A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXII: Fishy Business

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do?

  • Question the Magikarp seller

You’re a little tempted to just pay the asking price and take the damn fish.  A Pokémon is a Pokémon, no matter how proverbially useless.  Besides, you kinda feel for the stupid thing.  Even if you decide later that you can’t be bothered training it until it evolves, you can probably find a better life for it than… whatever this carnival snake-oil setup is.

On the other hand, you’re curious now.  You still don’t see any direct evidence that this Magikarp has been mistreated and you doubt Blue (who is currently on the other side of the Pokémon Centre lounge, practising his trash talk against an annoyed-looking hiker) would have anything to add on that score.  But the idea of selling Pokémon has piqued your curiosity.  Is that even a thing?  Is it actually legal?  You voice these questions to the Magikarp salesman.

“Legal?  Legal?”  He laughs and puts one arm around your shoulder.  You gently but firmly shove it away.  “Kid, kid, kid, think about it – we trade Pokémon, don’t we?  No one thinks trading Pokémon should be illegal.  And selling Pokémon is just trading them for money!  Look at it this way, look at- think of it like this: if you were trading a really weak Pokémon for a really strong Pokémon, maybe you’d throw in some other stuff to sweeten the deal for the other trainer, right?  Like, I dunno, a bicycle or a fishing rod or something, or some money.”  He grins at you.  “So think of it as, like, I’m trading you a really strong Pokémon, and in exchange you’re trading me a Pokémon so weak it doesn’t even exist.”  He holds his hands at his temples with all his fingers together, then splays his hands out, miming his head exploding.  “Powwww!”

You realise that, significantly, he has yet to actually confirm that what he’s doing is legal – which means it probably isn’t.  You aren’t exactly sure what about his operation is illegal, of course, but just look at the guy; he’s hanging out in the most backwater Pokémon Centre in all of Kanto, miles of rough country away from the nearest police station, using vague promises of ludicrous future wealth to hawk Magikarp to teenagers.  If there aren’t any laws he’s breaking, someone should write one.

You ask him to tell you more about this Pokémon, just to keep him talking – for instance, how good is it at battling?
“Battle?  Battle?  I mean – kid, let me tell you, I could spin you all kinds of stories about battling with a Magikarp, but that would be selling it short.”  Well, he’s… not wrong.  “This one- you know, this one’s still inexperienced, so all it can use is Splash, but what else do you even need?  Hours of fun with that move; it can Splash all day and not get tired, and just wait ‘til you see the heights it can jump when it gets going.”  You can’t help but admire his craft, honestly.
But how many Magikarp does he have?  That’s what you’re wondering, with absolute and unquestionable sincerity.
“That’s the beauty of it, kid; like I was saying, one Magikarp can lay up to five thousand Magikarp eggs in its lifetime, so if you’ve got even one, you can hatch thousands more and sell ‘em on!  Just think of it!”
One.  He has one Magikarp, exactly.  Or, one with him, at least.  Look, I got a hunch about this one, okay kid?
So how did he get into the Magikarp business, anyway?  You’re just so curious, you tell him.  You have to know.  It’s burning you up inside that you don’t know his story!
Okay, maybe you don’t put it quite like that, but listen kid, you’re just not a good liar.  Fortunately, he smells a sale and isn’t paying attention.
“Well, it is a long and illustrious story, but the short answer is that I was contacted by a very exclusive group of Magikarp breeders because of my – well, I’ve had a long and high-flying career in sales, and for my experience and my unique ability to appraise the potential of a young trainer to fully appreciate Magikarp’s special qualities, to pick out those bright prodigies who are truly deserving of such a magnificent Pokémon…”

You start to tune him out again.  You’re genuinely curious about the mention of an “exclusive group of Magikarp breeders,” but you think he might get suspicious if you probe too deeply on that topic.  Unless he’s just making that up too.  You notice that Blue has gotten bored of winding up random Pokémon Centre guests and has sidled back over to you.  The Magikarp seller pauses when he sees Blue, but you gesture for him to keep talking.  He obliges, now repeating some of his previous pitch for Blue’s benefit.  You lean over to whisper in Blue’s ear: this guy is a sleazebag; you don’t want to leave the Magikarp with him.  But you’re in the middle of nowhere, so calling the cops isn’t really a viable plan.
“So what, you gonna buy it?” he whispers back.  You hesitate.  The Magikarp seller, to his credit, remains undeterred by the fact that you’re obviously only half-listening to him.  He keeps talking, actually increasing his volume so that other guests in the Pokémon Centre lounge can overhear.  Blue shoots you a mischievous look and a grin.  “If you want me to distract him for you, I think I have a pretty cool idea for you to, uh…”  he winks and subtly jerks his head in the direction of the Magikarp tank.  Wait, does he mean steal it?  That’s… uh…

look, kid, I know you’re a stickler for this stuff but the Magikarp guy is definitely a sleazebag and definitely wouldn’t go to the cops ‘cause he 100% has his own $#!t to hide

You can still let it go and just buy the Magikarp, obviously.  But it seems like if you want to “liberate” the Magikarp for your own team, Blue’s in your corner.  You can go with whatever he’s thinking, or maybe you think you already have a better idea.  Bear in mind that you need to keep the Magikarp seller in the dark about exactly how his fish went missing.  Unless you just, like… deck him and stuff his unconscious body in a broom cupboard or something, but you didn’t get that from me, okay?

12 thoughts on “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXII: Fishy Business

  1. I mean, we’re definitely going to be beating the crap out of criminals in this very mountain, right? Might as well start with the one in front of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do not believe buying this magikarp would be responsible, because if it works for him then this guy will just pull other poor fish into his mediocre schemes. That leaves the question of if we should steal her sneakily or do something else, and if we think Blue has a good plan. Personally, I think Blue will be better at planning this than us, and I can’t think of anything other than a stealth crime that’d work. If we try to force this guy to give the fish up, he’ll make a scene, and I dunno if the whole crew of people in this PMC will exactly see us as the good guys.

    Like

  3. “Like, I dunno, a bicycle or a fishing rod or something, or some money.”
    What? Giving up a bike for a Pokémon? That’d better be a legendary or a mythical. Do you know how much a bike COSTS?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fun fact: I Googled it once, and a million yen is roughly the going rate for the highest-end bikes. That is, it’s the most you can spend on actual quality rather than blinging it out. Notice how bikes breaking was a running gag in the early anime but never happens to us…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good lord, why is this so close? We’re a lot of things but we’re not a CRIMINAL. Stealing is stealing, even from a conman, and just because we can get away with something doesn’t mean we should. We could’ve dealt with Team Rocket ourselves but we turned them into the authorities. Let’s not give into crime now!

    Besides. The entire Pokemon Center is witnessing this. Stealing it will certainly make a scene, and while the conman can’t go to the cops, someone else here might. This thing is ridiculously cheap, is it worth risking things for that?

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    1. You realize that buying the magikarp would be animal trafficking, right

      Which is also a crime

      And that the magikarp isn’t a commodity to be bought and sold and this guy is sleazy to use her as snake oil, which is the actual reason for the debate, not us not wanting to pay money that the story isn’t even keeping track of

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      1. For one, Pokemon aren’t animals and we don’t know what “trafficking” laws exist in this universe (Pokemon training and battling as a whole is a moral debate anyways).

        And two, we could just not get involved and tell authorities. Nobody says we have to buy this if we think that’s illegal, but stealing it is DEFINITELY illegal.

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        1. The main difference between pokémon and animals, concerning ethics, at least, is that pokémon have increased sapience- which is what allows them to be willing participants in the martial art of battling, going out of their way to join trainers in companionship like Nancy and Jane, making it more moral. Gen 5 was the only time the franchise even considered actually making battling a debate but ultimately couldn’t commit to it in a meaningful way.
          However, with the whole “selling pokémon for money” thing the increased sentience has kinda the opposite effect.

          And if your only problem with this guy’s scheme of setting up a magikarp in a cheap tank in the hopes of shilling it to ingenue children who will be suckered out of their money then probably dump the poor thing, not wanting it anymore when they find out it isn’t useful- is wheter or not it’s legal- the narration literally says “he has yet to actually confirm that what he’s doing is legal- which means it probably isn’t” which is topped off with “if there aren’t any laws [the salesman] is breaking, someone should write one”.

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            1. I mean yeah, it’s pretty much stealing, as far as this guy can claim that this magikarp is his property (He can’t.) I don’t think she’ll care either way but I’d like to think we can give her a pretty good home and she’d be a swell partner. And if we tell Brock to come catch this guy having taken the magikarp, I don’t think he’ll care too much we did it.

              Frankly I don’t see anything too wrong with it, since this guy has no right to what he’s doing so we’re not violating his rights, or the magikarp’s, and it’s not like we’ll become a mafia boss because we took a fish from a crook. Kant’s imperative is impractical idiocy that if actually applied results in telling children Santa’s not real and making them cry because lying is wrong.

              I just want a magikarp and also to spite this dude.

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  5. Alternate solution suggestion: we leave the salesman and the magicarp be for the moment, he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon especially if he doesn’t sell his fish, and first chance we get we message brock about this guy and your suspicions about the questionable legality of his venture, he was going to be coming this way soon anyway right? and will be able to deal with this in a much more official capacity than we could as a couple of kids, maybe brock can even bring along some police/officer jennys too?
    if im misremembering and we didn’t get brock’s contact details then we contact oak instead because i know we have his contacts to pass on the message to brock or the police or whoever needs to be contacted

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