Heart of the Forest [SWC]
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    Default Heart of the Forest [SWC]




    Winter had settled in much earlier this year than most. Though it was only September, the chilling breeze that carried with it the lashes of bitter snows had already put the surrounding forest to rest. Even the pokemon, which were normally bustling with activity around this time of year, had seemed to retreat into hibernation. The entire forest seemed to be at rest.

    Except for one, small pokemon on a mission.

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    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” grumbled a cynical old man. His bald head, wrinkled face, and grouchy demeanor was a clear indication that he was less than thrilled to be venturing through the forest. Though he wore the thickest, black winter suit known to man, his poor circulation had prevented his body from heating up, so he shivered in his fur boots. His slight amount of gray facial hair had a thin layer of frost covering it, making his face sting with frigidness. Despite his apparently horrible condition, he seemed to be channeling all his fury at an approaching car.

    A few moments later, the car pulled off to the side of the road. Just a few seconds after that, the door flew open, and out hopped a young girl. Though she couldn’t have been much older than twenty, her amber eyes, hidden behind her rimless glasses, showed knowledge beyond her years. She too donned a snow suit, though hers was pure white, which seemed to blend with the snow.

    “Morning, Edward,” the girl said, though the fake smile on her face showed that her greeting was merely out of courtesy. She held her gloved hand out to Edward to shake it, though he didn’t bother to shake it back.

    “Enough with the talking, Meredith,” Edward snapped. “We’ve got a job that needs to be done. Let’s just get this over with as soon as possible,” he bluntly remarked. Bending over, he picked up his small backpack, consisting of a sleeping bag, several pokeballs, a video camera, and essential living supplies.

    Though Meredith didn’t particularly enjoy Edward’s company either, she was still upset by his words. Nonetheless, she didn’t show any signs of emotion and kept her composure. She grabbed a hold of her bag, which was near identical to Edward’s, and stepped forwards.

    “I’ll lead the way,” she said. She turned around and started walking into the forest. Meredith didn’t turn back around to see if Edward was following her, but she could hear his quiet grumblings to himself as he followed Meredith into the forest.

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    After almost three hours of hiking through the snow-covered forest, Meredith and Edward arrived at a clearing in the forest. Taking the opportunity to rest, eat, and prepare themselves for the second leg of the hike, they both decided to take a break.

    While Edward ate a sandwich and drank black coffee from his thermos, Meredith sat down on a nearby rock. She had her video camera in hand and knew that it was time to document her progress. She turned the camera on, pointed it at her face, and began to talk:

    “Day one, log one,” said Meredith to the camera, “of the expedition through the Tundra Forest of Uncharted Sinnoh. I’ve teamed up with my former colleague, Dr. Edward Edwards from the University in Snowpoint. While neither of us are exactly thrilled to see each other after our last... incident, we’ve cast aside our differences to further the mission,” she said.

    “Our venture into the forest has been rather uneventful. Very few signs of life -- bar the normal vegetation of the forest, of course -- have been spotted the entire time. While I am not too surprised, as winter has already settled in, I would have expected to see some ice pokemon still out of their hibernation. Nonetheless, we’ll continue on our way towards the Heart of the Forest. This is Meredith Banks, signi--” she concluded, before she was interrupted.

    “Explain to the camera what the Heart of the Forest is,” Edward shouted to Meredith, obviously annoyed. “Not everybody is gonna know about it, so explain it like you would to someone who’s never heard of it,” he hollered between sips of coffee.

    Meredith sighed, equally as annoyed at Edward. Though they had talked very little so far, he was already on her nerves; partially because he wouldn’t stop whining about how cold he was, and partially because of their relations from the past. Flashbacks popped into her mind of an expedition much similar to this, though Meredith and Edward had been separated from the beginning, leaving them to fend for their own in the middle of a strange forest. Meredith made it out unscathed. Edward was a little less fortunate.

    Snapping back to reality, Meredith turned back to face the camera. “As my colleague has encouraged me to do,” she said, her voice dripping with annoyance, “an explanation of the Heart of the Forest is needed. Recent studies have shown that an unknown energy source has been radiating from the center of the woods, but any technological items, such as probes and helicopters, have been lost. All communications with them have thus far failed, so we are venturing in in hopes that we’ll discover both the source of the disturbances and the people who became lost in the heart,” she explained.

    “Good enough for me,” Edward said sarcastically, finishing up his meal and coffee. He stuck the thermos back into his bag and stood up from his sitting position.

    “So this is Meredith Banks, signing off. For real this time,” she grumbled as she shut the camera off. She pulled her bag back onto her shoulder, fixed her caramel colored hair, and pulled up her hood.

    “Are you happy?” Meredith asked to Edward. She normally wouldn’t have minded to oblige with a simple request like that, but it was the way that Edward seemed to place himself above her that drove her crazy. Meredith and Edward were both equals in scientific authority -- even with their extreme age difference; it seemed stupid to Meredith if Edward made himself the leader of the group just because he was older.

    “Yes!” he shouted wholeheartedly, though it wasn’t exactly a reply to Meredith’s intended question. Edward was too distracted to comprehend her question, due to his device in his hand that he was grinning at.

    “What is it?” Meredith asked. “What’s going on?”

    “My radar! It’s not working!” he exclaimed. He looked up to face Meredith, his sharp blue eyes gleaming, which was something that Meredith had never seen before. Instead of his usual bitter and cold personality, he actually seemed to be happy, for once in his life.

    “And that’s a good thing?” Meredith asked. She was beyond confused; had Edward eaten something that had finally caused the old cynic to go insane?

    “Yes, it is,” Edward said. “If our electrical equipment is failing, that must mean we’re close to the Heart!” he smiled. “We’re just about at our destination!”

    “That’s right!” she exclaimed. “Wonderful job, Edward.”

    “Don’t talk down to me,” he snapped, regaining his old composure. “Yes, I did do a wonderful job, but you’re not the one to tell me that. I’m the one in charge of this mission, okay? We don’t want a repeat of last time,” he said harshly.

    Meredith was about to say something, but she stopped herself and merely sighed. Edward would never let her forget that mistake that she made, no matter what she did to prove him wrong.

    “Let’s just go, okay?” Meredith said. “You lead the way,” she mumbled.

    “That’s right,” Edward said smugly. He looked at his fading radar, took a few steps in each direction to see where it became stronger and weaker, then tucked it back into his bag. “It’s this way,” he determined, pointing to the northeast of their current spot.

    “I’m right behind you,” Meredith said, moving towards the area where Edward had pointed. It didn’t look much different than any other place in the massive forest, but she trusted Edward’s better judgement and followed him through the thick bushes.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    Not even ten minutes had passed from when the left the clearing until they arrived at another. In the center of this clearing, a massive tree stood, taller and wider than any other in the forest. Yet again, there were no signs of pokemon life in sight.

    “You think this is it?” Meredith asked to Edward.

    “I know this is it,” he said. He gestured up to the massive tree’s long system of branches. Buried deep within them was the helicopter that had gone missing several months ago.

    “Oh my god,” Meredith uttered. “Do you think they’re still alive?” she asked to Edward.

    “Probably not. They’ve been missing for months, and they only brought along enough supplies for a helicopter ride, not a voyage through the forest,” Edward said.

    “We need to look for them,” she said. “That was part of our mission. Even if they’re dead, we can’t leave anything to chance!”

    “Calm down, Meredith!” he said, the familiar tone of annoyance taking over. “We were sent here to search for them, so search for them we will,” he said.

    “Okay,” Meredith exhaled, glad to know that Edward still had at least a shred of sympathy left in him. “Where should we look first? Perhaps we should split up?” she asked.

    “We’re not splitting up again. Do I honestly have to keep reminding you of the last expedition? I almost got killed because of you saying we should ‘split up’,” he said. He lifted up his shirt to reveal a massive scar that stretched all across his chest. “We’re sticking together,” he said in a determined voice.

    Meredith sighed once more as she dropped her gaze to the ground. If she had been more careful in her decision making, Edward might have been able to avoid his incident with the Zangoose. If she hadn’t decided to split up, Edward wouldn’t have gotten lost and he never would have been injured. If she had done what she should have, Edward, her former mentor, wouldn’t hate her.

    “Alright,” Edward said, deciding to speak due to Meredith’s silence, “we’ll start by looking underneath the crash site. They would have needed shelter, and the tree is more than big enough to provide it,” he said. Without looking to see if Meredith followed, Edward ventured off to the base of the tree.

    Despite feeling utterly horrible, Meredith followed Edward to the crash site. She didn’t have much of a choice, really, if she didn’t want Edward to bring up the expedition again.

    “Anything there?” she asked from afar, as Edward was already underneath the helicopter.

    “Nothing that looks like a place for refuge for some people that just had a helicopter crash,” Edward said. “Wait,” Edward said, obviously intrigued by something, “there are tracks in the snow. They look pretty recent, too. Meredith, you might want to come look at this,” he said.

    Meredith picked up her pace, wondering what it was that had piqued Edward’s interest. Tracks in the snow in the furthest point away from humanity in the forest seemed the most logical place to find them, but no pokemon seemed to be around.

    “Where are they?” Meredith asked as she rounded the corner. However, she didn’t need an answer from Edward, for, as soon as she reached him, they were clear as day.

    “What do you think they are?” Edward asked. He hadn’t spent nearly as much time with pokemon as Meredith had, so his tracking abilities were much rustier than Meredith’s.

    “Give me a second,” she replied. She pulled out a magnifying glass from her bag and began inspecting the tracks.

    “Clearly an arachnid,” Meredith thought to herself. “The condensed snow along the sides of the tracks indicate that it has fur or hair on its legs, meaning it’s probably a native to cold places. The pointed ends show that it has claws, meaning it has to either fend off other pokemon or attack them. The elongated body means that it’s more than likely an evolved pokemon, which also means that it puts its claws to good use. The pattern in which it crosses the snow indica--”

    “Hurry it up already!” Edward’s voice rang through Meredith’s head, interrupting her thoughts. “What kind of pokemon is it?” he asked, frustrated.

    “I’m... I’m not sure,” Meredith sighed, knowing it would upset Edward. “It has the build of an arachnid and has fur on its legs,” Meredith said.

    “That sounds like a Galvantula to me,” Edward said in a mocking tone. “Seriously, Meredith, are you sure you spent years on this topic?” he questioned.

    “A Galvantula in Sinnoh? Not just in Sinnoh, but in the coldest part of the world?” Meredith said. “Galvantulas live in damp, moist, and warm caves, not frozen tundras. Their bug typings would get them killed in a second in this terrain,” she explained.

    “Well, did any members of the crew have a Galvantula on their team?” Edward asked, now just as puzzled as Meredith was.

    “Negative. I studied all the crew’s pokemon team’s before leaving, and no one had anything that could even be identified as an arachnid,” Meredith answered.

    “Strange...” Edward trailed off. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t it snow this morning?”

    “It did. Rather strongly, if I remember correctly,” Meredith said.

    “Then that must mean that these tracks are fresh,” Edward replied. “These tracks must have been made today.”

    Meredith’s eyes lit up as she realized what Edward was saying. “So we aren’t the only things in this forest after all?”

    “It would appear that way.” Edward nodded his head sagely.

    “The tracks are headed that way, away from where we entered,” Meredith said. “The snow is compressed around its fur so that it’s dragging the bristles north. Should we follow it?” Meredith asked.

    “Of course! This is one of the most important scientific discoveries we’ve had so far!” Edward exclaimed. “A Galvantula living in the wild in the arctic tundra of Sinnoh!”

    “Al--Alright,” Meredith stuttered, unsure of her feelings about following the tracks. She was just as fascinated with the tracks as Edward was, but it was what she might find that was scaring her.

    Following the tracks, Edward and Meredith rounded the corner of the massive tree. Just as they had predicted, the tracks continued on until they rounded another corner. They followed them again, all the while wondering where it was leading them to.

    Turning the corner once more, the tracks suddenly met with others. It appeared to be the same type of footprints as well, though they were splintering off into hundreds of different branches.

    “Do you think they’re all the same pokemon?” Edward asked. “They all seem to meet at this same point.” Edward pointed to a spot directly next to the tree.

    After examining some of the various tracks, Meredith looked back up to Edward. “No, it can’t be that. All the tracks are aiming to this one spot, not different splinters of it. It seems like all the pokemon that left these tracks arrived at this spot, but never left it,” Meredith said.

    “Well, they obviously left it. Where are they if they never left?” Edward asked.

    “Their tracks all lead here, Edward,” Meredith replied. “They never went away from here. Whatever happened to them made them vanish. Maybe it’s the energy that causes our devices to stop working?”

    “Possibly,” Edward said, stroking his chin. His brow was knitted, which was a sign that he was extremely puzzled, and one that Meredith could easily identify.

    Suddenly, out of the nearby trees, a Joltik scurried towards the tree. The Joltik had many small berries and nuts on its back, many more than it could have eaten. It appeared to be completely oblivious to the Edward and Meredith as it approached the tree. However, as soon as it turned towards the apparent gather spot, it saw the two doctors and instantly froze in its tracks.

    “A wild Joltik? Here?” Meredith asked in disbelief. “That’s impossible!” Meredith shouted a little too loudly.

    “Don’t startle it, Meredith!” Edward harshly whispered. “We’ve got to catch it and take it back to the laboratory!” Edward said, pulling out a pokeball from his bag.

    Surprisingly, the Joltik had yet to flee from the two humans. It seemed to be entirely petrified; even its eyes, which were always darting on a typical Joltik, were completely stopped.

    “Go, Pikachu!” Edward said, tossing out his electric yellow mouse. With its cheeks sparking, it locked on to the Joltik. “Use Shock Wave!” he yelled.

    The Pikachu charged at the Joltik, its cheek’s sparks changing from a dull yellow to a vibrant blue. When the Pikachu was about ten feet away from the yellow spider, it released the electricity from its control. The bolt fired straight through the air, connecting with the Joltik and knocking it several feet back, causing all the supplies on its back to fly through the air with it.

    The Joltik, despite being terrified for its life, couldn’t move from the ground. The spider had been paralyzed and couldn’t even stand up. The Pikachu’s Shock Wave, while a weak move in general, had dealt substantial damage to the Joltik, proving that it was a very young and inexperienced pokemon.

    “Okay, time for a pokeball,” Edward said to himself as he reached into his bag and pulled out an empty one. He expanded the pokeball, tossed it towards the Joltik, and crossed his fingers as the ball approached the Joltik.

    Seeing the pokeball as it neared, the Joltik became completely stoic, as if the paralyzation had instantly been removed. Just before the pokeball made contact with it, the Joltik’s naturally cerulean eyes became a blood red color and its mouth opened wide as a shriek ripped through the silent clearing. Mere moments later, the pokeball absorbed the Joltik, and, after three small movements from the pokeball, the Joltik was captured.

    “That was strange,” Edward remarked as he bent down to grab the pokeball. “I’ve never seen a Joltik do something like that,” he added.

    “That’s because they can’t,” Meredith said. The stress in her voice was evident. “That Joltik wasn’t doing that as an attack; it was doing that as an alarm system,” she said. “It was carrying supplies on its back. More supplies than it could have possibly needed. It was coming back to the hive,” Meredith explained.

    Suddenly, a slimy ball of corrosive saliva dropped down from the tree’s branches. The sludge burned its way through the snow, leaving a nauseating stench behind.

    Meredith and Edward both looked up at the same time. Directly above them hung a massive Galvantula, droplets of the green, poisonous spit hanging from its mouth. Its eyes, much like the ones the Joltik had exhibited for a short while, were blood red. Its fur seemed jagged and treacherous in itself, for dried blood was caked on its legs, pincers, and mouth, which was not reassuring to either of the doctors.

    “Back away slowly,” Edward whispered to Meredith, keeping his gaze fixed on the hideous monstrosity of a pokemon.

    However, as soon as the words left Edward’s mouth, the Galvantula let out a shriek so loud, it shook the ground, as well as the entire tree. The Galvantula then opened its mouth, though it did so rather grotesquely. Much like an anaconda’s mouth split into four, separate pieces of the entire mouth, the Galvantula’s mouth divided into six, revealing layers upon layers of razor sharp, serrated teeth which were coated in the same corrosive saliva.

    From its mouth fired a long strand of sticky silk that latched onto Edward’s leg. Surprisingly, the saliva didn’t touch the spider’s silk, so Edward’s snowsuit remained intact. However, the strand had latched onto Edward and wouldn’t let go, no matter how hard he tried to pull it away.

    “Meredith, help me!” Edward shouted. “Pikachu, use Thunderbolt on the Galvantula!” he ordered to his pokemon.

    While Meredith began pulling Edward back from the spider pokemon, Pikachu charged up and fired off a Thunderbolt aimed directly at the Galvantula. Even though the electric-typed move wouldn’t be very effective against the electric-typed pokemon, Thunderbolt was a strong move in itself, so the attack connected with the Galvantula, causing noticeable damage to it.

    However, the moment after the Thunderbolt attack hit, another Galvantula dropped out of the branches. It had seen the Pikachu attack its comrade, so the look in its eyes was one that meant murder. Using the same move that the other Galvantula had used on Edward, Pikachu was attached to the silk.

    “Pikachu, no!” Edward cried as he saw the Galvantula pull the string toward itself, dragging the Pikachu along with it.

    With no orders from its distraught trainer, the Pikachu fired an electric shot at the Galvantula through the string, zapping the Galvantula in the throat. The Galvantula shrieked in pain, but, when it had come to, it glared the Pikachu down while sucking in the entire string.

    The Pikachu was dragged across the ground and thrown into the Galvantula’s mouth, the thousands of sharp teeth ripping the pokemon to shreds.

    “NO!” Edward cried out, his lifelong partner just killed right before his eyes. Tears came to his eyes as he realized the gravity of the situation.

    “Edward, we have to get you out of here!” Meredith exclaimed. While she knew that the Pikachu’s life had come to an end, she also knew that Edward’s would as well if he gave up now.

    Several more Galvantulas appeared in the branches. Mimicking the first Galvantula, they too fired strands of spider silk at the two doctors, now attaching to Meredith’s back and Edward’s chest.

    “They’re taking us up to their hive!” Meredith exclaimed, tears and sweat dripping down her face.

    More Galvantulas appeared and fired their silks at them, snatching both of their bags and attaching themselves even more.

    “I can feel it! They’re climbing back up the tree!” Meredith cried, looking up. Exactly like she had predicted, the Galvantulas were carrying her and Edward in a cocoon of spider webs.

    More Galvantulas appeared. There had to be at least fifty now, all pulling the cocoon of Meredith and Edward higher and higher into the branches of the tree.

    The scenery around them changed. What once used to be a frozen tundra soon became a humid, dark habitat inside the tree, the branches blocking out all light. The only visible light was the radioactively glowing webs of the Galvantula, making Meredith and Edward’s cocoon like a sun in the dark.

    They rose higher and higher until they entered a hole in the tree. Though they were completely covered in silk and could see barely anything, they heard scurrying noises around them that sounded of a thousand creatures. The stench was unbearable too; if their noses hadn’t been semi-covered by the webbing, both Meredith and Edward would have lost their stomachs.

    They continued to rise through the massive tree until they reached a stop. When Meredith opened her eyes, she saw that the Galvantulas had removed the other end of their strings from their mouths and dropped them in their cocoons on a ledge at the top of the tree.

    Meredith finally gathered the courage to speak, now that all the Galvantulas had left. “What do you think they’re going to do with us?” she asked, though her voice faltered about halfway through and she ended with a croak.

    “They’re going to kill us, obviously. Just like they killed my Pikachu,” Edward murmured remorsefully. For the first time, Meredith saw a single tear fall from Edward’s eye.

    “There’s nothing you could have done, Edward,” Meredith reassured. “We came into this way unprepared. Nobody was expecting this, especially not us.”

    “That doesn’t change the fact of the matter, sweetheart,” Edward bitterly replied. “My Pikachu is dead. My best friend was just killed in front of me. There is nothing you can say that will change that, so you might as well stop talking until we also are dead. It won’t be long anyway.”

    Meredith tried to think of a response, but she realized that everything Edward had just said was true. She let out a muffled sob as she buried her face into her winter coat.

    “Is this how it’s going to end?” Meredith asked herself. ”Am I going to be eaten by some mutant freaks of nature?" She let out another restrained sob.

    “We can’t let this be the end,” Meredith whispered. While it was mainly to herself, Edward heard her speak and sighed.

    “This is the end,” Edward replied.

    “It can’t be!” Meredith screamed as she stood up. “There must be something we can do! Anything at all that can save us! My life can’t finish like this!”

    A quiet noise from outside of the cocoon was heard by Meredith. She reached her head out of the small opening in the top of the cocoon, turning her head to see what was the cause of the commotion.

    Directly next to the cocoon was a helicopter pilot’s uniform, complete with the badge that proved he was on a scientific mission. However, it wasn’t the pile of bones next to the uniform that had made the sound.

    A single pokeball had wiggled out of the uniform pocket. It rolled across the ledge until it bumped into the cocoon.

    “Edward! There’s a pokeball here!” Meredith exclaimed, tapping Edward multiple times on the shoulder. “It’s just out of my reach,” she said after attempting to grab it. “Do you think you could reach it? Your arms are longer than mine.”

    “Yes, but I can’t stretch like I used to be able to. Not after that I got that scar,” Edward said. “What’s the point, anyway? It’s not like we’ll be able to escape anyway. We’re thousands of feet up in the air.”

    “Edward, you have to try,” Meredith begged. “This might be our only chance out of here. You might want to shrivel up and die, but I want to live. Please, help me.”

    Edward sighed, another rogue tear falling off of his wrinkled cheek. “You remind me of myself, when I was younger.” Edward smiled. He stood up off of the ground and reached his arm out to grab the pokeball. Though the scab on his scar was splitting with every inch he stretched, causing excruciating pain, he remained completely silent. With one final stretch of his arm, he grabbed ahold of the pokeball and quickly brought it back to the cocoon.

    “Here,” Edward gasped, handing Meredith the pokeball. “Take it. It found you, so you should release it,” Edward added with heavy breaths.

    Meredith nodded her head as she accepted the pokeball. ”Please help us. Please save us from this horrible fate,” Meredith thought to the pokeball. Meredith clicked the center of the pokeball, releasing a flash of bright light and a pokemon in the cocoon.

    Once the light had subsided, a dark green, toadstool like pokemon appeared. It had beady black eyes and stood on its two feet with its two, claw-like arms aimed in front of it, much like a kangaroo.

    “It’s a Breloom,” Meredith said, staring at the pokemon. “Look, Edward! The Breloom has claws! It can cut through the web!” she exclaimed.

    Edward’s eyes lit up. “There may be a chance yet,” he said to himself. With great difficulty, Edward stood up off the ground again, trying as hard as he could to not tear his scab any further.

    “Okay, Breloom, we’re going to need you to slice your way through the cocoon to get us out of here,” Meredith explained to the pokemon. “Do you think you can do that?” she asked hopefully.

    The Breloom nodded its head, bounded towards the edge of the cocoon, and, with its red colored claws, slashed its way through the sticky webbing. Moments later, an entire side of the cocoon had been sliced away, leaving one edge intact so it formed a door of sorts.

    “We can get out!” Meredith said to Edward, a smile of hope on her face. “We just have to find a way to the bottom of the tree,” Meredith added.

    “Over there!” Edward exclaimed, pointing to a opening in the tree. It seemed to be the only source of light for the entire interior of the tree. Edward followed the light to see that the branch was connected to the ledge that the cocoon currently rested on.

    There was just one problem; surrounding the opening to the outside world were two Galvantulas. They had their red, radioactive eyes patrolling the nearby area, making sure that nothing was capable of escaping.

    “How are we going to be able to get past them?” Meredith asked to Edward. “If they know we’ve escaped, they’re going to kill us instantly,” Meredith said.

    “Then we’ll wait. We’ll wait until the Galvantula give us the opportunity to escape. The moment that opportunity presents itself, we’ll bolt,” Edward replied. “Let’s get back in the cocoon, so it’ll draw less attention to us.” They folded over the door and sat back in the cocoon, returning the Breloom to its pokeball.

    “It’s going to be a while, isn’t it?” Meredith asked to Edward.

    Edward nodded slowly as he too sat down on the floor.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Whether it had been minutes, hours, or days, neither Edward nor Meredith could tell. The Galvantulas that were protecting the hole had more endurance than any other human, as they stayed the entire time without changing guards. Even as the sunlight turned into moonlight, the same patrolling Galvantulas remained.

    Meredith woke up, realizing that she had fallen to sleep. Standing up, Meredith saw that the same Galvantula guards remained, just as alert and deadly as ever. However, something seemed different. Instead of the normal scurrying noises of Galvantula claws scraping all across the wooden tree, they all seemed concentrated. It seemed to be just behind the cocoon, but, when Meredith turned her head, she saw nothing there.

    “Edward,” Meredith said, shaking the sleeping old man from his slumber. “Edward, something’s different. Can’t you hear it?” Meredith asked.

    Edward groggily returned to consciousness until he heard Meredith’s quivering voice. He then immediately shot straight up, though he instantly regretted it, as he had ripped his scab once more. He let out a muffled cry of pain before standing up carefully.

    “You’re right. They don’t seemed to be spread out throughout the entire hive. They actually seem to be... concentrated very close to us,” Edward remarked.

    ”It’sss feeding time, my litttle onessss,” hissed a voice directly behind them.

    Meredith and Edward both spun around to see what the source was. Floating several feet off of the ground, a Rotom, surrounded by a large, electric field, grinned wildly. Directly below it were several Galvantulas and Joltiks, but the Rotom’s light stretched far behind itself, showing that there were hundreds waiting to charge them.

    ”Beginnnn,” the Rotom hissed. All the pokemon behind the Rotom surged forward in a mad blood rush to kill the two doctors.

    “Now’s our time to leave!” Meredith exclaimed as she flung open the wall of the cocoon. She released the Breloom from its pokeball and began running towards the still heavily guarded opening.

    Edward tried to keep up, but his tired muscles, old age, and horrific pain from his chest restrained him. He could only run half of the speed of Meredith, even if he hadn’t been too terrified to run at full speed. He still had the distance advantage on the approaching hordes of pokemon, but they were gaining on him fast.

    “Wai..Wait up!” Edward yelled between gasps. “I can’t... keep up with... with you!” he said.

    “Edward, if we don’t go as fast as we can now, there’s no way we’ll ever be able to escape here!” Meredith exclaimed.

    Edward sighed in both frustration and desperation, for he knew Meredith was right. If he couldn’t keep away from the approaching mob of pokemon, he wouldn’t be able to survive.

    The Breloom saw Edward struggling to keep up, turned around, and picked the old man up into its arms, which were surprisingly long for a Breloom. It then began running towards the exit. While the two of them together were going faster than Edward was, they still weren’t fast enough to increase the distance between the wild pokemon.

    The Galvantulas guarding the exit noticed the two escapees and the Breloom headed their direction and split their mouths into the several separate mandibles as they prepared to attack.

    Meredith skidded to a stop to avoid being eaten by the Galvantulas in front of her. “Breloom, I need you!” Meredith exclaimed as she carefully backed away from the guarding pokemon.

    The Breloom rushed forward and dropped Edward down next to Meredith. Directly afterwards, it charged at the guarding Galvantulas with its fists glowing blue. Just before the Galvantulas would have been able to chomp down on the Breloom, it swung each of its fists into each Galvantula’s gut, sending them flying out of the opening in the tree.

    “C’mon, Edward. We’re almost out of here,” Meredith said. However, in the time they had spent waiting for Breloom to dispose of the guards, the Rotom and its followers had cornered them, leaving the only way out the hole in the side of the tree.

    “Giive up, mortalssss,” the Rotom hissed as it and its pack slowly drifted closer and closer to the doctors. “You can’ttt defeat me!”

    Meredith stepped back with the approaching mob until she was nearly forced out the exit, with Edward and Breloom right next to her. She peered back for a moment and spotted that the crashed helicopter was in the branch that connected with the exit.

    “Edward, the helicopter!” Meredith exclaimed to her partner.

    “It’s not going to work, remember?” Edward asked. “Electronics are still being blocked, so autopilot doesn’t work, and you don’t know how to fly a helicopter.”

    Thinking back to the field of electricity surrounding the Rotom, Meredith had a sudden and brilliant idea.

    “It’s the Rotom!” she exclaimed. “That’s what’s causing the energy disturbances up here! If we take out the Rotom, we take out the energy field, and we’ll be able to fly away!”

    “How do you know?” Edward asked. “If we make the wrong decision, it could cost us our lives!”

    “We’re going to die regardless. We might as well risk it and hope for survival,” Meredith said.

    Edward paused for a minute before nodding. “How do we get to the Rotom?” Edward asked. Even though the horde of pokemon had already pushed them out onto the branch, the Rotom floated in the center of the mob.

    The Breloom stepped forwards rather than backwards. With a determined gaze, it spotted the floating pokemon and began preparing an attack.

    “What are you doing?” Meredith asked to the pokemon, even though she knew the Breloom was incapable of answering her.

    Turning back to Meredith for the slightest moment, the Breloom’s eyes connected with Meredith, and that was all she needed to understand. The Breloom was sacrificing itself so that Meredith and Edward could continue. The Breloom reached for its stomach, opened up a very small marsupial pouch that had been concealed the whole time, and pulled out an egg. The Breloom placed the egg in Meredith’s hands before turning back around to face the approaching pokemon.

    Charging forward, the Breloom put every move in its arsenal into his attack. Combining things such as Energy Ball, Sludge Bomb, Venoshock, Stone Edge, and many more, the Breloom jumped into the air and crashed into the Rotom. A massive explosion knocked both pokemon back, with Breloom barely landing on the the branch.

    After the chaos had passed, the Galvantulas saw a vulnerable, passed out Breloom lying down on the branch. Taking the opportunity they had been going for the entire time, the Galvantulas pounced with their razor sharp teeth faced first. It was only a few moments until the Breloom was no more.

    Once the Galvantulas had finished their meal, they looked up, still hungry for more. The scent of the two humans was still active and lead down the tree branch. The Galvantulas scurried down to find where they were.

    “Electronics are stable!” Meredith exclaimed when she turned on the helicopter. “We’re actually going to be able to get out of here! It’s just going to take a few seconds to power up!”

    “Quick, Meredith, the Galvantulas know that we haven’t left yet,” Edward said. “They’ve followed our scent to the helicopter. If we don’t get away from them now, we never will!”

    Loud banging noises were heard as several Galvantulas hopped onto the roof of the helicopter. They crawled around on top, looking for a place to enter the flying craft.

    “Meredith, we need to leave right now!” Edward shouted. However, as soon as the words left his mouth, a Galvantula broke its way through the windshield, sending shards of glass everywhere.

    “All systems are online!” Meredith exclaimed as she ducked away from the flying pieces of glass. “Autopilot is engaging now!”

    The helicopter whirred to life, creating gusts of wind that blew back the majority of the Galvantulas that were still on the branch. However, the Galvantulas that had hopped on the helicopter were not thrown off. In fact, the movement seemed to aggravate them even more.

    The Galvantula that had broken the windshield of the helicopter fired a string of sticky webbing at Edward, which narrowly missed his face and stuck to the chair.

    “Quick, throw them off!” Edward exclaimed. “Spin the helicopter, flip it, do whatever you have to do!”

    “I can’t control the helicopter without disengaging the autopilot!” Meredith cried.

    “You have to do something! We won’t be able to get rid of the Galvantulas if you don’t!”

    Meredith, under stress and fearing for her partner’s life, disengaged the autopilot, causing the helicopter to drop in an instant free fall. The Galvantula was thrown off of the helicopter’s front.

    “Engage it again! The Galvantula fell off!” Edward shouted.

    Meredith nodded her head and flipped the switch back on. The helicopter immediately stabilized, causing both Meredith and Edward to be thrown back into their chairs.

    Also causing the Galvantula to drop down on the hood of the helicopter once more. While it had been thrown off of the helicopter, it still had its spider web tethered to the back of Edward’s seat.

    “Edward, watch out!” Meredith cried, but it was too late. The Galvantula fired another spider web at Edward, which struck him directly in the chest. Before he could even react, the Galvantula jumped off of the helicopter, pulling Edward down with him.

    “NO!” Meredith yelled. She reached her head out of the shattered windshield to see that the Galvantula had attached itself to a tree before smacking the ground. Edward had been a little less fortunate. Edward’s body was barely recognizable; he appeared to be separated into several broken pieces, with only streams of crimson blood connecting them.

    Meredith sat back down in her chair. She was sobbing, tears streaming down her face like a river, but her throat refused to make a noise. She was too shocked to do anything. She could only cover her mouth with one hand and hold the egg with the other as the helicopter brought the shattered scientist back to civilization.

    Reaching into her bag, Meredith grabbed her camera and set it down on a stable surface in front of her. She gathered herself as much as she could, wiped her tears, and turned on the camera to record.

    “Doctor Edward Edwards is dead. He was killed by a mutant Galvantula who ripped him out of a flying helicopter and let him free fall to his death. His pokemon partner, Pikachu, died just before him, who too was murdered by the Galvantula. The helicopter crew who went to search this place is killed, for they were eaten alive by the pack. The sole surviving pokemon of the helicopter team, Breloom, is also dead, sacrificing its life to take out a Rotom.”

    “But my life must go on. I must tell everyone to never come here. I must make sure that these mutant Galvantulas never hurt another person. I must avenge all the deaths that I have witnessed from these monsters. Edward, the helicopter crew, Pikachu, and Breloom will not have died in vain. I will raise the Breloom’s child as if it were my own. I will take the Joltik and learn it to make sure that no one will ever have to live in fear of a Galvantula.”

    “Never again will anyone have to endure the Heart of the Forest.”

    -----------------------------------------

    Back inside the massive tree, the collection of pokemon regrouped once more. The fallen Rotom, who had been knocked out by the Breloom’s combination of attacks, was just coming to.

    “Master, are you alright?” asked a Galvantula to the Rotom.

    “Yesss, you fool,” the Rotom harshly retorted, levitating itself off of the ground. “I amm invinccible. Nothing can sssstop me.”

    “But, master, the female escaped. She’ll warn others to never return,” the Galvantula said. “Will we ever feed again?”

    “Patiencccee,” hissed the Rotom. “Many more will come in time. Ssssoon, they will forgetttt, and they will returrrn. We need only wait untilll we feed once morrrre. We will feed again, forrr we have allll the time in the worrrrld.”
    Last edited by Princess Crow; 14th August 2012 at 06:36 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Heart of the Forest [SWC] (Needs Grade)

    Story: Oooh, this is morbid. I feel like I've just finished watching a horror film; you even carried the same spirit of killing everyone off but a single survivor! Heehee. Surprisingly, I haven't read a story quite like this one here before. It was a cool and refreshing to have it conclude on a note that was so grim.

    In a nutshell, we have your protagonists exploring an obscure part of the Tundra Forest in search of information regarding several unexplained disappearances, then begin a battle for their lives when they encounter the Pokemon responsible for it all. It's a single-layered narrative that follows a clear path of rising action. In my opinion, I found your pacing to be just right. Your introduction was calm and slow, giving us time to absorb your setting and characters before you picked up speed into the revelation of the Heart of the Forest's secret, and later into the action-packed finale. I love reading stories this smooth; it makes them a breeze.

    However, one of the few things I found this story to be lacking of was chemistry between your characters. While the history between Meredith and Edward was vaguely touched on at various points throughout the story, their interaction was dull and dry. I understand that the issues of their past kept them from developing the typical comradery that would have probably resulted from this experience, but we should still feel that disdain. Stating their affection for each other (or lack thereof, in this case) in a monologue is not the same as writing raw emotion. We want to feel the awkward silences, the annoyance, mistrust, and resentment that each of them apparently have for each other. We want to relate to them, but if we care about your characters, then we will care about what happens to them. Death, suffering, and loss will have a much bigger impact. And because we really only got a surface view of the characters, their deaths did not bother me as much as they probably should have.

    To elaborate, Pikachu's death was abrupt and painless. He had only been introduced a few paragraphs before his depart, so not only did we not get to know him, there was insignificant time allotted to create feeling toward him in the first place. This made his death feel redundant, other than to be a tiny plot device to give Edward his depressed mood and pessimistic view of survival. I wanted to witness that relationship more. We should feel the pain that Edward does, so we can relate and experience the adventure as he experiences it. Alongside this, Breloom was the other character I was very disappointed to lose. And bluntly, the disappointment wasn't that she died, but that she died before we started caring about her. We learn her courage and immediate dedication to helping Meredith and Edward stemmed from the instinct to protect her baby only just before she was obliterated. She had no personality until after she was already gone. These things you touch on are such rich ideas; it was a shame to not see them shine, because you certainly have the skills to write the entire package.

    Edward's death seemed the most incomplete of all, and it was mostly in the way of how it impacted Meredith. Towards the end, with did see the both of them developing a hint of acceptance for each other, what with Edward reluctantly trusting his former protégé and all. But writing tears doesn't share how she actually felt about it apart from the obvious, one-dimensional layer of shock and sadness. Saying that though, it did kind of work for you in this story because of the whole grimdark thing and mood of horror. People die erratically in horrors all the time, who am I to say they need more substance!? ;P

    In the end, this is an area that normally isn't touched on for a story of Medium rank; it was just written so well that there's not much I can honestly critique without going into deeper and more advanced aspects of it. And I don't want you to think I am being negative, because this story was impeccable and very well done. :)


    Grammar: Goodness me. Another one of those authors with virtually flawless grammar. What am I to do?!

    Spelling, punctuation, sentence structure... SILLY GRAMMAR, YOU ARE NO MATCH FOR PRINCESS CROW. I also only noticed like two typos. =/ In all laziness honesty, I don't remember any grammatical error at all, but I suppose I was too busy enjoying the story and not paying attention. :3

    So yeah, not much to say here. Why include this section at all, you ask? Good question!

    Description: Fluid and lovely. Finally, someone who knows that details are the seasoning and not the batter. I never felt they were packed in pointlessly, like so many people seem to do. The images were light, but vivid, and everything was described in lively way that constantly held my interest. The ONLY thing I would recommend is to try to vary your words a bit more. Often when describing something, you would refer to it mutliple times in the same way.

    For instance:



    "Forest" is used over and over, which can become noticeably cringe-worthy when reading. Vary your nouns by substituting them for more unique, or less formal versions of themselves to keep things fresh and interesting. 'Woods', 'woodland', 'grove' could all be appropriately exchanged for forest without changing your structure. And if you find yourself using the same word in your descriptions and can't think of a synonym, grab a thesaurus. There are loads of them online. The same thing happened a bit with your proper nouns. "Meredith" can become 'the lady', 'the woman', or even 'she'. :P

    Oh, and I lied; ONE MORE THING. While your details were clear and consistent, there were often times I felt the style drifted towards what I'd call "descriptive tunnel vision' - where your focus was always on the immediate picture before you and shrouded everything else in darkness. Think about expanding your range a bit wider, and remember that just because you described something once, doesn't mean you should check it off the list. The appearances of your characters and their surroundings should trickle in constantly. But that said, you tackled this section like a champion.

    Climax: Here's where things get juicy. Your portrayal of the Galvantula was wonderfully disturbing. I'd never thought of them to be particularly intimidating, but now I'll be thinking twice if I come across one in the games!

    Everything came together in final, thrilling scene where Meredith, Edward, and Breloom fought their way out of the giant spiders' nest. It was balanced for the most part, perhaps the physical struggle towards the end could have been embellished a bit more, but it still kept me on the edge of my seat. The conflict all came to a peak perfectly in the final moment of seemingly unavoidable impending doom, and I actually breathed a sigh of relief when the helicopter finally took off. BUT THEN EDWARD DIED ANYWAY, GRRR. I liked the twist with Rotom, and his character was convincingly creepy despite having to compete with a bunch of giant electric arachnids with razor sharp teeth. :P His final words were eerie and a perfect conclusion to this tale.

    The only thing I'm wondering: why were those Pokemon in that tree in the first place? The strangeness of Pokemon living in a cold, abandoned Tundra was foreshadowed several times throughout the story, but was never explained. It would have been interesting to hear the origin of that story. But you've already got 40,000+ characters sitting in here for two Medium pokes.... shame on you for making me want more!

    Outcome: Yeah yeah, Joltik and Shroomish - captured! This is a fine specimen and over achievement for the little creatures. Your tale had little error in every category and blew this Medium ranking out of the water. Well done. :) It's nice to have nothing to focus on evaluating but the plot itself, even if it makes for a puny grade. You made my job too easy!

    Please keep writing, because your talent is a refreshing addition to the Stories section. :)
    Last edited by EmBreon; 14th August 2012 at 06:11 PM.

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