Pokémon being captured: Abra, Glameow and Shroomish.
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Hi. This is a story which is pretty much based on the games of DPPt, except I have changed a good deal of it myself and introduced some other elements. This is probably going to be a multi-chapter story -- that’s how it’s intended to be, anyway, but I might get lazy. The two protagonists, Lassie and Leroy, are based on Dawn and Barry respectively. Their friendship is probably going to turn to romance at one point since I do ship DawnxBarry (SHUT UP), and I have no idea about the ‘mons I’m going to catch in each chapter. IT WILL BE SPONTANEOUS. As I once told a good friend Scourgenose, spontaneity is great.
CHAPTER ONE: ON A ROAD FAR FROM HOME.
“Pokémon are by our sides, always. I hope you understand the meaning of those words.”
A girl sat cross-legged on her bed, opposite her television, as the conclusive words marked the end of the television programme -- presented by Professor Rowan of Sinnoh, of course. Her jet-black hair was long, but cut into a choppy style. Towards the top of her skull part of her hair was curled around her head like a circlet, pink clips holding it in place at either temple. A white and pink hat was pulled down over her head, a black tank top hanging from her shoulders. She wore a light pink skirt, creased around the bottom, with matching boots. Her stormy grey eyes glinted with the artificial light from the television as she considered those final words.
A round-headed, blue creature sat beside her in a similar fashion. However, upon the end of the programme, he stood up proudly and placed his flippers on his hip. He exclaimed proudly, “Pip!”
“I suppose he’s right, isn’t he, Piplup?” the girl conceded. “I mean, you only came to me a while ago, but you’ve always been by my side since then. I think there’s a little more to it than that, though. Maybe I’ll figure it out when we get on our adventure. Where is Leroy? He was supposed to be here ages ago!” She had her backpack ready, almost bursting with everything she’d need for her adventure -- but with some space left for what Professor Rowan had promised them when they got to Sandgem Town. He hadn’t said what, but she thought it prudent to leave space for whatever it could be.
Sweeping her legs from the bed, she pushed herself onto her feet and sprung off the mattress, taking up her backpack and slinging it over one shoulder. Obviously, her best friend Leroy was going to take far too long to get ready -- it was time to get going, and he was late as it was. At this rate, they wouldn’t arrive until next week. Pulling her door open, she was greeted by an orange blur, barrelling into her and knocking her to the ground. Something heavy fell on top of her.
“About -- about time, Leroy,” she gasped, a little winded. A little sheepishly, her friend stood up. With a grin, he extended a hand and helped her up. While he dusted himself off, flicking his hands, she looked him over -- he had at least some sort of dress sense. He had thrown on an orange-and-white striped jacket, wrapped a green scarf carelessly around his neck, stuck on an old pair of denim jeans and a pair of brown shoes. His satchel was slung similarly over one shoulder, mirroring her own backpack. Catching her eye with his own amber, he tousled his blonde, unruly hair, and gave her another grin.
“No need to stare, Lassie!” he joked. “Sorry I’ve been so long -- my mum was fussing over me a bit, saying how much she’d miss me and all that. She even started crying, so I had to calm her down. How’s your mum been about our adventure?”
“She’s been fine -- she loves the idea that I get to go around the region on my own, getting Pokémon and battling. She was a trainer too, once, so she knows what it’s like. Said she was pleased for me,” Lassie replied. Her tone clearly said she didn’t want to say too much more about it -- Leroy got the feeling that, although her mother might be pleased for Lassie, Lassie was probably not too pleased to be leaving her mother. He shrugged a little, and then gestured for her to follow a little impatiently, like it was her who’d been taking all this time. Rolling her eyes, Lassie followed, descending the staircase. Before they left the house, Lassie took a moment to breathe in that smell of home -- the spiced apple air freshener her mum had always bought, mingling with the warm cookies that were baked every other afternoon. Then she stepped out of doors.
“The first step of many,” Lassie murmured. Twinleaf Town, where she lived, was a rather small settlement with only a few houses scattered around -- it was supposedly the most sparsely populated town in Sinnoh, aside from some place like Solaceon Town. Piplup trailed behind the two of them as both Lassie and Leroy stepped off the veranda simultaneously, their shoes crunching on the gravel path as they began their walking. The sun was still high, promising a pleasant day for travelling, the air clear and fresh. As they walked, they saw several of their neighbours, who waved cheerfully -- everyone knew they were setting off on an adventure today. Most of them had seen off a lot of trainers from Twinleaf.
They passed onto Route 201 in no time. From here, it was an hour or two’s journey to Sandgem Town -- they’d arrive sometime that afternoon. Lassie didn’t particularly like walking, but Leroy was acting like it was some sort of competition -- he raced off as soon as they met the path like a speed demon, leaving Lassie trundling a few paces behind him. Energetic as he was, he’d probably keep up this pace all day -- he was a very impatient sort of person. She knew that having him as a travelling companion would be a bit of a pain, but she didn’t really want to go without someone else. She had Piplup, of course, but there was something different about having another person with her... about having Leroy with her.
Thinking on it, she was luckier than most trainers. She was not alone.
It was about two o’clock in the afternoon when they arrived in the larger Sandgem Town. Lassie’s legs were aching from the constant walking, and she was exhausted from her efforts -- at this rate, it seemed that she wasn’t going to be a very good traveller. She supposed that, after a few days, she’d get used to it and become stronger, but she didn’t like to struggle through things, especially if they were painful for her. She could feel blisters on the soles of her feet, and she winced with every step -- and although Leroy was trying to pretend he wasn’t sore or tired, he was panting and not keeping up his normal pace. Lassie noted with a satisfied smirk that he was limping. He wasn’t any tougher than she was.
Before seeking out Professor Rowan’s laboratory, both of them, by unspoken consent, collapsed upon a wooden bench near a signpost, reading, “Sandgem Town: Town of Sand!” It seemed like a sort of obvious name to Lassie, but she decided not to comment on it out loud. Red-faced, she concentrated on mainly steadying her breathing -- Leroy seemed to have the same thoughts, as he was doing next to nothing. Piplup was the only one who was eager to keep going, like the long walk hadn’t affected him at all. Puffing out his chest proudly, he pointed further down the path with a flipper in an attempt to urge them to keep going.
“In a bit, Piplup,” Lassie said in reply, clearly exasperated. The thing she least wanted to do was move on. Taking some water from the side pocket of her backpack, she took a long drink from it. When she offered it to Leroy, he nodded and similarly took a drink from it, leaving the bottle only half-full. Lassie took it back from him gingerly, depositing it in her backpack once more. They sat together under the glare of the afternoon sun for a good half-hour on the bench, not saying anything, but they eventually decided it was time to move on. Although Sandgem wasn’t large, it was definitely a bit bigger than Twinleaf, but Piplup led them through the town confidently, obviously knowing where he was going.
“Seems like he knows his way,” Leroy said simply, in an attempt to strike up conversation.
“Well, I guess he used to live here before I got him,” Lassie replied. “Y’know, when Rowan had him. His lab isn’t that hard to spot, anyway -- it’s supposed to be the biggest building in Sandgem.”
“Is that right?” Leroy said, his tone mildly interested. “So, I suppose it would be like this building right in front of us?”
Lassie looked in front of herself -- she hadn’t been paying much attention to her surroundings. She’d mostly been watching her feet for the journey to the lab, somehow finding a way to follow without watching. However, it seemed that it really was Rowan’s lab: it was far larger than the other buildings in the area -- although it wasn’t hard, considering that most of them were quite small -- with a metal door, russet bricks and a grey-slate roof. It was strangely dome-shaped, though, leaving Lassie to wonder how they’d got the bricks and cement to make that shape. Leroy yanked open the door and hauled Lassie inside with him, Piplup dashing in before either of them got a chance to move.
On the inside, the place was a mess -- random paper sheets were everywhere, with muffin wrappers and mugs left lying on the counters. A few computers and laptops were showing their screensavers, and there were only three people in there -- one, a short woman, was sitting at a counter, her hair pulled tightly back into a bun. She was writing furiously on a sheet, while one of her colleagues, a middle-aged man with a scruffy black beard and enormous spectacles, tapped away at a computer. However, the man who they had came to see was building some sort of machine, but he quickly covered it up again when he heard footsteps with a large tablecloth before either Leroy or Lassie could catch a glimpse of it.
Professor Rowan whirled on his heels to face them, probably expecting someone entirely different, as his expression was hostile when they first saw his lined face. His bushy eyebrows raised, his mood seeming to change entirely as his face visibly brightened. He cracked a smile, and held out his arms in a welcoming gesture as the two approached.
“Aha! Welcome, welcome. I’m glad you found your way here,” he greeted, letting his arms drop. He was a man clearly in his sixties, judging by his withered-looking skin and his untidy white hair and moustache -- and a little on the portly side, too. “Well, I don’t suppose you know what exactly you’re here for, do you?”
“No, sir,” Lassie admitted, biting her lip. She looked at him a little meekly, intimidated by his aura of authority and the fact he was quite a bit bigger than she herself was. She felt a little disappointed whenever she had to answer him negatively.
“Perfectly all right, my dear girl. Oh, and there’s Piplup! He looks quite happy. It seems that entrusting you with that Pokémon wasn’t a mistake after all! My, my. I’m a little shocked to see how there’s a bond growing already between you two. Oh, Leroy, you’re here too! How’s Chimchar?” Leroy mumbled a response, and Professor Rowan continued on cheerfully, “Yes, good, good. You know, when I first saw you two about to step into the tall grass, I was appalled. You should have known better than to risk your own necks. I had doubts -- serious doubts -- about whether giving you those Pokémon was for the best. If you placed yourself in danger like that, could you really have been responsible for the safety of another?”
Rowan let the words sink in for a moment. “Well, now you’ve surprised me in an entirely different way. I can see that you’re being conscientious trainers -- how else would this bond be growing? It may be in minute steps, but I know that you’re all going to get along just fine. I really shouldn’t have worried! Cherish your Pokémon, for they are sometimes the only friends we have. Um... let’s move on to the main topic. There’s something that I want you two to help me out with. As you know, I’m Professor Rowan -- I study Pokémon, basically. The task that you must do for me... I want to know about all the different kinds of Pokémon in Sinnoh. That is why I’m going to give you these!”
He rummaged about in his lab coats’ pockets for a moment, before bringing out two rectangular devices, both the same shade of vibrant red. He handed them out, allowing Lassie and Leroy to examine them while he explained. “These are Pokédexes. They are powerful, intelligent pieces of technology that will record information on every single Pokémon you encounter and capture when you’re on your journey. I ask that you both go and meet every kind of Pokémon in this region. It won’t be an easy trip, but you’re both probably competent enough to do it, and I’m a patient man. How do you feel when you’re with Pokémon? It’s a thrill, right?”
“Right,” Leroy agreed enthusiastically. Professor Rowan’s eloquence was certainly exciting him somewhat -- he looked about ready to take a bullet for the old man.
“Then you should know that there’re countless thrills out there, just waiting for you. I have Plato waiting for you on Route 202 -- he’ll give you your Poké Balls, so you can start capturing Pokémon whenever you’d like. Now go, both of you! A big adventure awaits you, and who knows what’s in store?” Professor Rowan gave them both a quizzical look before ushering them out, Piplup tailing them in hot pursuit.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Leroy’s tone was uncertain. “This Platty--”
“Plato,” Lassie corrected absent-mindedly. The two of them were strolling down another dirt path, surrounded by grass and trees. They had left Sandgem Town almost immediately, setting off on Route 202 in order to meet Professor Rowan’s personal assistant -- and, of course, because it was the only way to get to Jubilife. Although Lassie was still pained as she walked due to the blisters, she found strength in the prospect of Poké Balls, so she walked without complaint.
“Right. Well, he sounds sort of shady to me. I don’t trust him,” he decided. Lassie rolled her eyes -- Leroy didn’t even know the boy, and he was already making predictions on everything, ranging from his hair colour to his darkest secrets. Lassie was already tired of it, and they hadn’t been walking for very long. She was just about ready to floor him, when she spotted someone on a grassy knoll in the distance. As they moved closer, she began to pick out his features -- he was a little taller than the both of them, and he wore a dark red cap over a tuft of hair, the exact same shade of black as her own. He had a long, pointed nose and an angular jaw. Once he recognised them, he gave a roguish smile and beckoned them on.
Once they’d gotten close enough, he greeted them both. “Professor Rowan let me know you’d be along soon. You haven’t kept me waiting too long, don’t worry.” He had an air of self-importance, and he spoke with a snobbish tone. “I suppose I should give you these Poké Balls.” He reached deeply into his pockets, and his hands came up with miniaturised red-and-white spheres -- five in each outstretched palm. He picked one up to demonstrate how to transform it to its full-size, pressing the button in the middle. The capture device he was holding swelled up, forcing the other four from his left hand. Leroy stooped to pick them from the floor, offering them back to Plato.
“No, no,” Plato refused pompously. “They’re for you, after all.” He dumped the enlarged Poké Ball into Leroy’s hand, then gave those in his right hand to Lassie. Both newbie trainers deposited their new possessions into their bags. Then, they stared at Plato for a little, expecting him to say something else. Lassie coughed uncomfortably into the silence.
“What d’you expect me to say? I’m the Professor’s assistant, not someone here to offer advice. Clear off -- I’ve got more important things to be dealing with.” Plato, his eyebrows arched, pushed through both of them and stalked off into the distance. Leroy gave a low whistle, surprised by Plato’s reaction to them both.
“That was pleasant,” Lassie stated simply, shrugging.
“Incredibly camp, wasn’t he?” Both of them burst out laughing, setting off once more on the dirt path. They both knew that they probably wouldn’t get to Jubilife until late that night, so they’d decided to go at their own pace to the City, instead of racing madly like they had on their way to Sandgem -- especially since they were not in the best condition. They mostly darted around the patches of long grass for fear of wild Pokémon, and Piplup was watching the trees for them -- for the wild ones were likely to jump out at any point. They had also taken steps to avoid the watchful eye of trainers, as they’d heard that any trainer they saw were likely to challenge them to a battle, which they were keen to evade. They could both hold their own quite well in a battle, but neither of them wanted the inconvenience of stopping to suit other people.
They stopped after a few solid hours of walking, clearly tired from their efforts. It was getting gradually darker now, the setting of the sun giving way to the rising of the moon as the stars grew more visible. The chill of night was beginning to creep into their bones, so they wandered off the path a little, setting up tents near the trees without too much fuss -- they’d been camping together before. Lassie charged Leroy with the task of gathering some firewood while she finished setting up their campsite, and he returned about ten minutes later with a small bundle.
“How are you going to light it, though?” Leroy asked, a quizzical expression crossing his face.
“Are you a Pokémon trainer or not? Call out your Chimchar, blockhead.” Lassie giggled slightly as she took the firewood, laying it down on the even terrain neatly. Leroy uncertainly lifted a Poké Ball from a place where he’d attached it to his belt. Pressing the button in the centre of the sphere, a white light shot to the floor beside Lassie. Out of the light materialised a primate. His light-skinned face was marred by an expression of loathing, and the flame at his backside was not roaring as Lassie would have expected it to be.
“Hi, Chimchar,” Leroy greeted his Pokémon meekly. “Could you light the fire for me, please?”
His response was a hateful look. The Chimp Pokémon simply sat down and stared at the unlit wood, now trying to simply ignore Leroy. His trainer tried several more times to coax him into lighting the fire, but Chimchar stubbornly kept staring at the firewood.
“Why is he like this?” Lassie asked quietly, trying not to offend Chimchar with her question.
Leroy shrugged. “He doesn’t like me. He’s been like that ever since I got him. It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to have a fire tonight. I’m not even hungry, anyway.” Miserably, Leroy shuffled off to his tent, leaving his Pokémon staring at the pile still. Piplup administered some harsh-sounding syllables to the monkey as well, before departing to Lassie’s tent. Lassie didn’t know what made Piplup react like that, but she was feeling morbid now that both her companions had left her -- and all she had with her right now was a Chimchar with attitude problems.
“It’s all right,” she told Leroy’s partner. “I know that you’re upset that you’re not with Professor Rowan any more, but it doesn’t help to be so mean to Leroy. He’s been wanting to be a trainer for a very long time, and you seem to be spoiling it for him. Give it a little thought next time he asks you to do something and you refuse like that. It’s bound to upset him, hm?”
Lassie also stood, stretching her legs a little before she retired to the tent, not even bothering to change. Her thoughts were confused, upset. Even though it had seemed simple, the level of hatred Chimchar had exhibited towards Leroy was profoundly more than it seemed to be. Lassie had guessed the cause, but she wasn’t sure if she was right or not. Only time could tell that now.
She sighed as she rolled onto her side, falling asleep to the sound of Piplup’s level breathing.
The steely light of dawn filtered through the fabric of the tent, the light stirring Leroy from his sleep. Wearily, he rubbed his eyes, yawning. Stretching without a noise, he noticed a Poké Ball beside where he had slept -- Chimchar’s. He grunted in disappointment, leaving the sphere lying there. He couldn’t tell what he had done wrong -- all he had tried to do was give the Fire-type the care and attention he needed, but he had been eschewed and apparently despised by the Pokémon. It wasn’t a good feeling at all. How was he even supposed to catch other Pokémon if his first didn’t obey him? How could he battle other trainers when he didn’t have a good relationship with his Pokémon? The questions buzzed like angry wasps around his head, stinging his waking mind.
“Lassie!” he called, climbing out of his tent. “Come on, it’s time to get up. We haven’t got that far left to go ‘til we get to Jubilife. It’ll be great!”
There was no response from Lassie. Leroy sighed, and stormed to her tent, yanking open the flap to it. He bellowed something incoherent as he stepped inside. Lassie sprung up immediately, and, probably without even thinking about it, punched Leroy square in the stomach. He doubled over, winded slightly.
“Oh, hi, Leroy!” Lassie said energetically. “Good morning, hey? Sorry I hit you -- it’s sort of a reflex action to loud noises before waking up fully. I’ve smashed so many alarm clocks before.” She looked thoughtful, but perfectly alert. The Chimchar situation was weighing just as heavily on her mind as it was on Leroy’s, but she was trying not to show it. Lassie looked Leroy over for a moment as he straightened back up. “Uh, Leroy,” she gagged, “maybe you should get dressed?”
Leroy looked over himself. He wasn’t entirely clothed, but it was the most comfortable way to sleep for him. He realised now that Lassie, who was very much a prude, would disapprove of his ‘pyjamas’. He made a mental note to get changed in the mornings before she saw him. Her eyes were averted now that she had seen what he was wearing, and so Leroy backed out of the tent quickly. A few minutes later, both of them were dressed in clean clothing, and they packed up the tents as swiftly as they had been set up. They were on the road once more in no time.
A conversation had been struck up. They spoke of the roads, and weather, and other trifling things. Leroy’s reactions were not great in the early hours of the morning, however, and he found himself being subject to strange looks from Lassie as he wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying. They passed most of the morning pleasantly, simply walking along. When they came to a wooden signpost pointing out that there was only a mile or so left until they arrived, Leroy went over to the signpost to rest for a moment, but ended up crashing down past the signpost.
He landed on something rather soft. It wasn’t the grass.
Suddenly, though, the mass beneath him disappeared, and he fell back fully on the grass. However, a fuzzy yellow creature materialised, hovering above his face. Even though its eyes were closed, it found Leroy’s face with its claws with surprising accuracy. Sharp material cut into his flesh, leaving him with deep gashes. Momentarily blinded with the pain, Leroy rolled to the side as the Abra made another attempt to slash at his face. He leapt from the grass and back onto the path beside Lassie. A very angry-looking Abra was hovering above the grass, looking in the direction of the two as if deciding what to do with those.
Why did you disturb my sleep? a voice rumbled in Leroy’s mind, carrying a dangerous edge to it.
“It was an accident, I swear!” Leroy promised, nodding furiously. Lassie, who had not heard Abra’s voice, looked a little confused -- she knew she was missing out on something.
Accident or not, you have angered me. I don’t let the likes of you get off easily. Abra raised both of its clawed hands into the air threateningly, and Leroy desperately flung Chimchar’s Poké Ball to the floor. The Chimp Pokémon’s figure appeared once more, but he promptly sat on the ground as soon as he was released, crossing his arms.
“Chimchar! Try a Scratch attack!” Leroy cried desperately, knowing Abra’s attack was impending. Chimchar, stony-faced, apparently did not hear. Abra began to weave some sort of purple energy from nowhere, the substance swirling around its claws. Once the energy fused into a singular orb, Abra fired it off towards Leroy, who neatly sidestepped it, alarmed. Why was a Pokémon attacking him? Blood poured freely from the three parallel gashes on his face, dripping to the path and splattering on the dirt.
“Use Piplup!” Lassie suggested frantically, and gestured for Piplup to jump to Leroy’s aid. The blue penguin-like Pokémon leapt in front of Leroy, and that was where Leroy really began to take command. Although he had not often had the opportunity to display his prowess in battle, Leroy had already picked up the basic skills, and he was confident he could take out this Psi Pokémon.
“All right, Piplup. Let’s start with a Pound attack!” Leroy issued. The blue penguin was already whirling through the air at top speed, the tips of one of his flippers glowing brightly. Piplup slammed his flipper into Abra’s stomach, the brute force shoving Abra back a few paces. It took on a faintly pained expression, before forming another of the purple orbs. Piplup landed on both feet neatly, standing still as he waited for Leroy’s next command. The purple orb, though, was fired off without much thought.
“Dodge it!” Piplup tensed his legs, waiting until the orb got close -- then, when it seemed about to hit, Piplup soared into the air once more, using the psychic field around the purple energy as a springboard. An excited command to use Peck was bellowed, and Piplup’s beak glowed white as he fell through the air. Turning it into a corkscrew descent to confuse the Abra further, Piplup was upon Abra in a few short moments. However, just before making contact, the Abra flickered and disappeared, reappearing a few metres away. Frustratingly, it let out a noise that sounded suspiciously like giggling.
The next time Abra formed a sphere, it scored a hit on the enthusiastic Penguin Pokémon. Wailing from the unexpected pain -- for Piplup was as yet unused to battling -- Piplup was shunted backwards by the energy before it dissipated. He dove to the ground as another sphere was shot in quick succession -- he couldn’t even recognise the move. Turning his dive into a roll, he sprung up from the ground as Leroy shouted, “Bubble!” A choking substance built up in Piplup’s throat until he couldn’t stand it any more. Releasing the substance as a forceful cluster of bubbles, they quickly hit the Abra, causing it more confusion than damage. It clearly didn’t know what to think.
“Use Peck once more!” Leroy cried, relying on Piplup’s not-too-expansive knowledge of moves. Piplup dove into Abra head-first, jabbing sharply at its body with his eerie beak. The glow subsided as the Abra tumbled from his hovering position, seemingly bested. Piplup, exhausted, tottered backwards to Leroy, panting from his effort. The Abra sat on the ground, equally tired. It hadn’t been a long battle, but it was clear that neither of them had the experience or power to have a fully-fledged battle. Leroy, glancing back at Lassie, saw her features were showing signs that she was impressed. Leroy felt a little smug about that -- the last time he had battled, it had been against her, and she had won.
Please... no more, the Abra begged, its voice sounding in Leroy’s mind. I was wrong to challenge you. Since you have bested me, do with me what you wish. You have displayed your power with another’s creature, and I must concede that you are impressive. I have been alone since I was born. Maybe... maybe you could consider making me a part of your team. I would certainly be better than that primate of yours. Its tone was disdainful as it mentioned Leroy’s Chimchar, who had simply observed the battle -- not watched, but looked at it with glazed eyes, like it was something he had been forced to do. Leroy realised with a start that this Pokémon was male from the sound of the voice -- not an ‘it’. It is my duty to submit to trainers who have proved their worth, but all have rejected me thus far.
“I will not,” Leroy vowed, his tone uncharacteristically serious. Though he could not explain it, the situation seemed somewhat archaic, like this had been preordained before either of them were born. Like a key to a lock, that vow seemed to make something click inside of him -- this was intensely right, somehow. He slowly dragged a Poké Ball from his satchel, and his aim was true as he flung it at the Abra. The capture device activating, the sphere fell to the ground as it absorbed the Abra in a flash of red light. The Poké Ball was still after a few moments.
On the outskirts Jubilife City, there was a small, ramshackle warehouse. No-one paid it any attention -- they thought it was just an abandoned building where a company had gone bankrupt. It was painted white, although some of the paint was peeling off in places. A sign that vaguely read ‘Solar Shipping’ hung haphazardly over the entrance -- half-closed, rusted shutters. Despite its shoddy exterior and harmless appearance, what was to be found inside was much the opposite. Men and women of various descriptions were walking on their business -- whatever it was -- and most seemed to be wearing a green bowl-cut wig and a spacesuit. These outlandish people were entirely silent, except for those who were not dressed like astronauts.
“Progress, Mars?” a man asked imperially. He stood behind the computer chair of the woman he was addressing, whose keyboard was clacking away incessantly. A few large screens were hung on the wall in front of the woman’s desk, all seeming to be monitoring various parts of Jubilife City and its surrounding routes. It seemed to be some sort of surveillance base. The red-haired woman looked indignantly behind her at the man.
“Don’t speak to me like that ever!” Mars commanded hotly, her voice rough. “Why don’t you mind your own business, Saturn? Cyrus charged you with your own task; I think you should be tending to that instead of bossing me around. If you really must know, everything is okay. Jubilife suspects nothing of us. Their Pokémon are disappearing and they can’t even think to check out the most shady place in the city!”
“Is there anyone coming to the city that we should worry about?”
“Team Galactic fears no man,” Mars declared automatically, like she had been trained to respond that way.
“That wasn’t what I meant. Stop being so ridiculous.”
“All right, all right. No, the routes around us are fairly clear today -- there’s two trainers coming up to us from Route 202. We can’t record sound with those cameras, so we don’t know what significance they could have. They don’t really look like they’ll be any trouble, however. I think they’re new trainers, anyway. I just watched one of them catch an Abra, and that was only his second Pokémon, from what it seemed -- he had to rely on a girl’s Piplup since his Chimchar was acting up. At least, that was all I could deduce about them.” Mars seemed a little indifferent, like she didn’t believe the two teenagers could be a threat.
“Keep an eye on them,” Saturn demanded in a tone that tolerated no objection. “Appearances are often deceiving.”
Muttering to herself at the way Saturn -- who had been promoted a long while after her -- treated her, Mars returned to her work, writing something unknown. Saturn swept away from her, feeling unwelcomed by Mars’ open contempt. He had an air of towering self-importance about him -- he had been insufferable in the eyes of everyone since his promotion to Commander. He was really only trying to help, though. He watched the others carefully, scrutinising everyone as he felt he should do.
Team Galactic, after all, had to maintain a certain standard, and their mission was far too complex to let anything go wrong.
It wasn’t much later after capturing Abra that Lassie and Leroy finally sighted Jubilife City. Both breathing sighs of relief, they walked at a leisurely pace to the entrance of the city. They stepped into the city boundaries lightly, absorbing the sights as they entered. This was the first major city they had visited in their lives, and so a lot of things were new to them -- of course, they recognised buildings like the Pokémart and the Pokémon Center, but there were many skyscrapers and tall buildings, as well as establishments of small and medium heights. There were wide buildings and narrow ones, with alleys, streets and paths interweaving them all. The sun was high in the sky at this hour, illuminating all the structures and lighting up the streets.
They were famished from all their walking, and Leroy was even more so from his battle, so they found a small café to sit down and eat. They politely ordered their food from a waitress who had immediately bustled them to a table together, and she dashed off almost as soon as the words had left their mouths. As they waited, their stomach rumbling, they began to talk together to pass the time.
“Everything’s pretty big here, isn’t it?” Lassie said wearily. She was clearly not used to walking such large distances, so she was probably tired, in contrast to her alertness that morning. It was almost lunchtime now, so they had picked a good time to eat. The café was practically empty, but for a few other people that the duo paid no notice to.
Leroy nodded his agreement. “I’ve never been anywhere so... massive. We’ll need a map or something, most likely. Oh, and we need somewhere to stay tonight. We can hardly camp in the middle of the city -- I mean, we could go back out onto 202, but that seems a little weird to me.”
“I guess,” Lassie conceded. “Tell you what -- we’ll go to the Pokémon Center we saw on our way here, and we’ll brainstorm about it there. Our Pokémon need to be healed -- well, not Chimchar, but certainly Piplup and Abra. They’ve been weak since the battle. Slowly recovering, of course, but, like, they do need to be seen to.” She seemed a little distracted as she spoke, probably because of her concern for Piplup. The waitress returned with their ordered food, and they both wolfed it down simultaneously, their hunger overriding their will for chat. The meal didn’t seem to last long, but they were pleasantly satiated by the end of it. Lassie forked out some of the money she had for the food, thanking the waitress kindly.
As they sat there for a few more minutes to let the food digest a little, a loud voice was carrying from in front of the main counter of the café. Both Leroy and Lassie began to listen in on the conversation, despite how impolite it was to eavesdrop -- then again, it was difficult not to. The ringing voice of the man was difficult to ignore.
“My Bidoof was taken yesterday,” he was complaining. “I have no idea where they’re going or who’s taking them, but I would love to smack the thief upside the head. What did you say the person who stole yours look like, Robert?”
“I don’t know, really. He was a really weird man, that’s for sure. He was wearing a green wig and looked like he was an astronaut or something. Had a yellow ‘G’ on the front of his spacesuit. Other than that, he was pretty much nondescript. I don’t remember...” the other man, presumably Robert, trailed off awkwardly.
“I wish someone could find out who it was. I want my Bidoof back,” the loud one declared. “There’s something funny about that ‘G’ that you mentioned, though... I think I’m forgetting something important. It just reminds me of something I heard about a few days ago, but I can’t remember what it is.”
“I want my Staravia back, too, Kevin,” Robert said consolingly. “We’ll just have to wait for someone to investigate.”
“To the Pokémon Center now, then, hey?” Leroy asked Lassie, once the conversation seemed like it wasn’t going to continue any further. She nodded, and so the sandy-haired Leroy led her from the café and into the sunlit street. The orange sign of the Pokémon Center stood out even from there, but neither Leroy nor Lassie could remember the way they had came. They simply found it impossible to traverse the streets without getting themselves even more lost than they already were. It came to the point where Lassie walked up to a complete stranger in a trenchcoat, standing underneath an unlit lamp post, giving covert glances to everyone who went near.
“Excuse me, but--”
“WHAT? How did you know? How did you unmask me as a member of the International Police?” the trenchcoat man demanded immediately, his suddenness catching Lassie by surprise.
“I-- I didn’t. I was looking for some directions to the--”
“... Heh! Claiming you were only asking for directions, do you? I know better than that. NO. You recognised with swift certainty that I was someone special. That is why you spoke to me, isn’t it? Powerful observations! Admirable. Now that my cover has been blown, I shall introduce myself. I am a globe-trotting elite of the International Police. My name... NO. I shall only inform you of my code name! I am named Looker... BECAUSE I AM IRRESISTIBLY HANDSOME. Don’t you agree?” Lassie was alarmed by his everchanging tone and temper, and floundered for something to say. Leroy, on the other hand, was stifling a laugh, trying to keep a straight face.
“Of course,” Lassie replied. “But can’t you just tell me the directions to--”
“Oh, tricky customer, tricky customer!” Looker cried. “You’re still keeping it up with that story, eh? Listen, is the saying, ‘Don’t be a thief’ familiar to you? Yes, yes, of course it is. Don’t be SILLY. Taking what belongs to others is wrong, right? Unfortunately, there are people who don’t believe so. In Sinnoh, actually, there is an evil organisation that is stealing the Pokémon of others! They are Team Galactic. Their motives and ideas, I have no clue about. I only know of their horrible plans.”
“Lassie -- those must be the people that those men were talking about. Galactic -- ‘G’?” Leroy suggested, as his travelling partner was looking a little confused.
“Oh!” Lassie exclaimed. “What can we do to help, though?”
“You must remain vigilant at all times! Oh, if you were up for a real challenge, you could probably go to their hideout -- only I know where it is, yes I do! I have kept the location a secret for fear others may intrude before my observances are over, but I need them driven out. You two -- you seem strong enough. I’m sure you could drive them out of their hideout. I shall charge you with this task, in fact. Do it as best as you can -- you’ll find a way. By the way, if you see me again, do not talk to me unless I talk to you. I will be on duty. Now... for the location... yes, yes. It is an old, abandoned warehouse. You will find it a few blocks east of the Pokémon Center.” He proceeded to tell them about where the Pokémon Center was and how to get there, as well as how to get to the warehouse. “Good luck!”
Feeling a little strange from their completely insane encounter with Looker and the task he had thrust upon them, the two of them quickly found their way to the Pokémon Center with the directions Looker had gave them. Once they had arrived, the Nurse Joy on duty -- a woman with bubblegum pink hair, a kind expression and a clean apron -- took their Pokémon from them to be healed. Red sofas were abound in the room, as well as a crackling fire in the corner, despite it being quite warm outside the Center. The air was suffused with a sweet smell, like incense or something, helping Lassie to relax a little -- she was intensely worried about the well-being of her Piplup.
“Do you know where there’s a place in the city we could stay?” Leroy asked Joy once she had returned.
“You can stay here, you know!” she said enthusiastically with a smile. “All Pokémon Centers offer free accommodation for trainers and their Pokémon, so you’re welcome to stay here for the night if you want.”
“Oh, fantastic,” Leroy replied, relieved. “Is there anything we should do in Jubilife in the meantime? I mean, is there anything you’d recommend going to see or do?”
“Plenty of things.” Nurse Joy thought for a moment. “There’s the Pokétch Company, Jubilife TV, the Global Trade Station... plenty of things to keep you busy for today. Just watch yourselves on the streets -- there’s thieves about, stealing Pokémon wherever they can.”
“All right, Nurse Joy. Thanks for your help!”
With that, Leroy and Lassie left the Pokémon Center.
The next morning, a sharp beeping sound rang out in the room where Lassie and Leroy were staying. Nurse Joy had ushered them into a bedroom with two single beds and a knowing smile on her face. As for the ringing noise, Leroy had gotten a free Pokétch from the Pokétch Company, and he loved it. The watch which he had resolved to permanently wear on his wrist came packed with what he deemed useful applications. He had set the alarm for somewhat early in the morning so they could get started on what was probably going to be a very long day. He jolted awake as soon as the alarm sounded, Lassie reacting similarly, except she launched an ineffectual flurry of punches as she woke.
Leroy was shoved out of the room as Lassie got dressed, and then he was allowed about five minutes to himself in the room before Lassie barged in impatiently. However, they both continued into the main foyer, snacking on various bits and pieces that they’d taken from their bags. After their brief breakfast, they continued outside, the sun only a faint light this early in the morning. They made their way through the dimly lit streets and alleys, going by the directions that Looker had given them. In the early hours of the morning, barely anyone was on the streets -- it seemed that Jubilife was a city that did sleep.
It became clear that they were passing into some disused part of Jubilife as the first sign of wildlife in the city presented itself. There were trees growing in this area, and patches of grass were to be found here and there, growing through the cracks in the pavement. Lassie and Leroy simply walked their way through it, until they came to a place that was at the very end of the road. It ended abruptly at the foot of a warehouse -- was this Team Galactic’s hideout? It certainly looked like somewhere that lowlives would be operating. As they walked towards the door, however, someone quite literally sprung out of nowhere.
“Aha! Lassie, Leroy! You both came!” Looker said. “I have been watching you, yes I have. You don’t have very many Pokémon, do you? Ah, but I sensed you both were strong trainers! Yes, indeed. STRONG. However, since the Leroy boy has two, I am going to lend you one of my Pokémon, Lassie! That way, you can handle anything that is thrown at you! Have fun!” Looker quickly thrust a Pokémon into Lassie’s hands, and, with suspicious glances to his left and right, he dashed away.
“He’s a little bit on the insane side,” Leroy said simply. After Lassie had checked what Pokémon she had with her Pokédex -- a Shroomish, according to it -- the two walked in, stooping to avoid colliding with the half-closed shutters. Once they had got inside, they gasped, immediately sidling into the shadows. They surveyed the area, which betrayed the rundown look of its exterior. Everything was polished, shiny and looked brand-new -- there was a lot of electrical technology running, and the artificial lights were bright. It seemed that operations had mostly been abandoned for the time being, except for one or two of what seemed to be grunts wandering around.
On a platform towards the back of the warehouse, a sole figure stood, watching the proceedings. As the duo slipped, catlike, through the room, avoiding detection, they could make out her features a little better. She had flaming red hair that seemed to be spiked at the front, yet she retained what seemed to be a fringe. Beneath her grey tank top, emblazoned with the yellow letter ‘G’, she wore a dark grey, turtleneck shirt of some kind. Her skirt seemed to expand at the bottom, like a spaceship, and she donned thigh-length leather boots. Her facial features seemed contorted into one of contempt, like she had just finished arguing with someone. Lassie noticed with alarm that the large screens behind the woman displayed camera footage from all over Jubilife, and even outside the warehouse, yet Lassie had noticed nothing.
It dawned on her that this woman, whoever she was to Team Galactic, could have seen the two of them entering. However, she had shown no signs of raising an alert to the others about intruders, so Lassie wondered if she had been watching them at all. Perhaps she thought that no-one would have been near this early in the morning.
“What do we do now?” Leroy whispered, sounding a little intimidated. “Improvise?”
“Exactly.” In a show of boldness that Leroy had never seen of her before, Lassie stepped out into the light, walking quite calmly to the front of the platform, a small distance away from the woman. Leroy hung in the shadows a little longer, unsure of what to do.
“Intruder!” the woman shrieked in a powerful voice. The grunts looked around themselves for a moment, and, spotting Lassie, they took a step in unison towards her. A man with blue hair sprinted into the room at the sound of the woman’s voice, and glared down at Lassie. Lassie quailed slightly under that agate gaze, her self-confidence shaking. Trying her best to stay firm, she returned the glare, but then redirected her attention to the woman.
“I have come to stop you,” she declared shortly. “Team Galactic, from what I’ve heard, is an abomination. You’re stealing people’s Pokémon for no good reason!” She wasn’t good at being dramatic.
“No good reason? Pah, girl, you don’t understand anything, do you?” the woman replied harshly. “Team Galactic has a very good reason to steal Pokémon. We are forming a new world, one that a mere child like you would never understand! We are using the Pokémon solely for that reason -- we are harnessing their powers, using them for our purposes. Our new world is the perfect one. We are gathering their magical energy so we can use it to create this new world, but our mission has only just begun. Nobody like you is going to stop us!”
“Shut up!” the man bellowed. “Do you want this idiot girl to know everything?”
Lassie thought that was just about enough. Seething, she said in a scathing tone, “Well, I might be a child, but I am not an idiot, unlike the pair of you. Whoever you are, lady, I challenge you to a battle. If you lose, then you clear out this hideout and never return. I have a member of the International Police on my side, and I’m sure he can station some people here to keep watch... y’know, discourage returning. If I lose, I will leave you here for this time, but there will be other times and other places.”
“I accept your challenge and terms.” The woman looked quite smug. “Now you can bear witness to the power of Commander Mars!”
“Mars, you blockhead! Think of what you’re risking!” the blue-haired man spluttered incredulously. “You’re putting everything in danger!”
“Quiet, Saturn,” Mars said in a dreadful voice. “Don’t you dare presume to think you can order me around. I am the one who is in charge, and I shall make the necessary decisions. If you object to me again here, I will have you fired by Cyrus. Besides, the girl could not ever beat me. I’ve had her under surveillance ever since she came near Jubilife. She poses no threat. Very well, girl, but where is your boyfriend?”
“He’s not my boyfriend!” she protested, but Leroy stepped out into the light.
“I am here.” Leroy lifted his chin, as if daring either of the Commanders to say anything.
“Perfect. Now everyone is here, you can see how easily I crush this girl. No-one defies the might of Team Galactic! Let’s go, Zubat!” Mars flung a Poké Ball into the air, the sphere releasing a burst of white light. Out of the glow materialised a Zubat, who swooped down in front of Mars, hovering patiently.
Lassie smirked. “Okay, Shroomish, you’re up!” Another flash of light, this time from Lassie’s position, revealed a small creature resembling a mushroom. A green and peach colour, the Mushroom Pokémon let out an excited squeal, as if happy to be battling. “Use Headbutt!”
“Wing Attack, Zubat!” Mars commanded. The Zubat’s left wing flashing, it soared through the air to Shroomish, who had carefully been charging up its Headbutt attack. As the Zubat came near and slashed with its wing, Shroomish rolled to the side just as swiftly, using its momentum to push itself from the ground. Its head slammed brutally into the Zubat, who spiralled backwards from the force. However, the Zubat didn’t seem to give up, even though Mars had only given it the one command. It took another swoop at Shroomish, who didn’t get out of the way quite fast enough. Its cap getting clipped by the wing, Shroomish wailed, but with another command from Lassie, slammed into Zubat once more.
“Good work, Shroomish!” Lassie called. “Next time it goes near you, hit it with Stun Spore!”
“Wing Attack, Zubat,” Mars repeated calmly. Using the same move over and over again didn’t seem like good tactics to Lassie, but she wasn’t going to start complaining. She could use that against Mars. The light blue bat flew once more down to Shroomish, slashing at it with its wing for a third time -- Shroomish was not taking that. Releasing bright yellow, sparking spores from its cap, they made contact with the Zubat as soon as it came near. The paralytic effect of the spores made it nigh impossible for the bat to move, and so Lassie casually ordered one more Headbutt. With that third slam, Zubat was out cold. Mars scowled at seeing her first Pokémon go down, and recalled the creature.
“Okay. Let’s go, Glameow!” Mars’ voice no longer held conviction as she called out the next Pokémon. The feline that formed in front of her erected itself purposefully, its spring-like tail curled. She looked distastefully towards her trainer, as if she didn’t really like the Team Galactic Commander. “Aerial Ace!”
“Mega Drain, Shroomish!” Lassie shouted, but already Glameow was airborne, descending with a graceful twist. It slammed into Shroomish, and that one hit was enough to make the Mushroom Pokémon faint from the damage. Lassie bit her lip in concern, but recalled the creature into its protective sphere. Mars’ expression turned to one of gloating.
“Good girl!” Mars cried. At first, Lassie thought she was talking to her, but it seemed that she had directed that comment at the Glameow -- it was female. That wasn’t much of a surprise to Lassie, whose newly called-out Piplup took a fighting stance in front of her.
“Glameow, use Faint Attack.” The Catty Pokémon ran to the left, then zigzagged to the right, before disappearing momentarily. She flashed out of nowhere in front of Piplup, whose sharp reactions allowed him to dodge without getting clawed by the feline. A sharp command issued from Lassie’s mouth, and Piplup jabbed at the Glameow with his beak. She recoiled from the sudden attack, but Piplup jabbed once more, causing her even more discomfort. Relentlessly, Piplup went in for a third Peck attack before the Glameow could even more, all ordered in quick succession by the seemingly skilled Lassie. Glameow hissed loudly, slinking back to her trainer before Piplup could score another hit.
“Fury Swipes!” Mars screeched. Glameow hissed once more, this time at the noise of Mars, but nevertheless dashed at Piplup. Her claws raked down the front of Piplup twice before he managed to break free from the attack, releasing a myriad of bubbles in the Glameow’s face on Lassie’s request. They all burst on contact, dazing the already-damaged Glameow. She no longer looked strong on her feet. However, Piplup was no better off -- Glameow was as strong as he was, and so her attacks were no less effective on him than his were on her. Both stood some distance away, panting and glaring.
“Pound!” cried Lassie, desperate to end it.
“Scratch!” Mars commanded, her voice shrill as if she, too, was desperate.
Glameow and Piplup charged each other, Piplup’s flippers at the ready as Glameow extended her claws. Both Pokémon leapt savagely at each other, Piplup slamming the end of a flipper into Glameow bluntly as Glameow slashed ferociously at any part of the Penguin Pokémon she could find. When the both of them stepped away from each other, though, Glameow toppled over almost immediately, her eyes closed and her expression unknowing, unaware. Piplup sensed the need to stay awake. He stood in the same position resolutely, covered in scratch marks and breathing hard. Mars caught her own breath -- this girl, this new trainer... she had beaten her, a Commander of Team Galactic. She recalled Glameow as Piplup was taken back into his Poké Ball, a disgusted look on her face.
“Well?” Lassie demanded in an infuriated tone. “Clear out.”
“Useless Pokémon!” Mars bawled, tossing Glameow’s Poké Ball to the side. She stormed out of the warehouse, closely followed by Saturn and the grunts that were there. Lassie crumpled to the floor, crying. Her first real challenge as a trainer had tested her ability to be brave and strong and she had proved true, but her victory tasted bitter, bitter. She had used every ounce of energy she had to challenge and best Team Galactic this time, and she knew that this was not the last she had seen of them -- and that defeating them would not get any easier. At that moment, though, she was too lost in what she had done -- she couldn’t comprehend it yet. Not to mention that Glameow had been abandoned as a result of what she had done -- how she had won.
Leroy quietly left her there, releasing the Pokémon that had been imprisoned around the room. They all left immediately, as if they instinctively knew where to go to find their trainers. Leroy sighed heavily, walking over to Lassie. Lightly touching her shoulder, he gestured for them to go. Before she even looked at the exit, however, she went to retrieve Glameow’s Poké Ball. It had been her fault that the creature was abandoned, so she felt oddly responsible for her. She would be Glameow’s trainer from now on. That was a promise -- to herself and to Glameow. She turned, smiling a little sadly at Leroy as she stepped shakily to him.
With their arms around each other's shoulders, they departed.