[Catch up on the story so far here!]
Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:
Do you want to give Zorua a nickname?
– Let Jim the Editor name it.
– Let the Narrator name it.
[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: The dice say we give this one to the Narrator.]
Y’know kid, you shouldn’t make a habit of this; nicknames are personal and your Pokémon should have names you came up with for yourself. But yeah, all right; if you’re not feeling too creative I guess I can give you something. You don’t technically know this yet ‘cause it’s not in your Pokédex, but what you’ve got there is a Zorua, a rare Pokémon that can impersonate other Pokémon using illusion magic – keeping its true identity secret from all but the keenest observers. With that in mind, and by the power vested in me, I hereby name this Pokémon:
Jane seems pretty pleased with herself just for having a nickname at all. You gotta have an identity in order to conceal it, I guess.
What do you do in Pewter City?
– Visit the museum – battles can wait when there’s science to do!
Now that you’re so close to Pewter City, you feel like your gym challenge can wait. You’ve never been here before, but you know the Pewter Museum of Science by reputation and would love to visit – not just for yourself, but for your Bulbasaur, Scallion, who’s expressed a lot of interest in your weird ecological nerdery. Before anything else, though, you have to visit the Pokémon Centre. All of you need to get your Pokémon checked out in case you’ve missed any sickness or injury, you need to make sure you can grab a dorm for a couple of days (or at least some floor space), and you should keep your ears pricked up for information about the gym leader. Maybe more importantly than anything else, though, you need to check in with Professor Oak.
(and, like, maybe your parents, but honestly who gives a $#!t; no one wants me to narrate half an hour of “oh, we love you so much, remember to wash your underwear” or whatever)
When you call the Professor, he cheerfully informs you that while you were travelling through Viridian Forest he was able to get a Ranger from the Tohjo Lodge who owed him a favour to check out the cave with the lost Whismur on Route 22 (y’know, that place you went, like, nine months ago or whenever). Once they were aware of the problem, it was a fairly simple matter to track the wailing sounds to the source, just like you did. A relocation will take time, and many of the Whismur are sick or injured, so it’s not clear that all of them will survive, but the Professor believes that your actions have prevented the worst possible outcomes. He’s also been doing some digging to try and find the origins of the exotic Pokémon species you observed in the area. Apparently a Sinnohan construction company has been working on a major hydroelectric dam near Pallet Town for the past several years. Bidoof and Buizel are both Pokémon used by the construction crews, because their abilities are useful for aquatic engineering. By law, exotic Pokémon working in Kanto should be accompanied by their trainers, but it’s possible that the company mixed in some untrained or “semi-wild” Pokémon to cut costs, in which case they could have escaped and established a breeding population. In theory this is serious scandal material, but both of you doubt you’ll ever be able to find hard proof of negligence. You, in turn, share everything that’s happened to you in Viridian Forest. The Professor is startled but intrigued by your description of the intelligent Ariados, deeply troubled by the mention of “Team Rocket,” and impressed by the decisive action you and your new friends took against them. He promises to look into this group further, and signs off.
Okay – chores done, time to enjoy the city.
The twins decide to peace out and go for a relaxing afternoon indulging one of their shared hobbies – people-watching at the nearest train station – and promise to meet you all back at the Pokémon Centre later. That leaves you, Abner, Ellis and of course Scallion to check out the museum. Pewter City is known as the “Stone Grey City” for the beautiful blue-grey limestone used in all its old buildings, which is quarried locally in the mountains just northeast of the city. There’s actually heritage building ordinances in most of the city that prohibit new construction in other materials to preserve the distinctive historic style. Luckily, the fact that the stone is locally sourced keeps construction costs from getting out of hand, and Pewter City’s people have been building in limestone for centuries. They know how to create really solid earthquake-proof and well-insulated houses that look like adorable little storybook cottages – as well as big, dignified public buildings with a sense of understated grandeur to them, of which the 130-year-old museum building is maybe the best example. You learn all of this from Ellis, who is apparently super into architecture. Abner teases him for being such a nerd that he can just rattle off all these facts at will, but you sense he’s actually kind of impressed (besides, you’re probably about to spend the next several hours lecturing to them about prehistoric Pokémon; you’d better hope they’re game for it).
The Pewter Museum of Science has something for everyone – or, every flavour of science nerd, at least. The geology wing has colossal geodes full of glittering, multicoloured crystals, meteorite fragments from nearby Mount Moon that glow with a strange, silvery inner light, mysterious “evolution stones” that somehow awaken the dormant powers of certain Pokémon, and immaculately polished blocks of Pewter limestone where you can see the traces of prehistoric seashells that prove this part of Kanto was once underwater. You point out this last feature to Scallion, explaining as well as you can the theories of tectonic plates and continental drift that explain how seas and mountains form and disappear over millions of years. Your Bulbasaur stares, entranced, at the faint fossil imprints – and then at the limestone of the walls around you, the same ancient material. Across the central hall, in the technology wing, there are lovingly crafted scale models of humanity’s first spaceships and satellites, as well as a primitive computer built in the 1950s that fills an entire room. They even have one of the old series PX-A1 Pokédexes, a clunky thing that would barely fit in your backpack, designed for self-sufficient data-gathering in an age before the internet. These rub shoulders with 8,000-year-old stone axes and knives, covered with tooth and claw marks that show they must have been made with the help of Rock Pokémon. You pause here as well, wondering how humans could possibly have survived and thrived in a world without Pokémon – how cruel and insane nature would seem without these miraculous companions. You reach down and rest a hand on your Bulbasaur’s shoulder. The time you’ve known each other seems so insignificant, but it’s part of a tradition older than history itself. Ellis smiles and reaches a hand up to pat his new Spinarak, which is riding on his shoulder; Abner, carrying his Metapod in his arms, squeezes it a little tighter.
The big fossil exhibit is in the grand hall in the middle of the building. There are fossils of every prehistoric Pokémon you can name, and plenty of others that you can’t, all assembled into lifelike poses, and accompanied by brightly painted models that show experts’ best guess at what they looked at while they were alive. All of you are captivated for quite a while by the huge, nearly-complete Aerodactyl skeleton hanging from the ceiling, its mouth gaping open as if in its legendary frightful screech. You see fossils from other regions too, on loan from other museums especially for this exhibition – Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova… there are a couple of newly-discovered ones from faraway Galar too, although to be honest you aren’t quite sold on the accuracy of the assembled skeletons. As you near the back of the hall, you realise you’re just in time to catch the tail end of a public debate between two visiting scientists, who are standing behind a pair of stately limestone lecterns discussing fossil “resurrection” technology for the benefit of a curious crowd. This is some cutting-edge stuff they’re talking about – the possibility that humans will soon be able to use fossils and traces of genetic material to create living, breathing Pokémon from species that went extinct tens of millions of years ago. This is cool, but ludicrously dangerous, argues one scientist (Professor Grant Hazelwood of Celadon University, according to the placard on his lectern): resurrected species could escape into the wild and overrun fragile ecosystems, and they could be unable to relate to humans the way modern Pokémon can. There’s also a moral issue; how can it be right to bring a living creature into a world where its species is extinct and the ecosystem it evolved in no longer exists? The other scientist (Professor June Hammond-Spruce of the Cinnabar Institute of Genetics) admits that there are moral and practical hazards, but points out that all available evidence suggests prehistoric Pokémon were just as intelligent as modern species. They would almost certainly be able to adapt to the modern world if treated with the same kindness and respect we afford to all other Pokémon, and it’s not like they’d be released into the wild – they could be given to trainers for observation. More to the point, we could learn things about these extinct species that are simply impossible to know from fossils, and we’d be giving another chance to Pokémon that were wiped out by the cruel randomness of nature.