Author's Notes: And here we have the actual chapter for this week! I was actually considering slacking off and just putting up chapter four, but I decided to go ahead and do this one, too.
Angst, VulpixTrainer, is defined as "a general feeling of insecurity." In fanfiction, it's typically a storyline where the main character spends an inordinate amount of time feeling sorry for themselves. And usually, as Yellowspottedlizard pointed out, they get abused or beaten or tortured or something, too.
I have actually read only one book by Terry Pratchett before, PyroArts. Wow, you put this on your favorites list? Ironic, because this is my non-serious 'fic and I don't think of it as as good as the others.
Chapter Five: Land of Stereotypically Evil Pokémon (Viridian Forest)
"Well, here we are, guys: Viridian Forest," Jake observed, gesturing widely.
The trainer and his Pokemon were bathed in the shadows cast by the mighty, moss-covered trees that rose up from the ground around them. The ancient giants stretched gnarled branches back and forth over the path, almost completely obscuring the sun. The spongy ground was covered by a generous layer of wet, decaying leaves.
"Duh," Dude responded. "It, like, says that on the sign right there."
Indeed, a wizened, slime-covered sign to one side of the path announced that this was "Viridian Forest" in untidy green letters. Jake hadn't noticed this, as it blended so perfectly with its environment that it was almost perfectly camouflaged.
"Come on, let's not stand around here all day," Seedy urged.
"Why the big rush? I thought that this place would be a natural haven for grass-types," Jake said.
"No, this is a bug habitat here. Not enough sun. And as for the rush, it makes no difference to me, but I suppose that you're awful eager to spend a night in here."
Jake shivered, a sudden vision of himself in his azurill pajamas, huddled desperately in his sleeping bag as slimy, unmentionable creatures slithered about in the darkened forest floating before his eyes. "Good point. Let's go."
They set off, Jake peering eagerly around him as he went. The dark forest floor was nearly devoid of undergrowth, but weedle and caterpie inched undeterred over the loamy earth. These Jake largely ignored, though he occasionally had Seedy or Dude fight one out of boredom. No real trainer would be caught with such a pokémon, which were considered to be the favorites of bug catchers and champion wanna-bes only.
After some time, Jake came upon another trainer heading in the opposite direction. The openness of the forest allowed Jake to see the other boy a long way off. Strutting along the forest path with nary a glance to the left or right, the boy stood out from the drab background of the darkened forest, his flamboyant orange-and purple outfit showing up beautifully against the gloom.
The boy caught sight of Jake as well and called out to him. "Hey, you! Are you a trainer?" he shouted as he continued along the path at his cool, unhurried pace.
"Yeah," Jake replied.
"All right! How about a battle?" the other boy asked, stopping about six feet from Jake.
"Oh, sure," Jake said. Here was the money-making opportunity he had been waiting for. Seedy, you're up."
"One on one all right with you?" the other boy asked, removing a pokéball from the wide studded belt strapped diagonally across his orange-suited chest.
"Yeah," Jake replied. The other boy nodded and threw out his pokéball. It burst open to release an apelike pokémon.
Jake reached for his pokédex, hoping that it was behaving better after its tune-up. Aiming it at the pokémon, he waited with bated breath as the analysis light on its top flashed. At last it purred, "Target is mankey, the pig monkey pokémon. This pokémon lives in large colonies. Such groups generally spend most of their time in trees, descending only to hunt."
Jake smiled and returned the pokédex to his belt. It certainly seemed to be working properly. "Okay, Seedy, let's start things off with leech seed." Seedy had mastered the technique early yesterday afternoon and Jake was eager to show it off.
The bulb on Seedy's back shot a cloud of greenish spores into the air, the attack drifting straight at the mankey's hairy body. He tried to dodge out of the way, but wasn't quick enough and the spores took hold in his creamy fur, sending filmy roots down into his skin to sap his energy. He cursed and scratched at them with his paws but to no avail.
"Come on Mankey, hit back with cross chop!" the opposing trainer yelled enthusiastically.
"You know cross chop?" Seedy grunted, steeling herself for a quick leap out of the way. The fighting maneuver was very powerful but inaccurate.
"Well, err, no," Mankey replied. "But my trainer thinks I know it and I'm trying to humor him. Pretend to be hurt, okay?"
"Huh?" Seedy asked in disbelief. The Mankey lunged at her, crossing his skinny forelimbs in front of his face and executing an awkward simultaneous chop with both hands. Both strikes whistled through the air to either side of Seedy, who was staring at the Mankey in disbelief. He overbalanced and teetered dramatically on one foot before finally righting himself and glaring at Seedy.
"I said, pretend to be hurt!" he hissed as ferociously as possible, shooting a nervous glance back at his trainer, who was apparently under the impression that the attack had been successful and was cheering his pokémon on.
"Oh…um….O! I am smitten!" Seedy reeled away, shaking her green head madly as though trying to throw off a daze. "What's with the weird masquerade thing?" she whispered under her breath.
Jake was trying his hardest not to laugh as the fight continued. The other boy was calling out powerful attacks that Mankey, at his low level, hadn't mastered, blissfully unaware that his pokémon had no idea how to do them. Seedy played along, though she was sure to carry out Jake's battle commands as well. The two pokémon continued to converse as they sparred.
Meanwhile, Dude's mind was on something other than the fight. His nose twitched and he glanced around with interest. "Dude, what's that sweet smell?" he wondered aloud. Sniffing the air, Dude allowed his nose to lead him away from the fight, off the path, and deeper into the woods. Jake, who was engrossed in the battle, such as it was, didn't notice his absence.
Mankey was a sorry sight, bright green shoots sprouting incongruously from his unruly white fur, though he continued to fight on wearily as their energy-sapping effect which relentlessly to drain his health. Though tired from the leech seed and Seedy's repeated attacks, he continued to chat good-naturedly. "I don't know where he got his delusions of grandeur from," he told Seedy. "I knew he was trouble when he was trying to capture me. He was telling his cyndaquil to use flamethrower against me. The poor boy doesn't even know how to ember, much less torch me. I tried to get away, but I was already hurt from a nasty encounter with a Spearow and he ended up catching me."
"Ah, he's one of those, then," Seedy said, rolling out of the way of an awkward "iron tail." "Watches too much TV and thinks that pokémon can use any of their attacks whenever. Disgraceful. They shouldn't be allowed licenses." She pulled out of her roll and rammed into his leg, sending him sprawling.
"Yeah…well…it…could be worse," Mankey panted, getting shakily to his feet once more. He was near collapse, wheezing audibly through his piglike snout.
"Of course. You could have gotten one of those idiots who try to make their pokémon use a move that they couldn't even learn. 'Come on, Treecko! Razor leaf! Razor leaf, I say!' It's horrible." She tackled Mankey once more. This time, he fell and didn't get up.
"I'm done for," he announced, lying prone in the wet leaves. "Nice talking to you. Good battle."
"Good battle," Seedy agreed as Mankey dissolved into crimson energy and returned to his pokéball.
"Well, you beat me," the other boy announced. "Oh, I didn't get a chance to properly introduce myself before, did I? I'm Eric."
"Jake," Jake replied. "Cool Mankey. Where'd you get it?"
"Oh, just a bit west of Viridian, you know. I was there a little earlier, but then I decided to head to Pewter."
"And you're coming back already?" Jake asked, surprised.
"Yeah, well, Brock is harder than he looks, okay?" Eric replied testily. He reached into one of the pockets of his neon-orange pants and withdrew a wallet. As he was counting out money, he asked, "So, you just started your Pokémon Journey recently, too?"
"Well, I started my pokémon journey, yeah," Jake said.
"What? You're just going on a 'pokémon journey?' That's so two years ago."
"My Journey is cooler than yours," Eric announced, handing Jake half of his money. "It's capitalized for no reason. And I'm a Trainer, too."
"Oh, uh, cool. Yeah, that's my real aspiration. I'm only a trainer now, but someday I hope to be a great randomly capitalized Trainer like you," Jake told Eric as he took the money and added it to his wallet.
Eric missed the sarcasm. "Keep working. Maybe someday you'll become a great like me. Catch you around." He sauntered off through the trees once more, a bright swatch of color against a dark, foreboding background.
Seedy watched him go with a sigh. "I wonder if he actually paid good money for that getup. Maybe he's colorblind."
"No, he's just 'cool.'Or thinks he is."
"Mmm," Seedy agreed.
"Well, let's keep moving. There's gotta be a Pikachu around here somewhere. Come on Dude."
Dude did not respond.
"Dude? Dude, where are you?" Jake called, beginning to worry. The Rattata had never strayed very far before now. Where had he gone off to?
"Dude, chill, man," came a voice from somewhere nearby. "I'm comin'." Dude emerged from behind the twisted trunk of a half-dead tree, something golden smeared across his white whiskers. "Dude, come with me, there's this totally awesome sweet stuff over there," he said, gesturing with his curled tail.
"Sweet stuff?" Jake asked suspiciously. He bent down to inspect the Rattata's innocent face. "Where did you get this sweet stuff?" he asked, kneeling down and reaching out to brush a small bit off of Dude's whiskers."
"This big yellow thing," Dude replied helpfully. Jake tentatively inspected the golden goo on his finger carefully. It wasn't…it couldn't be…
"This is honey!" he shrieked, trying wildly to wipe his finger off on a nearby tree trunk. All that he succeeded in doing was coating his finger with dirt, but he didn't notice as he grabbed Seedy around her middle and straightened up quickly.
"Hey!" Seedy cried.
"Come on! Run, Dude! Beedrill attack!" Jake yelled wildly. He stumbled off, ignoring the path as he dodged trees in his panicked flight. He thought he heard Dude yelling something to him from behind, but he didn't stop to listen. He at last tripped over a partially exposed tree root and went down, Seedy flying out of his arms to land somewhere nearby. He drew himself into a ball, trembling and waiting for the terrible drone of wings, the sharp pain of huge, poisonous stingers burying themselves in his body…
"What was that for?" Seedy asked irritably, trundling back over to him.He refused to uncurl, still waiting for the end. It was too late to run…
"Oh, quit acting like a big baby," Seedy said exasperatedly, butting him gently with he head. "Nothing's coming to kill you."
"Didn't you hear?" Jake asked. "Dude stole honey from a beedrill hive! They'd never let that go unpunished!"
"Dude, like, the bee-things don't care," Dude announced, finally catching up to his trainer and Seedy, having been following Jake's frantic flight at a sedate and rational walk. "Seriously, dude, you've gotta come and get some of that honey stuff for yourself. It rocks, dude."
"Beedrill don't care?" Jake asked, sitting up sheepishly. "But that's impossible. Beedrill are incredibly vicious and will attack anything that comes into their territory, much less anything that waltzes up and grabs some honey from their hive."
"Come on, man, I'll show ya," Dude said. Jake got up and followed the Rattata dazedly, Seedy trotting in the rear. Dude led the trio back across the path and off into the forest on the other side. Sure enough, as they rounded one particularly large tree, Jake caught sight of the beedrill hive.
The massive conical structure hung near the center of the clearing, and Jake gaped at its size. A massive hole in the bottom of the beedrill hive allowed the pokémon to come and go as they pleased. The trees around the hive were teeming with industriously munching weedle. Motionless kakuna hung from the tree branches all about the clearing, appearing to be grotesque, intelligent fruit. But most stunning of all were the beedrill themselves.
Lounging idly around below the hives, the beedrill were not rigorously patrolling the area, seeking out trainers or pokémon to chase away. A few buzzed up into or down from the hive itself, but they moved slowly and calmly, not in the frenzied rage that Jake had so often heard described.
"Come on, dude," Dude implored, bounding out into the clearing surrounding the hive eagerly, ignoring Jake's frantic sign that language asked him to sit still and be quiet.
The beedrill turned their heads to track the rattata's progress, emotionless compound eyes reflecting him in every facet. Jake held his breath, waiting in dread for the vicious pokémon to fall upon Dude, tearing at him with their wicked stingers.
"Yo dudes, I'm back," Dude announced, plopping down in the center of the clearing, directly below the hole in the bottom of the hive.
"Welcome back, Dude," said one Beedrill. She appeared to be the queen, reclining against a tree trunk on the opposite side of the open area. Unlike domesticated bee queens, beedrill queens were not accustomed to being waited upon by their male cohorts. The most powerful bees in the hive, they were the deadliest fighters of them all. Jake shivered as the queen raised the harpoon-like stinger on her right forelimb, though it was only to wave to Dude.
The queen's antennae twitched, and she turned to look around Dude, straight at Jake. "Tell your trainer that he can come out of hiding. If we wished him harm, he would already be running for his life."
Dude turned around, apparently ready to do so, but Jake was already walking slowly around the tree and into plain view. The other beedrill turned their attention to him, and he blanched as their cold eyes trapped him in their gaze.
"Greetings, trainer," the queen hummed. "What brings you here to our hive?"
"Umm, Dude said that he got honey here," Jake replied.
"Ah, yes," the queen said with a nod. "Would you like some as well?"
"Err, yeah," Jake responded uncertainly.
"Me too," Seedy demanded.
"Get these two some honey," the queen commanded, buzzing her wings threateningly. Two other beedrill hopped to it, rising up from the ground and disappearing into their hive. They returned quickly, approaching Jake and Seedy.
Jake felt his terror return to him as the beedrill approached. The droning of their wings and the glinting of a stray ray of light on their abdominal stingers caused his fear to return. The lead beedrill raised a forestinger to run him through…
…and there was an oozing piece of honeycomb impaled on it. The Beedrill held the stinger out to him, and Jake carefully removed the gooey honeycomb from it. He held the sticky treat up in front of his face in disbelief as the Beedrill turned and buzzed back to where he had previously been reclining on the forest floor. Seedy accepted her piece of honeycomb as well, biting into it with relish. A dribble of honey oozed down Jake's hand. He licked it off absent-mindedly, then asked the queen, "Why are you all just sitting around here instead of patrolling the forest like you're supposed to?"
"We're on strike," the queen explained. "It gets a little tiring, you know, being the evil pokémon of the forest. My hive has refused to return to work until the author agrees to provide us with decent motivations and compensation for the amount of work time that we lose chasing idiots out of our forest."
"Nobody thinks that beedrill are evil," Jake said without thinking.
"Oh, come on," the queen buzzed in annoyance. "What's always the pokémon that chases a trainer out of the forest? What pokémon shows up when the author needs a convenient excuse for their character to run like hell and get lost? What pokémon swarms in to disrupt an otherwise sedate, innocent stroll through the local forest?"
"Err, I guess you have a point," Jake admitted.
"Of course I have a point!" the queen snarled. She took her anger out on the tree next to her, slamming her left stinger viciously into its trunk. It drove nearly six inches into the unfortunate plant, sap oozing freely from the deep puncture wound. Seedy, who had finished her honeycomb and was listening in on the conversation, winced in sympathy with the tree's pain. The queen withdrew her stinger and wiped it on the carpet of dead leaves next to her. When she spoke next, she seemed to have regained control. "All we ask is that there's someone else to share the burden. Why can't the main character be pursued by a rampaging sneasel for once? Or maybe a pidgeotto? Or even just a particularly irate butterfree?"
A resounding hum of "Hear, hear!" resounded from the surrounding beedrill at this statement.
"Well, why not get the spearow to do it for you?" Jake suggested.
"No, no, no, you're missing the point," the queen said, waving a forestinger dismissively. "The spearow have their wings full terrorizing the plains, as I'm sure you well know. And the gyrados are booked solid for the oceans. It's too much for a species to handle, I tell you. The stereotype's a bit much to bear."
Jake munched on his honeycomb absently, listening with interest to the beedrill's explanation. Come to think of it, he hadn't been attacked by any "evil" pokémon yet. He rolled his eyes heavenward questioningly, then shrugged and returned to his treat.
"In fact, all of those species are on strike, too," the queen continued. "I don't suppose that you were attacked by a spearow flock on your way here?" Jake shook his head. "Case in point. They were scheduled for chapter two, but they were obviously a no-show. They're tired of being considered evil, too."
"I can understand that," Jake said. "Listen, I hope that your strike goes well and all, but I sort of have to be going now. I need to catch a pikachu and be out of here by nightfall so I can earn my first badge tomorrow."
"Oh, after a pikachu, are you?" the queen asked, her antennae twitching thoughtfully. "Are you really sure that you want one? I wouldn't recommend catching one, myself."
"Of course I'm sure. I need a pikachu to establish myself as one of the great cliché trainers. It's absolutely necessary to advance the plot."
"Well, it's your sanity," the queen observed. "Try the west corner of the forest. Mind you keep an eye on the trees, they like to scamper up there to avoid detection. Most of the dunces after them are too thick to look up."
"Thanks. Bye then," Jake said politely. "Come on, Dude."
"Sure thing, man," Dude replied, bounding over to Jake. "See ya, bee-things."
"Farewell, Dude," the hive chorused. Jake and his two pokémon departed.
Half an hour later, Seedy was beginning to have second thoughts about catching a pikachu. "Listen, are you really sure that this is such a good idea? I mean, the queen even recommended that you not catch a pikachu. Sounds to me like it could be more trouble than it's worth."
"Quiet, you'll scare away all of the electric rodents," Jake hissed back, peering anxiously up into the tree branches. The gnarled boughs were as bare as ever, much to his disappointment. Dude had returned to his pokéball for a nap, and Seedy's cynicism was beginning to grate on his nerves. He tried to tune her voice out as he scanned the trees.
A small yellow head popped around the base of an ancient, gnarled trunk. Seedy, being more or less at its level, noticed immediately. Jake continued to stare determinedly up into the trees. The pikachu's black-tipped ears twitched once uncertainly before it scampered out from behind the tree, stopping conveniently right in the middle of the path. Jake slowly approached, still craning his neck upward.
Seedy made vehement gestures to try to indicate to the pikachu that it should get away as quickly as possible; certainly it didn't want to get stuck with a trainer like Jake.
The pikachu observed the bulbasaur's violent jabbing motions and contorted facial expressions with mild interest. It cocked its head slightly as Seedy practically rammed right into one of Jake's legs during her "running" performance. It then lost interest and, settling down on its haunches, scratched itself behind the ear with one of its hind feet.
Seedy, seeing that her window of opportunity was closing as Jake drew nearer the rodent and that the pikachu wasn't getting anything out of her performance at all, tried very discreetly to convey her message verbally. "Listen," she hissed whilst nervously glancing up at Jake, "you've gotta get outta here fast. You don't want to join up with us, trust me. Go find yourself champion material somewhere else."
The pikachu ceased scratching and perked up its ears. It blinked twice and rose back onto it hind legs."
"Did you say something, Seedy?" Jake asked absently, not really wanting to hear it, even if she had.
"No, your eminence," Seedy replied. To the pikachu, she added, "Go on, move it! He may not be smart, but even he can't possibly miss you for more than a couple more seconds!"
The pikachu smiled vacuously back.
"Are you braindead?" Seedy snarled in an undertone.
"Pika," the pikachu announced, goofy smile still in place. Jake, registering the call of his quarry, tore his eyes out of the canopy and back down to ground level. "A pikachu! Finally! Go, Seedy!"
"Oh, sure, a pikachu 'finally,'" Seedy groused as she reluctantly stepped forward to do battle. The pikachu must be playing dumb for some reason; she couldn't imagine a rodent so stupid actually managing to survive in the wild.
The battle was intense but brief, the pikachu sending a few minor fizzles Seedy's way, though they did little damage against the grass-type. Her leech seed finally took its toll upon the yellow pokémon. It collapsed wearily on the path, still managing to look desperately cute as it did so. Jake grinned widely and grabbed one of the empty pokéballs from his belt.
He pitched it at the electric mouse perhaps a little more exuberantly than he should have. The pikachu yelped as the hurled object struck it full in the face, though the cry was cut short as it was caught within the pokéball's energy beam. The device snapped shut as the last trace of red energy disappeared inside, thudding back down onto the forest floor.
The ball shivered angrily, but Jake had already begun his victory dance. His revelry was cut short, however, when the ball gave a particularly violent hop-jerk and leapt into the air, belching a cloud of white light back onto the path. The spent ball dropped again and the pikachu kicked it away angrily.
The rodent was a changed creature; electric sparks radiated from its pink cheeks and its eyes were narrowed in a determined and decidedly un-adorable fashion. It crouched in a ready stance on the spongy carpet of leaves, apparently raring to battle despite its numerous wounds.
Seedy, who had also been congratulating herself on another victory, was startled. "Well, looks like the little guy has a bit of fight in him after all," she chuckled.
"Hey!" Jake cried indignantly. "That's not fair! I'm the protagonist! You're not supposed to break free, you're supposed to put up a great fight but then succumb to capture."
The pikachu had apparently remembered this unwritten rule as well. It gulped visibly before slumping down on the path once more, utterly deflated. Grumbling irritably, Jake reached for another ball and pitched it, more gently this time, at the cowed pokémon.
The pokéball gave a few half-hearted twitches, finally snapping completely shut with a hollow clunk. "All right!" Jake said. "I finally got a pikachu!"
"Gee, and after all that work," Seedy said. "They may be one of the rarest and most sought-after critters in all of Kanto, but of course one walks right up to you and practically begs to be captured…"
"Oh, shut up, would you?" Jake sighed. "You're ruining my second capture experience."
"Get used to it, kid," Seedy growled. "You're stuck with me until I become pilfered by Team Rocket or disappear due to some equally convenient plot device."
"Have you been reading ahead in the script?" Jake asked, surprised.
"Maybe. Maybe not. With a plot this cookie-cutter, you ought to be able to figure it out on your own. Go on, pick up your pikachu and let's keep going. It's almost lunchtime, you know."
Jake spared Seedy another quizzical look before bending down to retrieve the pokéball now occupied by his pikachu. Seedy retrieved the useless pokéball from where it had come to rest against the trunk of a tree apparently felled by lighting and returned it to Jake, who threw it into his pack to try and find and recycle at the next center that they came to.
The journey through the forest was after this point uneventful, as Jake was focused solely on getting out and not at all interested in tantalizing detours or local fauna. Eventually the trees began to thin out, and Jake at last stepped onto the tame second half of Route 2. Ahead, a gray haze seemed to lie over the landscape. Seedy could guess that a steady, dispiriting drizzle was probably falling from the melancholy clouds that huddled despondently just ahead, clearly resentful of the rest of the cheerily blue sky, and sighed resignedly.
"Look, Seedy," Jake said excitedly. "Pewter City's just a little ways ahead!"