A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXI: Firestarter

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Try to remember the other guy’s name?

  • You already know his name; the Narrator’s being a jerk

Excuse you, I am a fµ¢£ing delight.  But whatever, if it’s that important to you I guess I’ll put in an effort.  What’d you say his name was?  “Blue”?  God that’s so fµ¢£ing dumb.  Blue is, like, at best a passable name for a small predatory dinosaur.  Kids got no damn business being named Blue.  Who gave him that, his dumb parents?  Probably named him that so he’d be, like, “calm” and “sensible” or some bull$#!t?  Ugh, no wonder he’s such a basket case.  We gotta see about changing it.

Yeah, yeah, whatever, I heard you, get off my ass already.

Which Pokémon do you try to catch?

  • Try to find the source of the fires [you might not catch anything]

Aren’t you supposed to be, like… doing… something?  Eh, whatever, not like it’s any of my business.  Scallion and your other Pokémon have a pretty vague and subjective concept of time, and Blue has no sense of responsibility or commitment.  Besides, you’ve made surprisingly good time this far, so if you want to spend a couple of hours clambering up and down dry dirt hillsides looking for an unknown Fire Pokémon, no one’s going to stop you.

You have a set of footprints, outlined in the ash of the burnt grass.  Unfortunately they’re not great quality; they’re smudged and incomplete.  You’re not sure you can make anything of this.
“Hmm…” Blue is stooped over, squinting at the footprints.  “Your Ivysaur can use Poisonpowder, right?”  Scallion nods and gives an affirmative grunt; you confirm that he can.  “Dust the ground around those prints,” Blue suggests, unclipping his Pidgey’s Pokéball from his belt.  “I wanna try something.”  You look at Scallion, shrug and point at the footprints, then stand back.  Blue lets his Pidgey out, then covers his face with the sleeve of his jacket.  Scallion fires a little purple pellet out of his bulb, which arcs towards the footprints and explodes in a spray of glittering dust.  “Pidgey – use Gust, but keep it light and the angle low.”  Pidgey coos and flaps his wings, blowing the Poisonpowder away… but leaving traces of it, glimmering violet in the afternoon sun, in the depressions of the footprints.  You look at Blue, surprised but impressed.  “What?” he says, almost defensively.  “If you want to catch Pokémon you can’t just sit and wait for them to come to you; you need to track them.”  The footprints still aren’t ideal, but you can see now that they were made by a triangular three-toed foot with long claws.  The Pokémon hasn’t actually left a trail you can follow, but you can keep looking for the same footprints as you keep moving towards Mount Moon.

It’s about another hour before you spot more prints like that first set, at the base of a little landslide of crumbling dirt where something recently scrabbled up the slope.  You can hear Pokémon cries from just over the crest of the hill, so you quiet Blue (who has been rambling about high-performance racecars for some reason) with a quick “shhh!”, then motion to him and Scallion to follow you up the hillside.  Up the rough, dry dirt, through the thorns and the sharp-edged tussock grass, over the top, and you see a bowl-shaped area between this ridge and the next.  And right there, just ten or fifteen metres away…

A Charmander – like the one Professor Oak offered you when you started your journey!  You knew they lived wild in Kanto, but there’s not much information about which areas they’re native to, mostly because they can be pretty hard to find and are often solitary.  It looks like it’s parked at the entrance to a Sandshrew den, smoke billowing from its tail as it tries to flush the occupant out.  You crouch down and take out your notebook, making a very quick pencil doodle of the Pokémon.  This is a cool little hunting technique – definitely worth including in your report to Profess-
“Hey!  Wanna try pick on someone your own level?”
You look up sharply and realise that Blue has already closed half the distance and is challenging the Charmander to a battle.  You roll your eyes – but, hey, at least you’ve already gotten a good look at it, and you have strong circumstantial evidence that a Charmander was responsible for the burnt area you found earlier, so you’ll have plenty to put in your next report.

What?  Oh, don’t look at me like that; it’s not like you had “dibs” or anything.

The Charmander faces Blue, squares up its stance and growls, acknowledging the challenge.  In an instant, his Squirtle appears at his side, still glowing from his Pokéball.  You and Scallion sit back and watch with an appraising eye as Squirtle bombards the Charmander with Water Gun, then pops back into his shell and zips around to the right, dodging a scatter of Ember shots before firing again from the side.  Blue’s commands are crisp and confident, and Squirtle’s responses are immediate; they’re actually pretty good at this.  Another Water Gun volley, and the Charmander staggers.  Quick as a whip, Blue has a Pokéball in his hand and is throwing it.  You find yourself holding your breath as the Pokéball rocks on the ground.  After several tense seconds, it clicks and the capture is confirmed.  You and Scallion, good sports that you are, go to congratulate Blue as he picks up the Pokéball, and you suggest that he let his new Pokémon out so you can all get to know each other.  He looks like he’s about to, but then stops, looks at the sky, and points out that the sun is setting.  You should be close to the Mount Moon Pokémon Centre now, so you agree to get moving and make introductions later.

Fortunately, you are, in fact, very close to the Pokémon Centre.  Mount Moon looms above in the background, stark and powerful against the night sky.  The excavation you’re supposed to be helping out is on the north slope, but according to your map you’ll have to traverse multiple cave systems to reach it.  As the Murkrow flies, it’s less than a third of the distance you’ve covered today, but the going will be much slower and you’ll be lucky to make it in a single day of climbing.  You resolve to get a good night’s sleep, head into the Pokémon Centre and check in, ready to settle down and polish some of today’s notes.  The lounge is pretty empty; there are a few hikers, but it seems like this isn’t a super popular route for Pokémon trainers.
“Hey.  Hey kid.  You wanna buy a Pokémon?”  You look, then right, then double take left to find a cheery little man with a white headband and a wispy moustache hovering just behind your shoulder.

Wait, did he say “buy a Pokémon”?  Can… can you do that, is that even a thing?  I mean, you can trade Pokémon, so… I guess you can… trade them for money?  Right?

“This here’s a Magikarp.” He gestures to a cinnabar-red fish Pokémon with long white whiskers, floating placidly in a wheeled water tank he is… somehow lugging around behind him.  “A really amazing Pokémon for a young trainer like you-” You quickly begin to tune him out.

“…money-making machine…”
You’ve been around the block a few times.  Well, no, that’s not true at all, but your general knowledge of Pokémon is in such a completely different league from this dumbass’s bull$#!t sales pitch that it’s not even funny.
“…five thousand Magikarp eggs…”
You know full well a Magikarp is next to useless.  You know equally well that a Magikarp will – eventually, with a lot of very patient training – evolve into Gyarados, one of the most powerful and dangerous Pokémon under the sun.
“…one word: caviar…”
But… you squint at the Magikarp in the tank.  Not for the first time, you wish you’d used some of your afternoons at Professor Oak’s lab to learn a bit more about Pokémon medicine.
“…twenty-five million Magikarp eggs…”
Its scales are kinda dull and its expression is a bit vacant, but you can’t see any evidence that it’s actually unhealthy or that it’s been treated poorly.  Sometimes Magikarp are just like that, you think?  You strongly doubt it’s anywhere close to evolution, though.
“…yours for only 500 Yen!”
Huh.  That brings you back down to earth.  500 Yen isn’t a lot, even for a kid.  Sure, it’s more than a Pokéball would cost to just go and catch a Magikarp yourself, but you can totally afford it.  If, uh… if you even want a Magikarp, which is something else I’d frankly like to have a word with you about.

7 thoughts on “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXI: Firestarter

  1. Eh, why not, it’s not that much, and a gyarados is definitely nothing to sneeze at, so we should just buy it, if anything to add a much needed water type to the team, since we have zero good counters for fire types, which Blue now has one, plus we will need surf eventually, and since this is still Kanto, a decent dragon move or two won’t hurt, overall, the only reason I can think of not to buy it, is that we can get the old rod in cerulean city for free and would only need pokeballs, but it is a Magikarp, so we need all the training time we can get, so we should just buy it now and switch train it in Mt. Moon with scallion.

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    1. personally i think we’re trying to buy it just because ‘always buy the Mt.Moon Magicarp’ is a bit of a meme, i doubt it’s going to start pulling it’s weight anytime before we find another viable water type and there are much more interesting species in kanto alone not to mention the ones that are not strictly native but still turn up, Poliwag, Horsea, Chinchou or Marill would be the most likely mons we’d see that i’d like for us to catch, But i just don’t want us going around catching everything that is presented to us simply *because they are presented to us,* I’m trying to look at this more from the perspective of a trainer in the anime rather than the player character from the games.

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      1. True, but like I said, we have an opportunity to switch train it into a gyarados before leaving Mt. Moon, plus I just think it would be cool to have a gyarados on the team, plus it would be the first non starter on the team that is native to Kanto.

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      2. Please, it’s only like 5 bucks. If we find another water Pokemon we want to switch it out for, that’s fine, we can send it to the professor, but we have no guarantee we even will in the near future. Besides, Gyarados is badass. Plenty of people buy Magikarp, memes notwithstanding, because they like Gyarados and, realistically, this is the earliest chance to get one – otherwise you have to wait for Vermilion and then you still have to train it up anyways (plus it’s not odd to get it to level 20 by that point anyways).

        Not to mention who knows even if we’ll get a rod, who knows where this story will go. We already skipped the previous opportunity to get a Pokémon and this one is practically free. And we have no real downsides to switching our party out if we find something we’d rather have.

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  2. Let’s ask some questions about the Magikarp and make sure it’s not being ill-treated. (Illegal magikarp breeding mill when?)

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  3. Man, I really hope we get this. Was already disappointed we passed up Pineco (one of my favs) just to give the rival something that counters half our team. I don’t wanna miss my favorite gen 1 Pokémon too!

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    1. Yeah, Magikarp is really adorable and endearing and Gyarados is really cool while still being fitting into the world around it. They’re also probably one of the best illustrations of “evolution” you can get, even better than the caterpie line.

      That said, this seems very fishy, it doesn’t seem ethical to sell pokémon for profit, and I’m thinking this must be some sort of puppy mill; my ideal scenario is getting a magikarp the way we got Jane.

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