A few quick notes
Proving a Theory
The desert sand whipped up into Dirk's face, a few grains getting into his mouth before he was able to shut it. Worse was the stinging of his cheeks. Whilst the sunglasses protected his eyes, he was having far more trouble with the sand rubbing him raw as it was blown over his face.
Once again yanking the collar of his thin, cream shirt up to protect him as much as possible, Dirk refocussed on what he was doing. His tall, slim frame was curled up tightly, face not far from the floor as he used a small brush to gently push away sand from his area of focus. A small plate, covered with inscriptions.
Whilst every gust of wind covered the plate with a thin layer of sand again Dirk was meticulous. He has learned patience whilst working as a research scientist in the University of Slateport. Although he had packed in his work with the university a month back he still had the outlook of a scientist – patient and methodical.
These were skills that were standing him in good stead in his new 'career'. Dirk was teaching himself the basics of archaeology, having already completed a degree in Ancient History as a 'sideline' whilst a research scientist.
Which is why Dirk was in the desert at all. He had a theory, and he wanted to prove it.
Night was starting to set in. The once stifling heat of the day already chilling, soon it would be very cold in the open desert – and Dirk's cold weather gear was back at his base camp. But there was one benefit to the failing light; Shade would be more comfortable.
Dirk reached down to his thin, brown leather belt and removed the one full sized Pokeball that was attached. Pressing the large button on the ball a thin beam of light shot out. From the beam a shape materialised and then filled out, forming into a Duskull.
“Duuu-skuuulll” it said seemingly happy to be out, though it's skull like face was almost impossible to read. It started zipping around in the dusk air, enjoying the open space.
Another gust of wind whipped in, causing Dirk to turn his face in the opposite direction to avoid another mouthful of sand. Shade, however, had no such problems – the sand passing straight through the ghost Pokemon.
“We're getting there”, Dirk said to Shade as he looked back down to the plate, “I have the impression of all that is written here. Tonight we'll be able to translate it and see if my theory was correct”.
Shade nodded and started circling Dirk's head.
“Cut it out”, Dirk laughed, trying to be serious and failing “Time to pack up our stuff and get back, I'm sure you're hungry”.
Shade again nodded it's skull face, which took up a good half of the front of the Pokemon – the bright white of it's face almost glowing eerily against the dull grey of it's ghost like body.
Dirk finished packing up the small number of tools he had been using, carefully placing them into his khaki backpack. Slinging it over his shoulder he set off over the top of the nearest sand dune, starting on the 5 minute walk back to base camp and the night of translation he had ahead of him.
The candles filled the large frame tent with an eerie, flickering light. Dirk was sat on a large backed canvass travel chair, elbows resting on the fold up desk, absorbed in a book. Every now and again he would open another book to cross reference something, or scribble a few notes in a notebook.
From outside of then tent there was the occasional crash, or the sound of a spray of sand hitting the tent walls. This was from Shade training on it's own out in the cold desert night.
A particularly loud crash caught Dirks attention. For a second he looked like he was about to lose his temper then, as quick as it came, the tension seemed to drain from his face.
He stood up, stretching his long thin frame out – fighting the stiffness of hours of static work. Unzipping the door of the tent he stepped out onto the sand of the desert.
“How's it going Shade”? Dirk asked
The ghost Pokemon simply looked up, nodded it's skull and went back to what it was doing. Dirk watched in awe as Shade flipped a full 360 in the air and as it levelled out fired off a quick will-o-wisp, hitting a sand dune a full 20 yards away.
“Wow”, said Dirk “I'm impressed – that's some real power you've got there”.
Shade floated over to Dirk and nodded it's skull again, looking, as much as the skull faced Pokemon could look anything, proud of itself.
It was moments like these that Dirk missed being able to talk to Shade. Back at the University Dirk had access to all of the Uni's Pokemon – including their Psychic types. Whilst not all could do it, there are a number of psychic type Pokemon were able to understand the thoughts of humans and Pokemon alike and, as such, were able to act as a bridge to be able to chat with other Pokemon.
As soon as he had left the University Dirk had promised Shade that he would look for another psychic type, in order to help them communicate. The problem was his research had led him down other paths. Dirk looked down at his feet, shame washing through him.
Whilst he had left the University to pursue his own interest in History part of the deal he had made with Shade was that they would also work at increasing in power as well – Shade wanted to be able to challenge some Pokemon gyms. Dirk had promised to help Shade with that, but had failed to hold up his end of the bargain.
“I'm sorry Shade. I promise you as soon as I am able to find what I am looking for we can head back to Hoenn and get some training done. I'm nearly there, if I'm reading the translations right then I should be done in just a few days”.
Shade slightly shook it's head at Dirk and drifted away, getting back to it's training. Dirk, head downcast, shoulders slumped, trudged back into the tent to continue his translation work.
It was evening again in the desert, two days on from Dirk's exciting find of the plate and he was starting to get exasperated. The texts that he had so painstakingly translated told him that the ruins of the old civilisation should be there. But he couldn't find anything.
The occasional scrap metal piece was enough to help sustain his interest but he couldn't find anything conclusive – and certainly not the large scale ruins that he was hoping to find hidden beneath the sand.
Dirk sat upright from his kneeling position in the sand and reached up and wiped his brow with his wrist.
'At least the heat is dying down' he thought. Absent mindedly he reached down to his belt, pulled out the Pokeball attached to it and released Shade into the evening air.
“Let me know if you spot anything I miss” Dirk said to the ghost Pokemon, before bending over again and digging into the sand with his small hand shovel in a manner rather more aggressive than is usually taught to archaeologist students.
Evening gradually turned to night and Dirk was again left with the frustration of not finding anything when Shade became very animated. Flying swiftly over to just above Dirk's shoulder he started circling quickly whilst gesturing at the sand.
Dirk squinted at the floor – his night time vision being nothing like as acute as the nocturnal Pokemon's. But when looking carefully he could see what Shade saw as well. It looked to be the corner of a box, poking out of the sand slightly to the left of where he had been digging. The sliding of sand into the hole he had been creating most have revealed it, but the darkness of the incoming night had hidden it from his eyes.
“Great work Shade” Dirk said whilst reaching into his backpack to find the right tool.
The uncovering of a find like this required finesse and careful work. So Dirk selected the brush out of his bag and set to work, slowly, inch by inch, brushing the sand off the box and revealing it to his gaze.
The box was made of a very solid material. It looked like wood but the feel of it was more solid, and given how long it had survived in the sand probably more durable. The lid was covered in ornate carvings depicting a scene of children playing in a field.
It was also considerably bigger than he first thought. A little over a metre long and half a metre wide, it was obviously a piece that was created for a reason.
Dirk's pulse started racing, he could feel his heart going a mile a minute. He was again forced to wipe his brow to clear it from sweat, even though the desert night had turned decidedly chilly. This was the find he had been waiting for.
Dirk ran his fingers along the box, reverently examining the feel of it. Carefully he bent over double, wanting a better look at it. He shone a torch as he closely examined the box. Running his fingers all around the box he discovered something he should have expected if his mind had been working properly. A latch.
Desperate to learn the secrets of the box as quickly as possible Dirk flicked the latch and slowly, carefully, lifted the lid, not daring to consider what treasures might be in there.
There were no treasures of the traditional variety, but there was a very intricately carved toy doll with a spinning top like base. Dirk had never seen workmanship like it in all his life, it looked almost life like, like it could rise up at any moment.
Which it did.
Dirk fell backwards to the sand with a thump as the doll raised itself up into the air. Levitating itself into an upright position about a metre off the floor the doll spun around on the spot, as if taking everything in.
“Baaallll-Toy” it said
Dirk looked at it in wonder. A real Baltoy from thousands of years ago. He had heard of these Pokemon in his research. They were very old creatures for the most part, able to teach researchers a lot about times past. And he had found one just where he had expected to find a ruined civilisation. The possibilities ran through Dirk's mind quickly before he remembered that Baltoy was a psychic type.
“We don't want to hurt you”, he said outloud to the Baltoy.
The Baltoy spun on it's access so that it was facing Dirk, it's glowing red eyes looking at him menacingly.
“We want to help you”, Dirk said again, nervously “the time of your people passed many centuries ago. This is a new time for you, and we want to help you”. Dirk vaguely remembered a conversation with an archaeologist who had caught a Baltoy and who had informed Dirk that getting your message across was the best way of ensuring it worked with you.
This Baltoy had different ideas.
The glow from it's red eyes intensified and all of sudden Dirk found himself rising up in the air, before being flung head first into a dune ten yards away.
Pulling his head from the dune, spluttering sand everywhere, Dirk saw Shade leap into action to defend him.
Baltoy started floating towards him but shade intercepted the toy looking Pokemon, facing it down. Again the eyes of the Baltoy started to intensify in their glow, but before it could unleash the move the Duskull struck out with a move of it's own – a dark cloud enveloped the Baltoy, causing the light in it's eyes to dim back to normal.
The Baltoy looked to be struggling to get it's move going again when Dirk realised what must of happened – Shade had landed a disable that was stopping Baltoy's psychic attacks.
“Good stuff”, Dirk said to Shade “now hit it with astonish”
Shade faded from view, there one moment, gone the next. The Baltoy started spinning, trying to find it. But despite it's efforts to be constantly spinning the Duskull appeared behind where the Baltoy was, reached out with it's two ghostly arms and grabbed the other Pokemon's head, darkness flowing from the hands of the ghost Pokemon into the head of the Baltoy.
The Baltoy spun away from Shade, but looked visibly shaken.
“Quick”, Dirk commanded from his position kneeling in the sand “use Payback”
But the Baltoy had now recovered. The sand around it started to shake and from below the sand four large blocks of rock rose up in the air as if lifted by an invisible crane. They paused for a moment, hovering menacingly, before being sent flying forwards at great pace, aimed right at Shade.
Shade flew straight up in an effort to get out of the way, and managed to escape two of the boulders. But the other, higher two hit the Ghost Pokemon square on. Whilst they passed right through him they obviously caused a fair amount of pain as well.
Then Shade seemed to suck what little light was left in the night desert air into itself, causing the darkness to swell. The Duskull seemed to swell in size and power, before it lashed out at the Baltoy, the darkness physically sending the ancient Pokemon flying, crashing into the sand dune barely 5 yards from Dirk.
Dirk reached down to his belt and grabbed an empty Pokeball. Pressing the button to cause it to grow from miniature to full size he quickly took aim and threw. The ball struck the Baltoy full on before bouncing into the air. As it reached the zenith of the bounce a thin red beam shot out and enveloped the Baltoy, shrinking it and dragging it into the ball itself.
The ball closed just before it hit the sand, shaking on the spot, red light flashing. Had Dirk caught a Pokemon that would help him with his research AND allow him to again talk to Shade?