Today was day seven.
6 full days had passed since he found himself in an alley about to be eaten by a Pokemon. Today would make it a week since he had been home.
‘Has it been long enough that they're concerned about the missed calls and messages?’ David dressed.
‘Has someone checked on my empty dorm room yet?’ He packed up his tent.
‘Have I been declared missing?’ He brushed his teeth in the stream. His mouth had never felt so clean.
‘Is anyone searching for me?’ David left the clearing.
David turned his mind away from the pain as he walked.
In six days he had made a start on his plan to get home. He met Beth and registered to be a trainer, becoming part of the systems in this world. He went from only having the clothes on his back to a backpack heavy with gear. He made a basecamp and began to explore. He made his first Poke from Benny and created an income source.
David walked past the league office and down empty roads that lacked even the usual joggers to disturb his path or thoughts.
He had received a trainers licence and been given a starter, Pidgey, who he was getting to know. He began to study and learn about this world and how it differed from what he knew. With Pidgey’s help he was beginning to understand the magical energies that powered this terrifying dangerous place. Pidgey and he fought their first match against Fred. Fred who helped introduce him to this world and gave him the basis of a fake backstory. He watched monsters performing terrifying acts and understood that that danger, that power meant he had a chance. A chance to get home.
Then David was in front of the Pokecenter. He nodded at the security guard and entered. It wasn’t the guard that helped him on his first day but honour by association and all.
David left the market via a westerly side street. The shower at the Pokemart with actual shampoo had been a game changer and the day was bright.
Benny had stuck to his word and paid no attention to the two Oran berries that David had carried. He was not terribly impressed by the one other berry, a Razz, that David brought but he had handed over 35P. With the money was a warning that it was the minimum rarity that he would be accepting.
David spent some time visiting the other berry and food stalls in the market but received no good offers. Everyone had adjusted to the increased tournament demand for berries and prices were dropping. The highest offer he received for the Oran berries was 5 Poke each. A sixth of their sale price and a third of what Benny used to offer. He was better off keeping the berries to eat.
His next destination was the library. Four days should have been long enough for the librarian to forget about kicking him out. He wanted to find details about clan settlements, Pallet town and gyms before training with Pidgey for the day.
“Well look here. Seems like someone is in need of help.”
David was jerked back as someone grabbed his bag and shook him side to side. He couldn’t turn or escape as he was dragged off the street and into an alley.
“What the hell!” David yelled, trying to break free or get a glimpse of his attacker. Laughter broke out behind him and off to the side.
“Let me fucking go!” David shouted and jabbed behind him with an elbow.
It impacted and there was an exhale before David was thrown sideways against a wall. He caught himself with his hands, grating the skin off, and pushed himself around to face his assailants. His adrenaline was up now. He didn’t know who had grabbed him but what the hell.
There were three people in the alley with him. Two stood on either side of him, blocking off his escape.
“See, our eyes met. That means a trainer battle right?” The man in front of David spoke. He must have been the one who grabbed him. He stood a lot taller than David, even with the hunch that curled his shoulders. The man’s face was worn, drawn back and sickly looking.
His face didn’t hold David’s attention for long, the white armband with a red R was too eye-catching.
‘Team Rocket.’ David thought with dread.
The man turned right to the entrance of the street where another man stood, also wearing a Rocket armband.
“See that is just another of the League’s lies. Trainer battles start well before your eyes meet.”
David didn’t like the cruel way the man at the entrance grinned at his assailant’s words before turning to face towards the street. And block off the entrance.
”Don’t worry. It’s your lucky day. My friends and I are going to show you the truth.” The Rocket brought his arm down to his belt and tapped his fingers across the six Pokeballs there before selecting one.
Harsh laughter started again and it was coming from the other side of the street. The woman standing there also wore an armband and was blocking off the exit. There was nowhere to run. He was stuck.
“How about I start our 3v3 battle? I’ll even send out my Pokemon first.” The Rocket stepped back in the narrow alley and clicked the button on his ball.
A Golbat appeared in a small blip of light between him and David. It stood with its wings folded and hunched over like its owner as it was released. Light blue fur shivered as it opened its mouth wide in a yawn and sharp white fangs were revealed. With a low pitched click it lazily spread its wings before flying into the air with a big flap. Dirt in the alley was kicked up as it started to circle above their head.
“I only have one Pokemon.” David stammered, shrinking back into the wall and holding an arm up to shield his eyes.
The Golbat was huge. When it was on the ground its wing tips reached above David’s head. Pidgey was not ready for this. He was not ready for this.
“That’s alright. You can battle too. Golbat has never had an issue fighting humans before.”
David’s eyes shot up to the Pokemon slowly circling in the air above them. With how narrow the alley was the creature needed to turn often but its eyes never left David. He turned back to the Rocket.
The Rocket’s eyes flashed and they inhaled.
David scrambled to get his bag off his back. That Golbat would kill him. He was going to die. He tore open the drawstring.
His hand closed around the cool metal and he tugged the ball out. Pidgey’s ball. His eyes met the Rocket’s again, a silent plea.
“6. 5. 4. 3.” The Rocket sped up the count.
David pushed his finger against the button and Pidgey appeared in a bright flash of light. She was settled in a roosting position and let out a low questioning squawk as she appeared. The squawk grew shrill as she took in the alley and the men.
Pidgey hopped to her feet and spread her wings out wide. She flapped them lightly as she moved back towards David.
“We’re in trouble. Look up. Golbat.” David rushed out.
Pidgey tilted her head back and hopped to the side to look up. She began a high pitch shrill and pulled her wings back in as she spotted the huge creature circling above. She began to shiver.
“Golbat. Wing attack.” The Rocket calmly ordered.
“Launch Pidgey! Get out of there.” David screamed.
Pidgey’s wings shot back out and powered down as Pidgey took off, flying up in the air.
There was a flash of blue and Pidgey was falling.
A sickening crunch rang out as she smacked down against the ground. Feathers fell down through the air after her.
She didn’t move.
The Golbat landed with a swoop beside his downed Pokemon. Its mouth opened and fangs protruded as it leaned over her.
David clicked the button with trembling hands and Pidgey disappeared in a flash.
The Golbat, deprived of its prey, let out a screech and flew at David.
A whistle rang out and the Pokemon banked around but not without buffeting the frozen David with its wings. David fell back to the ground, cradling Pidgey’s still ball in his hands. The hunched Rocket walked forward and dropped into a crouch before him.
“See, the league doesn’t want to help you with the program. They give you a crap Pokemon only fit to be dinner. They give you just enough time to get one badge. Maybe two if you’re lucky. Then you drop off. You won’t have the money to buy or feed a better Pokemon. Yours won’t evolve. As time drags on you’ll lose more and more battles to those better prepared. Eventually you’re broke again. Nothing left to try.” The Rocket’s drawn face seemed to grow more pallid as he spoke to David. “That’s when the league will step in with a steady minimal wage job. No future. But you’ll get to keep the crappy Pokemon they gave you. Refuse and you’re back to the dirt and shit.”
The Rocket spat at the ground between them before standing up. He walked around the scattered feathers to where the Golbat had landed. He gave a few clicks with his tongue as he rubbed the fur around the Golbat’s eyes.
“The league is weakening Kanto’s trainers. Johto took over after Haze’s death. Agatha is too old to do anything but keep the status quo. She can’t even get Haze replaced after a year. When she dies, they will have complete control over the Elite Four. There will be a war and Johto will destroy us. If you don’t want your home blistered by Dragons or frozen eternally you need to pull yourself together. Team Rocket are fighting back. You are nothing now but we can change that.” The Rocket unclipped a pokeball from his belt and recalled his Golbat before turning back to David.
“If you want to do something with your life, ask around for Mason. If not, you’ll see more of Team Rocket and you'll contribute in another way. We need as many resources as we can get to save Kanto.”
The Rocket didn’t wait for any response from the frozen David. He walked away down the alley. The Rocket that had blocked the alley entrance followed after him. He kicked the dirt and feathers at David as he passed with a cruel laugh.
David trembled as they left.
‘I have to get Pidgey to the pokecenter.’
She hadn’t moved. She hadn’t moved after the Golbat had sent her crashing down into the ground. Pidgey was incredibly light. If any of her bones had broken…
He got up, grabbed his bag and started to run.