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A Balance That Can't Be Kept

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by VRainbow, Dec 28, 2018.

  1. VRainbow

    VRainbow Member

    William Callahan only wanted to be a Trainer. To travel across the Magturae region, maybe one day becoming Champion. But he's found himself amidst a web of deceit, where the lines of right and wrong blur and William is left to wonder what being a Trainer really means.

    Very little Pokemon knowledge is required, but would enhance the material.

    I will post a new chapter every 1-2 weeks on Friday or Saturday, though I can't make any promises.

    Content warnings: There is little to no swearing, and no sexual content. Contains some dark themes and, on some occasions, death, though none is in great detail.

    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  2. VRainbow

    VRainbow Member

    Chapter 1

    No one wants to be a Pokemon trainer.

    That’s what my mother told me, trying to change my mind. She told me of all the Trainer deaths that occurred annually, of the many injuries and mental traumas that so many suffered from. It’s true that it is one of the least popular professions, and that most don’t make it past their first year as a Trainer for one reason or another, but it’s not really my decision. I have to do it. Every night since I was ten, I’ve had dreams. Dreams I can’t remember, but fill me with an overwhelming desire that I can’t refuse.

    I’d brought it up with my family, who had trouble believing me, but knew in this strange world we live in anything is possible. If only the requirements to be a Trainer were the same as they were many years ago! Then I could have become a Trainer as soon as I was ten. But no. For three years I’ve felt hollow, like I’m depriving myself of an essential life function.

    Not anymore. I have passed the requirements. It’s the day they recruit new Trainers, and I have just turned thirteen. It’s time for me to go. I walked inside Professor Aspen’s lab, my shoes pounding against the floor as my heart pounds with excitement. Three years ago, I would have been terrified, but now I felt as though my life was about to be completed. I breathed in the smell of chemicals and opened the door to the main laboratory.

    “Ah, William, you’re the first one here!” Professor Aspen exclaimed, throwing her hands out to her sides. She was wearing the traditional white lab coat, with a few faded, different colored stains on it. She almost looked like a child who had made a mess with fingerpaint, but the paint was chemicals, and Professor Aspen was a fully grown adult. She straightened out her coat and waved for me to follow her.

    “So, do you know which starter to pick? They’re from the Unova region this time.” she said to me as we walked down the hallway, her high heels echoing.

    We live in the Magturae region, one of the many minor regions without any unique Pokemon that we know of, as Pokemon from almost all of the other regions had been imported and exported to and from them. This means each town has a batch of starters from one of the larger regions. Our town of Euthalia usually gets whatever Pokemon are left over once Argus town, the town closest to us, is done with them. We happened to live between Unova and Kanto, so it’s usually from one of those two that we get our starters.

    We stood at a locked door, and I thought for a moment before answering her question, “I think I have a good idea of which one I want.”

    “That’s good, that’s good.” she nodded, a little distracted by putting the key in the lock, “It’s important to pick the right one or your experience might go a little less than optimal. Ah, we’re in!”

    The room was nothing special appearance wise but it lacked the chemical smell of the other rooms I’d been in and instead smelled rather nice. There were tables, chairs, bookshelves, and computers scattered around with no clear order, and in the center of it all was a round table with three indentations. These were made to hold one thing and one thing only. Pokeballs. Beneath each ball was a screen showing the three starters, Snivy the grass snake, Tepig the fiery piglet, and Oshawatt, a blue otter with a shell on its stomach.

    If Professor Aspen said or did anything, I didn’t notice, I was so absorbed in my thoughts. I had to pick the right one. If only I could see what their personalities were like, so I could make a better decision…

    But I had done enough thinking. I wasn’t getting anywhere. I already knew which one I wanted, all I had to do was take it. It felt like a force was keeping me in place, my indecisiveness grounding me to where I stood. I fought against it, and walked up to the table. I took a deep breath and confidently grabbed Snivy’s Pokeball.

    Professor Aspen smiled, “So, you’ve chosen the Grass starter, Snivy? Brave choice.”

    I was a little taken aback by her choice of words, but shrugged it off. I had done it, I had become a Trainer. I allowed myself to grin, and then broke into nervous laughter. I had just made both the best and dumbest decision of my life.

    A short time later, I had received my Pokedex, five empty Pokeballs, and a Trainer card, which had my ID, other info about me, and could be used like a credit card to make purchases. I stepped outside the lab, and waiting for me was my mother, father, and best friend, all knowing this may well be the last time they see me in person. I wished my brother, George, was there too, but he was at college to be a Pokemon doctor.

    My mother is caring to a fault, and although she is unwilling to let me go, she understands that I need to. I often wondered how she would act on the day I left, and she was surprisingly composed, on the outside at least.

    “So, which one did you pick?” she asked.

    “I chose Snivy,” I stated, unsure of how they would react.

    “Wow, Snivy? No offense, but it’s not the most powerful Pokemon of the Unova trio. Can I see it?” my friend, Charley, asked eagerly.

    I didn’t know how to tell him that it might not be a good idea to have my new Pokemon bond with people that I’ll have to leave soon anyway. I couldn’t even fully accept that I was leaving them myself.

    After a few seconds of awkward silence that felt like ages, my mother spoke up. “Are you ready William? You’re going to want to leave with at least one other Trainer, just like we planned.” She said to me, gently stroking my hair, something she often does when she’s nervous and I’m nearby. I nodded, not trusting myself to speak for fear of crying.

    Charley didn’t have the same amount of self control as I, and began to sob. “I-I’m going to miss you. It’s just… Without you I’ll go back to being hated!” he exclaimed. This outburst was a surprise to me, as he was a very upbeat person usually.

    I had never seen him show so much emotion before, and I felt sorry for him. I really did. In fact, I first became friends with him because he didn’t have anyone else. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I learned most of what I know about Pokemon from him, as he wanted to be a Professor one day, and was obsessed with them. I often joked that he would be a better Trainer than I, but he refused, claiming he wasn’t nearly in enough shape to go traveling on foot everywhere.

    “That’s not true, Charley,” I said, comforting him. “You can make friends, you just have to try. And I’ll still be calling you like crazy. I don’t trust the Pokedex as much as I trust your knowledge.”

    Charley visibly steeled himself, wiping the tears away. “You’re right, I’m being too dramatic.”

    My father hadn’t said a word yet, and I wondered if he was also holding back tears. Then again, he never really said much anyway, he was kind of a “strong but silent” type who only said what he had to. So it surprised me when he pulled me into an embrace, and told me in a hoarse voice, “I know you’ll do us proud. Go get ‘em.”

    A tear trickled down my face as he slowly let go. Mother was the next to hug me as she too began to cry.

    Our goodbyes were interrupted by another group of people, who walked up to us and asked, “Excuse us, but is this Professor Aspen’s place?”

    “Oh dear,” Mother said, wiping her tears, “Yes, this is it. Is one of you going to be a Trainer as well?”

    A thin, brown haired girl in a bright pink dress responded eagerly, “Yes, I’m Emily Kimberly and I’m going to be the new champion! I’ve trained all my life for this. Charley, I hope you’re not thinking of joining, I doubt you’ll make it very far.” She noticed the Pokeball in my hand, and shifted her focus on me, “You might get a little farther, but trust me, I’ll win in the end.”

    What fabricated world is she living in? Are there people who actually think that way? I wish I was that confident. Emily was in my grade, and she wasn’t all that popular mostly because of her personality, though she did have some devoted friends that I was surprised she was willing to leave behind.

    “Well, which Pokemon did you pick?” she asked me.

    “Snivy,” I tried to sound as confident as she was, “I was just about to head north toward Route A. What about you?”

    “I’m going to Route C first, maybe we’ll cross paths sometime. No offense, but I don’t want to travel with anyone, and I don’t think we could be rivals, either. Anyway, I’ve got a starter to choose.” With that, she sauntered into the lab with the rest of her family, who never said a word to us the entire time.

    “Charming young lady,” Mother muttered sarcastically.

    “I definitely would be better off traveling alone,” I said to my mother, hoping that she wouldn’t make me go with Emily.

    “Well, let’s wait and see if the third Trainer will make a better travel buddy than Emily,” she agreed.

    Despite the three years of planning that we had, one thing we couldn’t properly prepare for was finding a travel buddy. When someone decides to become a Trainer, they tell the nearest Professor their plans so they can be registered a Pokedex and enough starters are prepared. The only people the wannabe Trainer can tell about their future is their immediate family, who in turn can’t tell anyone else. This makes it very difficult to plan ahead in finding other new Trainers to travel with. It’s a law with a hefty fine, yet I had broken it in telling Charley. My family never hesitated to express their frustrations on this particular rule, as well as many others that were put on Trainers. It is bothersome, rarely followed, and only served to be a frustration for new Trainers. Yet, we could do nothing about it.

    We waited around a few minutes, making small talk, and by the time the third person arrived, Emily had already left, having not said another word to us. Then we saw someone in their middle teens carrying a large backpack approach the building with no one else around him. He had scraggly brown hair and a somewhat wide, muscular frame. At first I thought he might be an intern or something, but then he greeted us warmly.

    “Hi, I’m Alan Dominick, I take it I’m the last one to get here?”

    Charley looked away shyly, which wasn’t an uncommon action for him, and I confirmed to Alan he was indeed the last one.

    “That’s fine, I’ll take whatever Pokemon is left,” he said cheerily.

    “Has anyone came with you to say goodbye?” Mom asked.

    “No, we said all our goodbyes before I left,” Alan responded quickly.

    My dad decided to speak up, “This might be a little much to ask, but are you willing to travel with my son William? He’s a Trainer too and needs someone else to go with him.”

    “Sure can Will! It won’t be a problem at all, since I don’t want to go alone either. I just hope you can keep up.” He smiled at me.

    “I can try,” I chuckled.

    As he went into the lab, Mom handed me my own backpack, full of the essentials, like food, water, a tent, sleeping bag, and clothes. I put my Pokeball inside. All of it combined was a little too heavy for comfort, but I would have to get used to it. I suddenly wished I had exercised more.

    “Can you carry all of that?” Charley laughed.

    “I sure hope so, because we’ve got a long journey ahead of us.” Alan had just exited the building carrying a Pokeball in his hand. “I got Tepig. Which one did you get?”

    “Uh, Snivy” I responded simply, not knowing what else to add.

    “Well that means I have the type advantage,” he teased, “You’re going to have to train twice as hard as me.”

    With that, it was finally time to go. I strapped my backpack on and followed Alan as we walked toward Route A. My family and friend continued to wave and say goodbye as long as I could see and hear them, and I did the same. As they left my line of sight, Charley made a phone gesture and yelled “Call us soon!” Then we turned a corner, and they were gone.

    Even as I was walking away, I couldn’t believe I was doing this. My life had been normal until that point, and now I was going to leave it all behind. I was sure I would fail, maybe even die. But I knew I had to try. So as I left Euthalia, the town I grew up in, with nothing but a backpack, a stranger, and a single Pokemon, I could only hope that whatever was causing my dreams knew what it was doing.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
  3. VRainbow

    VRainbow Member

    Chapter 2

    “So, what are you going to do first? Do you want to head to the nearest gym right away, or train for a little while?” Alan asked, making small talk as we entered Route A.

    Route A was mostly flat field with a few trees. If our town were to ever expand, it would be there. Until then, it is a neglected area full of weeds and tall grass, so much that whatever path there might have been was gone, and we had to rely fully on the GPS on our Pokedexes. The grass waved in the wind, tempting us with its secrets.

    “I want to train, of course. I can’t win battles if I haven’t practiced.” I answered.

    “That’s why you chose this path, right?”

    I nodded. I chose Route A because I figured it would have the most Pokemon. This was a contrast to the often used Route C, the path Emily chose, which was always clean and had few Pokemon.

    “Speaking of training, do you want to have a battle? We haven’t met our Pokemon yet, and there’s no better way to get to know them than with a battle!” Alan said excitedly.

    I only partially agreed with him. I would rather have met and bonded a little with Snivy before battling. However, I didn’t want to seem ungrateful to a new friend, so I agreed to the fight.

    He smiled, “All right, don’t worry, I don’t think Tepig knows any fire moves yet, so it should be pretty balanced. Go, Tepig!” Alan threw the Pokeball and it released the fire red pig. It grunted as soon as it formed, and ran around in circles excitedly.

    My heart beat fast as I gripped my Pokeball. I was a little nervous about meeting my Pokemon for the first time. I could only hope it would like me. I threw the ball and yelled, “Go, Snivy!” It just felt right to say something.

    The green, snakelike Pokemon raised its head high, fanning its leafy tail and standing with its two stubby legs. It glanced at me with its large brown eyes for a second, then focused its attention to Tepig, as if analyzing it.

    Alan made the first move. “Tepig, tackle attack!”

    The pig ran straight for Snivy, lowering its head in preparation for the collision. Snivy spun gracefully away, dodging the attack. Tepig took a moment to stop running, and looked around in confusion when it realized it hadn’t hit anything.

    It was time to retaliate. “Snivy, tackle it back!” Snivy looked directly at me, as though considering if what I said was in fact the best option, and then complied, collapsing itself on top of Tepig, who reacted by tossing Snivy onto the ground, and with another command from Alan, tackled Snivy into surrender, quickly ending the battle.

    “All right! We won!” Alan cheered. His Tepig ran up to him, jumping in celebration. He knelt down and picked it up, causing its springy tail to wag furiously.

    The Pokedex in my pocket beeped, and I pulled it out, wondering why it had made the sound. I opened it and saw my balance on the screen before it went down by a few Pokedollars. Alan’s ‘Dex had apparently done the same, as he checked it as well.

    “Oh yeah, since I won the battle I won a little money from you,” he said, “But I don’t want to take anything, maybe we can battle again and you’ll get it back?”

    There was a big risk to battling, especially when starting off. When we became Trainers, a small amount of money was but into a bank account specifically for battles like these. Whenever a Trainer wins or loses, the money is either taken in or out of the account, which the Trainer can then use for whatever they want. If this account is ever completely emptied, one legally has to either take money from another of their bank accounts and put it into their Trainer balance or give up all their Pokemon and stop being a Trainer. I wasn’t too worried about the loss, as I had saved up quite a bit of money for this purpose, and my parents had agreed to lend some of their money if I’m ever in a tight spot.

    “No, it’s fine, you can keep the money,” I said kindly, “You won fair and square.”

    “All right, if you insist,” Alan didn’t pursue it any further.

    I went over to Snivy, who had pushed itself back onto its feet.

    “Are you okay?” I asked it, crouching down and petting its head. Its skin was smooth, like a leaf. It blinked, looking up at me. Its large eyes telling me all I needed to know. I smiled, “That’s a relief. Don’t worry, we’ll get them next time.”

    “It looks fine to me, maybe a little winded,” Alan observed.

    “Yeah, I know,” I confirmed, standing up and looking down at Snivy, “I don’t think it needs a Pokemon Center or anything yet.”

    “That’s good. So, now that that’s done, let’s keep going! I think that maybe we should keep our Pokemon out for the time being, it’ll be more fun that way.” Alan suggested, lowering Tepig back to the ground where it continued to run around in circles.

    “Yeah, let’s do it!” I said excitedly. The battle, even though I lost, had really gotten my spirits up. I had a Pokemon, and we were going to get stronger together. “Let’s go Pokemon hunting!”

    With that, we began moving forward, scanning the grass for any Pokemon to battle or capture. Snivy was difficult to keep my eye on, barely rustling the grass as it slid through it. Luckily, it stayed near me. Alan wasn’t so lucky.

    “Tepig, we aren’t going that way, get back here!” he called. A patch of grass several yards away rustled and grunted, and Tepig began to run back toward Alan before getting distracted and running sideways. I laughed as Alan had to chase it down.

    “Hey, Tepig found a Pokemon!” Alan exclaimed, “It’s a Zigzagoon!”

    I ran over to Alan and whipped out my Pokedex. Tepig and Zigzagoon were already beginning to tussle playfully, moving around rapidly. I scanned the Zigzagoon with my Pokedex, not to learn more about it, as I already knew a considerable amount, but to register it. After all, my end goal was to see and maybe capture every Pokemon in the world. Alan did the same, but let the Dex read off the description.

    Zigzagoon, the tiny raccoon Pokemon. This Pokemon is curious about everything it sees, and as such often travels in a zig-zag pattern. It uses the spiky hairs on its back to mark its territory.

    Alan pondered for a moment, looking at his Pokedex. “Hmm, I don’t think I want this one. It doesn’t seem to be all that useful. What about you, Will?”

    “No, I don’t think so either. You can go ahead and train on it.” I had few Pokeballs and very little money, and I only wanted Pokemon that I knew I could become close with, at least for the time being.

    “All right, Tepig, do what you do best!” Tepig obeyed, tackling the Zigzagoon. It cried out in pain, caught off guard by the attack. Once it realized what was going down, it braced itself, growling angrily. Tepig was clearly a bit worried now, but continued its attacks on it.

    In the end, the battle was an easy victory for Alan. The Zigzagoon collapsed onto the ground, whimpering in fear. Alan and Tepig celebrated, in much the same way they did after they defeated me and Snivy.

    “You’ve had your fun, but next time, I get to battle the Pokemon,” I teased, “and it won’t take nearly as long as you did.”

    Alan laughed, “Still salty over the loss? Who knows, maybe the next Pokemon we find will be more your speed. Anyway, we have plenty of time before night, so we can stay here as long as we like.”

    So that’s what we did. It took several minutes for each encounter, but we managed to find and defeat several Rattatta, Bunnelby, and a few other things. We were feeling more comfortable with our Pokemon and their abilities, and even learned a few attacks, Ember for Tepig, making that its first fire attack, and Vine Whip for Snivy.

    However, not every Pokemon encounter went so smoothly. A couple of hours had passed, and I was too busy looking down at the grass to notice the Pokemon eyeing me up in a nearby tree.

    The sun was still bright in the sky, and I was starting to sweat from the heat and exertion required to simply trudge through the absurdly tall grass. “I need a break.” I announced, and went under the shade of the tree, leaning against the trunk. Snivy silently followed suit, relaxing at my feet. I looked down at it and felt proud. Proud that I had not only given this little animal an owner, but that I had helped it grow stronger as well. I was confident that we could handle whatever threats this route had to offer, because all things considering, most Pokemon that decided to live here weren’t very strong. But life has a way of proving you wrong one way or another, as was the case when a Tailow swooped down from the tree and attacked.

    Tailow are little black birds that are extremely territorial, and I guess I decided to rest under the wrong tree, because it was assaulted me, crying loudly. I shouted in surprise as it swooped down from a branch and made direct contact. It would have appeared comical, me swinging my arms furiously at the air, hoping for a lucky hit, but I felt the stakes were too high to make room for humor at the time. Its beak was frighteningly sharp, and it used it to puncture holes in my clothes and skin. After hearing my shout, Snivy perked up, and saw the black streak that was Tailow, of which there were now two. It watched as I was assaulted by the small birds.

    “Help me Snivy!” I cried. It used its vine whip to try to smack the birds away from me, and after several failed attempts, a few vines accidentally hitting me, it made contact. The Tailows turned their attention away from me and immediately began attacking Snivy. Snivy was a little better off than me, being able to defend itself with its vines, but Tailow still managed to get several hits off.

    It wasn’t until Alan’s Tepig scared it off with its ember attack that we felt safe again. We decided to sit out in the sun rather than risk going to another tree and have another Tailow after us.

    “Are you all right?” Alan asked me, now that we were out of danger.

    “Yeah, just a few scratches. My bag has a first aid kit with bandages, so it’s no big deal.” While what I said was true, what I didn’t want to admit was that they stung more than I felt an injury of that size should, though maybe I was just unused to pain.

    “You might need to patch up your clothes, though.” Alan pointed out. I looked down at my shirt, which with its creamy yellow color looked a lot like Swiss cheese.

    “What about you, Snivy? Feeling all right?” I asked. It looked a little worse for wear, with a few bruises and a defeated look in its eyes.

    “I think you should return it to its Pokeball, to give it a bit of a break.” Alan suggested.

    I agreed, pulling its Pokeball from my belt and pressing the button. Snivy lowered its head and allowed the red beam to envelop it, causing it to slowly dissolve into the same red energy and return to the confines of the ball. Alan decided to do the same with Tepig, and so we sat alone together.

    “You know, I’m really glad I got Tepig.” Alan said, “Its really energetic and fun to train, and it makes sure it gets what it wants across to you, and won’t stop bothering you until you listen,” he chuckled, “but with your Snivy, I don’t know how you know what its thinking. It just kind of stares into space, if you catch my drift.”

    I nodded, “Snivy doesn’t seem to do much, but its intelligent, and I feel I can usually understand its feelings, at least a little. Tepig is too much of a handful if you ask me.”

    “Different Pokemon for different people, I guess,” Alan looked at his Pokedex, “Well, we have a couple of hours until dark, but I think we should start finding a place to camp for tonight, to give us enough time to figure out how to build the tents.”

    “You don’t know how to build a tent?” I asked incredulously, “It’s not too hard, I can show you.”

    Some time later, we had both of our tents up. We decided to set them up a good distance away from the main path, as we didn’t want to take any risks with other people taking our things. There were plenty of groups out there that would be more than willing to steal our Pokemon. I got mine up first, showing Alan how to do it, but he still struggled when it was his turn. It didn’t help that the tent he had was old and worn, making it a lot harder to set up properly. We lay around for a while as the sun set, then I took out some of the food that was in my pack for dinner.

    “Let’s have supper, then we’ll go to bed, alright?” I asked Alan. I was feeling more comfortable with him now that we had been around each other for a while.

    “Oh, I, uh, forgot to bring any,” he said awkwardly. “That’s OK though, I can hold out until we get to Argus town tomorrow.”

    I laughed good naturedly. “No you’re not. Come over here and I’ll split this sandwich with you.” He obliged without complaint.

    I didn’t want to state the obvious, but I had put the clues together. Alan must not have had the richest of families. Maybe he was becoming a Trainer to support his family. If that’s the case, there were many other jobs that paid much more than this. Whatever the reason, I didn’t want to bring it up with him. He would talk about it when he wanted to.

    I was glad I let him keep the prize money, in any case.

    “Our Pokemon should probably eat, too.” I mentioned, pulling out a bag of Pokemon kibble.

    “Good idea.” Alan said, taking the Pokeball out of its holster on his waist and tossing it. Tepig appeared with a flash of light, and immediately started running toward Alan. He laughed, picking Tepig up and holding it to his face. But then his face fell.

    “Man, I didn’t prepare very well, did I? Can I borrow some of your food, and I’ll be sure to pay you back once we get to Argus town.”

    “Of course. No problem, I have plenty.” I told him, releasing Snivy from its Pokeball. “All right, Snivy, are you ready for dinner?”

    It looked at me as though it didn’t know how to respond. I took a piece of food from the bag and handed it to Snivy. It gently took it out of my hand, smelled it, and swallowed it whole, not bothering to chew. I guess that’s to be expected from a snake.

    “I can’t promise that it tastes good, Mom made it and it was her first time,” I said. I gave one handful of kibble to Snivy, and another to Alan.

    “Hmm, maybe I could taste test it,” Alan said, studying a piece.

    “That stuff is for Pokemon. It’ll probably taste terrible to us no matter how high quality it is,” I warned.

    “Let’s see about that.” Alan smiled and put one in his mouth. As soon as it entered his mouth he spit it back out, couching and retching dramatically. “You were right, holy Arceus that’s bad!”

    I laughed as he continued to spit and rinse his mouth with water from his bottle, gargling it like mouthwash. Tepig found the kibble Alan spit out and ate it. I laughed harder.

    “Eww, come on Tepig, I have a whole handful of food here!” Alan exclaimed, lowering his kibble filled hand to the ground. Tepig ran up to Alan and sloppily ate it, most of the handful pushed to the ground by Tepig’s nose. Tepig didn’t care and ate the rest off the floor.

    “Geez, guy has no manners,” Alan joked, wiping the crumbs off his hands.

    Once we had finished eating the sun had set almost completely, and the moon had appeared, stars slowly appearing one by one after it. I looked back on what had happened today. A big change had been made. I was leaving my old life behind, and a new one was in front of me, looming with an aura I couldn’t yet determine. I heard Hoothoot start their nightly calls. They were louder here than at home. Small things like that served as a reminder that this is real. This is finally happening, and I was excited.

    “Good night Will! We want to wake up early for tomorrow!” Alan said to me as he went into his tent, zipping up the flaps.

    “’Night,” I replied sleepily, receding into my own tent. I hoped I wouldn’t have too much trouble sleeping in a new area. I had been camping around this area before, but this felt different. I tossed and turned in my sleeping bag, thinking about my new Pokemon and all that came with it. After some minutes, I fell asleep to the sound of the nocturnal Pokemon’s cries.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  4. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Hey, welcome to the forums! It's always nice to see a new journeyfic around here; they're some of my favorite stories. I look forward to finding out what William's going to encounter on his journey. Given that he's already having mysterious prophetic dreams, I have to imagine it's not going to be simply your usual swing around the gym system!

    And William's an interesting character. For someone who's been driven by some kind of almost primal need to become a trainer, he seems to approach things in a pretty careful, meticulous way. Not the sort of person you'd expect to throw caution to the wind and devote himself to a dead-end archaic career, but it does seem like he's gone about it his own thoughtful way, working to save up a lot of battle-money for himself, making sure he has the food all set for his pokémon, and so on. Alan seems more like the impetuous type who might just throw himself into pokémon training without thinking it through. It'll be interesting to see how William's temperament serves him on a big messy journey and possibly big-deal mystic quest, if that's what his dreams are hintng at.

    When it comes to preparation, though, I'm pretty surprised that William's parents didn't try to arrange for some sort of traveling companion for him ahead of time, if they're worried about how he'll do on his own. Just kind of hanging around and hoping that somebody suitable comes by doesn't seem like the best strategy if it's potentially a matter of life and death, you know? In any case, Alan seems like a decent foil for William, and I'm sure he could have done worse for traveling companions. I'm looking forward to learning more about him in the future.

    I'm also curious to see what about Magturae makes it so much more dangerous than the pokémon regions we're accustomed to. Thus far it's sounded like William's been most worried about general thieves, who might or might not be part of some sort of larger plot, but it's clear we aren't dealing with some kind of post-apocalyptic hellscape, at least. That's probably something that will become clearer when we reach a larger city, or get a look at what a gym battle's like. You're working with a whole new region here, so don't be afraid to do a bit of world-building!

    For the most part your writing is nice and solid. There are just a couple of things you want to watch out for, one of which is dialogue punctuation. You do this correctly a lot of the time, so I don't know whether you're just missing some stuff in proofreading or what, but keep in mind that when you have a piece of dialogue followed by a speech tag, like "he said" or "she asked," it should end with a comma instead of a period. So here:

    It should be "'I chose Snivy,' I stated, unsure of how they would react." Comma after "Snivy" instead of a period. Same deal here:

    It should be, "'That's not true, Charley,' I said, comforting him."

    Another example is this exchange:

    In the first two paragraphs you punctuate the dialogue wrong, with a period instead of a comma. But then in the last paragraph you do it right! So if this is a punctuation rule you're already familiar with, just keep an eye out for any slips.

    Another thing to watch out for is switching tenses. The story in general is in past tense, but you sometimes slip into present tense for a paragraph or two. Here, for example:

    The first sentence is kind of jumping into William's head and getting his thoughts directly, which is a bit odd because it's not something you usually do. It's in present tense, as is the sentence right after it: to make it consistent with the rest of the story, you'd want it to be "I already knew which one I wanted, all I had to do was take it."

    This one is interesting because the second half of the sentence, after "and," is correctly in past tense, but the first part is in present tense. It should be "my father hadn't said a word."

    And this whole paragraph is more or less in present tense.

    This kind of tense changing didn't happen in the second chapter that I could see, so maybe you've figured it out and fixed the problem, but if not, keep an eye out!

    And, finally, the plural of pokémon names are the same as the singular, so one rattata, several rattata, one bunnelby, several bunnelby, and so on. In the second sentence I think you want either "the pokémon" or "our pokémon," not "their pokémon."

    Anyway, welcome again to the forums, and I look forward to seeing where you take William's story! If you trainer fics, you might enjoy reading TheAlpar's The Child of Thorns, which is based on Platinum, or Chibi Pika's The Legendarian Chronicles, which has lots of Team Rocket shenanigans. Feel free to join our Discord server if you'd like to chat more with other writiers, or if you'd like more feedback, check out the Review Game to help another writer out and put your story up to receive a review.

    Good luck with your writing!
  5. VRainbow

    VRainbow Member

    Thank you for the review! I'm always looking for ways to improve my little hobby.
    The grammatical mistakes are an oversight on my part, and I will edit the chapters to be more up to par, and be more conscious of these mistakes in the future.
    This... is a plot hole. Luckily I think I can provide some additional context and incorporate it into the story much better than I did, but I don't know if I'm allowed to make semi-large edits to the chapter like that. (EDIT: Done!)
    I'm happy to join this community, I'll enjoy both reading and writing here.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2019
  6. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    You can edit your chapters as much as you like! I've completely deleted and rearranged some of my own before. It's no big deal.
  7. VRainbow

    VRainbow Member

    Chapter 3

    I woke up with the early rising sun in my face. I made a mental note to point the tent window away from that direction next time. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and was hit with a jolt of panic. It felt like something was missing. I quickly checked my bag. Everything was still there, including Snivy’s Pokeball. So what was this feeling?

    Then it clicked. I hadn’t had a dream tonight. I had become so accustomed to waking up with the message of a fading memory that it felt strange to not have had one. Now that I was a Trainer, I had a feeling those dreams were gone for good. With that positive thought in mind, I checked the scratches on my upper body. They were nothing but fading scars, so I took the bandages off and changed into a new shirt. I got out of my tent and got some breakfast, being sure to save some for Alan.

    A few minutes later Alan crawled out of his tent, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “What time is it?”

    I checked the time on my Pokedex. “It’s seven o’clock,” I answered.

    “Really? That early? I usually sleep in really late. Thought I’d either miss half the day or you’d get impatient and dump cold water on my face,” he said.

    “I might have, but we don’t have much water right now,” I joked.

    Alan ate his breakfast without much comment and we fed our Pokemon. Tepig was as energetic as ever, and Snivy was still rather indifferent about the whole situation. I expected as much. It would take a little longer to completely win over its trust. We left our Pokemon out of their Pokeballs, as according to Alan it was more fun that way, and it took us a good part of half an hour to get our tents apart.

    “Sleeping in a tent is going to take some getting used to,” I complained, “There’s not much between your back and the ground.”

    “I can’t wait to sleep in an actual bed tonight,” Alan agreed, “How’s your injuries, by the way?”

    “Ah, they’re fine. I took the bandages off this morning. I expect it won’t be the worst injury I’ll get on this journey,” I remarked. Alan neither agreed nor disagreed with me.

    As Pokemon Trainers, we had access to select hotels for heavily discounted prices and sometimes for free. I can only assume that none of them are exactly five-star, as the hotel in our town that is part of the program is bad, to say the least. You would think it was abandoned at first until you walked inside and saw the sleeping doorman. Hopefully because Euthalia is one of the smaller towns that will be the worst they get. We don’t get many visitors from Trainers anyway, as Euthalia has no gyms.

    We continued our journey into Route B, where the plains begin to end and the forest draws closer. I hoped to find some Pokemon there that would make good additions to my team.

    “I’ve hunted here a few times,” Alan remarked, “Ever had Stantler jerky? That stuff’s amazing.”

    “Shh, not in front of our Pokemon!” I exclaimed, only half joking.

    Alan laughed, “What? They aren’t the same species or anything. If we see a Stantler, then I’ll shut up. Though Pignite bacon is pretty good too...” he stared at Tepig menacingly. Tepig wagged its tail and sneezed a small fire plume. “Never mind, it’s too smoky for my taste.”

    I looked around the trees silently, hoping for a bug or flying type to come our way. The sun shone through the gaps in the leaves, making lines of light that left polka dot patterns on the grass. I saw a rustle in a bush and jumped at the opportunity, but it was a false alarm. The wind had gently blown it, fooling me into thinking it was a Pokemon. Then I noticed the wind was beginning to cause everything to sway, making the sunny patterns flow like they were in water.

    “Looks like it might rain today,” Alan commented, looking at what little sky we could see through the trees. “The wind is starting to pick up. Think we’ll be able to make it to Argus before we’re soaked?”

    “Maybe if we hurry,” I said doubtfully, “but I was hoping to catch some Pokemon here.”

    “We can always come back once the rain has stopped,” Alan said.

    “I guess you’re right,” I conceded.

    Just then I heard a cry. It sounded almost like a bird’s, and if I didn’t know better that’s what I would have thought it was. But thanks to Charley and his obsession with everything Pokemon, I identified it almost immediately.

    “That sounds like Snivy!” I exclaimed, “It came from over there!”

    “What do you think happened?” Alan asked. I sensed some worry in his voice.

    “Let’s find out.” I ran over to where the noise originated. I saw Snivy in battle mode, its eyes focused intensely and its vines raised. And on the opposing side was a Nincada. The bug Pokemon jumped at Snivy, using its claws to scratch at it. Snivy swiftly jumped out of the way, retaliating with its vines. Before Snivy’s vines could hit, Nincada’s body shone reflectively and the vines bounced off, not seeming to have done much damage.

    Now that I had assessed the situation, I took action. “Snivy, keep hitting it! It can’t hold out forever!”

    Snivy acknowledged my orders, continuously whipping Nincada with its vines. The Nincada gave up on defending itself and quickly dug up some loose dirt, tossing it at Snivy. Snivy’s attacks slowed, the sand in its eyes making it difficult to see where Nincada was. Nincada took advantage of this by attempting to run.

    “Don’t let it get away!” I cried, pulling a Pokeball out of my bag and chasing after it. Snivy shook its head violently, shaking most of the dirt off, and pursued the fleeing Pokemon. It stopped at the base of a tree and started digging, trying to go where we couldn’t reach it. Snivy pulled it out of the hole with its vines and tackled it, flipping it over. As it struggled to right itself, I threw the Pokeball.

    The ball opened, covering Nincada in a white light and absorbing it. The ball shook as Nincada tried to escape. It wobbled one, two, three times, and then it stopped. I picked up the ball and smiled. “We got it!”

    “All right!” Alan celebrated, jumping and pumping his fist in the air. That might have been a slight over reaction considering it was just a Nincada, but I wasn’t going to complain.

    “Send it out, I want to see it!” he said. I shook my head.

    “It’s weak and afraid right now. Once we get it to a Pokemon center I’ll let it get to know us better.”

    “Well then what are we waiting for? Let’s go! Let’s not get caught in the rain now, after all this.” Alan walked off deeper into the forest, Tepig waddling behind. I looked down at Snivy, who saw me shift my attention to it and stopped cleaning its face to look back at me.

    “You did great, Snivy,” I thanked it. It stared at me, its eyes as intelligent as ever. I couldn’t tell what it was thinking. Maybe it didn’t care what I thought. Maybe it couldn’t even comprehend what I was saying. But then it squeaked out another cry, so quiet I could barely hear, and I knew the feeling was mutual.

    The sky was beginning to darken with clouds, and we continued our fast pace through the forest. We saw a few more Pokemon, all of which ran away as soon as they saw us. Alan remarked that he wanted to catch a Weedle that he had seen, once we came back after the rain of course. The forest began to thin, and we could see some buildings past the trees. We were approaching Argus town. Standing between us and the town was another Trainer. I could tell from the Pokeball holster she wore around her waist like a belt. She looked a few years older than we were, standing a few inches higher than us. I saw no badges displayed anywhere on her outfit, a simple pair of jeans and a T-shirt, which was a good sign. As soon as she saw us, she confidently walked over.

    “Hey,” she said, her eyes glistening with excitement, “My name’s Alice. Either of you looking for a battle?”

    Alan looked at me, the same excitement shining in his eyes. “Mind if I take this one?”

    “Go ahead,” I waved him on, “but it’ll be my turn next.”

    Alan threw Tepig’s Pokeball without hesitation, “You asked for it Alice, I hope you can handle losing!”

    “Oh, I think otherwise. I just caught this one, but your Pokemon still won’t be able to hold a candle to mine!” With the one-liners over, Alice threw her Pokeball and with a mysterious, ghostly sound came a Litwick.

    The ghost and fire type Pokemon looked rather unimpressive, a candle with a face and a purple flame, but I knew not to judge Pokemon by their appearance. I wondered where she found it, as early on as she must have been on her journey. I pulled out my Pokedex and scanned it, I wanted to read its entry later.

    “Litwick, use Astonish!” Alice cried. Litwick stood still for a moment before quickly launching itself at Tepig, who was too slow to dodge and took the blast full force. Astonish was a unique move in that it attempted to catch the opposing Pokemon off guard. If it is successful, the opposing Pokemon would flinch, rendering it unable to use attacks for a short period of time. Charley loved to use that move in the battle simulations he often played with me, to my frustration.

    Tepig shook itself and charged at Litwick with tackle.

    “No Tepig, use ember! Ember!” Alan seemed exasperated. Tepig continued charging toward the Litwick, but instead of hitting it, Tepig passed right through.

    Alice laughed. “Your Tepig needs some more training if it thinks it can hit a ghost type with normal moves like that. Litwick, smog attack!”

    Litwick’s fire burned brighter and a purple smoke emerged from it, enveloping Tepig in its cloud. Tepig finally decided to listen to Alan’s pleas, flames pouring out of its open mouth. As soon as the fire hit Litwick, it collapsed to the ground, its waxy body appearing to melt like an overused candle. Alice returned it, smiling cruelly as Tepig squealed in pain.

    “Tepig, what’s wrong?” Alan asked worriedly. I looked closely at it. It was wincing, and a dark purple liquid was beginning to pool around its mouth and ears.

    “It’s been poisoned,” I said somberly, “Until you return it, it will take continual damage until it eventually faints.”

    “And the battle’s not over yet,” Alice smirked, “I know this won’t be the best type matchup, but I don’t think it really matters at this point. Go Bulbasaur!” Her second Pokemon emerged from the Pokeball’s light, a small green reptile with a closed plant bulb growing out of its back.

    “Come on Tepig,” Alan encouraged, “This will be easy! Just launch a few embers at it and we’ll win!” Tepig stood, its legs shaky, and threw another fireball at Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur leaped out of the way, but not fast enough to avoid being grazed by the fire.

    “Bulbasaur, hit it with your vine whip!” Bulbasaur’s vines emerged from the base of the bulb, lashing out at Tepig. Tepig didn’t have the strength to avoid the flurry of blows, but instead used another ember attack while Bulbasaur was preoccupied with its own attack. Its bulb burst into flames, and Bulbasaur relented as it began to run around in a blind panic, the bulb on its back beginning to wilt and burn away. Alice quickly returned it, glaring at Alan. Tepig collapsed onto the ground.

    “All right, you win. But you have to admit, that was pretty fun, right?” Alice said eagerly.

    “Yeah, whatever,” Alan said dismissively, running over to Tepig, crouching down to comfort it. Alice shrugged and walked away. Alan carefully examined Tepig. It didn’t have the strength to stand anymore, yet kept trying anyway. “Tepig, you’re gonna be okay, I promise.” Some of the purple liquid was dripping from its mouth, and some was forming around its eyes. It snorted in a weak attempt at positivity before fainting, not moving outside of quick, light breaths.

    “You’d better return it right now,” I advised, “we need to get it to a Pokemon center.”

    Alan obeyed, and when he stood up I saw a faint sign of tears in his eyes. “That was hard for me to do,” he said, “how could I ask Tepig to push itself that far?”

    “I don’t know,” I replied, “I guess that’s what we’re supposed to do as Trainers. When we battle our Pokemon, sometimes we lose.”

    Alan blinked. “Yeah, you’re right. Tepig and I, we learned a lot from that battle. Now we’ll know better next time, and with more training we’ll never get that close to losing again!” The excitement in his voice returned, and I smiled reassuringly. But inside I felt differently. Is this my job now? Are my Pokemon going to have to go through things like that several times a day? I could hardly imagine Snivy or Nincada in the same position as Tepig, or even Litwick and Bulbasaur’s for that matter. Alan seemed to accept it, and once Tepig was healed, it would probably be ready for battle again too.

    But as I heard Alan’s Pokedex beep, indicating his victory was not only personal but monetary as well, I couldn’t help but question whether doing this was right. And whichever way I looked at it, the answer was no.
  8. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Glad you got another chapter up! It's pretty short, but we have both our first capture and first battle here, so it's pretty eventful. There isn't much to say about Nincada, since we haven't really gotten the chance to meet it yet, but the battle's a different story! Definitely a more brutal fight than you usually see at the outset of a journey. What was most interesting to me was William's reaction to it, though; you rarely see trainers bothered by the violence of pokémon battles. It's also very unusual to see a fic with a trainer who floats the idea that the entire idea of training might be wrong! I'm definitely interested to see where that thread goes, and to see a bit more of Magturae and what training looks like there.

    I'm not quite sure why the paragraph about trainer hotels was kind of hanging out by itself between Alan and William's morning routine and the start of training. Maybe it would be better to bring up when they get to a trainer hotel later?

    It's interesting that William keeps thinking of Charley in this chapter. I'd kind of expected him to be a one-off character, much in the same way I'm not expecting we'll see too much of William's parents in the future, but perhaps he'll return? In any case, it does add some nice realism to William's character, where he doesn't immediately forget about home the instant he sets out on his journey.

    I like the hints we get here about where the story's going to head in the future--William's dreams disappearing, of course, but also his reaction to the pokémon battle. I'm curious where you intend to go with that, and how this is going to differ from a typical pokémon journey. Looking forward to the next update!
  9. VRainbow

    VRainbow Member

    Thank you for continuing to review my story @Negrek! I appreciate seeing another person's thoughts on it. If there's any chapter that I'm hoping to have some feedback on, it's Chapter 4. So, without further ado:

    Chapter 4

    We walked into Argus town with little fanfare, too busy looking for a Pokemon Center to sight see. The sky was dark with clouds, and rain was starting to fall. We wanted shelter fast. The town was larger than my hometown of Euthalia, sporting better kept and well used roads and many tall buildings. One could say it’s a town ready to grow into a city. Of course, this could be because it is closer to the region's capital than our town. Each building had a cozy feel to it, making me feel right at home despite my family only ever going there to shop for things that our town’s shops didn’t have. After some wandering and looking at the map on our Pokedexes, we found the Pokemon Center, recognizing it by its signature red roof and doorway with a Pokeball above it.

    Inside the Center was one large yellow and orange room, and opposite the doorway was a counter with Nurse Joy behind it. Her official title is nurse, but she mostly acts as a receptionist. The layout of the room had three sections. The back wall was Nurse Joy’s counter, and a door that read “Employees Only”. The left side had computers connected to corded phones. These allowed Trainers to communicate with people far away, as we’re not allowed to have portable phones of any sort. That was a rule introduced in the same law that raised the age requirement of Trainers. On the right were tables and multicolored cushioned chairs. There were several Trainers there, conversing among themselves. I assumed that it was a waiting area of sorts. The entire room smelled of overpowering perfume, like it was desperately trying to cover up another smell.

    “Welcome to the Pokemon Center!” Nurse Joy said to us once we were at the counter. “We restore your tired Pokemon to full health. Would you like to rest your Pokemon?”

    “Yes, please,” I said, giving her Snivy and Nincada’s Pokeballs. Alan did the same with Tepig. Nurse Joy put them on a tray, which was carried away into the “Employees Only” section by a Chansey. I had never really been in a Pokemon Center before, having only heard of its functionality, so I watched with fascination.

    “This will take a moment as our doctors heal them up,” Nurse Joy said cheerfully, “Feel free to use the phones, computers, or just chat with other Trainers in the meantime!”

    “Thanks!” Alan said as we stepped away from the counter.

    I glanced at the rain through the glass doors. “I think I’ll call my family while we wait for our Pokemon,” I said.

    “Okay. I’ll just go hang out with the Trainers over there,” Alan pointed his thumb at the table, “Once you’re done feel free to join if you still need to kill time.”

    With that I went over to the nearest computer that wasn’t being used and entered my Trainer ID into it.

    “Welcome William Callahan,” the computer screen read, “what would you like to do today?”

    Under that dialogue was a list of choices, including “Browse the Internet,” “Manage Pokemon in PC,” and “Use calling service”. I chose the third option.

    I entered my family’s home phone number and held the receiver to my ear, waiting for someone to pick up. As I expected, my mother was the only one home at the time, and she answered the call.

    “William! Hi! You made it to Argus!” Mom exclaimed, “Why didn’t you call my cell, then we could use the face chat?”

    “Yep. It was an exciting trip, but I made it. And you never have your cell phone on,” I replied.

    “I have it on all the time now that you’re gone,” Mom clarified, “So, tell me everything that happened!”

    I knew I was a terrible liar, and I didn’t want to lie to her anyway. So I told her about the whole trip, downplaying, but not completely leaving out, the parts I thought would make her uncomfortable or afraid. The Tailow attack resulted in a simple scratch, and I glazed over the Pokemon battles, only saying who won or lost.

    “Wow! Sounds like you had a lot of fun!” Mom said enthusiastically. Almost too enthusiastically. I felt kind of bad, thinking of her trying to support me despite not agreeing with my choices.

    “Yeah, and it’ll only get more exciting from here,” I said. There was silence for a few seconds, and I decided I had said enough. “Well, I still need to call Charley, so I guess it’s goodbye.”

    “Okay honey. Stay safe! Bye!”

    “Bye.” I hung up. Moments later I had dialed Charley’s cell number, and since it was Saturday, he picked up immediately.

    “Will!” he gasped, his face red with excitement, “Tell me everything! What Pokemon did you see? Did you have any epic battles?”

    I laughed, “Calm down a little! I’ll tell you everything, don’t worry.”

    So I once again recalled all that had happened, giving a little more emphasis on the battles and Pokemon this time since that was what he was most interested in.

    “Whoa! A Litwick? Those are, like, really dangerous if you don’t watch out!”

    “Really? Why?” I asked, knowing this simple question would cause him to go on a nerdy rant.

    “Didn’t you read your Pokedex? They hang out in forests near haunted houses and pretend to be guiding you to a safe place, but they really are slowly sucking the soul out of your body to fuel its flames!”

    “Creepy,” I commented, “are you sure it’s not just a legend?”

    “Oh no, they tested it on other Pokemon, and there was definitely...” he went on for several minutes, describing the behavior of Litwick and the forms it could evolve into, namely a lamp that feeds off spirits of the dead and a chandelier that causes the spirit to leave the body. I found it mildly horrifying, but Charley was fascinated.

    When I stood up from the computer, having finished my calls, I felt much better than before. It felt good to talk to them again, reminding me that my life hadn’t completely changed, and that everyone was still there for me. Unlike Alan, who wasn’t at the table that he said he would be. In fact, he didn’t seem to be anywhere in the Pokemon Center. I checked the time on my Pokedex. It was about noon. Had I really been talking that long? An alert on the Pokedex told me that my Pokemon had finished recovering fifteen minutes ago. I took them back from Nurse Joy and decided to ask one of the other Trainers if they knew where Alan had gone.

    “Excuse me,” I said timidly, addressing the Trainers that were laughing at some inside joke. They were a strange bunch, at least in their taste in fashion. “I think my friend Alan was with you guys before. Do you know where he went?”

    One of the dudes with bright yellow spiked hair and as little clothes as the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” motto would allow spoke up. “You mean the newbie? Yeah, he said he was going to get some lunch. Surprised he hasn’t come back yet, the food court’s right around the corner.”

    “He probably thinks you’ll try to take his food,” one of the girls piped in. I felt I needed sunglasses just to look at her, as she wore neon everything. She even dyed her hair neon blue.

    The guy laughed, “I never do that. Well, sometimes. Probably just can’t find the place. It’s not like he asked for directions or anything.”

    I thanked them and walked out of the Center. The rain had mostly stopped, though there was a light sprinkle and clouds that threatened a heavier torrent. I looked at my Pokedex GPS for the nearest restaurant or grocery store. If the other Trainers were right, he might not have known about the nearby court and went to a restaurant or store somewhere else in town. I would just have to check them all. I would check the food court first, since it was apparently the closest. As I wandered, I examined the places and people I was passing by. The architecture felt warm and inviting, and the people even more so. Many greeted me with smiles and warm hellos as I walked past. They weren’t singling me out, as they did it with each person they came across, but regardless I started to feel a little shy from all the attention I was getting.

    I was so worried about responding to the people that were passing me by that I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going and wound up hopelessly lost. There weren’t any people down the alley I found myself in, so I decided to retrace my steps back to the path my Pokedex was trying to lead me. As I was about to turn the corner, I ran into a man with a dark blue jacket and sturdy frame, nearly slipping and falling over on the wet road.

    “Oh, sorry! I didn’t see you there,” the man said, using a different tone of voice than most other people that had spoke to me on the streets. The difference felt almost uncanny. I brushed off the feeling of unease.

    “Uh, no problem,” I said. I glanced at my Pokedex. “Hey, can you tell me how to get to the food court?”

    I saw his face perk up when he saw the Pokedex. “Ah, so you’re a Trainer? I am too! Want to have a battle?”

    Looking around, I said, “Here? Around all these buildings?”

    “We won’t destroy anything. Not unless your Pokemon are especially destructive,” he laughed, “come on, I haven’t had a good battle in a long time!”

    “All right,” I conceded. I took out Nincada’s Pokeball. This would be a good chance to see its battle prowess. “Nincada, go!” The mole bug appeared, chittering and looking around confusedly. It felt the ground beneath it and attempted to dig, but the hard stone road stopped any attempt at fleeing.

    The man eyed Nincada and smirked. “This will be too easy.” He threw a Pokeball and a Charizard emerged. The creature’s dragonlike figure was only about as tall as I was, yet it loomed over me threateningly. I pulled out the Pokeball, intending to return Nincada and surrender to the man, but it was too late.

    “Charizard, Flamethrower!”

    The lizard’s mouth opened wide, and a torrent of flame enveloped Nincada, the air warping and the wet road drying from the incredible heat.

    “No!” I cried in desperation. I stepped back, feeling as though my skin was boiling just by standing near it. Several agonizing seconds passed by before Charizard’s attack finally ended. The road and the nearby building walls were charred black, the heat still permeating the air. I searched desperately for Nincada, my heart nearly pounding out of my chest. There was no way… was there?

    I found it, burned as black as the road it was on. I didn’t check to see if it was moving, just returned it and ran as quickly as I could back to the Pokemon Center.

    Or at least I tried to.

    “Where do you think you’re going?” the man grabbed my arm. I pulled against his grip, caught off guard.

    “Let me go!” I screamed, using my other arm to try to pry my arm out of his hand. He grabbed that arm too, and threw me, my head hitting a wall. I held desperately onto consciousness, feeling it slipping away. I stayed on the ground, not daring to stand back up as he loomed over me.

    “Hand over your Pokemon,” he snarled, “Now!”

    The lingering heat was causing me to sweat, panic leaving me gasping for air. I struggled to obey his command, shakily reaching for my Pokeballs. My hand brushed over my Pokedex, and I had an idea. I slid the Pokedex behind my back and as I pretended to slowly take my Pokeballs out of their holster, my other hand pressed the emergency button on the Pokedex.

    This was the only communication feature allowed on the Pokedex, that broadcasted your signal to the police so they could help you if you were in trouble. There was a fee for using it, but I didn’t care, this was truly an emergency.

    “Well, come on!” the man demanded.

    “No,” I said shakily.

    Apparently what I said was funny, because he burst out into hysterical laughter. “No?” he said, “Then I’ll just rip them from your cold, dead hands!”

    I needed to keep him talking. I had no idea how long it would take for the police to get here. “Why do you want my weak Pokemon anyway?”

    He sneered at me, “Oh, I don’t want them. I just want them away from you.” He ripped off his jacket, the buttons flying off. Underneath was a plain black shirt with a large, white R in the center. I recognized the symbol immediately from a school lesson. It was the Team Rocket logo.

    “You see, in Giovanni’s original vision, Pokemon are nothing but tools. A means to an end.”

    “No they’re not!” I spurted, still buying time. “They’re animals! You need to care for them!”

    His face lost its exaggerated sneer and took on an expression of righteous anger. He crouched down, his face uncomfortably close to mine. I could see in detail his dark brown, rage filled eyes. “You hypocrite. Don’t you dare try to talk to me about loving Pokemon. ‘You need to care for them!’ Ha! Is this how you do it? Pitting them in battles where the winner is the one who can last the longest? Forcing what would otherwise be a calm, fearful creature to become a killing machine? It would almost be better if you treated them as objects rather than the pet monsters you view them as now.”

    “Freeze!” A voice shouted. I looked past the Rocket member and saw several police officers, pointing their guns at him. Their leader, Officer Jenny, had a Mightyena by her side and was the one speaking to the criminal. “Step away from the boy!”

    The man complied, moving to the other side of the alley, where he raised his hands in surrender. Yet, he didn’t seem defeated.

    “I see. You managed to call the police. Well you’ll never take me alive!” he yelled at the officer, “Once our vision becomes a reality, all of you will regret what you’ve done! Your corrupt government, your stupid, barbaric enslavement of innocent animals, all of it will die! Carson is trying to kill off Trainers, making laws more restrictive and dangerous for them. You want to know why? They see Trainers as a threat. They want all the Pokemon for themselves so they can rule the world! Well I won’t stand for it! Pokemon will once more be free!” His voice was steadily rising, and at this point he was screaming at the level of insanity. He moved his hand down into the near invisible breast pocket of his uniform.

    “Freeze!” Officer Jenny yelled again, the others aiming their guns at his hand.

    The man took a deep, shaky breath and quietly, calmly said, “May Arceus bless me this day.”

    Then in a flash he took out a pill from the pocket. The police fired and shot his hand, but it was too late. He had tossed the pill into his mouth and swallowed. He looked at the newly formed hole in his hand and laughed. Then he laughed harder. And harder, a disgustingly loud and forced imitation of humor. He collapsed to the floor, shaking with laughter, his breaths becoming more and more shallow and raspy until they stopped altogether.

    The Team Rocket member was dead.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  10. VRainbow

    VRainbow Member

    Chapter 5

    “Is that all that happened?” Officer Jenny asked me.

    “Yeah, you guys came after that,” I said.

    I had fallen unconscious for an hour after the assault, and had been interrogated by Jenny and a detective ever since I woke up. They took Nincada to the Pokemon Center, and luckily it would survive, although its injuries were substantial. They had me checked as well, only finding an easily treatable bruise on the back of my head. Afterward I was asked to recount everything I could remember about the encounter. I had no problem doing so, partly because it had happened such a short while ago, but also because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget.

    “There’s a lot here that doesn’t make sense,” the detective said to Officer Jenny, “A lot of contradictions. Despite our efforts, there doesn’t seem to be any information on who the man is. Team Rocket, before it disbanded, got most of its grunts from off the streets. Thugs, petty criminals, people like that could easily be found on record. But this man has gone through the effort of removing all traces of himself, and seemed so dedicated to the organization that he chose death over capture. Not to mention that despite claiming Pokemon are nothing but tools, he sure seemed passionate about having them be ‘freed’.”

    “It’s possible that if Team Rocket has indeed revived, there would be a new leader who would bring a lot of changes, including the team’s mission statement,” the officer theorized. She turned to me, “Thank you for your time. You may go now. Remember to be careful, Trainers are required to wear their badges visibly on the front of their clothing. If someone without visible badges wants to battle, don’t engage them unless you know they are a Trainer who hasn’t yet earned a badge.”

    “Of course, if they were smart they’d have stolen badges off of someone else,” the detective added, “The only surefire way to know they’re a Trainer is if your Pokedex detects that a battle is going on. If you and the opponent are both Trainers then your Pokedex will recognize it as a Trainer battle. If not, watch out!”

    After that, they let me go. They didn’t offer any consolation, they didn’t even call my parents to inform them on what happened. I was just mugged and watched a man die and all they told me was to be more careful next time.

    I left the police station and went back to the Pokemon Center to check on Nincada. I found Alan waiting for me on the outside of the building near the entrance.

    “Will!” he jumped up when he saw me, “Will, what happened? I found out that you were at the police station, but they wouldn’t let me in!”

    I glared at him. I knew it was stupid, but in a way I blamed him for all that had happened. “Why didn’t you tell me where you went?”

    “What?” he paused for a second, “Oh you mean when I went to get lunch? I came back with some for you, but you weren’t there!”

    “Did it ever occur to you that I would wonder where you went? Did you ever consider that I might try to look for you? I was just attacked by Team Rocket because of you!”

    His eyes widened. “Will, I… I didn’t… I should have...”

    Seeing him upset was the last straw for me. Tears started to roll down my face and I turned away from Alan, trying to hide it. “I never wanted to be a Trainer,” I said in a hoarse, quiet voice.

    I sat on a hotel bed, as I had been for an hour. The room had two beds, a small TV and one closet, with not much room for anything else. After my initial outburst, Alan took me to a hotel whose name I didn’t bother to remember, and he attempted to comfort me, but left after I didn’t respond. I didn’t want to talk to him, I didn’t want to talk to anyone.

    It was true. Despite having planned for three years, I never wanted to be a Pokemon Trainer. I loved Pokemon, and wanted to either follow in my brother’s footsteps and become a doctor or a breeder. It’s why I tried to ignore the dreams for so long. I couldn’t see myself battling Pokemon for a living, yet the dreams persisted, making it difficult to even consider anything else. My grades suffered, I deprived myself of sleep in an attempt to make them stop. What was causing them? Why had it chosen me, forcing me to go along with its plan?

    The rain was pouring down, splattering the window with water. I rolled Nincada’s Pokeball around in my hand, staring at it for a minute. When in public buildings, we weren’t allowed to have any Pokemon outside of their Pokeballs with very few exceptions, but right then I didn’t care. I pressed the button, releasing Nincada onto the bed. It looked at me fearfully and tried to dig itself under the blankets. I picked it up with both hands, raising it in front of my face. Its antennae waved, its green eyes hollow and inexpressive. I could see burns all over its body, though they were faded, healing quickly thanks to the Pokemon Center. I hugged it, or as close to a hug as you can get with a large bug, holding it close, feeling its claws lazily attempt to grab hold of my shirt.

    “I’m sorry,” I whispered. All this time I had spent sulking and I hadn’t even considered Nincada. I had just captured it, and the first time I released it from its Pokeball it had been burned to a crisp. I wouldn’t blame it if it didn’t trust me, if it hated me. All I could do was try to care for it, to show that I was worth trusting.

    As soon as I released my grip Nincada scampered around, going under the blankets and staying there. I smiled and returned it. Like Snivy, it would take time.

    I lay around, watching TV until I heard a knock at the door. “Come in,” I said, turning the TV off.

    Alan opened the door and sat on his bed. “Feeling better?” he asked.

    “I guess so,” I said, “I’m sorry for causing so much trouble.”

    “Ah, you didn’t do anything wrong. I’m sure you went through a lot today,” he smiled, “but you still gotta tell me all that happened. When you’re ready, of course.”

    “You’ll probably just keep pestering me about it until I tell you anyway,” I joked.

    I told him all of it. Not just about the attack, but my dreams as well. That makes him one of the few people I had told, with the others being my family and Charley. He took all of it in, only interrupting with questions. I liked being able to tell someone the whole story, because I doubted that I could tell my mother about the attack. She would most likely make me quit. Not that I was against that at the moment.

    Once I finished my story, I waited for his response. A few awkward seconds passed, then he said, “Do you know what I think?”

    “What?” I asked, unsure.

    “I think I’m traveling with a pretty important person.”

    We spent the rest of the day watching television, or rather two second clips of each channel before Alan changed it again. I quickly lost interest and read about Pokemon on my Pokedex.

    “Hey, look!” Alan exclaimed, pointing at the screen, “you’re on TV!”

    I switched my attention back to the television as the broadcaster explained the situation.

    “Earlier today an anonymous Trainer was attacked by an alleged member of Team Rocket,” she said, a serious expression on her face, “Evidence suggests that this criminal, whose name is unknown, may have been lying and rather acted independently, but the public is encouraged to be on the lookout for any signs of Rocket members or interference.”

    “Tell me Clara, what exactly is Team Rocket?” the second broadcaster asked her. His monotone voice gave away that he was simply reading off of a script.

    “Team Rocket was an organization based in the Kanto region, run by the notorious criminal Giovanni, who mysteriously disappeared after his plans to steal the Masterball prototype to capture Mewtwo were foiled. The team later tried to bring their leader back in the Johto region, which resulted in Team Rocket’s second defeat, leading to Giovanni’s subsequent capture and the disbanding of Team Rocket.

    If it is true that Team Rocket has reformed, they are acting outside of Giovanni’s command, as he is still under close watch in prison. Whatever the case, if you own any Pokemon, be careful! You never know who might want to steal them.”

    “Thank you Clara, great advise. Now in other news, our president Damien Carson has teamed up with the president of the Unova region in an attempt to rejuvenate the wasteland of Apollumi. It will be...”

    Alan changed the channel, resuming the casual flipping through channels as he had been doing before.

    “Sounds like they don’t really think he’s from Team Rocket,” I said casually.

    “Do you think he is?” Alan asked.

    I shrugged. “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter to me, either way he tried to take my Pokemon.”

    “The next time we run into someone like that we can beat them to the ground with our Pokemon!” Alan said.

    “He had a Charizard,” I rebutted.

    Alan smirked. “So? I’ll be with you next time. Haven’t you ever heard of the power of friendship?”

    “You watch too many kids movies,” I laughed.

    “But they wouldn’t put it on TV if it wasn’t true, right?” Alan feigned ignorance.

    I sighed. “Hey, it’s getting late, what do you want for dinner?”

    After dinner, which was Seaking fillet delivered to our room from the food court, it was time for bed. I lay in bed, trying to put everything that happened behind me. If I didn’t, I might convince myself to quit. I couldn’t give up being a Trainer, not now. Snivy, Nincada, even Alan depended on me in one way or another. The dreams, the doubts, they didn’t matter. I would keep trying, and whatever happens will happen.

    Yet, as I tried to sleep, I couldn’t help but think about when I had first told Charley about my dreams. He immediately came up with several theories as to Pokemon that could be causing the dreams, from Drowzee, a fairly common dream eating Pokemon, to Darkrai, a mythical nightmare inducer, and everything in between. Then, without thinking, I squeezed my eyes shut, clasped my hands together and prayed.

    I prayed to any and every possible Pokemon, because as dumb as I felt, I wanted answers. I wanted assurance that I wasn’t crazy, that I hadn’t just imagined that I needed to become a Trainer. Because as much as I hated the idea of being used, it at least provided a reason as to why I was here. I asked for any kind of sign, another dream, something to show that whatever it was knew I was there and hadn’t forgotten all it had put me through. I fell asleep hoping beyond a hope that when I woke up it would be to the feeling I knew all to well.
  11. VRainbow

    VRainbow Member

    Here's the next chapter (finally)! I'm glad to see my story has gotten good reception so far, but I don't trust the forum's view count, because over 300 seems way too high! Either way, it's been fun writing this.

    Chapter 6

    “Will, wake up! If we want to get our first gym badge than we need to train all day!” Alan shook me awake. I sat up groggily, filled with disappointment. There were no dreams last night, not even a fading memory of one. I guess I had been forgotten, if there ever was something to forget me in the first place.

    Despite not getting the reassurance I wanted, Alan and I went back into Route B to train for the upcoming gym battle and possibly catch more Pokemon. Argus town’s gym specialized in ground types, which put Alan and his Tepig at a disadvantage. Their gym leader’s name was Ridge. The only thing I knew about him was that he was said to have moved an entire mountain with his Pokemon to save his wife and that he had a secret place dug deep under the town, though there wasn’t any proof of either of these claims.

    Once back in Route B, one of the first things Alan did was catch a Weedle, a rather unimpressive brown caterpillar whose only signature detail was a toxic horn on the front of its head. The capture went very smoothly despite the danger of Tepig being poisoned again. He and Tepig were elated to have a new team member, and helped it win in many subsequent battles against wild Pokemon.

    I spent some time with Nincada, introducing it to Snivy, who wasn’t as receptive as Tepig was with Weedle. Nincada seemed to be afraid of everything, and Snivy didn’t want to take the effort to introduce itself. But I kept them together, using them both in battles against some wild Pokemon. As time went on they began to understand each other more, and I thought I started to see a bond form between the two. There were plenty of Pokemon in the forest to train on, with a variety of bugs and birds. As we trained, we found a cave entrance in a hillside.

    “We’d better stay away from that,” Alan said, “a cave in a forest? There’s no way it doesn’t have some kind of Pokemon living inside it. Wait! Tepig, come back!”

    Tepig noticed the cave and ran over to investigate, Weedle following eagerly behind. I had a feeling that keeping those two together was going to be trouble. Alan ran after them, preparing his Pokeballs to return them, but Tepig had already run into the cave. Alan sighed, holding his palm over his face in embarrassment. Even Weedle had enough intelligence to not follow Tepig in, opting to stay near the entrance.

    Alan returned Weedle and turned to me. “What am I going to do with that pig?” he said, sounding like a worn out parent.

    We reluctantly approached the cave entrance, but before we gathered the courage to enter, our suspicions were confirmed when Tepig ran out of the cave, squealing in fear, closely followed by an Ursaring. The bear was as tall as we were when standing on its hind legs, which it was doing. Its fur was as brown as mud except for its muzzle and a large ring of fur on its stomach, which were a light tan. Backing away from the Ursaring, Alan returned Tepig, the red beam reaching out to Tepig and transforming it to light before absorbing it into the ball. The Ursaring looked around, confused, then noticed us. Its roar shook the trees and it began chasing once again.

    “OK, we’re out of here,” I said, taking off through the trees. Alan caught up to and passed me, weaving through the trees with ease. I gasped for breath, not daring to slow down.

    Eventually I ran out of stamina and stopped to take a breath. I looked behind me fearfully, but the Ursaring was nowhere to be seen. Alan jogged back to where I was.

    “Looks like we lost it,” he said.

    I nodded in agreement, too winded to speak.

    “I really do need to train Tepig better,” he said, more to himself than to me, “but how do I do that?”

    I had a few suggestions, but decided to share them later. Right then, I just wanted to get out of the forest. I might have just been seeing things, and its not like I had much time to look closely, but I thought I had seen something else inside of the cave. A light, not the yellow light of a fire, but white. Could it have come from a man-made light? Were there people in there? Perhaps they owned the Urasring. I didn’t want to think about it too much, as it wasn’t of much importance to me, but it might be worth bringing up with Alan sometime.

    “Snivy, use wrap!” I ordered. Snivy wrapped its vines around the opposing Sentret, the final blow needed to take it down. The Sentret fell to the ground, too tired to move any more.

    “Aw man, I can’t believe I lost!” the boy exclaimed, returning his Pokemon, “how could I lose to someone with only two Pokemon?”

    I shrugged, “Quality over quantity. If you train your Pokemon well you don’t need to fill your team right away.”

    “Right,” he said, doubtful, “Well, I’m off. Good game!”

    “Good game,” I called after him.

    Alan came up behind me. “It looks like you finally won a battle.”

    “All that training pays off,” I smiled. Snivy and Nincada made an excellent team now, with Snivy taking the brunt of most attacks and Nincada providing support. This was all well and good for double battles, but the gym was single battles only. I hoped Nincada could battle just as well on its own.

    “High five!” Alan held out a hand to Snivy, who took a few steps back and raised its vines in warning. “Or maybe not.”

    Alan was still excited that is Weedle had evolved, and hoped he could test it in a Trainer battle. Despite this he had let me take on the Trainer, claiming it was “my turn”, which for the record it was. When Weedle evolved into a Kakuna, I didn’t know what was happening at first. A brown substance oozed out of Weedle’s mouth and completely enveloped it. It hardened into a shell, which slowly formed around its body, taking the shape of a brown chrysalis with bug eyes. It was fascinating to watch, though it made me feel a little uncomfortable as well.

    We had spent half of the day training, and after lunch we were ready to take on the gym. We followed the road back into the town, the sun shining brightly above us. Our first stop was the Pokemon Center, to make sure our Pokemon were in top shape to battle the gym. We traversed through the busy streets, each passerby as friendly as the next.

    “Hello, it’s nice to meet you,” a thin, dark haired man grinned as he walked past. I would have been satisfied to simply return the greeting, but Alan tried to strike up a conversation with the man.

    “Hi, I’m Alan. I’m a Pokemon Trainer. What’s your name?” Alan asked. I groaned, preparing to have to stand around while the two talked with each other. To my surprise, the man smiled awkwardly and left without saying another word.

    Alan turned to me, as confused as I was. “Huh. He must have had somewhere to go.”

    He tried several other times, each with a similar response. Despite their initial friendliness, once they realized he was trying to converse with them, they shunned him and quickly left. What was the purpose of their act of friendliness? Was it simply a custom to greet everyone they passed on the street? It was possible, but I didn’t remember them acting that way the last time I had visited with my family. Perhaps I simply hadn’t noticed then? Whatever the reason, we healed up our Pokemon and headed to the food court. The outside of the court was a single floored cement brick building with several doors on the sides, and one main sliding door in front. There was a sign that read “Argus Food Court”, and below it: “Pokemon welcome!”

    “Isn’t this place neat!” Alan exclaimed. Inside the building was a large, open area full of tables, chairs, and trash cans. There were all sorts of people with various dishes, and many Pokemon as well, eating alongside their Trainers. A few didn’t seem to even have a Trainer, yet were still being fed. All around the perimeter were various food vendors for both people and Pokemon. They advertised their wares, offering “the best fish in Lake Vitality” and “the highest quality cuts from the Bouffalant farms in Purplewing”. There was even some vendors that sold food from faraway regions.

    “I wonder what we should get,” I said, overwhelmed by the amount of choices. To my surprise, Alan had already gone over to one of the vendors. I decided to follow behind and order whatever he did, for the sake of simplicity. He asked for a hamburger and some fries, and so I ordered the same.

    “There are so many choices here, why did you pick a burger?” I wondered.

    “I’ve never had a hamburger before, that’s why,” Alan responded.

    “Really? Why not?” I asked. I immediately regretted saying anything, hoping I hadn’t crossed a line.

    Alan shrugged but didn’t respond. We went to another vendor to buy some food for our Pokemon and sat at one of the empty tables. There we released our Pokemon and started to eat. Our Pokemon dug right into their food, hungry from the day of battling. The only exception was Kakuna, who simply sat, unmoving, not taking any interest in the meal. According to the Pokedex, that is to be expected, as it is in a waiting stage until it evolves once again into a Beedrill, a large bee with two added stingers for front feet. Alan and I made light conversation as we ate.

    “So, what’s your plan for the gym?” I asked Alan.

    He looked down at his Pokemon, thinking. “It’s going to be tough. Tepig isn’t exactly the best against ground Pokemon, and Kakuna needs a little more time before it can evolve again and become really strong. You’re lucky, your Snivy will probably sweep the floor with its opponents.”

    “I hope so. At the point it’s at, I don’t think Nincada could do much on its own.”

    “You’ll never know unless you try.” Alan responded, stuffing his face with hamburger.

    With that in mind, we finished eating and headed back out into the streets. It was finally time to do what we had came there for. According to our Pokedexes, the gym was on the other side of town, which seemed inconvenient considering the Pokemon Center was on this side. The town didn’t have a whole lot to look at as we traveled. Every building was more or less the same. Same building materials, same paint, same roofs, the most variety was in the heights of the structures. Some had signs advertising that they were a shop or other corporate building, but they still didn’t try to stand out. The gym seemed to be the only exception. It was oval shaped and its roof a dome. It looked to be made of dried mud bricks, the brown contrasting with the white of every other building. It was about as wide as the food court, but twice the height. The door was made of poorly cut wood. There was a sign in front that read: “Built by Ridge and his Pokemon”.

    “The guy sure likes to show off,” I remarked to Alan.

    “I would too if I had a team that could build like this,” he responded, “All Tepig could do is burn stuff down.”

    I shifted my weight nervously, “So let me get this straight: we just go in there and beat the gym leader, then we’ll get a badge. No problem.”

    “I’ll go first if you’re scared,” Alan teased.

    “No, I think I should go first. As you said before, I probably stand a better chance. Then you can see how he battles and make a better strategy.”

    “Sounds like a plan to me!” Alan said eagerly, “let’s go in and start the battles!”

    The inside of the gym made me feel like I was inside a mountain, as the floor, walls, and ceiling were just dirt. The only light was provided by a bright halogen at the highest point in the ceiling that flooded the entire place in white light. The entire building surrounded a battlefield painted on the dirt. Leaning back in a dirt chair on the sidelines was a burly man as covered in dirt as one would expect from staying in this place too long. When he saw us enter, he stood up, brushing himself off, not that it did much.

    “So, I see I have two new challengers. Welcome to my gym!” he spread his arms wide and looked around, puffing out his chest, “I built it myself eight years ago!”

    “Yeah, it says that on the sign,” I said, somewhat exasperated.

    “Oh yeah, I guess it does,” he deflated at my comment. It looks like I was right about his ego.

    “So, should we start the battle?” I asked, feeling more confident now that I knew who I was up against.

    Ridge looked us over and said, “No badges huh? Y’all are the third bunch of newcomers I’ve gotten this week. I was hoping for someone a little stronger so I could use my good team. The easiest one only has two Pokemon. Oh well, that’s what I get for building my gym so far away from the Elite Four”

    Gym leaders have eight different teams apiece, with each team being for Trainers with different numbers of badges. Their weakest team is for those with no badges, and their strongest is for someone with seven. That way no matter where you start off in the region the battles will be balanced. Once all eight gyms are defeated, a Trainer can battle the Elite Four, a strong group of champions. If you beat them you can contend to be a Champion, which requires beating the Champion of the nearest major region and replacing them. In Magturae our contenders go to Unova. This is the end goal for most Trainers, though obviously very few reach it, let alone hold the title for very long.

    “All right, which one of you is first?” Ridge asked, “I don’t have all day you know. Got important work to do. It’ll take some time between battles since I’ll have to heal my team.”

    I didn’t want to waste all that precious time he seemed to have been using to sit around, so I stepped forward, taking out a Pokeball. “I am.”

    “You, eh?” he smiled, “and what’s your name?”

    “William Callahan,” I told him formally.

    “William? Ah, that name’s too good for ya. You look more like a Tom to me.” I didn’t know what that even meant, let alone how to respond. Luckily I didn’t have to.

    “Well, here goes!” He threw a Pokeball and out came a Mudbray. The brown donkey Pokemon had mud covering all four of its hooves, leaving a trail wherever it stepped. It reared up, braying and throwing mud everywhere.

    I paused for a moment, thinking about which of my Pokemon would be the right choice. If I remembered correctly, Mudbray was a pure ground type, which would make Snivy effective against it. I didn’t know the second Pokemon would be, and it might be better to play it safe…

    “Can’t decide? Giving up already after seeing the power of my Pokemon?” Ridge gloated.

    I grimaced and threw a Pokeball, out of which popped Nincada. It emerged with an insect cry. I didn’t hesitate to give it an order. “Nincada, harden!”

    Its exoskeleton shone reflectively as it obeyed me, just in time to get kicked up in the air by Mudbray. Nincada landed with a bounce, looking uninjured.

    “Mudbray, mud slap!” Ridge called. The Mudbray flung some of the seemingly infinite mud supply from its hooves at Nincada, hitting it right in the face. It looked like Ridge was trying to overwhelm Nincada with attacks. As I thought of a way to counter it, I told Nincada to use Sand Attack. Maybe if it could lower Mudbray’s accuracy a bit we could stand a chance.

    Nincada used its claws to dig dirt from the battlefield onto Mudbray. It didn’t even react to the dirt flying in its face and charged Nincada. Before they could collide again, Nincada had dug itself underground. Mudbray stopped, its horizontal pupils looking around for its opponent. Just a second later Nincada emerged behind Mudbray and jumped on top of it, scratching at it furiously. Mudbray bucked Nincada off and stomped the ground so hard it shook. Nincada cowered as it was hit by the shockwave.

    “Use Absorb!” I commanded, just as Ridge had told Mudbray to use Mud Slap. A sparkling, green aura traveled from Nincada to Mudbray, and once it hit it returned to the sender, sapping strength from Mudbray and giving it to Nincada. Mudbray’s attacks were slowing, as Nincada easily dodged the attack sent at it. If we used a couple more attacks we would beat it.

    “Yeah!” I encouraged, “keep it up Nincada!” It used another absorb, and this time Mudbray couldn’t counter. It fell to the floor, sapped of all its strength. Nincada hopped up and down in either celebration or a show of dominance, with such an expressionless face it was hard to tell. I could hear Alan cheering behind me.

    Ridge returned Mudbray, and I returned Nincada. “Not bad,” Ridge conceded, “But I’ve still got one left!” He threw his second Pokeball and a Rhyhorn emerged. The best way I can think to describe it is “tank”. It was covered in rocky plates, had four short, stubby legs, and a horn right on the center of its face. Combine that with the fact that it came up to my waist and you have a Pokemon that could charge through anything. I was glad I decided to switch out my Pokemon.

    I sent out Snivy, who upon seeing Rhyhorn looked at me incredulously, as if to say “you expect me to beat that?” This was the toughest opponent Snivy had been up against, but I was confident we could win.

    “Rhyhorn, headbutt!” Ridge called. Rhyhorn pawed the ground and charged toward Snivy. Snivy nimbly jumped out of the way, and I had to leap out of its path as it continued to run until hitting a wall. Rhyhorn may be powerful, but it wasn’t very fast or smart. I knew if we wanted to stay in the game Snivy would need to be agile. Rhyhorn was dazed from its collision, and as it gathered its bearings Snivy whipped it with its vines. This only enraged Rhyhorn and it charged again. This time Snivy knew what to expect and easily moved out of the way. Rhyhorn skidded to a halt, puffing angrily.

    Ridge thought for a moment, then ordered a sand attack. Rhyhorn threw sand all over the field, making it harder for Snivy to see. This could be a problem. Rhyhorn would be able to easily see in the dust cloud, and without the advantage of knowing where Rhyhorn was, Snivy was in trouble. If Snivy could tangle it in vines its movements would be hindered, and once the dust settled we would be at an even playing field once again.

    “Snivy, behind you!” I cried, too late for Snivy to react. The charging Rhyhorn hit Snivy head on, causing it to fly forward and roll a few feet. Snivy shakily pulled itself back on its feet, looking to me for direction. Rhyhorn had vanished once again into the settling cloud of dust. I squinted, looking around, and saw it.

    “There!” I pointed. Snivy didn’t hesitate to fling its whips into the cloud. I heard a loud smack and a bellow of rage. I knew it would charge Snivy again, and that’s just what I wanted.

    “Wait for it...” I watched as Rhyhorn once again lumbered toward Snivy. It grunted and panted angrily, getting closer and closer. “Now! Use Wrap!”

    Snivy’s vines wrapped around Rhyhorn’s body and Snivy jumped just before impact, landing on top of it. The vines slowly began to tighten around Rhyhorn, with Snivy safely out of range of the deadly horn. The dust cloud had settled completely, everything becoming visible again. I could see Ridge gritting his teeth, struggling to come up with a countermove.

    “Come on, shake it off of ya!” Ridge said, desperation in his voice. Rhyhorn stomped the ground, rearing its head as high as it could go and bucked as well as it could with such short legs. Snivy’s expression was strained, not from struggling to hold on, but from tightening its vines, squeezing Rhyhorn’s midsection tighter and tighter. I heard a crack and a whimper from Rhyhorn as one of its armor plates broke from the pressure. I smiled. The battle couldn’t go on much longer like this.

    “All right! You win,” Ridge said, defeated, “just please make it let go of Rhyhorn.”

    “Snivy, release it,” I said calmly. The vines unwound from Rhyhorn, who had collapsed to the ground, moaning in pain. Snivy walked over to me and stood by my side, head raised high. Ridge returned Rhyhorn and came over to me, head lowered respectfully.

    “Here you go, the Mountain badge,” he handed me a badge shaped like its namesake, “you deserve it.”

    “Thank you,” I took it, holding back my excitement. My Pokemon and I, we had done it. This was proof of how far we’d come, and how much farther we had to go.

    “All right, it’s my turn next!” Alan said, “and I know just how to win!”

    “Don’t worry kid, you’ll get yer turn once these Pokemon have had some time to recover,” Ridge grinned, “come back in an hour or so and see we’ll how you stand against your friend here.” With that he walked out the wooden door, leaving us to our own devices.

    “Did you see that?” I asked, unable to contain my excitement any longer, “I completely dominated that battle!”

    “Heck yeah you did,” Alan replied, “I knew that Rhyhorn didn’t stand a chance.”

    “That’s right, you did great Snivy,” I said. Snivy looked up at me with an unreadable expression. I released Nincada from its Pokeball, “You were awesome too Nincada.”

    Nincada seemed to ignore me, scampering around Snivy as though reuniting with an old friend. Alan shook his head, smiling. “What a strange team you have.”

    “That’s why I love them,” I replied.

    Then I heard something. Well, not heard, exactly, but felt. It felt like something was calling me with a voice I couldn’t quite discern. Instinctively I started to follow it.

    “Hey, wait, aren’t you going to watch my battle?” Alan asked.

    “Uh, yeah,” I said, distracted, “I’ll be back in a second. I just need to...” I trailed off, walking out the door in a daze. I was vaguely aware of Snivy and Nincada following behind me, vaguely aware of the people passing me by. I needed to find it. I needed answers. I knew this feeling. I knew that if I could find the source, I would meet the thing that had caused me so many sleepless nights and had changed my life forever.

    Whatever had caused my dreams was calling me.
  12. VRainbow

    VRainbow Member

    Chapter 7

    The more I followed it, the less aware I was of my surroundings. How long had I been walking? Was I still in Argus, or was I miles away in a desert or jungle? Were my Pokemon still with me? I couldn’t have answered. I was no longer in control of my movements, I couldn’t have stopped if I wanted to. And just as I started to collapse from exhaustion, I started floating.

    I was in empty space, nothing to look at but stars in the distance. I felt small. So very, very small. I was nothing in this galaxy, it didn’t care for me or even recognize my existence. I suddenly felt as though everything was pointless. Who cared if I just won a gym badge? Who cared if I became Champion? Who cared if I died? In the grand scale of things, nothing anyone could do mattered. It was cold and dark, the natural state of the universe. I felt something round in my hand. Could it be a Pokeball? I opened my fist and stared in horror. It was Earth. I was holding the planet in my hands. Could this be a vision, telling me the fate of the world was in my…

    No! I wanted to throw the planet away, I didn’t want the responsibility of saving the world! Yet I held on to it still, too afraid of what might happen if I didn’t. All of those questions that every reluctant hero has passed through my mind. Why me? What made me special? But those thoughts were quickly replaced with anger. Something was using me. I didn’t ask for this, I never wanted this. Whatever was doing all of this was ruining my life!

    A bright yellow light shone from every direction. It should have blinded me, yet it didn’t hurt my eyes at all. It couldn’t have been the sun, this was brighter and much more powerful. I saw a shadow of three figures swimming as though the light was a liquid. All I could make out was that each of them had two tails and a refraction of red shining from their heads before the light enveloped me completely and I stood in an empty expanse of white.

    There was something else there in the distance, its breaths heavy and pained. I knew it was a Pokemon, but it had been so mangled and deformed that no one would have been able to tell what it was. It looked at me pitifully, moaning in pain. I started running over to it, it needed help, it was dying! But what could I do? I didn’t have any equipment, and I wasn’t a doctor. I dismissed my doubts and ran anyway. I might not be able to do anything, but I had to try. I had to do all that I could for it, even if it was just comforting it in its final moments. I felt myself fading the closer I got to it until all went to black. A thought that wasn’t my own passed through me, the warmth of a smile.

    I awoke underneath a canopy of trees. Was “awoke” the right word? I never felt as though I fell asleep, did I reappear here? Snivy was shaking my arm, looking at me worriedly. Nincada was on its back sleeping next to me. I sat up and held Snivy in my lap, comforting it. It returned the gesture by nuzzling close to me, making soft cries. I was in some kind of forest, that was made obvious by the trees and foliage. I pulled out my Pokedex and looked at the GPS, still petting Snivy’s arched back with my other hand. Apparently my dazed walk took me outside the boundaries of Route B and into open forest. It would take half an hour to even enter the vicinity of the town. I gently set Snivy beside me, stood up and brushed myself off. There was no time to waste, I had to get back. I returned Nincada to its Pokeball, and was about to do the same with Snivy, but it avoided the Pokeball’s beam.

    “Come on,” I said, “you don’t want to walk with me the whole way, do you?”

    Snivy slid through the grass, stood beside me, and grunted, head raised high, as though what I suggested was exactly what it was going to do.

    I sighed. “All right, but we’re avoiding any Pokemon along the way. I’m trying to get back as fast as possible.”

    Snivy nodded and began to run through the forest, its body moving as though it was slithering rather than using its legs.

    “Hey, wait up!” I called, struggling to catch up. Snivy stood and turned to watch me until I approached, then followed behind me closely for the rest of the trip.

    What could have caused this change in Snivy’s behavior? It wasn’t that long ago that it didn’t want much to do with me, yet now it didn’t seem to want to leave me alone in the forest. I wished I could ask it what had happened and what I had done. Maybe it was scared after seeing me so out of it, or perhaps something dangerous happened that I wasn’t aware enough to handle. I might never find out. My thoughts drifted to Alan. I had told him I would watch his Gym battle, but it was surely over by now. He was probably wondering where I was, but hopefully he wasn’t too worried.

    The walk back was uneventful, but Snivy remained alert the whole time, constantly looking around for danger. After some time had passed, we came across the path we were looking for. This wasn’t the dirt trail that we had followed to get here, this was paved with white stones and wide enough to handle many people on it at once. A man who was driving a carriage led by Rapidash noticed me, paused, and looked at me strangely before continuing. I looked down at my clothes, which were dirty and tattered. They would need to be cleaned once I got back to the motel, that was for sure. I had made it to Route C, the main Route that connected Euthalia to Argus. If I ever needed to go back to Euthalia, this would be the quickest way.

    I went onto the path and came back to Argus, Snivy guarding me all the way. When we arrived, it was in a portion of the town I hadn’t seen, but it wouldn’t be hard to look at my Pokedex GPS and follow it to the motel, where I hoped Alan would be. I was nervous as I went down the roads, the memory of what happened the last time I was in this town alone still strong in my mind. Yet having Snivy there comforted me a little. Several people passed me by with their greetings, but I didn’t bother to answer them. They weren’t being sincere, and now that I knew that I didn’t want to concern myself with them.

    I finally made it to the motel, a two story building that looked just like every other building near it. I went into the lobby where the receptionist greeted me like everyone else. I signed her paper and went to mine and Alan’s room. Inside Alan was sitting on my bed, looking out the one window nervously. When he heard the door open he jumped up and smiled.

    “Hey, you’re back! Where did you go? I thought Team Rocket got you again!” he looked at my clothes and his tone shifted, “did they?”

    “No, it’s a little more complicated than that, but I’m fine,” I said.

    Alan sighed, “That’s good. I was about to call the police right before you got here.”

    Sure you were, it’s not like you had hours to do it, I thought cruelly. I shook off the idea.

    “Anyway, I got the badge!” Alan proudly showed me his Mountain badge whose appearance was identical to mine. “It was really close, but my Kakuna evolved into a Beedrill right in the middle of the match and I won! Can you believe that?”

    I shook my head, “That sounds amazing. I wish I could have seen it.”

    “Yeah, it was awesome. I was scared when I saw a crack open on Kakuna’s back, but then a Beedrill came out and I was like, ‘woah!’ Pokemon battles are so cool, I can’t wait to get my next badge!” Alan’s hands moved energetically as he spoke and his eyes sparkled.

    I smiled, a little overwhelmed by his eagerness, “Yeah, me too. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow, I think, because I need to get these cleaned,” I pulled at my shirt, “and we can buy some stuff at the Pokemart.”

    “Oh yeah, what happened to you?” Alan asked, “Did you go off to train or something?”

    Now it was my turn to sigh. I didn’t really know how to describe what happened or why I went along with it, but since I had already trusted him with everything else he probably wouldn’t judge me too much.

    “Well, I had another one of those dreams like I told you about before, but I can remember this one.”

    “Really? What was in it?” Alan’s curiously pressed for more. So I described the dream to the best of my ability. I had to stop several times during the retelling as I struggled to put my experience accurately into words. Once I finished I didn’t feel satisfied with how I had put it, but at least I had managed to get it out.

    “That’s weird,” Alan remarked, “so you were sleepwalking or something?”

    “I guess so,” I responded, “I don’t really understand any of it.”

    “Well if you’ve got to save the world or something than you need to be prepared. Get those clothes off and let’s go shopping!”

    “Could you not make it sound like I’m some sort of chosen one? I really don’t think I am,” I cringed at the idea.

    “That’s what they all say,” Alan grinned, “but you’ll get used to it. They always do on TV.”

    I laughed halfheartedly. “You and that stupid television.” Alan smiled back and left the room to let me change. He was being ridiculous, there was no way I could be “The One” in some big prophecy. I mean, who even makes those dumb things anyway? The only “prophecy” I believed was that Jirachi would awaken in the next three hundred and thirty-five years, and that was because it’s a fact. Those dreams didn’t mean anything like that, it’s probably just some highly intelligent Pokemon that really wants to mess with me. I couldn’t be expected to save the world. Right?

    I finished changing and prepared to leave once again. Snivy was more than willing to return to its Pokeball now that it felt I was safe, which I was happy about. As much as I enjoyed Snivy’s company I didn’t think it would be very safe to have it out all the time. Alan and I went outside the hotel, heading to the Pokemart. There were two Pokemarts in town, and we decided to choose the one that was the closest, though it was smaller than the other.

    “You know, I’m kind of glad we’re going to leave this place soon,” I said casually.

    “Why’s that? It’s not too bad here,” Alan replied.

    “It just feels kind of bland, you know? Everyone acts the same, everything looks the same, it’s not as great as I thought at first.”

    Alan looked around us as we walked. “Yeah, you may have a point there. But now that we’re Trainers we can go and leave whenever we want. Wait, I think we just passed the Pokemart.”

    “Really? I wonder how that happened. It’s not like it looks like every other building,” I said sarcastically. The Pokemart, like most other things in this town, was only distinguished by the sign in its window. There was the added feature of the building’s blue roof, but it’s not like we were looking up at them. We backtracked a few steps and went inside.

    “Kinda cramped in here, don’t you think?” Alan commented, grabbing a shopping basket at the entrance. There were shelves up to the ceiling throughout the store, the hallways between them narrow. This seemed entirely unnecessary as there were only products placed at levels that people could actually reach, and some shelves were empty altogether. We couldn’t see if there was anyone inside the store, including the register, as the shelves blocked our view.

    “It might be hard to find anything in here without getting lost,” I said, “but at least their stuff is cheap.”

    “Yeah. But I’m already getting half off since we’re splitting the cost,” Alan pulled some canned Pokefood off a shelf, then immediately put it back. “That expired three months ago.”

    “Do you think they get there food secondhand?” I wondered.

    A woman walked into the store and came up behind us. “Excuse me,” she said pleasantly, “I need to get past you, do you mind?”

    “Yeah, just a sec,” Alan said. The shelves were packed so tightly together that we had to back out of the aisle entirely in order to give her enough room to pass through. She thanked us and went on her way.

    I grimaced. “Maybe we should have went to the other store.”

    “No! We must stay determined! This store shall not defeat us!” Alan puffed out his chest and tried to sound heroic, “the power of discounts compels you!”

    “Yeah, okay,” I shook my head, “whatever you say.”

    After thirty minutes of searching we found enough Pokeballs and various medicines to last us until the next town. We put a few extra poison antidotes in our basket so we wouldn’t find ourselves in the same situation Alan and his Tepig were before. Finding nonperishable food for our Pokemon took the longest, as most of the containers were bent or already opened and half-empty. Once finished it took a few more minutes to find the checkout. There was an old man sleeping at the register. A pin on his plaid jacket informed that he was the manager.

    “Now what are we going to do? We can’t just wake him up.” I said.

    “Oh yeah? Watch me,” Alan walked up to the table and pressed the bell. It made a small ring and the man shot up with a snort.

    “Huh? Who’s there?” he pushed his glasses closer to his eyes.

    “We want to check out,” I said, showing him our basket of items.

    “Oh really? Why didn’t ya just steal it and save me the trouble of wakin’ up?” he grumbled.

    “What do you mean?” I asked. There’s no way the manager of a store would encourage stealing. One hundred percent off sales wouldn’t go well for the stores that held them.

    “This store’s closing anyway. Just another part of this town that’s falling apart. Not that we’re allowed to say anything about it, eh? Just put on a happy face and all your problems will go away. Give me that,” he took the basket from my hands and grudgingly rung up the items.

    “The town? What’s wrong with it?” Alan suddenly became curious.

    He sighed. “Outsiders. I should have known.”

    The manager waited until he had scanned all the items before saying anything else. “Well, if you don’t know anything about it, I can’t tell you. Just take this junk and leave,” he shoved the basket back into my hands just as forcefully as he took it, “that’ll be 800 Pokedollars.

    I took out my Pokedex and handed it to him, where he took one look at it and punched in some numbers.

    “You can’t just drop hints and not expect me to be curious. I won’t tell anyone, I promise. Maybe we can help,” Alan persisted, looking around to make sure no one else was in earshot.

    The old man laughed, “yeh’ve got spunk, kid. Do yourself a favor and get out of this town before it’s too late. Maybe there’s some other place that’ll let you live up to your potential, but it’s not here.”


    “Just get out or I’ll call the cops on ya,” he said, handing me my Pokedex and bag of purchased items. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such an empty threat, but we obeyed.

    “That’s going to bother me for ages,” Alan said, “I hate unsolved mysteries.”

    “It’s not really our place, is it?” I swung the grocery bag as I walked. The wind was blowing gently, the sun shining brightly, the buildings casting shadows on the road. I suppose Argus did have charm once you looked past its flaws. “This isn’t our town, and we couldn’t change anything if we wanted to.”

    “If you want to be a hero, you need to do what you can and then some more. That’s what Bidoof Man says, and I always thought he was the strongest of the Master Team. He may not have a bunch of cool powers, but he’s determined.” Alan said.

    “Everything you learn seems to have come from some TV show or movie. You’re just as much of a nerd as my best friend,” I teased.

    “No, I’m more of an outdoor person, if you couldn’t guess. I just like superheroes is all,” Alan combed a hand through his brown hair, a little embarrassed.

    “Anyway, it doesn’t matter much since we're leaving tomorrow,” I got back on subject.

    “Why wait until tomorrow? We have plenty of time left today,” Alan pointed at the sky.

    “But if we wait it’ll be one less night that we have to sleep in a tent,” I argued. I looked up. The sun was on the verge of setting. The shadows of the buildings around us getting longer. Of the things I didn’t like about living outdoors, sleeping bags were at the top of the list.

    “You plan too much. Sometimes you just gotta do stuff, you know?” Alan told me, “So let’s just do it. Let’s go,” he headed towards the entrance to Route D.

    “Wait, we left our stuff at the motel!” I said. Alan promptly turned around and headed back into town.

    “Okay, we’ll get our things and then we’ll go.”

    With our backpacks on and the sun to our backs, it was time to enter the next step in our journey. I had never been past Argus before, and now I was going to experience the rest of the region firsthand. Route D connected Argus with a town called Parnassian, which was a trading town. There wasn’t anything of particular interest there, so we would probably bypass it altogether. After that we could go to either Swallowtail or the region capital, Monarch. Since we didn’t want too much too fast, and to save on backtracking it would be best to…

    “Hey, you coming?” Alan waved. While I was recapping the plan to myself he had already gone ahead of me.

    “I’m coming, I’m coming,” I called, running after him. He laughed and started to run away from me. I ran harder, my feet pounding the stone path, kicking up pebbles. Alan almost ran into another person, who shook their fist and spouted obscenities as I dashed past them, still racing.

    I could do to learn a few things from Alan. His carefree nature was something I envied. Due to all that had happened to me in the past, I felt anxious whenever I didn’t know every aspect of what I was about to do, which might not be the best way of thinking for a Trainer. The air rushed past me as I ran, falling behind Alan despite my greatest efforts. It was time I lived in the moment, that I got out of my head and didn’t fear taking action. Right then I promised myself that one day I would catch up to Alan.
  13. VRainbow

    VRainbow Member

    Chapter 8

    Route D wasn’t anything special, just a wide stone path through a featureless landscape. There was the occasional tree or farm here or there, but it was mostly grass and hills. Since this road connected both Argus and Euthalia with the trading town, there was quite a bit of traffic. Some people were on foot, but most rode on Pokemon, getting the carts of objects to their destination. There were even some Pokemon with no clear overseer, trained well enough to deliver their inventory without help.

    “Hey, I’ve got an idea,” Alan said, throwing a Pokeball into the air, “how about we spend some time with our Pokemon?”

    Tepig squealed excitedly as soon as it was released. I smiled, kneeling down as it approached me. It noisily smelled the hand I held out for it and jumped into my arms. “It looks like Tepig is my Pokemon now,” I told Alan. I stood up and held Tepig like a baby.

    “Aw, man. Now I’m stuck with Beedrill,” Alan said dejectedly, throwing a second Pokeball.

    I jumped back in surprise, the smile on my face gone. Tepig oinked in concern from the sudden movement. I was expecting a large wasp, but this thing was enormous! Its wings hummed as it hovered in the air, three stingers waving idly. It could easily attack anything with the two venomous stingers it had for front legs, and with its speed I’d be dead before I realized it had hit me. Its compound eyes looked even more empty than Nincada’s, and it looked around lazily with them.

    “Pretty impressive, huh?” Alan said proudly, “and yes, it’s as powerful as it looks.”

    “Uh, yeah,” I said shakily. Beedrill seemed to take a sudden interest in me, buzzing around me. I slowly backed up, eyeing it warily. “C- could you return it please?”

    “Why, are you afraid of it or something? I didn’t know you were a scaredy-Delcatty,” Alan teased.

    “Well why is it getting so close to me?” I asked in a panic, tensing to run away.

    “Oh, it’s not after you, it just likes Tepig a lot for some reason,” Alan said casually.

    I dropped Tepig without a second thought. Tepig landed with a bounce and skittered around the road. Beedrill turned its attention away from me and buzzed after Tepig, who was apparently overjoyed to have a large insect following it. I sighed in relief as Tepig ran off of the road and into the grass, Beedrill close behind.

    “There they go again,” Alan shook his head watching them run off, “I can get them back though, unlike before. Watch this.”

    He cupped his hands over his mouth in an imitation of a megaphone and shouted. “Beedrill!”

    The insect stopped chasing Tepig and turned its head toward Alan. Tepig continued to run, leaving a trail of trampled grass, oblivious to Alan’s call.

    “Get over here Beedrill!” Alan continued. The wasp listened, floating back to Alan’s side. It took a few seconds, but when Tepig noticed that its friend was missing it dashed back to Alan at top speed. It oinked at Beedrill, trying to get it to play some more, but Beedrill remained motionless outside of the beat of its wings.

    “See?” Alan smiled, gently petting Beedrill’s head, “I finally have a Pokemon that listens to me. Now I don’t have to keep chasing after Tepig.”

    “Yeah, that’s pretty cool, I guess,” I said, uncertain.

    “Well, aren’t you going to let your Pokemon meet Beedrill?” Alan asked.

    I winced. Did I have to? What if it attacked or something? Reluctantly I dropped Nincada’s Pokeball. It bounced once before releasing Nincada from the confines of the sphere. Nincada would have the best chance of relating to Beedrill since they’re both bug types, or at least that was my line of thinking. Or maybe I just didn’t want Snivy anywhere near that thing.

    Nincada usually did one of two things, stand around or look for a place to dig. This time it just stood there, dumbly looking into space. It stretched its legs one by one, raising them into the air and lowering them back to their original position. It didn’t seem threatened by Beedrill at all, just giving it a passing glance. Likewise, Beedrill took no interest in Nincada and continued to gaze longingly at Tepig while hovering at Alan’s side.

    “Well, at least they don’t hate each other,” Alan said, uncertain.

    “They don’t even seem to notice each other,” I observed, “maybe it’ll like Snivy a little more.” I felt a bit more comfortable after seeing the passive reaction Beedrill had to Nincada.

    “Bug Pokemon are weird,” Alan laughed as I returned Nincada. If it wasn’t going to move right now, then it would be best if I kept it in its Pokeball. Instead I sent out Snivy, who took one look at Beedrill and balked, similar to what I had done. Beedrill took instant notice to it, cocking its head curiously. Snivy looked at me and made a questioning sound.

    “Snivy, this is Beedrill, Alan’s new Pokemon,” I said, crouching to look it in the eyes. “Don’t be afraid. Its big with even bigger stingers, and has poison strong enough to kill trees, but it won’t hurt you.” I was talking to myself just as much as Snivy. Snivy tensed as Beedrill approached, with Alan behind. They looked at each other for a few seconds, then Snivy extended a vine towards it. Beedrill held out an arm, allowing the vine to wrap around its stinger. Snivy lowered its head respectfully, then retracted its vine.

    “What just happened?” Alan asked.

    “I have no idea. Some kind of handshake?” I said. Whatever it was, it seemed that they at least accepted each other as acquaintances.

    “Hey, William!” a voice called. I heard the heavy footsteps of a Pokemon as it came closer to us.

    I turned away from Beedrill to see a Bouffalant pulling a small metal carriage. The bull had large horns and a large tuft of hair on its head that looked suspiciously like an afro. It had a harness wrapped around it that it used to pull the vehicle. The driver slowed to a stop in front of us.

    “Do you know that guy?” Alan asked me.

    “Of course I do. He’s my brother.”

    He had blond hair like mine and a tall, thin body structure. He smiled warmly at me. “I was hoping I would find you in town, I didn’t expect you to have come this far already! How’s being a Trainer treating you?”

    “Oh, alright, I guess. How have you been?” I asked.

    “Things have slowed down quite a bit since finals are over. I’m going to work at Argus’ Pokemon Center this summer, which is where I’m going once I visit Mom and Dad. Maybe I can take you guys to wherever you’re going,” he turned his attention to Alan, “oops, how rude of me. My name is George, I’m Will’s brother. What’s your name?”

    “I’m Alan, nice to meet you,” he said.

    “Hey, that’s a nice Beedrill, I bet it’s won you a bunch of battles,” George said.

    “Only one so far, but there will be a bunch more,” Alan said proudly.

    “You can count on it,” George laughed, climbing out of the cart, “and Will, I see you chose Snivy just like you said you would.”

    “Yep,” I picked up Snivy, who was studying George, “and I haven’t regretted it a bit.”

    “Do you think I could take a look at it?” he asked.

    “Sure, what for?” I asked, not hesitating to hand Snivy over, despite Snivy’s unwillingness to participate.

    “Uh, I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Alan warned George, “Snivy doesn’t like to be touched except by Will.”

    George delicately took the squirming grass snake from my arms. It let out a cry and looked at me pleadingly, trying to escape from his grasp. George calmly turned Snivy around, forcing it to face him. He looked it in the eyes for several seconds and laid a hand on Snivy’s back, his gaze unwavering. Snivy slowly calmed down, its movement slowing and breaths becoming less rapid until it rested comfortably in George’s arms.

    “Oh, so it just hates me in particular then,” Alan said.

    George smiled, stroking Snivy’s back, “no, that’s just how Snivy’s are. Mother Serperiors don’t even know their children, they leave as soon as their eggs hatch. The baby Snivy have to look after themselves from birth. They are hardwired to defend themselves from anything that isn’t one of its own kind. That’s why it’s so hard to earn a wild Snivy’s trust. Of course, this one was bred to be a Trainer’s first Pokemon, so those traits aren’t as prominent, but the distrust is still there. You’ve done well for it to like you so much Will.”

    “Does that mean it won’t ever trust anyone?” I asked, “it sounds like a lonely way to live.”

    “No, as it grows it will be strong enough to risk being more open to others. That doesn’t mean it’ll be any easier to gain its friendship though, as they seem to lack basic empathy for anyone not in their group. I wouldn’t worry about it, just know that just because a Pokemon is acting strangely doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with it. You have to remember that Pokemon aren’t people. They have their own set of instincts and morals that they live by.”

    “Wow, your college education really paid off,” I remarked.

    “I sure hope so,” George laughed. Being a Pokemon doctor in training, he obviously cared a lot about Pokemon. It was something we had in common. I looked up to him quite a bit years before, and still did now to an extent. I knew he would do well in his field thanks to his intelligence and caring personality.

    “So, do you need a ride? It might be a bit of a squeeze as this thing is made for two people, but neither of you are fat enough to take up the whole space, so you should be able to fit,” he continued, handing Snivy back to me.

    “We’re going to Swallowtail,” I said, “do you think you can take us that far?”

    “Oh, well then I’m definitely going to have to take you then, no doubt about it.”

    “Why’s that?” Alan wondered.

    “There’s been reports of people dying in the woods that separate Swallowtail from the rest of the region. There hasn’t been any news as to whether they caused by Pokemon, people, or some other reason, but I would be extra careful just in case.”

    “But would you have time to make it back if you take us there?” I asked.

    “I might be a little late getting to our house, but that’s not a problem,” George looked at Bouffalant, “this thing cost a fortune to rent down at the Pokeride shop in Monarch, so I might as well get my money’s worth. There was a cheaper store right across from it, but I didn’t like how they treated their Pokemon. And you are friendly enough, aren’t you, boy?” He patted Bouffalant’s side, and it mooed in response. “Well, the clock is ticking, let’s get going.” He got in the cart, sitting on the very edge so we would have more room. We hopped in after him. I sat in the middle, George on the left and Alan on the right. It was definitely cramped, but I didn’t think I would suffocate at least. George pulled on the reins and said some simple commands to Bouffalant, causing it to turn and go down the road in the direction it came from.

    “You guys have to fill me in on what you’ve done so far. Have you really gotten your first gym badge already?”

    So as Bouffalant pulled us down the road Alan and I filled George in on what we had done. He listened with interest as we told him about the various battles and Pokemon we had encountered. Alan told the majority of it, and I filled in the details he missed. Then we came to the Team Rocket attack, and the dilemma of deciding whether to tell him about it. I wanted to tell him, I really did, but what if he told Mom? Could I really-

    “Oh, and then Will was almost robbed by Team Rocket!” Alan said, “but he called the police and they got to him before anything bad happened.”

    “Really?” George looked at me, “I’m glad you got out of it okay. There have been a bunch of Team Rocket attacks all over the place recently. They just seem to come out of nowhere and attack for no reason. At least you’ve got Pokemon to defend yourselves with.”

    “Yeah, I guess so,” I said uncertainly, “but I don’t think I would’ve been attacked in the first place if I wasn’t a Trainer.”

    “Training Pokemon for battle is a shady business,” George said seriously, “I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, especially for your friend. If done correctly, batting for sport is enjoyable for both the people and the Pokemon, and can create a bond between the two. But now the profession is being taken advantage of more than ever. It’s full of people who use it as an excuse to drop out of school, or to practice their abusive tendencies without punishment. Nice people like you two are quickly becoming the exception, not the norm.”

    “Why are we stopping?” Alan asked. As he was talking George had slowed Bouffalant to a halt.

    “I think this is where we turn to get to Swallowtail,” George said, pulling out his smartphone and looking at a map.

    “Really? I don’t see any place to turn to,” I said. Foliage was beginning to become more common, reminding me of Route A. The road seemed to keep going straight, so unless we were going to ride off into the trees George had to have been mistaken.

    “Alright, we’re going into those trees,” George announced, steering Bouffalant, “If we keep following the road we’ll end up at the region's capital city, so we have to turn at some point. Man, I knew Swallowtail was isolated, but there’s not even a path to it or anything.”

    I think it’s safe to say conversation ended there. I couldn’t open my mouth for fear of biting my tongue off. We quickly found out that the cart wasn’t build for off-road travel. I felt like a Spoink on a trampoline during an earthquake. If only the padding on the seats were thicker it might have been manageable. We held on to the seats and each other for dear life every time Bouffalant turned to go around a tree, hoping we wouldn’t fly right out of the cart.

    “I-I c-an see the to-wn,” George tried to say, his words getting chopped into pieces with each jolt of the carriage. I squinted into the woods, my teeth chattering. George was right, some small houses were before us, marking the entrance to the town of Swallowtail, or at least I hoped so.

    George pulled on the reigns, slowing Bouffalant to a stop. “Alright, I think we can walk from here. Unless anyone has any objections?”

    “No! Absolutely not!” Alan jumped out of the cart, “I’ll never ride that thing again!”

    I knew George wouldn’t get back on even if someone insisted, so I too left the cart and George took the reigns, leading Bouffalant as we walked.

    “I don’t really know much about Swallowtail,” I admitted, “I hope it’s better than Argus.”

    “No one really knows anything about it,” George said, “they keep to themselves most of the time and all there is to go off of is word of mouth. I’ve heard they rarely use technology and get everything they need from the lake and woods. You know, ‘live off the land’ type of people.”

    “Sounds awesome, they must be really great at training Pokemon if they’re that in touch with nature,” Alan said.

    A small girl with dark brown hair who seemed to be leaving town just as we were arriving approached us. Evidently she noticed the badges pinned to our shirts and introduced herself.

    “Hi, I’m Macy!” she said. She took a small box out of her satchel and held it open facing us. Inside were eight strangely shaped holes in a cushioned fabric. Filling one of them was a badge that looked like a halo made of lightning. She closed the badge case and continued, speaking energetically, “I knew you guys were Trainers! This place doesn’t get many visitors that aren’t. I became a Trainer a couple of weeks ago, and I was lucky enough to get a starter from the Kalos region! I chose the fire one, Fennekin. It’s fur is really warm and it’s just way too cute! We haven’t gotten to battle very many Trainers, they’re just too strong! Would either of you like to battle?”

    We listened patiently to the girl’s speech, and once she was finished I considered our options. A fire type Pokemon put both mine and Alan’s team at a disadvantage, but if I could get Nincada to land a dig attack… no, the memory of Nincada’s last battle with a fire Pokemon was still fresh in my memory. My team wasn’t ready, and even if they were, I wasn’t.

    “Alan,” I turned to him, “You should take this one.”

    “All right. I bet Tepig will like seeing a fellow fire starter,” he cracked his knuckles, stepping forward.

    “Go, Fennekin!” she shouted as she threw a Pokeball high up above her. The yellow fox Pokemon appeared in her arms with an affectionate yip. She gave it an affectionate squeeze and gently set it down on the ground. “I know you’ll do good out there!”

    “My turn,” Alan said, “go Tepig!”

    The fire pig appeared with a series of excited oinks, but when as soon as it made eye contact with Fennekin, it’s attitude changed completely. It started snorting bursts of flame through its nostrils in warning, glaring angrily.

    Alan stepped back, “Uh, okay. Tepig, tackle it!”

    Tepig either didn’t hear or ignored Alan, as it flung a ball of fire at Fennekin. The fox jumped gracefully out of the way and retaliated with another burst of flame. Tepig took the brunt of the attack, charging right through it. It relentlessly chased Fennekin, grunting heavily in either exhaustion or rage.

    “Fennekin, flame charge!” Macy cried. Fennekin spun in a pirouette, its tail glowing as it created a whirl of flame that it launched at Tepig.

    Alan looked uncomfortable with how things were playing out, and I didn’t blame him. While Tepig’s disobedience wasn’t anything new, it was being especially wild for some reason. He continued trying to tell Tepig what to do, but it was a hopeless endeavor. Through sheer determination Tepig wore down Fennekin to the point of defeat.

    “Your Tepig’s crazy!” Macy exclaimed, recalling the exhausted Fennekin, “but you won, so I guess it doesn’t...” she stopped mid-sentence. The Pokemon in question to glow with energy.

    Alan gasped, “Now Tepig’s evolving too?”

    It slowly grew in size, both in height and roundness, and as it did it reared up on its hind legs. Visually speaking it was unimpressive compared to the horrifying way Weedle evolved. After just a few seconds the glow faded, and what we were left with was a Pignite. The large orange and black pig now stood on two short legs and had two equally short arms, which it was flexing proudly. Two pointed teeth protruded from its lower jaw, and swirled yellow patterns covered its chest.

    “Hey, no fair! I didn’t know your Tepig was about to evolve,” Macy pouted, crossing her arms. She turned on her heel and walked away, grumbling something about wasting her prize money.

    “Evolution really is something, isn’t it?” George said, looking at Pignite, “I think that was why it was being so aggressive during your battle. But hopefully it will listen to you better now.”

    “I hope so. Now that it’s so strong I might have a harder time controlling it otherwise,” Alan laughed.

    If I were to describe Swallowtail in one word, it would be classic. Their roads were dirt, their houses made of logs, and I didn’t see much in terms of modern technology. Despite this, their clothes were more modern than I would have expected, though they were simple enough. A few people were outside, working on various projects. They hustled about, tending to their gardens, repairing houses, and I saw someone using a Machoke to uproot a stump.

    “Let’s find Bouffalant a place to stay for tonight,” George said, scanning the area.

    “What about where we’ll sleep?” Alan asked.

    “Oh, right, we’ll do that too,” he said dismissively.

    “So you’re staying with us?” I asked.

    “At least for tonight. Then I’ll get back on the road to visit Mom. Let me ask for help real quick. Here, watch Bouffalant please,” he handed me the reigns.

    “Excuse me,” he waved down a man in a yellow shirt and overalls who was carrying a basket of various berries. “We’re looking for a place to stay for tonight, do you know anywhere?”

    “You’re a bunch of Trainers, aren’t you?” he said gruffly, looking at us with disdain, “greedy dimwits. You’re all a bunch of criminals. You’ll be the death of this place, mark my words.”

    A woman came up behind him, also carrying a berry basket, “Oh, don’t mind Jeremy. He’s still angry about the gym being set up here. Just wants to stick to tradition. Can you blame him for that?”

    “The last thing this place need’s some trillion Pokedollar company to industrialize this town. We’re the only safe ones left! All that gym’s given us is a bunch of strangers to worry about,” Jeremy raved.

    The woman sighed. “Anyway, you wanted directions? Just go down this road and make a left at the produce market, there’s an inn there that’ll take you, and they have a stable for your Pokemon too.”

    “Thank you ma’am,” George said politely, and turned to leave.

    “See? What did I tell you? Criminals!” Jerry exclaimed. I turned to see what he meant. He couldn’t be talking about us, could he? No, he was pointing down the street where we had come from. There was a group of teenagers ganged up on an old woman.

    “Hand over your Pokemon and nobody gets hurt,” the oldest looking one said. He could have only been fifteen, and the rest appeared to be several years younger. They wore matching outfits of gray gloves and boots and black clothes. If their strange fashion sense didn’t give it away, the blazing neon “R”s on the fronts of their shirts certainly did. These were members of Team Rocket.

    “B-but I don’t have any,” the elderly woman said in a frail voice.

    “Hey, leave her alone!” Alan marched up to the group, and I went alongside him. They didn’t look nearly as threatening as the man from before, and the fact that I had survived the first encounter made me feel a little braver now.

    “Back off or we’ll kick your butts” I said, trying to act the part. I hoped it didn’t sound like I was trying too hard.

    “Oh yeah, we’ll see about that,” their leader said, swagger in his voice, “come on guys, show ‘em what we’ve got. And you,” he grabbed the old lady’s arm, “we’re not done with you yet.”

    The rest of the team pulled out their Pokeballs and grinned evilly at us, or as evilly as a young teenager without experience can look. I took Snivy’s Pokeball out of its holster and prepared to throw it, but hesitated when I recognized one of the gang. Her light brown hair, thin frame, and the way she held her head in such a proud way. There was no doubt that she was the one who came from my town, started at the same time I did, and rejected having anyone travel with her. She was Emily, and it looks like our first battle was different than I could have ever imagined.

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