It was morning, and here I was at the scheduled time, bright and early in front of Route 1 with Cheren, Genna and Professor Juniper. Even though Bianca was usually incredibly late, she was already behind by an entire hour and a half. Though Genna was getting especially restless and Cheren was getting mildly irritated, Professor Juniper and I remained patient yet doubtful of her attendance at all.
Cheren was an interesting guy. He had a similar style to me, with plain black skinny jeans, and he seemed to love electric blue as much as I did. But there were various exceptions: he had electric blue loafers and a blue no-zip lightweight jacket, a white t-shirt with red stripes underneath, and framless glasses on his face. He had jet black, slightly spiky hair, and he always seemed to hold himself with a negative or skeptical stature. He seemed to be along the same wavelengths as Genna, only not so extreme. Cheren was much cooler and much more laid back, and certainly much more personable. But he seemed almost as condescending as Genna was, and he certainly was egotistical.
Zorua, however, preferred to be out of its ball, and seemed to be loving prancing about and having its own free time. I suppose this gave it some time to breathe.
"Darn it, Bianca," Cheren growled, tapping his foot on the pavement laid on the ground of city limits. "She's so incredibly late. What the heck is going on?"
I shrugged. "She insisted that we all take our first step through Route 1 together. I can't imagine her not wanting to be here right now."
It did seem quite unlike her. She had even beat me to getting Oshawott yesterday. Being this late without notice just did not seem like her.
"Such a stupid idea," Genna complained, spitting on the ground at her feet. "Makes such a fuss about us all doing some liberal crap and then doesn't show up. She's probably too busy collecting seashells or hugging trees."
I gritted my teeth but I didn't say anything. Thankfully I didn't have to.
"Now Genna," Professor Juniper chided, crossing her arms. "That's not fair to your friend. You're all in this together, remember that. The four of you are all representing Nuvema Town in the Unova League."
Genna folded her arms as well and grunted.
Suddenly, a phone started to ring. Professor Juniper made a start, and then dug through her lab coat pockets for her éPhone. When she found it, she accepted the phone call and brought the phone to her ear.
"Mr. Schroeder? Oh... yes. Uh-huh. Yes, I saw her yesterday. Oh? Really? No, I haven't... really? I'm sorry to... I see. Understood. I'll keep an eye out for her. Alrighty."
She hung up.
"That was Bianca's father, right?" Cheren asked.
That caught my attention.
Professor Juniper scrunched up her face. "Uh, yeah. She did not go home last night or something."
My eyes opened that wide. Zorua's ears perked up as it jumped back towards my side.
Cheren's head tilted to the side as he clutched his chin with intrigue. "Odd. Why would she do that?"
Genna grinned. "She probably got -"
But I interrupted her. "Shut up! Stop talking smack about Bianca! That isn't right!"
She rolled her eyes. Professor Juniper and Cheren cleared their throats.
"Anyway, he's wondering where she went," the Professor continued, "He wants to know if she left of her own free will, was she tricked or kidnapped, what happened and fast. Apparently he didn't want her to have her own journey as Pokémon Trainer."
Cheren nodded understandingly. "That makes sense. Bianca and Farren are eleven years old. Genna and I are twelve. A few months ago, the Unova League Pokémon Battling Agency passed an act repealing the twelve-year-old rule and replaced it with a ten-year-old rule. With terrain becoming easier to travel and with more cities and towns with more rest stops, it's getting easier for Unova to go closer towards the ideal International Pokémon Battling Association rules, guidelines and suggestions. Unova itself voted on what was a proper age, and they found ten to be acceptable. Mr. Schroeder probably disagrees with this action."
"Exactly the point," Professor Juniper said, nodding. "And that is exactly why he is looking for her. Apparently, she doesn't have her éPhone. I don't mean to say it's fortuitous that she left it behind, but she's a smart girl. She knows he can track her with it."
"So does that mean we can just go on ahead?" Genna asked impatiently, exhaling with a massive breath. "I want to get this show on the road."
Professor Juniper shook her head with disdain. "Of course, Genna. Let's go. I have to teach you all how to catch a Pokémon." Without further delay, she pulled out a bunch of little Poké Balls out of her pockets. Though she had a little difficult, she made sure all three of us had five each. She led us forward through the entrance of Route 1 slowly, as if Pomp and Circumstance were being played in the background. The pace was teeming with life: several bird Pokémon, which I deduced at this point were Pidove. I could see some Patrat hiding in bushes, some poking their heads out at random times as per their sentry duty. Zorua seemed to be having a fun time looking around.
After a while, we finally approached but began to walk around taller grasses that easily went up to my knees, to which Professor Juniper had to comment on. "See all of that tall grass, you three? Pokémon love to hide in habitats like this. Beware, and be careful of it. Though you can technically find a Pokémon out here in the open, it is more likely to find more Pokémon there in the grasses. This is helpful when you are training or when you want to catch a Pokémon, but if your Pokémon is weak, stay away from it as much as you possibly can."
With that caveat, we pressed on ahead. It seemed as if Professor Juniper was rather choosy of where to exhibit her skills. She had her hands in her lab coat pockets in a rather laid back manner, but the way she looked in certain directions looked rather antsy. Cheren was especially patient, looking around as if mentally taking notes, as if he were to write a ten-page single-spaced dissertation all about Route 1. Genna was hardly showed any emotion, but I could tell she was bored, kicking around rocks whenever they got in the way. Zorua was still having a blast, just absorbing the environment.
"And... here!" Professor Juniper proclaimed, looking an isolated array of grasses almost completely surrounded by trees. "This is a good spot. Look there!"
When she stretched out her hand, she lowered her voice, her finger pointed towards a patch of grass that was shaking. Suddenly, she stormed on ahead and pressed one hand back behind her as if signaling for us to wait, and one hand digging into her pocket to grab a Poké Ball and throw it in front of her.
A gray mouse Pokémon had appeared, with large rounded ears and a white tail. I could really only see it from behind, but it looked much more experienced than my Zorua.
"Minccino! Use your Swift attack!" Professor Juniper commanded in the heat of the moment.
Minccino responded by jumping and twirling in midair, and after making one full 360-degree rotation it opened its mouth and let loose little sparks of light, each in the shape of stars. The Pokémon it had hit revealed itself, poking its head above the grass. It was pink with an offwhite face and underbelly, with large angel-wing shaped ears and bright blue eyes.
I looked down at Zorua for a moment. Its focus was unbreakable, as if it were carefully taking in every little detail. It almost seemed as if it wanted to jump in on the action.
"Minccino, it's an Audino!" explained Professor Juniper aloud. "Quick, before it does anything; Slam!"
Minccino instantly started to rush towards Audino, but when Minccino jumped in midair and readied its tail, Audino balled its fist. It began to glow green, and when it collided with Minccino's tail, it knocked both of them backwards simultaneously.
Zorua flinched, almost as if feeling Minccino's pain.
"You're doing great, Minccino! Use Attract!"
After Minccino got up, it began to giggle. Audino struggled to support itself, but it wouldn't give up without a fight. Minccino suddenly started staring at Audino without moving, and though it seemed like nothing was happening, Audino lost control of its limbs and did not move a muscle. What kind of move was this?
Taking advantage of the moment, Professor Juniper quickly dove into her lab coat pocket and pulled out an unused Poké Ball and gracefully threw it towards Audino. The ball absorbed Audino, similar to whenever I would call Zorua back into its ball. And classically, like whenever I would catch a Pokémon in a video game, the ball shook three times, followed by inactivity. The Pokémon was caught.
The Professor retrieved the ball and pet her Minccino. "Good job, partner! You were amazing! Return!" After Minccino returned back into its ball, the Professor put both Poké Balls into her pocket and turned towards us with a smile. "And that's how you catch a Pokémon!"
Cheren actually clapped. "Classic. Weaken the Pokémon, inflict a status problem on it if you can, throw a Poké Ball. Well done."
I could have told you that.
Professor Juniper didn't know what to say, she was definitely disoriented. "Well, thank you. People do this every day around the world. There's not too much technique to it. It is not super easy, but it is easier if you know what you are doing. But one does not simply catch an Audino. The catch rate for that Pokémon is incredibly low. Do not be disappointed if you cannot catch an Audino that easily. I probably should have weakened it a little more, I suppose."
Genna shrugged and crossed her arms. "We've already seen people catch Pokémon on TV all the time. I could have done that."
Cheren shot her a cold glance. "Hey, be a little more respectful." His influence was much more powerful than mine was. If looks could kill, Cheren just threw Genna to the bottom of the deepest ocean. Genna responded by rolling her eyes.
"Well, if you think it's that easy," Professor Juniper said with a clever smirk crawling onto her face, "Then prove it. Let's have a Pokémon catching contest. I'll be the judge. The one who catches the most Pokémon only with the Poké Balls I gave you wins. In the case of a tie, I'll either chose the winner by Pokémon diversity or a Pokémon battle, whichever is easier."
"I accept your challenge!" Genna said confidently. She threw her Poké Ball into the air, releasing her Tepig. "Come on, Tepig, let's go!"
In what seemed like a flash, Tepig and Genna ran off as quickly as they could, leaving Professor Juniper, Cheren and I in the dust.
"Well, I think I have to participate now," Cheren chuckled to himself, letting out his Pokémon. When he had thrown his Poké Balll, a green Pokémon as tall as Zorua, Oshawott and Tepig had appeared. It was like a tiny little snake with stubby arms and legs and bold red eyes with a leafy tail. It was calm, cool and collected, just like Cheren. Very appropriate for him.
I turned to Zorua. "Are you ready, partner?"
Zorua winked back with a smile.