Pokemon – Chapter 21

May 10, 2013

Two men were yelling at one another just ahead of us. I shushed Huff’n’puff, and we hid behind a tree. The rain had just let up and I hoped our footsteps hadn’t been heard. I had a bad feeling about this.

“You can’t do this!” yelled one man, a balding, older person. He was so angry, a vein bulged from his head.

“And who are you to stop us? Hm? I’m a member of Team Rocket. You don’t fuck with us!”

“Team Rocket doesn’t exist,” claimed the

Dude declares himself a member of team rocket. SAys they broke up for awhile and got back together to pursue Giovanni’s ambition. He punches the townsperson in the face before standing guard at the town well.

Gold asks him what’s up, and the rocket guy claims to be protecting travelers from the danger of the well.

Gold goes into town, visits the Pokemon Center. He doesn’t want to deal with the Team Rocket stuff, so he tries to go to the Gym. A Rocket member blocks the door, advertising slowpoketails.

So Gold tries to go see Kurt about making some pokeballs out of apricorns. After all, he has 1 yellow, three green, three pink, and two black. Finds one white in Kurt’s yard. Takes it anyway.

Kurt refuses to make Pokeballs for Gold. He tells Gold about Team Rocket–an evil gang that uses Pokemon for their dirty work. They were supposed to have disbanded ten years ago, but now they’re mutilating Slowpoke for their tails! Kurt brandishes a katana and vows to give them a lesson in pain. Then he dashes out of the home.

Gold returns to the well, finding nothing but a bloody patch where the guard had been only an hour before.


Pokemon – Chapter 20

May 6, 2013

To recount every minute detail of the next day and a half would be excruciating and unnecessary. I wouldn’t say it was an uneventful trip, only that it was mundane in the life of a Pokemon Trainer.

On day 1, I caught a Mareep. He was awesome and put up a great fight. Since I was some distance away from the Pokemon Center and didn’t want to use up my potions all on day one, I caught it with a Heal Ball. I named him Amps, and we did a lot of training that day.

But here’s the breakdown of Pokemon I killed on the way to Union Cave.

Rattata – 6

Zubat – 1

Bellsprout – 3

Nidoran male – 1 – Tough battle with Snaps

Nidoran female – 1

Mareep – 7

Poliwag – 2

Magikarp – 4

Goldeen – 1

Wooper – 1 – Tough battle for Snaps and Tiko

Pidgey – 2

Spearow – 1

Total: 30

The battles were all pretty easy–even against other trainers. The exceptions, of course, were with a male Nidoran, who gave Snaps hell (that bubble attack wasn’t cutting it.) and a Wooper, who soaked up the bubbles and spat them back out at Tiko.

Early on the second day, after a good rest, I caught a Hoppip. I had to use my one Great Ball since it kept using synthesis to heal itself. Great survival tactic on her part, but terrible when I’m trying to weaken her enough to catch her. I dunno why, but the nickname, “Huff’n’puff” seemed appropriate. She was cute. Whenever she followed me around outside her Pokeball, she would chirp and squeal at everything. Very chatty, very adorable.

Sometime in the afternoon, we reached a Pokemon Center just outside Union Cave. A waved to a fat guy in a pink shirt who had set up a little stand outside. The wave was meant to be friendly yet non-inviting, but he approached me anyway.

“Hey, kid!”

Ugh.

“Hello.”

“Can I interest you in a Slowpoke Tail? They’re super delicious!”

“Sure, whatever,” I said, not believing it could actually be a Slowpoke Tail. “How much?”

“Only a million pokedollars.”

“No, really,” I said, feeling the twinge of hunger and realizing that I’d never tried Slowpoke before. “How much? I’ll take one.”

I pulled out my Trainer card. It buzzed–insufficient funds.

“Seriously? A million dollars? No one can afford that.”

“I don’t set the price,” he said. “And I was told you kids were loaded these days.”

“You aren’t from around here, are you?”

“Sorry. I’m from Kanto. Culture shock.” He threw up his arms in mock theatrics.

I nodded, frustrated that I’d have to wait in line for food at the looming Pokemon Center. At least there it would be free.

*

The next day, my trip through Union Cave, was a bit more exciting. I only caught one Pokemon, a Sandshrew I named Ricardo, but two of my Pokemon evolved. Snaps evolved into Wartortle and grew some fangs. Badass, right? He learned how to use bite, and I was tempted to go back and find a Wooper, just to reestablish my place in the food chain.

Amps evolved too–into a Flaafy. He lost some of his staticky yellow wool, but learned how to stand up on two legs. When he learned thundershock, things were really looking up.

Union Cave was pretty cool. It was well-lit, mostly by light that trickled in from above. A man who was practicing fire-breathing claimed to be the one casting all the light, but I seriously doubt it.

The path was clear and I found a few lost potions and balls and whatnot lying around the place.

So, an overview:

I killed:

Sandshrew – 6

Onix – 3

Vulpix – 1

Zubat – 1

Geodude – 6

Machop – 1

Koffing – 2

Slowpoke – 1

Rattata – 1

Note that the Slowpoke was owned by a trainer, so I couldn’t very well cut off its tail and have a taste. I emerged from the cave to a huge field of grass, but it was raining pretty hard. That made training Huff’n’puff harder since synthesis didn’t seem to work as well when it was cloudy. Still, it was a successful day, and Huff’n’puff really came a long way. She started quivering with poison spores when I sent her into battle against the Rattata. I knew that would come in handy someday. She was proud of herself for learning it, too, as evidenced by the heightened chattering, the squeals of interest in whatever she saw on the landscape, and how she started to nudge me forward; she was begging for more adventure.

As the day came to a close, we saw the lights of Azalea Town filter through the treetops. Soon, we’d have a nice warm place to sleep and a new gym to face. I was excited, and so was Huff’n’puff.

However, when we climbed the last little hill into the town, we happened upon an altercation.


Pokemon – Chapter 19

May 3, 2013

As soon as I left the gym, Professor Elm called.

“Gold! Howdy! How are you doing?” he asked.

“Pretty good. I just got my first gym bad–”

“Dandy. Really. Listen, I have something I wanted to discuss with you.”

I sighed.

“Yes?” I asked.

“I want you to carry that mysterious egg around. Who knows? Maybe it will hatch. Oh my science, look at the time. Listen, my assistant should have the egg at the PokeMart there in Violet City.”

“How did you know I was in Violet City?”

“Gotta go! Bye!”

The line went dead.

I liked the guy, don’t get me wrong, but he could be awfully weird sometimes.

Since Quartza and Tiko were both in good shape, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to go straight to the PokeMart. Quartza was still bounding along happily at her victory, and I thought she deserved a victory lap around town.

The PokeMart was painted blue on the outside and sat just a few blocks west of the gym. In no time, I was there. Inside it was clean and organized–a regular convenience store, by all standards.

A man in a lab coat greeted me.

“You must be Gold,” he assumed.

“Yes. And you are?” I didn’t recognize him. Actually, I thought Ed was Elm’s only assistant.

“I’m Ralph. I’m usually out running errands for Elm, so I hardly get to stop in New Bark Town before I have to leave again.”

“I see. Elm called me a minute ago, said you had something for me.”

“Yessir. You should recognize it, at any rate.”

I did. He produced the egg from his bag; it was as big as a human infant, only round and covered by a hard shell.

“Elm really praised your ability to do good work,” Ralph said. “So he is expecting to see great things from you. According to our research, an egg will only hatch if it’s kept in close contact with other Pokemon. Carry it with you and it should hatch in no time.”

“Okay then,” I said, gingerly placing the egg into my own bag. “I’ll let you know how it goes.”

“Great. I’ll take my leave then. Good luck.”

Ralph left. Then it was just me, Quartza, an egg, and a few window-shopping customers.

I perused the selection, but found nothing satisfactory. Then, on second thought, I decided to buy a few potions with my winnings. Wouldn’t hurt to have some on the road to Azalea Town.

The second I was out the door, however, I was approached by Geisha. She was stunning… in a teenage curious dream sort of way. Her jade-green silk robes shimmered in the light of the setting sun. Her white face and red eyes stole my gaze.

“Good day, sir,” she purred.

“Good… day. Um, to you too.”

She swished her hips and came closer.

“I couldn’t help overhearing,” she said, her voice breathy, “That you happen to have a…” she reached out, touching my shoulder with a single finger, “Pokemon egg.”

It didn’t occur to me how creepy this all was. How did she know about the egg? Why was she approaching me over it? Was there someone stealing it out of my backpack while I stared at her perfect porcelain cheeks? Was her rope parting slightly in the torso area? Affording me a fleeting glimpse at the pillowy heaven underneath?

“…trust you will take good care of it.”

“What?” I blurted out, suddenly aware of time passing.

“Excuse me,” she said, somehow blushing under all of  that makeup. “I rambled. I meant only to say that your egg is very important. You must take good care of it, and we trust that you will.”

“You can ramble any time,” I said.

She giggled, a trained, perfected, impeccably timed giggle that struck my… lust buttons? I dunno, I’m not good with metaphors when staring at a Geisha.

“We will meet again,” she said.

I stood in the street, staring at the shimmering contours of her backside as the silken robe swished back and forth with her gait. Soon, she was gone, and I was left with only a very clear image in my mind.

When I regained my reasoning abilities, I tried to plan out the next leg of my trip. Falkner, as crazy as he was, said to go to Azalea Town. The creepy murder tree was probably still standing between Violet and Goldenrod City. I checked my PokeGear map. It was a long journey south to Azalea Town. Probably a day or two to the Union Cave, then a day of hiking through there and maybe another day between there and Azalea Town.

It was already late, so I couldn’t very well travel very far before nightfall. Though I was excited to get a move on, I decided to stay put, and spend one more night at the Pokemon Center.

Where I took a very cold shower.


Pokemon – Chapter 18

April 29, 2013

My breath caught in my throat. I stepped out of the gym, looked at the building, then went back inside. Yup. Not crazy.

The gym was bigger on the inside. It went up at least four stories, but the outside suggested it was no more than twelve feet high inside. Was I about to travel in time, as well as dimension?

While I admired the intense change of scale, a man approached me. He was middle aged, but his hair was completely white. He wore sunglasses indoors, as well as a full suit: white suitcoat with black slacks.

“Yo, Champ in the Making!”

“You’re so flattering,” I said, still staring up, wondering. “I bet you say that to all the pretty girls.”

“You got me,” he said, chuckling. “But if it makes you feel any better, I think there is a champion inside all of us.”

Sure, I thought. Like Mom and her boyfriend. They’re real champions, I’ll bet.

“So,” I said, pulling my thoughts away from the impossible interior dimensions, the platforms overhead, and the circling birds near the skylights. “Who are you?”

“Me?” he asked, innocently. “I’m your coach. I’m here to give you some hints about what you’re up against.”

“Why would they allow someone like you inside the gym if you’re working against them?”

“Hush now. Don’t give me away.”

He smiled, as if privy to some inside joke–but there was almost a sense of fear in his brow. Maybe the sunglasses concealed his true intentions.

“Anyway,” he said, breaking the awkward silence, “You should know that flying has advantages over grass and bug-types. But they’re weak to Electricity–”

“And Rocks,” I interrupted.

“Very good,” he said, a smile spanning his face. “I don’t think you’ll have much trouble then.”

I felt the fluttering in my stomach, the fear of failure looming–

“Scratch that,” he continued. “You’ll be positively smashing.”

Despite being a stranger, his words motivated me. The fear abated, and I nodded and smiled at him, then stepped forward to the elevator.

As soon as the computer registered my weight, and the weight of Quartza, the elevator shot towards the heavens.

The scaffolding, a sorry excuse for sturdy footing, lead to the gym leader, who danced on a platform in the distance. How pretentious. It couldn’t just be a flat room and a guy at a desk who takes challenges according to his calendar?

Whatever. I stepped forward, determined to beat the leader and his two lackeys that stood in my way.

Their Pidgey and Spearow fell to Quartza’s massive thrown rocks.

It was weird to watch, but when I ordered Quartza to use rock throw, she would hold out a hand and it would reshape, forming a ball, then her fingers would form around the ball and she’d throw it–just like that. Rock turning to liquid, grinding and reshaping, then bam! She has a basketball-sized rock to throw.

And her aim was spot on today. The birds fell to the dirt floor far below, landing with a thud and splat.

I had to tell myself that I was only doing this to get to the Pokemon League. Every Pokemon I killed had to be mourned.

I took a moment with each trainer, but they didn’t have the same reverence that I did. I left them alone, hoping to have my badge by the end of the day, so I could forget about everything that had happened. The murder tree, the stupid tourist trap ruins, the creepy archaeologist and his stupid clipboard, and finally, the physics-defying Pokemon Gym. I wanted that stupid badge.

“Hiya,” said the leader. “I’m Falkner.”

“I know. It said on the door.”

“I’m going to show the world the power of bird Pokemon.”

I looked Falkner over. How old was he? 15?

“They say that you can clip a bird’s wings with a jolt of electricity–”

“And they would be right.”

“–but I’m going to prove that they can’t! I’m Falkner and–”

“You’re weird. How long has it been since you’ve had a decent meal?”

I may have been trying to intimidate him, but really, he seemed a bit… out of touch with reality. Call it a moment of weakness.

“Prepare to battle!” he cried, throwing a Pokeball straight up, where it released a Pidgey who fluttered in place for a moment before landing on Falkner’s extended arm.

I stepped aside and let Quartza hop to the center of the platform.

“Pidgey! Use sand-attack!”

The Pidgey dove off Falkner’s arm, flipping up to hover just in front of Quartza, where it kicked up a bunch of sand right into Quartza’s eyes.

“You little cheating twerp!” I said, hoping Quartza wouldn’t wander around blindly until she found the edge of the platform and a hundred-foot plummet. “Quartza, try a rock throw.”

To my surprise, Quartza was able to zero in on Pidgey’s mocking flapping feather beak and huck a boulder at it.

Bullseye.

Down, down, down, the bird fell.

But when I looked up, Falkner already had his Pidgeotto out and standing next to him. Pidgeotto were quite a bit bigger than Pidgey, and they had these cool feathers on their foreheads. It almost felt bad to hurt it.

“Pidgeotto, use gust.”

“You’re kidding, right?” I asked, watching the blast of air hit Quartza. She looked around as if to say, “Funny place for a gentle breeze round my nethers.” and I ordered her to use rock throw again.

The rock struck the Pidgeotto square in the chest, knocking it off the platform. Both Falkner and I ran to the edge of the platform and looked down, but the Pidgeotto flew back up. Battered, bloody, and bruised, but better able to abandon alliteration–err, its shit was harmed, but alive.

“We can still fly!” cheered Falkner.

“Are you high?”

“The wind is finally with us! Pidgeotto! Use gust!”

Once again, gust was not very effective. I no longer felt bad about killing this remarkable bird–I was putting it out of its misery, dealing with this psychotic gym leader.

“Rock throw.”

Like its predecessors, the Pidgeotto fell to a bone-shattering death.

“Aw,” sobbed Falkner. “My dad’s cherished bird Pokemon…”

“What?!” I asked. “You let me kill your dad’s Pokemon? What’s wrong with you?”

“Well,” he said, ignoring me. “I guess you earned it. Here’s your Zephyr Badge!”

He handed me a little pin.

“And take this! It’s a TM. Roost.”

He handed me a little device.

“And I suggest you tackle the other gyms as well. Head to Azalea Town!”

“Shut up. Come on Quartza.”

Quartza bounced along, proud of her success.


Pokemon – Chapter 17

April 26, 2013

I’ll admit it. I was nervous about facing the gym leader. Falkner, they called him, the flying-type leader.

Was I capable of defeating him? Or was Quartza’s now-scarred face an omen of things to come?

I stood out in front of the gym for longer than I should have. The quaint, comforting city, with its ponds and trees and somber paint scheme–you’d think it would make me feel better, calm me down and help me face the challenge. But, alas, I was a victim to my own anxiety. I skipped town, heading west.

I don’t know what I planned to find, how it would help me on my journey, or why I thought skipping the gym would get me closer to proving myself to Mom’s boyfriend.

So I spent a few hours traveling west, only to be blocked by a weird tree in the middle of the road. The trees on either side were too thick and dark to consider going around, and the weird thing before me seemed intent on knocking my head off my shoulders if I got to close.

In fact, there was blood on its branches. What the hell? Was it a Pokemon? I didn’t stick around.

So I went south of town to look at the little tourist trap–the Ruins of Alph.

Inside, the office building was non-descript. Plain walls, aluminum floors–dusty from the boots of archaeologists–and there sat two display boxes where various fossils were on display. It seemed to be geared toward school kids on field trips.

I went back outside and followed the stone path to one of the buildings. Apparently, some ancient culture built the structures. Now, the insides had been renovated with electricity and proper lighting. I busied myself with a mosaic display: one of those “solve the puzzle to see the hidden picture!” things for kids.

But when I put the pieces in place, the floor underneath me collapsed.

I fell into the darkness.

“Ugh,” I winced, checking myself over for injuries. I was lucky that Quartza didn’t fall on me–that would have been the end of my story.

“Wow!” came a voice.

“Huh? Who’s there?”

“You solved the puzzle!” The voice grew louder.

A glow creeped around the corner; a lantern popped into view.

“You just might have the gift!” the man said.

When the light was close enough, I could see him. He was grossly unkempt, his eyes bloodshot, pupils  dilated. I smelled his breath from ten feet away.

“Yes, yes you do!” he squealed. “I can sense it.”

“What?” I mumbled, picking myself up and dusting off.

“Here! Take this Unown Report! Catch Unown and fill it in! You’ll be brilliant.”

He thrust a clipboard into my hands. A grimy one at that.

“Yes!” he muttered. “Yes, he is the chosen. He will do the work.”

The crazy archaeologist shambled off into the void.

“Once again,” I said to Quartza, “An adult has outsourced his work to an unpaid minor. At least he offered to tend to my wounds after falling through the damned ceiling.”

I looked up; the hole was too high to climb back out.

“Who cleared this place for tourism?” I sighed. “Sorry, Quartza. I need to see.”

When Quartza was back in her Pokeball, I released Tiko. Her fiery mohawk would light the way.

“Yeah, we’re in a dark cave with crazy people,” I said in response to Tiko’s quizzical look. “Don’t hesitate to set things on fire.”

Tiko snorted as if to say, “Aye aye, boss.”

The underground ruins were uniform and unimaginative. The walls were lined with ancient writing and every few feet there stood a statue of a… was it a Rhydon? I couldn’t quite tell, but I thought I remembered seeing something on the news once about the Team Rocket boss using a Rhydon to quote/unquote “negotiate” with people.

Man, that was years ago. How old was I? 5? 6? That guy in the Pokemon center said it was ten years ago when they disbanded, so I must have been seven when it was over.

A whistling sound interrupted my thoughts. Tiko flared up, illuminating all of the walls.

In front of us floated a Pokemon. It was shaped like a circle, with one huge eye in the center of its glossy black body. Screeching, it released a weak jolt of electricity. Tiko shrugged it off.

“Kill it with fire,” I said, feeling that strange mix of fatigue and adrenaline.

Tiko had no trouble turning the thing into ash. It fell to the ground and we moved on. I realized that I was still carrying the grimy clipboard. It was labeled, “Unown Report” and had a few shapes drawn on the pages.

“Ugh, screw this.” I tossed the clipboard onto the smoldering ash.

After an hour of following the linear path, we encountered a ladder leading to light. It lead to a stone building near the Tourism Office that I visited earlier.

“Maybe this is karma,” I wondered aloud to Tiko. “Maybe if I just went to the gym like I intended I wouldn’t have had to deal with the creepy tree or the creepy dude down there.”

We headed back to Violet City, stopped for a minute at the Pokemon Center, then marched straight into the Pokemon Gym.


Pokemon – Chapter 16

April 22, 2013

On the top floor I faced three monks. They all had Bellsprout, naturally, and they left with smoldering sticks.

I was humbled by their reverence. They didn’t seem to mourn their losses, but they didn’t celebrate it either. They had a middle ground.

“I’m legitimately curious,” I said, after burning  through a monk’s three Bellsprout. “How do you feel after seeing this? This carnage?”

“We reach enlightenment through Pokemon. That is the way of the Sproutlics. We study them, learn from them, feel through them. Through death, we see glimpses of the afterlife. We learn of the nature of the world.”

Another monk, one I had defeated earlier, approached.

“We trust our Pokemon. Not to win or lose, but to be brave in the face of death. We train them to trust and be trusted.”

“Through that trust,” added the other, “is how we are able to feel what they feel.”

“I…I see. I think.”

They nodded, seemingly satisfied with what they had told me.

I approached the pillar. It this height, it barely looked like it was moving, but the creaks and other vibrations traveled up the entire length and hummed at the top–right where I was standing. I could feel the sound in my feet. I imagined the Bellsprout, with roots for feet, and how sensitive they must be to their surroundings.

“Die you weak muthafucka!” screamed a voice. I recognized it.

Peeking out from the side of the pillar, I saw Assmunch and an old bearded monk.

“Yes, you won, my child. You have earned the prize.”

The monk gave something to Assmunch. Assmunch then turned and spotted me.

“Hey, weakling. I just tromped this old guy and got a cool TM. Awesome, right?”

He pulled a device from his pocket. I caught a glimpse of the logo:

“Escape Rope! By Silph!”

He pushed the button and said, “Sorry. Gotta run.”

In a flash of light, he teleported away.

I approached the monk.

“That boy has no compassion for his Pokemon. He’s a strong trainer, but he will never go far in this world with that attitude.”

“I’m sure,” I said, pondering his words.

“Are you here to battle for the prize?”

I nodded, absent.

“Then face me with your Pokemon. Prove your worth!”

I stepped back and let Tiko take the lead. The monk produced a Bellsprout. Only this Bellsprout had some girth to it, like muscles or something.

It was strong. No doubt. But muscles didn’t give you much resistance to fire, and though the post-ember results were instant death, the head monk’s two Pokemon weren’t as charred as the previous ones. The battle was not difficult, but may have been if Tiko wasn’t as strong as she was.

“Oh ho ho ho!” laughed the monk. “Such strength you have!”

I wasn’t sure if I should be insulted or proud.

“Excuse me?”

“Your fondness for your Pokemon shows! You have a lot of respect and admiration for them. Not like that last boy. He was a dick. You, however, will be a remarkable trainer someday, so long as you don’t forget to respect and trust your companions.”

I laughed at the word, “dick,” but only because it was accurate.

I then realized that I was on a path to become like him. Like Assmunch. If I became so desensitized to the violence and death, how big a step was it to becoming a horrible person? To lose all respect for Pokemon? If I lost respect for Pokemon, would I lose respect for humans?

Hadn’t I already, though? Did I have much respect for my mom or her boyfriend? No, but I did have respect for Lyra, Professor Elm, and Professor Oak. The people who didn’t abuse Pokemon were my favorite people.

And that’s who I wanted to be. Someone who was filled with love and kindness for not only his own Pokemon, but all Pokemon, living or dead.

“Here,” said the monk. “You’ve earned this.”

He handed me a small device. It was something like a clamp and drill.

“This is a TM–a Technical Machine. You use it to teach your Pokemon the move, flash. It’s great for lighting up caves and blinding your opponent’s Pokemon. I hope you find it useful.”

“Thanks,” I said, not sure how I felt about it.

“Also,” the monk continued, “There’s a spare Escape Rope over there. That way you don’t have to climb back down the tower.”

I retrieved the escape rope, but I didn’t use it. Instead, I made my way down the tower, watching the pendulum swing ever wider as I got closer to the bottom.

The Sproutlics may have been a little nutty, but even the nuttiest people can sometimes give you good insights into life. The Bellsprout, though not a strong Pokemon, was a fascinating species. The way it remained still and flexible, the way it flowed through life, yet having uprooted itself so that it didn’t have to remain still forever–that was cool. Like a person who left home but carried with her or him the lessons he or she learned there.


Pokemon – Chapter 15

April 19, 2013

I heard another monk up ahead and decided to check on Tiko once more.

“Are you okay, Tiko? You okay to fight?”

Instead of answering, she stared at the wooden beam that was suspended in the center of the tower, reaching from top to bottom. It was a threatening pendulum, an ominous representation of… of what, exactly? I didn’t know. But it seemed to bother Tiko, and despite my excitement at her evolution, I was worried that she needed rest.

I put her back in her Pokeball and decided that Quartza might as well get some training in, if, after all, she was going to be my trump card in the battle against the gym leader.

Quartza blinked up at me, and she rolled along at my heels, following me around the corner to the opponent.

“Respect,” said the monk.

“Excuse me?” I stammered.

“Respect Pokemon. Respect all life. Respect all battles.”

Have you ever been in a situation where you heard some song lyrics or some supposedly deep and meaningful proverb, and you’re left with a dichotomous sensation? Where you both reject and accept what you’ve learned?

On one hand, I felt the power in those words. Respect Pokemon. What had I been doing on my journey so far? I was killing Pokemon left and right, sending them to whatever awaits Pokemon after they die. Some of them died horrible deaths, others quick and painless deaths.

But on the other hand, who the fuck was this guy to go about spewing this kind of talk to random strangers? How pretentious can you get?

I brushed it off. I sent Quartza forward. He released his Bellsprout from his rosary Pokeball. Ah yes, another Sproutlic Monk.

“The last monk I encountered is the proud owner of a charred stick that was once a Bellsprout. Are you sure you want to battle?”

What was I saying? I threatened him and gave him an offer of escap in the same breath, but… what kind of person taunts like that? Who would take that threat and leave?

The monk, however, was expressionless.

“So be it,” I said, half mocking myself with such a pretentious phrase. “Quartza, use tackle.”

“Vine whip,” commanded the monk. The Bellsprout extended two vines out like bullets, and they lashed across Quartza’s face.

Quartza followed through with her tackle, but just barely. It didn’t hurt the Bellsprout nearly enough to be worth a second shot, considering the pain that Quartza was obviously feeling.

Then I noticed, she was bleeding.

I didn’t even know a rock-monster COULD bleed, but there it was. The vines had left deep gouges in the rock, and blood was trickling out, pooling on the floor.

“Shit,” I whispered, realizing how close I had come to losing a Pokemon for good. Even though I had only known Quartza for a day, I had no intention of letting her die like this.

I put her back in her Pokeball, chastising myself for not remembering how weak rock types were to grass. A rookie mistake. Snaps was a no-go then, also weak to grass.

Looks like Tiko was my only choice.

“Tiko, be careful,” I said.

The Bellsprout whipped her with its vines, but all it seemed to do was distract her from the swaying pillar. She growled–a much more threatening growl than she had as a Cyndaquil.

“Ember,” I said, quietly and half to myself.

The ember that Tiko could now produce was bigger and hotter than what she used to make. The Bellsprout didn’t stand a chance.

Seeing that charred stick of a Bellsprout made me slightly nauseous. It was little more than kindling now. Sure, that was the circle of life. Animals die. Humans use their remains for all sorts of things–clothing, tools, computers–but for them to die at my command?

The monk sent out two more Bellsprout, and they met the same fate.

As I walked away from the monk, he called to me one last time:

“Respect for Pokemon.”