One lunatic's love-hate relationship with the Pokémon franchise, and his addled musings on its rights, wrongs, ins and outs. Come one, come all, and indulge my delusions of grandeur as I inflict my opinions on anyone within shouting distance.
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.
What do you want to investigate? – Visit Lexa, then go looking for the Super Nerd
You decide that Mal and Ellie’s comments about a “weirdo” who hangs out at the mountain’s peak are the best thing to follow up, so you head over to the tent where they said their fossil conservator, Lexa, is busy working.
Screw it, may as well ask what he has in mind. You quietly gesture for Blue to continue. He waits for the Magikarp seller to reach a crescendo of enthusiasm in describing the virtues of his “product” (his words, not mine, just to be clear). Then, he presses something into your hand. You glance down at it. It’s… a plastic drinking straw? From… the restaurant you had lunch at in Pewter City yesterday, you guess? Has this just been in his pocket the whole time? Why did he even keep this? “Use that Pokémon you have,” Blue whispers to you under his breath. “The one you used in the gym battle.” Jane? How-? You look down at the straw again. Oh. You interrupt the Magikarp seller to cheerily ask him whether it would be all right for you to take a closer look at the merchandise. “By all means!” He waves a hand towards the tank. “See for yourself how smooth and soft its scales are!” Blue clears his throat. “So, uh, how exactly did you get into the Magikarp business, anyway?” “Oh, my young friend, you shouldn’t be asking about my story, but about how you can get into the Magikarp business! Let me explain…”
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.
What should Scallion do? – Just make it a straightforward fight – Scallion should be favoured. – Brock’s tough; you should try to come up with something more creative.
[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: Well, it would really be a shame to waste all the interesting suggestions for option B that I got in the comments and my Q&A inbox…]
The next stage of the fight goes just as you predicted. Geodude is already tiring, and after a few rounds of dodging, circling and jabbing, you spot it lowering its guard and call out. With an almighty THWACK, Scallion springs a coiled Vine Whip forward and nails Geodude right between the eyes. Geodude lurches back, lists in its formerly smooth hover, spins around drunkenly and crashes to the arena floor. “Super effective, babyyy!” hollers Abner from the stands, tossing his Metapod up into the air and catching it in celebration. The bug catchers all cheer, and out of the corner of your eye you even notice Lilac(?) slowly clapping, an enigmatic smirk dancing across his face. Brock joins the applause as he strides out onto the field to help his Pokémon pick itself up. “Now that’s a Bulbasaur,” he exclaims approvingly, before crouching to take his Geodude’s hand. “Good job as always, Geodude.” He gives his Pokémon a quick once-over before recalling it to its Pokéball and returning to his end of the arena. Scallion joins you back at your end of the field as well. “Well, I guess that means it’s time to get serious.” Brock suddenly has another Pokéball in his hand, and throws it high, higher, up towards the ceiling. “Onix, go!”
Which Pokémon do you plan to open with against Brock? – Jane Doe, the Zorua
Which Pokémon would you like to talk with? – Jane
You’re a reasonably down-to-earth kid. You’re not going to go charging into your first gym battle with a Pokémon on your team that, frankly, you barely know. You’re going to figure out what Jane’s deal is. As far as Jane herself is concerned, her deal is primarily rolling over and receiving belly rubs, and to be clear, you are 100% down for this. She is a good girl and her fur is almost outrageously soft and silky. You still want to know what her powers do, though. Jane’s species isn’t even in your Pokédex, but the Pokémon Centre has a book room with a decent collection of field guides and textbooks. With a little help from Jane herself, who yaps encouragingly whenever you find pictures of Pokémon from forested central Unova, you quickly find a profile in a recent trainer’s almanac. Like I said, Jane Doe is a Zorua. She’s a Dark-type and a fiercely intelligent ambush predator. She should be able to learn a range of speed-based techniques, as well as attacks that strike at an opponent’s senses or mental state, and she has certain unique abilities that make your eyes pop out like an old cartoon character’s when you read the book’s description. This definitely warrants a little practice before you go to bed.
Do you want to give Zorua a nickname? – Let Jim the Editor name it. – Let the Narrator name it.
[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: The dice say we give this one to the Narrator.]
Y’know kid, you shouldn’t make a habit of this; nicknames are personal and your Pokémon should have names you came up with for yourself. But yeah, all right; if you’re not feeling too creative I guess I can give you something. You don’t technically know this yet ‘cause it’s not in your Pokédex, but what you’ve got there is a Zorua, a rare Pokémon that can impersonate other Pokémon using illusion magic – keeping its true identity secret from all but the keenest observers. With that in mind, and by the power vested in me, I hereby name this Pokémon:
Jane seems pretty pleased with herself just for having a nickname at all. You gotta have an identity in order to conceal it, I guess.
What kind of Pokémon wanted to join you? – Creepy – Intelligent
The odd thing is, you didn’t see it at first. You mostly remember releasing Bug Pokémon from the cages – Caterpie, Weedle, Ledyba, Spinarak. There were some Pidgey, even a couple of Pikachu, who immediately fled into the underbrush. Not really anything you’re surprised to see; hell, aside from the Pikachu you aren’t even sure what Pokémon there are here that are even worth poaching. What is the business model of a Pokémon poacher, anyway? You make a mental note to ask your prisoners that. The point is, everything you consciously remember seeing is… well, not that you’d ever put it like this, but trash.
But when you glance over your shoulder at Scallion and Nancy, the Pokémon talking to them isn’t any of those. It’s… a four-legged, furry charcoal-grey Pokémon with a pointed face and keen, intelligent, almost sinister eyes. Did it just come out of the forest? No, you’re sure it walked over to them from the stream of Pokémon you were releasing from the cages. You saw it out of the corner of your eye.
What do you do with your prisoners? – Restrain Kevin so you can drag them both to the authorities.
You all take a moment to revel in your victory and high-five each other before doing anything else. You’ve got time; Ned is already pretty securely tied up, and Kevin… well, Kevin’s still moping over his unconscious Zubat. Poor guy seems like he’s having some kind of breakdown. Abner has his Pokémon start spinning more silk, and you help him tie up Kevin and attach some extra leads to Ned’s cocoon so you can drag him along the ground behind you. Meanwhile Stacey and Ellis tend to the injuries the Pokémon have suffered – including Zubat. You aren’t sure about the ethics of confiscating the loyal Pokémon of criminal trainers, and you don’t want to risk Ned’s Pokémon trying to fight you if you let them out, so you get Kevin to recall his Zubat and decide to let the police in Pewter City sort it out once you get there. Neither Kevin nor Ned seem to be in any mood to talk (even if Ned’s mouth weren’t muffled by the silk), and refuse to say anything about their operation. Once you’re sure Kevin’s hands are securely bound, you start moving back in the direction of the clearing where you found them.
How do you deal with the poachers? – Use your Bug Pokémon to create snares and set up an ambush.
If you get into a fight, which Pokémon will you use? – Scallion, the Bulbasaur – Nancy the Negator, the Minun
[AUTHOR TIEBREAK: Nancy can cheer for our other Pokémon from the sidelines, so let’s have Scallion take point.]
You think about the problem for a minute. Yeah, all things considered, Dane has a point; the five of you with all your Pokémon probably could take these clowns with a good battle plan, even if they do turn out to be a bit stronger than you individually. But why risk it? You all have Bug Pokémon that can spin silk (except maybe Ellis? You glance at him questioningly and he confirms that, yes, his Beedrill is still young enough to remember String Shot) – you can use them to create nets and webs, string them up between the trees, then lure the poachers into a trap. With any luck, you won’t even have to fight.