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Pokémon Auld Foundations [OS]

Venia Silente

For your ills, I prescribe a cat.
Hello everyone. Presenting here Auld Foundations, a fic I actually wrote recently instead of having it in the drafting stage and revisionism hell for six months. Furthermore, this is a story about a good doggo, and how we can protect her job. Enjoy!

Auld Foundations​

Sorento waited under the morning sun for the pedestrian light to switch from red to green. When it finally did, he tapped his shoe on the sidewalk, looked both ways and crossed the street amidst a group of people of various ages. Among them were a few Pokémon as well, surely accompanying their trainers and caretakers.

It wasn't something like the odd crazy driver that he had to worry about, but rather that he had postponed for long buying new shoes, and now in this important day, his feet hurt a lot. If he could have journeyed over here by bike it would have been easier, but today in particular he couldn't.

At least he was in good company: Lira, his Houndoom companion and acquaintance in the “crime” of having a job, followed close by nosing around the other people and their Pokémon.

Once passed the crossing, Sorento kept walking across the main street, and only gave only a cursory glance at the road behind him. He paused to look around for friends and relatives, his eyes tracking a few people going in the same direction as him. After watching them for a bit, he decided to resume his walk. Now it was him following Lira as the Houndoom peeked into every food store around.

He used to worry more about the streets, back then. What if he'd get distracted on the road and then something bad would happen? A skid or a crash on the road when he was riding on a Pokémon at 45 kilometers an hour would certainly not be a good thing. And certainly it would be even worse on his motorcycle at 85 instead.

Lira did not seem concerned that anything could go wrong. A particular store piqued her curiosity and off she went, passing in between a couple old ladies and a group of office workers going for brunch. At the store she found a Lairon drinking some water from a saucer at the entrance, and decided to approach it. Though wether Lira had wanted to have some water to drink, or only merely to chit chat with the Lairon, the other Pokémon was quick to distrust her, to growl her away and keep all the water for itself.

Sorento waited for his Houndoom to come back to him. He scratched her head. "Don't worry, there's lots of water to drink at city hall." He looked away for a moment. "At least, for you."

The trainer looked down the street and saw how many other citizens and even a few Pokémon were headed to City hall. Worrying news had been going around as of late and many service workers and citizens had come to attend a council meeting that day.

The trainer could sense the doubt and hesitance in the air, the old grandmas hushing and the office workers irately pointing at their screens. Sorento looked down at his Houndoom, he envied how she went about enjoying the day, mingling with other Pokémon, for sure blissfully unaware of the rumours going around.

For word on the streets was, after the meeting was over, most Pokémon workers in the City would lose their jobs.

It had been two long days since the last Council meeting.

Before that most Trainers had to do their jobs around the city with their Pokémon; now they had to do it alone.

Sorento rode on his motorcycle accompanying two fellow bikers, the group going for a look at the storage and shipping area in the lower level of the City before the customary drink and dart games at one of the pubs uphill.

His thoughts wandered for only a moment. «How did regress so much? Curve left curve left!»

He slowed down, following the group: they were exiting a curve on the road and approaching the neighbourhoods in the lower level that were dug into the mountain, entire rows of houses built into the caves.

The City, built on the face of a mountain and spanning four levels of construction both dug into it or protruding out of it, had definitively seen better days. Better nights as well, Sorento reminded himself: while he played the role of a food inspector by day, by night one or two times a week the young man would join a biker gang for some outings on the roads around the City.

The "Oscudería", as their founder had called the gang, was comprised of a number of people and their companion Dark Pokémon. Like Sableye, Nickit, Shiftry or even Lira! Sorento spoiled Lira a lot, though the two did take care to put up a show of being part of a biker gang: the kind that at nights rides around the lower levels of the city and the outskirts, making noise, partying at various establishments, helping old ladies cross the street, and going on Pokémon fights with visitors or with performance Trainers who sought the night as their time of practice.

All in all, the stereotypical Dark, cool and radical biker gang that, as their leader often reminded them while smirking at Sorento and his Houndoom, were "more bark than bite".

The bikers turned their lights on as they entered the tunnelled area. Yes, there were problems too big for them to help with. Perhaps too big for anyone in town, Sorento thought.

At most, they could make their rounds around the exterior neighbourhoods, taking some time to check from a distance the buildings that had been damaged or destroyed by the debris from above, or into the excavated neighbourhoods, to check the ruined anchors of pillars and supports recently damaged.

As the bikers went from block to block, they would notice a few of them had been cordoned off for security by the day crews.

Then they would head out of the caves and back into the moonlit nights. Taking advantage of a stop at a traffic light, one of the bikers checked his phone and sent some of the pictures they had taken today to the City hall offices. Hoping, like everyone did, that someone capable and qualified would show up to fix things.

The third biker in their group cared enough to put in words what Sorento was thinking. “Do you think they’re gonna call someone?” he asked his acquaintance who had sent the pictures.

“Best case scenario,” the second biker answered while adjusting his helmet, “they’d send us the Champion.”

Sorento tilted his head. “What? Why do you think that?”

The second rider shrugged. “They say he’s an electrical engineer so at least he’d understand something of what is going on.”

“I’m not that sure,” Sorento answered with hesitation. “What can one man do?”

The third rider interjected. “I read somewhere this one man had his Nidoqueen take over an entire country of wild Pokémon.”

The second rider shook his head. “What? Doesn’t sound like him. I heard he arrested an entire criminal syndicate and to celebrate he went to a fair and tried learning stage magic tricks.”

The third rider was about to say something, but the traffic light shifted and the accessibility signal to accompany it buzzed a couple of times. And although there were no other drivers on the road at this hour, the bikers couldn’t help but to instinctively shut up, face the road and resume their march. The problem was still going to be there tomorrow, anyway.

After that, Sorento and the other two took a curve on the road, passed a junction, and headed to a small plaza with a communal garden where they parked for a rest. One of the bikers was quick to produce a Pokéball and a phone. He let out a Shiftry, prompting the other two to send out a Zweilous and Lira.

"This just sucks," yelled one of the bikers, a younger man with short brown hair, while kicking a pebble. "How does not having Pokémon around to help us repair things help, you know, repair things?"

Sorento shrugged. "I haven't the faintest."

It had all begun with some political scandals a couple years ago, something so big that when it blew up it took down not only Sorento's previous job, but also the funding for the maintenance of the City's pillars and supports, and the entire national Pokémon Battle League.

Then a few large events such as earthquakes or wars between wild Pokémon all hit the region, before the common people could gather and try to organize together. Fear did the rest, and somehow people ended up being okay with Pokémon being basically voted out of the City. After decades of bright history, the City now found itself before a lonely present they had even helped vote by themselves.

Sorento crossed his arms as he watched the Zweilous go off to search the trees for berries or critters, with Lira following closeby. "Don't go very far!" he instructed, "we're still going over to Ex-Tenso's!" He waited for a moment and turned to the other biker with his phone. "We are going, right?"

The other man scrolled by some messages on his phone and sighed. "Yeah, we're not missing out on that. We have to send our motorcycles for repairs anyway, we can't just keep coursing the damaged areas like that."

Sorento nodded and moved over to the garden to watch as Lira and the other two Pokémon wandered around, at least here free to explore the area by themselves.

Lira's lineage had lived in the City since long. Descended from the mountains, her ancestors had worked their way into the ranks of humans and their warm and cozy homes, in exchange for a job. Mascot even remembered how her mother's lullaby carried the story of Old Houndoom, the ancestor that had first descended from the mountains and went on to serve as a ride for the children of Humans.

Over time of chasing after the children and playing mock games with them, some of the children would come to love him and show him to their parents; their parents would first doubt him, but he was cute and helpful enough, that eventually some of the children had convinced their parents to let the dog Pokémon into their homes.

Et voilà, Old Houndoom now had a room and food under the humans' roof. All in exchange for the easy job of keeping the children safe and helping the humans in various ways, which his descendants has done ever since.

Until a few days ago, Lira would have thought that vow would last forever; now it seemed she would come to be known as the one of her lineage to break away from humans.

Lira sniffed around the garden and then looked back to where her trainer and his friends were arguing. They had been in a bad mood for few days, as were everyone in town that Lira knew ever since she and other Pokémon around were no longer allowed to do their jobs. There was no longer riding children around or playing with them for Lira; her Trainer would not even bring her around to the big supermarkets uphill.

The Zweilous and the Houndoom sat for a moment, looking at their humans with concern. Lira looked up to the Moon and the sky and wondered for a moment, what had gone wrong.

Had she and the others done something wrong? She heard from visiting Pokémon that the guardians of cities to the south harshly disapproved of the City's turn around; one of them, Virizion, had even gone and rallied Pokémon around to march against another city that had somehow disrespected him.

If the humans were in danger, Lira was sure the Pokémon would be called in to help — but that had not been the case, so did that mean the humans were alright? The thought crossed Lira's mind that, if humans without Pokémon was now the right way of life, then perhaps the time of Old Houndoom's vow was over and his descendants would have to return to the wild.

Over the last months, with the loss of funding for the reparations and maintenance needed around the city, there had been various incidents and accidents, sometimes with disastrous results. In the worse among them, many humans and Pokémon had become hurt or even died when buildings had crumbled or when the foothills fell in a landslide.

It was in light of those incidents becoming worse and the City losing reputation, that the council had assembled a few times already, and they had reached the worrying conclusion.

Reparations and new construction around the City were needed, yes, but they had to be done by humans. Not only did the humans needed the jobs and the wages, but also the City considered they could not risk drawing the ire of strong Pokémon like Virizion if they felt that the City had been irresponsible in their care of Pokémon or even blamed the City for the various events.

On the TV, the news was already showing repercussions of the discussion. An anchorman was interviewing an engineer who commented on some older plans of the City's construction. «I am convinced that the Council has ignored the Way, battle-tested across our entire History, which is to develop alongside our Pokémon,» explained the engineer as he unveiled some holograms of what appeared to be a tall tower. «And with our new, Pokémon-built Battle Tower project in Cuasto opening later this year, I hope to also light the way for this city.»

There was some loud chit-chat from some of the younger customers, most of them Trainers, about the announced project. Still, that was an adventure to be had elsewhere; the real problems they would be living starting today if the City was so adamant about this cultural change.

The fight to keep Pokémon around had been lost so easily, people felt. Some clever politician had gone and sold the City the idea, saying, while tapping his forehead with a finger, that you can't have wounded or dead Pokémon workers, if you don't let Pokémon workers in. Three sessions later and that motion had been accepted under the banner of saving the city the ire of the southern gods and (most importantly) payouts and costs for insurance companies.

A woman of name Irma, owner of a local taxi company, was quick to speak in support of the Pokémon as she shoved her way into another interview. «You can't expect this ordinance to work,» she spoke harshly on television. «Pokémon move people and packages around. I can't move that many people, and even if I could, cars don't have the initiative and sincere desire to protect their passengers from danger!»

Still, the legislative system was a strange beast, and to "protect the Pokémon (and our insurance companies) from harm" from more incidents, as well as prioritize the reparations and constructions of the support systems, the Council had decided to enact an ordinance to move out all Pokémon jobs from the City and impose other limitations on Trainers that effectively banned non-flying Pokémon from wandering about the higher levels of the City on their own accord.

"That's a craptastic load!" the local Gym leader went on, madly stabbing some fried pork with a fork. "I work here! What do they expect me to do with the Gym Pokémon?! Put Air Balloons on everyone?!"

Sorento and other patrons laughed nervously in between drinks. The trainer then gave a look at the entrance, where some of the bikes were parked on a special elevated platform made of wood., and he saw Lira and a a Larvitar jump up to take a look at them.

"Hmmm..." the trainer hummed. "Air Balloons on everyone, imagine that."

One of the other patrons laughed. "That would look cute on a Ponyta, but then you couldn't take a ride on them."

"I mean," went on another patron while tasting a drink, "even if we could, it would take forever for our Pokémon to ride on the air to work."

Sorento eyed his own glass, now almost empty. "It's a shame Pokémon are not motorcycles. Imagine that, if we could get them legally classified as motor vehicles we could skip all this nonsense."

Th man stopped for a moment, and turned from his glass to the platform where Lira watched with morbid curiosity as another patron tried to lift the Larvitar so the Pokémon could take a seat on one of the bikes.

"Hmmm... Pokémon can't be rides anylonger... but if they can ride..."

Well, that got Sorento's mental wheels working.

"Hey," he asked one of his colleagues, "how are we for a Dark-style civil disobedience?"

The colleague raised his drink. “Well, we are Dark. Oscuros. Why, what are you thinking?”

Sorento smirked.

A few days had passed, and the Oscudería now had a new job. They had changed a few things, so that their Pokémon like Lira did not have to go through a traumatic change.

Today Lira sat proudly on the sidecar of the motorcycle, putting googles on as Sorento rode his motorcycle across the streets, joining his pack of bikers. Each motorcycle, her Trainer's included, now sported a sidecar attached to them, carrying both a child and a Pokémon, firmly secured.

It was a noticeable departure from the gang's nightly outings, but all for the same purpose: for it was the Oscudería's self-appointed job to give Pokémon rides to their jobs.

After all, the ordinance forbade Pokémon rides from moving around town, but not human rides from moving Pokémon around. The humans needed the jobs, after all!

On the sidecar, Lira held her tongue out happily as the child in her seat embraced her, pet her head and dedicated to explain to the dog Pokémon, in all that childish wonder, about the trees and the water fountains and the cream stands that the caravan met as they went.

Lira probably did not understand much of that, but what she did understand is that she was still doing her job, making sure the child was well cared for and happy.

Lira's lineage had lived in the City since long. Descended from the mountains, her ancestors had worked their way into the ranks of humans and their warm and cozy homes, in exchange for a job.

Every generation since had gone and served with humans, without fail. One ancestor had assisted handicapped humans; another had fought in arenas for the glory of the nation; at least two or three had worked scaring off the Murkrow away from the phone service lines; one of her cousins was the "children magnet" at a hospital. Finally, Lira herself went around watching over and entertaining children — much as Old Houndoom had once done.

And even if some humans wrongly thought they had to fear for her safety and take her job and her vow of support with it, her human family, and many others, had come to the forefront to defend their part of this vow.

When at some point the bikers passed by the City hall, the leader of the pack gave an instruction for them to sound their horns, with the Pokémon and the children joining in on the chorus. Letting the hall and its politicians know that humans and Pokémon would keep their jobs, and their City, together.

The past of the City had been the construction of a relationship between humans and Pokémon: very well the present could be its reconstruction.

Author's Notes​

This story was written for PokéCommunity's Small Writing Contest 2022. Lilith@PokéCommunity and SpitefulMurkrow@ThousandRoads participated in the proofreading.

It's also full of references, for those who know I'm about worldbuilding. If you want more details, you can check the official wiki article at "Auld Foundations" @ Suocéverse wiki, though it's still to be completed at this time. The article also documents cross-publication sites.

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