This is what I get for playing Silver while working at a zoo...


The boy ran across a field. He was very happy to have the sun on his back and to see its light glittering off the tall golden grass. He had just got his first pokemon from Oak Labs and was setting out from Pallet toward the eastern lands.

He spied a movement among the reeds and excitement leapt in his heart. Finally! A chance to use his new Bulbasaur! He twisted his hat back on his head. It was a practice that he heard was used by the great Master Ashton Ketchum, who had begun his journey over 20 years ago in this very place, the fields outside of Pallet.

He released his Bulbasaur and ordered it to Vine Whip the tall creature. The pokemon was cinnamon brown and bedecked with bright white spots. Its antlers were sharp and one of them was broken. It barked in surprise of the plant-lizard before it that was trying to hit it with its extended vines. It tried to run, but Bulbasaur held it's front legs wrapped with vines. Johnny threw a Great Ball, happy to be capturing the proud Stantler.

The ball let out a spurt of red energy, then fell dead to the ground. Johnny stared in astonishment. The Stantler was immobilized; it should have been caught! The ball didn't even pull it in! It let out a shrill bark, very unlike the calls of Stantlers the boy heard in the woods on camping trips with his father. *It's coat, as well, was not smooth like a typical Stantler's, but spotted. Johnny pointed his pokedex at the creature and nothing registered. Its legs slipped from Bulbasaur's vines and it bounded away.

"I'd better get to the Oak estate!" he cried. "The Professor will want to hear about this! Bulbasaur, return!" Johnny picked up his fallen Great Ball and ran to Oak Labs.

When he arrived there, a woman with kind eyes answered the door. It was May.

"Hullo, Mrs. May. Is Professor Sketchit home?" Johnny asked.

"Yes, my husband's out back, I'll run and get him for you. Take a seat on the couch, why don't you?"

Johnny looked at the walls of the small living room. There was many a framed drawing hanging, all the original artworks of T.K. Sketchit. There was an elegant Fearow, a majestic Quilava, and a portrait of May holding a Togepi, among others. He was considered THE expert Pokemon Artist of the decade. There was a photograph on the entertainment center of a teenager with a Scyther, a Marill, and a Venonat with the sea behind them, Sketchit in his younger days.

"Why, hello, Ash, great to see you!"

Johnny shifted on the couch, startled by the voice. An old man in a wheelchair came up to him, reaching out his bony fingers toward Johnny's face. The boy was struck by the man's heavily furrowed face and emaciated frame. He had a blanket draped over his knees.

"My-my name is Johnny." Johnny said.

"Have you caught any new kinds of Pokemon, Ash?" the man asked. "If you want to complete your pokedex, you will need to catch different kinds."

Professor Sketchit tripped as he bolted into the room out of a hallway, but caught himself before he fell. He stepped behind the man in the wheelchair and put a hand upon his shoulder. "Professor, sir, why don't we go to the kitchen so you can take your medicine, okay?" he whispered into his ear.

Sketchit led the man away, the man stroking his hand and mumbling. "You're a good boy, Tracey. You were always such a good boy."

After length, Professor Sketchit returned to the living room, alone.

"That was the legendary Professor Oak, wasn't it, sir?" Johnny asked.

"Sadly, yes." Mr. Sketchit replied.

"That is why he is not on the radio anymore and why no one sees him much..." Johnny stated.

"He's been like this for about 3 years now. It was why May and I returned from our overseas travels, to take care of him. He mentor. It's been nearly unbearable to see him slip. To tell you the truth, Johnny, I've at times wished he would just hurry up and die, so he wouldn't have to suffer so." Professor Sketchit sat wearily on the couch next to Johnny and put his head in his hands.

"You see that photograph over there?" the man asked, pointing to the picture on the entertainment center.

"Yes, sir." Johnny whispered.

"My Scyther..was old when I captured him. I had only trained him for about two years before he went. He died in a battle with a wild Charizard. I had let him free to exercise and he challenged the thing. I was powerless to stop him, he wouldn't come when I called him back. He was hit with heavy flames and stopped breathing after he fainted. I was heartbroken for a while, but he went out like he wanted to, as a warrior."

The Professor paused and then spoke again. "Oh, what did you want to see me about? Shouldn't you be starting your Journey?"

"That is what I came back to talk to you about," Johnny said. "I saw this pokemon, and tried to catch it, but my ball didn't do anything. It looked like a Stantler, but not quite like one's supposed to look like. It had these strange spots and its antlers didn't look right - they were kinda pointy. I pointed my pokedex at it and it didn't register. I think I discovered a new kind!"

"Did it look like this?" Sketchit asked, handing Johnny a drawing. Johnny studied it, and handed it back.

"Yes, sir. It looked EXACTLY like that."

"I've seen them around, outside the Town Limits of Pallet. They are not pokemon."

"Not pokemon?"

"I've been getting reports from many researchers and trainers such as yourself who've seen them - living creatures who are not pokemon. They have been, for the most part, lost for centuries, the ANIMALS."

"But," Johnny spoke up, "animals, is that not a type of pokemon? Animal-type pokemon?"

"Yes, and no." Professor Sketchit replied. If you will allow me, I will tell you what other scholars and I have learned from our studies, historians of ancient lore as well as students of the ways of pokemon. Have you ever wondered why we refer to things as 'animal' and to things that are myth in common speech?"

"You mean like chickens. Fried Pidgey is called 'fried chicken', when chickens don't exist."

"Yes;" the Professor said. "But chickens DO exist."

The Professor spoke long of various historical and ancient writings as well as of recent events - some of which Johnny had seen on the news. People had been running into 'strange new pokemon' that could not be drawn into pokeballs, not even a Masterball. They could not withstand pokemon attacks and were quite easily hurt, like human beings. It was a common fact that there were birds like that, and they were not considered pokemon, many kinds of fish as well. Yet, such creatures were uncommon. More creatures like the birds and the fish were appearing, but resembling the forms of pokemon.

Stantler-like creatures abounded around Pallet and around Violet City in Johto Province. Some farms and granaries were becoming infested with creatures much like Rattata, yet smaller and with tiny, beady eyes. A trainer near Azalea had been attacked, killed, and partially eaten by a creature that the locals described as resembling a thin Arcanine, but not an Arcanine.

It was not an isolated incident, a creature was described as a 'big golden Persian with a mane of hair about the head and neck' had mauled a young woman in the Viridian forest. A man's Pikachu had died of an 'Ekans bite' after provoking a 'brown Ekans' to battle outside of Vermilion. Because of these things, many people were afraid of the creatures.

Sketchit showed Johnny some printout copies of ancient drawings with strange text. He explained that, long ago, such beasts were the only things that roamed the many lands.

"It would seem, by the legends," he said, "that the forebears of the pokemon were animals, that pokemon sprung forth from the animals, though no one has discovered how or why. The evidence is ambiguous. The animals are what researchers are calling the 'true'. They are the 'true' creatures of our world, so some prophecies say."

"The true?" Johnny asked in awe.

"Many centuries ago," the Professor sighed, "the animals began disappearing from the land. It is told that there were once thousands of species, thousands! The ever-increasing pokemon were more aggressive, and became dominant, killing animals and overpowering them for consumption of the food supplies they both needed to survive. They vanished into myth, but, somehow, people through the ages kept their names alive. 'Fried chicken' for fried Pidgey, 'lion-tamer' for Persian-trainers, 'police dogs' for Growlithe police-partners. We keep the names of animals in the names of some pokemon. Pontya is a fire-horse. Many writings tell of a 'horse' and 'horses'."

"I always thought that 'horse' was just a Ponyta's kind." Johnny muttered.

"A prophecy of Shamouti Island speaks of the return of ANIMALS to the lands and waters. It tells of a 'war of nature' to be fought, that animals would spring forth again to populate the Earth, and that they would live among pokemon once more. It warns of a Great Triumph and a Great Defeat, something about either animals prevailing or pokemon prevailing, unless men learn to live in a harmony with both and they with each other."

Johnny took a deep breath. "Does that mean that pokemon will become extinct?"

"No one knows." Mr. Sketchit said. "It may be that the 'true' have come to reclaim their rightful place in the world. I have a job for you, if you are willing. You like learning about pokemon, don't you?"

"Yes!" said Johnny, enthusiastically.

"Well, how would you like to also collect information on animals for me? Many Pokemon Professors in many towns are asking Trainers who come to them to study any animals they encounter, Pokemon Watchers, too, anyone with good observation skills who is willing. I shall give you a camera. I want you to take photographs of any 'pokemon' you see that cannot be captured in a pokeball, and any one that appears...unusual, for they may be animals. If you can draw any, try to do that, too. Take notes, try to remember EVERYTHING you possibly can about them and their behavior. Report back to me periodically, just as you would do with new pokemon you've caught."

"These animals, what about capturing them? Can they be captured?" Johnny inquired.

"Yes. Yes, they can be captured, it seems, with nets and traps and holes, such as what can trap people. They also succumb to pokemon tranquilizers and to the singing of Jigglypuffs. A woman in Azalea Town is working on creating an "animal ball", even, but has met with no success thus far. Sometimes, if you leave food out, they will come to you."

An orange-striped Meowth-like creature wandered in from the hallway and rubbed the Professor's leg.

"Meet Nya, my 'cat'" he said. "I've been studying her everyday, and everyday she does something to surprise me. I caught her feeding out of the bowls I set outside for the Growlithes. I need to know more, about all the different kinds. Go, Johnny, your Journey awaits! Make me proud."



*In case you are wondering about a grown stag with spots, the Axis Deer of India and Shri-Lanka is a species of deer that keeps its fawn-spots throughout life.


Endnotes: I know that I left off with a rather mysterious tone. I've no plans to write any continuation of this, for I wished it to be a single piece. If anyone wishes to write a continuance, please acknowledge in your header notes that it was inspired by "The True" by "Shadowcat".

And, I think that this probably needs some work. Please don't be afraid to give constructive criticism, for I may choose to revise this. For now, I just wanted to get my ideas out.

Shadowcat, 10/2000.