Reviews for Salvage
Anla'shok chapter 30 . 4/29
The last battle left me breathless too. I loved the power play between the child and Nate, and I had no clue if it'd end in a win or not. I also like how you bother to give a personality to the opponents and their pokemon.

Eskar is so terribly creepy (and a masterful manipulator). Absol has been frustrating with her cryptic warnings from the start, and the fact she so often leaves the child alone, but it seems she genuinely can't act any different so I feel a bit for her. Eskar is filling the void left by the child's lost pokemon, especially since it does not want to admit to grow caring for (or at least not hating) Nate, or his pokemon.

I wish Absol would appear to Nate and tell him that the sableye is the Rocket Boss' pokemon, but I doubt it would do the child much good. Nate would probably just insult him and try to run away.

Although, if Eskar plays her cards wrong and asks for too high a price, maybe the child will look past its arrogance (and Eskar's speech about the wonder of shapeshifting eyes) and remember that there's no reason for Eskar not to be as loyal to her mistress than Mighthyena to Nate.
Anla'shok chapter 27 . 4/29
The mental image of a League-trained nurse-chansey slamming into the child to bundle him up to the hospital without letting him get in a word in was beautiful.

I've found battles to be the less interesting part of this fic. They're objectively good, but compared to how great the rest is, they fall a little short (in terms of stakes and pacing). Of all the badge/tournament battles, this was the one I liked the most and wasn't tempted to skim through at all.
The visuals were great. I especially liked Absol fighting and the cradily. Eskar and the child fighting break us out of the "trainer order" action "trainer order" pattern by adding in some much appreciated banter and feelings. The battle is very visual and Nate's reaction to Jason's overpowered pokemon adds another layer.

Another loss then. I wonder if Jason's in the normal real of 'good' or if there's something going on there. I can't wait to see if Nathaniel exposing himself like this will get the Rockets back on their trail (and I'm not forgetting Eskar).
Anla'shok chapter 26 . 4/29
I'd forgotten poor Leonard. It's great to see him.

This chapter was hilarious (if only for the child realizing impersonating people isn't as easy as he thought) and I feel so sorry for everyone involved, especially the poor nidoking, (and I feel bad for laughing, but that's a constant through this fic).

The child's not going to drop the 'the great Nathaniel Morgan' anytime soon, is it? It's so painfully clueless it's rather endearing.
Anla'shok chapter 23 . 4/29
Wow, that last scene was almost domestic, lol. How sweet of Mighthyena to go from bent on murder to friendly because the child can now tell Nate that she loves him.
And the sableye is priceless. A perfect mix of cheer and horror.

I wonder if everyone telling the child it's hypocritical about a great many thing is foreshadowing a big conscience crisis. Then again, if it's too much to handle, the child can just change its brain to make it all more comfortable. But maybe it already did, and that's why the child's so dense about some things (as you can see, this fic twists my own brain into knots).
Anla'shok chapter 20 . 4/29
So Nate's constant antagonistic behavior could also be because the child slammed him with psychic energy? I should have seen that coming.
What a (well written and horrifically entertaining) mess. Even if the tournament goes well, what then? Mewtwo is still Mewtwo (and the humans should destroy him, after all the damage he did, I don't see why they don't. Or store him somewhere).
The child is singlemindedly obsessed when it has a goal, but it's clearly not a long-term planner.

It's funny that you've made rattata/raticate the smartest/most human species of all the ones we encountered. Maybe because they spend so much time in cities...
Anla'shok chapter 14 . 4/29
Ever since "the great Nathaniel", the child has felt smaller, the cracks in the character and its abilities showing, it being fooled by Nat, its pokemon standing up more for themselves (although that's good, and humanizes the child)... and it feels now like this prepared us for meeting Mewtwo, who feels here so much more frightening that the child.
It's a cool effect.
I also liked how the child changed his brain to be more cool and collected.

Mewtwo is terrifying. I hope the two can bond somehow over they loyalty (I'm not sure I can call it feelings...) for Mew, because I'm very worried for the child.
Anla'shok chapter 11 . 4/29
I had to read the story twice to get it (the head hopping from Sara's POV and Mew's gets confusing sometimes), but it's wonderful to finally have the backstory. What a heartbreaking tale.
So it was Sara who named Titan, Rats and the others, and that's why the new ones have no name. From Sara comes the attachment of the child to its pokemon (and explains why someone like Titan would end up with the child), its relationship with Absol, its hate for Team Rocket and its remnants of morality.

I'm almost tempted to reread chapters 1-5 after reading this one. I love the layers you have to this story.
Anla'shok chapter 10 . 4/29
Aha, so we finally have a straight answer.
I'm still annoyed by Nate, but I really enjoy how Nate is showing us the child's limitations (not just empathy and understanding of morals, but also intellectual, such as in regards to training). The dynamics with all the pokemon are always great. Titan has to be the cutest charizard in the fandom.
Anla'shok chapter 8 . 4/29
What's striking here is the child's view of good and evil. I saw it as amoral and goal-driven, now it's clear it's image of itself is different. It's clear the child is influenced by TV, so many he picked up on that and decided that being a 'good person' is important.
The contradictions are pretty fascinating.

Nat is suicidal (and exasperatingly rude), but it's great to finally have someone ask the child questions (interesting that the child is missing the point so badly about the question on names. I now wonder if he's the one who named Titan, War etc.)
Anla'shok chapter 7 . 4/29
I'm stunned the great Nathaniel Morgan survived this long. He has a hair-trigger temper, is rude to a fault, and even after being almost murdered it doesn't compute that it might be in his interests to not act like nothing bad can happen to him (or even to *pretend* to be grateful to the talking charmeleon his life still depends on). After this, I don't think I would have cared much if the child had killed him.
I really liked last chapter's crobat on the other hand (and I laughed at the child grumbling at how hard it was to find a suitable dead body).

This chapter really highlighted how strong its respect for Absol is (and how much it wants to please her). I don't think I've ever seen the child have so much self-control.
I have to love the child for hoping the Nat will run off.

This two chapters were great and also more relaxing to read than the first, because I'm starting to feel a lot more caught up on the subtext (well, Absol is as cryptic as ever).
jackallascarian chapter 2 . 4/5
It’s been so long since I’ve seen fanfiction in the second person point of view, so this was very refreshing.

Out of all the fics that start with underused pokémon, they almost always seem to have rattata/raticate. Couldn’t we have a hoothoot or a lotad for once?

I like the description of her nest, it really stood out in my mind. I especially liked the phrasing in “drifts of insulation”. Absol’s impression in the couch was also a nice touch.

Ah, watching the child speak to the charizard made me pretty uncomfortable. It felt very emotionally manipulative and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. Also, it seems a bit weird that the child is pretending to be Titan’s trainer, but also trying to make Titan take on his old/original name. Why didn’t the child just go along with who Titan is now? (I know that I’m saying Titan, but I can’t write ‘the charizard’ any more, rip).

The child sounds so young and immature when trying to convince Titan, it made me wince a few times. Poor Titan. Let the poor guy mourn for a second.

I like that you address the difference between killing someone and letting them die. It may be an obvious distinction to more mature readers, but addressing it in the text shows us the child’s maturity level without being preachy.

Rats calling Titan out for losing to a magikarp was a real cute bit of banter.

The description of rain dance (?) was really nice! I’m glad we saw the effect on the surrounding area and the child and Titan. It all flowed together nicely while addressing multiple separate parts.

The story seems to fade between a normal conversation and a fight so smoothly that I barely noticed, and then I was immediately blindsided when the child said, “You wish I was dead!” That’s rough, buddy. It’s a really well-written scene, but a bit hard to read because of what’s happening. Ouch.

When the child says it’s Nicholas Garret, but also asks Titan why he doesn’t remember their promise I was a bit confused. Did Nicolas Garret also promise that? It seems like it would be too confusing to convince Titan that both Nicholas Garret and whoever had him before (the child?) are the same person.

“I could be someone else tomorrow.” I’m sure Titan feels so reassured xD

I like the way the dragon claw wound is described. It’s not overly gory in an unnecessary way, but it gets the points across while describing it in an interesting way. It’s really the kind of writing I aspire to, and I love being able to see it so consistently in such a good pokémon fanfiction.

The line break at the end splitting the story between ‘you’ and ‘the child’ made me think that they were two separate characters for a while, I had to re-read this chapter and the previous one a few times to make sure I was understanding it. Is that intentional? Or is it a separation between when the child is itself, and when the child is Nicholas Garret?

I’m glad that the child is happy Titan is safe. Hopefully that means it’ll take care of him later.

“And then, at last, they can truly begin.” Sounds ominous, I’m excited!

Also: sorry if this review seems a little off. It’s late right now. I’ll try to make next chapter’s review more put-together.
jackallascarian chapter 1 . 4/5
Hi there! We made a sort-of agreement about a review-for-review exchange late last year that I’m trying to follow up on now! I’m still getting used to how reviews work, so let me know if there’s a specific way that you like your feedback.

I understand why you’ve put the ratings at the top, but why the author’s notes as well? Do you prefer to keep them together, or do you prefer that the chapter ends with the real ending, not with notes? Not a criticism, just out of curiosity.

I like that you’ve specified each character- the child is always ‘the child’ or ‘it’. The absol is always ‘Absol’ or ‘she’ and the dying/dead trainer is always ‘he’. In the beginning when we don’t know each of the character very well, it’s a lot easier to identity who is who.

The use of ‘Fate’ bugs me a bit here. Capitalising Fate makes it sound like a name- like another character in the story. For the next few lines, I thought the child’s name was Fate. I know some stories will refer to a concept like fate as if it were a person, but in this early stage where it’s already hard enough to keep track of each personality, is it really necessary?

The line “The dying people are foggy memories at best.” Implies that the child has seen this before. Multiple times, even. But the next part where the child says that it remembers him seems to imply that it lived in Cinnabar as well, in the lab, and saw him there? That the trainer was there is confirmed later when it says that he was an intern there. So I’m wondering now if the child says ‘dying people’ and means people it has watched die and taken over the identity of OR the people in the Cinnabar lab, who died OR both? Maybe the child went looking for each one? Either way would be interesting, but it would be pretty convenient if each of the people died once the child went looking. But the other option would be that the child is doing something to make them dead, which I don’t believe as the story seems to suggest the child is a more neutral character? So many questions…

Later it’s stated that the trainer has been out for about five years, so surely he’d be experienced enough to realise that he’s travelling in a dangerous area. Why did he not have a pokémon out with him? I understand he has to die for the story, and I know anyone can get in an accident, but it’s harder for me to believe.

So, out of curiosity I had a look through the current list of pokémon to see if I could figure out what species the child might be (assuming it is, in fact, a pokémon, and not a made-up one or a shapeshifting pokémon). All of the land-walking seems to rule out the pokémon that would typically have “gill and webbing”. The addition of sonar/echolocation pushed me towards the buizel line and vaporeon somewhat. This is what I could come up with: golduck, the totodile line, politoed (scales?), the piplup line, buizel & floatzel and the oshawott line. None of these really click in my mind as capable of doing what the child has done- especially later when it uses psychic abilities (or at least, mirror coat) besides golduck. But the mention of Cinnabar lab makes me think of biological experiments. So maybe (another, younger) mewtwo? Also this reminds me of a theory about ditto being a failed clone of mew, so a tiny bit of me thinks that might be a possibility as well!

So the story still refers to it as ‘the child’, but evidently Absol thinks that it can take care of itself and is fine with leaving it. This makes me think that calling it ‘the child’ refers to its maturity level, rather than its real age or experience. Another point for lab-raised, experimental pokémon. The way the other pokémon living in the water avoid the child seems to support this too. And the earlier part about the trainer’s fear and shame, and how it didn’t stop him from ‘writing numbers down and lining needles up’ suggests he was working there, and it was something immoral, but he still went through with it which is. Concerning. I want to say the child is another mewtwo, if not the first one.

Nicholas Garrett is not… a boring name. But it’s not very interesting to me xD I might be just picky here? Normal/non-interesting character names are kind of a pet peeve of mine.

Love the ending! The first chapter provided enough intrigue and mystery, and enough questions to make a reader want to keep reading, and then the ending line(s) really set up how the rest of the story will go. Honestly, while I liked the way that the child goes about understanding the trainer, I feel like the impact of “Because you died down here, Nicholas Garett, in the darkness and the deep.” Was a more interesting way of identifying him? Not sure how that would be changed, though.

Also: ‘…down here where everything is glitter-slick…’ is probably my favourite line/phrase from this chapter. I love the way ‘glitter-slick’ sounds, and it’s the kind of description I haven’t seen very often.

All-in-all: you are a very good writer, and this is a very good piece of writing. It was difficult to find something big enough and serious enough to criticise (also, probably, because this was posted almost seven years ago and I’m sure others have picked at it before). This isn’t the usual kind of fic that I’m interested in, but I found that I would like to keep reading it. I’m really intrigued by the kind of world you want to create in this story.
Coatl chapter 30 . 4/4
It's been a while, so I went and re-read the whole story again to get back up to speed. As far as favourites go, this chapter is a pretty close runner up to the one about mew. I never battled pokémon competitively, and my in-game strategies were pretty on par with the protagonist's. i.e., get something with good coverage and a high BST, then spam SE moves until the other pokémon faints. (And if I was feeling particularly ambitious, I'd copy one of Smogon's OU sets, just like the protagonist copying Red in its Blaine battle.) Even with a turn-based handheld battling system, that's just not the way to win competitively. In a setting where pokémon can have more than just four moves and "turns" don't exist... Well, it's downright stupid.

I have to admit that up until this point, I had been kind of frustrated with the pacing of the league tournament: entire chapters consisting of nothing but lengthy pokémon battles, very little plot development and, occasionally, chapter ending cliffhangers that were never addressed again (what the heck happened between chapters 20 and 21?).

After reading chapter 30, though, I understand now that the fights aren't that important in and of themselves; they're more of a way to frame Nanthaniel's relationship with his pokémon as well as the incremental growth the *protagonist*. After 20-odd chapters of witnessing the protagonist fail to gain ANY kind of emotional maturity, it's very very refreshing to see it actually express concern about what might happen to Nate's Mightyena and even develop a kind of understanding of Nate's own workings.

Also, even as someone who hasn't touched the handheld games since Gen IV, this battles in this chapter were a delight to read. Once again, I *love* the strategy incorporated in these league fights. I love that the protagonist managed to pull it together in a bad situation to cheat *intelligently* for once, and I appreciate that its internal narration even echoes some of Nate's advice from earlier chapters (something I didn't fully grasp until my latest re-read). I was fully expecting the mightyena/salamence fight to go poorly, but the clutch foul play Nate pulled at the end was a surprise in all the best kinds of ways. I completely forgot that foul play copies the *opponent's* stat boosts, and after all those dragon dances, that had to hurt. It's one of the little things that keeps me coming back to this story, even as the league tournament pushed the plot to the wayside.

BUT, on the subject of the battles, I have a number of questions that have been bothering me after my last full re-read.

First, why did the protagonist choose to be an infernape for the tournament? Infernape's got decent stats and good coverage, but why not choose a pseudo-legendary like goodra, garchomp or metagross? Why not something with an overpowered, but legal, ability like blaziken with its speed boost, or something with an exploitable ability/moveset combo like a No Guard fissure machamp (assuming the in-game restrictions for having one of those don't apply)? Why not something with an enormous potential movepool, like a smeargle or even a gallade? At the very least, why didn't it pick something that would check the glaring fighting type weakness that Nate's team currently suffers from?

De-gamifying some of the battle mechanics also leads to more questions. Mostly, how the protagonist's shapeshift ability works at all. In the games, transform works by copying the other pokémon's typing, ability and base stats (excluding HP, which stays the same) as well as any boosts the other pokémon might currently have. It also reduces the PP of all moves to 5. The protagonist already knows all possible moves, so the fact that transform copies them doesn't matter very much. PP also doesn't seem to be a thing, although that description of Aanya's blastoise seems to imply that the ability to repeatedly perform powerful moves is drawn from a much more general source and is based upon the pokémon's own capabilities. I'm guessing that struggling to death after someone sends in a stall wall to check a transformer is also probably not something that happens.

Then, there's the issue of strength. i.e., how does that even work with transform?

The protagonist says it's stronger than most pokémon, but how would that translate to something that can shapeshift without reference and has no fixed form? Is it drawing on a standard pool of stats/strength/whatever regardless of its current shape, or is it just copying the exact strengths and weaknesses of the pokémon it transforms into? If it's the former, I suppose that makes the idea of transforming into a big-ass dragonite for the tournament pretty moot, and if it's the latter, I'm not sure whether the protagonist's strength in its current form is relevant at all. I suppose it's just bragging on the protagonist's part, which is also pretty in-character for it, admittedly. If it's the latter, I guess it would create plausibility issues when the protagonist doesn't just show up to every informal fight as mega rayquaza or a ghost-type slaking with wonderguard.

Finally, why can't the child understand the minds of psychic pokémon? Why doesn't it have any psychic senses? It shapeshifts its own brain quite casually and has claimed it can change its type into anything that it likes. It even uses psychic abilities quite a few times throughout the story, usually when it's not even transformed into anything psychic. If it shapeshifted into, say, an alakazam, shouldn't it also have the alakazam's telepathy?

As you can see, I'm a lot of fun at parties.

I can't wait to see what comes next. The battle with Red is going to be interesting no matter how it goes.
Keleri chapter 30 . 4/2
Yessssssss what a comeback. I like that oily substitute, a lot of potential there to turn the opponent's strength against itself.

Hoo hoo hoo Eskar! Gruesome! Can't wait to see how things shake out as loyalties shift.
indiscretion chapter 30 . 3/26
[Mightyena pops up near the middle of the arena while Salamence chews down a couple of white leaves that were tucked behind her facial spikes, recharging for another big attack.]

Huh. Nate should probably invest in (or steal) some sitruses at the least.

["Illite-eyes' own mark," Eskar says softly. "It means you have her protection. Good for one favor, yes? Take it. Take."]
This... seems like a crock of bullshit. Eskar sounds like she's playing into the kid's mysticism to get her trade in later on.

["This sableye is not trustworthy. It is not safe to do business with her."]
Absol appears to highlight our suspicions of Eskar. The child's being stupid by self-justifying not listening to her, but Absol's really not helping her case with statements like DON'T TRUST HER YOU'LL GET HURT that the child definitely won't listen to. It makes me more annoyed than impressed with her, and that's probably what you intended? Darn absol and darn their species enforced prophecy-speak. I can't remember if she's always been like this but I can see the frustration here.

[The great Nathaniel Morgan deserves to go to the boss. I told you you could have him, and I meant it. I'm not a liar. I won't go back on my word.]
It's not like the narrator hasn't sworn Team Rocket to be unforgivable or anything, or to realize this fact after the tournament's over and it bonded with Nate a little more and to rework this idea into its own favor by deciding Nate's the exception and Eskar's/rocket boss isn't, especially with mewtwo on its side. So Eskar isn't really incompetent or demanding to try to get something more substantial... for some reason I feel like the child should be picking up on this train of thought, but maybe its only good at looking at people like tools rather than seeing when other people are doing it.

Because Eskar's knows she's expendable in the end. If she has no idea what she's doing, she's not as useful as she thinks.

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

If the child doesn't like it and isn't trapped in promise (which is dubious) then it can beat up Eskar and run away, possibly with Mewtwo/Nate in tow. It helps Eskar that it doesn't have the antipathy to pokemon as it does to humans, but the child is still pretty volatile. Eskar should have a backup plan that may include sleeper agents, along with whatever this plan to ensure the child's cooperation is...

...but does she really want or need Nate? So this plan may ensure both the child's cooperation and their capturability.
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