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Aiya Quackform
January 7th, 2005, 09:32 PM
PG for mild violence and war-related thematic elements. This is a re-release of my Fan Fic, "The One Drop". This is a dramatically improved and re-written version, and I hope you enjoy it! Constructive critisism and any other type of feedback is greatly appreciated on this thread. Also, I would like to give special thanks to Oni Flygon for his help with this re-write.

Chapter 1: The Meeting
Mari had been unable to keep her large storm-colored eyes off the diploma in her hands all night. She had received it earlier that day, and still couldnt believe that her two years at Pokemon Academy were finally over, and she was at her graduation ceremony. The small young lady seemed somewhat awkward under her blow-dried, curled, and stylized grayish blue hair that had all been piled onto the top of her head, which generally was out of her way in a simple ponytail. The overall effect made her think her head looked like a tornado. Her mother insisted that it looked lovely.

Hello, earth to Mari, said the white haired young man next to her at the round white table. He had apparently been talking to her while she was zoning out.

Oh, sorry, Spencer, she replied to her older brother. She looked over at his tall, slim figure and smiled sheepishly. Im just really excited, ya know.

The short, rosy-cheeked older man with balding grey hair across the table laughed until his round belly jiggled. Well of course you are! This is the night you get your starter, after all.

Yeah, Mari giggled. And tomorrow, Im going to Slateport. Slateport, Grandpa!

Well, thatll come soon enough, said Maris tall and dark middle-aged father. For now, enjoy the party!

Yes, enjoy yourself! the blonde mother chimed in. This is the last night before my baby goes off on her own, and Im going to enjoy myself. I cant believe shes already fifteen Her mothers blue eyes were about to get misty for the tenth time that evening when Grandpa Wattson mercifully intervened.

Oh, Tammy, its not that big a deal! he said to his daughter-in-law. Shell only be gone a year or two before she comes back home to Mauville to train to take over the Gym. Isnt that right, Mari?

Oh, uh, Mari gazed down at her plate of food. I guess Ill go back to Mauville eventually, but I dont really know when. Im not even entirely sure Ill take over the Gym.

Come on, now, Mr. Gym Leader, Spencer teased their grandfather. You of all people should know that Mari has to find what she wants to do. Not what you want her to do. He spoke with a laughing smile, but his point was serious.

Mari smiled gratefully at him, and he returned the gesture.

Yes, I know that, Spencer, Wattson said in his usual boisterous tone. But being a Gym Leader is something that trainers all over the world strive to be! Of course Mari wants to be the Gym Leader. Maybe not right away, but someday.

Uncomfortable with the conversation, Mari squirmed in her seat and felt the storm-colored curls surrounding her face, making sure that they were not falling apart. Avoiding eye contact with her family, she double-checked her embroidered long-sleeved lavender shirt and white pants for crumbs, and then turned her attention to the room. They were inside the Pokemon Academys expansive cafeteria, where a makeshift stadium with podium had been erected. There were dozens of round white tables and chairs scattered across the hardwood floor. The regular white lights in the ceiling had been made dim to emphasize the festive purple lighting that had been put up for the occasion, along with streamers, dance music, a small dance floor, and a buffet line complete with a bowl of red punch.

So, Mari, what kind of Pokemon do you want? her Dad asked. His deep, masculine voice was in sharp contrast to her own soft one.

Ugh! Dont ask. I dont have a clue.

Mari, youre going to have to choose your starter in less than an hour and you still dont know what you want?! Spencer said.

Well there are some benefits to choosing from only three starters! she complained. You dont have many choices to make. I have to pick from twenty-six!

Oh, yes, poor pitiful you, being forced to choose from twenty-six starters, Spencers voice dripped with sarcasm.

Mari was about to retort when a feminine voice addressed her from behind. Hello, Miss Donovan.

Craning her neck, Mari saw a tall blonde woman in her early thirties wearing a charcoal pants suit. Oh, Miss Electra! she stuttered, her heart racing for a moment. The woman was founder and Dean of the Academy. Uh, how are you?

Im fine Miss Donovan, thank you. Might I have a word with you in my office?

Uh, your office? Did I do something wrong?

Oh, no, not at all! Electra said reassuringly. Theres just a matter I wish to discuss with you in private.

Oh, okay, Mari replied uneasily. Standing up next to the towering Pokemon Master, Maris shortness was exaggerated to an uncomfortable degree. Without any further words, Electra turned around and began to walk out of the cafeteria. Mari shrugged at her family and left with her.

After a brief walk, they arrived at Electras office and entered. Inside in a chair in front of her desk sat a middle-aged man with dark brown hair and glasses resting on top of his long, pointed nose. Just behind him peering around his side was a small grey hovering Pokemon. It was not much larger than a basketball and had a shape similar to a balloon, only it had a free, flowing appearance. A pale grey mask surrounded its soft dark eyes. The office itself wasnt exceptionally large, and had rose-colored walls with dark wood furniture, including a large bookcase filled with volumes of different battling-related subjects. A small window overlooked the dark spring night.

The man stood up and extended his hand to Mari. Miss Donovan, Im Dr. Ghilbee, its nice to meet you.

Mari nodded and shook his hand. Nice to meet you too, Doctor. Please, call me Mari.

Electra took her chair behind the desk and motioned for Mari to sit. The grey Pokemon came out a little bit from behind the Doctor when Mari sat down, watching her with intense curiosity. Electra began. Miss Donovan, Ive been looking over your school record and I must admit its quite impressive.

Thank you, but I dont know how impressive it is, Mari said meekly. My scores are only a little above average.

Electra shrugged it off. Nonsense, theyre a good deal above average. Aside from that, you show a great deal of creativity. Thats why youre here. You see, Dr. Ghilbee here is a genetic researcher; hes been experimenting with genetically altering Pokemon to create new ones.

Mari looked at the Doctor with some discomfort. Genetic alteration didnt sound like the noblest cause in science.

By now the grey Pokemon seemed to be getting over its shyness and was slowly coming closer to Mari. She smiled at it.

Ghilbee spoke of the grey Pokemon. I call that Pokemon a Castform. She is the first of eight created by my staff and me. Her and the other seven are all capable of a remarkable feat. They can influence the weather.

Startled, Mari looked down at the noticeably small Pokemon. Wow, she said. That would have some really interesting applications in battling.

The Doctor seemed pleased at her response. Precisely. But, theres another interesting aspect of Castform. It transforms according to the weather. The grey form you see now is its standard, or true appearance. In extreme weather conditions, it changes into a different form with a different type. In sunshine it would be a fire type and in rain, water. Those are just two of its known transformations. Its also possible there are other transformations we have not yet seen.

Mari sat in her chair, speechless. Such a Pokemon if properly trained could become nearly invincible, changing its type according to the opponent. Again she looked down at the Castform she was petting. She was innocently leaning into her stroking, fully enjoying herself.

Shes also very intelligent, Ghilbee said. She almost completely understands the English language, has learned to use several basic English words in simple sentences, and her vocabulary is quickly increasing! By incorporating the English she knows into her natural Pokemon tongue, she can quite affectively communicate with both Pokemon and humans.

No way! Mari said, again looking down at Castform.

The Pokemon grinned, and in a childish voice spoke. Hi.

She gasped. You can change type, control the weather, and talk?

Lets not be too hasty, Doctor, Electra intervened. I know you are excited about your creation, but let us state all the facts. While it is theoretically possible for a Castform to influence the weather in any way it wanted, absolutely none of them have yet done so. Most can certainly influence the weather, making it hot or drizzle. One of them can even use the full Rain Dance attack, but to be able to cause all kinds of drastic changes in the weather, you are still a good ways off. Not to mention the fact that Csatforms physical abilities are, and always will be, very limited.

Ghilbee seemed annoyed, but nodded in agreement none-the-less. That is why we asked you here, Mari. The only people who have been working with the Castform trying to develop their powers are scientists. We have discussed it, and we want to give a Castform to a trainer who might be able to bring out the full potential of it.

Maris eyes widened, suddenly realizing why she had been called to the office. Me? was all she managed to say. She was no longer petting the Castform, and she floated up, squeaked Thanks to Mari and then assumed a position between her and the Doctor.

Perhaps Miss Donovan, Electra said. You are talented, and Ive heard that you dont know what kind of Pokemon you want as your starter. You seemed the perfect choice. If you want, Castform is yours as your starter Pokemon.

Mari sat in uncertain silence. There was so much to consider. It was an incredible opportunity, but there were so many questions she had.

Dr Ghilbee, Electra said, would you give Miss Donovan and me a moment alone?

Ghilbee nodded and exited the room and took Castform with him. Bye, Mari! she said.

Miss Donovan, I can only imagine what must be going through your head right now. But I think that if I were in your place, I might be worried about what taking a man-made Pokemon would mean to my career as a trainer.

Mari nodded quietly, that was exactly her main concern. A genetically modified super-Pokemon would surely be frowned upon. It might even make her look like a trainer willing to do anything, no matter how unfair or underhanded, to win.

Well, consider this. Dr Ghilbee is very proud of his creation, and with good reason. But she is not as powerful as he likes to make her sound. As I said before, for the most part the Castform can only vaguely affect the weather, although they do all change with it. At this time, Castform is no more powerful than any other species. But, while she will be far more difficult to train, her potential is far greater as well. Consider her evenly balanced in that respect. Also, Castform is not as man made as Ghilbee likes to make it sound. She is simply a hybrid of several other Pokemon, with some extra modifications here and there.

Really? Mari said, intrigued.

Yes, Castform is mostly Ditto with some other Pokemon that know Sunny Day, Rain Dance, Hail, etc. thrown in. So, you dont have to consider her completely artificial.

Mari smiled. Thanks, Electra, I really appreciate your help, and your confidence in me. But I need time to think.

Electra nodded. Of course you do! Ill make this simple. When you come to get your starter, you name either Castform, or one on the official list. Its as simple as that.

A few minutes later Mari arrived back at the party. Her brother was at the punch table refilling his cup. She scooped up her own cup and helped herself to the red concoction.

So, what was that all about? Spencer asked.

Oh, just something about the starters, she answered.

Just something, huh? Spencer chuckled. Well, Im ready to see what Pokemon you end up with, personally. Everyone is holding bets.

Mari smiled at the thought because it could very easily be true.

Guests and graduates, came a voice over the speaker system. The time has come. Electra stood at the podium. Will all the graduates now please get in line in front of the podium in an orderly fashion.

Mari squealed in delight as she hugged Spencer, shoved her punch cup into his hands, and then practically floated to her place in line. While waiting, she was deep in thought. Castform was at the focus of her attention. The conversation in Electras office kept running over and over again in her head.

Miss Mari Donovan, Electra announced. Maris head shot up as she realized it was time. She approached her teacher with forced confidence. What is your decision? Electra asked.

Castform, please. Mari said. This time her confidence was real.

Electra smiled and handed her a blue Pokeball, as were all Academy-issued Pokeballs. Mister Max Marimo, Electra called the next person in line.

Mari was shaking with excitement and jogged to the table where her family was sitting, grinning ear to ear.

Well, whadja choose? Grandpa Wattson said.

Well, see for yourself, Mari announced as she started to open the Pokeball.

Excuse me, Miss Donovan, a male voice said.

Mari turned to see Ghilbee.

I would suggest that you display your new Pokemon in private, he explained his interruption. You wouldnt want any of the other students to get jealous.

Oh, yes, of course, she blushed. That should have been obvious.

I also printed this up for you, he said handing her a piece of paper. Its got some basic information on Castform including her estimated stats and movepool.

Great! Thanks! Ill be sure to look it over.

Huh? What did you get, Mari? her father asked. The looks on the others faces echoed his question.

Well, why dont I take you back to my dorm room and Ill show you there? Mari suggested and led the group outside the cafeteria, across the lawn, and over to the building that contained her room, all the while explaining what she had been told about Castform.

The group walked inside the plain room. The bare white walls had been stripped of decoration, the bed against the back wall was neatly made, the night stand had a single glass of water on it, several boxes were stacked up against the wooden dresser, the wooden desk and chair had been stripped of personal items, and the miniature refrigerator in the kitchen area at the front of the room was barren. A round wood table stood in-between the door and fridge, piled with brightly-colored presents that had been left there by her family earlier, along with the previously opened Academy-issue starter kit.

Time to meet Castform! the young trainer sang and opened the Pokeball.

Out of the white light Castform appeared. The first person she saw was Mari, and she smiled at her briefly before freezing at the sight of so many strangers. Backing up a bit, she silently stared wide-eyed at them.

Oh, its okay, Castform, Mari comfortingly patted Castforms head. This is my family. They wont hurt you.

The Pokemon noticeably relaxed, recovering from the shock of so many strangers. She was still, however, quite suspicious of them.

Its okay, Castform, Spencer spoke. My name is Spencer. Ive heard quite a lot about you!

Castform smiled weakly at him, she appeared very tired. Hi, she softly whispered, recognizing that he wanted to hear a Pokemon actually speak English.

Well arent you the cutest thing Ive ever seen! Maris Mom cooed.

Castform looked over at the older version of Mari and smiled.

Castform, are you okay? Mari asked. The little grey Pokemon did not seem as friendly or curious as she had when they met in Electras office.

No. Im tired, the Pokemon said in a voice that sounded like it belonged to a young child.

Oh, okay, I guess you have had a long day, havent you? Mari said. You want to sleep in your Pokeball?

She nodded, and was quietly sucked back into the blue and silver sphere.

Oh, Mari, shes adorable! her mother said.

A bit on the shy side, though, her Dad commented. You might have a problem battling with her.

Ah, but if what she told us is true, Wattson said, That little Pokemon could certainly be worth the effort to train!

Mari nodded in agreement. Just the same, I should have realized putting her in a room with a bunch of strangers would scare her, after she was so shy with me. Well, grab a seat everybody, she said as she placed the Pokeball on her desk.

Hurry, Mar, her mother said. Get to the presents!

Jesus Freak Josh
January 7th, 2005, 09:50 PM
That's really good Aiya! More description and other things. It was much longer (Which may be a flaw but I don't mind) and very descriptive. If I'm not mistaken you added more characters into this chapter?

Aiya Quackform
January 7th, 2005, 09:57 PM
Bates!!! Haven't seen you in a long time! I have added a bit to this, but it is by no means longer. I actually condensed the first 4 1/2 chapters into 2 chapters!! I was taking forever to get nowhere, so... I changed it. Glad you like the added description, I really worked hard on that. I have the tendency to go either overboard on desc or ignore it completely. I need to work on that, but I think I'm getting better.

(Dewd, you soooo need to go catch up at GHPF. There's a blorbman invasion or something going on... I dunno. KS started this funky username craze, too, darn him. In short, I think we're all really bored.)

Jesus Freak Josh
January 7th, 2005, 10:16 PM
Bates!!! Aiya!!! Haven't seen you in a long time! Ditto to that I have added a bit to this, No crud but it is by no means longer. I'll take ya word for it I actually condensed the first 4 1/2 chapters into 2 chapters!! Really? I was taking forever to get nowhere, Yeah forever gets me no where sometimes as well so... So... I changed it. Neatness! Glad you like the added description, That's good to know I really worked hard on that. I'll take ya word for it I have the tendency to go either overboard on desc or ignore it completely. One or the other I need to work on that, We all have problems but I think I'm getting better. Yeeeeep

(Dewd, you soooo need to go catch up at GHPF. Any new RPGs There's a blorbman invasion or something going on... Spammer? I dunno. Ditto KS started this funky username craze, Good ol' KS. Kaidelong changed his too I see. too, darn him. In short, I think we're all really bored. You get that. Maybe you should make a do over of that Rayquaza RPG. Alot of people were interested in that)

When's the next chapter up?

Aiya Quackform
January 7th, 2005, 10:25 PM
Nah, Blorbman is like the Cake-Guarding Giant or the Midget. I kinda missed the beginning of the whole thing, but it's taken the forum by storm. Check the games and the "General Sprite Request" threads if you want to catch up.

Over the last few hours, KS became BrainInIce and then ExGlobalModerator, and then KH became CatWithWings. Then, in an attempt to fit in, I changed to WingedGreyDuck. (Temporarily, of course.) Who knows what'll happen next. As I said, I think we're all bored.

As for RPGs, there haven't been many recently. I was thinking of making a simplified version of my Tairo RPG, but I've been a lazy bum... as usual. Re-making my Rayquaza RPG is a possibility too.

The next chapter of Drop is coming to PC next Friday!

Jesus Freak Josh
January 7th, 2005, 10:28 PM
Yay!

Lol, the cake guarding giant. We should bring that to PC. XD
If you didn't notice, I became "GHPF Resident Weirdo"
I hope the next chapter is great! ^_^

Aiya Quackform
January 13th, 2005, 04:52 PM
Chapter 2: First Steps

Where to begin, she looked greedily at the colorful packages. There were four in all, and Mari scanned them. She pulled a small red cubical gift closer to her, a small From Dad tag on it. She quickly started to tear away some of the paper and saw the words CEIS Bin. Squealing in delight she ripped apart the remaining paper. Yes! Thank you Daddy!!! she almost screamed.

Her father laughed with delight. Glad you like it, sweetie.

What did he get you, anyway, Spencer asked with some surprise at her reaction. He wouldnt tell me.

Its a CEIS Bin, it uses Compressed Electronic Item Stream technology to make a bin and all items in it into a compressed electronic stream and go into an item ball. A CIES Bin is like a Pokeball that holds a bin instead of a Pokemon! Now I can carry everything I need without breaking my back.

Mari next picked a glittering, flower-print box that could only be from Mom. Once she finally got the paper off the gift and opened the box inside, she gave a small gasp as she saw the content.

Gently she lifted up a golden-brown leather backpack. Mari smiled at the object. Its so pretty! she said.

Her Mom smiled.

Mari then noticed an envelope in the bottom of the box. Laying the pack down she picked up the envelope and took a plastic card out of it. Her eyes widened. Woah

What? Wattson inquired.

Its a gift card for the Slateport mall. Its for 15,000 pokedollars! Wow, Mom, this will go a long way for supplies!

Dont forget to buy yourself some new clothes, too, okay? he mother said.

She put her mothers gifts to the side and pulled over her Grandpa Watties gift. It was a little yellow bag she with a note attached that was short and sweet, just like her grandpa.

Hiya squirt! Must admit I had a hard time choosing a gift for ya, but I think it ended up good. Oh, and take the Mauville City Gym Leaders advice, get a ground Pokemon. Youre gonna need it. MWAHAHAHA!!!

Mari laughed at the last comment. Very funny, Grandpa. Her grandfathers electric Pokemon would be tough to beat, but shed seen him battle enough times that she had an advantage. With an evil grin on her face, she pulled the stuffed paper out of the yellow bag and retrieved two items, a case and another envelope. Examining the case first, she recognized it as a creamy pale-pink Miltank leather badge case. On it was embossed in feminine gold letters, Mari K. Donovan. Oh, how pretty, she cooed as she opened it and found it to be lined with burgundy velvet.

Wattson laughed. We better be careful or were going to spoil you!

And thats a problem why? she jested. Then picking up the envelope she picked out another plastic card. Oh, cool! Its a Hoenn Boat Pass. I can go to anywhere in Hoenn from anywhere in Hoenn by ship on this card. I dont have to buy tickets or anything.

Now that is cool, Spencer said. I had something like it for Johtos Whirl Islands.

Placing the pass on top of her gift card, Mari closed in on the last remaining gift. From you? she raised an eyebrow at Spencer as she pulled it towards her. He nodded. The package was sky blue with a cloud white ribbon on it. No card was attached. Quickly removing the paper, she opened the cardboard box. Peering inside, she saw a small rectangular leathery case inside, and Mari took it out. A jewelry case she thought, glancing up at Spencers anticipating smile. She pulled up the top of the case, which cracked at opening. Her eyes grew wide as she saw the necklace inside. Oh, Spencer, she awed. It was a silver medallion on a thin black leather strap. The medallion was about the size of two bottle caps and on it was depicted the three legendary birds of Kanto, each in a different colored metal. In the center bottom was Articuno in black gold, on the upper right was a copper Moltres, and on the upper left, a Zapdos made of yellow gold.

Like it? Spencer was grinning for ear to ear.

Like it?! she exclaimed jumping out of her chair and running over to give her brother a hug. I love it!

Over the next few minutes, they talked as they cleaned up the room, removing all evidence of wrapping paper. A few laughs later, it was after nine at night and her family still had a two and a half hour drive back to Mauville. With hugs, kisses, last words of advice, and suppressed tears, Mari parted with the rest of her family.

Mari was in her room, alone. The place seemed so empty now. But soon her eye caught the neat stack of supplies and gifts she received, and butterflies began to dance in her stomach. Tomorrow, she thought. Here I come. She went to bed with a smile on her face.

A little after nine the next morning, Mari was running for the Academys front lawn, cheese Danish in hand. She stuck it in her mouth as she slung her new backpack over her shoulders. Feeling the little bags under her eyes she ruefully recalled not being able to go to sleep until after three because she was going through her new Pokedex and the information Ghilbee gave her about Castform. She shook her head free from sleepiness for the tenth time that morning. Late as usual, Mari didnt want to miss saying goodbye to Electra. Her jeans and dark red shirt with a black sketchy floral print on it had been quickly put on along with her newly broken in sneakers. The medallion from her brother proudly donned its place around her neck, and her hair was back in a comfortable ponytail.

In a few moments she arrived breathless at the front lawn, a small patch of grass between the reception building and the main road which led either to Slateport or Oldale, depending on if you went east or west. The few remaining graduates that hadnt left yet were there, paying respects to Electra. There was a considerable crowd around her, and Mari hurried forward to get in line. She stopped, however, when she heard a man call her from behind.

Turning to face the person, Mari smiled. Dr. Ghilbee! I didnt know youd be here this morning!

He raised an eyebrow. Its still morning?

Mari blushed. Yeah, I know its kinda late, but I was so excited last night I couldnt get to sleep until after three!

Well, in that case, you are forgiven, he laughed. Where do you plan on going from here? Littleroot, perhaps?

Shaking her head she explained, I know almost all the other grads are going there, and I just dont want to be packed in with them all the way. Im going to Slateport, and from there maybe Dewford for my first badge.

Ghilbee nodded in approval and glanced to the side thoughtfully. I was hoping to see Castform again before you leave

Oh, of course! Mari exclaimed. After checking to ensure that there werent many people around, she opened the blue and silver Pokeball and Castform appeared. She chirped happily at seeing Mari and Dr. Ghilbee. The doctor opened his arms to Castform who snuggled against him in a hug.

Now Castform, Ghilbee tenderly addressed her, You know youre leaving with Mari soon, and you will not see me again for quite awhile.

Castform looked up at his face from the safety of his arms. She smiled and nodded with a reassuring cass-form inserted.

He smiled back. I know this is what you want and Im so proud of you! But, Im still going to miss you a whole lot.

Castform smiled in the same sad, reassuring way Maris family had smiled at her only the night before. Then Mari realized something. Ghilbee was Castforms dad, and he was letting her go out on her own for the first time. A warm feeling crept over her, reminding her of the people back at Mauville who were letting her go, and were proud to do it.

You come and visit me now, you hear? Ghilbee said to Castform. Mari smiled and nodded when he looked up to her as well.

Yes, we will! Castform said.

I promise, Mari agreed, just as she had promised her parents she would come and visit.

Oh, yes, Ghilbee remembered something and released Castform. Out of his jacket pocket he took a small, relatively thin rectangular device. Showing it to Mari, there was a screen on its front, which took about two thirds of the top. The bottom third was a miniature built-in keyboard, and along the right side was a stylus. It was metallic dark silver in color, and the screen appeared to be turned off. Still facing the screen towards Mari, he pushed a button on the keyboard. Its a Portable Pokemon Database, he said as the screen flickered to full-color life. Or PPD for short. Its the absolute latest in technology. One day, Pokedexes will be replaced with these. Not only does it contain a remarkably in-depth Pokedex, but also maps of all the regions with a Global Positioning System, a word processor, a wild vegetation guide, basic strategies, league, gym, breeding, and coordinating information and rules, and a Pokemon nutrition guide. Barrone Corp., the company that invented it, gave me a few to test and aid me in my research. It probably will not be released for several more years to the general public. I would like you to have it, Mari. I have even programmed it with the latest information on Castform.

Oh, cool! Mari snatched it from his hands and began to poke around its functions with the stylus. Castform drifted around her to peek over her shoulder at the PPDs screen.

You can see on the main menu there is a help option, Ghilbee said. It will teach you everything you need to know to use it.

Thank you! she said.

If you dont mind, I would like to take the Academy Pokedex you got from Electra and give it back to her. You have a Pokedex in the PPD anyway and it doesnt make sense to waste a good Pokedex.

Oh, yeah, Mari took the blue Pokedex out of a side pocket of her backpack and handed it to Ghilbee. As she turned off the PPDs screen, Castform said cas! and Mari could have sworn it sounded just like a humans disappointed aaaw. She smiled at the Castform behind her shoulder and reached around to pet her.

Ghilbee glanced at his watch and said, Well, I really have to get going. I have a long trip ahead of me back to the lab.

Oh, yes, Mari concurred. I should get going too. Say, where exactly is your lab? If you dont mind me asking, of course.

Its on Route 119, just southwest of Fortree across the bridge. Were on top of a hill with nothing else around. You cant miss us!

OK, Mari said. Im sure you and Castformll miss each other so Ill be sure to stop by and say hi when were over there.

Yes, Im sure you will get over there, Ghilbee said matter-of-factly. There is a Gym in Fortree, after all.

Well, there ya go!

Ghilbee gave a last pat on the head to Castform was now hovering in front of Mari. Then, he left. Castform looked after him for a moment and then turned to Mari with confidence.

Mari looked over at Electra. There were less people than before, but still enough to be a possible problem to Castforms apparent shyness. Why dont you go back into your Pokeball for just a little while longer until we get away from the Academy? she suggested, holding out Castforms silver and blue Pokeball. The Pokemon nodded and her Pokeball claimed her back with its red glow.

Mari walked over to Electra. The woman was busy wishing her students good luck, and generally encouraging them to do their best. In a few moments two of the students said their final goodbyes and left. Quickly, Mari took their place.

Miss Donovan, Electra greeted in her ever formal and diplomatic tone. I was hoping to say goodbye to you before you left.

Yeah, I got kind of a late start this morning.

Well, then, Miss Donovan, I want you to have fun with that Pokemon of yours. It will be quite a challenge to train her, but in the end I guarantee it will be well worth it. Electra was careful not to mention Castforms name so as not to spark jealousy in any of the other students.

Its been great, Electra, Mari said. Thanks for everything.

With a final handshake, Mari left. She walked across the lawn and onto the dirt road leading to Slateport. Turning around to face the Academy, a nostalgic sadness washed over her. So many good times here, with her friends. Shed had her first Pokemon battle here, with a Whismur almost a year ago. Cramming for countless tests, absorbing endless information, stealing food from the cafeteria for the fridge in her room. It was all behind her now. The Great Test had begun. She turned and walked east, towards the sea.

The sun was shining and a delightfully cool sea breeze blew through the grass. Many Pokemon were doubtlessly concealed in the grassland on either side of the road, but they would stay hidden as long as possible from any human presence.

Once well out of sight of the Academys grey buildings, Mari took the Pokeball off her pocket and squeezed its sides. It opened, releasing Castform. She blinked at first in the sunlight, taking in her new surroundings and once re-oriented she floated just next to Maris left shoulder. Mari patted her head. Well, Castform, were headed for Slateport.

Neat, Castform said.

I should probably tell you what were going to be doing, Mari said thoughtfully. Castform gave her new trainer her full attention. She proceeded to tell Castform all about the Gyms, the Hoenn League Championship, and all their rules and challenges. After a good deal of walking and explaining Mari took a breath. You know, she said after a moment, I really dont know a whole lot about you. Did Dr. Ghilbee ever call you anything other than Castform? You know, to tell you apart from the others?

Thinking for a minute, Castform concluding by shaking her head.

Well, I think Id like to give you a nickname. Would that be OK with you?

Castform thought for a moment. Yeah! That would be really neat.

Cool! Well, Id better wait until I know more about you to give you a nickname.

Castform gave Mari an indulgent smile.

Mari blushed slightly and looked ahead at the road as they walked. That was the exact same smile her Dad gave her when she was getting weird or long-winded. She imagined that was what Castform was trying to tell her too.

They continued to walk along the dirt path, brownish green grass up to Maris hips on either side. The grassland was dotted with a few shriveled trees here and there, as well as the occasional shady rock.

Hey Castform, Mari broke the silence. I was thinking. Once we get to Slateport, well probably start battling other trainers. Before then, we ought to do some training.

Okay, was her reply.

I dont suppose youve ever battled before, have you?

No, Castform said slowly. But Doc told me how and what the names of my attacks are.

Mari assumed that Doc meant Dr. Ghilbee, and replied. Well thats good! I was reading about your attacks last night, Tackle, Ember, and Water Gun. Its a good variety, but once we get to Slateport Im going to get you a status-changing TM.

Whats a TM? she asked.

Its a machine that teaches you a new move almost instantly.

Wow!

Yeah, but for now why dont we just practice what you have? Mari said. Looking down, she identified a few tennis ball-sized stones along the side of the road. Picking them up, she explained. Before you go battle another Pokemon, you need to have at least basic control over your attacks. Tackle is the most basic of all physical attacks, and seeing as you can go down this road in a straight line, you shouldnt have a problem with your aim. Well work on power later. Your Special Attacks Ember and Water Gun, on the other hand, will be a bit harder to aim. So, Im going to throw these stones in the air one at a time, and youre going to use your Water Gun and try to hit them, okay?

Okay, Castform agreed and waited for Mari to begin.

Alright, here we go! Mari flung one into the air, spinning it so it would hover for a slight moment before dropping back to the ground, giving Castform a better opportunity to hit her target.

Castform shot out a stream of water. It made contact with the rock, but it was near the edge of the Water Guns range, which was roughly a bit less than a foot in diameter.

Good, Castform. Now try to aim for the center of your attack. She threw another into the air and again Castform shot at it, this time the stone made contact closer to the center of her attack.

Wow, youre really good at this! Mari commented.

Thanks, Castform replied, but did not divert her attention from the stones.

Now do it with Ember.

Castform paused a moment, switching gears as it were, and then shot a soft ball-sized fireball at the next stone. They continued with the exercise for a few more minutes, and Mari decided to challenge Castform further. Castform, you up for trying to hit a moving target?

Pidgeot500
January 13th, 2005, 08:10 PM
Oh, cool! Mari snatched it from his hands and began to poke around its functions with the stylus. Castform drifted around her to peek over her shoulder at the PPDs screen.

I love this line! Castform seems very animated. On a side note, are you sure it's a good idea to start your character so well-off? Well, you probably know better than me; I usually start off in my stories focusing on one or two characters and their aspects/personality and how they deal with a specific situation, and don't necessarily define everything they're carrying with them, but if it become relevant later and it doesn't seem to convenient, then I'll put that item "on the map" you might say. But you probably just do things a bit differently. Neat characterization of Watson btw ;)

Aiya Quackform
January 20th, 2005, 04:22 PM
To Pidgeot: Thank you so much! I'm glad you like my characters. I do have a purpose for the PPD, and there will be some interesting side-plots involving it. But I'm not telling you anymore! No spoilers. ;P

Chapter 3: The Girl With Fiery Hair

What do you mean? Castform asked.

Well, Im sure there are wild Pokemon around here. Its a common practice for inexperienced Pokemon to battle a wild Pokemon or two before battling another human-trained Pokemon. But only if youre not too tired!

No, Im okay, Castform said.

Alright, Mari began to scan the grassland. She hadnt seen any Pokemon since they started out, and assumed that they were hiding in the grass. Spotting a tree up ahead that wasnt too far off the road, Mari decided to investigate. Leading her Pokemon out into the grass, Seedot could quickly be made out hanging from scarcely lush branches. The trees water-greedy roots had created a grass-free zone for a few meters around the tree. Getting closer, the acorn-Pokemon were about Castforms size and hung onto the tree branches by the twigs on their heads.

The pair of intruders arrived at the tree, and the Seedot did little to even acknowledge their presence. Only a few even looked at them with there seedy eyes.

Hey, Mari addressed the Pokemon. Any of you up for a battle?

None of them so much as twitched.

Cas, casform, cas! Maris grey companion shouted at them.

Almost instantly, the sound of a snapping branch a thud could be heard, and a rather large dark brown Seedot was on the ground, walking towards them with a scowl on his face and in his eyes. See, see dot! it growled at Castform in a deep tone.

Castform, Mari questioned, What did you say to them?

Castform smiled with unrepentant guilt. I called them a bunch of Apricorns.

Mari frowned with incomprehension, but shrugged and faced the Seedot. He had large, clumsy feet and no legs, and he waddled towards them like a penguin. What kind of attacks could this thing possibly use? Mari asked herself.

Seedot answered by making the first move. Stopping five feet short of Castform, his brown skin and shell began to take on a very shiny appearance, but without changing color.

Castform, its using Harden. Your Ember wont be affected. Hit him head on with it! Mari was just as intent on teaching Castform about battling as she was about winning this, their first battle.

Castform, who was hovering about a meter above the ground, quickly got directly about Seedot and unleashed a fireball on his. The acorn Pokemon squealed, and emerged from the flames charred and de-Hardened.

Great job, keep it up! Mari encouraged.

Castform did not verbally respond, but inhaled deeply for her next attack. Simultaneously, Seedot began to glow. This time, however, he turned white and luminous.

Unsure of what Seedot was doing, Mari did not interfere with Castforms attack, but watched closely.

Castform spit out with some effort a second ball of fire, this on larger than the first! It, too, hit the stationary Seedot. But this time, instead of losing his focus and cancelled his attack, Seedots white aura only grew larger and brighter!

Castform had circled Seedot and was preparing a third Ember when Mari shouted at her to stop. Castform! Seedot is using Bide! He will stay motionless like that for a but longer and then send your attacks back at you double the power! You dont have time to finish him off before he attacks, so for now stop attacking and get ready to dodge his attack!

Wide eyed, Castform nodded and waited.

The Seedot did not move for a moment. It wasnt a long wait, but it was agonizing for Castform who had no idea of what to expect.

Very quickly, Seedots aura contracted back into himself, and was then unleashed in a Seedot-sized sphere of white light! Castform, however, hadnt been far enough away from Seedot to react in time. The Bide energy ball hit.

Castform shrieked. The pain of fire on Seedots grass-type skin had been double and unleashed on Castforms soft body. Dropping to the ground, Castform did not move, but glared at Seedot. The other Pokemon had not moved.

Oh, Castform1 Mari rushed over to her Pokemon. Afraid to touch her, she leaned over her and spoke. Are you okay?

No, Im not okay! Castform growled, but got up from the ground and faced Mari. But Ill live. Lets finish this!

Mari grimly pursed her lips and nodded. Go use Ember, now!

Castform immediately shot off for Seedot, but he had already set up another Bide! Castform paused, but Mari urged her on. You have to finish him before he can unleash the Bide energy on you! Hurry!

Not needing anything further, Castform set off an anger-fueled Ember at the Seedot. Encased in flames, a groan emitted from the Pokemon, but he was not done yet.

Unbelievable, Mari muttered. Castform, hes almost done. Finish with Tackle, quick!

Castform, near frantic to beat the Seedot before he could attack again, took a position about three meters from her glowing opponent and charged. As she fast approached her target, Castform watched in horror as Seedots white aura contracted, ready to be released! Urging herself forward, she made contact. The impact jarred her body, but Seedot was hurled several feet back, landing in the tall grass. His white glow disintegrated into painless nothing. Seedot was out.

Yes! both Mari and Castform cried. Mari ran for her tired Pokemon and embraced her in a hug.

Im so proud of you! Mari exclaimed.

Me too, Castform said, surprised by herself. It was hard, but it was fun, too! And theres no way I would have known how to beat him without you.

Mari laughed with glee and nodded. Itll only get harder and funner as we go. But for now, lets see about those wounds. Mari swung her golden brown leather backpack off her shoulder and dug around in it. Removing a small yellow spray bottle, she instructed Castform to stay still as she sprayed her wounds. Castform complained that is stung at first, but quieted down as it soothed her cuts and bruises.

The Seedot had regained consciousness and was gingerly waddling back to his tree. Mari and Castform turned to look at him. Seeeee dot, it grumbled.

What did it say? Mari asked Castform.

Good battle, she translated.

Oh, Mari replied. Glancing at her potion bottle, she approached Seedot as he made it to the base of the tree trunk. Here, Seedot, Mari said placing her hand on his head. Thisll sting a bit at first, but itll make you feel better.

Seedot winced as she sprayed his wounds, but stood still. When she was finished, he looked at her and smiled. Dot, he said.

Mari, not needing a translation this time, smiled back. Youre welcome.

The Seedot hopped up to the nearest branch and attached himself to it, rejoining the passive state of the others.

Mari plopped down on the ground and leaned against the tree trunk, Castform joining her in enjoying the shade.

After a short rest, Mari stood up. She took a bottle of water out of her leather backpack and took a gulp. She quickly remembered, however, that she didnt have any dishes for Castform.

I could just squirt some in your mouth, she suggested.

Thats okay, I can do it, Castform said and stretched her grey hands out, taking the bottle from Mari. Taken by surprise, she relinquished the object to her. Castform opened her mouth and leaned back, copying Mari by squeezing the bottle. A stream of water came out, and Castform gulped most of it down, though some did spray onto her face. She licked her lips free of excess water and handed the bottle back to Mari.

She accepted it, and looked in disbelief from the bottle to her Pokemon. Since when do you have thumbs?

Castforms mitten-like hands had already retracted into her body, and she appeared to be greatly amused by Maris bewildered look. I am part Ditto, you know.

Laughing, Mari said, Yes, I believe Electra did mention that. The two got back on the dirt road and reassumed walking. Mari reached around and opened a side pocket of her backpack, bringing out the PPD Ghilbee had given her. She selected the map function and quickly brought up the area they were in. A small blinking red dot identified their position on the map. Great! Were about half way there! She glanced at her watch, too. It was almost eleven. Hopefully theyd be in Slateport in time for lunch.

They were approaching the top of a hill when a small blue thing came running past them, catching Maris attention. She slowed down slightly looking after the blue thing when she heard Castform squeak Look out! and she looked in front of her. An angry Seviper leapt over the hill in front of Mari, and she spun around her legs to move out of the way, but to no avail. She smacked into the hissing fanged snake, tumbling to the ground.

Mari leapt away from the serpent, but stumbled and fell back to the ground. Propping herself up on her elbows, adrenaline pulsed through her veins. Her eyes locked into the blood red eyes of the Seviper. It released a blood-curdling hiss, baring its large yellow fangs dripping with poison. Mari prepared herself to run with all her might as far away as she could from this place, but to her surprise the Pokemon bolted away down the road. It entwined its jet-black body around the small blue creature. Castform dashed behind her trainer and peeked out at the situation from behind her shoulder, speechless.

Frightened, but no longer in eminent danger, Mari organized her thoughts. The small blue spider Pokemon, a Surskit as she recalled, was what she had seen running past her just before the Seviper clashed with her. The Surskit must have been its goal, not her.

Kendar, finish with Poison Tail! said a female voice. Running over the hill where the two Pokemon had come from, a girl appeared.

The Seviper quickly released the Surskit from the coils of its body. The spider, obviously battered, began to run away. Its large triangular tail glowing deep purple, Seviper struck its opponent with its tail. The fight was over. Surskit was down.

Good work, Kendar, the girl said as she threw a Great Ball at Surskit. The ball collected Surskit up in its red light and did not let it go. Surskit was captured.

Walking over to pick up her new Pokemon, the girl also stroked Sevipers neck. That was great! Youre getting better and better at this all the time! Turning to Mari she said with an apologetic smile, Hi, sorry about Kendar scaring you like that. We didnt know anyone else was up here.

Releasing a breath she hadnt realized she was holding, Mari replied, Oh, its okay. No harm done. Glancing behind her at the unnerved Castform she added, Well, no physical harm anyway.

The girl laughed. Again, sorry. Im Atzie, and this guy is Kendar my Seviper. She held out her hand.

Mari shook it. Im Mari, and this is Castform.

Mari now made a better inspection of Atzie. Her own height was a bit less than average, but Atzie was even shorter, despite the fact that she appeared to be older than Mari. Her hair, however, made up for any lost body height. The roots and tips were bright blonde, but the majority was cherry red with a hint of yellow to better match the blonde. It was long, and arranged in several loose, long spikes that were held back by a hair band. The strips of hair went in all directions, giving it a fiery appearance. Her eyes were slightly darker than jade, and her bright clothes were matched only by her hair. She wore red cargo pants made of silky fabric and a white cotton short-sleeved shirt with the word STAR printed on it in bold red. The vibrancy of her attire was sharply contrasted by a worn and faded camouflage print backpack, which looked sorely out of place.

Realizing she was staring, Mari blushed. I take it red is your favorite color?

Atzie laughed light-heartedly. It is this week.

Oh, she laughed. Castform was still nervously looking out from behind her trainer, eyeing the Seviper and his trainer wearily. Cmon, Castform, say hi! The Pokemon looked at Atzie and nodded, but her eyes drifted back to Seviper with uncertainty.

Mari pat her head and said to Atzie, Shes pretty shy, and your Seviper scared her. But shell get over it eventually.

Nodding, she asked, You going to Slateport?

Yeah.

Great! We can go together! Its been awhile since I had companionship while traveling. Kendar snorted at his trainer and she quickly added, Human companionship, that is. Not waiting for a response, she turned around and walked for Slateport.

Taking a few running steps to catch up, Mari walked next to her. The large Seviper quietly traveled on the other side of Atzie. Castform was careful to be as far as she could from him.

Atzie still had her new Surskits Pokeball in her hand, and took a small device out of her backpack. It was similar to Maris PPD but was made of two joined circles like an eight, and the top circle was much smaller than the other. Atzie placed the Pokeball on the smaller circle and pressed several options on the screen of the larger. The Pokeball briefly glowed white, and disappeared.

Aiya Quackform
January 28th, 2005, 03:32 PM
Chapter 4: Old Trainer, New Trainer
Mari was about to ask about the device when Castform beat her to it. Whoa, what was that? the Pokemon inquired.

Raising an eyebrow at the talking Pokemon, Atzie answered as she returned the device to her backpack. Its a Mobile Pokeball Transportation Device. I can send Pokemon I just caught to anywhere in Hoenn without having to wait until I have access to a desktop computer.

Cool! Where did you send your Pokemon? Mari asked.

To my Dad in Lilycove. He wants me to send him rare Pokemon so his staff can study them.

His staff? Mari raised a eyebrow.

Laughing Atzie said, Maybe I should give you my full name. Its Atzie Barrone.

Searching for the meaning of the name, Mari thought in silence for a moment. Oh! she suddenly exclaimed. As in Barrone Corp?

Atzie nodded. Barrone Corp was world-renowned as the producer of the Pokedex and countless other Pokemon essentials. Im the presidents daughter.

Oh, Maris eyes widened and he looked ahead, suddenly self-conscious of walking next to the daughter of one of the richest men in Hoenn.

Now dont get all weird on me, Atzie laughed. I promise I dont bite. I leave that to Kendar. She gave her Pokemon a mischievous smile.

Oh, Mari left out a giggle of relief. Sorry, didnt mean to. I just wasnt expecting you to be she trailed off.

A spoiled rich girl? Atzie stared ahead cynically. I get that a lot.

Embarrassed, Mari walked in silence. Unnoticed by Mari, Kendar glared at his trainer.

Mm, sorry, Atzie said in a strained tone. Didnt mean to jump on you like that. I just get a lot of grief over it.

I can imagine, Mari said.

Dont worry! Castform said and floated over to Atzie. Ill be your friend!

Atzie brightened and gently pet Castforms head. Why thank you, little one. That means a lot! But its all good, I get loads of cool equipment from Daddy!

Castform laughed.

So, Atzie said regarding Castform, Either of you going to explain to me why you can talk?

Doc taught me, Castform replied.

Mari explained further. Well, Castform was created by scientists near Fortree. So, shes pretty smart!

Castform laughed. Not really, most Pokemon can understand English. I can just speak it, too.

Atzie smiled and pet Castform again. I must say thats really cool!

Vipaah, Kendar said to Castform. She shrank back to Mari at first, eyeing the snake. Sai? he smiled at her. Cas she slowly approached him, and soon a conversation started in Pokemon-language.

Looks like theyre starting to get along, Atzie commented.

Yeah, thats good for her, Mari said. Im afraid when we get into the cities, much less the gyms, shell have a hard time dealing with the people and pressure.

She seems pretty young to me, Im sure shell get over it. You said scientists near Fortree created her?

Yeah, Mari replied.

Ive heard of them. Daddy supplied them with lots of their equipment.

You sure seem to know a lot about his business. Do you work for him?

More or less, Atzie became serious. Thats actually why Im here and not at home in Lilycove. Barrone Corp is always trying to improve their Pokedex and keep up with the latest needs and trends of the Pokemon world. So Daddy wants me to travel around and keep on top of whats hot and whats not, catching rare Pokemon to be studied as I go.

Wow, thats a pretty broad job description.

True, but its fun, and it helps me see the different things that can be done with Pokemon. I havent a clue what I want to do with my life, so traveling is good for me to see what options I have. Atzie trailed off in thought.

Yeah, Mari said. I know I want to train Pokemon, but there are still so many sub-fields of that. Type specialization, gym leader, policing, I really dont know what I want to do either.

Hey, theres Slateport, Atzie pointed ahead of them. Below them past several hills and shrouded in mist from the sea was the city of Slateport. It glistened with lights and diluted sunlight. Skyscrapers reached up for the sky, while ocean water peppered with ships framed the sparkling metallic silhouettes.

Alright! I cant wait to hit the mall! Mari exclaimed.

Ooh, shopping spree? said Atzie.

Yup, I just left my school to collect the Hoenn Gym badges. I need to pick up supplies. My Mom gave me a gift card and wants me to buy clothes, too.

Awesome! Can I go with you? Im really good at shopping for clothes! I am a spoiled rich girl, after all.

Yeah! Its always more fun with company.

They continued talking and soon arrived in Slateport.

Ah, the greatest food in Hoenn! Atzie said as she bit into her hot dog.

Oh, yeah, Mari said as she took hers from the street vendor. Castform and Seviper had Pokemon equivalents and were greedily chomping them down. Thanks for lunch, she said stuffing her face.

No problem! I owed you after Kendar scared you like he did.

They soon finished their lunch and walked inside the Slateport mall, a multi-level shopping extravaganza. Castform had been fairly quiet ever since they entered the crowded city, and was very uncomfortable with the idea of going into a mall. Also figuring that a nap would help Castform heal from her early battle, Mari returned her to her Pokeball. Atzie did the same with Kendar, knowing the bulky snake would take up a lot of room in the stores.

Where do you want to go first? Atzie asked.

Supplies. That is my priority, Mari reminded herself. They walked into a large store called Pokemart International at Atzies suggestion. Mari quickly saw why her new friend had suggested it. The store was huge. Cash registers were lined up against the entire left wall, she could barely see the far wall and signs carefully categorized the different areas.

Uh, Pokemon med supplies first? Mari said and they walked into the area. In all, they spent nearly two hours in the store, acquiring every item the new trainer could possibly need. Food for Mari and her Pokemon, grooming supplies, training supplies, vitamins, and medical essentials were the highlights.

They also visited the TM and HM section. The shelves contained dozens of TMs and HMs.

Well, Mari said as she thoughtfully examined the move options, Castforms current movepool is pretty limited. Its all attacks, she needs something that gives her a strategic edge.

Next to her Atzie said, Sounds right to me. Maybe Double Team? Thats a pretty nifty move.

Yeah, but that move requires more skill and experience than Castform has.

How long have you had her, anyway?

Mari wrinkled her nose. Um, about twenty-four hours now, I guess.

Atzie whistled. I know you said you just graduated from Pokemon School, but a day?

Heh, yeah. Thats why a TM would be really useful right now. Grabbing a TM applicator she handed it to Atzie. Would you please get in line to check-out? Im going to be just a minute longer.

Guiding the cart full of items away Atzie mumbled in exasperation, Ugh! Would you just choose so we can go clothes shopping already?!

Rolling her eyes Mari snatched the TM Attract disc and went after Atzie. After paying, Mari took what looked like a black squared Pokeball from her backpack. Out of it came a large container labeled CEIS Bin in a flash of green light. It was very big, four and a half feet long, three feet wide, and two and a half feet tall. Thank you, my dear beloved Daddy, Mari said as she put her purchases in the bin and her backpack.

Aint Pokeball technology great? Atzie commented as Mari recalled the bin into its Pokeball-like holder.

The girls quickly made their way to a clothing store. Atzie, obviously, adored shopping for clothes, but Mari went about her search in a logical, fast manner. She emerged from the store, much to Atzies disappointment, less than an hour later with black cargo shorts, a short-sleeved green shirt with the word TRAINER on it in black letters, and a black water-proof jacket. Adding these to her current yet limited wardrobe, Mari was ready to leave the mall.

Done! Mari said with satisfaction as they left the mall. Whaddaya wanna do now?

Glancing at her watch Atzie said, Well, actually, I have to catch a ship back to Lilycove in a little over an hour. Might as well head over to the harbor.

Oh, Mari said with disappointment. I didnt know youd be leaving so soon.

Dont worry! I travel around a lot. Im sure well bump into each other again. Ill e-mail you. But I better get going. Mari joined her in heading over to the docks. It was nearing sunset and the overcast sky began to change colors in preparation for the pre-night light show.

So, wherere you headed? Atzie said after awhile.

Tomorrow I want to take a ferry to Dewford. Id like to get my first badge there, but I have a lot of training to do. Castform and I havent even battled another trainer together before.

Atzie stopped walking and addressed Mari. Seriously?

Yup.

Cool! Can I battle you? Upon seeing Maris startled reaction she explained. Mari, your first battle is something you will never forget. Its very special. I would consider it an honor and privilege to be your first opponent.

A competitive spirit flared up in Maris heart and she agreed. Okay.

Great! Atzie exclaimed. Looking around at all the people she said, Lets find somewhere less crowded. There should be some quieter places over by the empty docks.

Mari followed Atzie as they headed closer to the water. Turning away from the beaten path they soon came to an area close to the water that had few people around. This look good to you? Atzie asked.

Mm-hm, she responded. But first, Id like to teach Castform the TM move I got her.

Okay, Atzie agreed. Do you want to practice before we start?

Nah, she can practice as she battles. Mari released Castform from her Pokeball.

Castform re-appeared sleeping on the floor. She opened her eyes, and groggily floated up to eye-level with Mari.

Hi there, Mari said. Have a nice nap?

Yeah, thanks, she said, yawning. I feel a lot better!

Good. Up for a battle?

With who?

Atzie.

Castform looked over at Atzie and her new friend, Kendar. Are you sure thats okay? she asked Mari.

Sure it is, Mari replied. I have lots of friends that I battled back at school. But if you dont feel like it, Ill understand.

No, Castform said shaking her head. You said well be battling lots of people. I need practice.

Great! Mari said. Remember when I told you about TMs? Well, I got you one. I want you to relax as much as you can while I use it, okay?

Okay, Castform nodded. Um, will it hurt?

No, Mari said. It might be a bit hard to understand whats going on at first, but it wont hurt. Now, very suddenly a lot of information is going to flood into your mind. I want you to concentrate on that information, paying special attention to the actions you feel you can use, and associate it with the name of the move, which is Attract.

Castform nodded again and lowered herself closer to the ground as Mari kneeled on the stone floor. There was a chill in the air, and the grey sky was not encouraging.

Mari put her backpack on the ground and took out the TM applicator, the device that executed the function of TMs and HMs on the Pokemon. There was a square flat center that would hold the TM/HM disc. It was attached to three cords with smaller squares at their ends.

First putting the TM Attract disc in the large center square, she then placed that square on the top of Castforms head and positioned the other three squares on the sides and back of her head. Castform stood perfectly still for the procedure and watched in curiosity.

Ready? Mari asked her.

The Pokemon steadied herself, relaxed her muscles, and said, Ready.

Here we go, she said as she slid a switch on the TM applicator, and Castform immediately flinched. Her eyebrows furrowed over closed eyes. Apparently under great stress, Castform breathed a sigh of relief after a moment.

Mari removed the device. Howya feel?

A little dizzy at first, but okay.

Good, Mari replied. Now keep it in your mind just a minute longer, okay? You dont have to concentrate so hard this time, though.

Nodding, Castform diverted her gaze into nothingness and became absorbed in thought.

The first time is always the hardest, Atzie interrupted, addressing Mari. Itll get easier the more experienced she gets and the more often she learns through TMs.

Mari nodded and before she could reply, Castforms eyes met hers and she smiled. Got it!

Okay, you ready to put that move to the test in battle? Mari asked. Her Pokemon nodded.

Good, Atzie interjected. Kendar, time to battle, she said releasing her Seviper from his Pokeball.

Mari walked a few meters away from her opponent, Castform standing in front of her ready to fight. The trainer nodded her readiness to Atzie.

Atzie nodded back. Kendar, Poison Tail!

The battle began.

Aiya Quackform
February 4th, 2005, 06:04 PM
Chapter 5: Fight!

The dark serpent barreled forward towards Castform, his tail glowing purple. He curled his body around to strike.

Duck and tackle! Mari commanded Castform.

The smaller grey Pokemons eyes grew wide as she saw her opponents tail sweep forward towards her. She ducked just in time as the glowing tail sliced through the air above her. Castform immediately slid under his tail and hit his main coils with her head. Surprised, Kendar put distance between himself and Castform. His body, however, looked quite unharmed.

Crunch, Atzie commanded Kendar.

Ember, Mari countered.

He smiled with pleasure at the command, and his long golden fangs glowed white and dark red, like his eyes. Lunging across the cobblestone walkway his jaws opened with a hiss, and closed on Castforms shoulder. She shrieked in pain as the magenta energy crackled off Kendars fangs and seared her body. The energy in his mouth built up, and he flung her to the ground to relieve the stress.

As soon as her soft body hit the ground, Castform ignored the aching pain and bolted away from Kendar. She glared at him as he turned to face her. His fangs were their natural gold color again, but he was ready for more. He slithered across the walkway with incredible speed. His fangs began to glow and Castform stood her ground. Her eyes were ablaze, waiting for the right moment, and it soon came. On the final approach, Kendar opened his mouth to grab her in his vice-like grip, but she struck. A large ember shot down his exposed throat, and he stopped dead in his tracks. Coughing and writhing in pain, he rolled on the ground. The flames had vanished as quickly as they had come, but his flesh was burned. Even the skin in his mouth was charred.

Good work, Castform, came Maris enthusiastic, although somewhat repelled praise. That should put his Crunch attack out of commission!

Atzies reaction was far more pronounced. Kendar, are you okay?! was her near frantic call.

But the Seviper quickly composed himself and nodded to his trainer.

Right, was the reply from Atzie. I know youve taken worse. Now pound that little sneak into the ground with your Poison Tail!

He nodded and with renewed energy charged towards Castform in a rage.

Castform, Kendars too angry to attack directly, Mari warned. Use Attract and be careful!

Attack quickly, Kendar! Dont let Castform have a chance to distract you.

Castform smiled at him and began to dance with a rhythmic motion, never turning her eyes away from him.

Avoiding looking directly at her, Kendar jolted forward and lashed his tail out at her as he abruptly stopped in front of her. She neatly ducked under the tail and continued her dance. A pink aura slowly developed around her. Kendar was startled by this and accidentally looked at her. Castforms dance was becoming more pronounced as she danced her way next to Kendar, hoping to fully entrap him in her spell. The serpents eyes followed her movements, and his muscles started to relax.

Kendar, stop looking at her! Atzie commanded, unwilling to surrender her Pokemon to the feminine wiles of Castform.

Upon hearing his trainers voice, Kendars muscles tensed once again, and he clamped his eyes shut. But he again began to relax. Shaking his head violently, he hissed and revealed his glowing fangs. Castform continued her attempts to Attract him, and cooed in his ear. The snake lashed out and snapped at Castform, who barely managed to get out of the way by retreating. Kendars eyes remained shut as he shook his head. Castform frowned. Still dancing, she again approached Seviper, although more quietly. With the pink aura still surrounding her, she stopped just in front of Sevipers face. Leaning forward, she kissed his nose.

Kendars eyes flung wide open. Castform, get out of there! said Mari, who feared the wrath of Seviper.

But Castform remained in front of Kendar. He looked at Castform, and she smiled back at him. A dopey smile came over his face and he completely lost interest in avoiding Castform. She had him.

Oh, crud, Atzie muttered under her breath. Kendar, quick, use Toxic! she said aloud. Ive got to get an advantage before he becomes completely useless! she thought.

Kendar looked at Atzie as though she had betrayed him. Then he turned to Castform and back to Atzie. He was feeling weird. He knew he should obey Atzie, but something inside him screamed that he must not harm Castform.

The grey Pokemons pink aura shone bright, and she continued to dance in front of Seviper.

Good, Castform, Mari said. You have him, now reel him in!

This statement caused reality to briefly return to Kendar, and he spit a ball of poison out of his mouth at Castform. But the infatuation returned, and he was aghast to see Castform frowning in disgust at the purple liquid all over her body. He started to approach and help her when she shook it off and remained hovering a few feet above the ground. Letting out a sigh of relief, his smile quickly changed to horror when he saw beads of sweat form on her head and the pink glow around her fade, she had been poisoned by his attack.

Castform shook her head in anger and swallowed down a deep breath, unleashing a stream of water on Seviper. The force of the rage-fueled torrent sent him tumbling back several feet.

Nice shot, Mari said. But dont use your Water Gun again. That counteracts the burns Ember caused, and those burns could severely weaken Kendar in the long run!

Oh, poor Kendar! Atzie said to take advantage of the moment. I bet youd like to show off for Castform, right?

Without looking away from his beloved, Kendar nodded. Castform was in front of him, glaring at him in hatred.

Okay, then, Atzie continued. Why dont you show her how incredibly fast you are! You could do that using your Double Team technique.

Castforms anger abruptly turned to worry as Kendar nodded in response to his trainer, and took a position a bit farther away from Castform. Still smiling, his image began to multiply until four stood around her in a circle.

Mari, though concerned, smiled. Shes smart. She knows how to overcome obstacles in battle. But I doubt even she can control an Attracted Pokemon for long. Castform, you have to attack quickly! Ember and tackle when you can. Keep your eyes glued to Kendar, and you should be able to spot the real one soon enough when he moves.

Atzie laughed. You make it sound so easy! I can guarantee your Castform, especially as young as she is, wont have an easy time of catching Kendar. So, Kendar, keep multiplying!

Kendar, eager to display his eye-catching agility, continued multiplying his images. Seeing this development, Castform quickly shot a spread of fire balls at three of the now five Sevipers. The one at the far left cringed and stumbled backward. She dove for Kendar, hitting his neck in a tackle. He wasnt hurt much and darted away, re-entering his image network of now six.

Castform was in the center of the rapidly multiplying false Kendars, and she stared intently at them, waiting for Kendar to slip up and make himself known.

There, you see, Atzie said to Kendar, careful not to aggravate the affects of his infatuation. Castform cant tell you apart from your image. Is that skill or what?

The Kendars all smiled in unison, and another appeared. There were eight now, and Castform shot out more fire balls, hitting three. They proved to be fakes and were distorted by the attack, but they were quickly replaced by fresh images. The infatuated smile plastered across Kendars face continued to get bigger and dopier, but Mari soon noted that no additional images were appearing. Castforms Attract was kicking in at full force. With any luck, his Double Team would diminish in effectiveness.

Keep up the attack, Mari encouraged Castform. But be careful not to use up a lot of energy. That Toxic is draining your energy, too.

She nodded, and dove at an image. Passing through it, she headed for the next one in line without missing a beat. A pained expression was on her face; the poison was eating at her. The second image was false as well, and she shot a fire ball at the third. There was a grunt, and the entire Double Team image network glitched momentarily. The scratched Kendar quickly re-entered and established the network. Castform tackled the same place, but Kendar had already slipped back into obscurity.

The sky overhead was grey and dark, threatening a storm. The waves of the Hoenn sea remained calm, but reflected the gloom of the sky. Castforms normally grey color slowly assumed a bluish tint that went largely unnoticed in the heat of the battle.

Castform dove again at another image. When she again passed straight though it, she turned to charge again but stopped. Cringing in pain, sweat covered her face. She took the time for a breather while Kendar was preoccupied with maintaining his Double Team.

Atzie was keeping a watchful eye on her Seviper. As Castform struggled to regain her composure, Atzie noticed a frown on Kendars face. His eight images declined to seven, and it became obvious he was distracted. But this time, the source didnt seem to be Castform.

Kendar was frowning, but at no particular object. His painful burns were causing him to lose control over his Double Team. There were now six of the originally eight Seviper images.

Castform, also, was having problems concentrating. She appeared to be ill, and was stopped dead in the middle of the Double Team circle.

Castform, are you okay? called a concerned Mari. This was nothing like she had seen Toxic do in the past. Try and throw Embers at the Double Teams! She was getting nervous. Castform was quickly losing her strength.

No, its happening, Castform said, but didnt move to respond. A drop of water from the overcast sky landed on her head, and she became increasingly blue in color.

Castform Mari whispered to herself. Something beyond Toxic was happening. She felt a few drops of water fall on her head and shoulders, and Mari realized what was happening. Castform, youre changing!

Atzie was confused as to Castforms condition, but maintained her focus on Kendar. He had not lost another Double Team image, but his expression of dopey infatuation was changing. It now turned to anger aimed at Castform. She smiled. Kendar, Poison Tail!

Kendar leapt forward for Castform, whipping his glowing tail at her. She was thrown several feet from him onto the ground, but she made no move to retaliate. Despite the fact that the Poison Tail hadnt been at full force, a leftover from the Attract, it had been a hard hit on the severely weakened Castform.

No! Not now, Castform! cried Mari. Her Pokemon was not moving from her resting place on the stone walkway.

But the rain was starting come down more, and Castforms body began to mutate. First it became deep blue in color, and then the bottom quarter of her body turned white while forming into a solid cloud-like shape. The upper part of her body, still deep blue, became transparent with a slight blue tint, like water! The core of her upper body remained a solid dark blue, and thats where her white-masked eyes and mouth remained. Castform floated up from the ground, and faced Kendar.

Im baaack! Castform cheered.

What the Atzie said in amazement and surprise.

She changes with the weather! Mari said with glee. Castform, thats great! I dont suppose you can still use Ember, can you?

No, only water, normal, and similarly typed moves, Castform explained and waited for instruction while Seviper glared at her. He was cured of his infatuation, and wasnt phased by her transformation.

The rain was coming down regularly now, and both trainers quickly went into their backpacks. Atzie also had a CEIS Bin and brought it out, taking an umbrella out of it as Mari took her hood black water-proof jacket out of hers. Both were already somewhat wet, but were now safe from the chilling rain.

Alright then, Mari said. Water Gun!

Kendar, Poison Tail!

The mentally renewed Castform released a blast of snow out of her mouth upon Kendar, hurling him away from her.

What was that? Castform panted, her chest was burning from the unexpected attack.

Wow, that was awesome! Mari exclaimed. Thats Powder Snow, Castform, dont forget, she said to make sure her Pokemon would be able to recognize the attack on command.

Atzie, meanwhile, examined her own Pokemon. The ice had virtually cured him of his burns, excluding the ones in his mouth. But the ice would also doubtless slow him down.

Kendar, use Iron Tail to counter Powder Snow!

He nodded his acknowledgement and charged for Castform.

Castform, alternate Water Gun and Powder Snow!

Castform went head-on for her opponent. A few feet before meeting Kendar, she swerved up and around him, dousing his body with water. The force knocked him to the ground, but he swung his tail up at her before she could move, dealing another Poison Tail. Castform spun backwards in the air a few times before re-gaining control and diving back at him. Kendar, too, lifted himself up off the ground. She unleashed another Powder Snow, and Kendars tail shone silver. He slashed through her attack, cutting it like a knife. She had not been far behind and was hit on the head and sent plummeting to the ground. He lifted his tail to strike again, but Castform shot up and sidestepped his Iron Tail, unleashing her Powder Snow on him before he could counter.

Kendar hissed a shriek from the burning cold, and violently slashed at Castform with his tail, hitting her yet again. She remained in the air, but both were panting heavily.

Kendars body was covered with ice crystals, and it was obvious that he was losing speed because of it. The fact that Castform had been failing to dodge his attacks was evidence of her exhaustion, and she was still being affected by Kendars earlier Toxic. Neither had the energy to go much longer; the next few moments would decide the victor.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
February 6th, 2005, 11:14 AM
Well what's to say? I think I covered most of my comments back on GHPF. But still good job with it, nice battles, good description, etc...

Btw: Could resist to say hello in this topic ;)

oni flygon
February 6th, 2005, 03:09 PM
The new fanfic of the week!

Congrats =D

Aiya Quackform
February 7th, 2005, 07:57 PM
WOW!! Both my fics made FFOTW! Now that's pretty darn cool. ^_^

Aiya Quackform
February 12th, 2005, 09:36 PM
Chapter 6: Solo

Maris mind raced. Its obvious Powder Snow deals more damage on Kendar than Water Gun, but he has a likelier chance of avoiding it with that Iron Tail of his. Okay, Castform, she said aloud. This is it, use Powder Snow!

Kendar, Iron Tail! Atzie countered, praying he had enough speed to pull it off.

The two Pokemon were about eight meters apart, and each had sweet victory on their minds. Both were determined to make the other fall.

Kendar moved first, heading with as much speed as he could muster towards Castform, his tail shining silver.

The rainwater was pouring down, and Castform allowed that to fuel her transformed bodys soul. She charged up her attack with all her remaining strength, and waited for Kendar to come closer.

When he reached a distance of five feet from her, she gushed a freezing Powder Snow over him. Not fast enough to deflect it, Kendar fought the onslaught with pure willpower. Charging through the icy attack, he raised his tail, aimed for the attacks source, and connected with Castform. The Powder Snow stopped; Castform was flung hard onto the ground. Seviper stood shivering, looking over at his fallen opponent. Her eyes were closed, and her battered body did not budge. Castform would not be getting up this time.

Castform! Mari dashed over to her unconscious Pokemon, cradling her in her arms. You did so great, thank you, she whispered.

Kendar collapsed as his victory was acknowledged. Atzie raced to his side. They sure gave us a run for our money, huh? she joked to take his mind off his aching body. He weakly smiled, still shivering from the cold. Atzie held her umbrella over him and continued. Dont you worry. Theres a Pokemon hospital on our ship, and youll be all better soon. She recalled him into his Pokeball and walked over to Mari.

Mari stood up and faced Atzie, holding Castform in her arms. Thanks for the battle, Mari said. I doubt Ill ever forget it!

Good, Atzie smiled. Now dont you get discouraged if you lose on occasion. I plan on battling you again someday!

You bet! Ive learned a lot already, and I plan to learn more. Next time, Ill beat you for sure!

Sure you will. Well, I have to go catch my ride, Atzie said as she turned away from Mari. I know well meet again, seeing as well both be traveling a lot.

Do you want me to walk you to your ship? Mari offered.

Nah, Atzie waved it off. I can take care of myself. Besides, you need to get that Castform of yours to a Pokemon Center ASAP! Its just down from where the mall was, on the left side.

Thanks, Mari replied, and looking down at her still unconscious Castform, wasted no more time. Bye! she said and ran back towards the Pokemon Center.

The Pokemon Center was not far, and Mari easily found it with Atzies directions despite the pouring rain. Stepping inside the round building, Mari pulled the hood of her jacket off her head. Still carrying Castform in her free arm, she approached the check-in counter. Nurse Joy sat at the counter, filling out paperwork.

Upon looking up at the injured Pokemon Joy said, Oh, goodness. Looks like someones had a tough battle! Lets get her to the recovery unit right away. Chansey! Get a room ready. The pink-haired nurse took Castform from her owners arms. Dont worry, dear, she reassured Mari. Your Pokemon will be fine. But I must ask, what kind of Pokemon is it?

Shes Castform. Right now shes a water type, but now thats she out of the rain, shell become a normal type again soon. Maris prediction was already proving true as Castform was already slowly returning to her original form and color.

Alright, dear, Joy said. Why dont you go get some dinner while youre waiting?

Mari nodded and walked towards the dining room, leaving Joy to do her job. Slateports Pokemon Center was quite large, and its dining room was no exception. It was large enough to be a full restaurant, although at the moment there were only a few scattered trainers about. Mari sat at a booth next to a window. A menu had been left on the table, and she glanced over it. A Chansey promptly arrived.

Chansiiii? it chirped.

Ill have a Club Sandwich and water, please, Mari said to the large egg. Despite her worry over Castform, Mari could feel her stomach churning from hunger.

The Chansey bowed slightly in acknowledgement and walked off into the kitchen to get her order. Mari dug into her leather backpack, bringing out a worn cloth wallet. The Pokemon Centers were a free service, but they werent free to run. She had been taught at the Academy that it was always good to give a donation to the Centers you stayed at.

Mari leaned on the table and stared out the window, into the entrancing dance of water droplets splashing on the stone streets. Her eyelids were heavy, and she glanced at her watch. Wow, seven already? she thought to herself. I guess it has been awhile since we got to Slateport. When Castform gets out of recovery, shell probably be starving. Then again, Im sure Nurse Joy or one of the Chansey will make sure shes eaten. A smile flickered across her lips. Heh, that was so cool when Castform turned into a water type. I should call Dr. Ghilbee soon and thank him again.

The food arrived and Mari gave Chansey some Pokedollars. The Pokemon graciously accepted it and left to attend to other matters. Mari ravenously ate her sandwiches, not realizing how hungry shed been. A half hour quickly went by, and Nurse Joy approached her in the dining room, a fully grey Castform in her arms.

Mari started to get up form the table, but Joy waved her off. No need to get up, miss. I gave your Pokemon all the proper medications, and now all she needs is rest.

Castform silently and slowly settled in next to Mari, resting on the booths cushioned bench. Thank you so much, Nurse Joy, Mari said.

No problem. Just make sure she gets a good night sleep, and no battling for at least twenty-four hours.

Mari nodded and Joy walked away. The Chansey, as if on queue, arrived at their booth once again, this time with a bowl of Pokemon food for Castform. Castform floated up from the booth and onto the table, slowly but gratefully eating her food.

You feeling any better? Mari asked.

A little, but Im so tired.

Once youre done eating, Mari said, We can go get a room and get some sleep.

Castform nodded as she chewed, and finished up the entire serving. After she was done, Mari picked her up and walked over to the nearest Chansey. Mari wasnt sure if it was the same as before, as they were all overgrown pink eggs to her.

Excuse me, Chansey, but can we get a room for tonight?

Chansey nodded and led them up to a second floor of the Pokemon Center. Handing them a key from a purse strapped around its body, it pointed to the number on the key, which was 103, and then gestured down the hall. It then walked back down the stairs, leaving Mari to find room number 103. On either side of hallway were doors, each labeled with a number. She walked down until coming across her room, and walked in.

It was a small, one room area with a single bed, a window, a desk and chair, and no bathroom. A small card was on her pillow, reading, Facilities at end of hallway. Goody, a communal bathroom, Mari though to herself. Placing the half-asleep Castform on the bed to rest, Mari sat at the desk and looked out the window. Glancing at her watch, it proved to be almost eight oclock.

She dug into her backpack once again, and this time uncovered her journal and a pen. Flipping it open, she began to write.

Its my first official day as a Pokemon trainer. Thats right, Mari Donovan, Pokemon trainer. After waiting so long, its so surreal. Castform is so sweet, but I can tell shes got a real fighting spirit. Especially after our very first battle today, with my new friend, Atzie Barrone.

Mari looked up from her writing into the dark rainy night. The sound of the water soothed her nerves, and she again found herself staring out into the city. The street lights were on now, and their luminescence permeated the thick air in orbs of light.

While watching the rain fall, a glint of pink caught her eye. Squinting, she saw a blotch of pink in an alleyway across the street from the Pokemon Center. With the rain, it took her a moment to identify it.

Oh! she gasped as she recognized it as a small and soaking wet Skitty.

Strawberry Delcatty
February 12th, 2005, 10:36 PM
Skitty? Yay! My favorite Pokemon makes an appearence! I love you, Aiya!

Uh... I mean, the story is great, and it's even better that a Skitty's in it.

Aiya Quackform
February 18th, 2005, 04:25 PM
Chapter 7: Lost

Mari bolted up from the desk. She glanced thoughtfully at the sleeping Castform, but quietly left the room without her. Running down the stairs and through the reception area, she put on her dry jacket on her way out of the center, the cold of the rainy night stinging her bare cheeks.

Mari jogged across the street and looked back at the Pokemon Centers windows on the second floor. Making a guess at which window was hers, she looked directly across the street from it and identified the alleyway she had seen Skitty in. Water splashed on her jeans as she ran for it, chilling her all the more.

Upon arriving at the alleyway, there was no sign of the Skitty. The streetlight illuminated parts of the alley, and Mari walked down it. Garbage littered either side of the alley, soaking up the water. Mari wrinkled her nose at the smell, but persisted in looking for the Pokemon. At the very end of the alley, Mari saw a stack of cardboard boxes shake. Quickening her pace, she looked inside them. Near the bottom of the stack was an open, soaking wet box on its side. Peering inside it, Mari spotted the small Skitty. A lovely lavender collar with white jewels on it starkly contrasted against the Skittys ill appearance. Wet and shivering, her runny nose was a bright red.

She squeaked in fear as Mari reached in for her, and a bout of coughing followed.

Oh, you poor little thing, Mari whispered gently to as she scooped her up with little resistance. You really are sick! She briskly turned around and ran back to the Pokemon Center.

Stepping inside the reception area, it was apparent that the staff had retired for the night. Mari pondered whether or not to wake Nurse Joy. Well, this is the kind of thing they taught us to take care of at the Academy, and with that Mari went upstairs back to the guest rooms.

Walking past her own room, she went into one of the many bathrooms. Inside was a bathtub & shower, a counter with sink, and toilet. Small, but clean.

Mari grabbed a dry towel from under the counter and padded the sink with it. The Skitty sneezed in Maris arms, and she placed the petite Pokemon on the towel.

Skitty weakly meowed, still frightened of these strange surroundings and person.

Its okay, sweetie, Mari continuously spoke to her in a calming voice. She removed Skittys collar and placed it next to the sink to dry, and gently bathed the kitten in warm water. Skitty did not like the water at first, but soon grew accustomed to it as it warmed her body. As soon as Mari was satisfied with Skittys body temperature, she turned off the water and wrapped the Pokemon in a fluffy white towel, carefully drying her off.

Skitty was visibly exhausted, and did little else but occasionally meow after she had been warmed up by the water.

Alright, baby, lets go back to the room, Mari said once Skitty was dry. After cleaning up the bathroom and grabbing Skittys collar, they left for her room.

Quietly entering, Castform proved to be sound asleep. Mari placed the wrapped up Skitty on her bed, put the collar on the desk, and took her CEIS BinBall out of her backpack, releasing the bin in front of her bed. Rummaging around in it as quietly as she could, Mari took out her first aid kit and selected a thermometer and cold medication.

Skitty was almost asleep when Maris placed her hand on the Pokemons forehead. She jolted awake, but did nothing to object.

Hm, shes a bit warm, Mari thought to herself. Using the thermometer to check her temperature, she did had a slight fever. Well, looks like you have a cold for sure!

This was further confirmed as Skittys entire body shook with a series of sneezes, and she recovered with a surprised expression on her ears. Mari giggled. Well, you wont like this much, but you need some medicine.

Mari dug into her CEIS Bin again and brought out PokeChow and a bowl. Pouring some food in the bowl, she sprinkled the prescribed amount of powdered cold medicine on it.

Skittys ears perked at the sound of food, and readily accepted it when offered. Mari gently stroked Skittys hair against the grain to promote circulation as she ate. When done, Skitty suffered from another noisy bout of sneezes. Mari cringed as Castform stirred in her sleep, but she did not wake.

Whew, Mari joked to Skitty. That was a close one! Skitty weakly smiled, but laid on top of her towel to sleep.

Right, Mari said looking at her watch. Wow, its close to eleven. We should all be getting some sleep.

Mari picked up Skitty and moved the damp towel onto the floor. After placing the kitten under the bed covers, Mari changed into her green pajamas and got in bed. She closed her heavy eyelids the second her head hit the pillow, and was soon fast asleep.

Maris eyes drifted open. The room was filled with the soft white light of a new day. Planting her feet on the floor, she got up and looked out the window. Only a few clouds remained in the sky now. The clock on her desk read 8:02. Stretching, she looked over at the two sleeping Pokemon on her bed. Both were visibly in better health than last night. Mari picked up Skittys collar and for the first time examined it closely. On one of the circles where another crystal was to be expected to continue the pattern, was instead a plate of white metal engraved with the words Porschia - 12643 Whistling Wind Road.

Hm, looks like I found your name and your home, Mari thought.

By eight-thirty, Mari had showered, dressed, re-packed, and was ready to go. Both of the Pokemon, however, were still asleep. A smile flickered across her lips. There was only one way to wake up a lazy person. (Or in this case, Pokemon.)

Mari crouched down next to the bed and rested her head only a few inches away from Castforms face. Mari poked her side a couple times and Castform jerked, and her eyes opened.

Hello! Mari said in the loud, sickeningly cheerful voice her mom had used on her a thousand mornings before.

Castforms eyes shot wide open in surprise and she involuntarily jolted back, wide awake.

Mari laughed. Adrenaline wins again!

What was that? Castform asked, bewildered.

Sorry, Castform, Mari chuckled. But Ive always wanted to try that on someone else.

Sticking her little pink tongue out, she floated away from the bed. It was then that she noticed Skitty. Whos that?

Last night when you were asleep, I found this little one outside in the rain, she explained. Shes got a nasty cold, but aside from that Skitty should be fine. But just the same, I want to get her checked out by Nurse Joy before we take her home.

Oh, that was nice of you, Castform commented.

Mari walked over to Skitty and scooped her up into her arms. Skitty was awakened, and meowed with a friendly smile.

You couldve woken me up like that Castform grumbled.

Mari ignored her and spoke to the Skitty. Good morning to you, too! Is your name Porschia?

The Skitty nodded at the name.

Castform approached Skitty and smiled, chirping a greeting to her in Pokemon language. Skitty smiled back, but sneezed immediately afterward.

Well, its time to take you down to Nurse Joy, Mari said. She grabbed her backpack and left with the Castform and Skitty.

Oh, what a darling Pokemon! Nurse Joy said when she saw the Skitty in Maris arms. I didnt know you had a Skitty!

Mari laughed. I dont. I found this girl outside last night in the rain. I got her dried off and warmed up last night, but she still seems to have a cold.

Oh, Nurse Joy said, placing her hand on Skittys head. Well, it looks to me like youre dead on. She looked over to Castform. And youre looking much better today, Castform!

The grey Pokemon smiled. Thank you, I feel better!

Oh, I found this collar on Skitty, Mari said taking it out of her pocket. Do you know where Whistling Wind Road is?

Nurse Joy looked at the address on the collar. Yes, thats in the north part of the city. Here, Ill get you a map. She went behind the counter of the Center and quickly returned. Opening the map, she showed Mari where they were, where Whistling Wind Road was, and how to get there.

Thank you so much, Nurse Joy! Mari said with sincerity.

Youre quite welcome, Joy replied. I hope you find Porschias owners!

Thanks! Mari said. She and the Pokemon ate a brief breakfast at the Centers restaurant and then left. Mari held the sick Skitty in one arm, and used her free hand to hold the map displayed on her PPD. After a good deal of walking, the trio successfully managed to navigate their way through the city to 12643 Whistling Wind Road, and found themselves standing in front of a large two story building. In big, light yellow letters the words Addison Breeding Center were proudly displayed above a large rotating door.

Skitty nearly jumped out of Maris arms trying to get at the building, but Mari managed to keep a hold of her.

Woah, there, Porschia, she said. This is a nice home youve got here, but you need to take it easy. Mari put the PPD back in her backpack and put Skittys collar back on her, and the three went inside.

The inside proved far more extravagant than the outside. They were in a large, luxurious reception area with a glossy blue tiled floor and plush furniture for people and Pokemon. The high ceiling with a single chandelier greatly added to its elegance. Mari approached the marble front desk which was manned by a young man with black hair who was wearing what appeared to be uniform, for it said Addison Breeding Center on the back of his grey long-sleeve shirt.

Excuse me, she said tapping his back.

He turned and looked at her with his bright brown eyes. Yes?

Uh, I found this Skitty last night and

Oh, Porschia! Thank goodness youre safe! the man took the Skitty from Maris arms and hugged her. Skitty was just as happy, meowing and loudly purring while rubbing her head against his shoulder in a hug.

Mari laughed. Looks like I found the right place!

Oh, yes, you certainly did, thank you so much! he said, and remembering his manners, extended his hand. Im Matt Addison.

Mari Donovan, and this is Castform, she shook his hand.

Castform smiled politely at him.

I cant tell you how thankful we all are, Miss Donovan. Sis! Sis, come here! he waved over a girl who was wearing the same uniform and had similar coloring to Matt.

Yeah, Matt, she said, and then saw Skitty. Porschia! she ran over and took her from Matt. The kitten happily greeted her as well. Oh, sweetie, I was so worried! she then looked at Mari. Are you the one who found Porschia?

Before Mari could speak, Matt cut in. Yes, she just brought Porschia in. Mari Donovan, this is my sister Hannah.

Hannah and Mari shook hands. Again, thank you so much! Hannah said.

Oh, I was happy to take care of her. Shes so sweet! Mari replied.

Skitty then had another bout of sneezes, drawing the immediate concern of the siblings.

Strawberry Delcatty
February 20th, 2005, 10:34 PM
Awww... the Skitty has trainers... It was so sad, especially since Mari and Skitty got along well.

Great chapter. Can't wait for more! Meow!

P.S. Make Mari catch a Skitty! Or at least a Meowth...

Aiya Quackform
February 25th, 2005, 11:12 PM
Well, not to give spoilers or anything, but don't count on a Skitty or Meowth joining the team. Sorry! I'm about to post Chapter 8. Chapter 9 will contain the first glimpse of the real plot behind "Drop" and the meaning of its name... I'M SO EXCITED, AREN'T YOU?!

Aiya Quackform
February 25th, 2005, 11:15 PM
Chapter 8: Getting Serious

I found her in an alley last night while it was raining, Mari explained. She must have been out there long enough to catch a cold.

Aw, poor Porschia, Hannah snuggled Skitty. Thank you so much for getting her out of there! I dont know what we wouldve done if you hadnt found her!

Yes, Matt interjected. You probably dont realize, Mari, how valuable Porschia is. Aside from being our dear friend, she is the daughter of Lady Victoria, the pride and joy of our breeding center. Victoria has won virtually every show she has ever been in, and if Porschia is anything like her mother, she will help maintain Addison Breeding Centers sterling reputation.

Wow, Mari raised an eyebrow and scratched Porschias ear. I knew you were pretty, but I didnt know you were that pretty!

Matt and Hannah laughed.

We really must do something to thank you, Hannah said.

Oh, yes! Matt agreed.

Oh, no, really, it was enough just to be able to spend some time with Porschia! Mari protested.

No, Hannah said firmly. We were just about to send out notice of a reward for returning Porschia. We really must do something for you to thank you for your honesty.

Matt nodded in agreement and said, Youre a trainer, right Mari?

She nodded.

Matt thought for a moment. Hey, Hannah, what about Blitzs egg?

Hannah thought about this for a moment. Thats an excellent idea! Ill go get it. She handed Porschia to Matt and walked out of the large reception area into another room of the building.

A Pokemon egg? Mari asked.

Matt nodded.

I couldnt take that from you! You need Pokemon for your breeding center!

Well, normally Id agree with you, but this eggs father was a terror in shows! He was absolutely beautiful, but had a disposition that made him very hard to show. Some trainer friends of mine told me hed be great in battles, but my sister and I didnt have the heart to give him away to some trainer. In any event, this egg is very likely to have a similar personality, so itll be better off with you!

At that moment Hannah returned with an egg-shaped, thoroughly cushioned pale green backpack-like egg holder. The crown of the sunny orange egg was showing out of the top. Here you go, Hannah handed the egg in its holder to Mari.

Thank you so much! Mari said taking the less-than-one-foot long egg. Are you sure you want to give this to me?

Yes, Matt and Hannah said in unison.

Castform approached the egg with curiousity. What kind of Pokemon is it?

Matt and Hannah started at hearing the Pokemon speak. You can talk? Hannah asked with amazement.

Yup, Castform said, secretly grateful to finally get some attention.

Wow, Matt said. Uh, Mari, dont take this the wrong way, but would you want to trade your Pokemon for one of ours?

Mari was about to refuse when Hannah chided her brother. Oh, Matt, leave her alone!

Sorry, Matt said to both Hannah and Mari. But I just had to ask!

So, Mari continued, Like Castform said. What kind of Pokemon is it?

Hm, Hannah smiled mischievously. I dont think Im going to tell you. Let it be a surprise!

Oh, cmon! Mari protested. Well, then, why dont you just tell me its type? That way Ill be sure not to catch a Pokemon of the same type before it hatches.

Hannah thought for a moment. Oh, alright. Its a fire type.

Mari giggled. Well, thanks for the egg. Dont worry about it too much, I learned in school how to care for eggs. And Ill be sure to call you when it hatches!

Good, Hannah said and wrote the Centers number on a piece of paper.

Mari took it and put it in her backpack. Thanks! Glancing at her watch she said, Oh, I better be leaving! I have to catch the ferry to Dewford.

Okay, Matt said. Well it was nice to meet you both!

The same to both of you! Mari said. Turning to pet Porschia one last time she said, It was nice meeting you too.

Porschia smiled at Mari in goodbye.

Bye! Castform smiled.

Mari waved with her free hand as she left the building, Castform at her side. Back on the paved streets of Slateport, Mari shouldered the eggs sack and quickened her pace.

We should hurry, Castform, she said to her companion. Id like to catch the next ferry to Dewford, and it could be leaving very soon.

Could? Castform asked.

Heh, I forgot to check the ferry times while we were at the Pokemon Center.

Castform shook her head and sped up next to her trainer.

They arrived at the ferry ticket booth at the docks a while later, and both were slightly out of breath. Mari noted in a hurry that the ferry was still there, and slowed to catch her breath.

Turning to her equally expended Castform, she said, Okay, when we get to Dewford, we start some serious training.

Castform smiled at the joke.

Mari approached a small hut with a sign reading Ferry Tickets. On its front were three windows, with a man behind one of them. There was a short line before Mari got up to him.

How may I help you? asked the young employee.

When does the next ferry leave?

At ten oclock, about twenty minutes from now.

Okay, she took her ferry pass from her wallet and displayed it to him. Who do I show this to?

Just have it out as you board the ferry, you can now if you want.

Great, thanks! Mari left the ticket booth and walked down a wooden platform to the ferry, again there was a short line in front of her.

A man with a purple Slateport-Dewford Ferry uniform shirt on stood on the right side of the ramp leading into the ferry. Tickets, please, he was saying.

Mari showed him her pass and he waved her along.

Lets try to get some good seats, Castform, she said anxiously. The ferry was starting to fill up, and Mari headed down the side of the two-story ship. The cool ocean air threatened a chilly ride for those sitting outside. Mari entered a cabin filled with red sofas against grey bay window filled walls. In the middle of the large room was a snack stand.

Perfect, Mari commented. Many people had already taken up the sofas, and Mari sat down at an empty one overlooking the ocean through the windows.

Castform settled into the sofa on her left and Mari placed the egg given her by the Addison siblings on her right, along with her backpack.

Gazing at the egg with a smile she spoke to Castform, I wonder what kind of Pokemon its going to be! They said it would be a fire type. Lets see, theres Magby, Vulpix, Torkoal, Numel, itd be almost impossible to figure out what itll be.

Castform looked over at the golden-orange egg with curiousity. It sure is pretty, she noted.

Mari looked at Castform. Yes, it is. Its beautiful! She glanced at her watch. Well be leaving soon, but this is going to be a four-hour trip.

Four hours?! she replied with anxiety.

You shouldnt get bored. I have reading to do, and I could show you some things in my Pokedex. I also have snacks, and you could always take a nap.

Castform relaxed a bit but remained skeptical.

Mari laughed. You should take advantage of this rest! The instant we hit Dewford, the training begins!

Sure, Castform said and made herself comfortable for the trip.

Oh! Mari exclaimed. I forgot to tell you! I think I came up with the perfect nickname for you.

Really? she perked with interest.

What do you think of Morf? You morph with the weather, and its with an f instead of ph so its more of a name than a word. So she waited for a response.

Castform wrinkled the place where her nose would be if she had one in thought for a moment, but relaxed it shortly. I like it! she announced.

Great! Im glad you like it, Morf.

Morf made a goofy smile upon being called her new name for the first time.

Well, then, Mari said, I guess now we just have to wait out the ride to Dewford.

Four hours later, neither trainer nor Pokemon was in such a cheerful mood.

Ugh, I though wed never get off that thing! Mari said, stretching her arms as they walked off the ferry and onto a wooden boardwalk. A dirt road in front of it could lead to either Dewford City, or the mountainous forest north of the town.

Mari guided Morf towards the northern part of the island, where she explained that they would train for at least a few days before going to the city and challenge Dewfords Gym Leader.

After a fairly short walk, the dirt road led the travelers into the Dewford forest, which surrounded a small cavernous mountain.

Well, Morf, Mari said, we might as well set up a camp now to act as a base for training.

Okay, Morf replied.

They walked off the beaten path for quite a ways until they were submerged in the salt-aired quiet depths of the green, well out of the reach of the casual hiker or trainer. They found a small area in between towering grey-barked trees that wouldnt quite qualify as a clearing, but was large enough for a small campsite.

Using more Pokeball-like technology, similar to her CEIS Bin, Mari soon had a one-person grey tent out a small matching table with two chairs.

Mari then got down to the business of preparing Castform for Dewfords Gym.

Okay, Morf, one more time! Mari called.

Morf, panting, nodded and shot through a small obstacle course of rocks, tree branches, and stumps for about the thirtieth time in an hour. When she finished, she slowly went over to Mari and collapsed in her arms. Okay she panted. Im done.

Mari laughed lightly. You sure are! Youve done a lot today! She carried her Pokemon back to the nearby campsite and winced with every other step as she ruefully recalled the strenuous activities of transporting firewood and then setting up Morfs obstacle course. Theyd both had a good workout.

Mari set Castform down on the small portable table and pulled a potion out of her backpack. After spraying Morfs wounds, Mari set about making dinner. Shed been carrying around the egg all day and placed it on one of the two chairs.

With Morfs help a fire was started, and Mari cooked up a soup from a pre-made mix, and added some fresh vegetables shed found in the forest. By the time they were done eating, it was getting dark and soft starlight trickled through the leaves above them. Going to bed early, Mari had an even more demanding training regimen planned for the next day.

Strawberry Delcatty
March 2nd, 2005, 07:33 PM
Nice chapter...although I'm mad at you for not putting Meowth and Skitty for Mari.

Also, I noticed that toward the end, you switched Castform and her nickname back and forth.

Other than that, great.

Now put Meowth in somewhere before I poison you.

Aiya Quackform
March 3rd, 2005, 12:07 AM
Nice chapter...although I'm mad at you for not putting Meowth and Skitty for Mari.
LOL, sorry.

Also, I noticed that toward the end, you switched Castform and her nickname back and forth.
That was intentional so that readers wouldn't become confused as to who 'Morf' is.

Other than that, great.
Thanks!!!

Now put Meowth in somewhere before I poison you.
[b]*Takes slow step back*

Aiya Quackform
March 15th, 2005, 11:26 PM
Chapter 9: Changes in the Wind

Morf awoke the next morning alone in the tent. Groggily drifting outside, she saw Mari sitting at the table eating a slice of toasted bread.

Morning, Morf! she said.

Morning, she replied. Making her way to the table, she hovered next to Mari to see what was on the menu. Mari had collected several wild berries and fruits, opened a can of mixed nuts, and made toast over a small, now smoldering fire.

I double-checked my PPD, Morf, and all of this food is safe for you to eat, the trainer said.

Okay, thanks, she replied and proceeded to eat a light breakfast.

Mari had the egg in its warm carrying case sitting on the table. Stroking its brilliant red-orange shell, she said, I kept the egg next to me while I was sleeping last night. I felt it move a lot. I even heard it scratching at the shell a few times!

Wow! Castform said, but paused a moment. Does that mean itll be mean like its dad?

Mari recalled that the siblings who gave her the egg said that its father had quite the wild side. No, I dont think so, Morf. But, all I really know for sure is that this egg it going to hatch very soon. Well just have to wait and see what its personality will be like.

Okay, Morf replied. Both finished with their meals, Mari put away the extra food and with the help of Morfs Water Gun cleaned the few used dishes.

Ready for some more training? Mari asked, but Morf doubted shed take no for an answer.

Morf frowned. Her body still ached from the day before and some new pains had emerged overnight. Well, I guess, but Im still really sore.

Well, thats understandable. So, to make it fair, Ill be working out too.

Morf cocked her head. Why?

Mari laughed and put her hand on the back of her head. That walk from the Academy to Slateport and then all the walking yesterday made me realize how out of shape I am!

Oh, she giggled.

For two more days Mari trained with Morf in the forest. They ran, swam in the nearby ocean, practiced basic strategies, and honed Morfs special attacking skills.

*****************************

Meanwhile, in another forest far from Dewford, Stanzi, First Elder of her village, was looking at her reflection in a small pond.

The time is near, she silently said to her reflection. I can sense it. Danger is here, in the background, ready to manifest itself. The time to reunite with our long-lost brethren is at hand. Finally. But can I do it? Can I lead our people?

I know that look, said a gentle, masculine voice behind her.

Reiki, she growled. How many times have I told you not to sneak up on me like that?

Sneak? he laughed. How many times have I told you that I dont sneak up on you? Im just naturally light-footed.

Stanzi let out a small laughing breath. Now is not the time for jokes, Chief Advisor.

Reiki sat next to her and assumed his professional tone before speaking again. The people can also sense the danger. Theyre worried.

They shouldnt be, she replied. Whatever evil does come, we have the Savior.

Yes, but he has not been a real force for confidence for a long time. They all know the tales of old, but there is a silent, insidious doubt growing within them. They worry that we will all die before finding our brothers.

Reiki, we must never forget this, Stanzi said. Our individual survival is secondary. If we as a group cannot get back to our brethren and help them with their task, the entire world will suffer.

I know, Stanzi, he said. But frankly, the people are more worried about themselves right now.

Stanzi curled a corner of her lips with sadness in her green eyes. I worry about them, too.

*****************************

Morf was beginning to run out of breath from exhaling Powder Snow onto the same boulder for the fifteenth time.

Good, Morf, Mari called from a nearby tree stump where she was sitting with the egg in her lap. Youre getting better at sustained special attacks. Try to hold it just a few seconds longer!

Morf frowned at the command, but continued pushing the icy air out of her lungs nonetheless. The intensity of the attack soon dwindled and then stopped. Gasping for more air, Morf gulped several breaths before saying, Thats it, Mari! Thats all I can do.

I know, Mari walked over to her and stroked her head. But you pushed your limits and thats the object of training. Youre doing better!

Morf inwardly doubted that her trainer really understood her limits and that she was actually using mere trial and error, but she kept her mouth shut. Shed gotten mad at Mari the day before for pushing her too hard, but Mari shot back that Morf simply wasnt used to hard training. The altercation had been a source of tension between them since.

In fact, Morf, Mari said, Youre doing so good that I think we should spend a few days relaxing in Dewford!

Really? Mord perked up. After three days of almost non-stop training, anywhere but this dreadful forest sounded wonderful.

Yeah! Mari exclaimed and patted the egg shed been carrying around. Besides, theres a lot of activity going on in there, and itll probably hatch soon. We should be near a Pokemon Center until it hatches.

Oh, Morf said. So thats why she wants to go to Dewford, she thought.

It took about two hours for them to pack up their camp and walk into the ocean-side town. The Pokemon Center was their first stop.

Hello, welcome to Dewford! said the resident Joy in her impossibly joyous tone.

Hi, Mari said and lifted the egg case off her shoulder and gently placed it on the counter. Im pretty sure that this eggll hatch soon. Could you check up on it for me?

Sure, Joy said and nodded. Do you know what species it is?

No.

Do you want to know?

Mari smiled. No, she replied.

Joy nodded and handed the egg to a nearby Chansey. Ill call you over the P.A. when you can pick it up. Whats your name?

Mari Donovan. Thanks, Nurse Joy. Mari turned to Morf and said, You want to get a late lunch?

Morf nodded and followed Mari over to the caf.

After sitting down at a booth and ordering, Morf addressed Mari. I thought you wanted to know what was in the egg?

Huh? the trainer replied.

Well, Nurse Joy said that she could tell you what it was and you said no. I dont understand why.

Oh, Mari smiled and leaned on her forearms. Well, I guess I did make a fuss when Matt and Hannah wouldnt tell me, but over the last few days, Ive gotten excited over having the surprise of what it is when it hatches. Besides, arent you excited about it hatching?

Yeah, I guess, Morf replied. But, well, what will it be like when it hatches?

Oh, are you still nervous about it being mean like its dad? Mari said and sat back in the booth with a chuckle. I dont think you have to worry about it. Ill make sure that it doesnt hurt you or anything.

Morf had actually meant what would her and Maris relationship be like after the egg hatched, but the food then arrived and Morf let it go.

After lunch, Mari still hadnt been called to pick up the egg, so the two went to do some sight-seeing around Dewford. The day was beautiful and cool as it usually is by the ocean, and the sky above them was fairly clear. After awhile they came to the Gym. The large building was simple, but its glistening white metal walls were still imposing.

When are we going to challenge the Gym Leader? Morf asked. Mari had spoken of challenging the Gym often during their training days, but little about when. The only timeframe she gave was, when youre strong enough, Morf. Fortunately, Mari seemed ready to expand on that.

Well, Mari answered, Id like to have at least two Pokemon to challenge the Gym Leader, so probably after the egg hatches and Ive trained it a little bit.

Does that mean my trainings over? Morf asked with interest.

Oh, no, Mari replied. Youll both need more training before we challenge the Gym Leader.

Morf sighed with frustration. Am I not good enough or something?

Mari had time to respond only with raised eyebrows before Morf continued. Ive been working really hard for the last three days, and you still say that Im not ready! Whats wrong with what I can do now?

Nothing, Morf! Mari exclaimed. She appeared utterly shocked at her Pokemons outburst. I never meant to imply that youre not good enough or that youre not improving. Youre doing really well! Im sorry if I didnt tell you that enough. In fact, at almost any other Gym Id say that youre ready. Its just that this Gyms Leader will be using fighting-types, and youre a normal-type! Thats a serious disadvantage! Youre going to have to be far stronger than the Leaders Pokemon to have any hope of winning.

Oh, Morf said and looked down.

But Im glad you told me your concerns, Mari said. You have to be able to tell me when somethings wrong or well never be able to co-operate in battles! Okay?

Morf smiled weakly. Thanks, Mari. She thought for a moment and continued. But what if Im not a normal-type during the battle?

I thought of that, actually. But I havent heard about upcoming rainstorms. I even checked the newspaper back the Center.

Well, what about Rain Dance?

I dont think youre ready for that, Mari said as she shook her head. All weather changing moves are hard for any Pokemon to learn, and you havent been battling that long.

Thats true, Morf said, but pressed on with determination. But its not like I havent been trained at all. Back at the lab, the scientists had been teaching me and the other Castform the basics of weather control. We were about to start actual practice when I asked to be a trainers Pokemon. I can do it, Mari! I know I can!

Mari smiled with pride. Okay, then. After the egg hatches, well go back to the forest and teach you Rain Dance!

The two walked back towards the Center, and soon passed a large park in the middle of town where several trainers were battling.

Hey, Morf, Mari said and stopped walking.

Yeah? she replied.

I really dont think you realize how much youve improved. What do you say to battling one of these trainers?

Okay, Morf nodded, eager to try out her new skills.

They walked off the cement path into the grassy park. Mari scanned the area for available trainers. Heading towards a fountain at the center of the park, Mari spotted a boy - just old enough to be a trainer by the looks of him. But his striking brown eyes soon caught hers. He was looking for an opponent as well. She nodded, and they walked towards each other.

Hello, he said as he brushed his brown hair out of his eyes. Im Ryan. As an afterthought he extended his hand.

Hi, Mari said and shook it. My names Mari. Up for a battle?

Yup, he replied. One-on-one?

Mari agreed and they each turned around and put several paces between them.

Ryan released from his Pokeball a Minun, and nodded his readiness to battle. Mari already had Morf out on the field and returned the gesture. Ryan made the first move.

Tara, Growl, he commanded and the little yellow and blue mouse made a surprisingly deep-throated growl; the sound waves unnerved Morf and decreased her attack strength.

Tara, huh? Mari quickly thought to herself. Guess Attract is out of the picture. Morf, she said aloud, Lets go for the freeze and shatter strategy we practiced! Use Powder Snow!

Morf sped forward towards Minun, and the mouse tried to escape, but Morf quickly matched her stride and expelled a snowy wind over her. The Minun whimpered, and emerged from the attack covered in crystals of ice.

Tara, Thunder Wave! said Ryan.

Dodge it and keep up the Powder Snow, Mari told Morf.

The small grey Pokemon was now the chased as Minun, though very cold, kept up to speed and sent a small electric bolt out at Morf. She managed to dodge the first by back flipping in the air, but Minun quickly changed direction and cornered Morf. The Castform squealed and froze on impact, electricity crackling all over her body.

Mari watched as Minun, under Ryans orders, leapt up into the air at lightning speed in a Quick Attack, sending the defenseless Morf to the ground. Hard. Morf groaned in the grass, but shook her head and lifted herself back up into the air. Minun went at her again in a Quick Attack and Morf spewed out another Powder Snow at her. The force of her attack stopped Minun in her tracks, and this time her cries were louder and she emerged with a thin skin of ice encasing her body. Minun quickly shook it off, however, and went at Morf with another Quick Attack. Morf, her speed greatly diminished, was hit again but did not fall to the ground. Both were panting, but Minuns movements were becoming even more strained than Morfs.

Morf, douse her with water and freeze her! Mari commanded.

Morf allowed herself as a small smile as she carried out the order. Minun tried to use her speed to get away, but her limbs were already starting to go numb from the repeated ice attacks. This time Morf doused her with water with relative ease despite her diminishing paralysis, and immediately followed it with the Powder Snow. Minun was given no time to escape, and squealed as she was encased in a tomb of ice.

Tara! Ryan screamed as he saw his Pokemon ice cube.

Tackle! Mari called out, and Morf backed up a ways from Minun, and dashed towards with as much speed as she could muster. Thankfully, it didnt take much. Morf shattered the ice around Minun, sending the mouse flying, her skin cut & bruised by the flying ice shards. She landed on the grass, unconscious.

Mari smiled until her cheeks hurt as she ran towards Morf. Yes! she shouted.

We won! Morf cried.

Our first win! Mari said.

Congratulations, Ryan said, his Pokeball in hand. He wasnt smiling, but the sentiment appeared genuine.

Thanks, Mari said and bowed slightly out of respect. The younger trainer jogged off, doubtless headed for the Pokemon Center.

Mari grinned. See, I told you that youd improved.

Yeah, Morf said. But I still want to take tomorrow off.

Mari giggled. Agreed. Lets go back to the P.C. to get you fixed up and pick up the egg.

Morf nodded and allowed herself to be carried by Mari.