I just rread the 1st chapter for the Review Game, so here goes:
The opening was slightly dull. Describing the time and place is a good way to do it, but this didn't really hook me. The dialogue. however, was realistic and interesting from the very beginning. Michael especially sounded like a real 13-year-old. The character of Michael in general is intriguing; I'd like to see how he manages to grow up to be Professor Rowan. His mother, despite having much personality, is very much like a real mom, which is good. Now the way Chapter 1 ended was done fairly well; it was kind of a cliffhanger which is both good and bad. I will say that it made me want to read more, which is better than most fics on this site.
As for the chapter's ending, I didn't really mean for it to be a cliffhanger, but more of a mood-setter. It was a way to close the chapter with a simple, final note that expresses Michael's present attitude towards his life, and make it momentarily unlikely that this kid's ever going to be a pokemon professor. (Truthfully, I'm not a big fan of cliffhangers unless they're done really well, because I've had a lot of experience with really good stories ending in a big cliffhanger, only to have the author drop the project afterwards and leave me hanging permanently. And don't even get me started on book series!)
It was fun playing. Thanks for the review! ^^
This is pretty epic.
When I first saw this, I thought it was something like Roots, by Gastly's Mama of Bulbagarden. It's about Professor Oak being a pedo.
But this is awesome in its own right. Although, it will only be truly cool when Rowan grows a moustache.
Heads up on 19: It's still in the works, sadly. I hit a major roadblock this past week with other time-consuming things, so I'm making up for it as best as I can now. I'll try to get it up before next weekend.
The other Roots is very similar to yours, btw, but it's a oneshot.
Also, the moustache is the only defining feature of Rowan's that sets him apart from the other really old Professor (Oak or Cedric Juniper), so young Rowan should suddenly have a douchey obsession with growing one, just to explain it away.
Well now. I don't often do this (a bad habit that I ought to rid myself of) but I just can't help but stop by and say something about this story. It's one I've often seen, here and over on Pokécommunity, and I've always thought 'Huh, I should read that sometime' - but I never have.
Until, of course, now. And now I can tell you that this is probably the best thing I've seen for quite some time. One thing I've noticed about it is a more or less total lack of awkward phrasing, something that persists in a great many stories in these and other forums, even otherwise great ones; there are two ways that that's come about, practice or natural talent, and whichever one it is, I have to admire you for it.
But that's not the thing I like most. What I like is the realism of everything. The dialogue works not only as a driving narrative force but as real, human interaction; the towns and League system are brought firmly down to earth; characters in this story feel solid and believable. And apart from that, you're generally just a good writer: sentences flow, your writing style isn't too simple but isn't too pretentious, and your Sinnoh is built on a solid foundation of logic; there's some good world-building going on here. (I'm also a sucker for anything set in the thirties, fifties or sixties, so you've got me there, too. Mm. Sweet, sweet datedness.)
However, I do have one major criticism, and that is that you ask the reader to suspend their disbelief slightly more than is reasonable. OK, so no one has worked out that Pokémon types are strong/weak against each other yet – unlikely, but I can just about accept it; I appreciate it's necessary. No, what I find unreasonable is the fact that people don't appear to have noticed that Pokémon evolve yet. You're asking me to believe that in the hundreds, no, thousands of years that people and Pokémon have coexisted – and there's plenty of evidence, game-, manga- and anime-wise to suggest that they have done so – no one's noticed that Pokémon evolve? Pokémon grow and evolve through battling, or else through maturing – so how can it be that no one has noticed, for instance, that Horsea eventually turn into Seadra?
Pokémon evolution is Rowan's field of expertise as a Professor, yes, and it seems to me that you're setting him up as its discoverer here. I can see why you might have done it. But unless you give it some more explanation, it just doesn't sit right with me. Not to put too fine a point on it, it seems downright illogical.
There are also a few minor word confusions: in 1.6, for instance, you've used the word 'semblance' where the correct word would be 'resemblance'. There are a couple more of these, but I can't for the life of me recall them right now. I'll probably return later to look them up, if I remember.
Having said that, I am enjoying this story immensely, so you're doing something right. Whatever you do next, I shall be watching and waiting, like a hunting heron, for future updates. Actually, to decrease the necessary amount of watching and waiting, could you add me to the PM list?
Last edited by Cutlerine; 25th October 2011 at 1:54 PM.
I think my reply to your criticism is longer than the criticism itself. xP
What I did a while ago to avoid future inconsistencies was write down specifically what the general populace knows and doesn't know about pokemon. One of the major flaws in common knowledge is evolution, and the best thing I can relate it to is the development of the concept of the atom. (How people hundreds of years ago speculated on their existence, then science built upon itself as people added their own theories and models, and how today, finally, we seem to know what they're all about. In this sense, I'm making Michael more of a pioneer in evolution science rather than a discoverer, since the latter would be a bit weighty.)
This is an outline of my ideas, both new and old, that I will be referring to from now on. I'd rather have the story do the explaining, but I want to make it clear where I'm planning to go in the future. Also, for my readers in general, consider it my promise that there won't be any more surprises.
- People are aware that evolution happens, but they're not sure exactly how it works on a biological basis.
- The evolutions of pokemon are considered to be different pokemon, save for the really unusual, less-known evolutions. (Item-induced below)
- The evolution chains of common 'growing' pokemon (Horsea, starter pokemon, Starlies, Bidoofs) are known, but a person's familiarity with them largely depends on how familiar their area is with that pokemon, and/or how knowledgeable or well-traveled they are in general. It's sort of how you would know a little about the animals that live around your area, even if you're not an animal person, and less about those that live in other countries.
- Item-induced evolutions are a mystery. People have noticed that certain pokemon evolve when given certain items, but they don't know why this happens or what species it works for. There are also many evolution-inducing items that haven't been tested yet. (So while people would know that, say, Horsea evolves into Seadra, the connection between Seadra and Kingdra would be a lot harder to figure out.)
I'll go back to your mentioning of Horsea/Seadra. My original thought process on it was that since Horsea isn't native or common in Sinnoh, Michael and Henry wouldn't know much about it. Being native to Kanto, it was probably introduced as a new species by explorers, and settled down in the habitat that best suited its needs, not thriving anywhere else. So, with Horsea being a 'rare' species, people like Michael and Henry who aren't that well-traveled wouldn't know much about Seadra, the evolution. (Though a pokemon professor like Emerson certainly would.)
I think this is somewhat complicated, and I can see a bunch of problems with it already. For one thing, it's not impossible that Horsea would have migrated to other areas of Sinnoh. It's found practically everywhere in Kanto, which must mean that it's a pretty hardy species, so it would be able to survive in more than one place in Sinnoh. (etc.) There are a lot of factors to consider. Nevertheless, I stand by the thought process I mentioned before, and I'll find a way to explain it while not making it seem like an info-dump.
If I can't, then I'll change the species of the river-pokemon to something that makes more sense. Theoretically, I could do that, since the specific species isn't really vital to the plot, though it would require a lot of tweaking. But I'm prepared to do it if I can't find a place for Seadra.
To make a long explanation short, I guess the only answer I can give to your criticism is that I'm working on it. I'll be going back to iron-out the previous chapters based on the above ideas, but my main focus right now will be the forward-moving plot and keeping everything consistent for the rest of the ride. The next two chapters, oddly enough, will have a lot more to do with evolution and pokemon knowledge, so you'll see me incorporating the list I mentioned above.
I hope I answered all your points. This post has had just as much of me talking to myself as replying to you. xP I'll look for that stray 'semblance' you mentioned, and keep and eye out for any more word-errors.
With all that said, thank you for the review! Your comments at the beginning made me smile, and it feels great to know that there are attentive readers willing to nudge me in the right direction. PM list updated.
You've done a fairly good job of defending yourself there, and I admit that your explanation does make sense. I had already appreciated that item evolutions would be unknown at this point; they often are in this sort of story. It just seems like it would have been better to engineer a way of having this explained (at least in part) in advance, before people who are just as critical but less open-minded than me read it and suddenly decide you are a heretic and a loon.
Horsea are actually very tough. I imagine they must be, because if they're anything like seahorses then they're raised by male Kingdra as babies, which is enough to turn anyone into a vicious warrior willing to attack pretty much anything with a pulse.
Anyway, I look forward to the next chapter.
This one was a challenge to write, but I finally got it to where I wanted it to be. It's small, but important. You'll see why at the end. ;)
By late afternoon, the sky had blossomed into shades of orange and yellow over the park of Amity Square, and Michael had filled two more notebook pages with information. Most of it was basic stuff, observations, and vague connections about possible type matchups that he made a note to test later on, but his most desired information—the type status of Psychic pokémon—remained out of his reach.
As the crowd in the park trickled away, and workers began to close off gates, Michael went back to the central fountain and decided to call it a day. He went looking for Henry, and found the boy sitting on a bench, with his notebook open on his lap. His Clefairy, who had been skipping at his feet for practically the whole day, seemed to have finally run out of fuel. The pokémon was curled up beside him now, like a dozing pink gumdrop.
Michael approached and leaned against the bench. “So what did you find?” he asked.
“Not much,” Henry replied, flipping a page. Up close, Michael saw that the boy looked rather irritated, his mouth curled into a half-pout. Over the many days that they had traveled together, Michael had learned to recognize the Henry Face when he saw it, and crossed his arms.
“What’s with you?” he said. “Did you not get anything or something?”
Henry shook his head. “No. It’s just this trainer I met about an hour ago. He was really annoying.”
“He kept watching me while I was walking around and stuff. At first I kind of ignored it, but then he came up to me.” Henry’s expression darkened. “And he asked me if I was a spokesperson for Contests, because nobody in their right mind would walk around with a wimpy Clefairy.”
Michael bit his lip to keep from laughing. “And? You told him to shut it, right?”
“Kinda. Well, I tried to.” Henry let out a breath. “We got into an argument, and at the end he threw a rock at me.”
Michael perked an eyebrow at the sudden twist. “Whoa. Really?”
“Well not at me, but at my feet. Then he just ran off.” Henry reached into his pocket and pulled out a bumpy black stone. “I kept it.”
The laugh Michael had been fighting to keep down escaped him in a sudden burst, and he clutched his stomach as he shook. “Why? Man, why?”
A brief smile shone through Henry’s gloom. “I don’t know… I think it’s cool. It's like one of those pumice stones that they find near volcanoes, only it's heavier. Want to see?” Henry proffered the stone.
Michael let his chuckles subside, and placed his hand on the bar of the bench. “You’re hopeless, you know that? First of all, when someone calls your pokémon wimpy, you call their mother wimpy. Second, if someone throws a rock at you, you throw it back. Don’t keep it, for Pete’s sake. Did you want to commemorate the occasion or something?”
The boy was silent. Michael sat down on the arm of the bench, placing his hands on his knees. “It’s about time I taught you how to deal with people. Remember how I told you that people are gonna keep stepping all over you until you learned to stick up for yourself?”
“Yeah,” Henry said.
“Well now, if that kid ever sees you again, he’s gonna think you’re an easy target. And you are, because that’s how you presented yourself. Even worse, you kept the thing he threw at you. That’s like taking an F paper and framing it on your wall.”
“I guess…” Henry looked the stone over again and placed it into his pocket. The motion roused the sleeping Clefairy, who cracked open one eye and squealed in disapproval.
“Sorry,” Henry said. “You can go back to sleep.” He patted Clefairy’s head, and she rolled over to the side.
Michael opened his notebook. “So did you get any stuff on Psychic pokémon?”
The boy lowered his head towards his notes again. “I think so. There was this one lady who was out with a Kadabra. She let me watch as it bent these two spoons.”
“And how did that go?”
“Well, it held them up.” Henry drew up his arms in imitation. “Then it sort of squinted… and they bent. Just like that.” He smiled. “It was really cool. It didn’t touch them or anything — it just sort of used its mind.”
Michael pondered this. “Well, yeah, that makes sense. Psychic moves are non-contact. Stuff like Hypnosis and Confusion. It must be some sort of special process that goes on in the brain, that only certain species can utilize. Otherwise all pokémon would be Psychic.”
Henry snapped his fingers. “Hey, like Byron’s Bronzor!”
“That's what I was thinking too. Remember how it used that one move and its opponents just dropped unconscious?”
Henry nodded. “Yeah! But wait… wasn’t Bronzor a Steel type? That was why Ground moves affected it. How could it use Psychic moves too?”
“Well, apparently you don’t have to be a pure Psychic pokémon to use Psychic moves. Bronzor’s a Steel pokémon, but it must also have a Psychic part that allows it to manipulate energy. That works for some other pokemon too. I think it’s called dual types.”
“Are you sure?” Henry looked to him, and Michael shrugged.
“It’s the best we’ve got.”
The boy processed this, and nodded. “Okay. But what about strengths? What’s Psychic good against?”
Michael thought back to his battle with Byron. “Well… there was this one moment when I sent out Turtwig against Bronzor. Then it just used its crazy powers and Turtwig fell flat after practically a second. As opposed to my Goldeen and your Clefairy, which held out longer. So I guess Grass must be vulnerable. We’ll have to test it somehow before the battle to be sure, though.”
Nodding, Henry added ‘Psychic’ to their compiled chart. “Okay, so it’s effective against Grass. What else? What could Psychic be vulnerable to?”
“I guess it depends what the second type of the pokémon is,” Michael said.
“But what if all of Jerry’s pokémon are pure Psychic?”
Michael puffed out his cheeks. “Then I don’t know. We’ll wing it.”
Henry nearly dropped the pencil he was holding. “But we can’t! You said that we’d be preparing!”
Michael lifted a hand to stop him. “I know, I know, I was kidding. Sheesh. I’m just tired.” He brushed his hair from his forehead. “God, all this feels like studying for final exams. Which I didn’t do, but still.” He cast his gaze over the afternoon sky, and was silent for several minutes. After some time of consideration, he stood from the bench. “I guess we should go now. I’m hungry.”
Henry nodded. “Yeah, let’s go.”
The boys gathered their things. Clefairy had fallen sound asleep against Henry’s leg again, and when the boy stood, she slid off the bench and plopped into the grass. With a gasp, Henry rushed to pick her up.
“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry!” Henry scooped her into his arms and brushed a tuft of hair from her eyes. “Are you okay?”
But Clefairy didn’t seem to be paying attention. She had made no attempt to break her fall, and her eyes, still half-closed, were trailing and unfocused. She seemed caught in a dream. Michael stepped closer, and in the waning light he could see that her skin was abnormally pale, bagging beneath the eyes as if from a sleepless night. As Henry held her, the pokémon gave a soft sniff.
“Uh, Henry,” Michael said. “Your Clefairy’s sick.”
Henry’s eyes widened in alarm. “What? No she’s not.”
Michael pressed two fingers to Clefairy’s forehead. Sure enough, he could sense a feverish warmth simmering within. “Yes she is. Feel.”
Henry felt Clefairy’s forehead. The boy’s lips parted, and as if by maternal instinct, he hugged Clefairy closer.
“But she was fine two hours ago!” he protested. “She was walking right by me and everything!”
Michael shrugged. “We’ve been out in a public park for almost four days now. She probably caught it from one of the other pokémon.”
Henry looked down at his Clefairy, biting his lip. “Should we take her to the Pokémon Center?”
“Your battle’s on Monday. I sure would if I were you,” Michael said.
But Henry did not seem to have heard him—his decision was already made. The boy gathered his things, and with the ailing Clefairy in his arms, he scampered down the path. Michael rushed after him, frustrated by Henry's panicked speed.
“Relax!” he called. “Clefairy’s not going to die!”
“Just hurry!” Henry said. To the contrary, he began to run faster, the tote bag bouncing comically against his side.
They zipped their way through the park, across the road, and along the street leading to their hotel. The Pokémon Center was a separate building that stood in the same parking lot, dwarfed by its multistoried companion. By the time they arrived, blue evening had begun to cool the flaming sunset, and the Center's 24-Hour sign had been turned on, calling out to them like a shining beacon.
Michael and Henry made a loud entrance, bursting through the doors, stumbling and panting from their long run. Their arrival hardly disturbed the lobby, however, which was alive and running at an efficient, professional pace. Nurses and staff members came and went from a series of doors at the head of the room, pushing carts and carrying pokémon wrapped in blankets.
The lobby was built with trainers in mind as well, its walls and furniture accented in pink, its living room-like seating areas sporting fake flowers and large, cushioned couches. Heat therapy stations dotted the walls like soda machines, and Michael was about to pull Henry over to one, but the boy did not want to take any chances.
Henry immediately approached the front counter, where a lady sat, looking over some files. She was dressed like the other nurses, complete with the apron and cap, but her eccentricity lay in a pair of thin, zebra-striped glasses perched on her nose. When Henry arrived, the nurse looked up, immediately reading the concern on his face.
“Hello,” she said, frowning. “Is something wrong?”
“My Clefairy’s sick. She was all right this morning, but then she sort of crashed and fell asleep. She's really warm too.” Henry held up Clefairy, who in the artificial light, looked even worse than before. Her stubby ears had drooped, and she squirmed at the elevated noise level in the room.
The nurse gently took the pokémon into her arms and laid her palm against its cheek. “Yep. She has a fever. I can feel it right through here. I can run some quick tests for you to determine a possible virus.”
“Yes please,” Henry said.
The nurse nodded. “I’ll be back. Wait here.” She left the counter and disappeared behind one of the doors.
They waited for several minutes, during which Henry began to pace around the lobby, his eyes running across the walls and furniture, his fingers toying with the vases of flowers that adorned the tables. Every time a nurse or staff member would emerge from the back door with a pokémon, he turned to them with hopeful eyes, then grumblingly cast his gaze away again when he saw that it wasn’t Clefairy.
Michael was utterly puzzled by the boy’s reaction, and though he tried to put himself in Henry’s place, he couldn’t bring himself to sympathize with him. Pokémon had never been a big part of life in his family. Neither of his parents had been trainers, and the only pet Michael could ever remember having was a Glameow, which Patricia had brought in when he was five or six, probably to patch up the already-growing tensions in the household. At first, Michael’s brothers had been okay with it, and his father even offered to get up early to take it outside. But over the weeks, Andrew grew tired of the Glameow’s constant mewling and attachment to him, and Michael’s brothers complained that it was leaving claw marks all over their doors and messing through their stuff. Michael had also found the Glameow’s presence invasive, and would often enter his room to find that it had stretched itself out on his bed, its prim, slanted eyes watching him threateningly should he dare to push it off. Swayed by majority vote, Patricia grudgingly donated it to a pet store, and the Rowans never got another pokémon again.
Michael had been relieved by Glameow’s absence, and at the fact that he could sleep peacefully without worrying about claws or whipping tails. Back then, having a pokémon around was like dragging along a cinderblock wherever you went. It was an extra body to take care of, which the Rowans were simply too busy to do. And even though he was older now, Michael still held the same viewpoint. Henry, however, was nothing short of an oddity.
Michael followed the boy's confused beeline across the lobby, keeping a few paces behind him as if he were holding an invisible leash. Finally, the zebra-striped rims appeared from behind the back door, and their nurse hurried over to them, clutching Clefairy in her arms. Her face, as of yet, betrayed nothing.
Henry met her somewhat tentatively. “So what is it? Just a cold, right?”
The nurse’s face clouded. “I’m not sure. She came up negative for a bacterial infection, and we didn’t detect PokéRus. But her blood was a bit… odd. She has an unusual amount of antibodies circulating in her body right now.”
“What does that mean?” Henry said.
“Well, you know how you have lots of antibodies in your blood? They help you fight off diseases. With a human, that’s normal. But pokémon don’t get sick like we do. Their immune systems are structured differently, and they only have one main type of antibody in their blood. For them, that’s normal. When they get sick, that one type of antibody is usually enough to cover most diseases they can be affected with. But we found a second type of antibody in your Clefairy’s blood, which technically isn’t impossible, but it means that her body’s dealing with an unknown pathogen and doesn’t quite know how to attack it yet.”
“Uh-huh...” Henry nodded. His face was visibly losing color.
“We weren’t able to find the exact microbe causing it, which means that either it’s an advanced virus, or our equipment isn’t good enough to detect it. Either way, I’d recommend visiting a more advanced hospital. There are a few pokémon-specialized hospitals in Hearthome—”
“We don’t have time to visit a hospital,” Michael said. “We have a battle on Monday.”
The nurse shook her head. “Then I suggest rescheduling. I would get this Clefairy to a lab right away. She’s probably suffering from a mutated pathogen of some sort, but a specialist will be able to give you better answers. Here.” She handed Clefairy back to Henry, and Michael noticed that the boys arms were shaking.
“What’s gonna happen?” the boy looked up, his voice small.
“For now, just wait and see,” said the nurse. She pulled a small glass bottle from the pocket of her apron. “This should help with the fever. One tablespoon an hour. Other than that, my advice would be lots of water and sleep. I’d also recommend keeping her out of her pokéball for a while. I know being in containment can be really stressful on pokémon’s bodies.”
Henry took the medicine and nodded slowly. “Okay,” he mumbled. “Thank you.”
The nurse smiled warmly. She clasped her hands together and went back to the counter. Henry guided himself towards the exit, but instead of going for the doors, he veered aside and plopped down in an empty chair. Michael sat down across from him, weirded-out by the boy’s reaction.
“Look, relax,” he began. “You’re acting like you’ve gotten a statement from the morgue. I bet that nurse lady just read something wrong on her equipment, and thought it was something serious. If you ask me, she didn’t look like she knew what she was talking about at all. Clefairy will be fine.”
Henry did not seem at all comforted by Michael’s words. He sank into a long, deep silence, during which he stared mostly at his hands, unflinching as the people came and went about them. Then, finally, Henry lifted his head. “I want to go see Bertha.”
Michael blinked at this sudden pronouncement. “Why Bertha all of a sudden?”
“Because I want to go see her,” Henry repeated.
“Well, okay,” Michael said. “We’ll go see Bertha. I don’t know what good it’ll do, but sure.”
Henry narrowed his eyes. “What, do you not want to see Bertha?”
“No. Who says I don’t want to see Bertha?”
“Why would I say that?”
“I’m asking you.”
“I told you already, it’s fine with me.”
“But you still don’t think it’s a good idea,” Henry pressed.
“And what made you think that?”
“Because you said it.”
“I didn’t say that I didn’t want to,” Michael said. “I just said that I didn’t know why you wanted to see her all of a sudden, but I guess if you really want to, then we’ll go.”
“But that’s not what you meant!” said Henry with sudden anger, rising from his seat. “You said that you didn’t want to!”
Michael felt his temper flare. He gripped the arm of the couch and leaned forward. “Look, I never said that! All I said was that I didn’t know why you wanted to see her, and then you started going all ape about it and put words in my mouth! What’s your freaking bag, man?”
“I don’t have a problem! Maybe you should stop putting words in my mouth and just listen to what I’m saying, for once!”
Michael opened his mouth for a retort, when he realized that the argument was going absolutely nowhere. Michael shook his head slowly, his anger dissipating into a blank gape. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Henry blinked. Then, as if by some magic trigger, his face regained its former calm. “I guess… nothing. Never mind.” He rubbed his eyes and sat down.
“So… do you want to see Bertha or not?” Michael said carefully. “It’s up to you.”
Henry thought for a bit, then nodded. “Yeah. Let’s go.”
With that, they left the Pokémon Center and went back to the hotel. Henry agreed to pick up some dinner first, though he insisted on avoiding the large, germ-spreading crowd at the cafeteria and eating alone. So with their take-out containers in hand, Michael and Henry marched up to Bertha’s room and knocked.
“Bertha, it’s us!” Henry said. “Can we come in?”
Michael heard a distant rustle. “Just a second!”
They waited for a moment, and then Bertha opened the door, flooding the hallway with orange light. Her curtains were drawn, and the usually tidy room she kept was now slightly disheveled. The beds and table were piled high with clothing of all sorts, making the space look like a colorful whirlpool. Empty shopping bags were stuffed into the corner.
Michael was the first to comment, lifting an eyebrow. “What’s with the new decor?”
Bertha smiled somewhat sheepishly as she guided them inside. “I did some shopping in my free time. I figured that while summer lasts, I might as well take advantage of city department stores.” Coming around to one of the beds, she lifted a white sundress and held it against her frame. “Would this look all right on me? I think it’s too low-cut, but the color’s nice. You don’t see a lot of white these days.”
Michael nodded. “It looks fine.” As he heard himself say this, he couldn’t help but chuckle. His own mother had been a splurge-shopper, and in her frequent swings of mood and taste, she would end up returning nearly half of what she had bought, resulting in piles and piles of receipts on their counter.
As he and Henry sat down at the two-person table in the corner, food containers and all, Bertha sorted through a few more items. “I bought stuff for you boys too,” she said. Bertha showed a couple of tye-dye shirts to Michael and a pair of plain pants. For Henry, she laid out a similar outfit, only one of the shirts featured a pokéball. Michael was surprised at Bertha’s well-picked assortment for him, though his gut instinct was to shake his head.
“You didn’t have to do this,” he said.
Bertha shrugged. “I guess I just wanted to say thanks for putting up with me all this time. I know it can be annoying to tug along a third wheel wherever you go, especially someone like me who’s got her own agenda. And plus, those pants will look much more decent on you than jeans. Just sayin’.” She smiled.
Henry didn’t comment on his gifts, but smiled somberly and placed Clefairy in his lap. Bertha looked up at him.
“Hey, what’s wrong? You don’t seem like yourself.” She came around and kneeled beside the bed.
“My Clefairy’s sick,” Henry replied. “The nurse at the Pokémon Center said that there was some sort of problem with her antibodies… that there were too many or something. And now I’m not sure if she’ll get better.” He sighed.
Bertha knit her eyebrows. “May I?” Henry nodded, and she scooped Clefairy into her arms. The pokémon squirmed, but for the most part lay still as she stroked its head. “Mmm. Poor thing…When my pokémon were sick my mom always made them tea to help them sleep. I’d do it for you guys now, but I don’t have anything to brew.”
“That’s okay,” Henry mumbled.
Bertha looked at them, and their unopened containers of food. “You boys can eat here if you want. I don’t mind. I could use the company.”
Henry smiled gratefully. Bertha pulled up an extra chair for herself and set Clefairy down in her lap. Michael and Henry ate their food, and she watched them, occasionally giving Clefairy a rub on the head, which always made the pokémon giggle, snorting softly through her stuffy nose. It was almost like they were seated at Bertha’s dinner table again, and though the surroundings were different, Michael still felt oddly at home. Even Clefairy looked somewhat happy, and seemed to regain some of her former playfulness as Bertha cooed to her.
“You know, I wouldn’t worry too much about what that nurse told you,” Bertha said to Henry. “I’ve been around pokémon for my whole life, and I’ve seen it all. They bounce back from sicknesses even better than we do, sometimes.”
Henry shrugged. “The nurse said that it was something she had never seen before, and that I had to take her to a hospital and get her tested. But I really don’t want to.”
Michael nodded his agreement. If they were to start hunting for hospitals now, then it would throw their whole schedule off track. He didn’t even want to think about what Henry would say if those tests came out bad as well. Thankfully, though, the boy did not seem to need convincing.
“I hate hospitals,” Henry continued. “They scare me. And the doctors are always so unfriendly.”
Bertha laughed. “My grandma always said that the best doctor is joy and good company. Though that was way back when. Medicine’s gotten much more respectable now. I’d say there’s nothing wrong with getting professional advice, as long as you’re smart about it.”
Henry bobbed his head slowly in a nod. “Yeah. But… what about our battle? I don’t want to make Michael miss his just because of me. We’ve been practicing really well so far.”
Both Henry and Bertha turned to Michael, eyeing him tentatively as if unsure of his reaction. Michael tilted his head to the side as he pieced together an answer. “Well, we could always reschedule, like the nurse said. I mean, it doesn’t really matter if we stay for an extra day or two in Hearthome.”
“Wow, Michael,” Henry said. “You’d do that?”
“Sure…” Michael felt a sinking sensation in his stomach, and he suddenly wondered what consequences he would suffer from what he had just said. Still, he figured it was better to travel with a happy Henry than a neurotic one. And the extra days would give him more time to polish his knowledge about Psychic types… right?
Henry’s eyes were beginning to widen with surprised gratitude, so Michael looked away. Bertha tapped her fingers on the table, and nodded.
“That sounds like a plan,” she said. “But I don’t like the idea of you boys putting off your battle for too long. Spots in Hearthome fill up pretty quick, and you don’t often see trainers rescheduling. I think we should devote some time tomorrow to ask Jerry if he has any other days available that we can reserve just in case. I’ll have to tweak my own schedule if we’re going to stay here a bit longer than planned—”
“No, don’t!” Henry blurted. He was blushing from embarrassment. “It’s okay, you don’t have to. I’ll just be messing everything up now.”
“No,” Bertha said, lowering her hand onto the table. “You have a sick pokémon that needs to get better. That’s just as important as any battle or petition. We’re not talking about weeks here, only an extra few days in the city. It won’t kill anyone. So don’t worry about us.”
Henry looked at her for a moment, then dropped his gaze. “Okay... Thanks, Bertha.”
Bertha’s expression softened. “No problem. Now you boys should go get some rest. I can see you’re both tired.”
Michael rose from his chair and yawned. “All right. Let’s go, Henry.” He took his emptied take-out container with him and dropped it into the trash can. Bertha handed Clefairy back to Henry, and after sharing a few good-byes, the boys left the room.
Michael woke up in the middle of the night with a mild headache and a sour mood. His pillow was bunched up against the headboard, and his blanket was sliding off the edge of the bed, leaving one half of him exposed to the evening chill. With a grunt, he sat up to make the necessary adjustments, his tired mind swarming with fragmented thoughts.
In the neighboring bed, Henry was sound asleep. Moonlight was spilling into the space between them, illuminating the TV, and the shadowed pictures framed on the walls. Michael had crashed to sleep at around eleven, while Henry had chosen to stay up to look after Clefairy. He had fashioned an entire shelter for her, complete with a mattress made out of shirts, a cup of cool water, and some toys in case she got lonely. The last thing Michael saw was the boy taking out the pumice stone and playing a sort of baby-catch game with Clefairy, but after that, he had been too tired to keep his eyes open.
And now, he couldn’t sleep.
Michael’s annoyance at himself faded into dull acceptance as he sank back into his pillow. He heard a cough and a scuffle from nearby. Apparently someone else wasn’t getting their sleep either.
As Michael began to close his eyes again, trying to latch onto what remained of his fading dreams, he heard a loud thump. His eyes flew open, and he looked around. Henry was as still as ever, but the pile of clothing on the table had unraveled, and was now on the floor. In the weak light, Michael saw a round, pale shape stumble around on the carpet, blindly crawling away from the table.
Great. Perfect. With a disgruntled sigh, he lowered himself back down again, pulling the covers over his head. But then he felt a tiny pang of guilt, and with another groan, brought himself out of bed, dropping onto all fours on the carpet.
“Here, Clefairy,” Michael whispered, crawling half-blindly after the pokémon. “Come ‘ere. That’s it.”
He held out his hands, and when the Clefairy noticed his presence, a shudder ran through its body. As it backed away from him, the moonlight caught its face, bringing a pale, eerie flash to its eyes. Michael advanced further, his frustration climbing.
“Come on. To me, Clefairy. To me.”
The Clefairy continued to back away, and he continued to follow, forming a slow, annoying cycle in the center of the room. Michael found himself being oddly considerate of his sleeping roommate, muffling his movements and trying not to bump into anything, but as a result, his reflexes were sluggish and imprecise. When Michael’s patience finally wore thin, he made a blind lunge for the Clefairy, but the pokémon skipped out of the way with surprising agility. Michael fell flat on his stomach. The pokémon ran a few more steps, then stumbled drunkenly and fell down as well.
Michael scrambled to lift himself. The Clefairy regained its footing and continued to walk. It disappeared behind his bed, then came out again, looking even more haggard than before. The pokémon did not seem to have a particular destination in mind; it simply moped about like a zombie, arms scabbing at its body.
A sudden idea sprang to the forefront of Michael’s mind. He turned back to the table and grabbed the small black stone, and held it out to the Clefairy, putting on the best playful-child smile he could manage.
“Come on, Clefairy. Want to play? Come on. Look, I have your favorite toy right here. Right here, that’s it…” He found the Clefairy, who was currently backed up against the wall, one arm holding the surface behind it for support and the other clutching its stomach, in a comical posture of nausea.
Michael got down on his knees again and waved the stone around, and the Clefairy’s glittering eyes found his for a moment. Sniffling, the pokémon flinched away, and Michael’s smile turned into a snarl. “Ugh. Come on, Clefairy! Just get over here! Get over here, you little—”
Michael made to push himself forward, when he realized that he was leaning as far as his position would allow. Feeling a sudden wave of exhaustion wash over him, Michael instead sat back down on his knees. What was he doing? Getting carried away again, that was what. If Clefairy wanted to produce a giant vomit-puddle on the carpet, that was fine with him. He’d deal with it when he woke up.
Michael rubbed his eyes again. Beside him, Clefairy let out a whimper. “Argh, whatever. Play with this.” He tossed the stone.
It fell about a foot away from Clefairy’s feet, but when he heard the resulting shriek, Michael whipped back around, afraid for a moment that he had hit it.
In a way, he had.
The Clefairy was doubled over now, staggering from a series of violent convulsions that were shaking its body. Any moment now, it would start blowing chunks.
As the Clefairy fell away from the wall and stumbled forward, Michael backed away by instinct, too stunned or amazed to tear away his gaze. The Clefairy came to a halt in a patch of moonlight cast upon the carpet, and by then, Michael’s back was pressed up against the side of his bed. The pokémon let out a horrible retching sound, but nothing came out. Instead, it seemed to shrink, balling itself up and lying on its side like a withered prune.
And then it grew.
The change was like an explosion, swift and graceful like a flower blooming at high-speed. The Clefairy’s torso inflated like a fuzzy balloon, and all at once, the structures and appendages on its body began to morph of their own accord. Limbs thickened, ears lengthened and sharpened like carrot sticks, and the tiny comma of a tail blew up to the size of a soccer ball. On its back, a pair of new, tiny stubs sprouted out of its back like little knobs, then unfurled into a pair of pink cupid wings. The pokemon turned and wrenched with the force of the shakes, every angle bringing a new glimpse of a body that was tweaking itself like a machine, grinding gears and turning switches.
When it was over, the quakes subsided, and the final fragments of the transformation fell into place. The tiny tuft of hair between the pokémon’s ears grew into a neat, single curl, and its eyes, which had been baggy and congested only moments before, now rounded against smooth, dimpled skin.
With calm lucidity, the pokémon slowly uncurled itself from its slouched position, swaying a little with its unfamiliar height. All traces of sickness had faded from its appearance. The silver light of the moon traced its full silhouette, its no-longer-stubby legs, round belly, and pointed ears. Suddenly one of them flicked, and the pokémon turned to Michael, casting him a knowing sort of smile.
It was only then that Michael became aware that he was gaping like an idiot, eyes bulging out of their sockets, hands slack at his sides.
Roughly a minute later, he found his voice.
Last edited by Mrs. Lovett; 30th October 2011 at 5:50 PM.
I just wanted to say that you conveyed Henry's compassion for his Clefairy in a way I can only aspire to. I also loved your description in the evolution scene. No mistakes stood out enough for me to notice, perhaps someone else can find some (if any). In any case very good job.
A breeder joyously hatches a riolu for a client. To the dismay of the hatchling, the client never returns to claim him. Faced with an abandoned pokémon, the breeder vows to find the riolu's trainer and family.
(Better banner coming soon.)
Current - Prologue.
Coming up - Re-writing Chapter 1
Spoiler:- 4th Gen Eggmove (Any Nature/Gender):
great chapter! this seemed preety informitive this chapter!
and now a few errors:
i belive this is supposed to be "this"Henry bobbed his head slowly in a nod. “Yeah. But… what about our battle? I don’t want to make Michael miss his just because of me. We’ve been practicing really well so far.”
i may be wrong but you may want to change this to her not its.Bertha knit her eyebrows. “May I?” Henry nodded, and she scooped Clefairy into her arms. The pokémon squirmed, but for the most part lay still as she stroked its head. “Mmm. Poor thing…When my pokémon were sick my mom always made them tea to help them sleep. I’d do it for you guys now, but I don’t have anything to brew.”
the evolution scene was preety um odd, but informitive!
cant wait for the next chapter!
And what do you mean by 'odd'? I hope it's not a bad thing :P
Thank you both for stopping by!
I have finally got round to reading another chapter, but I have a long long way to go to catch up completely. Anyway, the chapter itself was pretty darn good. Liked the combination of description, speech and story progression there in a good mix adding to the plot.
The Description was (I felt) rather interesting and used at the perfect times in this chapter. It didn't feel shoved down our throat yet it also didn't feel lacking so that was quite a nice touch to the story. I liked the areas you used it and how you used it as well, making sure to take delicate care with what you said, only doing it where necesary and where it added to the story. A great acheivement. The speech was also used at appropriate times, where we needed to see the action, we saw it, when we needed to know what was going on in a character's head, we saw it, and when we needed speech, we saw it. So that's again a brilliant skill that I think you've definitely develoed over the past few chapters! All this has definietly added to the progression of the chapter and the story in the long run!
So, yup, a good chapter! Loved it! Loved the characterisation and how each and everyone developed and were portrayed. Can't wait to see what keeps happening with them and where they're yet to go!
Most Recent Chapter - Chapter 31: Don't Forget Me - Posted 26/01/13Credits to Sweet May and DanChimchar
I will pursue You, I will pursue Your presence
Hey harryheart! It's nice to hear from you. (Come to think of it, Chapter 8 seems like so long ago now that I'm almost at twenty... heh.) Don't feel obliged to rush, though. Feel free to take your time. :)
So, I'm glad to know that everything was fine and that you liked the writing. The subsequent chapters haven't changed much except for a few edits here and there, and I hope you enjoy those too. See you next time!
A quick heads-up on Chapter 20: It's coming along. Unfortunately, this also happens to be the week that I have a big paper due, so I had to divide my time accordingly. I'll get the paper out of the way tomorrow, and hopefully I'll be able to post the chapter next week.
By the way, happy NaNoWriMo. Good luck to any of you who are trying it.
Oh man oh man oh man, have i not read this in a while. Now I feel all guilty and stuff. Either way though your fan fic keeps getting better, and better. You've definitely improved from the beginning, and that isnt a compliment to be taken lightly, you were great from the beginning. I can't wait for your next chapter.
mew_ and Silverwindstudios
^^ Thank you. I hope I'll be able to meet your expectations with future chapters.
As for me, I feel guilty for not posting here when I know some of you are really looking forward to the next chapter, so I wanted to take the time to put up a little update. I know I haven't updated in a while, but I'm currently in the midst of final exam week, and I haven't been able to write that much. Rest assured that I am done with Chapter 20 already, and it's only a matter of editing some parts that were giving me trouble and ironing out the final draft to prepare it for posting. I won't put it off for any longer than next week, so I'll see you all then!
This chapter was another challenge, both in content and in formatting. After doing quite a bit of thinking, I’ve resolved to split it into two parts again. They're both somewhat long, and in theory I could have made them two different chapters, but since they share a common theme, it would be more appropriate to keep them under one heading. Plus, you’ll get to see the Gym battle now instead of having to wait. I know I don’t like waiting. :P
So, without further ado… Chapter 20.
“Wake up! WAKE UP!”
A bag of feathers hit Henry over the head with a whump. At first, the boy did not stir, still drifting in dismembered thoughts. Then the blow came a second time, shattering his concentration on sleep and forcing him into awareness. Groaning, Henry pushed himself up and rubbed open his eyes.
Michael was standing beside his bed, still in his nightclothes, clutching a pillow. At the sight of his friend, Henry felt a flicker of irrational panic. “Oh my gosh, the battle!” He bolted up. “Is it today? Did I oversleep?”
“No,” Michael said. “We still have three days. I just wanted to let you know that your Clefairy passed away last night.”
“WHAT?!” Henry sprang to his feet. Almost unconsciously he grabbed hold of Michael’s shoulders. “You’re lying, it’s not funny! What did you do?”
Michael shook his head, his expression blank. “I tried to save her, but I guess I was too late. She’s gone.”
“No!” Henry pushed Michael with all his might, causing him to collide with the wardrobe. Michael dropped the pillow in surprise, but he was smiling, and when Henry began to shake him all the harder, his grin broadened. With ease, Michael pushed Henry’s arms away and sprang back towards the TV, out of Henry’s reach. “I’m telling the truth,” he said. “Clefairy’s gone. I saw it with my own eyes.”
Henry stiffened, clenching his fists at his sides. He felt a sting of shock pass over his face, then warm welling tears. “You’re lying, Michael Rowan! You’re lying!” He bit his lip. As much as he did not want the tears to fall, the urge was already beginning to overpower him.
“I told you, I’m not. If you really want to know, it happened at around midnight, while you were still asleep. I decided to wait before telling you.”
Henry gritted his teeth. “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“She was a good Clefairy,” Michael continued gravely. “Brave and loyal…”
“NO! SHUT UP! I’M TELLING YOU, STOP IT!—” Henry screamed, but his throat closed up before he could say more. One more word, and he would lose it.
“But hey, don’t sweat it.” Michael gave Henry an amiable pat on the shoulder. “You know what they say—life’s short. I guess Clefairy’s time was up, that’s all.”
Henry scrunched up his face and let out a low croon. Tears began to spill down his cheeks in powerful gobs, and through the blur of water and wails, he failed to see that Michael had retreated into the bathroom and come out with something in his arms.
“But Clefable seems to be feeling fine, on the other hand.”
Henry’s wails increased, then suddenly Michael thrust something into his arms. It was big and pink and furry.
“Wha… what?” Henry blinked. He was holding a pokémon. Its body was large and angular, and it had big, long ears and arms. At the first glance, the creature held no familiarity for him. But, taking a closer look, Henry realized that the old dimpled cheeks were still there… as were the round, soft eyes that had so often stared into his.
As he blinked away his tears, the pokémon’s thin mouth slowly spread into a smile. It lifted its tiny hands, holding on to Henry's arms with a reassuring, almost welcoming grip.
“… Clefairy?” Henry lifted the pokémon to eye level. There could be no mistaking it. He turned back to Michael, floored with disbelief. “Michael! How…?”
Michael smiled again. “That rock you brought back wasn’t a pumice stone. It was a freaking catalyst. You should’ve seen it!” He spread his arms out wide in a demonstration of hugeness. “Clefairy grew like three times her size in less than ten seconds.”
Henry let out a laugh, more out of relief than amazement. He wiped away his tears with the back of his hand, now feeling slightly foolish for crying. He fluffed Clefable’s pointy ears and brushed his fingers through the comma of pink hair, amazed at the effects of the transformation. As he did, Henry felt a growing sense of puzzlement. “But I—I don’t get it...” He turned to Michael. “What did you see? What exactly happened?”
“It was about the middle of the night,” Michael said. “She fell down from her table, and I started trying to catch her, you know, so I could put her back. Then I got the stone, and I sort of accidentally threw it… and then she just started spazzing out like she was having a seizure. Then she grew. She evolved into Clefable.” He cracked a smile again. “It was wicked cool.”
Henry frowned. “But how is that possible? My grandma had a bunch of Clefairies and they never evolved. Plus, Clefairy and Clefable are two different species. How could one just change all of a sudden?”
“Two different species don’t look similar just for the heck of it,” Michael said. “I think I’ve figured it out.” He took the pumice stone from the nightstand and held it up. “This thing, I don’t know how, must have caused Clefairy to transform. It wasn’t a typical evolution because it wasn’t tied in with Clefairy’s normal growth. That’s probably why she started getting sick yesterday. You kept the stone, and being near it made something in her internal chemistry wig out.”
Henry took this in, and frowned. “Hey! That’s probably why that trainer kid threw it at me! He must have known it would get Clefairy sick and thought it would be funny to play a joke on someone!”
Michael laughed. “Who cares? That flake probably picked it up on the street because he thought it looked cool. Just think—think of what we could do with this!” He held up the stone and examined it in the light. “I bet we could evolve anything!”
Hearing his friend’s astounding words, Henry looked down at his pokémon. Clefable. She was one of his first, given to him by his Kanto-residing grandmother as an infant Cleffa. He had raised her all by himself, watching her grow in size and personality, until she matured into Clefairy. He knew little about Clefables, only that they resided in a secluded mountain in Kanto called Mt. Moon. He had noticed their similar appearances from pictures before, but he had never considered that there might have been a connection between them.
Henry looked back at the pumice stone, and suddenly, something clicked. He gasped. “Michael!”
“Bertha’s Roselia! You don’t think that that’s what happened to her, do you?”
Michael stared at him for a few seconds, eyes widening. “Only one way to find out. Let’s go.”
After leaving Clefable and the still-sleeping Stunky with some food, the boys rushed over to Bertha’s door and knocked. The Gym leader emerged, already in day clothes, looking rather surprised to see them. “Boys? What are you doing up so early?”
“We need to ask you a question,” Michael said. Bertha stepped aside, and they hurried over to the two-person table, occupying the same places as the previous night. Michael kept tapping his hand on his knee, and Henry too seemed to find it hard to mask his anxiousness. Bertha sat down on the bed across from them, already looking perplexed at their strange behavior.
“All right. So, what did you want to talk to me about?”
“Your Roselia,” Michael said.
Bertha’s eyebrows climbed. “Rose? What for?”
Michael tapped his fingers together. “You said that you just found her one day when she had transformed… right?”
“Uh-huh.” Bertha nodded, still somewhat guardedly.
“How exactly did it happen? Did you see any part of it, or did you just find her like that?”
“Hm. I’m not sure I remember much about it. All I know is that I had this really pretty ring…” Bertha pursed her lips, and a reproachful edge crept into her voice. “And for the life of me, I couldn’t find it. I thought I had left it on my nightstand, but it wasn’t there when I checked, or in my purse, or the bathroom, or anywhere. I remember I was looking for it that whole week, and then on one of those days Rose changed.”
“Did she get sick?” Henry asked.
“She did, but only a little. She was perfectly fine when I took her out of her pokéball to feed her that one morning, but then I saw that she had already changed.”
“What did the ring look like?” said Michael.
Bertha’s gaze trailed off for a moment, tracing the bumps in the ceiling. “It was made of silver. The band was cut to look like a thread of leaves, almost. The stone was nice too. It was a light green, almost white, and always looked like it had just been polished. It went with almost any outfit, and that’s why I liked it so much. But then I lost it.” Her gaze fell back to Michael, and she folded her hands in her lap.
Michael and Henry exchanged a glance, and Michael took the stone out from his pocket. “So the rock didn’t look anything like this?”
Bertha’s eyes widened in surprise. “Whoa. Where’d you get that?” She reached for it, and Michael placed it into her palm.
“We found it in Amity Square,” he said.
Bertha traced the stone’s pocked, chiseled surface with her fingers. In the bright sunlight, the rock’s edges gave off a purplish glow. “Well, I can say for sure that I’ve never seen anything like this before. It definitely doesn’t look like something that would be lying around in a park, though. It looks like it came from somewhere in the mountains.” She handed it back to Michael, and sat still for a moment, watching the boy’s unchanging expressions. “So, is there anything else? Have I helped?”
Michael shook his head. “Thanks anyway, Bertha. We have to go.”
They got up, and leaving Bertha somewhat confused, they left the room. In the hallway, Michael pocketed the stone again. “So this definitely wasn’t what made her Roselia evolve… but then what did?”
“Maybe it had something to do with the ring,” Henry offered.
“Could be. But we can’t know for sure until we test it, and that would be impossible now.”
They went back to their room and got ready for breakfast. After a nondescript meal, Michael pushed open a side door to take a shortcut, and found himself crossing through an outdoor patio. In a normal hotel, such an area would have contained a pool and snack bar, but here, the hotel had set up an outdoor battle area. It resembled less of a school backyard, as Oreburgh’s had, and more of an uppity resort club. Two concrete arenas were laid out side-by-side, bordered by palm trees and patio tables with umbrellas. Trainers of all ages congregated together, some battling, and others idly standing by.
Michael kept to the main path, mildly surveying the crowd, but midway he felt a tug on his sleeve. He turned around to Henry. “What?”
“It’s him! That’s the kid from Amity Square!” Henry pointed over to the edge of the nearby arena, where a boy was leaning against the trunk of a palm tree. From this distance, Michael couldn’t make much of him: The boy’s hands were stuffed into the pockets of his pants, and his hair puffed out in curls from beneath his cap.
Michael smiled. “You got your pokémon with you?”
“Yeah, I always have them with me,” Henry said, shifting his tote bag.
“Then let’s go have a little talk. Come on.” Michael pulled Henry after him and led him over to the tree.
The trainer kid didn’t notice their arrival. He kept staring off into the distance, though he looked more vacant than cool, like a strange fellow at a bus stop. He looked to be around Henry’s age.
Michael stopped a few feet away and cleared his throat. “Hey. How’s it going?”
The kid looked up. “Oh. Hey.” He lifted his cap, peering through the tufts of hair to get a better look at his visitors. When the kid saw Henry, a flash of recognition passed over his face, and he jumped back against the tree. The cap’s visor fell awkwardly over his eyes and he pushed it back up as he groped for balance. “You again!” he said. “What, here for a battle? Little baby got his feelings hurt?”
Michael stood still against the trainer’s attempted taunts. He felt Henry shift beside him, and saw the boy’s hand tighten around his pokéball pouch, but Michael stopped him with a light tap on the arm.
“My buddy here didn’t like what you said about his Clefairy,” he continued to the trainer, still keeping a conversational tone. “They’re really close, you see. He’s had that pokémon ever since he was little.”
The trainer’s lips curled into a sneer. “Oh, little baby’s still walking around with his mummy’s Clefairy?”
Henry took a step forward, but Michael held him back. This seemed to boost the trainer’s confidence ever so slightly, and he stepped away from the tree, into the full sun. “So what are you gonna do about it? You wanna start something?” He pounded his fists together.
“That’s what he was about to do,” Michael said, before Henry could interrupt, “but now that he’s taken a second look at you he’s realized that it’s not worth the bother.”
Henry pushed against Michael’s grip. “Get off me!” he grunted. “I can take this kid!”
But Michael did not let go. The trainer, hearing Henry’s protest, broadened his grin and beckoned. “Come on! Why don’t you stop hiding behind your friend there and face me like a real trainer? You scared? I wouldn’t be surprised... sissy little fink that you are.”
With a final lunge, Henry pulled away from Michael’s grasp. Michael gave way willingly and stepped back a few feet. Henry ran up to the trainer till they were only inches apart. “You and me. One on one.”
The trainer smirked. “I thought you’d never ask.”
From his place behind them, Michael crossed his arms. His work here was done.
Henry and the trainer stormed to the center of the battlefield, the other kids willingly clearing the way for them. Henry took his place at one end, the trainer kid at the other, and instantly all around them the crowd began to shift. Michael backed away into the sidelines, sitting down at a spare table, and felt a series of jolts as several others ran around to join him.
When he was able to see the battlefield whole again, he saw Henry and his opponent draw out their pokémon simultaneously. Henry sent out Clefable, and his opponent sent out what appeared to be a strange, engorged bug. The pokémon had a thin, wiry body, six tendril-like legs, and a bulbous head with two eyes that stared in opposite directions. Its wings thrummed as it zipped through the air, adjusting its altitude with minute precision. Michael silently cursed his luck. He had absolutely no idea what the pokémon was, but it sure as hell wasn’t anything that lived in Sinnoh.
He must be from another country… He looked at the trainer again. That was the only logical explanation. Taking Bertha’s words into account, the stone could either have come from the mountains or from a different region entirely. And the trainer kid didn’t look like much of a mountaineer (heck, a tiny hiking trail could have probably finished him), so the most likely explanation was the latter. This conclusion only heightened Michael’s interest.
He watched as Henry shouted his first command, Quick Attack. With a speed that was surprising for her size, Clefable sprang forward and dashed towards the flying bug, eyes narrowed into slits against the rush of air. The trainer kid smiled, directing his pointer finger towards the sky.
Still in the air, the flying bug rolled over onto its back, revealing a tiny network of veins in its wings and abdomen. It curled its tail into a ‘C’, and instantly, a shimmer of green coursed through the fine lines, like a neon light. Simultaneously the ground beneath it cracked.
Michael rose from his chair, and peered along with the swelling crowd as the cracks deepened into fissures, carving out three huge blocks of concrete from the floor. The blocks rose into the air, and one by one, hurled themselves at the speeding Clefable.
Henry clenched his fist. “Clefable, dodge!”
But the pokémon seemed to be doing fine on her own. Clefable skirted out of the way of the first boulder, and evaded the second one with a daring sideways leap. She kept running, dashing straight into the path of the third one. When it looked like the boulder would hit her smack in the face, Clefable jumped, the pads of her feet barely gracing its surface as she let the boulder roll past her. A loud cheer rose out from the crowd, and Henry beamed.
The trainer with the Yanma grit his teeth at the charging Clefable. “Use Wing Attack!”
A loud buzz issued from the Yanma’s wings as it descended. It hovered above the ground for a moment, then with a powerful exertion, swept its wings forward, stirring up a powerful gust. The wind blew around Clefable, but though she stumbled and staggered back, she did not lose her footing.
The gust died down, and Yanma drew back its wings to send the next one. During the pause, Clefable managed to claw her way forward, then ducked her head as the wind again assailed her. Yanma sent several more attacks in this fashion, which Clefable endured with a resolve that was completely unlike the plump, bumbling Clefairy she had been before. She kept going, till she finally crossed the distance between them, and lifted her lengthened claws to swipe at Yanma.
With a jeering buzz, the Yanma glided high out of reach before Clefable could touch it. Frustrated, Clefable began to jump, trying to grab hold of the Yanma’s slender, swooshing tail, which dangled beneath it every time the pokémon turned. When Clefable’s fingers would creep up on the forked edge, the Yanma would flap faster and ascend. Then, as Clefable ran around beneath it, the Yanma would dip temptingly low again, and let the same thing happen. All the while, Clefable remained helplessly trapped below, at a loss for what to do.
As he watched this useless stalemate, a sneer crept into the trainer kid’s face. “Swing it back!” he called to his pokémon. “Tail Whip!”
Flying a safe few yards away from Clefable, Yanma dropped lower than ever, lifting its tail. Seeing that her opponent was once again within reach, Clefable began to charge, arms outstretched. She advanced upon the Yanma, who was tapping the ground with the head of its tail like a baseball player, and Michael tensed in preparation for the collision.
Seconds later, a shrilling cry rang out through the arena. But it wasn’t Clefable’s.
Michael opened his eyes the rest of the way and leaned forward, trying to register what had happened. Instead of being hit like a playground ball, Clefable had somehow managed to grab hold of Yanma’s tail mid-swing, and was now hanging on tight while the Yanma thrashed about in the air, trying to shake her off. Henry and his opponent were both watching, mouths hanging open.
As Yanma twisted and flipped, Clefable kept a tight grip on the edge of its tail, her feet sliding off the ground as she tried in vain to keep her footing. With the Yanma pulling her to and fro, she he resembled a water skier. With a powerful tug, Clefable pulled Yanma out of the air and hit the bug against the ground. But a second later, Yanma picked itself up and swung back in a different direction, pulling Clefable along with it.
“Get it into the air! Use Fly!” shouted the trainer kid.
“Clefable, don’t let it!” Henry countered. “Wake-Up-Slap!”
Clefable pulled herself forward, clawing her way up the Yanma’s tail. The panicked bug began to flap its wings even faster, till they were reduced to twin silver blurs, and Michael heard what seemed like the roar of helicopter blades in their wake. The force of the wind instantly propelled both Yanma and Clefable into the air, and sent a powerful downdraft sweeping through the battlefield.
All around them, people raised their arms over their faces and backed away. A pokéball flag that stood nearby changed directions, and tiny pebbles that had been loosed by Ancientpower now scattered towards the neighboring buildings. Michael hung on to the edges of his table, trying to keep steady as the umbrella creaked and flapped.
Yanma and Clefable ascended higher and higher, till they were skimming above the treetops, their conjoined silhouette blotting out the sun. Henry had been knocked flat on his bottom, as had his opponent, and both boys were now squinting up at the sky, the wind rippling their hair and clothes. The cap had flown from the trainer kid’s head, letting the full mass of his hair splay around his face. The kid cupped his hands around his mouth and let out a bellow.
“Yanma! Use Slash!”
The pokémon didn’t seem to have heard him. Henry shouted up at Clefable, but his voice too was lost in the roar of raging wind. Either Clefable would let go, or Yanma would plummet from exhaustion.
Ducking against the forceful wind, Michael pushed himself away from the table and made his way to the edge of the battlefield as far as his legs would allow. He bent his head back and looked up at the pokémon, who had settled into an impasse, neither rising nor sinking. Clefable’s panicked eyes darted across various points on the ground, probably searching for the softest spot to land on. Yanma gave another jerk, and Clefable seemed to slip a little, but held fast. Her eyes slammed shut. Catching on, Henry scrambled to his feet, running around with his arms out in hopes of catching her.
“Clefable, go!” he called. “Let go! I’ll catch you!”
“No!” The trainer kid jumped up, his expression livid. “Yanma, use Slash! SLASH!” He made a swift swiping gesture with his arm. Yanma buzzed in return.
With a sharp flick, Yanma tossed Clefable off of its tail and into the air. For a split second, Clefable hung there, and the ends of Yanma’s tail glittered a hard, polished silver like a cutting blade. Henry let out a wordless exclamation as the tail swung out at Clefable, making to slice her body from the side. But at that moment, Clefable’s eyes flew open, and to Michael’s shock, he saw that they were a blazing pink.
Before he had time to think, Michael felt a tremendous weight press down upon him, as if someone had dropped an iron vest around his shoulders. His legs gave way beneath him, and with a hard thump, he fell flat against the concrete. Henry and his opponent dropped down likewise, as did the other trainers around them, like so many dominos scattered around a table. Michael was on his back now, his heart pounding in response to the sudden pressure, his skin crawling both hot and cold at the same time. He could barely move. The noises around him swelled into an indecipherable blur, and red spots ran across his vision.
After a few seconds of bewilderment, the pressure faded, and Michael felt a small sigh escape him. He lifted himself, looking around to see what had happened. Henry and his opponent were also recovering from the impact.
At the center of the arena were Clefable and Yanma, still lying flat where they had fallen. The Yanma’s body was draped over Clefable’s, its wings twitching infrequently. Clefable groped weakly for a handhold as she tried to pull free of the dead weight on top of her. Her eyes were half-closed, as if the attack had taken a considerable amount of energy.
In the midst of his scrambled thoughts, it took a while for Michael to realize that the courtyard had gone completely silent. Clefable’s attack had considerably damaged their side of the area: umbrellas hung broken over tables, signs and trash cans were dented, and the flagpole was slightly stooped. A kite that had been flying from one of the overlooking balconies was hanging limp from its string. The other half of the courtyard, in contrast, looked exactly as it had ten minutes ago.
Clefable finally managed to pull free, and scampered over to Henry. The trainer kid didn’t respond to his fallen Yanma, but rather watched as the pokémon weakly lolled about, as if bewildered that such a thing could ever happen.
All around them, the other trainers were whispering. Many of them scurried away, but as Henry pocketed the pokéball, he made to approach his opponent. Michael followed him. The trainer’s expression remained neutral as Henry arrived first, hands on hips.
“Well?” Henry said. “Don’t you have anything to say to me?”
The trainer met his gaze. “No.”
Michael stepped forward. “Where did you get the stone?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I’m serious, you little dweeb. Tell me!”
A smile curled the boy’s lips, but he remained silent. Michael bent down beside him and grabbed his arm, jerking him up till their faces were level. “I can knock out the rest of your pokémon if you want!”
Panic flashed in the boy’s eyes, and he lifted his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay! I went with my parents to a museum back in Kanto. They gave us free samples.”
“Free samples of what?”
“I don’t know. They said it was called a moonstone or something… Brought it all the way over from the mountains and they were just giving them out like free candy. I—I kept mine, but I didn’t want it anymore, so —”
“So you threw it at my Clefairy?” Henry said.
“I’m sorry!” the kid blurted. “Okay? I was just playing. And it’s not like your Clefairy got hurt or anything. I mean, nothing happened to him, right?”
Henry jolted forward, but Michael held him back. He looked down at the trainer with a neutral expression. “Just don’t mess with us, and we won’t mess with you. Got it?”
The trainer grumbled. Michael took it as a yes.
Henry returned Clefable to her pokéball, and immediately started towards the side gate. Michael followed, ignoring the passing gasps and remarks of the trainers in the crowd. None of them stopped to talk however; they merely parted way as Michael and Henry passed, then continued their hushed conversations.
Stepping through the gate, Michael let it swing closed behind him. They were now on a quiet, unpaved path that led back to the hotel rooms. It was only when they were finally safe of any possible scrutiny that Henry stopped and took a breath.
“Whew. I thought we’d never get out of there.” He adjusted the strap of his bag and wiped his forehead. Biting his lip, he took a quick glance in the direction of the patio. “We sure made a mess back there. Do you think I should’ve told a staff member or something?”
“I’m just saying. They might be surprised when they go outside and see three big holes in the ground.”
Michael rolled his eyes. “Okay, first of all, that wasn’t your fault. And second of all—man!” He grinned. “That was amazing! Your Clefable was totally boss! She beat that Yanma in three minutes flat! Do you know what that means?”
Henry’s cheeks flushed with pride, but he shook his head. “No. What?”
“It means that whatever that morphing was last night, it was a good thing. That rock you found—that moonstone, whatever it was—makes pokémon stronger! It’s the freaking key to all our problems! Think about it: if we could just expose it to all our other pokémon, we could beat Jerry and every other leader in Sinnoh.”
“But wouldn’t someone have figured that out already?” Henry said. “I mean, it’s not like we’re the only people in Sinnoh who have it.”
“Oh come on, didn’t you hear the kid? He brought it all the way from Kanto. And even then, he probably didn’t know what it could do, otherwise he wouldn’t have thrown it away like that. But now, we know what it does. And we’ve gotta put the knowledge to use.” Michael patted his pocket. “I’m gonna test it on my pokémon now. Maybe it’ll do something for them too.”
When they arrived back at their room, he released all his pokémon and gathered them in between the beds. It was somewhat of a mess, and the pokémon greeted him with varying displays of content and confusion, filling the room with garbled noise. Michael took the moonstone from his pocket and tossed it at the group.
“Here. Play with this.”
The stone landed in front of Turtwig, who backed away several steps. Then, ever so slowly, he pushed it with his snout. Caterpie immediately curled herself into a ball, hiding from view, while Machop lifted the stone and turned it over in his hands. Michael nodded. “Yep. Take your time.”
Henry sent out his pokémon as well, and they spend the next fifteen minutes feeding them all. The span of time passed, but still none of Michael’s pokémon showed any special interest in the moonstone. As a last resort, he picked up the stone and held it out to Stunky, wiggling it around the cage in what he hoped was a tempting way. The pokémon was resting on its belly, and seemed reluctant to leave its position, so it turned its head away. Michael lowered his arm. “I don’t get it. Why isn’t it working?”
Henry, who had seated himself at the desk, looked over. “It probably takes time,” he said. “Clefairy only got sick by the end of the day.”
Michael flipped the moonstone over in his hands for a bit, then set it down on the nightstand. “Okay, then we’ll wait. But don’t put it away. Just let them be exposed for a while.”
Henry nodded, and began to turn the pages of his planner. Clefable went over to him, and he lifted her into his lap, hugging her close. With his free hand, Henry traced his finger down to the current date. “The battle’s only three days from now. What are we going to do? Will we practice some more?”
“Definitely,” Michael said. “For one thing, we’ve gotta test Clefable.”
At this, Clefable turned to look at him, one of her long ears twitching. Henry turned as well, and for a minute, they looked almost comically similar—trainer and pokémon—both with confused, wide-eyed gazes. “Huh?”
“That’s right,” Michael said. “I bet you she has more new moves up her sleeve now that she’s evolved. We just have to find them.”
Henry twirled the pencil around, pressing the eraser to his chin. “Like what?”
“Like that move she used at the end to make Yanma fall,” Michael said. “Have you ever seen her use it before?”
Henry shook his head. “Nope.” He looked down at Clefable. “What about you? Have you ever used it before without telling me?” The pokémon giggled.
Michael sighed. “Come on, be serious. We’ve got a completely unique case on our hands here. We can’t goof off. We have to see what else she can do.” He stood. “Come on, we’re going back to the patio.”
Henry slouched in his seat. “But I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to battle any more today.”
“Well you’re gonna have to,” Michael said. “Your pokémon’s powerful now, and we have to examine her if we want to utilize her full potential. Don’t you realize how important this could be?”
“But I don’t want to examine Clefable,” Henry repeated. “And what’s the big deal anyway? Just because she evolved doesn’t mean she’s any different than before.”
“Of course she’s different. Did you not see her battle?” Michael held out his arms. “Give her to me. We’ll take her outside and see what moves she knows.”
“No. She needs to rest,” the boy affirmed.
“We need to examine her.”
“I want her to rest.”
“Well I need to do research!” Michael said.
“Well she needs rest!”
Getting to his feet, Michael threw up his hands in resignation. “Fine! Fine, go ahead. Do what you want. I’ll win my own battle.” He grabbed a discarded Pokémon League Weekly magazine from the shelves and plopped down in one of the bedside chairs. In response, Henry stiffly opened an issue of his own, and they sat with their backs turned, not speaking.
The day passed with few variations. Michael tried several times in vain to get Henry back to the patio, and make him realize that it only made sense to finish what was started and continue battling. But aside from venturing out for meals, Henry seemed to want nothing more to do than sit around in their room and talk to Clefable. His battle with the foreign trainer seemed to hold no special significance for him, which Michael found infuriating to no end. Henry simply refused to budge, and seemed to withdraw into his own thoughts, shutting out the world around him.
When he went to bed at the end of the day, it crossed Michael’s mind that perhaps Henry was even more perplexed and astonished than he was.
Whatever the cause, by next morning, whatever had troubled the boy’s mind seemed to have abated. Henry’s mood had lightened into a productive one, and after a quick breakfast, he and Michael hurried outside with their pokémon.
It turned out that Henry’s battle with the Kanto trainer had raised much interest in the patio’s community. When Michael returned that day, he and Henry were greeted by a welcoming troupe of trainers, most of whom he recognized as spectators from last time. The arena that Henry had battled on was closed off by orange cones, and several workers were filling in the holes that Yanma’s Ancientpower had made in the concrete.
The trainers quickly informed Michael of what had occurred after he and Henry had left the battlefield. Apparently, by some inevitable turn of fate, the hotel staff had been lured by the clamor of the battle, and were appalled at the damage it had caused. Henry and his opponent had broken the patio’s rules by using attacks that damaged the area, and both participants were threatened with fines. Fortunately, the management didn’t know who the battlers were, so for the time being, their investigation was at a standstill. But Michael figured it would only be a matter of time before someone finked on them, which only strengthened his resolve to win the Gym battle.
There was no way of finding out the exact identities of Jerry’s pokémon, as far as Michael could tell, so he had to make do with the information he had. He decided to leave out Turtwig and Burmy from his and Henry’s teams, who would both be vulnerable to Psychic attacks, which left him with Goldeen, Machop, and Caterpie; and Henry with Starly, Pachirisu, and Clefable.
With these teams, they battled the other trainers, some of which had Psychic pokémon of their own. By mutual agreement, they decided that the battles would all be casual, simply for the sake of good-natured practice. Nevertheless, Michael’s competitiveness didn’t abate. If he couldn’t beat a bunch of trainers in a morning get-together, then he would stand no chance against Jerry.
When they could, they occupied both sides of the available arena, but more often than not, Michael’s and Henry’s battles ended up literally side-by-side. Henry (to Michael’s slight annoyance) seemed to manage non-contact moves well, especially when Clefable’s turn came. The pokémon danced rings around her opponents, and once was even able to manage a weak attempt at a Psychic attack herself, which elicited from Henry a grin that lasted the whole day.
Michael, on the other hand, found himself struggling to keep up in his win-lose ratio. Goldeen was as floundering as ever on dry land, and though she was able to retaliate with a Supersonic and Horn Attack at times, she was for the most part useless. Machop had recovered from his thumb injury and was fully energetic again, though he was strangely susceptible to mind-attacks and would blubber around in confusion for many minutes afterward. The pokémon that did the best against Psychic opponents was, oddly, his Caterpie. Michael quickly isolated Bug Bite and Stringshot as her best moves, the ones that did a good job of putting Abras and Slowpokes in their place. Nevertheless, the truth remained crystal clear in his mind: Henry’s team packed a punch, and his didn’t.
After defeating his third opponent, having lost only twice before, Henry turned his smile over to Michael. “Hey, we should battle against each other now! Just to see each other’s strategies, you know?”
Politely denying the boy’s offer, Michael said that he was thirsty, and headed back to the main building.
His lingering hope was that the moonstone would perform another miracle and transform one of his pokémon into a super-fighting machine as well, but after the second day passed and none of them showed any signs of getting sick, Michael abandoned the experiment. But on the other hand, he was growing tired of constantly carting an armful of pokéballs to and from the Pokémon Center, which propelled him to search for a solution.
All other options exhausted, Michael stopped by a nearby library and checked out a few books on evolution, hoping to find something pertaining to moonstones. Henry gave Clefable a break as well, for she was beginning to grow frustrated at the increased attention she was getting from everybody, and so they spent the final day before the battles in Amity Square.
Michael was grateful to be immersed in his reading again, and relished the familiar feeling of blotting out the world with a blizzard of words, facts, and figures. He made a few notations in his notebook as he went along, though he forgot most of what he wrote, preferring to simply follow along and pick up bits of information. He didn’t think too much of his own battle, and so for the time being, his worry was kept at a minimum. For some odd reason, simply watching Henry train was enough, as if the umbrella of Clefable’s newfound abilities would stretch its protection to his team as well.
Last edited by Mrs. Lovett; 21st February 2012 at 3:21 AM.
The next morning, Bertha got up bright and early to drive them to the Gym. Michael hadn’t seen her in days, but she was in a more cheerful mood than usual, which she attributed to her first week of sleeping well every night. She wore her white sundress and a pair of heels. Once they had settled into the car, she pulled the Buick out of the parking lot and onto open road.
“So, tell me,” Bertha began. “Why did you decide to skip the hospital? Is Clefairy well enough that you decided to put it off? You boys never told me when you came to see me the other day.”
In the backseat, Henry cast Michael a brief glance. “Clefairy got better.”
Bertha’s eyebrows climbed. “Really? That fast?”
“Yep. She recovered.”
“Huh. Now that’s something.” From the rearview mirror, Michael saw Bertha’s eyes shift towards Henry. “I’d like to take a look at her when we get back.”
“Oh, uh don’t worry,” Henry said. “You’ll see real soon.”
Michael had to turn away to hide his smile. Bertha asked no more questions, and roughly ten minutes later, they pulled into a parking lot of a lone, two-story building. On the outside, it didn’t look too different from the other buildings in the city, but once they stepped in, Michael was entirely consumed by its atmosphere.
The interior of the Gym was dark and spacious. The walls were made of smooth gray stone that was cool to the touch, and the only source of lighting was a series of long, rectangular windows spaced evenly along the sides. The slits were rimmed with what appeared to be dark wood, but they were otherwise undecorated, and the light they let in was stark and unfiltered. The only furniture in the lobby was a pair of benches that stood against the walls, and two twin statues that greeted them at the entrance; otherwise, it was completely empty. It reminded Michael of a church.
Bertha took the lead, and they ventured farther in, entering a narrow hallway. Here, there were various doors, distinguished by numbers engraved in the wood. Wrought-iron chandeliers hung from the ceiling, carrying real candles, and there were even paintings framed on the walls, depicting muddled, abstract images.
“This is what you can do when your city has money,” Bertha whispered, with a smile. “I haven’t seen all the Gyms in Sinnoh, but I’ve heard that this is one of the nicest ones.”
Henry eyed the doors they passed. Most of them were silent, but behind others, the faint sounds of battles could be heard from within. “How do you know where to go, Bertha? Jerry never told us what room or anything.”
“These aren’t the battle rooms,” Bertha replied. “They’re rental rooms. Hearthome doesn’t have a lot of places for trainers to practice, and with such a big inflow of people each year, even the hotel can’t always keep up with the demand for space. So what you’ll often see in these big-city Gyms are rooms that can be rented out for battling. The plus with these is that you can battle with people that the actual leader hires, that use similar pokémon and moves. It’s as close as you can get to battling the leader, without the high-stakes.”
Michael felt a nudge on his shoulder. “We should have done that!” Henry said to him.
“Well, now we know,” Michael replied.
They reached the second floor, which was totally empty except for a door. A woman with dark hair sat at a table beside it, and looked up as they entered.
“Welcome to the Hearthome Gym. Names please?”
Henry stepped forward. “Henry McPherson.”
The woman looked down at her papers. “All right. I’ll go get Mr. Bradford.” She disappeared behind the door. A minute later, she returned.
“He’s ready for you. Come inside.”
She held the door open as they entered. The battle room was stark in its simplicity. The floor was a sheet of fine gravel, matching the purplish-gray hue of the walls. The slitted windows were back, casting streaks of white light across the room’s perimeter.
To Michael’s surprise, Jerry was already waiting for them. He stood on the far end of the battlefield, cloaked in half-shadow. His arms were crossed. “Welcome. I’m glad you all could make it. Michael, Bertha, you can have a seat at the bench. Henry, please step forward with your first pokémon.”
They followed his instructions. Henry took out his first pokéball, fumbled for the knob, and held it open. Starly tumbled out with a screech, flapping his wings to gain altitude. Before the battle, Michael had advised Henry to save Clefable for last, using her as a secret weapon in case all else failed.
Michael waited for Jerry to take out his first pokéball, but he never did—the Gym leader just stood there, as if waiting for a cue. At first, Michael was confused, but then he saw a tiny ripple of air above a patch of gravel, then a shimmer, as if a hole was slowly stretching between two dimensions. Out of nowhere, a tiny body emerged and landed on Jerry’s side of the arena.
The pokémon had a vaguely human resemblance: plump body, long, knobby limbs, and two tufts of blue hair protruding like horns from its head. Its shoes, also a matching blue, curled at the tips like a clown’s. The pokémon made no sound, shuffling from side to side like some sort of performer, making gestures in the air with its large, gloved hands.
“You may start, if you’d like,” said Jerry. “Mr. Mime’s not one to rush things.”
Though the offer was probably just a pleasantry, it nevertheless struck Michael as odd. He watched as Henry complied, keeping his voice steady. “Starly, use Wing Attack!”
Starly beat his wings faster, stirring the air around him into two twin cyclones that kicked up the gravel. Starly launched the attack at Mr. Mime, who was thrown back by the force of the wind. But instead of falling, it did a backwards cartwheel and jumped back to its feet, entirely unharmed.
“Mime, use Mimic!” said Jerry.
The Mr. Mime paused for a moment, pressing its fingers to its temples. Then it spread out its arms, and at that instant they became wings—so fast that Michael barely had time to catch the illusion. A glowing, translucent hologram threaded around Mr. Mime’s arms, accurate down to the tiniest detail, and generated the exact same gust of wind when the pokémon flapped them forward.
The Wing Attack engulfed the Starly, tossing him about like a leaf in a storm. The screeching bird barely had time to escape before Mr. Mime stirred up another gust, which sent Starly spiraling to the floor. The bird rolled over in the gravel, wings splayed, then lifted himself back into the air. His bearing was more reserved now; clearly, his confidence had taken a blow.
The Mr. Mime did not attack again; the fake wings faded away, leaving behind its two reedy arms. Smiling, the pokémon took a bow, its demonstration complete.
Henry looked up at Jerry, his face marked with shock. “Whoa. What was that?”
Jerry chuckled. “That’s what Mr. Mime does.”
Henry bit his lip. Despite Jerry's warning, he tried two more moves: Quick Attack and Peck, both of which Mr. Mime copied effortlessly with self-generated speed, and a holographic beak that sprouted from its nose.
After several rounds of this give-and-take, during which Henry became visibly confused and frustrated, Mr. Mime began to take the offensive. The pokémon used Confusion, which clouded Starly’s mind with an inward battle, jarring and garbling his motions. While Starly warred with himself, the Mr. Mime pressed the pads of its long fingers together to form a large ‘O’ in the air, puckered its lips as if to blow through it, and shot a funnel of pink energy at the Starly, knocking him back like a volleyball.
The blow was sufficient to snap Starly out of his confusion, but when the bird recovered, he simply flew around, dodging the pink Psybeam attacks, screeching something rude in his special Starly-language. For a while Henry did nothing but watch, though it was clear that the boy was thinking, his brow furrowed in concentration as he scrambled to find an answer.
Finally, Henry shouted his command. “Starly, use Brave Bird!”
Starly did not react at once; at the moment he seemed only to want to evade the deranged, smiling creature that kept shooting death rays at him. Jerry didn’t seem to mind.
“Mime, use Psychic.”
The Mr. Mime bent over slightly, closing its eyes in preparation for the attack. Starly stopped his cartwheeling through the air, and as he aimed itself at his opponent, Michael swore he could see a gleam of satisfaction in the bird’s eyes, as if thinking: gotcha!
Folding his wings and letting out a shrilling war cry, Starly shot himself forward like a bullet from a gun, and collided with Mr. Mime. The Psychic pokémon fell back, its eyes flying open and its mouth gaping wide in shock. Its arms curled around the thrashing Starly, trapping its opponent in a hug as they both tumbled to the floor.
Henry tightened his fist. “Now, Starly! Use Peck!”
Before Mr. Mime could do anything else, Starly began to peck, jabbing at the pokémon’s chest, arms, and neck. The clown tried to wriggle its face free, but that failed too as Starly worked his way upward to its head. The talons on Starly’s legs gripped a tuft of Mr. Mime’s cotton-candy hair and tugged, as if to pull off a wig. Mr. Mime opened his mouth in what would have been a scream of protest, while its large hands groped at empty air.
Jerry stepped out of his nonchalant stance and drew forward. “Mr. Mime, use Substitute!”
At first, with Starly’s body blocking his view, Michael didn’t see what happened. He saw one of the white hands lift and snap its fingers, but for a while, nothing else happened.
Then, after a few seconds, Starly’s battering stopped. Tilting his head in confusion, Starly flew back in a tiny arc, landing a few feet away from Mr. Mime’s motionless body. Only now, it wasn’t a body.
Instead, in Mr. Mime’s place lay a shiny, smiling replica made of rubber. The fake-Mr. Mime lay still on its back, limbs relaxed, its eyes reflecting the lifeless glare of light.
Confused, Henry approached for a closer look. Starly did the same. Again he tried to jab the doll’s arm with his beak, but the skin absorbed the blows, swallowing the dents as soon as they appeared. Starly pecked again, this time adding his talons to the assault, but the doll rolled over like a sack of flour, unharmed.
From his place at the other side of the room, Jerry smiled. “You like that move? I can tell that you do. Substitute’s not very common, even with Psychic pokémon, but Mr. Mime’s been pretty adept at learning it. When he’s created his substitute, nothing can hurt him. Not even Earthquake.” Jerry stepped closer to the motionless Mr. Mime. “And now you’ll see the real reason why I have this fellow in my team. Mime, come out.”
Jerry’s command faded into silence. The Mr. Mime doll remained where it was. Henry and Starly simultaneously looked at Jerry in expectation, and the Gym leader rubbed his chin. “Hang on.”
He stepped around to his pokémon, and Henry and Starly backed away to make room. Jerry kneeled down as close as he could without touching the doll, and looked it over. “Hello? Mr. Mime… come out. Did you hear me? What are you waiting for?” He waved his hand over the vacant eyes.
“Maybe he’s experiencing technical difficulties,” Henry said. From the side, Michael snickered.
“No, no… there’s gotta be something…” Jerry pressed his forefinger to his chin. “Mr. Mime, come out!” he tried again, but with no results. Jerry began to pace, muttering. “Agh… drat. Mime must’ve gotten the technique wrong again. It’s only his fourth day using this move; I can’t blame him. But it’s a shame on my part.”
Michael leaned forward. “Wait, what happened?”
Jerry turned to him, smiling dryly. “Mr. Mime’s stuck. When a pokémon uses Substitute, they put their real body into a sort of… limbo inside the fake one. It’s hard to explain. Mime and I studied the technique for days, but just when I thought we had it right, I guess I was proven wrong…”
Henry bit his lip. “But is he still… you know…”
“Alive? Oh, of course,” Jerry said. “It’s just that he’s probably really confused right now. He’ll switch back to his regular body when the effect wears off, but that takes time.” With a sigh, he took out Mr. Mime’s pokéball and returned him.
Henry rocked on the balls of his feet. “So… would this count as me beating him?”
Jerry nodded. “Unfortunately. But don’t think this changes anything—we’re far from done!” He swapped Mr. Mime’s pokéball with another. “Go, Gallade!”
A large pokémon emerged from the capsule, landing on two sturdy legs. The pokémon’s body was tall and lean, like that of a warrior, and covered in pearl-white skin. Its arms, in contrast, were a bright green, and instead of hands and fingers, one of them extended into a thin, sharp blade. One of the Gallade’s eyes was covered by a green, rib-like comma, and the other that stared out at Henry was a bright, piercing red.
“Gallade, use Slash!”
The Gallade lunged forward, slashing at Starly with its sword hand. Starly flew out of the way, climbing high into the air.
From the onset, Michael could tell that Gallade was more of a Fighting pokémon than a Psychic one. It relied on its speed and accuracy to pin Starly down, and flinched back more than usual when the bird retaliated with a Peck or a Wing Attack. Michael guessed it to be Jerry’s way of adaptation, since he couldn’t expect all of his opponents to have pokémon that were weak to Psychic.
As the two pokémon became used to battle, and Starly began to show signs of tiring, Gallade switched to its second mode. It tucked its arms against its chest and popped out of thin air just like Mr. Mime had, reappearing seconds later in an entirely new place. Starly would turn to catch up, and Gallade would teleport again, dodging Pecks and Wing Attacks until it drove the bird to the end of his string. After a final, feeble attempt at stirring wind, Starly quite literally fell down from exhaustion, and Henry pressed his hand over his mouth, momentarily appalled that he had driven his pokémon to such a point. He switched out Starly and sent out Pachirisu.
The electric squirrel emerged, scampered for a bit after its own tail, and then turned to look up at Gallade, who had appeared in front of it like a grand statue.
“Pachirisu, use Spark!”
Tiny white sparks began to crackle around Pachirisu’s cheeks, and the squirrel clamped its paws over one of Gallade’s legs to transfer the charge. Gallade’s body seized up, his eye bulging, and he began to swipe at Pachirisu with his sword, trying to get him off.
Through it all, Michael sat slightly slouched in his seat, tapping his knee as he watched the Gallade battle. More than anything, he was desperate for some notepaper and a pencil, and he mentally scolded himself for not having the foresight to bring anything. What kept him in check, however, was the fact that Bertha was sitting right beside him, calm but attentive. Even if he were witnessing the greatest battle in the world, there was no way he would ever work on his chart when she was around. So he observed in silent agony as Gallade and Pachirisu annihilated each other.
Several rounds of Spark and Swift had brought Gallade to his knees, and in turn, Pachirisu was beginning to phase out of adrenaline and enter into crash mode. Gallade reverted back to his teleporting trick again, which only quickened the process. Pachirisu ended up giving out, plopping still upon the floor, its tiny sides heaving with exhaustion.
With a deep breath, Henry switched out his second pokémon and silently brought out his third. Clefable emerged on her feet, spinning slightly, her wings fluttering as she gained her balance on the new terrain. Instantly, Jerry’s eyes widened. “You have a Clefable? Wow. I haven’t seen too many of those in Sinnoh. They’re Kanto pokémon, if I remember correctly.”
Bertha also seemed surprised. She had drawn back in her seat, and pressed her palm to her chest. “Henry, when did this happen?”
“The night that she got sick,” Henry mumbled.
Bertha settled back into silence, though it was clear she wasn’t satisfied. Her eyes hung on to the Clefable from then on, following its every move.
Henry’s Clefable fell into battle with Gallade as swiftly as she had before, dodging the pokémon’s swipes and retaliating with her own. Gallade extended his normal arm out to the side, and that one too became a sword, which he used to parry Clefable’s claws. The two figures became blurs, and a cloud of dust was kicked up around them as they danced.
As it became clear who was winning, Gallade immediately fell into the defensive, teleporting frantically across the battlefield in an attempt to confuse his opponent. But Clefable had evidently learned from her encounter with Yanma—she no longer chased the moving target, and instead leaped at Gallade only when he drew near. On Jerry’s command, Gallade used Confusion, which Clefable overcame just in time to deflect a Psycho Cut.
As Michael watched this astounding exchange between the battlers, he couldn’t help but be amazed. Clefable wasn’t just good. She was kicking ass.
Henry, who seemed both elated and frightened at his pokémon’s abilities, ordered Clefable to use Wake-Up-Slap, which swept Gallade right across the cheek. The red eye puckered, and the pokémon stumbled.
“Finish it off!” Henry cried, jumping. “Tackle it!”
With a bellow, Clefable pounced on top of Gallade and pinned it to the floor. She dealt a few more blows, and then Gallade slumped against the ground, its eye drifting closed.
Jerry maintained an impressively calm demeanor at Gallade’s demise. He swapped the old pokéball for a new one, bringing out his third battler. It was a Chingling, a pokémon that looked like a Christmas bell. It had a round, golden body with tiny arms and legs, and two red, ribbon-like tassels flowing from its head. The pokémon drifted in the air without the aid of wings, or any other sort of propellant, and made soft chiming noises as it rocked from side to side.
Without a command from Jerry, Chingling opened with a Psybeam that issued from its thin mouth. Clefable dodged the pink funnel, and with a high leap, managed to hit the Chingling with her hand and bring it down several inches. After that, she abstained from physical contact, instead focusing on keeping a strong resistance against the Chingling’s repeated attacks of Confusion. She ran around, one eye open and the other squinting almost shut, as if trying to stir up a hidden power to retaliate. Michael watched, awestruck, as the glimmer of pink returned to her eyes.
Right then, he felt a weight press down upon him, though it wasn’t as strong as what he had felt in the courtyard. Bertha shifted uncomfortably, as did Jerry, and Henry, feeling the effects of increased gravity. The Chingling began to sink, its mystical levitation suppressed, until it was within Clefable’s reach. Then, the pokémon began to claw and jab at it with all her might, until the Chingling flopped down like a broken bell, fainted.
Henry stood still for a few seconds, then looked up at Jerry. The Gym leader remained silent, and then, slowly, he lifted his hands and clapped three times. “Well done. Well done. You’ve truly made this a great battle, Henry.”
Henry smiled. He and Jerry met at the center of the arena and shook hands, after which Jerry placed the badge—a shiny purple coin—into Henry’s hand, along with some money.
When the leader had finished, Henry approached Michael with a dazed, windblown expression on his face. “I can’t believe it, Michael! I did it! I won!” He held up the Relic badge. A large circle in the center connected three smaller purple ones, its silver threads intertwining the three in a sort of ghostly web. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”
Michael nodded. For the next minute, Henry embarked upon a rapid, stumbling recollection of his battle, but his words were partially lost to Michael, who was already lost in thought, searching for something that had briefly popped into his mind, then slipped away again.
“… and after he took out Pachirisu I definitely thought I’d lose, but when I sent out Clefable and she totally, I mean I couldn’t even believe it!” Henry was saying. “I mean, it’s like after she changed she’s gotten so much better! It’s the weirdest thing!”
Suddenly, Michael’s eyes lit up. “Rogers-Bubbley!”
Henry, who had been admiring his badge again, tore his gaze away. “Huh?”
Michael snapped his fingers, beaming as the information returned to him. “It was this real boss experiment they did in Kanto back in 1949. I read about it yesterday. It was performed by two scientists, Rogers and Bubbley, who took a plain old Pikachu and put it in a metal box. Then they shot at it with all this radiation that was at a specific frequency, and when they took it out—no joke—it changed!”
Michael spread out his hands. “It grew! It became like three times bigger, and then its color changed, and so did its tail and ears and everything, and when they compared it, it matched the structure of a Raichu! The Pikachu became a Raichu! Don’t you get it? That moonstone you found must be one of those rocks that lets out radiation! Of course it wouldn’t work for my pokémon, because that frequency doesn’t affect them!”
“So… the moonstone is like the stone that evolved Pikachu?” Henry said.
Michael nodded. “Exactly.”
At that moment, Jerry, who had been exchanging a few parting words with Bertha, waved goodbye to the boys and disappeared behind the back door to get ready for his next shift. Bertha went over to Michael and Henry, spreading out her arms.
“Well, congrats!” she said. “That was a really great battle, Henry. You’ve improved.”
Henry blushed. “But Clefable did all the work.”
Bertha let out a chuckle. “No, you did. You guided your team with control and discipline, both traits of a good leader. Jerry saw it with his own eyes, and so did I. Stop hiding from yourself. You’re made of the right stuff, and you've got the right skills, so don't be afraid to go on and use them. Okay?”
Henry nodded. “Okay.”
“Great.” Bertha smiled. “Anyways, we should probably be heading out now. I want to get you guys back to the hotel so Michael has plenty of time to practice.”
She led them downstairs and to the exit. As they left the Gym, Henry had his badge in his hand, and was admiring its sleek contour, grinning. Michael was smiling too, but for an entirely different reason.
When they arrived back at the hotel and parted to their respective rooms, Michael immediately grabbed his backpack and notebook, along with a few of the library books he had been reading. He passed Henry by the door, who had barely taken three steps inside, and pulled the boy after him.
“Come on,” Michael said. “We’re going to Amity Square.”
Henry frowned. “Amity Square? But if you want to battle, we can just go to the patio again.”
“No. It has to be somewhere private,” Michael said. “I don’t want anybody listening in on us, and with Bertha here, there’s always a chance she might. So come on.”
With a sigh, Henry went to follow him. When they arrived at the park, Michael immediately sought out the loneliest, shadiest picnic table in the park and laid out his things on the surface. He opened his books, thumbing through various pages until he found his own bookmarks.
Across from him, Henry took a seat, resting his chin on his arms as he watched. “So, what’s this about? What did you find out about this whole item thing?”
Michael found the paragraph he had been looking for: Evolution Experiments in the 1900s, and scanned the text with his finger. “Got it. Right here. ‘The Rogers-Bubbley experiment was conducted after a correlation was discovered between a growing population of Raichus in the northeastern lowlands of Kanto, and the abundance of a strain of rock found only in that area.’ And after the scientists did the experiment, they tested the stone on a bunch of other Pikachus to make sure it wasn’t just a freak accident, and all of them evolved. They called it the Thunderstone. Then, when science became more advanced, it was confirmed that there was actually a biological connection between Pikachu and Raichu, though no one noticed it on a deeper level than appearances before.” When he finished reading, Michael looked up. “So you see? That moonstone you found must be like the Thunderstone. And what’s even better—there could be more of those catalyst things out there! I bet with just a bit more research, we could figure out where to find them and evolve all our pokémon! We’ll be invincible, I’m telling you!”
His enthusiasm, however, seemed entirely lost on Henry. The boy processed his words long and slow, biting his lip this way and that before responding. “But… even if we do find out where these stones are, how will we ever get them? It’s not like we can travel the whole world. And don’t you think it’s a little risky to count on evolution to make our pokémon more powerful instead of training them the old-fashioned way? Wouldn’t that be… you know…” he dropped his voice, “cheating?”
Michael rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I’m not asking you to help. I’m just saying that there might be an easier way to get things done. If you want to be a good little boy and do everything by the book, that’s fine with me. I’ll just go ahead and plan innovation and make history all by myself.” He slammed the book shut, tucked it under his arm, and walked away from the bench.
He veered onto the path and walked for several minutes, his excitement for the discovery quickly eating away his frustration at Henry’s lack of interest. The thought that there were items, actual items, that could turn a regular pokémon into a supercharged fighter amazed him. Not only would he have type advantages on his side when he challenged the Gyms, but power too, and with a bunch of evolutionary stones to assist him with his training, he would be unstoppable.
This vision utterly captured him, consuming the entirety of his mind so that he thought of nothing else. Lost in this daze, Michael hardly cared where he was going; he was following the path now, walking along what would eventually be a long, winding loop around the whole park. To his right, he saw the tall, wrought-iron gates that bordered the entrance.
As he walked, his thoughts moved in rapid sequence, literally colliding against each other like dominos.
So what if Henry doesn’t understand? He already won. Besides, he probably doesn’t dig anything that sounds like it’s breaking the rules... Why does he have to be such a damn kissee? Michael kicked a rock with his shoe and watched it skitter into the grass.
And on the heels of that:
It’s not even about the League—hell, it’s about life. It’s nature. Pokémon evolve and that’s that; I really don’t get why there has to be a rule about what we can and can’t use to help ourselves in battle. And besides, I can’t be the only person in the world who knows about it. There’s got to be someone who can tell me more—anyone who knows about this.
And on the heels of that:
What if there isn’t?
Michael stopped in his tracks. His heart quickened.
I have to tell someone.
A low hissing sound snapped him back to reality. Michael jerked back, looking down, and saw that a Seviper was curled up in the grass, its body as black as polished wire. Its diamond-shaped head was resting on its side, and it looked up at him with venom-red eyes, unmoving.
Michael stepped around the snake and continued on his walk, though he thought back to it for a few minutes afterward. He had never seen Hoenn pokémon here before, except…
He let the thought drift away unfinished. Already, his eyes were scanning the park, searching for the familiar baseball cap among the sea of heads that swarmed around him. At first, Michael saw nothing, but then his eyes alighted upon the park’s front gate. The doors were taller than the rest of the fence, and wrought in an elegant, curved design. They were open, and the familiar attendant’s booth stood right in the middle, dividing the road in two.
There was a small amount of people passing in and out of the park with their pokémon. From the distance, Michael picked out the man in the red cap among them, though he stood with his back turned. He appeared to be having a conversation with the park attendants, who was distinguished by his striped uniform.
Rather than approaching, Michael stood by and waited for the man to leave. Their talk was interrupted by a few bursts of laughter, and then the man in the cap waved, turning back towards the path. It was Bobby.
The newsman didn’t recognize Michael till he had almost reached the place where he stood. Then, their eyes met, and a smile turned Bobby’s face. “Oh, hey. It’s you again. Mitchell—no, Michael. Right?”
Michael nodded. “Yep. How goes it?”
Bobby shrugged. “Same old stuff.” He looked down at the book Michael held, and chuckled. “Still researching for that battle of yours?”
“Yeah. My friend just won his battle, and mine’s tonight.”
“Nice. I haven’t been here too long, but I’ve seen a lot of trainers around town. They say the Gym’s pretty rough.”
“Well, I’m feeling lucky,” Michael said. “I’ve discovered something that probably no other trainer knows.”
A visible sign of interest crossed the newsman’s face. He rubbed his chin. “What do you mean by that?”
Michael smiled. “Are you still looking for a story?”
“Well yeah, we’re always looking for a story,” Bobby replied. “Why?”
“I’ve got one for you,” Michael said, tapping the spine of his book. “It’s something that will change your life. No, the world.”
Bobby’s eyes widened by the tiniest degree, and he took his hands out of his pockets. “I’m listening.”
Without much planning of words, Michael began to recount his tale. Starting from the moonstone and Clefairy, he narrated the whole of what he had read and observed, pulling what seemed like an endless sequence of things from his memory. Bobby’s expression remained neutral and businesslike as he listened to the outpour of words. At first, Michael was unsure at what he would say; when he finished his tale, the newsman stood still, saying nothing for a moment. And then, with a slight smile, Bobby held both palms up in front of him, like a film director pausing a scene at the end of a perfect take.
“Okay. So if you can take all that and type it up, and get it to me by tomorrow, I promise you it’ll be on the next issue of Sinnoh Post. Got that, kid?”
His breath caught in his throat, and for a moment, Michael could barely speak. “Done deal.”
Last edited by Mrs. Lovett; 1st March 2012 at 11:18 PM.