Published: August 27, 2014
Vander was being followed. He was sure of it.
Ever since the embarrassing loss of the previous evening's fight, the young Hitmonchan had felt a subtle, but noticeable buzzing reverberating his crested skull, and an uneasy malaise trickling down his spine. Psychic energy, something that most mons with the drive to fight are sensitive to. Some brainiac lowlife had made a target of Vander and was observing him, at least that's what he assumed. That obnoxious sensation had grown stronger by the minute, the intensity making him want to lash out.
Not wanting to be chased down by some psychic jerk, Vander decided that action was needed. Picking up his pace, he tread down a more deserted area of the Geoda slums. Fewer witnesses.
"Come out and face me, asshole!" Vander challenged, swiftly turning around. After a beat, a tall, lean humanoid with green and white coloring suddenly materialized in front of him. The psychic power penetrating Vander's senses melted into a barely noticable, dull ache with the being's appearance act, indicating that the teleporting coward no longer had to scry his thoughts from a distance.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Vander!" the psychic being, a Gallade, said in a pleasing voice. "I apologize for making you uncomfortable, but ever since I saw your performance last night, I wanted a chance to meet you personally!"
Vander scowled. "What, the fact that I lost wasn't enough for you? Come here to patronize me?"
"You are very mistaken, good sir. On the contrary, I find you are quite strong indeed. Who do you train with?"
"Hm. That explains the lack of refined skill, then."
Vander boldly stepped forward, raising his ungloved fists. "Insult me again and I'll redefine your skull!"
The Gallade smiled in amusement. "My, you certainly are confident, standing up to someone who could send you crashing into the alley wall with a mere thought. I assure you, dear Vander, we only wish to help you out in any way we can."
Vander glanced around, his keen eyesight capable of pinpointing any beings trying to conceal themselves in the grey shadows of the overcast Geodan afternoon.
Seeing nothing unusual, he asked, "Who is this 'we'?"
Still keeping a friendly smile, the Gallade removed a medium-sized pouch from his belt and held it in his palm, shaking it gently, its contents clattering inside. As if to quell any of Vander's doubts, the Gallade loosened the bag's opening and scooped out a handful of star coins. Even in this limited light, the translucent crimson discs shimmered in his hold.
"What are you trying to pull?" Vander asked, not taking his grey-blue eyes off of those coins.
"I am making a proposition. You see, we are..."
"Wait, no, stop! You're trying to bribe me? What do you take me for, you shady-ass slimeball?"
"I knew you would say something like that!" The way that the Gallade's smile never faltered unnerved Vander, not to mention his cheery tone of voice. "We are interested in something else of yours, however."
Vander lowered his head while raising his fists, taking on an aggressive stance. "See these rags? I've got nothing. And I have no interest in associating with you. So scram or I'll bash in that fancy face of yours!"
"What's in the bag?"
The Hitmonchan flinched. He then straightened his posture and reflexively cupped one hand around the satchel at his waist. For the first time since his encounter with the Gallade, Vander had fully averted his gaze.
"I know you have an egg on your person," the Gallade said. "And it is of your kind. Tell me, what are your plans on raising him, hmm?"
"I don't know," Vander grumbled, looking at the stony wall of the alley.
"You do want it, yes?"
"I guess... I don't know." Vander stepped back a bit, his heel dragging in the sandy ground as he did so. The egg definitely struck a sore spot with the purple-clad fighter. It took all of the Gallade's willpower to suppress a triumphant grin. He knew just what to do.
"You've fallen on some hard times, my friend," the psychic fighter said sympathetically. "You are in a rut, struggling, without a home of any kind. Last night's defeat put a damper in your plans, didn't it? And now you'll soon have another mouth to feed."
Vander remained silent, jaw clenched and breathing heavily. His chest burned in violated anger, though he took in what was being said. The Gallade, passively observing Vander's emotions with his psychic powers, easily detected an inkling of vulnerability.
"We can kill two Delibird with one Stone Edge," the Gallade continued.
"Er, what?" Vander spoke up.
The Gallade grinned. "What I mean is, if you'd prefer not to join us yourself, I could take that egg off of your hands for the star coins instead."
"Look, buddy. This sounds skeevy as hell, but I have a feeling you won't leave me alone unless I agree to... whatever the hell you're trying to pull."
The Gallade pulled another pouch of star coins from his belt. Vander's grip on his own bundle tightened.
"This should be enough to cover a few warm meals, a nice place to sleep, getting yourself some brand new gloves."
Vander glanced at the worn wraps bound tightly around his hands and wrists. "So, uh, let’s say I do give you the egg… what are you guys going to do with this kid once he hatches?"
"He'll receive top-notch, professional training in an attentive environment. It is a fantastic opportunity that many fighters would be envious of. It's how I was brought up, you see, and, gosh, I have so many kind things to say that I could fill up a book! Or a library full of books! But I digress! I assure you, Mr. Vander, exchanging your egg for these star coins is a win-win for you. And you like winning, don't you?"
The Gallade held out both sacks of star coins, gently shaking them. Vander stared at the money bags longingly. He could strike a quick jab at that pretty boy's weak-looking jaw and swipe the cash... no, that guy could read minds, Vander would be bloody and bruised in the blink of an eye if he tried such a thing. He could just reject the Gallade’s offer altogether and continue on his way. In downtown Geoda, restaurants were preparing for the evening rush, the aroma of cooking food making Vander's stomach growl. That tattered excuse for a blue poncho he wore could hardly keep him warm in the winter desert night. If he kept the egg, it would mean twice the struggle.
Vander gingerly slipped his hand into the bag, his cloth-wrapped fingers curling around the egg. It felt warm, laden with life.
It's a win-win.
He took a moment to contemplate the egg in his hand, making out the pair of thin, white stripes decorating the shell’s middle. The Gallade eagerly pushed the two coin sacks into Vander's free hand, as if fully trusting the Hitmonchan. The Psychic type patiently waited until the egg was given to him, though Vander hesitated momentarily as it exchanged hands.
He liked winning, didn't he?
"You've made a smart choice, friend!" the Gallade trilled. "I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, I predict you'll go far! Farewell!"
And with that, the Gallade, holding the egg firmly, turned around and walked off, swiftly rounding a corner. Vander remained in place. For whatever reason, he then felt compelled to dart after the Gallade, yet after he stepped from the alley he was met only with a deserted street. He was barely surprised, remembering that the Psychic type could teleport.
Vander decided he would make his way downtown. He could hardly believe that in just a few brief minutes, he went from a penniless, unwilling father to one of the richest people currently traversing the dusty Geodan streets. He picked up his pace, fully aware of how much noise the coin-filled bags on his belt were making. He didn't care if it made him a target, he could beat the snot out of anyone who tried to steal from him. Head held high, Vander made his way to his destination, the cocksure attitude concealing the sinking feeling that he had just done something terribly wrong.