Welcome to "A Path to Coexistence"! This story deals with one of the lesser-seen parts of Pokemon On Earth stories - specifically, the acceptance and adaptation Post-Shift, and the education and public information effort for the next generation.
"A Path to Coexistence" is set in the same universe and timeline as "When Two Worlds Collide" but five years afterwards in the timeline. This story, like its predecessor takes place in America.
"Alright class! Today we're learning about the biology of Pokemon!" Ms. Erwine clapped her hands to get the students' attention. "I'll hand out your new textbooks for this unit."
She'd taken a glance at the new books, of course. The species and taxonomy chapters had been axed ever since the Pokemon arrived a few years ago – the concepts just didn't hold up anymore. Darwin was probably rolling so much in his grave that his corpse could provide unlimited free energy forever.
Thoughts swirled around her head. For her, three years of labs and lecture classes had come and gone. The shift had completely up-ended her education situation, forcing her to re-do her teaching degree at a completely new university. That was fun, along with fearing for her safety.
Once the last textbook was handed out, she turned to the board, writing down page numbers for the first chapter of the book. "Class, read the material from these pages quietly. I'll come around to check on you every once in a while."
This was not what she had signed up for. She'd expected to teach boring stuff about Earth, not attempting to piece together fragmented research on alien animals and convey them in an easily-digestable form to teenagers.
Still, the class seemed to be flipping through their books with interest. They'd never known that their assigned material was wonderous fiction once, designed to entertain children. Hell, she'd believed the material to be fiction till the shift.
Pity crossed her face as she saw them. For her, the first days of the arrival had seen a confused, bipedal mantis-like creature show up on her lawn. She'd been far too terrified to even look at it.
A search on Bulbapedia had informed her it was a Leavanny. The creature had come to her door and knocked on it. At that point she'd almost had a heart attack and brought a kitchen knife to the door, intending to stab it to death where it stood.
The creature had looked at her, its leaf-like blades gently lowering the knife. There was no burning pain of claws slashing her to gory ribbons, nothing feasting on her flesh.
It'd requested to come in, oddly enough. She'd stayed with it for a day, unsure of what to do until the evacuation transports came. She provided the soldiers with an explanation – and they took the Leavanny with them to the shelter's lab.
The few times she saw it, it seemed to be pretty happy. Scientists observing it noted its species had a natural knack for sewing of all things – so it was set to work mending clothing alongside others of its kind.
Apart from moving to a new city and continuing her degree, she barely remembered life at the shelter. She remembered being checked for alien illnesses by men in haz-mat suits, though.
Wrapped up in her thoughts, she'd barely realized the bell rang. A quick wave of her arms silenced the class while she announced, "Homework… do the end-of-chapter questions for Chapter 1. These are due tomorrow." The class groaned as they packed their bags and left.
She sighed. God, that could have gone a lot worse.
The smell of staff-room coffee wafted through the air as Erwine took another sip. She wasn't due to have another lesson until a few hours, in which more bright-faced students would learn about elemental beings.
A lesson plan with her own annotations was spread out next to her. The first week consisted of basic, introductory things such as 'what Pokemon were'. With a snort, she dismissed that part of the lesson plan. Everyone knoew what Pokemon were now. Once a popular franchise, it was now reality. That was all anyone needed to know for introductory lessons, right? She'd get into the nitty-gritty later on.
Pulling out her phone, she navigated to YouTube and opened a documentary about Pokemon, listening to the scientists describing their findings from nine months ago.
"...the fire comes from a naturally flammable substance. By which we mean it makes something, but we don't know what." A scientist fiddled with his lab coat on screen, evidently choosing his words carefully. She skipped ahead, seeing the screen shifting to a blank white, with the words: "Superkingdom: Pokemona" on it. Tentative scientific names for Pokemon began showing up on the screen.
Another documentary, this one more recent – from six months after the Arrival. It showed a group of scientists around a Pokemon lying on an operating table, though the amount of bodies in hazmat suits made it impossible to make out anything. The door opened, and another scientist, presumably their leader, walked in.
"How is the DNA analysis going?" she asked.
"We've been double checking the genes and sussing it out. Not much to go off of, I'm afraid," one of the suited scientists replied.
"So what? Fuck this. We're calling it magic, until we found out what the hell is going on. Understood?" On the screen, the door closed behind her.
Erwine closed both videos and considered her options. What chance did she have? She was only one woman compared to the world's best and brightest. But it was her duty to educate the next generation whatever it took. She'd try her best. Once updated findings were out… yes, she could try to get the department to get updated textbooks, slim as it may be.
She was the first in the school to teach this subject. If she failed, others could learn from her mistakes. The road ahead would be harsh, but she would prevail – she knew it.
Putting away her phone, she grabbed a pencil lying near her and flipped the lesson plan over…
… and began to write…
In the corner of the staff-room, a Leavanny rubbed his scythe-like forelimbs in annoyance. He'd worked his exoskeleton off to get a job as a teacher. Teaching the biology of Pokemon wasn't exactly what he wanted - he'd always thought himself more suited to tailoring and cooking.
One of the humans approached him – a woman, by the looks of it carrying a folder. When he'd chirped to draw her attention, she'd shrieked and dropped it scattering paper everywhere.
"Apologies! You've never seen a Pokemon before?" he signed, a smart-watch on his right limb allowing for ease of communication.
"Wait, how can you speak?" the woman asked. She was cut off by a gesture to the translator. "Oh, sign language then? Thought that was…" She trailed off slightly, trying to search for the words. "Never met a non-human that could speak before, except for these psychic-types. Hell, no animal on Earth comes close to what Pokemon can do."
"You didn't answer my question," he continued.
"I've seen Pokemon before, both before and after the Shift, thank you very much." A pause, then, "I'm Rebecca – Rebecca Erwine. This is my first day teaching here. You are a Leavanny, right?"
"Marcus," he replied. "Yes, I am a Leavanny."
"I'm teaching biology as it pertains to Pokemon. Some of my students would love to see you."
The way she said it made Marcus think of himself cut open and splayed on an operating table. His antennae quivered with the thought.
"They've been reading their books with great interest. Don't take it the wrong way; our world never had Pokemon before… not in the conventional, living sense." Erwine smiled wryly. "I had a stack of Pokemon media, from the old days. Sometimes, I think back to a time where all this was little more than fiction."
"You still wish it were fiction?"
"Sometimes? I never thought Earth would make contact with aliens, and I sometimes wished we would. I'm speaking to you right now, so it counts." She looked at his limbs. I like your gloves. Do you always wear them?"
"I'm meant to wear them when around the humans here." Moving over to a discarded box, Marcus removed his right sheath and slashed downwards with the exposed scythe. The box was left in two clean pieces, with not a ragged edge in sight. "If you need a knife, just ask me."
"Thanks for the offer," Erwine replied, looking unnerved, "but I'll stick with my box cutter. Nice to meet you, Marcus." With that, she was gone.
Erwine scribbled more page numbers and assigned questions on the whiteboard. If this was normal biology she'd been teaching, she'd have brought out the trays of microscopes and Perti dishes by now. Instead, she really wanted to examine Marcus' blades under a microscope.
"Class," she began, pulling up a documentary on Pokemon. "Please do the discussion questions, and take some notes from the video I put up." That was one of he few reputable documentaries on Pokemon she could find – one done by BBC, at least.
She'd also perused a documentary on Leavanny culture and biology in her spare time, just so she could have a better idea of how to act around Marcus. While the students worked, she double-checked their homework questions from the last lesson before placing them in a pile on her desk.
As the lesson ended, she handed them back out, with marks attached. The students were chatting amongst themselves excitedly, which was good, at least.
The staff-room couch practically invited her to crash on it, until she felt something flat shaking her shoulder.
"You look like a mess."
"Uh?" She blearily opened her eyes to see Marcus. "I… what? What's going on? Please tell me the school isn't on fire."
The Leavanny clicked his mandibles in annoyance. "No, nothing is burning. Did you have anything to eat?" He moved to the staff-room kitchenette.
"I'll have coffee." She realized Marcus was a full head shorter than she was. "If you need help reaching anything high up, ask me," she added.
"Thanks," Marcus replied. He pulled out a scrub brush and dishwashing liquid, disinfecting his scythe-like claws. "I'll make some salad with unseasoned meat. That's what Pokemon eat."
"I thought Pokemon could only eat berries? Besides, how can you digest any meat from Earth?"
"I don't know." His mandibles twisted into a frown as he removed a cutting board from a nearby cabinet.
"Look. I'll get coffee." She moved to grab a mug.
"No, you need to eat proper food. I'll make some extra salad for you, how about that?"
"Fine. I'll get a sandwich or something. If that's not enough I'll run down to the tuckshop." Erwine replied, pressing the coffee-maker's buttons.
"Eat your vegetables, please."
"You're not my father," Erwine retorted. Behind her, the coffee maker gurgled as it began making her drink. "I'd say your parental instincts are a bit too strong. Ever considered working as a babysitter?" She ripped open a packet of coffee crystals and dumped them in.
"I would! It just gets tiring. Speaking to you here, that makes me happy. Did you ever cook in your life?" Marcus had gone and disinfected his scythes again, no doubt to prepare other types of food.
"Saving time. It's expensive, but my time is more valuable."
Marcus gave her a look. "Continue."
"I really hate cleaning up after cooking. That's all there is, plus the prep time. Some teachers here wake up super early just to reach the school. Look here. I'm meant to read the textbook I assigned to my students so I can plan out their next lesson. Instead, well, you found me on the couch passed out."
His mandibles twisted into a frown. "Why not read it now?" He dropped the diced chicken pieces into a sizzling hot pan. "Or after you've eaten?"
"That's a good idea. Listen - I need to speak with the department head about something, and I'd like to have you there."
"What do you need?"
"it's about the next lesson. I want to give the students something interesting to do, and it involves you."