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Thread Description
A Diamond Storylocke. Celebrating 8 years with Chapter 68, posted on 4.30.20 [thread currently under construction]

Garish Garchomp

Friendly Neighborhood Landshark
Administrator
Moderator
🌱Featurer
Writer
Pokédex No.
43
Caught
Jun 12, 2019
Messages
91
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
he's ok i guess
First things first:
Toby stills, crouches and wiggles his butt in the air like a feline preparing to pounce.
This is the greatest image ever put to words.

The battle was wonderfully paced. Tense and intensely strategic, you did such a great job of taking a battle that was drab in-game and made it big in-story, both through the fight itself as well as our little moment of panic from Nat (which I'll get to in just a sec).
Byron busies himself with pouring another glass, finishing off the bottle. I take another sip of mine, but it’s no longer combatting the emptiness. It just makes me dizzy and nauseous. “I saw how shook up you were during our battle -- and I know the media’s got to be pestering you nonstop. I just thought it might help give you some closure to know for sure -- it was an accident. A horrible, horrible accident.”
I know I like to do some crazy shit in my stories, but you? You're the goddamn evil genius. Like, even knowing going in, reading this just made my jaw drop bc of how goddamn insidious it is. And not just that, but running with the possible implications, letting the reader know that "Oh, you think it's bad? Well let Nat tell you how it could be even worse than you think it is already!" Speaking of...
I’m not really sure if it’s an act of mercy or cowardice that I walk out of his office, and leave him in the dark.

Sometimes it’s just better not to know.
What an incredible end to the scene, and what an incredible little cap on the theme you'd been hammering home for a while. Nat's spent the entire story between various rocks and hard places, but emotionally this is quite possibly the roughest one yet, because it's not a case of Nat being outright wrong or chickenshit or whatever. I mean, she is a chickenshit, but this isn't exactly why. Like... is it better not to know? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that she leaves him out? I legitimately don't know and I legitimately still think about it now as I write this, that's how powerful it is.

And then, just, the snowballing yet again. I absolutely love Chapter 66 just because it's almost like your form of a bottle episode. It's just Nat, and Chase, and this simmering pot that finally reaches a boil by the end, and it's basically just everything a setup chapter should be. The pacing draws you in because they're working towards something, and while they're working towards something concrete there's also the background buildup, the character shit that's also piling up, and it legitimately just wowed me as a mini-character study of these two. Also, tinfoil Chase is a wonderful little demon and I love him.
 
A

AstroDeath

Guest
Welp. Here we are. I got one more spoiler bomb after this and I'm officially all caught up! Absolutely loving your story, man! 51 through 60, with the extras thrown in too.
I forgot all about Fantina, to be honest... which is silly because ghosts are my favorite type and mismagius is pretty fucking baller (surprise, surprise, I think mismagius is cool lol.) Makes sense Chase would get spooked about a ghost gym--oh wow, even more with the air of mystery around her gym. That's a head scratcher that it's not televised, considering how all the other gyms have been up to this point. I'm expecting some crazy shit now.

Nat playing hardball. I liked her 'cornering' Riley in that regard, with the line, 'Then show me an ounce of respect and actually level with me for once.' There's been a whole helluva lot of dancing around things, on both sides, and it's cool to finally see that recognized and dealt with. Ah, so there's pressure on Riley's end. That's harsh, honestly, even with the two of them fighting like cats and dogs all the time; there is a budding friendship between the two of them, whether they show it or not, and not being able to address that or suffer consequences from the League is tough.

Oh that's bad but... understandable. Poor Toby, getting sent out to act as a punching bag haha.

Ah man. Nat going back and forth on wondering if Riley's chat was genuine or not's a bummer to read. I get her being suspicious, but the guy, compared to how he's acted up until then, laid quite a bit bare on the table.
Wasn't expecting a pov change here! Lookin' like it's a League person too, and important at that. Garchomp sooo... Cynthia? Even with my relatively little Sinnoh knowledge, I think that's a fair guess.

Maaan. The nostalgia at work here is so great. This absolutely has shades of vacations to visit the grandparents (though here, a bit more to it with pokemon stuff and legendary mysteries.) Ah, yup, so I did call it! This is a fun side of Cynthia, with what little there's been of her up until this extra; she didn't seem like a hardass at the meeting, but she's still a top person in the League and can't quite express herself without that air about her. Here in a more intimate setting, even if the reasoning behind her visit might be more 'official', she can take off the champion mantle a bit.

Galactic looking to be way more dangerous than their usual derpy selves in your run. This, alongside the past few times they've showed up, has me wondering how you'll portray Cyrus. I imagine the guy's going to have a helluva spine to him. Oooh, the fucking flex over those Galactic members at the shrine! Took me a second to recognize the spiritomb lead up.

Was not expecting Cyrus already, much less for him and Cynthia to have a history between them. They're oddly more cordial than I thought they'd be. That said, they both know the other has a lead on them. It's interesting, seeing the tit-for-tat to their conversation where, while they're polite and reminiscing and enjoy the other's company, there's still enough bubbling beneath to be wary about.

And as I whip that bit of the comment out, they start rattling sabers a bit more openly. I'm definitely intrigued by Cyrus and Cynthia now, especially to see the old friends come to blows in the future as they diverge more.
Ha! After the beginning to this chapter, and having done that fanwork for you, it's fun to note how similar Nat and my dude Elliot are. They might be sour for their own reasons, but they're grumpy in similar ways, both smoke their own brand, and have no issues giving people a bit of shit haha. The fact both of them have warmed up to their companions too, with Elliot and his crew and Nat and Chase and Riley.

Over two-thirds of the way in, it's jarring that Nat is so worked up about being alone. She definitely wouldn't be so antsy in the past, and it's interesting to see her act that way when she was double-backing on believing what Riley had told her when he showed some honesty.

Ain't that the sweetest, with Tucker evolving! I loved that moment between the two of them, even with the thunderclap breaking the mood; even evolved and way bigger, he's still the same 'mons. Crazy to think the same poke-phobia trainer now has a giant war tortoise.

That Dani note's good stuff. A little shot in the arm Nat needed, to know she's not just meandering around alone or just a person to be protected. Friends are hard to make, man. Gotta keep the good ones when you find 'em.

Chase has got such a big heart and a real keen awareness of his pokemon. Definitely a lot different than your run of the mill trainer who'd think it's crazy to 'retire' a pokemon that gives their team coverage.

Fantina's battle is as much a performance as it is a battle, I take it. Makes sense considering her theme. Holy shit, the paperwork and waivers! What is this gonna be, a fucking ghost rave (Please let it be a ghost rave!). Man, ending this chapter on that is a sneaky cliffhanger. Fantina's gonna be nuts.
You know, it honestly sounds like it's pretty fucking cool to work at Fantina's gym. I imagine she's likely one of those high-maintenance bosses who's probably stuck up and rude but like... the receptionist seems like he gets a major kick out of the stuff the ghosts can do and spooking the challengers. Of all the gyms, this one's probably built the most to really piss off Nat. Fantina taking her time, bunches of mind games beforehand, and bunches of paperwork before even fighting. Nat's a lot more patient than she lets on not to have just walked out.

No pun intended... I'll let that one slide because I feel Nat's the type of person to hate puns just like me; that was a natural one, so I'm assuming it was begrudging on her part haha.

This oughtta be interesting, with Nat's uneasiness around pokemon and now fighting ghosts. I figure Fantina's the type of gym leader who catches on to her challengers' fears and quirks pretty quickly to weaponize that against 'em, so Nat might be in for a shitty time. Ooooh, I hate gengar and I hate this one. Nat needs to destroy them.

Nat's thinking quicker this battle! I'm loving the pacing of this fight, and you can really tell you've gotten your practice in with writing them this far in. The way the gengar is constantly all over the place, putting Nat and Tucker in a spot to figure out how to fight back, and then with the on the fly ideas from Nat made it really fun to follow. Same with the drifblim, as Fantina's clearly got a strategy going on here: wear 'em down with the hit and run.

Alright, that's just dirty. I've a feeling it'll be 'justified' because the trainer needs to focus or some shit, but man ain't that gross going after Nat instead of her pokemon. No wonder Chase was really out of it after his fight; poor Nat here, reliving the Galactic shit. She's gonna be owed quite the apology from the League for this, man.

Willow best be ready, the poor little balloon. Can't say I have a good feeling about this matchup. I can't think of another storylocke I've read that has a mismagius (or honestly many other ghosts, outside of my own really), but I'm loving the way you've portrayed them all. Mismagius literally feels like a witch out for blood; were it not a pokemon caught and trained, a wild one would be absolutely terrifying. Oh, Willow coming through!

Ah ha, knew it. Fantina's full of shit, Kalos be damned. Dirty's dirty, man, no matter how you wanna try and paint using spooky ghost magic on a trainer. That said, this was the kinda lowkey worldbuilding I love to see in runs, especially between different regions; it's details that are in the background that flesh out things without intruding on the narrative.
I'm glad Nat didn't give Chase too hard a time for not forewarning her about Fantina's tricks. Makes sense to not want to have the gym leader have anymore ammo to use against a challenger before the battle. Nat likely would'a just said hell no and called her journey good at 4 badges haha.

God, I... think I might've left off around chapter 60, now that I'm thinking about it, and everytime Willow comes up to the plate I can't help but feel a bit of dread... but I don't remember if she bites it or not. So here we go, even more worrying even with it being a friendly between Nat and Chase. Oh... oh no, there it is. Willow was a wonderful little ghosty; the way you had her aftermath described compared to Fantina's shows the difference in the way the 'mons were trained/evolved. A real sad farewell too, with Nat unable to do anything except get angry at herself. RIP in the After-Afterlife, Willow.

There's been a pattern with Nat and Chase, and Riley sometimes too, where when they make it to a new city it's the 'get a palce to sleep settled, then grab dinner.' I didn't really catch on to it 'til now, honestly, but it's a fun thing I've noticed. It's a bit repetitive but there's charm to that? For all the shit that's been thrown Nat's way, that repetition lends itself to a nice routine Nat can take solace in. Gives more time for her and Chase to be together too, what with how their paths don't always align. Oh man, I loved this, ' It's not fair for me to keep holding him back -- to keep him tethered to the ground when he's meant to soar.' The dynamic the two of 'em have built up, with Nat warming up to not being the loner she started out as and Chase's honest to god sincerity, is so sweet to see.

Aww man, that's a rough scene. It was hard for her to come to terms with it int he moment, but now, trying to replace Willow, the bad vibes are knocking on her door pretty hard. I think what I like most about her bit of a breakdown is that it isn't entirely sadness? She's frustrated with Willow's passing, frustrated with herself, and torn over the fact Willow helped keep her alive and she couldn't repay the favor. Definitely a relatable feeling at just... being so frustrated with a bad hand dealt your way.
Honestly, I think what I enjoy most about Chase and Nat is that there really hasn't been signs of them being a couple, as is easy to do with characters? They've just built up a damn good friendship and come across, honestly, more like a pair of siblings. Him knowing she'd give the press hell if they pestered her about her life and relationship with Chase was a good laugh. Okay, not gonna lie. The fucking hug did me a whole lot of good to see. Absolutely loved it. That's what I'm talking about!

The finer points of Nat learning to be a trainer are so cool to see develop. Her realizing how to command Toby in battle better is so much different than her earlier self, who wouldn't have paid attention to the fact he doesn't respond well to her normal battle command style. Quagsires, man. Almost impossible to make them unlikable haha.

Haha, Riley trying to make her feel better about being underdressed is the same stuff I tell my mom and sister when they worry about certain places. Ain't nobody else in the building matter, and the restaurant will only care about the money you're giving them for their food. Riley with the turn around though, noting Nat's discomfort, was a nice touch.

This was a fun ending to this chapter. I was sorta worried Nat might get a bit angrier than she intended and thing's would get weird, but they went right back to the more playful ribbing. I can understand finding it hard to accept help from others like Nat does. It's easy to get into a mindset where the world's on your shoulders and you don't want other's to bear the load, so you chug along at it yourself. Friends are there for a reason though and you gotta lean on 'em every now and then.
I'm getting a kick out of the weather change going on in Sinnoh now. That shift from Autumn to Winter gives me the energy I need as a Winter Baby born in December. You also don't really see a lot of runs, I feel, set in the colder seasons, so it provides for a lot of fun, different descriptions.

Another cool strength I've noticed in your writing is how you take a lot of relatable little things and infuse them into the story. Here, with the penny press, it's that little tourist knick knack you almost always see at places. It's a fun little comfort, seeing these kinda things as Nat's journeying along.

Okay, something's a bit fishy here. Admittedly, I'll be honest: I do remember what goes on here from when I last read. But I enjoy the build up, coming at it a second time around, with these guards and Riley. There's bunches of subtle body language bits you sprinkle in and you can tell things are escalating--or rather, could, if someone decided to get a bit trigger happy. Riley flexing his League position's always fun to see, especially when it's for a better cause here than usual.

The little sneak in party was fun. Nat doesn't get to be around others too much, outside of Chase and Riley. Occasionally Dani, too, but that's even less now. I'd like to think under different circumstances, she could've been buddies with the mine group. She's not entirely as rude to strangers as she could be, so it was nice to see her not be totally prickly around others.
I've never really thought about machops/machokes/machamps are 'wild' pokemon, I think in part to their humanoid shape and how they're usually paired up with workers in the games and shows? Seeing a machoke in the wild here though is terrifying. Their already absolute beasts, so to come across an angry one who wants to kick your ass out of their territory's a nerve breaker. Oh fuck, it's going for Nat! Yeah, this wild battle's got a bit more edge than ones in the past. All the warnings about Iron Island's pokemon were spot on.

There it is. More of that sketchy shit with the guards. I wish I could say I'm gonna be entirely surprised with the twist coming up here soon; that said though, I do clearly remember being stunned by it when I first read it. I think it was the first story I had read up where a death in-story was an actual person and not one of the pokemon, and I thought (and still think!) that's such a cool way to toy with the perceptions of a storylocke.

Vera comes across as holier-than-thou (though I imagine that's more from Nat's lens haha), but her picking at Nat's impulsiveness is always fun. It's clear she doesn't just find Nat as some tag-a-long with Riley and that she does want to see good things happen for her. Bit of a no-nonsense attitude though that doesn't have time for bullshit though haha.

Oh shit though! I didn't remember the turn around with the guard. Dude just went straight for blood to make sure his position's better, going after Nat like that. Shit, Vera laying down the law once Nat and Riley get into it. It's harsh, and Nat only got into it out of panic, but damn is Vera not having it.

Forgot about Cyrus here too (so even if I know the big twist, things are still fuzzy enough to surprise me!) He's so much different here than he was in that extra, and it's scary to see how easy the change was for him, going from an old friend to this menace in the mine. The fact he came down, being a man of his word, is an interesting character trait for him. I've a feeling you've a great villain here, especially once I'm into uncharted territory.
Riley losing his cool here is so frightening. It's absolutely unlike him and really makes the seriousness of their predicament stand out. For leading up to deaths like his, it does so much to make them hit harder. His 'snapping' moment, where he whirls on Nat for all of her questions, is really something.

Reading this chapter now, it's honestly eerie. The mood is already tense, with them trapped, but seeing Nat's anxiety ramping up to the extreme and Riley trying to keep both of their cools, even with knowing for once he doesn't have a plan, is doing it for me. It's honestly kinda better knowing what happens because I can tune into all the little ways you make the situation more terrifying and connect the dots.

Daaamn. I forgot how sudden the collapse was. Literally zero to sixty in a few seconds. Riley's there one moment and gone the next. Having read a lot more runs now than I did when I first hit this point in Impulse, I honestly feel this is still one of the premier scenes on the forum--if not the most. The whole feeling of being trapped and at the mercy of Galactic, and then with the mine collapse leading into a serious character's death, plays with so much action and emotions it's crazy. I know you've mentioned worrying about how your run is perceived, with it being a work in progress spanning years, but it's solid, man. Says so much about the development of your writing up to this point here (and I know for sure things will get even spicier once I'm reading more current Aurea writing haha.)

Vera's reactions gives me so many chills. She's such a force of nature, plowing away at the rocks and then trying to get at Cyrus, and then shielding her and Nat from harm--and then with her absolutely losing it with Riley's death. This scene is just straight up raw anguish and it's absolutely brutal to read. You've worked up such a good pokemon-trainer and friend connection between her and Riley, especially with their first run in with danger, and to see that tie severed is heartbreaking. Seeing the strong ones break is emotionally tough.

God, that I don't remember, with the paramedics. Vera was already antsy enough when Riley was first hurt, but now she's unhinged. To others, seeing a pokemon like that means bad news. Straight up stopped for a moment when I read potential euthanisia. They've gone through so much and to have that be an option, especially with her grief, doubles down on the heartbreak. Christ, Nat's quick thinking there does my heart so much good. I wouldn't've been able to handle it if Vera was taken out of the story that way, after all that.

That phone call at the end, with Nat breaking down, got me. Had to take a breather there at the end because of how real that felt, with hitting a super low point and just calling home. And her saying mama. Jesus. This here is why I really love Nat and her situation with her mother as much as I do; no matter the bad stuff between them, it's still mother and daughter with them and that's not broken.

Straight up dope. I'm so glad to have gotten back to this point because I respect your skill as a writer and enjoy things so much more now.
Thank goodness Nat didn't need to worry about hospital bills. I can't imagine the absolute strain that would've put on her and her mom, considering their circumstances. Has me wondering who this mystery good samaritan is too. I sorta went with a similar thought process as Nat, writing off Chase and then thinking about Dani. I'm honestly thinking it might be Cyrus? What had me liking him in that moment he went up the elevator was him coming across as genuinely sorry Nat got caught up in his plan. Shit's so much deeper than how the story started off... or oh, maybe Rowan too, as the mystery person?

Or the mystery person can just show up and ruin my guesses haha. Though they seem like a Galactic--oh, they have to be, mentioning Mars. Oh. I'm dumb, had to reread his description to catch it. It's Saturn. Props to you for making him seem actually threatening (all of them too, come to think of it. Galactic's fucking goofy haha.) Oh--he namedrops himself. Well, I can feel a bit better about myself knowing I worked it out; normally I'm terrible at it, so I'll take my minor victory!

Ah fuck, man. Got me again. I very much understand Nat's pain here, with feeling ashamed of not wanting to go to the funeral. It's beyond painful to come to terms with; you don't want to because it means coming to terms with the fact a close one's truly gone, but you feel like shit for not wanting to go and insulting their memory. I'm not arrogant enough to lie: you got a bit of tears outta me here, because of how relatable the raw emotions are. You're in rare company, right alongside glance now (don't tell anybody though.) I love so much how she thinks back on her mom and then segues that into sharing grief with Dani.

I feel a bit at a loss of words here but like. This one hit like a truck, and I appreciate having read it now. This fallout chapter's so good, and as what I think is the first chapter I'm reading now without any beforehand knowledge, I was not at all prepared for it.
I'm gonna be at a loss of words again with this extra. I got sucekd into it and didn't really hop back and forth with my thoughts as I usually do. I should've seen something about Riley coming but this blindsided me. It's too damn sweet, with Riley's thoughts about him being in trouble, and then it unfortunately turned in a direction I was hoping it wouldn't go, with his mother. Seeing this now, and comparing it to Nat's home life, it's crazy to see it wasn't something the two of them ever could've talked about; though with their relationship, it wouldn't much be a subject to share.

Myu god, him and Dani are ridiculous haha. I love them. I love this storyteling you got going on, especially as an ode to Riley after his passing. We get his death and the funeral, and then this extra here goes back further to sort of celebrate his life, from kid to adult. Expands on his friendship and connection with Dani too, to boot. And the Vera origin. Loved the tie in to the party chapter too.
Oh now ain't that FAR too relatable, with not wanting to get out from under the blankets during Winter haha. Especially now, with this goddamn uber freeze going on.

So she did end up going home. I shouldn't be surprised, honestly, but I wasn't expecting it. Oh my god, her old friend Dalton's too much, jesus. Seems like a mother-daughter connection going on here. Dude's a real, uh, charmer. Glad to see her get outta there.

Oh my god. Clementine is back! Clem! It took me a moment 'cause I was like, 'wait what?', and then it was explained. I love this way more than I should. Honestly, I think the blissey around's good for both Nat and her mom. Man, Nat thinking on the memories and almost leaving without the cake almost had me shaking my head, especially with the board game mention. I'm so glad that scene ended the way it did, with her staying around for a game. These little details man (feel like I've said that over and over and over haha.)

This is heartwarming, seeing a change in life at home. It's not picture perfect, and I imagine there's still some issues to deal with, but it's good to see Nat and her mom mending things back together. The circumstances that led to it might not be good, but at least there's a silver lining going on.

I don't think there's a story I've read I can point to that's had a similar arc that you got going on with Nat? With nuzlockes, it's all about the journey. Keep going and going, gyms, badges, all that jazz. Here though, after the tragedy, Nat's back home after getting almost halfway to the E4; as much a bummer as it is to be cut short, it's more than understandable to be back home. I appreciate this shift in the story a lot.

Oh man. Was not expecting her to cut her hair like that. I love this trope, where a character alters themself somehow to get away from their past. Fresh start kinda deal. I hope this turns into something good for Nat. Straight up, I've no idea where the story's gonna go now and I love it.
 
M

Manifold

Guest
I remember seeing Impulse when I first came to the forums and roamed through FCR, in the summer of 2012. The average storylocke was much different back then, and Impulse always felt like it was breaking through new ground and aspiring toward lofty heights, even in its early chapters: the stirring voice and first-person point of view, the complexity of Nat's relationship to her Pokemon, and a journey whose greatest stakes are inward and personal. I disappeared from the forums for various reasons soon after, so coming back to the forums in 2018, I was pleasantly surprised to see this around. I began reading again, and found that it's gone to even further heights than before.

The early chapters still hold up really well. Even if they don't necessarily have the polish of what your writing grows into, they do a wonderful job of taking us into Nat's world and showing us the emotional atmosphere of her lived experience in Sinnoh. The opening is still beautiful, six years later, and I'm taken in by the wistful bitterness and the sense of a life that could've gone better. The flood of bills, the idea of lighting them on fire, and then the transition from that smoke to cigarette smoke is lovely, and already gives us so much about Nat and her life, all narrated with a strong and memorable voice.

The story sticks close to the gameplay early on, but that isn't a bad thing; you breathe life into the quieter, smaller moments of Pokemon trainings and journey, and let us get to know the characters. Impulse has always had lively and amazing characters, immediately from the start, and watching the development of Nat's relationship to her Pokemon and to other humans has always been fascinating. There's her gradual acclimation to Tucker and Kiara while training, or the saga of all those damn Bidoofs (definitely one of my favorite subplots of the early chapters). As I came to it again in the story, I still remembered, six years later, that battle where Nat sends out her Bidoof as a sacrifice, stalling for time, and Kiara comes back to rip the opponent up; it makes the experience of the early game routes come alive. And I love the brief exchange in the Pokemon Center, when Nat tosses Tucker parts of her sandwich and they share a brief glance of acknowledgment and understanding. From the beginning, you always nailed those singular, powerful moments imbued with emotional atmosphere.

Tracing Nat's relationship with her Pokemon, as she slowly fears them less and less, until she begins to even embrace them, is one of reading Impulse's greatest pleasures. I feel one of the biggest changes for her early on was when she caught Ivan. At that point, I feel like she began to like her Pokemon a bit more, if only for trained battling and for keeping the wild Pokemon at bay; she definitely still had a long way to go before she'd begin to consider them more as companions. Even though the Pokemon don't speak, and even though we're seeing them from Nat's biased and filtered point of view, they're still so vivid. You give us these glimpses, through body language or subtle interactions or brief exchanges, that make us realize that these Pokemon are characters in their own right as well, and the way you write it desperately made me hope that Nat would eventually realize she should see them as her equals and as her friends.

So I loved it when she began to try learning more about her Pokemon, as more than battlers. Again, the way you use these intimate moments along the routes to develop this part of the story is amazing: how she begins to let them hunt for their own food, or the way she sometimes allows her Pokemon to sleep outside their Pokeballs, around or even near her (or when she doesn't allow it, the loneliness she feels in their absence). It adds such emotional depth and development to their relationship.

And the humans are just as great! Chase is such a wonderful rival for Nat, the way his kindness and openness and and willingness to engage contrast with Nat's bitter, reclusive shell. One development that particularly stood out to me was that twist of Nat's Bidoof killing Chase's, rather than the rival's killing hers. The way the Bidoof's death upsets Chase is in stark contrast to Nat's lack of sympathy, or how she reacts two the deaths of her two Bidoofs (although she does start to feel guilty, I think, with the second). Chase's struggle to connect with Nat adds up with the way she sees Pokemon to reinforce that first impression of the girl who wants to burn the bills away with her cigarette lighter, and what she must think of the world around her. The human element of Chase, I think, was also such a major component in giving me the sense that there's much more to the barriers that Nat surrounds herself with, beyond a phobia of Pokemon, and making me wonder about her life in Twinleaf growing up.

Then, in the background, there's Team Galactic. Your Team Galactic has always felt dangerous, and it was a thrill to see how all the setup you did years ago pays dividends later. They are SINISTER. Not overtly dangerous or criminal in the public eye, but the threat is felt and it is looming. The way they use money, covert operations, etc. even in their early appearances makes them feel so subversive, like we'll never know when they'll strike or from what angle, and I think in some way that was even scarier than the threat of physical harm that also existed.

So even in the earliest chapters, I've always been grabbed by the characters and Nat's world of Sinnoh: a world that she feels doesn't care about her, and she resents it for that.

I'd estimate that for me, Impulse transitioned from its early stages to its middle stages roughly around Ivan's death. God, that moment feels so huge whenever I read it, and it's just as big now when I'm writing all of this. She lost a couple Bidoofs here and there before, but Ivan was the first major loss, the first time Nat lost a Pokemon that she was beginning to get genuinely attached to. And it was her own carelessness, the way she coasted along with no ambition than to get to the next battle, to get to the next stack of cash, that caused it. How she reacts is gripping. You are phenomenal at writing emotion. You write it well when it's subdued, a tonal quality in the background, and you write it well when emotion is heavy, at the forefront. I really admire the way you do scenes of heightened emotion, how your narration blends mental and physical reaction together to paint the scene. She snaps at her other Pokemon, she has that quiet moment of sleeping with just Tucker outside (again, the way you use sleep through Impulse is terrific), and there's also the fallout that perists in the next few chapters, whether she is yet again rejecting Chase's kindness and patience, or journeying through the routes with an emptiness lingering around her. And all this stuff you're so good at, emotional atmosphere and characterization and these quiet reflective moments, comes together in that beautiful scene when she walks through the rain and the sound of the storm reminds her of Ivan.

Impulse's middle phase is also when Riley really comes into the mix. He'd already been introduced at this point, during Team Galactic's second encounter, but in these later chapters he begins to travel alongside Nat and adds a whole new dimension to the journey. He and Vera have such a strong influence on Nat and her relationship to her Pokemon, and they really help begin to lift them beyond just trainer and battler. In the early chapters, Chase helped Nat get over her fear of her Shinx, and now it's Riley helping Nat treat her Pokemon properly as she tried to clean Kiara in the bathtub. Vera, just by existing in companionship with Riley, already challenges Nat's perception of Pokemon and what they can be in relation to humans, but her more direct conversations confrontations with Nat are incredible (especially that training scene!). Nat definitely grows because of it, although it's still in a Nat-esque way and of course, in Nat-esque narrative voice. I don't really have anywhere else to put this into the comment, but it's in my notes, so I want to share this gem of a line: ""At first he just trips over his own tail and gurgles like a fucking moron, but when I finally get it through his thick skull that I want him to battle he stops fooling around."

Again, tragically, much of this character development may be nowhere better encapsulated than in death. This time, Dash's. I don't have much to say here besides that once again, this was some beautiful writing, and again, I admire how excellent you are at writing scenes when emotions are high. And how it's not just a one-time thing, how it carries over; Nat's raw anger next time she sees Dani/Maylene was real and great.

But as Nat begins to embrace her Pokemon and moves past her fear, at least specifically for them if not always for wild ones, one of the other delights of her time with Riley was showcasing how it's just not just Pokemon that Nat's had a hard time in life with. It's people, too. I think at some point during these middle chapters, it really hit home hard that at this stage, Nat probably connects with her Pokemon team better than she connects with other human beings. It feels like there's always some sort of friction between her and either Chase or Riley, and even when they bond a bit it never comes easy, always with frustration. So despite all of the character development Nat's already been through, it's amazing that her depth was that there was still so much left to explore, and so much potential for growth and change. This human connection, or rather the struggle to ever really establish one, made me feel like she's always followed by her life in Twinleaf, like a shadow, and made me want to know more about it. There's one moment in particular that really stands out to me: when she's helping out with Riley's nose after she punches it, waking from a nightmare, and she lets us know that she learned to play doctor from taking care of her mom.

But I don't want to miss out on acknowledging that, although the middle phase of Impulse was a fascinating dive into Nat, her Pokemon, and Riley, you had excellent supporting cast as well. Your Team Galactic remained as spooky as ever; the fight with them hunting Nat down, and poisoning Riley, was fucking scary. I loved taking Nat into a meeting with the League, getting to see a glimpse of the high and mighty who lead the world that Nat resents so much. Dani was a wonderful and breakout supporting character, and even in such brief appearances, Rowan's dialogue is amazing.

And then...I already said this, but in what I feel is its third major stage, Impulse takes off to even further heights.

You know, looking back at how all this unfolded, it's Nat's mistakes with Willow that led her to Iron Island in the first place. And while it's somewhat innocuous when I read it the first time around, once I know what happens, once I know what lurks below, reading about Nat deciding to sneak inside the mine just feels awful. It's all her fault. Rereading those scenes makes me angry at Nat. Angry at how she's making decisions that have consequences, but it's others who may be paying the price of those mistakes. But while she's grown ever frustrating lately, she's become even more compelling.

So even though Team Galactic killed Riley, I don't think the blood, at least some of it, can necessarily be washed off Nat's hands, either. And not only does she dodge responsibility, it's gut wrenching to watch Nat take the money and give up.

And with giving up comes going home.

Taking her back to home was a daring storytelling decision. Daring, imaginative, and brilliant. I was spellbound by the Twinleaf chapters. Like I mentioned earlier, I've gotten a chance to see Nat's bitterness at the world, and I've wondered at the hints of what her life was like before her Pokemon journey began. And now, I get to see it, and what Nat makes of it, and what Nat thinks of it. It's a reflection on her past and her present, how she's grown and how she hasn't. The writing is beautiful and, of course, emotional.

And it is complex. I get the sense that Nat doesn't belong here anymore; she should and needs to be out there in the world, somewhere else, doing what's best for her and for others. There's the scene with Dalton. Or how Nat's mom is doing well, until the money begins to grow thin again. Or how her Pokemon aren't quite as thriving, cooped up in Twinleaf. It's almost as if she's come back via transplant, but she and the town are rejecting each other despite her insistence on staying. I get the sense that Nat is hiding, in denial, and stagnating by doing so.

I'll say it again: you excel at writing moments when the emotion is atmospheric, and you excel at writing moments when emotion is extreme. Seeing Vera mourn and wail was heartbreaking. And it hurts to see Nat try to run away from her responsibilities; first trying to give Chase her Pokemon and then trying to hide away or deny parts of the truth. It hurts to see Nat live with the fear of what happened in the mine, and the paranoia of Saturn, haunting her and how it affects her. It hurts to see her decide, again and again, to spurn others away, and make the choice to hide and wither away slowly.

The stakes have gotten so damn high in the latest chapters of Impulse. There's some intrigue with the League, Cynthia covering up for Cyrus, and what Team Galactic is scheming, but honestly the political and world-at-risk stakes are absolutely miniscule compared to the humongous emotional stakes that have swallowed up the entirety of Nat's entire universe. She gets to choose what kind of life she wants to live, what kind of person she wants to be, and the only thing that can stop her is herself. Those are stakes. And I can't wait to have my heart twisted over them some more.

Sincerely, Impulse is an inspiration. Its early strengths in characterization and voice have become even stronger over time, and whatever minor shortcomings it had early on have been fixed as you've grown as a writer. And it's helped pave the way for other storylockes, too, mine included. I've learned from you and Impulse on how to develop relationships between Pokemon and trainers (using moments of sleep or staredowns is pretty much directly borrowed from you), from the emotional quality from your atmosphere, and from your first person present tense. It's a fantastic story, but it also means to me what can be accomplished in writing steadily if someone sticks to it throughout the years. Thank you.
 
K

KittyK13

Guest
I’m a little late to the party, but I just read chapter 44 and I am losing it. I’m writing this to distract myself from the crushing tears that are spilling from me. I’ve been there and had to watch as a pet was euthanized and it just destroyed me. Reading this chapter just brought up all those old feelings and the concerns I have for my old golden retriever who’s health is starting to fail. 

That said, so well written. My creative writing teacher always told me that a sign of a talented writer is being able to elicit emotional responses from their readers. Job well fucking done.
 
A

AstroDeath

Guest
Well. I'm here. I'm caught up and... man. Chapters 61 through 66 this time around, and now I have to wait for new updates as they come like the rest of the gang!
I love the first line of this chapter. I will fight every single person who says Winter sucks and those who cry about the cold and the snow and ice and everything. Miss me with Spring and Summer when I can head out into the peace and quiet of a perfect snowy night; though I will admit, this year's winter storm was a bit too fucking much with how cold it got haha.

Tucker shaking off the snow and getting up is such a great image. Especially with the leaves growing off of him withering up for the snowy season. Him bunkering down at the lake and making it his new spot is really cool, with how Nat manages the size of his evolution and her new life at home.

Oh, oh dear. Is this a Vera release? Man, this is gonna get emotional. Ugh, yeah. She's pretty much feral at first, and knowing how completely opposite that is of her usual self, is a punch to the gut. I normally don't honestly care for lucario as a pokemon, or in nuzlockes, but you won me over with her. This line in particular, 'She slumps at the base of the tree, trembling and looking so small against the forest backdrop.' sorta hits on her change. That ain't her, man. She's the biggest, baddest bitch in town, a straight stonecold warrior.

I sorta saw where Vera was going, and to a point (if it being super blunt and rude) she's right about Team Galactic and Nat's 'cowardice'. Moment Galactic could get away with it, they'd off her quickly and quietly. The moment Vera turned to Tucker though is where she definitely crossed a line. Had it been a good long bit ago and not now, she'd maybe have a point, but boy is she wrong about Nat not caring about her pokemon. I loved Nat's immediate response with the F-Bomb, because hoo boy ain't it fucking well deserved.

Oooh. The end hurts. Caught me by surprise, with Tucker turning away. I'd rather think it's him just sad and tired about the commotion and their argument. As is usually the case with the two of them, both Nat and Vera have points to be made, though with them bristling at one another they can't really properly get them across. This chapter was shorter than I thought heading into it but man does that work wonders for it. Quick as it started, it's over, and all the old feelings are boiling back up.
It's been a little bit since I got back onto the Impulse saddle, so I'm not sure if this is something I'm noticing for the first time that I might not have seen or if it's something with this and the previous chapter; regardless, I'm digging the heavy one liner lead in to the chapters. Short, sweet, straight to the point and sets up the tone of the scene. 

Ah, that's, uh, yeah. Probably the one thing about Winter I hate the most, when all the snow's plowed and pushed to the side and just turns into an icy, grimy slush mountain haha.

It sucks seeing the relative peace Nat found coming home finally giving way back to the usual stress. It wasn't going to last of course, but for all of Vera's upbraiding of her, it was a time where things could come to a resting point. Everybody really needed it, after the wave of grief.

Chase! Man. Isn't that the fucking best and super relatable. There's never a bad time for a hug, and lord knows when I see friends and family after a good while, whether good or bad reasons in between, it's always a hug.

I definitely get her keeping her stuff in, because depression and bad times love to trick you into staying in that insular place, but man. I wish she'd just come out and say loads of shit to Chase because he's the exact kinda dude who'd understand, take it in stride, and go on to help her understand the only one who's holding things against her is herself. This whole back and forth between Chase reaching out and her pushing him away hurts to read, man.

Oooh, welp. I spoke to soon, with her dropping the cliffhanger bomb. Or, well, about to.

Lord. After all that the recent chapters have been, you also throw up this extra bit. I had a good laugh at the silliness of it, and while it sucks to see Riley back because it emphasizes what's been lost with his passing, it's so refreshing to get a taste of his personality again. The energy of a shitfaced but still pretty much goodnatured person is a powerful force to reckon with.
Can't think what the phrase is exactly, but something about when good people are pushed to go to war. I can imagine the thoughts whizzing through Chase's mind and they can't be pretty stuff, with what he probably would like to do to Team Galactic. Guy's a good dude, nice and silly, but man, Chase is a fighter. He'll put a motherfucker in the ground if he has to.

Oh, that's nifty! Both in it being the next 'gameplay' point and story point, with Byron as the sixth gym leader. I love that little weaving of plot and gameplay pragmatism. I'm just hoping Byron can actually do something for the two of them.

I was worried about her talking it out with her mother, but I've been pleasantly surprised. I thought there'd be a rougher exchange between the two, even with the recent coming together that's gone on. They've got such a cool bond because for all the shared blood, and the ugly bits between them, they show their mother and daughter still, even if it isn't as Hallmark Moment as it could be. That shoulder squeeze wasn't for nothing.

I didn't really think of it 'til now, with Nat's mom and Clem but it harkens back to the old show, with Ash's mom and Mr. Mime in a way? Intentional or not, it's almost a reverse of what I remember from the show, where Mr. Mime's uber cheerful and always helping compared to Clem and Nat's mom, where the cheer isn't there but the help's still totally needed.

The throwbacks to Ivan and Dash are so good. It's easy to forget about lost 'mons in the shuffle of moving a story forward, but they've not once ever lost their place with Nat, and her hesitation at pausing the video was bittersweet, and the same goes for recognizing she no longer had a fire type, which early Nat would pay more attention to the lack of the type advantage rather than the pokemon. Character growth is sooo gooood!
Haha, the image of Nat's mom going to fucking town on paparazzi is everything I didn't know I needed. Fuck off, people. Let the girl heal and recuperate! The way her and her mom would look at the coverage of it in different lights is such a sweet difference, even if things seemed to be slipping back to the bad times for them. I will never get enough of the relationship between the two of them, warts and all. 

I am so ready for Nat getting back into the thick of it. Girl needs to get back to kickin' ass and takin' names. Let Byron fucking have it, and then hopefully he's the go-to guy to start getting back at Team Galactic... oh no, the cages. God, that's some fucking messy mind shit right there for her. Ain't even really into the gym and she's already struggling to push back into the fold.

With the way the story changed, I've forgotten how fun and tense your battles are! It sorta hit me the moment before they got into that I'm not sure if something bad will happen or not? And the fact it has me wondering that, even as a little voice in the back of my head, really nails down the way a nuzlocke that's a bit more focused on the gym badge journey should be. Absolutely got the mood down.

Also Toby's a blessing. Big dumb quagsire angel. Annnd the moment the trauma showed up again, I went from complimenting Toby to being absolutely scared shitless he'd be squashed flat... and then fucking back to loving him washing away the sandstorm haha.

Tucker against the bastiodon is such a slugfest kinda matchup. A big tortoise up against a big dinosaur. Alright, wait, no. I was worried about Toby. Now I'm WORRIED about Tucker. Yo, nah, man. Stop. That fucking em dash after 'Metal Burst!' stopped my goddamn heart.

This match up is about how I thought it'd be detailed, with the two Big Bois beating the piss outta one another. Super love the use of all the different moves, especially with another showing of how leech seed can be written into a story. You've gotten so much mileage out of the, from it's early days to Fantina and now Byron. I feel like this victory is the first time Nat's really leaned into the exuberance of winning as a trainer, even with all the stuff weighing her down with Galactic and Riley's passing. Her raising her pokeball after the win was such a power move and I loved it.
Oh my fucking god, I love Byron already. 'Fuck the media, let's talk somewhere quiet' and then proceeds to take out a bottle of scotch. This is a real dude here haha. 

I love the air of realness between them, especially with Byron pouring her a glass after all. Whiskey ain't the cure, but it certainly helps a bit in moderation. I imagine the poor dude probably downed more than he normally would after the news of Riley's passing. Ah, yikes. So Byron's got a stake in it more than just losing a nephew; I didn't really put much thought into the tourists who were caught in the catastrophe too, and that's a really cool extra edge to the mine collapse. 

You've got such a vicegrip on the pulse of this conversation, with Nat knowing what happened for real and Byron not knowing the missing piece. I thought the intrigue in the moment when it happened was some Real Shit, but lord, ain't it tenfold now with Nat here to uncork the stuff nobody really knows. Aw nah, man. Fuck no, I straight gasped when Byron mentioned the energy stuff--fucking hoodwinked by Team Galactic, if I'm reading into it right. I love how this chapter did so much with context, shared grief, and brevity. 

I wish her and Byron could've met under better circumstances. I love the way you've characterized him almost immediately, and I think he'd be the perfect dude to shoot the shit with Nat. Especially having the deets on Riley's younger life. The moment Byron opened up about it being an accident and an energy/chemical reaction thing, I knew damn well Nat'd keep quiet. Don't blame her either, 'cause that'd open a can of worms that'd be impossible to close. Wouldn't be able to accomplish anything either, compared to letting the man have his closure, a lie or not.
Nat likely would've been more believable to Chase had she come right out and said what Byron told her and how she didn't want to drive a railroad spike into a stitched up wound. She hammers herself so much with self-blame and doesn't give herself enough credit though so she takes the route of lying to Chase with Byron not taking her word. Chase's reaction is so energetic, and it's fun seeing how his energy takes different forms, whether when he's excitable, friendly, or agitated. With how anti-League Chase is and how deadset he is on being angry at Byron, I'm afraid Nat's lie might end up causing him to do something harmful in the longrun (but exciting for the story's longrun of course!)

Man. I love this old-school library description. Most of the libraries I grew up with were always pretty good about being modern and I loved them so much (then I ended up working in them too--and now I'm in another state working in a library again.) I'm a book nerd, as I imagine a good bit of the community is too, so it can't be helped. 

Nat's paranoia sucks to see. I feel that's going to be a flaw that'll come to bite her in the ass, whether Saturn and the gang are actually so many steps ahead of her or not. Annnd Chase isn't on schedule so now I'm paranoid. Devious writing strategy. Oh thank the lord haha. Dude didn't go to university, but he sure as shit has the stamina to do research all night, even if it's for conspiracy hunting.

Oh jeez. My Mainer family up north had me unable to read 'wicked smart' as anything but 'wicked smaht' and now Chase is a New Englander haha.

Quick as a whip, ain't he? That said, I think, especially knowing what I do as the reader that he can't know, he's a bit too quick to jump at the League and Galactic being super pals. That fucking extra with Cyrus and Cynthia was so good, man. 

Ohhhh nooo. I was hoping this wouldn't happen, with Nat and Chase coming to blows like this over what Nat can't really share with him. Man. I sat here thinking there'd be a bigger explosion between them, and I almost think that would've been easier to read than how the chapter slinks off into a muted disquiet. It damn well better not be a goodbye! 

I did it. I reached the current end and I'm up to date and. I'm buckled up but it's not fucking helping, man. What a brutal scene ender.
 

Aurea

Moderator
Moderator
🎇Contributor
Writer
Pokédex No.
25
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
54
Location
Sinnoh Region
Nature
Calm
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Grass, Steel
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #726
Hello everyone! It's April 30th, which is a day that has become very, very near and dear to my heart -- today is Impulse's 7th anniversary! Seven years ago today I was sitting in the worn out recliner in my childhood home's living room, putting off filling out college scholarship applications in favor of reading through a few chapters of a story I'd been working on. I eventually worked up the nerve to post, but I had no idea just how important this story or this community would become to me. Since I first posted I've finished college, moved to the city, got lucky enough to marry the man of my dreams, adopted the BEST dog ever (not biased), launched my career, and purchased my first home -- which, funny enough, I'm posting this from the recliner in my own living room, so things came full circle I guess. xD So much has changed over the past seven years, but Impulse has always been a constant. I feel like it's grown up with me, in a sense.

Not to get too sappy, but I just wanted to thank you. The nuzlocke community has been a part of my life for some time now, and I'm thankful for every creator, lurker, reader, commenter, etc. that I've had the fortune to cross paths with. Thank y'all for inspiring me to continue to chip away at this silly story for so long. <3 I'm so excited to have a new chapter to share with y'all, as well as a new banner! Big thanks to @OLIVINEARC for creating not just this new banner, but all the ones before it. Each and every one is very special to me. ;w;
@Revenant
Aaaaa, thank you so much! That means so much to hear, that the emotional stuff didn’t seem overwrought or anything and the chapter was balanced out. Don’t worry about missing commenting on chapters -- it means so much that you take the time to keep up at all, because I know you’re swamped! ;w;
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@glancesherlock
I’m elated to hear that they still come across as a threat even when not physically present! So so elated. I figured a big organization like that has bigger fish to fry that my burnout bby, so it made sense to me that Saturn would just manipulate the hell out of her to keep her in line. Nat’s smarter than she gives herself credit for, but she’s met her match in Saturn -- the dude is brilliant and he knows exactly how to get the reaction out of people that he wants.

Ah c’mon, when have I ever given you reason to think something would happen to my sunshine boy!!! As far as monstrous ways go, I’ve learned a lot from you my dear. c:

It’s a fantastic feeling, yes! :D I’d been waiting so long… Chase is a good boy but he’s also headstrong, so we’ll have to see~ (I’d head to the liquor store just in case)
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@AstroDeath
It did my heart so much good to see how much you liked Dash. ;w; You’re absolutely right haha, I was catching these Pokemon going “holy shit, talk about exposure therapy” xD And yes, horses are a lot like dogs in that way -- give ‘em enough treats and eventually you’ll be best buds hehe. She has definitely made some big steps toward caring properly for her Pokemon at this point, and I’m really glad you caught on to those moments. (and the body language!! That means a lot to hear, I always want her babies to have tons of personality even if they can’t speak up ;w; )

I’m also glad you picked up on the significance of Nat’s social status vs. Riley’s, despite them both growing up in similar conditions. Even if he is a tactless ass at times. xD The two of them are a little too similar, at times. You’re right that this would’ve gone a lot differently if she’d been with Chase instead. Like you mentioned later, Riley’s emotional intelligence isn’t always the best.

LMAO Jansport backpacks, I hate that I know exactly what you mean. xD Those things last a lifetime. So that’s canon, now.

Crasher Wake is indeed a goofball, but he don’t fuck around. I came so, so close to losing Tuck there and I was horrified. Drew the reins back waaaaay far with that one. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done -- and I don’t know how I could’ve justified Nat continuing there, if he had. Also it warms my heart to hear he made your list. ;w; He’s not as wacky as Jade, fun as Ivan was, or snuggly as Kiara, so I don’t think he’s often considered a favorite -- but he’ll always be my big baby boy. ;w;

Riley def had it coming, especially as the only person in the world that can so easily get a rise out of Chase. xD But yeah, it was satisfying to write that part. It’s not often Nat’s justified in calling someone out. Ooooh yes, I LOVE the connection you’ve made between economic status and that mentality of not wanting anything to be wasted. I think that’s really important, and it’s fascinating to consider -- especially when writing a character who is dealing with people who didn’t have that background.

LORD I still adore the hell out of this meme, and the Riley one. You really are the king, and none of us are worthy. xD

Vera is loyal to a fault, almost. xD Riley can do no wrong in her eyes, and she doesn’t have time for what she considers to be Nat’s nonsense. For all their faults though, they really are a good team and I was excited to get to showcase that (even if it always ends badly for Riley, lol). Vera shows no mercy. I’m glad she’s becoming one of your favorites, despite being a Lucario -- her relationship with Riley (among other things, which come later) has definitely paved the way for Nat to start opening up to her team more.
Awkward kindergartner steps is a good way to put it, honestly. xD I loved that you picked up on her noticing Vera’s wound. Having her interact with a Pokemon that’s human in all the ways that matter was crucial to her progression. Of course, we know the direction their relationship takes, but there was definitely the potential there early one for them to become close.

I’m glad you liked the exchange between Nat and Riley. ;w; They always did butt heads, but you’re right. After surviving trauma together, you grow a lot closer and develop more trust and respect. And it’s allowing a place for genuine care and friendship to blossom.

The Willow meme sdflkajsdklfjsa, I’ve been having the BEST time going back through and rereading your comments to reply and seeing these sprinkled in. I’m sorry about Willow, though. ;; I wasn’t expecting so many people to grow fond of her, especially that early in. But yes, Nat’s absolutely going soft hehe.

You don’t know how stoked I was to get feedback on that dream sequence from the nightmare connoisseur himself! I definitely thought it was important to show the toll holding shit in has taken on her, especially with all the creep shit that’s been going on. Also very glad to see the gym battle was intense for you!

And… well ;; I’m glad Dash’s death had an impact on you, but I realize it hits close to home for a lot of people so I sorta feel bad for that. I’m happy to hear you’re Nat’s her relationship with her mom! It’s one of my favorites to write, honestly.

The League is absolutely weird. xD It’s so great to hear your thoughts on the cast of the dinner party, and see what stood out to you. It was a huge challenge to write, but also a lot of fun. And yes, for all her earlier mistakes, at heart Dani really is a good person. ;w; You’re right that having a female friend is something else entirely for her.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the Extra, with Cynthia! Man, that one was an absolute blast to write. Can’t wait for you to see more of Cyrus and Cynthia both as the story progresses. C:

Nat and Elliot have so many similarities, it’s honestly uncanny. xD And it means reading through LitS gave me a lot of inspo, hehe. Glad you’re picking up on how shook up she is about shit though, since that plays an important role later on…

Knowing your love of ghosts (minus Gengar lol), I was dying to see your thoughts on this battle! It’s honestly my favorite I’ve ever written -- the ghosties made for a fun time. Jazzed as hell to see the pacing felt right, and that you liked the portrayal of Mismagius. Had a lot of fun writing it.

Shit, you got a lot further than you thought! Willow was a good little ghost, I was bummed I didn’t get to keep her around long. :c It definitely didn’t sting Nat as hard as Ivan or Dash did, but it’s an important/formative death all the same.

I’m glad you still enjoyed the build up to Iron Island stuff, even knowing what was coming. That’s been a fear of mine, with it having been spoiled to plenty in the past, that the chapter will come across as boring and dragged-out without that element of surprise. Hearing that you were stunned when you first read it did my heart good, though. (Also glad you picked up on the subtleties there with Cyrus, he’s at the very least a man of his word…)

And God, the fact you felt like that even comes close to qualifying as a premier scene on the forums… shit got me choked up (especially as I write this, with the 7th year anniversary not far away, feelin’ all sappy and shit). I’ve put a lot of myself and a lot of time and effort into this story, and this is the one scene I agonized over for literal years, so just… that means more than I can even say.

Your secret is safe with me. (But seriously, thank you for sharing, idk that there’s any higher compliment than knowing you’ve elicited that sort of reaction out of someone) I’m glad you enjoyed the extra -- I really wanted to shed some light on the parts of his life Nat never got to learn about.

I’m glad you enjoyed Nat’s arc back at home… it felt right, for where she’s at emotionally. I was worried people would get bored by it, but it was absolutely crucial to getting her to a point where she could continue. I just can’t wait to get to that point.
I’m so glad Vera won you over, even if you’re not a fan of Lucario. ;w; You’re absolutely right that she isn’t herself, and while her lashing out at Nat isn’t entirely fair, she just lost her entire world. She makes a good case against Nat for the reasons you pointed out, but you’re right -- she missed the mark on a few things regarding Nat.

Oh, I’m such a sucker for one-liner openers/closers. xD To a point where sometimes I have to make a conscious decision not to, just because it doesn’t fit that particular chapter. I’m glad you dig ‘em, though!

“Demons run when a good man goes to war”? It’s funny, even without knowing the phrase off the top of my head, I knew exactly what you were referring to. And it’s very appropriate for Chase. He’s not one to take this shit lying down.

Nat and her mother are pretty far from Hallmark, but I felt it was important that they part ways this time around on good. There’s been a lot more balance in the give and take of their relationship this time around. Also I hadn’t thought about that, with the Clem/Mr. Mime parallels!

Agreeing that Toby is a blessing (I have so much fun writing him, if you couldn’t tell ;w; ), and I’m glad you enjoyed the gym battle! It was hella tough to write, but I was happy with how it came out in the end -- and it’s cool to hear that the efforts to include a variety of moves in creative ways didn’t go unnoticed. I’m telling you, reading through movesets/battle styles in Bulbapedia does wonders for battle choreo inspo.

You don’t know how happy I am to hear that it came across as me having a firm grasp on the convo -- because for a good while there, it didn’t feel that way. I was able to firm things up as I went by making some key connections (Byron beating her to the punch and unintentionally making her clam up), but it took a while. I really did have fun with their chemistry though, and I wish there were more opportunities in the future for them to converse because it was fun to write while it lasted.

I love that you noticed how Chase’s energy manifests itself! When I initially started writing him I was loosely going off the in-game NPC, being all jittery and stuff, but as I got further in I realized it was an opportunity to really dig in deep to his personality and showcase it in more ways than just really friendly and positive all the time. I also have really enjoyed the contrast that creates -- Nat is really passive and allows herself to be dragged along by the current, while Chase is proactive and creating his own path. Also THAT MEME I’m so dead, you never cease to slay me with these. Yes, he’s pretty sharp -- but I’m glad you remembered the extra, and that he’s just a lil bit off the mark. Only time will tell how that comes to light~

Man, I am going to miss your giant walls of spoilers. ;; But I’m so glad you’re caught up!! Thank you so much for not just taking time to sit down and read all this shit, but for taking extra time to share your thoughts. I had so much fun getting to read your liveblogs, and they always brightened up my day. ^^
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@Whozawhatcha

Ldfjadks;j I’m glad you came around to Dani, even if yeah, her judgment on that call wasn’t the greatest ;; And that you liked (hated? lol) the extra that followed Riley’s death. I never thought I’d be thrilled to be called a garbodor ;w; Hugh and Chase remain the goodest boys though.

Aaaaaa, like I said to Astro above, I LOVE that you love Tuck! I feel like he’s always been liked but never a favorite, so it does my heart good. Same for Rowan! I always have a blast writing him so it’s cool to see him so well-received. He’s the not-so-secret badass of the run. And!! ALSO glad you like the Cynthia/Cyrus stuff, it’s something I’m super excited to get back to once we get back to plot stuff -- as well as all the clean energy stuff and other things I’ve been foreshadowing. Which, coming soon. C:

It honestly kills me, the Nat/Josey and Chase/Hugh parallels. I love it. ;w; Even will all her toxic shit and problems, she’s at least improving in… small ways? Ish? Idk. xD She’ll get there, maybe, probably. You’re right that Riley would be pissed, and when shit hits the fan she’s gonna be in it deep.

Also just fyi all the things you say you need to be taking notes on? Are things I think you do exceptionally well, so ;;
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@Thirteenth

First of all MMMMMAYBE that was intentional, I’ll never tell~

Second that gif + your comment gave me so much life, I was dying. xD I’m so glad Nat and the writing feels real, especially in a chapter that was this tough to write. Also, c’mon, like Nat was ever going to take the most sensible route by telling Chase right then.

I can’t make any promises on that happy ending, I’m afraid.
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@Dee

Aaaaa, thank you! It made me really excited to see you tying back her issues to her poor communication, because you’re absolutely right -- that’s one of the main roots of her problems.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally tie the main storyline back to that extra, from so long ago. ;w; It’s only going to run deeper from here.
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@Flopdisc

I absolutely love that you pointed out the duality of that moment -- I really wanted to hit home her emotional state, and how it’s only continuing to make matters worse for her. She’s in a state of constantly borrowing trouble now, and it’s making her revert back to some uglier ways she’d been making progress on avoiding. One step forward, two steps back right now for her… but it won’t always be that way.
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@SpikesGirl11
Don’t sweat it! ^^ I’m forever grateful for your readership, thank you for sticking with me all these years and always taking the time to drop me a line, show your support in the ganza, etc. It means so much to me!
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@SilverDoe
Ah, thank you for the heads up on the lack of punctuation! I meant to fix that when you initially commented, but got busy so I’ll make sure to fix that soon.

Thank you, also, for sticking out that train wreck. C: I loved seeing all the tender/sweet moments you picked out amongst all the doom and gloom, but most of all I’m really, really glad to hear that the flashbacks and depiction of her traumes didn’t seem overwrought, AND that the conversation with Byron seemed ok. I really wanted to say as much as possible with as few words as possible, just because of the nature of them both, so I’m glad all the emotion came through. (also screw Nat, I’m excited for Galactic stuff to ramp up too :’D )

And finally, thank you for dropping a comment of your thoughts! These last few chapters have been really taxing emotionally, so it thrills me to bits to hear that it paid off and went over well. I hope you continue to enjoy the story!
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@Gangster Garchomp
I’m so glad you appreciated the Quagsire butt wiggles as much as I did!!!

Hey now, I learned from you when it comes to pulling off crazy shit! That said I’m stoked as hell you called it insidious, and I love love LOVE that you caught onto the theme! Not to mention summed it up far better than I could. I’m glad it doesn’t seem black and white -- a lot of Nat’s decisions rarely are.
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@Manifold
Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on Impulse over the years, on where it’s at now -- all of it. This comment brought me so much joy. You have so much insight and understanding of all the things I was trying to accomplish -- as well as some things I did subconsciously, early one, and I love hearing about it.

You’re right that Ivan was a turning point for her, absolutely. I’m thrilled to hear that, even through Nat’s POV, her Pokemon come across as vivid. I put in a lot of legwork early on trying to ensure that body language and behavior were clear enough to compensate. Especially because I recognize sometimes, just by nature of the story I’m telling and the person I’m telling it through, the Pokemon sorta take a backseat. ;; Especially glad that you see the value in the ‘filler’ route chapters! After everything she really is making an effort to understand them better, which is making her a better trainer than she gives herself credit for. And of course, it makes me so so happy to hear the humans are well-received, too. ;w; Especially Galactic, because man did I struggle with a way to make them seem sinister when they’re really just a bunch of goofballs. xD Striking a balance between threatening and lowkey (since that’s sorta Cyrus’ MO, he’s not about being flashy) has been interesting, but a fun challenge!

I grinned like an idiot seeing you quote that line. ;w; That’s one of those rare instances where I laughed when I went back and read through it. Also can I just say how amped I am that you picked up on the fact that Nat connects more to her Pokemon than the people around her? You hit every nail on the head wrt the roles Riley and Vera played in her development when it comes to her perceptions of her Pokemon, but they also were intended to demonstrate what you mentioned here.

Fuck. I have to thank you again, and that might seem strange, but your perspective is so unique (as someone who’s been around since the near beginning and has read through it a few times to get the full scope), your analysis of my story is dead-on in every aspect. And I can’t properly express how amazing that feels, how relieving it is to know that it all strings together and sorta makes sense. The fact that you find Nat more compelling the more frustrating she gets is a huge relief, as it’s a balance I always worry I’m not striking.

And of course, hearing your thoughts on the homecoming chapters had me grinning like an idiot. I absolutely loved writing those chapters. It makes me so giddy to know that others have seen the value in them, too. Also your analogy about the transplant rejection is just. Perfect. And wonderfully insightful about the emotional stakes here. I hope the culmination is worth it, considering I’m taking my sweet ass time getting there.

Thank you again, for taking the time to share your thoughts and insights with me. I really can’t say it enough. <3
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@KittyK13
Oh, I am so sorry to hear that it dredged up all those bad feelings. :c I’ve been there plenty of times myself, and it never gets any easier. That said, I am so thrilled to hear that you thought it was well-written, and that I was able to elicit emotion from you! Thank you so much for taking the time to drop a line, it means a lot!
When I arrive, Sandgem is tucked in with a fresh blanket of snow.

The train pulls away from the station, departing with a bellow that echoes off of sleepy little houses. The stars peek out between sparse clouds overhead, glittering like diamonds -- cold and untouchable from all the way down here.

I pull the hood of my coat up as I make my way through neighborhood streets, relying on muscle memory to carry me closer to Twinleaf. I could swing by the diner and wait for my mother's shift to end so we could walk home together, like I'd originally planned, but I don't. As I near the edge of town, marked by the fading yellow glow of street lamps overhead, I unclip Kiara's Pokeball from my belt and tuck it in my coat pocket, rolling it between my fingers idly. I don't plan on letting her out, but I want to keep her close. Just in case.

There's a certain clarity that comes from walking through fresh snowfall in the dead of winter. Most pokemon have either migrated south or succumbed to hibernation by now, leaving nothing but the satisfying crunch of fresh snow underfoot.

After my fight with Chase, I went straight to the Pokemon Center and packed my things. I'd lost any desire to run errands or go out to eat, so instead I crawled into my bed and pulled the covers over my head, finally allowing myself the breakdown I'd been holding in for so long. I cried hard, cussed harder, and punched my pillow even harder still. It wasn't until I heard Chase return to his room shortly after that I cut the theatrics, just laying there under the blankets breathing as shallowly as possible. Waiting for a knock at my door that never came.

I told myself it was a good thing, as I vacated my room. That it's for the best, as I checked out and walked away from the Center without saying a word. That the only way I know for certain I can protect him is to push him far enough away that he's not in the line of fire when shit inevitably hits the fan.

I'm having a harder time convincing my gut. The pit in my stomach compounds the further I get away from Chase. The longer my Poketch stays silent.

I decide to embrace being completely and utterly alone, in this moment. I figure I might as well get used to it.

But it's not that way for long.

It starts with fuzziness. My mind feels hazy, unfocused. I do my best to ignore it, but then it blooms into a dull, warm ache at the base of my skull. It takes me a moment to register the sensation, but when I do, I stop dead in my tracks.

"...Vera?"

I say it quietly, my voice snatched away by the wind, but the pain crescendos in response and I wince. I hold my breath, straining to hear as I mentally reach out -- but the feeling fizzles, and suddenly I'm not so certain I felt anything at all. "Vera? Are you there?"

Nothing.

My hand closes around Kiara's Pokeball. I remember how she'd sensed Vera and Riley's approach all those months ago, on the shores of Canalave, and my throat tightens. The ground is momentarily bathed in pink light as she drops quietly in the snow, shaking the flakes off her pelt and flexing her claws. She's mid-stretch when she freezes, straightening up and arching her head toward the moon, sniffing the night air.

"You feel it, too?" I whisper, resting my hand on her shoulder. I follow her gaze up the ridge, along the path that leads to the lakefront. "It's her, isn't it?"

Kiara snorts and sits on her haunches, looking to me for direction. I glance at the treeline, and back at the soft glow of Twinleaf in the distance. I want nothing more than to be back home, in my own bed -- what do I have to report to Vera, anyway? That I failed to do the right thing yet again? That I'm giving up and going home? We're back to square one. There's no point.

And yet...

I cup my gloved hands around my mouth and yell her name. A pair of slumbering Starly burst from their roosts as my voice carries over the hills and snowdrifts, echoing and eventually fading away. I let my hands drop to my side. Kiara fidgets next to me, anxious.

I still can't shake the feeling that something is wrong.

Vera's Pokeball is nestled in my bag, stowed in a side pocket for safekeeping. I hold it out to my Luxray, and she sniffs it with disinterest. "You found Vera before. Can you do it again?" She gives me a dubious look, and I retract my hand. I don't even know if the Pokeball carries Vera's scent anymore, but it's all I have. "Try."

She follows in my footsteps dutifully as I begin the trudge north, carefully placing her paws in my tracks to avoid getting them wet. Maybe I'm crazy, but I swear the fuzziness returns the closer we get, and I quicken my pace. There's a sense of urgency I can't explain, one that Kiara must pick up on. She stops shadowing me and takes point, eyes flashing as she scouts the area with her superb eyesight.

She stiffens, head high and tail stiff as a board. "Kiara?" I tentatively approach her, and when I lay a hand on her flank the spell breaks. She growls and launches, running headlong toward the lake. "The fu-- hey, wait!"

My boots and bag weigh me down as I stumble after her, chest screaming as I suck in cold air. I'm gasping by the time I crest the hill and reach the lakeshore. Kiara's dark fur sticks out in stark contrast against the snow, and she's panting like I am. "Is she here?" I wheeze as I approach her, out of breath.

Kiara isn't listening. I watch as she carefully approaches a small mound of snow, tentatively sniffs it, then shies away with a whimper. She slinks back to me, ears pinned flat against her skull and quivering all over as she peeks around the back of my legs. "What's got you spooked?" I mutter, stepping forward and nudging the mound with my boot.

When I brush away the snow, I find the frozen carcass of a Bidoof.

"Arceus," I hiss, recoiling and stepping away from it. Kiara lets out a distressed mewl, and I glance back at her to see she's found another mound -- this one, a Starly with outstretched wings.

"It's okay," I murmur, reaching to rub behind her ears. She flinches away from me, and I huff. Kiara's always been sensitive to death, but winters in the Sinnovan wilderness are harsh and unforgiving. Sometimes that's just part of it -- it's not exactly uncommon for weaker Pokemon to succumb. But I've never seen her act like this, especially not over wilds. "Hell's gotten into you?"

When I remember I'm not going to get a response from a Pokemon, I decide to take matters into my own hands. "Vera!" I call out, reaching around to fish for my flashlight. There's a weak pulse of pain, dull and nagging, but I still don't hear anything. I click on the light, and shine it around to get a better look at my surroundings.

My stomach clenches when I see dozens more mounds scattered around the clearing.

I sputter a string of curses as Kiara skitters next to me, both of us a bundle of nerves. It feels like my skin is crawling beneath my layers of clothes.

Something happened here.

"Kiara, focus." I snap my fingers in her face, forcing her to look at me. "If Vera's here, we have to find her. I need your help." She watches me uneasily, then her eyes flash as she turns toward the woods. She scans for a moment, then hesitantly begins picking her way through the graveyard.

With every step the pressure increases, my head pounding. I stagger after Kiara through the brush, further into the woods. I swallow the bile in my throat and squeeze my eyes shut, steadying myself against the trunk of a tree and focusing as hard as I can to reach out to Vera in a last ditch effort.

This time I feel her -- faint, but persistent. I'm sure of it, now.

Kiara freezes in her tracks abruptly, ears swiveling forward and one paw suspended in midair. I hold my breath, but I don't hear anything. Then the wind changes direction, and I hear a muffled moan.

We find Vera in a makeshift lean-to, sheltered by evergreen branches and in a bed of pine needles. She's trembling, slumped with her back against the trunk of a tree, but her eyes are open and glowing faintly with aura. My stomach lurches when I realize she was never far away, she was just too weak to answer me.

I nearly lose its contents when I see her leg.

It looks like it's been completely mangled, shredded, sliced to the bone. Blood has congealed around the wound, the skin blackened and charred. I quickly aim my flashlight away, covering my mouth in disgust as I drop to my knees in the snow in front of her. "Vera, what happened to you?"

Her breathing is rapid and shallow, rattling in her chest. She moves to get up, quivering with the effort, but her arm buckles beneath her. I manage to catch her, wincing as her wrist spike grazes me. Pale blue aura pulses around her mask and I feel a twinge of dread, but it fizzles as the light does and she slumps against me, exhausted. "We're going to get you out of here," I say, voice rising an octave as my heart pounds against my ribcage.

I frantically dig through my bag for healing items. I don't have much anymore, but I do have a burn heal buried somewhere in the bottom of my bag. I spray it on Vera's leg wound and she writhes in agony, eyes snapping open and locking onto mine, wild and glossy.

"It's okay," I say shakily, shoving the empty bottle in my bag and watching her leg anxiously. It doesn't seem to have any effect. So I lie. "You're going to be okay, we--"

"The lake?"

It's a rasp in my head, so feeble I almost don't catch it -- but it still seems to sap most of what little energy she has left. Her aura sputters, intangible. "Yes, we're at the lake, but I'm taking you to Twinleaf, and..." I trail off, biting the inside of my cheek. And do what, exactly? "We'll figure it out from there."

Vera growls weakly, and clenches her eyes shut from the effort it takes to mentally utter, "Lake."

"Yes, lake," I repeat, pinching the bridge of my nose. Twinleaf feels so far away. I pull out her Pokeball and she growls, thrashing in protest. I guess I should be relieved she's still stubborn and prideful as ever, even in this bad of shape. "Hold still, it -- Vera, seriously!" I pin her down, narrowly avoiding her wrist spike slashing at me again, and force the Pokeball against her chest. The button depresses and the light consumes her, but not before her eyes lock on mine. I feel a twinge of something familiar. It feels like betrayal.

As I stare at the Pokeball in my hand, willing it to hold its color, I have to wonder -- am I doing it again? Keeping her alive out of selfishness, instead of letting her die alone with her pride? Is that why she's fighting my aid?

Kiara butts her head against my elbow impatiently, and with it comes a small jolt of clarity as her fur discharges. No, this time Vera reached out to us. She wanted us to find her here.

Something did this to Vera -- to the corpses that lay sprawled out in the clearing. Dread spiderwebs through me, pumping my veins full of lead.

Who's to say that something isn't still here?

"Go, now," I hiss, and Kiara doesn't hesitate. She's hot on my heels as I make a beeline for the lakefront. I feel slower than usual, weighed down, like every movement takes agonizing amounts of energy and I can't move fast enough. Vera's Pokeball -- still red, but no longer bright -- feels like it's vibrating in my hands as the lake comes into view.

The lake.

I slow to a halt, looking out over the expanse of water. The moonlight glints off the glassy surface, and my breath catches in my throat.

Lake Verity is frozen solid.
[-:-]
"Clem! Open up!"

I pound on the door relentlessly, gasping for breath as I throw my bag onto my front porch and rummage around for my keys that are lost somewhere near the bottom, I'm sure. My voice sounds raw and ragged when I yell again. "Clem!"

I hear the scraping of the footstool across the floor, the rattling of the chain lock, and then a grunt as she swings it open -- and her grouchy expression bleeds into concern when she sees how distraught I am.

"Clear off the kitchen table," I say, voice clipped as I push past her to prop the door open. She doesn't listen right away, instead poking her head out to peer at Kiara, and I clap my hands in her face to get her attention. "Clem! Table, now!"

For once, she doesn't sass back -- just obliges, wide-eyed and flustered. I swap Kiara's Pokeball for Vera's, suck in a breath, and press release.

She materializes in a flash, prone on the kitchen table and unmoving. Clementine lets out a squeak, paws covering her mouth. I send Toby out as well, and thankfully he doesn't gawk -- just looks to me for direction. "Make sure she doesn't go anywhere," I bark over my shoulder as I dart upstairs. My room looks practically untouched, bed unmade and clothes still on the floor. I throw open my closet and rifle through, gathering my stockpile of healing items I'd stashed there. Maybe one burn heal just wasn't enough. Maybe there's still hope.

But it's getting increasingly hard to believe that. I empty every last bottle on Vera, growing more and more desperate, but nothing changes. She squirms, lips pulled back and grunting in pain. I try to probe her wound to apply my last potion more directly and she flails with a yelp, knocking the bottle out of my hands and shattering it across the floor.

Toby lunges forward to restrain her, and Clem reaches for the broom, hurriedly sweeping the shards up. I stagger back and lean heavily against the kitchen counter, digging the heel of my hand into my forehead as the reality of our situation hits me like a ton of bricks.

Getting her out of the cold and trying to heal her with my remaining items was as far as my plan went. What the fuck can I even do, now? I can't take her to the Center in Sandgem -- the second they see she's not registered to me, they're going to get suspicious. When they look her up and realize she belonged to Riley, the League will get involved. I wouldn't be surprised if Cheryl has them all on lookout. And then Vera will be put down, which is what she wanted -- but is it still what she wants? Would she be fighting this hard just to have the League make that decision for her?

Does it even matter what she wants?

I think of Dash, and how limited his options had been even with access to the Pokemon Center. How quickly the nurse had determined the best course of action, how easily I'd been swayed. Dash didn't get a say in the matter because he couldn't speak up, and now Vera can't either. How is this any different?

How the fuck am I supposed to know if I'm doing the right thing?

I feel a tug on the hem of my jacket, and I reluctantly peer through my fingers to see Clementine checking in -- one paw clutching fabric, the other laying across the egg in her pouch. I remember the way it glowed in the hotel courtyard, when she'd helped soothe Jade's wing, and I straighten. Maybe there's another way, after all. "Clem, can you heal her?"

She shrinks slightly, averting her eyes to the floor. Stubborn little shit. I stoop down, grabbing her firmly by her pudgy little shoulders and steering her towards the table. "Come on, you did it once before, with Jade. I need you to do it again," I snap, pointing at Vera. The Lucario has stopped writhing in pain, but her breathing is ragged and irregular now. Toby looks up at me helplessly, shoulders hunched.

I give the Blissey a shake for emphasis and she tenses beneath me. I release her, stepping back to let her work her magic. Clem wrings her hands, looks back at me nervously, and then squeezes her eyes shut. The familiar golden hue envelops her belly pouch, but when she touches her paw to Vera's leg, nothing happens. Clem peeks an eye open, then visibly deflates and whirls on me, jabbering incoherently and stamping her foot.

"The fuck is wrong with you?" I raise up my hands and back up defensively, but Toby fluidly moves to her side, placing a paw on her back and cooing tenderly. She's still visibly upset, but at the very least she shuts up and halts her advance on me -- sitting on the floor as Toby pats her gently. I stand there, trembling -- angry that I'm terrified by a worthless pink blob. Angry that she isn't fucking helping. Angry that I have no fucking control.

I snatch up Vera's Pokeball and recall her, jabbing it in the Blissey's general direction accusingly. "Are you happy? She's going to die in here, Clem, because you're too fucking stubborn to help her!" She covers her face, and Toby looks at me with something akin to fear. Like he doesn't recognize who I am.

I don't anymore, either.

The screen door clatters shut behind me and I take a shuddering breath, caught off guard by the icy air. My fingers tremble as I dig out a cigarette, hurriedly lighting it as I try to collect myself. I -- fuck, I'd been doing so much better around Pokemon recently. Or at least my own. But with the stakes this high, I feel like I can't get a full breath. I inhale raggedly, sucking in smoke and holding it for a second, savoring the burn.

I wish I could say it made me feel better. But it's not enough. It hasn't been for a long time.

I hate that my first impulse is to dial Chase's number.

I splay my hand over my face, digging the tips of my fingers into my cheek as I stare at the display of my Poketch. Riley's icon is there below Chase's name, and I want so badly to press it. I want to hear that clip of his voice -- short and professional and perfectly impersonal on the other line as he tells me yet again to leave a message. I want to scream into his inbox about how unfair this is, about how I shouldn't be calling the shots with Vera, about how much I hate him for leaving me behind to deal with this shit on my own, because I don't want to anymore. About I wish he was here instead of me.

I want to pretend if I scream loud and long enough, maybe he could actually hear me.

The weight of everything finally unleashes, making me sag onto the stairs and bury my face in my hands. Vera's my only remaining connection to him and soon she's going to be gone, too, and I'll waste away here in this godforsaken town that always makes me feel like I'm drowning. Just like she said I would. Fuck her for being right.

But maybe she doesn't have to be right about everything. There is, of course, one other person I could call.

My finger hovers over the contact name, and I bite my lip. It's the only bridge I haven't burned yet, and by making the call I know I'll essentially be dousing it in gasoline and tossing a match. It's a long shot, but I feel like after everything maybe I owe it to Vera to at least try.

I press the call button before I can overthink it too much, raking my hand up my face and through my hair as I wait to connect. Take another drag as it rings once, twice, five times...

Voicemail. My heart sinks and panic clings to me, no longer quelled by the nicotine. I curse and stand up to go inside, when my Poketch starts ringing.

"Hey, sorry, didn't pick up in time! What's up?"

The surge of relief is overwhelming, and I have to stifle the sob that accompanies it. It's something Chase would've called me out on. Thankfully Dani doesn't notice.

"No worries," I say gruffly, pacing the length of the porch. "It's nothing urgent. Just wanted to talk to you about, ah, Clementine."

There's heavy bass thrumming in the background. I can hear her curse under her breath, and apologizing to someone. "Hang on a sec Nat, can't hear you. Gonna step out real quick," she says, voice muffled. I grip the railing impatiently, prodding at a rotting board with the toe of my shoe. Eventually the background noise fades away, and she clears her throat. "'kay, that's better. What about Clem?"

"Sorry," I mumble, rolling my cigarette between my fingertips. Both are reflex. "I just, um. Aren't Blissey supposed to be like, natural healers?"

"Yes and no. Most are born with basic abilities, like relieving minor pain, but it takes special training to access their more advanced, latent healing capabilities. Even then, not all respond well to it."

I puff on my cigarette, brow furrowed. "Is that how she ended up with you?"

Dani hums through the other line, sounding amused. "No, the capability's there -- she was originally bred to a nurse's Blissey. Would you believe me if I said she didn't quite have the nurturing temperament they look for?"

It's meant to be funny. I exhale sharply, hoping that passes as a laugh, but my gut clenches. "So she's never been formally trained in healing."

"Nothing more than the basics, far as I know? Flunked out before they got into the nitty gritty, so they placed her in a hospitality program. Not that she really thrived there, either. It's part of why I sent her to Twinleaf -- she seems happier with you than she ever was here." She pauses for a moment, and I shift uncomfortably in the silence. "Can I ask what brought this on so late at night?"

"I uh, I found an injured Pokemon in the woods. Leg is pretty messed up, looks like some sort of burn that got infected? I can see bone, and --" my voice cracks with emotion, and I hear Dani suck in a breath on the other end of the line. I wonder if she thinks it's because of what happened to Dash under her watch. "I just, I don't know how to help it. I thought Clem might..."

"No, not something that bad. She's definitely not trained in trauma care. Did you catch it? If it's stable you can keep it in a Pokeball overnight and its condition shouldn't worsen too much, but you need to get it to the nearest Center first thing tomorrow."

"I can't." I can't help her, I can't tell you why, this was a mistake fuck fuck fuck--

"Like you couldn't catch it, or you can't--"

"It's Vera, Dani," I blurt, running my hand through my hair. She lets out a strangled sound of disbelief, and fuck, fuck, this is bad. But there's no unringing that bell, and the rest just spills out like I can't spit it out fast enough, "I know, I'm sorry, I -- look, I promise I'll explain everything later, but right now all I know is Clem can't help her and I'm out of healing items and I can't take her to the Center because they'll kill her and -- and she's dying, Dani. I don't know what the fuck I'm supposed to do."

She doesn't say anything -- she doesn't need to. There's a shift, one that's palpable even through the phone, with hundreds of miles separating us. I hold my breath, waiting for something, anything. "Dani?"

"Keep her in her Pokeball," she says curtly. "I'll be there as soon as I can."

There's an audible click, and just like that, the final bridge goes up in smoke -- burning out like the cigarette in my fingertips. I toss it on the ground and grind it into the dirt with the heel of my shoe, just to make sure I seal the deal.

I can't help but feel it's exactly what I deserve.
:'D

So there were quite a few references to previous chapters here that probably would've had a greater effect if y'know... I didn't update like once every 6 months. xD If you're curious, here are links to a handful of the most significant: Specifically the back half of Chapter 44, wrt Dash, Basically the entirety of Chapter 61, and for those with eagle eyes, a small bit of foreshadowing in the second section of Chapter 63.

I'm so fucking pumped to be back at it, and to finally get to these things that have been (loosely) mapped out for literal years. As always, I owe so much thanks to @Gangster Garchomp for helping me navigate all my messy notes and planning, and for always pushing me to continue. Thank you for being such an incredible friend over the past decade, you're the best twin a girl could ask for. <3

Thank you so much for reading! I hope y'all are as excited as I am for what's coming next. ^^
<< Tucker
<< Kiara
<< Jade
<< Toby
 
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S

SpikesGirl1

Guest
Missed this yesterday, but happy 7th year anniversary! Hard to believe it's been that many, even if I didn't follow from the very beginning. Still, congrats! :)

But whhhyyy did it have to accompany such a downer chapter? My heart hurts for Vera...and I got majorly creeped out by the stuff at the lake, so kudos there. lol
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
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Team Alpha
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23
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Jun 9, 2019
Messages
278
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Lilycove City
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Hardy
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they/she
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Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Congrats on 7 years! I've only been reading this for a very small fraction of that time, but this story has been such a big presence on the forum for as long as I can remember. It's great that it's meant so much to you!

That new banner is lovely! Of course, I could say the same about the old banners, too.

I really love the descriptions at the start of the chapter! ...And then things quickly get horrifying, yikes. Hopefully Vera will be able to pull through. I don't know what's coming next, but I'm certainly excited for it!
 
A

AstroDeath

Guest
Man, that banner/sig is so gooood. Really neat to see because it catches so much that's Impulse: Nat and smoking, the Winter, and her despondent looking mood. And speaking of Winter, I love how the season's really taken on a life of its own in the background during the story. The cold, wind, and snow has really worked with setting the vibe and moods of the chapters and doubles down on making how Nat feels at any given time that much stronger.

Walking across fresh snow is legit the best thing ever. Especially at night, when everything's just white and quiet and there's a crunch every footstep. Winter gets such a bad rep; Spring and Summer are overrated, man. Oh damn, the breakdown. She might call it theatrics but it's good she released that pent up energy. Better to let it out than keep it unreleased to fester and get worse.

Okay, something spooky's going on. I don't like this foreboding feeling. Kiara's a hellion, something's really gotta be fucking scary to have her turning tail like that. Shiiit, what in the hell? Bunches of dead 'mons just discarded and frozen? The fact a bunch of dead bidoof and starlys are made to be horrific is crazy. Kudos to you for the tension there.

Noooo, no, nu uh. Nope. Fuck that. Vera's fine, that didn't happen... god god, man. This chapter went from zero to sixty real fucking fast. Don't think I've picked up on the lake clue, whatever it may be, but it's sketchy. What the hell happened? It's like her being helpless when Riley died all over again and I feel so bad for her and Vera. She's trying but nothing's working. The constant back and forth between Nat's thoughts and words alongside her pokemon here, and Clem, really make it. Clem's horror and confusion and Toby's sadness are doing work, with their body language.

Man. That phone call with Dani was paced so well. I loved how Nat kept up the front, trying to pretend to avoid coming out with the details, as she usually does and gets away with it. Doesn't work this time around though as reality drops down on her and she blurts out the truth. The moment of silence, that hesitation, before Dani said she'd be on her way was definitely holding your thumb on the pulse of the scene. I wasn't expecting things to ramp up like they did, especially after her and Chase's fight, but here we are now.
 
M

Manifold

Guest
First of all, happy birthday to Impulse! And second, what a beautiful banner! It has the wonderful bonus of setting the mood right leading into this chapter, too.

What a lonely walk through the winter, as she reflects on the fallout with Chase and her emotional breakdown afterward. The blend between the physical and emotional atmospheres, and how they play off each other, was wonderful to read. And god, the way she thinks about the aftermath is so Nat. Clearly wants to talk to Chase because she's hoping he'll knock, but not willing to go make the first move herself. Would rather convince herself it's better for her to leave without saying any more, instead.

I was gearing up for a sad and mournful chapter with how it started, so I wasn't ready when the tone changed to an intense and scary one. It's pulled off really well; the frozen Pokemon corpses had me shook. Again, I think it's admirable how well you use the physical environment here to heighten the emotional effect. Even though it's the same wintry scenery as before to emphasize loneliness, your writing takes those surroundings to produce new images that evoke horror instead.

And then from horror to distress. From the moment Nat sees Vera's leg onwards, the rest of the chapter's an adrenaline rush in the worst way possible. Again, your penchant for crafting heightened emotional atmosphere—I cannot emphasize the amount of distress I felt as she tried to figure out how to help Vera.

Nat's in a predicament that's very much the culmination of self-wrought circumstances and the consequence of her own flaws and mistakes. She clearly wants to do something right here, but she doesnt want to do it in a way that involves her getting caught or having responsibility or accepting her own agency (and heh, in peak Nat fashion she even blames Chase for it at one point; the poor dude can never catch a break). At the height of her frustration she's being pissy with her Pokemon, too. It really sinks in during that moment afterward, when none of them including herself can recognize what she's become and she goes for a smoke, how much she's regressed in her time back home.

I'm glad she called Dani, though, and finally admitted at least a snippet of the truth. It took a while, and she may have felt forced to do it given the situation, but she finally did it. Thanks to her confession, Vera's still got a chance to live and so does Nat.
 
D

Dee

Guest
Congrats on seven years! That's quite the milestone and I couldn't be prouder. When I first marathoned Impulse a year ago I knew I had read something special, and seeing your writing grow from already-decent to truly fabulous over the course of a few days was very special and enlightening.

Speaking of the current chapter... I screamed at you over discord already, so you'd better be nice to Clem and Nat and not do anything mean to Vera

I mean it Aurea!!
 

Thirteenth

Number XIV
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Pokédex No.
14
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May 20, 2019
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110
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Quiet
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The reason she guides people all the way down to the mountain's base is that she wants them to hurry up and leave.
Also, c’mon, like Nat was ever going to take the most sensible route by telling Chase right then.
I know but I can dream



I can’t make any promises on that happy ending, I’m afraid.
aurea istg

I need that squint emoji.
Alright, now let me just make myself nice and cozy at my desk, oh look, a pack of tissues, perfect for when Impulse rips my heart out yet again. :D
After my fight with Chase, I went straight to the Pokemon Center and packed my things. I'd lost any desire to run errands or go out to eat, so instead I crawled into my bed and pulled the covers over my head, finally allowing myself the breakdown I'd been holding in for so long. I cried hard, cussed harder, and punched my pillow even harder still. It wasn't until I heard Chase return to his room shortly after that I cut the theatrics, just laying there under the blankets breathing as shallowly as possible. Waiting for a knock at my door that never came.

I told myself it was a good thing, as I vacated my room. That it's for the best, as I checked out and walked away from the Center without saying a word. That the only way I know for certain I can protect him is to push him far enough away that he's not in the line of fire when shit inevitably hits the fan.

I'm having a harder time convincing my gut. The pit in my stomach compounds the further I get away from Chase. The longer my Poketch stays silent.




I kinda froze reading that whole bit with the corpses and Vera. That little touch of horror. Of course I have to assume it was Galactic stealing Mesprit that did all this and hurt her...

I think of Dash, and how limited his options had been even with access to the Pokemon Center. How quickly the nurse had determined the best course of action, how easily I'd been swayed. Dash didn't get a say in the matter because he couldn't speak up, and now Vera can't either. How is this any different?

How the fuck am I supposed to know if I'm doing the right thing?
;;;


"The fuck is wrong with you?" I raise up my hands and back up defensively, but Toby fluidly moves to her side, placing a paw on her back and cooing tenderly. She's still visibly upset, but at the very least she shuts up and halts her advance on me -- sitting on the floor as Toby pats her gently. I stand there, trembling -- angry that I'm terrified by a worthless pink blob. Angry that she isn't fucking helping. Angry that I have no fucking control. 

I snatch up Vera's Pokeball and recall her, jabbing it in the Blissey's general direction accusingly. "Are you happy? She's going to die in here, Clem, because you're too fucking stubborn to help her!" She covers her face, and Toby looks at me with something akin to fear. Like he doesn't recognize who I am.

I don't anymore, either.

The screen door clatters shut behind me and I take a shuddering breath, caught off guard by the icy air. My fingers tremble as I dig out a cigarette, hurriedly lighting it as I try to collect myself. I -- fuck, I'd been doing so much better around Pokemon recently. Or at least my own. But with the stakes this high, I feel like I can't get a full breath. I inhale raggedly, sucking in smoke and holding it for a second, savoring the burn.
Naaaat, pleeaase, it's not Clem's fault... Also, so glad that you're smoking to try to breathe better, I'm sure that'll work.



I splay my hand over my face, digging the tips of my fingers into my cheek as I stare at the display of my Poketch. Riley's icon is there below Chase's name, and I want so badly to press it. I want to hear that clip of his voice -- short and professional and perfectly impersonal on the other line as he tells me yet again to leave a message. I want to scream into his inbox about how unfair this is, about how I shouldn't be calling the shots with Vera, about how much I hate him for leaving me behind to deal with this shit on my own, because I don't want to anymore. About I wish he was here instead of me. 

I want to pretend if I scream loud and long enough, maybe he could actually hear me.

The weight of everything finally unleashes, making me sag onto the stairs and bury my face in my hands. Vera's my only remaining connection to him and soon she's going to be gone, too, and I'll waste away here in this godforsaken town that always makes me feel like I'm drowning. Just like she said I would. Fuck her for being right.
;;;;;;;;;;;;; aurea this hurts...



and then




aaaaaa
I'm so excited for what follows and not just because I know of one thing that happens.

And a belated happy anniversary on such an excellent run ;w;
 

glancesherlock

Consulting Detective
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
32
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Jun 10, 2019
Messages
128
Location
221B Baker Street
Nature
Lonely
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she/her
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Fairy, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Just wants to stay home and solve crimes.
I love winter scenes so much, and god you write them beautifully. You perfectly capture how pretty snow can be. Snowpoint's gonna be a wonderland.

Okay, I was really happy to see Vera again, but only for a split second because noooooooooooo D: I hope she'll be okay and that Dani can help! The desperation here is so palpable that I'm dying, and then you throw in this all-too-real shit about Riley and how Vera is Nat's last connection to him, and fuck, that bit about wasting away in Twinleaf got me good. More tears for your supply. Got your revenge, you ho. I hope you're happy :P

Super late, but congrats on 7 years!!! You're an inspiration for sticking with a story for this long. It motivates me to not let go of my runs. ;;
 

Aurea

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Pokédex No.
25
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Messages
54
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Sinnoh Region
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Calm
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Grass, Steel
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #734
A/N: After the Nuzlocke Forums picked up and relocated from tapatalk to xenforo, our old threads were left in limbo for a bit as we tried to figure out if it would be feasible to bring them with us. Many people started reposting their threads, and I saw it as a great opportunity to start updating old chapters with updated versions! This marks the beginnings of those reuploads.

Once our threads were brought over, I decided to merge the old with the new in the interest of keeping both threads together in one place -- as such, I've edited the initial reupload posts to link back to their original location for consistency's sake.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________​

Chapter 1 | Chapter 1 on ao3
 
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Bug

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in a pile of bugs
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Rash
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oh fuck oh shit my dots...............................................................................................................................
I am SO excited to be able to read along with this from the beginning. It's been on my to-read list for a long time, but damn if it isn't a doozy of a read.

Nat's talk with her mother is so real it hurts. The feeling there is powerful, and layered. Or maybe I'm just connecting from a familiar crushing weight of "potentially homeless" kinds of fears.

Anyways, I'll be watching the thread for updates! Thanks for posting is again for us! :D
 

Garish Garchomp

Friendly Neighborhood Landshark
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91
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Dragon, Psychic
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he's ok i guess
God, I just... love the way this chapter progresses. The way it escalates. I mean, that's obvious just in a Point A to Point B look, that we're going from pretty snow to medical emergencies and torpedoing relationships, but there's a sense of dread and panic that creeps up, like Nat's heart is just constantly rising until it's caught in her throat, one step away from being hacked right up. This is just a hell of a chapter for Nat in general, just because there's so much internal conflict and the classic "I know this is wrong but I feel like I need to do this" which you've done a great job of giving thoroughly mixed results throughout the story for the times when she actually has some semblance of agency. Circling back to this in a sec

Also, just... goddamn, I don't know if you've ever written anything this harrowing. Between the initial graveyard that the lakefront's been turned into and Vera herself, it's just a downright intimidating read almost. I knew what was coming obv but it still struck me when I actually saw it depicted. I know how hard it can be to shift into a slightly different (and slightly more extreme) mood, but you completely nailed it.
It wasn’t until I heard Chase return to his room shortly after that I cut the theatrics, just laying there under the blankets breathing as shallowly as possible. Waiting for a knock at my door that never came.
Like I said, there's been a lot of times where she's had agency or the illusion of it, and there's been a lot of times where she's had none of it (or seemingly had none). So with that in mind, the tension of the end of the chapter with the self-awareness is super great just because it's the culmination of this chapter from hell and really sees us hurtling down this path for the time being. It's almost a change of pace because it’s just so self-aware and so cogent, whereas a lot of times she has just kinda been stumbling around and falling ass backwards into her lapses. Meanwhile, this one is a desperate head-first dive into one.
 

Aurea

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Pokédex No.
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54
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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #737
Chapter Two is here! Ideally I'd like to update once a week and stick to a schedule, but my life is a little hectic right now outside the forums so I will more than likely just update as I can.

REPLIES:
I am SO excited to be able to read along with this from the beginning. It's been on my to-read list for a long time, but damn if it isn't a doozy of a read.

Nat's talk with her mother is so real it hurts. The feeling there is powerful, and layered. Or maybe I'm just connecting from a familiar crushing weight of "potentially homeless" kinds of fears.

Anyways, I'll be watching the thread for updates! Thanks for posting is again for us! :D
I'm excited that you're excited! :D I'll be the first to admit it's quite the undertaking, so I completely understand being put off by it in the past. I'm sincerely glad you took the time to check it out and share your thoughts.

Oof ;; I'm sorry that hit close to home, but glad that it had an impact. Nat's relationship with her mother, as well as her social status and upbringing, are recurring themes and sort of set the undertone throughout. So I'm happy to hear it came across as powerful here! I'm excited to go back through old chapters and revisit it.

Thank you again for taking the time to pop in! ^^

Chapter 2 | Chapter 2 on ao3
 
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Fullmental

*Fódlan Winds intensifies*
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Fula City
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This Pokemon can sometimes be found meticulously editing and re-editing it's own content, never satisfied with the results.
I'm so happy this is being reposted, it gives me an opportunity to read it from the beginning after this has been on my "to read" list for so long!

It's such a somber beginning to the story, really makes you feel bad for Nat and her mom. We've all been in that situation before - thrust into a new experience not knowing how to make ends meet or what do strive for. That's one of the defining moments of a young person's life, in my opinion. I'm curious to see how Nat can handle everything. Seems like she's got the starter relationship moving in the right direction, at least for now.
 

Aurea

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54
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Grass, Steel
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #740
REPLIES:
I'm so happy this is being reposted, it gives me an opportunity to read it from the beginning after this has been on my "to read" list for so long!

It's such a somber beginning to the story, really makes you feel bad for Nat and her mom. We've all been in that situation before - thrust into a new experience not knowing how to make ends meet or what do strive for. That's one of the defining moments of a young person's life, in my opinion. I'm curious to see how Nat can handle everything. Seems like she's got the starter relationship moving in the right direction, at least for now.
Ah, thank you Fullmental! Definitely not off to the happiest start, but you're right -- those are the moments where you really figure out what you're made of. Nat thinks she can handle anything thrown her way, but she's got a lot of learning and growing to do. Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you continue to enjoy!

Chapter 5 | Chapter 5 on ao3
Chapter 6 |
Chapter 6 on ao3
 
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