A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXVIII: Chatterbox

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do for the night?
– Stay with Miguel

You decide, on balance, that the risks of descending the mountain at night, or even just sending Aura, are probably not worth the benefits of warning Ellie and Mal about your new intel – such as it is.  You’re still maybe 50/50 that Miguel is just a paranoid lunatic who’s picked up some unusual static on the radio and interpreted it as an “enemy” code, and you kind of want to keep your eye on him, just in case he is somehow responsible for the strange thefts at the camp.  Besides, you think Blue will probably be back with the palaeontologists by now.  Personally I think you’re overrating Blue’s sense of duty there, but I suppose it’s possible he’s decided to mooch off their supplies in exchange for providing some kind of half-hearted protection.

Miguel is still playing with his radio, scanning back and forth through different frequencies.  Unfortunately, you don’t have the technical skill to figure out whether it was, in fact, built using parts stolen from the dig team’s radio, but it’s definitely a… unique construction.  At the moment, all he’s getting is noisy static and the occasional snatch of virulent talkback racism from Cerulean FM.  You wonder if there are any Pokémon that can pick up radio signals, and resolve to catch one someday.

You interrupt Miguel to inform him that you’ll be staying the night here, and he just mumbles something vaguely positive-sounding and gestures to an open area of the cave floor where you can lay out your sleeping bag.  Now that he’s concluded that you aren’t going to either steal his fossils or murder him, it seems like you’re kinda off his radar.  You sit down, unpack some of your things and let your Pokémon out of their balls – except for Kite, since there’s no water here.  Aura takes one look around the cramped and somewhat musty cave, then zips straight back into her Pokéball, while Jane wanders over to the back of the cave and starts poking around the narrow tunnel entrance.  Scallion is now conscious, and Nancy stays at your side to help as you try to take a closer look at his injuries from the earlier Selfdestruct blast.  The light is bad in here (when you ask Miguel if he has any more lanterns to set up, aside from the one at the back of the cave, he screeches something incoherent about blackout conditions and being visible to “the Enemy”) and, not for the first time, you curse yourself for not developing more medical skills in your time with Professor Oak.  Still, you have Potions and some basic first aid supplies.  Scallion won’t be at 100% until he can get a proper rest at a Pokémon Centre, which could be days for all you know, but by morning he should have recovered enough to walk with you, and he’ll be able to fight if it’s absolutely necessary.

Miguel clearly isn’t going to sleep any time soon, but it’s dark and you’ve had a long day.  You tuck your sleeping bag into a smooth, shallow hollow in the rock floor, lay a spare blanket underneath for padding, and go to sleep with one arm around Scallion and Nancy curled up at your feet.

You are woken abruptly, very early in the blue light of morning, by a loud burst of static from the radio followed by a triumphant whoop from Miguel.  You blearily get to your feet, stumble over to him and ask what’s going on.
“Shhhhhhhh-shh-shh!  Listen!” Miguel hisses, producing a pen and notebook from inside his coat.  Has he been at this all night?  There’s a smell of ozone in the air and his hair is standing in crazy spikes.  You notice that his Voltorb – apparently much better recovered from its brush with self-inflicted oblivion than Scallion – is sitting placidly at his side, and you wonder whether he’s been “juicing” himself with electricity to stay awake.
“—–cannot confirm————” the radio says, through static.  You think it’s a woman speaking, but it’s difficult to tell.  “———-moon rocks have been——————–rock band don’t suspect————————free agents———————negotiations.  Over.”  Miguel is still fiddling with the dials, trying to get the right frequency.
“Copy that, Sun——————————–.”  A different voice now, but also female.  “——–commence neg—————–converge and secure—————–direct to High Roller——-.” Suddenly, the static clears up and you catch what seems to be the end of the transmission loud and clear.  “By the way, still encountering interference from unknown gremlins; advise caution.  Over.”
“Acknowledged, Moonraker.  Over and out.”
“See!  See!” Miguel flips through his notebook, tapping at the spider-scrawl within.  “They’re speaking in code – ‘moon rocks’ are fossils, ‘Moonraker’ and ‘Sunbaker’ are their code names, ‘rock band’ is me and my Pokémon, ‘High Roller’ is some kind of leader and ‘negotiations’ are a planned strike against this location, which means we have to move, now!”  His confidence seems a little misplaced, but you have to admit there was a certain military tone about the transmission that makes you uneasy.  You ask about the “gremlins,” the only part you heard clearly.  “Unidentified third party that’s been harassing them, stealing food, et cetera, not important,” Miguel says impatiently.  He starts wrapping up his fossils in several layers of tissue paper and stuffing them into a burlap sack.  “I scouted a new location for my camp yesterday morning; we can get there in under an hour if we shimmy down the cliff face and cut through the tunnels.”  You are about to start explaining that you have absolutely no intention of shimmying down anything, when you remember that Jane Doe is still out of her Pokéball.  Where is she?

You hear an excited yip from the back of the cave, and see Jane’s head poking out of the narrow tunnel.  She must be small enough to slip through.  You’re certainly not, though.  You take another look around.  The phosphor lantern that you assumed Miguel had hung up to deter Zubat from leaving the tunnels through his cave is still there; Miguel is frantically packing up his other belongings, but has made no move to grab the lantern, or the strange embroidered cloth on the floor.  You do a double take – didn’t the cloth have some berries sitting on it when you went to sleep?  Maybe Jane ate them.  Jane yips again, a note of impatience in her voice.  You explain that you obviously can’t follow her that way, which she seems to understand but isn’t happy about.  Finding another entrance to the tunnel would be time consuming, and you definitely need to head back to your own camp to regroup, but it seems like Jane thinks she’s onto something pretty important.

Meanwhile, Miguel – who is efficient, if nothing else – has completely dismantled his radio, crammed the pieces and all the rest of his worldly belongings into his burlap sack and a hiking pack, and is almost ready to move out.  You’re not sure you’ll be able to find his new cave if he leaves, so if you want him to stick around, now’s the time to say something.  On the other hand, he’s an annoying piece of $#!t, so there’s that to consider.

8 thoughts on “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXVIII: Chatterbox

  1. Well, on the one hand, Miguel has useful pokémon for exploring. On the other, I’d rather be eaten alive by wild golbat than hang out more with this tool. Please guys, spare me.

    (Like seriously, it was impressive how self-centered he was that he thought he was Team Rocket’s target before, but now that we’ve seen he’s actually heard their transmissions, saw what they talk about, and still manages to twist the conversation into something to do with him he seems fully detached from reality. He’s heard Team Rocket talk about what they’ve done to Rock Band, nothing’s happened to him, and he still thinks he’s Rock Band. I’m starting to genuinely wonder whether he’s just a neckbeard or has a genuine clinical condition of narcissism or paranoia…)

    Anyways, I think we just found out why the fossils are untouched- Moon Rocks. Team Rocket must be stealing supplies from the grad students in order to mantain an illegal mining operation they couldn’t support on their own- or just don’t want to. And what they’re after: Moon Stones! The ‘gremlins’ must be the local clefairy population being pissed, and the most pleasant hypothesis for what’s in that cave is likewise the clefairy. Hopefully that tunnel doesn’t lead directly into a Rocket Hideout…

    PS: Miguel steals things, such as radio parts, without knowing the students’ radio parts were stolen. He likely also steals food to restock. Easily the funniest hypothesis for the gremlins’ identity, if not the likeliest, is that it’s just him acting like a feral trubbish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wrote too fast and came across badly: not trying to imply people with psychiatric disorders are all haggards who live in caves. But I think the worst that comes out of not coping with such a condition is about Miguel’ situation, which is one that neurotypical people can come to, too.

      Like

    2. I was also pretty sure the gremlins were Miguel, and hadn’t thought about the Clefairy. His dismissiveness about whatever entity they meant by it seals the issue.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree it’d be a perfect setup for hilarity if Miguel was the gremlins, but I’m not sure how well that’d serve the narrative. Last time, pokémon were resisting Team Rocket, maybe this time too. It’d be a good setup for us not dealing with Rocket alone.
        Also, the gremlins might be severely more important than him, but since they don’t play into his fantasy of being the main character, he says they’re irrelevant even if they’re Rocket’s biggest problem.

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