Reviews for Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rebirth
ZiraDakota chapter 25 . 6/15/2020
It's so wonderful to see another chapter from you!

This chapter spanned the gamut from tense to heartwarming. The same could be said of Flame's relationship with Gaius, who still doesn't quite seem to trust Flame, but he seems to be slowly coming around. Flame's relationship with Alice is as heartwarming as ever, and it's touching to see how it's progressing. It's good to see the team back together.
Guest chapter 25 . 6/12/2020
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rebirth / Chapter 25 % Speedrun done in 2 days and 12 hours. Keep up the great work.
The FieryCharmeleon chapter 25 . 5/28/2020
I remember seeing this chapter on my notifications since it came out. However, a huge spike of bullshit arose on that day, and its still on going. A another side note, been burnt out from fanfictions for a few months lately. Hard to even read others fanfictions these days. Though, probably another reason I rarely read anymore is because I love music and my house is loud 24/7 these days.

Well anyways, hows the chapter? Well-

Overall, while not up there with Apex, Diagnosis, and Gloria, I very much enjoy the more light hearted tone of this chapter. After doom and gloom surrounded me, this was the chapter I really needed. Just a chapter where Flames hangs out with his friends while handling only a minimal amount of stress of what's to come next in the future.

Probably the highlight of this chapter was the discussion of Portal storm by Flame and Alice with growing concern about the fact that the portal storms are occurring daily rather than yearly. The scene only grows stronger the more it goes on, as Flame and Alice.

Also, I almost forgot, but at the start, I recall Flame getting renamed, am I correct? Is that even brought up again? Because, Alice and Gaius just revert back to calling him Flame again.

Another thing that honesty surprised me was the fact that Team Phalanx completely shook the Empire and Scum from their tails on this chapter. And to top it off, they reached their dream location as well that they were trying desperately to reach for the past several chapters. Yeah, both gave me quite the shock. Ain't anything terrible though, like I said, it'sjust incredibly fun watching Team Phalanx just being together. They're characters are so dynamic that it just makes every conversation memorable.

That'll be all for today. It's late here. Cheers and Congrats on writing twenty-five chapters for this story, along with this story being over five years old. That's some dedication there and you should feel really proud of yourselve for making it this far.
Killswitch123 chapter 25 . 5/23/2020
The Gang’s all here and what’s that? Stuff is going their way for once? UNHEARD OF! Happy to see this posted loving this story my dude!
rkscythw chapter 25 . 5/22/2020
aaaaaaaaaaa
the band is back together and they're all made of cute
Flame, call your dad
great chapter :3
rkscythw chapter 24 . 5/2/2020
I hope you're doing ok, seeing as your country was hit hard :(
I reread this for the first time in a few years, and I was happy to see a few more chapters.
I feel sorry for these three and look forward to more in the future.
It'll be interesting to see how Dusknoir will get out of this situation, and how Sycorax/Dragonite will deal with the Teutonii.
Also big wet hug, I love all three of them
Your account details say the next chapter is ready to be posted, and I hope to see it soon if you're able to, if not I hope you're doing ok.
3
SparklingEspeon chapter 23 . 3/18/2020
Review of Chapters XIII - XXIV

Gud storie plz update



But no seriously. This story is addicting. Plz update soon. :D

I’m not sure what my thoughts on the Boreal Chasm mini-arc of the story are yet. On one hand, it’s typical of the world that Team Phalanx lives in to throw them into a dungeon like that and leave them for dead, and it’s very obvious how important this was for Gaius’ character arc, so that he gradually stops being an asshole and doesn’t murder Flame off-screen or something. But on the other hand, while this is ultimately beneficial for Gaius’ state of mind, it’s meaningless torture for Alice and Flame, especially as dragged out as it was. I’m not sure I see the point, other than ‘break Gaius down enough to the point where Flame has to save his life’. I could maaaaybe see it being a way of just having them hit rock bottom, but how much further are they going to go? They’re already destitute. They dig in the trash for food. They basically screwed over their future teammate just to get a mission reward. And now they’re about to freeze to death in a mystery dungeon they were forced into because a hundred rabid pokemon chased them there. It feels like the universe needs to just throw them a bone at that point. The entire ordeal really should have ended for them with that escape orb, not with them all collapsing in a dungeon to die and *then* being saved.

It may be temporary, but I do not mourn Ariel losing control of Task Force Aegis in the least. Pokemon were starving in the streets under her rule and she had a hot bath and almost *four hundred* slaves. She was horrible at that job and does not deserve it at all. The only question left to be seen is if Sycorax’s actions after declaring martial law will ultimately pan out to be worse.

Speaking of Sycorax; I wonder where it stands on this, though. On one hand, it’s a ‘diplomatic unit’, which makes it an ambassador and clearly from the other side. (‘Diplomatic’ Unit is rather ironic; considering it’s a war general.) On the other hand, it seems genuinely as confused about the portal storms as everyone else in Aesernia is, even going so far as to theorize in front of Ariel. Unless it’s some type of method actor (Which; being some form of sentient A.I. I doubt), then I think it was programmed to (A) know only as much as the pokemon of Aesernia know about the war, and (B) follow all orders from the Presence indiscriminately. But it’s not privy to any of the Presence’ intentions. Which makes me wonder which way it’s going to swing if/when it figures out what is going on. I’m *kind* of leaning towards it swinging over to the Presence’ side since it hasn’t shown any emotional attachment to the pokemon of Aesernia (Or emotions in general), and will likely follow its programming over that. Unless someone mucks with its programming…

I don’t think I’m ever going to get why Team Phalanx hates Virgo and Yvaine so much. Again; there don’t seem to be any reasons besides ‘Flame doesn’t like Virgo and Gaius hates everyone equally’. Even when they were working for Sycorax I doubt they had the first idea of what Sycorax’s intentions were. Especially given Yvaine doesn’t sell Flame out despite having ample reason/time to do so. Virgo is somewhat annoying and that’s pretty much where the reasons to hate them end.

Interesting that the first Eevee Evolution that showed up in your fic was a Teutonii leafeon, and the next one that shows up is a Teutonii Flareon. And then the next one that shows up is a Teutonii Jolteon. And so on… I wonder if all nine will show up in the Teutonii at some point?

Flareon Cameo 2/9

The Teutonii are interesting. IDK if they’re being completely on the level with Flame, though. I wonder who the original ‘Daedalus’ was.

Jolteon Cameo 3/9

IDK if I trust Brynn yet. It just seems so obvious that she’s in love with his status and not Flame himself… And if she *is* infatuated with him, it still has something to do with his status. I have no doubt that she’s plot-important, though, if only to serve as Daedalus’ way of getting Flame back later. It doesn’t seem like a love triangle, since Flame never even considered having a relationship with Brynn in the first place, so it would just be Brynn stalking Flame and probably ticking both him and Alice off if it ever happened. Also, first Gen VI-plus ‘mon! :D I do wonder if that female charmeleon is going to come back, though. It seemed like such a weird thing to throw in there if it wasn’t important, so I’m very very sure that ‘The Brother’ is due to come back at some point. Unless Flame is like possessing his body or something? But that doesn’t really seem to fit the tone this story has going for it and the other charmeleon would have recognized him for sure.

Vaporeon Cameo 4/9

Daedalus speaks about a villainous ‘Presence’ that is encroaching upon the world. Several things don’t add up. There seem to be points where he is literally contradicting himself and then blaming Flame’s confusion on his amnesia. For instance, he mentions that ‘both of them came to this world’, suggesting that they came from the same place that The Presence did. But later, he says: “Whether we were born into captivity or prevelated as kits by the enemies imperial collaberators, ultimately, it doesn’t matter.” Therefore suggesting that they were born in whatever world Aesernia is located in. (He then later changes this once again, stating that their captivity later took place in the *other* world, meaning Aesernia couldn’t have had anything to do with it.) Later, when Sycorax steps in in Chapter XXIV, it pokes some more holes in Daedalus’ story. It reveals that Daedalus is a ‘traitor’ who broke off due to what I’m guessing is an internal schism of some sort within the Presence. Daedalus previously claimed next to no knowledge of the Presence and its positioning inside Aesernia. I am very sure he is hiding something from Flame, if only for the fact that Flame might abandon them completely if he gets the feeling they’re not as innocent as he currently believes. (He does this anyway.) Furthermore, his name; Daedalus, means ‘the craftsman’, and Icarus, his son, tried to escape confinement using ‘artificial wings’ and drowned. Which makes me wonder if Daedalus has some more stake in this than he’s admitting. He may have even worked for the Presence at one point, and just doesn’t want to tell Flame yet.

I think Daedalus provided enough clues to hazard a pretty good guess toward what ‘the Presence’ are, though. My theory is that they are Humans.

Something that interested me about the Presence is how everything associated with them has a common theme of technology – their ‘gift’ to Aesernia is a glorified robot. In chapter III, Flame dreams about bombs falling. Daedalus claims that The Presence torched an entire continent by ‘raining fire’ from ‘their steel ravens’. Military aircraft and bombs. Torched either to win over Aesernia’s allegiance or because they wouldn’t submit as easily as Aesernia did; presumably. Portal Storms only started appearing around the time that the Presence shows up, as Daedalus claims and Emperor Adrian kindly all-but-confirms for us in his meeting with Deoxys. Where do things sucked into Portal Storms go? No-one knows- presumably why it’s called a ‘Portal Storm’. Daedalus mentions a ‘Gateway’ in chapter XXI that he and Flame both use at the same time – the Portal Storms presumably work as a conduit.

Tie this to the fact that they live on an island they have fenced off to all but incoming supply vessels. The fact that they need supplies. The fact that they are using their cunning to dupe Aesernia, but their technology to destroy to Teutonii lands— suggesting that there are no supernatural powers at their disposal, only artificial ones. All the legendary beasts *shown* in this story have been technological/extraterrestrial, like Genesect and Deoxys. Meanwhile, all the legendaries used in swears or sayings still amount to ‘Arceus/Mew’, implying that they’re a different group entirely. Their end motives – enslaving the world’s pokemon – have a scary resemblance to what humans have done in actual history upon finding foreign groups of people.

With all that in mind, my current theory is this: At some point, humans invented the Gateway, which allowed them to cross over into other dimensions. The other side of the Gateway manifests as a Portal Storm (Or perhaps the Portal Storm manifests as a repercussion of the Gateway’s use); written off as a new natural phenomenon. Their discovery: An entire primitive world of elemental creatures, ripe for the picking! Greed overtakes them. How can these creatures be used to better the human cause? There’s only one problem: entering the Pokemon World means obeying its laws, and humans can’t enter without forfeiting the human form (or perhaps dying if they don’t assume a pokemon form; although that’s just baseless speculation on my part). So the humans work with it. They make tweaks to the Gateway, which allows them to enter as the most powerful versions of pokemon possible. And then they begin their conversion/enslavement process upon the pokemon of the pokemon world. Aesernia is malleable and bends to their will easily; The Teutonii do not. Fearful for the loss of their potential new line of resources, the humans decide to eradicate them all. Pokemon powers are not up to the job, so they bring in human artillery, bomb the entire continent, and keep Aesernia in blissful ignorance. This causes a schism, comprised of the people who later become Daedalus and Flame VS the rest of the people in charge. Both Flame and Daedalus – for reasons currently unknown – are both major pieces on the humans’ side of the board. Unauthorized, they both use the Gateway to enter the pokemon world, but because of their abnormality it does not work for them like it worked for all the others— Daedalus suffers minor memory loss, and Flame suffers major memory scrambling. Although both of them presumably possess something that the humans can use in their favor, Daedalus knows enough to spurn them and is discarded as ‘worthless. The hunt narrows its gaze to Flame. Soon after the torching of Camp Tempest Flame’s identity is brought to the human’s attention, and Sycorax is assigned to retrieve him. The plan almost works, but to no avail— Daedalus gets ahold of Flame first. The next five or so chapters are spent as a mind game: If Flame is the winning piece on the board, then whoever makes him submit to their propaganda first wins. This comprises the entirety of the conflict in chapter XIV. Neither do. Flame runs off with Gaius and Alice, thus becoming the board’s rogue piece. Now, both sides’ winning prospects are up in the air, and a dual mon-hunt on a mass-scale is about to ensue.

I don’t think it’s weird that Flame can understand the language of Aesernia— Daedalus mentioned a ‘major linguistic change’— which likely means that either they’ve adopted the human language, or changed their language enough that the humans can understand/adapt it. Neither Alice nor Gaius are forty years old; I think, so they would definitely have been born in the ‘new age’, as well as basically all of Camp Tempest and probably everyone who’s a major character in this story. Even Ariel seems like she’s on the lower side of thirty. What seems odd to me is that the Teutonii speak german; another human language. There’s been an explanation for Latin, but not one for German being in there and that interests me. Especially since the German that you’re using – what looks like the Modern Dialect – is far, *far* newer than Latin is. Which leads me to believe that this is another Presence-imported language, but then the Teutonii must have ticked off the Presence if they were eradicated like that? Seems odd they would keep the language, unless it had already been engrained in them by this point. But then you have to wonder what got them wiped out in the first place…

Alice always was a bit formal, so I can believe that she’s royalty. What I’m wondering is why she was thrown out of Urbe. Initially, I assumed from a few things that she said that she was an illegitimate child and therefore couldn’t ascend to the throne, so she was removed from the capital to preserve order (And presumably, keep her life). But then that comment on dragonair being able to fly was brought up, and Gaius saying that it was basically real. I could see this just being ignorance all around, but at the same time Alice seemed less like she was trying to convince someone that dragonair didn’t fly and more like she genuinely believed it. Which means that either she’s convinced herself that dragonair don’t fly and is probably a bit crazy as a result, or there’s another reason she was booted from Urbe. (I don’t think she was illegitimate either, because all her siblings are dragonair too and she is illegitimate, then so are they; I would think.)

Sycorax mentioned to Ariel back in chapter IX that female pokemon aren’t usually allowed to ascend into the army/political system all that much, so now I wonder: Was this the reason for Alice’s booting? When that scyther seems to recognize her she mentions in prose that it was about ten years back, so that means she may very well have been the eldest— and therefore the child that would ascend to the throne bar any male heirs (Which; at the time, there probably weren’t). Aesernia couldn’t bear the thought of there being an Empress/A false Emperor, so to save Alice Adiran had her shipped out of Urbe and all the way to Task Force Aegis instead. Then Demetrius was thought of, and obviously he’s being groomed to be the next Emperor, which might explain why he’s being treated differently than all his sisters. It probably isn’t because he’s shiny, otherwise he likely might have met the same fate Alice did.

…Is it because he’s male?

Side note: I’ve noticed that names in this story usually mean something. Sycorax refers to a character in a Shakespeare play, who performed magic so strong she could allegedly control the moon. General Sycorax in this story is a marvel of engineering bestowed upon Aesernia; so strong and alien no-one really knows what it’s capable of. Phalanx is a military position. Team Phalanx has a heavy – if unwanted – involvement with the Aesernian military. ‘Gaius’ is latin for ‘finding pleasure/meaning in something’. Gaius’ character arc seems to be finding meaning in life where to him, there previously was none. Alice means ‘of nobility’. Alice in this story is unquestionably of nobility. Daedalus was the roman idol of crafts. Daedalus in this story is building the Teutonii back up from sticks and stones, all under the emperor’s nose. Flame’s alter ego – Icarus – is the son of Daedalus, who tried to escape imprisonment using artificial wings, but failed. Flame – presumably – tried to escape his captors using the Gateway, but something went wrong for him and he essentially got mindwiped. Demetrius is derived from ‘Demeter’, which means ‘Pledged to Demeter/Earth’. I wonder what his involvement in the story will be. Emperor Adrian seems to rely on him for a lot of the economic aspects of things.

So, some general thoughts:

Something I’ve appreciated very much about this story ever since I started reading it is that you have the ability to toe the line between Dark and Edge, but never really cross too far into either. There’s a fair amount of both, and instead of clashing they work together to build a dark but also realistic world for your story; contrasted with the bright, most-of-the-time perky characters you have. And indeed; it’s your characters that make PMD: Rebirth work. It’s why you can have several chapters of Team Phalanx laying low in a glorified refugee camp and not have your story get boring. Why readers don’t get bored, even though it takes roughly twelve chapters to get the plot moving. Why, after the Battle of Camp Tempest the falling action isn’t boring to read. Why you can get away with so much darkness in the first place. You’ve accomplished something that most writers never really do with all their writing: making readers love your characters. Instead of things like Team Phalanx’s initial jaunt through a Mystery Dungeon in Chapter III, things I’m probably going to remember from this story are rare scenes where Team Phalanx gets to be themselves and goof off, or the imposing and ruthless nature of General Sycorax. And even though the story seems to be in the middle of another ‘calm period’ right now, I doubt you’ll be losing readers anytime soon.

Overall, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rebirth is a surprisingly dark and mythic take on the PMD universe. Instead of using the canon PMD lore it opts to take on real-world parallels, and creates a world in which pokemon are suffering from many of the things that affected real people in the past (And still do today and in the future). Its characters immediately grip readers and pull them into a mystery that spans entire cities, continents, and perhaps even entire dimensions, all while providing A slickly-written read that both entertains, saddens, enlightens, uplifts, and horrifies readers at the same time, as well as making them think as they rifle through its many, many layers; should they care to search that deep. Although a slow burn and likely to remain that way, PMD: Rebirth possesses the necessary tools to keep people reading, and likely will all the way through the end.

Until Chapter XXV!

~SparklingEspeon

Listening to: Road to Chicago - Thomas Newman
ZiraDakota chapter 24 . 3/1/2020
Congratulations on another great chapter!

I liked how you showed just how much pain that Flame's plan to flee the Teutonii was causing him at the beginning of the chapter. I'd be feeling pretty awful about doing such a thing myself if I were in his place.

It was great to see Team Phalanx reunited. I laughed when Alice called Gaius a leafhead (I'm a terrible person). And that ending was absolutely heartwarming.

Again, a great chapter!
SparklingEspeon chapter 12 . 2/13/2020
Review of chapters X - XII

I have returned :D This story was due for another review anyway. I'm interested at the developments that take place in these three chapters, especially chapter XII. It seems that now pretty much all the necessary exposition is out of the way- we know what Aesernia is, We've been to Urbe and seen the emperor, we have a pretty good idea what Scum and Portal Storms are, and we've been through no less than two mystery dungeons by now. It seems about time for the story to start chugging forward, and that's exactly what happens in this set of chapters.

As I mentioned in a previous review, one thing you're really good at is portraying what poverty looks like. I don't feel bad for Flame when he steals the cheese because I know that for him the alternative is probably eating cheese mold and fish bones out of the dumpsters of other pokemon's dumpster, and it's genuinely heartbreaking to read about characters getting excited about actually being able to eat for breakfast and dreaming about one day being able to afford things like beds. It's the little things like that that make it all pop more than the big things like Ariel's fancy villa right in the middle of slum-town (Which is *definitely* getting burned down/occupied), and I think you nailed that with flying colors where a good amount of other authors would have fallen flat.

On a lighter note, I wonder if Kecleon's exists in Aesernia. Like maybe as a southern merchant in Urbe or something. It doesn't really fit the tone from what I've seen so far but it might be a fun reference to throw in there.

So there were things that I liked about the army raid section of the chapters, and then some things I didn't really care for. The things that I liked mostly came down to 'you portray what it's like to live in horrible conditions without crossing the line into Fantasy Edge', but one of the things that kind of bugged me was how... flat Absol was. It felt like the entire time his one primary character trait was 'I hate civvies', and he even goes so far as to dump 6000 poke on the floor just to humiliate them. Aside from the general thing of 'I don't think anyone can walk into Camp Tempest and not immediately feel sorry for anyone who lives there and isn't Ariel', I get the feeling that's he's just taking it so far that messing with Team Phalanx is genuinely more important to him than apprehending that combusken is. Although he doesn't seem to take his job very seriously anyway, but that's only my opinion.

Gaius is... definitely a character, lol. It's like, he's a total *asshole*, but at the same time it's nearly impossible to hate him for some reason, and he does have his nice moments (Like when he hands off that scarf to Alice). IDK why but he's quickly rising in my roster of 'characters I like'.

I didn't feel bad at all when they didn't share the fish with him, though.

The earthquake is freaky. I wonder if it's connected to the Portal Storms and the Mystery Dungeons as well. It seems like all the presumed 'Scum Weapons' manipulate the weather in some way- Portal Storms are apparently like airborne tornadoes, Mystery Dungeons are Mystery Dungeons, and now earthquakes large enough to level entire towns now exist. IDK if the Scum control them, though, since they seem to be fleeing downwards instead of actively trying to conquer anything. And now that it's been mentioned that Scum are trying to leave the mountains instead of violently occupy, my current standing theory is that there's something up north the Scum are fleeing from, and that thing is responsible for all the portal storms and mystery dungeons and earthquakes. TL;DR: PMD White Walkers probably exist. Fairly fitting for a fic that seems to share much of its tone with Game of Thrones anyway.

I don't think Flame is the brother. He's just setting himself up to be disappointed by assuming that, even he tries to convince himself it's not true by the end. I'm wondering what you're going to do with Livia though. She's clearly a Chekov's gun of some kind, although whether what she's being set up before is connected to Flame's backstory is still up in the air. In a story this detailed I wouldn't be surprised if you were attempting some kind of misdirection with that.

So Alice is from Urbe? That explains her stilted form of speaking; at least. I wonder why she had to flee, though... and why she's on the rock-bottom of the food chain. If Ariel can get a mansion in the middle of the slums just from being in the army, than Alice would need a really good reason not to use her connections to at least get herself and Gaius fed. From what I'm gathering it seems like she was disowned? Or maybe sent to the slums as punishment for something? It doesn't seem like she left of her own accord. Or at least if she did she wasn't received well.

On that note, I've noticed a large disbalance in living conditions between pokemon with connections and pokemon without. Obviously, this is on purpose, but it seems a bit extreme all the same. Team Phalanx lives in a small tent, and can't even eat half nights. Ariel has a mansion and a hot tub. There are riots in camps outside of Tempest and pokemon scramble for coins whenever dropped. Absol from Urbe literally drops money on the ground like it's dirt. The emperor lives in sweet denial of all this, and he's even shocked to learn that Ariel raised food prices. Quite frankly it seems like the work of a large mismanagement/corruption rather than any actual famine/shortage, but at the same time it's so extreme that I'm surprised that Ariel's villa wasn't burned down ages ago.

This is obviously based off ancient roem, but do the pokemon of Aesernia use Latin as their main language? That seems like it might be interesting, and a possible alternate explanation for Flame being able to read outside of 'he isn't the human after all'.

The destruction of Portus is freaky. I assume it's the work of that earthquake that struck back in chapter X. But 50,000 'mon dead means 50,000 corpses, and there's just no way there's that many 'mon dead in the city. A good number of them probably got away, whether they were tipped off by that ship's captain or just had a bad feeling. That ship's log is freaky and probably plot-important, though. I don't blame Flame for wanting to read it all.

…And naturally Gaius found the drinks. And drank on the job before anyone else could. That's so... him.

And now they're trapped between Scum and a Portal Storm, and I'm tempted to read on... but that's for another review. For now, I think I've covered most everything I want to. The story is ever-so-slowly beginning to kick into a higher gear now, and I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing once again!

~SparklingEspeon

Listening to: Her Sweet Kiss - Sonya Belousova; Giona Ostinelli
rycorop chapter 24 . 2/12/2020
Ohmygosh. I just want to see them live together happily.

Honestly, I started reading this story yesterday and all this fluff (and romance) is melting my heart. Can't wait to see what happens next!
Guest chapter 24 . 2/5/2020
D:
Story.Writer.2015 chapter 24 . 2/6/2020
I'm glad that flame is with Alice and Gaius. But i think this still may be a trap. To be honest, the vision i had for the ending may never come true, but I hope that we may have a dragony couple soon. Great job. I can't wait for the next chapter. Thanks for the update. Also

HOLY *#*#*#*#! HIS TAIL WENT OUT! AND HE LIVED!?
CuriousQuinlan chapter 24 . 2/5/2020
:D
cynsh chapter 24 . 1/28/2020
This chapter was great. So much tension, and a perfect location for it. The chapter was apparently 10k words, but it didn't feel that way at all. It gripped me all the way through. And... Sycorax. He's always been a cool, menacing character, but he was really utilised to his best here. Almost makes me want to root for the Benefactors :P

Honestly... it's difficult to express much else in terms of positives. So I'll move reluctantly onto some minor quibbles.

There were a couple of odd moments involving Flame. Firstly, this bit of narration:
'It was all the more amusing to Flame since he himself didn't know what he was doing.'
Amusing? Flame can hardly hold himself together right now. Desperate or hopeless might be more accurate?

Secondly: 'Flame snorted. "Fuck you."'
As amusing (ha) as this is, it felt a bit too... cool and collected for Flame. The snort especially. Perhaps he would have screamed the curse instead.

The simultaneous hugging and crying of our Heroes at the end felt maaaaybe a little over the top. Mainly on Gaius' end, though. And, that wonderful last line more than makes up for this.

Spotted a couple of mistakes too, because I know you love those:
- Should be 'hems OF his cape'
- 'You can fight still fight them'

And that's all. Until next time :wave:
SparklingEspeon chapter 9 . 1/27/2020
Review of chapters 7 - 9

Back again :D

Originally I was going to go through this story in four-chapter chunks, but it seems like every three chapters is a good narrative break-off point for a review, so I'll do that instead. Likewise, these three chapters showed the entirety of Team Phalanx's second dungeon trip, as well as some additional worldbuilding and a quieter bit afterwards, which I appreciate seeing. It's nice that the story slowed down for a bit, instead of just chugging ahead with more and more things until the reader can't comprehend it well anymore.

So, now that I've read nine chapters of your story, I think that I've gotten a pretty good idea of what the story's strengths and weaknesses are shaping up to be. Which means that I can now do a critical review! For critical reviews, instead of just leaving my scattered thoughts and trying to organize them, I separate the reviews into three parts: The positives, the negatives, and the neutral thoughts/speculation.

The Negatives:

While reading, from what I can tell the largest problem with your writing seems to be overall consistency. At the end of Chapter IX, Genesect mentions to Ariel that female pokemon are not allowed to hold high ranks in the empire (and seems to imply she's there via connections/necessity), but then earlier, at the beginning of chapter VII the senator that sparks the riot is a female serperior. Assuming that Genesect's statement isn't only limited to the empire's army (Which seems a bit weird if it is the case, though...), that seems to be something that doesn't quite line up very well. Unless it's on purpose and you're trying to imply that the current emperor is trying to undo what the past one did? Other examples include how Flame's tail seems to have suddenly become ethereal (Or maybe there's just nothing to burn?), or how Ariel states in her letter to the emperor that famines are now so bad that riots are breaking out all over the camp, but we never see any of that and there's even a bustling market in certain scenes.

Aside from that, there are a few things that clash sometimes. I've seen the more archaic "'tis' pop up in Alice's dialogue from time to time. It isn't really a problem, but I think that it clashes a bit with her generally more modern and laid back way of speaking. I would expect that more from Yvaine (who seems to have a more formal manner) than I would Alice.

There must be something that I'm not really picking up on, because I'm not sure I understand whyy Team Phalanx is taking all the credit for completing that mission. From what I can tell they were completing it in association with those empire soldiers, not just using them as hired muscle. Halfway through Gaius just 'becomes' the team leader, and even then they basically get screwed over like 9870 times until those two empire guards step in to save them. I don't think I get why they diss them at the end either; as there was no reason for Team Phalanx to hate them outside of 'Gaius is a jerk and hates everyone equally' and 'Flame doesn't like Virgo'.

The Positives:

The first thing I noticed while reading is the way that you seem to be using the opening statements as part of the story, instead of as disconnected preface comments or random worldbuilding. When I first opened the prologue of the story, I'd thought they were going to be miscellaneous quotes that would preface each chapter, but what you're doing with them is really quite clever. I think that's the best use of prefaces I've seen in a while...

I *really* like the way that you write dungeon trips. There's just *something* about them that doesn't read like the typical MD dungeon joyride does. Maybe it's the way that you keep all the eldritch fridge horror stuff about dungeons in the background instead of making it a Place of Ultimate Evil and shoving it in the reader's face, or that you make the scenes slow burns and build up tension before siccing a dungeon feral on them.

At the beginning of Chapter VII we get to see the inner workings of Urbe, and the current emperor.
I think it's interesting that you chose not to make him an unquestionably evil dictator figure; even if he is a bit... irrationally patriotic, lol. It seems like he genuinely does have the empire's best interests in mind, but ignorance and blind devotion to his father's ideals are holding him back from that. either way, it's nice seeing a non-corrupt ruler (Or at least as non-corrupt as you can be when you have a crappy job like ruling an entire kingdom that hates you).

I very much enjoyed the quiet(er) section of the story that came after the dungeon trip. I think it says something about a writer's skill when they can write a day or an hour of their characters just goofing off and their readers still enjoy reading it, and I do enjoy seeing how your characters find happiness despite being in poverty and basically living in the slums.

Neutral Speculation/things that jumped out to me:

Before Team Phalanx and those empire soldiers leave to embark on the mission, Ariel asks them to bring back at least one alive for questioning. I don't imagine she *wasn't* planning to execute them after she was done, but once they bring the leafeon back she just acts all confused, then decides to execute her because lolz. Why? Did she just not see a point in interrogating them? Or did she think a morale boost for the civilians was more important at that point? I don't think I see how it would do anything other than get them more riled up and likely to start another riot.

Gaius talks about how almost no teams on the Task Force Aegis base can boast about successfully completing a B-Rank mission. But Task Force Aegis is basically the only thing stopping the Scum from entering and conquering Urbe (As Genesect stresses to Ariel), so... my question is this: Assuming that the town is the barrier to the South and thus gets attacked a lot by Scum, and all B-Rank missions deal with Scum, then how does Task Force Aegis keep them all at bay? Surely the empire isn't sending down accomplished soldiers to deal with Scum every time they appear out of nowhere, or Ariel is basically useless. And if fighting Scum is an everyday reality for the pokemon under Ariel's command, then why are B-Rank missions considered hard to pull off? So long as you don't fail literally every mission you're given, I don't think Ariel particularly cares what rank you are as long as you get the job done and some paperwork conveniently goes missing afterwards.

Something about the way that Alice dragged Flame off to the fighting ring reads as double-faced to me. I'm not sure what yet (I'm *kind of* leaning towards she tried to take him on a stealth date, but I haven't read enough to know for sure), but it does seem like she had another motive for just taking him there so abruptly past 'we have nothing better to do'.

So I guess Gaius isn't as much of a jerk as he seems to be. I wonder what sparked it though- Flame winning the fight, or the mission payment?

While walking through the dungeon, Alice, Gaius, and Flame begin to goof off and joke about how it would be a good thing if the Task Force Aegis Base was sacked by the scum just because Ariel would die in the raid. Because I'm a conspiracy theorist who can be set off by just one weird word in the prose, I am now wholly convinced this will happen in like the next six chapters. O_O

Overall, I think these three chapters were interesting. You do a very good job of keeping that 'real life' feel throughout all parts of your story; even the MD trips Most authors sacrifice their overall world feels once Mystery Dungeons are entered, but you seem to keep it well. It's mentioned that Mystery Dungeons didn't show up until around a decade ago even though the Scum seem to have existed for about a century, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that will be revealed. It seems like I'll be exactly halfway through the current chapter roster the next time I review, so I'm looking forward to doing that :)

Listening to: Leave the Past Behind - Bear McCreary
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