Chronicles of Unova
Chapter 2: First Steps, Long Strides
“Paula, use Psychic!”
The forest was calm, and all was quiet. Not a single Pokémon was out; they were all tucked away, hiding in their homes. The sun shone into the clearing, illuminating the impromptu battlefield. The only sounds were the gentle rustle of the wind through the leaves, the sound of a distant creek, and the behemoth opposite David plodding the ground menacingly. The wild Bouffalant was staring him down, seething with rage and defiance; it had suffered Will-o-Wisp burns, been thrown about the clearing repeatedly, and hadn’t landed a single blow. It was breathing heavily and knew it was down for the count; unwilling to give up without at least landing some kind of hit though, it took in a large breath of air, snorted menacingly, and kicked up the dirt under its hooves, ready to risk it all on one final attack.
Opposite it stood the dainty figure of a Gardevoir, the very pinnacle of health, grace and elegance; her arms were at her sides, and her long gown flowed gently in the wind. The Gardevoir had been toying with her opponent during the entire battle, and wasn’t ready to give up on her fun just yet. She smiled and winked at the mighty bull, putting a graceful hand to her cheek and the other below her elbow. The Bouffalant fell for the Taunt; it reared off the ground and roared, then tucked in its head and prepared to charge. It took off like a bolt of lightning towards the slim silhouette of the Gardevoir, putting the pain from its burns out of its mind and throwing everything it had into this one final Head Charge attack. The Gardevoir stood perfectly still and focused her mind. The charging bull came closer and closer with a bloodlust in its eyes. It tucked in its head, came up to full speed, and launched itself at the enemy.
Paula didn’t flinch.
At the last moment, she gracefully sidestepped and spun around it, floating gently into the air for a moment before slowly gliding back down. The Bouffalant kept going and crashed into a tree across the clearing. It roared with pain as its whole body shook. It turned back around to face the Gardevoir, wobbly and disoriented from the crash, and saw her behind him gently drifting back down to the ground. As she landed, she brought her hands up to her horn and gracefully straightened out her gown. Satisfied it was unruffled, she brought her sharp gaze upon her opponent and sneered mockingly.
“Let’s finish this, Paula.” David said. “Use Psychic!”
She closed her eyes and lowered her head; a moment later, the ground began to shake. The Bouffalant looked around in terror and confusion for the source of the quake; still disoriented from the crash, it got wide-eyed in panic as it slowly felt its feet leave the ground. It flailed and screamed, trying desperately to reconnect with the planet. The Gardevoir brought her hands together to form a triangle in front of her horn, and then began to finish her attack.
“Gaaaaaar… deeeeee…” she said, her voice rising with time.
The Bouffalant was doing everything it could to escape the impending pain. It would be to no avail however. The Gardevoir opened her eyes quickly and shouted.
The whole forest shook. The Bouffalant flew across the clearing, striking another tree and falling to the ground in a slump. The Gardevoir composed herself, lowered her arms, and gracefully walked back to her trainer. Suppressed as it may have been, there was a kind of girlish spring in her step at her success.
“Excellent work, Paula; just what I’ve come to expect from you.” David said in a very business-like tone; a sheepish grin was creeping along the edges of his mouth however out of pride.
“Thank you, master. That was more fun for me than I would imagine it looked like however.” she replied with a giggle. David nodded and recalled her to her Pokéball.
David resealed the ball and reattached it to the holster which hung from his belt loop. He reached to adjust the brim of his cap and heard a small noise from behind him as he did so.
“Is it… is it gone?” Bianca asked timidly. David smiled coolly and answered without turning.
“Absolutely. That poor sod won’t be terrorizing this forest again.” he said.
“Oh, David… you’re my hero.” Bianca said femininely, emerging from her cover and putting the back of her hand to her forehead. In any other circumstance, such a cliché remark would have made David laugh, but there was a kind of twisted logic to this place; that logic was beginning to subtly fray around the edges however if one watched closely enough…
“Twas nothing, milady.” he said with a smirk, turning now to face her. She looked down and smiled, then ran into his arms and embraced him. She looked up at her protector, trembling in anticipation, and moved in to give him one… big… long… ki–
The ground shook again; this time it wasn’t Paula’s doing however. The forest around them began to dissolve. The trees rippled then winked out of existence. The sky turned grey and fragmented, then fell from the Heavens to the ground in shards. Bianca turned to dust and blew away in the wind from David’s arms; then, slowly, David himself faded away from this world, and in an instant, everything vanished.
The sun shone in through the window. It hit David squarely in the eyes, gently waking him and returning him to the land of the living. Slowly, reality began ebbing back into existence and David remembered where he was. As the room began to materialize, thoughts of his would-be kiss faded from his memory, and the dream became a haze. There was a look of confusion and shock plastered on his face as he tried to reconcile the bizarre implications of the dream.
“What the Hell was that?” he murmured silently under his breath. His thoughts were shortly interrupted though, and his expression quickly vanished.
From across the room, he heard a soft, muffled laugh, and looked up to see Professor Juniper leaning against the doorway, covering her mouth and giggling. Had she heard what he had just said? Then it dawned on him however: Bianca was still curled up beside him.
As this realization dawned on him, his look of confusion and shock turned to one of terror and worry. He looked at Professor Juniper, then to Bianca, then back to Professor Juniper and shook his head “no” very quickly several times. Professor Juniper again stifled a laugh at his panic and waved her hand dismissively. She held up her outstretched hand and mouthed “five minutes” before walking out of the doorway. David watched as she left, then exhaled a sigh and put his head back down. He looked over at the sleeping angel beside him and sighed again, longing to know what to think of her. He eventually slipped out of his sleeping bag and proceeded to get up.
* * *
Five minutes later, Professor Juniper came back into the room to wake Cheren and Bianca.
“Breakfast, you three.” she said in a somewhat business-like tone. Bianca’s eyes opened slowly and she sat up and stretched. She yawned before finally speaking.
“Morning already?” she asked.
“Yes, dear, it’s going on 9 o’clock. There’s breakfast in the kitchen when you’re ready.” Professor Juniper replied. She walked out of the room as the newly sanctioned trainers rose.
“Cheren, wake up.” David said curtly, realizing Cheren had not heard Professor Juniper, but his friend didn’t stir.
“Hey, Cheren, come on, get up.” he said again, but his friend simply let out a stifled snore and rolled over on his back.
Bianca began to say something to try and wake him herself, but David was already on it. He walked over to his dozing friend and pinched his nose between his fingers. Cheren tried to breathe in, struggled, and then jolted awake.
“What’s going on?! Who’s there?!” he gasped. His shocked gaze faded when he realized what David had done though; Bianca giggled softly and David replied.
“Wakey-wakey, Princess.” he cooed sarcastically. Cheren slumped over and moaned as his heartbeat returned to normal. As David began to stand back up, Cheren lashed out at his friend’s knee cap, inciting a muffled grunt from David and more laughter from Bianca as he fell over in pain. After a few more shenanigans like such, the three young trainers rose and left the room after Professor Juniper.
* * *
As the four of them sat around Professor Juniper’s breakfast table, the professor began to speak.
“The closest city from here is Accumula Town. Follow Route 1 straight north and you’ll reach it in a couple of hours.” she began. “I assume you all are planning on partaking in the Pokémon League Gym Challenge, correct?” she asked. They all answered that they were and she continued. “Then your first major destination should be Striaton City. The first Gym you can challenge is there.”
“Can you tell us anything about the Gym, Professor?” David asked. The professor took a sip of her tea and nodded her head.
“Striaton City’s Gym is operated by three brothers, Cilan, Cress and Chili.” she explained. “Cilan specializes in Grass-type Pokémon, Cress in Water-types, and Chili in Fire-types.” she continued.
“How do they decide who will battle?” David continued to ask. It was Cheren who spoke up this time however.
“It’s determined by your starter, dude.” his friend explained. “If you chose an Oshawott, you would battle Cilan, whose Grass-types would have a type advantage over you. Choosing a Tepig would mean you battled Cress, whose Water-types would have the advantage. Finally, Chili battles those who began with a Snivy, his Fire-types having the type advantage there as well.” he continued. Professor Juniper smiled and took another sip of her tea.
“Impressive, Cheren; that’s exactly correct.” she praised. “Since you three didn’t start with the typical Fire-Water-Grass Unova region starters, I have called ahead and arranged the battles for you.” she said. “Bianca, you and Pachirisu will be battling Cilan; he won’t have a type advantage over you, but Pachirisu’s Electric-type attacks will be ineffective against his Grass-types. Cheren, you and Eevee will be battling Cress and his Water-types. Finally, David, you will be battling Chili and his Fire-type Pokémon.” she explained.
“A Fire-type opponent, huh?” David thought to himself. “Interesting…”
“Once you reach Accumula Town, head west to Route 2 and follow the path north to Striaton City.” Professor Juniper continued to explain. “I have an associate there who can show you around town if you like; her name is Fennel, and she is a Pokémon researcher too.” the professor continued, sipping at her tea.
“We’ll leave right away, Professor. Thank you for your hospitality.” Cheren said. Bianca and David mimicked the sentiment and excused themselves from the table.
“Good luck, kids. Remember to come back and show me your Pokédexes any time.” the professor shouted after them. They bade her farewell, gathered their things, and left to begin their Pokémon adventure.
* * *
The lab was on the northwestern side of Nuvema Town; it was just a short walk to the start of Route 1. As they neared it, Bianca stopped them and made a suggestion.
“Hey! You know what we should do to make this even more special?” she asked. “We should all take our first steps onto the route together! We can start our journeys all at the same time!” she continued. Cheren looked at her with an utterly perplexed look on his face, the thought seeming infantile and senseless to him.
“Oh come on, Cheren, don’t be like that!” she whined, seeing his confused look. Cheren shook his head and looked away.
“Does it matter who sets foot on the route first?” he asked disinterestedly. Bianca frowned though and grabbed a hold of his wrist.
“Come on, it’ll be fun!” she exclaimed. Cheren sighed and continued walking.
“Fine, whatever, I guess…” he muttered. Bianca smiled and they resumed walking towards the head of the route.
“Route 1. Now leaving Nuvema Town. Accumula Town, 5 miles north.” Bianca read off the sign when they got there. “This is it! Beyond this sign is the start of our adventure!” she continued excitedly. They all lined up side-by-side next to the sign, and David and Bianca counted off.
“1…” Bianca began.
“2…” David continued.
“3!” Cheren said quickly. He took one large step ahead of his friends and stepped onto the route first. David and Bianca stumbled to catch up to him as he turned around laughing.
“Che-reeeeen! We were supposed to go together!” Bianca said angrily.
“Hahaha! Bianca, who cares? In 20 years, are you really going to remember which of us stepped onto Route 1 first?” Cheren replied, still laughing insatiably. Bianca stamped her feet and crossed her arms, pouting, and Cheren began walking away. David felt sorry for Bianca, but at the same time he knew he had to agree with Cheren; it didn’t matter who took the first step, but he was sorry Bianca didn’t get her way. The three of them began walking north up the route, and slowly, Nuvema Town faded into the tree line and out of sight. It would be the last time any of them would see it for a very long time…
* * *
It had been about an hour since they had left the sign. The group was making good time and they were about half way to Accumula Town. They were passing by a river, so Bianca suggested that they stop for a moment and rest. Cheren was impatient, but he agreed. The three of them went down to the waterfront to top off their canteens and rest for a moment, but when they got closer to the water, they could see that they were not alone.
“Wow, what is that?” Bianca asked. “Is it a Pokémon?” she continued.
“Shhh, yes. It’s a Patrat. Let’s not spook it.” Cheren replied. Standing at the edge of the river, its back to them, was a tiny young Patrat, oblivious to the three pairs of eyes staring down at it. Before Cheren could stop her though, Bianca rose and started running towards it.
“Aww, it’s so cuuuuuute! I’m going to go say ‘hi.’” Bianca said excitedly, getting up and jogging down to the bank of the stream.
“Bianca, wait, hold on!” Cheren stammered after her, but it was too late.
“Hellooooooooooo, little Patrat! My name is Bianca. What are you doing here?” she asked, rushing down the hill towards it. The Patrat turned in shock at the unexpected disturbance and saw her running at it. It bared its teeth and growled at her, thinking she was trying to attack. Bianca saw its hostile gesture and tried to stop, but she lost her footing and began to slide down the steep, rough hill uncontrollably. She had picked up too much momentum and couldn’t stop or slow her descent. She slid down the hill towards it, and seeing this, it jumped at her to defend itself and attack. Bianca screamed and ducked as she reached the bottom, the Patrat sailing past her face narrowly and landing behind her. She slid to a halt at the shore of the river and saw the little rodent turn around to make another pass.
“Eeeeeeeeeh! Pachirisu, help me!” she screamed, releasing her Pokémon for their first ever battle. Pachirisu leapt from the ball to defend her trainer, landing gracefully and striking a fighting pose. The Patrat was baring its fangs and sizing up its new adversary. Pachirisu waited patiently for a command from her trainer, itching to start her first real fight.
“Pachirisu! Um… use… um…” she stammered, but the Patrat was too quick for her. It leapt from the ground before she was ready, claws drawn, teeth gleaming, and threw itself at Pachirisu.
“Eeek! Quick, Pachirisu, get out of the way!” Bianca shouted. Pachirisu leapt into the air from where she had been standing and jumped onto a low-hanging tree branch. The Patrat landed squarely where Pachirisu had been a moment earlier and spun around to find its opponent.
Cheren saw Bianca’s dilemma and shouted down from the embankment where they had been watching; “Bianca! Have her use ‘Spark!’” he cried.
“Okay!” Bianca shouted back blindly. “Pachirisu, quick, use ‘Spark!’” she commanded. Pachirisu began charging electrical energy, her cheeks crackling with electricity and her body flush with sparks. The Patrat looked up just then and found its foe, leaping up for another attack. Pachirisu leapt from the branch, her whole body covered in crackling sparks, and the two collided head first in midair. An explosion of sparks and dust surrounded the two Pokémon, and Bianca had to shield her eyes from the debris. When the dust eventually settled, the wild Patrat lay on the ground defeated, while Pachirisu stood triumphantly next to it, breathing heavily but otherwise unscathed.
Bianca stood dumbstruck for a moment. She staggered to grasp the concept that she had not only just completed her first real Pokémon battle, but had been flawlessly victorious. Slowly, the realization of what had happened dawned on her. A grin spread across her face and she jumped into the air with a shout.
“Y-y-y-YESSSSS! Pachirisu, that was incredible! You did it!” she shouted, running up to her Pokémon and embracing it. Pachirisu let out an excited and celebratory cry of her own and squirmed in her trainer’s arms. Cheren and David came running down from the road towards the stream to congratulate her as well.
“Holy crap, Bianca, you actually did it! You just won your first Pokémon battle!” Cheren shouted with a mixture of genuine surprise and congratulations.
“That was sweet, Bianca, you did amazing.” David echoed. Bianca blushed and held up Pachirisu proudly.
“Don’t give me the credit; Pachirisu did all the work, didn’t you, sweetie?” Bianca replied. “Besides, you were the one who suggested Spark, Cheren. I guess I probably should try and figure out some of Pachirisu’s moves, shouldn’t I?” she continued.
“Hey man, you won, didn’t you? Let’s not overanalyze this; you won and that’s all that matters.” David said jokingly. “That Patrat was crazy; I wonder what pissed it off so badly.” he continued, looking down at the unconscious form of the Scout Pokémon that lay beside them.
“I’m just glad little Pachirisu is alright.” Bianca mused, returning her Pokémon to its Pokéball. “I could sure use that rest now though!” she continued.
* * *
Cheren sat by the riverbed, finishing his lunch and staring off into space. Bianca was out in the water, splashing around with Pachirisu in the warm morning sun. David sat next to Cheren, watching Bianca and remembering his dream from the night before. Why did these thoughts keep coming back to him, he wondered; why did everything constant about Bianca suddenly seem to be changing? Cheren stood up and stretched, announcing that they should get back on the road. Bianca came wading back to the shore and gathered her things, but as the two of them left, David stayed seated, looking out at the clear blue water before him, lost in thought. As his friends began to walk back up the hill, Bianca called out to him from over her shoulder.
“David, are you coming?” she asked; David looked down and away before standing and replying though.
“Actually, no, you guys go on ahead.” he said, turning to face them. “Seeing that battle of yours made me want to go train Paula a little bit.” he continued with a sly grin. “I’ll meet you guys in Accumula Town; you go on without me.” he appended.
“Okay, will do.” Cheren replied. “It’s 12:30 now; we’ll meet you in the main square at 2:00, deal?” he asked. David smiled and nodded his head.
“Sounds good, Cheren.” he responded. He watched as his friends walked back up the hill to the main road, and then walk out of sight. He took out Paula’s Pokéball and released her from it. The little Ralts popped out and stood on top of a fallen branch on the ground, smiling and looking up at him expectantly.
“Hello, master!” she exclaimed excitedly with her telepathy. “What are we doing here?” she asked curiously.
“Cheren and Bianca have gone up ahead. I think we should do a little training before we get to Accumula Town. What do you say?” he replied.
“Of course, master. How shall we train?” she asked politely.
“I guess we should find a wild Pokémon to battle and practice some of your attacks.” David responded. He began looking around, curious to try and see where the Patrat from earlier may have come from, but Paula spoke up before he could identify the source.
“Very well; we should check the tall grass to the north. There is bound to be something we can battle there, master.” she said cheerily. David smiled and picked her up; the pair returned to the road and started heading north.
* * *
A tiny Lillipup walked along the road, swaying to an unheard beat with each cheerful little step. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, there was a spring in his step, and the weather was just as pleasant as could be. The Lillipup didn’t have a care in the world, and was just happy to be out in the warm sun. As it walked along, a Pidove flew by and startled him. The little dog barked at the Flying-type Pokémon and leapt in the air after it, snapping his teeth playfully. The Pidove turned around to look at him and cooed chidingly when it realized what he had done. The Lillipup yipped a small, fierce bark at it in warning, but the Pidove paid him no mind. It flew off, and the Lillipup went back to his stroll.
A little farther down the road, he heard a rustle and saw the grass move. “Something else to bark at?” he thought to himself. The Lillipup slowly crept up as so to not spook whatever the tall grass was hiding. It crawled right up to the edge, hunched over on its front paws, wagged its stumpy tail to ready itself, and then dashed into the brush, yapping and growling at whatever variety of beast the treacherous grass may have been harboring from him. Suddenly, it grew quiet though, and a moment later, the small dog came sailing back out of the grass, yelping in terror and soaring across the road. David and Paula emerged from their cover a second later and Paula giggled as the Doppler Effect modulated the Lillipup’s defeated yelp.
“Great work, Paula! That’s the twentieth one so far.” David said proudly, looking down at her and smiling.
“Thank you, master. I can already feel myself growing stronger.” she responded modestly.
“Your Confusion attack is getting really powerful. Did you see that little bugger fly?” David said with a laugh. “You knocked it right on it’s ass! Chili’s not going to stand a chance against us!” he continued proudly.
“Soon I will evolve into a Kirlia, and I will be much stronger then, master. It is all thanks to you!” she replied, equally proud of her new trainer.
“I think that’s enough training for now. We should head on to Accumula Town and find Cheren and Bianca.” David said, looking down the road stretching onward to the north. “I think I can see the buildings from here actually.” he continued.
“You can?” Paula asked in surprise. “May I try something then, master?” she continued.
“What are you going to try?” David asked quizzically, raising an eyebrow in concern.
“You will have to wait and see, master!” she said with a giggle. “Please just pick me up and hold me as high up as you can.” she continued. David picked up the little Ralts under her arms and placed her on top of his head. He turned to look at the city and could feel her start to shake.
“Con… cen… trate…” she murmured. “Con… cen… trate…”
Paula shook in concentration. David didn’t know what she was doing, but her efforts quickly paid off and manifested themselves. There was a blinding flash, he felt the ground disappear beneath his feet, and he suddenly felt weightless. His hair blew, he drifted through space as if surrounded by water, and felt as though the planet’s gravity and the gravity of everything else around him had suddenly been turned off. The sensation lasted only an instant, but it was all so vivid that he took it all in immediately. Suddenly, the sensation left him and he felt the ground beneath his feet again. He opened his eyes and saw the entrance to Accumula Town before him; in literally an instant, he and Paula had traveled a good quarter of a mile.
“Ho-oh-ly CRAP! What the Hell was that, Paula?!” he asked in shock. Paula giggled and held her arms up proudly.
“I used Teleport, master! I got the idea to try it earlier when we were training, but I did not know if it would work or not.” she exclaimed. “I just saw where I wanted to go, focused on it in my mind, and poof, here we are!” she explained. “Are you proud of me, master?” she asked with expectation and joy.
“Dude, that was AWESOME! Hell yeah I’m proud; that was great!” David replied excitedly. “If we can really dial that in, it could eliminate the need for a Flying-type Pokémon potentially! That is definitely something we should keep practicing; excellent work!” he praised her. Paula blushed faintly and smiled at his overt ovation.
“I am glad that you approve, master. I am getting stronger and stronger with you.” she replied shyly. David nodded and put her back in her Pokéball; he then began walking towards the city to find his friends.
* * *
David looked down at his Xtransceiver to get the time; 1:55pm. He had to meet Cheren and Bianca in the main square in five minutes. He turned the corner and saw a small park on the other side of the street. There was a crowd growing in the middle of the park, and he could see what looked like a man giving a speech of some kind to them. He could see Cheren and Bianca standing at the edge of the crowd, trying to squeeze in to listen, so he jogged over to them to find out what was going on.
“Bianca! Cheren! Hey! What’s going on here? What’s this crowd for?” he asked as he ran up to them. They turned in mild surprise upon hearing his voice and greeted him; Cheren spoke to answer his friend’s question.
“There’s this guy from some cult or something giving a speech. He’s been here for the last half an hour or so.” Cheren replied. “He’s been saying some really whacked out stuff.” he continued, muttering slightly under his breath.
“He says that if we keep Pokémon as pets or for battles that we’re hurting them and we should let them go!” Bianca explained in disbelief. “I only just got my darling little Pachirisu and I couldn’t stand to let her go!” she continued, raising her arms above her head for dramatic effect. David got wide-eyed at such a prospect and turned to Cheren for an explanation.
“What? That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. This dude’s just been shouting this crap at people in the park all day? Is he homeless or something?” David asked.
“See for yourself.” Cheren said, stepping aside for David to get through.
The three of them pushed their way to the front of the crowd, intent on seeing the man who was saying such outlandish things. When they got to the front, they saw a middle-aged man standing on a small, impromptu stage, flanked by eight armed guards. Three stood on either side of him, standing at attention with one hand gripping the hilt of a sheathed sword; the two on the edges also stood at attention, proudly gripping a flag with an odd insignia adorning it. The symbol the flags bore was that of a shield, the left half white and the right half black. On it was a backwards “Z,” with a “P” inscribed over it. The letters were electric blue with a black trim, and looked as if they had been slashed onto the flags with some kind of mystical sword. The guards all bore the same insignia on their uniforms; a grey cloak that obscured their faces and which covered their whole bodies. The man speaking in the center supported himself with a large, ornate cane, almost resembling a scepter fit for a king. He wore a giant, ornate tunic with a lavish neck piece of gold, shaped like the tower of a castle. His tunic was purple and gold, royal colors, and had a design resembling two large, menacing eyes, staring coldly out into the crowd. He had flowing gray hair that went past his shoulders, but the color and a gently receding hairline betrayed his age. His left eye was stern and cold, a demonic red in color, but he wore an eye patch over his right, adding to the mystique. He continued his speech…
“And so, ladies and gentlemen… what is our responsibility towards these magnificent beasts? They control the very elements of nature, help build for us our homes and communities, brighten our lives and even fight to defend our honor! These creatures are the vastly superior life forms, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. Our responsibility, I assert, is liberation! If you have agreed with the logic and evidence I have set forth this day, then you must reach the same conclusion I have which is that Pokémon and people should be separated and the Pokémon should be freed from our tyranny! I ask only that you consider my words, and if the spirit of Arceus moves you to do so, release your Pokémon and join us, such as these brave men and women surrounding me have done too.” he said.
“We… are Team Plasma.” he continued, emphasizing the words. “The Pokémon liberation movement begins with us, but it ends, dear citizens of Accumula Town, with you. I thank you for your time today, and I hope to have a chance to speak to you all again soon.” he concluded.
As he finished his speech, the guards snapped their arms to their sides and bowed. With mechanical, robotic precision and movements, they gathered the flags, the podium, and all they had brought with them, and in one, unified movement, left the stage and exited the park.
“Wow…” David murmured.
“I know. It was like that for a solid half an hour too. I thought I knew what crazy was, but man… that dude set the bar pretty high.” Cheren replied.
Before Cheren could say more or David or Bianca could add a further comment of their own, a soft-spoken voice murmured something from behind them. There was an airy quality to his sound; a certain smugness and self-righteous air about it.
“Did he now?” the voice said. “That man is ‘crazy,’ do you think?” The group turned to see a young man standing behind them. As the rest of the crowd dispersed, he stood rooted in place, standing like a statue as he spoke to them. “I for one think he made perfect sense.” the man continued.
The man was still in his adolescence, but was perhaps two or three years older than they themselves were. He was strikingly tall, but of a slightly thinner build than his height might otherwise suggest. He wore what was to them rather ornate seeming clothing; a white tunic, khaki trousers, a black baseball cap and many pieces of jewelry. Large bracelets hung from his wrists, he wore a top hung from a string as a necklace, and a curious level-1 Menger sponge hung on a chain from his belt loop. Perhaps most striking of all however was his flowing green hair; the man brushed it aside from his face as Cheren snapped back a reply.
“Yeah, I think he’s crazy. How can you not?” Cheren said shortly. “Why would we ever release our Pokémon like that? That makes no sense; Pokémon aren’t ‘slaves’ like he made them out to be, Pokémon are the partners and friends of trainers. We work with them to make them stronger, and they, in turn, teach us as well. It is a symbiotic relationship, not one of master and slave like that loon made it out to be. I feel no greater urge to arbitrarily ‘release my Pokémon’ than I do to take off my clothes and run through this park screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs. His ‘evidence’ and ‘logic’ were anecdotal at best.” he continued. The man smiled and closed his eyes.
“Anecdotal, you say?” the mystery man replied. “Is that so? Tell me… were you raised by humans?” he asked.
“Was I raise- WHAT? Yes, of course I was!” Cheren replied, flabbergasted. The man chuckled a tiny laugh.
“Well, then you can’t really say it is ‘anecdotal evidence,’ can you?” the mysterious stranger continued calmly. “Unless you were actually raised by Pokémon as I was, nurtured and surrounded by them every waking hour of every single day, then you really don’t have as much exposure with them as I do.” he continued.
“But I’m sorry, I seem to have lost my manners.” he said. “My name is N. I am a beginning Pokémon trainer, much like you three appear to be. My goal in life as a trainer is not to challenge the self-righteous ‘Pokémon League’ or to become stronger; I wish to hone my abilities to understand Pokémon, and I seek to create a better world for my Pokémon brethren.” N continued. “You three seem to be something quite special though, actually. May I inquire as to your names?” he asked.
“My name is Cheren, and this is David and Bianca. Your aspirations are noble, Mr. N, but if you align yourself with that Team Plasma crowd, you’ll be sacrificing the ends for the means.” Cheren responded bluntly, trying simply to make the strange man go away.
“Hmm… is that so, Cheren?” N said with a laugh. “Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree I’m afraid. You… on the other hand…” he continued, turning and sizing up David.
“Me?” David asked in surprise.
“Yes… there is something remarkable about you, I must say… most remarkable indeed…” N murmured. “Tell me, friend… would you like to have a Pokémon battle?” he asked, a smile spreading across his face.
“What, here? Now? Well I… I mean I guess…” David stammered.
“David’s not afraid of you! He’ll take you down, you creep!” Bianca shouted, energized by the frantic, unstated energy of the situation.
“I, um… wait, what? I will?!” David stammered again, surprised at Bianca’s boldness.
“Excellent! Then it is decided.” N said. He took out a Pokéball from his holster, took a step back and threw it forward to the ground. A Purrloin came out of the ball and growled, ready to start the battle.
“Go, Purrloin!” N shouted. “You’ll have to excuse me, my friend, but we of course must play within society’s rules for the time being.” he continued, seemingly talking more to the Purrloin than to David.
“I can’t look like a coward in front of Bianca and Cheren… especially not Bianca. I guess I have to do this.” David thought to himself. He took out Paula’s Pokéball and threw it into the air. “Paula, go!” he shouted.
The little Ralts flew out of the ball and appeared opposite the Purrloin, ready to fight. A large smile spread across N’s face and he looked pleased.
“Oh my, how darling!” he shouted. “Your Ralts is named ‘Paula?’ Oh, it looks like I was right about you after all!” he continued.
“Um… I… thanks?” David stammered. Before he could readjust his mindset back to the battle though, N called out his first attack.
“Purrloin, use Fake Out!” N shouted. The Purrloin made a quick jab towards Paula, not actually attacking but feigning with its claws perfectly. Paula jumped back in surprise, tripped, and then stumbled and fell over, startled by the Purrloin’s quick motion. As she stood herself back up, the Purrloin took up a fighting pose and prepared to attack in earnest.
“Paula, use Confusion!” David shouted. The little Ralts steadied herself, focused, and let loose the counter-attack. Just like she had practiced, the blast of telekinetic energy shot forth and flew towards her opponent; much to her and her trainer’s surprise however, the Purrloin appeared utterly and totally unphased. It grinned a devilish grin, then lunged forward at the Ralts, claws drawn and ready to swipe.
“Crap, no! Paula, quick, get out of the way! Use Teleport!” David shouted blindly, but it was to no avail.
“Purrloin, use Pursuit.” N said calmly. Paula quickly Teleported away, but the Purrloin grabbed a hold of her just before she could make her escape. Paula rematerialized across the clearing, but N’s Purrloin was still doggedly hanging on. The Purrloin raised a paw, its claws glowing with black, malevolent energy, and it took one powerful swipe at the little Ralts. She flew across the clearing, fell to the ground, and slumped over, too tired and defeated to go on. The Purrloin gracefully fell to its feet, licked its paws, sat down and purred; N recalled it to its Pokéball, saying quietly under his breath, “Excellent, Purrloin. Thank you for putting yourself in danger for my sake. I appreciate your contribution.”
David ran towards his Ralts, both worried about what his friends would think and terrified that she was permanently hurt. He knelt down next to her and began to inspect the damage, but she looked up at him and began to speak.
“It is alright, master, I am fine.” she murmured softly in his mind. “I am sorry I could not win.” she continued. With that, her mind slipped and she fell into unconsciousness.
Though she wouldn’t hear it, David thanked her for the effort and recalled her to her Pokéball. N strode over and extended a hand to him.
“A word to the wise: Psychic-type moves like that will have no effect on Dark-type Pokémon like my Purrloin.” he explained. “Your Pokémon put in a tremendous effort however; you should be very proud.” he continued as he helped David up.
“Despite your loss here today, I sense great things in you, David. You and I will meet again in the future; our paths will cross many times in fact.” N said ominously. “I hope someday you will consider what I have said and you will help me create that new world for Pokémon. Until that day, I will bid you adieu.” he continued. With that, he put his hands in his pockets, and slowly walked away.
* * *
Later that night at the Accumula Pokémon Center, after all the Pokémon had been healed and they were all resting, David, Cheren and Bianca sat in the Center’s lobby and discussed the events that had transpired that day.
“I just don’t understand it. ‘Pokémon Liberation…’ what a load of Bouffalant crap.” Cheren scoffed.
“Do you really think that strange man meant what he said? About being raised by Pokémon?” Bianca asked nervously.
“Who knows… probably not.” Cheren replied. “I think he’s just crazy, but whatever.” he continued, staring off into space.
“I just wish I had been able to win my first trainer battle.” David muttered disappointedly. “We beat a bunch of wild Patrat and Lillipup on the way here, but my first battle against another human trainer will always be a loss now…” he continued, putting his palm to his cheek. Bianca frowned and put her hand on his arm.
“Oh, David… don’t be down on yourself about that.” she said soothingly. “It was just a bad type matchup, but you’ll get the next one. Your little Ralts is really strong, I can tell!” she continued. David looked at her and saw a real sense of conviction in her eyes. She wore a big smile and her eyes gleamed in the light from the fireplace. She was right; Paula wasn’t upset, N wasn’t a jerk about it, and it was technically a bad type matchup. He shouldn’t feel too down about it, and try as he might, he couldn’t even bring himself to be with Bianca’s pretty, innocent face smiling at him.
“Thanks, Bianca. I guess you’re right.” he murmured silently.
“Well kids, I think I’m going to turn in.” Cheren grunted as he stood. David and Bianca broke their gaze and turned to look at him, Bianca trying to suppress a laugh at his peculiar remark.
“Turn into what? A bigger dweeb?” she asked as she giggled. Cheren drooped his shoulders and glared at her. His expression practically dripped with sarcasm and contempt.
“Hey, Bianca, I uh… I think I’ve got something in my eye. Can you take a look?” he said, stretching his eyelid open with his middle finger. Bianca gasped and brought a hand to her mouth. She extended her arm and flicked him in the nose with her ring finger. Cheren smiled and stood back up, walking off out of sight towards his room. Bianca turned back around to David and suppressed another laugh.
“I guess I should go too. Good night, David.” she said as she stood.
“Night, Bianca. See you in the morning.” David replied. As she walked down the hall, he watched her until she rounded the corner and was out of sight. His first day as a Pokémon trainer had been quite eventful; this was bound to be one Hell of a ride.
* * *
David rose to go to bed himself a while later. As he walked down the hall, he passed by Bianca’s room and noticed that the door was slightly ajar. He took a quick peek inside and saw her sound asleep in her bed. She was resting like an angel, the light from the hall playing across her golden blonde hair, the blankets covering her body, silhouetting it against the light. She looked so peaceful and calm, it made him strangely happy. As he continued down the hall, he heard a voice inside his head.
“I believe that you like her romantically, master. Am I correct in this assumption?” the little voice murmured.
“Paula, is that you?” David thought back.
“Yes, master. My Psychic power is growing stronger by leaps and bounds.” she responded. “I am mentally aware of my surroundings and can hear your thoughts even from inside my Pokéball now.” she continued proudly. David winced a bit and looked away.
“That’s cool, I guess…” he muttered. “Try not to eavesdrop too much though, okay?” he continued, a weariness staining his voice.
“You do like that girl though, correct, master?” Paula asked again. “Ms. Bianca is your friend, but you are attracted to her, no?” she continued. David glanced around furtively and rubbed the back of his head.
“What, Bianca? Well, we’ve always been best friends, but no, I’m not sexually attracted to her if that’s what you mean.” he lied.
“Master… I am talking to you in your mind.” Paula responded patronizingly. “You cannot keep secrets like that from me.” she continued with a giggle. David hesitated for a moment, pondering what to say next.
“Well… you know… she’s alright…” he finally admitted.
“Hehehe… I like you, master. You will be a good trainer, and you will make that girl happy some day.” Paula said, ribbing her trainer good naturedly.
“How will I make her ‘happy,’ Paula? What does that even mean?” he asked in confusion. Paula was silent for a moment before she replied.
“Young as I am, I can see things in your mind, even if you do not yet wish them to come to the surface. Give it time, master; accept the things you know to be true.” she responded cryptically. Then, there was only silence.
“What are you talking about, Paula?” David asked skeptically after a moment, but no answer came. “Paula? You still there?” he asked, but she didn’t speak.
“Selective muteness, eh? …that’s convenient for you…” David muttered in mild annoyance. He had made it into his room now and was lying down in bed. As he turned out the light, he thought about what she had said and about the events of the last two days. Given their plutonic history together, it pained him to admit it, but yes, to some extent, whether she meant it or not, he was perhaps starting to fall for his childhood friend. As he closed his eyes and let himself drift off, reluctant as he may have wanted it to be, David thought to himself an emphatic “Yes. Yes, I do.”
As consciousness left him and he drifted off to sleep, Paula whispered a quiet “I knew it.” to herself. The little Ralts was quite content with herself…