Interlude 1 Part 3: Team Crusaders
Months later, in the same city, a Mudkip child was bored to see building after building with almost the same colors. ‘Ugh, this is sooooooooooooo solid; where is the lake in this place? He thought. His family was visiting Epdor to see some friends in there. He expected to have some fun. Instead, they told him to not use any of his moves or make any disaster while they were there. Since then he was in a bad mood.
And the friends of his parents were even worse. ‘Boring, boring, boring… ah: ULTRA BORING!’ he thought on those conversations. ‘Where is the secret exit? I’m gonna die here if keep listening’. He and his parents would be in the city for a week. A week of pain given that he didn’t go out the first two days.
But in the third one, after pleading intensely that he could get out to learn about the city better, his mother granted his wish. When he was out of the apartment, he started to travel through the streets, running. He wasn’t very interested of the edifications or monuments, passing them fast. In fact, he was trying to find a green spot in the middle of those stones. After asking for directions that led him anywhere except to a park, he ended in a long bridge. ‘Great, the sense of direction of these people is worse than mine’ he thought.
He peeked from the border to see the river. ‘I don’t think I want to dive in it’. He continued in a slow pace to get to the other side. ‘Man, I heard that this city is prosperous, but boring and depressive as hell were not included in the description’. Then something pulled him from his thoughts. He saw a Furret running as fast as possible with something in its paws and a Rockruff chasing him. In those few seconds, he noticed that it didn’t have the spikes on the neck.
“Give that thing back to me, thief! The Rockruff shouted with a feminine voice as she passed beside him.
They were disappearing from his sight, but he began to accelerate and run to reach them. ‘Now this is the excitement I wanted to happen’ he thought. As the chasing was still on the way, he saw how the Furret stole something from a shiny Goodra and a Goomy. The Goomy shouted something and chased the thief as well. Lastly, an Eevee, who didn’t move and touched its neck where something was with it, watched the Furret go.
The three Pokémon stopped where the Eevee was, with the Goomy and the Rockruff panting. The Mudkip took less to recover and sat down to see the others.
“Damn, this thief is fast” The Rockruff admitted.
“I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming” The Goomy said. “Argh, this is so annoying!”
The Eevee didn’t say anything and turned around.
“Hey, where are you going?” The Mudkip asked.
“None of your business”
“But it’s the business of them, because that thief stole something from the three of you”
“You have a good obvious observation for being a common Mudkip”
“And I think you have an idea to where is he going” The Goomy said.
The Eevee stopped and turned her head a little. “Let me guess, you’re all going to follow me, right?”
“Yep” The Rockruff answered. “You have your belongings stolen as well as us; we all have a reason to going with you”
“Not the Mudkip, he only wants some excitement in his days of visit”
That left surprised the Goomy and the Rockruff. “How do you know?” The Rockruff asked.
“His body language and he’s not from here as well as you two”
“It doesn’t matter, because a bit of help won’t hurt, right?” The Mudkip said.
“As long as you’re some kind of help; if not, don’t get in my way”
With that settled, the four kids began to walk. At midday, the Pokémon movement increased exponentially, making the travel hard, as they had to avoid people and wagons, even more complicated with their sizes since few Pokémon were looking down. The Mudkip, the Rockruff and the Goomy stuck together with the Eevee in front. He was impressed of how she was moving without much problems, as if she knew every corner of the city and its functioning. An hour later, they stopped in a small green area to rest. They sat below a roble and looked around.
“All this time and this is the first green area I’ve ever seen” The Mudkip said.
“That makes two of us” The Rockruff said.
“Three, in fact” The Goomy pointed. “I don’t know how people can live in these conditions”
“Yeah, I can barely stand those tiny rooms, so much limited space”
“Epdor started as a merchant town that grew into the city that is today” The Eevee explained. “All here moves in the business of different types and visitors like you only stay a few days before having the desire to leave”
“You live here?” The Goomy asked.
“Yes, I got used to the ambiance”
“Lucky you; I arrived yesterday with my mom and the first thing I felt is that I’m out of place”
The mere mention of a family relative shut the Eevee up. If she was feeling furious or something else, she didn’t demonstrate it.
“So uh, what are your names?” The Rockruff asked.
“I’m Valerian” The Goomy presented.
“I’m Jeff “The Mudkip presented.
“Karla” The Eevee said in a plain tone.
“Mine is Anna” The Rockruff presented.
“So… what things that thief stole from you?” Jeff asked.
“Well, in my case it was some stuff we bought for me” Valerian said.
“My pendant” Karla said.
“My frigging favorite plushie!” Anna shouted.
“Uh… but you can buy another one; it’s not that important”
“I don’t care! When I find that guy, I’m gonna kick his sorry ass!
“I don’t think Rockuffs can kick”
She smacked his face. “I was making a point”
“If you’re done wasting time, we should get moving” Karla said.
“Right, we don’t have all day” Valerian agreed.
Instead of finding a clue, they’ve been wandering in the low part of the city. Even if it was useless, the trio had to rely on Karla’s perception to find the thief. She uninterestedly looked her surroundings, passing through all the people that were walking in the streets. Then suddenly she pushed the group into an alley.
“Hey, what was for?” Jeff asked.
“Shh” Karla silenced him and pointed to a textile shop.
They saw the same Furret without their belongings carrying a carpet. Karla made a gesture to follow the thief in the distance. Valerian asked Anna to track his scent, but in a city where there were many Pokémon walking in the streets, it was a difficult task. Once she was able to identify it, they could increase the distance a little more to avoid a direct contact. After a while, they arrived to an abandoned warehouse near the storage district.
“He must be inside” Anna said.
“Then it’s time to recover my pendant” Karla said and began to walk, only to be stopped by Valerian. “Why are you grabbing me?” She asked furious.
“Maybe because you’re going there without a plan?” He pointed.
“I don’t need a plan, only my pendant”
“Yeah, we should charge against the thief while he’s unaware of our presence” Jeff suggested.
“And letting him have a chance to escape? No, thank you” Valerian looked the warehouse, paying attention any little detail.
“And what do you want us to do?” Anna asked.
Valerian didn’t answer immediately. After finding some points of interest he spoke. “Make him play our game and trap him”
“How?” Karla asked.
“First we need to call the guards; tell them that there is some kind of emergency here”
“I don’t think we have time for that; maybe when we’re done here, but now we have to act”
“Well, how about getting there first?” He pointed a small hole near the left corner.
“You want to see how to catch him” Jeff realized.
“Precisely; if we want to recover our stuff, we need to know what we’re up against”
“Since when do you know basic tactics?” Karla asked unamused.
“I don’t know; I don’t think it is your business, isn’t it?” Valerian moved forward after returning het attitude with the same coin.
“Woooooooooooooo, a direct hit!” Jeff said. “How does it feel?”
Karla looked to him furious, but he let it go. It was not the first time he made someone get mad for his commentaries.
In complete silence, they entered the warehouse. The place was a complete disaster from what they saw. Crates scattered all over, parts of the roof had holes in it and a few broken wagons. Also, the weather and time did a serious number on the building. ‘This is will be a game of hide and seek’ Jeff thought. ‘And since this is already a mess, I won’t have problems to add more destruction… yeah; this’ll be fun, hehehe’.
He was strangely relaxed, even more since Karla was focused in the thief than him. Now that he was free to do whatever he wants, he could unleash his true self, a very destructive self.
“Hey Valerian, where do you think he could be hiding all your stuff?” He asked.
“I think I have an idea; Anna, do you know where your plushie is?”
She sniffed the air. “Yep, there” She pointed to a group of crates covered in a carpet.
“We can reach our belongings and take them away from the thief, even surround him; but we’re going to need a distraction” Karla said.
“If no one is volunteering, I’m up to it” Jeff offered.
“You have something else in mind, or you wouldn’t be the one to face the thief” She suspected.
“You said you hoped I could be some kind of help; now that I am one, ‘don’t get in my way’” He remarked the last words she said.
She was close to punch him in the face. “Just move there and get the job done”
While Valerian, Karla and Anna were sneaking to reach the crates, Jeff walked like it was nothing. Then he started to use Iron tail and smashed anything that was standing in his way. Also, he used Water gun to shoot everywhere, causing damage in parts of the structure. All that mess lured the thief out.
“Stop, stop, STOP! What the hell are you doing, kid!?” The Furret asked.
Jeff stood in two feet and put a paw in his chest. “Me?”
“But why!? This is my place!”
“The aspect of the building doesn’t help you; besides, this is a dump; no one cares for trash, so why you should be worried?”
“Grrr, I’ll show what it’s like to be trash”
Jeff turned around and run, but continuing attacking the warehouse. “Then try to stop me, Snorlax!”
With the distraction in motion, the trio reached the carpet with little difficulty; only the one caused by Jeff. ‘No one told him about friendly fire?’ Karla thought as she dodged some of his water guns on the way. Getting below of it, Anna searched for her plushie in the crates that it covered. The other two followed her as well. Once she located it, she took out the cover, revealing their belongings. For the surprise of the girls, Valerian’s stuff was a bag with two small books, a scarf and a paper.
When they got out, they saw that Jeff was opening a bunch of crates and spreading their contents all over the place, pissing the thief beyond limits to make him go in an attack tactic.
“Great, now this will be harder thanks to him” Karla commented.
“I wouldn’t be so certain” Valerian objected.
“What do you mean?” Anna asked.
“I’m thinking that this is our playfield and we should use it to have some fun”
“Do you have a plan?” Karla asked.
“That depends if you follow it”
She looked the area, trying to interpret his line of thinking. When she had the basic idea, she turned to Valerian and nodded.
Meanwhile, Jeff was starting to get tired of the chase. He was still having one last ace to throw, but the opportunity wasn’t appearing. ‘Come one, we’re not getting to the real fun part’ he thought. In a small distraction, the Furret jumped above him and hit him using Iron tail. The impact threw him to one of the crates, crashing with it. His pursuer was approaching slowly to not get caught in any of his surprises.
“I guess it’s time for you to say goodnight” The Furret said threatening. “I hope you said goodbye to your parents”
“Auch, I don’t remember the last time I flew like that” He rubbed and shook his head. “You were saying something about saying goodnight to my parents? It’s not night time, yet”
“Then you’ll never have the chance to say it” He prepared his claws.
Doing a quick peek, he saw that his group was taking positions around them. “Then you have to excuse me, because I’m going to do that right now”
“I don’t think…” He stopped when a Dragon breath hit his face.
“That’s for stealing from me!” Valerian shouted.
“Argh! You little piece of… Yaaaaaauuuuuuucchhhh!” He screamed when he felt his tail being bitten hard.
Anna was holding strongly the thief’s tail to keep him busy with the help of Valerian, while Karla headed to Jeff to get him out. But by her disgust, he didn’t want to leave.
“Are you idiot? You were lucky that the impact didn’t wound you badly” She complained.
“One thing: thank you; second thing: I need the thief in one place to knock him out”
“If you didn’t notice, we have a plan”
“And I have something for him, but you have to let me try”
“There’s not time for that”
“This is the right time; seriously, put a little faith in me”
“What do you have to lose? I’m the one who’s throwing the dice, not you; I’m not your brother”
That part left Karla stunned. She wasn’t expecting that kind of words, not even for a careless Mudkip. Jeff noticed that and shook her to make her come back to her senses.
“Reality calling to Karla, are you there?” He said.
She shook her head and pushed him back. “It’s nothing”
“Just tell Valerian that I have something in mind, but you and the rest have to push the thief until I say so”
“But what if it fails? Your plan is basing in just intuition”
“It won’t, okay?”
“It – won’t”
The stubbornness of Jeff was something she wasn’t able to understand, but to finish this engagement, she had to think that he was right, even if her mind told her that it was a mistake. She headed to Valerian and explained what he just said to her. He was concerned about this change of plan, but giving that the one they have had some holes they didn’t sealed, he reluctantly accepted.
In the following seconds, Karla began to use all the stuff scattered through the place and use it to hit the thief while Anna was holding to his tail, doing a few attacks to keep him distracted. Valerian also helped in pushing the bandit with his attack set and following a similar tactic like Karla.
After getting the thief to an open area, Jeff whistled and the trio fell back while he was preparing his move. The Furret was unsure of why they retreated, but the answer came in a big Whirlpool, making him spin for at least a minute until he fell to the floor unconscious. The group approached carefully and checked that he was indeed knocked out.
“That was a good trick you got there” Anna commented.
“Yep” Jeff looked to Karla. “I told you that was going to work”
“*Sigh* yes, but only this time”
“I think we better bring some guards here” Valerian suggested. “I don’t know how much time he’ll be unconscious”
“Enough time for him to awake in a cell if I can guess”
Valerian and Anna went to find some guards while Jeff and Karla mounted guard in the meantime. It was an uncomfortable silence coming from her, so he whistled more; this time, music he had stuck for a while. She looked him annoyed but he didn’t pay attention. Minutes later, the pair arrived with the people they could find.
After letting the guards take care of the rest, the group started to head back. On the way, Anna’s curiosity couldn’t contain itself any longer and made her question.
“Hey Valerian, what’s all that guild stuff you’re carrying?” She asked, causing Jeff and specially Karla to pay attention.
“Well… there are things I want to learn from the guild, because…”
“You want to join them?” Jeff asked.
“*Inhale* *Sigh* yes”
“Really? That’s cool!” Anna commented.
“Yeah, but… I’m still sorting a few problems to make the inscription”
“I need other Pokémon to join me first”
Karla stopped all of the sudden with the others stopping as well. “How many?”
“Two more; if I’m lucky, three”
“And you want to learn of what the guild consist, right?”
“Yes; I have a part of the combat covered, but there’s a lot of stuff I have to check”
‘This… this is an opportunity I cannot let it pass, but… I don’t know him much; I have to make sure he’s the partner I need’ she thought. “Do you mind if we see again tomorrow?”
“Uh… why do you ask?”
“I want to talk about something”
“Can I tag along?” Jeff asked. “Being with you is better than staying with my parents”
“Don’t forget about me” Anna said. “I want to know, too”
Karla face pawed herself. “*Sigh* no way you can go on your ways, right?”
“Why we should?” Jeff shrugged.
“*Groan* okay, we’ll meet at the main park tomorrow in the afternoon”
After Karla gave them directions, everyone headed to their respective apartments to rest. The next day, they reunited in the accorded place. Jeff decided to buy some candies if the conversation was going to be long. For his relief, the park was big enough to consider it a park in his terms. He took him a few minutes to find them near a water pool, sat over a bench.
“Hey guys” Jeff greeted.
“You’re late” Karla pointed.
“We didn’t agree an hour to meet”
He did it and looked to Valerian, who was holding a book opened. “So what are you guys talking?”
“We’re checking a few things about how the guild is organized and the admission process, complementing with what Karla learned” Valerian explained.
“Cool; and you guys are going to send any postulation paper?”
“I… I’m not sure yet; Karla and Anna have no problems to form a team, we have enough fundaments to make it happen, but…”
“We don’t know if we’re ready for this” Anna commented. “The admission is not something easy; many potential teams can be kicked out for being weak in a specific area”
“It’s obvious that the guild life is not something to take lightly” Karla said. “There’re a lot of things we have to being conscious, such as leaving our homes to train in the guild city; that we’re not heading to the glory or anything similar like the hotheads want to believe”
“Those are some things; the other is have the necessary strength, both physically and mentally to stay there; and know that we’re going to serve”
“We can have anything against us” Valerian said.
There was a moment of silence until Jeff made his opinion. “I think you’re more than ready”
“What makes you think that?” Karla asked.
“We took down a thief, without help and being complete strangers”
“That’s because he stole from us”
“A common motive that made us work together to beat the bad guy; and all of you guys are pretty strong; can you tell me how? Because I think you, you and you have some experience accumulated”
“Well… I helped in saving a few adults of my town from a renegade group with the help of two teams from the guild” Valerian said.
“I was involved in something some time ago that helped me gain experience” Karla said.
“I… I have a sister that actually is part of the guild and… I want to follow her footsteps” Anna said.
“Then you’re extraordinary ready to make those tests” Jeff took the paper with the names of the team with one last slot available.
“What are you doing?” Karla asked.
“What does it look like? I’m going to be part of this”
“And which is your motive?” Valerian asked.
“Simple, because I want it”
“You only want some action” Karla commented.
“It’s wrong if I want some? Besides, extra firepower is always appreciated; that is what my uncle told me”
“Your uncle also told you to be reckless?”
“If they believe you’re reckless, then they won’t see your surprises coming”
“And what about your parents?” Anna asked.
“They want to put me in some kind of internship to acquire some discipline and responsibility, but they’re not sure where; with this I can accomplish their desires and I can beat some bad guys along the way; everyone win”
“And you think you can convince them?” Valerian asked.
“My mother could actually like the idea, but I have to press my dad more to have their approval”
“I hope you can do it” Anna said and gave him the pencil.
He wrote his name and his basic information, but he noticed that the team name was missing. “Hey guys, do you have any name for the team?”
“No” She shocked her head. “We tried different names, but none of them fit us”
“Hmm” He looked around to get some inspiration. ‘One name we can use to show our spirit, to show our purpose, to…’ He stopped thinking and remembered a story from his uncle. The story was about a group of Pokémon that composed of different types of Pokémon and behaviors in shiny armors that despite their differences, they liberated a huge castle and helped a lot of people, centuries ago. These Pokémon were part of a group called themselves… “Crusaders”
“What?” Valerian asked.
He shocked his head. “I was remembering a story that… we can call ourselves Team Crusaders”
“Team Crusaders?” Karla asked. “Why exactly?”
He explained what story belonged to that name.
“Hmm… well, we’re not soldiers, but I kinda like the name” Addy admitted.
“Also that they earned that name, not us; but I think I understand why you chose it and it’s not bad at all” Valerain added.
“Perhaps a more humble name would be suffice, but considering our stories and the path we’re going to take, I partially agree” Karla nodded.
“Then it’s settled; for now on, we’ll embark in our own crusades and the ones the guild send us” Jeff wrote the name at the top of the paper.
“Now we have to deliver the paper and get ready” Valerian said.
“I know where you have to deliver it” Karla said and told them the directions.
“While you do that, I’m going to convince my parents to let me go to the guild” Jeff said.
“Are you sure they’ll let you?” Anna asked.
“The guild works as some kind of internship, which should help”
“Maybe we should go together to help you in some way” Valerian suggested. “Karla, can we count with you?”
“Why do you ask me?”
“Because you said you can read body language, we’re going to need that to use the right words with them”
“Yeah! You’re smarter than any of us” Anna admitted.
“Okay, I’ll help you” Karla stood up and hopped down. “Just follow my instructions and you should be alright”