We have to find it!
#1
Target: Noibat
MCR: 20K
ACR: 22,100

Some blood, and darker themes. 

“We have to find it!” Giorgio hissed under his breath. A desperate attempt to communicate fell on deaf ears. Behind his ski mask and behind the wind, it was almost impossible to hear anything. The cold so sharp it seemed to create a barrier of noise around him and his comrades.

The wind roared. The wind roared amidst the snow covered peaks of Mount Silver. A lonely place, but the flow of air was a reminder that this place was very much alive. The roar was greater than anything a living creature could omit, rendering a warning to all of those who dared to climb this high up. The peaks were a place not reckoned with. Only the incredibly stupid or incredibly mad would dare to challenge mother earth this high up.

Mount Silver, in the current years had been deeply affected by the climate changes that had wrought across Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and just about any other region that has had an arrogant trainer toy with the a legendary pokemon. The droughts of Groudon melting the ice caps. Kyogre’s rain raising the sea levels. Even Solgaleo and Lunala’s fight with the sun and moon changed the way the planet behaved, as tides shifted and the day to day temperature become slightly warmer. Rayquaza, piercing the atmosphere to defeat Deoxys at first seemed like the most miniscule of legendary encounters… but with the constant use of daily technology, the atmosphere has struggled to hold up. And that was not all, terrible organizations still to this day yearned for control over powerful beings like this.

These actions were a statement: humanity now lives in a tragic state. Yet, they fight day to day to be with the ones they love. Where there is love, there is hope. They live tragically, but not hopelessly. How can one race lose hope, when they see such lovely creatures as Pokemon with smiles still etched upon their faces? Despite Pokemon Trainers vanishing into history, the bonds between humans and Pokemon still remained.

Or at least, it seemed that way. No one dared to question the normalcy of the bonds, but scientists had seemed to find a shift in neural patterns within Pokemon when they interacted with humans. The research was minimal, everytime many folks would vote against funding. With every tragedy surrounding them, they dared not have the one thing they loved touched. Whether it was good or not. Mountain climbing for example, could be seen as a foolish act. Daring to go where no humans could realistically survive for too long. But here Giorgio and his comrades were, at the top of Mount Silver. Amidst the white valleys of lifelessness.

The snow spiralled at at least fifty miles per hour. It could have been faster or slower, but Giorgio did not care to figure it out. All he knew was that this feeling was horrid. The only reason any human, such as himself, would be able to handle such wind was due to the mountains and snow around them acting as cover from the harsh weather. Giorgio cursed under his breath, this was a trial created by dear Arceus himself. There was no other way to put it.

Giorgio trudged forward. Just barely, the spikes on the bottoms of his steel toed boots held on for dear life, or rather, dear existence. They almost seemed to snap and crack with every step the leather now peeking into one of Giorgio's many layers of wool socks. Giorgio grit his teeth. The heavy duty yellow coat he had bought specifically for this journey did nothing to stop the cold from entering his body. With every breath came a shiver. He felt as if his bones were a sculpture of ice. His body was a living refrigerator. Hs shoulders ached with weight on his back. Two towering backpacks wobbled back forth as he marched onwards. The contents of what was inside remained a mystery.

Behind him were two more men. They wore the exact same gear and carried the exact same struggles. Shoes bent and coat useless, they hobbled forward. Snow and ice covered their eyes. They were blind the only thing guiding them we're the indentations of Giorgio's footsteps in the snow. Which even then, were being covered up so fast, it was almost impossible to keep up. They had to pray that their feet fell just a bit past the snow. To know if it fell deeper was easy after all, as the cold snow was as relentless as the wind.

Giorgio stumbled forward and desperately tried to come to a halt. His feet skidding through the ice and snow as he flailed his arms around, attempting to stop himself. He could hear the wind’s howl echoing at his feet. It went deep into the belly of the mountain. Rumbling, shaking the snow and earth around them. Just as he stopped, he found himself in front of the deep hole the whistling came from.

“Ah! Well, hell!” Giorgio waves his arms up and down, beckoning his two comrades to come to him. He wriggled, using all of his might to keep balance and not fall into the depths below.

He felt tumbling behind him, as the two mirrored what he did earlier, just barely able to stop in time before falling into the pit.

“Is this the spot?” One of them shouted to Giorgio.

Giorgio nodded.

Truthfully, Giorgio had no idea what they said to him, but he could only assume. He lurched over, tearing the grappling hook from the side of his backpack and slamming it into the snow. Puffs of white mist shot upwards into his well protected face. Yet, despite this protection, he still winced. He kept pounding the grappling hook into the ground, hoping to get it stuck on something. He wasn’t sure what, but he had to get it in, or they were all screwed. Despite decades of training for an event such as this, he never actually had to use one of these. With the added panic of survival added on, it made it even harder to remember his training.

The two other men sat cross armed, huddled next to one another, waiting patiently for Giorgio to fulfill his duty. They looked around the area. It was hard to really investigate their surroundings through the snow, but they tried to. What else were they supposed to do, help Giorgio?

Finally, Giorgio felt the grappling hook pierce rock, vibrating fiercely in his hands. He gave it a great tug before standing back up. Nodding at his handiwork, he began to unravel the long thread of rope stuffed in one of his backpacks. As he did so, he pointed to the man on the left. Despite knowing them well, it was hard for Giorgio to really tell them apart, as they all dressed the same. The man on the left gave a nod and approached Giorgio and the rope. Hesitantly, Giorgio handed it over to the man. He slapped the man’s shoulder and the man nodded. Giorgio muttered a small prayer.

The man took hold of the rope, now tied around his waist, and began his descent into the pit. Giorgio watched solemnly, his fingers crossed in his jacket pockets. Soon, the man disappeared into the shadows of the cave, nothing but the rope and grapple marking the fact that he still existed.

Giorgio sighed, his chest shaking with every breath. He looked back at the other man and beckoned him with his hand, quickly shoving it back into his pocket. The man now stood at his side, looking around, distracting himself from the horrible question that was on both of their minds: Did he make it?

“Giorgio…” Was all the man could say.

A flicker of light danced from the pit. A fire had been lit. Piercing the white abyss around them, it grew in size, like a blossoming flower. The man jumped for a second looking to Giorgio, his legs shaking giddily. He desperately wanted out of this cold.

Giorgio nodded, slapping the man on the back.

“Yer up!” He yelled out to no one in particular.

The man gripped the rope, and began his descent towards the flame. Giorgio watched, moving back and forth in place, fighting the frozen land around him.  he snow seemed to have gotten more and more fierce, an unstoppable force of nature. It was as if Mount Silver had noticed their presence, and was not happy about it. Snow tumbling at Giorgio, as if trying to grab him and throw him off the mountainside. Giorgio, in panic, tumbled towards the rope desperate to hold on. The wind gave out one last roar before Giorgio grasped the rope for himself. He tumbled down into the pit, letting out a yelp of surprise. For now, they would be safe from the unending cold.


----

The fire crackled, emitting an unholy warmth into the great cave system surrounding the three men. Their backpacks strewn out at the trio’s sides, unkempt and messy. Giorgio sat against his backpack, breathing heavily. Despite the six hours of sleep he had gotten, it felt impossible to truly get enough rest out here. He glanced over at the first to enter the cave.

“Richter.” Giorgio coughed. His graying beard hiding his chapped lips.

Richter fumbled with a piece of wood in his hand, sharpening it to a point with a large bowie knife. His ungloved hands were practically glowing red from the cold. Despite the heat they shared, it still felt like it wasn’t enough.

“You said that you would tell me once we were here, well… why we were here.” Giorgio licked his lips. “And I trust you, since you are my dear friend... But why were we risking our lives to get into this empty cave?”

Richter sighed. His dirty blonde hair pulsating against the fire. The wooden stick in his hand now a perfect point.  Pressing it into the stone below, he proved his craftsmanship as it pierced the soft stone beneath them. With a smirk, Richter looked up to Giorgio. Despite knowing forever, the age on Richter’s face was far younger than Giorgio’s. No signs of gray or no wrinkles.

“A hunt.” Richter let out a breath excitedly, it shook from the cold.

Giorgio, who was placing his gloves back onto his icy hands stumbled for a second, fingers rolling over one another, in a meaningless action. “Hunt?”

Richter balanced the pointed piece of wood in the palm of his hands. “In this cave.. Lies a formidable beast, who once awakens, will wreak havoc upon the Indigo Plateau, west of here.”

“Why there?” Giorgio pressed his hand to his face, desperately trying to warm it. “Why would something attack randomly.”

Richter inhaled sharply. “It’s- It’s not going to be a random attack, friend.”

“They are expanding the Indigo Plateau, giving it residential property.” Richter now scooting closer to the fire, he taps his brother’s leg, who is still fast asleep. “With the insane decline in Pokemon trainers… they have to manage somehow, and leaving a large abandoned place like that is out of the question. We can’t afford to abandon buildings anymore…” Richter trailed off, staring into the fire. “They will be drilling straight into Mount Silver, and sadly, disturbing all of the wildlife.”

“Then why even build there?” Giorgio spat. “Idiots. If they knew anything about Mount Silver, they’d know that there are plenty of places to build to ignore the wildlife.”

Richter looked off into the darkness of the cave, shrugging. “With the rising sea levels, we don’t have much of a choice… Your job is a ranger, right? Then you know that-”

“Yes, yes.” Giorgio waved his hand. “I’ve seen the data. I’ve seen it all first hand.”  

They both fell silent. They both knew what this meant. Another chance for humanity to survive the conditions they have brought upon themselves. Another grim chance. The fire crackled, the weary traveler’s souls found peace in this place. There was finally something louder than the howling snow that danced around the entrance into this cave.

A shuffling across the fire. Richter’s brother finally stirred to life. With a low sleepy moan, he rose slowly. His hair the same color as Richter’s, but much longer and wrapped in a ponytail. His chiseled cheekbones jutting out. He looked around, a yawn exiting his mouth.

“Morning, guys…” He scratched his chest through his coat.

Richter gave a half smile. “Morning, bro.”

“Simon.” Giorgio nodded the sleepy man’s way. Simon nodded back, sleeping hanging onto his eyelids.

Giorgio scratched at his beard. Something about the way these two acted broke his heart. Whatever they were going to do to this poor Pokemon in this cave made him shudder. It wasn’t even an unnatural occurrence. These days, clearing out places like this was a very safe job, and it was one that was constantly needed as humans climbed higher and higher away from the ocean. What made him shudder, was how close to home this problem hit. Watching nature collapse during his job as a ranger was one thing, but now he was witnessing this domino effect hurt two people he had known all of his life. No one could hide from the inevitability of humankind’s actions.

Richter coughed awkwardly to get everyone’s attention. Simon turned, adjusting his clothes so that they fit properly, as they were contorted around his body from sleeping. Giorgio turned solemnly to Richter.

“So. Erm…” Richter scratched his head. Amidst the crackling fire, the blemishes and scars on his face really showed. “Giorgio… we just need you to guide us to the heart of the cave, and then we can, uh… do our job.”

Giorgio looked at Richter in the eyes. He did not nod, nor did he make any motion, but he made sure Richter understood that he understood. Wiping his face, he spoke. “And what do we do after that? I hope you don’t expect us to climb out the way we came in.”

Simon shook his head, but Richter responded. “No. We will be meeting the excavation team a bit further down past the heart, they are creating a tunnel specifically for us.”

Giorgio shook his head. They were working so fast.

Richter launched up to his feet. “Well, we should get going.” His eyes glazed over, he turned over and grabbed his backpack. Simon did the same. It was odd, seeing how much taller Simon was than Richter. Giorgio remembered their days back in school in that moment. How each of them had differing dreams, their bodies opposite of what they are now. Their fates tried so desperately to split apart, yet here they were, working together.

Giorgio stood up, letting out a cough. He couldn’t get the sickly cold out of his lungs no matter how hard he tried. He felt as if sticking the flames down his throat wouldn’t even cure the cold inside of him. Shivering, he threw his backpack on, and began to follow the brothers, slowly taking the lead ahead of them.

“So what is the creature we’ll be… moving?” Giorgio asked, looking back to the duo.

Simon looked off. Richter cleared his throat. “A uh, Noibat.”

Giorgio scoffed. “Just a Noibat?”

“A mercy killi-” Simon began to speak, but a thud echoed through the caves. Giorgio glanced back to see Richter quickly placing his hand back in his pocket.

“The mother was found dead at the foot of the mountain, friend. The insane climate is affecting the Pokemon as well.” Richter bit his lip nervously. Eyes jolting around. “This Noibat is scared and alone, and we have no place to take it.”

“So you’re going to off it, eh?” Giorgio let out a shocked laugh. “I’m assuming that this isn’t your choice, but still.” Giorgio shrugged, adjusting his backpack. “People are stupid.”

“Maybe so, but they are scared.” Richter exhaled.

“So am I.” Giorgio spoke softly. “So am I, comrade.”

In front of them the cave opened up into what seemed like a spiralling hallway. The rocks slowly turning as the cave went onwards. Dew dropped from stalactites, dropping down into small iced over puddles. The browns of the cave were almost soothing to look at, compared to the harsh whites of the mountain above their heads. It was hypnotizing to look at, and a reminder of what beauty was still left in this world. They all fell silent.

They continued onwards, their steps echoing thumps. The cave opened up even more into a large bowl shape. The stalactites acting as the teeth of the passegway, opening up like a dragon’s maw. The bowl was wide and large. The darkness hid the backside of the cave, making it appear as if the whole place was never ending.

Silence had taken a hold of the entire cave. Not even drops of water were heard. The rocks seemed to twitch in the darkness, watching the unwelcome visitors. The trio looked around, all side by side now. Stepping into the dip of stone slowly, they began to shift their pace into a tiptoe.

Richter gave out a sharp whisper. “Look!”

He pointed with his wooden point, readying his knife in the other hand. In the center was a small black figure, curled up around itself. It wriggled in discomfort from the cold stone. Richter bent over, biting his lip. He began to move very slowly, pointed stick raised up. Giorgio’s composure seemed to harden, as he watched in sorrow at how his friend was beginning to strike.

“Bloody hell…” He whispered under his breath.

Richter stopped and turned to Giorgio wide eyed. “What?” He whispered back.

“Why not use the knife?” He hissed. “It is a much cleaner kill.” His heart sank at what he was saying.

Richter rolled his eyes. “Evidence.”

“EVIDENCE?” Giorgio yelled aloud. The whole cave rumbling from his outburst.

“Ah shit.” Simon muttered to himself from behind.

The black figure’s beady eye shot open, revealing a sharp yellow glow. It launched up into the sky, flapping its wings fiercely. It screeched out. Giorgio gave the Pokemon a long hard look. It was missing a part of its foot. It was still a fresher wound. Not brand new, but definitely a recent one. The cut was clean, not torn or sliced.

“Richter, you…” Giorgio didn’t have time to speak. He heard Simon approach from behind, everything going black.

Only for a moment, he lay there, too paralyzed to make a move. His body embracing the cold, and his head throbbing. Pounding consistently. It matched the flapping of the small Noibat’s wings, struggling to stay alive just as he was.

He watched, eyes filled with horror and shock, as his close friend Richter pulled a small gun from his backpack. Simon began to do the same. They both dropped their backpacks to the floor, slumped over. Giorgio slowly rose, his eyes squinting towards the backpack. From here he could barely see it, but it was there. Many soft skins and furs. He slowly crawled towards the backpack, making sure to not be seen by the distracted brothers.

He reached forward, tugging the backpack close to him. He let out a gasp. His very own friends. People he had known forever. What was inside of Richter’s backpack told him all he needed to know, they were poachers.  He let out growl, and struggled to pull his own backpack off. Desperately fumbling within for something, anything, to help him. Nothing, it was all useless junk. For this situation, anyways.

He cursed to himself, looking around in panic. The Noibat was holding its own though, luckily. Simon had been launched across the cave by a soundwave, and Richter was starting to panic. Shooting the thing was supposed to be easy, but not when it was barraging you with attacks.

A glint of light from the corner of Giorgio’s eyes. It was Richter’s knife. He licked his chapped lips and fumbled towards it. He looked up to see that they still had not noticed him.

He charged towards Richter, who was backpedaling away from the Noibat. Raising his arm up as he approached, he let out a yell, notifying Richter of Giorgio’s presence. Before he could react, the knife plunged into his back. Dragging downwards. Richter let out a beastly howl as he fell to the ground, blood seeping out of his wound and soaking his coat. His lifeless eyes looking straight into Giorgio.

Giorgio let out a heavy breath. A gunshot. A stinging, screaming pain. He fell forward, his leg unable to hold him up. He grit his teeth and turned over, staring at Simon, slowly approaching him. He was silent, watching, staring, waiting for Giorgio to do something stupid. So, Giorgio didn’t move. They met eyes, both filled with sorrow.

“This could have been easier, you know that?” He shouted. “You didn’t have to watch us do this, you could have waited at the exit. We would have paid you.”

“PAID ME?” As Giorgio spoke, he felt the cold enter himself again. “I don’t WANT blood money. My job is to protect helpless creatures like this, and hurt predators like you!”

Simon sighed, shaking his head. “Man…” He raised the handgun to Giorgio and stepped forward.

Before anything else could be done, a loud screech echoed through the cave. Simon dropped his gun, letting out a yell of pain. His hands covering his ears, the barrage of noise wasn’t stopping. The Noibat circled Simon. Simon fell to his knees, before his eyes rolled back and he fell to the floor unconscious. The Noibat still circling the unconscious body.

Giorgio let out a small cry. Was it the pain or the heartbreak? It didn’t matter. He crawled to his bag, leaving a trail of blood. Fumbling through his bag once again, he started tossing everything out. A small bit of alcohol would do the trick. He took Richter’s knife and cut open his pant leg, seeping his wound in the burning liquid. He grit his teeth.

Never would he have imagined he’d have to do something like this. He began to clean the wound and bandage it up. The bullet would have to come out later. He grabbed his backpack and used it to hoist himself up.

He glanced over, the Noibat now on the ground, hopping around the unconscious Simon. Giorgio whistled, nodding towards the Pokemon.

“Little comrade.” he spoke in a calm demeanor, the pain coursing through him.

He shook his head as the Noibat tilted its head in his direction. He held his hand out. “It is not safe here for you anymore, little comrade.” He gestured to the backpack, its zipper wide open. The Noibat hopped on its one foot towards Giorgio. The simple act of walking broke Giorgio’s heart.

Everyone was desperate to get by, that he understood. He did not understand though, why these creatures had to suffer for it.

Slowly and cautiously, the Noibat hopped into the bag. It looked at Giorgio with frightened eyes. They both looked around the cave. It was so dark and empty, anyone stuck here would be truly alone. He pat the small Noibat on the head, and zipped up the backpack slightly, letting its eyes peek out.

He gave a weak smile. His job as ranger was done, he just had to find the exit.
"Take Care of Yourself"

[Image: b39fbfee7b09365ea573d45fc9c2cdbe.gif]
  Reply
#2
Claiming this one.
Staff, head grader, judge. My stats (always a work in progress!)
Park: Evan Morphic: Aaren Cassandra
  Reply
#3
Done well:
I love how you described the people, places, and things. Especially the care given to the extreme cold and how no matter what preparations were taken, it still finds its way inside your warm layers. The crampons on their boots were a nice touch too.

How you incorporated the expanded Pokemon world, including references to familiar places like Mount Silver and the Indigo Plateau. Even the viewpoint character being a Ranger was a cool note to hit – though I would recommend introducing him as a current or ex ranger earlier in the story rather than waiting towards the end.

Imagining what it were like if *all* the villainous teams succeeded. Most of us doing the dystopian prompt were picturing the whole world wrecked by just one of them, but you hit a nice balance between regional devastation and the later effects that would have.

Extrapolating what people in your imagined world would do. There was a bit of a jump with Pokemon Trainers vanishing without explanation – were they outlawed? Did the leagues dissolve, or did people just stop becoming trainers? Especially since the bonds between people and Pokemon are explicitly noted to still be present. Accepting the conceit as offered though, people still wanted to protect Pokemon, and went about finding ways to thrive without relying so much on their assistance.

Room for improvement:
I mentioned this in a prior grade, but you have a fair number of sentence fragments scattered throughout the story. In each of these examples, you are missing some variant of ‘to be’ – was, to be, and was again.
Quote:The cold so sharp it seemed to create a barrier of noise around him and his comrades.
The peaks were a place not reckoned with.
His hair the same color as Richter’s, but much longer and wrapped in a ponytail.
Try using a word processor like MS Word or OpenOffice – the green underlines will alert you to fragments that could use revising or that disrupt the natural flow of your story.

Remember also to keep track of action sequences – you have one jump here where he went from crawling on the floor to charging across the cavern, with no mention of picking up the knife or rising from the floor:
Quote:A glint of light from the corner of Giorgio’s eyes. It was Richter’s knife. He licked his chapped lips and fumbled towards it. He looked up to see that they still had not noticed him.
He charged towards Richter, who was backpedaling away from the Noibat. Raising his arm up as he approached, he let out a yell, notifying Richter of Giorgio’s presence. Before he could react, the knife plunged into his back. Dragging downwards.


In a couple places your description and adjectives got a little too intense. For instance the fire at the pit’s bottom was described as an ‘unholy’ warmth – from context it sounds like it’s still barely enough to ward off the cold, but unholy doesn’t have any specific meaning towards temperature. Similarly, the whole cave is described as rumbling from his exclamation of ‘evidence’ rather than just echoes. Using evocative words is great, but if you stretch them too far the effect turns from engaging to jarring.

Severe physical pain is sort of handwaved. The description of Simon coming up behind Giorgio, then a fade to black, and then suddenly he’s mostly unconscious on the floor – was he struck in the head? Think about the last time you banged your head on a cabinet, trunk latch, etc. Really describe that agony he’s feeling, especially if the strike was enough to knock him flat.

Similarly, being shot in the leg is disabling. You give it a ‘stinging, screaming pain’ descriptor (which conflicts with itself in intensity of adjectives) – I know it’s not exactly a pleasant subject to research, but some digging into what gunshot wounds actually do would help when you include them. We don’t need to read about wound channels or have the exit wound described to us in detail, but it seems unlikely he would be able to simply cut away his own pant leg, splash alcohol on it, and bind it without the pain knocking him unconscious partway through – especially if the bullet is still in his leg, scraping against the bone with every movement.

Verdict:
Noibat not quite captured. It's very close though - if you take care of some of those fragments and tweak some of your description, you'll be there.
Staff, head grader, judge. My stats (always a work in progress!)
Park: Evan Morphic: Aaren Cassandra
  Reply
#4
FIXED??

24,749 Characters

I completely understood the fragmentation, i hope its a noticeable difference... I struggle to find them, but if pointed out to me, are obvious.

So if it needs more fixing in that regards I'm more than happy to fix it.

---

w“We have to find it!” Giorgio hissed under his breath. A desperate attempt to communicate with his company fell on deaf ears. The howling wind cared not for his words. His Giorgio’s ski mask pressed against his face like a gag, making speaking much harder than it should have been. It was impossible to hear anything but the mountain’s roar. The cold stabbed at the air. Its icy touch colliding with all sounds like a barrier. And as if it was more than air, it acted as a barrier for the travellers.

The wind churned, snow spiralling around them. Mount Silver’s deep roar travelled for miles. It was always a lonely place, but as the air soared about. The group was reminded that this place was very much full of life. The mountain’s roar was greater than anything a living creature could omit, rendering a warning to all of those who dared to climb this high up. It did not desire to be trespassed, but it did not desire to harm those who did. The mountain’s desire was equilibrium. Something humanity arrogantly disturbed. The peaks were a place not reckoned with. Only the incredibly stupid or the incredibly mad would dare to challenge mother earth this high up.

Mount Silver, in the current years had been deeply affected by the climate changes that had wrought across Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and just about any other region that has had an arrogant trainer toy with the legendary pokemon. The droughts of Groudon melting the ice caps. Kyogre’s rain raising the sea levels. Even Solgaleo and Lunala’s fight with the sun and moon changed the way the planet behaved. The tides humans were used to shifted and the day to day temperature become slightly warmer. Rayquaza, piercing the atmosphere to defeat Deoxys at first seemed like the most miniscule of legendary encounters… but with the constant use of daily technology, the atmosphere has struggled to recover from the wear and tear. And that was not all, terrible organizations still to this day yearned for control over powerful beings like this.

These actions were a statement: humanity now lives in a tragic state. Yet, they fight day to day to be with the ones they love. Where there is love, there is hope. They live tragically, but not hopelessly. How can one race lose hope, when they see such lovely creatures as Pokemon with smiles still etched upon their faces? Despite Pokemon Trainers vanishing into history, the bonds between humans and Pokemon still remained.

Or at least, it seemed that way. No one dared to question the normalcy of the bonds, but scientists had seemed to find a shift in neural patterns within Pokemon when they interacted with humans. The research was minimal, every time they were close to any breakthrough, many folks would vote against funding. With every tragedy surrounding them, they dared not have the one thing they loved touched. Thinking about risking something so dear to them, was out of the question for most. Even if it was a path to a better future.

And as foolish as these people were, they stuck to the safety of their homes.While others risked their lives, not for some great change in their soul, but to yell loudly that they were in control of their lives. Mountain climbing for example could be seen as one of these foolish acts. Daring to go where no humans could realistically survive. But here Giorgio and his comrades were, at the top of Mount Silver. Amidst the white valleys of isolation.

The snow spiralled, going at least fifty miles per hour. It could have been faster or slower, but Giorgio did not care to figure it out. All he knew was that this feeling was horrid. The only reason any human, such as himself, would be able to handle such wind was due to the mountains and snow around them acting as cover from the harsh weather. Giorgio cursed under his breath, this was a trial created by dear Arceus himself. There was no other way to put it.

Giorgio trudged forward. Just barely, the spikes on the bottoms of his steel toed boots held on for dear life, or rather, dear existence. They almost seemed to snap and crack with every step the leather now peeking into one of Giorgio's many layers of wool socks. Giorgio grit his teeth. The heavy duty yellow coat he had bought specifically for this journey did nothing to stop the cold from entering his body. With every breath came a shiver. He felt as if his bones were a sculpture of ice. His body was a living refrigerator. Hs shoulders ached with weight on his back. Two towering backpacks wobbled back and forth as he marched onwards. The contents of what was inside remained a mystery.

Behind him were two more men. They wore the exact same gear and carried the exact same struggles. Shoes bent and coat useless, they hobbled forward. Snow and ice covered their eyes. They were blind the only thing guiding them we're the indentations of Giorgio's footsteps in the snow. Which even then, were being covered up so fast, it was almost impossible to keep up. They had to pray that their feet fell just a bit past the snow. To know if it fell deeper was easy after all, as the cold snow was as relentless as the wind.

Giorgio stumbled forward and desperately tried to come to a halt. His feet skidding through the ice and snow as he flailed his arms around, attempting to stop himself. He could hear the wind’s howl echoing at his feet. It went deep into the belly of the mountain. Rumbling, shaking the snow and earth around them. Just as he stopped, he found himself in front of the deep hole the whistling came from.

“Ah! Well, hell!” Giorgio waves his arms up and down, beckoning his two comrades to come to him. He wriggled, using all of his might to keep balance and not fall into the depths below.

He felt tumbling behind him, as the two mirrored what he did earlier, just barely able to stop in time before falling into the pit.

“Is this the spot?” One of them shouted to Giorgio.

Giorgio nodded.

Truthfully, Giorgio had no idea what they said to him, but he could only assume. He lurched over, tearing the grappling hook from the side of his backpack and slamming it into the snow. Puffs of white mist shot upwards into his well protected face. Yet, despite this protection, he still winced. He kept pounding the grappling hook into the ground, hoping to get it stuck on something. He wasn’t sure what, but he had to get it in, or they were all screwed. Despite decades of training for an event such as this, he never actually had to use one of these. With the added panic of survival added on, it made it even harder to remember his training.

The two other men sat cross armed, huddled next to one another, waiting patiently for Giorgio to fulfill his duty. They looked around the area. It was hard to really investigate their surroundings through the snow, but they tried to. What else were they supposed to do, help Giorgio?

Finally, Giorgio felt the grappling hook pierce rock, vibrating fiercely in his hands. He gave it a great tug before standing back up. Nodding at his handiwork, he began to unravel the long thread of rope stuffed in one of his backpacks. As he did so, he pointed to the man on the left. Despite knowing them well, it was hard for Giorgio to really tell them apart, as they all dressed the same. The man on the left gave a nod and approached Giorgio and the rope. Hesitantly, Giorgio handed it over to the man. He slapped the man’s shoulder and the man nodded. Giorgio muttered a small prayer.

The man took hold of the rope, now tied around his waist, and began his descent into the pit. Giorgio watched solemnly, his fingers crossed in his jacket pockets. Soon, the man disappeared into the shadows of the cave, nothing but the rope and grapple marking the fact that he still existed.

Giorgio sighed, his chest shaking with every breath. He looked back at the other man and beckoned him with his hand, quickly shoving it back into his pocket. The man now stood at his side, looking around, distracting himself from the horrible question that was on both of their minds: Did he make it?

“Giorgio…” Was all the man could say.

A flicker of light danced from the pit. A fire had been lit. Piercing the white abyss around them, it grew in size, like a blossoming flower. The man jumped for a second looking to Giorgio, his legs shaking giddily. He desperately wanted out of this cold.

Giorgio nodded, slapping the man on the back.

“Yer up!” He yelled out to no one in particular.

The man gripped the rope, and began his descent towards the flame. Giorgio watched, moving back and forth in place, fighting the frozen land around him. he snow seemed to have gotten more and more fierce, an unstoppable force of nature. It was as if Mount Silver had noticed their presence, and was not happy about it. Snow tumbling at Giorgio, as if trying to grab him and throw him off the mountainside. Giorgio, in panic, tumbled towards the rope desperate to hold on. The wind gave out one last roar before Giorgio grasped the rope for himself. He tumbled down into the pit, letting out a yelp of surprise. For now, they would be safe from the unending cold.


----

The fire crackled, emitting an off-putting warmth into the great cave system surrounding the three men. A single light within miles of darkness, kept them conscious of one another, a single reminder that they believed they were safe. Their backpacks strewn out at the trio’s sides, unkempt and messy. Giorgio sat against his backpack, breathing heavily. Despite the six hours of sleep he had gotten, it felt impossible to truly get enough rest out here. He glanced over at the first to enter the cave.

“Richter.” Giorgio coughed. His graying beard hiding his chapped lips.

Richter fumbled with a piece of wood in his hand, sharpening it to a point with a large bowie knife. His ungloved hands were practically glowing red from the cold. Despite the heat they shared, it still felt like it wasn’t enough.

“You said that you would tell me once we were here, well… why we were here.” Giorgio licked his lips. “And I trust you, since you are my dear friend... But why were we risking our lives to get into this empty cave?”

Richter sighed. His dirty blonde hair pulsating against the fire. The wooden stick in his hand now a perfect point. Pressing it into the stone below, he proved his craftsmanship as it pierced the soft stone beneath them. With a smirk, Richter looked up to Giorgio. Despite knowing forever, the age on Richter’s face was far younger than Giorgio’s. No signs of gray or no wrinkles.

“A hunt.” Richter let out a breath excitedly, it shook from the cold.

Giorgio, who was placing his gloves back onto his icy hands stumbled for a second, fingers rolling over one another, in a meaningless action. “Hunt?”

Richter balanced the pointed piece of wood in the palm of his hands. “In this cave.. Lies a formidable beast, who once awakens, will wreak havoc upon the Indigo Plateau, west of here.”

“Why there?” Giorgio pressed his hand to his face, desperately trying to warm it. “Why would something attack randomly.”

Richter inhaled sharply. “It’s- It’s not going to be a random attack, friend.”

“They are expanding the Indigo Plateau, giving it residential property.” Richter now scooting closer to the fire, he taps his brother’s leg, who is still fast asleep. “With the insane decline in Pokemon trainers… they have to manage somehow, and leaving a large abandoned place like that is out of the question. We can’t afford to abandon buildings anymore…” Richter trailed off, staring into the fire. “They will be drilling straight into Mount Silver, and sadly, disturbing all of the wildlife.”

“Then why even build there?” Giorgio spat. “Idiots. If they knew anything about Mount Silver, they’d know that there are plenty of places to build to ignore the wildlife.”

Richter looked off into the darkness of the cave, shrugging. “With the rising sea levels, we don’t have much of a choice… Your job is a ranger, right? Then you know that-”

“Yes, yes.” Giorgio waved his hand. “I’ve seen the data. I’ve seen it all first hand.”

They both fell silent. They both knew what this meant. Another chance for humanity to survive the conditions they have brought upon themselves. Another grim chance. The fire crackled, the weary traveler’s souls found peace in this place. There was finally something louder than the howling snow that danced around the entrance into this cave.

Drowning out the crackling of the fire, Richter’s brother finally stirred to life. With a low sleepy moan, he rose slowly. Just like Richter’s his hair was dirty blonde, but unlike his brother, it was far longer, trapped into a ponytail. With his hair tied back, it highlighted his chiseled cheekbones. His face as thin as the ice at their feet. He looked around, yawning.

“Morning, guys…” He scratched his chest through his coat.

Richter gave a half smile. “Morning, bro.”

“Simon.” Giorgio nodded the sleepy man’s way. Simon nodded back, sleeping hanging onto his eyelids.

Giorgio scratched at his beard. Something about the way these two acted broke his heart. Whatever they were going to do to this poor Pokemon in this cave made him shudder. It wasn’t even an unnatural occurrence. These days, clearing out places like this was a very safe job, and it was one that was constantly needed as humans climbed higher and higher away from the ocean. What made him shudder, was how close to home this problem hit. Watching nature collapse during his job as a ranger was one thing, but now he was witnessing this domino effect hurt two people he had known all of his life. No one could hide from the inevitability of humankind’s actions.

Richter coughed awkwardly to get everyone’s attention. Simon turned, adjusting his clothes so that they fit properly, as they were contorted around his body from sleeping. Giorgio turned solemnly to Richter.

“So. Erm…” Richter scratched his head. Amidst the crackling fire, blemishes and scars on his face glowed an intense blood orange. “Giorgio… we just need you to guide us to the heart of the cave, and then we can, uh… do our job.”

Giorgio looked at Richter in the eyes. He did not nod, nor did he make any motion, but he made sure Richter understood that he understood. Wiping his face, he spoke. “And what do we do after that? I hope you don’t expect us to climb out the way we came in.”

Simon shook his head, but Richter responded. “No. We will be meeting the excavation team a bit further down past the heart, they are creating a tunnel specifically for us.”

Giorgio shook his head. They were working so fast.

Richter launched up to his feet. “Well, we should get going.” His eyes glazed over, he turned over and grabbed his backpack. Simon did the same. It was odd, seeing how much taller Simon was than Richter. Giorgio remembered their days back in school in that moment. How each of them had differing dreams, their bodies opposite of what they are now. Their fates tried so desperately to split apart, yet here they were, working together.

Giorgio stood up, letting out a cough. He couldn’t get the sickly cold out of his lungs no matter how hard he tried. He felt as if sticking the flames down his throat wouldn’t even cure the cold inside of him. Shivering, he threw his backpack on, and began to follow the brothers, slowly taking the lead ahead of them.

“So what is the creature we’ll be… moving?” Giorgio asked, looking back to the duo.

Simon looked off. Richter cleared his throat. “A uh, Noibat.”

Giorgio scoffed. “Just a Noibat?”

“A mercy killing-” Simon began to speak, but a thud echoed through the caves. Giorgio glanced back to see Richter quickly placing his hand back in his pocket.

“The mother was found dead at the foot of the mountain, friend. The insane climate is affecting the Pokemon as well.” Richter bit his lip nervously. Eyes jolting around. “This Noibat is scared and alone, and we have no place to take it.”

“So you’re going to off it, eh?” Giorgio let out a shocked laugh. “I’m assuming that this isn’t your choice, but still.” Giorgio shrugged, adjusting his backpack. “People are stupid.”

“Maybe so, but they are scared.” Richter exhaled.

“So am I.” Giorgio spoke softly. “So am I, comrade.”

In front of them the cave opened up into what seemed like a spiralling hallway. The rocks slowly turning as the cave went onwards. Dew dropped from stalactites, dropping down into small iced over puddles. The browns of the cave were almost soothing to look at, compared to the harsh whites of the mountain above their heads. It was hypnotizing to look at, and a reminder of what beauty was still left in this world. They all fell silent.

They continued onwards, their steps echoing thumps. The cave opened up even more into a large bowl shape. The stalactites acting as the teeth of the passegway, opening up like a dragon’s maw. The bowl was wide and large. The darkness hid the backside of the cave, making it appear as if the whole place was never ending.

Silence had taken a hold of the entire cave. Not even drops of water were heard. The rocks seemed to twitch in the darkness, watching the unwelcome visitors. The trio looked around, all side by side now. Stepping into the dip of stone slowly, they began to shift their pace into a tiptoe.

Richter gave out a sharp whisper. “Look!”

He pointed with his wooden point, readying his knife in the other hand. In the center was a small black figure, curled up around itself. It wriggled in discomfort from the cold stone. Richter bent over, biting his lip. He began to move very slowly, pointed stick raised up. Giorgio’s composure seemed to harden, as he watched in sorrow at how his friend was beginning to strike.

“Bloody hell…” He whispered under his breath.

Richter stopped and turned to Giorgio wide eyed. “What?” He whispered back.

“Why not use the knife?” He hissed. “It is a much cleaner kill.” His heart sank at what he was saying.

Richter rolled his eyes. “Evidence.”

“EVIDENCE?” Giorgio yelled aloud. The whole cave rumbling from his outburst.

“Ah shit.” Simon muttered to himself from behind.

The black figure’s beady eye shot open, revealing a sharp yellow glow. It launched up into the sky, flapping its wings fiercely. It screeched out. Giorgio gave the Pokemon a long hard look. It was missing a part of its foot. It was still a fresh wound. Not brand new, but definitely a recent one. The cut was clean, not torn or sliced.

“Richter, you…” Giorgio didn’t have time to speak. He heard Simon approach swiftly from behind. A loud crack echoed inside of him. Everything jumped to black and white splotches stained his vision. With the room spinning, he turned on his heels and fell to the floor gasping for breath.

With labored breathing, he dared not to move. He moved his eyes, trying to find the duo who were just out of his sight. His body tried accepting the cold, his head throbbing too intensely to reject its presence. His heart was pounding, echoing through his shocked body. And sitting there with grit teeth, he focused on the flapping of the small Noibat’s wings. And soon enough the rhythm of his heart and the rhythm of the wings synchronized.

He watched, eyes filled with horror and shock, as his close friend Richter pulled a small handgun from his backpack. Simon began to do the same. They both dropped their backpacks to the floor. Giorgio slowly tried to lift his body, his eyes squinting towards the backpack. From here he could barely see it, but it was there. Many soft skins and furs. He slowly crawled towards the backpack, making sure to not be seen by the distracted brothers.

He reached forward, tugging the backpack close to him. He let out a gasp. His very own friends had hidden their betrayal from him. They were people he had known forever. What was inside of Richter’s backpack told him all he needed to know, they were poachers. Giorgio let out growl, as struggled to pull his own backpack off. Desperately fumbling within for something, anything, to help him. Nothing, it was all useless junk. For this situation, anyways.

He cursed to himself, looking around in panic. The Noibat was holding its own though, luckily. Simon had been launched across the cave by the intense noise of the Pokemon’s screech. Richter, watching his brother getting hurt, was starting to panic. Shooting the feeble thing was supposed to be easy, but not when it was barraging you with attacks.

A glint of light flickered in Giorgio’s peripheral vision. Sitting soaked in cold water, shimmering against the flicker of dropped lights was Richter’s knife. He licked his chapped lips and forced himself off of his feet. He glanced over to see that they still had not noticed him. With slow subtle tiptoes that barely crunched against the rock, he made his way to the knife. With it in his grasp, he stood tall.

Giorgio launched himself towards Richter, who was backpedaling away from the Noibat. Raising his arm up as he approached, he let out a yell, notifying Richter of Giorgio’s presence. With wide panicked eyes Richter threw his hands in the direction of Giorgio. Tumbling against the earth again, they punched and kicked at one another. Richter launched his fist into Giorgio’s jaw. Giorgio grunted out in pain and reeled the knife back. As Richter went for another swing, the knife plunged into his chest Dragging downwards. Richter let out a beastly howl as he fell to the ground, blood seeping out of his wound and soaking his coat. His lifeless eyes looking straight past Giorgio.

Giorgio let out a heavy breath. A gunshot. A stinging, screaming pain. He fell forward, his weakened leg unable to hold him up through the pain. He grit his teeth and turned over, staring at Simon, slowly approaching him. He was silent, watching, staring, waiting for Giorgio to do something stupid. So, Giorgio didn’t move. They met eyes, both filled with sorrow.

“This could have been easier, you know that?” He shouted. “You didn’t have to watch us do this, you could have waited at the exit. We would have paid you.”

“PAID ME?” As Giorgio spoke, he felt the cold enter himself again. “I don’t WANT blood money. My job is to protect helpless creatures like this, and hurt predators like you!”

Simon sighed, shaking his head. “Man…” He raised the handgun to Giorgio and stepped forward.

Before anything else could be done, a loud screech echoed through the cave. Simon dropped his gun, letting out a yell of pain. His hands covering his ears, the barrage of noise wasn’t stopping. The Noibat circled Simon. Simon fell to his knees, before his eyes rolled back and he fell to the floor unconscious. The Noibat still circling the unconscious body.


Giorgio let out a small cry. Was it the pain or the heartbreak? It didn’t matter. He crawled to his bag, leaving a trail of blood. Fumbling through his bag once again, he started tossing everything out. A small bit of alcohol would do the trick. He took Richter’s knife and cut open his pant leg, seeping his wound in the burning liquid. He grit his teeth.

As the cold knife pressed into his skin he cried out. The knife pressed against the bullet, forcing it deeper. Behind tears, he recoiled, knife flying across the room. It was no use. No use at all. The pain stayed. His leg too weak to even move. The muscle had given up.

He glanced over, the Noibat now on the ground, hopping around the unconscious Simon. Curiously, it poked at the threat. Giorgio’s heart sank. With somber eyes, he glanced at his weakened leg again. His leg was useless for now, but the rest of him was not. With every fiber of his body fighting back the pain, he stood. All of his weight on his strong leg. He sighed, this was not going to be easy. Giorgio whistled, nodding towards the Pokemon.

“Little comrade.” he spoke in a calm demeanor, his voice’s tone tensing as pain shot through his leg.

Giorgio nodded his head as the Noibat tilted its head in his direction. He held his hand out. “It is not safe here for you anymore,” He licked his lips “Little comrade, we must go.” He gestured to the backpack, its zipper wide open. The Noibat hopped on its one foot towards Giorgio. The simple act of the Pokemon walking broke Giorgio’s heart.

Everyone was desperate to get by. He understood that. He chose this life to forget about the horrifying reality of life down below. He did not understand though, why these creatures had to suffer for it.

Slowly and cautiously, the Noibat hopped into the bag. It looked at Giorgio with frightened eyes. They both looked around the cave. It was dark and empty, anyone stuck here would be truly alone. Glancing at his old friend’s one last time, he hobbled forward. He gave the small Noibat a pat on the head, and zipped up the backpack slightly, letting its eyes peek out.

He gave a weak smile. His job as a ranger was done. Now, he had to take his friend home.
"Take Care of Yourself"

[Image: b39fbfee7b09365ea573d45fc9c2cdbe.gif]
  Reply
#5
I think the first grade suffered a bit from the concise format – some of these I should have included in it, some got more noticeable with the rewrite.

I highly recommend you use a program with spell check; in the rewrite there were quite a few instances of periods with no following space, interchanging of things like we’re and were, or extra letters stuck to a word (including at the very start). Make sure to give it a thorough proofread when shooting for a target at higher ranks.

Watch for echoes, where you reuse the same word multiple times within a sentence or two. Repeat use like this breaks the immersion and can throw a reader out of the story.
Quote:The cold stabbed at the air. Its icy touch colliding with all sounds like a barrier. And as if it was more than air, it acted as a barrier for the travellers.
Quote:It did not desire to be trespassed, but it did not desire to harm those who did. The mountain’s desire was equilibrium.
Quote:And as foolish as these people were, they stuck to the safety of their homes.While others risked their lives, not for some great change in their soul, but to yell loudly that they were in control of their lives. Mountain climbing for example could be seen as one of these foolish acts.
There’s the standby of synonyms but sometimes you may just want to rewrite a sentence to trim the extra words.
Quote:It seemed indifferent to trespassers, neither protecting them nor assaulting them unduly with blizzards and avalanches. If it wished for anything at all, it was to continue existing as it always had.

You still have a handful of fragments scattered through – the green lines in spell check often point towards these.
Quote:His dirty blonde hair pulsating against the fire. The wooden stick in his hand now a perfect point.
Quote:His face as thin as the ice at their feet.
Quote:The whole cave rumbling from his outburst.
Quote:His leg too weak to even move.
Quote:The Noibat still circling the unconscious body.

Make sure also that in your evocative descriptions, you don’t hide what’s actually happening. For instance when they first discover the hole while trudging in the whiteout, it’s hard to tell:
Quote:Giorgio stumbled forward and desperately tried to come to a halt. His feet skidding through the ice and snow as he flailed his arms around, attempting to stop himself. He could hear the wind’s howl echoing at his feet. It went deep into the belly of the mountain. Rumbling, shaking the snow and earth around them. Just as he stopped, he found himself in front of the deep hole the whistling came from.
There’s nothing to say it’s a hole or crevasse until the end, and it takes a couple sentences to realize you’re describing more than just a normal tumble into the snow.
(Side note on the fragments, both ‘his feet’ and ‘rumbling’ are incomplete; you may want to change the first to ‘skidded’ and incorporate the shaking world into the sentence before it, giving a tangible aspect to the howling wind)


Finally, there’s a few bits unexplained that seem contradictory:
If human progress is collapsing with the apocalyptic changes to the world, why are they building major new housing developments? You mention that they ‘can’t afford to abandon any more houses’ but the kind of ecological devastation you imply would likely cause widespread crop failures with a second order effect of starvation and die-offs.
Why are these poachers willing to brave the dangerous mountainside trek, if a tunnel is being dug for their exit? Why not simply wait for the tunnel to be dug, and be at the fore when it connects to these tunnels to attack the creature?
What is so valuable about a single Noibat pelt that is worth risking both their lives for? Corollary to that, why would they rather use the sharpened stick than the knife? It’s said for the sake of ‘evidence’ but not explained evidence of what.
Speaking of the stick – where did they get both it, and the wood for the fire at the base of the hole? The mountain you describe wouldn’t have much vegetation that far up, and it seems odd that they’d haul it with them rather than bring some kind of fueled stove or heater. Open fires are only good for warming enclosed spaces, and if they’re at the base of that hole all the heat’s going to trickle away upwards.


In summary, the story still needs some work on readability and flow to get to hard rank. Spend some more time on spell checking and proofreading; go with the old standby of reading it aloud to yourself, too.  Noibat not quite captured.
Staff, head grader, judge. My stats (always a work in progress!)
Park: Evan Morphic: Aaren Cassandra
  Reply
#6
“We have to find it!” Giorgio hissed under his breath. A desperate attempt to communicate with his company fell on deaf ears. The howling wind cared not for his words. Giorgio’s ski mask pressed against his face like a gag, making speaking much harder than it should have been. It was impossible to hear anything but the mountain’s roar as the cold stabbed at the air. Its icy touch collided mercilessly, bringing pain to the group trudging onward. The cold air pushed back on the travelers, trying as hard as it could to deny them entry any further into the mountain.
  
The wind churned, snow swirling around them. Mount Silver’s deep roar traveled for miles. It was always a lonely place, but as the air soared about the group was reminded that this place was very much full of life. The mountain’s roar was greater than anything a living creature could omit, rendering a warning to all of those who dared to climb this high up. The mountain simply lived its life away from the people, not fearing trespassers, but certainly not welcoming them. The mountain’s desire was to be alone from all things. Something humanity arrogantly ignored. The peaks were a place not reckoned with-- only the incredibly stupid or the incredibly mad would dare to challenge mother earth this high up. And thus, the mountain did what it could to stop anyone who dared to make the journey upon them.   
  
In the current years, Mount Silver had been deeply affected by the climate changes that had wrought their way across Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and just about any other region where an arrogant trainer dared to toy with the legendary Pokemon. The droughts of Groudon melted the ice caps. Kyogre’s rain raised the sea levels. Even Solgaleo and Lunala’s fight with the sun and moon changed the way the planet behaved. The tides humans were used to shifted and the day to day temperature became slightly warmer. Rayquaza, piercing the atmosphere to defeat Deoxys, at first seemed like the most minuscule of legendary encounters… but with the constant use of daily technology, the atmosphere has struggled to recover from the wear and tear. That was not all-- to this day, terrible organizations still yearned for control over powerful beings like this.  
  
These actions were a statement: humanity now lives in a tragic state. Yet, they fight day to day to be with the ones they love. Where there is love, there is hope. They live tragically, but not hopelessly. How can one race lose hope, when they see such lovely creatures as Pokemon with smiles still etched upon their faces? Despite Pokemon Trainers vanishing into history, the bonds between humans and Pokemon still remained.   
  
Or at least, it seemed that way. No one dared to question the normalcy of the bonds, but scientists had seemed to find a shift in neural patterns within Pokemon when they interacted with humans. The research was minimal, every time they were close to any breakthrough, many folks would vote against funding. With every tragedy surrounding them, they dared not have the one thing they loved touched. Thinking about risking something so dear to them, was out of the question for most. Even if it was a path to a better future.   
  
And as foolish as these people were, they stuck to the safety of their homes. On the other hand, others risked their lives-- not for some great change in their soul, but to yell loudly that they were in control of their lives. Mountain climbing for example could be seen as one of these foolish acts. Daring to go where no humans could realistically survive. But here Giorgio and his comrades were, at the top of Mount Silver. Amidst the white valleys of isolation.   
  
The snow launched past them, going far faster than any car on a highway. It could have been faster or even slower, but Giorgio did not care to figure it out at a time like this. His idle thoughts would have to wait. For now, he focused on the one thing he knew: that this feeling was horrid. The only reason any human, such as himself, would be able to handle such wind was due to the protection of mountains and snow around them acting as cover from the harsh weather. Giorgio cursed under his breath; this was a trial created by dear Arceus himself. There was no other way to put it.   
  
Giorgio trudged forward. The spikes on the bottoms of his steel toed boots held on for dear life, or rather, dear existence. They almost seemed to snap and crack with every step the leather now peeking into one of Giorgio's many layers of wool socks. Giorgio grit his teeth. The heavy-duty yellow coat he had bought specifically for this journey did nothing to stop the cold from entering his body. With every breath came a shiver. He felt as if his bones were a sculpture of ice, his body a living refrigerator. Hs shoulders ached with weight on his back. Two towering backpacks wobbled back and forth as he marched onward. The contents of what was inside remained a mystery.  
  
Behind him were two more men. They wore the exact same gear and carried the exact same struggles. Shoes bent and coat useless, they hobbled forward. Snow and ice covered their eyes. They were blind the only thing guiding them we're the indentations of Giorgio's footsteps in the snow. Which, even then, were being covered up so fast, it was almost impossible to keep up. They had to pray that their feet fell just a bit past the snow. To know if it fell deeper was easy after all, as the cold snow was as relentless as the wind.  
  
Giorgio stumbled forward and desperately tried to force himself to a halt. The snow was sloping inwards into what seemed to be a large hole. And as snow passed him, it soared into the hole, whistling. This confirmed what he thought it was: a way in. His feet skidded through the ice and snow as he flailed his arms around, attempting to stop himself from launching in. With flailing arms, the mountain shook, the snow sliding downwards with him.   
  
As Giorgio continued to fight nature, attempting to stop himself, the mountain only pushed further. The slope of the snow grew steeper and steeper,  deep into the belly of the mountain. Just as he stopped, he found himself in front of the deep hole that the whistling sang from.   
  
“Ah! Well, hell!” Giorgio waves his arms up and down, beckoning his two comrades to come to him. He wriggled, using all of his might to keep balance and not fall into the depths below.   
  
Giorgio could hear the tumbling of feet come from behind him, as the two mirrored what he did earlier, just barely able to stop in time before falling into the pit.   
  
“Is this the spot?” One of them shouted to Giorgio.  
  
Giorgio nodded. Truthfully, Giorgio had no idea what they said to him, but he could only assume. He lurched over, tearing the grappling hook from the side of his backpack and slamming it into the snow. Puffs of white mist shot upwards into his well-protected face. Despite this protection, he still winced. He pounded the hook into the ground, hoping to get it stuck on something. He wasn’t sure what, but he had to get it in, or they were all screwed. Despite decades of training for an event such as this, he never actually had to use one of these. With the added panic of survival added on, it made it even harder to remember his training.   
  
The two other men sat cross armed, huddled next to one another, waiting patiently for Giorgio to fulfill his duty. They looked around the area. It was hard to really investigate their surroundings through the snow, but they tried to. What else were they supposed to do, help Giorgio?   
  
Finally, Giorgio felt the grappling hook pierce rock, vibrating fiercely in his hands. He gave it a great tug before standing back up. Nodding at his handiwork, he began to unravel the long thread of rope stuffed in one of his backpacks. As he did so, he pointed to the man on the left. Despite knowing them well, it was hard for Giorgio to really tell them apart, as they all dressed the same. The man on the left gave a nod and approached Giorgio and the rope. Hesitantly, Giorgio handed it over to the man, slapping his shoulder. The man nodded. Giorgio muttered a small prayer.   
  
The man took hold of the rope, now tied around his waist, and began his descent into the pit. Giorgio watched solemnly; his fingers crossed in his jacket pockets. Soon, the man disappeared into the shadows of the cave, nothing but the rope and grapple marking the fact that he still existed.   
 
Giorgio sighed, his chest shaking with every breath. He looked back at the other man and beckoned to him with his hand, quickly shoving it back into his pocket. The man now stood at his side, looking around, distracting himself from the horrible question that was on both of their minds: Did he make it?  
  
Richter and Simon glanced at one another in discomfort. Looking back, a flicker of light danced from the pit. A fire had been lit. Piercing the white abyss around them, it grew in size, like a blossoming flower. The man jumped for a second looking to Giorgio, his legs shaking giddily. He desperately wanted out of this cold.   
  
Giorgio nodded, slapping the man on the back.   
  
“Gear up!” He yelled out to no one in particular.   
  
The man gripped the rope, and began his descent towards the flame. Giorgio watched, moving back and forth in place, fighting the frozen land around him.  The snow seemed to have gotten more and more fierce, an unstoppable force of nature. It was as if Mount Silver had noticed their presence, and was not happy about it. The sSnow tumbleding attoward Giorgio, as if trying to grab him and throw him off the mountainside. Panicked, GiorgioGiorgio, in panic, gripped the rope in a tumbled towards the rope desperate attempt to hold on. The wind gave out one last roar before Giorgio grasped the rope for himself. He tumbled down into the pit, letting out a yelp of surprise. For now, they would be safe from the unending cold.   
  
Giorgio nodded, taking in the fire. “We need to cover it.” Throwing his backpack off of his back, he began to pull out a large blue tarp. “We need to keep the heat from going up.” It rustled, echoing through the cave.  
 
“Giorgio!” The men’s eyes both widened. “We’ll suffocate!” 
 
Laughing to himself, Giorgio replied. “Nah.” Giorgio shook his head. “Done it before.” He smiled. “We almost suffocate, never do, though.” Fumbling with the flint and steel in his hands, he continued. “It’s going to suck, but by Arceus you’re going to feel really nice.” 
  
----  
  
The fire crackled, smoke pressing against the tarp above their heads. Each of them letting out coughs intermittently. The setup was not a pleasant one, but if it meant keeping the heat to themselves, it would have to do. From the tent door, A single light isolated within miles of darkness, keepingpt them idly conscious of one another. It was the one standing  a single reminder that they believed they were safe. Their backpacks were strewn about nearat the trio’s sides, unkempt and messy. Giorgio sat against his backpack, breathing heavily. Despite the six hours of sleep he had gotten, it felt impossible to truly get enough rest out here. He glanced over at the first to enter the cave.   
  
“Richter.” Giorgio coughed. His graying beard hiding his chapped lips.   
  
Richter fumbled with his backpack, pulling out a wooden log uses for timber. Mindlessly, he began sharpening it into a point with a large bowie knife. His ungloved hands were practically glowing red from the cold. Despite the heat they shared, it still felt like it wasn’t enough.   
  
“You said that you would tell me once we were here, well… why we were here.” Giorgio licked his lips. “And I trust you, since you are my dear friend... But why were we risking our lives to get into this empty cave?”  
  
  
Richter sighed. His dirty blonde hair pulsating against the fire. The wooden log in his hand now thinned, with a handle and everything. It stuck out with a perfect point.  Pressing it into the stone below, he proved his craftsmanship as it pierced the soft stone beneath them. With a smirk, Richter looked up to Giorgio. Despite knowing forever, the age on Richter’s face was far younger than Giorgio’s. No signs of gray or no wrinkles.   
  
“A hunt.” Richter let out a breath excitedly, it shook from the cold.  
  
Giorgio, who was placing his gloves back onto his icy hands, stumbled for a second. His, fingers rolleding over one another, in a meaningless action. “Hunt?”   
  
Richter balanced the pointed piece of wood in the palm of his hands. “In this cave, lies a formidable beast, who once awakens, will wreak havoc upon the Indigo Plateau, west of here.”  
  
“Why there?” Giorgio pressed his hand to his face, desperately trying to warm it. “Why would something attack randomly.?”  
  
Richter inhaled sharply. “It’s- It’s not going to be a random attack, friend.”  
  
“They are expanding the Indigo Plateau, forcing it into an emergency shelter...” said RRichter, now scooting closer to the fire., Hhe taps his brother’s leg, who is still fast asleep. “With the insane decline in Pokemon trainers… they have to manage somehow, and leaving a large abandoned place like that is out of the question.” Sighing Richter looked to Giorgio. “We can’t afford to abandon buildings anymore…” Richter trailed off, staring into the fire. “They will be drilling straight into Mount Silver, and sadly, disturbing all of the wildlife.”  
  
“Then why even build there?” Giorgio spat. “Idiots. If they knew anything about Mount Silver, they’d know that there are plenty of places to build to ignore the wildlife.” Giorgio crossed his arms.  
  
Richter looked off into the darkness of the cave, shrugging. “With the rising sea levels, we don’t have much of a choice… Your job is a ranger, right? Then you know that-”  
  
“Yes, yes.” Giorgio waved his hand. “I’ve seen the data. I’ve seen it all first hand.”    
  
They both fell silent. They both knew what this meant. Another chance for humanity to survive the conditions they have brought upon themselves. Another grim chance. The fire crackled, the weary traveler’s souls found peace in this place. There was finally something louder than the howling snow that danced around the entrance into this cave.   
  
Drowning out the crackling of the fire, Richter’s brother finally stirred to life. With a low sleepy moan, he rose slowly. Just like Richter’s his hair was dirty blonde, but unlike his brother, it was far longer, trapped into a ponytail. With his hair tied back, it highlighted his chiseled cheekbones. Giorgio watched as is face moved with a yawn. It was incredibly gaunt, he wondered which was thinner: the ice at their feet or his friend’s face.   
  
“Morning, guys…” He scratched his chest through his coat.  
  
Richter gave a half smile. “Morning, bro.”  
  
“Simon.” Giorgio nodded the sleepy man’s way. Simon nodded back, sleeping hanging onto his eyelids.  
  
Giorgio scratched at his beard. Something about the way these two acted broke his heart. Whatever they were going to do to this poor Pokemon in this cave made him shudder. It wasn’t even an unnatural occurrence. These days, clearing out places like this was a very safe job, and it was one that was constantly needed as humans climbed higher and higher away from the ocean. What made him shudder, was how close to home this problem hit. Watching nature collapse during his job as a ranger was one thing, but now he was witnessing this domino effect hurt two people he had known all of his life. No one could hide from the inevitability of humankind’s actions.   
  
Richter coughed awkwardly to get everyone’s attention. Simon turned, adjusting his clothes so that they fit properly, as they were contorted around his body from sleeping. Giorgio turned solemnly to Richter.  
  
“So. Erm…” Richter scratched his head. Amidst the crackling fire, blemishes and scars on his face glowed an intense blood orange. “Giorgio… we just need you to guide us to the heart of the cave, and then we can, uh… do our job.”   
  
Giorgio looked at Richter in the eyes. He did not nod, nor did he make any motion, but he made sure Richter understood that he understood. Wiping his face, he spoke. “And what do we do after that? I hope you don’t expect us to climb out the way we came in.”  
  
Simon shook his head, but Richter responded. “No. We will be meeting the excavation team a bit further down past the heart, they are creating a tunnel specifically for us.”  
  
Giorgio shook his head. “Why didn’t you guys go in with them?”  
 
Richter and Simon shrugged. “They don’t want the public to know we are with them, I suppose.” 
 
Giorgio scoffed. “Yeah, Arceus forbid they know what you’re doing, right?” 
 
 
With an awkward pause, Richter launched up to his feet. “Well, we should get going.” His eyes glazed over, he turned over and grabbed his backpack. Simon did the same. It was odd, seeing how much taller Simon was than Richter. Giorgio remembered their days back in school at that moment. He remembered how each of them had differing hopes and dreams. Now their bodies are older, more prone to being sore. Their fates tried so desperately to split apart, yet here they were, working together.   
  
Giorgio stood up, letting out a cough. He couldn’t get the sickly cold out of his lungs no matter how hard he tried. He felt as if sticking the flames down his throat wouldn’t even cure the cold inside of him. Shivering, he threw his backpack on, and began to follow the brothers, slowly taking the lead ahead of them.   
  
“So, what is the creature we’ll be…” He paused, swallowing. “Moving?” Giorgio asked, looking back to the duo. The concept of moving a Pokemon was always strange to him, as there was always an aura of mystery around it. Where was the Pokemon going? Where could be better than its own habitat? Although, he knew the answer to that, there were many places safer than the wild, even for wild Pokemon.   
  
Simon looked off, away from the trio. Richter cleared his throat. “A uh, Noibat.”   
  
Giorgio scoffed. “Just a single Noibat?”  
  
“A mercy killing-” Simon began to speak, but a thud echoed through the caves. Giorgio glanced back to see Richter quickly placing his hand back in his pocket.  
  
“The mother was found dead at the foot of the mountain, friend. The insane climate is affecting the Pokemon as well.” Richter bit his lip nervously. Eyes jolting around. “This Noibat is scared and alone, and we have no place to take it.”   
  
“So, you’re going to off it, eh?” Giorgio let out a shocked laugh. “I’m assuming that this isn’t your choice, but still.” Giorgio shrugged, adjusting his backpack. “People are stupid.”  
  
“Maybe so, but they are scared.” Richter exhaled.  
  
“So am I, comrade.” Giorgio spoke softly. “So am I.” 
 
In front of them, the cave opened up into what seemed like a spiraling hallway. The rocks slowly turneding as the cave went onward. Dew dropped from stalactites, dropping down into small,  iced- over puddles. The browns of the cave were almost soothing to look at, compared to the harsh whites of the mountain above their heads. It was hypnotizing to look at, and a reminder of what beauty was still left in this world. They all fell silent.  
  
They continued onward, their steps echoing thumps. The cave opened up even more into a large bowl shape. The stalactites acting as the teeth of the passageway, openeding up like a dragon’s maw, acting as the teeth of the passageway. The bowl was wide and large. The darkness hid the backside of the cave, making it appear as if the whole place was never ending.   
  
Silence had taken a hold of the entire cave. Not even drops of water were heard. The rocks seemed to twitch in the darkness, watching the unwelcome visitors. The trio looked around, all side by side now. Stepping into the dip of stone slowly, they began to shift their pace into a tiptoe.   
  
Richter gave out a sharp whisper. “Look!”   
  
He pointed with his wooden point, readying his knife in the other hand. In the center was a small black figure, curled up around itself. It wriggled in discomfort from the cold stone. Richter bent over, biting his lip. He began to move very slowly, pointed stick raised up. Giorgio’s composure seemed to harden, as he watched in sorrow at how his friend was beginning to strike.  
  
“Bloody hell…” He whispered under his breath.   
  
Richter stopped and turned to Giorgio wide-eyed. “What?” He whispered back.  
  
“Why not use the knife?” He hissed. “It is a much cleaner kill.” His heart sank at what he was saying.   
  
Richter rolled his eyes away from Giorgio. “We can’t. We can’t have the Indigo Plateau know that we were the ones that in fact, killed it. Or that any human, tampered with it.”   
  
“Why the HELL?” Giorgio yelled aloud. The whole cave shook, the sleeping Pokemon swiftly stirring to life from his outburst. “Why the hell would it even matter?”    
  
Simon spat annoyed words to Giorgio. “Dragon skins… are amazing protecting from harsh weather.”   
  
Richter shrugged. “Which there seems to be more of.”   
 
 
 
“So, you think it’s okay to just climb up here, and kill the damn thing?” Giorgio laughed in disbelief. “You bloody idiots!” Giorgio stamped his foot. “They’re going to find evidence of us here!”   
  
Richter was staring at the Noibat in front of them now. “Evidence, of you. If anything.” With a scratch to his head, he nodded. “Thanks for helping us get back here.” Another glance. “We had to leave last time; architects were here.”  
  
Giorgio stood there, jaw hanging in disbelief. The black figure’s beady eye shot open, revealing a sharp yellow glow. It launched up into the sky, flapping its wings fiercely. It screeched out. Giorgio gave the Pokemon a long hard look. It was missing a part of its foot. It was still a fresh wound. Not brand new, but definitely a recent one. The cut was clean, not torn or sliced.   
  
“Richter, you…” Giorgio didn’t have time to speak. He heard Simon approach swiftly from behind. A loud crack echoed inside of him. Everything jumped to black and white, splotches staineingd his vision. The room spinning,With the room spinning, he turned on his heels and fell to the floor, gasping for breath.   
  
With labored breathing, he dared not to move. He moved his eyes, trying to find the duo who were just out of his sight. His body tried accepting the cold, while his head throbbedhis head throbbing too intensely to reject its presence. His heart was pounding, echoing through his shocked body. And sitting there with grit teeth, he focused on the flapping of the small Noibat’s wings. Soon enough,And soon enough the rhythm of his heart and the rhythm of the wings synchronized.   
  
He watched, eyes filled with horror and shock, as his close friend Richter pulled a small handgun from his backpack. Simon began to do the same. They both dropped their backpacks to the floor. Giorgio slowly tried to lift his body, his eyes squinting towards the backpack. From here he could barely see it, but it was there. Many soft skins and furs. He slowly crawled towards the backpack, making sure to not be seen by the distracted brothers.   
  
He reached forward, tugging the backpack close to him. He let out a gasp. His very own friends had hidden their betrayal from him. They were people he had known forever. What was inside of Richter’s backpack told him all he needed to know; they were poachers. Giorgio let out growl, as struggled to pull his own backpack off. Desperately fumbling within for something, anything, to help him. Nothing, it was all useless junk. For this situation, anyways.   
  
He cursed to himself, looking around in panic. The Noibat was holding its own though, luckily. Simon had been launched across the cave by the intense noise of the Pokemon’s screech. Richter, watching his brother getting hurt, was starting to panic. Shooting the feeble thing was supposed to be easy, but not when it was barraging you with attacks.   
  
A glint of light flickered in Giorgio’s peripheral vision. Sitting soaked in cold water, shimmering against f was Richter’s knife. He licked his chapped lips and forced himself off of his feet. He glanced over to see that they still had not noticed him. With slow subtle tiptoes that barely crunched against the rock, he made his way to the knife. With it in his grasp, he stood tall.   
  
Giorgio launched himself towards Richter, who was now backpedaling away from the Noibat. Raising his arm up as he approached, Hhe let out a yell, raising his arm up as he approached,  notifying Richter of Giorgio’s presence. With wide panicked eyes, Richter threw his hands in the direction of Giorgio. Tumbling against the earth again, they punched and kicked at one another. Richter launched his fist into Giorgio’s jaw. Giorgio grunted out in pain and reeled the knife back. As Richter went for another swing, the knife plunged into his chest, d Dragging downwards. Richter let out a beastly howl as he fell to the ground, blood seeping out of his wound and soaking his coat. His lifeless eyes looking straight past Giorgio.   
  
Giorgio let out a heavy breath. A gunshot. A stinging, screaming pain. He fell forward, his weakened leg unable to hold him up through the pain. He gritted his teeth and turned over, staring at Simon, slowly approaching him. He was silent, watching, staring, waiting for Giorgio to do something stupid. So, Giorgio didn’t move. They met eyes, both filled with sorrow.  
  
“This could have been easier, you know that?” He shouted. “You didn’t have to watch us do this; you could have waited at the exit. We would have paid you.”  
  
“PAID ME?” As Giorgio spoke, he felt the cold enter himself again. “I don’t WANT blood money. My job is to protect helpless creatures like this, and hurt predators like you!”   
  
Simon sighed, shaking his head. “Man…” He raised the handgun to Giorgio and stepped forward.   
  
Before anything else could be done, a loud screech echoed through the cave. Simon dropped his gun, letting out a yell of pain. His hands covering his ears, the barrage of noise wasn’t stopping. The Noibat circled Simon. Simon fell to his knees, before his eyes rolled back and he fell to the floor,  unconscious. The Noibat continued circlingstill circled the unconscious body, watching it with curiosity.  
  
Giorgio let out a small cry. Was it the pain or the heartbreak? It didn’t matter. He crawled to his bag, leaving a trail of blood. Fumbling through ithis bag once again, he started tossing everything out. A small bit of alcohol would do the trick. He took Richter’s knife and cut open his pant leg, seeping his wound in the burning liquid. He gritted his teeth.   
  
As the cold knife pressed into his skin he cried out. The knife pressed against the bullet, forcing it deeper. Behind tears, he recoiled, knife flying across the room. It was no use. No use at all. The pain stayed. His leg was far too weak to even budge from its position. The muscle had given up.   
  
He glanced over, the Noibat now on the ground, hopping around the unconscious Simon. Curiously, it poked at the threat. Giorgio’s heart sank. With somber eyes, he glanced at his weakened leg again. His leg was useless for now, but the rest of him was not. With every fiber of his body fighting back the pain, he stood. All of his weight on his strong leg. He sighed; this was not going to be easy. Giorgio whistled, nodding towards the Pokemon.   
  
“Little comrade.” he spoke in a calm demeanor, his voice’s tone tensing as pain shot through his leg.  
  
Giorgio nodded his head as the Noibat tilted its head in his direction. He held his hand out. “It is not safe here for you anymore,” He licked his lips. “Little comrade, we must go.” He gestured to the backpack; its zipper wide open. The Noibat hopped on its one foot towards Giorgio. The simple act of the Pokemon walking broke Giorgio’s heart.  
  
Everyone was desperate to get by. He understood that. He chose this life to forget about the horrifying reality of life down below. He did not understand though, why these creatures had to suffer for it.   
  
Slowly and cautiously, the Noibat hopped into the bag. It looked at Giorgio with frightened eyes. They both looked around the cave. It was dark and empty, anyone stuck here would be truly alone. Glancing at his old friends’s one last time, he hobbled forward. He gave the small Noibat a pat on the head, and zipped up the backpack slightly, letting its eyes peek out.   
  
He gave a weak smile. His job as ranger was done, he just had to find the exit.
"Take Care of Yourself"

[Image: b39fbfee7b09365ea573d45fc9c2cdbe.gif]
  Reply
#7
Plot holes filled or covered nicely, apocalypse embiggened, readability and flow improved, and Noibat captured. Enjoy!
Staff, head grader, judge. My stats (always a work in progress!)
Park: Evan Morphic: Aaren Cassandra
[-] The following 1 user Likes evanfardreamer's post:
  • Jack
  Reply


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)