Nothing ventured, nothing gained
"- And that's why I'm going to become a trainer."
Silence reigned. It wasn't a silence where the recepient of the answer was brimming to the eyes with tears of joy. Nor scowls of anger. Rather, it was a detente. Unfortunately, he wasn't one for words. Willis gripped the arm rest of the old, carved hickory rocking chair for a few seconds or more before breaking the lack of conversation.
"Well, got anything to say to me?"
It was hard to believe the man sitting in front of him was The Ratel. A Blackhat Ranger. A person whose long shadow haunted him, even if they were separated routes away. Now? He was just a lowly berry farmer. A berry farmer who subsisted off disgusting Unovan Petill cigars and his numerous bottles of alcohol. Scotch. Whiskey. Beer. Spirits. There always seemed to be a bottle near to him whenever he could help it. Although, he wasn't reliant on it to the point of it being equivalent to a lifeline. Unlike so many others.
That was his father, though. On the precipice of falling from his heights, but yet, just barely hanging onto the edge.
His senior's face perched up to look at his own in an infuriatingly apathetic glance, as if he'd been dozing through the entirety of his speech. Their features were about the same. Genetically. There was the same ruggedness and angular shapes, well-defined design that been passed on by blood to him. Only that time had seperated their looks apart. He was looking at a warped reflection of himself. Well, with both arms that was. His father's hair was the color of ashen brown, peppered with flecks of grey after years of ennui in Pallet. His skin had become a coarse, leathery texture, akin to that of a Wartortle. His eyes were a cold shade of crystalline grey that were on their journey soon to become cataracts. His attire of choice was a simple get-up. A flannel shirt and mud-caked jeans from working out in their precious field all day.
The man replied back, the timbre of his voice unchanged, even after decades of ageing.
" You should have said hello to your mother before she went out to the market. Maybe, I should call her with my Tact Pad, see if she can pick up some of those Oran Berri-"
" STOP IT!"
He slammed his remaining fist on the armrest. His father paused. Great. Trying to steer away the conversation. Just when he'd tried to reach out to him. Willis ripped off his cast furiously and pointed towards his healed stump, trying to elicit some sort of reaction out of his father. Anything!
" Just....stop patronising me! I'm not a child anymore. Enough with the bullshit! Stop the stalling and tell me what you think of this. Of me. Of my decision."
He lifted the stump out more towards him, revealing the cold pale scar tissue and the fading stitches around the amputated area.
" I've tried the Ranger Corps! I've sacrificed a literal arm for their cause and all they can do is laugh at me. Compare me to you. They call me the Badger. The little fucking Badger compared to your Ratel. So, tell me. Do you support me on this! Do you?"
Willis finally collasped on his chair, his composure broken like a shattered plate on the floor as his father, Robert H Ashton remained silent through it all, stone-cold.
" Please...I need to know."
Silence. Again. When his father opened his mouth, Willis thought he was finally going to say it. That he was finally giving him permission. Handing him the keys to his own destiny. Relieving him of his own shadows.
The answer wasn't what he wanted. Nor what he didn't want at the same time.
Something ventured, nothing gained
There was a wide variety of ethnicities here. Viridian. Pallet. Fuschia. Saffron. Motherfucking Vermillion. No Cerulean, Cinnabareans or any foreigners he'd seen so far, however. No foreigner would be insane enough to come out to a mere trainer graduation party, however. Indigo still were in the works negotiating their alliances to the internationally-accepted peace ruling body that was the Concordant. The Orre Situation made the security a little tight in immigration and in a world like this, you'd have to be a rich motherfucker with a bucket of Idols and your own personal butlers to afford cross-regional transport.
Yet, people all over the world still had a desire for tourism. Despite everything that happened. Seemed that even cataclysmic events couldn't halt the curiosity of humanity. Especially tourism.
Once he made sure Thrush had calmed down to a safe level, Willis set him down back again and stood back against the wall once more. Ugh. Couldn't this sideshow be done and over with, already? If he had to bear the last 5 minutes of waiting wallowing in gossping, then, hopefully, it was good gossip. The Ranger Corps had a host of good conversation topics when they were bored. Fuck, Marry, Kill. Bets on who would win the Indigo Regional Finals. Who was the hottest celebrity trainer. Dumb trainer stories of the week. Who would win in a theoretical match-up between a Blackthorn Dragonite and a Ophanim Salamence (The most commonly bred one was the one used by the Blackthorn Clan but discussing into the details of different species was too mind-bending for Willis.)
The topics that civvies commonly talked about seemed taboo or even strange to him, after spending two years in the Corps. Discussing how cute each of their pokemon were. All of their materialistic worries were alien compared to his. Getting coupons for the next Poke-Mart summer sale. Buying that new model of whatever brand, good was out there. Talking about the political relationships between Hoenn and Sinnoh. How the stock market was doing.
He didn't care about that crap out in the Frontier. All he cared about was killing the mon and anything that could raise his morale was a plus. All of that just seemed.....beneath him now that he'd been medically discharged from the Corps.
"Perna Rockwood. This is one here is Brutus. We're from Saffron City as well."
A girl like her from Saffron? That was suspicious. Because, for one, he was hella sure that a heavily urbanized area like Saffron wouldn't play host to Tauros. Nor did her garb or overall physicality matched those of the average Saffron citizens he saw. Their mental muscles would have won them a gold star in the cerebral WWE but those bunch of pencil-necked eggheads had noodles for bodies. Or maybe he was overanalyzing. Perhaps, she'd moved in from the country to the city at a young age by parents who wanted a better life for her. Maybe, the Tauros was a trade over the Wet Market or a Trainer Mart. Didn't have to go prodding his nose more in than he had to.
"Sorry, he's not in a good mood today. Too many people."
Like any Tauros would be comfortable in a place like this. Or pokemon for that manner. For all that Rangers gabbled on about those 'damn trainers', it was a miracle that with this much mon and this much noobie trainer packed in one place that there hadn't been an incident yet. Perhaps, his faith in humanity wasn't misplaced after all. Nevertheless, it was to be expected. Tauros were naturally a rigorous and tempermental species like the bovines of old. Fickle. Irritable. Willis moved Thrush's pot away from the old Tauros unless it got any ideas.
Anyway, it seemed like the only other person he could stand being in the corner with was now engaging in conversation instead of engaging with letters. Looked like she'd succumbed to the same fate as him. The announcer overhead spoke out once more, before cutting off at the end with a electronic buzz. The trainers continued to chatter as the monotone voice of the announcement blurred with the haze of chit-chat.
" Attention, all trainers. The ceremony approximately begins in about 10 minutes. Please make sure that your pokemon are stored in your poke-balls by then and that you are properly prepared for the activities of the ceremony. Until then, please enjoy the mandatory refreshments available in the hall."
Willis rolled his eyes before musing out loud towards Perna.
" People today. Can't keep track of the time. Need announcements to do their work. Maybe, if more people could, this damn conference wouldn't take as long to begin."
He unscrewed the lid of his canteen, looking at Perna curiously before swallowing down a gulp of water.
" So, why'd you decide to come to this shindig of a graduation ceremony in the first place, anyway? Full of social hormonal teens and young adults like you and me? You seem more interested in reading those letters back there and keeping yourself quiet rather than have whatever Oak wants us to do."
Willis shook his head and gave an offhand remark towards Perna, clutching his head. Ugh. Looks like he couldn't escape the trap of socialization forever.
" Well, guess I can't judge you since I've been doing that crap as well. Ranger with one arm signing up to be a trainer. Why don't you write that story to one of your pen-pals?"
Wet Market - One of the official colloqiual terms for the section of the underground Black-Market that primarily operates in dealing rare and undocumented wild and trained pokemon to trainers. It has been rumoured among the League community and all League officials have tried to crack down on any illegal, unsanctioned League trading of wild mon but so far, the Wet Market has remained elusive.
Ophanim Salamences - Ophenim Salamences are a breed of Hunter-Killer genetically augmented Salamences that are primarily used for Miltary operations to defend strategic Military outposts from terrorist attacks. The question of whether Ophenim Salamences are reliable has been debated thoroughly in the Indigo Provincial Congress for some time now, due to the dragon's species innate trait for pre-mediated violence.