Synopsis: When May and her father wind up broke and stranded on foreign territory, an untimely wardrobe malfunction questions the boundaries they’re willing to push to get back home.
DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fan fiction borrowing characters from the Pokémon universe, which is trademarked by The Pokémon Company. I do not claim ownership over any of the characters or settings and make no money from publishing this story.
WARNING: This work of fiction is Rated MA and only suitable for mature audiences. It may contain explicit language, adult themes and graphic descriptions of a violent and/or sexual nature.
Ho’ing For Hoenn
Chapter 2 – From Mush To Lush
May didn’t know how far she’d fled before the burst of triumph and adrenaline cooled her bones, but it was far enough that the narrow trees looked completely different to their bushier counterparts where she’d left the boy. She slumped down against a tree, threw her face in her palms and laugh-cried for minutes on end.
It. Freaking. Worked. Wow. “It freaking worked!” she screamed to the heavens. “I can’t believe it. I can’t…” She laughed some more. “Wow.”
How shitty had her recent existence been if today’s nip slip turned out to be the best thing that happened to her in the last six months? It felt way longer than six months. It felt like forever since she and her dad boarded that ill-fated plane.
. . .
May had been over the moon when she won an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the Hano Grand Resort on the sunny side of Akala Island. Her unexpected victory came at an unexpected time, and so too did the proposed voyage, scheduled to have the winners attend the Heahea Grand Festival taking place that week. May had never visited Alola and she’d always wanted to be part of the Heahea Grand Festival, if even only as a front-row spectator. The only trouble was none of her friends had been available to join her on such short notice, Max was out hunting Gym Badges and Brendan had travelled all the way to Kalos to enter the Lumiose Conference.
Of all people, she least expected Norman, her workaholic dad, to step up and offer to accompany her. Turned out he was three days into a two-week vacation from Gym duties. With her constant travelling and his constant work, they’d barely spent quality time together in years, practically since she’d set off on her first pokémon adventure at ten. They both felt this opportunity offered a long overdue father-daughter bonding experience and her mother agreed. But none of them could’ve anticipated what would happen halfway into the flight.
To this day, May didn’t know whether the competition she’d won was a setup from the get-go, or if the robbers just happened to pick their plane. Two dodgy men, who easily could’ve passed for Team Rocket Grunts, marched down the cabin demanding passengers hand over all communication devices and valuables. They’d taken advantage of flight policies confiscating all travellers’ Poké Balls until touchdown; it didn’t matter if you were a feeble old lady or a commendable Gym Leader like the man sitting next to May, they were equally defenceless against the men who’d somehow smuggled in hidden serrated blades and Houndoom in Beast Balls. Like everyone else, she and Norman surrendered their possessions on command. Her father clasped her trembling hand and urged her to stay calm.
May tried not to think the worst but all that was going through her mind was how she and all the other frightened faces onboard could wind up getting trafficked somewhere their loved ones would never find them. The robbers didn’t help by keeping their intentions to themselves. If they’d had any plans of sharing, they never got the chance to before some brave soul pounced from their aisle seat and tackled one of the men with his back turned.
More courageous passengers, including her dad, leapt into action, battling to overwhelm the robbers and their tyrannical pokémon. Everyone else was either screaming, weeping, frozen in trauma or cradling their children. May noticed one man punching the locked overhead compartment, seemingly trying to retrieve his belongings. She didn’t see the logic behind it though, unless he intended to leap out of an airborne plane. Granted, no one was in their right mind amid the chaos.
Scrapping hand-to-hand with the armed men was one terrifying prospect, but fending off two bloodthirsty Houndoom on top of it was quite another. The untethered pokémon attacked anyone who so much as looked at their masters the wrong way, dragging off their detractors by the ankles, bounding across the cabin to savage resisting passengers. If not for his quick reflexes, Norman might’ve had his face eaten off, too, raising his forearm seconds before one of the hounds sank their teeth into it.
“Daddy!” May jumped out of her seat, horrified as the beast took her father to the ground. Norman roared in pain. She threw her hands over her mouth. Another passenger whacked the Houndoom on the back of the head with a wooden cane, hard enough to make it spit out Norman’s arm. He made the most of the distraction by kicking his legs out and launching the dark hound backwards over his head and through the air.
A family screamed when the large dog unceremoniously crash-landed in their laps. By the time Houndoom recovered its bearings and rolled onto the aisle, Norman was back on his feet with his fists raised in a standoff, ready to go again despite the blood dripping from his ripped sleeve.
May’s eyes watered and trembled. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t bear to watch. She couldn’t bear to look away.
The dark-skinned bald man who’d been thrashing at the overhead compartment suddenly raised a Poké Ball he’d fished from his hand luggage. Evidently, the robbers hadn’t been the only passengers to smuggle pokémon on board. And everyone was grateful. He cast the ball forth, summoned a Hitmonlee and ordered a Jump Kick attack all in one breath. Norman dived out of the way and back to May’s side, moments before the Fighting-type went flying past him. Its hot foot connected with the Houndoom’s maw and sent it barrelling several rows towards the back of the plane.
“Nice hit!” Norman applauded.
The heroic Trainer acknowledged him with a nod. But a rumbling growl from behind him cut their would-be celebration short. He whipped around and called back Hitmonlee. His faithful pokémon arrived at his side in a snap. But as soon as it did, another rumbling growl loomed from the other end of the aisle, the first Houndoom having recovered from the surprise attack.
“Damnit, you’re outnumbered!” Norman gritted his teeth. “Have any more pokémon on you?” It was their only hope.
“Yeah!” the man said as if he’d suddenly remembered. He launched a second Poké Ball. “Go, Skarmory!”
Norman’s face drooped from hopeful glee to dreadful woe. “Skarmory? Wait- don’t!”
The Poké Ball spinning through the air snapped open. A massive, steel bird violated the crammed airspace. Its colossal wingspan knocked two chunks out of the cabin’s ceiling and violent winds gushed in over passengers’ heads. Panicked screams broke out as emergency masks were deployed all at once, all in vain. The plane’s sudden descent rocked everyone to the left, including a rattled Houndoom that reacted in fright, hurling two Shadow Balls in quick succession. Off-balance, its first attack missed Skarmory and blasted a huge chunk out of one side of the plane, though the second projectile caught its target in the wing and spun the bird sideways.
Skarmory squawked and passengers screamed as the giant hole’s suction hauled them across the cabin. May, Norman, one of the robbers and the Skarmory’s Trainer were amongst the victims thrown through the air. The steel bird slammed its outstretched wings on either side of the hole, its trapped body plugging the makeshift exit, bringing the others to a crunching halt against its armoured mass. They all clung on instinctively, though the Skarmory’s Trainer did his best to elbow the robber off his pokémon.
Norman shouted over the rushing air for the robbers to return their rattled Houndoom to their Poké Balls. Who knew what more damage they could cause in their flustered state? His cries fell on deaf ears and the agitated Houndoom fired yet another Shadow Ball. All Norman could do was throw part of his body over May, shielding her from the oncoming blast. Narrowly missing them, the Shadow Ball struck the end of Skarmory’s wing so powerfully it blew off the tips of its steely feathers and a massive chunk of plane to boot, thrusting them all out into open air.
Clingy passengers slid off Skarmory and plummeted to certain death, their cries swallowed by rushing winds as they shrunk towards the ground. Norman clenched one hand around a giant steel talon, and the other tightly around his dangling daughter’s wrist, ensuring the same fate wouldn’t befall her. After plummeting several feet, Skarmory recovered into a steady hover, allowing the three people still clinging on to climb onto its back.
The bird’s Trainer saddled himself at the base of its reinforced neck while Norman mounted the space behind him, then hoisted May up right between them. Ragged, heaving, but still very much alive, the trio watched with helpless sorrow as the nosediving plane caught fire in its speedy descent. A solemn silence came over them. Nothing needed to be said. They all knew how lucky they were to be alive.
. . .
May stared at the pale-blue sky in mournful memory. She’d lost everything on that plane: her trust, her belongings, her life as she knew it. Well, almost everything.
May fished a Poké Ball out of her utility belt and gently caressed its scratched and damaged surface. How and when had Skitty gotten into her fanny pack? May hadn’t had a clue until the wounded Skarmory exhausted the last of its energy to get them to this island. She remembered reading somewhere that some airport scanners allowed certain pokémon of a limited size, type and temperament to be kept along with hand luggage, provided their Trainers ensured their Poké Balls remained lock for the duration of the flight. That would’ve explained how she’d managed to board without issue, but not how the Poké Ball had snuck into her utility belt in the first place. She would’ve remembered if she’d done it herself.
Skitty sure had a knack of popping up whenever May least expected it. Funny how a habit that had usually annoyed her to no end became her saving grace. All her other pokémon had perished wherever that plane landed. She didn’t have definitive proof but how couldn’t they have? Even if everyone’s Poké Balls survived the crash by some miracle, it had been some six months since it happened, most likely six months of no one knowing where to look to find them. They’d either starved to death or drowned at the bottom of some ocean. It hurt to even think about what they could’ve gone through.
She pinched her eyes shut and pressed her forehead against her surviving Poké Ball in consolation. At least she still had Skitty. And she’d never let her go. She also still had her father.
What would he think if he found out what she’d just done to score 100?
“Don’t worry, honey,” she remembered him saying, “we’ll be back on our feet and out of here in no time!”
A foolish promise, considering they didn’t even know where ‘here’ was. All the locals called this place ‘Dytopiah’, a region the castaways had never heard of, a region they quickly discovered was nothing like any region they knew.
The Pokémon League was not an authoritative nor recognised body in Dytopiah. No one believed her dad was who he said he was, and it wouldn’t have mattered if they did. Pokémon Centres were old, dilapidated and overcrowded; it was impossible to get any sort of treatment for Skarmory’s wounds. Police stations greeted them with suspicion, dismissed them like common scroungers, wouldn’t even let them make a phone call home. In fact, no one other than the charlatans in the highest echelons of power were permitted to communicate with anyone outside the region. Border control and oppressive regulations ensured nobody left the island or boarded a plane without governmental approval. Media outlets bombarded the masses with propaganda and prohibited any programming that didn’t suit their agenda. After the fifth police station kicked them to the curb, reality sank in for the stranded trio; they’d landed elbows-deep in a pit of shoddy dung, and it was going to be a lot harder to clamber their way out than they realised.
All they had were each other, the clothes on their backs and the worst hand ever dished out by lady luck.
May climbed back to her feet and dusted off her knees. What a day. She pocketed the Poké Ball and pulled out the bunch of crumpled notes. In the safety of solitude, she took her time to recount her earnings more diligently, then recounted them again three more times as if she still couldn’t believe she was holding that much actual money. She raised each note up to the dwindling sun and saw no glaring signs of forgery. What happened… had really happened.
May unzipped her top and tucked the dubious funds fittingly into her bra. Despite it all, she harboured some guilt about actually spending the cash. It still didn’t feel like the right thing. No matter, it was an option better to have than not. She zipped up her dirty little secret and headed back to the Pokémon Centre.
Her feet navigated through the thin forest on autopilot. She’d lost count of how many weeks she’d followed the same routine. Get up, force down that disgusting porridge-mush, try to psych up Skitty for battle, wander into Trainer-laden territories and pray she’d come across some woeful amateurs she could beat. The gamble of losing pokémon battles meant she often sulked back with less in her pocket than she’d had in the morning.
In the beginning, her dad would borrow Skitty and try to use his experience to their advantage, but that backfired; Skitty, lacking the conditioning of his aggressively-trained pokémon, failed or outright refused to execute his demanding tactics. Frustrated, Norman handed her back and, without any pokémon of his own, decided it would be best for him to seek other opportunities to raise funds in the city. Every fourth day they’d reunite at a designated location, catch up, trade war stories, strategize and share their combined earnings whenever necessary.
May felt a knot in her stomach already. She didn’t know how much she should divulge at their next meetup. Weary with worry, she didn’t see the puddle before dunking her shoe in it. “Argh!” She hopped up and down shaking her foot, disgusted as the mucky water soaked through her sock. “Darn it! Why does this stuff always happen to me?”
She sighed then bent to study her downtrodden reflection in the wavy puddle. Her hair, once rich and fervent russet, appeared straggly and greasy and disgusting. Dirt patches sullied her cheeks and her eyes had lost their sapphire lustre. And this was the kind of girl who’d impressed someone enough to part them from their money? Granted, it probably said more about his standards than anything else, and besides, it hadn’t exactly been her pretty features that impressed him. May facepalmed, ashamed. I can’t believe I actually did that! Never again. This place was turning her into something she wasn’t, something she loathed. She stomped her foot into her murky reflection and marched on.
May frowned when the disgusting porridge-mush splatted on her plate, sending flecks of brown debris splashing across her face. It even looked like doodoo.
“Next!” the grumpy kitchen worker barked.
“Wha?! Hold up!” May protested. “That’s it? It’s our turn to get chicken today. See, look.” She nudged the large blue button pinned to her shirt.
The kitchen worker grumbled. “Sorry. Not enough chicken today. Next!”
“Wait just a minute! I can see it right there!” May pointed out dozens of cuts of crispy chicken only two trays down the serving line.
“Bleh. For VIPs only. Next!”
“VIPs?” What Very-Important-Person would be attracted to this disaster of a Pokémon Centre? May smelt a rat. “Since when?! Please. Just one – I’ll even take the smallest wing you can find. It’s been days since –”
The impatient scrounger beside May nudged her arm with his empty tray. “Hey! Quit holdin’ up the line, prick!”
“Yeah!” The others behind him shouted in angry unity.
“NEXT!” the bitchy kitchen worker screamed again.
May mustered all her patience not to splat her serving into the closest person’s face. “Whatever! I don’t need this.” She stormed out of the queue, dumped her heaped tray into the first dustbin then marched straight out of the Pokémon Centre, muttering annoyance under her breath.
The cool night air was refreshing to take in, for once. And May wasn’t ignorant to the fact it might’ve had something to do with what was stashed inside her bra. She’d never had the courage to express her grievances in such a brash, emphatic way. It felt… good.
Although, surveying all the bodies bundled up in blankets surrounding the Pokémon Centre dampened her spirits a little. The medical facility had reached its quota for the night, which meant all these unfortunate people would have to shiver in the cold. By storming out, May had made one more spot available, a silver lining, perhaps? Although, it meant she’d have to join the makeshift campers or find somewhere else to rest her head.
She sighed a hopeless sigh.
That was the magic number. 42,000 was the ultimate answer to everything. That was all she needed to make all their troubles go away. 42,000 was what the Pokémon Surgeon quoted to have Skarmory’s wing stitched up. Skarmory was their only prayer to getting off this godforsaken island. With little more than 100 Pokédollars to her name after six months of struggle, perhaps they’d been a little overoptimistic presuming they could win it all through pokémon battles with only one active pokémon on their roster. She sighed again. Well, standing around here feeling sorry for herself wasn’t going to make the other 41,900 magically appear in her pocket, nor would it grant her a safe place to stay the night.
May remembered the Kallaghar Inn she’d walked past every day and night, to and from the Pokémon Centre. It was only three blocks away. When you could turn your pockets inside-out and only pebbles fell to the ground, the inn was nothing but a decorative building with big neon lights you could admire whilst passing by. Tonight was different.
May walked briskly through the dark dingy streets, rubbing her hands together and blowing hot breaths to warm them. This whole town gave her the creeps, though this part in particular had garnered a ghastly reputation, especially under such a soulless, starless sky. She thought a shadow crept past the corner of her eye and doubled her walking speed to turn the nearest corner. Someone coughed. May jumped and shrieked. It was only a vagrant sleeping on the sidewalk. She walked faster still. Her brain convinced her there were footsteps rushing at her heels. She practically held her breath until she bustled into the lobby of the Kallaghar Inn.
After one big exhale and one moment to gather her wits, May approached the receptionist’s desk. She was surprised to learn she could book a room at only 60 per night. For some reason, she’d always imagined even their cheapest suites would be much higher. May didn’t think twice before reaching into her bra.
The Kallaghar Inn wasn’t exactly five-star, but even at two, it beat the heck out of that grungy Pokémon Centre deserving of a negative rating. There was barely enough space to fit more than a single bed and a TV stand in her room, the faded wallpaper was peeling in several places and a slightly stale odour hung in the air. And the place was worth every last penny she’d paid for it!
May splashed onto the bed like an overjoyed child and spread her limbs out like a Staryu, staring fondly at the bland ceiling. Gosh, she’d forgotten what it felt like to lie on a mattress; it had been that long. For the first night in forever, she wouldn’t have to sleep with one eye open in case some sneaky bugger in the crowded room tried to raid her possessions, nor would the symphony of a dozen different snores keep her up half the time. And – oh my God, do they have a shower?
May jumped up and raced to the bathroom. They did! Her clothes flew off her body. She spent hours under the hot, steaming water, lathering every last curve, nook and cranny that hadn’t seen soap suds in days, shampooing and conditioning her neglected hair. Even after she’d felt squeaky clean, May enjoyed the hot water pelting her skin for what it was, a desperate reprieve from reality.
The other good thing about the Kallaghar Inn – they had room service! Half an hour later, she was wrapped in a white towel stretching her legs across the bed, Skitty nestled by her side, both scoffing down cheeseburgers and fries, laughing her lungs out at an old sitcom that wasn’t remotely funny. The patties might’ve tasted like cardboard and they would’ve never known. She couldn’t tell if it was because they were exhausted, or because they ate way too much too quickly, but the bloated guests passed out halfway into the third episode.
May woke up with the sun in her face, smiled, turned and slept another two hours.
A full English breakfast was brought to their room. They ate a little bit slower this time. May picked up and sniffed the filthy clothes she’d discarded on arrival. Yuck! Putting them back on would feel like she was undoing all the good of last night’s shower. But she couldn’t exactly depart the inn draped in a guest towel either. May counted how much money she had left and decided just one fresh set of clothes wouldn’t kill her pockets.
She and Skitty checked out of the inn, well-fed, well-rested and sprightly as spring Torchic. They flagged down a taxi and headed to the closest mall, not nearly as big and lavish as Rustboro Square, but hey, she was in no position to be picky. Red had always been May’s colour since she was a little girl; it made speed-shopping a little bit easier. She selected a vest the same crimson shade as her current shirt (before it got so stained and faded), a white pair of ripped denim shorts and dark spats to replace her worn, holey version. If she’d had a few more Pokédollars, she would’ve refurbished her footwear, too, but she saved that money for a Pokéblock vending machine on the way out.
When the taxi returned them to the outskirts of Dytopiah, May stepped out of the backseat feeling like a brand-new woman, and her attitude shone through the upgraded attire. A part of her did worry though; she didn’t look like she fit in amongst the riffraff of Trainers running around in the trees anymore. The slightest thing could offend the locals in these parts.
May let Skitty out of her Poké Ball at the entrance to the grassy Trainers route.
“Nya!” the feline chirped with enthusiasm.
May smiled. Someone clearly had a good time in the last 12 hours! And it only got better for her when May knelt down and fed her some of her favourite Pokéblocks. “That’s it, my love. Eat up. I need you nice and strong for today.” May petted her pink, little head while she fed out of her palm. “We really need to get back to winning ways.”
Skitty abruptly stopped munching as though she just heard something disconcerting. “Nya…?”
May sighed. “I know, I know. Yesterday was fun for me, too. But we don’t have enough to do that all the time.”
“Yeah, I don’t want to go back to that crummy, old Pokémon Centre either.” She shuddered just thinking about it. “Tell you what though, if we win enough battles today and make enough money, there’s no reason we can’t spend another night at the Kallaghar Inn!”
Skitty ran around in circles, excited.
May laughed. “Okay, slow down there. We actually have to win the battles first, you know! I need you in tiptop shape.” Besides serving their taste buds a delicious change of pace, May hoped the dinner and breakfast had sharpened her mind and fuelled Skitty’s fighting spirit. “We can do this!”
“Nya!” Skitty gobbled up the rest of her treats then off they went into the woods.
Dytopiah was similar to other regions in one big way; its Trainer routes and forested areas had no shortage of aspiring champions. May found an opponent within five minutes of crossing a patch of overgrown grass and weeds. The lass looked no older than the brat May had struggled with yesterday, and a lot more whimsy and feeble-minded. She appeared to be as good as an opponent for Skitty to get warmed up and rebuild her confidence. Probably not a lot of prize money on offer though. May and the lass agreed on a 4 wager. The battle was on!
Skitty lost in under two minutes.
May nursed the small bump on her head as the lass skipped away with their 4 bucks whistling and humming. “It’s okay, Skitty,” May reassured her little fighter. “That was just the first one. We’re all a little rusty, that’s all. Come on. We’ll get ‘em on the next one!”
They lost the next one. And the next one. And the one after that. A draw. A narrow win. Then they lost two more.
Sheesh, when had she become such a lousy Trainer? Granted, Skitty’s lack of sustenance and energy constantly put her at a disadvantage. Dytopiah’s Pokémon Battle regulations allowed Trainers to switch pokémon throughout standard battles; so even when May grafted and seized the upper hand, her sly opponents would send out fresh fighters to wipe out her battle-weathered Skitty. It was painfully obvious her small, undernourished companion couldn’t do it all on her own, but with Poké Balls going at 200 a pop, May couldn’t scrounge together enough to build a team. Her strategy almost wholly comprised of Hail Marys and relying on opponents to make naïve mistakes. It didn’t get them far.
For all her effort, the dispirited Coordinator had two Pokédollar bills left in hand and some loose change jingling in her waist pack. Skitty’s chances of kicking off some miraculous winning streak sunk lower and lower after every battle, every morale-crushing rout, and May couldn’t afford to bankroll another defeat.
The state of her bruised and battered pokémon filled her with pity. If she could take some blows herself, she would’ve. Skitty suffered enough for today. They’d have to lick their wounds, eat a hefty heap of humble pie and drag themselves back to that rotten Pokémon Centre.
With her head hung, May raised her Poké Ball. “Skitty, return.”
“Huh?” May looked over her shoulder and saw a young boy she didn’t recognise in long shorts and a yellow shirt.
“Up for a pokémon battle? What d’ya say?”
“Sorry. We’re spent today, even if I wanted to.”
“Actually, you looked me in the eye, so you have to battle me now! Every Pokémon Trainer worth their salt knows that.”
“Wha…?” May didn’t even have the energy for an outburst. “That silly law was outdated aeon’s ago, genius.”
“Pfft.” He crossed his arms. “Not in Dytopiah it ain’t.”
Of course. She forgot she’d travelled back a millennium. “Look, kid, I only have one pokémon on me and –”
“Then it’s going to be a one-on-one pokémon battle!”
She ground her teeth. What’s with all these overzealous little boys? If they’re not obsessed with pokémon battles, they’re obsessed with… May couldn’t believe her mind had gone there again. But… would he? Could she? Should she? I mean, I’ve got nothing to lose at this point by just throwing the idea out there. Lightning couldn’t possibly strike twice; it hadn’t even been 24 hours since she’d dealt with another little kid that reminded her of him. Hm…
“I mean…” May treaded lightly. “We could have a one-on-one pokémon battle or… we could try something else…”
The boy scratched his head as if the concept of pokémon battling was the only thing rattling inside there. “Er, something else like what?”
“Well…” May leaned forward, lowering her bust in his impressionable face while innocently tapping her chin. “Oh, I dunno, guess it depends how much money you got on you right now?”
His eyes fell right into her trap, glued the protruding mounds staring him back. He droned unintelligently. “How… much… do… I… what?”
Just… one last time, May thought. Only five seconds.
Author’s Notes: Thanks for reading! Please rate and drop a review to let me know what you thought of this fic!
Special credit goes to yuki usagi (snowcanvas) and ririmon for the artwork that inspired this fan fic cover! As of the time of this writing, you can find more of the artist’s work here:
Ssorry that this fic was boring for you!
Let us improve this fic!
How could this fic be better?