I'm tired. I’m always tired. After no matter how many hours of sleep, or days I spend in bed, my body always feels like a heavy, lead weight. It usually takes me an hour or two to actually get up once I wake up, and if I do manage to stand up for the day, it takes even more effort to utilize whatever time is left. As usual, I spent the beginning of this afternoon just scrolling through my dry phone, riddled with all the Pokemon news and Battle Digests I couldn’t avoid no matter how hard I tried.
In this day and age a phone can be anything with all the modules we have available. Most people invent and make their own, sometimes sharing them with others, but the most popular and sought out one is the Pokedex, which I’ll never touch.
Living in a pokemon obsessed world when you have no interest in pokemon is a wild endeavor. You can’t go into a home renovation store without seeing shelves of jigglypuff childrens room carpets, fungoos salt and pepper shakers, or (cruelty-free) squirtle shell dresser knobs . One time I tried to buy some incense that would help me stay awake and the lady wouldn’t sell it to me because I didn’t have any pokemon to make us of it.
At 3 o'clock in the afternoon I finally spilled out of bed, landing myself on the floor. My legs and my body felt like a wet soggy towel, but I stood up anyway and slumped down the stairs, one slow step at a time.
At the base of the stairs, staring out the window was my brother, Falkner, the town gym leader.
“Morning, Gretchen! Good day to be outside battling, isn’t it?” He said with energy. The idea of having to talk to him, especially about Pokemon, made my legs feel even heavier.
“Doesn’t your new game come out today?” He asked, turning to me with his chipper lopsided smile and wide eyes.
“Yeah,” I said sitting down at the table, “release is at five. I already paid for it so I just need to go get it.”
“With the money I gave you last week?”
I said nothing.
“You know, there are better things to be spending your money on.” He said, sitting down at the table across from me.
I placed my hand on the back on my neck, “whatever.”
Better things meant pokeballs and battling items.
“Hey Wretch,” he said, throwing me that awful nickname. I turned towards him just in time to catch a small coin bag thrown at my chest. “Some spending money. Don’t waste it on something stupid.”
Stupid, in my brothers vocabulary, meant another game, or stolen or scalped merchandise from the local thugs. I can’t say I like giving them any money, especially when it’s the allowance from my brother I earned doing nothing, but they’re the only market in the whole region who will sell battle items to anyone who has the money, regardless of how many pokemon or gym badges you have, or don’t. Which is good for when all you want is some damn incense.
Pokemon battling probably gives you a lot to feel proud of, if you’re good at it. Otherwise you end up sitting on a route corner, desperate for some passerby to come and beat up your team of pet rats, followed by some tag-line about how proud you are of them anyway. And you’d do this for months, probably, until your parents are calling you, begging you through tears to just come home.
What would be the point of subjecting myself to that embarrassment when I already live in the shadow of my brothers wings, flying freer than I ever will, no heavy boulders, prickly bushes, or anxiety holding him back? I could never be on Falkner’s level. His energy and motivation alone have me beat, and it shows in just the weight of our steps. I hate going out into public as it is; it irritates me when people recognize me.
“Are you buying pokeballs? Will you finally join your brother?”
“Are you going to fight alongside your brother?”
“Will you be joining your brothers gym?”
Or worse yet: “Are you going to try and defeat Falkner?”
Join him? Defeat him? With what? A team of rats and bugs that don’t require any special skill to catch, just to throw them to my brothers highly specialized (and legally officiate) team en mass like the rest of the toddlers and schoolchildren in this town who delude themselves into thinking they’ll be anything more than glorified pet owners? No, I won’t be joining him, or defeating him. I’ll just continue to live off him like a parasite, stuck in the confines of freelance programming gigs and the occasional graphic design commission, earning nowhere near enough to move away somewhere.
Speaking of which, how much money did Falkner give me?
20,000 yen. Boujee gym leaders...
What did he expect me to do with this? He didn’t even tell me to pick up take-out.
The Pokemart passed by me in my peripheral. I turned my head to glance at all the shimmery new pokeballs in the display window. Pokeballs, great balls, ultra balls, some special ones I didn’t recognize, all marked with a price - the original pokeball’s price tag being the largest in size, marked at the cheapest, 200, as it was the standard for beginners. You weren’t even allowed to buy the higher gear unless you had a certain number of gym badges to prove you can handle it, regardless of how many pokemon you had.
Had I went in and bought one I’d be stuck with the embarrassment of only being allowed the most basic gear: original pokeballs, your standard weak potion, and some other cheap medicines.
As I was needlessly staring at merchandise I'd never make use of, I caught a glimpse of my own wretched reflection in the window. No wonder Falkner calls me that. We share the same blue hair, and blue eyes, but he carries himself much better. There’s so much more love and pep in the things he does; his voice doesn’t crack when he tries to speak, his steps are as light as his birds’, yet just as fierce as all his good intentions. Every move he makes has meaning, whereas I haven’t brushed my hair in 3 weeks, and I’m just now leaving the house to grab a video game.
There was a midnight release I didn’t go to because I didn’t want to walk the 2 blocks to the game store to pick it up. I didn’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of people having fun I couldn’t join in on because nobody wants the gym leader’s weird and estranged younger sister hanging around with no purpose. No wonder I was bumming Falkner out. I’m a textbook disappointment.
With no control over my legs or voice, I walked inside. Normally, no one would catch me in here on my own free will; usually I was with Falkner, or picking up supplies for Falkner with a list officiated by my brother’s stamp himself to prove I’m not some rocket grunt trying to scalp battle items.
But this time, I walked up to the counter with shoulders more hunched than usual and asked, after a long, awkward pause.
“O...one standard pokeball, please.”
You’d think Arceus itself had walked through Violet City, with the amount of sheer perplexity on the store clerks face.
Don’t..look at...just give me the item, please.
I tried not to sigh, close my eyes, and pass out. The familiar stares of recognition and surprise were physically paining me. I could feel the lasers in their eyes burning holes in the back of my neck. I’d only wished it was real, killing me instantly.
The store clerk placed my new item in a small brown paper bag, and I stiffly walked out. People had recognized me. If anyone was on friendly terms with Falkner, they’d surely ask him the next time they see him, “your sister caught a pokemon?”
I tried not to think about it, deciding to just get back as soon as possible. Let them think what they wanted, I just wanted to be away from eyesight.
I’d catch the same battle fodder everybody else does just to say they did. Something easy, something Falkner knows how to deal with, a simple flying type. There are Pidgey on Route 31 this time of day. Shoving the pokeball in my pocket, and the paper bag in a recycle bin, I headed East, to Route 31.
The pokemon on Route 31 required no skill to catch. Most of the time, you wouldn’t even need to battle; the pokemon here have adapted to living so close to the city, most are just naturally friendly towards people.
A few yards in front of me, a wild Pidgey sat preening its wings. Having noticed but caring very little for me, it still watched cautiously. This was it. I pulled out my single little pokeball and pressed the center button.
I never took any classes on how to aim these things (though they were offered). Instead, I just took a deep, nervous breath, and threw it. It flew, fell, rolled, and stopped at the Pidgey’s feet. From what I knew, that should still have worked. The Pokeball opened, but Pidgey didn’t go inside of it: something came out.
“Wh-what?” I blinked. The Pidgey was unfazed, and I quickly realized why.
A Weedle had come out of the pokeball. The pokeball I bought from the store, that should definitely not have had a Pokemon inside, but it did, and there it was. Face to face with its own wild predator.
I was so stunned that when the pokeball returned to me, instead of catching it I just let it hit me and fall back to the ground. Weedle turned to look at me in confusion and fear as Pidgey started rearing up its wings.
Wha-what do I do? That wasn’t supposed to happen!
Then I realized something was off about the Weedle. The barb that’s normally on the top if it’s head was chipped. Instead of a pointed tip, it was a broken stub.
As fast as I possibly could, probably pulling a muscle in the process, I ran to Weedle, and snatched it up just as Pidgey’s beak missed it and hit the ground. As I passed it, the pokeball systematically returned to me. I can outrun a single Pidgey; I did all the time playing with Pudge, Falkner's first Pidgey now a Pidgeot, growing up. But if it started kicking up dust and calling for more, it was over for us -- it was over for Weedle, and Falkner would never forgive me for that. Neither would I.
I felt sand hit my back as I ran down the path back towards town, only hoping I wasn’t about to lead a whole flock of them back to town. Another mess for my brother to clean up. Still, I kept running.
By the time I made it back to the town entrance my legs were so tired I couldn’t feel them anymore, my lungs felt like they might burst, and I felt like I might throw up. I sat down against the side of the “Route 31” sign post, and caught my breath, waiting to see if anything followed me.
Hopefully one Pidgey wasn’t going to bother itself with a runaway Weedle, who, speaking of, was still curled up in my arms. It looked up at me with two beady, compound eyes and made a weak sound.
Where did you come from? I thought, but just as I did a runner in a tracksuit and a Hitmonlee in tow came passing by.
“Hey, are you okay?” He asked. “You look like a mess! You should get you and your pokemon to the Center. There are places there to rest up.” He jogged off. He didn’t recognize me, and I didn’t recognize him so he wasn’t on personal terms with my brother. Or maybe that’s just how bad I looked.
I shifted positions and a pain tinged through my legs; they were so sore. Sand fell from my hair down into my shirt and down my back. Some went down the back of my pants. I was a mess. I needed to get home.
“Sorry about this,” I said to Weedle, who I doubt could understand me anyway. “Re-return?” I said hesitating, pointing the pokeball back at Weedle, putting it safely back inside in a beam of red light.
I returned home on sore feet that wished for death. When I walked inside Falkner was still sitting at the table with a cup of something warm in hand watching the news on TV. Pudge, resting outside his pokeball in a nest made of cotton stuffed fleece, alertly opened his eyes and jerked his head around in my direction.
He can smell Weedle…
“Holy...! You get in a fight, Gretchen? What happened to you?”
I was too tired to even make something up.
“I need a shower,” is all I said, and I painfully climbed up the stairs past my brother, unaware of the little commodity in my pocket. Pudge followed me, flying up the stairs next to me, keenly eyeing my pocket all the way up.
Once in the bathroom I combed as much sand as I could out of my hair, which was knotted to hell after weeks of leaving it. I shook off my clothes, letting the sand pile up on the floor. I’d have to sweep that up later. My legs hurt so bad I took my shower kneeling down, standing only made me shake. I never did exercise much - or at all.
Once back in my room in clean, grit-free clothes I sat on the edge of my bed, holding the shrunken pokeball in my hand, staring at it, unable to decide what to do next. There was a pokemon in there, one I hadn’t caught on my own. Who did? Who was its trainer? How did it end up in circulation at the Mart?
Pudge perched outside my door, occasionally tapping on the doorknob with his beak, which was no doubt grabbing Falkners attention.
I jumped at an unpleasantly loud knock on my door.
“Wretch? Are you in there? There’s sand all over the bathroom floor! What did you get into today? I thought you were picking up some game!”
“Go away, Hack, I’m tired.”
“Tired? You’ve been awake for like, 2 hours. Let me in, why don’t you?”
I ignored him. There was no way I could tell him. There was no way I was going to be able to keep it. I couldn’t train a pokemon, and a Weedle hardly even works as a pet. To make matters worse, Falkner was a flying type specialist, not bug. What was I thinking?
Despite my aching legs, I ran back out past my brother, who chased after me towards the door, Pudge right behind him.
“Gretch! Gretchen! Where are you off to now, seriously! Please,” he pleaded still chasing after me. “Talk to me, sis!”
I stopped and turned to him, also stopping him in his tracks. Pudge fluttered his wings in place next to Falkner, wanting to follow me but a Pokemon as loyal as that wouldn't leave it's concerned trainers side, no matter how interesting I suddenly may be.
“I swear, I will when I get back.” I ran off again back to the Pokemart.
“I’m really sorry to bother you with this, but I need to make a return.”
“That’s no problem! What will you be returning?” The PokeMart clerk, pulling out a returns book with pages of the different bar-codes.
“This Pokeball I bought from you guys already had a Pokemon in it.”
The store clerk looked up from the returns voucher book with both a puzzled and surprised look on her face.
“That’s very odd. May I see it?”
I handed the pokeball to her and she scanned it with the hand tool normally used to scan items. She looked at the register screen for a few seconds before turning back to me.
“I’m very sorry about this, that doesn’t normally happen. When people make returns on items such as pokeballs they go through our systems to make sure they’re empty, but this one must have been missed. I’ll take it off your hands for you, replace it for free, and throw in a premier ball for the troubles.”
“Oh, th-thank you.” I said, having no intentions of using one ever again. I’ll give them to Falkner if I can ever bring myself to tell him about it.
New pokeball and premier ball in bag, in hand, I left the store back out onto the street. A few yards ahead of me across the cleanly swept, cobblestone city clearing, I could see the Pokemon Center. Outside sitting on one of the benches was a smiling trainer. On the ground in front of her was a Spearow, flapping its wings with happily ruffled feathers, clearly in love with its trainer. I almost felt...envy?
Weedle, with its stubbed barb, flashed in my mind on repeat. What’ll happen to it? It’ll get released for sure, but then what about wild Pidgey and Spearow? It happens every day to wild Weedle, but this one had been caught, and safe in the hands of a trainer who at some point took on the responsibility of not letting anything bad happen to it, then sold back off for money to pay for who cares what. The mental image of Weedle, that Weedle, trying to fight off a horde of Spearow with just its stub caused a twinge in my heart that was going to last for as long as that image would play in my mind.
“On second thought,” I said walking back into the store, “I’ll keep that Pokemon.”
The store clerk looked confused for about half a second, before an understanding smile spread across her face.
“Okay!” She said. “I’m sure Weedle would like that, too.”
Out of courtesy, I gave back the two extra pokeballs I had and trudged home with Weedle back in my pocket.
Pudge (nice name btw) can smell Weedle, eh? Should have expected that.
Good premise in general terms. There's always the cliché, not spoken of loudly in public circles, of "person who wants nothing to do with Pokémon in a world full of Pokémon", and this story starts with placing a character in the situation where it seems, for them, that the world is as such - but then again, sister to a canon character, the recommendation of how to look at the world comes from too close.
A good work with the poor Weedle too, that was a close call. Pidgey are not as aggressive as let's say anime Spearow, so everything should be fine~
(And luckily it was not a Murkrow. IRL crows learn the faces and voices of people who mistreat them -or deny them food- and then you eventually have a mob ready to snap at you because of word of beak. But hey, Pidgey are so friendly~)
I agree with Venia that this is a good start to an interesting premise. Besides Gretchen being related to Falkner, she doesn't like the pressure of becoming a trainer because of her family. Speaking of which, I recall in the games Falkner being stressed being in his father's shoes, so the two siblings aren't so different. That would actually be a neat conversation the two can have in the future.
I too am curious how a pokeball with a Weedle was able to get through, but I assume you're saving that mystery for later. Will be interesting how she'll handle training now. Looking forward to more!
“Falkner?” I said quietly, creeping the front door to our house open. The TV was on, Pudge and Falkner were nowhere to be seen...until I stepped into the door and it closed behind me, revealing a hidden Falkner. He crossed his arms at me.
I said nothing.
“I’ve waited patiently for the last hour for you to tell me what’s going on. You said you would when you got back, and now you’re back. Talk. To. Me.”
Without being called on, Pudge released himself from his Pokeball. Other trainers might have reprimanded this by shoving them back in, but Falkner wasn’t that kind of trainer.
Pudge flew over to me and I put my hands up as he went for my pocket and cooed softly. What a caring Pokemon. He might be able to tell Weedle is hurt beyond what regular battle does. Which puts the responsibility on me. I have to tell Falkner, or Weedle’s injury could cause it more problems.
“I-- I don’t know how it happened…” I said.
“What?” My brother asked, his stern look slightly turning to concerned.
“Before you ask, I don’t know what I was thinking…”
“But I can’t turn it away, not after seeing it…”
I pulled the Pokeball out of my pocket. Pudge flared his wings excitedly and started nudging it with his beak.
“Where did you get that, Gretchen?” My brother asked me, very seriously. It sounded almost like he was shaking.
“I c...caught...it-bought it, actually.” I looked up at him. “It’s a slightly complicated story.”
There was a pause, a long one.
“You...bought it? Gretchen, from who?!”
“From the Pokemart! I bought a Pokeball with the money you gave me and it already had a Pokemon in it! If you don’t believe me you can ask the sales clerk.”
“You bought a Pokeball, from the Pokemart. And somehow it already had a pokemon in it?”
“Gretchen, this is amazing news!” He suddenly yelled. Pudge trilled in confused excitement.
“What?” I blinked, standing a little more upright.
“Arceus, Wretch! I thought you were trying to tell me you joined Team Rocket!”
I stuttered no words in particular.
“Well let’s see it! What did you c-I mean what did you find?”
“Well that’s the thing…” I said. “It’s hurt, for real. I don’t think a regular heal-up is going to fix this one.” I released Weedle from it’s capsule and landed it softly cuddled in my arms. It made a weak noise upon fully materializing. It curled up into the crook of my arm.
“Oh, ouch,” Falkner said. “Poor thing.” Pudge trilled sadly. “We need to get it to a center immediately. The poison is leaking out of it’s broken barb, he probably feels super defenseless and scared right now. Put it back in it’s ball, it’ll be safer that way.”
I did what he said and followed him out the door, paying no mind to my still aching legs that would no doubt ache for days.
“Pudge,” Falkner said. “Fly us there.”
You’d be able to tell by the look on the nurse’s face she was a little apprehensive on diagnosing a Weedle with anything more than fatigue. As stated, a lot of little kids come through here with their rats and their bugs as a means to get out of taking care of their Pokemon themselves. The Weedle care unit is a little over-saturated. Luckily, Falkner was with me, and was able to vouch for my story. Within the hour Weedle was fitted with a custom-molded prosthetic horn.
“As Weedle evolves, it’ll fall off naturally. You should hold off battling for now to let it settle in, however.”
Falkner thanked her profusely, and nudged me in the side with his elbow to do the same. Weedle in arms, I bowed, embarrassed and internally cringing, I still mustered out a “thank you very much.” Weedle bowed too, though I doubt it even really knew what for.
“Oh, one thing I think you might want to know,” Nurse Joy said with a kind smile before we turned to leave. “Weedle is a girl.”
“Go, Lilly! …Go, Sadie! …Go, Bailey! …Go… bug…”
“What are you doing?” Falkner walked into my room where I was standing in front of Weedle trying to sic it on a stuffed Teddiursa I pulled from my closet.
“Trying to get it to do anything but it just keeps staring at me. It doesn’t respond to anything I call it.”
“Try just Weedle, for now then, Gretchen.”
“Then Weedle,” I shouted pointing back at the stuffed Teddiursa, “Get it!”
“‘Get it’ isn’t a command, Gretch. You need to teach Weedle what you mean.”
“What does a Weedle do?”
“Poison sting, Gretch. It’s a baby poison type.” Falkner said flatly. He put his head in his hands, sighed, and went to walk out. “I’ll be right back.”
This is a mess, I thought, beginning to get stressed out.
“Okay, Weedle,” I said crouching down between Weedle and the Teddiursa. “Poison sting!”
It made a noise and stared at me. I picked it up and turned it to face the target. “Poison,” I said, tapping Weedle’s prosthetic barb, “Sting.” I pointed at the Teddiursa. “Get it? Sting it, sting the target.” I picked Weedle up and held it close to the stuffed animal. “Poison sting!” Weedle apprehensively tipped its barb towards the Teddiursa. It lightly jostled as Weedle gently launched a poison jab at it.
“Yes, Weedle! That’s exactly it!” I set Weedle down and stood up excitedly. “Poison sting!” Another jab, this one stronger, went into the stuffed Teddiursa this time, leaving a small hole. “Again, Weedle! Poison sting!” Weedle let out a cry and another jab, sending the Teddiursa back against the wall where it slumped down.
In all my excitement I didn’t notice Falkner standing behind me. I made a guttural noise and jumped, which caused Weedle to jump into a defensive position.
“Looks like you two are already syncing wavelengths,” Falkner said, with an arm full of books of varying thicknesses.
“What are those?” I asked, the spike in my adrenaline calming down.
“These, Wretch, are books,” he replied in a tone that suggested I had never read one before, dropping them into my arms. “A book on caterpillar pokemon, an in-depth guide to poison types, a bug pokemon field guide, and emergency first aid. Poison types are, well, still poisonous, Gretch.
“Also,” he said, pulling a brochure out of his jacket pocket, setting it face up on the pile of books in my arms. The cover pictured the front of the Pokemon Academy.
“Sch...school?! I can’t go back to school, Falkner, I’m in my twenties!”
“You will if you want to train Pokemon,” he said seriously, but with a short smile. All I could do was stare at him. I never said I wanted to train pokemon, just raise Weedle. I turned to where she was still standing on the floor and she tilted her head at me.
“Just give the books a read, Gretch, and who knows? I think Weedle would like that, too.” And with that, he walked out.
I slouched, turning back to Weedle.
“Well,” I said, not really expecting it to understand me. “I suppose it’s time to give you a break, anyway.”
Pudge is strong enough to fly two people. That's good. I'm loving this little birb.
Good work with getting Gretchen and Weedle to connect, making it short and to the point. I think Weedle shares the idea that she don't want to fight she just want to be raised, it'd be lovely to have that get to happen.
Also a thought: Azalea is just... well, some distance away. Is the next Gym and is Bug-type. Depending on where and how in a Pokémon timeline this is, the Leader could be Bugsy or their predecesor, and in any event they'd be someone who at least knows their Bug-types. I wonder...?
Violet City is somewhat of a small town. People recognize people, even frequent visitors from outside who come in for work or for the school start to become a part of the general picture of Violet City. So when I, the estranged younger sister of the well-respected face of the entire city walked into the 101 class of the only Pokemon major school in Johto, it created a dead silence.
Beginner classes are common; there’s enough people from all age groups all the time just getting to Pokemon. It was a smaller class, but they were older than grade schoolers. As they all simultaneously turned to collectively gawk at my presence in surprise and bewilderment, I noticed some that were even older than me, which would have helped if they weren’t staring me down.
A noise behind me made me jump, which caused Weedle in my hood to latch on to the back of my neck with her surprisingly bristly, grabby legs.
“I see you’ve all made it on time,” an older man in a suit with a beard and frameless glasses said as I jumped to face him. A Pokemon I didn’t recognize stood behind him, almost as tall as he was - pink, with some sort of crown, it had a gentle smile. Weedle peeked out from within the mess of my wet hair I had only washed and not brushed that morning before rushing to the school. The man looked at Weedle then back to me. “Humid environments are perfect for raising caterpillars in, Miss Gretchen,” he walked past me and towards the front of the room, his Pokemon in tow. “Can anybody else tell me where else it’s safe to keep caterpillar Pokemon?”
Nobody said anything as this man stopped behind the desk at the front of the classroom and propped himself up on it on the palms of his hands. “The answer is inside Pokeballs, Miss Gretchen. Today I will make an exception, but from now on, at home, or in Pokeballs. That goes for everyone here. This is a beginner class, and we’ve had enough accidents in the past with inexperienced trainers to warrant the use of certain rules. As you grow, these rules become more lenient, but for now, get it out of your system. Pokemon are indeed exciting, but they are also to be respected, and I will not accept anything less than full willingness to cooperate, learn, and mature.”
The stunned silence continued and as quietly as I could, while everybody was looking ahead, took a seat in the back right by the door where I was originally left standing.
“I am Professor Dutsk, and this is my Slowking, Padriv.” The Pokemon politely bowed its head. Behind me, Weedle did the same. “He is my study partner and life-long companion, I’ve had him since he was an abandoned slowpoke, left without a tail, and raised him myself. It was in raising him that I developed my passion for Pokemon husbandry and rehabilitation education. Let me make this as clear as I can from the get-go, I will not tolerate pro-Team Rocket banter here.” He clapped his hands together once, “now that you know my story, we are going to go around the room-”
“-and introduce ourselves-”
“And give a little brief explanation about why you decided to study Pokemon, any Pokemon you may have with you, and what your study goals are.”
“I think Miss Gretchen would be a good place to start, what do you think?” He held out his hand towards me and the entire class turned to face me once again.
Oh, Arceus no.
There was a pause where I was having trouble saying anything. Weedle poked her head out and there were some facial reactions I couldn’t read. Did they hate her? Hate me? Hate that I brought her with me? I thought I could, I thought it was expected. Did they have a I already messed up day one and I felt I had enough attention as Falkner’s sister to begin with. I was beginning to feel really hot, but I knew the only way to get them to stop was to say…something.
“I’m here because of Weedle.” I spoke slowly.
“A poison type,” Professor Dutsk said, “or more interestingly, a bug type. Why, I wonder, when your family specializes in flying types? And does so very well at that.”
Stop talking to me.
“I found her by accident.” I said, leaving out all the unnecessary information.
Professor Dutsk raised his eyebrows slightly. “I see, even more interesting. Well, Miss Gretchen, I sincerely hope you find what you’re looking for here.”
“I’m here to become a professional martial artist, with my Machop and Mankey,” one boy piped up, unprovoked, standing up and showing off one muscular arm with two minimized Pokeballs in hand. “I want to train under Chuck one day!”
“That’s a good goal to have, what is your name?” Dr. Dutsk asked.
“Andrew, but just call me Andy!”
“Welcome aboard, Andy,” Dutsk said. “As I said before, today is an exception, you may take your Pokemon out for introductions, however-”
“Alright!” Andy said about to throw up his two Pokeballs.
“KEEP Mankey in his ball.” Dutsk interjected, almost desperately. “Any accidents and I have to revoke this exception for the whole class. This goes for any oversized Pokemon, like Onix. Apologies, I am not about to pay for this classroom’s reparations again.”
“Then, come on and say hi, Molly!” Andy said confidently, releasing a Machop from one Pokeball. Machop beamed and made an excited noise, immediately showing off muscle mass.
“Machop are known to be quite the showoffs,” Dutsk said. “Do you know any of fighting types weaknesses?” Dutsk suddenly asked Andy.
“Of course! They’re weak to psychic types, but we don’t really battle, Professor, just other martial artists.”
“Knowing weaknesses doesn’t necessarily only apply to battle. Battling or not, you should know about your Pokemon’s abilities.” Professor Dutsk turned to me. “How about you, Miss Gretchen, do you know what else fighting type might be weak to?”
“...Flying types.” I said flatly.
“Correct! Andy, I look forward to witnessing your learning journey.”
“Ready for anything, prof!” Andy gleamed.
“Who’s next?” Dutsk asked.
This was when I looked around the class and counted how many times we were going to go through this. There were eight of us - seven students, one teacher.
“My name is Arianna,” one girl with gentle eyes spoke softly, but kindly. “And this,” she said, releasing her introductory Pokemon from its ball, “is Isa, my lovely Hypno.” She threw her arms and weight around the shoulders of the Hypno, who didn’t budge. “I want to train service Pokemon for people with disabilities. For example, Hypno can put people to sleep, and keep nightmares at bay.”
“That is such a wonderful thing to hear, Miss Arianna.” Dr. Dutsk gleamed.
Strong fighting types, powerful psychic types...what was I doing here? I suddenly felt more out of place than I ever had. I contemplated sneaking out the door and never coming back, but Weedle shifted in my hoodie and I felt a twinge of guilt.
That’s right, I hear you. I’m not here because I want to get stronger-I want to learn how to take good care of Weedle, and only that. So I sighed, reached up behind me and gently scratched Weedle’s little head as she curled up and went back to sleep. Plus if I gave up now Falkner might not ever support anything I do again. So I stayed, sitting quietly, listening to everybody introduce themselves.
And so Dr. Dutsk continued.
“You, sir, middle row by yourself.” He pointed to a boy sitting alone in a circle of empty desks. He had a somewhat angry disposition; low set eyebrows on an otherwise neutral countenance, sitting up straight in his chair but with his arms crossed, which he leaned over and rested on the desk once he was called on.
“Hi,” the boy said coolly with a casual wave of his hand. “I’m Seth.”
“Welcome aboard, Seth,” Dr. Dutsk replied. “Do you have any Pokemon you'd like to share just for today?”
“I'm not going to take it out right now.”
“Fine! Fine,” Dutsk said acceptingly. “That’s fine. Well, I look forward to getting to know you Seth, you seem like the quiet type.”
Seth said nothing in response. It was during this silence we noticed two others sitting in a corner, whispering only to each other, tapping things into their pokegears. When they noticed all of us staring at them in the silence, they stopped.
“And you two,” Dr. Dutsk said in the awkward silence, raising his eyebrows. “What are your names?”
They were silent for a minute before the girl spoke - “We don’t have names.”
This sparked a series of looks from everyone, even I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow.
“Okay,” Dutsk said, “I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt here. Why?”
“Well,” the girl said, “that’s because-”
She was cut off when the entire room began to rattle. Dutsk stood up from leaning on his desk in sudden contemplative awareness. Arianna and Andrew fell over onto their supportive Pokemon who held them up. Isa telekinetically picked Arianna and herself up off the shaking ground. Seth ran to the window, recoiled back when it ended up shattering, but went back to it to look outside.
“An earthquake?” He said loud enough for us to hear over the rumbling. Dutsk stumbled over to where Seth was standing.
“Somebody is using Earthquake,” he shouted. He looked back at the class with massive concern. “And they’re not training,” he said.
Weedle gripped my neck so tightly it was starting to sting. She made a sound in my ear. “It’s okay, Weedle, just stay where you are.” I pulled out my Pokegear and managed to open up my messages to Falkner. Over the chaotic shaking I managed to stumble out, “scsshcoool nn oow,” in a message and hit send. As I did, Dutsk and Seth were stumbling back to the door, Dutsk stopped, as did Seth, to usher everyone out.
“Everybody out the emergency exits! If you have flying Pokemon, get off the ground!” As everybody was stumbling out, Andrew called back Molly into her ball as he exited. Arianna and Isa floated out behind them. I couldn’t help but stare aimlessly into the classroom. Where did those twins go? The only one left was the nameless student who hadn’t had a chance to introduce himself yet. I watched him jump out one of the shattered windows, land on a Flying type, and swoop away.
“Gretch!” Dutsk called to me. “You alright?!” I snapped back, nodded, and ran out. He, Seth, and Padriv, Dutsk’s Slowking, followed suit. “I’m so very sorry, Pad,” I heard Dutsk say before a flash of red light suggested he recalled Padriv.
By the time we made it to ground level, the shaking had subsided and we could safely run out into the yard. It was too dusty to see anything. The only thing I could see or hear over the sound of something else as I ran out covering my face with the crook of my elbow was all the glass from the broken windows crunching under my shoes as I followed the safety of the blue telekinetic haze that surrounded Arianna and Isa.
“Talonflame!” I just barely heard a voice yell from above. “Gust away that dust!”
The dust rapidly subsided but I had flashbacks to just a few days ago as a great bunch of it ended up in my clothes and scratching at my face as it blew away in one direction. The nameless trainer from our class aboard a Talonflame appeared above it all. But as I looked forward I noticed two shadowy figures standing in the clearing debris, and I realized the sound I was hearing was helicopters, multiple helicopters.
So Gretchen's in her first day of class is off to a rocky start there. Poor her feeling left out. I do like the reference of the teacher's Slowking being one of the Slowpokes that lost his tail. And hmmm, that motto sounds awfully familar...