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Chapter Six: Let's Get This Starter'd

Terra's POV

I freeze. Just when I thought we couldn't possibly get any deeper down this rabbit hole, Shu has to go and say the one thing I'm terrified the most of.

"Giratina?" I ask breathlessly. "GIRATINA?"

Okay, so I should probably give some clarification here. I played Pokemon Platinum as a kid, got all the way up to Spear Pillar where Cyrus is trying to use Dialga and Palkia to remake the world. And I stopped playing right there, because Giratina gave me the CREEPS. It came out as a black shadow with piercing eyes and two rows of red spikes, and I just started shaking so badly that I dropped the DS. I shut the game down and never booted it back up again.

And Shu says his father is FRIENDS with it?

"She's not a bad Pokemon!" Shu says quickly. "Sure, she looks scary and is pretty much misunderstood, but she stays in the Distortion World to help people! She helps balance out the two dimensions and remove pollution from our world!"

"Giratina got banished to the Distortion World for being violent!" I shriek. "And you're telling me it was HERE? Here in Pallet Town?"

"She scared away Team Rocket!"

"And I don't blame them!"

"Terra!" Shu says quickly. "Breathe in!"

I breathe in.

"Breathe out!"

I breathe out.

"Are you feeling better?"

"No!"

"Then do it again!"

"Doing it again won't change the fact that it's a big creepy ghost dragon!" I scream.

Shu looks at Gary. Gary looks at Shu. They both look at me. "Are you quite finished with your tantrum?" Gary asks.

"Excuse me for living! I was dragged out of my homeworld, I've been in danger ever since, I've met THREE legendary Pokemon, all of whom wanted to hurt me --"

"Hey!" Hoopa shouts.

"You're a Mythical! You don't count!" I take a breath. "And now I hear that you two are BUDDIES with the most terrifying Pokemon known to man? No thank you! I want to go home, I want to go home, I WANT TO GO HOME!"

"And I want my family back!" Gary snaps. "Just wishing for something isn't going to bring it back! We're all in danger from Team Rocket, and your throwing a hissy fit isn't going to make anything better!"

This is true. It doesn't make me feel better, but it's true.

I take a deep breath. Several, in fact. "So now what do we do? Call the police?"

Shu looks uncomfortable. "Well, we did send Giratina to search for our missing families through the Distortion World, which is the mirror side to our world. Once she comes back and we know where Team Rocket is holding them, then we can call the police."

I shudder. "Giratina's coming back here?"

"You don't have to talk to her if you don't want to. Gary, can you take Terra here into the woods for a while? She'll probably be calmer if she's away from you-know-who."

Gary shakes his head. "No dice, Shu. Team Rocket stole my Pokemon, and even I'm not awesome enough to fight the wild Weedle and Rattata without a Pokemon partner."

"Well then," Shu says, "I could lend you one of mine."

He reaches into his bag and somehow pulls out a box that's wider than the bag itself. Pokemon physics, I wonder? A regular Bag of Holding. Shu opens the box to reveal three Poke Balls, only the bottom half is light blue and the top half is white with a light blue squiggly pattern.

"These are three Pokemon that I was going to lend to your gramps for studying," Shu explains. "They came from the Distortion World. They're like the starter Pokemon that your gramps gives out, but they're different types than are usually found in the wild. Since they come from the 'mirror' world, we call them Mirror Pokemon."

He pushes the buttons on each Poke Ball in turn, and the Pokemon come out. "This one is Mirror Bulbasaur," he says, pointing to a grey toadish reptile Pokemon with an egg on its back. "It's a Sound-type, and in the hollow where regular Bulbasaur have their plant, it carries an egg. Mirror Charmander," he points to a sandy-colored lizardlike Pokemon with spikes all over its head and back, "is a Light-type that emits light through the spikes on its back. It also has a light-emitting organ on its tail. Mirror Squirtle," he points to a very turtle-like Pokemon with a large, pink gem as its shell, "is a Crystal-type with rock-solid defenses."

"Cool," Gary says. "So, do they form a type triangle too?"

"Of course. Sound shatters crystal, crystal bends light, and light breaks the sound barrier."

"Then I'll choose this one," Gary says, reaching down for Mirror Charmander. "He's going to be a big ol' spiky death dragon when he evolves! That's gonna be awesome!"

Shu turns to me. "Maybe you'd like one, too?"

"Um..." I say, kind of put on the spot. Pokemon from the Distortion World? From where Giratina lives? The thought seems kind of creepy...

Mirror Bulbasaur and Mirror Squirtle stare up at me with great big eyes.

They're adorable. Both of them are, in their own strange way, regardless of their origins. I actually think I'm in love. But I can only pick one of them. And truth be told, I don't even know how to be a real Pokemon trainer. I don't want them to get hurt from any mistake I make. I don't even know how to feed them!

Which one do I choose?

I think about it a little. Mirror Bulbasaur has an egg on its back. That could prove to be problematic in battles, as the shell might break. I think I read somewhere that Pokemon eggs don't break until they're ready to hatch, but I don't really remember where that was.

Mirror Squirtle... well, let's face it, having a gorgeous gem on its back makes it the preferred option. Not to mention it has a type advantage over Gary's Pokemon. But then, Gary only has one Pokemon, while Shu is gonna have at least two -- the other one and Kachu. But, then, I'll technically have three Pokemon... although I don't really know how to train any of them. And one of them is my cat, who doesn't take orders from anyone.

I look back at Mirror Bulbasaur. Truth be told, it's pretty dumpy-looking. Doesn't look like the kind of Pokemon that anybody would want to choose as their first partner. And from the sad look in its eyes, it probably knows it.

Okay, I've made my decision.

"Bulbasaur! I'll choose you!"

Gary snorts. Guffaws. Then does a double take when he realizes I'm serious. "Wait, that thing? With eggshell defenses? When you could have had a big shiny gem turtle?"

"Who are you to judge? You could have had a big shiny gem turtle, but instead you chose the Charmander that you won't be able to BRUSH without poking yourself." Good gosh, I just one-upped Gary 'Mofo' Oak. What a day this has been! "I think I'll name her Poppy."

"Her?" Gary asks. "You're sure it's a her?"

"Well, she has an egg on her back and everything. Two for the price of one."

"Better check your Pokedex," Shu says. "It's a male."

I checked. "Oh," I said. "Well, then... Yoshi? That sounds like a good name for an eggy dino boy."

Yoshi squeals with pleasure. I blush slightly. He likes me!

Gary doesn't seem all that impressed. "Congratulations. You just chose literally the worst starter you could have chosen. You'll be walking on eggshells from here to the Pokemon League."

Yoshi growls at Gary. I glare at him. "Yoshi is fine!" I snap. "I chose him for a reason, all right?"

"Yeah, because he was so pathetic no one else would!"

I can feel my temper rising again. "You know," I snap, "normally we'd settle this in a Pokemon battle, wouldn't we? It's time to PROVE how great my starter is."

"So it's a battle you want?" Gary grins. "You're on!"

This is definitely not how I'd expected the day after the convention to go.

---

We move to the forest to battle. No point in waiting around in Pallet Town for Team Rocket to show up again, probably with another bullshit legendary pulled out of nowhere. Pardon my language.

We stand several feet apart, in a grassy clearing. And incidentally, when the Pokemon world shows tall grass, they mean TALL grass, as in up to your hips in grass. Thankfully this field just has short grass, no taller than your neighbor's lawn, assuming they own a lawn mower.

"Lady and gentleman!" Shu says, playing the umpire. "Let the battle between Terra's Bulbasaur and Gary's Charmander begin!"

Benga and Hoopa watch from the sidelines. "Go, Terra-Kun!" Hoopa cheers. Benga meows, but I know he's cheering for me, too.

"Charmander!" Gary shouts. "Use Glimmer!"

Charmander bends down, and the horns on its head glow brightly -- too brightly to look at. A beam of light flashes in Yoshi's face, and he shrieks.

I look down at my Pokedex, listing Yoshi's moves. "Yoshi!" I say. "Use Astonish!"

Yoshi charges forward at Charmander, slamming his forelegs down on the ground and shouting "Bul-BAAAA!" at full blast.

Charmander jumps back a bit, shakes its head, and then sticks its tongue out at Yoshi. I blink. "That barely did anything...?"

"Course not!" Gary taunts. "It's a Sound move, isn't it? Clapping and yelling? All right, Charmander, use Glimmer again!"

I quickly look back at my Pokedex for the list of moves Yoshi knows. Tackle, Growl, and... "Barrage! Yoshi, use Barrage!"

Much to the surprise (and borderline disgust) of everyone present, Yoshi's egg starts to glow, and he opens his mouth and spits out a rapid-fire assault of small globes that, based on how they explode into goo on hitting Charmander, are some sort of eggs. Thankfully not rotten eggs, but still messy.

Charmander screams, shakes itself, and then goes for another Glimmer. However, with raw egg covering most of its head and spikes, the attack isn't quite so effective.

"Yoshi!" I shout. "Close your eyes and go for a Tackle!"

The Bulbasaur does so, charging forward. At Gary's command, Charmander jumps to the side to avoid the attack, but slips on the raw egg and comes crashing down to the ground. Before I can crow in victory, though, Yoshi slips as well and slides right into Charmander's spiky backside.

"Oops!" both me and Gary shout at the same time.

There's a pause.

"Get up, Charmander!" Gary yells. "Don't let that doofy-looking dino-frog thing beat you out!"

"Come on, Yoshi!" I shout. "You can do it! Get back up!"

Both Pokemon struggle to get back to their feet. But while Charmander manages to stand up rather shakily, Yoshi can't seem to get it together. He gets a few inches off the floor, then slips back down again.

"Bulbasaur is unable to battle!" Shu announces. "The winner is Charmander!"

"Yes!" Gary cheers. "I knew it!" He pulls out the Poke Ball that Shu gave him. "Charmander, return!"

I run up to Yoshi, quickly checking him for wounds. He doesn't appear seriously injured, just dirty and bruised. "Sauuuuur," he groans as he looks up at me.

"Don't worry, Yoshi," I say, petting him on his head. "We'll get you healed and cleaned up." I do have a good deal of Reviver Herbs packed in my bag, after all.

"Maaaan, are you messy!" Gary says to Charmander inside its ball. "Good thing you're not the kind with a tail-fire to look after, because you're gonna need a bath!"

Shu grins. "Yeah, Gary, it's gonna need a bath. Have fun washing between the spikes!"

"Between the..." Gary's face falls. "Oh, crap, you're not serious!"

Shu nods. "I think I saw a river further into the forest. You should probably check it out."

The look of horror on Gary's face is almost worth this entire disaster.
What can I say? Giratina is pretty darn scary, and some things just don't get better when you breathe in and out.

The Sound/Light/Crystal type triangle is something I came up with myself. Sound shatters crystal, crystal bends light, and light breaks the sound barrier (look it up, it totally does). 

Each starter is based on a real-world animal as well, Mirror Bulbasaur is based on the Surinam Toad, which carries its offspring in pockets on its back until they emerge as tiny toadlets. (Look it up on YouTube if you're not too squeamish.) Mirror Charmander is obviously a horned lizard, and Mirror Squirtle is based on a literal interpretation of the diamondback terrapin.

Sometime I ought to color in the drawing I did for this chapter and post it along with the movesets I've written up for these three. 

Also of note: the Poke Balls that the Mirror Starters are kept in are Delta Balls from Pokemon Insurgence. Just a neat little callout.

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