Chapter Five brings with it a speech, a battle, and the unexpected appearance of new characters!
(the remakes that R/S/E deserved)
/ Chapter Five /
"so i herd u batle PKMN TRAINERZ?"
Littleroot Town, Hoenn ~ 11 AM; three days later
It had taken a few days, but finally Hazel had conceded that Birch had a point. There was no use waiting for her parents to get enough money to move back just so that she could attend college. And besides, sixteen was a good age to start out as a trainer. Ten was the minimum age to apply for a trainer's license, but most applicants below fourteen were rejected unless they came from a 'trainer background' (basically meaning that two or more of their close relatives were trainers with a license of Rank Two or above) or were able to provide proof that they had passed all the required tests to be a trainer - basically meaning that anyone below fourteeen with an official trainer's license was either blue-blooded (so to speak) or a prodigy. Sixteen was the recommended age to begin training, according to the governments of most Trainer Nations. They were old enough to pursue training as either a hobby or a career, mature enough to be competent trainers, and young enough to learn the necessary skills.
The money was another point the professor had made, and it was relevant. Hazel had no allowance - Norman had been willing to pay for most of the stuff she wanted - rendering her effectively penniless. And, being a rebellious teenager and all that, she wanted independence of finance, freedom to earn, whatever you want to call it. She also doubted Norman would be able to pay for college in time for her to seek admission from one. And time. She had to find some way of killing time while Norman earned enough to repay his taxes. If she wanted to make enough money to go to college all by herself, she would probably need a good six months or so, at the very least.
In the end, Hazel had marched up to Angie and said, "I want to go on the League circuit."
Once Angie and Norman were convinced she was serious, there had been the matter of her getting a Pokemon. Norman was about to suggest Hazel get a Zigzagoon - which she wouldn't mind, considering her other option - when, by a twist of fate, Professor Birch popped in to ask if Hazel wanted 'her Mudkip' back yet. This of course led to Norman and Angie siding with Birch - the former enthusiastically ranted on and on about how rare Mudkip were, and how lucky Hazel would be to get one.
So it was that Hazel Ruby now found herself in Birch's office yet again. This time, the office was slightly cleaner due to the absence of coffee cups and moth-eaten beanbags strewn on the floor. Rikuya slouched on Birch's chair, toying with a large white knit hat with fascinatingly large, pointy bits sticking out of the top. Hazel presumed that if he wore it, he'd look like he had long, spiky white hair.
"Hazel!" the man himself cried, leaning against his desk with a broad grin, looking as though he hadn't just ruined her journey right at the start. "Welcome to the world of - er, no. Wrong speech. Hang on." Birch looked through a few loose sheets on his desk until he found one. "Ah, yes. It must be this one."
Clearing his throat, the professor began, speaking loudly as though he was addressing a huge auditorium packed to the rafters rather than a small room with two teenagers in it. "Hazel! I've heard so much about you from your father!" He paused for dramatic effect, continuing after a second. "I've heard that you don't have your own Pokemon yet. But the way you battled earlier! You pulled it off with such aplomb!" His beam was that of a man proud to have used the word 'aplomb', despite not having the remotest idea what it meant.
"I guess you have your father's blood in your veins, after all!" Birch continued, his tone now honeyed with layers of admiration oozing off his tongue like grease from a MacHiavelly's cheeseburger. "So, as thanks for rescuing me and as a Pokemon to begin your journey with, ladies and gentlemen, I give you ... Doug!"
Birch presented Hazel with a PokeBall, which she grudgingly took. As she stuffed it into her pocket, he exclaimed, "I have an idea! While you're at it, why not give Mudkip a nickname?"
"Uh, doesn't it have one already?" Hazel pointed out. "You just called him Doug."
"Don't question this," Birch said. "It's a ritual for trainers to nickname their starters."
"No, it's not."
"All right." Birch sighed. "He doesn't like the name 'Doug'," he explained. "He won't respond to any commands given if you call him that. You can call him ‘Mudkip’ if you like, but that'll confuse the hell out of you if you battle another trainer with a Mudkip."
"Um, OK," Hazel muttered. After a second of thought, she pulled Mudkip's PokeBall back out and hit the switch, releasing the antisocial amphibian. "Hey, Mudkip," she said. "How'd you like to be renamed Finn instead?"
Mudkip - formerly Doug - considered its new name and shrugged.
"Well, he didn't give the finger," Hazel stated. "So I guess he's OK with it." At this, the newly rechristened Finn twitched its Mohawk-like fin at Hazel. "Hey, no attitude from you," she growled. "Or I rename you ... Zuzu!" She looked on in triumph as Finn flinched at the idea of his 'torture name'. Rikuya, who had been watching Mudkip from the start, snickered.
"Actually," Birch commented, "you can't legally rename a Pokemon unless you do the necessary legal formalities on the League's website."
Finn grinned, but Hazel said, "Yeah, like that's gonna stop me from calling him Zuzu anyway." Rikuya laughed again at this, causing Finn to glare at him. The Mudkip ran up to Rikuya and glomped down on his ankle with surprising strength for a small and quite weak Pokemon. Rikuya winced, screwing up his face into an expression of anger and pain, and reached down, yanking away Finn. The two glared angrily at each other. Rikuya dug into his bag, retrieving a single card from his deck, which he then presented to Hazel.
"'PKMN TRAINER RIKUYA would like to battle!'" Hazel read. "Titling yourself with Pokemon Trainer, using all caps, writing only the consonants of 'Pokemon', and then alternating even those letters between subscript and superscript ... I have no words to describe the extent of your lameness."
Rikuya simply shrugged, jamming down the white hat on his head, and retrieved a PokeBall from his backpack - at this, Birch intervened. "Hey, kids," he said, sounding a little alarmed. "Take it outside, alright? I have important research in here!"
I bet you do, thought Hazel, seeing him reach sneakily for the TV remote. She grabbed a decidedly battle-ready Finn in her arms (Note to self, she thought drily, buy leash for the Mudkip) and walked away.
The teens found that the lawn just outside the lab could serve as a perfectly serviceable arena for their battle, so Hazel let Finn loose, and the Mudkip sprang onto the grass, looking around warily. Rikuya hit the switch on his PokeBall, and, in a burst of light -
"Holy mother of - what the hell is that?!"
'That' was a green reptile, its face a short snout over which hovered two lemon-yellow eyes, beady and distrustful. It hopped from one three-toed leg to another. A large green tail, split into two halves that curled at the end, stood stiffly at its back, and its underside and throat were light red. The bipedal lizard's snout curved into a smirk as it observed its target. Rikuya produced a card from his pocket and lifted it up to reveal a few words printed in a large bold font: GEKO THE TREECKO.
"Imaginative, aren't we?" Hazel snarked, imagining what Rikuya would say if he could speak. Hazel, meet Geko, he'd say loftily. Geko, Hazel. And then, Oh, and Finn. Mustn't forget Finn.
Hazel snapped out of her daydream on hearing a startled cry of "Kii-ip!" Geko had vanished into the taller shrubs at the far end of the lawn, and had suddenly darted out to catch Finn on the side with a punch before slipping back into the shrubbery.
"Finn, use ... uh, Tackle!" Hazel commanded. Finn lowered his head and charged, but Geko - who was much more agile - had already evaded the attack, leaping nimbly out of the way. "Keep using Tackle!"
It didn't seem to be working. Every attack Finn used, Geko dodged, even managing to counterattack with a punch a few times. How does he do it?, Hazel wondered, as the Treecko disappeared back into the shrubbery after Finn had uttered yet another defeated groan. He's not even verbally commanding him. It's like ... the bond between them is so strong, they don't even need words to express it ...
Wait, what am I thinking? Hazel mentally slapped herself, watching Finn barely avoid one of the reptile's faster attacks. It's definitely not something that sappy, or Treecko would already have evolved - if he even can. Dammit, I know nothing about these Hoenn Pokemon!
Suddenly, Geko slipped out from behind Finn, landing a punch that actually caused the Mudkip to stumble and fall over backwards. Hazel had seen enough battles on TV to know that Geko had landed a surprise attack more powerful than normal, boosted by a surge of adrenaline - a critical hit. Finn keeled over, exhausted. The battle was over. She'd lost.
a ship just off the coast of Lilycove ~ 11:10 AM
"'There is very little one can say on the subject of pirates that has not already been said. It can also be said that there is very little one can say on the subject of pirates that has not already been said and proved wrong. Understandably, any reader observing the preceding sentence would experience considerable befuddlement, especially as' -"
The pirate looked up from his book. "What in the name of Neptune is this sh*t?"
"Dunno," said his bulky companion, shrugging. "The boss made it kim - kump - 'impulsory readin', 'e said."
The pirate sighed and threw The Esteem'd Almanack of Maritime Marauding at the other man, who caught it. "The depths we've sunk to, Matt," he said sadly. "The depths -"
The brooding of the two pirates was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a tall, dark stranger at the door of the cabin. Flinching as though he'd been slapped, the first pirate jumped to his feet, kicking away the chair he'd been sitting on, while Matt saluted the stranger.
"Er, hello, boss," the first man stuttered. "We - we were j-just reading -"
"I do not," said the stranger, "want your foolish explanations. I want to know why we are still here and have not already disembarked." His tone was bored and his accent exotic, each word a soft hiss.
"Diss-what?" Matt's face was blank, and he looked more like a bodybuilder counting money than a pirate.
"Disembarked," the stranger snarled. "Dis. Em. Barked."
"This who barked?"
At this, the stranger gave up, bemoaning his fate, and snapped, "Why haven't we left?"
"We're waiting on two more of the crew, boss," said the first pirate.
"Why aren't they here yet?" hissed the stranger angrily. "We should have raised anchor half an hour ago!"
"I think," Matt said slowly - thinking was not one of his strong points, "that those be 'em comin' up there."
The boss let out a long, sibilant breath in the manner of one who has finally received that puppy he always wanted for Christmas, and stalked away, no doubt to rebuke the latecomers. If this had been the opening scene of a movie - the fact remains that it is not the opening scene of a movie, however, and so these following lines are unnecessary. But all the same, if this was a movie, at this point the camera would have followed the boss out of the dark, cramped cabin, leading into the bright sunlight over the open seas. The camera would spiral around the boss, revealing that the black formal jacket he wore was indeed an Armani, that he kept the buttons open purposely so as to reveal muscular and slightly hairy pectorals and that he wore a small pendant around his neck, one with a small charm in a stylised shape - a charm made out of real Corsola bone.
It would continue spiralling around him, zooming out as it did to reveal that he stood on the deck of a magnificent modern-day recreation of a double-decked, triple-masted sixteenth-century galleon, with a stainless steel hull, canvas sails and fifty menacing guns, with the deck teeming with a crew of fifty or so men - and a handful of women as well - all dressed in black-and-white striped shirts and blue pants, with blue cloths tied around their heads. As the camera spiralled up, it would zoom in on a crewman at the crow's nest, revealing a strange mark on the cloth he wore on his head. It would pan around his spyglass and reveal that above him flew a black flag, one on which was emblazoned the very same strange mark: the same shape that was worn as a pendant around the tall, dark stranger's neck. A circle with a spike on the top of it, and two small protrusions emerging diagonally from the bottom right and left sides of the circle. It was a capital letter 'A', but reminiscent of a skull-and-crossbones insignia - the modern-day Jolly Roger.
It was the Pirate's Brand, and it was borne by a ship of pirates; it was the flag of the Black Lady Aqua.