Having completed the 20-foot journey to neighboring Viridian City, I now set out to find the local Poke Center. Although Motorbreth has sustained no injuries whatsoever from setting shit on fire, there's apparently a hard limit to the number of times he can do it before needing to stop by one of these places for a rest. Additionally, these conveniently-located sanctuaries are free of charge and can instantly cure any Pokemon of any ailment, up to and including death. They're basically socialized healthcare centers for Pokemon in a world where socialized healthcare actually works.
This plethora of knowledge concerning Poke Centers and their many useful properties is courtesy of yet another "Trainer Tips" sign at the far southern border of Viridian City. And although this is new information to me, an outsider to this strange new land, the proliferation of posted official notices explaining the most basic functions of these peoples' lives to them is really beginning to worry me. Probably the only reason that there aren't dozens of them reminding me to eat, shit, and breathe is that nobody in this game does any of those things. It's with this revelation that the deeper meaning of the phrase "signs are useful!" becomes truly apparent: these people would drink paint thinner and die without a billboard explicitly telling them not to.
Locating the Viridian City Poke Center proves to be a much easier task than I had initially expected. You see, here in the real world there exists a vast myriad of commercial establishments to satisfy our many needs: liquor stores, porn shops, gay porn shops, gay liquor stores... the list goes on. Such is not the case in this horrifying world gone mad I now find myself in. The only destinations available in the entire city are: Poke Center, Poke Mart, or break into some guy's house so that he can talk to me about Pokemon. There's also a school, but the only subject being taught to the one student actually present is Pokemon Status Problems 101. And if there was ever a worse education plan than No Child Left Behind, I think I've found it. Though, this does shed some light on to why everybody in this game is so fucking stupid: I'd be an idiot too if all I ever learned in school was Pokemon.
I step inside the immaculately clean, neo-futuristic Poke Center and approach the cute lady sitting at the reception desk. With a warm smile, she grabs my lone ball and gently places it into something she calls "The Machine". Several seconds and one blast of sperm-demolishing radiation later, Motorbreth emerges from the strange contraption in a state of perfect health. Meanwhile, the numerous physical and emotional wounds present upon my 10 year-old girl following her traumatizing ordeal with the nefarious Professor Oak go entirely unnoticed by a medical staff seems far more interested in making sure that Motorbreth is getting his cuddles. I grab my pet and run away crying from the mean people.
My luck at the Viridian City Poke Mart is in even shorter supply than at the Poke Center. A sign in the window up front proclaims, "all of your item needs fulfilled!" This is, of course, provided that all of your item needs are limited only to Pokemon and Pokemon accessories. Once I'm inside, however, I am bluntly informed by the cashier that his fine wares are not for me to have. Service is refused to my lowly character until a task is first completed in order to prove my worth. I'm told to deliver a mysterious package of unspecified origin to the man that I've spent pretty much the entire game up to this point trying desperately to escape from. And no shopping spree in the world is worth having to play "hide the Polish sausage" with Professor Oak again.
With Professor Oak's package in hand - and certainly not for the first time - I putz around Viridian City attempting to delay the inevitable for as long as I possibly can. I talk to some kids loitering in the streets and find them to be about as moronic as everyone else I've encountered thus far. One kid spots the ball(s?) near my waist and breaks immediately into a rant about how awesome it is that Pokemon can be used at any time, at any place, and for any reason. These statements are nothing short of vile lies, as I find myself unable to beset Motorbreth on anything that doesn't attack me first. This unwritten law of the land would prove to be the source of much frustration throughout the game, starting with the fact that this kid was still talking instead of being burned alive.
Another child asks me if I wanted to hear all about the two caterpillar Pokemon, Caterpie and Weedle. I really don't, but my urge to see just how badly my tax dollars are being wasted makes me say yes. The little dropout explains to me that the Weedle has a poison stinger, whereas the Caterpie doesn't, and that I should avoid letting my Pokemon be poisoned by a Weedle. This is the complete extent of the youth's knowledge on the subject. I nearly lambast him for cutting class and clearly missing out on what manages to pass for an education in this fucked-up world before the obvious hypocrisy of such a statement hits me like a mack truck to the uterus.
Moiving away from the city, I explore a hidden trail off to the side of a fenced-in forest, at the end of which I discovered another "potion" sitting on the ground inside of a ball. Seeing absolutely nothing unusual about this, I pick it up and stuff it inside my backpack for future consumption. Maybe if school had spent less effort trying to teach me about which Pokemon have little poison stingers and which ones don't, they might've found the time to inform me that it's not wise to drink things that I find lying on the ground. Although, at least for a video game, this is relatively normal behavior.
Pressing further to the west, I find myself on a trail called Route 22, which is populated by hideous monkey-like creatures with pig-like faces and souls blacker than the darkest night. Whatever in the hell these abominations are, or why Mother Nature so cruelly threw up all over their DNA, the one normal trait they do seem to possess is that they burn just as efficiently as non-mutants do. I continue along the path until it dead-ends at the front entrance to the National Pokemon League. Recalling this venue as having invited Professor Oak to come and join them in their insidious activities, I wisely choose to avoid seeking entry and immediately head back the other way.
Back in Viridian City, a lady on the street tells me about a town called Pewter City farther off to the north, indicating that the only road leading there is a needlessly-complex winding trail through the Viridian Forest. It seems like a good opportunity to lose whoever might be pursuing me, not that I'm paranoid about being followed or anything. If anything, given the present situation and what I would eventually come to find out about it, I'm not being paranoid ENOUGH.
As it turns out, the road leading north is blocked off by a crazy old man lying on the ground who claims the main thoroughfare to be his private property and expressly forbids me to pass. And because he isn't actively attacking me, I'm not allowed to have Motorbreth set his crazy old man ass on fire and continue about my business. Rather, I am forced to turn back because of a decrepit geezer whom his grandkid dismisses as just "cranky" until he's had his coffee. Where's Juan Valdez when you need him?
Resigned to my fate, I start walking back south to Pallet Town. On the way, I try peeking inside the mystery package that I'm to deliver. That turns out to be a huge mistake, as I'm met only by Professor Oak appearing magically out of nowhere to inform me that now is not the proper time to use that item. It was a surreal experience, to say the least. To this day, I still have a recurring nightmare in which I'm in the shower and go to reach for the conditioner, when Professor Oak suddenly jumps out of my drain and yells, "no, BTB! Now is not the right time to use that! You've got to shampoo first!"
Not entirely sure what I had just seen, I implore a fellow traveller on the road for help. The only response given to my pleas for assistance is the gleeful advice to go jump off of a cliff, as doing so would surely get me to where I was going a whole lot faster than walking would. But as much as my experience with Professor Oak has made me want to give up and just leap to my life's final destination already, I've got a lot farther to go in this downward spiral I'm in before I start discussing the possibility with the same passing interest as I would an episode of COPS. And don't call me Shirley.
When I get back to the lab, Professor Oak tells me that Motorbreth seems to be growing attached to me and that I must be talented as a Pokemon trainer. Aww, I bet you say that to all your victims. In all honesty, raising the little fucker isn't that difficult. All I have to do is give him plenty of stuff to burn and he's as happy as my ex-wife in the Land of Many Penises. He's probably just glad that he's not going to spend the rest of his life stuffed inside a ball in your lab, you sick fuck.
Without warning or my permission, Professor Oak starts to rummage through my backpack and finds his package, which contains the other ball he needs to complete his pair. Shitwad, again at the behest of his grandfather, chooses this time to make yet another unwelcome appearance. In his defense, he does at least seem as irritated to be here as I am. It appears that Professor Oak has a "project" in mind for the two of us, the very thought of which conjures up horrible images in my already-scarred brain. At least this time, I figure, there's a pretty good chance that I'll get to be the pitcher.
Oak explains to us that we're being commissioned as pawns for the Encyclopedia Britannica people to hunt down and capture every last Pokemon in existence. Apparently, nobody has ever thought to do anything like this before in a world with a 100% Pokemon-driven economy. And now, the best available candidates for the job are a 10 year-old girl and a snot-nosed little brat that gets beaten up by the 10 year-old girl on a regular basis. He gives us each a device called a Pokedex that clearly knows more about Pokemon than we ever will and then sets us out to discover all of the knowledge that it already contains.
In addition to the Pokedex, Professor Oak also gives me a set of his balls. He claims that they'll assist me in capturing Pokemon, which is really just another thinly-veiled attempt at getting me to do things to him that I'll eventually end up describing to a therapist. There's also five of them, a fact which opens up several avenues of inquiry, none of which I care in the least to explore. All I know is that I need to get as far away from this lab as possible before I receive a visual demonstration of how to use them.
While I'm busy getting the professor's balls shoved in my face and a boring lecture about the proper methodology of using them on poor, defenseless animals, Shitwad takes off ahead of me. Before he leaves, he reveals his ingenious plot to outdo me in this contest. His plan mostly involves stealing a world map from his sister and then telling her not to give me one, too. It makes sense, I guess, in a batshit crazy sort of way. Except that I'm pretty sure he forgot the whole part about telling her not to give me one, as she seems more than happy to do so when I stop by to see her on my way out of town. Then again, maybe she's just trying to get back in my pants. Signs are useful!
I head back up to Viridian City, this time to find that the Poke Mart is now open for my perusal. I immediately start looking for supplies. My quest to capture one of every species of Pokemon like some kind of retarded Noah on crack isn't going anywhere without supplies. I'm confused by the notable lack of bear traps, stun guns, and reinforced steel cages in the store. How in the over nine thousand hells of the Great Lord Chaos am I supposed to overtake these vicious monsters without any of that? You assholes are seriously going to send a 10 year-old girl into the wilderness to poach things that can melt my face and eat me alive with just a map and a bunch of balls? I tell you what: the one with balls is the dickhead who thinks that I'm going through with this.
So, I buy as many balls as my little girl can hold and set off on my merry way. I decide to test them out on the seemingly innocuous pigeons and rats that I'd encountered earlier along Route 1. That way, if they ended up working as crappily as I was expecting them to, the worst I'd end up with would be balls covered in bird shit and possibly the bubonic plague. I have absolutely no idea how to go about teabagging unwilling Pokemon into submission, but my 10 year-old girl takes to it like second nature. Apparently, she's had some previous experience in handling balls.
So long as I'm beaning Pokemon with my balls, I head back to Route 22 to collect one of the monkey-pig abominations that reside there so that I can turn it over to the CDC. While I'm there, I run into Shitwad again. Needless to say, a fight ensues, and my kicking of his ass has absolutely zero effect on his arrogant and boisterous disposition. He does seem a bit pissed, however, that the National Pokemon League at the other end of the road won't let him join their little group because he doesn't have any badges. And unless the Girl Scouts are now handing out merits for arson, I don't think I have any, either. Hey, I didn't want to be in your stupid club, anyways.
Back in town, my last stop before venturing forth is the Poke Center again, where at least Motorbreth can get some attention. My primary objective there is to make use of their computer system, which reportedly can do the same thing with Pokemon that mine can with objects: make them disappear. I'd managed to pick up a rat and a pigeon along with one of the mutant pig-monkeys from Route 22, and some strange law forbade me to release them back into the wild from whence they came. Rather, the only possible way for me to get rid of them is to go online, hack into "SOMEONE's" PC, and dump my unwanted acquisitions onto the poor bastard's hard drive. It's like spam, only somehow actually worse.
I leave the Poke Center and, having prepared myself as much as possible, boldly set out to explore new territory. The coffee-loving old bastard that had previously blocked my path to the Viridian Forest has now kindly moved aside and allows me to pass... sort of. I made the critical mistake of offering him a friendly "hello" as I walked by, not realizing that it, as with any words of greeting spoken to the elderly, would invoke a long, rambling lecture that I did not want. Any attempt to vacate the premises during his speech about the proper method of handling ones balls around any small, woodland creatures was met with a sharp whack of his wooden cane against my cranium and a further digression about respecting old people and kids today with their music.
Three hours later, long after I'd slipped into a boredom-induced coma, the old fuck finally informs me that he's far too busy to further educate me in the ways of the world and that the responsibility would now be delegated to the television. He then gives me a 42" TV to cram into my backpack and sends me packing. Gee, thanks a lot, asshole. That's just what I needed: more shit to lug around on my underdeveloped, 10 year-old girl back. And we're not even close to hitting max capacity for this thing, either - stay tuned for later in the game when I end up stuffing a bicycle in there.
Following my gruelling ordeal with the incessant ramblings of a lonely old man, I finally made it past him and onto Route 2, which would lead me north into the Viridian Forest. Locals describe the place as a "natural maze". I describe it as "you people need to hire a fucking gardener". Either way, I hope that nothing in there is on any kind of endangered species list, because Motorbreth takes immediately to igniting every living creature that we come into contact with. To put it lightly, let's just say that Smokey the Bear was full of shit with all of that nonsense about me preventing forest fires.
Aside from the all-encompassing wall of flames that's mostly my own fault, the other thing I notice about the Viridian Forest is an unusually large number of those "Trainer Tips" signs. And at least a few of them tell me things that actually approach the realm of being informative. I guess it would make sense that the only useful notices would be posted in the middle of a forest maze where no one can find them. Signs are useful, even if they may or may not make a sound when they fall down because nobody was around to hear it.
The first sign I run across tells me that I should weaken Pokemon before attempting to capture them because a healthy Pokemon might be able to escape. The literal interpretation of this message is that prior to throwing my balls at any Pokemon, it's considered good form to beat the shit out of it first. The only problem with this suggestion is that after Motorbreth weakens something, it's usually too dead for me to capture afterwards. Anything that he just got done with belongs in an urn, not a ball. It's shit like this that makes me seriously wonder why Pokemon hasn't been at the center of a lot more animal cruelty cases in the last ten years.
Another sign just outside the forest had told me to catch more Pokemon to expand my collection, as battles would supposedly become easier as I continued to acquire more of the little fuckers. I don't understand why the game seems to think that having lots of rats, pigeons, and genetically defective pig-monkeys will make it any easier for Motorbreth to incinerate my enemies, but I'm still bound to run into something sooner or later that has a garden hose handy or something. So, I reluctantly give in to its advice and decide to recruit a pair of the caterpillars that the kid back in Viridian City told me about. They're not much, but they're pretty much all I'm running into.
Pausing Motorbreth's fire-breathing rampage for the briefest of moments, I stop to slap my balls against a Weedle and a Caterpie to raise as fellow comrades in the battle against evil, injustice, and all things flammable. They are bestowed the names Bomber and Poundcake, respectively. Note that each of my actually worthwhile Pokemon will all be named after rock/metal songs that are both totally awesome and can be easily shortened to ten letters or less. Everything else is given a generic name like Laundry or Mustard and is left to die forgotten and alone in box 12 of SOMEONE's PC. There's no room on my team for slackers.
While Bomber and Poundcake will eventually grow beyond their initial forms and into welcome additions to my team, they're a far cry at this point from the walking death machine that Motorbreth had become. In fact, I soon discover that they're somewhat worthless in their current states. Content with merely squirting sticky shit from their mouths at unfazed opponents, the entirety of their battle experience is obtained from watching Motorbreth burn the remainder of both of their species to a crisp. I'm not sure what's more pathetic: my surprise in discovering how awful my caterpillars are at combat, or the fact that in less than five minutes, my knowledge of them had already surpassed that of the entire population of Viridian City.
My cockiness eventually gets the better of me, however, as Motorbreth falls victim to the poisonous sting of a Weedle. A nearby trainer tips sign tells me to cure the poison with an "antidote", which can be purchased at the Viridian City Poke Mart. Whereas real life has thousands upon thousands of medicines with 12-syllable names that treat any number of different toxins, illnesses, and age-induced limp penises (and with enough side effects to make you want to just live with allergies), the world of Pokemon has streamlined its pharmaceutical system into a handful of simple, cure-all miracle drugs. Antidotes cure poison and potions cure "oh, fuck, my guts are spilling out". Both work a million times better than anything those assholes at Johnson and Johnson have ever turned out.
With little time to spare, I make it back into town. But since I spent all of my money earlier on balls, I'm unable to afford any antidotes at the Poke Mart. I attempt to simply take the medicine by force, but with my only effective weapon nearly out of comission at the moment, the best that I could possibly hope for out of all this is a newspaper headline reading, "Girl, 10, holds up convenience store with worms". And if you thought Professor Oak was bad, then you really don't want to see what the Pokemon world's prison system is like.
So, being all broke and penniless, I head on over to the Poke Center for some charitable treatment. Besides, I need to get rid of a Pikachu that I managed to catch in the forest. Anyone who was alive and breathing in 1997 should recognize this furry little shit as the single most obnoxious entity ever conceived, and so help me if I was going to be caught dead lugging one of the damn things around. I hear that in Columbia, the mere mention of them will get you 25 to life, if not an immediate and painful death at the hands of a revolutionary death squad. Fucking Columbians don't fuck around.
Back inside the forest, Bomber and Poundcake continue their rigorous training regiment of watching Motorbreth burn shit. This exercise is sufficient for them to grow stronger, as well as eventually into their cocoon forms: Kakuna and Metapod. I wondered aloud that if the amount of strength and endurance you magically gain is directly proportional to the amount of ass you're watching someone else kick, then how come everyone who's ever seen a Chuck Norris movie hasn't yet achieved godhood?
Then again, perhaps there is no substitute for actual battle experience. For as statistically more powerful as they'd become, the only tactical advantage either of my new 'mons had picked up was a move called "harden", which proved to be about as useful in a fight as you'd imagine it might be. Remember that Nazi Germany at one time had the better army on paper, but that was before they learned the hard way that in Soviet Russia, sub-zero temperatures harden YOU.
Continuing north through the forest, I find more crap lying around on the ground inside balls. I pick up another antidote, yet another potion, and one ball was empty, so I just took the ball. Meanwhile, Bomber and Poundcake had reached a point where they could hold their own in battle, at least against members of their own kind. I let them loose to beat up on other caterpillars and cocoons for awhile, thinking that it would be a good chance for family bonding. But killing stuff took them for fucking ever, and my patience just isn't what it used to be. So, I finally shoved Bomber and Poundcake back into their balls and told Motorbreth to go back to melting everything.
But what seemed like it might have been a quiet, peaceful stroll through a flaming forest soon degenerated into a series of all-out brawls. Small children with cartoon-style bug-catching nets plagued my journey north and attacked me on sight. The purpose of the nets was unclear, since you really can't catch a caterpillar with one, not to mention that the only government-approved way to acquire any kind of Pokemon (an umbrella which any and all wildlife apparently falls under) is by throwing balls at them. Apparently sensing that I was some sort of a "Pokemon Trainer", these children all thought it a brilliant idea to use the caterpillars and cocoons that they'd caught to attack a living flamethrower. Their reasons for doing so were never clearly stated, and refusal was not an option. Needless to say, they all met with the same extra-crispy fate.
I took no prisoners as I cut a bloody swath through the forest maze. The fights were all fairly straightforward: after reducing each child's pet bugs into charred husks, I would then steal his lunch money and move on to the next victim. A long trail of sobbing youths littered my wake as I exited the Viridian Forest with a wallet much, much fatter for having been there.