A Pokémon Trainer is You! XLIII: Rocket to the Moon

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Do you want to give Paras a nickname?

  • Receive an AI-generated name

Okay!  Look at this, kid; you’re gonna love this.  It’s gonna revolutionise the whole business of naming Pokémon.  All you have to do is plug in some context data to get the AI started…

and presto!

Um.  Well, it… uh…

Look, it’s still in the experimental stages, okay?  Needs some… y’know, refining.  Work the kinks out.

I mean, your Paras seems pretty chuffed about it; she’s acting all bashful and her mushrooms are blushing.  Weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.

Ah, whatever; Cutie it is!

What do you do next?

  • Try to draw one of the Rockets away from the camp

Who will be your go-to Pokémon in case of a fight?

  • Jane Doe, the Zorua

Divide and conquer it is.  And putting your chips on Jane makes sense; she’s been itching for round two against these bozos since before you even met her.  Not to mention, Kelly has that Drowzee, remember?  Yeah, you remembered.

You creep back from your vantage point to review your options.  You know Jane’s going to be your opener when the fighting starts, but you also need something to get the attention of one of the Rockets.  You could always use one of Jane’s illusions, of course, but you don’t really want to send her into the camp alone, even in disguise.  Maybe a loud noise that one of them will want to investigate?  Not something that sounds too scary or dangerous, or they’ll want to stick together.  A rare Pokémon…?  They seem to like rare Pokémon.  What Pokémon do you have that can make a loud noise…?

Perfect.

You move slowly back around the camp until you’re downhill and almost out of earshot again.  Hidden behind a boulder, you bring out Scallion and Nancy the Negator to brief them and Jane on the plan.  You decide to leave Cutie on your shoulder; she’s probably not in any condition to actually fight after battling Jane, let alone powerful enough to contend with whatever Team Rocket is packing, but she may as well watch.

As soon as you’re ready, Nancy starts cheering loudly and dances out from behind the boulder, jumping up and down enthusiastically.  Jane Doe veils herself in a flash of purple light and dances out beside Nancy, looking exactly like her.  Zorua illusions are bad with sound, but with a real Minun right next to her, no one will notice if Jane’s chanting is off.  You should be just close enough to get their attention.

Sure enough, a minute later one of the Team Rocket gangsters comes stomping down the hillside, with a surly expression like she drew the short straw and the other two made her go and take a look.  It’s the sour-faced woman with pink bangs and a black flat-cap that you recognise as “Kelly” – not her real name, you remember, but it’ll do.  She has a Pokéball in one hand and some kind of net in the other.  As she gets closer, you see her catch sight of the “two Minun” and start to grin slyly, readying the net and changing the direction of her approach, aiming to come at Nancy and Jane from the side.  She thinks they haven’t noticed her, too immersed in their dance.

Here are the things Kelly should be considering:

One: Minun are very rare in the Kanto region and live mainly in verdant, secluded meadow habitats, not high, rocky mountains.  In fairness to her, it’s possible she is considering this, and her finely honed poacher instincts have already distilled that information to the sound “ka-ching!”
Two: It’s extremely unusual for multiple Minun to hang out together without a Plusle or some other Electric-type to balance their negative charge.  Trying again to be fair, you know this, but Kelly probably doesn’t.
Three: In her ill-fated encounter with you and the bug catchers in Viridian Forest, you had Nancy on the sidelines cheering for your other Pokémon.  She’s probably tried to put that particular battle out of her mind.  As it turns out, this was a very dumb move on her part.

And in the spirit of being fair to her, she does suddenly hesitate, right at the moment she seems close enough to throw the net, doubt flickering across her eyes.  It’s just kind of a shame that’s also the moment that you snap your fingers, Nancy takes a quick triple hop backward to keep up her cheering from a safe distance, and Jane drops her veil and somersaults forward to knock the net from Kelly’s hand with her Fury Swipes.

“GAAAGH!” Kelly yells, opening the Pokéball in her left hand and immediately fumbling for another.  Her Ekans materialises in a blaze of light, but before it can register what’s going on or take any orders, Jane has perfectly chained her opening Fury Swipes on Kelly into a string of nasty claw attacks all along the length of Ekans’ serpentine body, each strike in time with a syllable of Nancy’s chant.  Ekans hisses, rears up and fires a Poison Sting spray that completely fails to connect as its trainer, distracted by grabbing for her second Pokéball, tries to spit out a tongue-tied order.  Jane feints left, then darts around to strike Ekans in the back of the head; it’s already out cold by the time Kelly’s Drowzee hits the battlefield.  Kelly has seemingly regained her composure, but despite having held Jane in captivity before, you don’t think she actually knows what a Zorua is.  She makes the mistake of ordering Drowzee to use Confusion.  To continue the theme of being fair to her… well, it’s an easy mistake for a Kantonian trainer to make.  Famously not a lot of Dark-types in this region.  Jane smirks as the psychic wave folds harmlessly around her, then appears to flicker out of existence for a moment before dashing forward past Drowzee, spinning lightly on her hind legs and slashing it down the back.  Drowzee lamely tries to make a hypnotic gesture before groggily collapsing to the ground.

Kelly glares at Jane with a mixture of shock and fury, recalls both her Pokémon at once and goes to make a run for it.  As she turns around, you step out from behind the boulder and call out to her.  Kelly does a double take.

“Wh-YOU!”  Her face looks as though it’s wrestling with several different thoughts at once – anger, surprise, humiliation, determination, calculation.  She hesitates just long enough for you to execute the final step of the plan.  Before she can run back up towards the camp site, a blanket of twinkling blue-green pollen motes settles around her head.  Scallion looks up at you and gives a satisfied nod as Kelly promptly falls asleep.

Nicely done, kid!  You grin at Scallion, Nancy and Jane Doe and congratulate them on the flawless execution of the ambush.  Cutie, still perched on your shoulder, makes an enthusiastic chittering chirping noise that you can only interpret as the sound of a very impressed Paras.  But you don’t have long to celebrate.  You drag Kelly back behind your boulder and hurry to tie her hands and feet with Scallion’s vines.  You’re not great with knots, but it’ll have to do.  You’ve taken out one of the three Rockets with only a fraction of the energy you spent on your last battle with the likes of them.  You could keep up the misdirection approach that’s worked so far, but when the other two realise Kelly’s been gone too long, they’ll come after her, and they’ll be on their guard this time.  They might even have heard the sounds of battle.  You also can’t move Kelly far in a short time, even with help from your Pokémon (none of them are really built for carrying heavy loads).  Maybe it’s better to press your advantage and attack before they get ready.  Heck, if you still think parley is on the table, you’d be in a stronger position now that you have a prisoner to exchange.  Assuming the other two give a Rattata’s ass about Kelly, which… well, I guess we’ll find out, one way or another?

10 thoughts on “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XLIII: Rocket to the Moon

  1. I think for reasons you noted, an ambush is unlikely to work twice. I also can’t imagine Kelly isn’t… valuable enough of a bargaining chip (Team Rocket isn’t known for their benevolence and she’s now screwed up *twice* to a child). I think we need to attempt to 1v2 them.

    Fortunately we have numbers and honestly I think we need to utilize that. In a fit of chaos I voted Kite just to see how our protagonist would even pull that off (just having him involved somehow could get him some valuable experience and, with assistance, he might be able to do… something?) Otherwise though, I think our entire party is in fine shape aside from maybe Cutie, who’s okay now but did have to be weakened before capture and probably isn’t at her peak performance. I don’t think the others even took a hit from Kelly though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Phrases dependent on context outside the actual text will always cause this kind of AI to fall flat on its face; even self-awareness won’t help if they’re kept in a bubble the way they probably will be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This AI has an extremely large set of training data. I’ve been playing with it a lot, and it is *sometimes* able to pull in that kind of context from other things it’s “read” (it roughly “knows” what a Pokémon is, for instance). Not reliably or in ways that necessarily make sense, but that’s part of the fun.

      Like

    1. It makes sense; Parasect inherits the friendship values of what would otherwise be argued as a completely separate Pokémon.

      Liked by 1 person

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