June 7th, 2009. A date I will never forget.
It started out like any other day. This was back when I was traveling the Sinnoh region. I had already scored all eight badges, already kicked some Elite 4 buttocks. Now I was just traveling around, finding and catching whatever new Pokémon came my way, and training them for the next big challenge; the Battle Frontier. And not only training, either; recently, a bunch of people professing to be move tutors had set up shop in various areas around the region. Oddly enough, they took no viable form of currency in return for their services, but rather worked in exchange for various colored shard. Fragments of some sort of ancient relic. It was beyond my understanding what possible use they could've seen in these little clay fragments. They didn't even sell for too much at Pokémarts. But it was better than paying them in actual money- or worse, Battle Points. Heard of a Battle Frontier in the Hoenn region where you had to pay the local move tutors in Battle Points. You ever try racking up a good couple dozen Battle Points? It's doable, yes, but very slow going.
So I spent many a day just digging away in the underground tunnels of Sinnoh, collecting any and all treasures I could excavate. Which included, on occasion, a couple of colored shards. More than that, every morning I sent out my trusty Pelipper and we made tracks for Pastoria City. Inside the Great Marsh, among all the tourists and trainers and what have you was a little kid, he seemed to live in the place full-time. At least, I've never seen him outside the Great Marsh. But anyway, this kid, I don't know how he does it, but every day I talk to him, and every day he's found a colored shard and willingly gives it to me. A shard a day- I'm lucky to get that sort of deal in the underground tunnels, and that kid did not strike me as the kind of person who is especially adept at wielding a pickax or sledgehammer. But you know what? For an extra shard each and every day, I wasn't about to look this gift Ponyta in the mouth, no sir.
Then came that fateful day. June 7th. That day, as I was paying the attendant the usual 500 Pokédollar admission fee to get into the Great Marsh, something occurred to me. Every day, I shelled out 500 big ones to this money-hungry attendant I was sure was stealing from the register just to go in, get a shard, and get out. I was paying 500 Pokédollars for a tiny colored shard of clay! Oh, sure, Poké Balls only cost 200, but at least they're essential enough equipment to justify that. I was paying more than double that for something that for all I know came out of some ancient pottery class.
By this point, the attendant knew me well. He knew my morning routine, and knew to expect me to exit the place within two minutes. Still, he held up the usual burlap sack stuffed with thirty of the Great Marsh's specialty Poké Balls- Safari Balls- with a questioning look on his face, waiting for me to shake my head. Today, however, was different. I held out my hand. The attendant was surprised, but asked no questions. He handed me the bag of Safari Balls and allowed me into the Great Marsh. Today, see, I was determined to make this excursion worth the admission fee. I was going to catch my money's worth in these Safari Balls.
First thing I did, naturally, was talk with that little boy who seemed to live there 24/7. He happily forked over a Green Shard, and once again, his only response to my usual inquiry as to where he got them was a mysterious smile. But I couldn't be bothered by that today. I spent 500 Pokédollars to get in here and damned if I wasn't going to get my money's worth.
Presently, I approached a large, yet shallow pond filled entirely with mud. Thankful that the pants I was wearing were well adapted to this sort of thing, I began wading around. I headed for an area of the pond where patches of tall grass was growing; the top of the grass was just poking up out of the mud. Almost immediately, I saw a small creature stick its light blue head up out of the mud- a Wooper. Wasting no time, I took a Safari Ball out of the bag, heaved it at the Wooper, and caught it with little issue. I smirked to myself as the ball vanished, signifying Wooper's departure for the PC storage system. Technology really was incredible.
I went on in this vein for some time. What irks me most about Poké Balls in general is their tendency to shatter into pieces upon failing to catch a wild Pokémon, which makes the thirty allotted Safari Balls all the more precious. I made use of the Marsh's tram system to quickly move from one area to another, and before long, I had caught several Wooper, a pair of Bibarel, a Carnivine, and one Exeggcute that had given me much grief. There may even have been others. All I know is that once Exeggcute was sent to the PC, I was down to my last ten Safari Balls. I wandered around a bit more.
And then I saw it.
I had come face-to-face with a large, imposing creature. By its height alone I could tell it was a Tropius- nothing else in the Great Marsh could come up to its height, with the possible exception of a Kangaskhan. And even then, it's quite difficult to confuse Kangaskhan and Tropius. But the fact that I had encountered a Tropius wasn't what made me stop dead in my tracks. No, see, on regular Tropius, the head and leaves were a dark green, and the rest of the body a dark brown. This Tropius's head and leaves were a bright, vibrant shade of green, and the rest of its body a rich golden color.
As if to confirm what my eyes already knew, the beast opened its mouth and let out a cry of "Trooooo!", whereupon a host of sparkling blue stars materialized out of nowhere and swirled around it briefly before vanishing once more. There was no mistaking it; I had come across a Shiny Tropius.
No sudden movements, I told myself. Tropius scare rather easily, and damned if I was going to let a Shiny get away from me! Aside from my reputation as a top trainer, I also had a reputation as a Shiny Hunter- a trainer who actively seeks out and catches Shiny Pokémon. Immensely difficult, owing to the general extreme rareness of Shinies, but the thrill is like no other. Of course, Safari Parks such as Sinnoh's Great Marsh greatly complicated manners, as the Pokémon in such environments tend to be much more prone to fleeing, and one could not simply use one's own Pokémon for assistance. Then there was the matter of catching any Tropius at all. They were not the easiest Pokémon to catch, even when weakened. Catching one that was completely unscathed in what amounted to camoflauged Great Balls, while hoping it stuck around that long? It sounded to be an impossible task. Indeed, it did seem that way; months prior, I had traversed the Great Marsh in hopes of filling up my Pokédex, and managed to catch a regular Tropius, but only after getting through no fewer than twenty-two more of its kind.
I viewed my options. I could throw some bait at the Tropius- included with the bag of Safari Balls was a small sack of Pokémon bait. That would help it stick around, sure enough, but as my past experiences have shown, there's no guarantees. And even if the bait did have its desired effect, it appears to make the Pokémon more likely to be able to resist a thrown ball. If I still had all thirty, maybe, but I was down to ten Safari Balls. It would be an extremely risky, nigh suicidal move. No. No, bait was out of the question.
My eyes then lingered on the mud I was standing almost knee-deep in. I could scoop a handful of that and throw it at the Tropius. But that was even more foolish; a Pokémon that's been hit by mud would be likely to flee on the spot. If not, though, it would be angered, and an angered Pokémon, don't ask me why, is apparently easier to catch in a Poké Ball. But I wasn't gonna risk it. Still, I knew I had to try something. So, summoning all my courage, I slowly, very slowly, drew a Safari Ball from the bag, pressed the button to bring it to full size, then with all the strength in my right arm, launched the sphere at the Tropius. It struck the dinosaur-esque creature, converted it into red transparent energy, and sucked it inside. The ball wobbled back and forth as it landed on top of the mud. It shook once... Twice... Three times...
...and shattered. Shards of Safari Ball flew in all directions as Tropius's massive form re-emerged, the sparkles flying around it once more. I tensed up- in my experience, Pokémon were much more likely to flee immediately after an attempted and failed capture. But to my surprise, the Shiny still stood there, meeting my gaze unwaveringly. I was surprised, but I dared not question it. Instead, I slowly took a second Safari Ball out of the bag, enlarged it, and threw it at the Tropius. The sizable Shiny was sucked inside, and the ball shook once... Shook twice... Shook three times....
...and shattered again. My heart sank as Tropius once again came into view, mysterious blue sparkles flying around it. I braced myself for the flapping sounds of its leaves, but this did not come. Tropius continued to stand in place, watching me intently. I met its gaze, wondering what exactly was keeping it in place. I knew it couldn't be stuck in the mud, not even an infant Tropius could get stuck in a shallow pool of Great Marsh mud. Even if that was the case, it would have been flapping its wings frantically, trying to escape. But this one clearly wanted to remain in place. Slowly, and with a feeling that I was pressing my luck, I took out a third Safari Ball and threw it. It sucked Tropius inside, but shattered before it even hit the ground. And yet, amazingly, the Shiny stayed still. It was almost like... almost like she wanted to be captured. And yet, at the same time, I got this strange feeling, a feeling like Tropius's patience was waning. I don't know how I knew, all I knew was it was now or never. So, braced for the worst, I launched a fourth Safari Ball. It sucked Tropius inside, landed on top of the mud, and shook once... twice... three times...
And then it clicked.
It took me a full five seconds to realize that Tropius wasn't escaping this Safari Ball- I had done it! I had caught a Shiny Tropius! Had the ball not vanished and gone to the PC storage system, I surely would have picked it up and began dancing around in celebration. Instead, I hastened to exit the Great Marsh. It had been a nerve-wracking experience, and I had no desire for a repeat of it that could possibly have a less fortunate outcome. Of course, that very thing happened just under a year later in the Safari Zone of Johto, but that's another story.
And now, a few notes.
1: This was my entry in Ysavvryl's tall tale one-shot contest, where it took third place.
2: If anyone from the old Shiny Hunter's club thinks this sounds familiar, there's a good reason for that; this story was based on true events. Anyone who went into the Shiny Hunter's club on June 7th, 2009 will have seen me excitedly going into detail on these very events which led to me catching a female Shiny Tropius.