Day flips to night, which in turn, flips to another day. The wind rushes through the city on an unusually cloudy day. Just two days ago the city was enjoying the sun and warm weather.
Safe inside the Police Station, April doesn’t have to worry about it. The door opens to the Pokemon Police Training room. It’s like being outside without any weather or heat from the sun. The ceiling and walls are decorated with light blue sky, soft, puffy white clouds, and shades of green and brown trees. Most of the floor is covered in thick grass, leaving a quarter of the room for a small pond and sandy dirt as part of a beach. Fans and special artificial lamps substitute the wind and sunlight. The room is large enough to fill almost the entirety of the second floor, which is about the size of a standard house. Next door is the battling room, but she has no reason to go in there.
Another Pokemon is taken off the list: Ralts. This leaves 15 Pokemon in her care for just more than two weeks left before the month is up. If enough are left, maybe she can ask for two Pokemon.
The red and white halved Pokeball sticks to her glove. She’s never held one before the other day, or even imagined ever throwing one out. Afraid to do so, she simply presses the buttons to open them up. After a quick introduction and letting them eat breakfast, the Pokemon scamper around the room, stretching their unused muscles.
After exploring the room, each Pokemon settles into their new surroundings. The stronger Pokemon, Lickilicky, Feraligatr, and Tangrowth each do some training and exercises with one another. Kricketune and Venomoth take a nap near one of the sun lights. Dunsparce finds the sand and digs itself a hole to hide in. Wartortle splashes in the pond, swimming and enjoying the water on its skin. Plusle, Croconaw, and Makuhita stick together in the middle of the room, as if they knew each other previously. Buneary, Spinda, Roselia, Oddish, and Linoone hang around the female human, wanting to play, be pet, or grab some much needed human companionship.
She picks up Oddish, smiling back and its blue face. “Aren’t you just the cutest thing ever!” It cheers back, happy to receive attention. “And you too, Roselia! So sweet!” The other Pokemon bark at her cheerfully. “Oh, all right. You’re all just so cute. Come here.”
“Spin... da spin.” The confused bear Pokemon points to her. Then it points to the Pokeballs on the cart next to the door.
“Huh? Oh. Do you mean your Trainer, right? We’re looking for them right now. Hopefully, we can find them for you. Won’t that be wonderful?” Her checks hurt from forcing such a fake smile. In truth, she doesn’t want them found. She hopes that she can keep them with her for as long as possible.
As days pass by, her experience with these Pokemon changes her attitude. She laughs more often and hasn’t felt such pleasure in so long. So much so that she hasn’t had any nightmares, nor has had to resort to perfume sprays throughout the day. All these Pokemon, not just the Oddish she so desires, are keeping her spirits up. Even through the sadness that a Pokemon eventually will be taken back, she remains hopeful for herself and keeps a positive attitude around them. And she hasn’t needed her glasses to hide her face as she usually did at the station, showing the world how pretty she really is.
She sits down and watches the room change before her eyes. At her side, Buneary twists its ears and fades away. Croconaw, Plusle and Makuhita, apparently all owned by the same Trainer, leave a vacant spot in the middle. A flying Venomoth disappears, as if disappearing into the fake clouds painted on the ceiling. Lickilicky throws a punch, which fades away as it hits into the other sparing Pokemon. But her eyes remain ever awake and filled with joy.
But, on this particular day, her heart takes a shot from behind, leaving her vulnerable and weak. When she checks the computer first thing in the morning, a sorrowful tear drops onto the keyboard. Quickly, she throws the chair back and rushes into the Pokemon Storage room, only to confirm with her eyes that it isn’t a lie. Roselia had been picked up last night. Her heart falls like a heavy weight, upset at the loss of the rose Pokemon. However, her mind convinces her heart to smile, and be pleased that she still has Oddish in her care.
Day by day, one by one, the room capacity increased as Pokemon are taken back. Tangrowth, Wartortle, then Feraligatr... gone.
As sad as it could have been, she tries her hardest to keep her happy spirit. With only a week to go, she still has 5 Pokemon in her care. Oddish. Oh how she loved that Pokemon. With these few remaining, she’s really become close with the Pokemon, except for Dunsparce, whom remained in the corner day in and day out, dug in its hole in the sand. With the loss of Roselia, she can focus her attention and care on Oddish the most.
Oddish rubs its leaves in her face, tickling her nose. She laughs, throwing a quick sneeze, then laughs again. She picks up the grass Pokemon, clicks the day lights off and flips on the moon light. Glow in the dark spots of paint on the ceiling reflect fake star light around the dark room. Kricketune, familiar with the night atmosphere, begins to rub its legs together in violin fashion. April grabs the blue weed Pokemon like a person, twirling around the room in a midnight dance. Oddish shakes its feet, trying to dance in the air. It glows warmly, sending emanating waves around its partners’ body, signaling that it enjoyed her company and entertainment.
Spinda points to Kricketune, wanting to dance. But the bug shrugs its shoulders, denying, continuing to create leg rubbing noise. He’s disliked all the attention Oddish received the past couple weeks and can only wait until the day its name is called. Linoone cuts in the middle of the two Pokemon, accepting the gesture. The two encircle each other in a difficult dance between a Pokemon with two feet, and a Pokemon with two left feet. Not all effort is gone to waste, when April gives a hearty laugh at their expense.
The lights flip back on. An officer stands at the doorway, ready to take another Pokemon. He calls the name, with what seemed like special effects slow motion. Her heart drops, shattering upon impact on the bladed grass. Her arms, instinctively withdraw to her body, holding Oddish tightly.
“Oddish’s Trainer has been found. I- I have to take him.”
She wants to refuse. This can’t be happening. No. Oddish is her Pokemon. She hugs it tightly; dropping tears onto its green leaves.
“Sorry April, we have to do this. Don't make this harder on yourself.” He grabs the Pokeball at the door, holding it out. “Oddish, return.”
“No, wait...” But as she pleads, the weight in her arms vanishes away, like so many of the Pokemon before. Her knees drop to the floor, letting her loose arms dangle in defeat. She holds her head low, hiding her face with her sandy blonde hair.
The officer can only stare in remorse, knowing that he can’t do anything about what she’s going through. He looks away, stepping out.
April looks back up. The other three Pokemon stand around her, curious and worried, trying to comfort her. She wipes her face in a mixture of anger and sadness, quickly rushing to the door, only to collapse at the door frame. “Pleaseee!!!. Wahannn... Don’t take it away from me. Oddish is everything... nngggg... annnn...” Having suppressed her despair for such a duration, an emotional flashback triggers, that leaves her feeling alone...
The little girls’ hands are bandaged with pieces of clothing, to stop the bleeding and to make sure the message heals correctly. Through the torture, her screams reach the heavens, and yet, not even the angels can save her now. For the depths of hell have surely risen over her soul.
The burly man drops her across the room, next to the window. Her hands shake without feeling, numbly trying to move each finger to raise herself off the floor. But all her effort and strength is gone, without a light to brighten her up. She wants to sleep, to escape reality for the dream world; where gummy bears and lollipops live in harmony on Candy Street. But she can only stare at your disfigured hands and cry through the pain.
The mothers’ rope is cut loose from the bed, so that the two men can move her into perfect position. She struggles, trying to wave her tied hands at them, but the two men easily overpower her with brute strength. Her nose snorts, expelling built up oxygen she intended to use to escape.
A voice calls out, stressed in disarray, followed by a door closing. It’s faint, but close by. The little girls' heart picks up speed, pumping blood in a rush of adrenaline. Someone did come... someone did come to save her. Her hands continue to shake as blood passes through her entire body. That voice, it is very familiar. Another shout, this time louder. Her eyes blink rapidly, trying to regain focus. A name. The person called her name. Yes, it’s as clear as the sunlight.
The two men exchange arguments, preparing for the inevitable entry.
Light flickers under the closed door, trying to break in and light the room; to clear the shadows and give hope to a dismal situation. A panicked voice shouts again, calling two names. Closer. And closer. Until the door pops open. Light curls around the front of the room, signaling a safe haven within reach.
The man at the door shouts, “Karen!.....April!... Oh my god!...”
“DADDY!!!” The little girl shrieks in tearful reunion, using all her built up energy to run toward the light.
The slender guy strikes the father, locking the two into a body holding fight. He slams her dad into the door, twisting around and slamming him into another dresser with a mirror over the back. Her dad coughs, turning back with a right hook to his jaw. The slender man counters with his own hook, but her dad ducks, throwing the intruders momentum into the mirror. Glass shatters into his face, forcing the first deep voiced scream the house received tonight.
Her body steps out of the shadows, into the lit hallway. She turns to watch from the doorway.
But within those shadows, she sees those fierce eyes and smirky grin planning something devious. It isn't a knife this time, but a gun, gleaming with sin in the darkness. *BANG* For a moment, her body freezes in fear. Her protector, the one that would always be there for her in a moment of danger, collapses to the floor with one shot. Her mothers' scream shrieks loud enough to break the duct tape surrounding her mouth.
“AHHHWWW! JON!! April, run!” She claws her way across the bed, escaping the burly man’s grip, and jumping on the slender man’s back, pummeling his head. He faints backward, still blinded by the glass shards in his face. The mother collapses next to her husband, picking up his head and holding her hand.
“Go...” she says with regret, wishing that she could do more.
Reluctant at first, the little girl scampers down the steps, down the hall, turns the knob, and runs. *BANG*
She ran, as far as her little legs could take her. 10 years later, she’s still running.
The days move by slowly, without a purpose. She sits in the Pokemon Training room, devoid of all meaning. Life is being cruel to her and she hates it. No amount of perfume can escape this reality. What more is there to do in life if every thing is taken away from her? Kricketune jumps for joy when his name is called. Spinda, as well, is great to be back with its Trainer. Linoone, the last close Pokemon to her, vanishes from her sight. All that remains, is a lone, weak Dunsparce. On the last day, she sits near the sand pit, where the normal Pokemon always hid under the sand.
“I guess you and I are a lot a like. Loners, destined to be secluded from society. But I guess it’s our own fault that we hide from the world. They don’t understand us. They don’t care about us. I don’t know who your Trainer was, but maybe he doesn’t want you back. Nobody wants to be around me either.” She covers her head with her arms in a duck-and-cover position, feeling guilty about her behavior. "I’m sorry I never paid any attention to you. I guess sometimes I get so caught up in my own world that I forget other people have feelings too. That they have their own problems in life to deal with. Here you are, alone and afraid, waiting for your Trainer to find you. And what do I do to comfort that... leave you here. Alone... just like everyone does to me when I....” She stops herself from finishing the sentence to prevent another flashback.
Dunsparces' wings pop out of the ground, fluttering to lift its oval, tan body up. It snuggles next to her legs.
A sniffle crosses her nose. Not from a sad memory, but from the moment right now. “Thanks.”
It’s been a month since the Tan Gang incident occurred. 96 Pokemon have found their homes. Only 1 remains.
Today, April sits across the desk from Commander Nickels. Her duty as Pokemon Caretaker is over, and she never wants that position again. The pain of having to take care of Pokemon only to have them leave became too much for her. And she is due for a performance review. The first thing he mentions, is the job well done she did in taking care of the Pokemon, but she doesn't respond to it.
Nickels carefully looks over some other papers. “Hmmm. I was going through your investigational report about the assignment I gave you a few weeks ago, but you haven’t completed it. Did you ever find anything out about that Trainer, Junior Detective?”
She gasps, having completely forgotten that task she was given. Quickly, the knowledge flows back to her mind, remembering her interviews at the Pokemon Center and the Gym. “Oh, right. I’d like to deploy to Mahogany Town to investigate further.”
“Mahogany Town?” The commander nearly chokes. He wonders what kind of investigating she conducted that would lead to such a conclusion, when all other leads went to dead ends. “Are you sure about that?”
“Absolutely. When can I go?”
“Now, hold on a minute. We can’t simply send you on your own. I’ll issue an escort...”
“No.” She boldly states. “I have to do this on my own.”
He strokes his mustache, pondering her capabilities. “You’ll need someone to go with you. I can’t just send you alone as a Junior Detective at your age. I can lend you some Pokemon from our staff for your trip.”
“Sir, if it’s okay to speak frankly.” She receives the nod. “I need my own Pokemon for this journey. This is something we have to accomplish together.”
“Yes. I know what the procedures are for recovered Pokemon that remain more than a month here, but I don’t know anyone more deserving than myself. Please Commander Nickels, I need this.”
Original Post: July 2009 at PE2K vBulletin
EDIT: here you go. God help me.
Introduction: Terrific. Perfectly so. You open up the story like an horror movie, outlining the terror of April as the little girl gets dragged by the "very nice people", to use an euphenism. And then, when you'd expect the horror to come next, she wakes up. And it's worse.
I'm not one to read such thrilling stories by miself, as I like my past time to be more happily themed, yet your introduction was excruciatingly drawning for me- almost frustratingly so as it outlined my own childishness. But that's not the point.
However, the fact that everybody seemed to know exactly what happened previously, while the reader is left wondering- unless he reads the previous entries- can be annoying. The story itself stands on its own legs, but I myself won't settle for a not better specified "attack from an evil gang foiled by teen hero(?) and former member of the gang". Oh, it works as mean to add mistery and thrill to the story, but since it's common knowledge to everyone- even "common" people- it can frustrate the reader to be the only one not possessing said knowledge. Granted, the commoners have more or less the same informations that the reader gains by the end of the story, but until there they still know more.
That's the power of summaries I guess.
Story: it was very interesting, as not only there was a mainstream plot- April's investigations- but you took the time and placed perfectly coherent subplots- April's past, her Pokemon babysit assignment- while not losing focus- at one point April did derail, but you flawlessly put it back into motion.
I found it a bit strange of her not to own any Pokemon- you'd think, even as Junior Deputy, she'd be compelled to have one, even though her duties were mostly paperwork related- but, given her fixation with grass Pokemon, especially flowering ones, it could be explained as her not having met her match. After all, honestly speaking, there are Snover and Abomasnow that live in cold places, but they're not really blooming any time of the year. They do grow berries though. And it becomes a plot point later, when she asks for the custody of Dunsparce.
Grammar: you'd think someone who typed up- or copy/pasted, I wouldn't know- one would be immune from typos- or at least, have its spider sense tingling when a typo is committed.
As it seems, life isn't perfect like that. The errors you made were simple, probably distraction or sleep-deprivation driven ones, yet they do bother me greatly- as they would to anyone who can spot them. There were "it's" instead of "its" and similiar- I can't really pinpoint more, because I'm doing this on the first read. Now, since for this spell-checkers won't work, only thing you can do is read your story a day or something later, maybe after waking up and shaking off the drowsiness with some coffee. That's all I can say.
There weren't many, truth be told, but the better a story is, the easier it is to spot an error amidst the "perfection" surrounding it. It's like hearing an off-note in a classical composition- if you're mildly interested you'll notice it at least subconsciously.
Description: you made me feel sick. Not in a "eww" way, but by having the way you described things pass on strong feelings to the reader- they did to me, at least, but I'm still shaken from reading again Bitter Virgin (a manga) and albeit with totally different situations you definitely conveyed the same level of angst, panick, and general sadness in a compressed piece.
Being as nosy as I am, I read some of the previous grades to this story, and I couldn't notice the issues Emma was having with your description- then again, I don't value my skills nearly as good as anybody here :x
Length: I didn't bother checking the length: I know it's plenty. You could've added a little as of summary, but this being probably meant as a new start, as I saw it anyway, I can't say it would've been necessarily better.
Characterisation: Since there is no battle here, I'll improvise. You definitely painted a very round character, what with her quirks, tragic past, and final desire of renewal. It was quite painful to see the scenes as Pokemon Daycare Attendant after Roselia's return to its trainer, as they were showed through April's eyes- I could feel her growing despair as her little friends left her and she remained alone (or so she thought), while however being outside of her head. It was almost scary.
Outcome: I almost want to give her my Bellossom, if that makes her happy. Though I can't. All I can do is tell you Dunsparce is given to her custody. It was a nice surprise to leave her with that Pokemon, you know? Well, I don't think "nice" really fits the tone of the story so far, but still.. you get what I mean.
The suspense feels like minutes of agonizing torture, as the commander sits back in deep thought, staring at the ceiling. She can’t wait any longer for an answer: for the one simple word of reassurance that will shape her future.
It was never about physically owning a Pokemon-any person can do that-but this Dunsparce, this Pokemon, something about him gave her a realization of hope for a different perspective. Before this past month taking care of the Pokemon, she had low contact with any Pokemon and absolutely no interest in owning one. Pokemon were something people take care of as pets or use to fight battles. She was always more interesting in human interaction and trying to fit in. But even that was never easy for her. Most often, people avoided her and kept conversations short. As such, she felt she had to try harder to impress others.
On the other hand, she never imagined the length of emotions and personalities Pokemon actually have. They were just like people; maybe even more so. The main difference between humans and Pokemon is the social game. Pokemon are so simple minded, only wanting to eat, sleep, and enjoy life. They don’t have to worry about going to work, making money to survive, looking cute for the boys, flirting for attention, or the way people look at her when she has a flashback moment. None of the Pokemon cared who she was or anything about her past, only the fact that she was taking care of them at the time. Interaction without consequence.
And then, he looks at her. His lips seem to move slowly, mouthing a short, word. It doesn’t fully register until the sternness from his voice penetrates her ears. There’s no smile, no grin, not even a face of sympathy at her. Life can change in the blink of an eye, or in this case, a single response.
And there’s nothing she can do about it. Nothing. All she can do is nod repeatedly, reluctantly, and accept defeat. She closes her eyes, feigning acceptance, but mentally she is distraught. Dunsparce would have been a new start. Every time she was with those Pokemon, not a bad thought slipped into her head. For the longest time in ten years, she was actually happy for herself and not worrying about her nightmares. All the smiles in the world couldn’t have replaced those weeks. It’s amazing how two letters can create a bevy of emotion and self doubt. And as she stands from the chair, thanking the commander for her review, a glint of hope sputters out with a long pause afterward.
The passion blown out of her eyes lit back up like a candle to a flame. Certainly not the three letter word she had hoped for, but just enough. The little kid in her wants to run around the room in a frantic cheer, but she holds steady in case she’s let down again.
“... if you truly believe in this, there is only one way I can approve your ownership. It’s clear that you understand we cannot give unclaimed Pokemon to members of the force. It makes us look like we’re playing favorites. Then they say, ‘Did you even go looking for their owners?’ and sooner or later the Trainer who lost the Pokemon slaps us with a lawsuit. The only possible way for you to receive this Pokemon is if you resign. That means, and let me be perfectly clear on this, too. You will lose all access here and any status I have given you. Similarly, I imagine no other police force would hire you because of the liabilities. I know this job means a lot to you personally...”
“I’ll do it.”
Commander Nickels is taken aback by the quick response, and with such strong confidence. He sighs, with a grin of appreciation. “You’ve grown so much over the years, but some things never seem to change. I still remember the first day we showed you around. You were very quiet, but curious about everything. And always so stubborn about not getting ‘your way’, ha!”
It takes a half an hour to go through the quitting procedures, which consists of signing papers and filling out forms. Lastly is the form for owning an unclaimed Pokemon from the Police.
He mentions that their current list contains five trainers or persons, each owning a few or more Pokemon already. It’s rare to have a person sign up without a Pokemon, but when they do, usually they are the first to receive one, especially to young kids and the elderly. The elderly are always top priority for the basic reason that they need the most help and a Pokemon is a great companion to keep them company. But even those happen once in a few years, since Medicare companies pay for there own similar programs with better benefits.
“That’s the last one, you’re on your own now.”
“When can I pick up Dunsparce?”
“Slow down little Weedle; you’re trying to evolve too fast. Paper work has to go through first, so I’d say late afternoon tomorrow. But I’m curious to know what you’ll be doing with the investigation. I mean, you can’t go anymore. We’ll have to send someone else to Mahogany Town.”
“Hold on a minute. I’m still a detective, silly. You promoted me to Junior Detective. That means I can apply for Private Detective status without taking any tests. As a Private Eye, you can hire me to investigate on my own terms.”
Nickles chuckles to himself. “You’ve done your reading,” he says with relief. The fact that she knew that knocks the doubt off his shoulders.
A Private Detective works for themself and usually does random jobs around town. Most often a detective ad can be found in the newspaper. Usually they handle small family matters, but often times they are also allowed access to police records and information, and even hired by the police to help solve cases. However, in no way are they actually associated with each other as a government paying job. Detective work is all freelance. Like April, most Private Detectives start within the police and branch out on their own when they have enough experience. The difference with her is that she is only sixteen, whereas Private Detectives with experience are older than thirty. Obviously if given a choice between the two, price excluded, one would pick the older detective.
The only thing she needs is a recommendation from the station commander. He gives it to her.
When April isn’t at work, she stays in her apartment and watches tv. What kind? Almost anything. Except drama. Something about those shows feel fake to her. She can’t believe that every teen and high school show can have so much drama. She won’t go out with me. I should be prom queen. Quarterback’s got all the babes! Granted, she was home schooled and hasn’t experienced peer learning, she just doesn’t understand why they freak out about such trivial ideals. At least reality tv feels more real, but the quality is missing. Most of her time is spent watching comedies, action and fantasy. Comedy to laugh at life. Action for the thrill. And fantasy to escape reality. Which leads to her favorite genre of all: anime. Anime doesn’t follow the laws of physics or a usual life. She always imagines herself in the show by the main characters side, experiencing their life with them, and perhaps go on an adventure full of excitement. This is one of the reasons she wanted to get involved with the Tan Gang Incident.
She scans her collection, a full bookshelf four tiers high, until she finds something else to watch. Adventures in Eden pops at her. It was a four part min-series about a girl in ancient times in search of adventure. It had heroes, magic, dragons, scores of enchanting music, and a quest for good. It was a series that she has grown to love each time and if all four were watched back-to-back, she always cried by the end.
10am, the clock reads. She only has time for Part 1, which mainly develops the story. As soon as it ends, it will be time for her to pick up her new Pokemon. She isn’t really paying attention, anyway; constantly looking at the clock and thinking about Dunsparce and her own upcoming quest. Dunsparce. Dunce parse... Hmm.. You won’t be alone for much longer. I’ll keep you company and play with you. Oh, I do hope he likes me though. We never spent much time together and... No no... it’ll be okay. Still excited!!
“..and tomorrow is a new dawn.” The ending music pronounces through the room followed by the end credits.
She snaps out of her lazy thoughts and turns everything off. She quickly brushes her blonde hair, spending a little time to straighten out her end curls. No matter how hard she tries, they always manage to disobey her combing direction. After donning her gray beret, she grabs her red razor scooter and drives to the station as quick as she can. Wait at a red light: not today! Pedestrians in the way: look out! Nothing can stop her, not even the floral shop she always stops by. The faint scent of pollen tempts her to stop by, reminding her that for the past few years she’s never missed a day. The florist, with her Bellossom by her side, waves eagerly, but April continues onward.
Practically out of breath, she crashes through the entrance, drops her razor and finally throws her arms around the front desk. The other officers and random patrons stare at her for making such a commotion before returning to their own tasks.
As usual, Attendant Miranda Bates is sitting behind the front desk. She looks up, arms folded. “Geez louise, April. You’re in a hurry today.”
She takes a breath, “Where...”
Bates interrupts calmly, knowing what she was going to ask. “The Commander’s in back, near storage. I’d suggest you take a breather first.”
“Thanks.” she says with a tiring grunt, shuffling her feet around the counter. She arrives a few hallways later. But before she has a chance to enter the storage room, Commander Nickels walks out. She half expected him in appropriate clothes for her big day, meaning a suit and tie and maybe a bowlers hat in true old fashion detective style, but as usual, he remains casual and unprofessional. A blue hawaiian shirt and khaki white shorts. At least he wore shoes and not sandals, thought she would have preferred the sandals just so his outfit would match.
“Ah, Mrs. Halliday. Wh- Is... is that a smile I see on your face?”
He catches her emotion off guard. It’s not everyday April comes in with a smile. Not a fake smile, either, like when she playfully teases the older officers. No, this is a genuine smile of happiness. Her cheeks blush a bit.
“And bright, colorful eyes too. You look like you’re beaming with joy. I hope this becomes a common occurrence from now on. Don’t let it get away, ok?” She nods. Nickels holds out his palm, showing a Pokeball. “And as promised, here you go: one Dunsparce.”
Who can imagine that contained within a device hardly larger than a small pebble can alter someone’s entire outlook on life? There it is, right in front of her. She moves her arm...
“But....” he drops his arms back into his jacket pockets. His jolly demeanor transfers back to his stern and serious questioning. “First, tell me, Mrs. Private Detective Halliday. I have to know what your plan is to pursue this lead.”
She pauses for a second. “To, uh, go to Mahogany as an undercover Trainer in order to find the missing person of interest.”
“Person of interest? Ah, excellent use of the term. And what have you learned about becoming a Trainer?”
“None. But I think I can wing it if...”
Nickels puts his arm on her shoulder, walking her down the hall to his office. “So, you expect me to hire you, is that it? Someone with no Trainer experience AND no Detective experience, which is required for this particular job. Yes?”
“Well, no. You said yester...”
They reach his office. He pats her on her beret and walks over to his chair. A serious grin appears. “I know what I said. Heck, I was there. But what do you say, huh? Show me some confidence.”
She takes a breath. “Sir, I’ll go out there and do the best I can.”
“That’s my girl. Will you succeed? Who knows. Does it matter? Not as much to us, but for you, it will matter as much as water to a lake. As long as you go out there and do what you can with as much effort as possible, then I know I’ve made the right choice.” Once again he hands her the Pokeball.
Cautiously, not sure what to expect, she takes it. She holds the Pokeball with her hands. “Thank you, sir. Thanks for everything.”
Through thick and thin, if there was ever anyone to go to for advice or company, Nickels was that guy. Without a father of her own, Nickles has taken that spot for the past five years. He was always watching over her, teaching her, and making sure she was raised properly. And now, after all these years, he has given her the last of his advice before letting her go on her own. It is her turn to be tested by life, to make her own mistakes, and to hopefully learn from them in order to grow into a mature woman.
Nickels extends a long, congratulatory hug. “I know you will do great out there. Call me if you need anything.”
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.
It is only until now that she gets a good look at him. The biggest draw of attention is his attempted beard that looks like he hasn’t shaved for weeks. Uncut and unkept. Probably unclean by the rest of his looks. His thick dark brown hair nearly covers his eyes and covers most of the back of his neck. He has a thin body of medium height, probably closer to six foot. His eyes hide behind a pair of black sunglasses. He wears a dark green coat with pockets on both sides and hood in the back. His jeans are dirty and covered in holes and what look like burn marks, either received from all the hiking or he bought them that way. His shoes are a peculiar brown-patch color and small looking, not like a pair of hiking boots. He has no gloves or hat like she does, at least not at this time. In addition to the pack on Stantler, it looks like he has a gold and brown bag on his back.
“That was some slide back there.” His voice is soft, calm and suspiciously friendly.
“Thanks for helping, I guess.”
“What happened? I don’t understand why they attacked me.”
“When you enter a Pokemon’s territory, they tend to fight back. The Pineco got defensive about you bothering the Kakuna and you were almost blown to bits. This guy here,” he points to his back, “used Protect around you to block the explosion.” The head on his ‘backpack’ twitches briefly.
“That’s a Pokemon?!” It hadn’t even moved the whole time they were standing there. Its arms and legs were clasped around his sides just like the straps of a backpack.
“Yep. He’s my Abra. And this is Stantler. Gotta be more careful up here. You should always have a Pokemon by your side.”
A blank expression crosses her face, letting his words sink in. She had completely forgot about Dunsparce. Searching through her bag, she finds his Pokeball and brings it out.
The hiker disappointedly shakes his head “If danger were to happen, you’d have no time to send it out. Is it just the one?” She nods. “I would make it more accessible if I were you.” He unzips his coat to show six Pokeballs lined inside, three on each side.
She recalls Trainers have belts to hold Pokeballs on. She thought it wasn’t necessary given that she only has one with no plans of needing more. Well, except for her own Bellossom. After a moment to think where to put it, she drops it in her jacket pocket. “I’m April, by the way.”
The hiker begins to walk away. “Nice to meet you. It’s good that you’re alright but I must be off. You best be more careful.”
“Wait.” She rushes to his side while unfolding her map. “Can you show me the way to Ice Path?”
He looks at her, shocked, trying to hold in a chuckle. He says in a serious tone, “Wow! You are WAY off.” He points on the map. “The cave is here and we are about... right... here.” He drops his finger well north of the cave. “It’s just outside Blackthorn, impossible to miss. I don’t know how you got all the way up here. I mean, how could you miss it... it’s right there after you exit the city.”
She can hear the audience laughing at her again. “Just, show me the way. I’m a little lost. Please?” She plays into her cute strength, although it’s not as effective while wearing a jacket.
The hiker ponders the situation, looking at her pretty face. “Not gonna happen.”
“Not my problem. Besides, if I take you there, by the time I get back here it’ll be dark and I prefer not to stay out that late. Especially tonight.”
“Do- do you live up here?”
He sighs. “You must not be much of a Trainer if you haven’t heard of Michelle’s Lodge yet.” He examines her up and down. “What’s the red scooter for?”
The hiker is beginning to get on her nerves. “Riding, duh!”
“A lot of good that does up here.” He kicks a boulder down a smaller dirt hill. “Compass? Pokedex?” She shakes her head, feeling stupid about not having a compass. “I’m surprised that you made it this far even for being lost. At least you’re wearing warm clothes. Way too much perfume, though. You think Pokemon care that you smell like?”
His unpleasant sarcasm and unwillingness to help is dreadful, but he’s the only person that can help her in this situation. The two hike together for a few minutes. April quietly stays behind him, keeping some distance.
He stops. “Why are you still following me?”
He sighs heavily, “I’m headed to the lodge. If you want to follow me there, fine. I can’t stop you. Well, I could but, uh, you know, never mind. Once we’re there, you’re on your own. No offense, but I don’t have time to babysit rookies.”
It’s not like she has a choice. It’s either follow him or attempt to find her own way only to become more lost. He doesn’t even try to help her hike with him, maintaining a few good paces ahead. At one point they climb up a rock and he just stands at the top, waiting and watching her struggle on her own. He was just like all the others back home. When she needed help the most, no one would reach out to grab her. Really, is it so hard to show a little compassion to a complete stranger in desperate need?
A cool air breeze blew by as they continue to hike. Stantler halts, sensing a voice to their right. She nudges the hiker, pointing with her head. He listens, shushing April to remain quiet. It’s faint but audible enough to determine the sound. “Crying? Could it be....”
He leads them over to a speckled grey and black boulder twice their size. The insufferable sobbing grew louder as they circle around to the other side. There, on the floor, sat a brown Pokemon with a white skull on its head. A small chiseled bone lay by its side. Its crying is loud enough that it doesn’t even notice the two humans standing in front.
“I thought so.” The hiker sighs, stepping back and turning around. “Come on, let’s go.”
All the while, the Pokemon continues to shed tears. Her mind flashes memories of her childhood. ‘It’s best if we leave her alone.’ ‘I’m concerned for you, April. This... solidarity has gone on long enough.’ She tugs the hiker’s coat, raising her voice. “Wait, we have to help it.”
“You don’t understand. I’ve seen this Cubone numerous times since I’ve been up here and all it does is cry. It’s a waste of time. Not really worth catching either.”
“Maybe cause you can’t,” she snaps at him.
Feeling challenged, he snaps back, “Believe me, I can. Besides, why would I want to listen to this all day. No thanks. If you want to wake up at midnight to feed this baby, then catch it yourself. Then you can have someone else cry with you when you get lost.”
April is not a Trainer. End of story. In her plan to trail Jack, she has never once thought about obtaining more Pokemon. There’s no reason to. She is a detective, not a Trainer. But perhaps Dunsparce isn’t enough. She looks at the little Pokemon, unaware of the situation. A little girl version of herself flashes in its spot as she once again recalls her past. All those months in a room, all alone and left to cry. She empathizes with the Pokemon, but at the same time she tries to not think about what happened.
“Get a hold of yourself, April.” She takes a breath and looks at the hiker. He stands impatiently with his arms crossed. She isn’t a Trainer but she has to make everyone else believe she is. That’s the secret to becoming a great detective. She convinces herself that this must be a test of her undercover abilities. Maybe if she has more than one Pokemon, she won’t be confused as a new Trainer. Her major problem with having a battle is her lack of experience. She’s spent zero time watching battles, learning techniques or even reading the basics. She’s never much payed attention to the Pokemon around her. Well, except for Bellossom. She recalls her earlier conversation with Commander Nickels saying she would ‘wing it’ if she had to prove her ability. Just send a Pokemon and it fights. How hard is that?
She grabs her Pokeball and points it forward. “Come out Dunsparce.” A red light beams on the dirt, forming the little yellow snake into shape. “See that Pokemon, go attack it.” Dunsparce only looks up at her as if she lost her mind.
The hiker collapses comically. “This is a joke, isn’t it? You have to call attacks.”
“Attacks, right. I know that. Uhm.... Do you happen to know what are they?”
Facepalm. “This is going to be harder to watch than an all Wynaut battle,” he says to himself. “Try a simple Tackle attack.” He opens his bag on Stantler’s back.
“Kay, I can do this. Go tackle it.”
All this time Cubone remained in front of the boulder, drowning its eyes in sorrow, fully unaware that Dunsparce was leaping forward. He slams head first into the dino’s stomach, bulging its eyes out of the skull, tears twinkling in the air. Dunsparce leaps back, ready to go again. Cubone ceases crying, grabs its bone and stares back, quivering its lips in fear.
“Now I catch it?”
The hiker steps by her side once more, showing her his Pokedex, one of the original models. “No, you keep going. Here’s a list of attacks that Dunsparce knows. You can also dodge, block and counter attacks.”
April holds the red device, glad to have the hiker helping her for once. “Ook... Which one do I use?”
“You chose this battle, not me. I’d suggest paying attention to the field first.”
While she wasn’t looking, Cubone began waddling away in a whimper. Like most of its species, Cubone just want to be left to themselves. The Pokedex calls them the Lonely Pokemon. She watches the Pokemon run away and quickly glances at the Pokedex. The words and numbers make no sense to her. Her mind races full of unprepared thoughts. Will this attack work? Is it strong enough? Is she supposed to use it now? Today hasn’t gone right once and here she is, failing to even manage a simple battle. Doubt crosses her thoughts, kicking her to her knees and laughing at her pathetic attempt, much like the audience still watching from above. At least the ones that haven’t changed channels yet.
“I’m sorry Dunsparce. This was a mistake. As long as I have you, we should be fine. I thought I could do this, but, I dunno.” She collapses to her knees; distraught, discouraged. Defeated.
Dunsparce rolls his eyes. Not sure how that works with slanted eyes, but it just does, k. He jumps into the air, vibrating his tail and burrows into the ground. A few moments later, the ground shakes around Cubone, rising the earth up. Dunsparce lands a hit to its legs.
“Dunnssss...” he hisses.
“Dunsparce, wha-what are you doing?”
“Looks like your Pokemon is more ready to battle than you are, ” the hiker continues to joke.
Cubone stares back but whimpers away again. Just as before, Dunsparce erupts from the dirt, knocking Cubone off its feet. April and the hiker watch in peace, unsure as to what they are watching.
This time, Cubone knows it can’t run. If it tries, Dunsparce will dig under again. Unless... Cubone smirks, sticking its bone under its arm and then jumps at a tree, clawing its way up. It was a fast climber and was well out of harms way. Dunsparce doesn’t have any claws to climb with. But even this wouldn’t be enough to escape. The snake coils his tail into the ground and springs upward, poised to strike. Unable to dodge with its back turned, Cubone takes a hit in the shoulders, forcing it to lose grip and fall the half dozen feet back to the ground. It easily stands back up, resetting its skull helmet and searching for its... bone! It was gone. Where did it... there! Dunsparce has it.
Cubone’s eyes lit up furiously. A burst of blue energy flares around it, as if going Super Saiyan only without the ridiculous spiky yellow hair. In the blink of an eye it swipes at Dunsparce and retrieves its bone. Without a moments hesitation, it charges like a baseball batter and knocks Dunsparce out of the park. He crashes near the boulder, a bit dazed and disoriented. Cubone continues its rush with another swing, this time missing the dodging snake. The bone connects with a loud crack against the large boulder, snapping it into three pie shaped pieces. Cubone’s speed and determination seem to increase with each swing.
The hiker nudges April’s shoulder and points to an attack on the Pokedex. “Defense, uh, Defense Curl,” she chimes in, trying to be a part of the battle.
A quick shimmer surrounds Dunsparce just as the bone hits his side. He slides only slightly, rebounding the attack back. Having lost momentum, Cubone is vulnerable to attack and takes a second slam to the gut. Dunsparce slides himself back, quickly leaping forward while curling into a ball. He rolls straight into Cubone again, knocking it near a tree. The rolling attack makes a loop around for a second time, this time slamming it into the trunk. Dunsparce bounces back and circles around a third time. The lonely Pokemon, trying to catch its breath, carefully thrusts its bone in the ground in front at just the right angle. Unable to see accurately while spinning, Dunsparce falls for the trap, hitting the bone and flies into the air. Cubone grabs its bone, quickly chucking it upward like a boomerang. It hits hard, propelling the snake further upward. Upon retrieval, Cubone prepares a swing for the falling Pokemon. Ballsparce connects with a crack and is sent fumbling across the ground and finally flopping to the floor. Dunsparce is beaten and bruised; his tail limp and tired.
“Oh, Dunsparce. I’m sorry. You don’t have to do this.”
“He’s badly hurt. All those Rage-induced attacks are taking their toll. You need to recall your Pokemon. Take the loss and fight another day.”
He’s right, she thinks. She runs over to where he last fell only to see he isn’t there anymore. Cubone already realized this and had been watching the ground below him. But that isn’t where the attack will come from. Dunsparce pops out of a hole behind him only to realize Cubone was ready. His face crashes into the bone being used as a shield. Dunsparce props his tail to the ground and bounces back, pushing Cubone away.
April runs to her Pokemon, bending down in front of him. “No, stop. Dunsparce! I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Abra!” the hiker calls.
Abra’s eyes glow as he points his arm at April, psychically pushing her out of the way. A moment later, Cubone slams its club directly on Dunsparce’s skull. He takes the hit in order to flip around, using his tail to smack the bone out of its hand.
No joking, the hiker takes a moment to be serious. “Are you some kind of idiot? This is why we have Pokeballs.”
Both Pokemon are tired and exhausted, but still determined to win the fight. Cubone shakes his little hands, cracking his knuckles preparing for a bare fist fight. On the opposite side, Dunsparce’s eyes change color. Wait, what color are their eyes originally? The picture shows they have a black line for pupils. Slanted eyes are so weird. -.- Anyway, his eyes glow and stare deeply at Cubone, trying to force it to freeze. Cubone struggles its arms up and manages to press its skull down to block the stare. While it isn’t looking, Dunsparce is allowed a final jab at its stomach. Cubone, gasping after that hit, looks back through its skull to block the next attack only to find it is still being stared at. Cubone locks up, frozen in place.
Dunsparce’s body glows a light hue and opens his mouth, creating a ball of energy with the last of his strength. The swirling white light grows as big as his own body. He blasts the ball at Cubone, unable to dodge or swing back. The power rips into its body, slashing and draining all the energy out of it. A final *BLAST* after contact blows a hole into the ground, not as large as the previous explosion, but still large enough to cause some damage. A gust of wind blows in all directions, causing dust and dirt everywhere.
April covers her face only to realize she and the hiker were being protected again. He simply stood there, unafraid and head high, with the confidence of a master Trainer. The dirt settles. Cubone struck out. The crying has ceased.
Cept one. April runs to Dunsparce and gives him a big hug. He was panting and felt tense. She almost falls to tears seeing how hurt his body became. In a half sniffled voice, “Don’t overdo yourself like that again, k? I need you.” She rubs her eyes, trying not think about her flashbacks.
The hiker gives a round of applause. “For a Trainer that knows nothing about Pokemon, you sure have a strong Dunsparce. That Cubone put up a nice fight too. Congrats.”
That’s right, she has to catch it. Only one problem.... She looks at the hiker, slightly embarrassed, “You, uh, wouldn’t happen to have an extra ball, would ya?”
He falls comically, “Really? This has to be some kind of cruel practical joke. Where are the cameras? No Trainer can be this reckless.” He tosses her a Pokeball. “You owe me when we get to the lodge.”
She thanks him, kneeling over Cubone. She begins to tear just thinking what to say. “I know what it’s like to cry all the time. To be ignored. *Sniff* I’ve been living it for the past ten years. I still... think about it...” She takes a deep, relaxing breath. “Dunsparce here has helped me. My eyes.... they’re not as cloudy any more. And maybe... maybe all you need is someone to be with you too... sniff... some company, you know? One person to care about you...” She says this to Cubone but also how she felt of herself.
“Quuu...” it squeaks.
“What are you doing, telling it a bed time story?”
“Shut up!” she yells at him. She wipes the Pokemon’s face clean and puts on a sincere smile. “I’ll be here for you.” She looks at the Pokeball, then back to the hiker. “So, how do I make this work?”
“That’s it, I’m outta here.”
Originally Posted: January 2012 at PE2k vBulletin
-FYI: Grader, check first post for what kind of grade I want.
Not a bad start, the turmoil within the commander makes for an interesting read as the reader examines her inner thought processes. She is clearly facing a dilemma between her work and her need for companionship, which she feels a Pokemon will be able to fulfill best.
I think it’s telling of her character that she tries to get the best of the both worlds. She does this by resigning, but staying on as PI, thereby allowing her to claim a lost Pokemon while still doing her job. This means that she is willing to find the optimal solution to the problem, and not just see things in black and white. Although she is quite young, it’s a promising start in terms of character development for the story. Really done well.
Pretty long for a small Cubone, but despite the length I do feel it was necessary to the plot, otherwise a few portions would make absolutely no sense. That said, there was a few things that do need to be addressed.
The biggest problem I saw was that April’s background wasn’t really developed at, we barely know about her. Your detail on her was fuzzy at best and other than her name the only think we know about her is that her father is gone. For a mon of this rank it really isn’t that important, but by adding on the extra length you make it a factor. While we see her personality, we don’t know what shaped it or how she got to her current position. Being sixteen and an officer is pretty large accomplishment, it therefore needs to be addressed in some fashion.
The real saving of the grace was the trainer she ran into on her way to Blackthorn. You really made April out as a trainer with absolutely no idea of how to work with a Pokemon. So if she had to battle the Dunsparce alone it would have been a disaster, but by adding her protector it made the fight more realistic and actually enjoyable to read with the humor thrown in there.
I noticed during one part of the story that the story shifts from the commander and April sharing a hug to the reading of a dossier. I took me as complete surprise because of the lack of transition. It was an abrupt jump that had me questioning why it was there. For this sort of thing you really need to bridge the two parts with something, whether that be a break or something along those lines.
Practically flawless, only have a couple of things below that are worth mentioning. Good job here.
“Thanks[.]” she says with a tiring grunt, shuffling her feet around the counter. She arrives a few hallways later.
I’m pretty sure this is a typo, but the period in the brackets should actually be a comma.
“[Kay], I can do this. Go tackle it.”
‘Kay’ isn’t technically a word, so you need to have an apostrophe before the first letter.
As with the grammar, you did really well here also. Everything was aptly described and I had no trouble with any of the visualizations except for one problem.
As I said above, there was a lack of detail on April. With the exception of a few tidbits I only had a vague notion of what she looked like.
The biggest draw of attention is his attempted beard that looks like he hasn’t shaved for weeks. Uncut and unkept. Probably unclean by the rest of his looks. His thick dark brown hair nearly covers his eyes and covers most of the back of his neck. He has a thin body of medium height, probably closer to six foot. His eyes hide behind a pair of black sunglasses. He wears a dark green coat with pockets on both sides and hood in the back. His jeans are dirty and covered in holes and what look like burn marks, either received from all the hiking or he bought them that way. His shoes are a peculiar brown-patch color and small looking, not like a pair of hiking boots. He has no gloves or hat like she does, at least not at this time.
In my opinion this is perfect detail for the hiker. I only wish you had applied this to April, as you clearly know how to do it, it makes me wonder why you chose not to do so.
As for the other areas that I look at for detail (human characteristics, Pokemon characteristics, Pokemon attacks, physical details, environment and senses), you had all these except the senses down pat. While incorporating the senses is a hard thing to do in certain stories, you can usually tie it in at least a couple times for a story of this length. One spot that sticks out to me would have been when she was hiking towards the Ice Path. You said before that it was pretty cold there, so on her way I would have liked to something about the weather and how it affected her. This is also a minor spot if taken into the rest of the story, but it would created a more complete picture for the reader.
Well, the good news is that I saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico.
Overall, a really well done story. Cubone Captured. I did point a few things for the sake of pointing them out, but you know what you are doing and there really isn’t much I can offer you in terms of what you need to work. Just keep in mind my advice.
Yes, she has held a Pokeball. Yes, she has pointed and called Pokemon in and out. She knows Trainers catch Pokemon but the actual means to do so is lost to her. The hiker isn’t helping, but instead chooses to watch and keep his distance, as his motive appears to be. He would have to be immoral to the core to abandon her after this. And if he does leave her behind, she may have to give Cubone up to save herself. The thought of going through all the trouble just for nothing bothers her enough to stay and try. How about pointing the ball at it? Nothing. She says its name, saying ‘return’, but it fails. Puzzled, she takes a quick look back where the hiker was standing but he had apparently moved on. Bastard.
“Did ya’ forget to pack your brain today?”
His calm, questioning voice causes April to jump and shriek, startling the nearby Pokemon that were watching from high in the trees. Somehow the hiker got behind her without her knowing. He must have run but from that distance in such a short amount of time is physically impossible. This can’t be real. No human can move like that.
“It’s real easy. First, press the button to expand the ball. Then say a prayer to your Pokemon God. It has to be a good one or it won’t work. They know too. Lastly, do a cool fighting style pose and finish by rolling the Pokeball along the floor, like a bowling ball, at the Pokemon.”
She isn’t sure whether he is joking or serious. His dialogue has been all over the place, it’s hard to tell what emotion he’s using and how serious he is about it. Hers, however, has been easy to figure out. She’s upset, tired, and very demanding. She’s not having fun, which the hiker has been increasingly noticing since they met.
“Can’t you give me a straight answer? A Pokemon is hurt and all you’re doing is making jokes. Cubone isn’t laughing.”
The hiker’s face remains motionless. Not a smirk, a frown nor a smile. He looks away for a second, unappreciative that she was staring at him so coldly. A snappy comeback pops into his head but he passes the opportunity to use it. He scratches the side of his stomach and nonchalantly says, “All you have to do is make contact with the Pokeball and the Pokemon. Either by throwing or simply pressing it to the body.”
Her face burns red with fury mixed together with the rage-like anger Cubone had been displaying. What a jerk! She taps the Pokeball on Cubone and nothing. It doesn’t work. No red beam, no opening. Nothing. Dunsparce looks up at her, shrugging in confusion. She turns back around to hear the hiker’s echo from afar. He had vanished again.
“Hey, let’s go. Time’s wasting.”
“No, w-wait a moment.” She frantically switches Pokeballs and recalls Dunsparce.
“Dunnn...” he sadly murmurs before being recalled.
She drops her two Pokeballs- one full, one empty- in her jacket pocket, grabs her satchel and scooter, and hurries in the direction the hiker’s voice came from. A couple minutes away she finds him standing with Stantler, again, impatiently waiting.
“We have to go back. It didn’t work.”
“The Pokeball. It could be broken.”
“Not likely. Takes a lot of force to pop one of those.” He continues his pace. “If you wanted it so badly, you could have carried it the rest of the way.”
That’s a good idea. Pokemon don’t need to be caught with a Pokeball. “Ok, let’s go back..”
“No, you can go if you want. I’m not wasting any more of my time with this.”
“Why’s this such a big deal?”
“It’s a disgrace. Up to now, every single Pokemon I have caught for myself was done by me. No help. None. If I were to accept someone’s help, that would disgrace my honor as a Trainer. Some things just need to be done on your own. What’s more impressive: 30 Trainers fighting Ho-oh, or 1? It would be like buying Pokemon that other, hard working Trainers caught. I’d rather brag that every single Pokemon I caught was through my hard work and dedication.” He holds his dirty hands up. “I want to constantly challenge these hands with the weight of a battle. To hold a trophy up high and say ‘I truly earned this.’ A Pokemon’s strength isn’t what it can do for you, it’s what you, as the Trainer, did to get it. Isn’t that what you signed up to do: challenge the world with your individual strength? That was your battle, your chance, and your failure. What happened, happened because you weren’t strong enough. Now it’s time to move on and hope you’re ready next time.”
“So you’re just going to leave a Pokemon injured in the forest?”
The hiker pauses to take a breath before moving on. “I have to. You wouldn’t understand.”
April takes a look back, really pondering the words of the hiker. Maybe it’s for the best. Does she really need another Pokemon? Needless to say, she worries that Cubone will make it through the night. Great speech and all, but his philosophy has a few holes in it. She mumbles to herself, “Leave a helpless Pokemon behind.... and that isn’t a disgrace?”
The pair continue hiking, this time at a slower pace and together. The silence allows her to think about the battle and how hurt Dunsparce became. The pain on his face while it battled showed her just how horrible fighting is. She doesn’t want to lose Dunsparce. Why do Trainers do this? Do they get some sort of satisfaction watching animals hurt themselves for their personal gain? Pokemon can get seriously hurt or even die. She begins to wonder why Dunsparce even fought in the first place. It was obvious that she wanted him to stop, yet he continued anyway. Why is this?
As they walk up a rock aligned hill, April grabs her leg, remembering she got it cut sliding down the hill. She endures the pain, continuing on. She wants to slow the pace to lessen the pain but the hiker keeps looking back at her, waving his arm to hurry up. She has to get her mind off the pain.
“You never told me your name.”
He doesn’t respond quickly, preferring to keep it silent. “It’s not important.”
“Yes it is. I’ve given you mine. It’s proper to respond with your own.”
“After tomorrow we’ll never see each other again, so it’d be pointless. You can call me anything you want. Lockhart Mcgee for all I care. I’ve already forgotten yours.”
Ooo, ouch. “It’s April. Like the month.”
“Uh huh...” he says, pretending not to listen.
This hiker has social issues. Nonstop he’s been firing rude comments at her, walking all over her as if she didn’t exist. Like a bully. She’ll be glad once they get to the lodge so she can get away from him. She doesn’t want to say anything more to him. On the other hand, the curious detective inside her heart overrules her brain.
“What is your problem?” she says, looking at him.
“What do you mean?” he says, not even looking at her.
“You know.... your bad attitude.”
“Pffftt. Let’s just hurry, ok? Your limping isn’t helping us get there any faster.”
She’s surprised he even noticed. “See, that’s what I mean.”
“Huh?” He takes a moment to see her unhappy look. “Oh, that. Just keeping myself entertained.”
“At MY expense.”
“Well, I’m not doing it at mine.” He laughs shortly. “Maybe you should lighten up.”
Is he serious? April is lost, tired, injured, and with Pokemon barely able to stand at the moment. What is there to be happy about? The only positive thing she’s had on the journey so far was running into the hiker, someone that would help her, and unfortunately that turned out to be negative too. Even the future is bleak. Where is she going... what will she do when she gets there? Can this guy even be trusted? The fear of the unknown is what scares her. A smile isn’t going to clear these dark clouds.
They stop at a tall cliff. It’s 90 degrees and unclimbable without proper gear. The hiker and April look up.
He bows slightly, lower his arms in a waving motion at the cliff. “Ladies first.”
“You’re kidding, right?” She isn’t amused at his attempted humor. The only remaining thought she has is of the pain in her leg.
The hiker appears hurt by her words but he was hoping for that response. “If you insist!” He points a Pokeball at Stantler and recalls her. He taps his Abra backpack and points up the cliff, then looks at April. “Meet you at the top!”
Madness, she thinks. It’s a pure 90degree drop about two stories tall. There aren’t any ledges or foot holes to grab. Not even any rope dangling from above to help pull him up. Unknown to her, if they walk the path a little more there’s a section to more easily climb up. Nope. Instead, he runs wildly at the wall, jumps and clings to it with bare hands. His shoes, not even hiking material, surprisingly don’t slip. He begins crawling at the wall like a dog paddling in the water. What... how is he doing this?, April ponders. First the phasing and now climbing. This guy is defying the very laws of physics. She walks up to the cliff, looking up for some sort of trick. Aha! He isn’t even touching the rocks, just barely a few inches away. It’s then that she notices his body surrounded by a faint glowing blue fuzz. Abra! That has to be it. She concludes that Abra must be controlling him somehow. She’s never witnessed such power from a Pokemon before and wonders if her own Dunsparce can do the same.
The hiker reaches the top, pretending to wipe the sweat away from his brow. He looks down, “I win.”
“You are one of the weirdest persons I’ve ever met.”
“Oh, a compliment rather than yelling at me. How kind of you.”
She lightens her mood, but remains unsure about her own means to climb. “How am I supposed to get up?”
He dodges the question, choosing to imitate April’s voice. “Save me, save me!”
He turns 180degrees to face the girl version of himself, changing his voice to a man version of himself. “Oh, I can’t do that. I have attitude problems. Find your own way up.” Turns again, “Don’t be like that.” One more time. “Too bad. Right Abra?”
Abra doesn’t respond.
April cracks a smile, holding a laugh through her nose. She was not expecting him to make fun of himself, even if she was a part of it. “I really hope we never see each other after this. You are unbearable.” The best part is she says it cheerfully, momentarily forgetting how horrible everything has been.
“That’s the spirit!” He laughs, pleased with the outcome. He taps Abra and he goes to work.
The blue aura surrounds April, slowly lifting her off the floor. “Hey, what’s going on...” She tries to move but she can’t. Her legs run through the air but her effort to get away fails. “Wait... Stop!”
“Stay still. It’s alright.”
There’s nowhere to run and nothing she can do to get away. She isn’t in control of her body. This feeling. She doesn’t like it. Her arms wave wildly at the air trying to break free, to no avail. She feels weak and powerless. The world around her turns to darkness, trapped in her nightmares that won’t let her go. Two beady eyes appear at the top of the cliff, focusing their psychopathic gaze at her. A twisted mouth you would normally see on a jack-o-lantern appears beneath them. The sharp teeth get a taste of her fear, chewing the air with satisfaction.
Run, little girl, run. All around her is darkness. Nothing. Not a soul.
“PUT ME DOWN!”
She screams out of fear. Her feet touch the cold ground forcing her to weakly collapses on it, exhausted in thought. Even way out in the middle of nowhere, the eyes of her attackers continue to haunt her. How far must she run to get away?
Her body drops a few degrees in temperature feeling a breeze of air roll along the surface. Her face tightens to guard against it. Her leg, once covered by her pants, feels the breath of cold air grabbing at her like fingers of death. For some reason, her pant leg was rolled up. Cold fingers begin to gently prod her, sending a chill down to her other leg. Then a soft cloth touches her, protecting against the air. Cotton? No, not soft enough. Whatever it is, the cold fingers move around her leg, holding the cloth in place as it wraps around her. Her mind races back to that moment ten years ago, trapped in her house being bound by those treacherous faces. Someone is tying her up. They found her! She focuses back to reality, determined to clear the darkness around her.
“Noooo!!!” April screams. The echo reverberates around the mountains sounding like a deafening boom.
She strongly grabs the hand by her leg, stopping it’s movement. She traces the arm up to the face. A pair of soft blue-green eyes meet her gaze, intently staring back at her. It’s the hiker. Without his glasses on, his face opens up making him look a lot sweeter than before. There’s something about his eyes that speaks ‘everything will be okay’. Confused, she looks down at her leg. A first aid kit sat by it. Her cut was wrapped up with gauze. Realizing she is safe, she lets go of his hand, allowing him to finish.
Afterward, the hiker stands up, sliding his shades into his coat. He looks up, noticing all the dark clouds gathering through the trees. A drop of water manages to dodge the leaves and branches on the way down, splashing onto his cheek. “Not much further to go.”
He extends his hand to her, helping her off the cold dirt. She’s speechless. He’s displaying a complete reversal of his previous attitude, offering her help without a snide remark. She’s not complaining; no, far from it. Maybe it is some trick of his. She decides to test the water.
“Thank you. It feels better.”
He takes a moment to let the words sink into his brain. “That’s good to hear.”
Again, nothing. No snap back. No stern, annoyed voice. This is the kindness she’d been hoping for all along. Granted his change of heart is late and won’t be enough to forgive him for earlier, but it’s much appreciated.
Out of the forest, they come to a path lined with old wooden poles and rope. The first thing she notices are the various shoe prints on the path. All the rocks and boulders are kicked off to the side, only leaving needles and leaves cluttering the path. They head right, down a slow hill. April hears a voice in the distance. They’re getting closer to civilization. What a relief! She needs some rest and food after all this exercise.
In a moment, the dirt path switched to stone brick. The old wood and rope change to dark metal poles with lights on top. To the left and right and spread all around are log cabins, single story and similar in size and shape to one another. There has to be at least twenty of them lined equally in rows and columns. They are made with wood shingles, log walls, thick glass windows and a stone fireplace; typical of how a log cabin should look.
This is the first moment when she realizes how late it is. The contrast between the darkening sky and the lit path to the cabins became easily noticeable. Or... was it really late at all? She notices the hiker’s coat had a few water drops on it. Is it raining? She takes her beret off, feeling that it is slightly wet, and looks up. A light raindrop perfectly hits her eyelid causing her to look away. After she wipes it off, a peculiar site further down the lane attracts her eyes. It looks like a house once stood in a plot of land but all that remained now were burnt, twisted logs and destroyed memories.
“Hey, come here.” April approaches the hiker standing in the front of the cabins. “If you go straight from here... straight, okay? One foot in front of the other. See that big building over there. The one not like any other. You can’t miss it.”
April frowns being insulted again.
“That’s the visitor center. Ask for help there. So, good luck and all that.” He walks away to his cabin.
The visitor center is a two story tall building and similarly made of wood like the cabins. She enters the enclosed porch, reading a sign hanging above the door. Michelle’s Lodge, it read. This was the place the hiker was talking about. From what she can tell by the surrounding cabins, it must be some sort of camp. Though, the lack of roads and visible cars makes her wonder why anyone would set up in nowhere land. It starts to rain as she walks in, moving some bells above the door. As cool as it was outside, inside is remarkably warm. She may have to take off her wool jacket if it gets any hotter.
Inside, the log theme continues. Even most of the furniture is made of woods, stumps and sticks, save for the cushions and pillows. To the right of her is a very hotel-like reception desk that appeared to have never been used. It’s covered with papers stacked high and a sign in book with the lodge’s name embroidered in gold. To the left, some couches and sofas. Possibly a waiting area. Straight ahead, a bar. A few tables and booths are set up for around thirty people to sit and eat. A holler comes from one of the back booths on the right where a couple guys sit and drink. A guy at the bar raises his glass to the booth, cheering and taking a sip from his mug. On the left side, a lone guy sits at a table watching the only tv in the room. It flickered a bit, unable to get the full signal this high in the mountains. At the bar, an older lady stands behind the counter.
But first, a bathroom break. Sponsored by Charmin.
Later, after cleaning up. She takes a couple steps toward the counter. The guys at the booth hush quietly, watching her. One of them whistles, causing the other one to laugh. They were obviously the shouts of older, drunk men. Obnoxious. That’s not to say she isn’t flattered. In fact, if ever the need, she knows it would be easy to tease them into getting what she wants. She ignores them, for now, and sits on a stool.
On the other side of the counter is the older lady, whom must be the only person working tonight. She has a huge head of hair. We’re talking 60's huge. Not fro-like, but in the same family. To make it worse, it’s dyed rainbow red. To match her hair are these obviously fake, long red nails. If anyone ever needed a back scratcher, just go to her. They’re so tacky and ugly, April cringes at the sight of them. The lady is taller than her, perhaps mid six foot, and sleek for her age, with a huge rack of boobs; certainly big enough for her to be jealous. Her face tells her real age, with age spots, wrinkles and crows feet naturally showing. It’s like, she doesn’t even try to hide them when they’re easy to cover up. She has to be at least fifty, but she wouldn’t be surprised if she was older than that. Even her younger, more hip clothes throw off the trail of someone too old to party. This includes large, round, silver earrings someone could hula-hoop with. With the white apron on, it’s like she’s trying to fulfill an old dream of wanting to become a bartender. To be honest, she looks in great shape but horribly mismatched.
On the wall are the usual array of glasses and bottles, but also a collection of pictures of the older woman, only younger and very beautiful. Boobs still the same size. Most pictures consist of her standing with someone else, a different Pokemon, and a trophy held in her arms. One of the photos is so old, it’s in black and white.
Last edited by Jack of Clovers; 09-22-2012 at 06:11 AM.
She speaks in a raspy, smoke-a-pack-a-day voice, “A little young for a drink, aren’t you?”
“I’m only sixteen.”
She pears in for a closer inspection. “And I don’t believe you’re a guest at my lodge. Are you?”
“Uh, no ma’am.”
She fills a glass with water, pushing it to her. “I see. Welcome aboard. I’m Michelle and this is my lodge. If you have any questions, just ask.”
Great, the owner. This is just the person she needs to talk to. She’ll help her for sure. April tells her the small tale of being lost and how she ended up here. She doesn’t mention anything about Cubone, thinking it unnecessary. She includes the bit where she’s really a detective looking for a Trainer named Jack, in the hopes that she’ll cooperate more efficiently. And perhaps a bit of a lie, she mentions there is a warrant for his arrest. It’s only a little white lie she hopes can speed up the process.
“A reward too, I figure. Well, well. Let me guess, you need a place to stay tonight.”
“Preferably, I need to go now. Anything you can do to help me get to Mahogany City to stop his injustices from continuing would be great.”
Michelle responds by tapping her nails along the counter. “You don’t know much about this place, eh. Kid, the only way in or out of here is by walking. There are no easy rides out. I have a helicopter come by once a week and drop supplies. That’s all. Sorry to burst your bubble but there’s nothing I can do to help cooperate with your search.”
“With your predicament, the only thing I can suggest is traveling with another Trainer heading the same way. There’s a tournament in Mahogany early next week and we happen to have some Trainers up here to train. They’ll be leaving in a few days. You can go with them.”
Three days. The helicopter she mentioned must not arrive until after that. At least it’s better than being lost in the forest, weak and starving, wondering if she should eat Dunsparce to last another day.
Bells ring behind her, meaning someone opened the front door. It’s the bearded hiker, wearing a regular forest green shirt and sleeping shorts. Short stubbles of hair and healing bruises cover his legs. Under his shirt, on his right arm, he wars an black colored elbow and shoulder brace. April wonders if he got in a fight. She looks away, not wanting to look at him, hoping he’d just go away. Knowing his attitude toward her, he would at least say ‘Hi’ with a negative comment then leave. He does notice her but continues walking to the lone guy watching tv to strike up a conversation.
Michelle smiles, wrinkling her cheeks with ease. She points a sharp finger at the hiker. “Hey, you, fire starter.” The hiker ignores her, finishing his talk with the guy. The owner yells, “HEY, Cage, get over here! We need to talk!”
The hiker, whos name appears to be Cage, shrugs saying his goodbye. He makes his way to the bar counter, momentarily pausing to bow. “Yes, m’ ladies. How goes your fine evening thus far?” He leans against the counter, facing the two ladies with a confident smile.
“Don’t give me that. Drink?” He waves it off. Instead, she pours a cold beer for herself. “You’re leaving tomorrow, correct?”
“As was your command. Weather permitting, of course.”
“What’s the forecast?”
“It said the rain should stop before breakfast and not start up until the late afternoon. But after tomorrow, it’s all clear skies.”
“That means, what, a six hour gap. Plenty of time to get to the cave...”
“You’re not serious. And then what, wait out the rain stuck in a cave until tomorrow? I know you want me gone, but I’m safer here for another day. You know it’s a fact.”
“Not gonna happen. You’re a strong Trainer, don’t think you can handle a little water?” Michelle squints her eyes, taking a sniff of disturbed air. The room was being enveloped in a cloud of tobacco smoke coming from the booth on their right. In a loud, upsetting voice, “What have I told you about smoking in here?”
One of the booth guys laughs, “Aw come on, it ain’t hurting no one. Have you seen the outside, it’s raining.”
Quickly, Michelle rushes out of the bar, her heeled boots clomp the wood noisily. She pulls the guy by the ear, dragging him out from the booth. He screams, begging for her to let go. She squeezes harder, pulling him toward the entrance. The guy’s face is red from screaming, as he stumbles about, trying to grab hold of a chair or something, but failing to maintain his grip. She throws him outside, into the rain, locking the door behind him. The guy at the bar and at the guy booth laugh their heads off seeing their friend tossed out.
“I hate when it rains. Riles you guys up too much” She says, walking back behind the bar. “Now what was I saying before the interruption?”
“You were going to let me leave after the rain ended.” Cage tries to take advantage of her forgetfulness.
She smacks his head, “Don’t be stupid. You’re leaving tomorrow. That’s final.”
“Ugh. Alright. But if I get hypothermia, I’m billing you.”
“Good, I can call us even if that happens.” She motions to the girl sitting close to him. “Have you met April? April, this is Cage. Cage, April. Oh, I heard you’ve met. Wonderful! That’ll make getting along less awkward. Cage, April here is headed to Mahogany, same as you.”
“Peachy.” He looks at her. “You sure you’re up to the task? It takes a little more effort to get lost this time.”
“Exactly my thought, my boy. I’m amazed this poor girl made it as far as she did on her own. That’s why I’ve decided that she’s going with you.”
!!!! “What!!?!” They both shout. They both give looks of shock and dismay. Both hearts skip a beat. It’s like they both won the lotto but neither are happy with how much money they won. On the one hand, she has an escort; on the other, it’s him.
“Michelle, but, why?”
“And she’s bunking with you tonight.”
He pleads with her, “You’re being unfair. Why can’t she sleep here?”
Michelle waves her finger at him. “You owe me this much.”
“I’d rather pay for the damage than this.”
She takes a quick chug and laughs back at him. She takes a couple steps away from the bar to a nearby window. “You know, every time I look outside and count the number of cabins, I’m reminded that there’s something missing.”
“I know what you’ve done, and I appreciate it. Even respect it to a degree. But for some reason, I can’t seem to shake this feeling that you burned down MY cabin. You’re leaving tomorrow, taking her with you, and that’s final.” She hurries back to the bar, folds her arms and stares Cage in the eyes.
Having successfully controlled the situation, she relaxes. “We’re done here. Have a goodnight, Cage.”
The hiker leaves with his mouth open, trying to find the words to argue back, but he knows nothing he says will change her stubborn mind. “Cabin 18,” he says before departing the lodge.
Not a word came out of April the entire conversation. Not that she had anything to add, but rather she wanted to listen and gather information of her surroundings. Her best detective weapons are information and finding ways to use or take advantage of it. Now that she is stuck with the last person on earth she wanted to see again, she has to dig for information from Michelle to make the best of the situation.
“So, what’s his story?”
“Who, Cage? He’s just like any other Trainer here. Came here to learn and train. Burns down cabins in his spare time. You know, typical things.” She jokes, finishing her mug. She places a small salad bowl on the counter. “Eat up.” Dinner of champions!
“He’s kinda a jerk.”
“He’s been increasingly distant since his arrival. He’s a good kid with a kind heart, but he has too much on his mind. It’ll be good for the both of you to travel together.”
The guy that had been sitting at the bar gets up, walking behind her. “I’ll- I’ll treat you real g-good.”
“Shove off, Rich.”
He thrusts his pelvis forward as he stumbles away. “Shove it all night long, yea baby!”
Cabin 18. Night has officially settled and the rain is pouring. April has to borrow an umbrella for the evening to keep dry. Her white shoes, however, slosh around in thick mud on her way over. She wishes the lodge was at least a little more civilized with paved roads and pathways. She knocks on the door, on the left side of the cabin. She’s called to come in by the hiker. What a gentlemen, huh. The cabin, much like the visitor center, retains its wooden style. Indoors consists of one bed in the center of the room, one dresser next to the bed, one mini fridge next to the dresser, one fireplace opposite the bed, one bath next to the door, and no tv. Next to the door is the hiker’s backpack, cargo style with more pockets than necessary. Between the bed and the bathroom is a rolled out black sleeping bag.
The hiker, Cage, is sitting on the bed wearing the same shorts and a shirt from a little bit ago. Still, he is perfectly dry and there is no wet umbrella anywhere. His muddy brown shoes are the only sign he’d even been outside. He’s continues combing a little red furred fox with three tails stretched in front of him. She steps forward, putting her finger tips out. The fox’s big eyes watch her, sniffing her hand. ‘Vuull..” it says, laying her head back down. Cage stops combing for a second, letting her pet the Pokemon. Her fur is sleek and well groomed, meaning he’s been taking care of her for a very long time. It’s sooo soft she can pet and hug her all day.
Cage coughs, abruptly.
April backs up. “What’s her name?”
“This is Firefox. She’s a Vulpix, if you didn’t know.”
“She’s cute,” April remarks kindly.
“Thanks. I try to keep her looking her best.”
Not sure what to say next, her detective curiosity kicks in. “So, wow, that cabin was burned down by you? What’s that all about?”
He looks up trying to hold back laughter under a serious grin. “Really? That’s where you want to start?” She doesn’t respond. Perhaps it was a bad question at a bad time. “Get ready for bed. I am leaving at nine-thirty, with or without you. The bed is all yours. Lucky you! I’ll sleep on the cold, barren floor like an animal. Any questions?”
Rude. “Not really.”
“Good. How’s Dunsparce? You should let it out for the night. There’s no Pokemon Center, which sucks but there’s nothing that can be done about it. I’d let it out for the night. Pokemon seem to heal better with company.”
As he slides off the bed, she grabs the two Pokeballs she kept in her jacket pocket. One was empty and belonged to the hiker, one is hers with Dunsparce inside. She lets the little snake out, patting him on the head. He smiles, tiredly, and slithers around the bed toward the pillow to hide under.
“By the way, how’s Cubone? Oh, too soon?” He snickers going under his cover. His fox Pokemon lay at his feet.
So, here I am. Safe and alive, but scared to death. All I had to do was follow a simple path through a mountain and I end up in Camp Nowhereville. In a bed, in a strange cabin, sleeping next to someone I don’t know, about to travel with someone I don’t even like. And I left someone, a Pokemon, behind. Commander, I made that mistake and I’m sorry. I failed what we stand and believe in: not leaving anyone behind. It kills me inside to know it is as cold, alone and scared just as I am. This is all too much. I’m not ready. But what can I do, it’s out of my hand. There’s no turning back now. I know tomorrow won’t be any better. It’s gonna be a long day.
The dark ground feels cold under her bare feet. Dirt squeezes between her toes with each step, as if swallowing her underground. The smell of decaying wood surrounds the darkness, choking her every breath. A spotlight hits the ground, showcasing Cubone beaten and bruised far off in the distance. Her feet run but the ground liquefies under her, sucking her feet down the quicker she moves forward. The muddy sand surrounds and melts beneath the unresisting Cubone. It calls out but makes no sound. She falls forward, hands into the mud. She begins crawling, almost swimming to Cubone, crying to herself. But she doesn’t make it in time. The little Pokemon is sucked below the sinking floor, gone and lost. She finds herself in the same situation; struggling against the elements, unable to break free. The mud around her forms into a sloppy hand, lifting her upward. It continues up, forming a body with a head. Sharp, rocky teeth protrude out. Eyes like black holes appear on the mudman’s head, sucking it all it sees.
It laughs in a low toned voice, watching her struggle. “There’s no escape.” Then, it swallows her whole.
It’s been a while since she’s had a nightmare like that. Not since the day she first started taking care of Pokemon at the Police Station. And here she is, on her first night away from home, without a pleasant thought to dream about. She uncovers her head from the protective blanket to make sure she is safe. Her hands stretch under her fingerless gloves, clammy and white. Light came through the window meaning it is morning. However, when she looks at the clock on the dresser, she discovers it was turned off. She finds her phone, charged and ready to go. 9:10.
She remembers setting the alarm last night. Hmmm. Upon closer inspection, the plug is knocked far from the outlet. It didn’t fall out, that’s for sure. It had to have been Cage. How can he be so devious? His stuff is gone. Hopefully he didn’t leave yet. Now she has to take a few short cuts to be ready in time. Sure, she can go in her long shirt she uses as pajamas, but walking around in short-shorts will embarrass her. No time for a shower. Girl’s still gotta look good, without question. She puts on her makeup, heavy on the eye shadow to hide her tired, nightmare ridden eyes. She selects a strong flower scented perfume. She wants to wash her sandy blond hair, but there is not enough time. All she can do is brush the knots and curls out. Finally, a quick change to her same clothes. For those not familiar, or too lazy to read the previous part: forest green v-neck shirt covered by a red wool jacket, light brown Capri pants, white (now muddy) street shoes, patchwork grey beret, copper lens aviator sunglasses, an army light green courier bag, and her fingerless leather gloves, which are never removed. Oh, and a razor scooter for travel. Got it, good.
Just like Cage said last night, the rain has stopped. The entire dirt ground is covered in a thick slushy mud that she once again has to trudge through. At least the soft ground helps reduce the pain in her leg. The wood cabins are completely soaked on the outside, like wet cardboard. Surprisingly, it kept her warm and dry last night. It certainly had nothing to do with the comfy bed.
She arrives at the visitor center, late. Inside are Cage, Michelle, some random Trainers and a couple of the hollering hooligans from last night. Cage looks shocked to see her. She’s equally shocked to see him, but happy as a croquet ball going through a wicket.
He is wearing the same dark green hooded coat and well worn jeans. “Well, well. Just in time.”
“The alarm didn’t go off,” she says, looking sternly at him. Gosh, he really needs a trim and a shave. It looks even thicker than before.
“Such a shame.”
She rolls her eyes. “Why are you still here?”
“Mama bird wouldn’t let me leave the nest.”
Michelle, dressed in a rose red robe, smacks his head. “Behave yourself.”
“Yea yea.” Cage sees the razor scooter April still carries. “You know, if it rained any harder, you might be able to surf with that thing down the mountain.”
“Don’t be silly. Being here wasn’t part of my plan.”
“Of course not. Nothing we plan ever happens the way we want it.” He walks to the door, taking a final look at the place he’d been living at for weeks. He looks at Michelle in particular. “Thanks for the hospitality. You’ve been a gracious host and I enjoyed my time here. I especially look forward to the next time, if you’ll allow me.”
“Great. Maybe you can burned down two cabins.” She gives a good laugh.
Cage smiles, “You’ll never let that go, will you?”
“Not a chance. Take care of yourself out there. Don’t forget who you are and be proud of what you do. You’ll find what you’re looking for. You too, missy.”
“Thank you,” April adds. “It was a pleasure to meet you.”
“Hey Cage,” one of the random Trainers calls out. “See you in the tournament. Can’t wait to battle.”
“Yea, you too. Come on, let’s go.”
Before April follows out the door, the guy from the bar last night, Rich, stumbles toward her. Is he still drunk? “Ahh, d-don’t go. Gimme a hug. Just... a hug. A-A long, sensual.... hug.”
Rather than turn around and walk away, April wants to have some fun with him. She drops her stuff. In a girlish tone, “Big man wanna hug?” He nods furiously, opening his arms. She opens her arms and gives the man a hug just before she sends a knee to his privates. He moans, still holding his arms extended. She lets go, grabbing his shirt, bringing him to her level. She whispers into his ear, “Satisfied?” She pushes him back and walks out like she owns the place.
It’s like his masculinity was stripped away by a girl half his age. The other older guys rage and holler, dogging the poor guy for his attempt. What’s that internet term.... oh yea, owned. His voice raises high pitched like a chipmunk, barely able to squeak a word “Callme!”
Michelle only smiles. “She’s gonna do just fine.”
Last edited by Jack of Clovers; 09-22-2012 at 06:13 AM.
The mountain air is heavy with moisture. The scent of rain is in the air, damp and cool. A deep breath cools her throat. The ground is all mud and rocks, a lot of which was washed down the mountain and hills. The only safe place to step without slipping are larger boulders lodged into the mud. So far, the trip is only a slight decline on one of the lit paths out of the lodge.
“So, was that some sort of place Trainers gather to fight?”
“You can say that. Just by looking at her, you wouldn’t think Michelle was once a League Champion. After she won, she built a house up here where she used to train during off seasons. People used to make the difficult climb to watch her train. So, she built a cabin for them. Then another, and another. Now, it’s a place where you can rent a cabin and train in the harsh land. Think about it. A chance to train where a former Champion built her reputation. I never imagined I’d be there this early in my career, let alone meet a Champion face to face. Life has it’s twists and turns, don’t it!”
“Can’t say I’ve heard of her.” Or any famous Trainers, for that matter. She spent her life studying the law, not how to battle.
Cage faces her, walking backward with ease without slipping. “You need to learn your history. Michelle Taddly. She created one of the first real defensive strategies with Dugtrio that didn’t involve stalling underground. It’s obsolete now, but back then she was the Champion everyone believed in. It’s a shame she’s a recluse and doesn’t battle anymore, but what can you do.” He marches forward again.
April is a bit taken back by how open he’s become. He has been responding well to Pokemon related questions, whereas, personal questions are being avoided. Time to test her theory. “So, how many Pokemon do you have?”
“Oh gosh. I’ve lost count. I’d like to say around twenty... ish. More than enough. Starting to be too many ‘cause it’s getting more and more difficult to take care of them all. The place where I was storing them had cutbacks and were gonna start charging me way too much for storage and food.”
“So you don’t have them all with you?”
“What! No. Are you playing dumb? A Trainer can only have six Pokemon with them at once. My other Pokemon are at home, eating my parents and neighbor’s food. I’m currently in transition until I find a better facility to take care of them. You know the motto, right? Gotta catch ‘em all! Yea right. More like Gotta catch ‘em all and go broke feeding them!”
They approach a downward slope. Cage slides down, getting the bottom of his pants muddy. He offers a hand as April carefully steps down. She slips. Her butt hits the mud, sending a sickly feeling through her body. The hiker laughs, helping her up.
“Ooh, I can feel it on my skin.” Her eyes blank out, remembering the mudman in her nightmare. She jumps away from the hill in a jitter.
“This is only a small hill. Wait ‘til we get further along.”
Speaking of travel, she notices they are going west rather than backtracking south. Apparently, there’s a closer entrance to Ice Path. It’s rarely used by anyone other than Trainers headed to the lodge. By going this way, it’ll save them an hour’s worth of travel time. The last thing Cage wants is to be stuck in the rain. He can make that time, but he’s unsure if she’ll be able to keep up.
“How’s your leg?”
She’s pleased that he has enough interest to ask about her well-being. She tells him it still hurts but not as much as before. Now it’s her turn, to not ask a Pokemon based question. “So, want to tell me about the cabin...” She stops. Cage, annoyed that she was about to bring that subject back up turns to respond but she shush’s him first. “Quiet. D’ya hear that? Sounds like whining.”
He concentrates. “A little. Coming from... south. Crying? It could be.... let’s not..... we can’t waste time.”
“Yes, I’m sure it is. I don’t need any more burdens on this trip. Dead weight. Excess junk. Third wheels. Catch my drift?” She ignores his slanderous insults and pursues the cries. He sighs, wanting to yell at her. His brain whips his legs, yelling ‘Mush, Mush, keep going.’ But his heart jumps in the way, like a brick wall of red muscle. “Ugh, really? Do I have to?”
Just as she thought, it’s Cubone. The same crying Cubone from yesterday. The one she abandoned for her safety. It’s alive. Still crying, but alive. She puts one mud-foot in front of the other, making her way to it. Cubone sits on top of a collection of smaller rocks, leaning against a large, flat, square, bright grey boulder connected to a slightly larger boulder of similar shape and color. She reaches down, mud and all, and picks the little guy up in her arms. She hugs it, not worrying about how dirty her jacket will get.
“Don’t cry. Everything will be okay. I’m here.”
Cage keeps his distance, reluctantly wanting to follow. Looking upon the situation at hand, he quietly comments to her as if trying not to bring attention to themselves. “Yep, Cubone again. I’d seen it so many times in so many places and thought nothing of it. You got me thinking about it before bed. So, I asked Michelle this morning. As it turns out, Cubone was abandoned by its Trainer many months ago. Reports sprang up from other Trainers about the crying Pokemon. Once, someone brought it to the lodge, but Michelle ran it out cause it wouldn’t stop. No has been able to catch it either. Which can only mean one thing: the Pokeball that was used on Cubone hasn’t been deactivated yet. Even though it’s been abandoned, it still wants to believe that its owner will come back. As long as it contains that aura, no Pokeball will be able to bypass it. That’s why you failed.”
“In English, please.”
“It means you’d have to carry it around with you all the time. It won’t make traveling any easier. And you’d have to constantly keep an eye on it wherever it wanders.”
Cubone has calmed down a bit in her arms but still sobs an occasional tear. April pats it on the skull. “I’m not abandoning him again.”
He proceeds to joke in seriousness. “You can’t carry both it and your scooter. And I know how useful it is out here.”
Louder. “I’m NOT abandoning him.”
The ground beneath them abruptly shake. The small rocks where Cubone was laying jump into the air, knocking April away. Uncontrollably, she throws Cubone into a patch of thick mud. She watches the rocks magically rise, one by one. The smallest rock at the tip connects to a bigger rock. And bigger. And Bigger. Like a giant snake, the rocks uncurl and slide along the mud with ease. The rocky tail grabs April, lifting her off the ground. A gray sedimentary face stares at her, ready to chomp her with one fell swoop. A thought of fear, deja vu, strikes her motionless. Then, the rock monster spots the other, familiar Trainer, and drops her.
Cage sighs with laughter, “Now you’ve done it.” He unzips his jacket, just in case in he needs backup. “Onix, buddy! What are you doing out here?”
“Gaarrooo!!” it screams.
April scrambles to her feet, slipping and sliding to get as far back as she can. Before her is the largest Pokemon she’s ever seen up close. It stands at least three stories high with more than a dozen rocks forming the long body. Its head has a giant fin typical of a shark or dolphin. But oh man, she could have been eaten in one gulp.
“You know this Pokemon?”
“Kinda. We’ve been sparing up here, training each other to become stronger. Last time I saw her, I said we’d have a real battle. Then, there was that accident at the lodge, and I didn’t leave for a few days. Was really hoping you’d be a little quieter so we wouldn’t have to deal with her. She’s not even supposed to be over here.”
Onix appears to be stretching its body. “Roooo...”
“What’s it want?”
“That battle. She’s probably a bit mad at me.” He puts his hands forward, showing he means no harm. “Look, I can’t battle with you right now.” Onix slams her tail next to him. “It’s not like I don’t want to. This really is the most inopportune time. If you insist.” He reaches into his coat summoning a Zubat.
April drops her jaw. Of the little time she’s spent with him, he’s shown off his ability and knowledge of a Trainer very well. Yet, he chooses a little bat against a giant rock collection. Is he really that good? Nothing has happened yet and she’s already impressed.
The purple bat squeaks, about to let a shriek out. Onix has different plans, thrusting her tail down, slamming the bat into the mud before any sound is made. She lifts her tail, showing the imprinted Zubat in the mud. The dazed eyes meant it was knocked out.
“Oh, man. Looks like you won. You’ve bested me.” He recalls Zubat.
April is in complete awe at his quick defeat. Wow. Wow! Maybe he’s not that great a Trainer after all. “It doesn’t look pleased. I think it wants more.”
“Onix, geez, I can’t spar anymore with you. You’ll have to find someone else. There are plenty of other Trainers you can challenge. More fish in the sea ‘n all that jazz. It’s been great, really, but I need to get to Ice Path before the rain. We can battle tomorrow.”
“Why don’t you just fight it, er, her, for real.”
“I don’t have the preferred Pokemon with me for a quick fight. As strong as she is, it could take up to an hour in these conditions. We don’t have time to indulge her.”
She slams the ground again, angry at his delay. She leaps at the ground face first, digging down. The mud below them swishes back and forth. The earth below them is being shifted and compacted as Onix moves around. The ground cracks as the snake bursts back to the top. She uses her tail, pointing at the opening she made. Cage carefully walks over, looking into the deep hole. At the bottom, he can barely make out shining rocks similar to the ones he remembers seeing in Ice Path. This may be a shortcut. Onix slams her tail over the hole, forcing Cage to dodge back.
“Ok, I get it. She’s challenging me for worth. I’ve heard it happen to other Trainers. A Pokemon in the wild will accept a challenge from a Trainer. If it lost, it would let itself be caught. I thought it was just a myth. Not as ridiculous as I once thought.”
“A Pokemon that wants to be caught. Why don’t you then?”
“There in lies the dilemma. Out of Pokeballs.”
April snaps her muddy fingers. “I still have the one you gave me. You said it won’t work on Cubone, so may as well give it back.” She’s been standing a good twenty feet away, trying to stay out of harm. Understandable, Onix did grab her after all. She holds the ball in hand, ready to toss it to him. However, Onix catches a glimpse of the ball and feels threatened by another Trainer wanting to challenge her. Onix quickly slides her body through the mud, around April, and encloses her in her boulders with no escape route but to dig through the mud. Onix rolls her body back and forth, hitting the human girl forward to back. She drops the Pokeball into the mud, watching it sink deep.
“Onix, stop this. Your quarrel is with me.”
At that point, Cubone leaps through the air, hitting Onix over the head with the same swing that caused a boulder to snap to pieces yesterday. The snake wildly uncoils itself and slides back, shaking the strong, stunning hit.
Cage rushes to April. Not even asking if she is okay, “The ball?”
She feels her pockets. “I think I dropped it.”
“We have to— look out!”
He pushes her away as Onix’s tail splits between them. She raises her tail, screaming in pain from another hit by Cubone. Cubone lands, ready to hit again, but the mud slows him down. So much so, that he’s stuck and unable to get out. Onix grins, raising her tail with the easiest of targets. The tail slams down, forcing the only defensive move Cubone can perform, putting his bone up to brace the impact. But, no contact. Cubone opens his eyes to see the tail hovering directly above him.
The hiker has called out a second Pokemon: Abra. The psychic Pokemon’s eyes are lit up, an enormous amount of psychic energy surrounding his body. Onix’s tail is held in place. Even for one of the more powerful evolutionary psychic lineups, Abra won’t be able to hold Onix for long.
“Stop this, Onix. Can’t you see the ground is weakening.”
“AGRROOOOAAWW!!” She breaks the psychic hold, lifting her tail up again and quickly slams on top of Cubone. At least, where he used to be. In that little time, he managed to dig himself out of the mud. Consequently, that last slam splinters the ground around the hole. The tunneling below causes the left side to collapse, carrying April with it. She slides a few feet downward, flailing her arms in a panic. Anything will do: a rope, vine, a log. A thick root passes her right hand which she grabs firmly. The sudden jerk pulls her back in an outstretched position. Mud from above ground slides all over her from head to toe. Her beret slips off. Cold, wet mud covers her head and face. She shakes and spits just trying to breath. Her glove maintains hold onto the root. Not only does her back hurt, but the small fall brings pain back to her leg. She wants to rub it so much right now, but can’t, for fear of letting go and being absorbed into the earth. The dirt around her breaks apart. The hole becomes larger and larger with each movement and attack Onix makes. The loud thuds and smacks echo through her head, outdoing the beats of her heart. This is it. She is going to be buried alive. The world around her was crumbling to pieces. Her body is wet and gritty. The feeling in her arm fades as her hope deteriorates into the abyss. She tries reaching the root with her other arm but it’s too far and she has no energy to move. There’s no joy here: only misery. Misery and pain. It’s all she’s known in life.
Bad things happen. Endure. Survive. Live by this and you’ll find happiness.
Survival. All she’s done in life is try to survive to the next day. How long can she survive like this? The term ‘Hanging by a thread’ comes to mind. This tree root can’t hold her forever. It can’t help her survive. All it does it watch her hang on for dear life. The entire ground around the hole collapses inward. The root shifts, forcing her hand to slip. The world around her falls to pieces, sucked into a gaping hole to eternal darkness. She uses her free hand to wipe her face clear. She coughs, gasping for air. Her chest is about to burst. She loses grip of her thumb; only the tips of her muddy fingers cling on to dear life. Time stands still. Nothing else mattered.
A beam of purple strikes across the hole, followed by Onix slamming into the sunken hill, howling in pain. Onix rolls downward. Shortly after, Cubone jumps in with his bone high above his head for a tomahawk chop attack.
Her vision begins to fade. Here she is, hanging for dear life and the boys are fighting a battle that doesn’t mean anything. Maybe she is better off letting go....
“Here we go.” A pair of hands grab hold of her glove, raising her closer to above ground. Realizing she is being helped, her other arm reaches up grabbing his. With a last breath, he pulls her out of the hole.
She drops to her knees, coughing and wheezing, spitting the filth out of her mouth. Her entire wardrobe is a mess, her mascara streams down her face, her phone is probably dead, and she will most definitely need that shower. But she survived.
“Aren’t you glad you took the time to look good?" Cage says, admiring her sarcastically.
“Bleh. How can you crack jokes at a time like this?”
“Why not? By the way, it’s still not safe. Maybe you should stay here. That Cubone has kinda pissed her off.” He runs over to Abra, sitting on a log poking out of the mud. “Speaking of the devil.”
Cubone is knocked out of the hole and falls face first in the mud, unable to move. His bone follows, skewering the mud next to him. This is followed by a quick and unexpected move by Onix. Emerging out of the dark hole, mouth wide open, glowing with dark wisps of energy drooling out the side, she attacks with a fangs ready to crunch Abra. Delayed, but not late, Abra puts a barrier around him and Cage, while simultaneously holding Onix in place in mid-strike. She’s still moving forward and it’s taking all of Abra’s mentality just to keep her still. It won’t last long.
“Phew, a second later and we’d be rock food. You’re taking this battle waayyy too seriously, Onix.”
April crawls herself across the ground to her ruined satchel. Even the clothes she wasn’t wearing were probably dirty. As she picks it up, the Pokeball she’d lost earlier appears. She takes a deep breath, gathering her lost strength to stand. Instead, she sits down to watch and regain her composure.
And there he is, the complete opposite of her. Standing tall, focused, and unafraid next to his Pokemon. The only spots of mud are on his shoes and lower pants. His sunglasses cover his eyes now, if only to enhance his coolness. The protective barrier surrounds them with a blue hue of energy emanating strongly from Abra. Only a foot away, Onix is jaw is wide open, seconds away from eating them. And there he is, moments away from being eating, not running or hiding. This must be that level of strength he was talking about.
“Now.” Abra releases the protection and the psychic hold over Onix, instantly teleporting himself and Cage away, just in front of April. Onix chomps the ground without hesitation, chewing the tasty nutrition.
“Whoa man, that was close! Abra, you got any more in ya?”
“Aaa...” it shakes weakly.
The rock snake rears her head up, roaring louder than before, spitting the pieces of dirt and mud it ate at them. Cage recalls Abra, ready to send another out. That’s when April steps in front of him holding the lost Pokeball. She’s not sure how exactly she should throw it, but a softball style windup sounds about right. Unprepared for such action, Onix is hit by the ten inch Pokeball, changing its body to a blob of red, and sucking all thirty feet inside.
April turns around, unapologetic smirk on her face. “How does it feel to be dishonored by someone, that yesterday, didn’t even know how a Pokeball worked?”
He’s at a loss for words as the Pokeball rolls around in the mud like a pig in heaven. The capture that he should have made, with his Pokemon, his tough battle, and his throw. He knows very well that he risked his life and limb to save and protect her, and this is how she repays him. “It’s- it’s quite emasculating.”
Originally Posted: August 2012 at PE2k vBulletin
-FYI: Grader, check first post for what kind of grade I want.
Alright you have waited long enough for this one! So here is a grade for you, one that is quick and crappy just like you asked for in the first post.
Introduction: Please dear God include a summary of events next time before starting another chapter. Although it was easy enough to understand what was happening and who the characters of April and the hiker were, it's also easy for you to give a two sentence intro to everything before you start a new section to help graders along. You don't even have to start from the beginning of the story, just do a summary of April's part in it. I only read this particular chapter of your story and thus I did not have a clue what you meant by April's pursuers or why she was looking for Jack.
Otherwise, great job on this section. I got immersed in the story right away, and I'm glad you continued from where you left off with the Cubone battle.
Plot: You know what you're doing here. All is good. Nice conflicts, set ups for future installments, a nice tournament to look forward to. Awesome.
Although Pokemon fanfiction isn't exactly great literature, maybe start adding more depth to the thematic elements of the story. More figurative language, symbols, motifs, yada yada. All that English class stuff can add extra challenge for your writing. You had a lot of that already in the story, but you can always add more for next time.
Description: Amazing work here. All of the characters were well described including their clothing (although you described it in a bit of a list format), and their personalities were well defined. I should probably include a section just for characterization in the grade, but it would only be filled with praise (and who wants that?).
Length: I'm sure it's long enough. But please include character count next time.
Battle: Best part of the whole shebang. Incorporating the muddy environment helped make this much more interesting and gave a life-or-death feel to it that is rarely present in most Pokemon battles. I imagine fighting an Onix would be pretty scary and messy in real life, so good job with keeping it real.
Writing Style and Voice: You are cool enough to have this be a section. Quite frankly, I love the way you write. You know when to add humor and when to keep things serious. I also appreciated the fourth wall breaking when describing April's clothes. I felt it was appropriate. And the comedy actually made me laugh. Always nice.
Grammar: Couple of mistakes here and there, not going to bother pointing them out. Just continue proofreading and whatnot.
Outcome: After such a long wait, how can I not give this to you? You are an excellent story teller and I apologize for not noticing the lack of grade sooner. It's because the last post was by someone other than you... anyway Onix captured! Yaaaay!