- I -
The sun had just peeked over the horizon. I knew this because I had also forgotten to close the curtains, thus getting awakened by a surprise Solar Beam attack on my face. Well, a beam of sunlight anyway. I glanced at the clock I’d only just realised was there. 5:44 AM. I had wanted to get more sleep, but apparently that wasn’t meant to be. Before I could complain about this though, I also realised this was not my room. So was I still dreaming? A quick check confirmed there were still Pokéballs in my pocket. Grand.
I gave up stifling a yawn and waited for my jaws to realign before I rolled out of bed. If I was going to be stuck here, awake at six in the morning, I might as well go do something. Waking Rose was out of the question, partly because I’d rather respect her privacy and partly because I didn’t even want to know how she’d react to it, so I decided I could think of a way to wake up or otherwise get out of this mess instead. And so, I proceeded to gather my stuff, which wasn’t hard because I hadn’t actually used any of it, and made my way downstairs into the lobby.
After being greeted by Nurse Joy, I slouched down at a table and started thinking. This lasted about two seconds before I made up my mind and stood back up. On the off chance that this was not just some wacky dream, it was time for me to start thinking about a way out. There was really only one person in this world whom I might know well enough – indirectly or not – to trust with that, and even though it wouldn’t exactly be his field he was pretty clever, so he might at the very least be able to point me in the right direction. And so, on a whim, I walked back over to Nurse Joy and politely asked for a glass of water – which I felt I’d need soon – and the most secluded phone in the building.
As it turned out, the only phones were in the lobby so I was flat out of luck as far as secrecy went. Well, at least the only other person in the lobby right now was Nurse Joy, and if I picked the last phone then maybe she wouldn’t hear. I got there pretty quick and was faced with my next problem. Where’s number information when you need it most?
“Hello, operator? I have a strange request…” I started carefully. I had drunk all the water before the phone even started ringing…
*BEEP BEEP BEEP* PHONECALL, PHONECALL… the mechanical voice went. A brown haired young man wearing a lab coat walked over to the ringing videophone and pressed a button.
“Oak research lab, what is it?” he asked, not really caring to look who was on the other end.
to you too.
Erm… could I speak to professor Oak, please?”
a male voice replied.
“Sorry, we don’t have time for fan calls,” he said. “Some of us have work to do. How’d you get this number?”
“Begging the operator. Please, it’s pretty important. I just need to talk to professor Oak for a few minutes. I swear it’ll be worth the time!”
“Which professor Oak?”
“Eh, Samuel Oak?” the guy stammered after blinking once.
“Right answer, or one of them I guess,”
I could hardly believe I’d be speaking to Prof. Oak. I’d expected Gary – or someone who looked like him – to simply hang up, but I wouldn’t complain. It didn’t take long until an elderly face appeared on the small screen in front of me. Oak blinked a few times as he struggled to recognise me. In the end, expectedly, he couldn’t.
“Who are you?” he finally asked, sounding more surprised than impatient.
“Eh, my name’s Rick,” I started hesitantly. “Please hear me out before you decide to hang up on me. I want to talk to you about something really interesting.”
“‘Something interesting’ sounds rather vague, young man. I’m sure my grandson told you we’re pretty busy right now. Can it wait?”
“No sir, it can’t,” I dared say. “I know it’s not exactly your field, but for some reason I felt you’re the only one I can trust with this.”
“Not getting any clearer here,” Oak said impatiently. I wondered how I could break it to him without saying something like ‘oh, we have a cartoon about you in my world, and games too’, since it would probably end the call right there.
“I crossed dimensional planes,” I said bluntly, figuring shock value would get me further than elaborate explanations in this case. “I’m not from this Earth, but from a parallel universe.” I didn’t add that mine had no Pokémon, since I’d have to explain my broad knowledge on them too, then.
A silence followed and I wasn’t able to read the old man’s face. Maybe more explanation was in order… But just as I opened my mouth to speak again, Prof. Oak raised his hand to stop me.
“You do realise this sounds incredibly farfetched, yes?” I nodded slowly. “And I presume you have no proof, correct?” Instead of shaking my head, I only managed to look down. “It’s indeed outside of my regular field. It would be pretty accurate to assume you’re telling me this because you want to go home, no? What makes you think I can help?” That made me look up.
“You believe me?” I asked, probably sounding a bit too surprised for my own good.
“Let’s not fret over that just yet, just tell me why you were so adamant about talking to me. If you’re from a different world where I don’t exist, how do you know me?” He had me with that one.
“I read some of the magazines here and they mention you a lot,” I lied. “Yes, I want to go home, and no, I have no real proof what I’m saying is true. But if you want, I can give you a detailed list on what sets our worlds apart.” I let that sink in for a few moments before going on, “As for why I chose you to confide in, I have two reasons. You seem to have a lot of credibility here, for one. And more importantly, even if it isn’t your field, you are my best bet at going home. You are the most knowledgeable person on Pokémon I can find, and I believe the only thing that can send me back to my world is a Pokémon. I figured you’d know where to look.”
“… I see. You seem pretty convinced, and pretty bright too. Not the kind who would make up such an elaborate s-” Before Oak could finish, I heard chatter in the lobby and glanced back. My eyes widened when I saw… Rose! Damn it!
“Eh, just so you know I’m not doing this for the publicity or anything stupid like that, I’m asking you to pretty please not tell anyone about what I just said!” I fumbled quickly, giving my nicest smile and hoping it was enough of an apology for what I was about to do. “Sorry got to go, people coming, will be in touch!”
“What was that all about?”
“I honestly have no idea. I guess we’ll see if he calls again…” Oak felt a smile creep on his face. “Well, I suppose I should say ‘when’.”
“You’re getting way too into this,”
“There you are!” Rose said as she made her way over. “What got you up this early?”
“Stupidity,” I muttered absently, drawing a strange look from her. I grabbed the empty glass and walked back to Nurse Joy’s desk. “Thanks,” I said as I returned the glass to her.
“No problem,” she smiled. “Oh, your Pokémon are almost ready. It looks like a good night’s rest was all they needed!”
I felt somewhat relieved hearing this news, until I noticed a snag. “Almost, that’s not quite?”
“Well, the only ones that were fine to begin with were Butterfree and Gastly. I’m afraid the others will need just a few more hours,” she said. “You kind of got up at a bit of an early hour… I wasn’t expecting you this fast.” Hearing that from her seemed strange, since she was up before I got here. Did she even sleep at all?
“Eh, could I get Caesar and Gastly then, and I’ll leave the others with you for a bit longer,” I replied. “I’d like to have at least some of them with me.”
“It’s okay, we’ll go to the Safari Zone first,” Rose offered. Apparently the Safari Zone was a pretty safe place, and they didn’t really like it if you took Pokémon with you anyway. That all sounded fine and dandy, but I managed to get Caesar and Gastly back anyway. For some reason I felt it was needed, the incident with Team Rocket earlier playing back in my head. Figuring we might as well make use of the facilities, we ate at the Center and avoided our pre-cooked junk. After that we set off to the Safari Zone which was a good thirty minute walk away, on the opposite edge of the city compared to the Gym.
The first gate looked pretty standard, with the only thing standing out being the sign reading ‘Safari Zoo’. To my surprise, entrance was free. The zoo part was quite a bit more elaborate than it was in the games, and I really had no idea where I was going. They had quite a few rare Pokémon on display – like Kangaskhan, Lapras and a few others – but Rose didn’t seem interested in this part of the park at all and kept dragging me along.
“Hey, come on! I might want to see those, you know!” I complained. That’s when I saw the second gate.
A tall wooden fence separated the area ahead from the zoo we’d just walked through, and a big wooden structure seemed to provide the only way through. A huge slab bolted to the front read ‘Pokémon Safari’ in huge, bold print. Various signs were advertising a ‘great opportunity’ to see Pokémon in their natural habitats for ‘only’ five hundred bucks. So that’s why the zoo was free…
“Quick, let’s go in!” Rose said happily as she dragged me through the big doors. It seemed there weren’t many people who shared her enthusiasm, as the main entry was pretty empty. The only people there looked like staff, all wearing the same clichéd clothes everyone wears on safaris – and there weren’t even many of those. One of them, looking quite unhappy, walked up to us.
“Hi,” he said. “I’m sorry, if you’re here for a safari I’ll have to let you down. We’re not allowing anyone in right now because we can’t guarantee your safety.”
“What? Why?” Rose asked, sounding pretty disappointed.
“Recently a herd of Tauros have been causing problems, attacking anyone who gets near, even Pokémon. At first we thought it might have something to do with their mating season, but we soon realised the mating season ended a while ago,” the man explained. “We have no idea what’s causing them to act like this. They never did it before…” Suddenly the man fell to his knees and cried, “They’ve been at it for a month now! If they keep it up we’ll be ruined!”
“If they’re that much of a problem, take them out of the park or something,” I said.
“You don’t understand,” a voice spoke up from behind. We turned and saw an old man in the doorway. “Tauros are an endangered species, so it’s not that simple. You have to remember that the Safari Zone, above all, is a place where Pokémon can live without the constant worries of being hunted or caught that they would otherwise have in the wild. As such, it’s often been used to bring endangered species back from the brink of extinction.”
“Warden!” the man who spoke to us before veered up and rushed over to the old man. “Has the situation changed? Did you find anything?!”
In response, the old man simply sighed and shook his head as he hung up his coat, and the room went quiet.
“Father,” a woman spoke up. “I have to agree with this person. The Tauros are a danger to the park and all the Pokémon that live in it. If we let this go on, we won’t make enough money to stay open! All the work you’ve put into the Safari Zone will go to waste that way!”
“There you go again, bringing money into it!” the warden complained. “It’s not about money. We should let nature handle this herself!”
“I know it’s not about money,” his daughter tried to reason. “But money is what lets you keep things going! Without it, how will you sustain the park?”
“I didn’t mean kick them out and let them fend for themselves,” I interrupted, having heard enough family quarrel. “You can move them into a separate area until you find the cause, or at least until they calm down, right?”
“Well, that would be the case, except…” he sighed. “The problem is, that in their current state it’s impossible to relocate them without causing them harm. I really dislike upsetting their natural lives.”
I frowned. Wasn’t pampering them in this protected park doing exactly that? So, I persisted. “But they’re harming the other Pokémon now, who aren’t used to it. So, aren’t they affecting the regular pace of things?” The warden seemed to ponder this, but didn’t look convinced yet. I glanced over at Rose, who was staying quiet through the whole thing. From what I could tell, she knew where this conversation was going and didn’t seem to mind. So, this could only end one way then, eh? Fine… “If it puts you at ease, both of us have Pokémon with sleep inducing moves. It might be a bit tricky, but if we get it right we can put the herd down for a few hours. Would that be long enough to move them?”
I should’ve never offered…
“Rose of Saffron and Rick of Lavender,” Jason said. The Rocket, along with his boss and Billy, was sitting at a table in a dimly lit apartment. A phone, some papers and a small laptop computer were the only things present on the table. They’d left the remainder of the place pretty much untouched, only really using it as a temporary base of sorts.
“You’re sure?” his boss replied as he scribbled the names down on a strip of paper and handed it to his other grunt, Billy. “Make work of it.” Billy turned to his computer and started tapping away, trying to find out who they were searching.
“I’m not deaf, boss. That’s what they said to Koga, I’m positive,” Jason insisted. Just then, the phone rang. Both grunts instinctively reached for it, but Jason got it first. His face paled rather quickly. “It’s for you boss,” he said as he passed the phone. “It’s the Executive…”
“Agent Zack! Where’s that fresh shipment of Pokémon you promised me? How do you expect us to keep our trade going without a steady supply, hmm?” an impatient voice demanded.
“Eh, we’ve hit a little snag, sir…” Zack answered carefully. “We had a nice variety and good numbers, but we sort of lost them…”
“Police interference?” the voice inquired.
“Sort of…” Zack replied uneasily, glancing at the faces of his grunts. Jason’s face showed a hint of fear, but Billy was too busy with his task to notice what was going on.
“What kind of answer is that?!” the voice yelled. “We needed those Pokémon, Zack! I thought I was clear on that! But instead you give me some weak excuse, expecting me to do what exactly? Come over to baby-sit your next op?!”
“S-sir! There’s no need for that!” Zack defended frantically. He didn’t know whether the man on the other end was serious, but the last thing he needed was some Executive prancing about and ordering him around. “It was pure bad luck that we lost our stock! We’ll get replacements right away, without fail this time!”
“See to it that you do. Plans are moving forward, and we need the finances for the next few steps!”
“Understood sir. We’ll just have to speed up our own little scheme here,” Zack said, a lot more serious than he was before. The voice on the other end grunted a goodbye right before the connection was dropped. Zack was left staring at the horn. So we’re on the move now…
- II -
I was lied to! There were TWO shots! Another thing I realised after I published the last chapter is – there are no lions in Pokéworld. D’oh. Anyway, fast plot development is fast! Don’t worry though; the speed and depth of the plot revelations go up and down like a yo-yo. The next chapter will be as slow and shallow as the previous six! (come on, you can’t have thought the Pokémon journey thing was the only plot in there…)
Chapter nine: I’m not quite sure how far I’ll get, actually. In any case, Rick and Rose head into the Safari Zone for REAL this time, after postponing it for two goddamn chapters! I need to stop trying to move things along so quickly (not that they are quick – the updates that is).
- III -
I do not in any way own Pokémon or any of its copyrights and rights of other merchandise related to it. All characters and places in this story are entirely fictional and taken from or based on various aspects of the Pokémon universe. Any form of copying and/or misuse of this story by others will be reported. Please respect the imagination and effort made by others. Stealing is bad, don’t do it.