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  #1    
Old January 19th, 2012, 07:07 PM
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PlayingAmongStars
Beginning Trainer
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Boston
Nature: Careful
So I'm pretty much jumping headfirst into these forums. I read the rules and everything, but this is only my sixteenth post here. Hopefully that won't be painfully obvious.

As you could probably gather from the title, this story is about a zombie apocalypse. It's very loosely based off the plot of Pokemon Platinum, and also very loosely tells the story of my Nuzlocke run through that game. It's currently hosted elsewhere up to Chapter Nineteen, and was originally posted on the Nuzlocke Forums. That isn't really important though, as I'm going to go one chapter at a time on this site.

This story is rated T for violence including blood and gore, as well as mild swearing and sadness.

PART ONE: I AM (NOT) MADE OF GOLD
PROLOGUE


Leo smirked at me, his amber eyes lit up by the dying summer sunlight. A cold breeze blew through his hair, long blonde pieces flying opposite the way they rest. He leaned against a pale steel railing, his back to the city of Oreburgh spread out below us. His bare hands lay on the ledge, elbows locked and shoulders hunched in a detached, confident manner. "I still have trouble believing you actually earned that badge. You know, the fair way." He was only teasing, but it was getting on my nerves. I had made the long journey to Oreburgh with him, putting up with his constant joking for nearly two months.

"Really," I responded flatly, deciding not to humor him this time. Walking past him, I crossed my arms on the railing and rested my chin in them. A thin-furred, bright orange Chimchar leapt up beside my face with ease, climbing to the top rail in order to get a better look at the view. I scanned the gradually darkening horizon, watching crowds of Zubat fly from the trees in flocks to begin their nightly hunt. The city stirred faintly, small bubbles of conversation reaching us on the roof of the Pokémon Center. Children ran about, playing with fake Pokeballs and having mock battles dangerously close to the not-quite-still streets.

"Yep," Leo turned around, mimicking my position by laying his cheek against his wrists on the top rail. "I mean, your starter's just not suited for facing Rock-types," the little orange Chimp Pokémon glanced down at him disapprovingly, and he laughed in response. "No offense, Scout. Of course." He ruffled the hair on top of her head, causing her to climb away from him and jump to the ground. She walked to my other side, sitting down against the wall and patting her fur down as best she could.

I sighed and bent down to pick her up. She lay comfortably in my arms, yawning a bit as I cradled her carefully. "Well now look. You've made her unfriendly." Now holding thirteen pounds of warm fire monkey, I stood back up and returned to staring over the railing. The darkness was growing, the first couple stars poking through the red-orange sky.

"Me? I was only kidding…" He trailed off, unsure of how to respond. He groaned suddenly and buried his head in his arms. "There's nothing to do in this town, Jay. Let's at least go back to Jubilife, they had a TV Station and everything." His voice was somewhat muffled, and he waited until he was almost done whining to look back up at me.

I started to respond, but fell silent when I heard the sound of the rooftop door opening. Leo whipped around, instantly nervous. We weren't technically supposed to be on the roof, but we figured we would be fine if we just slipped up there without asking. The door opened slowly, dragging along the ground and making a noise like metal against metal.

"Hey, who's there?" Leo called, voice shaking a bit. We waited for several seconds with no response. "Jay?" His voice dropped to a whisper, and he kept glancing over at me anxiously. A long, pale leg slid out from behind the door, followed by a thin white hand. I watched carefully, my heart speeding up as the figure slowly emerged from the staircase. "I have a weird feeling about this…"

Scout, sensing our distress, climbed on to my back and stood in between my shoulders, paws on my hat for support. I looked back at Leo, trying not to seem agitated. "How come?"

The owner of the leg fell through the doorway, collapsing as the door swung open wide and slammed into the wall behind it. Her dress was stained with a brilliant red color, her shock of pink hair slick with blood. Scout tensed, fingers digging into my hat so hard I could feel them in my hair. With shaking hands I pried her off my head, taking her back into my arms where I could see her.

"Is-is that the nurse from downstairs?" Leo stammered, one hand still gripping the railing. His knuckles were white with fear, his face flushed at the sight of blood.

"I think so…" Scout looked out at her, eyes narrowed. "Do you-do you want to go check?"

Leo stood in silence for a few moments before coming to a decision. "Let's go see together," his voice broke mid-sentence, and he cleared his throat. "I mean, she might need help or something." He started forward, then stopped when he saw I wasn't following. Scout scrambled back to my shoulder, and I forced my legs to move.

Looking at me for constant support, Leo approached the woman hesitantly. He tried calling to her again, and she still didn't respond. He knelt down beside her, gesturing for me to do the same. My whole body shook as I dropped down to one knee and looked at the woman's bloodied figure. The deep red stains spread down her back, most of it coming from a massive gash in the side of her neck. Bile rose quickly to my throat, and I covered my mouth with my hands. Scout hung from my neck, kicking wildly through the air until she was able to climb back onto my shoulder. I looked up at Leo, struggling to hold back the urge to vomit.

"Miss? Miss, are you alright?" His voice shook, and he reached out a tentative hand to shake her shoulder. Suddenly, she lurched back into a kneeling position. Scout was on top of my head again, fingers digging into my scalp. I yelped a bit, jumping away from the woman. Now we could see her face, her skin a deep blue, her eyes sunken in and without pupils.
A scream sounded from far away, and the bloodied nurse suddenly jerked toward Leo. He cried out and pulled his legs away from her grasping hands, scrambling to his feet as fast as he could. She slowly stood up, blood dripping from her thin, decaying body. She lurched toward him, and he dodged by falling to his right. She reached for him again, but he was too fast.

Something sharp dug into my ear, and I leapt to my feet in surprise. My hand went immediately to where it stung, but whatever had hurt me hadn't drawn blood. I looked down and realized suddenly that it was Scout, who must have scratched or bitten me to bring me back to the situation at hand. She looked surprisingly focused, and had fallen into a fighting stance.

The nurse made another move for Leo, now using both arms. She grasped his left elbow, quickly bringing her mouth to his flesh. Without thinking, I ordered Scout to set her on fire. The little Chimchar ran for the crazed nurse, taking a flying leap and letting loose a short burst of flame from her mouth. Leo's assailant recoiled immediately, turning her attention to my Pokémon and I. Her dress had caught fire almost instantly, but she didn't seem to be in any pain. Leo stood completely still, frozen in shock.

"Leo, send out one of your Pokémon!" I called, my voice hoarse with fear. He didn't respond, just stared as he slowly backed up towards the railing. Realizing he was hopeless, I told Scout to distract her while I looked for a weapon. The fire-type didn't question my order, and began running around to keep the burning nurse occupied. She was groaning loudly now, and had slowed down to the point that it didn't take much for Scout to dodge her blows.

I frantically scanned the rooftop for something I could use as a weapon, my heart pounding so hard I could feel it in my head. But the roof was bare save for a large air conditioning unit and the machine used to activate the trade system on the floor below. Panicking, I bolted for the air conditioner. I knelt by it and began to pull as hard as I could on one of the pipes, my face beat red as I struggled against it. But my arms had never been particularly strong, and were unable to get it free. Looking around desperately, I spotted a Staravia-shaped weather vane atop one of the railings. I sprinted for it, praying that it would give as I wrapped my hands around it and pulled as hard as I could.

It broke free, sending me falling backward from the momentum. I staggered a bit as I regained my balance, turning back to look at the nurse. She could stumble around now, the fire having almost completely consumed her. Scout still held her attention, bringing the nurse in slow, agonizing circles. Holding my makeshift weapon above my head, I ran towards her.

I aimed like I was going to hit a baseball, my hands sliding to the end of the weather vane as I swung it around in a wide arc. The heat from the flames reached for me, gripping my arms as my weapon made contact with the nurse's head. A disturbing, uncannily human scream burst from her mouth as blood gushed out of the new wound and covered my face in thick warmth. Her skull broke much easier than I'd anticipated, and she fell face-first to the floor without another sound. Scout jumped away, scampering back to stand behind me.

Breathing heavily, I stood watching the flames engulf the body for a long while. Dark, extremely thick blood dripped slowly from the end of the Staravia's beak, forming a small red puddle just below it. All at once I felt an overwhelming urge to vomit, and I gasped briefly before collapsing to my knees and throwing up whatever I'd eaten earlier that day. The weather vane made a loud clinking noise as it dropped to the ground and rolled away from me. I coughed a few times, feeling disgusting. The flames burned bright and loud just a few feet away, their warmth making me colder.

I looked up into Leo's wide, light eyes. He had his arms wrapped around his torso, and his face was incredibly pale. He reached his hand down to help me up, but I ignored it and stood on my own. "I'm…what happened?" He asked, his voice a deathly quiet.

We heard another distant scream, and I gulped- all at once feeling like I'd lost something extremely important to me.
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 04:37 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
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The dead are walking? In the Pokémon world? Oh, surely I must review this; I've done something similar (although completely insane and in a different medium) myself.

Now, this story has the traditional horror set-up: nice, tranquil calm beginning, which is brutally shattered by the unexpected arrival of the aggressor. With the title, it's a traditional piece of the dramatic irony typical of the Gothic, and I wouldn't have expected the story to start any other way. It tells me so much about the piece right off the bat - I know immediately what to expect from the first chapter and look forward to it, because since this is a Pokémon-themed zombie apocalypse, it'll have something more than the expected, a subversion or clever alteration of the norm for the genre.

Right. That's the pseudo-literary bit out of the way. Time to get down to the important stuff. Firstly, I think your introduction needed to last longer. I've already said that I know what opening you're going for - the traditional calm-is-shattered-by-zombies/dragon/natural disaster/aliens scenario - but in order for that to be more effective, I would make it longer. We don't get enough time to get comfortable with Leo and Jay before they're suddenly plunged into the action. For the sake of example, let's take the two great Gothic novels: Frankenstein and Dracula. In the former, we have the same opening you have here: some letters, which set up the idea that something terrible has happened to our protagonist, then the boring, neat, orderly life of Victor Frankenstein - which is abruptly shattered by his feverish obsession with giving life to a man. (I always wondered why he didn't start with something smaller, like a mouse, but I suppose he wouldn't be a mad scientist if he didn't have ambition.) Anyway, the point of this is that that description of his life goes on long enough that we become very familiar with it and with Frankenstein himself. This has three effects:

1. We know Frankenstein. We actually care when something bad happens.
2. We're quite tense. We know there's a monster coming, and we know things are going to get scary - but not yet.
3. We begin to realise how much the general writing style has evolved since 1816.

Dracula does the same: Jonathan Harker, a solicitor, comes to the castle of the Transylvanian noble Count Dracula, and as the tension mounts, the reader is presented with a series of interminably boring letters, after which the Count climbs headfirst down the castle walls and runs off into the night.

Er, I think I'm rambling, but my point is: there needs to be more of the calm, to establish your characters and their world, before you come to the sudden zombie attack.

Point the second: your choice of words is sometimes a little underwhelming. Take this:

Quote:
She grasped his left elbow, quickly bringing her mouth to his flesh.
All right, we know what's going on. But 'grasp' and 'quickly' don't really convey the speed or ferocity of what's happening; 'grasp' is such a weak word when compared to something like 'grab' or 'snatch'. I might grasp a door handle; if I were eating someone alive, I'd probably grab them. It's not that these sentences are wrong, it's just that you could make them better; in general, you write well, and it'd be great to see you make the most of that, with more powerful, engaging words.

At times, you also seem to make rather little sense:

Quote:
A disturbing, uncannily human scream burst from her mouth as blood gushed out of the new wound and covered my face in thick warmth. Her skull broke much easier than I'd anticipated, and she fell face-first to the floor without another sound.
I really don't know why anyone would think the scream was 'uncannily human'. It is human. This is a human being, however dead/mutated/diseased (delete as appropriate) she might be. Some explanation (later, of course; Jay doesn't know now) might be necessary to tell us why the skull, a rather strong bone, would break so easily when hit by someone who you've already told us isn't very strong. It just doesn't make that much sense to me.

On occasion, you also tend to word your phrases rather oddly, so that they come out a bit wooden. They don't sound like something anyone would actually say or write - and that's a problem, since you're writing in the first person. They need to be believably from Jay. Let's take an example:

Quote:
Breathing heavily, I stood watching the flames engulf the body for a long while. Dark, extremely thick blood dripped slowly from the end of the Staravia's beak, forming a small red puddle just below it. All at once I felt an overwhelming urge to vomit, and I gasped briefly before collapsing to my knees and throwing up whatever I'd eaten earlier that day. The weather vane made a loud clinking noise as it dropped to the ground and rolled away from me. I coughed a few times, feeling disgusting.
Does anyone stand watching flames engulf things? Wouldn't it be more natural to say that he watched the body burn? I would have thought that the body would be the greatest focus of Jay's attention and therefore the subject of the sentence, seeing as how he just killed it. Another oddly-focused sentence is where the weather vane falls to the floor. It would read better if you rearranged it so that it went like this:

Quote:
The weather vane fell from my hand, making a loud clinking noise, and rolled away from me.
The sentence reads better and flows more nicely if the emphasis is laid on the fact that the weather vane fell from Jay's hand, rather than it making a clinking noise. Remember, you're writing in the first person: things that affect Jay are the most important, and things that happen should be written as he perceives them. What would he notice, the weather vane slipping out of his hand or making a noise? In all likelihood, he wouldn't even notice dropping it in his current state of mind. He's pretty freaked out. He's just killed a woman, and even if she was a zombie he's still going to feel like he just killed a woman. 'I coughed, feeling disgusting' doesn't even begin to cover what it feels like to end a human life; Jay is probably in a personal Hell at that moment.

I also don't think that the 'whatever I'd eaten earlier that day' is necessary; it makes the sentence too long, where it should end punchily with Jay throwing up. You might disagree, of course; I'll admit that this is partly down to personal taste.

Those are just a few examples of clumsily-worded or oddly-constructed sentences; there are a few more throughout the story, but I took that paragraph as an example because it's probably the most extreme instance of it. I wouldn't worry too much about it - writing first-person for a character who's just killed for the first time is incredibly difficult.

Finally, because this review is getting far too long, I'd like to point out that the ending of this chapter was really kind of weak.

Quote:
We heard another distant scream, and I gulped- all at once feeling like I'd lost something extremely important to me.
That doesn't feel to me like the end of a chapter. There's no sense that we've come to an end here; it's not a good moment to stop at. I would either stop with some sort of cliffhanger (a method much beloved of Ian McEwan, it seems, who appears to end every single one of his chapters on one) or, as is more common and more generally useful, with something that brings a sense of closure to the chapter, while (optionally) hinting at things yet to come. I've made it sound really complicated, but it's not. Basically, all I'm saying is that you need to end a chapter on a stronger note than what you did end on, which seemed to me to be like part of a longer thought.

Now is the part where I look up, see I've written 1400 words of straight criticism and feel really guilty, so I'm going to change tack and point out the things I did like. I mean, you are writing a Pokémon zombie apocalypse story, which is inexpressibly awesome - and, despite whatever I might have criticised above, it is genuinely interesting and I would like to see more. Zombies are welcome pretty much anytime, and, having some experience in their combination with Pokémon, I for one will be following this story to see what future chapters bring.

F.A.B.
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Old February 5th, 2012, 11:28 AM
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PlayingAmongStars
Beginning Trainer
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Boston
Nature: Careful
Thank you so much for all that critique! I completely agree with everything you said, and I'll set about revising the story once I get some free time. I've gone through this whole thing without a beta reader, which was probably not the smartest move. The story will eventually be separated into three acts, and at the end of each one I'll go back and majorly revise it.

This next chapter, unfortunetly, has a lot of the same problems the prologue did. But I'm posting it here in all its unedited glory because I honestly just don't have time to fix it right now.

Enjoy!

CHAPTER ONE: OVERDUE
The lab has been lit without electricity for two years. We do our work relying on the light of the day, and use Scout's tail whenever we need to go into the basement. The windows down there are too small to really do anything by, but all day sunlight fills the first and second floors well enough that we generally do whatever must be done up there. We slept by those upstairs windows for the first few weeks we spent holed up here before we discovered that it gets far too cold to get any reasonable rest. The heat was out long before the electricity, so all we had were our own bodies and whatever blankets the Professor had stockpiled through the years to keep us warm.

Today is no different. Dull, early morning sunlight pours in through our favorite ground floor windows, framing her body and shadowing her face. Any hint of curves she once had are now long-gone, stolen by years of minimal nutrition and her strange fascination with sacrificing herself. Thin black hair falls messily from her scalp, resting on either side of her neck like a scarf. She has her arms crossed in protest, and if I could see her face I'm sure it'd be a mask of disapproval.

We've been planning this day for the past three weeks. We'd wanted to leave just months after our initial arrival, but the legions of zombies storming the lab the past four years had all but destroyed that dream. Now we are adamant; getting out of Sandgem is our first and foremost priority. Naturally, the Professor hated that idea from the very first time we suggested it. We can survive here, he'd said, his face filled with a desperate desire to keep us under his wing. There could be anything waiting for us out there: crazed survivors, roving gangs of criminals, and of course the never-ending hoard of zombies.

But that is precisely why we must leave. Leo and I have spent countless nights discussing our motives for leaving behind the only home we've known for the past four years, and have come to the conclusion that we can't spend our entire lives in the lab, living off experimental plants and reading books about the pre-zombie days for fun. Even if we wander off to certain death, we have to know what lies out there.

Dawn clears her throat, trying to come up with one final argument to make us stay. We stand before her, hearts and eyes filled with irrational determination, wearing our thick winter jackets, four-year-old backpacks, and whatever else we could find that came close to fitting us in any way. We know she's scared, that she thinks we'll die out there, but if we do at least we'll know that's all we were missing.

I know it doesn't make sense, that it breaks my central belief that if isn't logical, it isn't worth doing. But we have to get out. I've lost four years of my life to this mess, and I refuse to accept losing any more.

"Please don't try to do this…" It's Leo who speaks first. Dawn looks up at him, shifting her arms slightly across her chest. "I told you, we can't stay in this place any longer. Someone needs to search for other survivors, and it might as well be us. And…" he paused, searching for the right way to word his feelings, "think about what could be out there!"

"You'll die, Leo!" Her voice is high with desperation. "At least wait until we can get a signal again, just a few more months."

"We've done that, Dawn. We've waited a few more months; we've waited a few more years. Whatever's out there, it's time we faced it like men." He speaks with a very cold, definitive tone. The only person who wants us to leave more than me is Leo. He wants to experience the world for what it is, to live the life of characters in all those old zombie shows.

He's forgotten what it's like out there, but I figure I'll leave it to him to remember.

She's silent for a little while, and I breathe the tension in deeply. I can feel the warmth of Scout's tail by my leg, the flame burning bright as ever. She makes me feel invincible; I know she'll follow me to the ends of the earth, but that, at the same time, she's smart enough let me know when I'm making a bad choice. It's comforting to know she hasn't stopped me on this one.

"I just…I don't want you to get hurt," Dawn has gone quiet now, barely speaking to us above a whisper. She's made her case before, and knows deep down trying now will just be a waste of time. "Can you at least try to contact us?"

"No," There's a note of regret in Leo's voice, but I can he's trying to be strong. "We'll go home, then return here before leaving for good."

Dawn shifts her weight, but doesn't show any other signs of emotion. She's always been strong and stubborn. She knows this is the end though, at least for now and possibly forever. After a few more heartbeats of cold silence she begins to nod slowly. "Take care of each other."

Leo nods in return, but doesn't say anything. I feel Scout move away from me, the absence of heat making me shiver. The little fire-type raises her paw up to Dawn, who kneels down and hugs her tightly. Scout doesn't quite know how to respond, so she just pats the girl on the back a few times before taking a step back. Dawn stands back up, the light still obscuring her face from us. "Very well. If you aren't back here from visiting Twinleaf in the next four months, we're going to assume you're dead."

"Naturally," Leo smiles a bit, light reflecting off his pale amber eyes. He crosses the room, pulling Dawn into a tight embrace. Even in the small space, I can't understand what he whispers into her ear. They stay like that for a while, only breaking apart when Leo's Prinplup tugs on his coat a few times.

"Remember to say goodbye to the Professor. I know you spoke earlier but…he'd like to know that you're leaving," Dawn says as Leo begins walking to the door. We'd broken the news to him last night, and argued with him for hours before we finally gave up and decided to leave without really telling him.

Leo nevertheless agrees to let him know, and leaves the lab without another word. I start to follow him, but Dawn grabs my hand and forces me to turn around. "Please, keep yourselves alive. He won't listen to me, but I know you will. So please, please do whatever you can to keep each other alive." I stare at her blankly before I smile a bit and nod.
"Of course, Dawn," I pull my hand out of hers and make my way for the door. I reach out to grasp the handle, but hesitate. I now realize this is the biggest decision I have ever made. I've gone out this door before, but never like this. Now I might never come back. I look down at Scout out of habit, and I catch a look of pure determination in her eyes. This is what she wants, and this is what I want. My stomach is tied into knots, and I swallow the bile that rises. The comfort of Scout's heat and the assuredness I get from looking at her convinces me to finally pull open the door.

A blast of cold air smacks into my face, the brilliant orange sunrise blazing far into the distance. I take one last look into the lab, only to see that Dawn has disappeared upstairs. I now know that there is nothing left for us here. With Scout by my side, we close the lab door and take our first few breaths of true freedom.

Leo walks toward us, his Prinplup trotting behind him carefully. He's looking out to the west, where Route 201 waits in the dull morning light. "Just like old times, huh?" I can't tell if he's trying to be funny or not. Either way, I don't laugh.

I walk away from the lab until Scout and I are at the border to Route 201. A stiff wind blows through us, and I shiver a bit. Taking a deep breath, I close my eyes for a second and secretly hope that everything will be as it was before this whole mess when I open them.

But to my disappointment, nothing has changed.
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Old February 7th, 2012, 07:24 PM
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bobandbill
Where's that sheep...
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Firstly, I like the banner. =)

Secondly; I've liked it so far, and the combination between Pokemon and the zombie genre is pretty well done thus far. Certainly interested to see what happens in the next chapter.

I agree with the points Cutlerine raised thus far; watch out for some of the choices of wording there. I also felt that the 'we want to get out despite the dangers' point was mentioned a bit too often in the first chapter; it was over-established and so felt a bit repetitive after a while.
Quote:
But that is precisely why we must leave. Leo and I have spent countless nights discussing our motives for leaving behind the only home we've known for the past four years, and have come to the conclusion that we can't spend our entire lives in the lab, living off experimental plants and reading books about the pre-zombie days for fun. Even if we wander off to certain death, we have to know what lies out there.

Dawn clears her throat, trying to come up with one final argument to make us stay. We stand before her, hearts and eyes filled with irrational determination, wearing our thick winter jackets, four-year-old backpacks, and whatever else we could find that came close to fitting us in any way. We know she's scared, that she thinks we'll die out there, but if we do at least we'll know that's all we were missing.
For instance here was when I thought it was getting a bit too much limelight, especially with the last sentence there.
Quote:
I stare at her blankly before I smile a bit and nod.
"Of course, Dawn," I pull my hand out of hers and make my way for the door.
Need another line of spacing there. I'll also note that I think it's better to put a full stop after 'Dawn' rather than a comma as the part following the dialogue works as its own sentence. There's a few other instances of this as well.

Also; what happened to saying goodbye to the professor before leaving? It seems they left without saying anything to him, or did he hide elsewhere?
Nice start, certainly; keep it up!
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Old February 17th, 2012, 05:33 PM
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PlayingAmongStars
Beginning Trainer
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Boston
Nature: Careful
Note: This chapter is one of the ones most in need of a rewrite. The title is terrible, the pacing is awkward, and it has a really aggravating abandoned plot thread that just has to be completely removed from the chapter. Somehow.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it despite its flaws. ;

CHAPTER TWO: WHAT ONCE WAS LIVING
Route 201 lies before us in all its ruined glory. The trees appear to have been torn apart by machinery, and the signposts are smashed to pieces and lying about on the ground. The uncaring autumn sun stares down at us lazily, offering no warmth for this cold October morning. The tall grass, trampled by some unseen beasts, shivers in a cool, stiff breeze. Nothing stirs, and an eerie silence has over taken the area.

I let out a shuddering breath and shove my hands deep into the pockets of my thick blue coat. Leaving so late in the year would generally be a dumb decision, but the weather is hardly any warmer in the summertime. Now all we have to worry about are snow storms, and they're quite rare on this side of Mt. Coronet.

"Jay," Leo has an odd look on his face, like his eyes are smiling but nothing else. He's holding the handle of a shovel in one hand, and the strap of his bag in the other. "Arm yourself."

I nod and swing my backpack down my arm, dropping to my knees. A long, brilliantly silver crowbar is attached to it by a series of hooks. I take it out with far more care than necessary, wanting to savor this moment as much as possible. I'd picked up the crowbar when we made our way back from Jubilife, but haven't used it in four years. When the hoard attacked the lab, we always relied on our Pokémon's ranged attacks to keep them at bay. We very well may not have that luxury now, and we're not about to take any chances.

"Any day now?" Leo asks, his voice flat and impatient. His tone of annoyance brings a small grin to my face. He always used to wait for me, before this whole mess, and was never happy about it. Hearing him regain something of his old self makes me feel happier than it probably should.

I stand up slowly, slinging my bag onto my back once again. "Alright. Let's go." Without looking at him, I begin to take my first steps on Route 201 in over four years. The dying grasses crunch under my feet, weak from the cold, and from being left to survive without competition. Leo grabs my arm suddenly, and I turn to look at him.

"Wait, let's…let's do this together." He looks sincere, and I realize that it'll take much more than just a few steps away from the lab to get the old Leo back. But I agree, and shake his hand off my arm. I wait until we're standing in line with each other, breathing the infected air in deeply. I close my eyes for just a second, relishing the end of our days stuck in Sandgem.

But when I open them Leo has already bolted down the path. He turns back, laughing loudly and panting. "I'm not gonna keep waiting for you, Jay! If you can't keep up, I'll leave you behind!" The sun is facing him, giving both him and his Prinplup long, jagged shadows in the grass. Behind him lies darkness.

I smile and run after him, careful not to trip. Scout stays back, staring at the lab a few moments longer before running to us dutifully. Brilliant orange trees flank us on both sides, leaves long fallen scattering the ground and creating a dull brown blanket along the path. From what I remember, Route 201 used to be much wider. Now the intrusion of plants from the forest has shrunk it down to a small trail just a few meters across.

The route is otherwise lifeless. The flowers and trees, relatively vibrant in the summer, are now just shadows. But it hardly matters to us. Lack of life means lack of enemies. We've so far seen nothing threatening, and if the complete silence is any indication, we shouldn't for some time.
We meander about for a few hours, spending an inordinate amount of time looking at what once was alive, and trying to compare this new route with what we remembered. We come upon a massive oak tree, and climb the low lying branches until we're about two meters from the ground. Scout lies down above us, her flaming tail swinging back and forth not far from our heads. Leo's Prinplup can't quite get up, so he just sits down on the branch closest to the ground.

I put my backpack on my lap, and pull out a bit of the food we saved. I give each one of us just a small piece of bread off of a rather large loaf. Leo shoves it all in his mouth at once, while I take my time and try to enjoy it as best I can. I can see straight through to the sky from where I'm lying. It's mid-morning now, and it's gotten just slightly warmer since we left. My eyelids slide closed for just a few short minutes, and I yawn loudly. I know we can't sleep. The area may seem abandoned, but we can't see far enough into the forest to be sure. Anything could be lurking out there, waiting patiently for us to lower our guard.

Scout suddenly drops down onto my stomach, and I cry out. Her paw goes straight to mouth, and my eyes begin to water from the pain. She's very small for a Monferno, but still heavy enough to hurt me. I look over at Leo, who appears just as confused as I feel. Scout swings down to a lower branch, hanging there in complete quiet for a long time. Prinplup has gone silent as well, and apparently anticipating an attack.

I'm tempted to get up and ask her what's wrong, but it makes far more sense to just stay quiet and wait it out. I grip my crowbar tightly, and sit up in order to get a better look at our Pokémon.

"Hello? Excuse me I…I know you're up there!" My heart beat quickens, and Leo shoots me a suspicious glance. Scout doesn't move, just stares down at something we can't see. Whoever has found us, they sound young and female. The bright orange leaves must hide us from our visitor's direct view, but she had to have heard me yell when scout landed on me.
Scout motions for me to come down and, with as much carefulness as I can muster, I slide down beside her. She points to a spot between the leaves, where a little girl stands with a very skinny Starly in her arms. Scout looks at me and nods, her silent way of telling me the girl appears safe.

I move down to another branch, one that I know the girl can see me from. She's very small, with a tanned face and deep red hair. Her thick white coat is covered in shades of red and brown, while her deep blue ski pants are filled with enough holes to see another layer of clothing underneath. She gasps when she notices me, squeezing the Starly tightly against her chest. "Who are you?" Her voice is very quiet, her face filled with fear.

"Jay, and what about you?" I don't want to sound rude, but I'm honestly unsure of how to talk to her. I've learned to speak in short, blunt sentences. It's all I've needed to get my point across, and I'm not about to change now.

"I'm Emily…and this is Tinkerbell." The Starly makes an unexpectedly loud chirp before burying its head in her chest. "We're all alone." She looks down, her blue eyes dull and hollow. "Why are you here?"
"We're looking for survivors." I study her carefully, looking for any signs of infection. The red spots on her coat are most likely blood, but I doubt that it's hers. She's very skinny, and her eyes are sunken into her face, but she doesn't appear to be pained or particularly lethargic. Her Starly is small, but from what I can tell isn't too ragged-looking.

"Oh…I'm…looking for Lake Verity." I raise an eyebrow, and she shrugs. "It's where I found Tinkerbell…I just want to return her there." I used to visit Lake Verity all the time as a kid, but haven't been there in a while. My mother always used to say that people from Twinleaf Town were blessed by Mesprit, the Legendary Pokémon that lives there. I never really believed her, but she insisted it was true.

"You want to let your Starly go?" I feel Scout at my side, and watch as Emily carefully looks us over. I see now that there's sweat building by her hairline, and I can't help but feel suspicious of this strange little girl.

"Uhm, well she's not really mine, see…I just found her and she decided to stay with me." The Starly coos softly, rubbing its face on Emily's dirty coat.
I don't say anything for a long while, hoping she'll realize we have an agenda and can't help her. But she doesn't budge, just stands before us unwaveringly. A breeze sends the leaves rustling, and I shiver visibly. The girl stays standing, ignoring the cold. Scout climbs back into the tree, leaving me alone with Emily on the ground.

"So you…won't help us?" Tinkerbell struggles a bit in the girl's arms as her grip tightens. I can tell she's gotten sick of waiting, and is desperate for help now. "Please! We've been alone out here for days. It's hot and I'm tired and there's nothing to eat and it's so very lonely…" Her voice broke a few times, but no tears escaped from her eyes. "Please…I…I don't remember anything."

I hear the braches rustle behind me, and turn to see Leo lowering himself down. "No." I order, as stern and clear as possible. He looks frightened, but doesn't climb back up. Ignoring him, I turn my attention back to the girl. "Leave. We can't help you."

"Please!" She gasps, her voice hoarse. The Starly digs itself into her jacket, chirping loudly. The forest around us begins to stir, and Scout is by my side in an instant. "Please, you have to help us."

"Go." I keep my voice low, but still loud and clear. Scout is tense by my side, her tail burning bright and powerful. I can hear a growl emanating from deep within her throat, her heat giving me courage.

Emily stares at us, eyes wide with shock and hurt. She shakes her head in defiance, eyes dark and empty. They are pools of blue, empty and dead. Without any further attempts at communication, she spins around and takes off in the other direction. Her back is coated in blood, deep, dark, and spilling outward from beneath her jacket.

She is slow from malnutrition, and I'm behind her in seconds. I bring the crowbar back, and slam it into her head with all my strength. She screeches, collapsing to the ground in a pool of congealing blood.

Tinkerbell bursts from her arms, panicked and scared. Scout catches the Starly and holds her to the ground, awaiting my order.
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Old February 20th, 2012, 09:07 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
Ah, more Pokémon zombie apocalypse. I've never been able to write a serious zombie apocalypse story; they always descend into madness after a while. I think perhaps the genre doesn't like me.

Uh, where was I? OK. The review.

This chapter isn't nearly as awkward as the first or the prologue, which I won't cover since bobandbill and I have already reviewed those between us. There's still a bit of it, but I've already made my point and I can see that there's been some improvement, so I won't repeat myself about it.

Probably the only example of clumsiness that really stood out to me was this one:

Quote:
Her thick white coat is covered in shades of red and brown, while her deep blue ski pants are filled with enough holes to see another layer of clothing underneath.
It's too much, too fast. When describing, bear two things in mind:

1. Does the reader really need to know, or indeed care about knowing, every last detail of what you're describing?
2. Avoid ramming all the details of the description into one sentence.

Here, I think you've fallen foul of both of these. I don't really need to know that her coat is thick and white, or that she's wearing deep blue ski pants. The important bit is the 'covered in shades of red and brown' (a very oddly-worded phrase, by the way) and the 'holes' bit. Focus on that, cut down the unnecessary description, and if you really must tell us what colour Emily's clothes are, do so more slowly. We don't need to know all at once like that. Even just splitting this sentence in half and rephrasing each part slightly would make a massive difference.

I just realised that I said I wouldn't go on about it and then did; there's glory for you, I suppose. Here's a couple of minor typos and suchlike:

Quote:
When the hoard attacked the lab
You mean 'horde'. A hoard is very, very different.

Quote:
Her paw goes straight to mouth
I think you're missing a 'my' here, between 'to' and 'mouth'.

Quote:
The dying grasses crunch under my feet
You mean 'grass'. 'Grasses' would refer to multiple types of grass, since 'grass' itself is a mass noun. It's like saying 'wines' rather than 'wine'; you wouldn't say, 'He had a lot of wines in his cellar', you'd say, 'He had a lot of wine in his cellar'.

Another thing, why is the grass dying when the other plants are doing so well? I quote:

Quote:
Now the intrusion of plants from the forest has shrunk it down to a small trail just a few meters across.
They're obviously doing fine; why isn't the grass? Aside from anything else, grass is a pretty damn tough plant. The grass family is the most successful group of plants on the planet; they're (almost literally) everywhere. Besides, this is Sinnoh. I assume the grass that grows here can take the cold, since Sinnoh is a northerly sort of region. Actually, even regular grass can survive being buried under snow for a pretty long time, so I'd be very, very surprised if Sinnish grass couldn't.

That's a very minor thing, but I thought about it way too much. I'm about to do the same thing again with regard to the 'holed up in the lab' plan.

Why would anyone hole up in a building during a zombie apocalypse? Food isn't limitless, and neither is the supply of water; four years into an apocalypse, I assume the mains supply has cut out. You could live off tinned food and bottled drinks for a while, especially if you were in a supermarket - but in a laboratory? You'd barely be able to make it through a month, even if you were lucky.

In addition to this, the dead won't die. Holing up somewhere would just bring the zombies to you, and they'd keep coming until you were dead. It's not like you could hide in a house and expect them to go away; they're mindless and therefore ridiculously persistent. Overall, then, the best policy in a mass revival/release of a zombie virus sort of scenario would be to keep moving, avoiding all towns (where the highest concentration of the dead will be; I imagine the countryside is far safer even than a smallish town like Sandgem) and gathering food and supplies from farms, trees and wild animals.

I'm rambling now, so I ought to stop, but my point stands. How have they survived for four years in a laboratory? Unless you can come up with a plausible explanation, I'm forced to say it doesn't make that much sense to me.

Huh. You can tell I've spent way too long thinking about this sort of thing, can't you? Anyway, I have one final thing to point out: you ended weakly again.

Quote:
Scout catches the Starly and holds her to the ground, awaiting my order.
It doesn't feel like a chapter end. If you'd ended on the death blow itself, that would have been an excellent ending: it's a strong, powerful event, and there's a finality about killing someone that would have given the chapter a sense of being over. But ending on Scout catching the Starly... I don't know. I think it might've been better if you'd started the next chapter with that instead of mentioning it here.

On an entirely different note:

Quote:
A long, brilliantly silver crowbar
I hope this is the reference I think it is. Since you're bashing zombies with a crowbar, it must be, but life has taught me to be wary of assuming that people are referencing things.

This isn't a bad story. It's a good read, and I like the whole wrecked, post-apocalyptic Sinnoh vibe you're building here. I haven't learned too much about Jay and Leo yet, so I'll withhold my opinions on them for now, but I'm pretty sure they're going to be fairly solid characters. Keep up the good work, and I'll be back in time to review future chapters.

F.A.B.
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