|Of Boys And Bugs
Author: Clare PM
Essentially, this asks what if someone tried to cheat at the Bug Catching Contest? Rated PG because there's a mile swear word in it.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 3,442 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 04-10-02 - Status: Complete - id: 712812
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The National Park's Bug-Catching Contest always attracted a large number of entries and today looked like it would be no different. Pokemon trainers came from all over to take part, some with a view to winning the coveted Sun Stone but most simply to catch any Bug Pokemon they needed to fill their Pokedexes.
Mario, however, was only interested in winning - he didn't care what the prize was as long as it proved he was a great trainer who could capture the best Bug Pokemon. Among the other trainers he had a reputation for been the sort of person who wanted to win at all costs. Even if that meant "bending the rules" . . .
He smoothed down his shaggy brown hair and strolled casually ove to the sign-up line, his Nidorino at his side. Ahead, he could see Eilish, a girl from his hometown of Azalea who had started training not long after him, standing with her Teddiursa and smirked to himself. Surely she didn't plan to enter a Pokemon that looked like a stuffed toy, he thought; some of the Bugs could be pretty tough and it wasn't unknown for a trainer's chosen Pokemon to faint during the contest. If that happened, that trainer had to report back to the entrance and forfeit all chances of catching a prize-winning Bug.
Not that Mario was about to let that happen to him. Nidorino was strong, but he needed a back-up Pokemon. So, making sure no-one was looking, he quickly slipped the Poke Ball containing his Murkrow into the deep pocket of his jeans - with two Pokemon to help him, he was bound to win the contest and the accolades of his fellow trainers along with it.
Once all the trainers had signed up and were assembled with their Pokemon inside the Park, the Contest organiser stepped up to the mike and began to explain the rules.
"Your attention please while I go over the rules of our Bug-Catching Contest," he said, calmly ignoring the screech of feedback that issued from the mike. After adjusting it, he continued. "You may only use one of your own Pokemon to help you in the contest and all entries must be caught in the Park Balls that are now been issued to each of you. Only one entry is allowed per person, so choose which Bug you want to submit wisely. Any Pokemon you catch during the Contest which are not Bug Types will not be considered for the prizes."
A klaxon blared loudly and, like a human sea, the trainers began to converge on the National Park, each of them hoping for the same thing - to find and capture the best Bug of all. As he entered the Park, Mario caught a glimpse of Eilish searching methodically through the bushes, her Teddiursa at her side, and couldn't resist a chance to have a dig at her. Striding over with an exagerated air, he alerted her to his presence with a low cough.
She turned round with a start, dressed as usual in denim dungarees and a red t-shirt, her dark hair in two thick bunches, and smiled nervously when she saw it was the boy who had been trying to outdo her from the start. "Not now, Mario!" she said impatiently. "I'm trying to concentrate - I think Teddiursa's spotted something . . ."
Sure enough, seconds after Eilish spoke, a Venonat popped out to see what was going on. Mario could not imagine anything less like a bug - with its squat purple body and large red eyes, Venonat looked more like an alien than anything else. Nonetheless, it was a Bug Type and catching Bug Types was the whole point of this game . . .
Eilish moved instinctively, aware that seconds counted in this game and the slightest error could cost her dearly. "Quick, Teddiursa!" she ordered the small bearlike Pokemon. "Start with your Headbutt Attack!"
"Ursa!" Teddiursa replied as she ran forward and rammed her head directly into the Venonat's side and knocked it sprawling. It was weakened, but not to the point where it couldn't fight back, and quickly countered with a Stun Spore.
"Teddiursa, hold your breath and use Dynamic Punch!" Eilish called as she began to ready her first Park Ball.
In response, Teddiursa clamped one paw over her nose and used the other to deliver a powerful Punch to the Venonat, which was soon helpless on the ground and ready to be captured. Satisfied that Teddiursa had done her job, Eilish activated the Park Ball and stepped forward.
"Go - Park Ball!" she called. There was a brief flash of light and the Venonat swiftly disappeared into the Ball, which vibrated for a few seconds before it closed with a ping. Only then did Eilish pick it up and wave it in Mario's face as if to taunt him.
"Well, Mario," she said smugly. "What do you think of that? I caught a Bug and you haven't!"
Hearing Eilish's words, Mario cursed himself - he had been so wrapped up in watching her battle the Venonat (in the hope she would fail so he could make fun of her) that he had briefly forgotten that he was supposed to be out catching Bugs himself. He swiftly adopted an air of bravado.
"You're not gonna beat me," he informed her.
"And how do you figure that out?" Eilish shot back as a streak of red caught her attention.
"Because . . ." Mario began and then stopped before he could let slip the fact he had smuggled an extra Pokemon into the Park. "Because I've got a secret weapon that'll guarantee me a win!"
"What's it to you whether you win or lose this? You know the Sun Stone only evolves Sunflora and Bellossom - and you think those are girly Pokemon! You've said so often enough so why the hell do you want a Sun Stone?!"
Mario had no reply to that. It was true he didn't really have a use for the Sun Stone, but that wasn't why he had entered this. He had entered because he wanted to prove he was the best and never mind what the prize was. If he won the Sun Stone - which he was convinced he would - he would sell it as soon as he got to the next town and use the money to stock up for the next stage of his Pokemon journey.
"Let's go, Nidorino," he said, beckoning to the Poison Type Pokemon.
Once Mario felt he was far enough into the Park and was certain no-one would catch him breaking the rules, he released his Murkrow from his Poke Ball.
"OK, Murkrow," he said as Murkrow hopped onto a tree branch and looked at his trainer with that penetrating stare only Murkrow are capable of. "Here's what I want you to do - lead me to the best Bugs you can find. But don't attract too much attention or you'll get us disqualified. Make like you're a wild Murkrow or something . . ."
Murkrow cawed and took to the sky as, down on the ground, Mario and Nidorino began to follow.
It did not take long for Murkrow to spot something, a Heracross clinging to a tree sucking the sap, and he winged back to Mario with a harsh caw. Mario looked up as the bird landed on his arm and began to prepare himself for the battle that lay ahead.
"What is it, Murkrow?" he asked. "Have you spotted some kind of Pokemon?"
Murkrow replied by flying towards the tree where he had seen the Heracross with Mario and Nidorino following in his wake. Seeing the combined Bug/Fighting Pokemon, Mario was sure he had hit the jackpot - if all the Bugs Murkrow found for him were this strong, he would be a shoo-in to win.
"You've done your part," he told Murkrow as he swiftly recalled him. "Nidorino, it's up to you now - try to dislodge it with a Tackle!"
Presently, the Heracross stood facing Mario and Nidorino, both of whom were about to launch the assault which would bring about his capture. He was a seasoned fighter within his swarm, but fighting a fellow Heracross was one thing; dealing with human trainers was quite another. Mario knew exactly what to do - he had Nidorino launch into a Horn Drill straight away, knowing that this powerful Attack would weaken the Heracross instantly and prevent his own Pokemon from taking too much damage.
But, as Nidorino charged towards his quarry with his horn spinning rapidly like a drill, the Heracross decided it would be fun to play hard-to-get and countered the move with his Double Team. He moved so swiftly that Nidorino was caught completely off-guard and ended up Horn-Drilling thin air. Moments later, the real Heracross came at Nidorino from behind and knocked him into the dirt.
"Nidorino, get up!" Mario ordered. "And use your Tackle Attack!"
In response, Nidorino staggered to his feet and charged at Heracross who had no time to react before being sent careering across the ground to land in a semi-conscious heap. Mario had the Park Ball ready in an instant . . .
"Let's see smartypants Eilish beat that!" Mario declared as he picked up the Park Ball containing his newly captured Heracross. Little did he suspect that, while he was capturing the Heracross, Eilish had been stalking a Butterfree nearby and had seen him recall his Murkrow.
"What's he doing?" Eilish wondered out loud as she added the Butterfree to a collection which already included a Venonat and a Ledyba. "If the Contest organisers find out he's got two Pokemon helping him, he'll be in trouble . . . Boys can be so competitive!"
Mario, of course, wasn't interested in catching a Butterfree. He hated "sissy" Pokemon and, besides, having studied the contest beforehand, he knew his best change of winning was to enter something like a Pinsir or a Scyther. The only difficulty was finding one since they tended to hide deep in the bushes and seldom showed themselves.
It was time for his secret weapon again. He sent Murkrow to scout round and look for signs of a Pinsir or Scyther nest somewhere in the vicinity while he and Nidorino filled up the time with catching other, less powerful Bugs. Before long, his supply of unused Park Balls was reduced to a handful and he was carrying with him a Heracross, two Yanma, a Venomoth, three Kakuna, two Parasect and a Beedrill.
Mario was very pleased with himself. Even though he knew he would have to set all but one of the Pokemon free, he was certain all of them were potential winners.
Presently, Murkrow came winging back to lead Mario to where he had seen a female Scyther sitting contemplatively on her nest. It took only one look for Mario to establish that this was a really powerful Scyther, a sure-fire winner if he could manage to catch her. And, as an added bonus, she was a Shiny - instead of being green like most Scyther, she was a brilliant sky blue colour.
"We've hit the jackpot!" Mario thought. Then, realising that he couldn't let this chance pass him by, he decided to launch a two-pronged assault on the Scyther with both his Pokemon attacking at once.
"Nidorino - use your Horn Attack!" he ordered. "Murkrow - attack from the air!"
Working together, Mario's Nidorino and Murkrow slowly wore the Scyther down - they had been with Mario for some time and were a match for any wild Pokemon, including a Shiny Scyther. The Scyther fought back with all her might, launching repeated Slash and Cut Attacks, but she was outnumbered by two to one and quickly began to falter.
"Now I've got you . . ." Mario muttered as the Scyther thrust one of her sword-arms in the ground as she fought to get her breath back. "Park Ball - go!"
The Park Ball went spinning through the air before hitting the Scyther on the head and drawing her into its core. Mario stared at the Ball as it vibrated on the ground before closing and sealing the Scyther within.
"Let's see Eilish beat that!" he declared triumphantly as he swiftly recalled Murkrow and began to make his way back to the Park entrance.
Just then, a voice came over the intercom, directed from the loudhailers placed in the trees at intervals to announce that the Bug Catching Contest was over.
"Please set free any Bugs you do not intend to enter in the Contest and make your way to the entrance where your catches will be judged," the Contest organiser instructed. Mario quickly pulled the Park Balls containing his first ten captures and released the Bugs within them who disappeared into the trees without a backward glance.
Then, he pulled out the Park Ball he had used to catch the blue Scyther and looked down at it. "Well, Scyther," he said out loud. "Let's go show 'em what a winner looks like."
Mario joined the line which snaked its way round the entrance to the National Park as each entrant prepared to hand whatever Bug he or she had caught over to the judges for inspection. Ahead, he could see a fair-haired boy waiting to see what a rather tough-looking Beedrill was worth . . .
When the boy left the platform with his head bowed, Mario knew to his relief that, strong as that Beedrill looked, it clearly wasn't strong enough in the judges' eyes. That knowledge gave him fresh cause for optimism since, with one or two exceptions he was sure no-one else could possibly better the Shiny Scyther he was about to show the judges. They would surely have no hesitation in awarding him the Sun Stone if he handed in such a powerful Pokemon - and the fact it was a Shiny would surely add to his score.
"I'm gonna win! I'm gonna win!" he sang to himself, forgetting that it is seldom wise to tempt fate . . .
Now, there were only three people in front of Mario, who was last in the line. He saw Eilish hand over the Butterfree she had caught earlier and watched as the judges nodded approvingly.
"Magnificent," said one judge.
"A fine specimen," agreed his colleague. "Good colouring and . . . let's see a quick Whirlwind Attack."
In response, the Butterfree whipped up a windstorm so powerful it blew the judges' papers into the crowd. It took a while for them to retrieve the papers, but before long everything was back in order and Eilish was ready to hear the score the Butterfree had earned her.
"Good work, young lady," said the first judge. "That earns you 310 points!"
Looking towards the Leader Board, Mario saw that Eilish was in the lead, closely following by a boy with a Yanma and a girl with an Ariados. All he had to do now was hope the entrants immediately in front of him hadn't managed to catch anything that could prove too much of a threat.
But he needn't have worried - two of them had each caught a Kakuna and the third had caught a Paras, Pokemon which didn't tend to score very highly when it came to the Bug Catching Contest. Stealing himself, he prepared to present the Scyther he had captured to the judges . . .
"And what have you caught today?" asked the first judge.
In reply, Mario pulled out the Park Ball containing the Scyther and opened it up. Scyther emerged in a flash of light, the sight of her blue body producing gasps of amazement from the crowd, many of whom had never seen a Shiny Pokemon before.
"This Scyther!" Mario announced triumphantly, adopting the cocky pose of one who knows the day is his and all that remains is for the victory to be made official.
"Well now," said one of the judges. "In all the years we've been doing this, I don't think we've had one Shiny entry. What do the rest of you think?"
"Just because a Pokemon's Shiny doesn't make it a winner," said the first judge. "Let's see it do a Cut Attack before we decide . . ." He pointed to a wooden panel which was heavily scored as a result of being subjected to numerous Cut Attacks - and other Attacks of that nature - from various Bug Pokemon.
Everyone gasped in amazement as the Scyther swung at the panel with her swords, putting so much force into the blow that she penetrated clean through the wood. It was enough to clinch Mario 325 points, putting him in first place and causing Eilish to slip back into second. And it was all thanks to his idea of bringing two Pokemon into the contest . . .
"That could've been me," Eilish muttered to her Teddiursa as Mario went up to receive the Sun Stone. It would be cool to have a Butterfree, but what she wanted more than any other Pokemon was a Bellossom. She already had a Gloom and she just needed a Sun Stone to evolve her into the desired form. Now, however, she would have to settle for the Everstone . . .
After the boy who'd caught the Yanma had received his prize - a Gold Berry - the judges dispersed among the crowd distributing commemorative Berries to everyone who had failed to make the first three. Once that was done, the Contest organiser began to give his closing address.
"Well, we've seen some fine specimens today and I genuinely wish they could all be winners," he said. "So let's put our hands together for Mario and . . ."
At that point, something seemed to snap inside Eilish and she rushed forward before anyone could stop her.
"Stop everything!" she yelled. "That boy is a cheat! While I was catching my Butterfree, I distinctly saw him using two Pokemon!"
A shocked silence descended on the Park as the eyes of everyone present turned to look at Mario. "Eilish, are you certain of what you saw?" asked one of the judges. "You've just made a very serious accusation."
"Yes," Eilish replied. "I know him quite well - we're both from Azalea Town and he's always been the sort who'll do anything to win . . ."
"That's a rotten lie!" Mario retorted. "She's only jealous because I beat her!"
But, when he saw the Contest organiser himself approaching, he knew there was no way he would be able to get away with what he had done. There was nothing he could do except obey meekly when he was ordered to turn out both his pockets and empty out the contents of the backpack he carried with him wherever he went. And that, needless to say, meant the judges found his Murkrow's Poke Ball . . .
"Well?" the Contest organiser said sternly, fixing Mario with a penetrating stare as he held Murkrow's Poke Ball aloft for all to see. "I suppose someone planted that on you . . ."
"No . . . I . . . I mean yes . . . no . . . no . . ." Mario stammered. He knew full well that there was no way he could bluff his way out of this - no matter what story he concocted, nothing could excuse the fact he had had an extra Pokemon with him in the Contest.
"Never before has the Bug Catching Contest been marred by such an underhanded attempt at cheating!" the Contest organiser told Mario, his voice struggling to contain his disgust. "Because of this, you must forfeit your Sun Stone to the second-placed entrant and you will help to sort the Park Balls ready for the next Contest. Do not expect any payment because you won't get any."
Mario looked decidedly embarrassed, cursing himself for foolishly thinking he could break the one-Pokemon-partner-per-entrant rule and get away with it. But there were more punishments to come . . .
"In addition, you will return the Pokemon you caught," the Contest organiser went on. "And you may consider yourself banned from the Bug Catching Contest for two years!"
Mario knew it was his own fault, but it still didn't make giving up the Shiny Scyther he had fought so hard to catch any easier. But the worst thing of all was being shown up in front of so many people - including Eilish, the girl he had tried to beat at all costs.