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The Devil Went Down to Johto (Platonic 2017)

The Teller

King of Half-Truths
So this was my entry for the Platonic contest, which placed a whopping 6th place out of seven (so I got you beat there, Nerdy McNerdface!). I'm posting it here unedited for all to see exactly what the judges saw. Mainly they said that it needed fleshing out and seeing more friendship in a friendship contest. And more Elm. Always more Elm. I also wanted to make sure it got in before the 2017 deadlines close tonight. The title is based on that ole folk song, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which I thought would represent what happens in the story pretty well. You can decide for yourselves if that's the case. The narrator speaks in "we's" and "I's" just like the anime narrator does, which is intentional, as I wanted this to feel like an episode of the anime (maybe perhaps one of those special, hour-long episodes). Well, enough chitter chatter. On with the story!

The Devil Went Down to Johto

It’s another warm and sunny day here in New Bark Town, Johto! The trees sway slightly with the strong breeze that’s passing through, the Hoothoot fast asleep, gripping the tree branch with one claw, and the rare Pineco awaiting for the poor insect prey to come too close. We find ourselves at Professor Elm’s laboratory, where starter Pokémon, meant to be given out to new trainers today, are anxious to see how the day plays out. We close in to see a playpen where a Chikorita, Cyndaquil, and Totodile are prancing about, excited for the day to have come.

“Today will be the day!” says Chikorita, his voice deep and gruff. “I’ll be chosen and when a few days, I’ll have singlehandedly beaten all the gym leaders of Johto and taking on the Elite Four themselves!”

“Um…” comes Cyndaquil, his voice softer and unsure, “I hope that my trainer doesn’t overdo it with the training. I hope they have a nice team of friendly Pokémon that all want to work together.”

“Girl, honey, sugar pie, sweetie,” blares Totodile, her commanding voice barreling over Cyndaquil’s and completely drowning him out, “if you can beat the most powerful trainers around just by yourself, then Johto’s really as weak as that Kalosian trainer said it is. And I’m gonna do the same without breaking a sweat or evolving!”

Chikorita extends two of his vines.

“What’d you say?! You mocking me, Totodile?! Pokémon battle, right now! You and me!”

“And risk bruising my beautiful face for my new trainer, baby? Never! Plus, wouldn’t it look bad for you if the trainers come in and you’re still hiding in the corner, licking the bruises I would hand you to?”

Cyndaquil tries to step in to mediate.

“Now now, let’s not fight…”

“I think SOMEONE’S itching for a bruising, and it ain’t me!” bellows Chikorita.

“Girl, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself!” counters Totodile, wagging a claw in front of Chikorita.

Professor Elm opens the door and immediately knocks over an enormous pile of research papers on the added effect of Flame Body on egg hatching.

“Oh, fiddlesticks! Not again. I just reorganized that pile.”

He turns to the starters.

“Well guys, today’s the day! Huh?”

He sees that Chikorita and Totodile are about to go at each other’s throats again.

“Are you two at it again? Why can’t you be more civil like Cyndaquil here?”

He walks over and picks Cyndaquil up, stroking his head gently.

“You’ll have all the time in the world to battle once you get your own trainers and set out into the wide world. Who knows? Maybe your trainers will become rivals and you’ll get plenty of times to battle each other!”

He sets Cyndaquil back down into the playpen.

“Until then, though, no fighting. I don’t want to have to tell a new trainer that his or her first Pokémon is already at the Pokémon Center. Now then…”

He brandishes three Poké Balls.

“Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile, return!”

The three go into their Poké Balls and the professor turns around to head out, knocking over an expensive microscope onto the ground. It lands on the pile of papers he had just knocked over. Elm sighs, exhausted and thankful that his clumsiness saved him a fortune for once.

Soon after, we found ourselves in the lobby area of the lab. Elm has the Poké Balls set up and everything is in order. Everybody is just waiting for the new trainers to stop by. Eventually, a young boy steps into the lab. Elm goes over to greet him and immediately trips over his own two feet, sending him crashing onto the floor in a heap.

“Ack! Not the first impression I wanted to impart.”

He picks himself up and greets the boy.

“Hello! I’m Professor Elm, the Johto region’s professor, but your mother probably already told you that.”

He looks at the boy and behind him.

“Um…aren’t there supposed to be more of you coming? I thought we had a couple more new trainers coming today?”

The boy shrugs.

“I don’t know of anyone else coming. I thought it was just me.”

“Oh, well, perhaps Professor Oak made a mistake in his email to me. It just means that there won’t be a bunch of you fighting over your selections today, am I right?”

Elm gives a small laugh at his observation and the boy gives one back politely. Elm ushers the boy over to the three Poké Balls.

“Inside each of these is a Pokémon. You can choose only one to take with you, and they will be your very first Pokémon, so choose wisely.”

He taps on each of the Poké Balls, activating them.

“Come on out, everybody!”

The starters all come out and give out a cry.

“I’m the strongest!” says Chikorita.

“H-hello,” stutters Cyndaquil.

“Let’s hit the road, darling!” comes Totodile.

The three look around and see only one child.

“Where’s the other two?” asks Totodile.

“I don’t know…” replies Cyndaquil.

“Wow, I’ve never seen these outside of books before!” says the boy.

“Haha, yeah, they’re wonderful creatures, Pokémon,” replies Elm.

“But I’ve already decided,” says the boy, picking up Cyndaquil, “that I want Cyndaquil to be my starter Pokémon!”

“What!” demands Chikorita.

“Me?” asks Cyndaquil, in disbelief.

“Oh, the fire-type Cyndaquil, huh?” pipes up Elm. “That’s a very good choice!”

“Professor! Are you suggesting that I’m NOT a ‘very good choice’?!” fires back Chikorita.

“Excellent against Bugsy and Pryce, whom I’m sure you’ll meet later,” continues Elm.

“Thank you for choosing me,” says Cyndaquil.

He turns his head around to his two friends.

“I’ll miss you both. I won’t forget our promise. I’ll keep in contact as much as I can.”

“Oh baby doll, I don’t want you to go!” cries Totodile. “I already miss you SO much! You take care of yourself out there, you hear?!”

“It’s fine if you get a head start, Cyndaquil!” says Chikorita. “You need it! I’ll be out of here soon and we’ll see each other again and battle!”

Both Cyndaquil and Totodile can tell that Chikorita is holding back tears.

“Okay everybody, back into the balls you go!” says Elm. “Well, our new star trainer, let’s get you set up for your very own Pokémon adventure!”

And that was that.

The following day, we see Chikorita and Totodile in the playpen, looking more lonely than usual. Professor Elm walks into the room, immediately spilling both a stack of papers on the validity of old Unovan lore and a mostly filled and stale can of Soda Pop onto the floor. Elm sighs.

“I really should invest in one of those automatic sliding doors,” he says to himself.

He then looks at the two Pokémon.

“Then again, I wouldn’t put it past the two of you to stage a breakout as soon as that happens, would I?”

“Professor,” says Chikorita, “I am shocked and appalled that you would think-”

“First chance, honey,” interrupts Totodile.

Elm chuckles to himself.

“Well, I know you both miss Cyndaquil a lot, so I’m glad to see you both taking it so well. How about we go to the forest today to explore for new Pokémon?”

“Cyndaquil would’ve loved for us to go exploring,” says Totodile.

“Yeah, let’s do it for him,” says Chikorita.

“Wonderful! I’m glad you two are so excited about this,” says Elm.

We then cut to the nearby forest located just north of New Bark Town. A flock of Pidgey, led by a Pidgeot, flies overhead. Professor Elm is walking down a dirt path, his pants already muddy from him having fallen over after tripping over a pebble. Beside him are Chikorita and Totodile, looking around in all directions for undiscovered Pokémon.

“I’m just sure of it that we’ll find some newly discovered Pokémon today!” beams Elm.

Suddenly, he hears some rustling in the nearby bushes.

“There it is!” he says, and he leaps into the bushes, scurrying around for his new discovery.

Just as Chikorita and Totodile turn towards his direction, they hear a whisper on the winds.

“I’m over here…”

It sounds like a boy and a girl are both talking at the same time.

“Huh? Did you hear that, Totodile?” asks Chikorita.

“Girl, I’m not deaf! You know I heard it, too! It sounded like it was coming from over there,” replies Totodile, walking towards where the voice had come from.

The two walk through fields of tall grass, following the voices as it grew louder.

“I’m just beyond the meadow. Please find me.”

Eventually, we find Chikorita and Totodile exiting the tall meadow and come across a small clearing. On all sides besides behind them there is a dense forest and in front of them is a large, tall, old, twisting tree. There are no sounds of any Pokémon nearby.

“Hey, we’re here!” yells Chikorita.

Slowly, a Pokémon materializes above them, seemingly out of thin air, hovering above the tree. It is long like Ekans, but much larger, with spikes running along its sides. Three, black, scarf-like appendages sprout from the back of its neck, with what looked like its ribcage encasing around the neck entirely. The face is hidden behind a golden mask, with beady red eyes peering out from behind it.

“I know,” it says, its tone now changed to something more akin to a high-pitched man a little too excited to be selling candy to small children.

The two remain undaunted.

“Are you the strange critter who told us to come here?” asks Totodile.


Chikorita turns to Totodile.

“He’s certainly not a Pokémon I’ve ever seen before.”

He turns back to Giratina.

“You should come meet the professor! He’s a total weirdo, like you, but you warm up to him eventually.”

Giratina writhes in place.

“The human…who gave away your friend…”

“What?!” says Totodile.

“How’d you know about that?” demands Chikorita.

“I have…the power…to bring him back…To make all…as it was…To recreate…the both of you…into the more powerful versions…of yourself…”

Chikorita and Totodile look at each other. What exactly is this Pokémon implying here? Bringing back Cyndaquil? Allowing them to evolve into their final forms? Could one Pokémon really be able to do all of that?

“The offer…is yours…”

“We refuse!” shouts Chikorita.

Giratina remains silent.

“That’s right, sugar! Our friend’s life is his to live out!”

Giratina remains silent still.

“We were upset that Cyndaquil was separated from us, yeah,” continues Chikorita, “But we all knew that it would happen one day. Though we’re still upset, it’s not at Cyndaquil. It’s at the lazy trainers who never showed up to pick us! We’re happy for Cyndaquil, ‘cause he’s getting to live his dream just like we will someday.”

“That’s right, honey,” adds Totodile. “If Cyndaquil were here right now, we’d only wish him the best. Maybe some friendly ribbing. And as for that ‘ultimate power’ thing you were just talking about? No thanks. We intend to become powerful by our own merits. Cyndaquil would never let us hear the end of it if he found out we cheated into becoming the strongest. I plan on taking on the strongest trainers in the land with the knowledge that I earned those victories.”

And even still, Giratina remains silent. Chikorita and Totodile both look at the creature, not having anything else to add. Then, Giratina’s eyes glow a sinister red, and an unearthly yowl erupts from all directions. It is deep, reverberating, angry, and sounds nothing like Giratina. The two starters look everywhere for the source of the noise, but can’t find it. Giratina then starts to fade back into the shadows, slowly, bit by bit, leaving its glowing red eyes the last to dissolve. Giratina does not make a sound the entire time, and it is too ambiguous as to whether it was angry or not. It is simply as if it was never there at all. Chikorita and Totodile looked at each other in disbelief. Was it all a shared dream? A trick by a psychic Pokémon?

“Chikorita! Totodile! Where are you two?!” comes a distant voice.

It is Professor Elm’s. He was looking for them. The two decided to scamper back to where they were a few minutes ago, not wanting the professor to encounter THIS new discovery.

“THERE you two are! I’d thought I’d lost you…again.”

The professor looks worse for wear. The two could only imagine how much physical abuse he has endured by nature in such a short period of time.

“You look just fine to me, professor!” beams Chikorita.

“Sug’, we’re just fine on our own. Don’t be needing a babysitter for us every time you lose us,” says Totodile.

“So did you find any new Pokémon out there?!” Elm asks, his hopes and dreams about to burst with joy.

Chikorita and Totodile briefly look at one another and shake their heads.

“There ain’t one new friend out there we saw,” says Totodile.

“Maybe if we went in this totally different direction, we might find some!” yells Chikorita, stomping away towards another path in the woods.

“Wait up, Chikorita, wait up!” yells Elm.

We pull back amongst the trees to the long road they have ahead of them, and the sun is peaking beautifully at the end of the trail. I’d say that I cannot wait to see how Chikorita, Totodile, and Cyndaquil’s adventures begin and intersect! I’m sure it’ll be the most joyous reunion a set of three friends can have!

~The End
“Girl, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself!” counters Totodile, wagging a claw in front of Chikorita.

I like where this is going already ahaha

The language reminded me a bit of “Delibird’s Tales”, and I thought it was a great way to underscore the liveliness and playfulness of the whole fic. The Pokemon’s distinct voices really takes it up a notch, and even with a simple story it already gives them quite a lot of character to work with. Also, Elm might not have had a personality as overt as the starter Pokemon’s but he was still enjoyable to read.

That said, I agree with Bay that I thought you could’ve given Chikorita and Totodile some time to process losing Cyndaquil, as the shift from being sad in the lab to rejecting a deal with Giratina was a bit too quick for me. Granted, lingering on the more emotional side of the story would break the story’s playful tone, and I understand not doing so, but I still think the narrative as a whole would be better if that came into play. You already touch on it a bit with the “going outside because that’s what Cyndaquil wanted us to do” part, but I guess I wanted more like that so that the transition to the Giratina scene, and how that scene plays out in general, would be a bit smoother.

But overall it’s a cute one-shot and I am so happy that one of the first one-shots I read for 2018 has a Totodile telling a Chikorita to check herself before she wrecks herself. Good job, and congrats on participating in the contest! :)


Winter can't come soon enough
Right off the bat, I got a kick out of the starters' personalities. Chikorita is just as much of a tomboy as the anime made Ash's into, Cyndaquil is this very nervous little guy whose meek personality gels with his appearance (slouched over, eyes always shut), and Totodile is, uh, fabulous for lack of a better word (and puts that big mouth of his to good use). And, the banter between them is definitely entertaining. You write a pretty good Elm too. His sheepishness shows through, and though I think you overdid it a bit with the slapstick, that is, sadly, his most defining feature. With that said, I could see how some people might be a bit put off by some of it, especially Totodile. That "check yourself" bit, for example, did seems really bizarre for a Pokémon to do, considering this is a world that has humans, and that is most definitely a human thing. I understand they live around humans, but Elm is not exactly the type of person Totodile would pick up campy stuff up from.

I'm going to have to agree that I'd have liked to see more on the part of Chikorita and Totodile lamenting the lost of their friend. Because, at it stands, it's a bit too quick of a switch to the scene with the illusionary(?) Giratina. So, that mitigates the heartwarming feelings for me considerably. The other thing I need to address it the narration. You definitely took a risk opting to try and imitate the anime's narrator. And, initially, you channel the narrator perfectly. The opening descriptive bits of both scenes did feel like they were ripped right out of the anime. However, this proves to be a double-edged sword. Because, the rest of the time, the narration is normal. And I get that the narrator in the anime only shows up at the beginning and end of the (English) episodes. But including script-like directions such as "We pulll back" kind of knocked me out of the story a bit there, and they were jarring for what is not a story written in script format. Also, it struck me as off that the narrator is clearly omniscient... but somehow doesn't have a name for the trainer. It's a small thing, I admit, but it did confuse me when I saw it.

I should also point out (especially with how early into the story this is) this tidbit:
“I’ll be chosen and when a few days, I’ll have singlehandedly beaten all the gym leaders of Johto and taking on the Elite Four themselves!”
I think you're going for "and within a few days," but I'm not entirely sure here.

That said, it was still a very cute, charming little piece. And I'm glad it made its way into the contest, becaue the Johto starters could always use more love. ^^

The Teller

King of Half-Truths
But overall it’s a cute one-shot and I am so happy that one of the first one-shots I read for 2018 has a Totodile telling a Chikorita to check herself before she wrecks herself. Good job, and congrats on participating in the contest! :)

Chikorita is just as much of a tomboy as the anime made Ash's into, Cyndaquil is this very nervous little guy whose meek personality gels with his appearance (slouched over, eyes always shut), and Totodile is, uh, fabulous for lack of a better word (and puts that big mouth of his to good use).

Actually, you guys, Chikorita is a guy and Totodile is a girl in this story ;). The pronouns are there in the beginning to confirm this.

Anyway, thanks you two for the reviews! I agree that the relationship between the starters could have been fleshed out more, especially on the friendship aspect. I didn't realize the narrator aspect was so off-putting. And to Ambyssin, yes, I meant to say "within a few days." Sorry!