[Catch up on the story so far here!]
Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:
What should Scallion do?
The light is swelling. You’re not afraid of it. Why would you be? You’ve studied with Professor Oak, so you know how evolution works – or at least, as much as anyone does – but you also know there’s a spiritual aspect to it. Evolution is the path to fulfilling a Pokémon’s potential, to realising their full powers and finding their place in the world. You’d never make Scallion evolve if he didn’t want to – but reassuring him that nothing bad will happen if he chooses this? That’s kind of your job. You tell him, in a few soft words, that it’s okay to let go; you’ll still be here on the other side. And he changes.
Another cheer goes up from the stands – and from your side, where Nancy is already hopping forward to congratulate Scallion. Scallion twists his head around, inspecting the leaves that have sprung out from his bulb and the softly pulsing pink flower bud that now rests on his back. Apparently satisfied, he reaches out with his vines and picks Nancy up, tossing her in the air and catching her as she giggles with delight. Brock joins you on your side of the field as you watch your Pokémon celebrate.
“Looks like I took you for granite!” he exclaims. You stare at him wordlessly. “That opening gambit with your Zorua was bold, but using Vine Whip to have your Pokémon lash itself to Onix’s horn… that was boulder!” You decide, correctly, not to dignify that with a response. “…yeah, you’re right, those were awful, that’s on me. But that’s not important. Here.” He holds out his hand, palm up. “As proof of your victory, I confer upon you this: the official Pokémon League Boulder Badge!”
You take the badge from his hand, reverently, and hold it up to the light to study it. It’s metal, with a shiny enamel coating. Handmade, you think. Gym badges are certifications of a trainer’s skill and achievement, but they’re also keepsakes from the leaders who confer them. This badge contains your memories of your battle with Brock, and Brock’s memories of his battle with you, as well as all his knowledge of Rock Pokémon and their abilities.
Metaphorically, of course. It’s not like it’s fµ¢£in’ magic or anything; imagine if you believed in ridiculous stuff like that instead of the cold, hard facts of Pokémon science.
The other guy – y’know, Violet or whatever – claps you on the back.
“I loosened it for ya,” he says with a smirk. “Seriously though, congrats.” Squirtle looks up at you and squawks cheerfully before toddling over to talk to Scallion, who excitedly extends a Vine Whip high five to him (him? Yeah you get kind of a “male” vibe from Squirtle; it takes you longer to pick up on that stuff from someone else’s Pokémon, but it’s there). “Those were some pretty sweet moves. Y’know, not as sweet as Squirtle and I pulled,” he pauses to wink at Squirtle, who smoothly turns to wink back and returns to his conversation with Scallion without any break, “but pretty sweet. You’ll get to see some of that next time we battle.”
The bug catchers have come down from the stands as well. Abner is too busy oohing and aahing at Scallion the Ivysaur to talk to you, but Stacey and Dane enthusiastically start recapping highlights of your battle, and Ellis gives you a placid smile and nod (which seems to be more or less the equivalent for him). All four of them are supposed to be catching a train back to Viridian City later today – they’ve been away from home much longer than they were supposed to be already – but they have a few hours. Stacey suggests you all go out for lunch to celebrate, and invites Violet as well. First, though, you still have some business with Brock – you remind him about the “help” he said he needed. Brock frowns, his face turning serious.
“You remember Professor Hazelwood and Professor Hammond-Spruce, right? They spoke at the museum yesterday?” You nod your agreement. “Well, they’ve got a team of their grad students out at Mount Moon right now, fossil-hunting in the upper Devonian strata. Things were going well until about five days ago. The team leaders started calling in reports of thefts from the dig sites and people hearing strange noises behind their backs. Yesterday they missed their scheduled check-in, and we’re starting to get worried. As the gym leader and a personal friend of the Professors, I have a responsibility to do… something.” He shrugs helplessly. “But I can’t leave Pewter City right now; I can’t leave my brothers and sisters at home without our parents, the Indigo League wants me doing extra hours here until the Viridian Gym is back to a normal schedule, and the police have asked for my help investigating those poachers you rounded up in Viridian Forest. So, as you can imagine, I’m kind of stuck between a-” You quickly and firmly interrupt him, holding up one index finger and shaking your head to forestall the cliché. It really seems like Brock is on some rocky ground here. Maybe you shouldn’t be so tuff on him; schist happens, you know?
HAHAH; you can shut him up, but what are you gonna do about me, huh!?
Crestfallen, Brock continues: “I can head out for Mount Moon in a few days, but…” He trails off, his brow furrowed. You get the impression he’d be leaving now if he could get out of those other commitments. “I just need someone to touch base with the team and look into any problems they’ve been having. And… well, a promising new trainer with an interest in science just falls into my lap. I promise I’ll join you as soon as I can.”
You agree, obviously; I mean, I don’t even have to ask you about that, right? Like, you’re being offered a quest; if there is even a snowball’s chance in hell of you refusing, then you are seriously not the dumb idealistic hero nerd I thought you were.
After assuring Brock that he has your support, you and your friends head out to celebrate your victory (and Violet’s as well, come to think of it). Within half an hour, you’re sitting around a table laden with at least fifteen different flavours of dumplings, passing plates back and forth, waving chopsticks in all directions, laughing and trying to see whose Pokémon can catch a dumpling in its mouth from the furthest away. You exchange e-mail addresses with the bug catchers and promise to stay in touch, and take the opportunity to talk out your next move. You should probably head out tomorrow morning; you can’t dawdle, but Scallion and Jane Doe should have the night to properly recover from their battle. Amethyst thinks the road out to Mount Moon should be doable in a day if you leave early, “even if you slack off like always,” and points out that there’s a basic Pokémon Centre in the foothills – not as cushy as the ones in the cities, but much better equipped than an ordinary rest house. From there, it should take another day to follow the map Brock gave you to the dig site. On the way, you should think about fitting in training routines, maybe try to catch a Pokémon, do your ecology nerd thing, the other usual stuff. As you talk it over, you realise Amethyst has to be heading in the same direction, which makes sense; assuming he doesn’t want to wait around in Viridian City for the gym to reopen, the only sensible thing to do is strike out for Cerulean City, past Mount Moon to the east. You could always suggest travelling together, even see if he’s willing to help with your Grand Quest – y’know, if you think you can stand his company for more than ten minutes.