[Catch up on the story so far here!]
Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:
Return to camp?
- Take the scenic route, explore a bit more of the mountain
You’re still feeling understandably salty over a bunch of wild Pokémon ambushing you, knocking you out and taking your stuff, so you decide to blow off some steam by wandering back down the mountain in the opposite direction to the way you came, looping back around by a longer path to return to your camp site from below. You still have your notebook; you don’t need a Pokédex to do some solid field research, and you can send Aura up to fly overhead and let you know if she spots anything interesting. You meander downward, stopping now and again to idly draw some of the plants or take a leaf rubbing; it’s all lichens, hardy mountain grasses and unpleasant thorny shrubs up here, only a couple of twisted, put-upon trees. It makes a lot of sense that you’ve only seen cave Pokémon like Zubat and Sandshrew. If you had all the time in the world to map the place out, you’d be interested to find all the springs and streams to see whether any cool Pokémon live there, although to be honest you doubt it.
Out here, further away from the real trails, you can also see some odd marks in the soil, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before – like someone took a power drill and used it to make precise, neat, shallow little holes in the ground here and there. You show the marks to Jane, who appears profoundly uninterested, and Scallion, who is curious but doesn’t seem to have any additional insight. You make a rough sketch and move on. Luck just doesn’t seem to be on your side today, and you don’t find any other evidence of Pokémon you didn’t already know about… but you do find signs of one you knew about but hadn’t yet seen. You’re on the northeast slope of Mount Moon now, where the sunlight is weakest. There are a lot of wild mushrooms here (most of them, alas, inedible to humans, although you pluck a few that should be okay for Scallion), including some red ones with yellow spots that you know by sight. If those are tochukaso, then…
You start angling for the darker gullies and follow the mushrooms whenever you see them. It doesn’t take long – you round a big boulder and right there, in its shade, is a little orange Bug Pokémon with two big front claws and a pair of red and yellow mushrooms growing out of its back. The Paras meets your eyes and considers you for a second… and doesn’t run. It strikes a defensive stance, its back arched to present its toxic mushrooms towards you. Game on. You look down at Jane Doe, who is still out of her ball, walking with you, and give her a nod.
With a puff of purple smoke, Jane turns into a perfect image of Kite, your Magikarp, and flops lamely forward towards the Paras. The Paras blinks in confusion, then rushes forward to stab the flailing fish with one of its big claws. At the last second before it connects, “Kite” slaps her Magikarp tail into the ground and gracefully somersaults into the air, slams into the Paras from above, then twists, bounces back and strikes it again from behind. The Paras whips around and begins to fire a blast of sparkling golden Stun Spore from its mushrooms, but Jane is too fast. Dismissing her illusionary form with a shimmer of purple light, she darts right back around the Paras, jabs it in the side and flips it onto its back. She gives you a quick smirk – easy win. You return her a professional nod, then grab a Pokéball from your belt and throw.
Paras has joined the party!
Height: 31 cm
Weight: 5.6 kg
Moves: Scratch, Stun Spore, Poison Powder
Ability: Effect Spore
Special Skills: None/Unknown?
The thought occurs that this is the first wild Pokémon you’ve really properly “caught” since Nancy on your first day as a trainer. You let your new Paras out and apply a little healing potion (something else the Clefairy “thoughtfully” let you keep), just as a “no hard feelings” gesture. The sentiment seems mutual, and the little shroom-bug cheerfully agrees to ride on your shoulder for a while as you get to know her.
By mid-afternoon, you’ve swung around and started heading westwards back up the mountain, and are just in sight of the camp. You can see people moving around and you’re about to wave to them, until Aura abruptly drops out of the sky and lands on your other shoulder, trilling anxiously and flashing her wing spots at you. You immediately understand she’s trying to warn you of danger and duck behind a convenient boulder. Moving forward slowly now and slipping from one piece of cover to another, you gradually get close enough to see what spooked her – three women, all in black, with big red capital Rs on their shirts. Jane growls quietly but angrily. These are members of the same criminal group you fought in Viridian Forest with those bug catchers, ‘Team Rocket.’ In fact… looking more closely, one of them might be one of the same people – the one who called herself ‘Kelly,’ who ditched her defeated comrades and got away. It’s a good thing you had Aura in the air, or you might not have realised anything was off until you were right on top of them. You can see all three of them are carrying stuff out of the camp tents and piling it in an open space by the fire pit.
You don’t see Ellie and Mal, or Blue, or any of the others, so you double back to make sure you’re out of earshot, then scrabble up some ledges in order to come at the camp from a different angle. Once you have a better vantage point, you can spot the six palaeontologists and Blue outside one of the sleeping tents. All of them are tied up, hands behind their backs, legs and feet trussed up, sitting in a circle and tied together with a big rope around all their torsos, except for Lexa, who has merely had her hands bound and a big stick jammed through the spokes of her wheelchair, which is positioned out of arms’ reach of the others. The Rockets seem to be largely ignoring them, and most of them look pretty defeated – heads hanging, faces blank – except Ellie, who seems to be watching the Rockets with a building fury in her eyes, and Lexa, who mostly just looks really annoyed.
Blue, who is staring dejectedly out into the distance past your hiding place, suddenly squints and cranes his neck upward. His eyes widen as he looks directly at you.
“Where the heck have you been?” he mouths at you silently, exaggerating the words to make them easier to follow. To be honest, you suspect “heck” was probably not the word he actually meant to use, but you’re gonna give him the benefit of the doubt.
You shrug helplessly, point back up the mountain in the rough direction of Miguel’s lair and the cave you explored earlier, then hold up your new Paras over your head to show him (she dutifully waves at him with one claw and does what you suspect is the Paras-mandible equivalent of a cheery smile).
Blue stares at you, duck-lipped, clearly wanting to smack his hand to his forehead but prevented by his bound hands, then finally mouths an overpronounced, incredulous “what?” One of the Rockets turns around and starts heading towards the prisoners, so Blue quickly shuts up and pretends to have been staring at the horizon the whole time.
Blue’s Pokéballs are just sitting unguarded on a table (he has… his Squirtle, that Pidgey, the Charmander and Pineco he caught on the way here… as far as you know, that’s everything, unless he’s caught something else up here on the mountain). You have to assume most or all of his Pokémon were defeated already, or the Rockets wouldn’t have left them unsecured. That means you can’t plan on getting any help even if you free him, but on the other hand, it’s likely that he went down fighting, so there’s a good chance they’re also under strength. Ellie and Mal mentioned that some of their crew had Pokémon, but that they were a bit rubbish at fighting, so you can’t count on them either. You’re also acutely aware that Scallion is still not back up to full strength after being exploded by Miguel’s Voltorb yesterday. You’re outnumbered, which calls for strategy: either a sudden and devastating surprise attack to exploit the fact that they don’t know you’re here, or some divide-and-conquer trickery. Alternatively, you could try to talk to the Rockets and find out what they want, see if there’s a peaceful resolution to be had, or you could just free your friends by stealth and leave without fighting. Or, y’know. You could always just ditch them and head straight for Cerulean City. I’m not saying you should, I’m just saying it’s definitely the opposite of what Larry would’ve done, and Larry was a dumb asshole.