Reviews for The Long Road
kintsugii chapter 6 . 2/14
Ooh! Pre-Norman Petalburg is a grass gym. That's interesting but makes a lot of sense thematically with the woods. The intro on this is nice and catchy, always fun to have shaking hands as you check your head for blood and find out that yup, it's blood. Achron within achron, nice.

[The force of the water must have ripped it from his grasp as it sent him hurtling through the cave.]
oh man this is explicitly why backpacks are to be worn not carried

[This Aron must have belonged to someone previously. There's no way a wild Aron could be this friendly or this intelligent without prior training.]
oh NO was baby fren abandoned this is unacceptable
also, I wonder if "intelligent" is the right word here, since the skills being tested are more word recognition/"wild Aron probably wouldn't know the word for rope"—it's a small difference (although tbf I don't know if Steven would recognize it/care!).

I like how Steven does his research realistically here. It used to have poison-types, he's got this, but oh, here's a logical thing he could've overlooked. I think it's difficult to describe characters making planning mistakes (usually they just,,, don't plan, or their real plan is convoluted and silly), but this one felt believable. And I guess pre-internet lol. Jude's nicely supportive while still pointing out flaws in Steven's approach.

I think the achron-withn-an-achron is a bit much here. The cave sequence ahcron builds up to why Steven falls into the cave, but I don't quite know if there was much of a compelling reveal there that necessitated the order to be reversed around. I think achron works best when it's a "so you might be wondering how we got here" moment—either the motivations or backstory get revealed in a way that makes the current story more meaningful in the new light (for example, on a macro level, the chapter breaks do this quite well). Here I'm not sure what's being gained by the order flipping the events around on the small-scale within this chapter though, and things do feel a tad disjointed as a result. But we do get best fren so! All in all a good thing.
kintsugii chapter 5 . 2/8
[Dressed far too formally to be a mere tourist, the young, teal-haired boy's cape fluttered in the breeze when he wove his way past where Steven had stopped.]
god ikr what kind of weirdo would wear formal clothes everywhere you tell him Steven Stone

["I thought I recognized you, you're President Stone's boy aren't you? He used to stay at the inn where I worked, and I remembered your face from the pictures he showed me. He would talk about you all the time." The receptionist beamed down at him.]
oh. oh no. Between this and the "are ya winning son? are ya gonna let me third wheel your date?" and the waffles I cannot shake this version of Joseph Stone who makes dad jokes and brags about how proud he is of his son and surely nothing will go wrong here, not one bit

I like the jump back to younger, less confident Steven. The bit where he gets mistaken for someone else's son and is just too awkward to defuse the situation on his own really helps establish how much earlier in his journey this is from the "uwu you should wear a suit it brings out the determination in your eyes" Steven, and I like how the non-chronological ordering still frames a sense of growth. I love this interpretation of contests as being mostly dominated by rabid parents lol; are most lower-circuit gym matches the same way? I'm imagining like, the little league games and lots of tiny coaching drama over who gets what props and what order they get staged in lol.

[Kings and Queens of Cool!]
oh my god i'm cackling

[Relief flooded Metang's expression, and it shot one last look at Steven to punctuate the conversation.]
This is also funny in the context of Metang being like "pls do not make me sing I do not like the singing". Was curious what it means for best boi to have relief flood its expression though? I am thoroughly invested in Metang's quest to find a warm patch of sand in this chapter.

This younger version of Hoenn is interesting! I kind of forget that canonically they're supposed to start out as children, but I like how you portray mildly-lil-smug-Wallace here, and how within fifteen seconds of meeting one another they're ready to sing "Popular" and be frenemies forever. That water stone is sure not going to be a gift of undying affection or anything, no sir.
kintsugii chapter 4 . 2/7
omg this quirky little Aron who doesn't like any weather my HEART. The chapter openers in these are generally a lot of fun; pretty snappy and they set the tone really well. I find that narrator- or time-hopping needs to establish location/narrator really quickly in order to pin down the chronology well.

Deserts being recognized as prehistoric oceans! Yessssssssss good. It makes a wild question for "how old is the pokemon world actually" but I think especially in the context of Hoenn's fossils being explicit ocean-dwellers (and the canonical implication that their land/sea cycles are utterly fucked) it makes a ton of sense.

["Oh ho ho ho! What an incredible coincidence, if I do say so myself!"]
I'm so glad that nothing but good will come of this

(sidebar from the future, it does turn out that nothing but good comes out of this, and my galaxy brain theory that the coincidental man who just hops out of the desert and recognizes prodigy and very rich, kidnappable Steven Stone on sight after his pokemon have been staring into the distance at some mystery figure stalking their camp was in fact nothing but good. I am a genius and my brain is enormous).

I really dig the atmosphere of this chapter. The crumbling desert tower reminds me of the library episode in ATLA, where there's this mad dash to save this ancient beacon of knowledge before it all vanishes away forever. It's a bit coincidental that the final collapse was happening at this exact moment Steven happened to be the only one around (I was curious why they didn't also want Dusty? two heads are better than one? Or do they watch Steven long enough to trust him but for some reason don't offer the same trust to Dusty?), but I really dig the bits where the baltoy are communicating this to Steven non-verbally, and how he works hard to bridge that communication gap and understand it. I do wish we had more insight into why the baltoy is like "yes, these two are good to come with", but on the other hand I really love the portrayal of this one-sided conversation, and the inherent trust that has to come with it. You can help someone without fully understanding them or wanting something in return.

(sidebar that's more of a curiosity question than anything else; Steven references the fossils as the baltoy's friends; is that true or is he just spitballing there? Are the baltoy old enough to have been around for pre-fossil lileep/anorith, or have they just been chilling with the fossils for long enough that they have dubbed the fossils their friends? Both options are very cute and I am absolutely here for the immortal rock frens just chilling and having a fun time)

The second half of this chapter sets up this really mythical tone and I love the imagination of the disappearing castle here as like, an actual sinking tower—I think like the mini-noses this was also kind of canon but the way it's brought to life here is really quite lovely. We also get to see rock interest in the field! It's a nice intersection of this kind of whimsical/excitement, but also with the forlorn image of baltoy charades and ancient history slowly being washed into the desert.
kintsugii chapter 3 . 2/7
["A friend, eh? In that case I'm happy to play second fiddle!"]
oh my god steven sr is offering to third wheel his son's dates i am SLAIN

[Breaking into a light jog, Steven secretly lamented not having time to go home first to change out of his formal business attire. Oxfords lightly clicking on the pavement as he neared the Gym, he loosened and pocketed his tie. No self-respecting trainer would be caught dead challenging a Gym Leader looking like they just walked out of a board meeting, even though that's exactly what he just did.]
omg is this the canon explanation for his style? please let this be the canon explanation for his style

Roxanne's back! Lol. You can tell that I'm not reading ahead before I write these because I say dumb things like "wow she's cool hope we see her again it's so weird that she ends up as first gym leader and Steven goes for champ" immediately before we see the ramifications of that in the plot. I don't think I put two and two together that they learned at the same trainer school that she teaches at (which I'd chalk up more to my unfamiliarity with Hoenn locations/plot than you not implying it in the chapter; makes sense that a trainer school in Rustboro would be that school), but I like the parallelism and how she chooses to stick around there. Like Steven says, good bookends.

[Steven slammed his hands over his ears to block out the sound, and as he looked up through a grimace, he saw that Cradily too had to cover her head with her tendrils to stop the pain.]
This is mostly curiosity/has minimal bearing to the story at large, but do Cradily have ears? As former ocean floor dwellers (and crinoid/plantlike ones) I'd imagine sound isn't really a high priority sense for them, but 1) I'm totally spitballing there and 2) as former ocean floor dwellers I'd imagine they can't be on the surface and the lack of ambient pressure would make them explode anyway sooooooooooo

[I thought you'd have done more research before challenging me. No matter, I'm used to giving instruction.]
Roxanne is such a bamf omg

[Roxanne's smile didn't fade at his excuses. "Steven, you won't have to worry about all that once you become the next Champion."

At her bold statement, whatever Steven had planned to say died on his lips. Pausing to glance at Roxanne with a puzzled look, he asked, "What makes you so sure I'll become Champion?"]
uwu
joking aside I'm definitely interested in the dichotomy that this poses with the "I'm much too restless to be a Gym Leader" bit that got brought up a little earlier, since it seems like Roxanne's idea of Champion at least gives him enough time to sit around in a suit and look dashing on the battlefield—so probably not a lot of running around? Unsure if I was parsing that correctly. I do wonder why Steven wants to be Champ; I'm sort of envisioning the sheltered child prodigies who get really far because their parents get them private tutors and expect highly of them, but then at some point they're face with the question of "but what do *I* actually want" and a lot of things start to crumble. I don't think that's specifically the case here, but there does seem to be some dissonance with Steven's carefree "I just want to collect rocks and make friends" and whatever political/social power that comes with being Champion and the eventual fact that he'll probably have to have a larger involvement in Devon Corp at some point.

Didn't really expect the big timeskip but I'm here for it tbh, and I certainly can't fault using achron to get to some of the more interesting parts of canon when it feels like certain conclusions will be inevitable. A badge quest with Steven feels a bit redundant since we know (even moreso than regular journeyfic) that he'll have to succeed. Roxanne as a bookend to his journey is a nice bit of parallelism, and you can handwave the convenience of it a bit since Steven intentionally chooses to make it a bookend for the memes and the nostalgia.

The battle is generally snappy and I like how things are described. I'm interested if this will be the highest-tier of battling that we see, if the E4 fights get a lot more complex; this one seems to hinge pretty heavily on type matchups and really fast exchanges; Roxanne works around them but Steven's pretty much able to steamroller through. I do like how you poke a bit at Steven's analytical side with plays like Brine, and gliding Armaldo is a really cool idea (although I'm impressed that they can get airborne at all; they seem kind of heavy? idk. fossils are silly conceptually anyway). Tbh the star of the show for me was Probopass! The bits with the mini-noses were clever and I like the idea that they can all just orbit around and zoop-zoop on their own accord; I feel like that's canon but we also never really get to see that realized in a battle.
kintsugii chapter 2 . 2/7
oh my lord the concept of companion pokemon is very adorable. I have a friend who has their dog read to second graders (aka the kids read to the dog because the dog does not judge you for making mistakes and is also a very good friend) and I love the idea that Beldum is just here observing Steven holding up rocks and cheering along. Rocks are good. Children sharing rocks are good. This is a good idea. Is Beldum playing along or does it genuinely enjoy the small human offerings of common rocks?

Stone Sr. as a loving father who makes breakfast and used to be a chef back in the day is also deeply cursed coming from Continental Divides. I am so here for it but it causes me much mental dissonance. Beldum deserves pancakes.

[Steven knew they needed to make some improvements before their midterm.

When the time came for his exam, it didn't take much effort; Steven passed the midterm test with flying colors.]
This gets expanded on in the next sentence, but I think some differentiation that this is the written midterm and not the battle midterm would help. It's pretty well implied in the lines before/after, but the jump from "we need improvements" to "we passed with flying colors".

[Adjusting its magnetic field to compensate for the now-rough terrain]
magnets! I'm not entirely sure how this would work, though. Independent mag-lev tends to be (assumed to be) based on the earth's core/the earth's magnetic field, so surface-level variations would be basically trivial comparatively?

Roxanne's very sweet and I'm here for children being kind! It's kind of wild that she and Steven start at the same time but he ends up so much dramatically further ahead than her by the end (although? maybe that part of the canon gets eaten? idk. also that's what having a bunch of fossils and a metagross do I suppose), but I like how she takes the encouraging option here. It's easy to just handwave all kids as being tiny vindictive bullies, but having her there to contrast with them makes Steven's ultimate decision to blame things on Beldum a lot more poignant/worse, since he really, really didn't have to do that. But he did anyway! People make mistakes sad beans noooo. I wish that there'd been a little more emotional buildup to his outburst, maybe some internality on the dialogue—young Steven seems to have trouble understanding and relating to other humans, so I definitely get why the peer-shaming would get him to lash out like this, but I kind of wanted a bit more from his perspective leading to that emotional climax.

["Uh, I dunno Reeve, we're no kidnappers."]
* sad beldum sounds *

[Steven waited until the air was quiet before he dared to move. Gingerly picking his head up, he was greeted by a field of blue and red.]
I didn't quite understand what this meant. Police lights? Beldum is right in his face but somehow appears planar?

The conflicts in this one are cute. Again, the concept of pokemon poachers punching Steven Stone in the face because he's a smarmy rich kid who has fancy pokemon and they don't, but this time I feel bad for Steven Stone is greatly unsettling, but I am here for it! I like how the external conflicts drive the internal conflicts; it's a good way to have actions that have consequences while still making the inevitable reconciliation feel earned—like I don't think I was ever like "oh NO steven's definitely not going to have a beldum after this because beldum won't be his friend any more" since I can at least take a wide guess at how that song and dance goes, but the tension is still there since there's an external force driving them back together. I'm a little curious about Beldum's age/understanding of this—as before, is it like "ah yes very nice rock human; I am aware that Take Down is suboptimal but I am assessing for optimal battle strategies and in forty-six months I will be a world-destroying supercomputer" or were its feelings genuinely hurt?

Angry beldum glare at the chapter closer is the cutest fucking thing; thank you.
kintsugii chapter 1 . 2/7
fun fact! this was on my to-read list for 2020 but I am a horrible person. something something funny joke about taking the long road to get to reviewing or something.

Mostly going to keep this pretty light on prose comments and kept this pretty strictly grammar related for the details since I think your editing/writing gaze has moved on to other projects, but let me know if that assessment was incorrect!

["Sorry everyone, I thought we might find something interesting up there, Aron was just so insistent on sniffing around. Guess our hunch was wrong."]
Bit of a comma splice here; this would be better as ["Sorry everyone. I thought we might find something interesting up there. Aron was just so insistent on sniffing around. Guess our hunch was wrong."]

[the ever stoic Metang]
you'll want "ever-stoic" here

[Steven crossed his arms in annoyance, "Look, even if it gets dark, I've got the map on my PokeNav. It'll be fine."]
should be: [Steven crossed his arms in annoyance. "Look ..."]
(in general I think these are things you already know and maybe just didn't know a few years back so tbh I might just drop off on the grammar comments as well lol. old prose is the death of us all)

I really love how you set up the different pokemon to be doing their own things on the site. Anorith scuttling around, Aron not liking the rain, Metang's disapproval—these really help drive home the idea that these are individual little guys who exist separately from Steven. I like how he's on-board with their quirks, expects Metang to push back on him, is really grateful to Aron for helping him out, etc. I think coming from Final Gambit I was expecting a bit of a grittier world (and who knows! from what I've heard this one doesn't stay sunshine and daisies forever), but I like the brevity and sweetness here; it does feel like there's a genuine relationship and these guys are all pals. (Sidebar, my main exposure to Steven is from OSJ so this is going to be a deeply cursed journey for me, I think).

Steven also gets some good character moments that help set him up early here. I like that he tries to negotiate with Linoone! Says a lot in that one choice. And by the end when he's just like, ugh, fine, the Pokemon definitely did know better, take my credit card and have fun ... idk, I was grinning irl. I thought overall these guys are really sweet and I like how you nail down the cast of characters pretty distinctly, pretty quickly. The details and the prose help with that too; the Pokemon have a nice sense of physicality and even just details about how his old nav wasn't waterproofed but Metang recognizes this as a suboptimal investment and has better recommendations for the silly human (sidebar, can Pokemon read?).

(Some random questions that I might've missed—why do the shuppet attack when Steven is on his own? They disappear once they recognize that Metang is defeated because the trainer alone isn't a threat or anything, but if he didn't have Metang out when they initiated, why did they think he was a threat at first? Do Pokemon Centers not have options for taking care of humans? The scene where everyone gets out washcloths and has a slumber party for Steven is real fucking cute so I kind of do not care, but it does seem strange that Nurse Joy can heal "being eaten by shadows" but can't toss him a tylenol or something).

Digging the opening. Again, I always feel weird doing deep dives on completed work since like, you marked it complete for a reason, but in general I like the setup here! The kind of wholesome content I need for 2021. I am so glad that nothing bad happens to these characters ever and will not be taking evidence to the contrary.
WildBoots chapter 18 . 12/11/2020
A few thoughts on this last chapter, then a few overall thoughts:

[Which was why his temporary quarters in the guest suite at the Ever Grande League building didn't really shock him the way it might have for a less-well-off trainer.]
I feel like this would’ve had more impact if we’d seen Drake or someone reacting to his lack of reaction. Would he even pause to consider how other trainers who didn’t have his background might feel?

[As the youngest Champion in Hoenn's history, he'd just painted a huge target on his back.]
Oof.

[Steven spared one last glance at Hoenn's landscape.]
I wanted a little more about which parts specifically he could see!

[And here he stood with his pack fuller than his wallet,]
Aww, Steven.

I like how you found creative ways to let him be cozy with his team, despite them being literal rocks.

[His gaze eventually landed on the liquor cabinet off to the side, no doubt it was stocked for Drake's own tastes, but Steven couldn't help think of how it would make a great display case for his collection of rocks and stones…]
Omg, priorities.

Haha, a nice place to bring Wallace back!

[Tell me, what makes you tick?"
Steven blinked. "Um, I like rocks and —"]
Getting right to the heart of things.

[Besides, it'd be criminal for someone as handsome as you not to look this good otherwise."]
;)

[especially when Drake had said there'd be no room to have Metagross on stage with him. All eyes would be on him and just like that, it felt like the day before his trainer's school exam all over again.]
Haha, he’s grown so much, but he’s still an introvert. The ways he’s grown stronger are personal, not about interacting with people.

[and the suit fit like a glove]
Or a pair of tight-ass pants.

[The light of the sun glinted off the silver of his suit's cuffs and the band on his finger, and the traditional color of second place never shone so much like gold.]
Aww this was a lovely line! Maybe one of your best.



It feels fitting to end on the note of “we did it”: finishing the thing was an accomplishment! Even though I’m reading quite some time after you finished it, I feel like I’m taking that victory lap with you.

Something I really enjoyed throughout were the glimpses at what Hoenn was like before the games. You manage to match the tone of canon really well while adding a sense of history! Most importantly: you know how I choose to handle Steven Stone (i.e., utterly dragging him, eat the rich, etc), but I still buy this wholesome, shy version of him, too. He’s shy but he’s got grit and integrity. We definitely get to see his growth throughout—really fun to see one of the franchise’s most powerful characters when he’s smol and downtrodden.

I wish the dad/Devon angst had been better integrated throughout. It wasn’t until the later chapters that I really got a sense of what was at stake for him. Even so, I still wasn’t totally convinced there wouldn’t be other options for him. What would’ve stopped him from continuing on to another region to continue training, for example? I also have lingering questions about the E4 structure. Is it just a totem pole, pushing the next person down? In that case, he’d have a while before he was in danger of leaving the league, even if he lost the championship, right?

I do also wish we’d gotten to see more how Steven and his skarmory came to agreeable terms with each other. Sort of a gap there.

Otherwise the relationships with his Pokémon feet very complete. Echoing Pen here: Wallace was a fun addition, but Steven pokemon was satisfying by itself.

Overall, glad I read it and that we’ve gotten to be friends this year! Cheers to the road ahead. (Champagne glass emoji.)
WildBoots chapter 17 . 12/4/2020
[Steven was back to feeling like his normal self by the time Simon parted the chamber doors for him to advance.]
This is interesting. I can’t tell how much of this is because he’s recovering from the attack ... and how much is because he’s winning! Haha.

[One trainer between him and the freedom he so desperately sought to keep. Devon wouldn't dare to pull the Champion from his post, even if he was the sole heir to his father's legacy, right?]
Aww, anxious Steven! This has been the clearest moment of insight into this worry. It makes sense, but I do wish it had been this explicitly clear earlier.

[With empty pockets and a belly full of fire, he tapped each of his pokeballs once]
I like the rhythm here, but I’m not sure why his pockets are empty or what the significance for him is. That he’s he’s here on his own merits, not with Daddy’s money?

[Standing tall between two larger-than-life dragon statues,]
Nice ... but would look better in chrome. ;)

You know ... I never gave Drake much thought before. But it is telling of Hoenn that its dragon master is a still a boat guy. (I wonder why he had two desert-bound flygons though? I guess he wasn’t always a captain, haha. This man deserves a kingdra or a dragalgae though.)

[The trouble with dragons was that they could attack from distance or up close, ]
Definitely! Lots of range.

Steven has been relying on Armaldo a lot in these fights! I’m curious whether you’re intentionally writing a version of Steven who rushes in because he’s younger or because his bond with his skarmory isn’t quite there yet—he’s not yet the guy whose opening gambit is laying down spikes and poisoning you—orrrrrr if it’s just that you love gud ronk bug. Haha.

[in a shower of mortar and stone.]
Nice.

[Feeling the dragon's shadow pass over him]
I like this detail, too!

[With a shaky wobble, ]
As opposed to the other kind? ;)

[given his first hand experience with Skarmory's fighting ability on flat ground,]
Aww this is a nice moment, actually. He remembers exactly how ducking fearsome his skarmory is, haha. And he remembers it from the perspective of an opponent.

[Half his team was either knocked out or too exhausted to put up much of a fight, and yet he'd only managed to do the same to one of Drake's pokemon.
Was this truly as far as he could go?]
Good moment for reflection. Nice to see him doubt and shake it off.

[Safe.
Since when did he play things safe?
If he played things safe, he'd be back at Devon right now sitting at a desk instead of vying for the title of Hoenn's strongest trainer.]
Ha! Yeah, Steven doesn’t play things safe. Ask Granite Cave.

[but the last thing he expected was for the Champion to be grinning. It was a feral thing, teeth bared beneath his bristling mustache,]
This is a nice moment!

[The momentum of Aggron's bullrush]
This chapter does have some good, dynamic word choices. Pile-drive, bullrush.

[One breath, two breaths… Suddenly the pile shifted, and a silver-clad back lifted up from the rubble with a heave.]
I like these held-breath moments of waiting to see who will come out on top.

Oh! He DOES have a kingdra!

[Steven's heart skipped a beat as he took in the way Cradily's neck twisted at an odd angle where she lay. ]
:c

[Standing tall in the center of the beam was Aggron, claws extended forward as if they were what was holding its protective barrier up against the onslaught. ]
Good job, baby.

[Landing with a cushioned thud ]
Cushioned by what?

[But then Salamence was upon it before the flames dissipated, dragon claw slashing through the air. Dust and dirt swirled as the two pokemon clashed; Metagross's fist glowing bright as it parried Salamence's slashes.]
Nicenicenice.

[Now, let's get you settled in your temporary quarters. ]
This felt a little hasty! Are t there still other trainers taking in the challenge in the next few days? In theory, couldn’t they also win?

Looking forward to the epilogue! I’ll try to cobble together my thoughts on the entire thing.
WildBoots chapter 16 . 12/4/2020
Man, these author’s notes are a saga. Did you get hurt? :c

This is interesting: I’m realizing from the descriptions of Steven and Armaldo being unnerved by the dusclops’ hollow insides that he never explored Mt. Pyre! Guess he’d rather go over than under a mountain. Good physicality in these moves and hits.

[Defense lowered, the follow up shadow punch that caught Armaldo's midsection sent the prehistoric pokemon tumbling.]
A little video game-y! I would’ve gone for something like “when the next blow came, it sent Arnaldo tumbling,” or similar. Still get that setup without sounding too much like game stats.

[so close now that its raspy breathing ruffled the fins at Armaldo's neck]
(It’s either breathing really, really hard or it’s right on top of Armaldo without attacking yet!) I love the emphasis on its fins though. I think of it as this big, heavy creature, but I’m appreciating the reminders that it’s also got delicate, gauzy bits.

[The golden glint of Banette's zippered mouth turned downwards in a scowl]
He does not leik! Haha. Very clear image. Love this.

[Banette's hand came down in a vicious chop, striking Skarmory at the base of its neck. Instantly, a shock of numbness flooded Skarmory's wing.]
Oops, a jump to Skarmory perspective. Jarring after the focus being in Steven for the rest of the story! I would’ve loved to see what Skarmory’s reaction looked like from Steven’s POV. (Wing dragging?)

The dive for the sitrus berry was so clever and cute! I don’t think I’ve seen that before.

Ahhhh oh nooo it has a tongue!

[Skarmory winced, retching until it ejected a sticky black clod from its throat out onto the arena floor.]
I love that you brought a little touch of exorcism-type horror films to the physicality of the curse.

[Phoebe's hand came to bare, and with a thrust she urged her partner forward.]
This sounds like she’s literally, physically pushing it, which can’t be right. But I do like that the way dusclops snaps out of it’s confusion potentially hints at the psychic bond between them. And, wow, it says something about how many times I’ve replayed RSE that I knew it would be an ice punch set.

[We can't let it happen…"
"What?" He only dared to whisper the first question before he asked the second aloud. "Let what happen?"
"You wouldn't understand…" came the cryptic reply. "Only they understand. So pick your next pokemon."]
Is something bad going to happen if he becomes champion?

[Shivering, Dusclops howled, expelling a massive wave of shadowy bugs from deep within its bandages. The chittering swarm of legs and wings poured forth and swept over Aggron, toppling the beast beneath its sheer weight.]
Brendan Frausier and The Mummy vibes! I was so scared of scarabs as a kid!

Yeah, sableye is no joke in Hoenn.

[I'm gonna have to let Glacia handle the full explanation, but for now just know that you'll be right as rain once Froslass here does her thing."]
Froslass and ice punch mean Glacia and Phoebe must have a lot to talk about on a daily basis! Training partners? And I do like the idea here of using a ghost to heal a ghostly injury.

Phoebe’s situation makes me wonder how one becomes an elite in this setting! Did she defeat the other elites at some point? Or they’re appointed positions and she was simply invited/allowed to join to help train her up?

Oh poison! I remember you mentioning that! Very fitting parallel to Divides! Odd that his reaction is so nervous though! Steven, you have three steel-types.
206432 chapter 2 . 11/28/2020
The ting about your first Pokemon being your favorite isn't true. My Blissey is more loved than my Typhlosion.
U gay as fudge chapter 1 . 11/28/2020
Not starting at meeting Beldum?
WildBoots chapter 15 . 11/21/2020
[He was almost sick of being underground. Almost.]
HAHAHA. Never.

[feel the sun on your face for just a little while before heading back into the depths again]
It occurs to me that this boy must be pasty AF.

[Well, you won't be setting any speed records for getting through there, but that's not what really matters, right?"]
Hahaha, nice.

[Can't say I expected you to be too chatty, most aren't when they get out. ]
This one felt less natural. I liked the detail, but it sounded strained to me.

[the architecture of too much glass and polished marble,]
Wouldn’t he be used to this somewhat?

[That was it. Ten days, and it would all be over, for better or for worse.]
Moment of truth!
Again, I wish I had a liiiittle more about what it would look like if he failed. Why can’t he continue training?

[Steven sighed, still running on "cave time",]
Ha!

[he had woken up before everyone else in the city,]
I don’t have a strong sense of how crowded it is or normally would be.

Oh Iona’s here! She appeared rather suddenly, though. His rejection leading up to the match would’ve been a nice moment to show his expectations for what was to come, whether he’s nervous about any of them in particular.

[Lanturn bobbed up and down on the battlefield.]
Floating? I was having trouble picturing the pedestal.

[Fingers of electricity leapt from the water and struck the light screen ahead of the wave, causing the barrier to falter.]
Woah is it doing two attacks at once?

[it left the sopping and unconscious form of Claydol rolling a gentle circle on the ground.]
Unsure about sopping because IDK how much water its body can actually absorb, but I love the image of it rolling!

[Had a pokemon ever died during a match at the League?]
Oh no.
I wonder if he’s been following previous years on TV or not.

[falling rain hissed and popped across the overheated metal of Metagross's hide.]
Nice detail!

Interesting use of plusle and minun! I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in a fic before.

[as a second Froslass made its appearance on the battlefield]
Oh shit, haha.

["Uh, I mean, um, welcome, challenger, to your worst nightmare!" She finished with a dramatic gesture.]
Ahaha.

I thought it was smart to summarize the battles some and skip to the most interesting beats!

Phoebe should be interesting! I hadn’t considered how more than one of Steven’s Pokémon has problems with ghosts.
WildBoots chapter 14 . 10/8/2020
[Skarmory seemed thankful that it finally wasn't landing outside of some sort of cave or cavern as it dutifully waited outside the Stone family home. ]
Why he no like cave?

[and at this time of night his father was probably sitting in the living room reading by the fire…
…Or working late at the office.
The chair near the hearth was empty, and the fireplace dark.]
Aww, Steven. :c

[Skarmory followed him into the foyer]
Click clack

[As she reached out to envelop him in a hug, Skarmory squawked and fanned out its wings, startled by her quick approach.]
He protecc!

Aww she’s a good.

Steven: you mean the entire time I could’ve just offered snacks?

[Mrs. Evans had scolded it for scratching the backrest of a chair with its talons.]
That’s his chair now. All Pokémon are cats—change my mind.

[they had been plunging forward full steam with their league challenge, leaving no room for the very thing they were doing at this moment. Relaxing.]
Someone recently reminded me how important this is ...!

[Except that Steven wasn't ready to relinquish what he considered the best years of his life spent traveling side by side with his closest friends. No, his family. He didn't want it to end.]
Could he not challenge the league again the next year?

[Dad would never let us sleep by the fire. But he's not here, and I won't tell if you won't."]
Awwww.

[Aggron was happy to offer Cradily a ride on his back]
Cute.

[What if they delayed too long and his father pulled him into the world of Devon before they got to challenge the League?]
He almost sounds like a god of the underworld lol.

[He gave her a reassuring smile. "They are. Would you like to meet them?"]
Aw what a sweetie.

[Why if I had pokemon that strong, I'd walk around like I owned the place. Oh wait, I already do! Whahaha!"]
Haha gottem

[After enduring a messy round of staticy electric-type kisses, Steven was happy to let Manectric sit by his side as he doled out some scratches behind its ears. Even Metang got a nuzzle of static as it came over to say hello.]
Wow we got a dog and a cat! This chapter has it all.

[C'mon, we're heading back to the Route."]
This one wouldn’t be capitalized.

But gasp! Berry farm! And the babies are being naughty.

[Ever since its final evolution, Aggron had taken a shine to gardening.]
Excuse me. How dare you be so cute.

[Metagross opened its jaws wide]
Oh no. D:

[It's time we took another stab at the first cave that ever bested us. And I have another idea for redemption in mind along the way too.]
Cave redemption arc! I’m that McDonalds meme except CAVE! CAVE! CAVE!

[Not a speck of dirt or dust marred his clothes, and his pack was filled to the point of bursting with a myriad of rock samples.]
Not a speck of dirt, yet so full of rock. Very proud, Steven.

[The moment was interrupted, however, as his phone buzzed with a plethora of newly received notifications,]
Ahaha yes.

Wholesome chapter was wholesome.
WildBoots chapter 13 . 9/22/2020
[Welcome challenger, to the Sootopolis Gym]
Eyes emoji.

[the Gym Leader's distinctive style stood center stage, and Steven couldn't help but feel a knot of anxiety settle in his stomach. Juan was a truly intimidating figure who commanded every ounce of reverence he received.]
Sentence-level nitpick here: I’d say his style *took* center stage. The second sentence is a little muddier for me. Is it like ... he’s earning the attention he gets? I’m also wondering what about him is intimidating. Can’t just be his style, since this is Steven Stone we’re talking about. (Though this is pre-suit Steven.)

[Wallace appeared at his Master's side and regarded the challenger with a confident smile and a hand on his hip.]
Flamboyant as always. Bless.

[Bravo," quipped Wallace, "You didn't make a complete fool of yourself."
"I told you, it's water and caves that I'm done with, not ice."
"Well, you're still not done with it, technically."]
Can’t quite tell where Wallace is here. The sidelines? Calling down from above?

[As Steven scaled the last few steps, he had to pause to take in the Gym's splendor. Although the pool before him was nowhere near as massive as the one at the ground floor, it sparkled with intricate tile work that ran from the edge of the deck and up the back wall of the Gym itself. The pool was filled with crystal clear water that spilled readily through several openings in the sides and cascaded in tracts down to feed the lower training pools. Whatever matches that had been taking place elsewhere came to a halt as a murmur of whispered voices carried over the ambient sounds of rushing water.]
Nice scene-setting here.

[“At least I know you're not so dense that you can't appreciate something beautiful."]
Oh, Wallace, come on. He love many beautiful thing, like ronk.

[Well, you're the first person who's ever expressed concern about the well-being of the pool."]
Lol!

[as Metang threw a foreleg out to snag one of the platforms]
Calling it a foreleg implies there’s a rear leg! I’d argue metagross has forelegs and metang has arms.

[Mist, my darling."]
Omg. “My darling” is so good.

[but not when they get wet first and then freeze."]
Eyes emoji. Nice.

[Steven's expression brightened. "Oh, you had a Lombre! I'm glad that water stone went to good use then. Actually…"]
Haha nerd. Adorable.

GEORGE
Never change, Wallace.

[In a spray of water and limbs, the Ludicolo burst from the pool, intent on clobbering its opponent in a whirlwind of punches and kicks.]
Spray of limbs implies loose limbs. What secrets is the gym hiding?! Anyway. I’d repurpose bits from the second part of the sentence and do something like “In a whirlwind of water and limbs, the ludicolo burst from the pool, punching and kicking.” Or something like that.

[Small waves rippled out from the platform where Aggron materialized with a heavy thud.]
Ahh good detail.

[Thunderbolt]
Hell yeah!

[Juan was taking things a little too well…
"Of course, you must understand that running a water-type Gym means I am also prepared. Walrein is strong, and I happen to know that Aggron aren't terribly proficient with special attacks."]
Double hell yeah. Wouldn’t want it to be that easy.

[Gorebyss, attract."]
Omg, I thought at first it was a luvdisc and I was like :-l

Chuffing is a good aggron verb!

[But the twister was wreaking havoc on Claydol's levitation, and it wobbled about on its axis, sending its eyes rolling this way and that.]
What a visual.

[he noticed he, too, was breathing heavy, as if he had somehow been the one to deliver those blows. Did their connection mean that Metang might soon evolve?]
Cool idea!

[Master says I'm not allowed to be friends with losers. It's not good for the complexion."]
Wallace used scald.
WildBoots chapter 12 . 9/13/2020
[Pokemon are inherently dangerous creatures.]
HELLO, yes.

[And yet even with a careful plan drawn out before he even set eyes on the flock,]
This is interesting! I picture them as solitary predators, but I’m open to this.

[Skarmory's steel body blended perfectly with the mottled cloud cover overhead.]
I’m a little skeptical because it’s a shiny surface ... but I guess a wild one might be dull from fighting and from ash.

[Two red eyes followed his gaze skyward before sliding back down to meet his own in an expression of equal parts incredulity, skepticism, and thinly veiled satisfaction that in the face of all its ignored warnings, Metang was right. Again.]
I was confused who this was until the name—doesn’t skarmory have red eyes too?

[Okay, so his plan hadn't actually been meticulous]
Oh, Steven.

I like how genuinely dangerous the skarmory is here.

[Steven hissed as he wiped at the blood that oozed down his arm, smearing the cuts red and gray.]
Recipe for infection!

Haha, I enjoyed Steven and Metang bickering in the bushes.

[Steven swore he could almost feel the bird's talons sinking into him as he lunged for cover]
Unclear whether it happened or not! Did it get him and adrenaline has numbed the pain? Or it missed?

[With a shout of surprise, both persons tumbled to the ground as the air filled with the sound of shattering glass.]
Lol! Frying pan to fire.

[Oh no! My vase!]
My cabbages!

[You're bleeding! It wasn't from the glass was it?"]
Aww, I lived this moment of concern.

[The faster we get this over with, the faster we can get back inside,"]
The skarmory really did a number on him if he WANTS to be indoors.

[Nodding, Metang cautiously drifted forward until its whole body was out in the open. ]
Hahaha

[He thought about calling out for help, but Skarmory had carried him too high for even Metang to follow, and he watched helplessly as his partner shrunk to a small blue speck in the middle of Route 113, its cries fading into the rushing wind.]
:0

[Sparks danced when four neat gouges were cleaved in the rock that was pressed against Steven's back mere seconds prior.]
!

[and yanked the offending garment off; collected soot be damned.]
I can’t imagine there was much left after being tossed around.

[Skarmory only took a few seconds to gain its bearings before bringing its burning yellow gaze to face Steven.]
Oops—shows what I know about eye color.

Ooh I do hope we get some closure with skarmory though. RIP.
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