I used to be an Eevee, that cute furry Pokemon that can evolve into one of five different forms. Except, in my case, I didn't become a Jolteon, an Espeon or any of the usual Eevee evolutions - I became something the Pokeologists had never seen before. It all started on the day of the eclipse . . .
I was with my trainer, a tall brown-haired girl named Lizzie, and we were assembled with everyone else in Rustboro City to watch the total solar eclipse that would be visible from Hoenn that afternoon. I'd heard Lizzie and her parents talking about it for weeks beforehand, how it was going to bring in stargazers and tourists from all over the world, but didn't think too much of it. Lizzie had talked about how, if an Eevee really bonds with its trainer during the day, it will evolve into an Espeon and, if the bond happens during the night, that Eevee will become an Umbreon. But it never occurred to us that I might evolve during the eclipse - surely, nothing could happen to trigger it then . . .
Anyway, I was perched on Lizzie's shoulder - she had let me out of my Poke Ball for the occasion and many other trainers had done the same with their Pokemon - and we were standing in the gloomy twilight as the moon moved across the face of the sun. I could feel the anticipation in the air, the feeling that something was about to happen that few in the crowd would ever witness again, and it made a slight shiver go up my spine as Lizzie turned to stroke me. I adored my trainer; I was a surprise present on her eighth birthday and, from the moment I emerged from the decorated box and saw her delighted face, I knew we were going to be friends.
Five years had gone by since then and I was still an Eevee - Lizzie said she didn't believe in using evolutionary Stones as some trainers used them to suit themselves and not the Pokemon they evolved them with. So she definitely wouldn't force me to become a Jolteon, Flareon or Vaporeon if I had no desire to, not that I minded too much. I once met a Delcatty who told me her trainer had used a Moon Stone on her simply to make her stronger than she was in her Skitty form; she was used to being an evolved Pokemon now, but she would have preferred to stay a Skitty for a while longer. In any case, it caused me to wonder how many other trainers were using evolution Stones on their Pokemon before the Pokemon were ready, but Lizzie made her views on the subject perfectly plain - she was going to evolve me without a Stone, which meant I would become an Espeon or an Umbreon. Or so I thought . . .
It was when the sun was already partially obscured that the boy walked up to Lizzie and me. Perched on her shoulder, I could see him clearly, a dark-haired kid in jeans and a red t-shirt, a Poke Ball attached to his belt. "Hey," he said with that confident air I had come to expect from passing trainers who wanted to challenge Lizzie to a Pokemon battle. "Is that your Eevee?"
"Yes, it is," Lizzie replied, tickling me under the chin as she spoke. "I've had it since I was eight."
"You any good at battling?" the boy asked next, his hand straying expectantly to his Poke Ball. "Only, I'm hoping to challenge Roxanne later so I need a bit of practice."
I exchanged glances with Lizzie - Roxanne, I had been told, was the local Gym Leader, a trainer of Rock Pokemon who owned a Geodude and a Nosepass. And, if this boy was going to battle a Gym Leader, that could only mean he was a licensed trainer, as opposed to being some kid who battled his Pokemon purely for sport. But Lizzie seemed to have no qualms about the whole thing. "Sure," she said with a smile. "But we'd better make it fast - I don't want to miss this." She gestured towards the sky where the sun was now reduced to a crescent.
"OK," the boy said as he pulled his Poke Ball off his belt and made ready to throw it. "Let's go, Oddish!"
There was a flash of light, which quickly faded to reveal an Oddish - this one was a female, the same gender I am - who stood swaying her leaves as if practising her Attacks. I did not say anything to her; I don't tend to speak to Pokemon I'm about to battle against, but I do sometimes talk to them afterwards to congratulate them if they won or even put up a decent fight. It's in the nature of Pokemon to fight each battle to the best of their abilities, but that doesn't stop us from being friendly towards each other when the fighting finishes . . .
"I'll get things started," the boy said as he faced Lizzie in the unnatural twilight. Already, I had glimpsed two Noctowls taking off from a nearby tree and they don't usually stir until much later. But solar eclipses are like that - they briefly create the illusion of night and Pokemon, particularly those who are most active after dark such as Murkrow or Gastly, respond to that. Coming back to the battle I was about to fight . . .
"Oddish, Stun Spore!" came the command from opposite me and Lizzie. I saw Oddish waving the leaves on top of her head so that a fine powder began to drift in my direction. I waited to hear what Lizzie wanted me to do but hoped she wouldn't take too long - if you get hit with a Stun Spore, it causes your body to seize up so you can't battle until your trainer heals you.
"Dodge it, Eevee!" I heard Lizzie say behind me. So, ever loyal to my trainer, I smartly nipped to one side just in time to see the Stun Spore Oddish had used against me float harmlessly to the ground. "Now - use Quick Attack!" Before the Oddish's trainer could call for another Attack, I dashed towards his Grass Pokemon as fast as my legs would carry me and struck her full on, knocking her sprawling.
But she wasn't beaten yet and was soon on her feet, ready to perform the next Attack. This proved to be the most basic Attack in the Oddish line's repetoire - nevertheless, it is effective if used well - Absorb. As its name suggests, this involves the Pokemon siphoning off energy from its opponent and using it to replenish its own energy reserves and, as Oddish latched onto me with two of her leaves, I felt myself growing gradually weaker. My legs were beginning to buckle and I was only dimly aware when Lizzie's voice called out encouragement from behind me . . .
"Don't give up, Eevee!" she ordered. "Try your Protect!" Somehow, I managed to draw on my reserves of energy and project a barrier around myself to act as a shield against attack. This also had the effect of sending Oddish flying a few feet and I smiled to myself when I saw her struggling to get to her feet, not an easy task if, like Oddish, you don't have any arms.
Soon, however, Oddish was up and ready to continue the battle. "Oddish, Petal Dance!" her trainer called. And Oddish promptly launched into a peculiar kind of dance that sent a shower of pink petals in my direction. The sight entranced me; it was as if the Oddish was trying to distract me with her petals long enough for her trainer to call for the next Attack. But what would that be? The most powerful Grass Type Attack is Solarbeam, but it's pretty useless if the battle is taking place in anything less than direct sunlight - it will work on a cloudy day, but it's not as effective and, as for using it during a solar eclipse . . .
"Eevee!" I heard Lizzie's voice call. "Use Double Team to confuse them!" I responded immediately, moving so fast that it looked as though another Eevee had appeared beside me. That, of course, was the general idea, to distract the opponent with a fake copy of the Pokemon doing the Double Team and, while the former wasted time trying to figure out which one to go for, the Double-Teamer's trainer could launch the next Attack. I waited for Lizzie's orders.
"Eevee, Shadow Ball!" she called, causing the Oddish's trainer to stop in his tracks. Shadow Ball is a Ghost Type move and I don't think he was expecting an Eevee to use it, but Lizzie said when she taught it to me that it never hurts for a Pokemon to know Attacks of Types other than its own. I actually met a Croconaw who knew Dig once and said his trainer had taught him the move to compensate for his weakness against Electric Types . . .
In any case, I focussed with all my might and, with the sky growing ever darker, projected a shadowy grey ball through my head. It swiftly converged on Oddish and knocked her to the ground . . .
"Oddish, return!" the boy ordered as he pointed Oddish's Poke Ball at her and she disappeared into its core. "You did your best," he whispered as he placed the Ball back on his belt and turned to walk away. As he did so, I heard shouts of wonder and amazement from nearby, prompting Lizzie and I to turn and look up at the darkened sky. What we saw can hardly be put into words; few could do justice to the awe-inspiring sight of the moon covering the sun, the ring of gas plumes that circled the darkened disc. But, as I heard the humans shouting with wonder at the spectacle and the sound of several cameras clicking in the temporary night, I felt an overwhelming sense of loyalty to my trainer . . .
It was as if I was surrounded by light, a light that was making me bigger and stronger, changing my form. I could feel my once tiny and compact body growing larger and slimmer, my fur becoming finer, my bushy tail growing longer . . . I was evolving, but what was I evolving into?
My first thought, when the process was over and I was able to look down at my new body and see that my brown paws had turned black, was that I was now an Umbreon. But, as the sun began to emerge once more, I heard Lizzie's voice beside me saying, "Eevee, you've evolved! But . . . what are you?" I looked up at her quizzically, as yet unaware that I had evolved into anything other than one of the five known Eevee evolutions.
"Look at yourself," Lizzie said as she produced a mirror out of her bag and showed me my reflection. The face that stared back at me clearly wasn't an Umbreon - in fact, it looked more like an Espeon's face than anything else, except for the fact that it was jet black and all the Espeons I'd ever seen were purple. What was more, the red jewel in my forehead was surrounded by a golden ring of the sort an Umbreon has and my tail, while not split towards the tip like an Espeon's was definitely longer than normal for an Umbreon . . .
"It's as if you're a mixture of Espeon and Umbreon," Lizzie told me. "But which of them are you?"
I had no idea, no way of answering her question. Inside, I felt confused, as if I had the abilities of two Pokemon in the same body. But was I a Psychic Type or a Dark Type? Or had the fact I had evolved during a solar eclipse fooled my body into thinking it was night time? No, if that had been the case, I shoud have become a run-of-the-mill Umbreon, not this . . . mixture I seemed to be now.
"Whatever you are," Lizzie went on, "we'd better find out. First thing in the morning, I'm taking you to see an Eeveeologist."
An Eeveeologist, I should explain at this point, is a Pokeologist who specialises in studying Eevee and its evolved forms. Indeed, as I understand it, the first Espeons and Umbreons were created by an Eeveeologist who, after finding that the Leaf, Sun and Moon Stones had no effect on an Eevee began an experiment in which ten Eevees were only allowed to train during that day and another ten were only allowed to train at night. After several months, all twenty had evolved, but the study produced not one but two new Eevee evolutions. Those who were trained and allowed to bond with a human during the day became a Psychic Pokemon known as Espeon, while the night group evolved into the Dark Type Umbreon. A control group, which were not allowed to form bonds with any humans, all failed to evolve - from this, Eeveeologists concluded that, while day and night were a definite factor in determining whether an Eevee became an Espeon or an Umbreon, a close emotional bond with a human was required if the Eevee was to evolve into either . . .
In any case, I soon found myself being examined by such a person, a youngish woman named Ruth who wore glasses and had short brown hair, as Lizzie stood beside me and stroked my head the way I've always liked. As she did so, she explained everything about how I had evolved during the eclipse and asked if that could have been a factor. Could it have had any effect on the form my body took when I evolved?
"Hmm," Ruth said as she looked into Lizzie's eyes. "It's certainly possible that the eclipse confused your Eevee into thinking it was night and triggered the evolution to Umbreon. But, if totally ended before the evolution was complete, its body may have tried to correct the mistake - only, by then some of the Umbreon characteristics were already established . . ."
"So it's neither Espeon nor Umbreon?" Lizzie asked next with a confused expression on her face. I knew exactly how she felt, having heard her flicking through her Pokedex in a bid to match my new form with the Pokemon listed, only to repeatedly get the same response - no matches found. There was no escaping the conclusion that I must have become a hitherto unknown Eevee evolution.
"No," Ruth replied. "It's not. In fact, from the look of it, it's evolved into a mixture of the two. As for what effect this will have on its battling ability, there's only one way to find out . . ."
"A Pokemon battle," Lizzie replied. Then she frowned as another thought occurred to her. "But how can I give commands if I don't know what Pokemon I've got?" she asked.
"Then we must give it a name," Ruth replied. "And, since it evolved during the eclipse, I think we should call it Eclipseon. What do you reckon?"
"Yeah - Eclipseon sounds good," Lizzie said, nodding her head in agreement. "The question is, what Type is it?"
Ruth directed Lizzie to call me back into my Poke Ball and follow her outside. The last thing I heard before the Ball pinged shut was Ruth's voice saying, "That's what we aim to find out."
Lizzie released me in what was obviously an arena - I could see the chalk lines that marked out where each Pokemon had to be at the start of the match - was Ruth standing directly opposite with a Houndour beside her. So this was to be my opponent, a Dark/Fire Pokemon? But what if I was a Psychic Type? If that was the case, I wouldn't stand much chance against a Houndour unless Lizzie was able to think quickly.
"Houndour, Faint Attack!" I heard Ruth order. In response, the Houndour promptly vanished from view, leaving me struggling to work out where on Earth it could be - I knew it had to be somewhere in the arena since, from my only previous experience of Faint Attack, I knew it wasn't a variation on Teleport. Instead, it rendered the Pokemon temporarily invisible and an invisible opponent was extremely difficult to fight. Huh, I thought to myself, two can play that game . . .
I don't know how it happened, but, the next thing I knew, I too had used Faint Attack and become invisible. I could feel myself running towards where some strange sense was telling me the Houndour was, but I couldn't see myself and had to rely on my other senses to direct me. Then, I felt myself collide with something that felt decidedly like a Houndour's flank and we both ended up in a heap on the ground, our Faint Attacks having neutralised each other. Lizzie cheered me from the sidelines.
"Way to go, Eclipseon! Now, try a Psybeam!"
"Houndour, Flamethrower!" Ruth ordered as I focussed my mind and let fly with a wave of Psychic energy. But I was a fraction of a second faster and, before Houndour could open his mouth and send a jet of flames in my direction, I'd hit him in the face with the Psybeam, an Attack I could never have pulled off while I was in my Eevee stage. Houndour screwed up his face for a moment, but did not seem at all fazed by it. Of course, I thought, Psybeam is a Psychic Type Attack so it wouldn't have much effect on a Dark Type.
Lizzie obviously realised this too because she did not ask me to use any more Psychic moves in that battle and concentrated on using moves I'd learned as an Eevee, with a few of the moves an Umbreon can learn mixed in. In the end, I lost that battle when my aim on a Hyperbeam went slightly awry and Houndour took advantage of the fact I needed to catch my breath afterwards to hit me with a Fire Blast. The heat was unendurable; it was as if I'd stepped into a furnace and, although I would have fought back if I hadn't exhausted myself using Hyperbeam, I quickly sank to my knees. But at least it proved one thing - I was not a pure Psychic Type and nor was I a pure Dark Type. Rather, it appeared I had acquired the characteristics of both, making me a Dark/Psychic Pokemon.
I have heard that, when a Pokemon is of two Types, one Type's strengths and weaknesses can negate those of the other - for example, a Quagsire's Ground traits overcome the weakness it would, as a Water Pokemon, otherwise have against Electric Pokemon. In my case, it became clear that having Dark Type traits decreased the disadvantage I would otherwise have had against Dark Pokemon, but, at the same time, my Psychic abilities compensated for the weakness Dark Types have against Fighting Pokemon. Once, I managed to floor a Machoke who had emerged from his Poke Ball confident that he would have the Type advantage in that battle - a swift Confusion soon fuddled his brain . . .
So here I am - Eclipseon, the Eclipse Pokemon, a Dark/Psychic Type. As far as Lizzie and I are aware, I am the only one in existence (after all, how many Eevees achieve a strong enough bond with their trainers during a solar eclipse?), but I think that makes me extra special and Lizzie thinks so too. She's really proud to own such a rare Pokemon; a photo of me taken after I evolved takes pride of place on her dressing table and the frame's decorated with a single word in gold lettering. Of course, I can't read it, but Lizzie has told me what it says: