Two days had passed since Zanas, Prince and Duke marched from the safety of the boy's empty home. It took to pass most of what Pallet town had to offer. A handful of houses were still locked up and quiet so early in the morning, a few shops that sold dolls and homemade trinkets still closed before working hours and of course the lab which may have had its lights on, but if anyone was still inside they were fast asleep.
Zanas didn't stop for even the briefest moment at any of these places. He didn't need to sit down and reminisce about days past. His life in Pallet was like an episode on TV that had been a rerun since the pilot, and he was sick of it. Always the same jokes and people with the same daily grind. It wasn't a bad life per se; it just got dull far too quickly. Add in a rather tough childhood of bullies and bruises up till high school, and there wasn't much to reflect positively on.
Zanas didn't have second thoughts, not this late in. When he stepped into the tall grass, he took off running, holding Prince on his shoulder and Duke in his new napping spot, the indent on the top of his fedora. Before long, Duke and Prince were fighting Rattata left and right, along with the occasional Pidgey, and had grown quickly in level.
Both Duke and Prince were at level 8, the newborn having already learned ember, and the royal rat, gaining immensely in speed, learned quick attack. They reveled in their progress for some time the night before but now both Pokémon were asleep in their respective red and white holders, earning a well-deserved rest. In the meantime, Zanas toyed with the PokeDex, finding it had more than an ever growing encyclopedia for Pokémon, but also a small wealth of information about the creatures' aging process while with a trainer, as well as the league.
"The aging process for Pokémon within captivity can differ greatly from a Pokémon in the wild." The device said with a gender-ambiguous voice. "Pokémon kept as pets can live longer due to being kept from predators or changing weather conditions, but a Pokémon used for battle is quite different. What can be considered a newborn Pokémon can grow into adolescents within a few months to a year depending on how strenuous the living conditions are. Thus the leveling system was theorized as a method to track the growth of a trainer's Pokémon."
The tablet went on to say that the leveling system is not a perfect method as some Pokémon train and live in harsher conditions than others in both the wild and in captivity. "The leveling system is best referred to for trainers that travel regularly and/or are taking the Pokémon League Challenge." The device went on about the rules of the league, but Zanas new these by heart and closed the spring open door to shut the lesson off. The Elite four, the best trainers in the league, can only be challenged by a trainer who has obtained eight badges within the four year time limit. Thankfully, I have all four years.
Other League rules consisted of the limit of Pokémon a trainer can catch in each area, that being only one per route or cave. This way, humans wouldn't disrupt the Pokémon habitats too harshly and the future generations would still have Pokémon to see and catch. Other than that, the League rules coincided with the state laws, so there wasn't much else to know about the League other than its long history, but Zanas didn't feel like listening to an historical documentary on the PokeDex at the moment.
He looked about the Pokémon Center, finally lifting his head from the Pokedex, seeing the mass of people and Pokémon crowded in different groups. The trainers, both young and old, were chatting or arguing about whose Pokémon is the best or which up-and-coming League rival was worth the title of Champion. Meanwhile their Pokémon were off eating, sleeping or fighting like there trainers, but with more growling and biting.
From the outside ,the Pokémon Center was a large white building topped with a red roof. The buildings escalated high off the ground, needing as many rooms for trainers and Pokémon to rest from their travels, or from surgery. Zanas had been sitting in the lobby for most of the day, only sleeping at night in the upper floors. Most people in Pallet town had poked fun at the "prison rooms," but they weren't so bad. Warm blankets, decent bunk beds, and a separate shower room and sink were all a traveling trainer really needed.
The nurses, both male and female, were always kind and patient with their human and Pokémon patients, not to mention some of the women nurses were very attractive. Unless you try to get out of bed before they say you're ready. Then they'll body check you before they let you leave. For the most part, Zanas never saw more than a few of the nurses leave the back rooms where the operations and health checkups were done. In fact, for as many nurses as there were, he'd never even seen a doctor. Come to think of it, he had never heard of a Pokémon doctor ever. Were they all just nurses?
No matter the title, the Centers were a place of recovery and relaxation and the people who ran them made things all the better. Though as helpful as the Center was, like the League, it had its own set of rules. Zanas could only stay for three more days before he would have to move on to the next town and until now, he hadn't caught a single Pokémon. When he walked to the front desk and asked how long his initial starters were going to take, a male nurse told him, "It might be another hour or so. These two were worked to death."
At the comment, Zanas frantically tried to defend his Pokémon's exhaustion, but the man waved a hand as he laughed. "It's just a joke. Don't take it so seriously."
"Sorry." Zanas said, smiling, as he adjusted his fedora downward from habit. "I just don't wanna have those two taken away because of bad Trainer conduct or something."
The male nurse smiled, leaning back in his chair as he fiddled with a pencil. "Unless you walked in here and started kicking your Charmander or beating a Pidgey in the beak, you won't have to worry about losing your Pokémon." The relief on Zanas's face was obvious, and the nurse smiled. "Besides, if you really were treating them poorly, they could just as easily set you on fire or maul your face off."
"Dude." Zanas groaned as he grabed his face, cringing at the thought.
"Good to have a new trainer who has a sense of humor. Pallet town right?"
The question caught Zanas off guard for a moment. "Yeah, how'd you guess?"
"We've been getting a lot of new trainers walking in here lately and since Pallet town is so close by, I just assumed."
So the others got started ahead of me after all? It was probably for the best. Zanas would rather get run down by a Rhydon than have an awkward encounter with anyone from home.
With home on his mind, Zanas quickly thought of one person in particular. "Any chance you saw a brown spiky-haired kid come in here?"
The man thought for a moment, leaning back in his chair as he tried to recall. "Purple shirt, weird yin-yang necklace?"
"Nope haven't seen him."
"You're an ass."
The nurse cracked up at this remark but recovered quickly, seeing that Zanas was looking to get a serious answer. "He came in a few hours ago, while you were out training with your Pokémon, no doubt. Like you, he sort of stuck out from the crowd with that goofy getup of his. Does anyone in Pallet town grasp the concept of style?"
Zanas quickly looked over his cloths; worn out sneakers partially hidden under a pair of loos fitting blue jeans, a green leather jacket and black shirt, and cocked his head to the nurse. "What's wrong with my clothes?"
The male nurse smiled mischievously as he looked over Zanas' clothes, or at least that's what he hoped the guy was looking at. "Nothing much, just they look worn out. You've barely stepped out in the real world yet you look like you just crawled out of a cave."
Zanas shrugged at the man's remark. "They fit me and keep me warm and from breaking any indecency laws, so I don't care all that much if they look good. They suit my needs."
"That sounds like an excuse."
"Well it's not." Zanas snapped back at the nurse. Surprise flashed over the man's face at the sudden bite in Zanas's words. Zanas pressed his fingers against the bridge of his nose and sighed. "Sorry."
The nurse raised his hands in surrender, his smile returning. "No it's fine. I was pushing into your business. Not the first time my curiosity got me in trouble."
"How so?" Zanas asked, thankful to switch the conversation to someone else, but the nurse merely shook his head and told the trainer it was "a story for another day."
Zanas kept himself from asking anything further out of respect for the man doing the same, instead deciding to head outside and get some fresh air. Before leaving, he turned back to the Nurse, wanting to tell him the real reason why he had snapped, but the man had already been dragged away by a Chansey, who seemed very upset at him for some reason.
Zanas walked throughout Viridian, looking in shop windows as he passed them. Brand name gear for the up-and-coming trainer, multiple restaurants serving everything from Orange Island pasta, that Zanas had maybe eaten once, to some hors d'ouevres that he wouldn't even attempt to pronounce. When Zanas took a look at the prices of said food or clothing, the boy's stomach churned. How can you ask me to pay over one hundred bucks for a hat or jacket.
The hat in questions was, for once, not a fedora, but a red billed and white topped baseball cap with a green arrow like insignia on the front. The little label next to the hat said 'one of multiple designs' and had two small pictures of the same hates in different colors, one with a red bill and back and only a white front with the arrow and another completely black and purple. Some of the jackets were of similar design. Others branched out into different brand names, colors and logos.
All looked appealing, but none were within the trainer's price range. Zanas breathed out sullenly. "My cloths suit me. Why would I want to spend money I don't have on anything more?"
He moved on, looking at whatever else the city had in store for him. Seeing many families crowd the shops, while most people his age and older stayed near the PokéMart or open fields. Viridian was definitely a tourist trap for any resting trainer or traveling couple, but in the end there wasn't much to stay for. The city was no different from Pallet town, other than the few attractions to keep children busy. There was an old Gym building out in the farther end of the town, but it had been closed for years. No legal fights, no shows of extravaganza. Just public displays of contempt.
"You wanna say that again!"
"Are you deaf and dumb, you ugly wast of space?!"
Two trainers, looking in their thirties, were arguing outside the PokéMart loud enough for everyone to hear. It was hard to understand what they was so angry about as their words mixed together with shouts. All anyone could make out of their arguing was that the bearded, homeless looking one had dropped his liquor and the clean-cut but overweight man was to blame. Zanas, like the rest of the now gathered crowd, kept at a distance as the two men threw crude slander at one another, then their Pokémon.
The larger man's Sandshrew was the first to catch Zanas's eye. Its cracked desert yellow skin made the creature look foreign to any grassland area, and it's long curved claws showed that it could either climb or dig with great speed. The other Pokémon was a Mankey, a white furred primate Pokémon with a glare as sharp as knives, and a pig nose just under its peepers. Zanas suppressed a laugh at the creature's looks, wondering where the thing's mouth was under all that fur. It looks like a pig with thumbs
The two trainers coached their Pokémon into what moves to use and how to use each. Even while drunk, the men clearly had a strategy in mind. The Sandshrew moved first with a sand-attack and then quickly dug underground after the Mankey missed with a low kick. Seeing there was no way to avoid the oncoming attack, the hobo ordered his Mankey to take guard and jump at the very last second. The primate did as was ordered and crossed its arms over its body, squatting down to jump when ready. Before long, the Sandshrew burst from the ground sending chunks of dry and wet dirt in every direction, slashing upward at the Mankey.
The defending Pokémon took the blow in stride, jumping upward with the Sandshrew rather than letting the digger's force launch it in the air. Now both Pokémon were in mid air, the fat man's Sandshrew having to follow the other man's Pokémon to land its hit. "Now Rogan, grab it and throw as hard as you can!"
Zanas blinked for a second, and suddenly the Sandshrew was being swung around in circles by the Mankey, who had grabbed tightly onto its tail. The crowd marveled and cheered as the white furred bruiser sent the desert mole through the air straight into the ground. The Sandshrew hit with a hard thud, head first as it punctured a head sized hole into the ground, just left of the previously dug hole. "That was a seismic toss!" Someone in the crowd cheered. That was so fast, I almost missed the impact. Zanas looked back and forth between the Mankey, now landing with a roll, and the Sandshrew, yelling at the ground type Pokémon to get back up. The mole did manage to pull its head out of the indent in the ground, but quickly fell backward, passing out from such a surprisingly powerful throw.
The crowd was cheering for more, calling out to keep the battle going, but in the confusion the larger man admitted he had only the one creature on him. "That's alright." The homeless man said, as he crossed his fist against the other's jaw. "I'll keep this going myself!" The two men started to fight one another, throwing punches left and right. Some people cheered for a bigger brawl while others realized that this had devolved into something more than just the usual trainer battle and tried to pull the two off of each other.
Eventually the two were pulled away from each other, the police thankfully not having to intervene. The crowd dispersed, having seen enough. Many of them had gone to start their own Pokémon battles, but not anything too rowdy for either human or the creatures. After the fight had been broken up, Zanas walked around town once more, this time at a faster pace. His hands were shaking, and every little sound made him jump and twitch. He eyed the other fights, but found he couldn't sit still long enough to watch them.
They were tame, normal sportsman like brawls between the trainers and their Pokémon. Nothing else blew out of proportion like at the market. So why did he feel so antsy? For whatever the reason, his hands stopped quaking by the time he returned to the center, less than twenty minutes after the fight. Both Duke and Prince were sitting casually on the waiting room chairs, accompanied by the nurse from before.
"Zanas!" Duke happily cried out as he ran and hugged the boy's leg. Zanas bent down and set the dragon in the indent of his hat, running his hand over the creature's head and down its back.
"How you feeling?" Zanas asked both Pokémon, sitting down to pet Prince behind his ears. Neither Pokémon spoke up while being pet, but the minute Zanas removed his hands, both went frantic relaying how enjoyable their stay was.
Duke gushed over the delicious food he had munched on for the past hour, while the "Nice rainbow haired ladies pet me as I napped." Prince however, went into descriptive detail over how he tried to woo the female Pokémon into curling up with him, never saying the outcome of said wooing, though Duke filled in the details of the physical abuse the rodent suffered.
Zanas gave Prince a look as if to ask, "Seriously?"
Prince shrugged and rolled his eyes. "These girls just can't handle me. They're all too shy or…agitated."
Zanas smiled and pet both of his Pokémon, only now looking up to the male nurse who had been keeping watch. "Thanks for keeping these two from running amuck."
The nurse waved his hand at Zanas, a motion that he must do to everyone, and said it was nothing. "The Rattata was the only one who really gave me trouble, but he came out with more than enough bruises and bites, so there's no need for any more grief." Zanas smiled at Prince, who looked away, standing proper, taking offense to what was said. "So did you see anything interesting in our fair city?"
Zanas told the nurse about the drunken brawl, leaving out the details of the fight between the Mankey and Sandslash, and for once the nurse frowned.
"Things like that happen here sometimes, but it's still an annoyance to have to patch up both the Pokémon and their trainers over some stupid squabbles."
"Now natural disasters or death, that's a whole different story."
"Exactly!" The nurse broke out laughing, slapping his knee again. Suddenly two Chanseys and three very angry looking nurses appeared behind the male nurse, having heard the man's loud bellowing. The nurse didn't even turn around and when Zanas tried to inform him of what was behind him, he merely waved him off once more. "I know, I know." He said, getting to his feet.
"All work and no play, that's my life." He stood up, shaking Zanas's hand, without giving the boy any time to respond or shake freely, and said, "It was fun while it lasted I suppose." He walked off as the nurses began yelling one thing after another behind him; the only words that Zanas or his Pokémon could understand were Mr. Joy. They sat silently, Zanas and Prince both bewildered by what had just happened. Duke however waved the man goodbye, smiling brightly, oblivious to everything.
Prince, breaking from his confusion, crawled up Zanas' shoulder, lightly pawing the side of his face to get the trainer's attention. "So who won?"
"The Mankey used a seismic toss and knocked the Sandshrew out."
Prince smiled widely behind his large teeth. "Now that sounds like a Pokémon to have on our team."
Zanas looked at Prince blankly for a brief moment then smiled, looking off to the side as he pictured the idea of having a Mankey of his own. "That actually wouldn't be a half bad idea."
At the mere mention of a new Pokémon, Duke leaned forward, over the tip of Zanas' fedora, smiling innocently. "A new friend?"
Duke cheered and hunkered back down into the fedora, wiggling in the indent with anticipation. Zanas pulled out his PokeDex, hoping to find something that would tell him where to look for the pig face thumb user.