Let's Go Safari!
"Well that was fun!" Naruto remarked as he and his group stepped through the large gates of the Safari Zone.
"There's still a few things you all need to do before you can run off," Obito warned as he limped along with the aid of his walking stick.
"Like what?" Sasuke muttered grumpily.
"You need to fill out a survey and get your commemorative photograph taken with all the pokémon you've captured," Obito answered. "And you need to pick up the pokémon and pokéballs you checked in at the start of this safari."
"I'm skipping the photo," the younger Uchiha decided.
"You can't," their guide chuckled. "Didn't you pay attention to the paperwork you signed at the start?"
"What? The waivers that we signed?" Naruto blinked.
"Yep," Obito nodded. "One stated that you know it's potentially dangerous out in the park and won't sue the Safari Zone if you get hurt, and the other was an agreement to get your picture taken and permission to use that picture in future advertising."
"Hn!" Sasuke almost snarled.
"Oh cheer up!" the man laughed. "I'm sure that your mother will find the picture adorable."
Obito led them into the clump of buildings towards the main lodge. Just in front of the large building was a huge sign with the Safari Zone logo on it. And that was where it seemed that the pictures were being taken.
There was a photographer there with two assistants, boxes of camera equipment, and a fancy camera set up on a tripod. The group currently being photographed was one that Naruto was familiar with. Chouji sat off to the side eating a bag of potato chips with Shikamaru apparently napping, while Ino carefully arranged her new monsters for her picture.
The blonde girl kept changing her mind about the placement of her ten creatures. She perched an eevee on each shoulder, held a tepig in her arms, framed herself with a trio of floating munnas, had a gothita standing by her left foot, and a petilil by her right foot. But she kept moving her maractus and sigilyth around, and the photographer looked very annoyed with her.
Naruto jogged over to where his two friends sat waiting with their pokémon, eager to check in with them.
"Hey guys, what'sargh!"
Something black with red eyes that seemed connected somehow to a golden face mask floated towards his face and Naruto yelped and ducked.
"Osiris," Shikamaru sighed. "Leave him alone."
The shadowy thing reluctantly backed off and moved to float near where Shikamaru was stretched out flat on the grass. A litwick sat beside him while an eevee napped on his chest. And wandering around him were several green-coated deerling grazing.
"What is it?" Naruto gasped, eyeing the shadow-and-mask creature warily.
"A yamask," the Nara boy replied. "A pure ghost type."
Naruto shivered and hugged himself.
"I got a ghost, too!" Chouji said cheerfully and patted a bluish-green monster that sat beside him that looked like a cross between a robot and an ancient clay statue. "It's a golett."
Cool," Naruto replied as he cautiously eyed the golem-like thing. It's a good thing I didn't find oneI might've got another ghost by mistake!
The Akimichi beamed and fed his own eevee one of his potato chips. A cubchoo with a snotty nose was already munching on a pawful of chips while a sandile stared at the snack food enviously. An ice cream cone-like vanillite was being chased around by a trubbish, which was being chased by a roggenrola.
Naruto looked over the group of pokémon. "Hey, Shikamaru, are all these deerling yours?"
"Yep," Shikamaru muttered.
"He got eight of them!" Chouji added.
"Eight?" Naruto choked. "Why'd you get so many?"
"Most of them are for my family," the Nara boy answered.
Naruto tilted his head as he watched one of the plant-like deer descend on a clump of clover plants. "What are they going to do with some many of them?"
"My family use stantler antlers to make medicine," Shikamaru said, slowly sitting up so that the eevee on his chest slid into his lap. "When deerling evolves, it gets antlers too. And as they're part grass-type, that increases their potential as medicinal ingredients. The more specimens that I can give them, the better."
"Oh!" Naruto nodded in understanding. "I get it."
"Alright," the weary photographer said. "Smile!"
The camera clicked, flashed, and then Ino was bustling over to the sidelines with her monster collection following in her wake.
"Your turn, Chouji!" she sang. "Hey there Naruto, Forehead Girl, Sasuke-kun!"
"Ino-pig!" Sakura growled, her green eyes spitting sparks.
Sasuke pointedly ignored the flirtatious wink that the blonde girl threw in his direction.
"Only one group at a time is allowed by the photographers," Obito said and gently tapped Naruto on the head with his walking stick. "This way, children," he said and beckoned towards the main lodge. "Your turn for pictures will come soon enough."
Inside the lodge a bunch of tables and chairs had been set up. There were a few other groups there scribbling away at the surveys that Obito had mentioned. Chikara, the owner, was also present and chatting with one of the groups with his pair of chatots still riding his shoulders.
Their group settled at one of the free tables and waited. Obito waved over another staffer who came over and provided the surveys and pencils to fill them out, as well as some sort of paperwork for their guide to work on. But before they could get started, Chikara swept up to them, leaning some of his bulk on their table.
"Good afternoon!" he smiled. "I trust that your safari was exciting and eventful?"
"Yeah," Naruto smiled.
"Yes, sir," Sakura replied.
Sasuke just nodded sharply.
"Excellent." The hefty man's eyes drifted over the young trainers briefly before locking on to Naruto. "You were the one with the egg, right? Has it hatched yet?"
"Um, yeah," Naruto nodded, surprised.
"Show me!" Chikara commanded jovially. "It's rare that a trainer brings an egg into the park, and rarer still that it hatches there."
Naruto blinked and hesitantly brought out the pokéball and released the hatchling onto the tabletop.
"Ah, an eevee," Chikara nodded approvingly and patted the baby on the head. "And what is this fine little fellow's name?"
" Naruto's brain went very unhelpfully blank. I don't know!
The baby eevee leaned back to stare up at the man in the garish, rock star-like outfit with a puzzled expression. "Vee?"
"Vee!" Naruto latched onto the vocalization. "His name is Vee."
Wait, crap, that's dumb!
But it was too late to take it back and Chikara nodded gravely. "A good name."
The Safari Zone owner turned his attention to Naruto's comrades and the blond boy relaxed a little. Vee was intrigued by the pieces of paper on the table and tried to chew on them. Naruto moved the surveys out of the eevee's reach and took a quick peek at some of the questions.
Ugh, it's almost like a school assignment
Chikara exchanged some pleasantries with Sakura and tried to start a little conversation with Sasuke with little success. Then he had a quiet chat with Obito. Naruto expected him to leave, but whatever Obito told him brought the large man's attention back to the blond boy.
"Tell me, young man, you have acquired a pokémon that is unusually-colored, correct?" he asked, leaning in so close that Naruto started to edge back in his chair.
yeah?" the boy squeaked.
"How lucky for you!" Chikara smiled and winked. "You get two photographs, young man."
And then the odd, large man with his chatots bustled off elsewhere in the lodge, leaving Naruto scratching his head.
What the heck?
Demon had not appreciated being "checked-in" at this Safari Zone place. Without being able to hear Naruto's voice he had no way to gauge the time while he sat confined in his pokéball and waited. It was like being trapped in limbo, and he was very glad when it was over and he was released again.
The ninetales found himself in the corner of a large room dotted with tables and populated by a few small groups of humans. Naruto was there, along with the pink-haired girl and the sullen black-haired boy. There was also an adult with black hair, orange sunglasses, scars, and a walking stick sitting awkwardly in a chair with them.
"Wow," the strange adult whistled softly. "I really, really need you to pick some lottery numbers for me."
A small body snuggled up against Demon's foreleg and he looked down to find a little eevee staring up at him.
"Hey, Demon, this is Vee," Naruto said, gesturing to the very friendly little eevee. "He hatched from that egg that Mom gave me."
:.Oh.: Demon blinked down at the brown fluff ball. :Er
Naruto uncorked Bolt and the pikachu gaped at the baby eevee when he was informed of its origin.
:Friend!: Vee squealed and immediately turned his attention to the electric mouse.
yes, we'll be friends,: Bolt smiled and hugged the little eevee.
:Yay!: Vee cried, wiggling in delight.
:Cheerful little thing, isn't he?: Demon muttered. I wonder if I was that stupid when I was a hatchling.
Bolt shot him a brief glare before ignoring him completely.
Naruto then released another monster, this time from an odd camouflage-colored pokéball. It was a more mature eevee, and female according to Demon's nose. And instead of being brown, she was gray.
"And this is Eve," Naruto said. "Be nice to her, okay?"
You're different,: Bolt blurted out in shock.
The gray eevee flinched and seemed to curl in on herself, her dark eyes darting around as if seeking some escape route.
:She's fine,: Demon said, smacking the pikachu in the back of the head with one of his blue-tipped tails. :.Don't say stupid things.:
:Hey!: Bolt squeaked indignantly. :You:
:.Play?: Vee cried eagerly.
:N-no,: Eve gulped nervously. :They weren't playing, little one. Come here.:
Vee cheerfully padded over to her side and chirped happily when she started tongue-grooming his ear. Bolt tugged on his right ear and stared at Eve, as if she was something more puzzling than an eevee of a different color. Demon rolled his eyes at that reaction and turned his attention to Naruto. The boy had another safari-ball in his handlike he was debating on whether or not to unleash something elseand he looked very troubled as he watched the two eevees interact.
"Hey, Naruto!" The boy with the odd red marks on his cheeks that loved dogs jogged over with his constant growlithe companion. "Have you
no way!" He pointed at the pair of eevees. "You got that one?"
"Uh, yeah," Naruto shrugged, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly.
Akamaru trotted right up to the pair and sniffed at them. :Huh, how come you're not brown?:
:Friend?: Vee wondered, tilting his head at the fire dog.
:Eh?: Akamaru snorted. :.Don't be stupid! You don't follow Kiba; you're not part of my pack. We're not friends.:
Huh?: Vee blinked, apparently baffled by this answer.
:He's just a hatchling. He's too young to understand,: Demon sighed. If he thinks that every pokémon that he meets is his friend, how is he going to be able to fight seriously?
:.Oh.: Akamaru returned his attention to Eve. :So, how come you're not brown?:
I don't know,: Eve gulped, cringing away from the growlithe.
:Aw, c'mon,: Akamaru whined. :It's a simple question.:
Demon frowned and placed himself between the growlithe and the eevees. :.Buzz off you nosey dog. She's not brown for the same reason for the same reason that I'm not yellow.:
Akamaru huffed and returned to his master's side.
"Man, now you have two of them," Kiba grumbled. "How'd you catch it?"
"Well, Vee was playing around in a bush and I tried to pull him out, but I grabbed the gray one instead. She talked to Obito's houndoom, I guess, and then
it was like she begged me to take her," Naruto said with a shrug.
"No way," Kiba scoffed.
"That's how I saw it," Sakura chimed in from her seat at the table. "Naruto didn't even want her and it was like she was trying to climb up his leg."
"You didn't want that eevee?" Kiba sputtered in disbelief.
"My egg had already hatched into an eevee so it wasn't like I needed another one," Naruto answered weakly.
"You're crazy," Kiba said and shook his head. "Shikamaru and Chouji are never going to believe this."
The canine-loving boy walked off, still shaking his head, with his puppy in tow. Demon watched them go and then poked at the pokéball still in Naruto's hands with his nose. The blond boy jumped and looked at the object in his grasp like he'd forgotten it had existed.
"Uh, I was going to let everyone out so that you could meet before the picture, but there's not nearly enough room in here," Naruto explained. "But I'm going to need your help with this one," he said, giving significant looks to both Demon and Bolt. "She's a sneaky one and I'm afraid that she'll cause trouble when it's time for the picture to be taken. So
A little black fox appeared from the green-splotched ball capsule. It had sharp blue eyes, red paws, and the tip of the tuft of fur on its head was red. The creature glowered fiercely at him, Bolt, the eevees (although the gray one made it do a slight double-take), and Naruto.
:What are you supposed to be?: Demon demanded.
:Friend!: Vee cried happily and pounced upon the mysterious black fox.
:Get off of me, you moron!: Kitsune snarled. :I'm not your friend; I don't even like you!:
:Hey, he's just a baby! There's no reason to be so mean to him,: Bolt scolded. :I don't listen to stupid human slaves like you!: Kitsune barked and shoved the friendly little eevee away roughly.
:.Play?: Vee asked hopefully, crouching down and wagging his fluffy tail.
:I don't think that she wants to play, little one,: Eve said.
:You haven't answered my question,: Demon growled. :And I am most certainly not a 'stupid human slave'!:
:If you submit to a human, you're a worthless idiot,: the black creature sneered.
:Hey!: Electricity danced over Bolt's red cheeks. :We're not worthless idiots!:
Kitsune gave him a disdainful look that morphed into a nasty little smirk. She hopped into the air, flipped, glowed, and when she landed she appeared to be a male pikachu that looked suspiciously like Bolt. But the imitation was imperfectthe second pikachu had badly crossed eyes, a droopy ear, pigeon toes, and a bit of drool leaking out of the corner of its mouth.
:Wah!: Bolt yelped and jumped back at the sudden transformation. But when the mockery of it sank in, much bigger sparks flashed from his electric sacs. :You
:Funny!: Vee giggled.
:That's so mean,: Eve murmured.
Demon frowned as he studied the insulting likeness. It looked very real, very solid, but when he glanced at the shadow it cast
it didn't match. The black fox hadn't truly transformed, she'd just generated some kind of illusion. So Demon cracked her over the head with one of his tails and stood to loom over her as the false image fell apart.
:Now you listen here,: he growled. :You are going to behave yourself, and if you don't I will set your tail on fire!: He snorted, spraying a few fiery sparks around her for emphasis. :.Do you get me?:
She glared up at him defiantly, but in the end she crumbled under his steady, unimpressed stare.
:She's awful,: Bolt sniffed. :She should be your girlfriend, Demon.:
The silver ninetales flicked one of his tails into the pikachu's face.
It was hard for Naruto to produce a natural smile as he stood for his picture. Unlike Ino, who had insisted on arranging her own photo, he'd been quite content to let the professional do his job. What had really worried him was that it would all fall apart before the shutter could click closed.
Vee didn't seem the least bit interested in sitting still on the sidelines and staying out of the way of the boring box perched on three legs (since he hadn't originated in the park, he wasn't allowed in the picture). Mushi the joltik didn't seem able to sit still for more than a few seconds. Gamatatsu had inadvertently started a small fight between Gator and the ducklett he'd captured for his mother by flopping around like a fish out of water and there was still a hint of tension hovering around the three of them. Eve seemed overwhelmed by the wide variety of pokémon around her and sort of terrified by the mysterious camera that she had to pose for. There hadn't been any issues with Rasen, Flurry, or Onibi so far, but
then there was Kitsune.
To hopefully insure that she didn't bolt again, he had Bolt, Demon, Sandy, and Gamakichi were arrayed around the group just outside of the frame. So, seeing no escape route, she'd settled for constantly invoking her illusion ability just before the photographer was about to take the picture. That made everyone tense and increasingly cranky and dragged out the picture-taking process into a torture session.
Sasuke hadn't had any problems with his pokémon for the photo shoot. His purloin, deino, pawniard, tynamo, blitzle, snivy, mienfoo, and eevee had been perfectly well behaved. The only problem was in getting the Uchiha boy to smile without looking angry.
And Sakura's photo had gone even better. Her alomomola, audino, blitzle, solosis, cottonee, axew, porygon, and torchic had really gotten into the experience, posing with enthusiasm. Of their party, Sakura was clearly the photographer's favorite.
Why me? Naruto sighed as he stood there and waited with dread. No one else had so many problems with their picture!
Just before his group had been up for their pictures, Kiba, Hinata, and Shino had done it with all the ease that Sakura and Sasuke had.
Shino's picture had consisted almost entirely of bug pokémon. The photographer's female assistant had been very creeped out by the small swarm, and the lone eevee had looked lost among the insects. Naruto recognized the venonat and the joltik Shino had, but the dwebble, durant, sewaddle, venipede, shelmet, karrablast, and larvesta he'd had to look up in his pokédex.
Kiba had been very irritated when he hadn't been allowed to let Akamaru in the picture when it had been his turn. Naruto knew about most of the pokémon that had been featured with Kiba, but he'd been surprised by the number of lillipupsexpecting to see two and seeing six instead. When he'd asked the Inuzuka about that, Kiba had explained that most of the puppies were destined for his mother and sister, who would evaluate their potential for a new breeding line.
When Hinata had been photographed, they'd had some trouble keeping her from getting embarrassed and turning red. She'd had a nice collection of cute pokémon that both photography assistants couldn't help but comment on them. Her chikorita, ducklett, emolga, and minccino had basked in the attention while her audino, pidove, woobat, and eevee had been just as bashful as the Hyuuga girl herself.
"Alright," the weary photographer sighed. "Let's try this one last time
Naruto held his breath as he smiled and
"Fantastic!" the photographer gushed. "Now, if you could just move along"
The male photography assistant tugged on his boss's arm and whispered something into his ear.
"Ah, yes, you're also scheduled for a second picture," the photographer said. "If you can send all of your pokémon except for that beautiful eevee of yours off to the side, we'll get this over with as quickly as possible."
With a little coaxing, Naruto shooed most of his creatures off to the side where Sasuke and Sakura were impatiently waiting. Now that they were free from the agony of standing still for the picture, most of his monsters were much more relaxed. Kitsune tried to slip away from the group, but Demon was right on her and held her in place by stepping on her tail with his right forepaw.
"Now come closer so that we can get a nice tight shot," the photographer instructed.
Naruto followed the instructions the man gave him and stood still as the female assistant arranged a trembling Eve on his shoulder. As he rubbed her fluffy neck to try and calm her down he thought about what he was going to do with her. Sasuke had offered to trade his pawniard for the gray eevee, and Ino had pounced on him when she heard that he had Eve with the demand that she be able to borrow it at least twice since she'd almost caught it.
What am I going to do?
"Okay, smile one last time," the photographer commanded as he looked through his viewfinder. "Smile
"Beautiful!" he gushed, clasping his hands over his heart. "I would very much like to have a print of this for my portfolio."
"Okay?" Naruto agreed. What's a portfolio?
"Thank you!" the man beamed.
"Is everything going well?" Chikara asked as he and his shoulder chatots strode onto the scene with a mousy little Safari Zone employee trotting after him.
"We've just finished with this group, Mr. Chikara," the photographer said with a smile. "Hopefully there won't be too many more to do so that we can get back to my darkroom and start developing the film."
"My staff tells me that there are only two groups of three remaining," the hefty Safari Zone owner replied and then turned to Naruto. "Thank you for standing for a second photograph. It will be displayed in a place of honor beside another very lucky past patron."
The pseudo-rock star gestured to the much smaller and thinner man who had followed him, and the employee uncovered a framed photograph. The picture featured a boy that looked to be about Naruto's age. He was very dark-skinned with strangely fair hair, sunglasses, and baggy clothes. The boy had a smirk on his face and his arm hooked around the neck of a tauros
that was yellow with a bright green mane.
"This special tauros was captured in this park a few decades ago, before I came to own it," Chikara explained.
"Who is he?" Naruto asked curiously.
"His real name is written down in the records somewhere," the employee holding the picture frame shrugged, "but he insisted on being known as 'Killer B'."