V I K I N G
★ Route 29
Victors entry into the world of Monster Art Online was just as amazing as he had wished for it to be. He met up with three of his online friends, or their avatars of course, and together they went to get their starter pokémon in the lab of New Bark Town. They spent several hours with just playing with their pokémon and roleplaying for a bit, pretending to really be pokémon trainers. Then the lockdown happened.
The next week, the quartet were one of the groups who didn't dare to venture out from the safety of New Bark. They stayed there and only occasionally went to Route 29 to carefully train against wild pokémon. Aside from the cool looking but pretty silly Viking, who was Victor's avatar, there were three more avatars in their group of friends. One was Fraud, a short female avatar with dark skin and a rough ponytail who always wore a dissatisfied look on her face. One was Korm, an average cheerful boy who would never hurt a fly. One was Melkor, a tall, bulky male avatar who looked like he could get even the laziest troops to mobilize with determination in their hearts. He was that kind of guy too, who could inspire and reassure people easily with his warm, trusty ways.
On day 5, the quartet decided to travel to Cherrygrove City after all. Nothing had changed since the lockdown; there had been no news or signs from the outside world. Melkor decided that they needed to take action and do their part of the responsibility that every capable player now shared: to beat the game and help others log out. It was the only humane thing to do.
They had reached the center of Route 29 and Viking couldn't help admiring the scenery around them. Korm agreed. It was all very realistic and beautiful and as the sun set, they could even see Hoothoot beginning to fly around them. Korm joked that he'd defeat some and steal their eggs for breakfast for them. He knew very well that the game's mechanics wouldn't allow that though. Hoothoot didn't lay eggs like that here. If they ever did.
He went out and battled some Hoothoot though, in the company of Fraud, while Melkor and Viking stayed by a campfire they had lit. They had no sleeping bags or anything to spend the night in, but they figured it wouldn't do them much harm to just sleep in the soft grass. They were avatars, not 100% realistic human beings after all.
Two screams were heard that night on Route 29. Only one person came running back to the campfire. Fraud told them with shuddering voice that a NPC trainer had come out all of a sudden and challenged Korm, even though he only meant to train subtly against wild, weak Hoothoot. But he accepted, even though MAO actually gave players the choice to reject NPC challenges at certain times, this early route being one of those times. The NPC had defeated Korm's only pokémon thanks to a lucky critical strike. Korm had whited out and the avatar had shattered before Fraud's eyes.
The remaining trio didn't sleep at all that night, they just lay by the fire in silence, mourning the supposed death of their long time online friend Konrad Sparg, and trying to get over the shock of the brutal reality that the lockdown brought. The next day, Fraud and Melkor argued about going onward to Cherrygrove or back to New Bark. Melkor wanted to push forward, meaning that they had to fight on and strengthen themselves to keep this from happening to more people, but Fraud meant that they had to lay low and hide because the stupid, brave people could do that job if they wanted to while they waited and survived. The fight went on for the whole sixth day of MAO, until a confused and conflicted Viking eventually took Melkor's side. The group set off towards Cherrygrove in the afternoon.
"Actually, you are not hungry. You only believe that you are because your mind thinks that it is time to eat something. The game doesn't make you feel hunger, or sleep for that matter, because-"
"Oh my god, Victor, I KNOW!" Fraud gritted her teeth and walked faster to get away from the babbling inferno that constituted the youngest member of their former quartet.
"It's Viking, actually!" Viking corrected her, jumping over a branch laying on the road as he hurried to catch up with her again.
"And I'm Fraud. Sure."
"Yes! In MAO, you are. These are our new identities and I believe that if we are going to get out of this with our sanity intact, we should be our avatars in here and resume our 'real' identities once we get back to the real world. Otherwise we might confuse things and-"
Fraud was about to turn around and strangle him or something when Melkor raised a hand in front of her face, stopping her. "Look," he said. "Wild pokémon."
"Where!" Viking exclaimed and moved past them both to see where the grown avatar was looking. In the grass beside the road in the evening sunlight, a Jigglypuff marched out and blinked up at them. "AH! DON'T GET LULLED BY ITS DECEPTIVELY INNOCENT LOOK!" Viking exclaimed and held his arms out as if to protect the two behind him.
Fraud sighed. "You should battle this one to toughen your pokémon up," she just said, arms crossed.
"I agree. We'll watch from here and intervene if necessary," Melkor said with a smile and sat down on a rock beside the road, arms crossed as well.
"What... But..." Viking glanced at the Jigglypuff and took up his only filled up pokéball. Inside was Charmander.
"Don't come with 'she's a girl' again," Fraud called from her position in the grass just below Melkor's rock. "I'm a girl too and you don't get awkward around me! Not more than usual, I mean."
"But you are a boy in real life and I've known you for long! I don't even think of you as a girl here."
Fraud's face turned narrow and she didn't even dignify that with a response other than turning her head away in disgust. The Jigglypuff moved a bit closer to Viking, making him stumble backwards a bit. "Is this a girl or guy?" he asked the other trainers hastily.
"Capture it and have a look?" Melkor suggested, still smiling calmly.
Viking swallowed hard and pushed a few loose strands of his white dreadlocks back behind the green headband. Alright. He would do this. He would battle a cute looking little monster ball with a... a girl pokémon.
"Charmander, go!" he called out and sent out his starter from her confines. Through a flash of white light, the pokémon materialized as a lizard on the sandy ground in front of Jigglypuff. She growled energetically and blinked with her large, blue eyes. Then she smiled tauntingly at her opponent, signaling with a thumbs up to her trainer that she was ready to battle.
"Uh... So, fine evening, huh, Charmander?" said Viking, scratching the back of his head and not even looking straight at her. "I mean, uh. I don't mean to push you around. You look kind of nice today. I mean, uh, I..."
The lizard lowered her ready arms and turned to look at him with a "are you ****ing kidding me"-look. Jigglypuff leaned to the side to glance at him as well. Fraud couldn't help laughing even though she was actually a bit mad with him for being this silly over a female pokémon - she didn't even LOOK girly! Melkor sighed.
Thankfully, this Charmander girl was quite the patient one and a battle did commence before Jigglypuff had run away. After some Scratches and Embers along with Viking falling asleep from Jigglypuff's Sing attack and having to be forcefully awakened by Fraud in the middle of it all, the balloon pokémon was actually captured inside an empty pokéball and fastened next to Charmander's pokéball at Viking's belt. And thankfully for him, Jigglypuff was male. The white haired avatar shared a rather shy high five with his Charmander, who patted his knee appreciatively before going back inside her pokéball again and let him let out whatever amount of breath he had been holding during their interaction.
After this episode, Fraud found no words to express how much she detested Viking's flaw. Melkor summarized it well: "You need to train in more ways than one, pal."