Elm’s laboratory was bisected by two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that spanned the width of the building. In the entry half, which was mostly empty, stood one of Elm’s assistants. As soon as I passed by, he called out, “I’m not Professor Elm.”
That was Ed. I think the Professor kept him around to see how he interacted with Pokemon, if there were any differences in the way a Pokemon could bond to a child-like adult rather than a fully-functioning adult. Scientists do funny things like that, but everyone liked Ed and he liked everyone else, even when he came up with such random stuff.
At any rate, telling Ed about the weird kid outside would not be helpful, so I just smiled and said hi, then went on.
“Gold!” exclaimed the Professor, “You made it! I have a job for you–”
“Hi. Listen, real quick before you start, there is–”
“I want to study how Pokemon evolve,” he continued, overly excited about his research and not paying attention to anything I said. “And I think that companionship has something to do with the way a Pokemon develops.”
My stomach twisted into a knot. This wasn’t going where I had hoped.
“So, today, I want you to have one of my rare Pokemon.” He gestured to a display case on the far wall. Sitting in each of three divots was a Pokeball, a government-licensed matter matrix that houses a Pokemon.
I was torn. For one thing, he used the word, “Rare,” which is an enticing word, suggesting that I was being offered something other than the usual Hoothoot or Pidgey that infested the area around New Bark Town. As a kid, I wanted my own Pokemon more than anything. It wasn’t until Mom’s boyfriend that I started to avoid them.
To be honest, my childhood dream was to be a Pokemon trainer, but I was scared off from it, day by day, as I grew up.
Well, one look wouldn’t hurt. I would just have Elm get someone else to be a companion to his Pokemon.
A hologram displayed above each Pokeball. The first one displayed a green, somewhat shapeless green thing with a leaf on its head. “Species: Chikorita – Type: Grass” The next said, “Species: Totodile – Type: Water” and was a spunky looking, not to mention threatening, blue thing with a pointy snout and sharp teeth.
But then I saw the Fire type, Cyndaquil. Its squinty eyes and huddled mass were so pathetic, so weak-looking. It had a long snout, rather cute, but round instead of pointy like that of the Totodile.
Well, letting it out of its Pokeball to get a closer look wouldn’t hurt.
I picked up the Pokeball and, nervous, pushed the button on the side. It popped open and the matter-matrix released, a glowing mass of shapeless substance spilling out and reforming on the ground. In two seconds, the Cyndaquil was on the floor, sniffing around. When it saw me, the two spots on its back ignited into red flames. It took me off guard and I jumped back. Cyndaquil squeaked and jumped back as well.
“Looks like two of a kind,” he said. “Is that the Pokemon you choose?”
Well, it wouldn’t hurt to say yes.
“Please,” I whispered.
“Do you want to give her a nickname?” he asked.
“Tiko,” I said, without hesitating. The Pokeball in my hand beeped, registering the name of the Cyndaquil. It beeped a second time when it recognized my trainer card and registered my serial number. This Cyndaquil, Tiko, was now my Pokemon.
After a moment, Professor Elm’s computer chimed.
“Hm?” he said, walking to the computer. “Oh, hey Gold, one second.” He read through the email. “Hey, I got this message from a friend–people call him Mr. Pokemon. You know, I was hoping you could walk with Cyndaquil there and take notes on how she develops. If you don’t mind, how about you go run this errand for me? You can walk there without any trouble.”
“Y-you mean… through the grass and everything?”
Ah, phobias. You make us so eloquent.
“You’ll be fine. Tiko there will take care of you. You have nothing to worry about.”
I put the Pokeball in my backpack, and Professor Elm busied himself with something on his computer.
Embarrassed yet excited, I crouched down next to Tiko.
“You ready to go for a walk, Tiko?”
She cocked her head, as if the name didn’t make sense to her, then stared into my eyes.
I know how you feel, Tiko. Nothing makes sense sometimes.
“Mr. Pokemon lives north of Cherrygrove City. If Tiko gets hurt, you bring her back here to this device hooked up to my computer.” He turned to point it out. It looked like a steam tray at a buffet, but there were places to put Pokeballs in a three by two arrangement. “Otherwise,” he continued, “have a good trip.”
As I turned to go, overwhelmed by what was happening, Ed, the assistant, ran up to me.
“Here, I want you to have these,” he said. He gave me some “potions” as they were sometimes called. Really, it was mostly water and disinfectant so that wounds didn’t fester.
“Pokemon are weak in the beginning. Don’t hesitate to use a potion if you think yours is in danger.”