Chapter 1 – Getting Started
Vaniville Town – Aquacorde Town
Hey! My name’s Eric, and I’d like to welcome you to my…sorry…our very own Pokémon adventure.
On this adventure you, the reader, will make the choices that will affect its outcome. Will I catch ‘em all and become a Pokémon master? Will I spend my days as a berry farmer or a Pokémon breeder? You’ll be the ones to decide, and I’ll play it out for you in the very first Choose Your Own Pokémon Adventure.
Every week or so I’ll complete a chapter in the Kalos region, and each time I’ll ask you to help decide what to do next by tweeting me, @ericrsilver, with the hashtag #CYOPA.
Let’s get started!
Po..ke….mon? What? My eyes flutter open. I’m standing in front of a stranger: a tall man with dark hair wearing a lab coat. At least, I think he’s tall. Maybe I’m just sitting? No, I’m definitely on two feet. But it feels like I’m floating with no control over my body.
I try to move my arms. They aren’t tied to anything, but they’re impossibly heavy. I can’t lift them. I look around, terrified. Where am I? Is this a hospital?
“Who are you?”
He ignores my questions. Still smiling his plaster grin, he continues his painfully well-rehearsed speech: “Our world is inhabited by creatures called Pokémon.”
“No kidding,” I mutter. Okay, think. Think. What’s going on here? There’s a strange older man in a lab coat and V-neck talking to me like he’s programming a robot. I can’t move. Everything’s fogged, floaty, heavy, and wavy. It feels like a tape recorder sounds when it’s running out of batteries – slow and laboured.
Am I dead? Am I dreaming? Has my brain been implanted in some futuristic android?
My spiraling paranoia is interrupted by the oddest question.
Am I a boy or a girl? I’m obviously a…wait…I should know this. I know the answer, but my head’s reeling; everything is unfamiliar. Am I a boy or a girl? Why can’t I remember? Panic takes over; my eyes widen. WHO AM I?
@ericrsilver Female, Ashley (get it?), I don’t know any gen 6 Pokémon though.
— Brad Hudson (@hudsonbrad) February 12, 2014
I’m able to crane my neck just enough to look down. Lucious blonde hair flows past my shoulders; mosquito bite breasts desperately pushing away from my chest; no bulge between my legs. That clears that up then. I’m a girl.
Oh, now you want to know my name? It’s Ashley.
Seriously? “There’s literally one way to pronounce Ashley. It’s Ash-lee, not Ash-lay.” “Literally?” the voice in my head mockingly reminds me. “Figuratively.” I bite my lower lip to hide my annoyance.
Wait…is that me? Must be some kind of giant mirror. But where are the edges? I blink slowly enough to see myself do the same. In an instant, “I” disappear, and I’m face to face with the man again.
“Now, let’s go visit–“
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BE–
His invitation is cut off by the familiar jarring wake-up I hear morning after morning. Groggy, I roll over and swing my right arm a full 180 degrees to land on the snooze button. Stale breath escapes from between my lips.
I run my tongue along the front of my teeth, piecing together the few disjointed images I can remember about my dream. I feel like it was more than just a regular dream. Like it meant something important.
Still in my bright pink knock-off Jaquane pajamas – gotta look good, even on a budget – I head downstairs for breakfast.
“Mom, I had the craziest dream!
“Go change out of your pajamas, dear.”
“Mom, I was trying to tell you–“
“Hon, just go get dressed.”
“Fine.” I roll my eyes, head back up the stairs, and stand in front of my mirror.
What shall I wear today, what shall I wear today? That stupid melody is stuck in my head: what shall I wear today, what shall I wear? I take out my favourite skirt and hat combo and immediately put them on. The shirt, though – that’s a whole new ballgame.
After, like, a dozen outfits, I walk out in a simple tee. It takes serious skill to look this good in such plain clothes.
“Bye, mom!” I shout, already halfway out the door.
“Where are you going, dear?”
My head pokes around the frame. “Out.”
“Okay baby. Try to make some friends, okay?”
“Mom, I’m not a baby!”
I slam the door on the way out, cutting her off. I feel a little bad – that was harsh – but whatever, I’m not a little kid anymore.
“Hey there!” A boy’s voice calls out. I look to the source. There are two kids about my age standing at the end of the sidewalk.
The heck? “Uh, hey. How’s it going?”
“Great!” The girl answers. “You must be Ashley; welcome to Vaniville Town!”
She’s a chipper one.
“We’re heading to Aquacorde Town! Professor Sycamore has something for a group of us kids.”
“You know, the world-famous Pokémon professor?” Calem jeers.
I can already tell I’m going to have a problem with this guy.
“We’ll meet you there, Ashley.” Shauna smiles and waves, and they’re gone through the town’s gates.
Like I’m going to just rush off after them. They can wait if it’s that important. Instead, I head out into “town,” if you can call it that. Literally three houses in a closed clearing. How does a place like this even exist? At least it’s not far from Aquacorde Town, which is a little more bearable.
I walk past Mom’s Rhyhorn, lounging in the sun, and hear a rustling from the other side of the fence. I peek around the corner and there’s a little boy, no older than eight or nine, standing on his tiptoes staring into the yard. I clear my throat, and he squeals and falls backwards. He seems scared at first, but when he sees I’m not a parent his fear is replaced with excitement.
“I reeeally want a Pokémon! Then I could go wherever I want!”
You and me both, kid.
“One day, when you’re a little older, you’ll get your very own Pokémon. And you can go on an adventure that takes you as far away from here as you want!”
This kid’s clearly torn: “But…I’ll be scared without my mommy.”
I smile and chuckle. “Well that’s why you have to wait until you grow up a little. Trust me, you won’t be able to leave fast enough.”
He glances over at Rhyhorn, back to me, then darts off down the street.
Kids. They don’t know anything yet. One day he’ll be a pre-teen, like me, and he’ll realize what life’s all about.
Without really noticing where I am, I keep walking down the only path that leaves town.
Aquacorde opens into a communal square with tables and chairs overlooking the lower district, where the shops and homes frame a central fountain. People and Pokémon wander around, living simple, peaceful lives. This could be nice. There I’d be, sitting at one of the antique tables, sipping espresso and reading the latest J. F. Goodwrench adventure novel. A gust of warm autumn wind would blow my hat off my head and, as I lean over to pick it up, my chair starts to fall and a tall French boy – Francois – catches my hand and pulls me up into his welcoming arms…
A shout from my left snaps me back to reality.
“Hey Ashley, come here!”
I slowly approach. Not scared, but cautious.
“We were just talking about you.”
Already? I don’t even know these kids and it’s going to be just like before. Well, time to batten down the hatches.
“Let me introduce you,” Calem says. “This is Tierno. He can really tear up the dance floor.”
“And this is Trevor. He’s a little shy, but he always gets perfect scores on his tests.”
The standard small talk spills out of their mouths. How’s your mom? I like your shirt. I’m going to be a Pokémon master.
“I know!” Shauna chirps up. “We should give you a nickname.”
The peanut gallery chimes in on this mess:
“Umm I don’t know…Those are all kind of…lame. “
Shauna looks at me, trying hard to hide that she’s hurt by my comment.
“What would you suggest then?” asks Calem with a bit of snideness to his voice. “How about Ash-lame?”
— Taylor Kayfish (@tayjoykay) February 16, 2014
“How about…Smashley? ‘Cause I smash the competition.” I stare directly into Calem’s eyes. Trevor and Tierno seem uneasy, but Shauna, either naively or tactfully, pays no mind to the exchange.
“Bro, you guys are gonna love getting Pokémon.” Tierno saw the opening to cut the tension and jumped on it. “Me and Trev just love ours.”
“Oh, so you two already have a Pokémon? What kind is it?”
“It’s a surprise!” Trevor says. “Just pick one of these three: The grass type, Chespin; the fire type, Fennekin; or the water type, Froakie.”
— Thomas Dean Millar (@ThomasDMillar) February 13, 2014
Hmm, well this fire fox looks pretty cool, but what’s up with that ear hair? It’ll probably evolve into some stupid fur ball.
I grab the Pokéball with Froakie inside.
“Yo, Smashley, did you know you can nickname your Pokémon?” says Tierno.
“A nickname, huh?” I look deep into Froakie’s eyes.
You remind me of him…
“Alright! This is Steve, everyone.”
“Great name, Smashley! It’s nice to meet you, Steve.” Shauna says as she reaches for the Pokéball with Fennekin. “It’s so cuuuute!”
“What kind of name is Steve for a Pokémon?” Calen sneers, claiming Chespin as his partner.
It means a lot to me.
“Here, take this, too.” Trevor hands us all a Pokédex, a kind of encyclopedic database of all known Pokémon, he explains. “Try it out!”
Physical attributes – typing, size, weight – pop up next to a picture of Steve. There’s even a little write-up about the species, and what moves they typically know.
“I also have this letter for your mom, Smashley,” Trevor says as he hands me an envelope. “It’s from professor Sycamore.”
“Really? Do they know each other?”
“He didn’t say,” he shrugs.
Maybe it’s a love letter! But he’s probably old and wrinkly and gray. But then again, Mom needs someone in her life. Either way, I should take this to her right away so I can get going sooner.
“Hey, Smashley! Let’s have a quick battle with our new friends.” Shauna runs up to me before I can get away.
“I don’t really feel like it.”
“Too bad! We locked eyes and now you have to battle with me.”
“This is stupid.” I try to walk away, but she circles around me. I can’t escape. I guess there’s only one way out of this.
I lob Steve’s Pokéball onto the street. He jumps out, ready for a fight. The ball shrinks back to the size of a large marble and returns to my hand; I stuff it into my bag.
Fennekin, huh? Let’s see what the Pokédex says about that?
Alright, a fire-type. This should be a piece of cake!
“C’mon Steve! Let’s show her what we’re made of. Use…” (I scroll through the Pokédex entry) “…Bubble!”
A frothy jet stream bursts from Steve’s mouth and shoots towards Shauna and Fennekin.
“Dodge it,” she shouts.
“Don’t let up Steve! Move faster than it does.”
Fennekin darts back and forth, knocking over chairs and tables, as Steve hops after it, bubbles bursting all around them.
Where does all that water come from?
“Fennekin, turn and use ember,” commands Shauna.
A group of bubbles burst in the fire Pokémon’s face, obviously weakening it. Steam starts to rise off its fur. Its body temperature must be through the roof. It lets loose a volley of fireballs, all aimed straight at Steve.
“Steve!” I call. He turns to look at me. “Do something!”
He nods in understanding and turns back to face Fennekin, readying another attack. Just in time to get a face full of fire.
“Shoot,” I push out through gritted teeth.
His front leg is still on fire, but there’s no time to deal with that now.
“Use bubble again!”
On three legs he launches himself into the air and fires another super effective attack at Fennekin. Another direct hit; Shauna rushes over to her Pokémon and returns it to the safety of its ball.
“We won!” I run over to Steve. He’s desperately spitting water at his leg, but he just can’t get the angle right. The stream splashes just inches away from the target.
“Oh no, Smashley! Your Pokémon’s burned. Come here, quickly; I’ll heal it.”
Shauna takes a spray bottle out of her bag and generously applies it to Steve’s leg. They fire dies down, and slowly the burned skin restores to its healthy blue sheen. She then sprays the rest of it over his bruised body.
“Are you okay, bud?” I give him a treat from my bag to make him feel better.
“What was that spray, Shauna?”
“Oh! That’s called a full restore. It heals any status problem and all damage a Pokémon has taken.”
“Thanks.” I hold out Steve’s Pokéball for him to jump back into. I start walking back towards Vaniville to give Mom that letter. After two or three steps, I turn back to Shauna. “That was kind of fun.”
Calem’s nowhere in sight. Too bad; I would have loved to show him a thing or two about battling.
I hurry back home to give Mom the letter.
“What does it say?” I’m dying to know.
“It seems that Professor Sycamore has a request for you.”
“Oh? What kind of request?”
“How exciting for you. It’s like your own version of that race.”
“Mom, I asked you a question.”
That’s all she ever talks about. That stupid world’s longest Pokémon race she won before I was even born. Her and Rhyhorn. The only man in her life. I’m sure not going to make the same mistake as her. I tell myself that every day. Gonna find someone to spend my life with and not focus a hundred percent of my time on something trivial like racing.
“Oh, don’t forget this map.”
“You still haven’t told me where I’m going!”
“It’s up to you, Ash! This is your journey.”
“A journey? Okay, great. Thanks for all your help.”
“I’ll miss you, sweetie.”
With my back to her I roll my eyes, but turn around: “I’ll be back before you know it.”
The wind blowing through my hair as I jog out of town and back through Aquacorde helps calm me down. The possibilities are endless. Who knows what danger, excitement (and maybe love) await out in the world?
As I take my first step out into the tall grass, I grow confident in my decision to start this adventure with Steve. I’m free; nothing’s going to hold me back now!
Woah! A wild Pidgey!
Here’s where we’re going to end the first chapter of our adventure. What happens next is up to you:
Should I catch the first Pokémon I come across?
Should I defeat it, and everything else that crosses us?
Do I battle only with Steve by my side?
Or should I abandon him and become a bird trainer/bug catcher instead?
How many Pokémon should I catch in next week’s chapter (Route 2 – Santalune City)
What should I name them?
Do I get lost in the forest?
Do I win or lose my battles?
Will I be good or evil?
Do I try to rob the pokemart? Hold the poke centre hostage?
Or do I stop along the path to help a poor Pokémon trapped under a fallen branch, or protect a new trainer who’s overwhelmed?
Want to help shape the course of this Pokémon adventure? I’ll try to play out anything you can think of, just send me a tweet @ericrsilver with the hashtag #CYOPA.
Photo Credit: Eric Silver