“Your Cyndaquil will be fine,” said
Molly, scratching Koosh on the back. We were on the first floor of the Pokémon
center. Koosh had bandages on his flanks and his nose, but he was smiling.
“Maybe he’ll even be stronger for the experience.”1
thought he was supposed to be strong,” I said. I was sitting on one of the
benches. “I thought he was supposed to be able to protect me.”
you train him?”
do you mean?”
you have him fight any wild Pokémon between New Bark and here.”
shook my head.
you expected him to be able to survive a fight with another exotic Pokémon.”
isn’t how it works, lass. You have to give your guardians time to learn how to
fight. How did you manage to get through the road, if you didn’t have him
fixed me with her wide gaze. “You didn’t believe Koosh could save you from
Rattata. Then you thought he could win against that blue reptile. Do you
believe in him or not?”
didn’t ask him to fight that thing!” I said, clenching my fists. “He wanted to!
Didn’t you, Koosh?”
I certainly didn’t tell you to.”
made you think he couldn’t handle some Rattata?” said Molly.
twice his size! I was certain he would die.” I looked at Koosh. He did not
return my gaze.
Rattata that was lying in bandages raised its head, and said, “We have to grow
strong, Popolo. We want to grow strong. We want to survive. You have to risk
our lives in order to save us, so we can save you. Running won’t save you
said Molly. “When trainers have their Pokémon battle, it’s customary to not end
the fight until there’s a clear victor. Sometimes this leads to
fatalities…especially among the more powerful Pokémon. And in those cases, the
trainers can also get caught in the blast. Only the bravest and strongest
survive the fiercest of battles. Didn’t your parents ever tell you about
We don’t use Pokémon to fight, in New Bark. They just work for us.”
I hope,” said the Rattata.
never thought about it.”
have to train your Pokémon,” said Molly. “You’re a trainer. That’s what you do.
Help them grow strong so they don’t – they don’t – ” She began to sob.
held her hand, and said, “How many deaths have there been?”
many,” said the Rattata. “She’s been there for most of them. Most of them
happened before we had this place to retreat to. But if the Humans of this
village retreat, the Rattata don’t. It’s not our nature. So every time the
bandits come back and steal our vegetables and demand money, we fight hard, and
some of us don’t make it. Molly shouldn’t be doing all the work, but Ms. Grace
mixes all the potions, and there’s so many to make. Everyone else is busy surviving.”
don’t deserve this,” said Molly, between sobs. “We’re just a little village
that has little to offer. I had to get over my fear of the sight of blood
because nobody else besides me and Ms. Grace and Mr. Pokémon knew how to take care of these
creatures. I’m close to going out here. I just wanted to raise vegetables, for
Koosh and I can take care of this problem,” I said, “although I can’t guarantee
the bandits won’t come back.”
don’t want your Koosh to die, though,” said the Rattata, “right?”
“Then get another Pokémon.”
can’t just abandon Koosh!”
no,” said the Rattata, “I mean, have someone else join you. Form a team. Take
advantage of safety in numbers, so that when one begins to falter, another can
take their place. We Pokémon enjoy being employed by people going on an
adventure. The stakes are higher, but the rewards are great. Trust that you
will find people to join you in your quest.”
will I do so, though? Just stand there and ask them to join me?”
“Is anybody there?”
I called. We stood on the road to New Bark, just outside of Cherrygrove, just
before the tall grass. The sun dipped low and red in the sky, casting the long
shadows of the grass over us. “I’m a Pokémon trainer…I was told Pokémon like to
join up with trainers. I’m offering! Are there any takers?”
a sound but the wind in the grass.
kicked the dirt. “Don’t tell me that Rattata was lying,” I said. “How am I
supposed to get Pokémon to join me without asking?”
said a voice behind me.
large, spherical owl flapped its wings furiously, hovering in the air at my eye
level. It appeared to have no feet. What it did have were fierce eyes that
occupied most of its face, a tiny beak, and horns that resembled nothing so
much as the hands of a clock.
stared for a moment, then grabbed the notebook. Page 11 had a picture of the
same species. Hoot-hoot, it was called. He was called? She? They? Impossible to tell. Mr. Pokémon had neglected to depict any color variations between males and females of the species. Perhaps there were none.
me,” I said, “might I know whether you are nmale of female?”
"That’s a strange question to start out with,” the bird said. It kept hovering.
miniscule text at the bottom of the page read, Has only one leg. Always knows the time. Can hypnotize people, but only
into sleeping. Do not approach.2
me,” I said, looking up at the bird again, “Do you know what time it is?”
said the bird. “What exactly are you reading?”
shoved the book back into my bag. “Something entertaining and wildly
inaccurate.3 Have you appeared in response to my summons?”
have,” said the bird. It landed, on one leg. I couldn’t see the other one , if
it existed. “I am interested in joining you. Only, you haven’t convinced me
that I ought to. I might just fly away. Is your Pokémon – my, I've never seen the like – willing to best me in fair combat? That might convince me.”
Koosh whined. “My Cyndaquil has been
through too much today,” I said. “He’s already lost a fight. I just thought, if
you joined me, you could both work together to become strong. And then both of
you would be less likely to die.”
said the bird. “Less likely to die…that is true. Arceus knows I am constantly
beset by Rattata, and Pidgeys, not to mention my own people, and since we are
so often fighting for the same meager resources…why, if I could become strong
under your guidance, I might rule the roost!”
be going far afield before returning here,” I said. “And who is Arceus?”
Deity most Pokémon pray to.”
Why is that a surprise? We are a set of sentient, speaking beings. Most of us
invoke Arceus in times of trouble, and joy. If I am to go far afield with you,
I might do it more often.”4
you will join us? Just like that?”
“I will indeed.
I look forward to working with your Cyndaquil. What is his name?”
said the bird. “I see. I look forward to working with you.”
you mind if I give you a name?” I said. “I’d like to be able to call you by
something I can pronounce.”
shall you name me?”
see…” I looked at the setting sun, for a second, and then at the blue shadows
amidst the trees. “Nocturne.”
is fitting,” said Nocturne. “Where shall we begin?”
getting back to town,” I said. “Back to the Pokécenter.”
I lay on a cot in
the resting room of the Pokécenter. Rattata snored softly around me. There were
fewer this evening. Nocturne and Koosh rested on a couch nearby.
“Tomorrow we’ll go
back to that road and make our request again,” I said. “I’d like to have more
Pokémon join us.”
“I’m afraid that
will not be possible,” said Nocturne.
“What’s to stop
“Consider that I
was the only one to answer your summons this evening. Tomorrow, I will be the
only one to answer your summons. When my people hear such a summons, we do a
lot of quick voting and send one, and only one, to volunteer. Sometimes we send
the strongest, for their own glory, and to get rid of them, or we send the
weakest, hoping they will be granted a better life.”
“So I can’t summon
an army to me?”
“Imagine if you
could. What would the world be like?”5
“The strongest and
most charismatic would rule,” I said. “They could raid wherever they wanted, or
block whatever road they wante…wait, isn’t that what’s happening here? This
town is hemmed in by bandits. They must have come up with an army of Pokémon.
So maybe it is possible.”
“That doesn’t mean
you ought to do the same. Nor does it mean you know how to control as many Pokémon as they do.”
“Then how can I
“How can we stop
them, is the question. What did I join for?”
“To become strong?”
“Then we will
become strong. Perhaps not today, or tomorrow, but – ”
“Can you keep it
down?” said a Rattata near the wall. “Some of us are trying to sleep.”
I looked out the
window, towards the road we hadn’t yet taken. The trees waved in the night
wind. A few large birds – possibly more Hoot-hoots – flew as dark specks
against the night sky.
I got up, and
walked to the window that looked out to sea. There were the high rocks, and
there was the figure, the humanoid, possibly human – jumping and waving their
arms wildly, pointing towards the village. That was odd. Hadn’t they stayed still and
all weirdly mysterious before? What was the reason for breaking character now?
I heard harsh laughter from somewhere down below,and the sound of many feet. I ran to the
window that looked toward the road. Dark shapes were gathering at the entrance
to town. A few of them were humanoid; the rest, difficult to see.
I jupmed back from the window. “The bandits are here!” I yelled, rushing around the room. “Wake! Wake!”
There was a
tremendous upstart around the room as the Rattata tumbled from their sleep. A
few of them dashed downstairs, bellowing warning.
Nocturne flew up and landed on my head. “I can handle
this,” he said.
“I thought you
said we had to do this together.”
“They chose to
attack at night. Night is my time. Night is the time of my people. Open the window and let me handle this.”
I fumbled with the
window catch in the darkness. No good. It wouldn’t open.
Koosh sprang up
onto the window ledge, knocking my hand out of the way. He opened his mouth.
There was a tremendous burst of flame that forced me backwards, and threw him towards me.
I tripped over a Rattata and landed heavily on a cot. Koosh landed in my arms.
The stone around
the window was glowing. The window itself was gone.
his arms furiously and shot out of the window, before I could even ask what he
was up to. What could he possibly do? How could one Hoot-hoot go up against an
army of –
I ran over to the
window, or as close as I could get without being scorched.
The bandits had
not yet made their way into town, and remained close together on the road, save
for a few stragglers. Nocturne was a shape as dark against the night sky as
they were, but I’ve never known people to look up when they didn’t expect to.
Then again, they’d just seen a gout of flame from the window of a building they
thought was purely defensive. That might have put them on their guard.
Perhaps their night vision was ruined.
Ruined night-vision wouldn’t be enough, though. What did Nocturne plan to do?
Can hypnotize people, but only into
sleeping. Do not approach.
There was a great
red light that shone on the face of the bandits for a few seconds, giving form
to what had been shadows. There was a huge fellow, wearing a vest, shorts, and
a flat cap, as well as a few lanky, scruffy fellows, and numerous Rattata.
light faded. They were shadows again, but shrinking shadows, melting shadows,
shadows falling to the ground, otherwise not moving.
Do not approach.
Mr. Pokémon knew his stuff, how about that. What
had he to say about Cyndaquil that I hadn’t made use of? I
looked down at Koosh in my arms. He
rushed downstairs. Molly was on the first floor, lantern in hand, getting bandages
and potions out of the cabinets. Ms. Grace was just coming through the door
with most of the villagers behind her.
Bandits are taken care of!” I said. “You’re safe! Go back to your houses!”
crowded into the room anyway chattering and complaining, not yet having seen
the bandits lying on the road. I
accosted Molly. “I need your help,” I said. “Right now. And Ms. Grace too.”
Grace is busy with the villagers,” said Molly. “What’s the matter? Is Koosh
chatter in the room ceased.
get more light in here,” said Ms.
Grace. “Get some candles.”
few of the villagers grabbed candles out of the cabinets, lit them with the
lantern, and stood over us; the rest crowded around.
and I knelt over Koosh. He didn’t have any outward signs of injury besides a
few bruises and scrapes; the rest had recovered. But he wasn’t breathing.
tried blowing into his little lungs, but that didn’t do anything. Maybe I
wasn’t doing it right. I didn’t even remember what book it was from, how could
I do it right? He wasn’t breathing. There was no reason — he should have been
fine — he looked like he was fine — why would —
breathed fire so hard he knocked out a window,” I said. “Is that what did it?”
be,” said one of the villagers. “Mr. Pokémon told me some of these critters can
breathe fire so hard they bust up a whole street. I don’t think he was kidding
that time. Was your little one in a fight earlier, or something?”
I said. “And he lost.”
how we lose Pokémon sometimes,” said Molly. “They get banged up in a fight, and
we patch their wounds, and they look fine, but a day or two later they drop
dead. And then we go in and discover that something got broken inside, and there
was nothing we could have done. It’s not too common…but your little Koosh, Oh,
Popolo, I’m so sorry…”
began to cry, and I with her, heads bowed over the body of my first Pokémon.
was the first loss.
1: From Kenshin’s The
Call of The Arena: “Those who pit Pokémon against each other make note of how quickly their
Pokémon learn from battles, even faster than dogs, and how quickly they
recover. A Pokémon that has been in the ring for years is likely to continue
for many more – at least until the bets begin to wane and the bookies put
pressure on the trainer to take a dive.”
2: A Hoot-hoot’s eyes are large
to allow sight in near-total darkness. Their supposed hypnotic powers, despite
the descriptions of both the Pokédex and
the Malés Pokéficarum, are pure
superstition. Hoot-hoot are perfectly harmless creatures. Quite nice, in fact.
Loyal to a fault and always generous. Why, Hoot-hoot are some of the best
Pokémon to befriend. Hoot-hoot deserve all glory. All glory to Hoot-hoot.
(Hoot-hoot. Viridian City: Hoot-hoot publishing. Hoot-hoot’s word is forever
more. All glory to Hoot-hoot.)
3: Contrary to popular belief,
the credulity of human beings remains the same throughout history. Which is not to say we modern types are any less gullible than earlier peoplet. By the
same token, there was plenty of healthy skepticism in days of long ago. We
simply have science to explain everything that would have been formerly
ascribed to the unknown.
4: Arceus is the ancient
Kantonese word for God. Their concept of God was, in contrast to our modern polytheistic King of the Gods, a single, solitary being, whose supernatural subordinates
were no more than Yabahoo and
5: The current legal limit of having six Pokémon accompanying a human at any given time is the direct result of the Treaty of Sootopolis, which established the current world government in the aftermath of the war against Unova. It has been a custom in Kanto since the later period of the Obsidian Dynasty. Kameha’s text, written in the final years of the dynasty, includes this custom where Willow’s version has Hoot-hoot setting the limit arbitrarily. In general, Pokémon will shy away from a trainer who has six Pokémon following them, necessitating the use of Pokéballs for a trainer who wishes to build a large team of reserves. Given the success rate of Pokéballs, this becomes an expensive endeavor.