In a world ravaged by the epidemic, once-familiar lands now left devastated beyond recognition; Fortree, New Fortree, stood out as an anomaly. Like many of its inhabitants, New Fortree was a fighter – a true survivor that had learnt to adapt; that instead of crumbling, was growing ever-stronger in the months that passed.
Now, with its sixth-month anniversary been-and-gone, this phoenix of a city – reborn from the ashes – was truly thriving.
Looming barricades, primarily constructed from the plentiful source of trees in the area towered over the haven. Pokémon patrolled the borders, some clambered atop the tree-top roofs whilst avian inhabitants circled as look-outs in the sky. Perhaps intimidating to a stranger, one might consider it prison-like on first impression. It wasn’t an overly sophisticated set-up, but the combination of tall, solid blockades and a constant collection of attentive eyes had kept the city standing.
Of course, there’d been close-calls – more so in the early days. Those who had lived there long-enough had come to realize that no matter how idyllic the charade, the city could never escape the clutches of reality. Corpses of the undead often littered the city perimeter, deep scratches remained etched into the barriers as well as in the scars left on those who fought those ungodly perpetrators; no amount of denial could magic-away the scent of blood and rot. And nobody could forget the casualties – humble mounds of earth nestled by the river on Route 119, a final resting place for those who had laid down their lives for the greater good.
The lone figure of a houndoom stood before these graves, silent as dark eyes wandered across all the remnants of his fallen friends, his family. Hers was the smallest – hardly noticeable were it not for a single wildflower resting idly atop it. Penny had perished almost four months ago, but remained anomalous in that a stranger inhabited her grave. Only one creature knew that, the same canine that kept up the guise of a mourning father. Blake – a name only few recognised as his – would lay the flowers, making the weekly pilgrimage totally void of emotion. He felt no sorrow, no anguish – comfortable to rest in the clutches of a harrowing denial.
This canine, a creature layered in unspoken mystery, had founded the community. He’d built it up from a simple dreamer’s vision, and with an ever-expanding group of wanderers created something incredible. New Fortree was his home as well as the home of the thirty-odd creatures that encompassed his family. He couldn’t turn a healthy man away, unable to abandon anyone who had already worked so hard to survive this savage world. Blake admired every one of them; cared for them as not only a democratic, sympathetic leader but also as a kindly father. He was The Governor and this was his empire.
With a soft sigh, The Governor turned away from Fortree’s graveyard and began his journey back towards his quarters. The camp was bustling with life, the pleasant weather apparently infecting the inhabitants with good cheer as they went about their daily duties. Some scavenged in groups just beyond the borders, others taught and cared for the growing child populace of the community – whilst others enjoyed a day-off or a few hours break. Regardless of their business, the houndoom would smile to those he passed, offering a courteous nod of his head and the occasional word of goodwill. He was approachable in every sense, always mingling amidst the lowest rung of the community’s hierarchy to uphold his image of benevolence.
As long legs carried him towards the old perimeter of the city – New Fortree having expanded to include the Weather Institute and its surrounding area – sound of a ruckus ushered him to pick up the pace. It wasn’t uncommon on rations day, especially given the dwindling supplies but whilst the usual petty squabble could do no harm, Blake heard snarling. Frowning, he made his way towards the dishevelled pokecenter – the building now housing the bulk of the community’s supplies, medicine, food and miscellaneous products alike. A small group waited uncomfortably for their shares, trying not to stare at the situation unfolding a stone’s throw away.
Blake was unsurprised to find the culprit to be one of his closest comrades. Not a friend, never a friend – but the shiny hound was loyal, powerful and regardless of a rather unsavoury character remained a valuable asset.
Nokes had caught another one, another lowlife attempting to rob his way to a fatter belly, and had reacted as his title of ‘enforcer’ commanded. He liked to think of himself as a creature of justice, a sheriff of sorts; though the canine’s particular brand of justice was brutal – completely unbefitting to quaint, community life. He had struck the offending feline with a Thunder Wave, rendering the creature paralyzed and trembling before the ferocious manectric. His stuttered apologies fell on deaf ears, all his attempts at justifying the crime of an extra berry for his expecting mate becoming completely irrelevant. Nokes just wanted an excuse to get his claws dirty.
He approached swiftly, ignoring the spectators as he sneered in the feline’s face – breath stale and reeking. A single eye threatened to tear into his captive’s face, the other organ destroyed long ago – instead offering glimpse into a heavily infected eye socket. Nokes was almost as ugly on the outside he was inside.
“You thought you’d get past ol’ Nokes, huh? You think you’re smarter than me?” He laughed disbelievingly, the sound turning truly wicked as the cat attempted to squirm away from his captor. “Oh no,” He shook his head, voice a tormenting sing-song as he slammed a heavy paw atop the persian’s shoulder, satisfied with the yelp of pain it evoked. “You’re not going anywhere, buddy,”
“Nokes,” His remaining eyelid closed at the familiar call, The Governor’s bark processing as the electric-type gave a great exhale through gritted fangs. Great. “What’s the meaning of all this? Tell me what’s going on.”
Nokes turned to face the approaching houndoom, flashing him an unpleasant smile as reciprocation for The Governor’s glower. He’d been tightening the leash around his neck more than he preferred lately, evoking a quiet rebellion in the shiny hound that he hoped hadn’t gone unnoticed. Nokes didn’t want to fight his self-proclaimed boss, in fact he respected the dark-type a great deal, but he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to get his regular fix of violence. They had an agreement, admittedly unsaid but more than apparent to the both of them.
“Punk thought he’d help himself to extras. We’ve gotta keep thieves in line, Gov,”
“I-It’s just o-one m-more berry,” The cat managed to stutter out desperately. Nokes had lifted his arm ready to strike the coward’s face, but was halted by the houndoom’s persistence.
“That’s enough, Nokes,” The Governor had heard enough, his voice was firm – chilling in an unusual sense. He hadn’t raised his voice, he’d barely changed his tone but it was enough to stop any further bloodshed. “Take a walk. Go the eastern border – find something to do,” There was no room for argument and the manectric, though disgruntled, accepted this. His nostrils flared, lips momentarily pulled back into a snarl before he reluctantly turned away, defeated.
Stalking off with his temper flared at the humiliation of The Governor’s rebuttal, Nokes pushed himself through the onlookers with a sharp, “Move,” They were wise to heed the command, many opting to give the hound as much space as he required. It’d be more had he let me do my job… he thought darkly.
Unlike the majority of Fortree’s inhabitants, Nokes had no interest in the community-spirit, the camaraderie that the houndoom so often encouraged. He was here for two reasons. First of all, for the cushy living; and secondly, for the power. Everyone knew Nokes, almost as well as they knew of The Governor – but for all the wrong reasons. He’d created quite a name for himself in the few months he’d been there, his reputation built on a brief history of unnecessary violence, terrifying shows of aggression and a debauched interest in the female populace. They were right to fear him, though it made his duties a lot more boring. He’d have to let off steam more often, join the hunting groups to fight the undead when he couldn’t pick fights with the survivors.
Blake, having dismissed Nokes before things could escalate any further, had stopped to sit aside the still-paralyzed persian – guilty to see him in such a position and keen to alleviate the humiliation. He managed a sympathetic smile, gesturing to a distributor in the pokecenter for a pecha berry that was swiftly delivered to him.
“Come on,” He nudged the berry to the feline’s face so that he might regain his dignity sooner, careful to avoid the static that imprisoned his body as he did so. He put himself between the onlookers and the fallen persian in a vain attempt at offering the victim an amount of privacy. Though he had no doubt the stares were ones of concern rather than judgement, Blake simply thought it the kinder thing to do.
As the cat shakily got to his paws, the berry’s healing properties proving their worth, Blake addressed the matter of the theft.
“You mustn’t be afraid to ask,” He insisted, harsh but kind – very much alike to a father scolding his child. The feline could only nod his head, half-ashamed as he remained reluctant to meet the houndoom’s eyes. But he seemed to get the message, stuttering out another hushed apology.
“There’s no harm done. Take your rations and I’m sure we can find a little extra for your mate. She’s eating for two now after all,” He smiled kindly, speaking slightly louder as he looked across to the helpful dispenser still lingering in the doorway – she got the message, scurrying back within the building to collect a few extras before helping the cat on his way. The Governor left him with an apologetic smile and a soft pat on the back, wishing his partner all the best with her approaching motherhood.
The Governor left the scene quickly after that, flashing apologetic looks at the onlookers and wishing them a pleasant day on his departure. Whilst he had suggested to Nokes a temporary distraction, he wanted to ensure that he followed it through. It was a full-time job keeping the electric-type in order, perhaps more troublesome than his worth; but the day things turned ugly, he knew he’d appreciate Nokes as an ally rather than an opponent.
(( Blergh, I hate introductions but I think this will do. Also, to make things easier I’m going to refer to the boundaries of the camp as the eastern and western borders. The east sits at the edge of Fortree City just before Route 120, and the western border will be about halfway down Route 119 – sort of between the two waterfalls I’m thinking. ))