Chapter 3: Old Ails of Oldale Part One
PREVIOUSLY ON POKéMON EMERALD 3:
“It’s like the FBI’s Most Wanted List, but for animals.”
“So, I’ve been thinking,” Brendan drawled as they began marching down Route 101. “We should nickname our Pokémon. Supposedly, it’s a huge thing to do. Could help us blend in more with the populace.”
“Mhmm,” May agreed without listening. She hated this place. The grass was soft beneath the soles of her feet and a vibrant green. The trees formed a natural border that directed you but one way down the route, but they were all tall and healthy. The flowers, sparse as they were, created a distracting, sweet aroma. All of this made a quaint little route that distracted her of her ideas of domination and conquest. It was all too nice.
“I’m going to love to see this place burn,” she growled.
Brendan was pulled out of his ramble. “Were you even listening to me?” he asked, putting his hands on his hips.
“Definitely not,” May replied casually, fingering her Pokéball. Gripping it tightly, she contemplated how best to cross the Route before them with touching this dreaded grass. Immediately she wandered over to a small rocky outcropping, that from this direction was a foot high, but the other direction, as the route gently sloped upward, was perfectly even.
“Don’t you dare,” Brendan warned. “You can only go down slopes. It’s a rule.”
May stared at him. “You’re…. kidding, right?”
“You’re telling me that this small rock –not even bigger than my knee!- is completely, and totally, insurmountable?!”
May stared at him once more.
“Try me,” he said crossly.
May glared at him now. Defiantly, she raised one leg high into the air, leading Brendan to gasp. With all the rage she could immediately muster, she slammed her foot down onto the rock. Brendan fell to the ground by the shock, gasping and wheezing.
She lifted her whole body up in a victorious, gloating outburst.
“How’s the view down there?” she giggled tauntingly.
“Delightful!” he sarcastically intoned. “This patch of grass is almost as groovy as my parties down south!”
“The south is an ocean, idiot.”
“It’s a… a sea of fun. Especially when we hit some mines. Then it’s really s blast.”
Realizing how long Brendan was inevitable to take, she sat down on a medium-sized stone. “I’m sure it was ‘da bomb,’ so to speak.”
Brendan took another whimsical step forward. “You know it! I just wish you could have sean it. And it-“ he stopped suddenly, looking down into the waist-high grass. “Something bit me!” he yelled, panicking.
“It can’t be too bad,” May replied casually. She changed her mind when she realized Brendan was slowly sinking into the grass. Throwing the Pokéball she had been fondling fondly for a while now, she screamed a simple, “Blaze! Use Ember!”
The small chicken Pokémon appeared in a burst of harsh red light, eyes angered and poised to fight. With a shrill “Torchiiiiiiic!” it released a barrage of fire into the deep grass, burning most of it away instantly and igniting what it didn’t. The entire area now harsh to the eyes amidst the blaze of fire, smoke prohibiting breathing and eyesight, May began to panic. Typically, in past affairs, she made sure she was well away from an area before destroying it. She’d have to remember to have a serious chat with Blaze later.
“My beautiful leg-flesh!” Brendan screamed as his head momentarily surfaced above the sea of burning grass, before being forced back down again.
“Damn it Brendan!” May growled as she realized the funding for her conquest would be cut short if half the team went missing. Keeping this in mind, she dove into the inferno after him, her Torchic following from a suicidally, if admirably loyal, close distance. Hitting the ground, she rolled so as to avoid any serious injuries, and then began searching through the burning plants. Shoving leaves and think tendrils of planet matter aside, she finally came across to a small patch of clearing that existed solely beneath the grass, a small hollow hidden away from the sun above, but not the inferno around them.
Here she found Brendan playfully trying to get a bone away from a small black dog Pokémon.
“You moron!” she screamed. “Do you not see what is going on around you?!”
“Sure don’t!” Brendan cheerfully shrugged. “I’m playing tug-of-war with the newest addition to my party, Barky Brendan. He and Squirt get along so well!”
“You named that dog… after yourself?” she asked.
“Barky Brendan is more like a wolf, actually,” Brendan mused.
“And you’ve failed to realize you’ll probably die soon if we don’t escape?” May demanded. Just to emphasize the point, a burning log crashed into the ground next to Brendan and the small Poochyena.
Brendan scratched his chin for a moment. “It didn’t occur to me, since having fun is what matters. Say, do you think I should grow a goatee?”
“What? No. Now help me figure out a way to escape befo-“
“Hear me out!” Brendan demanded. “I know it would look weird if just I got it, but if you got it, it could be, like, a thing, you know? We could make a club, you know?”
“No, I do not.”
“Chill out, May! My gosh, you need to take a chill pill!”
“Somewhat hard to considering we’re literally trapped in a nice hollow in the middle of a burning forest,” May growled as she examined the burning grass for a way out.
Her thoughts were interrupted as several more burning trees broke as well, collapsing right into the hollow…
“Mom? Dad?” a hollow, pathetic voice rang out. After a brief pause, the owner of voice was racked with violent coughs.
“Mom?!” it cried out.
“Dad?!” it sobbed.
“Damn it!” it tearfully spat. “I’ll have to try again, I guess…”
“…And in other news, Route 101 has recently been completely burned. The wildfire has spread in several directions, and shows no signs of stopping. This is the second most devastating thing to occur this week and fourth most devastating tragedy since the Red Wars ended five years ago. Local firefighters are currently attempting to stabilize it to no success. The cause of such a fire is undetermined, but whoever started it will be severely punished. 2 confirmed dead; one male and one female, both aged approximately ten years of age, not to mention hundreds so far of catalogued Pokémon fatalities…”
Brendan’s hand lazily found a suitably sized object and hurled it in the general direction the noise was coming from. The sudden quiet told him he hit his mark. Finally, he worked up the motor functionality to open his eyes, to discover the two of them in a cheap 70’s motel room, both in separate beds. He sat up and stretched as he watched May sleeping, her head firmly implanted into the pillow she had.
“That was weird,” he groaned, rubbing his aching head. May slowly opened an eye and pulled herself up.
“Ugh…. we’re supposed to be dead…” She cast a slow glance across the room. “Either Hell got refurnished, or we’re not dead.”
“I vote for being alive,” Brendan muttered as he realized, to his pleasant surprise, that both Squirt’s Pokéball and Barky Brendan’s Pokéball were firmly secured to his belt.
May rubbed her head. “So we should be dead. Right. Got that. It’s the fact that we’re not I’m having trouble coping with. Do you actually have any of these ‘chill pills?’ I want to lie down, I have a terrible headache.”
Brendan groggily turned to stare at her. “You’re kidding, right? ‘Chill pills’ aren’t real. You’re so un-hip your pants are going to fall off.”
May scowled. “What does that even mea?!” she demanded.
Brendan shrugged. “Why don’t we go outside this motel, maybe up to Route 103 and relax for a bit?”
May scowled. “We’ll be conquering, thank you very much, and it will be controlled.” She glared down at her Pokéball for emphasis.
Brendan shrugged. “So long as we get to Lilycove, it makes no difference to me.”
“Yeah. Big city on the coastline to the north-east of here. They’re having a sale going for 100,000 hours on all beauty products. That’s why I’m here. That, and Birch’s greed.”
May furrowed her brow. “Seems arbitrary…”
“Only entirely,” Brendan shrugged.
“Whatever. Let’s just get some breakfast and get on with it.”
Having replenished their hunger with a bountiful breakfast of oranges, toast, and something not legally able to describe, the two set off once more through the town, noticing something strange.
“May,” Brendan hoarsely whispered. “Are you noticing this too?”
“Noooo,” May said, rolling her eyes. “I am n idiot. Tell me what you see.”
Brendan blinked in surprise. “Well, it’s just that everyone-“
“Yes, Brendan, I see,” she hissed.
What she saw was as follows;
Oldale Town, as they discovered the name of the town was called, was once a sleepy little village with but a few small abodes. Then the name of commercial tourism took hold of the town, and it was swept in cheap motels. However, this ha done major flaw; without any tourists, restaurants, locale, local scenery, residents, or anything, most of them motels crushed themselves. These days, Oldale Town is but a small town with a few cottages and the last remaining motel in the entire Hoenn region. There was also one other quirk;
Everyone wore a paper bag over their head. A brown paper bag, the kind you’d put groceries in. The front of each was decorated with an extremely crude drawing of a face done in crayon or marker.
“What a boost to my self-esteem,” Brendan sighed mightily.
“Hello, foreigner,” a friendly man said. Normal looking enough, he wore a floral-printed button-up shirt with baggy khaki shorts and sandals. On his paper bag was a smiling face that was almost disturbingly cheery. “How can I help you?”
“Actually,” Brendan noted. “We [i]do[/I need some Pokéballs. How much?”
“Free, foreigner!” the man decreed< handing them several Pokéballs to each of them.
May snarled. “I’ll enjoy killing you most,” she muttered.
“Me too!” the man begged as he removed the mask, only to reveal an identical paper bag underneath, this one, however, boasting a crying face.
“May, we should head north,” Brendan said. “Route 103 should be some good training for little Blaze and Squirt, not to mention Barky Brendan.”
“I suppose so,” May said wistfully, avoiding the gaze of these strange people. She shuddered. Not with fear, she assured herself. It’s chilly.
Stepping out of the north gate, they came into a small route, ending in a dead end in front of them, and a grand river to the east. Sighing, they both relaxed on a small field.
“No war conquest?” Brendan asked. May shrugged.
“Blaze needs to learn,” she said simply.
“Speaking of which, I was thinking,” Brendan began as he started toying with a Pokéball. “What would be a better way to train our Pokémon than a battle?”
May toyed with the idea. “You’re on,” she said with a sense of finality, throwing a Pokéball to the space before her. “Blaze, prepare to destroy!” she called.
“Tor…. TORCHIC! TORCHI, CHICI, TOOOOR!” screamed Blaze with a salute to May.
“Uh…. yeah, Squirt, let’s go!” Brendan called as he sent his own Mudkip forth.
“Mud…. kip,” Mudkip proposed thoughtfully.
“I am guaranteed a victory,” Brendan sighed beautifully. “I have the type advantage.”
“Torch. Chic. Toooor…. chiiic,” the Chick Pokémon commanded to the Mud Fish.
Squirt shook his head. “Kip,” he cooed.
“Chi, torchi, chic!” Torchic screamed in fury.
“Mud. Mud kip. Kip kip…. mud.”
“TOOOOOOOORCHIIIIIIIC!” Torchic screamed as she leapt into the air, cawing madly. “TORCH! CHIC! TORCHIC TORCHIC TORCHIC!”
“Kip,” smiled the Mudkip.
“Any idea whet they’re saying?” May muttered.
“Vaguely. Birch taught me some things… like that what Torchic is saying has no place on a work of fan fiction that is rated but PG-13, and Mudkip is pretty much saying “Mud” or “Kip.”
“huh,” May said. “Anyway, Blaze, Ember!” Torchic gave a sharp nod before leaping into the air. “Tor!” it cried as it shot a well-refined ball of fire towards Mudkip.
“Mudkip, dodge it and counteract with Bite!” Brendan called. Squirt expertly leapt out of harm’s way before leaping towards Blaze, where it latched on with surprisingly sharp fangs.
“What?! I know little of Pokémon, but I’m pretty sure Mudkip can’t learn that!” May called out in anger.
“It requires breeding,” smiled Brendan.
“Wha-?! You’re sick! Wipe that smile off your face,” she spat in retaliation.
Brendan’s face turned to shock as he revisited what he just said. “Oh, uh, not like that. See, you can-“
“Hey guys!” said a familiar voice as yellow hair poked through the bushes.
“Hi Reggie,” May said pleasantly.
“Reggie… you made it…” Brendan sighed in defeat.
“Yeah. I almost thought you guys were trying to lose me. Ridiculous, right?”
“Yeah….” muttered Brendan.
“Anyway, the fire made it hard to get here, but here I am!” Reggie declared triumphantly.
Brendan narrowed his eyes. “Hey, Reggie, would you like to battle us?”
“Two-on-one?” Reggie spluttered. “Seems hardly fair…”
“Surely you have two Pokémon?” asked May innocently.
Reggie sighed. “All right. Go, Skraaaaw and Nincada!”
Skraaaaw, the green gecko from earlier, as well as a smaller, bug Pokémon appeared in an explosion of harsh red light. The bug Pokémon was a light, pale grey and was fairly ordinary-looking, having agile, thin back legs and powerful darker claws up front. Its luminous green eye looked around nervously.
“Prepare to die!” May said. “As, you know, a friend! Torchic, Ember!”
“Squirt, Water Gun!” Brendan called as well.
“Scratch, both of you!”
As the Chick Pokémon leapt into the air once more to fir more fire, Nincada was far more agile and crashed into it, attacking it with a fury of quick swipes in quick succession. As Mudkip prepared to fire a powerful water blast, the Treecko landed expertly on the ground next to it and slashed it with one of its hidden claws.
“Squirt!” Brendan cried. “Tackle, now!” The Mudkip recovered instantly, and threw its entire weight at Treecko, which was enough to throw the poor gecko to the ground.
“Follow up with Water Gun, now!” Mudkip obeyed instantly, unleashing a torrent that knocked Treecko to unconsciousness.
May, however, was still having troubles with the Bug-type. “Torchic, hang on!” she cried desperately, as Blaze stood its ground, attempting to endure every succeeding swipe with increasing difficulty. A small burst of water knocked it off, however.
“Thanks,” May grinned. “Finish it, now! Use Ember!” Obediently, Torchic unleashed a blast of fire, ending Nincada’s chance of victory.
Reggie smiled a good-natured grin of relief. “Well, that was fun,” he said as he recalled his Pokémon. “Wanna head back to the Pokémon Center?”
May stared at him. “Do you recall what happens when you lose a battle?” he asked simply.
Reggie blinked before the tube sock hit him over the head.
“Neat,” May said as she and Brendan began rummaging through his pockets, finding a sizable amunt of cash. “What’s in that sock?”
“Butter,” grunted Brendan as he began ringing.
May began ringing too. “Why am I ringing” she asked.
Brendan reached into his pocket and withdrew a phone-like device. “Probably your Pokénav. Birch wants a three-way conversation, so pick up.” He watched as May did so before addressing the professor. “Ahoy,” he said cheerfully.
“My bank account smiles at you,” Birch’s merry voice said over the machine. “Gurray, and all that. I’ve transferred your first winning on over, and my, this is a good start. Too bad it took you a week.”
“A week?! We’ve been unconscious for a week?!” Brendan demanded.
“I heard you were dead myself,” Birch said helpfully.
“Since when did I have a phone?” May asked.
“I slipped it into your pocket when you were unconscious,” Birch said irritably, as if the answer should be obvious. “So, I got so hungry that I ate part of my secretary’s chair, so I have splinters in my tummy. I have to go, but thanks again!”
The line cut off.
“Well, this makes for a good day so far,” Brendan said merrily.
Then a small rock crashed into the ground behind them.
May turned around sharply. “What is that?!” she asked. The rock was blue and orange, with a purple crystal embedded in the center of it.
It began slithering off the rock. The blue and orange slime turned into the shape of a person, the purple crystal embedded in its heart. Its head sharply looked up, looking into the eyes of May and Brendan.
“Torchic, Ember!” May called timidly. The thing radiated pure fear. The subsequent fireball hit it, richocheting immediately into a small patch of grass. The thing stepped forward, grass beneath its feet dying instantly.
“Squirt, Water Gun!” Brendan called. A gash on its ‘head’ spawned an eye, that stared right at her threateningly. Mudkip shot out several bursts of water at it, but none seemed to register with the figure. It reached out a desperate hand, before disappearing completely.
“Let’s skedaddle?” offered Brendan.
“Skedaddle,” agreed May.
Back on Route 103, a lone figure stood on the highest perch. This wasn’t saing much, however, as this was the shortest known route to exist, and the highest perch was a mere three feet higher than all the others. Regardless, his very presence stirred the natural elements. He should not be here. H should not exist in the mortal plane.
And yet… he was.
The very basic components of the earth hated this. Wind lapped at his black, torn cape, blowing it fiercely in the wind. His wide-brimmed black fedora masked most of his facial details when coupled with the large blacks sunglasses and scarf that covered his mouth and nose, leaving very little to the eye. However, he was wearing a sharp black suit with fashionable shoulder pads. So what if I shouldn’t be here? he reasoned. Might as well look fashionable while doing it.
He leapt off the ledge, landing in the soft, spongy grass with enough impact to form a small crater. It didn’t take long until he found what he was looking; across the patch of tall grass that separated him from the densely forested area beyond was scorched with burns, yet still somehow moist.
“A fire-type and a water-type fought here… but not with each other,” he determined to himself, examining the remnants of the battle. “And the other Pokémon here would not cause such a fight…”
Something out of the corner caught his eye. Turning to it, he saw what he came for. A small, barely noticeable crater in the ground, a small wisp of steam being the only indicator to show how unnatural it was.. It was so small ‘crater’ was a hardly justifiable term; ‘imprint’ would be more sound.
Regardless, he stepped forward, and scooped the small, hand-sized meteor into his hand. “Perfect,” he sighed.
Flufflebuns was back. And soon they would know.