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

BritishAirSnails

Conqueror of the Saffron Gym
Writer
Pokédex No.
90
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
80
Location
I come from my house
Nature
Modest
Pokémon Type
Grass, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Beware the BritishAirSnail. They come from the sky and leave their slime EVERYWHERE
Man, rereading Impulse gives me literal chills. Just revisiting how it all began, before things really hit the fan. With the latest chapter, I feel bad for poor Chip. But Nat is right, I'd rather it be him than Tucker >.> Still, poor guy.
 

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
  • #743
Took a little longer to get these two out! It's been an incredibly busy past few weeks for me at work. And it's a pair of pretty short chapters, too. But I'm excited, because we're about to meet one of my favorite Pokemon of Nat's. c:

REPLIES:
Man, rereading Impulse gives me literal chills. Just revisiting how it all began, before things really hit the fan. With the latest chapter, I feel bad for poor Chip. But Nat is right, I'd rather it be him than Tucker >.> Still, poor guy.
Aaaaah, Dev! I'm so glad you've enjoyed reading back through it so far. ;w; It's been fun for me to go back through old stuff and rewrite it, too.

Chapter 9 | Chapter 9 on ao3
Chapter 10 |
Chapter 10 on ao3
 
Last edited:

Rhema

Conqueror of the Violet Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
189
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
Yeahhhhh, love getting to re-read this bit by bit. Nat never fails to serve as inspiration for some of my more jaded characters. Also, I sometimes forget that her journey was initiated due to her needing to support her family financially. Ah, the days where that was her only worry....
 

Wwarborday

Gradually Becoming Productive
Pokédex No.
153
Caught
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
109
Location
Gaytown
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
He/him/his
Pokémon Type
Ground, Ice
Pokédex Entry
I'm Doing My Best
Okay.

So.

I haven’t finished it, but I have managed to catch up through Valley Windworks.

Goodness gracious, I love your prose. (And this is just, this sounds dumb, but, they way you describe and use Supersonic? Yesssssss. Amazing. Beautiful. Perfection). Chase is a really nice break from the typical “Barry” characterization; he has real emotions and feelings, instead of being “ADHD” with arms and legs. I’m digging Nat’a gradual trust for her Pokémon, but i appreciate that it isn’t One Big Moment or something. It’s been taking her a while to get over her fear, and I like that. (Oh oh oh, and I really enjoyed how she used Ivan as a getaway vehicle for the Windworks. Brilliant. I love when characters use their Pokémon like that in stories, to solve problems. And, y’know. I’m just an Onix fan).

Anyway! Just wanted to drop a comment for what I’ve read so far. I look forward to the rest.
 

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
  • #747
Swinging by with another pair of reuploaded chapters! Hoping to do this a little more frequently, but my September is absolutely packed at work so I'm not sure how realistic that is. ;;

REPLIES:
Yeahhhhh, love getting to re-read this bit by bit. Nat never fails to serve as inspiration for some of my more jaded characters. Also, I sometimes forget that her journey was initiated due to her needing to support her family financially. Ah, the days where that was her only worry....
I'm so glad you've been enjoying rereading! I'm sure she'd love to go back to a time when money was her biggest obstacle... :')

Just popping in to say I'm still around and following! :)
Spikes!! So good to see you on the new forums. ^^ Really appreciate you taking a moment to pop in and say hey~ I hope to have some new content for y'all in the coming months.

Okay.

So.

I haven’t finished it, but I have managed to catch up through Valley Windworks.

Goodness gracious, I love your prose. (And this is just, this sounds dumb, but, they way you describe and use Supersonic? Yesssssss. Amazing. Beautiful. Perfection). Chase is a really nice break from the typical “Barry” characterization; he has real emotions and feelings, instead of being “ADHD” with arms and legs. I’m digging Nat’a gradual trust for her Pokémon, but i appreciate that it isn’t One Big Moment or something. It’s been taking her a while to get over her fear, and I like that. (Oh oh oh, and I really enjoyed how she used Ivan as a getaway vehicle for the Windworks. Brilliant. I love when characters use their Pokémon like that in stories, to solve problems. And, y’know. I’m just an Onix fan).

Anyway! Just wanted to drop a comment for what I’ve read so far. I look forward to the rest.
War it means so much that you dropped by to share your thoughts up to this point, aaaaaa. ;w; I'm so glad you've enjoyed so far, that you're liking the characters, and how Pokemon/their moves are interpreted. I definitely think it's a little rough in the beginning, but you've made it through the worst of it so it should get better from here! Thank you so much for reading. ^^

Chapter 11 | Chapter 11 on ao3
Chapter 12 |
Chapter 12 on ao3
 
Last edited:

Rhema

Conqueror of the Violet Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
189
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
It's definitely interesting re-reading these chapters as I prepare for writing my own MC challenging her first gym (and a rock type gym, no less). I think you captured that overconfident feeling when you've plowed through someone's Pokemon with ease but they've got a ringer they send out last very well. Natalie's emotions as she goes through this first gym challenge are very realistic, I think. And speaking of, damn Natalie is so freaking relatable. Her nervousness, giddy school-girl excitement over winning her first gym battle despite wanting to appear professional, and most of all her jealousness over Chase's battle upstaging hers. I think that jealousy, especially, makes her so....human. It really does.

And ah yes, what a thoroughly creepy and scary first encounter with Team Plasma. Obviously as a longtime reader I know their beef with Nat is far from over, but it still comforts me to know that she's got a good team of Pokemon to protect her when she needs it. I think it's pretty amusing that Rowan gave the Poketches to "nobodies" to make them more difficult to track down. Like damn, that's pretty savage haha.

Looking forward to continuing to catch up as you post more!
 

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
  • #749
Hey all! You may notice this thread is significantly larger. After a lot of thought, I decided to merge my old thread with the new so I could have everything in one place! That said, I still plan to lightly edit/reupload every chapter. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time. So I'll keep posting for those who wanted to follow along from the beginning, and updating the TOC as I go. Thread is going to be a little messy in the meantime, but hopefully it won't cause too many issues! If you notice anything wonky, I hope you'll let me know!

REPLIES
It's definitely interesting re-reading these chapters as I prepare for writing my own MC challenging her first gym (and a rock type gym, no less). I think you captured that overconfident feeling when you've plowed through someone's Pokemon with ease but they've got a ringer they send out last very well. Natalie's emotions as she goes through this first gym challenge are very realistic, I think. And speaking of, damn Natalie is so freaking relatable. Her nervousness, giddy school-girl excitement over winning her first gym battle despite wanting to appear professional, and most of all her jealousness over Chase's battle upstaging hers. I think that jealousy, especially, makes her so....human. It really does.

And ah yes, what a thoroughly creepy and scary first encounter with Team Plasma. Obviously as a longtime reader I know their beef with Nat is far from over, but it still comforts me to know that she's got a good team of Pokemon to protect her when she needs it. I think it's pretty amusing that Rowan gave the Poketches to "nobodies" to make them more difficult to track down. Like damn, that's pretty savage haha.

Looking forward to continuing to catch up as you post more!
I had this comment in mind when I read your gym battle! I really loved the way you went about adding tension to it. I'm so glad you find Nat relatable. ;w; She's a jealous brat, but she hasn't had many wins in life up to this point, so to feel like Chase stole her shine so shortly afterward stung a bit. And, well, you know how that turns out for her. ^^;

Rowan is a savage genius. xD Funny that this is probably the most innocuous interaction with Galactic out of all of them. She's definitely got a good team around her, but like you said, unfortunately their beef is far from done.

Thanks for commenting, Rhema! Always love hearing your thoughts~

Chapter 13 | Chapter 13 on ao3
Chapter 14 |
Chapter 14 on ao3
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
79
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
just missy now
(POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR OTHER PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT READ THE WHOLE RUN)

Guess who's gonna gush. Missy's gonna gush! I promised a comment and by god you're getting a comment, ma'am.

Story time: when I first stumbled upon the forums in 2014 (by thinking, "aw man, i wish i could write nuzlockes instead of drawing comics" and googling for it), Impulse was the first run I looked at, but I was put off by the chapter count even back then. Even so, I read the opening chapter, and it literally stuck with me for five years. When I tried my first storylocke, when I left for a year or two, when I came back, it stuck with me. I never forgot it.

I have no end of admiration for you continuing to write a single story for this long and pouring so much excellent content into it. Like, damn, the dedication! And not a single chapter is a waste of time. You joke about the plot just now getting started in these most recent chapters, but the rest of the story has been a treat for character conflict and Pokemon shenanigans.

I love all the Pokemon. The story doesn't spend a ton of time with them, but they all get their dues nonetheless, and when they get focus it's balanced well with the human drama. Toby has somehow become my favourite just because he's a happy little sap. He has no idea what's going on and he's loving it. I was not expecting to love the Quagsire since they've never stood out to me, but here I am.

You keep a very balanced cast. Between human characters and Pokemon, no one feels like they're superfluous or that they overstay their welcome. I'd scream some more over how you ardently mistreat them but you've already heard enough from me in discord, ha ha.

Like many have said before, you have a simple and effective portrayal of the gym circuit. The "gym leaders as manufactured persona" thing is something so simple and brilliant that it's so, so hard not to copy. Also, the trainer culture is very cool. The fact that Chase steadily becomes an idol as he conquers the gyms is so interesting. I can't think of any other runs off the top of my head where fame is a huge consideration. Whatever, the culture's cool is what I'm saying.

That's what I love best about your Sinnoh. It feels lived in.

Not gonna lie, where you took Riley caught me completely off-guard. I agree with what you said before, that it's ASTONISHING that no one spoiled it for me, but that just made it worse. I had to go lie down. I saw him as a vicarious-enjoyment vehicle hot guy. I was very wrong, apparently. Well, I was ultimately wrong. No offense, but I hold to my theory.

Also, Dani is great! I always liked Maylene, but now she's a character so I'm all on board.

Nat has a very subtle growth throughout most of the story, which is enjoyable, but I'm more of a crisis-and-confront kinda gal so I've been very pleased with the way the story is developing.

Guess that's where I'll leave off for now. I've thoroughly enjoyed binging this story and I cannot flippin' wait for more <3
 

trainergloria

reach for happiness with a clenched fist
Pokédex No.
1187
Caught
Dec 11, 2019
Messages
16
Location
Route 6
Nature
Docile
Pokémon Type
Cool
Pokédex Entry
ah, yikes
Much of what I want to say has already been said by others multiple times, but I hope your holidays are going well and that time is sparing enough to allow more writing in your future. You really do have the talent for it, and it's lovely to see the improvement that's happened over seven years. There's something about this story that has always made it so special, and I'm glad that it gets the attention that it deserves, time and time again. The conspiracy thickens, and a few chapters ago I really enjoyed the Pepe Silvia-esque moment of Chase in the Canalave library. Nat has come far, and I'm excited to see how much further she goes.

Chase, of course, is my favorite but he wasn't always at first. I remember pairing Nat and Riley together at first, but looking back on it it's a bit silly. I hope they both come out alright at the end of it, him and Nat.
 

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
  • #752
Well, I've finally done it. I've gone a full calendar year without a proper update. xD In fairness, I've had this one done for a while, but wanted to save it for now because today is Impulse's 8th anniversary! It's crazy how much has changed in just a year, for worse and for better. If you've stuck with me this long, thank you. It means the world.

Since it's been a minute, here's a recap of the last few chapters and links, in case you'd rather reread:

RECAP
  • Chapter 66
    • Chase went full conspiracy theorist
    • He got uncomfortably close to parts of the truth, and Nat shut him down in an effort to protect him
    • Like most things Nat does, it backfired big time
  • Chapter 67
    • Nat returns to Twinleaf after their fight
    • She is drawn to Lake Verity, where she finds the lake frozen over and Vera critically injured
    • Unsure of what to do, she calls Dani for help

REPLIES
Missy said:
(POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR OTHER PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT READ THE WHOLE RUN)

Guess who's gonna gush. Missy's gonna gush! I promised a comment and by god you're getting a comment, ma'am.

Story time: when I first stumbled upon the forums in 2014 (by thinking, "aw man, i wish i could write nuzlockes instead of drawing comics" and googling for it), Impulse was the first run I looked at, but I was put off by the chapter count even back then. Even so, I read the opening chapter, and it literally stuck with me for five years. When I tried my first storylocke, when I left for a year or two, when I came back, it stuck with me. I never forgot it.

I have no end of admiration for you continuing to write a single story for this long and pouring so much excellent content into it. Like, damn, the dedication! And not a single chapter is a waste of time. You joke about the plot just now getting started in these most recent chapters, but the rest of the story has been a treat for character conflict and Pokemon shenanigans.

I love all the Pokemon. The story doesn't spend a ton of time with them, but they all get their dues nonetheless, and when they get focus it's balanced well with the human drama. Toby has somehow become my favourite just because he's a happy little sap. He has no idea what's going on and he's loving it. I was not expecting to love the Quagsire since they've never stood out to me, but here I am.

You keep a very balanced cast. Between human characters and Pokemon, no one feels like they're superfluous or that they overstay their welcome. I'd scream some more over how you ardently mistreat them but you've already heard enough from me in discord, ha ha.

Like many have said before, you have a simple and effective portrayal of the gym circuit. The "gym leaders as manufactured persona" thing is something so simple and brilliant that it's so, so hard not to copy. Also, the trainer culture is very cool. The fact that Chase steadily becomes an idol as he conquers the gyms is so interesting. I can't think of any other runs off the top of my head where fame is a huge consideration. Whatever, the culture's cool is what I'm saying.

That's what I love best about your Sinnoh. It feels lived in.

Not gonna lie, where you took Riley caught me completely off-guard. I agree with what you said before, that it's ASTONISHING that no one spoiled it for me, but that just made it worse. I had to go lie down. I saw him as a vicarious-enjoyment vehicle hot guy. I was very wrong, apparently. Well, I was ultimately wrong. No offense, but I hold to my theory.

Also, Dani is great! I always liked Maylene, but now she's a character so I'm all on board.

Nat has a very subtle growth throughout most of the story, which is enjoyable, but I'm more of a crisis-and-confront kinda gal so I've been very pleased with the way the story is developing.

Guess that's where I'll leave off for now. I've thoroughly enjoyed binging this story and I cannot flippin' wait for more <3
Missy you have no idea how much it means that that first chapter stuck with you for so long. ;;;;;;;; My writing when I started out left a lot to be desired, but I still loved it and was proud of it at the time so it makes me so happy to hear it stuck out to you. Also aaaaaa, to hear that you think it feels balanced plot and character-wise, I hope you know I was grinning like an idiot when I read this. If you dig crisis and confront (which I know you do, hehe), hopefully the direction the story's about to take will appeal to you.

Thank you for taking the time to give my dumb story a shot, I know it's not an easy one to tackle!

trainergloria said:
Much of what I want to say has already been said by others multiple times, but I hope your holidays are going well and that time is sparing enough to allow more writing in your future. You really do have the talent for it, and it's lovely to see the improvement that's happened over seven years. There's something about this story that has always made it so special, and I'm glad that it gets the attention that it deserves, time and time again. The conspiracy thickens, and a few chapters ago I really enjoyed the Pepe Silvia-esque moment of Chase in the Canalave library. Nat has come far, and I'm excited to see how much further she goes.

Chase, of course, is my favorite but he wasn't always at first. I remember pairing Nat and Riley together at first, but looking back on it it's a bit silly. I hope they both come out alright at the end of it, him and Nat.
Thank you for taking the time to drop a line, I really appreciate you sticking with Impulse over the years. Hope all is well with you~

CHAPTER 68:
True to her word, Dani makes it to Twinleaf in record time.

She rolls up in a sleek black town car, looking completely out of place in our dumpy neck of the woods. She steps out of the backseat still in her clubbing clothes, stilettos dangling from her fingers as she instructs her driver to wait in the car. She slams the door shut, and then levels her gaze on me. "Start talking."

Vera's Pokeball is still clenched in my hands, as if letting go might let the warmth escape it. "You wanna come inside first?"

She shrugs, unbothered. Like she isn't wearing skimpy clothes in the dead of Sinnovan winter, or standing barefoot in the snow. Like being in my presence doesn't make her skin crawl. "Fine. Make it quick."

My mother watches warily from the couch as Dani walks in, craning her neck to scrutinize her. I can't remember the last time we've had a house guest. "Who's your friend?"

Dani sets her shoes down and folds her arms across her chest, side-eyeing me. "I'm not--"

"--staying long," I interject, shooting my mother a look to drop it. I don't want Dani to finish that sentence. Don't want to feel the sting.

My mother stares for a moment longer, then grunts and returns her attention to the television. The tension in the house doesn't disperse.

"I want to see her." It's not a request.

I hesitate, but Dani insists on assessing Vera's condition herself. I wonder if there's a part of her that doesn't believe it's really Vera -- maybe doesn't want to, when she sees the battered Lucario lying prone on the faded linoleum floor. She lets out a strangled sound and snaps at me to recall her, one hand hovering over her mouth in shock, the other suspended uncertainly in the air.

It curls into a fist when she turns to face me. "You know who did this to her, don't you?"

Dread coils like a snake in my gut. I swallow hard, and nod.

Searing white explodes into my vision. I vaguely feel the floor rush up to greet me, cold and unforgiving. It vibrates as footsteps approach, jarring, and my mother shouts, "Hey! What the hell--"

"Go the fuck upstairs, now!" I yell, voice raspy and rattled. I touch my face and nearly yelp. My head and vision are both swimming, sinking -- everything sounds dull. Like I've been plunged underwater and left to drown. It takes an immense amount of effort to grit my teeth and focus on forming words, to breathe even though the air has already escaped my lungs. "I'm handling it."

She pauses, no doubt sizing Dani up, and then growls, "You have five minutes to get the fuck out of my house before I call the cops." I'm surprised she actually listened without arguing, until I hear an insistent grunt. I looked up with my good eye to see Toby has moved in front of me, arms spread wide and shoulders tensed as he looks between my retreating mother and Dani. And right next to him, chittering angrily and jabbing an accusing paw at her owner, is Clementine.

Clementine, who I'd just called worthless, who I'd screamed at and been horrible to, is standing up for me.

Dani watches me quietly for a moment, jaw clenched and nostrils flared. "Was it Galactic?" I nod again, and flinch when her hands drop to her sides, wondering if she's going to hit me again and even my face out. But she just shakes her head, like she channeled all her rage into that left hook and all that's left for me now is disbelief and disgust. "You've been lying this whole time, haven't you," she says, "lying to Cheryl, to the League. To me. You knew all along, and you let Riley die without justice. And you would've let Vera die, too."

"But I didn't," I say firmly. She glares at me for daring to speak, but I push myself up with a groan and lean my back against the wall, clutching my face. It hurts to speak, but not quite as much as Dani thinking so lowly of me. I extend Vera's Pokeball and recall her, then roll the ball across the floor to Dani. She stops it beneath her bare foot, but doesn't take her eyes off me. "Nothing I could've done would've brought him back or saved him. But I wasn't going to let Vera die without at least trying to help. I'm not heartless."

She bites the inside of her cheek, and then slowly stoops to retrieve Vera's ball. Her thumb brushes across its surface absently. "Were you threatened?"

"Yes." My voice wavers, and I clench my eyes shut. Toby lowers to all fours, sensing the shift in the room, and cranes his neck to look at me. I recall him to his ball, and tilt my head back to rest against the wall. The movement is enough to make me dizzy. "Blackmail. Guy came to my hospital room afterward. He paid my bills and reminded me how easily he found me."

The freezer door opens, and I crack my good eye open. Dani rifles through, eventually pulling out a frozen bag of peas. Clem tugs the hand towel from where it hangs on the oven door. Dani thanks her quietly and rubs her head, and Clem leans slightly into her touch now that the tension has subsided. "And Cheryl?"

"Cheryl caught on. I didn't know if I could trust her. She wanted me to turn Vera over to be euthanized. I couldn't let that happen."

"So you lied." Dani wraps the towel around the bag and crouches in front of me, extending the makeshift ice pack to me. I take it from her and gingerly press it against my face, wincing as it makes contact with tender skin. The cold burns through the threadbare towel. I nod, and she sighs. "Am I the only one who knows?"

"Chase knows it was Galactic, but not that they threatened me directly. It was his idea to return to Canalave, and use my gym battle as an excuse to talk to Byron. When I went to tell him, he mentioned hiring a private investigator to look into the incident. I'm pretty sure it's the same guy who showed up at the hospital," Dani looks startled, but I keep going before she can interject, the floodgates now flung wide open, "I panicked, I didn't know how far their reach was into the League, so I didn't tell him what happened. And now Chase thinks he's linked Galactic's leader to Cynthia, and I think he's going to try to confront the League somehow, all alone, and now Vera's dying and I don't -- I don't want to lose anyone else." I choke out the last words and bury my face in my hand, crying for what feels like the millionth time.

I feel a gentle touch on my shoulder, and for a fleeting moment I think maybe Dani has taken pity on me. But when I look up it's Clementine I see peeking at me in apparent concern, paw resting on my shoulder. Dani has risen, her back turned as she collects her heels. "Clem sure seems to have taken a shine to you."

The lump in my throat hardens. "Are you going to take her back now?"

Dani looms over me, arms crossed as she stares me down. "Don't think it hasn't crossed my mind. You haven't exactly given me good reason to trust you. But I meant what I said earlier, on the phone. She seems happier with you and your ma, even if I don't get it. I won't force her to come."

I swallow hard. "We'll take care of her."

"You will," Dani affirms, voice clipped.

I adjust the bag of peas, grimacing as it grazes the bruise that's no doubt blooming around my cheekbone. "Do you think you're going to be able to help Vera?"

Her face darkens, and she bites her lip. "I honestly don't know. She's in pretty bad shape. But I can get her to a doctor that won't ask questions, and I can keep her hidden. You did the right thing by calling me."

I exhale sharply at the words, clenching my eyes shut to keep tears at bay. I feel like I haven't known up from down for such a long time. I didn't know how much I needed to hear that, just this once, I did the right thing. "Thank you."

"Look, I'm sorry," Dani murmurs, "not for punching you, because you damn well deserved that, but… I'm sorry for what you went through." I crack an eye open in surprise, and her hand is extended to me.

I wipe my face on the back of my sleeve, grab her hand, and let her pull me to my feet.

[-:-]

Everything feels different.

The lab sprawls before me, windows dark and bundled in snow. The street lamp flickers overhead as I make my way up the concrete steps, pausing in front of the heavy doors. The Happiny-shaped knockers stare me down just as they had on the day my journey began. I knock three times, step back, and wait.

This time there's no grumpy assistant to greet me, no Lucas ushering me inside for another round of interrogations from Cheryl. No one is around to let me in.

I settle on the top step, brushing the snow away with my foot before sitting down with a groan. It's a couple hours before dawn, but I'd had fleeting hope that Lucas' overachieving ass would already be here. Not that it matters. I wasn't going to get any sleep anyway.

My lighter takes a few clicks to ignite, and I frown as I look at what remains of my pack. I've burned through five in the last few hours alone. At this rate, I'm going to hit my personal record before noon. I let the cigarette dangle from my lips as I reach for the thermos of coffee my mother insisted on brewing at three in the morning. I didn't make an effort to stop her -- maybe it made her feel useful. I don't think she really knew how else to help me.

I don't know how much of the conversation she overheard, but she looked at me different afterward. Asked who Dani was, why she showed up at our house so late, what was going on. I wasn't able to look her in the eye when she'd asked if I was in some kind of trouble.

I wish she'd just gone to bed like I told her to.

I hunch over and scoop up some snow, packing it tightly into my palm. I gingerly press it against the gnarly bruise on my cheek and wince. My skin stings against the wet cold, but I only lean into it further. I'd rather not have my eye swell fully shut if I can help it.

Time passes slowly, every second dragging on in what seems like an eternity. It's agonizing, and not just because of the biting cold -- but because I know Dani is on her way back to Veilstone to try to save Vera. Chase is probably preparing to do something monumentally stupid, with no help from anyone. And what am I doing? Sitting on the same steps where my journey began, back at square one, with nothing to show for myself. Frozen in place, watching the world move on with or without me.

I should get up and move. Get the blood flowing to my extremities, find a spot more sheltered from the blistering wind. But it isn't until I hear footsteps, crunching steadily through the snow, that I force myself to my feet.

A bundled figure shuffles into view, head lowered to block the wind. I hesitate, unsure if it's him or not, until he catches sight of me and stops in his tracks -- lowers the scarf wrapped around his face, revealing fogged up glasses and a scraggly beard. "Natalie? What are you doing here?"

"Waiting for you," I say, teeth chattering. "Think you could pick up the pace a bit?"

He obliges, taking the steps two at a time to unlock the door, while I rub my hands together anxiously. Before I follow him in I kick the lip of the doorframe with my boots, trying to track in as little snow as possible. The overhead lights hum to life when Lucas flips the switch, and as I lower my hood he catches sight of my black eye. "Arceus, what happened to you?"

"Long story," I say sharply, making my way across the lobby to the coffee station with Lucas shadowing me. "One I don't want to waste my breath telling twice. How soon can you get the professor here?"

He frowns, starting the coffee maker and leaning his hip against the counter, arms crossed. "The lab doesn't even open for a few hours, he'll be in around then. How'd you even know I'd be here this early? Was your plan to just sit out there and freeze to death?"

"You didn't answer your phone, and it couldn't wait. Besides, I had a feeling a teacher's pet like you'd be here early." He rolls his eyes and reaches for the creamer, but I block him -- forcing him to look at me. "Hey, I'm serious. Some bad shit's happened. I didn't know who else to trust."

He scans my face -- and I wonder if the seeping bruise reminds him of what happened in Veilstone, because he swallows hard. "Galactic?" I nod, eyes flicking to the floor, and we both nearly jump out of our skin when the coffee pot chirps at us. Lucas curses under his breath, and fishes his cell phone out of his pocket. "I'll see if I can get ahold of him."

It takes all of fifteen minutes for Rowan to arrive. I watch uneasily from my spot on the lobby's couch, hugging a throw pillow tightly to my chest as headlights arc through the windows, the low rumbling of an old car's engine and squeaking of brakes signalling his arrival. He blusters through the door looking more dishevelled than I've ever seen him. His normally coiffed hair is mussed by sleep, a lock of white falling in his face as he removes his flat cap. He shoos Lucas away with it when he offers to take his coat, folding it over his arm instead and acknowledging me with a curt nod. "Ms. Hart."

"Professor," I blurt, jumping to my feet. "Look, I--"

He grunts and holds a finger up as he walks by, putting me on pause as he grabs a mug out of the cabinet. "This seems like the sort of conversation better done in my office. With coffee. Wouldn't you agree?" I bite my lip and cross my arms impatiently, waiting as he fills his cup, stirs in a packet of sugar, and tests it. Only once he's had a sip does he regard us once again, inclining his head toward his office door. "Now then, shall we?"

Rowan's office is cozier than the rest of the lab -- especially without Cheryl here to suck out the warmth. I reluctantly ease into the chair across from him, remembering all too well the times I'd been dragged here to be interrogated by the League and lied through my teeth. And now I'm here, by choice, about to put my own ass on the line.

Might be funny if I wasn't scared shitless.

"I… I haven't been completely honest," I say, eyes flicking between the two of them, and back down to my lap. "About a lot of things. But I don't want anyone else to get hurt, so I'm... trying to fix that now." I trail off, suck in a deep breath, and feel tears prick at my eyes. I rub my nose and half-laugh, "'m sorry, I'm not… I'm not even really sure where to begin…"

Rowan nods, like he understands how hard this is for me. "Honesty is a pretty good place to start, I'd say."

Air whooshes out of me, caught somewhere between a laugh and a sigh. Nice sentiment, but not exactly what I meant, Rowan. "Back in Veilstone, Cheryl brought up the potential that Galactic might be seeking out the legendary Pokemon..." I trail off, plucking at the thread of my jacket sleeve that's quickly coming unravelled. "Have you ever seen Lake Verity frozen over?"

Lucas begins pacing. Rowan's frown deepens. "No, I can't say that I have. Not in all my years here."

"Well it's frozen now. Like, frozen solid -- and there are dead Pokemon, tons of them, all along the shore," I say, tugging the thread harder and watching it come apart at the seams. "My mother always told me that the lake guardian kept it thawed. It feels like too big of a coincidence -- and I think Galactic is behind it."

"How can you be so sure?" he asks, quietly, like maybe he already knows but just wants to hear it from me.

I take a shaky breath, and ball the loose thread in my fist. "Because they're the ones responsible for the mine incident, and I'm responsible for helping cover it up."

Lucas curses under his breath and picks up speed, continuing to pace anxiously. Rowan looks up at him and says firmly, "Either sit down or excuse yourself, Lucas, you'll wear a hole in the floor at this rate." His assistant huffs and leans against the wall. He opens his mouth to retort, but Rowan pins him with a stern look, and he bites his tongue. Only then does the professor turn to me. "Perhaps you should fill me in on the full details."

He doesn't interrupt me. Not once, not to ask for clarification -- not even when I pause, waiting for a reaction. He just listens. Patiently, neutrally, like what I'm saying isn't as fucked up as I think it is. Like the damage isn't irreversible -- like I might be redeemable.

The look of contempt Lucas gives me says otherwise.

It isn't until I've told them about everything -- the incident at the mine, Saturn's visit, my distrust of Cheryl, Chase's revelation, what happened to Vera -- that Rowan leans back in his chair, letting a heavy sigh trickle from his lips.

Lucas, however, leaks air rapidly like a punctured balloon. It makes me think of Willow, and my stomach turns. "Well?"

"Well," Rowan says, not breaking eye contact with me. "That seems like a lot of weight for one person to carry. It was courageous of you to speak up."

"Professor--"

Rowan's hand held in the air silences whatever Lucas was going to say, and his expression hardens. "I'm not excusing her responsibility in this, Lucas, but that can be dealt with later. She looks like she's had a rough enough night as is," he says, and my eye throbs right on cue. "Right now our priority needs to be ensuring the guardians are accounted for and safe. We'll need to observe the other lakes."

"And what if they're frozen over, too?" Lucas asks. He's no longer pacing, instead slumped against the wall. He rubs at his face in exasperation, glasses lifting off his nose. "What if it is Galactic, and they've done something to the guardians? If we can't trust the League, and Cynthia's compromised, what then?"

"We don't jump to conclusions or borrow trouble before discovering all we can," Rowan says sternly. "We're researchers first and foremost."

"He's got a point, though." It's the first time I've spoken up since my confession, and I think it catches them both off guard. "Does it really matter what we find out? What the fuck can we even do?"

Rowan regards me quietly, brow furrowed. "I have a hard time believing you would have risked your life to come here and confess if you didn't think there was a chance we could do something."

My stomach sinks. He's right. I've been using that feeling of helplessness to excuse inaction. It's exactly what Vera accused me of, and what I'd hoped to fix by coming here in the first place. "Yeah, I mean, I hoped. I just don't know what."

"Neither do I. But doing nothing isn't an option."

Lucas lets out a breath he's been holding in for a while. "Well, I think our first step should be giving Chase a call."

I bristle. "Is it really necessary to get him involved?"

Lucas frowns. "I thought he's the one who blew this whole thing open. He's also regarded as one of the strongest trainers in the region right now, outside of the League. Why wouldn't we call him?"

I swallow hard, for once without a rebuttal. I'd clung to some small hope that we didn't need to drag him into this, but he's not wrong -- Chase is our best shot at standing a fighting chance.

"Okay," I murmur, rubbing at my good eye and dragging my hand down my face. "Okay. I'll call him. Just… give me a minute."

They exchange a look, but don't ask any questions as I step out of the office, closing the door behind me. I make a beeline for the coffee station, hoping Rowan's got something a little stronger in one of the cabinets to help take the edge off, help me get the liquid courage to make the call. To have this conversation I've so desperately avoided up to this point.

No such luck -- I settle for a refill and walk across the lobby, setting the mug down on the windowsill and taking a shuddering breath. There's no going back now.

I punch his number into my Poketch, and let it ring.

It's still early. The sky is just now starting to bleed marbled pink and indigo, bathing the snow-covered town in pastels. I hang up before I can hear his chirpy voicemail on the other end. I want nothing more than to turn it into an excuse -- to delay the inevitable, to put the ball in his court. But I know this has gone on long enough.

This time, he picks up after two rings.

"Hey Chase, I--"

"Everything okay?"

We both stumble, pausing in the awkward silence that looms after talking over one another. "Sorry," I mumble, clearing my throat. "You -- go ahead."

He hesitates. "I mean, you called me," he says, slow and groggy, and Arceus -- I'm fucking stupid. I want to just sink through the floor and never resurface. "It's just really early, is all, so I didn't know if everything was okay or…"

Or if I have a legitimate reason for bothering him after he made it clear he was through with me.

"Not really," I murmur. "Sorry for calling. So early, I mean. It -- I wouldn't if it wasn't important."

He grunts, and I imagine him sitting up and rubbing his eyes to force himself awake. To muster up some kindness, some patience for me. "What's going on?"

"Something bad happened. I can't… really share details until--" I hear him sigh, and I tighten my grip on the windowsill, gritting my teeth "--until I've told you about something else. Something I should've told you a long time ago. Look, I haven't been completely honest with you…"

"I'm getting that impression," he huffs. I know the tone -- exasperated, teeth gritted. I bet he's frowning, pinching the bridge of his nose with his eyes squeezed shut. I'd bet anything.

It's frustration he used to reserve for Riley.

"Chase, I'm… I'm trying to now, okay?" I say pleadingly. I don't deserve his trust, or his patience, but -- "This is bigger than me. Than both of us."

His line crackles softly as air whooses out of him. "Okay. Alright, I'm listening."

"I know who's responsible for Iron Island." I rest my forehead against the windowpane, closing my eyes and leaning into the frosty glass. "I knew all along. You were right -- Galactic was down there, and that guy you found, Cyrus? He was there, too." I pause, expecting him to gloat or something at the revelation, I guess, but he doesn't make a sound. "One of his guys, Saturn, came to my hospital room afterward. He threatened me and my mother, and he -- I swear I was really going to tell Byron, honestly I was, but he beat me to him. They've always been one step ahead of me, Chase, and I was so scared. I didn't want to drag you into this. I never meant to."

Still no response. I bump my head against the window in frustration, and wince as I'm reminded of my black eye. "You still there?"

"...Why are you telling me this now?"

"Because you were right," I repeat, biting my lip to force back tears. The back of my neck is hot with shame, even though there's no one else around the lobby to witness my guilt. "Galactic's up to something. Something bad. We think they might be after the lake guardians."

There's rustling on his end. I wonder if I've officially driven him out of bed. "Who's we?"

"Rowan. And Lucas," I add as an afterthought, "I came here to ask for their help. When I got back into town, I--"

"Do they know?" he asks, cutting me off. His voice is drained of any anger -- closer to something resembling hurt, which is somehow even harder for me to swallow. "All of it?"

"Yes," I say quietly, glancing over my shoulder at Rowan's office door. Thankfully, it's still shut. "All of it. There wasn't really any getting around it." He sucks in a breath and I immediately backpedal, because that's not what I meant -- not what I meant to say, at least. "With everything that's happened, I thought they needed to know."

"Right." An awkward beat, and then, "Can you put Rowan on the phone? Whatever's going on… I want to hear it from him."

I swallow hard. "Yeah, of course. Hang on."

It takes a moment to peel myself away from the window, swiping at my good eye and trying to collect myself before heading back into the office. Rowan doesn't look up from whatever he's writing down, but Lucas practically jumps from his perch on the edge of Rowan's desk.

I return to my seat and carefully pull the Poketch off my wrist, sliding it across the table. I rub at the tan line exposed by its absence, and don't look up. "He wants to speak with you directly."

The professor blinks, and turns it so the display faces him. "Rowan speaking."

"Is she telling the truth?" Chase asks, skipping pleasantries entirely. "She told you about Iron Island, Galactic, Cynthia, all of it?"

My heart sinks. He asks it like I'm not sitting right here, hearing every word. Maybe I shouldn't be. I don't know why I expect him to take my word for anything, after this.

Rowan glances up, watching me carefully as he replies. I can't meet his eyes, instead letting my eyes wander to the drab walls of his office. "I have no reason to believe otherwise. I'm more concerned with what Galactic intends to do. We don't know their end game, here. Ms. Hart suggested that you had a theory?"

"Yeah," Chase grunts, voice muffled. "I can send over my notes, but I'm not sure how any of it ties to whatever happened at the lake."

Rowan raises his eyebrows at me questioningly. I'm sure he thought that's what we were discussing outside. I shrug one shoulder and mutter, "He wanted to hear it from you."

Not me.

I shouldn't be here.

But I'm stuck in place, fingers gripped tightly on the arms of the chair I'm sitting in, knuckles bleached white. I listen to Rowan tell Chase about the lake, about Vera, about our suspicion that the lake guardians might be targeted.

"That's why we wanted to get you involved," Rowan says finally. "If what you believe is true -- if the League is truly compromised, we're not in the best position to act alone."

"I'll do anything I can to help," Chase says earnestly. I hear the zip of his jacket through the speaker -- Arceus, he's already dressed and ready to go wherever Rowan tells him to go. No second thoughts, no concern for his safety. "What's our next move?"

"We need to check on the other lakes," Lucas says. "As of right now, we have no idea if they've even been affected, or what may've caused Verity to freeze over."

"I was planning on heading up to Snowpoint next anyway, for my last badge. I can look into Lake Acuity."

Lucas nods. "I'll take Valor, then."

I relinquish my grip on the arms of the chair. "What can I do?"

"You've done enough," Chase says, and even though it stings, there's no venom in it. "Stay home, and keep safe until we figure out what we're up against."

I spare a glance at Rowan for confirmation, and his lips press together in a tight line. "He's right. If you've got a target on your back, you need to lay low."

My chair groans in protest as it scrapes across hardwood, causing everyone to look up at me as I abruptly exit the room. I let the door slam shut behind me a little harder than I'd meant to, but it doesn't really matter if they chalk it up to theatrics. They've already made their judgments of me.

The women's restroom is down the hall to the left. The lights flick on automatically, revealing gray and blue tile and two empty stalls -- and I think, briefly, to all the times I'd sought refuge in them from Cheryl's cornering.

There's no one to hide from now but myself.

I wave my hands in front of the paper towel dispenser impatiently, gathering a wad of them that I wet down with cold water from the sink. I sit on the counter, facing away from the mirror and the ugliness that lurks in my reflection, and press the cool compress against my eye.

It doesn't do much to relieve the sting.

I don't know why this is bothering me so much. Isn't this exactly what I'd told Chase I wanted? To be left alone, to go back home, to pretend like none of this ever happened?

Is that even still an option for me, at this point?

I spend a few minutes there on the counter, forcing my breathing to calm. When the soggy towels are warm and I've been here long enough to raise suspicion, I use my foot to flush one of the toilets and run the water for good measure. When I step out of the restroom, Lucas is waiting for me.

"You alright?" he asks. I scan his face for some hint of disdain or insincerity, but if it's there, he's doing a good job masking it. So I nod, and he dips his head to gesture at Rowan's office. "We're making preparations now. I'm heading out tomorrow morning, and Chase is heading that way soon. There's a storm blowing in, so he's going to try to beat it there."

My throat tightens. "Why doesn't he just wait for it to pass through?"

He shrugs. "You tell me, he's about as hardheaded as you are. He insisted he'll be fine."

"Yeah well, he also lacks common sense sometimes," I grumble, folding my arms crossly. "This was exactly what I wanted to avoid, by getting him involved."

"Well we don't really have another option, unless you want to volunteer to go in his place." I look away, and he sighs. "Look, you don't give him enough credit. He's a smart guy, and a talented trainer. He'll be okay."

I want so badly for him to be right.

Man, that punch has been a long time coming, huh?

I'm so excited for upcoming chapters I can hardly stand it, and as soon as anxiety/extended-seasonal-depression-a-la-pandemic stop repeatedly kicking me in the teeth, hopefully I can share it with any of you who might still be reading. Hope you're all doing well and staying safe during this time~

CURRENT TEAM:
TUCKER
KIARA
JADE
TOBY
 

Thirteenth

Number XIV
Writer
Pokédex No.
14
Caught
May 20, 2019
Messages
117
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ice
Pokédex Entry
The reason she guides people all the way down to the mountain's base is that she wants them to hurry up and leave.
I just went back and reread chapter 66 and, I miss Nat and Chase so much 😭 I want things to be good between them again... For him to not feel like this about her:
I bet he's frowning, pinching the bridge of his nose with his eyes squeezed shut. I'd bet anything.

It's frustration he used to reserve for Riley.
Which still hurts me btw. will I ever be over riley, no

But god I missed your characters and your writing so much, and -- 8 years!! I can't believe it. Huge congrats on sticking with this story for so long. I'll be here however long it takes to finish this wonderful story ;w; Happy birthday, Impulse!
 

Missy

i left my heart in alola
Writer
Pokédex No.
94
Caught
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
79
Nature
Lax
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Tough
Pokédex Entry
just missy now
This was the perfect chapter to come back with! Every bullet is bitten and suddenly the story seems so open. I can't wait to see how you interpret the really plot-heavy half of Sinnoh. The conversation with Chase.... that stung, oh boy. Chase can't throw a punch like Dani, but unerring patience is probably worse for a self-deprecating gal like Nat. She's walking around with two black eyes, even if only one bruises. That said, if any violence befalls Chase there will be HELL to pay.

Impulse has always been a huge inspiration/motivation for me, and I'm feeling blessed with this chapter right now. The pandemic blues are a real pain, but I know you can push through. Take care of yourself and write!!!
 

glancesherlock

Consulting Detective
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
32
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
133
Location
221B Baker Street
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Ghost
Pokédex Entry
Just wants to stay home and solve crimes.
Happy Eight Years, girl!!! Your dedication and determination to stick with this story after so long is inspiring af, you're my hero.

Things are moving! I'm so excited to see the group rally and move, even if relationships are shaky and half these interactions come straight for the jugular. Nat is just on everyone's shitlist right now, and idk just how deserved it is, but goddamn. At least she's trying. ;;; So, so happy Chase is getting back into the action and that Vera is going to get the medical attention she needs. I hope she's okay...

btw Dani just showing up in a cocktail dress and barefoot in the snow is some BDE.
 

Whozawhatcha

Conqueror of the Celadon Gym
Pokédex No.
486
Caught
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
39
Dani? Cocktail dress? No heels no coat in the snow? God what a bad bitch.

Anyways, as much as I love/hate Nat I'm pleased as puffed that she got decked the hell out. But as things go, i really hope she STOPS getting decked. Physically or just by life in general. I'm just ready for her to FIGHT BACK yanno? She's overdue to start really caring enough about others to do something about it all, so I'm glad she's finally taken a step in the right direction.

Also, I have such a soft spot for Chase and Nat's relationship so I'm itching for them to come clean and mend fences. I think it's also because they're really my Josey and Hugh, but to the left and a lot more nuanced. I love how you get characters into realistic fights and begrudging acceptance.

I'm also in awe that after so long ITS STILL GOING. 8 years? Bitch not me, you have hella dedication. Here's hoping to see how everything finally comes to a head, and here's hoping summer snaps and brings with it excellent mental health for you!
 

Duke_Maniac

Conqueror of the Saffron Gym
Pokédex No.
367
Caught
Jul 4, 2019
Messages
70
Dang I forgot about this one. Glad to finally see another update. Everyone is getting right now which will continue for maybe like 2 more updates then they’ll hate each other again
 

AstroDeath

Conqueror of the Vermillion Gym
Pokédex No.
44
Caught
Jun 12, 2019
Messages
27
Back with an immediate bang. All of what, 150 words in to start the chapter and it's tension and back and forth right away. It honestly didn't even take a whole lot of catching up to get back into the thick of it because right away everything came flooding back.

I'm loving the fact that Toby and Clementine are sticking up for Nat and are about ready to go to war for her. Of all the 'mons to get ready to throw down, I wouldn't've imagined they'd be ready to sit Dani's ass down--or at least try lol. The 'even my face out' bit is such a spot on way to subtly throw in Nat's personality; straight up socked in the face and reeling from it and still has the presence of mind to think a bit of bitter sarcasm about the potential of being hit again.

Man. Suck it up, apologize for punching her lol. To be honest, as tough as Dani is, she probably got off a bit lucky. Feel like Mom was about to throw down if it weren't for Nat calling her off. Can't just go into someone's home, punch their child, and expect them not to throw hands back.

It's so fun with your Rowan coming back. I've loved how you've represented him, and while Sinnoh hasn't ever been one of my favorite regions, he's hands down been one of the best professors. He's always been on Nat's side and hasn't ever really bullshitted her with his pretty matter of fact personality; him telling Lucas to chill or gtfo got a laugh out of me, cause it's such a small but consistent bit of character building for him you've done lol.

Aw that's a dirty move, with the Willow comparison. Come on, man, don't do me like this.

Even after their last interaction, the fact Chase starts the conversation with asking how Nat's doing goes to show how good a dude he is. Guy's first instinct is to put others first, even after having a heavy disagreement. That said, it kinda sucks to hear him make her have Rowan reiterate what she said. Doesn't quite come across as entirely distrusting, what with how heavy everything is, but on better terms and in a better situation he definitely wouldn't've 'fact checked' her that way.

The little things you've always done with Chase sticking to his 'Barry' roots makes me smile. Chase is more serious of course, but he still has that 'Gotta go fast!' attitude, and Nat hearing him zipping up his coat doubles down on that. He is nothing if not a man of action.

I mean, let's be real. A storm couldn't stop Rowan. He's just blow at it and it'd reverse course.

This was a super fun chapter. Don't even worry about the hiatus, it was awesome to come back to everybody acting in rare form. Don't worry too, if you gotta take a bit to keep chugging along. Shit's dope, man. Take whatever time you need, short or long, and do what you want when you can. We all out here ready to read when you give us more lol.
 

Dee

THIS IS MY HAPPY FACE
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
147
Caught
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
544
Location
Zion National Park
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
They/Them
Pokémon Type
Bug, Clever
Pokédex Entry
A regular writer of fanfics and other works, this pokemon loves puns, bugs, and the outdoors.
I might be alone in thinking Nat didn't deserve that punch. At least get her an apology! The cave-in wasn't her fault, and they threatened her family... that's some real shit right there

But as intense as the convo with Dani was, I'm intrigued that Rowan and Chase are onboard now too. Something tells me that Chase is going to have the rug pulled out from under him soon... I only hope he doesn't wind up in too much hot water!

Happy 8th anni, Impulse! It's great to see you back :D
 

Wwarborday

Gradually Becoming Productive
Pokédex No.
153
Caught
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
109
Location
Gaytown
Nature
Sassy
Pronouns
He/him/his
Pokémon Type
Ground, Ice
Pokédex Entry
I'm Doing My Best
I didn't expect her to tell them.

Like, cards on the table; I 100% didn't expect her to tell them the truth. Self-preservation, selfishness, shame; that's what defines Nat. It's an incredible mark that she said anything at all, and an even bigger indicator of her character development that she told the truth.

This chapter keeps the momentum of the story moving, speeding it back up after Nat's break. It's paced very well. Keep it up!
 

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