If you don't give 'em your chestnuts, prepare to get your house utterly destroyed! Here's to two of the most underappreciated characters in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red and Blue Rescue Team! As always, read, review, and enjoy!
Smeargle dipped the tip of his tail into a small can of purple paint, then dragged it over the piece of fabric. He squinted in concentration as he neatly made a horizontal line across the fabric. He sat back for a moment, considering what to do next. The flag had to be absolutely perfect.
After running away from his tribe of smeargles, the local rescue team agreed to let him join them on one condition. He was to paint a perfect flag for their team base.
It had been weeks now since he had joined. The first flag he had painted for them was a masterpiece – one of his greatest works ever. However, a day after he had pulled it up the flagpole at their base to let it fly, the leader of the team came to him, expressing apologetic dissatisfaction.
"Hey, Smeargle?" they had begun. "Well, I'm not saying I don't like the flag – it's great, really – but would you mind making a new one? I don't think this one really fits the vibe of our rescue team."
Smeargle had tried to hide his disappointment and assured the leader that he would soon make a new, better flag for them, then got to work as soon as they left the Friend Area. But yet again, the new design was shot down a few days later.
By now, it was the twelfth time the leader had come to him, and even though they were trying not to show it, Smeargle could tell they were getting frustrated with him. And even though they had assured him that he wouldn't get kicked off the team no matter what, he couldn't help but dread that he would be released. There was no way he was going back to his tribe – the growing-up ritual of getting a handprint permanently marked onto his back was said to be painful. It was the reason he had left in the first place. No, going back was not an option. He would get this flag right, no matter what.
Tentatively, Smeargle tried painting a vertical stripe down the middle, then frowned. No, that didn't look good.
He wiped at the line with a hand, but that only caused it to smudge across the flag. Wincing, he filled in the smudged quadrant with paint. That looked even worse.
"Gah!" he yelled in frustration and threw the paint can down on the flag, causing purple paint to drench the entire piece of fabric. Angry tears welled up in his eyes and he wiped them away with a hand – the one with paint on it. Now the chemicals from the paint were in his eyes, which only caused them to water more.
"What's wrong with you?" asked a voice behind Smeargle. He whipped his head back but only saw a blurry beige blob through his teary vision.
"Man, yer a mess!" the blob said with a chuckle. "You tryna be a Ninja Squirtle or somethin' with that stripe across yer face?"
Smeargle trembled, fury rising within him. "Why don't you just shut up?!" he yelled, clenching his fists. "This isn't funny!"
"Whoa, whoa, calm down there, bud," said the blob, moving around him while keeping some distance between them. "I'm just here to fix the shack. Don'tcha go an' bite my head off!"
Taking in a deep breath to calm himself, Smeargle wiped his eyes with his clean hand and tried to make out the shape of the pokémon as it approached the team base. It was still blurry, but Smeargle could tell that it was a mankey.
"Are you also one of the members of the rescue team?" Smeargle asked, trying to keep his tone friendly. The mankey glanced back and smirked.
"Me? One of those losers?" He let out a raspy laugh. "Nah, I work for 'em. Me and my gang built this shack, see?"
Smeargle couldn't help but feel awe. "Really? This whole entire base?"
"Ah, don't act like it's some big deal or nothin'," said Mankey. He looked at Smeargle's flag and eyed it up and down. "And what're you doing there? Did a grimer fall on yer canvas?"
"N-no, nothing like that," Smeargle quickly replied, trying to pull it away and out of sight. "I'm just trying to make a flag for the base and – and – " His eyes were threatening to tear up again and he turned his head away. "I'm a failure. No matter how many times I try to paint a flag for them, I just can't make it right! They'll kick me off the team for sure! I just know it!"
Unexpectedly, Mankey grinned. "Izzat all?"
Smeargle looked back at him in shock. "Wh-what?!"
"Bud, I'm in charge o' their entire shack," Mankey told him, "an' you don't see me bendin' over backwards if they don't like where one of the beams are!" He gestured back at the flagpole. "I been noticing all the different flags poppin' up up there, an' I think they ain't all that lousy!"
"But..." Smeargle looked down at the purple-soaked flag. "...the team leader doesn't like my designs," he protested. "Doesn't that mean – "
"Yer on their team, ain'tcha, bud?" Mankey hopped over and jabbed him lightly in the chest with a finger. "I'm actually workin' for 'em! I'm gettin' paid for my work in chestnuts and I been negotiatin' with them for better pay! Yer doin' it for free! Don't you let them tell you what's what!"
"A-are you sure?" Smeargle asked, a hopeful smile working its way onto his face.
"Don't even think twice about it, bud! If you like the flag, then that's the flag they'll get and that's that!"
Smeargle nodded and wiped his eyes again with his paint-free hand. "I guess you're right. Yeah! I'm not going to let them discourage me anymore!" He stood up, feeling triumphant, then paused glancing down at the flag. "But this flag's ruined. I'll need to make a new one – "
"Pssh! Don' give me that kind of a lousy excuse! Here!" Mankey gently pushed Smeargle aside and observed the flag. Then, decidedly, he dipped his finger into a small can of black paint and began drawing something on the flag. Smeargle looked over his shoulder to see what he was doing and widened his eyes in shock. All that had been added were two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth.
"It's a ditto!" he exclaimed, already feeling dread. This design would get rejected for sure!
"An' I think it's a lovely ditto," Mankey said confidently. "And if they don't like it, too bad for them! Am I right, bud?"
Smeargle nodded, tentatively at first but then eagerly. "That's right! This'll be their flag, whether they like it or not!"
"That's a good bud," chuckled Mankey, slapping him on the back. "Now why don't we raise this thing and get out of here?"
"But didn't you say you were going to fix something on their base?" asked Smeargle. Mankey blinked, then laughed lightly and scratched the back of his head.
"Nah, that can wait. C'mon, I know a great café in town. Drinks on me, got it, bud?"
"Sounds like a plan!"
Together they carried the flag over to the flagpole and raised it before walking away, leaving it to flutter triumphantly in the breeze.