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Thread: Reflection (oneshot, PG)

  1. #1
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    Default Reflection (oneshot, PG)

    So I finally decided to write a thing with some of the headcanons I've been kicking around about the Operation Tempest episodes of the anime, and this thing happened.

    It's set immediately after the events of Unova's Survival Crisis , as Giovanni struggles with the consequences of dealing with powers beyond his understanding.

    Please enjoy it!

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Everything is over now, they reassured you. Everything is going to be okay now.

    That was the first lie they told you, as you shook silently the entire flight home. You pretended to be composed, fought every nerve in your body to hold desperately to what little dignity you felt you had left, agreed that you were safe the minute you left the temple.

    Then you found yourself knocking your secretary’s compact mirror out of her hand in a fit of panic, found yourself warning her with words that seemed absurd removed from the situation - those things are dangerous – but in the deepest part of your mind, seemed perfectly reasonable and even necessary at the moment, found out how wrong everything was.

    [Do you see how disgusting you truly are?]

    You heard the words, whispered by a voice your own, but not your own, taunting you from the back of your subconcious. The words you heard before your rescue.

    [In the end, you’ve failed, every time.]

    It wasn’t supposed to be that way, it never was. The ancients were all but destroyed by the mirror’s power, that was true, but you were immune to that, you were promised. You have technology they never even dreamed of, you have more power than they themselves could ever imagine.

    After all, what’s just a fairy and a mirror to you and your vast power?

    [Everything you’ve ever done has been for nothing.]

    You were so sure you’d won. You were so sure you’d managed to harness power those before you never could. That you, a human being, could manage the feat of controlling the gods of the sky itself, and succeed.

    And then one misstep reminded you of your own worthless mortality.

    [In the end, you are nothing too.]

    The things you saw in there were inhuman, but you knew what you saw was inside of you. Somewhere. Just as the true forms of the forces of nature were unholy abominations, claws and wings and talons where they were never meant to be, so was yours, and yet you still knew it to be yourself.

    The knowledge was unbearable.

    [So why waste your time trying?]

    Arceus have mercy, it almost took you. The agony of feeling yourself slipping away, as that twisted thing in the glass took over your body- or was it in control all along?- the burning sensation on your forehead, red hot, as the spell’s runes consumed you, and hearing that song, that infernal song you’d heard just moments before. It was considered the most beautiful in the world by everyone else, but you knew the true, terrifying power behind it now. Even though it had stopped after the summoning, it rang clearer than anything, and through the eyes of whatever your body had become, you could see Meloetta. Freed by the meddling children, while in a sick irony, you yourself were imprisoned. You felt yourself melt away as you tried desperately to cling to the last bits of your worldly self…

    [Just destroy everything. Burn it all to the ground.]

    Now you’re here. Trying to pretend it never happened, even though it’s clear you can’t escape.

    The compact mirror incident was just the start. You came to your senses and apologized to her, said you didn’t know what had come over you. Then in your exhaustion, you nodded off at your desk for just a few moments, only to find yourself shaken awake by your assistant, told you were screaming about destuction. The nightmares returned that night. On top of that, you spent the next few days avoiding mirrors until your abnormally unkempt appearance could no longer be explained away with “spending an all-nighter on some loose ends.”

    You took a few weeks away from the office to try and recover, and left any affairs to your secretary.

    Your most trusted scientist found what he- and you- were sure would be an effective treatment, something to calm your nerves and help you rest. You were sure after the fifth dreamless night of sleep in a row, after you could look at- and in- a mirror without feeling your pulse race, you were finally free of it all.

    You thought you were. And for a few more days, it held, until the events at the temple were all but a memory.

    And then you were alone in your office, sorting through some business, and you could hear it, echoing in your skull, so faintly.

    The song.

    Gods, anything but the song. You put on some music to try and drown it out, and eventually succeeded, but you spent the rest of that day on edge.

    And then that night, you found brushing your teeth an ordeal, rushing through just to get away from your bathroom mirror. Just an ordinary, mundane mirror, nothing magical about it, but you didn’t feel right even being in the same room.

    Then the storm came. A normal occurrence that time of year, but still enough to keep you awake that night for fear of what terrors might return in slumber.

    [Destroy it all.]

    And so the reminders began again. Now they’re not as terrible as they were right after the incident, but they’re still enough to leave you shaken. You’ve finally accepted your fate, the consequence of trying to control the forces of nature.

    And every time you pass a mirror, every time you hear a thunderstorm on the distance, or feel winter’s chill, the song starts echoing, you feel a faint burning sensation on your forehead, and that otherwordly voice sounds again, clearer than ever, so you and only you can hear it.

    [Destroy it.]

    You got off easy, you remember being told. There were rumors of Reveal Glass users being sucked into the world of the glass itself, their bodies claimed completely by their true forms. You managed to escape before it was too late.

    But as you clutch your hand to your burning forehead and try to drown everything out, as your secretary rushes to your side to ask you if you’re alright, you can’t help but wonder how much longer you have before the abomination takes over.

    [Destroy.]

    "Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
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  2. #2
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    I'm really interested in stories about consciousness and identity, so this is right up my alley.

    So, first of all, good use of the second person here; it works when you're already putting the reader in the characters head, and... it interests me how it's different from using "I." Because when you use "I," you're still seeing that character as someone separate from yourself, you're listening to them tell a story. With "you," though... there's more focus on the experience of the character, versus their personality and development. Not that you can't have those things, too, but... That's interesting; I never thought of it that way before. Anyway, it works especially well when the text is so focused on the character's emotional state.

    Everything is over now, they reassured you. Everything is going to be okay now.

    That was the first lie they told you, as you shook silently the entire flight home. You pretended to be composed, fought every nerve in your body to hold desperately to what little dignity you felt you had left, agreed that you were safe the minute you left the temple.

    Then you found yourself knocking your secretary’s compact mirror out of her hand in a fit of panic, found yourself warning her with words that seemed absurd removed from the situation - those things are dangerous – but in the deepest part of your mind, seemed perfectly reasonable and even necessary at the moment, found out how wrong everything was.
    Love this section, especially the line "(you) fought every nerve in your body to hold desperately to what little dignity you felt you had left, agreed that you were safe the minute you left the temple." It conveys the claustrophobia of anxiety so well, how you have to fight yourself. I know that feeling a little too well... Although with me, it's less trying to maintain my dignity than trying not to experience the horrible feeling of panic. Though the former is part of it. I also like how you show here that one small thing can trigger that feeling... and then show how Giovanni's personality is changing despite himself with "but in the deepest part of your mind, seemed perfectly reasonable and even necessary at the moment, found out how wrong everything was."

    [Do you see how disgusting you truly are?]

    You heard the words, whispered by a voice your own, but not your own, taunting you from the back of your subconcious. The words you heard before your rescue.

    [In the end, you’ve failed, every time.]

    It wasn’t supposed to be that way, it never was. The ancients were all but destroyed by the mirror’s power, that was true, but you were immune to that, you were promised. You have technology they never even dreamed of, you have more power than they themselves could ever imagine.

    After all, what’s just a fairy and a mirror to you and your vast power?

    [Everything you’ve ever done has been for nothing.]

    You were so sure you’d won. You were so sure you’d managed to harness power those before you never could. That you, a human being, could manage the feat of controlling the gods of the sky itself, and succeed.

    And then one misstep reminded you of your own worthless mortality.

    [In the end, you are nothing too.]

    The things you saw in there were inhuman, but you knew what you saw was inside of you. Somewhere. Just as the true forms of the forces of nature were unholy abominations, claws and wings and talons where they were never meant to be, so was yours, and yet you still knew it to be yourself.
    So, I like how you started out very vague in this story, and you narrow the focus pretty well. My favorite part of this section was the part where you show how easily Giovanni's self-delusion is shattered; we try to believe things about ourselves, but in the end, those images are pretty fragile, because we know the truth. I think so, anyway. The part that says "and yet you still knew it to be yourself," especially interested me, because... well, it's all about the blurred line between self and other. Giovanni's been possessed by something that's not him, and yet, he's experiencing its thoughts and desires.

    Arceus have mercy, it almost took you. The agony of feeling yourself slipping away, as that twisted thing in the glass took over your body- or was it in control all along?- the burning sensation on your forehead, red hot, as the spell’s runes consumed you, and hearing that song, that infernal song you’d heard just moments before. It was considered the most beautiful in the world by everyone else, but you knew the true, terrifying power behind it now. Even though it had stopped after the summoning, it rang clearer than anything, and through the eyes of whatever your body had become, you could see Meloetta. Freed by the meddling children, while in a sick irony, you yourself were imprisoned. You felt yourself melt away as you tried desperately to cling to the last bits of your worldly self…
    Oh, God, the idea of losing the self is just terrifying to me; just reading about it makes me feel anxious. Although... I wasn't clear on whether Giovanni was in danger of losing conscious awareness, or whether his personality was just disappearing. One is substantially less scary than the other to me. But the lines about his "burning forehead" and "red hot runes" were evocative; I very much got the sense of feverishness. The use of the mirror here is also great; it was disorienting, almost dizzying, which reflects (eheh, no pun intended) the confusion Giovanni must be experiencing.

    You thought you were. And for a few more days, it held, until the events at the temple were all but a memory.

    And then you were alone in your office, sorting through some business, and you could hear it, echoing in your skull, so faintly.

    The song.

    Gods, anything but the song. You put on some music to try and drown it out, and eventually succeeded, but you spent the rest of that day on edge.

    And then that night, you found brushing your teeth an ordeal, rushing through just to get away from your bathroom mirror. Just an ordinary, mundane mirror, nothing magical about it, but you didn’t feel right even being in the same room.

    Then the storm came. A normal occurrence that time of year, but still enough to keep you awake that night for fear of what terrors might return in slumber.
    Agh, it's just the worst when you think you're finally over something, you're finally out of the woods, and then something happens that just ruins it all. I felt that pretty well here.

    And so the reminders began again. Now they’re not as terrible as they were right after the incident, but they’re still enough to leave you shaken. You’ve finally accepted your fate, the consequence of trying to control the forces of nature.

    And every time you pass a mirror, every time you hear a thunderstorm on the distance, or feel winter’s chill, the song starts echoing, you feel a faint burning sensation on your forehead, and that otherwordly voice sounds again, clearer than ever, so you and only you can hear it.

    [Destroy it.]

    You got off easy, you remember being told. There were rumors of Reveal Glass users being sucked into the world of the glass itself, their bodies claimed completely by their true forms. You managed to escape before it was too late.

    But as you clutch your hand to your burning forehead and try to drown everything out, as your secretary rushes to your side to ask you if you’re alright, you can’t help but wonder how much longer you have before the abomination takes over.

    [Destroy.]
    Really like how you ended this not with Giovanni giving in, but with his fate already sealed; creates a strong sense of dread. Like, there's sort of a relief when the bad thing happens in a story, because at least it's over. But when it's still coming, that tension isn't released, and... Well, it depends on the story, but it's effective here.

    Great job overall! You've got interesting themes about identity, and you build a strong sense of anxiety and dread (which isn't easy to do). If I had to pick out something I thought could be improved... I dunno, the writing seems a little formal and stiff in a way. I mean, I guess that fits Giovanni's character, but to me, it feels like it's trying too hard to sound... weighty? Yes, I think that's the word. I feel like that's a nit-pick, though.
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  3. #3
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    This is a beautiful oneshot for Halloween, and while I haven't really watched the anime in some time, I do remember the Reveal Glass episode, and I remember being a little freaked out by it. Seeing this from Giovanni's perspective, though...this is the stuff of nightmares, the kind of stuff that you never forget in a story.

    The description of Giovanni nearly losing himself to the monster that was inside of him was spot-on and very vivid. Seeing him freak out whenever there was a mirror near him hit home, if only because I'm afraid of mirrors as well. And I loved the way that you put emphasis on the song without using a description; it made me think on what could possibly sound so horrifying as to send someone like Giovanni into a panic.

    The ending also hits hard because it sounds like so many others who struggle with psychological disorders...because you just don't know when it'll come back and how long you have before you lose yourself to it. You use every word to achieve this effect.

    All in all, I really enjoyed this oneshot. It's rare that you see a fic focusing on Giovanni, and I feel that you nailed his character to the letter, which helps your fic stand out more. Kudos to you.

    Mem.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hakajin View Post
    I'm really interested in stories about consciousness and identity, so this is right up my alley.

    Love this section, especially the line "(you) fought every nerve in your body to hold desperately to what little dignity you felt you had left, agreed that you were safe the minute you left the temple." It conveys the claustrophobia of anxiety so well, how you have to fight yourself. I know that feeling a little too well... Although with me, it's less trying to maintain my dignity than trying not to experience the horrible feeling of panic. Though the former is part of it. I also like how you show here that one small thing can trigger that feeling... and then show how Giovanni's personality is changing despite himself with "but in the deepest part of your mind, seemed perfectly reasonable and even necessary at the moment, found out how wrong everything was."
    Thanks for this. I deal with an anxiety disorder, and one reason the Tempest episodes really resonate with me is because I can identify so strongly with the terror of having something that's you but not you take over, and honestly what Gio went through with the Reveal Glass in that episode struck me as a really good visualization of how one of my attacks feel. A lot of the description of his emotions in this story was partly inspired by my experiences with bad panic attacks.


    Oh, God, the idea of losing the self is just terrifying to me; just reading about it makes me feel anxious. Although... I wasn't clear on whether Giovanni was in danger of losing conscious awareness, or whether his personality was just disappearing. One is substantially less scary than the other to me. But the lines about his "burning forehead" and "red hot runes" were evocative; I very much got the sense of feverishness. The use of the mirror here is also great; it was disorienting, almost dizzying, which reflects (eheh, no pun intended) the confusion Giovanni must be experiencing.
    I kind of feel like he's not even sure.


    Great job overall! You've got interesting themes about identity, and you build a strong sense of anxiety and dread (which isn't easy to do). If I had to pick out something I thought could be improved... I dunno, the writing seems a little formal and stiff in a way. I mean, I guess that fits Giovanni's character, but to me, it feels like it's trying too hard to sound... weighty? Yes, I think that's the word. I feel like that's a nit-pick, though.
    Yeah, a big part of it is I was trying hard to reflect his formal speech patterns and how his subconcious probably reflects that as well. I can definitely see what you mean with your last comment, however.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilentMemento
    This is a beautiful oneshot for Halloween, and while I haven't really watched the anime in some time, I do remember the Reveal Glass episode, and I remember being a little freaked out by it. Seeing this from Giovanni's perspective, though...this is the stuff of nightmares, the kind of stuff that you never forget in a story.
    Exactly why I love it so much. Every re-watch just makes me realize how terrifying it is, and it only gets better each time. It's a great pair of episodes to really let the imagination run wild in.


    The description of Giovanni nearly losing himself to the monster that was inside of him was spot-on and very vivid. Seeing him freak out whenever there was a mirror near him hit home, if only because I'm afraid of mirrors as well. And I loved the way that you put emphasis on the song without using a description; it made me think on what could possibly sound so horrifying as to send someone like Giovanni into a panic.
    A lot of the inspiration for the description in this story came from the Poe story "The Tell-Tale Heart"- especially the song part. I actually re-read the story before I wrote this to really get a feel for how to describe sounds where it's not clear if they're real or a hallucination in the subject's head.

    All in all, I really enjoyed this oneshot. It's rare that you see a fic focusing on Giovanni, and I feel that you nailed his character to the letter, which helps your fic stand out more. Kudos to you.
    Thanks, I try to fill holes in the fandom for less common characters like Giovanni who need their stories told just as much.

    "Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories."
    -Stephen King

    I write odd slice of life stories about Team Rocket. If that's your thing, give them a look:

    Alpha Male- behind every friendship is a story. Perspective contest fourth place winner.
    Secretary- A short and cynical tale of paperwork and sadism
    Survival- A novella about the unbreakable bonds between one man and his feline friend. 2011 Pokemon Big Bang story.


  5. #5
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    Just as the true forms of the forces of nature were unholy abominations, claws and wings and talons where they were never meant to be
    Somehow I never looked at Landorus and company in such a creepy light. I've gotta say, I think I like it.

    Lately I've been trying to catch up on the anime--currently I'm several seasons behind. Reason I mention this is because I'm looking at the article about that episode and wow. Looks like I've been missing some good ****.

    That said, giving me extra motivation to catch up with all those episodes isn't all this fic has going for it. It had this nice little current of unease all throughout. Really gave a good and proper sense of watching someone crumble like a cookie, and I rather enjoyed getting to "watch".

    Also hot damn, did it ever end on a cool note.
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  6. #6
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    REVIEW TIEM

    First off, I will admit I do not like Giovanni. It's admittedly for extremely petty reasons unrelated to his actual character, but still, he's one of the very few characters, human or Pokemon, in this franchise I outright dislike...

    That is, until I read this fic. Because holy **** here you made him human and sympathetic and REAL and hnnnnnnnnnnng it's so great.

    You also do a good job of putting a disturbing new spin on the anime episode this is based on (which I've watched, by the way), which is certainly fun. The description of the Kami trio as rather eldritch certainly helps, as Sike noted.

    Tornadus: <I disagree! This is slander!>

    Thundurus: <Yeah! We're totally nice guys, we swear!>

    *shoves them aside* Sorry, that's my depictions of them talking there.

    But yeah, very nice job here, and you actually gave me a higher opinion of Giovanni. Totally deserves the nomination.
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