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Thread: Refinery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    Default Refinery

    Summary: The world is a big, mysterious place to Jon. He's going to make it his goal to change at least part of that, but first he has to do this Pokedex thing. One step at a time, right?

    So yeah, an OC fic. The title is a bit meta, but I don't really want to explain more than that.


    I followed Crasher Wake around for probably an hour before we ran into a good strong Pokémon.

    It wasn’t that some of them weren’t good enough to protect me. An Arbok once crossed our paths, and Mr. Wake barely put a hand out to stop me before I walked onto its long tail. He let out one of his Pokémon, a great big Croconaw, and I don’t think that Arbok would’ve liked me very much after that anyway.

    And there were the Quagsire and Bibarel too. They’re strong, but definitely not smart enough to keep from accidentally hurting me. I think it sort of hurt Mr. Wake to avoid giving me a water type, because when we saw a Bibarel quietly gnawing on some wood he steered us in the opposite direction and didn’t say anything.

    At one point we even saw a Noctowl snoozing on a tree branch. But apparently Noctowl are only loyal if you raise them from a Hoothoot, and I certainly wouldn’t have the time to raise a baby if I was trying to catch wild Pokémon.

    After seeing a fifth Yanma zoom by, I tried to convince my mentor to get one for me. He wasn’t having any of it, though, and lectured me to only trust a Pokémon you can understand, or something. Sometimes he says stuff I don’t understand.

    After that I just kept quiet and waited for him to find something he liked. I hoped that he didn’t want to get me a Tangela or a Psyduck; those Pokémon were kind of lame. Instead, maybe a Toxicroak, the mascot of our town, or a Kecleon to play games with and to help catch Pokémon with surprise.

    Finally, after about twenty years of wandering and collecting mud on my trekking boots, Mr. Wake stopped for a Pokémon. As soon as I realized we wouldn’t be fighting off and running away from a Gyarados or whatever, I got pumped. I peeked around the Gym Leader’s sizable bulk and saw what would be my first Pokémon.

    A puny Croagunk caught out in the open, dozing off. He (for my first Pokémon would always be another guy, in my mind) had some scuffs and a couple oozing stinger wounds on his arms, but was obviously in good enough shape to be running around. I could see the lean muscles under his skin, and remembered the time I saw one completely throw a Carnivine that had tried to trap it.

    I knew I shouldn’t have, but I interrupted my mentor, Mr. Wake, in his efforts to catch the Pokémon. I hurled a handful of mud at it, and like a charm the muck struck right on his nose.

    The purple frog was immediately up, and he made this threatening croak from the back of his throat that almost made me regret waking him. Before I could, though, Mr. Wake had hit him with a park ball, and after a small couple of wiggles it stopped shaking.

    Of course, on the way back I got lectured. Not only for throwing mud at a wild Pokémon, but also about how to take care of my new responsibility. Make sure he eats, be careful of his mild poison, blah blah… most of this stuff was learned in trainer school, and everybody who was a citizen of Pastoria knew all about Croagunk.

    I couldn’t wrestle with him, but we could play just about any game if I spent the time to teach him. Croagunk are very independent, and will find their own food when they’re hungry and even come back to you. There were grasses and herbs that grew in the wild that could remedy a case of Croagunk poisoning, if mixed well. There’s more, but it’s all so boring unless you have one of your own.

    Before I knew it, I was out the door of my house for possibly the last time. My brain skipped a step for a second, and everything felt very surreal. I imagined walking back into town, taller, cooler, with a bunch of trained Pokémon, and handing Crasher Wake my Pokédex before heading home and regaling m family with stories of my travels. A hard poke from my side snapped me back to reality, where I had to go walking into the tall grass and apply all that I knew.

    With the three poke balls I was freely given and a Croagunk strutting by my side, I felt pretty darned invincible. I grinned and thrust my hands into my pockets, and walked out the town gate whistling a tune to a song that was made of freedom and joy.


    Chapter One

    ~“Okay Croagunk, get ready.” I warned my Pokemon. The blue muscles on his blue arms and legs were tense. He knew the game plan, but I was still stressing out over small details; what if the birds heard him running through the grass? What if he tripped up? How could I hit just one bird with the stone in my hand?

    Regardless, I began to size up the shot. With adrenaline shooting through my system, I slowly brought my arm back and up, now aiming for the nearest of the small birds.

    With a small grunt, I hurled the rock forward as hard as I could. It arced majestically through the air, and my vision tunneled in on it. Before it even began its downward curve, however, the birds knew something was wrong.

    With unnatural senses, many of the birds took off and got out of the way. However, I could see that it wouldn’t help one of the gaudy Pokemon, for it was on a direct-route intersection with the jagged shard.

    I cheered Croagunk forward as the rock hit Chatot on the side of the head. The bird was probably shocked at its bad luck as it began falling through the air, spinning in small tight circles. Croagunk was trampling through the grass to get to the bird, but I knew it was over anyway.

    I ran ahead of my Pokemon, easily outspeeding him with legs at least twice as long as his own. With my sneakers squeaking on the short, wet grass, I caught up to the little patch of grass where my Chatot had landed.

    I pulled a miniature Poke Ball out of my jeans pocket and pressed the button in the middle. The little bird Pokemon, small enough to stand comfortably in my hand lay dazed on the grass, not yet recovered enough to evade me. I carefully picked it up and tapped it against my poke ball, and it captured like a charm. Later, I’d pull out my shiny Pokedex and input some data for it, if it wasn’t already filled.


    The sun was up and bright, and I was still walking the beaten path. My socks were a gross grey and green from the morning’s grass, but I continued anyway, because that’s how trainers were.

    I’d passed the lake a while ago, where some other kids had challenged me to Pokémon battles. I had begged off of them, saying that my Pokémon were already hurt from the wilderness, but the truth is I just don’t like battling very much.

    Wiping some sweat off of my forehead, I looked around me to at least know where I was. It looked like I was just starting to get back on the path to civilization, because there ahead of me started the rocky terrain that led to Veilstone City.

    But then something else caught my attention. Off into the tall grass, there was a weird brown animal just chewing at the grass. The reason I noticed it, besides its obnoxious eating noises (even Pokémon usually chew with their mouth shut!), was the second, much bigger head it had trailing where its behind should be. Despite being in its direct line of vision, it didn’t notice me, and I crept up on the silly-looking Pokémon with my Pokédex out.

    Once I got within range, the little computer piped up. “GIH-RAFF-AH-RIG, THE LONG NECK POKÉMON.”

    Before even the second word had got out, the stupid Pokémon was off and running away. I pouted at the shiny red computer, which was giving me the option to input data. Maybe I could have, if the dang thing wasn’t so loud and obnoxious.

    Whatever I told myself, though I wanted a Girafarig. Wake had given me three poke balls to start out with, and for Pokémon that were too flighty they had to be caught before anything could be added to the Pokédex. That Pokémon was certainly of the scaredy-cat persuasion, but it was nothing a good catcher couldn’t handle.

    I appreciated some of the tips I had learned from other trainers. Occasionally a bug catcher would pass through in Pastoria, and when all us kids crowded them and stared in awe at their Pokémon they would sometimes tell us how they caught their prey. The rock thing had been one of their ideas, although I doubt I could find a net big enough for a Girafarig.

    I decided I would camp out on the grey-red rock tonight, because it was safer and the thought of bugs crawling on me while I slept gave me shivers. After I’d rolled out my sleeping bag and bitten off some jerky, I convinced Croagunk to come outside and sleep on the ground with me, for warmth.

    Before I went to sleep, I made sure to check out my newly caught Chatot. Over time it had regained enough sense to understand that it was a trainer’s Pokémon now, I guess, because it didn’t immediately fly away once I let it out. It did stumble on its feet a bit, but it was alright because it was only on my lap.

    I pulled out my Pokédex and looked it up. After the grinding mechanical voice filtered out, I saw that there was practically no data on Chatot. Using some rough measurements that involved a squinted eye and lifting it a few times, I input the curious Pokémon’s height and weight into my Pokédex, as well as a couple simple physical characteristics. I would take a picture of it in the morning, but for now it was getting dark and that silly Croagunk had begun snoring beside me.

    After making sure to return the bird Pokémon, I rolled over and tried to calm the nerves of my first day enough to get to sleep.


    I tried to pull my blankets up over my head, but it wasn’t working. They had to be trapped under my feet then, but lifting them didn’t help. Opening my eyes, I went through a second of vertigo before realizing I was outside, and the sun was up, and I was most definitely not in my bed.

    As I pulled the sleeping bag off myself, I heard a crunching noise. I looked over and saw Croagunk, though, over near the tall grass back where we came from.

    I called to him, but he ignored me and another crunching noise came from his direction. After walking over, I saw that he was hunched over and eating a purpling Bidoof corpse. The cracking noises were the bones being snapped.

    Slightly nauseated, I backed up and decided that breakfast could wait. Instead, I let out Chatot and pulled out my Pokédex again. I snapped a few pictures of the tiny bird in a few poses, including a cute one of it with its head under its wing and still asleep. These pictures would be available to anyone with an updating copy of the Pokédex, and this sort of work was the reason why I had been able to go on this adventure.

    I shared a bite of my jerky with the Chatot afterwards. She didn’t really trust me, but had no problem eating broken bits of dry meat out of the palm of my hand.

    We packed up and left. For all the excitement I had, this routine was really dull. There were a couple other Pokémon I could expect to see before I got to another town, but the one I wanted to catch was Girafarig. Over the course of the morning and afternoon, I had convinced Chatot to perch on my shoulder without flying off, and Croagunk had ‘helped’ me find some new additions to the Pokédex. After using my last antidote on a suffering Kricketot, I gently told Croagunk that I had all the data I would need today.

    But despite what I told my froggy friend, I kept walking slowly through the grass and scanning nearby, hoping to catch another Girafarig having a nap. The sky was orange before I gave up and accepted a challenge from a loud bug catcher. If there were any Pokémon in a mile radius of us, he definitely scared them off with his screamed battle commands and action noises.

    With my Chatot safely back into its poke ball, the shocked trainer handed me a few bills and ran off towards Lake Valor. Just a week ago I would have been there at the Pokémon Center, ready to hear about how he once barely escaped a family of Vespiquen or a Burmy used his supplies as shell material. It’s funny what a little perspective does.

    I decided to go as far as I could towards civilization as I could before setting up camp. The road was slowly getting more defined, as we approached a common exit point. Once my legs ached too much to keep going, I crumpled myself onto some packed dirt by the roadside and let out Croagunk. He swung his head around, ready to protect me from whatever.

    “Hey Cro, go grab some dry firewood okay?”

    He sort of turned his head at me. He probably didn’t even know what I meant, so I picked up a loose branch beside me on the ground. “Like this, see. But grab an armload or two, so we can be warm tonight.”

    He gave me two clipped croaks for a positive and then lumbered off into the sparse tree line. I could already see him picking up sticks, so there was no worry about not having enough.

    The fire seemed to revitalize Chatot, who had been snuggled into a nest in my rolled out sleeping bag. He tweeted a pretty little tune for us, and I whistled the same one I had the other day. We roasted some of the poison-free Bidoof meat and shared between us, letting Croagunk have the purple stuff.

    From the bushes, I heard a rustling. I let out a most assuredly man scream, and I would have gone and beaten the source of the noise with my bare hands if Croagunk had not been standing in front of me.

    Peering at the offending tall grass from behind my too-small bodyguard, I noticed that it wasn’t a crazy murderer who would eat my fingers like bananas; in fact, it was only a wild Pokémon. No taller than myself, the Girafarig shuffled into view.

    I whipped out my Pokédex and caught a picture of the Pokémon before it could escape, but it didn’t seem interested in me. Instead it was subtly nudging towards Chatot, as if the bird wouldn’t notice the comparatively gargantuan giraffe sidling up to it. It poked the Bidoof meat that Chatot was chowing down on, and tried to catch Chatot’s eyes.

    It was about then that I noticed something. Two things, actually; this Girafarig was too small to be out on its own, and its ribcage was visible against the orange firelight.

    Immediately I returned Croagunk to his poke ball and grabbed my Chatot in one hand. In the other I had hastily grabbed my sleeping bag, and I was marching off into the grass before the young Girafarig could look up from the Bidoof meat.

    Chatot gave an indignant squawk, but I shushed her. “We had to get away from it. When people are too close to a Pokémon’s young they get attacked by the angry parents.” I tried to explain it, but Chatot still gave me the cold shoulder. Better that then a hoof-shaped indent on my prettiest and only-est face, though.

    Once we were far enough away, we set up camp again. I returned Chatot to be safe, and went to sleep camouflaged with my green sleeping bag in the grass. Conveniently, my tummy rumbling kept my mind off the fact that any Pokémon could come up and steal all my stuff without a problem during the night. I dreamed of delicious pumpkins full of Ledyba who all yelled at me about getting a hobby.
    “Well if you’re going to act like a reptile you can find success all kinds of ways. Lie, cheat and steal your way to the top if you don’t care for the well-being of those around you.”

    A boy and his frog, venturing across the lands in search of sister and glory.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    In the Area of Johto


    Ehh... so this is your second fanfic on here right?

    Overall, I am curious on why the protagonist chooses to hang out with Wake. Is it because he/she is related to Wake in some way? And not bad on the prologue and first chapter. Your way of words are fine though, and I wonder on how that person will overcome with his first Pokemon. I subscribed to this thread, since it kept my interest the whole time.

    But, try to show on what kind of person the protagonist a bit more. I mean, he/she lives in Wake's place, lives near Lake Valor, and is an amateur in terms of starting battles. I assume that the protagonist is around eleven right? But what does the protagonist look like? Age? Gender? But it's good though.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by Quilava42 View Post
    Ehh... so this is your second fanfic on here right?

    Overall, I am curious on why the protagonist chooses to hang out with Wake. Is it because he/she is related to Wake in some way? And not bad on the prologue and first chapter. Your way of words are fine though, and I wonder on how that person will overcome with his first Pokemon. I subscribed to this thread, since it kept my interest the whole time.

    But, try to show on what kind of person the protagonist a bit more. I mean, he/she lives in Wake's place, lives near Lake Valor, and is an amateur in terms of starting battles. I assume that the protagonist is around eleven right? But what does the protagonist look like? Age? Gender? But it's good though.
    Yes, this is! Though this is the first chaptered fanfic I've ever written.

    I don't reaally want to answer questions about Wake, since that should be the job of the story, but it's a safe bet that he won't be popping up again for a long time and these are questions about the beginning. The leader helping new Trainers is a common idea in Pokemon fanfiction, and I went with that here. That's the simplest answer, and I apologize for not having made it very clear in the writing.

    There's a similar sort of thing for the appearance. I'll spare you the details, but Jon's perspective is fairly narrow, and from the sounds of it he hasn't had much reason to think of his appearance recently. I understand that it makes it more difficult for the reader, though, and I'll try and make it more accessible.

    Thanks for the feedback!
    “Well if you’re going to act like a reptile you can find success all kinds of ways. Lie, cheat and steal your way to the top if you don’t care for the well-being of those around you.”

    A boy and his frog, venturing across the lands in search of sister and glory.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008


    Chapter two.


    Thankfully, I woke up today not to any crunching sounds. On the other hand, there was a wild Pokémon sitting in front of me, staring right at me.

    On reflex I tried to scramble away, but the sleeping bag tangled me up and I just ended up slamming my head painfully into the cold, uncaring earth. I groaned. Because I wasn’t attacked immediately, it looked like this Pokémon didn’t want to hurt me. Upon further inspection, it turned out to be the same Girafarig from yesterday.

    Wish I could say that it took a lot of consideration to decide on not running away from it again, but it was kind of pathetic. The effort of getting out of my warm sleeping bag and the thought of walking around gave my feet phantom aches, so I just pulled the covers up as close to my face as I could and tried to go back to sleep.

    The giraffe was having none of it though. It nudged me, lightly at first, but then with enough power to roll me onto my front. I let out a yelp and continued to roll, away from the cruel Pokémon. When it cantered quickly over to me I sort of freaked out and jumped from my sleeping bag. I stood my ground, spreading my legs and putting my arms out to catch my balance for an incoming ram. But it just wanted to play, I guess.

    After it awkwardly nuzzled me, I lightly pushed the Girafarig’s snout away from my vest and set about finding some breakfast. If the Girafarig followed me through the night and I woke up not dead, then its parents were obviously not around to murderize me.

    I let out Chatot and Croagunk before digging into some more boring jerky and trail mix. My water bottles were getting low, but there was an audible stream not too far away, as well as a great big city not two hours off. Between Chatot and the stray giraffe, I ended up only getting about half of my breakfast, but that was fine. I spent the extra time inputting data for Girafarig in the Pokédex; specifically about how the young were docile, and quite big. I even got a cute picture of it chewing a mouthful of jerky. I added a footnote about their obviously carnivorous diets, and left to find Croagunk.

    My absentminded purple friend was fighting wild Pokémon. I guess he liked battles, because he was leaving a trail of pitiful Pokémon out cold to follow him by. When I found him, he was punching the skull of a fearful Ponyta. After a minute it escaped the headlock, and sort of stumble-ran away.

    “Looks like you’re having some fun buddy. Want a real challenge?” I taunted him and cracked my knuckles. He gave me that odd look again, where he turns his torso to look at me differently. Without another thought, I rushed him, and we started a little wrestling match.

    After a few minutes of grappling and frantic hits, he had me under him and was backhanding the back of my head. “Okay, okay, uncle!” I pleaded with him, splaying my hands out in a sign of surrender. He let out a croak that sounded somehow pleased, and we both got up.

    It was a stupid idea, but we both had excess energy and the rest of the wildlife probably thanked me. I rolled my arm to get it back moving, and I carried Croagunk with my arm curled around him back to camp because he had a limp.

    Back at camp, Girafarig was running around trying to get Chatot off her head, but they seemed to just be messing around. Croagunk had dragged over one of the Pokémon he beat up earlier and was making a meal out of it. I had sat myself down on a conveniently chair-like rock, and I was examining the map I had sketched from the one in our old Pokémon Center. There was a list in my backpack of what Pokémon needed acquired data the most, but a lot of them were rare to see, let alone find in the wild. I had a path planned out, and a backup in case that failed, but otherwise I didn’t really think ahead.

    Looking up, I saw Croagunk making a grotesque puppet with the shell of the Kricketune he had eaten, and Chatot and Girafarig were just staring at his display with curiosity. I snickered when he played a mangled tune with its arm against its body, but it was really creepy to see its head swivel towards me. ‘He needs a hobby.’

    I decided to stop procrastinating and catch the giraffe. Walking up to her, I showed her the poke ball before tapping it against her forehead. Chatot, who had been perching on her back and teasing her tail-head, squawked and headbutted me in the chest, for all the good it did.

    Stooping to pick up the poke ball, I returned Croagunk and began the rest of the walk to Veilstone, soaked sneakers squeaking and Chatot chirping to all the waking birds in the forest on either side of us.


    The gate and its guards were imposing. They checked me thoroughly for weapons before I was allowed passed, and if I thought hard I could feel their gazes on my back. There was even a kid my age there, but he snubbed me when I tried to talk to him.

    The first thing I noticed when I stepped into the city major was the crowds of trainers. Well, that’s a bit of a lie; my eyes first homed in on the bright red roof of the Pokémon Center, dead ahead, but then I was swamped with people. A few had Pokémon out, but the practice was frowned upon. It was like a sea of colours.

    People of all persuasions were there. Of course, most people roaming the streets in the middle of the day were trainers, but these people were the most varied of all; from battle sashes to six-inch collars to pantaloons to winged caps, fashion and function blended into a mosaic in the downtown square of one of Sinnoh’s biggest cities.

    I began walking forward, staring at everyone. One boy had a chainmail vest on, and there was a girl leaning against a building with huge purple headphones that matched her Whismur’s coat. I began to feel underdressed, and ended up walking straight into someone’s back in my gawking.

    A comparatively average-looking girl yelled in my face, ice-cream halfway up her nose. “Hey kid, watch where you’re going!”

    “Um, oops. Sorry,” I raised my hands and she just stormed off. I continued in the direction of the white-and-red building, this time paying more attention to my steps.

    The inside of the Center was pretty much exactly the same as the one in Pastoria. There wasn’t a homey wooden sculpture of a Croagunk, but there were about five times as many trainers, just sitting around playing games or talking. The TV in the corner was blaring some talk show with serious-looking business men jabbering away, but the atmosphere was calm and friendly.

    I happily walked up to the help desk and gave my Pokémon to the nurse for general treatment.

    The guy behind the counter struck up a conversation almost immediately. “You look like you just started training, eh. Is it as much fun as you thought?” He shot me a friendly smile, and I found it to be infectious.

    “Yeah, it’s really refreshing. I never noticed it, but my old town was so stuffy...” It was hard to put into words how different everything was.

    “I travelled around for a bit too, in my day,” he continued. I wondered how this could be, since he looked barely older than me. “But I got a bit tired of it all, after a while. I got convinced by the nice hotel rooms though.” He shared a conspiratory wink with me.

    I solemnly swore to never sleep on a mattress again, and we both had a bit of a laugh. I was told that my Pokémon would be refreshed and recharged by evening, and I got some nice tips from the nurse on where I could stay the night in town. I thanked the man and left to explore the city some more.

    After an hour I found myself climbing trees in the park. There weren’t too many people here, a few kids with their parents and one guy playing with his Growlithe.

    Staring out on the city of Veilstone, I sat back in a tall tree and whistled along with the birds. Leaning back, I rested my head against trunk and closed my eyes. For a single moment, I felt utter bliss, at peace with the entire world.

    Then the ground decided to shake things up bit, if you get my drift.

    I almost fell out of my tree, I was so surprised. I thought it was an earthquake at first, but nobody was panicking in the city or anything. The cause soon became clear; a massive Tropius, at least four times as tall as me, was landing in the grassy clearing.

    “’The stage is yours, Big Ted. Do your thing!’” I quoted softly to Chatot, who had gone silent along with the other birds. Everyone else had left, probably not wanting to be so close to such an imposing Pokémon.I was pretty pumped about it, though.

    It was a bit foolhardy, I admit. But I wouldn’t take it back; jumping onto the back of a massive flying dinosaur makes a spectacular story, and would definitely beat out some bug catcher’s story about being tied up by a Metapod.

    I figured it would buck me off, or maybe fly up and try to shake me. What I didn’t expect was for the great beast to twist its long neck back towards me and snort. I could feel his strong muscles beneath my legs, and he shrewdly stared at my face until I felt suitably embarrassed.

    Not ready to be humiliated by an animal, however, I stood my ground on his back, and stared back until my eyes tunneled in on his helmeted skull.

    He startled me then with a chortle-y noise from deep in his throat. Through some weird muscle movements he soon had the back of my bulky vest clamped in his mouth, and he swung me around and softly dropped me onto the ground in front of him.

    Before I could turn around, he’d shaken his big ol’ head over me, and a bunch of bananas smacked me on the head. It felt like he’d dropped a bag of stones on me, but I knew that the fruit would soften and become delicious soon. I turned to face the giant Pokémon, he had already started taking off with his ridiculously long wings, and was in the air before I could say a word.

    “Thanks!” I yelled to his shape moving across the treetops. Once the long grass had settled down, the park was more or less quiet again. My blood was beginning to pump faster, in a delayed response to the stupid situation I’d literally thrown myself into, but I ignored it and spread out for a nap on the grass.

    When I woke up later, the sun had been out and bright for hours, and the heat was making everyone lethargic. I was no longer the only one laying out; there were a few trainers with their Pokémon stretched across the ground, and even Chatot had settled into a messy nest in my hair and was napping.

    My Pokémon gave me an idea, and heedless of its grumpy attitude at me waking it up, I went off looking for a way to pony up some money.


    Two hours later, I stood proudly at a hotel not too far from the Pokémon Center, poke balls back in my pocket, and handed over the money for an overnight stay. The man behind the desk probably thought there was something wrong with me, but I knew that the twigs and dirt would come out in the shower later.

    Really, the hard part had been finding a buyer. Pokémon bird eggs were delicious, and could be sold for a fair sum if they were identified and of a few certain species. Eventually one restaurant owner had agreed to buy the ten Hoothoot eggs, with the promise that I’d bring ten more tomorrow. That wouldn’t be any trouble.

    Pleased, I let out my rested Pokémon in my decent room and sat back with a soda to watch some TV. That nurse had been right, though; trainer hotels were dirt cheap, comfortable, and all you had to do was get a stamp on your trainer license and you could use a different one every night.

    But I still spent most of the night by the window, watching the night sky. I fell asleep in the armchair there, and I dreamed about my old favourite television show, and how much simple, mindless joy I got out of it.


    I figured that it was a great time to call my folks.

    The walk to the Pokecenter was pleasant this morning, as I basked in the early quiet. The sun wasn’t quite up yet, and the empty streets felt free. Only a jogger met me on the way, and we shared a nod that communicated how fine the world was to be awake before the world started moving again.

    Since it was still kind of early when I got there I went into a breakfast diner I’d seen yesterday. The girl behind the register was peppy. She must’ve been on her second triple-chocolate mocca frappuccino. “Hi there, what can I do for you?”

    It was nice to be treated like an adult; all my life, it was always my parents ordering for me when we’d go out to eat. “Good morning, Renee,” I eyed her nametag, covered in doodled hearts. “I’d like to have some tea, please. And some of those biscuits, too.” I pointed under the glass counter.

    Her smile looked natural, despite me not saying anything funny or cool. “How would you like to pay for that, sir?”

    I passed her my trainer card, and she slid it through the machine by the register. There was an amount paid into my account monthly that was just enough to squeak by. It was a generous scholarship from the Research Lab in Sandgem, and its renewal was dependent on the amount of data I inputted for the Pokédex.

    Of course, I could still get by without it; it would just mean a lot of wasted time, doing things like scavenging eggs or battling trainers. I don’t want to spend time doing any of that. My heart lies with researching Pokémon, and was why I’d come to Sinnoh in the first place. Just thinking of the undiscovered, the unexplained, and the unknown Pokémon I’d surely encounter gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

    While I was musing my modest breakfast had been placed at my table. The diner wasn’t completely empty, as I’d first thought; there was a businesswoman at one of the windows reading a newspaper, and an old couple sat in a booth playing a game of chess. The young woman behind the register was reading a magazine and had a pair of earphones in.

    I absentmindedly dipped my biscuits and drank my tea, watching it get progressively lighter outside. Veilstone, like most settlements in Sinnoh, was still blooming as far as industry goes. There was some quarry work being done east of the city, and a branch of pharmaceutical centers opened a few years ago, but most of the city’s business was still catered to trainers. A battle arena, a Poketch branch, trainer marts, and the rest were mostly domestic dwellings. Studying the region’s towns and cities was one of the boring parts of Training, but it was absolutely essential. That it would be on the tests didn’t make it any more fun to memorize the minutiae of frontier communities, though.

    For a moment, I sat comfortably in my chair, resting against the pale blue cushion and just leaning my head back into empty air. An explosion a block away shattered the calm. I didn’t understand at first. My tea cup rattled in its saucer. A split second of silence. Then a yell, and the sound of feet pounding down the street outside the window. I got up too, turning my head in the direction the feet had went. I left the diner, curiosity overtaking myself.

    It was obvious which building had been attacked. The blue roof of the two-story Pokemart could be seen through the smoke stemming from its back wall. There was already a group of people there when I’d run up, but they moved to let me see the damage. It looked like a bit of structural damage; the wall itself had been blown away by the blast, drywall left like jagged glass from a broken window. Inside, the store room of the building was visible, and some of the goods had obviously been damaged. However, there were still supporting beams perfectly fine, and if the two startled workers visible through the hole in the wall meant anything, nobody was hurt. The rubble that used to be the wall was still smoking, though, from whatever had caused it. It looked like there were scorch marks on the ground, but it was impossible to be sure with the rubble and the people in the way.

    I heard murmurs in the crowd. Before I could ask someone what was going on, however, a pair of police officers had jogged up from the far side of the street and they were pushing people back. “It could still be dangerous here,” said the younger one. “Please, go back to whatever you were doing, and let us investigate.”

    The murmurs just got louder, though. One brave woman, a trainer from the looks of her belt, stepped forward and loudly accosted the officers. “Hey! I deserve some answers!” She had walked over to the officer, only a couple inches taller than her, and set her hands on her hips. “I was in there, I coulda been killed!”

    The cops looked a bit nervous as the crowd grew, more people coming from their homes to see what was going on. “We’ve got to investigate what happened here before we can say anything. Watch the news or something, we can’t say anything for sure right now.” The older officer said, while looking at the news van pulling up on the opposite side of the road. Ignoring the media crew, the two officers turned to an arriving detective, whose hat was slightly askew, and began filling him in on the details. Somewhere I could hear another emergency vehicle heading this way.

    Uncomfortable with all the tension and murmuring, I left, and I wasn’t the only one. I hurried over to the Pokecenter, mind abuzz and nerves beginning to settle. After I called my parents, I would be leaving Veilstone immediately, it was obviously a dangerous place. But upon my arrival, I was shocked to find the door blocked by a tall trainer in a completely black uniform.

    “Hey, can I get past? I need to-“

    He interrupted me. “Buzz off. Or do you wanna start something?” He shot a yellow grimace at me. At the same time, his hand flashed to his belt, where I saw an ultra ball.

    His manners stank almost as bad as his breath, but I could see lean muscle underneath his black uniform. His leaning beret did nothing but enhance the shadows under his eyes, despite the bright day.“Uh, no. Whatever.” I turned sharply and walked down the street. There was another Pokecenter somewhere else in the city, and if this guy had a problem I could just go use that one. That’s what I told myself, but I was heading instead to the opposite end of the city, straight to northern exit. I snuck a backward glance at the tall thug in front of the doorway, but he was still standing there, just doing nothing.

    Turning onto a new street, I made up my mind. I let Croagunk out to walk beside me, and recited my plan to him. “Okay Cro, listen up. We’ll leave town now, and probably spend a few days finding Pokemon in the forest to the north. It’ll be your job to keep us stocked in food, and maybe we’ll have a little fun. Sound good?”

    He nodded and gave me a thumb up sign. Don’t know where he learnt that from, but it was kind of cool. I pulled out my sketchpad and continued explaining. “We’re probably going to run into some Pokémon a lot. Here, let me show you pictures…”

    And like that, we walked the rest of the way to the gate. It was kind of refreshing to have a plan once more, although I still couldn’t get the thought of the Pokemart from earlier off my mind. Was stuff like that common? Certainly not in Pastoria. My balance felt a little bit odd, like someone had given me a good shake and I hadn’t set my feet down solidly yet. The whole incident was swirling around in my head. There was a lot of the world that I still had to learn. I wasn’t sure whether I was intimidated or not yet.

    When we reached the gate, we stopped up short. Like the south gate, there were three guards, but unlike the south gate, they had shut the door, and the curtains were closed behind the window. There was a sign on the door that, upon closer inspection, read ‘Closed until further notice’.

    Frustrated, I kicked rocks down the roadside we’d been traveling on. This was so stupid; I couldn’t even leave, and the city was just looking more and more dangerous.

    I turned off and continued the other way. A few blocks away I knew there was the other Pokecenter, and I would just head there and find out what was going on.

    As I got there though, I noticed tension in the air. The door was wide open, which I’d never even heard of before, and so I carefully walked into the building.

    Both the computer terminals in the corner were occupied; trainers from the looks of them. There was only one other trainer here, and she was whispering with the nurse behind the counter. When I walked in, all four of them looked straight at me.

    “Hey. What’s wrong?” I directed my question at the nurse, but the short girl answered.

    “We got robbed is what happened. Some gang scum came in here with a gun and stole all the Pokémon before anyone even got here.”

    I was floored, to say the least. Crime was something that only happened in TV shows from Orre or Kanto, never in Sinnoh. The last incident I could even remember was a ditzy trainer forgetting to pay for their poke balls before leaving the store in Pastoria. My first thought of course was the police.

    “Have you called the cops yet?”

    The girl sent me a withering glare, while the other two trainers went back to their quiet conversations. “Of course we have, you idiot. They’re busy though, because a bunch of places got attacked all at once. If anything is going to get done, we the trainers have to do it, as usual.”

    “D’you…er…do you want any help? I’ve got some Pokémon, I could help look for the stolen ones with you.”

    The girl’s expression softened a bit. “The three of us are going to meet up with the trainers from the other center in an hour. Until then, if you want to help, you can tell anyone who comes here looking for their Pokémon what’s up. I know a guy at the station, I’m gonna go see how things are down there.” In her voice I could hear her resignation about how that would go.

    For the next fourty-odd minutes, I sat in one of the center’s plastic red chairs and repeated what I’d been told to strangers who walked in. Two more trainers, a girl and a guy, agreed to come with us. The rest were either unaffected by the robbery or crestfallen, and it really sucked to have to tell some little Jane Doe that her Poliwag had been taken, and James that he wouldn’t be able to bring his Burmy to school tomorrow. I felt rotten being the one to break the news, but someone had to.

    Eventually all five of us made our way to the southern center, and from there we spread out looking for a thieves’ den. We were searching in groups of two, and my partner was a boy whose Pokémon had been stolen from the southern center. His name was Corey.

    “Where do you think they went?” I asked, as we ducked out of a dead-end alley between a butcher’s and some fashion outlet. Beside me, the taller boy shrugged.

    “I have no idea. This isn’t just some small gang, though; I saw a group in uniforms like that before, in Cianwood a few years ago. They must be big if they’re all the way over here too.”

    My ears perked up at the mention of the Johto town, but I was disheartened at the news. If these robbers were working for an even bigger group, then who knew if they hadn’t already left the country, or something.

    “Do you think we’ll find them? It’s only been a few hours, maybe they just dumped the Pokémon in a building and left.” I said hopefully.

    Beside me, Corey just pursed his lips and answered a flat “Maybe.” We continued digging around, through junk and alleys, but after two hours we didn’t find anything.

    At the café that I visited this morning, we all met up again. The bossy trainer from before spoke up first. “We didn’t find anything from all the warehouses, although we skipped one or two.” Her partner was resting her hands on her knees and panting, which said a lot about the first girl’s fitness.

    My partner and I were searching for likely dump-sites. I could still smell rotten food from all the garbage we dug around in. “We didn’t find any signs of the Pokémon being dumped anywhere.”

    After us there were the reports of people who had gone snooping around the gates, at the bus company, and two pairs who had gone door-to-door. Nobody had any results.

    We tried to keep motivated but hope was leaving with the daylight. By the end of the unofficial search, all that I had was a rancid stench on my clothes and a tired back. I didn’t even go to the last meeting; the other boy went in my stead to tell them of our failure. I just headed straight to the northern gate, determined to be out of Veilstone by nightfall.

    In truth, I thought we had a pretty poor setup as it was. We waited too long to start, and searching alone, what are the chances of coming across some evidence? Even if we’d only used whatever Pokémon hadn’t been stolen, we might’ve been able to pick up a scent if there wasn’t such a rush to the Pokecenters. The detectives would be looking for evidence too, of course; we’d come across one while looking ourselves. But whoever those goons were, they made off quickly with the looted Pokémon, and they were too good for the Sinnoh’s sleepy police.

    At the gate I was let through easily. Between my ugly frown and the stench of trash, they probably took me for a homeless wanderer and didn’t even ask for ID.

    The natural beauty of the grass and the fresh wild scent came back to me like a treasured memory. For even just a minute, I forgot how badly I reeked and allowed myself to absorb the scent of nature. I took a deep breathe, and felt tension leave my shoulders from being out of the city. I released Girafarig, to let her walk along beside me while we went off the traveled path.

    As the trees became thicker and more common, sight of the rocky brown trail started getting obscured by creeping weeds. Heading steadily north, we eventually left the path altogether and now there were wild Pokémon around us who had not been conditioned to fear traveling people, and were curiously inspecting the loud travelers. Girafarig enjoyed herself immensely, and was cantering along at a clip that required me to jog. It was good exercise for both of us.

    “Hey, slow down! Let me catch-eww…” Girafarig had stopped ahead of me, and was looking down at her feet. I stopped too once I’d heard her splashing, but it took her longer to notice; now she had mud covering her up her entire legs, and she was hoof-deep in the gunk. She looked at me really pitifully.

    “We’ll worry about that later.” I told her, and returned her to her poke ball. Next I backtracked a bit. The marsh was an excellent place to find Pokémon, but would make for a horrible camp, and night was beginning to fall. An ideal place would have a bit of cover from overhead trees, but enough free ground to set up a fire safely. Before it got too dark, I let Croagunk out of his ball.

    “Hey bud, think you can flatten the ground here? We’re gonna camp out again tonight.” I mimed it by dancing around a little. I was happy to be out of town, but it meant trading away easy communication with those around me.

    Croagunk nodded his half-lidded eyes at me, and began working the grass around the mini-clearing of trees we’d stopped at. His webbed feet were small, but his muscles tensed when he walked and the grass stayed down. He could pack an area down fairly well, given time, though I did feel the slightest bit wistful to own a bigger Pokémon. A young Graveler would be perfect for something like this, and could help me a lot in stopping wild Pokémon long enough to get data. But Croagunk was my Pokémon, and he’d learn how to accomplish such things with time.

    While he was doing that, I went and gathered a bunch of fallen pine needles from trees I’d seen closer to the path earlier. The moss would be nice too, but chances are it would get soaked by frost in the morning, so a bed of pine would have to do.

    Perfect for things like this was the small mail-delivery bag I’d gotten a few years back. The material was a tough cotton, and the drawstring at the top let me carry almost anything I’d need that I could find while travelling, without having to drag around my larger backpack with its supplies. After it was full, I started looking around, aware of my stomach’s grumblings. In short order I came across a bush of very ripe berries. They weren’t bright red, but pale green and round, so I knew they were safe to eat. I stuffed a handful in my mouth, mindful of the sour tang, and grabbed the rest of the good-looking berries up into my hands carefully and headed back, keeping an eye out for any other edibles. A few herbs made it back with me, but there wasn’t much else to keep a human stomach fed with. My stomach grumbled sadly.

    Arriving back at camp, I stared enviously at Croagunk, who was digging into the corpse of a Hoothoot he’d snagged while I was gone. Underfoot the grass was flattened, and there was even a circle of dirt cleared free for the fire. It was unfortunate that it was too small and would require fixing, but nonetheless I thanked my little blue friend for his help profusely.

    The stars would soon come out and it would be too dark to see, so I released my two other Pokémon and rolled my sleeping bag out onto the pine covering. It was surprisingly soft, but I found it kind of hard to get to sleep with the sounds of three carnivores cracking bones and slurping and making all sorts of horrible noises as they ate their supper.

    A sprig of mint lay on my tongue as I drifted to sleep, and I dreamed of huge grey buildings leaning into each other to form a quivering mass that created a grinding orchestra of concrete-on-concrete.


    (Chapter three is also included in this, but they're both fairly short, so I thought it was fair to put both together.)

    I saw a mistake when I glanced through it, and now I'm paranoid to post this now. But I really have to study for the test tomorrow :X
    “Well if you’re going to act like a reptile you can find success all kinds of ways. Lie, cheat and steal your way to the top if you don’t care for the well-being of those around you.”

    A boy and his frog, venturing across the lands in search of sister and glory.

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