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Birth of a Trainer

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Required, Nov 4, 2018.

  1. Required

    Required Lot 10 Underground Editor/Head Writer

    I like Pokemon. I like writing. I'm not great at it, but I'm getting better. Read. Review... repeat?

    This fic contains some graphic violence, light amounts of swearing, and implied violence that some readers may find troubling. Check with your doctor if you think it is right for you.
    Chapter One:

    The Old Man

    “Hello there!”

    Red turned, shielding his eyes against the intrusive sun to see an old man walking up the gravel path. The visitor’s feet shuffled slowly, kicking up puffs of red dirt. His shadow stretched ahead of the setting sun, reaching Red well before the old man did.

    The two of them, shadow and boy, waited silently for the old man to finish his slow trek towards them. Red had been sweeping off the brick path leading to his house so he settled the broom against his home and leaned up against the remains of a picket fence.

    The old man stumbled under the thin shade of a dead elm tree, taking refuse under the trees leafless branches, which stretched towards the hazy, purple sky overhead. He smiled, and even though he was old and had an almost broken quality about him, his smile was so joyful that Red—who was naturally distrustful—relaxed a little.

    “How are you?” The old man asked.

    Red had been working all day under the harsh sun and hadn’t rationed his water as skillfully as he typically did, so he was thirsty, and suffering from cotton mouth. He had to lick his lips carefully before he spoke.

    “Good,” he replied. “Yourself?”

    “I’m doing better now that I have a little shade.” The old man turned over his shoulder to look back wearily towards the path he had been traveling on. “It’s a terribly hot journey between here and Viridian.”

    The ease Red has felt towards the man earlier suddenly wore thin; Pallet Town didn’t get many visitors, even before the Cataclysm, and the harsh, burnt landscape since hadn’t exactly created a boom for tourism. He didn’t know what business anyone would have walking from Viridian to Pallet, especially a man so old and frail, but it couldn’t be good.

    The old man settled down slowly on to the bare earth. He was wearing a traveler’s cloak that was caked in dust and a Panama hat casted shade over his face so that Red couldn’t quite see his features—aside from a tuft of white hair that hung out the back.

    He took off his shoes and spilled out a pile of pebbles into the bleached yellow grass that was once their yard.
    “Some unwanted hitch hikers, I’m afraid,” the old man said, smiling.

    Red stared back at him, but didn’t reply. He wanted the man to go. He didn’t trust him; he felt like trouble.
    If the old man noticed, he didn’t seem to care. “What’s your name?”

    “Satoshi,” Red lied. He wasn’t sure where he had got the name from—he had read it, somewhere, though he didn’t have the slightest idea where.

    “Satoshi. That’s a peculiar name. Do you know where it comes from?”

    Red was about to reply in the negative when his screen door sprung open and his mother peaked her head out. “Red!” she cried, her greying brown hair falling over her face, “finish up and come in for supper.”

    Red spun away from the old man, embarrassed to have been caught in a lie, and behind him he was sure he heard the old man kerfuffle under his breath. His mother, still hanging halfway out the frame, tucked her hair behind her ear, and upon noticing the old man looked surprised.

    “Oh my—a visitor,” she said, stepping out on to the deck. The rotting wood creaked under her weight but held as she hurried up to where Red was standing. “Red, why didn’t you tell me we have a visitor.”

    “We don’t. He’s just passing through,” Red said, trying to catch his mother’s eyes so she would understand that the old man was unwanted.

    “Oh nonsense,” Delilah Pallet said. She held out a greeting hand towards the traveler. Red started to argue but she shot him a dark look and he knew better; he swallowed the thought of contempt, and instead glared at the old man, who was busy smiling at his mother.

    His mother introduced herself, and the old man introduced himself as Mark Mason.

    “Well I have supper prepared—it’s not much, but you’re welcome to take part.”

    “Oh no. I couldn’t,” Mark said, shaking his head vehemently, as if the thought was absolutely reproachful.

    Red wished it was settled at that, but he knew his mother better than that, and she confirmed his suspicion when she said, “No, I insist Mr. Mason. It is hot out, and you look awfully tired. Come in, rest your feet, and eat with us. I mean it. I won’t accept no for an answer.”

    And so Delilah led Mark Mason into their house and Red begrudgingly followed. Inside he was finally able to escape the direct heat of the day, which made it all a little more tolerable. The air in their home was stale with warmth and thick with dust; the windows were boarded up in an attempt to keep the sun and wind at bay—a strategy that worked, but just barely—and the whole house was casted in thick sheets of dark shadows.

    Later, when night settled completely on the town, they would use oil lamps, but presently it was too hot to ever imagine adding to the warmth.

    “I’m sorry about the mess,” Red’s mother said as she led them into the kitchen, grabbing a dirty rag to wipe off the new dust on the table. Red hurried to help her set the table, and Mark watched from the entryway, looking warmly upon the scene.

    Supper was vegetable soup, bread, and a strip of jerky that they split between the three of them. His mother was a wonderful cook, and even though the Cataclysm had left them bereft of ingredients, she still managed to make sure that her meals were not bland. The broth was rich without being too salty, the vegetables were filling and flavorful, and the bread was the perfect combination of warm and sweet. The promise of it all was enough to make Red settle into his chair a little more, even though he felt the need to watch Mark Mason carefully.

    Delilah made small talk with Mark: he had lost his home in Viridian and was traveling until he found a spot that seemed like a good place to plant his new roots. Before the Cataclysm he had worked at a book press, but now he just tried to make money as a hired hand whenever his funds were low enough to require replenishing.

    “Well I don’t think you’ll be spending very long in Pallet,” Delilah Pallet said with an empty smile—Red was certain he heard a quiver of sadness in her voice, and he knew she was thinking in that moment of his father. “Pallet has always been slow moving, even before the Cataclysm, but that was part of its charm. Now I am afraid that there is no reason to stay here.”

    Mark raised his brow curiously. “Oh? You both stay and make the most of it. It hasn’t seemed to send you for the hills like Viridian did for me after the fall.”

    “That is because it’s our home!” Red said defensively from his chair. It was the first contribution he had made to the conversation aside from a few head nods and vaguely polite smiles. “You wouldn’t get it. My mother is right. You should keep moving.”

    His mother looked aghast. “Red Pallet,” she said, her eyes wide in shock. It appeared to Red like she wanted to say more, then thought better of it and turned to Mark. “I have to apologize for my son—he doesn’t mean to be rude, not really. He is just struggling with coming to terms about his father’s—“

    “Mom!” Red cried. He sat up, his chair squeaking loudly as it scraped against the dusty floor. “Don’t talk about that. We don’t even know him. What is he doing here? How did he travel the route without an escort?”

    “Red that’s enough,” said Delilah Pallet.

    “No. If Team Rocket didn’t get him the Pokémon should have. I think he’s trouble mom. He needs to—”

    “Red,” she said sharply, and she looked at him with a glare that dared him to say more. He held his tongue. He was brave, but not brave enough to challenge his mother when she got to this point.

    He dropped his head in frustration, and was about to turn and sprint out of the kitchen and up to his room when Mark, who had been quiet during the length of their improv argument, said, “no, it’s quite alright. No child should feel the weight of losing a parent. It is none of my business really, but if I may step far past the line of appropriateness and ask how he… well how he was lost?”

    Red was thrown off by this enough to fall silent. Why did Mark want to know about his father?

    “My husband’s family founded the town, and as the eldest son he was the de facto leader of the town. It was more of a paper title than anything real; you know, welcome people when they moved here; settle disputes over fence heights; give a speech once in a while; that sort of thing, but everything changed after the Cataclysm. Everyone in the town was in real danger. The weather was terrible, and the Pokémon had gone—well…”

    His mother always had a hard time talking about the Cataclysm. It was, of course, the event that took her husband’s life, but it was more than that; Delilah Pallet had been a Pokémon trainer in her day, and had counted many of the infamous creatures as friends: on the day of the Cataclysm, when the Pokémon turned against the people of the world, it hit Delilah harder than most.

    She recovered quickly, as always. Nothing kept her down, not even the utter disappointment of life in their small Kanto town. “You know the events of the Cataclysm as well as anyone else, I am sure. Things got tough around here. My husband and a few other men from the town left for Viridian to try and get the Gym Leader there to come and help protect the town. News was slow and unreliable then. We hadn’t heard Viridian was worse off then us. If we had, I don’t know what he would have done. Head to Johto, probably, but they left for Viridian, and--they never made it, obviously. A wild Pokémon swarm found them... It was three years ago; last week.”

    “I am sorry to hear that,” Mark said—and even though Red wanted to be mad at him, there was something genuine about the way he said it. Red relaxed a little, the anger inside of him flattening; he sat back down, feeling a little embarrassed for acting so childish… but still, he didn’t trust Mark, not completely, because his father had died traveling the route between Pallet and Viridian and Mark was just an old man and yet he had some how made the journey safely.

    “Thank you,” said Delilah.

    “Red was right,” Mark said, surprising Red. “I have over stayed my welcome. You have been far too kind and generous already. Life is hard everywhere now, and the necessity of survival has chastised the simple act of treating a tired old man kindly. I am thankful for what you have done, but I don’t want to take advantage of you. Don’t waste your resources on me.”

    “Nonsense,” said his mother. “It will be dark soon, and the Pokémon tend to venture closer to the town. You’re safe here, for the night—or longer if you’d like.”

    Red looked at the boarded up window. They had once looked out to a yard that had housed an apple tree with a tire swing and a small rose garden that his mother had cultivated through the years. Now all he could see we a crack where two boards met and allowed in the faintest sliver of the dull purple-reddish colors that shone in from the setting sun. Even he couldn’t kick an old man out to face wild Pokémon.

    “I couldn’t,” said Mark.

    “You will,” Delilah replied. She looked to Red. “Show him where he can stay, and wash up dear, then come and help clean up.”

    Red nodded in agreement, and then showed Mark to their guest bedroom upstairs, and then to the bathroom that Red normally had to himself. Red was conflicted, torn between the gut feeling that Mark was hiding something, or carrying trouble with him and the moral compass that his mother and father had instilled within him which made it impossible for him to be okay with a man being mauled by a Raticate, or stung to death by a Beedrill.

    It was this conflict that caused him to lay restlessly in his bed that night. And it was for this reason that he was still up, several hours later, during the quiet night when every sound traveled farther than normal that he heard Mark Mason sneak out of his home.

    He should have let it go; Mark was gone, which, in the end, was what he had wanted all along. But the only thing that could over power the gut feeling of distrust that he felt for Mark was the burning curiosity that he felt raging from his heart and pulsing through his veins. It was a feeling universal amongst boys and girls his age, especially those born in a small town who never got a chance to see the world outside; it wasn’t even something he recognized on most days, the desperate need to be a part of something something more than the every day monotony of simply surviving. On most days he only thought of staying safe, and making sure he and his mom had the means to meet the next day; he worked hard, and he stayed away from anywhere that a Pokémon might wonder, because the creatures of magic and extraordinarily cruel powers would have killed him as indiscriminately as they had killed his father—and yet, on the rare night like tonight, he found himself laying in bed and dreaming of a life of adventure. A life outside of Pallet.

    And so, when he heard Mark sneak out of the house Red rose, almost subconsciously, out of his bed, snuck quietly across the dusty floor boards, and followed him out into the dark night a few moments later.

    He felt alive, and terrified.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  2. Required

    Required Lot 10 Underground Editor/Head Writer

    I know it is bad practice to post more than once a week, but I thought since it is my first two chapters I could post them as a sort of 2-part premier like they do on that television contraption I keep hearing about... anyway, hopefully someone on this earth can enjoy this. I'll post again next week, readers or not.




    Chapter Two

    Of Labs, Trucks, and Life Altering Decisions
    A time had once existed when Pokémon and human were friends—even more than that, they were often partners. This was the era of the trainer; humans who searched far and wide for Pokémon, catching them, and training them all to be the very best at what they did: battle Pokémon. It wasn’t nearly as cruel as it sounded, at least from what Red could remember. The Pokémon and the trainer were partners, and they battled together to show their bond.

    The Cataclysm had put an end to all of that. Pokémon had turned on mankind, breaking the bond they once shared, and creating a schism between man and Pokémon that would never be repaired. The lives of men were too fleeting to put their trust back in beasts that could shut out the sun and turn a mountain into rubble.

    Some people, like Red’s mother still longed for the era of the Pokémon trainer, others hated the creatures, and waged war against any of them that dared come back into contact with humans, but most were too scared to do anything but run and hide anytime even a hint of a Pokémon showed up. Red belonged to this group, which was why as he followed the dark frame of Mark Mason out into his yard he hesitated, even when Mark hauled his old frame without pause past the broken fence and out onto the street.

    In the distance, Red was sure he heard a throaty growl. His heart leapt into his throat and if his legs weren’t frozen with fear he was quite certain he would have ran back to his room at that moment. Forget adventure. Forget curiosity. He just wanted to see the morning.

    And yet—something pulled him forward. It wasn’t bravery; no, certainly not—but something equally as persuasive—a combination of curiosity and something beyond explaining... a sense of purpose. It wasn’t something Red would realize until much later, but in that moment as Mark disappeared down the street, the only thing that kept him from scurrying back to his bed and whimpering himself to sleep was the mysterious feeling that he was supposed to follow Mark.

    So he did. He lurked slowly in the shadows, careful to stay on the dead, dried grass because the crinkle of the broken foliage was far softer than the loud crunching sound that Mark made as he walked on the gravel road. He didn’t seem to care who heard him—a strange thought, considering soon they would be in the range of a wild Pokémon attack.

    Mark rounded a corner, past an abandoned house that had once belonged to an old woman who used to bake hot apple pies and set them on a ledge, the smell waft- ing to Red’s bedroom, forcing him to wonder over, and at the sight of him she always offered the first slice with a friendly smile. Her Pokémon, a Pidgeotto, had killed her with a sudden gust attack on the first day of the Cataclysm. Red hurried after him, his heart beating frantically as he glanced back at the house and wondered for the hundredth time in the few minutes he had been out here if he was making a terrible mistake.

    When Red rounded the corner Mark glanced back, and he would have saw Red if this wasn’t his town. Red had known nothing but these small, sunburnt gravel paths for the past few years. Even with the jolts of horror distracting him, Red didn’t need light to know where he needed to be to stay out of the eyesight of the old mysterious man.

    They kept walking, closer and closer to the outskirts of town, to the route that had tasted the innocent blood of so many men and women already: the blood of Red’s fa- ther. Red begged himself to stop this madness and turn around. He had his adventure; he could go home and dream of a better ending than what was sure to come to him if he kept on this path—as he was certain that the only thing that waited for him on this path was a early death. And that should have been enough to stop him, but he still followed Mark, because the only thing worse than the horrible thoughts of wild Pokémon attacks that were bombarding his mind was the feeling he got in his gut—no, his heart—whenever he thought of ignoring the feeling that called him to chase after Mark.

    They were nearly to the mouth of the Route when Mark took a hard turn, and Red let out a sigh of relief that nearly gave away his position. Mark continued this new path, just on the edge of town, stopping only once, when the a high pitched call came from somewhere in the sky above. Red nearly screamed for help, but Mark remained calm, his only movement a slow, almost involuntary reach towards something on his hip; A gun! Red though incredulously; it would explain why Mark was able to get across the route safely.

    There was no time to find out however, because after a few moments of standing in the eerie silence that fell over the town at night, Mark took off again. It seemed, eventually, like he was just wondering aimlessly, as his path took him up a sloped hill overlooking the town, and for a moment Red felt incredibly stupid for thinking this was anything more than a strange old man acting his part—and then, an even worse thought struck him; Mark knew Red was following him, had known the whole time, and that gun was soon to turn on Red when he got far enough out of town—but Red hadn’t even finished flushing this idea out in his panic stricken head when he saw there was something on the hill.

    A tall, round building over looked the town; it was old and dilapidated, abandoned for years now, and broken by both nature and time; the wooden siding was rotting and falling off, the glass windows were universally shattered, and plant life had begun to grow out from the gaps where the glass had once been. A few yards away from the main structure, a tall windmill rose up from the ground, so rusted that it seemed impossible that the mechanisms in it had ever turned at the bidding of the wind.

    It was the research facility of an old Pokémon researcher who had lived in Pallet. He had been famous—a man named Samuel Oak—but he had disappeared shortly after the Cataclysm. There were different rumors in the town about his disappearance; he had ran away to stay out of harms way; his own Pokémon had killed him, and left no evidence of the act; Team Rocket had kidnapped him, or killed him depending on who you asked, but in the end all of the rumors agreed on one thing: he was gone.

    Red had hardly had time to wonder what in the world Mark would want with an abandoned old research facility when the strange old man kicked the rotted door off its hinges and limped inside.

    Okay. You seen what he was doing. He’s crazy—it’s obvious. Turn around. Go home, Red thought, trying to convince the feeling inside of him that enough was enough, but it was a loosing battle.

    He waited five long minutes, and then followed Mark in.

    The outside of the building had been depressing and foreboding, and yet it had also somehow managed to seem subdued compared to the wreckage that he crept upon when he entered Oak’s lab. The signs of plant life that were visible from the outside were just the tip of the fauna iceberg, as once within its walls Red had to remind himself that he was inside and not in a canopy. The saplings, and weeds, and wild grasses grew rampant, and wherever he did manage to see signs of what the lab used to look like; large machines, a tile floor here and there that wasn’t covered by roots and dust, strange instruments scattered along the foliage, it was obvious that everything here was rusted, broken, and forgotten. He had just begun to wonder how he could see it all so clearly when his eyes caught something bright above, and glancing up, Red saw a large hole in the ceiling was letting in the full moon’s light, bathing everything in an eerie blue light.

    Red looked around slowly, careful not to move anywhere until he was sure he wasn’t about to stumble on Mark, or worse a Pokémon nest. He had worked his way to the back of the lab, a large open cavernous area plant life grew, somehow, even thicker, when Red heard something behind him.

    “Time is undefeated.”

    Red spun around to see Mark sitting on a fallen, rusted machine that looked like it had once been designed to study something in water because it had a mildew cov- ered glass tank attached to one side of it.

    Red’s voice was caught in his throat. He didn’t know how Mark had snuck up be- hind him, but now the thoughts of a gun were flooding back to him. He stumbled backwards, into a cold steel wall—the end of the building.

    There was no where to hide.

    “Relax,” said Mark. “I am not going to hurt you. There’s enough pain in the world these days, don’t you think?”

    Red nodded, but remained skeptical.

    “Why did you follow me?” Mark asked. There was no accusation in his voice, only curiosity. He smiled weakly, his eyes gleaming in the moonlight, and again Red was struck by how Mark seemed both incredibly old and strangely youthful at the same time.

    Red shrugged. “I heard you leave, and thought it was weird—that’s all.”

    “You don’t strike me as the sort who just does things on a whim.”

    Red didn’t disagree, but the truth was it was likely exactly that--a whim-- that brought him here to this old abandoned building on this night. He didn’t have any better explanation for it. But he felt stupid even thinking this, and was embarrassed to admit, even to a stranger, that he had risked his life because of a strange feeling, so he decided it was better just to change the focus of the conversation away from him.

    “What are you doing here? This lab had been abandoned for years.”

    “Yes, I know—I actually knew the man who used to run it, you see. He was a Pokémon researcher.”

    Red nodded. “I know—it’s my town, remember?”

    “Of course,” Mark said, and he smiled again. “Well to answer your question more directly I am here looking for someone.”

    What a strange answer, Red thought. Of all the places in the world a person was likely to hide, this seemed like the last place Mark should have looked. In fact even Pallet itself was pretty low on that list.

    “I don’t think your going to find”—Red glanced around the overgrowth—“anything here.”

    Mark nodded sadly. “I think your right about that Red—or is it Satoshi.”

    Red blushed. “I didn’t trust you.”

    “But you do now?”

    Red shrugged, which was the closest to the truth he could get. He didn’t like the strangeness Mark carried with him, but he couldn’t lie... there was something natu- rally friendly about Mark, a warmness that made it hard to stay jaded towards him.

    “Well, fair enough. I am a stranger and these are hard times,” said Mark. “But I assure you that I am thankful for the hospitality you and your mother showed me, and my leaving is not a sign of my lack of gratitude. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. You were right about me Red. I am trouble; trouble for good people like you and your mother.”

    Red was beginning to feel nervous again, but Mark looked casually around the room. “The person I am looking for isn’t here, and he hasn’t been here for quite some time as far as I can tell. It is time I leave. There is no sense wasting what life I have left in the wake of nostalgia. I still have a lot of work to do, you see? So I think now it is best that we get you back to your home safely, and tomorrow when you wake, you and your mother forget me entirely.”

    “What sort of work are you doing? Who are you looking for?”

    Mark looked almost as if he might answer, but then he was interrupted by a sudden noise outside. It sprung on them out of no where, as if they had been in a sealed room in which someone had finally opened the door instead of the open air of the abandoned lab. Mark turned suddenly towards the source of the noise and a hurried look fell over him.

    Red wasn’t sure what the noise was. It sounded like a low pitched buh-buh-buh, as if someone was beating the dust out of a mat, only the noise was so loud that it must have been a thousand someones hitting a thousand different mats simultaneously.

    “I thought I was at least a day ahead of them,” he said, suddenly losing a little bit of his composure. At the sight of this Red felt more crippled by fear than he had been all night. Mark turned back to him, and upon seeing the fear in Red’s eyes he seemed to realize his error because he smiled and the worry that had shown in his wrinkled face disappeared. “Oh—it’s no worry for you Red. It makes my life a little more difficult but you’ll get home safe and sound all the same.”

    He reached for his waist. Red stared dumb struck first at him, and then at the hole in the wall, which was where the sound seemed to be coming from, and it took him until Mark had already begin pulling whatever it was out from his waist for Red to remember his concerns about a gun. He winced away from the thought of it, but the thing in Mark’s hand was not a gun at all; it was a small sphere, half red, half white, the hemispheres separated by a thick black line. He clicked a button on the sphere and it enlarged impossibly to twice the size it had been before.

    “Stand back Red,” Mark, said, a childish grin on his face. “It’s been a day or two since he spread his wings. He might be a little over zealous.”

    He threw the ball into the air; it split in half as a harsh red light broke free from it. It was then that Red finally realized what he was looking at. He had been young when the Cataclysm happened, but not so young that he didn’t at least remember what a Pokeball was. These small balls were the containers in which Pokémon trainers kept their Pokémon that traveled with them; Mark wasn’t a gun wielding stranger; he was a Pokémon trainer!

    The light took shape in the room, and solidified into a creature a full head taller than Red and over twice as large. It stood on it’s back legs, on two powerful, clawed feet, and trailing behind it was a thick tail; it’s orange scaled covered it’s body from head to toe; on it’s back, two small wings that seemed unlikely to lift a creature so tall, and as it turned to Mark, Red saw that it had enormous, kind eyes—not unlike it’s trainer—a toothy smile, antennas, and a single horn.

    It was, without question, the strangest thing Red had ever seen in his life.

    “Dragonite,” Mark said—that must have been it’s name—“We have visitors. I need to shake them, and we need to do it quickly, okay?”

    Dragonite let out a mighty roar and nodded. Just then, the source of the noise came into view as a shadow casted over them. Red looked up to see a large black he- licopter flying across the path of the moon, hovering just over the lab. On its side Red could clearly see the red R insignia; it was Team Rocket.

    “Oh sh**t,” Red said loudly. “This isn’t good.”

    Rocket usually left Pallet alone—there wasn’t much to want in the small, abandoned town, but they kept their presence well enough for Red to recognize their calling card.

    Mark waved his hand dismissively at the helicopter. “They’re going to need more than that to cause Dragonite any problems.”

    And, as if cued by some irony-obsessed play director somewhere off stage, Red became aware of a second much louder noise, and two more helicopters became visi- ble just behind the first one.

    “Admittedly, not ideal,” Mark said, grinning. “But we will be just fine Red. Okay?” When Red managed a weak know Mark turned back to Dragonite. “Be careful old friend. Now go.”

    Dragonite nodded, flapped its small wings, and incredibly, it lifted into the air and through the hole. A loud, piercing shot fired from somewhere inside the helicopter; they were shooting at Dragonite.

    Red looked up to the powerful Pokémon, feeling a mixture of fear for it’s safety—as it was trying to protect him, a thought that even now in the moment seemed bizarre—but he also felt the deep, from the gut fear that he always felt when he thought of Pokémon.

    This conflict was compounded when he saw the bullet ricochet harmlessly off of Dragonite’s thick hide, and then, pausing just in front of the helicopter, the creature drew in a deep breath and released a pule of white hot energy from it’s mouth that tore through the back half of the first helicopter, sending the machine and the men inside spiraling to the ground below.

    Red stood awe struck by the horrifying power of it all. Dragonite floated in the air, huffing out it’s chest as if it was daring another helicopter to try it. One helicopter pulled back, but another opened its doors and a bright red light broke out from the inside; Team Rocket was using a Pokémon of their own!

    This creature was much smaller than Dragonite—a small dark bird whose feathers made the moon lit sky behind it seem luminescent in comparison. It had a long, yel- low beak and it let out a cry as if sprung out from its Pokeball that Red recognized as the Pokémon cry he had heard earlier.

    “A Murkrow,” Mark muttered. “I was expecting a little more, honestly.”

    Red was relieved to see that Mark didn’t look very worried about the Pokémon, and glancing up he saw in the moonlight that Dragonite was equally unimpressed.

    “Follow me Red,” Mark said, leading him towards the way they had come. They stumbled quickly back out of the lab, jumping over fallen equipment and pushing through the thick overgrowth that had over taken the lab. Outside there was a loud crash, and a horrible cry of pain from the Pokémon that Mark had refereed to as Murkrow. Red was certain that Dragonite had taken another helicopter down and defeated Murkrow in the process. They ran out the exit, Mark moving much faster than Red would have ever expected him to, but just as their feet met the earth outside they both came to a crashing stop as they were cascaded with a harsh light.

    “Stop!” a figureless voice cried from behind the wall of light; it was a caravan of trucks, and as Red’s eyes adjusted he saw that every single truck was marked with the red R.

    “No need to worry,” Mark said, looking up to the sky. “Dragonite should about be done with the lot up there.” And, as if on cue, Dragonite landed between them and the Rocket caravan.

    “Stop, or we will fire,” the same man yelled, his voice a gruff roar that was the antithesis of what Mark sounded like. Dragonite huffed out its chest again—a dare, Red thought.

    He never got the chance to find out. Before either side could make a move something incredible happened. A light began to shine from underneath the truck. It was not the harsh light of before, in fact it was unlike any light Red had ever witnessed in his life; it was a bright pink, and it struck Red as unequivocally alien and yet... somehow familiar. Just as he realized the light filled him with the same strange feeling of purpose that had brought him here, to this lab, in this terrible situation, an explosion rocked the earth below and a tower of the strange light burst out from underneath he truck, sending it, and the next few closest to it blasting into the air.

    If this had been the last strange thing that happened to Red that night it would have been enough for a lifetime, but as the strange light disappeared Red became aware of something inside the column of light; a small, feline like Pokémon, with hairless, smooth pink skin, a tail twice the length of it’s body, and large eyes that seemed to look, momentarily, directly at Red.

    Red couldn’t help but look back and he was flooded with the powerful feeling that he had been drawn here to meet this Pokémon. The thought terrified him of course, but below this fear he recognized something else; excitement—for, even though he could never forgive Pokémon for taking his father away from him, he would have to be a fool to not recognize the sincerity, and good will that radiated from this strange new Pokémon.

    “Amazing,” Mark mumbled in a way that made Red think that he might know more about this Pokémon than Red did.

    Red looked to him, begging for an answer with his gaze because his voice had failed him. Mark didn’t answer; he didn’t even look at Red, instead watching as the mysterious new Pokémon and Dragonite quickly laid waste to the remaining trucks. Men screamed and jumped away from the exploding trucks, rolling on the ground and sprinting off into the darkness, the fear of the Pokémon they had come up against being greater than the fear of any wild Pokémon on the route beyond the lab.

    Red watched them disappear into the black as the trucks lay in waste, fires burning and casting a soft orange light over everything. The newborn fires crackled and burned loudly in the sudden still after the battle, and all around them shadows danced wildly. Red could feel the heat from the fires; he could smell the gas stoked flames; he could see the frames of two powerful Pokémon, backlit by the flickering orange light, and yet still these senses were nearly not enough to make him believe it was all real.

    He was flooded with so many emotions it was all he could do to stand still and not fall to his knees. He should fear these beasts—and some part of him did—but it was such a infinitesimal part that it was easy to ignore over his curiosity for what was happening and the awe he felt in the Pokémon’s presence.

    Besides, these Pokémon had saved his life... they couldn’t be all bad. His mother had told him as much many times before, but he had never understood it; how could a woman who lost her only love to wild Pokémon sympathize with these creatures? Now, he thought he might understand.

    Dragonite glanced over to the strange new Pokémon, which was floating whimsical and child like in a small nearly translucent pink bubble. It smiled at Dragonite and made a noise that sounded nearly exactly like the laugh of a toddler. Dragonite smiled proudly and bowed.

    “Mew,” the strange Pokémon said, and then it turned and floated over towards where they were standing. The fire backlit it all, but Red hardly needed the light. He could feel the Pokémon’s presence like a hand on his chest and as it drew closer the pressure felt stronger and stronger, but never unwanted, never painful—more like the feeling had been missing from him all along.

    The Pokémon floated up next to him, and the importance of the moment weighed heavily on Red; he didn’t dare speak.

    “Mew,” the Pokémon said—which must have been its name.
    Red nodded. “Mew,” he whispered.
    The Pokémon smiled gleefully.
    “Red,” he said, pointing towards his chest.
    Mew pointed at him with its short-clawed finger. Red.

    He heard the voice of a child in his mind and it caused him to jump back in fright. At the sight of this Mark let out a hearty laugh and Dragonite smiled, as if they were both in on a joke that Red wasn’t privileged to.

    “What?” Red asked, turning towards Mark.

    “Mew is a psychic Pokémon—it’s communicating through telepathy,” Mark said in a way that made it seem like communicating to a Pokémon through one’s mind was a perfectly normal thing to do—and maybe it was, once, but those days were long gone.

    “So it can hear me, even if I just think it?” Red asked.
    Mark nodded. “Precisely.”
    Red turned to it and smiled. Thanks for saving us.

    Mew smiled. You’re welcome Red. Then, still floating in the air, Mew turned to Mark and said, Professor, it is good to see you again, and even though it was talking to just Mark now, Red could still hear it and Mark’s response, so that it was no longer a two-way conversation but a conference call in each other’s minds.

    It is wonderful to see you Mark said. I have to admit I feared I may never have the pleasure spending another moment with you, not after all the nastiness with the clone.

    Mew nodded. I am sorry I have been so absent; it was dangerous there for a while. I am just now starting to poke my head out from my hole again.

    Where have you been hiding? Mark asked. Mew didn’t speak, but instead looked up to the large full moon, which shone so brightly that even the layer of smoke build- ing over head didn’t break its rays. Ah, of course, Mark thought, and he smiled. I should have known.

    Red glanced over to see Dragonite watching this conversation with a casual curiosity. His face was kind of derpy, with its round cheeks and huge eyes, but after seeing how powerful it was Red would have never told that to its face. He turned his focus back to the conversation. How do you two know each other?

    I met Mew several times before the Cataclysm. It seems like a life time ago now.

    Mew nodded in agreement. Did you find any signs of him Professor?

    It was the second time Red had heard Mew call Mark professor, and this time it caused an idea to go off inside Reds mind like the flash to an old fashioned camera. Of course! he thought loudly, You aren’t Mark Mason. Your Oak—the old professor who used to run this lab. That is why you came back here.

    It had to be true; only the original owner could have a reason to come to a place like the lab, abandoned and forgotten by everything but the plants that now called it home.

    “You are sharp,” Mark—or Oak—said, grinning. “And again, I do apologize for putting you in such trouble Red. I had no idea they were this close to me. If I had I would have never even spoken to you this afternoon. I didn’t lie earlier, when I said I was trouble for you and your mother—and I was quite serious about you forgetting all of this... though I admit that might be hard to do after meeting a Legendary Pixie.”

    “A what?” Red asked.

    Me,
    Mew said in both of their minds.

    Oak nodded. “There are many types of Pokémon: most are rather common, then there are of course the legendary Pokémon—which are extremely uncommon, on the verge of being extinct. After that is the Mythical Pokémon; they are one of a kind Pokémon so powerful they can change the world as you know it.” He paused and motioned towards the sun bleached landscape, “Groudon has done quite the job of turning this place inhospitable. The Pixies fall into the mythical category as well. They are small but powerful Pokémon that watch out for the innocent and pure hearted of the world—a job that Mew might tell you has been rather tough lately.”

    Mew nodded. But tough is no reason to quit!

    Red nodded. He liked Mew, the way it seemed to just be happy, as if it had never considered another possibility. He also liked the quiet strength it carried with it, like it knew how strong it was and didn't feel the need to show off about it.

    “I’m glad to hear that,” said Oak, walking over to pat Dragonite thankfully on its check under belly. “You were wonderful as always,” he said to his Pokémon, withdraw- ing a Pokeball again and returning it with a flash of red light to where it could be safely —and inconspicuously—stored. Oak turned to Red. “Mew, I do hope you will follow us to Red’s home so that I may talk to you some more.”

    Mew shook its head no. I am not here to take Red home.

    Oak furrowed his brow. “Why not?”

    “It’s okay,” Red said. “I can wait.”

    Oak didn’t seem satisfied by this however; he looked at Mew and crossed his arms.

    Mew smiled and spoke, but if it was an answer it was an indirect one. I only recently heard about Blue. If I had known sooner--.

    “It’s okay,” Oak said. “He’s somewhere out there. I will find him.”
    We, Mew said, and Oak smiled, nodding his head thankfully.
    “Who is Blue?” Red asked aloud.

    Oak smiled. “My grandson. He disappeared a year ago now, after a battle with a horribly strong Pokémon under Rocket’s control. He is who I am looking for; my rea- son for coming to the lab. I thought maybe--- well, I’m not sure what I thought honestly. Nostalgia and fool heartedness I suppose.”

    Oak allowed himself to look sad for the first time, and there was something about the deep, wrinkled frown that made him look a hundred times sadder than he would have looked if he had been bawling hysterically.

    You thought that he is safe, and simply in hiding, and your old lab seemed like a place he knew no one would look for him—except for maybe you. Mew floated over and placed a hand on Oak’s shoulder, comforting him. We will find him professor. You, me, and Red.

    Red blinked hard. Had he heard Mew right? Had Mew just said Red was going to help find Oak’s missing grandson? He couldn’t have heard that, he reassured himself, but just as he settled with this explanation Oak burst it by saying.

    “Red?”

    Mew nodded. I believe Red can be a powerful ally for our cause, but there is little time to waste. If I stay in one spot for too long it can sense my presence. Mew glanced over to Red, who was standing feeling both incredibly flattered and suddenly very afraid again. If he wasn't dumbstruck by confusion and fear he might have asked what "it" was. We need to leave immediately.

    “Where to?” Oak asked, as if the decision was already made.

    Ecruteak City.

    “Will he have help there?” Oak asked.

    “Wait,” Red said, finally steeling his courage. “What is going on? Where am I going— who am I helping? Where is Ecruteak City? And what can sense Mew’s presence?”

    The girl can explain it all. Mew replied, which answered exactly zero of the questions and raised a new one: who was the girl.

    Oak ran his weathered fingers across the grey stubble of his chin. “He is bright— and he never let his fear overtake him tonight, that is certainly commendable. You're certain? It is a terrible task to ask any child... we must be certain.”

    Mew nodded. I am certain—but it is not my choice. It is Red’s.

    Oak nodded and turned to Red. Suddenly he felt like he was in an interrogation room and he was about to be grilled. But if this was an interrogation, he wasn’t sure who the bad cop was because Mew seemed impossible to anger, and Oak smiled warmly as usual. Perhaps the bad cop would be the it that was tracking Mew.

    “Red, I know this is all very strange, and I wish I could ask a task of this magnitude and give you several months to think about it, but as Mew said earlier, time is short. Not everything will make sense to you right away,” said Oak. “But in time, you will understand the purpose. For now all I can tell you is that this world is not the world humans, or Pokémon deserve. This world is a terrible place, ruled by terrible forces, but it is not all lost; there is a rebellion. The battles are hard but together we hope to turn this world around and go back to the times when Pokémon and man kind lived peacefully together.”

    “How can I help?” Red asked, feeling suddenly smaller than he ever had in his life. Even if he understood—and wanted to help—he was an ant under the boot of a giant compared to even the weaker Pokémon on the Route past Pallet. Imagining going up against something like Mew or Dragonite was enough to make his knees weak.

    “You become a Pokémon trainer,” Oak said, reaching into his belt and pulling out another Pokeball. “There was time when I used to give out starter Pokémon to young trainers. I don’t have any of the Pokémon I used to give away anymore, but a friend of mine gave me this Pokémon. He is extremely rare, and unique, even for his species. I think he will be very helpful for you.”

    The Pokeball gleamed under the flickering light of the fires behind them. The thought that there was a Pokémon inside that could belong to Red frightened and excited him. He felt his hand reaching instinctively for the ball.

    He pulled back.

    “I—I can’t,” he sputtered.

    It’s okay to be afraid. Mew said softly. You should be; the journey will not be safe, and it will not be easy. But I will be with you, and so will the Pokémon you meet that agree to join you.

    “Not to mention people like me,” Oak said seriously. “The world might be a bad place, but it still has good people. There are plenty of people willing to help stil. Even if it is something as small as feeding an old tired man and giving him a roof over his head for a night.”

    Red smiled weakly. “That was different—and besides, it was my mother’s idea. I would have never let you stay.”

    “Good,” Oak said. “I was trouble, I admitted that. You have good instincts, they will serve you well.”

    “But--.”

    “Red, we don’t have time to quarrel. If you don’t want to do it fine, but my grandson is missing and Mew is in more danger with every second that passes. The world needs the help of anyone willing to step up and stand against the darkness. If you’re not willing I understand, but you have to decide now—no more debating.”

    The fear Red felt bubbling inside of him made his head spin, but there was something else there too; the strange feeling of purpose that he had felt before as he followed Oak to his lab which had grown even stronger when he saw Mew burst from underneath the truck.

    He swallowed hard and told the fear to be quiet. He needed to listen to what his heart seemed to be trying to tell him. He might have looked silly, but he didn’t care; he took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and listened. The time that passed was brief in reality, but in his head he had an hour-long debate. Yes, he was scared, and it was hard to ignore that feeling, but when he listened through the loud empty shouts that was the fear, he heard something far more powerful pulling his heart. He had a chance to be a part of something important, a chance to change the world that had taken his father, and so many other innocent people from their loved ones... a chance to give his mother back the world she had once loved even if he could never give her back the man she had loved.

    He nodded seriously and took the Pokeball. It felt strangely warm in his hand.

    “My mom needs to know that I am okay—she needs to know what is happening.” He looked from Mew to Oak with as fearless of a look as he could muster. “It is the only way I will go.”

    Mew nodded. I will take care of that—but after we get you to Eurekreak.

    Red nodded. “Okay,” he said. “Let’s go.”

    “Hold on,” Oak said, scrambling through his coat pockets to find something. After several pockets he finally pulled out a small red hand held device. “This is a pokedex,” he explained, handing it over to Red. “It has information on every known Pokémon— use it often.”

    Red nodded. “Thank you Professor.”

    Oak nodded. “Thank you Red. My grandson is out there somewhere, together we will find him.”

    We must go now. Mew said, floating up to Red and placing a hand on his shoulder.

    “Okay,” Oak said, looking very serious. “Be careful, both of you—and Red,” he softened now, back to the smile he had flashed when Red had first met the strange Poké- mon professor. “Remember: this is a Pokémon world, even if other’s have forgotten that.”

    Red nodded, smiling weakly, and then Mew teleported. Before Samuel Oak could even blink Red Pallet and the Legendary Pixie Pokémon of Kanto were gone from the continent entirely, and Red’s journey had officially begun.
     
  3. Required

    Required Lot 10 Underground Editor/Head Writer

    ...no readers so far. Good thing I have no self-respect, otherwise this might crush me a little. Oh well, if nothing else I am catching up on my editing skills. Shadow readers, enjoy:


    Chapter Three

    Experience Points​

    Teleporting would have been jarring no matter the circumstance—like being plucked up suddenly by an unseen hand and tossed faster than the speed of light to a new location—but Red’s first experience with it was even more unpleasant because he had left Pallet on a hot and muggy night and landed in the wooded outskirts of Ecruteak during what Red could only assume was the worst blizzard in human record; the snow came down from the sky in droves as a harsh wind blew through the powder covered trees, biting at his face, arms, legs, and wherever else the spiteful storm could find exposed flesh.

    I’ve made a horrible mistake, he thought miserably—and for a moment he thought things were even worse because in the storm he didn’t see Mew. I’m alone, and I am going to freeze to death!

    I have not left you Red, a cheerful voice said in his head. He was then aware of the feeling he had whenever Mew was nearby. He turned towards the feeling and saw the small outline of the mythical Pokémon floating a few feet away.

    I didn’t mean to land this far away from the city, Mew explained, laughing casually. I am a little rusty, I suppose. I meant to land in Oak’s lab earlier tonight and somehow wound up under that truck. It shrugged its tiny shoulders. Can’t be helped, I suppose.

    “Aren’t you cold?” Red asked aloud through chattering teeth. He was already losing feeling in his hands.

    Mew shook its head. No. The bubble protects me.

    Red saw now that the nearly translucent bubble Mew floated in was, in fact, causing the snow to fall in a different patter, around the bubble, so that neither snow nor cold wind ever touched the small Pokémon.

    “W--well I d-don’t h-have a b-bubble,” Red said spitefully.

    Oh yes—of course. The bubble around Mew grew suddenly and continued growing until it had fit entirely around Red. The change was immediate; Red’s flesh got a break from the storm and his internal temperature stopped its free fall; it was however, still very cold, but not so cold that his life was in danger anymore.

    Thanks, he said in his mind, because his teeth were still chattering loudly. Where are we?

    Ecruteak—an ancient city in Johto.

    “J-Johto!” Red shouted. He had only hours ago been asleep in his bed, a whole continent away. “Is this where Blue is?”

    Mew shook his head. No, it is where the girl is.

    “w-who is t-the g-girl?” Red asked.

    She is one of us, Mew replied cryptically—frustrating Red. It seemed to sense this because it added, she will help us find Blue.

    Red had warmed back enough to stop his teeth from chattering, and he could even feel the ends of his fingers again. Where is she?

    In Ecruteak.

    Okay, thought Red, recovering from shock enough to continue the conversation in his head even if he was still terribly confused and thrown off kilter by all of the things in his life that were changing; he had met Professor Oak, been attacked by Team Rocket, been saved by Dragonite and Mew, been chosen to go on an adventure, and given a Pokémon of his own along with the strange encyclopedia that Oak had called a Pokedex.

    His hand touched the Pokeball in his pocket. He felt a spark of strange excitement; he owned a Pokémon, a creature that could help him on a great journey, a creature that could help him be a part of something far grander then the daily grind that was life in Pallet…a creature just like the creatures that had killed his dad. He let that thought linger, wondering if he had made the right choice to come with Mew.

    Mew must have sensed his sudden confliction because it said, I think you should meet your partner.

    At first Red wasn’t sure what it meant, but then, realizing he met the Pokémon held within the Pokeball he shrugged. I don’t know.

    It won’t bite—we’re not all bad.

    He felt embarrassed. Of course Mew had sensed his thoughts, felt his mistrust towards Mew’s own kind. I’m sorry, he apologized. It’s just all so new for me.

    It is okay. We will take it a step at a time.

    Red nodded thankfully, though he wondered how small these steps were considering he was already in a whole different country. Deciding Mew was right however, he withdrew the Pokeball from his Pocket. Oak had made releasing a Pokémon look easy, but he had decades worth of experience over Red, and it took Red several attempts to figure out he needed to hold the button down to enlarge it. With it ready to go, he tossed it into the air, careful not to send his new Pokémon out into the storm, and the flash of red transformed into something small at his feet.

    The creatures most prevalent feature was brown, as every part of it seemed to be different shades of the color; It had a brown furry coat, a bushy brown tail, and a tuft of creamy-brown fur like a mane around its neck and at the end of its tail. It had eyes so brown they were nearly black, and two long, brown ears.

    “Ee-vee,” it purred, looking curiously at Red for a moment before it shot back and bared two sharp fangs.

    “Mew!” Red cried out, afraid he was about to be mauled by the small Pokémon.

    Mew giggled and floated in-between Red and the Pokémon. When his Pokémon saw Mew it purred softly and lowered its head in a bow just like Dragonite had earlier that night. Red took the moment to pull out his Pokedex and open it up. He had expected to struggle to run the contraption but it seemed to sense the Pokémon on its own because when he opened it up a picture of the same type of Pokémon was already on his screen.

    “Eevee: the Evolution Pokémon. Its genetic code is irregular. It may evolve in a number of different ways depending on the stimuli.”

    “Evolve?” Red said, perplexed. He thought the term was familiar, perhaps, but its meaning seemed just out of his reach.

    “Wonderful,” the Pokedex responded in its dry, robotic voice. “What sort of half-rate trainer has Oak sent me with this time? You haven’t even heard of Evolving? I deserve better then this you know.”

    Unsure of how to answer, and a little embarrassed, Red shut the Pokedex and slipped it back into his pocket. “So it is called Eevee?” he asked, dropping down on a knee in the snow to get a better look at the small Pokémon.

    It looked at him carefully with its dark chocolate eyes and said, “Ee-vee!” in the direction of Mew. Mew laughed gleefully. It wishes me to tell you that it is a boy Red.

    “Oh,” Red said, blushing. “My bad—wait, you can understand it?”

    Of course I can—and you will be able to as the two of you grow closer. The Pokémon language and human language were not always so different. There was a time when they were more like separate dialects than a whole new language. In fact, humans got their alphabet from Pokémon.

    “Really?” Red asked, surprised by how little he knew about the world around him. “So some day when he says Eevee I will know he actually means he is happy, or mad, or whatever?”

    Mew nodded and Eevee growled something else. He wished for me to tell you that right now he is worried you are a bad trainer and angry at Oak for leaving him with you—oh that’s not very nice Eevee, I really shouldn’t have translated that.

    “Great,” Red groaned. “It already hates me.”

    Mew giggled. It’s part of being a trainer Red—you have to earn each other’s trust. Now we really should get going. It is sure to be looking for me again.

    What is it? Red asked as Mew turned away from the woods and Red was pulled along with it. The snow was thick, and he was thankful that he was in the bubble and not outside walking through the tall drifts that built up in-between rows of trees.

    It is not important. Not right now anyway. The only thing you need to concern yourself is finding the girl so we can find Blue.

    It sounds important—and scary. Why else would we keep running from it?

    “<Ee—eevee—ee.>” Eevee called from below his feet. It looked up at him spitefully, and he was sure that if Mew wasn’t there it would have attacked him, or ran away, or both.

    Eevee says it is rude to keep it out of the conversation.

    I thought you would have included it like before with Oak.

    I thought if you wanted Eevee to hear you would have spoken aloud.


    Red sighed in frustration and again apologized to his Pokémon. “I didn’t mean to offend you. I thought you could hear my thoughts.”

    “<Evee. Evee. Eeevee.>” it replied, before whipping its tail in his direction and facing away from him.

    It says that if--- oh that’ awful Eevee I am not telling him that.

    Red took out his Pokeball and returned his Eevee. The last sight he saw of the small creature was it looking darkly in his direction before it disappeared in a flash of light.

    He is a bit high strung, isn’t he? Mew said. Oh well—I am sure Oak wouldn’t have given him to you if he wasn’t helpful.

    Red nodded, though he felt a little skeptical. Oak had said that Eevee would be a powerful ally, but right now he couldn’t see it. By the way—you don’t get off that easy, Red said to Mew. What is the It that is chasing you?

    It is an enemy, and very powerful, but not the one we must fight—it is only a weapon. The girl will explain most of your questions. The rest you will find with time.

    Why can’t you tell me? Red asked

    I think it would be better if the girl did, Mew replied. Though Mew never spoke in a harsh tone their was a finality to the way it said it that made Red know better than to ask any more—like the look his mother gave him when he went just a little too far.

    They moved silently out of the words and into a great, open patch of snow. They floated over it for several minutes before the wind blew up a large patch of snow and Red managed to see a thick layer of ice bellow; they were hovering over a large body of water—a lake, or the sea… he wasn’t very familiar with Johto’s landscape. The thought of studying it had never even crossed his mind. The thought of leaving Pallet seemed so far fetched only hours ago. They floated silently, the wind howling all around them, until the shape of the city finally started to come into form, drifting slowly into reality like a mirage, or an after image, blurred by the constant blowing snow. At first, under the cover of the storm, Ecruteak seemed no larger than Pallet, but as they drew closer it grew and grew, and soon, even with his vision limited by the storm, Red could see it was far larger than he first imagined.

    They were nearly to their first building, a mere clump of darkness among the casting snow, when Mew stopped and turned to Red. This is as far as I go.

    “What?” Red asked, sure he hadn’t heard correctly.

    I can’t go any farther—and I must leave soon or it will find me.

    “No,” Red said, shaking his head vehemently. He hadn’t come all this way just to be abandoned; he had so many questions, and the girl Mew promised would answer them could be anywhere in the city. “You can’t just leave me here.”

    Red, if I were to stay much longer I would put you in terrible danger. I need to shake it—but I will be back.

    “So what am I supposed to do?” Red asked, sounding as weak as he felt.

    Find the girl.

    Then Mew was gone and Red was alone, walking through a storm he could have never imagined, in a city he had never visited. It was his first day as a Pokémon trainer.

    He hoped it would go up from here.

    ******​

    Having spent most of his life under the relentless sun that ruled over Pallet, Red had never even imagined being as cold as he was as he walked down the abandoned streets of Ecruteak. The snow had turned to hail, which beat down on him and left small welts on his neck and cheek. It seemed almost as if the storm didn’t want Red to make it any farther into town and as the cold set in he was quite certain he wasn’t going to make it much farther than a few blocks. The streets may have been the same red gravel that made up Pallet’s roads, or maybe they were paved, or cobbled, it was impossible to tell under the cover of the storm—and his vision of the buildings around him wasn’t much better: shadows of structures obscured by howling snow. Most of the street was casted in darkness but a few homes had lights on, and in this weak light Red was able to make out the framework of the Machiya style home. Even though his view was little more than a wire framed blue-print, and his mind was numbing with the cold, the timelessness of the home impressed him.

    He pushed on, and soon the cold overtook what little pleasure he took from being in a place so different than the only home he had ever known. He was growing dangerously cold, and began to grow angry with Mew for dropping him off in this storm without even a hint as to where he needed to go. Maybe this was all just one big prank, or cruel joke, and Mew would show up soon, laughing, and take Red back to Pallet—or worse, he would die in this street, the storm covering his remains, and not be found for weeks.

    It seemed more and more likely to be the second of these two option when he rounded another street corner. He passed one of the few houses who had a light on, shining through a front window like a beacon of warmth. He turned to the home, realizing he was going to have to try to talk his way in or freeze to death outside, but just as he did, the door swung open, got caught by the wind and slammed hard against the house. A voice, ignoring the door, called out to him.

    “Hey! Are you crazy! Your going to freeze to death!” The man behind the voice stepped out, his body blurred under the sideways blowing snow, and ran towards Red. “Hurry up, follow me inside.”

    Red wasn’t going to argue. It seemed impossible that his numb legs could even still carry his weight, let alone move, but they did their job in the end and brought him past the doorway, into the warmth of the house. He collapsed against the door as the stranger closed it, and only then did he begin to really feel how cold his body was. His face was so windburn—bordering on frostbitten—that it was as if he had worked out in the Pallet sun without sunblock for an entire day. His limbs were numb, and his lungs sucked for air painfully.

    The stranger whistled. “I don’t know what you were doing out there son but I am glad I looked outside when I did. Foolish of you, you know that? I don’t think you would have lasted much longer. Where are you from?”

    He looked at Red with tired, careful eyes. He was tall, and slouched, with a mess of grey hair and a patchy beard that looked almost as if they were glued on. Red was about to ask him how he knew he wasn’t from Ecruteak when he realized that anyone from Ecruteak would have been smart enough to not venture out into the storm.

    “Er—no where close,” he said, not sure how much truth he should tell the man, thankful as he was for the help.

    He nodded. “I should say so—venturing out in a storm like this.” He pushed his glasses up from the tip of his nose so that he could look more carefully at Red. “That isn’t a normal storm out there; it’s those darn Articuno—you ever hear of them?”

    Red shook his head no—and the thought crossed his mind that he could ask his Pokedex, but he dismissed it quickly, not wanting to get ridiculed again. He was also worried it might make the man ask him questions Red shouldn’t answer.

    “Oh—well, they are legendary birds. There can only be a few of them left on the planet, and since the whole word got turned upside down the whole lot of them have decided to nest on Mt. Mortar. Since then the whole town has known nothing but cold. Even on our best days we get a light flurry.”

    “So they’re er… snow Pokémon?” Red asked, feeling stupid. If he was going to be a Pokémon trainer he needed to get this stuff down.

    “Ice-type,” the man said, “but who cares, anymore. Snow, ice, slush—it’s the cold one.”

    Red nodded. “Well—thanks for helping me Mr. —er?”

    “Bernard.”

    “Red.”

    He had regained enough feeling in his hand to extend it to shake his savior's hand. Bernard returned the handshake, his touch like a fire compared to Red’s, and then he helped Red to his feet.

    “What brings you to Ecruteak?”

    “Just passing through.”

    “That’s pretty dangerous business these days—how did you get past the Rocket checkpoints?”

    So Team Rocker’s power extended all the way to Johto. Red had heard rumors, sure, but nothing concrete; in Pallet, the few citizens who remained exchanged gossip and rumors like stocks in a bull market.

    “They didn’t ask me to stop,” he answered lamely, because he hadn’t the slightest idea what a true Team Rocket checkpoint looked like—having only had to deal with the organization in the periphery until a few hours ago. “Guess the storm gave them something better to do.”

    Bernard pushed his glasses up onto the bridge of his nose again. They gleamed with the light of the burning fire behind him. He looked directly into Red’s eyes, as if they would tell him a truth Red’s mouth would not, but he didn’t ask a follow up. He just smiled and said, “would you like some supper Red?”

    Red stomach growled loudly, answering the question as well as he could have ever hoped to. Bernard laughed and lead him to a spot in front of the fire where he was told to sit to stay warm, and then Bernard left only to return with two steaming bowls of soup. They sat by the fire and sipped carefully on the hot broth. It was not his mother’s soup, but it wasn’t terrible.

    “So is it just you who lives here?” Red asked.

    “It is my home,” Bernard answered, “but I often have visitors coming and going—I used to be the director of a dance hall and I made many friends in my years running the hall.”

    “That was before the Cataclysm?”

    At the word, Bernard flinched, as if Red had casted one of the red hot embers warming them onto his lap. “Yes—it was before… the Pokémon fell. Before Team Rocket took over.”

    “I don’t remember that much,” Red admitted honestly.

    “I don’t expect you would. It was a long time ago now.”

    Bernard looked distantly into the burning flame and a silence fell over them. Red knew he had caused with his talks of the past, so he decided to shut up and eat his soup before he offended Bernard so badly that he found himself back in the storm. He finished his first bowl and Bernard offered him a second—which he obliged. Even if he wasn’t hungry, the warm liquid comforted his still chilled body as it settled into his gut.

    He was nearly done with his second bowl when there was a knock on the door. Bernard looked up, confused, and then the door flung open as it had before when Bernard had called out to him, and three burly men walked in wearing thick winter coats, the only visible part of them being their face, which were really just thick beards and large, blood shot eyes.

    “What is the meaning of this,” Bernard asked, standing up and making his way quickly between the men--- who were all at least twice his size—and Red. “I am quite certain I paid my dues early this month.”

    “Dues have rose,” the man in the middle grunted, and even though Red was ten feet away he could smell the foul odor of his breath: rotting meat and alcohol.

    Bernard looked conflicted—caught between lividness and fear. “You can’t--.”

    “We can do whatever we damn well want,” said the skinniest of the men, standing on the right.

    “If you don’t like it, do something about it,” the third man said. He smiled, revealing two rows of toothless gums. “Make my day.”

    Bernard glanced over to Red and sighed. “No—it’s okay. How much?”

    “Double,” the middle man, who appeared to be the leader, grunted.

    Bernard had been walking over to a small desk near the window overlooking the street but at the declaration of the price he shot his head back—then caught sight of Red again. Deciding better against arguing, Bernard made his way to the desk and pulled out a stack of cash. He handed it over to the man, leaving only a few bills left in his hand.

    “Might as well just give me the rest as an advance for next month, don’t you think?” the middle man said, his breath filling the room like a toxic cloud.

    “You can’t be se--.”

    Bernard never finished the sentence, because the man shifted his weight and punched Bernard in the face with a strike far faster than anyone his size should have been able to move. Bernard’s head snapped violently and his tall, skinny body flopped to the ground with a heavy thud. A small pool of blood formed under his face as he lay on the ground unconscious.

    The man sneered at Red and bent down to grab the left over money.

    Now, until that moment Red had never really been pressed by a true fight or flight moment. Even in Oak’s lab, Oak had protected him with Dragonite so that escaping the situation was never really his decision to make. Red glanced down once at Bernard, the man that had opened his home to him out of the goodness of his heart and the general moral belief that a fifteen-year old boy shouldn’t be left to freeze to death. Bernard was breathing, but his lip was swollen and badly cut.

    He was pissed—and in that moment he didn’t care about how big the men were, or how they outnumbered him three-to-one in numbers and a combined thousand pounds in weight. He didn’t know why they were there—only that they shouldn’t have hurt Bernard.

    “Eevee!” he shouted, surprised that his first instinct was to call upon his Pokémon.

    Eevee burst out in a flash of light and the men froze. Eevee seemed to sense the situation because he bared his teeth at the men. They fell against the wall, wound up like springs about to explode. Red thought for a moment that they might pull out Pokémon of their own, but it became apparent quickly that he was the only trainer in the room. He smiled, “I bet you didn’t see this coming, did you?”

    But what happened next, even Red didn’t expect.

    Eevee began to glow, and then its body—still gleaming like a star in a clear night—grew, only to form as a new Pokémon; a Pokémon whose fur now matched the burning fire keeping the house warm. The house immediately began to get warmer.

    “<Fl-Flareon!>!” It yelled at Red. He didn’t have the slightest idea what it was saying, so he just said, “Er—attack!”

    It obeyed. Cocking its head back, it released a stream of embers that struck the toothless man right in the face; the room smelled immediately of burnt flesh and burning hair as he fell screaming to the ground.

    And then Red’s Eevee—which seemed now to go by Flareon-- began to glow again. Its body shrunk, the fur going razor sharp, its once brown, then red coat now a bright yellow, and without missing a beat it shot a burst of electricity at the skinny man, who took the shock in the chest and crumbled with only a muffled grunt.

    And yet again, Eevee glowed. This time when it finished it was the color of the sea, with a white frill around its neck and a long dorsal-fin for a tail. The last man, the man who had punched Bernard, was stumbling back towards the door. Eevee—or whatever it was now—opened its fanged mouth and released a jet stream of water that struck the man dead center, launching him off his feet, through the door, and onto the street where he landed violently in the snow, rolling several times before he finally came to a stop, his body nearly complete soaked and covered in water.

    The ruckus had caused quite a scene, and all along the street, lights were turning on as people wondered out to see what was going on. A few men ran through the snow to check on the man who lay unconscious in the street; his two compatriots were groaning in pain on the floor.

    Bernard had sat up now, his face flush of color; his gaze fixed on Eevee, who was now back to his regular, brown, furry self. Blood dripped down the corner of Bernard's mouth and fell to his lap but he hardly seemed to notice. “Red,” he said through his swollen lip. “I think you best return your Eevee and go upstairs for a bit. I’ll call you back down when it is safe.”

    Red nodded, deciding better then to argue. People were beginning to make their way towards Bernard’s house, which was the epicenter of the event. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to be doing other than finding the girl, but he was certain a huge crowd of people knowing he was a Pokémon trainer wasn’t going to help.

    He called Eevee back and scurried up the stairs. He had won his first match. Of course, it had been against three unarmed men, but he wasn’t going to split hairs.

    Beggars can’t be choosers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018 at 5:39 AM

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