Apex Predator
#1


The mid-day air, dripping with humidity and broiling by the beating sun, is tense. The verdant tropical forest, normally bustling with life, comes to a sudden halt as creatures of all sizes run for cover. It is painfully quiet. The only noise comes from a dull thumping on the ground. Powerful footsteps cause the earth to shake, and small pebbles in the dirt dance around with the vibration from each thud. Mother Nature herself quakes in the presence of her fiercest creation.


The apex predator swings his head from side to side, his red eyes darting between the thick greenery of the forest. He hasn’t eaten in a full day, and a thin forked tongue flicks outward and around his lips in hunger. Though his eyesight is poor, the scent of prey nearby does not deceive him. The beast holds his thin yellow arms close to his body as he tilts forward, guided by his nose. His body is lean and agile, supported by two nimble but powerful legs. 


A rustling in the distance alerts the apex predator, and his head jolts directly to the thicket of plants upwards of 50 feet away. His body freezes and his eyes narrow as he focuses on the noise. A faint but distinct scurrying sound of small feet scrambling through the brush can be heard by his acute ears. The predator licks his lips once more. It’s the sound of his favorite meal, a mid-sized mammalian Pokemon whose crushed bones and marrow are a tastier treat than any other creature in the jungle. The predator stomps his foot in the dirt, as he knows this chase won’t be an easy one. Electricity crackles up from the ground and in between each of his three razor-sharp talons. Each step generates energy in his legs, charging like a battery to be released when he runs at full velocity. His body tenses then releases in a burst of electricity, shooting ahead at lightning speed. Creatures in all directions bolt out from behind their trees and rock piles, no longer under the illusion that their hiding spot grants them safety. The air is filled with startled cries and rustling leaves, but the predator is undistracted and charges forward. The predator cuts through the chaos around him and focuses on the sound of his prey scurrying away.


A flash of cream fur weaves out from the brush and bolts forward. The jungle floor is too exposed for the prey to burrow into the foliage and away from predator’s reach, but it also knows that outrunning the predator in the open is impossible. Its only chance at survival is making it into its shelter beneath the ground. The predator sees the tunnel that his prey is aiming for, a mound of brown dirt a dozen yards ahead. His eyes tighten and he clenches his jaw as he runs forward. Saliva drips out the side of the predator’s pointed beak. He can hear the prey’s heart beating at a thousand beats per minute, and he can almost taste its warm, salty blood. 


The prey glances back for a moment, its bright blue eyes wavering with fear. The predator lets out a growl and chomps its mouth in anticipation. A faint squeal peeps out between the prey’s rapid breaths as the prey returns its focus forward. The gap is closing between them even faster, but the predator looks ahead and realizes the tunnel entrance is approaching rapidly. Cracks of lightning shoot out around the predator’s legs as his electricity empowers him to run even faster, but the predator realizes he is too late. The prey lunges into the air and dives for its burrow, its long body just slim enough to enter the hole in a single movement. The predator sinks his claws deep into the earth, skidding to an abrupt halt in front of the tunnel and shooting his beak as far into the hole as possible. He clamps his mouth shut and grinds his teeth, hoping to have captured one of the mole-like Pokemon’s back legs, but his bite is empty, and all he tastes is the bitter grit of dirt. The prey slinks its long body further undercover, and its scent slowly becomes masked by the musty earth.


The predator pulls his face out from the burrow and huffs in defeat. His face is covered in the fine, dark brown clay that the prey has made its home out of. He huffs once more to clear the dirt from his nostrils, but the stale smell of the soil lingers. Without his nose to guide him, he is blinded. It will be some time before his sense of smell returns and he can resume his hunt. The predator slumps his body into the ground just outside the prey’s dwelling, kicking up a cloud of dust around him. His stomach grumbles with a twinge of hunger and pain.


The apex predator fears nothing, yet the apex predator is afraid. He has wandered too far in search of prey and does not know the way back to his cave dwelling that perches over the jungle. Each time he goes on the hunt, he must venture further and further away from his familiar territory. The prey have learned to avoid his bone-littered hunting paths, and his only option is to adapt. But here in this lush and near impassable rainforest, the prey have the advantage, and for the first time in the predator’s life, his next meal is uncertain.


He snorts his nose a final time to clear the dirt before lifting his body off the jungle floor. Begrudgingly, he resumes his defeated trot onwards. He weaves between drooping tree branches and the thick green vines that hang off of them. The sun beats down relentlessly between the broad leaves above and refracts off of his yellow scales. It is an insufferably hot day in the jungle, and the predator wants nothing more than to lie in the shade and pick his teeth with a bone sliver, but he knows he cannot rest. 


As he walks, he hears the sound of a waterfall in the distance. He perks up. Running water is almost always a sign of life. The predator also knows he must regulate his body temperature, and he must do so quickly if he doesn’t want to overheat. His pace picks up slightly, and within minutes, he arrives at the waterfall oasis.


Small enclaves of paradise like this one are hard to come by. Yet somehow, much to the predator’s relief, this jungle spring is pristine and stunning. The water is crystal clear, gushing forcefully from a crack in the dark granite rock wall that towers above. It pools at the base of the rock face, and a mist of water sprays outward where the waterfall crashes. Deep green algae coats the nearby rocks, and floating lily pads several feet across drift aimlessly on the water’s surface. Despite the oasis’ beauty, the predator looks around for any signs of prey, and he finds none. The waterfall drowns out all noise, and the predator’s sense of smell is still subdued, so he must rely on his eyesight to perceive his surroundings. Still, the predator sees no mammal Pokemon by the pool’s shore nor any fish Pokemon swimming through the water. He is frustrated, but he rushes forward regardless, stomping his feet in anticipation of the cool water as he dives in.


The water is refreshingly cool, and the predator feels his body temperature steadily dropping towards much more comfortable conditions. The booming noise of the crashing water is even stronger than on the surface. He opens his eyes underwater briefly, and he snorts outward one last time, seeing two vents of bubbles rising out from his nostrils. The remaining clumps of dirt are washed out from the predator’s nose, and he is finally free of the musty smell of earth. Unlike many other surface-dwelling creatures, the predator’s olfactory sense works underwater too. He inhales deeply, the two thin slits of his nostrils filtering the water before it reaches the predator’s lungs, and forms a precise sensory map of the pool floor.


The mild, earthy fragrance of moss is the strongest scent, permeating throughout the entire pool. But the predator picks up on something else. It’s faint but familiar -- the briney, metallic smell of fish scales. It is hard to pinpoint the source, but the predator knows the scent is near the base of the crashing waterfall. There is an even fainter smell of blood in the same area as the scales. The predator’s tongue flicks out from its mouth in excitement. His legs scramble forward clumsily in the water, incapable of matching their power on land. It can’t be more than thirty feet to the waterfall, and the predator steadily gains speed underwater as he finds his stride. The smell of the scales grows stronger with each kick forward, and the undertone of blood grows with it. Though, as the predator approaches, he notices that the normal sweetness in the blood’s aroma is missing. Instead, it is a bitter smell, full of iron. The blood is stale, still lingering in the water but not from fresh prey. Before the predator can slow himself down, a new scent appears. The smell of old blood grows immensely, and a stench like rotting flesh emerges alongside a cloud of mud near the base of the waterfall. 


The predator realizes his mistake too late. This other creature that calls the oasis its home has already noticed his presence. The predator frantically kicks his legs in the opposite direction to slow his momentum, but the water carries him forward. The predator tilts his head towards the surface of the water and scrambles upward, though he can smell that the creature is approaching rapidly. His hooked beak reaches the surface, and he draws in a large gasp of air. His arms paddle desperately away from the waterfall, but a moment later, the predator feels a mouthful of razor sharp teeth sink into his rear leg. The predator cries out in pain as the creature pulls downward, bringing the predator with it beneath the surface.


With his other leg kicking violently at the creature, the predator whips his head around and makes a piercing eye contact with his assailant. The creature has fierce yellow eyes, outlined in navy-colored scales. Its jaw is massive, filled with rows of sharp-pointed fangs that curve inward for latching onto prey. The creature’s body widens at its center, muscular and powerful, and a broad tail swings back and forth with immense force. With each movement, the creature grinds its teeth even further into the predator’s leg, and soon the water is clouded with the predator’s own blood. His attempts to claw the creature with his free leg are futile; the predator’s knife-like talons graze off of the creature’s scales with ease. 


Desperately, the predator lunges towards the creature with his beak outstretched. His beak connects with the creature’s face, and the predator chomps down into its flesh. The taste of blood and scales fills the predator’s mouth, and the creature releases its grip on his leg in shock. The predator pulls his injured leg away swiftly. His wound pulses with pain, and he can feel his blood continue to seep out into the water, but the adrenaline pumping through his veins lets the predator push through. His vicious bite to the creature’s face has stunned it, but the predator knows his only chance for survival is to make it to land. He snaps his jaw shut even harder in the creature’s face, and the creature lets out a monstrous cry. With all his might, the predator pulls his unwounded leg upward, tucks it in towards his chest, and launches it into the creature’s body as he releases his grip with his teeth. The predator’s kick lands powerfully into the creature and propels them away from each other. 


The predator is disoriented, but he has line of sight to the sandy shore on the edge of the pool. His sense of the creature’s location is lost, as the blood-filled water both clouds the predator’s eyesight and camouflages the creature’s scent. His injured leg is useless for swimming to shore, but the momentum from his kick carries the predator forward. With a few more frantic strides, the predator feels the cool dirt against the bottom of his foot. Once his footing is solid, he stands upright on his good leg, letting the injured one hang limply just out of the water. 


The predator’s eyes shift back and forth across the surface of the pool, looking for any disturbance that might alert him to the creature. The water, which had been crystal clear moments ago, is murky with mud, stained red by the blood of both beasts. Small ripples echo across the surface, remainders from the underwater commotion, but the rest of the pool is calm. The only noise that the predator hears is the gradual drip of blood from his leg, which sends out ripples of their own with every drop. The predator is hopeful that his opponent has retreated to its lair to tend to its wounds, but the predator fears that this battle is far from over.


A moment later, the predator sees a disturbance to the water’s surface a short distance ahead. The pointed blue fin on the creature’s tail emerges from the water, creating a small wake as the tail moves from side to side. The creature’s wide face rises from the surface too, and they lock eyes once more. A deep gash just above the creature’s eye drips with blood from the predator’s attack, but the creature seems unphased. It is headed directly for the predator and is gaining speed. 


The predator readies himself for their encounter. He crouches down and buries his talons deep in the mud for support. He knows he will only have one opportunity to strike his opponent. His jaw clicks rapidly in anticipation. 


The creature’s fin flicks downward, and it dives beneath the surface. Its sudden disappearance startles the predator, but he knows that the creature will be aiming for the predator’s one good leg. The predator times his strike, waiting for the last possible moment before thrusting his open beak deep into the water and crunching hard.


His timing is near perfect, and the predator’s chomp catches the creature square in the face. He feels something soft and squishy that pops between his teeth as he grinds his mandibles together. The creature roars in agony. The predator has latched onto the creature’s eyeball, and it bursts within the socket. The creature flops violently back and forth, trying to escape the predator’s bite, but each motion only lets the predator’s teeth sink in further to the creature’s head. Frantically, the creature swings its head towards the predator’s leg and opens its jaw around the predator’s ankle. It too clamps down, and the predator feels searing pain shoot up his other leg. His balance crumbles, but he does not loosen his bite in the creature’s skull. They flip back and forth beneath the water, neither beast letting their intense wounds get in the way of their survival, but each movement rips new tears in the other beast’s flesh. The predator can feel his ankle being chewed through, and his foot hangs on loosely by the strings of a few tendons. He opens his mouth for a split-second, hinges his jaw even further around the creature’s neck, and sinks his teeth in with as much force as possible. The creature roars once more, releasing its grip on the predator’s foot, and the predator tears his beak backwards, ripping the throat of the creature out with him. The creature’s body stops thrashing, and within seconds, its massive scaly body rises to the surface of the pool.


The predator is out of breath, and his head barely bobs above the water. He feebly attempts to stand up on the lesser injured of his two legs, but he immediately collapses back into the water. He has lost a lot of blood, and he is still weak from a days-empty stomach. Though the taste of his victim’s blood coats the inside of his mouth, he is in shock, and he cannot enjoy his victory over the creature by eating its carcass. Instead, the predator sits in the sandy rocks, while liters of blood spill out with every pump of his fast-beating heart. He glances at the creature and sees its macerated face, then he glances downwards and sees his macerated legs. Though he is the victor, neither beast has won.


The predator has lost all his energy and lets his head fall backwards into the water. He slowly sinks down to the pond’s floor until his skull thuds against a rock. He stares up at the sun above, seeing the light refract in the water as each ripple passes overhead. The predator blinks slowly, his eyelids getting heavier each time, until his eyes finally rest shut. His breathing slows to a stop, and as his heart beats for the last time, the last thought in the predator’s head is of his own superiority. He truly is the apex predator of the jungle.


The world above goes dark.


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There is no passage of time for the apex predator when he is dead. All he knows is an endless cold in an unwaking slumber.


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But something wakes the predator from his slumber, and he is suddenly aware of how much time has passed. He feels his body take form again, as if it reassembles itself from the nothingness that pervades the afterlife.


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A brilliant white light flashes in the darkness. It is blinding, brighter than anything the predator has seen before. He blinks his eyes, but they refuse to adjust to the light. He remains disoriented, confused, but above all, freezing cold.


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“It’s a miracle...” says the scientist. “I didn’t think it could be done...” she trails off. “Vitals are stabilized, it responds to stimuli... I’ve done it. I’ve actually done it!”


The white light finally ceases, and the predator’s vision slowly returns to him. He blinks blearily as he scans his surroundings, but he recognizes nothing. Wherever he may be, it is dramatically different than his final resting place in the jungle spring. The floor is completely white, and strange metallic objects line the walls. The predator inhales deeply, but the smells are just as unfamiliar as the sights. He smells the metal machines and a slight acidity in the sterile air, as well as an artificially sweet perfume emanating from some tall fleshy mammal that stands directly in front of him. 


The predator attempts to lift his head up, but he feels a firm restraint that ties his body to the floor. His body shivers uncontrollably, and a thin drop of cold mucus puddles outside his nostril. 


“Be still, beast,” the scientist says harshly. “You’ve only just awoken, and if my knowledge as an archaeologist is to be trusted at all, you’ve been buried beneath the earth for upwards of 500 million years.”


The predator snaps his jaw towards the scientist. His movements are sluggish, and he feels as though his body is not his own. His joints ache as if they’ve been frozen in place for millenia. Even so, something feels off to the predator. His lower body feels strange...


“Hah!” the scientist laughs to herself with a wide grin. “The professors at Hammerlocke University told me I would never find a fossil and revive it. They laughed in my face when I told them I wanted to bring back a Pokemon from prehistoric times! Well, if only they could see me now...” she said with a smug, villainous chuckle.


The predator flings his body upward, struggling desperately to get out of his restraints. He lets out a shrill cry as he scrambles. He tries to kick his legs, but they feel cumbersome and slow. They slide backwards without any traction, slick against the metallic table that his body is binded to. 


The scientist turns her attention back to the predator and stares at it with disdain. “Quit it!” she barks. “Be grateful that you’re alive again. Without me, you would be nothing but dry bones in the dirt. Not even that snot-nosed kid that found your fossil knows just how ground-breaking my research has been...” Her face grows pink as blood rushes into her cheeks. Dark black hair shrouds her face, and she flicks her bangs out of her eyesight effortlessly. Her hands and clothes are stained a reddish-brown from dirt, but she seems unbothered. 


“Hey kid!” the scientist screams as she turns her head to the side. The predator follows her eyes and sees a much smaller version of the scientist, though this one quivers in the corner of the room out of fear. The child stares at the predator with wide brown eyes and a mouth that gapes open wide. A brimmed blue cap covers his messy hair. His clothes are likewise stained with dirt. He hides behind one of the large metal machines and ducks behind it when the predator’s narrow red eyes connect with his.


“Y--yes, miss?” the child says from behind his shelter.


“Take a look at the wonderful work I’ve done here!” the scientist exclaims and claps her hands together. “Isn’t it just marvelous? This creature must’ve ruled the prehistoric world!”


The child steps out from behind the machine and slowly approaches the predator, keeping his eyes locked as he steps forward. “Something looks... off,” the child says timidly. “Its legs are just... so big. Are you sure it’s supposed to look like that?” the child asks. “Y’know, I brought you two fossils that I found next to each other. Shouldn’t you have revived two Pokemon instead of just one?”


The scientist’s jaw drops, and she looks aghast. “Wh--Why I--” she stammers as she scrambles for her next words. “The audacity! Are you questioning my ability as a scientist?!” she shouts. 


“N-no, ma’am!” the child yelps back. “I just don’t know why it looks so... unnatural.”


The scientist stammers once more at a loss for words. “W--well, ahem,” she says as she clears her throat, “you did bring me two fossils from different creatures, that’s correct. But both fossils were damaged, you see? They were each injured in different ways. The blue aquatic Pokemon had its skull crushed, and the yellow raptor Pokemon had both of its feet nearly ripped off. Now, I’m an archeologist by training, but I’m no Pokemon doctor, and reassembling broken bones on a fossil is next to impossible. So I did the next best thing!” she exclaimed with a smile. “I took the head of the raptor and the body of the fish, and with the magic of science, they were fused together into a single magnificent Pokemon!” She can’t contain her excitement any longer and lets out a shrill laugh.


The child stares back at the predator, mortified. The predator understands nothing from their communication, but the look of unease on the child’s face alarms him. No creature had ever stared at the predator with anything other than dire fear, so to see the child’s face riddled with confusion and anxiety confirms with the predator that something is not right.


“Well?” the scientist asks expectantly. “Are you ready to take this Pokemon on the rest of your adventure?”


For the first time, the child breaks his gaze with the predator and looks at the scientist. “I... I can’t.” The child shakes his head. “I feel bad for it...”


The scientist huffs a deep breath out and tugs the sleeves on her lab coat down towards her wrist. “You can’t just leave it here,” she says firmly and crosses her arms. “You brought the fossils to me, and now you’re burdened with the creature whether you like it or not. I can’t restore this creature’s consciousness and then dash it away. I simply won’t allow you to leave without taking it,” she says with a self-assured nod.


The scientist moves towards one of her machines, and her fingers hover delicately over a bright red button on the control panel. “Okay, I’m going to release the restraints,” she cautions the child. “Make sure you have that Pokeball I gave you at the ready so you can take it with you.” 


“Okay...” The child shifts his attention back to the predator as he fumbles in his pocket. 


“Disengaging restraints in 3... 2... 1...”


A loud buzz echoes from all corners of the room, startling the predator. He flips his body from side to side as he feels the restraints gradually loosen. The metal bars around his back recede into the table, and within a matter of seconds, he is freed.


Weakly, the predator uses his lower body to lift himself up. His entire body shakes, both from the lack of energy behind his movements and the unbearable cold that won’t leave from his bones. The mucus outside his nose has frozen into a teardrop that shakes with each shiver. As the predator finds his footing, he feels his center of balance has shifted dramatically. His body normally tilts forward, oriented for sprinting long distances while staying aerodynamic, but his lower body feels much heavier than normal. The predator looks down at its feet and can barely see over the massive navy-blue hump that is midway up his body. His stomach extends far out beyond his lean chest, and his legs are light blue stumps that can barely support his weight. A broad finned tail waves from side to side. The predator recognizes this body not as his own but as the body of the creature he had died fighting against.


The predator roars in confusion and stumbles around in place briefly. He is lost in this unfamiliar world and trapped in a body that isn’t his own. The predator stares at the scientist and is consumed with rage. His blood boils, but it is still not enough to warm his frigid bones. The predator lunges forward off of the table and lands awkwardly on the ground, as his clumsy legs never intended for being above water are unable to support his upright bodyweight. But the predator recovers his balance and stomps forward towards the scientist. He outstretches his razor sharp beak and aims directly for the scientist’s throat.


“Quick, the Pokeball!” the scientist shouts as her eyes widen. She stumbles a few steps back into a stack of papers and loses her balance as the papers topple over. “Do it now! Oh!” she cries.


The child is paralyzed in place, but the scientist’s cry calls him to action. His slippery fingers firmly latch onto the Pokeball in his pocket, and he presses the slim white button at the Pokeball’s center. It expands in an instant, and the child pulls it out to aim at the predator.


The predator’s gaze remains unbroken on the scientist. He is only a few short feet away when his scaly feet, slick with an icy mucus membrane, slip out from beneath him. The predator’s body falls forward, and he snaps his beak shut in the air before dropping to the ground. His jaws crunch together mere inches from the scientist’s throat. His body slides forward on the tile floor and stops at the scientist’s feet.


“NOW!!” the scientist screams at the top of her lungs. The child lobs his Pokeball at the predator, but the predator recoils his neck around and aims his beak for the scientist’s foot. His jaws widen around her ankle moments before he is consumed in a flash of red light. The predator is absorbed into the Pokeball, which drops in place of the predator’s body.


The child and the scientist stand still in shock. “Well...!” the scientist exclaims with a huff of breath. “Some Pokemon trainer you are...” she says as she adjusts her lab coat once more. “That Pokemon could’ve killed me if I didn’t tell you to do something about it.”


The child remains frozen in place. “I... I didn’t know what I was doing...”


“That much is obvious, kid. You need to do some serious training before you try and use that Pokemon in a battle. It’s a danger to you and everyone around you.”


The child grunts and bows his head solemnly. “I’m sorry...” he murmurs.


“Well...!” she says once more, “if that’s all then, you should probably get on your way. I have nothing left for you, and you need to start training that Pokemon as soon as possible.” The scientist turns around, bends down to pick up the scattered papers, and starts forming them into a semi-organized stack. She refuses to make eye contact with the child.


“Y... yes, ma’am,” the child stutters. He steps forward hesitantly and reaches towards the Pokeball on the ground. He notices that the dirty white laces on his tennis shoes are untied, but he ignores it and stuffs the Pokeball into his pocket. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” he adds as he shuffles out of the laboratory door.


Outside of the laboratory, the hot sun beats down on the back of the child’s exposed neck. Red dust billows in the winds alongside this desert route. Tufts of green grass, buried in a thin layer of dirt, line both sides of the winding path back to Hammerlocke, the town which the child has called home his entire life. Deep red and unforgivingly steep canyon walls loom in the distance.


The child takes a few steps down the path back home before stopping to catch his breath. He is still shaken up by the events in the laboratory. He fears that finding the fossils and bringing them to the scientist was a grave mistake. This Wild Pokemon is far beyond his control, and he can sense that the predator contains a primal rage that the child may never understand. A few salty tears drop out of the child’s wide eyes. He subconsciously rubs them away with the back of his hand, but he feels his lip quiver and form into a pout as the tears roll into a steady stream. He sobs uncontrollably, sinking to his feet and holding himself tightly.


A few minutes pass before his sobs lighten up and his breathing becomes regular. He lets go of the tight hold on his arms but remains seated in the middle of the dirt path. A strong gust of wind spits dirt into the child’s eyes, and he tucks his face into his arm sleeve until the breeze passes. The child reaches into his pocket and lets his fingers trace idly over the Pokeball. His feelings of shock and distress are relieved by his tears, but the fear he feels towards the predator persists. 


The child rises to his feet slowly, his sneakers dragging in the dirt as he gains his balance. He pulls the Pokeball out from his pocket and looks down at it. The metallic red sheen of the Pokeball reflects the sunlight back into the child’s eyes. He presses the button in the center, watches the Pokeball expand in his palm, and then hesitates for a moment before tossing the Pokeball at the ground in front of him.


When the flash of white light fades, the predator stands upright, facing away from the child. He swings his tail swiftly as his body rotates around to stare at his captor. The predator snarls and bares his razor sharp teeth at the child.


The child gulps dramatically, swallowing his fear into his chest. “Y--you’re my Pokemon now, okay? You have to do as I say.”


The predator snarls louder and chomps his beak.


“If you don’t listen to me, I’m going to put you back in your Pokeball and never take you out,” the child threatens. He holds the Pokeball out in front of him, aimed at the predator like a weapon. 


The predator hisses, his forked tongue flicking out between shivers. He doesn’t understand the child’s threat, but he sees the small sphere in the child’s hand and thinks back to when the sphere subdued him before his teeth would’ve sunk into the scientist. The predator’s eyes narrow, darting between the child and the sphere, but the predator remains still.


“Okay, good,” the child says. “Now, let’s find a wild Pokemon you can battle.” Keeping the predator in the corner of his eye, the child shifts his gaze to the trail and scans the horizon for a stray Pokemon. He lifts his spare hand over his brow to block out the sun and squints in the distance. The child’s face lights up when he spots something in the grass. “Over there!” he shouts and points with a stubby finger.


The predator follows the child’s gesture, though he too keeps an eye on the child. The predator takes in a deep breath and smells everything nearby. The salty sweat of the child is the strongest scent, followed closely by the iron-rich dirt in the wind, but the predator detects something else faintly in the distance. A sulfur-like smell that reminds the predator of the mud pools he would encounter in the jungle, the predator spots a small brown reptile slithering aimlessly across the ground.


“That Silicobra over there, we can go knock it out and start training,” the child says with a hint of confidence. The snake Pokemon scans the horizon and makes eye contact with the predator. Its dull green eyes and narrow, slit-like pupils widen out of fear at the predator’s appearance. The snake remains frozen in place, and the predator steps forward slowly.


“Okay, let’s see what you got!” the child shouts. “Use an ice move against it!”


The predator ignores the child’s command entirely. His attention is honed in on the snake, and he licks his lips in anticipation of his next meal. The predator rushes forward, but his awkward and unwieldy legs slow his sprint to a snail’s pace. The predator’s balance wobbles with uncertainty at each step, but the snake is still petrified in the center of the route. The gap between them is closing by the second.


“Use an ice move!” the child yells once more, but the predator lunges forward with all his might. His beak sinks deep into the snake. The snake hisses violently and squirms within the predator’s grip. The predator raises his head into the sky and whips his prey back and forth. The snake cries out once more before a loud snap is heard that echoes off of the canyon walls. It grows limp in the predator’s mouth.


The predator drops the snake at his feet and looks up, victorious. He hasn’t felt the rush of a kill in millenia, and even though his new body is bulky and awkward, his primal drive to hunt remains inside him. He turns back to look at the child, whose expression is horrified beyond belief.


“You... you killed it...” the child mutters beneath his breath. “You killed that Pokemon!” he screams. “You were just supposed to knock it out! How could you?!”


The predator understands none of the child’s words, but the predator notices that in the child’s hysteria, he has dropped the small red sphere from his hand. It has rolled a short distance down the path away from the child. The predator licks his lips once more. He is not satisfied by the sweet taste of the snake’s blood. He narrows his gaze on the child and imagines the taste of his tender flesh and delicate, fatty meat. The predator stomps his foot into the earth and charges back down the path towards the child, who stands frozen in shock, just like the snake that perished before him. His body remains unwieldy, but his stride has become more certain.


The child stands still far too long before he realizes what is happening. He blinks rapidly when he finally breaks free from his stupor, and his gaping jaw clenches shut. His empty hand reaches subconsciously into his pocket as if he left the Pokeball there before he realizes that it has rolled away from him down the route. Unbridled horror spreads across the child’s face.


The predator is gaining speed and power, and his heart races as he closes in on his second kill of the morning. He is frenzied for this massacre and can hardly keep from salivating. When the child is within a few short feet, the predator lunges off the ground with power, soaring through the air with his mouth aimed at the child’s fleshy throat.


Suddenly, the child slides forward to the ground on his waist, ducking beneath the airborne predator. The predator is shocked as his beak clamps shut around empty air. He crashes hard into the dirt behind the child and rolls even further away, spitting up a cloud of dirt with each successive impact. The predator is disoriented, but when he finally comes to a rest on the ground, he whips his head around to see the child standing directly in front of him. The child holds out the same red sphere in his hand, and he has more tears rolling down his cheeks than before.


“You’re an evil Pokemon. You just want to kill things.” The child rubs his eyes with his spare hand but keeps the Pokeball outstretched. “You... you don’t belong on this Earth. I’m... I’m sorry I brought you back,” he cries. “I should’ve never dug up your fossil, and I should’ve never brought you to this awful place. You... you should’ve stayed dead.”


The predator whips his neck towards the child and lets out a vicious cry in his final attempt to secure his prey, but the child tosses the Pokeball before the predator can reach him. Another flash of red light fills the desert air, and all that remains of the predator’s body is the imprint in the sand. 


The child bends over to pick it up and lets his tears drop into the dirt. He puts the Pokeball into his pocket and doesn’t let go of it, afraid to let it go in case the predator somehow escapes from his confinement. The child turns to look at the Silicobra, its tattered body oozing with crimson blood, and he lets out another muted sob.


“This is my fault...” the child mutters to himself. “This is my fault.” He rubs his nose and walks towards the Silicobra’s corpse. He pauses a few feet in front of the snake, but he turns away, unable to look at the Pokemon any longer. He stares off to the side of the route, looking down the deep, narrow canyon that follows the path back to Hammerlocke. 


The child takes the Pokeball out from his pocket and weighs it in his hand. “I... I can’t let you do this again,” he whispers. “I can’t let you hurt anybody like this anymore. You just need to go away and never come back.” The child looks for the deepest part of the canyon, so deep that not even the sunlight overhead can reach it, and he winds up his arm with the Pokeball in hand. He releases the Pokeball, and it soars through the air before bouncing off of the canyon walls as it descends to the bottom. The child hears a resounding thud that reverberates from the base of the canyon. He doesn’t know if the Pokeball is intact or if it broke into a million pieces with the fall, but all the child knows is that the predator will never be found again.


The child rubs his nose a final time, bends down to finally tie his shoe, then begins his path back to Hammerlocke.


...


...


...


...


...


This death feels different to the predator than the last.


...


...


...


He’s uncertain if he is dead at all, but he is suspended in a state of unconsciousness that he knows he will never wake from. All the predator feels is a rage that will never cease.


...


...


Rage, and an incurable shiver from his Frankenstein of a body.
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#2
@sambipom

/wave

Ohayo. Here we go!

Diction & Presentation – Intermediate

Right off the top, it's established that the apex predator's sight is not it's strongest sense, and that's fantastic because it allowed you to focus on the other senses to a much higher degree—and you delivered. Smells and sounds were great. I think my favorite non-sight detail was noticing that the nose drip was frozen.

The only real drawback here was that sometimes the visuals weren't exactly there, which fit the theme for the predator, but sometimes left me a little lacking on envisioning as a reader (this was mostly in the second half). It was also interesting that during the conflict between the predator and creature, and then the predator and the humans, the detail style switched to more visuals and less of the other senses.

Word choice led to it reading a lot like a nature documentary sounded, sort of like an unattached observer, which definitely fit the beginning half of the story in the prehistoric age, as an omniscient observer, but at the same time, it also seemed to narrow into the apex predator's point of view often. In the second half, this detachment made the child's reactions a little harder to connect with.

I much liked that the word choice for the predator was very consistent, since no Pokemon names were being used. That familiar keyword helped. The only time it was a little murky was when it was in conflict with the creature, since they were both often referred to as just those monikers—at times, in the same sentence. I had to slow way down and reread to make sure I was getting the action consistent with the right critter.

For the most part, connotation was also evocative of the right feelings. But there were also some instances where the word choice was slightly off for what was happening—and in the narration style the story had set up, I feel that's important. For example:

Quote:“You... you killed it...” the child mutters beneath his breath.

Mutters seems not the right reaction when he had been horrified at what he saw the line before. Muttering evokes a more annoyed connotation versus something like murmuring.

Grammar & Style – Intermediate

No problems grammatically! And you have a good sense of overall structure as well. The breaks where the fossil finally died and the slow breaks as it was revived are probably my favorite part in the whole story because you were able to portray a sense of time passing and drifting. It made it much more dramatic.

I think a few other parts of the story could have used that same style. Maybe not split up to the same extent, but split up for emphasis and to carry tension. Say when the predator was hunting its favorite prey and also when it fought with the creature, which I consider to be the main catalyst for the rest of the story.

In both of these instances, a lot of the approach, and then a lot of the action, happen in larger blurbs. But, especially with the lead up to the right at the waterfall pond, there was room for a lot of tension to build as the predator went from a confident haze to a panicked frenzy once the trap was sprung and he was attacked.

Using shorter sentences, more paragraph breaks, and one-liners like you did elsewhere in the story would have helped crank that emotion up even further. I very close to marking this as advanced, but because some of the action blurred together, and it was such a significant part of the story, I couldn't quite.

Another thing that may help is that your sentence construction mostly consists of Subject, Verb. That lends itself to the documentary narrative feel, but it can also read as slightly choppy, and it encourages sentences of similar length, which makes flow difficult.

Pokemon Integration - Advanced

This is a unique situation to write about, considering these specific fossils, so Arctozolt was definitely a key component to the story. Other than one of the other Galar fossils, another Pokemon couldn't have been as easily swapped out to follow the same plot line.

The fish out of water line, so to speak, worked well here based on how you set up the predator's character in the beginning, so nothing about it felt out of place when the timeline skipped ahead.

Character & Plot Unity - Intermediate

The plot is split just about evenly between prehistoric and modern time. Throughout this, I feel the main character of the predator stays very consistent. It keeps that primal mindset and therefore clashes with the new world.

The first half is very strong. I feel it's the humans that create a dissociation from the first half, which is an interesting theme in itself because the fossil is out of time, but it's not the same type of displacement.

The narrative still seems to follow the predator, but it's the human details that come across as out of place a little. Some of those details and explanations provided (like noticing hat color or sweeping hair back from face) seem like something the predator would either not notice, generalize, or not understand to the specifics they were pointed out in.

At the same time, the narrative is also looking closer into the boy's point of view too, but there are some observations that seem assumed or jumped to rather quickly. Since he's called a child, and from his mannerisms, he comes across very young. But he also makes observations and acts like a much more mature person very rapidly after those events happen. Like sensing the predator's primal rage or being more sad about the snake's death than terrified that he has a literal monster in his pocket. Dropping the ball off the cliff seems more like an act out of guilt than terror, which, for a ten year old who cowered at the scientist for the most part, doesn't quite measure up.

The parts that are the strongest are when the predator's observations are the forefront. Obviously, there had to be a human part, because it got sucked up into a Pokeball, and there also needs to be information for the reader. Perhaps a more distinct cut-off, like the fade out when the fossil died, would have helped the focus a little.

This was another category where the rank was on the borderline. I feel the narrative style is what made it slightly more complicated.

Omniscient is definitely a valid and popular style, but it's also tricky to make sure the narrative isn't too detached from the characters, which happened moderately here in the second half. Word choice needs to be very purposeful and consistent with regards to what information is included and what is left to interpretation so that there isn't a conflict.

Setting – Advanced

There were two primary settings here. The jungle in the prehistoric age definitely gave off a wild vibe and came across really clearly. For the second half, the canyon also worked, especially because you brought back things like the scent details that the predator picked up.

It was the lab bit where the scenery was a little absent. This is where a reader's pre-knowledge of the game works against them, because in-game it was just a machine out in the wild, whereas here you have it take place in a lab. But other than the mention of a couple machines, it was hard to get a good grasp on how big it was, where things were, or where the building was placed in context when the kid left.

Also, due to perhaps the omniscience, some of the details were also a little anachronistic to the predator, since it was portrayed as being noticed by him. Things such as metal or machinery he wouldn't know—those are more people details.

Dialogue – Advanced

Solid here. The child stuttering from lack of confidence or in the presence of (questionable) authority came across great. The scientist may have been a touch bit expository when going on about her colleagues, especially considering the predator wouldn't care, but that was pretty minor.

The words were also balanced with motions and reactions too.

In Summation

Overall rank: Complex!

This was a very fun story to read. I found the whole idea of what reviving an ancient dead Pokemon would actually be like to be fascinating, since they don't learn the new social norms that modern Pokemon would have (like not killing your opponents, just knocking them out).

I don't hate omniscient point of views, but I do find them less emotion-provoking than other styles if only because they're so tricky. But I think the story was solid, so Arcozolt is captued!

If you want to talk shop or have any questions, don't hesitate to hit me up!
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