Chapter 6: Pain in the Skull
The next morning was a rather pleasant awakening, which was rather odd considering that Loudred was normally in charge of waking up the other guild members. Shin'ichi got up and stretched before nudging Naomi gently awake.
"Mmph, Shin'ichi," Naomi yawned, half-awake. "Why are you getting me up? Chatot said we have today off."
"Hey, that doesn't mean we're just gonna sit around and do nothing." Shin'ichi said, helping Naomi up. "Come on, we'll listen to morning announcements, then we can go explore around town for a bit."
"I guess," Naomi said, groggily rubbing her eyes as she started walking out of the room. "Well, let's get this out of the way..."
After morning announcements were finished, Shin'ichi and Naomi headed out of the guild. They started heading sown the steps before coming to an odd sight; there was a large gathering of the town's Pokémon were gathered around a large hole near the corner of the crossroads between town, the Guild, and the Beach. They started to file in and curiosity got the better of the both of them.
"What's up?" Shin'ichi asked. "What's the hubbub all about?"
Naomi shrugged. "Dunno, but it looks interesting enough. Wanna go check it out?"
"Why not?" Shin'ichi said, smirking. "Not like we have anything else to do today." Naomi nodded, and soon the two entered down the staircase in the hole.
What the two came out to was a rather impressive sight. A massive underground cavern, sprawled with large stands with assorted berries and drink machines, as well as a couple of brick-fire ovens behind the counters. Posters advertising for other businesses in Treasure Town were across the walls at regular intervals, some tilted sideways ever so slightly. Near the back of the place was a rather large stage of sorts. In front of the stage stood a small, tall eared Pokémon that looked like it had trouble standing, given how it was teetering back and forth in a confused matter. But, it was not being fooled by anyone, for this was common behavior for a Spinda. Standing next to the Spinda were two light blue Pokémon, one being a Wynaut and the other being it's evolution, a Wobbuffet. Then three other Pokémon came out onto the stage. Two of them were recognizable right off the bat; the large golden ring on the Pokémon's stomach and completely brown fur signified that that was an Ursaring, wearing a black bow tie and top hat, while holding a curved show cane in it's right hand. The other, with a large feathered v-crest pointing downwards and a simplistic nocked red beak, that was a Blaziken. The third however, was an odd-looking one. It resembled a rabbit, no doubt, but it was round and stocky, shorter than the Ursaring and Blaziken. It's fur was grey aside from it's feet which were brown and paws which were white. Perhaps the most notable feature about it were the two large ears sprouting out of it's head, combined about as big as the body. They were the same color as it's fur, but the ends were brown and almost looked like hands; a Diggersby. Under it's brown muzzle it wore a bright red bow tie.
Spinda was the first to step forward. "Ladies and gentlePokémon!" He spoke. "I am please to announce that our new business has finally been set up! Welcome to the new and improved Spinda Food Court!"
Large amounts of chatter surged throughout the crowd as to what was going on with this new business. Then the Wynaut stepped up. "That's right! Our busines is now up and running thanks to all who have helped supported this project, and it will be grand!"
"That's right!" Wobbuffet commented as he gave a signature salute that most Wobbuffet do.
"Now then, please, we welcome you to become part of the place and help out!" Spinda said twirling in place. "Wynaut's recycle shop can help provide with all your item trading needs!"
"And feeling particularly thirsty of hungry?" Wynaut said, bouncing up to on top of Wobbuffet's head. "Not a problem with that either! We have several stands for quality food and beverage took keep your stomachs nice and full!"
"With a top of the line entertainment show!" The Ursaring finally spoke, straightening his bow tie. "As the leader of this entertainment group, we look forward to pleasing this audience with top of the line music, and quality comedy skits! And it won't just be us! We've got special music and comedy guests every so often, so make sure you keep the latest on who is here each night!"
"Well, this place is rather interesting," Naomi said. "Did this place just pop in overnight?"
"Dunno." Shin'ichi said. "But it certainly seems interesting. We could come here sometime later to relax."
"I guess," Naomi shrugged. "Let's head back and look around the guild a bit. Maybe there's someone we can talk to."
"Eh, ok." Shin'ichi said, heading up the staircase. "Let's head back."
"Looks kinda boring around here..." Naomi said, looking around the first floor of the guild.
"Yeah," Shin'ichi said. "Maybe this wasn't the best idea."
"Woh-ho!" A voice said. "Well, if it isn't the two brats from the beach!" Naomi's head whipped over to the Mission Request Board, only to see something that made her stomach sank; the Koffing and Zubat from the beach a few days ago!
"Y-you two are here?!" Naomi gasped. "Wh-why are criminals like you two here?!"
"Weh-heh! You two clearly don't recognize another Exploration Team!" The Zubat cackled. "Though we don't...comply by the rules."
"What, sour over how you lost to us last time?" Shin'ichi said. "Well, try to take us on now!"
"Woh-ho!" The Koffing said. "Like we'd take you on without the chief!"
"Ch-chief?" Naomi stuttered. "You have a chief?"
"Yeah, well who is this so-called chief?" Shin'ichi said, pounding a fist into his other paw.
"A-hem!" Came a harsh voice from behind the two. "That would be...me."
Both of the young Pokémon whipped around only to be met with the face of a large, and rather fearsome, Skuntank. Naomi was frozen by her own fear while Shin'ichi was unfazed.
"Now then, move it. I don't have time for runts like you two." The Skuntank growled.
"And what makes you think I'm gonna?" Shin'ichi fired back.
Skuntank's eyes narrowed before a clawed paw extended and batted Shin'ichi off to the side. Shin'ichi collided with the wall and slumped to the floor, unconscious. Naomi gasped and rushed over to Shin'ichi, checking to see if he was okay. Skuntank chuckled to himself as he waltzed over to Koffing and Zubat.
"Well then, any juicy jobs for today?" Skuntank asked Koffing and Zubat.
"Naw, just a bunch of weak jobs with not much pay." Koffing said. "But, there was something interesting that Zubat heard over the Guildmaster..."
"And that would be?" Skuntank said. Zubat flitted over to Skuntank's ear and started whispering something. Skuntank's expression turned to one of interest.
"Ah, now that is interesting!" Skuntank commented. "Well, then, boys, I believe we have a chat with the Guildmaster!" He said, turning and heading down the ladder to the second floor.
"Ughh.." Naomi said, flopping onto her bed after dinner. "Here I thought an actual break day would be good..."
"Well hey, it wasn't that bad," Shin'ichi said, sitting down on his bed. "At least we got to see the new business in town."
"I guess..." Naomi said, lying on her back. "But that other team... the ones who were the same two that stole my Relic Fragment..."
"Yeah, that wasn't exactly a stellar moment of today." Shin'ichi said. "But hey, there's always work tomorrow."
"I guess... so..." Naomi sighed. "C'mon, we really should get some sleep..."
"Ah! You two!" A voice rang. Naomi sat straight up to see Chatot in the doorway of the room. "All I need is just a minute with you two."
"Wh-what's wrong Chatot?" Naomi stuttered. "Did we do something wrong?"
"No, no, nothing to that regard." He said. "What I want to discuss with you two is a rather big opportunity."
"Opportunity?" Shin'ichi asked.
"Yes," Chatot nodded. "The Guildmaster and I have been having a discussion, and we have decided that it is time for a guild expedition. Now normally we don't take along rookies for these expeditions, but with both your remarkable performances these past few days, we have decided to include you two for candidates for the expedition."
Naomi's eyes lit up and sparkled with excitement. "Wow! An expedition?!"
"Yes, yes," Chatot remarked. "Just keep up your good work, and you'll be going for sure!" After that, Chatot turned and left back down the corridor.
"Ahem! If I may have everyone's attention please!" Chatot said, quieting down the guild members at the next day's morning announcements. "Now then, the Guildmaster and I have been in discussion for quite some time now, and I can now say, with confidence, that we will be preparing for another guild expedition." Nearly the whole guild burst out with conversation at the announcement. "Now, we are picking candidates based on your work ethic these next few days. Those who do not work hard enough, they do not go! Now then," he continued. "We will also be having another team, eh, 'temporarily' joining us for this expedition. So, they will be working with us for the next couple of days. They should be here soon."
A sharp inhale of air from Loudred was all that the guild needed to signify the arrival. "Yep," he said. "I can SMELL them coming from here!"
"Smell...?" Was all that Naomi said before a gasp escaped her mouth to see who were coming down the ladder; the Skuntank and his cohorts from the other day.
"Everyone," Chatot said. "This is Team Skull, our acquaintances for next couple of days."
"Pleased to make you acquaintance everyone," Skuntank said, though Naomi knew that he was lying his tail off. "We'll try not to interfere with anyone's work until we get to the expedition. So, for now, just act like we don't exist, and we won't be a hassle."
"Yes, now then," Chatot continued, straightening his monocle. "I'm expecting hard work out of all of you this time around, so get to it!" After that, announcements ended officially.
"C'mon Shin'ichi!" Naomi said, dragging her partner Riolu to the ladder. "Let's get a lot of work done, that way we can go for sure!"
"Ap,ap,ap! Hold on you two." Chatot said, flitting to in front of the ladder. "I actually have a personal assignment for you two."
"And that would be?" Shin'ichi asked.
"Unfortunately, our Guildmaster's tendencies for midnight snack runs has emptied the food storages of Perfect Apples. And if he doesn't get one tonight," Chatot shuddered. "There's no telling what he might do! So, on behalf of the guild, I am entrusting you to head straight for the nearby Apple Woods to retrieve these Apples. Can I trust you two?"
Naomi gave a salute and nodded. Chatot sighed. "That doesn't help my hope much, but I'm counting on you two."
"Oh, man! How big IS this place?!" Naomi said, looking at the towering trees above them. "We're never gonna find that tree!"
"Oh, come on Naomi, don't be such a pessimist." Shin'ichi stated. "How hard can this be? We find the tree, get the apples, get back home, done! It'll be a cinch!"
"I can only hope..." Naomi said, looking uneasily at the dark parts of the forest. "This place gives me the creeps."
"Look, we should be almost there." Shin'ichi said, rounding the corner in the path, only to find out they were back at an intersection in the forest they had passed nearly ten minutes ago.
"Yep, that figures, WE'RE LOST." Naomi said flatly. "It's gonna be midnight before we find that stupid tree."
"Look, if we just stay focu-" Shin'ichi started, but was abruptly interrupted.
"I'm sorry, I couldn't help but overhear your comedical argument!" A voice giggled. "Are you two lost?"
Shin'ichi's head whirled around in multiple directions, getting into a fighting stance. "Who's there?" He said. "Show yourself!"
The giggle seemed to resound the two explorers again. "Well, you don't need to be so crash," the voice said. "You want to see me? Just look up."
Both Shin'ichi's and Naomi's heads shot straight up to see another Pokémon resting on the branches above them. It's body was a mint green, with a same color head surrounded by a more natural green and three thorns upon it's head. A large leaf rested in front of it's body, and it's thin arms ended in two blooming roses, a red on the right side, and a blue on the left, with small, near human-like hands concealed within the center of her roses. Her sapphire eyes seemed to glow from the light through the trees, and a crimson bow rested on the left side of her head. The rather playful one; a Roselia.
"What do you want?" Naomi questioned. "Are you just trying to pester us of something?"
The Roselia giggled at this response. "My, my! What a serious lack of trust we have coming from you two." She said, hopping down from the trees. "I can assure you two, you have nothing to worry about from me."
Naomi looked unsure about this new Pokémon that appeared, but Shin'ichi stepped up. "So, you've lived in this forest this entire time?"
"Ever since I was a little Budew," the Roselia said, acting perky. "Let me tell you, I know this place like the back of my...rose!"
"Well then," Shin'ichi asked. "We're looking for a tree that grows Perfect Apples. Would you know where that is?"
"As a matter of fact I do!" The Roselia said. "Just follow me, it's not that far!"
After a couple of minutes through the forest, the three Pokémon arrived at a large tree, much larger than the other ones in the forest. Large, shining apples hung from the branches of the large tree.
"See? I'm a girl of my word!" The Roselia said. "Freshly ripe Perfect Apples for the picking!"
"Sweet!" Shin'ichi said, heading up to the tree. "This should be enough to refill the food storages for the Guild!"
"Yeah," Naomi said, turning to the Roselia. "I guess we have you to thank for."
"Oh, please, it was nothin'," The perky Roselia said. "I've explored this forest for most of my life, so this was a cinch to find."
"So, you're the adventurous type?" Shin'ichi asked. The Roselia nodded. "Well then, I have an idea."
"Shin'ichi, I see where you're going with this, and I'm not so sure we should." Naomi said.
"Oh, come on, she'd be perfect!" Shin'ichi said. Naomi shrugged. "I guess..." She said, uneasily.
"What do you two mean?" The Roselia asked.
Shin'ichi jumped down from his perch on the tree. "Well," He said, reaching into the Treasure Bag and pulling out a badge. "How would you like to join our Exploration Team?"
The Roselia looked confused at this. "Well now, first I help and now I'm getting recruited out of the blue?!" She asked. "Well, this is awkward..."
"Hey, it's your choice," Shin'ichi said. "I just think you'd be a great member to have along."
"Well..." The Roselia said. "Aw what the hey, sure I'll join!" She said, perking up, and Shin'ichi handed the badge to her. "Oh! I almost forgot to introduce myself. I'm Rosa, pleasure to meet you."
"Name's Shin'ichi," The Riolu said.
"I'm Naomi." The Ralts introduced herself.
"Well, now that the formalities are out of the way, shall we gather the Apples?" Rosa asked. Shin'ichi nodded. "Yeah, let's get these gathered up."
"Ugh, FINALLY. And here I thought I was going to faint of boredom with you three." A voice said. Shin'ichi whipped around to see none other than Team Skull up in the tree.
"Y-you three!" Naomi stuttered. "Wh-what are you guys doing here?!"
"Who-ho!" Koffing laughed. "Isn't it obvious? Preventing YOU three from going on the expedition!"
"Wh-what?!" Naomi choked. "Y-you can't!"
"Chaw-haw!" Skuntank cackled. "You want to bet? Watch us!" He said, leaping down from the tree.
"Oh, I'm going to enjoy watching this, weh-heh," Zubat said as he stayed behind Skuntank and Koffing.
"So it's a fight you want? Bring it lardball!" Shin'ichi said, getting into a fighting stance.
"Oh, you're asking for it now runt!" Skuntank said, growling. "Koffing, you know the drill! Noxious Gas Combo!"
At that moment, a horrid-smelling gas cloud was launched at the three Pokémon, knockng them unconscious...
"U-ugh..." Naomi choked, trying to stand up. "Th-that was rank..."
"No kiddin'," Shin'ichi said, helping Rosa up. "Let's just get the apples."
"What apples?!" Rosa exclaimed, pointing at the tree. "There's no apples on it!"
Naomi gasped. Indeed, the tree itself was stripped bare of Perfect Apples and there were only stems of the Apples left on the tree.
"Oh no..." Naomi started worrying. "Chatot is gonna be so mad..."
"Look," Rosa said. "I know where more trees are for them, if we can move quickly enough, we can-"
"We don't have time!" Shin'ichi said. "We need to report back to the guild within a half-hour!"
"Then let me do it!" Rosa said. "I'll get the Apples back, just give me time!"
Shin'ichi was hesitant at first, but then nodded. "We'll meet you at the Guild. I don't know if you'll be late or not, but make sure you get there on time."
Rosa nodded. "You can count on me!" She said perkily before heading off.
"Well," Naomi said sadly. "Let's go break the news to Chatot..."
"I don't believe this!" Chatot ranted, pacing back and forth in front of Shin'ichi and Naomi. "Here I thought I could count on you two, and here you return empty-handed!"
"Chatot, please," Naomi started. "We-"
"No excuses!" Chatot interjected. "Geh! What am I going to tell the Guildmaster if he has no more Perfect Apples after tonight?!"
"Look, Chatot, we-"
"I said no interjections!" Chatot huffed, nearly having his monocle fall off. "As punishment, you two are going without dinner tonight!"
"Wh-what?!" Naomi cried. "B-but..."
"No buts!" Chatot said. "Furthermore, you two are coming with me when I explain this to the Guildmaster! Understood?"
"Y-yes sir..." Naomi stuttered.
"Good. Now go to your rooms, and think about your lack of performance today!" Chatot scoffed, before storming off.
"Oooooh, we really screwed the pooch on this one, Shin'ichi..." Naomi said, pouting on her bed. "I think not going on the expedition is the least of our worries.."
"Those ungrateful little..." Shin'ichi growled under his breath. "The next time I see those thugs off-premesis, I'm decking them over the head, no questions asked."
"Yeah, and when they run back and whine to Chatot, who do you think gets the blame?" Naomi said blankly. "And where is Rosa? I thought she would be back by now."
"Maybe she's getting more." Shin'ichi said.
"Well if she is, where is she?" Naomi asked. "Here we are, about to go on trial by the Guildmaster, with Chatot giving us no room to speak our minds!"
"Lokk, She'll be here," Shin'ichi said. "Have a little faith."
"Ahem!" A sharp voice came from the doorway. "Let's go you two."
"Yeah, what about that faith, huh?"
"Listen to me Chatot," Wiggglytuff had said from his seat. "I can understand that these two may have failed their mission to refill the Perfect Apple stock, but do you not think that going a night without dinner is a bit too harsh?"
"They had failed to refill the stock of Perfect Apples!" Chatot said, gesturing to the two. "This was a crucial mission to them and they failed it! What is there not to punish for?" He said, going down his 'list' of the two. "Failing a crucial mission, making excuses about it, trying to deny the responsibility of failing the mission themselves."
"Hey, we never did that!" Shini'ichi argued.
"Keep your mouth shut when your superior is talking!" Chatot barked at Shin'ichi.
"Chatot, leave the room." Guildmaster Wigglytuff said.
"But Guildmaster, they-"
"Chatot, that is an order, not a request." Wigglytuff said.
"But these two had failed to bring back your most coveted food item! What is there not to-"
"Chatot, listen to me," Wigglytuff said. "We are all one big family here at the guild. We treat each other fairly based on performance. Just because these two were not successful, does not mean you go all ham on them for failing."
"They did not bring back the Perfect Apples!" Chatot said. "What more evid-"
"Hold everything!" A voice said from the doorway. All of the Pokémon turned in the direction of the sound to find a Roselia in the doorway, with two large sacks obscuring the entrance.
"Rosa!" Naomi cried.
"Eh?" Chatot said, looking confused. "Who in Arceus' name is this?"
"Who am I?" The Roselia asked. "I am Rosa, the third member of Team Valor! And these, I believe," she said, grabbing the tied string of each bag's neck, before pulling them, spilling out dozens of Perfect Apples into the room. "are what you requested, Chatot."
"B-but... I... You... What?!" Was all that came out of Chatot's confused stature. Wigglytuff, on the other hand, seemed to be very pleased.
"Ah, good work then, Team Valor!" He said. "I must say, your team is really starting to surprise me."
"Yeah, no kidding..." Shin'ichi breathed.
"Well then," Wigglytuff said, looking around the room. "If there's nothing left for discussion, you three are dismissed!"
"Thank you, Guildmaster." Naomi said, before grabbing Shin'ichi and Rosa and rushing out of the room.
"Alright then, Chatot, make sure you get these into the storage tonight." Wigglytuff said, yawning. "I'll check up on the Guild, then I will hit the hay." Wigglytuff then left the room, grabbing a Perfect Apple on the way, leaving a very confused Chatot.