The universe had to be laughing at Lys. God knows she wouldn’t blame them.
When she set off from Pewter City she expected nothing but easy travels. It was stupid, sure, but nobody told her she might die in this godforsaken mountain. Mt. Moon? More like Mt. Bad Luck. How was she supposed to know a seismic anomaly was going to cause a severe cave-in? Nobody told stories like this. The novels that her friend Elise read about the life of Pokémon Trainers never told stories like this. Those novels were works of fiction. Made for kids. She should’ve prepared more. Maybe went the long way around to Cerulean City.
She sighed, it was too late for should’ve and could’ve.
At least she was smart enough to set a fire. A few magazines made decent tinder and her cooking pot was full of dried trail rations. She was thankful enough she was smart enough to know how to set fires and cook food. Didn’t help much. It was still cold as heck and she knew splitting what food she had wasn’t smart, but being a Pokemon Trainer wasn’t being about selfishness, or at least the kind of trainer she wanted to be wasn’t. Lys looked over to the group that had assembled by the fire, the group of random kids like her who just happened to be trapped by the cave in. Lys figured none of them had rock types or something that could dig them out of this section of cave.
The fear of starving to death had crossed the Cinnabar Island native's mind. About five hundred times, actually. She figured with the short path out of picture, she and her trusty Charmander was going to have to take the long and decidedly sketchy way. The mine shaft had lots of “do not enter” tape and “danger: unsafe tunnels” signs. Definitely not the ideal situation, but she doubted help would come. Plus, Lys was impatient. Not impatient to brazenly do it before she found her nerves, but she knew that if she was getting out of Mt. Moon it was going to be done by finding a way out. Maybe the others would follow her. Help out somehow. She figured they’d like to get out, too.
She smiled warmly, as if the situation didn't make her absolutely nervous.
“My name's Elyssa, by-the-way. Friends call me Lys. This is Char.” She gestured to her Pokémon. Well, her active Pokémon. Having a fire type made keeping the campfire lit easy pickings. She half-laughed, “Gotta say, this is not going in my autobiography when I'm a Pokémon Master. Way too embrassing.”
Mt. Moon: Group Campfire Ella was no stranger to Mt. Moon. Sure she’d never traversed it in its entirety, and sure calling it familiar was a bit of a stretch, but she’d gone inside many a time by now. She’d even caught a Clefairy on one of its ledges, for Arceus’ sake. So yes, she’d thought an escape rope unnecessary. It was expensive, for one, and it was heavy. Too heavy to be carrying one all the time through the city and too bulky to fit comfortably in the stylish black backpack she’d brought along with her, which wasn’t the largest specimen anyway. Was it her fault that she thought she could venture into—not even through, into—a major cave system with no problem? Head in and out the same entrance, travel down the same path she had more than twice now?
The answer, unfortunately, was obvious. She could blame bad luck and freak incidents all she wanted, but at the end of the day it was her fault for not being prepared enough. She should’ve prepared, should’ve considered the possibilities and risks, and she didn’t. Worse still was the fact that she barely had more than a day’s worth of food and water on her. The plan had been to train in the morning and get back to town by nightfall, but now she was trapped in the tunnels, forced to acknowledge her carelessness.
In front of her, Fabs twirled to and fro, waving his arms about with a content smile on his face as he looked at the trainers gathered around him. Upon noticing Ella’s eyes on him, he spun towards her, tapping her with one hand. “Fairy,” he sang, his voice conveying a mild question of concern.
Realizing that he was pointing out her gloominess, she straightened, fixing a smile on her face. “Thanks Fabs, I’m good, and your dance is beautiful, as usual,” she said as she reached down to pet Quinn, who’d seated herself at her side. Avoiding the spines on Quinn’s back came naturally now, and the Nidoran shifted as Ella scratched under her jaw, stretching her legs out in front of her.
The taller girl spoke first, introducing herself as Lys, and Ella turned her smile on her and Char, appraising the Charmander silently. Though she’d considered buying herself a traditional starter species at one point, she’d ultimately decided against it. Having a nontraditional starter made you more relatable, more down-to-earth and less like an unreachable standard, and that was the image she wanted to project. Plus, it wasn’t like Quinn didn’t fit the role perfectly. Ella wouldn’t trade her Nidoran for the world, nevermind a starter, however much she might’ve wanted one at one point in time.
“I’m Ella, and this is Quinn,” she said, motioning at the Nidoran she was petting, “and Fabs,” she said, gesturing at the dancing Clefairy, who flashed a bright grin at the menton of his name, managing a surprisingly graceful piroutte before striking a pose with one arm pointed up to a side. “Nice to meet all of you! And don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me,” she said, looking to Lys with a smile. “If anyone asks, all I remember are your amazing camping skills.”
JJ's luck was full of high high's and low low's, being stuck in the dark depths of Mt. Moon was one of those lows. He was exploring the cave, looking for a Clefairy, when what almost sounded like an explosion echoed through the rock walls. Finding out that the entrance had been blocked wasn't just anxiety inducing, but the cave-in also diminished his spirit of finding himself a Clefairy.
Luckily like always after being down on his luck, JJ would reach a high on his event list. This time it was meeting a bunch of other trainers who were stuck in the cave as well. One of the others, Lys, a very tall trainer with a Charmander, had set up a campfire which everyone congregated around. Taking notice of another trainer as well, as she introduced herself as Ella, he envied one of her partner's, a dancing Clefairy named Fabs.
As he was sitting around the fire a big, bright smile was plastered across JJ's face as he watched the pink fairy spin and twirl, slightly raising his downed spirits. JJ was there in Mt. Moon for one purpose, but his chances of finding and catching a Clefairy were also pretty low. A tug from Sia, his Jigglypuff partner, at his pants leg snapped the trainer back from his envious trance and onto the cold reality before him.
"Oh! I'm JJ," he said. "And this is Sia."
His partner puffed her cheeks proudly as he introduced her, eyes beaming from the lights of the fire. A confident ball of pink fluff, Sia was JJ's dependable partner. She was a brawler when needed, but often times acted shy before others, earning her quite the endearing factor.
"If we manage to get out of here the next meal is on me." JJ said jokingly, hoping to improve his own dampened spirit.
She had often helped her mother in clearing out passes that had been blocked with rubble; her Trapinch being rather useful in incidents like these. Yet unlike all the other times, the blocked passageway behind them was the first disaster that had Sydnee worried. Not only was her mother wasn't here to help with her styler, Mt. Moon was a mess of endless tunnels, and by Sydnee's estimates, it'd take her Trapinch several days to clear away the rubble that had trapped them inside. Finding a route out of the mountain would take some work; that is, if they didn't starve to death beforehand.
"Name's Sydnee, though most just call me Syd." She replied to the trio, though more focused on the egg case she had been wiping down than anything else. "This girl next to me is Toph; my Trapinch."
Finishing her inspection, Sydnee placed the egg case beside her, and rubbed the top of the Trapinch's orange, round head, to which it responded with glee. "Now, autobiographies and and free meals sound nice, but how exactly do we plan on getting out here? I'm typically not a pessimist, but the reality of our situation is... well, to say the obvious, dire. I don't suspect that we'll be rescued anytime soon, and it'd take days for my Trapinch to clear the way we came. Unless one of you are hiding an Onix or something, that is."
She then glanced at the Pokémon each of them had introduced. "If you guys aren't, then if we want out of here, we're going to have to go deeper into the mountain. I have a feeling that the local Clefairy population wouldn't mind us passing through, especially with Fabs by our side, but I'm worried about the other Pokémon I've read that live here. We'd be throwing ourselves to the Lycanroc if we accidentally woke up a swarm of Zubat while our backs are against the wall."
"Not that'll happen, of course." Sydnee cracked a friendly yet awkward smile, half-suspecting that she might've just jinxed the group considering their recent luck they had been having.
“Mhm.” Lys commented with a mouthful of jerky, “We're gonna have to go through the old way around.”
Mine shafts and old cave entrances. They didn’t have much to go on, but fortunately the old map signs should still be in place. It was their only real option unless they hoped Sydnee’s Trapinch could eat through the cave-in before they ran out of food. Lys was a good camper before she was a Pokémon trainer but even she dreaded the thought of being out of food. She’d sooner jump off a cliff than resort to… certain methods.
She eyed the group. Three people about her age, so at least they had that going for them. Didn’t look like anyone had an Onix or Graveler by the look on everyone’s faces when Sydnee brought it up. Lys’ instincts told her it would be more likely for them to get out of the mountain if they lucked their way through the partially condemned and taped off way rather than waiting for help or for Syd’s Pokémon to eat through the cave-in. Lys wasn’t really one for sitting around and hoping for the best.
Mt. Moon: Group Campfire The way Sia puffed up as she was introduced made Ella giggle, and Fabs’ decision to take a calming breath in and ignore the Jigglypuff—a rare display of restraint that was becoming more common to the Clefairy, much to Ella’s delight—made her giggle even more as she looked to JJ.
Realizing that her giggles had interrupted his words, she straightened, eyes wide. “Sorry,” she whispered. Thankfully, he seemed like a nice guy who understood a bit of personality from Fabs, or Ella would’ve had to consider returning her Clefairy. She hadn’t missed the way JJ’s eyes had stayed on Fabs longer than anyone else’s, and it’d made her wonder whether he was an aspiring coordinator. In a way, she was too, if only because teaching Pokemon to perform routines of elegance and beauty sounded like a delightful pastime, and she’d welcome a fellow enthusiast with open arms.
Sydnee, on the other hand, immediately struck Ella as a tomboy type, but Ella figured that might be more because of the girl’s short hair than her actual personality. Though she too had considered cutting her hair short, she’d Torchicked out every time she sat down in the salon chair, her future as a trainer icon flashing before her eyes as she imagined lopping off more than half her hair. That said, she respected short hair, even admired it, and as a result she admired Sydnee. Besides having a Trapinch, which evolved into a fascinating dragon-type Ella had nothing but respect for, Sydnee had an egg. Full and proper. Ella had seen eggs before, yes, but never up close, and she half-wondered whether it’d be rude to ask to hold it. Was it as hard as it seemed? How heavy was it, and was it rough to the touch, or smooth like the glass that contained it?
The answer to those questions, though, would have to wait because it was definitely rude to ask to touch the egg. It was in an egg case for a reason, after all, and Ella breathed a sigh as she refocused on Sydnee’s words, settling for petting Quinn.
At the mention of Fabs and the Clefairy population, she smiled, nodding. The Clefairy were a friendly group, and she was able to stay and watch a whole dance and a half even after she’d convinced Fabs to join her team, so the thought of them minding anything seemed silly. Zubat, however, were a very real concern, and Ella looked to Fabs worriedly. Last time she’d been here, Fabs had gotten into a scuffle with a stray Zubat that had ended up getting him poisoned, and she had a feeling he wouldn’t take too warmly to the idea of heading through a swarm of them. Returning him was a viable option, then, but while Quinn couldn’t be poisoned, she wasn’t particularly good at fighting flying-types resistant to her both her strongest moves, so Zubat sounded quite bad.
Still, despite the nervous undercurrent running around the fireplace, Sydnee was right. Ella herself had seen the extent of the cave-in, so was little reason to wait around and pretend like help would get here before their supplies ran out—or at least before hers did. Unfortunately, her tendency to under pack had caught up to her, and if it came down to sharing rations, she had little to bring to the table other than a few fruits, protein bars, and pokeblocks.
“A real adventure,” she said, her gaze sliding from Lys to Sydnee, “but I agree. We should try and find another exit. It’s a big cave, and I’m sure people have gotten trapped in here before…”
She trailed off not quite knowing how to continue that thought. The implication was that those ‘people’ had gotten out some other way, but the other option was there too. Still, she didn’t want to leave the conversation hanging on a low note, so she perked up, flashing Lys a smile.
“My compliments to the chef, though!” she said, indicating the empty bowl and spoon beside her. “A campfire and soup really hit the spot.”
In agreement with the rest, JJ was ready to get a move on. They were still stuck in the cave and waiting around wasn't going to solve that problem. With the better chance of getting out by exploring, JJ dusted himself off as he stood up, stretching along with his mimicking Jigglypuff.
Maybe his luck would change with the group of girls, as it seemed like Ella had luck in finding a group of Clefairy. JJ smiled intently, imagining the thought of him finding a Clefairy of his own, just like Fabs who had quite the personality from his observations. Again being brought back from inside his own head by the tugging of Sia, the trainer knelt down and pet his partner gently. "You'll protect me from any Zubat, right?"
Nodding with confidence, the pink fluff ball rose her hands proudly, chanting a cute battle cry. As his Jigglypuff cheered, it reminded him of the path ahead. "Before the rocks came crashing I was at a fork in the cave up ahead, not that it helps out much." JJ said, remembering a sign that was posted in the fork. "Not sure how long the trek would be, but there was a sign up ahead giving directions for the two paths."
Sydnee eyed Ella as the group conversed. Something seemed to intrigue the girl, and though she couldn't say for certain, Sydnee figured it probably had something to do with the egg her mother asked her to carry through her travels. After all, it wasn't unusual for people, particularly children aspiring to be trainers, to be curious about the brown, mud-colored egg in her possession, given how little information was known about eggs and how they came to be.
"Look, I don't mind if you want to check it out, but just be careful, okay?" Sydnee replied, watching in amazement as Ella scarfed down the bowl of soup. "Wouldn't want the egg to break or anything. That said, maybe it would be better to wait to check the egg until we've found our way out of Mount Moon first."
Turning her attention back to the matter at hand, Sydnee was in agreement with what JJ had to say. "Sounds like a great idea. Hopefully the sign isn't outdated, though. You know, cave-ins and all that."
“Well, I don't see any other choice.” Lys remarked as the group finished up what little food Lys could muster for now.
The purple-haired girl thought about Sydnee’s worry about their egg, but this was the beginning of a life-or-death situation! Waiting around wasn’t going to help them. If they wanted to check their egg that was on them, but Lys wanted to at least get a closer look at things and given she had one of the best sources of light in her Pokémon, she felt pretty confident about that decision.
“You can stay at the campfire if you want. But I'm getting a look at this old tunnel.”
Without letting Sydnee interject Lys walked forward quickly to where she saw the old path.
At the base of the entrance was an old stand containing a map that was bolted in place to the right of the tunnel itself. It was broad-faced and reminded her of the many rest stops in-between Pallet Town and Viridian City. There was a faded “you are here” in place, though she wasn’t sure how long ago the map was printed. As far as she could tell nobody had used such an entrance in a long time given the long swatches of yellow tape and a sign bolted into the cavern wall that spelled out that the tunnels were unsafe and to proceed with caution. Sort of. They really told her to turn back but Lys personally read it as proceed with caution instead. She never did do well with rules.
She quickly shuffled in her pocket, hastily retrieving her phone. No service, but full battery. She pushed her hand against the dust-covered map and swiped quickly to the left, kicking up a cloud of dust causing her Charmander to cough and groan its name in discontent. It didn't take her long to immediately utter “Cheese.” as her camera on her phone flashed to capture a clear picture of the map in case any data she had on the caves didn't match up. Why else would they put a physical map down?
“These tunnels go everywhere and nowhere, huh.” She commented, thinking aloud, before shaking her head. “Wonder how deep they go... and where.”
Mt. Moon was a big place to get lost in, but as far as she could tell with a few shortcuts around collapsed tunnels, it was doable to get back on track and on her way to Cerulean City.
Mt. Moon: Group Campfire Ella held Sydnee’s gaze as the girl offered to let her hold the egg. Part of her wanted to accept. Badly so. She’d get to touch an egg, after all, or at least look it over from inches away rather than feet. Another part of her wanted to reject the offer, laugh it off as if Sydnee hadn’t guessed the interest behind her gaze. But, those two parts aside, Ella knew Sydnee was right when she suggested waiting on the egg, and after another second of hesitation—an egg!—Ella nodded, offering the girl a grateful smile before tuning back into the escape plan.
“Hey, we’re in this together! Wait up!” she called after she’d recovered from Lys’ sudden break from the group. Someone was a lot more headstrong than she’d let on, which Ella was mostly grateful for. “What if you get lost, or if you run into wild Pokemon? Even if we split up, we should split into pairs. Right?”
Her Pokemon were hot on her heels as she looked behind her for agreement, her pace brisk behind Lys, and she brushed off the feather of irritation as she registered Lys’ longer legs and faster pace. Despite Ella’s heeled boots, Lys was still noticeably taller, which made sense since Ella had limited herself to two inches for the sake of her feet long-term. Still, she didn’t appreciate how quickly Lys was creating distance between them despite her best efforts to close it, and she was relieved when she saw the taller girl stop.
“A sign?” Ella walked towards the dusty stand, giggling as Char coughed from the dust. “You okay?” she asked, registering the thinly-veiled suspicion Fabs aimed at the Charmander in her peripheral vision. Though friendly, Fabs had issues with sharing, but they weren’t big enough to warrant action.
Seeing Lys snap a picture of the map with her phone, Ella grinned. “Smart! Don’t mind if I do,” she said, flashing the taller girl a grin as she fished her own phone out and did the same. The more copies the better, and considering how abandoned this part of the cave was, Ella was willing to bet that the map she’d been referencing wouldn’t help her much here.
“Well, I hope they don’t go nowhere. I’d hate to walk for hours and find a dead end,” she said, answering Lys’ spoken thoughts with a friendly smile. Then, turning back to the map, she tipped her head, frowning. “What are those weird dashes?” Her eyes drifted to the map legend in the corner, and she mouthed an “oh”. “Ladders. Of wood?”
She frowned, glancing at Lys. Abandoned wooden ladders didn't inspire confidence, and she didn’t particularly want to die playing ladder rung roulette.
The map surprisingly covered a lot of ground. The purple-haired girl supposed that in a time before the main tunnel that the shafts cut through a number of natural caverns and old mine shafts to get through this part of Mt. Moon. It made her wonder what was at the “heart” of the mountain. Not that she’d find out soon. But once she got out, she’d be back, eventually. Probably when she had a proper rock type Pokémon. For now she'd have to settle for getting out. But first she’d wait on the other two to join up with her and Ella before she even began the endeavor. She’d hate to leave someone behind.
“Looks like there is a bunch of these tunnels. Finding the right one...” She uttered as she moved her finger along the shafts in the map until she reached a icon titled ‘exit’. “...is the trick.”
She looked back to Ella as her concerns of the ladders finally registered, she smirked cockily.
“That’s why you bring rock climbing gear at all times! We shouldn’t need to use any, though. There’s this path that goes through a bunch of old caverns and shafts that leads around to the other side of the tunnel. Though, who knows if that’s caved in and we’ll have to think creatively about it and all.”
Sydnee smiled back at Ella before she, too, returned her attention back to talk of an escape plan. Whilst it seemed that they had managed to come up with some sort of an idea in their heads on how to escape their current predicament, Sydnee had been left more confused than ever as Lys—and later Ella—bolted off towards the old tunnel. Had she said something wrong, or was there something else? Sydnee hadn't the slightest clue, evident by the look of confusion on her face.
"Well, JJ, I suppose we should follow them as well." Sydnee commented, pushing away the questions she had for Lys into the back of her mind. "Though, I doubt we'll get lost chasing them down with how noisy Ella is being." She jested, placing the egg case back inside her backpack before heading off down the path the girls had taken, Trapinch in tow.
Thankfully, it wasn't all that difficult to catch up with Ella and Lys, as they had stopped by the sign JJ spoke about moments earlier. Catching only the tailend of their conversation, Sydnee decided to add her two cents in.
"If, in fact, they are caved in, like the one back the way we came," Sydnee pointed back the way they had came from her with her thumb as she approached the duo, "then we could try enlisting the help of some Pokémon that live in this mountain. Sandshrew love to live deep underground, so we'll likely run into a couple if we end up going deeper into Mount Moon. Probably a bunch of Geodude around here, too."
JJ was left at the campfire, with an nerve-wracking decision. He rubbed his chin before saying outloud, "Am I supposed to put out the fire?" The girls already made their way to the sign, with Sydnee only a few steps ahead. It was always while he was in his own head that time felt like an eternity as he questioned nonsensical and trivial things.
So JJ grabbed the longest of the kindle that was used, kicking dirt and gravel over the rest of the fire, holding in his hand a make-shift torch. The cave-in was one problem they were facing, and a fire within the cave wasn't something JJ was willing to deal alongside it.
Having first caught up to Sydnee, huffing and puffing to catch his breath, he caught the rear end of the conversation. "We could always stand on each other's shoulders if the ladders don't work." JJ joked, swinging his torch in the air.
Mt. Moon: Old Tunnel Entrance Lys’ statement about always carrying rock climbing gear had Ella widen her eyes slightly. Sure there were trainers who packed more than less, but carrying such situational equipment everywhere was overkill in Ella’s eyes. Renting or, if that option wasn’t available, buying and selling to a trainer on the other side of the mountain was easy enough. There was a bit of a hassle with securing climbing gear in small towns, yes, and finding buyers in more remote locations took longer than she’d liked at times, but both of those annoyances were still better than lugging climbing gear everywhere. Plus, there was the matter of her poor backpack, which, despite all its stylishness, was never the hardiest specimen. Lugging climbing gear around would utterly wreck it, and she was far too attached to the upsides of its impracticality to give up on it now.
That all said, she had to thank her lucky stars that she’d been trapped with someone as overprepared as Lys. Having someone like herself around might be easier on her mind, but it was times like these that reminded her how useful diverse personalities were. Even if her gut instinct was to dismiss most of the offered ideas in favor of just pushing ahead in hopes of finding an intact path somewhere along the tunnels, her head told her to think on the ideas anyway.
“Catching some wilds around here might actually be helpful,” Ella said, looking to Sydnee, then to the others. “Pokemon like Geodude or Sandshew might know the tunnels better than us, so we could ask them to point us in the right direction, or even to an exit. And, if we manage to catch something bigger, like an Onix, digging our way out might actually be a possibility.”
She was getting a bit ahead of herself here, but she was pretty confident in the ideas. Still, to reel herself back a bit…
“Completely agreed on the human ladder if things don’t work out though. PE wasn’t my strong suit in school, but if it’s to make sure Sydnee survives, I’ll do my best. Anything for the egg,” she joked, ending with a giggle.
“Dunno if we have that kind of time…” Lys mused, “…or energy.”
Catching Pokémon to help get out sounded great in theory, but that would’ve required a heavy detour and hoping that together they had enough food to manage. Ella’s insistence that they would be able to get directions from wilds confused her; it wasn’t like they could speak Geodude. And if they got lucky, what if they accidentally caused another cave-in by digging in the wrong spots? or if a battle caused one? She wasn’t sure. She wasn’t much of a thinker, she was more of a doer.
“Guess we should get started. Everyone ready for the great cave adventure?” She smirked.