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Pokemon: Murkrow Dusk


Mellow Walrus

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Warnings:

Will have limited gore, strong language, use of drugs, children in peril, and themes of terrorism which may be unsettling to some readers.

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Six-thousand miles separated Winston and his son from Orre, and half a mile separated them from the seaports of Vermilion City. Through the trip on the SS Libra, the ship’s passengers built up immunity to seasickness by now, but Winston still felt a Spinarak crawling along his stomach. He inched out of his bed and watched over to the other side of the room where his son Steven lay sleeping. Seeing that the boy was still napping, he slipped over to the corner where his bags were kept, unzipping the front pouch and treating it like a bomb that is ready to go off. The zipper was meant to glide itself open with a fluid motion, but the old man’s hands were too jittery and couldn’t pull through the job as seamlessly as he had hoped. Thankful for being the father of such a heavy sleeper, he retrieved a bottle of medicine—some watered down Gloom syrup—and dragged his tiptoes past the beds to make it to the bathroom.

Once he looked out and made sure the coast was clear, he slumped over to the mirror and stared at his reflection. His hair had been degenerating over the past few weeks, grooming on his muttonchops were the least of Winston’s worries at this time.

Besides that and looking a little pale, the next thing noticeable was his lightly bloodshot eyes. It was rough for him to find sleep last night, all he could think about was his son’s looming departure to take on Kanto’s Pokémon League. He held up his temple with his palm and leaned against the sink while he popped open the cap to the medicine with his other thumb. Ignoring the directions to take doses by the teaspoon, he took a brief swig and slammed it back down once he felt the bitter fluid run down his tongue.

Past the reflection and through the open doorway he could see the faint glow of early dawn bleed through the blinds in the bedroom. It was just about time, the boat was scheduled to arrive at early morning. Another chill rattled across his spine, prompting him to take another gulp of the medicine.

He crept out the bathroom and eased himself into a seat right next to Steven’s bed, then stayed quiet and only stared forward where the light penetrated the blinds of the window and formed sets of parallel lines that marked against the surrounding darkness, which bended along the rugged terrain formed by the kid’s blanket. And then he waited.

Once the digital numbers shifted into 7:00 AM, the alarm clock blared into Winston’s ears and made his heart throb rapidly. He took a deep breath and nibbled at his fingernails, waiting for Steve to emerge from under the blankets. The boy pulled himself into a stretch, and pulled through the early morning grogginess to look over to his dad beside him. “…Huh?†is all he could mutter.

Winston sighed. “Just gonna miss you, is all. Mightn’t ever see you… well, for a long while.†He heaved himself out of the chair and faced toward the nearby window, pulling up the blinds to reveal the outside view. The deep blue ocean was tainted with the hue of dawn’s early light, sparkling off of the scales of splashing Magikarp.

Seeing how his father gazed out the window, little Steven hopped up against the headboard and followed suit. “Hey, look!†he said, pointing to the fish pokémon below.

He chuckled and clamped a hand on his son’s shoulder. “Now now, buckaroo, them there’s just Magikarp. Not gonna do much but splash all over the place. You’re a lot better than those small fries.†He said, and then noticed that his son was leaning off the bed. “…And get down from there, boy! You’re bound to break your neck…â€

Steve groaned and stepped down with caution, scooting out of the bed to get up. The two kin sat side by side on the edge of the bed. “…So, Magikarp?†he echoed. “Teacher says they evolve to Gyarados. You know… big blue dragon things, this big!†he said while outstretching his arms as far as he could. “And like, they can use flamethrower, even though they’re water types!â€

Winston chuckled heavily and draped his arm over his son’s shoulder. “Oh yeah, that’s right… But I mean it’s a lot of hard work. Training Magikarp like that.†He saw Steve cock and eyebrow, and recoiled at his poor choice of words. He jumped back onto that so he could fix the confusion he caused, before it was too late and Steve would go about with the bad message. “Err, I mean… Well yeah. It is a lot of hard work. But you’re gonna be a trainer, y’know? You’re gonna have to learn for yourself what paths are worth the time in taking. Sure you could end up with a big Gyarados, but you coulda raised a whole team in that kind of time, maybe.â€

“…So should I try the easy way?â€

The cornered father sighed, rubbing his temple in hopes it will spark the wise words he needs to tell his child. “…Well, you know how the saying goes, about the lemons? How when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade?†Steve nodded. “Well… lemons aren’t always gonna be handed out to you for free, you know? Sometimes you have to buy them, sometimes you have to plant them… heck, if you’re desperate enough you can even dig them out the trash.

“But what matters is… well, you have to milk those lemons for all they’re worth. Or you know, ‘juice’ them or something. Sometimes the lemonade turns out nasty no matter how much sugar you pour into there, and that’s alright. You’ll just have to learn to make the best out of what’s available. It’ll start off rough, but you’re perfectly capable of beating the Pokémon League one day if you really do work towards it.â€

Steve was silent for a while, thinking the lesson over. Winston cringed over his ramblings though, realizing that they had little to do with the saying about lemons in the first place. But in the end, Steve nodded and seemed to get a meaning out of it, which meant the disjointed philosophy must have done some good.

“Alright, I’ll try my hardest.†Steven said, giving his dad a smile. “…I don’t think I’ll be catching a Magikarp though. Gyarados kind of scare me.â€

After second of hesitation from not knowing how to react, Winston bellowed with laughter and pulled his son closer into an embrace, which Steven joined into. “Love you, son.â€

“You too, Dad.â€

Approximately an hour later, Winston and Steven were standing among the crowds that waited on the Libra’s deck as the last of the cargo was towed out. Winston’s optimism had faded by then, sinking back into the pit of anxiety he was trapped in before he had the last heart-to-heart with his son.

As all the rows of crates were drained from the deck, the openness left behind showed how much more comfortable the ship would have been if it weren’t for the cargo, which left Winston feeling claustrophobic every time he wanted to go outside for a smoke. He understood that this ship was the only one that traveled across the Pacific to reach Orre, so it was the only option for passengers and supplies alike. Still, he’d give anything to get to set foot on some dry land, but Steven was the only one with the ticket to get off on Port Vermillion. He’ll have to settle with being seasick until he gets all the way back home.

“I’m cold…†Steve mumbled while huddling inside the thick coat he was sporting.

His father frowned. “Sorry, guess we should’ve come down here in the summer. Places like this aren’t warm all year round like back home.†Seeing how much his boy was shivering, he pulled off his trench coat and revealed his plain gray t-shirt and blue jeans underneath, and then wrapped the coat around his son. “Here, take this. I’ve been in the cold like this plenty. From that job I had in the Sevii Islands.â€

The garments were obviously much too large for the small, eleven year old boy, and made the tail of the coat droop down to the ground as if he were wearing a robe instead. Steve grimaced at the awkward feeling of the coat, and how it tugged back towards the floor when he tried to walk.

Winston patted Steven on the head. “Yeah, sorry about the size. I’m sure it’ll keep the wind from slapping you in the face though, like how dusters keep the trail dust off of the cowboys from the westerns we watch all the time.†He gave him a reassuring smile, trying to fight off shivering when his son was looking. “Go to a store someplace to buy a better jacket if you need it. That big coat’ll be fine in the city, but you don’t wanna go hiking or nothing in it. You’ll trip on your coat and break your neck.â€

“Alright Dad.â€

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The crowd began to shift over towards the gangplank, which led to the two being herded among it, and Winston made sure to stay as close to Steven as possible. “You’ve got Chomper with you?†he asked. Steven nodded and pulled open both of his jackets, showing a lone pokéball strapped to his belt. “Good, good, and you double-checked your bags? Got your clothes, toothbrush, yadda-yadda-yadda?†He nodded again. “Good… hey, hide your pokéball under them clothes… ‘kay? There’s… err, a lot of bad guys out there… Don’t let anybody take your pokéball… there’s even some bad cops out there. Okay?†He blurted, cringing at what he was saying.

Steven raised an eyebrow. “Huh? But the cops are the-“

“There’s a lot of dirty cops out there, boy!†he spat out nervously, which made Steven flinch, and caused a few stares from a few strangers too. Winston’s heart throbbed and he looked down at his son. “...I’m… well, a few years back there was this bad guy named Giovanni, he was a Gym Leader in Viridian, but he was secretly in charge of a group that committed a bunch of heinous crimes. Like burglary, and… well a lot of bad stuff. Please watch out, there’s a lot of liars out there…â€

Steven shook a little and stepped back. “Dad, what-“

“Just watch out, alright!? Just…†he interrupted, forming some moistness in his eyes, and he covered his face with one hand while he pulled out some round shades from his back pocket in the other, and put them on to mask his eyes that were rapidly tearing up. He deepened his voice to cover his trembling tone as well. “Just hide Chomper, for now. See that fence?†he asked while pointing down to the wharf below, where a security station and electric fence were set up. Steven nodded warily. “Just wait till you get past that fence… then it’s safe to let him out. Now go, down the ramp. I’ll be up here watching.â€

He pulled his son into an embrace and tightened his teeth to avoid letting his emotions break out. Steven returned the hug despite being suddenly cautious, but couldn’t think of how to ask what was going on. Instead, he quietly loosened from his father and followed the herd that was leaving the ship through the ramp.

Once his son was out of view, he rushed towards the railings and gripped onto it with his now sweaty palms. He scanned the horizon for sight of his son, which he found making his way down the ramp along with the other hordes of passengers, but as the people shuffled down the gangplank he could only catch glimpse of his child before it was obscured by countless other men and women.

Not being able to take the pressure of his worries much more, he decided he needed more medicine. He pulled from the rails, but the sweat seemed to have glued him straight to the ice cold metal. He yanked his grasp off of the railings like flipping a switch, but it shed some blood on his palms when it was done too fast.

He ignored the red fluid oozing off his hands and fumbled through his satchel for the bottle of medicine. The strap slid off his arm and caused the bag to fall right to the ground, but once he retrieved the bottle he ignored it in favor of chugging the contents down. A surge of pain swept his head when too much was taken, but it fogged up some of his anxiety.

A tall, portly man in a baseball hat approached him as he tripped onto his knees. He offered a hand to help Winston up. “Sir, are you alrigh-“

Winston took the arm but ignored the man’s word, and just clawed his way up his sleeve to get back on his feet. The man flinched at the behavior, and while he was dazed Winston dragged himself back towards the rail to see where his son was. Now he was at the security booth, but the guards didn’t seem to notice them, they were focusing all of their attention towards another gentleman in a flat cap whom had his hands up, and was being patted down.

Knowing how small Steven was, he was able to get past the nearby counter without any of the security knowing he was there.

“Sir, are you-“

“Does Cinnabar still have that blockade up?â€

The man jumped back at the unusual question. “Huh? Well, I don’t-“

Winston sprinted through the deck and approached one of the crew members that were marked by a naval uniform. “Hey, hey!†he said between gasps for breath. “Cinnabar, does the island still have that blockade up?â€

The crew member blinked. “Well… yes, there’s still the plague that broke out after the volcano erupted. Lt. Surge’s fleet has the island under quarantine. Sorry for the inconvenience.†He then looked down at Winston’s hands and noticed the blood trickle down. “…Sir! Hold on sir, I’ll call an ambulance.â€

“Just a goddamn scrape, yanked my skin off the frozen poles…†he muttered, and left the man hanging while he ran back towards the side of the ship to look out for his son. He wasn’t at the security booth anymore. After desperate searching, he saw him strolling along the sidewalk on the other side of the fence.

Steven pulled out his pokéball and flung it out into the pavement, unleashing a brilliant flash that morphed into a Trapinch. Soon after, a police officer jolted towards the boy and brandished his nightstick.

The crewmate approached from behind. “Sir, even if it’s a minor scratch, if it draws blood we need to disinfect-“

“You know what I fucking need to do!?†he shouted at the man, “Just... I need to get to my son."

Before the other man could say anything, he jerked back to see what has happened to his son. Steven was running. The policeman pulled out a taser, and then the boy tripped, shook, and stopped shaking.

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If it felt too much like I was leaving you in the dark, I'm sorry, but I promise I'll explain what was going on in the very next scene. I managed to whip up 1.5k this morning, so I might be able to get the next post up soon. I'm also only using "Murkrow Dusk" as a working title for the story and it might change. And of course, criticism is appreciated.

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I'm thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and I'll probably be doing an original work instead of this one, so this fic will probably be put on hiatus for November. I'm hoping it will push me back into writing around 2k per day, and improve my experience in general. I'll hope to hop back onto this project as soon as possible :)

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