Thorns On The Roselia

Roselia, that's what they call me. I'm a dainty Grass Type, with roses for hands and leaves for a body. I live here in the park with a whole load of other Grass Pokemon - actually, I believe the correct term is a blossoming of Grass Pokemon. Anyway, just about every Grass Type you could think of lives here. Weepinbells and Victreebels swing from the trees and other Grass Types wander in and out of the plants the humans grow. Hoppips, Skiplooms and Jumpluffs literally drift in from time to time, but they never stay long.

But it was from them that I learned of a type of human called a Pokemon trainer. These humans are often youngsters who travel around and try to catch - yes, you heard me right - try to catch Pokemon. Most trainers aren't too bad from what I've learned and actually try to be friends with their Pokemon. But there are those who only care about defeating the Pokemon belonging to other trainers; to this end, they force their Pokemon to train day and night, not caring about their physical and emotional needs. And, if you don't evolve into something stronger, they send you off somewhere and forget about you.

We all try to stay out of the way if a trainer like that is around. You can spot them a mile off. Snide expression, irritating voice, arrogant posture . . . I could go on all day, but I won't. Instead, I'll tell you about a time I taught one such trainer a lesson.

It was a sunny day and I was relaxing with a Sunflora who was a friend of mine. We had been practicing our Petal Dance, as evidenced by the petals scattered around, and had made ourselves dizzy with all the twirling around. So we sat on the grass, watching the fluffy clouds drifting by and observing a flock of bird Pokemon as they flew past.

"I wonder where they're off to," remarked Sunflora, propping herself up on one of her leaves.

I shrugged and idly blew a Stun Spore at a passing Weedle. "Who knows. Probably a place we can only imagine." Like most of the Pokemon here, I've never left the park, but I have heard about the outside world from other Pokemon. A Yanma once told me that he had seen a place called a "town", where humans have their nests. At night, it's supposed to light up like a Ledian swarm.

"You know?" I said to Sunflora at length. "Those humans must keep a lot of Ledians if they light their nests up like that Yanma said."

"What? Oh, the one that passed through the other week . . ." Sunflora paused for a moment. "Or, they could use this thing called "electricity", like an Electric Pokemon . . ."

At that moment, we were startled by a pair of Nidorans running out of the bushes. There was a male with a pink body and huge ears and a female with a blue-grey body and ears that were slightly smaller than her mate's. Both of them had the same agitated expression on their faces.

"Humans!" squeaked the female, the tiny horn on the end of her nose bristling.

"Humans?!" echoed Sunflora, leaping to her feet. "Where? Where?!" But both Nidorans had disappeared under cover.

Moments later, a shadow was cast over us. I looked up to see a young human, a male, standing over myself and Sunflora. He had untidy brown hair and grey eyes and his clothing (as humans call their coverings) consisted of a black shirt and grey trousers. There was a bag slung over his shoulder; it had a picture of a Poke Ball printed on it, right over where it was fastened. I had heard of Poke Balls, but I'd never seen one before.

There was something about this boy I didn't like; the way he was looking at us made me shiver. Then, he reached into his bag and pulled something out. That something was a small globe which was red on the top and white underneath: a Poke Ball. "Quilava, I choose you!" he called as he threw it.

There was a blaze of light, which faded to reveal a Quilava. He looked at Sunflora and me with a vicious-looking glare, his red eyes glowing with the light of battle as flames suddenly shot out of the top of his head and the base of his spine. He was preparing to fight and I knew that could mean bad news for us; since Grass Pokemon are weak against Fire Types, we try to stay out of the way of wild ones when they're practising their Fire Attacks. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Fire Pokemon. In fact, I once knew a Vulpix and she had a very pleasant nature, never once using her Fire Attacks when I was around. But this Quilava was clearly something else; I could tell from the way he was looking at us.

"OK, Quilava," said the boy. "We already caught a Roselia - not that it's much use - so go for the Sunflora. Smokescreen!"

Quilava opened his mouth and a dense cloud of smoke blasted out, covering Sunflora and myself. I coughed, instinctively wanting to fight back but unable to see where to aim my Attacks. The smoke was thick and choking; it stung my eyes and got into my lungs. Yes, Grass Type Pokemon do have lungs. And, judging by the cries coming from nearby, Sunflora was in much the same position. I felt helpless and that feeling was compounded by what happened moments later.

"Now," the boy said, "try a Flamethrower!"

In response, the Quilava stood on his hind legs and a powerful jet of fire shot out of his mouth. I tried to call out to Sunflora to warn her of the impending danger, but the Smokescreen had got into my throat and all I could manage was a hoarse croak. Seconds later, Sunflora was on the ground, her leaves scorched, and the boy was standing over her with another of those red-and-white Balls in his hand.

"Poke Ball, go!" he called, throwing it towards Sunflora. Seeing the terrified look on her face, I tried to fire a Bullet Seed to knock the Ball off course. But it was too fast. It hit Sunflora, enveloping her in a blaze of red light. Then, she disappeared into the Ball, which then lay shaking on the ground. For a moment, I felt a glimmer of hope; I once met a Zubat who said he'd broken out of a Poke Ball, so maybe Sunflora would do the same.

But it was not to be. The Ball closed with a ping, sealing my friend inside. The boy picked it up and laughed. "Yes!" he declared triumphantly. "I'm well on my way!" And, with that, he recalled the Quilava and ran off, taking Sunflora with him.

Tears filled my eyes as I sat under a lilac bush. Sunflora was gone from my life and that was almost as bad as her being dead. Why had that boy taken her? I knew there were humans who went round catching Pokemon in Balls like the one he had used on Sunflora. But what was it all for? Did it give the humans some sort of power over us Pokemon? If only I could have done more to protect her . . .

A series of memories flashed through my mind, memories of my life with Sunflora. I saw her as a Sunkern, bouncing merrily along the ground and drinking the dew that collected overnight. I remembered us playing together, having mock battles to test out our Attacks; back then, her Attacks mostly involved draining energy from her opponent. And I remembered the day she evolved. We were exploring the undergrowth when we came across a strange orange stone that looked very like a miniature sun. It was, of course, a Sun Stone, but we didn't know that at the time. Sunkern bounced over to have a closer look and, as soon as it touched her, she began to transform, to evolve . . . Soon, she was a beautiful Sunflora.

And now my best friend in the whole park was gone. That boy had taken her away from me and life would never be the same again. I sighed and let a couple of petals drop from my roses, feeling as I did so that joy was gone from my life.

"Hey, old girl!"

I looked up with a start at the sound of the voice to find myself facing a Sentret. He was the leader of a small Sentret colony which lived in a network of burrows and was known throughout the park for his kindness. It was said that he helped baby bird Pokemon that had fallen from their nests to return to their parents, being just as much at home in the trees as on the ground. He made his way over to me and tapped me on the head, carefully avoiding the three sharp thorns; if I'd wanted to (which I didn't) I could have shot poison through any one of them. Instead, I turned to face him and looked into his kindly brown eyes.

"What is it, Roselia?" he asked.

I told him and he puffed himself up, his fur bristling with indignation. "What?! That's the tenth Pokemon that human has taken this week!"

"So, you know him?" I asked, keeping my voice as level as possible.

"Know him?!" echoed Sentret. "He tried to catch me in one of those Balls - luckily, I broke out and used Dig to escape before he could try again. If I could catch hold of him . . ." He left the sentence unfinished, but I could guess whatever he had in mind was bound to be unpleasant for the boy.

"That's all very well," I said at length. "But what about Sunflora? Do you think we can still save her?"

"Depends if that human is still around," replied Sentret. "And there's only one way to find out . . ." He reared up on his tail, cupped his paws round his mouth and gave a piercing call. Seconds later, I heard the beating of wings and a Pidgeotto came flying towards us. Instinctively, I ducked, but I needn't have worried; the Pidgeotto was only talking to Sentret.

"What is it?" he asked, flapping his wings in mid-air.

"I need you to look for a human," replied Sentret. "A young male with black and grey coverings."

"You got it!" Pidgeotto flew off into the distance.

"But stay out of sight!" Sentret called after him. "And report back quickly!"

Presently, Pidgeotto came winging back and reported to Sentret. "There's a human who fits your description near the North Gate."

Sentret nodded approvingly. "Good," he said. "Did you notice any Pokemon with him."

"One, a Lairon - he was trying to get it to use its Attacks on a tree." Pidgeotto smiled (or at least did the best approximation of a smile that a bird can manage) and, in spite of the situation, I felt a pang of amusement at the idea of a Pokemon attacking an inanimate object. Then, my mind snapped back to the situation at hand.

"N - no sign of Sunflora?" I asked anxiously.

"No." Pidgeotto shook his head slowly. "And that worries me. I saw the way he behaved towards that Lairon, how he kept pushing it and pushing it. A human like that . . ."

He got no further before I leapt into the air, my roses twirling menacingly. I might not look like much more than a pretty flower, but I'm pretty gutsy when it comes to a fight. Of course, my fighting experience mostly came from defending my territory against intruders, but anyway . . . "We've got to get Sunflora back!" I shouted. "Pidgeotto, take me to this human - now!"

"And what can one little Roselia do against his Pokemon?" asked Pidgeotto. "I think we should look for reinforcements, don't you, Sentret?"

Sentret nodded. "I'll go round up the troops." And, with that, he scampered off.

I was flabbergasted. Every second we hung around wasted precious time, time we could have spent rescuing Sunflora. "Can't we just go after him already?!" I shouted, on the point of losing it completely. This was not turning out to be one of my better days and I did not want that human to get away with my best friend.

"More haste, less speed, my dear."

I turned round to find myself facing a troop of Treeckos which lived in the oak tree growing at the far end of the park. I knew that tree well; it was one of the most distinctive landmarks around and it had been there for as long as we could remember. Indeed, some said it had been there for as long as four-hundred years, before the humans turned this piece of land into a park. The Treecko troop had lived in its branches ever since it grew large enough to support a number of tree-dwelling Pokemon. They seldom ventured down to the ground - indeed, some of the more boistrous ones among them referred to ground-dwelling Pokemon such as myself as "ground lubbers" - but now they had. All thirty of them stood facing me, standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

It was their leader who had spoken. I could tell who he was because he stood right at the front and he had made himself a crown out of oak leaves. He walked over to me and rested his hand on my shoulder. "Roselia, my dear," he said, "rushing into things won't . . ."

"Won't what?!" I demanded hotly, my leaves bristling with anger. If we didn't hurry, Sunflora would be out of the park and gone from my life.

"Won't solve anything," said Sentret, popping out of a nearby burrow. "But, if we all work together, we might be able to do something . . ." He then went on to explain that he had climbed into the oak tree to try and persuade the Treeckos to help our cause. I glanced round and saw literally dozens of Pokemon heading our way; there were too many species for me to name them all individually, but they included just about every one of those that inhabited the park.

I grinned at Sentret. "Looks like you made good on your promise . . . Well, let's go!"

It was fortunate that our ragtag army of Pokemon quite literally included all shapes and sizes; otherwise, the smaller and slower Pokemon like myself would never have been able to keep up. I was riding on Pidgeotto, clinging on tightly with my roses. If necessary, a Roselia can use the outer petals nearest to its body as thumbs, enabling it to grip things . . . Anyway, I was riding Pidgeotto and it was pretty exhilarating once you got used to not being on solid ground. I could feel the wind against my face and, glancing down to the ground, I could see the other Pokemon, who looked like mere dots from my lofty position. I think I must have been the first Roselia (that I know of) to travel through the air on a Pidgeotto's back.

The only thing which spoiled it for me was the absence of Sunflora. She had admired Flying Pokemon ever since I'd known her and I knew it was her secret wish to go flying herself one day. She told me that, if she could be another Pokemon, she would be a Flying Type (she didn't mind which) and take a long flight over the park to "get a Pidgey's eye view." Now, however, she had been caught by that . . . human. She might never see freedom again. She might never . . .

My thoughts were distracted by the cry of a Treecko down on the ground. "Human alert! Human alert!"

Had they spotted him? I sure hoped so; I meant to do whatever it took to save Sunflora. Glancing down, I could see a makeshift tent pitched against a tree, but I couldn't see who (if anyone) was inside. "Take me down," I told Pidgeotto. "I'm gonna take a closer look."

Pidgeotto landed and I slid off his back. Glancing round at the human's camp, I could see no sign of anyone, human or Pokemon. Next to the tent, I saw a backpack, the same backpack that human had worn; I could even see the Poke Ball design on the flap. But where was the Ball that held Sunflora captive? Inside the pack was my guess, but how was I going to get to it? I climbed up onto the pack, hoping I might be able to do something about the fastening . . .

Just then, I heard a rather snide human voice; the boy was coming back. I ducked out of sight and watched as he approached his campsite, noting as I did so that he seemed to be talking into a small rectangular object held to his ear.

"Yeah, I caught a Sunflora," he was saying. "But I'm not keeping it on my team . . . Well, a Sunflora isn't that strong, is it? And everyone knows strong Pokemon are the key to winning the League."

So, he was one of those trainers who cared only about winning and only wanted strong Pokemon, any others he caught being sent away to goodness knew where. Furious, I darted in front of him. "You let that Sunflora go!" I cried. "She's my friend!" Of course, all this human heard was: "Rose roselia! Roselia!"

He laughed derisively, his hand reaching into his bag. "Aren't you that same Roselia I saw before? Well, my Pokemon could use some target practice . . ." He pulled out two red-and-white Poke Balls. "Ursaring and Crawdaunt! Attack!"

He threw the Balls, which sprang open to reveal a very tough-looking Ursaring and Crawdaunt. The former towered over me and all I could see of him from straight ahead was a furry brown leg with three sharp claws on the foot. I gulped; I'd heard other Pokemon speak of Ursarings and how fierce they could be, but I'd never seen one in the flesh before. And, as for the Crawdaunt, he was clicking his pincers rhythmically as if preparing to attack . . .

"Ursaring! Leer!" the boy commanded. "Crawdaunt, use Vicegrip!"

Hey!" I yelled. "Two against one's not fair!"

Seconds later, Crawdaunt was scurrying towards me with his pincers ready to attack. I thought fast and swiftly countered with a Petal Dance, whirling round on the spot and spraying Crawdaunt with petals. He swore under his breath as he shook them off and I was about to follow through with my Absorb when I suddenly went flying through the air. While I was distracted by Crawdaunt, Ursaring had used a Dynamic Punch. Like I said, two against one was not fair.

Just then, Pidgeotto flew at the Ursaring and slapped him around the head with his wing, using a Wing Attack. Ursaring grunted and tried to swat Pidgeotto away with his powerful paws, but Pidgeotto's only response was to fly up, out of the hulking bear's reach. "You'll not get away that easy!" Ursaring grunted. He opened his mouth and a ball of light started to form. Instinctively, I knew he was about to use Hyper Beam.

"Pidgeotto! Look out!" I yelled as I dodged Crawdaunt's snapping claws. The boy yelled a string of words not usually heard in polite company as Pidgeotto flew out of range of Ursaring's Hyper Beam, turned in mid-air and fired the Hyper Beam right back at him. The powerful ray of light struck Ursaring full in the chest, sending him crashing to the ground.

"Get up, you useless hulk!" yelled the boy, now clearly losing his cool.

Ursaring grunted but made no effort to get up. "Fine then! Ursaring, return!" The boy angrily recalled Ursaring and selected another Poke Ball. "Lairon, take care of these pipsqueaks!"

"Pipsqueaks?!" I thought angrily as the armour-clad Lairon burst out of his Poke Ball. I might only be a Roselia, but I can put up a decent fight if I have to - and that was exactly what I meant to do. "Pidgeotto, you take Crawdaunt!" I said, only realising I was sounding like a human trainer after I'd said it.

But Pidgeotto was flying very unsteadily for some reason; he looked almost as if he was about to crash. "I can't . . . Roselia," he told me. "That . . . last Attack . . . took a lot out of . . . me . . ." He struggled to stabilise himself and landed on the ground. "I forgot," he said, a wry expression on his face. "Hyper Beams are so powerful you can't attack again right after firing one."

So I was on my own again. But one thing puzzled me. How had Pidgeotto pulled off a Hyper Beam in the first place? I'd always been told the Pidgey line couldn't learn that move until they reached their final stage, Pidgeot. Could it have been Mirror Move? Possibly. I'd once heard that some members of the Pidgey line could copy their opponent's last Attack using that move, but I'd never seen it in action before . . .

My thoughts were interrupted by the boy's snide voice directing his Pokemon. "Crawdaunt and Lairon! Flatten that Roselia!"

"Oh no you don't!" I muttered. I quickly decided on a Stun Spore, hoping it would slow the two Pokemon down. I performed a pirouette, shaking a fine yellow powder out of my body and watching with satisfaction as it drifted towards Lairon and Crawdaunt.

"Lairon, use Dig to evade it!" ordered the boy. And Lairon started tearing at the ground with his powerful claws, sending soil flying as he dug a tunnel. I was in serious trouble; a Dig Attack can do a lot of damage if the Pokemon doing it breaks the surface underneath you and the boy still had that Quilava in one of his Poke Balls. If that pesky Fire Type came out, I was toast. Still, at least I'd managed to paralyse the Crawdaunt . . .

"Crawdaunt, return!" The boy pointed a Poke Ball at Crawdaunt, who disappeared in a flash of light. Then he pulled two Poke Balls out at once. "Quilava! Venomoth! Attack!"

"So, Roselia," Quilava said as he flared up his back, "we meet again." The Venomoth, a female like myself, said nothing and flew up into the air. I was in serious trouble; a Lairon was about to tunnel up underneath me and I was faced with a Fire Type and a Bug Types, two of the Pokemon Types we Grass Pokemon have a weakness against. What could I do? Use a Leech Seed? That would sap energy from any Pokemon I used it on, but I could only target one of them.

"What's the matter?" Quilava taunted. "Scared to fight, my pretty flower?!" He opened his mouth and prepared to launch an Ember Attack, the most basic Fire move but still deadly to a Grass Type . . .

I closed my eyes, sure it was all over; even if I could dodge Quilava's flames, I still had Lairon (currently lurking underground somewhere) and Venomoth to deal with. "Sunflora, I failed," I thought, a tear pricking at my eye. Suddenly, I felt myself being lifted off the ground and into the air. I could feel feathers against my body and opened my eyes to find myself . . . riding on Pidgeotto's back! Down below, the Treeckos and the other Pokemon were circling round the boy.

"That was a close one," remarked Pidgeotto. "You almost got singed."

I sighed. "Don't remind me! And can we at least do something about that Venomoth?!" I pointed to where the purple moth was fluttering around as if she owned the whole sky.

"You leave her to me," said Pidgeotto. "And hang on tight!" Seconds later, I knew why he'd told me to hang on. He reared up in mid-air and began flapping his wings at high speed; I could actually feel them beating against me. Soon, he had whipped up a powerful Whirlwind, a twisting spiral of air which shot towards Venomoth and sent her flying before she had chance to counter-attack.

"Too windy for ya?!" I called as she crashed to the ground and the boy called her back into her Poke Ball. The wind Pidgeotto had whipped up was still buffeting me and I was glad I had his feathery body to shield me. I glanced down at the ground, an idea forming in my mind at the sight of all the other Grass Pokemon. "Pidgeotto," I said, "take me down. I have an idea . . ."

"Whatever you've got in mind, make it fast!" Pidgeotto said as he brought me down in front of the other Grass Pokemon.

I briefly explained my plan. "Do any of you know Bullet Seed?" I asked. Several heads nodded, including that of the Treecko leader. "Good - because we're going to use it on that human and his Pokemon!" Seconds later, I was standing among my fellow Grass Types, bracing for the attack. Tense moments passed.

"I don't know what you puny Grass Types are planning, but it won't work," Quilava said levelly. "Your Sunflora friend belongs to my trainer now and there's . . ."

Suddenly, a blur of brown fur rolled towards him and knocked him flying. He got up, winded, and prepared to attack, but the brown blur rolled towards him again before he could do so. This time, the blow was even more telling and he cried out in pain as he flew several feet to land in a bruised heap. I would have felt sorry for him had he not been the Pokemon the boy had set on Sunflora and myself. As it was . . .

"Lairon! Come to the surface!" ordered the boy. And Lairon did, bursting out of the ground in a shower of soil.

I quickly turned to the other Grass Pokemon. "Now!" I cried.

As one, we launched into Bullet Seed, aiming rapid-fire volleys of seeds at the boy and his Pokemon. They yelped in pain and the boy covered his head with his arms in what was clearly an attempt to avoid getting hit. As for his Pokemon, Quilava was pretty beat-up from the earlier attack (Sentret's Rollout, I now realised) and didn't look like he would be battling any time soon. Lairon was part Rock so any seeds that hit him would be doing double the usual amount of damage. Presently, the boy seemed to realise he was beaten. With an anguished yelp, he turned on his heels and sprinted off with his Quilava and Lairon close behind. I was just gathering energy for a Solarbeam when Sentret stopped me.

"No, Roselia," he said. "I think he's learnt his lesson."

Several Pokemon had gathered around a backpack, the boy's; he must have left it behind in his haste to get away. "What shall we do with it?" a Treecko asked.

"Find out if Sunflora is still in there," I said. I turned to Pidgeotto. "Would you do the honours?"

"Gladly," replied Pidgeotto. He picked the bag up in his talons and lifted a couple of feet off the ground before emptying its contents out. An assortment of stuff fell out, most of it meaningless to me. Among other things, the pack contained several small bottles, a thing with a red arrow that always pointed north no matter how many times I turned it around - and four Poke Balls. Sunflora had to be in one of them. But which?

I looked at the Balls. They all looked exactly alike, so I had no way of telling which was the right one. Human trainers seemed to have a knack for finding the right Poke Ball, but, being a wild Roselia. I knew nothing of these things. I thought for a moment, trying to work this problem out systematically. There were four Poke Balls, one of which contained Sunflora, while the others contained either an Ursaring, a Crawdaunt or a Venomoth. I had a one in four chance of getting it right first time. I decided to go for it and pressed the button on one of the Balls. The light flashed and . . .

. . . Sunflora materialised in front of me. She frowned and shook her head. "Phew! That's an experience I never want to repeat!"

"Me either!" I laughed, relieved to have my friend back. "Pidgeotto," I added, "would you take that pack to the park entrance? That human will probably come back for it when he realises it's gone."

"Of course, Roselia."