[Catch up on the story so far here!]
Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:
What do you do with your prisoners?
– Restrain Kevin so you can drag them both to the authorities.
You all take a moment to revel in your victory and high-five each other before doing anything else. You’ve got time; Ned is already pretty securely tied up, and Kevin… well, Kevin’s still moping over his unconscious Zubat. Poor guy seems like he’s having some kind of breakdown. Abner has his Pokémon start spinning more silk, and you help him tie up Kevin and attach some extra leads to Ned’s cocoon so you can drag him along the ground behind you. Meanwhile Stacey and Ellis tend to the injuries the Pokémon have suffered – including Zubat. You aren’t sure about the ethics of confiscating the loyal Pokémon of criminal trainers, and you don’t want to risk Ned’s Pokémon trying to fight you if you let them out, so you get Kevin to recall his Zubat and decide to let the police in Pewter City sort it out once you get there. Neither Kevin nor Ned seem to be in any mood to talk (even if Ned’s mouth weren’t muffled by the silk), and refuse to say anything about their operation. Once you’re sure Kevin’s hands are securely bound, you start moving back in the direction of the clearing where you found them.
It looks like Kelly has rushed through the poachers’ camp and hurriedly snatched up a lot of their food and gear, but the caged Pokémon are all still there. Pokémon that can’t be confined to Pokéballs are pretty difficult to transport, and it doesn’t look like they had a vehicle with them. The black uniforms suggest that they’re part of a larger organisation (Kelly mentioned something called “Team Rocket”), so they might have been waiting for a pickup from other members of their group. You should really wrap up here as soon as possible in case Kelly has called for reinforcements. Once you get closer to the stacks of cages, you see that, as well as the Caterpie and Weedle you noticed earlier, many of them contain Spinarak. They all look despondent, weak, possibly underfed. You and Ellis share a look.
“They had… hostages…” he realises. You nod in agreement. This explains why you were enlisted to do the Ariados colony’s dirty work for them – they must have been afraid that the poachers would harm their young if they took action. Abner abruptly yells something unintelligible and probably obscene.
“Argh! How could they do this!? This- the Pokémon- the forest is their home, and they just came in here and-!” He glares acidly at Kevin as his speech breaks off, balling his fists and kicking at the ground in frustration. Ellis gently rests a hand on his shoulder.
“We’ll have them out soon. There must be keys around here somewhere.” He ducks into the poachers’ tent and starts rifling through what’s left of their equipment. Several of the Pokémon in the cages start to perk up at the possibility of freedom, but they’re agitated and impatient from their captivity. Some start rattling their cages and banging their heads against the bars and mesh. You do your best to speak soothingly to them, with Scallion and Aura at your side. Abner and Stacey follow suit, while Dane grabs some rope from his backpack and ties Kevin’s bound hands to a sturdy branch overhead, to make sure he doesn’t get any ideas. Honestly, you probably don’t need to worry; he still seems pretty shell-shocked. Eventually, you hear a triumphant shout from inside the tent, before Ellis emerges with a ring of keys and a scrap of paper with a list of combination lock sequences. He passes out keys and hands you the paper, and the five of you get to work freeing all the caged Pokémon, starting with the Spinarak, while your own Pokémon continue working to keep the others calm.
A string of clicks and hisses alerts you to the presence of a Pokémon behind you, and you turn to see a big red Ariados standing at the edge of the clearing. It greets you with a motion that looks almost like a four-legged curtsey… then fixes its gaze on Ned, still lying in a full cocoon near Kevin’s feet, and begins to creep towards him.
“Mfflmffmlllf!!!” Ned protests. Kevin looks like he’s about to be sick, but says nothing.
Y’know, you could just hand them over. Or at least Ned; he’s already gift-wrapped and everything. Like, they’re clearly bad dudes. And it would also totally save you having to drag them to Pewter City with you. Ned’s frickin’ heavy. Bu-u-ut, you’re too nice for that, or… whatever. You stand between the Ariados and the cocooned poachers and stammer out something about this being human business from here. As long as they’re gone, you held up your end of the deal, right? The Ariados chitters thoughtfully, then repeats the “curtsey” motion, flattens its vestigial legs against its abdomen and slowly walks backwards out of the clearing. The rest of the Spinarak follow in a crowd as it leaves – all but one, who seems to have taken a liking to Ellis, and bids the rest farewell with a cheery wave.
There are a lot of other Pokémon caged, and even with all five of you working together, it takes a while to free all of them. Some lash out as you work on the locks, which makes everything that much harder, but Aura’s soothing hum seems to do them some good. Most of them, though, seem to sense that you’re here to help, and make what you think are gestures of thanks as you release them. And one… one waits patiently, and doesn’t leave the clearing when its cage opens. As you continue your work, you notice it talking to Scallion and Nancy out of the corner of your eye, and when you’re finally done, you turn around to find it watching you. You sense something – the seed of the same emotional connection you have with your own Pokémon – and realise that it intends to join you.
After at least an hour of fiddling with locks and warding off aggravated stings, the last Pokémon – an especially irate Pidgey – blusters past you in a blur of feathers and claws, vanishing into the woods. You slump into a sitting position to catch your breath and your hand flops down to rest on the silky surface of Aura’s body. She purrs gently – and suddenly feels very, very warm. You look down, startled, and see that she is glowing with a soft blue-white light. All the bug catchers stare in awe as your Silcoon’s body splits open, and a tiny grey fairy body crawls gingerly out of her cracked shell, before unfurling a pair of broad, delicate, colourful wings and taking flight.
Aura has evolved into Beautifly!
Wingspan: 113 cm
Weight: 27 kg
Moves: Tackle, String Shot, Gust, Absorb
Special Skills: None/Unknown?
You receive a round of hearty congratulations – even Kevin blurts out an impressed-sounding “cool!” before being silenced by a surly grunt from Ned – and Nancy starts up a celebratory cheer. Aura tries out her new wings, doing loops, spins and twirls in time to your Minun’s chant. You don’t bask in her newfound glory for long, though. You’re busy young Pokémon trainers; you’ve got places to be!
“If I’m reading the Ariados map right, we can be in Pewter City before dark if we hurry,” Dane says. “We, uh… definitely aren’t getting back home by tomorrow, so we should all call our parents from the Pokémon Centre.” Stacey and Ellis suddenly go white, apparently remembering how much simpler this trip was supposed to be, but Abner just laughs and makes a dumb joke about all of them being nerds who need to get out more anyway. Soon you’re on your way, talking and swapping stories, dragging Ned bouncing along the forest floor behind you, and occasionally barking at Kevin, his hands still on a leash, to keep up.