It was a quiet day in Oldale Town. The houses were usually filled with the whistle of air passing through them, and the clamor of breakfast being prepared for aspiring young trainers. Saul was one such trainer.
On a typical day, the crow of Taillow would awake the denizens of Oldale. On this day, however, the sun wasn’t bright. In fact, the sun was out of sight, hidden among the towering trees that bordered the town.
What instead woke Saul was the howl of Poochyena. He yawned and stretched his arms as he looked out of his window. Sure enough, two of the Dark-type Pokémon were perched atop the tin roof of the house adjacent to his. Usually, this wouldn’t be possible, because the metal roofs on Oldale’s houses baked under the sun’s rays, making them unbearably hot to the touch. He blinked and realized that it was the middle of the night, and that the light filtering into his room came from a full moon.
Instead of shooing away the noisy Pokémon, Saul folded his arms across the windowsill and rested his head as he listened to them moan their salutations. It was more of a guilty pleasure, however, as the house beneath them was where his best friend lived. She had a big exam tomorrow, and her deprived sleep would invariably cause her to lose concentration.
What really concerned Saul was for what reason the Poochyena were howling? He had lived in the town for many a year and not once had a Pokémon sang to a full moon. He wondered if the Poochyena were wild, or if they meant to cause such unrest.
One of the Poochyena was noticeably bigger than the other. Saul guessed that he was teaching his younger friend to howl. The coarse notes seemed to come fluidly to the larger Pokémon, while the smaller one was obviously forcing every bark, however mild. The two melodies clashing sounded like a badly written composition, with a violinist scraping a series of dead scores. While saw thought it was cringe-worthy, it was fascinating to see nature at work.
In the morning, Saul slept in because of the lack of sleep the howling had caused. He was awoken by his own Taillow, who had somehow managed to find its way out of its Poké Ball and peck him on the shoulder. When Saul finally rose, the Taillow cocked its head toward his bedroom door, where he could hear his father calling, “Saul! Get down here! Breakfast is ready!”
Not wanting to waste any time, Saul silently threw his blanket off the bed and silently hopped off. He instantly felt a chill sting his bare feet. “Darn it,” he thought. “I forgot to close the window last night.” He walked over to the windowsill and carefully slid the glass down…
“It’s morning! Saul, come eat!” His mother’s even more powerful voice echoed down the hallway and caused Saul to flinch. He quickly shut the window, and one last gust of cold air stung his face and he about-faced and sprinted down the hallway.
“Saul!” This time both of his parents yelled. He skidded outside the doorway and the scent of Chansey egg blow against him softly. He drooled a bit when he saw the plates set on the table. At each seat, there was a large platter with a sizable meal on it. Scrambled Chansey egg, sliced Farfetch’d leek and a wedge of Miltank cheese decorated the porcelain dish, along with a healthy pile of Grumpig bacon. Saul’s father firmly believed that breakfast was the most important meal of the day.
“Saul, dear,” his mother said, sitting at a chair next to him. “Later today, your father would like to talk to you in front of Route 102.”
His father often had these lessons with him. Saul’s father used to be a Gym Leader, and he expected his son to eventually follow in his footsteps and master Flying-type Pokémon, just as he had. Saul didn’t mind Flying-types much, and his own Pokémon, Foghorn, was a Flying-type. Foghorn was a Taillow, and he had given it this nickname because of the booming noise it made when surprised, similar to the loud horn on a steamboat.
Saul shrugged and nodded. It would be good for him to get some more training in. Ever since he had been humiliatingly defeated by his best friend and rival May, he had only wanted to become stronger. Becoming a Gym Leader like his father seemed like the right path for him.
He noticed that his father was already slipping into his leather coat and shoes. His plate had already been cleared. Saul knew that on mornings like this, his father had something big in store. He quickly finished his meal and bound back into his room to change.
Saul’s father stood before him, knee-deep in the tall grass. In his hand was a Poké Ball, shining red like a Cheri Berry. The former Gym Leader thrust his arm back and then forward, opening up his gloved hand and releasing the Poké Ball from his grasp. It clapped the ground, sending a spray of dirt up and the capsule itself opened. From it came a shining white light, and then before Saul stood a mighty Fearow. The impressive Pokémon began preening its feathers nonchalantly while shifting one eye towards Saul, watching him carefully. This was proper throwing technique; Saul had learned this month’s before. Yet each time his father tossed a Poké Ball, it seemed more and more impressive to him.
They went through some basic training exercises, with Saul’s Foghorn copying the moves of the larger Flying-type, just as the two Dark-types had conducted their lesson. Saul wondered how Foghorn felt, with each of its moves hailing in comparison to what might be its forever superior.
Eventually, Saul’s father raised his hand, to which Fearow closed its wings and stood next to him. Saul began to look more and more excited as his father did these familiar movements: they were going to battle! Eventually, the Flying-type master released a second Poké Ball. Coming from it was a Doduo, standing strong and true against the wind, which was getting colder by the second. Saul raised an eyebrow. His father only used Doduo to travel back and forth between the other towns.
Sure enough, before Saul could recall Foghorn, his father and his mighty Flying-type Pokémon had already begun pelting through Route 2, kicking up the crisp and straight grass along the side of the dirt path. Saul instinctively began running, and he could tell that his father was slowing down so that he could follow along.
Right as they reached where the trees parted and Petalburg City was in sight, Saul found himself wading through some tall grass. His father beckoned to him urgently, knowing what happens in tall grass. Saul pushed very hard, with his feet becoming stiff and his face becoming red, but he could not gain much ground in the swamp of verdure. This is where he would have his first wild Pokémon battle.
It all happened so quickly. The Poochyena bared its teeth and growled, and even though it was much smaller than the others, Saul did feel a pang of fear go through him. He quickly unclipped the Poké Ball containing Foghorn and let it slide off of his wrist in a fluid motion. His father looked impressed as the healthy Flying-type let itself free from the Ball. Saul followed through.
Foghorn focused its energy, looking for all of its target’s weak points so that it could use them to its advantage. Eventually, the TinySwallow Pokémon leaped from its perch and flew towards the Poochyena in a diving Peck attack.
However, Poochyena was quick on the draw as well. He leapt sideways as if parallel parking, avoiding the attack and causing Foghorn’s beak to drive itself into the ground. Seeing an opportunity to set up, Poochyena used Howl.
Unfortunately for Saul, the poor Dark-type hadn’t improved much. The coarse whistle made him cover his ears, and after another moment, drop to his knees. Foghorn was slowly digging itself out of the packed earth, but not as fast as it could of. It was sitting at the front row of a badly written composition. Saul commanded it to strike once more, and little by little, the small Pokémon began working its way out of the dirt. This gave Poochyena enough time for a Tackle. It faced Foghorn and bared its fangs.
Saul’s father yelled, “Quick Attack!”
Saul lit up and nodded. He pointed at the Poochyena, but Foghorn didn’t need a reminder. The TinySwallow Pokémon shot up from the ground like a bullet, kicking up dust everywhere. In the confusion, Poochyena threw itself into the air, missing its target and leaving itself vulnerable for a moment. With the same missile-like speed, Foghorn dove into the Bite Pokémon. The Quick Attack hit its mark, leaving an obviously big dent in Poochyena’s defenses. Saul was smiling like a Chansey, but his father’s expression was much more anxious. Saul’s quickly shifted in the same direction as he turned his gaze to where his father was looking, frightened.
There was the larger Poochyena, up to its glaring yellow eyes in tall grass, despite the fact that it was standing erect on all four legs. Saul quickly analyzed that he had left Foghorn’s defense open with the powerful Quick Attack. It wasn’t long before the larger Pokémon had pinned down the poor Flying-type and was preparing one last Bite move. Saul’s father saw an opportunity that would have been impossible for Saul himself to spot, and rose a Poké Ball. “Hey, Poochyena! Look over here!”
This fooled the Dark-type for a moment, causing it to look over at the man. This gave Foghorn just enough time to slip from its grasp and back into the air, where it would be safe. Saul would have acknowledged his father’s cleverness, but now the battle was really thickening. Both Poochyena were now attacking his beloved Taillow. Considering the fact that Foghorn could hardly fly because of its weakened defenses, it wouldn’t be much longer before one of the Bite Pokémon snagged it in its fangs. Saul decided to go for the smaller Dark-type, since it would have a lower Attack stat. This soon proved to be incorrect.
“Saul, what are you doing?” His father was waving his arms frantically. “With that Howl boost, that Poochyena will tear your weakened Pokémon to pieces!”
Saul had forgotten about this. However horrible the screeching noise was, it increased the bravado of these roughs. Before he could call back his beloved Pokémon, the now-stronger Poochyena launched a Tackle. It hit the Taillow in full, causing in to spin and hit the ground in a dangerous dive.
Foghorn’s expression was pained, and Saul knew that it could only have a splinter of health left. He looked up at his father, who was shaking his head. Oh, how he hated himself now! There wasn’t anything that the two Trainers could do to stop the final blow…
But it didn’t come. The Poochyena merely stood over the wounded Flying-type, making some light growling noises as if waiting for approval from its master. “What is this?” Saul thought. “Some kind of game?” It kept one paw down on Foghorn, as if it could tell that it wasn’t completely finished. The larger Poochyena could tell as well. He howled ferociously, and Saul knew that he was going to strike the finishing hit.
Abruptly, it stopped howling and started glowing. Saul was shocked. The menacing Bite Pokémon had turned a light shade of red, and seemed to radiate anger as it took a step closer to Foghorn. “It’s using Frustration,” Saul muttered, watching his only Pokémon struggle to get out of the way of what could be its last battle. Then it seemed as if the weights balancing on his neck were lightened.
The smaller Poochyena was now standing erect, just as its elder was. It had turned a light shade of blue, and was slowly approaching the larger of its kind, who suddenly appeared a lot smaller to Saul. Both Bite Pokémon broke into a run, and Saul realized that this wasn’t about Foghorn anymore. It was about honor. It wasn’t long before the two Pokémon had collided, the two bodies of energy screaming against each other, but Saul knew the Frustration would be more powerful. There were both having trouble controlling their anger.
Suddenly, the unspeakable happened. Foghorn had got up! In spite of the painful wounds it had already received from the battle, it wasn’t done yet. Saul saw it charge up one last attack, one that would take all of the remaining hitpoints it had. He crossed his fingers. His father probably did as well.
Meanwhile, the two energies were still at war, both of them trying to dominate the seemingly endless battle. The larger and more powerful Poochyena was now going all out, and the poor smaller one struggled to withstand the power thrown against it all at once. Just then, Foghorn threw itself across the field at a speed that neither human could comprehend and latched itself onto the large Dark-type with its beak. Its wings began glowing, and it started to puncture its enemy repeatedly. Saul suddenly realized its genius. It was using Endeavour.
As soon as the weakened Taillow was finished slaving away, the once mighty Poochyena’s health had been reduced to a near-zero point. The smaller Poochyena saw this as a chance to strike, and rammed his poor mentor in a full-body Return attack.
Saul was amazed. The once-hostile Bite Pokémon had turned against its rude master and saved Foghorn from what could have been its destruction. Its blue aura dissipated, and before Saul stood two Poochyena, one healthy and one fainted. He looked at the victor, and it was smiling.
So was his father.
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