DISCLAIMER: Believe it or not, I in fact do not own Pokemon. Shocked, I'm sure.
NOTE: To anyone who reviewed my prior Pokeshipping Week stories ("Welcome to Alola" and "One Last thing"), I'm having some trouble with the reviews not showing up. I'll give it another day or two, hopefully it'll clear up and I'll be able to respond. If you don't hear from me in several days, feel free to PM me. Thank you for reviewing!
The gravel was still rolling down from where they fell.
Misty grimaced slightly as she rose to her feet. The ancient ruins (as opposed, one would suppose, to fresh spanking new ruins with all the latest modern conveniences) were in significantly worse shape than they'd thought. She quickly checked herself for any injuries, quietly cursing that her Pokemon were with Ash for the moment. They didn't expect anything like this; that aside, that could be said of half the things they did. Being a Pokemon trainer working with Ash Ketchum was not precisely the most predictable occupation.
She turned her attention towards the one Pokemon that DID make the trip with her with a mixture of concern and trepidation.
A small, green Pokemon, worm-like in a caterpillar-y sort of way, primarily because it was a caterpillar.
"Caterpieeeeeeee..." Caterpie insisted, as it crawled towards Misty.
She was faced with two facts.
First, this was the son of Ash's Butterfree, and Butterfree's mate. The two had come back to Ash's possession to live at Oak's ranch, and they had been unsurprisingly fruitful and multiplied. Ash had specifically had both of them transferred in for this mission, in fact. When it came down to it, Misty had trained herself to tolerate Ash's Butterfree, and she knew well that it wasn't a bad bug at all, and its son was (in a horribly, grotesque, creepy-crawly way) fairly cute. Plus, Misty's normal bug-fear rule had at the very end, in teeny tiny letters, 'except for Ash's Butterfree.'
The second was that it was a bug, which, according to her, is the antithesis of all of creation.
"Just... just stay there, alright?" Quickly she inspected the Caterpie for any damage. "You're not hurt, right?" she asked, silently praying that it wasn't hurt, both because she actually did not want to see harm befall the young Pokemon, but also because she did not enjoy the prospect of having to touch it in order to treat it with her meager emergency supplies.
Caterpie shook its head. It looked like it did well - when she fell, she thought she saw it curl up into a ball, rolling out the worst of it fairly easily. Silently, and for the first and only time, she wished she had an exoskeleton to pull that trick off; although she wasn't seriously hurt, the bumps and scratches weren't exactly comfortable.
"Piee caterpieeee..." Caterpie insisted. It was fine. However, Misty blanched slightly at the bug's assertion.
"Aheh, just... call me 'Misty,' OK? Not... 'Momma Misty,' I'm... not your momma..."
Caterpie didn't seem to care. "Caterpieeee..."
"Uh... listen, um." She took a step back. "Let's... just not touch too much unless we really have to, OK? I'm... I'm slimy and icky, you know! Bugs hate touching me! Eww, gross, can't stand to touch Misty, that slimy gross water Pokemon trainer!" She gestured to herself dramatically as though attempting to prove some point in convincing Caterpie not to touch her.
Only to find out when she looked back that Caterpie wasn't there.
She felt a slight tickle on her leg and glanced down.
"Pie! Caterpie!" The Caterpie disagreed with Misty quite readily; it did not, in fact, find her slimy at all, and was quite insistent and vocal that this was not the case.
It learned this because it was currently clinging to her leg with all of its arms, hugging her as if to reassure her that she was indeed cuddly and cute. For a human, anyway.
Misty's eye twitched. OK, calm down, Misty, she thought to herself, it's just a little bug, it's a baby for crying out loud, it can't hurt you, it LIKES you, it's Butterfree's son of all things, nothing to worry about, right? No need to scream.
She failed to convince herself that there was no need to scream.
Half a mile of wandering down through the tunnels, and Misty was starting to wonder if Ash had designed these ruins. It was certainly lost enough, and considering how often they'd traveled through time, it was not out of the question. She made a mental note to smack herself in the future if she ever found herself in an ancient time period watching Ash designing this wretched thing, since she rather obviously didn't manage to stop him if some fool actually built it. Caterpie had kept his distance, looking unmistakably hurt, and Misty had an incredible feeling of guilt.
"It's not you, OK?" she added, shakily. "I'm... I'm really bad with this kind of thing, some... some really bad stuff happened involving bugs when I was little." She never did explain that, did she? "Bunch of things. Angry Beedrill... allergic reactions, and... uh..." she looked for words to put it into, finding none, particularly since 'and then I got cured and my allergy was cured so it wouldn't happen again and that was the end of things' didn't seem to be a very good way to justify an ongoing phobia, especially when she had another, worse incident that she had hardly told anyone, ever. The two combined cemented her very real terror of bugs of both the plain and Pokemon variety.
"So it's me, not you, alright?"
"Pie," Caterpie replied, its huge eyes looking sad, as though it was about to cry.
Her heart broke when she looked at it.
She was going to get so yelled at by Butterfree when she reached the surface; she was actually looking forward to it. She deserved it. It might remove some of the guilt.
"- PIEEEEEEE!" Caterpie abruptly yelped as he noticed something - a rather angry looking Vileplume was apparently coming straight at them. Not at all acclimated to humans, or probably even most Pokemon that weren't trying to take its territory, it immediately attempted to attack Caterpie, smashing him backwards.
"PIE!" Caterpie was hurled away, landing right in front of Misty's feet.
"...Caterpie!" she called aloud, quickly scooping up the bug and cringing inside. "Are you OK?"
"PLUME!" Vileplume grunted, and indicated that it was by NO means done protecting its territory yet!
Misty scowled darkly. When it came right down to it, Misty was, behind all of her barbs, insults, and razor-sharp tongue, a kind girl with an extremely powerful mothering instinct.
Which was now triggered for the first time since Togepi.
"...you've got a lotta nerve, you overgrown weed," she grated quietly. She was ready to try to take it on with her own fists if need be, but she quickly thought better - Caterpie was a Pokemon, after all. "Caterpie, do you know how to use String Shot?"
"Shoot sticky silk at it!" she insisted - eyes widening as Vileplume's top began to bubble over with a foul, toxic brew. Pokemon toxins were rarely fatal to humans or Pokemon alike unless there was something like an allergy involved, but this was a wild Pokemon that was acclimated to being ultra-defensive as a survival technique - it was unlikely to just stop attacking when it merely sickened them.
"RIGHT AT ITS TOP! HURRY!" she insisted.
Caterpie blinked, and grunted. Its first battle. It'd show Momma Misty it was good! It hurled itself from the girl's hands, ignoring its hurt, and welling up glop in its mouth, before snapping off a burst of it. "PIEEEEEEEEEEEE!"
The Vileplume's poison attack thwarted as its massive bloom was covered in glop, it decided to attack in a more traditional way. By bludgeoning.
"VILEPLUME!" it screamed, charging straight for Caterpie, and likely, Misty immediately thereafter.
"CATERPIE, STRING SHOT AGAIN, AIM FOR THE LEGS!" Misty called aloud, ready to try to smash it in the face and beat feet if need be. However, Caterpie kept his cool, spinning up more glop in its mouth, before spraying a burst of it straight for Vileplume's legs.
The glop jutted out and ensnared the overgrown weed, causing its legs to stick to the ground, one another, and anything else. It yelped as it fell, losing its balance and landing with a loud *THUD*, rolling away in a slightly comical manner.
Misty smiled a little - until she saw that Vileplume's top began to glow.
Misty quickly snapped up Caterpie and stuck him under her arm like a football.
Considering the speed at which she retreated, it is a shame the Cerulean Wingulls football team overlooked a potential star player in the former Cerulean Gym leader.
OK, so they managed to survive a wild Pokemon attack, and wandering around in the darkness for an hour. Misty still couldn't get a Pokedex uplink signal, so she couldn't call for help, but she suspected they may not have been too far from an exit.
In truth she had little idea of where she was going, other than she needed to get to someplace SAFER. It may not have been wise to move around so much lest there be search parties, but she wasn't entirely certain there WERE search parties, not in this place, anyway. Doubt gnawed at her gut. She'd set down Caterpie again, her tolerance for the bug dissipating to some extent now that they were no longer in danger. The girl and the bug walked quickly, looking around. "Be careful, I think the rocks here might not be the most stab - "
She didn't get to finish that sentence, because her prediction was accurate.
Three rather large boulders, large enough to do quite a bit of damage, were dislodged by the simple sound of talking and headed straight for her.
"GAAAAAAAAAH!" she yelped, quickly ducking down. "CATERPIE, TAKE COVER!"
Caterpie, however, completely ignored 'Momma Misty,' snapping its attention towards the boulders, mustering up the silk in its mouth, and firing a large spray of it. It seemed that the youngster had mastered String Shot, at least to a point, and quickly managed to assemble a thick barrier, catching the boulders and sending them tumbling away from the girl. Misty saw her chance and leapt out of the way of the debris, snagging Caterpie out of danger as well. The boulders bounced and crashed and crumbled, and eventually settled.
There wasn't much of the broken ceiling left to collapse; they were still underground, but at least things looked stable. They could probably cross the section now, since everything dangerous had collapsed.
She panted a little bit and looked at Caterpie. "...great job, Caterpie, thank - "
She paused as she noticed something. Caterpie was coughing up some silk, and... wouldn't stop.
"...Caterpie?" she inquired. "...are you alright?"
She found that she was kind of bonding to this bug, redoubling her worry, especially since she had no idea whatsoever what to do if it was throwing up - or worse. She knew baby humans threw up all the time, but larval Pokemon? She had no idea, especially when it was silk, not food. She could patch up injuries, but other than that, she was helpless to intervene medically.
"Pie caterpie..." Caterpie explained.
"You don't feel good, huh? I can understand, I - "
Her eyes widened as suddenly Caterpie involuntarily lurched, arching his back into the air and began pouring out string shot silk. She blinked as she realized that she'd seen this once before, the silk landing right on top of the Caterpie and covering, hardening, and turning green...
...resulting in a Metapod.
"...Cater - META! METAPOD! META!" Metapod freaked out, abruptly barely able to move, with a new voice, and very confused.
"HEY! Hey, calm down! CALM DOWN, OK? It's natural and it's normal. It's how your daddy got wings, OK? You'll be fine, you just have to stay in this thing for a few days."
"METAPOD META!" it called out, realizing it was now nearly immobile in most unwelcome territory. It could bounce around, sure, possibly even well enough to try a Tackle or String Shot, but getting out of here?
Misty sighed. "Metapod... calm down."
She grimaced. The things she did to help her friends (and, she hated to admit it, this bug probably counted to some degree). She reached over and scooped the poor little bug up with a slight grunt. Somehow it seemed heavier, never mind that might defy physics - sometimes with Pokemon physics seemed to be more of a gentle suggestion than an inviolable law, and she suspected this was little different.
But it wasn't too bad, and she was able to manage as she tromped along.
She kept telling herself that she was touching hardened string shot. Not an icky, slimy, disgusting bug.
She also closed her eyes as she felt Metapod's shaking against her... no, not shaking.
She had a bug. Purring on her.
Ash, Butterfree, Misty thought, you owe me BIG for this.
Finally, the surface.
It was a stroke of luck that she'd found a hole, pulling herself up and quickly switching on the distress beacon on her Pokedex, unwilling to activate the voice function just in case she needed the battery power for something even more dire later. They were in what amounted to a large, enclosed garden area between two hills, with a lot of tree cover - the sort of thing that tends to be hidden in plain sight, even from satellite data. She frowned, coughing slightly - she didn't feel good. There was poison down there in that last stretch, something she suspected was recent, and it was nauseating, but she was more concerned with the bundle she carried in the form of Metapod. It looked positively sickened.
"Metapod, hold on! You didn't breathe too much, did you?"
Metapod groaned slightly, sounding nauseated. "Pod..."
"Yeah, you did great, don't worry - " She sharply coughed a few times, pulling something out of her bag. Antidote, auto-injection. "This might sting a little, OK?" she said, quickly stabbing it into the Metapod. She pondered for a moment, before pulling out another injector and wincing as she rammed it into her own thigh. Antidote wasn't perfectly designed for humans, but in a pinch, it certainly wouldn't hurt. She hissed at the sting as she waited for help.
Ash, unsurprisingly, arrived first. "MISTY!" he called out. "PIKACHUPI!" Pikachu echoed, looking over from Ash's shoulder with an obviously relieved smile. "We've been looking all over for you! We got a half-dozen search parties down there right now tryin' to find where you landed!"
He sounded relieved, and Misty felt relieved, knowing everything was going to be alright once he showed up. He slid down the hill to where she was, unwilling to wait anyone else to make it here. It took her a moment to look around at where they were - really look at it - and it seemed that she just might have discovered part of the ruins unexplored thus far, and in nearly-prestine condition. This just might solve the entire mission and help them cure the Legendary they were trying to save.
But right now she needed to make sure the bug was alright.
"Is Caterpie with - " Ash paused as he looked at the green form in Misty's hands.
Misty didn't have time to explain. "Ash, quick, your Pokedex, scan it! It was - " she coughed sharply. "- it was poisoned!" she explained, hacking up more of the gasses she was exposed to down there.
Quickly Ash engaged the scanning function while Pikachu slid down, followed shortly by Butterfree himself, and his mate (whom they'd taken to calling 'Freela,' and Freela did not seem to object).
Ash furrowed his brow and nodded. "We should get him to the Pokemon Center, but it looks like he's gonna be fine." The diagnostic software on board a Pokedex was crude, but functional for most basic cases, and indicated that there was a low, non-critical level of poison circulating in the bug's system. A complete natural recovery was highly likely, particularly with the antidote, but with a Pokemon this young it was better to be safe than sorry.
"FREE!" Butterfree said, floating near Misty, expressing their gratitude to the girl. Freela moved in, and Misty offered up the Metapod, who chattered with his mother as the two floated back a bit to give some space. Freela made a point of looking towards the redhead; possibly a gesture she learned recently from being around humans, since the compound eyes of a Butterfree made it rather needless to actually turn one's head at another Butterfree to see their face while speaking, "Butter, butterfree free butterfreeeeee!"
"It was... it was nothin'," Misty said with a smile, wiping away a lock of hair in front of her eyes. She was tired, but triumphant, leaning against the wall as they awaited further assistance. Brock would probably be along very shortly, along with the archaeologists, and they could hopefully end this entire thing very quickly. "We helped each other out a lot."
"Are you alright?" Ash inquired of the girl, now that the youngster's immediate needs were taken care of. She seemed alright, but he wasn't too happy to hear that she was exposed to poison.
"...honestly, Ash, I feel like something that came out of a Rapidash's behind," she muttered, wincing a little and dropping to sit on a rock. "I don't think I'm too bad off, but I took an antidote just in case," she waved around the expended hypo, along with Metapod's. "I think I'll be fine."
Ash nodded understandingly, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Do you need anything?"
Misty smiled slightly, and shook her head. "Just some rest... 'n if you'd just stick around here I'd appreciate it." She was a little concerned she might have some unexpected reaction, and had no idea what that poison was down there. It might be a very grave mistake to be left alone while she recovered.
"No problem, Mist," Ash said, taking a seat next to her.
"...free, butter butterfree..." Freela said looking towards Misty.
"Hm?" Misty blinked. What was that?
"Butterfree free butter, butterfree free." Butterfree pointed to Metapod... then pointed to Misty.
Human-Pokemon translation wasn't always perfect, which was one reason Team Rocket didn't kick a Meowth fluent in human speech with little to no battling skill out to the curb to work a corner with a 'Will Payday Attack For Food' sign. It was frequently a battle to keep up with the grammar used by the Pokemon, so words got muddled slightly at times, even with experienced trainers. "...you want me to take Metapod? Isn't he Ash's?"
"Free, butterfree." Butterfree clarified, and she blanched.
"...you... want me to take... Metapod's little BROTHER?"
Both Butterfree and Freela nodded, their facial expressions approximating a smile as best as possible, obviously greatly pleased and grateful towards the redhead.
Misty's face was agape, her eyebrow twitching rapidly. Someone who didn't know her better might have suspected she was having a seizure. She might have retorted that a seizure would be preferable.
Ash blinked at Misty's reaction, Pikachu's ears drooping as he uttered a somewhat concerned 'chuuuuuuu.' "...you gotta get over your fears sometime, right?"
Misty made no reply.