I woke up on a couch.
I appeared to be in someone’s living room, by myself as far as I could tell. I tried to remember the events that led to me crashing on a sofa, but my recollection of last night was like a sloppy oil painting. Which was odd, because I’m not even close to the legal drinking age, but on the other hand, I did stay up way past my bedtime. There had been a big party, and a lot of food, for both me and my Pokemon, but after that…nothing. I sat up groggily, patting down my jeans and trainer’s jacket to make sure all of my belongings were still there. My Pokeballs were empty. A flash of panic: Could I have underestimated those idiots…?
Then I spotted Mr. Suds. He was curled up at the bottom of a large fish tank, bubbles rising lazily to the surface from the corner of his mouth. I shuffled across the carpet, still half asleep, and rapped on the glass.
“Hey! Rise and shine. We’ve got to get going.” He stretched and yawned, sending forth a cascade of bubbles, then stood up gingerly and poked his head out of the water. He regarded me with half-lidded eyes. “Yeah, yeah, I’m sure it’s real comfortable in there, but unless you want to eat fish food for the rest of your life, we’re going to have to leave eventually. And take off those ridiculous-” Oh yeah! He had ears now. “Uh, never mind, actually. Let’s go find your teammates.”
Without any leads on where G’yorp disappeared to, I headed back to the Pokemon center. While I was waiting to get my Pokemon back, I overheard two guys, perhaps a little older than me, talking over coffee at one of the tables scattered around the waiting room.
“-there was this crashing noise loud enough to wake the dead, and all the time this hooting and shouting was going on. All of a sudden this kid bursts out of the door followed by a whole herd of Pokemon, with this huge plume of smoke billowing out behind him.”
Ever since I emerged from the caves of Mt. Moon I was focused on getting to Cerulean City as fast as possible. As tired as I was after that subterranean ordeal, I refused to let my pace slacken. Fortunately, I didn’t run into any time-consuming battles along the way, and the city was a pretty straight shot from the cavern exit. But to be perfectly honest, now that I’m finally here…I kind of just want to take a nap somewhere.
Somewhere without Zubats.
How long have I been wandering in these nightmarish caverns? It’s impossible to say. This place is built like a labyrinth, and its twisting passages seem to distort my perception of space and time. It feels like I’ve been walking for miles, but these tunnels look so similar to me that I could end up back where I started and I’d never be able to tell. Sometimes I feel like it would be pointless to go on.
There was one more thing I wanted to do before I left for Cerulean. I remembered passing a tiny patch of grass on my way into town. When I left Viridan Forest, I had been so eager to get to the Pokemon Center that I ran right by it without a second thought. But I knew I would need more team members if I hoped to challenge the stronger Gyms, so I decided that it would be worth a look to see if any of my future allies were waiting for me there.
What I got was this:
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Pidgeys were, and always would be, my bane as a Pokemon Trainer. I was about to give Chuckles the signal to dispose of this interloper when I suddenly had second thoughts.
While Pidgeys were small, common and weak, they were scrappy and surprisingly persistent fighters. And if I wanted to become a good Trainer, could I really afford to hold grudges? In order to stand a chance, I needed to put aside my personal feelings and do whatever it took to win. I called back Chuckles. He was a good fighter, but I doubted his ability to attack the Pidgey without murdering it instantly.
Instead, I sent out JitterBug, a more subtle and versatile agent for this purpose. Sometime during the confrontation with Space Kid and his Geodude she seemed to have learned a new move.
“JitterBug! Use Poison Powder to incapacitate it!”
I figured that fainting from poison would be a pretty bad way to start off our relationship, so I ran SupaFly back to the Pokemon Center as fast as I could to get her all healed up. The nurse behind the counter saw me walk in and dispensed with the usual pleasantries. “New arrival, huh?” she remarked as she saw me place four Pokeballs down in front of her, instead of the customary three. “Uh, yeah. I caught a Pidgey just outside the forest.” She scooped my Pokeballs into the tray and called “That’ll be about ten minutes, hon,” over her shoulder as she carried them into the back room. I think they were starting to recognize me. If it wasn’t for the fact that Pokemon Centers were free, I would probably be racking up a tab by now.
Finally, I decided to stop in the PokeMart to top up my supplies of potions, antidotes, and Pokeballs. Can’t be too careful. I also chatted up the locals a bit before taking my leave.
Now that all my preparations were complete, it was time to set out on my mission. No, not becoming the League Champion, my other, far more important mission: keeping tabs on G’yorp. Back in Oak’s lab, he and Bulbasaur had bonded to one another immediately through some kind of bizarre animal magnetism that I still didn’t fully understand. And during our last battle, he had also fought with a Pidgey that seemed to be doing his bidding. Which means that he had somehow convinced a formerly wild Pokemon to join his merry band. I felt an icy terror begin to grow in the pit of my stomach as the disturbing implications of this fact slowly dawned on me.
G’yorp clearly didn’t know how to operate a Pokeball. Which meant that he somehow convinced a Pokemon to fight for him without the use of a capture device. I had no idea how he did it, but if he really had some kind of extraordinary ability to make wild Pokemon into his allies, there was no telling what sort of horrifyingly destructive Pocket Monsters might fall under his sway. I could see it now: G’yorp traveling the countryside, followed by a rampaging Magmar, or a Gyarados, or a Pinsir, or a herd of Tauros, or a Dragonite, or something even worse than all these hiding deep within the bowels of the earth that had yet to be discovered, laying waste to towns and cities…it was too awful to contemplate. He had to be stopped.
The only thing I knew about G’yorp’s motivations was that apparently something had caused him to seek out and challenge Brock. What did that mean? Was he attracted to Gym leaders for some reason? Was he seeking out strong trainers to battle as a test of his power? Either way, it was a fair bet that he would turn up at another Gym sooner or later. Checking my town map, it looked like the closest Gym to Pewter City was Cerulean’s, which lay to the East through Mt. Moon. If I headed there, I might be able to find him, or someone who could tell me where he went.
But the subterranean passage beneath the mountain was not a road that I was eager to travel. There were tales about the Pokemon that dwelt deep within the endless dark of those caves…and of the trainers who caught them and used them to prey upon unsuspecting wanderers in the twisting tunnels they called home. I gripped Mr. Suds’ Pokeball tightly, and that made me feel a bit better. Do your worst, cave monsters! I had a badass turtle, a psychic butterfly, and a monkey that punched stuff! And now I had a fairly plain-looking bird also, although she was untested in combat. Shouldering my pack, I left Pewter behind and began to march eastward, the lonely peak of Mt. Moon looming far ahead.
Well, my first problem was readily apparent. The route from Pewter City to Mt. Moon was overrun with trainers spoiling for a fight. I was trying to determine the best way of avoiding them when I found myself approached by this rather fetching young girl.
The fight itself was pretty uneventful. Two bored looking Pidgeys. I gave one each to Chuckles and JitterBug, just to keep them sharp. “Goddamn,” I muttered to myself as the second Pidgey hit the dirt. “This girl is even worse than Space Kid.” With the battle ended, I reached out to give her a sportsmanlike handshake. She stared at me as if I had just torn the head off of a Zubat with my teeth and offered her a bite.
“You…you…YOU’RE MEEAAAN!” She shoved past me roughly and started running towards the nearest Pokemon Center.
“Hey!” I called after her. “YOU’RE the one who wanted to fight ME! I’m not the bad guy here!” The only answer was the sound of her wailing faintly. I turned back to where JitterBug was hovering serenely. “I’m not the bad guy. Am I?”
The Butterfree stared back at me, inscrutable. If I’ve learned only one thing from being a Pokemon trainer, it’s that Bug types all have fantastic poker faces.
Speaking of which, the next trainer who blocked the road to Mt. Moon was a Bug Catcher. He shouted as soon as he saw me. “You! I remember you from Viridian Forest!” He walked to the center of the path to begin our battle.
“Perfect,” I said, unhooking a Pokeball from my belt. “I think you should be…an adequate test.”
“You took a whole week’s worth of my allowance, but now I’m gonna take it back!”
“…maybe, maybe not. SupaFly, rise and shine!”
SupaFly burst out of her Pokeball with an intimidating screech and a flurry of beating wings. Alright, off to good start. The Bug Catcher sent out his Caterpie.
“You may have a type advantage, but my Caterpie and I can still wallop you!”
“Caterpie? Please. I’ve already KO’d more of those things than I can count. I don’t even need to use any Flying moves. SupaFly, hit him with a tackle!” I waited for the attack that would put a swift end to this battle…but nothing happened. SupaFly had instead wandered over to a patch of grass on the left side of the road and was scratching around in the dirt, completely ignoring the Caterpie. I cleared my throat, loudly.
My Pokemon continued to hop around and peck at the ground, possibly looking for something shiny. Who even knows why birds do anything.
Again, ignored completely.
The Pidgey looked up at me with her beady eyes. It seemed to me that there was a disapproving cast to her face, but then again Pidgies look like that all the time. I noticed that the Bug Catcher had yet to make a move. It seemed he was too busy watching this astounding failure of Pidgey discipline. In a last ditch attempt to get my Pidgey to actually do something, I ran at her while yelling and waving my arms, trying to physically herd her towards the enemy Caterpie. Instead, she casually hopped over to the patch of grass on the opposite side of the road. This…is getting…RIDICULOUS, I thought in exasperation.
I repeated this performance three or four times, and each time SupaFly nonchalantly crossed to the other side of the path, completely ignoring the Bug Pokemon in front of her. By this time a number of other trainers along the route had halted their battles and come to watch this PokeFarce unfold, and I could hear them muttering and snickering to one another. Running around like a moron clearly wasn’t getting me anywhere, and by now I was starting to get pretty ticked off.
“Supa-Supafly. SUPAFLY.” I growled through my teeth in that sort of shout-whisper that ends up being slightly louder than just speaking normally. “You are embarrassing me in front of the other trainers. I won’t have this, missy! I will not HAVE IT!” SupaFly began preening her feathers unhurriedly. “ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING-”
“All right, I think I’ve seen enough.” The Bug Catcher cut in, stepping forward. “There’s no way you can win this battle if you can’t even control your own Pokemon. It’s time to put you out of your misery. Caterpie, attack!”
The Caterpie started inching forward dutifully, but that proved to be a huge mistake. As soon as it entered into SupaFly’s field of vision, her eyes fixed on the diminutive insect and her whole body seemed to perk up. I could tell exactly what she was thinking.
Before it could react, SupaFly bowled the Caterpie over with a powerful gust from her wings and swooped over to where it lay, pecking at its now exposed belly.
The remainder of the fight, if it could be called that, was short and brutal. The Caterpie soon stopped struggling completely under the onslaught of pecks; it was clearly out cold. The Bug Catcher looked stunned at this sudden and complete reversal of fortune. So was I, for that matter, but I didn’t have to let him know that.
“Ha…ahaha! Our strategy worked like a charm! Good job, SupaFly! You can come back now.”
But she didn’t come back. Instead she remained perched over the fallen Caterpie, opening her beak wide.
Yumyumfood, yumyumfood, yumyumFOOD!
The Bug Catcher was shocked out of his silence. “Hey! What are you doing? The fight’s over. Leave my Caterpie alone!”
SupaFly lifted her head back, ready to take a big bite out of her fallen opponent. Just before her beak pierced the tender bug flesh, a red beam of light flashed out and sucked her back into her Pokeball. My erstwhile opponent ran forward to kneel over his unconscious Caterpie.
“What the hell was that? You almost killed him! That Pidgey of yours is still half wild!”
“Well, I…I only caught her earlier today and there have been some…issues.” I finished lamely, staring at the ground
“Just…keep your Pokemon away from me!” He collected his fallen bug companion and ran off as fast as his legs could carry him. With the battle over, the crowd of onlookers were beginning to disperse, shaking their heads and muttering darkly. I stared down at SupaFly’s Pokeball, still clutched tight in my hand.
The only upside of that rather disastrous battle was that the other trainers seemed to have no desire to fight the kid with the berserk Pidgey, and had made themselves scarce accordingly. There appeared to be no one left to block my path. I hooked the ball back onto my belt and started off once again towards the looming specter of Mt. Moon on the eastern horizon.
“I knew catching one of you bastards was a bad idea…”
Before I went to challenge the Pewter Gym, I thought it would be prudent to go heal up my Pokemon. The forest wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared, but those Bug Catchers had gotten a few decent hits in. And by that I mean that Mr. Suds still had some String Shot stuck to his shell, and I think Chuckles may have scuffed his paw after punching all those Kakunas in the face. Truly, this world is dark and full of peril.
Call me crazy, but I was under the impression that evolution is, in general, a beneficial process. Organisms such as Pokemon evolve in order to be better suited to their environment and increase their chances of survival by making it easier to find food, avoid predators, etc. So, say you’ve got a Caterpie. They’re pretty small, and they don’t have any arms, but their coloration helps them blend in with leaves and foliage, so that’s a plus. Also, their little stubby foot-nubs can cling to most surfaces, and they can shoot sticky string to entangle their enemies, which is also pretty helpful. Not the toughest or scariest Pokemon in the world, but it’s something I can work with. But wait! Just then, Old Man Evolution decides to come along and reward all my hard work and training by taking away its legs. Gee, thanks a lot Old Man Evolution, thanks for removing my Caterpie’s only means of locomotion. I really appreciate it. I’m so glad we fought all those Rattatas now.
P.S. You’re a DOUCHE
I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty broken up about BugJuice. For a while I thought about giving up the trainer gig altogether. But then I would be letting Mr. Suds ravage the countryside unchecked, and I’m pretty sure that’s a disaster waiting to happen. Also, Chuckles was at a confusing and emotional stage in his life. What would he do without me to act as a good influence on him? He would lose all sense of direction and identity, and probably he would run off to the city and join a Mankey gang that loiters under streetlamps and uses Leer on random passers-by. Next he would start engaging in risky behavior, objectifying female Mankeys, and taking all kinds of dangerous Mankey drugs like X Attack, Dire Hit, and PCP. As a trainer, I could not allow that to happen.
I know I shouldn’t be complaining, but after the ordeal involved in capturing Chuckles, the Caterpie was almost a dissapointment. I honestly felt bad for the little guy, with his big, shiny eyes staring up at me. But, I knew that serious trainers needed a lot of variety on their team. And after getting walloped in the ol’ ultra balls by a fighting type, I thought that a bug sounded about my speed. Plus, I could barely walk to the Pokémart without tripping over at least four of the damn things.