Chapter 1: Eevee's Story
My name, before I had one, was Eevee. The other Pokemon and the humans I met either called me ‘Little Eevee’ or ‘Cute’, but I learned quickly that my name was just Eevee. I lived in a Pokemon store for people who couldn’t catch a Pokemon on their own. There were all types of Pokemon there- flying Pokemon like Starly and Murkrow, small Pokemon like Rattata or Caterpie, and even a giant pool filled with water Pokemon, like Goldeen and Shellder. There were all sorts of Pokemon and lots of each type… but I was the only Eevee in the entire store.
My home in the store was a large cage set into one of the store walls. One side of the cage was clear and faced out to the store, while the other side opened into a hallway for the store workers. It was comfortable- I had a soft blanket and the workers made sure I always had plenty of food and water. Since I was the only Eevee I had plenty of room in the cage, and I spent most of the day outside of my cage anyways. People would come to the store just to see me, and the workers were more than happy to let me run around the store and play with the visitors during the day. The store was pretty straight forward- four aisles filled with random items ran down the center of the store, and the far wall had a counter where visitors would go to buy things, but I didn’t go near those very often. The aisles were boring and the worker at the counter got worried if I spent too much time near the counter (and the door near it), so instead I would wander by the different Pokemon cages and talk with the Pokemon there. The Starly in particular loved talking about anything and everything over and over again. I quickly learned why I was alone in the store- among all the other Pokemon there I was the most valuable, and the store could only afford one Eevee. The Starly told me that Eevees were very useful and very rare, so we were very, very expensive as a result. The people who worked at the store didn’t actually expect anybody to ever buy me- for them I was an attraction to interest shoppers in the store, so they would be more likely to buy a Pokemon or one of the other products that they could afford.
All in all it was a nice place to live. Nothing too spectacular happened, but there was always a new person to meet. The store even had a side room filled with toys so that people could come and play with Pokemon, and I passed the days playing fetch or other games with visitors. I never left the store- but I was never bored either.
In fact, out of everything in the store there was only one thing wrong- the Murkrows. Next to my kennel was a large standing cage where four of the dark birds lived. For the most part people ignored or avoid them, being much more interested in me, and the Murkrow quickly became jealous of the shoppers’ obvious interest. During the day when the lights were on the Murkrow were completely quiet. The few times I tried talking with them they just clustered together in a corner of their cage and glared out at me. They slept (or pretended to sleep) most of the day and were completely silent when they did move. But as the day ended they grew bolder, banging against the sides of their cage while cawing and screeching. They began mocking and making fun of me, saying the fur around my neck was scraggly and ugly and that my tail was scrawny.
At first I just ignored them, but after several days their annoyances became so bad that I couldn’t get any sleep at all. Instead of sleeping I would just curl up behind my food dish and try to hide from the birds. When the sun rose the Murkrows quieted down and I could get a little sleep… but the pet store wanted their Eevee to be awake and playful, and somebody would wake me up before I could get any real rest. I tried to be playful with all the nice people that had come to see me… but each day it grew harder and harder just to wake up. I stopped running around the store during the day and was much less enthusiastic about playing with the visitors who came to see me. The lack of sleep also began affecting my appetite. I wasn’t hungry when I usually would be and the food didn’t taste as nice, so I ate less and less each day. Before long I was trying to sleep any time it even got a little quiet, but it was never enough.
After this had gone on for several days a nurse from the Pokemon Center came to see me. I could tell the lady tried to be nice, but she kept poking and pinching me and shoving cold things in my ears. She spent about ten unpleasant minutes examining me before telling a store employee that she didn’t see anything physically wrong and that I might just be lonely. She left for a time, but later in the afternoon she came back with another man. Just looking at the man I could tell there was something special about him- he had a feel of confidence and power about him. It wasn’t anything definite you could pinpoint or label. He just seemed so strong and certain. I was a little nervous around him at first, but he soon turned out to be very nice. He played with me for a little in the playroom, tossing around a ball that squeaked whenever it hit something. I ran after and pounced on it before bringing it back to him, and the cycle repeated itself. It was a game I had grown used to playing with visitors but it was somehow more fun with him- he threw the ball just far enough, or waited just long enough after I brought it back to him before throwing it again. I was tired but wanted to keep playing with him anyways- I got the feeling that somehow he was enjoying playing with me more than anyone I had met before. Just as it was starting to be too much he set the ball calmly on the floor. He knelt down and said he had to leave for a while and take care of some things… but that he had a friend he wanted me to meet while he was gone. He brought a small ball out of a backpack and held it out. I had seen the balls on the shelves of the store but I never knew what they were for before then. My first thought was that we were going to keep playing our game since it looked similar to the ball we were just using. Instead, the man pressed down on a spot on the ball, and it made a clicking noise as it doubled in size and shown a pink light on the floor in front of me.
I had never seen a creature like her before that moment. I had never seen another Eevee, actually, besides my own faint reflection in the glass of my cage. I had no memory of my parents and no memories at all before the pet store. So seeing the Pokemon just appear before me, right out of thin air, was more than a little startling. I knew she was in some way an Eevee like me, even though she didn’t look at all like I did. She was almost three times my size, but she was beautiful. She had soft purple fur that shown almost as bright as the pink jewel on her forehead. Her ears were about the size as mine and her forked tail was much thinner than my own, but she held them with a confident quality, like she knew they were beautiful. The jewel on her forehead would sparkle from the light with even the slightest of her movements, and a bell on her purple collar would make a chiming jingle with even a tilt of her head. Her sudden appearance and beauty startled me, and I was fully awake and hiding behind one of the chairs before I even knew I had moved. The Pokemon didn’t seem to mind or notice- she stretched and arched her back, nuzzling the man’s hand as he gave her a pat on the head and stepped out of the room. As the door shut behind him the Pokemon stretched out on the floor and looked at me, her tail waving rhythmically behind her… and then she spoke to me. I had never heard anything like her before. Unlike the other Pokemon or the human visitors there was no actual sound. My ears heard her- could hear the faint sound of her breathing, the sound her tail made as it brushed the carpet- but when she spoke to me, my ears heard no sound at all.
It was still the most beautiful sound in the world when she said, “Hello, little Eevee. My name is Clara.”
Clara moved her ears into a v shape and tilted her head at just such an angle, forming an expression I recognized as a smile. “Sorry- it’s easy to loose track of time and get a little cramped in a Pokeball. Sometimes it’s nice to just stretch for a bit afterwards.” She rolled on the floor and then sat back up, her split tail wrapping around her. “Come out from behind that chair, silly; I’m not going to hurt you.”
I was nervous but something told me to trust her, and I walked slowly out from behind the chair. “What… what are you? Why are you here?”
Clara laughed, a musical and light sound similar to that of the bell at her neck, and she walked over to the ball the man had left. “I’m an Espeon- a type of Eevee, just like you. Some Pokemon will… change, a little, if the conditions are right. An Espeon is just one of the things that an Eevee like you could change into.” The ball glowed purple and rose into the air, stopping at my eye level. “Espeons are Eevees that have changed to become psychic- we can reach out with our mind and change the world around us, like I’m doing with this ball. Or we can speak to somebody far away just by thinking about it, the way I’m talking to you now. I’m here because the people who work here are getting worried about you. They asked Nurse Joy- that’s the lady you met before- to check on you, but she didn’t find anything wrong. That’s when she came to me and Flen and asked us to visit you. There aren’t any other Eevees in this city- just you and me- and the lady from the Pokemon Center thought you might be a little lonely.”
Clara leaned forward and nosed the ball towards me and I bit it, plucking it from the air. I started to drop it to ask another question, but Clara answered the question I was about to ask. “Flen…” I heard a soft chime as if the bell on Clara’s neck had moved when she said his name again. “He’s a gym leader, which is a type of Pokemon trainer. He’s the strongest trainer in this city and he has a lot to take care of. But he doesn’t need me anymore today, and he won’t be back for a while yet. We can play all day, if you want to.”
I dropped the ball and looked at her, still a little shocked at the Espeon before me. I wasn’t sure what to say. “Play? What do you mean?” Clara kept smiling, but her ears drooped some as she looked down at the ball I had dropped. It glowed purple and rolled over to her.
“I’m sorry… It’s just that Flen and the nurse said you wanted somebody to play with; that you’d been cramped up with nobody else to run around with. The lady from the Pokemon Center said you were lonely?” Clara’s eyes were a mixture of confusion and hope as she looked at me, and I felt guilty for asking.
I shook my head to clear the last of the sleepiness and walked over to the Espeon, nudging the ball towards her. “Thank you… I guess I can play for a little bit.”
The ball glowed again. “Just for a little bit? Are you feeling okay?” Clara leaned forward and squinted at me, then poked me with her nose.
I laughed and ducked under her. “No, I’m fine, I’m just tired. I haven’t been able to get much sleep lately.” The ball rolled across the floor and I followed after it, biting it and shaking it back and forth. The glow faded from it, and I looked back to the Espeon. She was crouching low to the ground, her split tail waving behind her, and I smiled and pushed the ball back towards her. She pounced on the ball and rolled over with it, and I laughed at the sight.
We rolled the ball back and forth for a little before Clara started talking again. “So how come you haven’t been able to sleep lately?”
I rolled the ball back towards Clara and waited for a moment, catching my breath. “It’s too noisy at night. The Murkrows in the other cage… um…”
Clara had caught the ball with her tail and balanced it against the split. “Yes?"
“They don’t like me. Usually they just make fun of me, but sometimes they bang around their cage.”
“Ah. And so it’s too noisy to get any sleep.” Clara dropped the ball and walked over to me, the bell around her neck jingling as she moved. “I’ll fix that for you.”
“What?” I blinked at her, wondering what she was going to do. Something that had bothered me for nights on end didn’t even rate a second thought from her? She was going to fix it just like that? “What are you going to do?”
“I’m psychic, remember? Don’t worry about it- you’ll see soon enough. Let’s play for a little bit longer, while we have the time.”
I nodded and turned back to the ball, but Clara pushed me instead with a soft nudge. She laughed and bounded towards the other side of the room. I grinned and chased after her, and we ran back and forth around the room.
We spent a bit longer playing before the lack of sleep finally caught up with me. One minute I was chasing after Clara, and the next I was laying on the floor just trying to keep my eyes open. Clara sat down next to me and her tail twitched back and forth before me in a slow, sleepy wave. The last thing I knew before I fell asleep was the sound of Clara’s bell chiming a gentle melody…
When I woke up it was late at night. I was wrapped underneath a soft blanket back in my cage. Clara was lying outside between my cage and the Murkrows’. There was a faint glittering around the other cage and the Murkrows were quiet… or at least I thought they were. When I looked at them again I saw they were banging up against their cage and moving their beaks in chatter… but I heard nothing at all coming from any of them. I slipped out of the blanket and walked to the side of my cage to get a closer look, but there was still no sound. Everything was perfectly quiet. I called out a short “Hello?” to make sure I could still hear, and I heard my own voice just fine. Only the Murkrows were silent.
“Good evening Eevee!” Clara rose, her tail wagging behind her. “See? I told you I would fix it.”
“What did you do?” I looked out through the window, trying to see what Clara had done, but there was only the slight distortion caused by the glass. I thought for the briefest second that the glass was the wrong color, but when I blinked it was fine again.
“It’s something Flen taught me a while back; it’s a wall. With this I can stop certain things from getting past. It took me a few tries, since I’ve never used it in quite this way before, but I was able to make it block sound. You won’t hear anything from out here in there.”
I wagged my tail happily- she was right. The Murkrows were still banging around in their cage, but mine was totally quiet. Clara grimaced and turned back towards them, and they all shuddered and retreated to the bottom of their cage. Clara looked back to me and the jewel on her forehead sparkled. “They sure are loud though. I can see why you couldn’t get any sleep.”
I nodded and wagged my tail. “Thank you so much!”
Clara’s jewel brightened more as she smiled. “It was nothing! I’m glad I could help.” The Espeon sat back down and leaned up against the glass wall. I matched her, leaning up against the same spot.
“Didn’t your trainer come back for you?”
Clara nodded against the glass. “Uh-huh! I wanted to stay a little longer though, so he’ll come back again for me tomorrow.”
“Oh.” I smiled- now that I wasn’t so tired I realized how glad I was to meet Clara. “So… you’re an Espeon?”
“Yep! It’s a type of Eevee, remember?”
I nodded. “I remember. You said there were certain things that could cause an Eevee to change?”
“That’s right. Trainers call it ‘evolving’. It’s more something for them to worry about than for you to.”
“And Flen is your trainer? The man I saw earlier?”
I thought I heard Clara’s bell chime even though she hadn’t moved- and after a second I realized I must have just been hearing things since she was outside her sound wall. “Yep! He’s the gym leader here; the strongest trainer in this town. I’ve known him for most of my life, from when he first became a trainer.”
I listened to Clara as she talked about Flen. She had a lot to say about him and I could tell from the way she spoke that she cared a lot about him. Before long I realized that I was still tired and I pulled the blanket towards me, stretching out on top of it. I listened for a bit longer while Clara told me of some of her battles with Flen, until she finally yawned. I yawned right after she did and she laughed at me. “I guess we’re both a little tired, aren’t we?” I nodded and tried not to yawn again. “It is really late… goodnight, little Eevee.”
I drifted off into the first restful night I had in a while. I dreamed that night, too- a simple half formed dream of a trainer like Clara had described.
Clara was gone when I woke the next day. The workers in the store were the only people there so far, and they seemed glad to see me awake and active. For the first time in days I ate all the food they left for my breakfast. When the people came into the store and walked by my cage I wagged my tail and watched them, wondering with each one if they would end up becoming my trainer. I played with every one of them I could, even following some of them around the store, but one by one they each went home. The day finally ended, and when the sun set I slipped into a sleep undisturbed by the Murkrows.
The next few days passed the same way, but on the morning of the fourth day I woke to find Clara waiting outside my kennel. We spent all day in the playroom together- people would come by to play with us and occasionally brought treats with them- but for the most part we were left alone. The two of us talked a lot. Clara told me more about Flen and what they did together. She said trainers would come from all over the world just to fight him and the team of Pokemon he had trained. He was very important to the town and had a reputation for being skilled at teaching both Pokemon and trainers alike. Clara also described some of the other battles she had fought in. She admitted that battling could be scary- there were Pokemon that were larger than the tallest humans and had strength enough to move mountains- but she said that it was fun most of the time and necessary other times, when she had to defend somebody from an attacker. Clara said that even though she was sometimes scared, she always trusted Flen and knew he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her. I could tell that she really loved battling with and winning for her trainer.
Clara also asked me what I thought of the people I had met. It was hard to say very much. I liked when they brought treats and that they would spend time playing with us, but beyond that there wasn’t much more I could say. Clara would ask if I liked how they looked or smelled, but to a small Eevee a fully grown human always looked at least a little intimidating. Still, once I was sure they only wanted to play it wasn’t too hard to get over that, and I shared what other impressions I had of them. I answered as best as I could, but she asked me a lot of questions that didn’t make much sense. “Would you like him more if he had green eyes? What if she had red hair, like that lady’s we saw earlier?”
Eventually Clara said that the sun was setting and that she had to go back to Flen. At first I didn’t believe her because the playroom was enclosed and there was no way to see outside. How could she know where the sun was? When I asked, Clara just laughed her musical laugh and said that Espeons could always tell where the sun was. She said that the sun was a part of them and that she could always feel it, just like I could feel air blowing through my fur.
The day had seemed to pass much too quickly, but when I thought about it I found I was tired, and soon I was falling asleep on my blanket in the cage. The next few days passed by like before- I would wake and eat the food left for me, then spend the day playing with anyone who came by before finally falling asleep when night came. I met a lot of people, but at the end of the day they would always go home and I would go to sleep alone. I kept dreaming of a trainer of my own, that one person who would take me home with them and play with me every day. A trainer who would help me be strong and who I could fight besides. I thought about Clara at night too- she seemed so powerful and mystic, and I found myself dreaming of one day becoming an Espeon like her, and protecting a trainer of my own from evil Murkrows.
Clara came by again after a few more days, but this time Flen was with her. The three of us played together for a while in the playroom. Other people would come in from time to time but never joined in, instead always staying off to the side and talking with Flen. Sometimes I would bring a ball or squeaky toy to them but they just would just glance at Flen and throw the toy back towards him or Clara. Eventually I gave up- it was obvious they were just there because of him and Clara instead of me. It was a little disappointing… but playing with Clara and Flen was still a lot of fun.
About halfway through the day one of the store workers brought food for me and Clara, and Flen told us he had to leave for a bit. He hugged Clara and scratched her ear, then gave me a treat and a pat on the head before leaving. Clara and I played together for a while longer, and occasionally another person would come by. Sometimes they would leave as soon as they came in, but other times they would stay for a bit and play. Finally Flen came back with a store worker and a pair of humans I hadn’t met yet. Clara ran to Flen as soon as he entered the room, her necklace chiming a soothing jingle, and he sat down and hugged her, saying he had missed her. Seeing the two of them reunited, each so happy with the other even after only a few hours of seperation, made me want a trainer of my own even more.
The other three humans sat down as well, and I brought a squeaky toy to the new man. Unlike the people from earlier this man was quite happy to play with me, wiggling the ball back and forth before tossing it. Clara joined in, and I was soon so engrossed in the game that I stopped listening to the people altogether. It wasn’t until Clara told me I should be listening that I paid any attention at all, and then I realized that while I was playing with the man, they had all been talking… about me.
“I doubt there would be any problems- he’s obviously very friendly and still very young himself, so we think he would be great with children. Eevees usually make great companions for kids anyways, just like a Growlithe would.”
The man I was playing with nodded and tossed the ball back across the room. I ran after it but kept listening. “He does remind me a little of the Arcanine we have at the police station.” I grabbed the ball, giving it a shake just to hear it ring, and then brought it back to the man, dropping it on the ground with a wag of my tail. “The Arcanine can be really stubborn though. And he probably tires out faster than this Eevee.”
The store worker laughed at that. “Yeah, he is pretty playful so you’ll probably have no trouble getting him exercise. He had a little trouble adjusting when we first brought him here but we haven’t noticed any real signs of stubbornness. He’s been a lot livelier since he met Clara, so you may want to have her come over every now and then if it’s not a problem for Flen. Something familiar to him would probably be a good idea, at least until he’s had a chance to adjust.”
The woman answered the store worker but looked between him and Flen. “Oh, we couldn’t impose on him; he’s doing so much already…”
“I don’t mind at all, really. Clara likes him, and I’m not so selfish I can’t spare her for a day every once in a while- I’ve got a whole gym full of Pokemon that need my attention anyways. She loves visiting him and I wouldn’t dream of keeping her away from one of her friends. And I’m not doing anything more than making sure a Pokemon finds a nice home. The little guy deserves one.” Flen reached for the squeaky toy and pulled on it, trying to take it from me, but I clamped onto it and shook, trying to loosen his grip.
“Should we bring the things he already has, then, like his blanket? I don’t want him to have problems adjusting, but… the blanket looks kind of old…”
The store worker laughed a little, and Flen answered for him. “No, actually, it’d probably be better to get him a new one. It’ll have more meaning to him than his old one did, if it comes from you, and he never seems that attached to it when I see him; it’s just something comfortable he can lie down on.”
The other man reached for the squeaky toy since Flen had let go when he answered, and I growled playfully, tail wagging a bit. The man laughed a little and shook the toy, rolling me over on my back with it.
“I guess that’s everything then… Can we come by for him in two days? That’s her birthday, and we’d like for it to be a surprise for her,” the lady asked the store worker as she got to her feet.
“Oh, of course, it’s no problem if he stays here until then. He’s great publicity! A lot of people have started coming by just for the chance to see him.” The store worker stood up as well and followed the lady to the door.
The man let go of the toy and gave me a pat on my head before getting to his feet. Flen rose with him and the two shook hands. “Thank you again for everything Flen. We really appreciate what you’re doing for us, and for our daughter.”
Flen smiled down at me and Clara. “It’s really nothing; I just want to make sure Clara’s friend ends up in a nice home. It was starting to look like he would spend the rest of his life in that cage.”
“I know… but don’t worry, we’ll make sure to take good care of him, and I promise he’ll be happy with her.”
“That’s all I ask, and it’ll be reward enough knowing this little guy is happy.” Flen and the man walked out of the playroom still talking, but leaving me alone with Clara.
I let go of the toy and looked at the now closed door, a little confused. “What happened? And why were they thanking Flen?”
Clara giggled, a melodious sound that made me smile. “They just bought you, silly. They have a daughter turning twelve in a few days, and she wants to become a trainer, so they wanted to give her a Pokemon for her birthday. Flen knows them and their daughter- the man works for the city’s police, and they work together every now and then on special cases. Flen thinks she has a lot of potential as a trainer, and we both think she would be a good trainer for you.”
“Flen told her parents we- him and me- would help pick out a Pokemon for them, and brought them here; they thought they would end up getting her a Rattata or a Sentret, but he just brought them here and showed them you. When he saw for sure how well you were getting along he offered to help them buy you. A good trainer makes a good bit of money from battling, and I’m strong enough to help Flen make a lot of money, so he can afford it easily. Which is good, because you’re not cheap; you cost more than that whole cage full of Murkrow.” There was a lot of pride in Clara’s voice, both in her comment about Flen and in the price that I was worth.
“So… those two… they’re my trainers?” My tail wagged at the thought- they both seemed nice, and the man was fun to play with.
“Well, their daughter is. You’re going to meet her in two days! You’ll be out of this stuffy place and with a whole new house to explore. I’m so excited for you!” Clara’s voice reached a happy peak and she smiled her Espeon’s smile- head tilted and ears in a v. It was cute, and I couldn’t help but feel excited too.
We played for a little after that, but it wasn’t much longer before it was time for Clara to go. That night I didn’t sleep much. I kept thinking about my new trainer and wondering what she’d be like. When I finally did sleep my dreams were simple, and just of a bell like the one on Clara’s collar, swinging back and forth on a collar of my own while I slept.
Flen picked up his Espeon, resting her on one arm, and rubbed her ear. Clara purred, and Flen smiled- since evolving and discovering she could talk without making noise she so rarely made any actual sound, and he savored any noise she did make. Eventually she hopped down to the ground and shook herself off.
“So, what do you think?”
Clara looked out of the office and back towards the main field of the gym. “About what?”
“About the Eevee. Do you think he’ll be okay with her?”
Clara nodded but kept her gaze away from Flen. “I think they’ll do okay.”
Flen blinked at her, suspicious. “Just ‘okay’?”
Clara kept looking down. “It’s hard to tell for sure, since she’s never had a Pokemon… but she’s responsible enough. She takes care of the houseplants and she’s always on top of her schoolwork so I’m sure she’ll make sure to take good care of him. I just… I don’t know that she should start out learning everything there is to be a trainer with a Pokemon as complicated as an Eevee. Especially one as young as he is.”
“Oh? I know another trainer about her age that started out with an Eevee, and I think they both turned out okay.” Flen thought for a minute, suspecting something else was wrong. “But maybe you’re right. Do you think we should wait, try and find a more experienced trainer who’d want him? Maybe one of the gym challengers?”
“I… I don’t think we should just give him away to any random trainer. We’ll only see them for a few minutes, maybe an hour; that’s not really enough time to know for sure how well they’d treat him.”
Flen nodded. “Uh-huh… what is it really, Clara? I don’t have to be psychic to know you’re hiding something.”
Clara finally looked up at Flen and met his eyes. “Can’t you take him? Let her learn with some other Pokemon, and you train him yourself? Nobody’s a better trainer here than you, and we earned the money after all. He’ll do a lot better with us than he could ever do with anybody else; it doesn’t seem fair to give him to some new trainer who doesn’t know any better, when he could be a part of our group, instead.”
Flen blinked in surprise and thought carefully. “You like him, don’t you?”
Clara quickly looked away, but Flen noticed the jewel on her forehead brighten first in what passed for a blush. “He’s just a puppy; anybody would like him.”
Clara was silent for a moment before she answered, and her voice was sadder when she did. “He’s never seen another Eevee, Flen, not even his parents. I think he hatched in that store alone. I don’t have to read his mind to know I’m the first Espeon he’s ever seen, but… he has no memory even of any other Eevee, beyond his own reflection. Ever. I looked, while he was playing… and there just isn’t one. He’s either blotted it out from his own memory for some reason... or else he’s never known any other Eevee but me.”
Flen frowned and watched Clara, understanding dawning on him. “Again, that sounds like somebody else I know. Is that what this is about?”
Clara sighed, still looking away. “I don’t know, maybe. I just… I like him, he’s fun to be around, and he’s so… friendly. Even half asleep he still wanted to play with me. I just met him… I don’t want to have to think that one day he’s going to leave again, when his trainer does.”
Flen picked Clara back up in a hug and started petting her. “I know how you feel… but I already have an Espeon of my own, and I’m older now, with five other Pokemon and a gym to run. I don’t have the time or energy a young Eevee would need, let alone want.”
Clara nodded a slow, sad nod, knowing what Flen said was right but still not liking it. “Tell you what- we know a lot of kids that want to be Pokemon trainers, and one of the jobs of the gym is to help train trainers. We can start an ‘introductory’ class at the gym, to get them started; that way, you’ll still get to see plenty of him. I bet Shells and Feren would both love to meet him, too.”
“That would be nice, really it would… but… he’ll still leave, one day. No matter how long she stays here, or how often we see them… one day they’ll be ready, and she’ll leave, to become a trainer… and then I’ll never see him again, will I?”
Flen thought for a moment, unsure what to say, and finally he sighed. Clara was right. New trainers didn’t stay in one place for very long, and when they left their Pokemon went with them. “I don’t know. You’re probably right that one day he’ll leave- it’s not fair to ask either of them to give up the chance to explore the world together. But just because he leaves, that doesn’t mean he won’t come back one day, or that he’s leaving you forever. We came back to this city, after all; trainers come back to live in their home town all the time. And even if they don’t come back… that’s just more of a reason to enjoy the time we do have with him. And besides, I’m the trainer here. Trust me to worry about the future; you should just worry about helping find the best trainer, for his sake.”
Clara sighed but nodded. A moment passed before her whiskers began twitching randomly, a sign she was using her Future Sight ability. Flen kept quiet while Clara focused, unwilling to interrupt, and beginning to realize how much the Eevee already meant to her. Future Sight was something Clara rarely did- she had told Flen once long ago that it spoiled things and made life boring if she looked too much. She also said that some parts of her future she just didn’t want to know, and that she had learned to forget the things that hurt or spoiled too much. Eventually her eyes snapped back into focus, and Flen waited for her to finish thinking. She was quiet for a long moment with a sad look in her eye, but it finally faded, and she spoke again. “He... Yes. She’s the best trainer for him. They’ll both take very good care of each other, I know it.”
Flen nodded and smiled- if Clara had looked at the Future and thought what she said, then it was a fact, no matter how unpleasant it might have been to the Espeon.. “Okay. I’ll bring her parents by tomorrow, to meet him, and get everything worked out.”
Clara smiled back, likely having already suppressed the memory of what she had seen with her Future Sight. “She’s going to be so surprised… what do you think she’ll name him?”
Flen laughed, wondering, and the conversation drifted from there. They stayed like that for a while, but Clara soon fell asleep- the sun had gone down well before then, and it was rare for her to be active much into the night. Flen gently sat her down in a chair and gave her one last pat before going back to all the paperwork that came with being a gym leader. Even as he worked his mind wandered, wondering if there was anything he could do to keep his Espeon’s new friend with her…
Chapter 2: Eevee's Story - Chapter 2
Eevee meets his new trainer.
Chapter note- this chapter was intended to be the 'explanation' chapter for readers who have little to no knowledge of the Pokemon universe, so the start of it may be a *little* boring if you are familiar with the Pokemon games. I promise it does get more interesting as it goes though!
The next day took forever. I ate when I woke up and then stretched out on top of my blanket, just watching the store. People came by just like they did every other day, and I wagged my tail as they passed, wondering with each one if my trainer would be anything like them. People came and went through the store and spent their time looking at me and at the other Pokemon. I had never really paid attention to it before, but as I watched them now I noticed that they would tend to find a favorite Pokemon and spend most of their time there. One woman glanced at the Ekans tank no matter where she was in the store, watching them bathing under their warm lamp, while another man’s attention was captured by the Ratatta digging and scurrying about their enclosure. The shoppers would move on to other Pokemon, but before long they would come back to their favorite.
At first I didn’t think anything of it but as the day grew on it made me wonder. My new trainer would have never seen me before and wouldn’t even know about me until her birthday. What if her favorite Pokemon wasn’t an Eevee, and she really wanted something else instead of me? What if she wasn’t the way Clara described Flen? I could tell just by watching them that each person acted differently. I had no way to know for sure this new person would be a trainer like Flen.
The day passed, and when night came I was already half asleep, staring blankly out through the store windows. The second day was only a few hours away, and then I’d meet my new trainer…
After a night of fitful sleep I woke to see Clara waiting for me. “Good morning sleepy head! I’m surprised you got any sleep at all; aren’t you excited?”
Her question was so honest and cheerful that I felt a little guilty for being worried. I didn’t know how to answer at first, and she noticed. “What’s wrong? Are you feeling okay? Are those Murkrow bothering you again?” She looked in the birds’ direction, her whiskers twitching in the air, and she sat down next to me.
I leaned up against her and her tail wrapped around mine, and for a moment I just stared at the sight, surprised at the pattern her tail made against mine. “No, I’m fine… but… I’m worried. I don’t know who this person is, or what she’s like. What if she doesn’t like me, or isn’t nice, like Flen is to you?”
Clara stared down at her paws for a moment and thought over my question. “You trust me, don’t you? I haven’t let anything bad happen to you so far?”
“Of course not. You’ve done nothing but help me since I met you.”
“Then trust me on this one! Flen and I both know her and her parents too. They’re good people, and we know her parents will make sure she’ll take care of you… but we’re all sure she will regardless.” Clara’s eyes flickered for the briefest of seconds with something unrecognizable and her voice grew softer- sadder? “You’re going to be so happy with her… trust me.” Clara was silent for a moment before she smiled back at me, the odd look gone from her eyes. On some level I think I already knew that… but hearing Clara say it made me feel better.
“I do… and yes, I am excited. When do I get to meet her?” I stood up and stretched, and peeked out through the open door as if she would be standing there waiting for me.
“Not yet! It won’t be until later in the afternoon; she had to go to school and won’t be back until later. But Flen will be coming over with her dad soon to get you, and then you’ll be off to the house. After that it’ll probably be a bit boring until she gets there.”
“Boring? But won’t I have a whole new house to see?”
Clara looked down and away from me. “Well… not exactly. Flen is going to come by soon and take you to her house, so you’ll technically be at the house waiting for her, but… you probably won’t see any of the house until she gets home, and they have the party for her.”
I wasn’t sure what Clara meant. If I was going to be at the house, why wouldn’t I be able to see any of it? “I don’t understand.”
Clara let one ear droop and I realized she wasn’t sure what to say. “Um… well, do you remember the day we met?”
“Uh-huh! You and Flen came and we played for the whole day, and you made the Murkrows leave me alone.”
Clara smiled again and the jewel on her forehead grew a little brighter. “That’s right… but do you remember how Flen brought me there?”
I thought for a moment. “I… I’m not really sure. First it was just him, and then he pressed a button on one of those balls, like that one.” I used my nose to point out past the glass wall of my cage to where the store had similar items on display. “And then there was a flash of pink, and… you were just kind of there?”
Clara nodded. “It’s okay to be confused- it took me a while to figure it out, too, and it’s even more confusing when it’s actually happening to you.”
“What do you mean? What is it?”
“Well… those balls that the store sells? The humans use them to take care of their Pokemon. It’s something they made, just like the lights in the store, but more complicated. Those balls can keep a Pokemon safe inside them, so if you’re hurt, or allergic to something in the air, or even just tired of walking, you can rest inside and your trainer can keep going, or get you to help. It’s not that big of a deal with Pokemon like us- I mean, if you or I got hurt it wouldn’t be too hard for somebody to just pick us up and take us somewhere- but usually a trainer will have more than one Pokemon, and some Pokemon can be very heavy, or even dangerous to carry. Those balls make it easier for everybody, but when you’re in one it’s hard to tell what’s going on outside of it.”
“So… that’s what I saw, then?”
“Yep! That pink light is what you see when a pokemon comes out, or goes into a PokeBall- that’s what they’re called.”
“I still don’t understand… what does that have to do with me not being able to see the house?”
“Well… it’s like I said the other day; the girl wants to be a trainer someday. So they’re giving her a Pokemon so she can learn what it means and how to be a good trainer. And a part of being a trainer means being able to use the PokeBalls, which means you’re going to have one. When Flen comes to pick you up, he’s going to use one on you, and then they’ll give her the PokeBall as the present with you inside. It’s also to help be more of a surprise- she’ll know she’s getting something, but she won’t know just what she’s getting until she opens the PokeBall and lets you out.” Clara laughed. “I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she sees you; she’s going to be so happy.”
“Oh...” I stared at the PokeBall on the shelf in the store. Somehow I could fit in that thing? And it was a good thing?
Clara giggled and answered my unspoken question. “Yes, it is a good thing. It’s not as bad as it sounds; it’s just really hard to describe. Something about the PokeBall makes it seem different for everybody, but it’s always something the pokemon finds pleasant. When I’m in mine it’s like I’m on a rock overlooking the ocean; it’s very soothing. I’m sure you’ll like it; most pokemon do.”
“Most?” I kept looking at the pokeball on the shelf, still not quite believing it.
“Well… sometimes a Pokemon doesn’t like the simulation the ball comes up with, but that’s very, very unusual. The humans are very good at making these things, and what you see and feel is based off what the PokeBall thinks you’d like, but… well, sometimes it just gets it wrong. But that’s very rare- I’ve only heard stories about it, I’ve never actually met a Pokemon that didn’t like it even a little. I mean, sure, it’s much better to be outside and actually be moving- even though it seems like you’re moving a lot in the PokeBall, when you come out there’s always a bit of a ‘cramped’ feeling. But I’ve never known anyone who wasn’t at least comfortable with being inside one. I’m sure you’ll be happy with it, and it won’t be for long anyways; once your new trainer gets home I’m sure she’ll want to spend the whole weekend with you.”
The thought of the PokeBall still made me a little uneasy. Clara’s reminder that in just a little while I would be out of it and meeting my trainer- and that Clara was sure she would be a good trainer- made me feel better. Clara didn’t mind them and if that’s what it took to have a trainer of my own, then I was sure I could live with it. Even if it somehow wasn’t like what the Espeon had described.
“Thanks, Clara.” I wagged my tail a little and peeked past her. “So when will Flen be here?”
“It’ll be a little longer still. You should eat; it’ll probably be a while before you get a chance to again. Just think- this will be your last meal here! After this no more of this cheap mush; you’ll get to eat real food!”
I went back to the cage and sniffed at the food dish. I thought the food was okay myself. The treats I sometimes got were better, sure, but I didn’t see anything wrong with what the store gave us. I quickly ate breakfast- Clara declined when I offered some of the food, saying she had already eaten anyways- and afterwards the two of us went to the play room, a purplish glow illuminating the door as it opened. I had figured out by now that the glow was something Clara did to move things, and I decided to ask her about it. “Can you teach me how to do that? That glow thing that you did, before the door opened?”
Clara shook her head. “It’s not something you can do yet. If you evolve into an Espeon, like me, then you’d be able to, and then… you’ll just know how to do it; you won’t need anybody to teach you- but an Eevee can’t do it.”
“Oh.” I started thinking about what she said, and my thoughts turned to the idea of evolving, and what that would be like, or when it would happen…
“Stop worrying!” Clara nudged me into the play room. “It’s not something you should worry about anyways; if you’re meant to be an Espeon it’ll happen soon enough, and if you’re not, then you’ll be able to do things I could never do, instead! For now just be happy being what you are. I think you worry too much about the future, and all the bad things that could happen; let the humans do that. You should just worry about being happy, and helping them be happy- they usually need the help.” And with that Clara pushed me into the room, and with a quick flick of her tail she leapt playfully at me.
The next hour or so we just spent playing, and it was hard to think about anything beyond the next moment, and playing with Clara I found I really didn’t want to. But Flen finally arrived, bringing with him both the man from the day before and a store employee. Clara ran to Flen, and he knelt down and gave her a hug before turning to me. He was holding a white PokeBall with a reddish stripe on it in his left hand- the small orb looked a little scary, now that I knew what it was. He let go of Clara and looked at me. “Ready, little Eevee?”
I looked at Clara one more time and she smiled at me. “Relax, everything will be fine. Trust me!”
I looked back at Flen and nodded. I said “I’m ready!”, though I know he only heard an energetic “Vee!” He smiled and tossed the ball at me.
I started to duck, but it was too quick, and the ball tapped me right on my nose. The room turned pink, and then faded away completely, until there was only a general pink fuzziness all around. I tried looking around, and then started panicking. This wasn’t right. There wasn’t anything here at all, just the pink fog. I started to struggle, just looking for a way out, when I heard Clara’s voice again. “Don’t worry, it just takes a moment. Trust me.”
I forced myself to calm down. I tried to lie down and wait but I couldn’t really feel myself anymore, so I wasn’t sure if I actually managed to or not. My tail, my ears, the bottom of my paws… I knew I had them, but I couldn’t really feel them anymore. There was just the pink glow everywhere… and then the glow was gone, and I could see again. The sudden loss of light made it hard to see and I blinked while my eyes adjusted. “There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? I’ll see you again later!”
Somehow I knew that Clara had gone into her PokeBall too, so I waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. While I was waiting I realized I could hear things chirping softly somewhere in the distance, and the sound of wind blowing through trees. I had no idea then what either of those sounds meant, but that’s what I heard. Finally my eyes adjusted and I looked around. Wherever I was it was night, and there were stars sparkling randomly overhead. I could make out trees around me- young, low trees that seemed more protective than menacing, despite the darkness. The area immediately around me was just a clear grassy patch, and I realized the grass under me was incredibly soft. I stood up and turned in place before stretching back out on the flat ground. The soft grass was surprisingly comfortable, and I yawned, looking up… and there in the night sky, I saw the moon for the first time in my life. It hung in the sky, a large orb of cool white among the twinkling stars. I stared at it for the longest time, lost in the sight and the sounds. I don’t know how long I stared at it, but it was so beautiful, and before I realized it I fell asleep in its soft glow.
I gradually became aware of voices around me, and I slowly woke up. The ground had changed, replaced with a soft material, and I snuggled into it, not wanting to get up just yet.
“Oh, huh. Flen, did you know there was a Pokemon in that?”
“No… I wonder how it managed to get in there?”
“Well, I’m not sure what to do now. It’s her PokeBall… so that would mean it’s her Pokemon too, right?”
“That is how these things tend to work.”
“Dad-ddyyyy…” An exasperated whine. “All my friends are here, you’re embarrassing me!”
There was laughter. “Welllll… then… I guess if you don’t want to be embarrassed, and Flen says you can keep it… then you should go say hi to your new Pokemon.”
I opened my eyes and looked up, just as whatever I was sitting on began moving. I was in a soft chair with a high back, facing into a corner. Somebody was turning it around, back towards the center of the room, and I stood up as I got my first glimpse of my new trainer.
She wasn’t as tall as most of the people I had seen- Clara could probably stretch and be taller than her- but she was taller than the rest of the children that were in the room. She had a black bow tied in her red hair, and her green eyes stood out against the yellow dress she wore. Her expression was in the middle of changing between pleased annoyance to overwhelming surprise, and she gasped. She faced behind her, towards where Flen and the man from before were standing. “An Eevee? You got me an Eevee?”
Surprise- and joy- were both evident in her voice. “See? I told you she’d love you.” The girl was ecstatic, and she picked me up in a hug and twirled me around, stopping and holding me out at arm’s length to get another look at me. “He’s so cute!!”
I was barely aware of the other people smiling at us. I couldn’t see Clara anywhere, but I knew she must be somewhere nearby given her comment earlier. I leaned forward and sniffed, inhaling the scent of my new trainer and committing it to memory. It was important, and I never wanted to forget it. I looked up at her eyes and her smile, and though I know she heard only a series of “Vees” I gave a wag of my tail and said to her, “Hi- what’s your name?”
She seemed confused for a moment, until I heard Clara’s voice again. “He just said hello! He wants to know your name.”
My trainer sat down in the chair she had picked me up out of and started rubbing my ears. “My name’s Sara! And what’s your name, Eevee?”
I looked at her and blinked. “My name? I don’t know… Everybody just calls me Eevee.”
Flen cleared his throat, and Sara looked towards him. “The pet store didn’t give him a name; that’s for his trainer to do. What do you want to call him?”
Sara looked back at me and was silent for a moment before she finally answered. “I think… well… his eyes look like little black jewels, and he seems so bright… so… I think his name should be Opal.”
I repeated the word and thought about it. “Opal… I think I like it.” I looked back at Sara and wagged my tail. I barked a short “Vee” sound that had no real meaning other than to express happiness and smiled.
Sara laughed and gave me a pat on the head. “I think he likes it.”
Sara half turned to look at him, and I leaned up to peek over her shoulder. “I don’t know… is it… lemon?”
Sara’s father laughed. “Of course it is, sweetie. It’s your birthday cake!”
There was a bit of chaos at that statement- the others in the room seemed very happy at the idea of cake, and as a group they began moving out of the room. I hopped down to the floor as Sara stood up and turned away, about to head out of room, but still looking over her shoulder at me. “Coming, Opal?”
I nodded and followed after her, wanting to see everything of my new home that I could and wondering what the cake would be like. We hadn’t even gone a few steps before Flen stopped us. “Sara, you’re forgetting something.”
Sara turned around and looked back at Flen, then grimaced. The PokeBall- my PokeBall- was still in his hand, and he bounced it up and down a few times. “This is yours too, and it’s just as important as the Eev… as Opal is. Lose it, and somebody could keep him from you, so learn to keep track of it.” Flen pushed down on a part of the PokeBall and it collapsed, shrinking until it was only a fourth of its original size. “This has a clip on it so you can put it on a belt or in a jacket, but you might want to keep in your backpack, or get a trainer’s bag for it.” Flen handed the PokeBall back to Sara, then looked down at me. “So… shall we get some cake?”
I followed Sara out of the room, looking at everything we passed. The first room-what I later learned was called the living room- seemed to be a good example of the rest of the house. The blue wallpaper continued through the hallway, as did the carpet. The carpet was really nice- every time I took a step I would sink a little, so that I could feel the carpet all around my paw, instead of just the bottom. The rooms we passed all seemed well lit, and every now and then I could see a window to the outside with sunlight filtering through. I started to look into one of the rooms to get a better look at it, but Sara stopped me. “Nuh-uh, Opal! Let’s get some food first; everybody’s waiting on us.”
We came to a new room soon after that. Sara walked into the room but I hung back at the entrance. Everyone from the living room was sitting in chairs around a table, and I finally saw Clara in one of the chairs next to Flen. The Espeon was covered in some sort of light powdery substance, and Flen was trying to brush it off with a towel- I couldn’t imagine what kind of situation had caused that mess. Everybody had started singing once Sara had arrived, and she smiled and blushed at the attention, but took her place at the table. At the end of the song, Sara leaned forward and blew at something out of sight on the top of the table, and everybody cheered. From the floor I couldn’t see what was on the table, but I soon figured it out- Sara’s father began cutting something and passing it around, and after a moment or two I caught glimpses of it. From the conversation I realized it was the cake, and from the comments it seemed to be quite good. Sara had almost finished her piece when she realized I was still sitting in the doorway, and she turned in her chair and looked at me. “Come here Opal; you have to try some too!” She patted her leg, so I walked into the room and hopped up into her lap. The other people all stopped and looked at me, and I let my ears droop, wishing they would look anywhere else. Flen was on the other side of the table, talking with Sara’s father, and Clara was perched in his lap, eating a piece of the cake from his plate.
Clara seemed absorbed in the food, and I didn’t think I would get any help from her, so I tried to ignore the people watching me and instead focused on Sara. She was holding a fork with a piece of cake on it, and watching me. “Try some!”
I sniffed at the cake, getting a sense for its smell. It seemed okay- nothing dangerous smelling or anything, and after all Clara was eating it, so I leaned forward and bit into it. Sara pulled out the fork, putting it back on the table next to another plate of the cake, and I saw that she had two plates and forks- one for me, and one for her? I chewed, tasting the cake, trying to tell if I liked it or not. It was definitely different from what the store gave me- sweeter, with a fluffier feel to it- but it didn’t crunch or tear easy, and it lost some of its texture after a moment of chewing. I swallowed the piece, and looked back at the plate. Sara had already had another bite of her piece, and she was holding the fork from before for me. I took another bite, still not sure if I liked the taste or not. “So what do you think, Opal? Like it?”
I swallowed, and looked up at Sara. “I’m not sure… it tastes weird.” I looked back at the cake and swallowed again.
One of the other people- another girl, maybe a little older than Sara- laughed at me. “Lemon cake isn’t for everybody, even if Clara’s gobbling it down like she hasn’t eaten in a week.”
A third person nodded. “I bet he just has different tastes. Maybe he’d like a strawberry or vanilla cake instead.”
Sara laughed at the comment and took another bite of her cake. She offered me another bite, but I shook my head. The cake didn’t taste that good, and I wasn’t quite hungry enough yet to want any more- I wasn’t sure how long I was in the PokeBall, but it didn’t seem to have made me hungry. Sara finished off her piece of cake and looked back down at me. “Are you sure you don’t want any more?”
I shook my head. “No thank you; I’m not hungry.”
Sara looked a little worried for a second, but then she smiled and took a bite from my piece. “Well, I guess that just means more for me, then.”
After that I watched and listened as Sara ate and talked with the other guests. The party seemed to be nearly over- from what I could piece together it had actually been going on for a few hours before the group came back to Sara’s house so she could open presents. It was actually a party for two of them- one of the other girls shared a birthday with Sara, and the party had started at the other girl’s house before moving here. For a while the group ate the cake and talked with each other, laughing at jokes or playing with some of the new toys. I listened and watched for the longest time, just absorbing all the changes- the new room, all the excitement and happy voices.
When I finally looked back at Clara, I found that she had stretched out on the floor and fallen asleep, one paw draped over her right ear. I laughed a little, thinking how funny she looked, and my laughter attracted Sara’s attention. She looked down at me, then followed my gaze and smiled. “That must have been some good cake, huh? She’s probably tired; Flen said she was helping Mommy set everything up for us.”
Flen noticed we were looking at Clara, and looked down at her. He laughed, then pulled a Pokeball out from the inside of his jacket. A pink flash of light surrounded Clara and she vanished, called back into the Pokeball. Flen stood up from his chair and looked towards Sara’s father. “Well, I guess that means it’s time for us to leave- the gym will fall apart if I’m away too long.”
There was some laughter, then a lot of noise as the guests all thanked Flen and said their goodbyes to him. I said my own goodbye, a quiet “Eve” that was lost among all the noise, but that he seemed to hear anyways. He smiled at me before waving goodbye and walking out with Sara’s dad. The party started breaking up after that- Sara’s father came back with another man, who left with one of the girls, and a few minutes after that another lady came and left with another guest. Eventually the last guest had left, and it was just Sara and her parents.
“We’ll start cleaning this up. Why don’t you go show Opal around the house?” Sara’s mother picked up what was left of the cake and started walking off, heading for another part of the house.
The idea of exploring sounded good to me, and Sara apparently agreed. “Come on Opal, let me show you my room first.” I jumped down to the ground and sunk a little into the soft carpet as she stood up. I wagged my tail and followed a few steps behind her as she led the way through the house. We left the dining room and went back down the hallway, stopping at one of the doorways we had passed before. “My room’s up on the second floor; the stairs come out here.” Sara started walking through the doorway and up the stairs- something I had yet to see. I watched for a moment as she walked up them before following, jumping from one step to the next- the spacing for the steps was probably perfect for a human, but for an Eevee it was a bit too large to take one step at a time. When I reached the top I sat up and looked around, taking in the new scene. The carpet was the same, but it seemed a little dimmer in the new lighting. The stairs came out on a hallway, and to the left Sara was already standing in another doorway and looking back at me. To the right was just another wall with a picture on it, so I followed after Sara. I noticed there were four other doorways beyond this one, and I stopped just behind Sara, looking at the other doors.
Sara looked down at me and laughed. “You like going everywhere but the way I’m going, don’t you?”
I shook my head, turning back to Sara. “No, that’s not it… I’m just not sure what’s in there.”
“Don’t worry… we’ll go check them out later.” For a minute I thought Sara had understood what I said… then I realized she had just made a lucky guess. She walked into the room and I followed after her.
“This is my room!” Sara walked a few steps into the room and jumped up on her bed, sitting on the edge of it. I stopped in the middle of the room and looked around. The bed was on the side of the room, but there were a few other pieces of furniture in the room- a dresser by a closet, and a stand for a television across from the door. The walls were a light reddish color, and light sunlight filtered in through blinds covering the windows on one wall. One wall had a picture of a many-tailed golden Pokemon I didn’t recognize, but other than that the walls were bare. The room had a pleasant smell to it and the television was suddenly playing a fast paced catchy song. I looked towards the television and saw it had just been turned on- there was still a bit of vanishing flickers along the edges. I had seen televisions before- the pet store had one at the counter that the workers would watch when it was slow- so I ignored it and kept looking around. The room was fairly clean- a few things were lying on the ground, and there was a book propped up against one of the walls, but other than that it was a clean room. I ducked under the bed, taking a quick peek around, before coming out the other side and hopping up onto it. There was a nice blanket on the bed- it felt like the carpet, only much softer, and I sank a little into it. Sara had turned to me and was smiling, the remote for the television in one of her hands. “So what do you think?”
“It’s nice.” I looked out the window from my spot on the bed, seeing a yard with a large tree. Sara flipped channels on the television, her feet dangling over the edge of the bed, and pet me with her other hand. We sat there for a while, talking on and off (though Sara really didn’t seem to understand a word I said), and watching the television. That part of the day was nice, which surprised me. When I had been thinking about all the good things that would come from having a trainer I had thought about playing or fighting other trainers and seeing new places, so it surprised me at how much I was enjoying just sitting around doing nothing.
The rest of the day passed faster than I realized. Sara eventually showed me other parts of the house, starting with the other upstairs rooms. There was another bedroom for Thomas, Sara’s brother, but he was much older than her and had left long ago to be a Pokemon trainer. Another door opened to a simple closet, and the last was a bathroom. The mirror in the bathroom was a little interesting- for a split second I thought there was another Eevee in the room, since the reflection was so clear and complete, but I caught on when I realized the second Sara was following her movements exactly. Despite my surprise I liked looking in the mirror- up until then I had only seen faint reflections of myself in glass windows, so I enjoyed the clear picture of what I looked like. There was another mirror and bathroom downstairs by the bedroom for Sara’s parents. We looked in there briefly, but Sara told me I probably should stay away from those rooms or her parents might get upset. She showed me the living room again, where she had first opened my PokeBall, and lastly we saw the kitchen.
On it’s own the kitchen wasn’t that impressive- it was just a collection of more closed doors, be it cabinets or bigger things that Sara had special names for, like ‘stove’, or ‘refrigerator’, or ‘dishwasher’. It was pretty boring, especially considering that Sara’s mother was in the kitchen and wouldn’t let me explore all the cabinets, but it found redemption in two small dishes sitting on the floor in a corner. While I was looking around the kitchen (and being shooed away from a cabinet) Sara opened a cabinet and pulled out a small bag, filling one of the dishes up with food from the bag. She filled the other dish up with water and set both dishes back down on the floor. Sara told me that whenever I was hungry or thirsty I could come here, and somebody would give me food or water. I tried the food, remembering Clara’s comment about having better food, and found it was much better than what the pet store had given me. Clara was right- there wasn’t anything wrong with the pet store food- but Sara’s food tasted so much better. I ate just a few nibbles despite the new taste as I still wasn’t very hungry.
After that we went outside to the yard. The sun was starting to set, but it was still light enough to make out the yard. The door opened to a shaded porch with a few potted plants on it, but beyond that was open grass, with the tree I had seen from Sara’s room. A fence ran around the yard, and a stone path ran from the porch to a gate in the fence. Otherwise, the yard was empty, and I immediately ran into the yard, rolling over to enjoy the feel of the grass underneath me. It wasn’t as nice as the grass in the PokeBall, but it still felt nice. We spent the rest of the night playing- Sara had a ball that she threw, like the game I played with others at the pet store, but with much more distance to cover. This was much more fun- being outside with Sara, experiencing so many new smells, and feeling the wind blow over me, made the game even better.
Eventually Sara’s father came to the door and told us it was time to go back inside. Sara seemed sad at first, and I wondered for a minute if I should stay outside and play with her anyways, but Sara just said “Okay” and picked me up on her way inside. We went up to her room, and she turned the TV on and set me down on the bed. She told me she had to do some things before bed, but that she’d be back soon. She left and for a while I just sat on the bed and watched the program she had left on. It was a show about the different types of Pokemon and was clearly designed more for trainers than Pokemon. I tried to pay a little attention to it but mostly I thought back over the day. It seemed hard to believe that so much had changed for me in such a short time. In less than a day I had found a new home, a new person to play with… and despite my earlier fears, she liked me.
I curled up on the end of Sara’s bed and looked out through the window. I could make out the moon through the tree’s branches and leaves, and I watched it for a while before finally drifting off to sleep.
“Clara, can you get the frosting for me?” Sara’s mom was in the middle of juggling a cake, two bowls of icecream, and a party hat, and the frosting was balanced precariously on the edge of the counter. Clara grabbed it, a purple glow appearing as the frosting levitated and moved to a safer position on the counter. “Thank you! We’re almost done; I’ll start putting this out in the other room. Can you help put some of this stuff away?”
Clara nodded, hopping up onto the counter as Sara’s mom carried everything into the dining room. She came back a moment later to grab the frosting, stopping to give the Espeon a quick head rub. “Such a good Pokemon; thank you!”
Pots and pans began flying as soon as the adult had left again, levitated by the psychic Pokemon’s powers. Everything had been scattered all over the place during the ‘cooking’, and the rampant disorder had gradually grown more and more annoying for the Espeon, and Clara eagerly leapt at the chance to straighten everything out. She carefully hurled all the dirty dishes into the sink and started the water running, then levitated the random bags and containers of ingredients back where they belonged. Everything was fitting back where it was supposed to, but for whatever reason one bag of flour just wouldn’t go back in. Clara ‘pushed’ a little harder, unable to figure out what was wrong. She remembered very clearly that before the ‘cooking’ that cabinet had held two bags of flour, the box of cake mix, the frosting can, the canister of non-stick spray on stuff, the green box that looked empty but was still somehow important, and the container of cookies. Now it had all of that again, minus the box of cake mix, but the flour wouldn’t fit!
Clara leaned closer to the cabinet, trying to see what was wrong- but oh no the sink was about to overflow! The Espeon turned back, distracted, and focused instead on turning off the water…
And was promptly covered in flour as the half-empty bag fell down onto her.
The Espeon sat there in surprise, her ears twitching, caught between outrage and embarrassment.
“Clara, it’s almost time, are you ready to sing Happy Birth…day…” Flen was walking into the kitchen and had stopped, staring at his flour coated Espeon.
The two stared at each other, and then as one broke out into laughter.
“Okay Clara, let’s get you cleaned up.” Finally calming down, Flen grabbed a towel, and the two walked into the dining room to sing happy birthday to the new trainer and her Eevee.
Chapter 3: Eevee- Opal's Story - Chapter 3
Opal goes to school with Sara.
Comments welcome! Hope everybody's enjoying the story so far.
The next day I woke up in a sleepy haze. I had liked the pet store, but Sara’s bed was so much, much more comfortable. I sat there for a few minutes before I was awake enough to realize Sara wasn’t in the room- and then I panicked and ran out of the room to find her. A quick search revealed she wasn’t upstairs (and I checked the closet twice just to be sure) so I hopped down the stairs to the first floor. I tripped about three stairs from the bottom, rolling the rest of the way to the floor, but I wasn’t hurt so I quickly got back to my feet. I ran into the living room and back out just as quickly- Sara’s parents were on the couch watching the TV, but Sara wasn’t there. Laughter came from the living room as I exited but I ignored it, concentrating instead on not slipping on the tiled floor of the kitchen. I finally paused and calmed down to think, and that was when I heard Sara’s voice coming from the dining room. I ran to that room, almost loosing my balance again- I mean, for the first time- on the tile, but I made it through the doorway more or less intact. Sara was sitting at the dining room table, eating breakfast and talking to a screen on the table.
I ran to her and called out “Sara!” though I know she heard only an excited “Eve!” She smiled when she saw me, putting her spoon down before picking me up in a hug.
“Here’s Opal now; isn’t he just the cutest?” Sara had turned back to the screen, and I turned to give it a better look. There was an image of a smiling guy with a baseball cap on the screen.
The person on the screen waved and said “Hi Opal!”
I blinked, looking at the screen with confusion. “Hello?” Clara had told me how the televisions at the pet store worked before- that they showed what had happened somewhere else at a different time, like a memory, but she had said they couldn’t respond to anything outside of the screen. I wasn’t sure what was happening and looked back up at Sara.
“Opal, this is my brother Thomas; he’s a Pokemon trainer. He just made a phone call from the Pokemon Center to tell me happy birthday.”
My confusion cleared- this wasn’t a television, it was some type of phone. I had seen them used at the pet store so people could talk to somebody who wasn’t there. I put my ears back up and replied with a simple bark, a happy but meaningless “Vee!”
Thomas laughed through the screen. “Well, he seems happy. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to call you yesterday; I just got caught up with a few problems here. How was the party?”
“It was fun! Brittany got a bike from her parents, and Flen was there, too; he brought his Espeon with him. I think they just came because of Opal, but it was amazing to see them both. That Espeon looks pretty powerful; she would just open doors and lift things out of her way without breaking stride.”
Thomas nodded. “Yeah, she’s very strong and she knows it. I tried to fight Flen before I left, but she was just impossible to beat. She seemed nice enough off the battlefield though; it’s easy to believe she’s friendly, especially to another Eevee.”
Sara nodded and answered back, but my attention wandered. I vaguely remember Sara asking Thomas what he did with his Pokemon at night, and him answering that it would depend on if they were hurt or not, but that he usually let them do whatever they wanted to. They talked some more about Sara’s birthday and about how Thomas’ travels were going before Thomas finally had to go. They said goodbye to each other before Sara pressed a button and the screen went blank.
The rest of that day and the next passed in much the same way as the day before. There were more trips down the stairs, and slipping on tile. We played in the yard until it was time to eat or go to bed, and came back again the next day. Some of the other kids from the party came over, and we played with them too. It was a lot more fun with more people- alone we played fetch with the ball, but when her friends were there we played tag or hide-and-go seek. And at the end of each day I curled up at the foot of Sara’s bed and fell asleep.
The third day turned out much different. I woke up earlier than usual, awakened by the sound of Sara digging through her closet. I hopped off the bed and walked over to her, yawning on the way. Sara was putting things in a backpack, and she looked down at me when she realized I was there. “Sorry Opal! I was just getting things together for school. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“It’s okay… what’s school?” I remembered vaguely that Clara had mentioned it back at the pet store. It was something people had to go to for some reason I had forgotten.
Sara gave me a pat on the head and went back to the closet. I realized from her lack of any other response that she had no idea I had even asked a question. I shook my head and tried to look into her backpack instead. Before I could make anything out Sara picked me up off the ground. I barked a surprised “Eve!” but Sara ignored me, instead putting me back on the bed. “No Opal, you can’t go in there, that’s for my books. If you want to come with me you’ll have to be in the PokeBall.”
I wasn’t sure what she meant by ‘come with me’. She wasn’t planning on just leaving me here while she left, was she? I didn’t think she would understand anything I told her, so instead I picked the PokeBall up in my mouth, walked back to her, and with tail wagging dropped it in front of her. Sara laughed as she reached down and picked up the PokeBall. “Okay Opal, I guess if you really want to go to school you can, but it’s going to be boring. Sure you still want to come with me?” I was nodding before she even finished asking the question, and she laughed. “Okay then. See you later!” Sara pressed part of the PokeBall and my world went pink before being replaced with the moonlit forest of the Pokeball. I yawned, then stretched out on the grass and went back to sleep.
I woke up a little bit later and decided to explore the world of the PokeBall. I knew Sara would let me out when she could, so I started looking around while I had the chance. It seemed about the same no matter where I went, and no matter how far I went, the clearing was always right behind me. It was a little creepy the first time I realized that, but it was still hard to be scared in the PokeBall. Everything about the place seemed calm and comfortable, familiar, and the moon overhead and the gentle chirping around me soon made me forget about the ‘stalker clearing’. I also learned that the PokeBall could make things for me. After a while of exploring the same spot I sat down and yawned, wishing I at least had a ball to play with. No sooner had I thought that than I heard a chime from behind me, and when I turned to investigate found a yellow ball where before there was only grass. I stared at it for a little bit, confused, but then boredom won out and I decided to play with it instead of wonder where it came from.
At long last I heard another chime and the world dissolved into a pink glow. When it faded I found a scene similar to Sara’s yard, though much larger, with random structures throughout it. Although it was a big area, the immediate area was pretty crowded. I was in the middle of a circle of several children, and they were all looking down at me with various expressions. I gave a nervous “Vee” and looked for Sara, finding her behind me. She put the PokeBall in her pocket and picked me up, holding me in a hug. “This is Opal; I got him for my birthday.”
One kid in the circle elbowed another kid. “See, I told you she has an Eevee!” The other kid- a boy maybe just a little younger than Sara- glared at the first one before looking back at Sara. “Is it true you got him from Flen himself?”
Sara shook her head. “Not really… well, kind of… I mean, he helped my parents pay the store, but Opal was still a gift from my parents.”
Other people began asking questions, talking over each other until it was just a blur of noise. I dropped my ears at the noise, a little uncomfortable from it. Sara noticed and told them to stop. “One at a time; I can’t understand you if you’re all talking at once! What were you asking?” She looked at a boy near the back of the circle.
“Well, I was just wondering what attacks he knew? He doesn’t look that tough.” Somebody snickered at that response, though I wasn’t sure who. Sara looked down at me, a look of confusion on her face.
“Um… I don’t know; we haven’t been in a battle yet. I guess he knows Tackle; that’s something every Eevee knows, but I don’t know about anything else.”
“You haven’t battled at all yet? Hah, I bet he’s a weakling; he doesn’t look like much of a fighter. That must be why Flen gave him to you; that would be the perfect Pokemon for you.” The speaker stepped forward from the crowd and faced Sara. I realized from his voice that he was the one who snickered earlier and I saw he had a PokeBall on his belt.
“Maybe, but he’s more than enough to take on you and your Growlithe. A blind Rattata could beat you.” Sara’s tone was angry enough to start making me nervous. This was the first time I had seen her get angry. It was easy to see she didn’t like this person and I was suddenly worried about what she might do.
“Is that a challenge?!” The PokeBall I had seen earlier was in the boy’s hand before he had finished talking, and he glared at Sara’s. “Growlithe, go!”
A pink beam shot out from the PokeBall and a red Growlithe appeared before me. I had seen a few of them in the pet store- there was a section near mine for them- and they had been fun to play with the on the few occasions I was able to. I didn’t think this one was going to want to play, and the whole situation was making me nervous. So many people were around, and I had never been in a battle before, and I was sure it wouldn’t be like the friendly playing I had done with the other Pokemon at the pet store. I backed up a few steps, stopping once Sara’s leg was between me and the circle of children.
Sara smiled at me when I hid behind her, but the boy just started laughing cruelly. “Wow, I was just kidding, but it looks like he really is a wimp. I guess I was right about Flen picking him just for you then; you make a perfect pair. Both of you are too scared to do what it takes to actually be a trainer.”
Sara turned red at that comment, blushing, and I could tell the comment had upset her. She didn’t actually say anything, but she swallowed and looked back down at me, blinking her eyes rapidly. I was worried about an actual battle and nervous about what would happen… but I wasn’t going to let somebody else hurt my trainer like that, and I gave a low growl as I stepped back into the ring.
Sara shifted a little when I reached the center, and I looked back to see that she had started smiling. The other boy looked down at me and his smile vanished into a scowl, and the crowd of people began murmuring and backing up to give us more space. I looked back at the Growlithe, examining him for the first time, and realized that Sara’s earlier comment wasn’t much of a stretch. The Growlithe looked wobbly and sick to the point where I lost some of my anger, instead concerned for it. “Are you okay?” I took a cautious step towards it, wondering if I could help it somehow.
The Growlithe shook his head and responded with an annoyed tone. “It’s just a little cold. I’m fine. Who are you?”
The Growlithe had such an abrupt and direct manner that it seemed almost rude, but I figured it was a fair question. “My name’s Opal; what’s yours?”
“John calls me Growlithe. I’m supposed to battle you?” The Growlithe looked behind him to his trainer- John- and waited for an answer.
Sara answered first, noticing the same things I had. “Are… is he okay? He looks sick; are you sure you want to do this?”
Sara voice merely sounded concerned, but her question just seemed to make John angrier. “You’re pathetic. You aren’t going to get me to back out of this for you. Growlithe, Bite!”
The Growlithe lunged at me without any other warning, mouth open wide and teeth gleaming, but he stumbled a little, and I was able to easily jump away from him as a result. John seemed a little surprised at this, and I realized that the Growlithe wasn’t moving as quickly as it usually did.
Sara noticed the same thing and her voice lost all of her earlier anger. “John, don’t do this; your Growlithe shouldn’t be fighting like this.”
John glared at Sara, and I was suddenly worried he would attack her himself. I edged between them just in case. “Are you going to battle or what? You started this!”
Sara looked back at the sick Growlithe, who was now standing near the edge of the circle and coughing. “Um… Opal, try not to hurt him too much… use Quick Attack!”
I turned from her to the Growlithe, and took a step forward… then stopped, looking back at her in confusion. What was Quick Attack?
John laughed. “He doesn’t seem to know that move, Sara. At least I know what my Growlithe can and can’t do.”
Sara blushed but looked back at the Growlithe and mumbled. “You wouldn’t know it from this fight.” Sara looked back at me and raised her voice again. “Sorry Opal. Every Eevee knows Tackle; use that!”
When Sara spoke the word ‘Tackle’, something just clicked inside my head. An image flashed through my mind of myself running forward and slamming into the Growlithe. Even though I had never actually done it before I knew exactly how to pull it off. I gave Sara a nod and charged towards the Growlithe, angry at John for laughing at my trainer. About five steps in I remembered what Sara had said about not hurting the Growlithe too much, and slowed down for the rest of the way… but I knew when I hit the Growlithe that I had really hurt it.
The Growlithe went flying across the ‘field’ and landed just short of the ring of people. He let out a soft grunt as he landed… and then just lay there, not even trying to get up. I dropped my ears and felt even worse- from the looks of it I had really hurt him, right after Sara had just told me not to. The people in the circle all seemed surprised, and a few said “Ooooh”, but Sara just looked sad. My first thought was that she was disappointed with me for not holding back more, but I quickly saw she was staring at the Growlithe, and that her feelings then were only of worry for it.
John began yelling at the Growlithe. “Get up and get back into the fight; you’re not going to let me loose to her, are you?” The Growlithe coughed again but didn’t move otherwise.
Sara stepped towards the hurt Pokemon and reached into her backpack. “You lost, John; don’t hurt your own Pokemon even more.” Sara pulled a small bottle from her backpack and pointed it at the wounded Growlithe. She pressed a button and a mist emerged from the bottle, floating slowly over the Growlithe. A second later he seemed to get a little stronger and slowly rose to his feet.
I dropped my ears and looked down at the ground. “Sorry Growlithe.”
The Growlithe coughed again. “It’s okay… it wasn’t your fault.” I looked up and saw the Growlithe looking back at John.
“I hope you feel better soon… maybe we can try again when you’re better? I’m sure you’ll beat me then.”
The Growlithe gave a soft chuckle. “That’s nice of you… we’ll see what happens.”
I smiled at the Growlithe, glad he wasn’t angry at me for hurting him. Before I could say anything else a voice yelled from outside the circle- an older voice this time. “What’s going on here? Move out of the way, move!”
The crowd parted and a woman stepped into sight. She looked at us- me, the Growlithe, Sara, John- and shook her head. “Are you two fighting out here? You should know better, especially you Sara! Put those away right now and come with me. I can see we need to have a talk with the principal.”
Sara looked down at me with a guilty expression on her face. She said “Sorry, Opal,” and with a click the world turned pink, replaced by the starry clearing.
I wasn’t sure what the lady was so mad about but I had a feeling that Sara wouldn’t be able to let me back out for a while. I still felt a little bad about the Growlithe to the point where I didn’t feel like playing with the ball, which was still lying where I had left it. Instead I just curled up in the clearing and watched the sky and the moon.
My guess turned out to be right- I was in the Pokeball for a while. The stars and moon slowly moved about the sky, but it was hard to keep track of time even with their aid. It dragged on so long that I finally ended up falling asleep again. When I woke up next I was back in Sara’s room, lying on a pillow on her bed. Sara was stretched out on the bed too, but she was facing away from me and writing in a notebook. I yawned, a drawn out “Veeee”, and Sara turned her head to look back at me.
“Morning, Opal! I guess you were tired after the fight. I’m sorry about that… I didn’t think John would challenge me to a fight right there, especially with his Growlithe being sick. You did a really great job though!” With that Sara sat up and pulled me into her lap, giving me a pat on the head as she did.
Outside the window the sky was orange with the setting sun, but there was light enough that I could still see by. The notebook was lying open, and I leaned forward to look at it. I couldn’t understand what she was doing- the signs in the pet store with their big straight letters were one thing, but the curves and scribbles on Sara’s page were nothing I could understand. I could tell that it was the same thing over and over again- every seven spaces the pattern started over again. Sara saw me looking at the notebook and let out a sigh before closing it with her free hand. “Yeah… John and I both got in trouble. We have to write ‘I will not bring Pokemon to school’ five hundred times by tomorrow. The teachers don’t want us bringing Pokemon to school anymore, ‘cause it’s too much of a distraction, so I’ll have to leave you at home tomorrow. It’s not your fault, though; you did great back there. That was a really strong tackle, and I could tell you were holding back!” Sara lifted me up and put me on the floor as she stood up. “I bet you’re hungry after all that work.” Sara started walking downstairs so I did a quick stretch and followed her. I wasn’t sure I had done all that much- in the end all I did was just run into another Pokemon- but I was pretty hungry so I decided not to mention that. Besides, Sara probably wouldn’t have understood me anyways.
The rest of the night passed happily- after a quick dinner we played in the yard until it grew too dark. After that we came back inside and watched television for a while. There was a news flash about a strange red Gyrados and a bright orange Cherubi attacking some nearby city, and that strong Pokemon trainers were desperately needed to help fight them off. I wasn’t sure what either a Gyrados or a Cherubi were, nor why the reporters kept mentioning the colors as if they was something special… but the report soon ended. It was replaced by a much more interesting superhero movie where a rich man dressed up like a Zubat and fought scary criminals, so I soon forgot all about the odd report. After the show ended Sara went back up to her room to finish her homework and I followed after her. She sat on her bed and worked for a few minutes, writing in her notebook, but before too long she closed it and set it on her dresser. “All done! Ready for bed, Opal?”
I blinked and thought it over. It was pretty late but I wasn’t that tired- I had slept for a good bit both before and after the fight with Growlithe. I finally shook my head in a no and Sara laughed. “I bet not; you must’ve slept all day!” Sara gave me a pat on the head, then picked up the remote and turned on the television. “I’ll be back in a little bit, Opal.” Sara turned and left the room, and I stretched out on a pillow and watched the show.
The show was a history report about some great Pokemon battles, and I was soon completely absorbed in it. I paid close attention and watched what both the Pokemon and the trainers did. Most of the Pokemon seemed far out of my league- the first fight was between an Onyx and Nidoking, and they both seemed scarier than anything I’d ever seen. The sheer power behind their blows scared me, and I wondered how I could ever stand up against something like that. The next few battles were about the same as large Pokemon fought each other with physically powerful attacks- but the final fight was a surprise. The two Pokemon combined were barely the size of a human, but they each seemed to wield more sheer power and endurance than all of the other Pokemon before them. One of them- a Glaceon, a Pokemon that looked as if somebody had just frozen an Espeon- summoned a storm in the opening round, then pulled chunks of ice from it and hurled them towards its opponent. The other Pokemon- a Raichu, a mouse type Pokemon with a bladed tail- deflected or flat out destroyed the ice with it’s tail, then pulled lighting down from the sky and electrified the field. The battle was simply awe-inspiring, and I didn’t realize just how caught up in it I was until the end when Sara completely surprised me with a cheer for the winning Glaceon. I had been so engrossed in the battle that I hadn’t heard her come back in and curl up under the covers, and I jumped a little at the surprise.
Sara didn’t seem to notice my shock, too caught up in the show herself. “Wow, that was an intense match!” She sat up on the bed and gave me a pat on the head. “One day we’re going to fight like that, I know it.”
The thought of fighting on that level scared me a little, but it also was a little exciting. I gave a happy “Vee!” and smiled, just trying to encourage Sara’s dream- though inside I doubted I would ever be able to compare to the Glaceon I had just watched. Sara changed the channel after that, flipping to a music channel that didn’t really hold my interest- upbeat songs about far away places with names I never heard of. Sara gave a yawn and fell asleep before long, but I stayed up longer, bored. Eventually the music changed to a flute’s melody, and the sound lulled me to a restful sleep.
The Honchkrow fluttered down from the tree and pecked at the Houndoom’s ear. “You’re not even listening, are you?”
“No, I’m not.” The Houndoom thwacked the dark bird with his tail, though the weak attack didn’t even ruffle feathers.
“Figures. The only thing you listen to is that Haunter; I guess it was pointless to expect you to try and think about anything else.”
The Houndoom snorted, and a wisp of flame fell to the ground with the exhaled breath. “And why shouldn’t I listen to him? I don’t know how your life went, but before he showed up I barely had enough to eat each night. Now my worry is about getting fat. Getting. Fat. Do you know how nice it is to have that be the big thing to worry about for once?” The Houndoom grabbed a berry and swallowed it, underscoring his point.
The Honchkrow glared back at the Houndoom. “Yeah, but there have to be other ways to get food. Those Mareep are probably going to starve now because of us.”
“Who cares about the Mareep? They can get more food- and if they can’t then they deserve to starve. They can eat grass. There’s grass everywhere here. Can you eat grass?”
“That’s not the point! It was their food and we took it. And what are we going to do about that Ninetales? I didn’t even know they came in that color! We have this blue Ninetales out there somewhere just waiting for us to attack again. How are we supposed to do anything now, when that thing could show up out of nowhere?” The Honchkrow flapped his wings, agitated.
“I didn’t have any problem with it.”
“You were the first one to run away! And you didn’t have to worry about it roasting you alive, you’re already on fire! What is Haunter going to do about that, huh?”
“Still don’t trust me, do you?” A form appeared behind the Honchkrow, a pair of red eyes staring at the dark bird. The bird whirled and glared back at it.
“No I do not. You grabbed the food and then left us back there on our own, and I know that Ninetales recognized you. What are you dragging us into?”
“I told you already, I never saw her before. And she won’t be a problem anymore.”
“Oh? And why’s that?”
The Houndoom rose to his feet, speaking again. “Because we’re leaving. There’s a city not far from here that we’re going to go to instead. Haunter and I already came up with a plan to slip into it.”
The Honchkrow turned back to the Houndoom, anger vanishing to curiosity. “Why would we want to go there? Humans are even worse; there’s no telling what kind of Pokemon they’ll have to attack us with.”
“You’re welcome to stay here with that crazy Ninetales instead. That’ll just be more things for Houndoom and I to split- just imagine all the food a city would have waiting in it. And humans have those machines that teach you the new abilities- I’m sure we’ll find some powerful ones at the gym there.”
“And what do you get out of all this?”
“What, you don’t think I want food or special abilities too? Knowing the two of you are well fed and happy can’t be enough for me?”
The Honchkrow thought for a minute, looking back and forth between the two. “Well… okay. We’ll see where this goes.”
“But I still don’t trust you, Haunter.”
Chapter 4: Opal's Story - Chapter 4
In which Opal spends a day at the gym, and meets new Pokemon.
I slept for a time after that. When I finally woke the sun had risen well into the sky, which meant it was maybe four or five in the morning, unless I really misunderstood the human clock. Sara was nowhere to be found. Her backpack was gone from her room and the bed was neatly made around me. I thought she might just be downstairs and hopped from the bed to go check, but Clara stopped me before I had left the room. “Good morning Opal!” I turned from the door and back to the window to find Clara perched on the windowsill. The Espeon seemed to glow in the morning sunlight that filtered past her.
“Clara!” I ran to her and jumped onto the windowsill. I meant to land next to her, but I misjudged the size of the windowsill and slipped, bouncing into the window and then back into Clara. She grinned but kept her balance, and I felt a tug steady me onto the narrow ledge. I looked down and saw a purple glow fade from around me as Clara’s psychic powers steadied me. I sat down next to her on the windowsill and felt suddenly much smaller next to her- though she took up almost half the window there was still plenty of room left for me. “Why are you here today? Do Flen and Sara know you’re here?”
Clara nodded and the bell on her necklace chimed with the motion. “Sara let me in. Flen heard about what happened at school yesterday- Mrs. Jackson was really upset with Sara and John- so he decided to get involved. He’s actually been trying to offer classes for young trainers for a while now, and your school ‘fight’ just convinced the school to let him give it a try.”
I wasn’t sure what Clara meant. “I don’t understand… Flen is going to be teaching at the school?”
Clara laughed, her melody making me happier just for hearing it. “Not quite. Sara and John will be spending some time at Flen’s gym instead of a full day at school, along with a few other children who already have Pokemon or have shown an interest in becoming trainers. They’ll learn more about Pokemon in general- a bunch of history and some other boring stuff- and about battling and the gyms specifically. Flen visited John’s parents this morning and I told Sara’s parents earlier today, and they’ve all agreed to let them try it out. We’ll have more kids join later, but Sara and John are going to be Flen’s first students at the gym, starting later today. It’s going to be fun!”
I still had the feeling I was missing something, so I looked down into the yard and I waited for Clara to say more. She seemed to be expecting me to say something, and she watched me silently, her tail waving back and forth under the windowsill. “So… Sara will be going to the gym after school, instead of coming home?” If Sara had already gone to school, then it meant I would be left here even longer without her, and my ears drooped at the thought. I didn’t even get to say goodbye this morning.
“Uh-huh! Flen will be teaching her how to really battle, so you’ll get to fight again with a real trainer there!” Clara’s tail froze mid wag. “Um… not that Sara isn’t a real trainer, I mean; just that… well…she’s still new at it, and there’s still a lot she doesn’t know yet, you know?”
I nodded, remembering back to when Sara asking me to do the Quick Attack move yesterday. I still hadn’t figured out what that meant. “So… she’ll come get me before she goes to the gym? We’ll be taking the class together?”
Clara looked at me and blinked. “What? No, silly, you’ll be there already! Didn’t I tell you? Sara didn’t want you to be stuck here alone while she was at school, and she can’t take you with her anymore, so you’ll come with me first! You won’t be stuck here or in your Pokeball all alone all day; you’ll get to spend the day with the other Pokemon at the gym instead! You’re not going to be stuck here all alone if I have anything to say about it.” Clara smiled, but she seemed a little sadder for some reason.
My ears rose at her explanation, and I wagged my tail a little. I hadn’t been looking forward to staying here all by myself while she was at school; the thought of being with other Pokemon and trainers was an exciting one. “Oh! That’ll be fun, then; there are a lot of other Pokemon there?”
Clara nodded and hopped off the windowsill. “Lots! Come on, let’s go eat, then we can go there and meet everybody. If you’re lucky a challenger might come by. Then you could get to watch me fight!” I hopped to the ground and headed to the kitchen, running a little ways ahead of Clara. This was my trainer’s home, so it felt right that I lead the way... even if I did stumble down the last few of the stairs. There was already food set out for me and I offered Clara some, but she turned it down, saying she had already eaten. I ate quickly and we left, Clara opening the door to the yard and closing it behind us. I heard a soft ‘click’ after the door closed and noticed a purple glow fading around the doorknob.
Clara saw me looking at the door and answered my unspoken question. “Sara’s mother made me promise to lock the door when we left- humans lock it so nobody else can get in. Sometimes nasty pokemon or other people will try and get inside to take stuff, or do other mean things. With the door locked it’s harder or even impossible to get in without the key.”
I nodded, understanding the sense of it. “That makes sense… I wouldn’t want just anybody being able to walk in and take my food or any of the other stuff in the house.”
“Uh-huh! That’s one of the reasons why people first started training Pokemon. They wanted us to help protect themselves and their things. Sometimes wild Pokemon will attack people or houses to try and take things, or even for no reason but to smash stuff. When that happens trainers come together to fight them off. It hasn’t happened here in a long, long time, though- since there’s a gym here there are always a lot of strong trainers who can fight off anything that might attack us.”
I nodded, listening as we walked together towards the gate in the fence, but Clara stopped as we came out from under the shade of the tree. She looked up at the sun for a moment, then back at me. “What is it?” I looked behind me, wondering if something was wrong with my fur or my tail.
Clara shook her head before walking again. “Oh… it’s nothing; I’m just being silly. Don’t worry about it. Come on Opal, let’s go!” Clara laughed and broke into a slow run. I ran after her and soon forgot her odd behavior, instead focusing on following her to Flen’s gym. It was fun to just run for a while, reminding me of some of the games I had played with Sara. We reached the gym after about twenty minutes of running, and we stopped in front of it to rest for a minute. I was a little tired from the run, though I could tell Clara had been holding back so I could keep up.
The gym was a large structure maybe twice the size of Clara’s house. It had a large double-door in the front that lead to a small room set before the rest of the building. A big sign over the door with large letters read “Jyrrian City Official Pokemon League Gym.” Otherwise it looked about the same as any of the other buildings we had passed on our way here- windows, brick walls, a roof, and all the other stuff that people put into their buildings. I finally caught my breath and we headed into the gym.
The doors parted on their own as we neared them- there was no purple glow that seemed to give away Clara’s power; the doors just opened. I stopped and looked at them closer to try and figure out what had opened them. Clara answered my question before I could ask. “Yeah, they do that… it’s creepy until you get used to it, but the doors will open whenever something comes near them. It’s some sort of machine, but it works pretty well. Come on!”
We kept going through another set of doors and into what Clara called a lobby. There was a hard black carpet at the entrance that made my paws itch a little as I walked over it. The rest of the room was tiled like in Sara’s kitchen, and I slowed down, knowing from experience that running over the tiles was a bad idea. Stopping wasn’t nearly as easy as starting. A couch and a television were in the room, along with a few chairs scattered around. There was also a desk near the left wall, and though the rest of the room was empty of people, a lady was waving at us from the desk. Clara walked up to the desk and hopped up onto it. “Hi Tammy!”
“Welcome back, Clara! So, is this the famous Opal we keep hearing about?” Tammy smiled at me as Clara nodded.
“Yep! Sara’s going to be part of Flen’s class, so he’s going to spend the day here until she gets out of school. I think he’ll like it better here than being alone all day, and I thought I could teach him a few tricks to help him out.”
Tammy looked back at Clara, still smiling. “You’d better talk to Flen about that! You know he doesn’t like you giving away all his secrets, especially without even asking him first. He likes feeling important, and if you teach Opal everything then he won’t have anything left to teach!”
Clara laughed and looked back to me. I was still standing on the black mat near the entrance, just listening to the conversation. “Come on, Opal, she won’t bite you!” I felt a gentle tug- not forcing me anywhere, but just enough to let me know Clara wanted me to come closer.
“Hi Tammy…” I know she just heard a string of “Vee” and “Eevee”, but I felt I had to say something. I walked up to the desk but stayed on the ground instead of jumping up next to Clara. Tammy seemed to be just fine with that, smiling down at me again before turning back to Clara.
“Flen’s in his office… though I guess you know that already. You should probably go check in on him- you know how he gets whenever he gets excited about something. Do you want me to show Opal around?”
Clara nodded. “Yeah, I should let him know I’m back…” Clara’s voice changed, slightly, becoming lighter. “Will you be okay without me for a little, Opal? I’ll have Tammy take you to somebody who’ll work with you for a while, until I’m free again?”
I nodded- I didn’t really want Clara to leave me with a stranger, but I didn’t want to keep her away from Flen. “That’s fine.”
Clara nodded and spoke to Tammy again. “That would be great if you could. Do you think you could bring him to Seth for a while? He’s used to training with younger Pokemon; it should be okay for him to take care of Opal for a little bit?”
Tammy shook her head. “Seth isn’t here today, he was covering the night shift last night. What about Todd?”
Clara grimaced at the name and shook her head. Her eyes kind of lost focus for a second, and her whiskers twitched a little, before she answered. “No, no… um… is Perry here today?” Tammy nodded, stepping out from behind the desk. “That’ll work, then! Just tell him to take good care of Opal, and I’ll be back later to take over. You’ll have lots of fun, Opal. Oh, and don’t run down the bleacher stairs; they’ll get you if you aren’t careful. Bye for now!”
Clara started walking towards a door to the side of the room, but Tammy headed to another set of double doors opposite the one I came in at and beckoned me towards it. “Come on, Opal, let’s go find Perry for you.” Clara paused and nodded at me, so I made a mental note about her warning and followed Tammy through the next set of the double doors.
The next room was simply huge- it was nearly the size of the entire gym. A flat field dominated the center of the room, marked out with white lines and raised stones, and surrounded by stands of benches. There were five trainers in the field, a group of Pokemon around each one. Two of the trainers were having a fight at the time, but Tammy led me to a trainer who was kneeling on the ground and talking to a Wartortle. Tammy called out as we came near, interrupting the conversation. The Wartortle looked at me with a startled expression, but it hardened almost instantly, and I got the impression I had annoyed him somehow. The trainer- who must have been Perry- stood up and waved to Tammy. They started talking to each other, but the Wartortle approached me, distracting me from Tammy’s conversation.
“Who are you?” The turtle Pokemon had a gruff voice, and his tone was clearly annoyed. His expression had hardened from annoyance to anger, and it shocked me.
“I’m Opal; who are you?” I kept my tone light and gave a quick wag of my tail, then sat down and looked around. Perry had two other Pokemon by him- a Meowth, who seemed completely uninterested in… well, everything beyond his paw, which he was licking intently- and a shy Oddish, who I could just barely see peeking out from behind Perry’s leg. I waved at it- a quick wag of my tail in its direction- and it shrunk farther behind Perry’s leg. After a few seconds it peeked out again, then waved back by folding one of its head leaves down and back up again.
The Wartortle shot a quick glance back at the Oddish and scowled at it before looking back at me. “Perry calls me Shells. I’m his strongest Pokemon, and the three of us were practicing. You’re interrupting us.”
I shrunk a little, confused, and leaned away from the Wartortle. “Sorry… I didn’t mean to interrupt, I was just… I’m just here to… I’m not really sure, I’m just here until my trainer gets here from school…”
The Meowth gave a choked laugh and looked at me for the first time. The Wartortle glared harder at me and launched into a tirade. “This isn’t a daycare, Oval! If you’re going to hang around with us, you’re going to train with us!”
I slinked down further and tried to disappear into the floor. “My name’s Opal…”
“I don’t care what your name is! If I want to call you ‘Mud’ then I’ll hit you with Water Gun and call you Mud! Now get up and run!”
“RUN!” Shells shouted and took a step towards me, seeming suddenly much larger. I squeaked an “Eve!” and scrambled away from the Wartortle, breaking into a run. The Wartortle followed and shouted after me. “We’re going to run around this field until we find the end of it. So let’s get moving!”
I spared a quick glance behind me at the Wartortle. He was a ways behind- he was a lot slower than me, probably because he was heavier- but I didn’t want to find out what would happen if he caught up with me. “But this is a circle. It doesn’t have an end…”
“DID I SAY YOU COULD SPEAK? RUN!!” The Wartortle put on some speed and began catching up so I looked back ahead and focused on running faster. As we ran past I could see the Meowth laughing, rolled over on its back and shaking. Tammy was also laughing as she watched us while Perry just shook his head. Some of the other Pokemon and trainers were watching us (and a Nidorina even started to run along with us until its trainer called her back), but I was focusing on running too much to pay much attention them. Though I was still scared of the fearsome Wartortle chasing me, after about the second or third lap around I realized I was enjoying the run- other than a few nights playing outside with Sara I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to just run.
Eventually- I had long since lost track of the number of laps- Perry interrupted us. “Shells, Opal, that’s enough; come on back.” I checked behind me to make sure Shells was going to stop first, and found the Wartortle already on his way back to the center. When I got back to the group Tammy was gone and Perry was sitting down on the ground scratching the Meowth’s ear. Shells walked right up to Perry and started stretching. I wasn’t sure how to duplicate that stretch, and I didn’t know Perry or any of his Pokemon that well (Shells had just chased me all over the gym, after all!), so I stopped a few steps away and stretched out on the ground. The run had pumped me up and I wagged my tail back and forth happily. Perry smiled at me and waved. “Tule, Felix, this is Sara’s Eevee. Shells has already met him, obviously, but his name is Opal. Sara and Opal are going to be learning from Flen, and he’ll be learning from us while she’s at school. There’s no hope for Shells anymore, but you two be nice to him- he’s Clara’s friend, and she’ll be keeping an eye on him when she isn’t busy.” When Perry mentioned Clara the three Pokemon each had a different reaction. Shells grinned, while the Meowth looked surprised and examined me closer, and the Oddish’s eyes just went wide in an awed expression as she backed up a step. Perry ignored their reactions and kept talking. “Opal, it’s nice to meet you, and I hope you’re not too upset about Shells’ behavior; he can be a little high strung sometimes. This is Felix”- here Perry pointed to the Meowth- “and this is Tule”- Perry pointed to the Oddish. “They’re my Pokemon, and are all very strong ones in their own ways. They should be able to teach you a lot if you pay attention. From what I understand you’ve already been in a short battle… but I think you still might like to see an official trainer battle. That sound like a good idea to you?”
I hopped back to my feet with a quick “Vee!” and nodded, remembering the television show Sara and I had watched last night. I thought for half a second about taking a part of the fight, but it seemed wrong to fight without Sara there. Perry probably wouldn’t understand me anyways so I decided to just watch for now.
Perry stood up and waved to another trainer. “Hey, Todd! Are you up for a battle? I want to show Opal how it’s done.”
The other trainer stood up and drew a Pokeball from his pocket. “Sure.” His voice was barely a whisper, and I wasn’t certain if I had just imagined him talking. He pointed the Pokeball at the ground and a Nidorino emerged from the resulting beam. It stretched and gave a quick bark, a sharp “Nid”, then turned to face Perry. The other trainers and Pokemon backed away from us until there was plenty of room for the battle. Felix sat down in front of and to the left of Perry, and Tule stopped behind one of Perry’s legs. Before then I hadn’t imagined that a plant could look nervous, but Tule pulled it off, bouncing from one leg to another with her leaves drooped. Shells just looked ready. He was leaning forward and swiping the air in preparation, watching the Nidorino. Todd’s Pokemon was unmoving but returned the stare, and sparks seemed to fly between the two Pokemon.
“Ready Shells?” Perry glanced down at the Wartortle, who gave a quick nod without looking away from the Nidorino. “Okay then- rapid spin!”
Shells took a step forward with his right foot, his arms and body facing left. Before he could move any farther Todd whispered to his Pokemon “Horn attack.”
The Nidorino lowered his head and started to charge, the spines on his back glittering in the gym’s light. Shells twirled forward- standing on his right foot for a moment, he spun his hands and body to the right, lifting himself off the ground and into a spin. He tucked his head and limbs into his shell and spun even faster until he was just a blur. The flying shell hit the ground at an angle, and the spin caused it to shoot forward towards the charging Nidorino. The two met in the middle with a loud bang, and they both went flying back the way they came. The Nidorino twisted from the force of Shell’s spin, and the Wartortle was launched into the air from the force behind the horn. The Nidorino slid a few feet before coming to a stop, shaking its head in annoyance; Shells popped out of his shell and landed in a crouch.
Felix started giving an explanation of the fight as I watched. “That’s a standard opening from both trainers in this type of match. Shells and Feren don’t have a clear advantage, so they’re warming up and testing each other. Rapid Spin and Horn Attack are both mid-level attacks- they can pack a decent enough punch, but they aren’t too spectacular as far as moves go; they just hurt to get hit by. A bit like your Tackle move, for instance.”
The trainers called out new commands- Todd whispered something I missed, but Perry yelled out “Protect!” to the Wartortle. The Nidorino- Feren- started to rush forwards again, but Shells stood in place and braced himself. The Wartortle raised an arm and exhaled, and suddenly everything beyond the Wartortle shimmered and took on a bluish tint. The Wartortle shifted, and everything slanted towards the left suddenly- the Nidorino, Todd, the bleachers all wavered a foot or two to the left. Feren turned a little in his charge and continued onwards, then impacted- or at least he seemed to think he did. The Nidorino lowered his head and jabbed his horn through a complex maneuver, five rapid fire strikes- straight into the empty air right of the Wartortle. It was a clean miss, and his momentum carried him past the Wartortle.
“That’s Shells’ Protect move. It’s mostly used by Psychic pokemon, but he manages to pull it off using a fine veil of water. It’s really good at keeping him from getting hit- some trick of light or something makes the other Pokemon think he’s somewhere else. The strongest Psychic Pokemon can just make you think they’re somewhere else. It doesn’t always work- larger attacks hit enough of an area that the accuracy isn’t as important, and the angles don’t work quite the same way for Pokemon that are smaller than Shells, but it’s usually a good save against a stronger attack. It gets less reliable the more often it’s used, too. Opponents will start to figure out the trick to the distortion and aim to make up for it. Feren used Fury Attack, which is basically a more advanced version of Horn Attack- it’s a series of five short attacks that don’t do much damage on their own, but add up real quick if you get hit by enough of them. It’s the strongest move Feren happens to know, which is why Perry had Shells avoid it.”
The Nidorino looked frustrated, and I got the feeling he had been the victim of that particular trick before. The trainers were quick to respond- Perry called for an “Aqua tail” while Felix was still talking, and Todd whispered something unintelligible in response. Shells’ tail seemed to droop and took on a damp look as he spun in place, flinging his tail at the Nidorino. It impacted with a sharp “thwap” on the Nidorino’s side, but it was the Wartortle that flinched away, cringing in pain. The Nidorino hopped away from the Wartortle, back towards Todd, and I saw some of its spines glistening. Shells dropped to a crouch, one hand on the ground, and I saw a series of red marks along his tail.
I blinked, not sure what had happened, but Felix was already explaining. “Those are some of the more complex moves a Pokemon can learn- Shells is a water Pokemon, and he just used a water attack; the Nidorino is a poison Pokemon, and used a Poison attack- Poison sting. When a Pokemon uses a move that matches his type, it gets some more punch behind it, and a lot of times the move will do something more than just hurt. Feren’s attack just poisoned Shells, which is bad. He’s going to gradually get weaker as this fight goes on.”
I looked at the Wartortle, worried. “Shouldn’t we stop the fight? We need to get Shells some help if he’s been poisoned!”
Felix shook his head. “No, it’s not quite like that- there’s not nearly enough poison to kill him or even make him sick. It’s not like eating bad food; it’s just something that gradually makes you sleepy. The same thing happens with burns and freezes, which are other things that can happen in a fight- something in the Pokeball protects us so that it’s never serious enough to kill or even scar you; it just hurts. More for some Pokemon than others.” With that Felix glanced back at Tule, who covered her face with a leaf. There was obviously some story behind that but neither of them said any more. I didn’t feel right prying into the shy plant’s history so I looked back at the fight, where the two combatants were watching each other.
Perry called out to Shells. “We’re almost done, Shells, hang in there! Skull Bash him!”
Todd smiled, and whispered another order to Feren. “Fury Attack.”
Shells crouched down on all fours and focused, tensing up, and I felt a trembling in the air- I could tell that what he was about to do was going to be strong. He didn’t move from there, and the Nidorino rushed at him again. This time the horn flurries landed dead on, slamming into the Wartortle’s shell, knocking him back a few feet. Shells stayed on his feet, still focusing, but I could tell he was having trouble staying up- another attack like that would probably end the fight. Feren didn’t seem much better off, walking in a limp that favored his left side. Despite the limp he still looked as if he could take another hit or two from the Wartortle.
Felix didn’t say anything, so I kept watching. Todd gave the command for another Fury Attack- but before the Nidorino could move, Shells shouted, a drawn out “WAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRR!!!!!” The Wartortle charged forward, galloping on all fours, claws digging into the ground. He hit the Nidorino, hard, and the spiny Pokemon went flying into one of the low walls before the bleachers. It hit with a crash, bouncing off and landing onto the ground. For a moment, it looked like the Nidorino was going to attack again- it crawled to its feet and shook its head, looking at the Wartortle… but then it slumped back down to the ground with a soft “Iiin”. There was a flash of pink and Feren vanished, called back to Todd’s Pokeball.
For a moment I wondered what the inside of the Nidorino’s Pokeball would look like. Felix interrupted my thoughts and brought them back to the battle. “And skull bash is the strongest move that Shells knows. It takes some time to prepare the charge, but it hurts a lot. It ends most of the fights Shells uses it in.”
Todd walked over to Perry and handed him some paper he pulled from a pocket. “That was a good match. Shells is still just as strong as I expected he’d be. I’m not happy we lost… but I’m glad to still have challenges.” Todd looked down at me. “You never know when the next one will come along. Maybe we’ll have another strong Espeon on our hands soon, if Sara’s worth all the time Flen’s putting into her.” With that Todd turned and walked away, juggling the Nidorino’s pokeball in one hand.
Shells had stood in the middle of the field doing a slow stretch. When Todd walked off the Wartortle walked back to our group, looking at me with an air of pride about him. “That’s a real battle for you, pup. What’d you think?”
I could tell he wanted to brag so I indulged him. “It looked hard… you’re very strong; that skull bash was amazing. How’d you know how to do that, though? I’ve only been in one fight, so I’m not really sure what all I can and can’t do- Sara asked me to do a Quick Attack, but I didn’t know how to.”
The Wartortle stretched again, leaning from side to side. “Some things you’ll figure out how to do just by practicing and being in enough fights. Some you’re just born with. Still others you can learn just by watching other Pokemon, or by seeing it demonstrated on a machine the humans have. This gym is known for one such machine; trainers who can beat Flen, or demonstrate a certain level of skill are given a machine that teaches the ‘Return’ move, which can be pretty nasty in the right hands. The best way to learn them is by practice and exercising- and don’t worry, I’ll make sure you get plenty of that while you’re here.”
Before I could respond, Clara’s voice interrupted. “And how do you plan on doing that, Shells? Or did you forget that Opal is Sara’s pokemon, and that they’re both guests of Flen? That Sara asked Flen and myself to teach them, not you?” I looked behind me and saw Clara sitting on one of the seats in the bleachers. She hopped down and headed towards us.
Shells turned to face her with a grin on his face. “Hi, Clara… no, of course I didn’t forget, I was just… you know, helping out. Explaining everything to him.”
“I’m sure you were; thank you so much.” Clara’s voice was heavy with sarcasm, but it lightened. “Thanks Felix, Tule. I hope it wasn’t a problem for you.”
Tule’s leaves drooped a little as the plant seemed to actually become terrified, but Felix didn’t seem to mind Clara at all. “It was no trouble; we were happy to have Opal with us. He’s welcome back anytime.”
“Sorry about taking so long Opal. Flen and I were just… um… discussing a new battle strategy. Let me show you around the gym!” Clara started heading back towards the double doors we had come in through.
I followed after Clara for a few steps but stopped when I heard Felix mumbling. “Strategy my foot. She was probably playing fetch or some other game with him and Obsidian; it’s impossible to keep her serious for long.”
I looked back over my shoulder, still mid-stride. “Who’s Obsidian?”
Felix blinked at me, and Shells stopped in the middle of another stretch. “Wow, he’s got pretty good hearing. Can Clara hear that well too?”
“Yes, I can, but don’t tell them that.” I heard Clara’s voice, but the Espeon kept walking away from us, and none of the other Pokemon made any indication that they heard her- she had just said that to me.
“Obsidian is Flen’s Steelix… he’s a real giant, but he’s a lot of fun to play with.” Tule blinked nervously, then drooped all of her leaves over her eyes and sat down on the ground. I wasn’t sure what to say- I wanted to ask what a Steelix was, but Clara was still walking away from us. So instead I just smiled at the Oddish. “Thanks, Tule! I’ll see you all again- it was fun.” I gave a flick of my tail in thanks and ran off after Clara. “Hey, wait up!”
I caught up with Clara and she led me through the rest of the gym. The arena was the main part of the gym, but there were a lot of other parts to it. The reception area where Tammy worked was at the front end of the building, but the back and side had their own rooms. Clara led me briefly by each of the side rooms and explained they were offices for different people, before taking me to a large room in the back. This room was mostly a lounge area- there were benches and televisions for trainers to relax with, and lockers and cabinets where they could put valuables that might be damaged in battles. There were a few other odd machines I didn’t recognize or understand, but what really interested me was when the room split into what Clara said was the Pokemon section. For most of the room the floor was a type of tile, but towards the left side the benches ended and a carpet began. It reminded me of the play room at the pet store, but with more care put into it- there were benches and pillows laid out randomly, and even a small pool of water with a fountain set against the wall. A Clamperl was at the bottom of the fountain, and she lazily opened her shell and blew bubbles at us when we walked by the fountain. Taken altogether it seemed a calm and peaceful place to rest and recover in.
After showing me the rest of the gym Clara led the way back to the arena area. Perry and Flen were talking together on one of the bleachers about four up from the bottom, and Flen waved to us as we walked through the doors. Clara bounded across the field to him, hopping up the stands with her split tail swishing through the air behind her. Flen knelt down and gave her a pat on the head. I walked across the field after Clara and took a second look around the arena as I walked. Other than myself and Clara there weren’t any other Pokemon, and Perry and Flen were the only trainers- the rest of the large arena was empty. I jumped up onto the bottom bleacher but paused and looked up at Clara, waiting until she looked back at me.
“Where’d everybody go? Is something wrong?”
“No, everything’s fine. The gym is just closing down early today since it’s the first day of training for John and Sara. If a challenger shows up they’ll just have to wait until tomorrow, and the other trainers are all off doing other things around town. It doesn’t happen too often but it’s not unheard of for the gym to close down for certain things. After today the gym will stay open; Flen just doesn’t want any distractions for himself or for Sara or John on the first day. And, speaking of Sara and John…” Clara looked up past me and I turned around to see Sara walking through the gym’s double doors.
Sara looked nervous at being in the gym, but she smiled and waved when she saw me. I hopped off the bench and ran to her, happy to see her again. “Hi Sara! How was school? I missed you, but I met some nice- and strong!- Pokemon here; there was a Meowth, and an Oddish, and a Clamperl, and a Nidorino, and of course Clara, and Flen has something called a Steelix, but I didn’t get to see it, and there was a Wartortle, and he totally clobbered the Nidorino in a battle, and I got to watch, and… and…” I stopped talking, realizing that Sara was smiling at me. “You don’t understand a word I said, do you?”
I heard Clara laugh, and looked behind me to the bleachers. “She’s starting to understand some of what you mean, but I’ll keep telling her what you say when I can. Come back over; Flen’s ready to start now that Sara and John are here.”
“It’s okay Opal. And hi to you too! School was bbbbbooooorrrrrriiiinnnggg, but I’m glad to see you again! Are you ready to finally start these lessons?”
“Uh-huh! Come on, let’s go!” Sara gave me a pat on the head and we walked back towards the bleachers. John was a few steps behind, looking down at the ground. He was obviously upset, but… there probably wasn’t anything I could do. He looked up a little and glared at me, so I looked away and followed after Sara.
Flen and Perry met us in the center of the field. Flen started talking to Sara and John, but I quickly zoned out. It was a pretty boring talk- about what it meant to be a trainer, and the responsibility that went with it, and some of the challenges a trainer would face. It’s not that I didn’t like Flen, but what he was talking about just didn’t seem interesting to me- it was more things that Sara would want to know, like different categories of battles and different types of PokeBalls, and to me it was just boring. After a while I stretched out on the ground and just let my mind wander.
I didn’t even realize I was asleep until Clara’s voice woke me. “Wake up, Opal! You’ll like this… and… you’re kind of in the way.”
I jerked to my feet and looked around. I saw Perry and Flen standing on opposite sides of the circle in the center of the field- and that I was in the middle of them. Sara was standing a few steps away from me, looking back and blushing. “Um… Opal?”
Everybody was looking at me, and I was pretty sure Flen and Perry were laughing a little, so I scampered over to Sara. “Sorry, I… I kind of got bored.” I drooped my ears and stayed close to Sara as we walked over and up to the fourth row of bleachers, where John was already sitting. He watched me with a smirk on his face as we sat down.
“Sleeping on the job? Guess your Eevee doesn’t take this very seriously, does he, Sara?”
Sara glared at John. “At least my Pokemon’s here. Where’s yours at, anyways? Stuck at home in his Pokeball?”
John’s smirk vanished into a frown. “That’s none of your business. Let’s just watch the fight.”
John and Sara turned back towards the field and I sat up on the bench and followed their gazes. Flen and Perry each had a Pokeball in their hands and a pink glow was fading from between the two of them. Shells appeared before Perry, and he waved at me before turning towards Flen and stretching. Flen’s Pokemon finished appearing, materializing into a large bird, its skin gleaming with a metallic shine. The Pokemon spread its wings with a clanging “Shing!” noise as its feathers rubbed against its side, and screeched a harsh “Sssssssskkkkkkaaaaa!” It shook and turned to Perry and Shells, its beak spread in a vicious grin.
Shells gulped and backed up a step and I could tell he was scared- I was scared too, looking at the creature Flen had summoned, and I knew it wasn’t going to come after me. Next to me Sara gasped. “A Skarmory! I didn’t know Flen had one of those; that’s incredible!”
I looked up at Sara the same time John did. “What’s a Skarmory?” Our question was in unison and John glared back at me. Sara didn’t seem to notice, not looking away from the Skarmory. “I’ve only read about them in books. Skarmory are both Steel and Flying Pokemon. They’re notoriously bad tempered and most trainers can’t begin to control one. They love picking fights, be it with another Pokemon or even their own trainer. If a trainer isn’t careful they’ll deliberately ignore commands, even if they would have otherwise done it. Bringing a Skarmory into a fight is considered a desperate move- a trainer is effectively fighting two Pokemon instead of just one.”
Flen made a clicking noise and the Skarmory settled back to the ground, a soft clinking noise coming from it as it moved. “This isn’t going to be an official battle- this is just a demonstration- so we’re going to bend the rules a little. Clara?”
Clara hopped down from her place on the bleachers and took a place on the edge of the field. She sat down and started glowing, the ground around her turning to a soft shade of purple. Shells glowed along with her, his blue skin taking on a purple hue. The Wartortle gasped and stretched his arms for a moment, before turning back to the Skarmory and settling back into a fighting position. His expression was focused now and much more confident.
“This would normally be a very uneven battle and it wouldn’t be fair to ask Shells to fight Skary normally, so Clara’s going to help even the playing field. What she’s doing now is what’s known as the ‘Helping Hand’ move. Instead of doing anything herself, with this move she’s channeling her power through Shells so that his moves are closer to her level. In a real one versus one fight this would be illegal, so it’s important you recognize this move- it means your opponent is using two Pokemon instead of just one. A lot of Pokemon can learn this move- Eevees learn this naturally, so Opal should already know it, and Growlithe learn it after a bit of training. It’s pretty easy to spot when it happens, and it’s perfectly legal to use in a two on two battle… but if you see a Pokemon doing it in a one on one battle, call off the match- your opponent is cheating.”
Sara and John both nodded, looking back and forth between Clara and Shells. I looked at Clara and tried to figure out how she was doing the move. Flen had said this was something I could do… and after a few seconds something clicked. I saw an image in my head of myself concentrating on another Pokemon, with a stream of energy flowing from me to the other Pokemon. I looked up at Sara, certain I could do the same move. “Um… since this isn’t a real fight, can I help too? I can do what Clara’s doing; I can help Shells out too?”
Sara looked down at me with a confused expression on her face. Clara must have been too busy to translate for me, so I tried again. “Can I help too?”
Sara looked back to Flen. “I think Opal wants to help, too?”
Flen looked at me for a moment in thought before nodding. “That’s fine with me if you don’t mind, Sara. The practice would be good for him, and it’s just a friendly match anyways. Come down here and help Clara.”
Before I could move the Skarmory twisted its neck around and glared at Flen. “You want me to fight all three of them at once? What kind of a fool do you think I am?”
Flen returned the Skarmory’s glare without flinching. “Well, I was under the impression you could handle Clara, a ‘weak little Wartortle’, and a baby Eevee. But, if it’s too much for you, we can have Opal help you out instead, if you need it that badly.”
The Skarmory hissed, and I realized it was laughing. After a moment it stopped and began talking again. “It’s not good to have two Pokemon doing that particular move at the same time to the same Pokemon, and especially not when one of them is as much of a novice as Opal. Clara is smart enough that she could probably pull it off with somebody else who knows what they’re doing, but Opal could easily make a mistake that would end up hurting Shells or Clara. It might be better for Shells if Opal helped me instead- if Opal messes something up I can overcome a bit of a handicap.”
Flen’s expression softened and I could tell he was thinking. “Hrm… I didn’t realize that would be a problem. Well, if you’re okay with Opal helping you, I don’t see why we can’t make this an official trainer match, with Clara and Opal as supporters instead of full combatants?” Flen looked to Perry.
“That’s fine with me. No title, just a trainer match?”
“Of course- it wouldn’t be fair for you to challenge a gym leader with my own Pokemon, after all.” Flen and Perry both laughed at that.
I started running down the stairs, and about halfway down remembered Clara’s warning from earlier that day. I tried to slow down, but before I could I ended up tripping, loosing my footing and falling down the last few steps. I thought I was going to hit the floor of the gym, and tried to get my feet down in front of me... but I stopped just short, floating just below the first step, a purple glow surrounding me. Clara looked at me with a grin. “I warned you about the stairs, Opal.”
“Sorry...” I thought back to my earlier falls down stairs and drooped my ears. “That keeps happening...” Clara giggled and lowered me gently the rest of the way, but I just grimaced, imagining how John would probably make fun of Sara for that. Clara interrupted me before I could think too much about it. “Come on Opal; sit over here and think about using ‘Helping Hand’.” I nodded and moved to sit next to Clara. I thought of ‘Helping Hand’ again and, just like the image of ‘Tackle’, I saw an image in my mind of my energy flowing through to an ally. I imagined the Skarmory as the other Pokemon… and I immediately felt a lot weaker and light headed. Clara blinked and shook her head, and I noticed a light glow around Shells flicker and vanish. “Not so much, Opal; you’ll hurt yourself! Imagine this move like when you’re eating- you don’t want to just shovel food in, you slow down and take little bites. Think of it that way and then try it again.”
I shook my head and felt my strength return as the move’s effects faded. I took a breath and concentrated again, thinking about taking little bites like Clara suggested. It felt weird at first, like I was being jerked back and forth, but after a few moments the move seemed to smooth out and the Skarmory took on a faint brownish glow. I could feel the Skarmory, could feel him drawing on the energy I was giving him, could feel him using it to augment his own strength. I was so engrossed in the move that I didn’t even realize the battle had started- and finished. I felt a nudge and my concentration broke, and I looked up to see Clara standing next to me. The brownish glow faded from the Skarmory and I looked back up into the bleachers. Sara and John were clapping and Flen and Perry were shaking hands. Shells and the Skarmory both looked beat up and tired, so much so that it was hard to tell who had won.
I turned back to ask Clara who had won, but the room spun and I stopped in place. I suddenly felt very disoriented and drained, so I sunk down to the ground and shut my eyes. “That… that felt weird. Is it always like that?”
“No it isn’t; you should hold still for a bit. It’s not really a hard move to pull off, but… Skarmory is a lot more powerful than you are, and he’s used to putting a lot of raw force into his attacks. Neither one of you knew your limits, so it ended up being a little too taxing on you. You just need more practice, preferably with a Pokemon that isn’t so much stronger than you, or one who knows more about what you’re capable of. But it does get easier. Here’s Sara; just take it easy.”
I felt myself being lifted into Sara’s arms and I opened my eyes to look up at her. “Good job, Opal; you won! Well, I mean, you helped Skarmory win, but it was ssssoooo close, so you definitely made a difference!” Sara rubbed my ear and I instantly felt better. I was still light headed and tired so I didn’t know what to say. Sara looked away from me to Clara, and after a moment I realized Clara was talking just to her. Sara looked back at me, looking a little worried but still obviously proud of me. “Go rest for a while, Opal; you deserve it.” I heard a click and the world faded, replaced by the moonlit glade of the Pokeball. I stretched out on the grass and quickly fell into a dreamless sleep.
When I woke up I was back in Sara’s room, and I could tell it was late at night. Sara was fast asleep but had left the television set on a music channel again. I stretched and yawned quietly before hopping off the bed. The door had been left slightly open and I realized I was starving, so I slipped out and headed downstairs for food. Sara’s dad was awake and in the kitchen, and after a little whining and tail wagging he filled a dish up with food for me. I ate slowly and thought back over everything that had gone by in the day. Flen’s gym was amazing, and I couldn’t wait to go back again, or to battle with Sara. I felt stronger already just from having watched and helped, though I felt a little disappointed that I had had so much trouble with the Helping Hand move.
After finishing dinner I followed Sara’s dad into the living room. He was sitting on the couch watching television, so I hopped up on the couch and watched it with him. I didn’t really understand what was on the television- I think it was a news cast, like the kind Sara watched sometimes, but it wasn’t about a Pokemon match; it was about some far away place I had never heard of and research for something I couldn’t even pronounce. I zoned out and thought more about the Helping Hand move instead. After a while I started feeling drained again, and I realized I was doing the move again- energy was leaving me and going to someone else. I shook my head and looked at Sara’s dad, but he had fallen asleep and looked normal- no glow about him at all.
I got up and sniffed but there was nothing- no other Pokemon’s smell, no hint of anything else. Clara’s scent was recognizable but faded, and I couldn’t imagine why she would be here now- it was probably just left over from her visit this morning. Thinking about it I started to feel a little scared, so I went back upstairs and slipped back into Sara’s room. I nudged the door shut behind me with a soft click. Sara was still asleep, and the room was mostly dark- the television seemed to be on and was playing a flute melody, but there was just a black screen instead of a picture- so I hopped up on the windowsill and ducked under the blinds, looking out into the yard. For the briefest second I swore I saw a flash of silver in the yard and I squinted, searching for anything that might be out there. The moon brought a soft light to the yard, even though I couldn’t see it directly. It seemed calm and peaceful outside, almost friendly, and try as I might I couldn’t see anything. I felt the strangest urge to jump through the window and go outside… but before I could act on it something moved- a quick flurry of the shadows, a gentle rustling of bushes. I squinted, trying to figure out what was outside, but I just couldn’t make anything out. I slunk inwards and hopped back to Sara’s bed to hide under her covers. Eventually my fear was replaced with exhaustion, and the sound of the flute coming from Sara’s television was very soothing, and I soon fell asleep for the rest of the night.
Sara’s yard was still and empty... and then in an instant a silver Ninetales was simply there. She was leaning against the tree as a soft brown glow faded from around her, and she looked up at the sky with a wistful sigh, simply staring up at the stars.
She watched the sky for a while… then she slowly rose to her feet, turned with a swish of her tails, and vanished. The yard was quite and empty again, with no sign the Ninetales had ever been there.
With her disappearance the flute melody in Sara’s room faded, reverting back to the silence of an off tv.
Chapter 5: Opal's Story - Chapter 5
Another day at the gym.
The next day Sara woke me up while she was getting ready for school. We ate breakfast and played for a little until it was time for Sara to go. I walked with her to the gate, and before she left she knelt down and patted my head. “I’ve got something for you, Opal! Since yesterday was a ‘real’ trainer battle Flen said that the looser owed money to the winner. Flen’s Pokemon were on both sides so he came out tied, and since Perry lost, they said you and I were the winners! You should have seen John’s face when he heard that, he was so angry! So since we were the ‘winner’ Perry gave me some money! I didn’t want to take it, but they both said you earned it, so I took it and got you…” Sara reached into her backpack and pulled out a white band. “This! See? It’s a collar, so you can go around town without people thinking you might be a wild Pokemon.” Sara flipped the collar around, showing a metal tag. “It’s got your name on it and mine, and our address, so if something happens to you somebody will know where your home is and help you get back to it. And here’s the best part!” Sara reached back into her bag, pulling out a small ball with a clip on it. “It also got this piece… which goes here…” As she talked Sara snapped the clip onto the collar, causing the ball to jingle the same way Clara’s had. “See? Flen told me you liked Clara’s, so I got you one just like it!”
I looked at the collar thinking it looked like it would be too tight, but decided not to complain, instead being grateful for the gift- it really was nice, and the thought of having one from Sara made me happy. “I love it, it’s pretty!” Sara snapped the collar open and put it around my neck. Despite my concern it fit comfortably and even a little loose. I gave Sara a lick on her nose in thanks and she smiled and gave me another pat on the head, before standing back up. “Now, Clara showed you the way to the gym yesterday; do you think you’ll be able to get there okay on your own?”
I thought for a minute and nodded. “Uh-huh!”
Sara nodded. “Good! Clara’s going to be waiting for you, so head straight there, or she’ll go looking for you! I have to go to school now but I’ll see you afterwards, okay? Have fun!” She reached down and rubbed my head one last time before starting down the sidewalk.
“You too Sara!” I wagged my tail as she turned and walked off down the path, then sat down once she was out of sight. The bell jingled from around my neck as I moved and I smiled at the sound. It reminded me of Clara, but I knew that now I’d think about Sara every time I heard it, too. The bell’s sound hung in the air, its last echoes still in my ears after the ring faded. I listened and savored the sound with my eyes closed, then rose and headed down the sidewalk towards the gym.
I knew from yesterday to stay out of the street and just to walk along the sidewalk- every so often a car would drive by in the street, and I suspected it wouldn’t be fun to run into one of the speeding vehicles. The walk was nice even alone- the sound of the bell was still new and interesting, but every so often a person would walk by as well. At first they would seem surprised to see me, but when they saw my collar they just smiled and went on their way. Finally I stood before the doors to the gym, suddenly nervous about going in for reasons I couldn’t quite pin down.
While I stood there thinking it over the double doors slid open and something orange shot out at me, knocking me over and pinning me to the ground. “Lithe!” Looking up I saw John’s Growlithe wagging his tail happily. “Hey, Opal! Looks like I got you this time, huh?”
I blinked and wagged my tail back at him. “Hi Growlithe! You seem better; I told you you’d get me once you were.” My back was starting to hurt, but I was glad the other Pokemon was feeling happier- he had seemed so miserable and hurt the last time I saw him, so I didn’t mind a little discomfort if it meant he was happy.
Okay, so I minded a little. “Can I get up though? I’m supposed to meet up with Clara, and she’ll be expecting…” I broke off as the Growlithe hopped off of me, and I saw Clara sitting in the open doorway smiling at me.
“Good morning, Opal! I see you’re already practicing, but you should really come in first. Flen’s spent a lot of time and money taking care of a gym we can practice inside of; it’d be rude to spend all day training right outside of it…” Her ‘voice’ had a sing-song quality to it, letting me know she wasn’t being serious.
Growlithe hopped through the doors into the gym and I climbed back to my feet. “Sorry, and good morning, Clara!” I hopped through the doorway into the gym, pausing just inside to watch the doors slide closed behind me. “Is John here with Growlithe? He seems a lot better than before.”
Clara started walking towards the gym floor. “No, he had to go to school just like Sara. Growlithe is better now though, so he’s able to come during the day now. He was pretty sick; I don’t think John was taking very good care of him. He was at the PokeCenter all day yesterday and the nurses still want him to take it a little easy, so he shouldn’t be doing much more than watching us today.”
“What about pouncing unsuspecting Eevees?” I smiled and Clara laughed.
“Taking it easy doesn’t mean the same thing to a Growlithe as it does to a nurse. He’ll be fine. How about you? You seemed pretty worn out last night.”
“I guess I was. I was pretty exhausted when I finally woke up, and I think I was hearing things. I tried practicing the Helping Hand move, and it seemed like it worked- I felt a little light headed like I did with Skarmory, but then it just stopped all of a sudden. I thought it was weird that the move still worked even though nobody was around to use it with.”
Clara paused and half turned to look at me. “Oh? That’s strange… Helping Hand can’t work at all if you don’t have another Pokemon with you. It’d be like tackling nothing; you just can’t do it. Were you near a window? There might have been a Caterpie or a Noctowl outside that you didn’t know about. It usually takes a lot of practice with somebody before you can do it without even knowing where they’re at- Flen had me practice with Steelix while he was underground digging and it’s a real pain- but maybe something weird happened. That might be why it stopped suddenly, too; you just got lucky in the first place?”
“Maybe that was it… I’m not really sure anymore if I was by a window or not, but that could explain it.”
Clara started to turn back around, but stopped suddenly and looked back at me. “What’s that?”
I followed her gaze and looked down at my new collar. “Oh! Sara gave this to me this morning. She said she got some money from our fight yesterday!”
Clara’s looked slightly aggravated. “I still don’t think that was fair. Flen wouldn’t have won money no matter how the battle went since he was on both sides… but I guess it doesn’t hurt to give Sara some help.” Clara walked up and examined the collar, her expression softening again as she looked it over. “It is pretty though; the color suits you.”
I sat up and smiled, and the soothe bell jingled a little. “Thanks!”
“Okay, time to head in- Shells is waiting inside for you.” Clara grinned and started walking off, the sound of her soothe bell seeming somehow louder. I grimaced at the thought of Shells waiting for me. No good could come from that… but I followed after Clara anyways.
Growlithe was already running through to the main gym area with his tail wagging behind him. We had gotten halfway to the second set of doors when Clara suddenly stopped mid-stride and turned to face behind me. I stopped and looked back, seeing nothing but the doors we had just come through. “Clara? What is it?”
Clara didn’t answer, instead staring blankly out the door. After a minute I went up to her and nudged her. She jerked in surprise and looked at me, her eyes a little out of focus. “Um… sorry, something’s not… Opal, you go ahead; I need to check on something with Flen.”
Clara started walking back outside, and I think she started running as the doors closed. I was about to go after her when the doors behind me opened and Shells jogged through towards me, Feren following behind him and grinning. “What are you doing out here, slacker? You’re never going to get anywhere if you just sit around, looking outside! Now get in there and start running?”
“RUN!” Shells leaned over and into my face and yelled. I slinked to the ground, ears drooping, and ran through the doors into the gym. I looked behind me and sure enough, Shells and Feren were running behind me. I kept running and sighed inside, getting the feeling this was going to be a constant thing with Shells. As we ran around I noticed Growlithe sitting in the center of the field and talking with Perry’s Meowth. I wasn’t sure what they were talking about- it’s hard to listen to people while you’re running around in circles.
After the eighteen or nineteen lap Shells finally stopped chasing me and walked towards the middle of the field. I slowed down but realized I wasn’t nearly as tired as I had been the day before. I brightened a little and jogged another lap, though at a much slower pace, Feren picking up his pace to run along beside me, flashing me a grin as he did. I realized the rabbit had been holding back the whole time to stick with Shells. Shells stopped stretching and sat down to watch as we kept running, and said a few things to Growlithe and Felix, though I still couldn’t make out what they said. I finished the last lap and walked to the center of the field, collapsing on the ground next to them. “Hi!”
Felix stared at me for a moment, not even blinking, then closed his eyes and yawned. Growlithe looked from me to Felix, looking a little surprised, but Shells just laughed. “Good job Opal; you did pretty well just then. Tired?”
I nodded. “Yeah, but not as worn out as I felt yesterday. You?”
Shells just laughed harder but otherwise didn’t answer, instead going back to stretching in place. Growlithe shook his head before turning to look at Feren. “So… um… Shells said you battled yesterday?”
The Nidorino didn’t even nod, instead just stretching out on the ground. “It was close.”
Shells bent over and touched his toes. “It was. I got lucky; it could have easily gone the other way. Opal saw it.”
I thought back to their fight and nodded. “They were both really tough, and amazing to watch in action! Perry and Todd both knew exactly what to do though; they seemed to both have the whole match planned out from the beginning. Have you two fought like that before?”
Shells stopped stretching and sat down on the ground. “They may not seem like it at first glance, but Perry, Todd, and Flen are each close friends. I’m Perry’s first Pokemon, just like Feren is Todd’s first Pokemon, and Clara was Flen’s; they became trainers together, and while they traveled we would battle together and get stronger.” Feren shot Shells an annoyed look but the Wartortle ignored him. “Perry and Todd are pretty even- Perry might be ahead after yesterday, but Todd will probably end up winning the next battle. It usually goes that way, although every now and then one of us will win a few in a row. That’s why we both train so much- neither one of us wants to be the one to let our trainer down.”
Growlithe looked back at Shells. “Why? What do they do to you if you do?”
Feren narrowed his eyes and looked at the Growlithe, his ears rising above his head. “Do? What do you mean, ‘do’?”
I suddenly felt intimidated by Feren and slinked back a little, even though he was looking at Growlithe and not me. Growlithe didn’t seem to even notice the change, still looking at Shells. “Well, you know, like… I don’t know; keep you in your Pokeball for a few days, or skip a meal, or take a toy away?”
Shells growled and began walking towards the bleachers, and I realized the trainers were seated in a group talking on the stands- Shells was walking over to Perry.
Feren wasn’t done talking and I realized he was angry- Felix was looking up at him in surprise and seemed about as nervous as I was feeling. “Our trainers don’t do things like that to us just because we aren’t what they expect us to be. Sometimes we stay in the PokeBall for a while, and yes, there have been some times where food was short and we and our trainers went hungry, but we didn’t go through that because our trainers are mad at us; it’s because for some reason they have no choice but to. Todd would never do something like that just to scare us into doing better. The reason we don’t want to let them down is because we’re proud of them, and of ourselves.” Feren’s eyes narrowed and he leaned towards Growlithe. “Why? Does your trainer do things like that?”
Growlithe flinched, seeming to finally realize the change in Feren and Shells’ attitude. “Some…sometimes… but it’s just his way of training me, making me stronger.”
Feren snorted and started to walk to the bleachers after Shells, but then stopped and looked back at me. “What about you, Opal? Does Sara do things like that to train you?”
I shook my head. “No, she…” I stopped, suddenly realizing I didn’t really know what Sara did to train me. “She’s never done anything like that. I’ve only even been in the Pokeball a few times, and usually because somebody else told her I had to be. I guess… I’m not really sure what she does for training other than coming to the gym. So far we’ve really just played fetch, and watched matches on television, and…”
I stopped as Feren turned around and started walking back towards the stands. I stood up and took a step towards him, suddenly worried I had said something wrong. “Sara’s not a bad trainer!”
Feren’s ears rose up and he stopped, half turning back towards me, his expression serious, and he spoke slowly. “How would you even know?”
I was suddenly unsure, and I sat down in surprise… and the bell on my collar jingled with my movements, the sound of giving me confidence in Sara. “I just do. I’ve only known her for a few days, but I know she’s a great trainer.” I flashed through all my memories of her- from first meeting her, to when she held me after I fought with Skarmory, to the collar she had given me just this morning. “She takes care of me, and makes me happy… and I’ll make sure she’s safe; I won’t let you get her in trouble.” I stood up and took a step towards Feren, my ears flattening as I moved towards him.
Feren’s ears rose all the way up as he turned to fully face me, spines glittering in the gym’s light. He laughed a little, a low, angry sound that scared me. “And… just how do you think you’re going to do that, Opal?”
I answered by charging towards him, moving into the steps of a Tackle. I lowered my head for the last few steps, and…
I completely missed him. I skidded to a stop and turned back to face him, but he was already charging at me in response. I didn’t have time to dodge but I managed to brace myself, slinking low to the ground. Feren hit me with his horn, a sharp pain in my left foreleg that hurt, but I held my ground against the attack. I concentrated on appearing fierce, and growled at Feren, an instinctive reaction. It surprised me a little, because it seemed to startle the Nidorino, who backed up a step. I vaguely was aware of things happening beyond the two of us- somebody was shouting, and I heard Shells telling me to duck, to run, but I ignored it and kept my attention focused Feren. He was too close to dodge this time, so I ran towards him in another Tackle. This time it connected and I heard a crunch as I hit him in the side. I felt a sharp pain in my forehead as I hit, and as I hopped away I heard something snap. I tried to back up a step, but the world tilted and changed colors, and I staggered.
Feren laughed, another dark sound. “Poison Point. You really should be more careful about what you run into; it might hurt you more than you hurt it.” Feren took a step towards me but stumbled. “Though… that hurt quite a bit.” The Nidorino’s ears fell back and he glared at me. “You’re pretty strong for such a young Eevee. Maybe you’ve been getting better training than you thought.”
I tried to glare at him but it was too hard to focus. As I watched him the Nidorino was turning blue, then black, and then yellow, with the rest of the world shifting colors as well. My head started to pound, and I collapsed to the ground.
I tried getting back up, but as I rose the world tilted again and I fell back to the ground with a thud. Feren glared down at me, and I heard the sound of others around me… but before I could do anything else the world faded away.
Absol collapsed inside the cave, physically unable to move another step. He looked behind him just as the Houndoom leaped into the air… then pain shot through him as the fiery hound bit into his shoulder and gashed his side.
Absol swung his head forward, trying to impale the Houndoom with the blade on his head, but the creature was too quick and managed to jump out of the way. Something hit Absol on the back of his head, stunning him, and he saw the Honchkrow fly past him and out the cave. It must have beaten Absol here and just been waiting.
The Houndoom came towards him again, but slower this time, wary of the sharp blade. Absol tried to spear him with it, but he was still just too slow, and the Houndoom dodged aside it to crunch down on the Absol’s back, leaving gashes in the wounded Pokemon’s skin.
The Absol’s vision faded as he blacked out, his body reaching its limits after the long run and savage attacks. His last sad thought was that he wouldn’t be able to warn Flen, and that the disaster would hit Jyrrian City after all, before his world faded into a sea of darkness...
…so he didn’t see the boulder, glowing purple, fly into the Houndoom and hurl it out of the cave. Flen ran to the Absol’s side, already reaching for a potion, while Clara took up a position at the entrance, creating a psychic barrier against the attackers.
When I woke up my head was pounding. I was lying on a bench in the locker room, a warm towel folded up underneath me. Todd was sitting next to me, idly tossing a Pokeball up and down in the air. I sat up slowly and turned to Todd, wondering what Feren had told him.
Todd caught the Pokeball again and put it in a backpack that was sitting on the bench. He pulled out a spray can like the one I had seen Sara use on Growlithe, and pointed it at me. “Hold still.” There was a hissing noise, and a mist poured out of the can into the air around me. Immediately my head felt better, and I wagged my tail in thanks.
Todd tossed the empty can into a trashcan and leaned back a little. “It’s not often another trainer’s Pokemon picks a fight with one of mine all on their own. Especially one as inexperienced as you; it should have been obvious you didn’t stand a chance against Feren. All of us were surprised to see the two of you fighting- even Shells doesn’t just up and attack Feren, and those two have a long history of rivalry.” He looked at me, staring straight into my eyes. “This is just not something the Pokemon of trainers do.”
I dropped my ears, having a feeling I knew where this was headed- somehow this was going to come back to Sara being a bad trainer.
“Feren told me why he thinks you attacked him, but I’ve found from past experience that he doesn’t understand or deal with Eevees all that well. Back before Flen settled down to become a gym leader, Clara and Feren would get into some pretty memorable arguments, and she still is a little cold towards him. I want to be very sure on this, though, so I’m asking you too. Opal, did you attack my Pokemon because you thought he was going to hurt Sara?”
I wasn’t sure what the right thing to say to that was. I already felt I had gotten Sara into enough trouble, and the last thing I wanted to do was make it worse.
Todd looked at me and his expression hardened. “Be honest.”
I looked down and nodded, wishing I was just back in Sara’s room and that this whole day hadn’t happened.
Todd stood up. “That’s what Feren thought, too. Sara will be here for you later; you should wait here until then. We need to have a talk with Flen, from the looks of things.”
Todd picked up his backpack and made an odd whistling noise, then left, shutting the door behind him. I heard a bubbling noise from the pool, and looked to find the Clamperl had opened up its shell and was watching me. I stretched out on the towel and rested my head on my paws, letting out a soft whine in frustration. I listened to the sound of the water in the pond, wondering what exactly Feren had told Todd, or how Sara could possibly be a bad trainer. Everything seemed fine to me- I liked Sara, and I could tell she liked me. I knew she wouldn’t treat me the way John treated Growlithe or do anything that might hurt me. She liked playing with me, just like I did with her. She didn’t make me run around in circles like Shells did, but I didn’t think that made her a bad trainer. To be fair I didn’t know for sure what made a good trainer, but as the bell jingled from beneath my neck, I was sure she wasn’t a bad one.
After a few minutes I heard the sound of footsteps outside, and raised my head to see Shells walk in. He waved to the Clamperl before hopping up next to me on the bench. For a while the Wartortle just sat next to me without saying anything, but eventually he reached down and poked me. “You okay?”
I nodded. “I’m fine… but… I messed up, didn’t I?”
Shells shrugged. “I don’t know. Nobody does at this point; nothing like this has really happened at the gym before. Nobody can figure out where Flen or Clara have gone, either, and Todd isn’t talking to anybody about anything; he just put Feren back in the Pokeball and brought you to this room. All he’ll say is he needs to talk to Clara and Flen about something first. Perry got really upset about what Growlithe said about John, and went to call his parents. I guess… everybody’s just surprised at Feren, and at how well you managed. Why’d he attack you like that?”
I sat up and blinked. He thought… that Feren had attacked me? “He didn’t… I attacked him. He was just defending himself.” I drooped, trying to hide in the towel I was lying on.
Shells looked down at me in surprise. “You? Picked a fight with Feren?” I didn’t answer but felt my ears droop a little more. Shells looked back ahead and chuckled. “That was stupid of you.”
“I don’t know… I guess it was. I was sure that I had said something, and that he was going to get her in trouble, but… I’ve just put Sara in more trouble, haven’t I?”
Shells nudged me again and I looked back up at him. “Will you stop acting so miserable? Sara’s not in any trouble.”
I stared at Shells blankly. “What do you mean? You just said the whole gym is upset at what I did. And Feren was going to get her in trouble to begin with; I couldn’t stop him, and I’ve just gone and made it worse. You don’t even know what I told Feren about Sara. I don’t even know what I said about Sara.”
Shells shook his head. “I don’t know what you said either, but I know it won’t get Sara in trouble. Nothing you could have said would get her in trouble. Flen’s been keeping a close eye on you and Sara, and the whole gym knows it- every time you see Clara she checks up on you. She’s a strong psychic and can do that kind of thing without you even knowing it. If Sara was doing anything wrong, Flen would already have said something to her and straightened it out. Feren’s just… he’s abrupt and a bit of a jerk, and he doesn’t like wasting time; he’s like Todd in that way. He and Clara got into so many fights way back when. Whatever you said probably just confirmed Sara was doing a good job, so he just wasn’t interested anymore, and went to tell Todd about John. Nobody’s been watching John, so we both knew we had to tell somebody how Growlithe was acting. Pokemon shouldn’t get to the point where they expect that kind of treatment as part of ‘training’ or ‘toughening up’. And… don’t worry about Sara being in trouble because of your fight. Feren was a little hurt, but everybody was mainly upset because they thought he had attacked you. I’ll let Perry know, and that’ll be that.”
“Even… even though I attacked another trainer’s Pokemon? I thought we weren’t supposed to do that, unless our trainer told us to? Todd said…”
Shells interrupted me. “Don’t worry about what Todd said. I mean, yes, you shouldn’t just go around attacking whatever you feel like; it will come back on Sara if you act like that… but… Listen to this, Opal; these two things I’m about to tell you are probably the most important things you’ll learn at this gym, more than any move or special ability.” Shells leaned in, and I concentrated on him completely.
“Todd isn’t your trainer, Opal, he’s Feren’s. He can tell Feren what to do, or how to behave, or what not to do… but he can’t tell you what to do. Perry can’t tell you what to do, I can’t tell you what to do, not even Flen or Clara can tell you what to do. Only Sara has that right, because only she’s your trainer. Remember that while you’re training here. The only reason we can teach you anything, anything at all, is because she’s said it was okay for you to learn here. Everything you’ve learned has come because Sara came to us for help. If something somebody here tells you goes against what Sara told you, always listen to what Sara says. She might be new at being a trainer, but she’s smart enough to know to get a lot of good trainers to help her- she’s learning fast, and she won’t mess up with you.”
“And number two- Sara won’t have a problem, and nobody at this gym will ever, ever have a problem with anything you do to protect your trainer. That’s something every Pokemon and trainer at this gym knows- that good trainers know to look out for their Pokemon, and that good Pokemon look out for their trainers. A good Pokemon will do anything to keep their trainer safe- so nobody is going to get Sara in trouble for what you did. Feren probably isn’t even mad at you anymore. Just… just keep in mind that even though you thought you were protecting Sara, she wasn’t in any actual danger this time. Do whatever you have to in order to protect your trainer… but next time make sure she needs protecting first, okay?” Shells poked me on the nose and grinned, and I tried not to laugh at him. I felt a lot better- I still felt like I messed up, but what Shells told me seemed right. In a way I felt like I already knew that- when I went after Feren I hadn’t stopped to think if it would get Sara in more trouble; it was just more important that I do something to help her.
“Sara might not know this yet, but it’s obvious you do. You’re becoming a great Pokemon- which means Sara is a great trainer. You just went head to head with a Pokemon with years more experience because you thought Sara was worth it and deserved your protection. A bad trainer just doesn’t get that kind of reaction from a Pokemon. Even if Feren had found some flaw with Sara, once I tell Perry how you responded it won’t matter, not anymore. Flen will know for sure that Sara’s training you right- you wouldn’t have cared enough to attack Feren if she wasn’t. Do you know what Growlithe did, while I went to get John in the same trouble you were afraid Sara was going to be in?”
I shook my head. “No, I was… kind of busy.”
Shells chuckled at that. “Yeah, I guess you were.” Then his expression hardened. “But Growlithe wasn’t. He was just sitting in the center of the field, laughing, while the two of you fought. I think he wants John to get in trouble, to be hurt, and that’s not something a Pokemon should ever want of their trainer. Everybody who noticed what he was doing got angry, and it just proves what I told Perry- John is not treating that puppy right.”
“Oh.” I let that sink in, and we sat in silence for a few minutes, before I realized there was a question I wanted to ask. “Shells… what was Clara like? You said she fought a lot with Feren, but what was she like as an Eevee?”
Shells leaned back, and I could tell he was remembering things. “Well… she was very different when we first met her. You’d think she was a different Pokemon, almost. She was… I guess uncertain would be the best word? Nervous? She always followed somebody around. It was like she was scared we would vanish if we got out of her sight, or maybe that Flen wouldn’t want to come back for just her. She was very quiet around all of us for the longest time… Feren couldn’t stand her. He wanted his own space, and Clara wanted to be absolutely sure somebody was there. I don’t know exactly what happened, but they were left alone for a bit while Flen and Todd went to buy some things from the store; they got into a small fight, and Feren told her something along the lines of ‘grow up and leave him alone’. She left him alone after that, even though we could tell she still really didn’t want to be by herself. Feren regretted it and tried to make it up to her, but she was too scared of him after that, and Flen ended up keeping her with him all the time.”
Shells straightened up, smiling. “But that was a long time ago. Flen was a really good trainer, even way back then when he was learning everything, and he took really good care of her. Eventually I think she realized she could trust Flen to always be there for her, and it made her want to make him happy in return. She evolved into an Espeon, obviously, and kicked off a whole new round of fighting between herself and Feren. Nobody ever got hurt, but they were constantly squabbling about something; they went out of their way to annoy each other. They can still be a bit of a jerk towards each other, but mostly it’s just amusing now.”
I thought over what Shells said, trying to imagine Clara ever being a scared Eevee, and failing. The Espeon I knew just seemed too confident and sure of herself for me to believe she had ever been like that. Finally Shells stretched and hopped off the bench. “I’m going to go talk with Perry now. I know I just told you nobody but Sara can tell you what to do, but… it’d be a good idea to stay here for now, just until things are straightened out. Todd knows from Feren what happened, but Todd’s being Todd and not talking to anybody else, so people could be thinking anything right now. Sara should be on her way here now, since school has let out, so it shouldn’t be too much longer, okay? Just wait here for her.”
Shells looked like he was about to say more but he was interrupted. “Shells, Perry needs you. Flen just called the gym, and he wants us all to meet him at Absol’s cave.” Felix appeared in the doorway, balancing on one foot.
Shells sucked in a breath. “Absol’s back?”
Felix nodded as Shells hopped to the floor. I sat up at the bench and started after them. “Who’s Absol?”
Shells paused and looked back at me. “Absol is one of Flen’s more… unique Pokemon. He’s able to sense disasters, serious ones, so Flen lets him wander around and warn trainers of problems when he can. If he came back here, it probably means something bad is going to happen here.” Shells looked back at Felix. “Did Flen say what to do with Opal and Growlithe?”
Felix nodded. “Tammy’s going to stay behind to lock down the gym. She’ll take care of them until school finishes, then finish locking everything up.”
“Okay. Opal, try and stay close to Tammy until Sara shows up. If Absol is here because something bad is happening, she’ll be able to keep an eye out for you.” Shells started off in a sprint and Felix followed along beside. “Come on, let’s go.”
I followed after them to find the arena empty. Only Tammy and Perry stood in the center, and Perry called his Pokemon back to their PokeBalls as soon as they reached him. Growlithe sat on the bleachers and watched as I ran over to Tammy. “Hi again, Opal. Sara and John should be here in about half an hour, and I’m going to lock up what I can until then. Come on, let’s go.”
Tammy went from room to room, latching windows shut and locking back doors. Growlithe and I followed along and tried not to get in the way. I felt pretty useless, but I enjoyed the jogging back and forth. Finally we heard the sound of the front doors sliding open and John calling out. “Hello? Is anybody here?” A few seconds passed until I heard Sara. “Opal, are you here?”
I ran from the side room we were in back to the arena, finding the two of them looking around in confusion. I barked at them and ran to Sara, who reached down and picked me up. “Hi Opal! Where is everybody?”
“Tammy’s this way, she can explain for you.” Even that seemed to be too much for Sara to understand, and she looked at me in confusion. I hopped back to the ground and headed towards the office, pausing on the way there to make sure they were following me.
“I guess he wants us to follow him.” John started walking after me, and Sara followed after.
Tammy paused from latching the windows to greet Sara and John, then started explaining everything to them. “We haven’t heard anything more from Flen, but we’re assuming something bad is about to happen, just in case. The gym’s closing down, probably for a few days just to be safe, so you need to go straight home. Keep your Pokemon with you just in case something happens; we’ll call you if anything comes up or changes.” Tammy pushed down on the latch until it clicked. “Oh, I almost forgot- John, I need to speak with you first. Sara, will you be okay?”
Sara nodded, and we left the gym together, walking home. She was confused about what was happening, but I didn’t have any answers (and since Clara wasn’t there to translate for me, Sara didn’t seem able to understand me anyways), so she ended up talking about school instead. We walked quickly and soon ended up back at home to find Sara’s mother waiting for us at the door.
“Sara! Tammy just called with a message for us; the gym said you were on the way home. We’re supposed to lock up and get ready for some sort of disaster?”
Sara nodded as we walked into the house. “I don’t really know anything more than that. The gym was deserted when I got there except for Tammy and Opal; they were locking everything up. She said all the trainers had to go somewhere and that I should head home.”
“That’s really odd of them, but Flen wouldn’t do something like this just for no reason. She didn’t say anything else?”
“No. Well, she said they were with Absol, but I’m not sure what that is. I think it’s the name of one of his Pokemon.”
“Hrm.” The three of us walked inside. “Well, I guess you get a day off today. Go upstairs and work on your homework; I’ll make you a snack.”
The rest of the day passed like normal, though the sky seemed gloomy and darker than normal while Sara and I played outside. That got cut short too- Sara’s dad came home and decided we should stay inside just in case. I tried to tell Sara what Shells had told me about the Absol, but she didn’t understand enough of what I said and just kept telling me everything would be okay until I finally gave up. The family played a board game for a while, which was a little interesting to watch, but otherwise nothing much happened. There was a sense of tension and expectation even though nothing was tangibly different. We were all waiting for something to happen, but it never did. Sara finally went to sleep, but I stayed up longer, perched on the windowsill looking out. If a disaster was going to come after us, I wanted to do what I could to stop it, or at least protect us… but eventually exhaustion got to me, and I fell asleep on the windowsill.
Clara stood at the entrance of the cave, eyes darting back and forth. Anything more than ten feet beyond her was hazy, as if looking through water, and had taken on a shade of purple. She twitched, and a ripple went through the light screen, something getting blocked by her shield. She squinted, trying to see through the darkness, trying to make out what was attacking her… but her eyes saw nothing but the darkness of the night.
A moment passed, and then a rock flew towards here. It flew through the light screen, then stopped suddenly, and bounced back out into the night, reflected by her second screen, held in place to stop physical attacks. Clara gritted her teeth, annoyed. This had been happening for hours, and she was tired- there was no sunlight to energize her, and she longed desperately for sleep… but she knew that if she faltered, whatever was out there would get in and attack Flen and the wounded Absol.
Thinking of Flen brought her thoughts back on the task at hand, and she concentrated more on her barriers, gritting her teeth. Nothing happened for a while… then she felt something, a wave of terror and pain, a cry for help from someone she knew. She blinked, and saw a vision, a sight through someone else’s eyes- a watery veil covered everything, and it was hailing, but Clara recognized the inside of the gym from beneath the water. Parts of it were on fire, and one side of it seemed to have collapsed already. Clara could make out Tammy nearby, shouting something, horrible cuts and gashes visible over her face and arms.
The vision wavered for a second before growing clearer, and a Houndoom appeared in the vision, a horrible grin on its face, flames licking the air around it. The vision wavered again, and a stream of water shot out towards the Houndoom… but the Pokemon jumped away at the last second, dodging the attack. The Houndoom threw back its head in a laugh, but there was no sound in the vision. The Houndoom looked behind him and said something… then there was a sharp impact and the vision faded.
Clara blinked, her concentration shattered, and the barriers wavered. She recovered in an instant and the barriers shot back up as soon as they fell, but it was enough- a tiny pebble shot through the entrance, shooting so fast it looked like a shooting star, hitting Clara’s shoulder with a thwack. The attack hurt, and Clara collapsed to the ground, but the barriers stayed up this time. She gritted her teeth against the pain, and looked behind her.
“Flen… there’s a problem at the gym.”
Chapter 6: Opal's Story- Chapter 6
Sara and Opal help the other trainers deal with a wild Pokemon attack.
I woke up to a sudden impact, and as I looked around I discovered I had fallen off the bed. There was a knocking sound on the door, and Sara had pulled the covers off the bed trying to get up to answer it. I growled and shook my head, finally managing to crawl out from beneath the blanket, while Sara opened the door. Her father was standing in the hallway, pulling on a coat. “Sara, get ready; you need to head to the gym. Perry should meet you there- school’s cancelled; your mom’s already on the way to the PokeCenter, but I need to go to the police station. Perry called from the gym for you personally; they want all the trainers to check in there right away.”
Sara started grabbing things from around her room, stuffing it into a backpack. “Why? What’s going on, did something happen?”
Sara’s father froze with his arm halfway through his coat sleeve. “Something is attacking the city. It hit the gym first, and at least three other people have been attacked so far, each of them trainers, all left unconscious. The police are trying to find whatever did this, but the gym thinks it’s a Pokemon doing this; they want all the trainers somewhere together and working on this, and that includes you.”
Sara’s father finished pulling his coat on. “Whatever’s doing this has to be stopped, but you need to be careful. We’re pretty sure this is a Pokemon- the gym warned everybody, after all, so they probably know more than anybody- but that doesn’t mean you and Opal should try and stop it yourself. If you do find it, let the other trainers know and let them handle it.” Sara’s father looked at me. “I’m trusting you to take care of Sara, Opal; don’t disappoint me.”
“I need to go, I’m running late already. Stay safe.” Sara’s father left, and I heard him running down the stairs. “And lock up behind you!” After he yelled that I heard the door open and shut, and he was gone.
Sara and I looked at each other. She looked pale and scared so I bumped her leg. “Don’t worry, Sara; I won’t let anything happen to you. We need to get ready and go; it sounds like they really need us?”
Sara nodded and gave me a pat on the head. “You’re right…. I just need to grab a few more things; meet me downstairs?”
I nodded and headed into the hallway and down the stairs, remarking that Sara had seemed to understand me. There was some food waiting in the kitchen so I started eating instead of just waiting at the door. After a few minutes Sara came into the kitchen and grabbed an energy bar from one of the cabinets. She coughed, but then ate the bar in a few quick bites. “Come on Opal, let’s go.”
We left the house- Sara made sure to lock up behind her- and started walking to the gym. The city seemed eerily quiet and empty, without anybody else walking by or any cars in the street. The only noise was the sound of the soothe bell ringing on my collar, and it calmed me a lot in the otherwise tense environment. Sara seemed to enjoy the sound too; she kept looking down at me randomly and smiling. I stayed alert for anything else, but the few noises I heard turned out to be false alarms. Eventually we turned the last corner and saw the square where the gym used to be.
What was left of the gym couldn’t be described as a gym anymore, and we both froze at the sight of it. The left side of it had collapsed into a pile of rubble, and the right side of it looked like it was just waiting for an excuse to collapse. There were scorch marks randomly visible throughout the wreckage, and I saw Shells spraying water onto parts of the rubble that were still smoking. Perry and two other trainers were standing near the entrance, but the doors were lying shattered on the ground, and shards of glass covered the entire area- I didn’t relish the thought of walking through that, but Perry saw us and waved. I started to carefully pick my way through the scattered glass, but Sara just ran to the group, her shoes protecting her feet from the sharp edges.
“What happened here? Is everybody okay?”
Perry shook his head. “We’re not entirely sure what happened; we just arrived about half an hour ago, and most of what we have are just guesses. Most of the damage seems to have been caused by Tammy's Clamperl- they stayed here overnight, and called us for help about four hours ago. The call was garbled, but we thought they were being attacked; Flen stayed behind to take care of Absol- it’s still too hurt to move- but the rest of us came back here. By the time we got here the gym was... well, like this, and Tammy and Clamperl were unconscious. Tammy’s at the hospital now, and the doctors are taking care of her, but there’s no way of knowing what happened until she wakes up, and her Clamperl is in even worse shape at the PokeCenter. Shells has been putting out the fires, and Alleen’s Spinarak is searching in case something was trapped underneath the rubble, but… we think whatever they were trying to fight off got away.”
I stopped walking at that and looked up at Perry mid-stride. The Clamperl had taken down the whole gym? It seemed like the water Pokemon would have trouble even moving around the gym, much less destroying it.
Sara seemed as skeptical as I was. “The Clamperl did this? There’s no way; he’s barely even the size of Opal!”
Perry grinned, a surprising expression in the middle of all the destruction. “Yeah, that little guy packs a serious punch. Don’t judge Pokemon just by their size; the small ones can be just as strong as the giants, in their own way.” Perry walked closer to the rubble, pointing at parts of it. “None of the other attacks in the city have had the doors blown off like that. Whatever we’re dealing with doesn’t need an opening to get in- its like walls don’t even exist to it. The rubble all spreads outwards from the gym; not into it, like you would see if something was trying to break in. The fighting didn’t start until whatever it was got inside. We know from the fires and scorch marks that we’re dealing with some sort of fire Pokemon, but there weren’t any fires or scorch marks where the gym collapsed inwards- our best guess is that during the fight, one of Clamperl’s attacks damaged the walls too badly, and it collapsed. After that it must’ve just gone downhill from there- some of those shards are ice, not glass; Tammy taught Clamperl how to start a hailstorm, if it gets really desperate.”
Sara gulped at the description of the Clamperl’s abilities, and I knew what she was thinking. If a fire Pokemon took Tammy down, with such a strong Pokemon, how could we hope to do anything to it?
Some of the rubble shifted, and the Spinarak- I remembered from somewhere that its name was Taran- popped out, shaking loose dirt off as it did. “There’s nothing else down there but more rubble- it looks like it was just Tammy; there’s nobody else trapped underneath.”
The other lady- Perry had said her name was Alleen- sighed, and turned to face us. “Well, it was worth a shot; we’re still right were we started, with no idea what we’re dealing with.”
“We at least know it’s a fire Pokemon! Well, one of them is anyways; Flen said there were at least two of them.”
Alleen glared at Perry. “Will you stop enjoying this so much? This is serious; people are getting hurt, maybe even dying.”
Perry sobered, his grin vanishing. “You’re right. Sara, we’ve got the other trainers searching the town, but they haven’t found anything yet. We want you to stay here with us and help clean up the glass- the town is too dangerous right now to send you into- but… we wanted to ask you to have Opal take a message to Flen.”
Sara looked from Perry to me, then back to Perry. “What do you mean, take Flen a message? Can’t you just call him?”
Alleen shook her head. “We can’t get through- Clara put up a barrier of some kind just in case something came back for Absol, since he’s still too hurt to move. As soon as the sun came up, whatever Clara was doing got a lot stronger, and we can’t even complete a call to him, much less actually tell him anything.”
Perry nodded. “Clara should recognize Opal, though, and let him through her barrier. Whatever’s out there is still in here, attacking people in Jyrrian City, so there’s not really any need to protect the cave, and we need Flen here, if we’re going to have a chance at stopping whatever’s doing this.”
“But… it’s too dangerous; that thing could attack him!”
“We wouldn’t ask if we thought that could happen. There’s a path from the gym to the cave, so he won’t have to go through the city, and we know the creature’s still here- there’s a new attack every half hour, like clockwork. The woods are the safest place for anybody right now- if we didn’t need them here, and I thought they could make the run, I would send Shells myself, but it’s too far for Shells to run, and we need him here in case there are any more fires.”
I shot Shells a glance at that comment. “What? As much as you run around the gym, you can’t run up to a cave?”
Shells stamped on a piece of wood that was still glowing red. “Hey, there’s a reason I do it for exercise, and why I stop when I do. These legs are made for swimming, not running, and this shell is heavier than it looks. Taran has eight legs, sure, but they’re all intended for climbing, not running; she would have to spend half the day resting before she made it to the cave. If Feren was here we’d send him, but with just the three of us… well, Eevees are built for running; you’re the best choice to send a message.”
I snorted, but decided to keep that in mind, in case I ever had to fight Shells or some other Wartortle one day. “If I go, you both have to keep Sara safe, alright?”
Shells and Taran both nodded. “We won’t let anything happen to her, don’t worry.”
I looked up at Sara and Perry, and wagged my tail. “I’ll go- what do we need to tell Flen?”
Sara looked down at me for a moment, and I could tell she was worried about me, but after a moment she coughed, then looked back up at Perry and repeated my question. She seemed to understand me more and more with each passing day… but I was starting to worry about the coughing.
Perry reached into his backpack and pulled out a sheet of paper, which he rolled up and handed to Sara. “We’ve already written a note for him which will bring him up to speed; Opal just needs to get it there.” Perry pointed behind the gym, to where two trees poked over what was left of the roof. “The path starts between those two trees; if he follows it, he should get to Flen in about two hours.”
Sara knelt down and tucked the note into my collar, so that it rested securely alongside my neck. “You be careful, okay? Get Flen, and then come right back; I don’t want to worry about you.”
I nodded, and gave her a lick on the nose. “I’ll be fine, and back before you know it! Bye everybody!” With that I started hopping back through the glass shards, and broke into a run when I reached clear ground. I found the path between the two trees with no trouble, and was soon deep in the forest.
I tried not to think- I knew if I did, I would start to worry about whatever was out there going back to the gym, and attacking Sara. Instead, I just focused on the run, enjoying it while I could. After the scared quiet of the city, the random sounds of the forest were a welcome change. Branches snapping, birds chirping, wind rustling through the trees… it was almost as calming as the bell jingling on my collar.
So it came as a complete shock when I heard the crashing noise, and a tree fell in front of me.
“Opal, get down, NOW.” Clara’s ‘voice’ sounded different- the melodious quality I enjoyed about it was gone, instead replaced by a harsh sense of anger. Her voice scared me, and I dropped to the ground without even thinking about it, tripping a little from trying to stop so suddenly. The trip probably saved my life- and definitely saved the note I was carrying- as a stream of flame poured through the path right in front of me. If I hadn’t fallen, it would have hit me full on in my side- and the heat from being so near the stream made me more than glad I hadn’t been hit.
Clara just appeared at my side suddenly, and the world around me gained a purple tint. “Don’t move, you’re safe right now. What are you even doing out here; Flen sent everybody back to the city!”
I started to answer, when another bout of flame shot out from the forest. I flinched, starting to jump out of the way, but Clara was faster and knocked me back down to the ground. The flames stopped just a few inches away from me, star-bursting outwards as if it had hit an invisible wall. The flames vanished, and something growled from beyond the tree line. I turned to Clara, and talked fast. “Perry said Flen needs to come back to the city; something attacked the gym and it’s been attacking other people. Probably whatever’s attacking us now!”
Clara shook her head. “Flen’s not with me, but he’s already on his way back to town; Absol just got stable enough that Nurse Joy said we could move him, but they’re split up about five minutes behind me. I’ve been trying to keep this thing distracted so they could get Absol through!”
As Clara finished talking, a creature stepped out from the tree line and into view. The forest seemed to get darker and I flinched at the sight. The creature facing us looked like something straight out of a nightmare- its fur was jet black with an orange underbelly, and an arrowhead tail slashed through the air behind it. Its back and ankles seemed covered by stark white bones, and a pair of equally white horns jutted from its head, curving up and over its neck. Steam seemed to rise from every part of its body, and it glared at us with red-orange eyes.
Clara hissed and whipped her tail through the air behind us. “This could get ugly.”
I gulped, remembering the gym. “It attacked Tammy; the Clamperl tried fending it off but they lost. The fight destroyed the gym; Perry and Alleen are with Sara, picking through the rubble.”
Clara blinked and looked at me. “You mean… it beat Tammy?”
Clara suddenly seemed scared- Clamperl must have been really strong. “Yeah. It must have been a big fight; there isn’t much left of the gym.”
Clara looked back at the Houndoom, and I could tell she was trying to think fast. “Can you run? There’s a clearing about a five minute run through the woods ahead of us; I can try and hold it off there until Flen catches up.”
I nodded. “Got it.”
“Okay… go!” Clara and I both turned and ran at the same time, and the purple tint vanished, but the Houndoom wasted no time chasing after us. The next few minutes were some of the scariest of my life- the Houndoom sounded like it was right behind me, and I was scared I would trip over or flinch at every branch or bush along the way. Clara was right beside me, hopping over or ducking over whatever was in the way to keep pace besides me. After a minute or two I realized I was enjoying running next to her, despite the Houndoom being behind me. I looked to her to grin... and that was when I realized that Clara wasn’t holding back to stay next to and protect me- she was really running as fast as she can, but that something was wrong with her. Every now and then she would half limp on a step, and in her expression I saw a grimace of pain. I gulped and focused on running, realizing again how serious the situation was.
The clearing came upon us suddenly, the trees giving way to open air. Clara skidded to a stop and turned back the way we came, the world taking on the purple tint again. I slowed to a stop, just as the Houndoom broke through the trees and leaped over me.
The Houndoom landed on its feet and turned with a snarl, then leapt at me, flames licking the air around his mouth. I ducked, sure things were about to hurt badly, but just before the Houndoom landed a tree flew past me and hit him, sending him flying. Without rising I turned my head behind me to look- then tilted my head farther up to look- and what I saw scared me almost as much as the Houndoom.
Clara was perched on a large rock near another edge of the clearing, in a posture that just shouted anger and raw power. Her whiskers were twitching in a surprisingly menacing fashion, and her ears were flattened against her skull. Her normally pristine fur was rippling, rising and falling in waves along her body. Her forked tail whipped through the air, as if she expected the Houndoom to come flying at her and she could simply whack it away with her tail. The rock she was on was glowing purple, and I could feel her anger pulsing outwards from where I lay on the ground.
Oh- and the rock was glowing purple as it floated at about twice Clara’s height off the ground.
The Houndoom recovered quickly- while I was staring at Clara, the flying tree had rammed into another tree and crashed to the forest floor, squishing the Houndoom between them. It didn’t seem to bother the creature much- both trees began smoking before bursting into flames, incinerated into piles of ash in only a matter of seconds. When the smoke cloud cleared the Houndoom was standing amidst the ashes, malice clearly visible in its eyes. It snarled and paced in a circle around the clearing, focused on Clara. Clara responded with her own growl- a physical sound, a high pitched “Esss” that made my fur stand on end. I got to my feet and shook off, glancing back and forth between Clara and the Houndoom. I knew the Houndoom was about to attack Clara, so I glared at the Houndoom and set myself back in an attack posture, letting out my own growl. The Houndoom stopped and looked back at me, as if he’d forgotten I was still there, and let out a short bark of a laugh.
Clara’s voice resounded in my head, a bit of the melody back in the ‘sound’. “Opal, get out of here; you can’t help here. Head east to find Flen, and bring him back here- and hurry! I’m going to need his help here.”
I nodded and told her yes, a quick “Vee!”, then ran past her as fast as I could. The last thing I saw before I left the clearing was Clara jumping off the rock, and the rock flying towards the Houndoom. There was a crash and a howl, and then I was gone- running back through the forest, away from the town and towards Clara’s trainer.
As I ran, thoughts raced through me. Clara’s appearance had scared me- I had always seen her as friendly and happy, fun. I realized that she was still being protective, and that her anger had come from seeing me being attacked, from knowing others were being attacked, but it was still a sobering realization. Flen was a gym leader, one of the best trainers in the world, and his Pokemon had been trained and prepared not just to fight, but to win. I hadn’t realized before just what that meant, but now it seemed like an obvious fact I should have known the minute I met Clara. She had ripped that tree out of the ground and thrown it at the Houndoom without any sign of fatigue or stress. The Clamperl’s strength didn’t seem at all surprising, now that I had seen a part of what Clara could do.
A “bang” noise filled the air behind me, and I ground to a halt, looking behind me. A huge wave of heat blossomed into the air from where I knew Clara and the Houndoom were fighting, reaching me even this far away from the fight. I knew it was one of the Houndoom’s attacks- the thing seemed to love using its fiery abilities and Clara had none that I knew of. I thought again about going back and trying to help somehow, but Clara’s last words echoed in my head. I realized that she wasn’t just angry, but also scared- she wasn’t just sending me out of the way, she really needed Flen’s help with the Houndoom. That scared me even more. After Clara’s displays of power, if she was scared….
I started running back towards the cave, even faster this time, a new fear pushing me onward. Time seemed to stretch- what had taken maybe five minutes before seemed to be taking hours now, and with every breath I imagined something bad happening to Clara. Finally I jumped over a low bush, and landed back on the dirt path connecting the gym and the cave. I stopped for a moment, panting, slightly exhausted from the run, and then called for Flen, a shouted “Eve!” into the forest. A moment passed while I worried, and then Flen appeared running towards me from around a curve in the path. He was alone- the nurse must have taken Absol a different way.
“Opal! What are you doing out here, you should be back in town! This is no place for you!” Flen kept running and actually grabbed me, picking me up without slowing. It was then that he noticed the note on my collar, and he slowed down to read over it. “It destroyed the gym? Oh, that does it… there’s no time to take you back; Clara said she found a Houndoom, but then she just stopped talking completely. If she’s having to concentrate that hard then she’s going to need some help real soon.” Flen had me in one arm and was still running- but I realized he was going the wrong way. Every step was taking him back towards Jyrrian City, and a little farther away from Clara.. I tried to tell him to turn around, that he needed to go through the woods, but he didn’t even seem to realize I was even talking.
Well, at least until I bit him.
He dropped me to the ground and stopped, looking more startled than anything, staring down at me. The fall to the ground had been short, and I had landed perfectly on my feet, so I looked up at him and started talking again. “Clara’s fighting the Houndoom; she sent me to get you, but you’re going the wrong way!”
“She’s fighting alone? I told her to run it around in circles, not stand and fight! Hurry, show me the way!”
I started running towards the clearing, and it was a couple of steps before I realized Flen had understood me. None of the humans understood me besides Sara, and she still had trouble. How had Flen known what I meant? I looked back, seeing Flen just a few steps behind me, and asked him. “You understand me?”
Flen laughed as we ran. “I understand enough. Clara used to be an Eevee, and you remind me enough of her for me to understand you. But come on, lead me to her!”
We finally got back to the clearing- or what was left of it. Fires smoldered, and most of the grass had been burnt away. Pebbles seemed to cover the ground, and there were massive holes where trees used to be. I had missed Clara’s fight, apparently, but there was every indication it was a big one. We had arrived just in time from the look of things- the Houndoom was biting down on one of Clara’s legs, a horrible crunch that hurt me just by seeing it, and I could feel pain roiling off of Clara. Flen seemed to feel it too- as we stepped into the clearing he flinched, pausing in his motion.
Clara’s anger had surprised me- it was something I could feel, something that had pulsed through me like a wave of heat, something uncontrollable and violent. Flen’s anger was different. Emotion drained from him and he stared at the Houndoom, cold and calculating. The Houndoom looked up, and hope surged through me- there was a flicker of fear in the Houndoom’s eyes, and I knew the beast was about to pay for what he had done to Clara.
The Houndoom let go of the Espeon and stepped away from her, crouching low and focusing on Flen. Clara tried to get back to her feet, and for a moment it looked like she was still in the fight… but then she wobbled and fell back to the ground. I cried out, and started to her, but Flen spoke calmly. “No.” The word stopped me before I really even knew what I was doing, and I looked up at him in confusion. “Stay back.” He stood there, confidence and anger filling the gym leader’s expression. I looked back at the Houndoom, wanting to do something to help Clara, but then took a deep breath and sat down, tail wrapping around my feet. I wasn’t sure what Flen was planning but… when he spoke, it was hard not to listen. Here, now, it was easy to see why he was a gym leader. I had no idea what he was thinking or how he would do it- but I knew he was going to win.
The Houndoom looked at me and gave another bark, recognizing me. “Ah, dessert came back. Nice; I was worried I’d have to chase you down. Did you bring a friend with you?” The Houndoom’s words didn’t faze me this time and I just stared back at him in silence. In a single motion, Flen pulled a Pokeball off his belt and pointed it towards Clara. At first I thought he was calling her back into her Pokeball, but the pink beam that shot out of the ball instead formed into a giant snake, coiled around Clara’s body. And by giant, I mean giant- taller than even the trees that had surrounded the clearing. The Pokemon that materialized out of the pink haze could only be described as wall- light gleamed off the metallic skin of the creature, and it seemed to have been almost sculpted into its serpentine shape. I couldn’t imagine anything getting around such a creature that it didn’t allow to.
“Hello, Houndoom- meet my Steelix,” Flen said from beside me. “Obsidian… flatten it.”
The Steelix growled, and the ground underneath me shook. The Steelix just fell- it didn’t try to aim, it didn’t try to move away from the center of the clearing- but then, it didn’t need to. The creature was simply so massive that it could hit the Houndoom wherever it was in the clearing, and that’s exactly what it did. The dirt and rocks that had been stirred up by the earlier fighting came up in a cloud as the Steelix hit the ground- and the Houndoom. The Houndoom roared in pain, and I felt sorry for it, thinking of how much the Steelix had to weigh- but then I remembered the sight of Clara earlier and pushed those thoughts away.
Even as I thought that a beam of sunlight lit up the clearing, and a hissing noise reached my ears. The light seemed aimed at the center of the Steelix’s curl, as if it was focused where Clara lay. It only lasted for a few seconds- if I blinked I would have missed it- before the clearing faded back to the normal early morning lighting. As the last of the light dimmed Clara jumped to the top of the Steelix’s coils and looked towards Flen. She was literally sparkling. Her fur shone with a purplish glow and bright spots flickered through the air around her. The marks of her earlier fight were completely gone, and her tail whipped back and forth through the air energetically. The glow faded and Clara suddenly went stiff for an instant, before jumping away from her perch on the Steelix. A pulse of fire radiated out from beneath the Steelix and I flinched, ducking closer to the ground. When I opened my eyes the Houndoom was scrambling out from beneath the Steelix’s body as the massive Pokemon flinched its head away from the fiery attack.
Clara was back in the fight now- just as the Houndoom got back to its feet, a shower of rocks flew at the Houndoom, each moving too fast to be more than a blur of white light to my eyes. They impacted with a series of sharp thwacks, and I grinned- the Houndoom stumbled back looking very hurt.
The Houndoom lay on the ground glowering at Clara before grinning... and then the clearing went dark. I blinked at the sudden blindness and steadied myself, feeling a little dizzy. I heard Clara scream- an actual sound, not her voice in my head- and the darkness vanished. The Houndoom was back on his feet and Obsidian had reared back to its full height, but Clara was lying on the ground, a patch of burning darkness seeming to cling to her fur.
“Heh, heh… I wasn’t expecting a chance to use that so soon, but I’m glad to see it was worth fighting the Clamperl for. I was surprised how many interesting moves you had, just laying around in that gym- it’s always nice to learn new tricks.”
“Dark Pulse… great, he must have gotten that from the gym.” Flen looked down at me, and I realized he hadn’t understood the Houndoom. “Opal, help Clara.” I nodded and concentrated, the Helping Hand move leaving me feeling weaker. Clara rose to her feet, and the darkness around her flickered before finally clearing. “Obsidian, Screech!”
The noise that filled the air was indescribable- it was like nothing I had heard before, and I cringed, shaking, as my ears felt like something scraped inside of them. The Houndoom seemed to hate it just as much- it shook, one of its legs faltering underneath it. For a second it looked like he was about to recover and get back up… but then a large rock slammed into him, hurtled by Clara, the attack augmented by my own power… and the fiery creature fell to the ground.
I thought it was over at that- the Houndoom was down and looked so badly hurt that I couldn’t imagine he could still move. But the Houndoom thought otherwise, and it lifted its head to glare at me. The clearing went dark again in the start of the Houndoom’s Dark Pulse... but this time instead of just feeling dizzy, pain exploded in my head, and I felt a burning sensation cover me. Then everything hurt. My fur felt like it was on fire and my body felt crushed by a heavy weight, and I fell writhing to the ground, overwhelmed by the pain. After a few seconds the darkness lifted a little, but I could still barely see anything; only making vague shapes and shadows. My head was stabbed with inconceivable pain, a terrible pounding I couldn’t stand, and I was sure my left foreleg was still on fire.
I felt that way for what seemed an eternity. I remember hearing various thuds and shouts, another terrible screech, and then a pair of clicks and whooshes along with a lifting sensation... and then only the sound of the wind. My whole body hurt- a terrible pain that just wouldn’t stop- but after what seemed forever, I finally heard Sara’s voice. My heart lept at the sound- I was too confused to understand what she said, but just hearing her made me feel better. My trainer was here; she would take of me, things were going to be alright, I was safe again... I heard another click and a whoosh… then, finally, the pain stopped.
The next thing I was aware of was a beep. There was a pause of silence, then another beep, followed by more silence. This continued, and gradually I grew more and more aware. My ears hurt- a dull throbbing ache- then my head, and the pain continued to grow until I could feel everything again. More time passed until I realized I could move again. I opened my eyes… or I tried to, rather. They felt like they were open, but I still couldn’t see anything- just more blackness. I tried to call for Sara, but all that came out was a soft “Veeee”.
Clara’s voice was the next thing I heard. “Shhh, shhh… Don’t try to move; you’re safe now. You’re in a Pokemon center- you’ve been badly hurt, and you need to rest.”
I tried not to move but it was hard not to. The sporadic beep would urge me to swivel my ears to hear it better, and the pain in my head demanded I try and stop it somehow. But each movement hurt more than staying still, so I tried my best not to move. “What happened? Is everybody okay?” My voice sounded quiet even to me, and I wasn’t sure at first that Clara had heard me. I started to try again, but this time my mouth wouldn’t open at all.
“Opal, stop it. You need to stay still, or you’ll hurt yourself worse. Just think about what you want to ask, and I’ll hear you. We’re all okay now- Obsidian was able to seriously hurt the Houndoom. It got away, but just barely. I don’t think it’ll ever come back here after the beating it’s been through. You and I were hurt pretty badly in the fighting; we’re both at the PokeCenter. Absol and Tammy’s Clamperl are here, too. We’ve been here a while- but there haven’t been anymore attacks in the town. We chased them away.”
I tried to speak, but my mouth still wouldn’t move, so I just pretended like I was talking instead. “Is Sara mad at me? I told her I’d come right back, and not get hurt…”
“Nobody’s mad at you, Opal; Sara couldn’t be prouder. She was worried, yes, but you were crucial in helping protect the town- if you hadn’t come looking for us, the Houndoom probably would still be out there, waiting to attack again. And if you hadn’t brought Flen back when you did… it wouldn’t have been pretty.”
I cringed at that thought, and the movement sent more pain through me. I gasped… and then the pain vanished. I sat there in surprise at the sudden complete absence of pain, unsure what had happened.
“No more of that for you, Opal. Don’t move- you are still badly hurt, so it isn’t safe to move about… but you’re in a Pokemon Center now, and you’re going to get better. There’s no sense in you feeling all that pain for no reason. You did a good job today, and your trainer is really happy with you. Don’t worry anymore... just get some rest.”
I tried to answer back, but it was just too hard to think. My last thought was that Clara must have done something to take away the pain… but even forming that thought was draining, and after that I drifted off into a dreamless, peaceful sleep...
Tule sat on the windowsill, looking down at the clean floor. Opal was really hurt and everybody at the gym was upset- even having only known him for a few days, his well being had become quite the concern for the Pokemon, when they learned he was hurt. From time to time Clara would come by- she was better, having fully recovered after about an hour in the sunlight- but she had to leave before long, being needed to help rebuild the gym. Everybody was trying hard to help fix the gym, but it was going to take a lot of work before it would be safe again. Tule had spent the entire day trying to help, but there was little she could do, and it had just gotten embarrassing after a while. She had broken up some of the rubble to help clear it, but even that had taken a lot of effort and quickly tired her. She had kept trying to be useful, but it was clear to everybody that she was only getting in the way. Finally Perry had drawn her aside and asked her to go keep an eye on Opal, and she had been there ever since- the nurse had let her in and she had taken up the spot on the windowsill to watch him.
It was mostly just boring - the machines beeped rhythmically, but other than that there was nothing to hear. Moonlight filtered in through the window, but inside the only thing to look at was… Opal.
He wasn’t a pretty sight, and looking at him made Tule glad the Eevee was unconscious. He had a good coat of fur, but bruises could still be seen wherever his fur was parted. His left leg was in a cast, held immobile, and the area around his right eye had turned purple. The nurses had put a needle in his right leg, and a tube was pumping some kind of fluid into him. His tail hung limp, and he lay on his left side, his breathing shallow.
It wasn’t a happy sight. It depressed Tule, and she wished more than anything that he was better, that she didn’t have to look up and see him lying like that… so instead, she looked down at the floor, just hoping he would wake up and wishing he would be better.
Dawn broke, sunlight slowly streaming into the room from the window behind her, and Tule had an irrational hope that maybe that would be enough, and that when the rays reached Opal he would wake up... but as the warm sunlight crept passed him, nothing changed. The beeping, his breathing, everything was the same, and it was getting to be too much for her. She was about to hop down from the windowsill, to do… something else, anything else- but before she could, the door opened and Clara walked in, her split tail waving behind her.
The Espeon hopped up into a chair, curling up so she could look at the monitors. For a moment Tule thought she had gone unnoticed, and she thought about sneaking away… but then Clara’s ‘voice’ reached her. “He didn’t move at all, did he?”
Tule was surprised for a moment, but then she recovered, hopping down to the floor. “Not once… he just lay there all night.”
“It’ll be a while still, I think. He was hurt bad out there.”
Tule stared up at the Espeon, wondering. “Why did he do it?”
Clara looked at the Oddish, her expression curious. “Hrm? Do what?”
“Go out there like that? Even though he knew he could be hurt?”
Clara sat up and looked back towards the sleeping Eevee. “Well… he thought he would be fine, actually. But… even if he had known, I think he’d still have done what he did.”
“Why?” Tule looked towards the table, only seeing the wires leading up to it.
“Because one of us might have been hurt if he didn’t. He knew Shells would have tried to go instead, and would have had trouble trying to run that far, and might not have gotten there in time to help Flen… and he knew that until Flen made it back, Sara and the rest of the city would be in danger... and then when he bumped into me he knew I was out there with the same thing that was hurting people and that had helped destroy the gym. He knew all that on some level when he left, even if he didn’t realize his reasons right away. He’s like that deep down- he wants everybody to be safe. Even when he fights, he doesn’t want to hurt anybody, not really. He actually felt bad for the Houndoom a little, when we were fighting it, despite knowing all the pain it had caused.”
Tule was quiet, thinking, before finally asking. “Is that why you fight? To keep Flen safe?”
Clara shook her head. “No… no, that’s not why Espeons fight, not really. I want to make Flen happy, and proud of me, and of himself; I worry that he’s happy more than I worry about him being safe. I mean, I do want him to be safe, but... it always makes him a little happier when we win a fight, and I like seeing that in him more than anything. Protecting others... just being happy knowing that your friends are safe because of you… that’s a different type of Eevee altogether. In that sense we’re as different as night and day.” Clara finished softly and was silent for a moment, and Tule felt too nervous to ask what Clara meant. “I think you should head back to Perry, Tule. He’ll start to get worried if you’re gone too much longer. I’ll keep an eye on Opal for now, until Sara can be here.”
Tule nodded and turned to leave, not wanting to argue with the intimidating Espeon, even if she seemed a little less scary at the moment. “Okay.”
Before Tule got to the door Clara spoke up again. “Tule?”
The Oddish stopped and half turned to look behind her. “Yes?”
“Thank you for staying with him. Will you stay here again tonight, please? I think… he’d like having somebody here with him at night.”
Tule smiled and nodded. She turned to leave, each leaf standing high above her.
Finally alone with the friend who had been so badly hurt while trying to help her, the Espeon lay down her head to cry.
Chapter 7: Opal's Story- Chapter 7
Opal recovers and returns home with Sara.
When I woke up, the first thing I felt was soft warmth surrounding me. It wasn’t oppressive or stifling, but… comfortable, like I was sleeping next to Sara or sitting on the couch after someone had just gotten up from it. My body hurt, but it was more a dull soreness than what I had felt before. I opened my eyes and felt relieved to find I could see again. At first everything was just a blur, but after a few blinks the room gradually came into focus. While I waited for my eyes to adjust, I listened, hearing the same beeping noise from before as well as the sound of slow breathing. Somebody was asleep in the room with me. The breathing reminded me of Sara sleeping, but it seemed a little bit off somehow.
My eyes finally adjusted and I lifted my head slowly, my neck stiff and sore, to see where I was. It was a small white room, maybe a little wider than one of the halls in Sara’s house, and I was lying on top of a cushioned table. There was a counter along one side of the room with a row of cabinets above it, with one of them left slightly open, though angled so that I couldn’t see what was inside. There were a few things on top of the counter- a box of tissues, a bottle half full of some liquid, and a few metallic items I didn’t recognize. The beeping caught my attention again and I followed the counter to its end, where some sort of flat machine was making the noise. The front of it was dull green, and a yellow line moved across the center of it, jumping up and down whenever the machine beeped. I watched it for a moment and tried to figure out what the line or the beeping was for, but eventually I gave up. A wire was running out of the machine, and I followed it down, noticing for the first time that it was attached to me. The wire split into four parts, and though I couldn’t figure out where two of them ended- they ran somewhere out of my view, onto my forehead- I saw that the other two ended in round pieces that were taped to my side. I stared at them for a bit in confusion. They didn’t hurt or anything, but I felt that they should bother me somehow. I thought about trying to pull them off, but before I could decide the slow breathing drew my attention again. I turned and looked on my other side, smiling happily when I saw Sara sitting next to me in a chair. She was curled up to one side, sleeping in what I thought couldn’t be a very comfortable position. She seemed to be a little paler than usual, but it looked to be more a trick of the light in this strange room.
I stood up to go to her, but when I got to my feet I wobbled and almost fell back down. My feet didn’t feel right. They didn’t hurt but they had a definite ‘wrongness’ about them. I looked down at them and found they had been wrapped in some sort of white material, like the rags Sara’s mother would use to clean up spills. It was odd to see something so white where my normally brown fur should be, and the extra mass was throwing my balance off a little. I stood back up, slower this time, taking time to get used to the awkward bulk. “Sara?”
I tried to speak loudly enough to wake her, but my throat was sore and it only came out as a raspy “Eve”. But it turned out to be enough- Sara stirred in the chair and let out a yawn as she stretched her arms. She opened her eyes and blinked a few times before jumping to her feet and rushing over to me. “Opal, you’re awake! Are you okay?” She took a step towards the table and gently picked me up, holding me tight in her arms. I was worried for a brief instant- but it didn’t hurt at all.
“I’m fine… just a little sore.”
Sara smiled, then set me back on the table and rubbed my ears. “You did a brave thing back there, but you were badly hurt when Flen carried you back. The nurse here did what she could, but they said you were in a lot of pain, even when you were sleeping.”
I tried to think, but I couldn’t remember being in pain while I was sleeping- just the fuzzy memory of when I was awake and talked with Clara. “It wasn’t that bad… we were all hurt, except maybe for the Steelix. Clara said we beat it, though… we did beat it, right? It isn’t hurting anybody else?”
Sara nodded. “You beat it… it got away, but Flen said it was hurt at least as bad as you were. He’s pretty sure that it won’t come back here again. It looks like you did it- Tammy’s still in the hospital, but she’s awake now; everything’s about back to normal.”
There was a click, and then the door opened. A lady walked in, followed by a Blissey- a pink, egg shaped Pokemon. They were both wearing nurse hats, and the lady waved to Sara. “Can I talk with you outside for just a moment? We just need to go over a few things, and then we can let you come see him again.”
Sara nodded. “I’ll be right back, Opal; they’re just going to help you get better.” She gave me another soft pat on the head before leaving, shutting the doors behind her. I thought I heard a cough from outside a moment later, but the Blissey didn’t seem to notice or mind.
After Sara left the Blissey walked up to me and handed me what looked like a white piece of bread. I chewed on it and it dissolved almost instantly in my mouth, leaving behind a sweet flavor. Almost immediately after that the remaining soreness vanished.
“Are you feeling okay, Opal? Flen said you were hit by a Dark Pulse, and a powerful one at that; that can be hard to recover from.”
I gave a slight nod, and the Blissey started pulling the bandages off of my legs to poke at the paws underneath. “I feel a lot better. Clara got hit by it, too; is she okay?”
The Blissey smiled. “Clara’s fine- she’s a lot tougher than she looks, and she’s learned how to heal herself. She was fine after just about an hour of rest in the sunlight, and she’s helping Flen at the gym now.”
The nurse Pokemon removed the last bandage and picked up one of my legs, feeling around it. “Let me know if anything hurts?”
I waited, but I didn’t feel any pain from the Blissey’s prodding- just a sense of soreness in some places. The Pokemon checked my other legs and a few spots on my back with the same results. She pricked one of my paws, which did hurt, and when I said so she smiled happily. “Sorry, I was just making sure! Clara said she did something so you wouldn’t feel the pain, and I just had to be sure you weren’t actually still hurting and just didn’t know it. It looks like you’re much better now though! Even if you might not be back to 100% you should be fine to go back home with Sara now. But you might want to go by the gym first; a lot of Pokemon have been coming by to check on you, and they’ll probably want to know you’re better. A nice little Oddish left just a bit ago, actually.”
I blinked at the Blissey. “They were worried about me?”
“Uh-huh! Well, they were checking on all three of you- there’s a Clamperl and an Absol here, too- but they all seemed especially concerned with you. You’ve made a lot of friends here, Opal.”
The Blissey waddled to the door and opened it, saying a few words into the hallway beyond, and then Sara walked back in. She was holding my collar and bell, and it was only then that I realized I wasn’t wearing it anymore. I cringed, worried I had lost it somewhere in the fighting, but Sara just smiled. “You’ll probably want this back- we had to take it off while the doctors were working with you, but the nurse says you’re better now and can wear it again. Are you ready to go back home?”
I nodded and rose to my feet. The weird feeling had left with the bandages, and I had no problems moving again.
A nurse walked in behind Sara and began cleaning up the bandages left on the table. “You should have him take it a little easy for a while; even if he doesn’t realize it he’s probably still a little stiff from being inactive so long. It would be best not to push him for a day or two, just in case.”
Sara nodded to the nurse and picked me up, holding me on her arm. “You probably don’t want to go back into your Pokeball, do you?”
I shook my head- the Pokeball was nice and all, but I wanted to spend some time with Sara instead. I was still a little worried about how she felt about my getting involved in the fight, and I was glad to see her again. “Not really.”
Sara laughed and scratched my head. “That’s fine; I’ll just carry you back home.”
“Can we go by the gym first? I want to let everybody know I’m okay; Blissey said they were worried about me.”
Sara frowned at that. “Well… I guess we can, but I don’t want to get caught helping out, since the nurse just told us you should take it easy. There’s a lot of work going on at the gym- cleaning up and getting ready to rebuild- so we shouldn’t stay long. But it’s near the way home, so it shouldn’t hurt to stop by for just a little.”
Sara carried me out of the PokeCenter after signing a few forms. As we walked, she told me I did a great job, but that I should have tried a little harder to stay out of sight once Flen got involved. She seemed able to understand me pretty well now, which surprised me since Clara wasn’t around, but I wasn’t sure what to say about it. She didn’t seem mad with me- she seemed a little proud, actually- but I could tell she had been really worried. She coughed a few times as we walked, and I started to get worried about it… but before I thought enough to say something, we were on the road to the gym.
We came around the last curve before the gym, but it was barricaded off, a concrete block standing in the way. Feren was sitting on the block, and he let out a sharp “Nid!” as we walked up to it. He hopped off the block and out of view, but a moment later he jumped back up, followed by every other Pokemon I had met at the gym. Shells, Tule, Felix, a Cubone, a Nidorina and a Spinarak all crowded onto the block, shouting and waving. I wagged my tail and tried answering all of them, but there were just so many Pokemon talking at once that I wasn’t even sure what was being asked. The sky cleared a little and the sun shown when Clara hopped onto the block, and I felt an odd feeling run through me… but then a shadow fell over us, and the feeling vanished as Obsidian came to say hi, too.
We talked for maybe fifteen minutes while I reassured everybody that I was okay and listened to them tell me how foolish it was for me to get in a fight with a Houndoom. Eventually Perry appeared on the other side of the block, a smile on his face. “What are you all doing here, we’ve still got work to do! Opal needs to rest, remember?”
The gathered Pokemon all said there goodbyes, then trickled back towards the gym, Clara the last one to leave. Perry smiled at Sara and waved as he walked closer. “Sorry about that, but we really need them to keep working right now. We think it’s going to start raining later, and we’re hoping to get most of the trash and hazards cleared before the rain washes it who knows were. It’s going to be months before we can fix this as it is. We’re all really glad to know Opal’s okay though! When he’s rested, you should both come by and help; it’d be great training, and it would make everybody a little happier to see him back on his feet again.”
Sara nodded, and started to say something, but was interrupted with coughing instead. When she recovered she nodded at Perry and waved at a Cubone that was still peeking at us from around the corner. “Sorry… I’ll be sure to bring him, once he’s better.”
Sara waved goodbye to Perry and we left, heading back to her home. The sky was cloudy the whole way home, giving the city a sleepy and quiet feel, as if the sun was just too tired to shine. When we made it home Sara got some food and I ate, finding myself very hungry. We watched television with Sara’s parents for a little after that, but I soon found I was tired again, and I walked up to Sara’s room to curl up on one of her pillows. I heard Sara cough downstairs, and remembered she had coughed a few times while we were at the gym and seemed a little out of breath on the walk home. I decided to ask her about it when she came upstairs... but the pillow felt so soft, and I soon found myself drifting back to sleep…
I woke with a start at the sound of shattering glass. I climbed to my feet and looked towards the noise, towards the now shattered window, but before I could do anything else something slammed into me and threw me off the bed. I hit the opposite wall hard and slid down to the floor, stunned by the impact. My vision was a confused blur, and I shook my head to clear it while I staggered back to my feet. I limped away from the wall and turned back to the bed, trying to figure out what was going on. Sara was coughing and flailing, her eyes shut and her arms waving about wildly… and a dark bird was hovering over her, flapping madly, its beak open in a screeching “Krow!” It looked a bit like the Murkrows from the petstore, but noticeably different- larger and fatter. Realizing that Sara was in danger- and from one of the same birds that had tormented me so much back in the pet store, no less- I jumped back onto the bed and tackled the bird in one quick movement. The attack took the bird by surprise, and it offered much less resistance than I had expected- the attack threw the Dark Pokemon back out the window, and my own momentum carried me after it. I only barely caught myself at the edge of the windowsill, fumbling amid glass shards to keep my balance. Once my footing was secured I leaned out to look for the attacker. I could tell that it was late at night, and a storm cloud was slightly obscuring the moon, so I could only barely make out the outline of my opponent. The dark bird was hovering just over a tree limb, glaring down at me.
The bird screamed a horrible “Honchhh,” and flew back towards me again. I braced myself, getting ready to stop its attack and hold it outside of the room… but Sara’s dad, alerted by all the racket, picked that exact moment to open the door and barge in, surprising me with the suddenness of his own entrance. The Honchkrow slammed into my side while I was distracted, and I spun from the impact, trying my best to keep my balance... but one of my feet landed on a piece of glass, and I slipped, feeling a sharp pain as the glass cut into my paw. I winced from the pain and slipped, falling off the windowsill… but my spin had pushed me the wrong way, and I fell out into the open air outside the second story of the house. I flailed, still spinning, desperately trying to catch myself on anything I could… but I only managed to flip myself around. The cloud in the sky passed away from the moon, and the world lit up as I fell to the ground, and I was able to see clearly as the ground rushed towards me.
Then just like that, everything just stopped. I blinked, confused as to what happened and why I was just hanging in the air, but then realized I was still falling- but that the speed of my fall had slowed drastically. Or maybe my thoughts had sped up? I had time to notice and absorb everything around me as I fell that last little bit- the sound of glass hitting the ground beneath me, the nearby tree lit in the silvery glow of the moon, the smell of what was probably my own blood coming from my paws. I felt a tingling sensation all over, like thousands of bugs were crawling through my fur. A roaring noise filled my ears as the world around me grew painfully bright, everything fading to white…
There was a thud as I hit the ground at full speed, the tingling sensation replaced with a blast of pain. My legs crumpled and I rolled along the ground, feeling rocks and twigs jabbing into me as I rolled over them. There was a horrible squeezing sensation around my neck, and I panicked as I struggled to breathe… then with a sudden snapping noise the pressure vanished. The bright light cleared away from my vision as I found I could breathe again, and I lay on the ground in stunned surprise. Granted, before that I had never fallen out of Sara’s window before, but that a very strange experience. Everything seemed somehow clearer than it had before- I could see the tree in perfect clarity, each leaf on every branch swaying in the soft breeze, the color and spots of a bug crawling over one of those leaves- but I didn’t have any more time to worry about what had just happened at the moment.
The Honchkrow was nowhere to be found, and I panicked, worried it might be back in the room with Sara. I tried to get to my feet, but my body felt different, somehow, and I stumbled back to the ground. I winced, expecting there to be pain so soon after the first fall... but all I felt was a soft impact that barely even registered as pain. I rose slower this time and shook my head, clearing it of the last of the pain and sleep. I knew that the door to the house was locked- the only way back inside was through the window I had just fallen out of. I looked back up the tree, but the branches didn’t seem that far away anymore- as I thought about it I felt sure I could make the jump up to them. I walked back a few paces before running towards the tree and jumping... surprising myself as I landed perfectly on the narrow tree branch. I jumped up a few more branches until I found myself level with the window, then ran along the branch and jumped back onto the windowsill, wincing at the slight shock that ran through my leg as I crunched a piece of glass underfoot with my landing.
Sara was laying on the floor with the blanket next to her, scratches on her arms and face. Her eyes were closed and she was trying to roll to one side, seemingly unaware of what was happening as her body shook with coughing, and concern shot through me. Her dad was standing over her with a baseball bat, shielding his face with one arm and swinging the bat at the bird with the other. I growled and stiffened, then sprung forward in a leap, hitting the bird dead on and driving it to the floor. Sara’s dad moved in and hit it with the bat, and the bird let out a screech of pain. It jerked and threw me off of it, then leaped back towards the window. It was fleeing for now, but I knew it would just turn around and come right back, and I looked around the room to try and come up with some other way to drive it away. Sara’s dad ignored me and took a step towards the window, squinting out into the night. “Blasted Honchkrow… ack, it’s coming back!”
Sara’s dad took a step back from the window, shielding himself with the bat, but I wasn’t scared. I hadn’t come up with any new bright ideas, but I didn’t want it getting back inside, so I hopped back up onto the windowsill. I had a strange feeling that the ledge was smaller than it had been before, and that it was lit with an odd yellow glow, but I pushed those away to focus on my opponent. The Honchkrow was on its way back, but it back winged as I jumped into view, hovering in place as it stared at me. I growled out at the attacking bird, bracing myself again to block it from coming back inside… and the bird’s eyes widened in fear. It took a minute before I realized that I had scared it. The bird let out a startled “Honch!” and turned, flying out of sight behind the tree. I blinked, confused at what had just happened… but before I could do anything else Sara’s dad yelled in surprise and jumped away from me. I looked back at him, startled, and saw him staring at me in surprise as he raised the baseball bat back into a protective position.
“You’re not Opal, you’re another one of those things! Get out of here, leave us alone!” He ran towards me and swung the baseball bat, taking me completely by surprise and hitting me square in the side. I fell out of the window again and braced myself, expecting another painful fall. I was happily disappointed- there was no flash of light this time, nor did it hurt nearly as bad, but it was still a bit of a shock. The impact stunned me and I felt the breath forced out of me, but I forced myself to get back up, looking around for the Honchkrow. I found it, hovering above me beside a tree branch, staring down at me, and I was sure it was going to come at me again… but then it flinched, and I saw the fear still there in its eyes, felt its fear like a cool breeze. The Honchkrow wheeled in the air and flew away, leaving as fast as it could.
I turned back around slowly, feeling pain in every muscle as I did so. I looked back up to the window and saw Sara’s dad, leaning out of the window, the bat held in his hand. He looked after the fleeing Honchkrow for a second, but then turned to look down at me. I faltered for a minute in confusion and fear. I could feel anger coming from him in a way more tangible than I had ever experienced before. He had just hit me with the baseball bat, and everything felt so different and strange since I had fallen out the window… while I was frozen in indecision Sara’s father moved away from the window, and I heard running inside the house. By some instinct I glanced down at the ground next to me, and saw my collar, snapped, laying in the dirt by the tree… but just as I decided to go over to it I heard the door unlocking and fear overruled my confusion. I ran, jumping over the fence and into the street, thinking as I did that the fence seemed a lot smaller than I remembered.
For the longest time I just ran, unsure what was going on, or what had happened to me. Sara’s dad had attacked me, had pushed me out of a window. He was angry with me, and he had been trying to chase me away; even the Honchkrow was scared of me- what had happened?
The pain of the fall and the cuts on my feet soon got the better of me, and I stumbled in my run, falling to the ground. I was lying before an alley of some kind, littered with garbage and other discards. I stayed there for a minute, trying to get my breath back, when the sound of thunder reached my ears. I remembered Perry saying earlier that rain was coming, and I was about to be stuck out in the middle of it unless I did something. I thought about going back to the house, or maybe the gym… but everything hurt too much to think about going anywhere that far, and I wasn’t sure what would happen when I got there. I looked farther into the alley and saw a discarded tarp laying on the ground, a yellow-and green colored piece of plastic. It wouldn’t be very comfortable, but it looked like it would keep me a dry. I crawled underneath it, peeking back out and watching what little of the sky I could see from within the alley. As I looked up I saw the last little bit of the moon being covered up by a cloud… and then the rain came.
I stayed awake for a little while longer as the rain fell, listening to the rhythmic pitter-patter against covering above me, staying drier than I expected. The way the alley was designed caused most of the water to run off to the sides and away. Despite that a pool was forming just beyond the tarp, and I could barely make out my reflection in it, a distortion of an Eevee huddled underneath the tarp. As I drifted back to sleep, my last thoughts were of how odd the falling rain made me look, as if I were larger and darker, with eyes a shade of red like blood…
Chapter 8: Opal- Umbreon's Story- Chapter 8
An Umbreon tries to understand recent changes.
When I woke up next, it was still night- but somehow I knew it was a new night, and that I had slept through the day. The rain had stopped, but the puddle was still near me and I was thirsty. I went to drink some of it… then saw my reflection, undistorted by raindrops.
The image that looked back at me scared me. Blood red eyes glared back at me, and a ring glowed a sick yellow on its forehead. The ears and tail that had once been fluffy and rounded were now pointed, wrapped in rings of that same sick yellow color… but the rest of the image was a dark, horrible jet black.
I stepped away from the puddle, startled, then slowly inched back towards it. The reflection remained the same, and I knew I had changed- I wasn’t an Eevee, not anymore; I was something else now. I whined, and heard my voice, but instead of the lighter tones, the sharp “Vee” or “Eees”, I heard only a low pitched “Bree.”
Looking at my reflection, hearing the sound of my voice, I finally understood what had happened last night- why the Honchkrow had turned around and ran after it saw me, why Sara’s dad had attacked me. My reflection scared me, and I knew it was my own; how could somebody else not be scared? I wasn’t an Eevee anymore. I had evolved, like Clara had told me could happen so long ago- but instead of becoming an Espeon like her, the night had turned me into the creature staring back at me- another creature of nightmares, like the Houndoom, or the Honchkrow, or the Murkrows.
I wandered a little after that, not really wanting to stay at the alley with that reflection, but not knowing where else to go. I thought of the gym, and walked to the concrete block that blocked the way to the gym. I stood there for a long time… but a strange sense of alertness and danger stopped me from going any further. Eventually I turned around and walked instead through the rest of the town, slinking from shadow to shadow, until my aimless walking finally brought be to my… to Sara’s house. I didn’t go into the yard, instead stopping and hopping onto the fence posts. The house was familiar and seemed friendly, a soft yellow light coming from Sara’s room, but I felt too scared to go further. I stopped and watched the house for a moment, thinking over everything that had happened and wondering what to do next.
I couldn’t make sense of anything. I had been attacked by somebody I thought was a friend, while trying to protect my trainer. Shells had told me I would never get in trouble for doing that, that nobody would blame me for anything I did to protect Sara... but maybe that didn’t apply to creatures like me? I wanted to ask Clara or Shells about it… but I knew they probably wouldn’t talk to me, if they didn’t flat out attack me on sight- and I already knew the answer. Sara’s father had come at me with a baseball bat because I was like this; to him, I was as much a threat to Sara as the Honchkrow was. If Perry or Flen saw me, they’d probably have their Pokemon force me out of town… if not something worse. I thought back to the fight against the Houndoom. How could I hope to even hold my own against the Steelix, if Flen brought it against me? And… if it was Clara, how could I even think about fighting her?
I shook my head and tried not to think about it anymore. I didn’t want to think about any of those things right now, and I was more worried about Sara anyways. It had only been one night since I had fought the Honchkrow, but I was already missing her, and for all I knew she had just gotten sicker. I wanted more than anything to go in the house and watch over her, to just curl up next to her and keep her warm… but I knew better. I would probably end up making it worse if I was near her, somehow, and that was the last thing I wanted. I looked down again at the grass, once again a little surprised at how clear everything was despite being the middle of the night. The moon was shining, a bright white orb surrounded by glittering stars, and it made the world bright, as if a peaceful spotlight was shining on everything around me. I noticed the grass beneath me was starting to glow a soft yellow, and I was surprised to find the yellow circles in my fur glowing. I wasn’t sure why, but I closed my eyes and started counting to ten, feeling calmer with each number. I reached ten and opened my eyes again, looking back down at the grass. My rings had stopped glowing and the grass had faded to its normal green, and I relaxed a little- now I wasn’t as likely to be spotted in the dark.
I spent the rest of the night on the fence just watching Sara’s window. Eventually the sky brightened- it was just a little bit, but to my eyes it seemed to be becoming almost painfully bright. I yawned, a short “Bre”, before hopping down from the fence. I looked behind me one last time, taking another look at the glow in the window, feeling almost a tug towards it… but I ignored it and walked away, heading back to the cover I had found in the alley. I crawled back under the shade of the discarded tarp, stretching out on the hard ground. I lay there for a bit, head on my paws, and watched the sun rise. Eventually I drifted off to sleep, with my last thoughts strangely being of how much I wished I had the clearing of the Pokeball.
Taran watched from the side of the road, confused. The Umbreon was just standing there, staring at the concrete block, completely unmoving. The spider shifted her gaze, wondering if something had tipped it off- the block hid everything behind it completely, and the Cubone was staying completely silent on the other side. The web, which Taran had spent hours of careful work making, was completely invisible in the dark. Even her sensitive eyes couldn’t make it out, and she knew where to look for it. Taran herself was the most noticeable, but buried unmoving under a mound of dirt and leaves beside the road, she was sure the Umbreon hadn’t noticed her either. Whatever it was though, something had tipped the Umbreon off. Maybe his eyesight was better than hers, maybe he smelled something, maybe he had some odd ability to sense the future like Absol had- but for whatever reason he wasn’t moving.
Time passed in silence, and Taran began wondering if attacking now would be the best move, but she ultimately decided against it. Alleen had been very firm on that point, and it made sense. If she attacked now, Chuck would be unable to help her, trapped outside the web of her own making. Best case, it would just be her against a cornered Umbreon, who might or might not have backup of his own; worst case, she might end up trapped by her own web. Better to wait and hope the Umbreon crossed over the block- then she could seal the exit behind him, and help Chuck from outside the web.
Finally the Umbreon seemed to make up its mind. Taran tensed, every part of her body back on alert as the creature lifted a paw… but she deflated, slinking back to the ground, as the Umbreon turned and walked away without even a sound.
Taran crawled out from under her hiding space, and felt her way to the web- the strands on the ground were the only ones safe to touch. With deft, practiced movements, she manipulated the strands, and the web dome collapsed, falling harmlessly across the empty ground behind her.
Chuck hopped up onto the block, alerted by the noise, and looked down at her through his skull helmet. “What’s wrong?”
“It didn’t work as well as we’d hoped, but it looked like the trap was a good idea. Clara may have chased off the Houndoom, but there was an Umbreon here for about twenty minutes. He just stood there and stared at the block, like somebody had painted a work of art on it, before deciding to turn around and leave. He just walked off and left, probably going back to their hideout.”
The Cubone looked down at the block, and tapped it with his bone cudgel. “We can’t go after him yet, not until Absol is better. There’s no telling what else might be waiting for us- Sara’s father told Seth that a Honchkrow and an Umbreon attacked Sara and Opal at their home last night.”
Taran walked up the side of the concrete block, stopping next to the Cubone. “What happened? Are they okay?”
Chuck just shook his head. “Nobody’s sure yet. Sara’s parents are okay, but Sara herself is really sick. Opal hasn’t been seen since- Seth didn’t tell her parents, but he thinks they may have attacked Sara in order to kidnap him. We’re trying to keep it quiet for now- Flen and Clara don’t know at all, because Todd and Perry were both worried it would really upset them, and Clara has been struggling since the Houndoom hit her; it wouldn’t be good for her right now.”
Taran glared back the way the Umbreon had left, fuming. If she had known that earlier she would have risked triggering the trap, regardless of the odds. That was probably one reason Chuck and Alleen hadn’t told her this before. Then she calmed down, thinking, and looked back at Chuck. “Are Umbreons poisonous? He smelled a little odd, while he was standing there… Do they know why Sara’s sick?”
Chuck blinked, obviously unsure. “You think it poisoned Sara?”
“It’s a possibility. We should let Alleen and Seth know about this, just in case- we might need to set a trap at Sara’s house too.”
I woke just as the sun set and crawled out from underneath the tarp. I stretched, realizing that I had had a dreamless sleep. It seemed a little odd- since my life had been thrown upside down, since I had changed, my sleep had been peaceful and undisturbed. My stomach growled, and my thoughts derailed as I realized I had gone two days without eating. I wanted to go back to Sara’s house- even though I knew she didn’t realize I was out there, it still seemed right to be there- but I knew I had to eat something, and that people would still be up. I counted to ten again and the yellow glow on the surrounding walls faded away completely. I sighed, wishing again for the familiar brown fur and comforting fluffy tail of my Eevee body… but then I shook my head and left the alley, slinking through shadows to stay out of sight as I headed back to the pet store.
I don’t really know why I went there first. Maybe it was because that was the only other place I had found food, maybe I missed it a little, but either way, as I walked up to the building one of the workers was just leaving through the back door. He was holding a bag that smelled like food. The smell seemed bland and even awful compared to the things Sara had given me… but my hungry stomach didn’t really care at the moment. I walked up to the man, coming up behind him as he locked the door to the store, and sat down on the ground. “Umbreee?” My question was soft spoken, just asking for some food, but it really scared the poor man. He jumped, dropping the bag of food before he had landed back on the ground. His reaction surprised me, and I saw my reflection brighten in the store’s window, my rings flashing to a bright yellow glow. The man landed back on the ground and turned around to look at me- which just seemed to scare him even more. I actually felt fear coming from him. He screamed, a high pitched yell, and took off running without even looking back at me or the bag of food. His reaction was a little depressing- I don’t think there are many Pokemon that would be too happy if people ran away screaming when they saw them- but I was hungry, and the food was more important to me than his reaction at the moment. I grabbed the bag with my teeth and headed back to the security of my alley. Once there I tore open the bag and ate slowly, watching the sky as the stars came out. The moon was back out, glowing a soft white from overhead, and after I finished eating, I just sat there and watched it for a while.
Eventually I got up and headed towards Sara’s house. As I neared the house I saw the same yellow glow coming from her window, but I stopped just before jumping up onto the fence. The gate had a sign nailed to it, and I sat down to read it. There was a picture in the center- a black and white photo of Sara holding me, as an Eevee, asleep in her arms- and there was writing beneath the picture. “Lost Eevee, Trainer Sick. Answers to Opal; likely hurt. Reward offered if found.” A series of numbers was written after, but I stopped reading there. I wasn’t sure what to think- Sara’s parents were looking for me still? Hadn’t they seen what had happened; didn’t they know what I was now? Her dad was there that night, he saw what had happened, what I became… did this mean they still wanted me?
I hopped up on the fencepost, and was about to hop down when I saw Feren laying on the porch, his horn and spines gleaming in the moonlight. A bowl of food was set on the porch in front of him, and somehow I knew he had been waiting there all day. I paused, suddenly scared, and remembered back to the fight I had had with him. Thoughts started racing through my brain- the poster had said lost Eevee, not… whatever I was now. As an Eevee I hadn’t been able to see at all in the dark, and maybe Sara’s dad hadn’t been able to see anything either… maybe they still thought I was an Eevee; that the creature he saw was some other Pokemon entirely. I remembered the reaction of the pet store worker- maybe Sara’s dad wasn’t sure I had evolved, and had put the poster up in case I was still an Eevee… and had asked Flen to guard the house in case I really was the nightmare creature. Maybe they were…
Feren rose to his feet, suddenly awake, and he stepped over the food dish, squinting towards me. “Who’s there? Show yourself!”
All my thoughts collided at that moment, and I panicked, fear shooting through me. The ground around me brightened as my rings glowed a brilliant yellow, and I jumped off the fence post, landing on the sidewalk. I ran after that, away from Feren, away from Sara’s house, away from everything. I wasn’t sure how long I ran, but finally I got tired and stopped running, panting from exhaustion. I collapsed on the ground and just lay there for a little to rest… then, saddened and scared, I got up and went back to the alley. When I arrived I saw that the food bag was still lying out in the open, but I noticed that some of the food I had spilled was gone. It wasn’t that much but the pile was definitely smaller. Somebody else had been here eating it, some other Pokemon…
I sniffed the air and perked my ears, listening. My rings darkened, and with a bit of surprise I realized that I hadn’t counted to ten first. I was too busy paying attention to the things around me and ignored that surprise… and then I focused on a scratching noise coming from the back of the alley. There was a soft silvery glow coming from behind a large trash can. I lowered myself towards the ground and slinked forward, trying to stay hidden from the thing that had made the noise. I sneaked around a trash can and saw the intruder- a Ninetales, a soft silvery glow surrounding her. She was stretched out alongside the wall, and her tails twitched back and forth in a convoluted rhythm. Her fur seemed unbelievably soft, and was a silvery color, with the silver changing to blue near the end of her tails. She didn’t seem to have noticed me, and was actually looking instead towards something... what was that?
The bright flicker of motion before the Ninetales derailed my thoughts. I stopped slinking forward and squinted at the glowing ball that darted between the Pokemon’s paws. It was just out of focus, like looking at the television, and I couldn’t quite make out what it was. The air around it seemed to shimmer like the burners on a stove. It made no noise, but it bounced energetically along the ground as it moved between the fox Pokemon’s paws. I didn’t realize I was staring at it until the Ninetales spoke. “It’s pretty, isn’t it?”
The sound startled me and I let out a surprised “On!” as I ducked back behind the trash can. The Ninetales laughed softly, a sound that reminded me a little of Clara’s laughter. “It’s okay, little Umbreon, I’m not going to hurt you. You can come back out, I just want to talk with you.” The Ninetales voice carried a sense of honesty and gentleness, and I found myself believing what she said. I peeked out from around the trash can to look back at the Ninetales. She was just a little taller than me, not counting her tails (which were quite large), and she had moved to sit up and look towards the sky. Her red eyes sparkled and her tails created a pillow effect around her, and the fiery blue wisp was lying on the ground in front of her, with two more of them darting in and out around the voluminous tails. Her silvery fur could only be described as luxurious- it seemed so soft that it would melt if it was touched- and though the alley was muddy and dirty her fur was spotless.
I just stared at her in awe. She literally seemed to sparkle in the night. The alley seemed all the more dingy and run down with the beautiful creature in it, and I felt like another piece of abandoned garbage compared to her- a comparison that seemed to hit a little close too home as I thought about it. I pushed that thought aside for the moment in favor of another. “What’s an Umbreon?”
The Ninetales looked down from the sky and smiled at me. “Silly… it’s what you are, Opal. But why are you here, in a place like this?” The Ninetales looked around, as if just now noticing the surroundings.
“I wasn’t sure where else to go, I guess. Why… how do you know my name?” I sat down, still watching the fiery ball out of the corner of my eye.
The Ninetales looked sad for just an instant before looking away. “Oh… I need to introduce myself to you. My name is Sinori, and... well... Sara told me your name.” The Ninetales’ eyes sparkled, and a hint of a friendly smile appeared on her face.
“Sara did? You talked to her? Did... did she send you to find me? Is she okay?” I rose to my feet, excited, all sorts of questions springing to my mind, followed by the fears that had sent me running from Sara’s house earlier. “Are you one of Flen’s Pokemon? Are... you here to chase me away?”
Sinori shook her head, surprise on her face. “No, silly; why would I want to do that? Sara didn’t really send me, no, but I was worried and came to check on you.” She looked back down at me and stretched out on the ground. “Come here and get comfortable. I have a feeling we might be here for a while.” The fox’s tails curled out to the side, creating a fluffy pillow for me. I was tired of being scared, and the fox seemed so nice, so friendly and trustworthy… so I stretched out next to her.
“So how come you’re out here, and not at home? Don’t you think Sara is worried about you? How many days have you been out here alone, anyways?”
I blinked. Didn’t she know? “Um… a few days, I guess. Maybe three? Sara was sick when I... I don’t think she’s that worried about me right now.” I felt a little guilty as I said that- because I was worried about Sara. The last memory I had of her was of the Honchkrow flying towards her while she was caught in a fit of coughing... I shook my head to try and stop the memory from playing any further.
“Why didn’t you go back to her?” Sinori tilted her head and blinked at me. “I’ve never known an Umbreon to just leave their trainer like that! Are you sick too?” She sniffed at me and poked me with her nose.
“No… I feel okay. But… I’m not an Eevee anymore. I don’t think she would want me around now.”
The Ninetales shook her head. “You don’t really believe that! Sara loves you, and I know you love her; there’s no such thing as an Umbreon that doesn’t adore their trainer, or one that isn’t loved by their trainer. What’s the real reason you’re not by her side right now?”
I looked down at the ground, and the ring on my forehead darkened while the others glowed brighter- my first blush as an Umbreon, I realized. I sighed, staring down at the muddy ground... and finally knew the real reason, buried deep down under all the sudden surprises and scares. “She doesn’t want me there... Her dad chased me away, and there were Pokemon waiting for me there tonight. I think they know... that if I go back I’ll end up hurting her. I’m not an Eevee anymore, I’m an Umbreon, like you said. I’m a creature of darkness, just like the Houndoom, or the Murkrows, or that Honchkrow. All they do is hurt things, and... that’s what I’ve become. I... I’m evil. A monster.”
Sinori blinked, and for the first time seemed surprised. “What?”
“I’m evil. Bad. A dark creature. I scared the poor man at the pet store, just asking him for some food… even the Honchkrow, another dark Pokemon, was terrified and ran away from me. I’m the same as that Houndoom, the one that’s been hurting all those people, I’m… Dark.”
The Ninetales was quiet for a time, and when I looked up at her she was looking away from me, towards the wall. “You… you really believe that, don’t you? That if you go back, you’re going to hurt her? That... that’s all you can be now?” The Ninetales’ voice trembled, like she was about to cry.
“It’s what every dark Pokemon I’ve ever known have done... if I go back to Sara, I’ll just end up hurting her somehow, or one of my friends will have to chase me off. I just came from there, and Feren was guarding it. In case...” I trailed off, unable to finish.
We were quiet for a bit after that, and I realized that the Ninetales had started crying- a tear made a sizzling noise when it fell off her nose and hit the fiery ball beneath her. I wasn’t sure what to say, but she finally spoke again, her voice sad. “Why do you keep going back to her house at night?”
I blinked in surprise at the question. I hadn’t really thought about it. At the time it just seemed like the thing I wanted and was supposed to do. I thought about it more before answering- the more I talked with Sinori, the more I realized her questions weren’t meant for shallow ‘just because’ answers. “I wanted to be near her. Wanted to make sure the Honchkrow didn’t come back. Wanted… wanted to be able to go back.”
“You wanted to protect her, and you missed her?”
I nodded. “Yeah… I want her to be safe.”
There was silence for a while longer, until the Ninetales spoke again. Her voice was calm again, gentle. “Opal, you’re not going to hurt Sara… not even on accident, not ever.”
I looked at Sinori, not wanting to think about it, but finding I desperately wanted it to be true. “How can you be sure?”
The Ninetales actually laughed at that, a happy sound that made me feel better just by hearing it. “Well… there are a few reasons… but mainly it’s because I know better. You’re not evil, not by far. What you are now is confused.” Sinori tilted her head up to the sky again. “You’re right... some. You’re a Dark Pokemon now, you are a creature of the night… but that doesn’t make you evil, nor does it mean that all you can do is cause pain or hurt. You may have some physical things in common with the Honchkrow, or the Houndoom, but you’re nothing like them where it really matters. You’re an Umbreon, Opal! Don’t you know what that means?” Sinori lifted her head towards the sky, but watched me from the corner of her eye.
“I guess I don’t... I’ve never met one before. I didn’t even know there was such a thing until I became one.” I looked up at the sky again, following Sinori’s gaze. Why did she keep looking up at the sky like that?
“You’re a light, Opal. You’re a creature of the night, yes, but not everything in the night is dark, and it certainly doesn’t make it automatically bad or evil. Haven’t you noticed your rings give off light? No other Dark Pokemon in the world does that; only an Umbreon gives off light. And you’d never hurt your trainer; you’d protect her from anything that tried to hurt her. That’s why the Honchkrow was scared of you. To him, you were just like an Espeon. You were going to stop him from hurting Sara, period, no matter what it took, and he knew it.”
I blinked. She thought I was like an Espeon? I was nothing like an Espeon; I was the exact opposite of one. “You’re wrong… I’m not like Cla… I’m nothing like an Espeon now; I’m just the opposite.”
Sinori shook her head. “You are opposites, but you’re not different, not where it matters… you’re just on a different wavelength. I take it you know an Espeon?” Sinori smiled at that, a knowing look in her eye.
I nodded. “Clara, she’s my friend.”
“What makes her happy?”
I answered immediately- that question didn’t need any thought. “Flen, her trainer.”
Sinori nodded. “What else?”
I thought a little bit longer. “Well… she likes me, I guess. Oh, and she likes the sun.”
The Ninetales nodded. “That’s right! Espeons are sunlight Pokemon. They love the sun- they can feel it, like their ears, or their tail, or the jewel on their forehead. It may just be something subconscious at points, that they’re not really aware of, but it’s still always a part of them. When a cloud covers the sun or when it’s night they start to get lethargic and even sad. And Espeons are like the sun, too- they’re a bright spot to their trainers, like the sun in the sky, but they actually shine a little, too. During the day they glow a tiny bit- it’s hard to notice because of the sunlight, but it’s there. To their trainers, they are completely committed- while the sun is shining in the sky there isn’t a thing on this world that will stop them from brightening their trainer’s day, and they will go to the ends of the earth if it means they can bring a smile to a friend’s face.” Sinori smiled, and I looked down at the ground, remembering how Clara had told me some of these things, thinking about how different she seemed the few times I had seen her at night, or how she was always trying to keep me happy and occupied. Sinori looked down at me, her eyes shining. “Opal… where’s the moon at?”
I blinked at the question, answering before I even thought about it. “That’s a silly question; it’s right there.” I looked up, my nose pointing right towards the moon… then I realized what I had just done. Without having to look, without even having to think or try and remember, I had known, had been so sure I couldn’t believe it was even a question. “Oh…”
Sinori smiled again, a gentle smile, and one of the fiery balls danced around her, leaving a faint trail in the night. “And Umbreons… Umbreons are moonlight Pokemon. The moon is a part of each and every one of them. Just as much as their ears, or their tail, or the rings in their fur. They may not even realize the connection, but it’s there- any Umbreon can tell you instantly where the moon is, even if it’s behind a cloud, or it’s a new moon, or even if it’s the middle of the day.”
Something in my head finally clicked. “And at night, Umbreons are a trainers bright spot in the darkness. It’s our job to watch over them and keep them safe, against the things out there that could hurt them.”
Sinori smiled, and the fiery ball glowed brighter. “That’s right! You’re the same as an Espeon; you just live it a few hours later than they do. To a trainer, they’re the sun, but you’re the moon- an Espeon might be a blazing light in the day, but you’re a quiet, cool light where its needed the most. You are your trainer’s light in the darkness, her protection against the really nasty monsters that come when everything else is sleeping. In the darkness you’ll glow- maybe not as bright as an Espeon, but you don’t need to, because in the dark even a tiny light shines bright. You may have just realized it, but you’ll always know where the moon is, even when you can’t see it. Like the sun is part of an Espeon the moon is part of you- you’re the Moonlight Pokemon, the Umbreon. And there isn’t a thing in this world that will stop you from doing what it takes to keep your friends safe.”
“You’re far from evil, Opal, and I think deep down you know it. That’s why you’re here in this dirty alley- you’ve been so worried that you were going to hurt Sara, or that one of your friends would have to fight you off, that you just stayed away from them- protecting them, in the only way you thought that you could.”
I nodded, but then sighed, realizing I had been an idiot these past few days. “I didn’t know... I just… all the dark Pokemon I’ve known have been mean, cruel creatures….”
“Oh, Opal... don’t feel bad; it’s easy to see how you could be confused… a lot of the Dark Pokemon do turn out that way, and end up hurting and attacking people, and that’s probably why the worker you met earlier seemed so scared. You are intimidating at first glance, and you have to keep in mind that you see a lot better at night than humans or most other Pokemon do. You may see just fine and not know they can’t see you, but to them you just show up out of the darkness, and it’s hard not to be scared when that happens. But deep down inside you’re not evil or scary at all, Opal, and I think you’ve always known it. You’re just like the moon, just like your name- a shining jewel in the darkness.”
I was watching the moon the whole time Sinori was speaking, but I really saw it for the first time then. Its image in the Pokeball was a pale shadow of what I saw now- it shimmered, changing subtly between yellows and whites and even the random blues. I don’t know how long I sat there and stared at it, thinking over all the Ninetales had said. Eventually, after what seemed like hours, Sinori broke the silence. “Would you like to know a secret?”
I blinked, and looked away from the moon, feeling a little sad as I did. “A secret?” Sinori had just told me a big one, from my point of view at least. What else could she have to tell me?
The shimmering ball of fire floated off the ground, stopping a bit away from Sinori’s nose. “Uh-huh… a secret. How to do this! Well, sort of, anyways.”
“I can do that? It’s beautiful…”
Sinori nodded, and the ball bobbed up and down with her head. “It’s something fire Pokemon can do, usually instinctively. Normally Umbreon can’t pull this off, but I’ve known one that could do something that looks about the same, even though it never gets nearly as hot. The humans called mine ‘Will-O-Wisp’ and his ‘Flash’, and it took some work for him to get it in a ball like this, but it was always so pretty to watch him do things with it. Here’s what you do…”
I’m not sure how long I spent after that trying to make the light appear. Unlike the other moves I had learned, there wasn’t an image in my head of how to do it; I had to really work to make it happen. Sinori kept giving me different tips- “Think hard about the light; try and envision it in your mind,” or “Keep your eyes closed for now, you’ll be able to do it without concentrating so hard later, but for now you need to focus.” At first my efforts only made my rings glow brighter and brighter, but eventually I managed to do it- a small sparkle appeared a few inches away from my nose, hissing and sparkling in the darkness, casting different colors against Sinori’s fur.
“Very good, you got it!” I smiled- my first one as an Umbreon, the first moment I truly felt happy.
With that the air around us shimmered, like a veil had fallen away. Nothing tangible changed, but everything seemed different. Sinori sat up, looking suddenly very sad and old. “Opal… where’s the moon at?”
I pointed again with my nose. “It’s right the… It hadn’t moved at all. The whole time Sinori was talking to me, the hours that passed while she was teaching me how to make the light… the moon hadn’t moved. How had that happened? “It hasn’t moved at all?”
Sinori nodded. “Only five minutes have actually passed… it’s a trick I learned from… well, that’s not important yet. I can’t stay for much longer… What are you going to do now, Opal?”
That was an easy question. “I’m going to go back to Sara... I’ve been away from her too long, and I was wrong about leaving her.”
“You’re not worried anymore, about what might happen?”
“Not anymore. Even if I have to fight Clara, or Sara’s dad... I should be with Sara again.”
Sinori nodded, and her eyes looked sad again. “Yes… though…” Sinori sighed, and looked down at the ground. “Opal, I…” Sinori stopped, just staring at the ground for a moment, until finally looking back up at me. “I'm glad I met you, Opal.”
I stood up, stretching a little- it may have only been a few minutes, but my body felt like hours had passed. “It was nice to meet you, too. Thank you for everything, Sinori.”
The Ninetales smiled at me, and I ran off, heading back to Clara, to my trainer, to my home. As I was leaving, I swore I heard the Ninetales say something else… but when I turned back around to ask her what she had said, she was gone.
The moon shone down on me, a light spot in the darkness of the alley. The strange Ninetales was gone now, but she had shown me what I needed to see- I wasn’t the darkness, I was the light shining through it… and my friends, my trainer, needed me to shine for them. I turned away again, and left the alley for the last time, heading back to my home.
Flen stood in the place where his desk used to be. All that was left of it now was a few splintered pieces of wood, the furniture sheered through by an ice beam. Or maybe it was a flamethrower. Or maybe it was both. It didn’t matter really- there was nothing left of it now but rubble.
Just like the rest of the gym.
Flen sighed, thinking about everything that was gone, and about what really bugged him. Perry had been the first to say something about it earlier, and all the trainers found themselves agreeing with him. He had said that what really bothered him wasn’t all the damage, or the lost TMs, or the ruined potions- sure, those were bad things, and he was upset about them- but that what really hurt was that he hadn’t seen Shells jog around the gym like he usually did every day. Todd mentioned that he couldn’t pretend to ignore Feren sneaking treats from Tammy; Alleen said she missed watching her Nidorina trying to headbutt the sliding doors before they opened. Flen hadn’t said anything, but he had known immediately what he was missing.
This past week, at the end of each day, he hadn’t been able to sit at his desk and pretend to do paperwork. He hadn’t been able to watch Clara perch on the windowsill, hadn’t been able to watch the sun go down with her. He hadn’t heard her hum to herself, and to him, and then come over and bug him after the sun had set, until he put away the papers to pick her up and pet her to sleep…
Now… Clara was still sleeping nearby, but it wasn’t anywhere close to the same. Flen walked carefully over to where his Espeon was sleeping, on top of the remains of a bleacher, and thought back to how hard she had worked earlier. She had really pushed herself in the afternoon before ending the day completely exhausted. Flen reached down to rub her ear, to wake her up to go home, but stopped as he saw her twitch in her sleep. She rolled over, whining, and kept fidgeting, obviously uncomfortable. Flen was suddenly worried, and his heart sunk when he heard his Espeon start mumbling, actual words instead of her psychic voice. “Where are you?... I can’t hear you…”
It had been a long, long time, but Flen recognized the nightmares his Eevee used to have way back when. His heart sank as Flen became worried that all the recent problems had just been too much for his Espeon. He reached for Clara’s Pokeball, recalling her from the ruins of the gym without disturbing her, and hoping that would help her sleep a little easier.
As Flen walked away from the gym, and back towards his house, he decided to give Clara tomorrow off, and tell her to go look after Opal. The poor Eevee had been through a lot lately, and had been released from the PokeCenter just a few days ago; it was a good idea for that alone, just to make sure he was doing okay. But Flen didn’t try to fool himself- he was worried about his Espeon, and he hoped that tomorrow, when she came back from seeing Opal again, she would be much better…
Chapter 9: Umbreon- Opal's Story- Chapter 9
Opal returns home.
I sighed, sitting in the shadows across the street from Sara’s house. I had been sitting there for about twenty minutes, trying to get the courage I needed to walk the last few steps. My mindset about everything had changed, but I still felt a cold sense of dread at what lay ahead, about what I could end up facing. When I was around Sinori I was so sure everything would turn out fine, but now, sitting alone in the dark, my doubts crept back into my mind. What would Clara say when she saw me? Would Feren attack me when I tried to get back to Sara? What if Sara didn’t see me the same way the Ninetales had, what if her parents just saw another Dark Pokemon and wouldn’t let Sara keep me? I wanted everything to go back to the way they were… but I was still terrified of what might happen instead.
I felt like I was on the verge of choosing the rest of my life. I could choose to be afraid and run away again, or choose to be the type of Umbreon Sinori had described- the kind that stuck by his trainer and kept her safe, even if it meant being alone in the dark. The choice was obvious, but it was still scary, so I sat in the grass of the neighbor’s yard, trying to work up the courage to walk up to the house... until I heard noises coming from Sara’s yard. First it was just a faint rustling sound, but then came a series of thumps. My ears twitched at the noise, and I slinked close to the ground and walked across the street, trying to figure out what was happening. I stopped at the edge of a streetlight, still in the shadows, but I couldn’t see what had made the noise- the angles were wrong and my view was blocked by the fence. I looked to the porch and double checked the rest of the yard that I could see, but Feren was nowhere in sight. There was another thud, followed by a crunch, and then a sobbing noise. I ran forward and jumped onto the fencepost- somebody was getting hurt and needed my help.
I looked over the yard and finally saw Feren. He was lying motionless on the ground before the tree. His breathing was shallow, and I realized he wasn’t conscious- something had hurt him bad enough to knock him out. I looked over the rest of the yard, but it was otherwise empty. I heard grass rustling again, and at first I thought it was just the wind, but I quickly realized it was too irregular to be wind.
I hopped off the post, reaching Feren in two quick bounds. “What’s going on? Is anybody out here?”
I listened and scanned the yard, but the rustling slowly died down, leaving me with just the sound of Feren’s slow breathing. I looked around the yard one last time, then turned back to the Nidorino. “Feren? Are you okay?” I leaned towards him, about to poke him with my foot until a chill ran from my ears to my tail. It was a shock, but I felt stronger from it somehow. I turned to look around but nothing had changed- the yard was just as empty as when I had first jumped into it. I’m not ashamed to admit it- I was scared, and I whined, a low-pitched “Breee”.
I didn’t really mean anything with the noise, but it had an effect. The yard changed, growing darker, as a thin fog rose from the grass, congealing into a medium sized head that floated a few feet off the ground. “Ha, ha, ha… so you’re finally back. I wondered what had happened to you; I was looking forward to the chance of nabbing the family’s cute little Eevee. But here you are, already an Umbreon… I just hope you’re not as disappointing as that Nidorino was.”
I rose to my feet and stepped over Feren, placing myself between him and the fog creature. “Who are you? What did you do to Feren?”
The fog form laughed again, a scary sound that lacked any sense of the joy a laugh should have. “I guess I can spare some time to chat… It isn’t like we’re rushed for time or anything. I’m Haunter. Your buddy’s fine- for now- a little forced sleep never hurt anybody. Well, not a little bit of it, anyways. I didn’t particularly want to hurt him, but he just kept poking around, and he’s just a little too smart for his own good. As soon as he figured out I was here he attacked me, so I had no choice but to take care of him.”
I looked at the Haunter, watching as a pair of hands formed from the fog, matching the floating head. “What do you mean? Why are you here?”
The Haunter laughed again- he was obviously enjoying himself. “Oh, lots of reasons... but right now, I’m here for you.” The Haunter’s grin grew as he watched me. “See, right now things aren’t going so well, and we need a little help. Houndoom is furious at getting beaten by that Espeon, but he’s still too hurt to do anything about it, we need to make sure nothing like that happens again. We can’t get what we need if this entire town is out to get us, so we need to take a more subtle approach. We need somewhere to hide, and we need somebody who knows a little bit about the other Pokemon who live in this town to help us out. I’ve decided that place is here, and that somebody is you.”
“I don’t think so. You’re the one behind everything, aren’t you? The one who brought Houndoom and Honchkrow here, the reason they’ve been attacking everybody? If you think I’m helping you then you’re crazy.”
“Oh, but why ever not? You don’t actually think you still belong with these people, do you? You saw what that Espeon did to my friends; you saw how your trainer’s parents reacted to Honckhrow. And you have to know how they’ll treat you, now. Your own trainer’s father threw you out that very window just a few days ago; you have to know you can’t go back to them. You belong with us, with other Dark Pokemon, ones who can teach you and show you what it really means to be a creature of the night.” The Haunter pointed up to the window, reaching his other hand out to me, palm open. For a minute I thought about it, all my doubts coming back, and I looked up at the window. Some sort of plastic had been taped over it, shattered pieces of glass still littering the windowsill, and I stared at it in silence.
And it was in the silence I remembered Sinori’s words, almost as if they were being whispered to me again. “You’re a light, Opal.”
I looked down from the window and shook my head at the Haunter. “No. I already know what I am, Haunter, and who I belong with. I won’t help you.” My rings began glowing and I took a step forward, moving closer to the Haunter and farther away Feren.
“You can’t really be that stupid, can you? You’re making a huge mistake; your trainer won’t even be around much longer.”
I froze, suddenly worried. “What do you mean?”
“Oh, didn’t I tell you? I want this place to hide in, and I can’t have humans around for that, so I have to chase them away. No parents want to live in the house their child died in; no other couple would want to buy it. That’s right, Umbreon- I poisoned your trainer, sneaking poisons into her food and her drinks when nobody was looking, or filling the room with a toxic fog while you both slept. You see, I’m just fine- in this whole city, there’s only two or three creatures that have a chance of finding me. My friends are not so lucky- they’re strong enough to tear down a gym, but they’re just too visible. If they’re out in the open, well, it won’t be long before the gym leader here corners them. They need a place to hide in while we take this city apart, and a cursed, haunted house with a tragic story is the perfect place. In a few days I’ll have your trainer’s parents running for the hills, and Houndoom and Honchkrow can move in to a nice haunted house. You can’t hope to stop us. Stronger Pokemon than you have already tried, and look where it got them?” The Haunter looked at Feren, glaring, then leaned forward and looked straight at me.
“He won’t be a problem anymore. Honchkrow should already be on the way back here. This Nidorino will just... disappear... and nobody will have any idea what happened. That kind of mystery will just add to the mystery and fear of this house, so I guess he helped us out in the end.”
I moved, putting myself directly between Feren and the Haunter, and growled angrily. “I don’t think so. You’re stopping this, right now! I won’t let you hurt anyone else!”
The Haunter shook his head, then looked at me and raised a hand. “Well, if you insist…” The air between us shimmered, distorting somewhat, and my head started to hurt. I felt an odd feeling- as if I should be sleepy, even though I wasn’t- but I shook my head, fighting it off, and the feeling faded.
“I don’t think so, Haunter.” I spat the name, filling it with all the anger I felt. This was the Pokemon that was responsible for Sara’s recent sickness, the gym being destroyed, the attack in the forest, and who knows how many other horrible things that had happened the past few days. “I don’t know what you did to Feren, or how strong or clever you think you are, but I’m not letting you do this. You’re leaving this town, and never touching anyone here again!”
Something snapped inside me, and I felt it as my rings began glowing, some sort of power filling them. I growled and rushed at the Haunter, feeling my fur stand on end as I ran forward. My anger seemed to become tangible, a presence around me that I could shape and direct, and I noticed my rings were blazing, lighting up a good foot of the ground around me. As I rushed the Haunter I felt something line up in my thoughts, an impression of steps I should follow, and I grinned as I realized I was learning a new move, like when Sara had asked me to tackle Growlithe what seemed like so long ago. I followed through the images in my thoughts… and everything went dark. The Haunter blinked, looking around in confusion, as if he couldn’t see me anymore. My view shattered, and I saw the Haunter from thousands of different angles. I saw myself in random positions too- a shadow of myself, a half image that didn’t really exist. I realized this was a part of the move, and I focused on one of my images. The image solidified, and everything shifted as my body rematerialized in that position, right behind the Haunter. I pounced on the ghost, slamming into but yet still passing through him. It felt like jumping through water, and the lack of resistance threw me off balance. At first I thought the Haunter had been unaffected... but as I hit the ground I heard a cry of pain from behind me, and felt a wave of pain radiate off of my opponent. I turned back to face the ghost, and saw yellow streaks passing through it, burn marks that lined up with my rings. I smiled a little, relishing the knowledge that the ghost was in some pain of its own after attacking my trainer.
“A Faint Attack… well you’re just a little menace, aren’t you? I’ll teach you to attack me, you annoying brat!” The Haunter waved its hands, and lights began flashing randomly, twisting through the air and changing colors. I realized what the Haunter was doing as images flashed through my head, and I realized somehow that I could do the same thing- it was a Confuse Ray attack. I braced myself against it, trying to focus on the Haunter… but I fell victim to the effects anyways. The world tilted and I had trouble even staying on my feet. I thought I saw the Haunter again, and I leaped at it- a Quick Attack, darting at it before I lost sight of it again. I hit it- or rather I hit something- with a loud crack, and I felt a sharp pain in my head. The pain pulled me out of my confusion and I blinked, clearing my vision. I looked before me and saw that I had just leapt straight into the tree, leaving a slight indent in the bark. I growled as I turned back to the Haunter, stepping carefully over Feren, and crouched low to the ground. My rings brightened more, and I think my eyes even began to glow- the Haunter’s grin faded while he watched me, and he paused.
The Haunter didn’t stay scared for long, though, and he began another Confuse Ray. I decided it was fitting to give him a taste of his own medicine, so I focused on the images I had felt when the Haunter had used his earlier Confuse Ray. My instincts told me what to do, and my body followed through, as my rings began to brighten and dim rapidly, distorting the air around me. The move worked- I saw the Haunter tilt a little as he finished his own Confuse Ray, the multicolored lights swirling around me. It wasn’t as bad this time- I was sure where the Haunter was, though it was only a hazy outline- so I rushed at him again, energy gathering into my rings as I went through the motions of another Faint Attack.
The move hit him dead on, and I saw another set of yellow streaks fading from the Haunter’s body- right before the confused image I had of him hit me with his fist, the air around his hand somehow darker than it should be. A name popped into my head for the move- Payback- and I had a confused set of images linked with it, though I couldn’t understand how to do it. I didn’t have time to wonder what that meant - searing pain shot through my body, worst at the part of me the Haunter had just hit- and the force of the blow sent me flying, landing and skidding onto the fence. The pain was too much, and I lay there with the breath knocked out of me, wanting to get back onto my feet but overwhelmed by the shock and pain. The Haunter looked badly hurt, and I felt sure another Faint Attack would finish him… but I just couldn’t get back up. The Haunter laughed and began to form a blob of dark energy between his hands, and I knew he was about to attack me again. I struggled, trying to get out of the way, trying to move, trying even to get enough breath to do anything… but I was just too hurt from his last attack.
The Haunter’s blob glowed, a dim purple glow that radiated shadowy energy… but suddenly the Haunter wasn’t laughing anymore. A shocked expression replaced his grin, and with a grin of my own I realized that he wasn’t in control of the move anymore. My confuse ray had hit him, and it was finally taking its toll- the Haunter’s attack was backfiring on him. I smiled from my collapsed position near the gate and growled again. “Find a new town, Haunter- if you ever come near my trainer again, I’ll be here to stop you.” The blob exploded, a shockwave of energy radiating out from it, and the Haunter dissolved, defeated.
My body hurt- aching in general, but my left leg and my nose really hurt. I turned back to the tree to check on Feren… but the Nidorino was gone. I blinked and shook my head, just in case I was still affected by the Confuse Ray… but when I checked again, he still wasn’t there. I walked through the place he had been, and sniffed the ground, but there was nothing besides a faint smell. I didn’t remember him leaving… but the fight had been hectic; maybe I had missed it. I did spot my collar, still lying in the dirt and broken from the night I had become an Umbreon. I took a step to pick it back up, but then stopped before I got to it. Sara was sick and needed my help- I wanted it back, but the collar could wait.
I put Feren at the back of my mind too- I could ask what happened the next time I saw him, even if I was a little angry he hadn’t helped me fight the Haunter, since he was well enough to just get up and leave in the middle of the battle. I stayed focused instead on Sara- she was sick because of the Haunter and I had to let somebody know so they could help her. I started to hobble towards the front door, but as I got close I heard a voice from above me. “Nuh-uh… that’s far enough for now. Go to sleep, Umbreon…”
I looked up, trying to figure out what was going on, why it sounded like Tule was above me… but some kind of powder drifted down from the tree, filling the air around me. I sniffed it, and sneezed, but the smell filled my nose, seeming familiar. Finally it clicked- it smelled like the cake Sara had offered me on her birthday, what seemed like so long ago.
For some reason, smelling it made me tired, and I had trouble focusing. My head hurt, and my back hurt, and my leg hurt, and sleep seemed like such a good idea. The Haunter was gone, I was back home, and I had just won a difficult battle. There was nothing wrong with taking a quick nap, just for a little bit…
As I fell forward and collapsed into sleep, my mind followed the memory of the cake, and my dreams took me back to the first day I met Sara...
Todd followed the blueish light, wondering again what he was doing. He had two Pokemon with him, but Feren was at Sara’s house, and he felt weird not having the trusty rabbit Pokemon nearby. He knew it was stupid to be this far out in the forest, especially this late at night, but each time he looked up at the soft blue glow before him he felt compelled to keep following it. He wondered if this was what it was like to be hypnotized- knowing you were doing something stupid, or something you normally wouldn’t, but not being worried that you were. He thought about bringing one of his other Pokemon out just in case, but as he reached for one the light came to a stop next to a tree.
Todd stepped closer to it and saw the Honchkrow lying on the ground at the base of the tree. The bird glared at him angrily and tried to get up, but stumbled back down. It was obviously hurt- it had been in a fight with something, but there was nothing else in sight. “You must be the Honchkrow that’s been causing so much trouble lately.” Todd reached into his backpack and grabbed a Pokeball, keeping his eyes on the Pokemon the entire time. He tossed the ball at the wounded bird, and as the Honchkrow vanished, caught in the Pokeball, Todd looked back the way he came. “PokeCenter first… get you better, and then you get to answer some questions for us.”
Sinori watched from besides the tree, and the blue flame vanished as she ended her hypnosis of the trainer. Hidden safely behind her veil the Ninetales went unnoticed, but Sinori smiled to herself as Todd carried the Honchkrow off to its new home.
Chapter 10: Opal's Story- Chapter 10
Final chapter of Opal's Story.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Waking up hurt. Again. It wasn’t just my body this time- the recent fight had left me sore and battered- but worse than that, it was morning. Even shut tight my eyes hurt from the sun’s brightness, and I had been lying in the open long enough that I felt like I was on fire from the sun’s warmth. Though they fought me every centimeter, I opened my eyes and looked for some shade to hide in.
I was lying in the open in Sara’s yard- somebody had dragged me away from the tree. I started to rise to my feet and head back into the shade when a voice stopped me. “Don’t move.” I froze in surprise at the sound. It was Clara’s voice, her actual voice- a sound I had never heard before. It sounded similar enough to the voice I was used to, but it lacked the melody.
She sounded angry.
I turned slowly and squinted to look at her. She was perched on top of the fence’s gate and staring at me. Feren and Tule were on the ground before her, Feren flexing his left arm, Tule hiding behind her leaves.
“We’re looking for the Eevee that lives here. You and your Honchkrow pal came here a few nights ago and took him. Tell us where he is.”
I blinked, trying to understand, until it dawned on me. What I had thought the past few nights was right- Sara’s dad hadn’t seen what had happened. All he knew was that Sara’s Eevee had fallen out the window, and then an Umbreon jumped in with the Honchkrow. Every other Dark Pokemon had come to town, so why not an Umbreon, too? Clara, Feren, Tule… in their minds, they were all staring at the horrible Umbreon that had helped kidnapped Opal.
“Clara…” I opened my eyes fully against the sunlight and looked at the Espeon, seeing the confusion and surprise in her eyes at hearing her name from me. I looked at each of them. “Feren… Tule… It’s me. I wasn’t kidnapped three nights ago. The Honchkrow attacked Sara and I chased it off with her dad… but it knocked me out the window, and I evolved that night. We chased off the Honchkrow, but Sara’s dad attacked me with his bat, and... I ran and hid.”
Feren turned and looked back at Clara, but Tule just flinched and moved away from them. I watched Clara as she stared at me, waiting for her to realize everything was okay again… but it didn’t happen.
She stared at me for a moment, then shook her head and glared at me. “NO! You’re lying! You learned our names from him, and made up that story.” She hopped down from the fence and took a step towards me. I couldn’t help but remember when Clara fought the Houndoom, and took a step backwards.
Feren and Tule exchanged shocked expressions, and the Nidorino stepped between us. “Clara, calm down. He’s no threat to the three of us right now; we can easily find out if it’s true.”
Clara glared at him. “It’s not true! Opal’s still out there somewhere; we can still stop him from becoming this... this thing.” Clara turned to look back at me. “Tell me where he is, or else!” Tule gasped at Clara, but Feren hopped between us and growled at Clara. “Stop it! I’m not letting you hurt him until we know for sure; what if it is him and you hurt him? He ran away once already, do you want to be responsible for driving him off for good?”
Clara shook her head. “It’s not him!” I didn’t even see her move- one minute she was standing before the fence, and the next she had hit me in the side and sent me flying. I landed on my left side, and a fresh burst of pain went through my already hurt leg. I was blinded by the pain and the bright sunlight for a moment, but when I focused again I saw Feren leaping at Clara, poison barbs gleaming in the sunlight. “No, stop it!”
Feren and Clara were both distracted by my shout, and they impacted off balance and rolled into a heap. I thought for a second Clara would stop, but a purple flash sent Feren flying back towards the fence. Tule rolled out of the way, and as I watched her my sensitive eyes caught something glittering on the ground by the tree.
Clara turned back to me and growled, a high pitched noise that might have seemed funny if her attitude wasn’t so scary. She stood between me and the tree for just a second before running at me in the start of a move I didn’t recognize- but was sure would hurt. I started towards her in a run and saw her eyes harden… and at the last instant I jumped and leapt over her. I landed and kept running, biting at the ground in a scooping motion, just as something hit me- hard- and threw me forward into the tree.
I slid down the tree to the ground, feeling a surge of pain through my leg as I found it wouldn’t hold my weight right now, but kept my mouth clamped down through the pain, holding onto the strap I had grabbed. Clara’s eyes widened in surprise, and she slowed to a halt, confusion plain in her expression.
Tule stepped closer, and I saw Feren crawling back to his feet behind her. “That’s his Soothe Bell, isn’t it? The one Sara got for him, the day after we met him? The one you were so jealous about?”
I dropped the collar so I could speak again, savoring the sound of the soft chimes it made as it fell to the ground. “It is. Sara got it for me after Skarmory and Shells fought, while Clara and I helped. It broke off when I evolved. It must have been lying here since that night.”
“That must have been what he saw last night.” Tule looked between me and Feren. “Remember? You said he must have been hit on the head and was walking in circles… but he was pausing because he had spotted his collar, and couldn’t decide between getting it or checking on Sara.” She looked back at Clara. “It’s him, Clara, it has to be. Why else would he know what that meant, or about helping Skarmory in that fight? Opal wouldn’t tell that to somebody who kidnapped him. And why else would somebody try and get to it even while you’re attacking him?” She looked back at me and her leaves straightened. “We’ve found out what happened to Opal. He evolved.”
Clara shook her head again, but this time I saw hints of tears in the quick motions. Tule and Feren both flinched, and I realized she was talking psychically to them just as she turned and ran, hopping over the fence without breaking stride.
I wasn’t sure what to do, and I stood there for a moment in surprise. “What…” I stopped, not sure what to ask, left without words by Clara’s behavior.
Tule was still staring after Clara in shock, but Feren turned back to me. “Don’t worry… Flen will make sure she’s okay.” Feren hopped over to me, favoring his right side despite his claim that he was fine. “You need to come with us for now. Sara isn’t here- her parents took her to the hospital last night before you got there, because she was getting worse. She’s doing better now, but she was very worried about you. We’ll take you to her.”
I leaned down and bit the broken strap of my collar, picking it back up, before nodding and following after the Nidoran.
Todd and Perry were waiting for us at the hospital parking lot. It was a huge building, stretching high into the sky, and I felt dwarfed by the structure. Perry and Todd both looked shocked when they saw me, but Tule and Feren quickly explained the situation to their trainers. Perry pointed a device at me and I flinched from it, but it only beeped and began speaking in a monotone voice.
“Umbreon- the moonlight Pokemon. The light of the moon reacted with and altered Eevee’s already unstable genetic structure. When exposed to moonlight the rings on this Pokemon’s body will glow faintly and it will become more powerful. When agitated or surprised, an Umbreon’s fur becomes coated with an oily poison, although other Pokemon or trainers in frequent contact with Umbreon will become immune. Like an Espeon, Eevee will only evolve into an Umbreon after first developing a high level of trust in its trainer.”
The last part of the description surprised me, but when I thought about it I realized it was true. I trusted Sara- I knew she cared about me, was worried when I was hurt; she wouldn’t do anything to purposely hurt me, had loved playing with me- and I wanted to keep her safe, just like Sinori had described.
The humans seemed more interested at the mention of ‘poison’. Perry’s expression turned sour as Todd grinned. “I don’t think Opal’s as likely to stumble into people, but we’re going to need a whole new supply of antidotes, just like when Feren first evolved.”
“Let Flen know to stock up; I’m sure he’ll be thrilled. I’ll take Opal to Sara... but I need to get him cleaned up a little first. They won’t let him into the hospital all muddy like that.” Todd called Feren back into a Pokeball and headed off towards the gym, but Perry picked Tule up and reached for another Pokeball.
Shells, being Perry’s strongest water Pokemon, had obviously had much experience washing down unwilling Pokemon. I’m sure he enjoyed it- the Wartortle wasted no time in drenching me once asked to hose me down. Tule told Shells what had happened, since I couldn’t really speak without the risk of drowning. When he was finished soaking me he just grinned and crossed his arms in front of him. “I knew you’d become a strong Pokemon. That Haunter didn’t stand a chance against you.”
I just glared back at him with flattened ears, quite thoroughly soaked.
Perry finally stopped laughing and brought Shells back into his Pokeball before turning towards the hospital. “Come on Opal, let’s get you up to Sara.” I followed after, still clutching my collar tightly in my teeth. As we walked through the halls of the hospital I became aware of a strange energized sensation, as if the moon was full and right above me. I didn’t understand it, but I felt better as a result- the pain in my leg didn’t really go away, but it did become easier to ignore, and I was able to walk faster without limping.
Sara was lying fast asleep in a hospital bed when we finally came to her room. I looked at Sara and winced, seeing how drained she looked, and whined a sad “Bree.” Sara’s mother was in the room with reading a book, and she looked up at the sound. “Oh; hi Perry.”
“Hi. Any change?”
“Not since she fell asleep earlier. The doctor says she’s doing better now, since Todd told them about the poison, and that she just needs a little more rest.” She looked down at me and flinched. “Is that… one of yours?”
I looked away at her reaction to me, but Perry just grinned and shook his head. “Not in the least- this is Opal.”
They talked a little longer after that, but I ignored them, hopping up onto the bed next to Sara. She was fast asleep, and I was sore from the recent fights… but I was back with my trainer again. Nothing would ever hurt her again- not if I had anything to say about it.
Later that day, Clara came to visit us. Sara hadn’t woken up yet, but her mom and Perry had long since left. It had been a little boring until the doctor came to check on Sara, and as a result of that visit I had moved into one of the two chairs in the room, curling up and just listening to the machines beeping. The doctor had dimmed the lights for me, though I had to make a promise first to his Chansey that I wouldn’t scare Sara if she woke up. I could imagine how that would go- waking up in a dark room with a strange Umbreon staring at her probably wouldn’t be good for her recovery.
I heard Flen and Clara talking outside the door before they came in- one thing I had noticed by now was that my hearing was even better as an Umbreon. Flen asked Clara if she was sure, and told her that he didn’t mind talking to me first for her, that he wanted to talk to me anyways. I didn’t hear her answer- I assumed she replied to him psychically- but I knew what her answer would be. She was a great Pokemon, and my friend, and she wouldn’t make somebody else do something she felt was her responsibility. Flen said okay, and pushed open the door for her. Clara paused for a moment, silhouetted in the doorway by the light from the hallway, before walking into the dim light of the room and hopping into the other chair. I wasn’t sure what to say, and was still confused about earlier, so I just smiled at her and gave her time. Finally she started talking- actual words with sound, instead of the psychic voice. They sounded clumsy and unpracticed, but I knew why she spoke that way. It was the same reason she had flung trees at the Houndoom, or used the Quick Attack move on me earlier. Her psychic abilities couldn’t work on Dark Pokemon- I would never again hear her talk to me like she had when I was an Eevee.
“I’m sorry, Opal. For everything. What I’ve done, and what I couldn’t do.”
“It’s oka-“ I started, but Clara kept going.
“I didn’t want this to happen to you. I tried everything I could think of to stop it. The day we first met, I looked into the future, and… I saw this, saw you as an Umbreon, with Sara.” This was news to me- I didn’t even know that was possible, much less that she had done it- but I let her continue. “I didn’t want that to happen, didn’t want you to end up this way. Flen told me not to worry about what would happen, but I did anyways. I tried everything... I made sure you would be outside and in the sunlight during the day, instead of being left inside, hoping you might become an Espeon instead. I tried to keep you near Shells, thinking maybe being around water would make you a Vaporeon. Even when the Houndoom chased us, I was a little hopeful, thinking maybe his fire would cause you to evolve into a Flareon instead, or that being so far out in the forest would change you into a Leafeon… I wanted… anything but this, not for you. I didn’t mean to hurt you earlier, I just... didn’t want it to be true... I wanted so badly for you to really be somebody else. I was actually glad when I thought you were attacking me back, because that meant I was seeing some mean Pokemon that had kidnapped you, because then that would mean I could still...” She stopped and just stared down at the floor.
“Clara... look at me.” She looked back at me and I met her sad gaze with a smile. “When you saw me in the future, was I sad, or angry? Was I evil, destroying anything I could get close to?”
“I don’t know… no, I don’t think so. You were fighting alongside Sara, battling another trainer, a strong one, the strongest one, and you were winning… You had become a great team, and I could tell you cared about her… but… I’ll always remember the way you were when I first saw you, surprised but happy to see me, and so exhausted and tired, because you were being haunted by those jealous Murkrows. I know what you thought when you saw the Houndoom… I know about those dreams you had, of becoming an Espeon like me, with a trainer you could take care of and protect… and… now you can’t. You’re one of your nightmares, one of the Pokemon that caused you so many problems before. I didn’t want that… this… not for you.”
“Oh, Clara... It’s okay, it really is. I’m not mad at you. You’re my friend, and... I was confused and scared for a while, too.” I got up and walked towards her, nuzzling gently against her. “I think I was happy in the future, Clara, happier than I could ever be any other way. I think I didn’t evolve from those other things because I wasn’t meant to be an Espeon, or a Vaporeon, or anything else. I think I’ve always had a little bit of an Umbreon in me, just waiting to happen.”
Clara grimaced, and I could see tears slowly welling up in her eyes, and I felt my rings begin to glow in sympathy. “This isn’t a bad thing... I thought it was at first, and that’s why I ran and hid from everybody. I just knew that somehow I would end up hurting Sara if I went near her, but… being an Umbreon doesn’t mean that. It doesn’t make me like that Houndoom or that Haunter, or even those Murkrows that kept me awake back in the pet store. I’m still me. I’m just… more me, now. It means I can do more of what’s really important to me. You’re right- I did used to dream about being like you... and now I am. My dreams did come true, just not in the way I expected.”
I concentrated, my rings dimming from the effort, and the Flash materialized between us. It hissed and sputtered, a flat disk throwing a cool light into the room. It illuminated both of us, and Sara and the machines beeping beside her.
“I have a trainer like yours, who cares about me, who wants to play with me every day, who waits with me when I’m hurt, who’s happy every time she sees me... and I can protect her now, better than I could any other way. At night, when she can’t see what’s out there- when the Murkrows are being noisy, when a Houndoom is attacking the gym, when Haunters are plotting- I can see what’s out there. I can give her light, I can keep her safe. My trainer, and my friends, will always have somebody to watch over and protect them, even through the darkest nights. I was scared before about what you would think, or do to me when you found out, but… thinking about it now and what it really means? I’m not upset to be like this. I’m happy, Clara; this is what I really wanted.”
Clara was crying, but I nuzzled against her again, the Flash hanging above us. “I’m back with my trainer, and my friends; no matter what else has happened, that’s the important thing. Everything’s okay again, Clara.”
Time seemed to pass quickly after that, as the days settled into familiar patterns. Sara recovered quickly, and was awake and back on her feet the next day. She was thrilled to see me again, saying she had really missed me, and didn’t mind one bit that I was an Umbreon- she said she was happy I had evolved, and was only sad that she didn’t get to see it. I told her I was sorry, and promised I wouldn’t run away again, and that if I evolved again I would make sure she was there to see it. She laughed, and smiled, and we left the hospital with her dad and went home. Perry got a bundle of antidotes for everybody- some sort of spray, like the Potions, that they could use if they felt anything bad from the oils in my fur. It wasn’t that big of a problem most of the time- the oil was always present in my fur to some degree, but it was usually just a light enough coating that it gave me a nice sheen and didn’t bother anyone. When I was scared or angry I found that along with my rings glowing the oil would get thicker, and then it could cause problems. Sara stopped needing the antidotes completely by the fourth day, and Clara and Flen adapted about as quickly. Nobody else really touched me that much, but every once in a while somebody would need an antidote if they touched something I had been laying on for too long. I took to staying in the Pokeball more- I didn’t mind resting in a grassy spot, but the grass certainly did, and I would stain fabrics a blackish color. I didn’t mind the PokeBall though- even during the bright day it gave me a clear glimpse of the moon, and I quickly found that I always appreciated the sight of it.
I got to meet the Absol twice. The first time he just showed up at the gym’s clearing and watched me work for a few minutes, then nodded and said “You’ll do.” It was an odd encounter, and made my fur stand on end- but the rest of the gym told me it was to be expected from the unusual Pokemon. He left after that- drawn somewhere east, mentioning only something about a ship sinking to Flen. I met him again as he was saying goodbye to Flen- I knew a thing or two about Dark Pokemon, being one myself now, and knew he would leave at night. I had to know, had to be sure, so I asked him why he had come to town. He answered that it was to stop just the three of them- the Haunter, the Houndoom, and the Honchkrow. His answer relieved me, giving me extra assurance that I really wasn’t an evil Pokemon, that my beliefs about myself were true. He told me more about the odd energized feelings I kept getting, too. He said I was picking up on heavy emotions, something that was at the core of Dark Pokemon. We sensed feelings, like psychic Pokemon sensed thoughts, and that the emotions we were surrounded by fueled our abilities, though in my case I could also draw strength from the moon. That was how his ability to sense disasters worked- his sense of feelings was so developed that even before it happened, he could sense the of pain and hurt that would follow a disaster. He explained that the strange feeling I had gotten in the hospital and other areas had been my sense of others fear and sorrow, or their joy and relief, and drawing strength from those feelings.
I thanked him and wished him good luck, and he left after that- but I knew even as I said it that his life would keep him drawn to bad luck. Still, he had removed one of my fears, and for that I was grateful. It was a silly fear, but one that had bothered me a little bit despite what I had told Clara, so I was glad to hear that I wasn’t a part of the disaster he had sensed.
I asked a few of the other Pokemon about Sinori, but nobody seemed to know about her. I asked Sara about her poster- a picture on her wall of a golden Ninetales- and if anybody in town had one, but she said that nobody she knew had one. She didn’t seem to like talking about Ninetales with me- I could tell she had really liked the thought of having a Ninetales one day, and that she didn’t want me to become jealous or feel like she didn’t want me, so I didn’t bring it up again after that. I asked Clara and Shells about the poster too, but neither of them knew of a Ninetales in town. I eventually gave up and assumed she had left town, maybe even following after the Absol... but I had no way to be sure. I don’t know why, but I felt like it would be wrong to tell anything more about her. What she had told me was for me, and it was a private conversation we shared. Maybe somebody could have found a trace of her… but I doubted it. Somehow I knew that I hadn’t seen the last of her, and that we would end up meeting again someday.
I met the Honchkrow again too. Feren told me that Todd had captured it at some point, and that it wanted to apologize. I wasn’t sure to say, but the bird seemed to sincerely regret all the problems he had caused. He explained that he and Houndoom had been starving when Haunter had come to them, and that they had followed him because he promised and provided ways to get food... but the Honchkrow had always hated the problems he had caused, and was glad he didn’t have to be that way anymore, and was so sorry for everything he had done. Part of me didn’t want to believe him, and just saw the inconsiderate Murkrows from the pet store... but in the end I forgave him. I had seen for myself how easy it was to become confused, and the Honchkrow seemed so happy to have Todd as a trainer. He and Todd left for a few days after, mentioning only something about feeding some hungry Mareep, and when they came back he pitched in where he could with rebuilding the gym. I never really became friends with him, but I was able to work with him at points, and the other Pokemon took that as a sign they could forgive him as well.
When I think about it, even though I can’t explain why, I’m actually glad the Honchkrow met up with Todd. They both seem happy, and... for some reason it feels like it was supposed to end up that way.
Sara and I were apart much more than I wished, but I had expected that. Humans lived by the sunlight, and so she had to sleep at night to be ready for school early in the morning. I started sleeping while she was at school- it gave me long hours to myself at night, but it meant we were together when I woke up in the afternoon, and again when she woke up in the morning. I could tell Sara’s parents were a little uncomfortable with me prowling the house at night, so I spent most of the night outside. I wasn’t able to open doors like Clara could, but when the night fell or the moon shone, energy rushed into me, and walls meant little to me. Clara told me it was a Dark ability used for moves called ‘Faint Attack’ and ‘Pursuit’, and with it I could pass through any barrier or screen to reach my target. Depending on how I used the ability I would always hit my target, even if the Pokemon was running away into a Pokeball.
Some nights I used the ability to just be alone, wandering the city, but I would visit Perry and Tule most times. Of all the other Pokemon, I felt Tule was the most like me, even counting the Honchkrow- and it wasn’t unusual for the two of us to just sit in a clearing and watch the moon, lost in the light and power it brought to each of us.
During the afternoon, when we weren’t working on the gym, Sara and I still attended Flen’s class. We didn’t have a building anymore, but we still held class near where the gym was being rebuilt. Most of the time we listened to a trainer give advice and watched as the other trainers worked with their Pokemon to rebuild the gym. Three other students joined the class- though only one of them had a Pokemon, a young Mareep that was sadly scared to death of me. As a group we would battle against each other or help another trainer in a mock battle (though Flen never paired me against the Mareep), or participated in races or other things designed to help train us. The rest of the time Sara and John worked together to do random tasks throughout town, like delivering mail or tracking down lost items. Flen said it would be good practice, though he never explained what the practice was actually for.
I wasn’t too happy working with John at first… but after a while John changed. He started taking much better care of his Growlithe, whom he finally named Kenth. Maybe it was there in John all along… but I liked to think I helped at least a little. When something like an Umbreon comes out of a corner you knew was empty, and then just sits and silently stares at you with blood red eyes… well, it can be unnerving, and can cause some hilarious reactions. John started keeping his Growlithe with him all the time- or at least he did at night- and somewhere along the line it clicked that he should take better care of the one thing protecting him from Sara’s ‘nightmarish Umbreon’. Everyone kept telling me I could scare people if I wasn’t careful- so I didn’t see any reason not to make that work for me if it could help keep a friend safe. Even one as pounce happy as Grow- as Kenth.
More and more it seemed that that was what it meant to be an Umbreon- taking what others would see as a drawback or a problem and turning it to my trainer’s advantage. Flen caught on to that, too- he teamed me up with Tule, Chuck, and Taran, and the four of us helped work on the gym at night. We weren’t able to bring as much sheer power to the job as Obsidian or Shells, but each of us were well suited for precise work in little to no light. With me there- well, I was a nightlight, giving them enough light to see by no matter how dark the night. I got better with the Flash move, too, and after a while it was strong enough for even the dayshift Pokemon to work safely at night- something I was happier about than they were. Most of what the four of us did involved threading cords of some kind throughout the new building- a lot of power cords needed to go through a lot of dark, cramped places- and we had a lot of fun doing it. School ended for Sara about a week before the gym was finished, but she still had trouble staying up or working at night, so she stayed close to her usual schedule, only staying awake an extra hour or two.
Clara and I still saw a lot of each other- which I hadn’t expected. There was enough of an overlap between our schedules that we ended up spending a few hours each day together working on the gym, and once or twice a week one of us would stay up a few hours later. It was interesting to watch Clara at night, since we both had the same main problems- the temperature and the lighting- but for completely different reasons. While my fur was warm and dense, made for withstanding the cool night air, Clara’s fur was lighter, made for reflecting heat during the day. Clara’s eyes were wonderful at picking out colors or details in bright light, while mine worked better at spotting movements or reflections with only the light from the moon or my own rings. During the day I was hot and everything was too bright, but at night Clara was cold and could barely see anything. Neither of us complained while we were together, though- the two of us became even closer friends, and each thought the discomfort was well worth it if it meant the other’s company. It was rare, but some of my best nights were when Tule and I watched the moon, while Clara slept safely nearby.
The day finally came when the gym was finished- Sara woke me up in the middle of the day, saying Flen wanted us to go to the gym. The whole town was there, with more people than I’d ever seen crowding together, including the mayor. Flen shook hands with her and cut some sort of tape, and then everybody went inside, the massive crowd somehow managing to fit into the rebuilt stadium. The gym was designed to be mostly the same, but it was larger and had been reinforced in some places, with pillars providing a new dynamic to the field. Flen had liked that idea, saying that trainers had to worry about the environment just as much as the opposing Pokemon. I tried to stay awake but it was hard, and Sara had to nudge me awake a few times. Finally the guests left, the ceremony finished, and it was just the regulars of the gym. Then Flen had everybody sit in the bleachers, saying it was time for the first match of the new gym.
“Todd, Sara? You’re up.” Sara smiled at me and said “Surprise!” I followed her down onto the field, facing off against Todd and Feren. Feren just grinned at me- a friendly smile, more of happiness for us instead of eagerness for a fight. The fight began, and I fought hard, following each of Sara’s directions and pushing myself with every attack and dodge. The new layout gave me a definite advantage over Feren- Sara caught on quickly and had me jump out from behind cover to throw out a confuse ray, or slip from pillar to pillar using their shadows. The strategy worked wonders, disorienting and tiring out the stronger and more experienced Nidorino. Feren managed to get a few attacks in- he was still much faster and stronger than me, and could get in a nasty Fury or Horn Attack before I dashed away from him. After what seemed forever the fight ended- I hit Feren from behind with a Faint Attack, and the exhausted Nidorino collapsed to the ground, defeated. Todd called Feren back to his Pokeball and shook hands with Sara, congratulating her.
After that, Perry and John had a match, with Kenth and Felix fighting. Watching Felix fight scared me a little- the cat was utterly vicious, biting and slashing relentlessly at the Growlithe. The attacks seemed like they were hurting him a lot more than they would have hurt me, and I felt a little sorry for the fire puppy. John and Kenth got in a few hits of their own, even burning Felix with a Flame Wheel attack- but in the end Perry won the fight, the Growlithe collapsing under Felix’s continual assault.
Everybody congratulated the four of us after that- John and Sara had graduated from Flen’s class, and were now both official Pokemon trainers. Each trainer there gave them something- jackets, backpacks designed with special pockets for the different items a trainer would need, even a phone with a built-in Pokedex. Flen gave them a small rectangular box with a shiny piece of metal inside. Clara explained it was the gym’s badge- that even though they hadn’t beaten Flen in a fight they had still earned it, having learned all this gym could teach.
A few other trainers fought after that- having seen the way Sara and I had used the pillars they all wanted to try it- but we stayed in the stands for the rest of the visit. I sat in the floor of the bleachers and hid from the lights while Sara and John talked. I listened a little but it was hard- they were talking about leaving and going on to another gym to train, to take the gym challenges. I didn’t really want to leave. I had friends here, other Pokemon that I would miss. But Sara’s excitement at the adventure was obvious, and as they discussed their plans I grew torn, wanting to be happy for her, looking forward to the adventures we would soon be having... but not wanting to leave my friends behind either. Finally it grew to be too much, and I used my Dark ability to slip away. I dissolved into the shadows that covered me, emerging an instant later outside the gym. The sun was just beginning to set into the horizon, and I stretched out at the top of the stairs to watch it. Todd had been very determined to put stairs in place leading up to the new gym, saying that Pokemon should at least be able to climb a few stairs before challenging a gym leader.
I hadn’t appreciated the way he grinned at me when he said that.
The landing before the stairs was comfortable though, and it made for a great view. For a while I just sat and thought, watching the town as the sun set. Eventually I realized someone was behind me- I wasn’t the only one who could sneak up on people. “Hi Opal.”
I turned to look at Clara, smiling. She was watching the sunset too but looked distracted, and her tail twitched slowly back and forth. “Hi Clara.”
“Are you excited? Sara’s a real trainer now.”
I turned away from her, back to the sunset. “I am… but… I’m sad, too. She’s already planning how she’ll get to the next gym with John... but I don’t know that I want to leave. If we leave… then I won’t be able to see any of you.”
Clara shook her head, but it was slow, as if she really agreed with me but had to say no. “That’s not true... or at least, it won’t be that way forever. Sara will have to come back a little bit in a few months for school, and even then she might come back before then. A lot of trainers for whatever reason stop and go back to their home town, or reach their limit and can’t go on any further..”
“Maybe… but I don’t think that will happen. Sara and John… I don’t see them stopping until they finish. Sara wants to be a great trainer one day. I want to help her be one, too.”
“Yeah… and with you… Sara’s off to a good start already. It might be a long time before she stops.” I heard the sadness in her voice, and realized she had been thinking the same things I had. Probably for even longer than me.
“She might even end up being a gym leader one day, like Flen is. Can a city have two gym leaders?” I turned and looked at her and her expression told me the answer- no. She turned to watch the sunset and was quiet for a time before speaking again.
“All of us are going to miss you, Opal. Did you notice Tule wasn’t here today? She wouldn’t leave her Pokeball once she heard what was going to happen, not even to watch you battle. Perry didn’t want to force her to watch you leave, so he let her stay there. Shells and Feren were better, but they were both sad. Chuck and Taran will be upset too; there aren’t many Pokemon here that like the night, and they really liked working with you. Obsidian and Skarmory both said they hadn’t seen enough of you, but they’re glad you’re moving ahead.” Clara paused before speaking again, and her voice broke. “I’m going to miss you, too.”
Clara and I sat together in silence as the last rays of the sun vanished. As the darkness claimed the sky I turned to look at the Espeon, my rings beginning to glow. “What should we do, then?”
She met my gaze and smiled, and her jewel glittered. “We stand by our trainers, like we always do. We take care of them, do our best for their sakes… and know that in the end, they’ll make sure to take care of us too. We’ll see each other again, Opal, I know it; you just need to be sure to enjoy the adventure until then.”
I nodded, knowing on some level that it was already what I had decided to do. I wasn’t an Eevee anymore. I was the moon, a little bit of peace and security for my trainer. And Clara was right- I knew Sara cared about me, and that my friends were her friends too, and that somewhere down the line she would bring me back to be with my friends again. Leaving my home with Sara and John might hurt a little… but it was an adventure, and I would enjoy it with Sara.
I nodded again, smiling, and walked closer to sit beside Clara, her tail curling around mine as we both looked out at the horizon. The sun had set and the moon wasn’t yet out - but there, outside the gym, the sun and the moon sat together, looking forward to the days that lay ahead.
As you can tell, this is listed as part one of Sara's story, and yes, I have begun writing a second story to follow this one. At this point I do not know when it will be completed or ready for uploading (though if you read this far, please check out 'Another Eevee's Story' which should show as part of the series), but I did want to say that while this is where Opal's story stops, there will be more in this story to follow. Again, a big thank you to everybody who left kudos and comments, and thank you to all who read this- I appreciate the time you spent, and I hope you enjoyed it. :)
Edit: Recently I discovered a few of the images were missing. I have moved the pictures to photobucket in the hope that it will be a bit more reliable, but if you read through and some of the chapters did not have an illustration with them, that should be fixed now.