Lost and Found: The Story of a Girl and Her Plusle
A Fanfic by Pink Parka Girl
-I would especially like some feedback on the Pokémon POV aspect of this story. It's the first time I've ever really tried it, and would like a word or two of suggestion if anyone has one ^_^
My first real attempt at a (partial) Pokemon POV fic (not counting the Mystery Dungeon oneshot, as that is a canon all to itself). Anyway, as I was starting to play Pokemon Ranger (which needs more fanfics written for it, by the way), I got really interested in just why Plusle (I obviously played as a girl ^_^’) was under the crate, why she fled from Solana (and was later in her pocket), and just why Larry's Taillow evoked such unhappiness in her. Since the game doesn’t explain it, I felt it was…my job to Also, I was wondering how things went on Solana’s side…just what caused that “emotional bond?”
Just so you know - I refer to Plusle as a “she” because the Ranger manga clearly depicts her as feminine. I have no idea if it’s strict canon for the game, but oh well ^_^’ I had to call her something.
As for Ranger Girl, I’ve never been sure if her name is Salana or Solana (I would have just liked to call her Hinata and be done with it, but I speak English and will be a good English speaker and use the English name XD). I think Salana sounds better, but Solana has more Google hits, so I went with Solana. Hopefully it’s the correct one.
I mostly tried to follow canon, but you can obviously see where I added a lot more things going on (for example, the houndoom being owned by someone, among plenty of other things). I also had to give Solana a bit of a personality, since considering she’s a silent narrator, there’s a lot of room
(Praise and concrit are, as always, appreciated.)
The wingull was not sure what had woken it up.
Groggily, it lifted his head out from under its wing, letting its eyes adjust to the light as it surveyed its surroundings. Small waves lapped at the dock, refracting the moon glow that lay, with a heavy islandness, upon the ocean’s surface. A krabby, huddled in a corner, dozed lightly, one claw open and ready even in its sleep. The swinging beam of a lighthouse circled round and round again, briefly dazzling the bird as it looked in its direction. A few boats moored nearby gently rocked as the sea moved about them. Everything seemed as it always did.
As the wingull lifted its wing once more, ready to resume its rest, a frantic splashing right below it instantly put the bird back on edge. Shifting, it cast its gaze downwards, seeking the disturber of its rest. Whether it was predator or prey, it was well worth the wingull’s while to observe it keenly.
Frantic paws scrabbled at the waterlogged, seaweed-encrusted dock post upon which the wingull was resting; tiny claws, stretching their fullest, struggling to keep a hold as the churning seawater rose and fell over the entire struggling body. Interested, the wingull fluttered down to the surface of the dock, cocking its head slightly to get a better view of the creature as it thrashed about in the foam. How much life was left in the pokémon below? And when it finally stopped moving, would the body float on the surface long enough for it to fill its crop?
Chuffing, the plusle below clung closer to the post, carefully inching forward one paw at a time. Her waterlogged pelt hung close and heavy about her body, and her eyes stung from the constant dousing in saltwater. Shifting slightly upwards, she coughed, water and spittle dribbling from her muzzle. The sound, although small, was enough to awaken the krabby, which instantly shuffled out into the open, swinging its claw threateningly.
With a squawk, the wingull jumped back, glaring at the new disturbance. No one was going to challenge it for the meal below and get away with it! Unfolding its wings, it tensed its body and flung itself at the crustacean, which retaliated against the Wing Attack by seizing the bird’s foot in one powerful pincer.
As the creatures fought, the plusle continued to struggle against the slippery post, her instinct for survival burning brightly as she snatched one of the hanging strands of seaweed in her muzzle and wrapped her forepaws about it. Heaving forward, she hooked her hindpaws underneath it, taking the brief moment it supported her full weight before snapping to propel herself upwards with a Quick Attack.
With a startled caw of agitation, the wingull jumped back as the waterlogged plusle fell into the fray; the krabby racing away, spiny legs clicking loudly against the wood. The plusle staggered weakly to her paws, only partially aware of the presence of the other pokémon. There must be shelter, must be a safe place. If she could just muster a little more strength to get there…
Its momentary fear forgotten, the wingull moved closer to the rodent, its eyes scanning and analyzing the plusle with hardly any awareness of the action - the faint pulsating of her jugular against her neck; her small claws, the skeletal outline the wet fur did little to hide. Although it could not see it, it could also sense the slight tingle in the air from the plusle’s close proximity; a sparking that set its nerves on end. It knew from chickhood, the same as all wingull know, that anything with that tingle meant an almost certain death.
Hastily, the wingull flew out unto the ocean, and the plusle, unaware of how closely she had avoided a fight, struggled unto the first of a series of cobblestone steps, huddling under the slight overhang provided by the step above it. Curling into a tight ball, she struggled to groom herself; licking in between the toes of her paws, tiny pink tongue dislodging sand and grit.
Toes still slightly spread, she lay her muzzle down on the ground, falling into dreamless exhaustion as the sounds of the sea surrounded her.
“Billy! Where did you find that filthy thing?”
The boy peered up at his mother, running one small hand across the plusle’s soft coat, while keeping the other next to his mouth, his pinkie in between his lips. His mother, a harried looking woman with plain brown hair done up in a bun, glared down at her child, clicking her red paste-on nails against the railing of the ship. “It is a rodent, Billy. How do you know it’s not crawling with plague? Especially if you found it playing in that disgusting cargo hold, where you’re not supposed to be in the first place!”
Billy pouted, pulling the plusle closer to his chest. “Mine!”
His mother sighed. “It’s not yours. It’s not anybody’s. No collar, no pokéball tags. Just common wild vermin.” Taking a kleenex from her purse, she carefully held it between thumb and forefinger as she grabbed the plusle’s nape, pulling her away from the child. “Will you ever learn, Billy?”
The boy just stared at his mother, and at the pokémon who dangled, limp, from the woman’s grasp. “Want Plusle back!”
“Billy, you’ll see plenty of pokémon in Fall City,” his mother replied, looking out at the village, standing starkly against the evening sky, which grew ever closer as the ship traveled towards the dock. Billy, pouting still, turned away from her. “We’ll have dinner with Uncle Albert, and you’ll have so much fun you’ll forget all about this….creature.” With a look of distaste, she released the plusle, sending her and the tissue splashing into the ocean below.
Billy, unaware of his mother’s actions, sat bow-legged on the deck, angrily tracing circles in the dirt with one small finger.
And the kleenex, floating on the waves, soon dissolved into nothingness.
“Woah, woah! Cool it, Leo! There’s nothing under that step!”
The plusle lifted her head groggily. A vast black nose was shoved into her side, snuffing heavily at her fur, a few white teeth gleaming from under slightly lifted jowls. Massive dark paws framed the beast’s muzzle, blunt ivory claws scratching anxiously at the slate. Farther away, two huge feet, as large as her entire body, tapped anxiously.
“Leave it alone, Leo! Let’s go!”
With those words, the nose in her ribs was sharply pulled back, and the plusle, filled with the typical terror of a prey animal, darted out into the open as fast as she could. She ran between the large feet and fabric-covered legs, and up the stairs, heart racing and pads sweating anxiously. The houndoom followed her every move, toppling its owner as it slammed into his shins and taking the stairs two at a time, its leash handle clacking against the cobblestones. Panicked, the plusle quickly scanned her surroundings as she fled, detecting a small gap underneath a shipping crate. With a final burst of energy, she leapt towards it, slipping into the crevice just as the houndoom, traveling too fast to stop, hit the side of the box. Dazed, it stood a moment, wobbling slightly, before it gave up on the crate and trotted down the road to the town outskirts, lashing its long tail in annoyance.
Under the crate, the plusle shivered, trying to calm her frayed nerves by grooming her tail plume, carefully licking it into its typical shamrock shape. Sounds surrounded her, both the meaningful – the rustling of leaves by the wind, the ever constant noise of the sea – and others meaningless, shouting and hollering whose purpose she did not innately comprehend.
“Leo? Leo, where did you go? Get back here!”
“Hey, another boat coming in the harbor!”
“I coulda sworn I saw something run under that crate!” This voice was especially loud, and close enough to the plusle that she she scooted back farther into the darkness, rubbing her paws anxiously across her muzzle. “I hope it’s not something scary….”
The plusle flicked her ears anxiously.
“You can’t be a Ranger. Where’s your Styler?”
The boy stood anxiously near the crate, staring up at the young woman before him. Solana grinned a little sheepishly, running a hand through her hair. “I’m…well, I’m not really an official Ranger yet…but I hope to be soon, sport.” With her other hand, she tapped the crate experimentally, giving the boy a friendly glance. “So you saw something run under here about twenty minutes ago?”
The boy nodded. “Yeah! And it hasn’t come out all this time, either. Is it okay?”
Solana lifted her head. “I might not be a real Ranger yet…but I do know that Rangers are supposed to help others. And if it would help you if I moved this crate, then I’ll try my best.”
“It better not be scary!” Hoping, but unable to look away, the boy observed as Solana shoved against the crate with her shoulder, setting the empty canister to wobbling. Underneath, the plusle, her escape blocked by Solana’s feet, chittered in anxiety.
“What was that?” The boy backed off a bit, holding the collar of his shirt nervously.
“No worries, sport, it’ll just take one more good push…” Tensing her body, Solana rammed forward once more, hard enough to accidentally shatter the side of the crate, sending the would be Ranger sprawling unto the flimsy plyboard bottom. This, too, promptly broke under her weight, sending both her and the pile of wood shards into the small depression underneath.
The plusle chittered again; fur on end, ears flicked back, mouth open in a snarl, and yet too paralyzed with fear to immediately flee. Solana, slightly woozy, looked down at the small creature, bemused but not frightened.
“It’s just a plusle, sport. Nothin’ scary! Here, I’ll show it to you, just gimme a minute…”
The young woman reached towards the pokémon slowly, speaking softly in her throat. The plusle watched warily, conflicted. Nothing at all about her smelled threatening. But the red, the red, the red…..
Solana’s glove, with its bright red patch, waved in front of the plusle’s vision. Red, red, plastic nail red, red like the sharp claw that grabbed her, pulled her from the love and warmth, and threw her into the sea…
With another terrified noise, the plusle finally found her speed. With a propelling Quick Attack, she leapt up from the wreckage of the crate and raced down the road, blades of grass bowing to the ground from the wind left in her wake.
“You scared it!” chastised the boy, offering his hand to the befuddled girl. Solana took it and stood up shakily, brushing woodchips from off her body. “I didn’t mean to frighten the poor thing…but at least you got to see what it was, right?”
The boy nodded. “I guess so, Miss. Even if you’re not a Ranger…you’re still kinda cool.”
Blushing a little, Solana grinned back. “Helping others is what a Ranger is supposed to do, sport. Even us unofficial ones.”
But as she walked down the road, towards a meeting she was both awaiting and dreading, she couldn’t help but spare a thought for that strange little plusle.
The man huffed as he trudged up the road, following the pawprints and drag marks from the leash in the hard packed earth. That miserable houndoom couldn’t have run off too far…
An explosion of flame rushed past his head, and the man ducked, clutching his crown protectively. The canine stood several feet ahead, paws spread, head lowered dangerously, alternating glances between its master and the plusle. The rodent, already frightened from her encounter with Solana, was half comatose from terror; slack-jawed, with her ears and tail dragging in the dirt. Noticing the other pokémon, the man snatched up a clod of earth and tossed it at the houndoom, which merely caught it in its jaws.
“Let that plusle be!” he shouted, tossing a rock this time. He hadn’t the slightest idea if the pokémon belonged to someone, but he didn’t want to risk a lawsuit if his own uncontrollable pet did something terrible to someone else’s. Ducking the stone, the houndoom turned towards the plusle, lifting its lips back in a nasty snarl.
The easy prey would go first.
The snarl was all that was needed to goad the plusle into movement.
She bolted, chittering at the top of her lungs, as the houndoom took off in pursuit, spittle flying from its flews as it strove to collect its prize. Her chest burned, and her legs, already stressed from the amount of movement she had done over the past day, threatened to give out from underneath her at every second. Coughing bile, vision shimmery from exhaustion, the plusle finally stopped, tongue dangling so far from her muzzle it almost touched the stones between her paws. Sparking slightly, in a last ditch effort to drive the predator away, she turned in what she thought was the right direction and released her Spark attack.
Gasping, the man lunged at the would be Ranger, knocking her to the ground as the bright blaze of electricity crackled past the space where her chest had been only moments before. “Something is going on behind those hedges, Solana. I…I know you’re not really a Ranger at all yet, but I might need your help for this. If you’d been alone, you would have been dead by now from that stray Spark. If I am alone, there will be no one to look out after my back. A Ranger knows when to ask another for help.”
Rolling off the young woman, Spenser stood up, loading a Capture Disc into his Styler. “Cover my back, Solana. I trust you.”
Parting the hedges, Spenser stepped through, observing the scene before him. The houndoom, hearing the approach of yet another intruder, sprang forward, throat pulsing as it prepared another Flamethrower. The plusle lay limp, sides heaving as she struggled to breathe.
“Watch closely!” The lead Ranger of Ring Town swiftly pressed a button on his Styler, releasing the Disc. Keying in the controls, the Disc slowly began revolving, and then shot towards the houndoom, which watched it spin, bemused. The little object was soon moving in circling loops around the canid, so quickly the pokémon had little chance to launch any retaliation before it was sucked into the Disc’s center sphere, helplessly contained.
“I’m glad it was tired,” Spenser said, pushing the antenna back into the Styler and picking up the little Disc. “Put up a much smaller fight than I thought it would.”
“But what about the plusle?” Solana knelt as close as she dared to the little animal, who snarled softly.
“Got an awful lot of fight for a critter who’s been coughing bile.” The man sat on the ground, sighing. Should I let her have it? Sure, she watched me…but is she really ready?
Solana spoke softly. “Plusle needs me, Spenser.”
Spenser reached into his pocket. Yes, it was still there; he closed his fingers around it, sighing. “You traveled all this way to meet me, and to become an official Ranger. I have no idea if, physically, you are up for the job, Solana. And yet…already, you have the heart for it. A better, more willing heart I couldn’t ask for.” Withdrawing his hand, he placed the slim object he had been holding into the young woman’s palm. “It’s a Ranger’s Styler…your official Ranger Styler. As weak as that Plusle is, she could still be dangerous. Catch her in this, Solana. It’ll give her a boost in energy, and I dare not release the houndoom with her out in the open.”
“I…….my Styler?” Solana stood up hesitantly, holding the object tightly. “I’m an official Ranger, Mr. Spenser, sir?”
Spenser chuckled. “Mr. Spenser? And the answer is yes…if you can catch that little lady over there.”
Solana nodded. Remembering everything she had read about operating a Styler, and the demonstration just given by her superior, she pressed the buttons.
Emptiness. She was nothing, a nonentity. A wisp of memory, a hint of instinct that had been passed down for generation after generation, a free-flowing, shapeless, nebulous, nothing.
“Oh, great! You caught the plusle!”
Solana looked up at Spenser, blushing in spite of herself. She had, hadn’t she? “Right here in the Disc,” she replied, holding the object tightly in her fist. “But I know the rule. I have to let her go…don’t I?”
Spenser nodded. “That poor animal needed to rest, Solana; and the houndoom needed to cool his jets down a bit. But now that they’ve been in a while, it’s time to let them go. It is Ranger code that all pokémon caught must be returned to their habitat. One pokémon, and only one, may be kept. And only if that pokémon has made an emotional connection with you, Solana. I haven’t seen any sign that that plusle has done so.”
Solana sighed. “No…no. I know it’s right. She’s scared of me. But still…there’s something about her. Somehow, I want to get to know her. Did you see her up close? Her fur’s stiff from dried seawater. One of her claws was broken at the quick. Even you saw that she had been coughing up bile. The poor little thing’s been having a very rough time.” Opening her palm, she stared down at the Disc that held the plusle, rubbing it gently with one finger. “I want to be able to help her further. But I know that as long as she and I do not connect, that…that cannot be.”
Spenser, shyly, put a hand on Solana’s shoulder. “I do not make the rules, young Ranger…but we all must follow them.” Taking the Disc that held the houndoom, he stood up, stretching, as a slightly chubby man approached them.
“You…you seen a very, very naughty-natured houndoom around here? Answers to Leo.”
“Naughty, huh?” Spenser chuckled. “A pokémon can never truly change their nature. But I think I’ve calmed your pup down enough for you that he’ll be a bit more of a faithful pet.” With a twist, he popped the Disc open, the houndoom appearing as its particles were reassembled.
“Leo!” the man shouted, picking up the dragging leash handle and giving the canine a gentle tug. “Let’s go, buddy. And no more of that behavior ever again!”
The houndoom followed, though not without a slight snarl.
As soon as the man and his pet had exited the clearing, Spenser turned to his protégé. “Now, Solana. Let the plusle go.”
Twisting the Disc open, Solana watched as the plusle, looking no less clean but much more rested, reappeared before her. Slightly disoriented, the pokémon rubbed one paw over her ear and down her face, giving the human a curious look. Something was familiar about her…
“Go on, little plusle,” Solana whispered, reaching out to gently tap the creature in the direction of the field nearby. The plusle saw the extending hand…and at once remembered.
Red, red, red, red!
With a chitter, she leapt over the terrible, terrible hand – and right into a dark, confining place. What was this? Something crunched under her hindpaw – a slightly shimmering, paper-thin thing with an overpowering, sticky-sweet odor. And why was there no exit? She had gotten in, but there seemed to be no way to escape from the tight, woven confines.
Once again terror-stricken, she collapsed into a stupor, muzzle slightly agape.
“Any reason you’ve been keeping your hand against your pocket all this time, Solana?”
“Hm? Me? Of course not.” Solana sat behind Spenser on the back of the fearow, staring down at the landscape below her. She knew she was breaking the rules by taking advantage of the plusle’s accidental hop into her pocket, but she felt it was a risk she had to take.
…Even if it means Spenser will revoke your Ranger license?
…I…even for that. Plusle needs me. And we’ll bond, eventually. I know we will…
…I hope we will…
Spenser harrumphed. “Awfully silent. Something on your mind?”
Solana chuckled nervously. “Oh, just…just wondering how your fearow can carry us both at the same time. Are most bird pokémon this strong? Or am I just that light?”
“Don’t flatter yourself, rookie.”
They flew on in silence, each thinking their own thoughts. And as day slipped into evening, Ring Town finally came into view.
The plusle opened her eyes. Everything was as dark as it had been earlier, and she was still tightly confined. How she ached to run, to move!
“Finally here,” Solana yawned, reflexively stretching her arms upwards as she inhaled. The blast of cool evening air and hazy fading sunlight instantly caught the plusle’s attention, and, seizing the moment, she sprang from the confining prison and darted forward, off towards the forest. She could smell fresh water there, and there would surely be berries and other food to forage for. Maybe, just maybe, her life could get back to what is normal for a wild plusle, as it was for her before curiously wandering unto a ship one day…
Watching the plusle race off, Solana tried to hide her surprise and disappointment. She’s gone…but I might see her again. I hope…
“How exactly did that pokémon get here, Solana? I do not believe Ring Town is its natural habitat, hmm?”
“No.” the young ranger sighed, trying to hide her guilt. “She must have decided she liked me a little after all. She probably…stole a ride on your fearow with us.”
“In a first class pocket seat?” Spenser looked sidewise at Solana, who struggled to keep her guard up.
“Of course not! Probably on one of Fearow’s talons. What I had in my pocket was just this…candy bar.” She reached in and pulled out the crinkly-wrapped treat, peeling back the paper. “I…I didn’t want it to blow out and get lost, Spenser. It’s the last bit of food I have left from home.”
Spenser looked closely at his student, straight in the eye. Solana stood up straight and stared right back; she knew she shouldn’t lie and break the rules, but…
I can’t help it. Not in this case.
Spenser sighed. “Rangers have to be able to trust each other. Can a dishonest Ranger be counted on? But…you seem earnest and honest. I don’t know if it’s a bluff…but I will have to trust you, Solana. I trusted you enough to make you a Ranger right off the bat, and I still feel like I did the right thing. But I need to be sure you can return that same trust to me.”
“How can…how can I do that?” Solana asked softly, trying to keep the shame of her guilt from flushing her cheeks.
‘I want you to go on a mission with Lunick tomorrow, Solana. An earnest Ranger, about your age. If you get his seal of approval…then you get mine.”
As the sun rose over the horizon, the plusle trotted into the streets of Ring Town, nose twitching. Although she had been able to eat a few berries in the forest, her species wasn’t of the sort to turn down an easy meal from a human garbage can.
And whatever was out this morning smelled delicious!
Leaping up unto a can, the plusle poked her muzzle as far as it would go under the crack where lid met bin, sniffing deeply. If only she could get in at the treats within! But the lid was on securely, and latched shut.
Chittering, she jumped from the can unto the windowsill of the house it was set outside of, snuffing at the wood on which she stood. Even more treats tickled her olfactory senses, and yet when she gave another leap forward, she slammed into something solid and hard. What was this? It didn’t look like anything was there…and yet, there was. Paws scrabbling, she batted at the window, puzzled.
And then she saw it.
The taillow sat peacefully on the human’s shoulder, stuffing its crop as it cracked seed from its owner’s hand. Somehow, that bird had gotten inside and was feasting, while she was stuck on the other side, where her reception was met with sealed garbage cans! How had it done so? How had it managed to outsmart the invisible wall?
Hearing the plusle’s chitter, the taillow looked up. Misunderstanding the plusle’s thrashing paws against the window as a threat, it puffed out its feathers and flew over, pecking at the glass irascibly. Whatever this thing in its territory was, it was acting dangerously. And anything threatening was to be fought against with all the vigor of the world.
“Taillow!” The bird’s owner stood up, anxiously rushing to the agitated creature. “Stop that! It’s outside. It can’t hurt you! But if you keep banging on that window, it’ll get in here!” Sighing, he grabbed the bird in one hand, opening the front door with the other. “Git outta here, you little trashpicker! Ain’t nothin’ here for ya! Beat it!”
Hearing the man’s harsh voice, the plusle leapt down, her hunger forgotten. Heart racing, she fled for the safety of the trees, while the taillow, still anxious about its territory, bit its owner’s hand. Startled, Larry released the bird, who instantly took off, chirruping angrily at the plusle.
“Not again,” Larry sighed, wiping his brow. “I’d better go ask Lunick to round him up once more.”
“I caught the taillow, Lunick. Didn’t you see it? Circled round and round with the Disc and then – pop!” Solana laughed, her excitement at having completed a mission, even one as minor as that, temporarily numbing her guilt and anxiety. Lunick, shaking his head a little at the new Ranger’s enthusiasm, gave her the acknowledgment she craved. “I saw it, Solana. But we’d better bring him back to Larry now. Heaven knows, but that man certainly gets worried over his pokémon.”
Upon hearing those words, Solana’s good mood crashed apart. That plusle was out there somewhere…and what have I been doing all day? Basking in my own skill!
"Larry's worry isn’t that weird, Lunick,” she sighed, pushing her hairband up slightly. “Wouldn’t you worry if your own minun wandered off somewhere?”
“Sure,” replied the young man, stroking the pokémon on his shoulder. “But Larry loses his taillow every single day. At least with a new Ranger around, I can finally focus on more difficult missions.”
“Hmph.” Solana sighed, tossing the Disc lightly in the air. “Still, thanks for showing me around today. You'll put a good word in to Spenser, won’t you?”
“You deserve it, do you not?” Lunick grinned. “Though he told me after you went to bed that as much as he wants to believe you, he still can’t help but wonder whether or not you deliberately took a pokémon out of its habitat. He…he likes you, Solana. He really wants to have complete and total faith in you. He thinks you have a good heart, and even I could see that in the few hours we spent together. You were real gentle with that taillow.”
“I…thanks.” She caught the Disc again, and then put it in her pocket, kicking at the dirt with her foot.
“Spenser said he won't discuss anything about the plusle ever again. But he did want me to let you know that if he suspects you of doing such a thing at another time, he will have no choice but to seize your Styler and send you back home. You…you’ve got a real good friend in Spenser.”
“I guess I do, Lunick.” Stepping up unto Larry's porch, she knocked, running her spare hand through her bangs.
“Did ya get it, Lu…you ain’t Lunick!” Larry looked down at Solana, surprised. “Well, whoever ya are. Did ya get my taillow?”
“Sure did, Larry.” Twisting the Disc, Solana grinned as the taillow rematerialized and flew unto its master’s shoulders. At least I could reunite one person with the pokémon they love…and helping others is the Ranger creed…
“Pretty weird how he ran away today, though. Some stiff-furred plusle was on my windowsill, diggin’ at the glass like it was tryin’ to get in. So jealous of me and my lovely little Taillow, I’m sure! Bein’ so noisy that Taillow tried to attack it through the window. And then…”
“A plusle?” Solana exclaimed, all grief forgotten. “Where do you think it is now?”
“Oy, miss, ya think I really notice where little trashpickers dart off to?”
“Trash?” Without another word, Solana ran to the trashcan, pulling down the latches and lifting the lid. There, right on top, was something perfect.
“Oh, eww,” Lunick gasped, holding his nose. “Of course, I get stuck showing the Dumpster-diving Ranger around! What in nine hells is that thing?”
“Old torchic egg. All I have to do is crack it and that thing will stink for yards.”
Lunick groaned. “I can hardly wait, Solana. Do plusle even eat eggs?”
Salala shrugged. “The encyclopedia said they do.”
“Well, this is one mission you can do totally on your own, new Ranger,” replied the young man, ruffling his minun’s long head-fur. “Minun and I will wait in the Ranger Base, where I know things won’t stink of putrid garbage.”
“But the stink will be worth it if it gets Plusle to like me.”
The plusle lay under the tree, carefully grooming her pelt. The stiff spikes her fur had dried into didn’t want to go away, and it seemed saliva alone wasn’t doing much to combat the mess. Chuffing, she shifted to her haunches and scratched at herself, short hind claws combing at the snarls. She knew a messy coat was more likely to catch on obstacles, and yet no matter what she tried, the mats simply wouldn’t be undone by her efforts.
Laying her head between her paws, she settled into sleep. Even though her morning hunt for food had proven unsuccessful, there still had to be luck in the future. She’d wait till evening, and try again. There had to be something she could scrounge up…
She lifted her head suddenly, inhaling deeply. What was that?
Up in an instant, the plusle darted forwards, her padded paws thumping lightly against the grass. It smelled like garbage, but right here in the woods, and not in the dangerous human area. Here!
Yes! Solana thought, watching the plusle dart towards the stinking yolk mass, only a few feet away from where she crouched, trying her hardest to be very still. But what if I scare her away again? It was always the hands, the young woman realized. Whenever she had reached for the little animal, it would chitter and flee. But how could they bond if she was so afraid of being touched?
Oh, please, little plusle. I won’t hurt you, I promise…
The pokémon crept forwards, knowing Solana was there, but not especially frightened as long as she remained still. Muzzle against the mass of rotten egg, she sniffed slightly, before starting to eat, her small pink tongue darting in and out.
And it was, then, that Solana got an idea.
Taking her gloves off, she carefully dipped one hand, very slowly, into the mass of egg, holding her fingers close to the pokémon's muzzle. Hesitantly, the plusle sniffed the girl’s hand.
The hand smelled the same. It smelled of the red hand, the always grabbing red hand, the one that had never been threatening but had reminded her so much of the woman who threw her overboard. But the red was not there, and instead, there was egg, delicious egg, runny, gloppy egg white that filled a hungry stomach.
Even if this hand was red…was it still to be feared?
The plusle stopped lapping and sat up on her haunches, peering upwards at Solana. Solana stared back, smiling gently, lifting her fingers ever so slightly to the plusle’s muzzle level. Hesitantly, the little animal sniffed them – slowly, slowly! – before her tongue darted out to lick the egg from off the hand. The plusle was calm! Plusle, her plusle, was eating off her fingers!
“Plusle,” Solana said softly, so low she almost couldn’t hear herself speak, “I have no idea if you can understand a single word I’m saying. But maybe words don’t matter. My spirit touches yours, and it asks: ‘Will you be my partner?’”
The plusle blinked. This human, this human who fed her, the human who owned the spinning thing it had felt so nice to be inside, the human whose very eyes said I love you…
And even without understanding the words, the plusle knew.
She leapt gently unto the young woman’s arm, and from there to her shoulder. Hesitantly, she rested her small wet nose against the human’s cheek, feeling the smoothness and warmth. She was as comfortable there as if she had been there her entire life.
And she knew, at that moment, she would never leave her dear Solana’s side.