The Pal Park was soon abuzz with activity in the middle of the night. Normally there would be concern for the pokemon and their sleeping habits, but the roaring fire that had begun previously had made that point moot. Thankfully, the fire had now been put out, a blackened scorch upon the mountain base as the rangers gathered up their pokemon, while herding the wild ones back to their various territories.
Detective Corck made his way to the park entrance, escorting the three captured criminals with the assistance of both his houndoom and a senior ranger called Sharon. FG followed behind in order to be treated for his injuries down at the ranger station, his eyes reddened with the occasional deep cough coming up from his throat.
"Quite a noise you boys made," said Corck, "nice little bonfire then a small airshow, what you got planned next I wonder?"
"I ain't sayin' nuthin'!" said one thug.
"That's probably the best option, Team Rocket tend to only look smart until they open their mouths."
"HEY, you disrespect us, you're gonna-"
"Shut UP man!" said the pilot. "We got a right to a lawyer for this, we dunno nothing about this fire, we were just getting out!"
"Oh really?" said Corck. "That lad behind us coughing his lungs out begs to differ."
"He attacked us first!"
"F-FUCKIN' LIAR-HAAAGK!" roared FG. "They blinded me with some kinda attack, then smogged the whole clearing until I couldn't breathe!"
"The point is," said the detective, "you boys have something that don't belong to you, now do you?"
"Wh-what are you talking about?!" said one criminal.
"Don't lie now, remember anything you do say will be used in court."
"We don't got nothing, scout's honour!"
Corck made them stop before apprehending all of their pokeballs, throwing them onto the ground one by one to make sure what each and every creature was within. The koffing and wheezing that had attacked James were among them, as well as a Raichu that was presumably owned by the pilot which resembled a large brown electric rat. But nothing else. Making sure that was all the pokemon they had, Corck kept the pokeballs on him for safekeeping with pokemon included before escorting the men out.
"Well you may not have anything on you, but that doesn't mean you may not be responsible for some of the events that happened here."
"What kinda excuse is that?!" roared the pilot, "you some kinda fascist, that what you are?!"
"I am an officer of the law sir, and the events that happened here tonight I KNOW you are responsible for. Don't. Pretend otherwise. Mr. Campbell."
"Yeah?" asked FG weakly.
"Can I have a word with you after we take these boys to the station nearby?"
"Uhhh sure, I don't min-"
A sudden burst of green launched forth from the bushes, knocking back Corck, FG and Sharon who got up first. She tensed her fingers fearfully at the sight of the creature that now stood before the three handcuffed criminals, who tried to back up next to each other in panic. The large green insect slowly flitted towards them, gauging them cautiously in order to intimidate them with the slicing sound of its naturally-sharp bladed arms.
"WH-WHAT THE HELL-"
"G-GET AWAY FROM US YA FREAK!"
Corck's houndoom snarled at the interruption, barking fiercely at the scyther to stand down. He simply turned his reptilian scarred head and sneered with a flitting of wings, shimmering a vengeful sound as Corck slowly got up.
"Whut is that?"
"U-um," said Sharon, "that's a scyther, he-"
"I know WHAT that is, but what is it DOING?"
"He's very aggressive, he's territorial and he came from the Johto Safari Zone a few months ago. B-but-"
"Make that thing back off from my suspects."
James stepped forwards before the ranger could grab for her deterrent, the raptor in disguise trying to calm down Shin despite his own coughing predicament.
"Don't...hhhh...do it! We need them...alive!"
"Look...I dunno what your beef is...UGH-HAK, with these guys, but we can talk about this later. These guys...are going to jail, they're gonna get their punishment either way but....hhhhhh...the only way they're gonna have their bosses taken down, is if you don't hurt them!"
"If you hurt them, you're gonna have a lot of problems getting what you want Shin! Now back off!"
"I don't care what the fuck you're saying! I'M running the show here and you WILL listen to me! Now back. Off. Kirie, make him understand."
The haunter slowly weaved her way towards Shin and explained as best as she could. After a minute or two of silence from everyone else, the spirit mumbling in her species' language towards the scyther, he eventually backed away from the two criminals.
The scyther flew away to the side towards James in order to observe, who nodded at such with approval.
"Good. They're all yours officer."
"That's detective," said Corck. "And thank you. Alright boys, let's have a nice chat down at the station shall we? I'd love to hear about your friends up at Celadon City too since you were so eager to leave. Mr. Campbell, when you have a moment, you come as well so I can get a good report on all this."
As Detective Corck walked out of the park itself, the senior ranger Sharon walked up towards FG with a rather strange expression. She could not help but ask the first thing that came to her mind, saying:
"How...how is Shin listening to you?"
"H-he never listens to anyone! How did you do that?!"
"I dunno," shrugged James weakly, "I guess...he and I understand each other well. We respect each other's strength."
"I see...so...why were you in the park after it was closed at night?"
"My uh...my cubone got lost and wandered in here. Then that explosion happened and everything got all crazy."
"Hmmm...well, the police will be wanting to know that either way so you better go see him. I hope that you won't be planning any more nightly excursions in our park sir. It's much safer in daylight here. Now let's get you down to the first-aid station and sort out that cough."
"Heh, right I'll uh, I'll remember that, thanks."
After getting the necessary treatment to deal with his sore lungs through means of an artificial lung filter for certain unfiltered gases, he left towards the Fuchsia City police station. It was much smaller than Cerulean City's but still big enough to hold three criminals. Corck had FG wait in an interview room. The raptor in disguise was nervous, but he knew that the way he acted tonight was nothing short of a civilian trying to stop criminals from escaping. He had heard little things from Kirie but he stressed that he would learn later after this meeting.
Eventually the detective arrived, entering the small office-sized room with only a table and two chairs with a window. Seeing the night outside made him feel better, and feel not so trapped considering where he was.
"Interesting how our paths meet again," said Corck wryly.
"Heh, yeah I guess it is."
"You're having quite the adventure for your first time as a pokemon trainer, which I hope is going well."
"Yeah it totally is, I got a nice li'l team here and my Kirie with me too."
"So what were you doing in the park after it had been closed? Because, you do realise that's trespassing right?"
James turned shameful in order to ply for the innocent civilian look.
"I have this cubone with me, he's a scrappy young kid and he's not used to being in his uh, pokeball yet. So I let him sit out of it and sleep with me but...he got all restless and wandered off from the hostel I was staying at and went to the park in the middle of the night!"
"A cubone? How long have you had him?"
"Not very long, I kinda made a loop back to La-NNGH...landing at Vermillion City, then I...think I got him in a-
Kirie had stung his mind with a weak little punch unseen that forced James to reissue his story. He wasn't sure why but he trusted her to guide him through any sort of story he had to conceive. Corck did not seem to notice and simply asked dismissively:
"Do you know why your cubone went to the Pal Park at night?"
"He really loves that place, ever since we went there the little guy loves it! He just wanders around all the time, happy as anything, one of the rangers guided us through and Isaac kept wanting to come back for more!"
"Ahhh right. What time did you go to the park?"
"Tell me everything that happened from that point."
"Alright, I snuck into the park by climbing over the walls, there's this tree overhang I found that makes it real easy to get in with see. So I go looking for Isaac and I manage to find him, scold him, tell him off when suddenly I heard this explosion!"
"Where were you in the park?" asked Corck.
"The uhhh forest area, the fire was in the mountains right?"
"Right, and then what?"
"Well I put Isaac back in his pokeball, told him it was for his own safety and went to see what was going on. All the rangers were gathered around this huge fire, but then I saw these two guys in black run off through the forest, so I chased them."
"These guys talked about setting something to four instead of six because they had to make a distraction, then one guy pulls out this pokeball and is all like 'least we got these cuz the boss'll be happy'. I dunno what he was talking about but these guys were shady as fuck."
"Did you engage them?"
"Yeah, well, tried to. They brought out those smog-cloud things and fucking blinded me with some kind of attack, both of them! Then came the smog that just rolled in and I start coughing hard all choked up! Kirie can't do nothing and I can't get any of my own pokemon out to fight all blinded and gasping, and then you showed up!"
"Right...okay I think I have a good idea of the events now, was there anyone else?"
"Not that I could see no, I was all blinded by that flash or whatever. Then I heard the chopper come up and well, yeah."
"Let's go back a bit...when you heard the explosion, when was it?"
Twenty past midnight.
"Twenty past midnight I think? I was searching for at least half an hour, not even that maybe."
"I see. Was there anything else?"
"Nope, not that I can think of-WAIT...yeah, they said they were with Team Rocket!"
"Well, we already know that, they practically blurt it out themselves. But thank you for the information Mr. Campbell, any help at all is appreciated."
"Heh, no problem sir."
"You planning on doing a whole route of the island?"
"Sure, I mean that's what pokemon trainers do right?"
"Well you're not gonna have a problem in Celadon City I can tell ya that."
"Cuz the gym leader there's a grass-type, I remember you had a charmander correct?"
"...ohhhhhh...ohhh man I could score an easy win there, thanks sir!"
"No problem. Goodnight Mr. Campbell and thank you again."
"Night sir and...yeah, take care alright?"
With nothing else to offer, James left the police station to wind back to the hostel and rest. Corck however was not entirely satisfied, shaking his head silently at the red-haired young man as he brought out a cellphone from his pocket, leaning against the wall of the interrogation room.
"John? Yeah, I'm in Fuchsia City, we got a few new suspects waiting in the cells. Listen, can you get Victoria soon as she comes in tomorrow and give her a copy of that suspect photo? The one from the warehouse robbery, you know, that guy with the haunter. I need her to go to Celadon City, check out both there and Route 16 for anyone matching that description. No, I don't wanna bring him in, I just want someone to observe him, tail him a little. ...call it a hunch, now you get some rest and I'll call ya tomorrow."
Once FG was back in his room, he decided to do his own little investigation by sending out Kirie towards the park. The raptor stood waiting at the windowsill until the spirit returned sometime later.
"So...what was taken?"
Apparently three Kangaskhan have now gone missing since the events of the fire. The rangers have checked and rechecked every tag they have on every pokemon out there.
"Dammit...how did they get away with them?"
There must have been a fourth member.
"No, I swear there was only two."
What about the helicopter?
"I only saw one guy, well...I think I did, I didn't see the helicopter come IN, just when it got hit by that ice beam."
Then we must find out how. Corck mentioned about them having friends in Celadon City. I believe that should be our next destination.
"Sounds about right."
Also, I met Shin once again whilst out in the park. He wants to join you on our mission.
He has been considering what I have said, about how our goals are rather similar with possibly the same antagonists behind them. He believes that it would be a good idea for us to pool our strengths together in order to resolve everything.
"That WOULD be a good idea...but...would he be alright being part of my team? I mean, he kinda seems like a loner."
He is, normally. But he realises that one cannot work on their own forever.
"Heh, don't I know it. Alright, you can tell him he's part of us. If he doesn't mind being in a pokeball most of the time."
I think he has already prepared himself for it.
"Good, we'll see him tomorrow then, I need to sleep."
Doing just that, James slept off until sometime before noon, waking up fully refreshed along with his whole pokemon team. Shin met with FG just outside of the park, discreetly meeting in order to allow himself to be "captured" on the condition that he face off against any Team Rocket members they met, as well as being privy in every part of their investigation's progress. James agreed, reluctantly shaking hands by holding the flattened blade side of the scyther's forelimbs.
With Isaac once again out in front, and Kirie keeping a disguise on him at all times, James walked off towards the direction of Route 18. A beautiful sunny day, with a huge spanning bridge stretching out far to the north that already James was excited to walk along as it shimmered straight across an estuary. James was confused until he looked at his map, seeing that he was now at the point between the sea and an inland river, which led straight towards the port harbour of Vermillion City.
Just before he reached the gate station that separated routes, he heard a familiar old voice from behind him.
"Hello there youngster!"
Turning round, James saw the blind old man he had met on the beach before, his humble black cotton clothes and white wavy hair an oddly pleasing sight.
"Hey there sir, how ya doing?"
"Ohhh fine fine, jus' enjoyin' the ol' sun out here, gonna git to mah lottery soon."
"Hehehe, still doing that? One three seven right?"
"Hahaaaa yep, yep indeedy, got a mind like a steel trap sonny!"
"Heh, well I try."
"An' who's this li'l sonnyboy o' mine?"
"Weelll now aren't you a brave li'l soldier!"
Isaac waved his club happily in recognition of his strength, saluting sweetly and standing ground deftly so before the old man. His bell jingled with each movement he made, the man's eyes squinting as his ears twitched.
"Hmmm? Well now, thassa pretty nice bell ya got there, sounds a beaut."
"Well you be sure to keep yerself strong there sonny!"
The old man patted Isaac on the head, who smiled sweetly and patpatted at his hand as his bell kept ringing. James smiled at such affection as he said:
"He's a strong li'l guy for sure, he's on a big quest too."
"Ohhh is he now? Whut sorta quest there sonnyboy?"
"Cubone! Cu-cu-bone cu CUbone!"
"Ohhhhhh...yer lookin' fer someone aintcha?"
James blinked rather surprisingly.
"...how do you know that?"
"I been raisin' pokemon all my life boy, I know a thing or two about 'em just from the sound of their voice alone. Ehhhhh..."
The man bent down as best as he could, his knees creaking softly as he smiled down at the cubone through squinted old eyes.
"Now you don't stop lookin' fer that someone, you hear me son? No matter whut it is, or whut ya see, always follow yer heart, not matter whut it tells ya. Right?"
The cubone giggled at the man's finger prodding his tiny chest, smiling beneath his skull as the old man carefully stood back up again, cracking his back slightly before heading off towards Fuchsia City.
"Welp, time fer me to git to where ahm goin' sonny James. Now you take care of yerself."
"You too sir, thanks."
"Wish me luck!"
The old man waddled off happily, the raptor smiling through his disguised illusion as he walked right into the gate station with the pluckiest attitude possible. Unfortunately the dark cloud of bureaucracy would make sure to snuff that out temporarily. Walking through unabated through the small office-like gate where a few plants, a set of stairs and a guard's desk stood, the bespectacled guard said:
"Woah woah woah, where you going?!"
"...um...to the next route?"
"Nah-uh bud, you can't go that way without a bike."
"Route 17's the Cycling Road, only those with a bicycle or a motorcycle are allowed to go back and forth that way."
"Aw come on," whined James, "I don't wanna go all the way back AROUND just to get to Celadon City."
"Well ya shoulda bought a bike!"
"Are you SERIOUS?! Do you know how much a fucking bike COSTS on this island?! A million, a FUCKING MILLION DOLLARS! It's a bike, not a fucking private jet!"
"Hey, look, I'm not the one running the trade and commerce of bicycles here pal, I'm just here to make sure walkers like you don't go wandering off and getting run down by people out there."
"I can handle myself."
"If you get your ass hurt out there, I'M the one who'll be held responsible."
"Pfft, you ask me whoever built this cycling road's kinda doing a good job on holding a damn monopoly on the bicycle industry. What about the sea? Can I go along there?"
"Sailing and fishing on Route 17 is also prohibited."
"WHAT, it's UNDER the fucking bridge!"
"You know what also goes under the bridge?! Sea traffic! Boats coming in and out of there, it's way too dangerous to allow some kid to wander off between ferries coming in while they ride off on their lanturn."
"Okay okay I get it, that kinda makes sense but STILL, I-"
Let me handle this.
Kirie stopped FG from arguing and whispered an idea to his mind. Eventually he understood, sighing with forced acceptance as he said:
"Alright I'll...just go back around, I understand it's not safe."
"Thank you," said the guard. "I'm sorry but rules are rules."
"Yeaaaah it's fine. You take care alright?"
"I will, same to you."
James walked back towards Fuchsia City with heavy shoulders of resignation. A few minutes later however, another person came through on his own, pulling a bicycle alongside him. An older grey-haired gentleman with a moustache and an upper-class accent of British manners.
"Good day sir, fine weather this afternoon!"
"Sure is, you gonna be alright sir?"
"Oh why certainly, nothing like a good cycle up the lane like I've been doing since I was but a boy."
"Yeah? I never seen you around this way."
"Ahhhh...I was in a bit of a rather nasty fumble a few months back, fell off and broke my damn leg, took me half a year to fix the bloody thing up!"
"Wow jeez...glad yer alright then, be careful out there."
"You too sir! Good day!"
Passing through swiftly, the old man headed out with bicycle in tow but never getting on it. Once he was out of the gate station's view, his appearance began to melt away. Receding his grey hair back to stunning fair red, his bicycle disappeared only to reveal he was holding two strong-looking sticks that would look fitting for being hammer handles.
"Wow that worked like a charm," said FG.
Kirie revealed herself from above James, smiling down at him with a mischievous chuckle as he brought back out his cubone Isaac.
I must say your gentleman's accent is very good.
"Heh, it's the best voice I can do, I mean that or cockney."
And what exactly is cockney?
"Whoi issa bitta all this 'n' that, roigh' guvnor?! Li'l bit whurrr li'l bit whayyyy li'l bit dodgy, knowwhutahmean?!"
I...do not know what you mean...hmhmhm, I was almost tempted to make you look like a woman. Can you do that?
"Ahahaha, ahahaha, haha, fuck you."
"...d-dammit, don't be so willing like that, it's creepy!"
Oh-ho my, have I rustled the FinalGamer at last?
"What does that even MEAN, come on let's just walk up this stupid road."
James brought out Isaac once again from his pokeball to see where he would guide them.
"How's your bell ringing Isaac?"
Sadly the bell was not in the mood to ring today, at least not for now. The Cycling Road stretched out beyond them, resembling a motorway more than anything else to James with streetlights all along and hard smooth tarmac of a dark grey underneath his feet. He could see already the groups of cyclists and motorbike gangs revving up and around far in front of him. He began deeply wishing he had his old motorbike, or at least the one he had from the Mushroom Kingdom.
To stave his mind off boredom despite the relaxing scenery of the far open sea to his left and the wide wide river to his right, James related to Kirie his own stories of racing. He would talk of how he nearly won the Tanooki Cup, his days cut short in the F-Zero Races despite being an incredible natural at it according to him, and of course his own days street racing back home. Kirie listened with rapt attention, watching him turn more and more boyish with each new telling he had.
"So I was like FUCK THIS and I grabbed this star, and the moment I grabbed it in my hand, I was like WOAH I'm having an acid trip here cuz all I'm seeing next is this sea of rainbows right before my eyes!"
Ha ha ha, what happened?!
"Turns out this star was some kinda temporary boost that made me goddamn invincible, so I just TORE through everyone! And that one boo asshole, I fucking SLAM my fist right in the back of his head and win the whole thing!"
Oh ho ho ho, such a devious competitor you are!
"And there was confetti everywhere, I mean for the first race and all it was awesome, and there was Koopin right there standing up and squealing with joy, so I grab him and kiss him right in front of everyone. Heh...maaaaan...was the best day ever."
I am glad to see that you are enjoying yourself...it is unfortunate we do not have a means of transport.
"Yeah...dammit I wanna motorbike again. I mean, if I had just something with wheels, not even a bike like a-a-a pair of skates or something, I-...wait...waaaait a minute."
"...all I need to be on this road are wheels right? ...do they sell skates here, like roller skates?"
I believe they do...but I am uncertain as to where we may find them nearby.
"...heh. No need. They're nice and small...I have an idea. It's a little bit crazy, but we're crazy guys right?"
James had been flicking through his memories in every single thing related to high velocity he could possibly think of. He had his days in the street races, the F-Zero, the Tanooki Cup, but he had also remembered more humble origins before the big leagues with a motor engine. Something that he had almost forgotten about for the last ten years. He wasn't sure if he was even capable of making this again, but considering what he had made before, it was worth a try. The memories that came along with it were not pleasant, but he focused on one thing only.
He stood on a quiet section of road and began to focus his energy, willing the nanos together as he tried to imagine a picture in his mind. The word GRIND popped up to him, as he saw a strange image blur across his mind. A running youth, yellow and green on a sunny day in a big city, grinding onto a railing with a pair of inline skates fiercely scraping across the steel with blue sparks. The blue sparks seared into his mind, the nanos coalescing as he felt something leathery with metal studs form around his feet.
Reopening his eyes a few minutes later with a strong numbing headache, he stared down at himself with shock. A pair of beautiful inline skates, with orange colours and sharp green wheels, four in a row on each. James rubbed toes within them, admiring the polished look as Kirie and Isaac look at him with wonder.
That...how...so you ARE able to create things.
"I don't know how," said James blankly, "I just...I think I can make some things, solid things and they can only be small things, not very complex stuff either least in terms of uh...composition was it? But...holy shit these are beautiful, this is designer stuff! Look at the soul plate on these, they're so smooth like brand new!"
"This plastic plate here on the underside of the boot, holy shit these...oh yeah. I know what we're doing today."
James smiled the sort of smile he hadn't used since he first bought a bike with Koopin. Isaac watched with rapt attention as the raptor tried to steadily balance himself on the skates, smiling as he slowly moved back and forth along the road. They felt certainly felt as if they had never been worn, his legs swaying back and forth with each small push of his foot against the ground. It had been a long time, but having a natural sense of balance helped immensely with him.
"Awwwww these are perfect, feel how smooth they are!"
You're taking to this rather well James.
"Heh, please, I used to skate when I was a kid before I had a bike, this stuff you never forge-woah...heh...well, I'll pick it up eventually no problem. But now we got a good way of heading up the road!"
"Cu-cu-bone! Eh, ehhh!"
Isaac raised his hands up pleading to be taken along with him, the raptor chuckling as he slowly skated past the cubone while sweeping him up into his arms, smiling.
"Tell ya what, you can ride along with me but we gotta make sure you can hold on."
Kirie pulled out a long rope from James' satchel, something she recommended he pick up in case they were ever stuck inside a cave or so long ago. Slowly she binded Isaac to James' chest, like a baby in a carrier. Making sure the little one was strapped in tight, the raptor chuckled as he slowly skated a little more to get the feel of the new boots. He still wondered where they even came from, or how he could create such sophisticated items. But right now, he had to address a certain need for speed that was calling for him.
"You ready everybody?"
"Let's get grindin' and let's get taggin'!"
He dashed forwards with a shove of the back foot, propelling himself as the wheels beneath his feet spun wonderfully so with each other. Four wheels beneath each foot, his legs pushing out behind him one after the other as his arms automatically began to swing forwards in sync, back and forth. Kyrie had no problems keeping up with James, smiling as she watched him tear across the road that so perfectly rubbed against every spin of every wheel. Isaac was squealing with glee at the gathering speed they were now going.
Tightly bound to his master's chest, the cubone waved his bone club with joy as the wind streaked past his skull, squinting his eyes as he tried to keep looking ahead with James. The raptor in turn swiftly found himself skating left and right, going all over the slightly uphill road with a growing glee in his heart. It didn't take him long to see cyclists ahead, grinning as he swished his way past their surprised looks. They didn't even have a chance to challenge him for a battle for the speed he was going.
It was strange enough that he had a cubone strapped to his chest, who was laughing happily while waving his arms in child-like joy. The sea breeze flowed through their nostrils, wheels scraped against the gravel hard, the sound of which brought back many memories to James' youngest days. He weaved between bikers and cyclists, from young couple to grizzly bikers all of whom either sneered, smiled or even cackled at the rather bizarre sight.
Then James saw an opportunity that he could never pass up. A railing as long as the road itself, right in the middle. With an instinctive muscle memory, he burst forwards with a sudden speed and hopped onto the rail, angling his skates perfectly with the cold shining steel. Violent blue sparks came out from his wheels as he grinded hard along the rail at the same speed as he had been skating. Isaac squealed with wonder at how such a thing was possible. In truth, so was James.
The raptor in disguise spread his arms out as his body stayed sideways, testing his balance which stayed surprisingly firm on the rail, almost as if his feet were magnetically tight against the rail. He quickly switched positions, turning his whole body around to face behind him, arms out on either side of the railing as he kept on grinding. He soon felt more confident in his strangely-perfect balance and stood up straight, feet apart from each other as if in walking stance.
Soon he started to lose momentum, needing more speed to keep grinding. He jumped and spun off the railing, facing north once again uphill as he slammed his skates into the ground and tore ahead with extra speed for a minute or two before jumping back onto the railing. This time he got cocky, and raised one foot in front of him as if about to karate kick. His sole skate kept on grinding flawlessly, cyan-coloured sparks frothing from the steel as he cackled maniacally. Isaac was loving the boyish excitement, clapping while bouncing against James' chest.
Sometimes James had other people try to follow him for fun, from bicyclists ringing their bells with glee to bikers revving up their engines furiously, almost all of whom smiled at him as he streaked past. Soon however, Celadon City was slowly coming into view, and he knew the ride had to end. But he was going to make the last leg of the road worth it, hopping from one foot to the other while on the rail with the occasional half-turn. The last streetlight of the road was straight ahead of him.
The moment he leaped against it in an attempt to kick off of it onto the road, the skates clamped hard with magnetic strength and skidded straight upwards to the top of the light pole itself. James cried out with panic as Isaac squealed in turn as if they were going up on a rollercoaster. The moment he reached the top of the light, he leapt off and back down onto the road by kicking off of it, pushing forwards to the final stretch of the Cycling Road. He skidded slowly to a stop, doing a half-turn to slow down his momentum.
"Whoo...YEAH! AUGH I've missed doing this!"
"Hell yeah, you had fun Isaac?!"
"Hooooo...still, what is WITH these skates, they're fucking awesome!"
I have no idea, but they appear to have some magnetic properties.
"Yeah, I noticed the way they just cling to steel like it was glue...man. I need to remember to use these more often...welp, guess we better walk now. But...how do I get rid of these things?"
Can you not make your...powers, remove them? They built them, they can destroy them can they not?
"Hmmmm...I guess. Lemme see."
With a slight sadness at the road's end, James willed his nanos to his feet, using the same energies he had focused at the start of the road in order to bring the skates into existence. He realised in the back of his mind how absurd, even for him, that this all was. But after so many worlds and so many oddities, that thought alone was rather alien to him. The magnetic skates slowly disintegrated, eaten away by the nanos in some strange form of reversible energy. He sighed heavily as they disappeared, a throbbing headache now forming in his mind.
"Dammit...my head hurts everytime I use these too much."
Let us get something to drink then. I know a few good places in Celadon City where we can relax.
"Heh, alright then. Come on Isaac, let's go."
Untying Isaac from his chest, he put the rope back in his satchel before they walked towards the gate station that lead to the next city. Naturally they had to use the disguise of the elderly gentleman and his bicycle in order to pass through unsuspected, and soon they were in the city itself. One of the largest cities in all of Kanto.
Whereas Saffron City had been a grey cityscape of cheerless businessmanship and rigid corporate structures, Celadon City was like the fun-loving opposite neighbouring city. Colourful, expansive, open-hearted with wide squares and outside cafes. Arcades, restaurants, stores of every kind and advertising for the latest most exciting products for humans and pokemon alike. The explosion of joyful commercialism was quite something for James to experience on an island of all places.
Isaac was enraptured by it all, squealing with joy at everything he saw. The smooth cobbled squares, the smell of fresh coffee and cold soda drinks, fresh fruits and even fresher pastries tantalisingly within reach. The sun was shining with merriment on all down below as people walked back and forth, with or without pokemon from birds to snakes to rodents. The cubone was especially delighted by seeing his own name scream out from a billboard high above him, pointing excitably up at the name Isaac Stiles.
James smirked, recognising the name from a magazine back in Lavender Town, presumably one that specialised in pokemon fashion. The city offered everything possible to them, and they were going to try every single thing the city could want to give them. The southern part of the city offered restaurants, a hotel, the Gym and the Game Corner. The northern part of the city had the Pokemon Center, condominiums which was offering job openings for a development company called Game Freak inside, and the Celadon Department store.
Firstly they tried out the Game Corner, finding it was actually a casino which did not interest James as a particularly obvious tourist trap. The Gym intrigued him with the potential for how easy it would be for Red to completely pave his way to victory within it, considering it for another time. After a long walk around the city which slowly stretched out to afternoon, he decided to check out the Department Store. Six stories tall and clearly the largest store in all of Kanto, which he went in with Kirie alone while Isaac went back into his pokeball.
The first floor was merely the service counter with information about each floor. The second floor was a market for trainers that offered every single item available. Potions, antidotes, healing salves, pokeballs, even Technical Machines which James had completely forgotten about, including the one single TM he had in his small case. He made a mental note to use it at some point later on as he carefully considered what items to buy, stocking up on antidotes and potions especially.
The third floor was all electronics, but it especially catered to videogames which excited James considerably. Most of the games were rather odd to him, either puzzle games, pinball games or even virtual combat simulators all of which included pokemon. One particular game he found intriguing was a photography-based game, taking pictures of pokemon to earn points. Kirie did not enjoy the look of this game.
The fourth floor was a gift shop, which had all sorts of strange and wonderful items on sale for one's pokemon. From greeting cards to evolution stones, dolls to T-shirts, it made James see truly how pokemon were regarded in this world. He was starting to realise they were more like family and friends rather than actual pets, which made him smile at such. He even opted to try on a few T-shirts and hoodies from a clothing brand known as 151, none of which he felt truly comfortable with.
The fifth floor was a pharmacy, filled to the brim with the latest in body enhancing items for pokemon. From the typical natural chemicals of iron, calcium and protein shakes, to the stranger steroid-like X Attack and Guard Spec., the raptor in disguise was rather surprised that such things existed. The sight of a machoke cut-out as the drug store mascot did not help matters, making James wonder how much of their muscle was even natural.
The sixth and final floor was the roof itself, and it was here that James found to be the best part of the city, for it was the highest point of the city itself. With nobody around, it was the perfect opportunity to release all of his pokemon out together, and enjoy the warm afternoon rays. The beedrill, lapras, cubone, charmeleon, haunter and scyther, all of whom began to relax in the open-roofed top of the Celadon City department store.
The rooftop was rather simple in its design, to not distract the eye from the beautiful view all around them. The sea was shining to the south, mountains dotted with green forestry to the north like a brushstroke painting, a rising metropolis to the east and yet more of the sea spanning far along the west. The rooftop itself also had a picnic table to sit down at, as well as some vending machines that James perked up at the sight of.
"Hey guys, drinks are on me, want some?"
Even Sarah was eager for a drink, for she was not particularly eager to be on a rooftop so very far away from the sea. Thankfully however, James bought her two bottles of water to help her cool down for a small while, one to drink and one to spray all over her body with Kirie's help. Isaac had lemonade, whilst Red, Kirie, Spike and Shin enjoyed some soda pop. The insectoid beedrill and scyther were particularly eager to enjoy the thickening sugars, the wasp curling out a small long tongue to sap it dry like a flower.
For the time being, the seven of them relaxed in peace around the picnic table, sipping quietly as the sun began to set. Isaac and Red sat together on the tabletop, Kirie and Spike floated listlessly, Shin and Sarah sat on the floor in contemplation of other things and James sat on his seat. The sky turned a pinkish-orange hue that made James sigh wistfully.
"Man, what a beautiful view."
Mmmm agreed...so relaxing to be up here...especially in the setting sun.
"Heh...this is the kinda place that makes me wanna be with Koopin again."
Oh? Why this place specifically?
"Well...Koopin always loved sunsets...and...a place like this, high above the streets in full view of the rays of the dying light...heh, he'd totally wanna have me dance with him."
Really? ...Sarah asks what does this Koopin look like?
"Ahhh lemme show ya."
He brought out his photo of Koopin's family from the satchel, delighted to have an excuse to do so as he showed all of his pokemon the kindly young turtle. Their reactions ranged from charming curiosity to complete indifference.
He seems a kind boy.
"He is...the nicest guy I ever knew."
...would you like to dance?
I said, would you like to dance with me James? It's a lovely open place here and no one will disturb us.
I may not be the one you love, but I can offer you some respite to soothe your heart...with a little waltz.
"...heh...that'd be...weird, I...never danced with a...spirit before."
There's always a first time.
Kirie floated beside James to take him by the hand, pulling him up softly as he had no reason to say no. Whether it was his wistfulness, his growing emptiness in his heart at missing Koopin or something else, he stood up as Kirie slowly held both of his hands.
You know as a spirit I am able to create all sorts of illusions.
Well...would you like me to create one for you? To soothe your heart a little, perhaps a dance with the one you love.
"You...really? ...I...would that be okay?"
Of course James, I am offering.
Close your eyes.
James did so and held Kirie's small hands firmly in his, sighing as he tried to ignore how weird this situation was. He felt something happen before him, a strange misty air roll across in front of him, as Kirie soon said:
You can open them now.
Standing before James was a sight that made his heart skip two beats, a shuddering gasp of shock as he held on tight to two butter-yellow hands. Koopin was standing before him, smiling sweetly with clear blue eyes. Before he could say anything, a koopa's finger was pressed to his lips as Kirie's voice echoed in his head.
Shhhh...do not think...believe. Now dance with him.
In the far back of his mind, he knew it was her, the spirit and her trickery. But he allowed himself to believe it was not, as his eyes focused purely on Koopin, the world of Kanto around him fading away from his perception. With a hand on his waist and one within his own, the two took up a waltzing stance, and began to softly sway with each other. He didn't even think of anything extravagant to do, no grand steps, no flourishing tango. Just a simple softly turning dance, like a figurine in a music box.
Stepping back and forth they moved with each other, their feet moving left then right before spinning slowly on the spot. The two would embrace occasionally, close to each other as James' emotions began to strengthen towards Koopin, sighing deeply against his cheek before spinning together once more. Whether it was a relief to feel this warmth again, or a mournfulness to have missed it for this long, he did not know. He didn't even know how long it had been. A month had already become a year away to his memory.
They picked up their pace as they began to turn with each other, a light spring in their steps as smiles were exchanged. The raptor and the koopa were lost within each other's eyes, the world around them nonexistent in a cloud of pinkish-fuchsia. They stepped a little faster, the raptor leading first with one, two, three before dipping Koopin back, his head falling backwards while held up by James' hand. He pulled him up and slowly stepped back in the other direction before spinning twice, holding him closely to his chest.
Every so often, when James' shoulder was buried into Koopin's, the kindly koopa face turned towards the small audience at the picnic table with a smirking wink, the eyes changing briefly from blue to a purplish tint. Soon the raptor sweeped him close to his body once more, pulling the head against his shoulder as he sighed breathlessly against his cheek. The koopa did the same thing, panting with a soft whimper that made James' heart twitch with love, as he brought his lips to him.
Without even saying a word, he kissed him, as their eyes both closed. A tender embrace, a soft meeting of lips in the simplicity of love, without the deeper lust of the tongue. Kirie's words pulsed through his mind, somewhat shaky now as she asked him:
C-close your eyes still...keep them closed...n-now...let go.
The raptor did as he was asked, letting go of his love as his lips pulled away from him, taking his breath along with them.
You may...open them now.
James opened his eyes to see Kirie before him, back once again on the rooftop as the two panted heavily with emotional fatigue. His group by the table simply looked at them with smirking curiosity, the raptor feeling as if he had been left out of an amusing joke. Kirie however smiled, somehow blushing through her ghostly features.
Did that...help you, James?
"Yes...hhhhhh...yes it did. Thank you."
I am glad I could help you...hmhmhmhm...
With a rather uncertain dazed look in his eyes, James slowly walked back to his group at the picnic table, sighing as he sat back down with a strange sense of relief now coming to him. Kirie merely smiled behind him, biting her lip softly whilst clutching a wispy hand to her body. Inner thoughts brewed troublesomely within her, as she suppressed her urges once again before floating back to her friends. Red and Isaac nudged each other with a wink at what had transpired, mimicking pretend smooches and looks of disgust while giggling to each other.
Soon it was getting dark, and James gathered everyone back into their pokeballs before heading to the hotel in the southern district. Sarah was also rather eager to leave due to her aquatic nature, as they disposed of their drinks before leaving the department store in its final moments of closing time. For the time being, there appeared to be nothing of interest to their investigation. At least, not until the next morning.