My first attempt at writing anything remotely planned out (and first published work, too). Wish me luck! All criticism is welcome.Rating is for future chapters.Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Chapter 1 - The storm before the calm
I hefted my single suitcase and turned on my heel, walking away to where my father was waiting with a suitcase of his own. We couldn't afford to miss this boat, after all. When I reached the bottom of the stone steps that led up to or house, my father and I began walking to the quay without another word, where the hustle and bustle of the port had already begun despite how early it still was. A crisp breeze blew past us as we walked, making the SOLD sign on our lawn swing back and forth with a series of creaking noises.
It had been twelve years since we had moved to Unova from Hoenn. My father had found work here as a pokemon breeder with a small but distinguished circle. Now, that same group needed contacts in the other regions to spread their influence. Being the most familiar with Hoenn, my father had volunteered to go. I guessed he missed the region as much as I longed for it.
I never did figure out what it was about Hoenn that fascinated me so. It felt so familiar to me, even now feeling more like I were going to visit an old friend instead of traveling to what should have been a foreign, distant place. I had a strange sense of exhilaration at the fact that I was going to start my pokemon journey there.
The port was in sight now. I could already see our ship: the S.S. Azure, one of the few high-powered passenger ships able to reach the other regions in just a few days. It was no luxury cruise ship, but it would suit our purposes just fine. As we approached the vessel, I heard a voice call out from our right.
"Hey, Brendan! Ren!"
I stopped in my tracks and looked to see a heavily built man in his early forties jogging up to us. I recognized him instantly; this man, Simon, was one of my father's colleagues in the breeder business here. He visited our house often and was like an uncle to me. He often taught me tidbits here and there about breeding whenever he came over. My father smiled and closed the remaining distance, clapping the older man on the shoulder briefly with his free hand before replying.
"Hey, Simon. Come to say goodbye?"
Simon chuckled good-naturedly. "Nah, I had enough of ya at your goodbye party. I'm here ta give your boy a little parting gift."
He walked over to me and knelt down. I wasn't particularly short, but this guy dwarfed me by a good foot or so when he was standing. Like this, he was at eye level with me. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pokeball, still shrunk down to travel size. He held it out to me.
"I thought ya might like this." He gestured for me to take it, so I complied and cradled it to my breast like it was made of glass. I'd never had a pokemon before, though I did take care of my father's sometimes. Still, the feeling of having one of my own was new to me.
"She just hatched the other day, so don't be too rough with her. She's already a bit bigger than normal though, so she should be a tough one."
"Thank you, sir," I said in awe. Simon chuckled again and winked at me before ruffling my hair as he always did. He got up again.
"C'mere, Brendan," he called to my father who approached us, looking a bit wary. Probably with good reason as Simon easily scooped us both up, suitcases and all, and gave us a crushing bear hug. I could almost see my life flashing before my eyes.
"You two take care of yourselves over there, ya hear?" he said before releasing us. "Now don't let me keep ya any longer. You've got a ship to catch." He walked off again, giving us a little wave over his shoulder as he walked off into the still-dark streets of Driftveil. I waved back and saw my father do the same out of the corner of my eye.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. "Well, let's go, Ren," my father said to me with a grin on his face. I smiled back as I boarded the ship that would take us to another land.
Unnoticed, a small object shrouded in darkness drifted through the air behind me, slipping into my suitcase through an impossibly small gap in the casing.
I set my suitcase down beside one of the beds in the room that we would be staying in. My dad had gone exploring for something to eat as soon as he had dropped his own suitcase off in our room, but I was too excited to eat. Reverently, I set the pokeball I had been clutching so tightly onto the smoothly made bed, pressing the button once to enlarge it. Then, taking a deep breath of anticipation, I pressed it once more.
A flash of light and the signature whistling sound that came with the release of a pokemon assailed my senses, but I kept my eyes focused on the small form that was taking shape in front of me. When the light finally disappeared, I saw a little yellow... ball of fluff on the bed, barely the size of my hand.
My heart melted a little when I saw it. I don't say this a lot, but man, this thing was adorable! Its small size dampered my hopes a bit of having it battle soon, but I could be patient. It opened its eyes - I counted two large eyes in the middle and two smaller ones on the sides - and for the first time I found myself taking in the form of my new pokemon.
I recognized the little spider as a joltik, which was confirmed by its cry a second later. I couldn't be sure but I thought it sounded pretty happy to me, which was a relief. At least it was friendly. While it looked around the room curiously and stretched its fuzzy little legs, I noted with interest that its eyes weren't the usual shade of blue for joltiks, but rather shone a brilliant amethyst colour. That made two things that were special about this little gal, though I couldn't tell it was larger than average without a point of reference. I felt a new rush of gratitude toward Simon. This must've been hard for him to give up.
Apparently satisfied with her surroundings, the little spider pokemon was looking at me again. I reached down and scooped her up, holding her at face level. Experimentally, I scratched her head with my fingers. To my amusement, she closed her eyes and leaned into the attention.
"We'll be partners from now on, okay?" I said, hoping to get our relationship established quickly. Joltik gave an affirmatory "Tik!", eyes still closed and turning into putty in my hands. With that formality out of the way, all that was left now was for me to give her a name.
"Hmm... I wonder what I should call you," I wondered to myself out loud. "How about-"
Abruptly, I cut myself off. Joltik's fur was standing up on end an she was making a weird sort of hissing noise, which I took to mean displeasure. For a second I thought she didn't appreciate the thought of me naming her, but then I noticed she was looking to the side rather than at me. Following her gaze, my eyes fell upon my suitcase, which was rocking back and forth slightly where I had left it.
Cautiously, I moved my joltik away from the suitcase to the other side of the bed. Then, I gingerly undid one of the two clasps that held the suitcase closed. Preparing myself for whatever might happen, I undid the other clasp.
The suitcase flew open and a bunch of clothing hit me in the face, blocking my vision quite nicely. I flung the offending articles off and had just enough time to see a fast-flying green and white blur rocket to the other side of the room, near the window. When it stopped, I got a better look at it. A cottonee! Nasty little troublemakers, those were. They could squeeze into any gap, which explained how it got into my tightly-packed suitcase without me noticing. IT must have followed me to try and play one of its usual pranks. Normally I'd be no match for it, since even a small pokemon could be much stronger than a human. But today, I had joltik.
Even though the newcomer wasn't a large species of pokemon itself, it was still roughly twice the size of my joltik. That didn't seem to faze her though, since she was cracking now. Wait... crackling? I realized that joltik must have inherited some moves from its parents, probably much stronger than the usual repertoire its species had right after hatching. I grinned. Good old Simon. Time to see what she could do.
She turned her head slightly to look at me with one of her smaller eyes, but kept the rest of her attention on the unwanted visitor. IT was sticking its tongue out and her now, and suddenly resumed zooming around the room.
Better stop it before it causes any more damage, I thought, then called out, "Use Bug Buzz!"
Joltik's nearly imperceptible nod was all the warning I got before she opened her mouth wide and unleashed a deafening buzzing noise. I clapped my hands to my ears in pain. What power! The cottonee was flying in a much slower drunken zigzag now. Clearly, it wasn't expecting an attack like that.
"Stop!" I yelled, trying to make myself heard over the din. Joltik complied, looking at me expectantly for what to do next. I made a mental note to help her work on her control. The cottonee was still flying in dizzy little circles, obviously weakened. Then without any warning, it changed course and charged straight at my pokemon.
A ruse! "Dodge it!" I tried to warn her. With a surprising amount of agility, the little spider leaped and twisted around in midair, clinging to the ceiling as if gravity were nonexistent. The cottonee brought itself to a halt as it looked around confusedly for its opponent, finally thinking to look up at where my little acrobat was hiding. But by then-
"Spider Web, now!" I shouted without thinking, then blanched as I realized the implication of using that move. "No, wait-"
Too late. Joltik shot a glob of webbing right at the grass-type pokemon, hitting it square in the face and affixing it to the surface directly beneath it. Which just happened to be my bed. I groaned internally, but at least our most pressing problem was dealt with. Joltik dropped down from the ceiling and approached the struggling cottonee. Probably to examine what she had just brought down.
I turned and rummaged in my suitcase for something I had taken for just such an occasion. Aha! I held up a brand-new pokeball and turned back to the captive pokemon. I wasn't expecting to get a use out of it so soon, but I was glad I packed it after all. It had stopped squirming, probably tired out by now. Not wasting any more time, I expanded the pokeball and tapped the cottonee on the head. It disappeared with a light and sound not unlike when I had released joltik earlier. Most of the webbing disappeared with it. I breathed a sigh. Less cleanup on the bed, at least.
The pokeball rocked a few times, but I wasn't worried. Sure enough, the spherical machine emitted the sound for a successful capture.
"Not a bad first battle," I said aloud both to myself and as praise for my new pokemon. I felt a fuzzy sensation on my hand and saw that my joltik was nuzzling it.
"Can I have my name now?"
I smiled, indulging her with another scratch on the head. "Sure. How do you like the name Na-"
I stopped, mouth hanging open slightly. She was looking at me strangely. "Na? That's a bit of an odd name, but sure!"
"That's not what I meant, but... were you able to talk before?" I asked. She pouted at me. How do I know that was a pout? I thought back to the moment before. How had I known she was looking at me strangely, for that matter? The only thing I would have noticed before was that she was looking at me.
"Silly master, of course I could talk before! I don't know why you're making such a big deal out of it now, but that's not important!" She looked at me eagerly. "If Na's not my name, then what is?"
I brushed my confusion aside. I decided it wasn't as important as giving her what she deserved right now. I could deal with it later. Maybe I was just naturally talented at understanding pokemon?
"Okay, then. I was going to ask if you liked the name Naomi." I looked at her closely for her reaction.
"I like it!" she said with the happiness of a child. I let out a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. Either she was easily pleased, or my taste in names wasn't too bad.
"Alright, that's good. Now to deal with our little guest."
I scooped Naomi up and placed her on my shoulder, where she sat obediently. Picking up the still-enlarged pokeball from earlier, I walked to the bathroom and pointed it at the sink. The cottonee would probably need a good bath as soon as it got out. Hoping it wouldn't be too displeased, I pressed the button once to release my new pokemon.
A flash of light and sound. I was quickly becoming accustomed to it, so I didn't notice it nearly as much as before. As I expected, the cottonee was still sticky with webbing, though it didn't struggle so much anymore. It looked a bit peeved to me, though. I noticed a bit of webbing was caught in its mouth. I reached out and pulled it off, then proceeded to instantly regret the action.
"Pteh, pteh!" The cottonee spat out some residual webbing. "Took you long enough, human! This is gonna take ages to get out of my cotton!"
Wow, this one's got quite the sharp tongue, I thought to myself. Oh well. Guess I got lucky with Naomi.
"In that case, you'd better let me help clean you up," I said as cheerfully as I could. The cottonee glared at me. It hmphed, but didn't try to antagonize me any further. Seeing that I had its reluctant cooperation, I turned on the faucet and proceeded to wash the pokemon's fluffy white head, pulling out strands of sticky webbing as I went. As soon as I had started, I heard the door to the room click open.
"Hey Ren, I'm back," my father's voice called out, then becoming confused. "What happened here?"
"We had a little visitor, Dad," I called back, still scrubbing away. My father poked his head into the bathroom.
"I didn't know Simon gave you two pokemon," my father said, scratching his head.
"Nah, Simon only gave me this joltik." I gestured to Naomi, who was still perched on my shoulder. She gave a little wave with one leg. "This little guy," I continued, pointing at the cottonee, "followed me here in my suitcase."
"I'm a girl, thank you very much!" the cottonee complained.
"Oh. She says she's female," I corrected myself for my dad's benefit. He frowned.
"Yeah, I heard her. She seems a bit temperamental, doesn't she? And since when can you understand what pokemon say?"
"I dunno. I didn't know that you could too, Dad." I reached for the complimentary citrus-scented shampoo on the sink and popped the cap of the container open. Pouring some onto my palm, I started to lather the woolly pokemon up. If I didn't know any better, I'd say she was starting to enjoy the bath.
"Hmm." My dad didn't comment further. "Well, I'm glad to see you're already doing well on your journey, even if we're not in Hoenn yet. Don't forget to get something to eat for yourself and your pokemon."
"I will, Dad," I reassured him. I rinsed the cottonee off, almost laughing at how much smaller she looked when she was wet. She was a lot heavier, too. I grabbed one of the blue fluffy towels hanging off the side of the sink and started drying her off.
"Now," I said to the cottonee, "how about a name for you?" She stiffened, but didn't answer. I didn't want to take that as an affirmative, so I asked, "Do you already have a name?"
Shake, shake. A few water droplets flew at me as she shook her head. I pondered this for a moment. "Then... how do you like Acacia?"
Again, no response. I finished drying her off and held her up to take a look. The little grass-type pokemon wouldn't meet my eyes. I guess she didn't really like me yet, but at least she wasn't outright refusing my suggestion. I hoped she would warm up to me eventually.
"Acacia it is, then." Somehow I felt that being assertive was the best way to handle this particular cottonee. Maybe some food would make her friendlier. "Alright girls, let's go get something to eat."Chapter End Notes:Hope you enjoyed the read. This is the style that the rest of the story will be written in. Don't forget to let me know how I'm doing