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7/26/2020 c3 11Seeking7
First of all, I love how you used profanity to immediately distinguish the change in POV. You’ve already established that Kalinka has firm boundaries when it comes to vulgar language, and that she generally tends to shy away from tier-two (whatever that means lol) swear words.

I love the introduction you’ve used here with dominoes as a metaphor for the thinking process. How brilliant! And Tom’s final conclusion made me crack a stupid smile even though I’m fandom-blind. You’ve clearly communicated to the reader just how much of a facetious workaholic Cossack is and I truly admire that! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you’re an absolutely brilliant and very very talented writer.

And Dr. Light’s characterization here is…*aggressive chef’s kiss.* It’s all in the details, and I see each and every one of those said details and can’t get over how smoothly they’ve been integrated into the text. Things like Dr. Light being the slightest bit dramatic and even a little scatterbrained, his penchant for overdoing things (his comments on the pince-nez made me actually laugh out loud!) and even the way he literally says “Thomas X. Light...feelings, disengage.” And that conversation between Light and Roll about the deer was both informative and spooky. I feel like you’re planning something big, and I have no idea what it is. So well done! And the love Light clearly has for Blue shines through here, it’s made all the more sweeter considering how surprised and heartbroken he is at the realization that Blue doesn’t trust him like he once used to. And it’s details such as Light saying (“take me to my son”), his smooth, organic mental narration thanking Cossack for the chair, his heartfelt gratitude to Kalinka for taking such good care of Blue…

Your writing continues to amaze me!

Anyway, back to the story. The way that Light remembers the exact number of hairs on Blue’s head and even recalls threading them there himself is such a beautiful and heartbreaking thing to hear. All the other details about how artistically and lovingly Dr. Light created Blue serves to highlight both Light’s kind soul and Wily’s callousness. Ugh, the characterization here is brilliant and I would perish for it any day of the week.

And the ending...oh...maybe I shouldn’t be listening to a heart wrenching orchestration of “Leaves on the Vine” while reading this, because now I’m crying. Incredible, incredible work.
7/26/2020 c2 Seeking7
I’m back, and I’ve got tears in my eyes.

It’s incredible how you’re able to take something as personal, and, all things considered, as a young girl’s first period and turn it into a brilliant framing device for the chapter. Through this you’ve introduced the reader to Kalinka’s almost unrequited love for her mother and the unique brand of grief she carries with her. It also serves to explain her intense and heartbroken reaction to seeing her mother again. Also, I might have found a spelling error? “The plaid pyjama bottoms..” I think you meant to say pajama here? Or perhaps that’s just me and my American spelling XD

Also, I just wanted to point out here that the dialogue between Mikhail and Kalinka is very well done. It sounds extremely natural and very much like the sort of talk that would go on between a father and his daughter, caught in the crossfire of a crumbling relationship. You write it so well that I’m hoping you haven’t gone through something like this yourself.

I love the little details you’ve sprinkled in here, some of them actually send shivers down my spine. Small details like Kalinka stubbing her toe on the plate Mikhail left outside her door, or her vision growing blurry when she dwells on less-than-happy thoughts...you’re a master at knowing what to show and what to tell and it makes the reading experience all the more incredible.

I did a little bit of reading into Kalinka’s character, and while I don’t know her nearly as well as the Megaman fans that are reading this piece, I want to say that you’ve nailed her characterization. The way that she’s still so girly and stubborn and elegant, even (and especially) under the duress of growing up and her captivity is something that struck me as really interesting. At first I was wondering if you had simply made the mistake of writing a 13-year old girl as the 9-year old she canonically appeared as, and then I realized that this was intentional, not a mistake. Kalinka never really had a chance or a reason to grow up, and from the dynamic you’ve demonstrated between her and her father, it makes sense that she’s stuck in a sort of childish limbo. Her father clearly hasn’t changed the way he’s interacted with her over the years, and there has been little reason for her to change in response. Perhaps I’m just rambling the way fandom-blind reviewers often, do, please forgive me! But I adore how careful and thoughtful each facet of this chapter is. Also, I was wondering if you put a page break somewhere in the fic, specifically between the scenes of Kalinka’s captivity and her attempt at fixing Blue’s core herself? I know FFN has a weird habit of deleting page breaks that aren’t formatted in a certain way, and I just wanted to point this out in case this happened to be the situation as well.

And the last line….ooh! Vague enough to not immediately amp up the tension to ungodly levels, but certainly subtle and intriguing enough to let the reader know you have a lot more in store for us.
6/22/2020 c1 Seeking7
I rise once again, and I’m ready to review another fic! Right off the bat things are pretty intense. The way that Blues is first described here, as a “body stretched out on his daughter’s bed…” is very chilling. Just describing Blues as nothing more than a body is a chilling and fascinating way to start off.

The descriptions here are spot-on. I got chills multiple times. Here are just some passages that gave me goosebumps:

“...That is, a large, boy-shaped, anatomically-correct stuffed animal.” OH MAN. I can feel Mikhail’s concern and discomfort through every scrap of his mental narration. Bulls eye.

“Blues felt safe here among Kalinka’s snow globes and nail polish collection and Botticelli posters and other regalia of thirteen-year-old girlhood.” This was fantastic and gave me a very good idea of who Kalinka is, inside and out. Geez, man, what sorta books do you read to come up with descriptions this succinct and good? I’ve got goosebumps all over my arm now.

“And then they would save Blues life whether he liked it or not.” Something about the bluntness and severeness of this passage is hilarious to me, and given the fact that it's’ coming from Mikhail’s mind, it gives me even more insight into the no-nonsense person I’m starting to see him as.

Mikhail originally came off to me as concerned but a little bit standoffish and overly serious, but his emotional intelligence came off clearly when he realized why Kalinka had screwed up the plan. It didn’t take too much from him to understand the emotional effect Blues’ shut down must have had on her, and it makes him seem like a more well-rounded and interesting character.

Fantastic chapter! I can’t wait to read more.
11/7/2019 c5 8ImaginationInterpreter
*garbled noise of frustrated protest*
The feels! Life is complicated, and ALL the characters are dealing with the conflicts of interest. Everyone putting Blues' needs first is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
Thank for the short update!
10/25/2019 c4 ImaginationInterpreter
Brilliant insight into both of his internal conflicts. I enjoy reading your version of this world, so thank you for every bit you share.
1/13/2019 c3 LOOKER
I can’t believe you actually wrote another chapter!
11/1/2018 c3 85Bryon Nightshade
I really like the way Tom remembers details of Blues' construction, in a way that could have been over the top but isn't. A song lyric: "This world gave me no child so I built one." It's an expression, not of Pygmalion-esque self-satisfaction of artistic impulse, but of sheer love and tenderness.

To a certain extent, the White Lie is a version of The Dance. Of course Blues can see through it; but by requiring the White Lie- not it specifically but something of its ilk- Blues can satisfy the same needs that The Dance satisfies: reassuring Blues that Light will follow his rules and honor his wishes, while avoiding face-to-face contact with Light even at Blues' most vulnerable.

Of course Blues can hide a secret better than anyone: he's had to hide what he was, pretend to be something other than he was, just to survive. He has more practice than anyone.

The irony: everyone wants this to happen. Mikhail, Kalinka, Thomas, Blues: they all want this operation to happen, and successfully. Yet here they are, having to strain and strive to try and accomplish what's so obvious. A quote: "In war, everything is simple, but the simplest things are very difficult." Yes- and in love, too.
10/30/2018 c2 Bryon Nightshade
Now this is where you really hit your stride. This chapter not only gives us an explanation for the single-parent household, but does it in a way that it's narratively useful, even affecting. The real triumph is in the structure of the chapter, which bears a more-than-passing similarity to the story's title. The relevance of the episodes Kalinka remembers (and what they have in common) isn't obvious at first, but it unfolds and unfolds and comes to full flower in the end. Going through those memories serves as a marvelous way to bring home how hard it is for her to do this, and what she fears might happen, and- by extension- how important this all is to her. Superb work.
10/30/2018 c1 Bryon Nightshade
I've been grossly delinquent in my reviews. Let's try and mitigate that.

Some of the details, almost parentheticals, I find very pleasing. The reference to Kalinka's flunking algebra puts the weirdness and improbability of the White Lie's success in sharp relief. Referring to Wily's temporary fix to Blues' core as "a calculated piece of planned obsolescence" does wonders for establishing his villainous bona fides. This isn't an Ariga-verse where Wily is a curmudgeonly Well-Intentioned Extremist. That little phrase gives us a Wily willing to chain others to him, wring them dry, and discard them when they've served their purpose. Even when he doesn't appear, he looms. The uselessness of Blues' shield works well, too.

At first blush, I wasn't sure about Mikhail's "over-protective father" schtick; it seemed... well, too easy, I suppose. It came clear by the end, though, that Mikhail comes by it honestly. And it pays off in setting up his mini-revelation at the end, when his viewpoint on Blues changes and he sees him as a person deserving sympathy. I actually thought you maybe belabored the point a little when you did the thing with blankets and pillows. Still, a very effective read.
10/25/2018 c3 1Aegis Linnear
Thank you so much for updating this. It's a real work of arteveryone's thread is tangled around all the others differently, and each of them dealing with their own loss in one way or another. After Hiding, after knowing how this ends, I'm all the more eager to see the good times still to come before the bad ones.
8/13/2017 c2 30Dr Facer
I thougth it was a one shot when I read it a while ago.
Nice second chapter, it's well made and entertaining.
10/29/2016 c1 13MagpieTales
Hi Kaguya, came over from WA to read the challenges entries – better late than never, right? Fandom blind, but that wasn't an impediment.

Wow – I loved this! Mikhail's voice is so strong, and it never waivers. Telling the story completely through his eyes, with Blues and his daughter asleep/out and unresponsive for the whole thing, really worked for me – using his pov keeps it from getting overly sentimental.

What a dramatic opening too. The body, unmoving, a breezing lifting its hair – that was a vivid image. Mikhail's feelings as a father came over loud and clear, and were very believable. You conveyed that very well, right down to some subtle word choices: having Mikhail call Blues the body at first, like he's a thing, an object. Then it's the boy, or the selfish idiot, and I could just hear him grumbling that under his breath.

Mikhail doesn't want to like Blues, or see him as a real person, and he certainly never, ever wants to admit, even to himself, what it is Kalinka feels for Blues. Yet, in the end, he doesn't separate them – which is lovely. Even though he can't admit it, he won't hurt his daughter. Awwww. He might be grumpy, but he's a good father.

The part where Mikhail imagines how Kalinka fell asleep and changes his mind is particularly well-written. For a short piece, this was full of depth too. Why would Blues trust Kalinka to do this when she failed algebra? Mikhail can't or won't see why, but the reader can. That's great!

Your prose is very good, clear and well-written. Italics for thoughts and emphasis were appropriate and consistent, and added to the story. You had some lovely phrases too: 'deep windy breaths of the impenetrably asleep', images flashing 'like lightning strikes', and 'cocooned in their individual pods'. (And I love that the blankets weren't enough, he had to wedge a pillow between them too!)

Well done, a really engaging piece!

Now some (tiny) suggestions for improvements, feel free to ignore.

First, a word choice that didn't work so well for me: 'A pinkish candor in his cheeks.' I don't think candor fits there, as it means being honest or open.

Second, this phrase 'Gleaming on Kalinka's desk was the silvery fist-sized device,' seemed a little awkward at the start of that sentence.

Lastly, at the end when Light says, “Is Blues?...” The question mark usually goes after the dots like this: “Is Blues...?”

Hope that was helpful. Great story.
8/6/2016 c1 Cassowary
I've read Fallling Short twice over now, and I'm glad to see more Mega Man fic from you! You really do justice to Blues, and I like the focus you put on Kalinka, since she doesn't get a whole lot of focus in fics.
8/6/2016 c1 6J23K
Hey Canoes!

So as per your request, I wanted to do this review as to the point as possible. I like focus in stories a lot and the same rules should really apply to my reviews. So I’ll do strengths, weaknesses, some analysis and evaluation followed by a brief conclusion. This should keep it to one (maybe two) review pages however we will see.

So the first strength was that you established a really good amount of narrative potential and set up some key elements in the story as well. I liked the establishment we got on the status of Blues’ and Light’s relationship, Kalinka and Cossack’s relationship, Kalinka and Blues relationship and also Cossack and Blue’s relationship. And I really liked the chemistry triangles you’ve painted; so just taking Cossack as a character, he’s on neutral grounds with Light and to some extent Blues, but he’s on great grounds with Kalinka. On the other hand though, Blues is on great grounds with Kalinka, neutral grounds with Cossack but bad grounds with Light. The way you’ve established the relationships just means that there’s so many ways you can explore now of bouncing these characters off one another and creating really cool conflicting moments (if that is the type of story you’re trying to write) or cool character moments.

The second strength in all your works is a firm grasp of and really deep exploration of feelings, thoughts and ideologies regarding your characters. In this chapter, it was really through a lot of telling, but the whole rule on how telling is bad writing is total crap. I seriously think when necessary, it should and NEEDS to be used, and here there was no point in conveying this information in any other way. It’s prominent in a lot of your works with deep character explorations. You really like looking at the mental and emotional states of characters in what they do, and spend lots of time inside their heads and also looking at their inner workings with little happening in the physical world. It means that sort of the external action is put on the back-foot but I didn’t really mind that this chapter.

The third strength is the little character details and also sensory details (that stayed focused so didn’t feel out of place). I really liked the ideal that Kalinka made a promise to Blues about not taking him to the lab and she was standing firm to that promise which added colour to her character. It says a lot about her and her relationship to Blues even though she knows he could be in danger, and also a childish form of sensibilities when it comes to what needs to happen next. Cossack, on the other hand, is painted as somewhat impatient as well as a man of firm ideals (Blues and Kalinka shouldn’t be sleeping on the same bed, even if the boy is an android.) And the second paragraph of the chapter, where you describe Blues on the bed, that was probably my favourite part of this work so far. Not really sure why but it really stuck with me, the image of Blues shut down with his palms up. Oh and also one other sensory detail, how he’s really cold even though he looks human but I’ll get to this in the critical analysis. So yeah, the character details really did drive the chapter home for me so well done on them :)

The final strength in this work is that it had conflict, pre-dominantly internal, that drove the whole chapter forwards at a nice, smooth pace. I mean there wasn’t anything that really struck out as saying ‘oh this looks like change is on the horizon’ which would have really invested me into the work however at this point, I don’t really mind that too much (and if that’s not the story you want to tell then fair enough :) ) At this point, I can’t really say if external conflict is going to be in this work however it hasn’t been in previous works and that’s also fine to me. I’d rather you tell the story you want to tell anyway and I’ll review that :D

Okay so I’m supposed to talk weaknesses however at this point in the story, I think it would be redundant and counter-productive. This is just the starting chapter; so there’s no point in me saying things that may actually influence or make you think ‘oh I should probably put that next chapter’ and thereby deviate from the story you actually want to tell. So I’mma hold off on all weaknesses until I have a firm grasp of exactly what story you are looking to tell in two or three more chapters.

Alright, so the analysis! There’s two major points and ideals I really wanted to talk about in this review. The first is once again the idea of a human looking child who is not at all a human. So even though he’s got human looking features, in actual fact he’s very cold when you touch him or he’s shut down or he’s hiding a plasma cannon in his wrist etc etc. But it’s this idea that the characters are often fooled into thinking he’s real, only to be brought back to reality when they notice how cold he is, or how he’s shut down etc etc. I think it makes for this very layered character with just … so much narrative potential to explore. But in a way, it also does put kind of a barrier between readers and this character because you’re constantly reminded that he’s not like us, which takes away the similarities that we will often look for in each other and distances him from us. That’s not to say this is a bad thing, with the way that you constantly remind us that he is an android (or whatever they’re called in the MegaMan universe) seems intentional so I’m interested to see how that plays into the overarching story. But then when you add in the relationships he has and the differentiated ones because of his nature, it makes for some intriguing and exciting plot devices going forwards. So the second point compliments the first and is the human relationships around the robot. In particular, Kalinka and Cossack as somebody who seems very aloof and separates himself from his emotions to this boy to a girl who is totally in love with this machine (or might as well be :P) and therefore very attuned to the boy. It makes for a very interesting study about the complexity of human nature overall. That’s all I can really glean from this chapter without going too into detail and once again just annoying you as opposed to helping you lol. I’m trying my hardest but please do let me know if it’s still not working for you because otherwise these reviews really are pointless, y’know?

So my evaluation, the final point, is really just my thoughts as a reader on what’s happening so far and how the story is going to progress. I could be completely wrong so just disregard if I am and tell the story you want to tell. So at this point, it seems like Blues is going to eventually become activated again because you’ve set up how he doesn’t like Light, and I don’t think that information would be there if you had no plans for it. That scraps my initial thoughts that this was very much going to be about exploring relationships between the other characters and all these separate characters being united through the struggle that is ‘Blues is in trouble’. So I’m curious to know how the story is going to progress now and in particular, what fate awaits the characters going forwards. From this first chapter though, this definitely seems like a very character-focused story going forwards; in that all that’s really talked about is just the characters. There’s practically none of the symbolism and imagery from Falling Short or even the sensory details that didn’t matter (unless they relate to characters or tell us more on their feelings, thoughts and emotions) so instead what we get is a harder look at the characters and a setting-up of the events to come. So it’s an interesting take and I’m wondering if differentiating your writing style like this was intentional or whether it was just a by-product of the story you’re trying to tell (I mean I just read the new Utopia chapter before this review and it amazes me how different it is from FS, Hiding and RB; like even in format, it’s much choppier and quicker chapters but also right down to how it’s 1st person in Utopia but always 3rd person in every other fic and how the main character is a very morally different character to what I’ve seen in your works before but anyway ANYWAY I’m waffling so I’ll get back to the review).

In conclusion then, it’s a pretty solid start and I’m interested to see how it goes forwards from here. You set up the pieces pretty well, and I’m interested to know how these events are going to affect the characters and what this story is really all about. Hope this helped, and I’m looking forwards to the next chapter!
7/31/2016 c1 24StopTalkingAtMe
Aww. I'm fandome-blind, but this was lovely and touching and very sweet. I particularly liked Mikhail's struggle with his protective instincts towards his daughter. Nicely done.
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