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Turning 10

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Up in his sparsely furnished room Max is snoring in bed, blissfully unaware that his alarm clock had long since gone off. His black curly hair lays messily on the pillow, the comforter half on, half off his body. A bit of drool drips from the corner of his mouth as he lightly tosses and turns.

Meanwhile downstairs David is sipping his coffee at the dining room table, the distinct sound of his newspaper rustling as he turns it is overpowered by a rapid knocking at the front door. Putting the paper down, he places his hands on his knees getting up, making his way through the living room replying gleefully, in a natural yet slightly raised tone. “Coming, be right there,” as to be heard through the door.

Opening the door, he greets Neil and Nikki. “Come on in you two,” he cheerfully says, smiling while inviting his neighbor's kids into his home, a not to uncommon occurrence.

Both Neil and Nikki rush in past David, observing this David feels a sense of urgency from them, briefly furrowing his brow curiously, he's puzzled by their hasty demeanor but that is quickly clarified by Neil.

“Where the hell is Max!” Neil yells, in an agitated tone. “We're going to be late!” He continues, flailing his arms up in the air dramatically.

“Language,” David says, folding his arms sternly. “I think he's still sleeping, what are you guys going to be late for?”

Bouncing on the balls of her feet. “We going to the Quartermaster's Lab to get our very first pokemon and start our journey!” Nikki elaborates, bursting with excitement.

Taking a moment to look at them that he could not before, David notes their attire jeans, boots, light coats and backpacks, Nikki’s being sizably larger than Neil’s. “Oh right, was that today, he never tells me anything. I'll go get him.” David says, a slight hint of worry and concern escapes in his voice.

Going up stairs to Max's bedside, he lightly nudges the sleeping boy. “Today's the day Max, your friends are waiting for you.” David says softly.

Stirring awake Max's eyes dart open, panic overcomes him. “Fuck, why didn't you wake me up sooner?” he tiredly groans out, throwing over his covers, he jumps out of bed stumbling, falling to the floor in his PJ's. In his dazed confusion he bolts from his room in just a t-shirt and underwear.

Forgetting in his haste or more than likely Max was only paying half attention to what David said, he runs down stair to throw things in his backpack not even realizing they have company.

Tossing essentials in his backpack Max hears a creak of a floor board behind him, whipping his head around, he sees Nikki and Neil standing there a few feet away. Getting to his feet Max mutters. “Shit,” bending his knees inward while covering himself, bashfully. Embarrassed he apologies. “Sorry, I slept in.” a faint hint of pink is dusted on his cheeks.

It wasn't like Max to be so modest normally he wouldn't care if Neil or Nikki seen him in his underwear but Max hasn't been feeling like his normal self, things are changing he's more self-conscious now especially around Neil.

Running back up stairs passing David going down Max quickly gets dressed putting on jeans and his blue hoodie, running back down stairs he heaves his backpack over shoulder. “Alright, let's go.”

The three begin to leave but are interrupted by David. “Oh Maaaax.”

“What!” Max spat, turning around in frustration.

David just holds up his son's running shoes in silence.

Max looks down realizing he's still only in his socks. Going over to David he swipes the shoes from his grasp. “Thanks…. Dad.” Max mutters, giving David a quick hug, before bolting out the front door with Nikki and Neil.

All racing each other they make it to the Quartermaster's lab in no time. Bursting through the door Nikki and Neil's father greets them having Socrates guide them to the professor.

Their collective jubilant excitement is palpable, walking down a long corridor Socrates explains the duties of filling out the rotom pokedex. Neil just facepalms as it's really just his and Nikki's father trying is ventriloquism, keyword trying.

“Here we are.” Socrates exclaims, opening the door with his mouth.

Max, Neil and Nikki's intense anticipation and enthusiasm turn starkly to horror and confusion. Their mouths agape at the bloody frightening scene in front of them.

The QM is cutting into a dead Tauros, it's bovine blood all over the QM’s apron and gloves. Organs being weighed, limbs detached.

Neil shrieks. “Quartermaster, what the fuck!”

Taking off his gloves and apron. “That's Professor Pines to you, boy.” he retorts.

“Ford Pines?” Neil questions.

“No relation, now follow me.” he grunts out. Leaving, followed closely by Max.

Halting his advance. “Wait you're not going to explain any that!” Max intervenes, wanting answers to what is seemingly the mutilation of a innocent pokemon. Getting out of there as soon as possible Max is able to maintain his composure and keeps himself from hurling his lunch to save face infront of his friends.

“I'm a professor that studies pokemon that includes dissections when they die.”

“You killed it?!” Nikki angrily accuses.

“No, I'm not a monster jeez, it passed due to old age,” the much older man sounds clearly offended, entering another room he continues. “They should be in here, where did the little bastards go.”

“Wow, you are such a shitty professor.” Max says, with bitterness thoroughly depressed and annoyed.

“Yea, how can you lose your pokemon?” Neil adds, equally pissed off.

“You should treat them better.” Nikki points out, with an air of disgust in her attitude.

“Look, just help me find them.” Professor Pines says gruffly, annoyed that he's taking shit from ten year olds.

Nikki quickly distracted from her mild disgust shouts. “Finders keepers!”

The three friends begin to search the rather large room, having a loft and ample floor space they spread out. Neil and Max look on the first floor while Nikki climbs the ladder up to the loft to look there.

Neil scours the entertainment area and finds a mysterious substance oozing from the back of the TV. Investigating it further he pokes it with his finger only to have it rapidly engulf his hand, surprised by the sudden attack, Neil freaks out whipping his hand around violently, flinging the yellowish blob of goo to the hardwood floor. It's appearance is reminiscence of a liquid metallic ditto.

Neil immediately feels bad for splattering it on the ground watching it obviously cower in fear. “Hey there buddy,” he says softly as he kneels down to it, the emoji of fear appears on it's face O_O before it flees into a speaker. “Oh, so you like electronics, me too little guy.” Neil then holds out his 3DS offering it to the creature. It responds with a basic facial expressions of an emoji. ^_^ again not unlike a ditto.

The electric type amorphous ball of plasma gel attaches itself to his 3DS charging it fully and nearly instantaneously.

Now to Nikki in the loft, she slowly creeps closer to the spare bed in the loft that has a literal sleeping bear cub on it, teeth and claws and all. The snoozing bear is covered in leafs like scales on a fish, they grow from it's skin along with a flower bud for a tail. She carefully gets in bed with it making no sudden moves, letting her very presence wake up the cub, with her by it's side the leaf covered bear sniff and licks her nose and with Nikki being Nikki she does the same in turn, the two bond instantly.

Meanwhile Max has cornered a small red-eyed rabbit. Laying on the floor he reaches his hand underneath dresser where the little duel colored rabbit is, using the flickering light emanating from its cotton ball tail which is on fire to guide his hand to the creature, suddenly he feels a sharp pain in his finger, recoiling from it. “Ah, the fucker bit me!” Max seethes angrily, gripping his hand. The bunny's large front incisors aren't just for show. The tiny hare scurries out from the dresser hopping into the arms of the Quartermaster. “Come back here, you're mine you little shit.” Max says, giving chase to the small lit furry creature.

While in the arms of the QM Max gets a better look at his first pokemon. It's a rabbit like creature half white on the left half black on the right from pink nose to puffy tail much like a gynandromorph with a cute cotton ball tail that's ablaze with a blue flame. It's piercing red eyes stairs into the soul.

Nikki comes down the ladder with her new friend in tow. “Awe, Max your pokemon is so cute!” She beams. “But not as cute as mine!” She continues like it's some sort of competition. While holding up her little baby bear with pride, it yawns adorably, the thing probably weighs almost as much as her.

Max pouts disappointedly. “He's not cute, he's badass, look his tail is on fire!” annoyed at the accusation that his one is more cute than cool.

Neil interrupts. “Yeah, like the tail being on fire hasn't been done before.” he says, rolling his eyes in a almost sassy way.

“Shut up, it has blue fire...it matches my hoodie,” Max feel an odd sense of responsibility for the creature, a need to defend it. “Look it's feisty to it's already drawn blood.” He points out giving Neil the middle finger that does indeed have some blood running down it.

“Enough!” Professor Pines shouts, breaking up the petty arguing. “I'll take the liberty of introducing you three,” Just then the beady scarlet eyed rabbit hops from the professor's arms into the hood on the back of Max nestling and its new home, catching the quartermaster off guard. “Humf, that's odd Pyronny really doesn't take a liking to anybody, it's a normal, fire type.” Moving on to Neil. “And this pile of shit is Voltcury obviously it's an electric type.”

“Duh.” Neil says flatly, ignoring the causal insult while Voltcury expresses annoyance -_-.

The Quartermaster just angrily squints his eyes at the boy but moves on wanting to get this over with. “And finally you, little missy you found Florursa, a grass type.” turning around the QM rifles through a drawer.

Nikki's eyes glisten now knowing her pokemon's name. “Florursa you and me are going to be best friends forever!” She proclaims, happily nuzzling her furry… leafy friend.

Turning back around the professor hands them several pokeballs each and kicks them out of the lab, starting them on their journey.

Before our trio leaves the town they hear someone shouting at them in the distance. Low and behold it's David. “Max! Wait!”

“What dad.” Max spits impatiently.

“I wanted to give this.” David hands over a container.

“What is this a shitty bottle?” Max says looking down at it.

“No, it my first canteen that I got when I started my pokemon journey when I was 10 it has always brought me good luck, I want you to have it.”

“Ah thanks I guess.” Max mutters, not really being the overly sentimental type.

“Oh and here's a back up toothbrush, underwear some deodorant who knows when you'll be taking another shower.”

Pyronny sensing Max getting flustered and embarrassed, uses ember setting patches of David's shirt on fire.

A fiendish smirk comes across Max's face. “I'm starting to like you Pyronny,” Max says, giggling a little bit, petting the pure snow white and black as pitch back of Pyronny while watching his father frantically pat out the flames. “I'll be fine David what parent isn't okay with sending their 10 year old child into the wilderness to essentially dogfight with other children, God get with the program.”

The reality of the situation certainly doesn't help David and his anxiety, being rot with worry but he knows it's time for his little pidgey to leave the nest and fly on his own.

David sighs deeply. “Well you have my number if you need anything, I love you be safe and eat well.” He says, waving goodbye as they are walking away.

The three take their first steps on to route 1, the journey they all have been waiting for has begun.

How will they fare against the harsh realities of the cruel, unforgiving Pokemon world.