Dedicated to Muyotwo, because in some respects this is all his damn fault.
Also dedicated to Terry Pratchett, because the world needs pale apelike imitations of his work to try and prepare for his untimely demise.
Tentatively rated PG-13 for bad words, violence and innuendo.
Sometimes Fate brings together legendary heroes to accomplish extraordinary things.
Sometimes Fate brings together a motley array of unlikely heroes to accomplish incredible things.
And sometimes Fate can't be bothered to go through all the work and goes shopping at the Dollar Store instead.
- Chapter 1: In which the protagonists are gathered
- Chapter 2: In which the protagonists are impeded early on their glorious quest
- Chapter 3: On Pokemon centers, feeding, and dumpster diving
- Chapter 4-1: On the dynamics of gangs and hideout infiltration
Chapter 4-2: On reversals of fortune
- Chapter 5: On the nature of Chansey
fishyfool, TrueCharizard, Sike Saner, poke poke, Jerichi, ALTOCHARIZARD55
Many people tend to have romantic notions of the wild. They sit in their cubicles day in and day out, envisioning that one day they might magically become a Pokemon and roam the world, going where they choose and answering to no one. The irony that most people fail to realize, however, is that for many Pokemon such a life is largely regimented and proscribed anyway.
On a typical Pokemon’s daily to-do list:
1. Wake up
2. Find food
2.b. avoid becoming food (as applicable)
So in other words, a Pokemon’s daily routine is much like a human’s daily routine, with fewer ******* coworkers and more random violent death. It is no surprise then on this typical day in a typical forest in a typical part of northern California that a certain Pokemon would soon be stirring to begin yet another typical day. Still half-asleep, the creature carefully poked its head out of its burrow, checking its surroundings. Same pond surrounded by the same trees with the same wild birds chirping the same incessant songs, the same as every other day. Content that everything was in its place, the Pokemon clambered out of its burrow in preparation for the daily cleansing and drinking ritual.
The Pokemon was a Raticate, in the sense that at one point in time it may in fact have been a Raticate. It was larger, with elongated forelimbs and stubby rear legs that gave it an almost ape-like gait. Each toe on each limb was host to a wicked-looking claw, capable of slashing Pokemon as easily as they could move dirt. Its long tail swished easily as it walked, showing a flexibility that would have made an Aipom jealous. Coal-black hair was peppered with gray hair around the eyes and muzzle. Arriving at the edge of the water, it regarded its reflection the same way it had regarded it yesterday, the day before yesterday, and the many days before those days, the novelty of its unique appearance having lost its curiosity long ago. The creature bent down for a drink.
And much like how toast will always land butter side down and a window will take a baseball in order to protect the drywall surrounding it, the break in routine happened at the worst possible time.
The Pokemon’s ears twitched as it heard something stumble noisily through the forest, right towards its secluded glen. With remarkable speed the Pokemon turned, bared its claws and assumed a low fighting stance. There had been many Pokemon who thought themselves powerful enough to bully the rat-like creature around: many of them learned quickly not to repeat the mistake. So prepared it was to fight another Pokemon, the rat Pokemon soon found itself taken aback as a human stumbled into its territory. It had been years since the Pokemon had seen a human being, and seldom-used parts of its brain found themselves frantically dusting off the cobwebs, searching through their mental archives for information about the intruder. Moments later, an electrical pulse came bearing valuable information about the human: he appeared to be what humans called a “teenager”, and looked to be about halfway through that period. And…that was it.
The Pokemon groaned inwardly.
The lanky dark-haired youth started at the Pokemon. He appeared to be just as confused, until something clicked and caused him to toss down his backpack and frantically search through it. The Pokemon watched with part caution, part detached interest.
The youth grinned as he found what he was looking for, and produced a half-red, half-white spherical object.
The Pokemon groaned inwardly again.
The concept of Fate is hotly debated amongst humans. Some feel that Fate is rigid and that everyone is predestined from birth to a certain destiny in order to balance out some grand cosmic equation, preferably one with lots of variables so that scientists get to feel good about constructing ridiculously large supercomputers in order to solve it. Others feel that Fate is like a rubber band, and many adherents to this theory soon find themselves metaphorically rubbing their injured hands because they decided to see how far it would stretch. Still others feel that Fate involves butterflies, thus making the insects the most insidiously powerful beings on the planet as well as proving that God has an odd sense of humor.
Regardless of whether Fate is a one-way highway or the world’s largest rubber band ball or an irate swallowtail taking out its frustrations on the world at large, it is generally agreed that Fate works in mysterious ways. In this case Fate had chosen a rough-hewn, disheveled man and his Houndoom as her agents. The pair quietly crept through the forest, hot on the trail of a youth who had moved through the underbrush with all the subtlety and grace of a pink Donphan on a drinking binge. The man’s associates had taken off to pursue another traveler, leaving him and his Houndoom to the task. In the man’s mind, it was still gross overkill: the kid apparently didn’t have any Pokemon with him, and in case Houndoom’s fiery breath wasn’t enough the man still had his trusty rifle, showing its years of use in the wilderness but still capable of ending life when needed.
Of course, one of the downsides of working for Fate is that she rarely deigns to tell you that you’re in her employ.
The youth threw his Pokeball for the third time.
The rat Pokemon caught the ball for the third time, careful to not trigger the capture mechanism. He tossed it back.
Returning his property without damage apparently angered the youth a great deal, and the boy quickly began throwing every Pokeball he had at the rat.
The rat decided to demonstrate his ability to juggle. For some reason this only made the youth angrier, so the Pokemon decided to return the balls again, “accidentally” aiming for the face this time.
The boy sat down a few bruisers richer, glaring at the Pokemon. The Pokemon sat down on its haunches, enjoying the sight of the frustrated youth and the Houndoom about to pounce on him, ready to tear the boy’s throat out.
In the time it took for the rat’s conscious mind to register the thought wait a minute… his unconscious mind had propelled him forward at blinding speed, up into the air, and right at the Houndoom, claws ready to rend flesh. The dark Pokemon howled in surprise as claw met muzzle and soon found itself on the receiving end of an unepected thrashing. The rat Pokemon punctuated its slashing and biting with a violent headbutt, slamming hard on the Houndoom’s muzzle and causing the Pokemon to stagger backwards, surprised and disoriented by the rat Pokemon’s violent attack as blood began to trickle from open wounds and a broken nose.
His foe temporarily out of the way, the rat spared a gaze to check on his newfound ward. The boy’s face betrayed both utter surprise and the utter desire to wet himself, with more of the latter as raw instinct propelled the rat forward once again, tackling the youth and dragging him into the underbrush as bullets tore through the space the pair had been occupying moments ago. The two wound up in a heap, the rat on top of the human and the former looked down on the latter, who appeared to be trying to disappear underground solely through force of will. The rat Pokemon leaned down until he was near the boy’s ear, and felt the youth struggle as fang accidentally scraped earlobe.
“Stay down.” He felt the boy suddenly jerk, recognizing that the Pokemon was speaking in the human tongue, the accent rough but comprehensible. “Let me handle this.” Somehow, despite having gone from discovering a new species to nearly being murdered in the space of five minutes, a talking Pokemon was apparently the most unusual thing that had happened to the boy this morning.
“You talk!?” the boy asked, both with incredulity and at a volume that was perfect for attracting unwanted attention, which caused the source of a constant stream of invectives and curses to start coming closer to the pair’s hiding spot. The youth heard a grunt—exasperation or confirmation, the boy couldn’t say—and the sudden sensation of a large weight being taken off his body.
Howls of pain and the sound of gunfire followed moments later. The boy risked a look out of cover.
The Houndoom thrashed about, howling bloody murder as the rat sunk its fangs deeper into the back of its neck. The rat’s forelimbs alternated between pinning the body to the ground and keeping the dark Pokemon’s head and fiery breath pointed in a direction in which they could do little harm, and the Houndoom’s eyes were alight with a feral desperation. A man in camouflage with the telltale signs of one who has lived off the land for longer than was comfortable cursed as he moved to reload his rifle.
Looking back, the boy couldn’t say whether it was fear or adrenaline that caused his legs to act, but they were soon propelling him towards the camouflaged man at seemingly breakneck speeds. Distracted from watching his Houndoom get the worst of it, the man reacted too late: a satisfying grunt of pain followed the shoulder to the gut, and the two humans soon found themselves on the ground in a heap. The sharp sensation of a rifle butt to the forehead soon followed that, and the boy found himself on the ground, clutching at his temple in pain as the man climbed to his feet, breathing heavily.
The sound of the rifle cocking was like the voice of Death himself.
And the rat’s incoherent battle cry was like the whole of the Heavenly chorus. The man’s shot went wide as the Pokemon fell upon him, clawing and biting with berserker madness. The man’s legs buckled underneath him even as he desperately tried to deflect the attack, his efforts in vain. His screams faded to a weak gurgle.
And then it was over. What had once been a Houndoom laid in a bloody heap not ten yards away from his master, who had apparently felt that if he was going to the afterlife he would try to one-up his Pokemon in the sorry state of his corpse.
The boy—too numb from the adrenaline rush to fully comprehend what had just happened—watched as the rat Pokemon walked over to the water and began to wash himself. The water turned red where the Pokemon dipped his claws. Somewhere along the line the boy’s backpack found its way back into his possession, although he could not remember picking it up.
More gunshots rang out through the forest. The rat’s claws stopped in mid dip as he turned towards the source of the sound. The boy’s gaze followed his, and moments later their eyes met.
The two quickly began dashing through the underbrush towards the source.
For Chuck, it was a very good day.
Granted, Chuck wasn’t his given name. Hell, his given name wasn’t even “Charles” or any other name starting with a C that could reasonably be shortened to Chuck. His fellow bandits had given him the nickname simply because he embodied the very essence of Chuck-ness, a man whose picture would appear by the word “Chuck” in the dictionary if anyone could ever sit down and agree exactly on what Chuck (with the capital C) meant.
Nomenclature aside, Chuck was in high spirits on this particular day. He and four other bandits had finally managed to corner their quarry, a female Pokemon trainer and her Gardevoir. They had managed to herd the pair into a clearing, where the group had proceeded to surround them, maneuvering to ensure that the Gardevoir would never be able to teleport in any direction safely without earning a third eye for her troubles. At the moment the duo were desperately trying to figure out how to escape the noose set for them, but with five armed bandits and just as many Houndoom in between them and freedom their chances were growing increasingly dim.
A female trainer and a Gardevoir: in bandit terms it was the proverbial Christmas-come-early. A predatory smile began to form on Chuck’s face.
In the throes of triumph it is a characteristically human trait to become blind to certain warning signs. Under normal circumstances an experienced outdoorsman would probably be wary of the sound of something charging through the forest towards him, especially after a lengthy and noisy chase that would cause most animals to run away from the ruckus instead. Indeed at some level Chuck’s mind desperately tried to alert him that something was amiss, but found itself stymied by Chuck’s rather active imagination regarding the fruits of the hunt.
So when a black mass of fur and claws came screaming out of the forest and right on top of Frankie, the left brain being able to say “I told you so” turned out to be cold comfort. The bandit howled as the creature began to lay into him, bellowing challenge as the other bandits moved to help their comrade. Being the farthest away from the newcomer Chuck and his Houndoom found themselves struck dumb as to whether to aid their comrade or focus on the girl instead, who seemed to be just as confused as the bandits were. He watched as the Gardevoir suddenly turned towards him, her trainer following her lead almost instantaneously and without any obvious communication between the two. To Chuck it seemed that the decision had been made for him, and he leveled his rifle.
Of course the Gardevoir hadn’t been looking at him, but rather the thing rapidly approaching from behind him.
The wind went out of Chuck’s lungs as the force of over a hundred pounds of teenage male was focused on his spine. The rifle clattered out of his hands, landing precious yards away as the pair tumbled in the dirt, wrestling for the upper hand. Chuck’s Houndoom turned in surprise as it watched its master fall to the attack from behind and prepared to leap in to his master’s defense. A large rock to the skull ended Houndoom’s ambitions.
Flying in the air at a trajectory impossible under most physical models, the rock made a 180 degree turn and aimed itself at Chuck’s head, the bandit having managed to recover from the attack and having pinned the boy to the ground, ready to deliver severe cranial trauma via clenched fists to the unfortunate youth. The boy watched with surprised relief as the bandit’s head jerked, blood flowing from the wound where rock had met head as the bandit tumbled off him to the ground. Pushing the unmoving bandit off him, the boy clambered to his feet to the sight of a girl and Gardevoir regarding him with caution, the psychic uncertain if she would have to use the rock on this one as well.
The boy saluted the pair in order to assuage their fears. A long moment passed before the Pokemon responded, and he felt a sensation in his mind signaling that the creature had given him her tentative approval. Suddenly her head jerked, turning towards another bandit who had decided to focus on the girl rather than confront the violent whirling mass of teeth and claws. He lifted his rifle. For the boy the entire sequence seemed to pass by in slow motion.
The bucking of the rifle as the shot exited the barrel.
The Gardevoir disappearing.
The Gardevoir reappearing mere feet away, between her trainer and the bandit.
A spray of red as the bullet made contact.
A scream of pain that was felt rather than heard.
The Gardevoir staggered as her trainer dashed to her side, catching the psychic Pokemon to stop her from falling. The boy felt himself paralyzed, only able to watch in horror as the man cocked his rifle, spent shells ejected from the weapon to the ground below as he readied the second shot. His second shot never came to be as the rat Pokemon made a timely entrance by landing on the bandit, claws at the ready. The man yelped pitifully as the Pokemon began its dirty work.
The rat didn’t even look at the trainers as it yelled “get out of here!” This seemed to break whatever spell had come over the boy, and moments later he soon found himself helping the girl carry her injured Gardevoir through the underbrush, the sounds of battle echoing behind them.
Some time later the pair would look back on the experience and realize that it was where Fate had chosen to set them on the road to their destinies. Both would have preferred it if Fate had made her decision known with a beam of light and booming voice from heaven and a lot less blood and screaming.
The sun was making its slow descent into the western horizon. Two trainers and an injured Gardevoir found themselves gathered around a small campfire, the flames occasionally licking at the cans of ravioli placed on a grated metal tray above the flames. The impromptu group had kept running until the sounds of battle had faded, and exhausted from the day’s events had settled on making a camp in order to rest and tend to the Gardevoir’s wounds. The pair had done their best with the meager first aid options available on their person, and several bloody bandages covered where the bullet had hit the psychic type in the side. She sat on a nearby log with her trainer clearly spent, half-open eyes staring at nothing in particular. No one talked: generally when people encounter each other in life-threatening situations the usual conversation starters like “how do you do” and “nice weather we’re having” seem inappropriate. Both humans pretended to find something intensely interesting in the flickering flames that required their undivided attention instead.
The rustling of underbrush broke both trainers out of their spell, and they turned to the noise. Almost on cue a strangely familiar voice called out.
“Relax. If I was going to do anything to you I would’ve done it already.”
The group remained tense as the rat Pokemon—bloody and bruised but otherwise apparently in high spirits--walked into camp, dragging a loaded backpack by the shoulder strap behind it. The Pokemon looked at three confused stares and sighed.
“It’s a bag of supplies,” he replied to the unasked question, “you know, the stuff you bring with you into the wilds because you’re too clueless to survive off the land like even the stupidest Pokemon alive can.”
The boy seemed to regain his bearings first. “You didn’t…” he began.
The rat gave him what could most accurately be described as a shrug. “’Kill ‘em all and take their stuff.’ They lived by it, might as well have ‘em die by it too. Besides, I didn’t hear you complain when I killed to save your scrawny ***.” The boy said nothing, so the girl decided to fill the silence instead.
“Thanks,” she ventured, and seeing the rat Pokemon nod slightly to no one in particular decided to continue. “But, why did you-“
“Would you take ‘they were a bunch of *******s and the world is better off without them’ as an answer?” the rat interrupted.
“I guess, but what are y-“
The rat cut in again. “I’ll tell you my name if you tell me yours. If we’re talking to each other I want to work with a little more than ‘hey, you’ or ‘hey, *******.’” The rat shot a glance at the boy, who pretended not to notice.
It occurred to the pair of trainers that they hadn’t gone over this part yet, and would have to anyway to make things slightly less awkward. Boy looked at girl with a look that said you first.
Girl shot back with no, you first. In the grand rock-paper-scissors game that is the battle of the sexes, the fairer sex often has access to the dreaded cruise missile hand sign, allowing them to win the game at will. The boy’s scissors withered in the face of such a brutal onslaught.
“Jonah,” the boy volunteered.
“Caroline,” the girl added, then gestured to her Pokemon. “And this is Syl.”
Greetings, Syl replied. No sound came from her lips, only words that spontaneously formed in the listener’s mind along with the sensation that a female had said them. Caroline saw the dumbfounded look on Jonah’s face twist into confused anger.
“I thought that Pokemon couldn’t talk,” he huffed, “could someone please tell me what the Hell is going on?”
“Well Syl can,” Caroline said, venturing the obvious. “I’ll explain later.” She ran a hand nervously through her waist-length blonde hair, held behind her by a red bandana that covered her head. Syl wore the same affectation as well, and had the situation not been so dire Jonah might have laughed.
The rat Pokemon snorted. “Kid, if a talking Pokemon is all it takes to rock your world you’re going to freak at some of the **** you would have never guessed existed.” An uncomfortable silence followed, and then it dawned on the rat that he had to fulfill his side of the bargain.
“Oh right,” he began. “Just call me Raticlaw.”
“Raticlaw?” Jonah asked.
“Yeah, Raticate plus claws equals Raticlaw. Don’t fall over yourselves telling me how brilliant I am now.” The trainers exchanged a look, neither sure if this was sarcasm.
“Well…uh…Raticlaw,” Jonah began, “you didn’t happen to bring back…say…a gun maybe?”
Raticlaw gave Jonah a look like he was talking to stupidest human being on the planet. “Do you know how to use one?” he asked, and seeing Jonah’s mouth begin to open added “If it any point you have to say ’I saw it on TV’ it doesn’t count, by the way.”
Jonah’s mouth closed.
“Then you’re not getting one,” the rat Pokemon said firmly. “You’re a trainer, aren’t you? Why the Hell are you wandering the woods without a damn Pokemon?”
Jonah looked down, somewhat embarrassed. “Well, they only give out Pokemon once every three months, and you know how you have to be fifteen before they’ll let you begin as a Pokemon trainer, right?”
“And?” Raticlaw asked.
“Well…I turned 15 the day after the latest giveaway was held.”
“And instead of waiting three more months, you decided to set off on your Pokemon journey. Without an actual Pokemon.”
Jonah looked at him sheepishly. “Yeah.” He said this with considerable embarrassment. Raticlaw sighed and turned to Caroline.
“And what’s your story? You don’t look older than he is, and I’m pretty sure they don’t give out fully evolved English-speaking psychics to greenhorns.”
Caroline looked almost offended. “Syl and I have been together since we were little,” she said, as if Raticlaw’s insinuation that Syl was a mere Pokemon was somehow a grave insult. The rat Pokemon turned towards the Gardevoir and began to give her a critical look. His eyes fell on the bandages.
“Were you able to get that bullet out?” he asked nonchalantly.
Caroline shook her head. “No good,” she said, “we won’t be able to get at it until we get to a Pokemon center.”
“To Hell with that, we can get it out now. Got any soap?”
Syl’s eyes shot wide open as her trainer nodded and sudden, painful realization dawned on her. No, that’s quite alright…
“Good. Hey Jonah, get over here, I’m going to need you to hold her down.”
Really, I’m fine…
“See if you can find something for her to bite down on while we’re at it. Wouldn’t be much good if she swallowed her tongue.”
It’s okay! I’m fine! I’m fine!
Raticlaw stared at the flailing Gardevoir as both trainers tried to restrain her without causing the psychic type even more injury. This was quite a feat, all things considered. “Quit being such a goddamn baby,” Raticlaw snorted, “if you’re going to be a trainer’s Pokemon this is nothing.” He lathered his hands with the bottle of soap Caroline had tossed to him, and he set it down carefully. “Hey Syl, what’s your favorite legendary Pokemon?”
Syl stopped flailing, confused at the sudden turn in the conversation. Favorite…legendary?
Raticlaw peeled carefully at the bandages. “Yeah.”
Well, Groudon, but I don’t see why that’s im-
Claws suddenly disappeared into her open wound. The psychic scream sent flocks of Pidgey scattering in panic for miles as small burst of tomato sauce erupted from a neglected can of ravioli.