A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVI: Ladybirds and Gentlemen

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Who would you like to go with?
– Help Stacey find a Bug Pokémon that’s rare in Kanto.

Once everything is settled, Ellis has elected to follow Dane and look for battles with wild Pokémon while doing general exploration, and you have volunteered to search out some unusual Bug Pokémon with Stacey. Rather than join either pair, Abner decides to stay at the group’s base camp so he can try his experimental evolution ideas on his own.  Sticking to the ground, you can see tell-tale signs that the vegetation has been invigorated by the presence of wild Grass Pokémon, and occasionally you spot intriguing blackened marks near the base of tree trunks that look to you like electrical burns.  If you want to find different Bug-types, though, you suspect you’ll need to get off the ground and into the treetops.  You’re not much of a climber, and Stacey is only a little better, but using Scallion’s Vine Whips and Aura’s String Shot, you’re able to create makeshift ropes and nets that help you up into the highest trees without breaking your fragile child necks.  Of course, you make an awful racket in the process, and you can tell there are Pokémon fleeing just out of your sight, but once you get used to what you’re doing, you can move from one treetop to the next with surprising ease, thanks to the interlaced branches of Viridian Forest’s dense canopy.  You suggest focusing on trees with sweet berries and listening carefully for the low-pitched hum of Bug Pokémon wings; Stacey catches on pretty quickly and leads the way.  After half an hour picking your way through the upper levels of the forest, you stumble into a tree filled with red, black-spotted beetle Pokémon, which you vaguely recognise as Ledyba.

Most of the Ledyba fly away when you disturb them, but one stands its ground, and Stacey’s Caterpie hops off her shoulder to battle it.  Caterpie aren’t naturally tree Pokémon, Ledyba’s ability to fly makes it difficult to hit, and even keeping track of the battle or giving commands is awkward while all of you are perched on high branches, but Stacey has trained her Caterpie well.  After a few false starts, it nails Ledyba with a good String Shot and tethers it to a branch, leaving it vulnerable to a Tackle.  After a brief exchange of Tackles, Stacey throws a Pokéball, which sucks in the Ledyba and falls from the branches to the forest floor. “Whoops,” she says with a shrug, then has Caterpie secure some silk to a branch and swings down to the ground.  By the time you pick your way back down to the base of the tree, displaying considerably less grace and confidence, she has already confirmed the capture and let her new Ledyba out to take a look at it.  She and Ellis both carry first aid kits (come to think of it, maybe you should do that) and she’s ready with a bandage to patch the Pokémon up if need be, but she quickly establishes that it’s only suffered bruises.  She recalls it so it can rest up, and you set off back the way you came.

On the way back to camp, you get to talking about the dynamics of their friend group.  Stacey kind of dragged her twin brother Dane into their little expeditions mostly because she wanted them to spend more time together, but has also been pleasantly surprised by how well he’s taken to Pokémon training.  Weedle brings out a warm, nurturing side to him that she hasn’t seen before (which makes sense; y’know, she doesn’t say this out loud but they’re siblings so you can pretty much assume they mostly address one another as “butthead”).  She seems weirdly chatty about her brother, and you intuit that she’s avoiding conversation about the other two.  With a little prodding, you convince her to tell you why: apparently Stacey kind of fancies Abner, their cheery, creative and personable “leader,” but has avoided saying anything because she suspects that Ellis is also into him and she doesn’t want to create drama.  The three of them have been friends for a long time, and she also admires Ellis for his kindness and intelligence, but he’s always been hard to read and reticent to talk about his feelings.

When you return to base camp in the afternoon, the other bug catchers are so excited to get a look at Stacey’s new Pokémon you could swear they have fireworks stuffed up their butts.  Or I could swear that, anyway; you probably don’t have that kind of imagination.  Which… y’know, now that I put it that way, is honestly for the best.  The others have had a productive few hours, but apparently nothing this exciting.  Whatever idea Abner had to accelerate his Pokémon’s evolution, it hasn’t borne fruit (“not yet,” he insists), and Ellis apparently convinced Dane to let Weedle run through some of the same training exercises as Ellis’ Beedrill (minus the flying parts).  The training has gotten Ellis much more animated than you’ve seen him so far, and he suggests finishing out the afternoon with a casual tournament, promising to battle with his Metapod so the others have a decent shot at victory.  Stacey wants to make sure Ledyba is rested first, but is eager to try out her new Pokémon; Dane seems to feel like he and Weedle are on a roll; and Abner is up for anything exciting.

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