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Challenge Thee Scraemblee Chaellengee - Mark 2

Discussion in 'Orange Islands' started by Its_A_Random, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. Ziposaki

    Ziposaki

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2011
    Messages:
    617
    Ahh I really shouldn't be saying this, but chapter 2 of my LG scramble should be up at latest Friday. Oh, I'm totally gonna regret saying that.
  2. Pika25

    Pika25

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2007
    Messages:
    957
    I did a Pikachu solo run of Diamond, when Pikachu is normally unavailable until Trophy Garden; you can get your starter and a wild Pokemon on Routes 201, 202 or Lake Verity; that unlocks the ability to trade. This is SO unlike BW.
  3. MysticZap

    MysticZap

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2012
    Messages:
    19
    Here's a mini update.

    -Pure evolved
    -Sneak swept both of the trainers in the gym.
    -Defeated Falkner
    -Hidden Power is Flying
  4. Professor Science

    Professor Science

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2011
    Messages:
    320
    Okay then, in that case it's really up to King Serperior as to which version of Goku I should have. I've already caught him and trained him a bit, but it's not a big deal. (btw, I caught it in a Master Ball for the lolz.)
  5. Jimera0

    Jimera0 You don't understand, Edgar is the one in the hole!

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    1,603
    Just a quick reminder to everyone to

    Send your second round votes to WaterWarrior for the Scramble Awards!

    Remember, there are TWO rounds of voting here, so even if you've already voted for the first round (from page 90-95) you still need to vote for the second round. Go here for the nominees that made it to the second round! hurry and vote now people, there's not much time left!

    Also, great updates people. I'd go into detail more but it's late and I read them a few hours ago so I don't exactly remember the details.

    As for my own, I finished grinding for Blaine so I should be able to get the rest of the chapter done in one shot. it's just a matter of finding a night where I feel up to sloughing through two gyms now.
  6. King Serperior

    King Serperior

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    2,964
    Chapter three is now up!!!!

    You guys and gals know what I expect: Coments and Criticism!!

    Remember, this is in my Sig!!
  7. Axmaster68

    Axmaster68

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Messages:
    700
    Nice work, KS! Hopefully Sebastian will serve you well starting next chapter!!

    Sebastian, "Yes, my lord."
  8. King Serperior

    King Serperior

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    2,964
    Please note that my chapters end upon the defeat of a gym.

    I will not be in the desert until the beginning of CP. 5 >.>
  9. Professor Science

    Professor Science

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2011
    Messages:
    320
    Nice! That Wattson solo looked ridiculously easy.
  10. Jimera0

    Jimera0 You don't understand, Edgar is the one in the hole!

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    1,603
    Well duh KS, of course your Wattson battle was easy, you could soak up Self-Destruct with a 4x resist and could use multiple Pokemon >:(.

    But seriously, good chapter! I sometimes regret that I tend to give out late game Pokemon though, because I don't get to see them in action until late on... Well that's no fault of yours!
  11. user 18

    user 18

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    169
    In celebration of 'because I feel like it,' I will be taking a scramble challenge for FireRed version.

    Rules:
    1. Nicknames are a must.
    2. No Profanity.
    3. Medium Difficulty (I hope I'm ready for this XD).
    4. I reserve the right to reject any pokemon I deem unfair or too hard, but I will not reject a pokemon becasue I don't like it. If I reject your pokemon without explanation, ask me for one.
    5. No forced grinding. Restrictions such as 'kill 50 fire types' will be ignored. I don't mind grinding to get an attack, or to beat a gym leader, but I only will grind if its absolutely necessary to proceed. I want fun, not monotony.
    6. Original challenges please. No copy-paste.
    7. Reservations are fine, but don't make them unnecessarily long. I realize IRL stuff comes up, but I can give away your reservation if you're taking far too long.
    8. Precluded Pokemon Lines:

    Squirtle.
    Pidgey.
    Geodude.
    Eevee (Except Vaporeon).
    Anything from Gen II or III. Keep it in Kanto.

    I may or may not be doing postgame stuff (Sevii Islands and Mewtwo).

    If you have any additional questions, send me a PM or just ask in the thread.

    I probably won't get started straight away, as I have about 180 pokemon to trade off the game cart, and about 530 hrs worth of saved game time to deal with - I've literally never restarted this game.

    Also:

    Updates are a distinct possibility, but don't expect them to be any great literary work.
  12. Treadshot A1

    Treadshot A1

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Messages:
    1,253
    Reserving aCharmander for User 18

    Take Prime, the Charmander. Since i just bought a Asus Transformer Prime Tablet, I might as well sum up my feelingsin theform of a fire breathing lizard...

    ...ok, that didnt make any sense. Still,inspirationcan come from anywhere, right?

    Prime is a pokemon that starts out with incredible specs. You may soft reset until you geta Charmander with the Nature you like (this is at your discretion as to what's a good nature). Since it starts out with such a great nature, it doesnt ever need any X items (it's already better than anything else).

    Prime also has quad-core capabilities, so it must put all four of its moveslots towards beating the competition. Use only damage dealing moves.

    Sadly, Prime lacks any software to take advantage of its full capabiities. Limit Charmander's moves to 70BP or less. Variable BP moves are allowed.

    Due to lacking 3G capabilities, Prime finds it hard to operate outside of cities. When travelling outside of a city or town, Prime cannot use HM or field moves (you may use things like Cut in battle, but not to cut down trees). Also, you must use moves with 60 or less BP. Vaiable BP moves are allowed.

    Prime does have a very useful companion in a keyboard dock, so it must always hold an item that affects one of its moves (asap). This can be things like Petaya Berry to boost move power, or things like Life Orb and Silk Scarf, etc.

    Since Prime is almost always instantly upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich, you must feed Prime at least 10 food items to evolve into Charmander (Berries count, so does Lemonade, Fresh Water, ertc.), andanother 20 to evolve into Charizard.

    Oh, and for every pokemon soloed by Prime, you may increase it's BP limits (70 in cities, 60 outside) by 0.5 BP. The pokemon must be soloed before they haveused more than 2 different moves (so if a rattata uses Tackle and Growl, that's fair game, but Tackle, Growl and Tail Whip means that solo doesn't count), since all its competitors run dual core.

    Last but not least, since the Prime often requires the top to be squeezed to work, if Prime ever gets hit by Bite or Crunch, you may raise its BP limits by 5 BP.
  13. user 18

    user 18

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    169
    Oh crap XD

    did yaya ever actually take a challenge or did we just all give him challenges and everyone forgot about it?
  14. Mafeking

    Mafeking channels his inner Wolverine
    is a Contributor Alumnus

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2012
    Messages:
    462
    Reserving Shellder. RIGHT NOW.

    Okay! Here we go. You'll need the Super Rod to get Shellder, which means you'll have to get the PokeFlute to beat up Snorlax and then get to the Fishing Guru. Or you could go the backwards way from Fuchsia, I guess. Whatever. Anyway, Shellder can be caught by fishing in Pallet or Vermillion, so take care of that. Sorry this is like mid-game stuff, by the way... but I really like Shellder.

    Shellder in both locations can be caught at levels 15-25.

    1) Now, your Shellder's kind of like a total nerd. It adores science. But it also wants to be super cool and possibly the best friend ever. As such, name it Bromine. This is super, because it contains the word "bro," is a chemical element, and is in the liquid stage naturally! It totally fits a nerdy Shellder.

    2) Because Shellder is a nerd, it wants to learn a lot about science! It's fascinated by the Northern Lights and their auroras, of course, so have it learn Aurora Beam. (IMPORTANT: if you catch a Shellder level 22 or above, make sure it learned Aurora Beam in the wild! A Shellder below this level will learn Aurora Beam at your command at level 22).

    3) Shellder may be a nerd, but it knows that both it and its evolution are pretty buff in the physical Defense category. However, it's also aware that its Special Defense points are way too low for a student of science! That's like, a C-! As such, teach it Protect. If Shellder gets hit with a Special attack on one turn (remember this is before the physical/special split) then you must use Protect the next turn in hopes of stalling out the opponent.

    4) (i) Your Shellder, as a scientist-in-training, is fascinated with Silph Co. If you choose to get Shellder before you defeat Silph Co (probably for the best, given this is kinda late-game) then have Shellder go out first against Giovanni in the Silph Co battle (not bad, given he leads with Nidorino). If you choose this option, Aurora Beam may be replaced with Ice Beam right before you challenge the Elite Four, or upon gaining level 49 which is when Shellder learns it naturally (this applies even if you've evolved to Cloyster by this point).

    4) (ii) If you get Shellder after you defeat Silph Co. then have Shellder solo Giovanni in the 8th Gym battle. If you choose this option, Aurora Beam may be replaced with Ice Beam directly before this battle, but not any sooner.

    5) Shellder is greatly intrigued by his evolution process, as it comes via a Water Stone and not by natural means! He is a scientific anomaly. It's beautiful. You may evolve Shellder at any time after level 29 (this is when he learns Protect, that's why) but if you evolve him into Cloyster before you finish the Pokemon Mansion, Cloyster must lead your party throughout the trip. After all, it's a haven of abandoned scientific research! Make sure you grab the Blizzard TM here! (It doesn't need to be taught, but can if you'd like).

    RECAP:
    -Shellder, named Bromine.
    -Teach it Aurora Beam and Protect*.
    *If hit by a Special attack, use Protect the next turn.
    -Either lead against Giovanni in Silph Co^ or solo Giovanni in the 8th Gym+.
    ^Replace Aurora Beam with Ice Beam upon level 49 or upon arriving at Elite Four.
    +Replace Aurora Beam with Ice Beam before the Giovanni Gym battle.
    -Evolve any time you want, after level 29. However, if you evolve before you finish the Pokemon Mansion then Cloyster must lead your party the whole trip through it.
  15. user 18

    user 18

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    169
    @ Treadshot - Accepted

    What if I run out of PP?
  16. Professor Science

    Professor Science

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2011
    Messages:
    320
    Reserving for user 18.

    Take Rubble the Onix. Your Onix is annoyed that it's just a pile of (animate) rocks, but he's going to prove that he's not like all the other rocks. He's... a champion!! So, to prove that he's not any ordinary rock, Rubble may never learn a Rock-type move other than Sandstorm. It wants to prove that it can be better than any other rock, so teach it Dragonbreath and Iron Tail, because Dragons are the best pokemon and Steel types always beat Rock types. However, Rubble has a problem- He has too many weaknesses. So, Rubble must face his fears and solo one of Erkia's pokemon and the Karate Master in the Dojo. (Rubble can also solo one pokemon from each of Lorelei and Bruno, but this is optional.)

    Good luck!
  17. Mafeking

    Mafeking channels his inner Wolverine
    is a Contributor Alumnus

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2012
    Messages:
    462
    Of Protect? Then just ignore that restriction. Don't make it any harder on yourself than you have to, haha. Additionally, how about you change it so that you only have to do that in Gym battles? That's a bit less drudgery. When I made that part up I was kind of looking for something to fill an empty hole in the reasoning behind having Protect, haha.

    Additionally! I'm evidently not good at conveying what I mean. You don't have to stall out the opponent with Protect, just block the attack immediately following the Special one. Do it only once per battle too.
  18. Treadshot A1

    Treadshot A1

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    Messages:
    1,253
    OMG, someoneaccepted a Treadshot challenge????!!!!! [/sarcasm]

    I should clarify, when you solo things before they have used more than2 moves, they are allowed to have used those two moves as ften as they feel like. So, Growl, Growl, Tackle, Growl is still an acceptable solo, as only two moves were used over the course of 4 turns.

    Oh, and the maximum BP you my raise to is 150. Because there's really no point going any further, lol.
  19. Its_A_Random

    Its_A_Random Is armed with many Honedges
    is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributor
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    Messages:
    8,241
    user 18, I give thee a Magnemite. This Magnemite is like a generator of sorts & in order to be effective/more powerful, it needs to gain power, but if you're not careful, it will lose power. How this "power" is regulated is like this.

    • Magnemite starts at 50 Power
    • Each time you solo a non-Vs. Seeker rematched trainer with it, its power goes up by 10
    • Each time Magnemite faints, its power goes down by 10.
    • The Power level equates to the maximum BP threshold as to what Magnemite can use
      • i.e. Magnemite may not use any move with a BP which exceeds this threshold.
      • For example, If Magnemite's Power was 100, it can use moves like Thunderbolt, but cannot use moves like Thunder
      • All moves with -- or ?? BP are treated as 0 in this circumstance
    Ultimately, since you want Medium difficulty, it must solo either a Gym Leader, or an Elite 4 member, I don't care who you pick. Name this thing Battery.

    Have fun.
  20. loudkirbyking

    loudkirbyking

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2009
    Messages:
    407
    user, take forth 'Shadow' the Nidoran(Male). This pokemon believes it is a shadow pokemon, and thus, must Shadow Blitz everything. In order to keep up this act, it must hit the foe with a super-effective move. Also, should Nidoran stay out in the field for 3 turns, it goes into Reverse mode. You cannot attack with Nidoran for that turn or switch him out(Using moves that fail are fine). To evolve Shadow, you must go through reverse mode 3 times during trainer battles.(I suggest bug catchers with lots of Caterpie). Once a Nidorino, Shadow realizes that his friendship is slowly rising, but his heart is still closed. Continue to only use Super effective, but he must finish the purification to evolve. To do this, he must go to the purification stone in Agate... Also known as the Celadon gym. Nidorino must at least make an appearance in every battle of Erika's gym, since you'd normally have to smash through trainers and leader alike in-game. Now, you may change his name to whatever you like. Now, since Nidoking is purified, it must know and keep the last level-up move you learned. To prove it's love to you, it must destroy one of the Elite 4 members by himself. Feel free to abuse every TM possible.

    Summary moment!
    While Nidoran(Male)
    -Only use SE moves on foes
    -Attacks 3 turns, then cannot act(AKA reverse mode)
    -Evolve after fighting trainers and being in reverse mode 3 times.
    While Nidorino
    -Only use SE moves on foes
    -Attacks 3 turns, then cannot act
    -Must make an appearance in all trainers and Erika to evolve(Other challenges can be higher priority if impossible to make an appearance in a battle)
    While Nidoking
    Must keep last level up move learned
    Must solo any E4 member(If not possible, pick something epic to solo.)

    If that's too bad, let me know. I'll lighten it up for ya.
  21. user 18

    user 18

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    169
    Do I keep the last level-up move he learned as Nidorino, or do I continually replace the last level-up move as Nidoking learns more?

    All are accepted. Would ideally like another pokemon before Surge.
  22. King Serperior

    King Serperior

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    2,964
    User 18, can I reserve a Pokemon for you? I have classes until 11:00 this morning, so I am unable to edit right now.

    Curse College classes >:(
  23. user 18

    user 18

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    169
    sure, no problem KS.
  24. King Serperior

    King Serperior

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    2,964
    Ok, Here goes User 18's ultra, awesome, mega challenge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Take Multi the Clefairy!!

    What does Multi do? It learns multiple moves from multiple places!!!!!!!!

    Varible #1. Learn one Lv. up move.
    Varible #2. Learn one HM move.
    Varible #3. Learn one TM move.
    Varible #4. Learn one Tutor move.

    None of these moves can be of the same type.

    Please take note that this pokemon is not allowed to evolve until the varibles have been covered. If you evolve Clefairy, whatever moves that it knows can never be altered. Please choose wisely.

    You cannot use the same move twice in a row as you are unable to vary your strategy.

    Solo Lance because Multi knows that he does not vary his types well. You must use all 4 moves against his Dragonite.
  25. user 18

    user 18

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    169
    User 18: FireRed Scramble

    Thanks KS. That makes 6.

    May as well make this the base post - If I do updates, they'll be here.


    The Team:

    Multi the Clefairy (King Serperior) (open)
    Take Multi the Clefairy!!

    What does Multi do? It learns multiple moves from multiple places!!!!!!!!

    Varible #1. Learn one Lv. up move.
    Varible #2. Learn one HM move.
    Varible #3. Learn one TM move.
    Varible #4. Learn one Tutor move.

    None of these moves can be of the same type.

    Please take note that this pokemon is not allowed to evolve until the varibles have been covered. If you evolve Clefairy, whatever moves that it knows can never be altered. Please choose wisely.

    You cannot use the same move twice in a row as you are unable to vary your strategy.

    Solo Lance because Multi knows that he does not vary his types well. You must use all 4 moves against his Dragonite.


    Shadow the Male Nidoran (LoudKirbyKing) (open)
    user, take forth 'Shadow' the Nidoran(Male). This pokemon believes it is a shadow pokemon, and thus, must Shadow Blitz everything. In order to keep up this act, it must hit the foe with a super-effective move. Also, should Nidoran stay out in the field for 3 turns, it goes into Reverse mode. You cannot attack with Nidoran for that turn or switch him out(Using moves that fail are fine). To evolve Shadow, you must go through reverse mode 3 times during trainer battles.(I suggest bug catchers with lots of Caterpie). Once a Nidorino, Shadow realizes that his friendship is slowly rising, but his heart is still closed. Continue to only use Super effective, but he must finish the purification to evolve. To do this, he must go to the purification stone in Agate... Also known as the Celadon gym. Nidorino must at least make an appearance in every battle of Erika's gym, since you'd normally have to smash through trainers and leader alike in-game. Now, you may change his name to whatever you like. Now, since Nidoking is purified, it must know and keep the last level-up move you learned. To prove it's love to you, it must destroy one of the Elite 4 members by himself. Feel free to abuse every TM possible.

    Summary moment!
    While Nidoran(Male)
    -Only use SE moves on foes
    -Attacks 3 turns, then cannot act(AKA reverse mode)
    -Evolve after fighting trainers and being in reverse mode 3 times.
    While Nidorino
    -Only use SE moves on foes
    -Attacks 3 turns, then cannot act
    -Must make an appearance in all trainers and Erika to evolve(Other challenges can be higher priority if impossible to make an appearance in a battle)
    While Nidoking
    Must keep last level up move learned
    Must solo any E4 member(If not possible, pick something epic to solo.)


    Battery the Magnemite (Its_A_Random) (open)
    user 18, I give thee a Magnemite. This Magnemite is like a generator of sorts & in order to be effective/more powerful, it needs to gain power, but if you're not careful, it will lose power. How this "power" is regulated is like this.
    Magnemite starts at 50 Power
    Each time you solo a non-Vs. Seeker rematched trainer with it, its power goes up by 10
    Each time Magnemite faints, its power goes down by 10.
    The Power level equates to the maximum BP threshold as to what Magnemite can use
    i.e. Magnemite may not use any move with a BP which exceeds this threshold.
    For example, If Magnemite's Power was 100, it can use moves like Thunderbolt, but cannot use moves like Thunder
    All moves with -- or ?? BP are treated as 0 in this circumstance
    Ultimately, since you want Medium difficulty, it must solo either a Gym Leader, or an Elite 4 member, I don't care who you pick. Name this thing Battery.


    Rubble the Onix (Professor Science) (open)
    Take Rubble the Onix. Your Onix is annoyed that it's just a pile of (animate) rocks, but he's going to prove that he's not like all the other rocks. He's... a champion!! So, to prove that he's not any ordinary rock, Rubble may never learn a Rock-type move other than Sandstorm. It wants to prove that it can be better than any other rock, so teach it Dragonbreath and Iron Tail, because Dragons are the best pokemon and Steel types always beat Rock types. However, Rubble has a problem- He has too many weaknesses. So, Rubble must face his fears and solo one of Erkia's pokemon and the Karate Master in the Dojo. (Rubble can also solo one pokemon from each of Lorelei and Bruno, but this is optional.)


    Bromine the Shellder (Mafeking) (open)
    Okay! Here we go. You'll need the Super Rod to get Shellder, which means you'll have to get the PokeFlute to beat up Snorlax and then get to the Fishing Guru. Or you could go the backwards way from Fuchsia, I guess. Whatever. Anyway, Shellder can be caught by fishing in Pallet or Vermillion, so take care of that. Sorry this is like mid-game stuff, by the way... but I really like Shellder.

    Shellder in both locations can be caught at levels 15-25.

    1) Now, your Shellder's kind of like a total nerd. It adores science. But it also wants to be super cool and possibly the best friend ever. As such, name it Bromine. This is super, because it contains the word "bro," is a chemical element, and is in the liquid stage naturally! It totally fits a nerdy Shellder.

    2) Because Shellder is a nerd, it wants to learn a lot about science! It's fascinated by the Northern Lights and their auroras, of course, so have it learn Aurora Beam. (IMPORTANT: if you catch a Shellder level 22 or above, make sure it learned Aurora Beam in the wild! A Shellder below this level will learn Aurora Beam at your command at level 22).

    3) Shellder may be a nerd, but it knows that both it and its evolution are pretty buff in the physical Defense category. However, it's also aware that its Special Defense points are way too low for a student of science! That's like, a C-! As such, teach it Protect. If Shellder gets hit with a Special attack on one turn (remember this is before the physical/special split) then you must use Protect the next turn in hopes of stalling out the opponent.

    4) (i) Your Shellder, as a scientist-in-training, is fascinated with Silph Co. If you choose to get Shellder before you defeat Silph Co (probably for the best, given this is kinda late-game) then have Shellder go out first against Giovanni in the Silph Co battle (not bad, given he leads with Nidorino). If you choose this option, Aurora Beam may be replaced with Ice Beam right before you challenge the Elite Four, or upon gaining level 49 which is when Shellder learns it naturally (this applies even if you've evolved to Cloyster by this point).

    4) (ii) If you get Shellder after you defeat Silph Co. then have Shellder solo Giovanni in the 8th Gym battle. If you choose this option, Aurora Beam may be replaced with Ice Beam directly before this battle, but not any sooner.

    5) Shellder is greatly intrigued by his evolution process, as it comes via a Water Stone and not by natural means! He is a scientific anomaly. It's beautiful. You may evolve Shellder at any time after level 29 (this is when he learns Protect, that's why) but if you evolve him into Cloyster before you finish the Pokemon Mansion, Cloyster must lead your party throughout the trip. After all, it's a haven of abandoned scientific research! Make sure you grab the Blizzard TM here! (It doesn't need to be taught, but can if you'd like).

    RECAP:
    -Shellder, named Bromine.
    -Teach it Aurora Beam and Protect*.
    *If hit by a Special attack, use Protect the next turn.
    -Either lead against Giovanni in Silph Co^ or solo Giovanni in the 8th Gym+.
    ^Replace Aurora Beam with Ice Beam upon level 49 or upon arriving at Elite Four.
    +Replace Aurora Beam with Ice Beam before the Giovanni Gym battle.
    -Evolve any time you want, after level 29. However, if you evolve before you finish the Pokemon Mansion then Cloyster must lead your party the whole trip through it.


    Prime the Charmander (Treadshot A1) (open)
    Take Prime, the Charmander. Since i just bought a Asus Transformer Prime Tablet, I might as well sum up my feelingsin theform of a fire breathing lizard...

    ...ok, that didnt make any sense. Still,inspirationcan come from anywhere, right?

    Prime is a pokemon that starts out with incredible specs. You may soft reset until you geta Charmander with the Nature you like (this is at your discretion as to what's a good nature). Since it starts out with such a great nature, it doesnt ever need any X items (it's already better than anything else).

    Prime also has quad-core capabilities, so it must put all four of its moveslots towards beating the competition. Use only damage dealing moves.

    Sadly, Prime lacks any software to take advantage of its full capabiities. Limit Charmander's moves to 70BP or less. Variable BP moves are allowed.

    Due to lacking 3G capabilities, Prime finds it hard to operate outside of cities. When travelling outside of a city or town, Prime cannot use HM or field moves (you may use things like Cut in battle, but not to cut down trees). Also, you must use moves with 60 or less BP. Vaiable BP moves are allowed.

    Prime does have a very useful companion in a keyboard dock, so it must always hold an item that affects one of its moves (asap). This can be things like Petaya Berry to boost move power, or things like Life Orb and Silk Scarf, etc.

    Since Prime is almost always instantly upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich, you must feed Prime at least 10 food items to evolve into Charmander (Berries count, so does Lemonade, Fresh Water, ertc.), andanother 20 to evolve into Charizard.

    Oh, and for every pokemon soloed by Prime, you may increase it's BP limits (70 in cities, 60 outside) by 0.5 BP. The pokemon must be soloed before they haveused more than 2 different moves (so if a rattata uses Tackle and Growl, that's fair game, but Tackle, Growl and Tail Whip means that solo doesn't count), since all its competitors run dual core.

    Last but not least, since the Prime often requires the top to be squeezed to work, if Prime ever gets hit by Bite or Crunch, you may raise its BP limits by 5 BP.


    The Story:

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    Prologue (open)
    So many old friends...
    The end of their world is coming. And they won't be there to see it...
    Mass migration, an exodus to the Hoenn region. Not everyone can be saved. For each one who makes the journey, another must die in their place...
    The world starts anew, and for the first time in years, six will fight again...


    Chapter 1: February 1 (open)
    beep. beep. beep.
    I tossed and turned in my bed, the slow droning of my alarm gradually breaking me from my slumber. I looked at the clock. Six thirty AM. Why would I set my alarm for such an ungodly hour.
    Beep. Beep. Beep.
    My arm flopped around on my bedside table, searching for the sleep button. I found it, pressed it.
    Silence.

    "Red......Red!"
    I groaned and rolled over. Light seeped in through the cracks in my eyelids.
    "Red!"
    Shielding my eyes from the light, I opened them wider. My mom was standing over my bed. I glanced at the clock. Ten thirty.
    "Get a move on, Red! You're already late!" Her face, and tone, softened as I rolled out of bed. "I made you breakfast." she said with a smile. "Bacon and eggs. Your favourite."
    "Be there in a minute." I staggered towards the bathroom.

    Twenty minutes later, I walked downstairs, cleaner and fresher. I grabbed a couple slices of bacon from the counter, and spooned some egg onto a plate. I sat down at the table across from my mom, eating ravenously. Sitting next to the table was a birthday gift from my mom. Nothing from dad. Again.

    I tore open the wrapper before I had finished eating. Sitting nestled within the torn paper was a new smartphone. "All boys leave home someday," my mom's voice broke into my thoughts, "but they don't have to lose touch."
    "Thanks mom!" I grinned enthusiastically.
    Her face briefly lit with emotion, but it quickly turned sour. "Professor Oak came by earlier. He was looking for you."
    I finished my food, stuck my new phone in my front pocket, and turned towards the door.
    "Bye mom!" I shouted over my shoulder, and stepped out into the world.

    Pallet town was relatively small, but visitors abounded. Professor Oak' pokemon research lab occupied most of the town's area, and the Professor's family operated a bed and breakfast in their house for travellers passing through. Some of the visitors were out and about today, admiring the garden in town square, or gazing over the river out towards distant Cinnabar Island.
    I finally arrived at Oak's lab, and let myself into the visitor's area. The only one there was Blue, Oak's grandson. Clearly he'd overslept too. The two of us were always competing. I'd managed to beat him in last year's rowing event, but only because a passing school of Magikarp had capsized his boat. He'd beaten me at everything else. Oak was nowhere to be seen, and I wasn't interested in dealing with Blue right now, so I stepped quietly out of the lab again.

    My next stop was the bed and breakfast at Oak's house. His granddaughter, Daisy, ran the place, but it was deserted. After all, it wasn't tourist season. I asked Daisy where Oak might be, but she had no idea. I thanked her, and continued my wandering. Finally, I ran into Oak near the edge of town. We stopped to chat for a while - mentioning the recent seismic activity that had been endangering travellers throughout the country - , then Oak asked I accompany him to his lab. When we got inside, Blue was already waiting.

    Tradition in Pallet town is to offer each young man a choice on his seventeenth birthday. They may choose to take a Pokemon, and travel the country, vying for one of the coveted spots in the yearly Pokemon League, or they can choose an academic field, as Oak had. I already knew what my choice was. Before Oak had finished speaking, I grabbed the closest pokeball, and released my new Pokemon. In a flash of red light, a small orange lizard appeared on the lab floor. A flame glowed brightly on its tail.

    "A fine choice!" cried Oak. "Charmander, a perennial favourite!"

    Not to be outdone, Blue also grabbed a ball. He tossed it at the ground, and a small blue turtle appeared. That one I recognized, but Oak yelled it out anyway. "Squirtle! Easy to raise, hard to control. Good luck Blue!"

    With that parting gift, we were ejected from the lab, and set loose upon the world. Before I could step out onto the road to Veridian, the next town, Blue grabbed me by the shoulder and spun me so my eyes met his. His Squirtle was already by his side. "Let's see who's pokemon is really better!" A glint appeared in his eye as he sent his pokemon into battle.

    Prime - the name I had subconsciously given to my Charmander - appeared at my side in a red flash. Unsure of what he could do, I tentatively cried out "Attack!"

    Blue laughed, but seemed taken aback that Prime had gotten in the first hit. She attacked with her claws, scratching them across the turtle's shell, looking for purchase. With her fourth hit, he found some, and flipped the turtle on its back before raking her claws across the exposed skin. Not wanting to cause any harm, I called off Prime before she could administer a killing blow, settling for the knockout, as most proper trainers do. The flame on Prime's tail let off a small spark and a puff, then settled again, but seemed to be burning more intensely. Then, she vanished in a flash of red light.

    Dismayed, Blue dashed away, leaving me standing stunned. Firstly that I had beaten him, but secondly at how violent these battles really were. I had no doubt that if the roles had been reversed, Blue would have delighted in the pain he caused to my pokemon. As I stood there, deep in thought, Oak ran up to me.

    "Red! I'm so glad I caught you!" panted Oak, obviously out of breath even just from his short exertion. " I just got word that there's a package waiting for me at the post office in Veridian. Would you mind picking it up and bringing it back for me? It's very important."

    Not wanting to disappoint the man who had just given me my very first pokemon, I quickly agreed. I bid goodbye to Oak, and, taking a deep breath, stepped out onto the open road. As I made my way down the path, I saw firsthand the effects of the reported earthquakes. Several precarious slopes dotted the landscape, broken by patches of tall grass. No wonder travelling had become more dangerous recently. It wouldn't be difficult to slide down, but getting up was out of the question without specialized equipment. The patches of tall grass, once unnoticed by the side of the road, were now daunting obstacles on the only paths between cities. During the hour-long trek to Veridian city, I encountered several species of pokemon. One I identified as Ratatta, rodent pests that the residents of Pallet town set traps and poison for, but the other - a flying species - I had no name for.

    After walking for about forty minutes, I encountered a travelling salesman. He worked for the pokemart chain, and was promoting their location in Veridian city. I was given a potion as a sample, and advised to visit any of their locations for all my needs. Shortly thereafter, in battle with a Ratatta, Prime learned a new move, allowing him to make use of his fire type.

    In Veridian, my first stop was the Pokemon center, resting Prime after the long journey. Leaving him in the care of the nurses there, I explored the city. The last time I had been here was years ago, when my dad was still around. I found the post office - next to the pokemart - and retrieved Oak's package.

    The journey back to Pallet town was relatively uneventful, if not entertaining. Sliding down the inclines left by the earthquakes was quite exhilarating, if not a little scary. When I returned to Oak's lab, he was there, waiting - for once. I handed him the parcel, and he vanished into the back of the lab, telling me to wait right where I was. Shortly after he left, Blue barged in the door, and sank into a chair. I cast an eye in his direction, but he seemed too preoccupied for a rematch. Strange.

    Oak returned ten minutes later, which was fortunate, as I had had quite enough of watching Blue spin his solitary pokeball on his finger. "Boys," he said with a grin on his face. "This is a historic day. I have finally completed the object of my designs for the last ten years. The Pokedex."

    Blue slumped farther down in his chair, but my interest was piqued. "What's a Pokedex, Oak?" I asked.

    "A Pokedex contains basic data on all species of pokemon, including species and habitat. From one quick look at a pokemon, it can give all kinds of information. However, it's lacking something. The most detailed information can only be obtained by study of specimens of each species," Oak explained. I could see now the object in his hand. It was twice as big as my new phone, but would still fit comfortably in a pocket or bag. It was bright red, and folded open like a book. "That's where the two of you come in. These two pokedexes are equipped to observe specimens of pokemon that you capture, and send it back to my database here in the lab." He produced a second pokedex from inside his lab coat. "I want the two of you to make it your goal to capture every kind of pokemon in the country. Only then will I be able to fully realize my goal."

    "Yeah, yeah, who cares." That was Blue. "What if I say no?"

    "Then I will be forced to revoke your pokemon. As of now, I am still their legal owner. If the two of you complete this task well, then I will transfer ownership of them to you. Until then, all the pokemon you catch are legally my property." Oak said this with a straight face. He may have been bluffing, but I wasn't about to take that chance. He handed each of us a Pokedex, and five empty pokeballs. "Now go forth, and earn the ownership of your pokemon!"

    Blue and I dashed out of the lab. He shoved me over and took off, pulling up a map of the region on his phone. Two could play at that game. I walked over to Oak's house, connected to the bed and breakfast's WiFi network, and downloaded the same app onto my phone. Before leaving town, I passed by my house again. I stopped in, intending to only stay for a moment, but my eyes got heavy, and before I knew it....

    The Team

    Prime (Female Charmander)
    [​IMG]
    Level 7
    Gentle nature
    Blaze
    No Item

    Ember
    Scratch
    Growl (can't use)
    --

    Lower BP limit: 63

    Prime is my only Pokemon so far. Treadshot said I could soft-reset for the nature, but I didn't - I already traded about 200 pokemon off this cart today, and I wasn't in the mood to do anything else. I haven't run into any of her real restrictions yet, so its been pretty easy so far. Evolving to Charmeleon will be a pain because I have to wait until I get access to the vending machine, but I'll deal with that later.


    Chapter 2: February 2 (open)


    beep. beep. beep.
    That's strange, I thought. Why is my alarm going off? Where am I?

    Then it hit me. I'd come home last night, I must have fallen asleep. Now Blue has the better part of a day's head start. I leapt out of bed, took a quick shower, grabbed a piece of toast on the way out the door, and left, leaving a note for my mom on the kitchen table.

    I struck out towards Veridian city. I'd noticed a gym there - Acceptance to the Pokemon league required the defeat of at least 8 gym leaders. However, I had to declare which eight I would challenge before I got my first badge, or I would be disqualified. Using the gym app and the map app on my phone, I began to develop a plan. All that was left to do now was to submit that plan to the Pokemon league headquarters near Veridian.

    The journey to Veridian was uneventful. I encountered more of the same Pokemon I had the day before, and learned from the Pokedex that the bird pokemon I had encountered was called Pidgey. By the time I neared the outskirts of Veridian, I had cemented my plan. I headed West from Veridian's pokemon center, challenge form in hand. In the patch of grass in my path, I encountered another new type of pokemon, this one called a Mankey.

    Continuing on this route, I encountered Blue. In addition to his blue turtle (Squirtle), he'd caught a Pidgey as well. The Pidgey seemed to be stronger than the one's I'd encountered in the wild, but it was still fell easily to Prime's Ember attack. Ember, however, had little to no effect on Squirtle, so I fell back on Scratch. After a close call involving a perfectly-aimed Tackle by Blue's Squirtle and a frantic potion on my part, Prime emerged victorious. The flame on her tail leapt and spat as her power increased.

    "Bah. Beginner's luck," was all Blue had to say about the battle. He scurried off immediately, leaving me free to enter the Pokemon league headquarters. I walked up to the desk, and caught a glimpse of Blue's challenge form on the top of a pile. He'd chosen the same gyms as I had.

    I returned to Veridian city without a single encounter with a wild pokemon. In that city was one of the gyms I had selected, mainly because it was convenient. My app had been rather skimpy with information about this gym, so I was hoping to find more information inside. However, when I walked up to the door, it was locked. There was no indication of any human being inside.

    "That door's always locked," remarked a passerby as he noticed my puzzled expression. "No one has ever met the Leader. This is his first year as an official League gym, so he'll have to come sometime."

    I thanked the old man, and turned back to the gym. After circling around looking for another entrance, I decided that there was nothing to do but press on. I'd have to come back here later anyway, so I might as well move on. The next gym on my path was in Pewter City, to the North. If I hurried, I could get there before nightfall. No-one wants to spend any part of the night in Veridian Forest.

    Before I left, I stopped by the Pokemart and bought several potions and antidotes. While I still had only one Pokemon with me, I had to be very careful of status conditions and loss of health. With the sun still high overhead, I set out for Veridian forest, and never looked back.

    Upon entering the forest, my first impression was of claustrophobia. Trees closing in around me, and overhead, gave me the distinct feeling of being trapped, of having nowhere to go. I suddenly understood much better why this was not a place to spend any time after dark. Fortunately, Prime's attacks seemed to have great effect on native pokemon of the forest. According to my Pokedex, many of the pokemon in the forest were of the bug type, much like Prime was a fire type.

    About eight hundred feet into the forest, there was a junction in the paths. I could go left, right, or forwards. Prime, out of her pokeball, headed right. I followed, but not before marking the junction with a pattern of sticks. If we circled back around, at least I'd know. Another few miles into the forest, Prime battled through a swarm of small bugs (Caterpie and Weedle), and I found an abandoned, empty pokeball. A possible owner was nowhere to be seen. I quickened my pace.

    Following the path, I came to a junction again. Prime stopped, as if she was puzzled, and I noticed the marking I had made on the ground. I reoriented, and deduced the only way we hadn't tried yet was left. I set out in that direction, with Prime following cautiously.

    After a half-hour's walk, Prime and I encountered another Trainer. He used more of the same bug-types we'd seen before, and Prime made short work of the insects. Prime discovered a new technique for scratching during this trek, doing significantly more damage.

    Another mile or two into the forest, Prime was perched on my shoulder, when she spotted a strange pokemon. It reminded me of a Ratatta, but yellow, with red spots on its cheeks. She jumped towards it, but startled it off before she could attack. I managed to get a pokedex reading on it though. Pikachu. Electric type. Too bad Prime scared it away, I thought. I would have liked it on my team.

    Eventually, I spotted a dim light in the distance. I checked the time on my phone, and discovered we were only minutes away from sunset. During our rush to the exit, Prime and I were attacked by another Weedle. I commanded Prime to use an ember, but she couldn't seem to muster the power. Confused, she tried again, to no effect. I called her off, and had her use her improved Scratch - which I had come to call Metal Claw - instead. That one worked, and we fled the dark confines of the forest. Just as darkness fell, we reached the outskirts of Pewter City.

    In the dim light, I had a hard time finding anything, particularly in a strange city. I followed the signs to the pokemon center, in hopes of at least getting some rest for Prime. While I was waiting for her to recover, I pulled a pamphlet off the wall describing some of the common ailments that can affect pokemon. Besides the poison I was so worried about in Veridian forest, there were many others, including paralysis, confusion and sleep. The one that really interested me was the article on PP, the number of times a pokemon can use a move before they have to spend some time to recover. It sounded exactly like what had happened to Prime in Veridian Forest. I also got the address for a charity shelter for Pokemon trainers, where I could safely spend the night.

    I checked into the shelter late that night, and was given a bowl of soup for dinner. I hadn't realized how hungry I was, and ate ravenously, even though it was mushroom. I collapsed on the bed and was asleep within seconds.

    I awoke to light flooding in from a skylight. I got up, dressed, and went in search of breakfast. Suddenly, as I stepped into a large hall, I felt the ground shake under my feet. More earthquakes. I took a bowl of oatmeal from the counter, and sat down at a table next to another group of trainers. I thought I saw Blue across the room, but I couldn't be sure. My tablemates were discussing Brock, Pewter's gym leader. It seemed that several of them had chosen a Squirtle as their first pokemon, as Blue had, and most of the others had picked something called a Bulbasaur. None of them had picked Charmander.

    "Brock uses Rock types mostly, right?" one of them asked.

    "Yep," replied another, holding what looked like a flower bulb in his lap. "He's got a couple dozen different pokemon that he rotates through based on the skill level of the challenger, but that's his common theme. They're pretty strong too, unless you've got a bonus against them, like our pokemon do." The bulb in his lap shifted and turned, and I saw a rotund face stick out. It looked like a large green lizard. Who knows what the bulb was for.

    "What about a fire type?" I cut into their conversation. "Do they have a chance?"

    The one holding the green creature in his lap answered. "Fire isn't good against Rock. If you have moves that are of other types, you might have a shot."

    I thanked him, and filed this information away. Knowing that moves have different types was a valuable piece of information. I thought back to all the different moves Prime had used. Ember was obviously a fire type move, with the flames and all. Scratch, and the Tackle I'd seen from Blue's Squirtle seemed more like generic moves, was there an 'common' type? That left the other move, the one I called 'Metal Claw.' Could it be some kind of metal type? It definitely wasn't the same type as either of the other moves Prime knew - its effects on different kinds of pokemon were definitely different. Clearly, I wasn't ready to fight Brock until I knew more about the capabilities of my own Pokemon. My breakfast finished, I walked out the door of the shelter, looking for answers.

    On the way to the gym, I found myself in front of the museum. Pewter Museum of Science, the sign read. The world's greatest mysteries unravelled. Intrigued, I paid the pittance that was the entry fee, and took a look around. The ground floor displayed only a few fossils, one labelled Aerodactyl, and another labelled Kabutops. In the rear of the building were several doors marked 'Research Staff Only.'
    Men and women wearing lab coats passed through these doors every few minutes. Through the open door, I caught several glimpses of pokemon, but none I recognized. Sitting in the corner of the room was a terminal similar to the one in Oak's lab for accessing information on pokemon. It wasn't plugged in.

    None of this was interesting to me. I began to understand why the entrance fee was so low. I was about to walk out the door when I noticed the staircase. Climbing upstairs, I found the real draw of the museum. Besides the travelling exhibit on space, there was a small booth dealing with Pokemon moves and types.

    "There are seventeen types in all," stated the video recording triggered by my presence. I pulled out my phone and surreptitiously hit the audio record button. I might want a copy of this later. Setting my phone on the table, I continued examining the booth. "...Dark and Steel. Each pokemon has at most two distinct types, while some only have one." Only half listening, I looked around the booth at the text and visual displays. There was one detailing the effects that type had on move power - A pokemon with the same type as its move would deal bonus damage with that attack. Interesting. “The type of the attacking move and the type of the target pokemon will affect the amount of damage the attack does.” Below that, there was a chart of which types were effective against which other types. Directly opposite, a paragraph detailed how to determine move types from the effects of the attack on both pokemon. “A single pokemon can learn many types of moves in order to effectively counter multiple types of combatants.” The screen went blank, and the video began again. I turned off the recording on my phone, and snapped a few pictures, including one of the effectiveness chart, before sliding it back into my pocket.

    After a few moments, I wandered away from the exhibit, stopping to admire a model of the space shuttle, the modern-day craft that carried men and women into space. Nearby was a plaque with a picture of the first successful mission to the moon. The date on the photo was July 20th, 1969.

    I stepped out of the museum, confident in my pokemon's abilities. With my new knowledge on move types, I was confident that I could defeat Brock. Head held high, I strode towards the gym on the West side of town. The gym soon came into view. To the left of the door was a large screen, showing the names of trainers who had battled Brock and won. A single name blinked bright on the screen. Blue.

    Stepping into the gym, I took a moment to look around. Large boulders were strewn about the floor and embedded into the walls. I spotted a pair of strange pokemon playing in the corner, which the pokedex identified as a Graveller and a Rhyhorn. Standing next to the door was a man in a blue suit and sunglasses. He called me over.

    "Listen kid," he spoke in a low tone. "I know a champion when I see one. You've got what it takes to go all the way." He indicated the floor. There was a white line painted on it that I hadn't noticed before. "See that line? That's the boundary for the battle. Only pokemon are allowed inside that line. You, as the challenger, stand in that red box over there. The leader, in this case Brock, stands in the blue box on the opposite side."

    I noticed a young man standing next to the box inscribed in blue. "Is that Brock?" I asked, imitating the low tone the man spoke in.

    "Him? No," my companion answered. "He's a gym trainer. Each gym has at least one at any given time. They're apprentices to the gym leader, and each one must be battled before you can face the leader. You can use their pokemon to gauge the strength of your own in relation to the leader."

    I'd heard enough. I walked over to the red square, and released Prime. She appeared by my side in a red haze, flame on her tail burning crimson. "I wish to challenge Brock," I stated confidently.
    "Ha!" A new voice echoed from my right. I turned. Another young man, with dark skin and black hair had spoken. He squinted badly, as if he'd lost his glasses. "You can't walk in here and challenge me. You have to earn the right! Liam! Take care of this brat."

    The man next to the blue square stepped in, and one of the boulders in the stadium launched itself into the air. Prime stepped smartly forward into the arena, and the battle begun. Prime launched the first attack, tearing chunks out of the rock with her claws. She made short work of the pokemon (a Geodude), and stood victorious over her fallen opponent. Suddenly, a blur shot out of the ground, spraying dirt into Prime's eyes. She retaliated with a powerful Metal Claw, but the pokemon curled into a ball, reducing the effect of the attack. Prime swung again, but misjudged the distance, and connected only with empty air. Prime swung again, catching the Sandshrew as it barrelled into her body, causing damage to both of them. Prime quickly finished the battle before the other pokemon could strike again. The flame on her tail expanded, rippling over her entire body, before returning to its solitary point. Prime returned to my side. I tended to her wounds with a potion, then turned to Brock again.

    "Still think I'm not worthy of your time?" I asked him. " Just try me."

    Wordlessly, Brock walked around the large white outline in the center of the gym. A tremor shook the room as he stepped into the blue square, almost throwing off his balance. More earthquakes. They were simply becoming a fact of life recently. Another rock leapt into the air the moment Brock regained his composure. Prime stepped into the ring to meet it, ready this time. As usual, Prime struck before the other pokemon could move, raking cruel claws across its rocky body. It countered by throwing its body into Prime's but she caught it and threw it against the ground, cracking it open. Prime reached back and passed her claws through her tail, making them glow red-hot. Brock's already-squinted eyes narrowed, and he made a hand signal. A line of rocks laying around the perimeter of the gym stirred. Prime struck, seemingly ineffectively, and a rock from the end of the chain flicked towards Prime's head. It clipped her in the side of the face, spinning her around. She hobbled towards me, close enough that I could spray a potion at her injury. Thank goodness for modern medicine. Prime clearly wasn't as well as she could be, though. Her reactions seemed much slower, but she was able to dodge out of the way of a second attack, seconds after her skin knitted together. My pokedex chose this moment to speak up, identifying the chain of rocks as an Onix.

    I heard a gasp from behind me, and looked up. Prime was encircled in the rock snake's body, being slowly squeezed to death. She raked with her claws at the snake's body, causing damage, but the squeezing continued. Prime struggled, then found a weak spot between two boulders. Plunging her claws into the gap, she struck, ripping away portions of the snake's rocky exoskeleton. Poised for a killing blow, she turned to look at me. I shook my head, and Prime leapt away from the snake, just clearing its large head as it collapsed. Surveying her victory, Prime took a final look around the battlefield, then stepped daintily over the white line. Brock had been defeated.

    I looked over at the other Trainer. He was shaking his head. I thought I saw tears in his eyes. "Masterfully done," he said. "I confer upon you the Boulderbadge, as proof of my defeat." I stepped around the ring, and took the badge from his outstretched hand, pinning it to my belt. One down, seven to go. I turned to leave, but heard Brock's voice echo in my ears again. "Wait." I turned.

    "What?" I asked.

    "Take this with you. A gift of my gratitude for your restraint. My last opponent was...not so kind." Brock handed me a reddish-brown disk. Written on the spine were the words Rock Tomb - Rock. "That disk contains information that can be uploaded directly to the mind of a compatible pokemon. A list of the pokemon that can learn it is on the back. With the right equipment, you can teach that move to one of your travelling companions. I highly recommend it."

    I thanked Brock, and walked out of the gym. Outside, the man in the blue suit was waiting. "We make a good team, you and I," he remarked. "Where are you headed? I'll make our life easier by helping you out in the gyms."

    I briefly considered the pros and cons of telling him. He didn't seem to be a threat in any way. "Cerulean," I spoke softly. "Meet you there."

    "The sun's setting," my new friend observed. "Why don't you take a rest at my place. It's much nicer than the shelter. You can leave for Cerulean in the morning."

    I agreed immediately, but amended it. "With one condition. You tell me your name."

    He seemed taken aback. "Daniel. My name is Daniel."

    I followed Daniel through the city to his home near the museum. We shared some leftovers from his refrigerator, then I lay down on his couch. Daniel walked upstairs, and I heard his door close. I was asleep almost immediately.

    The Team

    Prime (Female Charmander)
    [​IMG]
    Level 17
    Gentle nature
    Blaze
    No Item

    Ember
    Scratch
    Growl (can't use)
    Metal Claw

    Lower BP limit: 80

    Prime is still my only pokemon, although that should change soon. The BP restriction isn't all that annoying considering that she 1-2 HKOs everything in sight, even with Scratch, and she necessarily solos everything. The only pokemon that hasn't raised her BP limit thus far was the battle with Camper Liam's Sandshrew, which managed to use three moves before being KO'd. She's setting up to be a real powerhouse, although I expect her to fall behind the curve as I can't evolve her until I get access to HP-restoring drinks or berries.



    Chapter 3: February 4 (open)


    I woke slowly. The sun was already high in the sky. Daniel stood in the kitchen, making himself a bowl of cereal. I rose, and began to fix one for myself. As I was pouring the milk, my phone vibrated in my pocket. I stepped outside, and answered the call.

    "Hello?" I spoke tentatively into the mouthpiece.

    "Red!" It was my mom on the other end. "How are you? Are you safe? Have you eaten?" She launched into a plethora of questions about my state. I briefly gave her a summary of my adventures thus far, ending with my battle with Brock. I mentioned Daniel only in passing. I wasn't sure she would agree with me staying with a virtual stranger.

    When I finished my tale, my mom spoke again. "Your other birthday present came. From your dad. Professor Oak has one of his aides travelling to Pewter later today to update his exhibit in the museum. I could send your present with him if you're staying in the city for the day, otherwise I don't know when it'll get to you."

    I quickly agreed, even though it would mean delaying my journey further. My dad, despite not being much of a father figure, had great taste in presents. For my eighth birthday, he had given me a collection of geodes from Mt. Moon. I had been disappointed in the rocks until I knocked one onto the floor and it split neatly into two, displaying its faceted interior. Anything my dad sent was worth waiting for.

    The courier wasn't likely to arrive until the afternoon, so Daniel, Prime and I went on a hike in the forest north of Pewter. Prime scurried from tree to tree, watching for wild pokemon, and roasting a bug or two. As we walked, Daniel told me the story of his life. I guess he felt he owed me something of himself in exchange for my trust.

    "I never knew my parents," he recounted. "When I was young, they left me in Veridian forest. They couldn't take care of me, I guess." His story continued. He'd travelled all over the country, catching pokemon, but had never had the knack to train them. Despite having great knowledge of the theory of Pokemon, he'd never managed to obtain a single gym badge. He'd met Oak during the opening of the museum, and they had been friends for a time, but that relationship had deteriorated long ago.

    "While I worked with Oak, I spent most of my time determining the elemental types of different moves, as well as their relative effectiveness against each other. Much of the information on types inside your pokedex is my work - as is Oak's little exhibit in the museum." I thought back to the booth I'd spent most of my time in the museum at, the booth that had made admission worthwhile.

    Engrossed in Daniel's story, I hadn't noticed the time. My phone beeped in my pocket, signalling it had received a text message. Oak's aide had arrived in Pewter, and was preparing to leave. If I wanted my package, I had to meet him at the East side of the city within the half hour.

    Daniel and I turned around, and picked up our pace. He knew the woods well, and we made very good time on the way back to the city. Just before we entered, Daniel bid me goodbye. "Oak and I...had a...misunderstanding in the past. It's probably better if I'm not with you when you go to meet his aide. I'll see you in Cerulean. Safe travels."

    I blinked and he was gone. That man was a definite mystery. Still, he knew what he was talking about, especially if Oak had seen fit to include some of his work in the pokedex. I found Oak's aide in the Eastern half of the city, not far from the museum. He was one of the few that I recognized from the time I had spent in Oak's lab, and we struck up a conversation. I asked how his work on the exhibit had gone, and he answered enthusiastically "Come see!"

    I came and saw. What the day before had been a meagre booth in the corner now took up the better part of a room, dedicated to the discoveries of Oak and his team of researchers. The remainder of the room followed a similar theme, but the discoveries there had been made by the museum's own scientists. The terminal I'd noticed the day before on the lower level was plugged in and humming softly. I stepped towards it, and the screen awoke. It functioned identically to the terminal back in Pallet town. Testing it, I called up information on Charmander, Prime's species.

    Charmander. Fire type. First stage of the Charizard evolution line. Does not exist in the wild. Its energy is directly related to the intensity of the flame on its tail. This terminal differed from the one in Pallet town in that it showed a picture of the pokemon, however the information was very similar to that found in my pokedex.

    I took another look around the room. The type matchup chart had been expanded and hung prominently on the wall. "Wow," I breathed. "How did this all get done in such a short time?" I turned. The aide was gone. Suddenly, I remembered the package, still in my hands. I sat down and tore it open. Inside was a pair of shoes, a collapsible tent, and a lightweight sleeping bag. Taped to the shoebox was a note.

    "Dear son,

    I hope this package finds you in good time. With these items, and a bit of luck, you'll never have cause to give up, even if the whole world's turned against you. It's all I needed.

    With love,

    Dad"

    I looked up from the note, and realized that there were tears in my eyes. I hadn't told my dad that I had chosen to take a pokemon, and start my own adventure. He'd known.

    Stowing my new gifts in my bag - except for the shoes, which I slipped onto my feet -Prime and I headed for the edge of town, towards Cerulean. The area here seemed to have been affected more by earthquakes than the other areas I'd travelled through so far - Large pieces of rock had been dislodged from the upper part of the canyon, and had fallen into the middle of the path. No trace remained of the road that I'd followed out of Pewter city.

    After navigating around several large boulders, Prime and I came to a section that seemed relatively clear. A patch of long grass dominated the southern edge of the path, but a narrow gap between the grass and the canyon wall allowed passage without disturbing any wild pokemon. As I stepped swiftly towards the gap, I felt the ground start to rumble. Looking up, I saw cracks appearing on the walls of the canyon. I raced away from the falling rocks, only to trip over one. Looking back, a massive chunk of canyon fell directly into the patch of tall grass. A single pokemon staggered out and collapsed.

    Prime rushed over to the fallen pokemon. I expected her to attack, skittish as she was, but instead she sat down beside it, and tried to wake it up. Unsure what to do, I called the stricken pokemon into an empty pokeball, and set it on my belt next to Prime's unoccupied one. I saw a pokemon center up ahead, and headed for that, hoping that they would be able to do something to help this pokemon.

    Thankfully, I made it to the pokemon center without further incident. Handing over both pokeballs to the nurse, I collapsed into a large chair, and checked my pokedex for information about the purple pokemon. I learned that it was called a Nidoran, and that the darker coloring meant that it was the male of the species. It was poisonous, and had excellent hearing. I flipped to the next page of information in the pokedex, but felt my eyes getting heavy...

    I was woken by the nurse, returning my pokemon to me. I walked outside, and returned to the patch of tall grass next to where I had found the Nidoran. I activated the pokeball, and he appeared in a flash of red light. He looked towards the grass, then towards me. Then back to the grass. I turned and walked away, leaving him to live the life he was meant to live. I took a half-dozen steps before I heard a cry by my foot. He stood there, in my shadow, looking up at me. I smiled, and activated his pokeball, then clipped it to my belt. Welcome to the team, Shadow.

    I checked the time on my phone. It was later than I'd realized. There wasn't time to get through Mt. Moon tonight, so I'd have to stay either where I was, or in Pewter. I had nowhere to go in any case, so I might as well stay here, if I can find a safe spot, and get an early start in the morning. Looking around for a suitable spot, I spied a group of tents under an overhang. Seemed as good a spot as any, assuming it didn't collapse on us in the night - which was a danger no matter where I slept. I pulled my new tent from my bag, and set it up. It was rather roomy inside, with enough room for both my pokemon and I. Back outside, Prime lit a fire, and the three of us huddled together against the cold. Eventually, eyes heavy, I put the fire out and turned in for the night.

    When I woke the next morning, Shadow was curled up on my feet, and Prime lay against my pillow. I gently pulled my feet out from under Shadow, and stepped outside the tent. Rain had fallen overnight, drenching the canyon, but our little overhang had kept us dry. I stuck my head back inside the tent, and called to my pokemon.

    Prime and Shadow scampered out of the tent, and landed in a tussle on the dirt outside. Leaving them to play, I collapsed the tent and repacked my bag. In the bottom, I found a package of cookies and a few granola bars - mom must have packed them when I fell asleep, so long ago. I split a cookie between my two companions, and ate several myself, as well as wolfing down a granola bar. I'd have to remember to buy more supplies in Cerulean.

    I walked cautiously into the cave systems under Mt. Moon. Prime and Shadow had been confined to their pokeballs in an attempt to reduce the number of encounters with wild pokemon - such as Zubat - living in the cave.

    I found another disk like the one Brock had given me lying on the ground a few hundred feet from the cave's entrance. This one was coloured green and read Bullet Seed - Grass. Neither Prime nor Shadow were listed as compatible pokemon, so I tucked it away into the bag. Shortly after, during a battle with a bug catcher, Shadow began acting strangely. He took out the first pokemon easily, in two hits, but after attacking the second, he stopped responding to commands. I switched him out for Prime, who easily cleaned up. Perhaps, I thought, Shadow still has some issues dealing with the loss of his home. I resolved to take it easier on the little purple guy.

    We delved deeper into the cave. In addition to the danger posed by wild pokemon, there were many trainers itching for a battle. There was also a strange propensity of abandoned items, with no apparent owner. I picked these up whenever I found them - maybe there'd be a use for them someday. In battle with another bug catcher, Shadow twisted his body during a Caterpie's tackle attack, and the other pokemon impaled itself on Shadow's horn. When the pokemon drew back, it seemed to be in residual pain, but Shadow quickly finished it off. Fighting the trainer's next pokemon, he refused to obey me again, and Prime came in to clean up.

    Still farther into the cave, I encountered a man digging for fossils. According to him, the Pewter museum would pay a high price for any fossils he uncovered for them. Not interested in fossils, I passed him by. Shortly thereafter, Shadow led in a battle against a hiker, who used Geodude and Onix, like Brock's pokemon. Shadow defeated the first Geodude with ease, then stopped listening on the second. Prime came in and mopped up. Again. After the battle, Shadow was bathed in a bright light. He grew, sprouted more horns along his spine, and his horn elongated. My pokedex chimed, indicating it had registered a new pokemon species. I pulled it out and read from the screen: "Nidorino, the evolved form of the male Nidoran. Nidorino's weight has more than doubled from its previous form, and its horn has further developed. It is now strong enough to puncture diamond."

    Returning Shadow to his pokeball, I continued through the cave. I climbed down a pair of ladders, and found myself face to face with a man in a black suit and mask. A red letter 'R' was emblazoned on his chest. Next to him, a small pink pokemon was trembling in fear. I stepped forward to ask the man what was wrong with the pokemon, kicking a small rock as I did so. He heard the noise and turned to face me. The man let out a startled cry, and released a Zubat from a pokeball, and sent it flying towards my head. I grasped a pokeball from my belt and let it fly, releasing Prime into the air. She spat a small stream of fire at the bat, knocking it out of the air and giving off the scent of burning flesh. As the bat writhed around ineffectually on the ground, Prime rushed over and tore at its wings and body, ending its suffering. I was appalled at the display of ferocity from Prime, but there was nothing I could do. I looked up at the man in wordless apology, but saw no pain in his eyes. I followed his gaze to a purple snake several dozen feet away, slithering away from the bodies of several of the pink creatures. I called to Prime, as the snake reared to bite my ankle. I pulled away as Prime spat more flames towards it. I smelled burnt flesh again as the pokemon burnt to a crisp.

    Visibly panicked now, the man screamed something unintelligible about fossils and ran, climbing the ladder two rungs at a time. The pink creature waddled over towards me, and curled up on my foot. I pulled a pokeball from my bag, and the pokemon vanished in a flash of red light. "Clefairy," I read from the pokedex. "Its cute appearance makes it a popular pet, however it is rare and hard to find. It learns its moves by many different methods, but often finds new techniques impossible to master after evolution." Despite the sudden addition of Shadow to my team the day before, I had never dreamed that I would find another pokemon that spoke to my heart so soon.

    I examined the cavern I was in more closely. Two charred carcasses lay on the floor, as well as the remains of maybe half a dozen Clefairy. There was an exit to my left, but it had collapsed and filled with rock, perhaps due to one of the recent earthquakes. It looked like the only way out was up.

    As I climbed, I thought about a name for my new pokemon. Nothing I came up with really fit. I shrugged and continued on through the cave. I was sure the right name would come to me eventually. I tried climbing down another ladder in hopes that this one would bring me to the other side of the cave. I climbed down again. As I stepped off the ladder, I was ambushed by another man in black. He said something about how I wasn't to be down here, and he'd have to deal with me. I grabbed at my belt and released the first pokemon I could - Clefairy - and made ready to do battle with him. I didn't know what these people wanted, but I wasn't about to let them do anything to me or my pokemon. Clefairy took out his first two pokemon. I was amazed by her versatility, with the many different and useful moves available to her. I decided to name her Multi, after her multiple options in battle.

    Multi faltered against the third pokemon, a Zubat, whose every attack aimed to kill. Calling Multi back, I sent out Prime to deal with the final pokemon. She did so easily. Frightened, the man fled up the ladder beside me. I looked around the cavern - another dead end. There must be a way out of this cave somewhere, but every minute I looked increased the chance that another earthquake would block off the remaining exit. I climbed.

    Back on the level I had entered the cave on, I delved ever deeper, hoping to find the way out. Tucked away, hidden in the back corner of the cave, was a third ladder. Hopefully this one led to an exit, because there was no other place one could be. Climbing down, I found myself in an open cavern. I cautiously crept along a rocky ledge towards a large hole in the cave wall. Stepping through the hole, I found myself face to face with another of those killers, dressed again in all black. I confidently released Multi from her pokeball, and ordered an attack on his pokemon. Shadow took over to deal the finishing blow, then Prime easily dealt with his next pokemon. He let out a stifled cry as his Sandshrew dropped to the ground. He called it back into its ball, and fled through another opening to the right. I followed, looking for an exit.

    I crept through the dark tunnel, keeping alert. I turned a corner, and found myself face-to-chest with another man. He planted his hands on my chest and gave me a firm shove. "It's dangerous to be down here," he said. "All the digging for fossils is what's causing the earthquakes around here. We of Team Rocket want to modernize the excavation techniques and bring safety to the entire area. And we won't let anyone stop us."

    Prime appeared by my side in a flash of red light. "Why are you killing pokemon, then?" I asked accusingly. The man tossed his pokeball at my head. It broke open on impact, releasing his pokemon into the air. Prime spat flames, and it fell to the ground. A piercing scream shook the cavern. I knelt and covered my ears, while Prime staggered into a corner and collapsed against the wall. The man's second pokemon, another Zubat, swooped low to attack. I called Prime back after I regained my senses, and released Multi. Startled, the Zubat cut off its attack, and screamed again as I tended to Prime's injuries. Prime leapt back into the fray, piercing her claws through the flesh of the bat. It fell to the ground and lay still.

    The man swung a fist towards me, but Prime launched herself at his foot, throwing off his balance. He fell to the ground, swore, and bounded off into the depths of the cave. Cautiously, I continued my trek, hoping for an exit soon. In the next cavern, I came across a man in a lab coat, engaged in furious conflict with a group of Team Rocket members. Prime and Multi both bounded into the fray. I held Shadow back because I didn't want his infirmity to strike at the wrong time, and cause him undue damage. Prime and Multi, along with the man's pokemon, made short work of the Team Rocket group, who fled up a nearby ladder. I walked towards the man, asking his name.

    "Miguel," he answered. "Thank-you for helping me. If you hadn't come along when you did, Sparky here would have been overwhelmed." He extended a hand towards his Voltorb. "They commissioned me to come and excavate fossils here, but when I arrived last week, they wouldn't let me leave. I was supposed to keep half of what we uncovered for my own research, but they tried to take it all." I looked behind him. Along the far wall were generators, microscopes, and other equipment I couldn't identify. In a case in the corner were dozens of fossils. "I'd like you to have one as a token of my appreciation," Miguel continued. "Go on, pick one!"

    I walked over to the cabinet with the fossils. I chose the first one I came to. "That's a fossil of a Kabuto," Miguel explained. "It was an ancient sea-dwelling pokemon."

    I thanked Miguel again, and continued up the ladder. Looking above, I saw a small shaft of bright light. From deep below me, I heard a rumble. I climbed faster. I broke out into the sunlight, just in time to watch the ground heave beneath me. I was thrown to the side, and hit my head on the canyon wall. I blacked out.

    When I came to, the flat canyon floor I had briefly observed was now pockmarked with rocks, sheer ledges, and uprooted trees. I felt the back of my head, where I'd hit. No blood, but there would be a nice bruise. I saw the lights of Cerulean in the distance. Worried about concussion, I staggered towards it, collapsing on the road just inside the city limits.

    I woke in a stark white room, laying under a blue sheet. Daniel was standing over me, a concerned expression on his face. "Unggh," I groaned, sitting up. "How long was I out?"

    "Just a little more than an hour," Daniel answered. "The doctors don't think you have a concussion, but they want to keep you under observation overnight, just in case. When you're ready to challenge Misty, or if you just want to talk, I'll be waiting in the gym. Call me if you need me."

    Daniel set a slip of paper down on the table beside my bed, moved my phone overtop of it, then walked out of the room, throwing a last glance over his shoulder as he left. I resigned myself to another setback in the pursuit of my goal. I grabbed my phone and the piece of paper Daniel had left, and entered his number into the phone, then set both back on the table as the doctor walked in.

    He extended his hand, which I shook, then he spoke. "I'm Doctor Jacobs. Everything seems in order, but you still may be concussed, so we do have to keep you overnight unless you have somewhere to go where people can keep you under observation. Since you're a traveller, that doesn't seem likely, so, unless you can give us evidence to the contrary, we do have to keep you here overnight." I shook my head, then immediately regretted it. "When you leave, you should pick up some medication from the pharmacy to help with the headaches. Here's my recommendation."

    I thanked the doctor, and settled in for the night's rest. It was already almost seven, so there wasn't long to wait. I spied my bag in the corner, and all three of my pokeballs sat in a basket on my bedside table. I briefly released each of my friends, just to convince myself that they were all safe, then set the balls back in the basket. It wasn't long before, exhausted, I dozed off.

    I was woken several times during the night by various nurses, but it did serve to convince the doctor that I was fine, and just needed some rest. The next morning, I ate breakfast courtesy of the hospital, and walked out. I stopped at the pokemon center and left my three friends there as I made my trip to the pharmacy and picked up my medication. When I returned to the pokemon center, everyone was waiting for me.

    I thanked the nurses, and picked up my pokemon. My next stop was at the city's supermarket, to buy supplies for my trip. I picked out several varieties of canned and dehydrated foods, as well as preserved meats. When I went to the cashier to check out, she commented on the pokeballs on my belt. "Are you going to see Bill?" she asked.

    "Who's Bill?" I was taken aback by such a question.

    "Bill's the resident pokemon expert. When a teen is ready to take a pokemon journey, he's the one who gives them their first," she explained. "He also collects rare species of pokemon, and will pay quite highly for some species."

    The concept of pokemon being exchanged for money like a pair of pants disgusted me, but I tried not to let it show. "I may have to pay him a visit then," I said. "Thanks for the information."

    I left the store, and walked North. Bill lived Northeast of town, over what was called the 'Nugget Bridge' according to the sign. New trainers tested their mettle against five trainers in a row, and winners got some kind of prize.

    I walked towards the bridge, when I noticed a familiar figure crossing it. Blue had been through already. I noticed the Boulderbadge flashing prominantly on his lapel. Below it was another, in the shape of a water droplet. I caught a glimpse of red hanging from a chain on his neck, but it fell below his shirt before I could get a closer look.

    "Admiring my badges?" he asked scornfully. "Maybe someday you'll get more than one. How'd you manage to beat Brock with a Charmander anyway?"

    "I don't just have a Charmander anymore, Blue," I responded. "Why don't you try me and see?"

    He responded by tossing out a pokeball containing a Pidgeotto. I grabbed Prime's ball and sent her out to meet him.

    Prime, as usual, got in the first hit, singing Pidgeotto's tail feathers as it kicked sand into her face. Prime struck again as Pidgeotto rode a gust of wind into her face, knocking her over. Down, but not out. Prime struck back with more flames, knocking the bird out of the air. Blue scowled, and recalled the Pidgeotto, and sent out his Squirtle, hoping to score a KO based on weakness. Multi rose to the occasion, shrugging of a faceful of water, and singing a lullaby, lulling the Squirtle into sleep.

    Taking full advantage of the sleep, Multi unleashed a powerful pound, drubbing the Squirtle soundly over the head. This woke up the Squirtle, who whipped its tail around in a gesture of submission. Multi attacked again, but missed, as the Squirtle rolled over. Its tail whipped back and forth. Not to be fooled again, Multi sang her sweet lullaby, and the Squirtle obligingly dozed off. Multi attacked again with pound, hitting the Squirtle over the head with her arm. This time it stayed asleep, and Multi hit it again, leaving a widening bruise on its flesh.

    This time, the Squirtle woke up, driving straight into Multi's stomach. When he bounced back, even though Multi struck him across the face, he stared, unmoving, while I tended to her injuries. He attacked again, diving into Multi's chest, but she struck him again, and he stared unmoving as she knocked him right off his feet with a doubleslap.

    Blue recalled the Squirtle, and sent out his Abra. Having never seen one before, I let Multi stay out, and led with Pound, soundly battering the pokemon. The Abra suddenly appeared on the other side of the arena, but Multi, unfazed, attacked again with doubleslap. Abra teleported again, but it didn't fool Multi, and she struck it over the head. One more, out for the count.

    Blue grimaced, and sent out his final pokemon, Rattata. I sent Shadow out to meet it, who promptly knocked it back into its trainer's feet with a double kick. Game, set and match, Blue. Blue swore, and hit his fist against the guardrail of Nugget bridge, threw a tape recorder at me, and ran off, presumably to the pokemon center. I picked the recorder up off the ground and turned it on.

    Instead of functioning like a normal tape recorder, it appeared to take in information about several pre-programmed people, including Professor Oak, Bill, and the region's gym leaders. I saw no immediate use for it, but shoved it into my bag anyway - maybe a purpose for it would become clear later. I checked my pokemon - they were all ready to fight again. I stepped onto Nugget bridge and faced the first trainer.

    Within five minutes, I had smashed through all five trainers on the bridge, and was heading over to speak to the man at the end of the bridge who I assumed was the contest coordinator for the Nugget bridge. I guessed right. After his congratulations, he gifted me with a small nugget of gold, which I stored in my bag. Then came the surprise.

    "How would you like to join Team Rocket? We believe that pokemon are mistreated by most trainers, and only those who truly understand them, like you and I, should be allowed to use them. What do you say?" His story sounded excellent, and there was a time that I might have been swayed by it. But then I thought back to what I'd seen in the caves under Mt. Moon, and told the man that I must respectfully decline.

    "You know why we chose a bridge for our contest location?" the Team Rocket recruiter asked. I indicated that I didn't. "So there's somewhere to hide the bodies of the people who refuse!" A small purple snake, that I had come to recognize as Ekans, slithered towards my ankle. I tossed a pokeball down onto the ground in front of me, releasing Multi. Time for her to have a little revenge. Between Multi and Prime, the Rocket member's pokemon were easily defeated. Glancing towards Cerulean, the Rocket recruiter jumped into the river, swept downstream by the current. I found myself hoping he didn't make it out.

    Finished now with the bridge, I headed East, towards the sea. I passed through the training area for local trainers and travellers alike, defeating everyone with impunity. Eventually, I came to a small cottage on the end of the cape. The mailbox outside read 'Bill.' This was it. I stepped through the door.

    Inside, I took a look around. I didn't see any people, just a small pink pokemon that reminded me vaguely of Multi. I guessed that Bill must not be here, and turned toward the door. The Clefairy on the floor jumped in front of me, blocking my exit. It tugged on my pant leg, trying to drag me somewhere. I followed cautiously. On Bill's computer screen was an unsaved text document. It read "Help. My experiment went badly wrong, and my consciousness got trapped in a Clefairy. I need you to run the reversal routine after I get into the machine. Nod if you agree."

    I turned towards the Clefairy and nodded my agreement. It ran towards a large machine shaped like a refrigerator, and climbed in. I turned back to the computer, and minimized the word processor. Behind it was a control panel. I found the button labelled 'reverse,' and pressed it.

    Electricity crackled between the two large contraptions in the rear of Bill's house, then they fell silent. A man stepped out of the one on the left, the one the Clefairy hadn't entered into. He reminded me of pictures I'd seen of a young Professor Oak.

    "I'm Bill," the man said. "Thanks for helping me out. I don't know what I'd do if you hadn't come along."

    "I heard you buy rare pokemon," I ventured. "If --"

    "Who told you that!" exclaimed Bill. "It's true that I collect pokemon, but I don't buy and sell them like stocks! I'm responsible for giving out pokemon to the people of this town who decide they want to take a pokemon journey. Sometimes, people return to the town and give me as a gift a pokemon I haven't encountered before."

    Suddenly, I felt awful. I hated people judging me on the basis of what Blue told them, and I had just made the same mistake. Bill seemed like an excellent person, and I had no reason to doubt him. I looked outside, through his back window. A group of doglike pokemon were playing together. One was coloured red, flames dancing around its ruff and along the length of its tail. Another was bright yellow, with electricity arcing around its face and neck.

    "Beautiful, aren't they?" asked Bill, noticing me staring at his pokemon. "They're the evolved forms of the pokemon I give to new trainers in this area. I have a gift for you too, as thanks for helping me out, and to alleviate our little misunderstanding." He passed me an envelope with a ticket and brochure inside. The brochure had a picture of a large luxury cruise liner on the front. "That's the S.S. Anne," Bill explained. "I was invited to their party in Vermilion this year, but I just don't have the time to go. You can go instead, and have a great time."

    I thanked Bill, accepting the gift, and promised to visit again soon. I headed back towards Cerulean. The gym leader there awaited.

    Eventually, I saw the gym's lights in the distance. Its sign flashed blue, displaying the names of winning Trainers. This gym had two names lit up, one of which I didn't recognize. The other was Blue.

    I stepped inside the gym. Daniel was waiting for me. "Red!" he called out, jogging towards me. "Feeling better?"

    "A little," I responded. I still felt a little woozy, and the medication wasn't helping that any. Even so, I felt much better than I had that morning.

    "Great," responded Daniel. "Now listen. Cerulean's gym is a little different from Pewter's. Pokemon battle in that pool there. Using a fire type wouldn't be a good idea." Daniel stopped speaking and indicated the pool. I turned and looked. Two people were swimming lengths, a man wearing a skullcap and trunks, and a redheaded girl in a bikini. A girl sat on the left side of the pool with a stopwatch. "The red-haired girl is Misty," Daniel continued. "She's the gym leader here. You'll have to beat the other two before you challenge her. Stand in that blue square and announce your challenge."

    I'd heard enough. I walked towards the square, pokeball in hand. I stepped inside, and called out my challenge to the gym. "I wish to challenge Misty!"

    The man and girl climbed out of the pool. She took a seat, while he towelled off and stepped into a red square on the opposite side of the pool. He grabbed a pokeball from a table beside him, and tossed it into the water. A small blue seahorse surfaced. The ball sank to the bottom. I thumbed the switch on my own ball, releasing Multi. The pink pokemon stepped forward and slipped into the water. She swam forward and smacked the seahorse across the snout.

    The other pokemon dove to the bottom of the pool. I couldn't see what was going on, but the water gradually became cloudier. I heard Daniel speak from behind me. "The pool here has a sand bottom. It simulates a realistic environment for the pokemon, as well as making the battles more interesting." I could have cared less why it was happening at that moment, just that it was affecting my pokemon.

    Multi flailed around in the water, trying in vain to connect with the other pokemon. A stream of bubbles billowed up from beneath, annoying Multi, but not causing anything more than discomfort. Multi continued swinging blindly, then turned as the other pokemon surfaced. The Horsea leered at Multi, who retaliated with another attack, this one connecting. Horsea dived again, but Multi pursued, smacking it back and forth until it fled.

    The man tossed a second pokeball into the pool. I called Multi back, and sent out Shadow, just to give Multi a chance to get her bearings again. I quickly called Shadow back to my side, Multi diving right into the path of the other pokemon's attack. The pokemon (Shellder) flicked several icicles from its back end, but withdrew into its shell after Multi began striking back. Faltering, it let off a last-ditch shower of icicles, but Multi's final attack knocked it right out of the pool.

    Now, the girl with the stopwatch stepped into the red square. She held a single pokeball in her hand. She thumbed the release, letting a orange and white fish out, with a small horn growing from its head. The fish landed in the pool, and immediately swam towards Multi. It got in the first strike, hammering Multi from the side with its horn. Multi hit back, expelling water from the fish by the force of its hit. Now, the fish just thrashed around weakly on the surface until its trainer recalled it, yielding the battle to me. I briefly tended to Multi's injuries as Misty stepped into the red square across the pool.

    Misty's first pokemon I recognized as a Staryu. There was a group of the starfish pokemon that lived near Pallet town in the summers, and occasionally trainers passing through the town would catch one. Misty's didn't seem to be from that group though - the color was much different. The jewel in the Staryu's center pulsed with power, then turned steely gray as Multi sang her soothing lullaby. The starfish safely asleep, Multi began knocking it around. The other pokemon didn't stay asleep for long though. It woke up in reaction to Multi's first hit, and its gem turned steely again. In response, Multi seemed to compress her body down, making herself a smaller target. Staryu flashed grey again, and Multi's song floated through the air a second time.

    Multi hit and compressed again, and struck a third time as the Staryu woke up, launching a jet of water at Multi's face. Staryu struck again, but this time missed, then dived underwater as Multi sang her lullaby. This pattern continued for a few minutes, Staryu surfacing, but not quite long enough to launch an accurate attack, while Multi sang her song, or shrank her own body down to a miniscule size. Finally, Staryu stayed up long enough to launch an attack that connected, but at the price of being put to sleep again. Multi pressed her advantage, batting Staryu into the edge of the pool, about a foot from Misty.

    Misty knelt down to her sleeping pokemon, healing its injuries, then straightened. "Two can play at that game!" I called across the pool, tapping my own pokemon first aid kit. Multi pressed the attack against the still-sleeping pokemon, batting it back and forth across the pool. She was now so tiny I could barely see her. The Staryu woke up, steeling itself for another attack, but Multi lulled it back to sleep before it could attack.

    Multi really attacked now, hammering the Staryu with everything she had. Misty yelled frantic commands to her pokemon, but to no avail. The Staryu did eventually wake up, but too late. It got off only one attack before Multi knocked it right out of the water.

    Misty looked shocked. She grabbed a second pokeball from the table beside her, and tossed it into the water. This one looked like a pair of Staryu stacked on top of each other. The pokedex identified it as Starmie. I took the opportunity to tend to Multi's injuries, then sent her back out, narrowly avoiding a stream of water. Multi dodged a second attack as well, then struck back, batting the Starmie into the pool's wall.

    Misty called something unintelligible to the Starmie. It peeled apart into two Staryu, and spun towards Multi, catching her between them, before rejoining on the other side. Unfazed, Multi struck back. This continued for several more minutes, with neither pokemon showing signs of tiring. Shadow, who I'd never returned to his pokeball, lay down by my side and began to nap. Finally, Multi connected with a lucky shot against the Starmie's center gem, and it stiffened, floating at the top of the pool. Misty called the injured pokemon back, and Multi climbed out of the pool and ran to my side.

    Misty stepped out of the red square, and picked up a badge shaped like a water droplet from the table where her pokeballs had rested. She walked around the pool's edge, and pinned it to my lapel, just under the Boulderbadge.

    "You deserve this," she said to me. "The Cascadebadge puts you one step closer to the pokemon league tournament. You should take this, too. Consider it a gift for showing excellent sportsmanship." Misty handed me a light blue disk. The spine read Water Pulse - Water.

    Daniel and I exited the gym, and walked towards the pokemon center. "We make a great team, don't we?" commented Daniel. "Where's your next destination?"

    "I thought I'd head for Saffron next," I said. "From there, I have the choice of two more gyms."

    "A good plan," agreed Daniel. "I also have a gift for you. It seems to me that you've amassed a fair collection of those disks - they're called TMs by the way - and you should be able to use them. Here's everything you should need to teach those moves to one of your companions." He pulled a contraption from his bag, and pressed it into my hands. "Meet you in Saffron," he said. Then, suddenly, he was lost in the crowd.

    I examined the device in my hands. It consisted of an adjustable headset, which would fit around the head of most any pokemon I'd seen, and a cable that ran to a disk reader. I reached in my bag, and pulled out one of the TM disks, the one Misty had given me. I turned it over, and ran down the list of compatible pokemon on the back. I came to Nidorino, and stopped. Seemed as good a move as any for Shadow.

    I called Shadow out of his pokeball and seated him in front of the pokemon center. I adjusted the headgear to his head, and placed the disk in the drive. I waited a moment, then smelled burning plastic. Shadow didn't react. After another few seconds, the melted disk ejected from the socket. I tossed it, and the case, into the nearby trash can. Hopefully it had worked. I stopped to let my pokemon rest awhile at the pokemon center while I grabbed dinner at a nearby restaurant, then headed South towards the city gates.

    On my out of town, I passed a house that had a hole blown through the back. Curious, I stopped to investigate. The police were just wrapping up their investigation. "It looks like Team Rocket broke in here. They stole a TM, claiming it was cruel to force a pokemon to do something unnatural. We can't find any leads, so we're packing it in here." I stepped inside, curious as to what could have caused such a large hole in the wall. From the inside, it looked like a large pokemon had slammed itself into the wall repeatedly until it caved in. The occupants of the home were lucky it hadn't collapsed on them.

    Stepping through the hole, I found myself in the backyard. I looked around, and saw scuffed ground to the right. I stepped closer to examine, and fell right through, landing on top of a man in a Team Rocket uniform. He pressed a thin case into my hands, indicated that I was to be quiet, then hauled himself out of the hole and was gone. Shaken, I looked down at the case in my hands. It was a yellow-brown disk, with Dig -Ground written on the side. I clamoured out of the hole, and stepped back inside the house. I saw a man coming down the stairs.

    "I believe this is yours?" I asked him. "I found it lying in the garden outside."

    The man took the case from me, then tossed it back. "Keep it," he said. "My insurance will cover the losses, and you look like you can put it to good use."

    I thanked him, and set out to the South. Saffron City - and its gym - awaited.

    The Team

    Prime (Female Charmander)
    [​IMG]
    Level 24
    Gentle nature
    Blaze
    No Item

    Ember
    Scratch
    Growl (can't use)
    Metal Claw

    Lower BP limit: 102.5

    Prime saw less use this chapter than during the previous ones, mostly due to my having more than one pokemon this time. Even so, she is still a force, and can 1-2HKO pretty much everything. The BP restriction is pretty much non-existent at this time, largely due to having to solo everything in Mt. Moon that wasn't hit super-effectively by Flying/Fighting or weak enough to be taken care of by Multi.


    Shadow (Nidorino)
    [​IMG]
    Level 20
    Quirky nature
    Poison Point
    No Item

    Peck
    Double Kick
    Focus Energy (Can't use)
    Water Pulse

    Is a real powerhouse, even if he is limited. With the addition of water pulse, I think he can hit 11 or 12 of 17 types for SE damage, meaning he's pretty useful. Evolution restriction was pretty easy as well, just had to find trainers with 3+ pokemon in Mt. Moon. He just about never hits Reverse Mode, as I tend to switch him out on the KO, and just let Prime or Multi clean up.

    Multi (Female Clefairy)
    [​IMG]
    Level 23
    Mild nature
    Cute Charm
    No item

    Pound
    Dig
    Minimize
    Sing

    Surprisingly powerful. Moveset at catch was Pound/Doubleslap/Encore/Sing. Replaced Encore with Minimize upon level-up, and replaced Doubleslap with Dig at the tail end of the chapter. For the flavour for that, see the next update. Also handled soloing Misty very well, although not a required solo, she was pretty much the only useful pokemon in that situation.



    Chapter 4: February 6 (PM) (open)


    I travelled slowly south, stopping about every half-mile to carefully navigate down another precipice. I was extra cautious now, no more sliding down. I didn't want to reinjure myself and get laid up for a long time. That could kill any chance I still had at getting into the pokemon league. Just as the sun crept down past the horizon, I spotted a building in the distance. I headed toward it. Maybe there would be a place for me to stay overnight.

    When I got closer, I noticed a sign hanging above the door. It read 'Pokemon Care and rest stop.' Curious, I stepped inside. An old man stood behind a counter. Otherwise, the place looked deserted. "Hey," the man called to me gruffly. "You here to book a room?" I stepped toward the counter.

    "Is there a place to stay overnight?" I asked.

    "Yeah," he replied. "You can rent a room here for the night. Don't get many visitors coming this way since Saffron went into lockdown."

    "Saffron's in lockdown?" I asked. This journey just got more and more complicated. First the gym in Veridian had been closed, now a whole city was locked down. This didn't bode well for my participation in the pokemon league.

    "Yep. Shut right down. Guards on all the gates. If you're just planning to pass through, you can take the old tunnel, but be careful. It's not a pretty place down there."

    I thanked him for his advice, and paid for a room for the night. Pokemon were allowed to run free, so I released all three of my friends, then called Daniel. As I was talking, Shadow leapt up onto the bed and settled right down on the pillows. Prime sat down next to the heater, and Multi found a spot in a shaft of moonlight passing through one of the windows.

    "Hello?" came the voice on the other end of the phone. It was Daniel.

    "Hi Daniel," I said. "I've stopped for the night, but I just wanted to tell you what I found out today. Saffron's supposed to be closed to all traffic. Don't know why."

    "Hmmm, that's strange. What's your plan now?"

    "I thought I'd try to get in anyway," I ventured. "If I can't get in, I'll head for Vermilion instead. Assume I'll be there. If I do make it into Saffron, I'll let you know."

    "Sounds good to me," Daniel responded. "I still have some business to take care of in Cerulean, so I won't be able to make it all the way down to Vermilion by tomorrow. Maybe the day after. See you then."

    I said my goodbye to Daniel, and hung up the phone. I scooted Shadow out of his throne of pillows, down to the foot of the bed, and slid under the covers. Shadow draped himself across my legs. I closed my eyes, and let sleep take me.

    The next morning I woke gently, Shadow nuzzling at my face. I rolled over, and was astonished at what I saw. The contents of my bag had been strewn across the floor, and Multi lay passed out cold in the middle of it all. The TM machine was wrapped around her head. I threw the blankets off my body, and rushed over. I smelled burnt plastic. A cracked case lay on the floor, the one I had been gifted by the man in Cerulean. From what it looked like, Multi had dug through my bag, and somehow gotten into the TM machine, trying disks until one worked. I wasn't sure why she was passed out though. I carried her into the bathroom and splashed water onto her face, and she started to stir.

    I left her to recover, and set about packing my bag again, throwing a glance at Multi in the bathroom every couple seconds. I didn't want anything else to happen to her. As I put the machine away, and tossed the disk case in the garbage, I noticed a label on the inside cover. I fished it back out and took a look.

    Warning: the label read. Some pokemon may suffer adverse effects from the use of TMs. In nearly all cases these effects are temporary. Symptoms may include dizziness, lethargy, and unusual behaviour. If these effects persist for more than 24 hours, proceed to a pokemon center immediately. I shoved the broken case back into my bag. Hopefully Multi would recover soon.

    I ate a few pieces of dried meat for breakfast, feeding nibbles to Prime and Shadow. Multi, strangely, wasn't interested. I resolved to keep a much closer eye on her. I departed the rest stop, thanking the owner for his hospitality. Soon, a pair of buildings came into view in the distance. One was Saffron's north gatehouse, the other stood alone. Perhaps it was the entrance to the tunnel. I tried the gatehouse first.

    I walked through confidently until I came to the first door. It was locked, and a guard stood next to it. "The city's in lockdown. I can't let you in for safety reasons. I doubt a kid like you could handle what's going on inside." He wouldn't give me any more information, so I turned and walked away. Time to try the tunnel.

    The entrance to the tunnel wasn't much, basically just a shelter for a flight of stairs leading down below Saffron. The lighting inside was dim. Things didn't get much better as I descended the stairs. I could see a shaft of light distantly at the other end of the tunnel, but there was no other illumination other than a single dim bulb above my head. As I stood there, debating the merits of the tunnel, the light above my head went out.

    I recalled Multi, who had been walking by my side all day, and let my eyes have a moment to adjust to the darkness. The illumination from the end of the tunnel kept it from being pitch black, but everything still seemed blurred. Nothing really to do but walk though, unless I wanted to abandon my quest entirely. I took a step forward.

    I heard bugs skitter around as I walked, and thought I saw a Zubat hanging from a burnt out fluorescent tube, but couldn't be sure. I just kept walking, keeping an eye on my goal. After an eternity of walking though darkness, I finally found myself in the shaft of light. Blinded, I blinked and squinted, then climbed up the stairs once I had got my bearings. I stepped outside, and found myself outside Saffron's Southern gate.

    After having little success convincing the guard on that gate to let me in either, I set out towards Vermilion, Multi trailing behind me. She seemed to be recovering well, but I thought I'd have the pokemon center in Vermilion check her out anyway, just in case. There were a few trainers on this road, nothing to give my team trouble, but their pokemon were definitely more powerful than I'd encountered in Mt. Moon. It seemed that earthquakes hadn't been a problem this far South, although I saw a building or two that had been flattened by tidal waves.

    My first stop in town was the pokemon center, to get Multi checked out. I handed over my pokeballs in the familiar routine, and took a look around the town while I waited. The S.S. Anne was still moored in the harbour - that was the ship that Bill had given me the ticket for. It was supposed to be tomorrow, so I thought I'd better get in there while I had the chance. I also stopped at the supermarket and picked up a small loaf of bread and some fixings for sandwiches. I checked my phone, saw the time, and returned to the pokemon center.

    "Your Clefairy's fine," said the nurse as she handed me my pokeballs. "She seems to have a reaction to the TMs, but that shouldn't be a problem in the future, as long as you're careful about teaching them to her." I thanked the nurse for her advice, and set out towards the ship. I fully intended to get full use of my ticket, and Daniel wouldn't be here until tomorrow anyway. I briefly wondered what his business in Cerulean was, but couldn't think of anything. I was briefly reminded of how little I actually knew about the man. I resolved to ask him more about himself when I saw him next.

    I walked down the dock, showed my ticket to the man at the end of the boarding ramp, and stepped into the cabin. As I made my way through the ship, I was challenged by several trainers, and given gifts from around the world by several of the ship's staff. I took a stop in the gift shop, and made a few small purchases, including some berries from different parts of the world. I carefully stored them in my bag. I also picked up a small satchel of red dust, but put it down after looking at the price. It was pretty, but not very functional.

    I wandered some more, and found myself on the ship's foredeck . This was where the party had been, but there wasn't much to see or do here now. I'd gotten here too late for all the fun. I turned around to go back into the ship, and found myself face to face with Blue. "Hey," he called out to me. "How'd a loser like you get a ticket?"

    "I got one as a gift for helping out a friend," I replied. "Who decided it would be a good idea to let you on here?"

    "Oh, you know," he said. He tossed a pokeball in the air. "Oak got an invite, but the old geezer couldn't be bothered making it out here. When he heard I was in town, he sent it over to me. Enough talk though. Let's see if you've improved any." He tossed his pokeball in the air again, releasing his first pokemon, Pidgeotto. Prime appeared beside me in a flash of red light.

    Prime struck first, spitting flames towards the bird, knocking it off the boat and onto the beach below. Blue stood his ground. The Pidgeotto loomed over the railing, dropping a heavy payload of sand into Prime's face. Unfazed, more flames leapt from Prime's direction. I smelled burning feathers. A single feather floated down from the bird. It had consumed itself before it hit the ground.

    Pidgeotto dive-bombed Prime, knocking her to the ground. Prime rolled with the impact and landed on her feet, spewing flames into the air. Her attack connected, and the bird shrieked in pain. Blue quickly recalled the pained bird, and threw a second pokeball. A blue turtle appeared in a flash of light, but it wasn't his Squirtle.

    Multi rushed into the fight, knocking the turtle onto the beach. Blue and I rushed to the ship's rail, watching our pokemon do battle. Multi, pressing her advantage, quickly burrowing under the sand before the other pokemon could strike. Blue called a command to his pokemon, and it shrank into its shell, anticipating a hit, but was a few moments too late. Multi leapt out of the sand, knocking the turtle onto its back. It retreated farther into its shell as Multi knocked it farther from the bay's edge, then she dove back into her hole as the turtle spun, spewing water all around, and inexplicably landing on its feet.

    Multi struck again, forcing the turtle farther into its shell, and knocking it onto its back. It spun again, this time impacting Multi as she rushed in to strike. Mutli leapt in to a hole again, and the turtle - which my pokedex now identified as Wartortle, Squirtle's evolved form - ran for the water's edge. It didn't make it very far though, as Multi exploded from out of the sand. Wartortle spat water again, but Multi shook the attack off, and retaliated. She burrowed underground again, dodging the other pokemon's attack, and shot out again quickly, landing on its back. Wartortle was pressed to the ground. It didn't get up. Multi hauled herself up and over the guardrail of the S.S. Anne as Blue tossed a third pokeball into the air. I countered with my third pokemon, Shadow.

    Shadow faced off against a large white rat. He rushed at it, pummelling the other pokemon underfoot before it could even make a move. Blue triggered two pokeballs, recalling both his Wartortle and the rat, then released a fourth pokemon.

    Prime stepped forward again and spat fire towards the other pokemon. I heard the sizzle of burned flesh, and the acrid smell reached my nostrils. My pokedex spoke up quickly this time. "Kadabra. The evolved form of Abra. Uses its psychic power to attack its foes." I was treated to an example of this psychic power as the yellow pokemon's eyes glowed, and Prime faltered in her steps. Multi, standing beside me, winced. Prime threw off the attack and flung herself at the other pokemon, igniting a fire on the spot where it stood. Blue recalled his pokemon from the inferno and yielded defeat. Only now did I notice another badge gleaming, this one attached to the top of his left sleeve.

    "Admiring the Thunderbadge, I see," said Blue. I made no response other than recalling my pokemon.

    "Get out of my way," I said. I walked past him, and back into the ship. The final area that I hadn't visited was the Bridge, where passengers had a chance to meet the Captain. I entered, but saw no sign of anyone else in the room. I examined the ship's myriad controls, having worked my way about halfway around the room when I heard a voice behind me.

    "Interested in the ship, I see." I turned around. A man with greying hair and a white beard, and dressed in a white uniform, was walking towards me. "You're a good battler too. I saw your conflict with the other boy. In all my years of travelling the world, I haven't seen a trainer who has such deep respect and love from their pokemon, and it's obvious the bond works both ways." He indicated the pokeballs on my belt. "May I meet them?"

    I released all three of my pokemon. Multi ran towards the Captain, while Shadow held back, wrapping himself around my feet. Prime followed Multi more cautiously.

    "Excellent!" exclaimed the Captain. "I'd like you to have this." He pulled a grey disk in a case from his pocket. I strained to see the words on the spine. Normal - Cut.

    "I assume you've used TM machines before," the Captain continued. "This works similarly, but it is a much stronger material, in every sense of the word. It's not easy to make a pokemon forget this technique, even if you want them to, but it can be used as many times as you wish. Use it well."

    I checked the list of compatible pokemon on the back. Of my three pokemon, only Nidorino was listed.

    "Thank-you," I thanked the captain effusively. "If you had a few moments to show me what these controls do..."

    "Of course!" cried the Captain. "Here's the depth sensor. It...."

    The Captain launched into a detailed description of every control in the Bridge. When he'd finally wore himself out, it was hours later. The sun had set almost twenty minutes ago, and the light was fading quickly from the sky. The Captain invited me to stay the night on the ship, before it departed in the morning. I readily accepted.

    Dinner on the S.S. Anne was much better than I'd been eating for the past week. A main dish of penne in meat sauce was served, topped with exotic herbs and spices, some of which packed a real kick. Following the main course, dessert was served, consisting of ice cream and any combination of dozens of different toppings. I ate until I couldn't eat any more, then excused myself for the night.

    The berth I had been provided with was luxurious, and the bed quite large. I locked my bag in the cupboard under the television, so as not to have any more problems with Multi, then released my friends for the night. Shadow took his familiar position on the bed, while Prime curled up on top of the refrigerator, and Multi lay stretched out on the floor. I booted Shadow off my pillows, and crawled into bed. I took my time falling to sleep, listening to the sound of the water gently slapping against the hull. I could get used to this, I decided. Maybe when the ship stopped in next, I would be able to take a more extended stay.

    When I woke the next morning, the room was in a delightful state. No-one had caused any problems overnight. I pulled on a fresh set of clothes, another gift from the Captain, and went to breakfast. It was a grand affair, with six different kinds of bacon, at least a dozen different pastries, waffles, pancakes, cereals, sausages, and seven varieties of egg. I ate my fill, and split a pancake between my three pokemon, then bid my farewell to the Captain. The ship was to leave later that day.

    I stepped off the ship, and headed for the gym. I took a quick stop at the pokemon mart, and bought some more supplies for my pokemon first aid kit, as well as some more pokeballs. If I found another pokemon who touched my heart in the way my other friends did, I didn't want to have to leave them behind.

    I met Daniel in front of the gym. There were three names on the list of victorious trainers. One of them was Blue's. "I want to warn you before you enter," Daniel began. "This gym's a little different from the others you've seen. Lt. Surge, the leader here, locks himself in the back half of the gym all day, training. If you want to challenge him, you'll have to get to him first."

    I pondered this information for a minute, then asked, "How can I get to him?"

    "I haven't been able to figure that out yet," Daniel admitted. "Maybe one of the trainers inside knows more than I do, but I doubt they'll share that information freely."

    "We'll just have to see what it takes to get them to divulge that, then," I said, walking past Daniel and into the gym. A matrix of buttons littered the floor, three by five. Bolts of electricity crackled between nodes on the far wall, blocking the path to the rear of the gym. I saw a man with a shock of blonde hair sitting in a chair behind the barrier. Several trainers were spread around the room, working with their pokemon. I walked towards the nearest, pokeball in hand. "Let's get this over with," I said to no-one in particular.

    Prime led against his Pikachu. She got in the first hit, and the second shortly after. She hadn't even been touched. Things weren't much different against his other Pikachu, Prime still emerging without a scratch. I asked him about the buttons on the floor.

    "That's the work of Surge," he said. "The switches randomize. You have to hit the right two in sequence. If you get it wrong, you have to start over. That's all I'll say."

    That information helped, but it still seemed entirely up to chance if I'd get in to see Surge. I strode towards a second trainer, this one working with a Voltorb. Prime spat flames, blackening the outer surface of the pokemon's protective exoskeleton. The other pokemon let out a dreadful cry, causing both Prime and I to recoil. Prime struck again, and the Voltorb struck back, letting electricity flow from its body into Prime's. Prime weakly attacked again, gouging rents out of the pokemon's skeleton. The trainer called back his injured pokemon, and sent out a Magnemite. Giving Prime a rest, Shadow charged into battle, trampling the other pokemon underfoot. He backed off, leaving it injured and unable to fight, but definitively still alive.

    Acknowledging his defeat, the trainer gave me a valuable piece of information. The two switches were always next to each other, narrowing my options considerably. When I opened one node, the chance of finding the switch to shut down the other was greatly improved, at least one in four. I spoke to the third trainer in the gym, an elderly gentleman, just for good measure. Shadow faced off against his Pikachu, but refused to attack, so I sent Multi into battle, just in time to be hit by a weak shock. Multi's muscles seized up, and the Pikachu took the opportunity to dash right into her belly. Pikachu bounced off, and sat love-struck. Multi trembled for a few seconds, then Pikachu dashed into her belly again. Retaliating, she smacked the pokemon into the wall, sending a charge through the panel on the wall. Both nodes overloaded, and the path to Surge was cleared. The old man recalled his pokemon, and let me pass. I stepped confidently into the blue square, and shouted my challenge to the entire gym. "Surge! Fight me if you dare!"

    The man with the blonde hair stood. He also wore sunglasses, similar to Daniel's, and a green jumpsuit with multiple medals hanging from it. The name 'Surge' was printed above his breast pocket. He smiled. "I dare," he said.

    He stepped into the red square, and the battle began. The portion of the gym I'd thought was the battlefield sank into the ground slightly, and slid away. A battlefield reminiscent of a war zone slowly rose from the ground, pockmarked with craters and trenches, with pillboxes and bunkers littering the back lines. A Voltorb sat in the center of the field. I released Prime from his pokeball, and he walked forward.

    Prime spat fire at the other pokemon, which cried in pain. I covered my ears, shielding them from the awful sound. Prime attacked again, finishing the pokeball-like pokemon off. She ducked behind a bunker as Surge sent out his next pokemon, Pikachu.

    Pikachu approached the bunker where Prime hid cautiously, its cheeks crackling with electricity. It placed a hand on the bunker's surface, but Prime was cleverly standing away from the surface of the bunker, preventing any attack on the bunker from hurting her. She stepped around the edge of the bunker, flames spewing from her mouth, and stepped right into a crackling beam of lighting from the Pikachu. She stiffened, and the Pikachu rushed into her stomach, darting in and out almost faster than I could follow. Prime shook off the electrical attack, and struck back, the force of her attack knocking the Pikachu off its feet.

    Another mouse pokemon, this one dominantly orange, lifted itself out of a trench. I called Prime back, and sent out Multi, knowing her dig attack would be highly effective against the Electric type. Prime burrowed underground as the orange pokemon shimmered. A projector lit above the gym, and an illusory copy of Surge's pokemon appeared beside it.

    "Like that?" Surge asked mockingly. "If the enemy thinks you have more troops than you actually do, you stand a much better chance of overpowering them. It's a tactic I enjoy applying to all my pokemon battles."

    Multi sprung up where the original pokemon had been, knocking it off its feet. Its cheeks shimmered, and a powerful electric shock passed from it to Multi. Multi attacked again, striking the pokemon across its face, but it stayed on its feet this time. She ducked underground again, and Surge tended to his pokemon's injuries. I took advantage of the break in combat to identify Surge's pokemon as a Raichu, the evolved form of Pikachu.

    Raichu cast a bolt of lightning at a bunker, then leapt in the opposite direction. Multi emerged from underground as Raichu was in midair, and dove toward it, falling just short. She leapt up and swung, but hit the projection instead. It dissipated into thin air, and two more popped up to replace it. She burrowed underground again as still more fakes popped into existence. She honed in on Raichu based on its footsteps, but emerged from the ground a foot away from the pokemon. Unfazed, she swung, and this time connected. The Raichu was knocked back, off its feet, and into a trench. From the bottom of the trench, a lightning bolt flashed into the air, connecting with the gym's roof. From there, it flowed right into the bunker Multi stood next to, and jumped, shocking her left shoulder. Multi dove back into her hole as more electricity crackled into the air. She dug a fourth tunnel, and leapt up several feet from the trench where Raichu was. I was confused for a moment, then I heard a rumble. Several feet of trench collapsed inward, robbed of support, stemming the flow of electricity. Surge gave a cry and rushed forward, stepping out of the red square as he did so. This freed me to move without forfeiting, and so I did, rushing into the center of the battlefield.

    Raichu was still moving under the pile of rubble. Surge and I hauled piece after piece away, gradually exposing the trapped pokemon. Surge recalled his pokemon, and pressed a small bag into my hands. "You've earned it," he said, then rushed out of the gym, towards the pokemon center.

    I opened the bag. Inside was a badge, like the one Blue had been wearing on the S.S. Anne. There was also a TM, with the electric move Shock Wave. I pinned the badge to my shirt, next to the Cascadebadge, and stored the TM in my bag. I turned and walked out of the gym.

    Outside, I saw my name had been added to the list of victors, just under Blue's. I turned around. Daniel had followed me out of the gym. "Well, three down," I said.

    "Fantastic," Daniel agreed. "What's your plan now? Where to next?"

    "I thought I'd head up to Lavender Town," I responded. "I know there's no gym there, but it gives me another guard to try. Maybe one of these days I'll actually get into Saffron. If that fails, I'll head south from there to Fuchsia. I'll call you and let you know what's happening. Speaking of which, what was so important that you had to do in Cerulean?"

    Daniel seemed taken aback by my question. "That's...nothing you need to worry about. If you're meant to know, you won't find out from me." He walked away before I could say another word.

    I visited the pokemon center, letting my team have a chance to recover from Surge's gym. While I was waiting, Surge came up to me and started talking.

    "I just wanted to thank you," he began. "The nurse said if I'd gotten my pokemon here five minutes later, it might not have made it. By helping me clear out the rubble, you may have saved Raichu's life. If there's anything I can do for you, please, let me know." He finished his speech. I sat struck by his concern for his pokemon - a dying characteristic in this area.

    "The badge is thanks enough," I said. "I'm glad your pokemon is better, and I hope everything works out for you - you put up a great fight. I do have a problem I need an answer for, but I don't know if you'll be able to help." I shifted in my chair. The nurse called me over, and I took my pokeballs back from her, with thanks. I released Shadow from his pokeball.

    "This little guy has some issues," I said. "He won't always listen to me, and never for more than three techniques in a row. If you know of someone that might be able to help?"

    Surge regarded Shadow with interest. "It's obvious that he loves and trusts you, so he's not just refusing to listen because he doesn't believe in you as a trainer. It's possible that he's just afraid. I worked with a man a few years ago who was a pioneer in pokemon psychology. He lives in Lavender Town now. If you ever go there, look up Mr. Fuji. He might be able to help more than I can." Surge broke off when the nurse called him over to retrieve his Raichu. A bandage was wrapped around its left arm, and it looked dazed. I felt a pang of guilt.

    I thanked Surge for his advice, and set off Eastward, towards Silence Bridge, which ran North to Lavender. After an hour's walk, I encountered a cave on the left side of the road. A sign hung by the entrance - Diglett Cave: Exit near Pewter City. I had no reason to go back to Pewter, so I passed it by for the time being.

    When I reached the Eastern end of the road, I stopped in the gatehouse for lunch. Looking out the window, I observed a large black and white pokemon laying in the sun on the bridge. Noticing my gaze, one of the gatehouse's attendants walked over to me. "That's Snorlax," the man said. "It's been there for months now, ever since the earthquakes started. Occasionally it moves, and people can get by, but the last time that happened was three weeks ago. I wouldn't hold my breath. If you need to get somewhere, you can pass through Rock Tunnel, East of Cerulean. That'll bring you out in Lavender Town. From there, you can take the underground path to Celadon, and, if you have a bike, down Cycling Road to Fuchsia."

    I thanked the man for the information, and began the long walk back to Vermilion. I didn't fancy going back through either Mt. Moon, if it was even passable now, but I also didn't want to go through any more unlit tunnels. I pitched my tent just North of Vermilion's gate, and made plans to set out in the morning.

    The next morning, inspiration struck. I folded up the tent, stored it in my bag, and turned back to Vermilion. I visited the marine store, passing by racks of outboard motors, coils of line, and lifejackets, until I found what I was looking for. I made the purchase, and began the long hike North.

    After trying again - still lucklessly - to get into Saffron, I steeled my nerves and walked into the tunnel running North-South. The dim bulb above my head still provided a pittance of light, but nothing was visible twenty feet down the tunnel. I reached into my bag, and pulled out the purchase I had made in Vermilion. I placed my new headlamp around my head, and turned it on. Light immediately flooded the tunnel, suddenly making it a less scary place. I jogged forward much more confidently than I had two days ago.

    In the light, the tunnel seemed to be much shorter. I stepped out into the sunlight, and stored my lamp back in my bag, and continued my long trek North. Back in Cerulean, my phone rang in my pocket. I pulled it out and answered. It was my mom.

    "Red, hi," she said in her most motherly tone. "Oak has a gift for you. He feels bad about giving a gift to Blue and not you, so he sent you a bicycle. It should help you get around a little faster than on foot. I know the towns and cities are farther apart in the East, so I thought I'd let you know. How have you been?"

    I briefly recounted the story of my battle with Surge, and my detour out to Silence Bridge. "And now I'm all the way back up in Cerulean."

    "Oh, excellent!" cried my mom. "That's where Oak sent the bicycle. You can pick it up at the post office."

    "I'm on my way," I said. "Love you, mom."

    "You too hon," she replied. "Bye! Good luck!"
    "Bye!" I finished, then hung up the phone. I found myself in front of the post office. I walked in, and asked for my package. After some bureaucratic red tape that takes place only in the depths of the back room of post offices, I walked out, bright red bicycle in hand.

    It had been a while since I'd ridden. My dad had sent me my first bicycle for my seventh birthday, and I'd loved it. I rode everywhere, even though the town wasn't all that big. I eventually outgrew it, and hadn't ridden since. I mounted, and rode in a shaky circle. I set the bicycle back down. I'd have to be more careful if I didn't want to re-injure my head. I probably wouldn't be as lucky next time I hit it.

    I walked into the bicycle shop, and purchased a full assortment of safety equipment, including lights for riding at night, a reflective helmet, and a tyre pump with a spare tyre. Armed with what was almost definitely the safest bicycle this side of Indigo Plateau, I set out to the East, looking for the entrance to Rock Tunnel.

    I soon found myself in another canyon. Earthquakes had done a number here as well, forcing me to dismount and carefully pick my way down several precipices. I slowly made progress towards the sea to the East, walking more than I rode. I eventually folded up the bicycle, and clipped it to my backpack - it was much easier than dismounting every five minutes.

    After several hours of slow going, I reached a small settlement by the North end of Rock Tunnel. They provided power to the entire region using the generators to the South, and provided a rest stop for trainers travelling through the tunnel. I stopped here for the night, not wanting to emerge from the South end of the tunnel at night, and perhaps not be able to get into Lavender. The town operated a bed and breakfast, reminiscent of the one run by Oak's family. I stopped for the night there, eating more of my scarce supplies for dinner, and going to bed early. I released my pokemon, and they took their familiar spots throughout the room. I used the bed and breakfast's Wifi for a while, checking email on my phone - nothing new - before shutting the phone off and falling to sleep.

    I woke feeling refreshed, the best that I had in days. Today was going to be a good day. No-one had moved during the night, still occupying their customary spots. I called them back into their pokeballs, and went downstairs. Breakfast was a mixture of eggs, toast and sausage. I grabbed some of each, and sat down to eat, finishing quickly. I thanked my host, and paid, then set out, stepping into the inky darkness of Rock Tunnel.

    I pulled my headlamp out of my bag, and fit it around my head. Turning it on, I stepped into the depths of the cave. Before I'd gone a half-dozen steps, I tripped over a tiny pile of rocks, knocking it over. I fell, sprawling, twisting in an attempt to protect my head. I landed hard on my shoulder, pokeballs bouncing off of my belt and out of my bag. Prime appeared in a red flash, and Multi a moment later. I saw another flash from behind me - that must be Shadow - then a fourth flash.

    Wait, a fourth flash?

    I picked myself up and turned around. The pile of rocks I'd tripped over was gone. In its place sat a gently rocking pokeball. As I watched, the ball slowed, then stopped. My pokedex chimed, registering the pokemon's information.

    "Onix," I read from the pokedex's screen. "The Rock Snake Pokemon. They never stop growing larger or harder exoskeletons. Adults are capable of burrowing at speeds approaching fifty mph."

    I hefted the pokeball in my hand, then released my newest pokemon, giving it a chance to leave. It stayed right where it was, steadfast. Shadow gave it a cautious sniff, then, deciding the Onix wasn't a threat, circled back and sat by my side. Prime dismissed the new pokemon entirely, not giving it a second thought, but Multi ran right up and threw her arms around it. That settled things in my mind. Welcome to the team, Rubble.

    I knelt down, extending my arm towards Rubble. He bobbed his head back and forth a moment, then slid forward, wrapping himself gently around my wrist. He was small enough still that he fit around twice, and wasn't too heavy. That would change in time, but I was fine with carrying him for now. Multi scampered up the side of the cave and jumped onto my shoulder, and Prime and Shadow fell into step beside me. Ready for anything, the five of us walked into the mysterious depths of Rock Tunnel.

    My four friends and I trekked through the dark reaches of the tunnel. We encountered several more wild pokemon, as well as Trainers, but nothing the five of us couldn't handle. In one such battle, I defeated the hiker's first pokemon, a Geodude, with Prime, and had struck considerable damage to the Graveller, again with Prime. Then it happened. The ground around Prime ripped away from the floor of the cave, and bounced up and down in a cruel vortex. Prime was thrown from the rock, and smacked into the cave's wall. She didn't get up. I felt an involuntary shake run through me. Panicked, I fumbled for her pokeball, recalling her and sending out Shadow who knocked the rocky pokemon into a nearby pool of water.

    I rushed through the rest of the cave, paying no attention to the other Trainers I blew by, finally emerging in Lavender Town. I ran towards the town's pokemon center, and breathlessly handed my pokeballs over to the nurse. Tired from my exertion, I collapsed into a chair and fought to stay awake...

    I was woken by the nurse returning my pokemon. She carried three pokeballs in her hands. They contained Shadow, Rubble and Multi. There was no sign of Prime. "Your Charmander is still recovering," the nurse said. "She'll be fine, but it'll take a little longer for her to be recovered. Fainting is nothing to take lightly. That's why most trainers will recall their pokemon and forfiet the match, before allowing their pokemon to faint."

    I thanked the nurse and told her I'd be back in a half hour when Prime would be ready. My three healthy companions and I walked though the town, exploring everything the area had to offer. I had made a complete circuit of the town within five minutes - there really wasn't much of anything here. The only landmark of note was Pokemon Tower, which held tombstones in memory of deceased pokemon. Services were held weekly for the newly deceased.

    I returned to the pokemon center, and sat down in the chair to wait for Prime to return. When the nurse finally brought her out of the hospital, I immediately let her out of her pokeball, and held her to my chest. I fed her a few pieces of dried meat, and set her down beside me. She followed me closely out of the pokemon center. I pitched the tent to the North of the town's gate, just outside the entrance to Rock Tunnel. I released my three confined companions, and three of them settled into their familiar places. Rubble looked around for a few moments, then settled for lying across the entrance to the tent. I was glad that he hadn't chosen a more familiar spot - when he grew, he would have a hard time fitting inside here at all.

    I slowly fell asleep as rain began to fall. I listened to the patter of rain falling on top of the tent, and let myself be slowly lulled to sleep.

    Prime (Female Charmander)
    [​IMG]
    Level 30
    Gentle nature
    Blaze
    No Item

    Ember
    Scratch
    Rock Slide
    Metal Claw

    Lower BP limit: 116

    Fainted for the first time this chapter, largely due to my own stupidity. She's the first pokemon on the team to faint at all, which is surprising, given her power - probably attributable to the fact that she's wholly unevolved. Should evolve at least once next chapter, and really start to pick up some power.

    Shadow (Nidorino)
    [​IMG]
    Level 33
    Quirky nature
    Poison Point
    No Item

    Peck
    Double Kick
    Cut (Can't use)
    Water Pulse

    Was the only pokemon on the team that could learn Cut, so it became his job instead of Focus Energy, which he really couldn't use anyway. He's just a beast. Probably the MVP right now, despite the low power of his moves. His decent coverage makes him useful in several situations, but it was a real pain when Prime fainted in Rock Tunnel, and he just couldn't attack some of the trainer pokemon in the rest of the area.

    Multi (Female Clefairy)
    [​IMG]
    Level 30
    Mild nature
    Cute Charm
    No item

    Pound
    Dig
    Metronome
    Sing

    Did really well in the start of the chapter, but she's starting to show weakness a little bit. I didn't have enough pokemon for Flash, so she'll have to wait until Fuchsia and Strength become available for the HM move. She didn't take kindly to soloing several Slowpoke and Pidgey during Rock Tunnel, but did quite well against Surge's Raichu.

    Rubble (Male Onix)
    [​IMG]
    Level 18
    Relaxed nature
    Rock Head
    No item

    Tackle
    Screech
    Bind
    Rock Throw (Can't use)

    Looks pretty promising. Mostly switch training for now, but should end up in a pretty good position. In addition to having a massive defence stat, and a +def nature, his IV is either a 30 or 31. Should be an excellent physical wall. He has two required moves, but I have plans for the other two slots...



    Chapter 5: February 10 (open)


    I woke to sun flooding through the thin sides of the tent. I felt its warmth illuminate my face, and lay with my eyes closed for several minutes, basking in the warmth. Finally, I cracked my eyes open. Shadow was awake already, lapping at a puddle that had formed in one corner of the tent. Prime had climbed into Shadow's spot in an effort to get off the wet floor. I suddenly became aware that my back was soaked. I extricated myself carefully from the sleeping bag, noting that Rubble had migrated to my feet as well, and surveyed the scene. What had begun as a gentle shower last night had turned into a torrential downpour at some point, and water had seeped through the bottom of the tent almost uniformly. That's what I get for not staying to high ground, I thought, glad that the water hadn't caused more damage. My bag was waterproof, so I had nothing to fear there.

    I stuck my head out the door of the tent. The entire road was slick with mud. I would have some trouble getting out of town in this direction today. I recalled my pokemon, and pulled the poles out of the tent. Having no alternative, I wrapped it up and put it away while I made the quick walk into town.

    When I arrived in town a few minutes later, I went straight to Mr Fuji's house, which I'd located the evening before. In addition to being a pokemon psychologist, he ran a rescue center for pokemon out of his own home. When I knocked, I was immediately assailed by a half dozen pokemon of different shapes, sizes and colors. I noticed a Pikachu and a Squirtle before I was knocked to my knees and covered from head to toe in eager pokemon. When I managed to extricate myself from the pile, I found myself face to face with a boy in his early teens who identified himself as Mr. Fuji's son.

    "He's not here right now. I think he went out to Pokemon Tower to attend this week's service. I don't know when he'll be back," said the boy in response to my unasked question. I thanked him, and on a whim asked if I could leave my tent in the yard to dry, as I had nowhere to put it. The boy agreed wholeheartedly, and showed me around to the back. I draped my tent over Mr. Fuji's clothesline, and thanked his son again. I promised to return soon, and headed for Pokemon Tower.

    When I reached Pokemon Tower, I found that the doors had already closed for the service, and I wasn't allowed in. Story of my life, I thought. First Veridian Gym, then Saffron, now this! The service was slated to end at four PM, so I made plans to return then. In the meantime, I explored the road to the West.

    There wasn't much exciting on the road to Saffron. I had a close encounter with a gang of bikers, riding their motorcycles through the countryside in a joyride - they nearly ran me over! - but there wasn't anything that posed a challenge to my team.

    It didn't seem like I'd been walking for very long when I found myself outside the gates if Saffron. I tried the entrance - no luck here either. It seemed the city really was in lockdown, and no-one knew why.

    I checked my phone. It was getting late. I rode back towards Lavender, hoping to actually have a chance to meet with Mr. Fuji today.

    When I arrived back in town, I went straight to Mr. Fuji's house. I fended off the inevitable flood of pokemon outside the door, and rapped sharply against the wooden surface. The door opened, and I was invited in.

    Mr. Fuji was a wizened old man, with gray tufts of hair around the sides of his head, and, strangely, thick white eyebrows. He sat me down on the couch, offered me my choice of eight varieties of tea, and waited for me to drink before we discussed anything.

    I introduced myself as a friend of Surge's, who had recommended I seek out Mr. Fuji to help with Shadow's problems. "I see," said Mr. Fuji when I had finished. "Let's see the little guy, then."

    I reached down to my belt and pulled out Shadow's pokeball. I released him into the living room, and he immediately lay down across my feet. "Curious," I heard Mr. Fuji say. "Very strange. Clearly, your pokemon trusts you. Why, then he shouldn't listen is beyond me." He paused for a moment, and took a sip of his tea. I reached for Shadow's pokeball, which I had set on the end table.

    "Wait!" cried Mr. Fuji. Shadow's ears flicked to flat against his head when Mr. Fuji raised his voice, before returning to a more restful position. "Leave him with me a while, if you can. Maybe spend some time in the tower - pay your respects to the deceased. I promise you that I'll do everything in my power to help your pokemon."

    I thanked Mr. Fuji effusively, and stepped out the door, leaving about half my cup of tea sitting on the table. I walked towards Pokemon Tower, not wanting to leave town without Shadow, and the tower was the only remotely interesting thing in town.

    The lights in Pokemon Tower were kept low, contributing to the morose atmosphere. The walls were covered in lists of donors, sponsors and volunteers. A kiosk stood in the center of the room. Stacks of papers lay all around it. One paper outlined guidelines for mourning practices, and another held a map of the building. I took this one and stuck it into my bag. It might be useful if I got lost.

    To my right were two staircases, one leading upstairs to private alcoves, and the other leading downstairs to the public burial chambers and memorials. I took this staircase down, as I wasn't allowed into the upper section without permission from an owner of an alcove.

    Downstairs, the light was even more dim. Rows and rows of memorial markers stretched into the distance. The basement of the tower seemed to encompass a greater area than the town itself. I wandered through the groupings of memorials, each one with a picture of the pokemon in its prime. Every pokemon from companions to battle champions were buried here. Some pokemon had personal items left at the memorial. One Growlithe had a blue collar encased in glass above its memorial marker. Another pokemon, one I didn't recognize, had had its pokeball set into the memorial itself, right above the name.

    I wandered for hours, losing track of time. I didn't see another person anywhere. Eventually, I completed a circuit of the perimeter of the chamber, and made my way back to the staircase at the center of the massive room. As I made my way back towards the exit, I spied another person kneeling in front of a marker. As I walked closer, he straightened and turned around. It was Blue.

    Tears glistened in his eyes. I made my way toward him, not knowing what I would do, but knowing that it was important. "What do you want?" he spat as I neared. "Oh. It's you."

    The marker he stood beside commemorated a white pokemon, Ratticate. Sitting at the foot of the monument was a pokeball and a pair of berries. "I...I'm sorry," was all I could manage.

    "You don't know what it's like!" Blue cried. His voice broke, and he sobbed. He hammered his fist against the grave. He ripped a pokeball from his belt, and tossed it angrily at the ground. His Pidgeotto appeared beside him. The angry pokemon swooped low towards my head.

    I grabbed for a pokeball, tossing it into the air. Rubble came flying out, startling the bird and diverting its course. I pulled Prime's pokeball from my belt, releasing her into the fray as I called Rubble back. "Later," I said to the snake as it draped itself across my shoulders - he was growing quickly, too big for my wrist now.

    Prime strode forward into a wall of wind, knocking her back. She blindly spewed flames into the force, connecting with the other pokemon. I winced. Pidgeotto flew into the air, dislodging dirt and dust from the ceiling above, then diving into Prime. She swung her fiery tail into the bird pokemon, knocking it into a spin, but missed her follow-up swipe. Pidgeotto recovered, and spun in an ever-quickening vortex around Prime, spinning her around, then diving into her belly. Prime grabbed onto the bird pokemon, and was carried up into the air before she singed its tail feathers, forcing it down. She seemed a little wobbly on her feet, but otherwise OK.

    Blue's eyes narrowed. Tears streamed down his cheeks. His Wartortle appeared beside him, and I threw Multi's pokeball. Multi hesitated before attacking, taking in her strange surroundings, and the Wartortle took advantage, darting forward and biting her. Multi passed her hand through Prime's tail, and lit the ground in front of her on fire, then spreading it towards Wartortle. I closed my eyes and heard the hiss of steam.

    When I opened them, Wartortle was still standing, and the fire was out. The other pokemon darted towards Multi again, its jaws clamping down on her. Unfazed, Multi sang out, lulling the other pokemon into a sleep. Multi gently pulled its jaws off her arm, and I watched as a strange glow flowed over her. She became almost luminescent.

    Wartortle woke up, and gazed, transfixed, at this display. Multi smacked it across the face, knocking it spinning, and still it gazed. Suddenly her eyes glazed over, as if she was looking off into space. Wartortle expelled a powerful beam of water at Multi, and she staggered, but was unhurt. She hit Wartortle again, stunning it. Her eyes glazed over again, and this time a tremor ran through Wartortle's body. The blue pokemon staggered, then was hit by a second tremor. It stiffened and collapsed.

    Blue dropped to his knees. He rolled another pokeball out, and held his pokemon close to his chest. Tears fell from his eyes, dripping from his face onto the ground, leaving small wet patches. I let Rubble slither off my shoulders now, giving him his time in the spotlight, as a Growlithe appeared in a flash of light. Blue's, like the one I had seen earlier on my walk, wore a bright blue collar.

    Rubble let out a harsh cry as he slithered toward the other pokemon. Growlithe spat flames towards him, but he just cried again and kept going. The second jet of flame had as little effect, as did the third. The fourth jet hit him in the face. The sensitive rock on his head shimmered and began to run. I called him back toward me, tending to his injuries as best I could, dodging more jets of flame.

    Rubble turned back as I retreated, wrapping himself around the fire pokemon's legs. He squeezed tighter and tighter, oblivious to the blistering heat, until Growlithe's legs collapsed. He released the pokemon, and slithered back towards me.

    Blue straightened, His eyes were red now, inflamed, and several glistening trails ran down each cheek. He thumbed the release on a fourth pokeball, and I was treated to the sight of a new pokemon, shaped like a clutch of eggs. It was immobile. My pokedex spoke up.

    "Exeggcute. Egg pokemon. Is unable to move without assistance. Attacks using psychic power."

    I called Rubble back, and sent Prime back into the fray. According to my pokedex's screen, Exeggcute was partly grass type, and Prime would have an advantage.

    The air around the egg pokemon shimmered, assaulting Prime with its mind. Prime collapsed onto the ground, her waking self abandoned in the fight against the forces that were assaulting her mind. I tended to her physical injuries as best I could, but I couldn't do anything about her mental trauma with my limited supplies. I made a mental note to see if I could address that later. Exeggcute spewed a grup of seeds towards Prime, whicu buried under her skin before I could stop them. I didn;t know what they were for, but it couldn't be good.

    Prime's eyes flickered open, returning to the waking world once more. She spat flames towards the egg pokemon, searing its skin, but the other pokemon didn't seem affected. It redoubled its attacks on Prime's mind, the shimmer in the air increasing with the flow of psychic power.From the corner of my eye, I spotted a yellow pokemon that I recognized - Kadabra. I sent Multi towards it. Multi burrowed under the ground, erupting next to the psychic pokemon, knocking it clean onto its back in one hit. Blue recalled it with a grimmace. His eyes were red and puffy still, but no more tears fell. His eyes were dry as a bone.

    I tuned my attention back to Prime, still struggling with the Exeggcute. She wheeled around dazed and collapsed onto her back. My mouth opened in a wordless cry. I saw a grim smile creep over Blue's face. Someone to share his pain. I sat there dumbfounded as Multi ran up behind the Exeggcute and smacked it hard, cracking one of the delicate eggshells. Prime still hadn't moved.

    Blue recalled his pokemon and ran, rushing though the rows of memorials, and quickly reaching the stairs. He sprinted up and was lost from my view. I held Prime to my chest, and gently walked out of the tower's basement, cradling my fragile pokemon in my arms. I waited for her in the pokemon center - what would they think of me, seeing the same pokemon fainted twice in as many days - and made my way through the dim light provided by the moon towards Mr. Fuji's house.

    I knocked on the door unmolested this time, and was called inside by Mr. Fuji. He sat on the couch beside where I had sat earlier that day. Shadow lay curled up on the ground beside him. "Any luck?" I asked, afraid I already knew the answer.

    "Yes. The problem with your pokemon is simple, albeit confusing. I'm not surprised you came to me for help." Mr. Fuji launched right into an explanation of Shadow's psyche. I stood amazed, particularly that he could have learned so much about my pokemon in such a short time. I hadn't begun to guess at half of what he said in all the (admittedly short) time I'd been travelling with Shadow.

    "Your pokemon," began Mr. Fuji, "has some confidence issues. It shouldn't be too hard to fix, if you know what to do, but you'll have to be careful. There's a gym in Celadon City, the other side of Saffron, where you should use him almost exclusively. If he can win through the gym, he should make a full recovery. Come see me after you're done."

    I picked up Shadow's pokeball from the table, thanked Mr. Fuji again, and went to retrieve my tent from behind his house. Shadow followed behind me. As I was leaving, Mr. Fuji blocked the door. "Where do you think you're going?" he asked accusingly.

    "I was going to camp out by the edge of town," I answered. "I'll head towards Celadon tomorrow."

    "Nonsense," Mr. Fuji said, shaking his head. "You're staying here, as long as you have nowhere else to stay. Anyone who cares about their pokemon as much as you do is always welcome under my roof." He shooed me back inside, and directed me to a spare room upstairs. "You're welcome to release your pokemon, if you wish," he said, as he showed me through the door.

    I thanked Mr. Fuji yet again, and reached for my belt, releasing the switches on three pokeballs. Prime, Multi and Rubble all appeared in front of me. I took a minute to look around the room. A fire roared on far wall, with an oversized chair in front of it. A large bay window looked out towards the sea - and Silence Bridge - to the South. One of the panes was open, and a gentle breeze floated in. The flame at the tip of Prime's tail flickered in the wind, and I felt a slight chill passing through the thin material of my shirt. On the walls were pictures of many different species of pokemon. Some I knew, others I searched the pokedex for, and one defeated even that resource.

    It was a small pink pokemon, with large eyes and a long tail. While most of the other images had nameplates, giving the pokemon's species name, or a nickname, the frame around this picture was blank. It probably wasn't important.

    I heard a loud crack from beside me, and I gave a jump. Prime had lay down beside the fire, and her tail flicked lazily in. A log lay cracked cleanly in two in the hottest part of the flame. I kept scanning the room. Multi was curled up on the window seat. I reached over and closed the open section.

    I turned back towards the bed. Shadow, as usual, was lying in the pillows, and Rubble lay stretched out under the foot of the bed. His head poked out one side, and his tail the other. I suddenly realized how tired I was, and clicked the light off by the doorway, and, guided by the moonlight, slid into the bed, dislodging Shadow from his perch in the pillows.

    The next thing I knew, light was flooding against my closed eyelids. I threw the blankets off of my body and rolled out of bed. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I stood, pulling a fresh shirt from my bag. I recalled my pokemon, placing their pokeballs on my belt, and made the bed before heading downstairs. I accepted Mr. Fuji's offer of breakfast, chewing down a thick stack of pancakes before setting out to the West.

    On the road once again, I pulled out my phone and gave Daniel a call. "Hello?" came the voice over the line.

    "It's Red," I said. "Just thought I'd let you know I'm headed for Celadon. The gym there's one of the ones on my list, and a friend recommended I try that one next. See you there."

    "Wait," said Daniel. I heard a tremor in his voice. I couldn't quite place the emotion. "I've...been...I've been banned from Celadon's gym. Don't ask why, I won't say, let's just leave it at I made some...bad choices in my youth. Erika's predecessor banned me, and she hasn't seen fit to undo it. I do have some advice for you though. I'll meet you at the game corner in Celadon."

    "Ok then," I answered cheerily. "See ya!" I hung up the phone.

    I spent several uneventful hours continuing along the road to Saffron. I didn't bother trying the gatehouse again, instead turning toward the small building just North of the gate. The building seemed in better repair then the new I had seen on the North-South route. A small plaque to the left of the door read Underground Path. Courtesy of Lavender Town Volunteer Pokemon House. A list of names was imprinted below the title. Mr. Fuji's was displayed prominently.

    Inside, I was faced with a pleasant surprise. The lights in the tunnel were all bright and functional. I reached for my belt, releasing all four of my friends. Rubble slithered across my shoulders, while the other three walked beside me, Multi occasionally darting out to investigate a shiny object on the ground.

    The journey through the tunnel took an extraordinarily short time, despite Multi's many distractions. The five of us emerged into the bright afternoon light, next to a fourth Saffron gatehouse. I didn't bother trying to get in this time. I could see the outskirts of Celadon in the distance, and set out determinedly towards the city.

    A half hour later, I walked into the city. I stopped and looked up. All around me, buildings rose into the sky. Billboards and television screens dotted the sides of the cityscape. My first stop was the pokemon center. I let everyone have a quick rest and refresher while I explored the city. I wandered through the aisles of the nearby department store for about a half-hour, buying several bottles each of water, pop and lemonade, advertised as 'safe for pokemon,' as well as a few bagels and buns.

    After retrieving my pokemon, I headed for the game corner, a massive building covered in bright red, flashing lights. I stepped inside, showing my ID to the guard at the door, and stepped onto the floor. I weaved through the rows of slot machines, card games and roulette tables, eventually coming face to face with Daniel.

    "What are you doing here?" he asked, shocked to see me. He held a glass in his left hand, and a pair of low-value poker chips in his right.

    "You said you'd meet me here," I said scathingly. "Did you forget?"

    Daniel lowered his head. "Yes," he said. "I did. I...I have some...problems. I'm not perfect, any more than anyone else is. This particular...addiction... Is the reason that I couldn't stay with the woman I loved. But enough about me. Erika, Celadon's gym leader uses grass-type pokemon. Many also have a secondary type, usually poison. Be careful. I know how much your pokemon mean to you, like mine meant to me."

    "Hold on, what?" I asked. "What happened to your pokemon?"

    "That's enough about me," he snapped, suddenly hostile. Obviously I'd touched a nerve. "Go do your thing. I'll see you after the battle."

    Daniel turned and walked away. I watched him for a minute, then turned back toward the exit. Before I stepped out of the building, I stopped in the washroom. As I was washing my hands, I watched a man in a Team Rocket uniform walk into a stall. I heard a mechanical noise behind me, then the stall door swung open. He was gone.

    Curious, I walked into the stall, closing the door behind me. I looked around, spying a second handle sticking out from behind the toilet. I pulled it, and everything went black.

    I opened my eyes. I stood in an industrial space, with low ceilings, maybe a basement or small warehouse. Teleportation wasn't a common mode of transportation, but I had experienced it before. It tended to leave me disoriented, but that was a common problem. Come to think of it, the disorientation was probably the reason it hadn't become more widespread. I looked around the room I had appeared in. The walls were grey and bare, save for a large letter 'R' spray painted onto the wall, straddling the doorway invitingly.

    I stuck my head out the door cautiously, my hand on my belt, holding one of the pokeballs resting there. I didn't see anyone or anything. The entire area looked deserted. I slowly crept out of the room, Rubble's pokeball in hand. Suddenly, I felt something rustle by my leg. I looked down. A large white rat wrapped its tail around my left ankle as it eyed my right hungrily.

    I froze, and thumbed the release on the pokeball in my hand. Rubble appeared in midair, and twisted his body as he fell, landing on the rat's head, driving it into the ground with its teeth less than an inch from my leg. I pulled back, and ran right into the same man I'd followed in here. We both fell to the ground in a collapse of limbs. I saw a pair of pokeballs bounce away from the pair of us, but I couldn't tell if they were his or mine. Rubble slithered around the rat, tightening his coils around its body until it stopped struggling, then released the limp white mass to the ground.

    I picked myself up off the ground long enough to see a flash of red light - one of the pokeballs had hit a wall - but I was down again before I could see who was out. I hit the ground hard this time, landing on my tailbone with a loud thump echoing through the room. My head felt fuzzy still from my injury outside of Cerulean, and the teleportation hadn't helped. This fall now just made things worse.

    I shrugged my bag off, and threw a wild fist in the general direction of my adversary. I found only empty air. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Rubble lashing ineffectively at a Zubat with his tail. Multi's pokeball, the other one lying on the ground, lay just outside my reach. I moved towards it, but it was grabbed before I got there by a black-gloved hand.

    I grabbed his hand, hauling myself up, and threw an offhand punch at his jaw. I connected, sending him sprawling to the ground. I grabbed Prime's pokeball, tossing it off to the side, towards Rubble and the Zubat. I saw a flash of red light, then was jolted back as a punch connected with my gut.

    I reeled back, stopped by a sharp impact with the wall behind me. I lifted my head, and saw rubble wrapping himself around the man's leg, slowing his movement. Prime shot a steady jet of flames at the Zubat, pinning it into a corner and roasting it. It let out an anguished scream as it erupted into flame, which was suddenly cut short. Prime turned around, firing a snort of flame out of her nostrils. The Rocket man paled. He tossed a smoke pellet from a pouch on his belt, obscuring my vision. When the air cleared, Rubble lay stunned on the floor, and the man was gone. Seconds later, soft red lights began flashing through the halls of the complex. Looks like they know I'm here. And I don't intend to leave without Multi.

    Prime by my side, Rubble across my shoulders, and Shadow still in his pokeball on my belt, I walked deeper into the hideout, looking for our missing companion. Prime and Rubble made short work of the few others I encountered, easily dispatching pokemon and sending their trainers scurrying away. I made my way slowly through the labyrinthine corridors, eventually finding myself in a more formal meeting room. An ID badge was on the table, connected to a lanyard and a key. I grabbed it, thinking it might be able to help me get Multi back.

    I moved deeper into the building, grabbing interesting-looking items as I went. One of these treasures, a charred black piece of coal, Prime took a liking too, refusing to hand it over to me. I let her keep it, it couldn't do her any harm. Eventually, I found myself face to face with a massive door. A card reader sat on the wall to the right. It accepted my card. I walked through the door and found myself in a massive cargo elevator. I let Rubble off my shoulders - he was growing very quickly - and hit the button to descend to the lower level. The machine moved silently down.

    The doors opened on the lower floor.This level was more opulently decorated, with soft tones on the walls, and photographs and paintings on the walls. One painting I recognized from the news a few months ago, it had been stolen from the art gallery in Hoenn, and it was thought to have been smuggled out of the region. How it ended up here, I had no idea.

    I stepped off the elevator. The doors closed behind me, and the car trundled upward. I continued my exploration. This level seemed to consist of only two rooms, the one with the cargo elevator, and a second, which looked like an office. A strange device lay on the antique desk. I picked it up and put it in my bag, then heard a chime behind me. I turned, and saw a man in a suit stepping off a teleportation pad in the other room. He strode forward confidently, seemingly unaffected by the rigors of the device. Lucky guy.

    "What are you doing here?" he asked accusingly. "How did you get in?"

    "Who are you?" I countered. "And what are you doing with all this contraband?"

    "I admit, I am impressed that someone managed to get this far without setting off any of my more...dangerous security measures," the man said. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket. We steal pokemon, among other things. This pokemon here is our most recent aquisition." He held up a pokeball, tossing it in the air. It fell, landing in his other hand, exposing the mark I'd put on Multi's pokeball.

    My fist clenched and unclenched. "Why are you telling me this? It doesn't matter to me what you steal, only that you're thieves. I'm just here to get my pokemon back and get out. I want absolutely nothing to do with you people. Leave me be, and I'll get out of your hair."

    "Ah, but you're a thief as well," said Giovanni. "What about that Silph Scope in your bag? We took that from Silph Co., and now you're taking it from us. Go ahead, we don't need it anymore, but don't pretend you're any better than us." He pulled a pokeball from inside his suitjacket. "I do enjoy little chats like these, but I'm simply out of time. If you want your pokemon back, come and take it."

    I tossed Rubble's pokeball at the ground, as Giovanni released his own pokemon, another Onix, much larger than Rubble. Rubble rushed at the larger snake, but it hurled itself out of the way, its body shimmering and flowing. Rubble tired a second time, with similar success, but managed to connect the third time. It didn't seem to faze the larger snake, who didn't even flinch. I called Rubble back to my side, and tossed Prime's pokeball towards the battleground. The snake slid towards Prime, wrapping itself around her body. Prime tore at the snake's exposed body with her claws, ripping chunks of rock off its body, exposing more layers. She persisted, and finally ripped right through the rocky exoskeleton, puncturing the snake's soft skin. It shrieked in pain, and released Prime, slithering back to Giovanni's side.

    Giovanni, unfazed, threw a second pokeball, this one releasing another rocky pokemon. My pokedex, forgotten in my pocket, buzzed, but I didn't look at it. I didn't want to give Giovanni anything else to steal. My attention returned to the battle, where Rubble had slithered back into battle. At least I had one pokemon without any confidence issues. Rubble threw his body at the rocky pokemon, and bounced off ineffectively. I called him back to my side, sending Prime back into battle, taking a devastating hit in the process.

    Prime tore deep gashes down the rocky creature's side. It submissively lashed its tail back and forth, looking for an opening. It never got one. Prime slashed a second time, then a third, this time tearing a gas right through the other pokemon's left eye. I winced. Giovanni's face remained expressionless as he called back the crippled pokemon, tossing a third pokeball into the air. The ball landed, releasing a kangaroo-like creature, and Rubble slid out to meet it. Didn't he ever learn?

    Rubble let out a fierce cry as the other pokemon whipped its tail from side to side. My pokedex buzzed again, but I paid no attention. The other pokemon darted in faster than I thought possible, and brought its pointed teeth down on the very tip of Rubble's tail. The snake screeched in pain. A second bite, chewing through the weak rock on Rubble's tail, prompted a similar reaction.

    Before he could take a third hit, Rubble dove through the floor, crashing into the soft soil below. Prime stepped forward to take his place on the battlefield, sharp teeth digging into her own tail. The other pokemon reeled back, mouth full of flame. Prime leapt towards the ceiling, dislodging chunks of plaster and metal, bringing it down on top of Giovanni's pokemon. He stoicly stepped back to avoid the edge of the slide. Prime clung to a newly exposed girder above, clawing at the roof material. I froze. One misjudged swipe, and...

    It happened. Prime hit the girder she was gripping, shearing it off from the structure. She fell, landing right in the jaws of her waiting foe. She twisted out before the jaws could close all the way, but I saw thin trails of red blood trickle down her side. She darted back, and the ground started to shake.

    I backed up slowly, nearly tripping over Rubble, who had dug back out of the ground a few seconds ago, and promptly recalled him into his pokeball, while keeping Prime's at the ready. A massive slab landed inches from the kangaroo, prompting Giovanni's recall of it. "I'll give you this one," he said, a smile playing across his face. "Looks like he was right about you after all - you're good. You can have this back, I suppose. I don't really need it."

    The ground shook again, and a section of wall to my left collapsed sending up a massive cloud. A small red and white sphere rolled out of the dust. Multi's pokeball. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Who was right about me?"

    A voice floated out of the clearing dust. "Now that would just take all the fun out of it. I'll just say this. Someone close to you has a rather vested interest in helping me. I've made them an offer they can't refuse." A massive girder fell towards his head. "I hope we meet again," he finished, then he was gone, the girder crashing down where he'd stood seconds prior. I recalled Prime, and dove for cover under the desk as the earth continued its assault.

    When the dust finally cleared, I stuck my head out and looked around. The entire room had been destroyed, and a section of the floor above had collapsed. Sticking into the desk directly above my head was a girder. Lucky this thing was thick. I climbed through the hole in the ceiling, making my way back onto the upper floor of the hideout, and from there, quickly up another level, where a slot machine had crashed through the floor. Scrambling up, I found myself on the main floor of the game corner.

    I walked through the doors, exiting onto the main street to find the city in shambles. A pair of bodies lay in the street, and a row of injured was slowly filing into the hospital. Those with less serious wounds were being flown my a team of Fearow all across the region, some to Cerulean, some to Veridian, and some to Fuchsia. Erika, the gym leader, stood in the center of the town square, aided by a Bellossom, applying herbal remedies to a group with varying degrees of cuts and gashes. I stepped in with a group of volunteers, all four of my pokemon to help search for and extricate survivors.

    Darkness fell. I pulled my headlamp and a bagel from my backpack, and kept working.

    Dawn broke. Exhausted as we were, my group had worked its way through the whole city. We'd saved hundreds of people, and failed to save many more. I joined the rest of the city in the open square, and laid down my sleeping bag, recalled my pokemon, except for Rubble, and slept.

    The sun had passed its apex when I woke. Erika was crouched next to me. Beside her was Brock, Pewter's gym leader. "I cannot thank you enough for everything you and your pokemon have done for this city." Erika said. "Each of the hundreds you saved owe their lives to you. What can we do to repay you? Name it, and it will be done."

    I shuffled upwards into a sitting position. "What I truly need is a gym badge from you," I responded. "I know it's not really the best time, but when you have a moment, if we could have a quick battle? As I understand it, the badge must be earned, not given in thanks."

    "Unfortunately, you are correct," Brock interjected. "Erika, you can't be considering this. Not now. There's too much at stake."

    "When did you last speak with Sabrina?" she responded harshly.

    "I don't see what that has to do with..." Brock broke off. "Not...not him!"

    "Yes," Erika said firmly. "Him," she said, as she turned back towards me. "A battle with a gym leader must be earned as well. I will assemble a group against which to test your skill, though I have no doubt of your success. I will be waiting." With that remark, she turned and walked away, Brock following, both leaving me to wonder what was so special about me.

    I turned towards Rubble, who was now stretched out longer than my sleeping bag - he'd done some growing this afternoon. His head lay by my feet. As my eyes focused, I made out something on his head. Oh no. I touched my belt. Multi's pokeball was gone, lying next to Rubble on the ground. My bag was open on the ground beside me. It looked like Multi had taught Rubble a TM, then the pair of them had fallen asleep. I carefully removed the device from Rubble's head, tossed the case for Attract into a nearby garbage, and headed for the Eastern edge of town, where Erika had gone.

    Remembering Mr. Fuji's advice, I had Shadow battle through the entire line of Trainers, although all pokemon involved knew to hold themselves back. Everyone was a friend here now, and it wouldn't be good to injure more pokemon when the city didn't have enough medical supplies even for the people.

    After running the line, Shadow, though raring to go, yielded the lead to Prime, but made it clear he wanted a piece of the action. His personality was starting to turn. Erika smiled slightly. "I won't take it easy on you just because I know you need to win. Hit me with everything you have!"

    Without a gym proper to battle in, Erika had marked a square in the grass on Route 7. The standard rules of the gym battle still applied, but still everyone held back. No sense in causing more harm. Prime stepped into the square as Erika released her first pokemon, a Victreebel. Prime spewed a stready stream of flame at the plant until Erika recalled it, knowing her pokemon had no chance. She tossed a second pokeball, this one releasing what looked like a bundle of vines. According to the pokedex, Tangela was a pure grass type, with several options for healing, but was weaker defensively. Rubble slithered out into the grass to face it.

    Rubble weaved back and forth along the ground in an intricate pattern. The Tangela simply watched stunned. Rubble screeched once, twice, three times, all without having an effect. Tangela watched as if transfixed, ignoring Erika's commands. Rubble struck, lashing his body into the tangle of vines, knocking it back, then striking again before it could recover. I called him off as Erika threw a third pokeball, and recalled her injured pokemon.

    Shadow stepped out to meet the Vileplume, getting in the first strike with his horn. The impact released a cloud of yellow powder from the other pokemon, causing Shadow to sneeze and stiffen. I recognized the powder from Mt. Moon, where it had been used by a wild pokemon. It caused havok with the nervous system, and it was important to deal with quickly, especially in the context of a major battle.

    A spray of purple liquid arched from the center of the Vileplume's body, covering Shadow from head to tail. He absorbed it through his skin and shook it off. It must be a poison type attack. Shadow struck again with his horn rushing right by his opponent, only to face another drenching of acid. He spun and struck again, connecting this time. I saw his muscles tense and release. I called him over to me, and slid a small capsule into his mouth. It was advertised as the counteragent for the neurotoxin used by the other pokemon, but I'd never used it myself. I hoped it worked.

    Shadow stepped back into the arena, taking another faceful of fluid, then charged at the other pokemon. His horn sliced open the edge of the other's arm, and Erika gave a small cry. We called our respective pokemon back, and the battle was over. Shadow sat erect at my side, alert for any trouble, as Erika walked around the ring towards me. "Good fight," she offered, extending her hand to shake mine. "Thank-you for showing restraint."

    "That's always how he fights," came Brock's voice from the side. I hadn't realized he'd come to watch. "At least against me. I'd be surprised if there was ever a situation where he didn't take the opportunity to show mercy."

    "Anyway," continued Erika, "I think he deserves this." She reached into her pocket and brought out an eight-sided badge, colorful around the edges and grey in the middle. "This is the Rainbowbadge. Wear it proudly." She reached forward and pinned it to my lapel. Then, her hand went to her pocket again. "I want you to have this as well," she said. "A symbol of my city's appreciation." She handed me a now-familiar disk. This one was bright green, and taught the grass-type move Giga Drain.

    "Thank-you for your kind gifts," I began, but was interrupted by a crash from the city. The three of us ran back towards the square, hoping nothing had gone wrong.

    When we arrived in the city's square, Oak was there, standing next to the rubble of a collapsed statue. He held a pokeball in his hand, and there were two more on his belt. "Erika," he began. "I came as soon as I heard. What happened?" He noticed me standing next to her. "And Red! I see you've been doing quite well. Do I count four gym badges? How is your pokedex?"

    I handed the machine to him as Erika launched into an explanation. Oak scrolled through the pages of the pokedex thoughtfully, bit I knew he was still paying attention to what Erika had to say. Despite his eccentricities, he was one of the best multitaskers I knew. Eventually, Erika asked to speak to Oak in private. Brock and I obliged.

    I busied myself helping to tend to the wounded as best I could. As I worked my way down a line of cots, one of the men I came to was Daniel. A gash tore its jagged way down the side of his face, and one of his eyes was swollen shut. "Red," he croaked. "Is that you?"

    "Yes, I answered. "It's me. Are you alright? Can I get you anything?"

    "I just wanted to apologize for how I acted last time we spoke. You didn't do anything wrong, that's just a sore subject for me." Daniel closed his eye and laid back. "Don't worry about me. I've been hurt worse before, and I came out of it OK. Just focus on the next gym. You're going to Fuchsia next, right? Saffron's still closed?"

    "Yes, it is," I responded. "Will I see you there?"

    Daniel sighed. "If you're lucky," he said. "If not, here's a piece of advice. Don't underestimate the power of residual damage. Koga, the gym leader in Fuchsia, won't hesitate to poison your pokemon. He's one of the region's most ruthless gym leaders. Be careful."

    I thanked Daniel for his advice, and walked back over towards Oak, who was beckoning me with one hand. "This pokedex is woefully incomplete," he began. "But in light of what Erika's told me about your efforts here, I'm willing to ignore that. Keep on your path, and don't let anyone get in your way." Oak handed me my pokedex back, and I slid it into my pocket.

    "Thank-you," I said. "Have you talked to Blue recently? Last time I talked to him, he wasn't doing well. I think he needs his family right now."

    "I'll keep that in mind," Oak responded. "For now though, I wish you the best of luck on your journey. May you never find yourself in too difficult a situation. And above all, enjoy yourself and the company of your friends. Too many trainers forget that it's the most important part of their journey."

    I thanked Oak, and turned Eastward, soon leaving the wreckage of Cerladon behind me. I had business with Mr. Fuji.


    Prime (Female Charmander)
    [​IMG]
    Level 33
    Gentle nature
    Blaze
    @Charcoal

    Ember
    Flamethrower
    Rock Slide
    Metal Claw

    Lower BP limit: 132
    Food items used: 1

    BP is a non-factor now. The only move she can't use at all is Blast Burn, and in addition, she can't use Overheat outside of a town. Neither of those moves show up for quite some time though, and it should be incredibly easy to get the BP limit up if I ever need it. Didn't see much use this chapter though. When she did get used, she generally OHKO'd everything, not leaving much of a chance to use a drink. Some of the opportunities I had, I managed to forget. Should be a little better next chapter.


    Shadow (Nidorino)
    [​IMG]
    Level 36
    Quirky nature
    Poison Point
    No Item

    Peck
    Double Kick
    Cut (Can't use)
    Water Pulse

    Has just earned the right to evolve, and to use moves other than SE. Should be quite interesting later in the game, although there won't be too much for him to do based on what other pokemon already have to be solo'd.


    Multi (Female Clefairy)
    [​IMG]
    Level 32
    Mild nature
    Cute Charm
    No item

    Pound
    Dig
    Metronome
    Sing

    Did next to nothing this chapter, as she was my worst option in almost every situation. She and Prime got a bit of training by switching in to help Rubble level up, but nothing major.

    Rubble (Male Onix)
    [​IMG]
    Level 35
    Relaxed nature
    Rock Head
    No item

    Tackle
    Screech
    Attract
    Dragonbreath

    He's probably the most difficult 'mon I have as of yet, mostly due to his lack of STAB and general weakness in everything except Defence. I'm looking forward more to soloing the Karate master than the solo I had to do of Erika mostly because those attacks will fall on his monster Defence. Most of the training this chapter went to him.



    Chapter 6: February 12 (PM) (open)


    I made my way steadily East, through the underground path, then back into Lavender. I walked into town just as the sun settled behind the canyon enclosing it, and made my way to Mr. Fuji's house, hoping to have a place to stay overnight.

    When I arrived, I found the door ajar, and knocked loudly, bracing myself for the onrush of pokemon. I was not disappointed. When I managed to pull myself out of the pile, I was invited in, and took a seat on the couch across from Mr. Fuji. "Ah, Red," he greeted me. "How are your pokemon? In good health and high spirits, I presume. It brings joy to my life to know that there are trainers like you in the world. May I see your Nidorino?"

    It struck me that perhaps Mr. Fuji did not get very many visitors. "Everyone's doing very well," I responded, reaching for Shadow's pokeball. "We had an excellent battle with Erika, especially in light of what happened in Cerulean." I thumbed the switch on the front of Shadow's pokeball, releasing him into the room. Instead of remaining by my side as he used to, he immediately darted around, exploring the location. Satisfying himself that Mr. Fuji's house hadn't changed too much, he curled up on Mr. Fuji's feet and began to sleep.

    "What happened in Cerulean?" asked Mr. Fuji, his face radiating concern. I hadn't realized that news of the earthquake hadn't gotten here yet. I relayed what I knew, including my own encounter with Giovanni.

    "Very curious," said Mr. Fuji as I ended my tale. "On the plus side, it does seem as though Shadow has made quite the recovery. I have one more thing I want your help with tomorrow, if you don't mind, but in any case, whenever you pass through town, my house is always open to you."

    I thanked him for his hospitality, and made my way upstairs to the same room I'd slept in a few nights ago. I released my pokemon - except for Rubble, whose weight was starting to be a concern - and they took familiar places around the room. I slid under the covers, shooing Shadow away, and closed my eyes. I was asleep before I knew it.

    I woke in the morning to sun streaming through the window. I yawned, stretched, and padded down the hall to the bathroom. Downstairs, the appetizing aroma of breakfast wafted towards me. Pokemon of all shapes and sizes gathered in the kitchen, hoping for a morsel. I noticed my own pokemon crowding around in the mix, Prime climbing up onto Shadow's head trying to get closer to the frying pan. Mr. Fuji greeted me with a smile.

    "Ready for a big day?" he asked. "I hope you're not too busy to give me a hand in the tower. Some kids broke in the day after you left and vandalized some of the monuments in the upper area. I was hoping you could give me a hand with the last bit of cleanup..."

    "Of course not," I answered. I took a sausage from the cutting board next to the stove and stuck it in my mouth, then took a second and split it between the pile of pokemon that surrounded my feet. "I owe you for helping Shadow. It's the least I could do."

    "Excellent!" exclaimed Mr. Fuji. "You and your friends can have some breakfast, and then we'll be on our way."

    After the best meal I'd had in days, Mr. Fuji, my four companions and I set off for the tower. Once inside, we took the staircase leading upwards, the one I hadn't been allowed up before. The memorials up here were larger and more spread out. I saw several massive statues dedicated to deceased pokemon, one depicting a Bellsprout in battle, another showing an Eevee at play. "These monuments are much more expensive then the ones kept below the town," Mr. Fuji explained. "The higher up we go, the grander the memorials are. At the very top of the tower are pokemon who belonged to Sabrina, Saffron's gym leader."

    We progressed further up the tower, and indeed, the memorials did get larger. On my own, I would have been totally lost on the upper floors, but Mr. Fuji knew the way by heart, and I kept close to him. Once only, we passed a group of mourners, on the fourth or fifth floor. They carried dried flowers, and were dressed all in black. They nodded at Mr. Fuji, who nodded back. No words were spoken.

    We climbed yet another flight of stairs, this one leading to the largest statues yet. Neither Mr. Fuji or I spoke. Fully one half of the room was dedicated to a group of six pokemon. I recognized a Marowak, an Ivysaur and a Drowzee, but the other three were alien to me. The Marowak statue was covered in yellow and red paint, and a chunk of its arm lay in pieces at the base of the statue. Across the room, a hazy cloud floated in front of another staircase.

    "This is what I was talking about," said Mr. Fuji. "I think there's been more damage done on the top floor, but I don't know for sure. The spirits won't let me pass. That's why I asked you to come. You have an excellent bond with your own pokemon. Maybe you can get through to it."

    I shrugged my bag off my shoulder, and walked towards the cloud. As I neared the periphery of the haze, my mind was assaulted by a wave of sorrow so strong I was driven back. I stumbled, then straightened. There had to be some way to get through to the spirit. I drummed my fingers along the pokeballs on my belt, and released Multi and Prime to help Mr. Fuji with his cleanup. Prime got right dow to business, but Multi strolled right into the cloud. I watched as the expression on her face changed from curiosity to shock to fear, then to something else I couldn't place. She walked back out of the haze, and walked towards my bag. Concerned, I followed her, keeping a close eye on her actions. She tugged open the zipper and pulled out item after item. First to come were the vitamins, then the food and drink, and spare pokeballs. Finally, rolling around at the bottom, she pulled out the item I'd taken from Giovanni's desk under the Game Corner. What had he called it? A Silph Scope?

    Multi's face turned back to a look of puzzlement, then she collapsed. I reached out my hands, catching her before she hit the ground. I lay her down carefully, and examined the Silph Scope more closely. It was shaped like a pair of goggles, with many different lenses that could be brought in front of the user's eyes. Just to see, I pulled it on over my head, and looked around.

    Looking through the Silph Scope, the entire room took on a purple tinge. I flicked lenses up and down, but nothing really made a difference. With the final set of lenses, I looked up and gasped. Where the haze in front of the stairs had been, I now saw a Marowak, standing defiantly in front of the steps. I pulled the scope off of my head, and the haze returned. I called Mr. Fuji over. "Take a look at this!" I exclaimed, showing him how to work the Silph Scope, and pointing him in the right direction.

    "Amazing!" cried Mr. Fuji. "Where did you get this device? It looks like one of Silph Co.'s prototypes."

    I explained how I had come to possess the scope. Mr. Fuji nodded as he listened to the story. As I finished recounting, Multi began to stir. I stepped toward her, but Mr. Fuji put his hand on my shoulder. "Wait and see what she'll do," he said. "I expect you'll be quite surprised."

    As I watched, Multi walked towards the Marowak's spirit, and sat a few feet from the edge of the haze. Prime looked up from where she sat, wondering what her friend was up to.

    Multi began to sing. Often, her song had the effect of putting a pokemon to sleep, but here it had a different effect. Mr. Fuji still had the Silph Scope in his hand, but I began to see with more clarity the outline of the spirit pokemon. As the three of us watched transfixed, Multi walked right up to the spirit and took its hand. Together, still singing, the two of them walked back towards the memorial, where Mr. Fuji had begun to remove the paint, and Prime had started to repair the sculpture. She released the Marowak's hand, and the spirit flowed into the statue. The way was clear.

    "Amazing!" cried Mr. Fuji from next to me. "In all my time working with pokemon and spirits, I've never seen a display such as that! Empathy like that doesn't come naturally to pokemon, it has to be fostered by their trainer. You're something special, kid! Go upstairs and take a look at what it was protecting us from. I'm almost finished here."

    I walked up the newly opened steps, Multi and Prime by my side. As I crested the stairs, I saw more vandalized sculptures, these ones with red letter 'R's painted onto them. Not Team Rocket again.

    Sitting at a table in the center of the room were three men in black, and Giovanni, the man in the suit. He faced me, the others had their backs turned. I stepped into the room, exposing myself, but also trapping them. I thumbed the release on a third pokeball, releasing Shadow into the room. He and Prime stood at the top of the stairs, while Multi stepped forward at my side. Giovanni turned his head and saw me. "You are persistent, aren't you? You'd be an excellent addition to Team Rocket. It doesn't matter though. We can't afford to let you leave here alive." As he finished talking, the men at the table stood. The first of them tossed a pokeball, and Multi stepped forward to meet the challenge.

    The second man laughed, and tossed his own pokeball out. Prime stepped forward to take the attack, then struck back with a poweful blast of flames. A third pokemon appeared, but one opponent had already fallen. Shadow held back, not because he didn't want to fight, but because he knew it was more important to make sure that no-one else escaped. I ignored the battle and walked towards Giovanni, with my fourth pokeball in hand.

    Giovanni smiled as I stepped towards him. "I really would love to stay and chat with you more, but I have places to be. Count yourself lucky I don't have time to deal with you properly now." I released Rubble, and the two of us rushed towards him, but he stepped onto a teleporter and vanished. Seconds later, a cloud of smoke erupted from the pad. It wasn't taking anyone else anywhere for quite some time. I turned around, to find the battle almost over. Prime had cornered a Zubat with a singed wing, and Multi had already retreated back next to Shadow. I pulled out my phone and dialed the police.

    Leaving the Team Rocket members in the care of my pokemon, I traveled back down the stairs to where Mr. Fuji was waiting. I told him what had happened, and that I'd already called the police to deal with the criminals. He was glad that I'd managed to prevent any more vandalism, but was shocked to learn that Team Rocket had managed to find a way into the tower. He brought the police up go speak with me, and left, making the request that I visit him one more time before I left town. I agreed.

    I dealt with the police, although they seemed to dismiss much of what I had to say. I didn't blame them. Most people my age weren't a very reliable source of information. I turned the three men over to the police, and made my slow way out of the tower. I got lost more than once. When I finally emerged into the midday sun, I stopped at Mr. Fuji's house one last time, before I continued my journey South.

    "Red, wonderful, come in, come in," was Mr. Fuji's response to my arrival. "I hope I'm not inconveniencing you, but I have a few gifts for you, as thanks for your help." Mr. Fuji handed me a bubbly grey stone and a pokeball.

    "That stone is a Moon Stone. It can be used to make some species of pokemon evolve. In particular, it can be used on Nidorino and Clefairy. Use it well." I stored the stone in my backpack, and hefted the pokeball. I thumbed the release, and a pokemon appeared in front of me. It was mostly enclosed by a purple shell - all I could see inside was a pair of large eyes. "This is Bromine," continued Mr. Fuji. "She was abused by her previous trainer, and was eventually abandoned in town here. All she really needs is a trainer to work with her and develop her strengths. I know you have it in you."

    I recalled Bromine, and clipped the pokeball to my belt. "I'll do my best," I promised Mr. Fuji. I had no intention of letting any pokemon suffer if there was something I could do about it. "Thanks for your hospitality, and for your gifts. I'll be sure to put them to good use. I really should be going though, I have four more gym badges to get before the deadline, and no idea how I'm going to get two of them."

    "I'm sure you'll find a way," Mr. Fuji reassured me. "Good Luck!"

    I walked quickly out of town and onto Silence Bridge, leaving Lavender Town behind me. Time to get going.

    I traveled South, eventually reaching the turn to Vermilion City. I didn't take the turn. I wanted to thank Surge, but I just didn't have time. Besides, things like that have a habit of working out eventually. Snorlax was gone, perhaps someone had managed to wake it up, or perhaps it had just rolled into the ocean and floated away. I didn't care, as long as I had a way to continue to Fuchsia.

    As I continued down the bridge, I passed a small village framed by the afternoon sun. A collection of small cottages lay on a narrow strip of land, many of the inhabitants spending their time fishing. As I passed, I saw one pull in a Magikarp, and a child chased after a school of Goldeen with a net. From here, I could see where Route 12 turned inland off Silence Bridge, so I didn't stop to chat. I wanted to get as far as I could today. Several miles inland, as the sun was finally setting, I reached the edge of Fuchsia Park, dedicated to preserving the ruins within. Several park rangers were congregated at the gate. I spoke to one, and was assigned a campsite without difficulty. I paid, and headed into the park to pitch my tent.

    I had been warned not to let my pokemon loose, as many dangerous wild pokemon lived in the park, and I would be responsible for any damage my own pokemon caused. I decided not to take any chances. I released everyone but Rubble once I was inside the tent - he was bigger now than the tent could hold - and turned in for the night. I listened to the sounds of nature around me as I fell asleep. The river trickling over the rocks to the North, the wind gently rustling the leaves of the trees...

    I woke early the next morning to a flock of Pidgey singing in the trees. I stuck my head out the front flap of the tent as the birds took to the air, flying out towards the ocean to the South. I rounded up my pokemon and collapsed the tent in short order. I hoped to make it to Fuchsia today and challenge the gym.

    I vacated my campsite, heading through the park. I passed several birdwatchers, and a group from Fuchsia on a nature walk, before emerging on the park's South side and mounting my bike - all types of vehicles were prohibited inside. I followed the road down the coast, passing another group of birdwatchers, then rounding the corner at Kanto's Southeastern tip. I biked down the home stretch, passing Fuchsia's annual auto show on my right, and another group of seaside cottages on my left. I reached Fuchsia's Eastern gatehouse just after 1:00. As I dismounted and walked into town, my phone buzzed violently in my pocket.

    "Hello?"

    "Red, so glad I caught you." It was Daniel. "I'm fine, recovering quite well, but they won't let me leave yet. Are you in Fuchsia?"

    I told him I was, but I'd just got into town. "Did you have any advice for me before I challenged the gym?"

    "Right, that. Umm, Koga's the leader of Fuchsia's gym, he uses mostly poison types. Careful, some of them tend to explode. If you're not careful, you'll be walking out a few pokemon fewer than you walked in with. Be careful. In other news, I think I've got a way for you to get into Saffron. Can you get in touch with Oak if I need you to?"

    "Yeah, that shouldn't be a problem. You might be able to talk to him yourself, he was in Celadon a day or two ago."

    "No, I don't think I can do that," Daniel countered. "Oak and I don't have the best relationship, remember? We aren't exactly on speaking terms."

    "I guess that's right," I agreed. "Let me know what you need, and I'll make sure it gets done. I need to get into Saffron."

    "I'll do that. Good luck!"

    "Thanks. I'll do my best. Bye." I hung up the phone, and checked my messages. Two voicemail from Daniel, and nothing else. I assumed the messages were just asking me to get in touch with him, and dismissed the notifications If I needed to hear the messages later, I could. For now, I moved determinedly through the town, towards the gym.

    On the Western edge of town, I stopped in front of the city's zoo, the only one in Kanto. I had been once, when I was fifteen; Oak had invited me to come along on a trip to speak with some scientist who lived in the area, and he had offered me the chance to visit the zoo while he conducted his business. It was one of many things in life that was exciting the first time, but didn't seem like it would be much more entertaining two years later. However, the gym was inside the zoo, so I had to enter. I paid the entry fee and walked in.

    One of the maps being handed out at the entrance told me all I needed to know. The gym was located in the far corner of the zoo. I'd have to manoeuvre through most of the exhibits before I challenged Koga. It wasn't that I wasn't interested in the pokemon on display, I'd just seen it all before. My pokedex had most of the information in it anyway.

    On my way to the gym, I passed by the zoo's administrative office. A billboard displayed several of the workshops the zoo was holding that week. Against my better judgement, I stopped to take a look. Some of this might be interesting.

    Nature walk! Journey with a group of Kangaskhan through their native environment! 12:30 every weekday! I'd missed it already for today, and I wasn't planning on being in town tomorrow. Speak to the Mankey keeper! Lecture on the feeding and mating habits of wild Mankey, followed by Q&A session! Satruday @ 4:00! Wouldn't be here. Most of the other announcements on the board were in a similar vein, but one caught my eye. It wasn't for a zoo activity, but a pokemon tournament. Today only! Elimination Pokemon tournament to celebrate the grand opening of the fossil pokemon exhibit! 1:30 in front of the gym! Don't be late! Reward! I checked my phone. 1:15. I'd better hurry.

    I arrived at the gym with only a few moments to spare. I registered my team, and sat down to catch my breath. As I sat, I took a look at the gym. A board to the left of the entrance proclaimed the names of winning trainers to the world. There were maybe a half-dozen names on the list, but I noticed with satisfaction that Blue's wasn't one of them. Of course, that didn't mean I was ahead of him. Ignoring the board, I walked through the door and into the cavernous confines of Fuchsia's gym, where the tournament was to be held.

    The gym was a vast expanse, bigger than any of the others I'd seen before. The ground was hard-packed dirt, surrounded by a moat of clear water. Streams of illuminated water fell from the ceiling landing on the moat. It didn't look like a poison-themed gym.

    "Welcome!" boomed a voice from the speaker next to me, jolting me out of my reprieve. "For those of you who don't know me, I'm Koga, Fuchisa's gym leader. It gives me great honour to host this tournament in honor of the opening of the latest exhibit in our zoo, the city's crowning achievement!" Koga was dressed in all black. A hood lay settled on his shoulders, and a blood-red cape flowed down his back, stopping a foot short of the ground. He stood on a raised platform at the back of the gym.

    "Next to me," Koga continued, "are the current standings for this tournament. We have one late registrant, bringing the total number of participants to six. Play will be round-robin, with the two best trainers facing each other again in the final battle for this, the reward!" Koga held a small case up in the air. From where I stood, all I could see was a flash of blue. "Surf! One of the most powerful water-type techniques available! In addition, the winning Trainer will have won the right to challenge me...if they can find me. Without further ado, Trainers take your places, and begin!" Projected next to Koga, on the falling wall of water, was a list detailing the battles between each Trainer, as well as their record. Right now, everyone was 0-0. That was about to change. I stepped forward to the left half of the gym, and faced my first opponent.

    I shrugged my bag off, and set it aside. I also released the two pokemon I would be using in this battle. Shadow stayed at my side, and Rubble slid forward in the dirt, ready to meet his first challenge. Rubble led by charging into the other pokemon, a Drowzee, who took the attack stoically. Rubble let out a screech of defiance, lifting his massive head six feet off the ground, then collapsing as the other pokemon let off a powerful psychic blast in his direction. When the attack ceased, Rubble cried again, shaking the gym to its foundations. Shadow dove into my bag. I heard rustling behind me, but I didn't look. A purple cloud erupted from an unseen pore on the other pokemon, enveloping Rubble. He came charging out of the cloud, meeting the yellow and brown pokemon in a head-on collision. Both were knocked back, but Rubble recovered first, and flicked his tail into the other pokemon, sending it flying. My opponent recalled it before it could land.

    I turned. Shadow had dug the moon stone I'd been given by Mr. Fuji out of my bag, and was playing with it. As I watched, he touched his nose to it, and was enveloped in a flash of white light. I lifted my hand to shield my eyes. When the light faded, Shadow lifted himself up onto his hind legs, standing erect for the first time. He was as tall as I now, and more armour plating had grown around his joints and onto his tail. He gave a decisive snort and stepped forward onto the battlefield.

    I called Rubble back to my side, and just watched as Shadow faced his first opponent as a Nidoking. He plunged into the water at the side of the gym, erupting behind his opponent, a powerful blast of water spewing from his mouth. The Kadabra he faced was powerless to stop it. He pushed the other pokemon back until it brought a psychic barrier to bear, stemming the flow of water across the field. Shadow redoubled his efforts, sending a new stream of water crashing effortlessly through the psychic block, then another, driving the yellow pokemon to its knees. Shadow had won the fight without a scratch.

    "Good fight," my opponent called to me as he recalled his pokemon. "And good luck!"

    I returned the sentiment, and looked up at the board. Other battles were still going on, so I had some time to kill. I made lunch, but it wasn't much more than a slice or two of buttered bread. I'd used up all my meat and cheese the night before. I should buy more after I beat Koga, I thought. A bell rang, signalling the end of the first round. Updated records were displayed on the board, as well as new matchups. I blew through the next five matches just as easily, landing myself decisively in the championship spot. Shadow led for my team against his Sandslash, easily blasting through the weaker pokemon with water-based attacks. Sandslash just flailed around uselessly, tossing dirt into the air.

    Rubble slithered out against Arbok, the two snakes facing off against each other. Rubble lifted his head and cried out, sending a rumble through the building, and the other snake retaliated by lashing at Rubble with its tail. Rubble cried again, then was fixed by a strong glare from the other pokemon. Cowed, Rubble backed down, leaving Multi to clean up. She took a hit from the snake's tail as she advanced, then dove into the ground just shy of its teeth. She burrowed up from underneath, hitting with everything she had, launching the massive snake into the air. It landed stuck in the rafters. Victory. I congratulated my opponent, and looked up at the board. A perfect record. Koga walked towards me.

    "Congratulations to Red, our champion!" he cried as he met me. He handed me a pair of disks. One was the blue one with Surf, the other, a dull grey. It contained Strength. "Congratulations," he muttered to me. "Here's Surf, as promised, and here's a second gift, from me, as a congratulations for going undefeated. We run one of these tournaments about every year and a half, and no-one has ever done what you just did. Congratulations." Koga grabbed my arm by the wrist and raised it high into the air. "Give me a half-hour to set up the gym, and come back. You can challenge me then. No-one will stand in your way."

    I thanked Koga, and walked out of the gym, examining my prizes. I taught Surf to Bromine, and Strength to Rubble. After some consideration, I also used the latter machine on Multi. I didn't expect to need her much in this gym. Surprisingly, although the Dig TM used previously had had a deadly effect on Multi, the HM left her as she normally was. Curious. As the sun began to creep down towards the city's skyline, I returned to the gym, and walked right in the doors.

    Immediately, I was struck by how different the gym was. It was dimly lit, and what had been water a half-hour ago was now thick, oozing sludge. Instead of being open, the gym was covered in a maze of mirrors extending from the ceiling. A thick purple haze covered the ground, and a thinner cloud hovered throughout the room, obscuring my vision. A single floor tile glowed. I stepped on it, triggering a screen to light in front of my face.

    "Welcome, Red, to the Fuchsia gym." Koga's face appeared on the screen. " If you can find me, you can fight me. Don't take all day." The screen and the floor tile dimmed. I pulled my headlamp from my bag, and, holding it in my hand, stepped cautiously into the maze.

    I lost track of time and all sense of direction as I made my steady way through the maze. Eventually, I found Koga sitting meditative on a small mat in the center of the floor, his eyes closed. As I approached, he stood. "Took you long enough," he said, stepping towards a pedestal to the left of his mat. At a touch, the mirrors shimmered, separated into sections, and rolled up into the ceiling, leaving an open battlefield.

    We took our spots, I in one small square, and he in the other. I released Rubble from his pokeball, and he slithered into the center of the field, alert for any foe. A small purple orb floated down from the sky, belching toxic gases into the air. Rubble screamed, sending waves of sound rebounding through the entire room, trying to get a sense of location through the haze. He tried again and again to get his bearings in the thick smog, then a lump of sludge sailed through the air landing square on his head. He shook and reeled, dislodging the projectile before it could start eating though his exoskeleton, and screeched again in disgust. He dealt with two more toxic projectiles before I called him back and sent Shadow charging into battle. He tore through the smog as he advanced, batting the orb to the ground with a single powerful swipe.

    Rubble slid out again as a purple mass hauled itself out of the moat. It dropped chunks of material everywhere as it moved into battle. By the time it reached Rubble, it was half the size it had been, and its outer layer was starting to solidify. Rubble reared, stretching high above, but the other pokemon wasn't intimidated. Rubble crashed down on top, but the other pokemon simply flowed apart and stuck itself back together behind Rubble. I called him back and sent out Multi, who dove underground, throwing herself up and into the pile. She drove right through, sending chunks of purple goo flying in every direction, but was covered herself. She landed a little shaky on her feet, and I called her back, sending Shadow out instead.

    Shadow and the other pokemon (Muk, according to the pokedex), traded blows for a while, neither really having much of an effect on the other. Shadow missed the other pokemon as often as he made contact, absorbing moisture from the sludge around the room and sending streams spraying across the battlefield. Whenever it seemed that Shadow finally had the upper hand, Muk would limp back towards the moat and drop in, coming out fully refreshed. Finally, the streams of water and goo stemmed. Neither pokemon had the strength to continue that line of attack, but I needed Shadow for the rest of the battle - his strength was too valuable, and I didn't know what other pokemon Koga had waiting for me. I called him back, and Rubble eagerly took his place.

    Rubble stayed alert, ensuring Muk couldn't concentrate enough on any one part of his massive body to do real damage, but still wasn't able to land a scratch on the other pokemon. He connected once, with a jet of blue flames from deep in his belly, but the other pokemon just shook it off. Eventually he started to tire too, and I decided to do my last-ditch effort. I called Rubble back, and let Prime stride confidently into battle. A lucky hit by a piece of toxic sludge nailed her as she stepped into the ring. She staggered, and her cheeks seemed to take on a purple tinge, though I couldn't be sure through the haze. Everything looked purple.

    She tried unsuccessfully to connect with her first few attacks, and I called her back towards me. She was definitely tinged purple. I gave her what treatment I could, and she managed to get in two hits in rapid succession before staggering again. With few options remaining, Prime created a ring of fire, steadily closing it in on the other pokemon, struggling to keep her head up and the flames under control. She sank slowly to the ground as the ring of flames grew smaller and smaller in a deadly race. Finally, as Prime was about to give up, Koga recalled his distressed pokemon, and I seized the opportunity to bring Prime back as well.

    Rubble slithered into the ring as a second orb floated down from the ceiling, spewing gas and sludge in all directions. Rubble reared up, and as the orb passed by his head, it suddenly exploded. I stepped back in shock, careful to stay in my box, and Rubble teetered, looming close to the ground. Then he straightened, and curled around. The rock on the left side of his face had turned molten, and had run down, sealing his eye shut. I applied what little medicine I had left to his wounds, and sent him back out as Koga reached for a single pokeball he had left lying beside him.

    Appearing in a flash of red light, a strange looking pokemon hovered over the battlefield. My pokedex identified it as a Weezing, the evolved form of the small orb that had exploded in Rubble's face moments ago. Rubble reared, trying his intimidation tactic again, but being careful to shield his injured side. The other pokemon moved faster than it looked, whizzing around at a decent pace, leaving trails of smog behind it, and picking at already injured parts on Rubble's body. Finally, I decided that enough was enough, and called on Shadow to finish it the way it had begun.

    Shadow leapt into battle, scraping deep rents down the side of one of the growths on the other pokemon. A cloud of thick green smoke escaped one of the cracks. Shadow struck again, this time grabbing onto the other pokemon, and finally sending it skidding along the ground back towards Koga, coming to a rest at his feet. The lights went up in the gym, and a group of fans on the ceiling activated, clearing the haze from the battlefield. It was over. My team had pulled through for me again.

    Without me noticing, Koga appeared beside me. "Good fight," he said, with a smile, clasping his hand over my shoulder. You're stronger than I expected."

    "You had me worried for a moment," I admitted. "When your Muk wouldn't go down. I thought I'd never make it out of that - and we almost didn't."

    "That was a clever play with your Charmander," he agreed. "I know I've already showered you with gifts today, but this is what I give to anyone who challenges my gym successfully. Take it. You've definitely earned it." He handed me a purple disk in a case, containing the move Toxic, and a purple badge in the shape of a heart. "Congratulations, really. You have a very good chance of making it to the Pokemon League, as long as you keep moving. Only the first thirty-two challengers to make it to Indigo Plateau get to compete. I know there's at least one there already. Good luck on the rest of your journey, and may our paths cross again."

    I thanked Koga for his kind words, and stepped out of the gym. My name had already been added to the list of winning trainers outside. I pitched my tent on the East edge of the city, and settled in for the night. It had been a long day.

    My phone woke me the next morning. That's odd, I thought. I don't remember setting the alarm. I reached over to turn it off.

    "Hello?" came the voice through the line. "Red? Are you there?"

    Oh. Daniel had called me while I was sleeping. That was it. "Yep, I'm here, just a little groggy," I responded. "What's going on?"

    "I found out what's going on in Saffron," Daniel replied. "Team Rocket has the whole place in lockdown - no-one can go in or out. It's perfectly safe inside the city, as far as we know, but there's no way in. And you need in to challenge the gym. I think I've found a way in, but it'll still be tricky to do."

    "I don't mind tricky," I said. "What's the plan?"

    "Have you ever seen the power plant on Route 10?" Daniel asked. "Before it switched to higher-capacity overhead lines, all its power moved through underground cables. There's an old network of service tunnels that wind throughout the region. One of them should let you out in Saffron. I don't know which one though. You'll need to get some help from the plant staff, and they're not known for being friendly."

    I thought about that for a moment. Now I understood why I might need to ask Oak a favor. Around Kanto, he had more clout than most politicians. "I don't think getting cooperation will be too much of an issue," I said confidently.

    "Excellent," Daniel said. "I probably won't be able to get into the city, so I'll just head for your next gym. Cinnabar, right?"

    "Yes," I confirmed. "I'll call you when I get into the city, maybe you'll have some last minute advice?"

    "Of course. That's why I'm here. Good luck getting in."

    "Thanks. Bye!"

    "Bye." I ended the call, put my phone away, and set about packing everything up. I had a long day ahead of me. I collapsed the tent and stowed it in my bag, mounted my bike, and began the long journey North to the power plant.

    The ride was pretty uneventful. I made the turn towards Vermillion, and took the underground path up to Cerulean, then made the same trek East through the canyon to the North end of Rock Tunnel that I had before. I wasn't challenged by any Trainers this time. Amazing what a few gym badges will do.

    Largely due to the lack of battles, my journey was fast and relatively uneventful. I pulled onto Route 10 just as the sun was setting. I rented a room at the same Bed and Breakfast I'd stayed at last time I was in the area, and gave Oak a call before going to bed.

    "Hello?"

    "Hi Oak, it's Red. I have a favor to ask you."

    I explained the situation, and Daniel's plan, careful not to mention his name. Then I told Oak what I needed from him, just to ensure I got a chance to get in. If things didn't pan out, I would have to try something else. "That shouldn't be a problem," Oak responded. "I'll do that first thing in the morning. Good luck at Saffron's gym!"

    We said our goodbyes, and the call ended. I released my pokemon, except Rubble - his size was really starting to be a problem - and they all took up spots around the room. Bromine settled into a cool corner, while Prime lay next to the heater. Multi lay down along the wide windowsill, and Shadow curled up at the foot of the bed. I crawled under the covers, and closed my eyes.

    After a restless night, I woke early the next morning and recalled my pokemon, then showered and headed downstairs for an early breakfast. My phone chimed briefly, but I ignored it. I then set out for the gates of the power plant to the South.

    I stopped at the gates and hit the intercom to talk to plant security. "I'm a friend of Professor Oak, here to speak to the plant supervisor," I said when asked my business.

    "One moment please," came the response. Silence. I waited five minutes, then ten. I jumped when the voice on the other end of the intercom came back. "A guard will be along to escort you momentarily. Please be patient."

    I managed to make it to the plant's manager without further incident. I appreciated the need for security when dealing with nuclear material, but I was in a hurry. Oak's call that morning to the plant manager sped things up significantly. I was given a map, a warning that wild pokemon lived in the tunnels, and shown the access hatch. I think they were just glad to get rid of me.

    I pulled out my headlamp - best purchase ever made - and sent a beam of light stabbing through the darkness in the tunnel. Orienting my map, I struck out through the darkness. The few times I did encounter a wild pokemon, one of my team was easily able to deal with it.

    Some time later I reached what I thought was the hatch to Saffron. Stuffing the map into my pocket, I grabbed the ladder and began to climb. I reached the top, and braced myself against the ladder to turn the handle. It was stuck. I hauled on it with all my strength, nearly toppling from my precarious perch, and managed to move the handle a quarter inch before it stopped. I looked up, slid the lock open, and turned. The handle turned easily.

    I eased the hatch open, trying to stay as quiet as possible. It caught just over 90 degrees, staying open without falling to the ground. I kept one hand on it, and stuck my head out to look around. I was in an old electrical room of some sort. There was a small transformer in the corner, and a fuse box on the wall in front of me, next to the door. I lifted myself out of the tunnel and closed the hatch, then stuck my head out the door. I found myself face to face with a much larger transformer, which now played host to the overhead lines. I hopped the fence surrounding the complex, and walked into the city proper. No-one stopped me.

    The sun still high in the sky, I walked through the streets of Saffron. The city, the largest in the region, was almost deserted, a few people scurrying from building to building, as if afraid. I didn't blame them. Emulating the locals, I stuck to the shadows as much as I could. I passed by Silph Co.'s headquarters on my left, dwarfing even the other skyscrapers around it. It was easily the tallest building I'd ever seen. Looking for the gym, I eventually found two, one featuring an official Pokemon League sign, proclaiming the winners, and the other featuring a black and white sign, with a few letters missing. I could still make out the name though. Fighting Dojo. It was one of the few public buildings that was still open, so I ducked inside to take a look.

    I kicked off my shoes at the door, leaving them next to everyone else's. The inside of the building wasn't much better than the outside, with chunks of plaster missing from the walls, only partially covered by tapestries with lines of indecipherable characters on them.

    I took a seat in the viewing gallery, and watched for a while. A group of pokemon were training on one side of the dojo, under the supervision of a man in a white uniform and brown belt. On the other side, people wearing various belt colors were going through similar exercises under the supervision of a group of black belts. When the class had ended, I approached one of the black belts. "Excuse me? Who's in charge here? I'd like to speak to them." If there was one thing I'd learned from Oak during our families' friendship, it was that the best way to get results was to go right to the top.

    "That would be Master Koichi. He's the tall one with black hair in the corner."

    I thanked the man, and walked over towards Koichi. "Sorry, I was told you were in charge here?"

    He turned towards me. I was by no means short, just a couple inches shy of six feet, but Koichi still seemed to tower over me. "You were told correctly. May I help you? Do you wish to join my Dojo?"

    "Actually," I said, "I need help with something else. I'm taking the Pokemon League challenge, and was hoping to challenge Sabrina. Is there any chance you could help me get Team Rocket out of the way? Any helpful information even?"

    "Yes, I know a fair bit about how to deal with Team Rocket, but I do not share information for nothing. You must prove that you are worthy of it." Koichi pulled a pair of pokeballs from inside his uniform. "Choose a single one of your pokemon."
    Not hard. Fighting was a physical type, and Rubble's strength was through the roof. He'd demonstrated his new Strength technique - from the HM - in the tunnels under Saffron, and I could tell he wanted to try it out in a real battle. I pulled his pokeball from my belt and thumbed the switch. Rubble appeared beside us, coiling back and forth in a figure-8. "Let's go," I challenged.

    Koichi called for the area to be cleared, and sent out his first pokemon, a Hitmonlee. Rubble lifted his massive head, using his usual intimidation technique, waiting for an opening. Suddenly, he saw one, and struck faster than lightning, incapacitating the other pokemon in a show of brute strength.

    Koichi recalled his pokemon and sent out another. Where Hitmonlee had had strong legs, this pokemon's were spindly, but its arms moved like lightning, landing punch after punch on Rubble as he waited for his opening. Suddenly he collapsed on the other pokemon, pinning it to the floor. Koichi nodded and recalled the pokemon. "I accept defeat," he called across the mat. "A good battle."

    I recalled Rubble. "You said you had information for me?"

    "Yes, I did," Koichi replied. "I don't know how much it will help, but I do know this. Ever since the earthquake in Cerulean, Team Rocket's big boss has been hiding out in Silph Co.'s HQ. He's the only thing holding things together here, if he gets kicked out of here somehow, the rest of Team Rocket ought to leave quietly. They always have before."

    "Ok then," I responded. "I guess I have to get into the Silph Co. building then. Any ideas?"

    "Sorry, none. You're on your own. Do you have a place to stay overnight?" Koichi asked. "I would gladly lend a room to the man who could defeat my pokemon in a fair fight."

    "Thanks, I'd be glad of that." One less thing to worry about. I could deal with Silph and Team Rocket in the morning. I followed Koichi home. He insisted I take the bed, I insisted I take his couch. When it came down to threatening to sleep on his floor instead of his bed, he relented, and I shrugged my bag off my shoulder. It hit the ground with a loud clang. I turned to see the source of the noise. I didn't carry anything in my bag that could make a noise like that.

    Laying on the ground, still magnetized to the clips on the back of my bag, was a Magnemite. It must have latched on to me at some point in the tunnels, and I'd never noticed it. Drawing a pokeball gently out of the bag, I thumbed the switch, drawing the little pokemon into the capsule. And then there were six. Six was the legal limit for pokemon carried at any time. Generally, trainers carried fewer because they didn't want to get into trouble for catching pokemon and having a seventh or even eighth. I didn't care that much for catching pokemon, so I wasn't concerned. Anyway. I was going up against an office building full of Team Rocket. I would need all the help I could get.

    Storing my belongings safely away, I crawled onto the couch and pulled a blanket over me. I drifted off to sleep nervously, wary of the danger that was to come.


    Prime (Female Charmeleon)
    [​IMG]
    Level 39
    Gentle nature
    Blaze
    @Charcoal

    Slash
    Flamethrower
    Rock Slide
    Metal Claw

    Lower BP limit: 145
    Food items used: 11

    BP still a non-factor. It's only going to get easier from here on out. Evolution was a welcome boost this chapter, as was the addition of Slash over Ember as a stronger and more versatile move. Was my salvation against Koga's Muk, with Flamethrower as a powerful, STAB, item boosted (and occasionally Blaze-boosted) move, allowing me to score the KO against that monster.


    Shadow (Nidoking)
    [​IMG]
    Level 40
    Quirky nature
    Poison Point
    No Item

    Peck
    Double Kick
    Cut
    Water Pulse

    Evolved this chapter right at the start, before battle with Koga. The ability to use non-SE moves was a godsend here, as it allowed me to make use of his incredible bulk in all stats, as well as his decent resistance. Movepool is a little light, but it will change in time.


    Multi (Female Clefairy)
    [​IMG]
    Level 37
    Mild nature
    Cute Charm
    No item

    Strength
    Dig
    Metronome
    Sing

    The addition of Strength this chapter gave her a reliable STAB option that at least doubles Pound's feeble BP. I don't miss the PP, as it's often the difference between a OHKO and a 2-3HKO, depending on what other moves I use (mostly what Metronome pulls).

    Rubble (Male Onix)
    [​IMG]
    Level 40
    Relaxed nature
    Rock Head
    No item

    Strength
    Screech
    Attract
    Dragonbreath

    Amazing in every way. I never thought I could love a wall this much. Kills everything that uses physical attacks - gen III's move types make this a lot easier to judge. Just Screech down to -6 and take everything out. Went into the battle with Koga paralysed, which was amazing - it allowed me to use his resistance to everything very effectively, without danger of Toxic. When Iron Tail comes along, I will replace Attract, and Dragonbreath's pretty much dead weight at this point. I'm only using two slots anyway. Iron Tail may replace Strength as the move for dealing damage on occasion, as it has a high BP as well as a different typing to take advantage of different type advantages. Solo of the Karate master was laughably easy, as he soaked up SE moves on both sides of the spectrum with ease, and retaliated very effectively. This chapter's MVP for sure.

    Bromine (Female Shellder)
    [​IMG]
    Level 35
    Jolly nature
    Shell Armor
    No item

    Protect
    Surf
    Supersonic
    Aurora Beam

    Surf gives her a powerful STAB option in situations that require it. She's still not quite at the level of the rest of the team, but she sees some use in Trainer battles. Should be useful against Team Rocket in the upcoming battles. She has to lead against Giovanni in Silph Co., and depending on how well she does, I may have her try to solo. I won't be evolving until after Level 50, where she learns Ice Beam naturally, as I don't want to have to buy the TM.

    Battery (Magnemite)
    [​IMG]
    Naughty nature
    Magnet Pull
    No item

    Thundershock
    Supersonic
    Sonicboom
    Thunder Wave

    BP limit: 50

    Will be soloing some swimmers once I get (him?) to a high enough level. Will also be soloing Sabrina, as all E4 members are at least partially taken. Thunderbolt TM from the Game Corner will replace Thundershock (Spark in short term), and Sonicboom will probably be kept just as a fail-safe, but I may use Return instead later on. Thunder Wave will probably stay, and I'm going to try and get him to L44 and a Magneton before the solo to learn Tri-Attack, but if not, I'll go for Swift (L38, Magnemite). Should be entertaining, at the very least.



    Chapter 7 Part 1: I'm not sure anymore.... (open)

    I woke the next morning feeling refreshed and prepared. I grabbed my belt of pokeballs, newly complete with Battery, my sixth teammate, and wrapped it around my waist. I slung my backpack over my shoulder and stepped into the kitchen. Koichi had already made breakfast, and offered some to me. I gladly accepted, taking a seat across from him at the table.

    "So," Koichi began. "How do you propose we get into Silph Co?"

    "I really have no idea," I responded. I was hoping that someone here would know. I only saw the one entrance when I entered the city, but there's got to be another way in."

    "There is," Koichi allowed, "but it's not useful to us. All the other doors are locked from the inside. We'd need to get inside before we took could open them, and that would...." Koichi trailed off. "Stay here," he told me. "I'll be back soon."

    Without another word, Koichi ran to the door, pulled on his shoes, and was gone before I could blink. Well, I thought, nothing to do now but wait.

    I was still waiting for him to return two hours later. I spent some time reading an ebook on my phone -- or trying to. I gave up after a couple pages, sick of only being able to fit fifty words onto the screen at a time. After that, I just popped in earbuds and leaned back on the couch. It felt good to spend some time relaxing, especially after two weeks of dashing around. After about another half hour, Koichi walked back through the door, another man in tow. He was tall, and looked almost uncomfortable in his manner, as though he wasn't quite certain what he should be doing.

    "This is Harold, a student of mine," Koichi began. The man -- Harold -- waved a hello, and I responded in kind. "He works at Silph -- or he did before the company went...well, you know what I mean." I had to agree with that. "Anyway, he's got another way into Silph. If we can get enough power into the building, we might be able to kick Team Rocket out."

    "I think that goes without saying," Harold began. "What we can do, if I can get into Silph, I can get to the spare keys and open the back door, in the stairwell. That should let us get as many people in as we need."

    "Great," I agreed. "Let's call the police and let them deal with it. I'll need to get moving if I have any hope of getting into the league championship this season."

    "That's a great idea," agreed Kiochi. "But, the police here are in Giovanni's pocket. That's the reason the roads are blocked, and the reason that Team Rocket has been able to take control so publicly."

    "And there's no way to get in police from outside, without alerting the guards," continued Harold. "I don't know how you got in, but I'm sure we won't be able to get enough into make a difference. What we could do, though, is use the building's staff. I don't know if you've noticed, but the PC system in town's been locked down. If we can get those back online, the staff who are trapped inside can help to push Giovanni's men out." Seemingly out of breath, he stopped talking with a long breath in, but continued talking before the silence stretched to uncomfortable length. "I'll let the two of you in. From there, we can look for the broken conduit. Besides everything else it does, all of the city's lines pass through the switchboard at Silph. It's a throwback to our days as a phone company." Another long breath in.

    I looked out the window. The sun was still high in the sky. "Let's do it," Koichi interrupted my thoughts. "Get us in, and we'll do whatever we can to help."

    The three of us gathered our meager supplies -- I clipped my six pokeballs to my belt, having set them on the table during my long wait, and slung my bag over my shoulder. The other two made similar preparations. Koichi clipped a trio of balls to his belt, and Harold slipped a pair up each sleeve of his sweatshirt, then ran his fingers through his short dark hair. Koichi grabbed a black sphere from a cupboard above the sink, slipping it gently into his pocket. He caught my eye following the object, and grinned. "Distraction," he explained, and left it at that.

    Once out into he city itself, the three of us split up. Koichi and I approached Silph from the South, while Harold ended up just out of sight around the skyscraper's Southwest corner, the closest he could get to the main doors without being seen. Keeping to the plan, I released Rubble from his pokeball, and sent him slithering into the street.

    The guard at the door turned and stared for a minute, then reached for his belt. Rubble slithered back down the street, then Koichi's Hitmonchan stepped from between two buildings, fists clenched. A pair of flashes lit the dark corners of the empty street, and a Golbat and Ekans flared into existence. The pair flew at our pokemon, who held their own at first, but were slowly driven back. The guard followed them, keeping his own pokemon under tight control.

    Rubble launched himself into the air, just missing the purple bat. The other snake sunk its teeth less than an inch into Rubble's stony exoskeleton before taking a jab from Koichi's pokemon. The smaller snake recoiled from Rubble's body, but left one gleaming tooth embedded in the rock.

    Rubble struck again, this time ending up between the guard and the door. Both of the opposing pokemon evaded his attack easily, but the plan was coming together. Koichi's pokemon jabbed again, this time connecting with the circling Golbat and knocking it to the ground. It remained there, stunned for a moment, then lifted up into the air again. Seconds later, it was met with another fist, this one a crosspunch. Then, everything went black.

    I glanced right, and saw Harold rushing into the building, red and white sphere in hand. Looking left again, into the smoky blackness, Koichi and I recalled our pokemon and ran. We circled around to Silph's North side, and sat outside the building's back door.

    "What was that?" I asked.

    "The smoke bomb?" Koichi asked. "That was a little distraction, courtesy of Silph Co. It's meant for fleeing battles with wild pokemon, but they work well for any kind of distraction or escape."

    He was cut short by the opening of the door, quietly opening outwards on greased hinges. Harold stood in the doorway, and a ring of keys dangled from the inside doorknob. "What are you waiting for then," he said. "Come on."

    The three of us stepped into the building, and Harold led us down the stairs. "The switchboard's in the basement. That's where we'll be able to fix the PC system from."

    The building's basement was ill-kept, with rooms full of computer equipment in various states of disrepair. A few lights still blinked on and off in each room, providing the only source of light through the main corridor, save for the bright light spilling out from a room two-thirds of the way down the hall.

    "That's the switchboard room," Harold said. "Looks like they've got someone down here."

    Koichi took a glance over his shoulder, then turned to face forward again. "Someone's coming!" he hissed, and ducked into one of the storage rooms lining the hallway. Harold followed suit, ducking into a room on the opposite side. I dashed forward, shrugged my bag off my shoulder, and tucked myself around a corner into a dark room.

    I didn't have long to wait. Three people, two men and a woman passed by in Team Rocket uniforms, followed by a young man, about my age, in shirtsleeves.

    I gasped.

    The young man turned his head, and his face was briefly illuminated by a flashing orange light. It was Blue.

    Blue looked into the darkness, and I froze. He searched for a second or two, then jogged to catch up to the rest of his group. Swinging from side to side on his neck was a large red 'R'.

    The three of us crept out of hiding in time to see Blue and his entourage turn into the lit room. Harold stuck his head around the corner, into the room, and pulled it back seconds later. He held up six fingers. Koichi reached for his belt, and tossed a pokeball into the room, releasing his Hitmonchan. Harold followed suit, releasing his Electrode. The pair of them stepped around the corner, shouting orders to their pokemon. Harold tossed a second pokeball, this one releasing a Spearow.

    A flash of lightning flew across the room as I stepped inside. A purple snake flew backwards, landing with a crash against a bank of computer equipment. I reached for a pair of pokeballs on my belt, tossing them into the air. Battery appeared beside me, hovering four feet from the ground, while Prime fell to the ground, landing solidly on her two feet. Sparks jumped between the contacts on either side of my Magnemite, shocks flying out at irregular intervals. The smell of seared flesh reached my nostrils and I recoiled. Beside me, a Zubat plunged to the ground, its left wing a mangled mess of melted skin. It skidded along the ground, before coming to a rest at the feet of a group of three trainers in Rocket jumpsuits.

    Koichi tossed another pokeball into the fray, releasing his own Onix. The snake was easily half again as large as Rubble, who, although growing fast, was still no impressive specimen. I glanced away from my own pokemon briefly to take stock of the entire battle. The room was bigger than I had realized at first glance, although it was long and narrow, the battle creating the illusion of a cramped space. To my right, a pair of Rockets fought together, their three remaining pokemon engaged in a deadly duel with Harold's two. On my left, Koichi's two pokemon and my two fought a sextet consisting of a pair of Zubat, an Arbok, two Koffing, and a Rhyhorn. As I watched, the entire left half of the room became enveloped in a toxic purple mist. Calling to my pokemon to get out of the cloud, I cast a quick glance down the room. Sitting at a console at the far end, facing away from the bedlam, was Blue. Either he was confident his lackeys could handle the situation, or he didn't care about them, and wanted to deal with all of us himself. Knowing him, it was probably the latter.

    A bright flash of electricity lit the purple cloud, and a scream of anguished pain came from within. I caught a glimpse of a thick purple tail twitching through the edge of the smog, then it lay still. Seconds later, it vanished in a flash of red.

    The fumes began to clear as our pokemon started to gain the upper hand. Multi unleashed a powerful force of psychic energy, allowing Koichi's Hitmonchan to finally connect with a punch. One of the Koffing spiralled up towards the ceiling, hitting one of the pipes running along the ceiling. Cold water sprayed out, filling the room with a mist. Puddles began to form on the floor. Disturbed, a group of Magnemite rose towards the ceiling from behind one of the banks of broken equipment. Battery rose with, seeking shelter from the water. Taking advantage of the confusion, two of our assailants slipped out the door, and took their pokemon with them. The odds were now decidedly in our favour.

    Over on Harold's side, it was now two on two, while Koichi and I led four to three. Blue still hadn't budged. Prime leapt, smashing a Koffing into the wall of the room. It fell to the ground and lay still. Four to two. In the distance, I heard an alarm. I recalled Battery, who hadn't moved from a clump of his own species on the ceiling, and Koichi's Onix wrapped around one of the two Zubat, which vanished in a flash of red. The second followed suit. Across the room, two more flashes returned the two Harold's pokemon had been dealing with. Rushing out of the room, they left the three of us alone with Blue.

    The three of us started forward, and he finally turned. I counted no fewer than a dozen pokeballs in two tiers across his belt. I blinked, and two of them were in his hand. He laughed a cruel, deranged laugh, then sobered when he saw my face. "You," he said, through gritted teeth. "Why are you here. Don't you have better things to do than follow me around?" I heard a noise behind me, and I glanced over my shoulder. Filing through the door were dozens of Rockets. Wall to wall. I turned back, a split second before Blue's shoulder landed in my stomach. The two pokeballs in his hands were gone, and two Ekans slithered towards Harold and Koichi.

    Then, nothing.

    Then, feeling again. I landed on my hands and knees, and vomited onto the ground. What was it with Team Rocket and teleporters? My thoughts were interrupted by a kick to the gut, knocking me flat onto my back.

    "You couldn't leave me alone, could you?" Blue asked mockingly. "You couldn't deal with me being better than you." I picked myself up off the ground, and scrambled backward to avoid another kick. "There's no reason you had to be here. There's no reason for you still to be alive."

    At this point, I found myself with my back to the wall, in more ways than one. I didn't know what Blue wanted, and I physically couldn't backpedal anymore. I reached for my belt.

    "Uh-uh, play nice!" Blue knocked my hand away, following it up with a punch to the stomach. I doubled over in pain. "Look at you," he spat. "Pathetic. I don't know how you think you can stand up to me." I straightened slightly, just in time to avoid a knee to the face. Instead, I felt the impact of bone against bone, bruising my ribs just below my collarbone.

    "Blue," came a familiar voice. "Stop this nonsense at once. This isn't what I asked for." Giovanni strode into the room, clad in an identical suit to the one he had worn under Celadon. "Break his spirit, not his body. Don't forget what happened last time you failed me."

    Tears sprang to Blue's eyes. "How could I forget?" he asked with venom. "Fine. Whatever you want." He grabbed my arm and hauled me to my feet, leaving me to lean against the wall. He thumbed a pokeball, and a Pidgeot flared into existence. "Your move."

    I reached for my belt, and released Battery. I was stunned for a moment when I released three Magnemite instead of one, but I shrugged it off. My pokedex buzzed in my pocket. I could figure it out later. Sparks jumped between the three Magnemite, leaping out at the bird pokemon before it could launch an attack. Feathers filled the air, then one of the three magnet pokemon was knocked down, the bird moving faster than the eye could follow. A quick strike by the magnet pokemon, and the bird was down for the count.

    Eyes narrowing, Blue tossed a second pokeball, releasing a Growlithe. They were common pets in many parts of the region, and loyal travelling companions. They were also vicious fighters. I recalled Battery, and released my other new companion, Bromine. I knew she had her problems, but a type advantage should help her pull through and enjoy a confidence boost.

    A quick series of red flashes, and my pokemon were switched out. Bromine spat water at the fiery pokemon, creating a sheet that crashed over its head. In response, a circle of flame erupted around my pokemon. Bromine drew into her shell as the flames drew closer, but they extinguished as they touched her. Emboldened, she spat another stream of water. A strange sizzling noise came from the fire pup, and Blue called back his pokemon. Pure rage and hate boiled from his eyes.

    This time, it was Blue's turn to try the type advantage game, sending out his Exeggcute. A cloud of spores erupted from one of the eggs, but I recalled Bromine, sending out Battery almost simultaneously, before collapsing back against the wall. Battery hit once, twice, then shuddered when it ran into a psychic wall. Held immobile, the electric pokemon sent a powerful shock arcing through the air toward the grass pokemon. It shuddered and collapsed.

    Blue's face had transformed from enraged to expressionless. He recalled his crippled pokemon, and sent out his ace in the hole. Blastoise, Blue's starter and most powerful pokemon, appeared in a red flash. Getting in the first strike, a jet of water flew from the cannon at the water pokemon's neck, driving Battery back, even as a massive charge flowed the opposite way across the stream. Blastoise shook off the shock and fired again, this time driving Battery into the wall.

    I thumbed Battery's pokeball recalling my pokemon, and tossed Multi's out. Blastoise retreated into its shell, but Multi simply waited, watching for an opening. Finding one, she dove through a jet of water, sending a weak shock through the turtle pokemon's body. It stiffened, and Multi used the opportunity to throw her entire weight against the turtle, causing it to stumble backwards onto its shell. It rolled around, spewing water from its mouth and shoulders to little effect. Multi struck again with finality, knocking the turtle halfway through the far wall of the room.

    Blue reached for the final pokeball on the top row of his belt. I did likewise, recalling Multi and noticing with dismay that Prime's ball was empty. I tossed out Rubble's instead, and tried to run through the past moments, and determine where prime was, but I drew a blank. It's hard to focus on multiple things when you're barely able to stand.

    I raised my head, and took in the situation before me. Blue's last pokemon was another I didn't recognize, although it shared enough features with a past member that I concluded it must be an evolved form. Rubble wasted no time in slithering forward and hitting the yellow pokemon with his tail, stunning it, then proceeding to wrap his body around. The coils of his body tightened, but the yellow creature made no move. Eventually, Blue called the creature back, cursing its ineptitude. I recalled Rubble as well, but kept a pokeball in each of my hands.

    Blue took a step backwards, then another. He stopped only when he ran into the wall. "Coward," Giovanni sneered at him. He opened his mouth to speak again, but was cut off by a siren sounding through the building. Giovanni closed his mouth again, and turned back to Blue. "Go deal with that. Try not to screw it up, like you have with everything so far." Blue practically fled out the door, and Giovanni turned back to me. I was shakily standing on my feet again, still grasping Rubble and Bromine's pokeballs. Giovanni gently closed the door, and spoke. "Pathetic, isn't he. Nothing he can do right. Of course, he still thinks he's better than you."

    "At some things he is," I responded. "I never claimed to be the best at everything."

    "Ah, but that's not the point," Giovanni said. "I need my associates to be strong enough to deal with things in my absence. I can't have Blue faltering every time he looks at you or thinks of you. He can't stand to be weak. I would have thought that killing his pokemon would have given him enough motivation to deal with you, but clearly he needs something more." Giovanni paced back and forth as he spoke. Clasped behind his back was a red and blue pokeball.

    "I'm...not sure I understand what you mean," I said when he had paused for long enough. "I have no love for Blue, or your organization, but I'm not out to get you. That's a job for people much more skilled than me."

    "Ah, but that's where you're wrong," replied Giovanni. "You do my organization damage just by travelling, by obtaining badges, by planning to challenge the league. Your life's dream is at odds with my organization's purpose." He stopped pacing and turned to face me. "See, you're a very important person. Your father was just as much so, but circumstances conspired to remove him from my path." He thumbed the switch on his pokeball, and his Nidorino appeared beside him. "You, however, it seems I must deal with myself. I've waited too long for this to fail now. I'm sorry, truly. I do despise killing, but it is sometimes necessary. You could make it easier on yourself, you know."

    I pushed myself off the wall and tossed Bromine's pokeball into the air, then reached over and pulled the fire alarm, setting off the sprinkler in the room. "I don't intend to stand by idly and die. I don't intend to make it easy for you to kill me either." I was standing on my own now. The pain from Blue's beating had subsided from specific pain to a general ache, which was much easier to handle. I opened my mouth to speak again.

    Giovanni and I called our orders at the same time. Giovanni's pokemon hit Bromine with the toxic barbs on its tail, but my pokemon's tough shell protected it from the worst of the impact. The entire room was soggy now, and small puddles were starting to form on the floor. Using the water available, Bromine directed powerful streams towards the poison pokemon, dodged another swipe of the tail, and struck again. Nidorino's third attack, however, caught her off guard, and the large horn on the poison type's head got right into the crevice-like opening of Bromine's shell. She let herself be shaken off the horn, and retaliated with a powerful jet of water, knocking the pokemon back into Giovanni's legs.

    Giovanni called his pokemon back, and sent out a Nidoqueen, much more powerful than his last pokemon. The pokemon kicked once, twice, thrice, four times, connecting with Bromine each time. She struck back as best she could, but it was clear to tell she was weakening. As she passed by, I sprayed a medication onto the worst of her wounds, but we both knew it was a stopgap measure. Giovanni's 'mon struck with its tail this time, fortunately to little effect, but followed it up with a devastating pair of kicks. Bromine struck back, this time freezing the jet of water, letting it shatter into multicoloured shards against the hard body of the other pokemon. This final attack made the difference, and Giovanni recalled his second pokemon.

    Now came the one I'd feared. Last time we'd battled, Giovanni's Kangaskhan had given me all kinds of trouble, and here it was, large as life in front of me. It battered Bromine with a powerful fist, who tried again with ice, but to no avail. Seeing the pain my pokemon was in, I called back Bromine and sent out Shadow, who immediately took a powerful punch from the kangaroo pokemon.

    Kangaskhan made a face as she pulled back, and stuck her tongue out in a pant. Shadow pressed his advantage, using the same powerful kicks that Nidoqueen had used. One, two, three four. Kangaskhan struck weakly under the assault, and finally gave in.

    Healing Bromine as best I could, I sent her back out to finish what she'd started. Giovanni sent out his last pokemon, a Rhyhorn, in a flash of red. Armed with an increasingly soggy room and a type advantage, Bromine forced powerful jets of water towards the rocky pokemon, rubbing through its rough exterior before it could strike a single blow. Giovanni called back his pokemon, a look of disgust on his face.

    "No matter for now," Giovanni managed. He seemed much less composed than he had moments ago, in dry clothes with me slumped against the wall. "Mark my words Red, we will meet again. You will not survive our next meeting. Too much depends on it." He stepped onto a teleporter and disappeared. I was left alone, standing ankle-deep in water, unsure where I was, pondering what Giovanni had said to me. As I stood there, alone with my thoughts, the power flickered briefly, and went out.

    Sorry there's no team update here guys, but this is only half the chapter. I'm sitting on Cinnabar right now, and don't know the full configuration of my team as of this point in the narrative. Sorry.


    Chapter 7 part 2: Who needs time (open)
    I stood there in the darkness, wet from head to toe, and water pouring down around me. I could see nothing but blackness, and hear nothing but my heartbeat. Thoughts ran through my head faster than I could follow. What had Giovanni meant? Why was my death so important? What did it have to do with my father?

    As I stood there, the lights flickered back on, throwing light back into the room, and transforming the water droplets from the still-running sprinkler into a misty rainbow. I turned toward the door as it flew open. My hand went immediately to my belt.

    Harold rushed in, and doubled over, panting. From behind, I saw Prime's tail poking out, and I thumbed the switch on her pokeball. I caught a glimpse of her full body before she vanished. She had more than doubled in size, and a pair of large, batlike wings had sprouted from her back, although the thin membrane on her left side had been completely shredded. I felt a pang of guilt, but clipped her ball to my belt, and turned to Harold, who straightened.

    "There you are," he gasped, still short of breath. "We got the PCs back up, and everything went to hell after that. I don't think anyone in here knows entirely what's going on, but things have definitely turned around. Come see."

    I followed Harold out of the room, glad to get out of the damp. Down a hall and around a corner, Harold stopped, and indicated a massive window. "Look down," he suggested.

    I stepped toward the glass, and looked down to the street below. My stomach knotted briefly with the clutch of vertigo, but it passed in an instant. I was directly above the building's entrance, nine stories up. Flooding out of the main doors were hundreds of men and women in Team Rocket uniforms, looking for all the world like tiny black ants leaving their colony. I stepped back from the window, and headed toward the stairs. Harold followed after me.

    With Silph mostly clear, I turned my mind to the real reason I'd come to Saffron. Sabrina's gym was tucked in the extreme northeast corner of the city. I passed by the pokemon center on my way, giving my pokemon a chance to recover. There, I got a better look at Prime's wing. She was by far the worst-off of my pokemon, having been inadvertently left with Koichi and Harold in Silph's basement, and had taken the brunt of the Rocket force. It showed.

    I slumped into a chair as my six pokemon were taken away from me. Within a half-hour, five pokeballs were handed back to me, but Prime's was not. "Your Charizard is seriously hurt," the nurse explained. "We'll need to keep her overnight at the very least." I signed a form indicating my consent, and left Prime in the care of the Center's staff. Not seeing any sense in waiting, I turned again towards Sabrina's gym.

    The board outside Sabrina's gym was refreshingly blank, no other trainers having been able to make it into the city. Somehow though, I doubted that had prevented Blue from getting his badge. I stepped into the gym, preparing myself for a challenge to even get to the leader. I was surprised when a young woman in a tight red and black dress -- Sabrina herself -- was waiting for me.

    As I stepped into the gym, the walls around us shimmered, and vanished, while the familiar white border, marking the edge of the arena, winked into existence. Sabrina stepped toward me, extending her hand, which I shook. "I knew you would be coming," she said. Her voice had a dreamy quality, as if her mind was not completely focused on our conversation. "I have seen a great battle between us." She stepped away from me, and suddenly appeared in her square at the opposite end of the gym. As if under their own power, four pokeballs lifted from the rack behind her, and began a lazy orbit around her body.

    AI grabbed a single ball off my belt, and thumbed the switch, releasing Battery. The Magneton hovered above the field, waiting for its challenger. A flash of light came from Sabrina, and a Kadabra appeared on the field. One of the four balls around the leader fell to the floor.

    Sabrina's Kadabra stepped forward into the center of the field, its eyes glowing as it focused straight ahead. I spoke a quiet command to Battery, who darted forward, impacting the yellow pokemon in its gut. The glow faded from its eyes and it lay still on the ground. Sabrina recalled it, releasing her next pokemon simultaneously.

    This next pokemon I had not seen before. It was naturally colored like a mime is painted, with comically large hands and small arms. Taking no chances, I commanded Battery to use its strongest attack. A thick beam appeared in the gap in the center of the three Magnemite making the Magneton's body, ejecting a twisted mass of electricity and flame. A blue aura pulsed around both my pokemon and the powerful beam.

    The mime pokemon raised its hands, as a mime would to indicate an invisible wall, then lowered them again. The beam stopped about a foot and a half from the white pokemon, exactly where the wall would be. Sparks flew, but the wall appeared to be holding. Suddenly, with a blue-green flash and a loud crack, bolts of electricity jumped through to the mime, knocking it backward. It lay on the ground.

    Battery ceased its attack, watching the other pokemon carefully for any movement. I blinked and my pokemon was gone, skimming across the ground and knocking the mime back head over heels. It disappeared in a flash of red, and Sabrina's third pokemon winked into existence.

    Before the red flash had even faded, Battery sent a single, crackling bolt of electricity into the other pokemon, which let out a piercing, high-pitched scream. My hands rushed to my ears and I dropped to one knee.

    When the noise stopped, I looked up again. Battery's movements had become erratic, the magnet pokemon was darting from side to side. Weak filaments of electrical power were lancing out at irregular intervals, as many missing the opposing Venomoth as connecting. All the while, waves of invisible energy caused ripples through the air as the other pokemon struck violently at Battery's mind.

    I called to my pokemon, just as Sabrina called to hers. There was a brief respite in the battle as we tended to our pokemon's injuries, then the conflict resumed full force. Battery threw out a thin beam of electrical energy which snaked across the moth pokemon's body, leaving its muscles in spasm even after the charge had passed. Not giving its opponent a chance to react, Battery darted into the other pokemon, knocking it to the floor. It vanished in a flash of red light.

    Sabrina's eyes flew shut as her last pokemon appeared on the field. This time, I recognized it as an Alakazam, the same as Blue's. Sabrina's pokemon struck quickly, launching a powerful psychic attack towards Battery, pinning the magnet pokemon in place.

    In retaliation, a powerful bolt of blue-tinged electricity flew from Battery's core, striking the yellow pokemon in the chest. The beam persisted for a good ten seconds before Battery let up, but no visible damage had occurred. Instead, the Alakazam redoubled its own attack, distorting the air across the arena with currents of invisible power.

    Battery suddenly shot toward the ceiling, rising away from the volatile ground. Alakazam's eyes flicked closed, emulating its Trainer. A handful of heartbeats later, a thick, knotted bolt of electricity arced from the ceiling. The acrid smell of searing flesh reached my nostrils, and I recoiled slightly. Sabrina's pokemon vanished in a pulse of red.

    I recalled Battery from the ceiling, and clipped the pokeball to my belt. I was momentarily shocked when I felt the empty space where Prime's pokeball normally resided, but quickly recovered as I remembered the circumstances. I looked across the battlefield at Sabrina, whose eyes were still loosely shut.

    Before my eyes, the thick white line marking the border of the arena melted into the floor. The boxes Sabrina and I stood in followed suit. Looking back up, Sabrina's eyes were already open. A small object dropped in front of my face. The marsh badge.

    I plucked the badge from the air, as Sabrina stepped toward me. "A great battle indeed," she mused. The ground beneath my feet rumbled, and I tensed as bits of dust fell from the ceiling.

    "Don't worry," Sabrina chided me. "You're safe here, for now. For how much longer, I cannot say, for I do not know." I felt my face contort into its most confused state. Sabrina noticed. "I see. There is much you do not know. Some of it, is not my place to share, but I will do what I can. Come with me." Sabrina extended a hand away from her side, and a section of the gym floor descended into a staircase.

    I followed Sabrina down the stairs, which retreated back into the ceiling at a wave of the Gym Leader's hand. I pulled my headlamp from my backpack, and turned it on, throwing a soft beam of light into the darkness. It landed on a framed picture of a pink pokemon.

    Sabrina's voice drifted out of the darkness. "Beyond being a psychic-type trainer, I am an adept psychic myself. The most common and visible manifestation of these powers is telekinesis, but a few, like myself, are gifted with powers of prophecy and precognition." Another rumble shook through my knees, sending a cloud of dust down around my head.

    "It's mostly small things I see," Sabrina continued. She lit an oil lamp, throwing the entire chamber into brightness. I clicked my headlamp off. "The quality of a battle, the skill of my next challenger. Only once have I had a premonition of any consequence."

    Sabrina pulled a rolled sheet of paper from a rack, and spread it overtop of the picture, obscuring the pink pokemon. It was a crude drawing of Kanto, with thick Xs and times in spidery writing. The first small X was labeled 0. The final time in the bottom corner had no associated marker.

    "This map shows the location of every earthquake that has occurred in the past month and a half, except for two. One at Mt. Moon, and one in Celadon City."

    I gasped.

    "I don't know for certain what it means," Sabrina continued, "but I can see the pattern, and I know the cause. What I don't know, is how to stop it."

    "I don't understand," I began. "Why are you showing this to me?"

    Sabrina cut me off. "I had this premonition during a conversation with the man I now know to be your father. Of course, I didn't know who he was at the time -- it was almost fifteen years ago. He reacted violently to the prophecy. We haven't spoken since. It would be...unwise of me to tell you much more. When you next see your father, I suggest you ask him."

    "I think you have the wrong person," I countered. "I haven't seen my father in years. I have no clue when I'll see him next. He's too busy to care about me."

    Sabrina smiled. "Your father does care about you, Red. He cares very much. You'll see him sooner than you think." Sabrina waved her hand, and the room fell away from around me, replaced by the grassy strip outside the gym. I blinked, dropped to my knees, and vomited on the ground. I hated teleportation.

    After I'd cleaned my mouth out as best I could, I made the trek back to Koichi's house, and knocked on the door. Koichi opened it, and invited me in. Situating myself on the couch, I explained about Prime. "I just need to stay another night. I'll leave in the morning."

    Koichi already had a blanket in his hand. He tossed it to me. "Stay the night then. Your Charizard is a masterful fighter. My own pokemon could stand to learn a thing or two."

    Thanking him, I pulled the blanket over my shoulders, and was asleep before the lights went out.

    I woke early the next morning, or so I thought. Koichi was awake already, preparing a breakfast. I ate a bowl of oatmeal, but made a hurried departure. I had a lot to get done today. My first stop was at the pokemon center, where I retrieved Prime's pokeball, as well as a set of medications. "Give this one twice daily, and this one once every second day," the nurse instructed, handing me two bottles. "If you forget, the directions are on the label."

    I thanked her, and clipped Prime's pokeball to my belt, then walked out of the pokemon center and towards the edge of the city. The fastest way to Cinnabar was down Cycling Road, through Fuchsia, and through the Seafoam Islands. And that meant passing through the wreckage of Celadon.

    I passed through Saffron's west gate, and pulled out my bike. Before long, I had to dismount in order to maneuver around large chunks of stone and steel. I passed through what had been the city center, and stopped to take a brief look around. Nothing remained of the massive structures that had been here the first time I visited the city. I kept walking, but not without a pang of guilt.

    Sabrina hadn't predicted this quake. Whatever was causing the damage, it wasn't playing entirely by the rules. And both unpredicted quakes had been in my area. As I left the destroyed city behind me, my phone buzzed in my pocket, causing me to jump. It was Daniel.

    "Red!" he greeted me. "I'm in Cinnabar right now -- How'd it go in Saffron?"

    I gave an abbreviated version of my gym battle, leaving out what Sabrina had told me afterward. By the time I had finished, I'd left the debris behind me, and could see the gatehouse to Cycling Road in the distance. "What's the situation look like in Cinnabar?"

    "The gym's pretty basic -- no puzzles or anything," Daniel filled me in. "Blaine just got back from a vacation, and he's raring for a challenge. If you hurry, you can be the one to give it to him. Where are you now?"

    "I'm just at the head of Cycling Road," I replied. "I ought to hang up now -- not looking forward to having a phone conversation while biking."

    "Fair enough," Daniel agreed. "See you this afternoon, hopefully."

    I said my goodbyes, and slid my phone back into my pocket, then rode out into the wide, sloped expanse of Cycling Road. I pointed the front of my bike downhill, and let fly. On either side of me, trees flew by, then gave way to the bay, first on my right, then my left. Despite the road's gentle slope, the road's length and gentle turns made picking up and maintaining speed very easy.

    Crossing over the longest bridge in Kanto was not something to be taken lightly. I drifted close to the edge to avoid a group of bikers screaming down the road behind me, and made the mistake of looking over the guardrail. My heart leapt into my mouth as I was seized with the grip of vertigo. With the bridge towering four hundred feet over the water's surface, I felt rather justified in my fear.

    The bridge gave way again to land, and I felt myself relax with the return of solid ground. The road's pitch became flat, as I passed through farmland, relying on the bay's fresh water for irrigation, then gave way to the gently rolling hills outside of Fuchsia.

    I continued on this path for another half-hour, only half paying attention to the road ahead of me, revelling in the wind whistling past me. The road curved left, right, and left again, bringing me right to Fuchsia's western gate. I dismounted and walked into the gatehouse, where I folded my bicycle and clipped it onto the frame of my backpack. I nodded to the gatekeeper, who I recognized from my gym challenge, and walked through the city's marketplace on the way to the docks at mainland Kanto's southern tip.

    I bought my lunch from a stall on the beach -- a jumbo hot dog and some fries -- and munched steadily as I walked down the long pier. Bird pokemon circled high overhead, occasionally diving down to grab a stray bit of food, or simply something that glinted in the sunshine. I tossed a fry to one of the more bold Spearow, and tossed the empty food containers in the trash. In front of me, the South Sea stretched as far as the eye could see, broken occasionally by a buoy or a rock, straining skyward.

    A sign at the end of the pier listed times for the ferry to the Seafoam islands, a popular tourist destination. A geological anomaly, the islands were the southernmost in Kanto proper, closest to the equator. However, they were also host to the coldest part of the region, Seafoam caves. The largest islands of the chain had a thriving trade, selling snow cones made from ice shavings taken from deep within the caves. Scientists had spent years in the caves, armed with budgets in the tens of millions, and had been unable to explain how the caves managed to stay so frigid. About two years ago, the government had lost interest, and public funding had been cut. Now, only a few dedicated workers laboured on, examining the caves in the smaller islands with outdated equipment. Nobody really expected any results.

    I pulled out my phone and checked the time. 1:30. The next ferry wasn't leaving for half an hour. That suited me just fine. I slumped down onto a bench, facing the ocean, and waited.

    --

    My eyes snapped open with the sound of a horn. I shook my head briefly and vigorously, and stood. I joined the throng of people that had appeared while I dozed in the slow shuffle towards the ferry's boarding deck. Paying my fee, I found a seat on the top deck, where the noise was at a minimum. The trip to the islands would be at least another forty-five minutes, and I had been in the middle of some very critical sleeping when the ferry had arrived. With a little luck, the trip to Seafoam would let me at least hit the end of my sleep cycle. I leaned back in my seat and closed my eyes, reveling in the crisp and clean air blowing in from the open water.

    Before I had made any real progress, I felt a rumble echo through the deck below me. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I looked over the edge of the boat, and was shocked at what I saw. One, two, three, four Gyarados were circling the ferry. One had struck at the side, leaving a dent just above the waterline. My pokedex buzzed frantically in my pocket, and I slapped at it, hoping for silence. One of the dragons lifted its head, and let out a roar, tearing me away physically from the rail, and throwing me back into an empty bank of seats. I heard a crack, and felt cruel tendrils of pain shoot down my arm.

    Tears sprang to my eyes, and I clutched my left arm to my chest. I lay on the floor immobile. Constant agonizing pain emanated from my shoulder. I was jolted from my reverie of self-pity by a shadow looming over me. A Gyarados, its head easily thirty feet above the water's surface, glared down at me. I reached for a pokeball with my good hand, but the moment I moved, a fresh wave of pain riddled my body. The sea serpent threw its head back and turned toward me, eyes glowing with a purple-white light.

    A pokemon's shriek came from behind me, where the stairwell to the lower deck lay. A gray blur flew overhead and sharp talons raked at the Gyarados' eyes. I faintly registered the fact that my pokedex was buzzing again, but I ignored it. A powerful torrent of superheated water arced over the ferry, the stream from the Gyarados' mouth having been redirected by the loss of its eyes. The gray pokemon darted and wheeled around the larger creature in an impressive show of flight, never in the same place for even a second. With a final, well-placed peck, a gout of yellow juice spurted from a wound in the Gyarados' neck, and the wounded creature bellowed defiantly before sinking back into the depths of the sea.

    I lay my head back onto the deck as a fresh wave of pain washed over me. Footsteps echoed in my ears, amplified by the contact between my skull and the floor. Two black boots with rubber soles stepped over me, and a red and black reversible cape swept over my face. The man to whom these articles belonged held a pokeball, and recalled the gray creature in a flash of red. He turned to face me, and I immediately noticed the seven gym badges that adorned his front, as well as three larger pins, which he wore like military medals. Each of these pins had eight badges pictured on it, as well as the Pokemon League's crest in the center.

    My eyes drifted up to his face, which held dark eyes, and a mouth which seemed permanently fixed in an expression that was somehow both grim and condescending. He clipped the ball to his belt, totaling six pokemon, and stepped back over me without a word. I suddenly felt conscious of the weight of the badge I wore on the front of my own shirt. This man would be my competitor at the league, if I was even fit to battle, and it seemed that he wanted as little competition as possible.

    I still hadn't moved when I felt the ferry dock at Seafoam, and heard the scared passengers rush for the exit. Minutes more went by, with each heartbeat sending a new twinge down my arm. I heard unintelligible yelling on the deck below, and finally, steps crossing the deck toward me. "Don't move," a voice reassured me. "Everything's going to be fine. Tell me your name..."

    A series of questions ensued, designed, I thought, to keep my mind occupied more so than to gather any real information. I felt myself lifted onto a stretcher, and lowered over the side of the ferry onto the Seafoam beach, where I was carried into a lifeguard station. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the caped man in the center of a gaggle of reporters, television crewmen, and photographers. He looked as if he enjoyed the media attention.

    In the guard station, I was tested more thoroughly, and sat in a chair. No bones were obviously broken, but that revelation unsurprisingly did little to lessen the pain. My one stroke of luck in the whole ordeal was that it did get me on an express path out of Seafoam. However, the hospital visit when I arrived in Cinnabar ate up whatever time I might have saved, and then some. At least I was in the right place. The painkillers weren't bad either.

    Prime (Female Charmeleon)
    [​IMG]
    Level 45
    Gentle nature
    Blaze
    @Charcoal

    Slash
    Flamethrower
    Rock Slide
    Metal Claw

    Lower BP limit: 148
    Food items used: 25

    BP is once again a non-factor. I wrote her evolution a little earlier than it happened in-story, but she does evolve before participating in any major battles, so I didn't think it mattered too much.

    Shadow (Nidoking)
    [​IMG]
    Level 44
    Quirky nature
    Poison Point
    No Item

    Megahorn
    Double Kick
    Cut
    Water Pulse

    Didn't do a ton, as far as I can remember, but he's a strong 'mon, and my go-to guy for tough situations.


    Multi (Female Clefairy)
    [​IMG]
    Level 45
    Mild nature
    Cute Charm
    No item

    Strength
    Dig
    Meteor Mash
    Thunder Wave

    I could evolve right now, but I can't change the movepool after evolution, and I want Ice Beam for Lance. She's kind of frail, but when she hits, she hits pretty hard.

    Rubble (Male Onix)
    [​IMG]
    Level 42
    Relaxed nature
    Rock Head
    No item

    Strength
    Screech
    Attract
    Dragonbreath

    Just as amazing as last chapter, although I had little cause to use him. He's incredibly useful in most situations, although his weak offensive stats make him a pain to train.

    Bromine (Female Shellder)
    [​IMG]
    Level 41
    Jolly nature
    Shell Armor
    No item

    Protect
    Surf
    Leer
    Aurora Beam

    Didn't solo Giovanni, but played a role in taking him down, for certain. Even though I'm not evolving until level 50 in order to get Ice Beam naturally, I will still have her lead through the Pokemon Mansion -- switch training is needed to get her to where she needs to be.

    Battery (Magneton)
    [​IMG]
    Level 46
    Naughty nature
    Magnet Pull
    No item

    Swift
    Spark
    Tri-Attack
    Thunder Wave

    BP limit: 150

    Utility is severely limited, although he did a fabulous job soloing Sabrina. Decent defences and strong physical attacks were enough to take down that barrier. Haven't used him since, as he's never really the best for the job, and was overlevelled, compared to the other pokemon on the team. I don't expect to see an incredible amount more out of him, but surprises can always happen.


    Make of it what you will. Feedback?

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  1. lucariomaster2