Not a member yet? Why not Sign up today
Create an account  

 
Pokémon Book of the Hermit (one-shot series)

#1
Author's Note: To keep this short and sweet, December 31 is Bill's birthday, and every year, I like to celebrate it with fanworks. Unfortunately, this year, most of my time was chewed up by real-life endeavors, so I couldn't go all-out like I did last year (wherein I did a fanmix, chapters of AEM, and all kinds of other bells and whistles). So instead, I decided to go the less extravagant route: fanfiction. Lots and lots of fanfiction. While this means you'll eventually get a chapter of AEM (although it won't be a main chapter) and a request fic I've been sitting on for months, it also means that this thread you're in right now is a thing.

This book -- which seriously needs a better title -- is actually a series of ficlets that clock in under 5000 words a piece. Quick fics, in other words, with each one focusing on Bill one way or another. Some of them (like this first one) are going to be silly. Others are going to be serious. There might even be AEM-level dark fics mixed in. Point is, one fic a day until Bill's birthday... and maybe even a few after that. Depends on how busy I get, how my internet is, and whether or not people actually like these.

So without further stalling, I hope you enjoy the first in the series! :D

Table of Contents
Story One: Noodle Incident
Story Two: The Stars Call For You
Story Three: Parable of the Fox



Book of the Hermit
Story One: Noodle Incident

There were certain traditions when it came to inducting new members into the programmers’ circle.

To be more accurate, there were certain traditions according to Bebe. There really weren’t any traditions at all because most of the programmers met each other before the storage system came into existence, and Celio didn’t really count because Bill declared that he was going to be a part of the group. One just didn’t argue with Bill if one wanted to either win or walk away in any other kind of mental state besides utterly confused.

That was part of the reason why Lanette didn’t argue with Bebe’s statement that there were traditions. Bill had asked her not to because Bebe was going to be Bebe, and Lanette didn’t really argue with that because it was Bill who asked. She could have argued with Bebe all day long until she asphyxiated, but that would only happen when Bill or Brigette (usually Brigette) didn’t try to stop her.

Still, Lanette couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for Amanita. The girl couldn’t have been older than ten — too young to be on a pokémon journey, even — before she was subjected to Bebe’s idea of induction. Luckily, the proceedings, from what Lanette could tell, seemed to entail gathering the programmers in one place (Bebe’s house naturally), testing the newcomer by having them crack the security codes on one of the storage system’s ports, forcing them to recite an oath Bebe apparently made up on the spot, and briefing them on the eccentricities of the group. Fennel, who came to Hearthome with her sister, failed miserably at the test and disappeared into another room with Brigette, no doubt to partake in a calming tea in order to avoid choking Bebe. However, Amanita was a natural.

Lanette, who sat in a corner of the lab with her feet on her chair and a cup of tea in her hands, had to marvel at the kid. She really was something else. Code-cracking came as easily as breathing to her, she picked up on Bebe’s fast-paced run-down of the programmers instantly, and when her elder finally stopped, she was well-equipped with the right kinds of questions.

Or, rather, she was equipped with the only one that mattered in Lanette’s view.

“So what’s Bill like?”

Across the room, Amanita sat at the computer with Bebe standing beside her. Amanita was nearly obscured by Bebe’s computer chair; Bebe had been leaning over her for the entirety of the proceedings. As soon as the question crossed Amanita’s lips, Lanette craned her neck, trying to see around Bebe’s chair in order to catch a glance of the young girl’s face. She could see part of her profile: the round nose, the sharp frown, and the tiny hand gripping Bebe’s mouse. Nothing about that sliver of an expression signaled anything troubling to Lanette, but Bebe immediately straightened, her visage shifting into seriousness. Whatever was on that girl’s face, it had to be enough to shock Bebe.

Lanette had a feeling she was going to like that kid.

“Whadda ya mean?” Bebe asked as she slipped her hands to her hips. “Haven’t you talked to him already?”

“Through e-mail, yeah,” Amanita replied. “And I know what Bill is like, but I want to know what he’s like, you know?”

Suddenly, Bebe’s expression flitted from blank to understanding and then to something sly and snake-like. “Oh! You mean you want dirt on him, do ya?”

Lanette shot her legs out from under her and smacked her feet onto the floor, preparing to bolt for Bebe’s neck if need be. “Bebe, don’t you dare!”

At that, Bebe flashed her a smile. “Oh, c’mon! It’s not like Bill’s hiding anything really stupid! Besides, it’ll help her to feel more comfortable around him if she knew not even our little English patient is all that perfect.” Then, before her colleague could respond, Bebe turned back to Amanita. “Okay, first thing you’ve got to keep in mind is that his accent’s fake, okay?”

“Really?” Amanita breathed.

At the same time, Lanette set aside her cup and stood. “Bebe, really! Do you know how rude it is to talk about someone who isn’t even here?”

“Oh come on! Like he’d care! Can you imagine Bill flipping out if we told the ickle newbie about the Post-Finals Incident?”

Amanita’s frown deepened slightly. “Post-Finals Incident? What’s that?”

“Nothing,” Lanette said quickly. “Bebe, if you share one detail of that—“

“I don’t see you diving for me, so I’m going to take that as a go-ahead!” Bebe interrupted happily. “And it’s only nothing because the details get a little weird at the end, but anyway, yeah, Bill’s accent is fake. He’s definitely not as posh as he makes himself sound; he only forces himself to speak that way because he hates it when I make fun of him.”

“No,” Lanette added harshly. “He uses that accent because people have difficulties understanding his native one!”

“So it’s true?!” Amanita gasped.

Lanette blushed and hid her face in her hands as Bebe, knowing her companion tripped herself up on her own, laughed raucously. It took a moment for Bebe to breathe properly again.

“Oh yeah! His real accent’s this thick, ridiculous Scottish thing, ‘cause you know, he came from that weird part of Goldenrod where all the immigrants settled, right?” Bebe continued through breaths. “Anyway, keep that in mind because that’s going to be important for the best part of the story. Got it?”

“Got it,” Amanita replied obediently.

“Good. Lanette, sit down. You’re embarrassing yourself,” Bebe said. “The Post-Finals Incident. It’s probably the best story we’ve got on him. See, it all started back in college. Brigette, Lanette, Bill, and I all met when we were going for our undergraduate degrees at Saffron University. Well, at Saffron, there’s also this thing called the Scream. That’s this event that happens every semester, right after finals, where anyone who’s still on campus runs around screaming their heads off to let off steam. Sometimes, you get people who streak—”

“Oh no!” Amanita exclaimed. “Don’t tell me he was streaking!”

Bebe cracked a grin. “Patience, little one. He wasn’t. See, there’s this other group of people who like to take advantage of the chaos to inflict a little chaos of their own on the campus. We like to call those people ‘seniors.’

“So anyway, it’s our senior year, final semester, final day of finals, hence why we call this the Post-Finals Incident. Celio and Lanette just came out of their last exams, and we’re all hanging out at the library… except Bill, who none of us can find. He just up and disappeared that morning without a trace. Wouldn’t answer his pokégear. Wasn’t found in any of his usual hiding spots. Nothing. But he was a pretty quiet kid in terms of troublemaking even back then, so we figured he was just off somewhere tinkering with machines in a computer lab or something, right?

“That day, the Scream was going to happen in the afternoon because the last exams concluded during daylight hours so the underclassmen could get the hell—“

“Language, Bebe!”

Bebe shot Lanette a glare before continuing. “So the underclassman could get the hell off campus. And as the Scream got closer, we still couldn’t find Bill. We were all starting to get worried before he just texts us to meet him in the campus quad for some reason. Nothing else to the text. Just ‘meet me in the quad at this hour,’ and that’s it. So because Bill’s, well, Bill, we go and do what he says, and we wait and wait until the Scream starts happening all around us. People are pouring out of the dorms, screaming their lungs out, flashing all the bits that would offend Lanette’s delicate sensibilities, you name it.

“And then, all of a sudden, the crowd parts, and Bill comes bolting right down the middle of the quad with four campus police officers right behind him. Swear to Arceus! Four of them! And he was in nothing but pants and what we’ve all hoped to gods was just blue body paint, and you know what he was screaming as he whipped past?”

Amanita shook her head.

With a broad grin, Bebe struck a pose, fists up in a fighting stance, as she mimicked a Scottish accent as best as she could (which, to Lanette, translated into the worst Scottish accent imaginable). “You may take my life, but you’ll never take my freedom!

At that, Amanita lost it. She burst into laughter and drew her head away from Lanette’s view. What Lanette could see instead was the girl’s feet kicking frantically over the armrest.

“What-what did he do?!” Amanita asked.

“To get four campus police officers on his butt?” Bebe leaned into the chair and smirked. “No idea. No one who wasn’t directly involved’s been able to figure out exactly what he did, and the people who know for certain won’t talk about it. We’ve got hints, though. One, all of the card readers throughout campus — even the ones bolted to concrete walls — went missing for the entirety of graduation week. Two, no one ever did find out where the dean’s car went. Three, the only reason why Bill didn’t end up being the only senior ever to be expelled after completing his education but before he received his diploma was because Professor Oak secretly thought whatever he did was simultaneously revolutionary and bloody hilarious. Technically four if you count the rumor that Bill supposedly used whatever he did to the dean’s car to build the transporter for the storage system. The dean still hates him, though. That’s why Bill did his other degrees at Celadon instead.”

Amanita burst into another fit of laughter as Bebe fired a smug glance at Lanette. Lanette, meanwhile, fiddled with her pokénav in irritation as she waited for Amanita’s shrieking giggles to die down. She was about to get up and move to another room (because calming tea in lieu of choking Bebe sounded like a great idea) when the door swung open to let Bill walk in.

“Sorry I’m late!” he called. “Hello!”

“Ah! Just in time!” Bebe responded. “I was just telling Amanita a few stories!”

Bill hadn’t even taken three steps into Bebe’s home when he stopped short and allowed his expression to darken slightly. “Which one?”

“The Post-Finals Incident,” Lanette told him tonelessly as she drew her knees to her chest again and stared at her pokénav.

“Oh.” Bill said the word as if it was a relief that Bebe was only talking about a mildly humiliating part of his past. “That’s okay then.”

“Speaking of which, what did you do that day? To get those cops on you, I mean.”

Bill gave her a genuine smile. “Funny story about that, actually.”

There was a pause as Bill took off his jacket and scarf. Amanita peeked out from around the chair, and she and Bebe stared at him expectantly.

“Well?” Bebe asked.

Bill blinked at her. “Well what?”

“Are you ever going to tell us?”

“No.”

With that, Bill calmly walked across the room and disappeared into the hallway. Lanette followed suit not long after.

Calming tea sounded like an incredible idea at that point.
Holmes: Punch me in the face.
Watson: Punch you?
Holmes: Yes! Punch me! In the face! Didn't you hear me?
Watson: I always hear "punch me in the face" when you're speaking, but it's usually subtext.
- Sherlock, "The Scandal in Belgravia"

The girl responsible for this atrocity to mankind. And this one. And these
Reply

#2
Book of the Hermit
Story Two: The Stars Call For You

Bill hadn’t really seen stars before he left Goldenrod City. He knew what they were of course. Ever since he was a toddler, he read about them in books and memorized star charts when he could find one. But he lived all his life until he became a trainer under the lights of Goldenrod, and the lights of Goldenrod, even in the darkest parts of the night, were so bright they obscured everything except the moon and the most brilliant stars in the sky. Before then, he never really minded much. Sure, he was curious; he wanted to see what the Milky Way and all the other stars looked like. However, this want never really burned hot enough in his mind to drive him into doing something about it. So he never ventured out of the reach of Goldenrod's lights, and he didn't know what the sky looked like when it was full of stars.

He didn’t know a lot of things. That was why he left. He was tired of people expecting him to know things when he didn’t. He was tired of his teachers wondering why he couldn’t spell or why he was deliberately giving them the wrong answers. He was tired of his parents wondering why they would send him off to school earlier and earlier in the morning, only to get calls from his teachers asking them why he was late again. He was tired of his teachers’ rules, his parents’ expectations…

…The way his classmates looked uncomfortable when they were in the same room with him.

Was it really weird to want to do something a normal kid would do for once?

Yes, he was running away. He freely admitted that, and he didn’t have a problem with it. Why would he? He didn’t belong in Goldenrod City. He wasn’t sure where he belonged instead, but it wasn’t there. The trainer’s journey just happened to be a convenient way out. A legal way to skip school and escape the confines of the city. A means of obtaining his freedom.

The funny thing was, he actually didn’t care about pokémon back then. He knew what they were; his father was a walking encyclopedia for pokémon knowledge. It was just that Bill didn’t care. Why should he care about something his father was obsessed with? Besides, he took a mildly sadistic pleasure in the surprised looks he would receive every time he dashed someone else’s assumption that he was just as great a pokémaniac as his father. Anything to stop everyone else from defining who and what he was.

Unfortunately, taking an active disinterest in a subject that ties closely to one’s chosen occupation was generally considered a bad move. In Bill’s case, it meant that he was a terrible trainer because he had no idea what he was doing. For the first nine days of his journey, he faced loss after loss, with his bulbasaur partner being beaten into the ground by the local wild pidgey and nidoran, and it took half of the tenth day for him to gain enough of an understanding into Bulbasaur’s moves to catch his first pokémon.

He just wished he knew that wild abra could only use Teleport before he caught one.

That was why, late that afternoon, he sat at his makeshift campsite staring at his pokédex and the ball containing his new catch. No matter how many times he pressed any of the buttons on the encyclopedia, it still chirped the same thing at him.

“ABRA, the psi pokémon. Known moves: Teleport. Abra cannot learn any other move naturally until it evolves. Evolves into kadabra after a moderate amount of battling experience. See KADABRA.”

Sixteen attempts later, Bill sighed in exasperation and stuffed the pokédex back into his backpack. He kept abra’s poké ball in hand, and as he propped his chin on his other hand, he studied the orb’s plastic surface with narrowed eyes.

Okay, so Abra was a dud. He had two choices then: he could either train it somehow until it evolved or release it and find a new pokémon. Then again, he had only a limited number of spare poké balls, and at the rate that he was going in terms of training, it was unlikely he would make enough money from trainer battles to restock. He literally couldn’t afford to waste a single ball.

Not to mention he only caught Abra because it was the weakest thing he had come across. Bulbasaur couldn’t handle the pidgey or the nidoran that also lurked in those woods; how could Bill possibly hope to capture anything besides wild abra?

On the other hand, if he kept Abra, that meant he would need to rely on Bulbasaur to help train the psychic, and although the seed pokémon adored battling for him, it wasn’t fair to keep relying on her. Besides, Bill had enough sense to do a little research into where he was going to earn his first badge, and the gym in the next city would tear a grass-type to shreds. He needed another pokémon — one that could battle.

He sighed for a second time. “Maybe I should just ask it what it wants to do.”

It was a note of sarcasm, but the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. Besides, it wasn’t as if he had better things to do. He wasn’t about to test whether or not Bulbasaur could hold her own against nocturnal pokémon, after all. So he pointed Abra’s ball away from his body and waited as the object cracked open and released his very first catch.

The fox-like creature sat a few feet away from his master with his head bowed and his eyes tightly shut. Bill didn’t need the pokédex to tell that it was asleep, and he already reviewed everything it had to say about Abra to know that this was perfectly and unfortunately normal.

He would have mentally kicked himself again for the catch, but his psychological foot was already bruised enough over that. So instead, he got up and bent over his pokémon with his hands on his knees and his mouth stretching into a thin, straight line.

“Abra?” he said. “We need to talk.”

In response, the psychic-type slightly parted one set of eyelids — just enough to allow Bill to see the sliver of one of Abra’s glistening dark eyes.

“I’m sorry I caught you. Honestly, I have no idea what to do with you. You can only use Teleport, right? Well… I’m a trainer. I’ll work hard to teach you other moves, but you’ll have to be able to battle first.” Bill straightened his back. Up until that point, his voice had been nervous and shaky, but now, it was strong and as assertive as he could pull off. “If you don’t want to be trained, now is your time to leave. Otherwise, we’ll—”

Abra winked out of sight. For a few brief seconds, Bill thought he had just solved his biggest problem of the moment… until he heard a rustling behind him. Whirling around, he was just in time to catch Abra pulling his pokédex from his pack and then vanishing once again.

“Hey!” Bill shouted.

“Abraaaa…”

Following the sound of the growl, Bill glanced up into a tree at the edge of the campsite, and he was horrified to find Abra sitting calmly in one of its branches with the pokédex in his lap.

“Give that back!” Bill demanded as he dashed at the tree. “I don’t care if you decide to go, but you can’t take that with you! I need that!”

The psychic opened one eye again and continued to growl. He watched as his trainer jumped for the branch but fall several feet short of touching its bark. Not to be bested, Bill turned his attention to the tree and attempted to grab onto its trunk to climb it instead.

Unfortunately, among Bill’s inventory of things he didn’t know then was how to climb a tree. Almost immediately after he started up, he fell backwards onto the ground with a thud. This process repeated itself a four more times before Bill switched to attempts at coaxing Abra to teleport back to him.

“I’m sincerely sorry,” he cooed. “Why don’t we start over? Let’s be friends, okay?”

He also didn’t know how to talk to pokémon either. That lesson would come years later, but for right then, Abra merely regarded his attempts to coax him down with another growl. As soon as Bill realized that the psychic saw right through his attempts not only because they were insincere but also because the fox was psychic, he slapped his forehead and gave up.

Sighing for a third time that day, Bill crossed his arms and glanced back at his backpack. He couldn’t use Bulbasaur to attack Abra. The creature was psychic, and besides, he kept himself out-of-reach and nestled between branches. Bulbasaur would never be able to land a hit. Bill squinted at the campsite with that thought in mind, his brain scrambling to come up with something he could do as Abra’s trainer to get the fox down.

Eventually, another thought came to him — a thought so simple he was almost ashamed he didn’t think of it in the first place. With a smirk, he walked back to the campsite and picked up Abra’s poké ball and his backpack. Stepping carefully towards the tree, he pointed the ball at the psychic and recalled his pokémon. To his surprise, the psychic, with the pokédex firmly clutched in his claws, went inside without much protest at all.

“Great,” he said to himself. “Now all I have to do is release him and…”

As soon as Abra reentered the outside world for a second time, he dodged Bill’s fingers by teleporting into the tree’s branches again. This prompted Bill to cry out in frustration once again, to which Abra responded with another low growl.

“Okay, fine, plan C,” Bill muttered as he stuffed the ball into his backpack.

He didn’t quite know what plan C was until his fingers closed around another object jammed into his satchel. Pulling it free, he realized it was one of his bags of rations — trail mix, to be specific. Smiling, he tore open the bag, placed it on the ground, and took a few steps backwards. As he predicted, his pokémon teleported to the ground and dug a set of claws into the bag.

This plan would have worked, of course, if Abra wasn’t faster. By the time Bill finished his dive face-first into the ground (which he originally intended on being face-first into Abra), the psychic was back in the tree, plucking nuts and dried berries from the bag with the pokédex nestled in his lap. Bill sat up and rubbed his nose as he shot an angry glare up the tree.

“Fine! Take it! I don’t care! In fact, I release you as well! Go on! Be free!”

Standing, he pulled his backpack onto his back. Just as he was about to walk away from the tree, something hit him on the back of the head. It bounced and spilled to the forest floor, sending nuts and dried berries all over the dirt. Whirling around, Bill shot another glare at the pokémon and opened his mouth to shout something.

He stopped when he noticed that the abra was standing on the branch and staring at him expectantly. He couldn’t explain what it was about that expression, but the pokémon almost looked older, wiser — as if he stared into the depths of eons.

Abra pointed to the sky. Then he pointed to Bill’s backpack. After that, he teleported to another branch and waited.

Bill blinked and stared at the pokémon for a minute before setting his bag down. What did the gesture mean? He had no idea where to begin analyzing it at first until he unzipped his bag and opened it wide. Crammed against the back was Bulbasaur’s poké ball and a coiled length of rope.

Seconds later, Bulbasaur was by his side; her vines flicked outward, twisted into a loose braid, and wrapped around the lowest branch to form a net. While Bill had no experience climbing trees, he had plenty experience in scaling chain-link fences, so Bulbasaur’s braided vines were beyond easy for him. It took no time at all for Bill to reach the first branch, pull Bulbasaur up, and order her to create another ladder. All the while, Abra teleported out of his reach, further and further up the tree. Bill still couldn’t tell what the psychic wanted from him, but he knew for certain that as soon as he reached the top of the tree, Abra wasn’t going to run. He wasn’t sure how he knew that; he just had a feeling that was what would happen.

Eventually, Bill reached branches that wouldn’t hold both his and Bulbasaur’s weight, so he switched to the rope, wrapping it around the trunk and pulling back until he could use his own weight to scale the rest of the tree. He furrowed his eyebrows as he stared skyward. The sky was no longer the pinkish red of sunset; it was the dark blue of early night. All around him, the temperature was quickly dropping, and he could see his breath in the moonlight that filtered through the tree branches.

Yet he wouldn’t give up. Suddenly, the climb became less about reaching Abra and more about getting to the top. All he could think about was pushing upward and staying in that tree until he curled his fingers around the highest branches. He no longer thought about Goldenrod or how terrible of a trainer he was or of all the things he was leaving behind. The journey was just about his now, his future, and everything inside him right then.

He wanted to see the stars. And right then, that want was burning hot.

It felt like hours passed between the moment he first started the climb and the one where he yanked himself onto the last branch. Abra sat there patiently, his legs crossed and the pokédex sitting in his paws. When his master swung up beside him and sat down nestled in the joint where the trunk met the branch, Abra opened one glowing blue eye and glanced at the human. He could almost feel the way his master’s arms ached and the way the winter air burned his throat each time he panted.

“There,” Bill gasped. “Now will you give me back my pokédex?”

Calmly, Abra pointed skyward. Bill cast another annoyed glance at the fox but stopped short of telling him off. Instead, he followed the creature’s finger and looked up.

Bill didn’t know how much color the night sky had until then. He always assumed that stars were just white on black, but they weren’t. Above him, he saw twinkling reds, glittering pinks, faint cyans, warm yellows, and entire clusters of different shades of white and silver crowding out almost every bit of the deep black-blue void space could afford them. The hazy arm of the Milky Way stretched a glowing, bottle-green cloud from horizon to horizon, and the fat, pale-yellow gibbous moon dominated the night sky.

A few moments passed before Bill wrapped an arm around the trunk of the tree to steady himself. His lungs sighed once again, this time to release a breath he didn’t realize he was holding.

“Oh,” he breathed. “Oh.

He nearly jumped and fell off the branch when he heard a voice in his head.

The stars were calling you. I did not want them to be disappointed.

Bill looked around for the source of the voice until his eyes settled on his pokémon companion. The fox smiled knowingly as he held the pokédex out for his master to take.

Yes. I am the one speaking to you. Now you are willing to listen.

Shakily, Bill took his pokédex from the creature and sat there in wonder. For once, he couldn’t find the words to say in response. It was as if this pokémon and the stars above them had struck him mute.

Journeys are not about running away, Master, Abra told him. They are about much, much more. How do you feel, reaching this branch? Your journey will be like the climb. It will be difficult for you at first, and you will face many painful things…

Abra paused to look up. Bill followed his gaze and found himself staring at the North Star.

…But it will end with wonderful possibilities. This is your world, Master, and indeed, it is filled with things that are beyond your imagination now. Things that you will begin to understand someday. I cannot wait to watch you do great things yourself for the sake of them.

“Does that mean you’ll let me be your trainer?” Bill asked quietly. “Even if…”

Abra chuckled. Your place in this world will reveal itself in due time, and you may be surprised with what it is. In the meantime, do not worry. You will be all right.

“Is that… is that so?”

That is what the stars say, yes.

“Oh…”

Abra rested himself against his trainer’s side, and together, they watched the night sky until the moon finally set. Only then, albeit reluctantly, Bill recalled Abra and climbed back down to the ground. Although he didn’t sleep much that night, he lay awake in his sleeping bag and stared up at the sky through the branches of the tree, watching the stars twinkle until the gray dawn forced them to fade away one by one.

When he broke camp, he was tired and sore, but he still pressed onward that day. He didn’t know why, but something felt new about his journey. While he didn’t particularly care for clichés, he knew it felt exactly like a weight was lifted from his shoulders. He no longer cared about whether or not he was a good trainer or whether or not he could possibly meet anyone else’s expectations. All he cared about was pushing forward, inching day by day to the purpose Abra told him about that night.

And every part of him was ready to meet it.
Holmes: Punch me in the face.
Watson: Punch you?
Holmes: Yes! Punch me! In the face! Didn't you hear me?
Watson: I always hear "punch me in the face" when you're speaking, but it's usually subtext.
- Sherlock, "The Scandal in Belgravia"

The girl responsible for this atrocity to mankind. And this one. And these
Reply

#3
Author's Note: Also a gift fic for Ememew on Serebii.

Book of the Hermit
Story Three: Parable of the Fox

The door to Vermilion Gym swung open, and Lt. Surge and his trainers looked up at the challenger as he walked into the darkened room.

Or, rather, they looked down.

It should be noted that this wasn’t the first challenger they had that day, and Surge was certain it wouldn’t be their last. He also already had an estimation ready for how long it would take to finish the battle: five minutes. That was, after all, exactly how much time it took for Raichu to Thunderbolt all six of the challengers into submission.

Besides, this new challenger was a pipsqueak, and he had the air of a green trainer about him. As he walked past the gym trainers, the newcomer didn’t even reach any of their chests, not even considering the additional inch of height the wild, chestnut waves on top of the boy’s head. Although he wore baggy clothing — shorts, purple hoodie, running shoes that seemed too large for his feet — the boy looked like he was hiding a frail frame that lacked the meat one would need to survive the elements, and his clothes looked too new to have been out on the road for long. Most tellingly, though, were the kid’s eyes: wide, brown, with a hint of nervousness pulling down the edges of his eyebrows. Surge was going to break this kid before beat him; he almost felt guilty about having to accept his inevitable challenge.

With a deep breath, the boy visibly ground his heels into the gym’s smooth cement floor before announcing, “I’m here to challenge the gym leader to a match.”

His accent was notably Johtonian. Western Johtonian too. Surge, who had traveled from American base to base across the globe, knew better than to trust stereotypes, but he heard about Johto’s reputation. Even Hoenn, the most rural of the regions, saw Johtonians as beneath them. So the kid was new, tiny, frail, and most likely brash and foolish on top of everything else. Surge really felt guilty about having to accept his inevitable challenge.

Nonetheless, he crossed his arms and cracked a grin.

“How old are ya?” he asked gruffly.

The newcomer blinked in confusion. “T-ten, sir.”

“An’ how long have you been on the road?”

“Four months, sir.”

“An’ is this your first badge?”

What Surge was doing must have dawned on the trainer right then because the nervous look on his face disappeared, and it was replaced quickly with a steady, determined glare that sent a sudden shiver down Surge’s spine. It wasn’t the first time he had seen such an expression — rather, it was actually the seventh — but the fact that it appeared so quickly threw the gym leader off. Who was this kid?

“No, sir,” the newcomer replied firmly. “It’s my second.”

Surge raised an eyebrow. “An’ what was your first?”

The newcomer grinned confidently. “Saffron’s.”

All of Surge’s trainers started and turned, flashing their leader uncertain looks. At the same time, the lieutenant’s expression hardened as he looked over his challenger. He knew about the gym leader of Saffron at that time — the one that came before Sabrina, her father. He also knew the man was a powerful psychic and that it took powerful pokémon and extremely quick thinking to best him. Most trainers waited to attempt that gym until they were trying for their fifth or sixth badge. To tackle it as one’s first — and to win…

Who was this kid?

Slowly, Surge’s smile returned. Whoever this boy was, he was going to be a challenge. Probably more of one than he expected.

“Well then, baby, you know gyms got procedures,” he said as he crossed his arms. “What’s your name?”

“William,” the challenger replied quickly. “Of Goldenrod City.”

The gym leader scoffed. “Got a last name with that?”

“Does it matter?”

The kid was spunky. A good sign. Surge turned and walked to the other end of the room, snapping his fingers halfway to his destination. Immediately, the room flooded with light, revealing a simple gym floor and high metal walls. William looked up and glanced around in the first wide-eyed bewilderment that ran across his face since he entered the gym.

“Nah, I guess not,” Surge said. “So, baby! Let’s talk about rules! One on one, no time limit, gym leader sends out first. Ya got me?”

“Sounds fair to me,” William replied.

All of the other trainers scrambled out of the way, allowing the boy to step forward into the challenger’s box. Only one remained, loitering at the edge of the battlefield as the referee. She lifted her hands straight into the air as she glanced at the gym leader and his challenger.

“The battle between Lt. Surge of Vermillion City and William of Goldenrod City is about to begin!” she announced. “Both trainers have agreed to the rules: one on one with no time limit and no substitutions! The battle will only be over if one side's pokémon is unable to continue! Lt. Surge has agreed to send out first! If both challengers are ready, begin!”

Surge yanked a ball from his belt and flung it into the middle of the field. “Raichu, let’s get going!”

The ball split open at the height of its path and released a small, bulky pokémon that stood on two round paws. Raichu twitched his crescent-shaped ears as he growled his species name and drummed on his round stomach with one of his stubby forepaws. Across the way, William kept his dark brown eyes on the mouse as he pulled a ball from the pocket of his hoodie. He murmured something into the orb before tossing it into the field.

“Abra, I need your help!”

In an instant, a fox-like creature materialized on the field, sitting feet from his opponent with a golden tail curled lazily around his body. The psychic’s eyes were shut tightly, and his chest heaved steadily with the pacing of deep sleep.

Surge nearly laughed. He certainly heard some of his trainers bursting into fits of their own, but he was an experienced gym leader. As an experienced gym leader, he knew better than to laugh at a green trainer’s choices. Or at least laugh at the choices of anyone who won Saffron’s badge.

“Yo, baby! You sure you want to rely on that?” Surge asked.

“Trust me, Abra is more than capable of handling anything Raichu tries to do to him,” William responded confidently. “Let’s go!”

“Heh. Suit yourself,” Surge drawled. “Okay, Raichu! Hit it with your Thunderbolt!”

The mouse’s yellow cheeks sparked as he reared back. Yellow light ebbed off his orange fur while the sparks grew into snapping tendrils of electricity, and his voice climbed in volume until twisting electric blossoms danced on his cheeks.

In split seconds, the electricity snapped away from Raichu’s body and shot across the field. A boom of thunder filled the arena. Dust billowed into the air. Yellow light nearly blinded every human in the room.

Then, when everything cleared, Surge found the spot that the bolt had struck completely empty, save for a black pit in Abra’s place. The fox himself sat three feet to the left, completely unharmed.

Surge wasn’t shocked by the fact that Abra teleported. In fact, he expected it; every trainer who owned one knew all too well that an abra’s abilities were limited to that move unless it underwent special training. What shocked Surge was the fact that William didn’t say a word to order it. In fact, the kid stood calmly — almost unnervingly calmly — across the field from him with his arms crossed and a smirk playing across his face.

But the gym leader wasn’t going to let it scare him. No, Surge had seen far too much in his lifetime to be spooked. He set his jaw and narrowed his eyes at the abra, struggling to determine where it might teleport to next.

“Raichu, Thunderbolt again!”

The first thing he always bred into his pokémon was obedience, and Raichu was no different. Without questioning him for a second, Raichu charged another pair of electric blossoms on his cheeks before firing another lightning bolt directly at the fox.

By the time the dust and light cleared, Abra sat two feet behind Raichu. His hiss drove Raichu to whirl around and slam all four paws into the ground and bare his teeth with a frantic growl. Once again, William hadn’t said a single word.

“Again, Raichu!” Surge barked. “Keep firin’ until you hit it!”

Raichu shot another bolt of lightning at Abra, but Abra serenely appeared to Raichu’s left in the same second. Desperately, the mouse followed his target, spinning and slamming his paws into the ground as he fired off bolt after bolt. No matter where he aimed, however, the fox was just a step ahead, vanishing and reappearing in a different spot on the field before the slightest spark could touch him. Each time a bolt cracked the floor, Surge shouted a new command, but William remained completely and utterly silent.

After some time, Raichu stopped. His fur stood on end, and his mouth hung open as he panted in weariness. Directly across the field, in the exact spot where he started the battle, Abra sat quietly, as if he hadn’t lifted a finger throughout the match. Surge surveyed his opponent cautiously, studying both the abra and the boy. Another chill ran through him when he noticed that the kid was looking up instead of at the field — as if the battle wasn’t even interesting anymore.

“What is this kid?” Surge mumbled to himself. Then, a little louder, he announced. “Okay, Raichu! Crank it up! Fire a Thunderbolt in all directions!”

Grinding his paws into the ground, Raichu gritted his fangs and narrowed his eyes at his opponent. A domed field of electricity crackled around him as his body glowed brilliant yellow. His voice rose once more into a cry, louder than his first and louder than any other he screamed after that, until it reverberated off the walls and nearly drowned out the snap of the electricity around him.

Then, he fired.

Bolts shot in all directions. Humans dove out of the way as errant tendrils rushed past them. Deep trenches of black carved across the field. Thunder rose to near-deafening levels, and the light and heat were nearly unbearable even for Surge. The dust kicked up from disintegrated fragments of flooring created a nearly impenetrable brown fog that lingered in the air long after the raichu had finished.

When it cleared, Abra was nowhere to be seen. Only Raichu stood in the middle of the field, panting and trembling on all four of his paws.

“Hey!” Surge shouted. “Where’s that abra?!”

William, who lowered the arms he was using to shield himself, smiled innocently and pointed at the ceiling. Surge gradually glanced upward, only to see a patch of gold and brown clinging to a light fixture that hung directly above his raichu. In the quiet of the gym, he could hear the soft scrape of the pokémon’s claws on metal and the whoosh of the tiny fox’s body slipping through the air. Raichu turned his dark eyes towards the sounds, but his muscles had already given out. He could do nothing but tremble on his paws as the creature cut through the air and landed squarely on him with a thud. The mouse emitted a strangled cry as his opponent neatly bounced off his head and landed daintily on all fours. A small grin stretched across Abra’s muzzle as he watched Raichu’s legs collapse, sending the rodent flopping onto his side.

Every human except William stood in stunned silence for a moment before the referee lifted one of her hands.

“Raichu is unable to battle!” she cried. “Abra is the winner!”

The fox vanished from his spot and immediately reappeared on William’s shoulder while the boy put his hands on his hips and sent Surge a confident glance.

“Well. It looks like I’ve won,” he said.

Before Surge could do a thing, one of his trainers stepped forward. “You didn’t do nothin’, pipsqueak! What was that?!”

At that, William shot a glare at the trainer. “Battle of exhaustion. I knew I wouldn’t win if I took Raichu head-on, so I had Abra wear it down first. The rest was just figuring out the best place for Abra to be to knock Raichu down and then having gravity do the rest. Simple really.”

“A gym match is supposed to test the trainer’s skill, runt! How’s that supposed to prove you’re strong enough to earn our badge if all you do’s sit back and wait for your opponent to get tired?”

“Seems to me like it proved plenty,” Surge said.

The trainer jumped and took several steps backwards. He stood at attention as the gym leader passed and only regarded him with a steady, serious gaze for a second. Then, he strode forward, addressing the trainer more than William despite the fact that he stared straight at the boy.

“Part of what every good soldier’s gotta know is how to plan out a strategy. Sometimes, outsmartin’ the enemy’s just as good as beatin’ them down with force, an’ this kid’s shown that enough.”

With that, Surge thrust out a hand and turned the gigantic palm up. In its center glittered his gold and ruby badge.

“Seems I underestimated you, kid. You earned the Thunder Badge, fair an’ square!” he boomed. “But before you take it, somethin’s on my mind.”

William — who had stared at the badge with wide, awestruck eyes — looked up at the gym leader at once. “What?”

“What’d you say to your abra at the start of the battle?” he asked. “How’d he know what to do when you didn’t tell him anythin’?”

“Oh, that?” the boy grinned and scooped the badge out of Surge’s palm. “I told him a raichu’s Thunderbolt was powerful enough to make a dragonite faint and that he can do whatever he wanted in the match so long as he stayed out of Raichu’s range.”

Surge’s eyebrows raised. “You mean you didn’t even order him to use Teleport to get the lights?”

William shrugged. “Well, I gave him ideas. While he was teleporting, I was looking at spots he could use. Abra have the power to read minds. He took a few suggestions based on where I was looking and what angles I thought he should use. It’s hard to do physics and watch a battle at the same time, so I thought physics was more important.”

At that, Surge frowned. He could feel his expectations sink like a stone. “Issat so? One other question, then. How’d you win against Saffron?”

“Same way.” William shrugged again. “I told Abra and Bulbasaur to do what they needed to do to disable the gym leader’s pokémon, and they did it based on my best suggestions. Abra did the Teleport trick on Kadabra. Ivysaur put Alakazam to sleep and drained him with Leech Seed because I told her the only hope she had was if Alakazam couldn’t attack. Very simple, really. I had to do it that way because it would confuse the gym leader and prevent him from guessing my strategies through reading my mind. In your case, I just did it because I could tell it would startle you based on how you reacted when I told you I won a badge from a psychic gym leader, and I was right.”

For a few seconds, Surge stared at the boy in another stunned silence. Then, slowly, he said, “You mean to tell me that you just let your pokémon do whatever they want, an’ that’s your entire strategy?”

“Well, not all of it,” William answered with a laugh. His voice regained that innocent edge, and once again, he looked like the young, harmless trainer who walked into the gym and challenged Surge so nervously. “My pokémon take suggestions. If they think a move would work better than the one I have in mind, they’ll use it instead, but generally, they’ll listen to me if I tell them which angle is best or if I tell them which weak points to exploit. I think it’s rather silly to do anything else; I know I wouldn’t like it if someone told me to do something when I know something else would be more effective.”

Surge’s stunned expression slowly shifted into an exasperated one. “Ya know that’s not how the League wants you to battle, right, kid?”

William grinned and shrugged for the third time. “Well, I always thought the League’s rules were stupid anyway. Thank you for your time, but I really must go. It was a pleasure battling you!”

Before Surge could say another word, William shook the man’s still-outstretched hand before he turned and trotted out of the gym with his badge in his pocket. The gym leader, still lingering in his half-destroyed gym, was left to wonder whether the boy would be the greatest or the worst thing to happen to the Pokémon League.

Luckily, six months later, the Viridian gym leader took care of that.

Thoroughly.
Holmes: Punch me in the face.
Watson: Punch you?
Holmes: Yes! Punch me! In the face! Didn't you hear me?
Watson: I always hear "punch me in the face" when you're speaking, but it's usually subtext.
- Sherlock, "The Scandal in Belgravia"

The girl responsible for this atrocity to mankind. And this one. And these
Reply



Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread:
1 Guest(s)