From: Continue <continue2@mindspring.com> Subject: [PW!] Another Path Date: Thursday, February 24, 2000 7:19 PM [NS] It's a little long, but things needed to be done before he was ready for any kind of interaction. Warm air flowed beneath his wings. It held him aloft and helped to counteract the freezing effects of the rest of the air that he was moving through. Freezing was supposed to be the worst thing in the world for a Dragonite, but that wasnít a concern for him at the moment. It seemed to him like it had been so long since he felt this free. He had no one else to be concerned about and could go wherever he wanted. "Just as long as itís not back there." The thought floated up unbidden. He shook his head to clear it. He wasnít going to think about that. "I shouldnít have done it. I couldíve done something else." Drakeís eyes narrowed. He didnít want to be thinking about this. The Dragonite spotted a cloud and angled up to fly into it. It was like diving through cotton candy. It clung to him as he moved through. Unlike cotton candy, it was very cold. It was a shock to the system that was guaranteed to bring him fully into focus better than any caffeine saturated drink could. He burst out of the cloud and folded his wings against his body, spinning around as he did so. He only dropped a hundred feet or so before quickly spreading his wings. Now with his faculties restored, he looked ahead to see where he was going. Catching sight of a massive, sloping cycle path on the horizon he figured it out. "No, no, no. I am not going to be heading back home, either! Those lakes in the Safari Zone are a bit too small for me. And Iím not about to get caught by some trainer that goes through there." Drake paused after saying that. "No more would-be masters for me. Iím going to decide what I do from now on." Again he paused, then continued to talk to himself. "So what do I do?" The Dragonite looked below and saw a town. It wasnít big enough to be called a city, but it was no One-Ponyta town. He began a spiraling descent, looking at what was there as he did so. There werenít many big buildings. Something that looked like a small museum, lots of quaint little houses with one that had a windmill on it and some open fields in back with a lot of pokemon there. There was also some sort of main street area leading to a harbor. He zeroed in on the main street and saw a bench at an intersection there. As he got in close he flapped his wings hard to slow himself, finally coming to a landing on his feet within a yard of the bench. He promptly walked over and seated himself on the end of it, above the concrete leg. After all, if he sat in the middle the wooden bench might break under his weight. Just one of the things you have to take into consideration when youíre a quarter-ton pokemon. He looked across the street, spying a park. There was still some snow on the ground. He was beginning to think that he wouldnít be staying out here for long. As he was looking over he also saw people walking by on the other side of the street. Just about all of them were looking at him. Many tried to hide their stares, but most of them didnít get to see a real Dragonite everyday. Especially not one with a leather bag, sitting on a bench in public. Amusing as it was to be the center of attention, he figured the cold was going to make just sitting on a bench to think about his future a hard thing to do. He looked on the sidewalk behind and to his right. "Excuse me." The woman had been walking toward Drake while on her way, staring at him while he was looking across the street. She practically jumped when he turned and spoke to her. To her most pokemon werenít supposed to talk. After all, the hometown championís pokemon didnít talk, so it had to be a very rare occurrence. She was taken aback when one spoke to her out of the blue. "Me?" she asked while pointing a finger at herself for emphasis." "Yes, you, " the voice pleasantly rumbled from the dragon pokemon "Iíll never understand why not, but they donít put roadsigns up where I travel." Drake pointed up and the woman looked up reflexively. "Mind telling me where I am exactly?" She gave a weak grin and sweatdropped. "Oh, thatís all. Youíre in Pallet Town." "Pallet Town?" Drake got up off the bench and towered over the woman as he faced her. "Never been here before. Doesnít exactly seem to be a big place. Anything interesting here?" She blinked a few times as she looked up at him. "Well of course! Thereís the rebuilt Ash Ketchum museum, it has everything you could want to know about the League champion. Then thereís the power plant. It was rebuilt after an incident with a giant Wheezing, but now itís the only methane-fueled plant on the island. You could always have a meal at Brockís Diner. Brock was a personal friend of Ash Ketchum during ---" Drakeís patience had obviously started to wear at the first mention of some so-called pokemon master. At the mention of what was used at the local power plant, he wrinkled his nose and an appropriately disgusted expression appeared on his face as he mentally put an avoidance notice in place. The second mention of the Leagueís reigning champion was a bit much for the Dragonite. "Thatís quite enough about this Ass Ketchup! Iím sure everybody here loves their hometown hero, but I donít want to hear about it! Can you get through the rest of your tour without mentioning him?" The woman was completely taken aback. "Did this pokemon just call the Pokemon League champion Ass Ket--, no, no, no" She pushed that thought and any accompanying images out of her mind. She smiled weakly and said "Well, uh, sure. I guess the only one left would be Professor Oak. Heís a renowned pokemon expert and so many young trainers starting out go visit him to get their first pokemon in hopes of recreating the success Ė". She caught herself before mentioning the pride of Pallet Town again, it didnít seem like the smartest thing she could do right at this moment. "Heís also the creator of the pokedex." "Yeah, yeah, Iíve heard of Professor Oak before," Drake had a far off look in his eyes for a moment, but they suddenly refocused and he smiled as he looked back down at the woman. "Actually, visiting Oak sounds like itís not a bad idea. He knows his stuff and he also wrote a flattering entry for Dragonites. Can you tell me where he lives?" "Well, of course," she said, "itís easy to spot because of the windmill on the front, you just go---" Drake cut her off again "Windmill? I know where that is. Thanks for your help, not too many people would take the time these days." Without waiting for a response he leapt up into the air and headed for the house he had spotted before. He arrived quickly, but circled the house instead of going up to the front door. He congratulated himself on his foresight as he saw an older gentleman outside, around the back. Drake figured that he might be there, and the old man probably wouldnít hear him knocking on the front door from there. The Dragonite set down about ten feet away from the lab-coated individual. The man was feeding a Cubone, but turned to face Drake as he landed. "Professor Oak, I presume?" Drake grinned at what he imagined was a clever turn of the old phrase. The older gentleman smiled warmly. "Why yes, I am. And who are you?" "My name is Drake." He bowed respectfully. Handshakes werenít very good for someone with the strength of a Dragonite. With a firm grip, they would crush the hands of most, and with a deliberately light touch they seemed weak. The latter was an image that Drake didnít want to give off, so he chose to bow instead. "Iíve been receiving quite a few reports of talking pokemon over the past year. I used to be able to count the number of talking pokemon on one hand, but now they seem to be as common as psychics in Saffron City. I have to admit, though, that I have yet to receive any reports of talking Dragonites." Oak caught himself before wandering too far into in his musings. "Where are my manners? Why donít you come inside and tell me why youíre here. Did your trainer send you?" Drake didnít immediately fall into step upon hearing the last question. "I donít have a trainer, not anymore anyway. Iím the only one who decides what I do." It was then that the Professor recalled something. An incident that just happened at the League Games. He didnít remember hearing of an alert by League officials for dangerous pokemon yet. "So what are you doing here?" Drake blinked a few times. "Iím not sure exactly. I donít know what Iím going to do, but I found myself in this town. Itís well known that youíre a pokemon expert, so I came to see you." By this time they had made their way into Oakís lab. He sat down in a chair. "This is something I havenít been asked before. Normally people come to me with questions about various pokemon, or some to become pokemon trainers, there have even been some pokemon who wanted to be pokemon trainers. I remember not too long ago there was a talking Slowpoke who -" "A talking Slowpoke? How?" Drake was almost stunned to hear this. Oak slowly shook his head "Iím not sure exactly. As I said talking pokemon have become more common recently." "Iím not looking to become a research subject." Drake said flatly. Oak held up his hands and smiled "Oh, no, of course not!" He held his chin in one hand. "Iíve just never been posed this question before. The only thing that comes to mind at the moment is that you could do as the other talking pokemon that have come to see me and become a pokemon trainer. It may not be what youíre really looking to do, but it does give you the opportunity to travel around while you find out what you may actually want to do. Youíll also have an advantage over most other trainers in being able to understand the pokemon that you train." Drake felt a certain sense of irony at this. It made a certain amount of sense. After having two trainers, he knew better than most what not to do. The joke of fate was that he had just sworn would-be masters out of his life and it was now suggested to him to become one. Another thought occurred to him, however. "How about this. While Iím not going to be a subject, I could help you out with finding out more about all these talking pokemon as an assistant." The old man sweatdropped. "Actually, I already have as many assistants as I need right now. All of my assistants also have credentials from a university or from taking their own pokemon journey. However, I do know of one who is planning on leaving in about half a year. If youíve gained sufficient credentials by then, you would certainly be a good candidate for the position." The tip of Drakeís tail twitched slightly upon hearing this. If there was a God of Irony, then surely this deity had a hand in these events. He sighed as he resigned himself to the fate that lay before him. "Okay, so what do I have to do to start as a trainer." The Professor gave a bright, cheery smile. "Itís quite simple really. All I have to do is register you, then I can give you a pokedex and your starting pokemon." "Okay." The pair moved to one of Oakís computers and the registration process was finished quickly. The human then quickly fiddled with a pokedex on a nearby shelf before handing it to Drake. "This is a more recent model. It doesnít have all the capabilities of the latest models, but it does have a built-in radio so it can receive information upgrades as soon as they become available." Drake took the rectangular plastic device. He didnít give it much consideration since he had seen them before, so he just put it in his bag. "And this starting pokemon?" "About that," Oak cleared his throat "actually Iím currently out of the ones the ones that I normally have available. However, there were a couple that I had just finished conducting some tests on and I was about to release into the wild. You can choose among them." The pair moved to another part of the lab and Oak presented the choices: A Bellsprout, Porygon, and a Shellder. Drake wasnít overly impressed with the selection. He selected the Shellder and the Professor gave him what sounded like a canned speech before sending him on his way. Oak sat down and breathed a sigh of relief after he watched the Dragonite walk away. If that pokemon was wanted by the League then it could be tracked by the locator signal periodically transmitted from the pokedex. While not the intended purpose of the signal, it was helpful in this situation. On the path to the main street, Drake was in such a mood that he didnít really feel the chill in the air. He still didnít feel like he had a purpose to pursue and he felt like he had just been pushed into something he didnít want to do. Upon reaching main street he sighted the Brockís Diner and decided to take further stock of what to do over some warm food. His reverie was interrupted as a large truck drove by. Black, acrid smoke filled the air in front of him. He coughed and waved it away, catching sight of the truck that spilled it out. "A freight truck," he sighed and shook his head as he saw it heading towards the docks, "Why do humans use such things? They cause so much harm with their pollution." He reached the diner and walked inside. "Why not use teleporting pokemon? They can get there faster and donít pollute as much, not to mention they donít cost as much for upkeep. Makes me wonder why no oneís done it before." The Dragonite sat in a booth and looked at a menu that a waitress brought to him. While looking at the various soups available his eyes widened. It suddenly struck him that not only had he crossed paths with irony, but also coincidence. If no one else is going to do it, he would. Drake quickly left the diner and flew back to Oakís house. The professor had a confused look on his face when he saw who was at the door. "Did I forget something?" "No, but I need something," the Dragonite removed the Pokedex from his bag, "can this show me which pokemon can learn Teleport?" Oak looked at it and shook his head. "Iím sorry, I havenít integrated that feature into any models yet. I do have that information, however." He went over to a computer and explained while he typed. "Silph Co. does make a TM that teaches that move and they put out quarterly compatibility lists that should have the information. Some unaffiliated researchers have had to supplement those lists in the past, but theyíre up to date now since they havenít created any new TMs in the past few years. Here it is." A list of pokemon came up on the screen and Drake smiled. Oak was startled for a second as he scanned the list. "It looks like you already have one on the list. Let me print this out for you." Less than a minute later the list was handed to Drake, who then put it into his bag. The Dragonite smiled "Thank you for your help. It means a lot to me." His voice held tones of sincerity. He bowed deeply to Oak and the Professor gave a slight bow in return. "If you need anything else, it shouldnít be too hard to find me." Oak waved from his door as Drake took off. The Dragonite already had a destination in mind. Teleport TMs cost money, but if you donít need a fortune every pokemon trainer knows what you need. The only place he knew where to find wild ones was in the area of Celadon City. Jeff Hauser* *Sig Sold Seperately