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The Sacrifice (PG)

GingerDixie

Hopes and Dreams
Hello there, Ginger here! Gonna go ahead and put this here as a reminder to keep my resolutions this year. And by resolutions, I mean actually writing stuff instead of sitting on it forever. Yeah. Totally not looking at those two chapter fics rotting in the back of my Drive, no sirree.

Anyway. Here's one of the short stories I wrote for Yuletide 2015! I will also be posting my pinch hit, so if you're into shipping fics, keep your eyes peeled in the Shippers section! I'm just not going to post that one right away because...haha, it's not really done. At least, not like I'd like it to be. (Sorry again, had a time flub!)

So, without further ado...here is The Sacrifice!




Rogan will never forget the first night he had encountered one of… them.

Honestly, he didn’t know what else to call it. Certainly it wasn’t a normal Pokemon. Normal Pokemon were tame, obedient, friendly...even if they were wild, they didn’t usually attack unprovoked; even if provoked, they were quite reluctant to hurt humans and usually just scared them away. And he should know, too. He was one of the few residents of Pyrite who actually owned a Pokemon (legally, at least), and his beloved Dart would have never acted the way this one did. Hell, it was Dart who ended up saving his life in the end of it…



It had been night time, and the bike courier was out on his evening rounds, his Linoone keeping pace with him as he delivered packages around the better parts of the city. While he knew in this particular area he was less likely to get jumped (which was a real danger here and was one of the main reasons he had paid most of his savings to have a Pokemon from Hoenn bred and sent to him to raise), he still allowed Dart out of his Pokeball to run beside him and stretch his legs while he completed delivieries. He had always seen Pokeballs as a necessity to rein in a rowdy Pokemon and not something to keep them inside of all the time, so it was only fair that if he got to be out and about, Dart would would get that opportunity. In hindsight, he now realized how complacent the two of them had gotten in their nightly routine...how everything had happened so quickly, the only way this even could have been prevented was if only the two of them had been more alert and aware.

Rogan had just dropped off his last letter for the evening when he had heard something scuffling around in a nearby alleyway, causing both Trainer and Pokemon to stop immediately in their tracks. Here in Pyrite Town, where the police were inefficient and many had to pay for an escort if they were too poor for a Pokemon, Rogan had every right to be assuming the worst as he got off his bike and walked with his Linoone towards the source of the sound, already scanning the area for escape routes when things went south. “Tread quietly,” was the only word he whispered to his Pokemon as the shadows of the buildings closed in around them, obscuring moonlight and making it quite difficult to see much of what was going on in the shadows. Holding his hand out, he gently eased closer to the noise of rustling cloth and papers, about ready to apprehend what seemed to be the dark figure of a mugger…

Only then, it turned around, and Rogan could clearly see that it was not a mugger, but a Pokemon. A seemingly ownerless one, at that.

The Sandslash stood there, its dark hide barely recognizable even during a starry night like this one. Its brown eyes reflected the silver of the moon, showcasing their size and the desert Pokemon’s status as nocturnal and a burrower...though the only burrowing that this one seemed to be doing was through the trash bags that had been haphazardly torn open and strewn about the dirty alleyway. It tugged at Rogan’s heartstrings a bit, seeing this creature here that was obviously lost and hungry, and being the altruistic person that he was, immediately relaxed his stance a bit and knelt down to the Pokemon’s level.

“Hey there, little buddy...whatcha doing digging through people’s trash?” Rogan asked, his voice soft and warm as he tried to coax the Sandslash forward. While he had noticed at first that Dart hadn’t seemed to relax, Rogan had simply assumed that it was because the raccoon was simply being protective, as he had been trained to do ever since he had had him. He didn’t worry too much about it. After all, even wild Pokemon weren’t always hostile. “You know...I got some Pokeblocks in the basket of my bike if you want them. You hungry, little guy?”

The Sandslash simply stared at Rogan in the unwavering silence that followed: unmoving, unresponsive, and eerily silent, even at the mention of food when it had seemed to be hungrily digging through the trash just moments before. He had thought it strange, but not unusual...perhaps he had scared the poor thing and didn’t realize it. After a few moments of no reply, Rogan figured that maybe he would get a better response if he just got up and showed the Sandslash he was honest. Getting back to his feet, the courier turned on his heel to head back to his bike...and at that precise moment, he heard only a couple clicks of claws on cement before he was knocked flat to the ground by the very Pokemon he had just offered food to.

Immediately, Rogan switched to panic mode. Even as the armored desert shrew tore at him with seething bloodlust he had never before seen in such creatures, he fought back with all his might in some effort to pry off the Pokemon on top of him. Remembering the basics he had learned when he had first received Dart, he put his hands up in defense and called the wild Pokemon’s name, hoping that it registered and the creature stopped fighting long enough to realize what was happening to him. Surely it had to realize that he wasn’t an enemy? That he wasn’t in its territory? Why on earth was it hurting him so? All he did was ask if it was hungry! “HEY!” He cried out, feeling the Sandslash’s claws slash open his shirt and a burning lance of pain shoot across his chest. “Sandslash! SANDSLASH! Stop it! I’m not hurting you! STOP HURTING ME!”

It was of no avail. Even as hard as he fought, the creature tore at him for what seemed to be ages, fighting this one-sided fight against a human that could not possibly hurt them on their own. It was so totally against what he had learned Pokemon did that, for a brief moment, Rogan had wondered if this was simply just an elaborate nightmare, and he would wake up screaming from it at any instant.

And what was worse...the courier could have swore, at some points during the battle, as he screamed for help and Dash tried frantically to knock off his Trainer’s assailant with powered charges into its spiny back...the soft light of the moon revealed a smile on the Sandslash’s face. It was as if it was fully enjoying the pain it was inflicting...as if it would be rewarded. Or, perhaps, it simply found the experience itself rewarding. Even now, Rogan didn’t know.

What he did know, however, was that horrible beatdown had dragged on until somehow, by some miracle, his Pokemon had finally grabbed a hold of the wild one and wrestled it away, leaving him groaning and panting heavily as Dart fought against the creature with the very valor and strength that Rogan had always loved him for. Even with his vision wavering through his pained tears and his fatigue, even with his hearing fading until it was more akin to him stuffing his head full of cotton, the young man couldn’t help but be proud of his Pokemon...which, in some roundabout way, made him proud that he hadn’t been awake when the wild Sandslash dealt the final blow to his partner and best friend.




The rest of the time was a blur to him, as Rogan doesn’t remember much after he had passed out. He does know that eventually, someone did find him, called the police and the paramedics, and he was saved thanks to the quick response and the thousands of stitches he had received to hold him together from the brutal mauling he had taken as a result of that fateful meeting. He had had concussions, lacerations, punctures and haematomas galore...but all of those wounds eventually healed, and he eventually got over them. Now, the only physical remnants of his encounter with the being he now knew as a Shadow Pokemon were a few long, pink scars on his chest that were easily hidden by the tee shirts that were a common staple of his daily wardrobe, and a slight limp to one of his knees thanks to the force with which he had been tackled to the ground. But, the mental and emotional scars would never fade...at least not as quickly as the physical ones did. Rogan only had to walk out to his bike and unconsciously reach for the now-empty notch in his belt to know the ultimate sacrifice his Pokemon had made for him...a true hero, all the way to the very end.

It was an emotionally overwhelming feeling, that much was true. Due to that fateful and unfortunate encounter, Rogan had lost more than just a Pokemon. Dart had been his friend, his companion, and his protector. It was because of this that, even when given the option by his most recent employer to have a new Pokemon shipped in for him free of charge to replace the hole made by Dart’s sacrifice, Rogan had refused. In his mind, after putting so much time and effort into training your own companion like that, it didn’t make sense for him to just turn around and replace them once they were gone. Unlike the people who had made that Sandslash that way, Rogan understood that, Pokemon weren’t tools to be used and tossed aside when their use was no longer needed.

And that was something he kept and mind, even now, as he clutched his canvas bag and turned down the road toward the headquarters of ONBS, taking a deep breath as he readied himself for a new day dedicated to fighting off the people who had killed his best friend…
 
Hi! I think you did really well in capturing the intensity of the situation with this one-shot. The core scene was very well-written, and I think the build up to what happens to Dart at the end was very well-done. Sure, I expected it, but it still didn't take away from the strength of that last line in the second part of the story.

If anything, I thought that the relationship between Rogan and Dart could've been presented a bit better. Since you're only focusing on this specific scene, I know that you don't have that much space to expound on it, so I understand why you only relegate it to that paragraph and reflections after the scene. But I thought the parenthetical insertion at the start of the second scene where you explain how Rogan acquired Dart was a bit abrupt, especially for something that seems like a big reason why Rogan saw Dart as his best friend.

Granted, I have not played the Orre games, so I may be missing some really big reference here about Rogan's character, so if I am, I'm really sorry. x_x

But that's just very minor, as I really did enjoy this read. You describe the "battle" really well, and you don't hold back in punching the reader in the gut with that conclusion. Great job with it! :)
 
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I have only recently started playing Colosseum, but the thing I'm enjoying most is the relatively dark and dangerous tone compared to most Pokemon games. You really get the sense that Orre is not as safe a place as the other regions, and Pyrite stands out as being the most dangerous. I think you did a great job of conveying that here, from the fact that no one came when Rogan was yelling at the sandslash to the sinister vibe the pokemon gives off. Also, of course, a pokemon dies.

I do agree with Dramatic Melody that Rogan and Dash's relationship could have been expanded a little bit. As of right now, we know they're friends and partners because you tell us, but the only interaction they really have is biking/running around the town together and Dash fighting off the sandslash. Those are both nice, but they're pretty brief and there's nothing distinct about them to show that this is different than the average trainer-pokemon relationship.

I also wondered why sandslash didn't finish Rogan off after fighting Dash, but that's a minor complaint that didn't distract from the genuinely frantic and scary attack scene. You might be trying to keep this PG, but I even think that more detail about the attacks and resulting injuries could add some punch. The count of the injuries during the healing phase implies that he suffered a lot of damage, but the only thing you show during the attack scene is a cut on the chest. It's up to you, of course, but I think the intensity could maybe be pushed farther by adding a few more details.

Still, this was a really enjoyable read. Good tone and a sad, disappointing ending (in a good way). Great job!
 

bobandbill

Winning Smile
Staff member
Super Mod
I'm curious when the start is set. The last paragraph mentions ONBS which is XD:GoD (or later!), but the beginning could have been before XD as well.

I digress. It's neat to see a fic based in Orre and to do with Shadow Pokemon, and I also enjoyed the read. =) The attack was painful to read (in a good way! Just not good for Rogan. :V) and the atmosphere was well set. I do agree that a bit more could have been shown of Rogan and Dart's relationship beforehand to really lay in the feels with the Pokemon's eventual death, so there's that, but I don't feel it requires much more to gain the intended effect.

In a way I'm not sure the title is the best choice. It does suit the contents of the story, but straightaway I knew that there was going to be a, well, sacrifice, so it was easy to predict that Dart would die in the attempt of saving its trainer.

Couple quotes:
Normal Pokemon were tame, obedient, friendly...even if they were wild, they didn’t usually attack unprovoked; even if provoked, they were quite reluctant to hurt humans and usually just scared them away.
I'd add in a space after the ellipsis. It's up to you if you want to continue the sentence but I suggest considering making it a new one (so "friendly... Even if they were wild, (etc)") as it seems somewhat long as-is, especially with the pauses introduced by the punctuation there.
so it was only fair that if he got to be out and about, Dart would would get that opportunity.
A repeated 'would' there.
Holding his hand out, he gently eased closer to the noise of rustling cloth and papers, about ready to apprehend what seemed to be the dark figure of a mugger…
Matter of opinion, but I feel it sounds better if written without that 'about' (...and papers, ready to apprehend...).

Nice work!
 

AmericanPi

Write on
Hello! American--Pi here, and welcome to the Weekly Review! Here's how it works: Once every week I pick a one-shot or a chaptered fic to review. I try to alternate between the Fan Fiction and Shipping Fics forums. My reviews are Review Game-style, which means that for Fan Fiction I pick four out of the eleven Review Game criteria and comment on them as much as I want to (but at least two sentences per criterion). Every time I try to pick four different criteria, but usually I just comment on whatever in the story catches my eye.

I'm trying to review works from different authors, and since I've never reviewed a work of yours before (despite chatting with you several times during the Weekly Word Wars) I decided to review "The Sacrifice" this week. On with the review!

This was a heartbreaking and suspenseful fic, and it had a heartwarming hope spot in the end. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

Opening
Despite the tense error (the "had" should be dropped), the opening of this one-shot was very effective in getting me to read on. Even though it's a teensy bit cliched, I still found myself getting curious about what kind of story the one-shot had to tell.

Scene
The bulk of this fic is the one scene in the middle - the scene where Rogan encounters a Shadow Pokemon and loses his beloved Linoone to it. I think it was a really well-written scene, so great job. I knew from the mention of Pyrite Town that the Sandslash was likely a Shadow Pokemon. Still, the way the Sandslash suddenly attacked Rogan (after he kindly offered the Pokemon food, no less!) was chilling. The scene urged me to keep reading, and you did a great job at making it suspenseful, action-packed, and thrilling.

Writing
I noticed that you have a tendency to write long sentences. Technically none of them are run-ons (as in, they're all grammatically correct), but the length of your sentences may make readers stumble over them as they read. I would suggest breaking up your long sentences into shorter sentences that are short enough to be read easily, but not so short that they're choppy. Here's an example of a long sentence that I stumbled over:

GingerDixie said:
Here in Pyrite Town, where the police were inefficient and many had to pay for an escort if they were too poor for a Pokemon, Rogan had every right to be assuming the worst as he got off his bike and walked with his Linoone towards the source of the sound, already scanning the area for escape routes when things went south.
In addition, the bolded bit is an example of a misplaced modifier - I would add the word "people" after the word "many", because currently it is ambiguous as to whether the police had to pay for an escort or the people had to.

Also, keep in mind your tenses. Tenses can be a total pain, and the best advice I can give is to keep in mind when exactly something happens chronologically. Use the present tense for what is happening now - Rogan's remembering of the night he encountered his first Shadow Pokemon. Use the past tense for what is happening in the past - Rogan's actual encounter with the Shadow Sandslash. Here's an example of how to use tenses correctly:

GingerDixie said:
And that was something he kept and mind, even now, as he clutched his canvas bag and turned down the road toward the headquarters of ONBS, taking a deep breath as he readied himself for a new day dedicated to fighting off the people who had killed his best friend…
"Clutched", "turned", and "readied" should be "clutches", "turns", and "readies", respectively. "Even now" implies that Rogan heading for the ONBS is happening in the present, so present-tense verbs should be used.

Spelling/Grammar
I'm going to point out a few spelling/grammar/English usage mistakes here. For the most part they aren't serious, and it's nothing a little proofreading can't fix.

GingerDixie said:
It had been night time
"Night time" should be "nighttime".

so it was only fair that if he got to be out and about, Dart would would get that opportunity.
You have two "would"s here.

GingerDixie said:
“Tread quietly,” was the only word he whispered to his Pokemon
"Tread quietly" is two words, not one.

GingerDixie said:
and at that precise moment, he heard only a couple clicks of claws on cement before he was knocked flat to the ground by the very Pokemon he had just offered food to.
Try not to use passive voice, in which an action happens to the subject ("The car was hit by the snowball"). I have no idea why, but passive voice always sounds weak to most people, myself included. One of the main rules in writing is to try your best to avoid passive voice and instead use active voice, in which a subject does an action ("The snowball hit the car").

I would rewrite this sentence as:
At that precise moment, he heard only a few clicks of claws on cement before the very Pokemon he had just offered food to knocked him flat to the ground.

Overall, "The Sacrifice" was an enjoyable and emotional piece. Your writing style is nice - if you can shorten your sentences and keep verb tenses in mind, you'd have really fun, enjoyable prose. Keep up the good work!

Pi
 
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