I stumbled out of the cave of Mt. Moon and into the last lights of the sun. I could see the lights of Cerulean City at the base of the small hill before me, and pushed forward. A martial artist practicing nearby with a friend stopped me as I walked past.
"Hey, girlie," he said, a large smile on his face.
"Please don’t call me that," I said. His smile wavered as he got closer to me and could see me in the dim light. I wondered briefly what my face must have looked like.
"Sorry," he replied. "Are you a Pokemon trainer?"
I nodded. “I probably wouldn’t be coming out of Mt. Moon if I wasn’t a trainer, don’t you think?”
He laughed. “Yeah, I suppose that’s true!”
I smiled weakly. When did I start being this tired? “Sorry, but can you just tell me what you want? I’d like to get to the Pokemon Center in Cerulean before it’s too late for dinner.”
"Oh, yeah, uh, sorry ‘bout that!" He was quite a jolly person. "What kinds of Pokemon do you have? Want me to teach one of them a neat move?"
"Oh, sure," I said, "why not? What move is it?"
He went into martial arts mode, hopped back a few feet, and began kicking the empty air. “Mega Kick!” he said excitedly, returning to the relaxed attitude he had before. “It’s not all that reliable sometimes, but it’s insanely powerful!”
I nodded, somewhat more enthusiastically than I would have liked, and reached into my bag for Forte’s Pokeball. “Yeah, can my Mankey learn that?”
“‘Course!” he said. He held out his hand. “Just hand over the Pokeball, and I’ll teach yer Mankey Mega Kick! Oh, and then give it right back to you, of course.”
I hesitated a bit, but he seemed like a pretty good guy, so I handed him the Pokeball. He ran over to where his friend was punching a rock, and grabbed something from what I assume was his bag on the ground. He jogged back so he could show me.
"See this?" he said, holding up a small tube-shaped object that I recognized as a TM. I nodded, hoping he would do it for me, since I had no idea how to use it. "Just gotta plug it in to the Pokeball!"
He took off the cap and showed it to me. It looked kind of like a flashdrive, but circular instead of rectangular. He made Forte’s Pokeball full-size, and plugged the end of the TM into the button of the ball.
"Right here, see?" He twisted it, and it glowed for a moment before dimming. "Once you plug it in, you twist it like that, and wait for it to finish transferring the data. Then you can take it out once it stops glowing. Shame they’re only one use though."
He handed Forte’s Pokeball back to me, with the drive still in it, and I looked at it in wonderment. “Thank you,” I said. It was good to know how to use TMs now. “And just like that, she knows the move?”
"Yeah, well, you should probably check your Pokedex," he said, rubbing the back of his head. "Before you take the drive out, I mean. Should’a mentioned that before."
I did as he said. I was presented with a “delete a move” prompt, and a list of Forte’s moves. I decided to get rid of Scratch, and I heard a click come from the Pokeball in my hand. I looked at it. The TM had popped out on its own. The man reached over and took it.
"Thanks," he said. "I can recycle this and the company that makes ‘em can put another move back on it."
"No problem," I said. "And thank you."
"Anytime!" He jogged back to his friend and began kicking at the rock.
"That has got to hurt their hands and feet," I mumbled. I turned and walked away.
When I reached the base of the hill, I saw there was tall grass where I could catch a Pokemon. I shook my head, though. I was too tired to do that now. Instead, I slid down a slope and jogged halfheartedly into Cerulean City.
The Pokemon Center was warm, and I could smell the food cooking from the kitchen. I hoped that I wasn’t too late for dinner. I ran up to the counter, fished my wallet and occupied Pokeballs out of my bag, and handed the balls to the nurse. She gratefully took them.
"And I’d like to rent a room for two nights, please," I said, taking my ID and 160 dollars out of my wallet.
"Oh, honey, two nights is only 150," she said, shoving 10 dollars back at me. "Dinner will be ready soon." She swiped my ID card and entered some information in the computer. "I hope you like lasagna."
"Oh, yes. I do."
She handed me the room key and my Pokeballs. “Your room will be at the end of the hall upstairs.” She bowed. “Thank you for choosing to stay with us.”
I bowed back at her and went up the stairs as quickly as I could. I had to slow down about halfway up, though, because I nearly fell.
Just like I did in Pewter, I tossed my bag on the desk and let everyone out of their Pokeballs. Dizi perched on the back of the desk chair, while Forte and Ocarina ran around the room playing with each other. Capo tried to pull himself up onto the bed. I helped him up. He laid so that he was on his belly, and pulled his arms and legs into his shell. He looked upset about something.
"What’s wrong, Capo?" I asked, sitting next to him on the bed. I put a hand on his shell reassuringly.
He looked at me, an odd sadness in his eyes. “Woa wart tor tortle tor woah”
I blinked. Was the suspicion I had in Mt. Moon correct? I slid off of the bed and sat on my knees on the floor instead, so that I could be eye-level with Capo.
"Are you trying to speak to me?" I asked.
He nodded. I smiled at him. I had heard that Pokemon will try to talk to their trainers after some amount of time. That they learn similar to children, or to a person learning a new language. It felt like Capo was able to form sentences, he just didn’t know how to form the words.
"It just takes practice, buddy," I said, stroking his soft, downy ear. "You’ll get it eventually.
Capo smiled. “Tort woah…” he said softly.
I patted his head a few times, and got up just as someone knocked on the door for dinner. “Yes,’ I hissed. “I’m so hungry, I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast!”
I fed the Pokemon before I sat down to eat my food, but I shared my side salad with Capo. While we ate, I tried to think of words that would be easy for him to try.
He slept on the bed with me that night. My dreams were filled with talking Pokemon and tea parties.