Capture A Test of Wits (x4)

You may think that we as Slowpoke are incapable of complex thought. While that may be true for some (those of my brothers and sisters that choose to evolve into the dreadful, brian-dead Slowbro), it simply is not the case for others (those, including myself, who choose to evolve into the superior, intelligent Slowking). It’s an intelligence gap that presents itself among us Slowpoke at birth. Whether this distinct trait is genetic or environmental remains to be seen. But every Slowpoke among us knows exactly what they are, and exactly who they will grow up to be, whether you are a Born Slowking or a Born Slowbro.

Alas, despite being essentially two different species trapped inside the same pink, squishy body, there is but a single problem. We as Slowpoke have no way of meaningful communication with humans. In fact, our vocal chords allow for precisely two noises: “hrrrrrr” and “drrrrrr.” This is unfortunately true for both Born Slowkings and Born Slowbros. Even though us Born Slowkings are capable of telepathic communication with each other (Born Slowbros are capable as well, but it’s the equivalent of talking into your static television), even our greatest minds are incapable of communicating our intelligence to other species.

As a result, we are often grouped together with the Born Slowbros, much to our chagrin and embarrassment. Though I was born in the wild marshes outside of Fuschia City, to two Born Slowking parents no less (a match so rare it’s almost unheard of), I was captured against my will by a pea-brained teenager wearing Crocs, of all things. How he snuck up on me, I fear I may never know, but his motivations were anything but well-intentioned. I was one among dozens of Slowpoke that the snot-nosed trainer had captured that day. Though many of the human youth in the area begin their journey as dedicated Pokemon trainers at around his same age, this trainer was looking to make some quick cash by selling us to a Slowpoke farm. So he carts his bag full of innocent, unsuspecting Slowpoke halfway across the continent to a farm outside of Azalea Town in Johto. A few thousand Pokedollars are exchanged between the teen and the farm owner, and the teen snickers as he empties his bag of Pokeballs onto the dirty ground before bolting.

One by one, the farmer picks up the Pokeballs, cursing under his breath when he bends over thanks to his back pain, and releases the Slowpoke with a flash of light. I am among the last of the Slowpoke to be released, and even though my wits are still about me, I feel completely disoriented. I look upward to face the tall, gruff farmer. The hairs of his white bushy eyebrows flick upward, almost long enough to touch the brim of his straw hat. A cob pipe is tucked tightly at the corner between his two lips, and his wheezing breaths puff and inhale the pipe every few seconds. His belly is rotund, sticking out between the buttons of his too-tight flannel, and the tall, four-pronged pitchfork in his left hand is just barely taller than he is. He frightens me, and I stare directly into his eyes and say the only words I know how to see.

“....Hhhhhrrrrrrrrrrr,” I say defiantly. This farmer has no say over my own freedom, no authority over my independence. My feet dig in firmly to the soil atop which I stand, but the farmer’s strong left leg lifts me from the belly as he sets me to the side. I try to speak out once again. “Drrrrrrrrr!” I exclaim, but the farmer’s attention has already moved to the next Slowpoke. The farmer is so quick and unenthusiastic that he hardly considers my reaction out of the ordinary. I huff and puff, but it seems that my one chance to stand up for my own freedom has passed.

I take the chance to look around and orient myself with the surroundings. I seem to be in the center of the farm, standing atop a pile of soil turned to mud from years of heavy use. I’m among the dozen or so Slowpoke, while the farmer continues to release the Pokeballs and add to our group. I reach out with my telepathy to the nearby Pokemon, but all I hear is the static of thoughtlessness, such mind-numbing stupidity that I feel my own intelligence draining by the second. It seems I’m the only Born Slowking among the group, and I sigh in frustration at my circumstance.

The farm seems small, largely kept within the boundaries of a short wooden fence. Had my legs been longer or had I had functional knees, I could jump above the fence in a heartbeat, but alas the shortcomings of my own body keep me confined. As I scan the horizon, I notice that a small blue pond near the edge of the farm seems to have a congregation of Slowpoke, likely the locals. It seems like my best chance at finding another Slowpoke of my intelligence, though my hopes aren’t particularly high. As fast as my tree-trunk legs will allow me, I make my way over to the pond, treading through the muddy crowd of plebians, who are content with rolling around in the filth.

It takes a few minutes before I finally arrive to the pond and dip my toes into the clear water in front of me. As I swirl my feet around to clean them, the soil billows outward and muddies the water, but the nearby Slowpoke don’t seem to mind. Most of them have that same dead-in-the-brain look in their eyes as they blow bubbles in the water and simply refuse to blink. If I could roll my eyes, I would.

“Anyone out there?” I project. The god-awful humming of idiocy has died down compared to the center of the farm, but there aren’t any intelligent conversations that I’m able to pick up on. I sigh once more and dip my chin into the water, taking a sip from a mudless area. The water isn’t particularly clean, and the grit of silt still filters through my teeth, but it quenches the thirst I have nonetheless.

”You really shouldn’t drink that...” came a delicate, lofty voice across the airwaves. ”Some of the others here don’t understand the difference between a watering hole and a toilet.”

I choke upon the water in my mouth, spitting it out instantly, though some goes out through my nostrils and makes me choke harder. I lean back on my hind legs and reverse away from the water back onto land. I bump tails with a few Slowpoke and hear their disgruntled “drrrrr”s in response, but no one seems to be too bothered. When I sense there’s enough room to do so, I whip my head around and come face-to-face with another Slowpoke. We stare briefly into each other’s eyes before I try to communicate.

”Is... is that you?” I ask.

”.........HRRRRRRR!” I hear in an angry response. The Slowpoke then charges forward, bonking heads with me and trampling the ground as it rushes towards the water.

“Ouch...” I think to myself. A loud splash of the Born Slowbro jumping in the pond echoes out, and a moment later the aftermath of the splash rains down in a cascade of water.

”Over here, you doofus,” I hear across the brainwaves, though it seems to be more localized to the ledge of earth that overhangs the pond from above. Several Slowpoke are lounging about in the sun with their eyes closed, but a single Slowpoke stares at me from the peak of the small mound. It waves its tail in the air, twice to the left then once to the right, a common signal among the Born Slowking to identify each other. I sigh with a smile of relief and start to make my way over to the only other of my kind.

Though, as I get closer, I realize that something seems off about the Slowpoke in front of me. While its body looks almost identical to every other Slowpoke around, the crown of its head is tinted yellow. Additionally, the tip of its tail is unlike mine or any others I’ve seen, as it is shaded in that same golden hue. The Slowpoke has a brightness in its eyes that I’ve only ever seen in a fellow Born Slowking, but I sense a certain mischief in its expression.

”You should’ve seen the look on your face! Jumping out of the water like that, and bonking heads!” The fellow Slowpoke exclaims, snorting its nostrils as it laughs. ”For a Born Slowking, you sure are clueless.”

I huff in frustration. Born Slowking are not always known for their hospitality, and sometimes a failed test of wits can be the start of a painfully rocky relationship. ”Pleasure to meet you too...” I respond sarcastically.

”Ya know, you and I could rule this place...” the Slowpoke replies, much to my surprise. This sudden change of attitude makes me feel powerful, as if the Slowpoke has recognized my superiority right away. An interesting way to posit oneself at a brand new farm, but hey, a king could always use his allies.

”I think that would be a wise decision,” I communicate in response.

The Slowpoke’s mouth curls open in a dopey smile, baring its flat teeth and squinting its eyes in a snicker.

”Why do you look different from the others here?” I ask bluntly. ”I’ve never seen a golden yellow Slowpoke before...”

”I’m not from here,” the Slowpoke replies. ”I lived across the wide oceans before I was captured and brought here. In my homeland, the Born Slowking far outnumber the Born Slowbro, but even then, I am among the smartest,” the Slowpoke responds smugly.

”That can’t be true,” I reply back, narrowing my eyes critically, both doubting his origins and his proclaimed intelligence.

”Think what you will,” the Slowpoke retorts, ”but I will need you to prove yourself to me before we can take over the farm together.” Its sly eyes were filled with desire.

An audible sigh escapes from my snout. Of course the first test of wits (which, admittedly, I did fail) wasn’t enough. ”Okay, fine,” I reply. ”What do you need me to do?”

The Slowpoke’s eyes narrow even further. ”Come up here and tell me what you see. There’s a treasure at the bottom of this pond, but only the smartest of Slowpoke can see what value the treasure truly has.”

I am suspicious of the Slowpoke. What kind of treasure would be at the bottom of a pond, no less a pond in the middle of a dirty farm? I figure this may be a riddle (we Born Slowpoke are privy to brain-teasers and word problems), but there seemed only one way to find out. My stubby legs waddle forward up the slight hill until I am face to face with the Golden Slowpoke.

”Look, down there,” the Slowpoke flicks its tail to the side, gesturing to the pool. From this height, the added depth of the water has turned it to a cerulean blue, almost too dark to see through. But as I tilt my head forward towards the water, I can see the faint outlines at the bottom of the pool. It’s hard to decipher what they are -- they look almost like purple rocks, with long, wide, pink appendages attached to them. There are only a few of them there, but the pink appendages seem to drift with the pond’s ripples.

”What is it? I ask, squinting harder and leaning my face closer to the water. ”It just looks like rocks -- how is this a treasure?

”It’s the treasure of dominance,” I hear telepathically. ”The treasure of staying top Slowpoke.”

Suddenly, I feel the strong whap! of a thick tail into my rear, pushing me forward into the pond. A loud splash shoots upward, and I begin to sink down in the water, my legs paralyzed in shock and too slow to start treading water. I quickly spin my head upwards to look at the surface of the water. Standing atop the hill is the golden Slowpoke, its lips curled into a menacing smile as it glares beneath it.

”What was that about?!” I say bewildered as my legs finally start kicking. Though I’m still sinking, I hear a faint noise of clicking coming from beneath me. It sounds like two rocks grinding against each other, growing faster in anticipation.

”There can be only one born Slowking here,” I hear, as I feel the sudden sharp pain of teeth into my tail. I whip around quickly in recoil to see one of the purple rocks at the bottom of the pond has clamped around me, its shell inching further and further up my tail as it swallows.

”Why would you...” I trail off as I start to feel a creeping numbness spread into my brain. ”What did you...” the full sentence in my head vanishes, with the thought and intention behind the sentence vanishing with it. ”Wh...” my brain starts to go silent.

[-] The following 1 user Likes sambipom's post:
  • Beemo
Diction: Advanced (6) - You hit the sweet spot here where your word choices told us about the narrator’s intelligence without coming off as artificial or stilted. You varied your descriptors well and painted a great picture with them. You covered all of the senses and a variety of emotions not just in the main character but in the supporting cast too.

Grammar & Style: Advanced (3) – No grammatical or spelling errors that I found. You did a good job breaking the paragraphs around distinct events and thoughts so they didn’t muddle together, though sometimes you mixed your action/reaction sequences a little bit. For instance:
Quote:“One by one, the farmer picks up the Pokeballs, cursing under his breath when he bends over thanks to his back pain, and releases the Slowpoke with a flash of light.”
It’s easiest to parse things happening when there’s a direct link from the stimulus to the response. In this sentence, the farmer picking up the Pokeballs is the start; releasing them is the end. Mention of his cursing and back pain adds some good color to the character but it pauses the mental parse between those actions, and often will work better either before or after that unit. A few hiccups like this will go unnoticed and won’t really harm a story, but for tighter writing it’s a good thing to keep an eye on.

Character & Plot Unity: Advanced (4) – Your story starts with an unfortunate capture, and the character’s goal is to escape. Their actions after that are consistent with such a goal, whether that’s surveying their resources/ enclosure or active defiance of the captor. Other characters capable of rubbing neurons together also have goals and act towards them – the kid to make money, the farmer to get on with his business, the transplant to maintain his dominance. I did have to read the ending twice to cotton on to what was happening and why it developed that way, but it made perfect sense after that.

Pokemon Integration: Advanced (4) – from the rubric, “[F]ew or no other Pokemon or people could fill the same role.” This is spot-on for your story, and the addition of the Galarian variant brought in some broader world cover as well. The story fits the observed experience of Slowpokes and has some fun other implications.
Setting: Advanced (4) – The details you give confirm my assumptions of game-world canon, and you don’t contradict things we players know. Someone less familiar with the Pokemon worlds may struggle a little – for instance, knowing why they would be importing Slowpoke to farm without any valuable livestock properties – but for most of us we can safely imagine the land of Johto for the experience. The farm is the right levels of detail to give us a mental picture without either overdescribing or leaving large blank spots.

Dialogue: Advanced (4) – The protagonist’s mental narration counts towards dialogue too, and each of the characters have their own voice (or abstracted swearing) that makes it possible to follow conversations without needing a lot of attribution. Other than high-level concepts though we don’t really know who the other characters are – more interaction between the kid and the farmer could shed light on why they had that arrangement, and even on a ranch like is described there’s probably wild Pokemon who could be observing the action and interacting.

Verdict: 25 Demanding, so you get your fourplay Slowpoke and $32,500 cash, a total of $47,500 towards legend progress. Enjoy!
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