The Slowpoke Challenge
The wind rustled the sides of the tent so hard that it might have just blown over if it weren’t for the young girl, who was cuddled up next to her Chikorita, weighing it down. It was nights like these that almost made her think twice about starting her Pokemon adventure. But then, she would look into the eyes of her faithful Pokemon and remember his eagerness to get out into the world with her as his trainer. It was only two short months ago when she passed the Trainer Exam and was headed over to Professor Elm’s Lab. As the wind continued to hammer the tent, she started to think back to that fateful day.
“Kara, slow down!” Kara’s mother shouted after her, who had run well ahead of her mother as they approached the Professor’s Lab.
“I have to be sure I get there on time!” The eager trainer huffed as she neared the door to the lab.
Kara smoothed down her light brown hair and straightened her cyan blouse. As her mother approached, she was pulling down her white skirt.
“You look fine, dear,” Kara’s mother said with a smile. She hugged her daughter tight then nudged her in the direction of the door. “Go on, now. You’ll do fine. I’ll be right here when you’re done.”
With a shaky hand, she grasped the doorknob and opened the door. The Inside of the Laboratory was like nothing Kara had ever imagined. The white tiled walls were lined with books and computers, and gadgets that she couldn’t even dream up a name for. The bookshelves climbed almost as high as the walls themselves all the way up to the ceiling, which easily could have been high enough to have been two floors. As she stood there admiring the Lab, an assistant of Professor Elm’s came up to her.
The assistant was short and looked to have been in her forties. Her short, dark brown hair reached just the edges of her perfectly pressed lab coat. The name tag, Velma, was placed precisely centered over the top, left pocket. She looked at the nervous trainer with her big, caring brown eyes and couldn’t help but notice she was trembling a little.
“How may I help you, miss?” she said in a soothing tone.
“I-I’m here to s-see P-p-professor Elm,” the trainer barely stuttered out.
“Right this way,” the assistant said as she walked towards the back of the Laboratory.
As Kara walked into the back, she noticed a table with three Pokeballs casually sitting on it. Professor Elm was standing next to the table with one hand resting next to the farthest Pokeball. The Professor looked rather young, perhaps in his thirties and was the polar opposite of the assistant that led her to him. His short, brown hair was a bit frazzled and she could see piles of paperwork strewn about on his desk behind him.
The pockets of his somewhat wrinkled lab coat were stuffed to the brim with slightly crumpled bits of paper. He didn’t seem to be a very organized man, but he looked very friendly.
“You must be Kara. It’s great to meet you,” the Professor said with a smile when he noticed how nervous she was. He held out his hand which Kara shook nervously.
“I would like to think congratulations are in order!” the Professor chuckled. “You are the youngest in your class to have passed the Trainer Exam! As a special treat, I’m letting you choose first which of these three Pokemon will be your partner,” he motioned to the table. “Do not be hasty in your decision though, my dear. For, the Pokemon you choose will be your partner for a very long time. The journey that I’m asking you to go on is certainly not an easy one. This is why only three people per year are chosen as trainers. I want you to take close consideration of how each one responds to you before making your decision.”
At this, Kara nodded and approached the Pokemon table. The first Pokeball she approached contained the Fire-type Pokemon, Cyndaquil.
“QUIL!!” it shouted as it exited the Pokeball and started running in circles around the new trainer. “Quil! Quil! Quil!” it kept shouting. Kara desperately tried to calm him down enough to look into his eyes, but he wouldn’t stop. She sighed and returned him to the Pokeball.
I don’t think he is the right choice, she thought.
The next Pokeball she picked up was the Water-type Pokemon, Totodile. As Totodile exited the Pokeball, it seemed to growl “Toto.” The Totodile had a scowl on her face as if she wanted to start a battle immediately. She didn’t look up at Kara once, just kept tossing her head from side to side, looking for another Pokemon.
Well she doesn’t seem like the right choice either, she thought with exasperation.
Kara was beginning to get discouraged, if the third Pokemon was anything like these two, she would be stuck with a Pokemon that she was sure she wouldn’t get along with very easily. She returned the Totodile to her Pokeball and gently placed it back on the table.
Please, oh please let this Pokemon be the one. She thought desperately as she opened the third and final Pokeball.
Chikorita, the Grass-type Pokemon emerged from the ball. He looked a little confused at first but then looked up into Kara’s eyes. It was as if an instant bond was formed between the two at that moment. Kara knelt down to eye-level with the Chikorita.
“Hello there, my name is Kara. If you’d like, we could be friends.” The Chikorita hesitated for a moment before nudging his head against Kara’s cheek.
“He seems to really like you,” the Professor said from behind them. “I think the two of you will make an excellent team.” She beamed at the thought of this and turned back to the Chikorita.
“Would you like to come along with me on my journey?” asked the trainer.
“Rita!” the Pokemon excitedly yelled.
“Great!” she replied and hugged the Chikorita. “The Professor is right; we will make an excellent team!” She smiled one last time at the Chikorita before returning him to the Pokeball; She and the Professor still had some matters to discuss. The trainer arose to finish talking with Professor Elm.
“Kara,” he began. “I will be giving you and the other two trainers who have passed this year a Pokedex. This device, will record information on Pokemon that you come across. It will only be able to gather a small amount of data on Pokemon that you see. Therefore, you will need to catch as many Pokemon as possible to try to gain the maximum amount of information. Hopefully, the combined efforts of you and the other trainers will be enough to fill up the entirety of the Pokedex.”
She stared down at the Pokedex that Professor just handed her; it was mostly red with some black detail in the outline of a Pokeball. There was a button situated where the normal button on a Pokeball would be. When she pressed the button, the top part of it flipped open to reveal a large screen encompassing both the base and the flip part of the device. It had three registered Pokemon in it so far. According to the Pokedex, Kara had seen two Pokemon, Totodile and Cyndaquil; and had caught one Pokemon, Chikorita. She closed the case on the device.
“Alright Kara, I think we’ve kept your mother waiting long enough! Get going on your amazing journey! Call me if you have any troubles, or if you want to just check in with your Pokedex information! Bye-bye now!”
The new trainer smiled, thanked the professor for everything, picked up her Chikorita and her Pokedex and went outside to tell her mother all about it.
The sound of a twig breaking outside snapped her out of her memories. She looked to her right and noticed that Chikorita had heard the sound as well. After a few seconds, they nodded in unison and leaned forward to look outside. There was nothing in sight. Kara stepped out of the tent and tried to look into the wind. However, it was too fierce to see any further than a couple of feet in front of her. She crawled back into the tent and shut the flaps tight.
“It’s ferocious out there, Chikorita. I can’t tell what made that sound. It might have just been the wind.” She and Chikorita laid back down and attempted to sleep. Every so often, the wind would whistle and wake them both up. Before long, it was morning. The wind had died down and Kara was packing up the campsite. They had been traveling for days, and today they would finally make it into Azalea Town.
Azalea town was a relatively small and isolated town located in southern Johto. Aside from the two entrances, Route 33 and Ilex forest, the town was completely surrounded by woods. From the moment they neared the town, they noticed an abundance of Slowpoke everywhere. A murmur of “Slooooow” could be heard all around. Soon after walking into town, she realized why there were so many Slowpoke, off to her right was a cave entrance to ‘Slowpoke Well’ where there were so many Slowpoke that Kara couldn’t even begin to count them all. The constant “Sloooooow” was much louder here. She and Chikorita carefully stepped past the Slowpokes to get further into town.
Soon, a giant, blue building emerged with a huge rotating sign next to it. It was the Pokemart, at last. She and her Pokemon were very low on supplies. She walked in and was greeted by a very friendly cashier, as was usual.
“How may I help you today?” he inquired.
“Hello, my team and I are running dangerously low on supplies. We’re going to have a big order,” she warned. “Ready?”
“Sure, are,” he replied.
“Okay,” Kara started. “We need five Super Potions; two Antidotes; one Awakening; three Burn Heals; one Ice Heal; one Escape Rope; ten Repels; two Heal Balls; and ten Pokeballs.”
“Alright,” the cashier inhaled. “So that’s five Super Potions; two Antidotes; one Awakening; three Burn Heals; one Ice Heal; one Escape Rope; ten Repels; two Heal Balls; and ten Pokeballs. Correct?”
“Yes, that’s correct,” she replied.
“Alright, and as an added bonus for purchasing ten Pokeballs: you’ll receive a Premier Ball!” he exclaimed.
“Oh thank you very much,” Kara smiled.
“Is there anything else I can help you with?” he asked.
“Well actually,” she began. “I was wondering if you could tell me why Slowpoke are so popular around here.
“I’m not sure really,” the cashier replied “All I know is that Slowpoke have been around here for as long as I can remember. It gets a little bothersome sometimes, but on the plus side, I hardly even notice the murmurs after having dealt with it for so long.”
“Oh, okay. Well, thank you sir. Have a great day!” Kara said over her shoulder.
“You, too!” The cashier called out to her.
Kara left the Pokemart and headed over to the Pokecenter.
“Chikorita,” she started. “I’m going to need you to hop back into your ball for a bit so you can heal up.” The Pokemon cooed and went back into the ball without a problem.
The giant sliding door moved to let her in. The Pokeball emblem on the floor before her always made her smile a bit. She loved to stand directly in the middle of it and face the door; it was her own personal form of motivation to go resume her journey. She suddenly became aware that she was still smiling and stopped before someone else noticed. But then, she realized that the entirety of the PokeCenter was empty. The only person, besides herself, was the bored looking nurse at the counter. Her back was turned towards the door while she absent-mindedly twirled her lilac covered hair.
“Excuse me?” asked Kara as she approached the counter.
“Hm? Oh! Yes! My name is Marell. How can I help you?” The nurse excitedly questioned. She was obviously eager to have some interaction.
“Hello, could you please heal my Pokemon?” the trainer questioned. “They’re pretty exhausted after our hike through Route 33.”
“Sure thing, just hand over your Pokemon for a minute,” the Pokenurse responded.
Kara handed over the Pokeballs and soon her team was fully healed.
“Thank you very much,” she stated.
“No problem, come again and if you need anything else, at all, let me know,” the nurse eagerly responded.
“Well, actually, I was wondering if you could tell me where everyone is?” Kara questioned.
“Oh they’re all off getting ready for the annual Slowpoke challenge,” Marell started. “It always gets like this in here around this time.”
“Slowpoke challenge, what’s that?” inquired the now curious trainer.
“It’s where a bunch of trainers come here to race to be the first to catch a Slowpoke,” the nurse explained. “The winner gets ten custom Pokeballs made by Kurt.”
“Oh, that sounds pretty fun. I might check it out. Well, I have to get going. Thanks again!” Kara responded.
“Anytime! That’s what I’m here for,” Marell smiled at the trainer.
The nurse handed back the girl’s Pokemon and Kara left the PokeCenter. Outside, she noticed a sign, which she hadn’t seen before, posted on the Pokemon Gym that read “Closed due to Slowpoke Challenge” She let Chikorita back out of his ball, “Well, what do you say we head over to the Slowpoke Challenge, since just about the whole town is shut down for it anyway.” Chikorita replied “Rita!” with a nod of the head and they walked over to Slowpoke Well.
They stepped inside the rather small entranceway of the cave to find a ladder leading downwards. At the base of the ladder were nearly twenty people crowding to see further. Just past them, there was a sort of platform where ten, eager-looking trainers anxiously waited for the challenge to begin. Kurt stood in front of the ten trainers, holding a stopwatch. His shoulder-length gray hair was swept back. He was wearing what looked like a Karate suit, but it was blue with a white belt. His thumb was hovering above the start button on the stop watch.
“Is it too late to join?” Kara called out over the crowd.
“Why of course not!” Kurt happily responded. “Are you all ready to go?”
“Sure am” the trainer replied.
The new challenger and her Chikorita joined the rest of the trainers on the platform.
“Alright then, on your marks.” he started then bellowed out, “3! 2! 1! GO!”
The spectators cheered wildly and the, now, eleven trainers bolted off in all directions to catch their Slowpoke. Suddenly, wild battles could be heard taking place all over the cave. Most of the battles were with other wild Pokemon, such as Zubat. But, a couple of them involved the first Slowpokes. Kara was among the lucky to have found a Slowpoke in her first battle.
“Alright Chikorita! Let’s hit it with a Razor Leaf!” Kara addressed her Pokemon.
The wild Slowpoke and the trainer’s Pokemon leapt into battle. The wild Slowpoke used tackle against Chikorita who seemed to be barely fazed by the move.
“Once more!” the trainer instructed her Pokemon. “Hit it with another Razor Leaf and we should be able to catch it!”
Chikorita whipped it’s Razor Leaf at the foe and the wild Slowpoke fainted.
“Oh no!” Kara exclaimed. “I forgot that Slowpoke is weak to grass-type!”
Just then, the trainer over heard some yelling near the platform. A young boy was running back, wildly waving a Pokeball in the air.
“I – got – him. I – caught – the – Slowpoke!” he stammers out between pants.
The crowd went wild; everyone started cheering and congratulating the young boy. Kurt held the boy’s hand up in the air and proclaims “And we have a winner! Youngster Joey all the way from CherryGrove City!”
Kara decided to just get the poor, fainted Pokemon healed and not try to catch one right then. She headed back over to the platform where Kurt and the young boy were standing. The remaining nine trainers, after another couple of battles or so each, came back with their newly caught Slowpokes to discover that they were too late. They looked both discouraged at having lost, but happy to have a new member to add to their team. Immediately following the challenge, the ten trainers made their way to the PokeCenter to heal their both their teams and the wild Pokemon that were fainted in other battles.
Marell almost jumped at the sight of the now fully-packed PokeCenter and she certainly had her hands full. Hours had passed before Marell was done treating all of the Pokemon.
“Phew!” the exhausted nurse sighed. “This is a huge change compared to earlier!”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Kara chuckled as she passed the Slowpoke over to the Pokenurse. “This little guy was one I fainted in a battle, but he isn’t mine. Could you release him after he’s all patched up?” She held out the Slowpoke for the nurse.
“Sure thing,” she replied as she gently took the Slowpoke from the girl.
“Thank you,” the trainer said with a smile.
Outside, everyone was getting ready for the Slowpoke Challenge festival. A couple of young men were hanging banners all over town while a crew of young boys was given the honor of blowing up tons of Slowpoke-colored balloons. One of the boys was affixing three balloons to the end of a picnic table in a long line of picnic tables. Kurt had just finished setting down the sixth table when ladies from all over started pouring out with food.
It took approximately eight trips for the ladies to bring out all of the food. There were casseroles, steaks, salads, vegetables, and fruits. Kara suddenly became aware of how hungry she was; when she saw the desserts, she could barely stand it. There were pies, tarts, cakes, jams, turnovers, puddings, and other such delicacies. Chikorita licked his lips as they noticed the last table was piled high with a whole variety of Pokemon foods.
“It sure looks delicious, huh Chikorita?” asked the trainer of her Pokemon.
“Rita!” he happily responded.
Before long, everyone was gathered around the tables and they ate to their heart’s content. Even the Pokemon had stuffed themselves. After everyone’s stomachs stopped aching from being so full, dancing began. Kurt played drums in a small band while the whole of the town was engaged in dancing. Even Marell found herself with enough energy to dance well into the night with everyone else.