So here's the thing, when you become a Pokemon trainer and go off on your big journey, if you're smart, you get a map first. But when you look at these maps, all people ever really put on them are the big cities and towns, the ones where the Gyms are. That's what everyone's really interested in, after all; you don't know about all the dozens of little towns and villages that are everywhere in between, not unless you come from one of them.

Me? I'm from Clearwater Town. You can laugh, but in a world where everyone likes their names literal, we're probably one of the most apt. We sit on one of the biggest reservoirs in the Johto region. Maybe like seventy-five percent of the water in the area comes from our town, but because we don't have a Gym and we don't sit between them, no one really remembers us. We do okay, though. Most people set out from Clearwater and come back after a year or two of traveling. Maybe they've picked up a few extra pokemon, maybe they haven't, but they almost always come back to settle. Don't get me wrong, we're not that big and we're not that famous, but Clearwater's a great place to live. The air is as clean as anything you'd get in the mountains and like I said, the water's clearer than crystal. We have one of the largest populations of Wooper and Quagsire in the entire region, actually. If you check the Pokedex Complete that Professor Elm released a couple of months back, you can see that they only live where the water is cleaner than clean, but any Clearwater person could've told you that, without some fancy title.

A few years ago, though, this group came to Clearwater. They wanted to set up a water-pokemon Gym, their boss said. He said his name was Aquavit and he had a Feraligatr with him, so I guess he was trying to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. He spent days holed up with the mayor and the head of the aquifer, but all the construction plans basically involved lots of heavy-duty work, and some pumping of the water out of the Wooper's lake to the Gym-in-planning. Aquavit's vision included something like three stories and water everywhere. It looked like the sort of thing Goldenrod City would be proud to call its own. No one in Clearwater was really happy with it, though; it was the sort of thing that'd ruin the water here, people said, and that was always bad luck. After a while, you could tell Aquavit was getting really fed up. He started sulking around more and sending his goonies to the meetings instead. He'd go down to the lakes where the Wooper and Quagsire lived and stand there for hours and hours. Sometimes he'd gnash his teeth. If one swam up to him, he'd send his Feraligatr after them. It must've been a pretty high level, because even though they were the same water-type, I'd see him one-shotting even the older Quagsire who came to investigate him.

Nearly six months after he first came, though, Aquavit declared that negotiations were over. He was going to build a Gym in Clearwater, no matter what. He had the money to hire people and override our protests, and he had the manpower to keep people silent. Within days we were overrun by dozens upon dozens of men and women in black uniforms. And while we're a small town, no one's stupid, we figured out pretty quickly what was going on. But there wasn't a whole lot we could do--they set up some kind of radio jamming signal and people patrolled the town's streets day and night; there was no real way we could get the message out. Some of us had pokemon who could fight, but against that many people? What could would that do? So we were pretty resigned to seeing our town ruined and this fake Gym built so that Team Rocket could take over the water supply. Who knows what they were going to do with it?

I remember going to bed and hearing my parents talking about it--my mom was worried and my dad was angry. I had my window open because it was a warm night, but only a little bit because I didn't want any Rocket peeking in while I was sleeping. In the distance I could hear the Quagsire croaking. There were a lot of them, I remember thinking, more than I'd ever heard before--it was almost enough to be annoying, but I'd grown up listening to Quagsire and Woopers every night. When you're used to it, I guess even if it's worse than usual, you can eventually fall asleep.

When I woke up the next morning, though, the Rockets were almost all gone. Their stuff was still left behind in the rooms they'd commandeered throughout the town, and more than a few of their pokemon were found wandering aimlessly. The whole town amassed a search for them, because we couldn't believe they'd just leave without even taking their pokemon--and after they'd bullied us into this position? That was impossible. We searched for nearly the whole day, and just as it was starting to get dark, we found a single Rocket Grunt, huddled about as far away from the construction site as you could get and still be in Clearwater Town. When he caught sight of me in particular though, with my own Quagsire, he screamed and went running straight into the tall grass. Some of the people wanted to go after them, but the mayor said that it would be better if we got rid of the stuff that the Rockets had left behind--why make anything easier for them, right? We could dismantle their jamming tower and send for the proper authorities. If they happened to find him along the way, so much the better. It made sense to us, so we started splitting up, heading back home.

I went the long way. My Quagsire waddled with me, so we went at his pace, down by the water so I could pick some fresh reeds for his bed. I could hear the wild Quagsire croaking again--not as loudly as the night before, but still more than usual. By the time we got to the water it was almost completely dark, and all the light was from the moon, the stars, and the lights of the town. I knew this road well, though, and my Quagsire was a loyal pokemon and good swimmer. I wasn't afraid of falling in, so I waded into the water with my pants rolled to my knees and started picking reeds.

As I did, I saw something float to the surface. It was a black shirt with a big red R printed on the front. As I watched, a wild Quagsire's head rose up with it, and I saw that the neck-part of the shirt was firmly in the Quagsire's mouth, which was clamped shut. I stopped to watch. More and more wild Quagsire began to emerge from the water, their little beady eyes gleaming in the dark, and I saw that some of them also had jackets, and others had nothing visible, but their cheeks were bulging outwards. All of them were croaking noisily too, and I wanted to take a step back, but I found myself frozen in fear.

Then my Quagsire gave his own little rattling croak, and the others fell silent. He waddled up and patted my knee with his flipper, burbling at me, his customary smile in place as always. There was a long silence, and then, slowly as they'd come, the wild Quagsire began to sink back into the water. Their eyes never left me the whole time, though, round as the full moon and gleaming about as brightly. The last one to go was the first one who'd appeared, and it opened its mouth to bleat at me as it sank down. There was something else in that big gaping mouth that wasn't its tongue, but I've never tried to think about that too closely.

When it was gone, though, I sloshed out of the water with my Quagsire. He seemed pleased with himself, and we walked at his pace back home, where I gave him extra fish for dinner that night.

I haven't slept with my windows open ever since, though. I'm thinking about moving to Goldenrod City, once I'm old enough. Somewhere that big and that industrialized doesn't have much clean water around at all. And I think the extra expense of buying the bottled stuff for my Quagsire will be worth the extra peace of mind at night.
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