11th February 2012, 12:27 PM #1
The Prankster of Pinwheel Forest
The Prankster of Pinwheel Forest
It had been three weeks since the plane touched down on the Mistralton Runway, marking Alan Moore’s arrival in the region of Unova. A native of Hoenn, Alan had spent most of his adult life as a wanderer of sorts, performing odd jobs wherever they could be found. Though most would consider the man a freelancer, Alan always rejected the term, instead preferring the self-awarded title of Pest Control Specialist. He had a knack for dealing with problematic Pokémon, usually working for people who were not trainers and had no means to deal with the problem themselves. In addition to the payment provided by his employer, Alan would often capture and sell the targets of his bounties for a hefty bonus. He always made enough to get by, and enjoyed the adventurous nature of his life.
The Pest Control Specialist had first found himself in the faraway region as part of a hunt. Even the most common of Pokémon found in Unova are rare and sought after in other regions, due to the large distance that separates them. Alan was hired by a wealthy old man, a collector, who wanted some unique specimens to show off to his socialite cohorts. It was an amazing opportunity for Alan, as he was given free rein to conduct his hunt, with all expenses paid by his employer. His employer gave no specific requests or timeframes, simply wanting anything Alan could catch, even urging him to keep performing pest control jobs in Unova if they would present a chance to capture the nuisance Pokémon and ship them back to Hoenn.
Alan was not a conventional Pokémon trainer, though he often used them in his work. In the past he would rent, borrow, or even use previous captures that he had not yet found buyers for, until one of his jobs led him to a lifelong partner. Mining crews had dug into a Pokémon infested cave while digging for iron, and were being terrorized by indigenous creatures. Among them was a Lairon, which was particularly defensive of the mines and saw the humans as a threat to its food supply. Alan took the job, and subdued the beast. Like any other capture, Alan planned to sell it, but before he could the miner’s had offered him another job.
The cave was still heavily populated with Aron, which weren’t much of a threat to the miners, but all it took was one of them evolving and the cave would once again become un-minable. Alan was hired to go back in with the Lairon he captured, and clear out the wild Aron for good. It was easy work, the Aron were no match for their senior evolutionary relative. All was going well, until the stress the battle was putting on the mine had caused a loosened section of rock to break free, blocking the only tunnel back to the surface, and trapping Alan in the darkness of the cavern. This meant nothing to Lairon; he had ample food supply in the mine’s iron veins, and could easily tunnel deeper in to access a spring for fresh water. But the armored Pokémon showed concern for Alan, and used his steely head to bash the fallen rock, repeatedly charging into it until it crumbled and allowed passage. The Lairon followed Alan out of the mine, and showed no intention of leaving him. The two had been a team ever since.
For the past three weeks, Alan’s employer had covered the costs of food and lodging, and Alan had spent his time prowling the major cities, looking for work. He lived out of a duffel bag, and kept Lairon’s Pokeball attached to his belt. He had only made a few bucks since landing in Mistralton, chasing Drilbur out of the crop fields. His initial destination was the city of Castelia, but there was no room for a freelancer in a bustling metropolis like that, where big-name companies offered faster service at comparable prices. So he made his way to Nacrene City. He had heard the city consisted of dozens of century old warehouses, typical pest habitats and a great place to look for leads. Arriving in town his first stop was the Pokémon Center. Most Centers featured a community bulletin board, which is where Alan liked to find leads. He stood before the board, dropped his duffel bag to the floor, and started skimming the different fliers and advertisements hanging from the wall.
“Nothing good,” he muttered, letting out a deep sigh. “Unova has not been good to me so far.”
The salesperson behind the counter of the Pokemart area seemed to have overheard him. Coming out from behind the counter, he wiped his hands on his brown apron.
“What exactly are you looking for?” he asked.
“I’m looking for a job. I deal with pests, and ever since arriving here I’ve barely found anything in my line of work.”
“Where’d you arrive from?”
“Hoenn. I’ve been here for three weeks now.”
“You’re a long ways from home. They don’t have pests in Hoenn for you to chase off?” the shopkeeper said with mild sarcasm.
“Actually, I’m here as part of a job, finding rare Pokémon for my employer. He shipped me here and is paying my expenses, but I don’t get paid until I catch him something. If I’m not picking up side jobs, I’m not making any profit.”
“Well, if you’re really that strapped for cash, check out that ad in the bottom left corner, on the green paper. A local botanist puts those up; he’s always looking for an extra pair of hands.”
“A botanist? I’m not looking for a job picking flowers,” Alan scowled.
“Hey, it’s money, friend. There’s always works there if you need it. Go pay him a visit, maybe he’ll have a lead for you at least.”
Alan read the green piece of paper. It wasn’t descriptive, stating only that the botanist was looking for ‘general assistance’, and listing the address of the botanist’s warehouse.
The aged building stood on the outskirts of Nacrene, close to Pinwheel Forest. In the building’s spacious back-lot, a dilapidated set of train tracks ran through into the forest. It was clear no train had used them in many years. On both sides of the track were rows of planted flowers and herbs. This looked like the place. With his bag slung over his shoulder, Alan stood in the doorway, dwarfed by the massive frame. He gave the metal door three solid knocks. He heard rapid footsteps echo from within, and the double doors swung open. A young woman stood in the open doorway, looking mildly confused at Alan.
“Hi, are you here to see Master Nathan?” she asked.
“Uh, I believe I am. Is he the botanist?”
“Yes. You’re here to work?”
“Might be. I need to see what kind of work he’s offering. I’m not much of a botanist or gardener. You, on the other hand…”
She was filthy, with dirt smudged on her hands and face, and caked on mud covering her boots. It was clear she had been hard at work gardening before answering the door. But Alan hadn’t noticed her outside when examining the rows of plants. Alan followed her, as she led him inside the spacious warehouse.
“This looks more like a greenhouse than a warehouse,” Alan said, marveling at the hundreds of potted plants lining the walls and hanging from hooks.
“Yes, Master Nathan always complains we don’t have enough space for all the specimens he wants, too. He wants to expand the property outward, but that would be intruding into the forest.”
Alan looked up, and noticed the almost the entire roof consisted of pyramid shaped sunlight’s, letting the natural rays pour in to nurture the plants. It must have been a custom addition, as no other building had so many. The floor contained dozens of dirt patches, quartered off with planks of wood to separate different species of plants.
“Master Nathan!” the girl yelled.
“What is it?” replied a barely audible voice. An older man emerged from a patch of tall plants that were two or three feet taller than him. “Leah?”
“Over here, sir,” she yelled back. “You have a visitor!”
“Thank you, why don’t you go out and tend to the outdoor garden now,” he said to her, ushering her away. “Are you here in response to my offer for work?” the botanist enthusiastically said to Alan.
“I’m here to talk about it, sure,” he replied. “My name is Alan. I take it you’re Master Nathan?”
“Just Nathan, please. Don’t mind the girl; she’s too ridged and formal. So, what can I do for you, Alan? Or rather, what do you think you can do for me?”
The botanist was an older gentleman, short in stature with white hair and a trimmed beard. He had a worn look about him, like a man that had worked himself to exhaustion over the years. He was much less visibly dirty than Leah, which would either imply he relied very much on his assistant to keep the plants tended, or simply that he had the finesse to avoid unnecessary mess.
“Well, my specialty is pest control. Having this many plants must attract a good deal of Bug Pokémon to your greenhouse.”
“No, I don’t have any pest problems. Leah’s Pokémon does a good enough job of keeping the place clear of unwanted advances from the denizens of the forest. But now that you mention it, there is one specific pest I might have you deal with. One that has been impeding my research for quite some time.”
“I don’t get around as well as I used to, and the only Pokémon I keep here in my greenhouse are Grass types I use to help with my research, none of which are worth a lick in combat. Leah makes frequent treks into Pinwheel Forest and the surrounding area to harvest herbs for me. She is a Pokémon trainer – her apprenticeship here is actually part of her training. She wants to be a Grass type Gym Leader someday… She’s got the enthusiasm, but she has a long way to go.”
“So whatever it is that’s giving you trouble is too much for her to handle?” Alan asked.
“Very much so,” Nathan answered. “She can handle the odd Venipede that wanders out from the forest and attacks my garden, and can go herb picking in the forest as long as she stays close to the main road to the bridge. But the best herbs are off the beaten path. And off the beaten path live more dangerous Pokémon. She tried going into the deep woods once before, I think she wanted to impress me by proving she could do it and bringing back some rare specimens…” he trailed off.
“Did something happen to her?”
“She was… attacked, by several Pokémon at once. The way she describes it, it was as if they set up an ambush and were waiting for unwary travelers. She just barely fought her way out, but at great cost. Her best and most cherished Pokémon was lost to the forest. She tried to run, and it could have followed, but it stayed behind and faced the attackers alone to buy her time to escape…”
“That must have been difficult for her. Was she able to describe the attacking Pokémon?”
“Oh, she didn’t have to. I was well aware of what it was. Anyone who frequents the forest knows this Pokémon. The forest is massive; thousands of Cottonee live there and are generally peaceful creatures of nature. They also are not prone to evolve unless specifically trained towards that purpose. I’ve studied them extensively in the past, and they require certain exposure to the sun’s rays to reach evolution. The foliage of the forest denies them that in their natural environment. Naturally, finding its evolved form, Whimsicott, in the wild is extremely unlikely.”
“But that’s what we’re dealing with, isn’t it?”
“Precisely. I don’t know how exactly it evolved in the wild, but it is there, and it’s been causing trouble for at least the last eight months.”
“Maybe it didn’t evolve it the wild,” Alan suggested. “It could have belonged to a trainer and been released.”
“More likely is that it escaped,” Nathan interjected. “Whimsicott, and to a lesser extent Cottonee, are notorious for being troublemakers. Their natural ability to be Pranksters has been the bane of many trainers in the past. This particular Whimsicott has a name around here, actually. Forest-goers know it as ‘The Prankster of Pinwheel Forest.’”
“But according to what happened to Leah, it sounds like it’s involved in much more than just pranks.”
“It probably sees what it’s doing as a prank, despite how others would interpret it. The Cottonee are inspired by it, and they follow it without hesitation, like a gang. They coordinate, slow down opposition with Cotton Spores and sap their life with Leech Seeds. Coming from several attackers at once and in all directions, it’s easy to see how an unprepared traveler can get overwhelmed, like Leah.”
“Well sir, like I said, pest control is what I do. I could go take care of this problem for you.”
“It’s dangerous… But I’ve also never sent a specialist in there after it. Maybe you’ll fare better than the others who have tried. But now the sun is already setting, I can’t in good conscience send you out there after dark. Oh! Do you have a place to stay?”
“I just arrived in Nacrene today, I haven’t looked for a room yet.”
“Don’t bother, you can stay here in the green house. I’ve got accommodations for myself and two assistants, but it’s just been Leah and I for some time. I’ll fetch Leah and have her show you to the spare room.”
“I… I wasn’t expecting that, it’s much appreciated sir.”
Without returning comment, Nathan hurried outside to find his assistant. He moved with excitement, joyous at the thought that someone may have finally appeared that could take on the Prankster of Pinwheel Forest. He returned seconds later, with Leah in tow. Without words, she motioned for Alan to follow. She led him up an exposed set of rusty old stairs, to the upper level of the warehouse. Most of the building was one story, but one corner had a set of raises up rooms which looked like they were originally meant to be offices back when the warehouse was a working one. Leah opened the third door, the farthest from the stairs. She finally broke the silence.
“Y-you’re going into the forest tomorrow, aren’t you?”
“Yes. I’ve been hired by Nathan to exterminate the Prankster.”
“Please, don’t go.”
“You might believe you can handle it, but you can’t beat it. Not only is it strong, but it has dozens of followers. I’m a Trainer too, I noticed you only carry one Pokeball. You will be overrun. Please leave now, I will explain to my master…”
“Look, Leah… Nathan told me about what happened to you in the forest. He told me how your Pokémon was sacrificed to allow your escape. I know that had to have been hard, and it’s affecting your ability to properly evaluate the threat of all this. My job is to get rid of things that people don’t want around. I’m good at it, and I will do my job tomorrow.”
“I… I can’t make you leave… But I really, really wish you would. Please don’t make a foolish decision… Goodnight, Alan.”
With that, she left Alan in his room and closed the door behind her. The girl was clearly traumatized by her encounter in the forest. Alan thought to himself that he might have bitten off more than he can chew. But the thought of catching this notorious Prankster of Pinwheel Forest, and sending it to his employer in Hoenn… The paycheck would be enormous.
Alan looked around his room. It was little more than a musty old bed in one corner, and a wooden desk in the other. Maybe he would have been better off finding a hotel room. He set his duffel bag down on the desk, and changed into a pair of pajamas. He picked his belt up off the floor, and detached the Pokeball. He thought about letting Lairon out for a bit, but decided against it in favor of getting to be early. He planned to be up by dawn, giving himself the whole day to search the forest for his target. He plopped down on the bed, and a layer of dust jumped off the sheets, filling the air. Alan lay there in the dark old room, staring at the ceiling. Leah’s words were getting to him. He was second guessing his own confidence. Slowly, his eyes began to close…
* * *
11th February 2012, 12:27 PM #2
Re: The Prankster of Pinwheel Forest
Light slowly began making its way through the dust covered glass window. By dawn’s arrival, Alan was already wide awake; his duffel bag’s contents strewn across the wooden desk. He believed he had everything he needed for his forest trek, and went from left to right, examining each item. Compass, flashlight, bottled water, dry food, Pokeballs, potions, and a small collection of various manmade poisons and traps, along with gloves and a cheap looking respirator for handling them. He shoveled all of the gear back into the bag, swung it over his shoulder, and tapped his index and middle finger on Lairon’s Pokeball, confirming it was securely fastened to his belt. He paused for a moment, taking a deep breath before exiting the room.
Nathan too was awake, hunched over a textbook in deep study. His concentration was broken by the echo of Alan’s footsteps on the metal stairs. The botanist rose from his chair, showing some discomfort in the act, and approached Alan.
“You’re ready?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m ready to go. With just under twelve hours of daylight, I should have more than enough time.”
“Good. I won’t delay you with details, you already know what you’re up against. Where will you look for it?”
“I hadn’t thought about it, the way you and Leah spoke of ambushed I had half expected it to find me.”
“Well your best bet at any rate is to stay off the main road. Follow the train tracks into the forest. They’ve long been out of service, and will bring you straight to one of my favorite herb picking spots. It’s undisturbed and off the beaten path, and it’s also close to the spot where Leah had her encounter. It’s the most evidence I have on any of the Prankster’s potential stomping grounds. Oh, and if you have some spare room in that bag, you could bring me back a few samples of those herbs…”
“I’ll see about that. How will I know where the grove is?”
“There’s a small pool of water which the herbs grow around, you can’t miss it so long as you stick to the tracks.”
“Alright, I’ll be following the tracks then. With any luck, I’ll be home in time for dinner.”
Alan gave the old man a confident smile, though on the inside he was not so sure about this job. He exited the warehouse. As he walked towards the train tracks he saw Leah, also an apparent early-riser, who was up to her knees in the gardens that ran alongside the tracks.
“I see I couldn’t change your mind,” she said disappointedly.
“If I backed out of the tough jobs, I wouldn’t be much of a specialist. Besides, Nathan isn’t my only employer. If I go into that forest and drag out the Prankster, there’s going to be a lot of money heading my way.”
“Do you even know where you will go? Pinwheel Forest is a big place, it’s easy to get lost…”
“Nathan told me to stick to the tracks, he said I’ll find a little pond with a high concentration of plants growing around it.”
“Still, you would do better with a guide who knows their way around the forest. Let me go with you.”
“No, Leah. I don’t need you to. Especially after what happened to you last time, I don’t want to put you in harm’s way.”
“Fine… But I still can’t let you go alone… here.”
She extended her arm, offering a Pokeball to Alan.
“This is my Pansage. I want you to take her with you into the forest. I don’t doubt your ability as a trainer, but with only one Pokémon, you will be overrun for sure… Just bring her back safe, please…”
“I don’t need-“
Before he could object, Leah had turned her back and ran inside the warehouse. Alan had no choice but to accept the companionship of Leah’s Pansage on this job. He hooked the ball to his belt, next to Lairon’s. Setting foot on the tracks, the gaping mouth of the forest looked as if it were ready to swallow the pest control specialist. He stared right back into it, unafraid of what dwelled within. With strong, deliberate steps, he marched onward to his task.
Pinwheel Forest was serenely beautiful. Alan had passed through before, but the paved road that cuts through leading to the Skyarrow Bridge is nowhere near as scenic as a true hike. Many of the planks on the train tracks had begun rotting away, and layers of moss formed over the rails, forming a sort of natural road. Alan unhooked both of the Pokeballs and released the creatures from within, deciding it would be best to let them adjust to their surroundings, and be ready for any possible ambushed by the Prankster. Lairon and Pansage emerged simultaneously, giving each other a puzzled look of unfamiliarity. Pansage turned her head to Alan and pointed at him, as if to question if he was her trainer now.
“You’re with us for the time being, Pansage,” Alan said to the green monkey. “You’ll be back home with Leah by the end of the day. And Lairon, this is supposedly going to be a pretty serious job. Be on your game today.”
Lairon’s expression did not change; he merely followed behind Alan as they kept walking along the tracks. Pansage, being much smaller than Lairon, realized she was running several small steps for every one pronounced step Lairon took, and decided she would fit right in sitting atop the Pokémon’s steely head. Lairon did not object his new passenger, and would likely not even notice the extra weight if not for the monkey’s constant fidgeting and chattering.
The group had covered some distance already, and looking back Alan could no longer see the point where he had entered the forest. The place was alive with movement and noise. Pidove could be seen fluttering about, stopping to roost on a branch and survey the area before taking off again. Sewaddle slowly made their way up the sides of trees, and the occasional sounds of an elemental monkey’s call could rarely be heard in the distance. Pansage reacted alertly to these odd calls. Lairon, however, moved as if he had blinders on, with total indifference to his surroundings. Alan, who was walking at a brisk pace, came to the sudden realization that Nathan never told him exactly how far in the grove was. Maybe he didn’t exactly know the mileage himself. But the botanist did tell Alan that he couldn’t miss it, so at least it must be a pretty defined landmark.
All of a sudden, Alan picked up on some noises that were not natural to the forest. He crouched down and put his palm out, signaling Lairon to stop walking. Alan narrowed his eyes, straining his vision to see through the maze of green and brown. He saw two men, both holding rifles, moving through the bush. They ran awkwardly trying not to trip while keeping their weapons ready to fire. Then Alan noticed their prey; a small creature similar in appearance to Pansage, but with blue fur instead of green. The little monkey bolted from tree to tree, deliberately making its movements as confusing as possible. One of the men stopped for a second, quickly lining up a shot and firing, but to no avail. The sound of the rifle was indicative of a tranquilizer round. They wore high quality camouflage uniforms, and looked too official to be ragtag poachers. The Panpour they were chasing led them away from the train tracks, and away from Alan. Soon they disappeared into indiscernible forest.
“I don’t know who those guys were, but that’s not our fight,” Alan whispered. Pansage looked highly upset, as she would have understood the Panpour’s panicked squeals better than Alan or Lairon. “Keep moving, Lairon. And try to keep quiet. I think we’ll avoid them.”
The next hour passed by uneventfully. Alan constantly analyzed the area around him, while Lairon soldiered on behind, with Pansage becoming more and more restless with nothing to stimulate her weak attention span. Alan stopped for a moment and swung his duffel bag around in front of him, reaching inside and retrieving a plastic water bottle. He took a sip, and spun around to face the Pokémon. He raised the bottle to them to offer some. Pansage shook her head, pointed into a cluster of trees, and leaped off of Lairon’s back. As she hit the ground, she began running on all fours. Alan watched quizzically, and his steps turned into strides as he tried to keep up. Pansage launched herself into a patch of tall grass, disappearing from sight. Alan parted the chest-high grass with his hands, and on the other side could see a small pool of water, which Pansage was enthusiastically playing in.
Alan moved in for a closer look. This might be the place. Several kinds of flowers and plants that he could not identify dotted the dark sandy perimeter of the pool, the most common being clusters of three long leaves bunched together. They would occasionally wiggle in unison, implying some kind of sentience. Alan remembered the botanist had asked him to gather samples, but Alan knew nothing about that field of study. He couldn’t tell which ones were desirable, and more importantly, whether or not any of them were poisonous. But he wasn’t there to pick flowers. He had a clear purpose.
Lairon had just then managed to trudge through the tall grass, encountering great difficulty while trying to drag his heavy body through the tangled mess. The hulking beast approached the pool and lowered his head to drink. Both Pokémon were enjoying the break, woefully unaware of the eerie sensation Alan felt coming over him.
It was the feeling of being watched.
He slowly turned his head from left to right, scanning the trees. His Pokémon both became aware of their unsettled trainer, with Lairon donning a fierce expression and bearing his teeth. Pansage reacted with much less hostility, and darted off back to the grass from which the group passed through to reach the grove. She dove into the grass, and a feminine shriek that most definitely did not belong to the Pokémon could be heard. Then, a figure emerged, with the monkey sitting atop its shoulder.
“God damn it, I should have expected as much,” Alan let out with a sigh of frustration.
“I’m sorry, I…” Leah drifted off. She had nothing to say, and wore a look of embarrassment on her face.
It was more than embarrassment, she appeared downright ashamed. But was she ashamed for having disobeyed Alan, or from having been caught following him?
“You knew all along that you’d follow me out here, didn’t you?” he asked.
“No, not exactly… I went in the warehouse and was not going to leave, but Nathan was so involved in his textbook I knew he wouldn’t notice…”
“Why did you come? Did you think I couldn’t handle it myself? Or were you worried about Pansage?”
“I came because… I wanted to find my Pokémon… If I stop looking, I’ll feel like I’m giving up on it.”
“…Leah, it’s been months since then. There’s no guarantee your Pokémon stayed in this area, or if it even survived its last stand against the Prankster. There’s a difference between giving up and coming to terms with reality…”
His words struck her hard. She lowered her head, looking defeated. However unrealistic it was to expect her old Pokémon to still be alive, she still felt like she owed it enough to keep searching.
Again, Alan felt as if he was being watched.
“Leah… Did you come alone?”
“Yes, of course I did,” she said. “What’s wrong?”
“I think something is watching us,” Alan said, looking over his shoulder. Leah did the same.
“Alan…” she said quietly.
“I see one.”
“What? What do you see?”
She could only raise a finger and point. Alan looked in the direction, and saw a small set of glowing orange eyes peering through the bushes. They belonged to a small white body that looked like it was made of fluff. Suddenly, an inexplicable breeze conjured up and swept the stalker away.
“That was one of them,” Leah began. “One of the Prankster’s followers. A Cottonee.”
“Where did that breeze come from? The trees block out all of the wind in here.”
“It’s Whimsicott. They’re purely a Grass type Pokémon, but by some innate ability they can control the wind, summoning Gusts and even Hurricanes. Cottonee rely on the wind to move around… I bet Whimsicott moves dozens of them around here with its Tailwinds, like a puppet-master.”
“Whimsicott?” Alan asked. “You mean the Prankster?”
“Yes… It knows we’re here.”
“Then we have to set up. Here, take these.”
Alan reached into his duffel bag and took out a set of six glue traps, handing three of them to Leah. They were small flat squares, no larger than a dinner plate. Alan would typically use them to catch intruding rodents in people’s homes, but he figured they’d be just as good for trapping the fluffy body of a Cottonee.
“Set these up on open ground, wherever the Cottonee are most likely to descend from their glides,” said Alan.
Another strong breeze picked up, carrying with it two Cottonee. They did not move to attack, merely riding the winds in a circle around the grove.
“Leah what are they doing?”
“They’re scouts. Sizing us up.” She said it so matter-of-factly, making it seem like the Prankster and its gang operated like a military unit.
“Lairon!” Alan shouted. “Use Roar! Make it a good one!”
The metallic beast reared his head, and bellowed out a thunderous Roar, and the winds responded by instantly carrying both Cottonee away, out of sight.
“What was that for?” Leah asked.
“Well, if they’re sizing us up, I want them to have an accurate reading,” Alan said, with a smirk. “Don’t want the Prankster to go and think it can just send one of its underlings to deal with us.”
Without warning, a powerful blast of wind enveloped the grove. Alan’s sticky traps went flying from their placements, landing on inopportune pieces of turf, with some even landing upside down. The wind didn’t let up, and started circling the grove. It was Hurricane force, and created a barrier around the pond and surrounding area, preventing anyone inside from trying to escape. Alan and Leah stood in the eye of the storm.
The innermost layer of winds were not as violent, and one by one Cottonee appeared out of the bushes, surfing along the sinking air. Alan could not get an accurate count at the speed they were circling him, but there must have been a dozen, if not more. Suddenly, the army of Cottonee stopped in place, being calmly suspended in the air by a perfect counterbalance of breeze. From among them emerged another being. It bore the same signature fluff and glowing eyes, with a wide smile on its face, like it was laughing.
The look on Leah’s face was all it took for Alan to confirm that they were, in fact, face to face with the notorious Prankster of Pinwheel Forest. But the creature looked so… harmless. Nothing about it looked as treacherous as it was made out to be. But it only took one move for the Whimsicott to prove its intentions. With a single thrust of its stubby arm, one of the lingering Cottonee was projected towards Alan. Just before it could make contact, it stopped short, and belched a thick layer of Cotton Spores from its ample supply. The spores surrounded and stuck to Alan, and in addition to being irritable and itchy, he could feel them slowing down his reaction time. The attacking Cottonee rejoined its allies, and they began circling the grove again on a clockwise wind ride.
With Leah’s help Alan quickly removed most of the cotton. He quickly regained his composure, with the slowdown effect of the Cotton Spores lasting only briefly.
“Lairon, we’ll never land a hit on these guys if they keep floating around us this fast. Set up a perimeter of Stealth Rocks.”
Lairon tightened up, and summoned a cluster of glowing jagged rocks. Thrusting his head, the rocks went flying into the cyclone. The glow faded, and the rocks proved too heavy for the wind to budge, becoming permanent floating obstacles in the path of the Cottonee.
Whimsicott, who was just as adept at piloting itself on the winds, flew down in front of Lairon. It shook its body in a manner resembling a dance, Taunting the Pokémon to attack. Lairon responded by positioning his skull for a Headbutt, and charged the Prankster. Whimsicott then ruffled its cream colored cotton fluff, showering Lairon with its dandruff of Stun Spores. Lairon’s charge quickly came to a halt; the beast could barely crawl while suffering the effects of Paralysis.
“Fight through it, Lairon. Quickly, Autotomize before you soak up those spores.”
The silver metallic parts of Lairon’s hide began to brightly glow, and thin layers of steel selectively started shedding off the creature. He seemed to be able to control how much of his body was purged, discarding only the Stun Spore afflicted segments. Lairon now moved quicker than normal, being freed of encumbrance. A stray Cottonee launched itself (or was propelled, as it was hard to tell if the creatures had any free will in the fight) towards Lairon, who with quick reflexes swatted it away with his bulbous Iron Tail, pivoting his entire body in execution of the attack. A second Cottonee drifted in from the left; a third from the right. In a coordinated attack, both of them fired red beams at Lairon, who could do nothing to avoid the dual assault. Through the beams, both Cottonee simultaneously Absorbed Lairon’s life force. The beast Roared in great agony as his vigor drained away, and despite the great pain he endured, his tortured growl managed to frighten the attackers off. Before the weakened Steel type could catch his breath, Whimsicott sent in another attacker, this time shooting out several Razor Leaves. The sharpened projectiles did little to Lairon’s steel encased body, but the stray leaf that found his unprotected rocky underbelly did critical damage. Lairon eyes shut as his entire body shuddered in pain.
The Prankster was in complete control of the battle, pulling out attackers as they were weakened and replacing them just as quickly, even having enough spare concentration to mostly avoid the Stealth Rocks that cluttered up the cyclone. Lairon was taking a beating, and at the rate things were going would not last much longer with a dozen Cottonee ganging up on him.
“Leah, do something!” Alan shouted. “Get Pansage in there!”
Pansage had been watching the battle nervously from her perch on Leah’s shoulder. It was clear she wanted to help, but did not know what to do.
“What do you want her to do?” Leah asked Alan.
“She has to take the pressure off Lairon so he can recover. Lairon can crush these Cottonee but not with all of them attacking him at once.”
“Take the pressure off? You want to use her as a distraction? No, I won’t sacrifice another Pokémon like that, I won’t do it-“
“Pansage will be fine, she naturally resists everything the Cottonee can do to her, and she’ll be able to dodge much more easily than Lairon could anyway. She can do it, send her in there!”
“I, I- fine, Alan, I’m going to trust you… Pansage, go! Help Lairon!”
The tiny monkey quickly looked around, counting the Cottonee as they floated by. She jumped to the ground, and scurried over to the dark sand that lined the pond’s edge. Grabbing a plant by the roots, she yanked it out, and unearthed a bright red fruit. Displaying her Gluttony, Pansage opened wide and dropped the fruit in whole. Alan looked on frustrated, wondering if what Pansage was doing had anything to do with the battle, or if the monkey was just hungry. She chewed the fruit vigorously, and her cheeks filled up as if she was storing something in them. Then, cheeks bloated, Pansage dashed to the center of the Hurricane-enclosed battlefield where Lairon struggled to keep his consciousness. Pansage jumped up on Lairon’s head, and it was finally apparent that she was performing a Bullet Seed attack. Like a machine gun, she fired the small seeded projectiles into the cyclone, hitting Cottonee with pinpoint accuracy despite their being moving targets. The force of the shots even knocked some Cottonee off their choreographed axis, causing them to collide with the Stealth Rocks they had so far been diligently avoiding.
Whimsicott looked slightly confused, taken aback by the effectiveness of Pansage’s move. The cunning Prankster eyed the monkey like it wanted to counterattack, but had a difficult enough time adjusting the strength of its cyclones to steer the Cottonee away from the Stealth Rocks. It floated high up in the middle of the battlefield, watching helplessly as Pansage ran to reload with another fruit.
Pansage grabbed another plant and yanked it from the ground, but it was not the same kind of fruit-bearing plant she had previously plucked. The three long leaves Pansage was clutching were attacked to a round green bulb; its frightened eyes making contact with Pansage’s. The green monkey quickly dropped the strange thing, which squirmed to try and escape its perceived attacker.
“A Petilil!” Leah said, shocked.
“What’s that, a Pokémon?” asked Alan.
“Yes, and look, more are sprouting up!”
More clusters of green leaves popped up from the ground, revealing themselves to have been Petilil that had burrowed into the ground. Being so close to the pond meant the soil was rich in nutrients, which must have attracted the Petilil to the area. A total of three Petilil had now emerged, and struggled to grip the ground, with the winds threatening to sweep them away.
“Who’s side are they on?” Alan asked.
“I don’t think they’re on anyone’s side,” Leah answered.
Meanwhile, Pansage had correctly harvested another fruit, and was unleashing another barrage of Bullet Seeds at the Cottonee. Lairon, though visibly aching, had recovered enough to rejoin the fight. One Cottonee was knocked out of the cyclone by Pansage’s Bullet Seeds, and without the winds to support it, helplessly fell to the ground. Lairon charged it, ramming the cotton puff with his Iron Head and knocking it out completely. Another Cottonee found itself impaled on a jagged Stealth Rock, and a third had the misfortune of being stuck to one of Alan’s still functioning sticky glue traps. The tide of battle was starting to turn in Alan’s favor, as one by one the duo of Lairon and Pansage worked together to take the swarm of Cottonee out of commission, one by one.
One Cottonee was knocked to the ground, but did not draw Lairon’s attention. Misinterpreting the Petilil as being with Alan’s group, the Cottonee singled one out and engaged it. Cottonee could not do much harm to its fellow Grass type, and Petilil could barely fight back, as all of its strength was devoted to Ingraining itself into the soil. What this led to was a war of attrition between the two, who went back and forth Absorbing each other’s energy, ending each bout in roughly the same condition as life force evenly transferred back and forth between them. If left alone to their duel, it would only be a matter of time until Petilil would ultimately become victor, as the nutrients it perpetually consumed through its Ingrained roots would always keep it just a little more topped off than Cottonee could be.
It was becoming clear that the Prankster had no innate combat skill of its own, and without its puppets to do the attacking, was quickly losing any chance of overpowering Alan and Leah’s Pokémon. In a desperate last stand, Whimsicott shook violently as it strengthened the power of its summoned Hurricane. The winds picked up rapidly, and began closing in on Alan and Leah in the middle. Both of them dropped to the ground, and clenched the grass with their fists to avoid getting swallowed up by the storm; their nails digging into the soil just to maintain a grip. Lairon tensed up his body, and by using Harden was able to withstand the wind without moving. Pansage squeezed into the small space between Lairon’s chin and the ground, the only shelter she could find.
The three Petilil didn’t stand a chance. They were uprooted by the increasingly powerful gusts, and were swept up into the cyclone along with the Cottonee – cutting short the isolated duel as both combatants became helpless debris in the storm. Petilil and Cottonee alike were being recklessly tossed around, crashing into the floating rocks. Whimsicott did not even attempt to steer its peons out of harm’s way, instead trying to output as much raw power as it could muster in its windstorm.
The Petilil, who had been mostly passive the entire battle, realized the severity of their predicament. One after another, they started to glow a bright white. The three leaves atop their heads pointed upwards and simultaneously all three Pokémon emitted piercing white beams of light that spiraled into the sky.
Working in unison, they cast a Sunny Day strong enough to overpower the Hurricane. The sun heard their plea, shining hot and bright, banishing the unnatural Hurricane from existence. With the winds dying down, the remaining Cottonee used whatever lift they had left to glide into the tree line, to relative safety. The Petilil were not so graceful, rudely plopping to the ground once the wind could not support them.
Whimsicott looked purely astonished at the turn of events, and was clearly not at all used to defeat. The shining sun dwarfed its ability to conjure storms, but the Prankster cooked up one last Tailwind to glide out on. It receded into the maze of trees, and within seconds was gone from sight.
“No! Damn it!” Alan shouted. “We had it, we had it, and it just ran away…”
“It would not submit to capture so easily… It’s known for its cleverness, after all…” Leah said slowly, but she knew her words were of no comfort to Alan.
Lairon, realizing the threat had passed, slowly loosened up. He tried to walk, but his legs gave out and he dropped down on his stomach. Pansage saw how wounded the armored Pokémon was, and tried her best to comfort him.
The Petilil thrived in the intense sunlight, moving faster than usual as they dashed away from the grove. Though they had no stake in the battle and did not even realize the Whimsicott had fled, they could tell that their grove had been compromised and only wanted a quick escape. Two of them disappeared into the bushes, but the third became fixed to another one of Alan’s glue traps that had not been overturned in the storm. The other two Petilil escaped without noticing that their kin was trapped, and thus did not turn back to assist.
Leah slowly got up off the ground. She ran her fingers through her hair, which had become littered with dry crumpled leaves, and looked around the grove. As she moved to check on the two battle-weary Pokémon that lay huddled in the center of the grove, she noticed that two of Alan’s glue traps had captured something.
“Alan, look at your traps,” she said with blooming enthusiasm.
The pest control specialist looked at one, and then the other, and seemed to remember for the first time since encountering the Prankster that his primary job was finding Pokémon to send to his employer. One trap had just ensnared the fleeing Petilil, which squirmed frantically trying to shake itself loose of the sticky tile. Stuck to the other was a Cottonee, and by now the Prankster’s leftover puppet had no energy left to squirm, merely staying still and accepting its entrapment.
“I guess some good came out of this, then,” Alan said. “At least I’ll get a couple of Pokémon to ship back home to my employer.”
“What about the Prankster? You gave Master Nathan your word that you would get rid of it. The forest isn’t safe with it out there…”
“I have a feeling the Prankster won’t be trying anything for a while. But I’m still not giving up. I don’t know when, but I’m not letting this be the end of it.”
“What about those two, on the traps?”
“Well… I can’t transport them like that, so I’ll need to get them into Pokeballs. Do you think they’re weak enough to be caught like that?”
Leah had no answer, and only watched as Alan readied two Pokeballs, and threw them at Cottonee and Petilil…
Target Pokemon: Cottonee & Petilil
Required Characters: 20-40k
Actual Characters: 43k
Ready for Grading
13th March 2012, 03:14 AM #3
Re: The Prankster of Pinwheel Forest
I'll have the grade done sorta soon. I won't take forever about it, of course. BUT YEAH.
5th April 2012, 12:37 PM #4
Re: The Prankster of Pinwheel Forest
Introduction: In the first few paragraphs of your story, we get a decent insight into the character that you've presented as the protagonist of the story, emphasised by your referral to him as a 'pest control specialist' or something thereabouts -- pests being the evil, I'd presume. Backstories like these can liven up an introduction a bit, and allow the reader to get into the skin of the character you're trying to introduce and write about. They'll understand a lot more about him through such an introduction -- what he does, a little about his past, and, through it, they can deduce why he would do certain things or act in a certain way. So, in writing the first few paragraphs solely about the main character, you establish someone who a reader can know more about, and it gives the story a firmness, and starting with personal history can give a story the feeling that it is a story.
That aside, however, not all readers are going to be particularly entranced by an in-depth description of a character, place or simply a singular subject. Concentrating all of that narrative onto one subject can become quickly tedious for a reader, who sees no reason to read this story if it seems too much like a biography, which is your main failing point -- by putting it on the reader to absorb all this information about Alan at once, you're deterring them from seeing past him and into the promise of a story, which is where the main part of the introduction comes in: you need a conflict to be shown.
A conflict is really what gives any story promise; by showing or hinting at one early in the story, you're more likely to keep the reader interested. An interested reader will most likely read to the end to see the resolution. I'm not saying that your method of introduction was entirely wrong, however: it has its merits, and even then, you can still intertwine conflict in with the backstory -- it's entirely up to your creativity. I have to say, though, I was very impressed with the introduction you cooked up, but for the shortcoming in the lack of conflict.
Plot: Your plot seems solid, well laid-out and paced. The pacing was done well, in my opinion, and the reasoning behind that pace generally clear: Alan was there to do a job, and the story was about him fulfilling that task. I mean, there was obviously more to it, but that was generally the basic (very) synopsis of it. I did like the idea of it, really. Pest control has never really been an area I've seen written about, but you seem to have done the task rather well. It's certainly original, I'll give that to you, and I believe originality deserves to be awarded. Some parts of the plot seemed a little bland plot-wise, but I suppose the blandness ties in with what I'd imagine the life of a pest control specialist to be like -- that is, not very exciting.
In any case, I didn't spot anything that was overly wrong with your plot as a whole. I particularly liked the element of characterisation which I mentioned earlier -- you did a fine job of representing the different personalities of the characters that you wrote about in the story, especially Alan. As far as your characters went, there were no complaints whatsoever, because I felt that you represented them in a way that was proportional to their importance in the story, and even then you gave them individuality. It may have been unintentional or not, but I think that you should pay more attention to this trait in the future, and use it to your advantage as a writer, as you are very good with your characters.
Grammar/spelling: I has a sad. I couldn't spot anything worth mentioning without seeming nitpicky.
Detail/description: While your description was good, it tends to balance towards one area -- mainly, the description of people and Pokémon within the story, and that's all well and good, but you need to focus on widening your horizons a little bit as far as description goes. That means you need to include surroundings better -- what you have are, for the most part, trifling descriptions of locations, which doesn't establish a very firm ground for the reader to believe where the story is set. If it was a person reading that knew nothing whatsoever about Pokémon, they wouldn't have a good idea of what Pinwheel Forest looks like, and I don't think they would have been helped by what description you did include of it.
Now, I'm not saying that you need to go and describe everything, but you do need a lot of description to make your story vivid and realistic. As well as including details of visual surroundings, I want you to try and incorporate all the senses if they are applicable -- the smells and sounds, most importantly. The reader can visualise much better if more than just sight is factored in. However, for the details you did include, I suppose you did quite well, considering that this is only Medium-rank, really. Even still, try to remember to include more things in your bubble of description.
Battle: I never grade these because I'm unsure how to. Shoo.
Length: It's perfectly fine.
Outcome: ... the two Poké Balls shook for a few moments before coming to rest, a sharp ping resounding through the area. Petilil and Cottonee had been caught!
Congratulations and have fun with your new Pokémon. You're a writer with some promise and, with some touching up in places, you'll be a great asset to the stories of URPG. It's been a pleasure to read and grade (even if it did take almost a month). Thank you for writing this!