Music was the only good thing to come out of Johto.
There really wasn’t much about home Rai missed, but music was certainly one thing he often found himself wishing for. Not that synthesized junk that played everywhere, or those awful remixes of pokemon cries that assaulted him every time he opened the radio app in his Dex. No, he missed REAL music, the kind where lyrics weren’t some nonsencical sentence repeated ad nauseum and the instruments took some real talent to play. The kind that inspired a good mood even on the worst kind of days.
The Radio Tower in Johto was fond of that crap too, but there were a few holdouts in that monolithic place that clung to the ideology that the secret to good music lay in the past. Mary always had music playing in the kitchen on the tiny little radio, humming along and stooping over to pull Rai and Sam into an impromptu dance while the tunes carried on around them. It had taken months for Rai to scrape together the money to afford the upgrade for his Dex after the day that had taken them away. Months of sneaking around and changing the station on the ancient radio that played in the musty warehouse that became both prison and home. Surly, angry brutes screaming and starting fights over who had interrupted their constant stream of ear splitting noise in the moments they’d passed out from whatever vice they’d been indulging in that day.
It had been worth it in the end. Rai bought the best one he could, one he could pick up the Radio Tower’s stations, and even record some of his favorites to listen to later. The precious moments in time he was able to steal for himself, tweaking and fiddling with the stations to find just the right one and being rewarded with the sounds of singers who made music their passion streaming from the device in his hands? Those were the few bright spots in the days he wanted nothing more than to put behind him.
Rai sat perched on the back of a bench, working his lower lip between his teeth as he patiently searched each and every setting in the app for one that would reward him with the sounds he missed so much. The sun felt good on his back, and for all the aches and pains of the day before, Kye was happily splashing around in some of the more shallow puddles –being careful not to get his tail wet- and swatting at his watery reflection. Dicky might have given them a task, but the man hadn’t exactly given him any kind of a deadline. So he was determined to make the most out of the beautiful day ahead of them. That involved finding some decent music and giving his still sore muscles a chance to warm up in the sun.
The crowds were certainly bigger than the day befoe, with some clamoring back toward the marketplace and it’s brightly colored goods and banners. There was another large swath of people all gathered near the harbor, all standing and gawking at the Rangers in their impecably maintained uniforms, while an charismatic, confident voice welcomed the gleaming new ship in the harbor to the Rangers’ fleet. From his seat, even the throngs of people couldn’t quite hide the sleek vessel bobbing gently out in the water. The whole affair left a bitter taste in Rai’s mouth. Mary used to be the one speaking to the eager masses, singing the praises of the Rangers, welcoming new recruits to their ranks… It sounded wrong to listen to someone else do it.
Rai scowled when the only other sound he had to drown out her voice was static, and he was getting sick of looking at the formal attire every wet-nosed recruit and their partner had decked themselves out in. It was a flashy show of presence that ultimately didn’t mean a damn thing. They made people feel
safe, all the while hiding how utterly inept the whole Ranger system was. Rai could almost pick out which ones would shit themselves if they found out there was a Pit fighting ring damn near under their feet. If they couldn’t even stay on top of something like that, all a new boat was good for was a lot of showy excitement and giving those starry-eyes recruits a few moments of feeling like some noble heroes instead of the useless rent-a-cops they really were.“Kye, come on.”
Rai said, spitting in the direction of all the pomp and circumstance, “The circus is giving me a headache…”“Char char char.”
Kye cooed back happily as the fire-type splashed back through the puddles, as Rai slid off the bench and onto his feet.“You are the weirdest pokemon, you know that?”
Rai shook his head with a grin down at his friend, “You hate the rain, but you’ll play in puddles.”
Kye only gave him a pleased look that clearly said “But I’m your pokemon. So there.”“Yeah yeah…”
Rai rolled his eyes, stretchung his arms to the sky to work the last kinks out of his shoulders. He hated to admit it, but he was grateful Dicky had helped patch him up. Not all the aches and pains were gone, but he just felt as if he’d had a vigrous workout, rather than beat half to hell and back. “It’ll be a long walk, but I think Route 110 is a straight shot from here to Mauville.”
Truthfully, he was hoping the trip would give him some time to figure out what exactly it was Dicky was wanting him to do. “Chase Mauville Island” wasn’t exactly the clearest set of directions he’d ever gotten, after all. It certainly didn’t seem like instructions exactly, and if they were, he had no idea how to “chase” an island. No, more than likely it was a person he needed to find, or he hoped so anyway. Either way, he wasn’t going to find an answer sticking around Slateport. A light tug at his pants dropped his gaze back down to Kye, as the pokemon lightly pawed at his waist, looking at him with expectant eyes.“Oh, no. I’m still sore, and you’re getting too big!”
Rai scolded the fire-type, though it didn’t phase Kye one bit. The pokemon gave a little hop and continued to try and climb his trainer, all the while chittering merrily to himself. It was hard to say no to that, especially because Kye was likely every bit as sore as Rai was. “Oh fine…”
Rai sighed, bending down to heave his partner up onto his shoulders. “Make me do all the walking, I get it. Enjoy it while you can, cause when you evolve, you’re carrying me!”“Char!”“Don’t you burn my jacket again, you you get to walk!”
Rai reminded Kye as he adjusted his hold on his pokemon before starting off.
People riding pokemon was a common enough sight, and even people with petite pokemon in bags or perched daintily on their shoulders wasn’t a strange sight at all. Giving a pokemon a piggy-back ride like a small child through the middle of a crowded city was something of a different story altogther. There were certainly a number of kids that squealed at the sight, and Kye was quick to chirrup back in response as they worked their way through Slateport. He was a little shocked to see just how big it was without the misty veil of rain that had hung over it when they had arrived the day before. Rai fell in with a steady stream of people, actually enjoying the moment to take in his surroundings for a change. Every now and again, Kye would eagerly drum his claws on Rai’s head and sqwak at some building or new pokemon eagerly. It was hard to picture the exciteable pokemon as the same one who’s had a woman’s neck between his jaws less than a day before, but there was a part of him that was glad for the nearly split personality Kye seemed to have. For all the hell they’d been through, Kye at least still knew how to enjoy life when it presented the opportunity.
The populace of the city seemed to share the sentiment, as it felt like every citizen from Slateport and the surrounding area had all turned out to enjoy the nice weather. The younger trainers seemed to be particularly invigorated by the sunny day. Pokemon battles were cropping up on every street corner it seemed, with several drawing small crowds to watch. The allure of pokemon battles was lost on Rai after spending so long in the Pits. The flashy displays of “skill” seemed tame compared to the fights he was used to witnessing. And it was all for fun. There were no stakes, save for some paltry exchange of money between trainers. No one was getting hurt, and at the end of it all, there were still smiles to go around.
Rai actually found himself joining in with a small band of people who stopped to watch two girls’ match, two beautifly flitting about one another in a dazzling show of color and attacks. It wasn’t difficult to pick out which of the two was more concerned with style than battling with any substance. It was almost funny to think about. Would he have been like those girls had life been any kinder? He certainly couldn’t see himself in any of those “Contests”, but just having pokemon battles for the fun of it? He hadn’t really socialized much with other trainers during his short stint as a legitimate trainer. He’d been far more interested in his own team. It was hard to remember what that was like; what life used to be like before it all came crashing down. Was it bad he just couldn’t piture what that would be like at all?
Rai let out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding when the battle came to it’s logical conclusion and one of the fluttering pokemon reverted back into the pink amorphous blob of a ditto. It’s trainer scooped the formless pokemon up into her arms affectionately, and Rai felt the air around him suddenly become much too thin.
How many times had he watched Sam nuzzle Kye just like that? She should be out in the world like these girls; a trainer chasing after her dreams and enjoying every moment life had to offer. Would she have wanted to take part in contests? Or would she have had her sights set on the Elite Four, perhaps? Rai had to turn and walk with a bit more hustle in his step than he’d planned. That girl couldn’t have been much older than Sam was when she’d disapeared.
It didn’t matter. He’d made his choices. He was in Hoenn to bring an end to all those questions, and Dicky was going to help him do it, whether he knew it or not. Still, it took him at least a block before he managed to reign his thoughts back in and focus on the road ahead of them.
Rai pulled out his dex again, and tapped through the list of songs he’d managed to save to it’s internal memory. It wasn’t the same as getting a live station, but there was certainly enough music saved to pass the next few hours. Those girls all had some kind of bracer on them that looked like it served as a fairly useful trainer tool, and come to think of it, Karen had one on too. Though her’s had been modified so heavily Rai hadn’t realized what it’s original purpose was for. He’d have to look into getting one for himself if he was going to be in Hoenn for very long.“Hey,”
Rai poked Kye’s leg and held the device up to him, “You ride, you have to pick the music!”“Char-Char!”
Kye jabbed one claw at the screen, and Rai obligingly tapped and turned the volume up as high as it would go.
The upbeat keys of a piano riff sang out as they turned onto the entrance for Route 110 and left Slateport at their backs. He was nearly flat broke, off on some errand for a dangerous Pit Boss without a single solitary idea about what he was supposed to actually do, and at least two days from the closest thing he had to a clue about where he was supposed to be headed. It might have been enough to put him into a sour mood, had Kye not picked that moment to enthusiastically sing along despite being unable to carry the tune to save his life. It took Rai a good minute to stop laughing at his pokemon before he decided Kye certainly needed some accompanyment.“Yoooou might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd. We ain’t too pretty, we ain’t too proud,”
Rai joined in at the top of his lungs, ignoring every look they got from passerbys as his very pace changed to match the bouncing tempo of the song, “Awwww, but that never hurt no oooonnneee…. Darlin’ only the good die young!”