The Golden Crest

Carmen's internal monologue was questioning her own sanity as she lay silently on the frosty ground early that morning. The life of a naturalist is one of solitude, travelling the world to document rare and exotic species that you just don't see on a day to day basis.

So why the hell was she freezing at the base of Mount Lanakila to look at a damned Zigzagoon?!

She thought back to home, to Orre. Her father was probably out on his boat right now, returning from some fishing expedition. They didn't always get along, what with her obsession over rare Pokémon and his aversion to them, but they still cared for each other.

There were always countless tales in the naturalist world of shiny Pokémon, but this was something different. A Golden Crested Zigzagoon with a jet black body. However, nobody had yet managed to obtain conclusive evidence of its existence. This was Carmen's shot at gaining recognition in a community rather infamous for being incredibly male dominated. The first glimpse of dawn began to break through the clouds and Carmen stirred slightly, her ears primed to listen for the faintest hint of life.

Her chestnut hair was tied back away from her ears & eyes so as to give her the best range of both vision & hearing, as well as the obvious practicalities of reducing the chances of it snagging on a branch. She wore an emerald coloured coat, nice and thick with a fleece lining, to protect her from the unpredictable autumn elements. Her tan hiking boots wrapped over her combat trousers, she was a woman of practicality, not fashion. She wasn't exactly going to be tripping the light fantastic around Lumiose City smothered head to toe in Mawile Kors. The closest she was coming to wearing a fancy bag was the olive canvas camera bag slung over her shoulder.

Carmen heard a rustling noise coming from a set of shrubs about 200 yards away to her right. Then she saw it, a flash of gold. This could be it. With baited breath, she quietly and carefully removed her camera from its bag and focused the lens on the shrubbery. Setting the camera on burst, she prepared to capture the Zigzagoon as it emerged from the bushes.

Slowly, but surely, the creature crept out of the brush. There it was. The Golden Crested


Carmen cursed under her breath. Pom-Pom Style Oricorio were as common as uninvited Beedrill at a picnic. Admittedly, this style usually resided on Melemele Island, so it was slightly out of the way. Regardless, this was not the prize she sought, she took a few photos for her personal collection and watched it slowly dance away into the distance, completely oblivious to the false hope it had just brought.

Carmen settled back down in her hide, the coated mesh camouflaged her from less aware Pokémon, and the very unaware humans. She took a quick swig of coffee for energy, then returned to scouring the horizon for signs of life. The ridge to her east was practically barren so she kept her gaze fixed on the base of the mountain where there was a promising looking patch of tall grass to the left...

Three hours later, and not a whisper of a Golden Crested Zigzagoon. Nothing that was even yellow had appeared. The promising patch of tall grass had so far yielded a bewildered Bewear carrying a comatose Komala and nothing else. But with the sun being higher in the sky, perhaps her luck was about to change...

Then she saw it. A glimmer in the grass. She whipped her camera out and pointed it squarely at the turf and got an incredible photo of a Golden Crested


Carmen screamed internally and slammed her fist into the solid ground beneath her. She removed the camera strap from around her neck and tossed it into the back wall of the hide. Frustration was getting the better of her after nearly four hours awake in the wilderness without any success. Her eyes began to water as she thought about the reactions she'd receive if she returned home to Orre without anything to show for her efforts. The sneering of her professional peers, the mocking from the amateur community, the disappointment from her father.

Her father, the man who despised Pokémon for reasons she never quite knew, yet had nothing but support for her career ambitions. The ageing sea captain who always got the job done, who she had never known to fail.

She was not going to fail.

Carmen wiped her eyes with the left sleeve of her jacket before putting it on the ground behind her, feeling for the camera. That's when she felt it, not the stiff canvas of the strap or the cool metal of the case, but a soft fuzzy paw...

She turned her head slightly to look at the paw in her hand and saw an eclectic gold and black striped pattern upon it, the stripes rose in bands up the leg, to a chunky striped torso. The torso, like most, had a head on top of it, a Golden Crested head. Two large crimson eyes stared at her, surrounded by golden stars against a black face. She didn't need to search for the Zigzagoon, it had found her.

Zigzagoon cocked its head to the side in curiosity as it looked up at the human, who mirrored it by cocking her head to the same side also. She wanted to play! Zigzagoon saw the shiny black thing on the floor that she wanted to play with and picked it up for a nice game of fetch.

Carmen looked on in horror as the Golden Crested Zigzagoon grabbed her camera in its mouth and sprinted out of the hide. Her only chance to get the evidence she needed of her findings was literally running out of the door. She leapt to her feet as quickly as she could and flipped the hide over so that it was easier to see which way the small raccoon was running. She spotted it, heading for the barren ridge.

It zigged left, it zagged right, it zigged left once again. Carmen was running as fast as she could after the mischievous mammal, but it was just too quick for her, even with the heavy camera in its mouth. She took a large gulp of air and pounded her feet into the ground, slowly gaining on Zigzagoon.

It zigged left, it zagged right, it ran straight off the ledge and plummeted 20 feet to the floor. Carmen skidded to a halt at the edge of the ridge, small clumps of dirt rolled off the sheer face down to the ground below where the Zigzagoon lay motionless. She had to find a way down there. Obviously scaling down a vertical slope was impossible, and there we no trees to climb, she had to just take the jump herself.

Carmen sat down on the edge of the ridge, to her it felt like the edge of the world, her heart was pounding, the adrenaline coursing through her veins. She wiggled forwards so that she was only just still on solid ground, bent her knees slightly, tucked her chin, and pushed herself off. She closed her eyes as she fell, the seconds felt like hours as the ground drew ever closer.


Somehow, Carmen managed to land on her feet, admittedly she instantly fell back and slammed her left arm into the ground, shattering both the radius and ulna, but she felt no pain. The rush kept her going as she slowly approached the Golden Crested Zigzagoon and her camera. She gingerly picked the camera up with her right hand, noticing a few scrapes on her knuckles and checked that it was still functional.

It worked. Her emotions overwhelmed her as she focused the lens upon the limp body of the Golden Crested Zigzagoon, a solitary tear rolled down her cheek as she got the photos she needed. She had everything she deserved, but what of the Zigzagoon? She couldn't leave it here, it would be easy pickings for a carnivorous predator, but she had no Pokéballs, not being a trainer.

Carmen slung the camera strap over her left shoulder, gritting her teeth at the pain, the arm was going to be useless until she'd seen a doctor. She carefully picked up the Zigzagoon and cradled it in her right arm. She had a new quest, the search for a Pokémon Center.
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