[Catch up on the story so far here!]
Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:
Who do you want to spend time with?
You really need to hurry to reach your destination and get on with that… mission… thingy… or whatever. I mean, not that I give a $#!t but it seemed important to you. The going’s going to be much slower now that you’re climbing the mountain and trekking through caves. Still, Mount Moon isn’t completely inhospitable. Yeah, the cave floors are pretty uneven – lots of stalagmites and unexpected potholes – and gravel and dust keep falling on your head in a very unsettling way. Your Pokédexes have GPS, but with so much rock over your heads they might as well be cardboard compasses. On the other hand, you and Blue both have torches (plus the glowing tail flame of Blue’s new Charmander) and Brock’s map shows the layout of the caves on your direct route in fairly high detail. There are even a couple of softly-glowing phosphor lanterns that must have been left by the dig team as waypoints. You more than once trip over an unruly Geodude, but Scallion and Aura both have Grass attacks that can quickly send them packing; with Blue’s Squirtle on your flank, they’re no trouble at all. There are also Zubat just… everywhere. You love all Pokémon, Professor Oak groomed you to be a paragon young trainer and scientist, but if there were ever a Pokémon that could stretch your patience to breaking point, it’d be the one constantly trying to perch on your shoulder and give you a quick anaesthetic bite so it can suck your blood unnoticed while you walk onward through the dark caves. Fortunately, Nancy the Negator isn’t having any of that bull$#!t. On top of everything else, you have this uncanny sensation of being watched by something just outside your torchlight. When you bring it up, the Pokémon just seem to think you’re being paranoid, but Blue bites his lip and mutters something about how it’s not paranoia if “they” really are out to get you.
There’s one thing weighing on your mind more than any of that, though: your new Pokémon. Your new Pokémon? The new Pokémon that is with you. In spite of every instinct you possess screaming that that “salesman” was bad news, and his abrupt disappearance from the Pokémon Centre without any apparent effort to search for his missing Pokémon, and the Magikarp’s… if not enthusiastic consent to join you, at the very least casual indifference about staying, you can’t really shake the feeling that you might have made a serious error of judgement. You’re not going to be happy about this until you’ve had a proper sit-down talk with this Magikarp, are you, kid? Fair enough, I suppose. This isn’t really the place to do it, though. Magikarp – like most fish Pokémon – are perfectly capable of surviving out of water for a few hours; that’s how they’re able to battle. It’s still pretty uncomfortable for them, though, especially if they haven’t been trained to move around on land yet. You’d rather keep the Magikarp in the relative safety and security of her Pokéball until you can find somewhere for her to have a proper swim.
As luck would have it, though, just as you’re thinking this, you see sunlight and soon emerge from the first cave route onto the east slope of Mount Moon. The area around you is much greener and more pleasant than most of what you’ve seen in the foothills – no big trees or anything, but a lovely sort of alpine meadow vibe, with deep green grass, a few bright flowers and a clear mountain stream. As soon as you spot a place where the stream becomes a pool, you call for a rest stop and let all of your Pokémon out, encouraging Blue to do the same.
The Magikarp seems pretty grateful for a proper swim, even in a small rock pool like this one. You get the sense that it might have been a while. However… this isn’t unfamiliar to her either. The Magikarp salesman had talked in suspiciously pyramid-scheme-like terms about the lucrative possibilities of buying a Magikarp in order to breed and sell more Magikarp, but you’re almost certain that this Magikarp wasn’t born and raised in a tank. You try some yes-or-no questions and emotional prods to try and get more information. At the end of the day, though… look, kid, I dunno what to tell you, but Magikarp are pretty dumb. This one doesn’t clearly remember where she came from before being in that tank, doesn’t know where she was supposed to be going, or what (if anything) she was supposed to be doing, apparently has memories of other Magikarp, but no strong feelings about them, and barely understands what a trainer is. On that last point, though, she seems surprisingly adamant that you are it. You suppose she must have been expecting to be sold – well, not exactly; “buying” and “selling” are difficult concepts for any Pokémon, let alone a Magikarp; but expecting to be passed on to someone who would become her trainer. In a moment of epiphany, you realise that part of the Magikarp’s attitude is simply her personality; it’s not only that she’s never had much mental stimulation or any opportunity to understand her own situation, she’s also… well, just naturally chill. That’ll actually serve her pretty well if she eventually becomes a Gyarados, you think. You pause after that thought. Would she… like to evolve and become more powerful? It’ll be rough; you’re not even sure how you train a Pokémon that can’t actually fight, other than just… having her around. But you’re in, if she’s in.
For that, at least, you’re able to get something resembling a clear answer: yes.
Do you want to give Magikarp a nickname?
– Take a name from the comment section
You suppose you’d better give this Magikarp a nickname if you’re going to be carting her around from now on. You look out over the stunning vista of Mount Moon’s foothills, sloping gently back down towards the stately limestone buildings of Pewter City in the distance, as you turn your thoughts inward to come up with a good name. This time, ideas bubble up from inside you, a chorus of chattering voices all throwing in their two cents. After a little while, one of them rises up louder and clearer than the rest…
No, you- you can’t-! Just… no! Absolutely fµ¢£ing not!
Look. Kid. I don’t know exactly what’s going on inside your demented, hormone-addled little teenage brain, but I refuse to believe that I have the highest standards and soundest judgement of all the voices in your head! Get the hell outta here with that $#!t! Come on, one of you has to have something better… “Lootbox69,” Bird Jesus Christ have mercy…
Hmm. You know, it’s a touch offbeat, but there’s something lyrical about it. The Magikarp herself, predictably enough, seems neither here nor there about it.
Your other Pokémon are advancing too, slowly but surely. The incidental training from keeping all those goddamn Zubat off you seems to be helping a lot, but Jane in particular has internalised some kind of lesson from her part in your gym battle and has clearly drawn a lot of pride from her role in recruiting Kite for your team. All four have new moves to work with, but Scallion and Nancy need a little bit of direction in deciding which powers to focus on. There’s only so many different things a Pokémon can master, and a trainer’s job is to consider all the angles – not just power, but utility and synergy. How do you see these moves being useful?
Moves: Tackle, Stun Spore, Gust, Absorb
Moves: Fury Swipes, Leer, Pursuit, Torment