BY INVITATION ONLY Pokemon: Shiretown Trainers! (IC)


Toad of Toad Hall
Shiretown Trainers

The song of sunrise echoed through the hills and trees as the sun crested the horizon of Shiretown, a small village in the southwest corner of New Johto. Professor Shrub tossed her blankets across her room and with a delighted smile she threw open the curtains to bask in another beautiful day in a world where the magic and mystery of pokemon waited to be discovered. "Today is the day!" she looked at her calender, the current date was circled in red marker in a obsessive manner, "New trainers will embark on a great adventure, and I get to personally work with the man who changed everything we know about pokemon", her heart fluttered with excitement as she daydreamed. Shrub donned her horn rimmed glasses and her lab coat before rushing down the stairs to the kitchen and living space area.

"Good Morning Azumarill" she smiled at her pokemon companion, it had a little pink bow around it's left ear, "Azu-maaarill", the blue water pokemon waddled to the kitchen table and took a seat across from the professor. "Is Brent awake yet?", Shrub asked her friend as toast popped out from the toaster. Azumarill directed her gaze at the front door and mimicked walking with her arms going up and down, "Azu Azu", she responded calmly. "Ah I see, out for a walk?", Azumarill nodded, "Well I hope he had some breakfast because we have a big day ahead of us!", she took a bite of her toast, "You, Brent and I are going on a great adventure with some other brand new trainers in the Kanto region", she scanned the table for a moment, "Have you seen my phone?", Azumarill got up from her chair and opened the refrigerator, the pokemon grabbed the phone and placed it on the table in front of her trainer. "Silly me, I must have left it in there last night when I got a glass of milk... I would lose my head if it wasn't for your Azu", Shrub smiled at the pokemon, but Azumarill tilted her head to the side, confused by the turn of phrase.

Shrub unlocked her phone to reveal a wallpaper of a selfie with herself smiling and Brent play a game on his NINTENDO Switch, focused on the screen inattentive to the photo being taken. She opened the PokeGear messenger app and added her three interns to the message. First was Sprigg, originally from Kanto and currently living with her grandparents, bright young woman who could bring lots to the study of pokemon, seemed sheltered but that will soon change. Next was Clint, his mother Gloria was the Shiretown Gymleader, she disappeared a few years ago and the gym is currently boarded up, he lives with his father and is really enthusiastic about becoming a trainer. Lastly was Brent, he was orphaned at a young age and he had been living with Shrub ever since, he didn't seem very interested in pokemon or becoming a trainer but she was hoping to change that with the Pokedex challenge. The text message read:

<Good Morning Everyone! This is Professor Shrub in case you didn't have my number already. We will be meeting at 11am at the pokelab for a lunch icebreaker and then we will hop onto the S.S Wendy for our adventure in the Kanto region! I'm excited to work with each one of you and so are the pokemon I have chosen to be your first companions. Anyways, I'll be at the lab early if you want to stop by with any questions! See you all soon :) >

Smiling, Professor Shrub set her phone down and cleaned the table. She fixed her hair in the mirror by the door and put on her sandals, "Okay Azu, time to go to the lab!" she called to her friend. Azumarill looked at her perplexed, "What's wrong?", Shrub asked the pokemon. "Azu-marill", the pokemon let out a small sigh and tapped her friend's naked legs. It was then that the professor realized she was about to walk out of her home not wearing any pants, she laughed. "You're right, I should probably put on pants".

Azumarill giggled.
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Brent had woken up before sunrise. His back was against an end wall of a renovated mini-mall, to keep in sync with the Poke-culture. His headphones were in deep in his ears, and eyes darted over the screen of his game console as he crunched inputs. A long breath went out through his nose, then snapped off the console abruptly. Brent's head felt like it was being microwaved, swimming in his skull of what had melted. He hadn't eaten anything since last night, and last night he had only picked at and nibbled a morsel of the celebratory supper.

His mom assured that everything would turn out fine. He had been told a month in advance, and she'd leave brochures of locations to try and get him excited. She even teased him about perhaps finding a special someone on his journey. He crossed his arms and folded his legs, gripping against his black fleece long sleeves. The cold of early morning massaged his forehead, while the rest of his body was shielded by his clothes and pose. He wiped tears from his eyes and pushed himself up. He turned around and kicked the wall. He put a cold hand over his hot forehead.

Not everything had to be about pokemon. The mini-mall certainly wasn't that way, long ago. There used to be a movie/rental store, a dry cleaner, and a nice bakery. After the strip mall had been bought out, it was now the boring chain of PokeMart and PokeCenter, with human needs and interests being the mere backdrops to Pokemon. Still, Brent favored the old brick wall over the nearby wilderness. Wild pokemon rarely went near civilization.

His mom had offered her Pokemon as rentals, but Brent adamantly refused. He never told her about the bullies that would rough him up at this place, teasing him for not having Pokemon, taunting him to steal Pokemon at the lab to fight with. This was despite knowing Brent didn't care or know much about Pokemon despite being the Professor's lab assistant. Sometimes their small Pokemon would join in, clawing and biting his arms and legs, when he had worn t-shirts and shorts. Although the place was a source of pain for him, it was still his sacred spot. Not once did he give the bullies the satisfaction of a fight.

Professor Shrub saw him while on her walk to the lab with Azumarill and she called out his name, but he didn't respond.
"Brent?" Shrub repeated his name, calling for him.
"Here mom." said Brent.
"Did you get something to eat for breakfast?" said Shrub. "You don't look well."
"I'm fine mom."
"Are you sure? I can get you something at the Mart."
Meat filled buns from the Mart were garbage compared to the old bakery ones, but to allay suspicion that nothing was right about today and to get her to stop asking questions, he nodded his head.
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The faint sound of clattering plates and pans stirred Sprigg awake from her restless sleep. Despite preferring to sleep on her back, she lay splayed out on her stomach, with an arm and leg limply hanging off the edge of the bed. The blanket, which was half on her body and half over the bed, slipped onto the floor as she rustled.

Brushing her hand against her cheek, she pulled herself out of bed and picked at the drool and a tendril of hair which had stuck to her face. She showered and dressed quickly, pulling her messy mop of hair back into a braid. As ringlets popped out of the twist, she let out a long, frustrated breath knowing by the end of the day, it would return to its natural poofy state.

"Sprigg," Grandma Ida called from downstairs.

"Be right there!" She wiped a few pieces of hair from her face and then raced down the stairs.

Grandpa Blaise was in his chair, rocking slowly while reading a book on the patio. The early morning sun shone through the glass, and as it trickled into the kitchen, dust particles glistened when hit just right by the light. Laid out on the table was an array of food: apple cinnamon oatmeal, an assortment of fruit, and garden veggie omelettes. As Sprigg took a seat, Ida set a plate of ribeye on the table. Grandpa liked his breakfast steak.

Just as she reached for an omelette, her phone buzzed. She grabbed it quickly, reading over the message and giggled. <As if I didn't already have your number :p> she teased, sending a response back.

"We're meeting at 11, gotta go!"

Ida put a hand on Sprigg's shoulder, pushing her back down. "Sprigg, it's only 9." It wasn't the time she was really concerned about. Part of her was sad, hesitant and worried to see Sprigg go away on such a long trip. Since the disappearance of her parents, they took great lengths in protecting her. It was their job as her new caretakers, not only sheltering her from the outside world, but emotionally harboring her too. For years now, Sprigg had asked them to give her some slack, to let her venture on her own. She had never been alone before or left to her own devices. She was becoming a young woman, and really, she should be able to have that freedom. Sometimes people needed to grow and experience the world for themselves, and this was the first step in making that happen. Luckily, Ida trusted Shrub. It made the decision easier, and she knew her granddaughter would be taken care of.

Sprigg gently removed her grandma's hand from her shoulder and stood back up. "I can't be late."

"It takes 20 minutes to walk to the pokelab," Blaise walked into the kitchen, setting his book on the table.

"I'll take a detour. Bye!" She grabbed a piece of fruit and stuffed it into her mouth as she ran out the door.

"Be safe!" "Have fun." "Don't talk to strangers," her grandparents called out through the crack of a kitchen window.

"Byyyyyyyye," Sprigg waved, looking back at the home she was leaving behind.

It was a small, quaint cottage nestled behind a hedge wall. A long path cut through the property, with magost berry trees scattered throughout. One of her favorite features about living here was the long path that lead into town and the walks up and down it. Isolated from the hubbub of town, it made her feel closer to nature, sometimes pretending she lived in the woods or up in the mountains.

She held her book loosely in her arms, jotting notes as she walked aimlessly through the town: how many gulls there were at the dock, the number of cracks in the sidewalk in front of the community center, what direction the wind blew the overgrown weeds and flowers at the rundown gym, and finally, the pokelab. Without looking away from the lab, she scribbled what she felt standing before it. Hopeful. Overjoyed. Excited. Overwhelmed. Eager and - reaching up, she gripped the locket in her hand. Determined.

'I'm coming for you.. Taking a deep breath, she took a confident step forward.

Once inside, she had no idea what to expect. She didn't know who the other trainers were or what they looked like, and she only briefly met Shrub. Looking around, she didn't see the purple permed professor anywhere. 'I thought Shrub would be here already,' her eyes glanced down at her pokegear. 10:06. 'Hmm, maybe I didn't take as long of a detour as I thought.' She took a seat at the table, turning the locket between her fingers as she waited.


Toad of Toad Hall
"Arcanine quick, use Fire Blast!" Clint commanded as he watched his fire type pokemon breathe a powerful flame attack at its opponent, the large pink pokemon with a curly tail known as Wigglytuff. "Now finish it off with Take Down!!", Clint pointed his finger with determination and Arcanine pounced on the Wigglytuff and hurled it outside the pokemon league ring.

The stadium speakers crackled with excitement and the crowd cheered, "The Shiretown Pokemon Master does it again! Clint wins! Flawless victory!", the crowd stormed the stage and lifted Clint in the air, they cheered and his name echoed all around, "Clint! Clint! Clint!", and then "Earth to Clint", huh?, Clint looked around to see where the voice was coming from. Instead of finding the source of the voice, he found himself locking eyes with a gorgeous woman with long crimson hair in an extravagant white dress that hugged her curves, she held a portrait photo of him and handed Clint a permanent marker. "No problem beautiful", Clint smiled, signing his name surrounded it with a heart, "How about you and I go celebrate over some drinks and burgers?", he blushed as he looked into her piercing brown eyes. The woman opened her mouth to respond, "MACHOOOKE!".

Clint snapped awake stunned and was confronted by his father's Machoke, the fighting type pokemon. The extremely buff pokemon was on Clint's bed directly over him and stared awkwardly only inches from the teenager's face. Clint's father, Cliff, howled with laughter in the corner of the room "Although I'm sure Machoke is flattered, I just don't think you're really his type", he wiped his eyes from tears of laughter, "Rise and shine Pokemon Master, it's almost lunch time... aren't you leaving on your pokemon adventure today?"

Flabbergasted, Clint fell from his bed and reached for his PokeGear on the side table beside his bed, "It's 10:30!!", his heart jumped from his chest and pounded with intensity when he read the Professor's text message. "I need to go right now Dad!", he ran to his closet and put on his clothes faster than a Jolteon's quick attack. Clint is going to start his pokemon adventure today and set out with Professor Shrub and two other trainers to the Kanto Region. I wonder which pokemon Professor Shrub will give me, I hope the other trainers are super cool, Clint thought to himself as he scanned his room for his backpack, "Have you seen my bag!?"

"I already packed it for you, it's by the front door", his dad replied. Clint raced down the stairs as fast as he could and slipped on his runners, he needed to hurry up if he wanted to make a good impression. "Wait son, hold your horses" his dad put his hand on Clint's shoulder, "We got something for you", he nodded to Machoke and the fighting type pokemon held out a gift-wrapped box. "Go ahead open it", Clint's dad encouraged, "MAAAACHOKE CHOKE", Machoke also encouraged. Clint opened the gift quickly, he lifted the lid of the box to reveal a brand new baseball cap, a jet black hat with the pokemon league 'L' in green on the front and a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses. Clint was overwhelmed, the gifts were perfect, he felt like he was going to cry but held back his tears. He looked to the family portrait next to the door, resting on the wall, in the picture he was 5 years old and behind him was his Mom and Dad with his Mom's pokemon gym in the background. Clint's mother Gloria was wearing her signature mirrored aviators, the same brand and style as the pair he had just received.

"If your mother was here, she would say she was proud that you're about to start on your pokemon adventure", Clint's dad said with a serious tone, "Machoke and I look forward to hearing about all the cool pokemon you find on your journey and we will be paying close attention for any news about our reigning champ", a pokemon popped out of a pokeball on his dad's belt, "Goldeen goldeen", Cliff's goldeen floundered around on the floor, his dad chuckled and scratched the back of his head, "Goldeen is excited too I guess". Clint smiled, "Thanks you guys, I won't let you down", he put on his new hat backwards and placed his new sunglasses on before putting on his backpack, his fishing rod poked out the opening in the back. "How do I look?" he posed with his hand on his hips and chest out as he stood by the door. "MA-choke!", Machoke gave an enthusiastic thumbs up and his father took a picture with his phone, "Like a winner", his Dad grinned, "Now get going, you don't want to be late".

"Right", Clint nodded his head and opened the door. He looked back to his father and the pokemon, gave a quick wave and jumped off the porch into a run straight to the pokelab. "Don't forget to call once in a while!", his Dad called out after Clint.

Bring her back home...


* * *

Meanwhile, Professor Shrub, along with Brent and Azumarill, opened the doors to the pokelab only to find Sprigg standing in the foyer. "Sprigg!", the professor exclaimed, "So sorry I wasn't here to greet you as soon as you walked in! Let me show you around! Follow me!", Shrub ran past Sprigg and opened the main door to the lab. There was an array of computers, microscopes, and other scientific tools and documents strewn all over the place. There was a Magikarp in a fish tank attached to a computer that displayed a graph of several columns, a table with a variety of feathers in ascending order of size, and last was a large tubular container with a strange purple gas with green tendrils... just to name a few.

"This is my lab! A place of wonder and mystery, much like the world of pokemon we are about to experience on our grand Pokedex Adventure!", Shrub danced with enthusiasm around the counters and tables, she pointed sporadically in directions and called out the purpose of several rooms attached to the lab; storage, pokemon training, a kitchen, and machines that healed injured pokemon, it was hard to keep track as the words ran out of her mouth faster than the ear could keep up.

Professor Shrub sipped from her coffee, allowing silence to grab hold of the room. Azumarill pulled on her lab coat,the pokemon patted it's tummy and made a gesture pointing at it's wrist indicating that it was time to eat. "Oh right...., Brent, this is Sprigg, Sprigg, Brent, Brent Sprigg- OK time for lunch and we can become more acquainted", She clapped her hands, "Sudowoodo has been working all morning to prepare the best lunch in Shiretown!"

As if on que, there was a burst of sound at the front door of the lab, panting, Clint tried to catch his breath.

"Oh goodie!", Professor Shrub exclaimed, "Everyone is here!"

"Hey everyone", Clint adjusted his clothes, still wearing his sunglasses, "I'm Clint", he scanned the room and smiled at the girl with wild firizzy sage green hair he had never seen her before, and a boy he knew from school named Brent, he had no idea Brent had any interest in becoming a trainer, but it made sense given who his mother was.

The group stepped out into the backyard of the lab and found a large wooden table with a red and white plaid picnic tablecloth. On the table was each of the young trainers favorite foods and a large pitcher of lemonade.

"WOODO WOODO", An excited sudowoodo wearing a chef hat and a wide grin pulled out a chair and indicated to Professor Shrub to take her seat in front of what appeared to be a giant banana split.

"Shall we?", Shrub sat and smiled.
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Brent had seen Sprigg around before, but hadn't talked to her. While mom was enthusiastically giving Sprigg the tour of the lab, Brent had tuned it out. She was excited about the adventure he was going on. Clint barging in made the total amount of real aspiring trainers in the room from one to two. Brent had talked to Clint a couple of times at school, but not often, certainly not after it was clear that Brent had no real interest in pokemon.

As the whole group went to the picnic table to their assigned dishes, Brent realized that he sat across from his mom, and not beside her. From this perspective, he could see others in plain view, Sprigg to her left and Clint to her right, each with content looks on their faces. Taking a photo from his point of view made sense - there was no one out of place. Nausea took over again, the mart bun from earlier churned in his stomach.

He lifted the metal lid from his tray to reveal his favorite soup, chicken noodle, just like mom had said, alongside a whole package of saltine crackers. However, he noticed that it wasn't from a can like usual. It was clearly made by scratch, with thick noodles, fresh chicken bits, and a beautiful yellow broth. Sudowoodo looked at Brent expectedly, as though anticipating his first taste above the others. Brent found that somewhat odd. He'd see Sudowoodo frequently since Brent had basic stable duties. They had maintained an aspect of cordiality between each other ever since Brent was a youngster, but seeing Sudowoodo like this made Brent realize that he hadn't fully realized the extent of their unspoken bond.

Slightly intimidated of leaving a bad impression on the rest of the group despite the nausea, he gingerly lifted the spoon and started to blow on it to cool it. He then sipped it before his mom would've offered to put in a couple of ice cubes. A tear ran down Brent's face as he could feel the warm soup flow down into his cold body.

"It's not good?" said Shrub. Sudowoodo also looked slightly distraught.
"No, no." said Brent, wiping the stray tear from his eye. "It's really good. My compliments to the chef." Brent cleared his throat. "I'm sorry. Will you excuse me?"
He promptly got up.
"Your soup will go cold."
He was already out of view back into the lab. Shrub sighed. "Sorry about that. He gets that way sometimes." She proceeded to carve a piece of banana and get some ice cream and chocolate sauce on it, and put it on her tongue to savor the taste. It wasn't that she didn't want to follow Brent inside, but she knew it would only make him feel worse about himself.
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Toad of Toad Hall
Clint joined everyone outside at the picnic table and took his seat to the right of Professor Shrub, the girl with wild sage green hair sat across from him while Brent sat at the other end of the table to his right. As Sudowoodo lifted the covers for Shrub and Brent's meals he felt his stomach turn, then shortly after it emitted a loud growl. Due to all the excitement of the morning at his house he had forgotten to get something to eat. Sudowoodo removed the cover in front of Clint to reveal a enormous burger the size of his head, there were tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, melted chedder cheese, and bacon surrounding a steaming beef patty with a toasted pretzel bun. The steam fogged his aviators as he drooled and he removed the sunglasses in order to appreciate the masterpiece further. The burger looked so good that Clint felt that it would be a crime to eat it, Although on the other hand... it would be a shame to not eat such an amazing burger, he thought for a brief second before grasping the burger with both hands and his desire took over. The young man opened his mouth wide and widened it more in order to wrap his mouth around a hearty bite. The bite had all the rich flavours collide with the tastebuds of his tongue, the beef patty was cooked phenomenally and revealed the unexpected spicy zing of jalapeno. Tears welled in Clint's eyes as he made eye contact with Sudowoodo, he nodded to the pokemon and took another bite. He found himself captured by the meal, unable to break away his focus. Clint had not noticed that Brent had excused himself from the table until what remained of his burger was the few strands of shredded lettuce and drips of ketchup that lingered on the plate.

Though the professor didn't seem worried about Brent excusing himself, Clint felt concern and took out his pokegear from his pocket and sent a text message to Brent after copying Brent's number from the group text from earlier. >Hey dude, hope you're feeling okay, I know we don't talk much but I look forward to travelling with you and Sprigg<, the text was short and concise, however it eased Clint's concern when he pressed send.

Clint looked up from his pokegear and waited until Professor Shrub was finished her spoonful of banana split before asking her a question, "Thank you for the lunch professor, your Sudowoodo is a very talented chef! Will we be meeting our pokemon companions soon?"

Professor Shrub drank some iced lemonade, she smiled, "You won't be meeting your pokemon until we reach the Kanto region, I understand your excitement though, I personally chose the 3 pokemon who will accompany you guys. One grass type, one fire type, and a water type from Johto... people in Kanto will be very jealous because these particular pokemon are rare even for Johto".

Uuurgh I can't stand this mystery, Clint thought to himself, I wonder what pokemon they will be!, he listed several pokemon in his mind that matched the types but he struggled to figure out which ones made the most sense.

Shrub looked to Sprigg, "Sprigg is actually originally from Kanto, how are you enjoying your meal my dear?", Shrug smiled genuinely and poured herself another glass of lemonade, "Sudo honey, could you check on Brent? Maybe his stomach is upset".

"Sudo Sudowoodo", Sudowoodo removed his chef hat and made an elaborate bow to the table before exiting into the lab. "Isn't he so gosh darn charming?", Professor Shrub said with pride.
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Brent was in the first aid room of the laboratory, lying on an examination table with a small blanket over himself. After he had vomited out the mart bun and more, and flushed the toilet, he felt colder and emptier than before. It hadn't been a great start at all to the journey he was set upon. He heard a knock at the door, and as he got up, he saw Sudowoodo was there. Behind Sudowoodo near the entrance was the trolley that had been used to transport their dishes.

"Hi, Sudowoodo." said Brent, meekly. "Sorry about, you know, leaving early."
Sudowoodo walked in, placed the chef's hat on a hook, and hoisted himself on the table to sit beside Brent. He placed an arm on Brent's back and rubbed it. "Sudo." He didn't sound mad at all. They sat together in silence for about a minute.
"After all this time, we've really never talked to each other." said Brent.
Brent's stomach then rumbled.
"Sudo!" Sudowoodo exclaimed. He went back to the trolley and quickly set up another bowl of soup. Brent re-adjusted the blanket now draped over his shoulders as he gingerly held the tray on his knees. Brent smiled and after hungry spoonfuls of delicious noodles and broth, took the bowl to his lips and slurped down the rest. He then set aside the tray and wiped the tears from his eyes.
"Thanks pal."

His phone buzzed. Feeling better now than before, he was more receptive to the first message sent by Clint expressing his good wishes. He also saw the second message that caused his phone to buzz. He quickly replied with Clint's by texting < thx. stomach ache no worries >

< SS Wendy's docking in twenty minutes, so the rest of the party's leaving now. No matter what, I'll always love you. >
"That's our cue." said Brent.
The two promptly got off the examination table and Sudowoodo took out a hand to shake. Brent knelt down with arms wide. Sudowoodo, surprised, walked in, and got his first hug from Brent.

As Professor Shrub had predicated, the SS Wendy had arrived promptly at the twenty minute mark. The incident where Brent had abruptly left the table appeared to have been already glossed over. Brent, however, didn't initiate any small talk with either Clint or Sprigg, not sure what to say at all. They'd might be shocked to know he wasn't very knowledgeable about pokemon in the first place, and talking to them might make that extremely obvious. He did have his Switch on standby, but his mind was still spinning from the anxiety. When he saw the SS Wendy dock, he didn't expect it to be a cruise ship doing a layover. Promptly after docking, the ramp went down and the Captain was first to walk down it with military step and shiny black shoes expertly tied.

"Captain Horatio, at your service. Will those wishing to dock kindly move aside as to allow departures. Thank you, thank you."
Captain Horatio was tall and muscular, dressed in a military-style navy black uniform, with crisp white shirt and tie, and had rebellious, curvy, light red hair as he lifted his hat in a salute. Alongside him were two other crewmen setting up a simple rope fence as Horatio indicated with a baton a 'back' motion with eager passengers that would come onto the boat.
"Ah, Professor Shrub! How good to see you again."
"Likewise, Cap'n."
"And Youngster Brent! Well, not so youngster anymore."
"Hello, sir."
"I'm supposing these two are your new friends, Sprigg and Clint!" he exclaimed, shaking their hands enthusiastically.
"You memorized the passenger manifest." observed Professor Shrub coolly.
"You got me. Why not go on a private excursion with me after you drop them off?"
"You dog!" Professor Shrub chuckled, and hit him playfully on the chest. "I'm staying with Oak for research, silly."

Brent had stayed on deck to look at the calm, vast ocean that split the Pokemon regions cleanly. Their destination was in the Kanto region, a Pallet Town. There was talk that it had been the birthplace of the great Ash Ketchum. Even Brent had heard that name before - one of the greats. He then something pierce the water at a distance.

"Mom, look!" Brent exclaimed eagerly. It was only a silhouette. It looked like some sort of sea monster. It was blue, which was the same color as the ocean; the grey shell was slightly more visable in the distant light.
His mom looked over the rails too and looked genuinely surprised. "A Lapras! How wonderful!" She snapped a few pictures with her camera. "Too bad it's so far away. You keep your eyes open like that and you'll find lots of Pokemon."

The cruise helped much to clear Brent's mind. There were plenty of activities, and everyone on the boat was there to have a good time. There were a Pokemon out and about, but they too were just enjoying themselves.

The trip seemed to go by in a blink. Brent firmly shook Captain Horatio's hand as he disembarked from the ship. His mom and the others were already on land.
"Goodbye, Captain Horatio."
"See you around."
"One more thing." said Brent. "My mom would love to see a Lapras up close."
"Why are you --"
Brent smiled and ran down the ramp down to the mainland. They were all headed to the park where all three would finally receive their first pokemon. Sprigg would go first, followed by Clint, then Brent would get the last one. His mom assured Brent in private on the cruise ship that she was confident he would do well with any starting Pokemon.
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Toad of Toad Hall
When lunch concluded, Clint joined the others as they boarded the S.S Wendy and they were greeted by the red-haired beard of Captain Horatio, a grinning man filled with enthusiasm with a hint of salty air that lingered on his breath. The Captain peered into Clint's sunglasses, "You must be Gloria's son, I'd recognize those facial features on land and sea, take off those shades so I can get a good look at ya", Clint took off his sunglasses, "Ah, that's a good lad. You got the look of an ace trainer that's for sure. Ha! It took me forever to convince your mother to take off her sunglasses so her and I could be properly acquainted."

"Thank you Captain Horatio, nice to meet someone who knew my Mom", Clint hid his expression by putting his sunglasses back on, he wasn't ready to talk about his mother. "No problem", the captain could sense some tension and extended his hand and shook hands with Clint vigorously, "If you want to take a spin at the helm you know where to find me"
"Thanks I will", Clint looked to Professor Shrub who nodded her head in approval. Horatio also looked to Sprigg, "If you wish to come along the more the merrier!", he Captain exclaimed passionately.

The horn of the steamboat boomed across the ocean and the S.S Wendy left the dock of Shiretown, off on the start of their grand pokemon adventure. As the boat moved, Clint walked around the deck. On his walk Clint caught a glimpse of a Poliwhirl helping one of the members of the crew. He smiled at the pokemon and the Poliwhirl smirked and carried about its business, definitely accustomed to being around strangers. Clint had never seen a Poliwhirl and was amazed at it's strength, it aided the sailor in lifting a heavy crate and it reminded Clint of his father's Machoke back home. Captain Horatio snuck beside Clint casually, "Did you know that Poliwhirl and its evolved form Poliwrath can learn nearly every fighting type move? It is pretty amazing that a water type could be so versatile and be almost as strong as a Machoke.. that is unless you evolve the Poliwhirl into a Politoad instead, then the pokemon gets more complicated"

Clint looked to the side at the Captain and smiled genuinely, glad he shared that morsel of knowledge with him, "That's really cool! I think it is neat that pokemon can learn moves that aren't their type, makes me excited to train my pokemon to know unique moves to maybe give me an edge in a battle", Horatio stroked his beard, "Well if you ever need some tips on training water type pokemon, I'm your guy, used to be a trainer myself and I still battle from time to time", he paused, remember that he was needed at the helm, "Follow me to the helm and I'll show you how to surf the waves, and I'll answer some questions"

"Sure!", Clint adjusted his backpack on his shoulder and followed the Captain, "Maybe you can tell me some types of bait I can use to catch strong water types!", Clint's mind bombared with questions and he hoped he had enough time to ask them all. "It would be an honor", Horatio touched the brim of his hat and a glint of light caught a golden tooth near the edge of his smile.


The Shiretown trainers and Professor Shrub arrived in Palletown right on schedule and each bid farewell to the Captain in their own way. Clint exchanged pokegear phone numbers with the Captain and the Captain said he could answer more of his questions over the phone whenever he was docked.

Palletown was busy for a town, mostly due to its rise in popularity. There was a man at the dock selling Pikachu hats and pointed at the Ash Ketchum and Pikachu statue in the middle of town beside the Pokelab, he had snared a few tourists in sales-pitch and the Shiretown trainers slipped past him without incident. The streets were paved with fine sediment and was very clean, much cleaner than the ragged streets of Shiretown, not to say the streets weren't nice back home, but Clint noticed the small detail. In front of the statue, Professor Shrub chimed, "Instead of introducing you to your pokemon in a controlled environment... like a laboratory, my method involves introduction out in the wild!", she waved her arms around frantically, "So follow me gang! We will go to my favorite park in town. Mr Mime park!", she let out a huge smile and ran ahead. Clint jogged excitedly behind her, and looked back to see if the others followed.

Surprisingly, the park was relatively empty with only a few small children and parents lingering about, it seemed to Clint that the park was more obscure among the local kid population, although most kids his age who were uninterested in the outdoors or pokemon either played sports in arenas or stayed at home playing video games. The park was designed as a jungle gym with a large Mr. Mime head in the middle and its arms extending outward from the ground, a large slide extended from the mouth, mimicking a large pink tongue. There was also a small pokemon battle area painted in white on the grass nearby, "Isn't it wonderful?", Shrub exclaimed to the group.

Clint shrugged, it was unlike any park he had seen but he was more interested in the pokemon they were about to receive. Shrub led the group to a little grove like area off to the side with trees that made a crescent moon shape around them. Her back to the trees, the professor unclasped her briefcase and revealed 3 pokeballs, "Okay gang lets take a seat", she crossed her legs on the grass, and looked at each trainer intently, "I'm going to show each pokemon one at time and tell you it's type and name. I will then decide the order you get to pick", she winked at Brent subtlety but also not so subtle.

Finally, Clint was shaking with excitement.

Professor Shrub reached for a pokeball and with a red glow from the ball, it released a small, pale green Pokémon with a darker necklace of buds. It had a large head in proportion to the rest of its body with large red eyes that appeared to have no pupils. It had four short legs with a single nailed toe on each and a small tail. Its most distinguishing feature was the large leaf on the top of its head, longer than the rest of its body. "This is the Grass Type pokemon, Chikorita!"

"Chiko!", the Chikorita looked at the trainers and ran in a circle, excited to be out of the pokeball.

Chikorita image

"Next we have...", Shrub reached for another pokeball and released the second pokemon, a small, bipedal Pokémon with bluish fur on top of its body, and a milky color on the underside. Some features included the flames on its back, while its general body shape was shrew-like. Its eyes were often closed and it had a long, thin snout. It lacked claws on its forelimbs, but has a single claw on each hind foot. "The Fire Type pokemon, Cyndaquil!"

"Cynda-quil Cynda!", the Cyndaquil looked to the trainers and yawned, small flames appeared on it's back and subsided to give off a warm glow.

Cyndaquil image

"And third..", the professor pushed her glasses up on her nose with her index finger and released the third pokemon, a bipedal, blue crocodile with red spines on its back and tail. The spine on its back was larger with additional ridges and its head was large, with ridges above its eyes. There were two visible teeth on the tip of its upper jaw, and two rows of three teeth on each side of its lower jaw. On its chest was a yellow, somewhat V-shaped pattern that extended to its arms with a line bisecting the pattern. The pokemon had five sharp claws and three toes, Its eyes were red and surrounded by a dark blue or black pattern. "Totodile, the Water Type pokemon!"

"Dile Dile", the Totodile scanned the grassy area and bit down on a stray branch close by, breaking the branch with it's strong jaws.

Totodile image

All three of the pokemon played around happily in the grass with eachother, and Professor Shrub smiled. "I want Sprigg to be the first to choose", she looked at Sprigg knowing full well that Sprigg loved all pokemon equally and though it may be tough for the young woman to choose, after the decision Shrub felt that Sprigg would learn to be happy in her choice. "Next we will have Clint choose and last will be Brent, who will take the remainder pokemon. Though all these pokemon are different types, each of these pokemon have a large amount of potential! I captured each one personally."

"It's okay to take your time making your choice", Professor Shrub's pokegear buzzed and she stood up as she answered it, "Shrub here?, Oh yes, we are just in Mr. Mime park if you wanted to come by with the others in about 30 minutes, see you sooooon <3."
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Smiling briefly, Sprigg nodded towards Brent as the two followed Shrub into the lab. She wasn’t all that interested in the lab, to be honest. She wanted more to be down in the dirt, in the thick of the woods, and out in the wild experiencing pokemon than in some dingy isolated lab.

From behind, another trainer burst into the room. Her heart jumped from the sudden intrusion before giving a small wave.

As they stepped foot into the backyard for lunch, Sprigg felt like she could finally breathe again. She took a seat beside Shrub and adjusted herself in the chair, placing a hand over her stomach as it began to rumble. Looking around the table, her eyes laid on what was on everyone else's plate. Clint's burger looked juicy and delicious, topped with fresh ingredients that would give it a satiating crunch. Brent had a warm bowl of soup, the kind to make one want to cozy up on the couch with a blanket during a rainy day. She looked to Shrub, extending her neck to get a better look. "Is that…" she pointed her finger a few times, "a banana split," she pouted her lips. Abruptly sitting back in her chair, she wondered what awaited to be revealed beneath her silver cover. Rubbing her hands together, she lifted the cover and upon her plate...a cup of Brent's soup, a slider version of Clint's burger, and a half banana split. Sudo nudged Sprigg as he gestured to her meal. "It's...perfect!" Of course, she'd want to try everyone's meal. It was fitting she got a little bit of everything.

As the table ate their meals, Brent suddenly got up and excused himself. While she was concerned, her attention was quickly pulled away by Shrub's inquiry. "Oh.." she nodded her head and quickly covered her mouth. She didn't want to be rude as she talked with food in her mouth. "I'm enjoying it, quite. Thank you very much." She wiped her mouth with a napkin and then set it back on the table. "If the rest of our journey is as good as this lunch, I will be a happy girl," she beamed.

Before she knew it, it was time to proceed with their adventure.

Sprigg bore a big cheesy smile as they boarded the SS Wendy, saluting Captain Horatia as she walked passed him. "Ahoy Cap'n." Sprigg liked the idea of playing a pirate, though was far from it being they were on a steamboat.

Time seemed to pass quickly on the ship. The view of the ocean was beautiful and vast, the sound of the waves crashing into the ship was oddly calming and rhythmic. Sprigg spent most of her time watching the crew about the ship, studying how they tightened the ropes, scrubbed the wooden floors, and moved cargo and stores throughout the deck and down below.

She made her way to the side of the ship and looked over the edge, watching as the large paddlewheel turned in the water. Surprisingly, she wasn't nearly as seasick as she thought she would get.

From the corner of her eye, she noticed Captain Horatio and Clint making their way to the helm. Taking up the invitation from earlier, she joined them. As Horatio gestured to the wheel, Sprigg smirked. "Time to haul wind, savvy?" She looked to Clint and then took of running to try and beat him to the wheel.


Sprigg followed the group through town, trying not to get distracted by the bustle or differences from Shiretown. As Shrub talked about them meeting their pokemon soon, she grew excited but was followed immediately with disappointment when she learned they weren't going into the real wild. 'I suppose the park will do.'

She took a seat on the grass, cross legged and held her feet tightly in an attempt to keep herself still while Shrub talked and revealed the pokemon one-by-one.

She was taken aback sightly upon learning they were to pick their pokemon themselves, and they weren't just assigned. Even more so, when she learned she had first pick. The pressure was on. 'Which one do I choose?!' Her eyes darted amongst the three pokemon as they wrestled and played in the grass. She could see herself working well with any of the options, and selfishly almost wanted to just choose all three. How was she to know which option would be best for her? 'My father did have a Chikorita..' she remembered seeing him as a young boy in Johto with his Chikorita in family photos, but he no longer had it by the time she was born.

Chikorita played with sun spots that danced across the grass. As the spots flickered with the wind blowing the branches around, she tried fervently to smack them with her leaf.

Reaching into her pocket, Sprigg took out the remainder of the magost berry she grabbed from home and stuck it out towards Chikorita.

Chikorita's attention shifted to the berry, mostly because of the warm pink color. She cautiously moved closer, sniffing it a few times before quickly snatching it up. She rolled into a ball on her back and held the fruit between her feet. "Chik chik," she chirped with excitement.

"I think she likes it.." Sprigg spoke quietly, waiting for Chikorita. She was still unsure if Chikorita accepted her, inching a bit closer and extended her hand once again.

Chikorita took notice and rolled back onto her feet. She grabbed the berry in her mouth and trotted over to Sprigg. The trot was more of a sideways gallop, tripping over her feet as they moved too quickly for her awkwardly sized body. She dropped the berry into Sprigg's open palm and began to eat from it.

With her other hand, Sprigg rest it upon Chikorita's head, slowly petting her down the length of her leaf. "I think Chikorita chose me," she looked up to the two boys and Shrub with a smile.
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Toad of Toad Hall
Every nerve ran sporadically through Clint's body as he waited for his chance to choose a pokemon companion after Sprigg. He watched Sprigg intently as she rummaged through her pockets for a berry and placed it in front of the grass pokemon called Chikorita. Clever idea, Clint nodded slightly in approval, impressed with Sprigg's method in getting Chikorita to trust her. When Chikorita dropped the berry into Sprigg's open palm and began to eat from it, Clint felt his eyes welling up and was grateful he was still wearing his sunglasses. He smiled at Sprigg when she looked to him and Brent, then came to the realization that it was now his moment to choose.

Clint's eyes darted between the other two pokemon. The fire type pokemon Cyndaquil yawned and curled into a ball, whereas the water type called Totodile continued to gnaw on a branch. The Totodile locked it's gaze with Clint and at that moment, the young man decided that the water type would be the one he would choose. He had no idea what Totodile would later evolve into, but one thing Clint knew for certain was that he liked the way the pokemon looked at him. He's got the look of a fighter, Clint thought to himself as he removed his sunglasses and placed them on the collar of his orange shirt. "I choose Totodile", he beamed with excitement, proud of his choice.

While maintaining eye contact with Totodile, Clint crawled to the pokemon and extended his right hand to it. "I wouldn't do tha-", before Professor Shrub could finish, the jaws of the water type pokemon snapped down on Clint's hand, very hard. At first there was silence among the trees and grass, the distant sounds of children playing at Mr Mime park echoed as the group sat; surprised at what had transpired. "Aaaaaagh!", Clint howled and shook his arm wildly and Totodile flailed happily attached to it's new trainer. "Totodile will bite nearly anything it sees, including its trainer. Your Totodile must really like you Clint!", Shrub was enthusiastic and tried to calm the situation, "I know it must be really painful, but you need to set Totodile down and show it that you're it's friend."

"Alright I'll give it a shot", Clint winced from the pain and set Totodile back on it's feet. The young man looked at Totodile and tried to hide his agony, Clint then placed his left hand on the pokemon's head and massaged it gently, "That was strong bite Totodile, but its time to release me now."

Totodile looked up at his new trainer and gently took his teeth from Clint's hand. "Dile Dile", the pokemon nuzzled his trainer's leg as Clint clenched his right hand. The bite had gone deep and blood leaked through two fang-size holes in the back of the hand and another two in the palm. Professor Shrub shuffled in her briefcase and took out a small first-aid kit with a Chansey on it, she then treated Clint's wound with an alcohol wipe, sprayed it with a healing salve, and wrapped his hand with a sterile linen wrap.
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Cyndaquil, left alone with nobody to play with, let his legs give out so its belly was on the ground. Brent walked over it and crouched on the ground. Cyndaquil looked up briefly before putting its head back down.
"They tend to curl up in a ball when they're intimidated." commented Professor Shrub.
“What fool dares awaken me, the great Laharl?” Brent quoted. Only after did he remember Professor Shrub wouldn't get the reference from the Disgaea series; he was playing the latest one on his Switch prior to the journey he was about to undergo.
Cyndaquil turned its head to Brent. Brent said, "Cyndaquil?" It turned its head back. "Laharl?" It turned its head again.
"Looks like that's his name now." chirped Professor Shrub. Brent sighed. He hadn't meant to. "Go on." Shrub continued, pressing him lightly on the back.
"No." said Brent coldly, abruptly. His mom's hand lifted off his back. "He's tired. How do I put him in the ball?"
"Oh." Shrub fished out the pokeball and held it with Brent. Just press the sides at the same time..." The beam was out of the Pokeball before Shrub finished, and Laharl returned. "and the beam will do the rest."

"Putting your pokemon away already?"
Across the field there stood a man older than his thirties in dress pants, shirt and vest. He was followed closely by three young teenagers of his own.
"Professor Oak!" exlaimed Shrub.
"Please." said the man. He lifted his hand beside his head, palm up, shrugging as he did so. "My grandfather is Oak."
"Professor Gary, then." said Shrub.
"Laharl's tired." said Brent, answering the challenge from before. "That's why he's in the ball."
"I like your style." said Gary, looking back to the three trainers behind him. "I wish more trainers would nickname their pokemon, and be more attentive to their needs."