Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Leo counted his blessings – most of which were laid out before him. First and foremost was a pocketknife; a small flip-blade with an inch long blade which would be his most important possession in the coming days. Second was the plastic water bottle he had; it would be good to have a container like that, be it for water or something else. Third was his backpack; the heavy duty green canvas was waterproofed, and, in a pinch, he could dissect it to use as bandages or the like. Fourth was the small pack of matches he had apparently left buried in the deepest depths of his pack and only found now, when he dumped most everything else out. Everything else in there was trash – some college papers, folders, the like. They could be used for kindling but wouldn't do much else in his current predicament. That wasn't to say his blessings ended there, however. His fifth and sixth blessings weren't physical objects.
Fifth was his location. Tall pine trees rose around him and mountains loomed on either side of the green valley he sat in the middle of, a river gently flowing off to his right. Leo sucked in a deep breath, appreciating the scent of pine, and listened to the wind as it rustled the trees. He was a mountain boy through and through. And though his wilderness survival skills may be a little rusty thanks to college and work taking up most of his time in the past few years, he was certain that he could at least survive here. It'd take a little bit of work, some trial and error to get his skills back up to snuff, but it was certainly doable. Which led him to his sixth blessing, which also doubled as a problem. He was not alone.
At least, I wasn't alone, Leo thought acidly. It had been a rollercoaster of a day. First, he got magically transported to a swirling tunnel of void and stars thanks to a literal hole in the sky, which had been utterly terrifying but at least he had company. His good friend Jack had been transported with him, and while it wasn't ideal in any way, Leo was glad for the company. It would keep him from losing his mind, at least, as they floated through a literal void of space, somehow without dying. That was until a massive bat made of sky and stars came out of literally nowhere, snatched the two up, and flew through yet another hole in the sky. To top it off the bat was sentient and spoke to Leo telepathically, which wasn't strange at all and totally didn't freak Leo out, having another voice in his head, and had promised to take the two to where they were meant to be.
Apparently that meant dumping Leo in the middle of a forest, and whisking Jack off to who-knows-where. Which led him to his next problem; he wasn't on Earth anymore. Taking a deep breath Leo closed his eyes, then looked up and glared at the pink face that stared at him.
"Sloooow?" It asked, cocking its head to the side, blank eyes staring directly at him. Leo frowned even harder. Slowpoke. The bat – who he figured had to be Lunala, there was nothing else that fit the description – had dropped him into the middle of a Slowpoke herd. He was surrounded by the things, dozens of pink blobs of fat lounging around the river, dipping their tails in the water and occasionally swishing them side to side. He even spotted a few Slowbro slowly swimming about in the placid waters, their splashes adding to the peaceful ambiance of the forest.
Leo was sure there was some sort of implied insult here, what with the whole where you're meant to be line.
So his biggest problem wasn't that he was alone in a forest with no idea of his general location or the location of any sort of civilization, but that he was in a completely foreign world; the world of pokemon. Oh sure, he knew enough about pokémon as a long-time fan, but there was a truly massive difference between game mechanics and reality. How did attacks work? How did pokémon behave? Were they as intelligent as portrayed in the anime, or were they closer to the animals back home? There was very little he knew and only so much he could figure out without simply experiencing it firsthand. Which could be mighty dangerous.
And to top it all off Leo was far, far shorter now. Everything just seemed bigger, and he had a sneaking suspicion that it wasn't because everything was bigger in this world. He was almost certain that it was because he had gotten shorter – his hands looked smaller and softer too, the hands of a child – which, if he'd read enough fanfiction to come up with an idea of what that meant, was not good news. Either he had regressed in age, or had a new body, both of which came with a whole slew of existential/philosophical issues that he, quite frankly, did not have the luxury to worry about right now. His first order of business was just to survive.
"Ok, my first order of business is fresh water," Leo muttered to himself, standing and looking towards the river. Another problem was that he had no way to boil water, ensuring it was safe to drink. He supposed he could try his luck with the river water, figuring that it most likely didn't have the problems many of Earth's rivers had with pollution, but did he really want to risk getting giardia? He wasn't sure he had much of a choice. Leo swallowed heavily at the thought of getting sick out here. It would be a death sentence, so long as he didn't have a proper food and water supply and –
"NO," Leo chided himself, shaking his head to clear it of all thoughts. "Don't think like that, it'll do you no good. You can't control what's going to happen, so roll with it. Focus on the next steps; food and shelter." His nervousness did not leave despite his pep talk, the emotion bubbling in his stomach even as he tried to ignore it, but now he was refocused.
Moving with purpose, Leo bent and stuffed all his things into his backpack before standing and stretching, slinging said backpack over his shoulders. Glancing around, he made a note of his location relative to the two mountains the river wound between, picking out key features so he could make his way back to the Slowpoke herd. It would be pretty simple, all told. The valley wasn't that wide, and the mountains fairly steep – Leo wouldn't be climbing up them in the near future. Besides, if nothing else, he understood that the Slowpoke were docile and, if his hunch was correct, they may be able to provide him with some food. Slowpoke tails were edible, right? He remembered that from the games, even if it had been frowned upon. At least, that's what the games led you to believe when Team Rocket was hunting Slowpoke tails.
And so, he started off marching into the woods confidently and cautiously, trying his hardest to keep his wits about him. He would survive this, no matter how insane the situation was. He just had to take things one step at a time.
Leo figured out pretty quickly that sticking next to the Slowpoke herd as they headed downstream was a great idea. Mainly because they provided a steady source of food in the form of fish – mainly Magikarp and Goldeen of varying sizes. For whatever reason the fish seemed to flock to their tails whenever the Slowpoke would dip them in the river, biting the tips and allowing the Slowpoke to fish them up with relative ease. It was easy enough to snatch a few of the fish away from the slow pokemon, the harder part was cooking them.
"C'mon, work already," he hissed in frustration, rubbing his hands together as fast as he could, trying his hardest to get the stick he was holding to create enough friction to create sparks and ignite his kindling. It had already been three days since he'd been dumped into this world, and Leo was getting frustrated. He didn't have the strength anymore to reliably use the hand drill method, and he'd never really practiced it too much in the first place. His matches weren't unlimited, he had at most twenty of the things left, so before he ran out he wanted to have an alternative method of starting a fire, which had led to his current activity.
"I miss my survival kit," Leo grumbled, setting down the stick and rubbing his face. He'd had at least five different ways to start a fire in his survival kit back home, plus a whole bunch of other necessities, and just thinking about having that kit right now made him…well, he wasn't sure how he felt. Nostalgic? Sentimental? Like he wanted to cry because he had left his entire world behind? Like death was a very real possibility right now? All of the above and more, most likely.
A cool wind blew through the tall pines, whistling through the valley floor and making Leo shiver, his hair standing on end and goosebumps crawling up his arms. The small copse of trees he had chosen to take shelter in blocked the most of the wind, but nights up here got real cold real quick, and, if the brilliant orange in the sky and how the sun had already hidden itself behind the mountains were anything to go by, night was coming soon. Leo shuddered and glanced at the Magikarp off to his left, sighing. He'd told himself that if he didn't get a fire started with the hand drill, he wouldn't eat fish tonight, even if the fish was far smaller than the anime and games had portrayed. The red, crowned fish was maybe the size of a trout, six to eight inches long, but he supposed that made sense. There was no way a river a foot deep could support entire schools of massive Magikarp. So, with a heavy heart, Leo picked up the fish, stood, and tossed it as hard as he could, barely getting it into the river a dozen or so feet away.
"Stupid kid arms," Leo grumbled, lamenting not for the first time his sudden lack of strength. He was pretty sure that was the reason he couldn't get the hand drill to work, the strength in his arms weren't letting him get enough friction. But that could also just be an excuse.
With a sigh, Leo pushed his makeshift fire starter to the side – maybe he made it wrong, that could be the problem – and looked out over the Slowpoke herd. His hand absently reached to the side, picking at the pile of pine nuts he had set on a small rock to his right. They were tiny things, almost inedible and definitely out of season, but pinecones were plentiful, and calories were calories. He had to keep his strength up, even if he was punishing himself for failure. Plus, he'd eaten a ton of Magikarp and Goldeen over the past few days, that was part of the reason he felt comfortable forgoing a meal.
The Slowpoke herd, on the other hand, felt no qualms about skimping on meals. Leo watched as a Slowbro that had been slowly ambling through the shallow waters of the river moved over to pick up Leo's discarded fish and swallowed it in one gulp. The massive creature was at least five feet tall, and it fixated its dopey eyes on Leo for a brief moment before turning and wading back into the river. It was the biggest one of the herd, the other Slowbro being a mere four feet tall and the Slowpoke ranging between standing at two to three feet, and Leo had taken to calling him Derp. Not the most flattering of names, but that was all Leo could use to describe the big, dopey creature. It just didn't seem to be altogether there.
"Slooooow," it called, pushing on down the river, prompting similar calls from the rest of the herd. Leo counted exactly twenty three Slowpoke and two Slowbro in the herd, and they were, for the most part, pleasant company. Yes, they were slow moving, only covering a couple miles in a day as they migrated downriver, and they reminded him of cows in a way, but they didn't even seem to register his presence either. He could walk among them without earning their ire, though a few did watch him warily the first few times he'd stolen their fish.
It was also kind of fun to observe their habits. Most Slowpoke didn't really seem to care where they slept during the day, so long as it was in the sun, but at night they took their time picking out the softest parts of the riverbank. Whether that entailed digging into the silt and soil, or stamping down grass to make a bed of sorts, they spent at least an hour every night just settling down. They even got in arguments over who got the best spot sometimes, that was what caused the first pokémon battle Leo had ever seen in this world. All it consisted of was two short water guns, one which missed and the second hitting the other Slowpoke in the face, but still! It was amazing to see water shoot out of a Slowpoke's mouth at great speed.
Still, it did remind him that Slowpoke were pokemon, and had abilities. They were potentially dangerous and, if his memory serves him correctly, part psychic type. Whatever that entailed or how it worked, he didn't know, but it wasn't like he could worry too much about it either. The Slowpoke were his food source and, thankfully, the river had clean water. It wasn't like he could just skedaddle on out of the mountains when he had no idea where to go, or what might be or not be food. He needed to secure his future first, then he could explore.
Another cold breeze broke Leo out of his musings, and he shivered, deciding it was time for bed. He'd forgo a fire tonight, since he couldn't get it started the primitive way, and instead turned to the pile of pine needles, leaves, and the one fairly big and bushy pine bough he had picked up off of a fallen tree. That was his bed for the night, and though it was by no means comfortable – Leo would have to resituate himself several times throughout the night – it would keep him warm even without a fire.
Thankfully he still had his backpack to use as a pillow.
"Goodnight, Slowpoke," Leo whispered, sliding into his pile and struggling to not itch himself as the pine needles poked through his clothes. The Slowpoke did not reply, and Leo watch the sky fade from orange to grey to black, a brilliant sky of stars coming into being through the treetops, as he lay there trying to sleep.
It was going to be a long, restless night.
Leo muttered to himself as he shifted through the pile of shale, tossing the flat rocks to the side as he searched through them. It had been a solid week since his arrival in this valley, and the Slowpoke were slow movers. They had travelled maybe ten miles in the past four days, which at least did allow Leo enough time to practice his survival skills and try to get them back up to snuff.
He still hadn't gotten the hand drill fire starting method down, so now he was searching for another solution; flint. His knife – which had been invaluable over the past few days, and he needed to find a good whetstone for it to keep it sharp – was made of carbon steel, which would work well to create sparks if he could find a good rock to bash against it. Heck, he was pretty sure he didn't even need flint, just something hard and with an edge to strike against the back of his knife.
"You'd think I'd be able to find something in this big old pile of rocks, but no," Leo grumbled, halting his search to look around. The pile was at least a hundred feet tall and twenty five feet across, and consisted largely of squared, black stones. "These rocks are all useless,"
To prove his point, Leo struck the back of his knife against one of the rocks, chipping off a piece of stone the rock and producing no sparks, nearly losing his grip on his knife in the process. With a sigh Leo shoved his knife back in his pocket and began shifting through the stones once more.
That is, until one of the rocks he grabbed began to move.
"What in the – " Was all the managed to get out when the head-sized rock opened its eyes and glared at him. Shale flew as the Geodude burst forth from its hiding spot, one fist barreling forward and planting itself directly into Leo's chest.
His breath left him with a whoosh and, briefly, Leo found himself falling through the air. Then he was tumbling head over heels down the mountainside, slamming into rocks. Pain rocketed through him as stone dug into his skin, and suddenly he was lying flat on his back, staring up at the cloudless blue sky with grass beneath him.
Leo groaned, trying to ignore the pain all over as he craned his head to look back at the shale pile. He could still see the Geodude, clambering its way up the mountain as it fled. It would have looked funny to see a ball of rock powering it's way up a mountain on two oversized arms, were it not for the pain he was in. Though he should probably consider it a small blessing that it didn't chase after him.
"Ugly, goofy little creature," Leo grumbled as he slowly sat up, checking to see if anything was broken. Thankfully it didn't seem like it, but he was sure to be sore and bruised, and he was certainly bleeding. So Leo sat there for a few minutes, catching his breath and calming his nerves as he stared at the shale pile. He needed another way to create fire, other than matches. Flint and steel would be easier than the hand drill method, too. And, now that he thought about it, he may be able to find a rock that might serve as a platter for cooking so he wasn't roasting whole fish on a stick like you'd see in a cartoon, or even one that could be turned into bowl of sorts. He had to keep looking.
But first he was just going to sit here and hurt.
The Pidgey cooed, and Leo, laying flat on his belly watching the bird hop across the ground in search of seeds or bugs, cooed back. This Pidgey had been hanging around him for the past few hours, noticeable by the almost reddish tint to its feathers that other Pidgey lacked, and Leo had decided now was a good time to bird watch, and perhaps make friends. The Pidgey seemed indifferent to his calls for the most part though.
Sighing, Leo sat up, wincing slightly as his back twinged in pain from his fall with the Geodude a day ago. He hadn't even found any flint, either. Thankfully the Slowpoke were still fishing their hearts out, providing Leo with enough easy food. He honestly didn't know what he'd do without them.
Though speaking of food, Leo eyed the grasshoppers that buzzed and flew through the air every time the Pidgey got too close. It had been a bit of a discovery for Leo to realize this world had actual bugs like Earth, not just bug pokemon. The small, normal-sized and shaped bugs were a staple food source for many critters, and important for the ecosystem. Pokemon were just…too big to fill that role, Leo figured.
Ever so slowly, Leo reached out and snagged one of the locusts that had been lounging on a grass stalk just in front of him. It was…time for lunch, and Leo figured he should at least try to eat the bug. He'd heard somewhere that grasshoppers were excellent sources of calories.
"Through the lips, over the gums, look out stomach – you're not gonna like this," Leo whispered, trying his hardest to ignore the buzzing in his hand as he, in one swift motion, popped the grasshopper in his mouth, bit once filling his mouth with disgusting bug juices, and swallowed. This was immediately followed by gagging and retching that echoed throughout the meadow, startling the Pidgey and causing it to shoot off into the air with an annoyed squawk and the flapping of wings.
"That was vile," Leo hissed through his teeth, holding the back of his hand to his mouth and fighting back the urge to vomit. "I'll probably just stick with ants. At least they just taste like salt," this was a fact Leo could attest to, as he had eaten quite a few ants when he was a kid. His brother had dared him to, so he did, and lo and behold he liked the taste.
"I want a hamburger. And chicken, or fruit," Leo said wistfully. His diet almost exclusively consisted of nuts and fish, neither of which were seasoned and thus, bland. Plus he had to go through a lot of work just to get a few pine nuts. It made him really appreciate the ease of access for food in his previous world, which brought him around to thinking about proper nutrition. Leo did have a few concerns about the variety of his diet and whether he was getting all the proper nutrients, but again, there was little he could do. Maybe if he understood what plants were edible or not he could do something about it, but he didn't, so the point was moot.
Glancing at the sky next, Leo frowned. The temperature was already starting to drop despite it being midday, and on the horizon sat ominous grey clouds. A storm was coming and he didn't really have any real shelter from it. There weren't any convenient caves nearby, no rocks to hide under, and his trick with the pine needles to keep warm wouldn't really help with staying dry. Leo rubbed his chin, trying to think of something that might help…
The meadow in front of him was useless, and the tall pines weren't really helpful either. Further down the river was a bunch of willow-like bushes, dense green things with heavy, almost minty-smelling leaves that could probably provide some cover, but he wasn't sure he wanted to crawl in there after watching an Spinarak scuttle its way in the bushes earlier. Leo shuddered just thinking of the massive green spider. He may have gotten over his fear of spiders years ago, but that didn't mean he liked the horrific creatures. Much less one that was a foot in diameter.
I wonder how Spinarak tastes…Leo thought randomly before shaking that image out of his head. He had almost imagined the Spinarak like a land crab, and though he'd heard of people eating the massive bird-eating spider in his old world, he wasn't quite desperate enough to follow suit quite yet. No, his top priority was to find shelter from the storm, and, as he tended to do now, he turned to the Slowpoke for help.
On the other side of the river bank was the Slowpoke herd, having crossed over sometime the previous night, and were hanging out next to a rocky outcropping, sunning themselves on the rocks and lounging in the shallow waters. The rocks could be an option, but that would mean crossing the river. The murky waters didn't look dangerous, and the current wasn't fast, but Leo wanted to avoid that if at all possible. He didn't know why, really, he just didn't want to cross the river. Besides, the rocks wouldn't keep him dry, they'd just shelter him a bit from the wind – thus, useless.
"Slooow," one of the Slowpoke called, yawning immediately after. The rest of the herd yawned as well, almost like it was choreographed. Leo bit back his own yawn, the effort making his eyes tear up.
"Right, let's go take a look around, see what I can find," Leo said, standing up slowly and gingerly. His knee popped painfully as he stood, and he grimaced. "Should be fun," he told himself through gritted teeth, and moved off into the forest.
After about an hour and a half of searching, during which time he ran across a colony of Oddish led by a foul-smelling gloom that had eyed him warily, Leo stumbled across a god-send. A copse of trees at the base of the mountain, about a mile from where Leo had last seen the Slowpoke herd, stood tall and dense, but most importantly, they were of a different species of tree than Leo had seen around. Aspens and tall pine were common, but the grove consisted mostly of a blue-spruce lookalike with big bushy branches that bent and touched the ground, completely covering the base of the trunk. And when Leo pushed aside the branches it revealed a completely covered area free of tree branches that Leo could easily lay underneath and ideally stay dry.
"Finally, some more good luck," Leo breathed in relief, smiling to himself. He hadn't found a good stone to help him start fires yet, nor was the hand drill method working, so he was glad something else had gone right. Plus this grove consisted almost entirely of these same trees! So if he got bored of the first tree, then he could move!
It was a good thing he found the trees, too, because not an hour later, while he was busy trying to find a good whetstone for his knife along the river, it started to rain.
Leo pocketed the smooth river stone he had been examining, squinting up at the sky as it began to drizzle. He could still see sunny skies to his left, in the direction the storm was heading, but to his right was nothing but increasingly dark storm clouds and the rumbling of thunder. Leo sucked in a deep breath, enjoying the scent of rain and letting the misty droplets slick his hair.
"Gotta love a good storm," he said, trying to remain upbeat as he headed back to his tree, sliding underneath the branches and laying still, pleased to see he was right, and that he was being kept dry for now. He'd have to see if that stayed true if the rain picked up, but for now he remained hopeful.
After a few moments of watching the rain through the branches, Leo pulled out his knife, flipped it open, and pulled out the stone he had grabbed. He didn't know if it was the right coarseness to get the best edge, but the blade was dull enough as it was, so anything would help. The sound of metal scraping against stone filled Leo's ears for the better part of an hour, at the end of which his knife was a fair bit sharper than it had been.
Left with not much else to do as the temperature continued to drop and the rain picked up, Leo pulled a few of the branches aside to watch the rain.
Most critters seemed to have the same idea as Leo and were hiding, but some had different plans. Five Wooper came waltzing out of the river, shaking their little blue bodies in the rain and happily skipping about, shooting jets of water and globs of mud at each other as they played. Lei chuckled quietly as he watched their antics. They traipsed about for a while, whooping and playing and shuffling in the mud. Leo noticed one digging up plants and chewing on something just a little ways away from the river, which he made a mental note to check out when it stopped raining. But they didn't stay out for long, and vanished back into the river just as quickly as they had come.
Then another brilliant idea he should've thought if earlier flashed into Leo's mind and, shuffling through his backpack, which he had stowed beneath the tree before the rain hit, he procured his water bottles, filled with murky river water as they were. Leo promptly dumped those out and placed them beneath streams of rainwater pouring from the tree he lay under to fill up. There, he thought with a small smile, laying down. Now I have something to drink besides river water.
The rain lasted for a solid sixteen hours. Leo wasn't actually sure how long it rained, he was more of guessing based on how the rain started around mid afternoon, and ended mid morning the next day. Which sucked because now Leo was cold and stiff from laying beneath a tree for that long, unable to really cover himself at all and the tree cover only providing the bare minimum of support. And now he was hungry, so as he slid out of the tree cover, the wet soil clinging to his hands and knees and squelching beneath his feet, he made immediate plans to procure food.
Steam rolled off the ground as the early morning sun warmed it, setting the world into a picturesque moment that Leo had to stop and admire. The morning sun filtered through the trees in individual rays, and the pine needles glistened with water. Leo groaned and stretched, his knees and back popping loudly. The cold clung to his body bone-deep, and he wiggled his fingers in an attempt to bring life back into them. He stamped his feet and started moving, heading towards the Slowpoke herd, and jumping up and down to get his blood pumping, trying to alleviate at least some of the chill. So fixated on the cold he was, he almost didn't notice the churned soil where the Wooper had been digging the previous day.
Leo hesitated for a moment, debating coming back later to investigate. No, he thought to himself. I should take a look now, before I forget. So he bent over, searching around for what the Wooper had dug up.
It took a good few minutes for Leo to find anything, most of the evidence having been washed away by the rain save for the holes in the ground the Wooper had left, and what he did find filled him with hope. A plant had been dug up, with broad, dark green leaves and a large, round root that had chunks torn out of it. It looked an awful lot like a tuber – a wild potato maybe? Leo searched for more, the distinct leaves proving easy to find. He dug one up with enthusiasm, his hands clawing at the soft soil, until it revealed to him its prize – an unblemished, albeit dirt covered, root that fit snugly into the palm of his hand. It was maybe three inches long, and an inch around.
Looking at it, Leo could see the resemblance to a potato, and when he broke it open with a wet snap to taste it, his suspicions were confirmed. The pale white meat of the tuber tasted like a bitter potato, and Leo laughed aloud. Here he was, surrounded by vegetables, and he didn't even know it.
Still, he couldn't help but grin wildly. As terrible as the situation was currently, Leo could survive.
"No, not just survive," Leo told himself, digging up more of the pseudo potato plants for breakfast. "These mountains can provide everything I need to thrive."
Well, here's the first chapter. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.