[Catch up on the story so far here!]
Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:
How do you deal with the poachers?
– Use your Bug Pokémon to create snares and set up an ambush.
If you get into a fight, which Pokémon will you use?
– Scallion, the Bulbasaur
– Nancy the Negator, the Minun
[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: Nancy can cheer for our other Pokémon from the sidelines, so let’s have Scallion take point.]
You think about the problem for a minute. Yeah, all things considered, Dane has a point; the five of you with all your Pokémon probably could take these clowns with a good battle plan, even if they do turn out to be a bit stronger than you individually. But why risk it? You all have Bug Pokémon that can spin silk (except maybe Ellis? You glance at him questioningly and he confirms that, yes, his Beedrill is still young enough to remember String Shot) – you can use them to create nets and webs, string them up between the trees, then lure the poachers into a trap. With any luck, you won’t even have to fight.
Stacey sends her new Ledyba up a nearby tree with instructions to watch the poachers, come after you if they seem to be doing something, and fire off a Supersonic cry if it needs backup. The rest of you retreat further back into the woods so you won’t be overheard while you prepare. Once you’re confident you can speak normally without attracting attention, you pick an ambush spot – a hollow between three big oak trees, with three obvious approaches that you can trap. Abner and Dane are both good with knots, and between them they can apparently craft a spring-loaded net trap that will wrap someone in a bag and hoist them into the air like a drunk Weepinbell with one vine caught in a ceiling fan. Stacey suggests blocking off one entrance to your bolthole with a web like the ones the Ariados use. And of course there’s always the simple tripwire. Abner’s Metapod and Kakuna, Stacey’s Caterpie, Dane’s Weedle, Ellis’ Beedrill and your Silcoon, Aura, all start spitting silk. The threads aren’t as fine, strong or sticky as the Ariados silk you saw yesterday, but they’ll do. Ellis wonders out loud why the Ariados couldn’t do this themselves. He has a point; they clearly want these poachers gone (with good reason, by the looks of it) and they’re certainly intelligent, with a leader who could coordinate and plan an operation like this. Maybe they just don’t want to risk themselves in a fight. You all busy yourselves preparing the traps, humming and chatting while you work.
Once your traps are ready, Stacey creeps back towards the clearing to retrieve her Ledyba. Meanwhile you perch all your other Bug Pokémon, except for Beedrill, on convenient branches where they’ll be obscured from view by leaves but still have a decent vantage to fire more entangling silk at anyone who gets caught by your traps. When Stacey returns with Ledyba, she winks and tells all of you to plug your ears. You oblige, and she orders a brain-curdling Supersonic from her Pokémon, directed back the way she just came and sustained for over a full minute. Apparently satisfied that she’s gotten the poachers’ attention, Stacey pets Ledyba on the head, praises it for a job well done, and returns it to its Pokéball for a (now much-needed) rest. Only seconds later, you hear voices and boots crashing through undergrowth.
“No, it definitely came from over here! It must have been something huge to make a sound that loud!”
“Then how could it get through all these trees without leaving some kind of trail, Ned?”
“Uh, guys, what if it’s a really dangerous Pokémon and we can’t-”
“Shut up, Kevin! Just stay to my left and if you run into something you can’t handle, try to scream pitifully before you die! Ned, you go that way!”
“Got it!” That voice is starting to get close. All the bug catchers make eye contact with their Pokémon, carefully positioned around your trapped hollow, and nod in unspoken communion. You look down at Scallion, still at your side, and he gives you a reassuring grin. A moment later, through the trees, you see one of the poachers from before – the man whose name must be Ned. It takes him another few seconds to see you, stomping through the bushes of the forest floor and angrily swatting aside vines and fern leaves. Those few seconds do not go well for him. He’s almost on top of you when he looks up, straight between two of the big oaks. His face goes blank in confusion, then his eyes narrow… then he squawks in surprise as a silken net springs up from the ground beneath him, making him lose his footing and yanking him suddenly into the air.
“Now!” Abner yells, and his Metapod and Kakuna both fire String Shots directly at Ned. Already startled and dangling upside-down from a branch, he’s powerless to pull the threads off himself and is rapidly cocooned in sticky silk.
“Kelly!” he yells, in between barrages of increasingly vibrant curses. “Backup, now!” To your right, there is a loud crash as the other male poacher, Kevin, stumbles over a tripwire strung between two trees and rolls head-over-heels into the midst of your group, then lies flat on his back moaning in pain. Gracefully somersaulting out of nowhere, the woman (“Kelly,” you suppose) lands next to him and quickly glances about, taking in your faces and Ned’s hopelessly cocooned form.
“Get up, you idiot,” she says, kicking Kevin contemptuously, then locks eyes with you. “So, a bunch of kids who think they can tangle with Team Rocket? You’ve bitten off more than you can chew.” Kevin forlornly staggers to his feet, glances at Kelly, then starts to speak.
“Uh- to- to protect the world from-”
“Infect, you moron, it’s infect– argh! We don’t have time for this,” she snarls at him. “Get your Pokémon out and smoke these twerps! Ekans, Drowzee, let’s hustle!” She throws two Pokéballs in the air, and they burst open to release her Pokémon, a hissing purple serpent and a plump golden-skinned humanoid with a stubby trunk. Kevin scrambles for the single Pokéball at his belt.
“Oh! Right! Uh, Zubat! Go!” Kevin’s Pokémon, an eyeless flapping thing with leathery purple wings and sharp, sparkling fangs, flits around his head waiting for orders. Wordlessly, you let Nancy out of her Pokéball as well; to her credit, she takes in the situation instantly and starts up an animated, lively cheer.
“I’ll take the flier,” Ellis says to you. Without waiting for an answer, he starts to issue rapidfire commands to his Beedrill, who instantly darts behind Kevin’s poor Zubat and strikes it with both stingers. Before you have a chance to gauge the impact of the attack, you hear Kelly shout attack commands to her Pokémon – both directed at Scallion, who narrowly dodges a volley of poisonous darts from Ekans, only to catch Drowzee’s eye and become mesmerised by its mystical gestures. With a snap of its fingers, the Drowzee hurls an invisible wave of force that bowls Scallion over, and Ekans rears up, baring its teeth and preparing to strike while you’re helpless.
“Oh, no you don’t!” Stacey snaps, then looks over at Dane. “Hey, butthead, wonder twin time!” Dane just nods firmly and, in unison, they order String Shots from Caterpie and Weedle that catch Drowzee square in the face, ruining its concentration and letting Scallion shake himself free. With a string of staccato monosyllables, in time with Nancy’s cheers, you have Scallion lash out at Ekans with both his vines, left, right, right again, left, then pop a Leech Seed. Kelly and Ekans react quickly and try to close the distance between the two Pokémon to catch Scallion in a full-body Wrap, but her attention is divided trying to get Drowzee to swat aside Stacey and Dane’s Pokémon. Scallion’s Leech Seed hits home, Ekans’ movements slow, and a stiff Tackle ends with it being trampled beneath your Bulbasaur’s charge. Just as Drowzee manages to clear its eyes and begin a new Psychic attack, Scallion is able to finish it with a double Vine Whip jab to the face. Glancing back to Ellis and Kevin, you see the poacher forlornly holding up his wounded Zubat, dangling by one wing, and trying to gently slap it back to consciousness. Beedrill looks tired and battered, but still able to keep fighting.
Kelly recalls both of her Pokémon and looks around wildly. She starts to make a move for the tree Ned is dangling from – but stops short when she realises that, while everyone else has been occupied with the battle, Abner and his Metapod have taken the opportunity to secure his cocoon with another half-dozen thick cables of silk, all anchored to different trees. Kelly turns back to Kevin, who has sunk to his knees and is lamely trying to coax his Zubat to do something.
“…screw this. You’re on your own, loser; I’m blasting off!” Dane and Stacey aim String Shots, but before their Pokémon can fire, Kelly has backflipped into the underbrush, spun on her heel and dashed off into the forest, faster than you can follow. Ellis looks ready to send Beedrill after her, but thinks better of it.
After a moment spent frantically scanning your surroundings, not quite sure whether another threat might be about to appear, all of you breathe sighs of relief – and triumph. You’ve beaten your enemies and taken two prisoners! Well… one prisoner, and one Kevin, who seems pretty out-of-it, honestly. Obviously your first priority now has to be getting back to the poachers’ camp and freeing all those Pokémon, but what else is on your mind?