It was a Tuesday. Well, it had to be a Tuesday. Tuesday was the day Airik checked the Irrigation system when he was at the Arboretum, and, since that was what Airik was doing, it must be a Tuesday; it was the only logical assumption.
Airik was also known as Doctor Airik Taloran Stormgrad, and he was a world renowned pokemon scientist specializing in botanical anatomy; in layman's terms, that’s the study of grass type pokemon, their environments, and the various plant systems that make up their structure. He was 5 foot and 8 inches tall and, at the ripe old age of 26, was already starting to show a few grey hairs in his natural blonde hair. He wore a white lab coat, which was pretty standard for most scientists. On the right lapel, he bore the Forest Badge. Airik had proudly displayed the badge on his person since becoming the Gym Leader in Eterna City. Under his lab coat, he wore a bright blue hooded sweatshirt and some black, 3/4 length cargo shorts. He carried a grey messenger bag with him. Inside the bag was usually a sketch pad, a notebook, a collection of writing equipment, his pokedex, and about a half dozen pokeballs, one of which was always his trusty Shiftry that he had since before he began his pokemon journey.
See, when Airik wasn't off guest lecturing in Celadon City or on an expedition or heading a research group or defeating challengers at the Eterna City gym, he worked at the Arboretum. the Arboretum was a pokemon research facility set up to study grass type pokemon under controlled conditions, in as natural of an environment that could be created for them. Located at the edge of the Pinwheel Forest on the shore line a short distance from the Sky Arrow Bridge, the Arboretum served as a Mecca for grass type trainers from across Unova and further afield.
Trainers from all over came to the Arboretum to learn more about their own pokemon and more exotic grass types from other regions. As well as these students came challengers, people wanting nothing more than to prove their superiority as a battler. Most of the time, these people would turn up with fire or flying type pokemon and challenge everyone in sight. Airik was under the opinion that it did not take much skill to beat an opponent when you had a type advantage. Airik thought that real skill came from training your pokemon and coming up with counters for their most common threats. When a challenger managed to defeat all the students willing to battle him, one of the staff would often step in defeat them and send them on their way. When Airik was in residence, it was a duty that often fell to him, mostly because of his position as a gym leader, and, in truth, a lot of the students and staff respected him and enjoyed watching him battle almost as much as Airik enjoyed battling. Many visitors had commented how the Arboretum was similar to the fighting dojo of the Kanto region.
So, it was a Tuesday, and, being a Tuesday, Airik was performing a vital task to the running of the Arboretum, which was checking the Irrigation system. A healthy water supply was vital for the Arboretum; not just for the pokemon but also for the numerous plant life, a great many of which had been specially imported from other regions to replicate the natural habitats of pokemon as closely as possible. Airik was currently going through the flower beds, setting off the sprinklers, checking that they were working and receiving an adequate flow of water. It was early. In fact, it was before the Arboretum's cafeteria opened to serve breakfast. Airik had chosen to do this at this time so as to not disturb the various pokemon, most of which would rest until later in the day, when the sun was higher and they could use the chlorophyll in their leaves to gather energy from the sun’s rays. Airik progressed down the flowerbeds and began to notice small bite marks on some of the larger leaves. As Airik followed the trail, he came across a rather fat and ill looking Sewaddle.
Sewaddle was a dual bug and grass type, and it was not unusual to see them feasting on leaves, but this one had been foolish. These plants were from the Great Marsh in the Sinnoh region and weere a hardy breed. Sadly for Sewaddle, when it began to break down the leaves, it broke them down into more simple compounds for digestion. However, those compounds were poisonous to most plant and bug type pokemon. It was part of the plant’s natural defense mechanism and actually a rather common one replicated in many pokemon. Airik knelt down to examine the Sewaddle. It had definitely been badly poisoned, and its health was slowly ebbing away. Just then, Airik was disturbed by a sound of someone crashing through the flower beds.
"Sewaddle?" the voice called out, clearly that of a youngster with a hint of desperation.
"Where did you go, Sewaddle?" the voice called again, beginning to sound more worried and concerned.
"Over here," Airik called, standing up so that he was visible above the vegetation.
Sounds of more crashing came moments later as a young girl came into view. No more than 13 years old, she wore some denim shorts held in place by some bright green suspenders over a blue t-shirt. She had messy blonde hair and a pained expression on her face.
"Doctor Stormgrad," she said as she came to a stop when she realised who it was in front of her.
"It's ok, child. I won’t bite," Airik said playfully. "I presume this is your Sewaddle?" Airik gestured down to the stricken form of Sewaddle.
Almost before Airik could blink, the girl was at Sewaddle's side, crying. Airik managed to make out several things she said, mostly about how Sewaddle shouldn't have run off.
"Dr. Stormgrad," the girl looked up at Airik, "please don't think I'm a bad trainer. Is there anything you can do to help my Sewaddle?"
"First of all, there is no need to be so formal. Please, just call me Airik." The older man smiled his best smile in an attempt to reassure the distraught girl. "Secondly, I don't think you’re a bad trainer. These things happen, and, if anyone is at fault, it is me. I brought these plants here from Sinnoh, and I should have considered how they would affect the local pokemon more than I did."
Airik thought that the plants wouldn't pose a problem because the natural inhabitants of the Marsh didn't eat them because they had learned they were poisonous. However, he failed to factor in the possibility of rogue pokemon straying into these particular flower beds and eating them. Right now, he could kick himself. Ultimately, he had failed to ensure the safety of this trainer’s Sewaddle, and he was determined to put it right.
"Now, young lady," Airik said in his most serious face, "I am no nurse Joy, but I do know a lot about pokemon care, specifically grass type pokemon. I promise we will get your Sewaddle better." Airik picked up the Sewaddle and handed it over to the girl and gestured for her to follow him. Once the duo managed to get out of the flower beds, they headed towards Airik’s private laboratory that he maintained at the Arboretum. The room was fairly small; it contained a workbench in the middle with numerous items of equipment on it and one row of cupboards with a granite work surface on top of them. Airik went to one of the cupboards and opened it.
"Hmm, lets see." Airik rummaged around in the cupboard "It's in here somewhere," he said as he started pulling bits out, "Ahh got it!" Airik retracted his head from the cupboard and pulled out a poison heal. "I thought I had one of these in here," Airik said, smiling.
"Thank you so much, doctor -- I mean, Airik." the girl laid Sewaddle on the workbench, and Airik sprayed the Sewaddle with the poison heal. Straight away, the Sewaddle began to perk up, and so did the girl.
"There you go," Airik said. "Now, you just need to rest Sewaddle, preferably in its pokeball so that it can't get up to any more mischief," Airik said,smiling and clearly in jest. The girl flung her arms around Airik and gave him a big hug before grabbing a pokeball from the belt around her waist.
"Sewaddle, return," she commanded, and a red beam of light shot out of the centre of the ball and hit Sewaddle square on, enveloping the bug and grass type before it disappeared inside the tiny storage device.
"Thanks again, Airik," she said before she flung herself out of the door and down the corridor.
Airik sat on the seat in the corner of his lab and suddenly felt famished. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his Xtransceiver and pushed a few keys before being put straight through to the main office for the Arboretum.
"I ran into a problem while I was checking the irrigation system, Jane. Long story short, I didn't manage to finish it. Could you have one of the junior staff finish it up after breakfast please?"
Jane was what made this place work, a whiz with admin and organization. Airik knew that, after breakfast, one of the interns would have the job assigned to them. Sadly, it would be more difficult for them as the pokemon begin to become more active during the day. Not that Airik could worry; he had to go get breakfast, do some paperwork, and had a lecture to deliver.
Airik got up and headed towards the door. He went into the corridor and headed left towards the cafeteria. He passed several junior staff members and a few trainers who nodded at him respectfully. Airik went through the double doors into the cafeteria and what greeted him was the sight of a full and busy cafe with dozens of staff and trainers eating their breakfast.
Approaching the counter in the cafeteria, the serving lady simply smiled before turning around and shouting back into the kitchen, "Doctor Stormgrad is here, Joe."
Turning back to Airik, she said, "It'll just be a moment, Doctor."
Airik didn't know the serving lady’s name, as he had only met her briefly on his last visit to the Arboretum; He was so busy these days with his ongoing research projects and the Eterna City gym. He had accepted the post as gym leader mostly because it had been a childhood fantasy of his to run a grass type gym of his own and out of a need to put down routes somewhere. Although no where near old and still just shy of the daunting period of life called middle age, Airik wanted to be able to call somewhere home, but, instead, he still found himself constantly travelling back and forth between various regions.
"Here you go, doctor," the serving lady called, pulling Airik back from his thoughts. She handed over the plate with two frankfurter sausages, some slices of bread, a burger, an egg, and a whole onion roughly chopped and fried till it was almost transparent.
"Thanks," Airik said, taking the plate. He spied a table in the corner with no one sitting at it. Airik liked to eat breakfast alone, for it reminded him of his travels when he was younger and gave him time to prepare for the day ahead.
As he cut into the burger and cut away a small wedge of beef, he scooped some onions onto the back of his fork while reading the notes for his lecture later. It was on the Abilities of grass type pokemon and weather. Being part plant, most grass pokemon were entirely dependant upon the sun. This was always something that interested Airik, especially since intense sunlight actually increased fire type attacks. It made a strategy based around sun a dangerous prospect, but it did have its benefits.
Airik adjusted something on one of his note cards as he absent mindedly prodded the yoke of the Ducklett egg with his bread, once, twice, and then the yellow gold erupted onto the plate like lava flowing down the side of a white mountain.
After Airik had finished eating, he sat there at his table for some time. He was, of course, aware of all the long side-glances in his direction and the whispering. I guess to those that study and train grass type pokemon, successful gym leaders are a bit like the messiah. Airik hated it; he was one of the most approachable people ever when he was on his own pokemon journey. Now, people respected him and kept their distance in fear of embarrassing themselves or upsetting him. Admittedly, right now, he didn't really want company; he wanted to review his notes before he gave the lecture, but he would like to do it without the staring.
Airik picked up his tray and took it over to the bin area and put it on the side in the area indicated before raising an arm and waving in the direction of the serving counter. He caught the attention of the serving lady from earlier and gave her a big enthusiastic thumbs up. Airik knew he probably looked like a massive dork, but the breakfast was just what he needed to settle his nerves before the lecture.
Airik pushed through the double doors and walked into the corridor. He continued on for a short distance before turning down a passageway on his right. Everything about this part of the Arboretum was white: white tiled floor, white paint on the walls and ceilings, and bright white fluorescent bulbs to illuminate the corridors. If Airik had a say in the decor, he would change it so it felt more fun or alive or, dare he say it, inviting. Instead, it looked like an institution. He carried on through the whiteness and through a single door at the end of the corridor.
The door led into a room that looked like a small office but had no personality to it, like if it was a room in a show house, complete with nondescript items that didn't really say anything about the person using the space. Airik knew, of course, that this room wasn't designed for permanent habitation and instead was there to accommodate anyone lecturing in the auditorium beyond, which, for this morning, made it Airik's room. He left his messenger bag on the desk and withdrew his notes from his lab coat pocket. One last read as Airik paced up and down the small office space, a deep breath and through the door onto the stage beyond.
The auditorium wasn't huge; it was just as big as it needed to be, tiered seating for 250 and state of the art audio/visual equipment, with large windows that had gorgeous views over both the bustle of Castelia City and the serene tranquillity of the Pinwheel Forest. The stage was made from solid wood with a solid wooden podium at the front and centre of it. Cameras would capture video of Airik and record it for later study as well. There was quite a crowd, several members of staff from the Arboretum several people just visiting for this lecture and the majority of the trainers who happen to be residing at the Arboretum at this time.
Most of them looked eager, and this, surprisingly, helped Airik relax. An attentive audience always helped a lecture go much better.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Airik started. Pretty simple, he knew, but it was always best to start with something classic.
"I'm here today to discuss Grass type abilities and the weather. Now, as most of you are aware, grass types are closely in tune with the weather, and a large majority of those perform better in intense sunlight." Airik pushed the button on his clicker and a large image appeared, displaying various pokemon gathered under a sun. Upon closer inspection, they were all pokemon who had abilities that depended on sunlight.
"Now, the problem with Sunlight is that it is a bit of a double edged sword for most grass type pokemon. It generally increases the effectiveness of Fire type attacks by 50%, and the majority of grass type pokemon are weak to this particular type ,with a few in fact having a double weakness." Airik again pushed the clicker and the image changed; it was similar to before except, this time, a Charizard was swooping out of the sun and setting everything on fire.
"As you can see, this can spell disaster for our grass types, especially if they encounter a Charizard with the ability Solar Power." Airik took a sip of water from a glass that had been placed on the podium for him before continuing. "Solar Power is an Ability that will boost the power of your pokemon’s special attack in sunlight. However, it also causes them to periodically lose health. Only four pokemon are known to have this ability, which are Charizard, Tropius, and the Sunflora evolution line. Charizard is a common fire type pokemon, so be aware that if you encounter a Solar Power Charizard in sun, its Flamethrower will be boosted not only by the Solar Power ability but also due to the sunlight. In these circumstances, it’s best to avoid confrontation or counter it with something other than a grass type pokemon. Sunflora greatly benefits from the power boost, but doesn't have the speed to capitalise on it. Tropius is also a viable option, its bulk giving it the ability to take one or two hits and, with Solar Power, hopefully deal significant damage of its own."
Airik took a breath and and flipped the note card he was on to the back of the pack and took another sip of his water.
"Another interesting ability," Airik continued, "is Chlorophyll. Thirty-five pokemon have this ability, all of which are grass type pokemon. This ability effectively doubles the speed of your pokemon as they’re energized by the sun's rays. This can allow a fairly slow pokemon to outspeed and revenge kill an opponent’s pokemon. An interesting pokemon with this ability is Leafeon; it’s already fairly fast, and, with decent defensive capabilities, it becomes truly powerful in sun. Plus, it learns Synthesis and can have Growth bred into it. Growth will raise Leafeon's attack power sharply and make it really effective." Airik pushed the clicker, and, as if to demonstrate the point, there was a picture of his own Leafeon boosted to the point where it was knocking an opposing Hydreigon out in one hit.
"Another ability that is useful in the sun is Leaf Guard. Leaf Guard prevents status moves against your pokemon in sun. This is incredibly useful if you know your opponent favours this kind of strategy." Airik sipped his water before carrying on.
"One pokemon to note that benefits from the sun is this pokemon," Airik said as he reached into his pocket and withdrew a pokeball before releasing the pokemon within.
A Cherubi sprang forth and danced around the stage.
"Cherubi," it cried.
Airik's smile broadened from ear to ear.
"Cherub!" it spun around like a ballet dancer.
"Not only does this little lady benefit from Chlorophyll and its speed increases in direct sunlight, but, when it evolves into a Cherrim, it will gain the ability Flower Gift." Airik took a sip of water and skim read his notes. "Flower Gift is an ability that is of real benefit in double or tag battles, especially when paired with a pokemon that has the ability Drought, which instantly draws out the sun and causes intense sunlight to become the prevailing weather condition.”
Airik reached into his pocket and and pulled out another pokeball and something else. "First of all, I want you all to know that this Cherubi belongs to the Arboretum, and I have the permission of the owner to do this." Airik walked over to the Cherubi and opened his hand to reveal a Rare Candy. The Cherubi's eyes lit up as it bounded over closer to Airik.
The Cherubi ate the candy overenthusiastic and soon was enveloped in a glowing white light.
Cherubi was transformed into Cherrim.
"Interestingly, Cherrim has two forms, and it reacts directly to weather conditions, a trait shared with the pokemon Castform. Under normal weather conditions, it appears as you see it before you; two crossing purple petals with a short purple stem, a green, leafy sepal covering, and two deep pink feet, with its eyes appearing to be near its legs." Airik sipped at his water and looked out at the audience. They all seemed to be fairly amazed with the evolution that just took place in front of them. "However, when there is strong sunlight, it appears to have a skirt and "hair" made of pink cherry-blossom petals, radiating outward from a yellow sphere on the back of its head that resembles the center of a flower, along with a small triangular patch of green on its neck. Additionally, two berry-like orbs, resembling cherry-shaped hair ornaments, adorn its head. It has stubby limbs, with the arms being pink and the legs being yellow.”
As if to prove his point, Airik threw the second pokeball out onto the stage, and a Vulpix appeared. Suddenly, everything got brighter, and the clouds outside lifted the sun shone into the auditorium and a shaft of light came down from the heavens through the skylight above the stage. Cherrrim's form changed as her petals lifted and spread out behind her.
"This Vulpix belongs to a friend of mine. It has the Drought ability, which produces similar effects to the power Sunny Day, but, rather than lasting for only a short while, it can last for the duration of the battle and begins when Vulpix is released from its pokeball. Other than Vulpix and its later evolution, Ninetales, the only pokemon known to possess this ability is the legendary pokemon, Groudon."
Airik gave it a few seconds for those in the audience to to hear what was being said and take it all in before carrying on. "And, if Vulpix or Ninetales is knocked out or withdrawn from battle, the effects of its Drought ability will carry on unless replaced by another weather condition."
Again, to prove his point, Airik reached out with the pokeball. "Vulpix, return." a beam of red light shot out of the pokeball and enveloped the fire type pokemon before it dissipated, leaving the Vulpix nowhere to be seen. "A Ninetales and a Cherrim make for a good partnership in double battles, with Ninetales' Drought ability bringing out the sun and boosting its own fire type attacks while Cherrim's Flower Gift activates in the sun, boosting both of their special defence and physical attack. Cherrim makes an excellent support pokemon, able to learn moves such as Heal Pulse, Aromatherapy, and Solarbeam, which is a powerful attack that normally requires time to recharge. However, in sunny conditions, it negates that requirement. Ninetales provides the power in the form of doubly boosted fire type attacks. A good all around pokemon and boasting a large move pool, trainers considering this combination should consider teaching it Flame Charge and Flare Blitz, which are both useful physical fire attacks. Flame Charge will actually boost Ninetales' speed, while Flare Blitz does an incredible amount of damage when boosted in the sun, with the damage going even higher with Cherrim's Flower Gift".
Airik took a deep breath before returning Cherrim to its pokeball. "Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the first part of the lecture. We will have a half an hour break before we conclude.” Airik left the stage and re-entered the nondescript room. He slouched down into the chair, enjoying being out of the spotlight and on his own for a few moments.