Sarah Monroe was your average girl in your average town, living out her average life every average day by every average day in average monotony. She had an average appearance, a slim figure but not near hourglass appearance, short brown hair down to her ears. She wore jeans and t-shirts of varying colors, some with logos and text, some not.
She liked to read a little, not much. She had a few friends scattered throughout the small town she lived in, and they were close-knit. Her life consisted of average things: she woke up at seven o'clock in the morning every day, got herself dressed and fresh, then went downstairs and ate her breakfast. She went to school, learning things your average seventh grader in Floaroma Pokemon Academy learned. She then went home, dropped off her stuff and went to hang out, doing average things like going to the average mall with her average friends.
Overall, Sarah Monroe was average.
“And Maya,” Mr. Jacks said, glancing at the girl in the corner of the room. “Can you tell me what the effect of an Aspear Berry are, and why you should never mix the juices with a Rawst Berry's?”
The girl called Maya seemed to be drawing a blank. She remained silent except for the typical “Um”s, and “Err”s that one would expect of a student when they were completely and totally paralyzed with “I don't know!” fever.
Sarah hoped she wouldn't be called upon. She had no idea what the answer was, and this was a test review, so they weren't allowed notes. With her luck, this had been taught during Tuesday's lesson. She had gotten very little sleep on Monday and thus slept through most of the classes that day, especially Herbology.
“Emile, why don't you help her?”
Emile was a nerd. A complete and total “dorkus” as Sarah affectionately called him, and one of her best friends. He was bound to know the answer. She breathed a sigh of relief, now safe from being called upon. He sat on the other side of the room, a little upward from Sarah's right. He pushed his glasses up his nose, scoffing.
“Well, Mr. Jacks, the Aspear Berry secretes a juice that naturally breaks up the close molecular bonds of water. Essentially, it liquifies ice and then vaporizes the resulting water. They make great substitutes for Ice Heals: in fact, they were the original-”
“This is a great lesson, Mr. Hamilton,” Mr. Jacks said. “But I'd like to finish the test review.” The time was currently one forty-eight: it was just thirteen minutes into class. “So can you move on?”
“Ah-hem.” Emile cleared his throat as the thin giggles penetrated the air around him. Sarah's own included. Emile got on tangents sometimes, and it was hard to get him to stop. “As for mixing the two? Nice trick question. The two juices mixed together is in no way negative, other than slight dilution of their effects.”
“Very good. Now, Sarah! Oh dear sleepyhead of the day.”
Sarah frowned. Okay, it wasn't just Tuesday that she slept. Herbology was pretty much her time to catch up on any sleep she may have missed the previous night of the recommended eight hours. Got seven and a half? Sleep through thirty minutes. Seven hours? Entire class. She rarely missed more than one hour of sleep per night, but she used homeroom if she did.
“I'll ask you a SPECIAL question,” Mr. Jacks said, “because I have the feeling you wouldn't be able to answer the normal questions correctly.”
A small titter of laughter went through the room again.
“So, the question is simple. Combee carry Honey. Honey is spread on trees. What does this honey do, biologically, for the tree and its environment?”
“...Uhm.” Sarah was drawing a blank. Damn her sleeping habits! She glanced toward Emile, hoping for some sort of clue to the answer. Catching her ocular urgency, Emile put on the most ridiculous smiley face she had ever seen, then licked at the air.
Suddenly, it made sense to Sarah. “Oh, right. It makes the trees lick happy people- wait, what...”
The titter of laughter grew into loud, raucous guffawing from all but Emile and Mr. Jacks. Her face flushed a bright red.
“Quiet!” Mr. Jacks yelled. “Anyone care to help Sarah out here? This IS a question that will be asked on tomorrow's test!”
Maya, the quiet “hmm”er from before, spoke up. “It's nothing important... it just gives some nutrients to the trees and also gives some food to wild Pokemon, right?”
Mr. Jacks nodded. “Right. Good job.”
The rest of the class droned on without much appeal to it. The day ended in the same way, with the simple ring of the bell and the rush of students to get the hell out of Dodge.
But as Mr. Jacks and Herbology were Sarah's last period, she ended the class and day simultaneously with that embarrassment, and the embarrassment that Mr. Jacks confronted her before she left the room. He placed a hand on her shoulder and led her to the side as students rushed out, Emile glancing at her and nodding as he left.
“Sarah, is everything all right?” Mr. Jacks asked.
“Of course... why wouldn't it be?” Sarah responded.
“Ah, your grades... well, your grades have been getting progressively worse over the year. You started off great, yet...” he sighed, slowly shaking his head. “if you don't get your mind back in the game,
you're going to fail Herbology this year. And you know what happens then.”
Her eyes widened to the point of where she thought that her eyeballs would pop right out of their sockets. Pokemon Academies were done over seven-year periods. The first year, they learned EVERYTHING: History, Mathematics, Herbology, Mechanics (for Pokeballs), Mechanics (for other basic items), Battling (Covering Attacks, Skills and Status Conditions) and finally an elective. Breeding I, II, III, or Coordination I, II, III, or IV. You had to take both, but you got to pick over the years which you would take. The electives were not a necessary pass. Everything else was: you weren't eligible for the ANTI (Annual New Trainer Initiative) if you didn't pass all those classes your seventh year at least, and good grades for all seven were almost always picked. Sarah hadn't done too bad, she personally thought, getting average grades for all of her years so far, except for this one. And her only really bad class was Herbology; it was getting so deep into the stuff that it made her want to pull her hair out.
“I... I see...” she stuttered.
“You have a few extra credit options. You can also take a tutor – if it's what you prefer, I'm available all days of the week for after-school excluding Wednesdays. Or I can find you a different tutor, if you don't want me.”
“Will the extra credit be enough to boost my grade up?”
Mr. Jacks nodded, then shook his head, then nodded again. He seemed quite confused as to what to say. “Well, it depends. I suppose collectively... but even if you did them all, it'd only increase you barely above the level.”
Sarah tapped her foot thoughtfully on the floor, considering her options. Emile could be a good tutor for her, and with the extra credit combined with a good tutor... if she got off her ass, she knew she could pass with at least a C. Probably a bit too late to pull it up to a B, she supposed. Oh well. She nodded to herself.
“The extra credit options, then. AND I have a tutor in mind... okay! Is there anything I can take home with me?”
So that was how Sarah Monroe ended up going home with three papers on her hand: one on the history of processing berries into spray medicine, one on man's personal usage of berries and one on the general history of Herbology. And she needed to stay after school the next day for something she couldn't do at home.
Outside, she was greeted by Emile. He had waited for her, apparently. “Yowza. Why'd Jacks want you?”
Sarah sighed. “About that...”
The deal was set up. Emile volunteered himself as her tutor, and the two would work every night together from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM. These sessions could be tutoring in the traditional sense, or him sneaking in some help with research for the three papers.
And of course, she had to explain the situation to her parents. The abnormal behavior wasn't going to NOT catch their eyes, and she knew it.
But it had gone a bit better than expected. They were stern – she was going to be grounded for at least a month if she didn't pass Herbology with at LEAST a C, but at least that was more motivator. They did give her some praise for taking initiative, though.
After class the next day, Sarah got up and handed her test to Mr. Jacks with a hopeful smile on her face. She had crammed more information into her head last night than she had in two or three years, not since the end-of-the-year exam for History in fifth grade.
“You think you did well, Sarah?” he asked, taking the paper from her and setting it on top of the others in a pile on his desk.
He smiled and laughed softly. “So do I. Now, get your backpack. We're heading out.”
Sarah looked at him as if lobsters were growing out of his ears. She tilted her head slightly, cocking an eyebrow. “What happened to the fourth extra-”
Mr. Jacks placed a hand up, silencing her. “It's a field activity. Just come on.”
Sarah thought about it for a moment, but nodded slowly. “Alright.” She ran, grabbed her backpack and slung it over her shoulder, then walked out the door with Mr. Jacks.
“So where are we heading?” Sarah asked.
Mr. Jacks looked at her, smiling his reassuring smile. “Out to the Meadow. Just have some patience, Sarah.”
Sarah sighed. “But I'm not a doctor, Mr. Jacks.”
He laughed softly, and the two kept on going. They reached their destination after another ten or fifteen minutes of walking.
Floaroma Meadow was one of the most beautiful places in the world. Its source was varying in local folk legend – some said that a woman who dedicated her life to flowers planted the variety of colors in this place. Others said it was a Pokemon who inspired the growth. Either way, the Meadow was large and sprawling, full of a variety of different flowers all living beside each other in harmony. No other place in the world had so many different kinds.
And like any place with plant-life like this, it was virtually uninhabited by humans. It was a haven for Pokemon, Combee nests hanging from various trees, Wurmple crawling through the branches. Beautifly and Dustox fluttered through the air in mornings and at night respectively. Aipom hung from tree branches by their tails, grinning with excitement.
“Our project here is to observe the life,” Mr. Jacks said, “and mainly, focus on the practical aspect of Combee Honey for humans, particularly Pokemon trainers.”
“And what's that?”
“The Science Lab that partners with the school is in need of a few Pokemon for research. Particularly Combee, Burmy and Munchlax. All of which can be found here; this will be a continuous project. We will be hunting for these three Pokemon using the honey to attract them, battle them and then capture them. Well, I suppose the better terminology would be YOU will be catching them. I will be here solely to watch and take over if things get dangerous.”
Sarah slid her palm against her face. “...Mr. Jacks, I can't do that. I have no experience. Or a Pokemon.”
Mr. Jacks smiled slyly. “Machop begs to differ.”
“You're giving me a Pokemon?!”
“Lending,” Mr. Jacks corrected.
Sarah didn't care. This was one hell of an opportunity. She wasn't even an initiate yet, and she was going to get real-time battle experience. She grinned triumphantly, clenching her hands into excited fists.
“Let's do this, then.”
Of course, they didn't actually have any success for about three days. Each day they slathered honey onto the trunk of a tree, waiting beneath the hill, watching carefully for a Pokemon to come.
On the third day, just ten minutes before their usual time to leave, a small yellow thing with wings approached the tree. It was separated into three honeycomb-ish structures, each with their own set of eyes. The bottom one had a red marking above its eyes.
“It's a female Combee!” Mr. Jacks said.
Sarah pounced. A little too literally. She leaped to her feet from her spot at the hill's bottom, climbing up it at a faster speed than she thought she could manage. Finally. She thrust her hand into her pocket, pulling out the small spherical object called a Pokeball, her thumb against the silver switch in the middle, most of her other fingers wrapped around its red top and slightly touching the white bottom. She put pressure on her thumb, feeling the sphere expand into a bigger one, then pry her fingers apart. Not used to the pressure, she dropped the Pokeball, watching it hit the ground and bust open, a flash of white light coming out and materializing into a small, blue human-like Pokemon.
“Machop's moves are Low Kick, Karate Chop, Tickle and Strength!” Mr. Jacks said. Sarah nodded. She had no idea whatsoever what any of those moves did, but she liked the sound of “Strength”.
Machop, however, seemed to have different ideas. Without bothering to wait for some sort of command, it ran toward the opposing Pokemon, who had now become alert of the fact that she was being watched.
Her wings fluttered furiously, a gust of wind rushing forward and blowing Machop back a bit. But he pushed through, delivering a hammer-fist to Combee's head. She was sent plowing toward the ground but stopped herself at the last moment, using the opportunity of closeness to Machop to deliver a firm bite with all three of her mouths.
“That's a Bug Bite attack,” Mr. Jacks said. He seemed to be into this, watching the battle and making educational comments as if it were a massive criminal-on-police gunfight going on in front of his eyes.
Machop was now very, very angry. With a firm roar of rage, he cocked a arm backward, hand curled into a fist. He thrust the fist forward with the tension in his muscles as a spring, delivering a power-packed punch toward the enemy.
Combee crumpled to the ground.
“Now throw your other Pokeball!” Mr. Jacks said. His eyes were flashing with excitement, and it was contagious: Sarah felt her heart pumping fast in her throat, adrenaline rushing through her veins. She was on a thin, but powerful high. Reaching the pocket of her jeans, she pulled out an empty Pokeball, tossing it toward the unconscious Pokemon.
It conked Combee on the head (the top one, on the left), bouncing into the air and opening up. A flash of red light enveloped her, sucking her in to its depths. The ball shut then hit the ground, rolling around for a few moments before finally clicking shut.
Mr. Jacks looked at her with a wide smile. “Well, then: one down, two more to go.”
Sarah had never felt this excited in her life. She hadn't done anything but throw the ball, but even that made her feel on top of the world, like she was the epitome of awesome even though she knew she wasn't that impressive.
She was just... average.
Author's Note: So, then. Here we are. A one-shot of complete and total originality (minus the Pokemon aspect), something I've been working on off to the side for about three months now. And the thing is, now that I'm done, I kind of want to expand it... meh. This would be just after I've canceled two projects because they were too much on me. I love this writing thing too much for my own good! What do you guys think? Expand, or no expand?