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Rated G8+ or PG (Parental Guidance) under Australian Terminology.
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Josh wiped the rain droplets from his glasses as a brown blob emerged from the mud. Where one would expect its nose to be, the brown became pink. Soon after, another one appeared right next to the first, before being followed by four more. Unless Damien has evolved into a rather numerous Dugtrio, the sixteen-year old brunette thought, he’s still in the mud. With the realisation that his life-long friend might not survive too long under the muddy ground, Josh ripped off his red jacket, placed it on the ground with his glasses, and dove into the two foot deep muddy depression. Damien… no!
Before he managed to begin searching, however, the eleven Diglett-shaped brown blobs slammed into him with its entire amorphous shell body. Smack! Josh tumbled to the side, clutching his side. One, maybe two ribs broken. He looked up, and saw the glaring eyes of the Shellos, its muddy blob of a head pointed intently at his own. He attempted to raise an arm, but the magnitude of the impact added to the deep mud impeded his movement. The black eyes gleamed inside the yellow borders, and suddenly Josh realised that he might not be able to save Damien.
The head pounced, Joshy flinched, time stopped. He opened his eyes, and he saw that Damien, his Diglett, had popped up from under the mud and taken the blow for Josh. “Damien?” he whimpered. The Diglett’s head then disappeared back under the muddy ground. He was knocked out, and he certainly wouldn’t survive too long under there, but the Shellos was ready to pounce if Josh made a single move. Luckily, a single move was all it took.
Josh spun around so that his back faced the Shellos, and began fishing in the mud for his friend. He quickly recovered Damien’s body, and noted that he was still breathing. That’s good… but I still have to get him out of here. He quickly sprang to his feet, the Shellos slightly missing his back with a new attack. Josh sloshed through the mud and climbed out of the depression, stopping only to pick up his jacket to wrap Damien in. If he stopped for his glasses, he feared the Shellos might catch up, so he simply hoped he could find his way without twenty-twenty vision.
He could run maybe nine kilometres an hour, and the nearest Pokecentre in a direction that wasn’t blocked by the angry slug was in Hearthome city – about three kilometres away. It would take twenty minutes if he could keep with this speed, but he had been body slammed in the ribs and his feet were covered in sloshing mud. It would be a hard trek, and an angry Shellos was chasing him, but he needed to do it.
For Damien, he thought. I have to get there.
When Josh was eight years old, his mother took him and Damien to the beach outside of Pastoria City, on Route 213. They had been saving for years, so she organised everything, including a nice day of Fishing on Route 212. Josh had always wanted to try his hand at fishing; he wondered if he might even find a Red Gyarados!
While his mother went about renting the fishing rods and bait, Josh and Damien, their pet Diglett, went adventuring around in the mud to the west of Pastoria City. Ploughing around, but staying clear of the tall grass, the duo had all kinds of adventures including finding their fabled Gyarados and fighting off Team Rocket. In fact, if it were not for what happened next, this might have been one of the happiest days of Josh’s youth.
While tip-toeing slowly on the planks over the river, aiming to catch the mystical Groudon that only he and Damien could see on top of the mountainous island, Josh fell. He tried to find something to grab onto; onto the plank of what seemed like balsa wood and on the cliff-face, but all he could do was delay the inevitable. The water was freezing, and Josh was only wearing a short-sleeved shirt and three quarter shorts at the time; after all, he was meant to spend the entire day above sea level.
Damien didn’t hesitate to respond; he speedily dug underground and his thinly furred head reappeared quickly on the angled cliff face. “Diglett dig,” the mole Pokemon yelled. Josh couldn’t hear him, though, as he was thrashing around trying to remember his swimming lessons from outside Sandgem Town. When he saw his childhood friend, however, he quickly realised what was needed. He put all of his effort into one last attempt at safety: he sprung out of the water as Diglett’s head receded back into the Earth, allowing the formation of a hole for Josh to grab onto.
Bit by bit, Josh managed to climb the cliff face. Diglett kept making the holes close enough so that Josh could reach them, but far enough apart so that they wouldn’t collapse. The climb took about five minutes, but when Josh was less than two metres from the top, a rope was hung over the cliff for him to grab onto. With two heaves and a ho, Josh was finally back on ground, safe but for some coughing and spluttering. Through the blinking and his bearded rescuer, Josh could see the crying face of his Mother, but couldn’t, for some reason, see Damien, his real saviour.
“Don’t worry, son,” spoke the balding fisherman who had rescued the young boy, “it’s all okay, it’s all over.” But Joshy knew it wasn’t, because he still couldn’t find his friend. He tried to say so, but he couldn’t get up the strength. “Just rest, little buddy,” the fisherman responded to Josh’s whimpering. “You can rest now.”
Some nearby rangers found Damien, but not until after an exhaustive search of the area. Even then, though, no human would know what stopped the heroic Diglett from building the last few footholds. Unfortunately, no one, not even Damien, knew that this five-minute discrepancy would be such a risk to him in the long term.
When Josh was two-thirds up the cliff, Damien’s progress was impeded when he stumbled into a small underground cave, with a surface covered in thick mud. While the Diglett knew that the Mud wouldn’t be easy to get through, he also knew that an eight year old’s arms wouldn’t hold Josh on the last foothold for too long. He began to move his way through the mud, before he bumped into the sleeping body of a pink slug-like Shellos.
What’s a Shellos doing in the mud? mused the Diglett. I thought they only lived in the sea? Here he was, however, waking up to the sight of a brown, furry intruder with a nose as pink as it’s own body. It wasn’t intentional: Damien just couldn’t see well through the mud. The Shellos, though, wasn’t very forgiving.
A strong mud bomb slammed into Damien, but didn’t move very far due to the sticky mud. It was quickly followed by a body slam, but the brown Pokemon dug into the ground and managed to dodge the attack. He reappeared behind the Shellos, and responded with a sucker punch. Shellos took the attack on its back, but quickly turned and shot another mud bomb at Damien. This one was too fast for Damien, and it pushed him pretty far back toward the cliff-face. A well-known fact is that Digletts can’t swim, so Damien didn’t like the new development.
Damien dug underground again, and Shellos hardened his body to face the inevitable. The inevitable being an unusually powerful Earth Power attack. If the battle lasted any longer, Josh might slip and drown, and Diglett wouldn’t risk that. The attack was a last ditch effort, and it worked. Unfortunately, it worked too much, though, and the roof began to cave in. Both Pokemon were trapped under the muddy ceiling, both knocked out for until they each managed to escape at different times, Diglett in an hour, the Shellos two.
When Diglett woke up, he began to dig in the direction he assumed was up. After a few seconds, though, he managed to tap onto what felt like a sea shell, but when he fished it out to look out, he recognised that it was a Pokemon egg. Was a Pokemon egg, thought Damien as he cradled the broken shell. Suddenly, he realised what the Shellos was doing in the mud: the heavy rain from the night before had pushed the eggs into the mud, and the Shellos, unable to free them, had stayed with them to protect them. In trying to rescue Josh, Damien had accidentally destroyed at least one of the Shellos’ eggs. Wanting to get back to Josh, the Diglett shook back a tear and continued the climb to the surface, planning on returning to the cave soon to help the Shellos.
When he was found, though, Josh and his Mother quickly returned home to Veilstone City and he never managed to return to apologise to the poor Sea Slug. He never knew, though, that the destruction of Shellos’ home and eggs would come back to haunt Damien when he and Josh traversed through Route 212 in eight years time.
The rain poured down onto Josh’s sore body as every single muscle gave up. His legs failed, and his body soon followed. He lay on the floor, ahead of him Damien wrapped in Josh’s muddy jacket. I can’t leave him, Josh was tired, and the heavy rain made the mud even harder to break from. but I can’t let him die! Josh slowly got to his knees, only to be knocked down again by an unknown force. He slowly turned onto his sore back, only to see the Shellos slowly moving towards Diglett’s unconscious body. No!
The adrenaline surge powered up Josh’s body enough for him to get to his legs. He slowly began to run faster than the slug pokemon, and grabbed the jacket. He took Damien and ran towards the town. Five hundred metres to go, and the Shellos was still fairly close.
His legs moved as fast as they could, considering the strong liquidy mud on his feet. It was will that got him into town, and his wish to repay Diglett for that one day eight years ago that took the two all of the way to the front door of the Pokemon Centre. Once inside, he dropped to the ground. He was out of energy, and it was now up to the nurses of the Centre to save Diglett. Before passing out, he even thought he could see Damien’s face, awake but weak. The Diglett winked, as if to thank Josh for the work, and the two fell asleep. It had been a long day.