So I guess I’ve made a friend. His name is Keith. He’s tall, Asian, and pretty cute, I guess. We make small talk for a while, him kneeling on the booth of the table in front of me. Obviously he’s just some random stranger, but it’s nice to just chat with someone. It takes my mind off things.
“So have you been a trainer long?”
“Kind of,” I explain. “I have two Pokemon, and I’ve had them for a while, but they were more companions than anything else for a long time…”
“I see,” he says, nodding. “I was like that at first, but I’ve been training my guys for a while now.”
“What about your friend?” I hadn’t noticed anyone with him when he sat down, but I wasn’t really paying attention.
His words are interrupted by what sounds like an explosion on deck. The whole ship shakes for a moment. I put my hand on the window to steady myself. Keith stands, looking out the window.
“God damn it,” he mutters, stepping out of the booth. “We’re not even at the mainland and this kid’s already causing me trouble.” He walks in a quick pace towards the door. On impulse, I stand as well, following him outside.
The scene is bad. Not as bad as it had looked from the cabin, but still bad. There’s smoke and dust everywhere, and there’s a commotion around the subject of my attention.
He looks more surprised than anything. He’s not shaking or crying. He’s just standing there. His eyebrows are raised, his hands are closed in loose fists. Some dust is settling in his hair and on his shoulders, but he doesn’t seem to notice. He’s captivated by what he’s watching. I hear my new friend Tess walk up behind me, and turn to look at her. Her eyes are fixed on the same thing.
In front of Jacob shines what can only be described as a strange sort of light show. His Aron stands in the center of a miniature crater in the floorboards on the ship, about five feet wide. The Pokemon stands in some sort of battle stance, its small body heaving with each breath. The aspect that is drawing everyone’s attention is the Aron’s eyes.
To say that the Aron’s eyes are glowing doesn’t accurately describe the situation. It’s more as if something is leaking from it’s eyes, like the little Pokemon is so full of power that its dripping with the stuff. Neon yellow-green energy dances outward from it’s abnormally large eyes, flickering like fire. As I watch it breathing heavily, I notice some faint clouds of what appears to be the same stuff wafting from its mouth. The light coming from the Aron casts a sickly yellow light on the onlookers, who continue to crowd forward to try and see what’s going on.
At the edge of the crater, opposite the side where Jacob stands, lays an unmoving bundle of gray fur, stained dark red in spots with blood. A poocheyena, I realize. It’s owner stands behind it, a girl around Jacob’s age. She’s shaking, her mouth covered by her hands. “What…” She says, muffled by her hands. “What did you do?! You crazy bastard!” She runs forward to her Pokemon, scooping it up in her arms. “Maizy! Maizy, come on…” She starts crying, but the Pokemon begins to stir in her arms.
I step towards Jacob. He doesn’t notice me until I’m close to him, and when he does his head snaps towards me suddenly.
“I don’t know…” he says, struggling to find his words. “I don’t know what happened…I just-”
His words are interrupted as he turns back toward the girl, who’s walking quickly toward us. The Poocheyena is gone, but she holds a poke ball in her left hand that I assume must be holding it. Her other hand is clenched into a fist, which tightens as she stops in front of us, glaring at Jacob.
“You piece of SHIT!” She screams, sending her fist flying straight into Jacob’s gut. He recoils, coughing and stepping back. She winds up for another shot, but I step between her and my companion.
“Hey now, hold on a second.” Her fist stops, and she lowers her arm. I’m relieved, having half-expected her to punch me, as well. “Listen, whatever just happened here was clearly an accident. He had no idea that…THAT could happen. Your Pokemon’s alive right? So just let it go.”
She shifts back a little, resting her weight on one leg. Her eyes are still angry. “Who the hell are you to tell me what to do? It’s not your goddamn problem.” With a huff, she turns, walking quickly away, most likely to find First Aid for her Pokemon. With an exhale, I turn back to Jacob. He’s standing upright again, his face devoid of any emotion. He stares fixated at the floor. I’m about to ask him what happened, when Tess’ voice cuts through my thoughts.
“Um…Keith? His Pokemon…”
I turn to look back toward the crater. Tess is kneeling down in the center of it, tentatively poking Jacob’s Aron. The glowing aura is gone, and the Pokemon is laying on its side, sound asleep.
What have I gotten myself into? I repeatedly ask myself this as I watch Keith’s friend, a quiet kid around my age named Jacob, returns his Aron to a poke ball, and as Keith walks forward.
“Jacob…can you tell me what happened here?”
“I didn’t know…” The kid speaks very quietly. Something in his voice is both a little creepy and a little scared. It’s clear he has no idea what happened to his Aron. “Can we…can we go back inside?”
“Sure.” Keith glances over at me. “this is Tess, by the way.”
Jacob notices me for the first time, and I’m amused to notice his face redden a little. “…hi.” he mutters, and I give him a small smile. He just turns away. He says something I can’t make out, and Keith shrugs and nods. “I’ll be back in a bit,” he tells me, and the two of them walk back to the cabin. I guess I’m not welcome. I’m not sure why I would be.
I turn back to the battlefield that my new acquaintance and his Pokemon have created. Two crew members have arrived on the scene and are surveying the damage, but most of the onlookers have lost interest and moved on. I wonder if Jacob will face any repercussions from this. I hope not.
When I followed Keith outside, the first thing I noticed about Jacob had been his face. His expression was stony, emotionless…all except his eyes. His eyes showed a surprised sense of uncomprehending fear, as if he not only didn’t know what had happened, but he had momentarily forgotten where he was, what he was doing. It was only there for a moment, but it was just enough. Maybe he doesn’t know a lot about Pokemon. Maybe he’s a new trainer. Maybe he only just received his Aron. Whatever the reasons, Things are getting interesting quickly. And I have to admit, it’s a nice distraction from Kara. At least I’ve made a friend…but with the catch of his strange companion.
I walk over to the rail, leaning forward and resting my arms on the cool metal. I watch as the open sea passes by. I remove my hat, letting the cool ocean breeze blow my hair every which way. I probably look like a mess, but it feels nice. I reach into my pocket, producing Charybdis and Rosa’s poke balls. I release the two of them onto the deck. Charybdis, due to his shape, flops awkwardly onto his side, while Rosa waddles around on her stubby legs, gazing curiously at the ship. I kneel down, picking Charybdis up.
“okay guys, you want to go for a swim?” Charybdis wriggles around in my hands, and Rosa makes a little excited hop towards the rail, stumbling over the edge. Charybdis wriggles his way out of my hands, springing up and over the rail to join his friend. I watch as they race each other, keeping steady pace with the ship.
Thinking about my situation isn’t the most friendly prospect at the moment, but it’s one I have to accept and deal with. Kara’s gone, but I’ve already met someone who seems friendly. I don’t really know if I can trust him, of course, but he’s someone recognizable, and that’s a good start. I don’t really want to try going it alone on the mainland, and even two people I don’t know is better company than nobody at all.
Suddenly, he’s beside me. I guess I didn’t notice him approaching, but now he sits up against the rail, facing me with his back to the sea.
“Oh, hi.” I stammer, a little startled by his apparent stealth.
“Hi.” He looks uncomfortable - emotionally, not physically - but like he really wants to tell me something.
“So,” I say, looking back at my Pokemon. “What was that back there?”
He sighs, shifting his weight to propel him off the rail. He stands there, shuffling his feet.
“It’s a little on the complicated side.”
“I have time.” I say with a shrug. He smirks.
“Well…I can’t really say I know him all that well. We only met just recently. We’re kind of just traveling together because neither of us want to travel alone. He seems to be really alienated from people, and so I suppose I took pity on him. That said, there are some…trust issues. The more I see of him, the less I understand, and him…well, I don’t think he’s ever trusted anyone, by the way he acts.”
This strikes me. He knows just as little about Jacob as I do. By the same token, he barely knows me, just as I barely know him. The three of us are basically complete strangers. But one thing still nags at me.
“So does that mean you don’t know what happened with his Pokemon?”
“He won’t tell me. I mean, I think he will eventually, but right now he’s refusing to say a word. He’s sitting in the cabin.” He gazes back towards the cabin. “I know this sounds a little odd, but maybe having a second person with me would help me get some answers out of him.”
“Why me? Wouldn’t having another stranger there just make him want to talk less?”
“Well…” he says with a shrug. “The whole reason he and I met was because he noticed me, and I made some kind of impression on him. I hope this doesn’t come across as creepy, but I think you’ve already made an impression too. After all, he was the one who noticed you in the cabin earlier. Having more people he recognizes seems to make him a little more comfortable.”
So I’ve made an impression on this kid? Me, Tessa Baker, 16 year-old novice trainer from Pacifidlog town, made an impression on a withdrawn, antisocial kid from Dewford? If it’s true, I can’t help but feel a little bit flattered.
The situation’s a strange one. A boring, normal girl meets two strangers, a boy and a man. The boy notices the girl because she looks just so sad and lonely, and he pities her. His friend approaches her for him, and she is charmed. The more the man opens up, the more mysterious the boy becomes. And all the while, none of these three people really know each other. They’re just three strangers, each of whom needs one of the others for some reason. Boy needs man because he doesn’t want to be alone anymore; man needs girl to talk to boy; and girl…I suppose girl needs both of them for the same reason boy does. For the simple sake of companionship.
“Okay. Let’s go talk to him.”