2008 Contest entry: SoL category (Joint 3rd place)
Received: September 13th, 2008
And the last-minute entry is the very first fan fiction I've ever received! And what a story it is! It may be late, but it's great! You should really read it, if you've got the time. It's about Nami's background, before she joined Matt on his journey.
Marissa Seren let out a grunt of annoyance, resisting the urge to throw the red piece of equipment in her hands across the spotless room and watch it smash into the yellow wall, shards of metal and plastic flying through the air in a cascade of crimson and silver. Instead, still gripping the handle of the Pokédex-like device, she lay the analyzer on the small metal tray by her side, and glared almost accusingly at the creature before her.
The Pokémon lay on the small examining table, nestled snugly in the folds of polyester linen. It was absolutely tiny, its curled tail wrapped around its still form and its eyes still half-closed with weariness. The creature's tiny frame was covered in a thin layer of lavender fur, its snout and belly, which rose and fell with its quick breathing, were both a creamy colour, as were the creature's four paws. Its large ears twitched in its daze, and it clawed at its face for a moment, making its thin whiskers shudder. Marissa acknowledged that the young Rattata was cute, but that didn't impress her, nor did it change anything else.
Winding the elastic band holding her layers of long red out before putting her hair back into a ponytail, Marissa glanced over at the Pokéanalyzer's screen, which still showed the Pokémon's stats in glowing red numbers. It was a female, and had obtained the Egg Moves the client had asked for, and though her stats were decent, her base defence and speed weren't as high as had been requested. The young woman sighed, running her hand through her ponytail, as she had a habit of doing when exasperated. This Rattata had hatched from its egg only a few hours ago, and already its - er, her - future looked bleak. She wasn't wanted, and her fate would be the same as a ton of other Rattata, all unwanted because they didn't fit the strict criteria her client was looking for. She didn't even know the mouse Pokémon's nature; for all the breeder knew, it was the exact sort of nature that was being sought after, but since the Rattata's stats weren't perfect, she wouldn't even be given the opportunity to grow enough for Marissa to find out.
She tried not to care, she really did, but Marissa couldn't deny it; this was a tough job. Each egg was deeply cared for, kept warm, sometimes even talked to in the hopes that it would make the newborn feel accustomed to human voices. And yet in the end, you were wasting love on rejects, getting rid of nine out of ten hatchlings, if not more in cases like this. Marissa sighed and leaned down, folding her arms on the small bed, resting her head on top as if in defeat.
"I get too easily attached," she murmured, and began stroking the rising and falling hide of the small creature, who was now fast asleep, gently running her fingers through the mouse's soft fur. Marissa sighed. "At least we release you guys, now. D'you realize that Martin used to…to…" Even knowing that the Pokémon was asleep, and wouldn't understand anyway, Marissa had trouble saying the word. "He used to euthanize you poor things," she nearly spat at the word.
The breeder groaned sharply at the thought, and as if in response the Rattata's eyes snapped open, large, ruby eyes which sparkled in the fluorescent light of the examining room. Marissa clicked her tongue quietly, scratching the little mouse behind her ears.
"Raaaaa," the young Pokémon squeaked, looking up at the human before her, nothing but wide-eyed innocence. Marissa bit her lip, watching the mouse look around at the sterile, hospital-like room. The breeder had really tried to make it seem less like a hospital room and more friendly, painting the walls yellow with little flowers and Togepi rolling around, adding a potted plant, sandy-brown rocking chair and assorted soft toys on the ground, but it didn't make the room seem much warmer for the newborns that were brought into it. Not that it helped that large mechanical devices, lights and monitors took up most of the room, humming eerily and smelling more like disinfectant than sunshine and rainbows.
Marissa sighed, knowing that she was only delaying the inevitable, not to mention getting too attached, as she tended to do, in the process. Still, for one moment as she rested her head on her arm, watching the curious little baby, she couldn't help but imagine taking the tiny Rattata and keeping her as a pet. The little critter would scamper about the house with her pretty eyes wide with excitement, little nose sniffing at every little nook and cranny, and someday she would be given to Marissa's little baby boy when he was old enough to become a Pokémon trainer, and they would grin and laugh and tumble through the grass wrestling…
But then again, what kid would want to be given some common old Rattata, just another reject, whether bred in the wild or by a human, when they could get a rarer, technically stronger starter from a professor? Kids these days would prefer a Vulpix or impossible-to-find Eevee, or something imported from another region as a gift from their parents. The few who did want a Rattata or Pidgey wanted more than the common mongrels of the wild; they wanted a specific nature, above-average stats and great Egg Moves - why settle for anything less if a breeder could get one for you?
Not that Marissa could adopt another Pokémon anyway.
"Well, maybe you'll have better luck in the wild," the young woman murmured half-heartedly, running her fingers through her hair, eyes still set on the little Rattata, who gazed up at her curiously. With a sigh, she scooped up the lavender mouse in her hands, gently cradling her head as she squeaked in protest, and brought her to the holding room where she would be readied for transport to a safe place in the wild.
There wasn't really any way to prepare the little Rattata for what happened next.
Torn away from the familiar sounds and smells that had surrounded her since birth, she found herself landing on a foreign ground that was itchy under her fur, surroundings forcing strange scents into her nostrils, making her eyes water. Looking around frantically, she realized that she was in a crowd of others like her, pale green light shining in their purple fur and confused, fearful eyes.
Suddenly, a huge shadow loomed over the group, causing the young Pokémon to cringe instinctively. The Rattata looked up at the cause of the darkness and saw one of the creatures she was so used to seeing, carrying a hint of the scent she associated with home and safety. Realizing this, she, as well as multiple others around her, took an eager step forward to the creature that was the most familiar thing around them, the ground from which long, itchy stalks grew scratching under their paws, but it backed away in return.
"Ugh, this is the hardest part. Sorry, guys, but you're all on your own from here on out. Time to go your separate ways and…do whatever the heck you Pokémon do. Sorry, but that's the way life works." Though her ears perked at the voice, so like the voices she was so used to hearing, the little Rattata had no idea what the big thing was saying, but she couldn't help but stare up at it adoringly anyway. Looking up at its face, she tried to understand what emotion it meant to convey by scrunching up its eyes, mouth turned down as it regarded them.
"I don't even know why I bother," the creature huffed, looking away from the many pairs of innocent eyes staring up at him, then quickly retreated away in long, strong strides, mumbling too quietly to be heard. The group of rodents slowly made their way forward, but a sharp bang and a deep rumbling from nearby made them pause, fearful at the strange, loud sounds. Then the ground seemed to shudder, and as if breaking from a trance the little creatures cried out in dismay and, following deep instinct, scattered about in different directions, none knowing or caring where they were going. Only the female Rattata and a few others remained, still transfixed on a large black shape which seemed to be hiding the creature of familiarity, which, after emanating another series of strange sounds, slid away, shape becoming smaller and smaller.
"Ra!" she cried, ruby eyes widening as she realized with a sudden jolt that she was being left alone. No, this wasn't right - they wouldn't abandon her after all the kindness they had shown! There was a mistake, yes! Sure that she could fix it, the young Rattata sprang after the dark box-thing, still makings its odd noises, knowing that safety and comfort were just a few pawsteps away. She ran and ran, long, curled tail swinging after her as she dashed through the mysterious land, having to dodge around large brown things jutting out of the earth that seemed to jump out at her in her dash, and funny green things which she could sort of see through, but could not run through, since they scratched painfully against her skin under her fur when she tried to get through them.
But nothing stopped her! Still she gave chase, the box-thing like a ray of light calling to her. Yet the further she ran, the smaller it became until it was so small that she couldn't see or hear it anymore. Her run slowed to a trot; she was so tired! Her legs were hurting from the inside, her paws were brown and scratched up, and her chest felt too small, like something was trying to get out of it. Head swimming, the Rattata panted heavily, continuing to slow until she had come to a complete stop, body shaking. Then her legs suddenly gave out from under her, and she collapsed onto the ground, feeling the itchy green points rub against her belly.
"Rataaaaa," she wheezed, overcome by exhaustion; she had never run before - especially not like that! Everything was so strange and new; everywhere green, things with funny shapes sticking out of the pointed ground, bright blue stretching about in every direction high above her, soft white things drifting through, so unlike the white of the world she knew. Everywhere there were sounds and smells she couldn't identify; she had no words for the strong scents emanating from every single thing around her, and couldn't tell the origin of the rusting and Pokémon cries around her.
Where was she?
The lavender mouse awoke some time later, not even having realized that she had fallen asleep. Everything seemed darker now - sort of like when it was time to go to sleep at home when everything seemed to disappear in darkness, except she could still see around her; everything just seemed sort of orange. Was this what night-time was like here? She looked up, expecting to see the rectangular squares of light dimmed down above her, but instead she was reminded that it was blue above, but now it was a darker sort of blue than she remembered. One of the creatures from home had head-fur that looked a lot like this, she recalled. It was very long and soft, and she remembered nestling into it like a blanket one time, the smell so sweet that she could almost taste it in her mouth. The girl had put her hand on the Pokémon's back, petting her fur gently, scratching between her ears just the way she liked it. She had felt so content, so safe, and had never even dreamed of things being any other way.
A bout of loneliness suddenly overcame the little Rattata. She wasn't with them anymore, though. They were gone. The one from before had left them alone, to be by themselves, but she didn't know why. She had been abandoned. Her throat felt constricted all of a sudden, and she realized that something in her hurt, but she didn't know what. The Rattata looked about, not knowing what she was looking for, and her eyes began to sting, her vision becoming blurry until everything was just a veil of green. Tears fell from her bright eyes, and she couldn't stop them from rolling down her furry cheeks to plot onto one of the green ground-points. Her body shook as all the fear and confusion came flooding back to the weary surface of her mind, pouring out as liquid from her eyes. As the world around her became darker and darker, the little mouse found herself emotionally drained, and succumbed to sleep once again.
It had taken some time for the initial shock to subside, but once it had, the next day when a great round light hung in the blue above, the first thing that happened was that the young Rattata caught sight of a funny round thing on one of the green see-through-but-nots, carrying a nice, sweet smell that attracted the young mouse. With her tummy rumbling - she hadn't eaten since she'd been home - she scampered over to the berry, plucking it up with her small paws and lifting it to her face curiously. It was smooth and sort of squishy, and just the look of it made her mouth water. She took an experimental nibble, and immediately her taste buds were bombarded with juicy goodness, the flavour so much stronger than anything she'd ever eaten before. Sating her eager tongue and stomach, she gobbled the rest down quickly, feeling a great satisfaction in the food. Excited now, she looked around to see if there were any others, and to her utter delight, others were growing on the same see-through-but not!
"Tata, ra-ttata!" she cried gleefully at her wonderful luck, and had her own wonderful feast until she didn't see a single piece left, which was just as well considering how full she felt. Still, she couldn't help looking around, and squealed when she saw another bunch of interesting-smelling foods growing nearby, but in a different colour and shape. The normal type found, however, that these were nowhere near as good as the first things she had tried; they were bitter on her tongue, and she immediately spit out the big bite she had taken, discarding the bit of food and walking away. Well, she couldn't eat another bite, anyway; she was happily satisfied for now, and not for the last time.
"Yep, a human, saw 'em with me own eyes, I did. Ya best stay out of sight if'n ya don't wanna git caught now, missy," the Pidgeotto huffed, ruffling his wings impatiently. Though other Pokémon had a different way of talking, she could understand what they were saying, and had started to enjoy meeting and conversing with other inhabitants of the "forest," the place with the trees and bushes and sky and flowers was called. It was an entire foreign vocabulary to her, with the term "human" one of the newest she had learned. The big, friendly creatures who had once taken care of her, and the same ones who sometimes passed through and befriended the local Pokémon. They were pretty fun to battle, and fascinating to see…
"Oh, I seen that look in the eyes of many a creatures!" the bird screeched, digging his claws deeper into the bark on the tree branch as he glared at her smartly. "Make no mistake, missy; them humans can be a real danger, so you oughta stay clear of 'em! If'n you want a closer look so badly and get yerself in trouble, t'will be on yer own 'ead, it will! Some creatures be too reckless fer their own good. Heed my advice, my little friend," the Pidgeotto said, staring intently into the eyes of the Rattata below. Knowing it was good advice, she nodded, not trusting herself to speak lest her voice betray her unchanged intentions.
Satisfied with the simple response, the Pokémon nodded, spreading out his powerful tan and brown wings, and with a few strong beats was up in the air. He gave the Rattata one last meaningful look before turning and flying off, dancing through the maze of branches out of sight.
When he was safely gone, the lavender mouse gave a sigh. She enjoyed watching the humans that passed through, especially to battle them and find out what strange and new Pokémon accompanied them. They weren't so bad; they were actually quite friendly, and made for fun battles. Besides, Pidgeotto were territorial when it came to strangers passing through the area - that didn't mean she had to be, too!
As she assured herself, the normal type made her way to the Path - a long strip of grey that ran through the forest on which most humans travelled - and waited eagerly among the tall grass.
"You ready, then, Nile?" the human called out to the bipedal Pokémon, the sunlight bouncing off his bright blue scales as he stood facing the little Rattata at the ready. She couldn't help but like something about the boy - not because his head-fur was such a similar shade to her own fur, but there was just something about him, about his eyes and smile that made him seem so approachable, and maybe even nice…
"Let's do it!" the Totodile shouted back, excitement shining in his lavender eyes as he swung his spike-tipped tail about. The Rattata grinned eagerly.
"It may be just another Rattata, but let's make this battle count! Start off with a Water Gun!" he cried, pink hands curled into eager fists.
With a swift nod, the Totodile sucked in a deep breath and immediately spat out a stream of water, dousing the wild Pokémon in chilly liquid, making her squeal in shock and pain.
"Awesome! Another Water Gun!" the boy chanted, a smug grin on his face, but this time, the Rattata was ready. As she saw her attacker suck in another lungful of air, she quickly leaped to the side, the blast skimming by an inch away, water droplets flying from her wet fur. Before he could command another attack, however, the mouse used an ability of her own.
It was something she had always been able to do, and it was completely natural to her, yet always seemed to catch others off guard. Just by imaging being in multiple places at once, the Rattata seemed to split up and make it look like there were a dozen of her, confusing an enemy without fail. Humans were no better, and just like many before him, this one's jaw dropped in astonishment as he and the Totodile came face to face with an entire army of rodents!
"Woah, Double Team, that's not normal! Be careful, Nile! We gotta find the real one! Use Headbutt on as many of the Rattata as you can!" he shouted after regaining his wits.
"Well, that can't be too hard," the Pokémon murmured, a determined grin on his reptilian snout. Lowering his head and clenching his fists, the Totodile immediately launched himself at the nearest mouse. An expression of shock appeared on the copy's face, but immediately shimmered out of existence as it was charged at, not being the original. Turning around, he then proceeded to attack another, and another, but in the meantime, the true Rattata was slowly slinking into position behind her opponent, where she could get a clear shot at just the right moment.
With at least half of the copies gone, the Totodile turned around to continue, but before he could even brace himself, the Rattata attacked. All at once, the remaining mice leaped into the air, a spiral of brilliant flames surrounding their furry bodies, and all at once they rammed into the unsuspecting water type.
The Totodile cried out in pain as he was assaulted by the many fiery rodents smashing into his body, more from their sheer numbers than from the heat. "Nile! Are you okay?!" the human called out to his companion, the worry clear on his face.
"I'll live," he grunted in reply, glaring at the group of rodents before him as he struggled to remain standing.
"Good. That sure is one strong Rattata - they don't usually know Flame Wheel, do they?" the boy wondered out loud, then turned his attention to the Rattata, studying the group. The young female didn't see a reason to stop now, though. Looking around at the mirages around her, she decided they could go for another attack - why not? Grinning, they once again leaped forward, encircled by a fiery ring, and it was then that the boy's eyes widened.
"Nile, quick, Water Gun and then Headbutt the Rattata at the front of the pack!" he blurted excitedly. In the same heartbeat, the Totodile jumped at original mouse, who cried out in surprise as she was bombarded by a splash of water, dousing the flames and even slowing her with the powerful stream.
Letting out a cry of shock as she was hit, the other Rattata disappeared as she lost her concentration. It was during that brief pause that her opponent dove at her, head bent low, smashing into her tiny body with his strong skull.
Squealing in pain, the little mouse toppled to the ground. Everything seemed to stop; both Pokémon were panting heavily, and the human had an odd expression on his face. As she lay panting for breath on the grassy ground, slowly, he walked over to the violet ball of fur, casting a shadow over the Rattata, much like when the human had abandoned her, but this felt different. His face was softer, kinder, less detached than the other male. Slowly, carefully, he got down on his knees and reached down tentatively, putting his hand on her tiny heaving body. When she didn't wince away, he carefully stroked her soft, violet fur, so much like the way she had been petted as a baby. The Totodile cautiously came to stand by the boy's side, looking down kindly at the wild Pokémon, the intent to battle suddenly gone.
"You're something special, aren't you?" the boy said slowly, looking deeply into her bright ruby eyes as she watched his emerald ones with anticipation. He smiled hesitantly, then showed the young Rattata something in his other hand which she had only seen in small snatches before; it was a round ball, so shiny that she could almost see the sun reflected in its perfectly smooth surface, a pretty combination of ruby red and pure white, divided by a delicate strip of black.
Looking up at his gentle face, the little mouse's eyes widened in sudden understanding.
He didn't even have to explain; she knew what he meant to ask.
And her answer was yes.
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