Chaos And The Chatot

When your family runs a Pokemon Daycare, there is rarely a dull moment.

My mum runs a Daycare facility just outside Hearthome City. You can't miss us; there's a wooden sign by our front gate with the words Pokemon Daycare painted on it, with a Pikachu, an Aipom, a Whismur and a Buneary holding paws below that. We cater for all kinds of Pokemon and we have facilities to suit every Type - a pond for Water Pokemon, a garden for Grass Types . . . and so on. We're not one of those Daycares which double as a Breeding Centre, but, for a small fee, people can leave a Pokemon with us for a few days.

Needless to say, a lot of trainers and co-ordinators pass our way and make use of our facilities. They always chat to me about their latest Badge or Ribbon and what strategy they plan to use in either the Hearthome Gym or the Contest Hall. I've never considered going in for Gym Battles or Contests myself; I prefer to help my mum run the Daycare. I do have a Pokemon (a Roselia) but I only battle her for fun.

Most of the Pokemon we care for don't give us a great deal of trouble, though we did once have a Kecleon which kept using its Color Change ability to blend in with its surroundings so that we couldn't find it. But there was one Pokemon - a Chatot named Charlie - who turned out to be Trouble with a capital T.

"Jane," my mum said as she entered the room, "I'm going into town for a couple of hours and I need you to keep an eye on things here."

I looked up, my Roselia sitting beside me. Ever since she was a little Budew, I haven't kept her in her Poke Ball unless I have to be away from home with her. While I realise Poke Balls can be useful when you're travelling with Pokemon, I prefer to keep Roselia out of hers when we're at home. "Anything you want me to do?" I asked.

Mum paused. "Well, Mrs Carlton-Smythe is coming for her Skitty. And we need a fresh batch of Fire Pokemon food - you know where all the ingredients are kept . . . Now, what else? Oh, and there's a new Pokemon coming in for a couple of days."

"A new Pokemon?" I asked. "What sort?"

"A Chatot. Its owner should be here any moment."

Sure enough, at that precise moment, I heard a car pull up outside, followed by the sound of a car door opening and closing. Then, I heard a loud squawking, followed by a woman's voice sternly saying: "Quiet, Charlie!" A ring on the doorbell followed and mum got up to answer it, revealing a woman in her late twenties with dark hair and deep green eyes, clad in jeans and a burgundy sweatshirt. In her hand, she carried a bird cage, which held a beady-eyed Chatot. "Morning," said the woman with the Chatot. "This is Charlie. I need you to keep an eye on him for a couple of days."

"Of course," Mum replied. "We are a Daycare, after all. But my daughter will have to sign you in - I've got shopping to do. See you later." With that, she picked up her bag and walked out the door.

As I began to take down the details from Charlie's owner, an important task if you want to ensure the right human leaves with the right Pokemon, I heard the phone ringing. Or at least I thought it was the phone, until I picked it up and found there was no-one at the other end. Charlie's owner laughed. "Oh, that's just one of Charlie's little party tricks," she told me. "I'll be going now. And you behave yourself!" she added, looking sternly at the Chatot in the cage. "I don't want to come back and hear you've caused any trouble. OK? What happened at the last Daycare place is not going to happen here. Understand?"

Charlie looked at her as if butter wouldn't melt in his beak.

Once Charlie's owner had gone, I picked up his cage and carried him out to the aviary where we keep the bird Pokemon we have staying with us. This aviary was currently occupied by three Pidgeys, a Staravia and a Natu, all of whom were seated on their perches as I entered with Charlie. Charlie eyed the five of them as I put his cage down on the ground while I unlocked the door, picked up the cage again and entered the aviary, taking care to lock the door behind me. We have to do this when there are bird Pokemon in the aviary to stop them from escaping. But, just as I was about to let Charlie out of his cage . . .

"Piss off, asshole!"

Shocked, I looked down at the still-caged Charlie. I knew a Chatot could be taught to imitate human speech, but where had he picked up such language? His owner didn't seem like the sort who would teach her Chatot to swear. But, swearing or not, Charlie was only going to be staying here for a couple of days and we would just have to be grateful we weren't stuck with him forever. Thankful for small mercies, I reached down and unfastened his cage, opening the door so he could fly out and explore the aviary which would be his temporary home.

The instant Charlie was released, he flew straight at one of the Pidgeys (who was perched on a nearby branch) and delivered a swift Peck Attack to the small brown bird. The Pidgey immediately fought back with a Sand Attack, flapping its wings and sending a cloud of sand into Charlie's face. A fight was starting to brew and I knew I had to separate the two birds as quickly as possible. But how was I going to do that? Charlie's owner had not left a Poke Ball for him and I did not have the one belonging to the Pidgey handy. But I had to try; Charlie had attacked the Pidgey without provocation and that meant he had some sort of issue with other bird Pokemon. I would have to get him back into his cage and take him to the office; that would be his home while he was staying with us.

"Charlie!" I called, holding up a Poffin. We always keep a supply of Poffins handy to help us round up stray Pokemon. "Charlie! Come and get it!" My aim was to lure Charlie back into his cage and close it before he could fly out again. But Charlie had other ideas . . .

Just as I was about to grab him, he flew up out of my reach. Then, perched on the highest perch in the aviary, he looked down at me as if to say: "Ha! Ha! Can't catch me!" What he did say was a string of obscenities that turned the air as blue as his wing feathers, before ending his tirade with a particularly loud raspberry. "Charlie!" I shouted, exasperated. From what his owner had said to him just before she left, I had gathered he could be a little naughty, but I had not expected anything like this.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I still had to get the fresh batch of Fire Pokemon food prepared. And Mrs Carlton-Smythe, one of the richest women in Hearthome City was due to collect her Skitty this afternoon. I could not afford to waste time trying to catch a wayward Chatot. I had no choice but to leave Charlie in the aviary for the time being and hope he would settle down in his own time. So I got ready to leave, giving Charlie a parting warning that he was to stay where he was and not bother the other birds. But, just as I was stepping outside, Charlie flew out after me before I could get the door closed.

"Oh crap!" I cursed under my breath. An escaped Pokemon was the last thing we needed; we're a reputable Daycare and pride ourselves on caring for our Pokemon guests as though they were our own. If Mum found out I'd let Charlie get loose, I might never be trusted to help out around here again. I would have to find him and get him back into his cage before she got back from town - and I still had other tasks to attend to.

Talking of my other tasks, I was suddenly interrupted by the sound of a car drawing up. Investigating, I saw a Rolls Royce with the number plate CS1, the personalised number plate of Mrs Carlton-Smythe. A chauffeur in fancy livery had got out of the car and was opening the back door to let his passenger out of the vehicle.

"Thank you, Jeffreys," said a plummy female voice as a plump middle-aged woman in a purple dress emerged from the car. This was Mrs Carlton-Smythe, who had been in Jubilife City for a few days, visiting her sister. From what I'd heard, this sister didn't like cat Pokemon, which had forced Mrs Carlton-Smythe to leave her Skitty with us, along with her personal supply of gourmet Pokemon food. Anyway, Mrs Carlton-Smythe was back to collect her Skitty and the first thing she said to me was: "Don't just stand there, girl! Go and fetch my Skitty!"

"Yes, of course," I said, hurrying in the direction of the house. I found Mrs Carlton-Smythe's Skitty asleep in the front room, curled up between a Pichu and a Jigglypuff. I hated to disturb the little creature, but . . . In any case, I went to fetch the Skitty's Poke Ball (a black-and-gold Luxury Ball, of course) and called the cute little kitten into it. That done, I headed back outside to hand it over to Mrs Carlton-Smythe, but, just as I was holding out the Ball, a piercing whistle issued from somewhere overhead.

We (Mrs Carlton-Smythe, Jeffreys and I) looked in the direction of the whistle. There was Charlie, perched in the branches of a tree, a mischievious look on his face. I prayed he wasn't going to swear in front of Mrs Carlton-Smythe, but, at that moment . . .

"Fat bitch!"

I cringed, wishing the ground would open up and swallow me. I would have to catch that damn Chatot and get him back in his cage before anyone else heard his "colourful" vocabulary. And Mrs Carlton-Smythe was absolutely apoplectic with rage. As Charlie shouted more insults at her, she snatched her Skitty's Luxury Ball out of my hand and, with a very audible mutter of: "I have never been so insulted in my life!" got back into her car - without paying the fee she owed us for looking after her Skitty.

I glared up at the wayward Chatot perched in the tree. "OK, that is it, Buster!" I told him. "You are going to fly down here right now! And you are going back into your cage and staying there!"

Charlie's only response was to turn his back on me and start waggling his tail in my face. "Bitch! Ass! Dick!" he shouted. He was clearly enjoying himself - at my expense. We had looked after many Pokemon in the time we had been running the Daycare, but I had never come across one so badly behaved before. And, after the way Charlie had sworn in front of Mrs Carlton-Smythe, I knew I had to catch him before he caused another embarrassing scene.

But how was I going to do that? Charlie showed no sign of coming down from that tree voluntarily and, while it was capable of supporting a Chatot's weight, the tree was too thin for a human to climb. There was a ladder in the outhouse, but, by the time I fetched it, Charlie would almost certainly have flown away. And, since his owner had not left a Poke Ball, I did not even have that option. I was stumped and Charlie seemed to know it; he kept up a constant barrage of swear words, punctuated by random whistles and raspberries, all of which made me wonder how his owner managed to put up with him. Or had she grown tired of her Chatot's behaviour and dumped him with us? I hoped not . . .

"Look!" I shouted, as Charlie continued his insolent display. "I've had it up to here with you!" I placed my hand level with my chin. "Now get down here!"

Charlie's only response was to take to the air and fly away, right off our land.

This was all I needed. Never before had a Pokemon that had been left with us escaped; they had all been content to stay within our boundaries until their trainers or owners came to collect them. It would be bad for business if word got out that one of our Pokemon guests had, for want of a better expression, "done a bunk". I would have to find Charlie and bring him back before it was too late and, to do that, I needed help.

I got straight on the phone to my friend, Paula. We've known each other since we were little and we both only own one Pokemon; in Paula's case, her Pokemon is a Glaceon, an elegant Ice Type Eevee Evolution. Like me, Paula only battles her Pokemon for fun, but they work really well as a team. Of course, when they battle against Roselia and me, they have the advantage . . . Anyway, I phoned Paula and explained the situation as briefly as I could; a Chatot Mum and I were supposed to be looking after had escaped and could she keep an eye out in case it came her way?

"How do I know which Chatot to look for?" Paula asked over the phone.

"By its . . ." I cleared my throat. " . . . colourful vocabulary."

"Well, actually, I saw a Chatot in the garden a moment ago. I thought it was a wild one, but then it shouted . . ." Paula paused, clearly too embarrassed to repeat whatever Charlie had shouted at her.

"Go on," I pressed.

"It shouted . . . "Hello, bitch!"." The last two words were barely audible, but there was no doubt what Paula had said. And there was no doubt which Chatot she had seen.

"That's Charlie all right. Did you see where he went?" To be honest, I was briefly tempted to leave Charlie to it, since he seemed so reluctant to let me catch him. But I knew I couldn't do that; Mum and I were responsible for him until his owner came to collect him and I did not relish having to face Mum and tell her that Charlie had escaped. To say nothing of how we were going to break the news to his owner . . .

"I think he was headed in the direction of Amity Square," Paula told me. "I'll head there now and take a look."

"I'll meet you there."

Amity Square is a huge park to the north of Hearthome City and is a popular place for people to take strolls with their Pokemon. I come here sometimes with Roselia and we spend our time walking together (though Roselia actually spends most of the time perched on my shoulder), playing together and practising Roselia's moves. Just because I only battle Roselia for fun doesn't mean I don't recognise the importance of training her . . .

But I digress. I knew I would have to get over to Amity Square as quickly as possible, before Charlie flew off again, caused another embarrassing scene with his swearing, or both. And, with Mum gone, that meant I would have to leave the Pokemon without any human supervision. But there was nothing else for it, so I quickly checked that they were all in their quarters, found Roselia and put her in her Poke Ball and left the house. I ran as fast as I could and soon arrived at Amity Square, finding the place full of people and Pokemon as usual. I quickly spotted Paula, standing with her Glaceon at her side, and waved to her in greeting.

"Any sign?" I asked, as I drew level with her.

"Not yet. But . . ."

"Fat bitch! Poop! Boobs!"

We looked round, trying to see where the shout had come from. It had to be Charlie; there was no mistaking the squawking of a Chatot for a human voice. We had to catch him - and fast. Already, people were muttering about Charlie's "disgraceful" language and mothers were desperately trying to shield their children's ears from the onslaught of swear words. But those same shouted profanities were what enabled us to locate Charlie, who did not let up for a second, and we discovered him perched on the roof of one of the strange ruins that are found in Amity Square. Now, we had to figure out a way of catching him before he flew off again - and I knew from past experience that that was easier said than done where this Pokemon was concerned.

"Why don't we battle him?" Paula suggested when I explained the problem as briefly as I could.

"OK," I said, wondering why I hadn't thought of battling Charlie myself. After all, he was a Pokemon and a battle might tire him out enough for me to catch him and get him back to the Daycare. "You take care of it," I added. "You've got the advantage." I nodded towards Paula's Glaceon; as an Ice Type, she was strong against a Flying Type like Charlie, not that you can always rely on Type match-ups to win a battle. On the other hand, this wasn't going to be the usual sort of battle. The aim was not to catch a wild Pokemon, nor to defeat a Pokemon belonging to a rival trainer, but to round up a wayward Chatot.

"Glaceon!" Paula called. "Jump and Tackle!"

In response, her Glaceon gathered all her energy into her hind legs, then, with a single bound, leapt onto the roof next to Charlie. Next, she charged towards the Chatot, who responded by flying up out of the Glaceon's reach. I groaned - was Charlie going to escape again? And, if he did, would we ever be able to get him back?

But it turned out that Charlie, for once, did not have escape on his mind. Seconds later, he turned and came at the Glaceon with a Fury Attack, delivering a series of rapid-fire pecks to the Ice Pokemon's flank. Paula quickly countered by ordering Glaceon to use Icy Wind; Glaceon jumped out of range of Charlie's beak and began to whip up a blast of cold wind. This was Icy Wind, an Attack which slowed the opponent down and, since Charlie was a Flying Type and weak against Ice Attacks . . .

Anyway, Charlie was quickly knocked back by Glaceon's Icy Wind. He struggled to remain airborne for a few seconds, then straightened himself out and came at Glaceon again. This time, he used a move which only a Chatot can learn - Chatter. From what I'd heard about this move, I knew it allowed a Chatot to use the sound of its voice to Confuse its opponent, which is exactly what Charlie now did. Opening his beak wide, he squawked out a string of random words (I don't think I need to tell you that they were all swear words) which sent Glaceon staggering. Luckily, Paula told Glaceon to "snap out of it" and Glaceon quickly came back at Charlie with a Quick Attack, this time making contact with the Chatot and knocking him back.

But Charlie wasn't finished yet. As soon as he had straightened himself out, he used Chatter again, prompting several passers by to tut at his language. And I couldn't blame them; I was just glad Charlie wasn't my Chatot. I kept Roselia on standby in case Paula and Glaceon couldn't take Charlie down alone, but I hoped I wouldn't need her. After all, Charlie was a Flying Type, strong against a Grass Type like Roselia. Not that I needed to worry about that right now; Paula and Glaceon seemed to be holding their own.

Just then, however, Glaceon slipped while attempting to use Iron Tail; Charlie's Chatter had Confused her to the point where she could not concentrate on what she was supposed to be doing. It was time for me to take over. I pulled out Roselia's Poke Ball and threw it, releasing my pretty Grass Pokemon. "Use Stun Spore!" I called, pointing in the direction of Charlie. Hopefully, battling against Paula's Glaceon had tired him out so it wouldn't be too hard to finish the job. I watched as Roselia sent a cloud of dust into the air, directing it at Charlie; my plan was to Paralyze him so that he wouldn't be able to fly away until he was either healed using a Paralyze Heal or recovered of his own accord. I meant to have him safely back in his cage before either of those things happened, though.

Anyway, Roselia's Stun Spore quickly did its work and Charlie soon crashed to the ground, unable to move. I quickly recalled Roselia and hurried across to pick him up. "All right, you!" I said to him. "Time to get you back to the Daycare. And don't cause any more trouble!"

Mum was still out when I got back. I quickly put Charlie back in his cage, spraying him with a Paralyze Heal through the bars, and got on with the rest of my work, starting with mixing the Fire Pokemon food.

Charlie never escaped again, but he continued to swear like a trooper. When he wasn't shouting obscenities, he would imitate various sounds; his favourite seemed to be the sound of a telephone ringing, which got decidedly annoying after a while because we could never be sure if the phone was really ringing or Charlie was up to his tricks. Needless to say, when Charlie's owner came to collect him a couple of days later, we were very pleased to see her.

"Has he been any trouble?" Charlie's owner asked, as she paid the money she owed us.

"Oh, no," Mum said. "No trouble at all."

"That's a relief. At the last Daycare I left him at, he got out of his cage and trashed the owner's office."

As she walked out the door, carrying Charlie's cage in her hand, I wondered if I should have told her the truth. But, on reflection, I decided it would have been better not to say anything.