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DISCLAIMER: If I owned Pokemon, HR wouldn't be fanfiction. And also, there would be no need for disclaimers.
Well, well, it seems Fanfiction here is in need of a saviour. Here you go: a fic from me! This is an adaptation of games that, oddly, do not exist (yet). The games in question are the remakes of Ruby and Sapphire that I'm sure we were all expecting to come out in the fifth generation; unfortunately, they didn't, and I'm here to fix that. In short, this is a journeyfic set in Hoenn.
the remakes R/S/E deserved
The story is also on FanFiction.Net and Serebii.Net's forums. If you really want to read it on another site for whatever reason, read it on Serebii - I rarely go back and edit chapters on FFN because of how clunky their system is. Serebii is usually the most up-to-date; I post there first, most of the time.
Summary: A retelling of the Hoenn-based third gen games, Ruby and Emerald (not Sapphire, though!). Norman is in hiding in Hoenn, his daughter is on her Pokemon journey and no one knows who exactly Slade is. Features three things Pokemon really needs more of: bounty hunters, crazed tax collectors, and plot.
Rating: T/PG-15 for frequent mild swearing (hell, sh*t and the like), infrequent strong swearing (you may see a few F-bombs, but not many), violence (significantly more realistic than cartoon violence, read: people will blow up) and blood.
WARNING: This fic comes pre-packaged several factors the Pokemon world and games should have but doesn't, examples being bounty hunters, crazed tax collectors and, most importantly, plot. It also twists around events from the games and adds in some more significant characters to the story. At times, it ignores (and occasionally, blatantly spits in the face of) Established Canon A, all the while hypocritically alluding to Established Canon B.
On a more serious note, the author's notes at the end of most chapters are basically long, worldbuilding based insights into my mind. No like, no read.
/ Prologue /
the Hoenn region ~ 4:00 PM [four days ahead of Chapter 1]
Lush green tropical forests. Vast, blistering deserts. Bleak, smoking volcanic mountains. Small mountainside towns with volcanic ash raining down. Sprawling industrial ports with shipyards and ferries. Huge, azure seas dotted with archipelagos and lone islands.
This was the region of Hoenn.
The man in the plane surveyed the scenery below impassively, ignoring the slight rocking of turbulence, as his lone companion in the cabin of the small private jet growled a little in response to the force of the air. Ignoring the small, feral reptile, he pressed the intercom button by the mahogany table he was seated at. A crackly female voice replied, "Yes, Mr Slade?"
"Where are we, and how long before we reach our ... location?" There was a short pause, before the woman replied, "We're currently over the sea by Pacifidlog Town, Mr Slade. It'll take an hour to arrive, at least."
'Mr Slade' released the intercom button and glanced at the beast in the corner - it was now scratching itself with its short claws. "Alright then, Fenrir," he muttered. "I think I should do it now." He lifted a small briefcase from between his legs and opened it. Inside was a flat video screen. Unfolding an antenna from the side, he hit a button on the briefcase. The screen immediately lit up, displaying a crackling, low-quality image of a tall, grey-haired man in a suit. He sat in a high-backed chair, and wore a grey, opaque visor that prevented Slade from seeing any of his face but his mouth.
"Well, Mr Slade," the man in the chair said. "How goes the mission?"
"I'm en route to Rustboro City," said Mr Slade. The frequency he was now broadcasting on was encrypted, and so he could speak freely. "As agreed, we will meet in three days."
"Excellent," his employer said, but his tone suggested boredom. "The bounty remains at a price of two hundred and fifty thousand Hoennian dollars, also as agreed."
With a curt nod, Slade sheathed the antenna. The message "NO SIGNAL" flashed onscreen, until he pressed the power button as well. And with that, Slade leaned back and fell asleep.
Mahogany Town, the Johto region ~ 4:00 PM - two months prior to Chapter 1
A small house overlooking the rest of the city, with only three people in it. A peaceful house.
An obviously furious man stormed through the villa, his red leather jacket flapping in the cold mountain wind. His right hand was clenched in a fist; his left, he ran through his sparse, coarse black hair.
"Goddamn," Norman Ruby muttered to himself. "First they fire me from the Gym for not paying 'trainer taxes' - whatever they are - and now they're trying to evict me? Taxes, taxes, taxes, I'm sick of 'em all!" He collapsed into an armchair and a worried expression took his face. "Damn! The tax officers will probably be looking out for me now ..." The doorbell rang, and, still worried, Norman opened the door. An old man stood at the doorstep, leaning on a cane. He wore a long blue coat, and a long white scarf hung loose around his neck, flapping weakly in the breeze.
"You!" thundered Norman, his expression returning to its previous fury. "How dare you show your face in my house after what you did!"
The old man's poker face gave away nothing. He replied, "I did nothing with intent to harm. All I did was inform the League that you haven't paid your trainer taxes for the past three quarters - merely my duty as Gym Leader."
"I always knew you had it in for me, Townsend," growled Norman. "Get out!"
"If you wish so," Pryce W Townsend replied. "But I merely came to warn you that the League has finally sentenced you."
"Sentence?" Norman laughed bitterly. "The League is in shambles! One week after defeating the Oak boy, our Champion has resigned to go off to Mount Silver of all places - and just a few days after we discover that one of our most respected Gym Leaders is an underworld don, a gangster, a - a criminal mastermind! Now they've appointed the most egotistical man in the whole region to act as Champion! What's next? Your retirement?"
"Hardly," Pryce snorted. "But, as per my duty, I must inform you that you've been sentenced to immediate relocation."
"Where to?" the younger man snapped. "Viridian needs a Gym Leader after all. Or perhaps they've delegated me back to a normal trainer and they're going to make me go to Oak for a Bulbasaur?"
Pryce's face lost composure, and for an instant, a sly, malevont smirk appeared on the old man's visage. Then he reasserted his blandness. "Hard to have a conversation at your doorstep, isn't it?"
A few minutes later, the two men were seated at a small coffee table. Norman had claimed his favourite armchair; Pryce had perched his weary old body upon a humble stool. Both were staring intensely at each other, as Pryce finished explaining Norman's sentence.
"That's career suicide," said Norman, his expression one of horror.
"Moving to New Bark Town," Pryce replied, "is not career suicide. Career suicide is being delegated to Violet City. New Bark is perfect!"
"New Bark," Norman said, "is a ghost town. Nobody except Elm lives there, and we all know how he is. Besides, I refuse to be appointed Gym Leader in that ... place!" He spat the last word, unable to find a suitably derogatory description for the eastern-most town in Johto.
"Oh, you're not Gym Leader," Pryce said amicably. "The League has revoked your trainer's license."
"Then ... then ..." Norman was shocked speechless.
Pryce allowed himself a smile. "I know what you must be thinking. Your trainer's license is your life. But it's not. You can live peacefully, happily. Think of it as retiring early."
"Almost three decades early," Norman protested.
Pryce's smile vanished, his tone becoming serious. "Damn it, boy! Accept your punishment!"
The previously docile man stood up, his face darkening. At slightly over six feet tall and almost a hundred and ninety pounds, Norman Ruby was an impressive man. "Get," he snarled, "out of my house." And with that he strode to the door and pulled it open. Pryce sighed in annoyance and walked away. As the old man walked down the mountain path, his parting words drifted up to Norman: "You'll have to give in some time ..."
Norman took a deep breath as he considered his situation. Right, so last month, I finally qualified to be a Gym Leader. But Townsend didn't like having to retire, so he did a little snooping, and found a tiny clause somewhere that says I should have paid some tax for being a Gym Trainer. He reports it to the League. They do nothing, seeing as they were dealing with the Rockets around that time. A few weeks later, this small-town boy suddenly manages to single-handedly bring down Giovanni's criminal empire and expose him as the leader of the Rockets. After Giovanni is officially fired, aforementioned boy goes on to win the League by defeating then Champion, Gary Oak (who, surprisingly, is also from the same town). This results in a fiasco, since Oak was only Champion for six hours. One week later, this Champion - again, the small-town boy - suddenly resigns, citing huge stress levels as the reason. Then, the League appoints Elite Four member Lance as the next Champion. Lance, being the meticulous prick he is, personally goes through the records and finds out about my tax problems. Now Lance wants my trainer's license revoked so that he can force me into retirement into New Bark Town, way off the beaten path. All because of a hidden clause.
"Damn this all," groaned Norman, seeing no hope for salvation. "What to do now ..." He sank deeper into his armchair, grabbing desperately at the nearest thing he could find, which turned out to be a newspaper. He picked it up, folded it, creased the edges, unfolded it, and was about to fold it again, when his eyes darted to a single article.
"'Formerly the venerable Gym Leader of Viridian City and regarded as the most formidable trainer in the United Republic Regions of Kanto and Johto'," Norman read aloud, "'Giovanni di Sols was found guilty', blah blah, 'over two hundred criminal charges of extortion', blah blah, 'Team Rocket' ..." His eyes roved over the paper. "'Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the URR amended his life sentence to' ... two years of exile? 'Bribery', blah blah - 'earlier this week, Giovanni revealed that several years ago, his infant son was given up for adoption' ... No, that's not it. Here it is!" Norman's tone grew exulted as he finally found the section he wanted. "'Former Rocket executive John Petrel's diary has revealed that other executives sought political asylum in various other regions including the Sevii Archipelago and Hoenn."
Finally, Norman smiled. He'd found a way out of this mess.
Chapter One brings with it movie parodies, teen angst and bodybuilders!
/ Chapter One /
"Hoenn Sweet AAAAAAAAAAHHH!1!" - Part I
a plane ~ 11:00 AM; present day
Hazel Ruby was, quite simply, bored out of her sixteen-year-old mind.
She'd already listened to as many crappy romantic male-female duets as she could stand on her iPhone, and she'd texted her cousin in Johto until the airhostess came and asked her as politely as possible to switch the phone off, dear, because it could cause very bad accidents. Which, of course, led to Hazel interrogating her as to what nature of accidents could occur on a two-hour flight across countries. Once she'd tired of that, she tried using the in-flight entertainment system, but was horrified to see that the only movie playing was one of the few she hated with her very soul. Even mentioning the name would go against her principles, so its name will not be reproduced here. But it's safe to say that, as Jay once more turned into a six-foot-tall Arcanine in order to fight with Fredward the Crobat PokeMorph, her eyes were bleeding.
"Oh, come on, Nellie," she groaned. "Choose Fredward already. We all know the only reason you let those two fight is so that the 'audience'," (that last word was in air quotes, to make it painfully obvious that said 'audience' was really a gaggle of giggling girls), "can swoon over shirtless Jay."
Her mother, Angie, let out a weak murmur of protest. "Keep it down, Hazel ... I'm trying to sleep here," and with that she brushed her chocolate-coloured hair away. Hazel reflected on how she was said to look more like her father than her mother, and if it was true. Sure, her hair and her mom's both were the colour of Hersheys bars, but she had Norman's sky-blue eyes, and her complexion was tanned like his. And she even had the same favourite colour as him: an intense hue of red, not quite crimson but nowhere near the pastel shades. Like Norman, she was a little touchy and melodramatic, but friendly and slightly-happy-go-lucky. But, despite Norman's best efforts, Hazel refused to go on a journey in Johto.
"Oh, come on, Dad," she'd groan at him whenever he brought up the subject of Pokemon training. "You know I really want to be a software developer. Like Bill Gates! He's soo-ooo-oo cool!" And then she'd rave on and on about how efficient his PokeBall digitisation process was, and how much more reliable it was than the old way of storing PokeBalls in lockers at Pokemon Centres, and then Norman would sigh and abandon the subject.
Come to think of it, Hazel mused, Dad never did say exactly why we're in Hoenn. I mean, I read his emails so I know it's something related to some guy called Maki ... And it sounds kinda shady too. So, what'd you get mixed up in this time, Dad?
This line of thought led to a dead end, so out of sheer boredom, Hazel decided to sleep.
A few hours later, she woke up in the back of a truck, and freaked right out.
the back of a moving van ~ 2:30 PM; present day
"Mom, I am so gonna kill you!"
Yet another female scream from the back of the van. This one startled the driver, and he nearly drove himself into a tree. A little annoyed, he called out, "Quiet down back there!"
"You'd be screaming too, if your mom decided to take you out the airport while you were sleeping and dump you in the back of a truck," Hazel muttered.
"I heard that," came an unwanted reply. "And it's a van!"
"Whatever," she grumbled, leaning against a box. The box did not like this, and promptly decided that it would make the box above it fall on Hazel's head. And as the Great Box wished, so it became.
Hazel yelped as the box above the one she was leaning against fell on her head, and then into her lap. "Agh! Goddamn!" A thought struck her. "Oh, sh*t ... I hope that wasn't the vase! Better make sure it wasn't ..." Hazel dug into the box, ripping the tape open, and was relieved to find that it was merely her father's laptop. Breathing a sigh of relief, she pulled it out of the box and opened it. To Hazel's surprise (not), Norman had forgotten to unplug the free Internet connection drive from the laptop, so she figured she might as well make use of it. The teen opened up a web browser, only for a dialogue box to pop up.
"'Your chosen network is out of range'," she read, and then closed it, too annoyed to read the rest. "Hmm ... Wait a sec! Dad sends his email from an email client, not the Net, doesn't he?" A plan occurred to her, and, chuckling evilly, Hazel double-clicked at the email programme. "Hazel used Nasty Plot! Aaaand ..." She quickly searched for the name 'Maki' and came up with an email conversation hit. "It's super-effective!"
Smirking, Hazel began to read. By the end of it, she wasn't smiling anymore.
"Dad's in deep bullsh*t," she groaned. "Taxes? Really? And moving to Hoenn for political immunity? God ... I bet he didn't even consider just bribing the goddamn tax collectors ..." Sighing, she quickly shut down the computer and put it back in the box. Her attempt to fix the ripped tape resulted in it looking even worse, as though a particularly vicious Meowth had decided to trim its claws on that box. As Hazel put the box back, the van rumbled to a halt.
Littleroot Town, Hoenn ~ 3:05 PM; present day
Angeline Ruby was unsurprised when her daughter jumped out of the back of van as soon as possible, and began to berate her for forcing her into the moving truck without even asking her (at this point, the driver called back, "It's a van!"). Ignoring Hazel's teen angst, Angie paid the driver. He then dropped out of the car and pulled four small golf-ball-sized spheres off his belt. The top half was coloured red and the bottom half white, while they were separated by an indented black line that had a hinge on the back and a small switch on the front. When the driver clicked the button on each PokeBall in turn, they expanded to the size of an orange and the ball opened on its hinge, releasing a white, amorphous glowing object.
The glow faded to reveal a five-foot-tall purple-skinned humanoid, with three long, red marks running parallel to each other on their arms and forearms. Each flexed its rippling muscles as they stared with small, red eyes at each other, as though they were all competing in a bodybuilding competition and were trying to tell the others to shove the hell off because you have no chance here! with their body language.
"Come on, you lot," the driver called to them. "Get movin', would you?", and Hazel moaned at his bad pun.
"Mom," said Hazel, looking interestedly at the humanoids, which were now jostling each other in an attempt to make their companions drop the boxes they were holding, "what exactly are those?"
"They're Machoke," answered Angie. "You remember the Machop in Johto, don't you? These are their evolved forms right here."
"Oh! Now I recognise them." At this point, one of the Machoke stuck a foot out to try and trip another over, causing the driver to sigh and recall the prankster to its PokeBall.
"Y'know," Hazel suggested, "I think this is going to take a while. Why don't we look around town a bit?"
Angie frowned, trying to remember something, and then her eyes lit up. "Oh! You know, Norman's going to be staying in Petalburg, the next city over, so he'll be visiting twice a week or so. He'll be visiting tonight, and he said he'll have a gift for us, but for now, I think we should probably stick in the house."
Hazel groaned at that, and sighed. "Alright then, Mom. I'll be in my room, sleeping slash texting slash reading slash all of the above ..." The teenager then flounced off into the small two-storey house behind them, as Angie and the driver tried to supervise the unruly Machoke.
The new house was nothing as grand as their villa in Mahogany. Of course, Norman, being a highly-ranked Gym trainer and all that, had been able to afford much more back in Johto. Here, he was an immigrant, a foreigner. Hazel guessed that he was trying to lie low, not spending too much cash on housing and whatnot, staying in a sleepy little town like Littleroot. Back to the subject of the house, it was a small, Spartan accomodation. The first floor held a small kitchen and a living room combined with a dining room, a TV set, and a few couches. Hazel headed upstairs, and found that the second floor had access to her own room and her parents' room, connected by a small bathroom.
Hazel noticed a gift-wrapped box on her bed. On looking closer, she found a note that said:
Here's a gift, to apologise for kinda shoving you in the van. Mom said you refused to wake up, and we were in a hurry, so I told her to get you into the back. I figured you'd find some stuff to keep you interested.
"You got that right," Hazel murmured, continuing to read.
So, sorry, and here's something to make up for it.
Hazel grinned as she ripped the wrapping open to reveal ... "A clock? Seriously?" the brunette said, her tone disappointed. She examined the black, circular timepiece, and then set it aside on the bedside table. At that moment, there was a knock on the door.
"Hazel? It's Mom. Did you find Norman's gift yet?" Angie asked, walking in.
"Yeah, and it was crap," Hazel muttered.
"What was that?" Angie said sternly.
"I said," Hazel raised her voice reluctantly, "it was pretty cool. And it was very considerate of my father to give me a gift to apologise for putting me in the back of a van while I was sleeping."
"That's better. Now come downstairs," Angie said. "They were just playing an interview with Norman on the TV."
Hazel followed Angie downstairs, where the older woman switched on the TV. It flickered to life, displaying Norman saying, "... very thankful to be appointed, and I hope to do you all proud," followed by a commercial break.
"Damn, we missed it." A moment later, the Machoke finally swaggered in through the door, laying down the boxes. Angie sighed. "Oh dear. Hazel, do you mind going and ... getting yourself out of the way? I'm going to get some of our things ready, and then you can come back and we'll watch TV or something until Norman comes home for dinner."
"Yeah, yeah, all right." Hazel ran upstairs, calling back, "I'm going to go change, and then I'll go look around town or something."
Chapter Two brings with it professors, HammerSpace, and a vow of silence!
/ Chapter Two /
"Hoenn Sweet AAAAAAAAAAHHH!1!" - Part II
Littleroot Town, Hoenn ~ 3:30 PM; present day
Hazel sighed, crossing her arms. "OK, let's try this again: let me through."
"No," said the girl obstinately. "I told you - it's dangerous. You need your own Pokemon to pass through here, or else, wild Pokemon will -" she checked anxiously to make sure no one was listening, and then beckoned Hazel closer.
"Yeah?" said Hazel, leaning in.
"They'll ... jump out at you!" the preteen cried, shuddering as she fled to take up her position beside a lamp-post, from where she had originally ambushed Hazel.
Hazel waited until she was sure the girl was gone, and then strode off the road and into the woods once more. But, just before she could get more than a few steps in, the little girl popped out in front of her for the umpteenth time, crying, "No! You can't go in there without your own Pokemon!"
"Oh, great," Hazel muttered. "Might as well go home now ..." She headed back to her house and opened the door, pausing to take a quick look at Littleroot. It was a small, verdant town, with a population of a few hundred people or so. Small cobble-roofed houses were set out along the main street, with a few other side alleys. Flowers in every imaginable colour (except Hoolovoo) lined the streets and gardens could be find on roadside corners everywhere. The day was a fine sunny afternoon, and so people were outside, watering lawns or chatting affably with neighbours.
Hazel walked inside the house and went upstairs, where she found Angie setting up a GameCube in her room.
"Hey, honey," Angie greeted her. "What are you doing?"
"Nothing," her daughter replied, fidgeting with her hair. "There's nothing to do, anyway."
"Well then." Angie gave up trying to untangle the wires and sat back on Hazel's bed. "Why don't you go find Norman's friend? His name is Professor Maki Birch," Hazel started at this but Angie didn't seem to notice, "and he's a well-known scientist in Hoenn. He was a teacher's assistant in Norman's university, and that's how they met. He specialises in studying the way Pokemon behave in the wild and comparing it with how they behave when caught by a Pokemon Trainer ... or something like that."
"Like I care," Hazel muttered. Then, in a louder voice, she said, "So ... who is this hotshot, exactly?"
"Well ..." Angie frowned, trying to remember. "Remember last year there was a huge furore when Samuel Oak won the Nobel Prize for Study of Pokemon, for successfully compiling the world's first electronic Pokemon encyclopaedia? Well, I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I think Birch wrote a paper that got him nominated. Even though Oak's nomination was controversial, they went ahead and gave him the Prize anyway. People in Hoenn got pretty mad about that."
Hazel nodded. "But there were other reasons for all that sh - stuff people were saying, right? Like that the trainers who compiled the actual data for him weren't recognised, and stuff?"
"Oh, sure. The thing was, Oak gave out a couple of PokeDexes for completion - nine, I think it was? - and there's a rule that only three or less people can win the award. Oak's entire team of trainers were really angry with him after that, and one of them even got involved in some legal problems after an alleged hit-and-run happened with Oak's grandson -"
Hazel interrupted, "Didn't that kid help him with it too? The one who took down the Mafia in Kanto?"
"Yep," Angie said, looking a little irritated at the intrusion, "it's a known fact that ... that ... damn, I can't recall his name. Yes, that kid did contribute over 60% of the entries, but the committee's rule that not more than three people can win the prize made all of them obsolete. So Oak gets all the credit." She jumped up. "Why am I wasting time like this? I should probably go unpack some more of our stuff. Hazel, see that house over there?" Angie pointed out the window and Hazel looked over to see a small two-storey house, similar to theirs, on the opposite side of the street. "That's the Birch house. They have a son your age, but I forgot his name. You can go and say hi, and make friends with him!"
"Um, Mom?" Hazel pointed out. "I'm a teenage girl. I don't go out and say hi to strangers."
"Oh, get off it," Angie said sharply. "I need you out of the way, and this town is perfectly safe."
Hazel sighed. "Oh, all right, I'll do it." She strode out, pausing for a moment to inhale the summer air deeply - and to remind herself why exactly she was performing this unsavoury task - and then walked across the street to the Birches' house, realising as she did that it was practically identical to theirs in every respect. She knocked at the door and it swung open in a few seconds. Hazel found herself looking at a beaming Japanese woman in her thirties or forties.
"Mrs Birch?" she asked.
"That's me," the woman answered. "And you must be Hazel! I'm Ayame. Please, come in." As Hazel followed Mrs Birch inside, her host asked, "Tea?"
"No thanks," Hazel said. "I'm just here because my mom -"
"Oh, that's right!" Mrs Birch interrupted. "Angie did say she'd send you over to see our son. He should be upstairs, in his room. RICKY!" she bellowed, and Hazel, too startled to cover her ears, was almost deafened by the loudness of the woman's voice. "THERE'S SOMEONE TO SEE YOU!" Mrs Birch smiled at Angie, her voice returning to its former volume. "All right, dear, that should have done it. Go upstairs, his room is right in front of you. You won't mind if I don't accompany you, would you? I have some housework to do."
"No thanks, Mrs Birch," Hazel replied, but what she really wanted to say was: Seriously, woman? I'm sixteen. I don't need an escort to hustle me up the damn stairs, for God's sake, and I doubt your snot-nosed brat needs to be yelled at. Though, if he is the hormonal little sh*t I think he is, well then, I shudder to think what may happen to him if he sees a real live girl walk into his room.
Nodding in an absent-minded sort of way, Mrs Birch seemed to forget Hazel's very presence and resumed whatever nondescript chores she had been performing before Hazel knocked. Speaking of Hazel, the brunette strode upstairs, and found herself in a hallway that looked like the Jango Fett Procedure had been carried out on the one in her own new home. On walking into her new neighbour's room, Hazel realised that the Birches' son's room was exactly the same as hers, but it sported a sleek, black Xbox 360S rather than a GameCube, and it was, undisputably, a boy's room. There were boxers, hung offensively on a chair, the bed sheets were strewn on the floor, and there was a journal and a few encyclopaedias lying on the table, as well as a small, red device on top of them. Curious, Hazel walked over to it and was about to pick it up when something else drew her attention.
There was a PokeBall rolling on the floor. Hazel scooped up the small red sphere and checked it out; Norman and the Internet had taught her a little about how it worked.
Essentially, a PokeBall served as a sort of door into an alternate dimension known as HammerSpace. The switch on the front of the PokeBall was currently in the 'off' position. When the switch was thrown, the PokeBall would go into the 'on' position, activating the HammerSpace portal. From there, there were two outcomes.
If the PokeBall was currently empty, it would usually be thrown at a Pokemon that needed to be caught. After the three-second timer completed counting down, the ball would produce an attractive field (attractive field as in magnetic attraction) that was configured such that the Pokemon was absorbed into HammerSpace. In order to avoid accidents and slavery, the field was of such a type that only Pokemon would be absorbed into it. Pokemon would struggle against the effect of the field, usually. If they overcame it, they would burst out of the PokeBall (shattering it in the process). If they didn't, the PokeBall would click and register the Pokemon within as caught. Pokemon in HammerSpace were generally placed in a form of suspended animation until they were next called on. (There was a complex algorithm that took into account the strength of the attractive field, the Pokemon's power level relative to that of a newly-hatched Magikarp, its ability to fight back, and certain special effects produced by the PokeBall (certain makes were such that they would work better underwater, or on a Pokemon of a certain type), as well as countless other factors, the end result being a value that showed how hard the Pokemon was to catch.)
However, instead, if the PokeBall thrown was not empty, the Pokemon within would be called out of HammerSpace, ready to fight. Whether the PokeBall was empty or not was displayed by a small LED by the switch, which flashed green if empty, simply shone green if a Pokemon was within, shone amber if the timer was counting down (or if the attractive field was being produced while catching a Pokemon), and, if the PokeBall was locked, the LED would glow red. Usually, one could only register six Pokemon as 'active' in their party. All Pokemon caught after the initial six would have their PokeBalls locked, until the owner logged on to the official Pokemon Registry website from a computer and manually switched an active Pokemon with one in a locked PokeBall. From the green LED, Hazel could tell that the PokeBall contained a Pokemon within it. She crouched down by it and was about to throw the switch to 'on' to see what Pokemon was within, when she felt a presence behind her.
Hazel spun around to find a scowling teenage boy. He looked around the same age as her, wearing a red-and-black shirt with the collar turned up and baggy black shorts that came to his thighs. His hair, she noticed, was wild and shaggy, a dark shade of brown, and his eyes were an odd shade. They were scarlet, a deep, angry red, more like pools of lava than blood.
The glowering boy said nothing, so Hazel took the initiative. "Um ... hi?" she said weakly. Growing more confident, she continued, "I'm Hazel, Hazel Ruby. You must be ... Actually, I didn't get your name?" The last bit was said in a questioning tone.
Still he was silent.
The tension in the air was palpable.
Finally, Hazel groaned. "Why don't you say anything?" she complained.
The scowl vanished off the boy's face, replaced with mild amusement. He grabbed a backpack from off the floor and, to Hazel's surprise, he fit his whole arm up to his shoulder in it. After a bit of rummaging, he produced a deck of worn, dog-eared bits of thick paper. Once upon a time, they were probably playing cards, in a similar way that you were once a monkey, but now each had something written on the blank side. He shuffled the deck expertly until he found the card he wanted. With a grin of satisfaction, the teen handed it over to Hazel.
"'Hey there'," she read. "'My name is Rikuya Birch'." She looked up. "Couldn't have just said that, could you?"
Rikuya took back the card he'd given her and handed over another. This one read, 'I am under an year-long vow of silence because of a bet with my Dad'.
"Well, that sucks." Hazel tossed her head so that her bangs fell back, and continued, "So, Rikuya ... You don't speak much, do you?"
He gave her a look which Hazel interpreted as meaning, I've taken a vow of silence. Yeah, I don't speak much. She giggled at his unspoken sarcasm, and, confused, the boy tilted his head at her. Now that the tension had diffused, he seemed a lot more friendly, so she gave him a smile, and stuck out her hand. They shook.
And so a friendship was formed ... Wait, why am I spouting sentimental sh*t?
Hazel's sappy thoughts were interrupted by a scream. The two rushed to the window, looking down. Outside the house, a little girl - the same girl who didn't let Hazel in the woods earlier in the morning - was screaming, her voice filled with terror. Hazel strained her ears to make out what the girl was saying, and distinctly made out a few words. "Pokemon something something Birch on somewhere ... what the hell?" the brunette said in surprise.
Rikuya, on the other hand, had heard it perfectly. Looking stunned but determined, he snatched the PokeBall from off the floor and a small white object (as well as the red device Hazel had seen) and put them in his backpack. Grabbing a sheet of paper, he scribbled something on it quickly and threw it in Hazel's direction before racing down the stairs. Astonished, Hazel read the note. It took her a while to decipher his hurried, flowing cursive, but once she had, it shocked her even more.
The note read:
A wild Pokemon is attacking Professor Birch in the woods! Stay here, give to my mom, DON'T COME AFTER ME IT'S DANGEROUS.
Well, now that he'd forbidden her from coming after him, she just had to, didn't she?
Chapter Three brings with it a battle, a sociopathic Mudkip, and a weird hairstyle!
... Unfortunately, it's not Miror B. I'm referring to.
/ Chapter Three /
"The Zigzagoon Platoon vs A Scientific Buffoon"
Route 101, Hoenn ~ 4:00 PM; present day
The United Nations classifies Hoenn, along with the URR, Sinnoh, and about eleven other countries, as a Trainer Nation. Trainer Nations are countries in which Pokemon are found in nature more commonly than so-called 'regular' animals, such as dogs, sheep, and chimpanzees. Since Pokemon are so prevalent in Trainer Nations, much of the economy revolves around them as well. One of the most popular career choices in Trainer Nations is training, from which the classification derives its name. Training, quite simply, consists of people going out in the wild, hunting down Pokemon, and capturing them for use in battle against other Pokemon. In order to find wild Pokemon to catch and battle against, trainers often go off the beaten path and onto roads less travelled, since the stronger the Pokemon, the farther it will live from civilisation. Of course, this procedure was rife with safety concerns. Finally, after the horrific MacKitchinson incident in Johto, 1989 (the one inolving demented Weedle, birthday cake, and a melancholy Porsche), most Trainer Nation governments organised a system of safe paths between roads and cities. These dirt paths - 'Routes', as they were called - were trails that unobtrusively ran through the wilderness, far enough from suburbia that wild Pokemon would not be scared away, but close enough that a trainer in need of help would be able to quickly reach civilisation.
Route 101 was one such path, leading from Littleroot to its neighbouring town, Oldale. A small dirt track between cities, it was straightforward and simply wound over a small ledge, until it finally found its way to Oldale. It was just a kilometre or so long, but it still seemed like a small piece of the plains ripped out and placed into the town. Flowers gave way to tangled knots of grass, and trees lined the roadside, preventing trainers from wandering too far off the route. It was at the Littleroot end of this road that Hazel found herself, panting. Besides her, Rikuya stood still. Both of them were by the grass at the end of the road, looking ahead at a decidedly odd sight.
Rikuya slipped his backpack off and reached into it, pulling out a notepad, on which he scribbled, Wait here, I'll get help. He then proceeded to run back into town, leaving Hazel staring into the clearing ahead. A thirty-something man (he was just old enough to have thick brown stubble covering his double chin and a pot belly, but too young to have a wrinkly face) dressed in a lab coat was stamping at the ground, trying to kick away some small, furry raccoon-like things, while they bit at his ankles, tried to get under his feet, and generally irritate the hell out of him. Simultaneously, the man in the lab coat was shouting, "Help! Hey, help! Goddamn it, someone help me for the love of - Get away! Go! Help!"
"Um ... dude? I'm right here," Hazel called to him. "You don't need to yell ..."
"Thank God you're here!" the man said in relief, while trying to kick away one of the acrobatic pests which had jumped on to his shoe. "These damned Zigzagoon have been on me for half an hour now. A man can only take so much abuse before he lashes out!"
"Don't worry, Professor, your son's gone to get help," Hazel replied. "You are Professor Birch, right?"
"That's me," Birch confirmed. "But we can't wait that long!"
"What were you doing out here anyway?" Hazel queried curiously.
"I was studying the group behaviour of a wild platoon of Zigzagoon when they decided to study my response to a group attack. Now can you help me out here?"
"Like I said, your son's -"
"I can't wait that long!" Birch shouted in frustration. "These Zigzagoon are going to be the death of me if you don't help me right now!"
"Okay, okay. But you really shouldn't be out here without your own Pokemon, you know," Hazel deadpanned.
"I had my own Pokemon!" Birch answered, swatting at a Zigzagoon that had crawled up his pant leg. "They were in my bag, but I dropped it when the Zigzagoon jumped me! Wait a minute," he paused as an idea occured to him, "the bag! It's still around there somewhere! Quick, find it!"
Hazel looked around and spotted a brown bag in the middle of a bush. She tugged at it and the bush relinquished its grasp after a few seconds, scraping against the faux leather surface. Opening the flap of the bag, she found that three PokeBalls, all in their 'small' state, nestled amidst a sea of papers, folders, and a pair of binoculars. She dug in and pulled them out, holding one in each hand with the third at her foot.
"Wait, wait!" Hazel looked at Birch, annoyed. "If you use all three," he explained, "the Pokemon will get confused. Only call out one."
"Heh, all right." She looked back to the two PokeBalls in hand. "Which one? Ah, I guess I'll go with that one!" She dropped the one in her right hand, juggled the other so that now it lay in her right hand, and flicked the switch. A burst of white light streamed out as the ball swung open on its hinges, taking the form of a small, blue ... thing? It looked oddly like a cross between a lizard and a frog, with a large and spiky fin on its head in the style of a mohawk, two orange star-shaped fins on its cheeks, and yet another translucent, wet-looking fin as a tail.
"What the hell?" Hazel was taken aback at the sight of this strange Pokemon. "Hey, Professor, what Pokemon is this?"
"It's a Mudkip!" he shouted. "Please, quickly, help!"
"But I don't even know what attacks it has," Hazel pointed out. At this point, Birch gave a desperate cry, muffled by the fact that he had finally toppled onto his rear and was currently trying to pull two Zigzagoon off his face. "Um ... whatever. Mudkip, use ... Tackle?"
The Mudkip did something Hazel was definitely not expecting it to do. It turned to her, twitched its cheek-fins disparagingly at her (How, Hazel thought, can it even do that?) and glinted its eye (Okay, that's weird. How does it know which angle to stand at to reflect sunlight off?), before it sprinted straight at the Professor. Smashing into Birch, Mudkip charged at the Zigzagoon. The platoon scattered, scampering for safety to save their skins from the weird blue amphibian with an attitude, until only one remained.
The last Zigzagoon faced off against the Mudkip, squaring its small shoulders and glaring with its beady black eyes (They're actually kinda cute this way!) in an unconvincing effort to look threatening. Its spiky fur reminded Hazel of a cup of espresso, with swirling bands of opponent reared on its back legs, sneering down at the small mammal as it landed back down in an attempt to show the Zigzagoon exactly who was boss. The raccoon Pokemon folded its ears backwards, flat against its body, and opened its mouth, baring small, sharp teeth. The Mudkip responded by twitching its cheek-fins at the Zigzagoon again.
The Zigzagoon narrowed its eyes, giving it a look of intense concentration.
The Mudkip lowered its head fin and pawed at the ground, like a bull.
... An epic showdown, this was not.
"Uh, Professor?" Hazel called to Birch, who, on the opposite side of the field, had just gotten up and was dusting himself off. "Why aren't they attacking?"
"A good question," Birch said approvingly. "Perhaps they're having a show of power. Each trying to intimidate the other, show its superiority. This is clearly Zigzagoon's territory, but Mudkip is unquestionably badass so it's anyone's game."
Hazel rolled her eyes. "I know it's a good question, but do you have a good answer?"
"Err ... no," Birch muttered. Then his face lit up. "Actually, yes! You have to command Mudkip to attack, don't you?"
"Uh, he seems intelligent. Why would I need to command him in battle? It's practically begging Zigzagoon to dodge. Wouldn't it be more strategic to think up a maneouver and give it a cool codename instead of shouting out orders?"
Birch shrugged. "I don't know! Look, girl ... Actually, why am I still here? Those Zigzagoon aren't on me anymore, so I can go. Oh, and if you want a reward, drop by my laboratory tomorrow!" And with that, he gathered up his bag and the remaining two PokeBalls (leaving behind Mudkip's PokeBall) fled, jogging as fast as he could (which was slightly faster than the average snail on steroids).
"You know, Mudkip," Hazel said. "There's no point in battling any - huh?" For Mudkip was now walking away from the fight, its Mohawk standing proud and straight in the gentle breeze, leaving behind it a collapsed heap of fur and dust that had more in common with roadkill than Zigzagoon. "Wow, that's cool. You actually won the fight while I was talking to that old man?"
In response, the blue whatever-it-was raised its three-toed paw up and put two of its toes down.
"Oh no, you didn't," Hazel spat under her breath. The Mudkip continued to stare smugly at her. "Goddamn it you -", and she proceeded to comment profanely on the Mudkip's parentage, while hitting the switch on its PokeBall. The behaviourally deficient Pokemon vanished in a burst of light, being sucked up into HammerSpace. Still cursing under her breath, Hazel began to trek back up the road, but stopped in her tracks when she noticed a certain shaggy-haired male leaning against a tree, the epitome of relaxation.
"You were around all this time, weren't you?" she said, noticeably pissed. Rikuya simply answered with a smug smirk. "Stop doing that!"
The boy shrugged in innocence, as if to say, Stop doing what?
"You know what. That silent thing you keep doing! It's pissing me off."
Rikuya straightened up, shifting into a proper standing posture. He handed her a note which said, No one wanted to help.
"Leaving me alone like that with a weird old man and a sociopathic Mudkip," Hazel growled, "wasn't very chivalrous of you. Sooo ..."
A look of discomfort appeared on Rikuya's face. He knew that kind of sooo. It was the sooo someone said when you ate the last piece of cake which the only toddler in the room wanted, a sooo that was bone-chillingly filled with consequences.
"As punishment," Hazel continued, "You'll have to walk me home. It's almost twi - sunset. Damn, I almost said it. Anyway, it's almost sunset - even though it's only about four-thirty and I don't know how safe this town of yours is. C'mon," and she marched off, PokeBall in hand. Rikuya stared for a second before walking after her.
the Indigo Plateau, Kanto ~ 2:15 AM; present day
Every Trainer Nation has a government-sanctioned association of Pokemon trainers, known as the National League of Pokemon Trainers, and the URR is no different. In fact, being a country composed of two regions rather than one, they have a much larger League than most other countries. While most countries have a board of directors composed of two representatives from the Gym Leaders, one from the Elite Four, the current head of the Active, Competitive and Extreme Training Measures Organisation (the ACE trainers), the Champion, and around four other highly respected trainers, the URR had five Gym Leaders, one person qualified to be an Elite (but not holding the post of Elite as well), and three more respected trainers. One of the five Gym Leaders in question was Pryce W Townsend, and he was the one who had called the meeting of the board of directors.
"In short," the aged Leader concluded, "we must immediately speak to the government, sending a recommendation that they put into effect, as soon as possible, new tax laws and more stringent security methods."
The Champion, Lance Stryker, nodded gravely, his pretentious red hair stiff as a statue. Copious amounts of gel slithered through the six-inch tall mountain of flame-like hair as he stood to speak. "Thank you, Mr Townsend. Now, we'll close this meeting as soon as we rule on whether or not to approve Mr Townsend's solution proposition for the problem he a - afore - said before." Although the correct wording would be 'proposition for a solution', no one bothered to correct the pompous thirty-year-old, who looked proud at having managed to slip two polysyllabic words into his suggestion.
There was silence for a few minutes as everyone read the leaflets Pryce had inconspicuously placed on the table earlier. A gradual murmuring began, but died down under the fierce glare of the septagenarian Gym Leader.
"Shall we approve the motion?" Lance enquired. "We'll simply have an informal show of hands for this ingenious solution. All those in favour, raise hands."
A few seconds passed as a secretary, sitting in a dark corner, quickly took a note of the votes. At a nod from him, Lance continued. "All those voting no, raise hands."
A few more seconds passed.
"All those abstaining, raise hands."
Once the meeting was complete, the secretary quickly tallied the votes, and handed the results to Lance. The League's poster boy frowned in surprise as he read, but when he put the clipboard down, he looked as though he had won the lottery (a decidedly difficult feat since all attending doubted Lance's ability to count without using his fingers, a textbook, and a look of concentration - if such a thing was possible).
"The solution," Lance said quite happily, "is approved. As of now, Norman Ruby is an outlaw in the URR, and we will be sending a team of League officials to bring him back to Johto by any means possible."
Chapter Four brings with it a fight, a mysterious duo, and a lab!
(the remakes that R/S/E deserved)
/ Chapter Four /
"Of Mudkip and Men"
Littleroot Town, Hoenn ~ 6:30 PM; present day
Hazel looked like the walking dead - or, more accurately or and far more believably, like a sleepwalker. Understandable, considering she'd had an extremely unusual day, including such activities as being thrown into a moving van, meeting a guy who refused to speak to her (or, for that matter, anyone), and receiving an extremely rude gesture from an I-don't-even-know-what-it-is Pokemon. Then, after all that, she'd come home and found that Norman was home, as promised. She remembered going upstairs and having a long, hot shower, and then sitting on the stairs and listen to Norman and Angie argue over her.
"You can't do this to her, Norman," Angie had said. She'd heard this and stopped in her tracks, knowing that they were talking about her. When they fought, it was always about her.
"It's just for a while," her father had replied placatingly. "Until I earn enough money to pay everything off. I'm sure we should be fine. The League's tax laws are pretty lenient, they'll let us off with a warning if we pay the taxes off now."
"And how," her mother had said, raising her voice, "do you intend to pay it all off? This came in the mail earlier today, Norman." Hazel couldn't see, but she could imagine Angie handing Norman an envelope, Norman pulling out a letter, his lips moving soundlessly as he read.
Norman had been silent for a minute. Then he said, "Let them come. Let them send the goddamn Elites themselves after me! What the hell is this? They're sending goddamn tax officials after me? I'll whip their asses all the way to hell if they come within six feet of me!" His raging rant died down as fast as it had began, and his voice was gentle once more. He does that a lot, Hazel noticed. "Look, I've got a decent job here. Birch got my credentials through to the League so that my application was approved. I'm a Gym Leader here and a damn good one at that." It wasn't overconfidence; it was simply the truth. Hazel had seen her father battle in Mahogany. His old Sneasel, Freeze (Norman had never been particularly imaginative when it came to nicknames), had decimated one challenger's team of four Pokemon, all fully evolved, one a Fire-type, without taking more damage then a few scratches. The challenger's Rapidash, on the other hand, had broken its leg by slipping on the frozen battlefield.
Hazel had heard nothing for a while, until Norman spoke again. "Look, over the next few weeks, they'll be sorting out the paperwork. I tried getting the Ice-type, but it's off-limits because one of the Elites specialises in it, so I settled for Normal. This region has some good ones, I hear - and once I'm done training up my various teams, I'll be officially sworn in to the League. That'll be a little later - maybe two weeks, maybe a month. Then I'll be able to start earning, and I can make enough within a year or two to pay it all back. We can manage here until then. Right?"
At this point, she'd heard a muffled sob, and decided to stay in her room until dinner.
Saffron City Airport, Kanto ~ 7:00 PM
"Attention, all passengers on Flight 19683, going Saffron, URR to Petalburg, Hoenn," the voice over the PA systems blared. "The boarding gates are now open."
"Finally!" exclaimed a woman, sitting in the waiting area. She turned to shake her companion awake; the man snored a bit before rousing himself. The couple attracted some attention due to their odd looks. Both were dressed in monochrome formal attire, but that wasn't the strangest thing about them. The man wore a black tuxedo, black trousers, and a black tie, with black aviator sunglasses, tinted so as to almost be opaque; on the other hand, his hair was as white as a cloud, cut and gelled into a small cloud of spines. It was impossible to discern his age despite his hair; he could have been twenty-five just as easily as a hundred and three, but his posture and the slight, stubbly remnants of a beard shaved off recently suggested he was in his late thirties. The woman, on the other hand, wore a short, snow-white cocktail dress and stockings, her feet enclosed in stilettos and a necklace with a single pearl hanging on her neck. Her eyes were a cold and dead grey, and her hair was so black that it would shame the darkest raven. She had the beauty of an icy queen, elegant, and able to have you beheaded in seconds on a whim. She, too, looked somewhat ageless, a stern goddess in modern times; but an observant fashionista would note that her style was of a young woman, barely halfway through her twenties but yet dressing as an older woman. If they were characters in a suspense thriller, they would be labelled 'the Man in Black' and the 'Woman in White'.
The duo stood and hurried to the boarding gate, occupying the first class queue. As they walked out of the airport and into the connecting tube, the Woman in White asked her partner, "Have you received your mission-specific Pokemon?"
The Man nodded, lifting his coat slightly to reveal a small belt with six small magnetic-lock slots to hold PokeBalls. Two were occupied by the standard red-and-white variety. The third held a differently-coloured PokeBall, black in colour with small green circular markings on it and a red switch; this was the one he had received recently. "What's in it, anyway?" he asked, his voice deep and thick.
"A powerful Pokemon not native to the URR or Hoenn," the Woman said. "Use it only if the target resists and proves to be difficult to subdue in a Pokemon battle. It's quite rare, and you should probably see no need to use it if all goes according to plan."
"Where's yours?" the Man said suspciously. This was the first time he was working with a Kantonian, and, to top it off, she wasn't just a taxation official like him. His boss had told him nothing except that she was a high-ranking 'agent' from Kanto - agent of what, he refused to say. But the Man had his doubts: he'd seen the small tattoo of a coiled snake - a viper - on her left wrist. He knew exactly what it meant, and if she was who he thought she was, he had every right to fear for his life in the event that they failed the mission.
"Mine?" The Woman in White giggled gently; the first expression of emotion he'd seen her display all evening. "I'm a veteran agent. I don't need special Pokemon. I can do all right with just mine."
I bet you can, thought the Man in Black grimly. I bet you can.
Littleroot Town, Hoenn ~ 9:30 AM
Hazel awoke blearily to the unwelcome sight of a Mudkip on her belly chewing what looked suspiciously like a pillow. Reacting as any sane person would, she swatted at the amphibian with a shriek, sending it tumbling to the floor. Mudkip gave her a reproachful look, picking itself up and dusting itself off.
"How did you get out of your PokeBall?" she demanded. The Mudkip simply flicked its fin at her. "Huh, you can't talk, right? Well, you better stay in there from now on!" She dug into the pockets of the jeans she'd been wearing earlier and withdrew Mudkip's PokeBall. Switching it to the off mode caused Mudkip to transform into a glowing blob of energy, which was subsequently absorbed into the interior of the PokeBall.
Hazel dressed quickly, wearing a long red sleeveless T-shirt and black shorts. "I gotta go return you, huh?" she grumbled at the PokeBall. "Well, whatever."
After having some cereal for breakfast, Hazel retrieved Mudkip's PokeBall and slipped it into the waist-bag she always carried. Looking around, she found her mother in the kitchen. "Hey Mom," the brunette said. "I need to go give Professor Birch his Mudkip back. I told you yesterday, right?"
"I remember," Angie said. "Just a sec, I'll tell you where his lab is ..."
It took Hazel just a few minutes to find Birch's lab. Angie had said it was a big white building, and Birch's office would be on the second floor. What Angie hadn't said was that it would be a dump.
Birch's office was cramped and claustrophobic. Stacks of books teeteered precariously on small creaky tables, and the bookshelves on the wall held PokeBalls instead. Tangled computer cables slithered across the floor. Bulky cathode-ray tube monitors sat on empty filing cabinets. Birch's bag was lying on a chair, and the man himself was perched on a beanbag, lazily helping himself to a cup of coffee while reading a celebrity gossip magazine.
"Hey, Professor," Hazel said loudly. Startled, the man looked up, almost spilling coffee on himself. He was dressed in a dirty lab coat and short cargo pants that disclosed the unpleasant sight of his hairy legs.
"Hazel, isn't it?" Birch said, not bothering to greet her. He put down the mug and magazine, and walked over to her. At full height, he was close to five feet and eight inches or so, just about as tall as Hazel herself. "What can I do for you?”
"You can have your Pokemon back." Hazel pulled out the PokeBall, and Birch hit the switch, sending out Mudkip. The amphibian licked its paw like a cat, giving Birch a look. If looks could kill and Birch was a cat, he'd be as alive as Hitler, which is to say, not at all.
"Huh?" Birch looked surprised at Mudkip's expression. "Looks like Doug here really likes you."
"What?!" Both Mudkip and Hazel were horrified. "You can't be serious! He gave me the finger!" Hazel cried. Mudkip proceeded to do it again, this time to Birch.
"Perhaps it was a display of affection in Mudkip terms?" Birch said thoughtfully, oblivious to Mudkip's scathing look. "Anyway, Mudkip are a rare species. I found Doug in a swamp in the wilderness a couple of months ago. He seems kind of unhappy here with me, so I've been looking for someone to adopt him, but strangely, everyone who wanted to at first came back and said they changed their mind after two days with him." He scratched his beard. "I wonder why."
"Whatever! I'm not taking this ... thing!"
Birch snapped his fingers, ignoring Hazel. "You know what? You're sixteen, right? You could get a trainer's license by now! I bet you'd have it by the end of graduation if you applied."
Hazel shook her head vehemently. "No. Freakin'. Way. I am not becoming a trainer. Seriously, who goes backpacking around countries to train Pokemon? And, for the record, I have graduated."
Birch seemed to wilt a little. "Really? Every kid dreams of being a trainer."
"Not me," Hazel said. "I'm gonna be a software developer. Y'know, like the Pokemon Storage Box System."
"That was developed for trainers to use," Birch said. "Why not be a trainer? You know you want to ..."
"Seriously," Hazel groaned. "I'm not being a trainer. Now have your Mudkip, and just let me go!"
"I'll give you three thousand bucks if you apply for a trainer's license," Birch said desperately.
Hazel, who was walking away, stopped. "Three thousand?!" she asked, turning slowly. "Why the hell would you do something like that?"
Birch sighed in relief. "You want to be a software dev, right?" he said. "You'll need to go to a decent college somewhere. And I doubt you'll be able to do that here. Software developing is practically non-existent in Hoenn, so you'll have to go abroad. That'll ramp up the expenses a whole lot, unless your parents move back to Johto - and that's probably not happening anytime soon. So why not build up some money here in Hoenn as a trainer? In battles, you know both sides stake some money on a win, right? Well, training gives good money that way. You'll need the three hundred for applying for the license and for your first couple of battles in case you lose."
Hazel raised her eyebrows. "Why are you doing this anyway? To get me to take your Mudkip?"
"Uh ... would'ya believe me if I said yes?"
Hazel groaned. "Whatever. You do have a point. Anyway, I'll consider it. But here's your Mudkip." She handed him the PokeBall, and left, leaving Birch to look worriedly at her.
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.
Chapter Six brings with it a puppy, a blob, and a worm!
WARNING: Contains two instances of strong swearing.
(the remakes that R/S/E deserved)
/ Chapter Six /
"Random Encounters of the Pokemon Kind"
Littleroot Town, Hoenn ~ 11:30 AM
“Hazel!” the voice of Professor Birch drifted down to the two teenagers from the raised window of his office. “OK, kids, come back right up. I’ve got something for you.”
In a few minutes, the two had returned to his office. Birch had set down a small red device on the desk. He picked it up and handed it to Hazel. She examined it, finding it like a small tablet in appearance. It had a joystick, four buttons, and a directional pad.
“This,” Birch said, pointing to the device, “is a Pokemon Index, an electronic encyclopaedia. It stores data on Pokemon on the PokeDex Project servers. When you encounter a Pokemon, you can use the PokeDex to access the cloud and download the information for future use.”
“I know these,” Hazel said. “Professor Oak invented them, right?”
Birch winced. “Yes, he did, but the design and software is now open-source, so the PokeDex project has gone international since then, with his approval. Anyway, we give them out to trainers who seem especially dedicated and promising. Here: this one is for you.” He handed it over to Hazel, and she felt around until she found a small on/off button. Pressing it caused the screen to light up and present an interface not unlike a proper tablet’s. A login screen appeared, giving her two options: ‘new trainer’ or ‘registered trainer’.
“It’s a touchscreen device as well,” explained Birch, “so touch the option you want and press a button. Anything should do.
Hazel selected ‘new trainer’ and pressed a button. A form loaded on screen, asking her to enter information, causing her to sigh. “Do I have to fill this out now?”
“Actually, you can do it at a Pokemon Centre in a town or city if you prefer. The advantage to that is you can get your trainer card in a day instead of waiting forever for the League to mail it to you,” Birch answered.
“OK, so when can I start?” Hazel asked impatiently.
“Right away,” Birch said. “Head over to Oldale Town to register yourself as a Pokemon Trainer, and then you’re all set to start your journey!”
Hazel walked out. As she exited the lab, Rikuya tapped her shoulder. She turned, noticing he was now wearing the white knit cap - it covered his head and made him look like he had spiky white hair. Rikuya handed her a backpack and a card, which read: 'A new journey’s dawn / And here is a gift for you / So do you like it?’
Hazel examined the backpack, finding that it contained five empty PokeBalls, a wallet (also empty) and a MagnetLock PokeBelt™ (‘for quick-access to your balls, anytime!’). She looked up to find his expectant gaze.
“Thanks,” she said. “But I’m not big on bad haiku - oh, you mean the PokeBalls? Oh, thanks, they’re cool.”
“Anyway,” Hazel continued. “I was wondering if maybe you’d, uh, help me out a bit here?”
He nodded, curious.
“Yeah, I’m gonna be on my way to Oldale now, and, uh, you seem like a really good trainer. So, could you, like, uh, teach me the basics? Like, how to catch Pokemon, and stuff?” The brunette’s tone was a little embarrassed - the sound of teenage pride being slowly punctured.
Rikuya looked slightly disappointed, but nodded anyway. He led her out to the backyard and climbed over the fence and onto a small path, where he waited for her to join him. From there, they trekked along for awhile in the suburbs until they reached a small ledge. Rikuya clambered over and led Hazel down. The two stood in the shaded woods, waiting for a wild Pokemon to come along. They were generally found in the tall grass - the kind they were currently in front of - but sometimes, it could take awhile before anything showed up.
Hazel could imagine Rikuya’s tone if he was speaking. The key to every aspect of training, he’d say - delivering three-time World Champion Greyson Ashley’s famous speech on winning his second World Cup - is patience. You need patience to wait for the right Pokemon to come along. You need patience to time the throw of the PokeBall just right. You need patience to train it to its full potential. You need patience in battle to identify your opponent’s weaknesses. And, last and most importantly - you need patience to listen to this speech. No, seriously. It’s freakin’ long.
At that very moment, a small black and grey puppy tumbled out of the long grass. Immediately, it rolled to its feet, raised its hackles and snarled. In one swift, fluid movement, Rikuya reached for his PokeBall and hit the switch as he extended his arm, causing an elegant flow of light. The beam shaped itself into the familiar form of Geko the Treecko, who dropped into a low, sneaky-looking fighting stance as he materialised.
Hazel took out her PokeDex and turned it on. She found an option that said ‘SCAN’ - on touching it, a 3D model of the very same puppy appeared besides its PokeDex entry page.
“Poochyena, the Bite Pokemon,” the PokeDex read in a mechanical female tone. “Known for being savage and tenacious, it will chase after anything it considers prey. It is omnivorous, and its species is named for its innate characteristic to bite anything that moves.”
Meanwhile, the battle was already in full swing. The Poochyena charged straight into Geko, who slipped out of the way and struck Poochyena from behind. The puppy snapped at Geko, charging again, but the nimble lizard avoided the attack once more. As though he’d finally decided to take the battle seriously, the Treecko suddenly launched a relentless combination of attacking, dodging, and counter-attacking. The way Geko moved seemed to match a rhythm. Every time he slipped just outside Poochyena’s reach, his body flowed aside, rather than simply moving out of the way. Even his punches were graceful, as though he was a ballet dancer turned world boxing champion.
Now Hazel understood why Rikuya didn’t need to command Geko. The Treecko moved with its foe, obeying Newton’s Third Law perfectly by matching strike for counter, breaking Poochyena’s defence effortlessly. Even as she looked on, Geko evaded Poochyena’s wild charge and swept its hind leg out from right under it. He followed it up with a punch to the side of the face, timed so as to send the puppy reeling, but carefully controlled in order to keep Poochyena just within his reach.
Geko executed an uppercut, striking Poochyena’s throat. His opponent whined from the sudden brutality of the move, stumbling, and suddenly there was a PokeBall flying through the air. It sucked the exhausted canine into it, causing an abrupt silence to replace the growls and whines. The PokeBall dropped to the ground, wobbling. Hazel could imagine Poochyena inside, slamming the non-existent doors of its otherworldly prison. It quivered for a few more seconds before clicking, signifying a successful capture.
Rikuya walked over and picked up the PokeBall. He then proceeded to brandish a card at Hazel (he must have written it during the fight). It read: ‘And that’s how you catch a wild Pokemon! Any questions?’
“Nope,” Hazel said. “Oh, wait, I got one. Which way is Oldale Town?”
Hoenn International Airport, Mossdeep City, Hoenn
The Man in Black and the Woman in White strode out of the airport, ignoring the stares their odd attire drew from others. They walked to the parking lot, where a small white Volkswagen (keeping in with the monochrome theme) awaited them. Inside sat a driver, as expected.
What they did not expect was for him to be a Pokemon.
What they expected even less was for him to be a talking Pokemon.
“‘Allo there, mate,” said the large purple blob on the front seat in what sounded like a thick Australian accent. As they watched, stupefied, he - or maybe she, or, the most likely option, it - grew slightly larger in size, until it seemed to widen into a more humanoid shape. It looked like a large misshapen lump of molten purple wax, with two indented pinpricks for eyes and a vaguely curved gash below that caused its features to resemble a popular Internet emoticon, the ‘smiley’. The odd Pokemon extended an arm to its ‘head’ and bowed, giving the impression that it had just removed a non-existent top hat. “I’m Rudi, an’ I will be your shoffer for the duration of your stay.”
“First of all, it’s not ‘shoffer’, it’s ‘chauffeur’,” said the Man in Black, when he had regained his ability of speech. “Second, what kind of name is Rudi? And third, why the hell is our driver a Ditto?”
The Ditto’s face twisted, its eyes forming sideways V-shapes and its mouth curling into a small circle, conveying a sense of annoyance. “First of all, I did say ‘shoffer’. Not ‘chauffeur’. Same thing. Second, it wasn’t my f*ckin’ decision, a’right? And third, why not?”
“First of all -” The Man in Black’s reply suddenly ground to a halt as he realised something incredible. “Wait. You’re talking.”
The Ditto’s offended face remained. “Well, of course I’m f*ckin’ talkin’. I’m a Ditto, aren’t I?”
“That doesn’t explain why you’re talking,” the Man replied. He turned to his companion. “And why aren’t you saying anything?!”
The Woman, mildly amused at this exchange, let out a giggle. “Well, I was the one who asked for him, wasn’t I?” She walked over by the Ditto. “Meet Rudi Irving Washington, one of our best Pokemon agents in the field. He’s been an invaluable asset to us since we obtained him from the Goldenrod Day-Care Centre in 2009.”
“He’s four years old!” spluttered the Man, now having a fit of apoplexy.
“In Ditto years, tha’s nearly twenty-four,” Rudi said helpfully. “Look on the bright side, mate; I’ll only be alive for anothah four years. Oh, wait. Tha’s not the bright side.” His face now formed a ‘D:’ emoticon.
“Now you’ve made him sad,” the Woman said, her tone irritated. “We can’t have a sad Ditto for a driver.”
“We can’t have a Ditto for a driver, period!” exclaimed her male counterpart.
Rudi made the annoyed face again. “‘Course you can. Just watch, mate.” And with that, he began to morph. It was not pretty to watch: his ‘eyes’ melted away and his entire body contorted. His entire body inflated like a giant swollen bruise, and the purple colour swirled away like paint on water. Protrusions extended from his body, bursting out like tentacles. Slowly but surely, he was transforming into a man.
Route 101, Hoenn ~ 12 PM
“Alright, Finn,” said Hazel, a little unsure. “C’mon out.”
The Mudkip burst out in front of her, glaring at its opponent. The small red worm glared back, its tiny eyes determined. The small spines down its side quivered a little in the breeze, and the two large yellow stingers at its tail stood erect, as did the one on its head. Behind it stood a boy around twelve years old, wearing a blue shirt and a hat. For some reason, he wielded a butterfly net as well.
“Finn, this is Calvin,” Hazel explained, “and that’s his worm.”
“Wurmple,” Calvin corrected.
“Whatever. So, Calvin wants to have a practice Pokemon battle for when he gets his training license.”
“I sent my form in for the third time yesterday!” shouted the child enthusiastically. “They’re going to accept it! You’ll see!”
Hazel rolled her eyes. “Riiight. Let’s just get this battle started already.”
“OK!” Calvin said brightly. “Wurmple, start with String Shot!” The insect fired a line of silk from the stinger, and the string slid over the ground with a wet splat.
Alright, that’s probably going to slow Finn down a bit, Hazel reasoned. It’s too sticky to go for a direct attack, so I’ll begin with a special move.
“Hey!” complained her opponent. “This is battling, not chess! Wurmple, Tackle!”
“Aw, c’mon,” Hazel grumbled, turning her attention back to the fight. Wurmple scurried over to Finn and bashed its little body against the amphibian, who seemed relatively unhurt. “Right then, Finn, use Growl. That should scare it off for a bit.”
The Mudkip chittered in a guttural tone that reminded Hazel of a certain platypus, causing Wurmple to back away nervously. Satisfied, Hazel ordered, “Great, now wait for -”
Finn ignored her, charging instantly. He slammed sideways into Wurmple, and the bug let out an odd, pained noise as it was hit. Relentless, Finn continued assaulting his opponent with Tackle. Hazel contrasted the Mudkip’s battle style with that of Rikuya’s Treecko. Geko was careful and delicate, battling like a dancer, whereas Finn was all brute strength. He took every advantage he found, foregoing timing and precision in favour of raw power. It took exactly three Tackles to knock out Wurmple.
Calvin stared, a little disbelieving. “You knocked Wurmple out ...” he whispered.
“Yeah, well, it wasn’t exactly the Terminator we were up against,” Hazel pointed out drily.
“MOMMY! SHE MADE ME LOSE!” Calvin burst into tears.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Hazel held out her hand. “Fork over the dirt, kid.”
“... What?” The preteen sniffled, looking up at Hazel.
“Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Hoenn. Just because I’m not from around here doesn’t mean I’m stupid. ‘As per the new laws of battling’,” Hazel recited, “‘in case one party experiences loss or forfeiture, the other party is legally entitled to ask for a sum of money in case they carry a PokeDex that can calculate the correct sum based on Bernhard’s Equation’ -”
“OK, OK!” whined Calvin. “I’ll pay you. Here!” He handed her a couple of dollar bills, which she proceeded to stash in her new wallet.
“Well, that was fun,” Hazel commented, walking away from the still-sobbing child and back onto the path that lead to Oldale Town. “But you know, you really should obey my commands in battle, Zuzu.”
Finn made an annoyed sound.
Alright! Now the Pokecommunity edition of this fic is up-to-date with the latest chapter! :D
Chapter 7 brings with it Nurse Joy, Daniel Roberts and Aidan Kent! (You'll figure out those last two if you keep reading.)
(the remakes that R/S/E deserved)
/ Chapter Seven /
“I Said It ‘Cause I Can”
Oldale Town, Hoenn ~ 2:15 PM
Hazel flopped onto the leathery surface of the sofa with a sigh of relief. It had been a long day already, and it was just past noon. If Pokemon training is so exhaustive all the time, she thought, I’m gonna be having second thoughts.
It had taken her all of an hour and a half to hike through the woods, seeing as the path often disappeared into the undergrowth, emerging on the other side of a particularly thorny shrub. It definitely hadn’t helped that wild Poochyena often appeared, snarling as they emerged from bushes and grass. Finn had helped scare them off - most of the time, a simple Tackle attack would knock them out quickly, but there had been one incident a few metres away from Oldale Town when, instead of Tackling, he lowered his head-fin to the ground and jerked it back up suddenly, sending a spray of damp earth at the Poochyena. That was when she’d learned something about Pokemon.
“Alert,” the PokeDex beeped from her backpack. “Alert. Alert.” It wouldn’t shut up until she pulled it out and tapped the screen. A rather lifelike 3D figure of Finn appeared, alongside his bio-data - height, weight, area caught, moves known and a few other specifications. An exclamation mark popped up beside the ‘moves known’ heading. The list blinked for a second when she tapped on it, refreshing. When it was loaded fully, it displayed the list of Finn’s attacks.
“Tackle, Growl and ... Mud-Slap? Hmm, I wonder what that does.” Hazel tapped the attack name, and Mud-Slap’s page opened up.
“Mud-Slap, category special, Ground-type,” the PokeDex said mechanically. “Simple attacking move. Obscures target’s vision, causing loss of accuracy.”
Now, sitting on a sofa in the Pokemon Centre, Hazel was scrolling through the list of moves Mudkip could learn. A few of them were learnt naturally, but some were labelled ‘Egg Moves’ - techniques that were genetically inherited from the Pokemon’s father - and some were labelled ‘TM’ - not in a circle, like the trademark symbol, but just the abbreviation ‘TM’. Intrigued, Hazel had searched the Internet, for the PokeDex lacked any more information, and found a news article dated eight years ago:
Unova: Nobel Laureate Professor Daniel Roberts was murdered today as he left his home in Nacrene City. Professor Roberts, currently 52, won the Nobel Prize for his invention of Technical Machines - abbr. TM - in 2004, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize again earlier this year after his team of scientists in Nacrene University announced that they had perfected the ‘second generation’ of TMs.Well, that’s all well and good, Hazel said inwardly, but it still doesn’t tell me anything about what TMs actually are. Maybe I should ask the nurse ...?
At that moment, she heard the now-all-too-familiar ping! as the number on the ceiling mounted display changed, indicating that the person holding the token of that number should go to the desk to have their Pokemon healed.
“Number 204,” called the nurse at the desk, brushing her pink bangs away. “Token number 204.”
Hazel, starting, checked her token. It read 207; she’d be up in a few minutes. When it was her turn, she took Finn’s PokeBall and set it on the desk.
“Standard healing?” asked the nurse. “Or do you have any special requests or concerns?” Hazel shook her head, noticing that the nurse’s name tag read ‘Nurse Ellen Joy’.
“Actually, I do have two things to ask,” Hazel said. “I just sent in my Trainer’s License application an hours ago. When can I get confirmation?”
“I’ll just check and - oh, here you are.” The nurse tapped at the computer, and in a few seconds a small sheet of glossy paper popped out of the printer. Hazel watched, fascinated, as Nurse Joy placed the paper over a different kind of paper - a thick, stiff variety - and, in seconds, glued the glossy print-out over the hard paper. She presented it to Hazel. “That’s it. It’s done.”
“That was quick,” Hazel commented. “Oh, and I just wanted to ask, what are TMs?”
The nurse’s face changed subtly. “Keep it down,” she said quietly, taking Finn’s PokeBall and placing it in a machine that looked vaguely like a bulky oven. She turned to flick a switch on the machine, and, at the same time, whispered, so low Hazel could barely hear, “TMs are Technical Machines. They’re discs composed of some form of biotechnology which acts like an organic implant, used to teach Pokemon moves they don’t learn naturally, but are biologically capable of using. Right now, they’re incredibly controversial and banned in Hoenn -”
Nurse Joy broke off, turning with a smile on her face once more. She handed Hazel Finn’s PokeBall. “Here you are. Your Pokemon is healed up and ready to go.”
Hazel took Finn’s PokeBall and walked away, confused. Technical Machines ... Never mind, she thought to herself, determined. If thousands of trainers in Hoenn can do without them, so can I.
Her train of thought came to a halt as she felt a growing sense of tension in the Pokemon Centre. Two men, both dressed in black hoodies and wearing opaque sunglasses, had walked in. One leaned against the counter, talking softly to Nurse Joy, while the other stood beside him, examining a brochure with an air of disinterest.
Hazel walked out of the Pokemon Centre, a little uneasy. It had been a long day and she was ready to crash already - even though it was barely three in the afternoon - but not just yet. She had another place to visit.
“So, this is the Pokemon Mart, huh?” Hazel stood in front of the building. It was a small shop that stood two blocks down from the Pokemon Centre, with a bright blue roof and a rotating sign outside that read ‘MART’. She stepped inside, and a blast of cool air hit her from the air conditioner on the ceiling, reminding her how warm Hoenn was compared to Johto. Then again, Hoenn’s all the way south, in the tropics ...
“Hello and welcome,” said the clerk at the desk, his tone bored. “Can I help you?”
“No, not yet, I’m just looking around.” Hazel moved to the display cases opposite the counter. They held everything a trainer needed - PokeBalls and other capture balls, healing items, items to cure poison, paralysis and sleep, and countless other essentials. Unfortunately, when Hazel checked her new wallet, she realised that she hadn’t got enough to buy much. Thus, when she finally walked away from the Mart, it was with a sigh and a single Potion.
“Well, that’s it for now, I guess,” she said to herself, sipping on a soda in a small roadside cafe by the Pokemon Centre. “Can’t head onto Route 102 now, it’s way bigger than 101 and by the time I get to Petalburg, the Centre there will be closed. Guess I have no choice but to stay here overnight and leave tomorrow morning.”
That still left the question of what to do. Oldale was a sleepy town, and Hazel’s phone didn’t get any reception - the nearest tower was in Petalburg City to the west - so texting was out of the question. She found an old computer at a cyber cafe, practically a fossil - it ran on Windows XP, for God’s sake! - and looked up ‘what to do for fun in oldale’. However, the Internet connection - it was a freakin’ dial-up connection - was so laggy that she gave up out of pure frustration. In the end, she asked the nurse at the Pokemon Centre if they had any suggestions to kill time. Nurse Joy gave her an odd look, before leading her into a back room and giving her a CD.
“This,” she whispered conspiratorially, “is a CD of my all-time favourite Hoenn League Championship tournament, the one in 1999. There’s a computer with a paid Internet connection in your room, but you won’t need the net. Just put it in and -”
“I know how to play a CD,” Hazel interrupted. “Thanks a lot.”
Hazel expected the tournament to be pure violence; she’d seen the Johto League a couple of times, and found it to be far too brutal for her tastes. She did like the World Cup - the trainers who participated were normally extremely skilled, and battled like chess players, carefully and gracefully. Nevertheless, she had nothing to do, so she put the CD in the drive and hit ‘Play’.
The Hoenn League was nothing like either of them.
By the time the first hour-long video had ended, Hazel was spellbound, her eyes glued to the computer screen. This tournament was frantic and active, but the trainers were no less skilled than the World Cup trainers. Pokemon she’d never seen before carried out intricate strategies, moving quickly and striking in the blink of an eye, or winning by sheer endurance alone. She spotted a familiar face in the very first round; Aiden Kent, half British, half Hoennian, winner of the 2008 World Cup. Hazel knew he was a citizen of Hoenn, but she didn’t realise he’d been battling in tournaments since ‘99.
It was 7:45 PM. Hazel had burned through nearly four hours worth of battles. She’d skipped the preliminary rounds entirely and watched most of the Top 128 one-on-one battles. The next round was the qualifying rounds, where sixty-four of Hoenn’s best trainers participated in ‘mixed doubles’. Basically, two trainers with two Pokemon each were randomly sorted into teams and double-battled another team, with the first team to lose two out of four Pokemon eliminated. This resulted in thirty-two teams, and sixteen battles - and sixteen winners. The Top 16 went to the finals, and the battle was watching was the one that would decide if Aiden Kent reached the Top 16 or not.
“This is the final battle of the mixed doubles!” The announcer was literally roaring into his mic; the bad sound quality combined with his harsh voice caused Hazel to wince and turn down the volume. “As you all know, this determines who the last two trainers into the finals are! Ref, over to you.”
The referee on the field spoke quietly, but the mic on his collar amplified what he spoke. “On this side, we have Rai Anderson from Lilycove and Lina Nozomi from Fortree City,” he said, “and in the other corner, we have Aiden Kent from Lavaridge and Uri Kassen from Fallarbor. Challengers, you may begin in three ... two ... one ...”
Anderson was the first to move. He hit the switch on his PokeBall, yelling an indecipherable command at his Pokemon even as it appeared. A large grey pachyderm burst onto the field, snorting as it charged forwards at Kent’s choice of Pokemon, a hulking eight-foot-tall humanoid with four muscular arms. Meanwhile, Nozomi had sent out a much smaller Pokemon: a small, yellow-skinned rodent with two red pouches on its cheeks and a zigzag-shaped tail. Hazel recognised Anderson’s choice as a Donphan; they were quite common in Johto, especially around Mahogany. She could also hazard a guess that Nozomi’s Pokemon was a Pikachu; they were well-known as the URR’s national Pokemon. She knew Kent’s Pokemon was a Machamp; he’d called on it twice earlier, and it had won both battles. Kassen’s Pokemon, however, she knew nothing about. It was a small, tan-coloured thing, looking vaguely like a teddy bear with sleepy, half-closed eyes and dirty red markings, and it wobbled around like a drunk ballet dancer.
The battle was in full flow just two minutes later. Machamp had begun by using what Hazel figured was its favourite move, Seismic Toss. It simply picked up Pikachu in one of its hands and hurled the rodent into the air, from where its squeaking (and rapidly falling) victim aimed a burst of crackling energy (the announcer observed it was a Thunderbolt attack) at the four-armed giant in protest. Donphan skidded to a halt after receiving a powerful punch to the face from Machamp, allowing Pikachu to bounce on its back and land safely. The ‘teddy bear’, meanwhile, was facing Donphan (not looking, because its eyes were shut) and murmuring something unintelligible. To Hazel’s surprise, Donphan - which had been pawing the ground, about to use Rollout - suddenly grunted in exhaustion and flopped on its side, asleep.
“Well, that was an interesting start, folks!” the announcer said excitedly. “Uri’s Spinda - nickname, ‘Thumper’ - appears to know Hypnosis, and has just put Donphan to sleep! Donphan is now easy picking for Machamp, and let’s be honest, Pikachu aren’t exactly known for their incredible defences. This looks like a walkover for Kent and Kas-”
Before he could even finish, Machamp had pulled a glowing fist back, eyes shut intensely, and proceeded to punch Donphan in the side with the force of a speeding Humvee.
“Ooh, that looks like a fairly painful Focus Punch right there,” the announcer said, cringing. “Did that put Donphan out of the fight, ref?” But the referee shook his head. “No? Alright, looks like Donphan is still sleeping, but it’s taken massive damage already with that. But in other news, it looks like Spinda just got knocked out!”
The referee counted to ten. When Thumper still didn’t rise, he said, “Spinda is unable to battle.”
With a curse, Kassen’s hand flew to his belt. He withdrew Thumper, sending out another Pokemon. This one was a small, black-skinned quadruped, encased in a massive cage of solid bone. Only its eyes, unnerving and yellow, were visible from the depths of its armour.
“And Uri just got really serious! He’s sent out the powerhouse of his team, Shelgon, nicknamed ‘Scarface’! Ooh, this looks like a strong ‘un, folks,” the announcer said apprehensively, his eyes fixed on Shelgon. At this point, Machamp proceeded to draw back its fist, preparing another Focus Punch on Donphan, but Pikachu leapt up, firing a Thunderbolt in the way. Machamp, its concentration broken, rounded furiously on the trembling Electric-type. With a roar that said You’re mincemeat, the colossal humanoid performed another Seismic Toss, hurling Pikachu straight into Uri’s Shelgon’s way. Scarface, eyes glowing, rammed the front of its body into the lightning rat. The referee counted to ten, and then stated, “Pikachu is unable to battle.”
“Looks like that combination of Seismic Toss and Zen Headbutt just fainted Pikachu!” exclaimed the announcer. “It’s one loss on both sides; the first side to lose another Pokemon will be eliminated!”
Even as he spoke, Machamp and Shelgon turned to Donphan. Even as Nozomi fumbled for a PokeBall, the two combined their strengths. Machamp pulled back its arm and gave Donphan a resounding whack that roused the sleeping Ground-type. Before it could even clamber to its feet, Donphan was hit in the face by a stream of steaming magenta flames. With a final groan, it collapsed to the ground. The referee, stoic as ever, waited for ten seconds before saying, with the barest hint of emotion, “Donphan is unable to battle.”
“And that,” roared the announcer, “ends our match, two-one!”
Hazel nearly cheered along with the crowd, but was brought back with a jerk to the real world by a pang of hunger from her stomach. Reluctantly, she switched the computer off and went to get something to eat.
This is unique. That remains a central tenet of this story for me, personally. In my years of reading fanfiction, I've been hard pressed to try and think of a story that's quite like this one.
First off, is the characters. Their personalities are wonderfully refreshing and very fun to read, especially after a long day. Hazel's development over the last few chapters as well as the introduction of Rikuya as her silent mentor has been incredibly done. I still have my doubts as to how long Rikuya will be able to hold his silence, but seeing him communicate to Hazel and his Pokemon in the mean time is very entertaining to read.
The plot and backstory revealed so far are intriguing enough to read as they are. Tax fraud, jealous/vengeful Gym Leaders, government agents, talking Ditto drivers, and an expansive history into the legislative workings of the Hoenn government are just some of the few reasons I eagerly await each new chapter.
Though there were a few grammar errors, they have been caught since I last read this. You're story-telling abilities have already improved since the start of the story.
All in all, this is, in my humble opinion, worthy to be the plot of an actual remake of the much-beloved third generation.
Keep up the good work, GKkiller. There's a lot of potential here.
Knightfall signing off...