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Thread: Drowning

  1. #1
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    Rated PG-13 for violence and some swearing.

    Hello everyone! I'd like to thank you for coming to this page. This is just a story that I've been working on since May, and decided I might as well post it at some point. Please, feel free to leave a review! Any comments or critiques are greatly appreciated! I now present to you:

    Drowning

    Chapter 1

    The moon shone overhead, making the sky appear as though it had a curved tear in it. Maressa looked over to her friend as she sat up and pushed her blonde hair out of her face. Sarah lay on her back, her blue bandanna pulled down so low as to almost conceal her eyes.

    "Sarah?"

    The bandanna was pulled upward as Sarah's pale eyes looked questioningly at her friend.

    "Just making sure you didn't fall asleep." Saying so, Maressa leaned back on her hands, stretching out her legs over the rounded metal top of the small submarine. The river made no noise as it flowed by; were it not for the light patterns caused by ripples, Maressa would have thought the water to be perfectly still.

    Sarah sat up as she let out a small laugh. "I wouldn't fall asleep while on watch." She stretched out her legs next to Maressa's as the duo watched the running water of the river pass by.

    Maressa shrugged. "I wouldn't be surprised if either of us did. I can see why this position is only given to the most junior recruits." Tucking in her legs, she slid down to where her feet almost touched the water. She dipped a hand into the cool liquid, letting the current soothe her hand with its gentle caress.

    "That's because no one ever comes out here!" Sarah let loose an exasperated sigh. "I would fall asleep if it wasn't for the officers coming out to check on us. This is so boring; nothing ever happens and we know nothing will happen. It's so stupid."

    Maressa's jaw dropped in mock-horror. "That's insubordination! Sarah, if we are not watching, the ground beneath our feet will blow to smithereens. We are the link that keeps order in this world; without our constant vigilance, this planet will fall apart. And everyone will die."

    Sarah snorted and rubbed her face as she looked at her companion. "You're so weird."

    "Must be why we get along." Taking her hand out of the water, Maressa sighed as she looked at her friend. "Hey... if I tell you something, will you promise to not tell anyone else?"

    "Sure. Is it about what the commander had called you in for yesterday?"

    Maressa nodded. "I'm not supposed to tell anyone, but I'm sure you won't tell anyone, and well... I don't even know anything about what we're doing." Looking around nervously, Maressa turned toward her friend again as she said slowly, "They're taking me with them when they go to Slateport next week."

    Sarah's eyebrows turned downward into a frown as she asked, "Slateport? Who's going there?"

    Maressa fidgeted with the legs of her blue pants as she explained, "Commander Shelly is taking a group of more experienced team members there next week to explore the undersea cliff side. Apparently, there are ancient underwater craters that have been covered up over the years with rocks and debris. The commander wants to uncover and examine what's beneath the buildup."

    Sarah's eyes widened as she stared at her friend in amazement. "Really? That's awesome, good for you, Maressa! Getting up there with the champs!" Chuckling, she became serious as she said, "But really, that is cool you get to do that." Suddenly becoming apprehensive, she breathed, "Does she think it may have something to do with... with what we're looking for?"

    Raising her hands uncertainly, Maressa replied, "I don't know; all she said is that they could use me when I'm there."

    "But you don't even know what you're doing?"

    "All she needed of me was a promise to obey any order immediately and without question. Just absolute, unconditional obedience."

    "What a small thing to ask for," came the sarcastic reply. Nodding, Sarah tucked her knees beneath her chin as she remarked, "Well, it's no surprise that you're the one chosen for something like this."

    Taken aback, her friend asked, "What do you mean?"

    "Come on, everyone knows you're one of the best Pokémon battlers on the team. You've commanded entire squadrons and taken down enemies faster and easier than even some of the oldest members. And when you're just using your own Pokémon, you're still no pushover."

    Bowing her head in embarrassment, Maressa replied, "It's the Pokémon who do all the work. I just oversee what they do."

    Sarah snorted. "Yes, 'the Pokémon do all the work'-- the exact same Pokémon, used by different people, who only manage to win when you're in charge of them." She turned her head back to Maressa. "Just accept some credit, okay?" When her companion said nothing Sarah turned her eyes back towards the moving water, which rippled and shone almost eerily beneath the pale moonlight. "Though I guess your Golduck can take full credit for itself; he fights like a monster. Oh, sorry, I didn't mean it like that," she hurried as Maressa raised an eyebrow at her. "I just mean that even on his own, he can hold off other Pokémon really well. It's as if he can fight without anyone coordinating him."

    Maressa scraped her sun-tanned fingers across her scalp as she replied, "I guess. Golduck and I are always working together; we just don't need for me to shout commands. We've been together long enough. He knows what I want him to do, and I know what his limits are so I can have him fight without pushing him to the point of exhaustion."

    Sarah gave her a questioning look before asking, "How long have you two been together?"

    "A while."

    "How long is a while?" As Maressa gave her friend a deadpan glare, Sarah asked, "What?" but her friend only shook her head and smiled.

    Shrugging, she replied, "I'm not actually sure... I think... was I five? Four? Yes, I think it was four... But he was just a Psyduck then, and neither of us knew the first thing about battling. The first few years were just building our friendship; it wasn't until much later that we started getting involved in battling and training."

    Sarah sighed as she remarked, "A lot of people would give for a relationship like that."

    Cocking her head, Maressa questioned her companion for clarification.

    "I, well... you just seem to always get along so well with your Pokémon. My Sealeo and I... sometimes we just don't agree on what to do or what's best for us. And I can tell a lot of other people on the team are like that also. It even happens to people not on our team; so many people are still like that. We get along, and we're still friends, but ..." She cast her eyes downward, shrugging as she finished, "we just don't work together that well all the time."

    Snorting, Maressa raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "That's your problem?"

    Taken aback, Sarah asked, "What?"

    "Everyone has those sorts of problems with their Pokémon. Golduck and I argue all the time. It got so bad once that he wouldn't talk to me for two days." Huffing, Maressa cast her eyes downward as she unhappily mused, "I would have let it go, but he just too stubborn to apologize."

    Smiling, Sarah commented, "I guess your personalities do match each other perfectly." Allowing the corners of her mouth to fall, she noted, "But you two still seem to have no disagreements when battling."

    "Because battling is something different. When we fight someone, we put aside our disagreements and work together. He trusts me to know what to do, and I trust him to be able to do the right thing."

    Withdrawing her hand, Maressa lay next to her friend and gazed skyward into the moonlit night.

    Laying on her back, Sarah joined Maressa in silence as the two stared upwards. Raising her hand, she traced a path from the western horizon. "The Millennium Comet is supposed to appear in a few weeks. There'll be a lot of celebrating back at home.... I actually regret not being there for it," she sighed.

    Turning her amber eyes to her friend, Maressa asked, "Where are you from, again?"

    "Mossdeep City. It's on an island far in the northeastern part of Hoenn. Growing up, we used to go down to the ocean every day." Sarah smiled as she mused, "We would collect Clamperl shells that had washed up on the shore or go exploring the mangroves that grew on the wild coasts. Or, if we were tired, we could just sit on the cliff sides and watch the Wailmer pop up near the shore; we called it Wailmer Watching." Frowning, she added, "It's pretty boring on the history side of things, though. All of our old buildings and ancient architecture aren't there anymore. By the time people really cared about preserving them, they were gone. And our language and writing styles have hardly changed since the island was first civilized." A smile lit her features as she cheerfully added, "But there is the Millennium Comet. When it comes, we're supposed to have a week-long celebration, with singing, dancing and feasting around Hakugyoku Rock. But I won't be there for that," she finished bitterly. As she finished reminiscing, she turned to Maressa and asked, "What part of Hoenn are you from?"

    "Not from Hoenn. Kanto."

    "You're from Kanto?" When Maressa nodded, Sarah gushed, "That's so cool! I've always wanted to go there; they have beautiful cities and tons of cool museums. What part are you from?"

    "It's a small, sea-side village near Fuchsia City. That's where I met Psyduck and had most of my childhood friends." Taking a small pause, she continued more quietly, "But when I was eleven, my family moved to Mauville City."

    Noting her friend's toneless voice, Sarah softly added, "Oh, I'm sorry."

    Maressa pulled her azure bandanna over her eyes as she replied, "It's fine. I made new friends when I got there. And at least I still had Psyduck to always be with, right?" Saying so, she pulled her bandanna away from her eyes and continued to stare at the sky, her bright eyes reflecting the white moonlight.

    Moments of silence passed by as the two lay on the cold, smooth top of the submarine. Maressa and Sarah sat up as they heard the water splash, and four feet slap on top of the dull grey metal.

    Maressa smiled as she reached a hand out to her companion. "Hey buddy. What's up?" Giving her a high-five, Golduck sat down next to his friend. Opening its pale yellow bill, throaty noises gargled from his mouth as he communicated with Maressa. Sarah watched, fascinated, as the her human friend engaged in conversation with the blue-skinned, kappa-like creature.

    Scooting closer to her friend, Sarah asked, "What does he say?"

    "He says he got bored and decided to come talk to us." Looking past Maressa, Sarah tried to make eye contact with Golduck. As soon as her blue eyes met his vermilion ones, she smiled and greeted him. Though his inflexible bill limited his facial expressions, she could make out the happiness in his eyes as he returned her greeting.

    Golduck said something else to Maressa, which she translated to her friend. "He also says that it should almost be time for our watch to end." Groaning, the two humans reluctantly stood up and walked to opposite sides of the submarine, their eyes scanning the water for any unusual disturbances. After a few minutes, however, they succumbed to boredom and began to let their minds wander. Neither took any notice as Golduck splashed back into the river. After a few minutes, Maressa heard Sarah gasp and quietly call her name.

    Turning around, Maressa saw a dark fin protrude from the surface of the water; shaped like a razor, cutting through the air, it came with alarming alacrity towards the vessel. Smiling, Maressa walked to the edge of the submarine and reached a hand out to the protrusion. A dark, scaly head bisected by a saffron star emerged from the water and nuzzled its owner's black glove.

    "Relax, Sarah. It's only Sharpedo." Crouching down, Maressa ran her fingers along the top of her Pokémon's head, grateful for the protection her thick gloves offered her from the creature's cutting-edged scales. Withdrawing a small ball from her pocket, Maressa opened it and recalled Sharpedo, allowing the dull red light to engulf her Pokémon. After Sharpedo shrank down to pocket-size, she snapped the small sphere shut and encased him inside.

    Sarah watched her friend deposit the ball in her pocket and shuddered. "I don't know how you do it, Maressa. I wouldn't mind seeing those Pokémon from a distance, but I could never own and take care of one."

    Maressa took out another ball as her Golduck came back. "I've never had a problem with vicious-looking Pokémon, honestly. He may look mean, but...." Her voice trailed off as she withheld her words. She was about to say that Sharpedo was "really a big softy on the inside," but that would be lying; Sharpedo was every bit as ornery as he looked. Shrugging, she merely said, "You just have to learn how to deal with them." Returning her Golduck's ball to her pocket, she said, "I expect we'll be relieved any minute now." The two turned back to their respective sides and continued their monotonous task of watching the river.

    Three hours later, "any minute" became all but a dream. Too afraid to be caught napping, the pair constantly rubbed their eyes and walked around in attempts to get their blood flowing and fend off sleep. Maressa sent out her Pokémon again, only to find that they were engaged in a deep slumber. After another two hours, the sun began to rise, and the duo stood together at one end of the vessel. With hunched shoulders and bagging eyelids, they stared out at the river. Their bloodshot eyes took in the scene of the rising sun spilling its fluorescent orange light over the earth, causing the water to look like a thousand diamonds strewn across an orange blanket.

    Hearing hinges creek, the two turned as the hatch lifted up and a blue bandanna, marked with a small skeletal "A," appeared from below. Looking tired, a girl dragged her fingers through her bushy brown hair before turning her hazel eyes on the sleep-deprived duo. Eyes wide in shock, she asked, "Were you two out all night?" After they nodded dumbly, she responded, "But... Sean and Mike were supposed to cover for you four hours ago."

    Maressa attempted to speak, but found that all she could do was make stuttering noises. Neither she Sarah could bring themselves to do more than stare as they struggled to remain awake. Confirming their condition, their teammate only said, "Well, you two can go back in and sleep now. Jana and I will take watch; we're scheduled to move out in three hours though."

    As Maressa and Sara lowered themselves into the contents of the submarine, they finally found themselves able to articulate the words they had been trying to say before:

    "What the hell."
    Last edited by starliteevee; 10th June 2014 at 1:15 AM. Reason: Revising


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

  2. #2
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    One of the things I will say right off the bat is that I love how this is about Aqua grunts. First off, hells yes, Hoenn Teams. Just putting it out there, especially given the popularity of the other four teams. Second, this is about grunts, which is pretty nifty because we just don’t get fic about grunts. (You know. Rockets aside, I mean.) So it’s really interesting to see that’s what you’re gunning for here because it’s a rare glimpse to see how grunts tick.

    Also, one of the fun things I really liked about Aqua and Magma is that, frankly? Their teams were pretty sane. Sure, their leaders were a bit on the off-center side, but their grunts weren’t homicidal or out for world destruction or militant about their goals. Maybe it’s just because the gens that followed Magma’s and Aqua’s had Galactic with their “let’s destroy the world to remake it because oh my god this world” philosophy and Plasma with their “let’s just be PETA OH NO WAIT WORLD DOMINATION” slant, but Magma and Aqua were pretty straightforward. Let’s steal Pokémon and also, let’s do things with land and sea because our bosses say we should.

    The reason why I bring that up is because it’s really interesting to see that in play here. At the time of this writing, I’ve only gotten through the first page, but already, I can see that Maressa and Sarah are, well, sane. They’re not stereotypical villains; in fact, it’s easy to miss the fact that they’re associated with evil teams until it’s explicitly mentioned with Commander Shelly. Their team’s goals aren’t even really an up front and center thought, which allows us to get a nice glimpse of who they are as people, away from their day jobs. It just makes them feel real, basically.

    But anyway, let’s talk about specifics.

    Quote Originally Posted by starliteevee View Post
    This is so boring--nothing ever happens and we know nothing will happen.
    Maybe go for a semicolon here. Dashes can’t really connect two independent clauses, so.

    Maressa's jaw dropped in mock-horror. "That's insubordination! Sarah, if we are not watching, the ground beneath our feet will blow to smithereens. We are the link that keeps order in this world; without our constant vigilance, this planet will fall apart. And everyone will die."
    See, this is what I’m talking about in the first paragraph. I love this line and Maressa’s sarcasm. To her, Team Aqua is a job, not a cult or a way of life (as teams sometimes are, canonically or not). So she feels real, and it adds so much depth to the generic grunts we see running around in the games.

    That and I just plain love her sarcasm.

    Maressa nodded. "I'm not supposed to tell anyone, but I'm sure you won't tell anyone, and well. . . I don't even know anything about what we're doing." Looking around nervously, Maressa turned toward her friend again as she said slowly, "They're taking me with them when they go to Slateport next week."
    Another great line. Sure, grunts typically sign up on their own volition, but in this case, it’s rather interesting because here you have someone who’s been in the organization for a decently long time doubting the goals of her team.

    Idk, man. I’m just over the moon because you’ve got this one-shot going, and it’s about grunts being people, rather than only thieves or representatives of their team or comic relief or what-have-you.

    Sarah's eyebrows turned downward into a frown as she asked.
    You’ll probably want a comma at the end here because it looks like the “asked” is a dialogue tag.

    Maressa fidgeted with the legs of her blue pants as she explained, "Commander Shelly is taking a group of more experienced team members there next week to explore the undersea cliff side. Apparently, there are ancient underwater craters that have been covered up over the years with rocks and debris. The commander wants to uncover and examine what's beneath the buildup."
    And that is a pretty nifty cover-up.

    I think what’s really great about Teams Magma and Aqua is that it’s also pretty easy to argue that they’re teams bent on doing good in the world. Sure, from a recruiter’s perspective, N’s half of Plasma and all of Galactic could be made out to be teams geared towards the greater good, but with Aqua and Magma, while you do have thieves here or there, the leaders are basically literally after the good of other people. It’s not clear at this point what your stance on the teams are, but one can just imagine Commander Shelly telling her grunts this and actually meaning that they’re after studying what’s at the bottom of the Hoennian seas, rather than anything nefarious.

    Um … I might also be biased about Teams Aqua and Magma too.

    Chuckling, she became serious as she said, ... Looking apprehensive, she breathed,
    Hmm. Something about these two tags feels a bit off, but I’m not 100% sure what. I think it’s the repetition of similar beginnings (two verbs ending in -ing), or maybe it’s just the fact that you don’t really need to have so many dialogue tags in the same paragraph. (You could, for example, turn the part about how she’s looking apprehensive into its own separate thought, and that would be okay in a dialogue paragraph.)

    "All she needed of me was a promise to obey any order immediately and without question. Just absolute, unconditional obedience."
    Continuing on my thought concerning Commander Shelly and how she could totally mean something completely innocent: … until you reach this part.

    It’s clear that Maressa has no idea what’s about to happen, and this is a beautiful bit of foreshadowing. Already, given how Maressa is a little on the innocent side (at least, what with her uncertainty about Aqua’s goals, anyway), one has to wonder how she’ll handle what kinds of fantastic shenanigans go down during the latter half of the RS(E) storyline.

    You're commanded
    Switch this to a “you’ve commanded,” and you’re golden. (Otherwise, you’re saying “you are commanded.”)

    and took
    Switch “took” to “taken” to go with the “have” part of “you’ve.”

    "Yes, 'the Pokémon do all the work;'
    Hmm. I’d use a dash in this case—or a comma. Semicolon implies that you’re leading into an independent clause, which the next half of the sentence really isn’t. Also, if you keep the semicolon or switch to a dash, you’ll want it outside of the single quote; it’s really just periods and commas that go inside at all times.

    she hurried as Maressa raised an eyebrow at her.
    Come to think of it, I think it is the abundance of dialogue tags that make the conversation feel a little bit off. Like I said, you only really need one dialogue tag per paragraph unless you absolutely need another one to clarify a significant tone change or indicate that a speaker is speaking to someone else. Otherwise, you can definitely have full, non-tag sentences in dialogue paragraphs.

    We've been together long enough; he knows what I want him to do, and I know what his limits are so I can have him fight without pushing him to the point of exhaustion.
    Another note! You can only have up to two independent clauses in one sentence. Any more than that, and you have a run-on.

    What I mean is try replacing the semicolon and the comma and and with periods. Notice how you get three full sentences as a result? Even if the first is separated from the second differently from the way the second and third are separated, you still can only have either two clauses separated by a semicolon or two separated by a comma and conjunction but not both in the same sentence.

    to the north-eastern part of Hoenn.
    Switch “to” with “in” because you’re referring to a general area, not a specific place.

    Also! “Northeastern” is actually one word, without a hyphen.

    mused,"We
    Careful about spacing.

    up on the shore, or go exploring the mangroves
    No need for a comma here, as this isn’t really a compound sentence. *le nod*

    Or, if we were tired, we could just sit on the cliff sides and watch the Wailmer pop up near the shore; we called it Wailmer Watching."
    I really can’t explain why, but this is adorable.

    This whole paragraph is pretty sweet actually, just because of what I’ve been going on and on about concerning these characters. They feel like people, and here we have one of these characters sitting down and getting sentimental. This is literally the last thing that you’d expect from a villainous team, which is why it’s so good. You’ve done a fantastic job of taking the nameless grunts and turning them into characters we can really feel for, y’know?

    Also, I don’t care what Sarah has to say. This isn’t boring. ;D Hells yes, character backstory.

    All of our old buildings and ancient architecture aren't there anymore. By the time people really cared about preserving them, they were gone.
    Not to mention it’s pretty flipping heartbreaking. I mean, I think that Kanto and Hoenn are tied for Region That Gives the Fewest Shits About Their History Award. Sure, you’ve got Mt. Pyre and Cave of Origin for Hoenn, but for the most part, you don’t see too many old, culturally significant structures that haven’t been made via weird legendary magic. So you have this character longing for some kind of ties to her home, but her home doesn’t really have too many mementos to leave her.

    "but when I was eleven, my family moved to Mauville City."
    Because this stands alone as its own sentence (in Maressa’s dialogue), you’ll actually want to capitalize the “but.”

    Eyes bloodshot and lids bagging, their shoulders were hunched forward as, deadpan, they watched the rising sun spill its fluorescent orange light over the earth, causing the water to look like a thousand diamonds strewn across an orange blanket.
    This part might be a bit more effective if it’s split into two separate sentences. It’s a bit wordy as it is, so it feels like it wanders away from its main point—which is a shame because this is quite lovely description.

    "But. . . Sean and Mike were supposed to cover for you four hours ago."
    Not gonna lie. I laughed. If anything can hammer in the fact that Aqua is a workplace for these people and not a criminal organization, it’s this.

    As Maressa and Sara lowered themselves into the contents of the submarine, they finally found themselves able to articulate the words they had been trying to say before:

    "What the hell."
    And that is a beautiful ending.


    Now, what can I say? Sure, there are a couple of grammar bumps, but other than those few, this is a solidly written work. The prose is quite nice, with rather vivid imagery going on, even pacing, and characterization. Oh, the characterization. Like I keep saying, you’ve successfully taken nameless, practically faceless grunts and turned them into deep, thinking, feeling characters with interesting backstories. By the end, you feel for these characters.

    And it’s, in general, really refreshing to see these characters be more than just members of their villainous organizations. They obviously care about their Pokémon. (Maressa is super-close to her Golduck; Sarah worries that she doesn’t have that same relationship.) They miss their respective homes. They have doubts, both in their own abilities and in what they’re doing. They are, simply human beings. That’s really what makes this fic so beautiful and enjoyable too—the fact that, when you get right down to it, you describe people you don’t even think about as being people, and they’re perfectly and completely human.

    Tl;dr, pretty sweet fic.

    REBOOT: Chapter fifteen now available. | Original: Chapter thirty-one now available.

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  3. #3
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    Thanks so much for the review! I'm happy that somebody liked it

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    One of the things I will say right off the bat is that I love how this is about Aqua grunts. First off, hells yes, Hoenn Teams. Just putting it out there, especially given the popularity of the other four teams. Second, this is about grunts, which is pretty nifty because we just don’t get fic about grunts. (You know. Rockets aside, I mean.) So it’s really interesting to see that’s what you’re gunning for here because it’s a rare glimpse to see how grunts tick.
    Heck yes, Hoenn FTW. And I thought it would be interesting (for me, at least) to go inside the mind of a lower-leveled team member, since a lot of attention is paid to commanders and higher-ups, but I feel like people sometimes forget that the grunts and such are actually people and not mindless drones.

    Idk, man. I’m just over the moon because you’ve got this one-shot going, and it’s about grunts being people, rather than only thieves or representatives of their team or comic relief or what-have-you.
    I just feel like you're really getting this and everything I was aiming for. It's like nobody pays attention to underlings on team and forget the fact that they all have their own personalities and what-have-you.



    You’ll probably want a comma at the end here because it looks like the “asked” is a dialogue tag.

    Um … I might also be biased about Teams Aqua and Magma too.
    Well, they are the most morally ambiguous teams. And you can hardly be biased about them if it's a fact that they're the best. *fist bump*




    Come to think of it, I think it is the abundance of dialogue tags that make the conversation feel a little bit off. Like I said, you only really need one dialogue tag per paragraph unless you absolutely need another one to clarify a significant tone change or indicate that a speaker is speaking to someone else. Otherwise, you can definitely have full, non-tag sentences in dialogue paragraphs.

    I really can’t explain why, but this is adorable.

    This whole paragraph is pretty sweet actually, just because of what I’ve been going on and on about concerning these characters. They feel like people, and here we have one of these characters sitting down and getting sentimental. This is literally the last thing that you’d expect from a villainous team, which is why it’s so good. You’ve done a fantastic job of taking the nameless grunts and turning them into characters we can really feel for, y’know?
    Thanks ^_^; It's nice to know that (according to you, and, as leader of our mafia president of the fanfiction club, I trust your judgement), I succeeded in executing what I was going for.

    Not to mention it’s pretty flipping heartbreaking. I mean, I think that Kanto and Hoenn are tied for Region That Gives the Fewest Shits About Their History Award. Sure, you’ve got Mt. Pyre and Cave of Origin for Hoenn, but for the most part, you don’t see too many old, culturally significant structures that haven’t been made via weird legendary magic. So you have this character longing for some kind of ties to her home, but her home doesn’t really have too many mementos to leave her.
    I do find it rather odd that canonically, Johto has a lot of historical areas (Tin Tower, Burned Tower, Sprout Tower) while its predecessor and successor regions have almost nothing. Hoenn in particular seems really urbanized, so I thought this could be somewhat of an explanation, at least if we're to assume that it has been inhabited for at least one hundred years.


    Now, what can I say? Sure, there are a couple of grammar bumps, but other than those few, this is a solidly written work. The prose is quite nice, with rather vivid imagery going on, even pacing, and characterization. Oh, the characterization. Like I keep saying, you’ve successfully taken nameless, practically faceless grunts and turned them into deep, thinking, feeling characters with interesting backstories. By the end, you feel for these characters.

    And it’s, in general, really refreshing to see these characters be more than just members of their villainous organizations. They obviously care about their Pokémon. (Maressa is super-close to her Golduck; Sarah worries that she doesn’t have that same relationship.) They miss their respective homes. They have doubts, both in their own abilities and in what they’re doing. They are, simply human beings. That’s really what makes this fic so beautiful and enjoyable too—the fact that, when you get right down to it, you describe people you don’t even think about as being people, and they’re perfectly and completely human.
    And I cannot thank YOU enough for giving me some feedback I cannot tell you how heartwarming, even exhilarating, it is to have someone tell me that what I've written was decent, and that it was worth spending my time on, and that other people can actually enjoy it. I fixed all the grammar errors you pointed out (I think) and am editing and tweaking the rest of my chapters. Thank you for your kindness I will--no, I AM taking all of this to heart and will do my best!


    Tl;dr, pretty sweet fic.
    *Does a dance*


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

  4. #4
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    Multiple +'s indicates a time skip.

    I know this chapter is really long; I tried condensing it or cutting out what I felt like was unnecessary (I don't know if Shelly's detailing of the plan is really important or not, but I left it in anyways). As always, critique and feedback are appreciated So without further adieu, here is chapter two!

    Chapter 2

    Maressa tightened the ties of her bandanna as she stared at her reflection. Closing her eyes, she straightened, up took a few deep breaths, and looked at herself once more. Though she attempted to appear calm, the worry in her eyes betrayed her inner fear. She paced back and forth, sat down, stood back up, said a prayer--yet nothing would fend off the anxiety that kept attacking her.

    Stationing herself before the mirror once more, she gazed into the depths of her own eyes, whispering words of encouragement. "Calm down; everything will be fine. They know you're inexperienced, they won't put a lot of pressure on you. Everything will be okay, you will not mess up. Your Pokémon will be there, they'll know what to do. Don't worr--" she inhaled so sharply that her heart rate skyrocketed and she nearly fell to her knees in surprise. "Come in," she said in answer to the knock on the door.

    A head popped in through the doorway, coconut-brown eyes staring curiously at Maressa. "You okay?" Mark questioned.

    Maressa heaved a sigh of relief at the sight of her close friend. Smiling gently, she responded, "I'm fine. Do you want to come in?"

    Obliging, Mark stepped through the door, his lanky frame causing his head to almost bump against the low ceiling. Maressa watched, almost fascinated, as he stared around her scantily-furnished room. His soft, curious eyes juxtaposed his elongated, slightly-muscular frame. "Nice. . . place you have here. . ." Maressa smiled unabashedly; the small bed, nightstand and vanity were all that composed her "nice place." The bareness of the room gave it an impersonal and bland appeal, yet Maressa knew that decorating and personalizing it meant that more work had to be done when time came for cleaning.

    "Thanks. You can sit down, if you'd like," she offered, gesturing to the bed.

    Bowing his head in gratitude, Mark sat down on the lone seat and gestured for Maressa to take her place next to him. The two sat together: Mark apparently indifferent, Maressa attempting to appear cool-headed and prepared.

    Noticing her fidgeting hands and feet, Mark asked, "How do you feel?"

    "Fine."

    Glancing at her, Mark said, almost offhandedly, "You know, there's a reason you weren't made a spy." He gazed at her out of the corner of his eye, and upon seeing her overwrought with nervousness, Mark softened his voice. "Don't worry about it; you'll be fine."

    "But..." shakiness crept into her voice as she stuttered, "But what if I mess up? What if to goes wrong because of me? What if--"

    "It won't, it won't; don't keep doubting yourself. If you want to do your best, you have to be confident. Everyone knows how you feel; we've all had first missions. And you were chosen to come on this one because we know that you can handle it."

    His reassurances did nothing to deter her fear. "But I don't even know what I'm doing. I've hardly done anything on this team! I've never had to go anywhere for anything or do anything like. . . like this. . . " Her voice died as she gave up on trying to finish her sentence.

    Putting an arm on her shoulder, Mark replied softly, "You're not going to be alone; the rest of us will be there with you, guiding you and showing you what to do. If you can't trust yourself, trust us, and trust your Pokémon." Seeing her about to speak again, he put a hand up to stop her. "And, if for some reason, you do mess up, that's okay; we'll be there to fix it if anything goes wrong. Learn from your mistakes, and it won't happen again." Maressa raised her eyes to meet his as he spoke these words; and there, she beheld such a tender gentleness that she felt her heart lighten. Bringing herself to smile, she found the strength to push away her fear and find faith in her friend.

    "Thank you, Mark. I think. . . " She looked down at her hands, now sedentary, and curled her fingers into fists. "I think I'm ready."

    Standing up, Mark replied, "Good. It's time for us to go."

    +++++

    "All right, pay careful attention." Commander Shelly's scarlet eyes stared down at those of her inferiors. Uncrossing her arms, she raised a hand garbed in a royal-blue glove to the sketch of the cliff side and sea below it. As she gave commands to her troops, she tapped each area of the map, indicating the respective positions as she spoke. "Squadrons A, B, C, and D, you're to stay on the ship while squads E and F go to the top of the cliffs. E and F, you are to take the majority of the Pokémon and command them from the top of the cliffs. Have the first set of Pokémon use Surf to draw the water away from the cliff sides; attempt to expose as much of the ocean's bottom as you can. Then send out the second set of Pokémon and have them use Light Screen, Protect, Reflect--any move that will be able to hold the water away while we conduct our research. Squad G, you will be there to serve as lookouts; if the police or anybody comes, you are to fight them off while the rest of us finish our job. After the Pokemon hold back the water, I'll take squads A, B, C, and D to the bottom. I'll give you further instructions from there." As she finished, she lowered her arms and looked down at the numerous underlings standing stock-still before her. Though the mission called for a large number of people, she knew this wasn't even half of the team. "Are there any questions?"

    "Ma'am?"

    Darting her eyes to the speaker, Shelly responded, "Yes, Christian?"

    "Are you asking the Pokémon to hold off an entire ocean's worth of water while you and the rest do your research?" As he voiced his concern, a number of the other troops began to show signs of unease and worry as well.

    "No; look at this map." Tracing the edge of the cliffs with her fore finger, she explained, "The area we're trying to get to is set inside this part where the cliffs round inward. I want you to have the Pokémon using Surf to draw the water away from there in a single wave, leaving that area open like a bowl. The rest of the Pokémon will use the protective moves to form a sort of wall connecting the two cliff sides while we go into the dry area." Taking her hand down, she returned her attention to Christian. "Clear?"

    He nodded, answering her with a simple "yes." In spite of Shelly's explanation, his face still exhibited worry and concern.

    Before she could go on, a voice in the back called out, "But how are the Pokémon's moves supposed to hold back the seawater?" Shelly's sharp gaze moved to the voice's origin, and, as though not to pierced by her glare, the crowd parted to allow her to make direct eye contact with the questioner.

    Mike shuffled somewhat uncomfortably as everyone in the room stared at him. "Moves like Protect, Reflect and Light Screen are right in front of the Pokémon. . . how is the move supposed to be applied to something that's going to be as far away and huge as a wall of water?"

    Shelly nodded, contemplating the credibility of the question. "That's why this mission had to be delayed until now; we've been working on inventing a method of transferring the Pokémon's protection away from them." She turned to a tall man, with a well-rounded face and bright, gentle eyes. "Patrick owns a number of ghost Pokémon, who each know the move Faint Attack." She looked at Mike with distaste as she asked coldly, "You do know what that does, don't you?"

    "Yes," he automatically replied.

    His lie found no favor with his commander, however. She pursed her lips in disdain before saying, "Faint Attack lets the Pokémon move through moves like Protect, Reflect and Light Screen." Mike's jaw dropped as understanding came to him. Shelly closed her eyes in exasperation before continuing, "We will have the Pokémon use Faint Attack to get through the barriers; however, instead of attacking the other Pokémon, they will grab the barrier and move it off the Pokémon. With their psychic and ghost powers, they will be able to push it onto the wall of water and hold it still."

    Mike's eyebrows came down in a sharp V shape as he skeptically asked, "That's really possible?" His face flushed a deep shed of red as Shelly stared at him with disapproval.

    "Yes, it is. We've tried it several times and, we believe, have perfected it. Now, even with everyone's ghost Pokémon, there won't be very many, so they'll have to work quickly and the Pokémon in the water will have to do their best to hold it back."

    The Commander turned back to the rest of the teammates. "Any more questions?" When none came forth, she shouted, "Then move out!"

    Together, every teammate assimilated their voices into one giant, uniform sound that echoed through the halls of the base and resounded off the floors and ceilings of each room. As every mouth opened, every member shouted "Yes!" before marching out of the room and towards the waiting vessel to carry them out. And Maressa, hanging at the back of the crowd, pushed away her worries as she set herself with determination and moved onward with the rest.

    +++++++++++++

    "Gol?" The Pokémon cast his friend a concerned glance, as though asking if she were all right. His heart lightened with relief as she gave him a confident nod and determined smile.

    "I'm ready." Clutching three empty Pokéballs in her hand, her eyes darted back and forth as she watched the rows of trees, beyond which she knew the city lay. No cars, sirens, howling beasts, policemen. . . the first five minutes of their operation had gone smoothly. She glanced to those on either side of her; their Pokémon were also out, keeping a sharp watch where the city edge met the trees, grass and hills that were set as a barrier between the seaside cliffs and urban buildings.

    Maressa and the four other troops in G-Squad spoke not a word as carried out their duty. Standing about twenty meters apart from each other, the five teammates stood in a line, their Pokémon companions standing beside them as they silently surveyed the scene before them. Behind, the whir of a dark grey helicopter ceased as it alighted on the ground, unloading two more squadrons of people as well as a plethora of ghosts. Maressa admitted that Mark's words had helped; she allowed a sensation of tranquility to overcome her apprehension and nervousness. Her breathing even, her heartbeat slow, she stood beside Golduck as they faithfully performed the duty they had failed to properly carry out a few days ago.

    The quintuplet stood unflinching as the salty wind caused the ties of their bandannas to slap their faces. Each fought the urge to look behind him or her as they heard two other squads command their Pokémon. In spite of Maressa's newly-gained peace, she did have a concern that irritated her. She had never volunteered for her Lanturn, Sharpedo and Seaking to go in the ocean with most of the other team's Pokémon; the officers had demanded every Pokémon not performing another duty to carry out the daunting task of sweeping water away from the cliffs. Though she understood the necessity, envy sparked within her whenever someone else took command of the creatures whose companionship she had so unrelentingly worked to earn.

    Almost a hundred meters behind her, she heard the command for the Pokémon to use Surf. More difficult than keeping her heart rate down was fighting the urge to turn and watch the Pokémon carry out their assignment. As she listened to the sucking of the seawater be dragged away from the rocks, she let her attention falter. She imagined a wall of water growing higher, and her gaze slipped out of focus as she saw nothing but the creations of her mind.

    She became dimly aware of something moving just within the reaches of her peripheral vision. Her gaze snapped toward the movement as she re-focused her attention, but whatever had moved was gone. Her eyebrows furrowed as she scanned the trees, attempting to pick out every minute detail as she searched for any signs of life.

    "Politoed, use Psy--AAAH!!" Nick's words were cut off as the ground beneath his feet burst in an explosion. As Nick and his Politoed were blasted backwards, a group of small beasts covered in shaggy orange and white fur burst from the trees. Growling, they ran forward, closely followed by a group of four policemen brandishing nightsticks.

    "Psybeam!" At her command, a beam of multicolored energy shot forth from Golduck's cranial gem. His accuracy proved infallible as several of the Growlithe were thrown off their feet from the force.

    "Bubblebeam!" Maressa turned around to see Leah commanding her Azumarill to fight off another group of police officers and their Pokémon. Seeing that the lookouts were outnumbered, Maressa quickly formulated a plan in her head.

    She shouted out, "Golduck, take out that group, and then combine Azumarill's Bubblebeam with your Hydro Pump!" Golduck quickly obliged; his eyes were flushed with deep purple light, giving him a preternatural aura. Raising his webbed hands, the pack of Growlithe slowly rose into the air. Howling and kicking, the canine-like beasts whimpered as they were forcibly levitated out of the reach of their panicking masters. As Golduck gave a throaty call, the pack of canine-like creatures hurtled toward their masters at breakneck pace. Golduck lost no time watching the pile of people and Pokémon wrestle each other in their tangle; he shot a quick ray of psychic energy at them, then sprinted on all fours to where the other recruits' Pokémon were fighting.

    As Golduck and Azumarill fought off the second pack of police, Maressa ran over to help Nick. His face was even redder than usual as Maressa helped him to his feet. Despite the initial shock of the attack, neither he nor his Politoed were harmed.

    "Politoed, go help them," he ordered. The frog-like creature sprung through the air and joined Golduck, Azumarill, and a growing number of other Pokémon to fight off the slowly strengthening police force.

    Maressa bit her lip as, through the trees, she saw cars coming closer, each laden with men and Pokémon. How can there be so many? There's no way they could have known we were doing this, she thought. Maybe our helicopter is more conspicuous than I realized. . . . Their five Pokémon were not nearly enough to hold off their foes. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths as drops of sweat ran down the sides of her face.

    "Maressa, don't stand there, come on!" Her eyes re-opened as she saw Nick running to help the others. He took a Pokéball and flung it into the air, summoning his bright blue Marshtomp. As she ran over, she saw Marshtomp spray their adversaries with a stream of mud, throwing them backward and giving the area a thick, slippery coat. Watching the officers and Pokémon slip in the brown, foul-smelling liquid, Maressa began to assess their situation as she mentally formulated a strategy.

    "Nick, order your Marshtomp use Muddy Water!" Nick faced Maressa as she came sprinting over to the group. Disbelief and skepticism were etched in every line of his cherry-red face as he stared at her. "Have Marshtomp use the water in the air and ground to do so, but to make sure it's mostly muddy! That'll cause them to slip more!"

    "He can't just 'use the water in the air,' he has to draw it from whatever body of water is around!" he shouted back. Maressa bit her lip in fury as she saw their Pokémon struggling against their opponents. Though their Pokémon weren't faltering, they were either expending more of their energy dodging attacks or being forced to endure more hits as the number of Growlithe and Poochyena began to overwhelm them.

    "Everyone, use Water Gun! Don't lock your aim, keep changing targets to hit more of them!" Turning her head back to Nick, she spat through gritted teeth, "Yes he can. You might not have had him do it before, but it's possible for him to!" Without meaning, her voice had risen to a shout, though she stood no more than a few meters away from her teammates.

    "It's not going to work!"

    "We're losing anyway, we have to try something other than this! Now have him do it!" She delivered the last line forcefully and glared at Nick in frustration. He returned her dirty look, yet she saw his recalcitrance falter as he watched his Pokémon slowly get overwhelmed.

    "Marshtomp, use Muddy Water!" he ordered. The Pokémon hollered back unintelligible noise, and Nick added, "Use the water in the ground, and whatever water the other Pokémon have shot out!"

    "Everyone else, defend Marshtomp! Make sure he doesn't get hit!" At Maressa's orders, Marshtomp retreated to the back, next to where Nick stood. The rest of the Pokémon doubled their efforts, relentlessly shooting beams of water and energy, lashing out with legs and tails as they strove to protect their companion.

    Maressa saw one of the police officers talking on his transmitter. Putting the device down, he shouted over the din, "Attack the Marshtomp!"

    Maressa and her teammates violently swore as the Poochyena and Growlithe tried to fight their way through. Feeling something slide along her feet, Maressa looked down to see small streams of water coursing past her to join together behind Marshtomp. She watched, fascinated, as water combined with dirt to form a low wall of thick, curdling mud.

    "Fall back!" she shouted to the Pokémon, and as soon as her teammates saw Marshtomp's prepared ammunition, they ordered likewise. Golduck and the others continued their offensive as they retreated, refusing to hesitate lest their partner be wounded and fall. As everyone gathered behind Marshtomp and his formation of mud, she ordered "All right, cease fire! Nick, I think he's ready."

    Nodding, Nick shouted, "Marshtomp, use Muddy Water!" Everyone watched in amazement as Marshtomp strained; with his efforts, the mud stretched upward into a large, impenetrable barrier. The faces of the police and their creatures became wrought with shock and dread as, without success, they tried to run from it. Maressa felt a wave of enormous satisfaction wash over her as she saw their opponents thrown down in the muddy torrent.

    "Everyone, follow it up with Water Gun and Hydro Pump!"

    While the Golduck and his companions did so, Marshtomp fell on his bottom, panting. Smiling, Nick took out a Pokéball and recalled his companion, saying, "You did good, buddy."

    "Now it's just a matter of. . ." Her voice died as she watched more cars roll up. Everyone's relief and confidence turned to fear and horror as more men poured out of the cars. Unlike the previous attackers, they did not brandish nightsticks or send out Pokémon; rather, each man carried a gun. They encircled Maressa and her companions, pointing their revolvers at them. As soon as the Pokémon saw the weapons, they ceased their attacks, and retreated to where their masters were stationed.

    "Recall your Pokémon, and don't move," the nearest one said. Maressa's heart jumped to her throat as she stared back at him. His jet-black glasses made his face appear expressionless, and she knew in her heart that if he felt any desire to shoot her, he would not hesitate in doing so. Maressa reached for her Pokéball with deliberate slowness; taking hold of it, she pointed it to her Pokémon and called for him to return.

    No red light, however, poured out of the ball. Instead, it sat in her hand, empty and unmoving. "I said to recall your Pokémon!" the man shouted.

    Maressa stared back at him, and felt the terror swirling in her harden into fury. "Wrong Pokéball," she said indifferently. Not taking her eyes off him, she dropped the ball to the ground and reached in her pocket for a second when everything became enveloped in a bright blue light. All of the police officers faltered as, for a second, they watched the ripping light patterns pass over their bodies and the ground. One gave a shout of surprise as he looked skyward, and all others followed his lead.

    An enormous wall of water towered high over their heads, passing in front of the sun. A sense of awe washed over human and Pokémon as they stood, transfixed, watching the seawater climb higher into the sky. They've done it, Maressa thought as she smiled inwardly with relief and wonder.

    However, one remained unmoved by the beauty of the spectacle. He stood next to Maressa, still panting as his heart rate lowered. The gem on his head took on a heliotrope hue, and his eyes turned monochrome as an aura of purple energy surrounded the gun of each policeman.

    Maressa turned her head as the weapons were ripped from the mens' hands and flew towards her teammates. Calling each of her companions to attention, they took hold of a revolver in each hand and pointed them to their previous oppressors.

    "Don't move," Maressa ordered them.

    As he put his hands in the air, the man who had spoken to her earlier began, "You don't even know how--" BANG! He lost his voice as the bullet flew upwards in to the air and Todd lowered his gun. Smoke from the shot continued to spiral into the clear sky, joining the ever-climbing wall of ocean water.

    Motioning with her revolvers, Maressa had two of the officers step out of the way. Passing between them, she walked over to where the first force lay on the ground, still covered in mud and water. Some of them were picking themselves up, but became completely still as they saw the weapons Maressa and her companions held.

    "Get up. And keep your hands in the air." The men did as she ordered, watching apprehensively as Golduck and Leah's Azumarill positioned themselves in front of the men, glaring at them with eyes full of malice and malevolence. They began to object when Nick went around taking each of their transmitters, yet silenced their complaints when he jammed the barrel of the revolver against their soft, vulnerable flesh.

    Maressa turned her head as Todd spoke into the microphone on his headgear. After a brief pause, he told his teammates, "They've finished--"

    "Already?" Nick cut across him. "That was really fast. . . "

    "Yeah. Anyway, we're supposed to do whatever we can to tie them"-- he gestured to the policemen, "up, and destroy their automobiles. Then we board the helicopter when it gets back up here." He paused as he looked the policemen up and down, assessing their body gear. "Leah and Maressa, take their handcuffs and link all of them together." As they moved to do his bidding, he added to the first group of policemen, "All of you, recall your Pokémon." They did so with trembling hands, absorbing their companions into the small balls before letting the red-and-white spheres drop to the ground.

    The two obeyed their orders, going to each police officer and removing the handcuffs that were attached to him. They worked quickly and silently as they snapped the cuffs shut over each officer's hand, taking all of their keys and throwing them out of reach. Their Pokémon kept close to them as they did so, casting the police men threatening glances as they protectively followed their humans.

    "You won't get away with this," one of the men told them as Leah snapped the cold metal around his thick wrist.

    "If you want what's good for this world, you'll make sure we do," Maressa responded.

    "'Good for this world?' How does attacking and terrorizing people make this world any better?" he shouted in disbelief.

    His words sent a shard of guilt into Maressa's heart. Terrorize?

    The city men stood in one large circle, each handcuff used to connect two different people. They looked sadly as they saw their vehicles be destroyed by Nick's Politoed and Todd's Crawdaunt, who rendered them useless with jets of high-pressured water and force of large, armored claws.

    Everyone turned their heads as the air whirred and wind blew about chaotically. The doors of the helicopter remained open as it descended from the sky and came to rest not fifty meters from Maressa and her teammates. Once the helicopter touched down, they unloaded their guns, threw them to the ground, and recalled their Pokémon before running to it.

    When she got inside the large vehicle, the adrenaline that had been pumping through Maressa's veins left her, and she felt as though her legs might collapse. Her stomach churning, she leaned against the wall for support as the helicopter, with its doors still open, flew into the air, leaving a circle of men watching below in fury. Maressa clenched her eyes shut and tried to fight back the uncomfortable, sickening sensation in her stomach.

    I am never getting on a helicopter ever again, she told herself.

    Nearly everyone tried to look through the open windows and doors at the wall of water, which oscillated up and down as the tide pushed inward and outward. As they passed by it, the sun shone through it, giving it the appearance of a giant crystalline wall that shimmered and rippled as though it were imbued with life. Slightly opening one eye, Maressa saw the numerous ghost Pokémon floating before it, keeping the protective moves in place with their psychic powers.

    Taking her eye from the glimmering spectacle, Maressa put her hand on the shoulder of the person standing nearest to her. Swallowing the bile that had accumulated in her mouth, she took a deep breath and shakily asked, "Do you know where the rest of our Pokémon are?"

    The teammate, whom she had never met before, had long auburn hair that stretched down her back and was held in place with a tie at the end. The girl stared curiously at Maressa as she spoke, and slowly replied, "Um. . . I think they're in that box over there." She pointed to a big crate standing at one end of the helicopter, where people were crowding around.

    "Thank you," Maressa replied as she swiveled her eyes to where her teammate indicated. Taking deep, slow breaths, she slowly moved to the crate, keeping her back against the wall. Having slid all the way to the indicated box, she quickly found her Pokémon, and was filled with relief when she saw them stare back at her through the translucent lids of their Pokéballs. Though they looked tired, they appeared unharmed, and smiled happily when they saw her.

    Over the loud noise of the helicopter's rotating blades, a voice called out, "Release the wall of water." Maressa glanced upwards as she saw Commander Shelly staring out of the open helicopter door. They were no longer ascending but remained stationary in the air, far above the ocean's reach.

    Maressa looked out one of the windows as she felt the needle of dread prick her heart. The bottom of the cliffs remained empty, exposing the bare, wet rocks as well as the excavation that had been done moments before. Maressa knew that the bowl-like opening would be filled when the water flowed back down, but something didn't seem right. She looked curiously at her commander, and noticed that Patrick, whom she had spoken to, was giving the Commander the same, uncertain look.

    "Do you mean. . . all of it at once?"

    "Yes, have them all release it," she snapped back.

    Discouragement crossed Patrick's face. "But that'll cause the water to spill over the cliffs." His voice died as he beheld the murderous glare that Shelly cast upon him.

    She placed her face centimeters from his own, and though he towered over her, he quailed as she exerted every bit of authority over him. "Are you questioning an order give by your commander?" She continued before he had time to answer. "I told you I would require complete obedience for this mission, as well as all other missions we have. Now, order the Pokémon to release the water or I will have you charged for insubordination."

    Everyone in the helicopter fell silent as Shelly asserted herself over her inferior. All that could be heard was the whirring of the propellers outside, which failed to drown out Shelly's forceful voice. Patrick looked up to see everyone staring at him, and hardening his resolve, he closed his eyes and mouthed something as he tapped into the psychic link he shared with the ghost Pokémon. Opening his eyes, he said flatly, "It's done."

    Everyone on the team flattened themselves to the windows or poked their heads out the doors. A net of horror caught Maressa's heart as she watched the waves cascade over the circle of policemen. Uncoordinated in their circle of imprisonment, they could only shout in terror as the turbulent waves crashed over their heads and swept them through the trees and over the hills..

    She could not bring herself to watch anymore. Stepping back from the window, Maressa hurried past her teammates. She shut the door of the storage room and sat down on the floor, where the tears she had held back worked themselves free and crawled down her face. As she buried her face in her knees, the words the man had last said came to her:

    "How does attacking and terrorizing people make this world any better?"
    Last edited by starliteevee; 30th September 2014 at 5:26 AM.


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

  5. #5
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    Here's chapter 3! I know it's much shorter than the last; it was originally going to be part of chapter 2, but I decided to cut it separately for length's sake and because it is an entirely different scene. As always, reviews and critiques are much appreciated.

    Chapter 3

    Mark knocked his gloved knuckles against the metal door. His hand suspended in mid-air as he gave a brief pause, but no answer came.

    "Maressa?" he called. Still, there was no answer. He continued knocking, but the room beyond could just as well have been empty. He leaned his forehead against the doorway, saying, “I know you’re in there, Maressa. Nobody’s seen you all day. Won’t you please come out?”

    Nothing. Removing his forehead from the cool metal, Mark stared impatiently at the blank door.

    Sighing, he said softly, “I just want to help you. Everyone’s wondering if you’re all right; we don’t know if you’re sick, and we all just want you to be okay.”

    He heard footsteps, and a moment later, the door opened. Maressa looked up at Mark; her amber eyes were drooping, and lines extended from her tear ducts across her cheeks. Her golden-blonde hair spilled messily over her shoulders, and her skin was unusually pale.

    Smiling and giving a soft “Hey,” as she opened the door, he frowned as he noticed her unsightly appearance. "What happened to you? You look as if you haven't slept or seen the sun in days."

    Absentmindedly running a hand through her hair, she just said, “Yeah.... Do you want to come in?” He complied, and entered the small bedroom. She gestured to the bed, and the two of them sat on it, side-by-side.

    Noticing her bandanna lying abandoned on the floor Mark picked it up, examining the skeletal "A" imprinted on the forefront.

    "You shouldn't leave this lying around, you know." Maressa shrugged as she took it from him. She stared at it as she ran her fingers over the soft fabric, but her eyes held a faraway look, as though she wasn’t actually seeing what she looked at.

    “So what’s up? Why haven’t you talked to anyone all day?”

    Glancing at him, Maressa replied, “I just haven’t felt like talking.”

    “But you’re always talking to someone if you’re not with your Pokémon. Come on, something’s wrong. What is it?”

    Maressa cast him an angry glare for a moment, but Mark stared back obstinately. Maybe the question was personal, but he wasn’t about to apologize for trying to help her.

    Returning her gaze to the far wall, Maressa slowly said, "I...." She paused, licking her lips and swallowing before continuing, "I didn't know we... did that sort of stuff. I didn't expect that to happen."

    Mark could only stare at her in uncertainty. "What do you mean?"

    Closing her eyes before going on, she added, "Yesterday. When we handcuffed those police officers, I didn't think we would leave them to die. I thought... I thought we were just getting them out of the way. And the city... all that water going through the streets, causing that flood..." Her voice shook as she turned her face away in shame.

    Mark's stern gaze softened as he remarked, "That was your first time on an assignment like that, wasn't it?" She nodded mutely. “It might seem bad at first, but it gets better, I promise.”

    Maressa shook her head in disdain. “But killing them was so unnecessary. Why couldn’t we have just let them go?”

    Shrugging uncomfortably, Mark replied, “Shelly likes to... make a statement. She wants everyone to know that Team Aqua isn’t to be messed with.”

    Maressa sneered. “She seems stupid and counterproductive.”

    “You shouldn’t talk about your commander like that.”

    “Whatever.”

    Annoyed, Mark asked, “Well, what were expecting when you joined Team Aqua?”

    Maressa paused for a moment, her fingers nervously fumbling with her bandana. “I was told that I would get to be in Pokémon battles, and that we would try to help protect ecosystems like the sea and wetlands and such.”

    “And how do you think we would go about that?”

    She paused again, her eyebrows furrowing before she continued. “Well... I guess I never really thought about how, but I thought we would be fighting to help others, not hurt them. And how is excavating rocks under the sea supposed to help with that?”

    “Because they were looking for underwater vents; it gives us a better understanding of how the earth works and how life in the sea survives.”

    Maressa’s cheeks burned a fiery shade of red. She burst out, “But we already know how that stuff works! We—“

    Stop.” He put a hand on her shoulder and glared daggers at her as she did so back at him. She complied with his order, but her eyes still glinted with anger.

    Feeling his own face grow red from his boiling blood, Mark asserted, “If there’s one thing you need to learn on this team, it’s trust. You might not agree with what Shelly does, but you need to realize that she’s more experienced than you and that we need to support whatever she does. She gets her orders from our boss, and if we defy her, than we defy him, which is enough to get us fired.”

    Maressa averted her eyes at his words, and seemed a little deflated as she considered them.

    Feeling the fire in him die down, Mark calmly continued, “You were put on this mission because our higher-ups can tell that you’re capable and passionate about the ocean. It’s something that people have to work their way towards, and you were only allowed to go because the commander thought you could handle it. If anything, it’s like a promotion.” As Maressa did nothing but sit and stare at the wall, he added, “Respect goes a long way, too.”

    For a time, Maressa said nothing, but contemplated his words. At last, she spoke. “Sorry for getting so worked up about it... I guess....” She grimaced. “The brutality just seems unnecessary.”

    "By the sound of it, those men yesterday would have killed you if you had let them.”

    Maressa shook her head. “Kill? I don’t know... just take us in, I think.”

    Mark sighed. “You knew when you joined Team Aqua that you were undertaking something illegal, right?” She nodded, so he continued, “But the stuff we’re doing shouldn’t even be considered illegal! We’re trying to help this world, and we can’t just let people like the police or Team Magma get in our way.”

    “Team Magma?”

    “...You have heard of Team Magma, haven’t you?”

    Nodding, she answered, “I have, but I don’t know much about them.”

    Sighing again, Mark answered, “Just think of them like us, but working for the land instead of the sea and they try to stop whatever we do.”

    Furrowing her brow, she asked, “Why? If anything, it seems like we should be getting along and helping each other.”

    He shook his head. “They think that the land is superior, and want to expand it, shrinking the sea and drying lakes in the process.”

    Maressa’s mouth hung open in disbelief. “That’s ridiculous; you can’t make more land!”

    Mark shrugged. “If you ask me—or anyone in this team, for that matter—they’re a bunch of nutjobs. So if you ever see them, be careful. Sometimes they’ll hold our own members hostage to try and get them to comply with our orders.”

    Maressa shivered. She stared down at her knees for a moment before asking, “Do we do the same thing to them? Do we capture their members?

    “I don’t think so; at the very least, I’ve never heard of us holding any hostage. And if we did, I feel like people would be bragging about it and the whole team would know.”

    She nodded slightly, but said no more. Maressa stared down at her knees, her eyes moving around as her thoughts churned in her head. Mark sat, content to be quiet, happy that he at least got his friend to talk. At last, Maressa looked up at him and gave a small smile.

    “Thanks for talking to me, Mark.”

    “Don’t mention it.”

    “By the way, do you know if Sarah’s around?”

    Mark was about to give an answer, then paused, his brow furrowed. “How come?”

    “I’ve been wanting to talk to her.”

    “So... are you saying that if I was Sarah, then you would have opened the door sooner?”

    Looking away, Maressa nodded bashfully. “Most likely.”

    Mark let out a small laugh, then shook as his head. “Girls are so strange; you’ll always talk to each other, but not anyone else.”

    Shrugging, Maressa said offhandedly, “I guess...”

    Mark checked his watch and stood up. “I’ve got to get going.”

    Maressa stood up with her friend, giving him a hug. “Thanks for coming here; it’s good to have someone to talk to. Sorry I was getting so upset.”

    Smiling again, he said, “Don’t worry about it.” He began to take his leave, pausing at the door. "Maressa?"

    "Hm?"

    "Some of the more senior members are a bit less... sympathetic, for when you have breakdowns like that. I would suggest trying to curb your emotions more." Saying so, he ended the conversation, closing the door behind him.

    Sitting back down on her bed, Maressa stared down at her hands lying on her lap. Where her gloves ended, lines circumscribed her wrist, separating the darker color of her arm from the white of her hand.

    Balling one hand into a fist, she picked up her bandana with the other. Mark was right. She looked at her Pokéballs lying on her desk. I’ve been trusting Pokémon; now I need to trust people. My people.
    Last edited by starliteevee; 22nd July 2014 at 11:21 PM.


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

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    “Were it not for the light patterns caused by ripples, Maressa would have thought the water to be perfectly still.”

    To have a single sentence strike soundly so early on in a piece, then you are doing something right; it is not so much that the sentence has any grand plot value (yet), but rather the capability of this sentence to draw you into a theme portrayed by the characters in motion. Simply put, the scenery matches the scene, and it makes for a good draw-in.

    “Maressa's jaw dropped in mock-horror. "That's insubordination! Sarah, if we are not watching, the ground beneath our feet will blow to smithereens. We are the link that keeps order in this world; without our constant vigilance, this planet will fall apart. And everyone will die."

    Sarah snorted and rubbed her face as she looked at her companion. "You're so weird."”

    A nice way to concrete the contrasting personalities of the introduced character, and the word “mock” was absolutely vital. I almost took Maressa seriously myself. xD

    “Sarah sighed as she remarked, "A lot of people would give for a relationship like that."

    Give what? Their life? Their collection of Pokémon cards? They’re Aunts Egg Salad recipe? Pardon my method of point out this error, but I could not resist. The point remains that there is either deletion at place here, or just a lack of a necessary word.

    “shaped like a razor, cutting through the air, it came with alarming alacrity”

    You taught me a new word. “Alacrity”. Know that this is no small feat!

    “"any minute" became all but a dream.”

    There’s an extra “ in front of “any”. It doesn’t seem to end anywhere, so a deletion may be in order.

    Their bloodshot eyes took in the scene of the rising sun spilling its fluorescent orange light over the earth, causing the water to look like a thousand diamonds strewn across an orange blanket.

    I was originally going to mention how you have a knack for poetic language when I wrapped up my review, but this little example says it all for me. Superb. Amazing. Sensational.

    Wrap Up:

    The ending made me laugh. Overall, the scene was dominated by an ever-present sense of friendship that exists strongly in not only Sarah and Maressa, but also in the personal bond Maressa shares with Pokémon. It was portrayed in such a way that there was a back-and-forth between “they are enjoying themselves” and “they really get each other”. The first chapter sets the stage for where Maressa is going at least, and the anticipation to see what unfolds abounds at the closing of an expertly written chapter.
    Last edited by Sebax; 4th February 2014 at 2:21 AM. Reason: Improper review aspect

  7. #7
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    First off, I would like to thank Sebax for that heart-warming review

    Here's chapter 4; I had originally written it from Golduck's perspective, but felt that it was just too clogged-up, I suppose. I re-wrote it from Maressa's and tried to reduce the description and use of big words; hopefully it worked. Anyway, here's the next chapter, and reviews or criticisms or comments are always appreciated!

    Chapter 4

    Maressa blinked lazily as she held a hand to shield her eyes from the sun’s glare. She reached up with the other and touched her headset, running her gloved fingers along its thing wiry frame. For perhaps the twentieth time since she got it, she smiled. The excitement after being told that she was going to be entrusted with direct communication to her commander had not died down, and she still felt sparks of joy whenever she felt or used her new headgear. There had been little need to use it so far, though. Everything on this mission had gone particularly well; from her perch on the peak of Mt. Chimney, she could see nothing but stretches of forest running before her and crags of rock laying behind.

    She glanced down by her side. Golduck was sweating profusely under the sun’s oppressive rays, and his eyes blinked drowsily in the sunlight. Every time she looked at him, her heart sank with pity.

    “Here, Golduck.” She opened her bottle of water and, holding it above him, poured it. He guzzled it down gratefully, giving a nod of thanks when she closed it.

    Sitting down, he narrowed his eyes in annoyance as he glared up at the pale sky. She knew he was frustrated with everything going on, and, though things were going well for her, she would have been upset if she was in his place. Most of the orders for the missions were given while they were on the way there; the trainers’ Pokmon had no idea what they were supposed to do until they reached their destination. And once they did reach it, they were typically just told to go “keep watch.”

    Maressa took her eyes off Golduck and stared straight ahead. Golduck was fit for battles, and he didn’t feel like he’d gotten enough opportunities to fight; he felt locked out of the loop and that his talents were wasted. All she could do, however, was to give him a sympathetic “I’m sorry,” and tell him to deal with. Maybe she could take him out and go swimming with him later. . .

    “A-squad, come in!”

    Maressa jumped as she was jolted back to reality by the voice coming in from her headset.

    “Yes?” she replied.

    “Get back here immediately. And prepare for battle!”

    “Yes ma’am.” She looked down at Golduck, whose muscles were tightened and eyes were wide in anticipation. “They want us over. Let’s go!”

    The two set off, hopping over rocks and up boulders until they reached a sea of blue bandanas. At the forefront of their group, Shelly stood at the edge of a ledge. Maressa made her way over until she stood a few people behind her commander. About twenty meters across from them, a swarm of red-clad people filled the ledge. Maressa’s heart dropped slightly as she recognized the soot-black M emblem on their chest. On the ground between the two groups of people, a bespectacled man stood, nervously clutching a porous rock to his chest.

    “And this nice man is going to give us that meteorite,” Shelly was saying to the commander of the other team.

    “The altitude must be affecting your brain. He’s handing that over to us,” the Magma commander replied coolly.

    “Well, if it’s a fight you want, then it’s a fight you’ll get!” Shelly shouted hotly. “Go, Walrein and Crawdaunt!” The area was bathed in splashes of white light as multiple Pokémon were released from the Pokéballs and materialized onto the ground. At his human’s command, Golduck jumped down to join his teammates.

    Oh no, Maressa thought when she saw the aquatic Pokémon grouped together on the sun-baked ground. Not good. She wanted to say something to Shelly, but held her tongue; telling her commander that she was making a bad decision would only get her into trouble.

    The person who had been talking on the other side called, "Go, Golbat and Mightyena!" The Walrein bared their saber-sharp tusks and Crawdaunt
    clacked their pincers menacingly as a horde of snarling Mightyena and screeching Golbat was sent out to meet them.

    “Commander, the meteorite!” someone from the opposing team shouted. Maressa jerked her head; the man was running away from the battle scene, still clutching the rock to his chest.

    “B-squad, after him!” Shelly commanded. A troop of Aqua members chased after the man while a group of Magma members did likewise.

    Turning to the Magma commander, Shelly smugly asked, “Are you ready?”

    “Yep. But you’re going to regret it.”

    “Walrein, water gun! Crawdaunt, bubble beam!” At Shelly’s command, the Pokémon sprayed jets of water and unleashed bursts of bubbles at their adversaries. The Golbat merely flew out of the way, and the water splashed uselessly on the rocks as the Mightyena gracefully evaded.

    “Golbat, air cutter! Mightyena, hyper beam!” As ordered, the Golbat sent razor-sharp gusts of air while Mightyena let loose blindingly-bright rays of orange energy at the Walrein and Crawdaunt.

    Golduck, Maressa was grateful to see, had been agile enough to dodge the attacks. The others were not so; the Walrein, with flippers unsuited for travel over rocky terrain and hundreds of pounds of fat weighing them down, let loose roars of pain as they were blasted backwards by the malicious onslaught. Similarly, the Crawdaunts' legs were too small to allow them to travel over the bare rock quickly enough. Their thick carapaces at least offered them a greater degree of protection than the unfortunate pinnipeds had.

    Maressa stood biting her lip in frustration, wanting desperately to do something, yet also too scared to do so. Golduck turned back and glared at her as if to say, Why are you letting this happen? Deciding that she had to at least try, she went tentatively to her commander.

    “Commander Shelly,” she said softly.

    “Keep your distance! No, I didn’t say to use ice ball, I said to use water gun!” She glanced at Maressa. “Not now,” she snapped.

    As she saw the Pokémon continue to get battered down, she grew angrier. “Commander Shelly,” she repeated with more confidence. “The battle seems to be going in their favor.”

    Shelly’s eyes softened momentarily with worry as she took in her underling’s words.

    “But I know what I can do to make it go in our favor. Please, let me command them.”

    Shelly hesitated, listening to the Walrein roar in pain and watching the Crawdaunt blown back into the rock faces. For a moment, Maressa thought that she would comply, but the only word that came out of her mouth was, “No.”

    “What? But I—“

    NO,” she repeated more firmly. Lacking the desire to face an angry Shelly, Maressa stood back, giving her Golduck an apologetic glance when he looked up at her.

    More commands spouted from Shelly’s mouth, and the Magma commander countered every one of her moves with plans of his own. Maressa bit her knuckles nervously; her heart weighed heavily in her chest every time she saw another Pokémon struck down.

    At length, Golduck ceased attacking and turned directly towards Maressa. He quacked angrily, letting loose his frustration at this nonsensical battle plan. He stared directly into Maressa's eyes as he ranted, telling his human that if she was going to intervene and stop this nonsense, she had to do it now.

    At his quacks, Maressa’s heart sank with guilt and pity. At last, she decided that she had to try once more. Stepping up to Shelly again, Maressa begged to be allowed control of the battle, and again, she was denied. Shelly turned back to the Walrein and Crawdaunt, giving terse, angry commands.

    Maressa glanced down, and her eyes met Golduck’s vermillion ones. Maressa thought she had never seen anyone so desperate. In the moment their eyes met, Golduck was struck in the back with a ball of swirling, black energy. He cried out in surprise as he was thrust against the rock face.

    “Golduck!” Maressa gasped. He stood up quickly, though, and sent a jet of high-pressured water to the Mightyena who had attacked him. Turning back to Maressa, Golduck gave a short, worried plea before returning to protect his teammates.

    Deciding that there was no more time to be spent making half-hearted attempts, Maressa shouted at Shelly. “Commander, we’re losing!”

    “Don’t shout at me!”

    “But we are! Just look at these Pokémon, they can’t take much more of a beating! If you just let me command them, I can get us to win! Look,” she pointed at the Mightyena and Golbat. “They don’t have high defense; the only reason they’re winning is because our Pokémon haven’t hit them at all. But our Pokémon have much higher defense; if we take advantage of that and manage to attack them, we’ll have them down in no time at all.”

    Shelly turned to Maressa, her scarlet eyes burning with anger. But beneath that anger, Maressa also saw that her commander was considering her words.

    “Please,” she begged in a softer voice. “We’re losing anyway; what harm can there be in letting someone of lesser rank than you take over the battle? If we lose, it will be mostly my fault anyway, since I’ll be the one in charge once the battle ends.”

    Shelly turned away, and Maressa could sense the gears turning in her head as she contemplated the grunt’s words.

    At last, she said, “Fine,” and stepped back.

    Standing at the forefront of the group of Team Aqua members, Maressa took command. "Everyone, regroup! Crawdaunt, make a line in front of the Walrein!"

    The Pokémon did not question their new leader, but hastened to follow her orders. Once the Crawdaunt had lined up with the Walrein just behind them, Maressa ordered, "Crawdaunt, use protect! Walrein, use ice ball!" She turned her head to Golduck, and said more quietly, "Golduck, break up the swarm of Golbat as much as you can." Nodding in affirmation, he looked to the sky and promptly fired psybeams at the horde, knocking several screeching Pokémon to the ground and causing those who remained in the air to fly hectically around in confusion.

    While Golduck was firing psybeams, Maressa, out of the corner of her eye, saw the Mightyena standing by the Magma commander launch a shadow ball. She cried out “Watch out!” but was much too late; the ball of energy exploded when it touched azure skin, and Golduck was hurled back, hitting his head on a rock. He stood back up, rubbing his head, his muscles tightening and beak opened slightly in a hiss as he glared at the sneering canine.

    Sensing that he was about to lunge back into the fray, Maressa calmly told him, “Golduck, just wait here.”

    He turned his head up to Maressa to see her staring at the other team's commander. "I see him hanging back there. I want you to wait here with me." She held up a hand to stop any oncoming objections. "I know that it's not you to wait while others do the fighting. You'll get back in there soon, don't worry. But in case that Mightyena," she nodded to the one standing next to the commander, "decides to enter this fight for himself, I want you to be ready and fight him. Understand?" She glanced at Golduck, and the brief moment where their eyes met, he nodded. Standing side by side, the duo watched the two sides continue their attacks.

    She bit her lip to keep herself from smiling as she watched the Mightyena and Golbat fall as chunks of ice crashed into them. "Come on everyone, keep it up! Don't stop!" With her encouragements, the aquatic Pokémon continued their thus-far successful offensive. Whenever the Mightyena or Golbas tried to attack, the Crawdaunt would use protect to defend themselves and the Walrein behind them. While hiding behind the Crawdaunt, the Walrein would lie low, storing their energy as they charged for their ice ball attack. As soon as the Crawdaunt ceased their defensive, they would crouch down while the Walrein fired massive balls of ice over their heads. Though Maressa knew that she would have to switch to a new tactic soon, she was pleased with how well this one turned out. The Walrein and Crawdaunt were performing spectacularly; she would be happy to have any of them on her own team.

    She could hear the opposing commander shout something, though she could not decipher his words. She shouted to the Pokémon, "They're going to change their tactics; be ready!" Balling her fists, every muscle in her body tensed as she stared at the red-clad man, who was pointing and giving orders to the horde of Golbat. She considered attacking them while they were distracted, but her team's Pokémon had their hands full with the Mightyena, who continued to fire shadow balls and hyper beams while the Golbat received their orders.

    As soon as the Magma commander gave his orders, the Golbat flew over Team Aqua. Maressa craned her head as she watched them fly above and group directly over the main body of her team. Her teammates stared up at the Pokémon with terror and uncertainty in their eyes as the blue bat-like creatures glared down at them, forming swirling black balls of energy between their open jaws.

    Realizing their intent, Maressa uselessly shouted, "Run! They're going to attack!" Most of the teammates had already begun to flee down the mountainside. Those that didn't paid no attention to Maressa's words, but remained rooted to their spot; whether from fear or awaiting their commander's orders, she did not know. As the shadow balls were launched, they set off multiple small explosions, sending sprays of rock and gravel into the air. Cries of shock and pain greeted Maressa's ears as, amid falling rubble and stones, about twenty people were sent crashing down the steep mountainside.

    Maressa watched her teammates until they were lost amid the trees. Every muscle in her body froze as her eyes widened in terror. For a moment, her heart seemed to cease its pumping, and her blood flow stopped as she felt the ground fall away from her. Her mouth hanging open, she stared dumbly at the patch of rubble where, a few seconds previously, her teammates had stood.

    She was soon jolted back to the present when a blue-gloved hand smacked her across the cheek. "What are you doing?" Raising her eyes, Maressa saw Shelly's scarlet ones burning with fire as they glared intently at her. "Don't stand there and watch; get back to the fight!"

    "But . . . ." Maressa glanced back at the crushed and broken piles of rock that had taken the place of where her teammates previously stood. The Golbat were nowhere to be seen. "But they could die. . . ."

    "I gave you command of this battle, and that is your responsibility. Don't bother with the rest of the team." Maressa turned her gaze back to her commander. Shelly's hands were balled into fists as her eyes glared at Maressa maliciously.

    As she felt Shelly's stare bore into her, a burning rage rose within Maressa. "Those are people!" She pointed to the trees which her companions had fallen into. "They'll die if we don't do something!"

    Shelly's voice rose as she shouted, "I know that! I’ll take care of them, but you need to be worrying about the battle! Now get back to it, or I’ll have you wishing you joined them.” She punctuated the last word by jabbing her pointer finger to the scattered Team Aqua members.

    Maressa's nails bit deeply into her palms as she glared murderously at Shelly. Being told to fight only made her want to do it less. She was seriously considering stepping down and going into the woods to search for her teammates when several cries met her ears.

    Whipping her head around, she saw the Walrein and Crawdaunt were spread out in disorder while the Mightyena ran amongst them, slamming into their hard shells or sinking their teeth into the blue skin. The Golbat flew down from overhead and slammed into the marine Pokémon with their wings, or else set their fangs, dripping with poison, into the flesh of their enemies.

    Maressa's eyes scanned the battlefield, her mind working rapidly as she sought for a solution. At last, her eyes alighted on the Magma commander. His arms were folded across his chest while his Mightyena was firing hyper beams, taking out many of the aquatic creatures.

    "Golduck." She turned to the Pokémon still standing faithfully beside her. "Are you ready?" Without looking at her, he nodded, keeping his eyes on the lone Mightyena. Pointing to the commander and his companion, she ordered, "Then, fire!"

    Golduck promptly fired a psybeam at the duo’s feet; the rock exploded and crumbled away as soon as the ray of lavender-colored energy ray collided with it. As the Magma Commander and his Pokémon angrily got to their feet, Golduck leapt off the precipice and onto the battlefield.

    A high-pitched yelp pierced Maressa’s eardrums as the aquatic Pokmon tackled the Mightyena back to the ground, swiping furiously with his claws. At Maressa’s command, Golduck whipped his tail around began to slam it into the black, furry back. Each smack was punctured with a squeal as his opponent scrambled in an attempt to regain his feet.

    The beat-down didn’t last long; at his leader’s command, the Mightyena fired a shadow ball, sending Golduck flying back through the air. Getting to his feet, Golduck panted as he glared at the Mightyena, who replied with a snarl.

    Using psychic attacks was useless, and, especially in the arid climate, Maressa didn’t want him expending any water. She shouted out, “Meet him in close combat!” Obliging, Golduck sped towards his opponent, dodging shadow balls as he ran.

    Baring his claws and fangs respectively, Golduck and the Mightyena leapt at each other, meeting in mid-air and falling to the ground in a scuffle. Wrapping his arms around Mightyena’s neck, Golduck held his adversary in position, jabbing its head with his bill.

    Maressa balled her hands into fists as she watched anxiously; Golduck would have a hard time lasting, and she knew that they would have to finish this battle soon. She was vaguely aware of Shelly conversing behind her, but soon forgot about that as she saw the Mightyena wriggle free from Golduck’s grasp and sink its teeth into the water Pokémon’s upper arm.

    Clamping her hands over her ears, Maressa called, “Golduck, screech!”

    Placing his bill next to the Mightyena’s ear, Golduck let loose a high-pitched, throaty shriek. The Mightyena immediately let go of Golduck’s arm as it jerked its head away in shock. Golduck halted the auditory onslaught and immediately fired a psybeam at Mightyena’s feet, blasting it several meters backwards.

    As Golduck ran to meet it, the Magma commander shouted, “Mightyena, sand attack!”

    “Golduck, keep your distance!”

    “Hyper beam!”

    “Evade, and try to get as close to him as possible!”

    Their voices rose and grew more fervent and more anxious as the two humans continued to give orders. The two Pokmon were doing all they could to keep up with their commands before their humans switched tactics. Maressa could feel her face grow hotter as blood rushed through her veins and her heart pounded viciously beneath her sternum as she watched Golduck run away from the Mightyena—who was now digging and flinging sand everywhere—and stand before her.

    Sweat dripped down Maressa’s face as she watched Golduck pant. He was almost bent-double as he took in great gasps of air and his eyelids opened and closed slowly. Maressa remained torn between whether she ought to continue to have him fight or recall him.

    “How are you holding up?” she asked him.

    He turned his head, closed his eyes, and shrugged nonchalantly.

    “Do you want to take a break? I can have someone else fight for you.”

    He jerked his head back to face her, and Maressa wasn’t surprised to see anger alight in his eyes. He shook his head vehemently.

    Deciding she would at least try to reason with him, she commented, “You know that if you go on much longer you’re going to faint.”

    Lowering his eyes, he nodded, but quacked reassuringly to let her know that he understood what he was taking on. Though shaking badly, he took an offensive stance, ready to charge again.

    Maressa sighed. “Golduck.” He turned his head around to face her as she softly called his name. “I hate seeing you get hurt.”

    He stared back at her for a moment, thoughtful and—Maressa hardly dared to believe—almost appreciative at her sappy words. But a second later, he turned back to their foes and told her that, sometimes, he had to.

    Sighing again, Maressa replied, “If you say so.” Looking up at the Mightyena standing before the Magma commander, she suggested, “Let’s try to finish this, all right?” She pointed to the dark-type as she shouted, “Hydro pump!”

    “Hyper beam!”

    A ray of fluorescent-orange energy collided with the white burst of water. For a second, the two were evenly-matched as both Pokmon held their ground; then the hydro pump gave way as Golduck fell in exhaustion.

    The orange light threw Golduck’s face in sharp relief for a second, clearly showcasing his terror-widened eyes before blasting him back. He soared through the air before falling flat on the rock and ceased to move.

    GOLDUCK!” Maressa jumped off the precipice and raced over to her fallen companion. The Mightyena, however, had reached him first and stood over his lifeless form with bared fangs. “Get away from him!”

    Someone whistled, and the Mightyena backed away from Golduck as Maressa knelt down beside him.

    “Oh, Golduck, no. . . .” She cradled his head in her hands; his eyes were closed, and his chest slowly rose up and down. He didn’t respond at her touch.

    She put her head against his, whispering, “I’m so sorry.”

    A shadow passed over them as the sun was suddenly blocked. Maressa looked up, and took a sharp intake of breath as she saw the Magma commander standing over her. Whipping out her Pokéball, she withdrew Golduck and got to her feet. She was about to back away when she heard a growl behind her and turned her head to see the Mightyena pacing back and forth. It's fur was disheveled and blood oozed from cuts and scrapes all over its body. Breathing heavily, it snarled at her.

    She turned her head back to the Magma commander as he spoke. “Just wait here for a moment.” His voice was surprisingly soft, but held authority and confidence. His black eyes were half-closed, yet were roving up and down Maressa calculatingly. Maressa tensed as he stepped closer, yet hearing another growl prevented her from moving away.

    The commander smiled as he saw Maressa anxiously eye the Mightyena. “Don’t worry; he won’t attack you unless I tell him to.”

    Maressa looked off to the side, wanting to make eye contact with neither human nor Pokémon. Sweat dripped down her face and her fingers fidgeted as she stood locked in place, and she glanced up at the commander every few seconds as he talked.

    “That was a good fight; I haven’t been that thrilled from a Pokémon battle in at least a year.” He could sense Maressa’s discomfort, and smiled wider as stepped closer to her. “You certainly did a much better job than your commander—she can hardly put up a fight. What’s your name?”

    Maressa stayed silent until the Mightyena behind her growled deeply. The commander chuckled as he watched her wet her lips and open and close her mouth nervously.

    “I guess it doesn’t really matter. But you should know that your talents are being wasted. Someone as skilled as you shouldn’t be with Team Aqua.”

    Balling her hands into fists, Maressa raised her eyes to meet his. For a moment, she glared at him while his black gaze bore into her. She felt obliged to say something, but words were failing her.

    The commander suddenly stopped smiling, and put a hand to his headgear as a voice crackled in. Turning slightly to the side, he hissed,“What?” His gaze hardened and became piercing as he listened to the voice. He turned back to Maressa, no longer coy or smug, but glaring at her lividly. Maressa’s fingers started to fidget again, and she swallowed nervously, unsure as to why he suddenly changed.

    “You mean they’ve already. . . ?” He looked up and into the distance, towards the peak of Mt. Chimney. Maressa looked over there too, but saw nothing besides the rocky mountainside.

    The Magma member turned back to Maressa. His mouth was partly open in shock, but his eyes were hardened with fury.

    “Well played,” he commented.

    Maressa stood at a loss for words, wondering what just went on and what he could possibly be referring to.

    Seeing her confused look, the Magma Commander furrowed his eyebrows in disbelief and asked, “What? Do you mean that you don’t know what your own team has been doing? Look around you.” He pointed to the area behind Maressa. She turned, and saw that most of the Walrein and Crawdaunt had been withdrawn from the battlefield.
    “Your own team left you to distract me while they took the meteorite and used it to make the volcano dormant. Although, I have to admit, you did put up a good fight.” Maressa turned back to look at him, and though he looked angry, there was also a sense of approval.

    As he continued to stare at her, Maressa again grew uncomfortable and looked away, heart pounding viciously. Please go away; please leave, she prayed.

    “There’s no point in staying here now that you’ve finished. But maybe. . . .” Maressa glanced back at him and saw him studying her curiously, formulating some sort of plan in his head.

    The Mightyena let loose a bark and shot a shadow ball at an incoming jet of water. On the ledge where Maressa stood previously, Shelly and other teammates now stood. A Walrein stood before them, baring its massive tusks as the snarling canine.

    “Go back to your team,” the commander told her. Maressa looked at him in disbelief as he took out a Pokéball and withdrew the Mightyena. “You’ve done a decent job for today; but we’ll see each other again.” His analytic gaze lingered on her for a moment before he smiled and said, “I look forward to our rematch.” So saying, he turned and walked away, leaving the Team Aqua member feeling both relief and dread.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Beep.

    The heart monitor was the only source of noise in the room. All the patients slept soundly in their beds. A few groggily blinked their eyes before closing them and returning to a heavy sleep. IVs tubes formed a plastic jungle, as nearly everyone was hooked up to one. A nurse walked around, checking and adjusting tubes, administering some food, and adjusting pillows to make the patients more comfortable.

    Maressa clasped her hands and hunched over. It seemed that the Magma commander had been right; while she and Golduck had been fighting, her team had left, secured the meteorite, and put Mt. Chimney to sleep for good. Though Shelly had ordered the team to get back to work when they returned, most of the squadron had put together a party. Maressa had walked into Shannon’s room to ask if she could borrow a pair of gloves and had instead found people celebrating their successful mission.

    A Walrein behind her let loose a deep sigh as he rolled over. Though Maressa loved her teammates, she couldn’t feel justified in celebrating with them; their mission was a success, but the battle was a disaster. She had succeeded in holding Team Magma off, but every time she looked at Golduck’s damaged body, the word “success” didn’t seem right.

    She checked her watch; she had been sitting there for nearly two hours. Her stomach rumbled, but she wasn’t in the mood to eat. The nurse had said that Golduck just needed to be re-hydrated and rest for a few days, but Maressa didn’t want to leave him until she saw in full health.

    Rubbing her temples, she groaned when she thought of the next assignment she had been given. She glanced up at Golduck, wishing she could stay with him, but she was due to move out in two days, and he would need more time than that to recover.

    Maressa reached over and touched Golduck’s webbed hand. Bandages wound around his arm covered the needle connecting to an IV tube, and his body was marred with slashes and scrapes. At her touch, he opened his eyes slightly, gave a grateful nod, then closed them again.

    “I’m so sorry,” she whispered. He opened his eyes slightly and gave her a quizzical look. “This was my fault; I knew you were exhausted, and I had you use hydro pump.” Golduck shook his head slightly, as if to say that he didn’t hold her to any blame. Still unhappy, Maressa took her hand away while Golduck closed his eyes again and returned to sleep.

    As she studied her companion’s injuries, Shelly’s words echoed through her head.

    So this is the world we’re building. . . .

    She found it darkly ironic that Pokémon had sustained worse injuries than people on their missions. Though she was relieved to find that none of her teammates were dead—the worst injury was a concussion—she loathed to see the Pokémon get hurt. Even the Team Magma commander had seemed relatively protective of his Pokémon.

    Shuddering, she recalled her conversation with the Magma commander. For a moment, she had been scared that she may have been captured.

    Thank goodness I wasn’t.

    She had no idea what she could do if she was taken by them—getting back to Team Aqua would be difficult, if she would be allowed back at all.

    Her blood boiled in her veins as she remembered his words. He had practically offered her a position on the team—her, who trained a Golduck, to work with Team Magma!

    Remembering how Team Magma had attacked her team and tried to set the volcano active again reminded why the world had to be changed. Standing up, she took one last look at Golduck.

    “Don’t worry, boy,” she whispered softly enough so the nurse wouldn’t hear. Golduck lay unmoving, eyes still closed as she added, “One day, we’ll make this right.”
    Last edited by starliteevee; 9th June 2014 at 1:25 AM.


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

  8. #8
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    Here for the review game. I'm just going to go through this whole thing in one shot, so each individual chapter will just have a couple points that I noticed as I was reading along, with the meat of the review coming at the end.

    Chapter One

    As soon as her ultramarine eyes met his vermilion ones, she smiled and greeted him.
    You seem to be reaching a bit when it comes to describing colors. While specific is usually better than general in writing, precise color vocabulary like this sticks out like a sore thumb amidst the rest of your prose. Furthermore, those color words really are specific, and I doubt they're actually the exact color you're trying to describe. Ultramarine isn't a natural eye color at all, for example. Unless the exact shade of blue or whatever really is noteworthy or unusual for some reason, I think you'd be better served with good old "red" and "blue" here. (And I mean really, sunlight is not "fluorescent orange.")

    In general you seem to be really concerned with the colors of things; they seem to be one of the things you focus on in your description. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but you should probably ask yourself where they're really important to set the scene and when they're not. There were a few instances where I thought your color descriptors were shoehorned in a bit awkwardly (as with marks' "black eyebrows" or Golduck's "lavender-colored energy ray.")

    Chapter Two

    "You okay?" Mark questioned.
    "Questioned" isn't a synonym for "asked." It means something closer to "interrogated."

    I think you really did have Shelly overexplain the mission. Why did you think it was important that we understand the details? The grunts' questions sound like things you were anticipating readers might wonder and were trying to head off, but honestly they only drew attention to flaws I would probably have glossed over if you simply said something like, "And then the pokemon used reflect to hold back the wave."

    No cars, sirens, howling beasts, policemen. . . the first five minutes of their operation had gone smoothly.
    It took me a couple reads to figure out that you meant police pokemon by "howling beasts." Seems like a rather over-the-top description of them, especially next to such mundane references as "sirens" (rather than, say, "shrieking wails" or something). For what it's worth, elipses (...) don't have spaces between them.

    Behind, the whir of a dark grey helicopter ceased as it alighted on the ground, unloading two more squadrons of people as well as a plethora of ghosts.
    That must be one hell of a helicopter, if it's got at least ten people plus a ton of ghosts in it. I bet it'd make more than a "whir."

    Soooo the police just attack without any warning ? They strike me as acting more like guerillas than an organized force. In our world, anyway, I'm pretty sure they have to announce themselves and give their targets an opportunity to surrender--they don't just rush into a situation with guns drawn. I was also confused when "more" cars rolled up. I didn't realize there were cars there in the first place--I thought people were coming out of the forest? And again, forest, so I'm not sure how the cars are getting there anyway.

    I'm not sure what the point of Nick getting all up in arms about Marshtomp not being able to use water in the air was if Marshtomp ends up just using stuff lying around on the ground anyway...?

    Motioning with her revolvers, Maressa had two of the officers step out of the way.
    Revolvers, plural? The police should easily be able to tell Maressa has no clue what she's doing if she's holding one in each hand.

    "Yeah. Anyway, we're supposed to do whatever we can to tie them"-- he gestured to the policemen, "up, and destroy their automobiles.
    If you want to use a dash here, you need one on each side. There's no space between a dash and surrounding letters or punctuation. Like so:
    "Yeah. Anyway, we're supposed to do whatever we can to tie them"--he gestured to the policemen--"up, and destroy their automobiles.
    His words sent a shard of guilt into Maressa's heart. Terrorize?
    If she doesn't know what he means by "terrorize," how can she feel guilty about it?

    Why is Shelly so dead-set on letting the whole wave go at once? If she can afford to just let it go slowly, a few pokemon at a time, it seems like that would be a much wiser move--stops her from coming into conflict with her subordinates, if nothing else. And killing cops just never ends well.

    In this chapter, I liked that you had Maressa confront what she was doing as a member of Team Aqua after getting called out by the police officer. However, I'd like to hear more about why Maressa actually is on the team. I get that she thinks Aqua's going to make the world a better place, but how? How does she see this mission playing into that?

    I mean, it's not like Maressa didn't know the police might try to stop them--Shelly even mentioned it during the briefing. So Maressa was already aware that whatever it is she thinks Aqua is up to, the police don't like it, for some reason. I'd like to have some sense of her mindset before she's actually confronted with the guy accusing her of terrorizing people--what's her rationalization for, hey, we're going to go out in force to do this thing the police don't like? Even at the end of the chapter, it's clear that Maressa's ripped up about what happened to the police officers, but you don't give any insight into how the event actually changed her perceptions of the team. What kinds of things did she think they were doing beforehand?

    Chapter Three

    Her pupils widened, resembling black islands in the midst of small sand dunes.
    This is a pretty overwrought piece of description to begin with, but also, I thought her eyes were blue? Sand dunes would make them golden. Unless you meant within the whites of her eyes, but dunes aren't that white.

    Her eyes flashed open, her sclera nearly invisible as her pupils widened in terror.
    Naaaah, people's eyes don't dilate that much. Maybe you meant iris instead of sclera? But again, this description is rather over the top. There's a whoooole lot of pupil action going on in this chapter, and it comes across a bit silly. People's pupils do get bigger or smaller in relation to their emotions, but not all that quickly and not as dramatically as it's going on here. You keep bringing up how Maressa's pupils are changing, and it's simply weird. They're just jumping open and shut all over the place--it's strange rather than dramatic.

    Here again Mark is very vague about what exactly it is they're fighting for. It comes across like you haven't quite thought that through; everybody's just going on about how they're going to "make the world a better place," but people who're engaged in that kind of work usually don't think in such abstract terms: "We're making the world a better place by doing X." Again, what exactly does Maressa think Team Aqua is about?

    Chapter Four

    We also don't see what Maressa thinks of Team Magma. She obviously is familiar with them and recognizes them as enemies, but why? As people familiar with the pokemon canon, your readers are going to know why they expect the two teams to be in conflict, and what each believes, but what about the people actually involved in this conflict? That's the main point of this story, yeah--to show how someone actually involved in the Magma/Aqua conflict thinks and what they believe they're fighting for?

    The Walrein bared their saber-sharp tusks and Crawdaunts clacked their pincers menacingly as a horde of snarling Mightyenas and screeching Golbats was sent out to meet them.
    The singular of a pokemon species is the same as the plural, hence one crawdaunt, many crawdaunt; one mightyena, many mightyena. Here you did it right for walrein but none of the others.

    Why are all the aqua grunts standing around while the pokemon fight, if Shelly's the only one giving orders? Aren't there other things they could be doing?

    You've set Shelly up as kind of cartoonishly evil thus far. Again, what good does it do her if she just lets a bunch of her team die or get horribly injured in a rock slide? Maybe Maressa isn't the one to try and save them because she has other things to worry about, but again, if all these grunts are just standing around doing nothing, surely it's to her benefit to at least try and have somebody help them--it's not like new recruits grow on trees, and I can imagine some serious morale problems arising from "yeah you kinda left all those guys to die back there." You also can't seem to decide how to spell her name.

    On a grammar-y note, you also sometimes have issues with dangling modifers. Here's a couple examples I noticed, although there are probably more that I just glossed over:

    Opening its pale yellow bill, throaty noises gargled from his mouth as he communicated with Maressa.
    "Opening its pale yellow bill" is a clause that can't stand on its own; it needs to have an object, something to stick to. Since we're talking about a yellow bill, you presumably want that to be Golduck--but instead this phrase is stuck onto "throaty noises." You could fix this with a simple reword to something like, "Opening its pale yellow bill, Golduck gargled a few throaty noises at Maressa." Note how what the clause refers to is the first noun to directly follow it; in the fixed sentence, this is "Golduck" like you want.

    Also, note that you went from calling Golduck and "it" to a "he" in the space of a single sentence. You can use either for pokemon, it's up to you, but you do need to pick one and then stick with it.

    Clutching three empty Pokéballs in her hand, her eyes darted back and forth as she watched the rows of trees...
    And here, you want the person clutching those empty pokeballs to be Maressa, but the way it's worded now it's actually her eyes doing that. Awkward.

    Here's a quick guide on identifying and fixing dangling modifiers to help you with that.

    Anyway, all that aside, the review part of the review...

    I think you have a great concept here. I'm a sucker for 'fics that center around the rank and file types of the various evil teams, just because I think it's fascinating to see the kinds of people who decide to join and stick with those kinds of organizations and how they get along in their day-to-day lives. You've done a good job of making Maressa seem like a very normal person rather than an eco-terrorist whackjob, and in general I think she's a great character: she has clear personal convictions and values that have already brought her into conflict with the people around her, which is great. You can get a lot out of the disconnect between what Maressa wants Team Aqua to be about and what it's actually about.

    However, as I was talking about up above, I still don't really know what exactly Maressa does see in Aqua. I don't know why she joined, and I don't know what's keeping her from just up and quitting the team after her doubts start to surface. What's her stake in all this? What does she want out of being a part of Aqua? Yeah, yeah, to "make the world a better place," but without some concrete idea of what exactly that means or how Maressa sees Aqua helping her do that, it's not worth a ton.

    The thing is, what your character wants is really what drives the plot forward, and at this point I don't really know what Maressa wants. She's kind of gotten dragged around for these first few chapters, doing the missions she's told to do, but I don't yet have a clear sense of how these . Stuff has certainly been happening in this story, which is excellent, but right now it doesn't really add up to anything--I'm not sure where you're going with this. It's still early on in the story, but we definitely don't want to wait too long for the plot to show up.

    Also, I have to admit I'm pretty disappointed that we haven't seen anything of Sarah since the first chapter. Right now that chapter honestly looks like a fake-out more than anything; it basically establishes Maressa's relationship with Sarah, buuuut then we never hear from Sarah again. She doesn't even get the passing mention at the end of the fourth chapter as being the person Maressa went to when she wanted to borrow something (that's "Shannon"). I get from the first chapter that it's not like they're close friends or anything, since they're discussing things I'd imagine close friends would already know about each other, but they at least seem to be friendly, and the focus of that chapter makes Sarah seem much more important to the story than she's turned out to be thus far.

    Since that first chapter we've mostly seen Maressa interact with Mark (in terms of human characters); nevertheless, we still know much less about him than we do about Sarah. A word of warning, if you aren't intending to make him out as a really questionable person, that's certainly the way his characterization appears to be leaning thus far; "well she's not answering the door, guess I'll just let myself in and wander around her room for a bit" and "obviously the best thing to do here is drown your sorrows with alcohol" lead me to see someone as being sketchy at the very best.

    All in all, I think your character scenes are stronger than your action scenes; you can get a bit over-the-top in terms of describing your characters' emotions and reactions to what other people are doing, but overall you have a good sense of motivation and how your characters relate to one another. In action scenes, you seem to have a bit of trouble describing the bigger picture--although you're always going to be focused on a small subset of the characters in any large battle situation, the way you portrayed the Aqua missions so far has made it seem as though those subsets you're examining are the only things happening--hence my impression that all the Aqua grunts were just standing around doing nothing (until attacked by golbat) at Mt. Chimney and how it seemed to me that Nick and Maressa were the only people in their squad doing anything during the first mission. It can be tricky to balance the focus on what's happening right in your viewpoint characters' faces and a sense of what's going on on the battlefield as a whole, that's for sure. Make sure you're taking some time to consider what all's going outside your characters' line of sight in battle scenes like this, and how it might influence their little slice of the battle.

    One final stylistic concern--at times it feels like you're reaching with your vocabulary, and so you end up with some words that feel out of place because you aren't quite using them properly, like where you say "His soft, curious eyes juxtaposed his elongated, slightly-muscular frame."--to juxtapose is to put things next to each other, usually to highlight the contrast between them. Eyes aren't capable of putting things next to other things, so you can't say that someone's eyes "juxtaposed" anything. Little things like that. There's nothing wrong with expanding your vocabulary and trying new things, but whenever you feel like you want to use a fancy word, you really have to be sure it's actually the one that makes the most sense for your particular situation.

    Overall, I think this story has potential. Maressa is a strong main character, and there's clearly a lot at stake for her in her current situation; you can easily get a compelling plotline out of that. As of now I just wish I had a better idea of what specifically she's got on the line, and what exactly her relationship with Team Aqua is.

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  9. #9
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    I'm going to start off and give a HUGE "thank you" for reviewing this. I admit, I only expected anyone to read one of the chapters and just give a short reaction to it; you certainly went beyond anything I have ever expected a reviewer to do and am so grateful for this. I know that what I've written has many flaws, and I really appreciate you bringing them to light and pointing them out to me so that I can learn from and hopefully get rid of them. I wish that there was something I could do for you in return, but all I can think of is reviewing your story, and I'm not sure that it would mean anything to you if it comes from someone like me. Please, if there is anything I can do, let me know

    Quote Originally Posted by Negrek View Post
    Here for the review game. I'm just going to go through this whole thing in one shot, so each individual chapter will just have a couple points that I noticed as I was reading along, with the meat of the review coming at the end.

    Chapter One


    You seem to be reaching a bit when it comes to describing colors. While specific is usually better than general in writing, precise color vocabulary like this sticks out like a sore thumb amidst the rest of your prose. Furthermore, those color words really are specific, and I doubt they're actually the exact color you're trying to describe. Ultramarine isn't a natural eye color at all, for example. Unless the exact shade of blue or whatever really is noteworthy or unusual for some reason, I think you'd be better served with good old "red" and "blue" here. (And I mean really, sunlight is not "fluorescent orange.")

    In general you seem to be really concerned with the colors of things; they seem to be one of the things you focus on in your description. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but you should probably ask yourself where they're really important to set the scene and when they're not. There were a few instances where I thought your color descriptors were shoehorned in a bit awkwardly (as with marks' "black eyebrows" or Golduck's "lavender-colored energy ray.")
    I'd never really noticed I did that (and I guess the part about specific colors is a bit of a problem I have since I'm slightly colorblind). I guess that I just kept on using the specific colors because I didn't want to keep saying "blue" over and over again when describing different things. Sorry about that; I'll try to take care of it and do better in the future.



    Chapter Two

    I think you really did have Shelly overexplain the mission. Why did you think it was important that we understand the details? The grunts' questions sound like things you were anticipating readers might wonder and were trying to head off, but honestly they only drew attention to flaws I would probably have glossed over if you simply said something like, "And then the pokemon used reflect to hold back the wave."
    This is something I was asking myself when I was writing; namely, if I should have been detailing the mission or if I should just gloss over it. I had the plan described full-out because if I didn't readers might think that it was out of laziness, and I ddin't want that to be the case. Honestly, this chapter is probably the one that I'm most dissatisfied with and was considering scrapping; I had thought it up before I considered putting it publicly for other people to see, and now I wish that I had just scrapped it.

    For what it's worth, elipses (...) don't have spaces between them.
    Huh, I'd actually never noticed that; but I'll be sure to write them correctly from now on.

    That must be one hell of a helicopter, if it's got at least ten people plus a ton of ghosts in it. I bet it'd make more than a "whir."
    I just couldn't think of another word >_< And I said helicopter since from the few anime episodes of Pokémon it showed a good deal of people fitting in the helicopter (though I know that it's anime and it's easier for them to get away with it, I thought it would be okay if I at least used that as a source).

    Soooo the police just attack without any warning ? They strike me as acting more like guerillas than an organized force. In our world, anyway, I'm pretty sure they have to announce themselves and give their targets an opportunity to surrender--they don't just rush into a situation with guns drawn. I was also confused when "more" cars rolled up. I didn't realize there were cars there in the first place--I thought people were coming out of the forest? And again, forest, so I'm not sure how the cars are getting there anyway.

    I'm not sure what the point of Nick getting all up in arms about Marshtomp not being able to use water in the air was if Marshtomp ends up just using stuff lying around on the ground anyway...?


    Revolvers, plural? The police should easily be able to tell Maressa has no clue what she's doing if she's holding one in each hand.

    If she doesn't know what he means by "terrorize," how can she feel guilty about it?

    Why is Shelly so dead-set on letting the whole wave go at once? If she can afford to just let it go slowly, a few pokemon at a time, it seems like that would be a much wiser move--stops her from coming into conflict with her subordinates, if nothing else. And killing cops just never ends well.

    In this chapter, I liked that you had Maressa confront what she was doing as a member of Team Aqua after getting called out by the police officer. However, I'd like to hear more about why Maressa actually is on the team. I get that she thinks Aqua's going to make the world a better place, but how? How does she see this mission playing into that?

    I mean, it's not like Maressa didn't know the police might try to stop them--Shelly even mentioned it during the briefing. So Maressa was already aware that whatever it is she thinks Aqua is up to, the police don't like it, for some reason. I'd like to have some sense of her mindset before she's actually confronted with the guy accusing her of terrorizing people--what's her rationalization for, hey, we're going to go out in force to do this thing the police don't like? Even at the end of the chapter, it's clear that Maressa's ripped up about what happened to the police officers, but you don't give any insight into how the event actually changed her perceptions of the team. What kinds of things did she think they were doing beforehand?
    I don't really know what to say to this, and it's because I know you're right. I suppose the main problem is that I hadn't really thought clearly about what Maressa wanted; I was just looking for the conflicts she was facing and her discovering that she doesn't like everything that Team Aqua is up to. It seems that it was poor planning and insight on my part. If anything, I think I'm going to get rid of this chapter. Like I said before, this is the chapter I'm most dissatisfied with, and I had a hard time writing it since I couldn't get it to make sense but I couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. So I put it here hoping that someone could tell me what was wrong and what I could do better. You have done so, and I cannot thank you enough for that


    Chapter Three


    This is a pretty overwrought piece of description to begin with, but also, I thought her eyes were blue? Sand dunes would make them golden. Unless you meant within the whites of her eyes, but dunes aren't that white.
    No, Maressa has brown/amber eyes and Sarah has the blue ones. Unless I got them confused...? I'll go back and check, but they're supposed to be brown.

    Naaaah, people's eyes don't dilate that much. Maybe you meant iris instead of sclera? But again, this description is rather over the top. There's a whoooole lot of pupil action going on in this chapter, and it comes across a bit silly. People's pupils do get bigger or smaller in relation to their emotions, but not all that quickly and not as dramatically as it's going on here. You keep bringing up how Maressa's pupils are changing, and it's simply weird. They're just jumping open and shut all over the place--it's strange rather than dramatic.
    Sorry; I was trying to find something to describe, though I see now that sometimes, less is more and I could do just as well with cutting out a large hunk of description.

    Here again Mark is very vague about what exactly it is they're fighting for. It comes across like you haven't quite thought that through; everybody's just going on about how they're going to "make the world a better place," but people who're engaged in that kind of work usually don't think in such abstract terms: "We're making the world a better place by doing X." Again, what exactly does Maressa think Team Aqua is about?
    At time of writing (and posting), I hadn't thought clearly enough about what Maressa wants, so I was using vague wording.... I'm going to redo this chapter, if I end up keepign it at all. I meant for it to be a little tidbit at the end of chapter 2, but since I think I'll get rid of that, then I may just get rid of this as well.

    And if I do keep this, I'll try to make Mark not come off as so much of a creeper this time.

    Chapter Four

    We also don't see what Maressa thinks of Team Magma. She obviously is familiar with them and recognizes them as enemies, but why? As people familiar with the pokemon canon, your readers are going to know why they expect the two teams to be in conflict, and what each believes, but what about the people actually involved in this conflict? That's the main point of this story, yeah--to show how someone actually involved in the Magma/Aqua conflict thinks and what they believe they're fighting for?
    I hadn't really thought it was necessary to put her feelings about Team Magma in this chapter, since she seemed mainly distracted with the battle/mission; I'll be sure to put them in during revision, though.

    Why are all the aqua grunts standing around while the pokemon fight, if Shelly's the only one giving orders? Aren't there other things they could be doing?
    I'm going off what happened in the anime again here; in the episode on Mt. Chimney, the others just stood by Shelly while she had the Pokémon fight, I guess to recall their Pokémon if need be ._.

    You've set Shelly up as kind of cartoonishly evil thus far. Again, what good does it do her if she just lets a bunch of her team die or get horribly injured in a rock slide? Maybe Maressa isn't the one to try and save them because she has other things to worry about, but again, if all these grunts are just standing around doing nothing, surely it's to her benefit to at least try and have somebody help them--it's not like new recruits grow on trees, and I can imagine some serious morale problems arising from "yeah you kinda left all those guys to die back there." You also can't seem to decide how to spell her name.
    I can't believe I missed spelling her name differently; it was one thing that I kept going back to check on in chapter 2; I'm sorry about that. I had planned Shelly to be more explicitly "evil" or at least morally deprived than Maressa or other Team Members, but yeah it is stupid to have no other issues arrive from that.


    Anyway, all that aside, the review part of the review...

    I think you have a great concept here. I'm a sucker for 'fics that center around the rank and file types of the various evil teams, just because I think it's fascinating to see the kinds of people who decide to join and stick with those kinds of organizations and how they get along in their day-to-day lives. You've done a good job of making Maressa seem like a very normal person rather than an eco-terrorist whackjob, and in general I think she's a great character: she has clear personal convictions and values that have already brought her into conflict with the people around her, which is great. You can get a lot out of the disconnect between what Maressa wants Team Aqua to be about and what it's actually about.

    However, as I was talking about up above, I still don't really know what exactly Maressa does see in Aqua. I don't know why she joined, and I don't know what's keeping her from just up and quitting the team after her doubts start to surface. What's her stake in all this? What does she want out of being a part of Aqua? Yeah, yeah, to "make the world a better place," but without some concrete idea of what exactly that means or how Maressa sees Aqua helping her do that, it's not worth a ton.
    At time of writing, I hadn't thought about Maressa wants; I had just come up with this idea and was thinking on it for a while and had the story planned out, but I never really had the motivation for joining Team Aqua in the first place there. I'm still coming up with a lot of this as I go, and while now I can say that I know why Maressa joined Team Aqua and it fits with her actions she's displayed thus far, it was my own fault for not making that clear in the story because I hadn't known it to be necessary. This, I suppose, is what I was mainly looking for to be answered :what is necessary to show in my fic and what isn't; what I can gloss over and what I should add in. I can't thank you enough for telling me that; now that I know what I do and don't need, I can hopefully fix this and get this darn fic to finally make some sense.

    The thing is, what your character wants is really what drives the plot forward, and at this point I don't really know what Maressa wants. She's kind of gotten dragged around for these first few chapters, doing the missions she's told to do, but I don't yet have a clear sense of how these . Stuff has certainly been happening in this story, which is excellent, but right now it doesn't really add up to anything--I'm not sure where you're going with this. It's still early on in the story, but we definitely don't want to wait too long for the plot to show up.

    Also, I have to admit I'm pretty disappointed that we haven't seen anything of Sarah since the first chapter. Right now that chapter honestly looks like a fake-out more than anything; it basically establishes Maressa's relationship with Sarah, buuuut then we never hear from Sarah again. She doesn't even get the passing mention at the end of the fourth chapter as being the person Maressa went to when she wanted to borrow something (that's "Shannon"). I get from the first chapter that it's not like they're close friends or anything, since they're discussing things I'd imagine close friends would already know about each other, but they at least seem to be friendly, and the focus of that chapter makes Sarah seem much more important to the story than she's turned out to be thus far.
    Sarah and the plot do show up in the next chapter, but I admit that I wasn't planning for Sarah to have a big role in this. I had her in the first chapter as part of the main focus to show that Team Aqua grunts are normal people, and they'll make friends with and get along with their teammates and have people that they'll care about.

    And the first few chapters having them go on missions withotu the main plot was because I wanted to give a sense that Maressa is helping to build up Team Aqua; that she really is a part of the team and helping to make it stronger so that it sets up irony for later. If it's taking too long, though, I can remove chapters 2 and 3 and possibly 4 and have the main plot start in the 2nd chapter.

    Since that first chapter we've mostly seen Maressa interact with Mark (in terms of human characters); nevertheless, we still know much less about him than we do about Sarah. A word of warning, if you aren't intending to make him out as a really questionable person, that's certainly the way his characterization appears to be leaning thus far; "well she's not answering the door, guess I'll just let myself in and wander around her room for a bit" and "obviously the best thing to do here is drown your sorrows with alcohol" lead me to see someone as being sketchy at the very best.
    ...Yeah, I'm going to have to fix that. Oddly enough, I did intend to have him as a creep when I frst wrote but just never went back and changed it even though I plan on including him again and should make sure that his later actions can correspond with his earlier personality.

    All in all, I think your character scenes are stronger than your action scenes; you can get a bit over-the-top in terms of describing your characters' emotions and reactions to what other people are doing, but overall you have a good sense of motivation and how your characters relate to one another. In action scenes, you seem to have a bit of trouble describing the bigger picture--although you're always going to be focused on a small subset of the characters in any large battle situation, the way you portrayed the Aqua missions so far has made it seem as though those subsets you're examining are the only things happening--hence my impression that all the Aqua grunts were just standing around doing nothing (until attacked by golbat) at Mt. Chimney and how it seemed to me that Nick and Maressa were the only people in their squad doing anything during the first mission. It can be tricky to balance the focus on what's happening right in your viewpoint characters' faces and a sense of what's going on on the battlefield as a whole, that's for sure. Make sure you're taking some time to consider what all's going outside your characters' line of sight in battle scenes like this, and how it might influence their little slice of the battle.
    This is the stuff I was hoping most to get out of reviewing; thank you so much! Heh, I always thought that I would be better at writing action scenes than character scenes (since, as I said, I can go over- the-top with those), but I'm happy to hear that my characters seem believable enough. Though, no that I look back, I can see that I really do focus on a tiny little part and that the whole picture isn't being described well enough. I'll do my best to work out a fine balance in the battles and adjust my viewpoint.

    One final stylistic concern--at times it feels like you're reaching with your vocabulary, and so you end up with some words that feel out of place because you aren't quite using them properly, like where you say "His soft, curious eyes juxtaposed his elongated, slightly-muscular frame."--to juxtapose is to put things next to each other, usually to highlight the contrast between them. Eyes aren't capable of putting things next to other things, so you can't say that someone's eyes "juxtaposed" anything. Little things like that. There's nothing wrong with expanding your vocabulary and trying new things, but whenever you feel like you want to use a fancy word, you really have to be sure it's actually the one that makes the most sense for your particular situation.
    Hm, I thought I had read "juxtaposed" being used like that; I suppose not. And maybe I've been reading too much Eragon especially since the writing there is crappy.

    Overall, I think this story has potential. Maressa is a strong main character, and there's clearly a lot at stake for her in her current situation; you can easily get a compelling plotline out of that. As of now I just wish I had a better idea of what specifically she's got on the line, and what exactly her relationship with Team Aqua is.
    Welll, now that I know what this story needs, I can add it in and hopefully get somewhere with it. Thank you so so so so soso so so so so much for doing this; it was just what I was hoping to get. I was a little disheartened when I first saw everything you wrote (and am a little embarassed about everything as well XD), but I feel like I can at least use this info to hopefully just modify this fic and not give up on it. I feel like you have consistently helped me more than anyone else here except maybe Breezy, but she's gone ._.); from reviewing my fic for the Johto contest, to Interpretations contest, and now this. Thank you so much; I promise I will do my best to revise and correct and improve on everything you have said!


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

  10. #10
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    I wish that there was something I could do for you in return, but all I can think of is reviewing your story, and I'm not sure that it would mean anything to you if it comes from someone like me.
    Ha, well, I certainly wouldn't say no to a review. You don't need to worry about doing anything for me in return, though; I don't review because I'm expecting people to feel obligated to shoot me one back or anything. And I'm getting compensated for this through the review game anyway.

    You really shouldn't worry that people won't be interested in your reviews because you think you're not an amazing writer or whatever, though. It's true that there are some people who get ticked off if you don't write them a beautiful little five-paragraph essay about their 'fic for a review, but they're both a) few and far between (thankfully) and b) dicks who aren't worth your time anyway. Most writers are happy just to hear taht someone is reading the story and to get some idea of what their reaction was, good or bad; even if you can't go into great detail about what you thought was great or warrants improvement, a general impression is far better than nothing. That goes double on forums like these, since there aren't any likes/kudos/follows etc. that let you know people are interested in the story--just comments. It's really nice to know that the hits on your story are from people reading it and not just search spiders or people who read two sentences before backbuttoning out. Reviewing isn't just a service to other writers, either--it benefits you, too, because it forces you to sit down and think about what you think does or doesn't make a story work, what you like and don't like about different styles or plotlines, which you can then use to strengthen your own stories.

    Your opinion isn't less valuable than anyone else's because you aren't as experienced(?) or write less detailed reviews(?) or whatever--I'm not exactly sure why you think it wouldn't be welcome! I'm sure most people would be more than happy to have you comment on their work.

    I guess that I just kept on using the specific colors because I didn't want to keep saying "blue" over and over again when describing different things.
    Definitely true, but one thing to ask yourself is whether you really need to keep saying "blue"--or any other variant, like "sapphire"--over and over again? The idea when you're describing something is to try and capture its essence, to pick just a handful of details that will give your reader the clearest picture of what's important about a person, place, whatever. Is the color of someone's eyes really that important to who they are? They might be. But you only have so many words to spend on establishing a character; is it worth spending some of those words on eye color when it means you won't have enough left, say, for the weird way they illustrate their sentences with their hands, or the way they laugh?

    With the colors, really specific adjectives are part of the problem, but I think you might want to consider how important it is to slide the color of so many things into your prose in the first place.

    And I said helicopter since from the few anime episodes of Pokémon it showed a good deal of people fitting in the helicopter (though I know that it's anime and it's easier for them to get away with it, I thought it would be okay if I at least used that as a source).
    Oh, you definitely have some helicopters where you can fit many people; it's just that the sucker's aren't quiet. ("Whir" is a quiet word.)

    No, Maressa has brown/amber eyes and Sarah has the blue ones.
    That's my bad. I was thinking of this sentence in the first chapter:

    As soon as her ultramarine eyes met his vermilion ones, she smiled and greeted him.
    I thought that was Maressa looking at Golduck, but looking back that's clearly not the case. (Sand dunes aren't usually very brown either, though, I'm afraid.)

    I'm going off what happened in the anime again here; in the episode on Mt. Chimney, the others just stood by Shelly while she had the Pokémon fight, I guess to recall their Pokémon if need be ._.
    Ah, hmm. I've never seen those episodes of the anime, so unfortunately I don't really know what's up with that. It just struck me as odd.

    Sarah and the plot do show up in the next chapter, but I admit that I wasn't planning for Sarah to have a big role in this. I had her in the first chapter as part of the main focus to show that Team Aqua grunts are normal people, and they'll make friends with and get along with their teammates and have people that they'll care about.
    That's fine, and I understand that you just intended for this to be a one-shot in the first place, so it's not like you could have anticipated where the story would go. As it is, though, I think we'll get plenty of idea that Aqua members are real people and friends with their teammates etc. just through the normal progression of the story--you probably don't need to dedicate a whole chapter specifically. It just looks a bit strange to have the first chapter focus pretty much exclusively on Sarah and then have her disappear afterwards, that's all.

    And the first few chapters having them go on missions withotu the main plot was because I wanted to give a sense that Maressa is helping to build up Team Aqua; that she really is a part of the team and helping to make it stronger so that it sets up irony for later. If it's taking too long, though, I can remove chapters 2 and 3 and possibly 4 and have the main plot start in the 2nd chapter.
    That's fine; you probably do want to show a bit of her contributing to Team Aqua and being happy there before, presumably, something changes--to set up a contrast to what happens later, as you say. It would help to have a clearer idea of where the story is going, but so long as you do know what you intend to do with it, it's not unreasonable to have a couple chapters establishing that sort of thing.

    I was a little disheartened when I first saw everything you wrote (and am a little embarassed about everything as well XD), but I feel like I can at least use this info to hopefully just modify this fic and not give up on it. I feel like you have consistently helped me more than anyone else here except maybe Breezy, but she's gone ._.); from reviewing my fic for the Johto contest, to Interpretations contest, and now this. Thank you so much; I promise I will do my best to revise and correct and improve on everything you have said!
    No need to feel discouraged. I think there's plenty to like here, and the best thing you can do is keep going, since it's bound to get better as you progress. And oh man, the Johto contest, I didn't even remember you were a part of that, haha. Been a few years. You've improved a ton since then, and I'm sure you'll continue to do so if you keep writing. Glad you found the review helpful, and best of luck with your story.

    Banner by Sworn Metalhead of Dćdric Design



  11. #11
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    Well, this has taken so long, mostly due to re-writing a bunch of chapters and re-structuring characters and trying to align the story so it makes sense. Was it worth it? I have no idea yet, but here's chapter five!

    Chapter 5

    The sun mercilessly cast its rays over the treetops, heating the air to a scorching degree. Fanning herself with her royal-blue bandanna, Sarah panted as beads of sweat rolled down her face.

    "It's so hot..." she moaned.

    Maressa's eyes fluttered open as she muttered, "Well, this is Hoenn..." Keeping her back against the rock face, she rose up from her sitting position and surveyed the scene before them. Despite the sweltering heat, the area remained pleasant to look at. Below them, stretching on for a few hundred meters, the treetop canopy shadowed the ground. Beyond the green swath of plant life, the sea stretched, glistening in the sunlight like gemstones scattered across the water. The ledge they stood on was covered with grass and soft soil, only interrupted by the door in its side.

    Smiling, Maressa mused, "It's places like these that I don't mind being on watch so much."

    Sarah looked at her friend in concern. "Do you think you'll be going on another mission like at Slateport?"

    Casting her eyes downward, Maressa replied, "I don't know.... In a way, I would like to go again, but in another way, I'd rather not." Absentmindedly kicking a rock, she added, “The mission didn’t work out anyway. Apparently, they didn’t find whatever they were looking for.”

    Gazing at her friend with sympathy, Sarah asked, "Was what happened really that bad?" Maressa shrugged. "And you still won't tell me about it?"

    "Not yet."

    "Well, if you need someone to talk to, I'm willing to listen."

    Maressa turned to see Sarah smiling gently at her, and gratitude swelled in her heart. “Thanks, Sarah. I just..." She turned back to the scene before her, though she did not really see what she was facing. "I just don't know if I'm supposed to tell. If I do, I could get into trouble for it. And if someone had told me about this before I went and found out for myself..." She paused and shook her head. "I don't know. I'm just trying not to think on it too much."

    Sarah nodded, and was about to continue when a stout girl with tan skin and deep, coffee-brown eyes walked out. She smoothed back her fishtailed braid as she smiled and waved a hello.

    Immediately, Sarah's eyes lit up and she hugged her, squealing, "Cloe!" Releasing her, she asked, "How've you been? It's been a while since I've seen you!"

    "I know, right?" She was cut off as two arms wrapped around her from behind. Twisting her body, she returned the hug when she caught sight of her friend. "Hey Maressa! I haven't seen you in forever either!"

    Maressa let go of her short friend, saying, "I know, I've missed you so much!" When she had first joined Team Aqua, she, Cloe and Sarah had all been in the same squadron and had gotten along immediately. Though Cloe was soon moved to a different group, Sarah and Maressa had grown closer to her than most other members on the team.

    Still grinning, she asked, "What are you doing here?"

    "My squadron was assigned to this position to keep watch."

    Sarah turned to Cloe, no longer smiling. "Why would they need two groups here? It's a pretty small outpost."

    Cloe paused before saying, "They're re-grouping some of the members. There's a mission planned, and some of the people in our squads are switching positions."

    "Huh." Maressa suddenly asked, "So how have things been going with you? Do you have any news to tell us?"

    Cloe turned slightly more serious as she said, "Actually, I've come to relieve you of watch."

    The grin on Maressa's face faded. "Relieve me of watch?"

    The tanner girl nodded. "Commander Shelly wants to speak with you. I'm supposed to cover for you while you're down there." She gestured to the doorway set into the side of the ledge.

    Deflated, Maressa walked away from her friends. "It was nice catching up with you."

    Cloe apologized with a pained look on her face. “I know, I'm sorry I didn't have time to talk to you. We'll get together later, okay?"

    Maressa nodded as she turned away from her friends and passed through the doorway and into the gloomy interior. Her heart lightened somewhat at the prospect of speaking with her old friend again, but she grew more concerned with the task set before her. What did the commander want? Was she in trouble? Or was she being called to head out on another mission? She didn’t feel quite ready to go out again. Part of the reason she had joined Team Aqua was the opportunity to work with her Pokémon so much; though she certainly got to do that, she didn’t want any of them to get hurt again.

    As Maressa descended into the bowels of the base, she thought more of the possibilities her superior could have for calling her. She hardly made any attempts to conceal the fact that she didn’t like Shelly; she had already vented to Sarah about how frustrating she was to work with.

    Maressa liked Team Aqua—she had already made enough friends, and their goal of defending water Pokémon and preserving their habitats from harmful human actions seemed righteous enough—but she did feel a little in the dark when it came to their missions. Though some of them were to make more homes for water Pokémon, such as at Mt. Chimney, the purpose behind other missions were not so readily apparent. She had heard Mark talking about an agent in Rustboro trying to retrieve some amber, though neither she nor Mark had any idea what it could be used for.

    She suspected that there was something bigger at stake, something larger that they were working towards, that every mission they went on was just a little piece in something that would add up to something larger.

    Something, something, something...

    But what?

    ++++++++++

    Sunlight filtered through the surface of the water, sparkling on the wave tops as Maressa and the others descended to the bottom. The submarine floated at the surface, minuscule in comparison to the infinite open ocean around them. The large columns of rock reached out from the seafloor like fingers of the earth. As though reaching upward in an attempt to escape the cold seawater and feel the warm sun, they formed avenues in the great sea. The sides of the pinnacles were lush with multitudes of coral and sedentary organisms arrayed in a rainbow of colors. Numerous Pokémon were nosing their way about in search of food, or else floating by idly as the current carried them wherever it willed.

    Bubbles floated upwards as Maressa breathed out through her regulator. Clenching Seaking's tail with one hand, she gazed at the scenery around them, feeling perfectly at peace. Though she was to be searching the rock faces for the cavern opening Shelly had described, she could not help but be mystified at the beauty of the tropical ocean. Her fingers relaxed as she let go of Seaking's tail and began the descent by herself, allowing her aquatic companion to scout ahead of her. She continued to stare in awe at the passing Pokémon and stationary plant life and remained still as her body began to steadily sink downwards to the ocean bottom.

    The light grew dimmer as the rocky bottom grew steadily closer. Maressa switched her gaze from the aquatic life to her companions nearby her. Some of the other divers were within a few meters, each wearing the same grey-blue wet-suit as she was. Each took care not to let himself touch the rocky bottom of the sea, for fear of harming any fragile organisms he came in contact with. Floating a few meters above the stony sea floor, they cast their eyes about, searching for a cavern opening.

    Maressa looked upward as she saw a flash of orange and white streak towards her. She put up her hands as Seaking came to her in a panic; excited, she wordlessly asked if he had found the object of their search. As she stared at him questioningly, she began to understand that it was not as she had hoped; he was fluttering about nervously, darting his eyes back and forth before explaining to her what he had discovered.

    Maressa felt her heart drop as Seaking related the appearance of a submarine, much larger than theirs, coming steadily towards them. She motioned for her friend to continue his explanation, but all he could say was that the submarine was a deep shade of red; no divers or Pokémon had been seen floating about near it. Patting her companion gratefully, Maressa pointed to each of her teammates, still floating near the bottom, and then pointed upward. The Pokémon closed his large, benevolent brown eyes and nodded before swiftly moving to each of the team members, nuzzling them or prodding them gently with his horn before gesturing to the surface.

    Ascending slowly, Maressa's heart beat so hard and fast she felt as though it were about to break out of her chest. Spotting the small submarine, she crept towards it, continuously looking about in search of the submarine Seaking had described.

    She grasped the line extending from the submarine and hauled herself inward, taking the regulator out of her mouth and removing her mask once she stood atop the small grey vessel. Staring ahead, she caught sight of a massive, burgundy submarine, coming slowly but surely towards them.

    Hearing her footsteps as she clambered aboard, Mickey, who had stayed on the submarine to man it while the rest were underwater, came up through the hatch from the submarine's innards. He watched Maressa push her untied hair out of her eyes and stare ahead. "You guys noticed too?"

    Nodding, she continued to stare ahead as her teammates clambered on board the little vessel.

    Turning to Mickey, Maressa asked, “Do you want to try to fight them?”

    Mickey considered the question for a moment then told everyone to get into the submarine in an attempt for them to escape. Turning to Maressa, he said quietly, "I'd rather not try to fight them; if they're sailing on a huge thing like that," he pointed to the burgundy vessel creeping towards them, "then they've definitely got us outnumbered. I'm going to try to see if we can escape them."

    "Do you think they might not have noticed us?"

    He shook his head. “They’d be blind not to see us on their radar. Still, I’d rather try to escape if we can.” Seeing Maressa still standing there, he grabbed her shoulders and exclaimed "GO!" before shoving her down the hatch. As soon as Maressa had gotten through, Mickey attempted to follow, lowering his lanky form through the thin hatchway. He had just gotten his legs through when Maressa saw a burst of light, and heard a splash as Mickey was blasted off the top of the submarine and into the water.

    Maressa scrambled back up the hatch and stood on top of the submarine once again. The red submarine was but a hundred meters away, and Maressa saw numerous men and women standing on the top of it, accompanied by a short creature whose head was topped by a green, dome-like mushroom. Maressa clenched her fists in fury as she glared at them. Her anger somewhat subsided as she reached down to help pull Mickey out of the water. Though he was conscious, his shirt was torn where he had been hit, and his face was taught with pain as he held a hand against his side, which was bright red from the impact.

    "Maressa," he commanded, glaring at their adversaries, "tell everyone to get out here now. We're going to try to fight them." Maressa obeyed, and soon the top of their submarine was crowded with the nine members. As Maressa's blue-garbed teammates sent out their Pokémon, she noticed that their opponents did likewise, filling the air with blue-skinned Golbat as well as black-and-white-feathered Swellow.

    As she heard her name called again, Maressa turned to Mickey. The fury in his face, though still prominent, had somewhat lessened, and his voice was soft as he informed, "I'm going to give you authority over this battle. Do you think you can do it?"

    Maressa hesitated after opening her mouth to speak. Though she had expected it to, anxiety did not attack her as it had before. She looked up at the red submarine, and felt fury and confidence overcome any indecisiveness. Curling her fingers into fists, she turned back to Mickey and replied, "I think so."

    His green eyes gazed into Maressa's encouragingly before he patted her on the back and said, "Good. You got this."

    Maressa nodded and strode toward the water's edge, mentally enumerating the Pokémon she had to command: four Wailmer, a Gorebyss, two Tentacool, a Tentacruel, three Luvdisc, and her own Seaking. She took in the large number of bat-and-bird-like Pokémon their opponents had sent out, making special note of the single Breloom that stood with them. Nodding, Maressa called out, "Water gun!"

    Twelve jets of water shot forth from the mouths of the Pokémon. As the flock of flying Pokémon flapped about hectically to avoid being hit, Maressa heard a voice call, "Air cutter and aerial ace!"

    Taking no time to watch, Maressa shouted "Down! Beneath the water!" Her Seaking and a few others immediately submerged, but a number of the marine Pokémon turned to stare at her in confusion. As soon as their eyes laid on her, however, they were either blown by the razors of wind or slammed by the Swellow in a flurry of feathers. Maressa's cheeks flushed in anger as she shouted, "You have to listen to me! Just do what I say, and don't question it!" At seeing their Pokémon's confusion, some of the team members stepped forward, commanding their companions to obey Maressa's orders.

    Maressa heard a harsh laugh. Looking forward, she saw the men and women on the burgundy submarine expelling bouts of laughter. Clenching her fists in fury, Maressa turned to the Pokémon in the water. "You three"-- she pointed to the two Tentacool and lone Tentacruel-- "stay up here, back by me. The rest of you are to go underwater, and come up in fifteen seconds. When you come up, use bubblebeam, hydro pump, water gun," she waved her hand in the air, "whatever you've got on them." She punctuated the last word with a point to their airborne enemies swirling in the sky.

    As the nine other Pokémon ducked beneath the waves, she pointed to the flying creatures and shouted, "Acid!" The three jellyfish-like Pokémon shot high-pressured streams of hide-melting toxins into the air. The Swellow and Golbat flapped around chaotically as they evaded the noxious liquid. As Tentacool and Tentacruel ceased their efforts, Maressa saw the airborne creatures dive towards them, extending saber-sharp teeth and claws. "Stay here," she commanded the three poisonous Pokémon. As soon as their enemies were almost upon them, Maressa ordered, "Constrict!" Each aquatic Pokémon lashed out with their tentacles, taking hold of a number of Flying-types. The unfortunate Swellow and Golbat who were caught by their adversaries were taken beneath the water as the Tentacool and Tentacruel dove under the waves; the rest flew upward haphazardly, yet had only just begun to try and attain order when they were struck with jets of water. Satisfaction danced in Maressa's heart as she watched the winged Pokémon fall to the waves as they were shot down.

    "Solar beam!"

    A beam of fluorescent-green light shot the aquatic Pokémon as they cried out. Maressa whipped her head around and saw the Breloom standing erect next to one of the red-hooded men. Grinding her teeth in fury, she turned her head back to the Pokémon in the sea. Many of the Swellow and Golbat were recalled after they fruitlessly attempted to fly out of the water into which they had been entrapped; those who were captured by the Tentacruel and Tentacool were weakly flapping their wings as they gasped for air. Despite being hit with the Solar Beam, most of the water Pokémon were willing to continue their fighting. Only the three Luvdisc had to be recalled after taking full force of the blast.

    Beckoning Seaking over, she bent down as she spoke to him, "Seaking, when I tell all of the Pokémon to go underneath, I want you to stay above water. You're going to use supersonic, okay?" After Seaking nodded in confirmation, Maressa turned to her teammates. "When I tell the Pokémon to all go underwater, I need everyone to cover their ears. Seaking is going to use supersonic. Understand?" As her team members nodded in confirmation, Maressa turned back to the aquatic Pokémon. They stared at her expectantly, awaiting orders. Temporarily distracted by hearing another voice, Maressa turned back to the red submarine, where one man was giving orders to the Pokémon. The duo of white stripes that gripped each pant leg set him apart from the others as their superior.

    Hoping to take advantage of their inattentiveness, Maressa ordered, "Everyone, down!" Nine heads bent beneath the waves while each team member covered their ears with their hands. Maressa did likewise, watching her Seaking rise as high as he could out of the air and emit sound waves. In less than a second, the well-trained and coordinated flock of airborne Pokémon lost all order as they flew around in chaos. The Breloom shook its head and danced about frantically as its masters gripped their heads in anguish. Many of the red-clad team members recalled their Pokémon as they knocked into each other and fell to the waves below. Feeling a sick sense of satisfaction, Maressa allowed herself a small sadistic smile as she saw her foes struggle against Seaking's supersonic.

    Absorbed in the general disorder of the scene, she failed to notice Breloom stop hopping and free itself from the mental onslaught. With ears covered, she did not hear the Breloom's master call, "Solar beam!" She only looked up just in time to see the bright beam before it slammed into her midriff and sent her flying into the air. Landing with a heavy splash, she frantically grabbed her regulator and stuffed it into her mouth. She opened her eyes, and was trying to make her way above water when she saw a blurry mass of orange and white approach her. Reaching out an arm, she held on to Seaking as he swam her to the surface.

    As her head broke free of the water, she removed the regulator from her mouth and glared up at the large red submarine. The Breloom stood there smugly, its arms folded across its chest just like its human’s. Grimacing in pain, she gently asked Seaking to take her back to her team’s submarine. He complied, and the two headed back towards the small grey-blue vessel when she heard one of her teammates shout.

    “Look out!” Mickey was pointing into the air. Maressa jerked her head around in time to see a large seed erupt from the mouth of the Breloom and fly towards them. Vines, meters long, burst from the seed and wrapped her and Seaking in a choking embrace. Seaking cried out in pain as the thorny plants gripped and ripped his orange and alabaster scales.

    Maressa felt the thorns sucking her energy as they tore through her wetsuit and pricked her flesh. Hanging onto Seaking, she patted his head and tried to calm him down while she reached for her Pokéball. Her efforts proved fruitless; Seaking only continued to flail, thrashing about so violently that his Pokéball slipped from Maressa’s hands and fell into the water.

    Maressa made a desperate lunge for the ball when a searing pain lanced up her left thigh. Looking down, she felt a sickening sensation in her stomach as she saw Seaking's horn penetrating her wet suit and boring at a sharp angle into her leg. The ivory horn dug in deeper as Seaking continued to buck, and Maressa's scream was only muffled by the water flooding her mouth. As terror clouded her mind, she beat Seaking with her fists and lashed out with her legs in an attempt to remove the horn from her thigh. Giving a cry as her heel dug into his eye, Seaking wiggled his horn loose.

    Maressa had no time to worry about her leg as she was temporarily blinded by a blinding light. The beam slammed into her and ripped her out of the parasitic plant’s grasp. Seawater washed over Maressa's unmasked eyes, and bubbles tickled her neck. Reaching behind her, Maressa ran her hands over the air tank and felt a knife of terror stab her heart as her fingers slipped through a hole in the metal. Frantically, she attempted to remove the heavy tank from her body, but in her distress her fingers only fumbled about uselessly as the metal dragged her further down into the depths of the sea.

    Panic absorbed Maressa’s entire being as the light above her grew dimmer and her lungs began to feel as though they would burst. As black spots began to burst across her vision, she opened her mouth in an attempt to take in oxygen, but only water filled her facial cavity. Her body wracked with pain in every nerve, her fingers gradually stopped moving while the ocean stretched out its arms and welcomed her.

    ++++++
    Seawater gushed out of Maressa's mouth while the palm of someone's hand crushed her sternum. Batting away the stranger's hands, she attempted to sit upright as she continued to expel water from her insides. She soon gave up on that attempt as fresh waves of pain rippled outward from her upper thigh; clenching her eyes and her teeth, Maressa lay back down on the cold metal as she struggled against the agonizing sensation.

    Shortly, Maressa became aware of someone—whose voice it was, she could not distinguish--shouting an order to another. A moan of pain escaped her mouth as one hand slid under her legs, another around her shoulders, and lifted her into the air. Keeping her eyes closed, she bit her lip to silence herself as each step her carrier took sent a new shock of discomfort through her body. As she felt her consciousness fading once more, she allowed her mind to drift away into the peace of oblivion, only dimly aware of being laid down and of the pressure applied to the gash in her leg.
    Last edited by starliteevee; 19th September 2014 at 6:03 AM.


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

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by starliteevee View Post
    Well, this has taken so long, mostly due to re-writing a bunch of chapters and re-structuring characters and trying to align the story so it makes sense. Was it worth it? I have no idea yet, but here's chapter five!

    Chapter 5
    Hi, there! I'm here from the Review Game thread. I just binged your entire fic, and so far I'm really enjoying it. As JX Valentine pointed out, it's not every day you get a story about a grunt. Anyway, I'm not an avid reviewer, so I'm just gonna read and make notes as I go along.

    The sun mercilessly cast its rays over the treetops, heating the air to a scorching degree. Fanning herself with her royal-blue bandanna, Sarah panted as beads of sweat rolled down her face.
    Well, that was fast. Right away, I was distracted by the way you ended your first sentence with "to a scorching degree." You forget to provide a number here. For example, you can say "to a scorching degree of 105" if you're into Fahrenheit. Also, it's nice to see Sarah again. I see Negrek convinced you to bring her back, which I'm happy about since I missed her, too.

    Smiling, Maressa mused, "It's places like this that I don't mind being on watch so much."
    This is some weird wording here. I think you meant to say "It's places like this that make me not mind..."

    Gazing at her friend with sympathy, Sarah asked, "Was what happened really that bad?" Maressa shrugged. "And you still won't tell me about it?" At her friend’s reply of “not yet,” she nodded. "Well, if you need someone to talk to, I'm willing to listen."
    In my opinion, this exchange would look better if you split it up into multiple lines, like this:

    Gazing at her friend with sympathy, Sarah asked, "Was what happened really that bad?"

    Maressa shrugged.

    "And you still won't tell me about it?"

    "Not yet."

    "Well, if you need someone to talk to, I'm willing to listen."
    It feels more like a conversation when you split up people's dialogue and reactions. More specifically, I've noticed in the previous chapters that I just binged that sometimes instead of making a character actually say something, you'll have another character reply to that dialogue, which is basically cutting corners. I'm not sure if you do this because you get anxious about the length of your story, or you're worried the story will become too dialogue heavy, or something else. But at the end of the day, when people converse, it's best to separate things. I don't think it gives a good impression to take shortcuts in the dialogue, like you're trying to get to the point without doing the work, you know?

    "Hey Maressa! I haven't seen you in forever either!"
    I believe there's supposed to be a comma separating forever and either.

    Maressa nodded as she turned away from her friends and passed through the doorway and into the gloomy interior. Her heart lightened somewhat at the prospect of speaking with her old friend again, but she grew more concerned with the task set before her. What did the commander want? Was she in trouble? Or was she being called to head out on another mission? She didn’t feel quite ready to go out again. Part of the reason she had joined Team Aqua was the opportunity to work with her Pokémon so much; though she certainly got to do that, she didn’t want any of them to get hurt again.
    Okay, other than the plot of the story, something that's on the back of my mind at this point is location. Sure, you did a good job describing the cliff and the canopy overhead and the sea from the distance, but all we know so far is that this is Hoenn, but not Slateport. I'll admit, I'm not positive if the location is relevant in this chapter, but at this point in the story I've known whether we were at Maressa's base, Slateport, or Mt. Chimney. In other words, not knowing is unprecedented, and I wasn't sure if that was your intention this chapter.

    On the other hand, I really enjoyed this paragraph. You were able to delve into Maressa's reasons for being in Team Aqua, as requested by Negrek. Even though "I wanted to battle" isn't the best reason, and it might serve you some criticism, I believe in this case it kind of works since it give Maressa the character flaw of jumping into things recklessly. Also, you've created some suspense leading into her meeting with Shelley, which is a plus. In previous chapters, I felt that suspense was lacking a lot, making the scenes feel a bit rushed.

    Maressa felt her heart drop as Seaking related the appearance of a submarine, much larger than theirs, coming steadily towards them. She motioned for her friend to continue his explanation, but all he could say was that the submarine was a deep shade of red; no divers or Pokémon had been seen floating about near it. Patting her companion gratefully, Maressa pointed to each of her teammates, still floating near the bottom, and then pointed upward. The Pokémon closed his large, benevolent brown eyes and nodded before swiftly moving to each of the team members, nuzzling them or prodding them gently with his horn before gesturing to the surface.
    I'm not a huge of fan of "my Pokemon and I are so connected that we can telepathically communicate" but hey: your fic, your rules. I'm definitely interested in the approaching danger. I think you're really getting your pace down compared to other chapters.

    Ascending slowly, Maressa's heart beat so hard and fast she felt as though it were about to break out of her chest. Spotting the small submarine, she crept towards it, continuously looking about in search of the submarine Seaking had described
    Yeah, about that. I always thought humans, or anything unaccustomed to deep sea life, couldn't survive in such great depths of the ocean because of the pressure down there. You mentioned that Maressa is wearing a regulator, but I took that to mean "air tank" instead of a full-on scuba suit. Just a thought.

    Mickey considered the question for a moment then told everyone to get into the submarine in an attempt for them to escape. Turning to Maressa, he said quietly, "I'd rather not try to fight them; if they're sailing on a huge thing like that," he pointed to the burgundy vessel creeping towards them, "then they've definitely got us outnumbered. I'm going to try to see if we can escape them."
    "Do you think they might not have noticed us?"
    There should be a space between these two sets of dialogue.

    Hoping to take advantage of their inattentiveness, Maressa ordered, "Everyone, down!" Nine heads bent beneath the waves while each team member covered their ears with their hands. Maressa did likewise, watching her Seaking rise as high as he could out of the air and emit sound waves. In less than a second, the well-trained and coordinated flock of airborne Pokémon lost all order as they flew around in chaos. The Breloom shook its head and danced about frantically as its masters gripped their heads in anguish. Many of the red-clad team members recalled their Pokémon as they knocked into each other and fell to the waves below. Feeling a SICK sense of satisfaction, Maressa allowed herself a small sadistic smile as she saw her foes struggle against Seaking's supersonic.
    I gotta say, this is your best action scene so far. It's well-written and it's serving as redemption for Maressa's last battle. I guess one little critique, if you can even call it that, is how two-dimensional the Magma leader feels in these battles. If you gave her foes personality, and even included banter between them, I really think that would spice things up. Also, Maressa cracking a sadistic smile was an interesting direction to go. It makes me wonder if she's growing to like the dark side of Team Aqua.

    Absorbed in the general disorder of the scene, she failed to notice Breloom stop hopping and free itself from the mental onslaught. With ears covered, she did not hear the Breloom's master call, "Solar beam!" She only looked up just in time to see a fluorescent green beam before it slammed into her midriff and sent her flying into the air. Landing with a heavy splash, she frantically grabbed her regulator and stuffed it into her mouth. She opened her eyes, and was trying to make her way above water when she saw a blurry mass of orange and white approach her. Reaching out an arm, she held on to Seaking as he swam her to the surface.
    This is the second time you're describing Solar beam as "a fluorescent green beam." You don't have to. You already said that the first time. Simple substitutions such as "blast" or "attack" work just fine here. Also, I would use "the" instead of "a" since we know exactly what attack is being used and what it looks like.

    As her head broke free of the water, she removed the regulator from her mouth and glared up at the large red submarine. The Breloom stood there smugly, its arms folded across its chest just like its human’s. Grimacing in pain, she gently asked Seaking to take her back to her team’s submarine. He complied, and the two headed back towards the small grey-blue vessel when she heard one of her teammates shout.

    “Look out!” Mickey was pointing into the air. Maressa jerked her head around in time to see a large seed erupt from the mouth of the Breloom and fly towards them. Vines, meters long, burst from the seed and wrapped her and Seaking in a choking embrace. Seaking cried out in pain as the thorny plants gripped and ripped his orange and alabaster scales.

    Maressa felt the thorns sucking her energy as they tore through her wetsuit and pricked her flesh. Hanging onto Seaking, she patted his head and tried to calm him down while she reached for her Pokéball. Her efforts proved fruitless; Seaking only continued to flail, thrashing about so violently that his Pokéball slipped from Maressa’s hands and fell into the water.
    Again, Maressa's foe seems to lack any sort of personality or ambition for a guy who's playing so dirty. All he does is mimic Breloom, or the other way around. Also, I doubt he'd just stand there with his arms crossed while his opponent is recovering from being flung off the submarine. Wouldn't it make sense for him to capitalize on that opportunity? And wouldn't it make sense for someone to step in for Maressa when she's not exactly in commission to command? After all, not only is she preoccupied with Seaking, but she's still just a grunt so it wouldn't be preposterous for someone else to take over. It makes this entire sequence hard to believe. All that aside, I really enjoyed the description of leech seed. It got me to involuntarily widen my eyes, and I can imagine that's the response you wanted. Lastly, "his Pokeball" should be "her Pokeball" unless she swapped genders while plunging into the water.

    Maressa made a desperate lunge for the ball when a SEARING pain lanced up her left thigh. Looking down, she felt a sickening sensation in her stomach as she saw Seaking's horn penetrating her wet suit and boring at a sharp angle into her leg. The ivory horn dug in deeper as Seaking continued to buck, and Maressa's scream was only muffled by the water flooding her mouth. As terror clouded her mind, she beat Seaking with her fists and lashed out with her legs in an attempt to remove the horn from her thigh. Giving a cry as her heel dug into his eye, Seaking wiggled his horn loose.
    Wow, that got dark real fast. I'd suggest editing your first post to "graphic violence" since, combining your excellent descriptive skills with the details of this paragraph, it could get some stomachs churning...Not mine, though. I'm good


    Overall, this was a very good chapter. I was expecting more, however, in terms of character and plot development. Instead, we got a kickass action scene and some questions for what's coming up. What did Shelly want to talk to Maressa about? What happened after Maressa passed out? How serious is her injury? Who saved her? I'm a sucker for cliffhangers, and I truly want to know the answers to all these questions so I'll most likely be around for chapter 6. As other reviewers have mentioned, you have a very great leading character in Maressa, and bonus points for making her a powerful female.

    I'm not sure if I have any concerning criticisms. The biggest flags that stuck out for me were the dialogue shortcuts and the plot at the end of the battle scene. Just to refresh, shortcuts should be avoided when writing dialogue, and make sure you put yourself in the heads of everyone involved in a battle and what they would do. Also, probably my biggest suggestion is to go more in-depth. We caught a glimpse into Maressa's thoughts regarding Shelly and Team Aqua and her reasons for being there, but then it switched to battle mode. Yes, the battle was great (before that confusing end), but I'm hoping future chapters can serve as bridges to future action. Otherwise, you have a very unique story, you possess an amazing vocabulary, and, for the most part, you're doing a lot of things right. Sorry if my review feels all over the place; this is only my second that I've written. Well, thanks for the read! ~flamebeam
    Last edited by flamebeam; 9th August 2014 at 11:16 AM.

    A New World Order: Birth of a Prophecy

    Credit to Brutaka

  13. #13
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    Holy butts am I glad I clicked that banner. This is beautifully written - and I am writer myself. You've had me on edge multiple times. To be completely honest with you, I was sure you were going to go all nuzlocke on us and Golduck was going to die. If you don't mind, I'm going to review chapter five.

    The sun mercilessly cast its rays over the treetops
    Something that I really love about your style is how you open up your chapters. Even just reading the first phrase of the chapter, you know it's hot as Tom Hiddleston. Your use of descriptive words brings life to the whole piece, and gives the reader a place to go.

    Casting her eyes downward, Maressa replied, "I don't know.... In a way, I would like to go again, but in another way, I'd rather not." Absentmindedly kicking a rock, she added, “The mission didn’t work out anyway. Apparently, they didn’t find whatever they were looking for.”

    Gazing at her friend with sympathy, Sarah asked, "Was what happened really that bad?" Maressa shrugged. "And you still won't tell me about it?" At her friend’s reply of “not yet,” she nodded. "Well, if you need someone to talk to, I'm willing to listen."
    I like how natural the dialogue between Maressa and Sarah is. Something that I think you need to be careful with, though, are your tags. In some places, the tags feel really out of place. The second paragraph also feels a bit cramped, and the reader kind of stumbles through it. It would be better to split something like this up.

    Immediately, Sarah's eyes lit up and she hugged her, squealing, "Cloe!" Releasing her, she asked, "How've you been? It's been a while since I've seen you!"

    "I know, right?" She was cut off as two arms wrapped around her from behind. Twisting her body, she returned the hug when she caught sight of her friend. "Hey Maressa! I haven't seen you in forever either!"
    I feel like the actions in this passage are a bit muddy, and you kind of have to slog through them. It's a little hard to picture as well. Although, that might just be me.

    Sunlight filtered through the surface of the water, sparkling on the wave tops as Maressa and the others descended to the bottom. The submarine floated at the surface, minuscule in comparison to the infinite open ocean around them. The large columns of rock reached out from the seafloor like fingers of the earth. As though reaching upward in an attempt to escape the cold seawater and feel the warm sun, they formed avenues in the great sea. The sides of the pinnacles were lush with multitudes of coral and sedentary organisms arrayed in a rainbow of colors. Numerous Pokémon were nosing their way about in search of food, or else floating by idly as the current carried them wherever it willed.
    Did I mention how amazing you were about setting the scene? You've got that down pat, no joke. You easily paint a picture in my mind, and your adjectives are crisp and tasteful, sautéed to perfection. Keep doing that.

    Mickey considered the question for a moment then told everyone to get into the submarine in an attempt for them to escape. Turning to Maressa, he said quietly, "I'd rather not try to fight them; if they're sailing on a huge thing like that," he pointed to the burgundy vessel creeping towards them, "then they've definitely got us outnumbered. I'm going to try to see if we can escape them."
    "Do you think they might not have noticed us?"
    I'm fairly sure this has been brought up before, because it's a pretty glaring mistake, quite hard to miss. But it just needs to be broken up a bit, that's all. Easy-peasy. However you spell that.

    Maressa heard a harsh laugh. Looking forward, she saw the men and women on the burgundy submarine expelling bouts of laughter. Clenching her fists in fury, Maressa turned to the Pokémon in the water. "You three"-- she pointed to the two Tentacool and lone Tentacruel-- "stay up here, back by me. The rest of you are to go underwater, and come up in fifteen seconds. When you come up, use bubblebeam, hydro pump, water gun," she waved her hand in the air, "whatever you've got on them." She punctuated the last word with a point to their airborne enemies swirling in the sky.
    I've said it before, I'll say it again. You have got this whole describing thing down. Reading through your beginnings and battles is like frolicking on a rainbow made of ice cream. You've use the phrase "she punctuated the last word" multiple times. This may just be a personal deal, but I wouldn't use that verb. Something else. Enforced might work. But I feel like there's something clashing between her action and the fact she's punctuating it.

    "Solar beam!"
    The sharpness, the edge you gave to this phrase because you put it in its own line, stand-alone, is stunning. It jumps right out of the screen, and slices through the chaos. I would love to see a bit more of this. I'd advise not going overboard, though, that can diminish the effect.

    "Solar beam!" She only looked up just in time to see a fluorescent green beam before it slammed into her midriff and sent her flying into the air.
    From here on, things start to get dark. But I love the pacing you used with it. How you started out light, then slowly inching into this gripping sense of fear. The way you described Maressa's horror and pain was flawless, and it puts the reader right there, being afraid for Maressa's safety.

    Maressa made a desperate lunge for the ball when a searing pain lanced up her left thigh. Looking down, she felt a sickening sensation in her stomach as she saw Seaking's horn penetrating her wet suit and boring at a sharp angle into her leg. The ivory horn dug in deeper as Seaking continued to buck, and Maressa's scream was only muffled by the water flooding her mouth. As terror clouded her mind, she beat Seaking with her fists and lashed out with her legs in an attempt to remove the horn from her thigh. Giving a cry as her heel dug into his eye, Seaking wiggled his horn loose.
    Seriously, this area. Not just this paragraph, but the surrounding paragraph. Gorgeous. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it, cheering for Maressa and being afraid for her. Fantastic work.

    All in all, what you have so far is amazing. I really hope you keep it up, and see it through to the end, because you had me gripping my blanket, glued to the screen in anticipation. I haven't read fanfiction like this in ages. I love how it's about the grunts, and that it's a job to them, and that they have names, and lives. And now, I'm going to end this review with a KISS.

    Keep : Keep all the delicious descriptions! You already have the concept down. Keep it up, because seriously - flawless.

    Improve : I think you could improve at punctuation. You have pretty good grammar to start with; now you can start to make the punctuation work for you, keeping things in check.

    Stop : I don't really have a stop for you, so I'll go with a yield. Be cautious of those tags, where they're going, and who they belong to. If you don't make sure they're sorted out, it becomes a jumbled up mess, and it gets very hard to read.

    Start : I don't really have a start either. Scratch that - I don't have a start at all.

    I am very glad I decided to click on that banner! I was not disappointed at all. Keep it up!

    ~ Sketchie

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamebeam View Post
    Hi, there! I'm here from the Review Game thread. I just binged your entire fic, and so far I'm really enjoying it. As JX Valentine pointed out, it's not every day you get a story about a grunt. Anyway, I'm not an avid reviewer, so I'm just gonna read and make notes as I go along.
    Thanks so much for the review! I'm happy that you can find at least something to enjoy about it XD


    Well, that was fast. Right away, I was distracted by the way you ended your first sentence with "to a scorching degree." You forget to provide a number here. For example, you can say "to a scorching degree of 105" if you're into Fahrenheit. Also, it's nice to see Sarah again. I see Negrek convinced you to bring her back, which I'm happy about since I missed her, too.
    That's a fair point, but I think that specifying the degree would just sound a little silly or out-of-place, so that's why I ended the sentence so abruptly. And I was going to bring Sarah back anyway; Negrek just convinced me to make her a bigger character than I had initially planned :P


    This is some weird wording here. I think you meant to say "It's places like this that make me not mind..."



    In my opinion, this exchange would look better if you split it up into multiple lines, like this:



    It feels more like a conversation when you split up people's dialogue and reactions. More specifically, I've noticed in the previous chapters that I just binged that sometimes instead of making a character actually say something, you'll have another character reply to that dialogue, which is basically cutting corners. I'm not sure if you do this because you get anxious about the length of your story, or you're worried the story will become too dialogue heavy, or something else. But at the end of the day, when people converse, it's best to separate things. I don't think it gives a good impression to take shortcuts in the dialogue, like you're trying to get to the point without doing the work, you know?
    Both points noted Thank you; I just personally am not a fan of long lengths of dialogue, so I tried to cut it down in an effort to shorten it when, in reality, it just ended up becoming more cluttered XD Well, thank you for correcting me on that! I'll be sure to fix it.



    Okay, other than the plot of the story, something that's on the back of my mind at this point is location. Sure, you did a good job describing the cliff and the canopy overhead and the sea from the distance, but all we know so far is that this is Hoenn, but not Slateport. I'll admit, I'm not positive if the location is relevant in this chapter, but at this point in the story I've known whether we were at Maressa's base, Slateport, or Mt. Chimney. In other words, not knowing is unprecedented, and I wasn't sure if that was your intention this chapter.
    In all honestly, I didn't do that because I just never thought about it. Team Aqua has bases scattered across the Hoenn region; why would it matter if they were near Fallarbor Town or if they were by Petalburg City? If you're absolutely curious, I could change it, but it just never seemed terribly important to me.

    On the other hand, I really enjoyed this paragraph. You were able to delve into Maressa's reasons for being in Team Aqua, as requested by Negrek. Even though "I wanted to battle" isn't the best reason, and it might serve you some criticism, I believe in this case it kind of works since it give Maressa the character flaw of jumping into things recklessly. Also, you've created some suspense leading into her meeting with Shelley, which is a plus. In previous chapters, I felt that suspense was lacking a lot, making the scenes feel a bit rushed.
    Thanks! Yeah, Maressa's reasons are shallow at the moment, but there are scenes in a later chapter which may or may not be the next one where she goes more into why she's with them; whether or not they're credible could be a point of contention, but since I'm sortof basing her reasons and feelings off of my own feelings and fears, I hope they'll make enough sense.

    I'm not a huge of fan of "my Pokemon and I are so connected that we can telepathically communicate" but hey: your fic, your rules. I'm definitely interested in the approaching danger. I think you're really getting your pace down compared to other chapters.
    Oh lolololol it wasn't supposed to come across that way; Maressa was asking wordlessly because she's in the water and can't speak, so I meant that it was more through gestures or just a look (and I know that being able to read a question from just a look may seem implausible, but I figured that since she's been with Seaking a long time it would work). I figured Seaking would be able to speak since he's a fish-like creature. Sorry! I'm really not into the whole "telepathic communication" either ^_^;

    Yeah, about that. I always thought humans, or anything unaccustomed to deep sea life, couldn't survive in such great depths of the ocean because of the pressure down there. You mentioned that Maressa is wearing a regulator, but I took that to mean "air tank" instead of a full-on scuba suit. Just a thought.
    Another thing which I admittedly didn't put enough thought into. I'm a scuba diver myself, so I was thinking of shallow water suits; but here she is diving deep, so a full-out suit would certainly be more suitable... hm, I'll have some revising to do. Thanks for pointing that out!



    I gotta say, this is your best action scene so far. It's well-written and it's serving as redemption for Maressa's last battle. I guess one little critique, if you can even call it that, is how two-dimensional the Magma leader feels in these battles. If you gave her foes personality, and even included banter between them, I really think that would spice things up. Also, Maressa cracking a sadistic smile was an interesting direction to go. It makes me wonder if she's growing to like the dark side of Team Aqua.
    Yay, I was hoping it would go over well! I mostly kept the Magma leader bland because I feel like if they're standing on submarines a hundred meters away from each other in the middle of the ocean shouting orders to their Pokémon, they'd be more worried about what each other is actually doing, and not just taunting each other. And yeah, I included the sadistic smile part because, well, she is enjoying the fighting and Pokémon battling and is happy to see her team win, even if it means that Team Magma is suffering for it.


    This is the second time you're describing Solar beam as "a fluorescent green beam." You don't have to. You already said that the first time. Simple substitutions such as "blast" or "attack" work just fine here. Also, I would use "the" instead of "a" since we know exactly what attack is being used and what it looks like.
    Well, poop. I was trying to avoid repetition. Thanks!


    Again, Maressa's foe seems to lack any sort of personality or ambition for a guy who's playing so dirty. All he does is mimic Breloom, or the other way around. Also, I doubt he'd just stand there with his arms crossed while his opponent is recovering from being flung off the submarine. Wouldn't it make sense for him to capitalize on that opportunity? And wouldn't it make sense for someone to step in for Maressa when she's not exactly in commission to command? After all, not only is she preoccupied with Seaking, but she's still just a grunt so it wouldn't be preposterous for someone else to take over. It makes this entire sequence hard to believe. All that aside, I really enjoyed the description of leech seed. It got me to involuntarily widen my eyes, and I can imagine that's the response you wanted. Lastly, "his Pokeball" should be "her Pokeball" unless she swapped genders while plunging into the water.
    About the first part: this chapter is told from Maressa's point of view. So, while it is 3rd-person, it's limited to what she knows and sees. Sure, someone else could be taking over the battle and the Magma leader could still be attacking, but she wouldn't be aware of it because she was just blasted into the water and was trying to swim back. Even if someone took over, I feel like Seaking would try to help his person first, and I was trying to build the human-Pokémon bond off those actions.

    And I wrote "his Pokéball" since I was referring to it as Seaking's, not Maressa's. It would be pretty weird if I was referring to her XD


    Wow, that got dark real fast. I'd suggest editing your first post to "graphic violence" since, combining your excellent descriptive skills with the details of this paragraph, it could get some stomachs churning...Not mine, though. I'm good

    Overall, this was a very good chapter. I was expecting more, however, in terms of character and plot development. Instead, we got a kickass action scene and some questions for what's coming up. What did Shelly want to talk to Maressa about? What happened after Maressa passed out? How serious is her injury? Who saved her? I'm a sucker for cliffhangers, and I truly want to know the answers to all these questions so I'll most likely be around for chapter 6. As other reviewers have mentioned, you have a very great leading character in Maressa, and bonus points for making her a powerful female.

    I'm not sure if I have any concerning criticisms. The biggest flags that stuck out for me were the dialogue shortcuts and the plot at the end of the battle scene. Just to refresh, shortcuts should be avoided when writing dialogue, and make sure you put yourself in the heads of everyone involved in a battle and what they would do. Also, probably my biggest suggestion is to go more in-depth. We caught a glimpse into Maressa's thoughts regarding Shelly and Team Aqua and her reasons for being there, but then it switched to battle mode. Yes, the battle was great (before that confusing end), but I'm hoping future chapters can serve as bridges to future action. Otherwise, you have a very unique story, you possess an amazing vocabulary, and, for the most part, you're doing a lot of things right. Sorry if my review feels all over the place; this is only my second that I've written. Well, thanks for the read! ~flamebeam
    Heh, thanks for the compliments ^_^; I'm happy that some of my work is paying off and working. As for the critiques you have (and I thank you for the thought you put into each and every one of them), I guess I can only repeat what I said before. I prefer to stick to one POV at a time, and while I could have gone back to the battle while Maressa was blasted into the water, I just thought it would make a cleaner ending to stay inside her head and show her experiences, especially since later chapters will detail what happened from both sides anyway.

    And thank YOU so much for this review! I didn't find it confusing; I found your pointers helpful and I hope to see you around

    Quote Originally Posted by Sketchie View Post
    Holy butts am I glad I clicked that banner. This is beautifully written - and I am writer myself. You've had me on edge multiple times. To be completely honest with you, I was sure you were going to go all nuzlocke on us and Golduck was going to die. If you don't mind, I'm going to review chapter five.
    Haha I don't think I could ever go do that to Golduck, I'm too much of a sucker for him. And thank YOU for making the banner!
    Excellent, my plot to advertise this fic through using the banner is working. Muhahahaha!

    Something that I really love about your style is how you open up your chapters. Even just reading the first phrase of the chapter, you know it's hot as Tom Hiddleston. Your use of descriptive words brings life to the whole piece, and gives the reader a place to go.
    Well, thanks ^_^; Description is something that just comes easily to me (and apparently I've been using way too much of it lately ._.), so I'm happy that you found it agreeable enough.


    I like how natural the dialogue between Maressa and Sarah is. Something that I think you need to be careful with, though, are your tags. In some places, the tags feel really out of place. The second paragraph also feels a bit cramped, and the reader kind of stumbles through it. It would be better to split something like this up.
    Yeah, the tags are something that I really need to work out. I've been trying different things with them and seeing what works well; thanks for the feedback on that, and I promise I will get around to re-doing that little bit!


    I feel like the actions in this passage are a bit muddy, and you kind of have to slog through them. It's a little hard to picture as well. Although, that might just be me.
    No, that's definitely not just you. Even when I was writing this, I felt like something wasn't right, but I decided to post it and see if anyone could tell me. You have, and I thank you for it


    You've use the phrase "she punctuated the last word" multiple times. This may just be a personal deal, but I wouldn't use that verb. Something else. Enforced might work. But I feel like there's something clashing between her action and the fact she's punctuating it.
    Dangit. I was trying to avoid repetition, and it defeats me once again >_< Thanks for that, I'll be on the lookout and try to come up with something newer and more accurate.



    From here on, things start to get dark. But I love the pacing you used with it. How you started out light, then slowly inching into this gripping sense of fear. The way you described Maressa's horror and pain was flawless, and it puts the reader right there, being afraid for Maressa's safety.

    Seriously, this area. Not just this paragraph, but the surrounding paragraph. Gorgeous. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it, cheering for Maressa and being afraid for her. Fantastic work.
    Sweeeet; I'm just so happy that the effect I'm going for managed to work, at least for some people ^_^;

    All in all, what you have so far is amazing. I really hope you keep it up, and see it through to the end, because you had me gripping my blanket, glued to the screen in anticipation. I haven't read fanfiction like this in ages. I love how it's about the grunts, and that it's a job to them, and that they have names, and lives. And now, I'm going to end this review with a KISS.

    Keep : Keep all the delicious descriptions! You already have the concept down. Keep it up, because seriously - flawless.

    Improve : I think you could improve at punctuation. You have pretty good grammar to start with; now you can start to make the punctuation work for you, keeping things in check.

    Stop : I don't really have a stop for you, so I'll go with a yield. Be cautious of those tags, where they're going, and who they belong to. If you don't make sure they're sorted out, it becomes a jumbled up mess, and it gets very hard to read.

    Start : I don't really have a start either. Scratch that - I don't have a start at all.

    I am very glad I decided to click on that banner! I was not disappointed at all. Keep it up!

    ~ Sketchie
    Again, thanks so much! I appreciate your KISS, and I have one for you too. I will definitely work on this dialogue tags, and try to make things less cluttered for later chapters and hopefully this will all make sense XD Thanks for the review, and again for making my beauteous banner!


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

  15. #15
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    Well, I have the next chapter, and it's about as ready as it's going to be. I can't say how many times I've re-written this, and there are still some things I could change, but I feel like I'll just keep changing them and this will never get posted. So, here is Chapter 6!

    Chapter 6

    Maressa’s eyes popped open as she felt something move around her leg. Automatically, her hand shot out, giving a meaty SMACK! as it collided with flesh. Looking to her left, she saw that she had hit a person; he nose was bright red and he was groaning angrily.

    “Who are you?” she demanded.

    The man put his hands up in surrender. “Stop, stop. I’m trying to help you; I was just taking care of your wound.” Looking down, Maressa saw that her wetsuit was gone and replaced with a t-shirt that was too large for her and shorts. Bandages encircled her upper left thigh, and a dark stain indicated where Seaking’s horn had punctured her. Maressa glanced back at the man; he seemed to be in his mid-twenties, was dressed in white scrubs, and still holding his gloved hands up. Blushing slightly, she relaxed.

    “Sorry,” she murmured.

    “Don’t worry about it.” As he stood up and began to walk away from her, Maressa took in her surroundings. She lay on a bed in a sparsely furnished room. Numerous beds, identical to hers, were the only furniture. The walls and floors alike were of blank metal. A door was closed immediately on her left, and on a side wall, she saw the man disappear through another door.

    Maressa glanced down at her new attire. I wonder where my wetsuit is... maybe Seaking damaged it too badly to be worn again.

    Seaking.

    At the thought of her companion, a thorn of worry pricked her heart. As the man entered the room again, Maressa asked, “Do you know what happened to my Seaking? Is he all right?”

    The man stared at her, puzzled. “I have no idea. Sorry.”

    Deflated, Maressa lowered her eyes, wincing as she fingered the bandages around her leg. “What happened?”

    Giving her a wry smile, he replied, “I hoped that you would be able to answer that. All I know is that Connor carried you in a few hours ago, bleeding and unconscious, and so I’ve been taking care of you.”

    Maressa started. A few hours ago? “How long have I been out?”

    He stared back at her, his chestnut eyes narrowing with some impatience. “For a few hours,” he stressed.

    “Well, yeah, but....” She glanced around the room. The windowless walls and lack of a clock made it impossible to tell what time of day it was. “What time is it now?”

    “About four o’clock.”

    “AM or PM?”

    “Why would I be awake at four AM?”

    Four o’clock.... Woah. The mission had begun in the morning; noon was the latest that she could have passed out. I haven’t eaten for over eight hours, she realized, though she also noted that she wasn’t hungry at the moment, just very tired.

    “So... what’s your side of the story? I asked Connor what had happened, but even he didn’t know.”

    Connor? Maressa suddenly realized that she didn’t know anyone on the team named Connor; he hadn’t been one of the people on the mission, at least. Where am I? Choosing to answer the man’s question—she didn’t know him either, but she was hardly familiar with the team members working in the medical areas—before she posed more of her own, she told him about getting knocked off of the submarine from the Breloom’s solar beam, Seaking coming to help her, and his panic once they had been hit by leech seed. As she talked, the man paced around the room, stopping next to her bed when she mentioned Breloom.

    “You said it was a Breloom that hit you?” When Maressa nodded, he smiled and shook his head. “I’m sorry about that.”

    She fixed her gaze on him, eyeing him suspiciously; he was still smiling sheepishly. Something was odd. After a moment’s pause, she asked, “Why?”

    “Because that was my Breloom. He—“ His voice suddenly cut off as Maressa attempted to lash out with her legs. Bursts of pain rippled from her left leg as soon as she tried to move it; she gasped and held it while the medic stood over her, looking concerned and confused. Still holding her left leg, she kicked out with her right, hitting him in the stomach. She sprang up and was about to grab the door handle when a hand closed around her upper arm. She wheeled around; her kick must have been weaker than she had thought, as the medic stood with his hand clamped around her arm, apparently unaffected by her attack. She tried to kick the man again, but he caught her leg and held it wedged against his body. Using her free hand, she grabbed the arm that held hers and tried to break free of his grip. As she did, he forced her to the ground, pinning her against the cold metal floor.

    Heart racing, panic accumulating in every cell of her body, Maressa hoarsely demanded, “Let me up!”

    “No.” His hard eyes stared back at her, and though his expression was stern, it betrayed no malice.

    Maressa struggled against him, but her strength, diminished as it was, was no match for his own. Her breathing quickened as sweat beaded on her forehead and her eyes darted rapidly around the room, looking desperately for a way out.

    “Please, calm down,” he said in a gentler tone. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

    “How can I trust someone who’s from Team Magma?” she shot back.

    “Because I have nothing personal against you. I’m only against Team Aqua by reputation; I don’t want to hurt any of you, and I don’t care what you guys do.”

    Maressa struggled fruitlessly again. “Why have you been trying to heal me?”

    The man’s mouth dropped slightly in shock. “Because we’re people! We’re humane; we wouldn’t just leave you to die. Look at it this way—” he cut across her, “If we had wanted to hurt you, why didn’t we just let you bleed to death?”

    “Because you can’t get information out of a dead person.”

    Closing his eyes, he sighed, and Maressa could tell he was annoyed. “Do you honestly believe that we would want to hurt you after we’ve been trying to heal you? Medical equipment isn’t cheap, you know.”

    Maressa averted her eyes, thinking on what he had said. She remained silent, as she didn’t have any response to his last statement.

    “Will you let me up?” she finally asked.

    “Will you promise to not try and hurt me or run away, but just sit on the bed and do what I tell you?” She loathed to consent, but knew that there weren’t any other options. Swallowing her pride, she nodded, and the man released her and the two stood up. As she sat back on the bed, he knelt down next to her and proceeded to remove her bandages.

    As she promised, Maressa sat quietly, watching him as he replaced her bloody bandages with fresh ones. Though her heart was now beating a steady, moderate tempo, her mind raced with questions, the most prominent of which was: What’s going to happen to me?

    Tentatively, she asked, “Do you know how bad my injury is?”

    Without taking his eyes from his work, he replied, “It’s really not as bad as it looks. The Seaking’s horn didn’t go in that deep. It ripped up your skin, but most of the muscle is intact and it completely missed your bones and arteries. You should be fully recovered within a few weeks.”

    Maressa’s heart skipped a beat. “A few weeks? But—but I’ll out of here before then, won’t I?”

    The medic glanced up at her and gave an apologetic shrug. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

    Forcing her voice to stay calm, she asked, “Do you know anything else?”

    “Like what?”

    “Like what’s going to happen to me? Where’s my team? What happened to them? Is anyone else here?” The words tumbled out of her mouth before she could stop them, and she was unable to prevent a strain of panic entering her voice.

    The man looked up at the ceiling, his chestnut-brown eyes roving back and forth absentmindedly. “I can’t say what’s going happen to you, as I don’t know myself. As far as I know, the rest of your team got away safely. As soon as we had you, they got out of there.”

    Maressa’s heart lightened with the news. They got away. However, it soon grew heavy again as she wondered, But why did they leave me behind?

    She sat, lost in thought, and started when the man put a plate of spaghetti in her hands. “You’ll need to eat if you want to heal faster.”

    Maressa glanced up, giving a grateful smile and a small, “Thanks.”

    Returning the smile, he said, “I need to get back to my work. If for some reason you need something, like if your leg is spurting blood,” he waved his hand in the air, “or anything like that, just call for help.” He turned to go, then stopped. “Oh, by the way, my name is Derek.”

    Maressa took the hand that he held out, giving it a strong shake. “I’m Maressa.”

    He nodded, then turned and walked away. As he left the room and shut the door, it occurred to her that perhaps she shouldn’t have told him her name. She shrugged away the thought; there was nothing to be done about it now. The scent of the food made her stomach rumble, but her uneasiness inside took away all desire to eat. The panic of a few moments before left her unexpectedly weary. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes, her brow furrowed with worry.

    Her eyes popped open as Derek poked his head through the doorway. “I almost forgot; my commander, Tabitha, wanted to see you as soon as you woke up, so I’ll take you to over there this evening.”

    "Do you know what she wants me for?"

    He blinked. "What?"

    "Your commander, Tabitha," Maressa clarified, "do you know what she wants to see me for?"

    Derek could only stare blankly at her and bluntly said, "Tabitha is a guy."

    Maressa snorted. “A guy?

    “Yes,” he said simply. He checked his watch again, then closed the door.

    Maressa leaned back, the unease lessening as she smiled. A guy—a commander named Tabitha? Her worry abated; if that was really his name, it would be hard to take him seriously.

    ++++++++

    It was hard to not be afraid of him.

    She sat perched uncomfortably on the edge of a small chair in a little office. The main source of her discomfort wasn’t from the claustrophobic feel the cluttered office gave, or the gloomy light given off by a single lamp. Rather, it was from the piercing gaze bored into her by two black eyes. She kept her head down, trying to avoid his eyes, but she could feel them on her constantly, calculatingly.

    True to his word, when evening had arrived—or when Maressa assumed evening was, as she had no way of telling time—Derek had taken her from the medical room to this little office. When the office door had opened to reveal the Magma commander Maressa had fought on Mt. Chimney, she had difficulty containing her surprise and—she loathed to admit—dread. Now, she sat before him while he leaned against the edge of his desk, wondering what he was about to do to his new captive.

    He smiled as he said, “I told you we’d meet again. Maybe now we can arrange a little payback for what you did at Mt. Chimney.”

    Her uneasiness washed away as she furrowed her brow in anger. “For what we did? We should be getting back at you for attacking our team.”

    “Maybe, but I don’t think the people of Lavaridge Town are quite as angry with us as they are with you.”

    “What do you mean?”

    Tabitha blinked in disbelief. “Are you stupid? Do you not know anything that goes on this world?”

    Defensively, she replied, “I’m not stupid.”

    “Well, you seem unaware that Lavaridge’s economy just went down the drain.”

    Maressa stared at him quizzically. “Here,” he said as he picked up a newspaper off his cluttered desk and thrust it at her. Maressa glanced at the headline, which referred to the hot springs cooling off.

    “What does this have to do with us?”

    Taking the newspaper back, he answered, “Lavaridge Town is a main tourist attraction of Hoenn. While you and I were fighting on Mt. Chimney, Team Aqua made the volcano dormant; the volcano was the only thing keeping those hot springs warm. Without hot springs, tourists have stopped coming to Lavaridge Town, and this has hurt not only their economy, but that of all of Hoenn.” He gazed at her with disgust. “First you made a mess of Dewford and Slateport, and now this.”

    Maressa started as though a weight had knocked into her. “You know about Slateport?”

    He snorted. “Everyone knows about Slateport. You’ve caused hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. And that’s not even going in to what happened at Dewford Town.”

    “I wasn’t even at Dewford Town,” she grumbled.

    “But you were there at Slateport,” he said with a smug smile. “And if what I saw at Mt. Chimney means anything, then you probably had something to do with the damage caused at Slateport, didn’t you?”

    “It’s hardly as if your team is much better! You were at Mt. Chimney, too, trying to get the meteorite. And back when you captured me; my team wasn’t even doing anything wrong, and Team Magma just shows up and attacks us!”

    “I doubt it. If I know anything about Team Aqua, you’re always trying to stir up trouble wherever you go. If you weren’t doing anything wrong, then what were you up to?”

    She was about to reply, but she noticed that his expression had changed. It was still disgusted, but also genuinely curious. He actually wants to know what we were doing, she realized.

    “I’m not going to tell you.”

    Her answer didn’t appear to disappoint him. Rather, he smiled. “So you’ll tell me that you weren’t up to anything, but you won’t actually prove it?”

    “No.”

    She glared at him. If he had brought her here just to belittle her and ask her what her team was up to, then she thought it was a sad attempt at interrogation. He may be intimidating, but that wasn’t enough to get her to talk.

    “If that’s the best you can do,” she said testily, “then you’re wasting your time. I’m not obligated to tell you anything.”

    He smirked. “You believe that this is the best we can do? This isn’t even your interrogation; I’m just giving you the option of taking you the easy way out and telling us everything you know right now. If not, then in a few days, I’ll turn you over to someone else. She won’t be so kind as I am, and you will tell her what you know.”

    A few days? That was nothing to worry about; by that time, she would be out of there and back with her own team.

    He must have noticed her change in expression, for he said, “Do you think you’ll be out here by then? That your team is going to come crashing in here and saving you?”

    “Our number-one rule is that no one is left behind. So there’s no way—”

    “And you were left behind,” he noted smugly. His smile widened as he leered over her. “Do you want to know what happened when you became unconscious? As soon as your team saw Breloom hit you with that solar beam, they panicked and ran off without you. The dirty cowards were more worried about saving their own skins than following their own rules.”

    The initial impact of this words struck Maressa, but then her self-pity gave way to anger.

    “Don’t call my team a bunch of dirty cowards,” she growled.

    “Fine. According to your logic then, they’re stupid cowards.” She opened her mouth to retaliate, but he cut across her. “If they really were to come and rescue you, they would be wasting their time. Do you know why the most important rule is to make sure nobody falls behind? It’s so that nobody gives away information to the other teams. If one of my team members was to be caught—not that anyone on Team Magma is stupid enough to be—I would only try to get him back if we had something equal to offer Team Aqua for him, which would be one of their own members.

    “Team Aqua isn’t going to come for you because, as far as they know, you’ve already betrayed them and told us everything you know. If that’s the case, then you’re useless to them and they wouldn’t do much more than lock you up or keep you in the lowest rank.”

    He was no longer smiling, just surveying her with disdain. Maressa averted her gaze, not wanting to believe him. He couldn’t be right; he was her enemy after all. He was messing with her. And yet, something in his voice and the matter-of-fact way that he said it made Maressa suspect that he was being honest.

    “Maybe that’s what Team Magma would do,” she slowly started, “but—”

    He cut across her before she could even finish forming the though. “Our teams’ goals may be complete opposites, but I know that our structure is near-identical. I’ve probably done more work concerning Team Aqua than you have.”

    She forced herself to look back into his deep, black eyes. She wanted to say something, but words were failing her and all she could do was try to hide her own fear, try to push away the possibility that he could be right.

    “I can understand if you don’t want to go back to an organization like that,” he explained. His voice had softened, sending a chill up Maressa’s spine. “After all, you did put up a decent fight. It’s unfortunate that you didn’t have teammates reliable enough to pull you out of trouble. It can’t be easy to deal with, can it?” His voice lowered and his eyes narrowed as he leered over her, his mouth curved in a smile. “Betrayal. Being left behind. Not seen as important enough.”

    Maressa glanced away uneasily. His words held mock-pity, but he seemed to be expressing some degree of sympathy. She knew he was trying to break her down and that she shouldn’t believe him—after all, she wasn’t sure that she would consider it betrayal.

    But was it?


    She had been relying on the knowledge that her teammates would pull her out of any danger she ran into—she would have done the same for them, if the opportunity had presented itself.

    They must have had good reasons, she told herself.

    But it was their number-one rule; when she had first joined Team Aqua, their superiors had hammered it into their heads that no one should ever leave anyone behind on any account. So why had Mickey and the others done just that?

    “What I can’t understand,” Tabitha continued, and Maressa was relieved when he leaned back and had stopped speaking so softly, “Is why anyone would want to join an organization that wants to do something as harebrained as trying to expand the sea and whose members are too cowardly to do what they’re told.”

    She glanced up at him sharply. “What?”

    “Maybe some of you manage to do what you’re supposed to,” he sneered. “But from what I saw—“

    “No, not that. What did you say about expanding the sea?”

    He didn’t immediately respond; rather, he surveyed her with that dark, calculating stare. Maressa tried to read his expression more closely, but his cold gaze expressed little emotion.

    “Control Kyogre and expand the sea,” he said bluntly.

    She could only stare at him, befuddled. Expand the sea? Team Aqua loved the sea—it was everything they fought for—but expand it? Anyone who knew the basics of biology, geology or physics knew something like that would only cause devastation—not to mention, it was impossible. And Kyogre? She knew she had heard the word before, but she couldn’t remember what it meant.

    The Magma Commander continued to look down at her with his dark eyes as she wrestled with his words. “You don’t even know,” he whispered. It was more to himself, though, and his expression suddenly changed as though something clicked in his brain.

    Her amber eyes stared into his black ones as she struggled with deciding what to do. She didn’t want to appear clueless, but what was he talking about?

    Tabitha unfolded his arms and stared at her more intensely than before. “Do you want to know what Team Aqua is really up to?”

    “I already know,” she shot back, but it was a lie and she knew it was a bad one. In spite of herself, she wanted to hear what he had to say. Would he answer the questions that had been on her mind for the past few days?

    “No, I don’t think you do,” he said with some amusement. When she didn’t respond, he continued, “The oceans of our planet was formed by the ancient Pokemon, Kyogre. It’s said to have the power to cause unending rain, and Team Aqua wants to control Kyogre to expand the sea.

    “Exactly how you’re going to do that yet, we aren’t sure. We know that you need the Blue Orb to control it, but as far as we know, nobody knows where that item is.

    “That’s what you’re up to every time your team sends you out to go look somewhere—underwater caves, ruins, old temples. You may just think that they’re having you gather information or do research, but they’re really looking for the ancient Pokémon or the Orb.”

    She averted her eyes, contemplating his words. They were ridiculous—they couldn’t be true. Nobody could possibly think that expanding the sea could be good for the planet, and Kyogre was just a creature from mythology. Did the people that she worked for, that she had looked up to, honestly believe that a Pokémon had created the world, and could be put under human control? If Tabitha was trying to give her false information, why would he bother with something so far-fetched?

    But there was something in his voice that held an unshakeable truth. There was no malice, no pity, no derision; just plain, simple information.

    He smiled as he saw her helpless, confused stare. “Never thought your team would do something like that, did you? I guess I can’t really blame them for hiding that stuff from newer recruits; if they went around spreading information like that to everyone, they probably wouldn’t have nearly the same number of team members as they do now.”

    “What about Team Magma?” she suddenly asked. He raised his eyebrows questioningly. “Does everyone on your team know what you’re up to? Or do you tell them differently?”

    “All of our members know that we’re trying to create more land. We, at least, don’t have a goal that’s so obviously destructive that we have to hide it,” he finished with a smirk.

    Maressa cast her eyes down. She knew she shouldn’t believe him, that she couldn’t trust him to be honest, but what if he was right? And it would make sense for him to know more, since he was of a higher rank. But for him to know more about her own team than she did? Though if he was right, then it was no wonder that Team Aqua was trying to keep their goals a secret….

    But it didn’t make any sense! Team Aqua was trying to help the oceans, not re-create the entire planet. And yet everything that she had just been told, that they had been searching for Kyogre or for the Orb, that they didn’t care about how many people they had to hurt to achieve their goals, fit with all of the missions she had gone on since she had taken up the blue bandana.

    At last, she raised her eyes to meet his own. “Why are you telling me this?”

    With a shrug, he said, “You ought to be informed about what your team is doing. At least the members of Team Magma know our basic goals—they’re easy enough to understand. You shouldn’t just blindly follow orders when it’s going to cause complete chaos and destroy a large portion of our planet. I know that you just want to do what’s right. It can’t be easy, thinking that you’ve been helping the world this whole time, when it turns out that the only intention Team Aqua has is to destroy it.” His voice had gotten softer, and was once again lacking the derision and denigration that it had before. She looked up. He leaned in closer, staring down at her from overhead, his heavy-lidded eyes scanning her with an intensity that made her supremely uncomfortable. She shrank back in her chair, averting her eyes and trying to escape his gaze.

    “You don’t belong with them, Maressa.” She forced herself to look back at him; there was something odd about those words, and she had a bad feeling that she knew where this conversation was heading.

    Deciding it would be better to attempt to defend herself, she meekly replied, “Well, I signed a contract with them, so I can’t leave and don’t really have anywhere else to go, so I….” her voice died as he smiled softly. She really wished he would stop smiling.

    “You don’t have to go back to them at all; you can just stay here. Think about it,” he cut across her as she opened her mouth to speak. “If you go back there—if you ever manage to get back there—you’ll be stuck in a low rank for getting captured, and probably won’t have anything more important to do than to keep watch. If you stay here, you would be much more valuable than that. As a member of Team Aqua, you must know the locations of their hideouts, the layouts of their bases, how strong their security is, the Pokémon they use—stuff that may be basic to you, but is very important and useful to us. If you were to give us this information, everything that you’ve done against us will be forgiven. You’ll be well-respected on our team, and given a higher rank and privileges not permitted to the lower-ranking members.”

    The smile was still playing on his face, but now there was a glimmer of hope in his eyes. He actually wants me to join, she realized. But as she listened to him, an unexpected anger rose from within her, and her fingers clenched themselves into fists.

    “You want me betray them,” she said softly.

    He stared at her blankly. “Of course I do; you’d be much more useful to us that way. Besides, they betrayed you, and haven’t exactly given you much reason to keep standing up for them.”

    He was right, she admitted, and after everything she had gone through, she didn’t know if she really wanted to keep working for Team Aqua. She wasn’t sure that she liked them anymore, but one thing hadn’t changed: she still hated Team Magma. Besides, what would Golduck and the others think?

    Golduck.

    At the thought of her him, a light flicked on her head. Her Pokémon were still with Team Aqua, and she knew that no matter what, she had to return for them.

    “No,” she whispered. Her hands still balled into fists, she said, “Maybe I could betray people I hardly know, but I could never betray my Pokémon. And I have friends on Team Aqua; you seriously think I could just turn traitor on them?” Her voice rose and grew stronger as her blood boiled hotter.

    He shrugged. “It’s just an offer. You can join us and tell us what you know now, or you can be interrogated and have the information forced out of you. I’m just giving you an easier way out.”

    “ ‘Have the information forced out’? Do you really think that sounds like something with an ethical standard that would make me want to join?”

    “I’m sure it’s nothing Team Aqua doesn’t do.”

    “That doesn’t make it any better!” Ignoring the pain in her leg, she stood up, her cheeks flushed in anger. “Maybe you’re right about some stuff, and maybe Team Aqua isn’t that good of an organization, but Team Magma is just the same. You expect me to believe you when you make my team sound like a mass-murdering organization of serial killers and yours sound like a bunch of Santa’s elves going around giving people gifts and helping out this world?”

    “I know that Team Magma is illegal, if that’s what you’re getting at.” He didn’t move when she stood up, and was completely unfazed even when she was shouting inches from his face.

    Growing more reckless by the second, she snorted as she asked, “How am I supposed to trust the word of a man named Tabitha anyway; what kind of people name their son Tabitha? And what’s your middle name? Mary-Ann?”

    At last, she got a reaction out of him. The feminine-named commander started as though her quip had stung him. Furrowing his eyebrows, he growled, “Watch what you say.”

    “And what point is there in that?” She rallied herself, attacking with more force as she watched the fire of anger burn brighter in his eyes. Satisfied at seeing the muscles in his face tighten, she continued, “My Pokémon would never agree with this. They were all born in the water. Why would they ever work to see their homes destroyed? Almost all sea life will die if Team Magma is successful; I could never do anything to harm something so important to me or my friends.”

    Tabitha was on his feet, his fingers balled into fists as he glared contemptibly at her. “You’re insane, just like every member of Team Aqua who thinks that expansion of the sea will help this planet when it already covers seventy per-frigging-cent of it.” Voice rising, he continued, “What Team Magma is fighting for will help this planet; we don’t care just about the ‘poor little sea creatures’ who inevitably get eaten or killed anyway. We fight because this planet—the land we live on and the creatures that come from it—is important to us! Team Magma works for the good of the earth; as soon as our work is accomplished, the world will be a better place for everyone alive!”

    Maressa’s amber eyes alighted with fury as her voice rose to almost a shout. “Your entire team and idiotic leader are insane, and what you’re doing is only to get everyone killed! You may think what you’re trying to do is good for people, but it’s only going to cause new problems for our planet! All of you and your lunatic for a leader can go and die for all I care.”

    A second later, the back of her head throbbed as she was forced against the metal wall. His hands were on her upper arms, digging his fingers in so deeply Maressa was worried that the skin would break. Maressa gasped in pain as he tightened his hold on her, and she looked up to see his dark eyes burning with hatred as he glared down at her. She suddenly realized just how much taller he was than her, and as he towered over her, Maressa’s resolve dissolved and she felt herself shrink back from her captor.

    When he spoke, his voice was much lower, and filled to the brim with fury. “Don’t you dare insult us or our leader ever again. You may have had it easy here, but that’s about to end. Not only you, but the rest of Team Aqua is about to suffer for what they’ve done, along with everyone else who defies us.” Suddenly, he released his hold on her left arm and placed his hand on her upper thigh. Maressa gasped and tried to push him away when he dug his fingers through her bandages and into the hole in her leg. Letting out a small squeal as agonizing lances seared through her leg, she felt warm breath on her face, and looked up to see his own set centimeters from hers. She tried to shove him away, but it was useless. He pushed himself up against her, physically pressing her against the wall while piercing her with his uncannily unblinking stare. She heard him whisper, “I don’t forget those who insult me. Your interrogation soon. Be ready.”

    He released her and pushed her out of the door, where she found Derek waiting for her.

    “What’s wrong?” he asked when he saw her rapidly panting, but she could only shake her head in reply. Steadying her breathing, the two walked back to the clinic, where they parted ways. Sitting down on her bed, Maressa buried her head in her hands, thinking on all that had been said and dreading the events to come.

    Tabitha stared at the door, waiting for his temper to abate. As he turned and walked back to his desk, he dwelt on the conversation, constantly thinking back to the one remark that had stung him.

    She must never know.


    =================================

    “We have to go back and get her!”

    Sarah’s stared at Mickey—pathetic, helpless-looking Mickey—her blue eyes wide in fury. Her mouth was slightly agape as he finished telling her what had happened, and she could feel her blood boiling as he explained his cowardice.

    “We couldn’t. We were lucky that they decided to go after her and not after the rest of us! Imagine how much worse it would be if everyone in our group was caught! They had us outnumbered, there was no way we could have held them off for long—“

    “Then why did you even fight back in the first place?!”

    “We couldn’t just escape! We tried to, but they noticed us and fought—they probably could’ve torn our submarine apart in minutes!”

    Mickey was panting, and holding his hands out in a pleading gesture. Their outbursts had attracted a group of onlookers, including most of Mickey’s group, who had just gotten back. His excuses did not incite sympathy within Sarah; rather, she felt a strong desire to attack him and every one of the members who had let Maressa get captured.

    She turned away in disgust, not wishing to speak to him any longer. Maressa had just been re-assigned under a week ago. When Sarah had heard that Maressa was going to go diving and searching for underwater caverns for her assignment, she had been jealous, but happy for her friend. Meanwhile, she and Cloe had been put in a group under Commander Matt, and had been doing little more than standing as lookout and taking care of the Pokémon who had been going on missions and battling.

    They had only been in their new position for a few days when Mickey had suddenly showed up—and had nothing to say except that Maressa had been captured.

    “Don’t you get mad us too, Sarah,” he whined. “I’m still wondering how I’m going to explain this to the admins.”

    “Explain what to who?”

    Every head snapped towards the open doorway as a tall, burly man, whose open vest flapped around a slightly overhanging belly, came striding out. Everyone stiffened and stood at attention as Matt rubbed his tired-looking eyes and said to Mickey, “Did you say you had something to tell us?”

    “Yes, it’s about... our last mission, sir.” He was looking extremely agitated, and his emerald eyes were darting restlessly around.

    Matt’s tired eyes narrowed in confusion. “Why did you come to this base? Didn’t Shelly send you all out? You know you’re to report back to whoever sent you out unless you’re told otherwise.”

    Opening his mouth, Mickey was about to answer, but Sarah could take it no longer. “Maressa’s been captured by Team Magma!”

    Matt turned his eyes on her. They were no longer confused or tired, but sharp and cold. “Who?”

    “Maressa, she was with Mickey’s squad, and she was caught by Team Magma!”

    Matt turned to the people in Mickey’s group, all of whom were looking terrified. “Explain,” he said quietly.

    Everyone in the room remained dead silent as Mickey began to give excuses for his cowardice. He went into detail about their failed attempt at escape, and the battle with the Magma members, finishing with the enemy’s Breloom sending a solar beam at Maressa and her Seaking.

    “And when I saw her Seaking swim away as fast as he could and Maressa didn’t come back up, I knew something was wrong, and with her down and her Pokémon gone I didn’t want to risk staying there and having something happen to the rest of us, so I had everyone get back in and we left,” he finished in a rush.

    Nobody spoke a word. Matt’s face was stern, his expression hard as though his face had been hewn from a rock. His eyes glinted with murderous light, and, though she knew that his anger wasn’t directed at her, Sarah was scared. She had never seen him this angry—he had always been fairly lenient and easy-going, much easier to get along with Shelly; but now she saw why everyone warned the newcomers not to cross him.

    “Did anyone follow you?” His voice was deadly quiet, yet held a chill that made Sarah uncomfortable.

    Mickey shook his head. “No, I’m sure of it.”

    “Do you remember what the number one rule on missions is?”

    Mickey faltered. “Yes, but—“

    “Then you, Michael Angelo, are permanently stripped of rank. You will be treated as a brand-new recruit, but any mistakes you make won’t be easily forgiven.” He turned his attention to the rest of Mickey’s group. “The same goes to the rest of you, but if you can work hard enough, then it’ll be possible for you to make your way back up.”

    Mouth agape, Mickey stared at Matt. “But I’ve been here for four years! I’ve worked—“

    He was cut off as Matt thundered. “Yes, you’ve been here for four years! Then you should know what our first rule is and how to follow it! You were put in charge of the mission, and you should’ve looked after the newer recruits and made sure that everyone got away safely!” He turned on his heel and tromped back through the open door. “Don’t think you’re getting off lightly; this is only temporary punishment. When I tell Archie about this, he’ll decide what to do with you.” So saying, he slammed the door behind him, leaving the room in stricken silence.

    Mickey slumped against a wall and covered his face with both hands. The people in his group acted similarly, with some staring at the door in utter shock while others immediately left the room. Everyone who had been a spectator stared at the punished for a few seconds, then started to whisper amongst themselves.

    Sarah made her way to the door Matt had exited through, hesitating before opening it. She was scared to face an angry Matt, but he hadn’t been angry at her, and he hadn’t said anything about what she really wanted to know.

    She opened the door and found Matt sitting at a smell desk, talking through a phone. He held up a hand as he noticed her, gesturing for her to wait a moment.

    “He claimed there was no other way out.... Yes.... Yes.... He—” Leaning back in his chair, Matt looked as though he was in pain, and started to relay what Mickey had said through the phone. Sarah grew slightly nervous as she realized he must have been speaking to their boss.

    “Yes sir.... I don’t know, I—yes, I will.... Right now? Where do you want us to go? ... Yes, sir.” At last, he put down the receiver and looked up at Sarah. “Did you want something?” She was relieved to see that he was no longer angry, but just surveying her with nonchalant curiosity.

    “Yes, sir, it’s about Maressa.”

    “What happens to Mickey is for him to know; if he decides to share it with anyone, that’s his choice. I’m not about to tell everyone who asks me what his punishment is.”

    “No, sir, I know. I just wanted to make sure, since you didn’t say anything about it earlier, but we are going to get Maressa back, aren’t we?”

    He averted his eyes, and after a second’s hesitation, he said, “Of course, it’s just a matter of how long it will take and what we need to do to get her back. But don’t worry; she won’t be with them long.”

    Sarah left the room, her heart considerably lighter at knowing that her friend would soon be back and safe from danger.
    Last edited by starliteevee; 18th November 2014 at 4:32 PM.


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

  16. #16
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    Review tiem.

    First off, I'm not sure how helpful this review is because I mostly agree with past reviewers. XD

    I agree with Psychic that there's a wonderful emphasis on the Grunt characters you don't see many other places, and it's fun seeing things from their perspective.

    And I agree with Negrek that Shelly can be cartoonishly ruthless at times and while that's perfectly fine sometimes (don't ask me how much fun I can have with cartoonishly evil villains) it doesn't quite work with this story because it undermines the depictions of the grunts. Matt and Tabitha have more nuance and are thus fine. I also agree that Maressa needs more reason to stick with Aqua, but you're getting better about that.

    As for this latest chapter it's very good, but I have a hard time believing Tabitha would be that loose-lipped to a captive.

    Apologies if that wasn't very helpful; I will let you know I'm interested in this fic and looking forward to what happens next.
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    Want your fic reviewed? Send me a PM asking! I'll see if I can make time.

    (Keep in mind I'm not usually partial to really dark fics, so I may take longer to get to those.)

  17. #17
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    First, I'd like to respond to what I remember of Negrek's review before the forum crashed:

    I fixed most of the stuff she suggested (I think). Yeah, Tabitha is melodramatic, and his last line is definitely something to snicker at, since he tries to be threatening but his name just really diminishes the effect. As for why he's putting off Maressa's interrogation, I put a little explanation for that in the next chapter (which I hope is good enough). Mickey's name being Michael Moore was a reference.... but not the Michael Moore most people know today. I was naming him after St. Thomas Moore (because he's awesome), but I didn't realize that when I put it with Michael, it became someone who's actually alive and well-known today. Originally, it was going to be a Lord of the Rings reference, but I thought that was too obvious. So I just changed his name to a bad pun.

    ANYWAY:
    Quote Originally Posted by InsaneTyranitar View Post
    Review tiem.

    First off, I'm not sure how helpful this review is because I mostly agree with past reviewers. XD
    Not to worry! I'm always happy to get a review from anyone. It's a nice feeling knowing that people read your stuff :P

    I agree with Psychic that there's a wonderful emphasis on the Grunt characters you don't see many other places, and it's fun seeing things from their perspective.
    ...You mean Jax? And thanks, I thought there wasn't enough emphasis on them. Sometimes, it seems viewers forget that they're actually supposed to be people, and that they must have thoughts on everything that goes on on their team, so I thought I would go more in-depth with how they think and what goes on with them.

    And I agree with Negrek that Shelly can be cartoonishly ruthless at times and while that's perfectly fine sometimes (don't ask me how much fun I can have with cartoonishly evil villains) it doesn't quite work with this story because it undermines the depictions of the grunts. Matt and Tabitha have more nuance and are thus fine. I also agree that Maressa needs more reason to stick with Aqua, but you're getting better about that.
    Um, yeah, I do agree with you and others on this. Fortunately, I've set her up for more understandable characterization in later chapters. Unfortunately, the characterization I have set up for Shelley in later chapters doesn't quite fit with how she is before. So pretty much, the earlier chapters are the bane of my existence, but (and this is probably the laziest reason you could hear), I really don't feel like going back and editing them since there's just so much to change and I would rather progress my story. And yeah, next chapter has more exposition on why Maressa joined Team Aqua.

    As for this latest chapter it's very good, but I have a hard time believing Tabitha would be that loose-lipped to a captive.
    Thanks ^_^ I had a lot of fun writing this one. And yeah, that last part is fixed... I think.

    Apologies if that wasn't very helpful; I will let you know I'm interested in this fic and looking forward to what happens next.
    Not at all! Thanks for the review; I'm always happy to hear from someone and will take your words to heart


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

  18. #18
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    A little late, but better late than never, right? Just got done reading what you've got so far and I'm pretty interested in what you have. I'm kinda tired right now, and can't think of much to say, so I'll keep this short.

    You are great with description, never too much and rarely too little, and I always get a pretty good feel of the setting.

    Characters are good for the most part. Maressa is a great character to start off with, and I find myself enjoying Tabitha quite a bit. Minor characters are sometimes interesting, such as Mickey (and god that medic O_O). Sarah seems promising, and Derek dealing with Maressa back there was pretty natural, except for the part where he casually admitted that his Pokemon nearly killed her and that she was captured by Team Magma, WHILE he clearly knew he was dealing with a Team Aqua grunt ( I still like him though). Not sure what to say about Mark, and I haven't seen enough of Chloe to get a good feel for her character. Shelly's lack of morale and incompetence doesn't bother me too much, though it does cause me to have less care for her character.

    The story flows pretty well, though I did find myself skipping over some less important parts. Don't let that worry you though. As I said, I'm tired and I want to go to sleep (=_=).

    Now I just have two questions.
    1) Probably very obvious, but am I right when I say that the Player Character (Brendan/May) doesn't exist in this story? Just curious.
    2) I feel like your expecting us to know what the team commanders look like, but I can't really tell. Remember, there are two designs for each now, including Archie and Maxie. I feel like you are using the original designs, but I need clarification.

    Overall, I like this story and look forward to seeing more. Now to get some sleep.
    Three most annoying things:

    1. Metal Mario
    2. Arrogance
    3. Writer's Block

  19. #19
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    Replying to JFought's review first:

    You are great with description, never too much and rarely too little, and I always get a pretty good feel of the setting.
    Thanks ^_^; It took a long to develop and hone those skills, so I'm glad that I finally seem to be getting somewhere.

    (and god that medic O_O)
    Your reaction begs explanation.
    But lol I'm just curious as to what exactly you mean by this since it could be a taken a number of ways :P

    Derek dealing with Maressa back there was pretty natural, except for the part where he casually admitted that his Pokemon nearly killed her and that she was captured by Team Magma, WHILE he clearly knew he was dealing with a Team Aqua grunt
    Yyyyeeeah, I never really considered that. I tried to make him out to be a laid-back character, and he was smiling at the irony of how he was trying to heal her when it was his Pokemon that almost killed her... kinda dark now that I look at it this way.

    Shelly's lack of morale and incompetence doesn't bother me too much, though it does cause me to have less care for her character.
    Yeah, still wondering how I should go about this. On one hand, I'm not sure if I want her to be straight-up evil or to appear more sympathetic. I'm not a fan of all-evil characters, but I'm having a hard time deciding how I want to portray her and how I should go about that.

    Now I just have two questions.
    1) Probably very obvious, but am I right when I say that the Player Character (Brendan/May) doesn't exist in this story? Just curious.
    Mm, not sure if I can answer that. Are they relevant? No. Whether or not they exist doesn't really matter. I was toying with the idea of having one show up in a later chapter, but it would only be for a bit and I haven't gone anywhere with that yet.

    2) I feel like your expecting us to know what the team commanders look like, but I can't really tell. Remember, there are two designs for each now, including Archie and Maxie. I feel like you are using the original designs, but I need clarification.
    I wrote this (and I think I posted it) before the new games were announced, and so yes, I am using the old designs because the new ones look awful.

    Overall, I like this story and look forward to seeing more.
    Thanks, glad you liked it! And you definitely deserve some sleep :P


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

  20. #20
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    Double-posting because I felt like including the chapter and reply would clutter this too much. Not sure if I'm allowed to do this, and if not, then I'll just have to accep the infraction/ban. Anyways,

    Sorry this took a while. The chapter itself has been mostly ready, and admittedly, since nothing much happens, I kept on wondering if I should tag more to keep it interesting. And I was just constantly re-writing the scenes, but I realize that I can only revise so much. I now leave it into the hands of the reviewers to tell me what I must do to make this any better.

    Chapter 7

    "Please?"

    He groaned, firmly denying the request.

    “Come on. It’s easy, and what else are you going to spend your time doing? All you do all day is float next to me and bother me while I’m trying to work.”

    Derek turned around and faced Claydol. His numerous red eyes were half-closed, surveying the human with amusement. In spite of Derek’s provocation, the Pokemon didn’t respond.

    “Won’t you, please? I actually have a patient to take care of for once, and you know that I hate doing inventory.”

    Looking him over with an unchanged expression—not that his expression could change much, anyway—Claydol gave another groan; the answer was still the same.

    Turning away, Derek sighed as he walked towards the medical room. He pushed open the door and walked in, where he saw Maressa lying awake on her bed. She was flexing her arms, studying the muscles carefully. She was unusually brawny for a girl; while her muscles were lean and slim, they were well-defined—almost too well-defined for a girl. Sighing, she relaxed her arms and looked up at Derek. He gave a small wave, and began to walk to the door on the side wall.

    “Who’s your friend?”

    “Hm?” Derek turned to see that Claydol had stopped following him and was floating by Maressa’s bedside. She had sat up and was gazing at him with curiosity and awe.

    “Oh, that’s just Claydol. He helps me out when I need to get some stuff done.” After a second’s pause he added, “Or he just bothers me when he’s too lazy to do anything.”

    She reached up a hand, as though about to pet the Pokemon, and asked, “May I?”

    Derek nodded, and Claydol rumbled his consent. Maressa ran her fingers along the earthen body, rubbing the white patterns that grooved his mid-section.

    “He’s beautiful,” she noted. Claydol gave an appreciative groan, but Derek noticed that there was more than just respect in her voice. There was something forlorn, some note of longing, underneath the outward awe.

    She must be upset about not having her Seaking with her, he realized. The thought stirred a sense of sympathy within him; he couldn’t imagine being stuck in one place without Claydol, Breloom or Golbat with him.

    He gave the door a glance, then moved across the room and sat on the bed opposite Maressa’s. There would be time to do inventory later. Actually, there probably wouldn’t, but he didn’t feel like doing it anyway. Besides, he couldn’t get into too much trouble. As one of the only medics on the team, he knew that Team Magma considered him too valuable to lose.

    He watched as Maressa patted the large earthen doll. “I know Breloom’s a fighter, but what about you? Do you like to battle, or would you rather stay on the sidelines?”

    Claydol groaned an answer. Derek sat stiffly, a little surprised that she was talking directly to his Pokemon and not asking him.

    “He’s not much of a battler,” he informed her. She turned her amber eyes on him as he spoke. “He can fight when he needs to, but he mainly helps me out in here.”

    She turned her eyes back to the Pokemon. “He knows how to do all of this medical stuff?”

    He shrugged. “A bit. I’m usually the one that handles the patients; he’ll get out or put together whatever equipment that I need, though.”

    “That’s cool. I tried teaching my Pokemon calculus, but Lanturn and Sharpedo weren’t interested. Seaking showed interest, but I don’t think he really understood any of it. Golduck told me that it was a waste of time and that I shouldn’t bother trying to teach him anything as useless and boring as math.”

    Taken aback, Derek noted, “Your Golduck seems pretty… stubborn.” He thought this was an understatement, but couldn’t think of anything else to say and didn’t want to run the risk of insulting her Pokemon.

    Her brow furrowed. “You have no idea. I can hardly ever get him to listen to me.”

    “Does he battle much?”

    “All the time—he’s the strongest Pokemon I have, and he works the best with me. He knows what I want him to do, and does it without question. Sure, outside of battle, he can be rude, but I can tell that he doesn’t really mean it.” She had stopped petting Claydol. Her eyes were downcast, and the curiosity she had shown before had vanished.

    Derek couldn’t really think of what to say; he pitied her for being stuck alone and without her Pokemon, but it wasn’t something he could relate to and he didn’t think that there was anything he could do to make her feel better. He didn’t want to end their conversation on such a somber note, though, so he asked, “You, uh… you liked studying calculus?”

    “Hm? Oh, yeah.” She snapped out of her dejection, and sat upright again. “Math was always my favorite; I studied it throughout high school and college.”

    “Where did you go for college?”

    “I went to the Hoenn Institute of Technology and Architecture.”

    “Oh, decided to stay regional?”

    “Yeah, they have pretty incredible math and physics departments.” She smiled as she added, “Did you know that they have a particle accelerator?”

    His eyes widened. “I didn’t know that! That’s pretty cool. I guess it’s no surprise, though, since most of the top scientists and researchers in Hoenn have gone there.”

    “What about you? Where did you go?”

    “I studied at the Johto Technological and Medical Institution.”

    “Did you go to med school?” Her voice was no longer merely curious; there was a note of suspicion. Looking up, he saw her surveying him skeptically.

    “I….” he paused, and she immediately cut across him.

    “I don’t mean to be asking anything to personal, it’s just that if—I thought that if you had gone to med school, you probably could’ve gotten a job as a doctor pretty easily, and it would’ve paid a lot better than being on Team Magma.” Her words tumbled out in a rush, as though she was worried about offending him.

    “It’s all right, don’t worry about. It’s just that,” he paused again before admitting, "I never finished med school. I wanted to, but then I heard about Team Magma—they said I could be a medic on the team even if I joined then right then and there. Med school is expensive, and the pay I get here is really good. It's like working early without having to pay for all of school." Resting his elbows on his knees, he continued, "And it seems like my teammates were right. There hasn't been a single Pokémon brought to me that I haven't been able to cure yet."

    "What about people?"

    "To be honest, you're pretty much the only person I've really worked with. Sure, there have been cuts, burns, bruised bones, and things like that, but nobody else has had to lie in a bed for days." He smiled with pride as he told her, "You get to be my first long-time patient."

    She smiled back before continuing, “So you joined Team Magma just to pay off your college debt?”

    “Well, not just to pay off my dues, but that was part of it. School doesn’t pay for itself, you know.””

    “No, I’ve definitely learned that by now.” Her voice grew quiet, and she stared down at her feet.

    “So, why did you join Team Aqua?” At her curious glance, he added, “I told you my reasons for joining Team Magma; what made you join Team Aqua? You seem to have a motivation other than money.”

    She grimaced. “Okay, first off, you told me one reason for joining Team Magma. That’s reason, not reasons. Two, just because I don’t have to pay for pre-med school doesn’t mean that I don’t have plenty left to pay off. Honestly, being able to pay off school was a pretty big reason for joining them…” Her voice trailed off, and she shifted her gaze away in embarrassment.

    He nodded. “So you’re in the same boat as I am.”

    “Well, it’s more than just paying off school; I enjoy what I do. I get to fight Pokemon battles, and spend plenty of time with my Pokemon.”

    “If you’re in this for Pokemon battling, why don’t you enter Pokemon tournaments? They offer pretty hefty cash prizes.”

    She shrugged uncomfortably as she fidgeted with her feet. “I don’t know; a lot of the biggest ones are televised, and I’m not really comfortable with all of that. And I like getting recognition for when I’m good at something, but I don’t think I could ever be comfortable with appearing on TV and being famous or anything. Besides, those are super competitive; the best people spend all their time training their Pokemon and have really diverse teams. I just have four water Pokemon, and they are strong, but I don’t think we would really stand a chance in a tournament like that.” She shifted her eyes. “Besides, when I joined Team Aqua, I heard that I would be helping Pokemon and prevent destruction of their habitats.”

    She was no longer smiling or warm; she shrunk against the back wall, her eyes averted from his, and a pained, confused expression ravaged her face. There was something odd about her words as well.

    Curious, he asked, “ ‘When you joined’ them, you heard that? Has that changed since then?”

    She shifted her amber eyes back to him. “I don’t know—well, there were things going on in my team that I didn’t know about. They never told us everything when they sent us on missions, they would just tell our squad leaders. And since then, I’ve heard what we do and I just—I—I don’t know….” Her voice trailed off as she slumped back against the wall again.

    Taken aback, Derek studied her. Slouched back on the bed with such a lost look, she seemed so pathetic that he found himself feeling a little sorry for her. He hadn’t expected her to be pouring out her feelings and confusion to him. Although, he reasoned, she probably needs someone to talk to, and without her teammates or Pokemon here, she must feel lonely.

    She doesn’t have anyone,
    he realized with a jolt.

    He considered saying something to help her, but mental therapy really wasn’t his forte. He had never been able to understand how girls became so hysterical and teary over life events—though Maressa seemed to be dealing with something other than just typical woman problems.

    Even though he wasn’t keen to engage in a therapy session, her words sparked his interest.

    “What did they tell you, then?”

    She passed a hand over her face. “Not much, really. I could tell that there was something going on that they weren’t giving us all of the details about, but I just thought it was because I was a low-ranking member, and that I would be told more the longer I worked with them.

    “And then when I came here, Tabitha told me that Team Aqua’s goal is to take control of some ancient Pokemon and use it to expand the sea, and if that’s true…” She looked about hopelessly. “I don’t want to work for a team like that, but my team wouldn’t really be doing that, would they?”

    She was looking pleadingly at him, as though she expected him to hold some answer that would refute all of her suspicions and secure her belief in the goodwill of Team Aqua.

    But he couldn’t do that; doing so would only be lying to her, and if she had been living by a lie the entire time she worked with Team Aqua, then it was time for her to face the truth.

    “That is what your team is doing. At least as far as Team Magma knows, anyway.”

    She closed her eyes at his words, and when she opened them, she appeared more dejected and forlorn than he had seen her yet.

    “But… what about Team Magma?”

    “What about us?” he asked.

    “If Team Aqua is trying to expand the sea by controlling some sort of monster, then how are you guys going to try to expand the land? From what my team says, you guys are trying to make more land—aren’t you?”

    “Yeah.”

    “But how are you guys going to do it? Are you going to control some monster as well?”

    He shrugged. He had given the matter thought, but in the end he just didn’t really care about how Team Magma went about trying to achieve their aims.

    “I don’t know,” he told her. “I do what they tell me to, and they pay me. That’s how it works.”

    She stared back at him in disbelief. “You don’t know what your team does? You don’t know if they’re trying to do what’s right?”

    “I know that we’re trying to expand the land, and for everything we stand for and believe, that is the right thing for us to do.”

    “But how are you guys going to achieve it? Doesn’t the path to completing your goal matter just as much as the completion itself?”

    He paused at these words. She was staring intently at him, eyes full of confusion and worry. He couldn’t think of much else to say; of course, he didn’t want to make ends meet by doing something unethical, but after all, he himself wasn’t doing anything wrong. He was just taking care of the sick.

    “I just take care of the wounded. I don’t see anything wrong in that.”

    “You’re doing it for a criminal organization when you could be doing it for everyone else! But just weren’t dedicated enough to finish school!”

    There it was. At these last words, he pursed his lips and turned his head away. His hands balled themselves into fists in anger, though the anger was more directed at himself than at her.

    She seemed aware that she had touched a nerve, for a few seconds later, she said, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. It was too personal.”

    He shook his head. “Don’t worry about it,” he said quietly. “It wasn’t your fault, I….” He shrugged. “It doesn’t matter anymore.”

    An uncomfortable silence stretched between the two while they struggled with their respective troubles.

    “Dol….”

    The two humans started as Claydol rumbled. Derek had forgotten that he was there, floating inches from him as he had talked with his patient.

    Derek glanced at Maressa. She, too, seemed to have forgotten the Ground type’s presence. He didn’t really want to go—she had turned out to be a lot more entertaining to talk to than he would have thought—but he knew that they had entered an awkward territory, and wanted to get out of that as soon as he could.

    Seeing this as an opportunity to take his leave, Derek stood up. “You’re right, Claydol, we should get back to work.”

    Ignoring the Pokemon as he blinked his several eyes in confusion, he turned to Maressa.

    “It was nice talking to you,” he said, ignoring the Pokemon’s protestant rumblings. “But we do have to get back to work.”

    She nodded. “I understand.” With a smile, she added, “Thanks for taking time to talk to me. It gets lonely real easily in here….”

    He turned away. “Come on, Claydol, we’ve got to take inventory.”

    The earthen doll let out a loud, aggravated rumble at these words. But as Derek walked away, Claydol followed, rumbling and groaning what Derek hoped Maressa couldn’t understand. As he shut the door behind them, he felt a twinge of pity, knowing that she was left alone with nothing but her injuries to keep her company.

    +++++++++++

    The door swung open easily as he gave a gentle push. Derek peered inside to see Tabitha sitting at his desk, his face hidden in his hands, his violet hair sticking out in several different directions.

    Tabitha looked up, and upon sighting Derek, casually said, “Come in. You can take a seat.” He gestured to the empty seat before his desk. Nodding thankfully, Derek sat down in front of him.

    “How is she?” Tabitha asked.

    “Maressa?”

    He nodded.

    Derek shrugged. “Not any worse than when we found her. Her leg is healing, though it’ll be a while before it’s back to one-hundred percent.”

    “How is she emotionally?”

    The question stunned Derek for a moment, but he replied, “She seems okay, not breaking down into hysterics or anything.”

    Tabitha nodded again, and lapsed into silence. His baggy eyes were glazed over as he stared at the corner of his desk. The lids of his eyes were drooping heavily, and his hair was unusually untidy.

    “Are you all right? You look like you need sleep,” Derek noted.

    Tabitha bobbed his head up and down. “I probably do, but I there’s stuff that I needed to get done. I’m leaving with a group of people tomorrow on a mission, and I’ve been getting everything ready for that. I’ve also been trying to reach Courtney for hours but she won’t answer.” He grimaced and passed his hand over his face, as though trying to rub the sleepiness away.

    Derek started. “You mean Crazy Courtney? Why are you calling her?”

    He immediately regretted his words; though he considered Tabitha a friend and would joke around with him, he realized that referring to a commander by the nickname the grunts had for her was probably a bad idea.

    His concern was needless, however. Tabitha merely smiled for a moment before replying, “She’s typically the one that interrogates any captives we have. The sooner we get something out of Maressa, the better.”

    Derek shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “ ‘Typically’? Has this happened before?”

    Nodding sleepily, Tabitha responded, “We’ve captured a few Team Aqua members, and once a scientist that we needed information from.” He peered blearily at Derek through squinted eyes. “Did you not know this already?”

    “Um…” The words struck a chord of familiarity somewhere in the back of Derek’s mind, but he couldn’t remember quite clearly. Giving a shrug, he said, “I think I was told, I just never paid any mind to it.”

    “Oh.”

    Silence stretched between the two again, but some shard of discomfort urge Derek to ask, “Why do you have to hand her over to Courtney? Didn’t you already interrogate her?”

    Tabitha shook his head. “I gave her an offer to join Team Magma. Maxie says that he prefers Courtney to handle these sort of things, so I’ve been trying to get a hold of her.”

    “What does she normally do to them?”

    “Whatever she wants. I’m not usually there to watch, but I know she likes to get her Ninetales to help her.”

    An unexpected anger rose within the medic. “If we’re going to hurt Maressa, why have you been having me treat her?”

    “When we first fished her out of the water, I was more concerned with keeping her alive, so I left her in your care. Unless there’s something you can do to her to make her stop recovering, I didn’t see any other options.”

    “She won’t just stagnate, she either gets better or she gets worse.”

    Tabitha shrugged. “Yeah, I’m sorry about that. If you want, we can move her out of that room and just lock her up somewhere. Or does she still need you?”

    Something about these words bothered Derek. He wasn’t quite sure what Tabitha meant, but he sensed that Maressa’s future wouldn’t be very pleasant. Deciding to appeal to Tabitha’s lack of medical knowledge, he replied, “I should probably keep looking after her for the next few days, to make sure her wound doesn’t get infected and she doesn’t get sick or anything.”

    Tabitha nodded, and rubbed his eyes hard. “Well, if that’s all there is with you, I’m turning in for the night.”

    Standing up to leave, Derek verified, “Is that all you wanted me for?”

    His friend nodded. “That’s it. Oh, by the way, do you like Soda Pop?” He gestured to a pile of cans standing in the corner of the little office.

    “Where did you get all of those?”

    “Some of the teammates were having a party and I confiscated them. I don’t drink it, but my Mightyena loves that stuff. You can have some to give to your Pokemon, if you’d like.”

    “Claydol doesn’t have a mouth, and Breloom’s hyperactive enough as it is, but I’ll see if Golbat wants any.”

    Picking up a can, he waved goodbye to his friend and made his way out of the office. As he walked down the corridor, his mind buzzed with questions and concerns.

    It’s happened before….

    So they had captured other Team Aqua members and interrogated them. Where were they now? Was Team Magma holding them somewhere, or had they been sent back to Team Aqua? If so, what did their own team do with them? Were they still allowed on missions, or were they regarded as useless? And what about Team Magma, had any of their members been caught by Team Aqua? Derek grew uncomfortable at the thought of his teammates lying in a dark room with little to eat, without their people or Pokemon. And as he thought about the possibilities Maressa might face, a chill crept down his spine.

    What is my team actually doing?

    ++++++++++++++++

    Maressa waited, her body growing tenser with anticipation every waking moment. Were it not for her overall weariness caused by the gash in her leg, she expected that she wouldn’t have been able to sleep.

    But Tabitha never came. Though she was certain that more than two days had passed, she was never taken from the room to be interrogated. She had asked Derek about it, but all he would do was shrug away the question and claim he didn’t know.

    Derek provided a surprising amount of comfort. Perhaps it was because he was the only living being Maressa had contact with, but she soon found that he was entertaining to talk to and be with. Whenever she heard footsteps sound in the hallway, terror clutched at her heart, but its grip always vanished whenever he appeared in the doorway.

    “But I need to get back outside,” she said one day as he sorted through bottles of liquids and pills. “I gain weight like crazy if I’m not actively working out.”

    Derek smiled skeptically as glanced at Maressa’s trim, athletically-fit form. “I’m sure you don’t.”

    Maressa lay on her back, hands on her belly a she stared disdainfully at the pale pudge. “I do, though. A lot of girls say that they’re fat and that they gain weight really quickly, but I’m one that actually does.” She huffed as she inspected her arms and legs. “I’m also losing my tan; I had to work for days to get rid of my tanlines and even out my skin tone. If I don’t get back outside soon and stop eating, I’m going to be a fat albino!” She covered her hand with her face as she lay on her back and let out a moan of despair.

    Derek snorted as he attempted to stifle his laughter. Restraining his emotions, he turned away and attempted to tonelessly answer, “We hardly feed you anything.”

    When silence greeted him, he thought that was an end to their conversation. As he turned away again, he indistinctly heard a muffled voice, filled to the brim with pain and desperation, exuding all the emotion contained within a female heart and displaying all of a girl’s worries as the teary voice strained out in agony, “I’m going to get a muffin top....”

    As Derek let out a burst of unrequited laughter, Maressa raised her hands from her face and gave a smile in return. Eventually, she descended into laughter with him, the room echoing with peals of their voices.

    The laughter soon died as she became grave, and doubt gnawed its way into her heart. Clutching her pillow, she raised herself to a sitting position. With her legs swung over the side of her bed, she gazed at Derek, her amber eyes reflecting the ambiguity and doubt that troubled her soul.

    “Do you know when they’ll interrogate me?” she asked tentatively.

    He wouldn’t be able to answer; he never was, but the question kept coming to the forefront of her mind, kept making her wonder and worry about what would happen.

    The smile faded from Derek’s face. He remained quiet for a moment, sorting through antidotes and medicines, his brow furrowed as he thought deeply.

    “You’re not supposed to tell me this, are you?”

    “No, I’m not.”

    Maressa nodded, her heart sinking as an awkward silence filled the space between her and Derek. The mirth that had pervaded the scene moments before seemed so far away and unreal now, and concern for what the future held weighed heavily on Maressa’s mind.

    “Tabitha’s not here at the moment. He’ll probably be back in about three days.”

    Maressa jerked her head up. Derek was still sorting through items, though he seemed to be doing it absentmindedly. Eyes downcast, he moved his hands slowly, concentrating more on his thoughts than on the physical world.

    Though the news slightly lessened Maressa’s mood, she was more shocked than relieved. “Why are you telling me this?”

    Derek stopped sorting through antidotes and turned to look directly at his patient. “You don’t really want to be a member of Team Aqua anymore, do you?” Unsure as to how to respond, Maressa didn’t answer. Derek pressed on, “I know that for a lot of people—you and me included—being with Team Aqua or Team Magma is just a job. We’re just trying to make a living to get by. Since you’ve been captured, Team Aqua might stop paying you, or….” A sort of solemnity overcame him as his voice trailed off for a moment, and a shadow cast over his eyes as he turned his head away.

    “Anyway,” he turned back to face Maressa, the darkness gone from his face. “I’ve seen people whose lives have been screwed over; they make one mistake, and suddenly they’re in situations they can’t get out of. They might do something stupid once and end up in jail for it. It’s just…” he rubbed his forehead with his hand. “It’s tragic to see how far people can fall after just one mishap. And I don’t want to see that happen to anyone, including you.”

    Maressa couldn’t find words to say, but just stared in Derek in mute surprise.

    “I know that as members of these teams, we spend most of our time running from the police anyway, but if either of us turns out to be right, then our teams won’t be illegal anymore.”

    Shaking herself out of her shocked stupor, Maressa pointed out, “If one of our teams turn out to be right, then everyone on the other team is big trouble.”

    Shrugging, Derek merely said, “The point is, I don’t want your life to be ruined just because you happened to be caught by the other team. It’s something that can happen to any one of us, and…” He shook his head and sighed. “Well, if you don’t really want to be part of Team Aqua anymore, then you’re not really our enemy anymore, are you?”

    “Just because I don’t agree with Team Aqua doesn’t mean that I agree with Team Magma. Besides, it doesn’t matter whether I want to be with them or not. I’m here now….” She cast her eyes downward, the reality of the situation pressing down on her.

    “I know. But if you manage to get back to Team Aqua without having told Team Magma anything, then they might let you still work for them.”

    Maressa looked up, hardly daring to believe Derek’s words. Her amber eyes stared straight into his chestnut ones, trying to make out any deception.

    “Would you really help me escape?” she whispered.

    “I might be able to do something.”

    Her heart soared at these words, and she could hardly keep a smile from coming to her face. All of her suspicion faded—she was already their captive. If this did turn out to be a trap, then how much worse could the situation it put her in be than the one she was in right now?

    Her mood suddenly dampened as she looked back at Derek. “What about you? If I escaped, then you would be charged for treason.”

    “Only if people knew that I helped you escape. It’s not as if I would go shouting something like that around for everyone to hear.”

    “Even then, you’re the one who’s supposed to be watching over and taking care of me. If I escaped—even on my own—it would be your fault for letting it happen. You would still get into huge trouble.”

    He shook his head. “Nah. Everyone would be upset at me, sure, but I’m one of only four medics on this entire team. I’m too valuable for them to lose. What would be my punishment—that I’m not allowed to heal their Pokemon anymore? No, the worse they would do is dock some of my pay. Even if it’s my fault that you escaped, I don’t think they would stop paying me completely.”

    Maressa turned her head away, contemplating everything he said. It was all too good to be true—she would get to return to her Pokemon, her friends, and wouldn’t have to undergo interrogation! There had to be some snag, something that wasn’t right—

    Derek’s words cut across her thoughts. “I’m just wondering how you’re going to escape in your current condition when we’re in the middle of the ocean.”

    Ah. There it was.

    “We’re in the middle of an ocean?”

    “Yep. We’re on a boat.”

    Once again, Maressa’s hopes were blotted out. She turned her head up at the ceiling, unable to think of anything else to say.

    “Don’t worry,” Derek told her. In spite of how bleak the situation was, his voice was hopeful and warm. “I’ll think of something. Or my Pokemon will. But either way, we’ll get you out of here.”

    +++++++++++++++++

    “Two days?!”

    Tabitha flinched as he held the receiver a few inches away from his face. As if Courtney’s voice hadn’t been shrill enough, talking over a phone made it so much worse.

    “No, I’m sorry, but that’s just not possible. My squad left the day before yesterday, and there’s no way I can get over there before the end of the week.”

    Putting the receiver back to his ear, Tabitha responded, “A week? But they’ll have evacuated their bases and relocated by then.”

    “Unless you planned on attacking Team Aqua the moment you had captured that member, then they would probably have evacuated already anyway. You know it only takes a few hours.”

    Tabitha faltered. “But the larger bases…”

    She cut across him. “Look, if it’s so important to you, why don’t you just interrogate her yourself?”

    “Maxie said that he would rather have you do that stuff.”

    “Yeah, he would rather have me do it, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do something yourself once in a while. Seriously, how hard can it be to threaten a girl who’s already injured with a bit more pain?”

    “That’s not the point—”

    “Really! It’s not hard to get information out of injured women, they—” She suddenly stopped, and though Tabitha was curious as to why, he was grateful that the auditory onslaught ended.

    “Oh, wow,” Courtney said softly.

    “What?”

    “You just want me to do it because you don’t want to hurt a woman.”

    “Wh-What? That has nothing to do with this!”

    “Come on, Tabs,” she egged. “Every time I ruff you up a bit, you never hit me back. I always thought it was because you were too much of a pansy, but now I see that it’s because—well, no, it is because you’re too much of a pansy.”

    Tabitha let out a slow breath, fighting to keep his temper down. She was trying to get a rise out of him, he knew, and for that reason he couldn’t afford to get angry. “First off, don’t call me Tabs or any variation of it. Second, don’t call me a pansy. Third, I haven’t interrogated the Aqua member because I haven’t had time. My squad was heading to the islands in the south when we met up with the Team Aqua group. Even when I told Maxie that we had captured a member, he said to just keep up with the mission, get you to deal with her if you had time, and worry about her later.”

    “Mmm. I guess he expected me to have my mission finished sooner.” Tabitha heard her sigh. “Things here haven’t been going so well; it’s a lot slower than I would have liked it to be, and it looks like I won’t be finished before the end of the week.”

    Tabitha frowned. “What are you doing over there?”

    “We’re in Rustboro, and we’ve been exploring and studying the caves around here, since the rock here is some of the youngest in Hoenn. But there’s a tunneling project going on nearby, and it’s been upsetting the wild Pokemon and causing them to go berserk. We’ve been having a tough time getting anything done.”

    Tabitha sighed. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait to get information out of the Aqua member.”

    “You could always let someone who isn’t you or me deal with her, you know.”

    “There is no way in hell I am going to let one of the grunts try to deal with something this serious without one of us there. Half of them can hardly put up a decent Pokemon battle….”

    “Aw, cheer up. She’s not going anywhere; she’ll still be there for when you go back to deal with her, and the information she has will still be useful for us. Besides, even if it’s not, we can always use her as an example! Listen, I need to get back to work.”

    He nodded. “Right. But,” he added as a last thought, “Do you really have to talk to me like this? Can’t you and I be more professional with each other?”

    “We can be more professional with the grunts, sure, but with each other? Come on, Tabby, I’ve got to have someone to have fun with!”

    Tabitha sighed and lowered the phone as he heard a click from the other end. He looked over at his bed, where Mightyena lay. One of Mightyena’s back legs was moving in slow, circular motions, and his nose was twitching. Occasionally, he would let out a small whine.

    Tabitha smiled as he sat on the bed and rubbed Mightyena’s shaggy black head. “You and I both have a lot on our minds, boy. But don’t worry, everything will be all right.”

    Soon, the Pokemon stopped his restless moving and finally drifted into a peaceful sleep. Tabitha leaned back, his thoughts turned to Maressa.

    Courtney was right; with a hole in her leg, no Pokemon or teammates, and locked inside a submarine, there wasn’t much chance of her escaping. And she had Derek watching over her.

    At least his Pokemon are decent battlers, he recalled, thinking of how Breloom had so effectively fought when they had captured the Aqua member. He had given Breloom back to Derek as soon as the battle was over, but he wished that he could have fought with Breloom a bit more. If only more people on our team had Pokemon that could fight as well as that.

    She’s safe where she is
    , he told himself. In spite of all these assurances, he couldn’t help but feel anxious and worried, as though he couldn’t believe Maressa was really theirs unless he could see it with his own eyes.


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

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