Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is the second part of a five-part standalone miniseries that is the perfect jumping-on point for those who have never read Spacemon before. If you’re interested in reading more, you can get caught up on the entire Spacemon saga here!
Even at the best of times, the whistling winds of the White Waste were numbingly cold. Vast and expansive, the frozen wasteland was devoid of almost all color and life. It was a region few dared tread, as the hostile climate, treacherous terrain, and abominably powerful Ice Pokemon welcomed only the strong, the disciplined, and the foolhardy.
Today, one such soul wandered through these mountains.
Isolde stood atop the hill overlooking the derelict vessel. Stripped for parts centuries ago, the outer hull had been left here as a memento; the Ark Zavtra had carried her ancestors to this planet all the way from ancient Earth. Isolde was many things, but right now, in this moment, she was a student of history. She slid down the snowy slope to get a closer look, but slipped as she neared the bottom and ended up falling face up into the snow.
She laid there for a time and simply stared up into the winter sky, as if the fall had been intentional. This was the same sky her forbearers looked up at as they first stepped out of the Ark. Her people, unlike the other nations as they would later come to learn, had landed on a harsh and inhospitable planet, in the middle of this frozen wasteland. The experience was a brutal one, Isolde knew, especially in the first years, but her people had survived and came out all the stronger for it.
Isolde absentmindedly fanned her arms and legs, creating an imprint in the snow.
A nation had been built here, one that had eventually come to thrive and prosper, but there was debate among historians as to whether the White Waste itself had ever really been conquered. A great many people abandoned the Winter World once the first colonies were established: the massive city worlds at the heart of their empire today. Mir Zimoy would always be the first, and there would always be those like Isolde who remained on the birthworld of their civilization. Even they, however, had abandoned the unforgiving wastes, settling instead across the comparatively milder regions of the planet.
There was a danger that lurked here, a danger both of and within the cold, stalking and preying upon those arrogant enough to believe they were at the top of nature’s pyramid.
All of a sudden, a low growl rumbled from within the shell of the Zavtra. It snapped Isolde’s attention from her daydreams of the past back to the present as she turned her head toward the ship, and that was when she saw it. A hulking, hungry behemoth stepping menacingly out into the snow from its metal den: it was a massive Alpha Beartic.
Baring its fangs, it stood up on its hind legs and let out a bellowing roar, before slamming back down onto the ground and aggressively advancing towards Isolde.
“Zima,” she commanded, calmly. “Blizzard.”
Suddenly a snowy blur appeared beside her against the wintry white backdrop and unleashed a furious icy blast at the bear, sending it reeling. The wild Ice Pokemon was not frozen, of course, but the attack inflicted quite a lot of damage, especially since the wild Pokemon normally resisted such attacks. Wounded and perturbed by this unexpected display of strength, the Beartic turned toward the mountains in retreat.
The blur moved closer to Isolde, its silhouette becoming more distinct against the flurrying haze, and it stopped right in front of her face to lick an errant snowflake off her nose. She couldn’t help but smile a little as she patted the Glaceon on the head, then picked herself up off the ground, brushing the snow off her long black hair. Looking off in the direction that the Beartic had fled, the danger within the wastes moved forward to pursue her prey.
“Come on … come ooooooooonnnnnnn!”
It had been fortunate, in retrospect, that Ivan had always insisted on carrying a multi-tool in his rear pocket. It never exactly made for comfortable sitting experiences, but its placement enabled him to just barely reach it through his restraints.
“Almooost … and done!” Ivan whispered as he finished cutting through the links on the shackles.
“My friend,” Lee said. “If we survive long enough to get out of this mess, I will never make fun of you for stabbing yourself in the buttocks ever again.”
Not long after, the ever familiar footsteps returned. Ivan quickly hid his arms at his side, concealing the multi-tool within his fist. All he could do was remain silent, hoping that, at the rear end of the room, they would go unselected and unnoticed. Ivan tried to suppress the pang of guilt he felt as his silent prayer was answered and one of the others in the front was dragged away, screaming.
The pair of soldiers had waited patiently to make their move, waiting for what felt like several hours; it was difficult to tell how long, really, given the lack of light in this … wherever they were. They had watched their captor come and go a few times, taking away another of their comrades with each return. By their reckoning they had maybe half an hour, judging by the regular intervals with which their abductor seemed to appear. Half an hour to free themselves and wake up their last remaining comrade, Krasnaya who was still groggy from his stun round to the head, and find a way out of this place.
Now it was time to act.
“Alright. Remember the plan?”
Captain Zheleznaya struggled, in vain, to withhold her condemnation. She found herself judging the squadron of missing recruits, her blame flitting back and forth between their alleged lack of resolve and their supposed incompetence. After all, desertion or abduction, one way or another their disappearance was a difficult thing to believe, and a difficult thing to excuse. In the back of her mind, however, her judgment cast itself upon another target: herself. She chided herself for allowing this to happen under her watch. The Captain was angry, keeping herself busy focusing her attention on filing paperwork until she heard Lieutenant Long knock on her door.
“Excuse me, ma’am, but there is a Nolnaya City Police Inspector at the base entrance. He has asked to speak with you.”
“Speak with me about what? Did he say anything else?”
“Nope. I imagine he’s here about the squadron that’s MIA, but he didn’t say anything else to me,” the limber sniper mused. “Well, he did grumble a bit about the weather, but—”
“I see …” Zheleznaya cut her off. “Very well. Send him in.”
The Lieutenant offered a salute before exiting the office. She returned a few minutes later with the visitor in tow. True to her word, the badge he carried identified him as a police detective, if a shabby looking one.
“Thank you for your time, Captain,” he spoke in a gruff voice. “My name is Viktor Gorovich and I’m an Inspector for the Nolnaya City Police Force. We received your alert regarding your missing men.”
“And you come bearing news on the matter, I hope?”
“Well, not exactly …” the Inspector began, before Zheleznaya interrupted the man.
“Then I hope you are not here just to waste my time. I have a crisis to deal with.”
The Lieutenant shrank just a little under her iron glare, but Gorovich seemed unfazed. Instead he curtly replied, “I came here to see if I can help, not put up with your boot camp crap.”
Zheleznaya berated herself internally for needlessly antagonizing the man, for letting her emotions get the better of her. “Apologies. My frustration does not excuse my behavior,” she bowed her head slightly. “I’m supposed to be better than this …”
“Sure, whatever, screw it,” Gorovich shrugged it off. “Anyway, we’ve already updated all checkpoints in the city; if any of those men attempt to pass through, we’ll know. That’s not why I came all the way out here, however,” pausing to reach for a cigarette, before thinking better of it in his present company. “I’ve got a string of missing civilians. Not much to connect them other than the fact that they’ve each disappeared mysteriously under the cover of darkness, snow, what have you. Not unlike your soldiers … my detective’s gut says there’s a connection.”
Zheleznaya said nothing as she considered his words.
“I’ll be blunt,” Gorovich continued. “I realize outpost affairs are normally outside my jurisdiction, but my department is short on manpower at the moment, and I’m guessing that, with all the missing soldiers, so are you. So here’s my proposal: let’s pool our resources and work together on this.”
She could have turned him down. Formally speaking, the Captain’s assignment was the military base and all its affairs. It was her solemn duty, however, to protect the people of her nation; if there was something Zheleznaya could do, then frankly refusing to do so was not an option for her. “Very well,” she nodded. “What can you tell me so far about the situation?”
“Nothing solid as of yet, unfortunately,” he frowned. “But I still have a lead to follow up on.”
“Then you can fill me in along the way,” the Captain declared as she stood up. “You mentioned you need manpower? I will aid you myself.”
“The backup is appreciated. Come on, then, the weather outside isn’t getting any better,” smirked the Inspector as the two of them walked out of the office.
“Cool … I’ll just … stay on watch here then, I guess,” Lieutenant Long said to no one in particular.
The escape plan was fairly straightforward:
Run. Really fast.
Their eyes had adjusted just enough that they could perceive the doorways, otherwise they would have been stuck running face first into walls, but there was still far too little light to discern anything else. All the three men could do was keep running.
Suddenly a hideous sound echoed through the hallway, like a scream but not quite.
“Shit! What was that?”
“I don’t know! I think it came from … behind!”
“Whatever you do, don’t stop running!”
Though he had desperately hoped for the contrary, Ivan honestly hadn’t expected their breakout to go unnoticed for very long. Fortunately the plan he and Lee had come up with had a step prepared for this exact eventuality:
Run some more.
Soon Ivan’s heart was beating louder than the howls reverberating around them, although whether due to exertion or fear he could not say. After a few of the longest heartbeats he had ever experienced, the trio reached the end of the hallway, with another two corridors branching off to the left and right.
“Which—” his own sharp panting cut him off. “Fuck, which way do we go? How the hell do we get out of here?” Wherever they were being held, it was a damn labyrinth.
“Hug the right wall?” Lee suggested.
“Are you serious right now?” Krasnaya snapped. “I thought you guys said you knew what you were doing!”
“Whatever’s chasing us is getting closer,” Lee responded as another shriek pierced the air behind them, this time close enough for Ivan to make out a vague shape. “You got any better ideas?!”
“No time!” Ivan shouted, grabbing his comrades and darting down the corridor. “Right wall it is!”
They kept on running and soon the corridor opened up into some kind of room. Ivan saw those glowing green eyes, burning bright against the darkness, turn to face him and he suddenly felt very naked without his combat gear.
“Shit! Fuck! Nope! Not this way! Left wall! Left wall!” he screamed, screeching to a halt before turning around and sprinting back down the hallway.
Pushing harder than he ever had in his life, Ivan charged forward, full of adrenaline, through whoever or whatever had been chasing them, as their hasty backtrack was now blocked. Whatever he had tackled was heavier than him— certainly more than he had expected— causing him to bounce and stumble to the side. He swung a blind punch in front of him and felt his fist connect with something furry. He fumbled for his multi-tool, drawing out the blade of its knife to follow up with a stab just as his combat training had drilled into him. Ivan thrust it forward and felt it impact, felt the blood trickle down his hand … but it appeared to have no effect! His enemy did not slow or even react; he heard no noise, no growl, no grunt of pain. All he earned for his trouble was a kick to the gut as he felt a boot shove him back. His knife slipped out of his hand as he fell backwards and he heard it clatter to the floor and get kicked around in the shuffle.
Disarmed and vulnerable, he considered diving down and trying to find it in the darkness when he felt a cold, clammy hand clumsily grasp him by the neck, pulling him in closer. He panicked, flailing his limbs wildly until he managed to knock over his assailant. Ivan also lost his own balance however, tumbling down onto the cold, hard floor where he frantically kept kicking. His frenzy seemed to earn him some breathing room, but not long after a large paw of some kind came crashing down onto his right collarbone, knocking the wind out of him completely. He managed to shove the strange appendage off of him using his other arm. He then rolled over, out of reach, where he struggled to scramble to his feet and draw a few large breaths.
It was then that Ivan felt a second hand grab him.
We’re not going to make it!
Ivan let out a high pitched scream.
“Come on, buddy,” he heard Lee say as the hand helped him up. “You scream like a girl! Don’t you give up on me now!”
Ivan felt a wave of relief wash over him for the briefest instant until he heard a growling moan beside him, and his terror returned as he hurried along to follow Lee down the hallway. He could hear Krasnaya’s heavy footsteps running not too far behind them, as the man tripped over … whatever it was Ivan had knocked over in the darkness. He heard the sounds of a brief scuffle, followed by his comrade’s screams as he was grappled and dragged away by another enemy.
“Oh no!” cried Ivan, turning around. “They got Krasnaya!”
“And they’re gonna get us, too, if we don’t keep moving! There’s nothing we can do for him now, they’re too strong for us without our weapons or our Pokemon. Come on, Ivan!”
Ivan hesitated for only a moment before turning back around to follow Lee. He was right; they were outnumbered and outmuscled. This way, they could at least outrun them while they converged on Krasnaya.
This way, the two of them might still live to see another day. It helped to ease the guilt from his mind. Still, the Lieutenant had an old joke about outrunning a Beartic that he doubted he’d be laughing at again any time soon …
With all resistance now seemingly occupied, the pair made it all the way to the end of the other corridor, where it again branched like a maze.
“Fuck!” Ivan cried. “Whyyyy?”
“Hold on a moment,” Lee interjected. “Does that way seem brighter to you? I think I see light!”
“Oh shit, for real? Let’s get the hell out of here!”
As the two of them kept running, Ivan could see that Lee was right. He could see a light at the end of the tunnel. And not in the ominous way. It was honest-to-God daylight!
We’re going to make it!
They reached the wall at the end, and as he looked down the branch to the left, his eyes were blinded by the sweet light of freedom.
“Holy shit, Lee!” he shouted as he stepped outside, breathing in the cold, but fresh air. “We made it! I can’t believe it!”
His comrade did not respond.
“Lee? You still with me, man? Come on, talk to me!”
A few seconds later his eyes adjusted to the light, and he could see his friend standing beside him looking straight ahead, his eyes full of dread.
Ivan turned to face forward himself, and saw only a barren expanse blanketed by heavy snowfall.
The White Waste.
The hail falling upon Nolnaya City was only continuing to get worse. Even with their year round winter coats, all residents of the city would normally be hurrying inside by this point. Those passing by the transit station, however, simply stood by and watched in awe at the sight before them.
A lone Knight Commando stepped outside of a large transport, his bulky power armor painted white. On his massive shoulder plate he sported an angel decal: a winged figure brandishing a burning sword.
Excited whispers and murmurs circulated throughout the station. The Knight Commandos were legendary amongst the Romanov people, and their reputation as indestructible warriors who protected the nation preceded them. These elite soldiers were rare within the larger military, so the appearance of even one was something of an event, especially for a small, remote place like Nolnaya. While a few wondered if his appearance signaled trouble afoot, the people felt safe regardless due to the presence of a Knight Commando.
An ease of mind he was proud to provide.
“The storm is getting worse. There’s no way we’ll be able to continue our flight path until it’s passed us over, sir,” the transport pilot said to him. “Hopefully your business in the capital isn’t too urgent, Major. We’re stuck here for the moment. It could be a day or two before it clears up.”
“My business in the capital is classified,” Major Abram Lebedenko spoke with a booming voice that was only amplified by his helmet speakers. His previous assignment had been a dark one, and he was glad to have it behind him. “But do not worry yourself about it, it is no trouble. Can you tell me where we’ve made our little pitstop?” He was well aware of the anxiety his position and stature sometimes evoked in others, and did his best to mitigate it when possible.
“Nolnaya City,” the pilot answered him. “Aside from the military base and the local university, the only things here really are the mines and the refineries. Common ores, mostly. This is a place where iron becomes steel.”
“Nolnaya? Is that so?” Abram asked thoughtfully. “I believe I’ve an old friend here I should pay a visit, in that case. If you’ll excuse me.”
“Sir? The snow is only getting heavier … are you sure you wouldn’t like me to find a ground vehicle for you?”
“Trust me,” Abram replied, the hail plinking harmlessly off his armor plating. “I can walk.”
He turned, and began marching down the street, his heavy mechanized footsteps pounding the pavement beneath him. People gave him a wide berth, although some looked as if they wanted to get closer. As a Knight Commando, Abram was an icon that was larger than life. Literally, in fact: already a large man naturally, he stood almost eight feet tall in his towering armor. A titan among men.
The Major paused for a moment to check his red and silver Aegislash, Uriel, who was fastened to his waist. The Royal Sword Pokemon cast its eye back towards him, and he continued along his way.
Lee could barely feel his feet as he and Ivan wandered through the snowstorm, they were so cold and numb. He also could barely feel his hands, his face … his whole body really. They were all but depleted; their breakout from the ... dark place had been exhausting, but the White Waste was far more draining. Lee had to muster a deep will and resolve with each step he took.
To make matters worse, they were completely lost. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no supplies, no visibility, and no hope.
“Are … we there yet?” Ivan slurred beside him. “I just wanna … lie down.” The man could hardly keep his eyes open. Lee’s own eyelids felt heavy just looking at him.
“Come on, we have to stay awake,” Lee pushed him. “If you fall asleep now, you’ll never wake up.”
“Fucking blizzard …”
“Silver lining …” Lee said, his breath ragged and shallow. “The snowfall is doing a good job of covering our tracks. They have no way of chasing us out here.”
He waited a few moments for Ivan to complain back at him, or perhaps offer a quip how their survival odds had been better when they were captives.
But Ivan said nothing.
“Ivan? You still with me, buddy?”
“I’m fine … honestly. I’m not even shivering anymore.”
That’s … probably not a good sign.
Suddenly Ivan stumbled, dropping down into the deep snow beneath him.
Lee scrambled to grab his comrade and haul him up out of the snow. It took all of his strength to lift the man and hoist him over his shoulders. He took a single step, but his foot refused to move. Try as he might, his muscles were disobeying his brain’s orders; he simply lacked the energy to keep moving. Tears welled in his eyes, but froze as soon as they tried to run down his face.
After seconds that spanned lifetimes, the two men heard a beastly snarl over the roaring winds. Lee felt a fresh surge of adrenaline pulse weakly through his cold veins as he found the energy to move again and focused his eyes in the direction of the sound. He spotted a large, white shape— difficult to make out against the snowstorm— charging towards them at an alarming pace. As it got closer, he could see that it was in fact a giant Beartic. It looked angry. An apex predator, his brain reminded him. I learned that during our survival training. As if such knowledge could help him now.
He took another step, tried to get away, but it seemed whatever adrenaline rush that had enabled him to act had already run dry, and he could do nothing but fall to the snow.
“Shit,” Ivan grumbled, but managed a weak grin. “And here I had just made peace with freezing.” At least he had his comrade back with him.
At least I won’t have to die alone.
Lee closed his eyes.
And he waited.
“Zima,” he heard a voice ring out, calm but clear. “Snap Freeze.”
He heard the impact of a powerful Pokemon attack, then opened his eyes, just in time to witness the massive ice bear collapse and crumple to the ground, defeated, revealing the figure standing behind it.
“Dang it,” their savior said, her long hair flowing in the wind as her gaze fell on the two shivering soldiers. “I was hoping it would put up more of a fight, you know?”
That does it for this part. As always the Spacemon gang and I will be monitoring the comments to foster discussion and answer any questions. Feel free to give feedback and critiques of the writing so I can improve it for the future, or just leave a comment with what you think about what went down in this piece! You can also revisit past chapters, check out the rest of the Spacemon saga, join the Spacemon Discord server, or like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things Spacemon! Click here for the next exciting installment of Spacemon!