The Rules of the Streets
#1
Pokemon Attempting to Catch: Zigzagoon-G & Pidgey
Rank(s) : Simple & Easiest
CC: 10,631
(This is Intended to be the Introductory Chapter to a Longer Piece)

Trash, why does it always have to be trash?” the little Zigzagoon thought as it sifted through the brown garbage bag which held the night’s meal. Its black and white striped fur was covered in refuse and dirt from clawing away at the pile of garbage that he and his siblings had stopped in front of. Being born and raised in the alleys of Motostoke City, the rambunctious tyke had learned to survive the cold and metallic streets by scavenging with its brothers and sisters. Banding together, they would fight off rival families of Zigzagoons or Trubbish for the scraps the humans would constantly throw in the alleyways. If someone didn’t know how to defend themselves, they would go hungry. That was the nature of the beast, and Zigzagoon lived by it every day.


Tonight was no different; as the small family were scouring their surroundings and happened upon a large bag of trash left just outside the city’s Pokemon Center. Judging from the smell, Zigzagoon surmised that there were some leftover berry scraps from medicine used earlier in the day. They were his absolute favorite, and he always dug the fastest to make sure he got as many of them as he could. 


Quite a few tonight, I’m starting to get full,” he thought as he backtracked his way away from the bag. His face was covered with remnants of berry juice and other debris which got stuck to the adhesive substance. Zigzagoon gave himself a firm shake-off all through his body, in a familiar way to clean himself from the dirt and grime. 


One of his sisters emerged from the bag, munching on some old bread that had been discarded. Following a large gulp she smiled and said to her brother, “They threw away a lot of good stuff tonight. Luckily we found it before the fools from downtown did.” The brother laughed and replied, “Yeah, comes to show fortune favors the toughest in town. Our family is the true best group of Zigzagoon around here.” 


The sister nodded in approval, and prepared to dive back into the bag for another helping of scraps. Before she could dig in however, a familiar sound caught her attention. The distinct sound of flapping wings, not just one set either. She whipped her head around to see the shadowy figures of several small birds with small beaks heading right for the garbage bag. “Uhhhhh brothers, I think we have some company,” she managed to mutter with slight hesitation. The scrounging sounds from the bag ceased, and the remaining three Zigzagoon popped their heads out and looked in the same direction. The brother who had finished earlier turned to face the incoming intruders, his fur beginning to bristle with anticipation.


Passing by a nearby lightpost, the family of Zigzagoon saw what group was heading their way. A flock of tannish-brown birds with wings covered in white feathers had arrived. Their eyes were exclusively focused on the bag the Zigzagoon family was sharing, and they weren’t stopping to make pleasantries. The flapping of their wings got louder and the Zigzagoon clan could hear quiet, yet rhythmic coos coming from the birds. “Really? Why are there Pidgey all the way out here in Motostoke?” the Zigzagoon brother thought as he and his siblings started to crowd in front of the bag. 


When the group of Pidgey noticed their entry had been received with a negative reception, they calmed their flapping and began to quietly hover about 20 feet away from the clan. “Hey you guys! You should share some of that with us, we’ve been flying all night looking for a meal,” the lead Pidgey squawked. The other four Pidgey behind the leader began to vigorously coo in response to the demand. 


The Zigzagoon brother scoffed at the notion of sharing the food and responded harshly, “Well that’s too bad! Our family found this bag first and the food is ours!” His brothers and sister growled, their small razor-sharp teeth baring with full intent to use them on the birds. After barking out his rebuttal, the brother also bared his teeth and extended his front claws. The family knew better than to let others boss them around, they were going to protect their find. 


The flock of Pidgey started to beat their wings more viciously with the response they were given, and the lead member glared directly at the Zigzagoon brother. “I guess we have no choice. Brothers, let’s show them what it means to defy us!” the Pidgey leader commanded with a surprisingly loud shrill to his tone. With the order given, the flock charged straight for the family of raccoons and the battle had begun.


Each of the Zigzagoon and the Pidgey had separated their fights into one-on-one affairs, as to not risk getting double teamed by the other side. The brother Zigzagoon routinely attempted to Tackle the leader Pidgey who had decided to be his opponent. The Pidgey would easily dodge his advances, and retaliate by sending violent Gusts in the small Pokemon’s direction. Being impacted by the force several times, the Zigzagoon snarled at his inability to land a hit and turned to look at his siblings.


They were all holding their own against the less experienced members of the Pidgey flock, able to land some hits while brunting the force of the avian rebuttals. “Okay good. I don’t have to worry about them,” Zigzagoon thought as he turned back to face the Pidgey he was fighting. He growled as he said to himself, “However, if you don’t figure something out; you’re gonna put everyone else in danger.” That was when Zigzagoon had an idea which he hadn’t thought of before, “Pidgey wants me to attack him directly, so he can use his flying advantage. I’ve been falling right into his trap. So maybe…


The small bird Pokemon was hovering with utter confusion as to why his consistently aggressive opponent had suddenly become complacent. “Ha! I must have made him tired out. Oh well, I thought this would be more difficult. Guess he only talks a big game,” the Pidgey thought amusingly as he prepared his next attack. With a loud coo, the bird began to fling himself in the direction of the Zigzagoon with incredible speed.


Zigzagoon snapped out of his meditative stupor to see that his opponent had decided to make another move. Trying to track the high-speed movements of the feathered combatant, he dug his claws into the ground. He began to brace himself for the inevitable impact he was prepared to take, and started to cover himself in a dark-purple aura. “This is going to hurt, but it’s the only way I can get back at this guy,” Zigzagoon thought with a slight grimace on his face at the thought of being hit so hard. 


Sure enough, his opponent came crashing into him with full force not even a couple seconds later. Feeling the bird’s beak begin to jab into his thick fur, the pain was enough to knock the wind out of him as he flipped backwards and crashed onto the pavement. In obvious pain, he slowly got up and felt the aura around him supercharge him with energy. “Alright Pidgey! Now you asked for it!” he shouted with full vigor as he unleashed an attack towards the bird with equal speed and force that he had just suffered. 


The Pidgey had just flown through the Zigzagoon and swooped back around to see the damage he had inflicted. At that moment, he was seeing the little rodent-like Pokemon clammer to get himself upright. The Pidgey began to triumphantly coo, and turned his head towards the remainder of the fighters thinking, “Well now that’s he’s not going to bother me…” His thoughts were stopped by the startling shout that came from his recently downed opponent. He whipped his head back around just in time to witness the recently damaged raccoon lunging at him with pure energy. He could not react in any reasonable time, as before he could attempt to dodge the incoming attack; the ferocious bundle of fur and claws slammed directly into the bird’s chest. 


The weight of the impact was so immense from these two little creatures, that both of them flew backwards with a loud slamming sound. Both the other groups stopped what they were doing to turn and observe what had just occurred. When they saw both the Zigzagoon and the Pidgey lying hurt on the ground, they began to run towards their comrades. They stopped however, when they heard another sound coming towards their direction. More forceful than the flapping of wings, it almost reminded the groups of Pokemon of a human’s footsteps. Knowing better than to be found, both groups decided to run away for fear of being discovered. Before doing so, they all turned and glanced at their injured partners and sadly dispersed knowing they couldn’t do anything without risking themselves. 


Both the brother Zigzagoon and the Pidgey tried to regain their breath, trying to recover somehow from the two large impacts they had sustained. They could hear the footsteps as well, and they knew running was their only way out of another potential battle. Struggle as they might, they could barely get themselves upright before the footsteps stopped and a shadow loomed over the two Pokemon. 


Obscuring the light of the nearby lamppost, was a young man. A red cap covered his oakish-brown hair, while he was wearing a simple red vest over a white t-shirt. Denim blue jeans and red-white striped sneakers made up the rest of the mysterious human’s attire, and he had a compassionate smile on his face. “Oh my goodness, you two look like you need some help. Why don’t I take you two with me and get you healed up?” the man gently asked. 


The Zigzagoon and the Pidgey looked at each other with mutual confusion. A trainer that didn’t want to battle, but rather help? That was a foreign concept to the two, even with their different upbringings. Knowing both had sustained sizable injuries, they nodded at each other and then looked back at the trainer. They gave the best smiles they could muster, but pain clearly showed through on their faces. 


The young man gave a half-pained, yet understanding smile while he reached into his pants pocket. He pulled out two red and white orbs, and pressed the center button on each. They expanded to the size of the man’s hand, and he placed one in front of both Zigzagoon and Pidgey. Zigzagoon paused for a moment and looked back to where his brothers and sister had been, only to see they had gotten away. “I’m sorry guys. You will have to rule these streets now without me. Don’t let Motostoke fall into the wrong hands,” he thought sadly as he then turned back to the Poke Ball. 


Pidgey has already begun reaching out to tap the button in front of him, knowing this was better than the alternative. The Zigzagoon gave one more sigh and affirming nod to himself, and then reached out to tap the button on the orb in front of him as well...
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#2
Diction & Presentation: Intermediate

Your technical skill and strength with descriptive language holds strong! In particular, I really liked how you introduced us to your band of wild Zigzagoon. We got a concise, effective, and fun image of the Zigzagoon digging through the trash with berry juice stained on their face, which also helped establish their personalities. I think your introduction was strongest in this regard, and after each of the characters were introduced and the setting was established, the descriptive language started to drop off a bit. While it will almost always make sense to start with the strong descriptions and then ease off when the visuals are established, I think your story would benefit a bit from including more descriptive details throughout. That way, these visual details are reinforced, and it keeps the readers grounded in the scene when you later introduce more dynamic action (ie. the fight).

Grammar and Style: Intermediate

A few minor things here and there, and I know you said this story was pretty much a one-shot, so I can’t reasonably nitpick too much. A closer proofread would be beneficial, especially when it comes to comma usage because that’s pretty much the only error that popped up more than once. Again, I know you know this stuff, so I won’t bore ya with the basics.

Here’s something a little more related to style than grammar, but I’d like to take a look at it. There’s a passage about halfway through the story that reads:

Quote:Each of the Zigzagoon and the Pidgey had separated their fights into one-on-one affairs, as to not risk getting double teamed by the other side. The brother Zigzagoon routinely attempted to Tackle the leader Pidgey who had decided to be his opponent. The Pidgey would easily dodge his advances, and retaliate by sending violent Gusts in the small Pokemon’s direction.

There’s some passive language going on here, which is something I generally try and avoid when writing a story that’s packed with action like yours is. Per Google, Passive voice is when the noun being acted upon is made the subject of the sentence, while active voice is when the noun doing the action is the subject. In your passage, the sentences like “the Zigzagoon and the Pidgey had separated” and “the Pidgey would easily dodge his advances” are passive -- the subjects are being acted upon as opposed to taking the actions. If we instead frame it as “the Zigzagoon and the Pidgey separated their fights into one-on-one affairs” and “The Pidgey easily dodged his advances,” the action being taken comes across as much more dynamic and direct. They are actively separating and dodging, as opposed to having that action done to them.

...Does that make sense at all? I’m not sure if I chose the best examples, but I did notice this several times throughout. The best way to look out for this is by noticing some kind of “to be” verb in the middle of the sentence. “The Pidgey was dodging” can be rewritten as “the Pidgey dodged.” Had, would, was, and did are all flag words when thinking about passive voice. See if there’s a way to rewrite each instance of this so the action is directly taken rather than assigned.

Pokemon Integration: Intermediate

Your two target Pokemon are the central players in the main story, and there’s very little distraction outside of their conflict. I will say that we get the chance to explore the Zigzagoon group’s dynamic a bit more than the Pidgey group’s. We meet the Zigzagoon siblings first, and they have their own brief moments to shine, while the Pidgey don’t really get the same opportunity. This makes the Pidgey feel a little less important in the big battle. Because neither really feels like an antagonist -- their motives of wanting to eat some scraps are pretty much the same -- the audience doesn’t have a specific one to root for. However, I think we end up rooting for the Zigzagoon just because we have more exposure to them. I dunno, just another thing to consider. Their involvements and integration is about on par with the rank you’re going for, so I can’t reasonably ask for that much more.

Character & Plot Unity: Intermediate

Solid job here, even with a pretty simple plot. The central conflict of fighting over food ties directly into both characters. Like I said above, it would’ve been a little interesting if we got to see some more of their motives. Have the Pidgey gone hungry for days before this? You mentioned how the Zigzagoon were already filling their bellies as the Pidgey arrived -- are they gluttonous villains who want to starve out their competition, or is this food really so scarce that they feel protecting it is worth their lives? The conflict could stay relatively the same, but if the motives were explored a bit more before the fighting starts, the audience might be able to pick a side a little more clearly.

Setting: Basic/Intermediate

We know this story takes place in the alleyways of Motostoke City, which are pretty cold and unforgiving. The description of Motostoke that you gave at the beginning of your story ties in well with the theme of life-and-death scavenging. This ties in a bit to my advice in the diction and presentation section, but I would’ve loved to have seen the setting’s description stay relevant and dynamic as the plot progresses. How does the setting respond to the fight? Is Zigzagoon toppled into a nearby trash can? How does a bird talon scratching on the concrete sound? The setting should change or at least be interactive with the rest of the story in order to be most engaging.

Dialogue: Basic/Intermediate

I don’t have much to add here that hasn’t been said above, honestly. The dialogue had a practical role in your story, never added unnecessarily and never taking away from the action. I think one of the highlights of your story was the back-and-forth between the Zigzagoon siblings near the introduction. As I mentioned in the Integration section, I would’ve loved to have seen something similar for the Pidgey siblings, but this isn’t a huge deal given the rank of the story. One last note -- the Zigzagoon is sad to leave its brothers and sisters on the streets, but is it reluctant, afraid, or enraged to be captured? Especially if that means it’s paired with the Pidgey it had just been so damaged by? I think a short dialogue, whether between the Zigzagoon and the Pidgey or just in the Zigzagoon’s head, that explored the Zigzagoon’s emotional reaction to being captured could’ve been interesting. Not required by any means, just another rando suggestion that might’ve made the audience even more invested in your story.

OVERALL: Medium

This was a short but effective story, not tackling any more than it could handle while also still being solid enough for a satisfying read. Most of my suggestions would’ve involved kicking the story’s length up significantly in order to get from Medium to Hard or higher, but for what this story aimed to do, I really don’t have that many critiques at all. Nicely done! Go ahead and claim your two Pokes, but make sure they behave around each other, okay?
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