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This is old news, but I recently beat Omega Ruby two weeks ago. The game itself was pretty amazing and met almost all of my expectations, but that's a blog for another time. What I'm writing today is a fictitious memoir; or a show of thanks for the six Pokemon that stuck with me from the very beginning. I will always cherish this diverse and dynamic group. Raising them with love and care was worthwhile, and seeing them being honored in the Hall of Fame and credits made me feel proud.
I want to mention this too before I continue: these Pokemon are not meant for competitive play, so please be kind and keep any snide comments to yourself.
Anyway, these guys helped me surpass Norman, defeat Team Magma, save the world, subdue multiple legendaries, help Wally grow stronger, beat all of the gym leaders, and came out victorious against the Ever Grande Pokemon League. Some may say this stuff is silly and unnecessary, but I like having my own personal story with my companions. Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, because it's...
These six pokemon will be listed in reverse order. I love them all equally, but I'm going to list them from impactful to most impactful. Without further adieu, here's my Hall of Fame team!
* * *
Robin, you really took me for a surprise for a Normal/Flying type bird Pokemon. You proved to me that you were much more than just a Fly slave by showing your mettle in battle. It blew my mind that you knew Brave Bird at a mere level 5! I knew right then and there that you were special, and that the sky was no limit for us. Remember how you single handedly trashed Brawly when you Brave Birded the shit out of Makuhita? Bulk Up wasn't enough to stop your determination! Or how about that time when Flannery(!)'s Torkoal burned you? Your Guts shot your attack stat through the roof and eviscerated him with Wing Attack! Thanks for taking my team all over the place before I got the Eon Flute; it allowed you to show your love for us by replacing Fly with Return! Your true shining moment came when you outlasted Glacia when you used Brave Bird for the final hit against her Glalie. "Not very effective" my ass, you're the reason we faced off against Drake! You and Etna are such good teammates on the field too! Y'all's unrelenting assult from the ground and the air steamrolled any competition that came y'all's way! The gameplan was always simple: Etna would shake the ground with Earthquake and then you'd finish the job without taking any damage. It was truly a sight to see.
Thank you, Robin. You proved that big things do come in small packages.
Memory Girl reading: Robin encountered Cobalion when it was with Christian. The Pokemon fondly remembers that its feelings were indescribable.
Sp. Atk: 90
Sp. Def: 90
Emeralda, I remember running into you by accident when I first began my journey; but I quickly realized that it wasn't. You were quite frail, but your raw special power was more than enough to help you hold your own as my premier "mage". I remember training you at Route 104 when you were just a Ralts and you were struggling against Winston's annoying ass Zigzagoon. You've come a long way since those humble times. I never saw the need to Mega Evolve you because I thought you were powerful enough on your own. Remy was your best teammate. Your calm collevtiveness combined with her tenacity got me out of more trouble with Team Magma than I could count. You were always such a sweetheart too. You pulled through in the most crucial moments, like the battle against Winona's Skarmory. You were at a severe disadvantage but you never gave up, always holding on to that last sliver of hit points because you wanted to show how tough you were to me. Finishing her prized Skarmory off with Draining Kiss proved that you were tough as nails underneath your elegant exterior.
There is one thing that I will never forget: your battle against Wally's Gallade. I remember you wanting to face off against your counterpart to prove that you were just as powerful as he was without a Mega Evolution; and you did. You showed your prowess in that sunlit field of spider lilies.
Thank you, Emeralda. It's because of you that I firmly believe that beauty is tougher than a steel wall.
P.S. Don't search your species' name on Google. Your retinas will be scarred for life. Also, don't listen to anything Jawsh, Dreamweaver, or Gaj says! You'll be coerced to do...things.
Memory Girl reading: Emeralda battled at Christian's side and beat Linoone. The Pokemon fondly remembers that it got overwhelmed by emotion.
Sp. Atk: 217
Sp. Def: 154
Remy, you truly are something special. You're the first hidden Pokemon I ever caught when May was right there next to me! Who would've thought that you knew Thunder Fang, a move that your species can't even learn, right away at level 5! You were always so eager for battle; ready to tear any apponent apart with your vicious fangs. You always gave Team Magma a run for their money, proving that you truly were the mightiest of all Mightyenas (and there were a lot of them). And whenever you teamed up with Emeralda, good lord was that a terrifying combination! You always defended her from deadly attacks and still had enough strength left to Crunch your opponents to oblivion. It's funny how you two are the only females on the team and the best of friends! Y'all are definitely BFF's.
I'll never forget when you outshone Sidney's own Mightyena and single handedly destroyed Phoebe's Pokemon in the Pokemon League. Remember when you had a tough time against Brawly's Makuhita and Robin had to save you? Don't let that experience ever get you down; your Thunder Fang did enough damage to let Robin finish it off with Brave Bird without taking too much recoil damage! You may look intimidating to others, but I know how to sneak past that facade by scratching your ears just how you like it. I'm glad I can always rely on your strength.
Thanks, Remy. You'll always be my favorite fuzzball!
Memory Girl reading: Remy planted Chople Berries with Christian and imagined a big harvest. The Pokemon fondly remembers that it was glad.
Sp. Atk: 107
Sp. Def: 111
Do you know why I named you Hae Ryong? Because it means "sea dragon"! The language comes from an ancient legend where dragons were worshipped as gods in several different aspects. Your best friend was named similarly for that reason too. I believe the tale was from...Breath of Fire: Book IV! I don't care what the Pokedex says about your species' typing; you'll always be a true dragon in my eyes.
Fishing you out with an Old Rod near Slateport's loading dock and raising you with love and care was worth it. Raising you wasn't easy when you were a Magikarp, but you knew you were much more capable than what the Pokedex description said about you. What jerk wrote that stuff anyway?! But you never cared about what others thought about your species. You only cared about growing stronger with me and fought to protect our team from all harm. I never stopped believing in you and your potential, and I'm glad you repayed me in dividends when you finally evolved into the mighty king of the seas, Gyarados. That was when you took off and soared to heights you never thought were imaginable. I'll never forget the time when you and Cho Ryong both wrecked Liza & Tate's shit in one turn. That battle lasted less than a minute! Remember when we surfed all over the world and explored the ocean floor together? Wasn't that amazing?! That one Corsola that stopped to look at you was pretty funny. Your raw physical power was absolutely amazing to watch in battle. Whether it was using Dragon Rage or Waterfall, you washed away your opponents and made them swim in their own tears of defeat!
But the one memory that stuck out to me the most was your brutal match against Drake and his Salamence. Your ultimate rival was right there brimming with Draconic power, but you never gave an inch. Even when he would relentlessly torture you with Thunder Fang for 4x the damage, you refused to be knocked out. You refused to be paralyzed. You wanted to see my, no-our goal to come to fruition, and you would let nothing stand in our way from that happening. With almost no health left, you concentrated with all of your willpower and finished him off with Dragon Rage to help realize our dream. Words cannot express my undying gratitude for your heart and preserverence.
Thank you, Hae Ryong. You are a true sea dragon.
Memory Girl reading: Hae Ryong soared through the sky with Christian and went to many different places. The Pokemon fondly remembers that it felt comfortable.
Hae Ryong's stats:
Sp. Atk: 113
Sp. Def: 157
Etna, ho boy you really are something else. You were always so eager to grow strong, and the funny thing is that you did. You're right behind Cho Ryong as the second highest level Pokemon, even surpassing Hae Ryong in the process! I remember running into you on a whim when I was searching for Nene despite training you just as much as everyone else. Your battle prowess was frightening to see, especially when you used Earthquake and Erpution. You knew you were the slowest of the group, but you never stopped yourself from growing stronger faster at such a phenomenal rate. You loved exploring new places too. Remember Sea Mauville and how fascinating it was? Spiritomb scared the crap out of you at first but you helped me bust that ghost! You and Robin were an amazing dynamic duo, striking fear into the hearts of opponents from land and air. Remember when you faced off against Maxie's own Camerupt and won? He was no match for you and Earth Power at all! Remember when you Mega Evolved for the first time? That surge of power flowing through you...our minds synched and hearts beating as one... It was truly a sight to behold. You and Cho Ryong were the only ones I gave Mega Stones to for a reason. I'm glad I trusted you with that honor.
But if there's one thing that I will never forget, it was your final stand against Steven's Mega Evolved Metagross. Etna... it was because of you and your never ending quest for strength that I finally became a Pokemon champion. Even though you were Mega Evolved too, Mega Metagross kept hammering you repeatedly with Meteor Mash, and it was taking a huge toll on you. You were the last Pokemon left who could handle the brunt of its fierce onslaught. You used Eruption for the 2x damage, but he was too fast and kept attacking you first, which meant your attack did much less damage than normal. You were down to 8 hit points, I had no potions left, and he had the speed advantage. He attacked with Meteor Mash, but your rock solid fortitude and fiery rage of 1,000 white hot suns refused to give up and you held onto that very last sliver of life. Right then and there, with a mighty roar powerful enough to shake the heavens, you unleashed the last of Eruption's power to finish Steven off for good. We wouldn't be champions without you.
Thank you, Etna. Your relentless pursuit of true might paid off in the end. You truly are The World's Strongest.
Memory Girl reading: Etna soared through the sky with Christian and went to many different places. The Pokemon still remembers that it felt nostalgic.
Ability: Solid Rock
Sp. Atk: 174
Sp. Def: 120
Cho Ryong...wow. You were the one who started it all. We have accomplished so much together, from saving Sycamore's ass to the entire plantet's...ass. Your cool demeanor always kept the entire team in check, no matter the situation. There's a reason why I named you Cho Ryong; because you were destined to be the Grass Dragon you always were deep inside. You will always be the leader of this team, Cho. You were the rock of our party, and you consistently proved that Grass type Pokemon were a force to be reckoned with. The quality I like most about you is your ability to rely on others when things get tough for you instead of tackling it on your own; especially with Hae Ryong. You trust your friends. But most of all, you trust me. Thanks for deciding to stay in the box for awhile when I had to train the rest of our crew to get to your level. Etna couldn't wait to show off his strength to you! Being seperated from you was painful at first, but you were always with me in spirit, so I never allowed it to get me down for long. You would've done the same thing if it were the other way around, because you always thought about the team's condition and believed in them. You trusted your friends. But most of all you trusted me, and that's something I will always cherish.
You've done more for me than I could ever ask for in return. You saved my life when Primal Groudon's wrath was unleashed upon the world (Grass Knot was genius). You showed your fortitude against Maxie's Mega Camerupt and stopped Team Magma in the process. You surpassed Norman's expectations, and he recognized me as a fully fledged trainer as a result. You showed Zinnia's Mega Salamence that your Dual Chop was the best in the business. You stood up to Rayquaza and made it recognize our combined strength to help us save the planet. But more than anything, you helped me grow strong not only as a trainer, but as a person.
And the memories, dear lord the memories of our travels together...I couldn't count them all if I tried. Remember when we saved Latios from Tabitabi and that crazy woman Courtney? That woman was insane! We got to soar through the skies and travel to new lands because of that (Robin's very thankful by the way)! Remember when we saw that creepy cave painting in Granite Cave for the first time? That was eerie as hell. Or how about that time when we had to do that stupid task for Wattson at New Mauville? It was so boring but you were just happy to tag along with me. Remember when we went Mt. Pyre and how spooky the cemetery was? That Cleanse Tag I put on your forehead really came in handy (Duskulls. Duskulls, everywhere). Remember when you Mega Evolved for the first time? It blew my mind that you actually became a Dragon type in the process! I'm glad I named you for what you truly were all along. Remember all of the battles you had against your rival, May's Blaziken? You were always super excited to battle him; like kids during summer vaction who couldn't wait to show off what they learned to their friends. Ha, remember when you and Hae Ryong teamed up against Liza & Tate and trashed their team in less than a minute? I swear, you two are like brothers. Remember your fight against Steven's Mega Metagross? That was the hardest battle you ever face in your entire life. You tried your absolute best to whittle his hit points down, but Meteor Mash was too much for your defenses. I'm glad you believed in Etna to step in and get the job done. Being able to trust and rely on your teammates is the mark of a true leader.
We've soared through the heavens and survived the pit of hell itself. I'm glad I chose you. That final battle against May's Mega Blaziken where we first met is something I will never forget. His blaze kicks were damaging, but you shrug them off with your calm demeanor and finished him off with your signature attack, Leaf Blade. At first I didn't understand why you did that, but now I understand. You wanted to prove to your rival and myself that type advantage and STAB boosts meant nothing to you; that your bond with me was the true power that got us through our journey together. Cho, I couldn't have done it without you. We've come to understand the world and how it flows together, together.
Cho Ryong, thank you. You're the best companion, and friend, I could ever have.
Memory Girl reading: Cho Ryong encountered Virizion when it was with Christian. The Pokemon fondly remembers that it grinned.
Cho Ryong's stats:
Sp. Atk: 167
Sp. Def: 157
* * *
That was quite the journey, huh? But hey, let's not stop here! That's right, this is another Unofficial Blogger's Response Call! Do you have any stories you want to share about your amazing journey with your Pokemon? Don't be shy, write one up and share it with the rest of us!
I always liked to imagine stories like this when I played Pokemon as a kid, but it feels even better to finally write one out! I hope you guys enjoyed this fun narrative as much as I enjoyed crafting it.
See ya Space Cowboy.
Nope, this ain't about Danquan.
Oh yes, it's finally here. Occams, Gaj, S_Dae, ask and you shall recieve. As for everyone else, sit back, relax, and let Professor HLBC educate you about the ebbs and flows of this wonderful art called rap. Whether you're a fan of the genre or not, take some of your time to hear me out and at least come to an appreciation for what this music is truly capable of. It's no secret that I'm a rap connoisseur. I've been listening to it since I was a toddler, and I have grown to love and appreciate the work that goes behind it, just like any other artform.
I'm going to discuss four different songs from four different rappers, both old and new:
But before we go any farther, let's get some terminology out of the way, so as to not lose my lovely readers in the jargon. Not all of these will be used, but it's always good to learn something new anyway. Like I always say, if you stay stale you stay behind.
Don't pick the cherry. I hate cherries.
Aaaaaaaand that ought to do it! You are officially ready to handle the sheer magnitude of these four songs. Before we get into the nitty gritty, I'd just like to say that Rap Genius is an amazing tool that allows hip-hop heads to collaborate and decipher lyrics for every rap song in exisitence. I'm only going to touch on some of the techniques that were used because each song has so much content that they deserve a full blog in their own right; which I neither have the time nor energy for.
With that said, LET'S GET OUT THERE AND LEARN SOME SHIT!
You tell em' big boy.
Without further ado, let's introduce our first track, "Communism".
This track comes from Common's 1994 sophomore album, Resurrection. This is one of his classic albums, and while he still maintained his conscious roots, he was more of a gunslinger of a rapper than he is now; which isn't a bad thing. In "Communism" he masterfully blends free association, alliteration, double entendre, switching flows and displays his style change from his previous album, which was.....questionable at best. While the song is only one verse, it's easily his best and arguably one of the greatest of all time. When listening to this track, try not to listen to the words first. Instead, listen to the sounds of the words and how it the flow stays consistent for a few seconds, then switches. After you've got that down, listen again and follow the lyrics. Feel free to click on the bars to see what's going on behind the scenes. You'll always learn something new! As a challenge, try counting how many times you hear "com" without looking at the lyrics.
Did you count 40? If you did, you have some sharp ass ears. Common displays his masterful use of alliteration by using the "com" multiple times and his skillful wordplay of his name Common by using different words; all while sticking to the main concept of the song. Notice how he also occasionally switches his flow. For example, for the first 38 seconds, his flow is very distinct and easy to follow; but after the 40 second mark it switches to a faster and more fluid pace. Amazing isn't it? What makes this track so sick is how Common was able to compound (ha haaa!) so many different lyrical components in just 1 mintute and 30 seconds. There's a reason why Talib Kweli named this as one of his top 25 favorite hip-hop verses of all time.
Next up on our lyrical journey is "It Ain't Hard To Tell".
This track is from Nas's impeccable debut album Illmatic; which is considered by many to be one of, if not the greatest rap album ever dropped in history. After spending the first 9 tracks describing his upbringing in Queensbridge, this final track is all about his love for smoking the ganja. And man, does he do it well. If you listen carefully, you can hear the sample of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" running in the background. And let me tell you, this track is smoother than a baby's butt. Again, follow along with the lyrics and start jamming!
Please tell me you chuckled in amazement at the first 4 bars. Just look at this slice of lyrical brilliance:
It ain't hard to tell, I excel then prevail
The mic is contacted, I attract clientele
My mic check is life or death, breathing a sniper's breath
I exhale the yellow smoke of buddha through righteous steps
Nas just kills it with his rhyming, free association, and metaphorical use. I mean, who comes up with this shit?! It's genius! He even makes up "magmatize" as his own word in the second verse, "so analyze, surprise me, but can't magmatize me". What he's basically saying is that no matter what people say or think about him, he'll never change as a person nor as a rapper. Staying true to yourself is a prevalent theme for many great rappers.
Alrighty then, we're halfway done with our journey! We've cleared the old school section, and now we're moving foward to the new age of rap: the Young Millionare generation!
Shut up mayo boy and let me teach!
If you've been following the list, you know what's up next. There's a reason why I chose a verse from Kendrick and not one of his songs. The impact from his verse in "Control" was so massive that the rap game went under cardiac arrest to understand what the fuck just happened. His verse was so vicious, so brutal, and so ill that some radio stations only played Kendrick's verse when "Control" came on. I almost feel bad for Jay Electronica. I mean, how are you supposed to follow this? Listen and try not to vomit from the sickness of this verse. Listen to Kendrick's tone too; he's out for blood.
Sweet Ghandi's tits was that ferocious! But if you're still asking why this verse is so important, allow me to explain why. Kendrick pays respects to the masters of rap, but places himself at the front of his list, then transitions to the current players in the game, calls them out, and challenges them all to take the throne as the greatest, just as he is.
I heard the barbershops be in great debates all the time
Bout who's the best MC? Kendrick, Jigga and Nas
Eminem, Andre 3000, the rest of y'all
New niggas just new niggas, don't get involved
And I ain't rockin' no more designer shit
White T’s and Nike Cortez, this red Corvette's anonymous
I'm usually homeboys with the same niggas I'm rhymin' with
But this is hip-hop and them niggas should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale
Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you niggas
Trying to make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
They don't wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas
What is competition? I'm trying to raise the bar high
Who tryna jump and get it? You're better off trying to skydive
Those 16 lines are the words that truly shook the game to its core. This resulted in many other rappers, not just the ones listed, to reach for greater heights and not settle for stagnation. Mac Miller was one of the few to answer his call; and Faces was his response.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Mac Miller and his hilariously brilliant track "Friends" from his 2014 mixtape, Faces.
"Friends" is one my favorite tracks, mainly because it describes Mac's crazy life in an almost whimsical nature. Rocking the legendary Miles Davis's instrumentals in the background, he calmly takes a sip of his Arnold Palmer before he gets to work. Pay attention to the rhymes; it's almost as if he's freestyling.
Remember when I mentioned Mac answering Kendrick's call? I'm sure you caught that little snippet in the second verse.
In this Game of Thrones, it is known
I got the 4G, L-T-E connection bars
No Control, fuck Ken Lamar (Fuck you Kendrick!)
Let's take a minute to disect the cleverness of these bars. There's a picture of Kendrick wearing a crown, which portrays the obvious. Game of Thrones depicts the current rap game of many contenders fighting for the throne. Kendrick's wearing crown. 4G LTE the fastest and highest quality connection there is; which is how he describe how good his bars are (the notation for that line on Rap Genuis is retarded). The last line is self-explanatory, and ties all of what I just said into just three lines. That's pretty impressive. Keep in mind that this is just a friendly jab; they're both good friends off the court (ha haaa!).
Phew! Well students, we just covered plenty of ill ass content back there. We learned some new terms, discovered some new artists, and gained an immense amount of knowledge from four different tracks of different styles. I hope I gave you all some perspective about how deep rap truly is. I personally feel that people who dismiss all rap as trash are agonizingly ignorant because they don't at least try to see the significance. Listen to the literary mechanics rappers infuse into their verses. There's free association, alliteration, double--no--even triple metaphors, double entendres, similes, etc. It blows my fucking mind. I love it. Unfortunately there are a plethora of potato rappers that people think are good but only because they have an amazing beat to back up their shitty, dull, uninspired, cookie-cutter, vanilla ass lyrics. I only listen to those who have true skill. Real recognize real; and I hope that after reading this, you will too.
See Ya Space Cowboy.
Haters gonna hate.
[No pic/gif intro this time, my friends. I'm back with another blog, but I'm going to do something different. I'm going to give you guys a nice short story to read! After reading Brittany Vincent's lovely prose, I was motivated create my own. But why stop there? Let's get this fever pitch started and see what you guys can do! Consider this an unoffical Blogger's Response call. Write a short story about anything, videogame related or not. It's that simple. I'd love to see what you guys are capable of, so let's get this ball rolling! Here is my short story. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I loved crafting it.]
The icy wind bit at Ryner’s olive skin. His eyes were stained glass of mosaic red and pink with a pale-green halo. The thick, musty smell of singed hair and gunpowder suffocated his nose as he gazed hopelessly at the wreckage; scraps of sheet metal were hammered through the ground like tombstones. The passenger seats were ripped apart by the shrapnel, now stained wet of blood and ice.
“All fucking gone,” Ryner said.
He knew he had to find shelter soon. The blizzard was not letting up, and the wind continued. Gunshots reverberated in the woods.
“Shit. I knew they were nearby, but not this close,” he said.
He clenched his fists and dashed towards the trees. His lungs were on fire as he ran through the bitter, frozen forest. The trees’ lifeless limbs towered over him like sentinels, watching his every move. Like icicles, the chilled air consistently gnawed at his skin with its icy jaws. He was tempted to stop and rest for a moment, but he knew better than to give them time. The crunch of powdered ice packed beneath his feet as he ran with his willpower dragging behind him.
Ryner’s heart lifted when he approached an abandoned house, a dilapidated remnant from a war of years past crutched between two pine trees tapered in ice. He hurried towards the house and shut himself in. He slouched in the corner of the living room. He could smell rotting wood beneath his feet; no less pleasant than the crash site a few miles back. The walls were a pale blue, as if reflecting the white world outside.
“Jesus, this whole damn forest is a graveyard,” he thought.
Ryner was shivering in frozen agony as he tried to stay warm. He couldn’t feel his limbs. Breathing was painful. He was scared beyond belief, but was too cold to care. The sliver of life he hung onto was slowly fading until he noticed an old woman in rags sitting across from him.
Her hair was thin and silver like threads from a spider’s web. Her face was carved with wrinkles and her eyes were shaped like thin, slanted almonds. Without speaking a word, she gingerly extended a cup of what appeared to be hot tea. Ryner slowly crawled with every ounce of strength he had towards her to grab the hot porcelain cup. The faint aroma of apples and flowers graced his nostrils. His heart began to glow as he cautiously took a small sip of the scorching hot tea.
“Do you still plan on going?” asked the old woman.
“What?” Ryner replied.
“Do you still plan on going? You don’t seem happy about this decision.”
“Decision? Listen, I don’t know what the hell is going on here or what you’re talking about. Our plane was shot down. My crew is dead. All of my notes are destroyed. Those facts are real. This blizzard is real. Those men chasing after me for god knows what, are real. I’m just a journalist. I didn’t ask for any of this shit. I didn’t even want to be here!”
“So you don’t plan on going?”
“Look, thank you for the tea and all, but is there any place safe I can go nearby?”
“Yes. But you have to make a decision first.”
The old lady slowly extended her long and bony finger, slightly shaking, and pointed at Ryner’s face. For the first time, her eyes opened. The old woman’s eyes were black, with a white iris and a black pupil. Ryner’s stomach churned and his heart palpitated at the sight of her Mephistophelian eyes.
“Do you plan on going?” the old woman said.
“I know where I’m going!” Ryner yelled as he bolted out the door and into the forest.
The old woman gazed upon him through the window as her appearance slowly began to change. Her thin silver hair turned auburn. Her skin became smooth and olive toned. Her face was soft and radiated a beautiful complexion. Her eyes were now pale-green, like Ryner’s.
“I see now,” the beautiful woman said.
The door crashed down. The beautiful woman heard the sound of boots thumping against the old wood floors. The gun was beating against the Kevlar vest in a militant fashion. A tall man donned in white from head to toe stood before the beautiful woman. His posture radiated an aura of regality. His face was obscured from his pitch black goggles and facemask. Nothing about his white Kevlar uniform stood out, except for a small crimson tattoo on the front of his helmet. It was a lion of regal stature, standing on its hind legs and roaring with its tongue worming its way out of the beast’s fierce jaws. It was the zodiac of Leo.
“Did he give you an answer?” asked the man with the Leo tattoo. He had the voice of a leader.
“I know him very well. I’m sure he’s made up his mind by now.”
“Which way did he run?”
“I see. It’s only a matter of time then. I’ll handle it from here.”
“He’s terrified of you, you know. You shouldn’t be so hard on the boy. He has a huge decision to make.”
“Indecisiveness is a disease.”
* * *
Ryner continued north and he eventually discovered a cave carved into a rock face. He ran into the grotto to shelter himself from the sheer cold. It was still cold, but it was a different cold. The cavern itself was much bigger and deeper than Ryner initially thought. The high ceiling and narrow passageway gave off a feeling that the place was more of a makeshift grand hall of greystone. He saw something strange for a cave: a light was flickering at the end of the deep hallway.
“Hello?” his voice echoed.
The cave extended deeper into the rock, and soon the entrance resembled a white snowball. Ryner continued to walk deeper into lifeless grand hall, each step braver still. The flickering light became brighter as he neared the end of the greystone cave. The room at the end had nothing but a fluorescent light hanging from the ceiling. The light cut off for a moment, and Ryner rubbed his eyes. When he opened them, what he saw made his legs turn to stone, and his heart drop.
The man with the Leo tattoo was standing there, his black assault rifle in hand. Ryner turned around, but the passageway was suddenly gone.
“I’ve been looking all over for you,” the man said. “It’s time for you to wake up.”
“I…I don’t know wha—,” Ryner panicked. The man with the Leo tattoo shot him twice in the head before he could speak another word.
* * *
Gasping for air, Ryner shot up out of bed as he stared at his sweaty palms.
“I know where I’m going…,” he muttered.
He immediately ran downstairs and into the kitchen, where he saw a familiar figure. A beautiful woman with auburn hair, smooth olive skin, a soft face radiating a beautiful complexion, and pale-green eyes, was making chamomile tea.
“Mother, I’m turning down the job,” Ryner said with assertiveness. “Being a war correspondent would be too much.”
Ryner’s mother turned around and extended the cup of tea with a smile.
“I’m glad you finally made a choice. What happened? Bad dream convince you otherwise?” she laughed.
“Yeah… I guess you could say that. Everything was so white and grey. I was so scared and miserable.”
“This world has its fair share of problems, hon. Why be miserable when you could laugh and smile underneath a sky so blue?”
Ryner slowly took a sip from the hot, white porcelain cup. The aroma of apples and flowers graced his senses as he cracked a smile for the first time. The sun kissed his skin when he gazed out the kitchen window. The sky was a beautiful cerulean hue.
“I hate snow,” he said. “I really hate snow.”