Harbinger

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  1. #1
    Prince of the Hawkmen Prince Vultan's Avatar
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    Default Harbinger

    The swirling wind whistled through Mankey's shabby fur as he clung to the bare steel scaffold high above. The streets below hummed with the sounds of machines. He could feel in his lungs how the city festered with the stench of corruption and deceit, politicians taking bribes to look the other way, crime syndicates infiltrating the justice system.

    Children sat in schools learning of indecent things. Teachers were bloated, feckless drones pumping out the diatribe of the machine. Education was not for learning, it was for indoctrination into the ways of the system. The broken system.

    Overpopulation had destroyed the integrity of the sanctity of marriage, copulation ran amok amongst the underclass who pumped out screaming infant after screaming infant, looking only for those with the perfect traits the state desired, the rest abandoned in the streets to die. He was one of those rejected children, his nature just “wasn't right” as the doctor had said. Well who was in the wrong now?

    The rulers sought to infect the 'perfect' children with Pokerus, to control their growth, their minds, their emotions. Who needed creativity when you had a disciplined ruthless killing machine willing to do the government's bidding? The armed forces swelled like an infected wound, preparing for conflict.

    There was no future for these doomed souls. This was a city beyond redemption, it could not be repaired.

    But it could be cleansed.


    Mankey looked down at the device clutched in his left palm, a small black cube with a single red button on one surface. The trigger. When it was pressed, it would set off the chain reaction of explosive devices in the sewers that would tear the city asunder. Buildings would be left as burning twisted piles of metal, the roads would melt from the heat of the flames, the oil refinery would form a particularly spectacular feat, launching shrapnel miles away.

    Everything would perish. From the most brutal of officials to the tiniest of infants, there was no hope for any of them. They needed this as much as he did. This was the only way for them to be free. Someone would find the remains of the ruined city, they could start it fresh. By then, he would be far away.

    Mankey screamed,

    “This is what you deserve. This is what you crave. You did this to me. You made me who I am. I am the harbinger of your destiny. I am the vessel through which your fate will be delivered. You are all nothing but empty husks. Without me, your ascension is impossible.”

    He paused. There was a noise behind him. He gripped the scaffold with his tail for added stability and turned 180 degrees to face what he had heard. Perched perilously on the steel was a Drifloon, she was smiling at him.

    “Hi!” beamed the Drifloon, “whatcha doin?”

    Mankey's eyes rolled. He turned back to face the city.

    “Beat it kid. There are bigger things at play here than you're even capable of understanding. Just go home.”

    “But I don't have a home...” the Drifloon sadly whispered, “but why are you so grumpy anyway?”

    “I'm not 'grumpy'. I am sick of these abhorrent bastardisations and what they have done to me. They cast me out on the streets like they did you to. They made me the monster I am.” Mankey grunted. His nostrils flared and he spat down at the city.

    “You use big words. You're funny!” grinned Drifloon, “Do you want to be friends?”

    “Friends? Friends are an artificial concept created to stop us acting on our primal instincts. Besides, I don't need friends where I'm going.” Mankey leaned over the edge of the Scaffold, facing vertically downwards, the trigger still clasped tightly in his hand.

    “Oh? Are you going somewhere nice? Like a vacation?” Drifloon pondered for a moment.

    Mankey laughed, but not a laugh of joy, more of derision. “Yeah kid, a real long vacation. Somewhere I'll never be disturbed again. Free from the incompetent oligarchy that has gnawed away at the values of this city and caused it to rot to the core.”

    “I don't know what that means but it sounds fun! Can I come with you?” Drifloon edged closer to Mankey.

    Mankey turned to look Drifloon in the eye. “Kid, you obviously don't understand. In my hand there is a trigger. When I press it, it will set off a bomb. That bomb will destroy everything in this city. It will kill everyone. They all deserve it. I am going to kill them all for what they did to me. For what they did to every baby who was thrown out into the alleyway to die.”

    Drifloon was shocked. Tears fell from her eyes. Mankey raised a fist to the sky, ready to press the button.

    “No!” screamed Drifloon as she reached out and grabbed the primate's arm with her tassels, wrapping them around the arm securely. The grip tightened, Mankey's hand was being forcibly opened by the pressure on the muscles.

    “I must do this,” roared the Mankey, flailing at the balloon pokemon with his free arm and tail.

    “I can't let you hurt my friends,” cried Drifloon as she took off into the open sky, holding tightly to the Mankey. But only for a moment.

    The pair began to descend rapidly, the weight of the Pig Monkey was too much for the young balloon. It was a sacrifice she was willing to make. She closed her eyes and awaited the inevitable impact.

    Mankey realised what was going on, she was going to kill herself to stop him. He tried to detonate the trigger but his stubby digits were unable to close on the button. The small red protrusion was teasing him, he was inches away from his salvation but it was just out of reach. He reached for the device with his tail, hoping to just knock the button and put an end to it all.

    He knocked it loose. The small black cube came free from his hand and was now falling beside him. He batted at it with his tail, trying to pull it towards him, but instead launched it directly at Drifloon's face.

    Startled, Drifloon's eyes shot open to see what had just hit her, she saw the black cube falling away from her face and smiled. Then she realised what she had just accomplished. She had saved the city. She raised her tassels in celebration.

    Her empty tassels.




  2. #2
    NSFA Not Safe For Adults's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harbinger

    Finally have a chance to grade this thanks to a snow day of all things. Anyway, claimed. Expect a grade tonight or tomorrow.

  3. #3
    NSFA Not Safe For Adults's Avatar
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    Default Re: Harbinger

    Intro:

    Wow, this certainly packed some punch! I was immediately hooked into your story thanks to the vivid imagery you provided here. Although I actually have never seen Watchmen or V (lol me in charge of watching relevant television), I could still sort of understand how these could inspire you, if that makes any sense.

    I don’t think there is really anything you can improve here. The first half of the story is well-crafted, described impeccably, and features a character and a world that I was actually interested in learning more about. Not to say that all stories need to be grim and dark, but those themes certainly were used to your advantage here and you have quite a bit of skill with creating atmosphere. The stark contrast between the first and second halves of the story is proof that you can shape and change the mood of a work like putty in your hands, which is a skill that is very advanced and not often seen here. Even if the story was a little cliche in nature, I think it’s still very impressive that you can do what you did in this piece, and maybe not even fully realize how much work it takes to be able to illicit such mood whiplash in a reader.

    So since I’m basically talking about the entire plot now lol, mood whiplash is probably not a legitimate term, but it’s what I use to describe the phenomena where a story goes from one end of the thematic/atmospheric spectrum to the other, like the sudden flip of a lightswitch. That’s exactly what you did in just one line:
    “Hi!” beamed the Drifloon, “whatcha doin?”
    I’m going to repeat myself here, but this sudden switch from grimdark angst to comedy was executed stunningly. I wouldn’t use this kind of technique all the time because it loses its flavor that way (and it can come across as cliche), but in this kind of short story it fit perfectly, and I just wanted to praise you for that.

    The ending was also brilliant on your part, by the way. So basically, great job man.

    Description:

    This was also very well done, but it’s also the one section that can always be improved upon. First of all, the characters were not described in much detail. I knew that Mankey had fur, eyes, and a tail, but I didn’t know anything beyond that. The same goes for Drifloon; though you did a bit better with it. Even though the characters are Pokemon and most of us know what they look like, you still need to describe them. That doesn’t mean that they have to have any special features or anything. They can be completely generic, by the book Pokemon, but you still have to describe them, or the reader will feel frustrated as they rack their brain to remember the exact appearance and traits of said Pokemon.

    Otherwise, all I can give out is general advice, like show, don’t tell, and use more of the five senses. Description is basically how you craft your writing, and it’s very much an individual thing. Keep fine-tuning it on your own and with more practice and experience you will improve.

    Grammar:

    Here is where you ran into some problems. Namely with quotation marks/dialogue tags, but they weren’t actually issues with your usage of them, mostly just the verbs you used to describe the character’s way of speaking.

    First, you can’t use verbs such as ‘beamed’ or ‘grinned’ to describe speech. Thus you can’t do sentences like this:
    “You use big words. You're funny!” grinned Drifloon, “Do you want to be friends?”
    Or at least, you can’t use them as you would words like ‘said’ or ‘asked’. When you are using verbs like grinned, you have to do it like this:
    ”You use big words. You’re funny!” Drifloon grinned. “Do you want to be friends?”
    This type of verb has to be used in a separate sentence from each piece of dialogue because it is a verb that doesn’t describe speech/talking. If you used ‘said’, which is a verb that describes speech, you can still use it as you used ‘grinned’ in the original sentence, like so:
    ”You’re funny!” said Drifloon. “Do you want to be friends?”
    Basically, it’s all a matter of what kind of verb it is. Also this is probably really confusing, so if you need any extra help with this, I highly suggest looking up quotation mark grammar online. There are tons of resources and reference sentences available for you to look at and copy the format of.

    Other than that, there weren’t many repeated issues so I’m just going to assume that the other errors present were typos. It happens to the best of us, so just proofread your work, and if you don’t catch it all before posting, no big deal.

    Length:

    It’s a little on the short side, but it’s good enough that this really doesn’t matter.

    Overall:

    You did a fantastic job with this story, and there is no reason why you should have waited this long for a grade since you deserve the little monkey 100%. (I blame it on school getting in the way of our grading time.) For a simple story, you went waaay above and beyond in my opinion. You should definitely try for more difficult to capture Pokemon next time! But anyway, Mankey captured! Have fun with the little guy.

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