Since I have writer's block for Unlicht and Sinnlos, I'm posting another story I've been working on. I have a few chapters written already, but I'm posting them one at a time. The pokemon ranger in the beginning is sort of based off the ones from the Black and White games, and then sorta kinda from the ranger games themselves.

I own nothing except for any OC's that appear. Enjoy!

Salvatore ducked, his head spinning from the blow he had taken earlier. The ranger clutched the egg case to his chest, glancing down at the cargo inside - the egg he had been entrusted with in order to keep it safe. Again he ducked, a chunk of ground flying out from beside him. A narrow escape, he mused, darting in and out of trees, creating a zigzag path behind him to avoid the fire raining down.

Bang! Bang bang! The ranger leapt from rock to rock to cross the stream, the water flying up beside him as shots whizzed past his body, so close that he could feel the wind. Any closer and he would be bait for Basculin. Sal hit the last rock with a thud, losing his footing enough to halt him. In the split second it took him to regain that lost footing, a shot barreled through the summer air, plunging itself deep into the left side of his back.

Letting out a loud cry of pain, he staggered for the bank, making it to the other side just barely, only to collapse with a thud on the grass, blood pooling around the wound in his back. He kept the case close to his chest, although his vision was fuzzy from the pain and the unwanted tears that formed in his eyes. He reached for his pokeball belt, running purely on adrenaline now as he sent out Sawk, his loyal companion.

"Sawk," he stammered through the pain. "Take it... Go! The professor..." But now the pain was so great and spread so far throughout his back that he could barely speak, could barely think, and could hardly breathe. Sawk hated to leave his trainer there, dying in the bloodstained grass, but an order was an order, and if Sal was going to die, at least he wouldn't die in vain.

The fighting type disappeared into the trees, the egg case held tightly and in the safest hands possible. Salvatore, meanwhile, glared up at the trees, his eyes glazed over with pain. A ranger wasn't supposed to die this way, of that he was almost absolutely sure. They could die when their missions were completed, and delivering this egg was part of the deal.

"We got 'im now," someone remarked, stepping up on Sal's right side. "We got 'im good."

"Yeah we did!" his compatriot agreed, stepping up on his left side. "There's only one problem." The two men looked at one another, their brows furrowing in utter annoyance and disdain. "He doesn't have the egg."

"Well then I guess we'll have to teach this ranger a lesson then, won't we?" The other smirked, kicking Sal in the side, hard enough to crack a rib. The ranger grunted with pain, coughing as the pain not only burst through his aching back but his chest, knocking the wind right out of him. From the other side, he was kicked again, but harder than the first. He tried to hold in the screams of agony as his ribs broke, snapping like twigs under the blows from the big boots of his assailants.

The two men pummeled Sal, beating him to a bloody pulp, attacking him so bad that their own fists bled and were scarred. All the while they were attacking a defenseless man who couldn't even do a thing to help himself, despite his long days spent training at ranger school and in the field. As the world began to fade to a dark black, Salvatore wondered what would become of him and what would happen to the egg, to Sawk, and why these bastards even wanted it in the first place.

"I just need to make sure there ain't a crack in the wall," Clay explained, pressing the down button on the elevated platform. After jerking slightly, it started moving downward, past the thick layers of rock all compacted and squished together. "After that mini quake we had it's better to be safe than sorry, 'cause ya never can be too safe."

Tate nodded, keeping her eyes trained on the rock layers, which reminded her of peanut butter sandwiches all stacked one on top of the other. She wasn't partial to heights, but since part of her job was to assist Clay in whatever he needed regarding the gym or the mines, she was forced to "man up" and deal with it. Something she wasn't pleased about.

The elevator slowly worked its way down, taking longer to reach the gym's smooth, carved stone floor than Clay would have preferred. "It shouldn't be too bad, but with these things ya never really can tell." He stepped off the elevator, followed by his assistant, who zipped her jacket. Even though the weather was muggy and rainy up on the topside, it was ridiculously cold down here, the way Clay preferred the gym to be.

Clay looked around, his scrutinizing eyes squinting. Tate meandered around, glancing around the vast expanse of the cave-like gym, searching for any cracks visible at first glance. "I don't see any, Clay," she commented, looking over at the gym leader. "Just rocks, rocks, and more rocks."

"Look harder. They ain't gonna pop right out at ya."

She sighed, turning back to the walls, pulling one hand out of her jacket pocket to run it over the rocks. The tiny stones that poked out of the wall scratched at her skin, making her hand jerk away every so often, but she continued searching for cracks. She would until Clay determined that there were no cracks to be found, because so long as she did her job, she would get paid.

"Do you see any?" Tate questioned, looking over her shoulder at the gym leader.

"Not yet I don't, but I ain't done yet. Keep lookin'."

Tate slid her hands up the walls, feeling for any cracks. The little ones had always been there - she had been down in this gym so many times before the quake that she remembered which cracks were which. When she was bored she imagined them expanding and little bug pokemon crawling out, but those were on off days. Bug type pokemon weren't high up on her list of favorite types.

"All I see are the regular old ones." Of course, there was one particular crack that bothered her, but she could have sworn it had been there beforehand.

"Hmmm. Me, too. I don't see none of them big ones that could cause us some trouble," Clay mumbled, still scrutinizing the walls with a keen eye. "All righty then. C'mon. Let's go get some lunch." Tate smiled at the thought of food, turning away from the rocks as she walked with Clay back towards the elevator. The two climbed onto the elevator, Clay hit the button, and they were off.

So, what did you think? Tell me in a review! I read them all!

~ Peaches