In the spirit of today, here's a stand-alone thing that may or may not turn out to be the first chapter of a longer story. Who knows? (Me. I know.)


"Machamp, look," Miki said. "I think there's a pokemon over there."

The machamp walked over and they bent down for a closer look. It was a big pokemon, one who looked like it'd been on the losing end of a bad fight, with its white fur marred with cuts and soot. One leg was blackened by a deep burn. Miki expanded a pokeball, intending to catch it, but the sound woke it and it snarled at them. Machamp backed away quickly.

"Hey, it's okay. I'm not going to hurt you."

It growled at her, rearing up on its hind legs to look bigger only to yelp in pain and thump back down. It glowered, hissing with each breath.

"Calm down, calm down." It snarled again at her voice, its tail lashing from side to side. "Okay, I guess it doesn't matter..." She got a pokeball from her bag and threw it, hoping it wouldn't be knocked aside by the pokemon. To her surprise the pokemon ignored it. The pokeball hit its side perfectly and sucked it in. "Whew."

The pokeball rocked to the side and then blew apart. "Argh." Now she was down a pokeball. Usually pokemon didn't wreck the ball escaping.

Miki reached for one on her belt, popping it open to release Charmander. The injured pokemon didn't react, continuing to glare at her and Machamp like the charmander wasn't there.

"Charmander, uh..." Fire moves would probably be a lot more effective with it all burned like that, but that seemed just cruel. Plus it might be an ice type. "Headbutt, but try not to hit anywhere injured."

Charmander gave her a look and waved a hand at the pokemon.

"Major injuries," she amended. "Don't hit that burned leg or anything. Its side looks okay from here, maybe that?"

Charmander nodded to her, then turned back to the wild pokemon, who was still glaring and snarling at Miki as if she were the only opponent. Charmander bent her head and charged. The other pokemon yipped on contact, looking at the charmander in shock as if it had no idea where that had come from.

Miki tossed another pokeball into it while it was staring at her pokemon like it couldn't believe this had happened. The pokeball didn't even wobble before dinging shut. Charmander picked it up and brought it back to Miki with a bemused, "Char charchar."

"It was pretty weird," she agreed. "I hope it wasn't abused or anything... I didn't recognize it, so it's probably not from around here. I can't believe people sometimes. Even if its trainer didn't do all that to it themselves, what did they think would happen, dumping some pokemon from Hoenn or wherever off here? It's bad enough when people do this to native pokemon, at least they've got a chance to get back home..." She sighed. "I'll tell Nurse Joy when we get back to town. Maybe the law's finally passed while we were out here."

"Amp..."

"Well, it doesn't hurt to hope," Miki said firmly.

.

When it was let out, the trees were distant and the sky was darker. The thing from before was still there, and it growled at it.

{Stop that,} said an enormous blue snake with fins. {Be good.}

{Why?} it demanded. {Goway. Hurts.} It growled again.

The blue snake loomed closer. {Miki caught you. She's your trainer now, so behave yourself and let her get a look at you.} The blue snake's head pushed it once and it limped closer to where Miki was sitting on a rock.

"I have potions," Miki said, holding up a bottle. "And something for the burns, if they're not too deep. The one on your leg looks pretty bad. It's lucky we're close to the next town, they'll be able to take care of you there."

The spray was cool and soothing. It kicked its burned leg experimentally.

"Ah, don't do that!" Miki yelled. "There's painkillers in this, it doesn't mean you're all healed! They only fix light wounds. Your skin's black. That's a third degree burn, into muscle tissue, and really serious. It might even have gone down to the bone, I can't tell without - ah, not that you should worry, it probably hasn't and the pokecenter will be able to fix it without surgery or anything. But just in case, stay off it, okay? At least until tomorrow morning. If it still doesn't hurt then, that'll mean it's healed."

It nodded.

{Does anything else hurt?} asked the thing that had been carrying Miki. {Pain when you breathe?}

It shook its head.

{Good,} said Charmander. {I'm sorry about attacking you when you were so hurt. You should've just let Miki catch you without all that fuss.}

Miki had pulled out a red thing. She aimed the device at it. "Data not found."

"This stupid thing is so useless," Miki said. "Our regions work but I know all two-fifty myself so it doesn't matter, and the Hoenn pack is so buggy you could be the first on the list and it just doesn't feel like working today. Hopefully the next pokecenter will be big enough we can access region lists. If you're not rare or unlisted for some other reason, I can find out about you then. And keep an eye out for any trainers from that region in case they're yours." She sighed. "Well, e-e-eu doesn't seem like a proper name for a pokemon. I'm really bad at nicknames, but I need something to call you. How about Hoppity?"

The thing that had been carrying her laughed.

"You know I'm not good at this, Machamp!" She looked back to it. "Are you okay with Hoppity?"

Hoppity nodded.

{What happened?} asked the blue snake. {Did your trainer do that to you? We haven't seen any fire types around.}

It stared at the snake.

{And what are you?} Charmander asked. {Miki doesn't know and you're not in the stupid buggy machine.}

{I...} Hoppity said. {Hurt. Woke. Here?}

They looked alarmed. Machamp grabbed its head with two arms, pressing gently in spots. It lifted a leg from the ground to paw the arm off and shook free, irritated. {Before that?} Machamp asked, sounding anxious. {What's the last thing you remember before waking up?}

{Woke,} it repeated. {Woke. Hurt.}

"What's wrong?" Miki asked.

Machamp looked to Miki, gesturing. {Head!} Machamp said while pointing. {Hurt!} as the blue snake said, {Thinking, Miki! Bad!}

"Head - concussion!" Her eyes widened. She turned to her backpack, pulling out a flashlight, then reached for its head. She shined a light in one eye, frowning.

It jerked back.

"Hey, wait Hoppity!"

The blue snake blocked its retreat. {She isn't going to hurt you. She wants to check your eyes to make sure your head isn't hurt.} It let itself be pushed back toward Miki.

{Miki knows a lot about this stuff,} Charmander said to Hoppity comfortingly. {Miki?}

"I need to see if your pupils act the same," Miki explained. "If I shine this light and one doesn't get smaller like the other, or they both stay really big, then it's very serious. But if they act normal then you're probably okay and just need some sleep." Hoppity let her shine the flashlight into one eye, then the other. "Good," she said, relieved. "They both react to light." She looked at the other things. "What did Hoppity say?"

{Watch me!}Charmander said to her. Charmander lay down and closed both eyes, then got up and turned in a circle, miming exaggerated shock at everything. Hoppity felt insulted.

"Hoppity doesn't remember anything about what happened?" Miki asked. Chamander nodded. "What's the last thing Hoppity remembers?" They all shook their heads. "Nothing?" They nodded. "But - but - amnesia's only recent stuff - hours or days or maybe weeks...Months at most...You don't just lose everything...Oh!" Miki looked like she was about to cry. She hugged Hoppity around the neck. "You're just a baby. No wonder you were acting weird. I'm so sorry. We'll find your trainer and I'll - I'll do something, I promise."

She let go and Hoppity waited, not sure what was going on.

"You seem like you're okay other than that... So let's get some sleep and maybe your memory will come back tomorrow. Your body heals best when you're sleeping, especially your brain."

The blue snake stretched out in a large circle. She nudged Hoppity insistently. {You sleep on the inside,} she said when Hoppity resisted moving,

{Why?}

{Because I'm in charge of keeping everyone safe, and you're someone's lost baby who doesn't even know what you are.} She pushed Hoppity settled down next to it. {It's dangerous by yourself. There's a pack of mankey around, and they'd probably attack you if they think they can without us noticing. They're very territorial. But they'll have to climb over me to do anything, so they'll stay away.}

{Dangerous,} Hoppity repeated, closing its eyes. {Mankey.} That didn't seem right at all.

.

Miki wriggled out of her sleeping bag and pulled herself up. She watched her new pokemon for a moment, then scooched along Gyarados' back over to where it was sleeping. "Hello? It's time to wake up." She touched it on its side and its eyes opened with a snap. She grinned. "There! Feeling better, Hoppity?"

It stretched out to its full height for a moment, then settled back down. "Ee." It nodded.

"Really, even your leg's okay?"

"E." It nodded again.

"Great! Do you remember anything?"

It shook its head.

She sighed. "Well, maybe it'll come back later... The pokecenter isn't far from here and if you're okay walking, you can stay out with Gyarados and me. But don't try jumping or anything."

It glowered at her and bunched its legs to jump.

"No no, I believe you can jump!" Miki shrieked, throwing up her hands and nearly falling off Gyarados. "It's your head!"

It hesitated.

"Your leg may be okay but that's not the big worry. Jumping will make your brain bounce around more. If your brain's hurt already, you might do more damage. Better safe than sorry, right?"

It nodded slowly, relaxing.

"Char charchar, mander!" Charmander added, sounding like she was chiding Hoppity. Hoppity snorted.

"Oh, right..." Miki said. "Are you a boy or a girl?"

Hoppity looked at her like it didn't get her meaning. Or maybe it wasn't sure how to reply. It was so difficult trying to have a conversation like this.

"We're all girls," she tried. "Are you a girl?"

Hoppity nodded. She clapped her hands together. "Cool! Then I have an all-girl team!" She paused. "Not that you have to be part of my team if you don't want to. You're still a baby and all."

"Champ, macma." Machamp set the stewpot down with a thump and began to pass out bowls.

"It's chili," Miki said. "Try it and tell me if anything tastes wrong." She watched Hoppity sip cautiously at the bowl, then nodded to her and return to the food.

When they finished eating, Gyarados grabbed the mouth of the pot and swallowed the rest. Miki recalled the enormous pot and put the itemball back in her bag, then did the same to Machamp and Charmander. "Ready to go, Gyarados!"

"Gyaaaaara," she said, bending down so Miki could grab the harness and pull herself on.

"Alright, Hoppity, we're going. If you feel tired, tell me and I'll recall you, okay? Let's try to get to the pokecenter by lunchtime!" Miki said.

.

{What's wrong with my head?} Hoppity asked as they walked. {Why's she worry?}

{Miki knows a lot about medicine, but I don't think medicine knows much about heads. Healing machines don't fix it very well, I know that. When I lived at her house, one day a pidgeotto crashed into the window and we took him to a pokecenter and it was very bad because the brain had swelled up and the doctor said that if Miki hadn't brought him in he would have died. They had to cut off the top of his head because of the pressure and then put it back on later, and he forgot how to fly and he had to learn all over again.}

Hoppity considered. {Did I forget that too?}

{Well, you can't fly and you know how to walk, so I think you're okay. You'll learn the normal way as you grow up.}

{Will that take a long time?} It didn't seem right to have to wait for things.

{Everybody learns at their own pace. Maybe we'll know more when we find out what you are! We might find out who your old trainer is too.} Gyarados growled. {I won't eat them. But they don't need to know I won't eat them. Miki says they're trying to pass a law about releasing pokemon who never lived here, but bad people keep stopping it.}

Hoppity loped along, thinking. {Are there a lot of pokemon like me?} she asked.

{Not too many, there aren't too many trainers from far-away places to do it. I ran into a wingull a while ago, and we brought him in to the pokecenter. He was very confused. They live in big flocks, like magikarp do, so he didn't know what to do all by himself.}

{He didn't want to be on Miki's team?}

{He just wanted to go home. And Miki needs big pokemon anyway. We're on our way to the Safari Zone now because she wants to catch a tauros.}

{Am I a big pokemon?}

Gyarados laughed. {You're a lot bigger than Miki, aren't you? And you look pretty strong. You might be a normal or a fighting type. She won't make you stay if you don't want to, though.}

Hoppity digested this. {But other trainers...don't care if you want to stay or go?}

{Some trainers...} Gyarados sighed. {Not all humans are good ones.}

{I have to do what trainers say, though?}

{That's the deal we make. A human trusts a pokemon and a pokemon trusts a human. Miki took care of me ever since I was a magikarp, and now I can take care of her, and all her other pokemon too, and we'll get stronger together. You need to listen to her because she knows what she's doing.

{And if you don't like a trainer, and you don't think they know what they're doing, you say, 'You're not my trainer,' and leave. But while you're with a trainer you should do what you're told, because they're your partner,} Gyarados concluded. {Miki's a good partner, right Miki?}

"You're talking about me, aren't you?" Miki said.

{Very good, Miki!}

"I need to get an electric type. The battery life is ridiculous," Miki said with a groan. "And I feel so dumb when you can understand me just fine. At least we'll be in town soon! We can play alpha code telephone there with Hoppity. Look, Hoppity, you can see the buildings."

{That isn't very many,} Hoppity said.{And they're small.}

{Oh, what would you know?} Gyarados said fondly. {It'll look a lot bigger when we're closer.}

.

"Hey, let's battle!"

"I can't, sorry," Miki called back.

"You're not supposed to refuse," the boy said petulantly. "'A true trainer gives it their all even if their prize pokemon can't fight'."

"It's not that. I just found a pokemon yesterday who was really banged up and I want her to get healed properly as soon as possible and make sure there's no brain damage. So I can't stop for a battle right now."

"If it's in its pokeball, what's the big deal?"

"It's not like they're in stasis!" Miki snapped. "And brain damage is always a big deal. If it was your pokemon you wouldn't be so flippant."

"Champ!" agreed Machamp, giving him a glower.

As it turned out they weren't even far from the pokecenter, close enough they could easily have returned and battled later if he hadn't been such a jerk about it. Sometimes it was embarrassing being a human.

Machamp stopped by the front counter and Miki handed over her pokeballs and explained Hoppity's situation. The teenager behind the counter made a distressed face. "I'm only a trainee," he admitted. "The machine will report if there's damage there, but you'll have to wait for the doctor to get back if there is. There's a big hatching going on at a ranch. I can call her for advice if it looks bad, though."

"Could I have Hoppity transferred through storage if it's serious?" Miki asked.

He lowered his voice and leaned closer. "Actually, the storage system had some sort of problem and it's running at diminished capacity, so sending an injured pokemon through it is a worse idea than usual. But we do have a kadabra for emergencies, so we'll be able to jump your pokemon to the city if we need to. But the doctor will be back in an hour or two, and you said your pokemon's stable, so it's unlikely that'll be necessary."

"Okay," Miki said. "Well, I guess I'll just hope it works out. I don't suppose they passed the law about out of region abandonment while I was traveling?"

He shook his head. "They can't keep stalling forever, though, and there's talk that it'll be made retroactive when it does go through. Maybe we can't punish them but we will be able to deport them back to where they can only do normal damage by abandoning their pokemon. And other regions might follow suit just to try to get back at us for kicking out their trainers!"

She sighed. "Someday." She handed the pokeballs over. "Just let Machamp or Charmander out when the machine's done to bring them back." Machamp set Miki down on a couch by the wall and walked back to tap her own pokeball.

Miki looked through her backpack's pockets for the right itemball. She opened it, careful to aim it at the floor so the squat machine didn't land on top of her again, then plugged the cord into the outlet next to her. The machine hummed softly as it began to charge.

She took a deep breath and sat up straighter. "Hi," she said to the trainer across from her. "This is Silph's experimental translator. Would you like to help expand its vocabulary?"

As always, the answer was yes.

"Okay, now use couch in a sentence. Like 'That couch is...'"

".Raca ra raticaaarata cate."

"The couch is sunshit."

"Raticate!" the trainer said. "Is that what you say?"

The raticate gestured angrily.

"That wasn't right, was it?" asked Miki. "Okay, were most of the words right?"

The raticate made an ambivalent gesture.

Miki sighed. "The first word was right?" The raticate shook its head. "Aw, really? Was it close?" Nod. "That? That couch?" Nod.

She keyed it in. "Couch was right?" Nod. "Is?" Nod. "Okay, good. Then what were you saying about the couch? You don't like it?" Nod. "What don't you like?"

The raticate ran a paw over the side. "All of it?" It considered and pointed at its eyes. "How it looks?" Nod. "Color?" Nod. "Yellow!" Emphatic nod. "Bright yellow, and you think that's ugly - no, uh, icky? Okay. That couch is icky bright yellow."

"Do you have to do that for every word?"

"It's actually a lot easier than it was," Miki said. "For a long time it was just nonsense, and until recently it'd still do that for any new pokemon. When my magikarp evolved I had to start all over for her! Their language doesn't have clear word units in the same way ours does, so it took a lot of sampling. But we're finally getting there! Raticate, do you want to try saying something to your trainer?"

The raticate began chattering rapidly.

"Sam facesmash should. Nice but more facesmash much not flinch. I strong I fast I tough, hide battle hit no, Sam eyes forward! Even bang blood eyes forward. No flinching! Sam help want, no flinching!," Pause. "Also nutshell. Yum. More nutshell, out with nutshell Sam."

"Macma!"

"Miki!" said the translator.

Machamp handed Miki her pokeballs. "Sorry, I've got to make sure my new pokemon's okay."

.

Hoppity was now in a room.

"Okay, Hoppity. The good news is it looks like you don't have any brain damage," Miki began. "The weird news is they didn't find any sign of swelling or damage at all, which is also bad news because means you probably aren't going to get your memory back, although we don't know for sure."

Gyarados was not in the room, but Charmander and Machamp were. It was not impressively large and Hoppity had the nagging sense she should leave it for somewhere better. Had outside been right? No, not exactly.

"And the predictable news is I still don't know what you are, because this place is too small to have a public pokedex for me to try to sift through. The doctor will be back soon, so we'll have her check you out and see if she recognizes you. So we're going to hang out here and eat lunch. You don't feel sick or anything, right? Good, so the food will be fine. Try to eat a lot, you're really skinny." She gestured to a bowl of baked potatoes.

{Gyarados?} Hoppity asked, taking one.

"That when," a machine said in Miki's voice. Miki frowned and started tapping buttons.

{Don't worry, she's out in the pool. She's too big to fit in here,} said Charmander. {By a meter or so! When Miki first started, she almost smashed apart a doorway trying to get to Miki in the morning.}

"No fear Gyarados out in the pool. Gyarados is too huge to fit in here..." the machine said.

{What's that?}

"Berry hate moon."

"It's a translator," Miki said. "So humans can understand pokemon like pokemon can understand humans. And...well, it might just be that you're from a different region, but I don't think so. That's part of-"

The intercom said, "Miki? Doctor Lores just arrived. Should I send her to the room?"

"No - one sec, Hoppity, will you be okay going to the main room? - Hoppity seems fine so we'll come to the front. If she doesn't recognize Hoppity maybe one of the other trainers will."

Hoppity considered the half-eaten baked potato. She quickly stuffed the rest in her mouth and grabbed another one.

"Uh, can you walk like that?"

Hoppity nodded, hobbling forward on three legs.

"Okay..." Miki picked up the bowl and Machamp picked up Miki. "Let's go see the doctor, then."

.

"Well, she looks fine," the doctor said dubiously. "I have no idea what she is either. Might be from Kalos or Unova, since I know a lot of Hoenn pokemon and some Sinnoh. And she isn't speaking properly?"

"Try making sounds, Hoppity."

"E," Hoppity said, cradling her fourth potato possessively.

"That's all you can say?"

"My other pokemon can understand her, but she sounds like she's slurring, doesn't she? And I've never heard of a pokemon that could only make one sound."

"Well, I couldn't tell you her age without knowing what she is, but to lose all her memory like that does suggest she's very young. It might just be baby talk. She probably hasn't mastered her vocal cords yet."

"Maamp," Machamp agreed. "Champ mach."

Hoppity glowered at her potato. "Eu," she managed. "Eu eu eu. Me." She scowled and took another bite.

"From her size, she's either a fast grower or she's from a pokemon line that can evolve young, maybe by stone. I'd guess the former seeing how bony she is." She patted Hoppity's tail. Hoppity scowled harder and wrapped her tail around herself. "If she'd been starved, I'd expect this to be a lot thinner. And she's got plenty of muscles, it's just not distributed evenly. That means either an odd training regimen or that she's still growing into her body. Without testing we can't narrow down type, but my guess would be normal type unless she develops a lot more muscle or shows unusual strength with her current body type. You should probably keep her away from psychic types just to be safe, though."

"Eu," Hoppity tried again. "Mew."

Miki and Doctor Lores stared for a long moment, then both laughed at the same time.

Hoppity glared and curled her tail around tighter. "E."

"No no, it's just," Miki started. "I can't call you that!"

"It would be incredible if you were," said the doctor, sounding like she was fighting not to laugh again.

"Mew is a legendary Kanto pokemon," Miki explained. She pulled out her pokedex and found the picture. "It's a tiny pink thing that floats all the time and can disappear at will." Hoppity regarded the drawing and snorted dismissively.

"It's probably like espeon and that foreign pokemon espy," volunteered one of the other trainers. "Oh, that's not right, you know, it's the Kalos one with too many legs. They'd both say esp."

"Espurr," a girl said. "I've been trying to get one for ages, they're adorable. And their legs are normal."

"They have six or eight or something," the trainer insisted. "Plus, those eyes."

"They're huge and adorable!"

"They look like they're waiting for you to fall asleep so they can suck your brain out. Do they even sleep? I bet they don't. I saw it on a poster for Kalos and I've been looking over my shoulder ever since. I bet the tourism department's secretly trying to convince trainers not to come."

Doctor Lores ignored this to explain, "We don't know very much about mew beyond that they possibly existed and might exist today, but I don't think anyone would have mistaken a glimpse of your species for this."

"Does Mew feel like the right name?" Miki asked.

Hoppity thought and then shook her head. "Mewmew."

"I'll stick with Hoppity, then."