Casey grimaced. Who knew that merely walking through a forest path could irritate Pokémon to such an extent? He certainly didn’t. It hadn’t happened when he was walking through some of the other foliage-lined paths to and from Holon. However, as soon as he and Caro had stepped onto the path (Casey fiddling with a machine in his hands) a couple of black Pokémon felt the need to greet them in a rather loud and unpleasant manner.
Instead of turning tail and fleeing like any sensible person, Caro had perked up at the sight of these black crows.
“Casey!” he said excitedly. After he got no response, the boy turned around to see Casey backing away slowly, not wanting to startle the creatures into getting any closer.
Caro would have spoken, but apparently the look he shot in Casey’s direction summarized any expression of confusion and irritation Caro wanted to convey. He sighed and returned to Caro’s side, still looking at the Murkrows as if they were going to explode at any moment.
“So we’re not supposed to be escaping?” he asked.
“Nope,” said Caro. “We’ve gotta fight them. And now would also be a good time to deliver some good old-fashioned tutorial wisdom, wouldn’t it?”
“What are you going to tutor me on?” asked Casey. “Don’t we just tell our Pokémon to kill the other Pokémon or something?”
Caro stared at him as if the boy had suggested they run up to the Murkrows and tear them limb-from-limb. “Um, hey, let’s not get into the whole ‘killing’ business until you know how to go about knocking them out.”
Casey realized a little too late that killing the Murkrows was not standard procedure. Instead of dwelling on it, however, Caro took out a Pokéball from his left pocket. It was a teal blue one, with a black grid pattern on the top surface where the red was supposed to be. The bottom half was still white. He tossed it in the air and turned away from the Murkrows, now jeering immaturely (but not before pulling a disgusted expression at them).
“Net Ball,” Caro explained to Casey, who was staring at it. “A variation of the modern Pokéball that’s more useful for catching Water-types. Such as…”
Rotom noticed that there were a couple of Pokémon invaders of the Groupie Galaxy and immediately set to work trying to make them leave in true Pokémon World fashion – with a seemingly turn-based brawl to the knockout. Azumarill squeaked in Rotom’s direction, and he soon understood that it was not a three-on-one battle and floated into position. The Murkrow jeered loudly and…
…didn’t do anything else.
Everything was at a complete standstill.
“Aren’t the Pokémon supposed to be… you know… fighting?”
“Well, yes they are, but we need to give them commands first.”
“Commands? Why don’t they just start duking it out themselves?” The Murkrow were beginning to get restless, and it appeared that this was precisely what they wanted to do.
“The Pokéballs, Casey. Hey, the Murkrow are getting ticked off, they’re saying they’re gonna get out of here soon if we don’t make it worth their while. So… Azumarill! Water Gun on either Murkrow!”
Casey barely had time to object as he watched the rabbit-eared Pokémon open its mouth and simply fire a jet of water at the Murkrow on the left side, in front of Rotom. It cawed and gurgled angrily, but didn’t fall to the attack.
Rotom turned around. “Why aren’t you telling me stuff?” it asked, confused.
“I, um, don’t know what your… er… attacks are.”
“Oh! Oh! Right, right, there’s Thundershock, and Uproar, and Shock Wave, and Ominous Wind…”
“Um, okay, hold on… use Shock Wave, then.”
“I can’t do that!” Rotom laughed as if messing with Casey’s head was the most amusing thing in the world. The rather bewildered Trainer noticed the Murkrow sharing glances out of the corner of his eye, and it was obvious that they were amused by this incident.
“Well… what can you use, then?”
“Thundershock! On the wet one!” Casey-logic prevailed once more in its owner’s head.
Rotom snapped to attention and immediately began charging a Thundershock attack. The red plasma around it grew fuzzy, and even Beast seemed to buzz with the static being generated in Rotom’s blue-glowing core. Finally the ball of electric energy was released by way of simply discharging it all at once and using Beast to aim.
The Murkrow did not fall quietly. It howled and cawed until it couldn’t remain airborne any longer, and it fell through the ground.
Yes, through the ground.
“What?” Casey-logic had failed the boy again (though he really should have learned by now that his logic is simply not all fit for a world inhabited by Pokémon), and he was completely amazed by this recent development. “It just went right through the ground! What on Earth happened there?”
“Oh, right,” said Caro nonchalantly. “They don’t do that in other Regions. You must not know they do that. I don’t know how it happens either, ask any Trainer and they’ll probably say the same thing, but a lot of ‘officials’ on the subject say they’re all safe and are being transported for healing or something. Trainers' Pokémon don't do it, though, only wild ones do.”
“Focus on the fighting, please!” wailed Rotom. “I wanna get this scary Murkrow away from me!”
The Murkrow seemed to take offense to that comment and decided to aim its first attack of the session in Rotom’s direction. The crow Pokémon beat its wings a couple of times before cawing loudly, flying a little higher into the air, and swooped back down, subjecting Rotom to the full extent of Peck’s wrath.
Rotom wailed as the sharp beak came in contact with his orange shell. Beast, being after all a shaped glob of energy, failed to protect its origin from such a quick, pointy strike, and merely passed through the Murkrow as it sailed on the desired downward path.
Needless to say, the shock made Rotom crash to the dirty ground.
Part of Casey wanted to rush in to the fight, snatch Rotom, and run the other way very fast. But after catching a glance from Caro (which somehow managed to convey the messages ‘Don’t you dare go in there, you’ll get yourself really hurt’ and ‘Don’t wimp out now’ at the same time) he kept his feet firmly where they stood and watched with relief Rotom springing up again.
The thing that scared him about that scene was that he was watching Rotom with relief.
‘Relief?’ thought Casey. ‘Am I really relieved to see that Rotom is still alive?’ The thought, no matter how he looked at it, seemed to scare him. Was Rotom – a Pokémon, of all things – really so important that he felt relief when the thing survived an attack by a kamikaze bird?
Noticing Casey’s scared expression, Caro (who had now mentally fit himself in as Casey’s mentor) decided to help him out again.
“Catch it!” he yelled, pointing at the Murkrow. “Catch it!”
Obviously, the good intentions of the statement were all but lost. “Um… what?”
“You do know how to catch a Pokémon, don’t you?” Caro asked dubiously, before registering the severity of the glare Casey was sending back in his direction. Shaking his head sadly, Caro slowly walked over to his friend and self-proclaimed apprentice (keeping an eye on the Murkrow just in case), and handed him a small red-and-white object not too different from what Rotom was contained in.
“A Pokéball,” he said matter-of-factly. “P-O-K-accent-E-Ball. You should know what it is by now. Throw it at the Murkrow!”
Shrugging and figuring that it was going in the opposite direction than he was (and therefore posed no immediate threat to his forehead as Rotom's had done a few days ago), Casey chucked the ball in the black bird’s direction. It turned around just in time to see the Pokéball clock it clean on the base of its three-pointed crest. The Murkrow was slurped up in a flash of red light, and what was left to fall to the ground was a Pokéball, shaking like no tomorrow (and it hopped once or twice). Finally, it stopped quaking and stood still as a rock on the grassy ground.
And then opened again, leaving the Murkrow to be sent out again in a red glow and the cracked shell of a Pokéball to be lying on the floor.
“It… it broke!” Casey said in great alarm.
“Yeah,” said Caro. “Dangit. Well, throw another one, then.”
“I… uh… don’t think I have another one.”
Caro sighed. “I’m going to lose my entire stock on you, aren’t I? Well, let’s hope that some overkill gets the job done. Remind me to force you into the Pokémart when we get to the next city and buy some stuff.” He fished around in his pockets for a few seconds and surfaced with yet another type of Poké Ball, this one a bright blue with red streaks down the sides. “It’s a Great Ball; more likely to catch a Pokémon than regular old Pokéballs do. Chuck it!”
Casey flung the sphere in Murkrow’s general direction just as he had done before. And the scene began the same way too; Pokémon goes into Pokéball kicking and screaming, Pokéball shakes maniacally… and it stays intact.
The duo basked in their brief moment of glory, until…
“So is it going to not come out or what?” asked Casey.
Caro smiled. “It comes out only if you want it to. That Murkrow that was bombarding us a couple of minutes ago? You can use it in Pokémon battles just like Rotom now, because guess what? As immoral as it sounds, that Murkrow is yours
! Just try not to listen to it too much, though, because that thing has something of a foul mou—” He paused mid-statement. “Um, I mean, it looked like it would have one. If I understood it, of course, which I most definitely don’t.”
Casey heard snickering flowing out of the Megaphone Rock.
Gulping, he looked at Caro with a dubious expression. “So how do you know that, then?”
Averting his gaze from the young ‘escort’, Caro looked upwards. “Hey…” he said distantly. “I think that we should be nearing the next… aha!”
He pointed. Casey followed his gaze, thinking that it was some sort of distraction to get off the subject of Caro’s supposed inter-species communication. He was quite wrong. What they were staring at was a large slab of land, flanked on all sides by a deep moat of water except for a small path. Upon the peninsula was a large group of what were undoubtedly buildings.
“Casey,” said Caro proudly, “Rhoter City is upon us!”
There's not going to be much in the Delta Species Plus department for a while; my scanner has been deemed off-limits because some Australian cousin of a friend of my parents is now occupying the room it's in, and will continue to be there for a few weeks and thus severely restricting the use of the scanner for DS+ and related artistic activities. Yay?