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Thread: Salvage

  1. #176
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    ( Continued from previous post. )

    The noise is so loud you don't even hear it at first. You're screaming with both hands in the air, and the roar of the crowd feels like it's coursing through your veins instead of blood, resonating all around you, inside and outside at once. You did it. You won. Absol told you it would never work, but it totally did. This is the best. You are the best. And now everybody knows it.

    You realize some of the healers are patting you on the back, murmuring congratulations. The challenger's box rattles back to earth beside you, and the great Nathaniel Morgan scoops his pokéballs out of the healing machine built into its railing. He spends a minute just rolling them in his hand, looking exhausted, but his eyes narrow when they settle on you. "You. Keep up." He sets off towards the stands, and you follow, floating in a dreamy haze and only vaguely aware of the reporters who crowd around the great Nathaniel Morgan, jostling you without appearing to notice you're there.

    "Mr. Morgan! Mr. Morgan, how does it feel to be going to the finals?"

    "Mr. Morgan! Why do you use so many pokémon without pokéballs?"

    "Mr. Morgan! Can you explain how you chose your nickname for the tournament?"

    The great Nathaniel Morgan plows through like he doesn't even see them, not a "fuck you" spared for anyone. You hesitate a second, airy mood pierced by the sense that something's not right, before plunging forward into the dark, echoey tunnel that leads beneath the stands.

    The great Nathaniel Morgan isn't slowing down. You hurry to stay behind him, try to get close enough to whisper so he can hear without the reporters catching on. "Great Nathaniel Morgan," you start, then yelp when he grabs your arm and drags you sideways into a prep room, slamming the door behind him.

    "Just what in the fuck was that?" he snarls, two inches from your face. You can only stare. He's mad?

    "Well?" he yells. "What the fuck is the matter with you? You just gonna do whatever the fuck you want on the field, and fuck what I say? You think it's funny? You think--"

    You brighten as you realize what he's talking about. "Actually, it was pretty--"

    "Shut the fuck up! Have you gone fucking insane? You see the scariest motherfucking blastoise on the entire fucking planet and, what, you pop a huge boner for throwing yourself right the fuck in front of it?"

    "What are you even--"

    "In the fucking semis? You're going to pull shit like that in a fucking semifinal match, when you know we can't lose? Hell, it was you who wouldn't shut up with the bitching about how much was riding on this, then, you--this? You can't even, you can't--" He's interrupted by a bout of coughing, reaching out to steady himself against the wall.

    "Are you done talking now?" you ask.

    He shakes his head and wheezes, "I ain't done, you--" But his cough gets the better of him again.

    "I knew we had to win that battle. That is why I went out against the blastoise. Because you were losing," you say as the great Nathaniel Morgan slumps down on a bench, trying to get his breath back.

    "You--" he manages to get out, but now you're the one who won't let him get any farther.

    "You were not believing in yourself," you say peevishly. "You were convinced you were going to lose. I had to do something to turn things around."

    "Wh-what?" the great Nathaniel Morgan gasps. "What are you, some kind of fucking shrink? You thought fighting that fucking monster would help?"

    "Yes. I wanted you to get mad so you would stop being afraid."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan leans forward, face livid and teeth bared. "I don't need your fucking help, asshole. I know what the fuck I'm doing. You think I didn't know we were in deep shit? You think I didn't fucking care, like I just wasn't trying hard enough or some bullshit?"

    "Of course I knew you cared. If you did not, you would not have gotten mad when I went on the field. And anyway," you add, cutting off an angry retort, "it worked, did it not? We won."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan stares at you for a moment, then looks past you, like he's contemplating something off in the distance. "We won," he says slowly.

    "Exactly. Thanks to me. I beat Blastoise for you, remember? And basically Electivire, too."

    A brief smile flickers across the great Nathaniel Morgan's face. "Yeah, I guess that was kind of badass."

    "More like really badass. So stop complaining. Now are we going back to the apartment or what?"

    He's taking the pokéballs off his belt instead. His pokémon take shape in dazzling bursts of white.

    "What's up?" Raticate asks. "Did we win?"

    Mightyena jumps on the great Nathaniel Morgan the instant she solidifies, and he laughs and hugs her around the neck. She slobbers all over his face, but he just keeps laughing and laughing, hanging on tight while Mightyena wriggles and bounces on her hind legs.

    "Well, I guess that's my answer," Raticate grumbles. "Hey! Where's the love?" He jumps up next to his trainer, and the great Nathaniel Morgan gathers him under an arm. The human endeavors to scratch under the rat's chin and handle Mightyena at the same time, but the dark-type keeps shoving up against him until she's nearly driven him off the far side of the bench.

    "We won!" the great Nathaniel Morgan says in frank, delighted disbelief. "We fucking won! Hell yeah! Take that, you fucking academy nerd!"

    "Okay, but what happened?" Raticate asks. He pushes Mightyena out of the way and settles himself in the great Nathaniel Morgan's lap, stretching out flat while his trainer scratches along his spine. "Some of us were stuck inside a pokéball for the good parts, you know."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan's head snaps up when you repeat Raticate's question, and for a second he stares at you like he doesn't recognize you. Then he says, "Oh, man, it was fucking awesome. I mean, I guess you know all about the muk, right? But Mightyena fought a salamence, and then there was this fucking blastoise..."

    "I punched an aggron," Graveler offers. She's standing off to one side as usual.

    "Well, it's gonna be on TV, ain't it? Like all kinds of replays and shit. You can see the whole thing." The great Nathaniel Morgan chuckles, a dazed but giddy look on his face. "I mean, it's gonna be on TV. All those losers back at base can suck it, I'm gonna go against fucking Red. Here, come on, we gotta celebrate. I mean, we got the money now, right? We should, like, go out to eat or something. Somewhere all fancy, you know? Come on, I'm fucking starving."

    He pulls himself up with the help of the wall and gently pushes past his clamoring pokémon. Raticate and Mightyena climb over each other, yelling about what restaurant they want to go to. The great Nathaniel Morgan herds them towards the door, Graveler stomping up behind. He turns back to you, arms crossed over his chest. "Well? You gonna stand there all fucking day, or what?"

    You have no idea what he's talking about. He rolls his eyes and motions towards the door.

    "I can come?"

    "Not if you don't get your ass over here right this second."

    You hesitate. There must be some kind of trick. But the great Nathaniel Morgan turns to go, and the door nearly closes behind him before you run up to catch it. The great Nathaniel Morgan ignores you, and you hang around at the rear of the group, curious and somehow hopeful besides. Today is a day for surprises, you suppose.

    Absol meets you in front of the restaurant, then appears at your table before the rest of you can even cross the room, and you grin at her showing off. At first you're wary when the great Nathaniel Morgan insists you sit across from him, but after a couple minutes you realize he only invited you so he could keep up with his pokémon's conversation, prodding you to translate between bites of your food. That makes sense, then. You can settle in and enjoy the dinner, an all-you-can-eat buffet for humans and pokémon both.

    The great Nathaniel Morgan mostly just listens and shovels food into his mouth. Down towards the end of the table Graveler does the same, steadily crunching her way through a pile of rust-red Indigo Plateau rock. You imagine some poor lackey chef getting shoved out the back door with a bucket and a pick whenever the buffet runs low.

    Raticate and Mightyena swap details of their matches, only slightly exaggerated. "What? Your substitute scared the crap out of a dragon? You've got to--well, actually, I can kind of see that," Raticate says. "Anyway, listen, at least you didn't have to literally swim in a muk, which by the way is made of poison death and just the smell could kill you."

    "What, you're saying you'd rather face the salamence?"

    "Honestly..."

    "Well, I couldn't send Mightyena against a muk," the great Nathaniel Morgan says. "I mean, with her nose? She wouldn't be able to take the stench. You did good, buddy. It was a tough fight."

    Raticate stares at him, ears flattened against his skull. "Nate, I can smell better than Mightyena."

    "But you smell worse," Mightyena says. Raticate throws a gnawed chicken bone at her.

    The great Nathaniel Morgan's brows knit together in a frown. "Wait, what? I mean, she's a dog, they got super noses, don't they?"

    "I swear, your lot have the best PR," Raticate says to Mightyena.

    "Don't know what you're talking about, you filthy, disease-ridden vermin," Mightyena says brightly. "Anyway, that's about it for us, isn't it? Now what were you talking about with a blastoise, Nate?"

    "Oh, that. This asshole's the one you want to talk to about that."

    You sit back, so surprised your fork clanks off the plate as you set it down. "You want me to tell it?" The great Nathaniel Morgan nods and makes circular "go on" motions with his fork while he chews.

    "Well, there was this really big blastoise. She was super old," you begin, and smile as you remember what it was like to stare her down across the battlefield, how scary she was. But you won.

    Soon enough you're absorbed in telling the story, arguing back over Raticate and Mightyena's skepticism, getting the great Nathaniel Morgan to back you up on the best parts. Of course you don't mention how you actually won, how you had to change--you don't want the great Nathaniel Morgan getting mad again now.

    Raticate's still scurrying back to the buffet now and again to grab more food, but everyone else seems more interested in chatting and slowly finishing whatever's left on their plates. Graveler's no more outgoing than usual, and of course Absol's been quiet the whole time, daintily murdering a couple of extremely rare steaks. The other three banter back and forth about what it would be like to have a salamence on their team, which somehow evolves into the great Nathaniel Morgan regaling them with the story of how he set a high school teacher's car on fire. "So they kicked me out," he says. "And that was supposed to be the punishment! Holy shit, if I'd known I woulda done it years earlier, saved us all some time."

    In the end even Raticate's reduced to desultory picking at his plate and the great Nathaniel Morgan's dozing where he sits. You're none too alert yourself, stuffed so full it's almost painful. You've been talking for practically everyone, after all, and as lethargic silence settles over the table it's nice to slide down in your chair and not have to say anything, just smile as you watch Mightyena get increasingly blatant about stealing scraps off her trainer's plate.

    This goes on until she gets greedy about some bits of ham at the far opposite side of the plate and ends up knocking everything into the great Nathaniel Morgan's lap. "Come on, come on, let's get back already so I can get some goddamned sleep," the human grumbles. "Someone thought it would be funny to raise my blood pressure right through the fucking roof today. I'm beat." The procession that leaves the restaurant is far slower than the one that arrived, the great Nathaniel Morgan falling asleep on Graveler's back after only a few minutes. Raticate climbs up to join him, curling up to sleep in his trainer's lap.

    By the time you get back to the apartment you're feeling pretty beat yourself. The great Nathaniel Morgan and his pokémon pile off to the bedroom while you contemplate the television. But no, even that feels like too much effort, so you climb into your chair and pick up Captain Rubina Roth, who was guarding it while you were away. Curled up with an overfull stomach and the good captain hugged against your chest and the weariness of the day's battle dragging at you, you settle in warm and content for a good night's sleep.

    Something cold and sharp seizes your shoulder. "Cordierite-eyes." The hissed word is cold, too and loud, coming from about two centimeters away from your ear.

    You sit up too fast, heart racing. The comfortably small chair suddenly feels confining. "What?" For once you don't even try to hide your annoyance.

    Eskar perches on the arm of the chair, behind your head so you have to twist all around to even see her. The sliver moon, just visible through the window, lights her gems like shards of colored glass.

    "Ah, Cordierite-eyes," Eskar sighs. "Sometimes I worry."

    "About what?"

    "About you, Cordierite-eyes." For once Eskar's not smiling.

    "Me?"

    "Yes, you. You worry me, yes, yes."

    "Why?" you ask. You want to sleep. Why can't she just spit it out?

    "The human," Eskar says. "You know that Illite-eyes will be so displeased if she can't get Lazurite-eyes. But I think, ah, I think, when the time comes, perhaps you will not be so willing to hand him over, you see?"

    "What? Of course I will! What are you talking about?"

    "Please, please." Eskar holds up her hands. "No disrespect. You know I like you, Cordierite-eyes. We are good friends, are we not? But I think maybe you are also a little too friendly with Lazurite-eyes. Perhaps you think he is not so bad, yes?"

    "No!" Your flames cast tall, flickering shadows over walls and ceiling. You can't let them go as much as you like, though, have to clamp down on another yell. The great Nathaniel Morgan and his pokémon are sleeping in the next room, or in the case of Graveler, most likely not sleeping at all. "I hate him! Of course I hate him. Don't be stupid," you go on in a whisper.

    "Good, good," Eskar purrs. "But I worry. I do. You see how he tries to manipulate us?" She points to your hand, and you look down. You forgot all about Captain Rubina Roth, and only now do you realize how tight you're squeezing her, so tight her plastic edges are digging into the insides of your fingers.

    "Let me see that," Eskar says, and snatches Captain Rubina Roth away before you can say no. One bite snaps the action figure clear in half, and Eskar spits the upper portion carelessly away.

    "Hey!" you say, and struggle to uncurl out of the chair and go after it. You flinch back when Eskar shoves the remainder of Captain Rubina Roth in your face, brandishing the torsoless legs like a poker. "No, Cordierite-eyes. No. This is how he buys us, you see? With cheap trinkets like this. Worthless trash!" She reaches into her chest and pulls out a chip of rock--one of the gemstones the great Nathaniel Morgan gave her, you realize. Its glossy surface glints in the moonlight, but you can't tell its color.

    "Useless thing. It's dyed, you know. Cheap, cheap trash," Eskar says. "But watch now, Cordierite-eyes. Watch." She drops Captain Rubina Roth's legs and scratches something into the back of the gem, claw squeaking and rasping through a few quick, efficient strokes. "You see?" Eskar holds the gem up for your inspection.

    You squint but can't make out the symbol by the shifting light of your fire. "Illite-eyes' own mark," Eskar says softly. "It means you have her protection. Good for one favor, yes? Take it. Take."

    You reach out, slowly, and Eskar drops the gemstone into your palm. You feel the scratches on it as you close it in a fist, but still can't tell what they form. "My gift to you," Eskar says. "Very precious. It is good to have the regard of Team Rocket, yes? And we are good friends, are we not, Cordierite-eyes?"

    You nod, hesitantly. You don't really want a gift from Team Rocket. You don't want to be friends with them at all. But it could be useful.

    "Lazurite-eyes, he tries to bribe with his worthless little gifts. Pfeh! His pokémon, they love it. But we are not so easily bought, Cordierite-eyes, are we? We will not be swayed by cheap trinkets."

    Not that she gave you much choice, you think with a flash of resentment. But you already had an action figure like that anyway. And Eskar's right, it's a pretty cheap toy. "No. And you don't have to worry. The great Nathaniel Morgan deserves to go to the boss. I told you you could have him, and I meant it. I'm not a liar. I won't go back on my word."

    "Ah, good, good, Cordierite-eyes," Eskar chirrs. "Such a good friend. I am much reassured."

    "Is that it? I want to go to sleep."

    Eskar shakes her head. "Ah, Cordierite-eyes, ah--"

    "What are you doing?"

    Eskar hisses a curse between her teeth, head snapping 180° in a single abrupt twist. You know Absol well, though, and you aren't surprised when she steps from the darkness beside the couch.

    "Absol! We're just talking."

    "I can see that," Absol says. She never looks at Eskar, but the sableye perches tense on the arm of the chair, overwide mouth curved down in a frown. "And why is it that you're talking to this... person?"

    "Because I want to," you say, folding your arms over your chest. "Why are you here? You never visit except for training."

    "This sableye is not trustworthy. It is not safe to do business with her."

    "Ruby-eyes! Please! Such slander!" Eskar says. She freezes, poised on the edge of the chair arm, as Absol tips her blade in her direction. But Eskar's constant smile is back. "Team Rocket always keeps its promises. It's good business, yes?"

    "Eskar's on our side, Absol. I asked her to help with the tournament, and she said yes. A lot faster than you did." You shift around in the chair, averting your eyes from Absol's steady gaze. "We need her."

    "Need can't justify everything," Absol says firmly, ignoring Eskar's affronted gasp.

    You're pretty sure Eskar's only pretending to care what Absol says, but still. You care. It's always the same thing with Absol.

    "You didn't have a problem with me being around the great Nathaniel Morgan, and he's from Team Rocket, too. Is this about him? Are you mad because I'm sending him back?"

    "The human is of no consequence," Absol says. "You are the one I'm worried about."

    "Well, I'm fine. I already told you, I don't want to hear you complain about the tournament anymore. Go away if you don't have anything else to say."

    Absol stands there, looking between you and Eskar. For once you think she's being quiet because she doesn't know what to say. "I don't want you to get hurt," she says at last.

    "Please, please, Ruby-eyes," Eskar says, holding up a hand. "I am not here to hurt anyone. Cordierite-eyes and I are friends, yes? There is no reason to fear."

    "I'm not going to get hurt, Absol," you say. "Now go away already."

    She stands and looks at you, until Eskar says, soft as a breath, "Cordierite-eyes asked you to leave."

    That brings Absol's attention around to her, hard and coldly furious like you've never seen. Absol levels her blade at the sableye again. "You are the one who should leave," Absol says. "I have not agreed to tolerate you."

    "Absol, come on!"

    "Is that so, Ruby-eyes?" Eskar says, and there's real laughter in her voice now. "Cordierite-eyes has made their decision, yes? You can't interfere, watcher-cat. Both of us, we know you are bound."

    "Absol, I told you to go away. I know you're trying to help, but you're not."

    Eskar holds Absol's gaze without flinching, smiling wide, so wide, like there isn't a blade hovering in front of her nose, like Absol isn't standing with claws splayed in the carpet, muscles tense beneath her silky fur. "Cordierite-eyes says to leave," Eskar says quietly.

    At last Absol turns away. "We will discuss this later," she says.

    "No we won't!" you say, as loud as you dare. You sit with your hands balled into tight fists, flames hissing and crackling in your ears while Absol melts back into shadow. She can't make you. She can't.

    "Sorry," you say, unable to meet Eskar's eyes. "Sorry, she just... She can be like that sometimes."

    "Worry not, Cordierite-eyes, worry not." Eskar waves a hand dismissively. "Watcher-cats, yes? Crazy, all of them. Let her worry if she will. You will show her, yes?"

    "Yeah." You take a deep breath and let your flames die back, slowly, to gutter fitfully at shoulder length. "We'll win the tournament, and then she'll see I was right."

    "Of course, Corierite-eyes."

    "So is that it?" you ask. "You don't have to worry. I'll make sure you get the great Nathaniel Morgan back."

    "Ah, Cordierite-eyes." Eskar looks away from you, wringing her hands clean through one another in little puffs of ectoplasm. "Ah, Cordierite-eyes, I fear there is one other thing."

    Your flames are trying to flare up again, from threading fear this time. "What?"

    "Well, you see, Cordierite-eyes, Illite-eyes, she is not pleased. 'Why haven't you found them?' she asks me. 'What are you doing out there? Should I send someone else?' So angry, Cordierite-eyes. So angry."

    "So...?"

    "So I fear I must ask something else of you, Cordierite-eyes. If I were to turn our human friend in, such rewards I would have! But no. Instead I say nothing. And so Illite-eyes gives me nothing, no, not even the smallest treat. So I must ask you for something. Something for Eskar, for her service and her hardship, yes?"

    "So what do you want?" you ask after a moment, but you already know, of course, you know before Eskar tips her head and taps a claw against one gemstone eye.

    Your stomach turns over, bile souring your throat. You wish you didn't have so much for dinner. "That's okay," you manage to get out. "I can give you another eye, if that's what you want."

    "Oh, Cordierite-eyes, you don't understand! Illite-eyes wants Lazurite-eyes so very badly, so very badly indeed. If someone let slip where he was to be found, if they gave just the tiniest little hint..."

    "I know!" It's half a shout, choked down at the last second. You have to take a moment to gather yourself before continuing. "I know, Eskar. It's okay. You can have another eye. It's fine."

    "Ah, Cordierite-eyes! I like you, I really do. Such a good friend." Eskar gives you a dazzling smile. "But I'm afraid my rates have gone up."

  2. #177
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    OKAY SO. Finally I've caught up. Probably could've done so sooner, but I'm in something of a REREAD FRICKIN EVERYTHING phase these days, so. On the plus side, that did give me a chance to check out those revisions--speaking of which. It could just be that this is my second time around reading this, therefore kinda knowing what I'm getting myself into this time, but I kind of get the feeling somehow that even if it weren't I'd have had an easier time following the early parts of the story this time around?? At any rate, it was a smoother read, is what I'm getting at.

    First off, loved the poochyena extra. She is such a frickin dog, holy ****. I love it. I love the sheer dogginess of the way she decided to test Nate near the end. And I like getting to read some POV of a pet-shop pokémon; neat to see how one of those views the wild.

    I continue to like the actual frell out of Eskar--more than ever, as a matter of fact, what with her scene in that last chapter. And that conversation with Graveler several chapters back, omg. Precious geology nerds.

    God, speaking of geology. The ****in rock porn conversation. Frickin priceless.

    Some real gems among Child and co.'s opponents through these recent battles. That muk takes the top prize, hands down, but I liked Blastoise pretty well too. And Electivire.

    Anyhoo, this has been a fun few afternoons on my end. Still enjoying the heck outta this, and looking forward to more.

  3. #178
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    Another uncomfortably close hydro pump roars past, and then you realize--your head is on fire. That's how. There's no hiding, then. Sooner or later Blastoise'll hit you, and that'll be the end.
    Heh, that's one downside to choosing to be an infernape. Aren't infernape able to subdue their fire, though? It could be suspicious, but with as deep a hole as its in, it could probably get by without attracting attention.

    "Infernape, come on! You have to get out of there!" No, really?
    Good ol' Nate, pointing out the obvious.

    Now that I've read the entire chapter, I have to say his dialogue during the Blastoise vs. Infernape part of the battle was a tad underwhelming. I liked that Nate wasn't forgotten and shoved to the background in favor of letting the child do whatever, because their angry and disobedient dynamic is always amusing and key to them working together, but the dialogue didn't really feel like Nate was really there after a while, if that makes sense. I know he can't go overboard with swearing here, but the majority of his dialogue during this battle segment was just like the quoted portion, stating the obvious and without real emotion or depth added. Basically, his dialogue started to feel forced rather quickly.

    Nobody wants to have to scrape her off the bottom of the arena."
    If I were Nate, I'd freak out on her after this comment. Geez. Glad she got beaten in the end. >_>

    You flop to the ground and stretch out like you're following orders, but what you're really doing is changing your ability back to blaze. It's probably too much to hope that you can keep absorbing your opponent's attacks without anyone noticing.
    Well, I'm glad the child did take advantage of the fissure in some way. XD I wonder if an advanced trainer like Aanya Singh will notice something was off and report Nate.

    A couple pointed comments about how much brain damage Salamence must have after throwing herself off a bunch of cliffs really spoil the mood.
    Heh, amusing homage to Bagon's pokedex entry here.

    "I knew we had to win that battle. That is why I went out against the blastoise. Because you were losing," you say as the great Nathaniel Morgan slumps down on a bench, trying to get his breath back.

    "You--" he manages to get out, but now you're the one who won't let him get any farther.

    "You were not believing in yourself," you say peevishly. "You were convinced you were going to lose. I had to do something to turn things around."

    "Wh-what?" the great Nathaniel Morgan gasps. "What are you, some kind of ****ing shrink? You thought fighting that ****ing monster would help?"

    "Yes. I wanted you to get mad so you would stop being afraid."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan leans forward, face livid and teeth bared. "I don't need your ****ing help, *******. I know what the **** I'm doing. You think I didn't know we were in deep ****? You think I didn't ****ing care, like I just wasn't trying hard enough or some ********?"

    "Of course I knew you cared. If you did not, you would not have gotten mad when I went on the field. And anyway," you add, cutting off an angry retort, "it worked, did it not? We won."

    The great Nathaniel Morgan stares at you for a moment, then looks past you, like he's contemplating something off in the distance. "We won," he says slowly.

    "Exactly. Thanks to me. I beat Blastoise for you, remember? And basically Electivire, too."

    A brief smile flickers across the great Nathaniel Morgan's face. "Yeah, I guess that was kind of badass."

    "More like really badass. So stop complaining. Now are we going back to the apartment or what?"
    Okay, but I really loved this entire conversation. They're both really stubborn and angry but they come to the agreement that, yeah, things actually worked out in the best way possible, so it's time to celebrate. XD

    "I punched an aggron," Graveler offers. She's standing off to one side as usual.
    MVP of the team, obviously. :P

    You can settle in and enjoy the dinner, an all-you-can-eat buffet for humans and pokémon both.
    I'm still in the mindset that the entire situation surrounding Nate and the child working together is super messed up, but scenes like this make me root for them still. When everything inevitably falls apart, my heart's going to break, I just know it.

    "No!" Your flames cast tall, flickering shadows over walls and ceiling. You can't let them go as much as you like, though, have to clamp down on another yell. The great Nathaniel Morgan and his pokémon are sleeping in the next room, or in the case of Graveler, most likely not sleeping at all. "I hate him! Of course I hate him. Don't be stupid," you go on in a whisper.
    And if the badass conversation earlier wasn't enough, we get some concrete proof that the child actually has a soft part for Nate, which has been less obvious than Nate having a soft spot for the child. NICE. Again, you're going to totally break my heart when this all falls apart.

    "Absol, I told you to go away. I know you're trying to help, but you're not."
    Ironic, since the child always wanted absol to come around, not go away for the longest time. I guess some other things have changed, too. And even though Eskar is obviously not a friend anymore by the end of this chapter, the child's not going to admit it was wrong, because it's so stubborn...

    Ugh. Yeah, this chapter hit me right in the feels even though it probably wasn't meant to be a totally emotional chapter. The tension during the battle and all the aftermath stuff was just all really well written. Looking forward to more, as usual. :P

  4. #179
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    Hot damn that was a battle! I think I still like the Cradily battle best, but this is a very close second.

    The electivire laughs again. "I like you, kid. I was gonna say I'd plaster you on the battlefield on account of your trainer's mouth, but what do you know? I'm still gonna plaster you, but it'll be friendly-like this time. How's that?"
    Pfft, this Electivire is hilarious. I love the personality given to all the random side Pokemon in this fic.
    Aggron's claws clang off his own armor as he tries to catch Raticate, but the normal-type stays just ahead of his attacks, crawling up and down and around Aggron's torso, biting wherever he sees an opening. The poison doesn't seem to have slowed him down at all; if anything he's more energetic than usual, staying in constant motion.
    Ahh, I forgot he had Guts! I think I remember that being mentioned because Rats doesn't have it. Speaking of Rats, I miss her. :<
    "What the ****?" The great Nathaniel Morgan leans out over the railing, squinting at the battlefield. It looks like it's boiling, the sludge Muk left behind bubbling and sizzling as raindrops spatter it. "What the ****? It's just poison," the great Nathaniel Morgan says to no one in particular. "You put water on poison and it, like, heats up or something? What the ****? How does that make sense?"
    Alright, I'm stumped. :P I can't think of any game mechanics this is intended to represent, so I'm guess it's chemistry-related.
    "Your trainer." She turns hostile red eyes upwards, towards the great Nathaniel Morgan. For the first time she looks fully awake. "It's not right."

    "Huh?" You follow her gaze. The great Nathaniel Morgan looks like he's on the verge of exploding with the strain of wanting to hurl invective but being too afraid of the referee. "Oh. Oh. No, no, don't worry. He's harmless. He just isn't really ready to battle in a tournament like this."
    That's...actually really cute that this ancient Blastoise was worried her opponent was being abused.
    A sunny day attack is a glowing film of energy wrapped around a ball of gas, meant to float high into the sky and burn like a tiny sun. You hurl one down Blastoise's cannon just as you hear the click that means water channels are opening to deliver a blast straight to your face. Instead what comes out is a mist of water droplets and a gust of hot air.
    Aaaaah, I really like that interpretation of Sunny Day! Damn, now I'm mad I never thought of that.
    It feels like gentle summer rain, cool and soothing against the raw wounds down your back. They start to close as the water soaks into your skin, its energy combining with your own and setting off a wave of healing. You let yourself fall, savoring the sensation of overflowing energy that drowns aches and soothes spent muscles until you're practically whole again. You're lucky Blastoise went to finish you with one of her most powerful attacks.
    I actually thought that the protagonist was just gonna pop a Recover or something when no one was looking. But Water Absorb! That's pretty clever.
    She shakes droplets of dark energy from her fur, which stream across the ground to merge and mass up into a pitch-black, shadowy wolf shape, eyes glowing red. Salamence growls faintly, drawing her head back as she gathers fire. You don't know if the dragon recognizes the strain in Mightyena's stance, how she bows her head like she's standing against an attack. Wisps of dark energy drift from the messy spikes of the substitute's shadow-fur, but Mightyena's holding it together, she's doing it, she's not going to let it fail.
    I completely forgot she'd never pulled off a Substitute until now!
    "Foul play!"
    Ahahahaha I should've known, you even mentioned foul play as something you'd toyed with in the previous battle. (And while that Swagger combo would've been hilarious in the Avalugg match, that would have been such an ungodly level of haxx. xD So prooooobably for the best that they lost that one, yeah.)
    That brings Absol's attention around to her, hard and coldly furious like you've never seen. Absol levels her blade at the sableye again. "You are the one who should leave," Absol says. "I have not agreed to tolerate you."
    Oh geez. Absol's actually pretty scary when she's mad, huh?
    "Ah, Cordierite-eyes! I like you, I really do. Such a good friend." Eskar gives you a dazzling smile. "But I'm afraid my rates have gone up."
    Strange place to end it off. I assume the fee's not just gonna be two eyes, as the protag could easily handle that. :P No, the dramatic tension suggests to me that it's gonna be something considerably darker...

    ~Chibi~



    "Everyone wishes they could catch a Legendary, deep down, whether they’ll admit it or not.
    If you knew you could use one to change the world, something you’d been dreaming about for years, are you telling me you wouldn’t take that chance?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    May 24 Update: CHAPTER 23: “Betrayal” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 24 progress: 5/12 pages


  5. #180
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    Been a while, right? I have been working on the next chapter, but in addition to it being another long one, I've also been very distracted. However, I finally finished the second draft, which means that the final version should be done fairly soon. In less than a month, anyway. I quite like this next chapter, and I hope you'll enjoy it, too, once it's posted!

    In the meantime, review replies.

    Sike Saner

    Hey, Sike! It's great to see you back again. Hope you've been enjoying your rereads; they sound like a lot of fun. Thanks for letting me know what you think of the revised early chapters. It tends to be hard to get feedback on them since most people naturally focus on the recently-posted stuff, so it's reassuring that you found them a bit more coherent than the originals.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the poochyena extra, too. That's probably my favorite out of the ones I've posted so far, and it was a ton of fun to write. Eskar is too, of course, and I'm pleased you've enjoyed her scenes. She's a bit character who took on a much larger role in the narrative than expected, so it's always nice to see evidence that that wasn't a mistake. :P (Also the rock porn joke, because I am twelve.)

    Thanks again for stopping by. Hope you continue to enjoy the story--we'll be wrapping up the League and going new places soon.

    diamondpearl876

    Heh, that's one downside to choosing to be an infernape. Aren't infernape able to subdue their fire, though? It could be suspicious, but with as deep a hole as its in, it could probably get by without attracting attention.
    How I headcanon it, yes, infernape can control the level of their flames, but not extinguish them entirely. The fire going out isn't as bad as it is for the charmander line, where they supposedly just die if it happens, but it is a necessary part of their physiology that burns off waste products in their bloodstream, so toxins start to build up very quickly. The protagonist could definitely have dimmed its fire a lot, but even a faint light is very easy to see in a dark pit like that.

    Now that I've read the entire chapter, I have to say his dialogue during the Blastoise vs. Infernape part of the battle was a tad underwhelming. I liked that Nate wasn't forgotten and shoved to the background in favor of letting the child do whatever, because their angry and disobedient dynamic is always amusing and key to them working together, but the dialogue didn't really feel like Nate was really there after a while, if that makes sense. I know he can't go overboard with swearing here, but the majority of his dialogue during this battle segment was just like the quoted portion, stating the obvious and without real emotion or depth added. Basically, his dialogue started to feel forced rather quickly.
    Hmm, interesting. Nate doesn't have a lot constructive to offer during the battle against Blastoise because he's caught flat-footed and doesn't really have anything constructive to add, but I hope he was more interesting during Mightyena's fight? His role there is pretty important.

    Well, I'm glad the child did take advantage of the fissure in some way. XD I wonder if an advanced trainer like Aanya Singh will notice something was off and report Nate.
    She might very well think something was odd. The protagonist definitely showed some exceptional resiliance in that battle. The issue with cheating is proving it!

    Okay, but I really loved this entire conversation. They're both really stubborn and angry but they come to the agreement that, yeah, things actually worked out in the best way possible, so it's time to celebrate. XD
    Haha, yup, they get all worked up for a fight and then it turns out there's nothing to fight about anyway.

    MVP of the team, obviously. :P
    No frills, Graveler just gets the job done.

    I'm still in the mindset that the entire situation surrounding Nate and the child working together is super messed up, but scenes like this make me root for them still. When everything inevitably falls apart, my heart's going to break, I just know it.
    Glad to hear it! I'm hoping that overall readers don't necessarily hope the characters will succeed at what they're trying to do, because both the ends and the means they use to achieve them can be super questionable, but where they're still sympathetic, or at least recognize that they're kind of stuck in, like you say, a pretty messed-up situation. We'll have to see whether that's worked out at all once we get through the more brutal parts of the story.

    And if the badass conversation earlier wasn't enough, we get some concrete proof that the child actually has a soft part for Nate, which has been less obvious than Nate having a soft spot for the child. NICE. Again, you're going to totally break my heart when this all falls apart.
    I hope so! Breaking hearts is my business. >:]

    Ironic, since the child always wanted absol to come around, not go away for the longest time. I guess some other things have changed, too. And even though Eskar is obviously not a friend anymore by the end of this chapter, the child's not going to admit it was wrong, because it's so stubborn...
    The protagonist is definitely responding better to Eskar telling it it's awesome and has all the best ideas than it has been to Absol's cryptic and fairly judge-y tutelage, for sure. And anyway, Absol isn't right about EVERYTHING... right?

    Ugh. Yeah, this chapter hit me right in the feels even though it probably wasn't meant to be a totally emotional chapter. The tension during the battle and all the aftermath stuff was just all really well written. Looking forward to more, as usual. :P
    Well, I had hoped it would be at least a little feels-y. Not in a very dramatic way, necessarily, but this is possibly the happiest chapter out of the entire story, so I was hoping readers would get at least some warm feelings from it.

    Thanks so much for reviewing! It sounds like you had basically exactly the reaction I was hoping for to the recent chapters, so it was a real joy to read all your comments.

    Chibi Pika

    Yeah, I think the previous battle was my favorite as well, but I'm glad this one was an entertaining read nonetheless. There aren't many formal battles left in this story, so I'm okay with having peaked there. :P

    Pfft, this Electivire is hilarious. I love the personality given to all the random side Pokemon in this fic.
    Thanks, I have fun coming up with them!

    Ahh, I forgot he had Guts! I think I remember that being mentioned because Rats doesn't have it. Speaking of Rats, I miss her. :<
    Yup, Raticate has guts and Rats has run away. Will we be seeing her again? Unfortunately if so, it won't be anytime soon...

    Alright, I'm stumped. :P I can't think of any game mechanics this is intended to represent, so I'm guess it's chemistry-related.
    Yep, it's based on the old chemistry saying "add acid to water, not water to acid." Acids react exothermically with water, so they can bubble and boil vigorously (and possibly splash in your face, which is Bad) if you dump water on them. It would need to be an extremely strong, concentrated acid to produce the degree of burning portrayed here, but blah blah pokémon magic, if pikachu can make lightning in its cheeks muk can make super-strong acid.

    Aaaaah, I really like that interpretation of Sunny Day! Damn, now I'm mad I never thought of that.
    Heh, it's one I used aaaaages ago in a little one-shot back when I first started writing fanfic, and I couldn't resist bringing it back in a bigger story.

    I completely forgot she'd never pulled off a Substitute until now!
    Ahaha, the substitute thing is actually one of my favorite little callbacks in this arc. I figured nobody would expect Mightyena failing at that attack to have any sort of significance, but I already knew it was going to play a role in the climax of this fight. Hope it was a nice little a-ha moment for you when you remembered the earlier bit!

    Ahahahaha I should've known, you even mentioned foul play as something you'd toyed with in the previous battle. (And while that Swagger combo would've been hilarious in the Avalugg match, that would have been such an ungodly level of haxx. xD So prooooobably for the best that they lost that one, yeah.)
    Yeah, if I'd made foul play the clincher in two battles in a row it just would've been lame. Originally I had Mightyena win against the salamence some other way, but I don't remember what it was and it was dumb anyway, so I definitely had to free up foul play for use here.

    Oh geez. Absol's actually pretty scary when she's mad, huh?
    Ooh yeah, you definitely don't want to make her mad. She probably won't actually hurt you, but she can put the fear of God in just about anyone.

    Strange place to end it off. I assume the fee's not just gonna be two eyes, as the protag could easily handle that. :P No, the dramatic tension suggests to me that it's gonna be something considerably darker...
    Ah, yeah, I do have a weakness for melodramatic chapter endings. The price is simply two eyes, which the protagonist can deal with, yes. It's not going to like it much, though! (Also I hope ripping out eyeballs is dark enough, lol.)

    Thanks for the review! Again, glad you enjoyed the battle here; it's definitely an important one.

    In which an undead trainer, a bloodthirsty super-clone, and an irascible ex-Rocket grunt set out to rescue an imprisoned Mew--if they don't end up murdering each other first.

    Banner by Sworn Metalhead of Dćdric Design




  6. #181
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    Just got caught up! I've been busy the past six months or so and it's only recently that my life has cooled down enough for me to get back into this. Since I went through a few chapters, I didn't do the bit-by-bit usual review that I do, so I'll just let you know my main thoughts.

    Overall, I thought this was really good! The battles were gripping and kept me entertained the whole while, and I usually have a hard time staying attentive for battle scenes. I know that the last battle wasn't fair and they really didn't deserve the win, but I was VERY impressed and pleased with Mightyena beating Salamence (as you can probably imagine =P). Also, I was pretty intrigued by that Blastoise. If she's 700-800 years old, how would an "academy brat" like Aanya get her? And what would her life have been like? She would have lived through such interesting parts of human history--although she might have been far removed from where any of the action was. I feel like a cool little side-story could be made out of that. Also, do you have any inspiration for the name Aanya Singh? Sorry, I just get really interested in names and their ethnic origins.

    And the scene where they capture Leonard Kerrigan is gold. I love Benny's "I'm a bruiser!" and then needing to be told that he wasn't being complimented XD Little character quirks like that are great. I'm finding myself more sympathetic with Absol and more fustrated with the child, whom you've reminded us really IS a child in terms of temperament. I keep worrying about Nate and his physical condition; he really isn't doing anything to improve it and i feel like his body is just a fleshy bag filled with broken bones. And the last conversation with Eskar makes me wonder what her "higher rates" refer to...

    All in all, it was good, and it's good to be back! I'm looking forward to the great Nathaniel Morgan's next battle, and to see where the plot will head afterwards


    My fic, Drowning.
    Cye of the Torrent is my bishie.
    Credit to Sketchie of Coronet Designs

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