The Quest for the Legends (IALCOTN)
Chapter 5: The Pokédex
The door to the Pokémon Center was flung open with a shrill ringing of bells.
Mark found himself entering a large room with red sofas scattered around it in what seemed like a random manner. Each sofa lay in a curved shape, like the architect had been afraid of straight lines. He looked curiously around; he had never imagined Pokémon Centers to look anything like this. Most of the ones he had seen in movies had a very different interior design.
Realizing suddenly that just about every person in the whole Pokémon Center was looking at him and listening to his panting, Mark tried to look normal, took a deep breath and walked a few steps on the pink, furry carpet that covered the floor. Then he heard a weak knock on the door, smacked his forehead and opened it again to let Charmander inside. A couple of people snickered and Mark felt decidedly like fading out of existence, but he tried to pretend he didn’t notice and walked towards the desk. A door was opening just behind it and a red-haired nurse (who at least looked exactly like every Nurse Joy he had ever seen pictures of) stepped behind the counter and smiled at him.
“I – I found this Eevee,” Mark said to her as he reached the desk. He laid the unconscious Pokémon gently down on the desk and the nurse picked it up. She lifted its tail briefly.
“Where did you find him?” she asked, running a finger through the blood-matted fur on the Eevee’s forehead and frowning slightly.
“On – on the road to Sailance,” Mark replied nervously. “He was like this… I mean, I didn’t knock him out or anything, if you thought…”
The nurse smiled a little as she held the Pokémon slightly away from her, like she was trying to get a better overall image of it. “I didn’t think so. You didn’t seem like the type.”
Mark stared at her with a dumbfounded expression, somehow feeling a little bit more guilty now for having seriously considered throwing a Pokéball at the poor thing. She didn’t notice it as she was picking up something small and red about the size and shape of a cigarette lighter from a drawer on the desk while holding the Eevee on her other arm. The nurse pointed the tool at Eevee and pressed a button, causing it to produce a small beep.
“Oh, hm, he should be fine,” she said professionally, reading off the tool and slipping it back into the drawer. “He’s young, though. Poor thing should probably still be in a nice, warm den with his mother, not wandering somewhere on the road to Sailance and getting beaten up by wild Pokémon.”
Mark’s heart sank for some reason.
“You should let me keep him at least overnight,” the nurse finished, laying Eevee gently down on the table again.
“Well,” Mark said painfully, “it’s not like I have any authority over what you do with him.”
She smiled in an understanding manner. “That’s true. But you brought him here after all.”
“Well, good night.” Mark shrugged and turned to sit down in a nearby sofa. Only then did he suddenly notice Charmander standing on the floor in front of him.
His heart sank again.
“I’m sorry, Charmander, I was just…” What had he been thinking, anyway? Where had his common sense gone off to when he found Eevee? How could he have suddenly forgotten about his first Pokémon’s existence? He mentally hit himself a few times with a baseball bat.
Charmander sighed. “You’re making me realize how stupid it was of me to volunteer as a starter in the first place.”
Mark looked down at the floor. “I… I… you’re not going to leave me, are you?” he asked nervously. “I promise it won’t happen again. I mean it.”
The lizard smiled. “It’s an annoying job, but hey, I did take it after all. It was stressed in our lecture that kids are always a little inconsiderate towards their Pokémon when they start out, and we shouldn’t give up on them unless we really don’t see any hope for them.”
The lizard patted Mark’s knee. “So don’t worry, I’ll make a man out of you.” They both snickered.
“So anyway… what was with that Eevee?”
Mark explained the whole story, all the way from when he first saw what made him think of a furry handbag and until he threw the Pokéball away. He was realizing better and better by the minute how stupid he had suddenly become when he saw the Eevee.
“But yeah,” he finished, “it seemed such a weird coincidence that there happened to be a Pokéball exactly there. People don’t exactly drop empty Pokéballs often, do they? And trainers almost never come to Route 301 at all. I don’t get it.”
Charmander nodded thoughtfully. “Well, it may not have been as much of a coincidence as you think,” he said. “Because you know when that girl threw my Pokéball away and ran off? That was just about there.”
Mark stared at Charmander in astonishment. “So you’re saying… that was your Pokéball?”
Charmander shrugged. “Well, yeah, most likely. As you said, there aren’t a lot of trainers up there generally, and they certainly aren’t dropping their Pokéballs all over.”
“Yeah, you won’t be able to put me in any other Pokéball, unless you go and get this one.”
There was a short silence. Mark didn’t feel like going out into that rain again at all.
“Let’s talk to Joy,” he just said, turning back to the nurse’s desk. She had clearly carried Eevee off and returned, as the little Pokémon was nowhere to be seen.
“Er… I accidentally dropped my Charmander’s Pokéball out in the rain,” Mark began lying. “I was in a hurry to get Eevee over here, so…”
“It didn’t open, did it?” the nurse interrupted.
Mark blinked. “Well, yeah, it did.”
“Then I’m afraid there is nothing you can do about it now. The water will have damaged its inner mechanics already.”
“Oh.” Mark couldn’t think of anything else to say; he wasn’t sure how that fact had slipped his mind. “So I just have to go buy a new Pokéball now?”
“When Pokéballs are destroyed,” Nurse Joy explained in a manner that made Mark suspect she had made that speech many times before, “the League keeps the Pokémon registered as caught in their database for three days afterwards. This is done mostly to act as a certain countermeasure against theft by preventing thieves from releasing Pokémon, destroying their Pokéballs immediately and then catching them in another ball to make them appear legally theirs before the real trainer can report the theft. Therefore he won’t be able to be caught in another ball until seventy-two hours after the League HQ stops receiving signals from his old ball. Until then, he will have to walk or be carried.” She smiled kindly.
“Oh… thanks.” Mark turned around. He knew he was supposed to know all that, but this had of course been taught in Battling with Mrs. Grodski. Stupid teacher.
“Heard that?” he asked Charmander.
“Yeah,” the Pokémon replied. “Well, all the more fun for us, right?”
Mark smiled. “Definitely.”
There was a few seconds’ silence.
“So… what now?” Charmander finally asked.
Mark shrugged. “Let’s find out where we can stay for the night, I guess.”
In Cleanwater City, Nurse Joy told him, the Pokémon Center did not offer accommodation as it did in many other cities due to the amount of demand for the Pokémon Center alone. However, a basic hotel existed a couple of blocks away, and all one needed in order to receive a major trainer discount was to pay using a Pokédex.
That, of course, reminded Mark that he had to get himself a Pokédex for that money in his pocket.
He walked with Charmander over to the Pokémon Market next door (the rain was not as bad as it had been, so they did not get too wet) and looked down the many aisles. One with shelves of spray bottles containing healing potions; one with piles of Pokéballs of various shapes, sizes and colors; one with rows upon rows of shiny CD cases containing elusive TM moves… Mark felt dizzy looking at it all. Finally he saw a sign marking the rightmost aisle as “Trainer Equipment”, and hurried over with the lizard at his heels.
This department was not very popular at the moment compared to the rest of the Pokémart (which was sensible, Mark figured; the majority of Ouenian trainers received a starter at the Pokémon Festival in Green Town, which was not until near the end of the month). Aside from Mark and one tall, lanky guy looking at the selection of Pokédexes, the aisle was completely deserted.
Mark began to browse through the different available Pokédex colors, but stopped dead when he noticed what the tall young man beside him was holding in his hand.
It was a Pokédex unlike all the simple, differently-colored versions of the same model that lined the shelves. It was small and colored in a smooth black, and from the looks of it, it had two flaps that needed to be opened to unfold it rather than one.
But what was making him stare open-mouthed at it was the white, curved, artistic outline on the surface, showing a shape that caught Mark’s immediate attention.
It was his favorite Pokémon of all, Lugia.
And he wanted that Pokédex.
He suddenly noticed that the man was watching him. He was probably a little over twenty, very pale-faced, with dark hair and the shadow of a beard.
“Like it?” the man asked with a smile, holding up the Pokédex so Mark could see it a little better. “It’s limited edition. A couple of years old, but some of the finest technology that existed when it was made. The Lugia image was made by that artist – the name escapes me at the moment – who illustrated Balance of Power. Too bad it’s a little outdated.”
Mark nodded. Balance of Power was a book he owned about the legendary Pokémon of Hoenn; he had recognized the artistic style right away.
“Would you sell it to me?” he blurted out. “I’ve got… I’ve got…” He rummaged through his pockets to see if he had any money of his own, but found only the money his mother had given to him. He counted it quickly. “3000 Pokédollars.”
The man laughed. “My goodness, you seem enthusiastic! Well, to be honest, I was just going to trade it in for a new one. As I said, it is outdated.”
“Who cares?” Mark answered, still staring at the device. “Can you please sell it to me?”
He laughed again. “Well, kiddo, you know what? I like seeing kids with a bit of a flare in them. You can have it – no, really, take it. I’ve got plenty of money anyway, and because it’s outdated it’s more of a collector’s item – you might need your money to buy a new one. I already deleted my user info from it. All I want in return is you pick me a new Pokédex out of this shelf. All the available colors are giving me a hard time.”
Mark stared at him in astonishment as the man handed the Pokédex to him. A voice in his head wanted to be humble and refuse the gift, but another voice silenced it; he was not too keen on risking the guy changing his mind. He took the device and admired it from all angles before putting it carefully into his pocket.
“Wow, thanks… I…” he began, but gave up and restarted the sentence. “You’re the best, you know that?”
The guy gave another hearty laugh. “We’ll see about that. Now pick a Pokédex for me.”
Mark would perhaps ordinarily have been inclined to point at a random one in excitement and then go, but for some reason he couldn’t help taking his end of the deal very seriously. He walked thoughtfully past all the Pokédexes a couple of times, picked some of them up and unfolded them to get a better look, and finally picked one that was sapphire blue with red decorations and a white inside.
“Kyogre edition,” the man said, nodding thoughtfully. “Good choice. Thank you.”
He smiled; Mark smiled back from ear to ear.
“Good luck on your journey,” the man then said before turning around. “Don’t forget to buy yourself a Pokéball belt – I forgot when I first started out.”
“Thanks,” Mark replied, and in a few seconds the man had disappeared towards the counter.
Mark blinked a few times and then picked up his new Pokédex again as if to make sure it was really there. He unfolded it and turned it on, just to see exactly how outdated it was.
It first prompted him to hold the scanner up to his eye in order to identify his iris. He did as the device instructed, vaguely remembering that this was always the first step of getting a Pokédex, and removed it from his eye when a beep indicated that he had been successfully identified.
The screen now contained information about him, including his full name, parents, an old, horrible school photo, his grades in Pokémon-related subjects and a brief physical description. Pressing the ‘OK’ button on the touch-sensitive screen brought up a short-lived ‘Saving…’ message before it switched to a neat main menu with various options and his ID number in the corner: 0439522166.
He browsed the features loosely for a little while, and couldn’t find anything too drastically outdated about it: the Pokédex data itself was updated automatically and wirelessly from the Pokémon League databases whenever it changed, the graphic quality was perhaps a little worse than in new Pokédexes but not by much, and most of the features he missed from the Pokédex handling demos they had been given at school were rather trivial stuff anyway, such as demo videos of Pokémon executing attacks. There were even special features in this one which weren’t in the newer ones, like how instead of a still image, each Pokémon’s Pokédex entry showed a cool rotating 3D model of the Pokémon. It even had relatively newly-added features, such as the automatic electronic payment. Why the man had wanted to trade it in for a new one was beyond him – it could certainly satisfy the needs of a modern trainer unless he had overlooked something.
Charmander poked his leg. “Wake up, Sleeping Beauty. I’m getting hungry. Why don’t you get yourself a Pokéball belt and then we can go to the hotel and get ourselves something to eat?”
Mark started. “Oh, right.” He turned the Pokédex off and folded it together, admiring the Lugia artwork for the last time before putting it into his pocket. He turned towards the Pokéball belts of all kinds that hung on pegs on the opposite wall.
“Let’s see,” Mark muttered as he looked through the belts. “Damn, most of these have some bizarre additional functions.” He read aloud to Charmander off the product tag on one of them: “‘Biker Belt – complete with built-in bicycle pump.’ What the hell?”
Charmander snickered. “There’s got to be a normal one there somewhere.”
Mark finally found one ordinary kind of brown belt: a Pokédex and six minimized Pokéballs (which came free with the belt) could be attached to it, and that was it. Satisfied, he walked with it over to the reception counter to pay, poking into a couple of aisles on the way to stock up on potions and other essentials with some advice from Charmander. He felt so weird to be buying that stuff; he had been to this Pokémart before, but that was just in a class trip they had taken in Battling (twice, in fact, since he had had to repeat that course) and he still remembered the awful feeling of watching all those kids just his age looking thoughtfully at the price tags of various potions or asking their starter Pokémon which brand of Pokéfood they liked best. Now he was the one buying trainer items, and it was the little kid over there looking at him with envy.
He finally got to the counter, held his Pokédex and the items he was buying up to a scanner and waited a couple of seconds for a beep to indicate a successful transmission between bank accounts. No paper money, no trouble. Over the last twenty years or so, Pokédexes had gradually taken over the functions of all the various gadgets that trainers had previously had to use in addition to the Pokédex itself, but it was only very recently that this process had been completed with the abolition of trainer cards, which had previously had the role of identification and debit cards for trainers. Now the Pokédex was just a mega-gadget, bringing together all the tools a trainer needed.
After exiting the shop and stepping out into the cool evening air, Mark minimized all the items he had bought and stuffed them into his bag, and then – intentionally last – he took his new Pokéball belt and buckled it around his waist before moving his Lugia Pokédex out of his pocket and into the Pokédex holder on his belt.
It was then, at that moment, when it suddenly sank in that it was really happening: he was a trainer. A real Pokémon trainer who would collect badges and compete in the League. He shouted in joy for the heck of it. Nothing could stop him now. Nothing. They would fight. They would win. They would conquer.
“All right, Charmander,” he said with a grin. “Let’s go.”
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