From: "Bandraptor" <bandraptor@yahoo.com> Subject: [PW!] A Tough Profile to Match Date: Thursday, April 22, 2004 4:29 AM "Let me tell you a story. It's about a guy who had just come to Hoenn from his home in Mahogany. At a Pokemon Center he met a girl, the type about whom he'd heard his whole life, a very great and beautiful girl. She opened up for him a whole beautiful world full of knowledge and thoughts and ideals. Everything he knew or ever became was because of her. And he looked up to her and worshipped her with a feeling he supposed was love. It's funny how I can still hear her voice: 'Mmm, Sapphire. Kiss me, Sapphire. Use both hands, Sapphire.'" Grey is stretched out across two plush, brightly colored chairs inside the Petalburg City Pokemon Center, his beige hiking shoes dangling over the end of one of them, his head resting atop the other, and his hands folded pensively on top of his stomach. "I don't get it. Things were going so well with that Elsa chick...I fed her some lines, she bought 'em...where did I go wrong?" The blue haired Rocket Executive turns his icy gray eyes towards the ceiling and heaves a great sigh. "Chi?" Two enormous purple spheres fill his field of vision as the Torchic that's perched on the table beside him leans inward, nearly touching her beak to his face. The glassy orbs disappear twice into a sea of orange feathers as the Chick Pokemon quizzically bats her eyes at him, trying to understand why he's upset. "Torchic?" Grey takes a stab at translating his Pokemon's speech. "Hmm. You know what, Filly? You're right. The girls in this country are lunatics, and they probably don't shave very often. Who needs 'em? I should focus my mind on completing this mission, so I can get back to Johto, where the girls are loose and appreciate my charms..." He rolls off the chairs and gets to his feet. "Torchi!" Hope springs eternal, and when Filly the Torchic sees that Grey has emerged from his funk, she flaps her little wings in glee, thinking he might use some of his newfound energy to cuddle and play with her. These expectations are dashed, however, when Grey swiftly walks away in the opposite direction, not even bothering to recall her into her Pokeball as he makes his way towards the back of the room. Disappointed but not discouraged, Filly hops down from her perch and trails after him, sticking as close to her Trainer as she possibly can without getting stomped by his cleated shoes. Grey continues towards the rear of the Pokemon Center, where the lone public computer terminal sits. He frowns slightly when he sees that a young man with messy black hair, a long white T-shirt, dark blue jeans, and tennis shoes has already beat him to the machine. Grey briefly considers leaving the Pokemon Center in search of an Internet cafe, but a second glance tells him that the person isn't actually using the computer, only standing beside it. He clears his throat and addresses the stranger in the high pitched voice that he uses whenever he wants to convince people that he's 'Sapphire.' "Hi! Do you mind if I use the computer?" The young man who's standing beside the computer doesn't immediately respond to Grey's request. He takes several seconds to size the Trainer up, and when he's finished, he smiles serenely. "Hello, there, Trainer. You've got a wonderful smile." "Yes, I know." Grey agrees. "It's funny you should mention that, since my Torchic and I were just discussing the matter of my dashing good looks. Regardless of that fact, right now I want to use the computer. Would you mind stepping aside?" The young man continues to smile his serene smile. "May I see your new profile?" "Profile?" Grey repeats. "Do I need a special account to use the computer here? I have my Trainer ID, will that work?" The man shakes his head. "You make your own profile by putting together four words or phrases. Here, I'll show you an example of a profile using four pieces of text..." Grey doesn't want to waste time making a stupid profile, so he clutches his stomach, and moans as if in death throes. "Ohhhhhh, please don't mention profiles." The Profile Rater blanches. "Why? What's wrong?" Grey sniffles pitifully. "You see, m-my mother was working on her profile on the night when...the night when..." his eyes fill with tears, and he blurts out, "the night when Team Aqua burst into our apartment and kidnapped her! Their filthy Water-Pokemon left puddles all over the den, and when my little sister tried to chase after them, she tripped over some of the wires from the computer and got electrocuted! I was able to resuscitate her, but the surge destroyed the computer, and the profile was lost. To this day, I still don't know what it said. That profile was probably the one vital clue that could have helped me find my mother, and I'll never know what it was! Damn it! Damn all profiles! Damn them to the pits of bloody Hades!" He breaks down sobbing. The Profile Rater clasps Grey's shoulder sympathetically, and slowly backs away, giving the mourning Trainer some privacy. "Oh...you're not into it right now? Well, if you change your mind, anytime is good by me." "Thanks for understanding." Grey murmurs, wiping his Totodile tears on the back of his sweatshirt sleeve as he sits down in front of the computer. Filly hops on top of the floor-mounted computer tower, then jumps onto the desktop, and finally settles down on top of the box-shaped monitor, soaking up its heat like a bird in a nest. Grey waits several minutes for the Profile Rater to walk away before logging into his e-mail account at pkmnbreeder.org. "Lest you've forgotten, Filly," he explains to his Torchic, "I need to find a Pokemon that can transport documents back and forth from Hoenn to Johto. I would have you do it, but as we both know, you are a particularly useless member of an unimpressive species. Fortunately, Gurion and Raksha were kind enough to confer upon me two reasonably valuable bits of trading fodder, and if luck holds out, I should be able to trade my baby Houndour for some powerful Hoenn Pokemon." Grey skims through his e-mails, deleting the ones with subjects like, "CHAEP STAT BOOSTERS DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR" "Natuuuurall Pokeyman enhanceement fgkgn klksarkl" and "_Get U ltr a B all s in just t e n days!!!_" (he's actually tempted to open that last one). There are a few interesting e-mails from the pkmnbreeders mailing list that he's subscribed to, mostly regarding the PKC's ever-changing breed standards, and issues with homeowner's insurance (several agencies have decided to deny coverage to Trainers of Dark- and Fire-type Pokemon, deeming them an increased risk). There are also a handful of litter announcements and trade requests, which are what Grey is looking for, and he reads through these very closely. One of the ads that catches his eye comes from a local breeder who claims to have bred his Magcargo with something called a Gulpin, producing a Slugma that knows Acid Armor, Toxic, Amnesia, and Rest. Grey finds this pretty enticing, until he remembers that Magcargo is even crappier than Torchic. Grey is about to log out of his account in disgust when he catches sight of one last unread message at the very bottom of his mailbox. Its title is short and simple--re: Charizard. With a tentative expression, Grey opens the e-mail. "Hi there, Zafiro. After reading your qualifications, I've decided that you're the best Trainer for my unruly Charizard. I would like to trade my Charizard for your female Houndour. Please let me know if you would like to visit the Diversity Gym in Lavender Town to trade with me or if you would like to arrange some sort of long distance trade. -Robert". "Woah..." Grey takes a full minute to absorb the information contained in Robert's e-mail. "This is beautiful. This is absolutely beautiful. Filly, do you know why this is so incredibly beautiful?" The Torchic tilts her head to one side in question. "Chi?" Grey smirks confidently, "I told Giovanni I'd infiltrate the Maquas' bases with nothing more than a Starter Pokemon. I never specified which Starter I was going to use." He thinks fondly back on the Silver Conference, and the spectacle of Robert's Charizard as it rampaged its way through every enemy in its path; then embraces the monitor joyfully. "Charizard, I love you." "'Charizard, I love you.' Is that your new profile?" Grey sweatdrops violently when he suddenly hears a familiar voice ringing in his right ear. "Ummm..." The Profile Rater continues, "F-fantastic! Your profile, it's wonderful! It really says what you're about. Why, anyone hearing this profile would be captivated by you!" Grey glances around the room, desperately hoping that the Profile Rater's loud ranting hasn't attracted the attention of anyone else in the Pokemon Center. He is met with at least ten pairs of inquisitive eyes. "Um...you know what?" He hushes the Profile Rater, "I'd actually prefer to be a little *less* captivating." "But why?" The young man asks enthusiastically, "I overheard everything that you just said, and I think that you lead a fascinating life! You infiltrate bases! You infiltrate bases with only a single Pokemon by your side! And that single Pokemon is a Charizard! You're as cool as Lance of the Elite Four and Ash Ketchum combined!" "Well, you see, it's like this." Grey sighs miserably as he prepares to level with the Profile Rater, as well as the other people in the Pokemon Center. "None of what you just heard is actually true. You see, my family immigrated to Hoenn when I was nine. My parents only spoke Latin and they were never able to get good jobs that paid a lot of money, so they had to work at a third-rate animation studio where they were forced to hand paint thousands of animation cels a day, and were severely beaten if they ever mentioned the word 'Flash'. They were hardly ever home, and between raising my younger siblings single-handedly and seeing to the needs of my drug-addicted older brother, I was never able to devote much time to my studies, and I wasn't able to get into a good college. "Because of my circumstances, I never really had a chance to excel in life. I guess I still hope that someday, somebody somewhere will give me a chance to succeed. It would be akin to trading me a Charizard on the eve of the Pokemon League finals--I would finally have the means and the opportunity to prove myself to the world--but sadly, things like that don't happen in real life, and I'm doomed to always be a failure. So, I spend my nights dreaming impossible dreams, and my days writing short stories that help me forget about the pain of my existence. You caught me in the process of acting out the dialogue for one of my newer stories. As believable as it may have sounded, I'm afraid that it just wasn't real. As much as I wish that it was..." Grey stops talking and hangs his head, a longing sigh escaping through his lips. The Profile Rater and the rest of the people in the Pokemon Center murmur quietly about his pitiful situation, then gradually lose interest and return to their own activities. When Grey is absolutely certain that nobody is watching him, he lifts his head and turns his attention back to the computer, reading through Robert's message once again. "Oh...crap. He sent this over a month ago." Grey frowns, "I hope he didn't decide to trade with someone else..." He hurriedly opens up a new window and begins to type: "Dear Robert, "Thank you for offering me the chance to work with your Charizard. I'm sorry I didn't respond to your e-mail sooner, but I've been busy with matters in the Hoenn region. I'm helping one of my clients train his daughter's..." Grey scans the posters lining the walls of the Pokemon Center for the name of a Hoenn Pokemon that he can use, "...Rayquaza. (It's really tough! O_O) "I would prefer to exchange Pokemon in person, but from what I've heard, Hoenn's only transcontinental cruise ship, the S.S. Tidal, has been stalled in Slateport since February. Nobody knows when it will be up and running again, much less when it will be making a trip to Kanto, and I'd hate to make you wait any longer. Most Pokemon Centers are now equipped with Union Rooms, which have wireless computer networks designed to facilitate trading between Trainers from different regions. I think this would be ideal for our purposes. "I am currently in Petalburg City, Hoenn, and will be here for the next few weeks. You can reach me at telephone number (135) 318-2003. Please call me when you receive this e-mail so we can set up a time for the trade and work out any other remaining details." After checking to make sure that he typed the number for the Pokemon Center's public phone in properly, Grey closes his message, "Sincerely, --Zafiro" and hits 'send'. "Well, that's taken care of," Grey comments to the Torchic that's sitting on top of the monitor. He folds his arms behind his head and slouches back in his chair, making himself comfortable. "And now, we wait." "And now, we wait." A voice beside him repeats. "Is that your new profile? That's even better than the profile you showed me before!" "I..." Grey takes a deep breath, preparing to begin yet another longwinded story...then he changes his mind, and just grabs the Profile Rater by the collar. "Seriously, leave me alone or I'll break your neck." The Profile Rater stumbles backwards, shocked by the harsh words. He slowly regains his balance, making note of Grey's objection, "Ohhh, you like your profile the way it is! I don't blame you--it's a wonderful profile the way it is now." TBC? --Beth