Thousand Roads

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Chapter 31 Reply

Even though the next chapter (presumably the battle with Red and the meeting with Mewtwo) should be the climax of the arc, or even the whole story, I really feel like this one is the emotional culmination of everything written so far. The child begins to question its overly simplistic worldview, while Nate is forced to confront his uncertain future, self-doubt, and even his personal failings.

The climax actually comes after the battle against Red, in Chapter 33. And we're a loooong way off the end of the story, heh. But you're right, this is one of the most significant chapters in terms of the characters themselves. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading it!

Mightyena went and asked the question everyone's been wondering all along, and Nate's response to it was just so heartbreaking. He's scared and confused and he doesn't have any options, but his pokémon want him to be happy and do the right thing. He's built up all these big angry walls around himself, and they're so high and spiky that he would hurt himself badly just by trying to climb out of them.

Yeah, exactly! I love how you describe the situation here. Nate tries really hard, but he can't really even conceive of life being any other way, much less how he would even go about trying to find something better. It's great, I think you got everything I was hoping for out of that scene.

Before Nate could talk to his pokémon, Nate might have loved them, but it was in the way that people love their pets. Humans might entertain the idea that their pets are intelligent, but humans also tend to project, and they rarely consider that unconditional love and unconditional acceptance are not the same thing. Raticate even brought up that point very succinctly in the part of the conversation that Nate never heard.

Yes, definitely! I don't know that I've done a good job of conveying that Nate's relationship to his pokémon has changed based on the fact that he can properly communicate with them now--I don't think he's really had enough time to have many real conversations with them in the past few chapters. But it's definitely the case that even though he always loved and appreciated his pokémon, there was that element of his loving and appreciating his image of his pokémon rather than them as they really are. Not really his fault, he didn't have the opportunity to interact with them properly before. But now that he can, some things will definitely have to change.

And I hope he has some bengay for that burn.

Alas, the protagonist didn't translate that statement, either, so he got savaged without even realizing it. :P

I can only guess how Mightyena felt about that, but I assume that she's kind of carried the idea that while Nate is usually a jerk, he was HER jerk, and he would never be like that to the people who mattered.

To some extent. Nate has blown up at her and the other members of the team from time to time; there's kind of a pattern in how he responds to stress, which is part of why Mightyena's so cautious in how she broaches the subject, and kind of ended up putting it off until what turned out to be the worst possible moment. Even though she was expecting things to go badly, though, what Nate said was WAY over the line.

And finally, I really love how the child is finally, FINALLY starting to understand that the world isn't divided into good people who love pokémon and bad people who hate pokémon. It was really a long time coming, and it's been smacking the child in the face left and right, but as was established, the child is pretty dense when it comes to these sorts of things. For a good while, I wasn't sure if the child had its emotional maturity stunted permanently as a result of being whatever the heck it is. Either way, it's so gratifying to be witness to its ambivalence as it confronts its own beliefs.

Heh, I think the denseness of the protagonist is something that frustrates a lot of people. It's nice to be getting to the part of the story where it's at least wrestling with some things that it had previously dismissed entirely. It's worth noting, though, that it does have some physical limitations as a result of its transformation: it really does have low empathy and difficulty understanding what other people are thinking and feeling. So it's not incapable of learning or coming to understand messy human-problem kinds of things, but it's never going to be a quick study and it's working with disadvantages relative to most people. In any case, I hope you enjoy the very slow process of it maybe coming to appreciate

I can't wait to see how the protagonist is going to use all of its cheaty hacky powers in the battle against Red. Those are the kinds of strategies that I LIVE for.

Well, the battle doesn't really end up going in that direction, unfortunately. :P Hopefully you enjoy how it plays out nonetheless!

A long, long time ago, when you were writing (the exact same chapter, no less) Clouded Sky, I sent you an email asking about the alternate version of what happened in the robot lugia lighthouse (if I'm remembering correctly, it was an indoor fight with a wailord that ends up impaling itself on icebergs). It's a little uncanny how history ends up repeating itself.

Oh man, I completely forgot about that! It's been a scary amount of time since Chapter 31 in that story, heh. What a fun coincidence.

Thanks a ton for following along with my stories for all these years, and for leaving such wonderful comments! Your reviews always brighten my day, and I'm glad this chapter in particular worked so well for you. &slugma;

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