A little blue snout poked its way out of the eggshell, followed by a little blue head with big red slit-pupil eyes. The mouth opened wide, revealing a mouth already full of sharp teeth.

It tried to crawl out the top of the egg, and then toppled over, breaking the rest of the shell. The infant Pokémon was a little crocodilian creature with bright blue scales and tiny, flimsy looking orange spines growing out of its back. It looked imploringly up at Dust with wide, hopeful looking eyes.

Dust looked back.

It continued looking at him. Its head cocked to the side.

Dust broke the silence. "What?"

The baby let out a sort of mix between a coo and a hiss. It was cute, albeit in a reptilian sort of way.

Remembering what the Eggmaster had told him, Dust fumbled for the two pokeballs on the floor and picked one up. He aimed it at the little Pokémon and prepared to throw.

His arm hung in the air for a while. The hatchling opened its jaws and looked at the ball, as if hoping it would be edible.

Dust put his arm down. Everyone he had ever talked to told that the way to bond with your hatchling was to throw a ball at it. It just didn't seem right to throw something at an infant, scales or no.

He brought the ball down in front of the Pokémon's face. "Do you want me to put you inside this?"

The baby stared at the ball for a long moment, and then closed its jaws around it. That got a laugh out of Dust. "You really are a funny little brat, you know that?" he said.

He pulled the ball of his Pokémon's mouth. It continued to stare at him. Dust wasn't sure if reptiles could smile, but this one sure looked like it was trying to.

He softly pressed the pokeball to the Pokémon's forehead until he heard its button click. The ball opened and the Pokémon vanished. The little circle around the button flashed red three times and then turned bright blue.

Then something entirely unexpected happened. Dust's fingers involuntarily clamped down hard on the ball. The metal seemed to heat up and lose its hardness. Dust grabbed at his fingers with his other hand and futilely tried to pry them loose. The pokeball was getting hotter and hotter, Dust was starting to panic. A sudden surge of heat blasted through his arm and into his brain. Dust fell to the ground, his mind on fire. Sensations that he wouldn't be able to put words to later entered his head.

Ripping through the thick leather. Body covered in fluid. Taste and feel of a metal sphere in his mouth. A bright light, followed by darkness.

Images of more of the little crocodiles filled his inner vision, basking in the sun, hunting fish, swimming in the cool river water.

Three words came to the front of his mind.

Crocodylus Liberis. Totodile.

And then it was over. The pokeball fell out of Dust's hand. He felt like he was going to vomit, his body convulsed as he gagged at nothing.

So that was bonding. Nobody had ever told him it would anything even close to that.

Breathing heavily, Dust finally got his bearings back. The pokeball lay innocently on the ground, its central circle still glowing blue. He reached for it tentatively, and after a moment's hesitation, grabbed it.

No barrage of mental images came, no bodily convulsions, no words he had never heard of before; the ball wasn't even warm. He tossed it to the ground, and the baby Pokémon came out. It still had the same dopey look on its reptilian face as before, looking around the room as if it expected the walls to start talking.

Totodile. Was that its name? He sure hoped he wouldn't have to be calling it Crocodylus Liberis.

"Totodile. Is that what you are?" Its head turned around and stared right into his eyes. There was a look of comprehension that Dust hadn't seen there before.

Dust decided to experiment. "Totodile, open your mouth." The jaw slowly widened. "Close it." The jaw snapped shut. "Can you understand what I'm saying?" Blank stare. "Jump." Blank stare.

Why wasn't it doing what he said now? "Open your mouth." It continued to look at him funny.

A sudden idea struck Dust. "Totodile, open your mouth." Once again, the mouth opened wide.

So it only responded to its name then? His father's Manectric didn't need you to address it directly to understand what you were saying. Then again, his father's Manectric wasn't an infant. Maybe comprehension would come with time.

"Totodile, jump in the air." Dust said.

Totodile tried to leap as high as it could, but succeeded in only falling on its own face. Definitely still an infant. Dust couldn't imagine battling with this thing.

"Well, you might be worthless right now," Dust said, "but with those teeth, I think you'll be big and strong some day."

He sat back in the pile of straw that was his bed. "Time to sleep now, though. You've got the first day of your life coming up tomorrow. You don't want to be tired when it comes."

Dust lay back on the straw and closed his eyes.

Totodile watched his master for a moment, waiting for him to get up and play with it some more. Then, it crawled into the straw and curled next to Dust, and they fell asleep together.