Objective: Question Jack about the Tan Gang Incident.
First name: Jack.
Last name: unknown. Number of Jack’s registered with the league in the past year: 33. It’s possible he is unregistered, not likely.
Age: conflicting reports. Teen-Twenties. I suspect mid 20s. At least 5 foot.
Hair: Half report Brown, other Black. Must be dark.
No discernable features reported such as scars or tattoos. What about clothes? Don’t bother. Clothes can be changed.
Pokemon reported: has at least a full team of six.
Appeared at Dragon’s Pin bowling alley. Later appeared at P-Sci Labs during the TGI. Fought Gym after incident. Won. Kid at Pokecenter said Blackthorn was his first gym. Reliable? Gorgi, the gym assistant, reported he was traveling through the mountains.
“The festival at Indigo Plateau isn’t for another seven months, so he won’t go there. He could... but what would be the point? Based on what I have, if he is a new Trainer, then he’ll go to Mahogany and challenge that Gym. Let’s see... it’s been 40 plus days since he was last seen. It’s possible he may not even be there anymore.” She clicks a new window on her computer. “The next closest Gym after that is... Ecruteak. That’s a long way away, eh Dunsparce?”
She is talking aloud but also informing Dunsparce of the situation. She had let him out hours ago to crawl around and check the new surroundings and furniture of her apartment. He ended up digging himself into the recliner cushions before he even reached the other half of the rooms. Much like when she took care of him at the station, Dunsparce finds a spot to dig itself in to hide and stays there.
“Maybe you’ve been there already and this city is far from your home.” She walks over to the chair he buried himself within. “Here’s the plan for tomorrow. We leave in the morning, go through Ice Path, then arrive at Mahogany Pokecenter by dinner. Sound good?”
“Ssssss.” the quiet Pokemon whispers.
An hour passes by. It is late and time for bed. April has finished preparing the last of her notes and shuts everything off. She sets out a warm set of clothes next to her light green courier bag, along with some food and supplies. She isn’t exactly sure how much or what specific items she needs in order to pretend to be a Trainer. And if she is forgetting something, it must not be important enough.
She pats Dunsparce on the head. “I left some food and water in the kitchen. Not sure which brand of PokeFood you’d like so I bought a variety pack. You won’t believe how many brands there are for all the Pokemon that exist. I can’t imagine how anyone can raise more than one Pokemon and remain within budget.” She yawns. “There are more rooms around the corner if you feel the need to get up.”
He was still hidden between the cushions. It was the same back at the police station, how he would bury himself in the sand each day and hide from the other Pokemon. This time, she made sure to talk to him and keep him company. She waves bye, going to her own bed. Some random minutes later, her door opens ajar followed by the sound of rough scrapping carpet. Dunsparce leaps up to the bed, startling his new master. He wiggles to the front, burying himself under the covers next to her. She smiles, one arm around him.
At the furthest north edge of the city lay an empty bus stop, where a single person sits and waits. Not just any random person or old lady either, but a police officer in full uniform. He isn’t waiting for the bus. Impatiently, he checks his watch every five minutes as if he has something better to do.
A pair of bushes shake from behind the bench. “I see you got my message,” April speaks mysteriously, walking stealthfully. She wore her usual attire, green shirt and brown capris, added by a red wool jacket. As she approaches, the officer turns around. To her surprise, it is the handsome Captain Johnson she always toyed with.
“Hey... wait a.... where’s the Commander?”
“Busy. There’s a new lead on the whereabouts of the Tan Gang’s leader. He sent me in his place instead; though, I need to return as soon as I can. By the way, what was that?”
“You know, the ‘I see you got my message’ thing.”
“That’s a spy, not a detective.”
“No it’s not.”
“Yes, it is. Spies are secretive and deceptive. Detectives are direct and proud.”
“Whatever.” She pushes his shoulder playfully, which lets her see a grocery bag on the bench behind him. “So, seriously, do you have something for me?” she asks girlishly.
“Oh, right.” He gives her a small cube shaped gift and card. It was small enough to fit in her hand but somewhat heavy to hold for its size.
“Thanks Johnson, that’s sweet of you.”
He blushes, “Uh, ahem, it’s not from me.” He begins walking to his car, trying to avoid the eventual embarrassment.
“Really? That’s okay, I have something for you.” Curiously, the Captain stops and turns around. She licks her lips. “Close your eyes.” He freezes. “Come on,” she teases.
*GULP* He shuts his eyes, knowing what was coming. He had thought about it before, but was afraid of the backlash at the station. The Commander would kill him. Not to mention all the ragging from the rest of the force. His skin turns pale, arms uncomfortably shake, and legs tremble weakly, waiting for the moment. He becomes tense. Would it be on his hand? Maybe the cheek? Lips!? The antagonizing wait forces his breathing to studder. Palms begin sweating... He cocks his right eye slightly open. Then both. She was gone. He quickly exhales and haunches over to relax himself. She had left him there looking like a fool.
As Aprils rides away, pleased with her final game, she wishes she had brought a camera. She could have used it as the perfect blackmail material against him. Captain Johnson would have been powerless against her.
There are only two ways to travel between Mahogany and Blackthorn. The first is Ice Path- the main trail in which Trainers travel since it’s the safest, albeit a bit cold. The other way is straight over the mountain, braving the dangerous hiking condition. An experienced Hiker can climb it in a mere couple hours, saving them a good half day hike.
There is also a third, less honorable way for a Trainer to make the trip: hitch a ride by car. Part of being a Trainer was traveling the world by foot, exploring the surroundings and watching the lifestyles of Pokemon in the wild. A car or any other mode of transportation defeated that purpose. April wanted no part of the tradition. The easier, the better, and the faster her results would be. She doesn’t care about the means as long as it gets the results she wants. To her dismay, there were no rides going that way. Not many cars enter the city anyway, since there isn’t a paved road from Route 45 to Cherrygrove City. This is why Blackthorn is usually the last Gym a Trainer attempts because it is so challenging to reach.
Alas, she is on her own. The Trainers at the Pokemon Center were generous enough to give her directions, which was about as easy to follow as boiling water. There’s only one trail to Ice Path. Once inside, the main path is marked to aide other Trainers traveling through. She even got a map of the inside. It’s simple but laboring.
And what kind of story would this be if everything went as planned? Not very exciting, I say.
“I should have been there by now.”
What should have taken a half an hour to reach has turned into a couple hours. She had been following what she thought looked like a pathway. Unknown to her, at one point in the trail, the path suddenly turned left and down a small hill. Instead, she kept going straight. And now she is lost, like so many clueless adventurers she’s watched in movies.
She drops her stuff to take off her jacket, feeling hot and sweaty. Her legs stretch, crying nonstop for the past hour. It’s time for a break. She opens her pack and grabs a bottle of water. The gift given by Johnson looks at her, tempting her to open it, but she wants to wait until she makes it to Mahogany.
The forest whistles calmly as a reminder that she is all alone. The trees she had been looking at ever since she was little are now in front of her eyes. They’re so tall and full of wisdom all she can do is gaze at them in awe. She had seen pine trees in the city before, but never this many in such a cluster. And never this much growth. They are mostly pine trees, sprinkled in with a Spruce here and there. Grass is sparse at this elevation, not having much room to grow with the amount of boulders and jagged cliff sides and the seasonal winter snow. The only other vegitation are small bushes and weeds growing as close to the trees as they possible can. But not a single flower has been spotted. She imagines they’d have a hard time growing this high up. Lucky for her, she has her floral perfume sprays for just such pleasure. Without the perfume, all she’d be smelling now would be sap and a strong smell of pine needles.
The barren ground and dirt disappoints her. Without these majestic trees filtering in sun and an endless dance of sparkling shadows, these mountains are plain ugly to look at.
She has to head back. There’s no alternative. But even this proves a further mistake. As she walks backwards on the trail, she arrives at a spot in question. The trail stops. It has to be after this
, she thinks, continuing on. However, she doesn’t see anything familiar. All the trees and dirt hills look the same. She isn’t even sure if she is going up or down anymore. What time is it? The sun hid so well behind the trees, she can’t even tell how much time has passed but it felt like forever.
She holds her phone up, trying to get a signal with no luck. To further fluster her, she had forgotten to charge the phone last night. “Great. I’m lost without contact. But that’s ok. They get lost in the movies all the time and it works out for them.” She begins imagining viewers watching her from behind a big screen in the canopy of the trees. “This is rather boring. If anyone were watching they’d have switched channels by now. ‘Girl gets lost and talks to self.’ Yea, real winner there.” She begins to imagine these viewers laughing at her fail so badly. She even has a map. A Map!
A scurry of footsteps move behind her. Her thoughts grow silent and alarmed; her audience shuts up and waits to see what happens next. She turns, wondering where the noise came from. Footsteps again. They are quick and quiet, belonging to three, maybe four animals. Against her better judgement, she walks toward the sound. They’re too quick to be a human. A brown blur dashes behind the trees in front of her. She sneaks closer, trying to get a better look where they ran to. The benefit of having mostly dirt ground is the lack of sound it makes. Unless a cliched twig gets in her way, which she is all to careful to avoid. She stops nearby the trio of Pokemon. They are short and fat, mainly brown fur with a central white fur circle on their chests. Each of them are standing on their body length tails, with darker rings around it. Their dark ears stick out as if listening to their surroundings. April looks on with awe at the adorable stubby arms and legs.
“Aw, how cute. Tret-something, I think. They can help me.” She walks straight over to them thinking they would stand there and let her. Come on April, you should know better than this. These are wild Pokemon: they will run. As such, the Sentret trio scream and dash away.
She follows in pursuit, trying to keep up. Surprisingly, even with such short legs, they are much faster than they appear. “Wait, don’t run. I need... whoaaaa.. !!” After a short-lived chase, she attempts to stop herself by leaning back to slide to a sudden stop but there just isn’t enough traction on loose dirt. Her momentum keeps her going straight toward the hill in front of her. Her butt hits the ground followed by her throwing her scooter in order to try and catch something with her hands. But no luck. If she has to go down, at least it won’t be face first. She slides down, still trying to dig into the dirt with her shoes. Her hands wave wildly, hitting a rock on the way down. It doesn’t hurt as much thanks to her gloves protecting them. For the most part she is lucky to not have any huge boulders or rocks in her way that could crack her head open. Though, she does slide along a jagged rock that scratches her right leg. The pain shoots to her brain, which tells her to grind her teeth in reaction. Then her shoe hits an uneven bump in the hill, jumping her upright and forcing her to run the rest of the way down. As she levels out, her legs slow down while her top half keeps going. In order to not face plant into the ground, she ducks inward and rolls headfirst to protect herself. She finally flips her legs into the air and lands flat on her back. Her scooter slides next to her, upright and ready to go again.
“Ow...” She dusts herself off, removing hands full of needles and twigs from her tangled hair. All the effort to uncurl her hair was now wasted. She checks her leg under her pants: it’s a small cut but stings as if it were larger. Unfortunately, she has no bandage to cover the wound. She stands, feeling her weight increase the pain in her leg. She tries rubbing her leg to ease the pain.
As she grabs the rest of her fallen gear, ready to go, she notices a couple trees inward have some cocoons dangling from them. They are yellow pods hung by a single string. Their eyes are closed as if sleeping.
“Another Pokemon. These turn into that bee type.” She approaches them just as she did with the Sentret; however, this time she takes slow steps due to her injury. “Can, can they move?” She calls to them, “Hi, yellow Pokemon. Do you know where Ice Path is? It’s a cave with snow and ice and, uhm, other frozen features.”
The group of Kakuna open their eyes at once and quickly retreat to the leaves above, hiding. A new Pokemon similar in size drops down by a single string connected to its top. It is a turquoise-green Pokemon with big eyes and no arms or legs. Without the eyes, she might have mistaken it for an oddly colored, oversized pinecone.
“Oh, are you in charge?”
“Pine, pineco co.”
It hops to the ground, jumping forward and shouting angrily. Without warning, it begins flashing steadily faster. And faster. And Faster!
April falls on her butt, unsure of what’s happening or what she has done to piss off this Pokemon. She wants to run but can’t stop staring -wondering- what’s going to happen. Then a final light shown twice as bright, forcing her to look away, and is immediately followed by a loud boom that pierced her eardrums with an ongoing ring that felt like it wouldn’t stop.
She uncovers her eyes and looks around. An explosion blew a hole in the ground two feet in front of her, which cleared all the leaves and excess dirt out of the area; except the leaves around her, which is left untouched in a circular radius. The once green pinecone Pokemon is now burnt black and on its side. Its eyes swirl around comedically. She doesn’t understand what protected her, but for whatever reason, she is okay.
Another Pineco drops, continuing the angry shouting from the previous victim. But it is met with a quick buck from the hind legs of a brown and white deer, knocking it clear out of the area.
Did this Pokemon save me?
, she questions. The magnificent creature stands before her, protecting her from any further surprises. Its fur is clean and shimmers in the shaded light. The antlers stand tall and defensive. Its floppy nose sniffs the air searching for more prey.
Suddenly, a hand grabs her gloves and she’s helped up from the dirt, being told to ‘come this way’. The stranger pulls her to safety behind him.
He stops. “Alright Stantler, lets go.” The deer gracefully jumps back to her master. He lets go of April’s hand and grabs a pack he had set down beforehand. He begins placing it over Stantler’s back, strapping it securely around her stomach.