Attack on Route 19
“C'mon , Amber! You're falling behind again!”
The young trainer spun around to face the voice. She swatted a lock of her shoulder-length, violet-red hair out of her face and sighed. She had big green eyes and a pale complexion. Though she was eighteen years old, Amber still had a rather childlike build and a personality to match. Her clothes added to the young, appearance: a simple, light red shirt under a blue jacket and black jeans with hiking boots.
Amber had come this far from home only once before and that was when she was visiting her friend Leo all the way from Aspertia. He was the one who had scolded her and was now coming down the path back towards Amber as she gave him a look.
“Give me a break. I'm kind of in a bad mood.” She glared back at her friend in annoyance. He was heavily built for his age: only twenty-one. His messy, dark blue hair was spiked and swept to the right. An annoyed look was pasted on his tan face and he narrowed green eyes at her. He was wearing a red tank top shirt and blue-jean shorts with tennis shoes.
When Amber had suggested this trip some two weeks ago, it was clear out of the blue. She only had one Pokémon and that was still just an egg. Leo's one Pokémon was an energetic and rather impish female Growlithe named Flare, who came running up to Amber impatiently. Flare stood on her haunches and pawed Amber's legs, making “lith” noises at her.
“Look at me. What kind of trainer am I when I can't even get this egg to hatch?” Amber said, more to herself than the Growlithe. She was becoming increasingly concerned about the egg's state. She didn't even know what was inside.
It was found at her parents' house in Aspertia in the garden three weeks ago. Amber never saw any sign of its parents in that time and decided that she wanted to become a trainer with this baby as her partner. That was how she found herself on Route 19 with Leo.
She and him had been next door neighbors and childhood friends until he moved to Flocessy to pursue his job as a ranch hand six months ago. Leo's explanation was that he wanted at least 2000 Pokè in the bank before setting out himself. Amber had to agree to let him have both of their prize money to pay the rest of his bills, but she was glad he was here. Right now though, Amber just felt frustrated and a little angry about the egg not hatching.
“What's wrong?” asked Leo. His earlier frustration was replaced with kindly concern. “It's not like you to be so down.”
Amber sighed and looked at the egg she was carrying. It was small for a Pokémon egg, small enough to fit in both hands easily. Its surface was an ivory color and had spots of darker beige on it. Neither she nor Leo had ever seen an egg like that one before. That was why Amber was going to Virbank City. Someone in a bigger city had to know what the egg was.
“It's been a pretty long time. You'd think it would've hatched by now...” Amber shook her head. “What have I done wrong, Leo? You've been around more baby Pokémon than me...”
Leo scratched his head. "Nothing. That's what I don't get. Don't worry so much. It moves sometimes, so I bet its just a bit longer."
Amber looked up from the egg. “I hope you're right. I was counting on this little one to be my new partner, but...”
“Hey, stop moping already. It's gonna be just fine. Flare and I will be here. Besides, we'll never make it to Flocessy if you can't get moving.” Leo glanced off towards the setting sun. “I doubt we'll even be there before it gets dark.”
Amber nodded once. She looked down at Flare, who had stopped her noises, if only because she had Amber's shirt hem in her mouth. She could swear Flare was grinning up at her. Amber smiled at the puppy and scratched her in her favorite spot just behind her head. The dog growled happily and half-closed her eyes, leaning up against Amber.
She smiled and hugged the amicable pup. “You're so cute, Flare. Thanks.” When she looked up again, her good cheer had returned. Amber carefully hefted the egg and grinned. “Let's go then.”
“I think we should set up camp.” The older boy was looking at the sunset. “Its getting late. You have the tents, right?”
"Wait, camp?" Amber's eyes widened and her face fell. She didn't like the suggestion one bit. "We're stopping...here?!"
“Of course we are.” Leo picked about the field, settling on a good place several yards off the trail. “How about here...Amber? Now what's wrong?”
Amber was glancing here and there nervously. She held the egg close to her body, managing to look like a Wurmple that just spotted a Pidgey. “R-really? Outside just like this?” She fidgeted and kicked at the dirt. “Are you serious? There's still some daylight left. Let's just go on.”
Leo shook his head. “Roggenrola come out around this time. Flare can't handle rock-types too good.” Leo started clearing some debris from the campsite. “Gimme a hand, Amber.”
Amber cast her worried gaze at Leo. Leo either ignored the stare or was too busy to notice. Maybe he didn't get the hint? Amber had never camped out on the trail before and she was concerned about sleeping in the wild. Amber had heard tales of wild Pokémon attacking unwary humans, especially humans without any protection. Leo's earlier remark about the Roggenrola only made it worse. Flare was all either of them had after all. If she got in a pinch... Amber shook her head. It wasn't a good idea to get too worked up thinking about it. She went over to the clearing and unloaded the backpack she was wearing, sighing dejectedly. Tonight wasn't going to be much fun.
Leo stared at the crackling campfire, poking at a hot ember with a stick. It was half-past ten at night, but Leo couldn't sleep. His mind was preoccupied; he simply couldn't settle down. Though his body was tired, his brain wouldn't stop. He glanced up to where Amber was sleeping. She hadn't come back out in over an hour. Leo was about to get up and check on her when she poked her head out of the tent flap.
“Still can't sleep...” She muttered, crawling out. Flare raced up and licked Amber on the nose, yapping happily. Amber smiled and stroked Flare on the snout. Leo grinned too. It always cheered him up to see his two best friends getting along so well. For a moment, his concerns were nothing.
“Me neither. Just trying to keep the fire going. Not much else.”
Amber looked him in the eye calmly. Leo swallowed. He knew she saw right through his fake nonchalance. “Leo. What's wrong?” She walked over and sat by him, leaning up against the small tree he was under.
Leo looked up at the star-strewn sky. He wasn't sure how to put it into words. Leo was inclined to tell Amber the truth, but he was afraid to. He knew she saw him as a close friend; they had been next door neighbors for most of their lives, and friends just as long. Leo never really considered it until now, but he thought maybe she was more to him. More than a friend. He just had to gather the courage to say it. He might not get another chance if Amber really wanted to leave. Leo looked back down at Amber, campfire flickering across her features. She wore an expression something between concern and curiosity across her face and she tilted her head a little, firelight catching in her eyes. A stray strand of hair fell into her eye and she brushed it aside.
“Arceus, she's gorgeous...” Leo muttered, biting his lip as he realized he had spoken. A hot flush spread across his face and he knew he was blushing.
Amber seemed puzzled. "Leo, why are you staring?" Amber wiped at her face. "I must look like a mess huh?" She pulled her compact mirror out of her pocket and frowned at her reflection.
Leo chuckled. It was cute how oblivious she could be sometimes. "I-its nothing." He ran a hand through his hair, grinning sheepishly. She tilted her head again, giving Leo a quizzical look. Leo noticed just then that Flare had wandered off some ways beyond Amber's tent. Her head was down and her tail swished back and forth, but Leo couldn't see what she was doing because her back was to him.
“C'mere Flare,” Leo called. The pup looked over her shoulder at him and barked. Leo noticed something when Flare turned. A small spot of blood was on the dog's nose. Leo stood up, his starstruck mood gone. Was Flare hurt?!
“Leo?” Queried Amber. Her expression turned more serious and she pocketed her compact. She stood and asked again, “Leo, say something!”
He put a hand on her shoulder. “Stay put. Flare found something.”
Leo walked over to Flare, taking a small flashlight out of his pocket and turning it on. When he pointed the light at her, he saw what had attracted her attention. A trail of fresh blood meandered its way around the campsite and deeper into the trees. That must have been why Flare had blood on her nose. Leo shined his light around and saw more evidence of trouble. There was trampled grass and torn-up dirt everywhere. Something violent happened here. Flare was holding a big tooth of some kind in her mouth and staring at Leo. He took the tooth and examined it closer. The tooth was a pale green color and very broad, but thin. It had a sharp edge and seemed broken near the root. Whatever had lost this tooth had to have been in pain.
He shone his light around again and got a surprise. Several pairs of eyes gleamed at him from the bushes and a snarl greeted his ears. Before he had time to react, three angry Houndour burst out of the trees, snarling and howling. Leo was shocked for a moment. These Houndour must be behind whatever happened here. Flare's barking snapped him out of his astonishment. The dog raced in front of him, lips pulled back in a snarl. Flare's golden tail lashed up and down as she glared at her foes. She glanced up at Leo, making her ire obvious. He quickly assessed his foes. They outnumbered him, but they were small, save one which was the same size as Flare. Leo guessed they were young, probably siblings. Easily beaten.
Leo pointed at one of the Pokémon.”Flare! Get 'em!” The Growlithe charged with a howl, slamming headfirst into the largest of the three. It fell on its rear end and yelped. A second one with one ear torn circled around while the third with a scar on its back jumped on Flare's back and bit her in the head. She bucked and kicked the big dog, sending the second opponent flying off. Flare lunged at the jumper, flames spurting from her mouth as she bit into her enemy.
Leo just realized he didn't see the one-eared Houndour anywhere. He nearly assumed it ran away when a scream from the camp got his attention. He spun on his heel and saw a terrifying sight. The one-ear was stalking up on Amber, baring its teeth and growling fiercely. Amber was backing away slowly, her eyes wide with fear. Without even thinking, Leo charged forward and threw his flashlight at the Houndour. It bounced off the dog's back and the Houndour turned towards him, flattening its one working ear. The flashlight rolled to a stop nearby.
“Come get me!” Leo shouted, challenging the Pokémon further as he ran at it, waving his arms, “I'm your enemy!” It barked and charged right back. The pup leaped up and bit Leo on the left shoulder, knocking him over on his back. He sat up, surprised and threw the dog off, who crashed into a bush with a yip. He hadn't expected it to actually bite him! Leo turned back to Amber.
“Are you okay, Amber?” He asked, rubbing his injury.
She screamed again and pointed. “Leo! Look out!”
Something slammed hard into Leo's back and knocked him painfully on his face. It came too fast for him to do anything but curse in surprise and pain. It was very heavy and much stronger than the pup. He felt a pair of paws press powerfully on his back, paws too big for a Houndour. Leo struggled to look over his shoulder and look at what had him pinned.
The flashlight had landed behind them some ways, revealing that Flare had defeated the other two Houndour, but she was staring in open-jawed shock at her trainer. Not that he blamed her; the light silhouetted the shape of a much bigger Pokémon, horned head low. A long, spade-tipped tail swished behind it and red eyes glowed in the night as a deep growl met Leo's ears. He struggled to get up from under the big dog. The Pokémon responded with a vicious bite to his right arm. He cried out as the furious dog shook its head. It changed its attack to his neck and Leo found himself afraid for his life. This dog was trying to kill him! Flames spurted from its nostrils and burned the side of his face. Leo tried to pry the angry dog's jaws off his throat. When he couldn't budge it, he punched it in the jaw. It let go and growled vehemently, stumbling enough to free Leo. He scrambled to his feet, tearing up at the stabbing pain in his torso. Leo was now able to get a better look at the furious Pokémon. It was an adult Houndoom: female, judging by the slender horns. This must be the pups' mother! Leo swallowed hard. No wonder she was outraged. The one-eared pup joined its mother's side, yelping excitedly and flicking its one good ear.
Flare barked twice, howled loudly, and leaped at the Houndour with a rolling tackle. Houndoom swiped at her from behind only to hit the Houndour by mistake. It yipped in protest and glared at its mother.
Leo thought quickly. The situation was serious and getting worse by the moment. Flare wasn't ready to take a full-grown Houndoom yet. He could see she was struggling to fight as it was. Leo turned back and looked at Amber.
The already frightened expression on her face grew more intense and she gasped. Leo was taken aback when she rushed to him. Was he hurt that bad? “Leo, Leo are you okay?!” She shook her head. “Stupid question. Of course you aren't. Sit down, you're bleeding pretty bad!”
“No.” He wanted nothing more than to do that though. Leo twisted away and pointed to Flare. He winced at the stab of pain that shot through him when he moved his neck by mistake. He could see Flare had beaten the one-eared Houndour, but she was about to faint. “Flare's had enough!” he continued, “We can't win!”
“What?!” Amber cried out, “But what about-?”
“No time!” Leo cut her off, “Flare, come! We gotta get outta here!”
Things looked grim. Leo quickly assessed his options. They had a better chance of getting away if they split up. Leo glared at the ground, cursing himself for thinking of it. Amber was defenseless. If the Houndoom followed her, she would be... He shot a look at the furious Houndoom, who blew a plume of fire at Flare as she ran to Leo's side. He considered the escape routes. They could take the path, but so could their enemy. If they went through the trees they stood a better chance of losing the Houndoom. Of course, they stood a good chance of getting lost in the dark regardless. The choice was made for him when the mother Houndoom blew fire at him, forcing Leo to retreat down the path. His body was racked with pain as he charged, but he soldiered on, knowing he was dog kibble if he slowed down. He heard the Houndoom howl behind him and the crunch of paws on the dirt as she rushed after him. Amber was right beside him, crying and screaming in fear. Leo scrunched his eyes shut and barreled on.
He had to hope it was enough.
It was all he could do.
Amber had never been so scared in her whole life. The last thing she expected on her first day was a wild Pokémon, much less one that was trying to kill her! She felt helpless and cowardly. She clutched the egg close and looked back.
She stopped in her tracks at what she saw.
The Houndoom that had been tailing them was starting to catch up with Leo! He was stumbling and breathing heavily, clearly exhausted with pain and fatigue. He took several clumsy steps and tripped, twisting his leg and landing to face the pursuer. Flare whirled around and took a flying leap in front of Houndoom, valiantly shielding her trainer. Amber rushed to Leo and knelt by his side. She looked at Houndoom, who was licking her chops expectantly. Amber cringed and covered her face. She didn't want to see what was coming next.
What she heard next wasn't what she expected at all. A yelp. A thud. A loud...squawking? Footsteps getting closer?! She opened her eyes in a start. Confusion replaced fear as she surveyed the scene. Flare had fainted and fallen straight on her face. A strange Pokémon stood beside the fallen Houndoom. It was unlike anything Amber had ever seen before. It was a small, green, reptilian Pokémon. It stood about the same height as Flare, but upright like a person. A big crest ran from the top of the back of its head and down the back of its skull, arching straight up like a mohawk. It sported an oval-shaped, darker green patch that covered its forehead and crest and a teardrop patch the same color by each big, red eye. It also sported a leaf-green collar of color around its neck with a small triangular shape that jutted down slightly. One giant, pale green tooth protruded from the right side of its mouth. The corresponding left side of its face was somewhat bloody and the Pokémon licked at its lip gingerly. The Pokémon wiggled its three-fingered "hands", almost as if anticipating something. It did not take its intense gaze from Amber, but continued to stare. Amber was perplexed.
Where did this Pokémon come from? Why was it staring at them like that? Did it just save them? If so, why?
“S...shu?” It squealed, tilting its head sideways as it continued to stare. Amber wasn't sure how or why, but one thing was clear. This little lizard was interested in her. Amber turned and opened her mouth to ask Leo what he thought, but stopped herself. Leo had passed out too and was slumped over beside his Pokémon.
Amber looked at the strange Pokémon again. It walked closer to them. She blinked and put an arm in front of Leo, but the lizard boldly approached her instead. Amber let it come. Something about its approach didn't seem threatening, instead it seemed to want something It nudged Leo's right jeans pocket with a paw and squealed. Amber reached into the pocket, never taking her eyes off of the Pokémon. Her hands met the cool touch of ivory. It was the Pokémon tooth Leo found earlier. No sooner than she removed the tooth than the lizard squalled and suddenly snatched it.
“Yikes!” Amber pulled away and blinked. The lizard seemed equally surprised. It jumped back and squeaked, looking at Amber in wide-eyed alarm. It blinked a couple of times, chirruped, then looked at the tooth again. Its expression changed from alarm to dismay quickly as it examined the fang. Amber realized this must be the Pokémon that was injured back in camp.
She decided to try talking to it. “Did you save us?” She smiled and nodded once slowly. “Thank you.” She doubted a wild Pokémon could understand her, but she hoped it would at least get the idea. The Pokémon looked up at Amber. It was trying to put the tooth back in its place, but it of course wasn't succeeding. She slowly reached into her pocket for her Xtransceiver. She was about to call for help when she felt a warmth by her leg. It was the Pokémon again. It was hugging her leg and chattering at her. It looked up at her and cocked its head, seeming to expect an answer.
Amber carefully reached out to the little Pokémon. “What's wrong? You can g-” The lizard suddenly hopped into her lap and glanced at Leo, then back at her, meeting her eye-to-eye. The expression on its face was now one of worry. Was it worried for Leo? Why? What a bizarre thing for a wild Pokémon to do! Amber thought it was charming though. She opened the Xtransceiver and dialed. There would be time to think about it later. Leo needed help, and quickly.