Vines of Deceit

BY : Manifest Destiny
Category: Pokemon > General
Dragon prints: 9512
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon. Pokémon is copy write by GameFreak, INC. and Nintendo. I make no money from this story, nor do I seek any. All elements from Equilibrium belong to Skyler. All unique characters and plot lines belong to me.

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Vines of Deceit

Chapter 1: The Lie

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Nuvema Town is a settlement that is open to the sea to the south and capped by woodlands to the north. The residential area sat closer to the coast with the population growing denser the further inland you might travel. An uncharacteristically warm winter made for a spring that felt more like late summer. With the sun barely cresting the horizon, the temperature was already nearing the seventies. The smell of cut grass and sea salt wafted throughout the town. The morning light glistened on the water of the beach and reflected onto the few houses close to the water’s edge.

Near the southern edge of town, not far from the shoreline, two young people walked the empty neighborhood streets. The first was a young man in his late teens. His short black hair was pushed to the sides of his face, his bangs falling beside the rims of his glasses. His outfit of black jeans, a thin blue jacket over a simple white t-shirt with a red ‘Y’ design almost seemed too much considering the quickly warming weather.

The second was a girl, who was the same age as the boy. She had most of her blond hair curled around her head, while the rest was beneath her large green beret. Her attire was largely plain, the most outstanding feature being her sunny, orange blouse. She had to walk quickly to keep up with her companion, her white skirt being too long to allow for her stride to match his.

“Didn’t you try calling him, Bianca?” Cheren asked the girl next to him.

“I did, but his XTransceiver was off, and I didn’t want to wake up his parents if they were still sleeping…” she said, shifting the strap of her purse which she carried over her shoulder.

“Oh come on, we’ve been friends for years, I think Tristan’s parents know who we are by now. Besides, they know we’re supposed to meet with Professor Juniper this morning,” Cheren looked at the clock on his XTransceiver, “They should be helping him get ready by now.”

“I know, but…”

“It’s fine. I’m sure someone over there is awake by now.”

“What do you think is keeping Tristan from calling us? Do you think the professor called him too?” asked Bianca.

“We’ll see when we get there.” Cheren said. “She might’ve only called his XTransceiver like we did.” He walked a few more paces—piecing together a new thought—before continuing. “Bianca, is it me or did the professor sound a bit worried when she called you?”

“Yeah, she called me asking if I had heard from Tristan yet. She must’ve tried calling him first.”

“I wonder why…?” Cheren drifted back into thought.

The two walked the rest of the way in silence. After a few more minutes they arrived at their friend’s house. As they strode along the walkway a flock of Pidove flew away, startled at their approach. Cheren looked into the house and saw a middle aged woman—who he recognized as his friend’s mother—moving about the house in a hurry. He moved to knock on the door, but was surprised when it opened before his knuckles could rap on the wood.

“We saw you coming a block away. Come on in you two,” a man with graying hair answered the door with a kind voice. “Tristan’s still in his room, but he’s,” he turned his head and threw his voice behind him, “almost ready, isn’t he?

Yes dad! Cheren, Bianca, come on back,” Tristan called, “I’m almost ready!”

The two thanked Tristan's father, and made their way through the house to their friend’s room. As they walked in, Bianca covered her eyes at the sight of a shirtless Tristan trying to sort through a pile of laundry. “Tristan!”

“Oh hush, Bianca,” the boy said. “It’s nothing you haven’t seen before.”

“Shut up and put some clothes on!” Bianca revealed her blushing face, but averted her eyes elsewhere. “Your window’s open too!”

“So? I’ve got pants on.”

This time…” Cheren added. “Anyway, where have you been? We’ve all tried calling you, you know. Even Professor Juniper’s been calling all over trying to get ahold of you.”

“I know, she called the house this morning.” Tristan found a black t-shirt and slipped it on, messing up his arguably always-messy hair. He tried to comb it back into place with his fingers as best he could. “She said she’s got something to tell all of us once we’re there.”

“Well we’re waiting on you, you know.” The sound of Cheren’s foot tapping the hard wood floor filled the room between retorts. “How’d you oversleep this time?”

“I usually have an alarm on my XTransceiver, buuuut,” he held up the device, “the battery always seems to die in the middle of the night when I forget to charge it. Funny how that happens, huh?”

“Funny,” Cheren said flatly. “Put that on the charger and let’s go already!”

“Can do.” He reached under his bed and grabbed his shoes, quickly pulling them on. As he followed Bianca and Cheren out, he picked up his light, gray jacket and put it on, leaving it unzipped. The group headed to the front door, but Tristan deviated, “Be right back!” He went into the living room where his mom was packing his travel bag. “Mom, I said I could pack when I got back.”

“Oh, don’t worry about this. Just me trying to keep myself busy before you head out later today.” Her son thanked her with a hug. “You heading to Aurea’s lab now?” she asked.

“Yeah, can’t put it off forever. Not that I want to.”

“Well, make sure to listen to everything she tells you. And say ‘Hi’ to her for me.”

“You talked to her twenty minutes ago…”

“She’ll understand. Just go and bring back a Pokémon, alright?”

“That’s the plan.”

—————

The walk to the professor’s lab on the other side of the town didn’t take long; at least it seemed that way to the group. They were on their way to pick up their Starter Pokémon, and they had been looking forward to this day with much anticipation.

“How far do you think we’ll get today?” Bianca asked as they walked.

“Unless we hit any major issues,” Cheren answered her, “I’d like to make it to Accumula Town without too many delays. Route 1 shouldn’t be much trouble, but you never know.”

“We’ll be fine,” Tristan said. “With the three of us, I bet we’ll get there before sundown.”

The three friends continued their banter as they neared their destination. Tristan led the group as he opened the door to the research lab. “We’re here Professor!”

“Well hello you three,” Aurea Juniper said as they walked into her lab. A tall woman with light brown hair, Professor Juniper walked up to the teenagers and smiled. “I see you managed to meet up with Tristan.”

“Sorry we’re late,” Cheren said, “but we all agreed we wanted to come here together.”

“Oh that’s not a problem. It’s good to see friends sticking together.”

“Oh yeah, Professor,” Tristan said, “my mom says ‘Hi’.”

“She always does,” she gave a small chuckle. Professor Juniper cleared her throat and walked over to Tristan, “Dear, would you mind coming with me? I have some… things I want to discuss with you.”

“‘Things’?” he asked. “Is it that personal?”

“Professor,” Cheren said, “You sounded worried over the phone earlier this morning. Is something the matter?”

“Astute as ever, Cheren. But… I’m afraid there’s been…” She had a sad look on her face, “A major setback in our plans.”

“S-Setback? Like what?” Bianca asked.

“Professor, if there’s some bad news, I think we should all hear it.” Tristan said.

Aurea sighed, “Alright. Well, I may as well come out with it then.” She looked to Tristan, “I’m sorry dear, but I’m afraid I don’t have a Pokémon for you.”

Apart from the sound of Bianca’s short gasp, the Juniper laboratory went completely silent for a few moments. Tristan Blake stood dumbstruck, confusion and a bit of anger rushing through his head.

“Wh-What? But we agreed on this months ago! What happened? Why can’t we have our Pokémon now? We've planned—”

“No, Tristan,” she said, putting a hand on his shaking shoulder, “Bianca’s Tepig and Cheren’s Oshawott are ready for them to take today, but I’m afraid I don’t have a Snivy for you right now.”

“What!? Why do—What happened to my Snivy?” He tried not to yell; he wasn’t angry at the professor, but he was losing his composure.

“No need to raise your voice Tristan,” came a voice from his right. It was Aurea’s father, Cedric. He had just come into the laboratory, and was holding a few boxes. “I think I can answer all of your questions, since I handle the shipment for the Starter Pokémon here.”

“So?! What happened? Why is my Pokémon not ready?”

“Well, if you’ll mind my bluntness, there seems to be a shortage of fertile female Grass type breeder Pokémon this year. The result being that a lot of Grass type Pokémon aren’t available to be distributed to regional offices like ours. We’re lower on the breeder’s priorities than their usual rich customers. And before you get upset, we’re not the only region affected either; one region even had to change their Starter type choices this season because of this.”

“But I don’t want some other type of Pokémon, I’ve always wanted my first Pokémon to be a Snivy!”

“We know, Tristan,” Aurea said. “We’ve managed to get ahold of one of my father’s good friends, and we’re going to get you one, but I’m afraid we’re pretty far back on the list. It’ll be a while before—”

“How long?” Tristan asked, hoping for a small estimate.

“A month,” Cedric said. “Connections can only go so far in this world. It’s the best he could give me, and to be honest, we’d be waiting a lot longer without him.”

“A month…” Tristan repeated. He looked over at his friends. Bianca was almost in tears, and Cheren had a puzzled look on his face. “You said their Pokémon are ready though?”

“That’s right,” Aurea said. “Bianca, here’s your Tepig,” she said, handing her a Poké Ball. “And Cheren, your Oshawott.”

The two didn’t do anything but hold their Poké Balls. They didn’t know what to do, but they both silently agreed that enjoying their Pokémon while Tristan was without his was unfair.

“Wh-What,” Bianca started, wiping some tears away, “What are we going to do, guys? W-We always said we’d go together, as a group… But without Tristan, we can’t just—”

“Yes you can Bianca,” Tristan spoke up, surprising everyone. “You and Cheren should go on without me. I’ll stay back, and catch up when I can.”

“Don’t be stupid, Tristan,” Cheren said. “In a month, we’ll be too far gone. We’re supposed to be friends; how can we enjoy ourselves knowing you’re just going to sit at home, doing nothing?”

“And how can I expect you two to wait around for me, huh?!”

Bianca winced at the yelling, clenching her fists as she cried out, “Stop it you two!”

Tristan hadn’t noticed that his fists were shaking and that his stomach was in a knot. He tried to relax, but couldn’t seem to bring himself to. “I’m sorry… but I mean it. You two should go on without me. I don’t want to be something holding you back.”

“But…” Bianca started to protest again.

“He has a point, you know,” Cheren said. “I don’t want to split up either Bianca, but Tristan wants us to go because he doesn’t want to be a burden to us. And the more I think about it, the more reasonable a month sounds, really. I doubt we’ll make it to Nacrene City by then, and if we do, we can wait up for him.”

“Yeah,” Tristan cut in, “I’d be fine with you two taking your time, but don’t wait for me here.” He smiled, but it was a fake smile, “You two should take this month and use it to get as far as you can. Unless you want me to speed right on by and pass you up!”

Bianca laughed, lightening the tension in the room, “Well… You’re sure then, Tristan?”

“Yes. You two should enjoy your Pokémon. I’ve waited all this time,” he paused, gaining one last look of worry from his blond friend, “one more month won’t be that bad.”

“And it’s not like you’ll be ‘completely’ helpless,” Aurea said. She took one of the boxes from her father and opened it. She handed out three Pokédexes. “I hope these make up for all this trouble. These are the newest models—”

“And,” Cedric Juniper added, “I’ve gone ahead and upgraded them to international mode for you three. They say mass outbreaks and swarms of non-local Pokémon are happening across the world a lot more frequently nowadays, some even becoming permanent residents. Now you won’t get caught without the proper know-how.” He also handed each of the trio five unused, plain Poké Balls.

Tristan looked at his new Pokédex, trying hard to keep his hands from shaking, “Thanks Professors. These are… Wow…”

“And Tristan?” Aurea asked. “Call me if you need anything. My door’s always open, alright?”

Tristan could hear in her voice that she was sincere and that she cared for him, but more than anything he wanted to get out of the place that just brought down everything he had been hoping for in an instant. “I will, Professor.” He turned and thanked Cedric for his help, and the three exited the laboratory.

—————

“So what did your parents have to say, Tristan?” Cheren asked as they walked to the edge of Nuvema Town. He and Bianca had their things and were ready to leave town that evening. Tristan wanted to at least see his friends off.

“They agreed with my pushing you two to go on.”

“I would’ve waited with you, Tristan,” Bianca said. “I really wouldn’t have minded, but you’re right. I’ll need all the time I can get to know my little Chao here.”

Hearing that she’d already given her Pokémon a name stung Tristan, but he let it pass. “Hey, how’d your father take you leaving, Bianca? I thought he was always against you going on a journey.”

“Uh…” she paused.

“Bianca?” Cheren spoke up. “Your father did say you could go, right?”

“H-He finally warmed up to the idea. Yeah, my mom and I eventually got through to him.”

“That’s good,” Tristan said.

The group found themselves at the edge of their hometown. Unova’s Route 1 stood before them; a warm breeze blew through the fields of grass and took a few leaves into the air, swirling them about in calming patterns. It did little to ease Tristan’s currently-masked mood.

“I always wanted us to take our first steps on Route 1 together…” Bianca said dejectedly.

“Don’t worry,” Cheren said. “It’s not when the journey starts, it’s what happens on it that matters. Tristan’s going to catch up to us in no time. You’ll see.”

Tristan cut in, “Bianca, I promise I’ll be fine until I’m able to go out on my own. We’ve known each other for years. You know I’m not one to just sit around and mope.”

She perked up at that, and turned to give Tristan a hug goodbye. Cheren just gave him a knowing nod, and Tristan waved his two friends off as they started toward Accumula town.

—————

Three days after Cheren and Bianca had left Nuvema town, Tristan found himself not being able to keep his promise to his friends. He had done little else in the past few days other than lay on his bed and occasionally try to familiarize with the modes of his Pokédex.

“Tristan!”

He didn’t respond. He really didn’t want to. It seemed like a pointless action to him; his parents knew where he was.

“Tristan! We’re leaving now, you coming?”

Of course not. Why would he go with them? He was in no mood to do much of anything but lay there and stare out his window—his newly-mastered skill.

“Tristan!” his mother was in his room now. He was obligated to answer if he didn’t want to seem disrespectful.

He turned over on his bed, “Yeah, mom?”

“Your father and I are going out for dinner. Do you want to come with us?”

“No thank you.” He laid back on his stomach and folded his arms on the window sill, resting his chin on them.

She came over and sat on the bed beside him and rubbed his back, “Tristan, you’ve barely eaten anything since Saturday; aren’t you hungry?”

“I haven’t done anything since Saturday to make me hungry. You two go ahead, I’ll cook something here if I need anything.”

“Sweetie, you’ve got to cheer up. This was your choice, wasn’t it?”

“Me sitting here alone and not traveling with my friends and my own Pokémon? No!” He sat up on the bed after realizing he had yelled. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell… and I’m not angry at Cheren or Bianca, I did want them to go on, but I still hate this situation.”

“Hey, you never know, it could all work out better than you think.”

“How?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “You’ll just have to wait and see. Sometimes, things happen for a reason. You just have to find out why for yourself.”

Despite himself, Tristan warmed up a bit at his mother’s words. “Thanks mom.”

He hugged her and wished her a good time. When she left the room, he returned to looking out his window. Hours passed after he heard his parents’ car pull out of their driveway. He watched the long grass move about in the wind while light still hung in the sky, his eyes following the wind’s path as it tugged at each blade of grass like a green tide washing from one end of his yard to another.

At least I’ve got mowing lawns to look forward to… Awesome… I hope it rains tomorrow…

When it was too dark to watch the grass, he turned over and looked up at the stars. The more he focused his eyes, the more they seemed to shift and change. Some faded as he focused on them, while others around them became brighter. This continued until he put his forehead in his arms, and tried falling asleep.

Three days

Tap.

I wonder how far they’ve gotten? Striaton? Or would they wait for me there?

Tap.

They haven’t called on the XTransceiver yet… they said they would… I wonder if something happened…

TapTap.

I hope Bianca's getting along alright.

TapTapTap.

Cheren’ll take care of her. I’m sure she’ll be–

Smack.

“What is–?!”

He regretted raising his voice the second he saw what had been tapping his head. Backed against the far corner of his window sill—scared and looking like it might run away—was a Snivy, looking wearily at him with its big red eyes. Impossibly unlikely yet entirely real. Tristan froze in silence for a moment, afraid any movement might ruin this amazing opportunity that had found him.

“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell.” Tristan sat up on his bed and sat back a bit from the window. He shakily extended a cautious hand to the Snivy, “Hi there. My name’s Tristan.”

The Snivy opened its mouth in response, but no sound came out. It stared back into Tristan's eyes for a moment. The Snivy looked out the window, then to Tristan's outstretched hand. To his surprise, the Snivy crawled into his hand and up his arm. The little grass snake smiled at him, evidently finding the human trustworthy.

“You’re a friendly little— Oh, wait.” Keeping his left arm steady, he reached behind him with his right to pick up his Pokédex. The top screen folded out and up, and the camera focused in on the creature on his arm:

[No. 495. Snivy: Grass Snake Pokémon.]

[Type: Grass.]

[Gender: ♀]

“Okay then, you’re a girl.” The Snivy rolled her eyes, giving him a little “Of course I am” kind of expression, which brought Tristan to laugh in earnest for the first time in days. “What’re you doing here, though?” Tristan’s mind raced with possibilities on the origins of the little snake.

The Snivy jumped off his arm and pointed to the wooded area that bordered the right side of his backyard. She tried her best to mime with her hands how she came to show herself, and Tristan tried his best to interpret. When she pointed to herself, she only raised one finger. She traced a rough path from the trees to his yard, and pointed at the ground, holding up many fingers.

She’s trying sign language. This little one’s pretty smart. But now I’ve got to learn sign language. Let’s see…

“So, you’re alone then?” Tristan asked. The Snivy nodded. “But why’d you come to me?” She tapped her chest twice with one hand, and raised a finger again. She patted Tristan's hand twice and did the same. Tristan got the meaning, “Because I was alone? You’ve been watching me then?” She nodded. “That’s…” he smiled, “That’s very kind of you.”

Snivy smiled back at him, trying to respond vocally, but stopping herself.

“Wait, Snivy, you can’t talk? At all?”

She shook her head, letting out another mute call. She seemed to look a bit embarrassed.

“Aww, that’s alright,” he patted her head lightly, like she did him. “I don’t mind. I couldn’t understand you if you could anyway.” He smiled, and saw her cheer up. Now I’m cheering someone up. Who’d have thought? “Snivy, does this mean that—I mean, I don’t want to rush things—but do you want to stay with me and be my Pokémon?”

Snivy nodded her head and looked up at him with hopeful eyes. Tristan saw her wag her tail a bit, and thought it strange, but forgot that little oddity quickly. He could hardly believe it; a wild Snivy quite literally fell into his lap, one that felt the same loneliness as he did—as far as he could understand.

“Well, what else is there to say but, ‘Welcome aboard, Snivy’!” Tristan brought up his other hand and gently stroked Snivy’s back. She smiled happily and returned the gesture by crawling up to his shoulder and rubbing his face.

“How about a name, Snivy?” he asked. He made sure to keep his balance with her on his shoulder as he stood up, “Would you like one?”

She nodded.

“Alright,” he thought for a moment. “How about Jarani?”

She almost grimaced at the name.

“Okay… strike that one…” he started walking to his kitchen, suddenly feeling the hunger pangs of nearly three days without food. “Nomoki?”

She shook her head again, this time sticking her little tongue out at him. She hopped off his arm and sat on the counter while Tristan began reheating some leftovers in the microwave. All the while it cooked, she waited. It seemed to her like he was thinking. The timer beeped, and he took his meal out of the microwave. He offered a bit of it to her, which she almost jumped at, but he pulled it back. She looked up at him, confused.

“How about… Draya?”

The sound of the name seemed to well up a sense of… pride inside her. She eagerly nodded, liking the sound of the name.

“Draya it is then,” he gave her bits of his meal as he ate. “Tomorrow,” he said. “Tomorrow is when we leave here Draya. Is that alright?”

She smiled back at him, and nodded silently to her trainer.

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To be continued…

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