The midday sun beat down upon the cerulean waves, throwing brilliant sparkles across the sandy expanse of beach. Few people were out at the hottest point of the day; a lone child swam between the wave crests, his bemused parents watching carefully from under a tattered blue beach umbrella.
The boy was determined to enjoy his vacation, coming at a time when drought plagued his hometown. It was his first visit to an ocean; the endless expanse of water meeting the horizon fascinated him. He would periodically ride along the crest of a wave, looking southward past the unceasing line of further waves.
The crashing surf was too rough for his friend Ferrier, the Lotad that had helped save his life, so he swam alone undaunted by the powerful currents that kept tugging at his feet. Swimming in a lake was much easier than swimming in rough seas, however, and he would tire quickly; retreating to his parents’ beach blanket to rest, and setting out again, dashing across the hot sands in between.
After four or five repetitions, his parents encouraged him to visit the beachfront ice cream stand with them. Tagging along restlessly, he waited as the scrawny teenager scooped vanilla into a waffle cone. There were several canopied tables near the counter, and he took a seat at one as he waited for his parents to decide what they wanted.
Movement nearby caught a corner of his eye, and he turned to see a familiar figure striding casually across the sand in his direction. A tall man dressed in black waved jauntily at him; sunlight glinted off the half-dozen Pokéballs at his belt. He greeted Evan warmly at a distance, stopping outside the ring of tables when he saw Evan’s parents look at him with misgiving.
“I’m glad that I ran into you, Evan. I’ve been meaning to give you something for a while.” He turned to the figures standing beside the boy. “Are you Evan’s parents? I’ve heard about you. My name is Davis, and I’m one of the talent scouts for the Violet City trainer’s school.”
Evan’s mother spoke first. “So, you’re the gentleman who arranged for Evan to be enrolled? When we mentioned you, the clerk started falling over himself to give us tuition aid and scholarships.”
“We wanted to thank you for the opportunity,” Evan’s father said. “My job doesn’t pay enough that we could really consider it, but with your help, we know he’ll get the best in education.” The men shook hands, and everyone seemed to relax a little.
Davis seemed to finally remember the original point of his visit. “Anyways, Evan, they handed these out at the school, but you were on vacation with your family, so I volunteered to bring it to you. Here.”
Reaching into a pocket, Davis pulled out a black device about the size of a paperback novel. A large crimson R was featured prominently on one side; Evan took the item gingerly. Discovering hinges along one of the edges, he opened up the device.
“It’s called a Pokédex; it’s similar to a Pokémon encyclopedia. There’s a little lens on the front, here.” He pointed at a corner of the device. “If you aim it at a Pokémon, it’ll search the database and bring up what information is known. It also serves as your ID; if you press the white button near the bottom, it’ll verify your trainer status. Go ahead, try it.”
Evan did as instructed, and the Pokédex chirped politely. “I am a Pokédex programmed for the trainer Evan Fardreamer of the Rocketeers from the Violet City trainer school.”
Evan smiled. “Thanks, Davis,” he said. “This is really cool.”
“Well, it’s also part of an extra credit project. Everyone back at the school got to write a report, but since you’re the resident overachiever, we’ve got one better; your assignment is to catch a Shellos to bring back to the school. The Pokédex there can help you, and that’s the only hint I’m allowed to give you.”
Evan relished the thought of a challenge. He distractedly waved goodbye as Davis walked away, thoroughly engrossed in the Pokédex before him. He’d never heard of the Pokémon before, much less knew where to find one.
A small red button caught his eye; in tiny black letters, it said ‘Search’. Again the device chirped politely. “Enter criteria for Pokémon search.”
Unsure how to proceed, he spoke to the device. “I need to know more about Shellos.”
The Pokédex beeped a few times, let out a soft whir, then displayed an image of a small pink Pokémon with a long neck, white underbelly, and several pink fleshy knobs atop its head. “Shellos, the Sea Slug Pokémon. Multiple Formes known, displaying most likely in current region.”
“Pokédex, where would I be able to find a Shellos to catch?” Evan asked the device, trying to match its politeness.
“Searching… Shellos are noted to live in seaside caves. They are more likely to congregate where the tide rises and falls less than two meters total.”
Evan was stumped. “Hey, mom, dad, do you know where there are any caves around here?”
His parents looked thoughtful. His dad spoke at last; “Your mother hasn’t spent any time in the area, but I came here a few times as a kid. I think there are some caves further up the beach.”
That was excellent news. “Want to come with me to find my extra credit?”
His parents smiled. “Sure, honey, we’ll come along,” his mother said. “Your Growlithe won’t like the cave much, though, will it?”
“That’s okay, I still have Ferrier. He should have no problem in there.” Evan pulled a Pokéball from his pocket as he spoke, and sent out his Lotad. The rotund blue Pokémon inclined his lily pad head jauntily, and the four set off up the beach.
It took them nearly an hour to traverse the shore, as it turned from sandy beaches to rocky cliffs, but they eventually reached the caverns his father had remembered. “I don’t remember there ever being Pokémon in those caves, but they may have moved in since I was a kid. That was quite a while ago.”
The first few openings weren’t large enough for any of them save Lotad to enter; they continued searching, and finally found an entry large enough even Evan’s parents could go in by ducking their heads. The roar of the surf behind them turned to a rhythmic echo that filled the cave system. The path twisted and turned, making a difficult trek; however, none of the frequent splits were large enough to worry about getting lost.
They realized, after several minutes of travel, that they were gently descending deeper underground. The temperature was much cooler than it had been outside, but eventually stabilized just above clammy. All of them were beginning to amass a fine collection of scrapes and bruises from the rough going, but Evan’s determination pushed them onward.
Finally they arrived at a large cavern; the floor sloped away beneath them, rising again on the far side a hundred feet away to meet the ceiling that arched in reverse. The whole floor was surprisingly smooth; Evan understood why a moment later, when a pink Pokémon matching the description from the Pokédex crawled in from one of the side passages.
As it crossed toward the middle, it left behind a thin film of a slick liquid. At this distance, Evan couldn’t tell very much about it, but it seemed to be helping wear down any surface irregularities. He kept watching as several more began coming from other side tunnels; within a few minutes, a dozen or so were loosely congregated in the bottom of the area.
How on earth was he going to separate them? He didn’t think that he’d be able to get just one of them involved in a battle, without the others joining in. Suddenly, he had an idea.
“Ferrier,” he whispered to the Lotad, “Use your Mist ability to fill the cavern, and let’s see if we can’t peel one of them off on its own.”
The Lotad complied, and began spewing a frigid, grey cloud of mist. It took several more minutes to notice the effect, but shortly afterwards a decent cloud of it had built up. “We’re going to try and capture one, Mom, Dad. I’ll be right back.” They nodded as he set off into the room, walking quietly to not disturb any of the Shellos prematurely.
He could hear them in the middle of the room, rustling around; they sounded confused, as if they weren’t accustomed to sudden fog banks appearing inside a room. “Lotad, go ahead and use your Bubblebeam ability, let’s see if we can’t disorient them some more.”
His partner began blowing a stream of bubbles toward the dark mass in the middle of the room; surprised cries and loud pops indicated that at least some of them were hitting their mark. The dark mass became less distinct as the individual Pokémon began to spread out.
“Good going, now let’s pick one off with an Energy Ball!”
The Lotad seemed to hesitate briefly before complying. Its lily pad began to glow with a soft, green light, and a ball of pure energy started gathering in front of the Pokémon’s open mouth. After it swelled to the size of a basketball, it fired toward the nearest dark patch which emitted a pained squeal.
The blast had cleared enough of the mist to catch a glimpse of pink and white; Evan drew an empty Pokéball from his pocket and threw it at the injured Pokémon, holding his breath in anticipation as the red and white sphere rocked back and forth…
(~9080 chars w/ spaces) Ready to grade!