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Chapter One: Interview
Pronouns
She, Her/Hers
Rating: Teen
Summary (Taken from Archive of Our Own): Agatha assumes she is giving up her freedom when she goes in for her first job interview. Then she is offered to be sent into the world of Pokémon to defend it from a coming, yet unknown, threat. As it continually escapes attempts of being identified and Pokémon who were once another species become as common as clouds in the sky, she decides to leave everything in their paws and pursue a new life... Even if her peace will be short-lived.

"You can do this."

The sidewalk curved and descended into the parking lot of the hardware store. The hardware store was a landmark on my journey, not a target. A shortcut into town ran through the parking lot and under a bridge. Most folks parked their cars here to catch the train at the station running parallel to our town. When I first discovered this side path, I would take it to reduce my anxiety. I couldn't stand waiting at the signal at the bottom of the hill and panicking over whether drivers would obey my hometown's traffic laws. Then I started going to college and used the corridor to save time. I came to love strolling beneath the bridge and ended up using it whenever I needed to go downtown.

"You'll be okay."

If all went well tonight, I would be returning home within the hour. I emerged on the other side of the sidewalk and went back into town. As I rejoined the main sidewalk, I wandered straight into a slice of nightlife. Ahead of me was a bar catering to a squad of middle-aged folks who conversed at an outdoor table. A waitress shuffled away from them balancing shot glasses on reflective metal trays.

"You've survived worse."

And yet my heart pounded. I kept walking. Somehow I slipped by them all unnoticed. They must have been too intoxicated to notice me being around. The last thing I needed was drunks acknowledging me for coexisting with them. I was never fond of the taste of alcohol or being impaired. Knowing me, I would let my true feelings slip and awaken half-dazed the next morning to my family either arguing or crying their eyes out.

Further down the road, I found the coffee shop where my little sister worked a year before. Cappuccino Corner. Moonlit window glass further illuminated at the edges by streetlights caught my eye. The neat scarlet curtains inside pulled me towards the building like a metal to a magnet. I couldn't make out my face, but I could see an outline of my uneven curly hair the color of burnt pie crust.

"You're fine," I said, cutting into the evening's silence. I brushed a loose lock behind my left ear. "Let's go."

I swiveled from my reflection. I would find my destination next to a jeweler's shop with an entrance painted blood red to mimic the hue of a ruby. I knew the shop well. Though they seemed interesting, I never had an interest in wearing jewels or jewelry. My mother used to drag me to there whenever she got a huge paycheck and wanted to spend it on a new necklace for her next date over the weekend.

"There's nothing to be afraid of..."

"Um, hello? I'm here for an interview with Ms. Miwa. I know I'm coming in real late. I'm usually good at tracking the time and I'd like to apologize…" I groaned on the inside and shoved a palm over my face. Come on, me! Keep it together! "Could you please tell me if she’s available right now?”

When she finished typing on her computer, the clerk gestured at the hall beside her office. "Head down the hall for your interview," she said. She removed her thickset fingers from the keyboard. "You'll find Ms. Miwa's office in the back."

I thrust my phone into my pocket. "Down the hall," I reiterated, "in the back. Got it. Thanks, ma'am."

The woman in pin-striped business attire settled into her seat. "Good evening, Ms. Brown," she said, folding her hands and leaning forward. "May I trouble you to pick a number between one and five?"

I couldn't find it within me to focus on her face for more than a moment. My face never could decide what to do with itself when I encountered a stranger. My jaw would hang as loose as a dumb fish's. Whenever I gathered the courage to stare, I held my gaze longer than necessary. I ducked my head rather than letting her see me breathe through dried lips or a clogged nose. I fiddled with the faded thin strap of the messenger bag in my lap.

"We're starting the interview, Ms. Miwa?" I said. "Or are you asking me to choose what type of coffee you're having tonight?"

The woman lifted a thin blonde eyebrow.

I winced. Good grief. This wasn't the time nor the place to be joking around. I needed to nail this interview. "I, uh, applied to be a typist here, if that's what you would like to know—"

"Choose a number," said Ms. Miwa. "We can only proceed with this meeting if you do."

I gulped and tore my eyes from the dark blouse she wore. They flickered about the office space. Nothing had been hung on the polished white walls. Between me and Ms. Miwa was a clean and shiny desk with a short stack of papers thrust to the side. We sat in cushioned chairs over a sprawling navy blue rug. The rest of the room was empty besides the closet door to our left.

"Ms. Brown," said Ms. Miwa, who still held her eyebrow aloft, "are you alright? I would like an answer from you. This is important." She reached under her desk. From there, she produced a blank sheet of paper and a pen. "If you won't answer me, I suppose I'll put you down for two out of five."

"Um, sure...”

"I understand your confusion," she said when she finished writing. "If I could vet new hires, you would have a more hands-on experience. But because my boss is a stickler for "tradition", you will have to take what he likes to call a "personality test"."

I shrank into my chair. No wonder why I heard this place struggled to get its feet off the ground! I should have been trying for a job at the commons instead of asking random businesses if they were hiring.

"I think," I said, grabbing the armrests, "I'll be leaving now."

Ms. Miwa lifted a hand. "No, no," she said. "Stay. I agree with this test being silly. My boss wouldn't appreciate it if I didn't have everyone passing through our office on record."

"I don't have much work experience," I said, "but that doesn't sound normal. What, does he have a scary reputation among you guys or something? Do you need certain people who can withstand his personality?"

She shook her head. "He's quite ordinary for a, well, person."

I twirled my bag's sling between my fingers. The leather fabric gave me a peculiar comfort. "You're not inspiring any confidence in me, ma'am."

One woman stared at the other.

The one under scrutiny, me, gulped. Whoops. Maybe I crossed a line of some sort? "So-sorry if that wasn't appropriate," I said. "I've never gotten this far with finding a job. I'll be going on medication soon to regulate my anxiety; I picked it up on the way here—"

"Question two. What would you do if you smelled something awful?"

I frowned. "Huh?"

Ms. Miwa continued to stare at me with bulging blue irises. I could hardly discern the whites behind them.

I swallowed and sank back into the cushion behind me. "Fine," I said. "I'll do your quiz for your "records", but I won’t be coming back even if you tell me I'm hired." When I left this for her to stew over for long enough, out came the words, "My sense of smell sucks. How bad of an aroma are we talking about here?"

"Rotten eggs," Ms. Miwa said. She kept a straight face in light of my speech. "Could you go into detail about how you would handle the smell?"

I wrinkled my nose. Peculiar pressure built in my throat. Having no prior context for the aroma of rotten foods, my brain replaced it with shaken cat litter right after our tabby dropped a load of "business". Thankfully, this woman didn't have to know anything like that about me beyond the contents of this "examination". "I would open the window for anyone who could smell the eggs," I said. "Afterwards, I would investigate what was making the smell and set out to stop it from stinking up the house—"

Ms. Miwa put her pen to paper. "I see."

"You didn't let me finish."

"You don't have to say anything else. Let's move on to the next question."

I sighed. "Fine."

"What would you order at a fancy restaurant?"

The last time I checked the clock on my phone, I wanted to bury my face in my hands and scream. I never realized how late in the day I came here. Despite having had dinner two hours earlier at five in the afternoon, my stomach rumbled. Damn this strange woman for mentioning eating at a time like this. "I have been craving a nice, juicy burger—"

"Steak. Got it."

I huffed. "You didn't say there wouldn't be burgers."

Ms. Miwa scanned her page. She ran a hand through her straightened hair. "Maybe," she replied, "I should have read the possible answers to you. Do you like steak, Ms. Brown? Or would seafood be more up your alley?"

"Would you rather hear good or bad news first?"

"I have had a bad habit of doomscrolling online, so I guess I'm inclined toward—"

"Okay."

"You're being hasty, ma'am. Could you let me finish my—"

Ms. Miwa tilted her head. "Ironic how you say I am when you have scored three points in "Hasty" so far. If you wanted a job as a typist, wouldn't you want to slow down so you could process new information?"

"Fine," I said. "Forget I said anything. Go ahead and ask more of your questions. I could always let you blacklist me from returning to your company, right?"

"I doubt you would want to leave if you saw more of what a job here offers. Get comfortable. We have much more to go through. ...You find a locked box and have a key to open said box. Do you—"

"Open it straight away? Where is this box located? Should I be taking precautions—"

"That's enough," Ms. Miwa said. She shook her head and jotted something down.

I gulped. Me and my big mouth. Still, why couldn't she allow me answer a question in full detail? This quiz didn't seem to be as multiple-choice as she suggested it to be. "So-sorry, ma'am."

"I wish I could be alone on vacation," I answered. "Between current events and how my family is…"

"You don't have to say anything more, dear."

I shrank. Of course my big mouth got ahead of me! "Ye-yes, ma'am," I said. "Sorry again, ma'am. It won't happen again."

"I don't like being late for anything. I, uh, struggled in school and college. Despite that, I don't study often. Trying to memorize something that doesn’t interest me causes me tons of distress. I prefer avoiding it when I can.”

"I would feel terrible if someone called me "weird but funny". Being "normal" has always been difficult for me..."

Ms. Miwa nodded along with each of my answers. She kept writing. Sometimes I could catch glimpses of the page but I couldn't read any of it. Miwa had a penchant for drawing these weird loops, angular lines, and the occasional dot. Could she not be taking notes and be doodling animal paws instead?

"...If you'd let me build on my previous answer, I'm "weird but funny" anyway. Most jokes I tell outside of written text fall flat."

"...I hate when someone is super late to anything we planned together. It can cause me anxiety if the meeting we're supposed to have is important…"

"We've arrived at the final question," Ms. Miwa said.

"Thank goodness," I replied, deflating. Finally. After I answered this, I would be free to go home and flop into bed. I needed a good night's rest if I was resuming my search for a job tomorrow. "What's the question?"

"Ms. Brown," she said, "how would spending a pleasant day outdoors feel about now?"

"I don't spend much time outdoors, but I guess I'd like to wake up to see a "pleasant" day." I glanced out a shuttered window to the side of the room. "I'm starting to wonder if the Sun is a myth after how cloudy this last month has been."

A quiet few seconds passed between us.

Ms. Miwa's pen hovered over her note page. "Is that all you would like to say?"

"Yes, uh, ma'am?"

She scribbled on her page. "I suppose the interview is over. Allow me to go over these results with you."

"Are you meaning to tell me you've been recording my answers this whole time?" I said. "Seemed like you were doodling to me."

A peculiar grin grew on her lips. "Nope!" she exclaimed. "Here, let me see something before I start." She reached an arm toward me. Before I knew it, her fingers laced with mine. I froze at how cool her skin felt against my own. Either she had been sitting in this air-conditioned room for a long time or I was about to erupt into flames.

"Ma-ma'am," I said, "what are you doing?"

She chuckled. "Don't worry. This won't hurt. Look at your palm."

"What about… My palm?"

One thing I learned about my interviewer today was how she had more than one way of startling me to silence. A blue glow emanated in the space between our hands. It faded in and out, out and in, and reversed again as quick as a bullet. My palm throbbed as if it pulsated with my heart.

"What,” I said, my fingers twitching under Ms. Miwa's grip, “is this?"

"I'm reading your aura," she said. "This provides us with a deeper understanding of you in case—"

I shot from my seat. "M-my aura?! You're meaning to tell me this blue glow is magic?” Oh, that did it. No wonder why the quiz-test thing she gave me was absurd. This office job they offered was utter, putrid bullshit. This wasn’t a legitimate business. How could I have fallen for such an obvious scam?

I yanked my hand free from hers. "I'm wasting my time here," I growled, "when I could be at the grocery store at the commons on the other side of town. I should have listened to the voice in my head who said I would be way better at stocking shelves than I would be at typing." I never even learned the "proper" way to use a keyboard. My thumbs typing on a phone screen had always been good enough for me.

"But isn't writing a hobby of yours, Ms. Agatha Brown?"

I froze mid-turn. I remembered mentioning my past with writing in my application here. Never did I say anything about loving it. Neither had I… "Ho-how do you know my middle name?!"

"We've learned much about you since we came here," Ms. Miwa said, getting to her feet. Her hand continued to glow blue. The light didn't come from a device. They emitted from the creases in her palm. "I also know you’ve grown to dislike your first name. That’s why I referred to you as Agatha. We've been searching for those such as yourself to bring to our world."

"Are you kidding me?" I said. Bumps in my skin spread up and down my arms. The hairs on the ends spiked like pins on a furious porcupine. "This is all a joke, right? You're filming some stupid prank show and dashed a girl's hopes of making money—"

"To pay for your internet after you lost federal funding for college? Doesn't it relate to a debt you're unable to pay?"

My fists slammed into my sides. "The last time I checked, my personal life wasn't public knowledge. I stopped posting on social media a long time ago. And I mean long.”

"You have found time and time again you have difficulty interacting even in a virtual environment. Isn't it why you quit online schooling? Since then, your life has stagnated. Having new experiences in a new environment would help you to grow. What would you say to that?"

"What sorts of new things are we talking about? Why would you offer them to me?"

"Don't be mistaken," Ms. Miwa said. "You are not special. You would be one of many if you listened to me and left for this new world. Have you by chance heard of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon?" The blue aura in her hand dispersed. "Oh, never mind. You don't have to answer that question. We know you remember our world. You played the games and are aware of how the story usually goes. Humans turn into creatures who are capable of amazing feats. Your people's past with us is what inspired our king to send us to your world and seek help from those such as yourself.

"I find it strange how you didn't recognize any of the questions from the quiz. When was the last time you played those games, Agatha?"

"Pokémon?" I said. Much less Mystery Dungeon? "You can't be serious. Pokémon aren't real."

Ms. Miwa lifted an arm. Her fingers bunched together. "Is that so?" she said. "I was hoping you'd catch on by now."

I lurched forward. "Look, lady. If you think I'm going to believe a media franchise introduced to the world by some guy in Japan is real, then you have—"

I stopped as a smoky white mist sizzled across Miwa's palm. She smiled at me, and her thumb went off against her fingers. Snap.

"Ta-dah!"


The smoke cleared. I reached for the ancient pair of glasses sliding down my nose and pushed them back over my eyes. I went as still as a cornered animal. "Wh-what...?"

In front of me was a small pink creature with a tinier snout. It pressed its forehead to mine. Two soft and round paws nudged my cheeks while it grinned like a madman on illegal substances. The long tail behind it twitched. "Recognize me?" it squeaked, accompanied by its voice cracking on "me". Its childlike voice didn't lean toward being male or female. The tone landed somewhere in the middle where it was enough not to make my sensitive ears bleed, but enough regardless for me to cringe and lean into my chair.

My head throbbed. I grabbed at the back of my aching neck. "Yo-you're…"

The creature nodded. "Using telepathy? Yep! Hey, tell me. What's my name?" It beared down on my cheeks. "Come on. I know you know it!"

“Uh…”

A catlike ear on the top of its head twitched. It turned its head, and its bright smile fell into an open-mouthed frown. "Someone is coming down the hallway. We should go before I blow my cover. I mean, you came in right as we were closing today!"

"...Lucky me?"

“Lucky you indeed! Here, I'll teleport us outside. You might think clearer with fresh air." It lifted its tiny forearms off my face. Another light appeared before me. The soft blue glow spread around us in a tight circle.

"Wa-wait," I said, spinning around. At some point during my "interview", I had left my bag on the floor by my chair. "Mew, I need my—"

"Yay! You guessed my name!"

Its light consumed us both.

When the glare from the teleport faded, I opened my eyes and shuddered. As my vision cleared, the tiny pink Pokémon who brought us outside watched me from under a streetlamp. It hovered to my side as I lifted my chin.

"There we go," it said before it spun to me. "I can't believe it! People have been in and out of the office all day today and I haven't found one human we could send to my world. Victini found two and started bragging he beat me for once and I couldn't stand it, but then you came along and—"

"Whoa!" I said, flashing my palms at the little creature. "Hey. Slow down. Please."

"Okay, Aggie. I'll wait until you're ready to talk about the results."


"Ye-yeah," I said. "Sure.”

Mew vanished into thin air.

Following this, a tingle went down my spine. So much happened so fast I still needed to process it. Who the hell goes in for a job and gets accosted by a cat-thing who threw a quiz at you? Much less a quiz based on…?

I glanced in the direction of where the thing— No, Pokémon? Holy shit— No, Mew disappeared. I swallowed a lungful of air. As silence filled the void it left behind, I stepped into a gloom unbroken only by street lamps.
 
Last edited:
Chapter Two: Results
Pronouns
She, Her/Hers
Posting the other chapter now so it's up-to-date with the version you would find elsewhere!

My world had gone silent for the first time in five years. There would be nobody shouting at or arguing with me over the tiniest details anymore. They were all replaced by the howling sound of the wind. It rippled across my… Fur? I groaned and moved a leg behind me. It swiped across a surface which bent like paper under my weight. The surface seemed to rustle like shredded paper too. I knew paper more than I knew grass, I supposed. I had a soft spot for paper before I discovered the joys of writing on a phone or laptop.

Another gust blew around me. I shivered at its intensity. A part of me wondered how my new body would adjust to cooler weather. Then again, I didn't even know how long I would remain in this new world. I agreed to this on a whim. If I died, I would be allowed to go home while someone else filled my nonexistent shoes. My interviewer may have been friendly with me, but they already summoned tons of other humans. At the end of the day, they must have seen us as expendable.

My other back leg trembled. The string-like appendage I spotted with a tuft at the end came from my backside. I wasn't surprised by this. The one who sent me here gave me plenty of time to adjust to the idea of becoming a Pokémon. What I had to do now was get used to this new body. I lost the ability to walk on two legs. Even worse, I lost my thumbs. Perhaps I wouldn't be struggling with what I had agreed to if my chosen form had been bipedal, or—

I opened my eyes. The green stuff beneath my front paws were indeed blades of grass. Some of them were tall enough to reach past my neck and rub my chin. I lifted my head out of their reach. All around me were brown trees with lanky leafy branches reaching for the sky. I supposed Mew dropped me in the middle of a forest. If I were a wild Pokémon, I could have chosen to settle here. Just thinking about venturing into the darkness got my tail swishing. I positioned a rounded limb in the grass and straightened it. I followed it with my front right leg and used them both to pull me into an upward dog position. My back arched inward. I grunted at the pressure it placed on my hips.

"I can do this," I murmured, pulling the extra leg on the left side of my body upright. I extended it behind me. Right away, the pressure on my hips increased. I grunted again and pulled my leg inward so I could readjust the others. This, I figured, would accommodate for its eventual fall.

I breathed a sigh of relief when my previous duress faded. Good. I had this right. I hope. My last leg fell into the grass when the first three had gone as straight as I could make them. Each of the stubs at the ends of my limbs wobbled. They weren't meant to have the dexterity of regular old critter paws. Either I would have to perform a fraction of what I used to do with human hands with my mouth... Or I would have to learn how to use my stumps in a limited way.

Something behind me slapped against the ground and reminded me of its existence. I lifted my tail into the air to have a second look at it. Then I lifted my front left paw. My knee bent upward and plowed into something soft enclosing my chest. When I gazed down, I discovered two smooth patches of purple fur over my chest. The fur extended past my line of sight when I glanced over my shoulders and went as low at my front as a scoop neckline in a shirt. Or would a neck pillow be a better analogy? What confused me more were the four spheres, two on each side of my fur, dangling on thin strings.

I lifted my left leg ahead of my right. My back legs did the same with the order reversed. I exhaled and, with as much care as I would give to a newborn baby, I let them fall. They plopped into the grass and sat there as I watched. "You need to move these in diagonals," I mumbled, "not parallels." After this tumbled from my mouth, I swallowed and lifted my other legs. "Yo-you can do this, me. Start by walking to that forest path."

Said path made of dirt stretched passed the treeline a few feet from where I awoke. Perhaps it would lead me to civilization?

"Number six..." Mew stopped and tilted their head at the short digits they held up at me. "Uh… Maybe you could imagine I have six fingers on one hand until I get to number three. Standing at number six, though, is Treecko! Given your age, you would have been reborn as Grovyle instead. What do you think?"

My jaw dropped. "I-I love Grovyle! He was awesome in the Explorers games." I grew up with the Rescue Team duo and enjoyed them more. My only gripe when it came to playing Grovyle was how washed out they made his species' sprite. Treecko and Sceptile were bright green. Grovyle was gray. How in the world could they have messed up its palette?

"You scored one point for Treecko and Grovyle. You, um, never struck me as the hardy type..."

"Number five! Wartortle! You scored one point in boldness. You're not shy when you're sure you know what you want. Am I right? Oh, and if you were a Wartortle, you would have an extended lifespan!"

"I guess," I said. "Wartortle wouldn't be bad. The shell would be a pain, but I like the idea of living for hundreds of years."

"Near immortality has its ups and downs. Mostly ups. I have a lot of family like me who are immortal. You can't go wrong with family, right?" Sometimes you could, but I wasn't about to correct it. My family would drive themselves insane if we found we were all immortal. It was difficult enough for me to engage with them every day. I couldn't see our dynamics changing after thousands or, hell, millions of years. "Character development", at least for them, was a myth.

"Whose number four?" I said.

"Combusken. Did you know the boy who solved the natural disaster crisis came to my world as a Torchic? His name was Gin— Oh, your facial expression! Do you know him? Did he tell other humans what he did for us?"

"I've never seen a kid getting on the news for claiming Pokémon were real. We would all think he was delusional if he tried."

"You thought stories like his were fictional?! No wonder everyone I've met since I came here was shocked when I revealed myself. I can't believe you humans don't treat your heroes like, well, heroes!"


"If my world had been certain yours existed, we would have done or said something about it by now."

"Number three," Mew said, finally showing me an accurate count with a three-digit paw, "is Bayleef."

"I'd be on the fence about being a Bayleef. While it can use its vines like human hands, it has a long neck. I like having mine close to the rest of me. ...Does this make any sense at all? Uh, sorry."

"I can see you as docile! You seem to get along with a lot of people."

I rolled my eyes. "As long as they don't annoy me to death. What's next?"

"You're doing something right if they still like you. They all seem to treat you well! You should try reaching out to those around you instead of hiding from them."

"Number two is Monferno. You scored some points in "impish"."

"Me? Mischievous? I don't see it."

"I agree. You don't cause anybody trouble unless you feel wronged. Sometimes the quiz we give is kinda weird when it comes to things like this. We haven't had to reassign anyone's ultimate Pokémon yet. Either we've been lucky or the quiz just works."

"Wrong or not, it somehow beat out Combusken and Bayleef. Monferno isn't bad, but I'd rather be a flaming chicken than a flaming ape."

On a Friday evening that should have come and gone, Mew granted me a new life. Now here I stood staring at the new world around me. A crescent moon glowed a golden color as it dominated the navy blue skies.

An unusual calm once again settled over me as I fumbled across the clearing. Normally the girl I was would be driving herself insane from having everything thrown at her at once. Was my reaction caused by me being a hobbyist author who saw many isekais in her "prime"? I did write a lot, and I mean a lot, of stories about traveling the multiverse to escape my life in the past. Could I have grown so in love with the idea of leaving my life behind that I grew fatigued with it?

"We've reached number one. You are as hasty to act upon urges. You don't often stop to reflect on how your actions would affect you and your environment. The snppy decisions you make have often led to you disappointing yourself. Yet your haste can be good in emergencies. You seem to treat them with the urgency they deserve.

"Being unaware of the ways of the world isn't a bad thing either. You would see your future burning bright even if society crumbled around you. Your hope for something different must be another reason why we found you today. You sought to change when you found you couldn't withstand another day living as you have. That is evolution.

"You are someone who does what she wants when she wants and avoids conflict when she can. As a child, you lived without much knowledge of the wider world and thrived in a closed environment. It would do you good to learn more about yourself through exploring a new realm. Maybe you could outgrow your lonesome nature if you make some friends!"

"What if I'm not destined to save the world? What if I have as hard of a time becoming pals with Pokémon as I do with humans?"

"You have a chance to try something new. You can't squander this opportunity. I promise it will be worth it."

"Oh yeah? What if I made friends and, by the skin of my teeth, I saved the world, but you forced me to leave them because of "reasons"? Most humans have had to abandon their new lives when they succeeded in their mission. Should I even mention the people brought in during the Bittercold crisis? Because of the rules there, no one in your world remembers them like they remember the human who did destroy the Bittercold."

"Are you sure you would be comfortable becoming a Pokémon? A new body where you walk on four legs instead of two would take time to get used to. I know I sprung this quiz and the idea of leaving out of nowhere, but we Pokémon don't know what sort of threat we're facing. Even if you go to my world and decide to strike out alone, could you help us in any way you can? Please?

"Pretty please?"

"Are you ready, Agatha? Remember, if you don't like the final result, I have to erase your memories of ever meeting me."

"Well, if I hate it, I could always pick up a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game and cheat my way into being a Treecko, right?"

"That's dishonest! You should always play as whoever you get first on the quiz. The Pokémon you get is a reflection of who you are."

"Is that true if the questions are randomized whenever you start a new game? ...Ugh. Never mind my rambling. Go ahead and tell me who I am, Mew.”

"What you are is a normal-type Pokémon."

"Don't tell me I'm an Eevee. I'll admit they're cute, but everybody seems to be sick of it nowadays." The same went for other popular starters such as Riolu and Vulpix. They were "cliched", or so I heard from the wider fandom.

"You aren't an Eevee. You match with one of its personality types, but you've passed the "age" of evolution. I would be wary of turning you into an eeveelution."

"Why?"

"They have separate personality values I don't quite understand. You wouldn't want to be told you were an Eevee, but awaken later as something you dislike, would you? I've erased quite a few memories when humans complained about being a Flareon or Leafeon.”

Oh. Perhaps I wouldn't see many humans as eeveelutions unless they were children. I almost breathed a sigh of relief for escaping the trap. The only thing worse than being part of a sea of Eevee would be hating myself more because I ended up an Eevee. And besides, I would prefer to choose my final evolution. None of Eevee's final forms appealed to me as Umbreon and Glaceon did.

"So I'm a Meowth— Uh, Persian?"


"You're not relaxed enough to be a Persian."

"What about Munchlax?"

"You're not as jolly as Munchlax nor can I imagine you as a Snorlax."

I... Wouldn't have wanted to be a Snorlax anyway. I liked the idea of being quick and nimble. So the last normal type starter I could get in Mystery Dungeon was...

A thumbless— Scratch that, pawless cat. Even if I kept my bag when Mew sent me here, I wouldn't be able to use the things inside. My phone? I couldn't be as precise as I once was with tapping the screen. My glass water bottle? I couldn't screw off the cap! Pencil and notebook? Again, no thumbs.

"I agreed to this," I said. The clump at the end of my tail flicked at the grass. "This is my life now." And if I out of an unknown amount of other humans saved the world? "This might be my life forever."

I may never have to go home again.

I came to a stop when the grass beneath me changed to loose grains of tan gravel. "You can do this. You'll be okay. If anything, by the end of this, you'll have survived worse."

I wouldn't like it all. I might even lash out depending on the context. But I could survive being yelled at for doing or being proven wrong. Cursing wouldn't phase me. My family swore all the time. General insults? I rarely got those from others outside of my family. Though when I did, they took me by surprise. Sometimes I forgot people I didn't know could be jerks. And though injuries could deter me, I was a Pokémon now. Pokémon were built to take attacks and power through them until they dropped from exhaustion.

"Well, here we go."

Energy surged through my body like lightning bolts. When it wormed into my legs, I threw myself forward. My leap, powered by force and a massive loss in weight, flung me into the woods. Evergreen trees I dashed by shone in the moonlight filtering through their intertwining branches. The ability to see them this way would be the work of my new eyes, a sense within me answered as if I asked. They were meant for trekking a world cloaked in darkness.

"Let's do this!"

Goodbye, old me. You were fun until real life came knocking. You weren’t ready to be a responsible adult with bills to pay and grumpy middle-aged folks to deal with. If the pandemic never happened, you would still be grinding for college credits. Goodbye, old life. Unless a legendary saw fit to send my sister along, I never wanted to hear from it again. And hello, Pokémon. You're an old love of mine only overthrown thrice by other interesting fandoms. Hello, Mystery Dungeon. You're a series I grew to love after playing the games starting with Blue Rescue Team. Hello, new me. You sure toe the line between "prim" and "uninhibited".

I never fantasized about being a cat. As a kid, I wanted to be an overpowered Pikachu like Ash Ketchum's. My first player character in Blue Rescue Team was a Treecko. Once or twice, I fantasized about being an equine Pokémon like Ponyta or Mudbray after shallow dives into My Little Pony as a young teen. Never in my life had I imagined I would be a—

Delcatty.
 
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