Miki pointed up. "Hoppity, look! It's a pichu!" A little yellow thing was in a dead tree, on the far edge of a thin branch that had bent under its weight. "Oh, those are really rare. It must have snuck out of the nest, the parents don't usually let their babies out until they've evolved. For a long time they were just rumors. Being rumors might've been better-" Hoppity watched as the pichu launched itself toward some neighboring twigs. It gripped for an instant, then slid down and fell into some bushes. How pathetic.

The bushes rustled and rustled, then the squeaking started. Flashes of light were visible in the gaps of the leaves, along with pained shrieks each time.

"Hoppity, go over there, it sounds hurt!"

It wasn't, Hoppity found, just tangled in a vine that wove through the bush it somehow couldn't break free from. Hoppity set Miki down on the ground and waited as she got it loose, cooing to it to keep it calm and stop it from shocking itself further. Finally, she pulled the pichu out, fur singed from the electricity and smelling slightly of smoke.

"Now, where's your mom?" she said. "Was your nest in that tree you were in?" The pichu just lay in her hands, panting.

Hoppity picked her back up and they returned to the trunk of the first tree. Miki held it up to the bark and it sniffed, then ran up the side. Far up, it seems to vanish back into the tree itself. "Oh, yes, see, the nest must be in a knothole there. That's where pikachu usually nest."

Hoppity had been expecting her to catch it, since Miki kept saying she needed an electric type every time the translator ran out of power. She thought she'd worked it out. {It was too small for you,} she said, pleased with herself. {So you didn't want it.}

"I hope it stays put now," Miki said. "Pichu are kind of popular. People say there's nothing wrong with it, but I think baby pokemon like that ought to grow up with their parents. And it'd be so awful for the rest of them to have it just disappear and never know what happened." Miki took a breath and said more brightly, "Well, if the area's good enough to raise babies in there's probably a lot of pikachu and maybe some raichu. Keep an eye out, pikachu are the same yellow and just a bit bigger. They'd be a great help."

{Oh.} She scowled. It wasn't right that she should be wrong. She kept scowling as Miki told her about how much electricity pikachu could produce and what the maximum voltage they could eat was and how they usually nested at the tops of dead hardwood trees because pikachu would draw lightning and how actually this helped protect the rest of the forest. Hoppity didn't stop scowling until they met another trainer who agreed to a fight. Hoppity went third, kicked the other pokemon, won, and felt better.

The other trainer sent out the third pokemon, a big horse. He reared up with a terrified squeal and then tottered backward, nearly stepping on his boy. {No! Not fighting! I'm not fighting!} Hoppity watched with interest.

"Flashfire, calm down, calm down, what's wrong?"

{I surrender!}

{You're not going to fight?}

{You'll win! I don't want to fight!}

Hoppity puffed up further. {I would! You're smart. Everybody else thinks they could win, but nobody can beat me.}

{I know.} The other pokemon was calming down a little now that Hoppity hadn't made any move to attack him. {You beat me before.}

{I did?}

{If it wasn't you, it was a pokemon just like you. My old trainer tried to get a gym badge. It looked like you and it smelled like you and it felt horribly strong like you and we were at the pokecenter for days healing afterward and my old trainer decided he didn't want to go to the big tournament after all.}

Hoppity processed this. {I think that's the different person we're looking for but I'm sorry if I'm the one who hurt you badly.} She considered a moment longer, and added, {If you hadn't been hurt badly would you still not want to fight?}

{Yes,} the horse said.

Well then, what was the point of anybody doing that?

"Um," Miki said. "Do you recognize Hoppity, Flashfire?"

The horse nodded and Miki beamed. "Do you know what kind of pokemon she is?"

The horse shook his head. {That other one is the only time I saw anything like you, and it didn't say anything to us and the man didn't say anything about it.}

{Oh well. We're going to find them ourselves.}

{Be careful,} the horse said. {They're cruel. And that pokemon like you is very strong.}

Hoppity tried to consider this, but... {That doesn't matter. Even if there's someone like me, nobody is stronger than me.}

Afterward, Miki said from atop Gyarados, "So I guess there's a couple of your species around. Who knows, we could meet someone who knows about you at the next pokecenter."

No one did, but Miki said that it'd happen, sometime between now and the SS Anne's party, and that the rarer Hoppity was, the easier it'd be to track down her old trainer once they found out, so really, the trouble they were having now was a good thing.

In the meantime, there was a small power station a little past the edge of town Miki wanted to visit.

It was the second time Hoppity had a chance to see the world just outside a pokemon center. There weren't many other pokemon out, Hoppity noticed. The only one she saw was a tiny mankey clinging tightly to the side of a girl with all five limbs. Miki tensed up and looked away.

"I think people are fundamentally good," she said abruptly. "No one really wants to hurt another person. In fact, they want to help. If you ask someone for something, they'll do it, without expecting anything back. We take that for granted but it's really a sort of miracle. If you just reach for something, just about every human and pokemon know you mean you want it, and they'll go out of their way to get it for you. But people are dumb, and - and they don't always know what hurts someone, or what someone really needs. And they won't listen if you tell them. But they're not bad people. It's just they don't understand, and if they did, it'd all be different. Does that make sense?"

The people Hoppity met had done a lot to help her, so that part was true.

In return they were getting Hoppity, who was the best. That could be a motivation. But they were unconcerned with the fact Hoppity was the best. And Miki had helped the pichu without asking if it wanted to stay afterward, which meant her actions had no chance of benefiting her.

Hoppity nodded. Wanting to help made the most sense, so people must be good. Miki was so smart!

"Even if sometimes in wanting a chance to help people end up hurting the person instead. That seems like it's horrible, but it's better than wanting to hurt someone. Because it's possible to change what people know, even if it's hard. And then things will be better."

Miki's expression was upset. Hoppity wondered if she was. People thought things while having different faces all the time, so it was hard to say. Maybe that was what Miki was getting at.

.

There were only fourteen electric species originally in the Kanto and Johto area out of the two hundred and fifty known, and two of them were only rumor and speculation. And jolteon's position was debatable, with evidence being they'd been smuggled into the regions in antiquity. Certainly they didn't do well enough in modern times to be found wild. These days there were also a few shinx colonies, but like most non-native newcomers, those were usually found around big population centers where there were a lot of potential irresponsible people. And only pikachu and raichu lived in forests.

"Of course, strictly speaking, there's some pokemon whose native range is restricted to parts of Kanto or Johto, but trainers have been moving back and forth so long there's populations all over and it's not considered a concern. Mareep, for example, prefer to live in hilly areas, but they can't handle really tall mountains and they can't stand water, so they were restricted to an area in mid-Johto. until humans brought them across the division into Kanto. There was a herd of mareep established in Cerulean, to try to farm their wool, and so now there's wild ones spreading out across the lower edge of the northern mountain range. I think you'd like them, the herd leaders are always up for a fight and usually pretty good at it!"

"Eeee," said Hoppity.

"Maybe we'll go there sometime. I could introduce you to my parents, and the gym leaders there are really nice and would probably be interested in meeting you too. Anyway, the pikachu and mareep species lines are the only ones that have a substantial archaeological history. Magnemite seem to have shown up much later, because there's no record of them until roughly the same time humans begin mining and smelting metals, and voltorb were first discovered when my parents were kids. Magnemite mostly and voltorb only live around human areas, especially power plants. So, that's who we're going to be looking for! Pikachu are really shy, but magnemite and voltorb are more outgoing, so there's a better chance of meeting one and of it wanting to come with us."

"Ew e? Eee ee ew ee?" said Hoppity, gesturing at the fence and the sealed building beyond.

"Oh no, we're not going in. The place is built to keep pokemon out, and if that failed, the power would've gone off. Let's just check out the area. Electric types like the hum and atmosphere of these places, so there's a good chance of one being around."

Hoppity stood silently for a few seconds, then turned around and pointed to a small thicket. "Eeee."

"Oh, did you hear something? What is it?"

Hoppity trotted toward it and pulled some of the branches aside, exposing a flash of red and white.

"Oh! Hello-"

It exploded.