Hello, URPG people. This story was a capture attempt for Cubone. I have envisioned this as the first chapter in a series of stories told in a way that loosely follows the story of Pokemon Heartgold and Soulsilver, with many changes on my part, of course. Anyway, enough with the preamble- here is my story!
Mementos, Memories and Mysteries
Chapter 1: New Dawn
Ah, good day, and welcome to the Out of the Way Inn. The rain outside was a little too hard for you? Ha ha ha... that's alright, we get that kind of thing all the time. Oh c'mon, don't act so nervous- I'm not as scary as I look. Here, have a seat by the fire and make yourself at home. I've got some hot cocoa on the stove which you're more than welcome to.
By the way, what brings you out here? Oh, okay. Well, might as well get comfy, because the rain isn't going away any time soon. Here's a key, you can have the fourth room on the second floor. Oh, don't worry- I get travelers like you all the time. My motto has always been, "Don't make people pay for bad weather," and I intend to keep it that way. By the way, was that your bike outside? Well, it's in the creek now, you won't be getting it back out. Don't panic, I'll send you along to the nearest town when the rain settles down. Estevez just doesn't like the rain. Oh, Estevez? He's my Quilava.
Oh there you go, you've made me feel nostalgic. Y'know what, while you're here, how would you like to hear a story? After all, it's going to be at least a week until this rain clears up. Don't act so shocked, I've seen this rain before, and it's not going anywhere fast; some hotshot Trainer's probably trying to train his Ludicolo and forgot how to dispel Rain Dance or something. Yeesh, kids! Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, now I remember: I was going to tell you a story!
I've owned this hotel for about twenty years now, and I've seen all kinds of people come through. One night about three years ago, a storm even worse than this one blew up. It was crazy; half my windows blew out, and it almost seemed like the whole building was gonna collapse! If it weren't for Estevez and Garcia- my Abomasnow- I honestly doubt I would have survived the storm! Anyway, after a few days, the storm settled down and it looked like it was finally coming to an end, but during the night, it blew up something fierce, and with it came Mr. John Memento Smith.
John Smith- great name- was getting on in the years; he was at least 60, probably older. Anyway, he and his Charizard were unlucky enough to get caught in the storm, and they came knocking at my hotel. I took them in, gave them a room, and they stayed with me for a month. Yeah, just his luck, the storm came back full blast that very night, and just wouldn't go away! Anyway, to pass the boredom on those long nights, John would tell me stories from his youth, and oh boy, what stories they were! I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind me sharing them with you here.
It was a bright day in New Bark Town, and not just on account of the warm spring weather. That is not to say that the weather was inconsequential, of course- the trees were a radiant green, the birds whistled a symphony of joyous springtime, and even the clouds seemed to smile. To augment this joyous feeling, the streets of New Bark were filled with the joyous citizens of the Johto region. Today was the fifth day of that month, and that meant it was time for the New Trainer Festival. On that day, aspiring young boys and girls from across Johto would gather in New Bark Town to receive their Pokemon Training license and equipment from the esteemed Professor Elm. All of Johto was watching, be it over television or in person, excitedly awaiting the first glimpse at the new batch of Trainers. Indeed, it was a happy time for all... save one family.
In a small bungalow on the poor side of New Bark Town lived the Smith family. Peter and Sarah Smith, along with their beloved son Jonathon, were not exactly poor, but they were indeed not rich by any means. On that happy fifth day of the spring month, Peter and Sarah were draped across their couch, their eyes full of melancholy as they watched the flickering lights on their cracked television, trying to be happy when they knew they could not.
After a spell, Peter spoke, his voice hardly a whisper. "Sarah."
Peter's wife responded with another whisper. "Yes?"
The response was almost inaudible. "We failed."
The words seemed to weigh on the poor man, making his prematurely grey hair droop, his mouth twist into a grimace of despair. Desperately, Sarah tried to alleviate her husband's gloom. "No, we didn't fail."
Peter responded, "Yes, we did, Sarah. If we had kept our jobs, maybe John could be out there right now, watched by all of Johto as he becomes famous, not out on the farm working away to pay our taxes."
"Peter, you know it isn't your fault. No one could have foreseen that accident-"
"I don't care!" Peter violently stood up, but then collapsed again- his left leg, cut off at the knee, could not support his sorrow-filled body. "If only I had moved faster... if only I hadn't been at work that day... if only..."
Sarah moved to support Peter with her arm. "Please, don't cry. Accidents happen. We have my job. John has is job. We will get by in some way."
"But our boy deserves so much more..."
"Yes, he does. But life is unfair, and eventually we all suffer."
Quietly, husband and wife lay there on the couch, wrapped in each other's arms in the cold embrace of heartfelt sadness. On the wall billowed a newspaper article, almost as if it was dancing a forlorn dance- "Massive accident at the mill; four dead, eleven maimed."
Far away from the house worked John Smith, a slender boy of thirteen years. His hands were calloused from many years of hard work, his teeth showed the yellow sheen of apathetic care, but his face still held something of a boyish exuberance as he tended the long rows of corn that stretched farther than the eye can see. Despite his slender build, John had something of a stringy musculature about him, and he was very tan. As he toiled away, John sang a song:
"I looked over Johto and what did I see / Coming for to carry me home? A band of Latias coming after me / Coming for to carry me home. Swing low, sweet chariot..."
John worked alongside a group of three other boys. As John worked and sang, his melodiously high voice mixed with the voices of his friends in an ethereal melody of hard work, exhaustion and peace.
"...Coming for to carry me home. Swing low, sweet chariot / Coming for to carry me home."
As the boys finished their song, a chariot pulled by two Rapidash came up alongside the boys. The cart's driver, Mr. Ramgee, had always had a liking for irony.
Mr. Ramgee, the farm's owner, yelled out, "Good afternoon, boys!"
Exuberantly, the boys returned the favour. "Good afternoon, Mr. Ramgee!"
Chuckling, Mr. Ramgee announced, "All right, you boys've done good for today. Come back with me to the house, I've got some lunch and pay for you."
Four tired boys packed themselves in the back of the chariot. Mr. Ramgee was not an old man, but he sure was getting there; his hairline was receding, his skin was peeling and his arms no longer could bear the great weights he once used to heft regularly. However, he still had a young man's enthusiasm and a happy disposition, so all the boys loved working for him. Mr. Ramgee had lost his wife to the flu a couple years ago, so he appreciated the company of his helpers more than the work they did. After a short chariot ride where many less-than-polite jokes were shared, Mr. Ramgee and the boys arrived at the Ramgee house.
"Okay, boys, we're here. Watch your step. I've got some nice grilled cheese for you, plus your fifth-of-the-month bonuses."
Haphazardly, the boys filed into the house. Mr. Ramgee's house really was a farm house; it was massive, spanning three floors, more than twenty rooms and (most importantly) four bathrooms. Mr. Ramgee sometimes had boarders, but at that moment his house was empty save for himself. The dining room was right next to the door, so the boys quickly filed in, sat down, and started eating. As they ate, Mr. Ramgee passed an envelope to each boy with their pay- enough money to keep their families going until the next pay day, plus a little extra. Eventually, lunch was over and the boys left.
As they were going, John approached his best friend Henry. "Hey, Henry. How's your ma?"
Henry turned his blonde mop of a head at John's inquiry. "Oh, much better! Her flu has gone, so we can all breathe a bit easier now."
"Yeah, I get what you mean. So, how's James?"
James was Henry's older brother, and a Pokemon Trainer. At the mention of his name, Henry sighed disgustedly. "John, why'd you have to bring him up? You know I can't stand him!"
Trying to diffuse his friend's anger, John replied, "C'mon Henry, he's your brother..."
Henry would not be calmed. "Not anymore! You know what's up! You know he left, stole our money and went to be a Trainer, and now he doesn't even call! Not even on his birthday! The pig."
Genuinely curious, John persisted in his questioning. "Yeah, but seriously, how's he doing?"
After some silence, Henry finally answered. "... He's gotten to Goldenrod, but Whitney's giving him trouble."
The two friends walked in silence for a ways until Henry had to turn off for his house. Now it was just John, walking down a dusty road back to his home, alone with his thoughts.
John Memento Smith- the middle name was his Dad's idea- was a boy who was always full of thoughts. Ever since his day of birth, John had been fascinated by Pokemon. When he was very young, John's parents had bought him a stuffed Totodile to play with. That toy had become inseperable from John until he had turned nine and officially "too old for toys." For a while, John's parents had paid for John to attend Trainer School, but when he was eleven, John's dad had lost his leg and his job. The trauma from this experience, both physical and emotional, left Mr. Smith helpless and weak, so Sarah had had no choice but to leave her job as a secretary for a local public school to care for husband. Compensation for the accident was not nearly enough to make up for their lost incomes, and eventually Sarah and Peter had had no choice but to discontinue John's education in order to pay for life necessities. John had left Trainer School halfway through his last year, which meant that he never received Trainer certification. Without that certificate, John could not be a Pokemon Trainer no matter how much he loved Pokemon. John had no resentment for his parents- he had always been a logical boy, and John knew that sometimes life doesn't go the way you want. No amount of conscience and acceptance, though, can ever fully cover the wounds of a disappointed heart.
Lost in his thoughts, John almost didn't notice the yelps coming from the side of the road. Shaking himself out of his reverie, John picked out the distinct cries of a Cubone coming from the side of the road. Running over, John found he was right; there was a Cubone, seemingly crying for help. Concerned for the poor little Pokemon, John reached out- terrified, the Cubone whacked John's hand away. A little bruised but still concerned, John reached out again- now, the Cubone realized John's good intentions, and allowed him to pick the little Pokemon up. Upon closer examination, John realized that the Cubone (who was a boy) had a big chunk taken out of the back of his bone mask.
John quietly whispered, "Who has done this to you?"
The Cubone answered back, "A bad man in a black skin-tight suit."
And here was the true irony of John's situation. John Smith, a boy who could never be a Trainer, was in fact possibly the most qualified youngster in Johto, because he had the special ability to talk to Pokemon. John was not secretive about his ability, and in fact most of New Bark knew him as the boy who could speak to Pokemon. No one knew how, why, or even when John got the ability- not even John himself was privy to that information- but regardless, John was somehow able to speak and understand the Pokemon language, and in cases like this, an ability such as his could be very helpful.
Focusing on the task at hand, John inquired, "So, little Cubone, which way did that bad man run?"
The Cubone replied, "I don't know, but I can follow his scent."
John smiled. "Perfect. Lead me to him."
It was bright out, almost 2 in the afternoon, so it must have been quite the sight to some people, a young boy in farmer's attire running seemingly randomly through the streets, carrying a Cubone in his arms. After quite some running, the Cubone hopped out and called to John, "This is it. This is where the scent leads to."
The Cubone had taken John to an abandoned warehouse. The building was already showing the fading and degradation that is so typical of old, unused buildings. In front of John was a steel door, presumably the staff entrance from back when the building had staff.
Following the Cubone's gestures, John quietly opened the door, whispering to Cubone. "Okay, so what's the plan?"
The Cubone explained, "Well, that man took a piece of my skull mask for some reason. If I don't get it back, my mask could fall off, and Cubones die when their faces are exposed to sunlight, so that's a problem. If I can get the piece back, I can repair my mask, and all will be well."
Confidently, John proclaimed, "All right, let's go get that piece."
Entering the warehouse. John found himself in the middle of a dimly-lit storage area. Quietly inching forward, John eventually could make out two figures- one, a man dressed in a black skin-tight suit, and another garbed in an outrageously long burgundy cape. It seemed the man in the cape was yelling at the other man for some reason.
"You idiot! What the hell is this? Don't you realize that we already have six samples of Cubone bone? What the hell do you think this is for?"
The black-man replied meekly, "I'm sorry sir, I didn't realize..."
"Didn't realize what? That you were an idiot? I ought to decommission you now!" Obviously, the crimson man was angry over something important.
Desperately, the black-clad man begged, "No no, please! Anything but that!"
"Why? Why should I let you continue being part of our powerful organization? So you can do more of this?"
The caped man then threw something into the storage area. Looking up, John suddenly realized that it was a chunk of bone. Jumping up, John managed to catch it, however in landing, John accidentally knocked over a large container of metal railings. Quickly, both figures turned and stared right at John.
The man in the cape spoke. "Well well well, what do we have here? Intruders, I presume?"
Desperately, John tried to defend himself. "No, we aren't intruding! This Cubone was missing a piece of his mask, and I was looking for the missing piece!"
Exasperated, the caped man sighed. "Great... You stupid idiot!" Turning to the black-clad man, the caped man started berating him again. "How is it that you are so thick? Look at what you did! Not only did you fail to get anything useful, you led a kid here! Now I have to clean up your messes myself."
Bringing out a Poke Ball, the caped man opened it to reveal a Tyranitar. The massive Pokemon's eyes glinted with a bestial fury John had never seen before. Raising his hand, the caped man spoke to John. "Sorry kid, nothing personal, but no one must know we are here. Tyranitar, finish him!"
With a roar that seemed to resonate in John's very bones, the Tyranitar lunged forward, its claws spread out in a terrifying array of mutilation and destruction. Scared out of his wits, John immediately bolted for the door. As the Tyranitar charged, John blindly ran, until he tripped over a wire on the floor. Landing on his back, John looked up to see the Tyranitar looming over him, raising his right claw to deliver a finishing blow...
...and that is when craziness began to ensue. From the door that John had been trying to reach came a massive explosion, and from the dust it stirred up walked a man dressed in a white lab coat. By his side stood a Feraligatr. With a quick gesture, the man directed the Feraligatr to deliver a punishing Hydro Pump to the caped man's Tyranitar. Surprised and hit hard, the Tyranitar fell back, knocked out. With a disgusted sigh, the caped man returned his Pokemon and, in a puff of smoke, disappeared with his accomplice. Shaken, John stood up and looked into the eyes of Professor Elm.
"Hello again, John. Are you alright?"
John accepted the professor's helping arm in standing up. "Yes, I'm fine..."
Relieved, Professor Elm smiled. "Oh, good. I'm glad to hear it."
John had first met Professor Elm on a field trip to the New Bark Town Pokemon Laboratory when he was ten. Professor Elm and John had immediately become good friends, and Elm was very sad to hear that John would be unable to complete his Trainer education.
Dazed and confused, John was full if questions. "So, what was..."
Quickly, Professor Elm gave an explanation. "Ah yes, I am sure you want an explanation. The local police force has been hearing strange sounds from this building for a while, so I thought I would check it out quickly before the New Trainer Festival. When I heard the Tyranitar, I knew there was something up, and now we are here. How did you come to be here anyway?"
Showing Professor Elm the Cubone (which had been able to survive the battle unscathed) and the bone chunk, John explained the events of this afternoon. After his explanation was done, John quickly spoke up. "Please, Professor Elm, is this Cubone going to be okay?"
Confidently, the professor said, "Absolutely, John. Just put the bone back in place and the mask will heal itself."
Carefully placing the bone chunk back where it belonged, John watched fascinated as the mask released a brilliant white light and healed itself until it was almost unnoticeable that the chunk had ever been missing. John sighed in relief."Okay, now he's going to be all right!"
"Yes, indeed he is. So, John, how are your parents?"
John's happy face turned downward into a frown of concern. "They are fine. We're getting by, I guess. I just have to take them my... oh no..."
Reaching into his pockets, John found the tattered remains of his pay. Every single bill had been shredded to the point of being unrecognizeable. Shocked and upset, John sat down and started to cry. Startled, Professor Elm sat beside John and comforted him. "There there, don't worry, I'm sure there is something we can do...!"
Suddenly, it was as if a light went on behind Professor Elm's eyes. "John, there is indeed something we can do. I'm not usually supposed to do this, but I can make an exception to the rules. How would you like to be a Pokemon Trainer?"
Suddenly sad no longer, John looked up, shocked at the proposition. "What? Me? A Trainer?"
Elm nodded vigorously. "Yes, you. You sure are qualified enough to be one! Here's the deal- I'll give you a starter Pokemon, some equipment to help you out, and enough money to help your parents afford a better home, and in return, I need your help with this."
Reaching into his pocket, Professor Elm presented John with what seemed to be a holographic projector attached to a wristband. Quizzically, John inquired, "What's this?"
Elm excitedly replied, "My Pokedex-J, v. 16. This state-of-the-art device is a Pokemon research tool, used to gain all sorts of data on Pokemon. Currently, the League is trying to compile a full set of genomes for every Pokemon, and we need as much information as we can get. John, if you promise me that you will catch as many Pokemon as you can and scan as many Pokemon as you are able to, I will allow you to become a Trainer at the New Trainer Festival which begins in, ah, about half an hour. So, what do you say?"
There was no question. "Yes!!!"
In the Smith house, two worried parents watched the news, anxiously watching the television.
Sarah spoke up. "Peter, where do you think John could be? He's usually home by now."
Peter replied, "Yes, but today I heard that Mr. Ramgee was giving the boys a bonus. He's probably out having fun with his friends. Now let's watch these young boys and girls become Trainers."
"Yes. If only John were up... wait a second, is that..."
"It can't be... is that John up there?"
The ceremony was a flurry of excitement for John. Meeting his old friends from Trainer School, John was able to spend some time reminiscing about the last year, catch up with his buddies. The ceremony then started, and after some formalities, John was able to live out what he had been dreaming for years- he officially became a Pokemon Trainer. John received the state-of-the-art hydrogen steel armour given to every aspiring Pokemon Trainer, complete with a magnetic Poke Ball holder on the left arm. From Professor Elm, John received his Pokedex and a Starter Pokemon- Totodile, obviously. The ceremony seemed to pass in a blur, a happy blur of speeches, congratulations and clapping. Finally, afterwards, John set out to sort out some things.
First, he visited his parents. After some hugging and congratulating, John told his parents how things had developed. Sarah and Peter were overjoyed at the news, and the two of them hugged John so tight it seemed for a second that his eyes might pop out! After a few more goodbyes, John set out to Mr. Ramgee's. Mr. Ramgee had been at the Festival, so he understood that John was having to leave. After a few congratulatory handshakes, Mr. Ramgee sat John down for a talk. "John Memento Smith, I've been happy to know you. I always knew you'd turn out to be something greater than a farmhand, and now look at you. I think this calls for a present."
Bringing down a box, Mr. Ramgee rummaged around for a moment and brought out a strange-looking Poke Ball. On its top, it was bright purple, while on its bottom, it was a different shade of purple, deeper and murkier. Between the two halves ran a bright crimson band, on which sat an opening button shaped like a five-pointed star.
Mr. Ramgee had a few more words to say. "This, John, was made by my late wife. You may not have known her, but she was quite the artist, and one day, she made this, just for fun. Now, I want you to have it."
Giving it to John, Mr. Ramgee again shook John's hand and then moved into an embrace, tears coming out of the old man's eyes. With one more farewell, John left again, needing to make one visit. Just outside of town, Jihn found him.
Hearing his best friend, Henry quickly perked up. "Oh, hey, John! Wow, you're really decked out."
"Yeah, I guess miracles do happen. So, I'm gonna have to go now. You have a good time."
Happy for his friend, Henry offered a vigorous handshake, "Yeah, you too. Don't forget about us small town people, alright?"
"Alright. See you later."
With one more fraternal handshake, John left, making for the edge of New Bark Town. On the way, John found the Cubone from earlier. "Hey, little guy. How's the mask?"
"Good as new, thanks to you. If you hadn't caught that, the bone would've broke, and I would never have been able to repair it..."
John chuckled a little."Don't worry about it. You're better now, and that's all that matters."
"So, John, you're a Trainer now, right?"
You could hear the pride in John's voice. "Yes, I am."
The Cubone made some excited screams. "Wow, cool! Listen, if it isn't inconvenient, do you think I could, y'know, join you?"
"Really? You want to be my Pokemon?"
"Yes, yes, yes!"
With a little squeal of delight, the Cubone went up to John. John brought out Mr. Ramgee's special Poke Ball for the Cubone to go into. In a flash of light, the little Cubone was converted to energy and stored in the little capsule. Happily, John set out, leaving the sights and sounds of New Bark Town behind for a new, exciting journey.
So there you have it, that's the start of John Smith's story. You're looking pretty tired, how 'bout we call it a night? I'll make sure to have another story for you tomorrow. Oh, and make sure to give the blanket a couple shakes- we've had bug problems. Ha, the look on your face just now! I'm joking, don't worry, this inn is very clean. Anyway, good night, and see you tomorrow.