Our journey continued uneventfully for a while. We came across a couple of trainers here and there, sometimes battling, sometimes just passing with a word of greeting. I didn't understand Kerra; he claimed to hate Pokemon, yet he had incredible technique with them and never lost. True, he could just focus on grass Pokemon - he seemed to like florae - but he must have some knowledge of other Pokemon to know which to use.
I was about average - won some, lost some. My Pokemon were getting stronger though.
Every lake we came too, Terri would fish at, hoping to find a Dratini. Kerra would lecture her about how Dratini were practically extinct, but that never stopped her. Those two had cooled off a little and weren't constantly at each other's throats - I guess they were used to each other.
"Kerra, where are we?" asked Terri, finally. We hadn't talked about navigation for days.
"You expect me to know?"
"This is promising," I groaned.
"So you have no earthly idea where we could be?"
He rolled his eyes. "Well, we haven't covered any great lengths of water yet, so it's safe to assume we are still on the island."
"But we haven't seen any civilisation for days."
"Why're you complaining at me? I'm not leading us!"
They both turned to look at me.
"Ehehh. I'm sure we'll come to some place soon. See? I think I see a house over there."
I pointed to a faint patch of colour through the trees.
I was trying to fob them off, but as we walked forward a little more, I realised it actually WAS a house. But not civilisation; just a large, lonely house in the middle of the forest.
"What do you think it is?" asked Terri.
"Well, the sign "House of Imité" would suggest it's a house of imité."
We looked at each other for a moment.
"I guess we could try going in..."
I took a step forward, but was scared stiff by someone suddenly appearing in front of me. A tall man, holding some sort of Pokemon.
"Wha - what was that?"
"Sorry if I scared you," said the man. "I had my Abra teleport me in. I didn't want to miss one of Duplica's shows!"
He turned to enter the house.
Quick, heavy footsteps sounded, and a girl galloped up on a Rapidash. She pulled up beside us and leapt off with the grace of an expert rider.
"Ah'm not too late, am I?" she asked, in a Southern drawl, pushing a few strands of blue hair from her face. "Ah came as soon as ah heard there was gonna be a show on today."
"I don't think you're too late," I said uncertainly, "mind if we come with you?"
"Sure, it's a free world. Besides, best parta these shows is, they're free!"
"Good news," said Terri in relief.
We waited as she tethered her Pokemon to a tree, and then followed the girl into the mansion. Inside, we found a small crowd, waiting for whatever show this was to start. We took seats near the front, and since it was all so big, decided to bring out Pokemon out to watch too. I figured it had to be Pokemon friendly, a lot of people in the audience had theirs with them.
The Rapidash rider brought out a Growlithe, who settled awkwardly onto her lap (taking up most of the adjoining seat also). She was the first person who had all Pokemon I recognised.
Suddenly, spotlights clicked on and the curtains behind the stage swung back.
"Ladies and gentlemen," came a young female voice, "thank you all for coming today. Now please sit back and enjoy some great imitation!"
A girl with green hair - Duplica, I guessed - appeared with a pink blob.
"Ditto, transform!" she commanded. The blob shimmered and twisted itself into a perfect clone of Duplica. Even the sparkle in the eyes was identical.
The duo proceeded to perform a number of tricks, and imitated a number of different Pokemon. Duplica was very quick and managed to change clothes in a matter of seconds to imitate people also.
Then she called, "I need a volunteer from the audience!"
Terri immediately put up her hand, while Kerra and I looked away, pretending not to know her. Nobody else had moved.
"A POKEMON volunteer, that is."
"Well, prima donna," I said to Clefairy, "I think that's aimed at you."
Clefairy grinned, flapped its wings, and flew awkwardly onto the stage.
"Thanks very much! Now, let me show you the true power of a Ditto!"
"Duplica's a Ditto Master," whispered the Growlithe girl, "she's an expert with all types a transformation."
Ditto twisted its form, and became an exact replica of my Pokemon.
"Fairy?" said Clefairy, bewildered.
"Fairy?" echoed Ditto-Clefairy.
I was impressed. This seemed like a pretty cool Pokemon.
Duplica began a short speech about Ditto training, but I wasn't listening. I was watching the two Clefairies, who were staring at each other, and occasionally saying something.
"Although Ditto may seem like a weak Pokemon at first, raising them is a rewarding and valuable experience. It requires a trainer to be -"
My Clefairy growled at Ditto-Clefairy, before slapping it. Ditto-Clefairy looked sorrowfully up at it.
"Your Clefairy has SUCH a lovely demeanor," laughed Terri.
"Seems like Clefairy wants a fight," said Duplica, "what better way to show off a Ditto's true power? Clefairy's trainer - come up here!"
Red with embarassment, I climbed up onto the stage, and tried to pick Clefairy up. It scratched me.
"HEY! You didn't have to do that! Stop being so bad tempered!"
"I don't care if it looks just like you! It's NOT threatening you!"
Duplica laughed. "Are you up for a battle?"
I wasn't, no way. Not in front of an audience. Not on stage. Not with Clefairy.
"Okay," I said.
"Let's go then!"
Clefairy launched eagerly at its clone, slapping out, but Ditto stepped back.
"Clefairy, clefairy," it chanted, before sending a spray of fine bubbles at Clefairy.
My Pokemon cringed as the bubbles popped in its face. I cringed too. Clefairy looked even angrier.
"Faaaaaairy," it snarled, leaping onto its opponent and clawing it.
It ignored me and kept swiping its opponent. Some of the audience laughed.
"Well, I'm glad you're finding this so amusing," I muttered.
"Ditto," said Duplica, not in the least worried, "metronome again!"
This time, Ditto-Clefairy dodged Clefairy's grip, took a running leap, and bulldozed its way into Clefairy, sending it sprawling.
Clefairy groaned - kind of cute, if it weren't so obnoxious - and pried itself up.
"Finish it off with doubleslap, Ditto!"
Ditto was too fast, and sent my Pokemon into a dazed faint.
Everyone applauded, and I recalled Clefairy.
"Everyone," she addressed the audience, "a Ditto master has to know the techniques, strengths and weaknesses of every Pokemon there is. Against a real Ditto master, most Pokemon and Pokemon trainers - especially amateurs - will have no problem winning."
"Well then," spoke up Kerra, standing, "you'll not beat me in a hurry."
"Would you like to battle?" asked Duplica, eyes sparkling.
"I guess," he said, feigning nonchalance, "dunno if it's worth my effort."
"Wait, Kerra," I said, "I want to beat her first."
"But isn't Clefairy your best Pokemon?"
I smiled. "Any technique has a flaw."
I ran into the stands, picked up my Pokemon of choice, and returned to the stage.
"Okay Ditto Master, let's try this again."
Kerra laughed, seeing my strategy. "I can't wait to see this!"
Duplica stared in confusion. "What is that?"
"Oh, you don't want to fight?"
"I didn't say that! Ditto, transform!"
The Clefairy turned into a mirror image of my Omanyte.
"Janken," I said.
"Water beats rock. Water is rock. Omanyte, water gun!"
Duplica stared at me, but didn't really get what I was saying. It was so obvious she had never encountered an Omanyte before. Omanyte's water gun did a reasonable amount of damage, I think.
"Okay," she said, mimicking me - the only technique she could use, "water gun, Omanyte."
"Withdraw into your shell," I said quickly. The spray hit Omanyte's shell, but didn't have an impact on the Pokemon itself.
"Horn attack!" I commanded. "Don't go for the shell, get inside!"
Omanyte's large eyes glittered, and spikes suddenly shot from its shell. It charged at Ditto, crashing right into its face.
The Omanyte clone squeaked, and glowed, taking its own form again. Ditto fainted.
"Wow," Duplica said. That summed it up pretty well. The audience was kind of stunned. I grinned, happy to let them think I was an excellent trainer.
Duplica wound her show down pretty quickly after that. I guess talking about how wonderful Ditto are is kind of ridiculous when offset by the fact that your own specimen is lying on the ground unconscious.
She came up to us after the show.
"I'm very impressed," she admitted, "I thought you were just another newbie trainer when I first saw you."
"Great, thanks," I said, conveniently leaving out the fact that she was right on the mark.
"I think you should be careful with your Omanyte," she suddenly said, "it's a really rare Pokemon. Team Rocket might take it, or scientists or even the Pokemon League, if they think they need to study it."
"Team Rocket already tried to take it," I said, "and the Pokemon League doesn't steal from trainers, does it?"
"Well, no, but they might not think of it as stealing. Anyway, just... be careful."
We turned to leave, waving to her. She seemed nice enough after all.
"I still say I coulda beaten her," said Kerra.
"Since when did you become interested in Pokemon battles?"
"I've reached the peak of my research into Ivysaurs," he said haughtily, "I particularly need to examine the flower after it blooms."
"You know," said Terri, "we really need a Rapidash like that girl had. Think how fast we could get around then!"
"Yeah, and think how quickly we'd get incinerated," added Kerra.
"They don't burn anyone they like."
"They'd burn you for sure, then!"
She stuck her tongue out and grinned.
And as always, we kept walking.
"The House of Imite is sort of to the south here," mused Kerra, trying to find our general location. His head was buried in the huge map, and he walked unsteadily. "If we head north-west just a little, we should come to -"
"Hey, look up," said Terri.
Kerra lowered the map and sweatdropped. A gate right in front of us read "Saffron City".
"Okay, I was GOING to say we should come to Fuchsia City, but this is good enough," he said.
"I think nobody in this whole group has any sense of direction," I said, "but who cares. Let's get some sane food for once."
The two followed my lead and we ran eagerly, back in civilisation.