Chapter 2: Forming a Team

Ian followed Martha up the stairs of the cliff and they both stopped in front of the Wigglytuff-looking tent with the iron gate. Martha turned to him and said, "This is Wigglytuff's Guild. To form an exploration team, you need to register your team here. Then you have to train until you become a first-rate exploration team."

She turned back to the building and shuddered, "Isn't this place just a little bit odd? It just is!"

Ian looked at the guild as well. It was about as threatening as a ball of fluff compared to the things he'd seen. Putting that aside, he said, "I can't argue that it isn't odd-looking, but it's nothing to be scared of."

Martha turned to him and then nodded, "Y-you're right. I have to be brave." She stepped forward and when she stepped on the grate, a voice shouted up, "Pokémon detected! Pokémon detected!"

"Whose footprint? Whose footprint?"

"The footprint is Eevee's! The footprint is Eevee's!"

Martha yelped, but managed to stay in place this time. 'I can't lose it now,' she thought.

After a brief pause, the second, lower voice said, "You may ENTER! Someone's with you! So get that stranger to stand up THERE!"

Martha hurried off the grate and said, "I think they mean you, Ian. They said to stand up there."

Ian looked down at the grate covering the hole in the ground. From the previous conversation, he assumed that somebody down in the hole identified Pokémon by the footprint. Shrugging, Ian stepped on the grate as well.

The same conversation ensued, but there seemed to be a problem.

Down in the hole, a small Pokémon was staring at the footprint that he saw, trying to figure out who it belonged to.

"The footprint is… The footprint is… Um…"

Down the passageway, a voice shouted, "What's the matter?! Sentry! Sentry?! What's wrong, sentry Diglett?"

Diglett thought hard about what he was looking at, "Umm… Er… Umm… The footprint is… Maybe Pikachu's! Maybe Pikachu's!"

"What?! MAYBE?!"

Diglett sweat a bit as he tried to defend his response, "B-but… It's not a footprint that you normally see around here…"

The voice down the hall was not appeased, "UGH! That's pretty crummy! Checking the footprints of visiting Pokémon… That's your job, ISN'T it, Diglett?"

Diglett replied, "Yes, but… I don't know what I don't know."

Ian was starting to feel a little awkward still standing on the grate as he was listening in on the two Pokémons' discussion.

Martha leaned closer to the grate, "What? Are they arguing?"

She abruptly leaned back away when the low voice spoke up, "…Sorry to make you WAIT. Well, it's TRUE that you don't see any Pikachu in these parts… But you don't SEEM to be bad… Okay, good enough! ENTER!"

Martha jumped back as there was a rumbling sound and the gate of the building opened. "I'm so nervous, but I'm glad we're finally allowed in. My heart's pounding, though…" She gingerly stepped forward, "Anyway, let's go."

The two of them walked side-by side into the tent and saw a ladder that led underground. Martha marveled at the sight before the two of them climbed down. Once they reached the bottom, they were in a room that had two boards with, presumably, missions on them. Pokémon were all around in the room, some looking at the boards, and others discussing among themselves.

"Wow!" Martha said as they looked around, "So this is Wigglytuff's Guild! There are sure a lot of Pokémon here. Do they all belong to exploration teams?"

A voice called out, "Excuse me!" Ian and Martha turned and saw a Chatot coming from the ladder that led down further into the guild. He walked up and said, "It was you two that just came in, right?"

Martha stood up straight and said, "Y-yes!"

"I'm Chatot! I'm the Pokémon in the know around these parts. I am Guildmaster Wigglytuff's right-hand Pokémon. Now, shoo! Leave the premises! We have no time for salespeople or silly surveys. Off you go, if you please!"

Shaking her head, Martha said, "N-no! That's not why we're here! We want to form an exploration team… So we came here. We want to get proper training as an exploration team."

Chatot's eyes widened, "Wh-what?! Exploration team?"

He turned around thinking out loud, "It's rare to see a kid like this want to apprentice at the guild. Especially given how hard our training is! Surely the steady stream of Pokémon that run away from our rigorous training proves how true that is!"

Both Ian and Martha could clearly hear him. "Excuse me," Martha said worriedly. "Is the exploration team training really that harsh?"

"What?!" Chatot abruptly turned around, apparently surprised that he'd been heard, "Well… no! No, no, no! It's not true in the slightest! Our training program for exploration teams is as easy as can be!" He calmed down and smiled, "Well, well, well! I wish you had told me up front that you wanted to be an exploration team! Hee-heeee!"

The two Pokémon were slightly weirded out by Chatot's demeanor. Martha murmured, "What a shift in attitude…"

Not hearing, Chatot said, "Okay! Let's get your team signed up right away. Follow me!" He started walking away and Ian followed, but Martha looked a little shell-shocked. Chatot turned around and spotted her, "Oh, anything wrong? Come on! Over here! Quickly, please."

Once they moved down the ladder, Chatot said, "This is the guild's second underground floor. This is mainly where the apprentices work. Team registration is this way. Come along, please." The three of them walked to their left and Martha caught sight of the window and ran to get a closer look.

"Wow! We're two floors underground, but you can see outside!"

Chatot groaned and said, "Oh, please! Hush now! The guild is built into the side of a cliff. It's only natural that you would be able to see outside."

As Martha nodded and returned to the group, Ian assumed that Chatot had to explain that to a lot of new apprentices. Regardless, Chatot continued, "Now, here we are at Guildmaster Wigglytuff's chamber. On no account… I repeat, on no account should you be discourteous to our Guildmaster."

He turned towards the door and called, "Guildmaster! It's Chatot! I'm coming in!" Once he opened the door, the three Pokémon walked in and saw Wigglytuff standing and facing the back of the room, and Chatot said, "Guildmaster! I present to you two Pokémon who wish to join our guild as apprentices."

After a while of no response, Chatot said, "Guildmaster… um… Guildmaster?"

Wigglytuff abruptly turned around and said, "Hiya! I'm Wigglytuff! I'm the guild's Guildmaster!"

While Martha was slightly intimidated by Wigglytuff's presence, Ian stood there dumbfounded. 'You're kidding me… This is a leader of leaders? The leader of the best of the best guilds that trains exploration teams…?' Ian had read about some of the discoveries that Wigglytuff's Guild had made in his research of the past. To see that the leader was so… child-like, it was a bit disappointing to say the least. He knew, however, that saying that out loud would get both him and Martha swiftly kicked out, so he kept his thoughts to himself and recomposed his face into his usual passive expression.

"You want to form an exploration team? Then, let's go for it! First we must register your exploration team's name! So tell me your team's name?"

Martha said, "Oh? Our team's name? I didn't think about a team name." She turned to Ian, "What do you think would be a good name for us, Ian?"

Ian raised an eyebrow, wondering why she was asking him, but gave the question some thought anyway. He picked the name of a somewhat noteworthy exploration team that he had read about before.

"Team Rapid."

Martha thought about it for a bit, repeating the name to herself. "Team Rapid… I like it! It's a good name! It's perfect for us!"

It was the name of a team that had fallen into disgrace and then obscurity soon after formation, but it wouldn't be formed for another five years from now. That entry would either stay the same or it would change. It all depended on Martha.

Wigglytuff clapped his hands, "All settled, then! I'll register your team as Rapid." He sang, "Registering~ Registering~" Then he said, "All registered…" and shouted, "YOOM… TAH!"

There was a flash of white light as Wigglytuff shouted, and after it faded, he threw his hands up in celebration, "Congratulations! From now on, you're an official exploration team! I present you with this in commemoration." He took a golden box out and put it on the ground in front of Ian and Martha.

Martha's eyes widened in recognintion, "A Pokémon Exploration Team Kit?"

"Yup," Wigglytuff nodded. "It's what every exploration team needs. Quick, open it up." Martha did so, and there were two Explorer Badges, a Wonder Map and a Treasure Bag inside.

Martha's eyes sparkled, "Yes! There are all sorts of great items in here!"

Ian already knew what all of these items were for, so he tuned out Wigglytuff's explanation to do some thinking. 'How can I contact my partner? If I don't find him soon, he might assume the worst and carry on the mission without me. Should I try sneaking out at night when everybody's sleeping? Sentries need sleep too… Maybe I could-'

His thoughts were cut short as the Treasure Bag was put over his shoulder. He shouted in surprise, but Martha said, "One of us has to carry the Treasure Bag, and I think it should be you."

Before Ian could offer any protest, Martha gave him a flat stare and held her front paw up. Ian looked at it and then looked at his own hand. Like his former hand, it had fingers and a thumb. Small ones, but they were definitely there. He nodded and said, "Point taken."

Wigglytuff chimed in, "Have a peek inside your Treasure Bag." Ian opened the flap of the Treasure Bag, which had his Explorer Badge attached to it, and saw a Zinc Band and a Blue Bow. Wigglytuff continued, "Those two items are special. I'm sure they will help you on your adventures!"

Martha bowed her head, "Th-thank you! We'll do our best!"

Wigglytuff nodded, "Yup. But you're only apprenticing right now. So do your best… to train!"

She nodded back, "We will!" She turned to Ian, "Let's always do our best, Ian!" After Ian nodded, Martha cheered and he raised his badge in acknowledgement.

Chatot led them out of the room and down a hallway to the end and said, "This is your room." Martha stepped forward onto a pile of straw and said, "Yay! We get beds!"

Ian, however, stepped on his pile of straw gingerly. It was soft. He along with his partner often had to sleep directly on the ground since no plants grew anymore. And they could never sleep for very long. The sense of comfort was completely foreign to him.

"You will live here while you work for us. Things will start getting busy for you tomorrow! So rise early and start living up to our code. Don't stay up late. Get to sleep early tonight! That is all." He left the room and night fell upon Treasure Town shortly after.

In the room, Martha slept curled up with her tail wrapped around her body while Ian rested on his back, having to move his tail out of the way after the first time he tried laying back.

After a few moments of silence, Martha spoke up, "Say, are you still awake, Ian?" Ian grunted in affirmation and she continued, "My heart's been racing all day… But I'm glad I finally forced myself to come here. I thought Wigglytuff would be kind of scary, but he was pretty nice. We'll experience all sorts of new stuff starting tomorrow, but I'm not very frightened. Actually, I can't wait to find out what new adventures are in store for us! I'm getting a little sleepy… Let's give it our all tomorrow. Okay, Ian. Sleep tight."

Martha's breathing evened out as she fell asleep, but Ian stayed wide awake, even though his eyes were closed. He was biding his time. After an hour or so, he opened his eyes and stood up. Checking to make sure that Martha was asleep, he started moving quietly out of the room.

Ian wasn't going to sneak out tonight. He had no idea where his partner was at. Leaving tonight would get him nowhere except in trouble. Moving stealthily, he was trying to scope out a way that he could sneak out if and when he needed to.

As he passed two branching paths in the hallway he'd been led down, he heard a loud snoring sound coming from his left. He ignored it, surmising that the two rooms were the quarters of other Pokémon living here. Moving into the main room, Ian passed by Wigglytuff's chambers and gave a curiously shaped booth on his right a passing glance before moving to the room across from the hall that led to his room. Once inside, he saw a long table with several barrels of berries and apples.

'This must be where everyone gathers to eat. Unimportant.' He took note of the two windows in the room, but all that was on the other side was about a twenty-five to thirty foot drop. He left the room and moved up the ladder to the first sublevel. Finding nothing besides two boards and an unattended desk, Ian started moving up the ladder to the exit, to see if he could get out through there.

Before he was even two steps up the ladder, a sharp voice spoke up, "Who goes there?!" There was the sound of flapping wings and Ian found himself face-to-face with a cross-looking Chatot.

Chatot glared at him, "You? Ugh, I understand that you're new and are probably excited to see the rest of the guild, but that can wait until the daytime! Go back to your room and go to sleep!" Chatot turned around and started flying back up the ladder, "Really, recruits these days, disturbing my sleep."

Hearing that, Ian knew that he'd find nothing right away. With Chatot being such a light sleeper and staying at the entrance and with no ways out through the windows that didn't involve a perilous climb, any efforts to find a way out tonight would just be a waste of time and energy.

With nothing else to do, he returned to his room and lay back on his bed. 'Since the front door is out, maybe I can investigate the underground floors more thoroughly in the coming nights. That way, once I find a lead, I can start heading out to find him.'

He gripped some of the straw that made up his bed. 'I will find you again, Grovyle. Count on it.'

With that final thought, Ian drifted off to sleep.

A little bit shorter than the last chapter, but I hope it was good. Feel free to leave a review with any thoughts you might have.