Welcome, one and all, to Heart of Crystal, a fictionalized version of a nuzlocke challenge of Pokemon: Crystal. If you are unfamiliar with the rules of the nuzlocke challenge, they are quite simple. 1. You may only catch the first pokemon you encounter in a route or area. 2. If a pokemon faints, it is considered dead and must be released or permanently boxed. 3. All pokemon must be nicknamed. Even if you are unfamiliar with the nuzlocke challenge, I still hope that you enjoy this story, and I appreciate the time you took to read it. With that, welcome once again to Heart of Crystal.
Two towers stood: one golden as the sun, the other silver as the moon, or so the legend went. But only the silver tower still stood. The golden tower gleamed too brightly, and its brilliance was finally melted away until only ruins were left. Or so the legend went.
But something was stirring. Eddies formed in sea and wind, unnoticed and soon forgotten. Something was happening, and the restless earth seemed to sense it.
Archer cared not for legends and stories. At the moment, he cared only for three things. The first was the glass of wine in his hand. The second were the three others sitting at the table, waiting for him to speak. The third…he gave a tiny smile and set his glass down on the table. The third was what he had called his former cohorts here for. The third would bring him everything he deserved, and restore everything he had lost.
"What's this all about, Archer?" Proton grumbled, sounding slightly irritated as he ran his thumb over the blade of an elegantly crafted knife Archer had imported especially for him. He had used it as incentive for Proton to actually show up this time, and he was pleased to see that it had worked. A Seviper's tail blade was a rare and expensive prize, and Archer preferred to waste as little money as possible. "None of us have heard from you in over three years."
"Patience, my friend." Archer said, raising a hand. "Did I not promise I would explain everything to you once you were all here?"
"Well, by my count, no one's missin'." Petrel interjected. "So what's the deal?"
Archer folded his hands together and leaned forward. "Gentlemen, lady," he said, giving a polite nod to Ariana, "I have a proposal for you."
"Kris! Get out of bed this instant! It's one thirty in the afternoon!"
Kris groaned and rolled over in her bed, pulling her blankets closer around her. The harsh winter light streamed in as her mom threw the curtains open. She continued to pace about the room, picking up clothes as she went and scolding Kris for never doing anything but sleeping as Kris slowly oozed out from under the blankets and rubbed her eyes until they stayed open.
"You'd better get ready quickly. Mrs. Lowe is coming over in a few minutes, and Professor Elm called for you about an hour ago."
"Huh?" Kris muttered sleepily, blinking in the light. "What does Professor Elm want with me?"
"He didn't say, and if you'd been awake at a reasonable hour, you'd know for yourself." her mother snapped, tossing a pile of clothes at her. "Now, get dressed, and if I don't see you downstairs in five minutes –"
"I'll be down, mom." Kris answered, giving a jaw-cracking yawn and stretching her arms over her head. "Promise."The doorbell rang, and Kris' mom ran downstairs to answer it. Kris gave another yawn, then pulled the clothes over and began to get dressed. She could hear her mother happily greeting Mrs. Lowe downstairs and rolled her eyes slightly. Maybe she did have a bad habit of sleeping in, but so what? It's not like there was anything better to do in New Bark Town. Kris had planned on going to Cherrygrove that day to do some shopping, but apparently that was going to have to wait. What could someone like Professor Elm want with her?
She sighed, rubbing her temples slowly in an effort to get rid of her throbbing headache. She knew it would be in vain –she'd had it for the past couple months –but today it seemed especially sore. Kris shook her head, trying to get her mind off of it, and went into the bathroom to brush her hair and teeth. A few minutes later, she made her way downstairs, hopping down two at a time. Bits of the conversation between her mother and Mrs. Lowe began to drift into focus.
"…absolutely terrible. Who knew Sentrets could be so violent?"
"Such a shame. I'm glad he managed to get away!"
"Me too. But he told me that this isn't the first time this has happened. Apparently, pokémon all over Johto are becoming more – oh, good afternoon, Kris!"
Kris smiled politely, pausing for only the briefest of moments. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Lowe." she said before disappearing into the kitchen. Her stomach rumbled as she rummaged through the refrigerator and gathered the necessary ingredients for a sandwich.
"Oh, Kris!" her mom called. "Your pokegear came back from the shop today! Do you need me to read the instructions to you?"
"Thanks, mom, I'm good!" Kris called back as she put the food back into the refrigerator.
Her mother, interpreting Kris' response as affirmation, continued to read anyway. Kris gave a tiny sigh, ignoring her and knowing that her mother couldn't see her in the kitchen. It didn't take long for her to finish, and Kris walked back out into the living room, holding her sandwich in one hand and chewing the first bite. "Did you get all that, hon?"
Kris swallowed and smiled. "Yep. I'm going to head over to the professor's when I'm done, okay?"
"All right, dear. And be careful if he sends you out, all right? Mrs. Lowe was just telling me that her son Ethan was attacked by a wild Sentret the other day. His Marill is in Cherrygrove Pokémon Center's urgent care, but we don't know if he'll make it."
Kris winced, her appetite suddenly gone. She'd heard stories about pokémon becoming more violent recently, but she'd never quite believed it. "I'll be careful, mom. I promise." she said, nodding and setting her sandwich down on the table. She'd finish it when she got back.
Her mother nodded as well. "All right. If you're going to be back after dark, call me, okay?"
"Will do. Bye mom!"
Kris shivered as she stepped outside. It was always windy in New Bark Town, and most houses had windmills on their roofs to capitalize on it, but the wind today was especially strong, and it bit into Kris' skin even through her coat. So much for winter nearly being over. She bent her head down against the cold hurried and in the direction of Elm's pokémon lab near the entrance to town.
A sharp gust of wind blew her cap off her head, and Kris chased after it with a cry. It blew around the corner of Elm's lab and she rushed to grab it.
"Hey, watch it."
Kris fell backwards with a small grunt, clutching her hat in one hand and rubbing her head with her other. She looked up and saw something she rarely saw in New Bark Town – someone she'd never seen before. Behind him, a small crate sat under one of the windows. Was he spying on the lab? "Sorry." she muttered as she got to her feet. "Who're you?"
"None of your business."
"No need to bite my head off." Kris grumbled. "Its not often there's a new face in town, that's all."
"Well, I don't like people staring at my face." he said angrily. "So go away."
Kris scowled. "What are you doing back here, anyway?"
"I said go away!" the boy snapped, stepping forward and shoving Kris back.
Kris stumbled back out onto the main street. Outraged, she glared at the boy and placed her hat defiantly back onto her head. Without a word, she turned up her nose and marched inside the lab.
Inside, the professor's assistant was scrambling around, climbing up and down ladders to put books back on shelves or take them off according to what Professor Elm called out. The professor himself was sitting at his computer at the back of the lab, occasionally calling out the name of a file or book he wanted his assistant to get for him. When the door opened, he looked up and clumsily shoved his glasses back to their proper place on his nose. "Kris? Is that you?"
Kris pushed the door shut and turned back around. "Yes, professor, it's me!"
Professor Elm smiled and stood up. "Mr. Lowe, could you fetch that thing we were talking about?" His assistant set down his tower of books and rushed into the back room, and Professor Elm turned to Kris. "I'm glad that you could come over on such short notice, Kris. I have a favor to ask of you. You see, I just got an email from my friend, Mr. Pokémon. He says he's made a serious discovery, and I think he really means it this time. The problem is that, well…" he trailed off, waving a hand around at the chaos that the walls of the lab barely seemed able to contain. "As you can see, with just the two of us here, it's rather busy. I'd like you to pop over to Mr. Pokémon's house and see what all the fuss is about."
Kris glanced back outside, then pulled her jacket a little tighter around her. "But Professor, what about the wild pokémon?"
"Well, of course I wouldn't send you out there by yourself." Professor Elm said, leading Kris over to a table with three pokéballs on it. "Not with the wild pokémon becoming so violent. Here are three pokémon you may pick from to accompany you on your journey. You'll be their first partner, but I assure you, any of them will be fine protection."
Kris looked curiously at the balls, each with a little picture on the table in front of them showing what the ball contained. "A pokémon? For me?"
"That's right," Professor Elm answered, smiling. "for you. I know you're responsible enough to care for it, and… well, to be honest, I just have a good feeling about it."
Kris looked over the pictures thoughtfully. A good feeling, huh? Well, she supposed worse decisions had been made on less. She ran her fingers gently over the pokéballs, wondering which one she should choose. The grass type was cute, but with winter not yet over, Kris worried about keeping it healthy. She didn't much like the look of the water type, either. That just left one more choice.
"Ahh, Cyndaquil! Excellent choice!" Professor Elm exclaimed. "Would you like to release him from his ball and say hello?"
Kris was already in the process of doing just that. As her new Cyndaquil emerged from his ball, Kris knelt down and offered her hand to him. "Hey there little guy…I'm your new trainer. My name's Kris."
The Cyndaquil looked up at her for a moment, then smiled and nuzzled into her hand. Professor Elm also smiled and Mr. Lowe came up to them. "Here, Kris – a Potion for your trip." he said, offering the small purple bottle to her. "In case things get a little hairy."
"Oh! That reminds me." Professor Elm said, digging through his pockets. "Here, let me give you my phone number. If anything happens, call me, all right?"
"All right, Professor." Kris said, handing him her pokégear. As the professor entered in his number, she turned back to her new Cyndaquil and gently patted his head. "Now, what should I name you? Hm…what about Teddy? Do you like that name?" The Cyndaquil grinned happily and nodded, and Kris pulled him into her arms. As he snuggled into her chest, Kris could feel the warmth radiating from his tiny body and couldn't help but grin. She finally had a pokémon of her very own! "Teddy it is, then."
"Here's your pokégear back, Kris." Professor Elm told her, handing it back. "Now, be careful, all right? If anything happens, you can come back here and heal up Teddy on this machine."
"I'll be careful, Professor." Kris promised, heading towards the door. "And I'll be back soon, don't worry!"
As she left the lab, she shivered again and held Teddy closer to her. "Burr…it's getting really cold. You okay to stay out of your ball, Teddy?"
Kris nearly dropped the tiny pokémon out of sheer shock. "Did…you just talk?"
"I've always been able to talk. You're just the only human who's ever talked back." Teddy said frankly, tilting his head at her.
"Wait, so does this mean you actually have a name? Why didn't you say anything?"
"I like the name you gave me better."
"Well, I mean…how come I've never heard any pokémon talk before? Can you all talk? Do you just not talk around people? Is there some great advanced society of pokémon that you keep secret from us? How come no one has ever been able to understand any pokémon speech and now – "
"Um, I hate to interrupt, but shouldn't we get going?" Teddy interjected. "It sounded like we were going a long way away."
"Well, not terribly far." Kris said, attempting to calm down. Her brain was having a difficult time wrapping itself around what was going on, but she didn't want to sound like an idiot and make a bad impression on Teddy. "But it will take us a while. Do you want to ignite your flame?"
"No, I'm fine. I like it better up here." Teddy answered, snuggling deeper into Kris' coat. "Really, I have no idea why you can understand me and other humans can't. Maybe you're just special."
"I doubt it." Kris sighed, rubbing her forehead again. She'd never been able to understand any pokémon before, and it didn't look like she would get any answers as to why she could now. Either way, it was probably best for her to keep it a secret for now. Professor Elm was nice and all, but who knows what kind of experiments she'd have to go through once he got word out to the scientific community? She smiled back at Teddy, relieved at the warmth the small pokémon was giving out, and decided not to worry about it any further. It was kind of cool, being able to understand her pokémon like this.
"Well, you can understand me. That makes you special to me."
Kris' frown faded into a gentle smile. "Thanks, Teddy. And for the record, I think you're pretty special too."