Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon or have any rights to it
Viridian Forest seemed like an odd place for a stroll, especially for the two humans with no pokémon to protect them. However, Vander and Molly had traversed the woods several times. They were not easily lost and had always found their way.
Molly led the way, scanning the flora with well-honed crimson eyes. She was built for these woods with toned arms and legs shown off by her sleeveless shirt and tight jeans. Her brown hair was kept in a single braid down her back. The utility belt looped through her jeans came equipped with all she needed.
Despite similarities, Vander was not her son. Sure he had the same eyes and a similar farmer's tan. His hair was pitch black and cut around his ears and forehead. Unlike his mentor, Vander looked more adept at following her lead than making his own observations. He even dressed like her, though he favored a short-sleeve shirt to a sleeveless.
"Look Vander." Molly pointed to a patch of purple flowers growing near the base of a tree. "Those plants with purple flowers make a great tea."
Vander approached the patch and grabbed a plant at the base of the stem. He pulled the plant up, roots and all, in one swift motion. "So that tap root can be eaten like a carrot and the flowers can be used to make tea."
"The leaves as well," Molly added as she knelt beside him to pluck one of her own. "Can you tell me what the berries on…that tree are?" She pointed to a tree with spherical purple berries.
"Oran Berries." The name rolled off his tongue with ease. As they looked around Vander spotted some vines wrapped around the base of a tree. Vines don't usually grow like that. He unsheathed his pocketknife to take a sample, but felt a firm hand on his shoulder before he could move any further.
"Look more carefully at the base of that tree." She pointed to something barely visible around the side of the trunk.
He followed Molly's outstretched finger and saw something yellow. "Is that attached to those vines? What is it?"
"It's a weepinbell, a big one." She let go of Vander's shoulder after he had sheathed his knife. "It was waiting for something to get too close and snag it with one of those vines. It is carnivorous."
"So if I tried to grab or cut those vines it would grab me and eat me?"
"Only if I wasn't here to save you. Firebrand could also protect you, but it is always better to avoid those kinds of situations."
Vander frowned. "I thought wild pokémon always attack head on."
"Pokémon rely on us to help them learn how to reach their potential and so we often forget that they can make their own plans." She turned to pick an Oran Berry and took a bite. "You are teaching Firebrand now, but someday she will evolve. Then she will be smart enough to start teaching you."
The aforementioned charmander came running through the bushes moments later.
Vander noted her flame was bright yellow. "What happened?"
Firebrand began waving her arms before running back towards the nursery with Vander and Molly following. She led them past the four greenhouses and into the cottage.
They saw Molly's machoke, Jeb, passed out on the couch.
The meganium, Willow, was standing over him. The petals around her neck were glowing and releasing a multicolored fragrance.
Molly knelt beside Jeb and began rubbing his forehead. "He is really burning up. When did this start?" He seemed fine when Vander and I left. Molly moved to the phone and began calling the Viridian City Pokémon Center. She was soon listing Jeb's symptoms.
The machoke's entire body had a severe fever. His breathing was labored and he seemed to be groaning in his sleep.
When the call ended, Molly began getting ready to leave. "I'll be leaving with Jeb soon," she said to Vander after coming down the stairs and returning Jeb to his poké ball. "He might have a virus and the nurse wants him at the Center over night. She thinks he could be in there for up to a week."
Vander watched Molly rushing around the house, making sure everything was in order before her departure. "You should stay with him in the Pokémon Center. I can look after the nursery for a week."
"Are you sure?" She bent over to look him in the eye and placed her hands on his shoulders. "The murkrow will be here soon. Are you sure you're up to stopping them?"
The last attack had happened at night. Molly had let him and Firebrand sleep through it. All he knew was that Jeb had played an important role in fending them off. "It won't be easy, but I think I can handle it. Firebrand's twice as strong now as last time and we'll have Willow and Webster to help as well right?"
Molly closed her eyes for a few moments and then took a deep breath. "Fine, I will leave you in charge for the next week." She opened her eyes and gave him a tender smile. "Thank you."
Jeb's condition was worse than previously thought. The Viridian Pokémon Center lacked the resources to treat him, so Molly had to travel to Saffron City. She would be a day's journey away from the nursery if things went wrong.
Vander had just finished working in the greenhouses when he bolted for the fields. He came to an abrupt stop near Willow, who had been patiently watching the fields from the patio while soaking in the sun's rays. "Did you see them?"
The grass-type opened her eyes and would have rolled them had the boy not been staring at her intently. She shook her head and sighed when Vander had calmed down. Then she grabbed him with her vines before he could walk into the fields and directed him to the back door.
We did always take a break around this time. He nodded to her. "Thanks."
Firebrand and Webster, Molly's politoed, joined him a few minutes later. The two had been working out in the fields with Firebrand weeding and Webster handling the irrigation.
The kitchen had a view of the fields through the sliding glass door and the patio. Vander could see all four quadrants of the one-acre field.
I wonder if she planned it out this way. Vander then realized something as he brewed the tea. We could probably see the murkrow if they arrived from the west, the area between here and the mountains and completely clear.
The tea was done a few minutes later. In that time Firebrand and Webster had made three sandwiches. Willow remained content with soaking up the rays of the setting sun.
"So Webster, what were the murkrow like?"
The water-type just shrugged. Then he started to the flap his arms and make pecking motions.
"I know they fly and peck." He thought for a moment. "Are they smart?"
"Are they strong?"
Webster shook his head.
"So they are smart, but not strong. There are a lot of them right?"
Webster nodded before biting into his sandwich.
Vander got the hint and began eating as well. He loved the taste of an all peanut butter sandwich. Why would anyone taint this with jelly, he had thought numerous times.
The other two had their own unique sandwiches; Webster's having an unknown blend of pokémon food and Firebrands having her daily serving of meat.
The sun was noticeably lower when they finished eating and began the cleanup.
Vander consulted a map of the nursery, hung on the wall opposite the sliding doors. "So how much of the field have you guys weeded?"
Firebrand pointed to the most northwestern quadrant. Then she shook her head.
"So you've weeded everything except that spot. All three of us should probably finish that one up before nightfall." He then looked at Webster. "You finished watering them all right?"
The next two days had gone a similar way, with Molly phoning them at night for an update and to reassure Vander that he was doing fine.
Webster was helping Firebrand comb the fields. Cloudy weather meant approaching rains. Watering would be unnecessary. Willow had left her usual perch at the patio to help Vander germinate some seeds in the greenhouse.
When the black feather glided to the ground a few feet away it had an immediate effect.
The normally cheerful politoed stiffened up, his eyes squinting as he picked up the feather and examined it closely. A brief scan of the sky revealed nothing, and then he was off. First he found Firebrand who was weeding one quadrant away.
Upon seeing the feather the she guessed what was happening. She kept weeding, but now her senses seemed sharper, adrenaline coursed through her. Her eyes would remain on the ground for no more than a few seconds before she glanced upwards to scan the skies around her.
Willow had finished helping Vander with seed germination and the two were heading back to the fields when Webster intercepted them.
It only took a moment for Vander to piece things together. "They're here?" He looked up, but saw nothing through the clouds. "You two should get to the fields. I'll lock up here so they can't get at the seeds."
Like many wild pokémon, the murkrow were not strong enough to get into the greenhouses and based on Molly's stories, even an average human could take them on armed with a stick.
With that in mind, he ran inside to get a club Molly had made a few years ago. It was meant for an adult and somewhat unwieldy in his hands, but he could at least swing it around. With the greenhouses locked up and a weapon in hand, he ran out the back door to join the pokémon.
They had formed a sort of triangle with Willow standing near the patio to survey the situation. Webster and Firebrand were each patrolling the edges of the north and southwest quadrants respectively.
Vander took another brief look at the sky before taking up a post in the middle of all the quadrants. His eyes remained glued to the sky as he paced back and forth. Ears were sharper than he ever remembered and he would cock his head at even the slightest sound. Hands maintained a tight grasp of his club, ready to take the heads off any murkrow who dared to challenge him.
A lone black feather floated down from the sky, its source obscured by the clouds.
Vander only had to look once before his eyes darted around, scanning the sky for its source.
There was a sound of glass shattering. One of the cottage windows had been broken.
Vander resisted the urge to check it out. "Willow, go check that out!"
The grass-type obeyed and began running around the house.
Vander's mind wandered a little. Molly never mentioned them attacking the buildings! He remained frozen in place until something struck him in the back.
There was cackling.
Vander leapt to his feet and grabbed his weapon, but the instigator had disappeared. Did a murkrow just Faint Attack me? What's going on? He began circling as he paced back and forth, but the murkrow seemed to have lost interest. Oddly enough, he noticed none of the berries had been touched yet.
A cry rang out from the other side of the cottage.
"Willow!" Vander also heard Webster and Firebrand moving towards the cottage. I should tell them to stop! They're being lured away from the crops, but Willow could be in danger! After a brief moment's hesitation he reluctantly moved towards the patio. I'll just stop there, that'll be close enough to Willow, but I can still see the crops.
A jet of fire shot through the air and several murkrow scattered, but something else shot up even faster.
Vander could hear Firebrand and Webster battling as he reached the patio. There was a chorus of cackles. The murkrow never attack like that! Molly said we'd only have to beat them back as they tried to feed!
There was an even larger chorus of cackles, and what looked like a large shadow descended from above the clouds and onto the fields.
Vander turned around just in time to receive a punch to the gut. All he saw was a dark blur before he was winded and on his back. He sat up and saw what looked like a larger murkrow standing a few feet away.
However, the differences ran deeper than its size. It had a straighter beak, a larger and smoother hat with a much bulkier build all around. A prominent tuft of white hair covered its puffy chest. It opened its wings, revealing red inner feathers and was airborne with a single flap.
Vander got to his feet as fast as he could and ducked as the pokémon swooped over him and landed on the cottage roof. What is it? Uber Murkrow? He picked up his club and held it like a baseball bat.
A ball of blue energy shot up from the other side of the house and entered the clouds. The downpour began moments later. There were shrieks as the murkrow scattered and headed for shelter in the forest. However, the larger bird merely looked up at the clouds before locking eyes with Vander.
I'm totally outclassed! It was a familiar feeling. He ducked again as it swooped over him before circling around and disappearing into the forest.
"….and it was larger and stronger than the other murkrow." Vander finished his account to Molly over the videophone. "I checked the crops this morning, the rain is keeping the murkrow away, but they were able to get a few berries."
"Some damage always happens," Molly replied. "Even with Jeb we can usually expect to lose ten percent of our berries. Pamtre berries command a high price so it is above our economic threshold." She ran a hand through her unbraided hair. "You said the murkrow shattered one of the windows, and then attacked Willow."
"Yeah. Firebrand was able to weld the glass shut, but it doesn't look pretty. Willow looks okay, but I'm having her rest for all of today."
She nodded and smiled. "Despite what has happened, you are doing well." Then she became more serious. "Webster bought you some time, but I don't think the rain will last for more than a day or two. That was what the local forecast said and Webster just made it happen sooner. This also means that the murkrow will be stuck here."
"I'll try and research the big one."
"You should also consider that Firebrand might not be able to fight in such wet conditions."
Vander nodded then thought of anther question. "How'd you fight the murkrow with Jeb around? You said they were never this aggressive or organized, but the field is so big. How'd you do it?"
"As I said, they came down in disorganized mobs and were only interested in feeding. They were also pretty weak so we just had to attack them to drive them off. Jeb would use Stone Edge, Webster would use Hyper Voice and I would just swing my club around. We could usually drive them off before they did serious damage. If the winds were correct, Willow could spread Poison Powder or Sweet Scent around. That's why she was always up near the patio."
"I think that big one is the real problem. It probably organized them. It's also the only one that could've broken the window or beaten Willow so quickly."
Molly's cell phone began ringing and her eyes widened when she saw whom it was from. "I have to go now. There is an update on Jeb's condition. Focus on finding out what that mystery pokémon is."
The call ended seconds later and Vander closed the phone app before pulling up a web browser. When Firebrand crawled into his lap to observe, Vander realized how big she was. "You're almost a charmeleon. Just a few inches more and a head crest and people might think you've evolved already."
Firebrand only nodded. She could barely fathom the idea of being able to carry her trainer, let alone fly him across vast distances.
"So first we need to know what we're looking for." Vander recalled the creature's appearance. "It's definitely not a murkrow, but it's also similar to one." He typed in evolved form of murkrow. "Honchkrow?"
A click on a page that was part of an online encyclopedia revealed an image that matched what Vander had seen.
Firebrand's eyes also lit up with recognition.
Vander began scrolling down and reading out loud. It was the same type as a murkrow, however a murkrow could only become one with a Dusk Stone. "How does a wild murkrow find a Dusk Stone?" He realized wasn't an important question. There were plenty of cases involving wild Pokémon stealing things from humans. All it had to do was find and touch one.
Soon the pair joined Webster and Willow down in the living room to discuss their findings.
"My guess is that Honchkrow took control of the murkrow flock and made them more like what we saw today. So beating Honchkrow might make them panic."
The other three nodded.
Then Willow, who had been lying next to the sofa turned to look out the window. It had been pouring all night, hence why they chose Pamtre Berries earlier on. Knowing the murkrow were waylaid, she slowly got up and eyed the muddy terrain through the glass.
Vander joined her at the window. "That'll make running difficult." Then his eyes drifted to the trees. "They'll be sleeping up there. Maybe if we attacked while they were still in the trees, we could drive them off." He turned to Willow. "Can you reach up into the canopy with Poison Powder?"
She shook her head, but then produced several vines and smiled.
"Vine Whip? I guess we could use that." He cupped his chin and stare out into the forest. "I'm going out there. We'll need to see where they are sleeping. Murkrow usually only come out around night so they probably won't attack."
Firebrand began tugging at his pants. She wanted to follow him, but rain made it impossible.
Webster gave her a pat on the head before volunteering himself. They left once Vander had donned the appropriate gear.
The raincoat kept his head and upper body dry, but Vander steered clear any particularly wet patches that could splash his pants. Rain and wet patches became less of a problem under the canopy.
They had not walked far when they heard fluttering above. The branches above were filled with murkrow.
Most were asleep, but Vander saw a few glancing around. I'll bet Honchkrow's on one of the higher branches. He turned to Webster and put a finger to his lips, receiving a nod in response.
What followed was a nearly hour long process in which they tried to map out the size of the flock's roosting site. They found that the roost began twenty feet from the edge of the forest and continued another one hundred feet in. It stretched the entire border between the forest and nursery. After returning home they drew out a rough map of where the flock roosted relative to the property.
"They'll be able to attack from a few different directions, but all will be coming from the same place relative to the fields. We might be able to beat a bunch of them back, but Honchkrow will be tough and it has a very big flock. We need something to knock out or occupy as many murkrow as possible." He turned to Webster. "Know any ice moves?"
Webster shook his head.
"Then we'll…maybe." Vander quickly put on his raincoat. "Let's go back out Webster, I have an idea." He began tying the laces on his boots. "We might be able to find some pokémon in forest to help us fight. If we can keep enough murkrow occupied, we'll be able to fight Honchkrow more easily."
They set out again and this time they waked past the roosting murkrow.
"What we need to find is a large group of pokémon. Maybe a flock of pidgey."
However an hour-long search failed to turn up any pokémon they could talk to. Most were up in the trees, and calling them didn't work.
As they turned back Webster spotted something and grabbed Vander's raincoat sleeve. With the boy's attention he pointed to a nearby tree with several kakuna hanging from it.
Where there's kakuna there's beedrill. It was a basic lesson. "We can't ask them for help." He then tested the forest floor. It's not too slippery. "Hey Webster, do you think you can outrun a swarm of beedrill?"
He was confused at first, but shrugged and the shook his head.
They moved on and came to a river. It looked to be flowing south, past Viridian City and towards the northern edge of Pallet Town.
"I remember crossing a bridge with my dad when we went to visit Professor Oak." He followed the river with his eyes. "It looks deep and the current's pretty strong. Webster, could you drag us both against the current if you had to?"
He nodded. Vander wasn't giving him much to go on and he seemed to be making several plans at once.
They followed the river to a point where it widened. The rain was making it swell slightly.
"Hey look." Vander pointed out a weepinbell. It was trying to hide behind one of several riverside trees. Soon Vander spotted several more, each hiding behind a different tree. "They're waiting to ambush whatever comes for a drink." He smiled and began to approach them. "Hey Weepinbell!"
Willow closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She was frowning. It wasn't because of the rain, but Vander's plan. However she had agreed to it anyway and was currently building up her strength. Her frown deepened and her muscles began to stiffen up. Then her neck petals were glowing with a bright golden energy before large gold beams shot out from them and into the clouds.
It was the mother of all Sunny Day attacks.
Willow smiled proudly as the once dense clouds began to part. It would hold the rain at bay for at least five hours. She hoped Vander's plan could come together in that time.
It was only twenty minutes before the cackling began. A large mass of black erupted from the trees.
Vander watched carefully from his spot behind a greenhouse as the swarm passed over the cottage. He clutched Webster's poké ball in his right hand.
Willow mustered up what strength she could and began swiping at the swarm as it passed overhead. Several murkrow fell to her attacks while the rest neared the field.
They were flying in a fairly tight formation when Firebrand emerged from between the rows and spewed out a Flamethrower. These immediately made them scatter, knocking several out and frightening the others.
It was only a few minutes into the battle when Willow saw Honchkrow. It descended upon her beak first. She pulled her vines back and braced herself as the Drill Peck landed. However she wrapped her vines around her opponent's wings before it could fly away. Now all she could do was hold on for as long as possible, bracing herself as the angry bird slashed and pecked at her.
Vander's heart raced as he ran up to the patio and grabbed one of the unconscious birds by the neck.
Honchkrow shrieked when it saw him grab the murkrow.
Vander was soon running with the bulk of the murkrow swarm chasing after him.
Firebrand had her hands full with three murkrow circling and attacking her. She leapt above a Peck from one only to get knocked to the ground by another's Faint Attack. Then she rolled aside to avoid another Peck from the third.
Willow's eyes remained tightly shut. Each blow from Honchkrow sent a sharp pain coursing through her from the point of impact. She squeezed her vines as hard as she could around its wings. Sunny Day had drained her; otherwise she would be using them to slam Honchkrow into the ground.
Firebrand was now leaping back as the murkrow dove at her. Then she spun around and sent Ember at the three.
They blocked with their wings, giving the Firebrand time to tackle one to the ground, putting all of her weight onto its head as they fell.
With one down she turned to the other two just in time to receive a Peck to the chest.
The murkrow was about to pull back, but its attack did negligible damage.
Soon Firebrand had her claws firmly attached to its hat.
Screeching and struggling were futile and it was soon engulfed in a hot jet of fire.
The third murkrow backed away as its ally was roasted by Flamethrower. A single glare from Firebrand sent it into full-blown retreat until another black swarm emerged from the trees.
Honchkrow had held back half the flock. Now, driven by hunger and seeing an opportunity, they flew over the cottage and onto the berry fields.
Vander didn't care how much noise he made breathing. His lungs were burning as he ran through the forest. The angry caws of the murkrow swarm echoed through the forest, though he knew they were slower than him here.
The kakuna and their beedrill protectors were still asleep when the boy ran by their tree. They didn't know he threw something, only that a murkrow slammed into one of them and that a flock of them was apparently wreaking havoc in the forest.
Soon there was a swarm of beedrill following after the murkrow.
Vander smiled when he heard a faint buzzing amidst the angry caws. Soon he had reached the river. "Webster!"
The politoed emerged from the poké ball and the pair quickly dove into the river.
Once in the water, Webster began towing Vander against the current. He could hear the murkrow flying above them, but their shrieks of anger quickly turned to ones of distress.
They surfaced several feet away from the site of the battle.
The beedrill were easily more than a match for the surprised murkrow. Their Twineedle attacks dispatched their less experienced opponents in a few hits. A few, unlucky enough to take too many Pecks, fell into the river.
Willow felt the last of her strength slipping away.
Honchkrow was almost free when Firebrand leapt onto its back.
She latched on with her claws.
Willow lost her grip.
Firebrand clung on as Honchkrow flew into the air, her eyes shut tightly.
Honchkrow's flew in loops, swooping and diving at high speed. It began shrieking hen he charmander wouldn't let go.
The murkrow ignored their leader's distress. Hunger drove them to ignore the battle and feed on the berries. It looked like the fields were unguarded, and they eyed the fruits lustfully, each one picking a tree to gorge itself. This would provide plenty of energy to complete their migration.
Firebrand was finally able to focus and spewed out a Fire Spin, engulfing both her and Honchkrow in flames.
Honchkrow shrieked and began tapping into even greater speed.
Firebrand dug her claws deeper into its hide.
It was able to dislodge her after looping around several times, at the cost of a few feathers.
Firebrand's tail flame turned bright yellow as she plummeted toward the patio. She shut her eyes, her body tensed and ready for impact.
The murkrow had eaten their first berries when they began feeling strange. Movement suddenly became more difficult. Those few that looked down bolted as fast as they could, flying shakily to the forest.
Vines began creeping up the base of the trees and coiling around the ankles of the oblivious bird pokémon. Soon the field was filled with surprised chirps of those who had not flown away as they were yanked down the sides of the trees.
Firebrand opened her eyes when she felt something wrap around her torso and slow her fall. Soon she was set gently onto the patio.
With the last of her strength expended Willow closed her eyes. It was a well-deserved rest.
After thanking Willow, Firebrand looked out at the fields. The losses were minimal, and the bulk of the murkrow were either eaten or in retreat. Her thoughts strayed to Vander. The only murkrow unaccounted for were chasing him.s
Vander and Webster came running out of the woods. Both were soaked, but neither was damaged. However Webster did look a little tired having dragged Vander upstream and the run alongside him.
"It worked!" Vander saw the murkrow flock retreating into the woods. They approached the patio and Vander knelt beside Willow. "Sorry you had to go through that." He rubbed her head and then looked inside where Firebrand was already fetching her ball.
Her flame was its normal color, but seemed to flick about more vigorously at the sight of her trainer. She jogged through the open sliding glass doors and presented Vander with Willow's poké ball.
Vander took Willow's ball and then scratched Firebrand below the chin. "I'm proud of you. I saw Honchkrow flying on the way here, and it looked like it was on fire."
Firebrand almost ignored the compliment, purring as she Vander kept scratching her favorite spot.
Soon all the pokémon were inside. Willow and Webster were resting in their balls while Firebrand sat with Vander in the kitchen.
"The weepinbell will probably leave when the rain starts up. Let's avoid the fields until tomorrow." They looked up at the sky where the clouds were starting to come back. "It'll start raining in another hour. Willow really outdid herself." He stood up and got ready to go back out.
Firebrand looked up from her bowl of meat and hopped down from her chair and booster seat.
Vander held his hand out as she tried following him out. "Keep eating. I'm just going to check on the greenhouses before the rain comes back." He began a brief sweep of the greenhouses, plucking any weeds he saw from the flats.
Twenty minutes later the clouds had grown noticeably more prevalent. Rain would most likely fall within the hour.
Vander shut the door to the last greenhouse. He had only walked a few feet towards the cottage when a powerful blow to the back sent him face-first into the muddy ground. What the? Rolling onto his back he scanned the area around him, but saw nothing.
A black feather floated to the ground behind him.
When he stood, the sight of it made his heart race. I should call Firebrand! However a sound behind him prompted him to turn. He raised a fist only to double over as what felt like a fist collided with his gut.
Honchkrow landed little over a foot away from the kneeling child. It waited until Vander looked up before slapping him with its wing.
The blow made everything shaky. He was now on all fours, trying in vain to stand. It felt either like his body was too heavy or that the ground was spinning and tilting. Then a sharp pain struck his back, followed by several others in rapid succession.
Honchkrow's Pecks drew blood almost immediately. Never striking twice, it chose a new spot each time. It favored creating a new wound over deepening an older one.
Then Vander found his voice.
Honchkrow remained unfazed by the screams or the blood as it peppered the boy with more pecks.
"MANDER!" Firebrand's angry screech finally halted the bird pokémon's attack. Her flame was now triple its usual size, bluish white and flickering violently.
Honchkrow locked eyes with its new challenger. Its feathers were still singed from the Fire Spine, and its back still ached from the claw marks. A few wing flaps had it airborne.
Firebrand spun around and sent Ember flying from her tail towards Honchkrow's face. She the flattened her body against the mud as Honchkrow sailed above her. The mud made it slightly difficult to push herself up.
Honchkrow turned around just as she stood up. It knocked her back down and continued its flight path. Circling round, it came back for another pass.
Firebrand raised her head and spat out a Flamethrower.
Honchkrow swerved left to evade the attack before circling and swopping at Firebrand's back.
She predicted the attack and flicked several pellets of Ember from her tail flame.
Vander finally mustered up the strength to stand in spite of the searing pain on his back. He saw Firebrand stop Honchkrow with an Ember
The bird pokémon recovered quickly and circled around. It then tried to swoop in and strike again.
She needs to get off the ground and grab Honchkrow. Vander saw Honchkrow swooping in. "Use Flamethrower on the ground!"
Firebrand inhaled deeply before sending Flamethrower into the ground below her. The jet of fire pushed her into the air. She figured out the next part on her own.
Honchkrow tried to stop itself, but its momentum carried it past Firebrand.
She dove head first, arms outstretched. Her claws grasped Honchkrow's tail feathers. Then she tucked her tail between her legs to avoid dragging it.
Honchkrow tried to stop, hoping Firebrand's momentum would cause her to fly loose, but her grip was too strong. Firebrand's momentum pulled Honchkrow with it and they were both on their backs in the mud.
Maintaining her grip with one hand, Firebrand turned onto her belly and opened her mouth.
"Watch its legs!"
Firebrand caught an incoming kick from one of Honchkrow's legs and maintained an ironclad grip. She let go of the bird's tail feathers and soon had the other leg in her grasp.
Honchkrow's kicks were no longer landing. It could only hope to shake Firebrand loose with brute force.
Firebrand opened her mouth again and spewed out a Flamethrower. It hit Honchkrow's white chest feathers, scorching them immediately.
Vander's smile faded when he felt the first drop land on his nose. It was drizzling.
Honchkrow howled in pain. Its movements became more spastic.
"Use Fire Spin and break away!"
Firebrand was starting to feel the drops when she heard the command. She spewed out a spiraling flame that engulfed Honchkrow's body. She let go a moment later.
Honchkrow kicked her off the moment its legs were free and righted itself before taking flight. The searing pain lasted only seconds due to the combination of rolling over and increasing rain.
Firebrand felt the opposite way. She tucked her tail between her legs to try and shelter her shriveling flame. It was turning bright yellow.
Honchkrow swooped towards the cringing fire lizard, its body surrounded by a bright white aura.
Sky Attack? Vander quickly scooped up some mud and threw it at the bird.
The first glob struck it in the side, throwing off its aim. Honchkrow circled around and received another in the chest.
Firebrand began shaking as the raindrops became more prevalent.
Vander saw Honchkrow land atop one of the greenhouses and began scrambling towards Firebrand. He stumbled after trying to run, and had to settle on a fairly quick walk. The raindrops were slightly relieving to his back wounds.
Firebrand's flame was a fraction its normal size when he reached her.
Vander tucked her underneath his t-shirt. It was an improvement.
The downpour picked up.
Vander knew his clothes would be soaked soon. Why didn't I bring her poké ball with me? He turned to Honchkrow who now stared down at him.
Their eyes met.
The boy and charmander were weak now. It could finish them with a Sky Attack. That would leave it drained and caught out in the rain. Its wings still held a fair amount of mud, which would take a few hours to fully preen out. Its flock had scattered. They were probably scared without it to guide them.
Vander knelt as Honchkrow swooped at them. The bird barely missed his head. Honchkrow had already retreated into the woods when he turned around. Then he remembered his soaked clothes, and thus began the grueling slog back to the cottage.
Honchkrow and its flock never returned to the farm within the week even when the rains stopped, a mere day after the battle. Molly and Jeb were back home the next week and life almost became normal.
Molly and Vander were drinking tea at the kitchen table. The pokémon had gone outside to enjoy the midsummer weather.
"I told Professor Oak about the murkrow attack and everything that happened."
Vander took a sip before setting down the half-full cup. "Is he mad?" Firebrand might've died.
Molly chuckled and shook her head. "I started by telling him that you were both okay. First he asked me a bunch of unanswerable questions about Honchkrow." As planned this made Vander crack a smile. "Then he told me that he thinks you are ready."
There was a moment of silence.
"Ready? I can travel now?"
"Is staying here such bad thing?" Molly reached over the table to ruffle his hair. "Just wait until your wounds heal up."
Vander's back was now peppered in reddish spots. They would most likely scar up when fully healed. Thankfully the black eye on his face would most likely disappear.
"The professor is not just letting you leave. Firebrand is technically still his pokémon. There will be rules."
Vander gulped down the last of his tea. "What are they?"
"You are not allowed to go chasing after you-know-who with Firebrand. This rule will apply until you've beaten the Elite Four." She took another sip of tea. "After you beat them, Firebrand will be yours and you can chase after him all you want."
Vander nodded. He is letting me take one of his rare pokémon so I guess it's fair. "I'm okay with that. Are there any more rules?"
Molly nodded. "He wants you to take notes on what you see." She finished her tea. "He is working on creating a portable encyclopedia for young trainers. Since this is the first time he has let someone leave with a rare pokémon he thought it would be a good opportunity to document how well it grows."
"Got it. I'll keep a diary and take notes every day." He got up and put his teacup in the sink. "I'm going to make a list of everything I need."
After placing her cup in the sink Molly gave Vander a tap on the nose. "Remember to come and visit. You can challenge me when you're ready."
"I will," Vander replied before giving her a hug. Then he ran out the back door to tell Firebrand.
They would set out in a little over a week later when his black eye had faded and the painful read spots on his back had turned into diamond-shaped scars.