Perhaps it was on account of the chubby-yellow gold sumo wrestler that the Sandman hadn’t yet visited this room of the farmhouse. Sprawled out on a nearby mountain of pillows and blankets, the Makuhita Sumeo, lay like a fat little pooh-bah, dreaming of more delicious Yache Stew and snoring like an air raid siren.
Or, maybe it was because of the Poochyena Hyneo that Ben hadn’t yet drifted off into La-La Land. The monochromatic wolfpup lay curled up next to her trainer, occasionally jabbing him in the ribs with a wayward paw every time she rolled over.
But no. It wasn’t for either of those reasons that Ben Hale couldn’t catch a single wink, let alone forty. The reason why sleep eluded the boy was because his mind was full of questions and worries and the conversation he and Carol had had at supper. The conversation about THEM. And Sam.
It sickened Ben to think that here he was safe and sound, warm and well-fed, while that poor, innocent child was a prisoner of THEM. The thought that the youngster might still be alive somewhere out there in the cold, dark forest -- hungry, scared, suffering, and alone -- was more than he could bear. He just knew that he had to do something. He had to. But what? What could he do?
The plan he had devised seemed risky at best, but it was better than nothing. As he lay there on his back, he quickly ran through it again in his mind. He would ask to borrow some of Sue’s old dresses, have Medeo and Sumeo put them on, then use the pair of fearless fighter as decoys. The two miniature martial artists were roughly the same size as kids, so hopefully THEY would fall for it. Especially if Ben could find some wigs for the two Human-shaped Pokemon to wear. Anyway, when THEY tried to kidnap Medeo and Sumeo, then Ben, Hyneo, and Marteo would make their move. Once Ben and his team had captured one of THEM, they would make IT lead them to THEIR lair, where they could rescue Sam, and recover the villagers’ stolen belongings. Ben rolled over onto his side, narrowly avoiding one of Hyneo’s furry flailing appendages in the process. Maybe in the morning he would run it by Carol and see what she thought.
Unable to catch any Zzz‘s, Ben lay there for a few more moments before deciding he needed to get a better look at the forest. He rose noiselessly, so as not to awaken his snoozing companions, and crossed the room to a window that faced the foreboding woods. His stocking feet barely made a sound, yet his Meditite comrade Medeo, deep in communion with the energy of the cosmos, stirred; his highly attuned senses alerting him to movement, one ear twitching in the direction of Ben’s muffled footfalls. The Yoga Pokemon had been resting on a nearby recliner, legs crossed in the meditative Lotad Position, but now, he too got up. Stretching briefly, he joined the boy at the window.
Ben didn’t take his gaze from the snow-covered scenery as his diminutive companion joined him. The boy spoke in hushed tones. “Don’t you ever sleep, mate?” he inquired. The Meditite shook his tiny onion-shaped head from side-to-side. “I didn’t think so.”
They stared in silence through the frosty glass, watching the blowing snow, for quite some time before Ben finally whispered, “Are you thinking about Sam, too?” He turned to face Medeo for the first time since his little partner had joined him. The Yoga Pokemon nodded and the boy continued quietly, “Yeah, we’ve got to do something. We can’t just leave him out there, he might…” His voice trailed off to nothing as he turned and looked out the window again, his grey-green eyes surveying the harsh, wintry landscape.
Perched atop a high shelf, the Taillow Marteo came awake at the sound of the hushed conversation. Like Medeo, yet not quite as perceptive, she was sensitive to sound, and the noise had roused her. She spied Ben and Medeo staring forlornly out the window, gave a few awkward hop-skips to the end of her ledge, then quietly glided over to the pair, alighting softly on the boy’s shoulder. Ben gently patted her on the head.
“Let me guess? You couldn’t sleep either?” he said, forgetting to lower his voice, as the tiny swallow absentmindedly preened her ruffled feathers.
Suddenly, a cold, wet nose pushed itself into Ben’s left hand; it had been hanging down at his side. Glancing in the direction of the muzzle’s owner, the boy discovered that it was none other than his faithful canine companion, Hyneo. The Poochyena licked his hand comfortingly and Ben reached down to scratch her tenderly behind the ears.
“Well, that only leaves Sumeo then,” he said. Eight pairs of eyes turned in the direction of the rotund, little Makuhita, but of course, he hadn’t budged. With each raucous snore, his chubby chest rose and fell, and Ben chuckled as he noticed that one of Marteo’s feathers must have fallen out midflight and landed directly above Sumeo’s open mouth, comically rising and falling each time the Guts Pokemon exhaled or inhaled. Marteo and Hyneo grinned at the sight, while Medeo sweatdropped and shook his head from side-to-side.
Being together like this with his Pokemon partners lifted Ben’s spirits considerably. He felt thankful that he had such a loyal team, and felt that with their help, saving Sam would not only be possible, but was a given. A feeling of peace settled on Ben, accompanied by a sudden impulse of drowsiness.
At just that moment though, a shrill, grating sound suddenly came from next door and interrupted Ben’s happy revelry. A startled look briefly passed between him and his conscious companions. Sumeo however, blissfully slumbered on. An atomic bomb could have detonated inches from his head and the tubby tussler would have hardly noticed. With Medeo at his side, Hyneo at his heels, and Marteo winging overhead, Ben sprinted into the other room. What he saw when he got there took his breath away and made him bolt in alarm.
A mysterious, shadowy figure was busily cutting the glass dome covering Tina’s egg. Ben hesitantly crept forward, attempting to steal a better look -- IT had to be a Pokemon -- but the room was dark and he couldn’t identify which one. Just as Ben was about to send forth his Pokemon to stop IT, Carol rushed in from an adjacent room, followed by Tina. Having heard the sound, the two had come to investigate also. Startled by the sight of the figure cradling the Togepi egg, the woman gasped in dismay while her Togetic let out an anguished cry. In the blink of an eye, the figure instantly retreated the way it came, disappearing into the snowstorm with Tina hot on its heels.
“Marteo, quick! Follow them!” Ben barked, as he quickly slipped on his white adidas running shoes. The Taillow lifted a tiny wing to her forehead in a smart salute. “We can’t let that thing get away!”
Throwing on his black half-zip jacket, Ben continued issuing instructions. “Medeo, we’ll need your FORESIGHT to try to pinpoint that thing’s location, and Hyneo, We‘ll need you to use ODOR SLEUTH to help us track IT!” He slipped his brown canvas messenger bag over his shoulder, explaining, “With this blizzard, that thing won’t be easy to follow, but we’ve got to try! This might be our only chance to find THEIR hideout!”
Just then Sumeo wandered into the room, hungrily licking his lips. Raiding the kitchen for leftover Yache Stew was the sole train of thought on this late night snacker’s one-track mind. But seeing his trainer and Poke-brethren assembled there, he blinked his slitted-eyes dully and suspiciously scanned the room. Before he could finish his visual sweep though, Ben had noticed his arrival, grabbed him by the arm, and dragged him toward door, exclaiming, “Ah, Sumeo! Perfect timing! C'mon, we were just about to leave!”
Ready to step out into the chilly night air in pursuit of Tina and the Egg Thief, he called over his shoulder to Carol, “We’ll bring back Tina and her egg, ma’am! Don’t worry!”