“Great, we’re lost!
“That’s what happens when you go by Miyazaki’s sense of navigation,
” Ein grouched.
“Hey, it’s not my fault! That guy in the Underground gave us lousy directions!
” the short-snout fairy defended his trainer well.
“I don’t need your input!
” Satoko snapped.
The Snubbull pouted its ugly face and, head hung, trudged away in a very depressed fashion. Satoko glared after it for exaggerating the situation.
The three assistants had found themselves lost within Goldenrod City. It had taken them five days to reach Saffron City, one to get the money for tickets to board the Magnet Train, and they had been wandering all over Goldenrod since morning trying to find a way to Route 35.
“Don’t you have any kind of map for a city on Data, Ein?
” Kentaro asked.
“I’ve been searching, but I’m afraid we’re out of luck. I would first need to pinpoint our exact location and since I can’t identify any of these buildings, I’m currently unable to do so.
The group heaved a heavy sigh, ignoring the Chimchar that was now chasing Snubbull in a refreshing game of tag. Suddenly, the green Pokegear around Ein’s neck rang and shook uncontrollably shouting, “Ring, ring, ring, phone call, phone call,” in a high-pitched voice. Incredulous glances were exchanged between the three of them before Ein finally answered it and put it on speakerphone.
“Hello? Can you hear me, Ein?
“Willow-sensei, is that you?
“Of course it’s me! No one else has your numbers! Listen, there is live feed coming from the Pokemonitor. I’ve been listening to the audio on it and I’ve figured out its location. The sneaky little thing is at the National Park. If you head north and take Route 35, you should reach the National Park within the hour. Where are you now?
“That’s the problem, Willow-sensei,
” Ein explained. “We don’t know where we are. We’ve been trying to find a way out of Goldenrod City since this morning.
“Since this morning, are you serious? Ein, what on earth has taken you three so long to get out of the city?
“Well, Professor, it wouldn’t have taken so long if every person we passed didn’t stop us to love on Satoko’s Snubbull!
From the other end of the line, they could hear Professor Willow burst with laughter. Satoko didn’t find it funny in the least bit and walked off haughtily to shout at Snubbull for digging around in the trashcan.
“Can you help us out, Willow-sensei?
” Kentaro leaned over the Pokegear.
“No problem! Give me a minute or two to trace your tracking devices.
The Professor’s voice was replaced by the click-clacking of the keyboard and the electronic sounds of Data processing information. Ein and Kentaro waited patiently while Satoko watched another strange, fat woman affectionately squeeze her Snubbull to an almost breathless state.
“Here we go! Which direction are you facing?
” Kentaro studied the sky, “south.
“Okay. I’ve got it. Turn to your left, take a right onto Poppy Street, and follow that until you reach the Flower Shop. Take one more left and you should be on Main Street. Stay on it and head north to Route 35 then you should arrive at National Park.
“Got it, Professor, thanks for the help!
“You’re welcome. Please, just hurry!
” Ein clicked off the Pokegear.
Satoko was giving her Snubbull in another disgusted leer by the time the phone call ended. The woman had left only a few seconds before and offered to take the Snubbull off the girl’s hands forever, but Satoko decided it was best to keep the wretched creature. After all, she would never hear the end of it from her co-workers or the professor if she had.
“Come on, Satoko! We’re getting out of this city,
” Kentaro grabbed her hand without warning and dragged her along.
Ein’s whistle signaled his fire-type chimp to him while the Snubbull darted after his trainer obediently. Together, the three of them did as their teacher had navigated.
It had been a good forty-five minutes into the competition. Mamoru had found several bugs and currently held a Competition Ball in his hand that contained a Butterfree. His Pidgeotto was full of energy after a couple of healthy sprays from a Super Potion the trainer had used only ten minutes ago. The bird cawed from above the tall grass, its fluffly wheat-colored breast heaving with the call.
“There’s another bug?
Out from the tall grass jumped a rather aggravated Venonat. It threatened him menacingly with its tiny fangs, but Mamoru showed no sign of a threat like the man that rushed out after it.
“Hey! Go get yer own bug, kid!
“I have my own bug,
” Mamoru smarted off.
“Good, ‘cause this one’s mine!
The Venonat took off into the grass once again along with the scrawny, forty-five year old bug catcher leaving the indecisive Mamoru to his thoughts. He stared at the Competition Ball insecurely. Would this Butterfree really win him the Sun Stone? His chocolate eyes swiveled over to the shorter grass where the girl his age who had entered last was battling a Butterfree with her own Pokemon. It was one that Mamoru had never seen before: a chameleon-looking creature with a red, erratic stripe across its chest. This meant that she must’ve been a tourist from a different region.
“Go, Kecleon, use Swift!
” it cried.
Several stars appeared over the Pokemon’s head and fired rapidly at the Butterfree. The two had been battling behind Mamoru for a good ten minutes before he had finally paid any attention to her. The butterfly, exhausted and aching from the battle, started to collapse to the ground, but the girl threw a Competition Ball. It wiggled several times until it ceased all movement at all, but there was no ‘ping’ to confirm the capture. For a moment, the girl started her cute victory dance because she felt it was safe to assume that the Pokemon had been caught. Unfortunately, the ball wiggled once again before finally spitting out a red light that took the shape of the Butterfree who flew off without delay.
” she pouted.
Mamoru stared at his own Butterfree and, getting an idea of how to impress the girl, walked over to her with a smile.
“Would you like mine? I caught it and I’m not sure I want to keep it, so you can have it if you wan—
“I don’t need your charity!
” Mamoru blinked blankly at the girl who had swatted his hand away.
“I can catch Pokemon all by myself. I don’t need anyone’s help! Come on, Kecleon.
The girl stuck her nose up in the air and trotted off with her Kecleon in-toe. Mamoru stared after her flabbergasted by her accusation. He hadn’t tried to insult her, but apparently she interpreted it that way. From afar, Kazuma and Mimi frowned in bewilderment. Though they had not heard the conversation, it was pretty clear that she had been rude for no reason to the child.
” the boy called out after her even though she had disappeared into the grass thicket.
” his Pidgeotto called down to him soothingly.
Somewhere among the tall grass, a Scyther had appeared. There was no scream from the girl to indicate that she was in danger, but there was a crude yell from an older boy almost immediately after. The Scyther propelled itself out of the reach of the human only to come face-to-face with Mamoru. From the way it hovered inches above the ground, the crowd could tell that this Scyther was livid.
” Mimi shouted fearfully, “get away from it!
The female started trying to climb over the fence, but Kazuma gripped her arm firmly and held her in her place.
“You can’t, Mimi, you’ll get hurt!
“Let go! He needs me! If I don’t help him—
“I’ll help him,
” Neku also was about to jump the fence, but the growl of his godfather stopped him in the blink of an eye.
“Don’t you do it, Neku! You’ll disqualify Mamoru. He knew what he was doing when he decided to go. Let’s show a little bit of faith in the boy. I haven’t been training him and Pidgeotto to just go out and catch a couple of Weedle, y’know.
Mimi exploded into tears at the thought of her little brother wounded. The young man removed his hand from the fence and, flustered from his godfather’s sudden idea to hand Mimi to him, wrapped his arms around her as she cried. He shushed her while swaying back and forth, his own eyes looking to the young boy that had fallen on his rump at the sight of the terrible Scyther.
“You dumb bug, get back here!
The voice belonged to an elite trainer with sharp, angled features, blonde hair fashioned in a popular haircut, and tattoos covering his tan arms. Swiftly, the boy reached behind him to his belt where he kept his supply of Competition Balls and tossed one at the Scyther. The mantis-like creature knocked it right back into the boy’s face followed up by a single False Swipe attack that knocked the trainer unconscious to the ground. Mamoru whimpered which only redirected the Scyther’s heated gaze back to him.
It raised a bladed arm to swipe in a diagonal cut forcing a scream of terror from the child. In the instant that it slashed at Mamoru, there was a powerful breeze that fluttered the top of the trainer’s hair before slicing the giant green bug. The bug stumbled backwards from the sudden impact and stared down at the gash that had been made on its left shoulder. The mantis lifted its head upwards to see the originating position of the attack, but something wheat-colored slammed into its face in a Quick Attack.
” the bird cried.
The attack knocked the Scyther onto its own rump while its new opponent, Pidgeotto, returned to brooding over his petrified trainer. Upon hearing the fall of the Scyther, Mamoru peeked through his fingers that covered his eyes and saw the mantis shaking its head free from its dizziness. He removed his hands from his eyes and gazed up at his loyal Pokemon, coming to a stand nervously.
His Pokemon had answered him in a way that made Mamoru feel as if it was prepared to fight such a notorious creature. Scyther was one of the most dangerous bugs among the Pokemon in the world and was reputed to be very difficult to handle. Nevertheless, a Scyther of this level would surely win him the competition.
The green figure got back on its feet. The speed in which it carried out its Fury Cutter attack was incredible; hardly anyone was able to actually see it until Pidgeotto started trying to dodge each blade that was swiped at it. One finally caught Pidgeotto and the pain stopped the bird long enough that a second, third, and fourth laceration rapidly succeeded the first. The Scyther gathered its energy to focus solely on the injured Pidgeotto whose concentration was primarily on his pain.
“Pidgeotto, look out!
The trainer’s call came too late as a giant X-shaped slash swept across the flying Pokemon’s chest sending it to the ground. It was the sight of Pidgeotto’s blood that snapped Mamoru back to the real world: there was no way he could win against a Scyther, let alone catch it and train it. Gradually, his horrified gaze escalated to where the mantis stood; it was gone. The blink of an eye was too long to compare the speed of the Scyther to. There was a flash of motion somewhere to Mamoru’s right; a diversion that made the boy’s attention wander in the opposite direction that the bug actually appeared.
The child didn’t get a chance to fully turn around before the scythe-shaped blade from which the mantis received its name streaked an incision straight towards the boy’s neck. There was a chilling silence that befell the crowd. That moment was expected to be the end of a contestant’s life. The Slash attack never hit its target.
Pidgeotto was severely wounded by the attack on his chest once again, but his trainer’s life had been saved. The bird, heaving his breath, managed to perch himself on the ground. Slowly, with the use of the move Roost, the gashes were cauterized by an eerie, blue glow that outlined the bird. Further enraged by the foolish Pokemon’s interception, the mantis split itself into several copies. Mamoru could not bring himself to call out to his Pokemon.
Pidgeotto had endured harsh training from Kazuma and it was paying off well. The more the short-tempered bug delayed its attack, powering it up or not, the more Pidgeotto’s wounds healed. It came time for the bugs surrounding the single bird to attack with a powerful False Swipe, but the bird spread his wings and swiftly launched himself into the air with a single flap combined with a weak jump and ascended further until all of the Pokemon had collided into themselves. All except one remained and it was not about to escape.
No matter how fast a Pokemon was, the wind was still faster. Pidgeotto gathered his energy, flapped his wings hard, and began to churn the air. The attack didn’t do much at first except stir the passing breeze yet little by little, the mixed up air formed itself into a whirlwind. Pidgeotto didn’t stop there. The harsh flapping of his wings grew more intense until the whirlwind picked up the Scyther and began to hurl it around and around. Soon enough, the Gust attack had become a ride that the Scyther didn’t find amusing at all. The Gust ceased at the command of the bird, dropping the Scyther to the ground from a dangerous height.
” Mamoru whimpered again, “Quick Attack again!
Pidgeotto obliged by tucking in his wings, angling his tail feathers, and aiming his beak straight at the sprawled out mantis. Gravity aided the bird’s attack to a phenomenal speed that the bird added a corkscrew twist to. Mamoru noticed that the bird’s Quick Attack could probably injure him which motivated the boy to scurry away. In the process of climbing to his feet, the Pokemonitor dropped to the ground and slowly rolled into the thick grass. The impact between the bird’s beak and the mantis’s chest was awesome enough to expel dirt and grass from the area. Everyone, even other contestants, stared in suspense as the dust began to clear away. Mamoru, who had dropped to his knees and covered his head, sat up to try and see through the cloud of dirt.
Pidgeotto and Scyther were inching away from each other to the best of their ability. Pidgeotto was trying to use his wings to pull himself away while the Scyther was stabbing the tips of his arms to do the same. Mamoru steadily got to his feet; the roar of his audience made him jump.
“He’s okay, Mimi,
” Neku smiled at her. “See for yourself!
She whirled around without a second guess to see her little brother standing in the center of the National Park with dozens of people cheering him on, many taking photographs. There was a twitch of her lips that preceded her delighted smile.
“He may not win the contest, but he sure will be famous for a week or two.
Kazuma grinned at his dear friend as he leaned on to the fence. Neku released his grip on the girl and stepped back in a stand-offish manner to allow her some space to rejoice in the safety of her brother. The little boy didn’t hear a thing and the crowd didn’t stop cheering until it was too late: Scyther staggered to its feet and darted forth, bringing his blade up.
Mamoru whirled around in horror and felt something run across his chest. At first, he didn’t feel anything. There was no pain. His gaze dropped to the warm liquid that was oozing on to his arm; blood seeped from his chest. There was a blood-curdling scream from Mimi, cries of horror from Kazuma and Neku, and an entire panic-stricken audience that shouted out for help.
He stared up into the face of the livid Scyther. There was something in him that couldn’t admit defeat. The child dropped to his knees, his other arm reaching to his belt for a Competition Ball. Scyther’s smug expression quickly transformed into a mingled look of fear and anger; it turned to get away, but Mamoru forced his arm to throw the ball in a last ditch effort. The sphere tapped the mantis, cracked open to release the white light, and nullified the movement of the bug. Pidgeotto cawed for its trainer, scooting itself closer to the boy, as the ball sucked the light back inside and dropped to the ground. Mamoru could hear the round object knock against the earth near him though the sight of his sister screaming over his body and the sound of her sweet voice calling him back were all beginning to fade.
No one paid attention to the ball as it wiggled and twitched. The emergency back-up was rushing in to save the boy’s life while the judges tried to calm the many on-lookers. Mimi’s screams deafened the sounds of the ball rocking back and forth.