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for Don't Look Back

9/6/2021 c4 29Edhla
Had to read a few chapters back to remind myself of exactly where I was up to, which is entirely my fault! I've missed this story.

Dr. Wily's 'voice' is so fun to read. He has that combination of formality and colloquialisms that I'm always drawn to, no matter the character. I haven't heard the expression 'the little snip', but was on board with it as a childish sort of euphemism which cut across his grand "my creativity knew no limits" stuff, ha.

I agree with Wiley. If I found a time machine that only took me forward, I'd be annoyed.

I love Wiley's (well, your!) portrayal of newly-activated Rock as the robotic equivalent of a toddler who has no sense and can't stop touching things. Aww! What a great way to make the reader feel empathy for him (even schmucks like me who don't know his canon equivalent) and, by extension, portraying Wily as the sort of monster who would hurt a child without remorse. By equating him to a curious toddler or a stubborn teen, the reader wants him to be OK.

I also like Wiley's insistence that a Time Machine that doesn't really *work* is a MINOR setback. There's lots to reluctantly admire about Wily.

[Dr. Albert Wily was nothing more than a faint unpleasant memory in the minds of the people I spoke to.] Yeah, I can… actually genuinely see how, instead of having a Scrooge moment, that might cause someone to become destructive?

[Even worse, it seemed that the world had stopped fearing him] I paused at this, because the idea that he is no longer feared came across so well by his saying people barely *remembered* him that this almost seemed irrelevant. If it were mine, I'd perhaps combine the two ideas in the same paragraph: something to the effect of "Not only had the world stopped fearing Dr. Albert Wily, he was nothing more than a faint unpleasant memory in the minds of people I spoke to. According to recent media reports, after a decade locked away and silenced in prison, he'd been released on parole…"

As someone who lived in government housing for five years and know well that it's the pits and attracts… unpleasant people, some of whom have been in prison… I really liked that detail about his accommodation.

I was confused by "little unicorn", but that's almost certainly canon blindness. But I really liked his chagrin about robotics going to hell in the intervening time and robots being as we now understand them: algorithm-based machines.

"Busting my butt" gave me pause when used in the same sentence as "milquetoast" as perhaps a little too extreme an example of code-switching, but you know this character and I don't, so for all I know using both expressions so quickly upon each other is in character :)

[I was surprised to discover that he was expecting me. He'd remembered doing this back when he was me.] Oh, of course! As seen memorably in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: "Hey, it WAS me who stole my dad's keys! Now we have to remember to do this or it won't happen… but it DID happen!"
Ahem. Sorry, got carried away :)

[Anyway, I laid into him for his failures, and he fired back, saying it was my incompetence to blame for the fact that he was now living in such a sorry state.] And neither willing to acknowledge they're the same person :D

[My reaction at hearing about your upcoming expiration dates was, at first, schadenfreude] This expression kind of pulled me out of this world, but of course, you KNOW this world and I don't, so.

[Strange, they sounded almost] Yes, this IS strange, and makes me wonder if it's the setup to an awesome twist :)

One horrifying thing I find about these robots is how easy it apparently is to render them as basically junk, by wiping human elements like memories. Poor Rock his "meek and silent crying" got me in the feels, too :( Wily's "trying to appear dignified" sounds so cruel.

God, if I was Roll I'd be feeling sick at about the point Wily describes binding Rock to the desk. *I* felt sick!

Oh yes, Rock's a 'dunce' for not factoring in time travel (huge eye roll) Wily is awful at this point.

["After all, is there any robot who stands a better chance of destroying Rockman than his own future self? It's a wonderfully devious plan, isn't it?"] It… kind of is? I mean, I don't want to defend Wily too much as he's a monster, but he's an intelligent and entertaining monster who's fun to read about.

[It was only when I experienced this all over again as Future Me that I realized I was wrong - but that's another story.] But it's an intriguing one! I can't wait to hear more about this, because I suspect a long con is going on here between the two Wilys.

[Perhaps it would have been wise] Case in point. I love this kind of 'had I but known' storytelling!

[fastening some neckties together into a makeshift strap] I don't know why, but I really like how specific this detail is.

[Rock seemed to be drifting far away into his own thoughts, where neither the ordeal he was being put through nor my jeers and taunts could touch him] Love this too. Dissociating is such a… human… thing to do.

[We opened your brother's chest panel and made a pin cushion out of him] Jesus. The casual brutality of this is so strong you can almost taste it. Well done :D

[His resignation took the wind out of my sails] and this makes me suspect it was designed to annoy him, and well done to Rock for not giving him the satisfaction!

[I was starting to become doubtful about where Future Me's loyalties truly lay.] Worst timing ever!

[dull and uneventful] This is super petty because your writing is so good it has to be super petty, but if it were mine I'd pick one of these but not both.

["I want to forget that Dr. Light used the second law to stop me from helping Rush run away before his expiration date."] Oooh. Now this… is getting interesting :D

Parts of the ensuing conversation went a little over my head, but that's most assuredly canon-blindness. The dialogue still bounces well and was really enjoyable to read.

["He has quite the chip on his shoulder."] And yet… I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, even though I don't quite know what it'll be.

["Nosy, aren't we?" Future Me said. "What's it to you, anyway?"] Considering they're the same person in different temporal space, this is great. There's quiet foreboding all over it…

[A summary, if you will, rather than a play-by-play] I spent a few minutes trying to work out what I thought about this… on the one hand it feels like a bit of a cheat, but on the other it's such a blatant cheat that in the end I kind of go with it :) I like what you're doing with narratorial framing here.

[our enemies are a large part of what makes us who we are.] Whether this is canon or just you, I really love this a lot.

[I believed] I love these ominous phrases that are holding up so much. They're a real hook to keep reading because I know SOMETHING is going to go down and Wily is about to find out he should've done a LOT of things, but not sure what yet…

[Nor was there any point in trying to decipher his odd behavior, or figure out what his real objective had been or whose side he'd actually been on.] Yyyyyyeah, there's always a point to trying to work out whose side someone is on.

[That's why I told you that you're also going to need to hear my side of the story, and that's what I'm going to share with you now. So calm down, and keep listening.] Yes, I'm still listening! What a great hook. It's so good to be back reading this xx
8/14/2021 c5 GiGitheHedgehog
Neat stuff!
8/1/2021 c3 Edhla
Hi! God, I'm so sorry for disappearing again…

I'm intrigued by that first scene. As someone who's canon blind, I can't get a grasp on Wily's motives - which I think suits the scene well, because nobody else seems to be able to figure him out either ;) I got second-hand frustration that nobody asked Wily exactly HOW he knew the source code for the robots is corruptable! Bugger gets away (here, anyway) with a "trust me, I know". I'd love a good lawyer to cross-examine his butt ;) The exchange between Wily and Light was fascinating - one minute he insists he's only out for himself, the next he's apparently trying to warn Light, which doesn't benefit him much. That final "Uhh… not sure what happened there," exchange brought a nice bit of levity to the scene.

Wily shows a different side to his persona in the next scene, more… well, wily ;) I almost recoiled at the description of his liver spots, lopsided smile, bent back… I bet he smells like menthol too ;) Again, though, he's an interesting combination of self-obsessed and grasping. I don't trust him one bit here. It creates fantastic tension, because I'm not convinced of whether Roll is right here.

[Grit my teeth in anguish] This is stylistic, so YMMV, but it read as slightly odd to me for someone to say of themselves. I am quite possibly overthinking it ;) Same with [those bullying words].

Love the description of Wily's home, and how this also characterises Roll - she loathes the guy, but stops to feel sorry for him… but not for long ;) Her connection with him about destiny was great, too, as well as her annoyance that he was cheerful and whistling while she was thinking about Rock. These are full-blooded characters.
I'm intrigued: What IS in it for Wily if Roll survives?

"This was Rock's shirt, you idiot." LOL! Great easing off of tension there, if only for a little while. That he refuses to take offence is great too.

"A vacuum cleaner that talks back" could be considered a great self-own, really; it implies the person making such a designation talks to the vacuum cleaner that doesn't talk back too, and who does that? ;)

Loved hearing what Wily *really* thought of Furukawa… and that backhanded compliment that she is almost as clever as him (Which, fair enough, I actually forget she's not human…)

[Restore something I've erased?… It's your brother."] OH. OH, THIS IS GREAT. A GREAT PAYOFF TO THIS CONVERSATION, I LOVE IT.

"By my own past self." By this stage I'd be like, I don't care whose fault it is, just fix it, or let me fix it, or something ;) Poor Rock, though!

God, I really feel for Roll here. She's just so vulnerable, sad and defeated. I want to give her a hug, ffs, that's talent on your part :)

"It's in my bathroom." I snorted a cup of coffee through my sinuses, thanks. :)

Oh, the reveal of the time portal is almost cinematic - I genuinely suck at imagining things in my head, which is extra awkward when we're talking about something I've never seen, but I got you well here, it practically had its own score. :)

And that's a great setup for the next chapter - he's got stuff to say, and apparently it's bad, but Roll will be desperate to go after Rock when she hears it. I'm intrigued! Great as always xx
7/16/2021 c2 Edhla
It is so, so good to be back on this fic… sorry it's been such a stupidly long time. Life is (crosses all fingers and toes) stabilising! But do you know, the ending to your first chapter with Duo making contact with Roll really stayed with me? I kept thinking back to it, even when I couldn't get on the site. That's a damn good story. :)

I really like Duo's dialogue in particular. He really does sound like… well, like a robot. A very eloquent robot :) In a lot of fanfiction every character sounds the same as the next, and it's such a breath of fresh air to read stuff from a writer who does character and dialogue this well.

I also really love that Duo didn't just answer Roll's signal; he showed up in person, even though he has no idea what the problem is and it could be anything, really.

[I drew back from the overenthusiastic embrace I'd planted around Duo's left leg.] This was a surprise, as there hasn't been a hint in this chapter that they're still embracing in any way - perhaps a line or two to situate them in real space would help doofuses like me who can't picture stuff ;) Roll also mentions earlier rubbing her temple, so she'd have had to let go of Duo's leg to do this. I really like how specific LEFT leg is :D

[His talk of millions of years and the fates of entire galaxies had left my own problems feeling small in comparison] I love how you portray Duo as this sort of space adventurer and how much Roll idolises him. I have no idea if any of this is canon, but it doesn't have to be, I still love it :D

["But why, Roll? You haven't done something wrong since we last met, have you?"
"No, we haven't. But some other robots caused a lot of trouble."
"What would other robots causing trouble have to do with you?"
"I suppose that, since we're robots too, people are afraid we might also cause trouble someday."]
There's something really *pure* about this dialogue that I just adore. It's almost Enid Blyton-ish in its innocence about "doing something wrong" and "causing trouble". I'm invested in these two characters now.

[I've indeed heard this planet has a problem with generalizing.] ZING.

[My discomfort faded away and was replaced by a great sense of relief, as if I'd just confided a lifetime's worth of pent-up feelings to someone I could trust completely.] This is really lovely :)

Ha! I love how civilised Duo still sounds when he's in a seething rage. I too was confused about who was going to deal out this 'great punishment', so I'm really glad Roll was as well and both intrigued and slightly annoyed that Duo was cagey about it - I imagine it'll come back up later, though, and I am here for it. His protective indignation is really endearing.

[I knew no human in this day and age would take well to being given a talking-to by a giant war-bot from space.] I imagine not! This line made me grin. :)

[suddenly unable to speak.] An idea: since this is from Roll's POV, perhaps a word or two as to why? Does she get a lump in her throat? Not know what to say or how to say it? Sorry, I know these sorts of questions are a bit annoying :)

["You feel like a failure because you haven't been able to to protect your family"] family."

[I raised my head, incensed.] YMMV on this one, but I felt like 'incensed' is a very measured and calm word for someone to use to describe themselves in the first person.
Great conflict here: emotionally, I imagine Roll wants everyone to stay together, but with Dr. Light so poorly and Rock such a liability, it doesn't seem like it can happen anytime soon.

How *did* Duo miss the fact that Rock was missing when he read her thoughts so comprehensively? Might be canon blindness, but I would assume it's occupying a big part of her thoughts right now. I do love Duo's line about Rock's life force shining brightly - beautiful, only to be shattered a line or two later when he reveals that light has gone dark. No! But surely not, right? I'm hoping you have something up your sleeve with this, not because I'm particularly attached to Rock, who I've not really seen before, but because I'm awfully fond of Roll. That "if only" line of Duo's is gut-wrenching. I also like his dithering on the subject of whether Rock is 'dead', as such. I trust you on this one :)

Oh, that line about the jersey hit me straight in the FEELS. A great, concrete image. I love how it propels Roll to interrogate Duo for more details on Rock, rather than just taking for granting his assertion that he is no longer in the world.

[Reality was getting its talons into me.] Fantastic line!

["Rock's really dead? Really?"] I like how realistic this grief is. Of course, the really human (you know what I mean ;)) thing to do in this scenario is total denial, especially because she's been given almost no facts about the scenario.

[And now the event I'd dreaded so much had already come to pass, and when it had happened I hadn't even noticed.] Another line that hit me in the feels, because I've heard so many say this about the deaths of relatives, and I've felt it myself. Of course, she starts blaming herself for not knowing any better. How often does someone wander off without us thinking "Oh, I bet they're dead"? A very relatable thought process. And now with Dr. Light in such a bad way… man, I really feel for Roll here. Her guilt makes so much emotional sense, too.

[And then, while the fate of Messier 81 hung in the balance, he, ancient Duo, wise Duo, sat beside me and patiently accepted the blows of my little fists on his chest, my shrieks of rage, my tears, and my childish demand for a never-ending embrace.] Aww! That might sound condescending, but I don't mean it as such - this paragraph is honestly touching. Love it.

[Like Dr. Light and Rock having to die, while Dr. Wily lives on in freedom and comfort."] Another relatable moment. I don't think this is going to be cool with anyone, anywhere, ever, and yet it happens so much.

Roll's dilemma was really nicely written - I had a feeling she wasn't going to leave Dr. Light, even though I was frustrated and sad when she didn't. I assume she won't expire when she thinks, but then I might have read you wrong! There's a lovely melancholy in this scene that I wish I could emulate: cold stars and nocturnal calm. I was quite shocked that Duo was all like "K, bye" and leaves, but then these characters aren't human, after all.

[blurry suns] Love this, I can just see it!

I'm not a crier when I read, but if I was, the jersey scene would have got me. Such a lovely, tender moment, and again, so relatable. I have a rug my late grandmother crocheted and every now and again I get it out and put it against my face when I miss her.

And here the narrative seems to really find its focus: Roll is going to find out what happened to Rock, and I am totally on board with her.

[Ground zero of a comic book explosion] I love Roll's gentle humour, even when she's grieving.

Oh! OH! That text exchange was great. You could really feel Rock's love in how he didn't even hesitate with his return text, just goes, even though "tough break" has this sort of sadistic glee to it that makes me think the next time any of us see Rock, he'll be in some horrible predicament. I will be quite happy if Roll does, after all, kill the old geezer. Looking forward to watching it all go down!


PS - "By the time I reached Dr. Wily's door, I could see no more stars" - what a fantastic last line. I am jealous.
6/23/2021 c1 Edhla
It's so great to be reading quality fanfic! I'm mostly canon blind, but I've Wiki'd the series so I think I've got the basics of what's going on.

Your opening dialogue made me instantly feel for Roll… I think it's the "please", especially after the request for help. I really love the staccato lines here of "It doesn't. It never has". Poor Roll! I'm intrigued by "Put himself to rest", especially considering that Duo is a robot.

I learned partly from your reviews years ago (no seriously!) that adverbs and adjectives are best in small doses - I'd consider changing the last line to "Maybe I really am alone" or pick either "completely" or "utterly" but not both. However, if this language is in character, feel free to ignore me :p

In the interests of telling you what a non-canon-person thinks is going on, I assume the narrator of the next section is also Roll.

Aaargh the hospital scene hits me in the feels. I particularly like "sweetie" - it's foreboding - and that there could ever be a hospital room without a window is downright sinister… but believable. I'd consider cutting "So of course they'd move him in there" as I think that's implied, but again, I don't know this fandom or this readership. The description of her talking to him about the sparrows and hydrangeas… my feels. Beautifully done, with just enough description to evoke but not too much that it bogs down the progression of the chapter.

I'm intrigued by the absence of Rock, the fact that the nurse mentioned Rock by name, and her non-answers. All nice hooks for this chapter. I also really like the depiction of Ms. Saito… that annoying effort medical staff make to sound superficially interested or sympathetic, when you know you or your loved one is one of about 50 patients that day and they don't relaly care much.

[stared down at her file, and flipped] This might be a stylistic difference, I might be right or I might be 100% wrong, but I'd punctuate this part like this: "She stared down at her file and flipped through the pages, as if trying to look preoccupied by what was in them.''

I'm quite taken by the contrast between Roll holding Dr. Light's hand and addressing him as "Dr. Light".

There's a nice tension, which I assume will bleed into further chapters, about Roll's lies to Dr. Light. It's all very well and good at the time, especially if she's doing it for the sake of his health, but the truth has to come out eventually, right? And yes, lying is a burden.

[It was heavy on my shoulders] Aww, this paragraph hurt in such a lovely way. Considering I'm fandom blind, you've done a bang-up job of making me care about these people (robots. People. You know what I mean ;))

[Rock… if he hadn't vanished…] This is great info-feeding, especially for canon blind people. I'm now intrigued as to what exactly *has* happened to Rock…

[I stared…] YMMV, but I think you could cut a lot of the pronouns out of this section. Even if it's "… face with my hands, painfully aware of…" or "If only I could hold very still, the universe might play along…" You get the idea.

The next section is a great place to feed in the background info of Dr. Light's battle to keep his robots and the lead-up to his stroke… after we already care about him, the robots, and his stroke. Nicely done - not a hint of info-dumping here. And a great internal conflict for Roll, who now feels guilty for… existing, really.

The transition to the flashback of Light catching Rock and Roll "begging Rush to run away" reads slightly awkwardly… I think the transition from the general ("I'm ashamed to admit…" to the highly specific (the snap of his walking cane…"). It's not egregious, and I'm not totally sure how you'd go about fixing it.

[… shame in his eyes] I'm a little confused by Dr. Light in this paragraph. I don't quite understand his shame, especially combined with the almost casual "nodded" and "ambled".

How intriguing that Light commands his robots while calling them "son"! I really liked that part, especially when Rock responds as a machine, "lifeless".

[stubbornly] YMMV, but you could do without thsi word. His stubbornness is already nicely described.

I'm really captivated by the moral lesson Dr. Light is trying to teach Rock here - if nobody wants you, you still have value, you shouldn't have to hang your existence on being useful to others… but at the same time, in Rock and Roll's case, they're robots and have no legal rights.

[for the fact that] I think you could excise this, and it might strengthen the sentence: "We didn't blame him that Rush was about to die" or "We didn't blame him for Rush's death" or something.

[grief, and could] grief and could

[That evening, Rock…] Bloody harrowing paragraph. Well done.

[Visiting hours are closed] Visiting hours are over, perhaps? I like the implication that Ms Wada is stretching them by quite a bit, though…

Fantastic bookend to the chapter, with the re-emergence of Duo. I'll hold off on chapter 3 as requested, but I'm looking forward to eventually reading through! xx
6/18/2021 c4 GiGitheHedgehog
Ooh, this is such an interesting story
4/25/2021 c1 31Nameless Girl of Manderley

I have to admit that I cam completely fandom blind here. I did google, “What is Mega Man about,” to give myself a little 101 course. Lots of pictures of the character in blue came up, LOL.

First off, I really enjoyed the tone of this piece. The style is very clinical, very nostalgic. I was reminded of characters who were exhausted, characters who had been to hell and back, and were trying to pick up the pieces. Within that same style, however, there was a grain of hope. I may not fully understand the backstory of all of these characters, but it’s clear that they are trying to make a better world for themselves and trying to obtain equality, and no matter what fandom or lifestyle you belong to, those are universal truths.

I do wish that you had spent a little more time going into some of the characters back stories. There were a few characters with Ms. In the title, which gives me the impression that they are teachers, or people of authority. There were also a lot of characters with Dr. in the title, again a person of authority or learning, but I’m still not very clear on who they were, or what they were doing in relation to the story itself. I understood that they were helping our MC, but *why* were they helping them.

The story was always evenly balanced with dialogue and descriptions, I didn’t feel like it was too heavy one way or the other. But the style really worked with the story. I mentioned earlier that I liked the tone of the piece, and you really did a nice job at building the momentum of the story. There were a couple of parts in the middle (I think they were flashbacks, but they could have also been dreams, since Roll was asleep at the end…?) where the story started to drag for me.

Lastly, I want to touch a bit on the characters. Are their names really, Rock and Roll? If so, so cute. Duo is also nice. I got the impression that they were all friends, or comrades, not blood relations. I felt like there was some conflict between the characters, but I didn’t see that that was fully explored. This might be my fandom blindness rearing its head, but I wanted more. You did a great job at showing the *now* of the story, with a few glimmers of the *before* but you left me with some of the puzzle pieces, but not all of them.

I really do like your writing style. It’s very precise, finely honed, rich but not in a flowery way. This is the kind of style that I like in my sci-fi/fantasy novels. Take care!
7/27/2020 c1 112Sara K M
Hi, I’m reading this for the Basic Review Game. Completely fandom – blind, but I will do my best.

You’re opening is a great way to establish your main character/POV character, and it’s very suspenseful. (“Duo, come in … Can you hear me? This is Roll, and I need your help … Answer me, please… “)
And the line, (Maybe I really am completely, utterly alone), is quite a good way to show emotion and make the reader “feel” for the character, even if he is only a robot…

There are also many other lines that create sympathy for the character, which I think is important, especially as I said, he is a robot. (… I climbed into the bed next to Dr. Light, wriggled under the tube of his oxygen mask, and nestled myself beside his warm body and the crook of his arm. It was the closest thing to an embrace from my creator I could ever hope for again…. ) (Recently, I overheard Dr. Light’s physician saying that it was the resulting stress from his stubborn fight to keep Rock and me alive which had probably caused his stroke… It wasn’t for my years, but it hurt nonetheless.) (“We’re going to do this by the book,” said Dr. Light, picking up his walking cane. “The law says Rush has got to be decommissioned. You cannot disobey. If you do, what chance will you have? You have no rights.”)

I do think your second scene could use some work, though. (A little blip at the beginning of my hospital visit today… ) I didn’t understand what it had to do with the rest of the story, and I found it rather boring. Try to add some more of those emotional type lines that make me feel for the character. Also, you might smooth the transition between the opening and that scene.

I think you ending is very appropriate and moving, though. Roll spends most of the story worried he’s “completely alone” and he finally meets with Duo at the end. :)
7/22/2020 c1 Guest
This is so amazing

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