Reviews for Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rebirth
TehSammichMan chapter 12 . 12/12/2016
This chapter, in particular, got me thinking more and more about the growing bond between the members of Team Phalanx. Even Flame points it out himself, noting how he found helping his comrades in day-to-day survival and simply being part of the team taking precedence over figuring out his own past.

While on the topic of his past, I can't help but make the connection between the comparatively more advanced technology Flame was predisposed to. The ironclad ship in his memory points to the possibility he's not from Urbe altogether. My major guess pertains to the portal storms' being a rip in reality, possibly a bridge to other worlds. It would make sense, considering the Scum in particular, show up out of nowhere, usually accompanied by the anomalies with, as pointed out in this chapter, 'mothers and children'. While the story hints at their being from the northern Wasteland, something seems off, especially how they speak no coherent language. Hell, if it's true, which is a long shot, maybe Flame was even once a part of them.

I also took special interest in the Admiral's journal. This 'Vulcano Isle' seems incredibly important, possibly foreshadowing the appearance of legendaries later in the novel with mentions of 'divine activity'. The fact they mention their 'Benefactors' in the same section alludes to the possibility those responsible for the explosion at Vulcan Isle (divine power) has influence on the government. Given the description of 'flying beasts', accompanied by the location, my prime guess is Moltres.

Of course, that's all speculation. I tend to not be very accurate with matters such as this.

It was a great read, and very intriguing. I hope to see the continuation of this cliffhanger soon enough!
Ralmon chapter 12 . 12/12/2016
This chapter is quite suspenseful. Lots of mysteries. Feels like something is definitely wrong we just don't know what.

As for flaws… uh… I have nothing. This is quite well written. If I really had to bring a complaint then I would point to the structure of the story. As a Novel, this is quite good. It would be a very enjoyable read while curled up on a comfortable chair in a corner.

As a serial fiction, it doesn't fit very well. The story doesn't consider the natural break in each chapter (and the wait for each chapter). The previous chapter for example ends in a sour note, while this chapter ends in a rather forced cliffhanger.

However, that is not really an issue with the story but more of the way the story is published. The story itself is really good.
Zion of Arcadia chapter 6 . 12/11/2016
This review might not be top notch, because I read this chapter a while back and simply couldn’t find the time to write out my thoughts. I skimmed the chapter but I didn’t want to procrastinate any longer, so here goes nothing.

More strange dreams on Flame’s end. I’m not sure if they’re actual memories or if Flame has been making things up, like he suggested in a previous chapter. It seems as though someone is bringing him somewhere? Humph. Too vague to infer much else, I think.

Gaius and Flame’s relationship still puzzles me. I can’t quite put my finger on why. It almost feels too friendly, given how awful Gaius is to Flame. I’d be curious to learn how Gaius and Alice ended up working together. That said, at the moment, it feels like Flame will take almost anything as long as he gets to spend time with Alice. Perhaps that’s part of his reason for tolerating the grovyle. And, if he’s anything like me, his unwillingness to bring up the alcohol conflict has more to do with distressing Alice than the actual dynamics of the team. But that might just be me projecting, haha.

Virgo and Yvaine are curious. I actually liked Virgo at first, and was a bit surprised at Flame’s hostility. He seemed loud and boisterous and interesting. But my opinion of him steadily declined as the chapter progressed, and now I get where Flame is coming from. If that was on purpose, good job, if not, you might want to go out of your way to make characters meant to be obnoxious, more obnoxious right off the bat. Yvaine seems to hold her cards close to her chest. It feels like she knows more than she lets on, although that might just be a result of her aloof nature.

I noticed you used a decent number of parenthetical observations in this chapter. Have you done that before? I can’t remember. It happened enough to stick out, though. Don’t really have a negative or positive comment about it, so, uh, yeah (aren’t I great at reviews?).

It looks like we’ve got a mission to take out some Scum. I’m still not sure how they differentiate Scum from non-Scum. With humans you could tell due to coloration, height, clothing, language, etc., but in this case? There are so many different species of Pokémon and it seems like everyone speaks a common tongue. But I could be wrong on that front and I’m sure more will be elucidated as the story progresses.

This chapter REALLY highlights the disconnect the Empire has with its citizens. From the opening snippet, to Virgo complaining about Team Phalanx’s map, to Virgo stealing someone’s beer, and to the fate of Sperantia Nova itself, it all showcases how out of touch so many pokémon from the south are.
I don’t know if it’s intentional, but apparently Sperantia Nova means something along the lines of “New Hope”. You could almost argue that the destruction of Sperantia Nova is a sign that any hope pokémon had in the Empire has long since faded. Hope has been lost. If that’s on purpose that’s very clever on your part.

As for minor criticism, I thought the anger of the Pokémon in the bar could’ve been showcased better. I like the mob mentality aspect, but the dialogue came off as almost – whining? It reminded me of Gaius, when he talked about how southern Pokémon took everything from him. His grievances are real, but the way it’s expressed takes away from what he’s trying to convey. But with Gaius I’m confident it’s on purpose. Here? I feel like you want us, the audience, to take the side of pokémon of Sperantia Nova.

Flame’s apologizing for every little thing hit home for me. God, I do that all the time. I would’ve been so embarrassed if Alice called me out on it, personally. I feel like someone like Flame or myself say “sorry” as a sort of defense mechanism – this idea that yeah, we screwed up, we recognize that fact, please don’t hate us, it’s not intentional, oh they’re okay with it, they don’t hate us, crisis averted. It’s like a fucking security blanket, haha.

I also liked Flame’s ruminations on how boring nature can be. I tend to find it dull as well, much more interested in getting lost in my own thoughts, where I can think and do whatever I want. Move aside, laws of the universe, you don’t apply here. My only critique was that he described it as a sort of madness, which seemed like overkill. Tedious, yes. Inspiring boredom, sure. But madness? As in, insanity? Bit overboard there, Flame, don’tcha think?

And we end with a mystery dungeon and what looks like a… duskull? Dusknoir, maybe? Scum, or simply wild? This should be good.
Zion of Arcadia chapter 5 . 11/28/2016
There were quite a few adult themes expressed in this chapter. I have to admit, not something I would expect out of a PMD fanfiction. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it makes your story unique, but it’s still jarring. A lot of it has to do with my own headcanon regarding pokémon though, I think this is an interesting way to take the story.

Looks like Team Phalanx has been drafted into a B rank mission. It has to have something to do with Flame, I bet. Or perhaps the contents of that journal they found? Did any of them ever read it? I can’t recall. Still, I’m intrigued to learn more. Looks like we’re going to be participating in an intense mission, and that’s exciting.

“An impetus to show Gaius how wrong he was. It only”

What? The sentence just stops there.

You use the term “people” from time to time. Generally I think associate the word with “human”, although I suppose the definition could be shifted to include pokémon. A nitpick, of course, but I jotted it down because it pulled me out of the story’s flow.

Them foraging for food when they have money bothers me. Budget your money, sure, but to straight up avoid using it? I dunno about that. They work such a physically taxing job as it is. Still, the continued emphasis on food scarcity really does hammer home how bleak their lives are. I also liked Flame’s observation about crowds. I, myself, cannot abide crowds, or even large groups of people.

And then the Gaius reveal. Oof, I’m having a difficult time finding anything redeemable about the grovyle. His excuses really grated on me as well. I work in an ER, and I know his type. The epitome of unpleasant. Still, overcoming addiction could provide a great character arc for Gaius, if that’s where you’re going with him. He also is implied to be an excellent thief, so it seems likely our reptilian friend was raised in poverty.

I’m glad Gaius’s behavior was enough to incite anger from Flame. It was more than well-deserved. We finally got a moment where Flame decides to fight back, and although he’s not a great fighter, his natural fire affinity gives him an automatic advantage over Gaius. The scene in general was very well done, you managed to capture Flame’s clumsiness but he didn’t get utterly pummeled, either, and refused to back down. It was a well struck balance.

We meet Virgo and Yvaine at the end. I wonder if they’ll be accompanying Team Phalanx on the B-rank mission? Both seem like potentially interesting characters, as well as a chance to learn more about the imperial army. Cool.

Aaand more references to sexuality. I'll admit it, reading about pokemon centric romances makes me feel a little uncomfortable. You handle it well, though. It's a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, and it makes sense in the world you've created. Keep up ze good work.
Zion of Arcadia chapter 4 . 11/26/2016
Now that I know you’re Italian, I’m seeing the Roman Empire connections everywhere. Everywhere! The Scum have to be the Germanic tribes, yes? Or perhaps the Huns? And Urbe must be a Rome equivalent. I wonder… is the Empire on the precipice of civil war? Conditions certainly seem poor. This is all very fascinating to me. I’ve always found the crumbling of superpowers to be interesting.

The Portal storms are important. I can’t quite place their purpose in the story yet, however. They could be an addition to all the misery, but I feel like there’s more there to dig into. I’m not quite sure why they’re called Portal storms. A portal is defined as a gateway, entrance, opening, so the storms, perhaps… lead somewhere? Connect to somewhere else? Another plane of existence? Are we talking multiverse? A Portal storm occurred when Flame came into being, so perhaps he was transported here through the storm. We haven’t seen any other signs of strange Pokémon, although that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

I feel like, if any legendary Pokémon is connected to these storms, it has to Palkia. It has to be. It makes so much sense to me. Storms make a lot of people think of rain, and Palkia’s a water type. There’s also the fact that Palkia manipulates space. The other possibility is Hoopa. That is if my theory about the storms are correct. They may very well not even be connected to a legendary/mythical Pokémon at all. But where’s the fun in that?

And there’s that word again. Ascension! This is all about the rise of Christianity, isn’t it?! Haha. Real talk, ascension is defined as, “the act of rising to an important position or a higher level.” That sounds a lot like evolution! The Pokémon version, that is. I don’t know enough, yet, though I went back and checked the bit from the Breloom’s journal. It really does sound like he’s referring to the Paras/Parasect for most of his rambling. Unless the Paras are connected to the mystery dungeons which are connected to the Portal storms... okay, overthinking things. Let’s move on.

The reveal that Ariel keeps slaves actually stunned me. I did not anticipate that, although in hindsight I should’ve. I don’t know if this will be expanded upon, or if it’s meant to showcase more of the current society’s deep rooted underlying issues, but either way, it was jarring enough for me to note it. I’d love it if we could get a former slave in the squad somehow.

Alicia and Gaius keep mentioning how hard of a time they have completing missions. I’m curious if this is an issue that plagues most teams, if they’re just unlucky, or if it’s due to the incompetence I perceived in earlier chapters. I’m not so sure that observation is true anymore, and instead they’re being pinned back by an unfair system. There was so much luck reliant on succeeding their mission and mystery dungeons seem like utter hell to complete in this world. Hrm.

Alice’s lack of limbs gets brought up again. This intrigues me. We don’t see a lot of characters in pmd stories with a body type outside that of the general humanoid. Alice has spent all of her life limbless, but she also lives in a society where a large majority of Pokémon have limbs of some form. At the same time, there’s such a wide variety of body types and structures to Pokémon, you think they’d find ways to account for Pokémon like Alice. Nevertheless, this is such a neat detail and I’m curious to see if her self-consciousness regarding it is built upon.

We end with Flame’s “lie”, which I put in quotation marks because Flame tends to overreact to everything, and I’m having a hard time taking his dilemma seriously (at the same time, I empathize, because ouch, so many of his moments are painfully familiar). And yet we keep coming back to it. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to take it seriously? I don’t know where this plot thread is headed, if it’s a joke, a character quirk, an important emotional beat, or what. It’s just kind of… odd. No matter. Keep it up! I’m off work this weekend, so I’d like to try and finish what’s up so far. I really enjoy the world, characters, pacing, and tone you’ve established so far. It’s official, this is going in my favorites!
ArbitraryRenaissance chapter 6 . 11/20/2016
Pardon the lack of organization in this review: I wrote it over the course of a couple weeks and it ended up being a bit all over the place.

''' Alice half-whispered, her features not any less drained than his, '''
You tend to do these double negatives kind of frequently. I don’t like it. You're forcing me to make some mental leaps whenever you do them, and it disrupts pacing. In other words, I can't read this sentence and immediately tell you what it means. My brain has to go, "Okay, so...her features aren't LESS drained, so...they are MORE drained or equally drained? Yeah, that sounds right." Why don't you just say, "She looked as tired as he was."?

''' The sight must have brought a few lingering memories back to mind, seeing that, from then on, Flame felt Gaius' eyes burning into the back of his skull, as though imagining it an ideal target for practising his leaf blades. '''
If Flame didn't/doesn't tell Alice about what happened, I'm going to be very upset with him.

''' "It's nothing important..." Flame hesitated and glanced behind him, checking instinctively for Gaius' reaction, "The two of us discussed a few things, and we had a disagreement. There was—" '''
...

...

...

Dammit, you were doing so well, too.

''' Telling her that Gaius was draining their finite, precious money on alcohol would almost certainly cause an argument, drive the two of them apart—possibly fracture the team! '''
Flame, you are enabling an

ABUSIVE
BUSIVE
USIVE
SIVE
IVE
VE
E

RELATIONSHIP
ELATIONSHIP
LATIONSHIP
ATIONSHIP
TIONSHIP
IONSHIP
ONSHIP
NSHIP
SHIP
HIP
IP
P

I know you're not exactly fully informed about the contents of this team that you're on, but I don't think Gaius can afford to leave it, and I don't think he has the audacity to kick you off of it just yet. You cannot fix this problem by keeping it between yourself and Gaius. Tell Alice about it.

Although, perhaps it would be better to do it privately.

Alright, I'm going to pull back on line-by-line commentary and provide a bit more broad stroke stuff as I read.

Virgo is a strange character to say the least, although I'm a bit bothered by how harshly Flame views him. Maybe it's just because he's trying to steal his girlfriend Alice, but he's being incredibly hostile. I mean, yeah, he's a jock who's clearly trying to out-"man" everyone around him, and it can get a bit annoying hearing his unintelligent and garish banter to more reserved minds. But there's no need to fire back internally or externally every time the guy opens his mouth. Loosen up, Flame.

The crew handled the situation at the tavern very poorly, in my opinion. The villagers were battered and broken and the crew should have expressed more sympathy than they did. Instead, they spent too much time defending their honor and the honor of Civil Protection. The problem with doing this is that it's completely in their right and reason to agree with the villagers here. They can be a part of Civil Protection and simultaneously think that the higher-ups are doing a shitty job at organizing things. They could have (and should have) said, "Look, I'm sorry that nobody was here to help you when you needed it. If we had known about what was going to happen, we would have gladly shown up to help. But what happened happened: let us help you now while we can."

I'm still keeping tabs on Flame's character. Last chapter, he gained the trait "Wroth," and I found that to be an unusually desirable trait for him, if only because it provided him with his long-needed spine. He stood up to Gaius when he was drinking away their money. He shoved his middle finger up Virgo's asshole when he was messing with him. In multiple instances, he had fairly aggressive internal knee-jerk reactions to other comments that Virgo and Gaius alike made in his presence. His tolerance for others talking shit to him has dropped significantly, and he's obtained the willpower to act on that intolerance.

But at the same time, he still exhibits some serious internal conflict that burdens him quite substantially. He has a low self-esteem, and continues to see himself as inferior and weak whilst in the presence of his companions. He blames himself on a lot of things going wrong in his life, and he apologizes frequently enough for one of the characters to actually call him out on it. This is a part of him that I never liked on a personal level, perhaps because I've gone through the introverted mindset of being insufficient in the eyes of my peers, and I've learned long ago how to conquer those internal reservations. But no matter what the cause, I've always been bothered by this aspect of his. Whenever that mindset invades his internal monologue, I feel the need to shake him and shout the right answers to him.

The thing is, in my eyes, these two traits don't seem like they can be mutually inclusive. You can't be capable of standing up for yourself against personal attacks when you yourself are guilty of consistently attacking yourself. If you think yourself an idiot, then why would you get upset with someone when they end up calling you an idiot? Aren't they just making a sound observation? Aren't they just being fair? Aren't they agreeing with you, whether they know it or not? It seems to me like insults to character against low self-esteem individuals will do less to them than the typical person, but Flame's reacting quite bluntly to such insults. Perhaps this nuance is more or less complicated than I'm making it out to be, and that I have a poor interpretation of the way people behave. But these two personalities of Flame just don't seem to sit well next to one another in my eyes.
Zion of Arcadia chapter 3 . 11/18/2016
Gelid? Gelid? I swear, you and Arbitrary aren't actual people, but walking thesauruses (thesauri? thesaurusus? lol). Haha, I jest. Kind of. Speaking of Arbitrary, I got the 40th review on his story, and I believe the same will happen for this one, unless someone ninja!reviews me. That better not happen, my OCD would be very unhappy with me.

So! Chapter 3 mostly details Flame exploring a dungeon for the first time. I liked the theme of decay that appeared prevalent throughout the mystery dungeon. I'm not sure if it's just this dungeon in particular or all dungeons ever that have that fetid atmosphere, but it contributes a lot to the sense of misery.

It's unfortunate Parasect aren't stronger Pokemon. They are creepy motherfuckers, that's for sure. Stuff of nightmares.

This chapter could also be titled: Flame Bumbles About Some More and Accidentally Sets Stuff on Fire. It's a bit lengthy, but no matter. Flame is still far and away my favorite, but I also like the chemistry he has with his teammates. Their interactions are fun to read. I'd kind of hoped when Gaius predicted the Pidgeotto coming back, it actually decided not to return. That would've been hilarious.

I wonder if the Breloom was referring to the Parasect and its brood? Or something else? What is Ascension? Curious. Seems like a potential new plot thread. Keep up the good work.
Zion of Arcadia chapter 2 . 10/23/2016
You had me at budget cuts.

Seriously, I like the importance you've placed on food and money in this world. It feels very real. Gaius yammers about money throughout the chapter, but the scyther blowing up at Flame over food really goes a long way to emphasize its importance. They're to the north, right? I imagine it would be tough to grow food there.

Also, this episode gave me a reason to take interest in Gaius. He seems rather incompetent, which I wasn't expecting but which I quite like. The natural progression of the story may very well involve Flame taking over as leader of Team Phalanx. He'll have to get a fair bit more confident before that happens, though. I have to admit, I both chuckled and face palmed when Flame didn't quite connect the dots and began to panic that he was a criminal. He eventually figured out Team Phalanx's plan though, which was good, as I'd otherwise suspect our charmeleon friend was more than a bit dense.

There's also mention of an imperial army. In general, the story is giving me a Roman Empire vibe. Seems like a cool setting and we still haven't figured out who the Scum are (makes me think of soccer haha). I'm starting to wonder if they're rebels/a nickname for a neighboring army or foreign power? They were able to identify that Flame wasn't one, so there must be some sort of signifier.

I thought it was a little weird Flame knew what a rescue team was, and also that he didn't find it odd that he knew this obscure information. There were also a couple messy sentences, but on the whole this was well written. Ariel also seems cool in that hardass boss sort of way, although I may be blinded by the fact that she's a haxorus and they're one of my favorites.
Zion of Arcadia chapter 1 . 10/23/2016
Hello. I like this first chapter. It's a good start.

Our three main characters are all very interesting and distinct in personality. I like Flame a lot, his awkwardness and general confusion feel very organic and unfortunately familiar. The choice to go with stage 1 evolutions also intrigues me. I have this image in my head of Flame and Alice flying through the sky together as a dragonite and charizard and it's a pretty cool image. Alice being nice but ultimately going along with Gaius, who seems like street smart jerk, is a pretty cool character trait. Really I feel Gaius is the weakest of the three as I don't really see a spin on his archtype the way I do with the other two, but it is only the first chapter.

It appears we've set up Scum as some sort of negative force in this world. I'm curious to learn more about them. There's also the implication that Flame might be Scum? Does this mean they're corrupted pokemon? Gaius mentions a portal storm, which I was surprised Flame didn't remark upon, and I guess that's linked to Scum in some way? You do a good job setting up these mysteries and I very much want to learn more.

I don't really like the quote you used to open the chapter. It's just vague enough that it doesn't make much sense to me. The violence of birth is rebirth? Huh? Or are we reborn through violence? It's not very clear and there's not enough context to infer much else. That said, I enjoyed the scene where Flame was "born" and you do a good job portraying the struggle. Although some of your descriptive sentences tend to be very passive. Something to work on. Active voice is imperative for action and descriptive scenes, in my opinion, because it helps the ideas you're trying to convey pop in a concise manner. If that makes sense.

My other main complaint is that while your prose flows well for the most part, you tend to sprinkle in words way above vocabulary level of the rest of your writing. The two big ones that took me out of the zone were immane and colossi, they feel very archaic and jarring compared to everything else. Gnarling is another one that I would consider changing, because the first thing I think of is a tree rather than a barking dog, whereas a word like snarling evokes that image in a far clearer manner. This is, of course, my opinion, but it took me out of the story so I felt it deserved mention. The other solution would be to up the rest of your prose to a similar level, but that would make it a very difficult and dry read for the primary audience of ffnet.

That's about it, I think. I'm interested to see how Flame gets out of his current predicament. My guess is Alice intervenes, but we shall see. Keep up the good work.
ArbitraryRenaissance chapter 5 . 10/16/2016
''' Ariel was about to continue, when she suddenly locked gazed with Flame. '''
I think you know what the issue here is.

''' Flame took a few seconds to elaborate the meaning behind her exact wording. So ... she doesn't get to decide whether to fire us or not? I think that's what she said... '''
uuuUUUUUUUUUU Flame, you are one clever little lizard!

''' But it seemed that as of lately the only thing he was good at was buzzing them with questions. '''
So...do you think they'd rather you not know? If you stop asking questions, you won't get any answers.

''' "Yeah, well, we've only ever attempted one," Gaius countered, "And there's a reason for that! What makes you think that we'll have a better chance now?" '''
Because you've got Fla-hahaHAHA! Whew, I just cracked myself up.

''' "Well, first of all, it's not just the two of us this time." she pointed the tip of her tail at Flame. '''
OH MY GOD SHE ACTUALLY SAID IT! I CAN'T STOP LAUGHING!

''' Although they were ultimately truthful, he still would have preferred not to hear them be uttered. '''
You should prefer, instead, to not suck.

''' "How so? We've barely racked up enough money to keep our mouths fed for a few days, so stocking up on orbs and seeds isn't really an option. Also, we still have those berries left over from our last mission." '''
Oh, man. Gaius, don't make me pull out some opportunity cost computations on you, because I WILL develop a comprehensive mathematical model detailing precisely when it's a good idea for you to invest in orbs and seeds if you push me.

''' "That's what I was thinking. Leave the prole parts of town to me; you know how easy they are to mug. See you at sunset." '''
You fucking high-nosed patrician. "Yeah, we've got money, but let's steal from the poor instead." Seriously, Gaius, I will write a paper on the basis of rationality for your investments here! Push me much further and ShadowCreeper is going to get a multiple paged PDF on this.

''' Flame bore a deadpan expression as he processed her words carefully. His teammates were looking for food amidst garbage. Sure, the possibility of this being the case wasn't entirely foreign, but to hear it with his own ears was a completely different thing. '''
What the fuck are you going to spend your money on, then?! Oh, that does it. I'm opening up LyX.

''' I realise that we could in theory afford better food, and that this practice isn't exactly what you would call 'classy', but it has to be done. '''
I CAN MATHEMATICALLY PROVE TO YOU THAT IT DOESN'T! Eating well boosts morale and physical health. According to my models, if investing in a small meal boosts your probability of succeeding in the mission by a mere 3%, then it's worth it to buy some dinner.

''' They didn't deserve this. He needed to prove Gaius wrong, and he needed to prove Alice that all her trust in him was not in vain. It was the least he could do. '''
AARGH! I shouldn't have done the math. Now I'm gonna be screaming at the monitor for the rest of the chapter.

''' "You don't have to do it by any stretch of the imagination. The payout from our recent victory serves as a backup, so if worst comes to worst, we still have something. But still, if the occasion presents itself, think about it." '''
No. Don't think about it. If you can't find anything, then beg. If they don't give you anything, then return empty handed. If you want any sense of moral credibility, then you do not overstep your bounds and injure or threaten to injure others. That wrong under all circumstances.

''' Freightened as they might have been of the recent portal storm, life had to continue as normal. '''
Frightened?

''' "Oh, it's you. Quit shouting, this is none of your damn business. Tell me, rather, what the hell are you doing here? Weren't you out looking for food?" '''

''' Quit shouting, this is none of your damn business. '''

''' none of your damn business '''

...WHAT?! You're spending his money (and it's Flame's money just as much as it is Gaius's) and it's somehow none of his business? Oooh, I'm glad I did the math. The irrational frugality now makes perfect sense.

''' "You haven't seen what the world out there is like. You don't know how hard it is. The stress, the constant worry for survival. A 'mon needs some time to get away every now and then." '''
Dude, he already almost died!

''' After a few minutes of his anger outburst Flame stopped, chiefly to regain his breath, ignoring the sore cuts in his scales and reserving the Grovyle a look of enmity. '''
I would say that the rational choice at this point would just be to walk away, but I don't think so. Gaius is faster than him. He won't be able to get away in time. He has to confront him now. At this point, one of three reasonable things could happen. 1: Gaius gets too injured to fight and Flame gets away with the money, in which case she can explain to Alice what happened before Gaius comes around and dismantles the team. 2: Flame gets too injured to fight and Gaius gets his money back. No way in hell are they gonna be allowed to stay in the bar, though. Flame might limp off to Alice and be able to explain what happened before Gaius gets back, maybe not. 3: The police show up to break up the fight before either Pokémon can injure the other too much. They're arrested and the dispute is resolved come morning. In any case, Flame can't make the situation any better for him by just leaving. Perhaps he can give up the bag and leave to tell Alice what's happening but...I really don't want him to do that. I don't want Gaius to so irresponsibly keep spending their money; it's completely unfair to Alice and Flame. He needs to be put in his place.

''' Now that he pondered on it actually, neither of the combatants were ever trying to seriously incapacitate the other; they were both merely conveying their internal stress onto somebody else. '''
Aww, they weren't? That's...oddly disappointing. This was kind of a big deal. Gaius was being genuinely irresponsible. Fucked up all my math too. (For the record, you might be surprised to hear this, but if Gaius did waste money like this, then it actually has no impact on whether or not they should invest their money in dinner, since it doesn't impact the dynamic values of expected earnings.) It's okay for Flame to feel the need to hurt him here.

''' Why were these strangers asking so many questions? '''
Hypocrite.

''' If it were for him, he would have burnt the insinuating slug to a crisp. '''
*weren't. Also, whoa, someone's in a bad mood. What happened to the pathetic beta of a Charmeleon that couldn't be bothered to imagine himself as anything more than a pile of garbage?

''' "Listen," Flame sighed, his claws clasping together as to disguise the quivers running through them, "I would rather not talk about this, okay?" '''
Well, the bashfulness still seems to be there a bit. All you needed to say was "He was spending what little money we had stupidly and I wanted him to stop before he wasted it all."

''' "Don't tell me you're one of those southern prudish types! Maybe you just need some encouragement. Next time, I'll run along and point you to some of the good stuff. Chars, gabs, eons, you name it. Maybe you're into dudes? Just say the word, and I'll find the right material." '''
This is escalating very quickly, Flame. There's no good answer here; just try and steer things a different direction. (Psst! Try and figure out what he means by "chars," "gabs," and "eons" if you can. I'm morbidly curious.)

''' With that offer arose a very subtly temptation to accept, far in the back of his mind. '''
Wrong spelling, my dude.

''' Then again, his idea wasn't all that bad... '''
Oh my god, the mad man, he's actually gonna do it. To the library, with haste! (And godspeed.)

***

You're making me feel all the right emotions here, ShadowCreeper. I sympathized with Flame's demoralization as he scanned through the garbage, I flared with anger as he did when we discovered Gaius's secret, and I was giddy with immaturity when the ending conversation with Virgo was carried forth. Good job, dude.

I'm really warming up to Flame now. Bless him; he finally found his spine. All he had to do was witness some stupidity for him to call out. I'm still bothered by his incessant need to never ask anyone any questions ever unless he absolutely has to, but aside from that, I'm starting to actually like him.

You've got me interested now. I'm eager to see what happens next. Before, I was having a tough time getting through the chapters because I couldn't find much to interest me, but now that I'm engaged in the story, reading through this is much more enjoyable. This was a great chapter, and I hope I'll enjoy reading the next one.
TehSammichMan chapter 11 . 10/15/2016
Welp, here we are again… Sorry for delaying this review for a few days.

As always, I enjoyed reading the chapter. I really respect the setting you’ve created, along with your extensive use of vocabulary in the writing. Both attribute to the overall enjoyability of the story greatly. I appreciate the vivid scenes in which the story takes place.

As for what happened in this chapter, a lot has to be covered. First off, this chapter in particular, above others, really outline the class difference in society, and how the government seems to be twisted for the aristocracy’s personal gain. You tend to outline, however, the struggles of every rank in society; both extremes are covered. While there may be an antagonist from Team Phalanx’s perspective in the form of Ariel, the government, etc, I find no true antagonist (minus the Scum), thus far.

I was happy to finally hear Alice’s backstory, or at least a part of it. I always found it odd a Dragonair, part of one of the higher-class evolutionary lines, was doing in a place such as Aesernia.

I had an inkling, which may or may not be correct, about the reference to the grievances of walking in this chapter. I'm hoping, in the future, if evolution were to take place, that Flame would find solace in being able to fly/transport the team in a fraction of the time.

On the topic of Aesernia, while I feel at odds with the proles, seeing their hate towards Civil Protection, I can’t help but feel bad, as the story outlines, about the fact they abandon them completely. Another part of me, however, appreciates the change in scenery, even if Team Phalanx had been on an expedition only the day before.

And then, onto the topic of Livia. I can’t quite discern if Flame was being flirtatious with her based on pure instinct, or on complete accident. The writing points to his nature being a mistake, especially in his invitation for her to join him in the tent, but other lines, such as when he calls her voice soothing, notes otherwise. Maybe he was just trying to be polite.

(Either way, Alice and Flame is the OTP, so Livia can go do whatever the hell she wants)

Speaking of those two, I enjoy seeing Flame’s integration into the team is going well. The fishing scene is a perfect example, seeing as his teamwork with at least one member is almost perfect. Gaius’ opinion of Flame hasn’t seemed to improve from the last chapter, but I suppose that’s because no big change in Flame’s character took place.

It’s good to know they can find their own food now, and are set for at least the next few days. Maybe they might even make some money off of future Magikarp they find. I would’ve been slightly ticked had they accepted rations as reward from the mission in the last chapter.

All in all, it was a great read, and I’m looking forward to how the story progresses from this point. Keep it up!
Ralmon chapter 11 . 10/13/2016
If I'm gonna review this, then it would be very similar to my previous reviews.

The characters are still solid and the character interaction are still interesting. The setting and atmosphere are all well described and the prose is still good.

But then again, the story still is drifting. It is not going to any particular direction or development. It is very Slice-of-Life with its lack of coherent plot or conflict or focus to plot and conflict.

And we also are introduced to another character to add in the already large menagerie. You better have perfect memories to remember all of them!

********

A nice chapter to read for its characters and atmosphere. Not for the adrenaline junkies. But for people who love to linger and dawdle, this chapter is for you.
UnholyPens chapter 11 . 10/13/2016
Well, her's to another good upload. I don't need to say much regarding changes and whatnot, seeing as you've already got people that seemingly do that for you. But the scenery was nice, and lots of things fit in well. Ariel's speech really showed off just how little she cared, but you could tell she was pressured by Sycorax being there. I can't think much about the chapter right now, but my favorite part was definitely the part where Flame and Alice were fishing. Very good chapter, can't wait for more.
ArbitraryRenaissance chapter 4 . 10/5/2016
''' The waning sunlight brought some relief to an exhausted Flame, who sat with his back rested against the rocky facade of the imposing cliff side that he and his teammates were resting. '''
It should be "...the rocky facade of the imposing cliff side on which he and his teammates were resting."

''' A cloth band tightened its choke around Flame's injured thigh, eliciting light hisses of displeasure through his teeth. '''
So, the cloth band is eliciting light hisses through his teeth? That's a pretty neat cloth band. (You've got a dangling participle here.)

''' He noticed that his entire body was one big knot of tension; he granted himself a liberatory breath. '''
You're making up words now, aren't you? You want "liberating" here.

''' Finally he was outside, he mused with a smile, he'd officially made it through his first trip in a dungeon, he'd helped his— '''
This is a run-on sentence. If you want my honest opinion, what I'd do is toss out "he mused with a smile" and end the sentence: "Finally, he was outside. He'd officially made it through his first trip in a dungeon, he'd helped his—" If I wanted to add the smile detail. I'd do it in the prior sentence: "he granted himself a [liberating] breath and smiled."

''' Even with the many lessons learnt from the experience, there was one thing he'd utterly failed to do: helping his teammates out. '''
Tisk tisk. I'm only a page in and you're already up to five errors. "helping his teammates out" is a gerund when it should be an action. It should be "help his teammates out." This rule's a bit more complicated; not even native speakers really know it, considering how nuanced it is. If you want, I can detail it to you in a PM.

''' With a defeated sigh, Flame plopped himself down in the roughly elliptical-shaped room, '''
First of all, the common adjective form of "ellipse" is "elliptic." Secondly, "shaped" is an adjective. Adjectives don't modify adjectives: adverbs do. It should be "roughly elliptically-shaped room," or, if you think that's too wordy, you could do "roughly ellipsoidal room." (You could also do "roughly elliptic room" but that's mathematically incorrect since the room is a 3-dimensional object and ellipses are 2-dimensional. If you said "roughly elliptic," I'd start wondering what its coefficients were. (My guess is y2 x3-x1))

''' Flame let his eyes slide shut briefly as the bitter truth finally presented himself to him, as obvious as it was disheartening: Gaius simply didn't trust him yet. '''
Last time I checked, YOU don't trust yourself either.

''' thermae '''
Yup, you're Italian. Even I had to look this one up.

''' In a matter of seconds, a sickening tentation swept over Flame's body, overriding any trace of common sense left in its wake. '''
What is a tentation? Do you mean "THE sickening TEMPTATION"?

''' God knows what would happen to us then. '''
GAWD? Who's this Gawd you speak of?

''' "Relax. I'm sure ... um ... Ariel is going to do something about this." '''
Wait, Flame never met Ariel. Her name was barely ever mentioned in front of him either.

''' Gaius decided to split off from the two of them to claim their reward, as well as a few other things. '''
This sentence structure implies that Gaius will be claiming other things on top of their reward.

''' "Hmm? No, we're not. The money from this one should last us a small while, so I think we can afford taking a day off." '''
You might as well get more money if you can. It seems like there's not much security in this profession, so make hay while the sun shines.

''' Flame really wanted to say something else, but his mind was refusing to cooperate. '''
This is probably just me being socially awkward, but Flame is not the first person to have told me that this frame of mind before, and...I just don't understand it. If there's nothing that you want to say, then why do you want to say something? I don't know; maybe he just wants to pass time and doesn't find that his own mind does the job well enough.

''' "Flame, you need to stick close to us when we're inside one of those places." '''
HOL UP HOL UP HOL UP HOL UP HOL UP! "Well, the fact is, all pokémon who want to explore a dungeon are taught to never venture off the main pathways, seeing how dangerous it can be. So in a way, if you hadn't broken that rule, we would be going home empty-handed right now. In that sense, yeah, I'd say you did good." Is that your prose, Alice?

''' "You think that one hour walk and back was exhausting? Try doing eight. Treehound Cove is the closest dungeon to Aesernia you can get." '''
I'm with Alice on this. A one hour walk is an endless trek? That's like, 3 miles.

''' Flame rolled his eyes for dramatic effect, retaining his smile. "My goodness, I can't wait..." '''
I'm not gonna lie: it seems like genuine fun, provided I have good company to walk with. It's a little adventure each time. A part of me wishes being a part of a rescue team was a genuine career choice. Heck, if they provided me with shelter and food like they do in Explorers, and if there was money on the floor of the mystery dungeons, then I'd do it for free.

''' Flame shifted his gaze between the two pokémon. He only possessed a rough idea of which state the team was in before his arrival, but the look on their faces suggested that a huge weight had just been moved off their back. '''
And yet...before taking the job, Gaius was complaining that the reward was too small. You two don't really have a good grasp on opportunity cost, do you?

''' Anyway, Myco also said that we pass by his office later on. '''
You've got the subjunctive mood here. It should be "Myco also ASKED that we pass..."

''' "Productive? Like...?" Alice inquired, confused at the vague terminology. '''
Ooh! Ooh! I know! ...Sleep.

''' Among other things, it stated how the fire on top of his tail was essentially his life force, and that he ought to be extremely careful not to extinguish it forcefully. Submerging it in water, for example, would lead to feelings of extreme pain, hypothermia, loss of consciousness, and eventually—a shiver ran up his spine—death. '''
From one "Char" family focused fanfic writer to another, you may be interested in knowing that I have a LOT of the biology behind Charmander, Charmeleon, and Charizard already worked out in my head and on paper. And you're already contradicting my headcanon here. Not that I'm too bothered: anyone who's gone into as much detail as I have in outlining their organ structure will come to different conclusions as I have: but I thought I'd let you know. If you're interested, I can share what I've come up with with you.

''' Spread across its surface was a fair sized map, representing the outline of a rugged peninsula enclosed by the sea on all but one side. '''
Let me guess: It's the North side.

''' Walk up to them and confess that he'd actually lied about his birthplace? That would incinerate all of the precarious bridges that he was starting to form with his teammates, and he'd be back at square one. '''
You don't know that. Honestly, I really don't think they'd mind. They kinda forced you to give an answer in the first place.

''' "Nothing is—!" '''
Way to go. By trying to make yourself appear less deceitful, you've made yourself appear deceitful. You know what tends to make people trust you more? Telling the truth. Stop with the petty and useless lies and be up front about this. Everyone and their grandmothers know that you're only perpetuating a problem that will only get worse with time. Even if it'll do damage, cut your losses and turn in your chips. It's not worth the melodrama and internal strife.

~~~

Alice and Gaius's response to Flame's collapse at the end of last chapter has dissolved my suspicions that they're bad Pokémon. I had a feeling that the Sitrus Berry wouldn't be sold in the end, but I wasn't expecting them to have to use it so suddenly. I'm sure Gaius was disappointed that he lost the potential for money by selling that berry, but the fact that he, too, exercised decorum is indicative that they're starting to acknowledge Flame as a valuable individual worthy of being saved. I'm never going to completely trust that they're on his side, but for now, it seems like they're cool.

Why is everyone so secretive? It's not just Flame who's reluctant to be honest about the fact that he's not sure that he's from the south. Alice and Gaius seem to insist on not telling Flame anything. "Hey, why is the burrow so big?" "Just trust me, okay?" ... "Don't go outside, please." "What? Why not?" "Just because. You don't want to do it." ... "So, what's this 'Scum' that you keep referring to?" "...Fine, I'll tell you." Like, it's not like these are particularly damning secrets or anything. They have nothing to gain by holding information back.

I'm still not quite on Flame's side yet. I'm starting to relate with him, and he's starting to develop a bit of personality, but he's still defined by his over-all stench of self-loathing and weak-mindedness. He's relying on empty compliments to keep him from slipping into straight-up depression, and he's beating himself up over his own personal mishaps while simultaneously expecting more of himself.

Now, this doesn't necessarily extend into a criticism of the story itself: it's just a criticism of Flame's personality. I don't like him right now; he needs to alpha the fuck up or start giving me something else to latch onto with him...

...However, in this case, I AM going to extend it into a criticism of the story itself. Main characters: while they don't need to (in fact, they shouldn't) be perfect: should have something that the readers like about them. Being self-destructive in and of itself is not going to make many people like Flame. As a matter of fact, it's going to make it more challenging to make Flame likable. You can do it: you just need to add more to him. Give him more goals, more as
ArbitraryRenaissance chapter 3 . 9/24/2016
''' The pax will go on indefinitely, and we will not stop until the tenats of our knowledge have spread to every last inhabitant of this world. '''
Tenets, my boy. The word you are looking for...is tenets.

''' No, he quickly concluded, it was much more reasonable that it had been simply the work of his scarred psyche, a fever dream hastily glued together to try to fill the gaping void left behind from his amnesia. '''
This is arguably a run-on sentence. I would put a period after "concluded." It also feels more natural to have "been" and "simply" switched around.

As an aside, I like Flame's reasoning. His brain is in denial of the fact that it lost all of his memories, so it's going "Wait, wait, wait! This is-no, there's totally some memories here-yeah, look at this one! See that? Whoa, that was pretty cool, wasn't it? Oh-hey, there goes another one! Aw, you just missed it, but it was-it was definitely there. Haha, see? I can do my job. You can rely on me. Please don't kill yourself."

''' "You're up already? I was going to give you a little extra time to sleep for today, but it seems like you've already adapted to our schedule. That was much faster than I expected." '''
Man, don't you hate it when you wake up before your alarm goes off, and then then your alarm goes off earlier than you told it to because it noticed that you woke up? Like, come on! I was GOING to get up, but now that you're making assumptions about my life choices, I think I'm going to go back to sleep just to spite you! ...Damn it, I can't sleep.

''' "Gaius passed by the registration office earlier. He told me to give you this." '''
I read that as "resignation office" and got very excited.

''' Then, looking down at her rucksack, she proceeded to reach its flap opening with her tail – a process simultaneously clumsy and slow. '''
I just realized you're using en-dashes. What gives man? Are you too much of a weakling to embrace the bulky, sexy em-dash?

''' It took her several minutes of teeth-gritting and meddling with the tip of her tail before she managed to lift the flap and actually keep it still. '''
Hey, Flame, how 'bout you help the lady out? You got thumbs, don't you?

''' "It's in there somewhere. Take it." she said meekly, motioning to the bag with a jerk of her head. '''
This is exactly the type of thing we like to avoid. If you were up front about it and just said, "Hey, I can open it for you if you want", then you wouldn't have had to watch her spend so much time pridefully making a fool of herself.

-Wait! Several minutes?! You watched her struggling for several minutes? And you didn't bother to speak up? For god's sake, Flame, this isn't even a matter of gentlemanliness. This is a matter of not being a zonked out troglodyte and actually making yourself appear decent in front of others.

''' 'Tis a conglomerate of various regional task forces, each of which has its own sphere of influence where it operates. Task Force Aegis, as you might have already guessed, is tasked with defending the northern provinces of the empire. '''
Yay, minarchy! (it's not feudalism I swear. Please, it can work, all you need to do is NOT start warring with one another)

''' He felt tempted to ask her, but figured that they probably didn't have much time left to chat—the thought somehow left him disappointed—and his many questions would end up dragging the conversation on for too long. '''
Oh hey, em-dashes. What are ya doing, shadowcreeper? You ain't being consistent. Is there some underground dashing system that you've adopted from the monks of Dolomite caverns? Have you got some interesting explanation for this seemingly inconsistent structure that I've never heard of before?

''' Oldspeak? As in, an ancient tongue? '''
I don't know, man, it's all Greek to me. (See what I did there? Aren't I clever?)

''' "As soon as we're outside, we'll see if we can find something to fill our stomachs with. Does that sound good?" Alice compromised, an unspoken invitation not to feel bad for himself. '''
In his defense, he's only consumed about 100 calories of food in the past 48 hours. I'd be complaining too.

''' She had already done so much to help him; who did he think he was, making such demands of them? '''
Yeah. Like, she got him out of prison (she put him in prison), and she, uh...gave him an apple (he couldn't get any food beforehand because he was in prison). And she got him a job (the job offer was a ploy for personal gain and probably won't do Flame any good). So...yeah, that's like, maybe $4 worth of charitable action if you fudge the numbers a bit.

''' "Today's another one of those days. Everything I've looked through is either off-limits because of our rank or it pays so little that I wonder what those guys who commissioned it were expecting." '''
C'mon, Gaius, this is basic economics. There's clearly a high supply of Task Force members, which means the supply curve is relatively far to the right. The further to the right the supply curve is, the lower the equilibrium price and the higher the equilibrium quantity. Do you want graphs of this? I can give you graphs.

[Okay, it's 2:00 a.m. I'll finish this tomorrow. Hopefully the sporadic nature of my tired mind doesn't show too much with these little commentaries]

[Okay, it's 2:00 a.m. again, but this time it's the week-end. Back to reading!]

''' "You know there's not many who can offer large sums of money anymore." Alice pointed out with pity, "We can't blame them for trying to get by." '''
Oh my god, there's been a gradual leftward shift in demand too? Honestly, Gaius, what are you thinking? The people who are left to do these tasks are the ones who are still willing to accept the low pay. There are few people asking for expensive services and many people willing to work for a cheaper cut. You know what happens? Prices fall. It's not them being unfair to you; it's you being stuck in a saturated market.

''' "Twelve thousand?" Gaius said uncertainly, "That's barely enough to last us a week..." '''
Well, it's a good thing it won't take you a week to do it, now isn't it?

''' Flame drooped. How could that be possible? Such a big number, how could it amount to so little value? To avoid plaguing himself with yet another unanswered question, he quickly settled for asking Alice about it later. '''
God-damned Federal Reserve with their inflationary monetary policy. Whoever runs the coining commission should really read some Milton Friedman's Monetary History of the United States.

''' Sure, Alice did reassure him that her and Gaius would teach him through the process, but what meaningful use would they find in having to drag an inexperienced recruit like him around with them, needing so much precious time and resources and giving back none? They'd sooner abandon him on the side of the road and try their luck alone. '''
I KNOW! Alice sure was a genius to drag you along, wasn't she? She can't even properly exploit others for her own benefit, the mad woman!

''' The gecko climbed the plant with ease, '''
Calling a Grovyle a gecko is kinda like calling a Blastoise a turtle. It's right, but it doesn't elucidate the best image.

''' He almost felt ashamed at the thought of how, before now, his only real aim to set his life straight, to receive decent enough food and shelter to keep himself afloat as he tried to search for clues about his past. How selfish he was being! No, he couldn't reason with that frame of mind anymore. It was his rightful duty, he felt, as a member of Team Phalanx to repay those that had allowed him to even become such. '''
Holy shit, are you serious? C'mon, at least wait until you have something to give back before you ditch the self-interest narrative. At least wait until you've given yourself a wool coat before you let the sheep herders come and shear you down to your bare skin. This mentality of yours will drive you to anxiety and depression if you're not careful, Flame. Because in the process of trying to repay those around you, you're going to realize how little you're capable of repaying.

''' was a set of pure-white marble stairs that jugged out of the layer of dried mud and leaves, and extended all the way to a thick aggregatation of the local flora, whereupon it blurred out of sight. '''
They go UP? Up to a basement floor?!

''' "Where do they even-" '''
Get an em dash in there!

''' Alice shook her head as if to say 'Why thank me? It's a pleasure to help you out." '''
That's how we Americans say thank you. "Hey, thank you for helping me out back there." "Uh, huh."

''' "You weren't even trying to strike back! Listen, I think it's coming back around; one flamethrower and you can bring this fight to an end... Gosh, do I need to be the one to tell you?" '''
That shit takes resources, man! He still only consumed about 100 calories and he probably spent at least half of that walking and running around.

''' Regrettably, she advised him to try and keep a distance from any sort of fighting for now, and to instead remain safe in the sidelines while he slowly assimilated tactics and behaviours to mimic from watching the two of them—combat experience, she had called it. '''
Sorry, Alice honey. You don't learn to fight like that. You learn to fight by FIGHTING. Getting better at melee combat requires extensive drilling and extensive getting the shit knocked out of you. It's at least 98% kinesthetic; you can't just watch some choreography and become better. You need to know what it's like hands-on. There's no other way.

~

Another top notch chapter. As I think you know, nothing mentioned above is literary criticism in any way-unless if you think my opinions are a product of what you believe to be poor writing. But in that case, you should know that my brain's different from that of others and it tends to interpret these stories somewhat strangely. Anyway, I think I'm about to reach the character threshold, so
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