The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 4 and 5 (Grade them as one chapter please)

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Thread: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 4 and 5 (Grade them as one chapter please)

  1. #1
    The Hyacinth Girl Alaskapigeon's Avatar
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    Default The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 4 and 5 (Grade them as one chapter please)

    To Grader:
    Pokemon aimed for: Zigzagoon
    Needed characters: 5000
    Actual characters: 6766
    Note: This chapter doesn't have a whole lot of action, but things will pick up soon. Also, to clear things up, this Alaska IS NOT supposed to be me. I'm incredibly self centered (Muahahaha) but not so much that I would write this particular story about myself. Originally, this story was going to be very different, but now, this Alaska and I are not the same. We are merely similar looking and have the same home town. Is that cleared up? Good.

    Warning: I say ass in here, so if you're not comfortable with ass, maybe you shouldn't read this. Or the last Narnia book.




    I tore through the wrapping paper like there was no tomorrow. Within seconds, I was covered in shreds of paper of every color, and my Skitty, Kiley, had something to play with. My hands were shaking as I opened the plain cardboard box and looked at the small red and white ball inside. It was a small, insignificant looking thing, but it could change my life forever. I picked up the ball and grasped it firmly in my hand.

    “Well, are you going to open it?” my mom asked me. She was smiling too, though there were tears in her eyes. She wasn't too happy about me going on my journey.

    I didn't bother to answer, instead, I pressed the button in the middle of the Pokeball, and dropped it to the floor. There was a flash of red light which quickly gained the shape of something familiar. The red light faded, and before me sat a small brown and cream striped Pokemon. Its hazel eyes were hidden behind a black mask-like patch of fur. It sniffed the air with its tiny black nose, and wagged its bushy tail. I grabbed it in my arms and hugged it. This wasn't just my first Pokemon, it was my ticket to adventure, to fame and fortune, to victory, and to a brand new life.

    “It's a Zigzagoon,” my mom stated obviously, “Do you like him?”

    The tears streaming down my face were answer enough.

    Both of my parents were smiling, but they seemed at a loss for words. Finally, I pushed a strand of dirty blonde hair out of my face and wiped my eyes.

    “What are you going to name him?” my dad asked.

    “I don't know...how about Bandit?”

    The wiggling mass of fur in my arms barked in approval and licked my face with a tiny pink tongue. My parents laughed.

    “Bandit, it is,” my dad said, “Are you going to open my present?”

    I nodded and set Bandit on the floor, much to the disgust of Kiley. She arched her pink back and hissed, though it didn't look very threatening coming from a Skitty. Bandit tried to sniff her, but she slapped him across the face with the end of her big pink tail, and trotted up the stairs to my room. I ripped through another package, with the help of Bandit this time, and found an array of trainer necessities. I saw several purple potion bottles, orange antidotes, yellow parlyz heals, blue awakenings, and green burn heals. In the middle of all the medicine, I saw five more red and white balls, though I knew these were empty. I grabbed all of the goods and stuffed them in the brown messenger bag I had along side me. I started to get up, but my mom handed me an envelope with a Pokeball-shaped seal.

    “What's this?” I asked curiously.

    “It's from your grandma,” my mom answered.

    I carefully slid my finger inside the envelope so that I could open it without ripping it. I looked inside and out fell five $100 dollar bills. I carefully slid them into my pocket.

    “You'll have to tell her thank you for me,” I said. I sighed as I got up again and headed for the door. I hugged both of my parents, and my mom started to cry. “Don't cry,” I said, “I'll be fine. Somebody's got to take care of Kiley. She's too snooty for battling.”

    That made my parents smile, but my mom still said, “Be careful,” before breaking down into more tears. I picked up Bandit in my arms and ran out the door. Better get out before they decided I should stay home another year. I ran down the road a little ways before I realized something: Unless I could catch a flying Pokemon, I would have to walk all the way to San Francisco. California was a big place, and that was nothing compared to the rest of the United States. I set Bandit down on the sidewalk.

    “Come on, buddy,” I said, “It's going to be a long walk.” Bandit looked up at me curiously and nuzzled the leg of my jeans. I patted him on the head and adjusted my black t-shirt. I guess I should've been sad about leaving Stockton. I had lived there for all fourteen years of my life, and yet....It had never felt like home.

    As I walked, I looked at all the houses and stores I had grown up around. I might never see them again. Luckily, I didn't live that far into the city and within ten minutes, I was out of the suburbs and into farmland. I walked past rows of grapevines and corn stalks for what seemed like hours. The only thing I could hear was the sound of my sneakers crunching gravel and an occasional car passing me by. I looked up at a road sign as I passed. It read “Sacramento: 45 miles north. San Francisco: 83 miles west.” I sighed. 83 miles to the first gym. A water gym. I would have to catch a grass or electric type, but I had no clue where to find one. A Pidgey chirped at me from the telephone wire above my head. I contemplated catching the tiny brown bird, but it flew away.

    I had heard before that pioneers had been able to go twenty miles in a day, but I had only gone about five, and the sun was already starting to set. I was barely outside of Stockton's city limits and I was already exhausted. I sighed again and found my way to a Motel 6. I shelled out thirty bucks for a room and led Bandit up the steps after we realized the elevator was broken down. I decided to take stock of my belongings.

    I had 1 brown messenger bag, 4 potions, 2 antidotes, 2 parlyz heals, 2 burn heals, 2 awakenings, 5 Pokeballs, 1 map, $3470 in cash, 1 change of clothes, and 1 trainer's card. It was reassuring to see that I had everything I would need. I laid down on a moldy looking bed. I couldn't see much of the room, because the lights and TV weren't working. Still, I couldn't help feeling as though things were getting better. Bandit jumped up on the bed and pushed his cold nose to my ear. I giggled and he ran in circles on the sheets for a few moments before laying down to sleep. That was when I discovered that Bandit snored. It was going to be a long journey.

    In the middle of the night, I got up to use the bathroom. When I was coming back from the toilet, I caught my reflection in the mirror. The only light was from the street light outside and I could barely see anything. Still, I noticed my eyes had change color. No longer were they the same bright blue eyes that I had always seen, they were now a deep, intense looking gray. I took a minute to look at the rest of my reflection. I had long, light brown hair that fell to right above my waist, a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt (Because I was too much of a dumb ass to remember to bring pajamas), white socks, and a trainer card sticking out of my pocket, reminding me that I was now fourteen and old enough to venture out into the world. I went back to bed and contemplated my change in eye color until I was almost back asleep. I took out my trainer card and looked at it. It was light green and had a picture of me. It said, Name: Alaska Parrill, Age: 14, Pokemon: Zigzagoon, Male. I had scribbled that last part in a few hours ago. My stomach grumbled. The granola bar I ate in place of dinner obviously hadn't satisfied my stomach. Right then, I had no idea that pretty soon, I would have to worry about something much worse than not having enough to eat. Pretty soon, everything would change.
    Last edited by Alaskapigeon; 8th July 2010 at 09:36 PM.
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  2. #2
    Trainer Ordinaire evanfardreamer's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 1: From Humble Beginnings

    Intro

    Your intro starts off with a colorful scene of a kid tearing into a gift. We’re also introduced to a playful ‘kitten’ that the main character may own; we see both the gift received and the obvious significance to the main character that the tiny orb has.

    However, what we don’t really see is the occasion. There may be any number of situations where wrapped gifts are appropriate; the most common would be Christmas and a birthday, the latter of which I believe the story is set during.

    I would definitely recommend having a bit more detail about the event in question; perhaps mention candles on a cake, or even nonspecific things like balloons (although some people may have balloons at Christmas, I’m not one to judge), something to help tie the event down rather than just a gifting.

    It is definitely well written, though, and the character introduction is well done; it just seems to be floating in time.

    Plot

    Ah, the beginning of a journey. It’s a somewhat common story theme; most writers then go on to have the target Pokemon be encountered, rather than describe the start of your adventure beside that Pokemon, so it’s good to see some improvisation alongside a tried-and-true technique.

    You also open up a few very interesting questions that don’t really get answered; I can understand somewhat, as they are a bit out of the scope of your story. For instance, the gym in San Fransisco is a nice touch; once it’s mentioned, then (anyone familiar with the US) can immediately see why it’s a water gym. What league is it part of? Is there only one league for the US, or are there multiples (just like time zones)?

    My only real problem with this part of the story is that nothing happens. I know that you said it was low on action, which can be okay – especially as part of a larger arc – it allows for more character development and plot exposition. However, something should still be accomplished by the story’s end; all that happens in this one is that he gets his starter and walks to a crap motel. (BTW: I will never stay at a Motel 6 again.)

    How to resolve that is going to depend on what you want to resolve. Do you want the focus of the story to be leaving behind a mundane life for one of high adventure? If so, I’d put more effort into describing how boring and bleak everything he passed was, and how much brighter his day got as he went farther away from what would have been a black hole. Would you rather demonstrate that the character is unflagging in his pursuit of a goal? In that case, I’d have a few more unfortunate events occur to him – simple things, like gagging on clouds of dust as cars blow past him down the highway.

    Overall, there isn’t a whole lot that can happen in a story this short, but I would still try and work in at least some tension to overcome. Otherwise, the story seems a bit unfinished.

    Dialogue

    Your dialogue is quite good, although there isn’t a lot of it; you seem to realize the importance of how someone says their words compared to what they’re actually saying. You took the time to point out that the mother was stating the obvious, cluing the reader in to more going on; that she was saying it as much for her benefit as for the main character’s, perhaps as a touchstone allowing her the illusion of some control over the situation that will lead to her baby leaving home.

    You also used, a couple times, modifiers to how the statements were said; for example,

    “What's this?” I asked curiously.
    This sort of thing can be an invaluable asset to description, like I stated just above this, giving us that window into how something is being said rather than just the words.

    Overall, there wasn’t that much to go on, but what you did have showed considerable promise; I’d try bringing out a bit more of this in future stories, especially ones less focused on action.

    Grammar

    Generally, good marks all around in this section; the only repeated problem I noticed was that you have a tendancy to run together sentences that should be different paragraphs. For example:

    I nodded and set Bandit on the floor, much to the disgust of Kiley. She arched her pink back and hissed, though it didn't look very threatening coming from a Skitty. Bandit tried to sniff her, but she slapped him across the face with the end of her big pink tail, and trotted up the stairs to my room. I ripped through another package, with the help of Bandit this time, and found an array of trainer necessities. I saw several purple potion bottles, orange antidotes, yellow parlyz heals, blue awakenings, and green burn heals. In the middle of all the medicine, I saw five more red and white balls, though I knew these were empty. I grabbed all of the goods and stuffed them in the brown messenger bag I had along side me. I started to get up, but my mom handed me an envelope with a Pokeball-shaped seal.
    This should probably be three paragraphs. The first would detail the actions of the jealous Skitty, ending when it trots up the stairs and off the stage; the second should go from the package opening to the end of describing the contents; and the third should be the rest. This helps delineate the focus of the actions, rather than being somewhat jumbled.

    It happened a couple more times; the second I noticed should have been between his reading the road signs, because everything prior to that is describing the journey, and his beginning to muse about what lay ahead of him; it lets the reader focus on what you are trying to express at the time.

    Detail

    Your detail is quite good. You use adjectives on important nouns, helping the reader to visualize exactly what you’re describing. It also helps immerse the reader in the story, because just reading about potions and antidotes isn’t as cool as icy blue potions and neon green antidotes.

    You had an interesting twist in describing the character at the end of the story, rather than the beginning; while it’s novel as far as a longer storyline goes, it makes things much more difficult for someone who only reads this one story. It’s offset by minor description, such as the color of the messenger bag, the hair hanging into his face, and the color of his shirt; but that’s all we have of the protagonist to visualize until the story is basically over. Just keep in mind for future stories that people may not have the benefit of reading all yours in order and getting everything they need as they go.

    Also:

    The wiggling mass of fur in my arms barked in approval and licked my face with a tiny pink tongue.
    Bandit jumped up on the bed and pushed his cold nose to my ear. I giggled and he ran in circles on the sheets for a few moments before laying down to sleep.
    D’aww. So kyooot.

    Length

    You underestimated the length; it’s actually just over 7k characters, by my count, definitely within the 5-10 range. Throwing in a bit more exposition would bump it a bit higher, but there were no problems here.

    Reality

    This poses an interesting question. While the games are based on locations in Japan, they always change the names of cities and rearrange things as needed; you, instead, seem to have ported a chunk of SoCal into the Pokemon universe, which is new. It would make sense to have American analogues of American locations (and since we’re lazy, we wouldn’t bother renaming them).

    I did have one comment, though; there’s not a whole lot that identifies this story as being Pokemon. We have the main char’s starter, his pet Skitty, a random Pidgey on a telephone wire, a handful of items and a gym in San Francisco. However, that’s basically it; if you were trying to portray a lack of wandering wild Pokemon since it was a fairly urban area, I would make mention of the lack, saying perhaps that he kept an eye out for X Pokemon but didn’t see any.

    Catching

    There was no battle in this story, unless you count Skitty using Tail Whip on Zigzagoon; there was really no capture, just a gift at the beginning of the story. I’m not sure how I feel about that, especially with a lack of other tension; from the Grader Info thread:

    Basically The main things to the story are plot and the battle. We’re all here to have fun.
    There was a lack of conflict of any sort in this story; it is through struggle that humankind really comes into its own. We are defined by the choices we make, or don’t make, and by the people that we interact with. I would definitely try and work in some sort of tension to future stories, and if you can’t do that in the length for the target Pokemon, make it as long as you need and work in another Pokemon. Make sure the story accomplishes something.

    Outcome:

    Last edited by evanfardreamer; 13th July 2010 at 07:05 PM.
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  3. #3
    The Hyacinth Girl Alaskapigeon's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 2: Hero or Villain?

    Pokemon aimed for: Mantyke, Bellsprout, and Poochyena
    Needed Characters: 15k
    Actual Characters: 43637

    NOTE: Apparently, Evan up there didn't realize that Alaska is a girl. xD She's a girl. Girl. GIRL. Got it? xD


    I awoke in the morning feeling briefly confused. Why was I in a dirty motel room with a bundle of brown fur dancing on top of me? Then I remembered the previous days events. I stretched and put on a clean pair of clothes. Today I was wearing a pair of jeans and a black band t-shirt. I slipped on a pair of scuffed up sneakers, grabbed my bag, and whistled for Bandit, my Zigzagoon, to follow me out of the room. Once outside the Motel 6, I realized that it was going to be a very warm day. It was only 7:30 in the morning and the sun was already burning away the damp mist that seemed to cover the Californian farmland every night after everyone went to sleep. I stretched and began walking west along the road like I had the day before. The only difference was today I had my thumb out. A trainer was traditionally supposed to walk the first day of their journey, but after that, they could get around however they wanted which included hitchhiking. Bandit happily nipped at my heels as we walked. Occasionally, he would wander a few feet off the road into a grove of trees to sniff the scent trails of other Pokemon. After a few hours of walking, a beat up blue Ford pickup pulled over. The man in the driver seat leaned over and rolled down the window.

    “Need a ride?” he asked.

    I couldn't see much of what he looked like, but I assumed he wasn't a serial killer. “Yeah,” I answered his question. Suddenly, I heard a car door open and bang closed and I realized the man must have gotten out of the car. Great, I thought, I'm going to be murdered less than ten miles into my journey.

    “If you want a ride,” the man called from the other side of the truck, “You'll have to earn it.”

    “This just keeps getting better,” I muttered to myself. To my great relief, when the man got around his truck, I realized he wasn't a man. He was a boy only a few years older than me. Still, he could possibly be a crazed ax murderer. I whistled to Bandit, but my hopes of him turning into an attack Pokemon disappeared when he ran forward and began licking the kid's shoes. I looked up and said, “What exactly do you have in mind?”

    He smirked and tossed his head, trying and failing to get his shaggy blonde hair out of his eyes. Immediately, I noticed he was wearing black sunglasses, a good way to avoid being recognized after committing a crime. That was an odd thought, I reprimanded myself. I realized I was being paranoid, which was...strange. Usually I was pretty cool, calm, and collected. Yet somehow I felt uneasy around this stranger. Somewhere deep inside of myself, I already realized something was wrong. “I was hoping for a Pokemon battle,” the kid said.

    I sighed and visibly relaxed. The kid raised an eyebrow. “Sure thing,” I said, “If I can get my Zigzagoon to stop licking your shoes.”

    The kid smiled and said, “If we're going to battle, I'd like to know your name.”

    “My name's Alaska. What's yours?”

    He smiled again. “I never agreed to tell you.”

    “No fair,” I complained.

    “Fine,” he said, “I'll tell you if you beat me. One versus one?”

    I nodded. The mystery trainer reached into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out a Pokeball. He pushed the button in the middle of the ball, causing it to grow from the size of a grape to the size of an orange. He threw the ball to the ground and said, “Go, Hades.” From the ball came a small black Pokemon the size and shape of a small Scottish terrier. It glared at me with deep amber eyes and growled.

    “Come here, Bandit,” I called. My fuzzy ball of brown and cream fur ran over to me and started barking excitedly. The Poochyena growled again and Bandit started whimpering. He shrunk down and looked fairly weaker than he had a moment before. I had a brief stand off with the mystery trainer before saying, “Bandit, Tackle!”

    “Poochyena, Howl!”

    The Poochyena took a deep breath and stared at the sky before letting out a long, mournful Howl. Its muscles tensed and I sensed that it had grown more powerful. Meanwhile, my Zigzagoon was tripping over its own feet as it ran forward. Finally, it collided with the Poochyena, knocking it to the ground.

    “Get back up and use Tackle, Hades,” the kid called. I noticed he was also wearing a black t-shirt, though his had an Atari logo on it rather than a band name.

    “Dodge it and use Tail Whip,” I responded. The black lap dog Pokemon ran towards Bandit and knocked him over before he could dodge. In response, Bandit whipped the Poochyena furiously with his tail. Suddenly, Hades didn't seem so tough anymore.

    Both Pokemon seemed equally worn out and I got the feeling that the battle would be over soon. “Tackle!” Both the mystery trainer and I called at the same time.

    Both Pokemon ran forward and collided with each other halfway across the battlefield. We waited for several seconds, but neither of them got up. The mystery trainer smiled and declared, “It's a draw.” He silently withdrew his Poochyena into its Pokeball.

    I pulled one of the potions out of my pack and sprayed Bandit with it. He began to stir and unsteadily got to his feet. I picked him up in my arms, which caused him to lick my face incessantly, before asking, “So are you going to tell me your name?”

    The kid smiled and said, “My name isn't important, but you can call me Hermes.”

    Now it was my turn to raise an eyebrow. “Into mythology much?”

    Hermes smiled. “Wait until you meet the rest of my team.” Without another word, he climbed into the cab of his truck and motioned for me to follow. I sighed and nervously climbed into the passenger seat. I slammed the door closed.

    “Where are the rest of your Pokemon?” I asked.

    “I don't let them out when I'm driving,” he answered, “There's not enough room in the truck.”

    “That makes sense. Do you let them out when your walking?”

    “Of course,” he said, “It's good for them.”

    I winced as the blue pick up roared to life. That's not an exaggeration. It roared like a Persian. Once my hearing returned, I realized that I was in for a bumpy ride. Hermes was the worst driver I had ever seen in my life. Once or twice, he swerved into oncoming traffic. Bandit cowered in my lap for the first hour and a half. After that, he finally got the courage to watch the landscape flying by outside of the window as we drove down the highway at 80 mph. The miles of farmland were quickly turning into rolling hills which in turn gave birth to groves of forest. I understood why you were supposed to walk the first day of your journey. It gave you an appreciation for the effort it took to follow your dreams all the way across the United States and then back to Washington DC. It would have taken me four or more days to walk to San Francisco. In Hermes truck, it took three hours.

    I had been to San Francisco before, but this time it seemed different...more exciting maybe. Even the damp fog that hung over the city couldn't dim my spirits. Out of the mist rose buildings, though that word doesn't do them justice. They seemed more like towering sentinels rising above the city. Thousands of people and Pokemon swarmed through the streets causing traffic to be at almost a stand still.

    “I'll find a parking garage to dump my car at for a few days,” Hermes said. He seemed nervous about something, but I couldn't figure out what.

    “You're staying in the city that long?” I asked.

    “Well,” he said, “I have some business to take care of, but I was hoping to stay with you most of the time.”

    “Really?” I was surprised. I barely knew him.

    “I know we don't know each other that well,” he began, “But I'm on my own journey. I'm less of a battler and more of a coordinator. I've been meaning to enter the US Contest Championships for a long time and I was hoping to find someone to travel with.”

    “Well I'd love to travel with you,” I said probably a little too quickly. I was excited to have a traveling partner, even if he was somewhat weird. “Where are the four contest halls?”

    “The normal contest hall is in Las Vegas, the super contest hall is in Houston, the hyper contest hall is in Boston, and the master contest hall is in Portland.”

    “That's good,” I told him, “Those are all near gym towns.”

    “That's why I was looking for a trainer to go with,” Hermes answered, “We could travel together without being rivals.”

    The car jolted to a stop and I looked around to see that we were in a dark parking garage. The floor we were on was mostly deserted except for a black Mercedes across the garage. A couple men in black suits were standing next to the car, whispering rapidly and occasionally looking at us. I hopped out of the car with Bandit and Hermes followed close behind.

    “Are those guys looking at us?” I asked him under my breath.

    “Of course not,” he said, but just the same, he reached into his pocket and pulled out six Pokeballs. He dropped the Pokeballs to the floor where they opened and bounced back into his hand. Six Pokemon appeared where Hermes had dropped the Pokeballs. I recognized Hades, but the rest of the Pokemon were new to me. Aside from the tiny black Poochyena, the rest of Hermes' Pokemon looked extremely powerful. He had a Salamence, an Aggron, a Charizard, a Feraligatr, and a Torterra. All of his Pokemon had violet eyes other than his Poochyena.

    “What's up with their eyes?” I asked.

    Hermes shrugged casually, though I saw surprise flash across his face. “They have contacts.”

    I looked at him in disbelief, one eyebrow raised.

    “What? I think they look cool. I haven't had the time to buy 'em for Hades yet.” I had never been good at spotting lies, but this one was obvious.

    By this time, the men in the black suits were aggressively walking towards us. Hermes snapped his fingers and his Pokemon moved into a defensive position around us. Hades and Bandit didn't join in, instead staying in the middle. The men in black suits were getting closer and I could now see details about their outfits. They were completely black and seemed to be made out of a skin tight fabric. They were wearing black pants and their shirts were black with long sleeves. On the shirt was a strange logo that looked like a moon eclipsing a sun. They wore black leather boots and their shirts seemed to have a hood built in. The hoods were pulled forward to cover their faces. Their hands were at their sides and I realized this meant they were concealing weapons. Wait, how did I know that? I turned around to see Hermes' hand was at his side as well, though he had a smile on his face.

    “How are you two doing? I haven't seen you in a while.”

    The men ignored his greeting and the one on the left said, “Cut the crap, Hermes. You're coming back with us right now.”

    The man reached for his pocket, but Hermes was faster. Before I could blink, he had pulled a small black handgun out of his pocket. BANG! BANG! Two bullet holes appeared in the chests of the black-suited men, but they kept walking. They hadn't even flinched in pain. Now they both had guns out. Hermes dropped his gun to the ground and put his hands in the air.

    “No need to get violent, boys.” Hermes' smile turned grim.

    “Too late for that,” the one on the right said. “We'll get to you later, but first, we should take care of your friend. You know these shields don't work, Hermes. They aren't powerful enough to stop us.” He turned the gun on me. Now I had my hands in the air. I was a pretty calm person, but I was on the verge of screaming, when Hermes let out a long, low whistle. Suddenly, his Pokemon went nuts. I heard one of the guns go off and I hit the ground. Hermes' Charizard roared in pain and then I heard screaming. After that, there was silence. I got up off the ground and looked to see who was still standing. Body parts were scattered all over the ground. The floor was slippery with blood. In the middle of the mess, sat Hermes' Pokemon, though I didn't see Hades or Bandit with them. Then it hit me.

    “Bandit?” I called on the verge of tears.

    I heard whining and felt a cold nose being pushed into my side. I sighed in relief. Now the only ones missing were Hermes and Hades. I felt a hand grab me around my neck and screamed.

    “Shut up,” Hermes whispered urgently. He picked me up carefully and set me on my feet. “I was just trying to make sure you weren't shot. I think the only ones who were hit were Ares and Zeus.”

    “Who?” I asked.

    “My Charizard and Aggron,” he explained.

    “They aren't hurt are they?”

    “They're fine. The bullets didn't hurt Zeus at all and Ares took the shot in his tail. They'll be okay.” I noticed Ares was chewing at his tail as if trying to remove something. I looked away and finally got a glimpse of Hermes. He was examining what was left of the corpses. There was a strange look on his face. Desire or longing...maybe pain. I didn't get it. He found the torsos of the men and looted their Pokeballs. They each had one.

    “Here,” he said and tossed me both of them.

    I held them gingerly, trying to touch the blood-stained Pokeballs as little as possible. “I don't want these,” I whined, “They belong to dead people.”

    “If you don't want them, leave them here to rot. I don't have room for them on my team.” Hermes shrugged. “Either way, we should probably get the hell out of here.”

    “Um, excuse me,” I said, “But I have no idea who the hell you are, other than that somebody is looking for you. Somebody dangerous. I'm just going to walk away and pretend I never met you.” I started to back away, but he grabbed my shoulder tightly and started pulling me towards the elevator at the other end of the garage. I looked down and saw the decapitated head of one of the black-suited men. The hood was pulled back and I could see that it had bright violet eyes.

    “Sorry,” he said to me, “But if I leave you on your own, you'll be killed.”

    “Can we at least take your car?” I asked when I realized I couldn't get away.

    “Apparently, it's being tracked.” He seemed to remember his Pokemon standing behind us and called all of them back except for Hades. “They're too conspicuous,” he explained.

    I rubbed my fingers against the Pokeballs in my pocket. “Should I check to see what their Pokemon are?” I asked.

    “A Mantyke and a Bellsprout,” he answered.

    My mouth fell open. “How did you know that?” I asked as he pressed the down button on the elevator.

    “I've known those guys for a while. They were never any good at raising Pokemon, so their Pokemon never evolved.”

    Ding. The elevator doors opened up. Hermes dragged me inside and Hades and Bandit followed us. The elevator seemed to be going exceptionally slow and I felt awkward.

    “So, er....Do your Pokemon kill people often?”

    “Occasionally,” he answered with no emotion on his face.

    “And you name them all after Greek gods, why?”

    He shrugged. “Their names are personal.”

    The doors opened again with a ding and Hermes pulled me out into a crowded street.

    “Look natural,” he told me, “We have to go buy some new clothes.”

    “How can I act natural?” I shrieked. “There are two dead people up there,” I said pointing to the top of the parking garage.

    “Don't attract attention to yourself,” he muttered angrily. I looked up to see a black helicopter flying over head and immediately felt paranoid.

    Hermes pulled me through the throngs of people and into a mall. I had been to this mall once or twice before, but I didn't really know my way around.

    “Follow me,” he said and lead me into a fancy looking store. “Go pick out an outfit quickly, then meet me at the counter.” He took off towards the men's department leaving me with my mouth hanging open. I heard whining by my feet and bent down to stroke Bandit. He nudged me with his wet, black nose and took off towards a rack of t-shirts. I picked out a black sweater and some nice jeans and headed towards the counter. Hermes was already there with a black dress shirt and black pants.

    “What took you so long?” he whispered as he swiped a black credit card.

    “That took me less than three minutes,” I whispered back furiously.

    “You'll have to get faster than that.” He smiled winningly at the female clerk who swooned and handed him the bag with our purchases. He grabbed my shoulder and dragged me out of the mall through a different exit and into a parking lot. “Pick a car,” he said.

    “You're joking.” He looked at me expectantly and I sighed. “How about the Volkswagen Bug?”

    “A Bug? Really? Out of every car in the lot....” Without another word he pulled a lock picking device from his pocket and shoved it into the lock of the sea green Bug. The lock popped open and he shoved me through the driver's door into the passenger seat. He threw Bandit and Hades in after me, then knelt on the floor and stuck his hands under the dashboard. Within a minute, I heard the car start. He climbed into the driver's seat, closed the door, and drove wildly out of the parking lot. “That was easy,” he said as he narrowly avoided colliding with a black mini van. The other driver honked angrily.

    “Are you for real?” I asked as Bandit whined in my arms. He sounded confused. So was I.

    Instead of responding to my question, Hermes said, “Take your clothes off.”

    “What!?”

    He shoved the bag of clothes at me and said, “Put on your new outfit.”

    “I don't want to get undressed-”

    “You won't be naked,” he said and nearly had a head-on collision with a semi truck in the other lane, “You have to be in your new clothes by the time we get to the Travelodge in approximately...” He looked at his watch. “...Three and a half minutes.”

    I was about to question his sanity, before I realized it wouldn't do any good and pulled off my shirt. I put on the sweater as quickly as I could. Then I replaced my old jeans with the new ones and shoved my old pair of clothes into the bag. I looked over and saw Hermes was already in his new outfit.

    “How did you get dressed that quickly?” I asked stunned.

    He shrugged. “You get used to it.”

    I sat shell shocked in the passenger seat until exactly three and a half minutes later when we came to a jarring halt in the Travelodge parking lot. It was almost empty and I looked around nervously for another black Mercedes, but I didn't see one. Hermes pulled me out of the car and into the motel lobby. Bandit and Hades must have followed us, though I didn't notice them.

    “I have a room under Jack Turner,” he told the receptionist.

    “One moment please,” she said and typed something into her computer rapidly. “Here you go,” she said and handed him a room key. I followed Hermes up the stairs and into a room with two twin beds before he said, “I have some explaining to do.”

    “Damn right,” I said and Bandit punctuated my answer with a growl.

    “Okay.” He sighed and looked intensely depressed for a moment. He got up and went to the window where he shut the blinds. He quickly walked around the room and started throwing open drawers and closets.

    “What are you doing?” I asked.

    “Looking for bugs,” he responded. When he finished trashing the room, he sat down on the end of one bed and said happily, “No bugs.” I glared at him and he sighed again. “Instead of trying to tell you everything, why don't you just ask a question.”

    My thoughts were racing a mile a minute and I couldn't decide what to ask first, so I settled on, “Why are you wearing your sun glasses inside in a dark motel room?”

    He smiled and said, “I'm not willing to answer that question directly.”

    I scowled and said, “Fine. Then here's my next one: Who in the hell is chasing us?”

    His face darkened and he said, “This is going to be a long answer, so get comfortable.” He kicked off his sneakers and stretched back. “In fact, why don't you let your Pokemon out and I'll do the same.”

    I almost asked “What Pokemon?” when I remembered the ones I had gotten in the parking garage. I reached into my pocket and pulled the tiny red and white balls out. I took one in each hand and pressed the buttons in the middle before throwing them to the floor. In a flash of red light, a strange weed-like creature and a manta ray popped out. Both looked at me quizzically and I noticed they had violet eyes that were the same color as Hermes' Pokemon's and the dead black-suited men's. Across the room, Hermes let his Pokemon out, though I didn't see Zeus, his Aggron.

    “Where's Zeus?” I asked.

    Hermes smiled again. “One question at a time.” He pretended like he wouldn't answer me for a second before saying, “If I let him out he would fall through the floor. He's too heavy. Besides, the room is crowded enough.” That was certainly true. Except for Hades, all of his Pokemon were very large. Hermes stretched back and said, “Now I guess I should tell you my story.” His eyes seemed to glaze over with the past and he said, “You may have heard of Team Rocket, Team Aqua, or Team Magma. They were all disbanded about twenty years ago and none of them ever achieved their missions of destruction. Since then, there have been many Teams that have arose from their ashes and then fallen again. One of these teams was Team Shadow. You may have heard of Shadow Pokemon. They were the inspiration for Team Shadow, though what Team Shadow did was much worse.”

    I opened my mouth to ask a question, but Hermes held a finger up to his lips before continuing.

    “When I was young and stupid, I joined Team Shadow. I didn't know what they were really up to. I just wanted to belong to something. Something bigger than my self.” He laughed. “I got my wish. You may be familiar with the creation of Shadow Pokemon. They are Pokemon whose hearts have been artificially closed. Not their actual hearts in their chests, but the section of the brain that controls the emotions we normally associate with the heart: Love, mercy, etcetera. The procedure is complicated, but it's not that different than a lobotomy. Anyway, the procedure made the Pokemon stronger, though it also made them harder to control and they had a more limited move range. Team Shadow decided the pros outweighed the cons and started manufacturing Shadow Pokemon. They stole their first Shadow Pokemon from the ruins of Team Cipher's labs, but after a while they learned to create their own. Eventually, the boss of Team Shadow decided to do something risky. He decided to create Shadow Humans. No one had any idea what would happen, and even the mad scientists that worked for Team Cipher were too afraid to try it out. However, Team Cipher's boss was ruthless. He recruited a batch of kids off the street to experiment on. They didn't know what would happen to them. They thought they signed up for a benign medical experiment. Just another way to earn money for their drugs. If they knew what would happen to them, they never would have done it. Not for a million dollars.” He paused to take a breath. “Are you still with me?”

    I nodded.

    “Good. Anyway, the procedure didn't work the same on humans as it did on Pokemon. It did make people more powerful and harder to kill and it also made them harder control. Shadow Humans had the same violet eyes that Shadow Pokemon had, and for a while, it was believed that they were the same. However, after a few weeks, Team Shadow began noticing that their human test subjects weren't reacting the way they thought. Specifically, they couldn't eat. No matter what food they tried, the Shadow Humans would vomit it up after a few hours. Several of their test subjects died of starvation. Eventually, some of the remaining Shadow Humans went crazy with hunger and killed one of the scientists examining them. Do you know what they did next?”

    “What?” I asked with wide eyes. Even the Pokemon were listening carefully, though Hermes' Pokemon probably knew the story.

    “They ate it. An hour passed, then another, then another. They didn't vomit it back up. It turns out that Shadow Humans can't survive on the flesh of animals. They can only survive on the flesh of other humans and Pokemon.”

    I felt bile rising in my throat. “So how did they feed them?” I asked, though I didn't really want to know.

    “They started taking people off the streets. Mostly people they knew no one would miss. Homeless people and stuff like that. It all worked fine for a while. Team Shadow had their super soldiers, no one 'important' was getting hurt, everything was peachy. Then, there was a breakout. About ten Shadow Humans escaped.”

    I stared at him in horror. “What happened?”

    “Well, for a while, the Shadow Humans were able to keep their hunger in check, but when they went into Hyper Mode....Well, random murders started happening. You might remember an outbreak of murders five years ago. The bodies were all mutilated and they thought one guy was doing it.” I did. “That was the Shadow Humans. Team Shadow realized they had to hunt down and kill the ten escaped Shadow Humans. They managed to kill nine, but there's still one on the loose.”

    I leaned in close. “Where is he?”

    Hermes face grew intense and he sighed. “I didn't want to move this fast, but....He's right here.” He removed his glasses and looked at me with shockingly bright violet eyes. They seemed far brighter than his Pokemon's or the dark-suited men's. I gasped and backed towards the door. Before I could even take two steps back, Hermes whistled and his Feraligatr blocked the door. Hermes eyes grew desperate. “You can't run away,” he said, “They'll find you.” He tried to grab my arm, but I recoiled in horror. Bandit stood by my feet and growled. My new Bellsprout and Mantyke came over to me and tried to look threatening as well. It would have been touching had I not been terrified out of my mind.

    “Whose to say being caught by them isn't better than being caught by you?”

    “Because....” Hermes seemed to hesitate. “They'll change you into a Shadow Human.”

    “Why? I haven't done anything wrong!” I nearly shouted.

    “Well, first of all, you know too much at this point.”

    “And whose fault is that?” I countered.

    He ignored me and continued, “Secondly, you're special.”

    That made me pause. “Special, how exactly?”

    “You can see our eyes.”

    “Why does that make me special?” I asked.

    “Most people can't. Most people think we have normal colored eyes when they look at us, or they can't look us directly in the eyes at all. In fact, er...it's rather embarrassing to admit, but when I picked you up, I was planning on killing and eating you.”

    I stared before saying, “What in the f-”

    Hermes quickly cut me off, “But, I noticed I was being tracked so I decided to drive you to San Francisco like I told you I would. I thought I could find a safe place to hide out there. I tried to lose the guys tailing me in that parking garage and when I sent my Pokemon out, you asked why their eyes were violet. That's when I knew.”

    I paused and tried to think of a question to ask. One horrifying one stuck out in my mind. “How often do you eat people?”

    He looked ashamed. “I try not to. I only picked you up, because I need to eat right now. The urge to feed was, and is, incredibly strong, and I didn't see any nearby Pokemon. Aside from that, humans are more satisfying than Pokemon. I couldn't help it. Usually, I have my Pokemon bring me back a Pidgey or some other common wild Pokemon. That's how I got Hades. I decided not to eat him when I realized he could see our eyes too.”

    “How did you know that?” I asked.

    “Apollo told me.”

    “Who?”

    “Oh. My Salamence. He can talk to me through a mind link. He mentioned that my dinner was yelling about odd violet-eyed Pokemon, so I didn't eat him.”

    I looked at the door where the Feraligatr was still standing. Then I looked to the window. “What's to keep me from jumping through that window right now?” I asked him.

    He shrugged. “Nothing, other than that a fall from two stories won't kill you and I'll just send Ares to pick you up. We wouldn't be able to take you to a hospital, so I'd have to try and fix any broken bones myself, which would be very, very painful for you. Also, your Pokemon might follow you.”

    I looked down at Bandit who was wagging his tail as though the idea of jumping out of the window was the best he had ever heard. I sighed. “So what now?”

    Hermes face brightened. “I was hoping you would ask that. I decided that the best thing to do was allow you to get your eight badges while we travel around the country. That way we could keep moving and if anyone got curious of where we were going, we could use the excuse that you're a trainer. In fact, I was hoping you could tackle the gym today.”

    “I'm pretty tired today, actually,” I said.

    “Well, we're leaving tomorrow, and since I'm not eating you, I better send one of my Pokemon out to catch me a Magikarp or something. I need to eat. I figure you don't want to be around to see that, so you might as well go challenge the gym.”

    “What if Team Shadow comes after me?” I asked.

    Hermes shrugged. “Take Apollo with you. Don't try to use him in the gym battle, though. He won't listen to you unless it's an emergency.”

    I looked at the red and blue dragon Pokemon and shrugged. I started walking for the door.

    “One more thing,” Hermes called from behind me, “If you try to leave this city, I'll have ways of knowing and I'll just tell Apollo to bring you back. Or if I can't reach him, I'll send Ares.” The orange dragon stared at me menacingly.

    I left the motel as quickly as I could and threw up in the parking lot. All four Pokemon that were with me stared at me strangely.

    “What?” I asked them. “You try hearing all that in under an hour and see how you take it.”

    Obviously, they didn't respond so I started walking. I knew the gym was on a pier next to the ocean, but I wasn't sure where it actually was, so I decided to see if I could find a map of the city. I found a convenience store and bought one. Looking at the map, I groaned.

    “The gym is all the way across town. Is there anyway you could fly me there?” I asked Apollo.

    In response, Apollo opened his mouth wide, revealing hundreds of sharp white teeth. He then hissed at me, filling my nose with the scent of rotting flesh.

    “Lovely. I'll take that as a no.”

    The walk to the gym wasn't that bad, honestly. It was just tiring. I had to struggle through huge crowds of people and Pokemon uphill and downhill for what seemed like miles. Eventually, I followed the map to a building that appeared to be a giant fish tank. It was completely made of glass and I could see water Pokemon swimming back and forth. I saw a gym sign near the entrance. I read it aloud.

    “San Francisco Pokemon Gym. Leader: Wesley, the Water-type master. Feel the power of the waves.” I looked at my Pokemon. “Okay. This will be Bandit's second battle, and your first battles with me,” I said to the Bellsprout and Mantyke, “Wait. Do you guys have names?” The Bellsprout and Mantyke shook their heads. “Who's too lazy to name their Pokemon? Okay, I'll start with Bellsprout.” I studied the grass Pokemon. It had a yellow, bell-shaped head and long arms and legs. It was basically a walking daffodil. “Hmm...how about Daffodil?” I asked it. The Bellsprout nodded excitedly. I looked to the Mantyke. It looked like a manta ray or some other sea creature, and it was a deep blue color. “I'll name you Bluebelle. Are you boys or girls?” Both Pokemon shrugged and tried to pantomime answers. Apollo sighed and then I heard a voice in my head. It was very deep and sounded ancient.

    <They are both females> said the voice.

    “Who was that?” I looked around and spotted Apollo. “Did you just talk to me?”

    Apollo rolled his eyes. <Maybe. Do you see another Salamence capable of Psychic powers around here?>

    I closed my eyes for a moment and said, “My life has gotten very weird in a very short time. I will never hitchhike again.” I opened my eyes and sighed. “Let's go.”

    The inside of the gym seemed much like the outside. The walls were made of glass and seemed to be thick and filled with water. Water Pokemon of all shapes and sizes swam around inside them.

    “Hello? Is anybody home?” The whole building seemed deserted. Then I heard a buzzing mechanical noise. I turned around and saw someone standing on a platform that was rising out of the floor.

    “Wesley is in the house!” Suddenly bright multicolored lights started flashing and loud music started playing. The man who had been on the platform stepped out of the shadows so I could see him better. He was wearing a blue satin shirt and tight black leather pants. He pulled a comb out of his pocket and used it to straighten his bleached blonde hair. He put the comb back in his pocket and looked at me. “Are you my challenger?”

    For a moment I was speechless, but then I said, “I think so. Are you Wesley?”

    The man nodded and snapped his fingers. Loud disco music started playing. “I am called Wesley. If you are my challenger, do you agree to a three versus three match?”

    “Sure,” I agreed, “Three versus three sounds fine. Any special rules?”

    “No. Are you ready?” Wesley asked me.

    “Um...okay.”

    “Then let's get this party started!” The multicolored lights stopped flashing and focused on Wesley. The water in the walls/fish tanks glowed different shades of blue and green. “Go, Tentacool!” Wesley pulled a blue Pokeball out of his pocket and threw it to the floor. In a flash of red light, an octopus-like Pokemon appeared. It had six black tentacles coming out of a blue squishy head with red spots on it.

    “I'll use Bandit,” I shouted. My Zigzagoon stepped forward and growled.

    “Use Wrap, Tentacool!”

    “Dodge and use Headbutt!”

    The octopus-like Pokemon's tentacles stretched out from its body and tried to wrap around Bandit. Bandit jumped over them and ran at the Tentacool. Right before he hit it, he lowered his head and struck it hard. The Tentacool flew through the air and hit a wall.

    “What powerful Pokemon you have,” Wesley said, “But I can do you one better. Tentacool, use Surf!”

    Suddenly, water started rising through the floor and for a moment, I thought one of the fish tanks had sprung a leak. Then the water gathered on the other side of the room and formed a large wave.

    “Uh oh,” I said before the seething wave came down on top of Bandit. The noise of the wave was incredible and when it sunk back down through the floor again, I thought Bandit was knocked out. Then, slowly, he got to his feet. “Yeah, Bandit!” I cheered. “Now use Tail Whip!” Bandit ran forward and hit the octopus Pokemon in the face with his bushy brown tail. “Follow that up with another Headbutt!” Bandit ran towards me, then turned around and ran back towards the Tentacool, preparing for another Headbutt.

    “Hit it with Poison Sting when it gets close,” Wesley yelled.

    As Bandit was just about to strike the Tentacool, the Tentacool fired a tiny stinger from one of its tentacles. The stinger struck Bandit in the forehead right as he knocked the Tentacool into the wall. The Tentacool was knocked out and for a moment Bandit barked happily. Then he whined in confusion. Suddenly, he started howling in pain and twitching on the ground. I sighed and called him back into his Pokeball for the first time since I had gotten him.

    “You're up next, Daffodil,” I said to my Bellsprout. She nodded happily and made a tinkling sound by shaking her head up and down.

    “Then I'll send out Luvdisc!” Wesley shouted. He reached into his pocket and threw another blue Pokeball. From this one came a tiny pink fish Pokemon. It seemed to be vaguely heart-shaped.

    “Use Vine Whip, Daffodil!”

    “Water Pulse, Luvdisc!”!

    One of Daffodil's vine-like arms shot forward and started to strangle the Luvdisc. The Luvdisc's mouth fell open and a jet of water shot out at Daffodil. A wave of sound passed through the water, causing Daffodil to flinch. Her arms sucked back to her side.

    “Use Growth, Daffodil!”

    “Sweet Kiss, Luvdisc!”

    Daffodil started to glow with a green light, and she started to grow bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Meanwhile, Luvdisc darted through the air and lightly kissed Daffodil on the side of her bell-shaped head. Daffodil made a wind chime-like sound in confusion. She stopped growing.

    “Now use Water Gun!”

    “Use Vine Whip again!”

    Luvdisc opened its mouth and a stream of water roared forth, hitting Daffodil head on. Daffodil let out a quiet moan and tried to use Vine Whip. As her arms shot forward, they grew tangled together, but she managed to wrap them around the Luvdisc and squeeze until it fainted. Wesley withdrew his Luvdisc with a scowl on his face. Daffodil's arms shot back to her side.

    “You've done well so far,” Wesley said, “But I have one last Pokemon. One I think even you will find a hard time defeating. Beware, you may faint in shock.” My heart pounded as he reached into his pocket for the last blue Pokeball. What kind of Pokemon could be inside? Was it a Gyarados? A Kingdra? He pressed the button in the center of the ball and dropped it to the ground. In a flash of red light, I saw...a Magikarp? The orange fish bounced around on the floor obliviously.

    “Your last Pokemon is a Magikarp?” I asked in a tone that betrayed my disbelief.

    “Yes. Why is that so surprising?” Wesley must have been just as oblivious as his Magikarp.

    I face-palmed. “Use Vine Whip, Daffodil!”

    “Splash, Magikarp!”

    The Magikarp began bouncing around Daffodil harmlessly. I almost felt bad as Daffodil strangled it until it fainted. With a deep sigh, Wesley recalled his last Pokemon.

    “It seems you have bested me, young trainer. In return, I award you this.” Wesley walked up to me and handed me a small circular badge. There was a small picture on it showing waves moving away from the Golden Gate Bridge in four directions. “That's the Wave Badge. It will cause Pokemon of higher levels to obey you and it permits you to use the move Cut outside of battle. Here's your reward money as well.” He handed me a one hundred dollar bill.

    “Thanks,” I told him.

    He smiled as I left the gym.

    “We have to find a Pokemon Center, guys,” I said to Apollo, Daffodil, and Bluebelle. “Do you know where one is?” I directed the question to Apollo.

    <If you take a right at the end of this street, you will be right in front of one.>

    “Er...thanks, Apollo.” It was still strange and surprising to have his voice broadcast into my head.

    I found the Pokemon Center and had Daffodil and Bandit healed while Bluebelle got a check up. Apollo growled menacingly when one of the nurses tried to examine him.

    “He's my friend's Pokemon. He's pretty shy,” I said apologetically. The nurse backed away slowly and spent the rest of our visit hiding behind the counter.

    <You wish I was your Pokemon.> Apollo told me.

    After an hour at the Pokemon Center, we were finally able to leave. Bandit was once again nipping at my heels as we walked.

    “Can we go back to the Travelodge?” I asked Apollo.

    He nodded rather than answering me with his mind.

    “Thank god,” I said and sighed.

    It took another hour to find my way back to the motel and by the time I got there, I was dead tired. My Pokemon all seemed to feel the same way, though Apollo was emotionless as usual. I climbed the stairs to the second floor and knocked on the door of our motel room.

    “It's unlocked,” I heard Hermes call from inside the room.

    I opened the door and saw him laying on the bed watching TV. His Pokemon other than Zeus were spread across the room. Hades was laying on his lap. Ares and Hermes' Feraligatr were sitting on my bed, which was creaking dangerously. Ares was carefully holding his tail against his chest so that his tail flame didn't ignite the whole motel. Hermes' Torterra was laying on the floor in the middle of the room.

    “How did it go?” Hermes asked me casually.

    “Oh, fine. I won,” I said and pulled out my new badge to show him.

    “Good. How did Daffodil and Bluebelle do?”

    That made me pause. “How did you know-”

    Hermes cut me off, “Apollo told me you gave them names. By the way, have you met the rest of my team.”

    “Um...no. I haven't really had time to meet them, seeing as we've either been in a tiny car or being attacked since I've met you.”

    Hermes laughed. “Nice. Anyways, you know Apollo, Zeus, Hades, and Ares.” The golden-orange Charizard looked up at his name. “And this is my Torterra, Demeter, and my Feraligatr, Poseidon. They're all male except for Demeter.”

    There was an awkward silence for a moment as we ran out of conversation topics. The TV seemed to be either incredibly loud or incredibly quiet.

    “So, er....How was your lunch?”

    Hermes looked over at me and raised an eyebrow. I didn't think he would answer, but he eventually said, “It was good. Ares caught me a Wailmer.”

    My mouth dropped open. I now noticed that Hermes' stomach was bulging out. “You ate an entire Wailmer?” I asked.

    He laughed. “Of course not. I shared with my Pokemon. Even though Shadow Pokemon can eat normal Pokemon food, it's healthier for them to eat other Pokemon. Fun fact,” he added when he saw my startled expression.

    He didn't say anything after that, so I tried to climb onto the foot of my bed without upsetting Ares or Poseidon. Ares glared at me, but Poseidon looked indifferent. Daffodil and Bluebelle sat carefully on the floor next to Demeter and Bandit jumped up on the bed next to Hermes and Hades. It was only four in the afternoon, but I drifted off to sleep almost immediately.

    When I woke up, no light was filtering in through the windows. The only light came from the TV that was still on. I was wondering why I was sleeping on the end of the bed before I remembered that Ares and Poseidon had claimed the rest of it as theirs. I groaned and rolled out of bed, contemplating going to find something to eat.

    “Are you awake yet?” I heard Hermes voice ask me from the other side of the room.

    “Yeah. I was just going to go get something to eat,” I told him.

    “Don't bother. I got you some McDonald's at about six. It's on the table by the door.”

    “Thank you.” I felt touched that he had thought to do that. Then again, he was basically kidnapping me. He at least owed me some food. “What time is it now?” I asked.

    “It's about two in the morning,” he responded.

    “Wow. I really slept a long time. Why aren't you sleeping?”

    I saw some movement in the dark and realized that he had shrugged. “I don't have to sleep much. I only need an hour a day. It's no use trying to sleep on a normal schedule, it'd be like if you tried to sleep for twenty four hours after a normal night of sleep. It's just part of being a Shadow Human I suppose.”

    I tried to find the small table in the dark and ended up tripping over Demeter who grunted. I found the McDonald's which was now cold and ate it as quickly as possible. I wandered back to my bed, this time tripping over Daffodil who didn't make any noise.

    I felt like I should do something nice for Hermes after he picked me up dinner, so I said, “I'll stay awake with you if you want.”

    I could see him smile through the dark, his teeth lit up by the light from the TV. “No, you need to sleep. We'll be traveling a lot tomorrow. You'll need your rest.”

    I tried to protest, but I cut myself off with a loud yawn. I took that as a sign that maybe he was right. I curled up at the foot of my bed and felt something nuzzle my side, though it wasn't Bandit like I expected. I opened my eyes to see Poseidon looking directly at me, his large alligator mouth pressing into my side. I smiled and patted him on the snout. He grunted in pleasure and I realized I was happy, truly happy. It was an odd feeling, one I had never before experienced. It seems odd to think that I would be happy in my current predicament, but I was. I drifted back off to sleep, scared and excited for what the next day would bring.
    Last edited by Alaskapigeon; 14th July 2010 at 11:23 PM.
    I speak four languages, help me practice please
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  4. #4
    Vampire Grader sorocoroto's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 2: Hero or Villain? (Ready For A Grade)

    Sorry about the wait, the document with all my notes got corrupted so I had to go through it again, but enough for excuses i know what you want: the grade!

    Intro:

    The intro did a nice job of re-introducing the character's quips and charms (which the story being in first person can really convey well). I don't think I really needed to read the first chapter to understand what was going on, which is a plus.

    Plot/Reality:
    Interesting take on the whole "real world" Pokemon or at least an American Pokemon story. It reminded me of some vampire stories I've seen (the whole eyes different color, feeding on taboo things, etc.). Though it was, at least for me, a little odd that the kid wants Alaska to go around with him as a sort of "cover" under a traveling duo. Cause, the two that the kid's Pokemon ripped apart (awesome btw) found him relatively quick, so why draw attention to themselves? But I get it somehow, but still its somewhat odd.

    Details:
    Nicely detailed, small little things alaska notices that become important later on was nice. Though, some of the Pokemon could have been more detailed, like what Charizard looked like after the "battle" in the parking lot (all ravaged from ripping the men to shreds would have been gory, yet detailed and make the reader not at ease more with this character).

    Some details seemed like mistakes, or at least like little things you missed:
    The boy was wearing sunglasses, but Alaska could see an eyebrow raise across a "battlefield" distance. It could happen, but it was one of those things that caught my attention.

    Eventually, the boss of Team Shadow decided to do something risky. He decided to create Shadow Humans. No one had any idea what would happen, and even the mad scientists that worked for Team Cipher were too afraid to try it out. However, Team Cipher's boss was ruthless. He recruited a batch of kids off the street to experiment on.
    It seems like the second "Team Cipher" was supposed to be refering to "Team Shadow." Small things like this you gotta be careful of.

    Also, Bellsprout and Mantyke seemed perfectly find after being taken by people that killed their masters. It would have been an interesting dynamic for Alaska to deal with these two upset Pokemon, trying to tell them that their masters were evil people, etc, until finally joining her side.


    Grammar:
    This section I won't point out every little thing like I usually do (partly cause I lost most of it and felt that you've been waiting long enough and partly because I feel like you'd find out multiples of the mistakes I will point out).

    “Yeah,” I answered his question.
    "I answered" either refers to "Yeah" or "his question" but with the way you punctuated, it seems like both, but with dialogue, it can't be both. You either answer, "Yeah" or you answer "his question." So to best fix this would to change the comma into a period.


    “If you want a ride,” the man called from the other side of the truck, “You'll have to earn it.”
    Since the dialogue tag is acting upon both the dialogue before and after it (as the second comma suggests), "You'll" should be "you'll" as it is really apart of the same sentence.

    Sometimes you separate words like "mini van" and "stand off" when they are really just one word: "minivan" and "standoff."

    Also, there are times where it would make more sense to use the lowercase version of an attack name, since it is describing an action. For example:
    “Poochyena, Howl!”

    The Poochyena took a deep breath and stared at the sky before letting out a long, mournful Howl.
    It's like describing a word by using the word in the definition. The bold "Howl" would make more sense as a lowercase "howl." since its describing the action of the move, instead of just repeating the move again.

    Since then, there have been many Teams that have arose from their ashes and then fallen again.
    Have "arisen"

    Whose to say being caught by them isn't better than being caught by you?”
    "Who is" = "Who's"

    But Overall the Grammar was good.

    Battle/Apex/Turning Point:
    Gym Battle was fairly paced (being the first gym it was bound to be unchallenging). It even had humor at the end with the Magikarp. The moves were described well, including the reactions to each attack which most people forget so good job!

    Length:
    It didn't seem like it was too long for a three Pokemon attempt. I was more focused on the story though, which is good. It was nicely paced and had interesting plot twists. +1

    Personal Feelings:
    Interesting story so far. I'm kinda expecting for a kinda Twilight dynamic (but you know, with a lot more action and less whiny main characters :P).

    Conclusion:
    Intro: Always good when you don't need to spoon-feed the reader on what happened last time
    Plot/Reality: A bit of unsureness with the whole "i'm going to protect you so go get gym badges" thing but not enough to really drag the grade down.
    Details: You really just need to watch out of little slips of titles and finer details, but for 3 simple pokemon, it is fine.
    Grammar: Watch contraction words and Move Titles vs move details.
    Battle: Fine for the first gym leader
    Length: More than enough character wise, but still a good unoverbearing read.

    Verdict:
    Last edited by sorocoroto; 17th August 2010 at 08:41 PM.

    "A vampire with a soul? Oh my God ... how lame is that?" - Buffy Summers [S6x08]

  5. #5
    The Hyacinth Girl Alaskapigeon's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 3: Changes Inside and Out FOR THE SWC

    YOU SHOULD READ THE OTHER CHAPTERS FIRST. ALSO, THIS IS FOR THE SWC.

    Pokemon: Kangaskhan
    Characters Needed: 30000
    Actual Characters: 46122



    “Get up! We have to go, now!” I heard a voice yelling in my ear. It took a minute before my sleepy brain could comprehend the words being thrown at it. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes.

    “What's wrong?” I mumbled.

    “Look at the news!” the voice screamed again. My eyes opened and I found my face shoved in front of a television. I tried to listen to the news reporter's voice.

    “This next story contains disturbing images and videos, so if you have young children present or have a weak stomach, you might want to change the channel.” There was a brief pause and then, “We have word that two mutilated bodies were found in a parking garage in downtown San Francisco. Judging by the state of the bodies, it is thought that the mystery killer that murdered over seventy people between 2005 and 2007 is back. Let's go to our roving reporter at the scene.”

    My eyes were now huge as the image changed from a television news studio to a dimly lit parking garage. The new reporter started talking. “The two murder victims were found in this parking garage around six hours ago. Their bodies were found torn to pieces and at first, their death was blamed on a gang of wild Pokemon, but even though the bodies were covered in tooth and claw wounds, there were also gun wounds in both victims' chests. Judging by what was left of the men's outfits, they are affiliated with some sort of gang, though no other members, family or friends have stepped forward and identified the men. It appears that the bodies of the men were partially eaten and both human and Pokemon saliva were found on the bodies. Though saliva samples were found, they were too small to retrieve DNA from.”

    Hermes shut the TV off and said, “That's why we have to go now.”

    I noticed that the only Pokemon in the room were Hades and my three Pokemon. I assumed that Hermes had called his larger Pokemon back to their Pokeballs. Quickly, I did the same.

    “Sorry, guys,” I said as Daffodil and Bluebelle disappeared in a flash of red light. I grabbed my bags and said, “Let's go.” I opened the door and started to run down the hallway when Hermes grabbed my shoulder.

    “Don't run,” he said, “It will draw attention to you.” I didn't understand how he could walk so calmly when we were in such a hurry. I was scared witless and trying to be calm was killing me. I felt like I was about to have an anxiety attack. Bandit and Hades didn't appear to be upset at all, however. The dog and raccoon Pokemon were happily chasing each other up and down the hallway as we walked. Finally, we got to the front desk where Hermes checked out (Still calmly). We walked outside the building and Hermes turned to me.

    “Now we run.” Before I could say anything, he had taken off towards our car, a stolen sea green Volkswagen Bug. I followed him as quickly as I could with Bandit and Hades on my heels. I opened the passenger door and threw Bandit and Hades in before jumping in myself. Hermes was already in the seat next to me.

    He smiled. “You're getting faster,” he said as he started the car and started driving insanely through the parking lot.

    “Aren't you worried you'll get pulled over?” I said, trying to put on my seat belt as the car swerved back and forth.

    “Nah,” Hermes answered, looking as calm as he usually did, “I have connections.”

    I was too freaked out to ask any more questions until we were safely away from the city. As we passed the 'Thank You, For Visiting San Francisco' sign, I couldn't help sighing in relief. Hermes' driving was slightly less erratic now that there were less cars on the road.

    “Turn on the radio,” Hermes said as he tried (and failed) to pass the red Honda Accord in front of us. I did as he asked, fearing that if I didn't he would try to do it himself while driving. A classic rock station came on and I went to change it, but Hermes pushed my hand away and said, “Don't diss the classics.” He turned the volume up so that we could hear what song was on. It was an old Eagles' song, Take It Easy. Hermes started to sing along. “Well I've been roaming down the road, trying to loosen my load, I got seven women on my mind, four who wanna hold me, two who wanna stone me, one 'cause she's a friend of mine, take it easy, take it easy, don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.” I stubbornly refused to sing along at first, but eventually, I was also belting out classic rock songs.

    Half way through “Layla”, Hermes interrupted me to ask, “Where's the next gym?”

    “Los Angeles,” I said during an instrument solo.

    Hermes eyes grew wide behind his glasses and he said, “Oh, shit.”

    I was about to ask what was wrong when the car swerved across six different lanes.

    “We almost drove to Topeka,” he explained when I was done hyperventilating.

    “Why can't you drive like a sane human being?” I asked.

    “Because I'm not sane, nor am I entirely human.” His face seemed to fall at his own words.

    “I'm sorry,” I said.

    “It's okay.” For a few minutes, we were driving in silence, both of us too depressed to sing along to the radio. Finally, Hermes said, “You can ask some more questions today if you want.”

    “I don't know,” I said sheepishly, “I'm still trying to take in everything I heard yesterday. I am curious though....” I trailed off.

    “What?”

    “Well...those Team Shadow members from yesterday...what did they mean when they told you to stop trying to use shields? I think they were talking about me, right?”

    Hermes' face grew very pale and I was worried I had upset him, before he said, “I have traveled with others before. Three others, actually. They were all like you in that they could see Shadow Humans and Pokemon. All three were girls, all three had special...powers, for lack of a better word, and all three are now dead.” He looked over at my stunned face and said, “Don't worry. I won't let anything happen to you. I won't let anymore people be hurt because of me.” His eyes grew unfocused.

    I searched for something to say. “Did you all find them the same way you found me?”

    He laughed. “No. The first one I found while I was actively hunting. Back then, my only Pokemon was Ares. He was still a Charmander, so he wasn't much help. I found you when I was passively hunting, which is a bit different. Passive hunting is when I see something or someone while traveling that seems like it might be a good idea to try to catch. Active hunting is when I track something or someone down purposefully. Anyway, I was about to kill her when she said, “Why are you doing this? Your eyes don't look dangerous.” I didn't understand what she meant, but when she mentioned my eyes it made me curious, so I asked her what color she thought they were. She told me they were violet, so I took her with me. She lasted three days before I broke down and killed her. The urge was too strong and I couldn't control myself. After that, I thought I was a monster, so I tried to kill myself.” He pulled down the collar of his shirt with one hand and I could see that there was a scar across his neck. “I tried to slit my throat, but I wouldn't die. I sat there bleeding for a while until I realized the bleeding had stopped. I thought I hadn't cut deep enough, so I tried to slit my wrists.” He showed me the underside of one arm. A huge scar ran from his wrist to the inside of his elbow. “It should have killed me, but it didn't. Finally, I tried jumping off the roof of a hotel I was staying at. I fell ten stories and landed face first. I got away with nothing worse than a sprained ankle from hitting the ground at a weird angle. Once I realized I couldn't kill myself, I became a kind of vigilante. I started killing off Team Shadow members, as well as members of other evil organizations. That's how I met the second. She was a member of an obscure team from the southern United States. I can't even remember the name. I killed her partner and I was about to kill her when she said something about how her boss would kill for my violet-eyed Pokemon. By then, I had gotten sunglasses, so she couldn't see the color of my eyes. I took her with me and she died two weeks after I found her when she was shot by a Team Shadow member I was tailing. After that, I became incredibly depressed. I tried to kill myself again, this time by hanging myself at a hotel I was staying at, when a maid walked in the room. She talked me down and mentioned that someone with eyes as lovely as mine had no reason to kill themselves. My sunglasses had fallen off while I was preparing to jump, so she could see my eyes. She died a year later after being attacked by an ex Team Rocket member's Garchomp. We had been following a trail that Team Rocket had been rising again. I didn't find anyone who could see my eyes for another two years. Then I found you.”

    He seemed as though he was sinking into a deep silence, but before he could, I asked, “What did you mean powers?”

    He sighed. “I probably shouldn't have said that. Other than being able to see my violet eyes, each of them had a power. The first was able to talk to Pokemon. The second could kill people with her mind. The Team Shadow member that shot her dropped dead thirty seconds after she did. The last was able to manipulate fire, water, and other elements. Those men I killed called them shields, because even though I wasn't around any of them for very long, they all saved my life several times. Not that it's easy to kill me, but it is possible.”

    “I don't have any powers,” I admitted.

    “The others didn't at first either. They gradually showed up over a few days. The first didn't even realize she had her power until two hours before her death.”

    I thought about that for a minute. This was the second day I had been near Hermes. Would my powers be showing soon? Then I thought of another question. “Why do you refer to them as first, second, and third? Don't you remember their names?”

    He nodded. “They had names, but...it's painful to think them in my mind.”

    “Could you please tell me?” The entire road was deserted now, so I could push on without fearing that he would accidentally cause a pile up.

    He hung his head and a single tear flowed down his cheek. He took off his sunglasses and wiped them off on his shirt, revealing his violet eyes to me for the second time. They were full of tears and I regretted asking him so many questions. “The first was named Jessica,” he took a deep breath, “The second was Maylene,” his voice trembled, “And the third was named Kotori.”

    I felt terrible that I had pushed Hermes so far. “I'm sorry,” I told him and placed my hand on his shoulder. He flinched under my touch before relaxing.

    “You should be careful about touching me,” he said, “I'm okay right now, because I ate last night, but if you had touched me while I was hungry...it might have ended badly.”

    I quickly withdrew my hand. Hermes reached forward and turned up the radio again, though neither of us felt like singing anymore. I felt something wet touch my hand and I looked down to see Bandit licking my palm. It made me feel better, but not by a lot. I couldn't help wondering: Would I be known as the fourth someday? In some other far off place, in some far off time, in some far off car, would Hermes be telling someone about my death? Would I be just a name and a power. Or not even that. I'd never felt special, like I could do anything exciting. I tried to think of a question that wouldn't upset Hermes so much.

    “How old are you?” I thought that would be a pretty safe question.

    “Depends,” Hermes said, “My body is sixteen, but I'm technically twenty one.”

    “You don't age?” I asked incredulously.

    Hermes shook his head. “No, I age, but I age at one fourth of the speed you do, so, if I can avoid being killed for long enough, I should be able to live somewhere between 280 and 400 years.”

    I stared at him in disbelief. “I was trying to find a question that you might have a normal answer to.”

    Hermes smiled grimly. “Good luck with that.”

    “Fine. I'll find a question you can answer normally.”

    Hermes was laughing now, which was actually frightening, because it made his driving worse. “Bring it on,” he replied.

    “Okay...I've got one. What's your favorite color?”

    “No fair. There is no weird answer to that question, but the answer is violet.”

    “Really? Why?”

    “Well, maybe it's not for the better, but my life has been changed by what's happened to me. The color violet is a reminder of that to me. Also, I just always liked violet. What's your favorite color.?”

    I thought about it for a moment. “Gray.”

    “Gray? That's kind of boring, isn't it?”

    “Not to me. I like gray because it's a soft color. It feels calm and safe. It's like the ocean on a rainy day or an overcast sky. They can be either beautiful or depressing depending on how you look at it. Gray is two opposites combined: black and white. I've always felt like two opposites combined too.”

    “How do you mean?” Hermes looked interested now.

    “Well, I've always felt like a mixture of everything: brave and cowardly, sinner and saint, hero and villain, beautiful and ugly, the list goes on.”

    “How are you a villain?” Hermes asked me.

    “I....It's kind of personal.”

    “I've answered all of your questions.”

    “Fine. Sometimes I have these weird flashbacks. I don't know what they are, but sometimes I remember right before I fall asleep, I have images....I don't understand what they are, but in them, there's me, but not me. I'm usually a Pokemon or a different person, but I hurt people or do...other things. I don't really want to talk about it anymore. I try not to think about it.”

    “So that crosses two off,” Hermes mused, “Sinner and villain...how are you a hero?”

    “It's the same as the above. Sometimes the people I hurt in my flashbacks, I hurt them to protect someone or something. I don't know what, I can never see what it is.

    “Well, there goes two more. Lots of people can be called both brave and cowardly, so I don't feel the need to ask about that. That leaves beautiful and ugly. I can understand that you're beautiful, but what's ugly about you.”

    I blushed. “Lots of things. When I said that I didn't mean my appearance for either of them. I'm not beautiful on the outside, but I'm not really ugly either. I guess on the inside I'm beautiful and ugly, but then again, so is everybody.”

    We sat in silence for a moment, which was made awkward when Hermes slammed on the brakes to keep from rear ending an orange jeep in front of us.

    “Can I ask you a question?” Hermes finally said.

    “Uh, sure, but I'm not that interesting.”

    He smiled for a moment before frowning again, “Do you hate me?”

    That threw me for a loop. Did I? He had kidnapped me more or less, but then again, I was the one who had gotten in his truck. He was originally planning on killing me, but he had ended up saving my life. Even though we had only known each other two days, he felt like a friend. Also, he was giving me a ride across the country. So did I hate him? Before I had a chance to say anything, Hermes took my silence as an answer.

    “I understand-” he started, but I cut him off quickly.

    “No.”

    Now he looked confused. “No?”

    “No, I don't hate you.”

    Hermes still looked confused. “That's...odd. I thought you would.”

    “Well....You did kidnap me and you were planning on killing and eating me, but then you saved my life and helped me find two new Pokemon. You are also giving me a free ride across the country, which is pretty nice. And...I think we're friends. Maybe. I can't really tell.”

    Hermes looked relieved. “Sorry for planning on eating you. Still, have you ever told a chicken 'sorry for eating you'? It's just how I survive.” Before I could argue, he continued, “Also, yes we can be friends. Or at least we can try. I don't know how much you'll want to be around me by the fourth or fifth time I endanger your life.”

    We fell into silence again. I saw a sign flash by: Los Angeles 300 miles. It would have taken me fifteen days to walk to Los Angeles from that point, maybe longer. In Hermes' truck, we would get there in five or six hours. Faster if he kept driving like this. Amazing. Suddenly, Hermes face turned from thoughtfulness to fear.

    “Shit,” he said.

    “What?”

    “Look behind us.”

    I turned around and saw a black Mercedes right behind us. The windows were tinted, so I couldn't see inside. I could only see the car for a moment, because our car suddenly swerved down a ramp. I felt the car jump into the air and then hit the pavement again. Hermes started racing down side roads, trying to lose the Team Shadow car. Finally, he slammed down on the brakes and parked in a field behind some buildings. Cursing, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a handgun. The black Mercedes pulled up along side us and two Team Shadow members jumped out. They were wearing almost the same outfits as the other two, except that their uniforms didn't have hoods. As they came closer, I saw that one was a guy and the other was a girl. They both had long black hair and violet eyes.

    “The boss is real pissed at you, Hermes,” the girl said, “You killed Set and Apophis. It would've been bad enough if you had only killed a couple of grunts, but you made a big mistake.” The girl pulled a gun out of her pocket at the same time that the guy did.

    The guy cocked his gun and said, “Who's the girl? I'm surprised you haven't killed her yet. I think your record is a year, but I've always thought that was a fluke.”

    Hermes' face was black with anger. “Shut your mouth, Loki.”

    The man I assumed was Loki smirked. “Aw, did I strike a nerve? I know you only personally killed one of them, but all of their deaths were your fault. Did you enjoy it? It might hurt, but you know you loved it somewhere in your sick little mind. You liked watching them die. It's part of who you are, Hermes.”

    Hermes gritted his teeth. “I told you to shut up, Loki.” Hermes pointed his gun at the man and started to squeeze the trigger. Loki quickly pointed his gun at me.

    “Not so fast, Hermes. You might shoot me, but we both know that won't do any good until you've put at least ten bullets in me. Even then, I'll just be feeling a little woozy. By that time, she'll be dead.”

    Hermes pointed the gun away from him. “Fine. Then we'll have to settle this another way.”

    The woman snorted. “There's no 'settling this'. You're coming with us, or your friend dies.”

    Hermes looked like he was beaten for a moment, before he smirked. “I'll tell you what. We'll have a Pokemon battle. If you win, I'll go with you peacefully and I'll give you information. The locations of missing agents, fuel for creating more Shadow Humans and Pokemon, things like that. If we win, you have to go away and never come back.”

    Loki and the woman seemed to think for a minute. Finally, Loki said, “No deal. If we win, not only do we get you and your information, we also get her.” He gestured to me.

    “Why do you want me?” I spoke up. Hermes glared at me, but Loki chuckled.

    “You don't know? I guess Hermes hasn't thought to tell you. We want you because those who can see the eyes of Shadow Pokemon and Humans make stronger Shadow Humans themselves. In addition, I'm sure you have some sort of power like all of Hermes' shields do. Too bad they never seem to live long enough for us to catch them. We want you and we'll do whatever it takes to get you. In any case, is it a deal Hermes?”

    “Yes,” Hermes said. He looked like it hurt him to say it.

    “Very well.” Loki reached into his pocket and pulled out a solid black Pokeball. “Go, Blastoise!” The black Pokeball hit the ground and a large blue turtle Pokemon appeared. Two cannons seemed to be coming out of the turtle's shell. I looked closely at the Blastoise and noticed it had violet eyes.

    “Go, Demeter!” Hermes threw a Pokeball and out popped his Torterra. Demeter also looked like a turtle, though she was green and brown and had vegetation growing out of her back.

    The girl next to Loki smiled and pulled out a black Pokeball. “Go, Pidgey!” The Pokeball opened and in a flash of red light, a small brown and white bird Pokemon with violet eyes was revealed.

    Hermes looked furious. “You didn't say this was a double battle!”

    The girl smiled. “We never said it wasn't.”

    I narrowed my eyes. “Go, Bluebelle!” I pulled her Pokeball out of my pocket and dropped it to the ground. My blue and white manta ray Pokemon appeared and floated into the air as if it was water.

    “Razor Leaf, Demeter!” Hermes called.

    “Hydro Pump, Blastoise!”

    “Wing Attack, Pidgey!”

    I paused and tried to think of one of Mantyke's attacks. “Use Bubblebeam, Bluebelle!”

    Across the field, leaves shot out of the foliage on Demeter's back. Blastoise howled in pain as the leaves struck him, leaving deep cuts all over his body. In response, twin beams of water shot out of the cannons on Blastoise's shell, knocking Demeter to the ground. The girl's Pidgey flew forward and struck Bluebelle with it's wings before Bluebelle could attack. The attack didn't seem to do much damage and Bluebelle opened her mouth, allowing bubbles to shoot out incredibly fast and strike the Pidgey. The Pidgey winced in pain.

    “Stand up and use Earthquake, Demeter!”

    “Withdraw, Blastoise!”

    “Gust, Pidgey!”

    “Agility, Bluebelle!”

    The entire ground began to shake and I looked across the field to see Demeter gripping the earth with her feet, a mad glare in her eye. Loki's Blastoise pulled itself into its shell just in time, because a split second later, a boulder dislodged by the Earthquake struck it on the back. Where the boulder had landed was a huge dent. I turned my eyes back to my battle against the other Team Shadow member and was thankful that Bluebelle was a flying type, and therefore immune to the Earthquake. The Shadow Pidgey began to flap its wings, while Bluebelle spun around the field at incredible speeds. The Pidgey's wings began to flap faster and faster, finally creating a mini tornado that struck Bluebelle and almost knocked her to the ground.

    “It won't take much to finish that Mantyke off now, Pidgey! Just use Tackle!”

    Bluebelle looked weak and my mind seemed to go blank as the Shadow Pidgey hurtled toward her from across the field. “Bounce!” I screamed. Bluebelle seemed to summon up all of her strength and bounce up off the ground. A split second later, the Shadow Pidgey flew through the space where she had been only a moment before. The Shadow Pidgey came to a halt and looked up at Bluebelle with wide eyes. Right about then, Bluebelle stopped coming up and started coming down. A shadow grew around the Pidgey as Bluebelle got closer and closer to impact. SMASH! Bluebelle squished the Pidgey into the ground. She jumped off happily and started to fly around the broken Pidgey. The girl Team Shadow member sighed and called her Pidgey back. I realized that I hadn't heard Hermes or Loki call anymore attacks, so I looked across the field. Demeter was happily standing on top of the bruised and battered Blastoise. She bellowed with pride before Loki called his Blastoise back. Hermes did the same with Demeter and we glared at our opponents.

    “We beat you,” Hermes said, scowling, “Now get the hell out of here.”

    “If we had any more Pokemon, we wouldn't let you go this easily,” mumbled the female Team Shadow member.

    “Come on, Persephone,” Loki said. He started to walk back towards the black Mercedes, then turned back around to face me. “I want to know the name of the ordinary human that could beat Persephone. What is it?”

    I looked to Hermes, silently asking if I should tell him. He nodded, so I said, “My name is Alaska.”

    Loki smiled. “Nice name. Goodbye, Alaska.” As if in slow motion, I watched him pull the handgun out of his pocket, point it at me, and pull the trigger. I felt like I was in The Matrix as the bullet sped towards me in slow motion. Somewhere inside my head, a voice told me to duck, but I felt frozen. I watched as the bullet collided with my stomach. I saw as it tore apart the individual shirt fibers and then ripped through my skin. Then, everything went back to normal speed. I felt a wave of pain and screamed. It felt like I was burning alive from the inside. I had enough time to see the snarl of fury on Hermes' face and the look on Loki's face change from victory, to worry, to fear as he saw Hermes' expression. Then the world turned dark and I was gone.


    I woke up in a place that was fantastically green. That's not an exaggeration. The first word that popped in my head when I opened my eyes was 'green'. I looked around and saw endless rows of trees of every shape and size. Oak trees were growing next to palm trees which looked perfectly comfortable next to a grove of bamboo. I stood up on the soft green grass and dusted myself off. I was wearing the same jeans and sweater I had been wearing when I was shot, only there was no blood or dirt on them at all. Also, I was barefoot for some reason. Strange. I wandered through the forest for what could have been a minute or an eternity before I saw the spring. The endless forest seemed to end only at the spring. It was a small thing, just some water bubbling up from some rocks, yet it seemed incredibly important. It filled my vision and I felt drawn to it. Suddenly, I had an incredible urge to drink. My throat felt like it was on fire, so without thinking, I bent down and took a long drink from the stream. When I lifted my head, I found myself face to face with a girl who seemed as green as the forest. My eyes met her emerald ones and she giggled.

    “Hi,” she said and hugged me as if we were best friends.

    “Um...Excuse me for asking, but who are you and where am I?”

    She giggled again and let me go, allowing me to take a few steps back so I could really see her. She seemed to be about the same age as me and she was wearing what looked like a Tinkerbell dress made of leaves. Her hair was dyed a light green color and she seemed to blend in perfectly with the trees behind her.

    “I thought you would have figured that out by now, Wanderer,” she said, her eyes glittering with laughter.

    “Not...really,” I admitted.

    She sighed in exasperation and said, “You're in a beautiful enchanted forest, there's no pain or suffering, everything here will be peaceful for all eternity, is it adding up yet?”

    I blinked in surprise. “Am I...dead?”

    She smiled. “Not quite, but almost. Don't worry,” she added when she saw the startled look on my face, “You're going to make it just fine, but I called you here for a reason. Do you know who I am?”

    “Um...if this is...heaven or the afterlife or whatever...are you God?”

    She burst out laughing as if that were the funniest thing she had ever heard. “Of course not,” she said, wiping tears of laughter out of her eyes, “I'm not God, and this isn't the afterlife. This is my home and I'm...well, I'm not allowed to tell you unless you guess my name, but that doesn't matter. What does matter is that you have some very important business on Earth, Wanderer.” Her smile changed to a look of complete seriousness. “You and your friend are in danger.”

    “My friend? Do you mean Hermes?” She nodded and I snorted. “Of course we're in danger, we have some crazy terrorist organization chasing us constantly. I've only known him three days and I've already gotten shot in the gut.”

    She seemed like she was going to laugh, but she managed to control herself. “That's not what I meant, but that's part of it. The danger is going to be completely unexpected, you'll have no idea what it is until it's on the verge of killing you both. I can't tell you what it is or when it will strike, but I can tell you a few things. First, you are going to have a very unpleasant surprise when you wake up. Second, the danger will be involved with Team Shadow, but only one other person knows that besides you. Finally, you must trust Hermes. He will never hurt you, no matter what you say or do to him. If he does anything to harm you, then you'll know it's not really him. By then, it might be too late, but you could still fix things, I suppose.” She seemed to drift off into thought, before saying, “I have to go now. Goodbye, Wanderer!” The forest girl began to fade.

    “Wait,” I called after her, “Can you answer one question?”

    From what seemed like far away she called back, “Maybe. What's the question?”

    “Why do you call me Wanderer?”

    I heard her giggle and her voice seemed to be only a whisper when she said, “You'll know when the time is right.”

    “But-” I protested, but she was already gone. I looked around the forest and felt a sense of unease, as if something were watching me. The peaceful glade was suddenly filled with red light, and I heard a terrible howl of pain.

    A voice cackled in the distance and said, “Run, Wanderer, run.” Without thinking, I took off running through the blackened forest. The trees that had been beautiful only moments before, were now dead and withered, their branches reaching out to trip me. I felt something collide with me, and suddenly my body was changing. I was growing bigger and stronger. I growled in pleasure. My new form would suit me better. I roared with my new throat and the forest echoed. Suddenly, I felt something filling my lungs. I was drowning! I was drowning, but not in water. My mouth was filled with a thick, salty liquid, and I realized I was drowning in blood. I screamed.


    My eyes opened and I saw the stained ceiling of a motel room. I felt the pleasant breath of an air conditioner against my skin and I sighed in relief. It was only a dream. I looked across the room and saw Hermes sitting on a bed across from mine. He looked up at me and said with surprise, “Alaska?” He started to walk across the room to me and I tried to sit up, but I felt a terrible pain in my stomach. Then I remembered being shot. I looked at my stomach to inspect the damage. It didn't look too bad. I could see the impact wound and a bruise spreading out from it, but it didn't feel like it had punctured any organs. I poked my stomach with my finger and a cut appeared where I had touched it.

    “What the-” I tried to say, but what came out was a series of growls. I jumped up, ignoring the scream of pain from my stomach and looked at myself. I was orange. I was orange! I screamed and felt a hand clamp over my mouth.

    “Stop it!” Hermes said, “Management said they would kick us out if that happened again.”

    I nodded, though I had no idea what he was talking about.

    “Now, I don't want to alarm you, but you appear to have...er...turned into a Charizard.”

    I stared at him. “WHAT!?” I tried to yell, but Hermes was still holding my mouth/muzzle closed.

    “Shh....it's okay. Let me tell you what happened so you can calm down. After Loki shot you, I thought you were already dead, so I took my time killing him and Persephone. I buried their Pokeballs, since there was no one to take care of them, and then I came back to bury you. I started to dig a hole and at first you looked fine, other than being, well, dead, but as I was digging I noticed you were starting to change. It wasn't anything big at first. Your skin seemed a little more orange than I remembered and your face seemed longer. I ignored that and was about to finish digging you a grave, when you kind of...spontaneously became a Charizard. I picked you up and I was on the verge of tears, and all of the sudden, you had a tail and claws. Then you had a muzzle and horns. Next thing I know, you're completely a Charizard. Now I don't know what to do. I have a dead Charizard that's too heavy to bury and can't be cremated, being a fire type, and then you started breathing. I got Zeus, Apollo, and Ares to help stick you in the back of the car, and I drove you here. Don't even ask how I managed to get you up the elevator and into this room. I'm too tired to discuss it right now.”

    “So that's what happened,” I tried to say, but it came out as a growl.

    Hermes shook his head. “This is stupid, I can't understand a word you're saying. Let me get Apollo.”

    As Hermes went to get his Salamence, I remembered the fairy-like girl and the strange forest. I opened my mouth to say something, but a voice in my head said, Don't tell Hermes. Don't tell him. It will ruin everything. He's not meant to know. The way the voice sounded, I couldn't ignore it. I decided to keep my mouth shut. A flash of light from the other side of the room caught my eye, and I turned to see Apollo appear from his Pokeball.

    “You just can't seem to stay out of trouble, can you?” he asked me. It was strange to hear his voice out loud rather than in my head.

    “Er...I guess not.” To my surprise, the words came out perfectly.

    “I'm translating everything we say to Hermes, so you can answer any questions he has, or say anything you need to.”

    “Thanks,” I said to Apollo.

    He blinked his eyes slowly, a gesture the Charizard I had become recognized as gratitude.

    Hermes started talking again. “I think this is your power. Hopefully. If not, I don't know what the hell to do, but I'm pretty sure you're a Pokemorph.”

    “A Poke-what?” I asked.

    “A Pokemorph. Someone who can transform into a certain Pokemon at will. Occasionally, they can transform into any Pokemon. It's incredibly rare to be either, and Pokemorphs are considered to be an urban legend by many people. In any case, if you are a Pokemorph, all you have to do is focus on your human form and you'll turn back. Can you do that?”

    “I think so.”

    “Good. Now I want you to focus on what you look like as a human. Hair color, eye color, everything. Oh, also remember to imagine what you were wearing or you'll morph back naked.”

    I whimpered in anxiety, but didn't say anything. It didn't seem hard to do. Just focus on myself as a human. Two legs, two arms, one head, two gray eyes, dirty blonde hair, black sweater, jeans, everything that represented what I looked like, I thought of. Suddenly, I got a funny feeling under my skin. It started in my chest, but quickly spread all over my body. It felt as though I were melting. The orange Charizard skin seemed to become fleshy, pink human skin. My claws flattened and became nails. My head changed shape and hair sprouted out. I felt the bones and organs inside my body shift and change shape. A thousand changes seemed to be happening at once. I looked down and saw an odd bump on my changing stomach. I touched it with a half human-half Charizard hand, and it fell out. It was a bullet. Miraculously, the bullet wound in my stomach was completely gone. No bruises, scars, or any other sign that I had been shot. All at once, the changes stopped. I looked myself over and was relieved to find myself one hundred percent human. I turned around and saw Hermes staring at me.

    “That was interesting,” he said.

    I shrugged. Now that I was human, it didn't feel like a big deal. Then I remembered something. “Where are my Pokemon?”

    “Oh, I've got them,” Hermes said and dug through my bag for a moment before coming up with three Pokeballs. “Here,” he said and handed them to me.

    I quickly released all three of my Pokemon who hugged me immediately. Or at least, they tried to hug me. The only one who could really pull it off was Daffodil. Bluebelle and Bandit had to be content with knocking me to the ground and nuzzling me. After greeting them, I asked Hermes, “Where are we?”

    Hermes smiled. “I managed to drive us all the way to Los Angeles. Look it the awesome view we have,” he added sarcastically and pulled back the blinds to reveal a huge six lane freeway less than ten feet from our window.

    “That would explain the room vibrating every few seconds,” I said, trying to make him laugh. It worked. Hermes went off to check on his Pokemon, and I was trying to understand everything that had happened to me that day when something occurred to me. “Hermes?” I asked.

    “Yes?”

    “Don't get mad at me for asking, but how do you keep fighting off two Shadow Humans at the same time by yourself. The first time you had help from your Pokemon, but this last time, you made it sound like you fought Loki and Persephone off yourself.”

    Hermes got a strange look in his eyes and I was worried I had said something taboo. He sighed. “Why do you always ask hard questions?” Before I could respond, he continued, “I'm stronger than them, because I was one of the first Shadow Humans. They've made the newer ones less strong to make them easier to control. Loki, Persephone, any of the new Shadow Humans have more self control than I do, but they are also far less powerful. Any other questions?”

    “Just one more for right now.”

    He rolled his eyes. “Fine.”

    “Why are you all named after different gods and goddesses? I understood that maybe you personally like mythology and named your Pokemon after them, but why do all the Shadow Humans have names like that?”

    Hermes laughed. “I thought that was obvious. My Pokemon have those names because of a personal preference, but Shadow Humans are named after gods and goddesses, because we are gods and goddesses. Not literally, of course, but we are stronger and more intelligent than normal humans. We also have more power and less self control. In old myths, didn't you ever notice the gods couldn't keep themselves from doing stupid, reckless things? It's the same for us. Whichever god or goddess we're named after has to do with our personality.”

    “So why are you Hermes?” I asked.

    He shrugged. “I guess I've always been a traveler like Hermes. I'm also an outlaw. Hermes was the god of thieves, so that makes sense. When I had to pick my name, Hermes just seemed like a good choice.”

    We sat in silence for a moment before I sighed and said, “I better go change. I've been wearing these clothes for two days.”

    Hermes handed me the bag with my stuff in it, and I went into the bathroom and locked the door. I changed back into my black jeans and a new t-shirt I hadn't worn before. It was black with a picture of Lugia and Ho-oh on it. When I left the bathroom, I saw Hermes as he usually was when we were in a motel room: laying on the bed and watching TV. Judging from the canned laughter, he was watching some sort of sitcom. One thing was different about the picture and it took me a minute to figure it out. That was when I realized that Hermes wasn't wearing his sunglasses. His bright violet eyes were shining with some unreadable emotion.

    “Where are your glasses?” I asked him.

    He shrugged. “There's no point wearing them in front of you anymore. You know everything about me now. I don't like wearing them anyway. They screw up my vision. I only wore them to help keep me from being recognized by Team Shadow. We've only been attacked by people I worked with so far, so they remembered me and the glasses weren't much help.” He paused to rub his eyes for a moment before saying, “By the way, I found this in my shoe after I killed Loki and Persephone.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a black Pokeball in its shrunken form, then threw it at me. I caught it with some difficulty, as it was no bigger than a grape or a large pebble. “I don't know how it slipped in there. He also had some cash on him, which is paying for this room.”

    I looked to make sure the room had enough room for another Pokemon, which it did, as none of Hermes' Pokemon were out other than Hades, who was curled up on Hermes' lap as usual. I noticed with some jealousy that Bandit was also lying next to him on his bed. I pressed the button on the black Pokeball and felt it expand, before I dropped it to the ground. In a flash of red light, a large outline formed, at least as tall as me, that materialized into a brown kangaroo-like Pokemon. The Pokemon didn't have violet eyes, which surprised me. Maybe Loki hadn't had time to evolve her into a Shadow Pokemon, yet. She looked at me curiously, then used a stubby hand to scratch her ear.

    “Isn't that a Kangaskhan?” I asked.

    “Yeah,” Hermes said, “They're only found in Australia outside of zoos and private collections. You're lucky.” He winked at me.

    “Oh, yeah,” I responded in a joking voice, “Because you don't have any rare Pokemon.”

    Hermes laughed.

    “What time is it anyways?” I asked.

    “About seven thirty at night, so don't bother going to challenge the gym until tomorrow.”

    My stomach grumbled and Hermes laughed again. “You sound hungry. Let's go get something to eat.”

    That made me pause. “But I thought you couldn't....” I trailed off.

    Hermes looked back at me, a smirk on his face. “Let me rephrase that: Let's go get something for you to eat. I should probably grab these, too.” He pulled his sunglasses from his pocket and put them on. He shuddered. “I hate these damn things.”

    I laughed. “Should we bring the Pokemon?” I looked back and saw Hermes and Bandit laying on the bed. My new Kangaskhan was staring at me curiously.

    “We can bring Hermes and Bandit. You should probably put your Kangaskhan back in her Pokeball, though. She's too big.”

    I nodded. “Sorry, girl,” I said as I called the kangaroo Pokemon back to her Pokeball. She shrugged as she vanished into the ball.

    Hermes whistled for our dog and raccoon Pokemon, who followed us excitedly out the door.

    “What should we name my Kangaskhan?” I asked, trying to start a conversation.

    Hermes thought for a moment. “How about Hestia?”

    I wrinkled my nose. “I'm guessing that's a Greek goddess. Who was Hestia?”

    “She was the Greek goddess of the hearth, which basically means the goddess of the home and family. She's the least known of the twelve Olympians. I thought it would be a good name since Kangaskhan are known for their motherly instincts.”

    “When you put it like that...I guess her name is Hestia.” I pulled Hestia's Pokeball out of my pocket and rubbed it between my fingers. “Why are these Pokeballs black?”

    Hermes frowned. “They're Shadow Balls. They keep the Pokemon inside them from being purified. I put my Pokemon in normal Pokeballs when I escaped from Team Shadow in the hopes that they would become purified, but I haven't had any luck with that.”

    I looked up and realized we were walking through the motel parking lot. I hadn't noticed walking through the building at all. I looked around and decided that if I had to describe L.A. In one word, it would be noisy. There was sound coming from every direction. Car horns, screaming voices, slamming doors, and the like all assaulted my ears. I sighed and wished we could leave the city of angels as soon as possible. Eventually, Hermes and I found a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant. I got some nachos to go and when the girl at the counter asked Hermes if he wanted anything, he shrugged and said, “I'm on a special diet.” He raised an eyebrow and looked at me.

    I started giggling uncontrollably at his macabre humor and the girl stared at me before handing me a plastic container with nachos. We headed back to the hotel room with the food. Neither of us felt like being out in the city at night any longer than we had to.

    “Remember that there are monsters in the shadows,” Hermes told me, “Everything your parents told you as a little kid is bull. Monsters are real and they are out to get you.”

    “You know, you should be a children's psychiatrist. People would come to see you from all over the country. Just tell all of them what you just told me.”

    Hermes laughed then said, “Seriously, though, I don't want you going out into the city by yourself. Team Shadow's not the only thing you have to be worried about. Normal humans can be worse monsters than anything Team Shadow creates.” There was a lot of truth in that statement.

    As we walked back to the motel, we had to cross several busy streets. At the final one before we reached the motel, Bandit and Hades darted out in front of a car. My eyes grew huge with fear and I jumped, knocking both of them out of the car's path. A horn honked in my ear, but I didn't really notice it. I looked down at myself, and realized I was okay. I looked over to see that Hades and Bandit were completely oblivious to what had just happened. I sighed in relief. Suddenly, I felt myself lifted off the ground. I turned my head and saw Hermes looking at me furiously.

    “Why would you do that?” he said in a quiet voice.

    Now I was angry. “Why wouldn't I? Our Pokemon were in danger!”

    “But you're more important!”

    “How am I more important?” I demanded. “My life is equal to the life of any other Pokemon or human.”

    Hermes growled and started carrying me back to the motel. He didn't bother to answer my question.

    “Are you ignoring me?” He didn't answer. “Why am I more important?”

    “I'll tell you later.”

    I couldn't get anything else out of him until we reached the motel room. Without bothering to turn the lights on, he dropped me on a bed unceremoniously.

    “I'm not sleeping until you give me a straight answer.” It hadn't been a big deal at first, but his unwillingness to answer me made me realize there was something more to this.

    “I'll tell you in the morning,” he said, sounding defeated. He pretended to go to sleep.

    “Fine.” I felt Bandit scramble up on the bed next to me. I rubbed his ears softly. Eventually, I couldn't help falling into a deep sleep.
    I speak four languages, help me practice please
    Hablas conmigo en español, por favor
    Vous parlez avec moi en français, s'il vous plaît
    我正在学中文

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 3: Changes Inside and Out FOR THE SWC

    Back on the saddle for me.
    Claimed for grading.
    I grade things for the URPG.

    New experimental grading system. Request a tier after I claim your story:
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 3: Changes Inside and Out FOR THE SWC

    Apologies, this grade is rather short. It's the last one in a binge, so I'm kind of tired out. If you want more, PM me.

    INTRO
    What impression did I get when I started reading this?

    You begin by throwing the main character into the action. He or she is woken up and shoved in front of a television where we get exposition. It's good exposition; you use it to define a good deal of what this story's going to be like. We have blood, gore, and California. It will be interesting to see how you integrate Pokemon with the real world.

    The reporter's dialogue is full of run-on sentences. This is both questionable grammar and bad for suspension of disbelief. Only very few people can say such long sentences without taking a breath. Reporters focus on being easy to understand.

    After this, you spend a little while introducing characters. We have a guy with Greek myth-themed Pokemon and we learn that the protagonist uses flower-themed Pokemon names. Except for Bandit. However, you're a little ambiguous about Bandit such that I needed to reread the section to find out that it is the protagonist's third Pokemon. Forcing a reread is not a good thing.

    I'll end there. This is a decent intro. We get an interesting setting and a major event that has to be somehow related to the protagonists. One thing, though. The protagonist has not been defined. Is it a male or a female? Young or old? Eleven paragraphs in and I still don't know. You're probably relying on people having read previously posted parts of your story to know what's going on. This is not always the best idea. I myself make a practice of not reading previous installments until after I finish writing this INTRO section of my grade, just to make sure I can catch things like this. Remember, you must be new-reader-friendly. You don't have to do a full-on "Last Time on Stories of Whatever" kind of thing, but you do need to make sure people are up to speed. Be subtle.

    Okay, I'm going to read through from the very beginning of the story arc now.

    PLOT
    Is it a good story?

    Well, at least I finally know that the protagonist is female halfway through the story. You need to be better at telling us these things!

    Why does each of Hermes's companions have a superpower? Is it coincidence or tied to their ability to see shadow-ness? Perhaps it's an Aura-related ability.

    Settling things with a Pokemon battle: cliched. It's also implausible that you'd send out a Blastoise and a Pidgey on the same team. It's understandable that you want a proper opponent for Bluebelle, but there's no reason anyone would use a (Shadow) Pidgey in any kind of serious battle.

    The random fairy interlude was kind of annoying. Too many stories use the line "you'll find out in time." This means it's a cliche. It's also really annoying. If you want to hold something back for later installments, then just hold it back. Don't make a plot point out of holding it back unless it's really important, and even then make sure you're not annoying your reader.

    Okay, overall comments on the plot: this is the first stage of Alaska's journeys with Hermes. You include a Gym battle, a Team Shadow confrontation, and lots and lots of exposition. Also, shapeshifting powers. That's a lot to put in one chapter. Makes it exciting. A lot of it is fairly familiar in the sense that that kind of thing shows up quite often in stories of this kind, but I haven't read too many of this genre so I'm less affected. It's more "I think this is a cliche based on my reasoning" than "Oh dear, I've read this story before."

    DIALOGUE
    Do we understand what they're saying?

    No issues here! Everyone in this story is some kind of young person and falls into either the "protagonist" camp or the "villain" camp. Dialogue goes accordingly.

    CHARACTERIZATION
    Are your characters original, well-defined, and compelling?

    Alaska is a were-Charizard, more or less. Hermes is a vampire. It's... it's Twilight! AAAAAA!

    In all seriousness, your characters hold pretty closely to the standard horror-creature templates. Alaska gets the superpowered form and, presumably, some angst over her self-control in the future. Hermes gets to angst over eating fellow sentient creatures, but he's strong and surrounded by strong Pokemon. Fortunately, the characters are fleshed out enough to stand on their own merits. Alaska is a likable protagonist, if a bit transparent (I keep forgetting her name and gender). Hermes parades through all the vampire cliches, but he's got enough quirks to be interesting. Vampires who drive awfully and like classic rock; you're obviously trying hard here, but it does work.

    GRAMMAR
    Does you talk pretty?

    Watch your commas:
    -In dialogue, when a name is called, it must be separated by commas from the rest of the sentence. On both sides if it's in the middle of a sentence.
    -There shouldn't be a comma in "Thank You For Visiting San Francisco." You might put a pause there for breath if you're speaking, but this does not apply to written things like signs.

    [quote]They're only found in Australia outside of zoos and private collections.[quote]
    The priority here is flipped. Try: "The only place you can find them outside of zoos or collections is Australia."

    Nothing else comes to mind.

    DETAIL
    Can we see what you're saying?

    Your setting is Californian. You could have done a lot more with this. We get cursory descriptions of Los Angeles, but that's all. No Mission District, no Golden Gate Bridge, no South Central. Your story is heavily character-driven, and you use good descriptions for your characters accordingly, but California is an interesting enough place that it could stand as a character in its own right. Including a little of that Americana flavor in the story would really add a lot to it. Like, um, American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Have you read it?

    PLAUSIBILITY
    Does it make sense?

    Given the more or less alternate universe setting, this category has no bearing here. I will note that there were two things that damaged my suspension of disbelief: the Magikarp and the Pidgey. You needed those for obvious reasons, but you need to justify them or it's quite obvious that you're making things easy for your designated heroine.

    LENGTH
    Is it long enough?

    Single capture.
    Kangaskhan (COMPLEX 30,000-40,000)
    Your total: 44,551
    We has a winner!

    OVERALL
    What did I think, personally?

    I don't read in the monster-people (werewolves, vampires, etc.) genre often. This story neither soured nor sweetened me on it. I can see a lot of the cliches it's vilified for, but the story itself isn't bad. It was very readable, even at the parts where I expected to groan and facepalm. And then I didn't facepalm. Nice job!

    FINAL
    To catch, or not to catch?

    I grade things for the URPG.

    New experimental grading system. Request a tier after I claim your story:
    Tier I / Basic: A quick verdict and some useful advice without much fuss.
    Tier II / Normal: More in-depth analysis.
    Tier III / Heavy: I WILL TEAR YOUR STORY TO SHREDS AND TAP-DANCE ON THE PIECES

  8. #8
    bad wolf Scourge of Nemo's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 3: Changes Inside and Out FOR THE SWC

    Grade deleted for SWC. Will be resurrected in time.
    URPG Statistics
    Running Through Daisies

    kers x alaska x zak x derian x scourge x ireign

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 3: Changes Inside and Out FOR THE SWC

    Gahhhhh it was a SWC story. Oops.
    I grade things for the URPG.

    New experimental grading system. Request a tier after I claim your story:
    Tier I / Basic: A quick verdict and some useful advice without much fuss.
    Tier II / Normal: More in-depth analysis.
    Tier III / Heavy: I WILL TEAR YOUR STORY TO SHREDS AND TAP-DANCE ON THE PIECES

  10. #10
    The Hyacinth Girl Alaskapigeon's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 3: Changes Inside and Out FOR THE SWC

    IN THE ORDER OF THE STORY, THIS IS CHAPTER 4 AND 5, BUT THEYRE COMBINED BECAUSE OF WEIRD PLOT THINGYS THAT HAVE TO DO WITHT THE POKEMON CATCHING PROCESS. SO GRADE THIS AS ONE CHAPTER

    Pokemon Aimed For: Sableye
    Needed Characters: 10k
    Actual Characters: 30787
    Uhhh....not counting the 100k Magikarp story, is this the biggest case of overshot ever?

    Chapter 4

    As soon as I fell asleep, the dream began. "Take a look, Wanderer," whispered a voice, the same voice I had heard in my nightmare after my encounter with the forest girl.

    I found myself in a room that looked like it belonged in a hospital. I was standing next to an operating table. Men wearing lab coats, gloves, and face masks were crowded around so that I couldn't see the person being operated on. I heard whispers as the men asked each other for different medical instruments. The beeping of different monitors filled in the space between their requests.

    "They can't see you, Wanderer, move closer," the voice commanded.

    Without meaning to, I drifted forward. I felt myself pass through one of the men standing next to the table. I felt as though I were a ghost, silently watching the actions of the living. I looked down at the table curiously and I saw a smallish girl laying unconscious on her back. She had long black hair and looked extremely pale. She was dressed in one of those hospital gowns that feel as if they're made of paper towels. There were no marks on her, so I assumed the surgery hadn't started, though I noticed that a patch of hair on top of her head was shaved off. Was she having brain surgery? Suddenly, a doctor reached forward, a knife in his hand, and cut through the hairless patch of skin on her head. I watched, as if in a trance, as he kept cutting until the skin peeled away and there was only bone. He pulled out a sharper knife and began to saw through her skull until I could see something pinkish gray pulsing inside of her head. I looked away in disgust as I realized it was her brain. All of the sudden. I felt myself being pulled, but I couldn't tell what direction I was heading. I looked back at the operating table wand was shocked to see the doctor stitching up the skin he had cut open.

    "Wake her up," one of the men said.

    The doctor reached forward again, this time with a syringe in his hand, and carefully pushed it into the crook of the girl's elbow. Her body shuddered and she opened her eyes. Her eyes grew wide and my mouth fell open in shock. She had bright violet eyes. She began to shake violently.

    "What did you do to me?" she asked, sounding panic.

    The doctor placed his hand on her shoulder. "Calm down, Rachel," he said, "It's going to be-"

    Rachel started to scream. "What did you do to me? What did you do? I feel like I'm falling apart!"

    "It's okay Rachel, that's normal. We're going to register you now...I think your new name is supposed to be..." The doctor trailed off and turned around, grabbing a book and flipping through the pages. Most of the other men were standing away from the table now. "Your new name is Isis."

    However, whether her name was Isis or Rachel, she wasn't listening. "I feel...strange," she mumbled. Suddenly, her eyes started glowing. The doctor stepped back in fear, but Rachel/Isis smiled. Her violet eyes turned black and she jumped at the doctor, knocking over the operating table and smashing several monitors. The sounds of beeping from the remaining monitors was unbearable. The doctor screamed as Rachel/Isis began to bite down into his neck. I could see the blood welling out, when one of the men grabbed a huge needle and stabbed it into Isis/Rachel's back. She released the doctor, looked confused, then fell over. Her violet eyes stared blankly up at the men rushing around her. Then the world stopped.

    "Look closely, Wanderer. Look at the girl, look at the monster, do you see it?" the voice said. It sounded as if it were whispering in my ear.

    I looked closely at the girl's limp body. Suddenly, the edges of it started to flicker. For a fraction of a second, her hair was dirty blonde and her eyes were gray. The shape of her face seemed to shift. I was suddenly looking at a reflection of myself.

    "YOU ARE ONE AND THE SAME, WANDERER. YOU ARE ONE AND THE SAME. DON'T FORGET WHAT I HAVE SHOWN YOU, WANDERER. DON'T FORGET THAT YOU ARE ALSO A MONSTER," the voice boomed all around me.

    I felt an awful pain and woke up. I saw Hermes standing over me.

    "Are you all right?" he asked, "You were screaming."

    I was panting wildly, trying to catch my breath. I suddenly felt terribly afraid. I jumped, knocking Hermes over and pinning him to the bed. I felt stronger than I ever had in my life.

    "Do you know a Shadow Human named Isis?" I demanded.

    Hermes looked shocked. "I...used to."

    I felt my heart pounding wildly in my chest. "What happened to her?"

    "I killed her."

    I felt as if everything had slowed to a stop, just like in my dream. "You killed her?" I asked, hoping he would say no.

    "Yes." Hermes' violet eyes were sparkling with emotion.

    I let him up and then collapsed down on the bed. I felt tears stinging my eyes. I was that girl. I was Rachel/Isis...somehow...if I had been born in 1995, and she hadn't been killed until sometime in the 2000's, there was no way I could be her reincarnated. What else could have happened?

    "Without being rude, can I ask what in the hell happened?"

    I took a deep breath. "I am apparently Isis. Somehow. I'm not reincarnated, but we're the same person...I think."

    "Why do you think that is?" Hermes was staring at me as though I were dangerous.

    "I saw it in a dream." I explained to him the dream I had and how I had also had a dream right before I woke up as a Charizard.

    "Alaska, are you sure you didn't just have a bad dream?"

    I paused. Was it possible? I didn't think so. Besides, hadn't the forest girl warned me about some danger linked to Team Shadow? Couldn't this be it?

    "I don't think so. I had another dream after I got shot..." I explained to him about the girl I had seen in the forest.

    He looked worried. "You had a dream about a girl in the forest dressed in all green? Did she tell you her name?"

    I shook my head. "She said she could only tell me her name if I guessed who she was."

    "You should be careful. I've heard of greater forces using humans and Pokemon as pawns."

    "But...she seemed really benevolent." I couldn't imagine that the girl I had seen would use me...she seemed more like a guardian or something. I had privately believed her to be some kind of angel.

    Hermes sighed. "God only knows why my life is so complicated. I don't know how to tell if you're actually Isis...or even how you could be her. I killed her about three years ago...I think it was summer or fall. Did anything significant happen to you around that time?"

    I thought back. Three years ago would be 2007...during summer or fall...suddenly I remembered. My body froze as the memory played back in my mind.

    It was cool outside as I walked home from school that day. I was excited to get home, as the next day was my birthday. The air smelled like fallen leaves, an earthy smell that characterized fall for me. I crossed a street when it happened.

    The car came around the corner going at least 50 mph. My body froze in shock and I couldn't move to get out of the way. At the last moment, my muscles unlocked and I tried to run, but it was too late. The car hit me. I felt myself being dragged underneath it, the wheels crushing my tiny body, dragging me along the asphalt for a few yards before dropping me and driving me away. I felt an immense pain throughout my entire body. It wasn't just one bone or muscle, my whole body was broken, useless. I tried to suck in air, but my lungs refused to expand. Soon, my heart refused to pump blood. I felt every part of me shutting down. I couldn't move my arms or legs. Couldn't open my mouth to whisper a few last words. I could only struggle to breathe as my brain refused to work without the blood that my heart refused to send it. I felt myself lifted away from my destroyed body. I felt light as a feather. I didn't feel the pain anymore. I looked sideways and saw myself lying on the ground, my blue eyes glazed over. I was afraid. I felt like crying. Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around and saw a girl with long black hair. Her eyes were a bright violet and she smiled at me.

    "Don't worry, I'll fix everything for you," she said.

    Tears ran down her face as she pulled me back towards my broken body and pushed me back in. I felt her being pulled in with me. Suddenly, I shuddered and stood up. Where was I? What had happened? Why was I lying in the road? I stood up and dusted myself off and started walking home again.

    My mind snapped back to the present and I said, "I died."

    Hermes eyes grew wide with shock, and I felt something in the back of my mind. At first I thought it was just a stray thought, but it grew more and more prominent in my brain until I couldn't ignore it. I let myself drift back into the world of my mind and was shocked to see the girl with long black hair.

    "Hello, Alaska," she said, a smile on her face.

    "Hi, Isis."


    Chapter 5

    "Alaska, I need to use your body for a minute," Isis told me.

    "Why?" Even though I didn't really know her, I felt like I could trust her, but still...

    "Alaska..." Isis drifted off. She let her long black hair fall in front of her face, hiding her violet eyes. "I need to speak to Hermes, Alaska."

    "I...I guess so...How do I let you take control?"

    As it was, I was floating in the blank white space of my mind. I had no idea how to get back out, so letting Isis do her thing was pretty much my only option.

    "I know what to do," she told me, "Just don't fight me when I try to take over your body. I won't let anything happen to you. I already saved your life once."

    "Okay." I nodded.

    Suddenly, I felt myself being pulled back into the endless white space of my mind. I struggled for a minute, until I heard Isis let out an angry hiss. "Stop fighting, you'll be fine." I did my best to hold still, but I still occasionally twitched in discomfort. It was a little like being at the dentist's. I couldn't feel anything hurting me, but I still wanted to get the hell out of there. Then, I was out of the blank nothingness and I could see Hermes and our motel room again. I tried to speak, but couldn't open my mouth. I tried to blink, but my eyes wouldn't move. I tried to move every part of my body, but soon realized I was completely immobile. "You won't be able to do anything from there," Isis told me, "You can only watch." I felt my body shudder as Isis took control. My eyes focused on Hermes without me doing it. It was a little confusing.

    "Alaska? Are you in there?" Hermes asked with some concern. Suddenly, his eyes grew wide with shock. "Your eyes...they're violet."

    I felt the corners of my lips turn up in a smug smile. "Hello, Hermes," Isis said. It sounded like my voice, and yet, the way she spoke was...different. The words came out differently than I would say them. Maybe she used a different voice inflection.

    "Alaska?" Hermes asked, his voice betraying his panic.

    "No, Hermes. It's me, Isis."

    If his eyes had been wide before, it was nothing compared to now. "Isis? You're alive?"

    "Yes, Sherlock, I'm alive...more or less. Alaska has temporarily given me control of her body, so I can talk to you."

    "Er...what do you want to talk about?" Hermes was looking uncomfortable.

    "You killed me, Hermes. I've had three long years to think that over. At first, I wanted to kill you in revenge, but now, I have a different request."

    "Which is...?"

    "I want you to kill the boss of Team Shadow. While you may have killed me, it is ultimately his fault. I'd rather see him dead than you, though if I thought I could get away with killing both of you, I would."

    "You know, Isis, I've been tracking Team Shadow for a long time, and it is my goal to eventually kill him, but-"

    Suddenly, I felt a pool of anger inside me as Isis started yelling. "Cut the crap, Hermes! Either you kill him by the end of the year, or I'm going to break her mind."

    "Your going to what?" I asked her from inside my mind bubble, but she ignored me.

    The look on Hermes' face was terrifying. It would have frightened anyone else into submission, but I had the feeling Isis wouldn't go down so easily. "You wouldn't dare," Hermes said, his fists clenched in anger.

    "But I would." Isis made me smile again. "I saved her life once, maybe I can take it back."

    Hermes began to shake.

    "Better watch your temper, Hermes...I'm going back now, but remember what I've said. I'll make somebody pay, whether it's you, Team Shadow, or even Alaska. Somebody's going to end up hurt." And with that, I felt Isis relinquish my body. Suddenly, I could move again.

    "Oh, thank God," I said. "Are you okay?" I asked Hermes.

    Hermes seemed to be watching me nervously. "Your eyes are back to normal," he said, almost as if he were talking to himself, "Are you back Alaska?"

    "Yeah, it's me again. What in the hell just happened?"

    Hermes grimaced. "I believe you died around age eleven."

    "Yeah, I got that part. How did Isis save me? And why didn't I remember that?"

    "I don't know how she saved you, but you probably don't remember because she purposefully suppressed that memory. In fact, she could have suppressed hundreds of memories that you aren't even aware exist."

    "Thanks," I said dryly, "That makes me feel so much better."

    Hermes sighed rather than laughing like he normally would. "I need to eat again...Can you control Isis while you're at the gym?"

    "I think so. She doesn't seem to be overly fond of me, but she obviously doesn't hate me either." Truthfully, I was nervous, but she had been inside of me for three years and never hurt anything before...That I knew of.

    Hermes pulled a Pokeball out of his pocket and released his Salamence, Apollo. "Take Apollo with you. Keep your Pokemon in their Pokeballs until you get to the gym. If she attacks you, Apollo will stop her." He turned to the red and blue dragon. "Apollo, mind link."

    Apollo locked eyes with me. I was about to ask what was supposed to be happening when I felt it. It was like somebody knocking on the door to mind. I could feel something trying to get inside my head. I panicked and started fighting back. Somewhere in the real world, I heard Apollo growl.

    "Relax, Alaska. It's only Apollo," Hermes said.

    I tried to calm myself and take down the walls I had placed around my mind, but I was still afraid. After meeting Isis, I was somehow more aware of the private sanctuary of my mind, and I was less happy about letting people inside. I felt something impact my mind and I lost my concentration. When I came back to my senses, I realized Apollo had finally managed to break inside. I felt his presence wash over me and I no longer felt afraid. Apollo's mind was different from the hectic, raging mind of Isis. His mind was a sea of calmness. I felt safe. I returned to the conscious world.

    "Did it work?" Hermes asked.

    "Yeah I think so," I rubbed the side of my head, "What happened to my life?"

    "It ended about three years ago," Hermes deadpanned.

    "Oh yeah..."

    "Anyways, if she tries to take over your mind again, Apollo will stop her and contact me. I'll get there as soon as I can." He reached into his pocket and pulled out another Pokeball. He tossed the Pokeball to the ground and Ares popped out. The Charizard grunted as Hermes climbed on his back, then opened his wings wide and flew out the window.

    I returned my Pokemon to their Pokeballs and left the motel room. I locked the door, figuring that Hermes could get back in through the window. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I felt the presence of Isis, but she wasn't bothering me, so I left her alone.

    "What type is this gym?" someone asked me. I looked around before realizing that Apollo had asked me. Now that we were mind linked, it sounded as if he had spoken out loud.

    "Er...it's a dark gym," I said, feeling awkward since it looked like I was talking to myself. However, in a city as big as Los Angeles, talking to yourself wasn't enough to get noticed, thankfully. There were much weirder people than me and Apollo walking around. I flinched away as a man wearing only a thong made of cardboard walked past me.

    "Is there something wrong with the humans here?" Apollo asked curiously.

    "No more than usual."

    Hermes had found a motel only a few blocks from the gym, which was good, because Los Angeles was huge. The city was spread out over miles and miles, unlike San Francisco. If we had been too much farther away from the gym, I wouldn't have been able to walk. When I saw the gym, I was surprised. The San Francisco gym had been huge, noisy, vibrant, and a general spectacle, but this gym seemed to be nothing more than a broken down shed. I opened the rusty looking metal door, praying it wouldn't collapse, and was greeted with a surprise. Rather than a gym, I saw a long tunnel leading deep underground.

    "Is it safe to go in, Apollo?"

    Apollo growled and folded his ruby red wings against his back. "I don't like being beneath the earth," he said, "But I sense no danger and I have no fear. We shall descend."

    I shrugged and began the long climb down. After about twenty feet, the tunnel went around a corner and it became too dark to see. I was about to turn back, when Apollo opened his mouth and a ball of fire came out. At first, the fire shot out, and I had to duck to avoid getting singed, but eventually, Apollo managed to contain the fire in his jaws.

    "Being able to read your mind is useful sometimes," he said.

    "You can read my mind?"

    "Of course. However, I don't believe Isis can. I was born with Psychic powers. She was not."

    While that did comfort me, the thought of Apollo being able to read my mind made me nervous. What if I thought of something embarrassing? After a while, I stopped thinking about it. The tunnel seemed to go on for miles, and the twists and turns became more common the farther down we went.

    "I don't think we got the right address," I said nervously.

    "I believe we are in the right place," Apollo told me, "I sense the minds of others. However, one mind is blocking me. I cannot see who or what it is."

    "How delightful..." I muttered under my breath.

    Suddenly, the tunnel widened and I found myself standing in a huge room. Apollo's Ember could no longer light the entire space and I felt as though the room were enormous. I heard cackling from the edges of the room. I shivered and heard the evil sounding laughter again, though this time, it sounded closer. I unconsciously leaned into Apollo out of fear. He growled, though he didn't sound angry.

    "Do not be afraid, little one. There is nothing to fear. I sense only Pokemon and the force that is blocking my mind from seeing it. I assume it is a human," Apollo said, obviously trying to comfort me.

    I heard the laughter again. "I can sense your presence," said a voice. It was very quiet, and if I hadn't been underground, I would have thought it was a trick of the wind. "I can feel seven lives entering my home. How many will leave?" The voice began to laugh hysterically. "One human, five Pokemon, and one other...I don't recognize what it is. What are you hiding from me? I want to know what it is."

    Before the voice could say another word, Apollo shot an Ember towards the part of the chamber where the voice seemed to be coming from. The Ember stopped in mid air, a glowing ball of fire surrounded by a pulsing shield of purple light. The fire and light combined were enough to light up the cave. I looked around and saw various dark Pokemon crouched in the shadows, but what drew my attention most, was the figure sitting beneath the ball of fire. It looked vaguely human, yet there was no way such a foul thing could be considered a person. It was sitting cross legged with one hand extended into the air. Purple energy seemed to flow from the hand and held the fire inside the ball of light. The figure was ghostly white, so pale, I could see through its skin enough to see every vein and artery flowing beneath the skin. The creature had no hair upon its head and was wearing only a robe that seemed to be made of rags. However, what was most horrifying about the creature, was the two empty sockets where its eyes should be. I took a step back and felt bile rise in my throat.

    "Have I made you sick, human?" the creature asked. "Do I make you disgusted?" The creature laughed cruelly, before asking, "What is your name, human?"

    "My name?"

    "Yes...is that too difficult of a question for you to understand?"

    "No." Normally, I would be furious at an insult to my intelligence, but I didn't want to anger the creature. "My name is Alaska."

    "Really? That's not what I am sensing. Alaska was your name, but that name no longer describes you, and you no longer fit it. I sense a new name for you, one you have never heard, but will soon, I think. This name represents the power inside you. Not the being living inside you that is giving you power, but a power that you are creating." My mouth dropped open. "Names are important, human. Or should I say, almost human. You are not entirely human, I sense a changing in you, a wildness that is not found in your kind. Be careful human, names are important things, and you should always use the correct one. Would you like to know my name?"

    "Er...I guess so."

    The creature smiled, revealing a mouth full of black, rotting teeth. "My name is Maeve. I was once a human girl like you, but I gave that up for something better. Not many people have that choice, but I did, as well as you. There is a greatness about you Nameless One. I will not call you by the name you have given yourself, for it is not the correct one, and I shall not anger the spirits by using it. Tell me, Nameless One, do you wish to be like me?" She laughed at the look of horror on my face. "You don't have to answer that, Nameless One, if you can tell me another name that you are called."

    Another name? Hadn't the girl in the forest called me a strange name. What was it... "I think somebody called me Wanderer once."

    Maeve's empty eye sockets grew wide with surprise. "Who called you Wanderer?"

    "Er...a girl I met once...in a...forest." I don't know why I lied to Maeve, but telling her about the dream seemed like a bad idea.

    "A girl in a forest? Tell me, was she wearing a dress made of leaves?"

    "Yeah, that's her."

    "So you've met the Traveler...Perhaps she is right. If you are the Wanderer...There is only one way to tell. Do you travel with the Hunter?"

    "The Hunter?" I had no idea what she was talking about.

    "Yes, the Hunter, the constant companion of the Wanderer."

    I stared at her blankly.

    "You may not yet know him by that name...The Hunter is always strange. He appears as a monster of some kind, travels with the Wanderer and powerful allies, kills sentient creatures such as humans and Pokemon-" She continued on for a few moments, but I had already stopped listening.

    I turned to Apollo. "Do you think she means Hermes?"

    Apollo looked away uncomfortably. "He has gone by the name she calls him."

    I stared at him with an open mouth. "How many times is my life going to get more screwed up!" I screamed. I looked over and saw Maeve staring at me...well, she looked like she might have been staring if she had eyes.

    "So you know the Hunter...in that case, maybe it would be unwise to battle you."

    "Why would you battle me?"

    "Because I am the leader of the Los Angeles City Gym." She had a look on her face as though I were stupid.

    "You are?"

    Rather than answering me, she seemed to dig inside her dress made of rags and pulled out a filthy looking piece of metal. "For you, Wanderer." She held it out to me with the hand that wasn't supporting the ball of flames.

    I looked at Apollo nervously. "It is safe to retrieve it," he told me telepathically.

    I walked over to Maeve and took the piece of metal. I squinted at it and realized it was a gym badge. It was the shape of a circle and had a picture of a Mightyena howling at the moon on it, beneath a layer of grime.

    "Er...thanks," I said.

    "Anytime," she said, smiling. "If you ever need help, you know who to ask. I suppose I had better find someone to get you out of this wretched cave...SABLEYE!" she screamed. A small purple Pokemon with diamonds for eyes ran forward from the shadows. "Teleport the Wanderer and her companion to the surface, please." The Sableye grinned and wrapped a clawed hand around mine. I shuddered at his touch, but he ignored me and grabbed onto the edge of Apollo's wing. Before Apollo could growl at him, we had disappeared in a flash of light. I felt nauseous for a split second, then found myself back at the entrance to the gym. The Sableye giggled furiously for a moment, then clapped his hands and disappeared.

    I looked over at Apollo. "That was odd."

    He grunted in response. We started walking back to the motel, and at first, I didn't notice that I was going the wrong way. Soon, however, it became blindingly obvious that we were lost.

    "Er...do you know where we're going?" I asked Apollo.

    "Not anymore than you do."

    We wandered around for another hour before I looked up and saw that we were in a seedy neighborhood. It was oddly quiet, as though it were deserted. None of the houses had lights on, and I couldn't hear TVs, radios, or even people talking. Still, I felt as though I was being watched.

    "WATCH OUT, ALASKA!" Isis shouted from a far away part of my mind. I whipped around just in time to be knocked to the ground. My vision grew cloudy and I couldn't see for a moment. I felt someone digging through my pocket as my dizziness spell went away.

    "Where are you, Apollo?" I moaned.

    I heard an earsplitting roar. Then gunshots. One, two, three, four, five. I heard a whimper and then a loud thump as something heavy hit the ground. In my mind, I felt something fading away. A shadow came inside of me and consumed what was left of the noble blue and red dragon. Death touched the edges of my brain and I mentally flinched. It didn't touch me again.

    "No, no, no, no...Apollo..." The Salamence was gruff, but he had made me feel safe. Now I felt bare and exposed. I tried to turn my head to the side, but caught only a glimpse of feet in dirty tennis shoes walking by. Then, someone slapped me. I looked up and saw a man staring at me. I couldn't tell much about him except that he had a long scar that went from his ear down to his chin. I felt something cold pressed to my throat and realized it was a knife. I moaned in fear as I felt the knife press against my throat and a tiny drop of blood pool out.

    "Nice catch," someone said to the left of me, "Let's finish this."

    "Not to fast, I want to see this one squirm."

    I estimated there were about three men surrounding me. My insides squirmed with fear. I searched for Isis in my mind, but she seemed to be hiding, not wanting to see what would happen. I screamed in pain as one of the men stomped my ankle, shattering it. Suddenly, something inside of me snapped. Without thinking about what I was doing, I concentrated on making myself powerful. I felt my spine elongating as my body grew bigger. My arms flattened into wing-like limbs, and my hands and fingers grew together and hardened, becoming ivory spikes, jutting out from my fake wings. I felt my hair being sucked back into my head as my skull grew elongated. My teeth became razor sharp and several new ones grew in. My three smallest toes on each foot grew together and formed a talon. The two toes remaining on my feet did the same. I felt something pushing out of the base of my spine and I suddenly had an extra limb. I realized it was a tail. Finally, I felt my eyes narrow and become super powerful, able to see the smallest movement of the tiniest creature. I roared and the men screamed. I was a Garchomp.

    I jumped forward and seized the man who had been holding me to the ground with my jaws. He had scrambled off of me during the transformation process, but he hadn't managed to get far. I felt a fire burning in my throat and allowed it to crawl up into my mouth and singe the skin of the man I was holding. I dug the talons of my left foot into the man's waist and pulled. I pulled the opposite direction with my jaws, and the mans screams were cut off by a loud ripping noise as he was torn in half.

    One of the men had been smart enough to get away, but the other one was frozen in horror as I leaped ten feet through the air and knocked him to the ground. Using the claws on the ends of my wings, I ripped him to shreds. I growled in pleasure as I tore apart his insides. His screaming ended much too soon and I backed away from him in disappointment. I stood in between the two bodies and roared loudly, claiming the kills as mine. That was when I felt the annoying twitch in the back of my head. I scratched my head with my wing-claw, but the feeling didn't go away. It grew bigger and bigger, until I felt myself pulled into my mind.

    Within seconds, I was floating in the blank white space of my brain. I was face to face with an angry girl with violet eyes and long, black hair.

    "Snap out of it, Alaska," she said coldly.

    Alaska? Who was...Then I remembered. I looked down at myself, both physically and mentally, and saw I was a human again. A human covered in the dead bodies of two men. I screamed and brought myself back to the real world. I looked around and spotted Apollo's body. He had two bullet wounds in his left wing, one in his left front leg, one embedded into his spinal cord, and the last bullet had completely blown away the back of his head. Blood and brain matter dribbled out. I turned around and was horrified to find myself staring at the equally gruesome remains of the two men I had killed. I started to vomit.

    "Not now, Alaska," Isis' voice whispered, "Get back to the motel, quickly."

    I managed to stop vomiting and stuck my hand in the pocket of my jeans to make sure my Pokeballs were still there. Thankfully, they were. I sighed in relief and released Bluebelle. My Mantyke did a back flip in mid air when she saw me.

    "I know you're not a good flier, Bluebelle, but I need you to get me back to the motel. Can you do that?"

    Bluebelle nodded, her blue antenna-like appendages bobbing. She then looked at the blood splattered ground and whined hungrily.

    "Er...you can eat later," I said, trying to keep the disgust out of my voice. "We need to get the hell out of here now."

    Bluebelle nodded and floated over to me. I collapsed on her back and felt as she lifted me into the air. My legs dangled off of her back into thin air. Normally, I would be frightened, but right then, I didn't care. I saw a Fearow fly by and passed out.



    EDIT:

    If you would like to continue reading this, the rest of what I have written is on my fanfiction.net account (The username there is also Alaskapigeon). I won't be posting anymore of this story on BMG or the URPG for now, so....Yeeeeah.
    Last edited by Alaskapigeon; 18th February 2011 at 09:54 AM.
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  11. #11
    Prince of All Blazikens! Magikchicken's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Guardian of Voyagers-Chapter 4 and 5 (Grade them as one chapter please)

    Characters, Backstory: So, as far as character growth goes, this segment of the story is a freaking roller-coaster. In fact, the entirety of Chapter 4 is introducing and dealing with the appearance of the entity known as Isis, who was until now simply embedded in Alaska's subconscious.
    While my description of the character twist as 'a freaking roller-coaster' implies some good things, such as keeping up the reader's interest and drawing out the maximum possible drama of the ensuing situations, it also implies some drawbacks. The main one I would point out is that the change seems extremely abrupt, whether that's really the case or not. A reader, by the end of Chapter 3, is starting to get a grasp of what Alaska's personality is like, but has been kept more or less in the dark about her backstory. Before we're entirely used to who this Alaska person is, we're hit with a sudden curve ball, and have to start reassessing our opinions and assumptions about Alaska/Isis. Most distressing is the fact that, as far as I can tell, there was no significant foreshadowing to this, so it seems like said curve ball just appears out of nowhere, Deus Diabolus Ex Machina style.
    This might not have been so jarring if, after the 'big reveal,' you had taken a while to advance the plot while keeping Isis 'on the backburner' from a characterization standpoint; as in, we know she's there now, but she's not doing anything, and we get to settle back into the routine of getting to know Alaska. What you did instead, though, was immediately have Isis ENTER STAGE RIGHT and start being all important to the plot. The result, probably unintentional, is that Alaska herself kind of gets shunted to the side as the 'main character,' since the reader gets the impression that Isis is more in charge of the situation than Alaska is.
    Honestly, this is the first time I've ever given someone this advice regarding character growth/character development, but I'd suggest slowing down. Too much happened character-development-wise in these two chapters, while not enough happened plotline-advancement-wise.


    Plot Content, Plot Flow: As above; Given the length of these two combined chapters, very very little actually happened, since the entirety of Chapter 4 and about half of Chapter 5 were given over to Alaska's introspection and battles with inner demons (literal and otherwise.)
    Basically, Alaska (and Isis) have some significance-heavy dialogue with Hermes; Alaska goes to a gym, gets the badge without a battle because the leader's challenge is yet another bit of significance-heavy dialogue, and then gets mugged on her way back to the motel. There's a brief curbstomp battle, followed by yet more angst.
    For a 30,457-character story, not a lot happens. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt plotline-wise, since the section of the story in which things are actually happening is roughly the 10k characters needed for a Sableye catch, but I will say that these two chapters are sadly lacking in terms of plot advancement.


    Grammar, Sentence Flow: Fine overall. This isn't a weak point in your writing, so I need not quibble over tiny errors, if there are even any present.


    Detail, Description: The lack of new scenes and characters to describe is a detracting point, but those which exist are good enough; most locations and people/Pokémon were described well, with a few exceptions, such as Maeve's Sableye being described only as 'a small purple Pokémon with diamonds for eyes,' or the lack of details about what the 'seedy neighborhood' looks like.


    Dialogue: As I mentioned above, the dialogue mostly lacked the wit of your previous episodes, primarily because it is simply so heavy. While the dialogue in these two chapters drives a great deal of character development and even a tiny bit of the plotline, you would do well to keep in mind that drama and informing the reader are not the only reasons to put dialogue in a story.


    Battles: Minimal... With the exception of Alaska's Garchump Garchomp rampage, every battle that takes place is either psychological (inside Alaska's mind) or occurs off-screen (Apollo getting shot.)
    The action climax of this story is clear, but I felt it was lacking in any sort of real drama, since it's a total curbstomp and emphasizes Alaska's state of mind more than it does the dramatic tension of wondering whether the protagonist will win.


    Character Count: 30,457. Way more than enough by one way of measuring adequacy, but as I said, there's a startling lack of anything happening to advance the plotline in these 30k+ characters.


    Overall: Chapters 4 and 5, while thought-provoking, did not live up to the smooth pace and tense drama of the previous three chapters, nor did they meet the standards one would expect from a 30k-character story by a writer as skilled as you've shown yourself to be. If I had to sum them up in a word, I would say these chapters are simply rushed. It wouldn't have hurt to include more actual plot events in these chapters, while spreading the drastic character changes over the next four or five chapters/episodes instead of having them occur all at once.
    The imbalance of drama/pathos against action/tension here is what turns these chapters from an interesting and awe-inspiring read to a mass of condensed angst with few redeeming qualities. This may seem like a harsh judgment, but I only say all of this because I know for a fact that you can do better. =(
    This is a Normal catch, and as such was borderline rather than a clear fail; in all, it contains all of the basic qualities needed for a Normal story, and although it is somewhat lacking in your usual skill and technique at building tension, the story has no failings in execution whatsoever.


    Result:
    Sableye: Caught.
    My Stats Page

    The Light Story
    The Shadowed Story

    The Dark Story

    A Glimpse of the Future


    "Vegeta, what does the scouter say about his FFA winnings??"
    "They're OVER 9000!!!"

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