When we left the Pokemon Center, the sun was a sliver on the horizon. It was going to be a beautiful day.
We skipped the PokeMart, since I had a few potions left and a little food for the day. We took off to the north, up a long sloping hill, through a huge field and forest.
The Spinarak didn’t know what hit them. Now that Tiko was more comfortable with her ember attack, she could fry the little creeps at will. I wondered why I was so comfortable killing spiders with magic Pokemon flames, but then I remembered that they were spiders and that they freak me out.
So we burned through a lot of bugs that morning, and when the sun came up, the Spinarak were long gone and replaced by Pidgey and Caterpie. Hence, more barbecue and torched insects.
But around 10 AM we reached a house.
“You think this is the place?” I asked Tiko. She squeaked, allowing me to take the lead for the first time that day.
I knocked, and an excited voice called out from within, “Enter!”
I looked down at Tiko and she looked up at me. We shrugged and opened the door.
An enormous man sat at a table in the middle of the room. Truly, I am not messing with you–he probably weighed 400 lbs.
“Come in!” he said, “Sit! Make yourself at home!”
On the table sat a brown basket chock full of apricorns of many colors.
“I’m so glad to have visitors,” the man squealed. “Lots of people stop by, but they’re all looking for Mr. Pokemon.” His demeanor flashed from giddy and inviting to dark and threatening.
“You aren’t looking for Mr. Pokemon–are you?!”
“Um, no sir,” I said. “We were hoping, uh, to say hi. To you, of course.”
“Good!” he exclaimed, his face and tone snapping back to their positive state. “I’m so glad to hear it. We will have a most wonderful day, you and I. We shall make history!”
“Yeah,” I muttered. “Yeah, I just need to like… know what you need.”
“Apricorns!” he spat, bits of them actually flying from his teeth. “Apricorns are the shit! I need them. I want them.”
“I can see how important they are to you,” I said, feeling very nervous and hoping to distract him in some way to get out. “Maybe I can go get some for you. You seem to be running low.”
He wasn’t actually running low. The basket was overflowing. But it was a good strategy.
“Great idea!” he said. “Here. Take this.”
The fat man reached into one of his enormous folds and produced a small device. He pulled a tab and it folded outward, expanding exponentially until it was the size of the basket on the table.
“Put all the apricorns you can find in that bag. Then just bring them back my way as soon as you can. I must have the apricorns. I MUST.”
“Absolutely, sir. I’ll have your apricorns lickety-split. I’ll be right back. I’ll fresh roast them with my Cyndaquil. Just you wait. Don’t go anywhere.”
I hope I wasn’t too quick to leave, as that would have been suspicious, but since this was the second extra-creepy guy I’d met in less than 24 hours, I wasn’t inclined to stick around for dinner.
As it happened, there was an apricorn tree in the guy’s yard, so I picked it and put it in the amazing shrinko device, then tucked it into my backpack.
An hour later, after passing a couple trainers in the midst of a Pokemon battle (and absolutely avoiding them at all costs), I made it to the actual home of Mr. Pokemon. He had a slightly different apricorn tree, for what it’s worth, and I picked one before knocking at the door. It opened right up, and I came face to face with a face that was just as fanatical as the last two weirdos I had met, but this one showed a slight hint of restraint. Or maybe it was sanity. I’m not sure. Whatever it was, I liked Mr. Pokemon from the moment I saw him.
“Ah, you must be Gold,” he said. “Come on in. Make yourself at home.”
“Thank you,” I said, stepping inside. But I froze in my tracks when I saw who was sitting at the dining room table.
“Gold! What a surprise,” said Professor Oak.
I didn’t expect to see him there.
“Uh, hi,” I said. “Long time to see.”
“What a coincidence that we ended up here.”
“You two know each other?” Mr. Pokemon asked.
“Oh, hardly,” Oak said. “I visited him a couple nights ago in New Bark Town.”
“Yeah,” I added. “We are only recent acquaintances.”
“Well, well, well,” Mr. Pokemon chuckled. “You should know, Gold, that Professor Oak is world-famous!”
I looked him over. That guy? With the Indiana Jones look and faded blue jeans? The one who gave me that boring “World of Pokemon” spiel?
Actually, that boring talk was probably what made him famous. Stuffy old guys loved to hear motivational speeches aimed at the future generations–much more than those generations did, in fact.
“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say,” I said. “Am I supposed to bow? Or scrounge up some paper for an autograph?”
Both men laughed.
“Ha!” Mr. Pokemon said, “This one’s a keeper.”
“Actually, Gold, I prefer it when people just treat me like a normal old man. To be honest, your ignorance has made my day.”
Was that a compliment or…?
“But I should really get going,” he added. “Just one thing, Gold, I’m pleased to see you with a… what is that, a Cyndaquil? I’m really happy for you, and your mood seems to have improved as well.”
“Thanks. I do feel a little bit better, being out of the house and all.”
“What do you say to doing me a little favor?” he asked, standing up and adjusting his jacket.
“Depends on the favor. Some gigantic guy down the hill asked me to enable his apricorn addiction and another guy in Cherrygrove City demanded that I wear his shoes.”
“What the hell kind of people have you been talking to?” asked Mr. Pokemon.
“This isn’t a favor that requires so much work as picking apricorns,” Oak said. “Here.”
He handed me a clamshell device.
“This is a PokeDex. My own invention. There are so many mysteries about Pokemon, but the one way we classify them as Pokemon is a unique radioactive signature that they each give off. It’s a dual band energy. One is unique to Pokemon as a whole, and the other is unique to their species. This device, the PokeDex, only has to be registered to a trainer to work. You point it at Pokemon to find out their name, like so:” he pointed it down to Tiko, and then the PokeDex beeped. “Ah, there. See?”
He turned it to me, and I could see that it registered “Cyndaquil” on the screen, with a 3D rotating model of the typical Cyndaquil.
“It also scans the environment for unique Pokemon radiation signatures, so you can see if you go to the ‘Location’ tab, it’ll tell you where you might find other Pokemon of the same species.”
“But this says ‘Area Unknown’ for Cyndaquil.”
“That’s right,” Oak said. “Cyndaquil are very rare. You won’t find them in the wild. In fact, they were only recently discovered.
“Also,” he continued, “If you actually manage to catch a Pokemon, it will give you additional details about the species by analyzing its DNA sequence and radiation signature. There are a lot of Pokemon in the world that haven’t been documented. The favor that I’m trying to ask is… Will you carry this with you and capture as many Pokemon as you can? It will do a great deal of good for the research world.”
The PokeDex was pretty cool. And if I caught Pokemon, I wouldn’t have to kill them.
“So,” Mr. Pokemon interrupted my train of thought. “You’re outsourcing your job to minors now, eh Oak?”
“It’s hardly outsourcing if I don’t pay them,” the Professor joked. “But seriously, it is for the good of science, and all you have to do is go about your business.”
“Sure,” I said, not particularly excited. “I’ll let you know how it goes.”
“Thanks,” Oak said. “Now, Mr. Pokemon, I trust you’ll let me know if you hear anything?”
“Absolutely, Professor. I’ll send word if I get any news.”
“Great. Gold, Mr. Pokemon, I’ll smell you later, as my grandson often says!”
He laughed as he left.