A Crack in the Shell
“So you’re saying that Team Rocket are doing experiments to try to make… some sort of obedient half-Pokémon supersoldiers, and that’s how you came about? And that your Eevee is another of their experiments?”
Darren nodded, grimly. “Fox can evolve into any of Eevee’s evolution forms at will, but I warned him that we’d be separated if they knew, so he never let it on to them. They think we’re both failures, and Starlit, my Blissey, was a disappointment since she refuses to come out of her Pokéball. They were just humoring me to let me have them.”
“All the while thinking of you as… a subpar Pokémon?”
“Something like that.” He grimaced. “I can take a lot more abuse than a human, but I guess a pure Dragonite would be hardier than me. Most of all I’m not blindly obedient, and I don’t like how they treat Pokémon. They won’t have me again. Assigning me to that… monster, like an object to be passed around, would have convinced me of that if I hadn’t been certain already.”
“Professor Oak will want to hear about this.”
“If it helps stop Team Rocket before anyone else gets hurt, I’ll talk to anyone.” Darren fell silent for a moment, sullenly glaring down at his own clothing. “I really wish I wasn’t mistaken for one of them.”
The girl was quiet for some time before replying to that. “No offense, but in that uniform, I can see why someone would draw that conclusion.”
“I know!” Darren lashed his tail in agitation. “It’s not like I can walk into the department store and buy something that’ll fit, though. Maybe when I was younger, but since the last time I evolved…”
“We’ll think of something. In the meantime, you could just take the jacket off, couldn’t you? The pants aren’t nearly so… eye-catching.”
“I guess.” He fumbled with the hidden zipper for a few moments before managing to undo it, then pulling off the glove on his right hand and tucking it into his belt to free both its sleeves. Actually taking the garment off proved too tricky for him to do while still walking, and he stopped to wiggle his wings free of the slits cut in the back of it.
After making sure none of the emblem emblazoned across the front of the jacket would show, he tied it around his waist by the sleeves, leaving him dressed in a thin, black short-sleeved garment tight enough to show hints of muscle movement beneath the fabric. A horizontal gap running from side-seam to side-seam at the back of it let his wings out, the fabric stretching against the tops and bottoms of them. “Is that better?”
Heather, who’d kept walking, although slowly, turned around at the sound of his voice. She opened her mouth to start to say something, but whatever she’d intended to tell him was turned into a yelp as her toe hit a groove in the tunnel floor, sending her stumbling forward and making her already tiring grip on the large egg slip.
Darren sprang forward without thinking, seemingly disappearing in one place to reappear in another, just in time to catch the falling Pokémon egg and curl his body protectively around it, going tumbling without letting it connect with the hard floor. His companion flailed and caught herself against the wall, and he carefully sat up, cradling the egg against his chest like she’d done earlier.
“That’s better, yes,” she gasped with a half-smile, straightening up and brushing her hands off on her skirt. “Is it alright?”
“I think so. I’m pretty sure I caught it before—”
Darren’s antennae slicked back against his head as he turned the egg in his hands to let her see the small crack near the tip. Before either of them could speak, a scratching sound was heard from within the egg, providing an alternate explanation for the damage to the shell.
“Is it…?” Heather whispered, coming closer and crouching next to him, studying the damage to the shell.
As their Pokémon crowded around in an attempt to also see what was going on, Darren simply nodded.
There was no telling how long it took for the unborn Pokémon inside the egg to break loose the first shard of shell, leaving a small hole through which neither of the trainers could see much of anything. After that it moved a little faster, until tiny claws curled around the edges of the growing hole, breaking off most of one side of the egg between them.
Cautiously, Heather reached out and touched the small, pale purple-grey snout that emerged from the opening, scratching the chin of the newborn Pokémon. It responded by reaching out with a pair of wings a darker shade of the same color as its body, and gripping her wrist with the tiny claws on the wings’ outermost joint. She pulled it out and held it like a baby, reaching into her shoulder bag with her free hand and coming up with a tiny ball of something which she offered to the newborn Pokémon.
It accepted the piece of Pokéchow in its awkward claws, bringing it to its mouth and licking it a few times before finally swallowing the piece. With a soft crooning sound, it then shifted in Heather’s grip, cuddling against her.
“He likes you,” Darren said, stating the obvious.
The girl’s hand had once again gone into her bag, and this time came up with a Pokédex — or at least Darren assumed that was what it was, even if it bore little resemblance to the one that had been stolen from him — and pointed it at the half-sleeping young creature.
“Aerodactyl. A ferocious, prehistoric Pokémon that goes for the enemy’s throat with its serrated, saw-like fangs.”
“He… doesn’t look very ferocious to me.”
Heather laughed, softly. “I’m not complaining. I’ll have to think of a name for him; something suitable even if he doesn’t turn out half the fighter my Pokédex thinks he should be.” She tucked the ‘Dex away and ran a finger over the small creature’s tough skin, from the tip of one stubby horn and down its neck, along its wing all the way to the tip. “I can’t well call him ‘Fluffy’, can I?”
The Aerodactyl looked up, dark violet eyes focusing on Heather’s face, and its crooning intensified, prompting Darren to laugh.
“You might not have much choice but to call him Fluffy. He likes it.”
“You know, these things were easier when I didn’t have someone around who understands Pokémon.”
“At least he’s got a name, right?”
Heather sighed and rolled her eyes. She couldn’t well deny that.