Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10)

Charmeleon Aggression: A Discussion

Image provided by Tnknwrks

Aggression is a normal response in Pokémon that can make the difference between life and death in the wild. However, it can become a problem in powerful tame species such as Charmeleon when a simple claw or bite can be deadly and inflict serious injury. This discussion will look at aggression instances in Charmeleon to assess how and why we should deal with aggression in Pokémon partners.

One thing we must remember as responsible trainers is that every Charmeleon, if pushed enough, can be aggressive and that it is a natural reaction. Aggression can be the expression of emotion – be it frustration, surprise or anger. It can also be a way that the Pokémon deals with everyday situations that it is unsure about, demonstrating anxiety or a response to perceived threat. The Charmeleon uses aggressive moves such as biting and clawing to distance itself from the unusual and potentially dangerous situation. However, there is no reason why we cannot teach Charmeleon alternative reactions that are more welcome in a home environment.

Charmander will need careful training and nurturing to ensure that their Charmeleon stage does not use aggression inappropriately. If Charmeleon do not get this teaching early in life, it is much tougher to solve problems later. Without this early stimulation, a Charmeleon may appear to be constantly aggressive, but they are actually just basing their behaviours on experiences they learned early on in life. For more information on training Charmander, check out Rod Cumming’s book ‘Your Charmander and You’, which includes some excellent tips on clicker training that can be started right at egg stage.

However, while we can adjust behaviour, part of Charmeleon’s aggression is hereditary. There was an interesting study that assessed aggression frequency in 1,500 Charmeleon – half from the wild and half in captivity. It found Charmeleon that had been bred from a long line of battling partners were more prone to aggression than those caught in the wild. There were also physical differences: Charmeleon with a fighting lineage were larger, had harder bites and were quicker to use clawing attacks than fire.

Charmeleon communicate through body language, so this is a brilliant tool for assessing and negating anger before it leads to aggression. They have an extensive number of non-aggressive signals that demonstrate anger, including baring the teeth, narrowing the eyes, growling, snarling and staring. These signals will become more frequent the more persistent the threat. With these warning signs, it should be easy to spot when your Charmeleon is uncomfortable with something that is happening – a situation that could lead to aggressive behaviour. When you see these signs, act quickly. Start by removing the source of your Charmeleon’s anger and distract him with something engaging or something he enjoys. Later, when you are in a neutral environment, discuss what happened with him calmly. Setting up a routine of open discourse is the only true way of addressing ongoing triggers.

In your discussions, try and find the true source of the anger. What is your Charmeleon really angry about? If it is a knee-jerk reaction, it is likely masking another feeling that might be harder to show. Anger can also mask anxiety, so perhaps you need to consider whether your Charmeleon is feeling insecure. If this is the case, there are plenty of CBT professionals that specifically deal with fire types. CBT, or cognitive behavioural therapy, is designed to address the way your Charmeleon thinks and behaves, especially when it comes to thoughts about himself and how he feels about things happening around him.

Finally, anger is sometimes a sign of an underlying health condition. Make sure your Charmeleon’s health records are up to date and you regularly attend the Pokécentre clinics just to be sure.

Is aggression training the right thing to do for my Charmeleon?

I was once visiting a village at the base of Mount Molteau where a proud young lad by the name of Kit had caught himself a Charmeleon from the wild for security purposes and pest control on his farm. He was a fairly experienced trainer, so the Charmeleon quickly adapted to home living in all circumstances but one: the mailman. The village was fairly remote and a tight-knit community. Everyone had helped Kit train the Charmeleon and was familiar to him. However, Mr Chibbs came over from the next village to kindly distribute the mail every Sunday. Charmeleon, being quite pack-driven, just could not accept this occasional visitor into his world-view. He did everything he could to make the poor guy’s life a living hell. I have a lot of respect for that man for carrying on with his work through it all! Just imagine a fully grown 1m-high Charmeleon running at you with claws and teeth bared, all for stepping a toe over the village limits!

I was called in on behalf of the postal service to help sort the situation in 1997. It was part of this visit that Kit turned to me (in the middle of my grand introductory speech, I might add) to ask was aggression training the right thing to do? At first I was fuming – “how could he ask me that?”, I thought. But, I then paused for thought. It is actually an interesting question. Of course, the question ‘Is aggression training right for my Charmeleon?’ in relation to a situation where the Pokémon may endanger someone (or something) else should always be answered “yes”. However, it draws attention to the, perhaps, more important question of “should a Charmeleon showing aggression be kept in captivity?”.

This line of thought led me, rather than continuing with the course, to ask Kit to consider speaking with his Charmeleon about alternative living arrangements. Luckily, as they lived in the middle of no-where, close to the cave system where he caught the Charmeleon, this was easily carried out. He would come around a few times a day (when Chibbs wasn’t there) to help out on the farm in exchange for meat, but would live in the wild. The Charmeleon just wasn’t suitable to living in that sort of environment and a simple change in arrangement was enough to find a harmonious solution.

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10)

Charmeleon (#4)

When you’re not begging him to get off the couch, you’ll be screaming at him to stop tearing your training dummies apart. Image Credit: CamilaLópez

I’ve only ever seen a Charmeleon in one of two moods: lazy or vicious. Even well-trained ones, where their trainers have guided them to only target frenzied attacks at opponents in battle, have such a powerful inner kill-drive that they are very difficult to control. Many Charmeleon terrorise farmers and ranchers living near Char-territory, which have to install hefty defence systems in order to keep the Pokémon at bay.

Very much a grumpy teenager, a Charmeleon that is not at work is going to be sleeping. This can make training quite a challenge, and you’ll need to make sure you keep a strict reward system to make sure Charmeleon is motivated to better himself.

Where to find one

In the wild, Charmeleon are considered the main hunters of the Charmander family. They are lethal predators, with a single Charmeleon able to massacre a herd of sheep in just a few hours. When not hunting, they are thought to sleep deep inside the volcanic caves or mountains that the Charmander line calls home.

If you are still interested in attempting to catch a Charmeleon, your best bet is on one of its hunts – as no one has successfully got inside a Charmander-Charmeleon-Charizard nest and returned. However, expect a difficult and relentless battle, not only with the Charmeleon you are intending to fight but also his pack mates. I’m not exaggerating when I say that these Pokémon are relentless. They have strong fire-based attacks and will readily use their claws to slash. Only attempt an approach if you are a highly experienced trainer, and preferably go with a friend or two as backup.

The best way to get a Charmeleon is by raising a Charmander. This will help you maintain control, as it will be more comfortable with you and more ready to listen to you. I’d even recommend delaying evolution of your Charmander until you have enough experience with high-power Pokémon to handle this one’s tenacity.

Raising for battle

Charmander’s flame attacks get a big boost when he evolves, almost doubling in power. He also has a good range of fire attack types – using both the intensity of the flame to cause burns as well as using the heat to increase the impact of his bites and slashes.

In the wild, Charmeleon relies less on his flame than he does his teeth and claws. When raising your Charmeleon for battle, it would be wise to encourage him to be more balanced with his attacks, as the flames can provide a big advantage.

Charmeleon is a pack Pokémon and, therefore, works well in groups. He will do his best when teamed with a pal of similar size and strength, as research has found that the these aspects donates a Charmeleon’s rank within the hunting party. Partner your Charmeleon with someone who is too small or weak and he will become bossy and mistrustful; partner him with someone who is too powerful or too big and he will overwork himself and become distracted with a vie for power.

While it is good to train Charmander in teams, he does not always do too well in team battles where things are more intense – unless with other Charmeleon. Two Charmeleon have a specific way of communicating as to avoid each others attacks. Pair Charmeleon up with any other Pokémon and he can easily get over-excited and his partner can get caught up in a frenzied attack.

Keeping Charmeleon happy and healthy

It is essential that you learn to read your Charmeleon’s body language. This is another reason to raise your Charmeleon from a Charmander, as this will give you the time required to thoroughly understand your Pokémon. Some good founding knowledge of a Charmander’s body language will act as a good starting point.

Getting your Charmeleon enough exercise is another important point, as he can be quite lazy. It is inadvisable to own a Charmeleon that you do not intend to battle, as the regular motivation that training provides is one of the only ways of getting him to move.

As counter-intuitive to safety as it may sound, you should make sure Charmeleon keeps his claws sharp. He may end up making a lot of marks on your hardwood floor, but it will give him an additional edge in battle. To ensure the correct levels are maintained, you will need to make regular visits to a Pokécentre or Pokémon chiropodist with the necessary sharpening tools. In addition, make sure Charmeleon goes to the dentist often as he is prone to tooth rot.

Overall

Overall, Charmeleon is a tough character that is more than a handful. When you’re not begging him to get off the couch, you’ll be screaming at him to stop tearing your training dummies apart. His bipolar personality may be hard to handle, but the time and effort it will take to master this Pokémon will be greatly rewarded by the pure power he can hold.

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Stories

Rivalry – Part II (A Charmander Story)

A story by Christian Brumwell

Like a demon ascending from hell, it starts to rise. Image credit: MistyPoison

This is part II of this story. If you haven’t checked it out yet, see part I first!

‘Hissssssssss’.

Charmander slowly moves to her feet and takes a step forward, craning her head. She tries to focus some energy on her tail, forcing the flame to increase in size. A hot ember sparks from it, and she flexes her claws.

‘Hisssssssss’.

The unknown entity is slowly slithering, getting unmistakably closer. The female Charmander growls and starts to extend the claws on both her arms into Metal Claw attacks.

The slithering stops. Fthe ground, like a demon ascending from hell, it starts to rise. Twice as tall as she is, and with more than half its body trailing behind it, the hiss turns into a snarl. The glare of two yellow eyes peers through the smoke. She growls again. The eyes do not move. They almost seem dead; there’s no expression, and the creature has gone silent.

Confused, Charmander starts to move forwards, edging very slowly keeping her metallic claws extended and her flame held high. A slight glint of green twinkles just above the creature, and Charmander looks up. The glint immediately turns to red, and now she freezes in her tracks.

Now she sees the real eyes of the monster. For a split second they changed green, and then to red, piercing into her mind and now little Charmander can’t move. Stuck in her tracks, a bead of sweat travels slowly down the back of her neck as her metallic claws retreat back into her arms.

‘Hisssssssssss’.

The creature has disappeared again, but within seconds it’s alongside her. At least three metres long and purple, it turns to look at her. It’s unforgiving eyes a deathly back, it runs its tongue over her arm, hissing as it does so. Arbok rears up, showing her its hood again. Ever so slowly, Arbok begins to coil itself around her golden, shiny body. Taking great care to flatten her tail to the ground, while avoiding the flame. Every breath she takes is getting more and more difficult. Closing her eyes, she tries to force something; anything!

Just as it becomes impossible to take in any more air, her flame reacts. A shockingly critical ember bursts out of the tip, lighting up the monster’s hood. Snarling, Arbok pulls away, shaking in agony; it’s hood completely ablaze with the golden flames. Arbok freezes and then dives down, bursting into the ground.

Little Charmander collapses to the ground, her breathing heavy. She can move her arms, but barely. She cries out for help.

‘Chaaarrrrrrrr…. Chaarrrrrrrr’.

The ground starts to rumble again; once again with the force of a miniature earthquake, even worse than it was before. She closes her eyes and, once again, covers her head with her arms. The great snake bursts out of the ground, right above her, snarling with the rage of a dragon. Its hood is almost black; but not as black as its eyes. Its fangs extend, as a green venom drenches them. Arbok hangs in the air for a second, taunting poor Charmander before going to plunge in the Poison Fang.

Just before the deadly fangs can make contact, the Arbok is blasted with a powerful flamethrower. The snake snarls again, and pulls away, dropping down for cover. Charmander lifts her head from the floor.  Her heart almost stops. The male, orange Charmander is there, standing tall with his flame held firmly, burning with courage.

Arbok rears up again, not alight this time but still badly burnt. Arbok snarls, while Charmander almost seems to roar.

‘Chaaaarrrrrrrrrrr’.

Adrenaline pumps into the female’s body faster than a Scyther draws swords. Jumping to her feet, the female screams in anger.

‘Chaaaaarrrrrrr’.

Arbok turns to face her again, event taller than before. The female Charmander looks it dead in the eyes, growling. Arbok almost seems to pull away for a split second; then the familiar tint of green flashes from the cold, black eyes. Charmander quickly closes her eyes. A quick tremor passes through her body: she’s seized up for a split second, but is still able to blast out a red-hot flamethrower, keeping her eyes closed she does.

She opens her eyes to see the green dripping fangs lunging towards her. The Poison Fang catches her straight in the midriff, pushing her into the ground. Arbok had dropped to avoid the Flamethrower and countered with devastating effect. Crying out, the female quickly extends her metal claws, and starts slashing randomly at the great snake’s hood. The beast doesn’t let up.

‘Chaaaaaaaaaarrrrr’.

The snake lets go. Charmander looks up to see the male is on the back of the snake’s hood, with his burning fangs embedded deep in the back of the snake’s neck. Grinning, the female extends her own Fire Fang and jumps back into the fray, biting deep into the front of the neck. The snake thrashes its head around violently, but the two Charmander have extended their claws into the snake and are hooked on.

The male keeps his fangs rooted into Arbok, pressing deeper in with every passing second, while the female keeps releasing and then biting down with fresh attacks. The snake writhes furiously, before finally dropping to the floor and rolling ferociously sideways. Both Charmander are caught in the gravel and ripped from the skin of the screaming snake.

The snake continues to roll, as both Charmander jump to their feet. The snake uncoils, and starts to once again rise from the floor, its fangs extending once again.

‘Hissssssssssss’

Before Arbok can move, two jets of fire blast towards it. One jet is perfectly orange, the other, a bright shimmering gold. Both flames engulf the snake: hood, coils and tail; combining into a gold and orange display. Sparks of both colours fly from the top of the blaze, exploding into the sky.

The Charmander cease fire. Arbok is lying motionless on the floor, with light grey smoke hissing out of the charred, black body. The male Charmander looks to the female. She turns to meet his eyes. He nods. Together, they turn from the beast and start to head off into the sunset.

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Stories

Al (A Charmander Story) – Part II

This is part II of this story. If you’ve not yet read part I, head there now!

Al woke up feeling like he had never felt before. The blanket underneath him was soft, the temperature toasty and the air cool. But despite all of the pleasant sensations, he felt an ingrained sense of panic. Where was his pack?

The room of the Pokécentre buzzed with a hum of working nurses as they seemed to glide from bed to bed. Al pushed himself further under the blanket and away from the glare of the lights. He felt like he had fallen through the window of Al’s Chicken Shack and landed slap bang in the middle of it all, except the cooks and smells of food had been replaced with a clinical odour. Alongside that was the smell of a wide range of different Pokémon.

Al grumbled to himself. He thought of Elvis and Scarface. He thought of the sound of their breathing and the smell of their home. He nibbled and sucked on part of the blanket as he imagined his mother finally returning to the nest and taking his brothers into her arms. In his imaginings, they mistook him for dead and ventured off as a family, leaving him alone.

*

Camille had to wait three days before the nurses would let her in to see the Charmander. He had been placed on the wild Pokémon ward, so it had taken a lot of persuading. She followed a nurse, watching the bow on the back of her pinny bounce as she walked. Next to her, a Chansey bounded holding a big pile of towels. It kept glancing back at Camille every couple of steps.

“We have good news and bad news”, said the nurse, “the Charmander has recovered from his injuries but , unfortunately, he isn’t stabilising. He won’t eat and his flame is staying low.”

Camille peered at the hospital cart and saw two eyes peeking out from under a blanket, huddled over a small wavering flame. She went to reach towards it, but Chansey tapped her hand.

“We’re going to try him on an IV, but its difficult with such a young Pokémon. He needs his mother, really. You said you didn’t see her around?”

The eyes under the blanket closed.

“No”, said Camille.

*

Al didn’t like the nurses. The tall human pricked him with a needle, which Al managed to carefully pull out with his teeth later, while the large, dumpy Pokémon kept watching him all the time. He tried moving his legs, but his muscles were stiff and sore. The blanket now felt itchy on his back.

He flipped between dosing and slowly flicking his tail. The methodical flicking soothed him. When he slept, he dreamt of rain, of nests and of mothers. He had vague memories of his egg; the moving shadows dancing on the outside of the shell. While he hadn’t yet had the capacity for thought, sometimes he remembered a guttural purring vibration as his mother cared for the eggs. Like a hum, like singing.

Somewhere in-between sleep and living, he felt his body being lifted and was only gasped back to full consciousness with a breath of fresh night-time air. He looked up with blurred eyes and scented with his nose. The oily smell of car engines and the harried breath of Camille filled his nostrils, yet it felt glorious to be outside.

*

Camille couldn’t leave the Charmander there to die. Sneaking him out was actually much easier than she thought it’d be, but she felt bad for locking Chansey in the supply cupboard. It was only a matter of time before the centre found out so she ran, Al clutched to her chest still wrapped in the hospital blanket, back towards the alley.

She’d just turned the corner by the restaurant when she heard the whine of a police bike. It may not have been coming for her, but her heart hammered anyway. She knelt down on the wet cobbles, not quite sure what to do. Charmander never wandered far from their nest, so there must be a mother around here somewhere.

She unwrapped Al, who still looked a little dozy from the medication. She rubbed his back gently to stir him, “Come on fella, make a sound for your mummy to hear”.

The Charmander looked up at her sadly, but made a noise anyway. Camille was shocked to hear a little chirrup in response, followed by a thick growl. She span towards the drainpipe, where a crash of lightening revealed the shining eyes of two more small Charmander, Scarface and Elvis – though, of course, she didn’t know their names.

Moving very slowly as to not startle the scared babies, Camille lowered the blanketed Al towards the disused drainpipe. Scarface and Elvis backed further in, allowing enough room for her to put him down out of the rain. Surrounded my familiar smells, Al seemed to perk up a bit and he murmured weakly to his brothers. Camille backed away and watched as Elvis and Scarface cuddled around him. Three babies on a rainy night, yet no mother in sight.

To be continued….

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Makes and Fun Spots

Signs of the Flame: How to Read Your Charmander’s Tail

Pokémon communication specialists have long researched these methods to try and find out how we can best talk to our Pokémon to support their well-being . Image Credit: Scottish LebUwU

Being social Pokémon in the wild, Charmander have developed a complex communication method using their tails. Two Charmander can speak effectively with each other when hunting without making a sound – though verbal communication is also a big part of Charmander life on the whole. Pokémon communication specialists have long researched these methods to try and find out how we can best talk to our Pokémon to support their well-being. This guide introduces nine of the ways you can read your Charmander’s tail to see his mood and health.

A relaxed tail with a medium flame (Top Left)

This is a happy/content tail. A healthy Charmander should be like this most of the time. However, remember that Pokémon have feelings – just like you and me – so just like you’re not always happy and content, neither is he. A happy Charmander may also play with their tails, either chasing them, dancing them or sometimes just giving them a gentle sway. They don’t call it a ‘happy medium’ for nothing – and this is the same for your Charmander’s flame. Not too large, not too small is just right.

To help make your Charmander happier, try encouraging him to partake in his favourite activities. Sometimes Charmander get depressed if they don’t have enough opportunities to hunt, for example. Or, perhaps your Charmander enjoys nightly strolls with you. Quality time is the perfect way to help cheer up your friend.

A relaxed tail with a large, roaring flame (Top Middle)

This is a very angry/I’m showing off my power tail. The two types should be easy to tell between.

A very angry Charmander may accompany tail movements with biting, snarling, a furrowed brow, scratching and crouching. Mature Charmander rarely get to this level of anger without cause, so make sure you stop whatever you are doing and have a time out. If it is an external factor that is causing the problem, remove your Charmander from the situation and perhaps talk it out with him when he begins to calm down.

If your Charmander is very young, he may not have received the right guidance from his pack as to the right and wrong times to get angry. In these cases, strong and sure guidance is essential so that your friend doesn’t develop behaviour problems later on. Get him to a Pokémon Breeder as soon as possible for advice as to whether he needs anger management or simple behaviour classes.

A Charmander who has boosted his flame to show off his power may be trying to look tough in front of an adversary or trying to look good in front of its mates (or you, its trainer). If this is infrequent, don’t worry about it, as it can be part of your Charmander’s everyday socialisation. If it happens too often, or if your Charmander starts ‘facing off’ against you, he may be feeling insecure in his ranking in a social group or unhappy with the intensiveness of your training.

A tail flicking from side to side (Top Right)

This is an annoyed tail, and one of the easiest ways to tell if your Charmander is uncomfortable with something. Don’t be confused with the happy-go-lucky dancing where the tail will flick around in different directions – the angry flicking will be flat and consistent: almost like a metronome. He could use this tail for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from not getting fed at his usual time to bickering with his siblings or frustrated after losing a battle. He may also use this movement to show he is hungry or tired.

This level of anger can usually be averted with a quick distraction. Try rubbing his head, having a chat, or suggesting he take a break.

A tail in front of the body with a medium to large flame (Middle Left)

This is a typical prepared-to-battle tail. You’ll get to know this very well if you are training your Charmander for the Pokémon league. It will usually be paired with a standing stance, a slightly bent knee and a toothy grin. This isn’t the only battle stance – your Charmander may adopt a unique one of his own – but it is the most common one I have seen. Your Charmander shouldn’t really be using this stance outside of battle, but sometimes it is incorporated into play between friends.

A tail arched over the back with a low flame (Middle Middle)

This is a crouching or hunting tail. You will see this when your Charmander is hunting prey such as rodents or small lizards. Charmander will often hunt in packs, so your Charmander may try to encourage you to hunt with him and get very frustrated when you scare away the prey. Perhaps team up with a Pokémon friend who can be a better hunting buddy.

An erect tail with a low flame (Middle Right)

This is a surprised or afraid tail. Ever seen your Charmander watching a scary movie and the monster jumps at the screen? When Charmander feels sudden fear, his muscles stiffen as part of the ‘fight or flight’ response. His tail follows suit, straightening along the length, while the flame dips so that the Charmander can either run without the flame getting in the way or he can flash the flame up in an intimidation display.

If your Charmander is slowly becoming more afraid (for example when watching a slow-burn horror film), you can sometimes notice the tail getting progressively straighter and the flame smaller.

A relaxed tail with a very large flame with specks of white at the core (Bottom Left)

This is an overpowered tail and a sign that Charmander is getting too many nutrients or too much food. A Charmander’s diet can be a little tough to manage as they have a tendency towards gluttony. Always portion your Charmander’s meals and never give in if he begs, as a Charmander’s belly is never full.

Getting too much food can increase your Charmander’s risk factor of diseases such as obesity and diabetes. The enlarged flame that comes as a response to these conditions can also be difficult to manage, increasing fire risks around the home. In addition, the possibility of being accidentally burned by your Charmander increases when his flame is harder to control.

A relaxed but dirty tail with a medium to low flame that has specks of blue in it (Bottom Middle)

This means Charmander has not been taking care of himself. This may be a result of a wide array of different physical and mental problems, as well as a simple hygiene issue. Watch out for other signs of illness such as pale gums, retracted pupils, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and lethargy.

If you don’t see any of these symptoms but your Charmander is still dirty or smelly, you may need to teach him the importance of keeping clean. Take him to a Pokémon Centre (or general health centre) to speak with a specialist who can help set up a hygiene routine. Encourage your Charmander to get involved, perhaps including a sticker reward chart. Eventually, he should learn to do things by himself without the need for a reward.

A weak, floppy tail with a low (but still red) flame (Bottom Right)

This is a sick/injured/very sad tail. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell between a Charmander under a sad spell and those that are depressed and sick. However, if you see your Charmander in this condition and the tail does not change position for around half an hour, get him to the Pokémon centre right away, as it could be a medical emergency. Being predators, Charmander usually hide their illness quite well, so he may still look energetic, despite his illness.

If you have been to a health centre and your Charmander has been given a full bill of health, yet you are still seeing a sad tail, perhaps speak with a Pokémon therapist to see if they can work out what the issue is.

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Stories

Al (A Charmander Story)

Sometimes he’d get caught up watching and smelling, and his stomach would gurgle painfully. Image Credit: The Char Boy

Al had been dreaming of working as a chef ever since he was a hatchling. One of the first things he saw after breaking out of his egg was the shiny neon lights of Al’s Chicken Shack, after which he’d named himself. The hot air from the restaurant’s ventilation duct brought with it smells of exotic spices, smoke and grease. The young Charmander wondered what created those magical fragrances as he took shelter from the rainy nights with his siblings.

After a few days of waiting for their mother, the pack of three brothers were hungry enough that they started to risk taking turns running out to find food. Typical pickings had been discarded pots with some residual sauce smears to lick, or the remains of dead birds.

Whenever it was his turn to go out, Al would sneak up to Al’s Chicken Shack’s windows to peer inside. He watched in awe as the people wearing little white clouds on their heads cooked. Pans flashed, salads tossed and water boiled. Rain pattered around Al, making the bricks of the alley thick and sooty. The longer he sat there, though, the less the real world seemed to matter. Sometimes he’d get caught up watching and smelling, and his stomach would gurgle painfully.

One night, Scarface (so named after a cool-looking poster that hung in the alley) carried in some strips of meat from the trash. Al and the third brother, Elvis (named after a little keychain they found that said “We ❤ Elvis”), ran over salivating. This wasn’t the usual pickings of stringy, fatty leftovers. This was prime cut.

Despite his aching belly, Al paused before gobbling it up, chittering at his siblings so they’d do the same. He took a deep breath to let the scent run deep into his snout. He’d first started doing this a few weeks ago, copying some diners at Al’s Chicken Shack. Doing it thrilled him. It made eating (which was pretty awesome anyway) into a real treat, and he had been practicing it at his window seat above the kitchens.

As he smelled, he expected the tang of onion or the smooth jazz of gravy. Meat that looked this good ought to smell of sizzling pan juices and a faint hint of char from the grill. But what hit him was none of that. It was in fact a stark contrast to what he was seeing. The scent was sharp and sickly. It rang in his nose like a loud bell. He pulled back his teeth and sneezed, backing away from the garlic-like chemical odour.

At Al’s reaction, Scarface’s flame intensified, reflecting angrily in his eyes. He flicked it from side to side, and his shoulders haunched as he let out a little growl. As Al continued to sneeze and shake his head to get rid of the smell, Scarface nipped at Elvis, who had been standing to the side with his head cocked. Scarface’s body language was speaking loud and clear: “How dare you turn your nose up at my catch?”.

Once he was done sneezing, Al puffed up in warning to make himself as big as possible. He wasn’t sure what, but something about that smell was just not right. He needed to take charge of this situation and quickly. A wiser Charmander may have taken a softer approach, chittered softly at his brother and convinced him to ignore his hunger and really consider the meat. But neither hatchling had gained their mother’s guidance, and both were just too young to not bicker.

Al eyed his eldest brother as he pushed passed Elvis and towards the meat. This forced Scarface to back off a little, but his tail flicked faster. The closer Al got to the food, the more his brother lowered his stance, tensed his muscles and intensified his growl. Defying all these warnings, Al continued on and disposed of the meat by flicking it into the gutter by the vent entrance. As the food dropped into the abyss, Scarface’s growls became a shrill hiss, “How dare you, how dare you? How DARE you?!” The sound echoed in the duct work, creating a deafening cacophony that finally triggered Scarface into action. He pounced, claws extended, right into Al’s belly.

The two tumbled together, swiping painfully at reach other’s faces. Al was pushed back, out of the drainpipe, and hit the curb hard in the back of his neck. Al brought his own claws round in a sweep, just missing Scarface, who jumped back a step. The two Charmander faced each other off once more. Al felt a white burning rise from the bleeding cut on his belly. His head felt woozy and he shook it. The water pooling on the alleyway turned red. He tried to muster the strength to puff himself up and show dominance, but both Charmander were stopped in their tracks as the alleyway flooded with light.

* *

Camille tossed some garlic, onion and butter in a pan. She breathed in deeply, enjoying the well-known fragrances. The busy hum of the kitchen gave her a beat to move to. She used the rhythm in her cooking. Cha – a pinch of salt; Cha Cha – a dash of pepper; FWAAH – the fizzle of boiling water as it was poured into the pot. She lived for that music. If six months of working as a commis chef in Al’s Chicken Shack hadn’t killed her dreams, nothing would.

“Camille!”, came the bark of sous chef Louis, “Baguettes. Where?”
The dirty scent of charred hobs and built-up grease emerged again like dirt being kicked up in a wind.
“Store #2, chef”, Camille watched as Louis marched round the back, his pointy chin leading the way. He wasn’t gone two seconds before a great shriek came from the store room.
“Camiiiiile”.
Despite being short and stubby, Louis could be intimidating when he wanted to be. When he was dragging you curtly by the arm to a messy store room was one of those times.
“Get this mess cleaned up at once!”
He thrust a mob and bucket into her arms, sloshing some leftover water laced with a thin film of chicken grease onto her shirt. Trying not to balk, she set down the bucket, topped it off with some fresh soapy water, and began to clean the room.

The bucket quickly turned black, the soap dancing delicately around a blanket of scum. Camille grimaced, trying desperately not to breathe through her nose, as she picked up the bucket and headed to the alley.

The door was usually stiff, so, with her hands planted firmly on the mop bucket, she barged it hard with her shoulder. Too hard, it turns out, as the door gave easily and she tripped over the step and tumbled mop bucket forward into the alley.

* *

Al’s eyes and the cuts on his belly stung curtly as a torrent of soapy water washed over him. He yelled out in a series of pained yips, and he slipped on the sudsy pebbles as he tried to run away. Through the blur, he heard the patter of Scarface’s feet as he slipped back into the air duct and back to the nest. For a moment came Elvis’s panicked cries, but this was soon hushed by Scarface.

Camille dropped the bucket with a clang on the alley floor. She nearly tripped right over Al but managed to keep her balance.
“Oh my, you poor thing”.
He looked a sorry sight, he tried to stand back up but a mixture of the slick pebbles and his dwindling energy wouldn’t let him. Camille looked around for something to catch him with, and had to make do with a torn piece of tarp from the dumpster. She scooped him up, avoiding his weak attempts to bite her, and didn’t even take a glance behind her before running to find the nearest Pokémon centre.

Continue to part II!

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Stories

The Hitokage Detective Agency (A Charmander Story)

Story by Jack Bumby

The Hitokage Detective Agency (Charmander Story #1)
It was our first job – literally the very first, we’d barely even set up shop. Image credit: Thyfany Ron

The water splashed up at my torso.

“That’s just swell.”

“Char! Char!” Charmander scolded, from his position on my shoulder.

“It didn’t go anywhere near your tail flame, Charmander. Stop your whining.” I continued through the tunnel. It was getting deeper. We were just passing beneath the factory labs at this point. I made a quiet prayer to myself that it was only water splashing me and not chemical waste or runoff from some unpleasant experiment. The labyrinthian system beneath the factory had turned out to be a lot easier to navigate than I’d expected, thanks in no small part to my Charmander and his impeccable sense of direction. His tail flame also lit up the tunnels better than any torch could. He was a regular swiss-army Pokémon.

“Charmander, up ahead.” I pointed forward at the upcoming crossroads. Charmander raised his claw to his chin and scratched. The flame on his tail pulsed and wavered.

“Char! Char!” He pointed right.

“Thanks pal.” I turned right, deeper into that warren of confusion.

*

It was our first job – literally the very first, we’d barely even set up shop. We’d not even paid the first month of rent on the office. I was still moving my desk in when an old guy knocked on the glass of our door. Our first client.

“Are you the Hitokage Detective Agency?” his nasally voice whispered into the office.

Actually, forget about old. This guy was prehistoric. I remember almost jumping out of my skin when I saw his shrivelled face peering in, the huge spectacles magnifying his cloudy ancient eyes, his bald and liver-spotted head serrated by the shadow of the office blinds. My first thought was that it was a Pokémon I’d never seen before. I’d heard they were cloning ancient Pokémon in a lab somewhere, but no, this was just a man. I put on my business face, invited him in, and heard him out.

Like anyone else who still lived in that hellhole, he worked in a factory. In fact, he owned a handful of factories, he explained. And his top factory was in trouble, someone kept blocking the inflow pipe and it looked like corporate espionage. He wanted us to catch the criminals in the act. It wasn’t the romantic first case I’d imagined but he was paying in cash. The money was good. And besides, in Gringey city, romance was a foreign word.

“Sir, we’ll take the case.” I said once he’d explained his situation. He stuck out a cold and leathery hand – the texture and colour was the same as the hide of a Sandshrew – and I shook it with a wince. Once he’d left and Charmander had woken from his nap, we headed out into the haze and smokestacks of Gringey City.

*

“Char! Char!” He pointed forward. I could see it too. The tunnel was getting wider. It was getting shallower too. Which was good, because moments earlier it had almost reached my chest. I’d nearly had to carry Charmander above my head, which wouldn’t have gone down well. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the light of his tail flame reflect off of something on the wall. I moved closer. The brick here was dark and furry-looking, as it had been since we entered the tunnel. But in this section of the tunnel, the wall glistened with a shimmering film, like someone had sneezed all over it.

“What do you reckon Charmander?”

“Char…”

“Yeah, I’m not stupid. I wasn’t exactly going to stick my hand in it.” I saw his tail flame flicker. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to snap. This place is freaking me out.”

“Char!” I felt his hand grip my shirt.

“You too, huh?”

“Char! Char!”

His attention was no longer on the wall. I saw that he was pointing off further down the tunnel. Something was down there.

“Ok, calm down pal.” We began moving down the tunnel. I could feel him rumbling on my shoulder, getting ready to attack. His tail began to light up the remainder of the tunnel. A dead-end. The wall at the far end was covered in the same slime.

“Char!”

“I thought you were leading us to the inflow pipe?”

“CHAR!”

“Don’t shout at me, you’re the one who led us down a dead-end.”

But all of a sudden it made sense. Charmander wasn’t shouting at me. He was shouting at the wall. The wall that was slick with a sticky substance. The wall that had begun to twist and writhe. Spots of moonlight shot through the wall as cracks began to appear. It seemed to be alive. Looking up, I realised that the ceiling of the tunnel was bending and snaking too, in the same eldritch way as the wall. Something fell from the top of the tunnel with a wet slap. It landed in the water at our feet, a large pile of purple goo. Charmander was urging me to move, but I couldn’t look away. Two eyes appeared out of the goo. Then a toothless, gaping maw.

“GRIIIIIME!” it croaked. Something inside of me snapped, the spell of fear that had been cast over me broke. I began to back away.

“Ok Charmander, not too quick. Let’s just-“ My sentence was cut short as a pile of the gunk hit me on the back, propelling Charmander from my shoulder. Another hit my other shoulder, sending me sprawling.

“Char! Char!” He stood on his tiptoes, holding his flame high above the dirty water.

“Hold on Charmander. Just keep your tail out of the water.” Another mound of sludge hit my belly as I tried to scramble to my feet, knocking the wind out of me. I went to scream, and a heap landed on my face. I felt it begin to seep down my throat. Some began clogging my nose. I couldn’t breathe. The smell of sulphur and mould was unbearable.

“GRIIIIIME!”

I felt more land on my arms and legs as they pushed me under the water. There were dull vibrations as more of the things landed around me. I began to black out.

“CHAAAAAAAAAAR!” There was a blast of heat overhead, above the water. I felt the muddy weights move off me in a flash, retreating from the flames. I could hear muted squeals. Desperate for air, I threw my head above the water as soon as the fire disappeared and took in a deep gasp. My mouth still tasted foul. Behind me, Charmander stood still holding his tail above the water. Smoke curled around his snout.

“Flamethrower, huh?” I croaked.

“Char!”

“Well done buddy, I think you just saved me from a whole heap of trouble.” I stood up and spat out the last of the grime. The Pokémon seemed to have fled, revealing the inflow pipe at the end of the tunnel, where the pulsating wall had been just moments earlier. I reached down and picked up Charmander, putting him on my shoulder.

“Char?”

“I don’t have a clue. But they were disgusting. At least they seem to have gone now. They must have been clogging up the inflow pipe.”

“Char! Char!”

“Yeah, I guess it was a success. Though when they make the movie adaptation of our life stories, they can leave out this case.” We began walking back out of the tunnel. Charmander’s tail was flickering and glowing.

“Char!”

“Of course you’d be the star of the film.”

“Char?”

“I don’t think you’d want him to play you.”

“Char!”

“Good point. C’mon, let’s go get paid.”

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10)

Charmander (#4)

To this day, I still have not worked out how this Pokémon hides so well. Image credit: Laurie MacQueen

Charmander are gutsy little fire breathers that have a strong will to please. They are brave beyond their years, often defending a loved one until near death and no matter the odds. With careful training, they can be powerful in battle but it takes a dedicated trainer to unlock their true potential.

They are also surprisingly social and enjoy a pack lifestyle. Young ones quickly make strong family bonds, often becoming over-attached to an imprinted ‘mother’. This can cause some disputes when Charmander is bred as a companion Pokémon, as jealousy issues may occur if not quickly managed. However, this pack-mindedness can also be a benefit, allowing Charmander to quickly adapt to family life.

Where to find one?

Charmander live in volcanic regions in warm climates. They have also been found in deserts or beaches in countries near the equator. Their ecological niches make catching one a difficult task.

If you manage to make your way through the rugged terrain, your next issue will be their rarity. To this day, I still have not worked out how this Pokémon hides so well. He has a flame on his tail for Pete’s sake, you’d think he’d shine from miles away at night. I have heard rumours that Charmander numbers are actually much greater than we think and that they live in networks of underground tunnels. I laughed at this at the start of my career, but it does go some way to explain their capture rate. I have also heard there are some professional Charmander trackers for hire near Cinnabar Island, but they charge by the hour and its really not guaranteed you will spot them, even with expert guidance.

So, you’ve conquered the terrain and you’ve actually found a Charmander. What’s the next challenge? Its pack. As I mentioned earlier, Charmander form strong pack bonds that stay cemented until they evolve. This can make it tricky to find a wild Charmander that wants to join you. I have tried to hint throughout these articles about the importance of Pokémon free-will when it comes to capturing. Charmander is one of those Pokémon where this makes a big difference. These are feisty Pokémon that happily work as a team to drive away predators – you for example. Their packs are insanely in-sync. Scientists have studied communication patterns in Charmander, finding that they use a mixture of vocalisation, tail position and eye contact to talk to one another. Whatever they do, they do it well.

If you are intent on catching a Charmander in the wild, I’d recommend spending at least six months tailing a Charmander pack. This may seem excessive, but trust me it will make all the difference. You won’t be able to follow them everywhere, of course, but a pack will have a particular location they return to every day. Usually an oasis or hot spring. They are quite habitual Pokémon, so there is no real danger of the pack spontaneously disappearing completely, as long as there aren’t any huge ecological changes. Find out where their favourite resting place is, camp out there and get as close as they’ll allow. Earn their trust and you might be lucky in that one of them makes a pack bond with you.

However, with all that said, I suggest talking to a breeder. You’ll save yourself a lot of effort and get a much easier-to-train partner who sees you as his true pack.

Raising for battle

A lot of people get excited when I mention Charmander. People often grow up seeing grass Pokémon, normal types and even fighting types everywhere. But fire types? They’re not as big a part of people’s pre-trainer life because they’re usually hidden in urban areas, working as chefs or in engine rooms. That’s if they’re allowed to work at all. Charmander is just not practical for most office environments – that tail is hazardous! Therefore, battling is the reason that 95% of Charmander trainers choose to work with this species. What a choice, I say!

Therefore, battling is the reason that 95% of Charmander trainers choose to work with this species. What a choice, I say! Image credit: Hālian

The Charmander line is one of the biggest challenges to a trainer, but the reward can be huge. The power held by a Charizard can be out of this world. Charmander can hold quite a punch, too. I may be biased, as I spent my early trainer days working with fire types, but I’d say Charmander is one of the toughest of Professor Oak’s popular ‘starters’ programme.

The initial years of Charmander training is overcoming the hurdle of fire control, This is a biggie. Fresh out of the egg, your Charmander won’t know what is a suitable level of flame for different situations and this is something you will need to teach him. In the wild, he learns this from his pack. One of the key methods here is positive reinforcement. That is, whenever your Charmander is showing behaviour you want to see (nice low-flame tail in the house, and nice big flame on the battlefield for example) you give him a treat. This will slowly-but-surely get the message across.

Once he has the hang of flame control, start showing him the destructive power of his flame, especially on the battlefield. Get together a small collection of dry leaves in autumn and let him set fire to them (always remember fire safety), go camping and teach him how to start a camp fire, or cook smores over his tail. This will help train sustainable fire use and heat flares, which is all good training for using Ember and Flame Burst later down the line.

A Charmander’s flame isn’t the strongest, compared with other fire types. But, he has some other arsenal. His Smokescreen and Growl can be a formidable support to flame attacks, while his scratch can be a good way to finish off an opponent.

Charmander is very weak to water types, so some water training might come in handy. Try squirting him with a small water gun (not at the tail) to build up his resistance and dodging abilities.

Keeping Charmander happy and healthy

We’ve all heard the rumours about the importance of a Charmander’s tail and for the most part these are true. But, things aren’t as straight forward as they look. For example, yes, a Charmander will be very affected if their tail flame is extinguished. However, an unlit tail doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to die. This Pokémon has exact control over the intensity of its flame from an early age, and its status often reflects a whole range of things, from health to emotion. As a Charmander trainer, the first thing you should do is learn to read his tail. I have put together a basic guide; perhaps I’ll find it out for you. But, no two Charmander are alike and you should take the time to get to know the ins and outs of his tail language.

Another thing you can do to help Charmander get along is take care of its claws. Like our fingernails, these grow constantly throughout the Charmander’s life, and he will need you to help cut them for him. You can do this yourself, or you can take him to the Pokécentre day clinics.

Charmander are quite happy to be inactive for most of the day. They like to sunbathe and keep warm, but this is not essential to their survival. While he may be lazy, he does like to socialise. It is very important to make sure your Charmander is not left alone for more than two hours. A Pokémon companion is fine, or just a digital connection to you if that is all you can do, but he may develop strong separation anxiety if left.

Overall

Overall, Charmander are social butterflies that excel at fighting. They are tough to train, but very rewarding in later evolution lines. Always remember to be respectful and thoughtful and I am sure you and your Charmander will get along just fine.

Charmander live in volcanic regions in warm climates. They have also been found in deserts or beaches in countries near the equator. Image credit: Hoop Studio
Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Makes and Fun Spots

Pokémon Poetry Part 1

As his trust burns as deep as a fire in ignition,
Underneath all the light, a friendship grows. Image credit: Thyfany Ron

A

There once was a monster of grass,
With a bulb growing out of its ass,
He was little and green,
Rarely was he seen,
As a starter, I gave him a pass.

He evolved to a punky teenager,
He grew taller, more leafy and stranger,
His flower was nice,
But you’d not dare look twice,
Cause those poisonous petals spell danger.

Now, the third one he is quite the brute,
Next to him, you could look quite minute,
From the tree on his back,
Comes a viscous attack,
He’s the king and his reign’s resolute

B

Leech Seed, Growl, Vine Whip,
Green quadrupedal poison,
Drains down my HP.

Red eyes staring fierce,
Enveloped by a flower,
Take Down on my heart.

On a petal tree,
Sits a golden crown shining,
A monster is he.

C

Bumbles along, he’s a friend to the forest,
Understanding each rock like the marks on his skin,
Lullaby just as sweet as his skills as a florist,
Bent on winning each match, any fight that he’s in.
Always depend on a brave disposition,
Smiling broadly down on his friends and his foes,
As his trust burns as deep as a fire in ignition,
Underneath all the light, a friendship grows.
Ridiculed and admired, he’s the hero we chose.

Incipient power,
Venusaur’s predecessor,
Youthful energy reigning the woods,
Surging ahead with a brazen desire,
Among these may rule our childhoods.
Understanding there can be only one,
Rambunctious and proud with a beam like the sun.

Venusaur rumbles the ground underneath us,
Ethereal shakes to waken our bones,
Nowadays we may lose touch with the forest,
Underestimate his breatheren’s home.
Shattering walls as the ground crumbles inwards,
A monster rises, as wide as the sun,
Usurp his throne no more,
Revenge, his tactic of woe.

Generation #1 · Generation #1 (1-10) · Makes and Fun Spots

Making Space in Your Home for Venusaur

Venusaur takes great pride in having a place to call his own that he can decorate as he sees fit. Image credit: Marta Maszkiewicz

Venusaur can grow up to 6ft tall and 8ft wide, so not the most house-friendly! He certainly wouldn’t fit through your average door – or indeed in most rooms. However, not all house-raised Venusaur want to be outside all of the time. This creates a conundrum for a lot of trainers who want to meet their Venusaur’s needs but can’t afford to send them to a Pokémon retreat, sunlight gym or specialised daycare every day. This article explores some of the things you could do to create space in your home for your Venusaur.

Widen doorways

Accommodating a Venusaur comes with many impracticalities – the first being his inability to get through a doorway. A typical door is roughly 4ft wide, meaning you would need to more than double your door width to have a chance at Venusaur fitting through comfortably.

One way to do this is to install French doors. If you’re not planning on altering your whole house, install these on the room nearest the garden as a priority, so Venusaur can move in and outdoors when he pleases. Venusaur can typically open and close doors using his vines and won’t need a special handle.

If you do intend on changing the internal doors, a barn-style door might be the easiest to get in widths you need, or consider just having open walkways. Always keep fire safety in mind!

Install smart technology

If you are leaving your Venusaur home alone for long periods of time, it might be useful to install some smart technology systems – the sort that powers certain objects in the home via remote control. Venusaur’s vines are dexterous enough to use a remote and it can help him have better access to items you might store in nooks and crannies he just can’t reach.

I’ve heard great things about an upcoming tech company called PokéTalk that is developing a communication device for Pokémon that will let them give verbal commands to certain electrical items around the house. When this is finished, the device will bring great flexibility to Venusaur’s life, allowing him full access to kitchen appliances, television, the radio, lighting, heating and many other utilities that was just not possible before without some serious planning. Of course, this is a big project: Pokémon speak in different ways and to different complexities. But, I wish them all the best.

Heavy duty lifts

One common issue for Venusaur is stairs. Ramps would be the best solution, but this is often just not practical to accommodate such a large Pokémon. An alternative is to install a heavy-duty lift to allow Venusaur to reach the top floor. These sort of lifts are often seen in hospitals or warehouses where large trolleys need to be carried up or down floors. It should have an easy-to-use interface and be built into a wall that will never be obstructed.

The Elderly Pokémon Company has some good offerings for these sort of lifts, and they often install them for good prices – especially for older or disabled Venusaur. Mine used to ride his right to the roof. He wasn’t allowed on the roof, of course, but he sure did like the view. Most Venusaur are scared of heights, so just first-floor lifts should be fine for most houses.

Outside shelter

Not everyone can practically alter their house, but you may just have enough room on your garden or yard to install a Venusaur outhouse. These are often very nice, as the Venusaur takes great pride in having a place to call his own that he can decorate as he sees fit. I once knew a Venusaur who loved this job so much, he trained to become an official painter/decorator for the local community.

Do you also have enough room in your garden for a pool and vegetable garden? If so, task looking after these to your Venusaur and I’m sure he’ll appreciate it!

What if I just can’t adapt my house?

Everyone should be given the opportunity to have a Pokémon, regardless of wealth or house size! If you just don’t have the room, or can’t afford to modify your house, don’t worry! There are other options:

  • The Professor Oak Institute and other Pokémon scientists often offer a free day and night-care service to trainers willing to let them monitor and keep collected data. This is a great option, as it lets scientists develop better Pokémon healthcare products!
  • If your Venusaur is elderly or disabled, there are a few charities that may be able to contribute towards the cost of modifications. Try Venusupport For Life or The Vineline to see what they can do for you
  • Gym trainers sometimes offer care services for trainers willing to let their Venusaur help train the gym leader’s Pokémon. This is great if your Venusaur still likes to battle
  • There are some government jobs your Venusaur can apply for that come with free housing. Anything from nursery nursing to caretaking for town parks