"Log seven, day thirty-eight. Vulpix and I... suffered our first real defeat today. She was hurt badly, and I..."
There is a long pause in the recording before it cuts off altogether.
"Long seven, day thirty-eight, part two. Sorry about that, professor. Anyway, our winning streak was finally broken. Vulpix suffered from a cracked ulna, several cracked ribs, a dislocated shoulder, contusions to the head and back, various lacerations, and a concussion. I won't lie, professor, this scared me. The loss stung, but Vulpix's injuries... She'll be back at one-hundred percent in just a few days, which both relieves and awes me. That many injuries on a common animal? One as small as Vulpix? They would be on a long and hard road to recovery if they recovered at all. The whole thing dislodged some... unpleasant memories of home. I had a lioness..."
Again, there is an uncomfortable silence in the recording.
"Animals don't have the same higher brain functions we humans do. Much of it matches up to us, but others are nonsensical, even unthinkable to us. This is going to be greatly simplified or we'll be here all day, so bear with me. In large predators, they often have what's called K-selection reproduction, that's with a capital K, where they produce a small number of very valuable and resource-intensive offspring in response to a stable environment. The opposite, r-selection, is seen often in invertebrates and prey species, who have many 'cheap' offspring, so they can afford to lose several in their usually hostile environment and still continue the species."
"Does that sound callous? Sit down for this next one."
"Lions, one of the big cats I worked with, evolved to thrive in the harsh, arid land of Africa. They've taken an inhospitable environment and mastered it, but such a thing requires some extreme measures... Selective infanticide is one of them."
Birch clicks 'pause' on the recording and wheels his office chair back away from his computer, leaning back and looking up at the ceiling as he pretends Lee's words didn't rattle him. After several long minutes, he sits back up and hits 'play' again.
"To a lion, it makes no sense to keep and invest time into offspring that are unlikely to survive. Some abandon unwanted cubs, others... take a more violent approach. We had an incident back home some months back, after one of my lioness' gave birth to three cubs. Something we could not identify triggered her, and she... One didn't make it."
"It was all too easy to imagine Vulpix... No, I'm not going there right now."
"On a different note, I was surprised to see the healing machines in the Pokemon Center. They were always used as a convenient handwave for healing in the games, as no kid playing a video game would want to wait around for manual treatment and buying healing items all the time would be infeasible. Considering these healing machines, or I guess the proper name is 'Omni-Trauma Units' take much longer and according to Nurse Joy, only work up to a certain dosage before a pokemon's body begins to reject it, it's definitely not a handwave and explains the need for the Pokemon Center needing to address serious injuries manually. Visually, it looks similar to Heal Pulse, so maybe they were inspired by the move? I dunno, I'll research that. I was surprised absolutely none to find that the units are made by Silph Co, who still gives me dystopia megacorp vibes sometimes."
"In other news, I came dangerously close to outing myself as a... foreigner... like a moron. A dragon-tamer named Zinnia, who forced herself in our group, nearly caught me after I blurted some half-remembered line about her tribe, the Draconids. At first, I was reluctant to let her come, but she and her Shelgon were the ones who defeated Vulpix. She and her pokemon are strong, something that may be useful later. As much as the back of my mind is telling me it's a bad idea, the protection she can offer outweighs the risk just the slightest amount."
"We're setting out in the morning, and I've got to get to bed, so that's it for this one. Lee, out."
"Log eight, day forty-one... Fuck."
"I got my Treecko, and a Corvisquire, both on total accident yesterday. We finally made it to Petalburg Woods and began our way inside. For several hours it was uneventful. Or it was uneventful for Brendan and Zinnia, I was too enchanted by all the pokemon to really notice the time passing. Anyway, we stopped for lunch and Brendan's Shoomish wandered away. We found him by a ransacked Pecha bush, and the owner of said bush was not happy."
"This was the first time I've seen a Corvisquire. I vaguely recall his last form, Corviknight, from promos for the latest game, but other than that, he was a total unknown. I knew my meta knowledge was only going to get more and more unreliable, but this threw me for a loop."
"Corvisquire came down at Brendan and Shroomish like a missile, and in such a cramped clearing, only Vulpix had the agility to fight him, so we did."
"My Pokedex gave it's a little blurb about Corvisquire when I was identifying him, saying that his kind are masters of gauging an opponent. This guy came down, saw three humans, a Vulpix, a Shroomish, a Shelgon, and a Swablu, and decided fighting was a good idea. It didn't take long to figure out why. Even with me and Vulpix going full-tilt, Corvisquire kept pace, even taking a Will-o-Wisp to the back and getting up like nothing happened. It looked like we had the edge, then he busted out Extremespeed."
"I would call Vulpix fast. With Quick Attack, she can move so fast that her features blur together to the naked eye, making her little more than an orange, fox-shaped smear. Normally the whole 'move so fast you vanish' thing is a common occurrence in TV to signify someone moving quickly, but to actually see a pokemon be there one second, then be gone the next with the displaced air cracking loud enough to echo in the woods is... something else. I know there must be some trick to Extremespeed, because if my napkin-math is right, Corvisquire would need to move at roughly mach 50 to become invisible, and super-durability or no, I have a hard time believing a bird would not practically atomize itself at such a speed. The delay between his vanishing and his actual attack landing also points to Extremespeed not being mach 50... Unless physics here are different from my earth's. Shit, that's going to keep me awake."
"Vulpix managed a miracle right before she collapsed, firing off a Fire Spin so huge it was like an orange, F1 tornado spawned from nowhere in the forest. Vulpix's eyes glowed the same color as hellfire, and she somehow shielded me from the attack despite how I should have been fried. Zinnia's Shelgon popped a quick Protect to keep her and Brendan safe. Corvisquire was caught in the whirlwind and had countless burns and contusions to show for it. At the mouth of the tornado, he was thrown almost a fourth of a mile with enough force to make an indent in a tree we found him in. This is where we found the Treecko colony."
"Professor, I'm going to confess something I regret. I caught a Treecko I know was supposed to go to another trainer. The damage Corvisquire's impact did to the tree caused the mammoth thing to fall down. It was a long-dead tree and was on borrowed time, but it was still the home of the Treecko colony. As it fell, the Treecko in question froze up, and Corvisquire was still unconscious at the best of the tree. I threw two hail-mary pokeballs and caught both of them, thus saving them, with pure luck. I could justify keeping Corvisquire, as we beat him one-on-one and letting a dangerous pokemon like him go would be irresponsible, but Treecko..."
"I should have let him go. He wasn't meant to be mine, yet I kept him, because I know he grows to be a Legendary contender, and thats legendary with a capital L. Was that wrong of me?"
"I just... Shit, moving on."
"I gave Treecko a rudimentary physical to get a baseline. Physically he's in good shape, mentally I can't say for sure. He just lost his home, after all. Corvisquire was given a Rawst berry that I had Vulpix sniff out to take the edge off his burns and promptly returned to his ball. He'll need a visit to a Pokemon Center to get back up and running. I'm hoping he's not going to be difficult, but I get the feeling he is. I am sick and tired of this forest so we're going to bed to make haste out of here. Once we're in Rustboro, we'll begin training for our gym match. Lee, out."
"Log nine, day forty-two. We're in Rustboro and have some non-flammable training grounds to use. I've had Vulpix limited to just control exercises like maintaining a hovering fireball and moving fireballs along short paths as to avoid a forest fire. We're lucky her Fire Spin was so intense it turned everything it touched to ash instantly, or I'd probably have the Rangers jumping up my ass. Our attempts so far to replicate her burst of power in the forest have been... Well, the less said the better."
"I dropped Corvisquire off at the Pokemon Center, and Nurse Joy cleared him after a round or two under the Omnitrauma. The little bird has been... combative to say the least. He's yet to directly disobey me, even in the gym battle we had today. He even ran an unsupervised errand for me by getting my gym registration in my stead, so I'll count my blessings there."
"in the meantime, I had Vulpix and Treecko begin their own training. Vulpix's physical conditioning is at a level I would call adequate, and she continues to gain lean muscle at a steady rate, so we'll likely dial that back some in favor of more pyrokinesis. For reference, one of the few times I could coax her into playing with me, she easily pulled me off my feet with just a jerk of her neck during a tug-of-war with a rope toy. Before we get too in-depth with her pyro powers, I'll have her help me teach Treecko Quick Attack. It's a wonderful movement option as well as being a force multiplier, and would help his rather tame movepool."
"This brings us to the last event of today: my gym battle with Roxanne."
"I went to the Rustboro Trainer School to see about taking a class or two, and Gym Leader Roxanne was there. Rather than have us wait, she offered to let us battle right there if I helped her teach a class and kept an open mind about working with the School in the future."
"Professor, I know you said your sponsorship would open a lot of doors for me, but I didn't realize it would be this many. She took one look at my ID, saw my title, and practically offered whatever I wanted to work for the School. I told her I'd be open to projects here and there but that my primary research belongs to the lab."
Birch sighs in relief and wipes his forehead.
"The battle was something else. I had no idea that gym leaders have two teams, one for challengers and one of their own personal teams. Considering the citadel-like arrangement of all the regions, it makes sense that gym leaders are stronger than they let on since they more or less rule their cities. The mayors and local governments may say whatever they want, I know the League is really in charge with their monopoly on power. Also, they do need to give young trainers a fair chance, or the League tournaments would be barren."
"Anyway, we battled her real team and squeaked out a narrow win. Corvisquire thrashed Roxanne's Geodude with Steel Wing and Extremespeed. Just him having Extremespeed and being a Galar native pokemon makes me think Corvisquire had a prior trainer or let him go, but that's for another time. He was felled by her much more powerful Nosepass, and despite the type disadvantage, I put Vulpix in."
"We held our own, but when it got down to the wire, we had to make a leap of faith. Nosepass's Sandstorm was fouling all of Vulpix's shots because she couldn't see, so using telepathy, I plugged her sight to my eyes so she could fight from the 3rd person. I didn't ex-"
Birch once again pauses the recording and tries to process what he's heard. They pulled the sense-sharing trick, again. No, they pulled an even more extreme version. If Lee is being one hundred percent truthful, then they just performed something impossible.
Telepathy with meaningful communication is only seen in one in a thousand telepathy-capable pokemon, and telepathy with one-to-one understanding is easily fifty times as rare. There was exactly one report of a blind man who owned an Alakazam saying he sometimes saw wispy things when his pokemon was near him, supposedly things Alakazam was looking at, but nothing came of it. Now, full overriding of senses?
"That doesn't happen..." Birch whispers to himself. He swallows, but it doesn't help his suddenly dry throat any. The brains of people and pokemon are just too different. Countless men, all with decades of experience and access to near-infinite League resources, had tried and failed what Lee did casually.
First the pyrokinesis, now this? What did he do differently? It could not have been just an accident. Or was it?
Does... Does Lee even know of such a limitation? That can't be it... can it?
Birch eyeballs the videophone in the corner, now feeling out of his depth. He shakes his head and clicks 'play' again.
He and Lee need to talk soon.
"-ect it to work so well, but we won when her last barrage of Ember hit."
"Then Steven Stone walked up."
Birch feels his blood pressure skyrocket.
"He was, ah, a surprisingly personable guy, all things considered. I guess you get used to being nice to everyone in such a public position of responsibility. He instantly knew Vulpix and I used telepathy and watched her pyrokinesis in action, so I guess our chance of surprising him became an even bigger pipe dream. Jesus. Anyway, thats all for this one. Lee, out."
"Day forty-six. I should probably start doing these on my phone. My Pokegear? Is Pokegear the name or the brand? Eh, it's a phone. The pokedex is fine as for its own functions, but sending huge media files through this thing takes for fucking ever and kills the battery. Anyway, as I've noted before, Treecko's growth is nothing short of explosive. He's been working hard to master Quick Attack, and now has an adequate grasp after only a few days. He's in excellent shape and health, and I have full intention of helping him stay that way, He throws himself into training with admirable aplomb, but I have fears of him burning out."
There is a short pause.
"We'll... work on that more later. Corvisquire was already powerful at his time of capture and his performance in battle speaks volumes of his abilities. He improves quickly as well, adding power and technique to each of his moves with their repeated use. Now I just wish he would curb his enthusiasm for violence...Again, we're working on it."
"On to other topics, I'm glad that both Treecko and Corvisquire are responding well to their diets. Corvisquire was easy, as I just copied Vulpix's mix with more red meat and some grains substituted with nuts. To ensure healthy armor growth upon his eventual evolution to Corviknight, who I'm told is a Steel-type, I do add some iron supplements in for him. Treecko is where I ran into issues. I was surprised to learn the Treecko line is strictly herbivorous. I guess it makes sense given the Grass typing, but it threw me off. I admit I'm... not well versed with herbivores, as I spent most of my time working with carnivores. His mix should meet all his nutritional and calorie requirements even with his instance on harsh training factored in, but it leaves taste as something to be desired. I'll wrap this up as I've got to go. Brendan's match with the Rustboro gym leader is coming up and my team is about done with lunch. Lee, out."
"Log eleven, day fifty."
"I don't have a ton to report on this one, as we talked on the phone regarding my 'concerns' a few days ago. We're in-route to Dewford. Recently, I've been working with my pokemon in earnest to create custom moves, as you'll see by the attached file. It's been going well I think. For Vulpix, Convergence still needs more work, and Fox Fire is still in the fanciful dream stage, but we'll get there."
"I've also been training with Corvisquire to further abuse Extremespeed and to try and figure out the secret to Swift's homing ability. We've been able to get Swift to change targets mid-flight, but thats all. It's frustrating Corvi something fierce. In another vein, research by a somewhat unknown researcher from Galar named Doctor Castel suggests the Corviknight line has a smattering of Dark mixed in with their Steel and Flying types. Not much, but enough to be useful. I'm really hoping this is the case. Why? I was re-reading the section in 'Type Advantages for Trainers in a Hurry' regarding how Dark moves normally have a level of homing built into them like Faint Attack and Pursuit, as the Dark energy naturally gravitates toward anything living, or emitting 'aura' I guess. If we can transmigrate Dark energy into Swift, we'll have a seriously difficult move to dodge, see my notes on the custom move: Pursuers."
"Treecko, meanwhile, has been learning Faint Attack from Vulpix. It's taking longer than Quick Attack since Faint Attack is not a move that the Sceptile line learns naturally and this is the first time Treecko has ever had to mold Dark energy, but Vulpix is a patient teacher and Treecko is a stellar student. Fuck, I'm kind of kicking myself for not realizing the potential of such a move before. I know it's not as fast as Extremespeed, but when used, I can't seem to follow the user with my eyes. No one can. It's as if my eyes just slide off of them and my brain just refuses to acknowledge that there is something there. I know there is a word for this but it escapes me right now. If we can apply that effect to projectiles... Anyway, I got to see a Vaporeon in action as she chased away a full-grown Sharpedo harassing the cargo ship taking us to Dewford, then I got to see her melt into a drain as a mass of water. What an unfair, broken ability that I must have. Vaporeon went to the top of my wanted list, and I will have one. I'm going to finish up here and send this before the cell signal gets too weak. Lee, out."
By now, Birch is too tired to be surprised by the revelation of entirely new moves being created and sighs, promising himself he'll be amped up later. He scrolls down the folder with all the audio files to find a single picture and several text files as well.
Clicking on the first one, it's a rather straightforward list of pokemon names written on photo-copied paper, presumably ones that Lee wants. Several are crossed out, and the last one is almost entirely scribbled out.
-More to be added-
Seviper/Zangoose (only one)
Absol? Research More
Kangaskhan? Research More
Latias/Latios - Wishful thinking
████wo- Get real
Birch closes the file then goes to the next one.
Custom Techniques - Vulpix
Description: Fireballs spontaneously manifest around target and converge, exploding for Fire damage.
+Leaves little room to dodge.
+Strikes all points of foe, negating need to aim for weakpoints
-Slower than Protect. Current speed can be dodged by faster foes that aren't surprised.
Requires pyrokinesis. (See - Vulpix bio notes)
Power good. Need to work on explosion sync, projectile speed, and energy consumption. Don't use in serious battles.
Name: Fox Fire (Name not final)
STILL IN CONCEPTUAL PHASE
Description: Fox-shaped flame clone runs down and engages foe as a separate combatant. Explodes for Fire damage when defeated.
Notes: Vulpix's pyrokinesis has a long way to go before she can exert this level of control midbattle. Very cool, but very impractical (for now)
Birch whistles to himself as he closes the file. "That's bold, but game-changing if it can be done." He clicks the next one, feeling eager.
Custom Techniques - Corvisquire
STILL IN CONCEPTUAL PHASE
Notes: Swift needs deconstructed first.
The next file, the one for Treecko, is empty, leaving Birch to lean back in his chair as his throughs swirl a mile a minute.
He looks up, seeing his Medicham at his office door with a bottle of aspirin and glass of water already in his hands.
Birch laughs. "Thank you, old friend. Lee is giving me a headache again and you're right on time. Here, come take a look at this," he says, turning his computer monitor around and opening the files again.
Medicham steps closer and listens to each of the audio files, then looks at the text files with his face as impassive as stone. After a long moment, the pokemon looks between his trainer and the aspirin in his hand, before sighing and tossing the little pills in his own mouth without any shame.