→ Route 29
Entering MAO had been wonderful. To open her eyes in a body that was everything she had ever dreamed of, and to be able to run wild with pokémon in a landscape more vibrant than the dull reality could offer, all together with Malcolm; the only friend who had ever cared as much about her as she had tried to care about them. Or at least that was how she saw it. The first day, they spent just getting used to their new shapes and getting to know their first pokémon on the uneventful Route 29. Then, the lockdown happened. A minor panic ensued among the trainers in New Bark town. Some set off immediately, not wanting to stay inside the game for longer than necessary. Some of those fell victims to simple child NPC trainers in the first route, due to impatience. Christina and Malcolm were among those who grouped together and went to Cherrygrove. The larger city had everything one would need for living a good life within the game. It seemed like Malcolm was content with that, while other players strove on towards the first gym that was supposedly in Violet City in the north.
They stayed in Cherrygrove for five days. Christina realized that Malcolm only wanted to protect her by pretending that he was ok with staying behind and not really playing the game. She did not want to upset him, so she played along. When a NPC trainer asked for a battle on the outskirts of the city at the end of the fifth day, Christina therefore declined. Surprisingly, Malcolm took up the offer instead. She often wondered why he did it. Perhaps because he was genuinely bored with laying low, perhaps because he wanted to impress her.
He would never impress her again, or do anything. He drifted away with the wind to become part of the game on a deeper level... Or perhaps he was just simply gone now. Or maybe he woke up in the real world. Nevertheless, Christina was still here and Malcolm was not. She was alone. The shock made her distrustful. She decided to start to think of herself as Krissu rather than her old name. She needed to change and become stronger. It had taken the death of her friend for her to realize how real this was. Surreal in a way, but it was her new reality. Johto. And the only way to get out of here and not make Malcolm's death futile, was to make herself strong and finish the game. She would never give up.
Route 29 was beautiful in the morning. The trees and the blue sky with its calm clouds did not look like any 3D rendering Krissu had ever seen before. They were as real as her brain could imagine them, and she had quite the vivid imagination. The road wriggled through the grassy landscape all the way to New Bark in the east. But she would not go that far today. She came to find recruits for her troop.
Krissu's hair fluttered behind her in the morning wind, apart from the two loose braids that were too heavy and hung down in front of her shoulders. Her face was expressionless. In her arms sat a purple little pokémon, wearing a smile that contrasted with that of his trainer's. Krissu had quickly learned that Litwick's flame did not hurt her. She guessed what the pokédex info she remembered from outside of MAO didn't really apply here; that Litwick supposedly sucked the energy out of her soul. Or perhaps he could do that, but let her be since she was his trainer. His skin felt rubbery and cold against hers, even though he was a fire type. She guessed he was more of a ghost than a fireball. Ghosts were generally associated with cold air, weren't they?
The grass to their right rustled and Krissu reacted immediately. "Litwick, Ember," she said. The little pokémon jumped down onto the ground and lit up its purple flame a bit more. It then shot orange embers at the moving grass. Normally, it would probably be enough to just step out into the grass, and wild pokémon would jump at Krissu by themselves. At least in this route with low leveled, common pokémon. But Krissu felt rebellious at the moment, and no one was looking anyways.
The embers burned through the tall grass and hit the pokémon hiding there. It squeaked but didn't run. Instead it ran at Litwick and Tackled it, making the ghost fall backwards. Krissu easily recognized this pokémon without a pokédex. Rattata. Probably the most common pokémon alive. It was purple, much like Litwick was. And it looked feisty.
"Heh. You'll do fine," Krissu said. "Litwick, Smog."
Litwick's flame blew out a purple cloud that tried to envelop Rattata, hurting it's lungs. But the rat was too quick and set off with a Quick Attack, making the Smog miss its target. Litwick was hit... but the attack did nothing. Rattata jumped straight through the body of the candle pokémon. That seemed to surprise the pokémon. Krissu noted that even MAO's wild pokémon seemed to have thoughts and emotions. At least it was a well programmed game. But still evil.
Litwick's flame now turned orange as it blew out a small tornado of fire that encircled the rat, locking it in place and burning it.
"Night Shade," Krissu said without thinking. Litwick followed orders and stretched its morning shadow out to attack and frighten the rat. The Fire Spin dissolved as the new attack came in, but when the shadow touched Rattata, all the rat did was to stare at it with an angry look. It was not hurt.
"Oh, right! Normal type moves do not affect ghost pokémon, but ghost attacks do not affect normal pokémon either..." How stupid would she have to be to forget that? Apparently pretty preoccupied with thoughts, at least. The next second, Rattata jumped forward and attacked with Bite. Litwick screamed and Krissu watched its health bar go down below half. Her digital heart stopped for a moment. No. She would not be reckless enough to lose against something as simple as this. No.
"Ember!" she shouted. Litwick was in pain but managed to blow out embers into Rattata's face. The lower leveled pokémon had had too much. It was on the verge of fainting. Krissu wasn't sure if wild pokémon fainting in this game would mean that she couldn't capture them, just like in the old games. To be sure, she withdrew Litwick to its pokéball to rest now, and pulled out an empty pokéball from the blue bag before Rattata fell over completely. She threw it towards the pokémon and it was as if the ball was drawn to it. It touched down on the purple rat, opened up and sucked it in with a red light. It only twitched once before the red and white ball came to a stop on the ground. Rattata was caught.
Krissu fell to her knees and let out a breath she didn't know that she had been holding. So close... it only took so little to bring a player down in this unforgiving game. That was why she needed Rattata too. And even more pokémon. To secure herself. There was no room for errors, no forgiveness if you were reckless. She picked up the pokéball and put it in the same pocket as Litwick's ball. It was time to get a move on; she had lingered behind the front lines for too long. She began walking back to Cherrygrove City.