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Old 07-15-2012, 04:52 AM
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Default [WAR XI] An Act of Kindness [Judged] (And finally finished!)

I stared at it. It had stopped flopping around the moment my shadow fell on it, and I was amazed a bird Pokémon hadn't gotten it yet, considering it was flopping around in a puddle on the road. I kind of wished a bird Pokémon had gotten to it--my aunt would kill me if she knew I had seen a Pokémon in need and left it alone rather than help it, even though I despised Magikarp for being such a weak, useless Pokémon. The single eye the could see me rolled around frantically as the fish seemed to search for anything but me, and eventually realizing there wasn't, it landed on me and stared back. After a few moments of our staring contest, I glared at it; however it just kept on staring at me. Upon nudging it with my foot, it went back to pointlessly flopping about for a few moments before it seemed to remember me and froze again. I had wanted to kick it, but I knew that wouldn't get me far--I knew they were heavy, too heavy to kick very far, no matter how much I wanted to. With a sigh, I straightened out of my crouch over the Pokémon and continued to glare down at it.

"You know, this is pathetic," I told the Magikarp. "You ended up in a puddle on a road when the river flooded because of rain. Now you're stuck here with no one but a Magikarp-hating little girl to save you."

"Magi...?" the Pokémon seemed to respond dumbly, still unaffected by my glare. Ugh, it had no idea what I was saying, who was I kidding? It was just a stupid fish!

"You better be glad I'm Professor Redwood's niece, or I'd leave you out here, beached on the road. Because if she knew I found you and just left you here anyway, Aunt Redwood would kill me." The Magikarp continued to stare, seemingly unaware that it was my relationship to my aunt that saved it, and I just shook my head.

Now here was the thing--how was I going to get this thing back to the lab? I couldn't carry it even if I wanted to; it was too heavy, but then again... I turned to the Pokémon my aunt had basically assigned to be my bodyguard. "Hey, nanny," the Houndoom growled softly in response to the nickname, as he hated it just as much as we both hated him having to constantly follow me around as per my aunt's orders, but moved closer. "Got any ideas?" The large, dog-like Pokémon simply looked at me like I was crazy. "Hey, I hate Magikarp just as much as you do, but you know Aunt Redwood would kill us if she knew we found it and left it here," the big guy shook his head slowly, like he couldn't believe I was serious. I simply shook my head in return, at this point, my patience was growing thin.

"Fine, I'll go to town and borrow a tarp or something. You stay here and watch it." This elicited a snarl from the Houndoom, to which he received a roll of my eyes. "What? You hate following me around, I hate you following me around, and no one in town is going to kidnap me or anything, Aunt Redwood is just paranoid." He growled at me for that one. "You know she is, Cerberus! In spite the fact I'm eight and more organized than she is, Aunt Redwood seems to be terrified someone in a town of perfectly nice people is going to kidnap me. Besides, more to the point, I can speak English, you can't. I know you get the point across well enough to Aunt Redwood and I, and even some other lab assistants, but not everyone can understand you," I told him, and the Houndoom hung his head in defeat before shaking it again.

"What? You got any other ideas?" I snapped finally, and for once Cerberus did something that surprised me; he moved forward and gently latched onto the Magikarp's tail before looking back at me expectantly. "Oh, so we're going to drag it through the mud?" At this point, Cerberus's "look" became a glare. I knew he was looking for a compromise that doesn't involve letting me out of his sight because he didn't want to get in trouble, but still! The Houndoom let go of the tail with what appeared to be a sigh before moving around it and indicated the fins on the top and bottom of the fish Pokémon. Great, so not only was I going to save a Pokémon I hated to spare myself from the wrath of my aunt, but I was going to smell like fish, too? This stank in more ways than one.

With a groan, I followed Cerberus's suggestion and grabbed a fin in each hand and stood at the front of the Magikarp while he took the tail fin again and we slowly lifted it and began to move back towards the lab. This was a rather long process, between us nearly dropping the Magikarp multiple times due to its habit of suddenly flopping around and us needing to stop and set it down in the occasional water puddle in the road for all of us to rest. By the time we finally got the thing back to the lab, I hated the thing even more than I already had when I agreed to pick it up. I had complained about how much easier the tarp idea would have been to Cerberus a time or two on the trip back, but he didn't bother to answer, seeing as his mouth was full of Magikarp tail.

When we finally got to the lab, our slow process was greeted by stares from most of the lab assistants and my aunt’s receptionist. "It was in the road," I huffed while they stared on. "Can someone please get my aunt?" Of course, by the time someone finds Aunt Redwood and sends her to me, Cerberus, the Magikarp and I had all made it to what has commonly been called the "clean-up room" and Cerberus had downed tons of water to get the fish and mud taste out of his mouth, I'd washed my hands multiple times, and I'd shoved the Magikarp into one of the small shower stalls and cranked on the cool water.

"Liz, what is this I'm hearing about a--" before she could finish, I pointed to the shower stall with the Magikarp in it and the water on.

"Magikarp? I found it in the road, probably got washed out of the river in the flood, and figured you'd kill me if I left it there, so I talked Cerberus into making himself useful," the Houndoom growled again, "and we carried it back here. I figured it needed water, and the shower was the only thing I could think of. Got anywhere in mind that we can put it that isn't the middle of the road between here and town? So it doesn't, you know, die?" I explained rather quickly and impassively, much to my aunt's displeasure.

"Liz," she sighed, looking down at me and adjusting her glasses, "firstly, Magikarp is not that hard a Pokémon to determine the gender of--this one is a he, not an it," she told me slowly. "Secondly, how hot is that water? You know it can't be--" I cut her off almost boredly as she wandered towards the shower.

"It's not too hot, Aunt Redwood. I checked before I put it," this got me a glare from my aunt, "I mean, him, in there. It's pretty cool since I figured it, ah, he, was pretty hot from being stuck on the road." She wasn’t satisfied until she stuck a hand under the water herself, but my aunt seemed to come away from that rather satisfied.

“Well, we can keep him in the pond outside, but I’d like to observe him and make sure nothing is wrong with him first,” Aunt Redwood said thoughtfully as she turned to face me. “And since you brought him back to the lab, I want you to help me take care of him, Liz, since you brought him in and I want you to learn about process some, too. After that, I’d still like you to take care of him when we move him to the pond since Magikarp aren’t exactly the fiercest Pokémon out there. I want to be sure he’s eating well… You don’t mind, do you?” I had to force myself to keep my jaw firmly in place. She really expected me to take care of this thing?! One of the Pokémon I completely despised?! Yes, yes I minded, I wanted to tell her, but I knew I would end up worse off if I tried to protest it.

“No, Aunt Redwood, I don’t mind,” I told her and gave her a faked smile. My oh-so-wonderful aunt then clapped her hands and gave me a huge smile.

“Well then, why don’t you give our new friend a nickname?” I cringed at the suggestion. I wanted to name the stupid fish about as much as I wanted to take care of it—which was not at all. I bit back the whine of ‘Do I have to?’ and took a second to think. She was going to make me name the thing whether I wanted to or not, and if I was going to be made to take care of it, I might as well not name it something stupid and fluffy like I knew she would. I sighed as nothing came to mind beyond how I found it/him in a puddle…well, that was better than nothing.

“How about Puddle?” I asked, and my aunt did that stupid thing with the clapping and beaming again—how old did she think I was, three?

“Puddle! That’s adorable, I like it!” Those were the words that began the daily routine in my life involving the Pokémon I now hated more than any other. Who knew an act of kindness would turn around and bite me on the butt like that?

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Last edited by Winter; 07-20-2012 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:14 AM
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Default Re: [WAR XI] An Act of Kindness [Judged] (Really Finished! XD)

And so a few days passed…

“I hate you,” I muttered at the water underneath which the Magikarp now known as “Puddle” swam in circles, waiting for me to drop another pellet of food in. I almost wondered if it would be nice to as brainless as he was, because maybe then I wouldn’t hate this situation so much. “I hate you more with every passing day.” Well, he couldn’t be totally brainless, because he seemed to associate me with feeding time well enough, and it had only been a week. Unfortunately, it had only taken a week for my aunt to decide I wasn’t “spending enough time with him” and made it mandatory for me to spend at least thirty minutes with the stupid thing a day.

If Puddle were something other than a Magikarp, it’d be easy. Seriously, I was pretty sure every other water-dwelling Pokémon out there had more brains than Magikarp did, so I could train it to do something in that thirty minutes a day over the course of a few days… However Puddle was still a Magikarp and there was no way to change that, so I was going to need to think of something soon, well other than trying to swim in the tank, because there was not enough room for the two of us in there.

“Ugh, I wish I could be as mindless as you. To you, it’s all eating and swimming…do you even sleep?” I asked as I dropped more food in. Puddle seemed to not hear me, doing nothing more than immediately taking interest in the handful of brown pellets that were now sinking towards the bottom of the tank. “Is there really anything to spend thirty minutes doing with a Magikarp?” I asked out loud with a sigh before I shook my head, answering my own question. “Nope. Nothing.” Just as he always had before, Puddle didn’t seem to hear me and kept chasing after the food.

And then a few weeks passed…

“…Don’t give me that dopey look, Puddle,” I growled at the Magikarp as he poked his head out of the water.

“Magikarp?” Oh lovely, he was actually replying to me now? At least that was an interesting development, along with the fact he was learning where to show up for food now. I wasn’t entirely sure how long I had waited for him to show up the first few days after we moved him into the pond, but I knew it had been a few hours. He seemed to be showing up a bit more quickly now, and I had to admit that seemed to prove he had some intelligence, though still I wished he would show up a bit sooner. Then again, if he really was beginning to learn that I showed up with food at the same place, the same time every day, he’d probably have it down if I gave him a few more days… Jeez, I was starting to sound like Aunt Redwood!

“So I’m guessing you’re expecting food, huh?” I asked as Puddle’s head slipped back under the surface and he began to swim around my feet in circles, like a Persian would wind around your legs. “Huh, you think you’re a Persian now? Too bad you can’t be one—trust me, you’d be more interesting if you were.” It seemed he had stopped listening, though, as I dropped the food in the water. He shot after it fairly quickly, all things considered, and I wondered what he’d had to eat for food before I found him in a puddle on the road. I made a mental note to ask Aunt Redwood about it later, right now I had thirty minutes to pass with a Magikarp, one who had gone back to swimming around my legs now that he’d eaten all the pellets I had dropped initially. “Hmph, greedy little thing,” I muttered, dropping another handful in the water, which he promptly chased after.

“You know, Puddle, I keep hearing from people about this Magikarp in the lake that people keep feeding recently. They call it cute…think it’s one of your friends?” Even though he was coming back from eating the last batch of pellets I dropped, Puddle stuck his head out of the water again.

“Magikarp?” he asked in that dopey voice of his, before ducking down to swim again.

“You’re gonna get fat if people keep doing that, you know,” I sighed as he went back to swimming around my legs again. “No, you do not need more—especially if other people are feeding you!” I laughed, looking down at him swimming cluelessly around my legs. That was when I wondered just how clueless he really was if he was learning things like when and where I came to feed him, and he managed to associate me with feeding time before that. Well, it was something to try—figuring out how to test how smart a Magikarp was…hmm, maybe I could teach him something after all! It certainly beat just sitting on the bank of the lake with my feet in the water, watching Puddle swim around and talking to myself until my thirty minutes was up.

“Hoops, maybe? Try and get you to swim through hoops…?” I muttered to myself, watching the Magikarp I had never wanted swimming around in the water aimlessly, as it seemed he must have realized he wasn’t getting anymore food, as though he didn’t have any care in the world.

Then before I knew it, months had passed…

Puddle was waiting for me when I showed up, jar of food tucked under my arm, set of hula hoops in hand, practically running for the pond. "Magikarp! Magi!" he greeted me with the same dopey voice he always had as I approached the bank and dropped the hula hoops there. I unscrewed the jar's lid while I was slipping off my sandals, and was in the water in no time. "Magi, magi, magikarp!" Puddle called impatiently as he swam in circles around my legs at one point, he even headbutted my leg as I reached into the jar.

"Jeez, sorry I'm late!" I laughed, tossing a handful of pellets into the water, which the Magikarp promptly swam after. "Aunt Redwood had me doing paperwork and wouldn't let me go until it was done... I swear, I'm ten and better at filing than she is!" I shook my head and dropped a bit more food in the water, not really caring if he was listening or not. It hadn’t taken me long for me to realize he only listened on occasion, and while he was eating wasn’t one of those times. Oh well, I liked to ramble, and at least I didn’t seem as crazy if it seemed like I was directing my discussion to no one at all. After another handful of food pellets were dropped into the water as an apology for being late, I moved back towards the bank to grab one of the hoops before I turned my attention back to Puddle, who seemed to be expecting it. Then again, he was a creature of habit, at least as far as I had seen, and I had been bringing the hoops for quite a long time now.

I slapped the hoop against the water to grab his attention as I waded out into deeper water and Puddle followed after me, keeping close to the hoop itself. Finally in water that reached up to my waist, I let the fun begin, and held the hoop out in front of me below the water. Puddle, who had been doing this for the past few months with ease, quickly swam through the bright red hoop. At the slight wiggle of my hand and the hoop, he swam back through it. That was when I moved the hoop higher, until it was about halfway out of the water. Again, Puddle had no trouble swimming through it, giving a little hop out of the water to clear it, and another wiggle of the hand holding the hoop brought him back again. This time, I grinned as I lifted the hoop out of the water and above my head. “Straight for the big one today, buddy,” I told him as Puddle poked his head out of the water so he could see the hoop. I watched as he slid back below the water’s surface and waited, counting slowly in my head, one…two…three…fo—that was when he leapt out of the water. I watched, still grinning, as Puddle sailed over my head and though the hoop before landing in the water on the other side with an enormous splash that sprayed me with water.

“Yes! That was awesome, Puddle!” I cheered as he stuck his head out of the water again.

“Magikarp?” the fish Pokémon asked dumbly, I just shook my head and smiled.

“You did it, you made it through the highest hoop yet!” I laughed, wishing I could hug him—unfortunately, Puddle wasn’t very fond of hugs like many land-dwelling Pokémon were. It didn’t put out my blazing pride though, and I couldn’t wait to show Aunt Redwood what I had taught him.

And then, all of a sudden whole years slipped by…

I'm sitting on the center picnic table of three that overlook the lakeside long before they start to come. I think I'm better at this now than my Aunt Redwood is, but she's always been a bit disorganized--that's why I proposed Starter Day to her in the first place, and it's worked out pretty well. Every time I talk to mom on the phone about it, she just laughs and tells me "Elizabeth, you know, I swear if you weren't there, most of the Yukou region's Pokémon trainers would be in chaos? I don't ever think I've seen my sister so organized!" I really don't like my mom that much--she makes fun of my aunt too often and always calls me Elizabeth, never Liz like aunt Redwood calls me, but that's not really the point here. I shake off the thought like a wet Eevee trying to dry off, with a few quick turns of my head that causes my hair to slap my face in stinging, icy cold, wet strands. I took a shower before I left the lab, but the lake got the better of me when I arrived and I'd gone for a quick dive before I started my wait, and now I was wearing it down to dry while I wait silently, my Vaporeon curled up in my lap as I sit cross-legged atop the picnic table.

They come slowly at first, starting with a few excited kids I don't think I've seen in town before, some dragged along by younger town children who are just as familiar with the festivities of today as I am, chattering to the older kids about how they'll just love it, even though I know they don't want to wait for their first Pokémon. They will love it, though, everyone always does, especially the end--that's why the little ones almost always show up at the picnic tables by the lake on the first of every month. Soon, they come in a more steady trickle, and then in a stream, some bringing siblings or parents with them; parents that look at me with disdain when they see me sitting on the top of the center table, little more than halfway dry, in army green cargo capris to hide my swimsuit bottom and a camouflage bikini top, but their looks soften at the sight of the little kids flooding the table, all eagerly awaiting the start of my performance. When the influx of people slows and then stops, I'm ready to start, and the little ones are moving around impatiently, like young Pokémon demanding to be played with, and finally I oblige.

"The story I'm about to tell you is true, believe it or not," I start slowly, however I of those voices, my Aunt Redwood calls it. She swears I have a voice that commands people to listen, and after growing up with multiple siblings, it's become rather loud when I want it to be as well. Those around the picnic tables stop talking and move their eyes to me, and that's when I continue. "And I'm going to share it with you all today because I hope you will learn from this story what I learned through experience." The parents look thoughtful, and the little ones are all but bouncing in their seats at this point, because this was where the real story began, and they know it.

The story I tell them is the one that took up more than half my current life—I tell them the story about how I found a Magikarp (a Pokémon I hated) in a puddle on the same road they walked down to get here. I tell them how even though I didn’t want to, I saved it, and I took it to my aunt. I tell them about how she made me take care of this Magikarp and how I came to call him, not it, Puddle. Then, lastly, I tell them how ever so slowly I hated the Pokémon more and more…and then I began to take interest in it, beginning with that day a few days after we moved him to the lake. I tell them how that interest became a great friendship through the use of hoops, and when I reach the end of this story, some of the trainers-to-be look at me like they don’t get the point.

“What happened to Puddle?” one of the smaller kids does me the favor of asking, though I know the little girl knows the answer—she’s heard this story at least three times. I can’t help but grin as I look to the crowd as speak up.

“So, who wants to meet Puddle?” I ask them. A few kids nod, some murmur affirmatives, but the younger ones are already running to the lake. After a moment, I move my still-sleeping Vaporeon from my lap and turn so that I can get off the table without standing on it, because Aunt Redwood hates that, and run after them, shouting a “Come on, then!” over my shoulder. Without looking over my shoulder to see how many were actually following me, I chased after the younger kids, who stopped on the bank, while I kept going, not bothering to spare a thought for my capris. As I wade into the water, I slap my hands against the surface and generally make as much noise as I possibly can that doesn’t involve speaking, since I know he can’t really hear me shout underwater anyway. Then again, I don’t have to shout—moments after I make it to waist-deep water, the very top spike on his head breaks the water in an insane spray that rips through the glassy surface of the lake a quickly rises to reveal a fully-grown Gyarados in all its glory, mouth wide open and looking ferocious. The little ones one the bank laugh and shout out different greetings to Puddle, who they’ve known for years, even before I started telling the story; some even fed him back when he was a Magikarp.

I look back to the crowd that has followed me out to the bank and smile at them as Puddle arrives to greet me, head snaking down with his mouth closed so he can bump me with his nose. I laugh as I stumble forward in the water and nearly fall over. “Kids, this is Puddle now; ten years after I found him in a puddle in the road. Eventually, he evolved for me into what you see now, though he’s still just as friendly and playful as can be because I raised him, well, for the most part, with love that bloomed out of hate and being forced to spend thirty minutes a day with him. He went from being a practically useless Pokémon to a very powerful one over the course of ten years, and I have to say this—I may have hated him when I carried him to the lab the day I found him, but now I can’t imagine having done anything differently. Just please, remember this—the more time and care you give your Pokémon, no matter how weak they are, they can still find their way into your heart, and someday ,they might just become the strongest Gyarados after being the weakest Magikarp you found stuck in a puddle on the side of the road.”

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