Bugging Out: Part 1
It was starting to get on the boy's nerves, how often the two would carry on their rants about bugs and being creeped on from behind, but Zanas couldn't complain due to Pepper's win ratio thus far. She started at such a low level but now she was almost matched with Duke and the other two, and all they were fighting were wild Weedles and Caterpies. Even so.
"How much longer until we get out of this damned forest of death?!" Melody screamed openly to the sky. Zanas wasn't sure if this was a question directed toward him, or anyone in particular.
"We haven't even been here for an hour yet and you've already screamed your lungs out over twenty times." Zanas said, sharply. "How have you not suffered a heart attack by now?"
"Good cardio and I never go outside of a town or city unless it's totally necessary!" She snapped back.
"She really picked the wrong profession if she didn't want to travel into the wilds." Babe said plainly.
Zanas and Prince snickered at this. Melody, getting flustered, turned bright red again. I'm getting more used to that face than her usual one. Zanas thought, and almost said aloud to his Pokémon.
"You said you would escort me out of this forest and quickly as safely as possible," Melody barked, jabbing her finger into Zanas's chest.
"And I will." Zanas grabbed Melody's hand as she jabbed her finger at him, and threw it to the side with little resistance. "But we can't just run through here blindly. This place is like a maze if you're not paying attention to where you're going, so we need to keep calm and walk." Zanas emphasized the word 'calm' as he poked Melody's forehead, pushing her back a bit.
Melody puffed her cheeks and crossed her arms, turning on her heels and marching forward, too angry to be scared anymore, or at least that's what Zanas hoped. The forest was exactly like any other; long, winding and full of trees that all looked the same. There were a few paths between the numerous hundred year giants, but some paths stretched into dead ends, or worked as long ways around shorter routes. The forest was like a kindergarten corn maze; simple and easy to navigate, but long and tiresome to track through.
As they walked on, Pepper flew to the boy's shoulder, panting hard and shaking and shivering worse than Whismur, a pink bunny looking Pokémon that was prone to vibrate and make murmuring noises when at its most calm.
"You doing alright Pep?" Zanas asked as he reached to pet her.
The Pidgey nodded as his hand ran down her head to her back, calming her down a bit but not enough to make her stop shaking. "They're….they're everywhere. They just don't stop…."
Prince laughed openly about this and climbed up his trainer's pant leg to the other shoulder. "To be fair, Twitchy, most were just offering to show us the way out."
"I know, but," Pepper peeped as she pulled from Zanas's hand. "…they just keep sneaking up behind me and those Weedles have those large poisonous stingers on their heads and those freaky Caterpie's with their large soulless eyes…like a doll's eyes!"
Zanas turned his gaze to Pepper, Duke turning with him. "You want to switch out with the others for a bit? Just to relax?" Pepper nodded, smiling lightly. As much of a surprise powerhouse this little bird was, she still needed to take breaks here and there or else she would pass out from exhaustion, whether from fighting or screaming.
"What's a doll?" Duke asked, clinging to Zanas's pant leg. The trainer picked up the youngest of his team and placed him on top of his fedora, petting the lizard as it gleefully rolled into the indentation of the hat.
"It's a soft little look alike of people or Pokémon," Zanas explained. "Most of the time they are cute and cuddly. Like you."
Duke beamed a smile and hugged the top of Zanas's hat. "So why do you think they are creepy, Pepper?"
The Pidgey looked to Duke, her eyes wide with fear as she recalled what a doll looked like. "Because they have large black empty eyes that just stare at you endlessly, never moving or blinking!"
Duke frowned and crawled forward to look at Zanas. "Does that make me creepy? "
Prince snickered at the desperation in the Charmander's voice. "Kid, the only thing you could scare is a bug or grass type and even that is pushing it."
Zanas resisted the urge to knock some sense into Prince since this half insult half compliment seemed to cheer Duke back up.
"Hey guys?" Babe tugged on Zanas's pant leg. "I hate to break up the cute character moment with you all, but where did the Melody go?"
An answer came in the form of a loud, ear-splitting scream to the north. Babe scampered to the nearest tree and leaped from branch to branch, leaping from branch to branch, as Zanas followed closely behind, kicking up pieces of grass and dirt as he sprinted hard toward the source of the screaming. Pepper, Duke and Prince all clutched to Zanas's clothing, Pepper screaming as the boy picked up speed.
When they found her, Zanas skid to a halt, kneeling next to Melody, who seemed to have been knocked backward, and looked in shock.
"What happened? Why did you scream?" Zanas turned to see a boy, not much older looking than ten, wearing shorts, a white t-shirt, sandals and a straw hat and holding a large bug catcher net.
"So….does that mean I win?"
"If those kids didn't have betting money from the battles, they wouldn't have been worth the trouble," Zanas grunted, as he and his team limped lazily toward the forest exit.
"Too exhausted…for witty comeback," Prince gasped between breaths as he let his body rest limply, like a wet towel on his trainer's shoulder. Duke was just as exhausted, weakly sprawled on top of Zanas's hat, panting heavily as he looked toward the sky.
"I don't like bugs. They are annoying and stupid," The fire lizard wheezed. Even Pepper was exhausted, though she had screamed herself into her stupor. She laid in Zanas's arms, wings open and dead looking, her eyes wide open and staring, just like the dolls she hates.
"If I never see a bug type Pokémon it will be too soon," The white monkey griped for the first time since meeting Zanas. "I almost feel like head butting a tree for entertainment."
"That would give you even more of a headache," Duke moaned
Zanas huffed out a laugh. "Speaking of headaches, Melody hurry your ass up!"
"Excuse me!" the girl said as if not comprehending what Zanas said, which was possible as she too was panting, limping behind the boy and his team. "That is not how you talk to a lady."
Zanas lazily turned his gaze to the Melody, attempting to glower at her but just gave her a look that, if she had noticed, would have confused her. "Maybe not but it IS how I talk to ear-splitting harpy, like yourself."
Melody had been spooked when she ran into the bug catcher boy, who, in her words, assaulted her with a Caterpie, a green skinned and yellow -bellied segmented worm Pokémon with a red y-shaped horn on its head. When she screamed, she doubled over and started kicking wildly in the air trying to fling the insect off of her leg.
The boy then screamed, yelling that she was trying to hurt his Caterpie and the entire argument escalated from there, until the boy's brothers rushed to the youngest sibling's rescue. The fights weren't difficult for Zanas or his team to handle, Babe staying back and letting Duke and Pepper deal most of the damage while Prince ran circles around every worm and cocoon Pokémon thrown at them. The catchers never stood a chance; however these battles did last longer than necessary, what with the cocoon creatures, Metapod, a green-shelled evolved form of Caterpie, and Kakuna, the yellow-shelled evolution to Weedle, all used their harden ability to make them more and more difficult to knock out.
After giving Zanas his winnings, the handful of brothers ran off, all crying over how they ever could have lost to such a jerk. Even the eldest, who looked about sixteen, was crying.
After all the chaos, and more hiking, the group had reached a building intersection that jutted out from the north of the forest, or north compared to the boy's line of vision. This building was the only thing separating the forest from the city ahead, Pewter, and the only place to rest for the night under a cool roof. What should have been a two day trip through the woods, had been jumped to a six hour run, thanks to the events that had taken place, but in a way Zanas was much more grateful. After over staying his welcome in Viridian City, he felt like he had made up for the lost time with all the running, and sooner than later he would have his very first badge.
Zanas pictures his first victory as a professional trainer. His first real gym battle would be a complete success.
His imagination was let free, with a parade and cute girls and all, until he hit a soft feminine wall. Zanas leaned to the side, as did his Pokémon as they looked to see why exactly Melody had stopped. Sure enough, it was because of another bug. A Metapod, just sitting, or standing depending on the person, in the way of air conditioning soft couches and food.
"You want me to take care of this, or you going to stand here for a while." Zanas said, poking the girl's side and making her jump to the right and slap his hand.
"Just!...just take care of this." She sighed, folding her arms around herself as she continued to watch the Pokémon.
Zanas rolled his eyes, wondering where her previous blood lust for Pokémon had gone. He walked to the Metapod, his team jumping down from their trainers frame and followed close behind. As Zanas neared the green shell Pokémon, he knelt down and locked eyes with the creatures. It looked like every other Metapod he had faced today. A hard green shell that was bent to make the face of the creature, or where a face would be, push forward, with large black eyes that, unlike Peppers description, were very much full of life and at the top of the shell was two sharp edges poking out in a v shape with a large dull point in between, shooting foreword to the sky.
"So," Zanas began, not attempting to hide his exhaustion. "Let me make this clear. I, and my friends are tired, and you are horribly low leveled compared to them.
"I can see that." The Metapod spoke, to Zanas's amazement. He never thought to get an answer out of the living shell, or at least nothing audible. The voice was deep and the accent sounded very Irish. The creature's words rolled and emphasized more on the "I" and "eh" sound more than anything. I'm way too tired to question why. Zanas thought
"So…if we agree on that, then I can assume we can agree that neither of us is up for a fight, correct?"
The Metapod looked away for a moment as if it were thinking intently about what Zanas had said, but answered just as quickly as before. "Aye, I would prefer to avoid trouble."
Zanas smiled, already liking this Metapod; so easy to convince and rationalize with. "So here's the deal. If you move….or allow me to put you to the side, I won't have to do anything rash and exert myself and you won't…"
"Be flung into the far reaches of the unknown?" The Metapod finished Zanas's sentence, making sound like less of a question and more of a fact.
"Exactly. So how about it? No trouble?"
Again the Metapod looked to its side, now taking a moment to contemplate what was said. Its eyes, like babes, shimmered and smiled for its lack of mouth. "Agreed."
"Awesome" Zanas reached to pick up the Metapod, thankful to avoid another fight he didn't want.
Zanas froze still and glared hatefully at the bug Pokémon. The two locked eyes, staring each other down, neither about to move or blink.
"What?" Zanas asked, with bile.
"You take me with you"
"Why would we want to bring a statue with us?" Prince asked, jumping from Zanas's back to behind the Pokémon. He lightly pushed the shell over, it wiggling desperately to keep still but ultimately failing and falling face first.
"Your right bastard!" It screamed, struggling desperately to sit back up again.
"He does have a point." Babe interjected as she walked over and sat the insect back up. "You have no attacks other than harden correct? That isn't exactly a skill we need for this team."
"Besides I'm sick of bugs." Duke whines. "You are all mean and annoying.
"That right there is racism" the Metapod said in an "as a matter of fact" tone.
"What's that?" Duke asked, tilting his head.
The Metapod looked dumbly at the Charmander, as Babe sighed, her eyes smiling at Dukes cuteness, while Prince snickered at the newborn's naiveté.
Zanas knelt back down to pet Duke. "I'll explain that later. In the mean time." Zanas looked to the Metapod questionably. "Why do you want to come with us?"
The Metapod's eyes grew wide in shock, then in anger. "Are you daft boyo? All I've ever known, ever seen is this bloody forest. I've grown quite tired of this place. Even when I was just a wee Caterpie all I ever wanted was to travel the globe? But I was a bloody worm! No one wanted me. So I decided to make myself evolve and grow strong enough to either leave on my own or for some daft human, like yourself, to bring me along."
Zanas took offense to the "daft" comment but decided to let it slide, motioning the Pokémon to hurry up.
"Meh point is that I want to get the hell out of this place!"
Duke covered his mouth and chuckled. "He said a bad word...right?"
Everyone but the Metapod found this worth laughing for, and instead shouted multiple swears, to the horror of the others.
"Hey, hey, relax." Zanas said, as he placed a hand on the irate creature. "I get the need to want to leave, but you're still not making a case for yourself. I need a strong team, a balanced team." Zanas looked to the squad already amassed, showing themselves off to further the point. Zanas looked back to the Metapod, with the most serious face he could muster. 'What do you offer?"
The Metapod blankly stared at the trainer, as if the question asked was so simple it insulted the creature's inelegance.
"I evolve into a psychic type. And I'll have bug type moves that are effective against water and grass types."