Pokemon: Wurmple, Lotad, Ralts, Corphish
Ranks: Easiest, Simple, Medium (2)
Note: Um... I'm still new at this, so if I did anything wrong, I'm sorry.
Hazel woke up the morning of the Choosing sick to her stomach. She knew that there was no way she would be picked to represent Littleroot, but that wasn’t what she concerned about. Someone knocked on her door.
“Hazel? Are you up yet?” her brother’s voice asked excitedly.
“Yeah, I’m just getting up, Will, give me a second.” She heard his footsteps head down the hallway and stretched, before climbing out of bed. Still feeling nauseous, she slipped into a slightly dirty, brown dress that she had been given several years before. You were supposed to dress nicely for the Choosing. She examined herself in the mirror. Her face was clean enough, her jet black hair was chopped off just below her shoulders, and the dress didn’t seem to be torn in any embarrassing places. She could go out in public. When she went to turn the doorknob and her hand slipped off, she realized she was shaking violently. “Cut that out…” she muttered to herself. Finally managing to get the door open, she attempted to walk out, only to come face to face with her twin.
“Geez, Will, how long were you just waiting there?”
A pair of brown eyes the same as hers blinked as Will took a step back. “I just got here, sis, but it took you long enough to get ready.” He winked and ran downstairs.
Hazel sighed and followed him, finding that it was hard to walk down a flight of stairs when your feet felt as heavy as lead. She’d been avoiding confronting him, but she couldn’t stand the way he was acting. After what had happened to their father… “Will, why are you so excited about this?”
He was sitting on the couch, waiting for their mother to come downstairs. His head jerked up to look at his sister. Suddenly his eyes were cold. “I’m not like you, Hazel. I can’t just stay in this town forever. I want to be something. I hope they choose me, just like they chose Dad.” His voice was rising and Hazel regretted saying anything.
“Shh… Don’t let mother hear you saying that! You should try to act a little quieter, for her sake at least.” Hazel’s eyes narrowed. Now she was practically hissing the words, “I don’t care what you want.” She grabbed a handful of his shaggy black hair, and his eyes widened with fear. “Try to think of someone besides yourself for once.” She let go of him and went to sit in an armchair on the other side of the room.
“Hazel-“ he started to say with an apologetic tone, but her glare stopped him. She knew as well as he did that there was a very good chance of him being Chosen. Their father and grandfather had both been Champions, and Will was the next in line. Besides that, he was one of the best students at their school and Professor Elm was practically a family friend. He treated her brother like a favorite nephew, and would probably give him first pick of the Pokemon. If he was chosen, she reminded herself. No use worrying over Pidgey that hadn’t hatched yet.
When their mother walked down the stairs, they both turned and stared at her. Her hair, which was as black as theirs, hung down to the middle of her back. Her dress was also black and very simple. What attracted their attention was the black veil which hung over her face. As she walked past them, she had eyes only for Hazel. It was as if Will wasn’t even there. Hazel felt a chill run up her spine. Her mother opened the door without a word and stepped out into the icy chill of the morning air.
The day was overcast. The air smelled of rain, and Hazel suspected that there would be a thunderstorm later, from the look of the clouds far in the horizon. What a day to start your journey. She hoped more than ever that her brother would be spared. The pathway to the lab was already damp. It must’ve rained the night before already. The walk there wasn’t too long; Littleroot Town was small, with less than three hundred residents. This year, there were only nine children who were sixteen, the age that marked them ripe to be Chosen. Luckily for Hazel, she had shown little interest in Pokemon, as well as the damning fact that she was a girl. Girls were almost never picked. She was likely to be fine. She didn’t know the other seven well; she liked to keep to herself. She could only hope there were three candidates who were better than her brother. When they reached the Professor’s Lab, most of the town was already gathered around the entrance, where a podium stood with three hollow spots in its top; one for each Pokeball that would be presented. However, there was still no sign of Professor Elm. After several minutes, the crowds excited whispering turned to quiet muttering.
Will shifted his weight back and forth and started to fidget. “Where do you think he is?”
“Hopefully, far, far away,” Hazel said under her breath.
Another minute passed and Will sighed. “I’m going to go look for him.”
Hazel looked at her mother, expecting her to tell him to stay, but she just stared into the crowd, almost as if she were gazing at something far away. “Fine, I’m coming with you,” Hazel said, but Will was already gone. Cursing, she pushed herself out of the crowd and walked around to the back of the lab. Normally, she didn’t like being back there, as the grass was much taller than anywhere else in town, and the entrance to Route 101 was nearby. Sometimes, wild Pokemon could be found here, and she was wary of being attacked. Her fear for her brother triumphed over her fear of being mauled this time. As she approached Route 101’s entrance, she thought she could make out a noise in the distance. At first she thought it was the wind, but then she realized it was a human voice. Somewhere, down along the dirt road out of town, somebody was screaming. But most people in town didn’t have Pokemon, and never left the town without some kind of escort to ward off bandits and wild Pokemon. The only person who ever went out was… Her eyes widened with realization. “Professor Elm,” she whispered, and took off running.
Hazel had never been outside of Littleroot in her entire life, but as she set off down Route 101, she wasn’t thinking about this, only about the inhuman shrieking that was growing louder and louder. Luckily, she hadn’t had to go through any patches of long grass where Pokemon might be lurking yet, and as she came upon Professor Elm’s messenger bag on the ground, she hoped she wouldn’t have to. “Professor Elm?” she called. A whimper from behind a nearby bush drew her attention. Tiptoeing over, she looked behind the bush. There, Professor Elm was huddled up, cradling his left arm. The left sleeve of his normally pristine white lab coat was stained dark red with blood, and his normally blonde hair was matted with it. Moving in around him were several black, dog-like Pokemon, with huge canines jutting from the tops of their mouths.
“H-Hazel,” he said, his eyes glazing over as he looked up at her. The Pokemon continued to close in. “I-In my bag, P-Pokeballs. Get one.”
Hazel stood still for a moment, shocked, before pulling herself away and forcing herself to run back to the bag. She ripped it open and began digging, feeling for one of the Pokeballs she knew was in it. There! She grabbed the red and white sphere and barely registered the flame carved into the top. She stumbled back to where she had left Elm and found him swatting helplessly at the Pokemon, trying to keep them busy for a few more precious seconds. She pressed the button in the middle of the Pokeball and tried to keep from shaking as the ball lit up with glowing red light, and something materialized on the ground. The wild Pokemon turned around to look at the disturbance.
“Tor-Torchic,” the tiny bird Pokemon clucked.
Hazel stared at the bright orange chick for a moment, before realizing she didn’t know any of its attacks. “Torchic, um, attack the wild Pokemon!” The Torchic looked at her blankly.
“Sc-Scratch,” Elm said, somewhat deliriously.
“Oh, God, right. Scratch!”
The Torchic seemed to concentrate for a moment, then leaped at the nearest dog Pokemon, leaving bright red slashes across its body and face. The Pokemon whimpered and ran off into the woods. Most of its pack mates followed, but one stayed stubbornly by Elm, growling furiously. The Torchic turned around and ran towards it, before tackling it, flipping it on its back. Its foe now incapacitated, the Torchic placed one foot at the base of its neck, then raked its claws downward, disemboweling the wild Pokemon, which howled wildly for a moment before going silent. Hazel forced herself to look away from the gory scene. She grabbed Elm by his good arm.
“Come on,” she said breathlessly as she tried to support his weight.
“P-Pokeball….” he murmured, then slurred something she couldn’t understand.
“Oh, right.” Hazel held the Pokeball out towards the Torchic. “Torchic, return!” The chick Pokemon glowed red before disappearing into the ball. She stuffed it into Elm’s bag, put the bag on over one shoulder, and supported Elm with the other. “Let’s go then.”
Mercifully, they saw no more Pokemon on the way back, and when they finally limped within sight of the crowd, Hazel heard everyone gasp simultaneously. Silently, gritting her teeth, she helped Elm to his platform, where he half collapsed. Several of his assistants ran to him and crowded around him for several minutes, obscuring him from the crowd’s view. Hazel dropped the bag off near him and slipped into the crowd, looking for Will and her mother. When she found them, Will was staring at her as if she had grown a third eye. “What happened out there?” he said, with a hint of awe.
Hazel shrugged. “I heard screaming. I ran towards him and found him being attacked by Pokemon.”
Will’s eyes were as round as coins. “Are you serious? So what did you do?”
“I-“ Hazel started, but someone behind her shushed her. Elm was clinging weakly to the podium. His assistants must have given him something that would provide enough energy for him to at least finish the ceremony.
“Ladies and gentleman of Littleroot Town,” he began, sounding as though his tongue were glued to the roof of his mouth. He must have sustained more damage than Hazel had thought. “Me and the other council members have Chosen the three who will partake on this year’s Journey.” Unconsciously, Hazel reached out and gripped her brother’s hand. “First… James Willsson.” A skinny, dirty blonde haired boy found his way through the crowd and reached the podium. He peered at the Pokeballs tentatively before selecting one. He lifted it up, displaying the water drop on the front. The crowd cheered. “Second… Richard Jacksson.” A burly boy, who looked about twenty, but by the rules of the game had to have been sixteen, marched up to the podium, and without a moment of thought, grabbed the Pokeball with a leaf on it. The crowd cheered again. “Third…” Hazel squeezed her brother’s hand tightly, hoping and praying that her brother wouldn’t get his wish, that he wouldn’t be Chosen. “Hazel Mabelsdaughter.” Hazel’s blood ran cold. She felt her brother let go of her hand and push her forward. Inertia seemed to take over, and she moved, slowly but surely to the podium. Hand slippery with sweat, she picked up the final Pokeball, the one with the flame symbol. The crowd clapped politely, but they were clearly surprised by the Choice of a female. She took her place by the two male Choices, who didn’t bother to hide their stares. “Now, for the rules of the game,” Elm announced, “You may only catch the first Pokemon you encounter in each section of the region. You must accept all challenges issued to you by other trainers. Finally, if you lose your entire team of Pokemon, you lose your trainer’s license. Any questions?”
Normally, the beginning of the Journey was much more hyped and drawn out, but with Elm in his current condition, they seemed to be rushing it. Hazel’s mind was still a blur of confusion. Elm limped over to a table behind the podium, where several supplies were sitting. He handed a bag, five Pokeballs, and a Pokedex to each of the Chosen. Hazel took hers with a shaking hand. “You won’t be battling other trainers until you get past Oldale Town, but be on the lookout for wild Pokemon still.” He looked at all of them and made eye contact with each. He paused in front of Hazel a little longer. “Good luck… to all of you.” He turned his back on them and limped into the lab.
The two other Chosen shook each other’s hands, then looked at Hazel as if they didn’t know what to make of her. They gingerly put out their hands, which she shook lightly, before they took off down Route 101. The crowd started to disperse.
“Hazel!” She turned around towards her mother’s voice, but before even turning all the way, was enveloped in her grip. “Oh God, Hazel,” she sobbed.
“Shh… It’s alright, mother,” Hazel managed to say somewhat soothingly.
Will stood behind his mother, his eyes toward the ground and his mouth firmly closed.
“Please tell me you’ll come back?” Her mother pulled herself away and looked at her, her eyes filled with tears. Slowly, she reached under the hem of her dress and pulled out a worn belt with six small pockets on it; pockets that were perfectly shaped to hold Pokeballs. She buckled it around her daughter’s waist. Hazel pulled the Torchic’s Pokeball out of her backpack and placed it on the belt. She kissed her mother’s cheek.
“I’ll come back,” Hazel promised, “But I have to go, it’s the only way. If they get too much of a head start…”
Her mother nodded firmly, and pushed her daughter away. “Go! Do whatever you have to!”
Hazel took a few steps, stopped, then broke into a run. It was easier to part the faster she was going. The pack she’d been given weighed her down, but it wasn’t too heavy. After a few moments, she slowed and realized she was farther away from home than she had ever been, and she was only a half mile down the road to Oldale Town. The forest around her was ominously quiet, and it was much darker here under the tree’s canopy than it was in town, where the sun could shine down upon her without being filtered through dark pine needles. After a while, the ground became so littered with the needles, she couldn’t hear her own footsteps. Just as the full force of what had happened hit her, Oldale Town appeared on the horizon.
It’s lucky I’m so close to another town, she thought. She couldn’t imagine what it must be like for the Chosen from Fortree or Lilycove, who had to walk through miles of thick jungle for days to get anywhere or to cross an icy, stormy sea. She began to jog towards the small town, when something jumped out at her from a nearby bush.
“Wurmple!” it cried, and began to advance towards her, clicking its mandibles. Quickly, she released her Torchic and pulled out the Pokedex. She pointed it at the small caterpillar-like Pokemon, and pressed a button which said “Receive Data”.
“Wurmple: Wild. Using the spikes on its rear end,” the Pokedex read, “Wurmple peels the bark off trees and feeds on the sap that oozes out. This sap is then processed by Wurmple’s body, and made into a deadly neurotoxin.”
That explained the Wurmple’s bright red coloring. Pokemon that were poisonous were often bright colors, to warn off predators. The insect crawled closer to her, the spikes on its back raised threateningly. Slowly, trying to avoid attracting the bug Pokemon’s attention any further, she pointed her Pokedex at Torchic.
“Torchic: Owned. Torchic is capable of producing flames up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Level: 6. Moves Learned: Scratch, Growl.”
“So useful,” Hazel muttered to herself. “Try Scratch, Torchic!”
Torchic seemed to size up its opponent for a moment, before calmly walking up to it. The Wurmple made a hissing sound Hazel was almost sure bugs shouldn’t be able to make. Torchic then growled at it, and swiped at it with one foot. Its claws dug into the Wurmple’s fragile skin, and when Torchic pulled back its foot, the other Pokemon’s head came with it. It rolled to the ground, still clicking its mandibles.
“Oh, God,” Hazel moaned, as purple and black blood oozed onto the forest floor. Faintly, she heard the Pokedex make a small dinging sound.
“Torchic: now level 7. New move learned: Focus Energy. No I.D. has been given to this Pokemon. Would you like to give this Pokemon an I.D.?”
Hazel directed her attention back to the Pokedex. On the screen, a keyboard had popped up. She pressed the space button experimentally, and saw that it made a space, before deleting it. Carefully, she typed in the name Ares. It was a name good for the Journey. Good for killing. Instead of returning the Torchic to its Pokeball, she picked it up delicately in her arms. It cheeped happily, as if it hadn’t just decapitated another Pokemon. It felt warm against her chest, like something was burning inside it. Holding it tightly to her, she walked into Oldale Town, which she found strangely deserted. People had probably gone home early, either disappointed that they hadn’t been Chosen, or thanking God that they weren't. Out of all the Chosen, very few returned home. Most were killed by wild Pokemon, or sometimes other trainers who wanted their supplies. You weren’t allowed to go back to your hometown until you had at least challenged the Champion. Return before that, and you were automatically made a hikkikomori- someone who could never leave their home out of shame or fear of other people. It would’ve been a better fate than dying for Hazel, if it wouldn’t completely dishonor her family. She couldn’t do that after what her father had done for them…
There wouldn’t have been much to see in Oldale Town even if any of the stores had been open. It was as small as Littleroot, the only difference being it had its own Pokecenter and Pokemart. The Pokecenter was open, but none of Ares’ opponents had managed to even scratch him. She walked through the ghost town, trying to enjoy her last moments of relative safely, but far too soon, she found herself on the edge of Route 102. She sat down by the edge of the road and looked at the Torchic in her hands.
“Do you really want to do this, Ares?” She stroked its head feathers. “Do you really want to hurt other Pokemon?” She couldn’t tell if the tiny chick understood what she was saying. As she pet it, it began to vibrate and make a purring noise, almost like a cat. She sighed. Even if he didn’t, there wasn’t a choice. They had entered a jungle, one where the only law was kill or be killed. With no father to care for her family… She would have to be a killer. She set the Torchic onto the ground. “Come on,” she told it. Her feet dragged as she started down the route. Ares had to walk in front of her to avoid the gravel she was kicking up.
They had made it less than half a mile down the road, when Hazel heard a low sound, like the croaking of a frog, but deeper. She had never heard anything like it before. She paused for a moment, struggling with curiosity and caution, before following the noise off of the path and through a large group of reeds. Ares trailed behind her, sniffing the air as if there was something he smelled and didn’t like. As she walked, the croaking grew louder, and finally, she parted the last of the reeds and gasped.
Before her was a wide pond, wide enough to have small waves lapping the shore. Laying in the waves’ path was a small Pokemon not much bigger than Ares. However, unlike Ares, its body was bright blue, slightly darker than the water of the pond. On its back was a large lily pad. It croaked again, and when Hazel looked closer, she noticed several small cuts on its body, and a large gash on one side.
“What happened?” she murmured and tried to creep closer. Suddenly, Ares cried out in warning. Surprised, Hazel jumped back, just in time to avoid a huge claw snapping shut where her leg had been.
“Corphish!” shouted a neon orange Pokemon that looked a lot like a crab.
Without being told, Ares ran towards it and growled menacingly. The crab winced, but didn’t retreat. Using the distraction as an opportunity, Hazel pulled out her Pokedex and pointed it at the new Pokemon.
“Corphish,” it said mechanically, “Once it grips its prey with its sharp claws, it will not let go until it or its prey dies. Originally a foreign Pokemon, they came to the Hoenn region as exotic pets, before being released into the wild and growing feral.”
The Corphish snapped its claws several times angrily, then charged at Ares.
“Ares!” Hazel cried, “Watch out!”
The Torchic barely had time to jump out of the way. The Corphish barreled by harmlessly.
“Hit it with a Scratch!” Hazel commanded.
Ares leaped forward and began slashing the Corphish viciously with its claws. After only a few seconds of this punishment, the crab Pokemon was already bleeding heavily. Just as Ares was about to deal a final blow, the Corphish summoned up all of its strength and blew a stream of bubbles at him. He had no time to dodge before he was struck by the large bubbles. He screamed in pain as they burst against his body, the water drenching his feathers and stinging his skin. He took a step back as the Corphish prepared to do it again.
“Come on, Ares, try to scratch it again,” Hazel begged, but Ares seemed to have other plans. His chest puffed up, causing all of his feathers to stick out. Just as the Corphish was about to unleash another stream of bubbles, Ares opened his mouth and a huge ball of fire struck the Corphish, knocking it into the pond. After a moment of tense waiting, the Corphish didn’t get up. Ares collapsed onto the ground and began to gasp loudly, trying to suck in air.
“Ares has grown to level ten!” the Pokedex crowed dissonantly.
Hazel was torn between examining Ares or the frog Pokemon first, but decided that she owed Ares her attention as her first Pokemon. She reached into the bag that Professor Elm had given her and found a potion. She positioned the small purple bottle over the place where the bubbles had hit him. “This is going to sting a little,” she warned him. He groaned. She sprayed the contents of the bottle onto him, and he hissed, but after a few seconds, the hiss turned into a sigh of relief. His breathing quieted. Then she turned to the frog Pokemon, who was still lying injured in the pond water. She sprayed it with the potion, and it stopped mid-croak. She watched as its body relaxed. She reached out one hand tentatively and stroked the top of its head.
“Lotad,” it croaked happily, and nuzzled her with its head.
She giggled softly, surprising herself. Slowly, she pulled a red and white Pokeball from her bag. Before it could see what she was doing, she tapped the Lotad on the head with it, and it was sucked inside. It wiggled a few times, then stopped, and made a clicking noise. “Lily,” she whispered, naming it. She knew it was sort of a lame name, but you could do worse than traditional. She placed the Pokeball in the second slot on her belt. “Are you doing alright, Ares?”
The chick Pokemon nodded and climbed weakly to its feet. She picked it up and cradled it in the crook of her arm. It went limp. She sighed and climbed out of the reeds and back onto the path. How long had that encounter taken? she wondered. Judging from the sun’s position in the sky, it had been at least an hour. She’d have to hurry if she wanted to make it to Petalburg by night fall. Miraculously, she didn’t come across any other Pokemon or trainers. She was left to enjoy the heat from Ares’ body and the sound of the rain outside of the forest’s protective canopy. By the time the sun was getting low in the sky, she came across a hand painted sign that said “Petalburg, .5 miles” with an arrow pointing in the direction she was going. Encouraged, she began to walk faster than she had been, excited to find a Pokemon Center and get a chance to rest.
“Look, Ares, we’re almost-“ she was cut off as she ran directly into another trainer. She stumbled backwards, nearly dropping Ares.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” she heard someone saying, and once she righted herself, looked up. The other trainer was taller than her by about a foot, gawky, dressed in a black pair of pants and a button up shirt. He had on a pair of horn rimmed glasses that he kept nervously pushing up the bridge of his nose. His scruffy brown hair was slightly greasy, and behind his glasses, his brown eyes seemed huge, like an owl’s. “I’m really, really sorry,” he said again.
“No, it’s fine, it was my fault,” she tried to assure him. He looked away awkwardly. “I wasn’t paying attention. I’m trying to get to Petalburg before the sun sets.”
“Oh. Petalburg is just up the road a little ways, I just came from there.” He punctuated his sentence by pushing his glasses up again.
Hazel felt slightly nervous about this guy. There was something about him that she didn’t like… Something that freaked her out. It wasn’t anything tangible, just a certain aura he had. “Are you one of the Chosen?” she said, trying to break the silence.
He blinked, surprised. “Me? Oh, no. I’m not a trainer… I’m moving to Verdanturf soon, and I wanted to take a Pokemon with me, so I came out here to catch one.”
She motioned to his belt, where a Pokeball sat in the first slot. “That’s not your Pokemon then?”
He shook his head. “No, it belongs to Norman. He lent it to me so I could come catch something.”
“You’ve never battled before or anything?”
Hazel was slightly torn. She wanted to get back on the road, but after what she’d seen over the last few hours… She didn’t have much more experience than him, but then again, she’d at least lived around Pokemon. She couldn’t leave him to fend for himself against such dangerous creatures. “Why don’t I help you until you can catch one?”
He grinned. “That’d be great!”
She smiled nervously back. Suddenly, the bushes behind him rustled. He jumped around as something from inside the bush growled.
“Well, that’s probably your first Pokemon right there… You should call out the Pokemon you’re borrowing.”
He gulped and grabbed the Pokeball. “Um, how do I do that?” he asked.
Hazel had to resist the urge to raise an eyebrow. “Just press the button in the center.”
The boy did as he was told, and nearly fell over when a small, brown raccoon-like Pokemon appeared on the ground in front of him.
“Zig! Zigzagoon!” it barked.
The growling in the bushes grew louder, and then the Pokemon crept into sight. Hazel had to move Ares to just one arm so she could pull out her Pokedex.
“Ralts,” it said, its inner machinery whirring as the stranger, green and white Pokemon crawled closer, “it can sense the emotions of people around it, and avoids those who have strong negative emotions.”
“Awww, it’s so cute,” the boy said wistfully as it growled again.
“You should probably attack it,” Hazel suggested as it continued to get closer. The almost child-like Pokemon wasn’t very big, and didn’t look too dangerous, but she wasn’t positive of that, and didn’t want to take any chances.
“Oh, right. Zigzagoon… use… an attack?”
The Zigzagoon cocked its head at him curiously, before seeming almost to sigh. It charged at the Ralts, tackled it, and bit into its skin. The Ralts cried out in pain. The boy winced.
“Zigzagoon… back off a little,” he commanded unsurely. The raccoon Pokemon reluctantly released its prey. “So now I throw a Pokeball at it?”
Hazel nodded. The boy reached into his bag and pulled out an empty Pokeball. His hand shook a little as he threw it. The ball clicked shut almost as soon as the Ralts disappeared inside of it. He sighed in relief.
“Good job,” Hazel said and forced a smile. There was still something about him… The sooner she got away, the happier she would be.
“Thank you. Well, I should probably start heading back home…”
“Yes, I need to get back on my way to Petalburg,” she agreed hurriedly.
“I should probably walk you there, in case any more Pokemon show up.” He smiled.
Hazel sighed inwardly. “That would be great.”
The final stretch of the path to Petalburg seemed to last forever, as Hazel squirmed internally. Finally, they crested a hill, and the forest they’d been in gave way to the city of Petalburg. The rain had stopped and the sun setting over the ocean in the distance was beautiful.
“So I guess I should be going,” the boy said reluctantly. “Wait, I never introduced myself. I’m Wally.”
“Well… Goodbye, Hazel! I hope I see you again sometime!” He waved as he walked off.
I don’t, she thought to herself. Oh well, at least he’s gone now. Her eyes travelled to the gym at the edge of the town. She shivered. Gym leaders were powerful, but she had to start sometime. Tomorrow she would challenge the gym, and really start her quest to get back home. The thought made her nervous. She tried to push those thoughts away, and instead focused on the nearby Pokemon Center. Tonight, she would rest, and tomorrow… Well, tomorrow was another day.