Day Care

The phrase 'Day Care' was exceptionally misleading, in Ivysaur's opinion. It suggested they were only going to be there during the day and at night their teenage trainer Andy, would take them home. That didn't happen. 'Care' implied a nurse or carer attending to their every need but where was the glass of Moomoo Milk she had ordered over an hour ago? There was no care going on in this place.

Needless to say, Ivysaur wasn't enjoying her time in Day Care. She sat in the corner of the brightly coloured play area and sulked while her teammates socialised with other Pokémon and in Happy's case, flew around the room wildly. He was an energetic young Swablu whose impulsive manner regularly grated on Ivysaur's nerves. She glared at him enthusiastically, though he didn't notice. The room was so full of noise it was impossible to notice small things like that. Pokémon were laughing, trading interesting anecdotes and flirting so that the room was alive with commotion.

Ivysaur cast a sour look at the girl who was supposed to be manning the station while her parents were away for the week on a second honeymoon. Joan was a teenage girl with bushy coffee coloured hair and wore large vintage glasses on her pimpled face. She was leaning over the counter, talking on the phone to her boyfriend in the next town and playing idly with the star-shaped golden pendant she constantly wore around her neck.

Joan felt Ivysaur's eyes on her, looked up and winked at her before turning her back on the Pokémon to continue her conversation. Put-out, Ivysaur took solace in that Andy would be back in a week's time to rescue them from this hell-hole. Why he had to go to a summer camp that had no facilities for extra Pokémon, Ivysaur didn't know.

After a while, a Sandshrew named Terra sidled up to Ivysaur and asked why she didn't want to join in the fun. Ivysaur shot her a withering look. Ivysaur had known Terra ever since she had been captured by Andy five years ago but they had been separated for almost two years as Terra and Andy's other Pokémon had been stolen by an evil organisation. At the mercy of the criminals, Terra and the others had been tortured and tested on. The goons carrying out the experiments hadn't been particularly gentle and killed many Pokémon – Andy's Krabby and Rattata were just two of hundreds who didn't make it out alive.

Luckily, a bandit couple changed sides and returned Terra and Andy's Psyduck to him not long ago. Sensing a rift had been created in the bond he shared with his Pokémon, Andy thought giving them nicknames would help close it a little. That was how Terra had earned her name and Psyduck his: Arius. Andy had also offered to give Ivysaur a nickname but she refused to answer to anything other than Ivysaur. She thought nicknames were beneath her, especially as Andy seemed only capable of coming up with names that were slick with cuteness like Heather and Blossom.

Rolling her eyes good-naturedly, Terra backed off and immersed herself in a conversation with a Geodude called Graziella. Across the room, Ivysaur spotted Arius who was clutching his large yellow head as usual while a Vulpix chatted to him excitedly. For a moment, Ivysaur and Arius's eyes met and he smiled at her warily. Ivysaur looked away, back at Joan who was now talking to two adults in crisp navy suits. Curious, Ivysaur began to eavesdrop on their conversation.

"...unique markings. Belonged to your grandmother, you say?" one of them was saying. She was a short, portly woman with fair hair gathered into a tight bun. She was holding the pendant in one hand, examining it almost hungrily. It shone in the artificial lighting of the room, the blue chain it hung on paling in comparison. The portly woman's companion, a frail-looking man with thinning hair and a thick moustache, leaned in closer to hear Joan's reply.

"Y-es. She left it to me when she passed away. I remember her telling me she found it as a little girl, when the Millennium Comet went over her town. Actually," Joan broke off to give a small laugh, "she said it had fallen from the comet itself." The suited couple exchanged excited glances.

"Tell us, are you familiar with Jirachi?" the moustached man asked eagerly. Joan shrugged. The woman was still gazing at the pendant as if it was the most amazing thing she had seen in her life.

"Just what my grandma used to tell me. Jirachi grants wishes, right? And only appears every million years or something..." Joan was quickly losing interest in the conversation. These people had interrupted her phone call with her boyfriend and she was itching to call him back so she could hear his voice again. This long-distance relationship was taking its toll on her.

"Thousand years," the moustached man corrected her, "every thousand years." Joan muttered 'whatever'.

"This necklace could be a direct gift from Jirachi itself! It must be worth a fortune," the portly woman said, tearing up with the excitement of being so close to such a precious object. Ivysaur noticed a second woman listening to the conversation who did not look like she was with the navy suited adults. She was slender, in her late twenties with long toned legs. Her platinum blonde hair was cut in a pixie style and she had a piercing in her left eyebrow which gave her a slight edgy look. The mole on her left cheek stood out from her face – it was impossible not to notice it. Her azure eyes lit up at the mention of 'fortune'.

"A fortune?" repeated Joan. She looked impressed. "I just thought it was a little trinket of Gran's..."

"Well this 'trinket' must be stored in the proper facilities," started up the moustached man.

"We'll be happy to take it off your hands and make it available for viewing in our museum," the portly woman added. Joan appeared to be horrified at the thought.

"I couldn't! It was Gran's; she gave it to me. I couldn't give it away, even to a museum. Sorry." At this, the edgy woman left the building but the museum representatives continued trying to convince Joan to give them her necklace. Eventually they had to accept she wasn't going to give it up for anything – it meant too much to her. They left, disheartened and miserable. It made Ivysaur chuckle to see them so upset.

Much later when all the Pokémon had simmered down to sleep, Ivysaur was awakened by a noise. Her violet eyes surveyed the darkened room, trying to make out what it was. She heard another one that sounded like a footstep creaking on a floorboard. Ivysaur scrambled on to all four legs, fully awake and intensely alert. Next to her, Arius and Terra stirred.

"Wha..?" mumbled Arius loudly.

"Shh!" a voice said sharply. Ivysaur looked around and was surprised to see the Vulpix Arius had been talking to earlier. Because she didn't mix with the other Pokémon, Ivysaur didn't know who the Vulpix was but was grateful she had been able to quieten Arius.

The Vulpix created the smallest of flames in her mouth and the room was lit up by the tiny dancing flames. Shadows of the sleeping Pokémon's forms flittered on the walls and ceiling, the angles changing as the Vulpix walked towards the sound. Ivysaur followed cautiously, her heart hammering against her chest from the tension of the situation. She was both thrilled and scared. Not wanting to be left behind, Arius and Terra trailed after Ivysaur in a lazy way as if they were both still half asleep. Shaking her head at them, Ivysaur crept behind Vulpix closely, watching out for any sign of danger. She got her vines out, readying them to strike at a moment's notice.

The four of them found themselves standing in front of the front desk, clear of anything aside from a cash register and rota sheet. Joan had long since retired to her bedroom upstairs, leaving the Pokémon alone downstairs. Ivysaur shivered suddenly as a gust of wind breezed past her. Was a window open somewhere?

The rapid fluttering of wings was the only warning they got to announce Happy's decent from his overhead perch. He opened his beak to ask what was going on when a shriek from upstairs caused them all to jump.

"Stop, thief!" It was Joan. There was a thud followed by a tumble, a dark figure sprinted downstairs and ended right in front of the five Pokémon. They were wearing an all black cat suit with a ninja-like mask covering her face but even so it was easy to tell they were a woman. Joan's special necklace was clutched in her hands tightly.

In a flash, the Vulpix was after her and the woman fled. She dived expertly through the narrow opening in the nearest window (so someone had opened one) and the Vulpix gave chase, jumping out the window with no hesitation. Without thinking Ivysaur did the same; Terra and Arius quickly followed suit and Happy flew after them all, not wanting to be left out. The hunt had begun.