Hi everyone, new member here. ^^
As a brief introduction, Running with Rapidashes is a story set within the Pokemon universe, specifically the Sinnoh region , and revolves around the character Eliza Cotton, a 35-year-old Pokemon Breeder and her ranch, Gossy Fields Ranch.
All comments and criticism are greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading.
Eliza always smiled when people asked her why she never went on to challenge the Elite Four. Even though it had been years since she declared her end as a Pokemon trainer, she still had all her badges and there was no doubt her Pokemon had been ready (and still were). But she only laughed and motioned toward the large fields where Ponytas and Rapidash raced each other along the fence lines and the large pools of water where assorted water Pokemon frolicked and reclined in the cool water.
“I’m a Pokemon Breeder at heart. All I wanted to do was create a place where I could raise and breed Pokemon and come to understand them. Really, I just fought the gyms to get some money. Someone else can be the Pokemon champion; bein’ a trainer isn’t for me.” Was her usual reply as she tipped her hat and excused herself to feed the multitudes of Pokemon on her property.
Her response was not anything anyone could argue with. True, not everyone had to be a Pokemon trainer and finish off the entire league and other Pokemon-related professions were just as necessary. It was only everyone silently thought it was a shame such a talented person would leave things so…unfinished. But even if they were curious, they respected her choice of occupation as a Pokemon breeder and applauded the reputation she had built for herself.
Everyone knew about “Cotton-raised Rapidash from Gossy Fields Ranch” and there were always trainers and other people interested in purchasing one of the famed horses or ask her to raise and breed their Pokemon for them. Whenever anyone said her ranch and knowledge was up there in the ranks of other famous breeders from around the world, she laughed as she looked at the rolling hills and man-made ponds that crossed her home, asking with a grin how anyone could call “such a small nook world-renowned” before accepting another offer to raise or sell a Pokemon.
Her modesty was admirable.
So it came to be, nestled away in the rolling hills of Sinnoh was a large Pokemon ranch owned by a successful Pokemon breeder who could have been an equally successful trainer. But as she mucked out stables and plucked straw and Pokemon hair off her clothing, surrounded by the Pokemon she raised and loved, she was certain of one thing;
This life was perfect.
It was a sunny Sinnoh Tuesday morning when Eliza awoke and shoved the sleeping Persian draped across her body off. Still moderately asleep, the massive feline gave a low growl, claws unsheathing temporarily as it gave a lazy stretch before rolling back over, caught up in a dream about gold coins and all-you-can-eat gourmet Pokemon food buffets. She laughed and reached over to ruffle her companion’s head as she slid out of bed, carefully stepping over the large Absol and Luxray, both Pokemon sprawled across the floor as they slept. Their gentle snores filled the room and a small smile crossed her face as she watched the three doze, knowing the peaceful scene would only last for a few more minutes.
It was a part of the daily routine; wake up, shove Bast off her body so she could slide out of bed, avoid tripping over Nocturne and Nefra, then attempt to take a shower. The sound of running water would awaken Nocturne and Nefra, who, after stretching and scratching themselves, would scratch at the door and whine and whimper, eventually waking up Bast who would snarl and scowl at them, annoyed at being awoken from her nap.
Eliza knew the moment she opened the door to let them into the bathroom, they would bound inside and try to fit inside the small room (and she knew better than to let an electric-based Pokemon in her bathroom), a feat akin to making a Muk smell like fresh daisies. Or they would clam up and blink innocently at her with their large eyes as they waited for the moment for her to close the door and resume her shower, frantically whining and pawing at the door immediately after.
So she tried to keep her showers quick. Even with large sheets of thick plastic covering the doors, their claws were beginning to graze the wood underneath. Her family and friends often asked why, after listening to her talk about the latest damage their claws had done to the door, she didn’t keep them in their Poke Balls or cages. Eliza always laughed at the idea. Her Pokemon were family and she the idea of keeping any of them confined to a Poke Ball appalled her.
Rinsing the last of the shampoo out of her blue hair, she grabbed a towel and quickly dried herself off, the whining and scratching reaching a crescendo. “All right, all right, I’m comin’!” she called out, sliding into her bathrobe and opening the door.
An explosion of blue, black, and yellow met her as the door opened, her Luxray’s massive paws slamming down on her shoulders and rough tongue licking at her face. Once Eliza believed the feline really was that energetic and happy to see her, but quickly learned Nefra liked the smell and taste of the soap and shampoo she used.
“Nefra, I’m glad to see y’too. ‘Cause it’s not like we see each other every single day, nope not at all,” she remarked as she pushed the feline off and knelt down to give her a happy hug. At the gentle prodding from her Absol, she turned to hug him too. “Yes, an’ you, Nocturne.”
From the bed, Bast rolled over and gave a lazy yawn, a large grin on her face as she twitched her whiskers.
Finally able to free herself from the two enthusiastic Pokemon, Eliza made her way to her closet and slid open the door to survey her vast array of t-shirts and other clothing suitable for working. Discarding her bathrobe, she quickly slid into a t-shirt and pair of work jeans. From her nightstand she grabbed a pair of fingerless leather gloves and slid them on as Nocturne grabbed her cowboy hat off the hook on the door with his mouth and padded over to her. Ruffling his head, she took the hat from his mouth and set it on her head.
“Well? How do I look?” she asked the gathered Pokemon as she grinned and held her arms out.
In typical fashion, Nefra gave a bored yawn, Nocturne turned his head and blinked, and Bast rolled over looked away.
Not expecting any less from the three, she rolled her eyes and left the bedroom, two of the three Pokemon tagging behind.
While her bedroom was normally a mess, understandable as she shared the small room with three other Pokemon, and her office was hardly any better, the kitchen was kept in immaculate condition. Dishes, separated by ones for Pokemon and ones for herself and any human guests that may drop by, were stacked neatly in the cupboards with a fresh set in the dishwasher waiting to be unloaded. In the cupboards and cross the kitchen counters were tightly sealed bags and containers holding assorted dry food, grains, spices, and other food supplements with neatly written notes attached to each one. On the wall next to the telephone and answering machine was a large calendar and memo pad, both covered with various notes and numbers, arrows intersecting each other and pointing out information in a jumbled mess only Eliza (or her Alakazam) could decipher.
Opening the door to let the two Pokemon outside, Eliza watched from the kitchen window as Nefra and Nocturne shot outside, tackling and pouncing each as they ran around on the lawn. She remembered when they were both small balls of fluff and fur, pouncing and playing with everything within reach as they tore around on tiny legs. Little had changed, save them becoming larger balls of fluff and fur.
A loud screech came from above as a large Pidgeot dropped out of the sky and landed on the deck rail, preening his feathers. A second screech followed as a Swellow dove down, landing several feet away from the Pidgeot. The two birds eyed each other warily, but bowed their heads in respect as they turned their attention to the two wrestling Pokemon.
Attracted by the noise, other Pokemon began to assemble, some to watch the two wrestling Pokemon and others to wait for the upcoming breakfast. Two blurs, one orange and cream and the other light green, raced across the lawn, shapes rapidly gaining definition as they neared the deck. Whinnying triumphantly, the Rapidash slowed down to a gentle walk, her head resting over the railing as her fiery mane flickered gently. At her side, the Scyther slowed down, accepting his defeat as he leapt into the air and landed gracefully on the deck, crossing his scythes together and giving a small bow to the assembled Pokemon.
With the last of her usual Pokemon gathered—Kaz and Ruko were largely independent and self-sufficient and rarely gathered with the other Pokemon to eat—Eliza began preparing their meals. Like any good Pokemon breeder, Eliza possessed an expansive knowledge of Pokemon dietary needs and could create the perfect meal for not only her own personal Pokemon, but any Pokemon in her care. It was her job after all.
Swiftly pulling fresh ingredients out of the freezer and refrigerator, she began creating the individual dishes. The Pokemon clambered around outside, chatting and observing everything. When the dishes were brought out, they waited patiently as she set out the dishes, waiting for the last one to be placed before they began eating.
With her own Pokemon family cared for, Eliza began walking toward the barn to care for all the other Pokemon. With several acres, it took several hours to feed and care for all of them. Even with others employed at the ranch and the occasional offer of help from family or friends, Eliza enjoyed waking up early to feed and groom. It was her job, her passion, and she could hardly imagine it being different.
A large grin crossed her face as she approached the stable and stopped to breathe in the smell of hay, dust, and Pokemon mixed in with the crisp morning air. ‘Eliza’s perfume of choice’ her friends joked whenever she joined them for lunch, bits and pieces of hay stuck to her hair and the natural smell of Pokemon still fresh in her clothing. She laughed and agreed with them as she picked hay out of her hair.
Excited whinnies cut through the air and she slid open the stable door to the sound of hoof stomps, grinning at the long row of Rapidash and Ponyta. While she loved all sorts of Pokemon, she couldn’t deny the magnificent fire horses would always have her heart. Walking down the long hallway, she greeted each one by name and patted any heads that popped over the stall doors. During the night, all Pokemon were kept inside to protect them from any poachers or wild Pokemon, but during the day all of them were released outside. Reaching the end of the stable, she opened two large doors that lead out into one of the many large fields across her ranch. Large enough for even the most energetic Rapidash to race across, it was the perfect environment to raise and train the speedy fire horses.
But first came breakfast. Backtracking down the rows, she began removing the feed buckets from each stall and noting any half-eaten or barely touched food before consulting the health charts attached to each stable door. Carrying several of the containers to the feed shed, she threw out any remaining food and began scrubbing out each container, making sure each one was dry before filling it up with a mixture of grains and supplements and carrying the container back.
By the time the last horse was fed, the sun had risen into the sky, promising another day of excellent weather. Jotting down some notes on a few of the health charts, Eliza gave the stable another glance over before heading off to her second location.
Her second stop was the area reserved for Pokemon left in her care to raise and breed. With the majority of her work coming from requests to breed and raise the Pokemon of trainers, a large section of her ranch was devoted to providing the best care possible. Though unlike the other areas where Pokemon were allowed to roam freely, with the danger of so many diverse Pokemon with different temperaments in one area, most Pokemon were kept in their own separate kennels or secluded rooms, with the most temperamental and dangerous kept within their Pokeballs.
Feeding these Pokemon was always a harder and longer task. Many had been spoiled by their owners and would only eat certain foods (things gleefully left by their trainers), but Eliza always frowned at the bags of sweets or so-called gourmet Pokemon food handed to her by enthusiastic owners and tried to reason with them, explaining how, sweets were not an appropriate substitute for a proper and nutritious meal, and many took her words to heart, but the more stubborn continued to spoil and pamper their precious Pokemon and in the end, she knew she could do nothing but to give the best care possible for the duration of the stay.
There were also the headstrong and cantankerous personalities to deal with. She hardly expected every Pokemon to be friendly and knew in the case of many she would have to work hard to earn their trust and respect. Even with Pokemon known for their loving and gentle personalities, there was always an exception and Eliza knew letting her guard down around could result in a serious injury. Of course the occasional scratch, nip, burn, or shock was expected, but she tried to keep even those to a minimum. So she carefully worked with each Pokemon, learning what would work and what would not in hopes of establishing a good relationship—or at least forge a temporary agreement for good behavior.
But as frustrating and dangerous as the job could be, Eliza loved the challenge of training different types of Pokemon. She saw it as the best test of her abilities and constantly sought out ways to improve and perfect her techniques. It reminded her of the journey she once took as a Pokemon trainer, but instead of defeating gym leaders and earning their badge, she was now taking on new types of Pokemon and learning how they worked and forming a greater understanding.
Halfway through bottle-feeding a group of baby Skitty—one had stolen her hat and was now running around the room while the others chased after it—Eliza looked up as the door opened and one of her ranch hands walked in. With a small wave, she set aside the Skitty squirming in her arms. The small feline-like creature skittered off to give chase to its hat-covered companion with the rest of its litter as Eliza stood up and dusted pink fur off her shirt and pants.
“Mornin’ Dustin, how’s Chelsea doin’ with the baby?”
Dustin gave a large grin as he knelt down and held out his hand to let a curious Skitty sniff it before giving its head a gentle pat, his massive hand almost enveloping the small head. Despite his large, bear-like appearance, Eliza could hardly think of anyone as gentle and caring toward Pokemon, his wife aside.
She had met the pair at a convention for Pokemon Breeders and after talking with them about proper grooming techniques and ways to raise water Pokemon over several drinks, offered them a job on her ranch. As a new couple trying to make a name for themselves in the Pokemon world, they had accepted, originally intending to gain more experience and knowledge before moving on to their own place, but after several years, they decided to stay around and help out, something Eliza was eternally grateful for. While Glossy Fields was always hers, she knew it would not be the same without the help of the young couple and attributed the recent years of success to their aid.
Scooping up the small Pokemon, he perched it on his shoulder and supported it with one hand as he stroked its head with the other, listening to it purr in delight at the attention. “Well, there’s the whole crying at night and all the extra attention that has to be given, but what can you expect? Though he seems to like the berry mix you suggested, so thanks for that.”
With a laugh, Dustin raised a hand to his brow and gave an exaggerated sigh. “Never knew raising an Eevee could be so hard. I hope I’ll be ready when the baby arrives.”
Eliza laughed and shook her head, kneeling down and plucking her hat off the Skitty’s head as it ran past. It paused and mewed at the loss of its toy, but quickly ran off as Dustin fished out a brightly colored rubber ball from his pocket and rolled it across the ground, gleefully chasing after the new toy. “Two more months, is it?”
He gave a small nod and set the Skitty back down. “A little less. Got the nursery and everything set up, bit of a waiting game though. Decided on names though. Matthew if it’s a boy and Melissa if it’s a girl.”
“They’re good names. And like I’ve been sayin’ all these months, you’ll be a fine father and Chelsea will be a fine mother.”
“Glad I have your confidence. Raising a child and raising a Pokemon, I just don’t think they’re the same. They’re similar, but…” Dustin whipped his hat off his heat and wrung the brim of it in his hands as he looked down at the Skitty scattered around the room. Sprawled out in a comfortable bed in the corner was the mother Delcatty, dozing in contentment. He helped the mother birth the litter of four and took care of the eternally curious felines, but it terrified him whenever he thought about his own soon-to-come child.
Not that he was against the idea of having children—when Chelsea told him the news, he had danced around the house and called everyone up to share the news—but he was scared of doing something wrong. He knew of all the good things he could pass down to his child, but it was all the bad things that terrified him.
Eliza took her own hat off her head and turned it around in her hands. Single and with no children of her own, save the Pokemon she had raised, she knew she had little advice to give. But she gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “But what? Sure, they aren’t the same, but you’re still using the basic principles. You’re going to teach your child to grow up to be a loving and compassionate and have respect for humans and Pokemon alike and share all the love and warmth you pass on to the Pokemon I’ve seen you raise. And it’s not like you’re doing this alone; Chelsea will be alongside you, and I will too.”
At his boss’s reassurance, Dustin gave a quiet smile as he nodded in agreement with her words, flipping his head back onto his head. “Yeah…you’re right. I just gotta try my best, right? Just do everything I can. Just like raising Pokemon. Thanks, ‘Liza.”
There came a small pause before Dustin snapped his fingers. “Your mother called and wants you to have lunch with her today.” He grinned and pointed a finger at her. “And I’ve already looked at your schedule for the day and you have plenty of time to do so. There’s a small handful of grooming appointments, but I can get those taken care of, and lunch will only take an hour or two. You have to go visit your mother.”
There were always calls from friends and family asking if she could come over for lunch or go out and see a movie, and as much as she wanted to go, her busy schedule usually kept her confined to the ranch. Though she rarely complained; as much as she loved her friends, she loved her job too.
But she supposed there was no harm in going out to visit her mother for lunch. Her stomach growled in agreement.
“Well, guess I have no choice. I already fed the ‘Dashes so let them out into the pasture once you finish up here. Rest of the schedule should be the same, but I’ll be back in an hour or two.”
“You got it. Enjoy yourself, all right, Boss?”
Eliza gave a tip of her hat and a small grin in response, giving the Skitty crowding around a final pat on the head before leaving the room. Grazing on a patch of grass outside of the building was her Rapidash, Nova. With a whinny, she trotted over to her human companion as she exited the building.
“So, Nova, want to pay my mom a visit?” Eliza asked as she gave her horse an affectionate pat on the neck. Nova stomped her feet and threw her head in confirmation, whinnying happily. She enjoyed going on trips, no matter how long or short.
With a laugh, Eliza began walking briskly back toward the barn, the eager Rapidash bolting ahead. After giving a thorough grooming session and attaching a bridle, Eliza climbed onto Nova’s back and nudged Nova forward, tightly gripping the reins as they took off at a gallop, a blur of red, yellow, and cream against the background of green fields and blue lakes.