His Own Road

Sixteen-year-old Ethan Hawkins just wants to train pokemon. He is enrolled at St. Margaret Academy in Sandy Hills, four hours from the city he’s spent all his life in. He absolutely hates it; his old friends get to stay back in town and attend trainer schools near their homes. Just his luck to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, on his own, away from his favorite types… forced to fit in with peers who want nothing to do with him. What’s a guy to do? One of the first pokemon he accidentally meets is weakling that follows him around like a lost puppy. As the world of the American League unfolds before him, Ethan realizes he may have bitten off more than he can chew. On top of that, he gets tangled in a mess of thievery that could very well end his new journey before it even begins.

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4. Field Trip, Anyone? (Get Mareep, Psyduck, Skorupi, Cleffa)

The next day when Ethan returned to the Winetta Lab, it seemed just as busy as last night. Pokemon and workers alike continued to hurry back and forth all over the first floor. He did notice that there wasn’t as many towering shelves as the day before though. Whatever they were doing, it certainly was working. The weather was nice and warm for the afternoon, Ethan sported jean shorts and a simple t-shirt. His brand new pokemon egg was tucked safely in his bookbag and that was on his back. Now that he finally had a pokemon there was no way on Earth he would leave it sitting around, anywhere. That included in his dorm.

One of the chapters belonging to the heavy book Tasha had given him explained that it was better for trainers to travel with their eggs. He learned that hearing a wide variety of sounds helps the development of the babies. He had the book in his bag as well.

Camryn wasn’t at the help desk beside the elevators but she did inform him to let himself into the lost and found whenever he arrived. He did just that. To his surprise he found Xander and three women in the small white room when he entered. The blonde, Summer, was sitting on the counter like she owned the place. Still sporting those neat braids above an ear on one side of her head. The rest of her hair was tied back to a ponytail. She wore dark leggings and a baggy shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows.  Her backpack was on the floor under her. It looked just as bulky as his.

Camryn leaned on the white marble, in another pair of jeans and a crop top that really flaunted how top heavy she was. Xander was on the couch dressed in a shirt with the sleeves cut off, as well as shorts with an assortment of chains hanging from the seams. His egg was sitting in its case in a far corner of the counter nearby. Beside him, and probably what shocked him the most, was Ms. Willows.

She sat with her legs crossed, wearing her usual glasses, a comfortable t-shirt and cargo shorts. Her hair was tied into a bun and around her neck was the string of a bucket hat. The actual piece of headwear itself covered her chest.

She smiled when they met eyes.

He wanted to say something to her, however Summer spoke first, jumping off the counter. “There you are!”

She hurried right up to him, getting inches from his face. Sweet baby Arceus, she was so close, she could’ve stolen a kiss. Her freckled face smelled like strawberries. “Hey, sorry about yesterday. I was caught up in a whirlwind of stuff that had me running like a chicken without a head.”

“It’s alright,” Ethan took a step back, a little put off by how this girl ignored boundaries. “It was a lot to take in for me too.”

“First day is always the craziest.” Camryn closed her eyes, a thoughtful smile creeping across her lips.

Xander shrugged. “You’ll get used to it.”

Ethan would have introduced himself properly but he felt like the two of them were past that. He looked down for a second, unsure of what to say next. Camryn stepped in mercifully, pulling his bag out of a locker and placing it on the marble.

“Bet you’re happy to see this.” She said giggling.

“I really am!” He replied, unzipping it and checking the belongings within. When everything was accounted for he zipped it back then moved to the floor in front of him.

He decided to talk about the most important thing to him at the moment. His future little buddy of course. Dropping to one knee he spun around to Ms. Willows while removing his backpack.

“Ms. Willows, check this out!” He yanked out his egg, sporting one of the biggest smiles on his faces.

The good people of the lab sealed his growing partner in a damn near impervious case of tough plastic, steel and flexible glass. They provided one to all of Ethan’s new friends. According to the staff it was water proof, fire proof, and shatter proof. Inside a web of large rings built around the glass held the egg firmly in place. If the case was ever dropped the shell wouldn’t be damaged. It also contained a timer that when set, would periodically provide warmth to the egg just like a parent would in the wild.

Honestly it looked closer to a glass jar one would have for their kitchen to store teabags or sugar or cookies in. Only it was big enough to fit a football inside. It had a brown plastic top, to match the pattern of chocolate diamonds across the egg. The lid itself was as tough as the rest of the thing. In order to get it open it was armed with a tiny number pad that needed a personal password inserted. To prevent the egg from being stolen, of course.

Seeing how happy Ethan looked caused Ms. Willows to chuckle. “My, my, it seems I missed one interesting evening. Congratulations! I’d say you’re fitting in quite nicely around here. Did you find a ground type, like you wanted?”

“I chose from a shelf without any pictures. I wanted it to be mystery.”

Ms. Willows nodded. “Fascinating! I look forward to watching you and your partner grow over the coming months.” Her smile widened. “I hope you’ll work hard, I don’t tolerate any slackers in my class.”

Ethan blinked at her. “Huh?”

Xander rolled his eyes. “You goof, she’s going to be teaching the breeding class!”

His jaw hung open upon learning the news. He gazed at her, finally understanding which kind of trainers she looked over. “You… you’re a breeder!”

“One of the best in the league,” Camryn said matter-of-factly. “Outside of these walls she’s a celebrity.”

Ms. Willows examined her nails as if she was a movie star. Then she lifted her nose haughtily. “Well I don’t like to brag but… ohohohoho!”  

Ethan couldn’t believe it. He stared at her, letting the information sink in. A gym leader… and a celebrity known all across the country… at this school! If he’d known this from the beginning he would have been bouncing in his chair during the ride here. It seems he might have lucked out! He glanced at Xander and Summer and even they looked a little star struck.

Summer hurried over to her bag. She snatched up her own choice, an egg the color of a walnut. Similar to Xander’s, red claw marks surrounded the shell. It was safely tucked in a bright red case. “My partner’s gonna be litleo! I’ve already got a nickname for it, and its own place to sleep in my room.”

Ethan raised his eyebrows. Should he be as prepared as she is?

He turned to Camryn, a grin forming on his face. “Sooooo… I heard that you’re a ruthless battler.”

Camryn tilted her head, now smiling. “Little old me? I don’t have a cold bone in my body.”

That made Xander laugh. He really liked her. “How about a little one-on-one?”

“Hmm,” Camryn looked up, letting the idea roll around in her head for a minute. “It really sounds fun, but I’ll be busy today.”

“You're not doing anything right now.”

“Of course I am. Why do you think Ms. Willows is here?”

Ethan turned to the woman. Good point. Why was she here today?

“I wasn't finished!” Summer stomped a foot down and pointed at Ethan before moving her finger to Xander. “You boys better watch out, I’m planning on roasting the competition!”

Xander snorted, folding his arms. “Yeah okay, princess. Whatever helps you sleep at night.”

Summer marched right up to him. She put her hands on her hips and bent over to look him dead in the face. He could damn near see the fire in her eyes. “I will be number one. I'll light up anyone in my way.”

“Big talk coming from a spoiled brat with no pokemon.” Xander glared at her.

“Only a matter of time,” Summer shot back, not backing down. “Once litleo hatches everyone will be eating my smoke. You'll be the first.”

Ethan shuddered. Geez this girl was a handful. How does her friends tolerate her?

Xander looked at Ethan. “Can you believe this chick?!” He chuckled. “Freaking noobs, I swear.”

“Settle down, settle down,” Ms. Willows stood to her feet. “What Camryn was referring to was my little afternoon task up in the Scarlet Forest.”

She continued, raising a finger. “I originally wanted second and third year students only to travel along with me, because of the wilderness. But this is a good a time as any for new students to study the habitats and behaviors of many woodland pokemon.”

Ms. Willows looked scanned the room, making sure to meet the eyes of Xander, Ethan and Summer. “How about it? Are you all in?”

Summer and Ethan were pumped. After all, Ethan hoped this would give him a chance to get a second pokemon! He was getting so excited his heart was racing. Wait a minute… he didn’t know a thing about catching pokemon! His stomach plunged in a wash of fear. Sure he’d seen hundreds of trainers on television as well as the internet do it. They made it look easy. But Ethan had never held a pokeball, plus he sucked at sports and games involving throwing balls or other objects. He couldn’t throw something to save his life, bad aim.

Now this little excursion was seeming less and less appealing to him.

Xander sighed dropping his head. “Fine. I’ll go, long as I get to catch new pokemon.”

Ms. Willows nodded. “That seems like a fair trade.”

Summer looked on, aghast. “Hey that’s not cool! How come he’s the only one to catch pokemon?!”

“I’m a sophomore. Better privileges.” Xander said, a little amused as he hung those words over Summer. “Sorry princess.”

“But what if we run into a pokemon or something and it follows us? What then?”

“Scare it off.” Xander said coldly. “Fight it till’ it faints.”

“That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?” Camryn asked, somewhat annoyed.

“No, it’s not.” He rose from the couch. Hs words had no feeling in them at all. “They’re freshmen! They shouldn’t even have pokemon eggs yet, for Christ’s sake!”

“But they do, and you can’t change that.” Camryn countered calmly.

Ms. Willows tucked some bangs behind an ear as she thought to herself. “Mmm, they may be first years, but since Ethan and Summer are a special case of freshmen now. And they technically already have pokemon. I suppose they can each go for one, and one only.”

“HAH!” Summer stuck her tongue out at Xander. He in turned sneakily rubbed the corner of his nose using his middle finger.

Ethan couldn’t help but think of Clarke and Marco. The looks on their faces when he returned to his dorm with his second pokemon! A pang of guilt hit him, he couldn’t gloat like that around them, not after how willing they were to help him get his belongings back…

He turned to Ms. Willows. “Can my roommates join us? They’re also students of your class.” He scratched his cheek. “Honestly I wouldn’t have been in this position if it weren’t for one of them.”

Ms. Willows smiled. “As long as they’re future students, I don’t see the harm. The more the merrier! It’ll be our first field trip!”

“Thanks!” Ethan beamed. He hurried over to the white counter, towards Camryn. “Can I use your phone? I’ll call Marco and Clarke, if I can.”

“Sure thing.” She said, pushing the landline phone his way. “I’ll go talk to Tasha, see if she wants to add any new types to her collection.”

By the time everything was done, the entire gang was coming along for the fun, eight people in all. The lost and found room was as crowded as it was the day before. Clarke came with a duffle bag, dressed in a tan tank top, a denim vest and jean shorts. He brought along a couple quick balls; he got it from his dad’s ranch and had been saving it for a moment like this. Unlike Ethan he was familiar with caching pokemon.

Marco showed up also wearing his backpack, jeans, a plaid button-up. He’d been holding on to a friend ball for the occasion. Tasha was right behind him, she wore a frilly white dress with a brightly colored blouse to match. Her braids bounced on her back as she skipped in, a big smile on her face. Her cutiefly was right by her side of course. They all headed back to the basement at Tasha’s request. Ethan, Summer, Marco and Clarke, as well as Xander needed to collect a pokeball for their future partners. While they were down there they grabbed a few more in preparation for their little trip to the woods.

Their pokeballs appeared to be no bigger than golf balls at first. They certainly felt as heavy as them. That was so the things can fit into the pockets of backpacks, cargo shorts, just about anything. Ethan was grateful for the lab staff showing him how to properly use one. He learned he had to press on the large button in the center of the capsule, which allowed it to expand into something the size of a softball. The true form. Light yet compact, once a pokemon was captured inside it would no longer be able to revert to its shrunken state. Instead it would need to be attached to a trainer’s belt, something he would have to get later on.

To solve the problem of weakening the creatures they wanted to catch, they were allowed to borrow a low-leveled pokemon from the lab. They all stood in front of the elevator as a red-haired woman named Laura pushed a large cart full of capsules in front of them. Three shelves full of Pokemon for the taking.

“Awesome!” Clarke ran up to it and picked up a ball off the top. He looked up at the ginger haired woman who wheeled the thing to them. “What’s in this one?”

Laura giggled. “See for yourself.”

Clarke pushed on the button in the middle of the pokeball, watching as a blinding flash filled his vision once it opened. There was a loud pop and after the light and noise died off he found himself staring down at a mareep.

“Eeeeeeeeep!” He cried out, staring up at him.

“Sweet! Hey little guy.” Clarke kneeled down to rub its head. “I know how to handle a mareep! My pop has a bunch of em’ on his ranch. This is perfect for me!”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Said the red haired woman, with a smile.

“As am I.” Ms. Willows added. She scanned the rest of the group. “Who’s next?”

“ME!” Summer rushed forward before Marco could even twitch a muscle.

She hurried right up to the cart and bent over, grabbing a capsule from the lower shelf. Ethan couldn’t help but steal a look at her backside as she did. Her cheeks seemed nice and full. Not too big, but her buns did have just enough jiggle when she moved.

The fact that her leggings clung to her lower half only prolonged his stare as they flaunted every curve and crevice. Ethan felt heat fill his face, he quickly looked away, feeling a bit guilty.

“This one!” She came back up with a pokeball. She pressed down on the button then tossed it into air over her. “Come on out!”

Another brilliant beam of light filled the space before them. When Ethan removed his arm from his eyes, a psyduck was standing beside Summer’s right leg.

“Duck.” He said.

Summer frowned. She didn’t look very pleased to be having such a dopey looking creature, of all pokemon.

“Good choice,” Laura said. “In battle psyducks are known to tap into a mysterious power, perhaps you'll get to see it today.”

Her words didn't cheer up Summer at all.

“Th-thank you…” She mumbled, her lips quivering. She looked like she wanted to cry.

Xander sniggered, causing her to shoot him a dirty look.

“Duuuuck.” He looked up at her, holding its head.

“I believe it’s my turn,” Marco stepped forward, pushing his glasses on his nose. He walked over to the cart and snatched up a pokeball from the far-left corner. He studied it for a minute, narrowing his eyes.

“This one is a skorupi,” He began, facing the woman after he was done. “Exactly what I wanted.

Laura blinked at him, astounded. “Yes, that’s… how did you know?”

He grinned. “Lucky guess, I suppose.”

“Wow, nice job!” Tasha clapped.

Ethan took a breath. He made his way to the cart, running his hands. Dropping to his knees he took a pokeball from the very bottom shelf. He picked himself up and released his partner for the day. His hand shook as capsule opened, felt like he had an exploding firecracker in his fingers. After the umpteenth spark of light finished he dropped his head, meeting a cleffa at his feet.

His eyebrows twitched. It couldn't be… not this…!

“Fa!” She spoke in a cute squeaky tone.

Ooooooh mmmmmmmmy gooooooshhhhhh!” Ms. Willows, Summer, Tasha and Camryn all exclaimed simultaneously, clasping their hands over their chests.

The boys could only look on, totally bewildered.

Ethan damn near had to jump out of the way to avoid being trampled as the girls surrounded the pink star shaped creature.

Tasha picked up the cleffa and hugged it. “She's sooooo cute!”

“Yes you are, oh yes you are!” Camryn ran a finger through the tuft of curly fur on cleffa’s head. “God, she's adorable! I want her!”

“Cleeeefff…” Tears began to well in the baby pokemon’s eyes. It was not enjoying the attention. Ethan could see that much.

“Uh, girls....?” He began. He was conflicted. Stuck between wanting them to give him his freaking pokemon back and letting the ladies all shower it with affection. To be honest it wasn't really his ideal choice for a teammate. Something he had in mind was a bit more battle ready, or a more robust looking pokemon. Cleffa didn’t fit any of those bills.

“Well, we now know who won't have trouble talking to any girl this year…” Marco sighed.

“Look at Ethan…” Clarke put his hands in his pockets. “I don't know whether to laugh at him or envy him.”

“Are you kidding?” Xander scoffed. “That pink cotton ball is all charm. Totally useless in a fight. He's got the short end of the stick.”

Ms. Willows poked at cleffa’s cheeks, speaking baby gibberish. “I wust want to twake wu wome and wuddle wu wall way~”

“Eeeeefff…” Cleffa shut its eyes, on the verge of letting the water works loose.

Summer tugged at one of its tiny arms. “Uugggh! Why couldn't I get something as fluffy as you?!”

“Psyyyyy…” Her psyduck looked down somberly.

Ethan decided he couldn't let the girls continue this torture. He walked straight up to Tasha and yanked his partner from her.

“Hey!” She protested, about to reach for it once more. “I wasn't—”

“It isn't a doll!” He shot her an annoyed look.

“Hold on, chill man,” Camryn started. “We were only—”

“I know.” Ethan nodded, calming himself. “But you guys were about to make it cry. Cleffa cleary isn't ready for so much attention.”

Still in Ethan’s arms the cleffa looked up at him, blinking cutely. She closed her eyes and relaxed, snuggling against his chest.

“Faaaaa.” It said with a soft exhale.

The redhead noticed this and giggled. “Seems it's official now. She likes you. I think you'd only upset her more if you left her here.”

She raised her arms. “That goes for the rest of you all too. If you connect with those pokemon go on and keep them. Give them a chance!”

Ethan wanted to groan. Great. Now he was stuck with it. That's what he got for following his heart. He watched it for a few minutes. He felt a smirk creep into the corner of his mouth. On second that, she really was There was no way he could stay upset after looking at her.

Ms. Willows cleared her throat. “Thank you, Laura. The day isn't getting any brighter students. Let's get going.”

 

 

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