anything you didn't already know. What I was trying to show was Fuuka's sense of justice, aggressiveness, confidence, fan-girlishness, and defensiveness of Satsumi. It's fine with me if her character seems kind of stereotypical and flat right now, because... well, because reasons. Actually, I fully expected her to come across that way. It's fine at this point as long as she's still entertaining. With Retsu, I was trying to get across his... sensitivity to being mocked, basically. And also... ugh, again with not wanting to give everything away... But again, at this point, I'm mostly going for entertainment. Anyway, I'm most worried about how readers will respond to Retsu, because the ineffective TR member is so overused. That's actually partly the point, since, like I said, I want something similar to the show. Obviously, I want to develop beyond that, but at this point, when I'm just introducing the characters, that won't be apparent. Anyway! Um... oh, yeah, the dialogue was supposed to be rapid-fire, and sharp and funny, so it's ok if it's smoother than it would be in reality... But yeah, again, my main question here was, in what way does it feel like it's advancing the plot instead of developing the characters? What do you feel would be more effective? Also, I see what you mean about it seeming like they already know what's going on... But how do you think I could change that? I feel like, they wouldn't know what's going on, but they wouldn't exactly be surprised, either... And Fuuka would be on board with looking for Satoshi, no questions asked, so there's not going to be a deliberation process there, where she gets used to the idea... Oh, and I definitely need to work on Kazeo's presentation. He plays an essential role in the story, but I don't have a whole lot for him to do right now... it's a problem.

    As for Satsumi, you approach her timidness and cluelessness in chapter 2 pretty well, and I like how this is a stark contrast with the awareness and maturity she displayed in the prologues and chapter 1. Taking her out of her comfort zone is a huge deal, and with her home itself becoming less and less of a comfort zone, the confidence she's built up crumbles at a simple mention of the reason why she left home. I also like how you parallel Fuuka's obsession with Satsumi's love for her dad, and I feel that it would make a very interesting dynamic when the subject of Satoshi comes up again between them. Her dialogue, while still somewhat rigid like Fuuka's and Kazeo's, does portray this personality well, and it will be interesting to see how it evolves throughout her journey.
    Thank you! I wasn't really thinking about her being mature in the previous chapters... She just knows her family very well and can read them, but she doesn't have much experience with the world beyond them, and... Oh, yeah, Satsumi and Fuuka will be... an interesting mix of personalities. At least, I hope so. Hm... with the dialogue being rigid... the fact that you think Satsumi's dialogue sounds more rigid here, too, makes me think that maybe something I'm trying to get across here is getting through, even if it's not obvious yet. Hm... I wonder...

    > I really like how you incorporate little snippets of Satoshi into Chapter 1. It makes you feel his absence so much more.
    > The battle in Chapter 2 had pretty good description. I followed it pretty easily, and you went from one action to another very smoothly. Good job there.
    > I haven't really commented on the "journey" aspect of the story, and I apologize for that since I haven't read a lot of journeyfics myself, and the last one I read was many years ago. The Great Butler brought up a comment about Eevee being an overused starter Pokemon, and while I've heard that comment a lot, I think it's too early to judge you for choosing an Eevee just yet. Sure, Eevee is a convenient starter Pokemon to incorporate into journeyfics, as its multiple evolutions can be a good parallel to the decision-making of its trainer, so it may be a little too convenient when you compare it to other starters. But let's see what you do with their relationship, since that's what's going to count. So far, you depict her struggle pretty clearly, so good job there as well.
    Oh, thanks! And I'm glad you liked the battle scene; I was worried about it, since... well, I'm so much more interested in the characters that I worry the action will suffer as a result, so I have to be careful. Not much journey has happened yet, and... As for Eevee, I feel like that probably is why Eevee is used so much, but I think it's a valid reason. Since Satsumi will have to experience a lot of growth during this journey and will have to become more decisive, I feel like it's especially appropriate for her. Eheh, I also tried to use the popularity as the reason it was made a starter. Thanks again!
    Last edited by Hakajin; 13th November 2014 at 4:49 AM.
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