Friday, July 29, 2016

Arcus Bodark in Kanto: Chapter 1

Chapter 1: A Beginning

My name is Professor Arcus Bodark. After years of running around this world on pokemon journeys, I have decided it is time to begin recording my adventures for posterity. Hopefully I will have many more, but I am growing older, and I have seen too much of the damage that can happen unexpectedly. I have journals that I kept over the years, even since my first journey, but they are less than entirely coherent and I wouldn't want to bore or confuse any who may decide to read my ramblings down the road. I will follow these journals closely, but with the eyes of a man who has seen and experienced far more than the boy I was at those times.

I was born to two parents who loved each other very much, even though they saw each other only seldom. My mother was born in the Sinnoh region, and my father was from Unova. They met in the last war and settled together in the Kanto region after the dust had settled and started a pidgey farm. There was just too much wanderlust in my father to truly settle down, or at least that is what my mother often told me as I was growing up on our farm right on the edge of Pallet Town. I had two brothers and three sisters. The twins, Latia and Latio were one year older than I was; Keld, Shaymi, and Jira followed, each one year afterwards.

We farmed pidgey. This is not the most glorious of professions in the world, but it kept us fed and most of our needs met. Pidgey are not the strongest, smartest, or most beautiful of pokemon, but they produce eggs at a fast rate and taste delicious fried or roasted. While my father was out on journeys, fighting and adventuring with his pokemon, we were raising pidgey. Farming, especially livestock raising, leads to a rather utilitarian view towards life and living things. You get to know and accept the nature and inevitability of death early on. Farming means being surrounded by life and death in great variety. You come to terms with death, but realize that death in no way makes life meaningless. It adds to the vibrancy and significance of what you do with your life to have an awareness of death.

By the time I was ready to go out on my own in midsummer of my tenth year, I was sick and tired of pidgey. I saw all the beautiful and exotic variety of pokemon from around the world in town, on television, and in books. Then I looked at the flock of dull, brown birds with their clipped wings in our enclosure and was less than inspired. Of course, growing up surrounded by them day in and out could make even a school of milotic seem mundane, I suppose. Also, when you raise livestock, it is necessary to remain emotionally distant from them.  Some of the pidgey we raised would be sold to trainers or kept as breeding stock, but most were meant for the table. The breeding stock were fairly safe to become attached to, but you had to say goodbye to any that were sold, and those who didn't fall into those categories, sooner or later, had to be killed, plucked, dressed, and sent to market.

My mother offered to send one of the young breeding hens or cockerels with me to be my first companion, but the Professor in town was offering a rare pokemon to each ten year old in town who was leaving on their first journey. That was an offer that was hard to resist.

Before I left for the Professor's labratory, my mother insisted on having a prayer. She was always very religious, thus why each of us children had been named for various legendary or mythical pokemon she hoped would look over and inspire us. She kissed me on my head and told me never to be shy about returning home, be it for a rest or the rest of my life. Latia and Latio had already returned from their short journeys and wished me luck, and the younger ones looked up in envy that my time had come while they still had to wait for theirs.

It was just a short walk to the lab, but it was huge in my mind. Not that the distance felt long, but I was no longer a farm boy on a farm. I was an adventurer out on a pokemon journey, like my father. Now all I needed was my first pokemon.

When I entered Professor Oak's laboratory, there was one other kid waiting to start his first journey. Regi Locust from the ranch on the other side of town was not a friend of mine. He thought just because we farmed pidgey and his family raised tauros and some rare imported miltank that he was so much better than me. This irked me all the more because, at the time, I didn't actually disagree with him. Tauros and miltank were much more valuable than pidgey. Having miltank gave them a near monopoly on the market for fresh moomoo milk in the area, which of course only the wealthy could afford in Kanto. Tauros' meat was seen as a much more high class food than pidgey's. Also, pidgey had to evolve twice before it was able to hold a rider, while tauros were large enough to ride from the day they hatched. Regi Locust thought he was better than me and I didn't disagree with his reasoning.

I walked to the back of the lab, where Professor Oak stood, while pointedly not looking at Regi. "So, was your dad there to see you off?" Regi snarked, "Or is he still too embarrassed by his kids to stay home more than a few days every few months?"

"It's not my fault both of your parents don't have what it takes for life on the road and stay in boring Pallet Town all year, every year." I responded.

"Boys, really," the Professor interjected, "Standing there insulting one another's families is no way to solve your differences. That is what pokemon battles are for! Just pick your first pokemon from those on the table, and then you can solve your dispute like civilized gentlemen."

I was rather sure there was a hint of sarcasm in the professor's voice, but an opportunity to show Regi I was better just sounded too good.

"Tell you what," Regi sneered as he genuflected with false benevolence, "You pick first, that way you can't say I won because I got to pick first."

I stepped up to the table and looked at the papers and pictures under each pokeball describing the pokemon inside. There was an orange fire lizzard with a flaming tail called a charmander, a blue water turtle called a squirtle, and a green frogish lizard thing with a plant growing our of it's back called a bulbasaur. The papers said that if the flame on a charmander's tail went out, it could die. That sounded like a definite weakness to me. The squirtle looked like it could take a hit well, but it didn't look like something that could hit very hard. The bulbasaur, though, looked rather strong and sturdy at the same time; also, the fact that the plant part and animal part formed a symbiotic relationship, resulting in a half-plant half-animal creature sounded intriguing.

"I pick the bulbasaur!" I announced as I picked up it's ball.

"Then I choose charmander!" Regi picked immediately afterwards.

"Aren't you going to read about them before you decide?" I was flabbergasted that he would make such an important decision so quickly.

"I read all about them before you came," Regi replied smugly, "All three have their strengths and weaknesses, I just needed to know which one you were going to pick to choose the one that is strong against your weaknesses. Charmander, being a fire tipe, is strong against the grass type bulbasaur. Bulbasaur, being a grass type, is strong against the water typed squirtle. Squirtle on the other hand is water, which is strong against fire. This way, by letting you choose first, and being more prepared, I have won the battle before it even starts!"

"Whatever," I said, "If you need to steal advantage to win, that shows how good you really are. I don't need to trick you to win!"

"Alright then!" Professor Oak giddily interjected, "Now it is time for some rookie pokemon battling! Each of you let your pokemon out of their balls and decide if you want to name them!"

Both Regi Locust and I let our pokemon out. My bulbasaur and I took a long look at each other before I decided. "Well, you're part plant, so I think I'll name you after a part of a plant. I'm going to call you Anther!"

Anther smiled up at me and nodded his agreement.

Regi groaned, "That's just silly. Charmander, you are a charmander, and I'm not going to give you some silly name that will make you sound rediculous. I'm just going to call you what you are. Got it?"

Charmander nodded agreement with a grim, stoic face.

I looked at the sheet that said what attacks Anther knew how to do. "Anther, use tackle!"

Regi then ordered, "Charmander, use ember!"

Charmander looked confusedly at him and growled at Anther. Anther's tackle hit, but no fire was spit by charmander, just the growl.

"What in the reverse-world is wrong with you Charmander?" Regi yelled, "Use ember, not growl!"

"Tackle again." I told Anther.

Once again Charmander just growled and Anther's tackle slammed into it, however with a bit less strength this time.

"What's wrong with this pokemon?" the young Locust boy yelled at Professor Oak, "I keep telling it to use ember, but it just keeps growling!"

Once again the Charmander used growl, lowering Anther's power to it's attacks. As I ordered a tackle again, it hit, but once again was hitting with less force.

"Your charmander doesn't know ember yet," the professor replied, "Charmander only knows growl and scratch."

"Why in the world," Regi asked incredulously, "Would you teach a pokemon growl?"

His charmander once again took the use of the word as an order to use the move growl, while I once again ordered Anther to attack once again, but somehow, Charmander' growls kept making Anther's attacks weaker.

"Scratch would only be good as a back up attack!" Regi continued ranting at the professor, barely paying attention to the battle he was fighting. However, Charmander took the saying of the attacks name as an order to finally use the attack, scratch.  By this point, after all of those growls, my bulbasaur's attacks were barely doing any damage, but Charmander's scratch cut deep. After just being hit once, it was clear that Anther was hurting.

"Why in the world would you even call it a pokemon if it has an attack as useless as growl!" Regi screamed, going almost into a full tantrum. His pokemon looked back at him pleadingly, but without any other instruction took the mention of growl once again as an order, obviously trying to have faith that it's trainer knew what he was doing in telling him to growl again instead of scratch. By this time though, it's growls had already weakened Anther as much as they were going to and the next tackle hit, while not as powerfully as at first, with no less power than last time.

"Growl, growl!" Regi repeated mockingly at Professor Oak while throwing his hands up in the air, still paying no attention to his fading pokemon.

"Tackle again?" I said halfheartedly, not being sure about how my first battle was going. Anther, also clearly reluctant at this point, pretty much just nudged Charmander one last time and he fell over, defeated.

"While you were throwing a hissy-fit," the professor pointed out, "Your pokemon has blacked out from it's injuries and you have officially lost your first battle. Young Mr. Bodark is the winner."

"Of course he won! Because of you!" Regi Locust accused, "He wasn't given a flaming pile of poop without any fire attacks!"

"His pokemon didn't have any grass type tacks either." Professor Oak sighed, "He just kept focused on the battle and used tackle. Really, if you had just used scratch a couple times towards the end there, you probably would have won, but you were too busy whining at me."

"Whatever, Professor and Professor's Pet!" Regi pointed the pokeball at Charmander, "Return if you aren't dead." The fire pokemon, with it's tail flame barely flickering, flashed into energy and disappeared back into it's pokeball.

My bulbasaur looked up at me, confused and unsure about what was happening. "It's okay," I told it, "You did good. Here, come back to your pokeball and I'll take you to my mom to get those scratches patched up."

"I'm going too, I'm going to fight you sometime when I have real pokemon with real attacks, and then you'll see why you'll never be like me," the young Locust boy boasted, "You at least knew enough to not make me angrier by letting your little leaf-toad thing kill my pokemon while it was knocked out. Maybe sometime I'll show one of your pokemon mercy. Or maybe I won't. We'll see how I feel then."

As the angry boy left I couldn't help thinking that I hoped he was right, that I'd never be like him.