[Vol. I] 23. Silph Company Request
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Saffron was huge. Bigger than anywhere Joe had been before. This city made Cerulean look like a countryside village. Streets were packed with people and the sky was blocked out by what seemed like hundreds of skyscrapers. Lower levels of those tall buildings were shops, so there was a lot to look at. Almost too much, if you asked Joe.

But Joe ignored it all for now, he was here for business purposes. On his way to Silph Co. he passed through a park, and the smell of food from a nearby stall was tempting. 

So, with food in hand, he carried on walking until Rotom said they’d arrived at the Silph Company building. It was another skyscraper, but stood taller than any other in the area. Craning his neck, Joe saw countless windows. The corners to the building stood out too, as they were painted lime green, completely different to any other structure in sight.

Opposite Silph’s building was a clothes shop just a few storeys tall. Joe figured he’d go in there after accepting the job. It’s not like he needed any more spare items, but he felt like looking anyway.

The glass doors to Silph Co. opened effortlessly as Joe approached, showing the place was well maintained. He briefly spoke to the receptionist and was directed to an elevator, rising up to the 4th floor. From there he followed metal name plates on the walls until he reached his destination. Just as he was about to knock, the wooden door burst open.

“We’ve been expecting you! Come in, come in!” A man in a white lab coat seemed to be quite excited. Who could blame him, his newest invention was about to be field tested.

He led Joe across the room to a counter, on which 3 unique Pokeballs rested on plastic stands. The bottom half of all three were white, as expected, but the tops were vastly different. Starting with the left-most ball, its center was red and its sides were blue, and there were three gold lines just above the button. The center ball was primarily green, but had two yellow rings overlapping the main colour. Lastly, the right-most ball was grey, with 4 blue orbs on its sides.

“These are Lure, Nest and Heavy Pokeballs.” The excited scientist started explaining after Joe had gotten a good look at them. He picked up the one left one and handed it to Joe. “This one creates a special environment for water-type Pokemon, so theoretically it has a higher chance of catching them. A Pokemon of any other type won’t like it though, so they’re probably going to break out.”

Rotom had gone over this before, but a Pokeball puts a Pokemon into their own dreams to calm them and allow a capture. The standard Pokeball lets a Pokemon live in a world of their own, but it’s quite generalised. This Lure Ball seems to be the answer to that. It’ll put specific thoughts into the hibernating Pokemon, and if they’re a water-type then they should like it the most. Joe could only imagine that whatever he caught with this Lure Ball would be dreaming of a vast ocean, letting the Pokemon swim endlessly.

“Next, the Nest Ball. This one was designed with beginners in mind. The weaker the Pokemon, the easier it is to influence them.”

“So it works better on weak Pokemon?” Joe asked.

“Indeed.” The scientist thought about it a bit before trying to explain himself in more detail. “So lets say Pokemon are ranked on their strength, from 1 to 10. That Absol of yours is a 7, so a Nest Ball wouldn’t be that effective. You enter a forest and encounter a Caterpie, which is a rank 2. It should work a lot better on that Caterpie.”

“Oh, you don’t mean weakened after a battle, you just mean it’ll work better on weak Pokemon in general. Got it.”

With a nod, the man continued. “This last one, the Heavy Ball, is self-explanatory. It works better depending on the weight of the Pokemon. Something like a Snorlax would be a good choice to test this on.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, thanks.”

“Good, good. Now, there’s no rush. You take your time and carefully pick what Pokemon to catch with these. If you could come back here in around a month, that would be perfect.”

It was quite the passive job, Joe thought as he left the room and started towards the elevator. Just catch 3 Pokemon over the course of a month. He might as well accept other jobs if they pop up.

Just as Joe arrived at the automatic doors, a man came into the building. Joe stepped aside for him. Because of this they locked eyes as the man walked by. His piercing black eyes made him quite intimidating, and Joe almost instinctively took a step back. Whoever he was, Joe thought he was important because he was wearing a smart black suit. Probably a higher up in the company or something.

Joe breathed a sigh of relief after the man left, and quickly realised that Absol was growling at the man. “Hey, you can’t do that to strangers.”

Absol glanced at it’s Trainer, back at the stranger and calmed itself before they left the building.

Like he’d planned, Joe went into the clothes shop, but there wasn’t much that caught his attention. That was until, just as he was leaving, he spotted something in the accessory area. A case for badges. The back was black with a basic white Pokeball printed in the middle, and of course the front was just a transparent lid. Right now Joe’s 2 badges were just pinned to his bag. Thinking about it, he should probably treat them a little better. They were like small trophies to show what his Pokemon had achieved. With that in mind, he bought the simple case, put his 2 badges in their respective slots and put the case in his bag.

And now it was time for another Gym battle. Joe had stayed in a hotel last night so it wasn’t even midday yet. Plenty of time for an official match.

With a general destination of east, he soon arrived at the Gym. Above the door was a large spoon that’d been twisted. Thanks to Rotom, Joe already knew Saffron was home to the psychic-type Gym Leader Sabrina, but this made it obvious.

He walked straight into the reception area, the building was unlocked and had automatic doors like most places these days, and was greeted by the Gym Leader herself. “Hm, so you’ve arrived. I’ve been expecting you, Joe…”

With a hand on her exposed hip, Sabrina looked at her newest challenger with a blank face. There was no emotion in her pink eyes. Her sleeveless pink top and white jeans made sense as it was quite a warm day.

Joe was quite confused. He had no recollection of Sabrina, but she knew his name. If he’d really forgotten an acquaintance he’d feel awful. “I’m sorry, have we met before?”

“This is your first time meeting me, but this isn’t my first time meeting you. Not like it matters though. My visions of you always end with your defeat, and my visions are never wrong. If you want to quit while you’re ahead, be my guest.”

Now that she mentioned it, Rotom had briefly mentioned that Sabrina had psychic powers. He assumed at best she could use telekinesis to pick up light objects, but she could have visions of the future? That’s quite the power.

“I’m just here to become stronger. Me and my Pokemon still learn from a loss, so I’d like to challenge you.”

“Hm, so be it. Follow me.”

She led Joe into a completely blank room. The walls, floor and ceiling were all white, with the occasional circular light embedded in the ceiling lighting the room up.

“My matches are 3 versus 3.”

Joe quickly went through the Pokemon he had on hand, deciding which 3 to use. “Similar to Lt. Surge, okay.”

“Don’t compare me to the likes of him.” She said, seemingly a little annoyed, as she tossed a ball out that released a Kadabra into the blank room. “I doubt he could do something like this.”

The moment she said that, a huge shift in the room’s environment took place. They were no longer in an empty room. No, they were now in the middle of a desert, the sun beating down on them was hotter than anything Joe had experienced before. Beads of sweat were already starting to form on his forehead.

“Wha-?”

“It’s just an illusion, don’t worry. But this isn’t a mere 3 versus 3 battle. Using my ability to create illusions, our surroundings will change with every knocked out Pokemon.”

If anything, this was the most interesting Gym battle so far for Joe. While she didn’t outright state it, this seemed to be a way to test a Trainer’s adaptability. Gym battles were meant to be tests, after all, so changing the environment from one extreme to the other was a way of bringing the best out of challengers.

Don’t worry? I thought she was emotionless, but I guess I was wrong. Joe thought. 

At first he believed Sabrina lacked empathy. Seeing visions all the time and knowing what’s going to happen could be quite the drain on someone’s mental health, but perhaps it was the opposite for Sabrina. Because of her psychic abilities, maybe she had quite the mental fortitude and just had a hard time expressing emotion.

“Well then, Quilava, you’re up!”

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