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The Truth About Fictional Worlds 
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Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:36 pm
Posts: 933
Location: Sinnoh Route 228
Country: United States (us)
Gender: Male
MGN Username: Goombario64
Currently Playing: SSB4
Chapter 3 is finished!
Chapter 3 - Getting Started: show
"Listen. You need only to listen."

"What...who..."

"Your presence in this world astounds my friend and I, but that is irrelevant at the moment."

"Who...are you? What is..."

"Don't worry. We'll come meet you when the time feels right. For now, just know that you'll one day---"

The voice cut off when I awoke. "What...was that?" I thought aloud.

"What do you mean?" asked Iris.

"I...never mind. It was just a dream, I guess. What time is it?"

"I don't know." She turned and asked Cilan and Ash if they knew.

Cilan went and checked the computer. "It's 9:36."

"You slept in pretty late," Ash said. His Pikachu, sitting on Ash's right shoulder, agreed by simply saying its own name. "Pi-ka chu?" It sounded a bit concerned.

"Heh, right, I forgot Pokémon talk by saying their name in different ways...Huh? Oh, uhh, yeah, I tend to sleep in a lot. Nothing strange about it, believe me."

"Well, I wish you didn't sleep so long," Iris added. "We're already ready to go and you're just getting up. What a kid." Axew popped out of her hair and agreed, saying, "Axew-yew."

"That's funny," I smirked. "I thought girls take a long time getting ready anyway?"

"What was that?"

"Oh, nothing. Just stating the obvious. You should be thanking me, really, for sleeping in so late."

"Why, you..."

"Hey, look, Iris. Don't blame me. It's just that you've called me a kid twice now."

"Oh, and that bothers you?"

"Of course it does. It always has, mostly because I can do things most 'kids' can't. And besides -- I'm 14."

"Well too bad, 'cause you are a kid and that's that."

"Oh really? Well in that case, what does that make you? You're barely older than me, if at all, and besides...to be honest, you have no idea what I'm capable of."

"Now now, you two," Cilan said. "Let's try and just calm down for a second. This is a big day for Timothy. Let's try not to begin it in bad taste."

"He started it..." Iris said grumpily.

"Wow, Iris," I smirked again. "That's just the sort of thing a kid would say. Thank you for proving my point."

"Wha...now wait! I didn't 'prove' anything!"

"No, you hit it spot-on. I couldn't have said it better myself."

"By saying what?"

I yawned -- a sincere yawn, but still with perfect timing. "By saying I started everything. Kids always make that their argument in any fight."

"Well...you did...I mean...I..."

"See? Enough said."

Cilan couldn't help but laugh. "I think he's got your number Iris."

"Errraaah!" Iris growled.

I laughed and said, "Come on, you know I was joking right?"

"No, I don't believe you!"

"Well, that's too bad. I guess I'll just have to go and get the Pokémon to start with myself. What a shame..."

Pikachu shouted out "Pi-ka...CHUUUUU!!!" and launched electricity all over the room. It electrocuted all of us, including Ash. The three shouted out in pain and fell to the floor. I only grunted a bit, though I didn't plan on getting out of bed anytime soon.

"Man..." I said, still flinching. "That...Pikachu is...powerful."

"Eheh," Cilan said, short of breath. "I'd...have to agree."

"Pikachu..." Ash spoke, barely. "Why'd you...do that?"

"Well, Ash," Cilan said, "I...to answer your...question...I think Pikachu had enough of...the fighting between...Timothy and Iris."

"Really?" Iris grunted, then laughed. "What...gave you that impression?"

"Yeah," I agreed. "I think...Cilan's on to something there...and...Pikachu, too. I...admittedly...may have been a bit...out of line, with what I said I mean. Sorry about that, Iris. I just...well...I don't even know. There's no excuse, really."

"It's...fine," she responded, still in pain. "I guess...calling the SBL tournament Champion a kid was a bit...well, it doesn't...really make any...sense. If you are really...the Champion...that is."

"Uh-huh," Ash said. "But..." he turned to his Pikachu, who was now on the floor and had its arms folded. "Pikachu, next time...would you mind not...trying so hard?"

"Let's just hope...there isn't a next time," Cilan said.

"I feel bad for those...wild Pokémon that...attacked me," I stated, managing to smile. "If Pikachu...hit them with that attack...whew, that must've really hurt those two. No wonder they left when the rest of you arrived. What move...was that, anyway?"

It...was Thunderbolt," Ash told me.

"Oh, okay." I paused, and then a thought struck me. "Hey..."

The others managed to get back up. Ash asked me what I was thinking of.

"Well," I answered, excited. "If that adorable little yellow mouse can zap us to kingdom come like it did, then...I really want to get in on this!"

No one understood what I meant. "What...are you saying?" asked Iris.

"It's just...with all the power inside of that Pikachu, and how I'm going to get a Pokémon soon...it reminds me of when I discovered what I was capable of. There's just so much to...explore, I guess."

"I hear ya," Ash replied. The most sincere look of complete excitement and understanding rushed over him. "Getting your first Pokémon is like starting a new life!"

"True," Cilan agreed. "There's no feeling quite like taking your first step into your Pokémon Journey. New friends, new foes, and new Pokémon all await you once you begin. It's like throwing yourself at the hand of fate and taking it on all at once!"

"Woah," I said, amazed. "It's gettin' poetic up in here..."

"There he goes again," Iris said, not amused. Axew popped out and agreed with "Axew, Ax..."

"Cilan's right, though," Ash said. "Pokémon journeys are a lot of fun. You never know what's gonna happen."

"Sounds familiar," I agreed with a been-there attitude. "But..." anticipation settled back in. "What are we waiting for?" I threw the blankets and sheets off of me, lunged onto the floor, and immediately put my shoes on. "If you all are ready, then let's go!"

"Well, now wait a minute," Cilan stated. "You haven't eaten any breakfast yet."

His power of suggestion rumbled my stomach. "Oh, I guess you're right. Hmm...I wonder what they're having this morning."

"Eggs and sausage," Ash answered.

"You see," Cilan admitted, "We've kind of...already eaten."

"Oh." I didn't really mind -- I was used to sleeping in and missing breakfast anyhow. "Well... -- wait! How are there eggs and sausage? What, are there Real World animals here or something?"

"No, it's actually a matter of importing it all from the Real World," Cilan said. "You know how farmers in the United States are sometimes paid to let their corn go to 'waste' instead of selling it?"

"Uhh...yeah...it's to keep prices low."

"Well, that's really not the only reason. They ship the 'wasted' corn and other supplies from farms and other businesses to the Nintendo Worlds -- specifically to this one and the Mushroom World."

"Wait, WHAT!?" Not even Mario told me about this. I knew they shipped some things to the Nintendo Worlds, but not in that way. "Well, whatever, all this talk of food is making things worse. I'm gonna need to eat soon, as in, now."

"Yeah, I might go for seconds while you're at it," Ash said.

Cilan laughed. "That's Ash for you."

"What a kid," Iris proclaimed.

"Heh," I said with a grin. "At least it's not directed at me anymore..."

They all laughed. "Although," Cilan said, "I'd be careful if I were you. You give Iris any reason to think so again and she'll take it -- believe me."

"Oh, so it's not just me?"

"Hey," Iris said, "You know I'm always joking, right?"

"You sure could-a fooled me," Ash replied, not convinced. Pikachu agreed and gave Iris a displeased look.

"Ehehe," she nervously laughed. "Okay, maybe sometimes I do mean it."

"Well," I concluded. "That's okay. Everyone is a kid at heart anyway."

"Very true," Cilan agreed. "Most people never truly grow up, from what I can tell."

"Yeah, I guess you're right," Iris smiled. "I don't know why you'd want to grow up anyway..."

"Exactly," I said, proving how ridiculous our little conflict was. "14 isn't exactly 'adult' age in the first place..."

I went ahead and suggested that Ash and I go and get breakfast. I wanted to speed things along to ease my impatient self. When we ate, I found Ash to have an appetite which almost rivaled my own.

--Almost.

* * *

After breakfast and some double-checking to be sure no one forgot anything, we left the Center. The fresh, clean air of Nuvema Town made me wish the Real World's air was as appealing.

I asked what direction the place to get my first Pokémon was in, and Cilan said it was "this way." He took a left and motioned for the rest of us to follow. We headed straight for the building with the radio tower next to it.

It was still a good 100 feet away when I wondered what Pokémon I'd be choosing from. I asked what they'd be, but Cilan simply said, "You'll just have to wait and see!"

"Oh, so it's a surprise, then?" I asked, rhetorically. "Good, since I like surprises."

A female voice followed my statement up with, "Then you'll love this!"

We all turned to try to find the source. Bushes along the front-left corner of the Center rustled, and out jumped two people. They ran in between of the four of us and the building we aimed to enter.

One was a man with blue-violet hair, and the other was a woman with 3-feet long, magenta hair that stuck out and curved downward the whole way. Both of them wore white uniforms with a red letter "R" on the front, and both wore black boots. The man wore white pants which tucked into his boots, while the woman wore a short, skin-tight white skirt. Her boots came almost up to her skirt, being easily twice the height of the man's boots.

Ash, Iris, and Cilan all shouted out at once who the two people were. "Team Rocket!!"

The woman laughed and grinned an evil grin. "I think we'll give the twerp a throwback, eh?"

"Hmm, yes, we should," the man said.

Two large pink metallic hands with extended gray metallic arms shot from the sky; I looked up to see a hot-air balloon fashioned in the shape of a certain Pokémon's head. The hands grabbed Pikachu and somehow managed to grab Axew, despite it still being hidden in Iris's hair. Pikachu tried using its Thunderbolt attack, but as the woman noted, the hands were Thunderbolt-proof. Ash and Iris called out to their Pokémon, yet to no avail.

"Prepare for trouble," the woman smirked.

"And make it double," her partner continued. My arms were folded at this point. I could see they obviously were bad guys, here to either harm or steal Pikachu and Axew.

"To protect the world from devastation!" the woman said with pride.

"To unite all peoples within our nation!" the man shouted with nothing to hide.

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"

"Jessie!"

"James!"

"Team Rocket blasts off at the speed of light!"

"Surrender now, or you're in for a fight!"

Suddenly a Pokémon of about a foot tall jumped in between the two. "Meowth, that's right!"

I found it hard to contain myself. "You...have got to be kidding me." The humor of the moment was too much. "Tchssssahahaha! Of all the ridiculous introductions!"

"I beg your pardon?" James asked, not seeing the joke.

"You...you three really put the Koopa Bros.'s entrance to shame...I mean..." I put my hand on my face, then looked back at them. "Is all that really necessary?"

"Yes, of course it is!" Jessie proclaimed.

"Rrrright. And uhh, by all that you said...I can see that your goal is clearly something involving Pikachu and Axew, but...you're not communists, too, are you?"

The Pokémon in front of them was the one to respond this time. "What're you blabberin' about?"

"What the...you...talked?" I turned to Ash and asked who these odd characters were.

"They're called 'Team Rocket,' and they're always trying to steal Pikachu and the rest of our Pokémon..."

"So..." I turned back to the strange trio. "You three are like...poachers?"

"What? How dare you!" James angrily shouted. "We're nothing like poachers! I resent that remark!"

"Okay, well, if you steal Pokémon, and don't make a profit off of them...do you use them yourselves?"

"We give them to the boss!" the Pokémon exclaimed.

"Okay...then -- wait...I've...seen you before."

"Who...me?" it asked.

"Yeah...I..." I thought for a moment and then remembered. "That's right! You're the Pokémon in the Smash Bros. series who comes out and throws a bunch of coins which to me have, for whatever reason, always looked like bread."

As the Pokémon itself said before, its name was "Meowth." It was a cat-like, cream-colored Pokémon with an ovoid head. A golden, oval coin-like charm with four thin horizontal lines on it sat on Meowth's forehead, with a cream-colored whisker sticking straight up on either side. Four other whiskers stuck out of the side of his head, with two on the left side and two on the right. It had wide eyes with cat-like pupils, and wide, black-rimmed ears with a pale-pink inside. Its hind paws were brown, as was the tip of its long curled tail, which resembled that of a honey bun at the end. The hot-air balloon was modeled after Meowth's head.

Cilan noted the Smash Bros. comment and asked, "Wait...are you referring to Meowth's move called 'Pay Day?'"

"Pay Day? Umm, I guess. Whatever attack Meowth used in Smash Bros. is the one I'm talking about."

"Well, that's the one. It's a Normal-type move," he told me.

"Could you two discuss this later?" Iris pleaded. "We're kind of in the middle of something..."

"Oh, yeah, right," I said. To become a good Pokémon Trainer, I knew I needed to soak in as much as I could when I could, though now really wasn't the right time.

Ash, becoming impatient, reached into his pocket and pulled out a Poké Ball -- a ball made out of a light metal and was half red and half white, with the colors being separated by a black line and a circular white button in the middle of the line at one point. He pressed the button and the ball increased in size from an inch to more than three inches in diameter.

Ash started to throw the Poké Ball to let out a Pokémon to help, but I stopped him. "Ash," I told him. "And everyone. Please, leave it to me."

"No," Iris said. "There's no reason you should have to get involved."

"No," I told her. "Listen. I...look, all of you. You've done so much for me, and I didn't ask you to do any of it. And the fact of the matter is that I can handle these three. I can already see that you've dealt with them before and you know them pretty well. I think it's only fair that you all let me deal with this."

"Hey, just who do you think you are, buster?" Jessie said, attempting to scold me.

I gave them a look that could cut solid steel, though they didn't see it that way.

"Oooh," James said sarcastically. "I'm so terrified."

"Heheha!" Meowth chuckled. "What's that supposed to do? Get lost, kid! Before you get hurt with the rest of the twerps!"

"Team Rocket," I began. "You've made an ignorant mistake. Look, I don't care if you happen to seem to have the upper hand here. I realize I'll be going up against you with just myself and no Pokémon or side assistance, but after I'm done, you'll wish I used a Pokémon."

"He gives a nice speech," said a naive Jessie, "but let's see him put it to good use. Oh, wait -- that's right!" She leaned forward and grinned. "You can't. You know why? Because you're just a kid. A little, insignificant punk with no back up to your come backs."

Now I leaned forward. Her kid comment didn't help the Team's situation. "Now I want you three to take a good, long look at me. Let it settle for a bit, and see if you can't recall who I am."

They paused and glared. Meowth soon answered with, "OK, I give. Who're you supposed to be?"

James remarked with humored confidence, "You look like a walking blueberry." The trio laughed to each other at this.

"I could honestly care less how I look or dress," I told them. "All I'm concerned about right now is returning those stolen Pokémon -- that, and I want to see the look on your faces when I show you that you have absolutely no chance of winning here. That's right, none."

"Oh is that so? You and what army?" Jessie remarked. "All I see is a puny, pathetic-looking person who isn't even a trainer yet."

"Lady, before I came to the Pokémon World, I was much more than a simple 'non-trainer.' I still am, and if you have any sense you'll give up now while you still can."

"I still don't see any sign of danger with you. Hmm? Anything? No, I thought not."

"Alright, I guess you are starting to bore me, anyway."

"Okay, that's it, I've heard enough!" James proclaimed. He pulled a remote control out of his pocket and pressed the only button on it -- a big red one. Out of a gray compartment under the basket which they'd sit inwhile traveling, a hatch opened. Two more hands shot out of the compartment and headed straight for me.

"O-kay. You've done enough harm," I said with anger and stepped forward. "Everyone, stand back."

The hands were coming in with tremendous speed. I moved my hands to behind me, then stiffened up, and thrusted them forward, right as Team Rocket's hands got there. Each hand was twice the size of my own, though the force behind them left a lot to be desired. The hands were stopped cold.

"Wha...What?" James said.

"How...?" Jessie asked.

"Woah..." Iris and Ash both said. Iris continued, "How did you...how are you...doing that?"

The hands still pressed against my own. "Well, Iris," I told her, "Do you believe me now?"

She nodded. "I think maybe I can see it now."

I turned back to the trio. "Alright, Team Rocket. You'd better stay away from these people from now on."

Meowth wasn't convinced. "Oh yeah? Or you'll do what? I don't see you doing anything but standing there. Who cares if you can stop those hands? They're not on full throttle!" He took James's remote and pushed the button twice. The force of the hands doubled in power.

I laughed. "Is that all you've got?"

Meowth frowned. "Uhh...are you FOR REAL?"

"Meowth," James said. "Please tell me that's not the highest level of power we have this time..."

"Ehehe..." he put his paw behind his head. "I didn't plan on this happening. It's not like he's...OH NO!" He put his paw back down. "Remember what the twerpette said this morning that we laughed at?"

"Wait..." Jessie answered. "You...don't think..."

"Oh come now," James said. "Don't be ridiculous."

"Hey, kid," Meowth asked me. "What's your...name?"

"Timothy," I replied. "Timothy Stevens."

The trio froze. "No, you couldn't be!" James shouted. "You can't be!"

"But..." Jessie said. "He couldn't be that young, could he?"

James unconfortably answered, "I've...heard rumors that that..."SBL" Champion...is no older than the twerps!"

"Hunh!?" Meowth shouted. "No, that means...but why would someone like this guy be here at a time like this!?"

"Look," I cut in. "I get how you three are debating whether or not I'm the SBL Champion, and I get why it'd be confusing for that person to be this young or even be in this world in the first place, but...the fact of the matter is that I definitely am that person. And I'm done talking. Either you give me those Pokémon back now, or I'll take them back myself."

"Hmm..." James thought aloud. "Should we do as he says?"

Jessie growled. "Alright, look, I don't care if you're the president of the Team Rocket Fan Club! We never give in to anyone's demands!"

"Tch," I smirked. "You have a fan club?" I bit my lip, trying not to laugh and lose my focus.

"Enough!" James exclaimed. "Jessie's right! We never back down!"

"Well then get ready, because, like I said, I'm done talking."

I lit up my left hand with fire. Ash, Iris, and Cilan gasped in surprise, while the Team Rocket trio gasped in fear.

"Oh man," a worried Meowth said. "But...that's not fair! This thing ain't fireproof!"

"Too bad," I said back. The hand pressing on my left hand exploded. Its arm retracted a bit and laid down, having no way to stay up. I was free to smash the other mechanical hand with my still-flaming one. It blew up with ease.

The trio was stunned. I wasted no time and raced toward the leftward Pikachu. My logic was simple: Pikachu was the Pokémon that scared Espeon and Umbreon away, so I'd rescue it first.

"Oh, no you don't!" Meowth yelled. He pressed the button again and two more hands appeared.

I jumped above one and ducked under the other. They both continued straight and slammed the ground hard. I jumped again, over top Team Rocket and to the hand holding Pikachu. The ten foot leap amazed Ash and Iris, to which Iris replied, "Woah! What a jump!"

My flaming fist crashed into the arm of the machine and cut it like butter. When I landed, I reacted in an instant to turn and dive for Pikachu. A perfect catch.

"You okay?" I asked Pikachu as I shielded it from the debris.

I looked down and it nodded, saying, "Pi-ka...chu."

I placed Pikachu on the ground and told it to go to Ash. Pikachu began running, and so I turned to Axew and dashed toward it. The two hands from earlier pulled themselves out from the ground and lunged to me again. I stopped running and faced them. They were close enough together that I blocked them both with just my right arm; my left hand was used to obliterate them with one fiery punch each.

"Hey!" Meowth shouted. "Those things ain't cheap ya know!"

"It's not my fault that you three decided to show up," I said as I continued on. Another jump and a fiery punch into the arm of Axew's capturer, and Axew was freed. I dove for Axew, caught it, and told it to go back to Iris.

The trio jumped into the basket of their Meowth balloon.

"I suggest a retreat," James said to the two.

"Hmm...wait!" Jessie said. "Let's see if he can handle our Pokémon..."

"Hmhmm, great idea," James said snobbly. "He may be able to handle our mechanical hands, but let's see him deal with our Pokémon."

"Yeeaaah," Meowth said with an over-emphasized New York City accent. "It's not like he's a Pokémon or any---"

Loud sounds of static and malfunctioning machinery stopped their conversation. Ash yelled out to me and told me to get out of there. Knowing that he likely knew something I didn't, I ran toward him and the others.

"Meowth!" Jessie shouted. "Hurry up and get the jetpacks!"

"I can't..." he said back.

"Why not!?"

"Because...you told me we wouldn't need them this time."

"Well, Meowth, you know how Jessie can be with giving directions!" James exclaimed.

"What was that?" Jessie said with an ominous tone.

"Oh, uhh, never mind that, Jess!"

Meowth smiled with sarcasm. "OK, you two, you ready for a real throwback?"

A Pokémon randomly popped out behind the trio. It was a light-blue blob in the shape of a grounded punching bag with four spherical blobby "feet," eyes shaped like less than and greater than symbols, a black rounded tail with wide-open eyes, rectangular arms, and a squiggly upper lip. Some of its blobbly skin hung from the top of its head to behind it. The odd Pokémon, which I also remembered from Smash Bros., shouted its name while touching its head with its right arm. "Woooobbufffff-et!"

With that, the balloon and all of its trimmings erupted in a fiery explosion. The force was so great that the Team Rocket trio and their Wobbuffet were launched up into the sky. As they flew, they simultaneously shouted out "We're blasting off again!!" and Wobbuffet shouted its name once more. Wherever they were sent to, it was far from us.

Smoke cleared to reveal a pile of balloon fragments and remnants of the various metal contraptions.

"Oh man!" I ran my hand along my forehead and some of my hair. "Did I...overdo it?"

Cilan and Iris didn't know how to respond, though Ash was unnaturally calm.

"Huh, they haven't done that in a while," Ash laughed. "But, heheh, nah, they used to do that all the time. They'll be fine." Pikachu nodded and agreed with nervous laughter. "Pi-hi-ka chu..."

"But..." Iris began. "How did you..."

"What?" I asked. "The fire thing?"

"Well, yeah," Ash continued. "And that jump..."

"Well, you see," I said to them. "I told you yesterday that I don't really know how I do what I do, but that was...just me being modest, I guess." I paused, trying to decide if I should continue. "But...I've trained over the course of almost a year and a half to do these things and more. The thing is...Mario and Luigi taught me most of it."

"Mario and Luigi?" Cilan asked with a hint of excitement.

"Yeah, it's a long story of training and difficult tests, but they did."

"Wow, I knew you'd known them since before the SBL tournament, but I didn't know they taught you all that..."

"Yep, they did." I would have explained further, but I took quick note of the mess. "Okay...so...what do we do with all this rubble?"

"The police usually comes and cleans it up," Cilan answered.

"Yeah," Iris continued. "They've been after the main organization of Team Rocket for forever, so they don't mind it if they can get some clues to where the headquarters is."

"Huh," I said blankly. "So...are Pikachu and Axew okay?"

Both Pikachu and Axew, which were back in their usual positions on Ash's shoulder and halfway inside of Iris's hair, raised an arm and essentially said yes with their names.

"Alright, so...should we just go ahead and get back to what we were doing?" Normally I'd help with the cleanup, but Cilan then assured me that Nurse Joy would likely call in the necessary authorities to handle the situation. I left it alone after hearing this, and we all continued on to the building where I'd get my Pokémon.

Ash held out his tightened fist with anticipation. I almost rolled my eyes at his over-excited pose, though I couldn't help but wonder if I might end up acting the same way. The longer we waited, the more I could not.

* * *

We reached the comparatively massive orange building. Ash mentioned it as being "Professor Juniper's lab."

"Professor?" I asked.

"She's an expert on Pokémon," Cilan answered.

"A 'Professor,' huh?" My experiences made me respect that title.

The glass doors slid open automatically. I looked inside with overwhelming joy. I knew that, once I walked in, my journey as a Pokémon Trainer would begin.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:28 pm
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Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:36 pm
Posts: 933
Location: Sinnoh Route 228
Country: United States (us)
Gender: Male
MGN Username: Goombario64
Currently Playing: SSB4
Chapter 4 is done! Sorry for the wait, been a bit busy lately.
Chapter 4 - The Journey Begins: show
"Woah," I said to myself. I didn't expect this professor's lab to have so much space inside. A 20-foot ceiling; a doorway on the ground floor 30 feet directly ahead; and a staircase on either side of the room, both leading to a room on the second floor, was what awaited us. Metallic gray was the floor's color, with the walls being white and the staircases' railings being orange-red.

The doors shut behind us, and a moment later, a woman walked through the doorway straight ahead. She had light brown hair which was short in the areas that hair would normally come down, but on top of her head, her hair was fashioned in such a way as to remind me of whipped cream, a thought which led me to think, "I guess I'm gonna have to get used to weird hair styles..." She wore a white shirt and a short skin-tight green skirt, as well as a white lab coat with a blue tint. Red kite-shaped earrings and red and white shoes completed her look.

"Oh, hello," the woman said. "Oh, Ash! And Cilan and Iris! I thought you three left already?"

"We did," Ash answered. "But we're back."

"You see, professor," Cilan continued. "There's a new trainer here, ready to get his first Pokémon."

"Oh, I see," she replied, turning to me. She walked forward. "Hello, my name is Juniper -- Professor Juniper, that is. Who might you be?"

"Timothy," I answered.

"Well then, it's nice to meet...wait. You look...familiar, somehow."

"Ahh," I said, somewhat embarrassed. "You must've watched the SBL tournament, then."

"No, I didn't have the time to watch that this year. I've...seen you somewhere else, but...no matter. What's important is that you get your Pokémon, right?"

"Right." I breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone so far had reacted differently to hearing what I accomplished that week, so there was no telling what the next reaction might be.

"Hmm...well, wait right there a moment, Timothy, and I'll bring you the three Pokémon you'll be choosing from." She turned and went back through the doorway she came from.

"Have you decided if you'll make your decision based on the Pokémon's types?" Cilan asked.

"I...no, I haven't," I told him. "Uhh, Cilan, would you mind telling me all of the types that Grass, Fire, and Water-types are...weak to? If you know them all, that is."

"I'd be happy to. Let me see..." He looked up. "Grass is weak against Bug, Fire, Flying, Ice, and Poison. Fire is weak to Ground, Water, and Rock, and Water is only weak to Grass and Electric. Although..." he looked back at me. "You should know that when this region's Fire-type starter evolves, it gains a second type of Fighting, making it weak to Flying and Psychic while becoming neutral to Rock."

"Oh," I said, taking it all in. "I...didn't know Pokémon could have two types."

"They can," Cilan confirmed, "though not all of them do."

"I'm not sure I caught everything Cilan just said," Ash said. "But... any Pokémon can become strong, no matter how many types have the advantage." Pikachu raised its arm and agreed, proudly saying "Pika pi-ka chu."

"I know," I assured Ash. "I just wanted to know the weaknesses ahead of time -- just so I'd be ready for whatever comes."

"Timothy's got a good point," Iris said to Ash.

"Right," Cilan agreed. "It's smart for him to learn the potential types his first Pokémon will be weak to before he becomes a trainer."

"Yep," I said to the three. "Something Mario and Luigi taught me -- know your enemy."

A voice broke the conversation. "I'm back!" Professor Juniper walked back in, pushing a double-decker, metal, four-wheeled, silvery-gray cart with three un-minimized Poké Balls -- sitting a foot or two apart from each other -- on top.

Juniper brought the cart up to a few feet from me, and then turned it sideways to make it perpendicular to me. She stood on the other side of the cart and grabbed the Poké Ball that was furthest to my left.

"You'll be choosing from these three Pokémon," she happily proclaimed. "First up," she said as she threw the ball up into the air, "Snivy, a Grass-type!"

The ball opened mid-air. A blast of white light poured out and onto the table, accompanied by a Kuffff--ssseeeooww--shwwoyyy--pshh! sound. The light faded and revealed the Pokémon called Snivy.

Snivy was a thin, mostly green snake-like Pokémon. It was not much taller than a foot, and had a long pointed snout which took up essentially its entire face -- the snout began from the top of its head. Its eyes were red with a white background, and were surrounded by a yellow marking which curved down and went to Snivy's neck. From either side of its neck sprouted what would be best described as yellow, crescent-shaped leaves, which both curved in the opposite direction of where Snivy faced.
A yellow line ran down its back and ended at its tail. The end of Snivy's tail easily resembled a leaf of poison ivy, and had three points to it. Snivy's short, skinny, green arms had three small, pointy fingers, while its short, pointy legs had no toes at all. Its legs and much of its underside were cream-colored; the area of Snivy which contained its small mouth and the bottom half of its snout was of the same cream coloring. Two thin horizontal black lines ran along the underside of Snivy, near its neck.

Juniper caught the Poké Ball (which seemed to jump right back into her hand) shortly after it opened. She then placed it in front of Snivy and picked up the Poké Ball in the middle. She threw it up into the air, stating, "Next, is Tepig, a Fire-type!" The ball opened with the same light as before, and Tepig stood firmly on the table.

Tepig was a mainly orange pig-like Pokémon, and was about a foot tall. The top of its head was a deep dark brown, turning immediately into orange after reaching its light-red oval nose. Its oval eyes sat halfway in the dark brown coloring and halfway in the orange. Tepig's eyes were black with white pupils and a white background around the colored area in its eyes. Despite looking like a pig, its dark brown ears were long and thin, and were positioned much like a rabbit's ears.
Continuing from the lower part of Tepig's face, its upper back and its upper underside were orange. Its lower back, its rear, and its lower underside were dark brown. Tepig's tail was thin, curly, and black, with a light-red sphere at the end. Its front legs were orange and had rounded dark brown hooves, while its hind, toe-less legs were solid orange.

The professor caught Tepig's Poké Ball, laid it in front of Tepig, and threw the last one upward. "And finally," she stated with affirmation, "Oshawott, a Water-type!" Oshawott shot out like the other two, and stood timidly.

Oshawott was a sea otter-like Pokémon, and was about the height of Snivy. Its head was white, with blue conical ears that were wide and did not stick out much. Its oval eyes had white pupils and were entirely black otherwise. Each of its cheeks had three black freckles which formed a triangle.
Oshawott's round body was a greenish ocean blue, with said body's fur forming bubble shapes near Oshawott's neck. Its wide, stubby, fingerless arms were white, while its flipper-like feet with three toes were dark blue. Its tail was dark blue as well, and was essentially a tail fin. Attached to its stomach was what I'd discover to be Oshawott's signature, cream-colored scallop, known specifically as a "scalchop" due to its use as a weapon.

Juniper caught and placed Oshawott's Poké Ball in front of it. "All right then," she said to me. "Take your time and choose carefully."

I walked closer to less than an arm's length from the table, and examined each Pokémon. I thought long and hard as I peered back and forth from one to the other. Snivy would have the hardest time, having five weaknesses. Tepig would end up having four, but with it being a Fire/Fighting type, it would fit my own abilities to a tee. Oshawott only had two types to worry about, making it just as good of a choice. After a few more moments passed, I stated, "I've made my decision."

"Hmm, okay," Juniper said. "Go on and pick the Poké Ball belonging to your choice."

"Right," I nodded.

Arms folded, I eyed the three of them one by one once more. Each of the three starters glared intently at me, seeming as though they had a physical need to be picked. I then stared closer at Tepig. It stared back at me and then closed its eyes happily, saying, "Tep-ig Tep-ig." I turned and looked at Oshawott. It shyly looked at me, and then managed to say, "Osh...a-wott!" Seconds apart, I faced Tepig, then Oshawott, then Tepig, then Oshawott, and then Tepig.

I unfolded my arms and reached out with my left hand. I moved my hand back and forth between the vicinity of Tepig's Poké Ball and Oshawott's. I could sense the two's anxiety and elevating impatience.

I snatched up the appropriate Poké Ball and stated, "I choose Snivy."

"What?" Iris gasped. "I thought...you'd choose Tepig? 'Cause of your...umm, well..."

"Because of my abilities?" I asked.

"Yeah, that. It...just would've made more sense."

"I agree," Cilan said. "A Fire and soon-to-be Fighting type would be the perfect match for someone with your...skills."

"You'd think so," I answered.

Juniper laughed. "Would you all mind telling me what you're talking about?"

"Heh, never mind that," I told her. "It's a long story."

"But...why'd you choose Snivy, anyway?" Iris asked.

"I'll tell you all later," I replied.

"Well," Juniper cut in. "Let's continue. Timothy, that Poké Ball in your hand is, of course, something which you can carry your Snivy around with. And...you'll need these, as well." Still standing on the opposite side of the cart, she reached down to the bottom table of the cart and picked up a blue-and-red 6" by 4" box which was two inches deep, containing five minimized Poké Balls organized in the shape of a pentagon.

From my point of view, Juniper then came around the right side of the cart. She handed me the box, saying, "These Poké Balls can be used to catch wild Pokémon to add them to your team." Juniper smiled and continued. "I'll let Ash and his friends teach you how to do that. They're more than capable."

I held on to the box with my right hand. "Right, I figured. So..." I looked down at Snivy, then at its Poké Ball in my other hand, and back over to Juniper. "How do I...use this thing?"

"Simple. Just point the white button that's in the middle of the Poké Ball at Snivy, tell your Snivy to 'return,' and that's that."

"Really? It's that easy?"

"Mmhmm. Why don't you give it a try?"

"Okay." I rotated the ball and pointed the button at Snivy. "All...right. Snivy, return."

Immediately, a red beam an inch wide shot out of the button and hit Snivy, joined by a simultaneous sound of tssss--sheeeeowwowoww. Snivy transformed into a red silhouette of itself in a flash. A second later, Snivy's silhouette was sucked into the ball, as if the beam moved in reverse. During this, the sound of ffsssss--thssss--eowww occurred, followed by puffsh! when Snivy finished returning to its Poké Ball. A red light appeared on the button after Snivy was completely inside. Another second or two passed, and the red light faded away.

"Now," Juniper said as I looked back up at her, "Press the button, and the ball will shrink so you can fit it in your pocket."

I gazed at the red-and-white ball in my hand. "Snivy," I thought. "You're with me now." I followed her directions and the ball did exactly as she said. I put it away in my left pocket.

Juniper took Tepig's Poké Ball and returned it to its Poké Ball, much like I returned Snivy. She then did the same with Oshawott, and placed the two Poké Balls back on top of the cart.

"There is one more thing I need to give you," Juniper stated.

"Oh. What's that?" I asked.

She turned right, crouched down, and grabbed an object from the lower table of the cart. She stood back up, turned leftward, and handed the object to me.

"This is called a 'Pokédex,'" she told me.

Holding it with my left hand, I examined it. The Pokédex's overall shape resembled a smart phone. The top half contained a screen which was touch-sensitive, surrounded by dark gray, which was the object’s main color. The bottom half held an entirely red Poké Ball symbol (aside from the dark gray line going through its middle and the white button at its center), tilted clockwise at a 45 degree angle.

"A Poké...'dex?'" I asked.

"Mmhmm," she answered. "It's a device which will tell you a lot about the Pokémon you catch, as well as those which you encounter along the way."

"Oh, so it's...like an encyclopedia of Pokémon?"

"Oh, my!" Juniper said. "I...that's exactly what it is! Good guess, Timothy."

"Heh, thanks," I answered. My quick-learning skills were still as sharp as ever.

"Well," Juniper smiled, "I'm afraid I have to get back to work. Things have been rather busy lately."

"That's okay," Cilan said. "We understand." While he said this, I placed the Pokédex in my right pocket.

"Good luck with whatever you're working on," Iris told Juniper. Axew further emphasized this by showing itself and saying, "Axew-Ax!"

Juniper thanked Iris, took a hold of the cart, and turned it to face toward the back room's doorway. "Give my regards to Professor Oak, Ash," she said, waving.

"I will," Ash assured her.

Juniper turned and began pushing the cart back to the room. In a few seconds, she was gone.

"So," Ash said with an easily detectable sense of anticipation. "Isn't this just awesome!? You've got your first Pokémon!"

"Yeah, I..." I said to him, then paused. "Hmm, well, what do you say we go back to the Center before we go anywhere. I want to make sure your Pikachu and Iris's Axew are okay."

"A good idea," Cilan said.

"We can get going to Accumula Town after that," I continued. "Plus, I'm sure Snivy could use a checkup as well."

The three nodded and said "Mmhmm." Ash then asked what I planned on doing after the checkup.

"Well," I answered, "I guess I'll challenge the nearest gym -- once I've trained Snivy some, of course. Where is the closest gym, anyway?"

"The closest gym is in Striaton City," Cilan said. "It's a city which isn't too far from Accumula Town."

"Oh, well...then, I guess we'll go there."

'You see," Ash said, "Cilan was one of the gym leaders there."

"What?" I paused. "That explains why he knows so much about types and whatnot. Huh..."

"That, and I'm a Pokémon Connoisseur," Cilan stated.

"Con...ah...sue-er?" I thought for a moment and recalled, "Wait...that's a French word...but pronounced...differently?"

"Oh, I didn't know you spoke Kalosic."

I shook my head. "Heh, umm...you wanna...explain that?"

"He really doesn't know much about this world..." Iris said, feeling sorry for me.

Cilan laughed. "That's understandable. Timothy," he said to me. "Kalos is another region of the Pokémon World, like Unova. You would consider it...like France, I suppose."

"Ahh, I see," I said. "So...if you're a connoisseur...of Pokémon, then you must know a lot about Pokémon, right?"

"Exactly," Cilan confirmed.

From my second language of French, I knew a connoisseur was someone who is an expert in something, usually relating to fine arts or food.

"Well, I think we should head back now," I stated. "I don't want to wait too long and have to stay the night again before we get to Accumula Town."

"Yeah," Ash happily replied. "The sooner we get back to the Center, the sooner you can really get your journey going!"

Cilan and Iris agreed, and the three let me walk out first. The doors slid open as before. We left the lab, took a right, and headed straight for the Center.

* * *

"Nurse Joy!" I called out when we walked inside the Pokémon Center. I then fast-walked up to the desk.

Joy answered my call with, "Oh, you all are back. How can I help you?"

"I'd like you to check up on Ash's Pikachu and Iris's Axew, just in case. And...also..." I reached into my left pocket and pulled Snivy's Poké Ball out. "Could you take a look at my Snivy, too?"

"Sure, I'd be happy to."

I handed the ball to her, and then she noticed the box of Poké Balls I was holding. "Do you have anything to carry those in?"

"Well, I...have my pockets," I answered. "Hmm, if you had a teleporter, there is one thing which I could use. It, well, it's complicated. It’s smaller than a minimized Poké Ball, but it would fit everything, believe me."

"What?" Iris said as she walked closer with Ash and Cilan. "How could that...whatever it is, fit all of that?"

"Eheh," I said, knowing how ridiculous it sounded. "Like I said, it's complicated."

Nurse Joy had a confused look, and said, "I don't know how that would be possible, but there is something you could do. Even though Pokémon Centers don't get a Pixelator until three months after opening, they do get a Poké Ball transporter first thing, for emergencies. Perhaps you could get that object sent here with that transporter?"

"Oh, that'd be great!" I told her.

"Okay, then," she stated. "Let me go and give these three Pokémon to my Pokémon assistants, and then I'll see what I can do."

Nurse Joy reached down into a shelf behind the front desk and picked up a white Poké Ball tray. She placed Snivy's Poké Ball firmly inside one of the six slots, and had Pikachu and Axew sit on the rest of the tray.

She then turned and carried the three Pokémon through the Nintendo logo door. It swayed back and forth after she was in the room, much like the double doors leading to the hallway. Moments later, Nurse Joy reappeared without the tray, and asked me if I knew anyone to call.

I said in return, "Oh, wait. That's okay. I can call him myself. Thank you, though."

Before Ash, Iris, or Cilan got a chance to ask me who I was going to call, I turned rightward and passed in front of them. I went and sat in one of the red-cushioned booths at the far right of the Center's lobby. I laid the box of Poké Balls on the table and promptly pulled out my 3DS. When it powered on, I spoke the command, "3DS, call E. Gadd."

The top screen showed static for a few moments. The static soon disappeared and was replaced by Professor E. Gadd. All I could see was his face, as usual. An elderly, round-headed man, he had the usual grayish-green glasses with nearly hypnotic swirls on them, as well as being bald -- aside from his iconic, thin bit of white hair sticking straight up from the center of the top of his head.

E. Gadd addressed me with his usual gibberish. "Ordoh? Ho-oh! Dofidsn! Zsed ee biqmoba!"

My 3DS gives me a text box on the top screen (translating what he's saying in parentheses), but thankfully, I had already learned his bizarre language. He said, "Hello? Oh! Timothy! What a surprise!"

I replied with, "Hey, E. Gadd! How are you?"

He answered with, "Awhawhaw, Oaf voca. Zsaqa'xa nui saac ivv du? (Hahaha, I'm fine. Where've you been off to?)"

"E. Gadd," I said to him. "You know I understand you and everything, but...do you really have to keep talking like that? I mean, is it a physical need for you to sound like you're insane?"

He chuckled once more, and said, "Zagg, od zuigv'd sa fa ov O jojv'd, viz zuigj od? (Well, it wouldn't be me if I didn't, now would it?)"

"Heheh," I laughed, nervously. "No, I guess not. But...E. Gadd..."

"Nab? (Yes?)"

Ash, Cilan, and Iris reached the booth by now.

"Could you...maybe...send item code TC to me?" I asked.

"TC?" he replied. "Biqa, zsaqa du? (Sure, where to?)"

"To Nuvema Town, in the Pokémon World."

"Oyamaa! Suku suku, O bimmuba nui voceggn zacd dasaqa, qoysd? (Woah! And so, I suppose you finally went there, right?)"

"What do you mean...'finally?'"

"Ohoho, vaxaq fovj dsed. Ogg bavj od -- dsed ob, dasa 'TC' -- ov ee fufavd. (Hehehe, never mind that. I'll send it -- that is, the 'TC' -- in a moment.)"

"Who are you talking to?" Iris asked.

Cilan spoke up before I could answer. "That voice...and speech pattern. That couldn't be...no, of course not, not him, that's ridiculous!"

"He's an old friend of mine," I said. "Or, well, old in the sense that I've known him for a while."

Gadd continued, "O ef ugj, erdieggn. Dsed ob ee verd, nee kvuz. Oaf vud ebsefaj, 'reiba od faevb Oaf bveqdaq! Suku suku, O uid-qevt nui! (I am old, actually. That is a fact, ya know. I'm not ashamed, 'cause it means I'm smarter! And so, I out-rank you!)"

I laughed. "Still as objective as ever..." I turned to the others. "His name," I said, "is Professor E. Gadd."

"Gah!" Cilan shouted in surprise. "I thought he sounded familiar!"

"What language is he speaking?" Iris asked, with disapproval of how E. Gadd talked.

I answered with a clever smile, "I like to call it...Gaddish."

"Gadd...ish?" she repeated.

"Yeah, it's something E. Gadd came up with to talk to others in a secret code and all that, but..." I laughed. "Now he finds it hard to not talk in that language."

"Lioda dasa meqajorefacd, eh? (Quite the predicament, eh?)" E. Gadd said humorously.

"It sounds so...weird," Iris responded.

I laughed. "I know it does, at first anyway. It actually does translate from English pretty easily, but...it's a real challenge to pronounce things right. It took me a good month or two to fully understand him. The problem is, he keeps making up words to go along with it. It's...just..."

Gadd continued, "Wibd du evvun nui. (Just to annoy you.)"

"Yeah that seems about right," I laughed again.

"You understand that?" Ash asked, not convinced.

"Yep. It's not as hard as you think. Once you get a hold of the code decipher that explains how the language works, it's just like an advanced form of Pig Latin, or something like that."

"Apramd, (Except,)" E. Gadd stated proudly, "od duut dzacdn naeqb kavuq Bowser voyiqaj od uid. (it took twenty years before Bowser figured it out.)"

"What did he say?" asked Iris.

"Here," I told her, "I'll point the 3DS your way so you all can understand him." I turned it to face them. "Just read the text box."

When Cilan got the new view of the device, he instantly leaned in to see it closer. "A 3DS!?" He shouted with excitement. "That's what that is!?"

"Umm, yeah," I answered.

"I've only heard about these! I've never even seen one on T.V., let alone up-close!"

"Ohohoho!" E. Gadd said to Cilan. "Nui gota fen ocxac-douc? (You like my invention?)"

Cilan read the message and responded, "Why, yes! I can't believe such innovation is possible! It truly is remarkable how different it is from its predacessor!"

"Fen fen! (My my!)" Gadd replied. "Teetsay, bu firs tcuz-gek-ga xurekigeqn, du kuud! (Plus, so much knowlegable vocabulary, to boot!)"

"But, Cilan," I told him. "This 3DS is custom-made, so stuff like...well...this conversation, for example...wouldn't be possible with other 3DSes. Besides, its processing power is more than triple that of the Wii's." I leaned over to see E. Gadd. "E. Gadd," I began. "When do you think you can send that thing over?"

"Eb buuc eb O...(As soon as I...)" Gadd said as he leaned to the side, apparently reaching for something. "Hop-hoo! Suku suku, od-ob qae-jin, eckj...od bisui-gij ka dasaqa eckin barucj! (Success! And so, it is ready, and...it should be there any second!)"

"Okay, tha---" A repeating sound of schwee-schwee-schwee interrupted me. I got up and carried the 3DS with me, following the others, to see what the noise was.

To the right of the computer in the back-right corner behind Nurse Joy's desk, a metallic-gray, four-legged table had a hemispherical device sitting on top, which was colored in much of the same way as a Poké Ball. The device had four curved, gray legs to keep it balanced, with a black cord coming out from underneath. The cord went left and down, plugging into the outlet between the table and the computer. At its top-center, the device dipped inward in the shape of a smaller hemisphere, and at this time, the indentation glowed a bright white.

I went around the three and stepped forward. Still standing behind the counter, I looked closer. A cubical white object became evident inside the light. A moment later, the light blasted outward with dramatic presence, and then faded. Left behind was the object I desired, and seeing it, I opened the three foot mini-door and walked on through.

"What did he send you?" Iris asked.

"Well," I stated. "It's something that...hmm...that...is hard to describe, really. But it'll come in handy, for sure." I walked further and picked it up with my left hand, holding the 3DS in my right. "E. Gadd," I said as I turned to the 3DS. "Thanks. That was quick, even for you."

"Ho-oh! (Haha!)" he answered. Od zeb cudsocy, qaeggy. Od-ob fen ocxac-douc, evdaq egg. (It was nothing, really. It is my invention, after all.)"

"Oh, you invented a Poké Ball transporter?" I asked. "I...didn't know you ever made anything Pokémon related..."

"Awhawhawhaw!" he laughed. "Nee jojc'd dsoct O uc-gen zuq-taj oc voagb qagedocy, joj nui? Teetsay, nee tacuz, bufo gota fa zuigj yad kuqaj axacdieggn. (Ya didn't think I only worked in fields relating to the Mushroom World, did you? Plus, ya know, someone like me would get bored eventually.)"

"Hehe," I answered. "Right, I guess I just assumed you'd always stick with things I knew a lot about..."

"Come on," Iris moaned. "Why does he have to talk like that? He understands English, right?"

"Ehehe," I said, feeling nervous for E. Gadd's sake. "He just did so well with talking in that code that he couldn't stop." I turned to Gadd. "Uhh, E. Gadd, I'm gonna have to call you back sometime. We're...in a hurry."

"Din sidi. Oaf biqa nui zogg, fen-ka buucaq nui dsoct. (Okay. I'm sure you will, maybe sooner than you think.)"

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked.

"Ohohoho, nuigg baa. (Hehehe, you'll see.)" He paused as I gave him a once again confused look. He finished with "Bomb-pa! (Goodbye!)" and cut the connection.

"Well that...hmm..." I paused. "3DS," I said, "power down." In two seconds flat, it turned off. I shut the 3DS and placed it in my right pocket. I then exited the area of behind the counter and closed the door behind me.

"I didn't know you knew Professor E. Gadd, Timothy," Cilan said with a hint of jealousy.

"Well," I told him, "it's not really that big of a deal."

"What? I would think you'd be thrilled to have met him!"

"I was -- a lot. I was almost as excited to meet him as I was when I discovered the Mushroom World, especially since, by then, I knew he invented many more things than are shown in the games. But I guess I've been in the Mushroom World so much that things don't usually excite me like they used to."

"I see." Cilan paused, then continued. "What did he send you?"

I figured that I'd eventually end up showing the three anyway, so I opened my closed left hand, held it out for Cilan, Iris, and Ash to see, and said, "It's something that I carry around with me when traveling. And it can hold a lot more than you'd expect."

The item in question was an inch long on every side. It was a treasure chest, greatly resembling the treasure chests in the Super Mario Galaxy series. It had an overall light brown coloring; dark brown rims and edges; a curved top; and a thick dark brown stripe going straight up the center of the chest, continuing up and over the top, and ending at the bottom of the chest's back side. On either side of the chest was a circular, dark gray, metallic handle. The only difference between its outer appearance and the appearance of treasure chests in Super Mario Galaxy was its gold-colored lock. The lock itself wasn't a true lock, and instead could be snapped open by anyone and did not need a key. Aside from its lid, the chest was cubical.

Cilan immediately perked up. "Is that...a treasure chest from the Mario Galaxy series?"

My eyes widened and I raised an eyebrow. "Uhh, how did you know that?"

"Well," he stated proudly. "It just so happens that not only am I a Pokémon Connoisseur, but I am also a Video Game Connoisseur."

"Oh." I thought for a moment. "So, okay...that explains how you knew of E. Gadd's 'speech pattern,' and why you wanted to know more about what the Mushroom World was like."

"Mmhmm, exactly."

"What are you gonna do with that treasure chest?" Iris asked, not seeing its importance.

"It's actually not as complicated as I said it was," I answered, "---I don't think so, anyway. Here, I'll show you what it does."

I held out the mostly-wooden object with my left hand. I then curled my fingers inward, and immediately stretched them out to make my hand appear flat. The chest -- since I willed it to happen -- grew in size to nearly a foot long all around, accompanied by the sound Brddwling-Brddwliing-Brddwliiing!! -- the same sound that is heard in most Mario games when Mario or Luigi obtain a Super Mushroom. A small flash of red light also occurred.

Cilan, Iris, and Ash all gasped. "How...did you do that?" Cilan asked, obviously perplexed.

"I'll show you," I told him.

The front of the chest facing me, I reached with my right hand and snapped open the fold-over lock. It clicked, and the lid to the chest opened partially. I opened it fully, and as I did, an object popped out. It had a two-inch wide, cream-colored, hemispherical base, and a 4-inch wide, hemispherical, blue top, with three distinct white polka-dots -- one one either side, and one at the top-middle of the item's front. At the front of its base, two tiny, skinny, mainly black vertical-sitting eyes with white pupils sat, essentially staring at me. It was a Mini Mushroom.

I held the power-up up and over top of the lid, and turned it 180 degrees to face the others. I then told them, "This is how the treasure chest was so small. This foot-wide size is actually the chest's normal size, but with this Mini Mushroom, it instantly becomes small enough to fit in my pocket."

The three momentarily stared in awe.

I continued, "And..." I put the Mushroom back inside and picked up an object from inside the chest. "This chest holds lots of handy items." I held up the object for them to see. At that moment, it was only a square inch in size, but when I willed it to grow, it grew with the same effect as with the chest. Another Mini Mushroom appeared and dropped into the chest. The object was a baseball cap which was entirely blue, except for the three-inch-wide white circle at the middle of its front. Inside the circle was a blue letter "T." I went ahead and put the hat on, telling the three that it was what I always wore when away from home.

I closed the chest and locked it with my right hand. Using my left hand's fingers and a simple thought, I shrunk the chest down to its previous size of around a square inch, accompanied by the sound of dwii-dwiii-dwiiii! -- the same sound that is heard when a Mini Mushroom is used in the New Super Mario Bros. series. A light-blue light accompanied the surrounding area of the object as it shrunk. I then placed the minimized treasure chest into my right pocket.

The Nintendo door opened and Nurse Joy walked back in, with Pikachu, Axew, and Snivy (in its Poké Ball) all sitting on the white tray as before. I turned around to face her.

"I'm happy to report that all three of your Pokémon are doing just fine," she stated. Joy placed the tray on the counter, and Pikachu and Axew hopped down to the counter, then the floor, and then up to their usual places of Ash's shoulder and Iris's hair.

"Oh," Nurse Joy said. "Where did that box of Poké Balls go?"

"Oh yeah," I answered. "It's over there." I then turned and walked to the booth I sat in earlier and picked up the box. I thought to myself, "Do I really need my treasure chest for carrying these?" I decided to see if the five of them would fit into my empty left pocket. One by one, I stuck them inside. Thanks to the Mini Mushroom-infused material in my shorts, they shrunk a little and fit with room to spare. As for the box itself, I took out the chest, un-minimized it as before, opened it, and placed the box inside. I then closed the chest, re-minimized it, and put it back into my right pocket. The usage of the treasure chest took place within five short seconds.

"Woah," Ash said as he walked toward me. "You sure don't take long to do that."

"I'd guess you've used that often," Cilan continued and caught up to Ash, as did Iris.

I nodded. "Yep. I always bring that treasure chest when I plan on being gone from home for a while. You wouldn't believe how many times it's saved me."

"Saved you?" Ash asked.

"What do you mean?" asked Iris.

"Well," I said, "some things I have in it are...let's just say...helpful -- in times of danger. But...let's just hope it doesn't come to that."

"Hmm," Cilan said with uncertainty. He straightened up and continued, assuredly saying, "Right, I'm sure you've experienced a lot in your travels. If you don't want to reveal what is in there, though, we understand."

"Right," I answered. "So...should we get going?"

They all nodded. "Yeah, let's go!" Iris said.

"It's finally time for you to start your journey!" Ash proclaimed.

I quickly went around them and grabbed Snivy's Poké Ball from the white tray, which sat on the counter. I then pressed the button, minimizing it, and put it in my left pocket. Nurse Joy wished the four of us luck as I turned around to face the others. "Thanks," I told her, looking back over my shoulder.

"What're you gonna do about that messed up shirt?" Iris asked.

"Oh yeah..." I said in return. "I...wait one second." I raced leftward, took another left, and went though the double doors. I went into the room we stayed in before, which was still unlocked. In a matter of less than 15 seconds, I got the treasure chest out, un-minimized it, put it down, took out another solid blue shirt from a compartment inside, un-minimized the shirt, changed into it, minimized the tattered one, put it away into the compartment, closed the chest, minimized it, and put it in my right pocket.

I ran back out and into the lobby. "Okay," I told them, "I'm ready."

Iris responded with, "What…where...did..."

"I have some extra clothes in that treasure chest to use," I answered.

"Oh. Well, I don't see why it has to be the same exact shirt as before," she said with a displeased tone.

"What?" I replied. "I like blue."

Cilan laughed. "Yeah, we've noticed."

"Should we get going, though?" I asked, hoping for a quick yes.

They all nodded, and Ash said, "Yeah, what're we waiting for!"

I passed the three up and they quickly caught up to me. We walked out the sliding glass doors of the Pokémon Center, with Ash to my left, Cilan to my right, and Iris to the right of him.

We headed straight, heading for the path I'd come from the day before. Thoughts of adventure and anticipation continually flew around in my head. Another thought quietly waited for the perfect moment to be made known, a thought which would eventually haunt me. I happily walked with the three toward the exit of the town, not having any idea of what this journey would entail.



After you've read it, and only after you've read it, please read this:
WARNING, THERE ARE SPOILERS: show
My apologies if that "Gaddish" language contains any offensive words in an actual language. I only know English and a decent amount of French, so...try not to blame me, okay? Do let me know, though, so I can avoid it (if possible) in the future.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Sat Aug 30, 2014 3:11 am
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Location: Sinnoh Route 228
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Chapter 5 is done!
Chapter 5 - Road to Accumula Town: show
The yellowish dirt path ran thinly from the Pokémon Center, and gradually more than doubled in width by the time we reached Nuvema Town's exit. The exit was the edge of the woods, the very same edge where I saw the overwhelming simplicity of the town the day before.

The widened road stared at me, and I stared back. Cilan then referred to the path as "Unova's 'Route 1.'"

I nodded and quietly continued forward. The route was silent with no evidence of being inhabited. I noticed for the first time that the leaves on the trees were changing; some were turning orange, others yellow, and others red.

Ash stopped me for a moment, laughed his "Ehahaha" laugh, and said, "Isn't this exciting?"

"Yeah, I guess it is," I answered. I didn't want to let on just how excited I truly was, which struck me as odd, since I no longer kept to myself as much as I used to. I had no idea why at the time.

We each stepped past the edge of the foliage simultaneously. We walked and talked, with Ash, Iris, and Cilan going further into what it meant to be a Trainer. At some point roughly an hour after we'd embarked on the trip, I was asked by Ash if I wanted to "try it out."

I asked what he meant, and he replied, "I mean that we can try battling!"

"Battling?" I answered. "Oh, but what about...well...our Pokémon's health? Shouldn't we battle closer to a Pokémon Center or something?"

"You're a fast learner," Cilan said. "But, in this case, it wouldn't be a truly fierce battle. It'd be more of a...test battle."

"Oh, well, hmm..." I thought for a moment and turned to the left to face Ash as we were walking. "If that would be safe to do, I guess." I then realized what he was really asking me. Ash was challenging me to a battle. "Right," I said firmly, removing all doubt from my mind. "That's a great idea." I stopped walking.

Ash stopped as well, followed by Cilan and then Iris. Pikachu, sitting on Ash's shoulder, hopped off and onto the ground. "Pik-aa-chu!" it said with excitement.

"I'll referee if you like," Cilan said.

"Referee?" I answered and turned to him. "I...didn't know that was required."

"It isn't necessarily required," Cilan told me. "But in this case, with you being a new trainer, and with Snivy not having battled before, it'd be good for someone to be there to call off the match if it gets too intense."

"Oh." I paused, looked up, and then looked back down at Cilan. "Yeah, that makes sense." I turned to Ash. "Alright," I said, feeling competitive once more. "Let's do this."

* * *

Ash stood 20 feet from me. Iris sat on a convenient tree stump halfway between us and off to -- from my point of view -- the right side of the path, while Cilan stood between Ash and I on the left side.

Cilan looked at me, then Ash, and back to me, while saying, "Alright, now...You two ready?"

I nodded, and Ash tightened his fist. "Yeah!" he shouted. "We're ready!"

I laughed nervously. "Ash, don't expect too much."

Cilan laughed and said, "Well, at least you're not over-confident."

Iris then made a comment about Ash's "kid-like battling instincts," making me smile.

Ash ignored Iris and told his Pikachu, who stood next to him, to get ready. Pikachu ran out in front and prepared itself for battle, doing so with a simple statement of "Pika-pi-kaa-chu!"

"Okay, now, Timothy," Cilan said. "Go on and bring out Snivy."

I reached into my left pocket and selected a Poké Ball. I lifted it out and looked at it intently. I threw it up into the air, excitedly waiting for Snivy to appear so I could begin my first Pokémon battle.

But...nothing happened! It landed back in the same hand that threw it, appearing to be completely useless.

"Uhh," I said, putting my left, Poké Ball-holding hand behind my head. "I...don't actually know which Poké Ball's which."

Iris moaned. "How could you not know which one is Snivy's?"

"Well to be fair," Cilan answered, managing to hold back his laughter. "They all do look alike." He turned to me. "But, once you've been a trainer for a while, it usually becomes an instinct."

"An instinct?" I replied. "You mean like...I'll just know which one is Snivy's?"

"Basically, yes -- as well as what other Pokémon you may catch."

I began to ask exactly who it was that created Poké Balls in the first place (as I had a sneaking suspicion as to who it might be), but, seeing Ash's still-fired-up pose, I decided to wait. I put my hand back down and swapped the Poké Ball for another.

"Then...maybe this one?" I said as I threw it upward.

Once again, nothing. I caught it and glimpsed Iris rolling her eyes.

"Eheh," Ash said. "Maybe you should give him a break, Iris. He is new to this ya know."

"Hmm," she responded. "I guess you're right."

"Well," I said apologetically, and then switched the Poké Ball out for yet another one. I threw it upward, unsurely saying, "Third time's the charm?"

The ball opened mid-air and let out a liquid-like white light, accompanied by the same Kuffff--ssseeeooww--shwwoyyy--pshh! sound as when Professor Juniper called a Pokémon out. The light soon faded and left Snivy standing a few feet in front of me. I barely managed to catch the ball at that moment, due to my surprise of finally picking the right one. I then pressed the button -- minimizing it -- and then placed it in my right pocket, making sure that I'd know which one was Snivy's and which ones were empty.

"Heh, Whaddya know?" I said, thinking of the phrase I used. "It worked."

"Snivy-snivy?" A voice said from below. Snivy was turned to me but was pointing with its right arm to Pikachu.

"Uhh," I said plainly. "I...I'm not sure what you're asking. If it's even a question, that is."

"I think Snivy is asking if it's about to battle Pikachu," Cilan said.

"Oh. Is that...true, Snivy?"

Snivy turned about-face, back to Pikachu. It proclaimed, in a rather loud tone, "Sni-vy Sni-vy!"

"Woah." I said. "Well, someone's ready to go..."

"I suggest that you check Snivy's moves with your Pokédex," Cilan stated.

"I can do that? Oh, wait..." I thought momentarily of E. Gadd's numerous inventions. "Yeah, I guess that technology shouldn't surprise me. Okay, I'll try it."

I pulled out the device from my right pocket and held it at chest level. "So...now what do I do?"

"Simply point the Pokédex at Snivy and press the button on the Poké Ball symbol below," Cilan answered, "just as if it were a regular Poké Ball and you were changing its size."

"Oh, I see." I did as he said, and sure enough, on the screen above the symbol appeared a list of Snivy's moves and their types right next to their names. The only moves it knew were Normal-type, and the Normal type's name itself on the list was boxed in a small rectangle of light gray. The moves Snivy knew were as follows: "Tackle" and "Leer."

"Okay, so...I get what Tackle is, but...I'm not sure what Leer is..."

Snivy sighed, saying, "Sni-sni-vy..."

"Eheh," I nervously said to Snivy. "You're gonna have to give me some time to get used to all this."

It sighed once more, leading Cilan to say, "Well, it appears Snivy...might not like that. But...to answer your question, Leer is a move that lowers the opponent's Defense -- its Physical Defense, that is. Moves like Tackle will do a little more damage after it is used than it would without, but moves like Thunderbolt would do the normal amount of damage, since those are Special Attacking moves."

"Oh. I didn't know this could get so...complicated."

"It is, but you shouldn't have to worry about that right now. This is only your first battle after all, and even then, a lot of this is learned through experience."

"Cilan's right," Ash spoke up. "But...even though I didn't understand all that Cilan said, I do know that you don't need to know all of that to be good at battles."

"Yeah," I answered. "I didn't think so. But still..." I paused, looking down at Snivy. "When we get to Accumula Town, I think I'd like to do some research on all this."

"Sounds like a good idea," Cilan said.

"Should we start?" I asked.

"Yeah, let's go!" Ash shouted.

"Right." I began thinking back to what little I saw in the anime and in the small amount of time I spent playing Pokémon: Blue Version. One fact always stood out as undisputed: in order for the Pokémon to attack, you must call out a move for it to use.

"Okay, you ready, Ash?"

"Yeah, we're ready!" he answered, followed by Pikachu, which happily stated, "Pi-kaa-chu!"

"Alright, me too."

"Then, begin!" Cilan proclaimed, raised an arm, and then lowered it quickly.

"Right," I replied.

I remained silent for a moment, maybe two, maybe three. I don't know. Here I was, someone who tried and rejected anything Pokémon-related all his life. And now I took part in it, in the actual world, in the world that the games and anime were based off of, in everything I never thought I could spend my free time on. I not only acknowledged the world's importance, but was now contributing to its unique, home-grown concept. Quite literally, and quite impossibly, I'd become a Trainer.

A wave of unrelenting stimulation came over me. "Snivy!" I called out, even though it stood only a few feet from me. I drew my left arm in and over to my right arm, and then pointed it to Pikachu. "Use Leer!"

Snivy closed its eyes while it was still facing in Pikachu's direction. It then opened them, and out shot two red figures of light, shaped in the same way as Snivy's nearly cresent-shaped eyes. The two lights hit Pikachu with remarkable speed and accuracy, covering it in a red glow.

Pikachu flinched for a moment as it received the effect. The redness faded, and Ash then called out, "Okay, Pikachu! Use Quick Attack!"

Pikachu quickly stated, "Pikaaaa..." and rushed forward at a tremendous pace; a white trail of light followed closely behind it as it dashed across the dirt of the path, as did bits of yellow dust. It kept repeating "Pi-pi-pi-pi" as it ran.

Snivy darted straight ahead. "Wait! Snivy!" I yelled. "I didn't say to go!"

It heard me, yet continued. Snivy and Pikachu headed directly for each other, neither one willing to give in to the other's attack. At the last second, Snivy jumped up and over Pikachu, swiftly dodging the move. Small bits of dust followed Snivy's jump, almost getting into Pikachu's eyes. Snivy landed, slid a few feet, and then turned 180 degrees instantly. It paused, observing the situation.

Pikachu stopped moving and turned around as well, ending the white light and the move it was using. "Pika?" it said in response to Snivy's action.

"That Snivy sure is fast," Cilan said.

"Yeah," Iris said with concern. "But...Timothy didn't say for it to dodge or anything..."

"Hmm," I said, holding my chin with my left hand. "It used Leer when I said to, so...maybe..." I straigtened up. "Okay, Snivy!" I called out. "Use Tackle!"

Snivy raced toward Pikachu, which stood around five feet from me. Snivy tilted its head in downward and to the left as it ran, putting all its power and strength into the side of its head. Before Pikachu ever got the chance to dodge or do anything to defend itself, Snivy rammed into it with considerable force, causing Pikachu to be launched toward me.

I jumped up and to the right, barely dodging Pikachu's flung self. The yellow mouse landed and slid momentarily, and when it stopped sliding, it got up.

"Woah," I said, still grasping what I'd seen. "That's some speed...and power, too."

"I don't think I've ever seen a Snivy move that quickly," Cilan mentioned. "Not one that just started out, that is."

"Eruuah," Ash grunted. "Looks like that Snivy is tougher than I thought...Pikachu!" He lunged his arm out to give the order. "Use Iron Tail!"

Pikachu's tail lit up with a stunning white light. It ran a bit and then jumped up above Snivy. Pikachu rotated 360 degrees horizontally and flung its tail outward as it did. It then did a half front-flip and positioned its glowing tail to be curved out in front of it.

"Iron Tail?" I responded. "Uhh, quick, Snivy! Do---"

Snivy jumped away before I could say to dodge. Pikachu's tail slammed the ground with impressive force, so much so that I could practically feel the ground shake. The light dimmed and dissappeared within a second or two.

"Okay, Snivy! Use Tackle again!"

It darted forward, and since it was only a few feet from Pikachu, it happened faster than I could perceive. Pikachu was launched once more, and this time, it took a bit longer to get back up.

"Yes!" I found myself fist pumping the air. "This is...so exciting," I thought out loud. "Alright!" I called out to Snivy. "Tackle, once more!"

Snivy darted forward and, instead of ramming Pikachu as before, it jumped up and nearly appeared to hover for a moment. Snivy then flipped itself around to where its tail curved up to its head, and it said, "Sni...vyyy!" Its tail smashed into Pikachu with an almost terrifying presence.

"I think that was Slam!" Cilan stated, surprised.

"Slam?" I answered. "Like...a move called 'Slam?'"

"Yes, exactly."

I pulled the Pokédex out and checked by pressing the button. Indeed, below the previous list of Tackle and Leer was a move labeled as "New!" which read "Slam." It was a Normal-type attack, just like the other two moves.

"Woah!" I said to Snivy. "You learned Slam, just like that?"

Dust cleared and revealed Pikachu to still appear ready for battle; Snivy promptly hopped off and away from it. It looked at me with a hint of disapproval, and said, "Snnni-vy, Sni-vy..."

"Yeesh, what's your problem?"

"Sni-sni vy vy sni-vy!"

"Umm, heh, sorry Snivy, but that don't do me any good. I don't have a clue what you mean."

"I think, if I had to guess..." Cilan said. "I don't think Snivy approves of your...lack of experience."

I laughed. "Heh, thanks for putting it gently." I looked down at Snivy. "Snivy...look, you're just gonna have to get used to that. And plus, like I said earlier, I'm gonna look into all this later. I'm sure a little research and a little more practice will get me to a point where I know what I'm doing. Just please, be patient, if you can."

It folded its arms, closed its eyes, shook its head, and said with an attitude, "Snivy...sni sni sni-vy."

"Ehehe," I replied. "I guess that's not good enough." Eyes closed, I paused. "Well, whatever, we're winning this so far, so---"

It cut me off, saying, "Snivy-sni-sni-vy!"

"What now?" I folded my arms as well.

Iris laughed nervously. "It doesn't look like Snivy's too happy with you."

"How about we just get back to our battle, Snivy?" I asked.

"Sni-vy, snivy..." It answered with an uncaring tone. It then shrugged and held out its arms on either side of it.

"I don't get it. You battled really hard earlier, and now you don't seem to care? Hmm...well, no matter. Snivy!" I pointed over to Pikachu, which had already run back over to where Ash was. "Use Tackle!"

It dashed right on cue toward Pikachu. Ash then shouted, "Pikachu! Thunderbolt!" and pointed his arm upward.

Pikachu yelled "Pikaaa....CHUUUU!!!" and fired a beam of pure, golden-yellow electricity, exactly like the beam which had scared Umbreon and Espeon away the day before.

I reacted by saying, "Snivy! Dodge it with Slam!"

Snivy jumped, but it was too late. The thunderous attack hit its mark dead-on, entirely engulfing Snivy in an electric aura.

Snivy landed soon after being blown back a bit from the attack. Ash told Pikachu to stop, and the outpouring of energy ceased. Once the tail-end of the beam reached Snivy and did its damage, Snivy was left standing in the same place. Sparks of electricity rushed along the outside of it, and within a few moments, the sparks ended. Snivy immediately fell to the ground.

"Snivy!" I said as I ran to it. I knelt down beside it. I continued, saying, "Sni---" but stopped and gasped shortly. I saw Snivy using its arms to try and push itself back up. "Snivy, wait. Don't -- you've done enough."

It gave me a hateful yet desperate look. "Sni...vy!" it told me. I knew instantly that Snivy wanted to continue.

"No, Snivy." I put my left hand on its head and petted it gently. "You fought really hard, and you even learned a move in your first battle. That's incredible all on its own. Please, Snivy. Take a break."

Ash, Cilan, and Iris all came over to meet us.

"That was an excellent first battle," Cilan said.

"Thanks," I answered. "I...really don't know how I did it."

"Well, for one thing," Iris said. "Snivy did some of the thinking for you."

"Yeah," I laughed. "I guess Snivy was just doing its own thing, which I understand."

"You still did great," Ash added. "You acted like you'd done this a bunch of times before." Pikachu came over from beside Ash and agreed, saying, "Pika-pika-chu!"

"Well...I don't know about---" A blur of red swooped in from my left and snatched Snivy up from under my hand, followed by another red blur which snatched Pikachu from the same direction; both of them were swiftly drawn into the foliage. I stood up, looked leftward, and saw a large cream-colored figure rising up out of the color-changing trees. It was Team Rocket's Meowth balloon. Standing in its basket was the two human members, with Meowth standing firmly on the edge.

"Team Rocket!" Ash, Iris, and Cilan said simultaneously.

"You three again?" I said, somewhat amused. "I thought you would've given up, with what happened last time and all."

"What a question, twerpish indeed!" Jessie proclaimed.

"The answer to come, when we feel the need!" James exclaimed.

The two of them jumped down from the balloon and landed promptly on the ground, just outside of the edge of the foliage.

I raised an eyebrow and listened.

"Bringing the blinding white light of evil into the future!" Jessie proudly stated.

"Thrusting the hammer of justice onto the black darkness of the universe!" James continued.

Meowth lowered the balloon down to where the four of us would later be walking to. He let it land, and then hopped off and join the other two. He shouted out as he landed, "Carving our names into the rock of eternity!"

"The fiery destroyer, Jessie!"

"And with thunderous emotion, I am James!"

"Wisest of the wise, I'm Meowth!"

All at once, the three exclaimed, "Now gather, under the name of Team Rocket!"

Their Wobbuffet popped out in front of the three and said its name stupidly, yet with pride.

"Get back inside!" Jessie said, and returned it to its Poké Ball. She then threw the ball behind her and into the balloon's basket.

"What...speech was that?" I asked, then folded my arms.

"That," James answered, "was the motto we happily recite here in Unova."

"Happily? You mean...you actually enjoy looking ridiculous?"

"Hey, when you insult one of us, you insult us all!"

"Yeah...that was my point."

"Well, this time," Jessie smirked, "we've come prepared."

Ash cut in and said, "Where's Pikachu and Snivy!?"

"Right 'ere!" Meowth answered with his New York accent. He then revealed a remote control he was holding; it resembled the one from before, yet was a little more complicated, having more buttons than the plain red one. He pressed a button and smiled wickedly.

Mechanical arms rose up from the trees and retracted to be hovering in front of and above the balloon. The arms were metallic gray, while the hands were solid red. In the leftward hand was Snivy, while the rightward one held Pikachu. The arms, as I was then able to see, protruded from behind the basket of the balloon.

"Okay, Team Rocket," I said, arms still folded. "You've had your fun. Now hand them back over." I held up my left hand to threaten usage of my fire ability.

"Eyhahahaha!" Meowth kackled. "Your little fireballs won't do you any good!" He proudly put a paw on his chest, closed his eyes, and tilted his head upward. "You see, I made extra certain that those attacks won't work on what's holding Pikachu and Snivy.

"We'll handle this!" Cilan told me.

"No," I answered, looking down. My hat shaded my eyes from view. "They need to realize what they're up against." I looked up at the trio, causing the sun to reveal me in its glow.

"Listen," I began. "Team Rocket -- Jessie, James, and Meowth. I hate to say this, but...as long as I'm around, you're wasting your time. If you think protecting yourselves from fire alone is enough to stop me from stopping you, you're sorely mistaken." I lit up my hand with flames. "From now on, let's be clear about something. You do not mess with any of my friends or their Pokémon, or my Pokémon, for that matter. You can mess with me all you want, but mark my words: Any time you do anything to anyone -- even those that I am merely allies with and nothing more -- I will take you down. And...even then...if I'm not able to stop you, look around. Iris and Cilan are used to your gimmicks by now, and Ash...he's known you for like...what...four years?"

"Five," Ash stated, then laughed nervously, obviously annoyed by the thieving trio.

"Okay, five. But still, that means that, after all your contraptions -- and I assume you've made more than just mechanical arms, right? But out of all of your plans, your attempts, your mishaps, failures, try-agains, re-try-agains, and so-on...You still think you have a shot with them? You honestly believe that you stand a chance? And then I show up, you blast off without even any Pokémon interference, and you come back, hoping to succeed since you've guarded against fire. But..." I paused, taking a breath. I smiled at them, confident in every way imaginable. "You have no clue, do you?"

"No clue about what?" Jessie said. "You're talking way too much, that much I know."

"Perhaps, but...you three..." I laughed, knowing what I was about to say was probably correct. "You three actually thought that I won the SBL tournament with fire alone?"

"Well...yeah, kinda..." Meowth said, feeling uneasy.

"Well, then...I guess I don't have a choice. Snivy!" I called out to it. "Use Leer on Meowth!"

Snivy's eyes glowed red, and then the attack fired. A direct hit. At that moment, the Kanto Trainer Battle theme from Pokémon: HeartGold version could be heard.

I looked up at the sky in sheer excitement. "Wait! You all...this world has music, too!" I looked at the trees and thought momentarily to try and guess the theme. "Wait...it almost sounds like...when you face a trainer in 'Blue' version. Wow, I can't believe I remember that!" I looked back up at the sky and began tapping my feet on the ground. The tune was starting to be catchy. "Kalmar, nice choice!"

"Who's 'Kalmar?'" James asked, looking up to attempt to figure it out.

"Nothing you three need to know about," I answered. I then said to Ash -- who stood between Team Rocket and I, and Cilan -- who stood to the left of Ash, "Ash, Cilan...please, step aside."

They quietly nodded and stepped to my left.

"What're you gonna do?" Iris asked.

"I'm gonna make sure Team Rocket realizes what they're dealing with -- which also means that I'm getting Pikachu and Snivy back." I looked back at the villainous trio. "Count on it."

"Well if you're going to do something, do something!" Jessie scolded. She then smiled with evil confidence, feeling as if she knew I couldn't do anything.

"Okay," I said passively. "If you insist. Meowth..." I looked at him with a fearsomely focused look. "You'd better prepare yourself."

I dashed forward at close to my top speed, which was still faster than Snivy and Pikachu were when they battled. Without warning, I swiftly grabbed Meowth by the scruff of his neck and threw him upward a good ten feet. He front-flipped around a few times due to the way I'd thrown him. Before James or Jessie had a chance to react, I jumped up to meet him.

"Ahh! What're you doin'?" he shouted when he saw me.

I answered with a left-handed punch across the left side of his face, then a right-handed punch on the other side, followed by a left uppercut, a right uppercut, performed a back-flip while kicking him, held my hands above my head, and smacked him straight down with both hands folded. The cream-colored cat landed directly where he was standing before with a painful thud. I soon landed directly in between him and the other two.

"What?" Jessie said, sounding betrayed. "Meowth!" she said while leaning around me. "Front and center!"

I turned around to see Meowth's response.

Meowth lifted himself up partially and raised a paw. Eyes closed, he said, "Yeah, I'll have some fries with those burgers," and fell face down.

I couldn't help but laugh. I then turned to face Jessie and James.

"What did you do to him?" James yelled.

"Look," I said to the both of them as the music faded. "First of all, Meowth's gonna be fine. Believe me, if I wanted to really hurt him, I would have. But even then, what I did to him is your fault. You paraded out here like no one could stop you. But I just wanted to make something clear. Like I said earlier..." I leaned in. "Don't mess with anyone I'm friends with, or what happened to Meowth will happen to you."

"What are you," Jessie said with a sword-like voice, "some kind of vigilante!?"

"No. Just someone who doesn't take kindly to people who are so stupidly arrogant with their evil antics."

Jessie pulled a Poké Ball out of her pocket. "Alright," she said and held it up, ready to throw it. "I've had enough of this!"

James pulled one out as well, and formed the same pose.

"Woobat!" Jessie called out.

"Yamask!" James stated firmly.

"As much as I'd love to see what those Pokemon are," I said to them. "I don't really have time for this." I then grabbed the Poké Balls they were holding, simultaneously minimized them with their respective buttons, and threw them into the balloon's basket.

"Wha---hey!" Jessie yelled.

"You asked for it by coming here again." I said bluntly. "And..." I turned, reached down, grabbed Meowth, and jumped over them. "You'd better give this Meowth some rest. He'll be fine, I assure you, but still." I leaned over the basket and placed Meowth inside gently. Wobbuffet blasted out of its Poké Ball and greeted me, saying, "Waaahhhh-bufff-ett!!"

"Heh, there's something amusing about that thing," I said to myself.

"Now hold on!" James protested. "You can't just---"

"I can, and I will." I paused, turned to James, looked downward for a moment, and then glanced back up at him. "Mario always told me to try and only do what I had to to stop people like you. But...I've always felt differently."

"Oh yeah?" he said with a sarcastic tone.

"Yeah," I replied hastily. "I've met many different 'bad guys' in my travels through the Mushroom World, and every one of them have the same attitude. They never feel at a disadvantage; they're never afraid of me until they see what I can do; and they always seem to come back for a rematch, as if they expect different results."

Their faces were blank; they were still processing what I was saying.

I went on. "And then there's the real problem: they don't change. I've tried in the past to be 'nice' to them and give them a chance. I really have. I've given you three a second chance, and look what you've done. You've threatened the well-being of the Snivy that I just got, and Pikachu, who you've been after for years. You could have easily backed out of it all, but no. You stuck with the typical way of doing things that almost all bad guys do, and it sickens me. I can't stand to see innocent people and...at this point, Pokémon...be put in danger by the likes of your type."

"Who do you think we are!?" Jessie exclaimed.

"Common criminals?" James continued.

"No, you have too much stuff for that. You are actually just plain arrogant, ignorant, and, especially, idiotic."

"Wha...I beg to differ!" James shouted.

I caught a glimpse of Ash and the others. Their faces showed a strong expression of puzzlement and, at the same time, fear. I turned to face the balloon and looked up and left to Snivy, and then up and right to Pikachu.

I immediately lunged up to the hand holding Snivy and swiftly punched the arm of the machine. I put what I figured to be the necessary amount of force into it, and it sliced open with ease. Scraps and bits of metal flew in all directions. Mirroring what had happened only a few short minutes before I'd obtained Snivy, I turned, dove, and caught it.

"What?" Jessie yelled. "That...but that's as hard as steel!"

"Actually," a raspy voice came from behind. It was Meowth, who was holding himself up on the edge of the basket. Even though he was physically exhausted, he kept true to his accent. "I...didn't put much of our...budget into the arms' sturdiness. I just...kinda figured all we...had to worry about...was...that twerp's fire pow-ahs."

Jessie growled, long and visciously. "You...I'll give you something to worry about!"

I placed Snivy on the ground and made my move. I ran and jumped to the arm Pikachu was held captive with, and proceeded to smash its arm as before. Once more, I rotated instantly, lunged at Pikachu, and saved it from the fall.

"Wait! Jess! Look!" James said to her with haste. "He's got Pikachu!"

I told Snivy to go back to the others, and then told Pikachu to do the same. Pikachu ran to Ash, but Snivy didn't go anywhere; it gazed up at me instead.

"Go on," I told it. "Snivy, go on. I'll handle it from here."

Snivy said, "Sni...vy..." and paused. It then reluctantly ran and stood next to Pikachu. I quickly fast-walked and positioned myself between the two and my allies.

"You might want to go get your Pokémon," I told the two. "They could get lonely being with Meowth and the stratosphere."

"You...you wouldn't!" James said with sarcastic fear.

"No sarcasm needed, James." I answered. "It's not a joke." I smiled with the knowledge of what was coming next, and then lifted my left hand and snapped my fingers. My hand burst into flames.

"Now..." I said as I looked down at the crackling glow, and then focused my vision on the two."You may have prepared those 'arms' of yours for fire and all, but...tell me: What does hot air do?"

"It rises," Jessie answered with a voice like razors. "Duh!"

James rushed to the balloon and hysterically hopped in while Jessie said this. "Jessie, hurry and get in!" he commanded with frantic force.

"Don't tell me you're fooled by this!" she said sharply over her shoulder. "He's obviously bluffing!"

"I don't bluff," I said, somewhat offended.

James, distraught even further, got out of the basket, grabbed Jessie by the back of her shirt with both hands, and threw her in.

"Gyyaaaah!" she yelled as she landed. "James!" she scolded at a volume with which she knew everyone would hear. "What're you doing!?"

"Saving us," he replied bravely and jumped back in.

"Well, at least James gets it," I said passively, while holding back the humor of the moment. I circled my right hand around the fire of my left, increasing the flame's intensity and size slightly; it became a little louder than before.

"Well, Team Rocket," I said, happy to begin the sentence. "Jessie was right about hot air rising -- she couldn't have been more right."

James flinched. "Uhh-aahh...No, not that!" he begged and held out his hands which were folded together.

I drew my hands in to my left side, and thrusted them forward with both hands open. A blazing, unrelenting, wickedly-dancing fireball crashed into their balloon, and in seconds, the whole balloon went up in flames. Taking pride out of the equation, the two snatched their Poké Balls up in the small window of time.

Out of the inferno and deep gray smoke, a terrifying sound abruptly blasted the area. Pokémon which looked and sounded like doves flew up from trees which were not seeable from the road, and fled away from the excitement. Two red and white figures; one small, light tan figure; and one light-blue blob of a figure rocketed out into the distance, angled to the right and away from where I was. The trio shouted, "We're blasting off again!!??" and the blue blob followed this up with "Waaaaahhhh-buff-et!" They were gone in merely a few seconds.

Smoke cleared gradually as the sound of burning scraps and things of the balloon died down. Once everything seemed stable, I ended the burning flame around my left hand. I then clasped my right hand on the rim of my hat and straightened it out.

* * *

"What...was that about?" Iris asked hesitantly.

I turned and faced them, and saw that they all were concerned. "Oh..." I said blankly. "Eheh..." I put my hand behind my head and continued, "Sorry, sometimes I get carried away with people like those three." I lowered my hand back down to my side. "But...they completely deserved it."

"I don't think Meowth deserved that though," Ash said.

"True," Cilan said. "You did go a bit far."

"Wha---" I shook my head momentarily. "It would've been the same if you'd used your own Pokémon. What's the difference?"

"It just doesn't seem right," Ash answered.

"It just...isn't natural," said Iris.

"But..." I said in disbelief. "I...don't get it. What does it matter, who or what stops those three?"

"It...just..." Cilan said and paused, seeming to regret letting me step in earlier. "Even though I'm a major Smash Bros. fan...A Pokémon fighting a Pokémon is one thing, but...a person fighting a Pokémon...I...don't know..."

Pikachu stepped forward. "Pika...pika-chu," it said sadly, agreeing with Cilan and the others.

Cilan and Iris folded their arms in disapproval.

I immediately felt their contempt. "Well...but...I..."

"Sni-sni-sni-vy!" Snivy said boldly and rushed to stand between the four and I. It held its short, slim arms out perpendicular to itself and continued. "Sni-sni vy vy sni-vy!"

Ash, Iris, and Cilan each halted their accusations in surprise. Pikachu said "Pi...ka?" and listened, shocked at Snivy's response.

"Sni-vy, vy vy snivy!" Snivy made hand-and-arm gestures throughout its statement, pointing from me, to where Team Rocket had been, to Ash and the others, and to Pikachu, in a seemingly-random yet clearly pre-planned order. "Sni-sni vy, vy vy sni-sni vy, sni sni vy-vy-vy sni-sni-vy vy sni-vy! Vy vy sni-sni, vy vy vy sni-vy!" Its speech ended with it holding its arms out perpendicularly once more, and then it folded them together.

"Woah, Snivy..." I said, and was unable to think of what else to say.

"What's gotten into Snivy?" Ash asked.

"It seems...different somehow," Iris continued.

"It's almost as if..." Cilan said, unsure of if he was correct. "As if...well...I think Snivy might be...agreeing with Timothy on this."

"That's true, isn't it, Snivy?" I asked, already feeling that it was true, even before Cilan said so.

Snivy nodded firmly and stated, "Sni-vy sni vy."

"Somehow..." Cilan said, perplexed. "Somehow...I think Snivy really is okay with what happened."

"It's because," I stated. "Snivy understands that I saved it and Pikachu, and that Team Rocket's Meowth probably deserved what it got. Although..." I paused. "I probably should've gone for James instead. I can tell Meowth is the brains of the operation as far as machinery goes, but...I should've known how you all would react."

"Come to think of it," Iris spoke up. "You did save them, and those three are a real pain to deal with."

"She's right," Ash said, stepped forward, and held out his hand. "Sorry about all that. I should be happy that you saved Pikachu." Pikachu then said, with a regretful tone, "Pika...chu."

"It's fine," I answered and shook his hand. "I'm just glad those three didn't...make me..."

"Make you do what?"

"Uhh...never mind." I removed my hand from Ash's and looked around to Cilan and Iris, switching from those two to Ash and then to Pikachu, and occasionally Snivy. "Listen, all of you. I...hmm...uhh...tell ya what: the next time those three come back, if they do -- and I'm sure they will, but...next time, I'll let you handle them with your own Pokémon. In fact..." I looked at Snivy. "I might even use Snivy to help us. After all, even though those three don't have a chance against your Pokémon, it'll give Snivy a chance to practice its moves and all. And...maybe...even learn a new one?"

Cilan laughed. "I suppose that could happen again soon, but don't expect too much."

"Yeah, I know." I felt the three's tension from before to have disappeared entirely, so I went on, still looking at my Pokémon. "Snivy...from now on, do you think...maybe you could trust me more?"

Snivy, with its arms still folded, turned to the side, and said, "Sni-vy Sni...vy."

"Eheh, I'll take that as a 'we'll see.' Right?"

Snivy nodded.

"Heh, thought so. So..." I looked up at the others. "Should we get going?"

"Good idea," Cilan said. "It'd be good for us to get going as soon as possible."

"We can tell someone at the next Pokémon Center about the mess, if we need to."

"Right," Cilan said.

"Snivy," I said, reached into my pocket, and pulled out its Poké Ball. "Return, for now." The red laser shot out and encased Snivy in its glow. A few seconds later, Snivy was safely inside. I placed the ball back in my right pocket, and out of the same pocket, I lifted my 3DS out.

"Let me just check something real quick," I told them.

I flipped it open and waited two short seconds for it to turn on. I then said to it, "3DS, locate Accumula Town."

A Google Maps-esque view of the surrounding area came up. Accumula Town was highlighted in blue, whereas my current location was a red, blinking dot.

"Okay," I stated. "It looks like...Acumula Town is...only...ten minutes away? That can't be right. Cilan said it was a day's trip from Nuvema Town. But...then again..."

"You have a map built into your 3DS?" Cilan asked.

"Yeah. If there's a radio tower nearby, like the one in Nuvema Town, I can access all sorts of stuff. Even then, if there isn't one, I...oh man..."

"What is it?" Iris asked, concerned.

"I can't believe...I......" I busted out in laughter. "Hahahaaaa! Wow, how could I have been so stupid!"

"What do you mean?"

"Oh man, that's gotta be the dumbest thing I done since...I don't even know when. Sorry 'bout that. See, this 3DS can access the internet even without a radio tower. E. Gadd has special satellites set up around literally every single-planet Nintendo World, which includes the Pokémon World."

"Single...planet?" Ash asked.

"Oh, right, you probably don't know. Certain Nintendo Worlds are more of a galaxy than a world. Like what's found in Star Fox games, for example. But...back to Accumula Town...Cilan?" I faced him. "I thought you said we were a day away? My 3DS says it's just ten minutes from here."

"Hmm, well Cilan never was one for giving good directions," Iris said.

"Eheh, no one's perfect," Cilan said, visibly embarrassed.

"Yeah, that's true," I said. "But, I guess it doesn't matter."

"Right," Ash spoke up. "All that matters now is that we get to the next town now so that we can get to Striaton City sooner!"

"Exactly," I answered. "Let's go, then!"

They all agreed without hesitation. I closed the 3DS and placed it back into my pocket.

We walked for a bit, and soon came upon clearing and a short hill. After the hill followed a view of multiple buildings of varying colors, from the typical white, to the rare and noticable pink. A quick glance at the town, and I could already make out a red-roofed building -- the Pokémon Center. It was the only red-roofed one in the whole town, which I figured was done purposefully for the sake of travelers.

I quickly checked my 3DS; just over ten minutes had passed.

We made our way to the Center and walked inside. "Finally, we're here!" I shouted, and then held back my tongue.

--I didn't mean to shout.


@Terra:
Show dont tell: show
My English teacher just so happened to go over the whole "show, don't tell" concept the other day. My bad, I completely misunderstood what you meant. Great advice!

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:21 am
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Location: Sinnoh Route 228
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Currently Playing: SSB4
Man it's been a while...
Chapter 6 is finished!

Chapter 6 - Cornered: show
"Oh my!" a voice said from straight ahead.

"Oh," I responded, "my bad Nurse Joy. I didn't mean---wait!" I stepped forward with haste to get a closer view. "You...you're...but how?"

Behind a counter not unlike the one in Nuvema Town stood an exact replica of Nurse Joy. The nurse's outfit; the pink, looped-near-her-ears hair; and even her face matched Nurse Joy perfectly. The only difference was the cross on her hat, which was dark purple instead of the previous blue.

"You're...Nurse Joy! But...I...we were just in Nuvema Town earlier today!"

"Oh, I see." She giggled. "You're talking about my cousin, aren't you?"

"Your...cousin?" My eyes widened.

"Here, let me show you."

I stepped closer as she bent down to grab something from under the counter.

She came back up soon and held out a picture which was framed in pink. "See? These are all of my relatives from Unova."

I couldn't believe what I saw. It was a full portrait of over a dozen women dressed in the same Nurse Joy outfit. Each had the same hair coloring and style, and most peculiarly, they were all exactly alike in every way. Face, eye color, sitting position...even their heights were identical.

"The Nurse Joy you met in Nuvema Town was Natalie Joy, my cousin. My name is Anna Joy."

"O...kay..."

"You'll get used to it," said Cilan, who strode up next to me.

"But...Cilan...that...that's just..." I looked down at the floor, deep in thought. "Boy," I thought aloud. "Mario would have a field day with this." ---His doctoring instincts would be put to the test. I'd never heard of such a genetic matchup with a person's looks. I paused, glanced up at Nurse Joy, and asked, "Are...there any rooms available?"

"There sure are," she answered with a smile. "Would you like the first floor or the second?"

"Huh? This is a two-story building?"

"It is," Cilan said. "The Pokémon Center we stayed at in Nuvema Town was one of the smaller ones."

"Yeah," Ash spoke up, having walked to my left-hand side, the opposite of Cilan. "I don't think I've seen a Pokémon Center that was that small before."

"Oh," I said blankly. "I...okay, then...Nurse Joy, uhh..." I glanced to my left and my right, while asking, "What floor do you all want?"

"It doesn't matter," Cilan answered.

"Either way's fine with me," Iris said from behind. Her Axew popped up and happily agreed, saying, "Axew-yew!"

"In that case......We'll take the second floor, then."

"Alright," Joy said and reached down under the counter. "Here you go." She came back up and handed me a card key. "Your room number is 209."

"Okay, thank you."

Ash, Cilan, and Iris all thanked her as well.

I then asked Joy if she'd check up on my Snivy and see if it was healthy. She agreed to, and so I handed her Snivy's Poké Ball. It only took around an hour for Snivy to have been checked up.

* * *

I contacted my parents that evening and told them my plans. They were okay with the idea, but as usual, they insisted that I send them a typed account of what I'd done every week. If anything, their main reason for allowing me to go on with this "journey" was likely that they knew it would pose new challenges and more opportunities for me to grow. Plus, as my mom put it, it was "a healthy change of pace" compared to my past disaster-ridden adventures.

After I talked with them, I did some research, just as I intended to. I could have never guessed how complicated the type matchup with Pokémon Types was, especially since, among other things, Bug-type moves were strong against Dark-types. I couldn't think of any logical reason as to how that was possible. I knew then that it would take some time for me to get used to it all, even though I had most of it memorized.

We each stayed the night in the room. Nothing notable ever happened that evening or that night. Everything was quiet -- eerily quiet, as I saw it. I simply wasn't used to a calm evening or a sound night.

I took a strange liking to it.

* * *

A blinding glow flashed me in the face. A window allowed for the Sun's rays to pierce my un-awakened soul. I arose as if I had been dead. Every viewing of my surroundings, every motion I made, every thought I processed, all of it a sluggish blur. It felt as though I'd been drained of the energy it takes to wake up, and as if I'd never gone to sleep in the first place. I didn't even remember going to bed.

"What...time is it?" I asked, hating the Sun, the window, and the morning for contributing to my discomfort.

No answer was given.

I peered around with my eyes still squinting. The sunlight kept me guessing for a while, but soon my eyes adjusted and I discovered that I was in fact alone. I pushed away the bed sheets which I only just then realized were dark violet in color.

The moment my feet hit the floor, a throbbing pain sliced through my skull, and I had to put my right hand on the bed to keep from falling over; I instinctively placed the other hand on my head. The room rotated and distorted violently; a part of me became somewhat nauseous.

"What...the heck? I don't get migraines!?" No one in my family ever did either, save for my grandma. It couldn't be genetic -- Mario had already tested me for chronic conditions like those.

I searched for my 3DS in my pocket, though once I discovered it, I realized that the 3DS would be of no use for me at the moment -- according to what my parents told me the night before, Mario was still missing.

"How...could this..." The pain was too much to bear. I stumbled out into the hallway and to the staircase at the back of the Center. The stairs stretched downward into infinity as I viewed them. I took the first step, which quickly became my last. I lost my balance, tumbled erratically the whole way down, and landed with a near-paralyzing thud.

A few chairs sat in the back of the Center where the staircase -- parallel to the operating room behind the glass wall -- was. Ash, Cilan, and Iris were each sitting in one.

"Ahh!" Iris gasped. "Are you alright?" She and the other two came over to help.

"I'll...be fine," I told her, not knowing if it was even true. "Just...get me to Nurse---"

A blast of practically visible sound waves horrifically haunted the area.

"GAAH!" I shouted and covered my ears. "WHAT...IS THAT?"

"It's an alarm!" Cilan answered and looked around for the reason.

My eyes were closed and I feebly huddled along the floor. "Agh! Make it stop!"

A closet directly ahead of where I faced opened, and out darted a dark purple figure. It rushed and padded along as I managed to look up. I didn't see exactly what it was, but it was definitely holding something. A sack of some kind, maybe, or maybe a box. It wasn't clear.

"Stop! Thief!" A voice yelled. Nurse Joy raced from around the corner and followed the same path that the mysterious figure ran. She passed us without even noticing our presence.

It dashed past the staircase, turned left, and headed straight for the back glass doors. The moment it heard Nurse Joy call out "Stop! Give me back that food!", it halted.

My vision was still off, but I could at least make out that the thief was feline in appearance. It obviously was a Pokémon; that, at least, I knew.

Cilan flinched abruptly at the sight of it and stepped back.

Joy got within a few feet of the Pokémon and halted. "Alright, give me that food back!" she shouted and rapidly flailed her fist in the air.

It frowned and its eyes welled up with tears. "Purr-loin...purr-looooiin!" it cried helplessly.

"Oh...dear..." Nurse Joy's compassion was struck. "Look," she said kindly and held out her previously-fisted hand, slowly and gently. "If you'll just give me that sack of food back, I'll forget this ever happened."

"No!" Cilan yelled. "Don't fall for it!"

In the time it took for Joy to turn to Cilan and back to the crying Pokémon, it was no longer crying, and instead possessed an evil grin. It bolted straight toward Nurse Joy with wicked speed, a trail of dark purple light following it. It rammed directly into the nurse's stomach and launched her backward. She landed on her back and cringed in pain, visibly sweating.

"Hey!" Ash shouted.

"You can't do that!" Iris yelled.

"Pikachu," Ash said hastily to his occupied shoulder. "Use Thunderbolt!"

The yellow mouse jumped and its cheeks sparked momentarily. "Pika...CHUUU!" it proclaimed. A beam of golden-yellow charged straight for the feline foe.

In an instant, the deep violet being retreated toward the door, dodging the attack. Sparks flew in all directions upon hitting the floor; Pikachu landed a second later. The thief stopped, glared at Pikachu intently, and grinned evilly once more. It then proceeded to launch its own Thunderbolt -- a direct hit.

"Oh no, Pikachu!" Ash said to it. Pikachu, on all fours, pressed on the floor and pushed itself up, despite the sparks of electricity still thrashing around its body.

"I didn't know Purrloin could use Thunderbolt," Iris said, raising an eyebrow.

"It can't," Cilan said, holding up his hands in terrified defense. "But...this Purrloin...must...know Copycat."

I was finally able to see it clearly. It was about Snivy's height, and was slim and feline. Dark purple dominated its fur's color. A tuft of fur covered each of its ears and pointed diagonally away from its head. Its eyes were green with black pupils and a white background, and it had a teardrop-shaped pink marking around each of its eyes; the markings took up a large portion of its face. Two small, cream-colored markings existed between its eyes. Its nose was black, triangular, and considerably small. Its chin and the area around its wavy, cat-like mouth were both cream in color.
Its neck was also cream-colored, with said cream coloring coming down in a v-neck shape; some of its back took on the same hue. Its front two legs began in cream, but, halfway down the leg, zigzagged immediately into dark purple. Its hind legs were just the opposite, beginning in purple but ending in cream. Its dark violet tail ended in a sharp, crescent, almost fang-like shape.

The thief, whose Pokémon name was evidently "Purrloin," fled immediately. Ash and Iris ran to the door to go after it, but the elusive burglar was gone, food and all.

"Nurse Joy," Cilan said and bent down. "Are you hurt?"

"No, I'm...alright," she answered weakly.

He held out a hand and helped her up.

Joy thanked Cilan and looked over to the doors. "That Purrloin..."

"You've seen it before?" Ash asked.

"Yes, I have. It's been coming around here for a few weeks now. It loves to steal things from the townspeople and always gets away with it. Everyone is fooled by its innocent charm, no matter what they've heard about it. I guess even I fell for it."

"Speaking of falling for things..." I spoke up. "Could someone...help me up?"

"Oh, sorry about that," Cilan said. "You said you were fine, and with all the commotion..."

"Don't worry about it, Cilan. Just help me up. Please."

"Right." He walked over and held out his hand. At that moment, the alarm bell finally quit ringing.

"So...Timothy," Iris said. "What happened with you?"

"Did you slip or something?" Ash asked.

"No, I...didn't slip--or well...not...exact...not......I.........not..." Everything around me -- Nurse Joy, Ash, Iris, Cilan, Pikachu, the area we were in, the operating room, everything -- spun rapidly, worse than before. Pain, sweat, a flushed face, wooziness, drowsiness, all of it combined together in an unspeakable, unending, unnatural way. And then, nothing bothered me, nothing at all. Everything went black.

* * *

"One day, one day soon, you'll meet someone who---"

I rose up in shock at the voice. "What...that dream again," I thought. "It picked up where it left off, right? But...who...what...I---"

"You're awake!" Iris said, relieved.

"We thought you'd never wake up!" Cilan said cheerfully.

Snivy hopped up onto the bed I laid on. "Sni-vy?" it asked. Its tail drooped, and its eyes were heavy with concern.

"Oh...Snivy. Yeah, I'm fine.."

"You sure?" Iris asked. "That's what you said before."

"Well I mean it. I'll be fine. I've had worse."

"Worse?" Ash asked. "I don't see how it could be worse than just passing out, and out of nowhere like that."

"Yeah," I laughed. "Sorry about that."

"Does this sort of thing happen often?" asked Cilan.

"No. It doesn't, but...I felt like that since I got up."

"Felt like what?"

"Well...I had a massive headache, and dizziness, and things that were loud or bright made things worse."

"It sounds like a migraine," Nurse Joy said as she walked into my view.

"It isn't," I stated. "Or at least, it couldn't be. I don't get those."

"Well, even people who don't usually get migraines can get them when under stress."

"No, I've been under worse stress before than what I've been in recently, believe me. Wait..." I paused, eyeing the room. "Where am I?"

"You're in the place where Nurse Joy takes care of injured Pokémon," Cilan answered.

I observed the room more closely. There were multiple white-sheeted beds of varying sizes; white walls; and a few machines for, as Cilan put it when he saw me examining them, making "a Pokémon of any type comfortable." They resembled the pure-oxygen machines that are used for humans.

"Wait...I never...saw this room before."

"It's behind the operating room," Joy said. "We bring Pokémon here for observation and rest, far away from any extra outside noise."

"Oh. Well...thanks for the help."

"You're welcome. It's not a problem at all."

I thought for a moment what exactly I should say. "Any news on that Purr...uhh...what was it? Purrloin?"

"Right, Purrloin. It's long gone by now, I'm afraid. But I wouldn't worry about it. It doesn't usually strike the same place twice."

"So...do you think it can be stopped soon?"

"I'm not sure. I've contacted Officer Jenny about it, but she's been rather...busy lately."

"So this...officer......What is he...or she...busy with, exactly?"

"She won't say much. Something about some new organization she's looking into. That's all I know. But...back to you. How are you feeling?"

"My head isn't feeling like someone took an axe to it anymore. That's good I guess."

Cilan laughed. "You guess?"

"Heh," I smiled on the right side of my mouth and looked the opposite direction. "Right...that...what I meant was that I'm still not sure how I feel. I know the headache is gone, but...I still can't figure out what happened. I've never just passed out like that unless I was hurt badly. Falling down the stairs is, honestly, not getting hurt badly, not the way I see it. None of this makes any sense." I looked rightward. "And then there's the matter of me not remembering going to bed at all last night."

"What?" Iris said. "How? You were making jokes and being kinda...corny, I guess, but...how could you not remember going to bed?"

"I was making corny jokes? Oh," I laughed again. "No surprise there. But...I don't remember that, either."

"Strange," Cilan spoke up. "You were so conscious of everything -- you weren't drowsy or tired at all. In fact, you were full of energy. Yet...to you, it's as if it never happened. How could that be?"

"I don't know. I've seen and heard some weird things before, but this......Weird stuff like that doesn't usually happen to me. Not that weird, anyway. I...don't know what to say."

"It sounds like you've had some sort of a blackout," Nurse Joy said.

"A blackout?" asked Ash.

"It's when you don't remember what happened during a recent time period," I told him. "You could have been as conscious as ever and not recall a thing."

"That's kinda scary..." Iris said.

"It is, but...I've never had it happen to me before."

"But..." Nurse Joy spoke. "They don't cause headaches and dizziness like what you've had."

"Yeah, I know. That's why it makes no sense to me. I don't think even Mario could explain this one."

"Well..." Nurse Joy looked at a clock on the wall. "Why don't you get some rest? We can discuss this more later when you're well."

"Right. I guess...that'd be the best thing to do."

Each of them left quietly, all except for Snivy. It wanted to keep an eye on me. I initially turned down that decision, but Snivy insisted and insisted and it eventually wasn't worth fighting against anymore.

It sat on my bed and kept a patient watch on my surroundings for a few hours. At some point during that time, I'd fallen fast asleep.

* * *

I could see the Purrloin from before. It was fleeing from something which I could not make out clearly, but was something which I felt was more evil than the Purrloin itself. Pikachu was with it, as were Ash, Cilan, and Iris. And then I awoke.

"What..." I thought aloud, frigid sweat sliding down my face. "How did I...and why..." Even though I was seeing Purrloin, it wasn't purple -- it was a silhouette of blue, and the things chasing it were of a darker blue color. Everyone else was also colored in blue, yet a lighter shade of blue than Purrloin.

I knew it all had to mean something. It must have a connection to the headache and the forgotten night. I was sure of it.

"Sni-vyyy?" Snivy asked, glaring intently at me.

"Oh, hey, Snivy. Uhh, what...time is it?"

It motioned toward a clock along the wall which hung over the entrance to the operating room. "4:47" was the time.

"Man," I replied, "it's getting late -- or, well, late enough that we might not make it to Striaton City today." I paused, thinking back to what occurred earlier. "Let's go see the others and get going. I don't feel at all like I did before."

The moment my feet hit the floor, an overwhelming sense of danger being nearby came over me. "What...is...but...what!?" I had no time to ask questions.

I dashed immediately for the door, opened it, and let Snivy catch up to me. Snivy nodded with affirmation and said, "Sni-vy!"

"Right, Snivy. Let's go."

We ran out through the next room -- the operating room -- and left it as quickly as we'd entered. A quick dash to the right and around the corner led us, after running through a short hallway, to the lobby.

I sensed the "danger" to be outside, so I shuffled straight to the shimmering glass doors; Snivy followed swiftly, staying right behind me. The doors slid open once we reached them.

* * *

A view of buildings of varying colors returned to me, though the path leading to the Center, which came directly from Route 1, was made of dirt and paralleled by grass.

"What!? Not you three again!" I shouted; the doors slid closed softly behind us.

Snivy yelled "Snnnniiivvy!" and waved an arm erratically at the three.

It was Team Rocket, only this time, they stood on the ground, having come without their balloon. Instead of using mechanical arms to trap their targets, they utilized a see-through glass container -- big enough to fit two or three small Pokémon, yet just light enough that Meowth carried it above his head. The container had under it a blue circular structure which held the glass in place, with a noticeably large red button on the side that faced my allies and me.

Inside the container stood an infuriated Pikachu, which kept releasing considerable amounts of voltage in one half of the storage device. In the other half stood Purrloin, the same violet, feline trickster from before.

From my left to right, Ash, Iris, Cilan, and Nurse Joy were each lined up between the trio and me. When they heard my voice, they turned to face me.

"Really!?" I yelled to the trio, who were just tall enough to be seen in spite of my friends. "You've come back again? For a third time?"

Snivy proclaimed its name in a drawn out tone once more and raised its tiny fist.

"I knew you three would come back, but...already? Can't you wait a day or two and let us live our lives for a change!?"

Ash and Iris split off to the left, while Cilan and Nurse Joy went to the right. I ran immediately to be between them; Snivy followed and stood by my right side.

"Prepare for trouble, you need more patience," Jessie conveyed.

"Make it double, as we display our dominance!" James relayed.

"To protect the restless world from devastation!"

"To unite the impatient people within our nation!"

"To denounce the evils of making new friends!"

"To extend our reach to meeting their demands!"

"Jessie"

"James!"

"Team Rocket blasts off with a blast from the past!"

"Surrender now, that's all we ask!"

While still holding up the container, Meowth stated, "Meowth, think fast!" He then placed the device on the ground and stood in front.

I placed my palm on my face and groaned. "Good grief...it's bad enough you've shown up again, but do you really have to give that speech every time you show up? Wait..." I removed my hand and paused. "What happened to the speech you said is for Unova?"

"It's called a motto!" James scolded and raised a shaking fist.

"Really? That gets you that upset? Whatever, I don't care if it's a copyrighted slogan. You're not taking Pikachu and Purrloin."

"Ohoho!" Jessie said and flipped her hand up and down, pointing it away from her. "We're not here just for those two."

"You see," Meowth stated proudly, "we're the reason why you had a headache this morning."

"Wait what?" I asked, eyes widening.

"Have you forgotten any recent events?" James asked.

"Wha...How did you know about that!?" My left hand flickered.

"We know it because The Boss told us so," Meowth replied. "He knew it would happen."

"Okay, so does this 'Boss' want to show himself so we can talk about this, instead of being a coward? I got a few things I want to say to him. First of all, what did you all do to me? And how do you expect me to just sit by and let you erase my memories?"

"Oh, it's much more than a simple memory erase," James answered.

"In fact," Meowth continued, "that's not even what we did. It's only a side effect, and technically, we didn't actually do it -- we merely suggested the act."

"What 'act?' What did you do to me?" My teeth grinded together momentarily the second after finishing the sentence.

"You'll find out soon enough," Jessie answered.

"In about a month," James said, proudly holding his fist up to his chest.

"Once a certain someone is finished," Meowth stated, "you'll know."

"Finished?" I asked, my hand flickering again. "Finished with what?"

"It's not the someone who is finishing something," Meowth answered, "it's the someone who is finishing."

"That doesn't even make any sense!" Iris shouted, eyes closed.

"Yeah," I said, still pondering Meowth's statement. "Look, Meowth, I realize you're a Pokémon, but could you please speak English?"

"Hey," he said, whiskers twitching. "I speak it just fine, thank you very much."

"Do you speak it good?" I asked, smiling on the inside.

"Yeah I speak it good! I'm speakin' it right now, you stupid twerp!"

"Exactly, see, you don't speak English 'good,' you speak it 'well.'"

"What is this, grammar class?" Jessie growled. "Look, the fact of the matter is that, in about a month, you're going to experience first-hand what old-school Team Rocket technology can do."

"It's the reason why we're going back to the original motto," James added. "The Unova one was boring anyway."

"Why not just tell me what this 'technological achievement' is now?" I demanded.

"All in good time," Jessie answered, arms folded, eyes passively closed.

"Let's just say..." Meowth cut in; a clever grin molded from his mouth. "A certain...unmentionable thing, and unmentionable because it's a surprise...but...this thing will make you regret ever coming to this world." He began to pronounce an "h," yet stopped himself and awkwardly smiled and laughed at once. "It will be the end of you."

"End of me? What the heck are you build---or, what is your...organization... building!?"

"For now," James said, "you won't have the faintest idea."

"Just know that," Meowth continued, "you definitely won't be able to stop---" again, he almost used the sound of an "h," and immediately corrected himself, "it. It's too much, too much for even you to handle!"

I took a step back in my thoughts. "Wait," I said. "What does this have to do with the migraine I had? Or the memory loss?"

"More than you can imagine," Jessie said plainly.

"Alright," I said, arms folded. "Then, what's your plan for today, huh? Steal Pikachu and Purrloin, right?"

"Yep, sure is," Meowth responded.

"Well then..." I looked to my left and right, and directed my next statement to my allies: "Why haven't you all done something?"

"Because," Ash said; his hand, held at his side, formed a vibrating fist. "If we do, they'll..."

Cilan caught a glimpse of my concerned look and said, "They'll use that device's electricity to hurt those Pokémon!"

"Oh really?" I replied, a sudden fire stirring up inside me. "So...okay, I know I said you all could handle those three this time, but...you really can't do anything, can you? Alright then, in that case..." I waited for the right statement to make, and then realized an excellent truth. "Team Rocket! If you want to go on and electrocute Pikachu and Purrloin, go right ahead."

"What!?" Iris said with, as I expected, complete confusion.

"What are you saying?" asked Cilan.

"Don't worry," I whispered to Cilan. "I got this -- trust me."

He nodded, but not before thinking on it for a moment.

"Team Rocket," I said to the trio. "You can go on and use that container's electricity and all. It won't make a difference."

"Why not?" Jessie asked, with a hint of discontent.

James hid his mouth with the palm of his hand and said quietly to his accomplices (although I could still hear him), "This isn't the usual twerp way of things!?"

"What's your deal?" Meowth said to me. "I thought you twerpy types were more considerate!?"

"I'm not like the others," I told him. "And besides...you do realize what 'Type' Pikachu is, right? It's an Electric-type, which even I know means that it will resist electricity."

"Yeah," Meowth said with a crooked smile, "but what about dat Purrloin?"

"What about it? It's been a thief here recently apparently, so the electrocuting might teach it a thing or two."

The three took half a step back. "Well then," James said, "don't think this fools us! All this bluffing of you not caring for these Pokémon will be for nothing. You won't step any further because you care too much. It is true, isn't it?"

"No, James, you're wrong," I answered. "You are completely wrong. I'm going to get those two back, right now. You can't stop me."

I dashed with a slight leftward tilt and headed for James. In reaching him, I snatched up the thin collar of his uniform with my right hand, and held him a few inches off the ground, with my left hand encased in a furious glow of flames. "Now let them go," I commanded.

All of my allies, and even Meowth and Jessie, gasped. James merely grinned and chuckled. "None of your skills will matter soon. Not once that time ahead has come."

My eyes widened and my left eye twitched. The flame around my fist grew slightly, dancing, thrashing, and, starting from its core, it morphed into a blue, will-o-wisp-like color. "That's it, James," I said harshly, the flames of life's troubles kindling in me. "I've had enough!"

I instantly grabbed his shirt with my flaming left hand, and with both, threw James upward. I launched up and smacked his left shoulder with both hands folded, sending him immediately down to the ground; as I landed, the combination of a 360 degree rotation of myself and a kick blasted him multiple feet away, far past the container, and onto the grassy ground. Jessie instinctively ran to him and patted down the blue flames eating away at his collar.

"Hey!" Meowth yelled. "What do you think you're doin'!? You hurt one of us, you hurt all of us!" He then held up his paws and revealed three-inch wide, ivory-tinted, white claws from each finger.

He lunged at me while shouting "Errrraahhh" and sliced away with rapid motions in every possible direction with the scythes of each paw. I blocked each slash with my flaming hand alone, using careful predictions of where and how he struck. From the left, right, below, and above, each seemingly random slash was deflected with perfect precision. To each of the spectators, the movements I made seemed nearly invisible, yet to me, it was simply a matter of reflexes.

Meowth ceased attacking and landed. "Wha...hey! You didn't get a scratch on ya!?"

"No," I said, with an involuntary rightward tilt of my head. "Now..."

He caught my look of sheer, focused determination. "Oh man...not again," he said, retracting his claws.

I tilted my head once more, and immediately grabbed him by the neck.

"No, wait!" Cilan said. "Don't---"

I pretended not to hear him.

"W--ait," Meowth said in a choked voice. "Let's...talk about this."

"You had your chance," I told him. "We both know how every meeting between my friends and I and you three will turn out now, right? Let that be a warning to you. Don't come back again -- I won't go so easy on you next time."

I then threw him upward, jumped up to him, and, with a spinning kick equal to that of what hit James, launched him directly to Jessie. Meowth yelled "Errrryyeeehhaaahh!" as he flew, and latched onto Jessie's face the moment he landed.

"Gah! Get off of me!" Jessie shouted as she tore Meowth off and threw him to the ground.

"Hey," he said, pushing himself back up. "I've...been thrown around enough!"

"Now," I said, my hand still crackling and thrashing with a vicious, fiery aura. "Open up the container. Let them out. Now."

Meowth motioned for Jessie to get closer; she walked forward a bit, bent down, and listened.

"Listen," Meowth whispered. "We don't need Pikachu yet anyway. Remember what The Boss said? We'll get all the Pokémon we want soon!"

"Riiiight," she slyly whispered back. "Once you-know-who is done, that fighting twerp won't stand a fighting chance!"

"Okay," Meowth said, having turned around to face me. He grinned and said, "We'll let them go for now. Just press that red button and they'll be outta there."

"Good," I answered. "Now leave."

Meowth and Jessie both left with a "hmmpf" and headed toward a cluster of bushes along the Pokémon Center. They rustled the bushes' leaves, attempting to find something hidden within. Moments later, they lifted up their findings: three pairs of red jet packs rimmed in white which were shaped similarly to that of actual rocket jets -- an open cylinder on one end with a curved nose on the other. Jessie strapped one pair of them to her back while holding another in her right hand, and Meowth strapped the third pair -- which was much more of his size -- to his back.

Jessie hastily ran to James and shook him with her free hand. "Come on!" she said sharply. "Get up! It couldn't have been that bad!"

He awoke with a short groan, saying, "What...is it? What did I miss?"

"We're leaving," she answered. "Now get up!"

"Oh, we're leaving already? But we just got here!"

"Never mind that. Let's just go. Put your jet pack on!"

"Right," he nodded submissively. She handed him the device, which he strapped around himself immediately.

Each of the three pressed a button on the back of their respective rocket; the jets spewed out nearly invisible, clear fuel, propelling the trio straight up. "We'll return in a few weeks!" they each simultaneously proclaimed, angling themselves diagonally away from the area. They became invisible after a few silent moments.

I jogged over to the container, halted, and pressed the button as instructed by Meowth. The device flashed, sparked, and zapped its contents with tremendous electricity; from the button I pressed, an equal amount flowed into me, coursing through my hand, my arm, shoulder, neck, chest, all the way to my feet. I removed the hand at once; the ember of my other hand swelled and thrashed about in this moment, and then calmed down to its lesser blue form.

"They...tricked me!?" I said, my mind's processing thoughts as furiously as the flames around my hand.

Pikachu had an eye closed while standing inside the device, and said, with difficulty, "Pi...ka...chu..." Purrloin's eyes were both closed. It sat there, motionless, attempting to deal with the shock.

"Hang on," Ash said, "don't get too mad over this!" He quickly walked to me and placed a hand on my shoulder.

An unnatural rage let itself out inside me; I turned around, grabbed his shoulder, and threw him a few feet, growling "Get off!!" while doing so. Immediately afterward, I faced the two trapped Pokémon, clamped my hands together, drew the hands over to the left of the device, and swung fearsomely at it, a blue line trailing the path. The top half of the glass shattered pathetically into the direction I hit it in. Pikachu gazed in awe and confusion at my actions, while Purrloin hopped out without a second thought.

"Pika-pi!" the mouse said to Ash.

"I'm fine," Ash replied, getting up.

"Timothy," Cilan said, holding out his hands cautiously. "Stop this. There's no need to be angry, not right now. Team Rocket is long since gone."

I rotated my head and turned the rest of me slightly, my eyes half-squinting.

"Look at your left hand!" Ash said firmly. "That can't be normal!"

I did so, and in seeing it, the entirety of my power left me. I fell to my knees, placing my opened hands on the ground in front for balance. The flame shifted to red, and soon faded. I gazed aimlessly at my lap for a silent moment.

"What was that about!?" Iris yelled. "You could've really hurt someone! And why'd you attack Ash!?"

"I..." I said, pausing, viewing the furious faces of my comrades, and Nurse Joy's look of being entirely lost. I stared at what had been an inferno of a hand, and said, "I...don't know."

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Sun Nov 09, 2014 1:22 am
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Chapter 7 - A Chance Encounter: show
"I...don't know," I said a second time, placing my hand on my forehead. "I...I'm sorry, Ash, I...just...don't know...what happened."

"Why didn't you stop?" Iris asked, hands on her hips. "You couldn't have been that angry!"

"I know," I answered, my hand unmoved. "I just...I...I..." I sighed deeply and removed my hand. "I don't know what happened. I haven't used blue fire since..." I shifted my eyes diagonally down to the left, losing myself in thoughts of a past event which still haunted me -- the very same which I withheld from revealing to Cilan days before.

"Would someone mind telling me how he...did all that?" Nurse Joy asked, interrupting my memories.

"He's the S---" Cilan nearly revealed my SBL victory, yet recalled my hatred toward the subject. "He just has some very...unique skills," Cilan concluded, almost laughing.

"It's a long story," I told her. "Nothing you should worry about." I waited for someone to speak, and when no one did, said, "Alright, let's---"

An eerie green light flashed outward from me in all directions with a zshrummm! and left as abruptly as it came.

"What was that!?" Iris gasped. Cilan and Ash flinched, as did Joy.

"Uhhh," I said slowly. "I have no idea." I gazed back and forth at the palms and fingers of my hands, running through every possible explanation in my mind. I folded the fingers in and stated blankly, "I don't know."

Snivy stepped forward, and from what I could tell, it asked if I was alright.

"I'm fine, Snivy." I stood up, reached down, patted Snivy on its head, and said, "Nothin' to worry about."

All of us stood there for a time. I knew nothing of anything that occurred -- the anger, the blind retaliation against Team Rocket and Ash, and especially the glow -- and neither did anyone else. At some point, I became uncomfortable not doing anything, and suggested we leave for Striaton City. Ash, Cilan, and Iris each hesitated to answer; I returned Snivy to its Poké Ball, put it away in my pocket, and turned around.

"Alright," I said to the three, my back facing them. "If you don't want to come, I understand -- believe me, I do. It should be a straight path from here anyway. Plus my 3DS has a GPS so it......I...I can find my way easily." I paused, then continued. "Nurse Joy, about the mess from that container..."

"It...it's alright," she answered. "I'll call someone to clean it up."

"Okay," I replied. "Then, I'd better go."

I walked straight, turned right, and headed down the lonesome street. The paved road and the asphalt sidewalk I walked on were void of life. I thought of it as odd that the streets were empty at five in the evening, yet I moved on anyway. After a few minutes and one right turn and one left turn, I reached the town's exit. A sign placed along the edge of a dirt path that morphed from the paved road read:

Leaving: Accumula Town. Ahead: Route 2.
Time to walk to next town: 2-3 Days (Striaton City).


I frowned, not amused at the time mentioned. "Heh," I said to myself, laughing. "Good thing I have plenty of food with me."

The next sentence on the sign read:

Common Pokémon found: Deerling, Patrat, and Pidove

That was unexpected. Route signs on Earth only state the number, and little more -- if anything -- other than what restaurants and attractions exist nearby. They certainly don't list what animals live in the area (with the exception of certain animal-crossing signs). "I guess that probably helps people know how to defend themselves," I stated. "Or, I guess, if they want to catch a new Pokémon...that might be useful."

I continued on, the changing autumn leaves of trees welcoming my quest, some of which flew gently through the perfect 60-degree weather. The first step I took on the soft soil led me to hear a voice, which said, "Hold on!"

With one foot on dirt and one on pavement, I turned to view the source.

The voice was Cilan's; accompanying him were Ash and his shouldered Pikachu, along with Iris and her unseen Axew.

"You...you're coming?" I asked. "You don't have to. Really, you don't."

"We are, though," Cilan replied.

I looked upon each of them. My eyes sank low, as I saw the plain expression of fear on each of their faces.

"Okay," I said to them, removing my outer sadness. "I understand. Let's get going, then."

I only let them come because they insisted.

* * *

Three days passed. At no point did any of us mention the incident. Instead, in an indirect response to it, Ash, Iris, and Cilan each professed their dreams and goals to accomplish in life (Ash a Pokémon Master, Iris a master of Dragon-types, and Cilan to become a better Pokémon Connoisseur). Each of them also took turns battling Snivy to help it grow stronger. When we needed to eat, Cilan used the non-perishable food I always kept in the treasure chest of mine to make each meal.

The interactions between the three close-to-each-other friends helped me to not feel so un-eased by my previous actions. They each seemed to take turns getting into unnecessary quarrels over the littlest of things, showing they were just as capable of losing their temper as I was.

Those three days were, in short, rejuvenating ones for me.

* * *

Finally, we'd reached our destination: Striaton City. A sign read at its entrance:

Entering: Striaton City. Pop.: 8500

I nearly said "Only eighty-five hundred and they call it a city?", yet remembered this world's comparatively low population to my home world. The next line caught my attention in a different way:

Gym: Striaton City Gym. Led by: Cilan, Chili, and Cress

"Three Gym Leaders?" I asked. "Wait...Cilan!?" I turned to him. "You're a Gym Leader?"

"Oh," he answered, closing his eyes. "How did I not mention that? I am, though. One of them, anyway."

"Huh," I said. "That's a pretty good job for a Pokémon Connoisseur, I'd guess."

"It sure is."

"Still, why---I thought Gyms have only one Gym Leader? This one has three?"

"Yeah," Ash said. "They're Cilan's brothers."

"They're triplets," Iris continued.

My eyes widened for a second. "Oh."

"It isn't impossible for a Gym to have more than one leader," Cilan said. "It is rare, sure, but not impossible."

"I see." I nodded my head, shifting my lips and eyes diagonally down, to the left. "Should we go ahead and head to the gym then?"

"Wait," Iris said. "We should go to the Pokémon Center first. You should have Snivy checked up on before you battle with it."

"Oh yeah," I sighed. "Right."

We began walking. A line of three-story, brownish brick buildings ran along either side of the paved, charcoal-colored street. Wooden steps led up to each house's front porch, which rose to about five feet off the ground.

Occasionally, people would walk by. Some would wave, and we'd wave back; others were either too occupied with their children or they carried to many groceries to have a free hand. I was relieved to see some sign of abundant life, though. Quiet, action-less towns and cities may be nice sometimes, yet become boring in no time.

The street (and the city itself) was noticeably larger than Accumula and Nuvema Town; it took five minutes to reach the first intersection with another street. We only needed this one intersection, however, since the Pokémon Center was diagonally to the left once we reached that crossway. To the right of the Center sat a blue, cubical, two-story building with a sign as tall as it was, which merely depicted a Poké Ball-esque symbol and nothing more. I tilted my head after viewing it, and Cilan then told me it was a "Poké Mart" -- a store for everything a Pokémon Trainer needs.

A moment of walking later, we reached the Center. It had three stories, like the city's regular houses, and seemed to be wider than Accumula Town's Center. I stepped forward, causing the automatic glass doors to swiftly slide open.

***

I jumped back, the shock almost too intense. A slightly pudgy man not much taller than the four of us stood in the doorway. He wore a red, long-sleeved shirt; blue overalls with yellow buttons; brown shoes; white gloves; and a red cap with a red "M" on its front which was surrounded by a circle of white. Dark brown hair protruded in small amounts from under his cap. His skin was somewhat tan, and his black, bushy mustache profoundly Italian, with his rounded nose blocking some of the 'stache’s presence.

My whole body twitched as I shook my head profusely. Cilan gasped, having seen the man, followed by Iris and then Ash.

I closed my eyes, vibrated my head some more with less violence, and then opened. "Wha...uh---ju---wha---bu---wai---I---he---tha---I---bu......MARIO!!!!?"

"Oh? 'Ello!!" he answered. "Timothy?"

Ash and Iris gasped again; Cilan remained speechless.

"Mario!" I said, nearing a shout. "What are you doing here?"

"I was about to ask you the same thing."

"Uhh---well, I...it's a long story. Wait...you probably...yeah, that's right. Bowser Junior sent you here."

"Mmm, not exactly."

"Huh? Then...how? And why? Did you know I was here or something?"

"Well, no, I---"

The doors closed shut between us, having detected a lack of motion; I moved in to make them reopen.

"Hmm," he said once the doors slid away. "We should continue this inside."

I laughed. "Yeah, seems like a good idea..."

I was reminded of exactly how Mario talked -- a balance of New York City and Italian, though he normally just uses the Italian side for s**** or when under stress. His tone of voice was identical to his more recent appearances in Mario games (especially Super Mario Galaxy).

***

We each sat in red booths aligned with a tan table, booths which were made for six. Mario sat in the booth facing the entrance and on the inside of it. I sat next to Mario, with Cilan across from him, Iris across from me, and Ash next to Iris on the far outside of that booth.

"So, Mario," I turned to him. "Where have you been?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, my parents said you've been missing this past week. Were you here the whole time?"

"Oh, right, that. Yes, I was."

"Why?" I asked, eyeing the others, wondering if they'd speak up.

"Well it wasn't by choice."

"But if it wasn't Junior, then..."

"Honestly, I don't know what it was."

I raised an eyebrow. If Mario didn't know how to explain something, there must be a problem. "What happened?"

"Hmm..." He thought for a moment, his gloved left hand caressing his chin. He glanced up at the three facing him, then looked back down at his lap. "Let's see...I've been going over this whole thing and it doesn't make any sense. But, I guess you'll keep asking anyway if I don't tell you, so..."

I nodded, half smiling. He was completely right.

"At that SBL party," he began, "there were a few Smash Bros.-based tournaments, as you remember. At one point, two of them were still going on. One was with Melee, and the other with Brawl. You weren't going to have any more matches for a while, so I guess you left to take a break. When it was your turn in the Brawl one, you were gonna face off against Luigi's playing of Pikachu, and I knew your skill with Lucario wouldn't be a fair match, ya know."

I laughed momentarily. Lucario was the only Pokémon I could use properly in Brawl, and the only one I had respect for before all this started.

"But...you didn't show. No one had seen you in a while. I wish you gave us a heads-up to where you would be, but...then again, you normally wouldn't need to..."

"Still," he went on, "everyone looked and looked and you were nowhere nearby. Luigi went-'n got a Wing Cap and flew around the Castle, but you weren't up there. Samus tried to pick up your heat signature, but that didn't work. Fox and Falco flew in their Arwings to search more of the skies, while Olimar sent out dozens of Pikmin to search the ground. Zelda with her magic, all of the Yoshis with their tracking skills, and Sonic dashing all around the kingdom...nothing gave us any idea where you were. I went and checked the castle's surveillance footage...nothing but static during the past half-hour."

My left eye half-squinted. "E. Gadd's cameras quit working?" I asked.

"They...cut off their power," Mario concluded. "A Toad Guard found scratch marks -- huge ones -- behind the video screens in the surveillance room."

"Bowser," I answered plainly.

"Yep. It was him alright."

"So, then what happened?" Iris asked, appearing interested in the story.

I glimpsed Cilan; he leaned profoundly inward, his eyes glowing with excitement. "You gonna make it there?" I asked him.

Cilan answered, still facing Mario, "I...I just can't believe you're really here!"

Mario laughed a nasally "Hmph" in response. I leaned to him, blocked my mouth from the others' view with a hand, and told him, "Cilan's a bit of a...video game fan."

"Oh," he laughed. "I see."

"Bet that gets old," I thought, smiling partially.

"What happened next," Mario continued, facing Iris and Ash but eyeing Cilan, "is the...odd part. Peach mentioned seeing Timothy go out to the Courtyard before he disappeared. I went out to check the area and all, and no one was there. Just a cup of...what we call 'SBL punch' on the fountain. I went up to it, looked inside, touched it, and..." He trailed off into nothing, losing himself in thought.

"And?" I asked.

"That's it," he said. "I'm here."

I flinched back. "That's it? You touched that cup and now---"

"Stop," he told me, then leaned in and whispered, "don't mention this to anyone. I have a theory but...just don't say anything."

Mario almost never gets serious, so I simply nodded and whispered back, "Right."

"It's probably nothing," Mario stated to the others in a cheery tone. "Whatever Junior did to send Timothy here probably just stuck around for a while, that's all."

Iris and Ash looked at each other, then at Mario and me.

I knew Mario was lying, yet could do nothing but go along. "Yeah, it's not like things like this haven't happened before."

"So," Mario said, turning to me. "Why haven't you left yet?"

"What," I answered, "you mean the Pok---oh, yeah, that. Well, I...kind of...am staying for a while."

"You are?" he asked. "Oh, well, I shouldn't be that surprised. You always did want to try out something new." He turned to the others. "When Luigi and I were training him, he'd always insist on adding in a different attack or fighting style into whatever he was practicing. And...remarkably...it usually worked."

"Eheh," I said, laughing awkwardly. "I guess I did..."

Cilan thrusted his arms out from under the table and placed his palms firmly on top. He possessed a most exhilarated grin, his eyes bulging with excitement. "You must tell me how you trained Timothy to this point!"

"Umm..." Mario replied, leaning back a bit.

"Please, Mario!" Cilan leaned in closer. "You have to tell me! I'm just dying to know!"

"Whoa whoa, Cilan, calm down," I told him. "You're creepin' him out."

"No, I'm okay," Mario said, having retreated further. "Some other crazed fans have done worse."

"Heh," I laughed. "I can believe it. But...Cilan," I said to him. "I can answer that question for Mario. Just...sit down and...relax for a second."

Cilan slowly slid back into place and listened.

"Basically," I told him, "I pretty much just copied whatever Mario and Luigi were doing -- after the first few months when it was nothing but strength and stamina training, that is. But...yeah, I just copied them. That's...all there is to it."

He frowned. "But...what about the fire?"

"That has something to do with me using a bunch of Fire Flowers over time. The ability just...stuck with me after a while, like with Mario. He and Luigi did have to spend a few weeks to help me control it, but...other than that...yeah. That's it."

"Huh," he said, leaning into the back of the booth. "I would've thought it would take more than that."

"Most people wouldn't get that ability so quickly," Mario stated.

"Yeah," I agreed quietly, looking down. "But, anyway, I've got to---oh, I forgot! I have to give Snivy to Nurse Joy!"

I immediately jumped out from the booth and darted to the desk. I noticed before reaching it that the lobby of this place was much more spacious than Accumula Town's -- enough to allow for extra booths and tables. There was even a plasma screen T.V. mounted above the red Nintendo Logo door behind where Joy stood.

Once I got to the desk, I saw Joy's cross on her hat to be pink this time.

"How may I help you?" she asked.

I pulled out Snivy's Poké Ball, un-minimized it, and handed it to her. "I need you to check up on my Snivy real quick, if you can."

"Of course," she answered. "I'll get right to it." She turned around and shuffled through the Nintendo door. The door flapped back and forth for a few seconds, then ceased.

I returned to the booth. Ash and Iris seemed puzzled at something, and looked back and forth between Mario and Cilan in the hope that they could answer. Mario nearly replied, yet halted when I approached the table.

"What is it?" I asked, standing at the table's edge.

"They were asking about what you meant by 'Junior,'" Mario answered.

"It's---right. It's Bowser Junior," I told the two. "He's Bowser's first son. He's the reason why I was forced to come here, to this world."

"Oh," they both said.

"I should've been able to stop that, but..." I laughed. "Him and Bowser are never really that much of a problem anymore, so..."

"Timothy," Mario cut in. "What are you doin' next?"

"Heading to a Gym," I said. "The one in this city, wherever it is."

"A Gym!?" he asked. "You're having a Gym battle?"

"You know about that stuff?"

"Well he has stayed in the Pokémon World from time to time," Cilan said. "And every time he comes, people come from entirely different regions just to see him."

I laughed. "No surprise there."

"Well, if you're looking for the Striaton Gym," Mario said, "it's across the street from the back of the Pokémon Center."

"Wait..." I said, tilting my head slightly to the right. "Mario, you say 'Pokémon' a little differently than most people. Usually people will say 'Pok-uh-mon,' but you say 'Pok-ay-mon.' How come?"

"It's the correct pronunciation," Cilan answered; Mario nodded and said "Mm-hmm."

"Oh," I said blankly. "My bad."

Cilan and Iris laughed shortly, and were stopped by the ringing of a famous and cheery tune over the intercom: "Bl-dum, dum, duhdum dum!"

"What was that?" I asked.

"That's the tune that plays when a trainer's Pokémon is ready to be picked up," Cilan answered.

"Yeah," Ash spoke up. "You should go ask Nurse Joy if it's yours."

"Oh, right," I responded, and hurried to the desk. Sure enough, Snivy was there, in its Poké Ball, and in Joy's right hand.

"Here you go," she said with the typical Nurse Joy smile. "Your Snivy is in perfect health." She handed me the Ball and left to go back through the Nintendo door.

"I guess she has other things to do," I said, putting the Poké Ball in my right pocket. Returning to the table, I said to everyone, "I think we should go to the Gym now."

"Already?" Iris asked. "But we just got here!"

"I know," I answered. "But...we just ate an hour ago, so there's no need for us to eat or anything. And I...I just want to get this done. I can't wait anymore."

"Oh," Cilan cut in. "That's why you insisted on eating earlier..."

Mario nodded. "Still planning ahead I see."

"Tch," I smiled. "Yeah, I knew I wouldn't have the patience to wait for the Gym battle once we got here. Can we go though?"

"Ehahaha," Ash laughed. "You're all fired up aren't ya?"

I nodded slowly, somewhat embarrassed at my lack of restraint.

"I suppose," Cilan said, "if you're ready to go, then we can go."

"Want me to give you some pointers?" Ash asked. "I've done this a lot before."

"No," I replied, shaking my head. "What you and the others have told me so far should be enough. I want to find the rest out on my own."

"Good luck, then. Give it your best." He held up his fist just above the table.

"I will." I turned to Mario. "So...I guess you'll be heading back to the MK? I don't see why you'd have to stay here any longer."

"I can't," he said.

'What? Why not?"

The Pixelator’s broken," he answered. "And the one in Accumula Town, too."

"Oh."

"I called in some experts to fix both of them, but...instead of going to the next town like I planned on doing, I'd rather stay anyway -- to watch your battle."

"Uhh," I said, leaning back. "That...I don't know if that's a good idea. I'm completely new to this."

"I know. But don't sell yourself short. If anything, I doubt this will be an easy victory for your opponent, whoever he is."

"Yeah," I said passively. "We'll see about that."

"Nah," Ash said. "You'll do great." Pikachu raised an arm and agreed, saying, "Pik-ah-chu."

"You've been phenomenal for a new Trainer so far," Cilan said, fully believing his statement.

"Cilan's right," Iris claimed. "From what I know, you're doing much better than Ash did when he started his journey in Kanto."

Ash laughed and held up a hand behind his neck. "Come on, Iris," he pleaded.

Cilan and Mario laughed momentarily, as did I.

I soon motioned for us to leave. We each made our way through to the back of the Center, going around the desk on the right side and through a long, door-less hallway. We came upon a pair of see-through doors and stepped up to them; being automated, they slid open.

* * *

After a half-minute of crossing the paved street and walking down a short asphalt path, I gazed up at the structure. At about the size of the Pokémon Center we just came out of, the Gym was white, with two pillars standing on either side of the entrance, and a glass dome posing as the building's roof. Small windows lined up with the bottom floor, yet the sun's noontime glare prevented me from seeing inside. A large silver sculpture of a spoon hung above the doorway, which was preceded by five stone steps with wooden railings. On either side of the steps stood a stone statue with a Poké Ball-like shape carved into its top. On each of them, a wooden sign read:

Striaton City Gym
Leaders: Cilan, Chili, and Cress

I treaded up the steps; the smooth, perfectly-sanded railings gave me the impression that this Gym was designed with careful precision.

I reached the cherry wood door and halted. A multitude of questions burned into me, none of which could be answered. I stiffened up, knowing I would not find peace until entering the Gym. Cracking my knuckles, and with an ever-focused posture, I stated, in a firm and rather deep tone, "Let's do this." I grabbed hold of the round, golden, metallic door knob and opened.

In that moment, my body seemed unable to breathe, yet my heart had no problem trying to pound its way out, and neither did my skin find difficulty in sweating.

I refused to speak until viewing whatever awaited me -- it'd ruin the excitement.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:16 pm
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Location: Sinnoh Route 228
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Happy New Year!

Chapter 8 - The First Gym Battle: show
At last, the Gym door opened fully. A joyous bell rang when it sensed the building's guests. Seeing what waited inside, I folded my arms, tilted my head, and stared with a blank look.

The inside of the "Gym" was a room about the size of the Pokémon Center's lobby, with a few glass chandeliers; numerous yellow tables with brown, wooden edges; and chairs of the same coloring which stood at an average height yet had high-reaching support for people's backs. At the right of the room, a cherry wood, wrap-around counter sat firmly in place along the wall. Behind the counter, a small square opening could be seen which gave a view of a kitchen, and to the right of the counter awaited the door necessary to get into the kitchen. The left wall of the room was painted blue, the right wall red, and the wall straight ahead was a light green, while the wall along the entrance (where we stood) was white.
In the tables sat a total of four people, with two in one table to the left of the room, and the other two in a table to the right. In the left table sat a young man wearing an orange T-shirt and a girl appearing to be slightly older than me who wore a violet mini-dress; in the rightward table was a young man wearing a yellow shirt and a girl of about the other girl's age with an indigo dress. Both of the young men had brown hair, while the girls' hair color equaled their dresses. Each of the tables in the room -- save for the ones already in use -- were capable of seating four, with the occupied ones only able to fit two.

"Uhh," I thought aloud. "Did we get the wrong building or something?"

"No," Cilan said from behind, "it's the right one."

The kitchen door swung open; two young men of about the age of Cilan (who I now knew to be 17 years old) filled the void, and soon passed through into the main room. Both of them wore the exact same outfit as Cilan (tuxedo and bowtie), only one had a red bowtie, and the other a blue one. The hair of the man with the red bowtie was also red and glowed with the shape of fire, while the other man's follicles were blue and wavy, seeming to flow like water, and covered his right eye.

"Ahh, I see we have more guests," the blue-haired one said with serenity. "Welcome to the Striaton Café. Please, sit wherever---CILAN!?" Both of the two froze.

"You're back?" asked the red-haired one, speaking as though he was full of energy.

Cilan abruptly pushed his way through and past me. "Chili, Cress!" he said with joy. "I am back! How are you two?"

"We're great," the blue one answered.

"Timothy," Cilan said, turning around. "These are my brothers." He pointed accordingly and continued. "Chili, and Cress."

I nodded. "Right, so they're the Gym Leaders then."

"Exactly."

"Oh, do we have a challenger?" Cress, the one with blue, asked.

"You do," Cilan answered. "The one with the blue hat -- that's him."

"Well then," Chili said, "let's---GAH!!" His view fixed behind me, and he said, "Isn't that...Mario behind him?!"

"Sure is," Cilan stated proudly.

"Well," Cress said slowly. "Umm...why...don't you all come in, then?"

I stepped forward, letting Ash, Iris, and Mario enter behind me.

"Cilan," Chili whispered. "What's he doing here?"

"Well..." Cilan whispered back. "He---"

I raced forward to them and spoke swiftly, waving my hands and shaking my head, "That's not important right now!" Chili and Cress's look of concern led me to calm down, so I simply said, motionless, "It's a long story, and I doubt Mario wants to go through it again." Out of my view, Mario nodded.

"Oh...I see," Cress stated. "Then---wait...have I seen you before?"

"Umm," I responded. "I don't think---oh, wait. You mean..."

"That's it!" Cress perked up. "You won the SBL tournament, right?"

"Eheh," I murmured, placing my left index finger and thumb along my chin. "Yeah, that."

"What?" Chili, with an almost horrified expression, said, flinching back. "You? But...you looked bigger on T.V...."

Each of the people in the tables had migrated to the three Gym Leaders' sides.

"What? Is that Mario?" the young man in orange asked.

"And wait," the girl in the purple mini-dress said, "that boy next to him...that's the..."

To Cress's left, the girl in an indigo dress stepped closer, coming to within five feet of me. "You're...that's right! You're the SBL Champion!"

I took a deep breath and swallowed. "Yes...that's me."

"Ooh," said the violet-wearing girl who then stepped forward, and stood diagonally to my left at the same distance away. "Do that fire thing!"

"Uhh...what?" I replied, raising an eyebrow.

"You know!" she continued. "That thing you did on T.V.. You can still do that right?"

"Umm...yeah...I can, but...why---"

"Do it for me, please?"

"Well I...I don't know if..." I removed my hand form my chin. "Why aren't you interested in talking to Mario instead? He does the same thing..."

"Nah," she answered. "He's too old."

"Too---" I flinched back. "Nyah!" I held up my hands in defense and waved them back and forth erratically. "Whoa whoa whoa. Whoa." I stopped moving them, and put my left palm over my face, tilting my face down and to the right. "Now I see what's going on." Eyes closed, I wagged my left finger repeatedly and not far from my previously covered face, laughing a sort of airy laugh which did not involve any use of my vocal cords.

I opened my eyes and held my hands -- palm-to-palm -- out in front. "Listen," I said to her. With every word I spoke next, I tilted my palmed hands forward, making sure to enunciate every syllable properly. "While-I-am-here, I-am-nothing-but a novice, Pokémon Trainer. I'm-here-for-a-Gym-Battle. That's it."

"What's he getting so hyped up about?" Ash asked Iris, the both of them still behind me.

"Just forget it Ash," Iris answered, not amused by his ignorance. Pikachu, on Ash's shoulder, agreed, saying, with an almost sighing tone, "Pi-ka pi..."

"Please?" The violet girl asked once more. She and the indigo-wearing, indigo-haired girl walked closer, now standing less than an arm's length away.

"Alright alright," I said quickly, holding up my hands, with them both separated this time. "Ladies, please, both of you. Let me get to those Gym Leaders. I have a Gym battle to do."

"Pleeeeaaase?" They both pleaded.

"Alright you two," Cilan said. "Break it up."

They both whined, "Awww...", yet did as Cilan said. Their respective male friends then walked up to meet with them. The leftward one claimed to be the purple girl's brother, while the rightward one was the indigo girl's cousin (both cases relieved me, as I'd assumed each male-to-female pair to be in a different kind of relationship).

"Sorry about that," Cilan laughed.

Now standing directly left of me, Mario laughed as well, and then whispered in my ear: "Sounds like you've got some fans."

I smiled, rolling my eyes. "Now I know how you feel," I whispered, leaning toward him.

"So..." I spoke up. "Where is...the Gym?"

"This is the Gym," Chili said with a smirk.

"You mean I'm supposed to battle within this room?" I asked.

"Not exactly," Cress replied, his words flowing smoothly.

Cress and Chili both raised their hands and clapped twice each. The green wall at the back of the room vibrated, shaking the floor and my shoes, rattling the glasses along the counter. Then, with a sudden jolt, the wall split in two; the two walls gradually slid apart from each other and soon hid behind the walls they were perpendicular to, with the left half ducking behind the red wall and the right half disappearing behind the blue. In the walls' wake, a yellowish-brown, dirt field awaited.

"Oh wow," I said in a somewhat hushed tone. "Nice touch." I gave them an approving nod with an impressed half-smile.

"Right this way," Cress said, gesturing behind him.

"Right," I said, smiling intently.

The four café-dwelling individuals stepped further aside to let each of us through.

***

"We have a tradition here," Cress said to me once we all passed through the opened walls. "People that are inside the café when the Gym is challenged can watch the battle. But it's up to you if they do."

"I'd...rather not," I answered.

"Alright, then. We understand."

Chili and Cress clapped their hands twice more; the walls slid toward each other and soon sealed themselves up. The three Gym Leaders, Ash, Iris, and I were at the exact center of the wall of this new area.

I looked back at the closed walls, and then gazed out at the field. A white rectangular box, easily 30 feet long, covered most of the dirt ground, containing a white line through its mid-way point which was directly ahead of us. Rocks of varying sizes and shades of brown sat all around the inside of the rectangle, yet never stood taller than me. Directly above -- some 80 feet up -- a glass dome provided plenty of light, despite most of the sky being covered in clouds. At the opposite end of the field, blueish-gray bleachers with steps and railings at the center awaited any possible spectators. Based on their height and width, I guessed them to be able to hold a maximum of around 70 people. It was more of an arena than a simple battlefield.

"Man," I said, staring curiously at the bleachers. "How many people do you expect to come watch Gym Battles anyway?"

"77," Cress answered. "Or, at least, that's the maximum amount."

"Oh. Well...should we get star---wait, do I have to battle all three of you?"

"No," Chili laughed. "You get to choose one of us."

"Oh, okay," I said, relieved.

Cilan, Chili, and Cress each moved forward a short distance and lined up out in front of me, blocking a portion of my view of the arena.

"Now is the time for you to choose," Cress stated.

"Alright, Pansear!" Chili shouted, reaching into his right pocket. "Come on out!"

A Poké Ball flew up from his hand and out blasted an explosion of white light. Once it faded and Chili caught and returned the Ball to his pocket, Cilan did the same, as did Cress.

All three of the Pokémon were slightly taller than Snivy. They were round-headed, simian creatures with oval, black eyes that had a white background, and the Pokémon had rather large round ears of a few inches in length. Their mouths resembled that of a cat's mouth, while their hands looked like they were wearing mittens, since they lacked fingers -- save for thumbs. Generally speaking, most of their fur was beige-colored, while the fur on their heads (as well as on the rim of their ears, the lower half of their bodies, and their six inch-long tails) nearly matched the color of hair of their owner. The three's tails and style of the large clump of fur on their heads were unique to themselves.
Chili's Pokémon, whom he referred to as "Pansear," had a whipped cream-style shape of fur on its head, which could also be taken to be a campfire-like form. The inner area of its ears was orange, while the rest of its fur (aside from the aforementioned beige) was red. At the middle of Pansear's stomach, the beige fur zigzagged into red. Its tail's tip resembled a candle's flame.
Cilan's Pokémon, "Pansage," had a head of fur which looked like broccoli or perhaps a bush, with three yellow, seed-like objects planted inside. Its inner ear took on a light shade of green, while the rest of its non-beige self was solid green; a solid line separated the beige on its chest from the lower half of it. Its tail split at the end into two oval, leaf-like shapes.
Cress's Pokémon, "Panpour," had light-blue fur aside from the beige, but unlike the other two, the only light-blue areas on its body that were not at the top of its head or on its tail were around its upper torso; it ended once reaching Panpour's stomach, and the invisible line dividing the light-blue from the beige was multiple half-circles strung together. Its fur's design on its head stood like a geyser, with its tail ending in three bubble-like spheres.

"Uhh...are these...monkeys?" I asked.

"I suppose so," Cilan answered, barely withholding a laugh.

"Some people call them," Mario whispered in my ear, "umm...the 'Elemental Monkeys,' I think."

In response to Mario, I thought aloud, "Elemen---" and began running my left index finger and thumb along my chin. "The red one...Pansear...looks like...his---or 'its,' I guess...hair---maybe fur...It looks like fire. And the green one's is like broccoli or some kind of plant, and the blue one's looks like a geyser." I paused, and then removed my hand. "So they're Fire-, Grass-, and Water-types?"

"That's right," Cress replied.

"How'd you figure that out so quickly?" Ash asked.

"Well," I said, turning rightward and around fully to Ash. "The fur on their heads kind of gives it away. Plus, I already knew this Gym used three different Types."

"How did you know that about the Gym?" Iris asked, still standing behind Mario and to Ash's left.

"I didn't tell him that part," Cilan confirmed, also confused.

"Well I...looked it up," I answered, turning back to the Gym Leader trio.

"Hmm!" Mario smirked. "Not a surprise at all."

"Eheh," I laughed shortly. "Yeah, I wanted to be sure I'd know a little about what I was up against. But..." I directed my attention to the Gym Leaders. "I get to choose my opponent right?"

"Yes, it's your choice," Cress confirmed calmly. "You'll choose one of us three, and you'll battle only one of these three Pokémon.

"My choice..." I repeated, staring diagonally down, leftward.

"You only get one," I thought. Only one. That's it. No changing my mind, no two-out-of-three, and it's either win or lose. The choice I made, I knew, without the slightest misunderstanding, would decide my battle's fate. My Snivy, and only my Snivy, against one of the three Elemental Monkeys -- one a Fire-type, one a Grass-type, and one a Water-type. Obviously, with my Grassy, serpent-like ally, battling Cress's Water-type monkey would fare the best.

Yet I knew it wasn't that simple. It never is, according to my talks with my PokéFriends the previous few days. Put simply, a Pokémon's Type isn't everything. I would need to analyze every ounce of the small information I had absorbed in the short six days I had spent in the Pokémon World so far.

***

My eyes shifted from one monkey to the other.

Pansear, Pansage, Panpour.
Fire, Grass, Water.
Red, Green, Blue.

Only one. A decision that must be final. I sighed as I ran my fingers along much of my lower face. The pressure; the eyes glaring from both behind and in front of me, awaiting my choice; and above all, the ironic presence of my main combat teacher for the past 17 months; all made this overly difficult. Call him my opponent, foe, adversary, whatever would be the word to apply to the role of a Gym Leader. Depending on my selection, I would face either Chili and his Pansear, Cilan and his Pansage, or Cress and his Panpour. Only one pair.

Brave the fiery wrath of Chili's Fire-type against my weak-to-Fire Snivy? Even things out with my friend Cilan's Grass-type? Or push for an easier time with Cress's Water-type?

Every choice...equally appealing, and for different reasons. I couldn't help but picture a hypothetical win against each one, imagining the celebration they'd cause. Yet I could not waste anymore time or anymore of my nerves. I stared at Cress's Panpour, drew in a deep breath, and grabbed my hat by the rim, fixing its position to sit tighter. I then stated my decision, folding my arms.

***

"I choose...Chili."

Iris and Ash gasped, and so did Cilan.

Cress squinted slightly, tilting his head. "Weren't you just looking at Panpour at the last moment?"

"I was," I answered, smiling. "Panpour would've been my...second choice. But...Pansear is definitely it."

"Are you sure about this, Timothy?" Cilan asked.

"Positive," I said and nodded firmly, arms unfolding.

"Alright," he said in a tone that clearly implied I'd made an ill-informed choice. Cilan then returned his Pansage to its Poké Ball, and Cress did the same with his Panpour.

"Then let's get ready!" Chili announced.

"You can all watch over in those bleachers," Cress said to my friends. He faced me and continued. "I'll be the official referee, if you'd like."

"That's fine," I told him.

"Good luck!" Ash said, thrilled.

"With those odds," Iris stated dryly, "you're gonna need it."

"Eheh," I answered. "Right, I know."

"You ready then?" Chili asked, forming an excited fist out in front.

"Sure," I answered. Under my breath, I whispered, "I guess Gym Leaders can have passion too."

***

Around 20 feet away -- from my left to right -- sat Mario, Cilan, Iris, and Ash in the bottom row of the blue-gray bleachers. Cress stood just outside of the midfield line. I stayed on (from the entrance's point of view) the right end of the rectangle, while Chili and his Pansear remained on the opposite end.

"Alright, call out your Pokémon!" Cress commanded.

I nodded and drew out what he asked for, throwing it upward. The Ball opened mid-air and let Snivy out; I caught and returned it to its place at once.

"Snivy," I said, leaning down to the Pokémon; it turned to me. "This is it -- our first Gym Battle. Are you...ready?"

It simply nodded, saying only an affirmative "Sni-vy" and nothing more. I nodded and smiled in return.

"Are you two ready?" Cress asked.

"We're ready," I answered.

"Alright, then. What is your name again?"

"Timothy."

"And," Cress paused. "A last name?"

He almost seemed to not necessarily need to know my last name with that question, yet I answered, "It's Timothy...'Stevens.'"

"Right. And...where are you from in---you're from the Real World, right?"

I nodded.

"Where...exactly, then?"

"Well...I doubt anyone else from the Real World is a Pokémon Trainer---for real, anyway. So...I'll just represent the world itself."

"Alright then." Cress drew in a breath and, with help from the acoustics of the room, spoke loud enough for anyone and everyone in the arena to hear:

"The Gym Battle between Chili of the Striaton Gym and the challenger, Timothy Stevens of the Real World---" he paused, holding back a laugh. "The...battle...will now begin. Each Trainer will use one Pokémon each, and the battle will be over when either side's Pokémon is unable to continue. The challenger gets to call out the first move."

My eyes fixed on Snivy, with my index finger and thumb stuck on my chin, and my right hand under my left arm -- as if it were in a sling. "Snivy," I said to it. "You...are you ready?"

It turned, faced me, and said "Sni-vy!" with a purely focused look.

"Right." I let my eyes wander around the room, the battlefield, the spectators, and my opponents, which, because of the positioning of the rocks, were still perfectly visible.

***

I breathed slowly. My heart and mind both refused to cease pounding and thrashing at my body, which had no other option but to try and sweat out the nerves. The choice of Snivy's first move to make -- even with it only knowing three -- remained impossible to decide on for the moment. One was strategical, two offensive. I eventually went with what I felt to be the safest move.

Thrusting my left arm outward and pointing at Pansear, I gave Snivy the command: "Snivy! Use Leer!"

At that exact moment, the theme from Pokémon: Black and White that plays during a Gym Battle began -- a theme from the first Unova region Pokémon games. Its dramatic, electronic, invigorating tune, along with drum beats, some sort of trumpet, and the undeniable presence of something fantastic occurring in its rhythm left me speechless for a time.

Snivy's eyes flashed a bright red, and out shot crescent-shaped red glares toward Pansear. The pair of energies struck the monkey within three seconds. Pansear's body took on the same hue, with its red fur appearing to light on fire.

I began running the various Fire-type moves I'd learned of so far through my head. "Let's see...there's Flamethrower, Ember, Fire Blast---"

"Well," Chili called out. "If you're not going to attack, I will! Pansear!" He pointed. "Use Flame Charge!"

I flinched. That was a move I did not know of. "Snivy!" I froze. "Uhhmmm...dodge it!"

Snivy dashed forward, which initially seemed against my orders. It then halted after running around ten feet ahead; I guessed that it did not want me caught in the action.

Pansear stomped the ground repeatedly, alternating between is right foot and its left. It spoke the words "Pan-Pan-Pan-Pan" in sync with each foot. The stomping and speaking continued, increasing in speed and force. Dust and small pebbles levitated within a yard-long radius around the primate, which soon collected to such a thick degree that Pansear was entirely shrouded by the gritty fog. Thin flashes of red, yellow, and orange flames protruded erratically out of the mist, with an explosive, deafening roar of fiery embers. Soon, Pansear itself blasted out of the veil. Its arms, legs, head, fur atop its head, shoulders, hands, feet, tail, and torso all had encased themselves in pure flame. The simian being raced forward, shouting "SSEEEAAR!" Its arms stayed up at its side, its mind and body prepared to strike at full, unrelenting force.

Snivy waited. No motion needed, apparently. It sat, eyeing the foe, and leaped at a dangerously short distance from the monkey. It flew over the primate and watched as the attacker shoved its hands and feet into the ground, halting its forward momentum. The flames dissipated the moment it ceased moving. Pansear remained roughly ten feet from me, but walked a few extra feet away.

I smiled, relieved that Snivy succeeded in evading an attack I knew nothing of. "Snivy!" I pointed once more, this time with more vigor. "Use Tackle!"

The instant Snivy landed, it rotated and immediately darted for its victim. Its little legs pushed it forward at a tremendous pace, kicking up an amount of dust which seemed unlikely for such a small-sized disturbance. Pansear received the hit without even having the time to view its attacker first, and was sent five feet closer to me, scattering dirt as it hit the surface.

Chili said something quietly to himself, which I quickly understood to say, "That Snivy is fast." He held his right hand in a fist and on the palm of his left hand, and commanded, "Okay...Pansear! Use Flamethrower!"

I nodded firmly. "Snivy!" I glanced a boulder of more than twice the size of Snivy and less than half the distance from it. "Get behind that rock!"

Snivy sneaked its way to said position without a second thought.

Pansear, facing Snivy's direction, held its head back, stating, "Pannnn" and then shut its mouth tight. After a brief pause, it thrusted its head forward and its arms backward, proclaiming the latter half of its name and spewing forth a two foot wide, red-and-orange blast of absolute fire.

Something of an instinct forced me to tell Snivy to jump as high as it could. It did so, and then gazed at the blistering beam blow to pieces the rock which previously was thought to be a safe barrier. Four seconds passed, and the aptly-named Flamethrower ceased; thankfully, Snivy landed not a second later, and right where the flames had been striking the unshielded ground. Snivy jumped further away, since the dirt's temperature had risen.

My eyes widened. Not even I was able to harness such a consistent blast of flames yet. "Snivy! Use Slam!"

The Grass Snake leaped diagonally upward and toward its target, spinning the appropriate amount forward so as to hold its tail out in front. Its jump and angling fit perfectly with its aim to land on Pansear.

Chili smirked, making me lean back. "Use Fire Punch!" he commanded, performing an upward jab into the air.

"Oh no," I responded. "Not---"

Pansear's right palm formed a fist, glowed, and instantly, the hand transformed into a roaring, crackling blaze of flame. Right as Snivy approached to an arm's length away, Pansear thrusted up its engulfed fist and, with a fantastic yet frightening flourish, its fist collided with Snivy's tail, producing a horizontal, circular, fiery blast around the impact point. Snivy was launched away, some ten feet, and into a boulder triple that of its own height.

Chili then ordered Pansear to use Flame Charge; I told Snivy to "get outta there," yet it could not. It took the flaming hit directly, getting smashed through the rock with a horrendous quake; the boulder pathetically broke into rocks which could pass as large pebbles.

"Snivy!" I called out to it, unable to see through the cloud of debris. A shadowy silhouette of it stood up; the smoky veil faded, revealing Snivy to still be standing. "Can you still go on?" I asked it, already tempted to call off the match.

It sent me a determined, unstoppable look. "Sni-vy-vy!" it told me, its eyes fixated on victory. Against my wishes to end its suffering, I allowed it all to continue.

"Use Flamethrower!" Chili commanded.

"Snivy!" I cut in. "Use Leer! Quick!"

Before Pansear could charge up its fiery wrath, two glowing silhouettes of Snivy's eyes reached Pansear and encased it in red, forcing the monkey to flinch; the Flamethrower was postponed.

"Now! Use Slam, Snivy!"

Snivy ran forward and lunged up immediately, aiming itself and its tail directly at Pansear. Snivy shouted "Snnniii-vvvvyyyy!" as it fell. Since I stood in the direction Snivy had moved, I witnessed its outright trust toward me, as its eyes were entirely closed.

Chili growled. "Alright, change into Flame Charge!" he yelled; I noticed his face lighting up red -- his anger toward the Leer's flinching effect, no doubt.

Pansear quit holding its head back, and now proceeded to stomp continuously on the ground, covering itself once more in dust.

I saw no need to change Snivy's attack, and instead cheered it on as it reached its target. Pansear, however, was miraculously finished with charging up Flame Charge, and lunged out of the dust to Snivy a split second before it landed. Snivy, despite not holding back its Slam attack, was blasted away; another cruel boulder broke Snivy's fall.

Pansear's momentum ceased after making the connection. Chili seized the opportunity and commanded, with sheer passion, "Pansear! Fire Blast!"

"Oh no!" I flinched back. "Snivy!" I waved an arm out in front. "Dodge it!"

Snivy placed its frail, green arms on the dirt and feebly attempted to push itself up. Its arms wobbled and soon collapsed under pressure, sending the helpless creature straight to the dust. I was the only one capable of seeing it -- Snivy was already down.

Guilt over the loss and Snivy's injuries paralyzed my voice. My ability to speak on Snivy's behalf -- gone. I knew the next attack well. One of the most powerful Fire-type moves, from what I read.

Pansear's head tilted back, as before. It paused, built up more energy, and a brief flash of orange light appeared from inside its mouth. It barely murmured, as it charged up, "Pannnn..." Its eyes were closed.

I raced forward, past the fiery monkey, and straight to Snivy. Chili called out, "Hey! What are you doing!?", but I still could not speak. I turned and faced the enemy, Pansear.

Its head bent back a small bit further, and it instantly threw its head forward; its arms remained behind itself. Pansear's mouth opened, followed by a massive outburst of fiery energy that blasted the area with deafening noise. The fire it released immediately morphed into the shape of a five-pointed star, only each point of the star was represented by a single line of flames jutting out from the center. Each line amounted to just over 2 feet across, making the whole magnificent structure roughly five feet in diameter. Only a short and thin trail of fire existed behind it.

I held out my hands in front, my left palm blocking the right, my right hand clasped around the back of my left hand and partially around the palm of it. I positioned my feet a few inches behind me, leaning the rest of me forward; my left foot stood a small amount further back, providing the most support.

The dazzling glow of the star of embers captivated me. All I could see now remained engulfed in flames. I took in a deep, preparative breath, lit up my left hand with its own flames, and waited.

Not a second passed, and the move struck. I received it first with a grunt, and soon, a shout. Everyone but Mario yelled in horror as they watched the inferno encase my entire body, thrashing, dancing, raging all over me and back again. My head turned away and faced where Snivy laid. Snivy then managed to peer up at me, and quickly awoke fully, in shock at what it beheld.

"Sss...sni...vy," I told it, the fire's hold on me increasing. "I...know you...were down. But...you're...gonna...be...fine now."

Gradually facing where the flames originated, I shut my eyes and let out my own deafening roar: "Eeerrrrrrrr...gah...HAAAAAHHH!!!!!"

The inferno ceased thrashing erratically about, and, in an instant, flowed along my body toward my chest and then over my left arm. Separating my hands from each other, I took upon myself all the energy and power behind the flames, leading the fiery blaze to my left hand. It slowly formed a fist the more flames it absorbed; once it reached fist form entirely, the whole arm vibrated violently. The fire, the energy, even the heated air around the area all now darted for the hand if it had not already, accompanied by a smaller-scale sound of a jet plane.

Once all the flames became manageable, I moved my fisted hand up and then threw it down to waist level, un-fisting it. The fire and heat dissipated at once, followed by a short, almost thunderous echo. I removed the sweat from my brow with my other arm. Seeing the complete lack of flames, I sighed deeply. The music faded away.

***

"Wha...what was that?" Cress managed to ask.

Still facing Pansear (which now had a concerned look like everyone else), I answered, "Snivy was already down before Pansear fired that attack." I turned to Cress. "Chili won."

I returned Snivy to its Poké Ball without looking at it. Holding the Ball close to my mouth and with my eyes closed, I whispered, "I don't know if you can hear me, but thanks. It's my fault we lost -- not yours." I placed the now minimized Ball in my right pocket.

Cilan, Ash, and Iris left the bleachers and came up to where Cress stood. "Are you alright?" Cilan asked. Ash and Iris had the same look of worry.

"I'm fine," I told them, a slight harshness in my tone. Turning to Chili, who walked to within a foot of the rock that had blocked everyone's view of Snivy, I said, "Thanks for having me."

"Well," he answered, unsure of what to say. "You can...rematch us whenever you want."

"Right." I nodded and turned away.

Without so much as looking at the others, I walked to where we'd come in and clapped my hands as Chili and Cress did. The walls opened. I left the café, ignored the two girls who evidently waited up for me, and headed straight for the Pokémon Center.

By the time Ash, Cilan, and Iris arrived at the café's main entrance to meet up with me, I was long gone out of their sights.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Last edited by Psalmist on Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Dec 30, 2014 11:41 pm
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Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 8:36 pm
Posts: 933
Location: Sinnoh Route 228
Country: United States (us)
Gender: Male
MGN Username: Goombario64
Currently Playing: SSB4
I'm so happy to finally get to introduce this new character (hence why this chapter was finished so quickly). You'll have to read to see who it is!

Chapter 9 - A New Friend: show
I stood, motionless, leaning up against the Center's counter in the lobby. Snivy had just been taken back by Nurse Joy to get checked up and healed from the battle.

I looked away; the memory of Snivy's desperate attempt to keep fighting held me down. No way to ignore it, no way to forget it, no way to even accept it. We lost. Snivy suffered. I had not trained it enough. It clearly was not ready -- neither was I.

"That was a great---"

"Aah!" I said, jerking. I looked up to see the source. "Who...Oh." It was Cilan; Ash and Iris stood on either side of him -- Ash on his right, Iris on his left.

I angled my face down and to the left; my hat shaded my eyes from everyone's view.

"Sorry," Cilan said. "I didn't mean to startle you. That was a great battle though."

"Umm, Cilan," I answered. "I lost. I don't see what's so great about it."

"But it was your first one!" Ash stated happily. "It's never easy the first time around, but once you train some and plan out your strategy, you'll do a lot better next time!"

"Yeah," Iris spoke up in a sarcastic tone. "This coming from the guy who never really won his first Gym Badge."

Ash stumbled forward a bit and nearly fell. "Come on, Iris."

Unseen by the three, I smiled.

"Ash has a good point though," Cilan stated.

Mario walked through the automatic doorway and leaned against the wall beside the entrance. His cap did essentially the same as mine, covering his eyes with dark gray shade.

"Where's Snivy?" Cilan asked.

"With Nurse Joy," I answered.

Silence befell the room for a time. I sensed everyone but Mario experiencing sorrow toward my loss.

"Listen," I said, being sure to be heard clearly in spite of my hat's position. "Throughout all my travels and training in the Mushroom World, I've encountered a bunch of challenges. Many I've completed immediately; some took a while; and others...I had to come back to them later, once I was more prepared. But I never give up. Not then, not ever, and not now. I'm going to train Snivy to fight against that Pansear, regardless of that monkey's Fire-type attacks.

"We will win next time," I stated, looking up at the three, allowing light to reveal my determined expression. "Count on it."

They each nodded, smiling.

"That's the spirit!" Ash said, a typical fist out in front.

"You really had us going there," Cilan said.

I glimpsed Mario -- just as calm-looking as ever. "I guess Mario saw it all coming," I said, half laughing. "Makes sense."

"Wait," Iris cut in. "How'd you get here so fast? We didn't walk that slow, and you already got Snivy to Nurse Joy before we even got here!"

"You'd be surprised how fast I can run," I answered. "And I ran so Snivy would get healed as quickly as possible."

"Well that's one way to do it," Cilan laughed.

"So, Timothy," Ash spoke up. "How are you going to train? The same way as before, with battling us and all?" Pikachu then asked presumably the same question, saying, "Pika-chuuu?"

"I...don't know," I told him. "Haven't really thought about it much yet."

Mario walked around the three and came up to me. He jumped up and over me, landing behind the counter, and was accompanied by a high-pitched "Oommnnnn!"

"I didn't know Mario actually made that noise when he jumps," Cilan said, perplexed.

"He doesn't," I laughed. "That was me."

Mario turned around while rolling his eyes and shaking his head. "He always does that."

"Heh," I answered, still facing opposite of his position. "You're Mario; you set yourself up for it every time you jump, you know."

"Oh," he put his gloved palm over his face. "Mamma-mia."

I made a reverse sniff, laughing inside and nodding.

"Maybe so," Mario said, removing his hand. "But...you know, about your training -- with Snivy, I mean. Why don't you think back to the past year-and-a-half or so? It might do you good."

I raised an eyebrow. "What does my training have to do with Pokémon?"

"You'll figure it out." He paused, then continued. "I have to go now."

"What?" I asked, leaning back slightly. "But what about the---"

"I received a message by phone that those experts I hired have finished fixing the Pixelator. The message came during your battle."

"Right," I said, in thought. "But then…if you had a phone, you---oh, yeah. You still can't contact the MK, since cell phones don't get intergalactic coverage."

Cilan gasped. "You're leaving so soon? How come?"

"I've been out of the Mushroom World and unable to contact anyone for..." Mario paused. "What day is it?"

"Hang on," I said quickly, pulled out my 3DS, and opened it. "October 1st. I started my journey on the 28th, so the SBL party -- the day we both disappeared -- was the 27th." I put the device back.

"So it's almost a week then. Let's see...six days, counting the 27th. Well, I have to get back right away then."

"I understand. It's not very often that Peach is the one looking for you."

"Right, and if she came here the way I did, she'd have to go from castle to---er, umm, Center to Center to reach me."

The right side of my mouth curled up, with me producing another reverse sniff. "Yeah, really."

"Well," Cilan stated, moving a few feet closer. "It was certainly...interesting meeting you here, of all places."

"The same," Mario replied; he looked over to Ash. "Mister Ketchum, I suggest you take some notes when you watch his rematch."

I mouthed his words of "take some notes," peering diagonally up and to the left, wondering why he'd say that.

"Uhh," Ash said blankly. "Why?"

"You'll see."

"Wait, Mario," I spoke up. "How'd you know Ash's last name? We never mentioned it."

"I've seen him in other things," the plumber answered.

"You...oh, yeah, right. The Pokémon anime."

"Mmhmm," he nodded.

Mario turned and headed for the red Nintendo logo door; he paused once he reached it, placing his left hand on it. "Good luck, Timothy. And Ash...you'd better watch out. Looks like you've got another rival." He turned his head rightward, just enough to see Ash. "Be glad he doesn't act like Gary -- or, even worse, Paul."

"Eheh," Ash responded, awkwardly smiling, apparently reminded of an unfortunate past. "Yeah...good thing…"

Mario gave a light hearted "Bye-bye!” which equaled his statement and tone when a Nintendo DS is closed while the game, Super Mario 64 DS, is on. His goodbye must have been meant for Cilan and me, as we both recognized it immediately.

Mario faced the door again and pushed through it. Moments after it quit swinging back and forth, a noise -- strongly resembling a tower of children's toy blocks collapsing -- emanated from the door. Unmistakably, he had used E. Gadd's Pixelator. Mario was now back where he belonged.

A few seconds of silence, and Iris broke it. "That's funny...I thought he would sound...more..."

"Italian?" I asked.

"Yeah, that."

"Mmhmm," I said, nodding and smiling simultaneously. "He gets that a lot."

***

The time reached six O'clock; the sun would set soon. Two hours of resting, and Snivy had been healed. I made a promise to Snivy then: I would train it personally and help it grow stronger, because I knew it wanted to win just as badly as I did. I'd do whatever it takes -- so long as it wasn't illegal -- and we'd start training the next day. The training wouldn't stop after just succeeding with this Gym Battle -- we both aimed to take on seven other Gyms, and eventually, the Unova Pokémon League.

The rest of the evening, I remained on high alert. I made it a point to keep myself fully intact and aware of what I remembered, as I didn't want whatever had occurred with Team Rocket and the headache to happen again.

Nothing seemed out of place throughout that night, though. Thankfully for me, the room we all stayed in on the second floor kept entirely quiet, leaving me with the perfect sleeping environment.

***

"It's time for you two to meet."

I awoke sluggishly, my head buried under blankets. "Really?" I sighed, my eyes barely open. "That voice...again? Wait. Meet...who?"

The same, sleep-interrupting voice, and for the third time. I chose to ignore it, given that this day already handed me enough to deal with, and arose from the bed, pushing away the pink covers.

To my surprise, no one else was up. I eyed the window at the right of the room and noticed the sun barely showing itself, with a vibrant palette of red, yellow, white, cream, some blue, and an especially vast amount of pink, all splashed along the sky.

"Great," I sighed once more. "The voice got me up to meet someone at the crack-ah dawn."

Full of energy, I decided to stay up anyway. I tiptoed leftward, opened the room's cherry wood door, and left, without disturbing anyone.

Assuming the voice to not be myself gone insane, I stopped in the lobby and searched; no one but a coffee-drinking Nurse Joy. I thought for a moment, and then asked Joy if I could use the backyard of the Center for some training. She agreed to it, but requested that I not let it get too loud, so as to not bother the guests that were still asleep inside (which did not just include my friends, since there were other people here). I almost asked if anyone new showed up last night, yet chose against it. "Just a dream," I thought. "Nothing more."

***

The field behind the Center was sized almost identically to the battlefield the Striaton Gym used -- 30 feet long, 20 feet wide – and ran parallel to the Center. Pine trees stood watch on all sides excluding the Center's side, barely allowing the paved street beyond the Center's grounds to be seen. The perfect place to practice.

"Snivy, come on out," I said plainly, throwing a Poké Ball up; liquid-like white light poured Snivy out onto the grassy terrain. We now stood at the exact center point of the field.

"Snivy," I said to it, sitting down and crossing my legs together. "Mario mentioned that I should think back to my own training that got my combat skills where they are today. He thinks that will help me train you, somehow. Any ideas how that could be possible?"

It shook its head, eyes closed. "Sni-vy snivy..."

"Oh yeah, right. You don't really know how I trained." I paused, recalling the basics. "What usually happened was that Mario, and-or Luigi, would perform a movement, attack, combo, or whatever, and I would copy it. Pretty simple sounding, right?"

Snivy nodded.

"Well...it was a lot more difficult than that sounds, but the concept is easy to get. I just...don't understand how my training, as rigorous and tedious as it sometimes got...is supposed to help you get stronger."

Snivy moved its left arm toward its head and tapped it a couple times, grinning. "Sni-sni vy."

I began chewing my fingernails, and for the moment, had no answer to the riddle. The Mushroom World had almost nothing to do with the Pokémon World. Mario's fighting style and my own did not mix well with Pokémon -- Meowth learned that lesson quickly.

"Wait." I removed the fingers from my teeth's grasp. "It's so simple. How could I not have figured it out earlier? Snivy!" I directed all my attention to it. "I've got it!"

"Snivy?" it asked, tilting its head slightly.

"After I train with the others for a bit today and help you get a bit stronger, I'll perform pieces of my fighting style in front of you. And then you'll try and copy it. That's what Mario meant!"

Snivy's razor-like eyes widened; it then squinted slowly and said, "Sni-sni vy vy snivy?", as if to say, "You really think that would work?"

I nodded. "Yeah, Snivy, I think this could work. It might take time, but...I'm sure you're adaptable enough to pull it off, right?"

It held its head up high and answered, "Vy-sni-sni vy!"

"I thought so." I smiled -- the psychological trick succeeded, even for a Pokémon.

My stomach growled and hissed, chewing and eating away at itself, alone and void of common consumables.

"Oh," I said, seeing that Snivy heard the rumble. "Awful early for breakfast, but...okay. I think I saw some food over on a wheeled table in the center of the Center's lobby. Snivy, you want any? I know you were fed by Nurse Joy yesterday evening, and I know I fed you before we all went to bed, but...do you?"

It shook its head, dismissively stating, "Snivy sni-vy."

"Alright then."

Wasting no time, I returned Snivy to its Poké Ball, got up, and jogged to the sliding glass doors; thankfully for me, they opened without hesitation. I already had reached the point of hunger to where a sickened feeling erupts in it. I needed some sort of nourishment. No doubt.

***

Someone stood in the doorway.

A girl, barely shorter than me yet appearing to be 15 or 16. She had a considerably large amount of slightly dark blue hair, which reached the middle of her back. She wore a mini dress with a black, sleeveless, v-necked top; a white undershirt; and a red scarf wrapped around her neck, with some of it lying along her torso. Her dress ended in a pink skirt which ended around two to three inches from her knees, and was separated from the black top of the dress by an invisible zigzag line all around the waist. A somewhat triangular, golden-yellow hair barrette sat along either upper side of her face, causing a straight clump of hair to come down the side of her face on both sides, with each clump ending in three points; both strips of hair reached to just over an inch from her shoulders. These barrettes were partially hidden by a white beanie on her head which had a pink Poké Ball symbol -- tilted clockwise at a 45 degree angle -- on its front.
The girl wore pink boots reaching a good six inches past her ankles, while the black socks underneath reached an inch past the boots. On her right wrist, a thin, black, plastic bracelet with two light purple beads existed, while on her left wrist, she wore a digital, pink wrist watch. She carried a yellow bag on her back with multiple zipped-up pockets and a shoulder strap for each shoulder. Her nose was noticeably small, and the girl's eyes were shaped akin to Ash and Iris -- anime shaped. Her eyes were also profoundly blue.

"Oh, hello," she said when she saw me. "I thought I heard someone talking out here. Was it you?"

I gave no answer.

"It was you, right?" She leaned forward a bit and looked around, both hands held together behind her. "Well, there's no one else out here, so it must be you."

I remained silent.

"Are you okay?"

Still, I said nothing.

"My name's Dawn. What's yours?" Receiving no response, she put her hands on her hips and leaned forward once more, frowning. "What's the matter? Can't you talk?"

I couldn't get over the first thought I had when I saw her: there was something different about her. Exactly what difference this was, I could not tell. No one person, creature, or being I'd ever met during any of my travels produced this thought. Sure, some creatures and people had a fervent, unique quality to them, but it all fit within the realm of the world I happened to be in. This girl, "Dawn," did not.

"Helloooo," she said, waving the arm with the bracelet in front of me. "You there?"

I blinked twice and slowly shook my head. "Huh? Oh, hello."

"You okay? You seem kind of...well...out of it."

"No," I answered. "I'm fine. I just..."

"Just...what?"

"Noth---it's nothing. Never mind."

"Well, what's your name?"

"Timothy." I walked in through the doorway, remembering the front doors' automatic mechanism. Dawn moved to my left side, letting me in.

"Nice to meet you. I umm...I'm sorry if I'm in your way or something."

"Oh, no, you're not in my way."

"'Kay, good." She smiled. "Who were you talking to?"

"Uhh, a Pokémon -- my Pokémon. It's, well, in my pocket and all now, so..."

"Oh, I see." She paused and looked with half-shut eyes at me. "You look like you could use some breakfast." She pointed her right thumb behind her shoulder and aimed it toward a hallway to the left. "There's some food in the lobby if you want some."

"How did you...that's where I was headed, actually."

"Really?"

"Yeah. How did you know?"

"I didn't. You just looked hungry is all."

"Well, I am. But I don't know how you knew that, either."

She shrugged. "Me neither. I just...knew."

I looked around the room, eyeing the spiral staircase straight ahead that lead up to the second floor, the same question filling my mind: how did she know I needed to eat?

"I have an idea," she spoke up, removing the fight for an answer in my mind. "I'm about to get something to eat, too, so...why don't we eat together?"

"Togeth---" I blinked twice again. "But we just met."

"I know. But I've been traveling for a week now, and nothing has really happened yet. I'm kind of...bored."

I nodded. "Been there..." After a pause, I told her, "Sure, I'll sit with you."

Dawn and I walked diagonally forward and leftward, and headed through the hallway, soon reaching the lobby. We then went over to the silver cart, entirely ready to eat. The cart had many more options than I originally spotted -- pancakes, maple syrup, bacon, muffins...all typical breakfast items that I would eat back home, along with obligatory plates; forks; butter knives; plastic cups; thick, washable, pink napkins made of some kind of linen; and glass pitchers with various juices. The pancakes were only half the size of a dinner plate, yet over half an inch thick, and outrageously fluffy.

Just as Nurse Joy called out for us to do then, we helped ourselves to what we wanted. Dawn got pink, strawberry lemonade and two pancakes with some syrup and butter, while I got red, raspberry lemonade; four pancakes drowned in butterless syrup; and six juicy, extra-crispy, greasy strips of apple wood-smoked bacon. Nurse Joy then said she needed to go wake up her Pokémon assistant and left through the Nintendo door.

We chose to sit at the booth closest to the hallway we came in through, meaning the booth to the back-right of the lobby, if viewed from the entrance. Dawn sat with her back to the hallway, while I sat on the opposite end, facing her. She kept her yellow bag by her left side.

Dawn evidently withheld her true hungry self before, since she began eating long before I did.

***

Every time Dawn took another bite of pancake or swallow of her drink, she kept looking straight at me. Continuous, consistent, and constant, she never seemed to quit staring. I'd glance down at my food, enter another mass of squishy pancake or crunchy bacon into my gullet, and then look back up; again and again, she wouldn't stop. Eventually, it creeped me out to the point where it had to end.

"Why do you keep staring at me?" I asked her, having just swallowed.

"Bec---" she paused and gulped. "Because you remind me of someone."

"I do?" I asked, slicing off a piece of chewy goodness and chowing down.

"Yeah." She took a sip of her drink and put the glass down. "You match the description of someone that some people have given me. But," she smiled, looking away. "You couldn't be him."

"Oh? Why not?" I stuffed the last piece of the second pancake into me, and then thought, in disbelief, "Man these pancakes are good." I gulped down a good portion of the remaining drink.

"It...never mind." She focused back on me. "It's ridiculous, really."

"Try me." I began cutting the third circle of gooey fluff, and during Dawn's next statement, barely managed to get it in my mouth.

"Well...okay." She snatched up the last sliver of the first pancake she worked on and finished it swiftly, swallowing a few drops of pink lemonade with it. "You remind me of what the most recent SBL champion looks like, from what I've heard anyway."

"Oh really?" I said, still chewing, trying desperately not to laugh.

"Yeah," she said, nearing a sigh. "I wish I could meet him."

One snort from me then, and I immediately lost my ability to breathe. Already my face turned red, with me gasping for air and gripping my throat.

Dawn stood up. "Are you okay?"

She almost removed herself from the booth to either help me directly or go get Nurse Joy, yet I held up a finger, halting her. Latching onto my glass, I attempted to stream the liquid raspberry drink into me, yet realized the glass was hopelessly empty and slammed it down on the table.

"Here, take mine!" Dawn handed off her cup without hesitation.

I forcibly poured the drink into the clogged passageway, which soon overflowed and wasted half of what I chugged onto the table. Despite putting pillows to shame with its soft appeal, the mapley pancake and what remained of the drink sluggishly and painfully sank down.

Gradually, the color in my face returned to normal as I sucked in a heap of air.

"Are you alright?" Dawn leaned forward, a frowning, eyebrow-lowering expression overcoming her face.

"I'm...fine," I answered, breathing deeply.

"You sure? You're breathing awfully hard."

"Yes, I'm fine. Here, you can have this back." I gave her the glass, picked up some napkins we had set aside, and began using them for the mess. "These napkins are pink? That's odd."

"Well every Pokémon Center has its own color theme. It matches the cross on its Nurse Joy's hat."

"Oh, I thought those different cross colors meant something..."

She sat back down slowly. After a moment, she asked, "What did I say anyway? That made you choke?"

"The last thing you said, about wanting to meet the SBL champion."

She folded her arms; with an offended look, she protested, "Wha---it could happen!"

"Tch," I responded, smiling. "Suurrrre it could."

"I can dream can't I?"

Placing my left hand over my mouth, I laughed without opening, with the airy laugh coming mostly from my nose.

"What's so funny?"

"Oh, nothing. You just have no idea how ironi---oh no, not another one." The left hand covered my face. "You're not one of those fangirls that flops over famous people like the SBL champion are you?"

"Wha...of course not!" Her arms folded in tighter. "I just want to know how he does what he does, that's all.

"Oh," I sighed, uncovering my face. "Whew, good."

"What...do you mean?"

I selected another piece of pancake and chewed, saying, "Nothing. Just---hang on." I swallowed. "Look, in the interest of my health and, well, living...I'll let you in on a little secret."

I leaned in and held up a hand to block my mouth from the rest of the room, letting only Dawn see and hear the mouth speak (despite no one else actually being in the lobby). Dawn angled herself forward to listen.

"Secretly, I actually am the SBL champion."

Dawn burst into laughter and fell back into the booth; she laughed so profusely as to tint her complexion red.

"What?" I asked, laughing with her. "How is that so crazy?"

"Well," she drew in some air and was now in a giggle. "You...well, for one thing, the way he was described, he sounded taller than you."

"Wha---" My eyes rolled, my head momentarily facing upward. "Why does everyone jump to the height thing? Mario isn't much taller than me, and he's an adult!"

She still giggled, shielding her mouth with her right hand and occasionally looking away.

"Look," I told her. "The way the Lakitu cameraman angles the camera makes all the participants look taller than they really are, especially the shorter ones. How else could Ness, someone who used to be 13 years old in Smash Bros., be so tall? And Pikachu is comparatively huge sometimes!"

"Well," she paused, trying to calm herself. "Even then, the odds of that person being in the Pokémon World at a time like this? You can't expect me to believe that."

I folded my arms. "Oh really? Well, I happen to have a piece of hardcore proof right here with me."

"Oh you do?" she asked sarcastically.

"Yeah, I do. And it's right here." I unfolded my arms and held up my left hand. "Remember how he fought? With fire and all?"

"Well I've only heard about him, but yeah. So?"

"So, watch this. I have that exact ability. See?" I snapped my fingers, fully intending to light up my hand with its hypnotic blaze.

...But nothing happened.

"Wow, that's really...impressive." She began giggling again.

"What?" I held up my hand in front, examining it all around. "Oh." I caught a glimpse of some leftover pink lemonade from the spill, apparently attached to the back of the hand. "Hang on." Whisking away a napkin, I dried up the area at once. "It doesn't work if my hand is wet."

I swiftly snapped the fingers once more, and instantly, the hand lit up as usual.

Dawn jerked back in her seat, saying, "Wha...what? But...how...what?" She scooted a few inches forward in her seat, stood up, and leaned over the table, her hands pressing on top for support. "How are you...that..."

"It's just a sort of gift of mine," I answered, smiling. "A gift I had to work for for a good while, but still. It wasn't easy to learn, but now it comes naturally, just like everything else I do."

"That's...amazing! How does that not hurt you?" The strips of dark blue hair along the left and right sides of her face -- as well as her scarf -- began to dangle precariously out in front as she leaned forward and hung over the flames.

"Well, I'm not all that sure. It's like my body produces whatever is needed for that fire on its own now. It's...a part of me, somehow."

"Wow," her eyes widened, glittering bright in the light. "That's...awesome!"

"Umm---wait, Dawn! Your hair!"

"Oh!" She instinctively raised her right hand off of the table and held the rightward strip of hair up and away from the flames. I cut off the fire entirely, relieved that her hair wasn't caught in it.

Dawn spoke in a hushed tone, looking at me, "That was clo---"

Her left hand, situated on a pink napkin and the only thing keeping her upright, slipped in toward her, the napkin sliding with it. She attempted to keep propped up by grabbing my left hand with her right, yet missed entirely, and flopped face-first into my last, syrup-soaked pancake.

I bit my bottom lip. "You...okay?" I asked, looking down.

The mush latched onto her as she ascended off of the plate, creating an awful sound of "Ssscchhlaap!" when her face finally lifted.

"I...think so," she answered, rising up to face me.

I bit my lip harder, barely avoiding a snort. The entirety of her face was completely covered in syrupy-brown, pancake-ridden goop; every few seconds, strips of unfinished, gooey bacon would plop back onto the plate from whence they came.

"Dawn," I said, scarcely withholding my inner laughter. "You've got a little something, right---" I held the palms of my hand in front of me -- making it appear from my angle that they pointed to the left and right extremities of Dawn's face -- and finished the sentence: "There."

"Very funny," she responded sarcastically.

"Here," I said, reaching in and grabbing the same napkin she slipped on. I handed her the cloth. "You might need this," I told her, busting into uncontainable laughter.

Dawn retreated from the table and sank into the seat; at once, she shut her eyes and hurriedly wiped away the slimy, sticky soup. The napkin became saturated with syrup; she barely managed to remove it all. Once it was sopped up and she put down the cloth, it became clear that she was blushing -- and rather excessively, almost reaching to her forehead. I ceased laughing immediately.

"You okay?" I asked, my heart crushed to dust.

"N-o," she said hoarsely. Dawn glimpsed the two strips of hair that hung out in front of her, and grabbed both of them. "Aah! My hair!"

I saw that, as she ran her fingers along the two clumps of hair, they truly did turn into clumps. The syrup-and-pancake mix had collected and molded around the hair, stickying both offshoots up and hardening to keep each strip stuck in the same, immobile position. They remained at a small angle away from her face.

"Ooh," I said, inhaling air through my teeth, head tilting back, left eye squinting. "That's...not gonna come out easily."

"Oh, y-ou th-ink!?" she snapped harshly, yet still with a hoarse voice. She looked around the room erratically and continued in the same tone. "Ohhh, I've g-ot to g-et this fixed."

Dawn grabbed her bag, stood up, and shifted over and out of the booth. Strapping the bag on, she turned around. "I'll...be r-ight back." She furiously glared at me, eyes blazing. "A-nd you'd b-ett-er be h-ere!"

Nurse Joy walked through the Nintendo door. Dawn turned right as Joy reached the counter and fast-walked by, going straight through the hallway, most likely heading to the staircase, as there was only one room on the first floor.

***

"What happened?" Nurse Joy asked.

"Nothing," I answered.

"Well, something happened." Joy frowned. "I've seen a lot of people here, and she looked like she...was about to cry."

My eyes opened wide as I sank into the booth, placing a hand over my mouth and nose. "Oh, crap," I sighed deeply, closing my eyes for a moment. "I made her cry."

"DANG IT!" I slammed my fist on the cushioned seat, fixating my view on the hand. "I knew getting comeback training was a bad idea! Now look what I've done!"

"What did you do?" Nurse Joy asked.

"Just being myself," I sighed, peering at the high ceiling. "I didn't mean to hurt her."

"Do you know her?"

"Well, probably not for long."

"Do you want me to---"

"No, I have to fix this myself. Just..." I waved my right hand, angled away from me. "Just...go do whatever it is Nurse Joys do. She'll be back in a bit, hopefully."

"Well, alright. There is one Pokémon that I wanted to check up on this morning. I'll leave once she comes back -- if she does."

"Right, thanks."

***

5 minutes passed.
5 more minutes.
10 more.
Another 10.

No sign of her.

After the first 20 minutes, Nurse Joy left for the Pokémon she mentioned, leaving me alone. I sat there -- my chin resting on the palm of my left hand, my elbow firmly propped up on the table -- for the remaining 10. I never had the heart to keep eating, not even if it was fresh off the cart.

Finally, footsteps -- heavy ones, likely created from boots. I quickly shifted my focus up and removed my hand and arm from their place.

Dawn treaded in with her right fingers latched under her right shoulder strap and her left arm at her side. I got up and stood in her path once she came close.

I began speaking. "Dawn, I---"

"Just forget about it," she said and walked closer. "I was going to go Nacrene City later today anyway." She then went around me, saying, "I'm just gonna go now."

"No, wait," I responded, placing a hand on her left shoulder.

She halted abruptly, turned, looked at the hand, and then back at me.

"Uh---sorry," I said, removing the hand. "I...just..." I sighed, swallowing. "I...I'm really sorry. I shouldn't have laughed at you earlier. That was really, really stupid of me."

"Well, I shouldn't have yelled at you, either," she frowned.

"No, you had every right to yell. I mean, just a moment before, you practically saved my life, and then I turn around and laugh at you for embarrassing yourself, and 'cause of what? You slipped because I was leading you to the point where you didn't believe I could be the SBL champion, and then I foolishly left my hand on fire while you leaned in to see it. I should've known that wouldn't end well, especially with all that hair you've got."

"I didn't really save your life though. You could've taken that cup yourself...or you could've just gotten something else to drink."

"Or I could've done the Heimlich on myself."

She leaned forward. "You can do that? How?"

"Very carefully."

She smiled, and then frowned again, looking down and away. "I still shouldn't have overreacted so much."

"Dawn, you didn't overreact. And...aren't you still mad at me?"

"Not really," she said in a hushed tone, holding her hands together out in front, between her legs.

"Not even a little?" I held my left hand up and drew its thumb and index finger close to each other.

"No."

I made them almost touch. "Maybe just a smidge?"

She shook her head subtly, humming with denial, "Mmm-mmm."

"Come on, not even a liiiittle bit?" I squinted my eyes, leaning in. "Eehh?"

She smiled, quietly saying, "Okay, maybe just a little," and made the same motion with her right hand's thumb and index finger.

"I thought so," I said, folding my arms, sadly smiling back. "Listen, Dawn, I want to make it up to you."

"Oh, no, you don't---"

"No, Dawn. I do." Arms unfolding, I breathed deeply and prepared myself. "I've come across too many times where I messed up and couldn't fix it. Too many..." I trailed off into past events, with one especially troubling me. "And......I...have that chance now. Please, Dawn, I need to do something. Anything. Please let me."

"I..." She glanced all over what she could see of our half of the lobby, moving only her eyes. "I...can't think of anything."

"Come on," I pleaded. "There has to be something."

"Sorry. I really can't think of anything."

I turned and faced the squashed pancake still lying on its plate, and pointed, focusing my view back on her. "Do you want me to throw that pancake in my face? I'll do it."

"No," Dawn answered. "That'd be a waste of Nurse Joy's napkins."

"Yeah...I guess so. But..." I sighed. "I have to do something. Oh, I know!" I held up my fist next to my head. "I can punch myself, and really hard too!"

"No," she said, nearly laughing. "Don't do that."

"Or I could go hit someone you don't like?"

"No..."

"Really, I---"

"No," she smiled. "Don't."

"Well, I'll do anything. Anything at all. Trust me, I don't bite."

"You sure bit your lip pretty hard..."

I frowned. "I'm sorry. Really, I---"

"It's fine. No need to worry. I just..." She clasped her hands together down in front once more. "I finally figured out that you really were that person I wanted to meet, and then...that...happened."

I sighed again, glancing down. "Yeah..."

***

We stood in the same spot for a solid minute. I tapped my right fingers on the table halfway through and kept it going, while Dawn twiddled her thumbs, still keeping her hands down between her legs.

"Wait," I broke the monotony, tapping no more. "That..."

"What?" Dawn asked.

I paused, grinning. "You said you were bored before, right?"

She nodded.

"Well...do you have any Pokémon with you?"

"Mmhmm." She nodded once more.

"Then let's have a Pokémon battle!"

"A...battle? Now?"

"Yeah, in the backyard of this place. One Pokémon versus another."

"Hmmm..." She placed her right hand along her mouth and chin, her big blue eyes facing up. "Alright, that could work." She looked straight at me. "It's a deal."

A sense of excited relief washed over me; I let out a deep, cooling sigh. "Okay, good. Then...let's go!"

After we cleaned up the slew of food still lying on the table, we both walked by the counter, through the 15-foot hallway, and straight to the sliding glass exit. I glimpsed Nurse Joy in the operating room behind the see-through wall, seeming to be holding something yet it was unclear exactly what. I pressed on, however, not the slightest bit curious. Not once did I think about Ash, Cilan, or Iris, either. I didn't even consider how going through with this battle would give Snivy valuable experience. All I could think about was that I had a shot at reconciliation despite having failed miserably at it in the past.

Finally, a chance to fix my mistakes.


I also changed the OP, simplifying the plot summary and making the whole thing easier to read overall.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Last edited by Psalmist on Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:42 am
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Chapter 10 - Tail of Training: show
"You ready?" Dawn called out.

"Yeah, I am!" I shouted back.

Situated on either side of the field, holding a Poké Ball in one hand, Dawn and I readied ourselves for whatever might come next. I held the Poké Ball in my left hand, and she held hers in her right. From the entrance to the Center's view, I stood on the right of the field, while she waited on the left.

Dawn laid her yellow bag to the left of her, zipping up the pocket which had contained the Poké Ball she was carrying. Adjusting my hat to fit firmly, exhaling subtly, I especially prepared myself. Something about Dawn gave me the sense that she possessed more experience than me; her mentioning of having to "make a choice" as we exited the building did not help matters. This would be far from easy.

The both of us nodding, we threw the devices up, with me saying, "Snivy, come on out!", and Dawn shouting, "Alright then Piplup! Let's go!"

The lightweight spheres opened synchronously, letting out my Snivy and Dawn's Pokémon, Piplup.

With a round head, standing at an inch or two above Snivy's foot-tall height, Piplup clearly resembled a penguin. The top, side, and back of its somewhat shiny head was blue, while most of the rest of its face was white. Its entirely blue eyes, save for the black pupils in them, were oval, as was its short, yellow beak at the center of its face. Above the beak lay a small area of light blue, zigzagging directly into the solid blue at the top of the Pokémon's forehead.
The blue along the side of its head came down around the Pokémon's neck in three dimensions, clustering together into a bubbly shape much like the bottom half of a large bowtie. The same blue also lay along Piplup's back in a thick clump reaching almost to its rear, spiking up partially at the end. Its body was of the same light blue as just above its beak, as were its fingerless flippers. Two white, oval, button-like patterns were on its upper stomach a few inches apart, with the ovals' tips pointing up and down. Its three-toed, two and a half-inch long, skinny, webbed feet were golden yellow.

"A Piplup!" I said excitedly to Dawn. "I know what that is!"

"I'm sure you do!" she responded proudly, closing her eyes. "Piplup is a pretty famous kind of Pokémon."

"I figured."

"Piiip-lllup!" the penguin stated in a rather high-pitched voice, its flippers on its hips.

I knew Piplup from its appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where it would use Surf, a watery wave that pushes foes off of the screen, defeating them. I smiled, knowing I was at an advantage -- Grass versus Water.

***

"I'll let you make the first move," I told Dawn.

"Right," she nodded. "Piplup!" she shouted, pointing, eyes brimming with anticipation. "Use Bubble Beam!"

"'Bubble' Beam?" I said to myself. "What's that gonna---"

Holding its head back, eyes closed, stating "Piiiiip," Piplup flapped its wings, and then lunged its head and neck forward, opening its beak. From inside its mouth, a light blue glow emanated. A second later, the Pokémon proclaimed "Lup-lup-lup!" and gushed a six-inch wide stream of blue, high-pressure water, with numerous three-inch bubbles either inside the blast or barely clinging to its outside. A repeating "toof-toof-toof" accompanied the beam.

"Well," I said, my left hand under my chin. "She wouldn't use that unless---Snivy! Dodge it!"

Snivy leaped forward with a small amount of rightward movement. The Bubble Beam blasted by, barely missing its target. The water poured onto a foot past where Snivy had stood, laying most of the grass out flat, soaked, with the bubbles popping the moment they made landfall.

"Man," I said under my breath. "That would've been a direct hit." I pointed to Piplup, ready to take control. "Snivy! Use Tackle!"

Snivy raced diagonally leftward and straight toward Piplup, tucking in its head and neck, saying, "Snnniiii..."

The attack landed without Dawn having the chance to give a command, launching Piplup a few feet to the right of her.

"Woah," Dawn whispered, eyeing Piplup. "That's a fast Snivy." She smiled on one side, saying to Piplup, with both her hands in a fist at her side, "Use Drill Peck!"

"Drill Peck?" I responded blankly. "Uhh...Snivy! Slam!"

Snivy leaped up as Piplup's beak glowed white. The penguin rotated counterclockwise, paused, and then practically flew up to where Snivy had jumped to, spinning clockwise violently and yelling "Piiiip-luuuuuup!" The blue blur drew in the surrounding air, causing thin strips of light to swirl from its beak to around the rest of its body, glistening remarkably off of its skin.

Snivy flipped forward, smacking its tail downward, straight into Piplup's beak. The collision produced a stunning white aura around the two and a thrilling whir. A second later, Snivy was sent upward in the direction Piplup jumped to, while Piplup descended at only a slightly higher speed than what would be expected normally. Snivy thumped to the ground and pushed itself back up, while Piplup landed gracefully on its toes.

"Great Piplup!" Dawn stated happily, seeming relieved. "Now! Use Ice Beam!"

"Ice!?" I thought, starting to sweat, and continued thinking. "No, that's strong against a Grass-type...I don't know what 'Ice Beam' is, but if it's a 'beam'...wait!" I pointed to Piplup, telling Snivy, "Use Leer!"

Piplup had its head held back, ready to fire the beam. Snivy's glowing red eyes reached the penguin immediately, covering Piplup in red light momentarily, halting the attack.

"Yes!" I shouted. "Now, use Slam!"

Snivy lunged up, and immediately, I regretted my command. "Wait...isn't that what I did with Chi---Oh no!"

Once Snivy reached the height of its jump, Dawn told Piplup to forget about using Ice Beam and go with Drill Peck instead. Piplup charged up the move at once, and leaped up to meet Snivy mid-air, rapidly spinning.

"Snivy!" I yelled. "Stop Slam and dodge it, now!"

Snivy had not yet flung its tail out in front, and quickly flipped it sideways, propelling itself to the right. Piplup's move barely clipped Snivy, pushing it away.

Once the two landed, Dawn called out, "Piplup! Use Hydro Pump!"

"Oh man," I said to myself, halting my ability to move. Snivy appeared incapable of dodging. "Snivy! You'll have to block it!"

Snivy held out its arms, readying itself. Piplup drew its flippers together; a liquid, blue circle appeared at chest level, yet unseen from my angle. The penguin proclaimed, "Piiip...LUUUP!!!", blasting an intense, two-foot-wide wall of water, streaming straight to Snivy. The sheer force behind the attack sent Piplup sliding a few feet in the opposite direction.

"Snnniii...VVYY!" the stubby-legged serpent exclaimed, taking the hit, liquid crashing off of it as a waterfall smacks a river. Not even a second passed, and Snivy was launched against a pine tree seven feet to my right. The high-velocity water soon subsided, leaving a drenched Snivy as it descended, watering the tree.

"Alright Piplup!" Dawn proclaimed. "Use---"

"Wait Dawn!" I cut in, gesturing to my Pokémon with my right arm. "That's enough."

Dawn glanced over at Snivy. "Oh...I see."

I nodded, pulling out a Poké Ball. "Go on and get some rest Snivy. Return." A thin beam of the same hue as Snivy's Leer shot out and retracted into the Ball, pulling the defeated Snivy with it. Dawn, in the corner of my vision, began walking with Piplup at her side, over to me.

***

"I'm surprised I won," Dawn stated when she and Piplup reached within a few feet of me, halting.

"I'm not," I answered frankly.

"Really?" She raised an eyebrow. "But...wait, why didn't you use any Grass-type moves? You knew what Piplup is and all, so...how come?"

"Because it doesn't know any."

"What?" she gasped. "It doesn't?" Dawn stopped talking for a moment and ever-so-slightly squinted her eyes at me. "How long have you had Snivy?"

"About a week," I answered plainly.

"A week!?" she flinched. "Well...you must have just been testing out a new strategy or something."

"No," I told her. "It was just like any other battle. But..." I paused, eyeing Piplup for a moment. "Why...do you sound like I'm experienced with this? It's like you expect me to be really good with battling or something..."

"Well, you are, aren't you?"

"Nope," I laughed, situating my hat to sit tight. "Not with Pokémon anyway. I just starting Pokémon Training a week ago."

"WHAT!?" she gasped again. "But I thought...I mean, you seemed so confident in what you were doing. You sure you haven't done this before?"

"Well, I've been around some people who have a lot more experience than me, but..." I glanced down and away for a few seconds, looking back to Dawn as I continued. "I really haven't spent much time with all this -- at least, not as much as you seem to think."

"Well..." She paused. "I'm surprised. I thought for sure you'd battled with Pokémon a lot by now. And...with your...skills..." she looked quietly to the side for a second or two. "I assumed Snivy would have picked up some from you, and it seems like it did. That's why I'm surprised that I won."

Eyebrows lowering slightly, I replied, "You think Snivy has learned some fighting skills from me?"

She nodded, humming, "Mm-hmm."

"But...I haven't trained it like that yet. That's actually what my plans were for today -- to come up with a way to combine my...skills...with Snivy's."

"Oh." Dawn gazed up at the trees to the left of her, right of me. The pines swayed slowly in a sudden gentle breeze; a spiked, brown pinecone was overtaken, and fell to the ground a couple yards from us. Dawn smiled as she viewed the early-morning, purely blue sky, and then gasped briefly; she fixed her focus back on me.

"You know," she said in thought, trailing off. "I might be able to help you with that."

"With what?"

"With training Snivy." She smiled, barely leaning in, hands held together behind her. "You want to bring out its unique skills and personality right?"

My eyes moved left and out of focus with Dawn. "Well I don't know about 'personality,' but...its abilities, yeah."

"Then that's just what I'll do."

I leaned back, almost ready to laugh. "You have combat skills like I do?"

Dawn smiled, closing her eyes. "Eheheh...not...exactly." Her eyes opened. "But...bringing out a Pokémon's special qualities is what I've been doing for years. It's..." Dawn paused, and quietly continued, her hands between her legs. "It's...sorta...one of my skills, I guess."

"Hmm..." I said, looking down and away, nodding. "I see. Well that makes sense. You seem to be a lot more experienced than me."

"Yeah," she smiled. "Just a little." Dawn glanced up momentarily, her right index finger laying along her chin. "But first," she said, removing her finger. "You'll have to tell me how you...well...fight and all. If you want me to help that is."

I inhaled briefly, without opening my mouth. "Ohhh-kay," I responded, retreating my neck slightly. "I'd rather not."

She tilted her head sideways, now having a blank expression instead of a happy one. "How come?"

"It's...complicated."

"Well your fighting style couldn't be that---"

"Dawn, please," I cut in.

She frowned. "What's wrong?" Piplup, staring up at me, essentially asked the same question, saying, "Pip-lup pip?"

I folded my arms, sighing. "Look, I just...don't like talking about it. Or the SBL thing. It's a long story."

"Hmm..." Dawn's mouth shifted to the side as she gazed at the ground. "Well, if you really don't want to say why, I understand."

I nodded. "Thanks."

"But..." She frowned again. "It's gonna be harder to help you with Snivy if I don't have anything to go by."

"Well you don't have to help me," I told her. "I'm sure the people I'm with can handle it."

"No," Dawn spoke swiftly. "I want to help. I did kinda...ruin your morning."

"Wha---no, you didn't ruin my morning," I said, unfolding my arms, my head leaning back. "It's probably the least boring morning I've had so far. Except for...when I got my Snivy, of course. It's hard to beat that."

"Yeah," she said, smiling again. "I know what you mean."

A short time later, I remembered that my Snivy could use some rest inside the Center, and told Dawn we'd have to wait for the training. She agreed, and the four of us walked back inside. I handed the Pokémon with its Poké Ball to Nurse Joy, while Dawn decided to give Piplup to her as well, despite it not having taken much damage before, with Dawn's reasoning being, "Just in case." We each sat in the same booth as earlier and waited.

***

We remained speechless in the booth for a good minute. I asked Dawn what time her wristwatch said -- 8:30. Ash and the others would likely get up within an hour.

"So," Dawn said shortly after revealing the time. "Do you have any ideas about how you're going to train Snivy?"

"Well," I answered, staring at the table. "The first thing I want to do is strengthen its arms and legs. I can't train it the way I want to without doing that."

"Umm..." Dawn frowned. "You know, Snivy's final evolved form doesn't have arms or legs."

"It doesn't!?" I leaned backward into the booth. "Well that's gonna be a problem."

"Yep," she smiled. "But...what about its tail?"

"What about it?"

"Snivy keeps its tail throughout both of its evolved forms. You should focus on that, especially with its move Slam and all."

"Except I...don't have a tail."

"So?"

"So I can't do things the way I want to. I want to perform the motions that I want Snivy to do and it'll copy them. That's how I was trained to do what I do."

"Wait..." Dawn trailed off. "Who trained you, anyway?"

"Mario and Luigi."

Dawn gasped, clasping her seat, situating herself to sit firmly. "WHAT!?"

"Oh---" I held out my hands. "Don't freak out. It's not that crazy." I looked up and to the left, my eyes half-shut. "Wait...what am I saying? Of course it's crazy. But..." I fixed my focus on Dawn. "Let's get to that later, okay? Back to Snivy."

"'Kay," she answered, sighing, calming down. "So you want Snivy to imitate what you do?"

"Uh-huh," I said, nodding. "But I can't exactly grow a tail on command."

"Yeah," she laughed. "I don't think anyone can do that."

"Heh, no," I smiled. "No one can, that I know o---Wait!" I grinned. "I actually can!"

"Huh?" Dawn asked, retreating into her booth.

"Yeah, hold up a second."

Reaching into my right pocket, I dug for the inch-wide treasure chest and removed it from its place. After unminimizing it, I set it on the table. Had Dawn the strength for it, her reaction would easily have flipped her booth on its back.

Dawn's eyes wider than her beanie, she barely managed to begin speaking, yet practically yelled her response. "Wha---how---where did that come from!?"

"See?" I showed her the light-blue object in my right hand. "A Mini Mushroom. It makes people and objects shrink down to a fraction of what they normally are."

"You...you've had all that in your pocket the whole time?"

"Yep. The chest has something which will fix the tail problem."

I snapped open the lock and opened the chest, standing up and leaning over the table. I buried my left arm into the container, feeling around through the cluster of objects and power-ups of varying sizes, textures, and colors.

Dawn tried to get up and look inside, but I pulled the container away, saying, "Ah-ah-ahh. All that I got in here is a secret for now." Dawn returned to her seat, frowning.

"Ahh-hah!" I proclaimed. "I found one!"

"Found what?" she asked.

I pulled the object out, unshrinking it and letting its little blue Mushroom plop into the container. I held it crumpled in my hand as I re-shrunk the chest and returned it to my pocket.

"This," I told Dawn, who now stared with curious eyes at my left hand, "is it."

I opened the hand, letting the object unfold itself, returning to its natural shape. It was a palm-sized, brown leaf, with two vertical, rectangular eyes at its center and two wide, lighter-shaded brown stripes that ran horizontally in a form much like an open paperback book. At the top-left corner of the leaf, a circular hole remained, giving it the false appearance that an insect had chewed on it.

Dawn gasped. "Isn't that a..."

"Yep," I cut in. "It's a Super Leaf. Once you absorb its power, it'll give you raccoon ears and a tail." I leaned in. "That tail is much stronger than the games it appears in would make you think -- if you've ever played them that is, and...yeah, you probably haven't."

"How would you know?" Dawn asked, folding her arms.

"Well...have you?"

She flinched abruptly and held up her hands, eyes closed. "Well, n-no, I haven't."

"Huh?" I thought, my eyes squinting. I didn't even need my specialized training to tell me she was lying. I continued thinking: "What's that about?"

"So," Dawn interrupted my thoughts. "That...Super Leaf...it'll give you a tail?"

"Yeah," I said plainly. "Once Snivy is healed, I'll show you."

"Cool." She put her hands down at her side. "But...that could take a while."

"True..." I stuffed the Leaf into my left pocket, keeping it completely separate from my 3DS and the treasure chest.

After a moment, Dawn perked up. "I know, how about we each go back to our rooms and then meet up in an hour or so?"

"Well..." I paused, deep in thought, regretful. "Hold on. I don't want to take away from...didn't you say you were going somewhere earlier?"

"Nah," she shook her head. "It can wait. I have some things I need to take care of in my room anyway." Dawn grabbed her bag with her left hand, ready to get up. She halted before standing, and turned to me in her seat. "I'm sorry about that...thing with your 'abilities' and all. I didn't know that would bother you."

"It's fine," I answered, sighing. I found myself suddenly lost in brutal, relentless memories. Dawn seemed to pick up on this, as she then asked if I was alright.

With another, deeper sigh, I continued, unsure to some extent if what I was saying was coming from me. "I just...three months ago, I hurt a good amount of the people close to me -- physically hurt them. Something...from a long, long time ago...'forced' me to do it, and Mario and Luigi said it wasn't my fault. Everyone did. But...even if that's true...I couldn't have hurt them if I didn't have the abilities I did. That's why I hate talking about my abilities -- and the SBL tournament. What I can do...it...scares me."

Dawn froze, a concerned expression on her face. "I...had no idea."

I blinked twice, shaking my head. Looking back at Dawn, my eyes opened fully. "Why," I asked, "did I just tell you that?"

"Umm..." Dawn paused. "Were you not...supposed to?"

I placed my left hand over my forehead, running my fingers through the small amount of hair that protruded from my hat. Gazing down at the table, I told Dawn: "I...I've never told anyone about that! No one! I mean, I didn't tell you all the details, but...me being afraid of what I can do...and my past......that......I've never told anyone! Not even my own parents!"

"Woah," Dawn responded. "Do you...want me to forget I heard it, or..."

"No," I said quickly, "don't. I'm sure there's a reason why I did that. Even though I have no clue what."

She smiled, glancing down in regret. "Well, sorry about that." She looked rightward and observed the vacant lobby for a moment. "I'm gonna go back to my room now. Snivy and Piplup should be healed by the time ten o'clock rolls around -- eleven at the latest."

Dawn stood up, exited the booth, and strapped on her bag. She said to me, "See you soon," and left.

***

I could not say anything in return. She was gone, out of my sights, and now I was alone again. I began thinking out loud about what just happened; all manner of calm and peace left me.

Among my spoken thoughts, I stated: "What just happened? Why did I tell her what I told her? I don't even like thinking about that, let alone talking about it! Who...is she?"

I instantly reminded myself: "The voice! The voice in my dreams!" I quieted my own voice to a low level in case someone came near the lobby. "It woke me up...earlier in the morning than I have gotten up in months -- at sunrise. And---"

My entire body refused to move. "The voice...it got me up at 'dawn'! To meet someone! And that's Dawn right?"

It couldn't be a coincidence. I never get up that early unless it's some kind of crisis or I have somewhere important to be. I knew I must find out who or what caused this voice, though I had no clue where to begin.

Unable to answer myself, I left and went through the hallway Dawn had disappeared into minutes before and jogged up the spiral staircase around the corner, opening up a wooden door once I reached the top. I turned left and continued to the end of the 40 foot hallway, reaching the far left side of the second floor, finding a window along the wall straight ahead. At my right, the room my friends and I had been staying in awaited me: Room 102.

I used the plastic card key I kept in my left pocket and turned the silver, shining knob. Opening the door cautiously, tiptoeing in, I made my way silently in between the first pair of perpendicular beds, and turned right, heading straight into the open door that led to the bathroom. I shut the door without looking at it, yet still with undetectable silence. I flipped on the bathroom light and the considerably loud ceiling vent, so as to not be heard.

Sitting along the edge of the bathtub, sneakered feet tapping on the floor, fingers quietly rattling the outer wall of the hollow, white structure, I thought aloud in a low, soft tone. A solitary place to think, and sometimes the best.

Half an hour passed as I sat there, and still, no answer -- not to where the voice came from, not to who Dawn was, and not to what it all meant. Restless, confused, and unnerved, I decided to return to the lobby, hoping for some sliver of peace to reside there.

***

My eyes were closed and my arms were folded; I remained leaning against the lobby's counter.

Someone found me and said, "Oh, hey."

I opened my eyes and turned. Dawn stood left of me, having come from the same hallway we had been commuting through. "Oh, hey Dawn. What're you doing here?"

"Nurse Joy told me over the intercom that Piplup was healed."

Just then, the Nintendo logo door behind the counter opened. Nurse Joy paraded though with Piplup in her arms, stating, "Dawn, I'm happy to report that your Piplup is just fine now."

"Thank you," Dawn replied, reaching for Piplup. She carried Piplup by its underarms overtop the counter, and held it in the same manner at chest level, pressed gently against herself like a stuffed animal.

"How's Snivy?" I asked the nurse.

"It'll be ready to go in a few minutes," Joy answered.

"Right," I nodded. "Thanks."

"No need to worry then," Dawn said, facing me. "You can start your training real soon."

"Yeah, I can."

Joy smiled and said, "Alright, well, I should get back to what I was doing." Joy turned away and promptly left through the door, which swayed to and fro for a brief moment.

After a few seconds, Dawn started to speak, yet I cut her off, holding my hands up. "Dawn, wait. Could we...sit down again?"

She paused. "Umm...sure."

***

"Listen, Dawn," I began, the three of us already positioned in our seats; Piplup sat comfortably in Dawn's lap, mostly unseen from my view. "You don't have to answer this, 'cause we just met and all, but..." I squinted my eyes slightly. "Who...exactly...are you?"

She looked around aimlessly. "Umm...Dawn."

"Wha---" I sighed. "I know that. But...I mean...what is it that you do? Are you just a Trainer, or..."

"Oh," she answered. "I'm a Coordinator."

"A...so you're a Trainer?"

"Nooo..." She tilted her head to her right side. "A Coordinator."

"Right," I nodded. "You coordinate your Pokémon, so you're a Trainer."

"No, I---" Dawn frowned. "A Pokémon Coordinator is different from a regular Trainer."

I paused. "So...you're a choreographer for Pokémon?"

She gave me a curious, inspecting look. "No...do you not know what a Coordinator is?"

"Heh," I smiled. "Nope."

"Wha---" she leaned in. "How!?"

"Well I'm not exactly from around here, for one thing."

Dawn folded her arms together, staring analytically at me. "Well...Unova is one of the least Coordinator-driven regions in the world...but if you're not from here...ah!" She snapped her right fingers and pointed at me without moving her arm, which now had its elbow resting on the table. "You're from Kanto!"

"Nope, not Kanto." I smiled; I knew where this was heading.

Dawn paused and squinted, saying, "Kalos?"

"Nope. The only regions I know of are the ones you just mentioned."

"Wha---HUH!?" She smacked her right hand abruptly on the table. "Then...you don't know what Hoenn is!? Or Johto!?"

"Nope."

"Wait...you must know about Sinnoh, right?"

"Nope, no clue."

Dawn ceased all manner of motion and signs of activity with her. Piplup hopped up onto the table and exclaimed, "Piplup-pip LUP!?"

"Should I?" I asked, laughing momentarily at the penguin.

"Yes!" she yelled, and then quieted down slightly. "Of course you should! It's not out of the way like Unova, and it's certainly not as quiet as Kanto! And plus...I'm from there."

"Well," I laughed, "sorry. Never heard of it."

"Then..." she calmed down. "Where are you from?"

"Heh," I grinned. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

Dawn glanced up and right, looked at Piplup for a second, and focused back on me, saying, "Are you from...the Orange Islands?"

"Nope."

"The Decalore Islands?"

"Nope."

"'One,' 'Two,' or 'Three' Islands?"

"Nope. Are those even real names?"

"Yes," she frowned, "they are. Is it...an unincorporated island?"

"Nope, it's not an island."

Dawn sank into her booth while Piplup stared blankly at me. "Are...you messing with me?"

"No."

Her eyes zeroed in. "Well...either you're a really good liar, or...I give up."

"No," I laughed. "Trust me, I'm a terrible liar."

"Then...where?"

"Okay, since you tried so hard...I'll tell you."

I leaned forward, pausing momentarily to build up Dawn's suspense.

"I'm from......the Real World."

Piplup, startled, fell back into Dawn's lap, while Dawn jerked so much that her white beanie tumbled off her head and onto Piplup's, covering the Pokémon's face almost entirely. "What!?" she exclaimed, picking up the hat. "You're from...Earth!?"

"Yep. Weird right?"

Dawn placed the hat back on top of her dark blue hair. Fixating it carefully with both hands, she said, "That's...so cool!"

"Cool?" I leaned back into my booth. "What's so great about it?"

"I've always wanted to go there," Dawn stated, sighing, gazing upward.

"Why? The overall crime rate there is like five times what it is here. And the people can be absolute jerks a lot of times."

"People can be like that here too, you know. Ever met Team Rocket?"

I sighed. "Unfortunately, yes. But they're only two people. And besides -- for someone like you -- there's no Pokémon there."

"I know." She petted Piplup's head gently as she continued, keeping her focus on it. "But...there's so many different cultures there, and plenty of people I haven't met. And so much history there, too."

My eyes widened. "You like history stuff?"

Dawn nodded, humming, "Mm-hmm."

"So do I!"

"Really?" She perked up.

"Yeah. Although, I haven't studied that stuff in a while, so I might not be the best source of Real World history. I'll have to get you to talk to my dad soon. He's a history professor."

"Oh, cool! I'd love to!"

"I figured. So, what does your da---"

Just then, the "Bl-dum, dum, duhdum dum!" theme played over the lobby's intercom.

"Oh, your Snivy must be ready," Dawn stated.

"Right," I nodded as Dawn took hold of Piplup. "Let's go."

Nurse Joy walked in through the door in a timely, almost systematic fashion, perfectly on cue with our arrival at the desk. She handed me my Snivy inside its Poké Ball, I thanked her, and the four of us left for the backyard. I was surprised to not see Ash and the others up yet, yet I didn't really care. I had trained with them many times before, and this new way of training wouldn't even need them.

I figured one time without those three wouldn't be much of an issue.

***

I stood in the middle of the field, holding the Super Leaf in my right hand while holding a Poké Ball in the other. I called out Snivy and hid the Ball away in my pocket. Turning around to face Dawn, who stood near the entrance, still holding Piplup in place, I held out the Leaf in my hand, presenting it to her.

"Here we go," I told her. "Now..." My eyes shut partially. "This might look a little ridiculous."

Dawn nodded, half smiling. Piplup watched in silence.

I closed my eyes completely, curling my right fingers in. Intense energy, small spurts of wind, and a faint presence of smoke surrounded the hand and its enclosed Leaf. In seconds, the Super Leaf absorbed into the palm of the hand, rushing through my arm and the rest of my body at once, thrashing in all directions, empowering and stimulating my mind, body, and soul in an effortless few seconds. The Leaf now entirely inside me, a pillar of smoke billowed instantly from my feet to my head, blocking Dawn's view of me for a split second, being accompanied by an abrupt purr and a "Brddwling-Brddwliing-Brddwliiing!" The smoke cleared as quickly as it came.

With me facing Dawn directly, I now had a brown, raccoon-like ear jutting out of either side of my hat, yet without ripping a hole in it, since the ears mended together with the hat perfectly. The rim and back of each ear was light brown, while the inner ear was dark brown.

Dawn's eyes remained opened wide. I turned left 90 degrees, letting Dawn see the true highlight of the Leaf. In the same clothing-friendly, holeless fashion as the raccoon ears, a bushy, six-inch wide, dark and light brown-striped tail jutted from my tailbone, reaching over a foot in length.

Dawn hid her mouth with her right hand and turned leftward, shielding her expression partially.

I folded my arms. "Go ahead, laugh. You deserve it."

Dawn immediately broke into giggles that occasionally snapped free of her mouth in spurts of regular laughter. She'd periodically glance over at me and then retreat to her somewhat concealed position. "I'm...sorry," she said, trying yet failing to contain herself. "It's just...I know...what that Power-up...does and all, but...seeing it...in person like this..."

Piplup laughed along with her, slapping its flippers along Dawn's arms and exclaiming, "Pip-lu-hi-hi-hip-luuup!"

"I know what you mean," I said, laughing with them. "I felt the same way the first time around. You'll get used to it."

"I...hope so," Dawn said, barely withholding herself.

I rotated rightward, a sudden cackling grabbing my attention. "Sni-vy sni-sni-hi-hi-vy Snivy!"

Snivy rocked back and forth on its curved back with its arms along its stomach. It continuously laughed and carried on, relentlessly mocking and occasionally pointing at my tail.

"Oh," I said to Snivy, arms still folded. "You think that's funny do ya?"

Dawn continued to giggle. "I...hear ya Snivy."

Snivy persistently laughed, stating its name in random sequence and rocking endlessly in place.

I turned back to face left and perpendicular to Dawn, giving all three of them a perfect view of the laughable sight. I wagged the tail, causing a lighter-toned purr than the transformation's. The two of them roared further, with Dawn removing her hand in complete laughter, bending herself down, nearly dropping Piplup, and Snivy doubling in volume.

"Eheh," I smiled, eyes closed. "I'm glad you three are enjoying this..."

A few seconds later, Dawn took in a deep breath and stood straight, now grinning with only a giggle here and there. Her face had reddened from laughing so hard.

"Well," I said to Dawn, "I guess this makes up for what happened when we were eating."

"Mm-hmm," she nodded, breathing some more. "The battle...was enough, but...this...more than makes up for it."

Arms still folded, I sighed, stating, "Well at least I did something right."

A moment later, Dawn finally simmered down; Piplup soon followed through with Dawn, but Snivy remained the same.

"Snivy," I stated, turning to it. "I think you've made your point."

It didn't listen.

"Look, Snivy, I know you want to get stronger, so...you're not going to get anywhere if you keep carrying on like that."

Snivy opened an eye as it rocked; it did calm down and quit laughing, yet made sure to take in a few more moments of the sight first.

--As if it had not seen a tail before.

***

"So..." I broke the silence. "Snivy, should we get started?"

It nodded.

"How are you going to start?" Dawn asked.

"Well..." I paused, left hand on my chin. "I......don't...wait! I know!"

Within ten seconds, I pulled out the treasure chest, unshrunk and opened it, removed an object from it, unshrunk that object, closed the chest, and returned it to my pocket. I only removed the top half of the object's Mini Mushroom, leaving the beige stump inside the object. The object I selected was a white sandbag with two black, horizontally thin eyes in the middle of it on one side, standing at just over Piplup's height. I let it stand on the ground right of me, and directly between Dawn and Snivy.

Dawn leaned back. "Isn't that..."

"You know what it is?" I asked her, in complete disbelief.

She flinched, holding up her hands. "Uhh---no, of course not."

My eyebrows lowered. "But you...okay..." Another lie. She knew exactly what it was, somehow. I continued, choosing to ignore it for now. "Well, it's a Sandbag from the Smash Bros. series -- ever since Melee. But since I only removed the top half of the Mini Mushroom, it's much smaller than what it would be.

"With this, Snivy and I can practice together and not put anyone in any sort of danger. And unlike in the games, it can be grabbed, which," I turned to Snivy, continuing, "will come in handy."

I then explained to Snivy how I wanted to start, and, carrying the Bag over to the center of the field and beyond where Snivy sat, I demonstrated the plan:

"Now, Snivy, watch closely."

Snatching up the Bag, holding it at eye level, I threw it upward 15 feet, with just enough forward motion to make it move five feet horizontally. I then leaped up and slightly forward, front-flipping once I came close to reaching the Bag. Coordinating my tail with my swing, moving my knees toward my chest, I smacked the Bag straight down with the tail, and while my back was now parallel to the grassy ground, the tail pointed below, directly to the Bag. The momentum at once positioned my feet to face the ground, and I wagged the tail behind me repeatedly, suspending me in the air with its Mushroom World powers and preventing any more forward flipping. I soon ceased wagging and landed softly.

I faced Snivy. "Now---"

"Woah," Dawn spoke up, making me face her. "Nice...jump."

"Uh---thanks," I answered, turning back to Snivy. "Now...you think you can do that, Snivy? With Slam I mean?"

It nodded, stating its name firmly. Snivy dashed toward Dawn and me, grabbed the Sandbag from behind, and threw it upward, proceeding to attack it as I did. Snivy flipped itself forward, bent on smacking the object down with full force, but flew overtop and past the Bag, landing shortly after the Bag did.

"Okay, Snivy. Try and throw it a bit higher this time."

Snivy nodded once more, and performed the same combination as before. It missed again, with the Bag barely being thrown farther.

"Try it again."

Snivy tried; no luck. Without me giving any commands, Snivy tried an additional three times. A total of six attempts, all complete misses.

"Hang on Snivy," I said, holding out a hand. "That's enough."

Snivy paused and stared down the Sandbag as I placed my left hand on my chin.

"Maybe it's too heavy," Dawn spoke up. "Snivy's arms aren't very big."

"No," I answered. "It shouldn't be. At that height, the Sandbag isn't much heavier than Piplup. Though..." I looked down, eyeing the blades of grass sway slowly in a sudden breeze. "If it can't get the Sandbag up high enough, you're probably right. Its arms are a bit thin. Maybe...too thin for this combination."

"And then," Dawn continued, "you have to think about what you'll do when it evolves fully. Its final form won't be able to use arms anyway."

"Right," I said firmly. "It's definitely fast enough to get in close to start this, but if it can't finish it, then..." I sighed, passively continuing. "This combo might not work out."

"Yeah," Dawn agreed, nodding subtly, "you might have to try something else. I don't think Snivy can handle it."

Snivy immediately turned and glared sharply at Dawn. It darted straight to her, and before I could stop it, jumped up and slapped Dawn in the face with both arms, creating a red line on both of her cheeks, causing her to yell "Hey---OWW!" and bend down slightly, her eyes closed, gritting her teeth. Piplup hopped out of her arms and onto the ground, waving its flippers erratically, shouting, "Pip-lup piplup pip-pip-lup piiip-lup!"

I rushed over to her. "Dawn," I said quickly, "you okay?"

"Uh...huh." She opened her eyes and stood straight, though bit her bottom lip.

"You sure?"

"Mm...hmm."

I exhaled deeply without opening my mouth, and faced Snivy, glaring back at it. "What was that for!?"

Snivy folded its arms and turned its head away from the three of us.

"Snivy, apologize!"

It grunted, stating, "Snnni," tightening its folded arms.

"What's your deal? She was just telling the truth! You're not a Pokémon that's made for throwing things like that. We can work on a different combination." I paused, glancing up. "What if you could use Tackle to launch the Sandbag up and then use Slam afterward?"

Snivy turned its head and neck to face me and flashed its eyes wickedly; I almost mistook the motion for Leer, yet soon realized it wasn't.

Dawn smiled, eyes closed. "Eheh, I guess the truth really does hurt."

"Uhh...was that a joke?" I asked.

She shrugged.

"Heh," I responded, laughing. "Good one. But..." I returned my attention to Snivy. "Even if a decent portion of what I do comes from what you just tried, we don't need it. There are plenty of other fighting styles we could---"

Snivy rotated fully to face me, shot another hateful look, and turned back to the Sandbag. With a shouting of "Snniii," the Pokémon released a forest green, half-inch-thick vine from either shoulder, and stretched the vines out to reach the Bag some ten feet away. The vines swiftly wrapped around the immobile object and at once suspended it a foot off of the ground. Snivy proclaimed "Vvvyyy!" and threw the entangled Bag upward an impressive distance, unraveling the vines simultaneously. It leaped up, retracting the vines completely and flipping forward. With sheer precision, force, and a drawn out exclamation of its name, Snivy smacked the Bag straight down with its tail held out in front, creating a four-pointed star-shaped glow at the impact point. The Bag crashed, grass flattening, dirt expelling, and fell over, laying on its fake, apologetic eyes.

Initially speechless, I slowly managed to speak. "Wha...what was that?"

"Th...That," Dawn answered barely, "was Vine Whip."

"Vine---" My hand moved to my chin. "Isn't that a Grass-type move?"

"Sure is," she nodded. "Normally it's just used to swipe at other Pokémon, but it can be used to grab things too."

"I see." I turned to my Pokémon and continued, overly thrilled: "Snivy! That's great! You learned a Grass-type move! And you pulled off that combo that I---we...were going for!"

"And," Dawn added. "That hit was a Critical Hit."

I paused. "A what?"

"It's when you time and angle a Move so perfectly that the maximum damage is done. I can count on two hands how many times I've pulled one off, but Snivy did it like it was natural."

"Really?" I responded, still focused on my partner. "Snivy, that's awesome!"

It simply shrugged, laying its arms out perpendicular to itself.

"Seems like Snivy isn't impressed," Dawn said, laughing. "Either it's too modest or too overconfident. I think it's overconfidence though, to be honest."

"Yeah well, it should be proud." I reversed the energy from the Super Leaf, sending it back to my hand and returning it to its Leaf state; the raccoon ears and tail left with it. Stuffing it in my pocket, I continued:

"If you've been Pokémon Training since you were 10, and you've only gotten a handful of Critical Hits during those five or six years, then that has to mean Snivy is extremely good at this, right?"

"Five or six?" Dawn asked, perplexed. "I have been Training since I was ten and all, but...I'm 14."

"14?" I leaned back. "You su---well of course you're sure. But...you...look older than that."

"Older? How old did you think I was?"

"Oh I don't know...15 or 16. Maybe 17, though I think 18 would be pushing it a bit."

She folded her arms. "What makes you think I could be 17!? I'm shorter than you!"

"I know. But..." I immediately realized I couldn't safely answer this question. "Just...take it as a compliment. It is one, just so you know."

"Well you've got a weird definition of a 'compliment.'"

"Look, you just look older than you are. But isn't that a good thing at your age?"

"No! Why would it be!?"

"Oh boy," I sighed, placing my hand over my face. "Alright, can we just---"

The electronic doors suddenly slid open; Dawn and I paused to face them, wondering who could have activated them. We both stepped back to let the individuals walk out.

***

Three people stood in the doorway -- Ash, Iris, and Cilan. All three of them immediately greeted the two of us with Dawn's name, with Ash being the first. Dawn then stated the three's names, and the four of them -- as well as, presumably, Pikachu, Piplup, and Axew -- exchanged friendly "How are you's," confirming after each that they were fine and well. Ash excitedly held his hand and arm up above his head, and Dawn met up her hand with his, high-fiving him, as if rehearsed. Moments later, Dawn turned to me and explained who the people were, thankfully seeming to have forgotten the insult:

She relayed how she traveled through the Sinnoh region with Ash shortly after she turned 10. She'd met Cilan and Iris a few weeks earlier than now after arriving at the Unova League to see Ash's progress in person, yet she had arrived late and only got to be with them for a few days. The three of them then flew by plane straight to an airport near Nuvema Town, while Dawn stayed at a friend's beachfront villa for a week before flying to her home in Sinnoh. It was then that she decided to travel back to Unova to go on a journey there, and so she flew to an airport near Accumula Town two weeks later.

When asked by Iris what the two of us were doing out here, I told her and the others of Snivy's training and how much progress we had made. Cilan insisted that I show him, as did Ash and then Iris.

I nodded and gave Snivy the command calmly; surprisingly, Snivy listened, performing the Vine Whip and Slam combination, only without the Critical Hit. I couldn't have been more pleased; pulling off the combo wasn't a fluke. Snivy's success was real and true.

***

Throughout the rest of the day, Snivy and I -- with the help of the others, especially Dawn -- worked on more usage of Vine Whip, coordinating the move to throw its target in each of four simple directions: Up, Down, Forward, and Back.

I felt incredibly confident that night, more so than ever before with Pokémon Training. My mind rushed through all the different attack combinations I may be able to pull off after this bout of training, and continued to think up new strategies we could work on in the near future. The basics of my own combat training were now set up. Snivy was ready to go into Pokémon battles and start the match as I typically would, with a simple yet effective toss. Thanks solely to Dawn's tail advice and honesty regarding Snivy's weak points, its weaknesses were overcome.

Dawn decided, despite her previous plans to head to Nacrene City, to stay overnight and go with the rest of us to watch my rematch at the Gym the next day. She stayed in the room she'd been staying in, while my group remained in our room. Iris, though, opted to spend the night in Dawn's room to keep her company, as Dawn had an extra bed. Dawn got along well with the group, having already spent months traveling with Ash, and having mingled with Cilan and Iris a mere few weeks before. Dawn already knew the three of them better than she knew me.

Ignoring the questions relating to the voice and Dawn's role in it all, I made sure to get plenty of rest, determined to win when I awoke the next morning.


Big thing to note: the prologue has received a major overhaul -- cuts down the Word page length by roughly four pages, and improves on stylistic issues. Chapter 1 got similar changes; 2-5 will as well, though I'm focusing on 11 right now.

Oh and, due to a mathematical error (long story), the new prologue shows Timothy's actual current age - 15.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:53 pm
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I have a feeling members of this forum will get some of the references I made in this one...
Chapter 11 - Melee in Striaton City: show
Another peaceful night, an awakening at a comfortable ten o'clock in the morning, my routine of washing off and changing into a copy of my outfit stored inside the treasure chest, and every step of time needed to reach the Gym had been climbed. Both Snivy and I, well-rested and well-nourished since the previous day's training, were ready to reface Chili.

The five of us Trainers, Pikachu on Ash's shoulder, Axew nested in Iris's hair, and Piplup in Dawn's arms all stood staring up at the Gym and its glorified entrance. I wasted no time in reaching and opening the door; everyone else soon followed.

***

"Welcome back!" Cress stated as Cilan closed the door behind us. Positioned coincidentally in the center of the café, he held an empty silver tray in hand, laid along his right side. "Are you here for a rematch?"

I nodded. "I am."

"And you intend to face Chili once more, I presume?"

"I do."

"Then you'd better get ready!" Chili said, leaning in through the windowless hole behind the wrap-around counter. He immediately blasted through the door to our right of the counter, sliding to Cress's side with tractionless shoes.

Chili smirked. "Are you sure you can handle it this time?"

I nodded, refusing to say anything.

"Then there's no time to---wait." Chili glanced over at Dawn, who stood behind me and to my left. "You're back Dawn? Are you here for more coffee, or..."

"No," she answered, "I'm here to watch the battle."

"I see. Well, then prepare yourself for a heated matchup. I hope Timothy is prepared."

"Ready when you are," I told him.

"Then," Cress spoke up, "let's begin."

The two Gym Leaders snaked between the white-clothed tables and to the back wall; Cress placed his silver tray on the farthest table. Clapping their hands together, the two Gym Leaders split open the walls. Cilan caught up with the two a moment later.

"Give 'em your best!" Ash said, holding up a fist. Pikachu waved as I turned directly right to face it, saying "Pi-ka-chu!" from atop Ash's shoulder.

"Go for it!" Iris added; Axew stated its name excitedly, peeking out from its home.

"Good luck," Dawn whispered, speaking in my left ear.

"Thanks," I whispered back, glad that she was less pronounced.

***

Each of my friends almost returned to the lowest row of the bleachers, though Dawn suggested they sit in the level above the first, so as to give the four of them a place to rest their feet. The three agreed. Cilan remained -- from my point of view -- on the far left, with Ash right of him, Iris right of Ash, and Dawn right of Iris. Pikachu sat on the row in front of Ash, Axew kept the top half of itself exposed, and Piplup remained in Dawn's lap, sitting consequently on her skirt. Cress stood at the midway point of the field, having volunteered to referee once more.

A Poké Ball flew down to me; I caught it, watching Snivy finish pouring onto the pebble- and rock-ridden soil. Chili's Pansear was sent out directly afterward. While my heart kept at a steady, faster pace than normal, my mind and the rest of me both remained at ease. Chili and I awaited further orders.

"The same rules apply as before," Cress proclaimed for all to hear. "Are both Trainers ready?"

Chili and I nodded firmly. Pansear repeatedly punched the air around it in random directions, swiftly yet gently pushing away nearby dust when its fists faced the ground. Snivy folded its arms, closing its eyes.

"Then, challenger! Call out a move, and you two may begin!"

My nostrils drew in a heap of air. Deeply exhaling through my nose, my mind exhaled as well, echoing the calming flow throughout my thoughts. My eyelids lost the need to stay open as the mental breeze settled in place. Once the wind subsided fully, my lungs breathed normally, reopening my eyes.

"Snivy! Use Leer!"

Snivy's eyes flashed, and with blinding speed, the red glows reached Pansear in a mere two seconds.

"He's going with that again?" Chili said to himself. "Whatever. Pansear! Get in close with Fire Punch!"

Pansear leaped a short distance and, landing quickly, went into a full dash, its right hand encased in red-and-orange flames. It shouted as it ran, "Paaaaannnn...!"

"Snivy!" I pointed. "Attack with Vine Whip!"

Snivy's vines instantly whipped themselves out and lashed at the monkey's left side, slowing Pansear's stride and eventually halting its attack completely; Pansear stopped moving.

"Huh!?" said Chili. "Fine! Then use Flame Charge!"

Enveloping itself in fire, Pansear blasted toward Snivy, exclaiming passionately, "Pan-pan-pannn-SEEEAARR!"

"Snivy!" I commanded. "Jump behind with your tail!"

Thrusting its tail into the ground, Snivy sprung straight up at the last moment. Pansear ceased forward progress once it passed under Snivy; Snivy then rotated its head and entire body to face the ground and placed its arms along its side, allowing for a faster fall. It landed without issue, instinctively turning to face Pansear.

"Now Snivy! Grab it!"

Snivy's vines launched and tethered Pansear, drawing it in closer. Pansear's eyes closed; Snivy grinned, awaiting the command.

Just then, a remix the main theme of Super Smash Bros. Melee -- a fighting game from which pieces of my training with Snivy came -- became heard by everyone, beginning with the classic "Bum-duh-duh-dumm, bah-duh-da-dah-da-dummm!" tune via trumpet.

"Ohhahhhaha!" I laughed, gazing up at the glass dome with half-squinted eyes. "Nice, Kalmar!" Facing Snivy, I called out, "Snivy! Behind you! Then Leer!"

"Snnnii-vvyy!" the Pokémon proclaimed, dragging Pansear through the air, up and over Snivy's head. The vines slammed Pansear into the ground behind Snivy, bouncing the monkey into a 45 degree flight. With Snivy now facing the direction it launched Pansear, two spurts of red, crescent-shaped light flashed from its eyes and momentarily enveloped the primate which then smacked into a dark brown boulder. It landed face down and pushed itself up into standing position a second later.

Chili gasped. "How...never mind." He shook his head, eyes closed. "Pansear! Use Flamethrower!"

"Dodge it!" I called out.

Once Pansear's held-back head was ready, it jutted forward, opening its mouth and releasing the horizontal pillar of flames. Snivy leaped up using its tail once more, moving rightward slightly and landing, untouched by the heat. Snivy watched the flames crash and burn into the ground where it had stood, leaving behind smoldered pebbles and dirt. The fire dwindled moments later.

"Now!" I yelled to my Pokémon. "Grab it again!"

Snivy faced diagonally left and shot out its vines, reaching and ensnaring Pansear at once. Snivy dragged the foe in and waited, staring into Pansear's eyes.

"Throw it down -- in a chain!"

Chili leaned back. "What's that supposed to mean?"

While shouting "Sniii-vy!", Snivy slammed Pansear straight into the ground only two feet away from its leafy self. Pansear flew diagonally up a short distance, and Snivy proceeded to snatch Pansear up once more, repeating its statement, "Sniii-vy!" Snivy smacked it down into the dust, grabbed it, and threw it down again, grabbed it, threw it down, grabbed it, threw it down, grab, throw, grab, throw, grab, throw, continuously performing the same action multiple times and swiftly proclaiming "Sniii-vy!" with each throw. Pansear, in a garbled dialect, yelled "Pa-ya-yan-sear!" with every toss.

While Snivy continued to pound the monkey into the dirt, Chili yelled to Cress, "WHAT!? Is that even allowed!?"

"Well," Cress said, laughing, "the Pokémon League doesn't have a problem with Vine Whip being used to grab the opponent. I see nothing wrong here."

"But that---" Chili faced Snivy and the merciless beating. "Fine! Pansear! Fire Blast!"

"I don't think so," I stated, grabbing the rim of my hat. "Snivy! Stop and use Leer!"

Snivy threw Pansear down again, double-wrapped Pansear's arms, and shot its glaring red eyes into the helpless primate. The small bit of embers protruding from Pansear's closed mouth ceased as Pansear flinched from the glow.

"Keep going!" I commanded.

Snivy threw the foe down and went on with the chain of grabs and throws.

"WHAT!?" Chili bit his shirt and pulled it down with his hands, stretching the fancy tuxedo out; his face glowed a bright red. He let his teeth go of the shirt and shouted: "Flamethrower!"

"Leer!" I called out.

Snivy stopped the onslaught, used Leer, and flinched Pansear. The Flamethrower ceased instantly.

"GAH!" Chili screamed. "Flame Charge!"

"Leer!"

Pansear's Flame Charge halted once the Leer hit.

"WHAT!" Chili roared. "THAT'S NOT RIGHT!"

"Keep going!" I pumped my fist above my head, smiling with my mouth opened wide.

Snivy continued; grab, throw, grab, throw, grab, throw. A brutal, excruciating, unending assault.

Cilan, out of my hearing range, gasped. He spoke loud enough for me to listen: "I've...never seen Vine Whip used---or...any strategy...performed like that." Cilan paused, hand on his chin. "Except...right! Just like in what that music is from!"

"What's it from?" Ash asked.

"A game...called 'Super Smash Bros. Melee.'"

Dawn swallowed.

"Never heard of it," Ash said.

"Me neither," said Iris. She turned left to Dawn. "Have you?"

"Wha---no!" Dawn answered, holding up her hands. "Of course not!"

I shook my head. "Another lie," I thought, eyeing the conversation, wondering what her reason was. "Well..." I said, turning to the massacre and temporarily disregarding Dawn's actions. "That should do it. Snivy!" I pointed, grinning. "Up and use Slam!"

Snivy snatched up Pansear and held it in place. Pansear's entire body was covered in dust and gritty, sandy, light brown dirt. Its eyes remained shut as it said feebly, hardly able to move its mouth, "Seearrrrr." Snivy then tossed Pansear up and slightly forward, proceeding to jump and use Slam on the monkey at the peak of the throw. A white, four-pointed flash appeared at the impact point -- a Critical Hit. Pansear shot straight down and back to the dust, crying "Paaaaaan!" as it crashed into the soil. A veil of smoke overtook the landing site. Snivy landed a short distance past the debris, the only Pokémon able to be seen by Chili. Snivy's eyes closed.

"Pansear!" Chili shouted. "Use Fire Punch now!"

No response from inside the fog.

"Come on!" Chili ordered. "Get up!"

The smoke cleared; Chili immediately simmered down. Pansear's body had molded itself into the ground, remaining face-up. It stated, barely, "Pan...seearrr...", still with its eyes closed. The music ceased.

Cress eyed Pansear for a moment. He then proclaimed: "Pansear is unable to battle; Snivy wins!" He laid out his right hand and arm toward me, palm up, continuing: "And so the victory of the match goes to...Timothy Stevens, of the Real World!"

"Yes!" Ash shouted, holding his fist above him, followed by Pikachu yelling, "Pik-ah-chu!"

"Great!" Iris exclaimed.

"Incredible!" Cilan proclaimed.

"Awesome!" said Dawn, clapping her hands together in front of Piplup, squeezing it slightly. Dawn then stood and carried Piplup left and out of the bleachers entirely, proceeding to walk toward me. Iris soon followed her, as did Ash and Cilan.

Snivy's eyes remained shut as it folded its arms, stating, "Sni-vy."

Chili returned his Pansear to its Poké Ball, saying quietly to it, "Pansear...great work." The Ball was then placed in Chili's right pocket.

***

From left to right, Chili, Cress, Cilan, Ash, Iris, and Dawn stood in a half-circle around me, with Pikachu and Axew having returned to their usual positions, leaving Axew unseen.

"That was amazing!" Ash stated.

"I..." Cress said and paused. His right fingers shielded his chin. "I don't think I have ever seen anything like what you just pulled off."

"You certainly have a great strategy going there," Cilan said.

"You should keep on going with that," Chili stated. "A strategy like that will get you somewhere." Chili reached into his pocket and pulled out something, hiding it with his fingers. "Here." Opening the fingers, he stated: "This is yours -- the Trio Badge."

I eyed the object silently. Two inches long and mostly golden in color, its shape resembled a bow tie, yet with sharp, diamond-shaped edges. In the middle, a mahogany coloring also shaped like a diamond existed, with a light-blue diamond above it and a forest green diamond below it. The Badge itself was made of a lightweight yet sturdy plastic, and had a metallic pin on the back.

"This is proof that you have beaten the Striaton Gym, Timothy," said Chili.

I understood what everyone had said, yet could not process that it was meant for me, and remained speechless. After a brief moment of silence, Chili asked, "Aren't you gonna say something?"

I gave him no answer, choosing to stare at Snivy.

Everyone but Dawn then asked essentially the same, wondering what my response would be. Another wordless, silent moment later, Dawn asked, "Are you okay?"

"I," I answered, still focused on my Grass-type serpent, "I......"

Snivy abruptly stated, "Vy-sni-vy!" It thrusted its vines forward, slapping me in the face repeatedly, causing me to shout, "Ah---hey! Snivy!" Once the slapping ceased, I continued, "What's that for?"

Snivy then lunged into my stomach head-first, launching me a few feet away. Everyone gasped, and Dawn asked once more if I was okay. I got up immediately, shouting at Snivy, "What'd you use Tackle for!?"

Snivy shrugged and responded, "Sni-sni vy-vy snivy sni. Sni-vy."

"Well," I said, laughing, "at least Snivy snapped me out of that." I paused. "I just...couldn't believe I......I did win, right?"

Chili nodded. "You did, and you never even let Snivy get hit by one attack the whole time."

"I for one was thoroughly surprised," Cress stated. "I don't think any of us could have expected you would improve so drastically over such a short time. I don't know if anyone could do that after just being a Trainer for a week."

"Really?" I asked, eyes half shut.

"It's true," Cilan answered.

"Yeah," Iris agreed. "You've...gotten a lot better."

"And if you keep working at it," Ash added, "you'll get even better than that!"

"He's right," Dawn replied. "You really did great out there. No doubt you'll find a way to improve to the point where even weak Pokémon you catch will be great."

"You think so?" I asked, eyeing Snivy. I turned to Chili's still-opened palm. "Then...thanks." I gradually removed the Badge from Chili and held it in my hand, staring at the light reflecting off of it. "Wow," I said subtly, unable to say more.

"Aren't you gonna make a pose?" asked Ash.

"A what?" I asked.

"You know, make a pose and say something dramatic like 'I just got...the Trio Badge!' and hold it out for everyone to see?"

"Why would I do that?" My head leaned back. "I won the thing -- isn't that enough?"

Dawn giggled, closing her eyes. "Ash, he doesn't have to do that. Not everyone likes to tell the world about their success." Piplup, in agreement, sighed, saying, "Pip-luuup."

Chili laughed. "So, do you have a Badge case?"

"No," I answered.

"Then where're you gonna put that Badge?"

I grinned, placing the Badge in my right pocket. "I think I've got...just enough room for it."

"Yeah," said Dawn, laughing. "Just enough."

Cilan, Ash, and Iris each chuckled for a moment. Unable to understand what was so funny, Chili and Cress shrugged to each other. I pulled out a Poké Ball and called Snivy back to it. "Thanks, Snivy," I told it, facing the silent Poké Ball. "You were...amazing."

"So where are you all headed next?" Cress asked.

"To wherever the closest Gym is from here," I told him, placing Snivy's Poké Ball in my pocket.

"In that case, you'd better hurry up," Chili said. "The one in Nacrene City is supposed to be closing any day now."

"What!?" I asked, eyes widening. "Then we'd better go!"

"It'll take you a good two weeks to get there," Cress added. "There'll be a Pokémon Center for you every day or so, but you all should prepare for the trip regardless."

"Oh yeah," Chili added, "you should stop by the Pokémon Day Care halfway through."

"Yes," Cress nodded. "You might learn something about Pokémon from that place. It's not at all what it may sound like to a Real-Worlder such as yourself, either. Also, most Trainers stay there overnight since it's between two Pokémon Centers that would otherwise be pretty far apart."

"Right," I said to the two, "I---we will then. Thanks."

Chili and Cress escorted the five of us out to the café, clapping their hands once we passed through the doorway of walls. We each sifted through the tables and reached halfway between the exit and where we had originated, with Chili and Cress behind us. As I reached the door, Chili and Cress asked Cilan if he was going to stay. He told them no, and that he wanted to travel a bit longer. They understood, and the five of us left the building, saying our goodbyes, waving back at the waiters.

***

With Snivy being checked out by Nurse Joy, I stayed leaning up against the counter in the lobby. My Trio Badge was now safely stored in the treasure chest. No one was there, so I was alone to think.

To think, somehow my chain-grab strategy could be applied with Pokémon, and effectively. Not all Pokémon would fall to the same strategy, especially those of much larger size than Pansear, yet some would. Even a Gym Leader's Pokémon did, after all. I grinned, knowing this strategy would prove highly useful, especially when it came to training Pokémon I might catch later.

Satisfied with my Pokémon Training skills for once, I pulled out my 3DS, opened it, and began playing the handheld version of the fighting game Super Smash Bros. Brawl -- a version which was made by E. Gadd. It was a sequel to Brawl, almost complete, and carried its own musical theme.

Fully indulged in the SBL-like action, I never once noticed footsteps nearby. Instead, my mind remained focused on racking up damage so I could knock the foe off-screen.

"What're you doing?" asked a sudden female voice.

I jerked, making the 3DS slip from my fingers and onto the linoleum floor, crashing and bouncing once.

"Oh I'm sorry!" the girl said. I turned left, and saw the girl to be Dawn, this time without her Piplup.

"It's fine," I told her, reaching to pick up the fallen object.

"I hope it didn't get messed up," she said, eyeing the device.

"Nah," I answered, standing up with it. "This thing..." I held it up, closed. "You could take a hammer to it and the hammer might break. It's bulletproof too."

"What?" Dawn gasped. "What kind of DS is that then?"

"A 3DS -- custom-made by E. Gadd himself."

Dawn leaned back. "You know him!? The Professor!?"

"Yep," I nodded. "Wait...you didn't call it a 'Game Boy'? Most people would."

Dawn flinched, clasping her left arm with her right hand. "Lucky guess, I...guess."

"Maybe," I said blankly. Yet again, Dawn lied.

"So..." Dawn continued. "What were you doing with it?"

"I'll show you." I opened it back up and, seeing that it automatically paused the match, I unpaused it. "I was---NO!"

"What?" Dawn asked. "What is it?"

"Oh," I yelled at the game, "no you---AHAH!" On-screen, the character I was using -- Lucario, a mostly-blue Pokémon which, generally speaking, strongly resembled a fox and dog mixed into one -- disappeared and kicked the foe from behind, avoiding the foe's attack and launching the foe beyond the screen's view. I punched the air past the device and shouted at my now-defeated opponent: "I dropped this thing and STILL countered you!"

"What...are you talking about?" Dawn asked, leaning in to see the screen.

"Oh, here." I angled the dual-screened device toward her as Lucario did a victory pose. "It's a game called---"

"Smash Bros.!?" Dawn stated, moving closer, her eyes widening.

"Uhh...yeah. How did you know that?"

"Uhh---" Dawn held her hands up and looked away. "I...don't know."

Placing the 3DS on the counter behind me, I folded my arms. "Okay Dawn, what's up? That's like the fifth time you've lied about things relating to video games. How come?"

She flinched and pressed her index fingers together, turning her face away from most of my view, backing up a few inches.

"Dawn..." I leaned in. "What's wrong?"

She gave no answer and simply stood there, seeming to wait for me to change the subject. While I couldn't see her face entirely, I spotted a small patch of redness on her right cheek, and immediately said, "You're embarrassed to talk about video games?"

Dawn flinched once more, turned further away, and said, "N-no, I just...don't like them, that's all."

"Dawn," I said, one eyebrow lowered, the other raised, "I've been trained to detect lies, but I don't need that to know you're lying. So..." I paused. "You do like video games then?"

"No!" she yelled, turning back to me. "Why would I?"

"Well, that confirms it. You do."

She frowned and threw her fists down at her side. "Stop it! I don't!"

I smiled. "No, you clearly do."

"No!"

"Yes. But why is that such a problem?"

She froze, swallowed, and bit her bottom lip; her eyes focused down and left of herself.

I tilted my head leftward. "I mean, I know people in the Nintendo Worlds don't enjoy video games as much as people where I'm from do, and usually...well...girls don't play them as much as guys do..."

Dawn turned away once more.

"You...that's it isn't it? You're embarrassed to like games 'cause you're a girl? I know it's not as likely, but...it's not that ridiculous, not in the Real World anyway. Is it different here or something?"

"Please," Dawn said, shutting her eyes abruptly, still not facing me.

"Dawn..." The right side of my mouth curled up. "You...look, Dawn." I picked up the 3DS from the counter and opened the device, revealing a list of statistics from the match I had just won. "See this?" I swayed the 3DS left and right a few times. "This is one hundred percent nerd, right here. Trust me: you're in excellent company."

She turned gradually to face me. After smiling subtly, Dawn opened her mouth, ready to speak.

"Oh, there you two are," a voice proclaimed. Cilan strode in from the leftward hallway, the same one Dawn came through. "Where are Ash and Iris?"

"They're battling out back," I answered, eyeing and half-grinning at Dawn. I nodded just enough for her to notice and Cilan to not. Dawn smiled and nodded subtly back.

"Oh, really?" Cilan responded.

"Yeah," I answered. "I...think they're trying to pull off what I did with Snivy earlier. You know, the...down-throwing."

"I see. It would make sense, considering how effective that strategy was."

"It wasn't that great," I stated, glancing downward.

"No, I disagree. I'm quite certain not even Ash could master something like that."

"Uhh," I said blankly, "don't you think that's going a bit too far?"

"No, I don't. And I'm sure he feels the same way."

"You sure?"

Dawn nodded, humming, "Mm-hmm," and continued, saying: "That's not really Ash's style anyway. Something unstoppable like that just...isn't him."

Leaning back, I said, "Oh, was it too much?"

"No," Cilan answered. "It was excellent. There's nothing wrong with it."

Dawn laughed, eyes closed. "Poor Pansear didn't stand a chance."

"Eheh..." I rubbed the right side of my face. "Well I don't know about that. It was your advice that ended up teaching Snivy Vine Whip in the first place Dawn."

"I guess so," Dawn smiled. "But you really put it to good use."

"I'd have to agree there," said Cilan. "But..." Cilan turned behind him to the hallway he came through. "Do you want to go watch their battle?"

Facing Cilan yet with my eyes focused on Dawn, I answered: "We'll catch up with you in a bit."

"Okay then," Cilan concluded. "See you there." Cilan turned fully around and treaded away into the hallway, soon unseen.

***

"So...Dawn," I said to her once Cilan was gone. "About the gaming thing..."

"Timothy," she pleaded, "I---"

"Listen," I said before she could finish, "I just want to know one thing. Did something...happen before that made you so defensive about this?"

Dawn nodded. "But, please, don't---"

I held up my hands. "I won't say anymore about it if you don't want me to. I just needed to know it wasn't a different reason."

"Like...what?"

"Like some sort of cultural thing I don't know about. Is that what it is?"

"No...it...it's what you said before."

"Okay, good." Folding my arms, I leaned in slightly. "I won't say anything to the others -- promise."

With her hands now un-fisted and still at her side, Dawn sighed deeply. "Oh, thank you," she said pitifully.

"No problem," I answered, smiling.

A silent moment later, Dawn asked: "So...do you wanna go watch the battle?"

I nodded. "Sure. But first...I have a question."

"What is it?"

"Well, I've been wondering if people from your world know about this or not. I haven't really gotten a chance to ask about it. Now seems like a good time."

"Know about what?"

I paused, fingers on my chin, eyes focused on the floor. I looked back at Dawn and answered: "You know how sometimes -- like during my Gym battle -- when you can hear music out of nowhere but there's no sound system or anything causing it?"

She nodded slowly. "Uh-huh."

"Well, music like that usually fits the situation perfectly. But...the source..."

"I know where the music comes from," Dawn stated plainly.

"You do?"

Dawn nodded.

"So then you know about one of the 'Star Spirit' guardians of the Mushroom World, named Kalmar?"

"Mm-hmm," she hummed.

"Oh. Then you must know Kalmar can come up with the perfect song or theme for every situation, and that only people that have been to a Nintendo World can hear those songs?"

"Of course I do." Dawn laughed shortly and leaned in. "We're kind of in one, you know."

"Right." I smiled. "Of course. But...when Team Rocket showed up before, they didn't know."

"Well that's just those three for ya. They're not the brightest Thunderbolts in the world."

"Heh," I laughed, "that's true."

Pausing briefly, I suggested we go watch Ash and Iris's battle before it was too late. Dawn agreed, and we partially jogged through the side hallway and to the back door, stepping immediately through the doorway once the doors slid open.

***

Once the glass portals closed swiftly behind us, we both realized a problem:

Ash and Iris stood on, respectively, the right and left side of the field, yet neither Ash nor Iris had any Pokémon out aside from the usual Pikachu and Axew. Pikachu sat quietly on the turf, while Axew remained hidden in hair.

The battle was already over.

Cilan then told us the battle was a draw, and that neither of the two Trainers were able to pull off my "entirely unique" strategy.

Ignoring the compliment, I turned left to face Dawn and sighed, saying: "Well, guess we missed it."

"Oh man," Dawn said, almost whining yet mostly sighing, eyes closed, tilting her head slightly down.

"Too bad," Iris stated as she and Ash walked over to meet us, with Cilan directly between them. "It was really close too."

"Yeah," Ash nodded, "I wasn't sure if I was gonna lose or not." Pikachu nodded with him, saying, "Pik-ah-pika."

"Well great," I said, rolling my eyes. "I was actually looking forward to that. I thought maybe you two might add something to Snivy's throwing tricks."

"Nope," said Iris. "Sorry. We couldn't do much."

"As far as the strategic side of it," Cilan cut in, laughing, "there honestly wasn't any improvement on your strategy."

"Well then..." Dawn said, walking forward an inch or two, coming into my view completely. "At least you didn't miss much."

"Wha--hey!" Iris yelled. "It was still a great battle!"

Ash laughed, saying, "Eheh, well...not really. Neither one of us could do what we were trying to do." Pikachu nodded.

I folded my arms, closing my eyes. "Well, I guess now I know why Mario told Ash to 'take notes.'"

"Wait," Dawn said with her mouth hanging open afterward, "Mario was here!?"

I nodded and answered: "Yep. You just missed him."

"What!?" Dawn yelled. "Why didn't you tell me he was here?"

"Because he left two days ago. He's back in the Mushroom World now."

"Oh."

"Wait," Iris spoke up, "you're only good with battles 'cause of your training right?"

"Pretty much," I told her.

"But that's not fair!"

"Why not?"

"You jealous?" Dawn asked Iris, grinning.

Iris folded her arms and turned her face away. "Hmph," she scoffed, "of course not."

"Heh," I said and smiled, leaning toward Dawn. "She's lying."

"No I'm not!" Iris proclaimed, facing me.

"Well," I grinned, "that confirms it. You are jealous."

"Am not!"

"Now Iris," Cilan spoke up with his hands held out, palms facing Iris, "he can't help what he knows."

I shrugged, sighed, and smirked, not knowing why but not caring either. "I think Iris is just upset that I've been with Pokémon for just over a week while she's been with them her whole life, and yet I've done something she can't." I leaned in toward Iris and squinted, smiling. "Isn't that right?"

"Ohhh!" Iris growled.

"Hmm," I hummed, then stated: "Too bad. I thought for a moment there that you might congratulate me. Not that I would care about 'thanks' or anything. I don't need the encouragement you all usually give." I paused, noticing the silence. "It's a good thing, too. Looks like Iris still can't give an honest compliment."

"Yes I can!" Iris yelled.

"Hey," Dawn whispered to me, "there's no need to make her angrier."

"I'm just getting started," I told Dawn quietly, suddenly not caring about anything but my responses to Iris. "Hey Iris," I said bluntly, "you still mad?"

"Yes!" she scolded. "Stop acting like such a kid!"

"Yep, there's that go-to remark. Your temper isn't helping things you know. Might I suggest taking a break for a second? You know, calm down?" Leaning further in, I grinned -- almost wickedly -- and continued. "Or are you too much of a kid to handle the pressure?"

Iris shouted "Ahh! That's it!", moved forward, and raised her right foot up.

Dawn, Ash, and Cilan each held out a hand, ready to tell Iris to stop, yet failed. Iris slammed her right foot into my left and immediately returned her foot to its standing position.

Dawn said to me: "Are...you---"

"Heh," I said and smirked, still overcome by a lack of restraint. "You know Iris, I almost felt that."

Iris's eyes widened as she furiously replied, "You---stop doing that!"

"What?" I asked sarcastically. "I'm just being myself. Sorry for intruding into your little world."

Iris's right hand formed a fist as she stated firmly: "That's enough!" Axew popped out and held its arms out to Iris, saying, "Ax-ax-yew!", pleading for her to stop. Cilan grabbed Iris's left arm, yet she lifted her leg once more, and smacked it down into my foot with more force.

"Well," I said, folding my arms. "There's no need for that kind of violence, but, if you insist..." Raising up my left foot, I thrusted it straight into Iris's right, making sure to do some level of harm.

Iris screamed, shutting her eyes, standing on her left foot so she could hold her right. Every few seconds, she hopped in place, either due to the pain or to keep her balance.

"Iris," Cilan said, remaining calm. "Surely he didn't hit you that hard, right?"

"No!" Iris cried out with her eyes still shut. "He...did!"

"You can still walk fine," Ash said, "right?"

"I..." Iris paused. "I think...so."

Iris let go of the foot she cradled and gradually let it land, trying to step forward. She immediately flinched, wincing, drawing in air through her teeth, stumbled, and tumbled to the ground, landing mere inches from my feet.

Everyone but me leaned back and gasped.

"Iris!" Cilan said, and glanced at me. "Aren't you going to help her up?"

"Why should I?" I laughed. "She practically asked for it."

Cilan raised an eyebrow for a moment, and then stepped forward, proceeding to grab Iris's right hand while Ash stepped up and took hold of her left. Pikachu fast-walked and stood to the right of me as Cilan and Ash synchronously lifted Iris to her feet; Iris stumbled again once she was completely upright. Cilan and Ash then latched onto her arms and held her in place. The two placed one of Iris's arms around their shoulders, keeping Iris balanced. Iris remained standing with only her left, non-dominant foot.

Dawn stepped aside as Cilan said, "We'd better get you inside, Iris."

Dawn stood silent and remained speechless, beholding the scene.

Iris hopped forward with Cilan and Ash at her right and left sides, respectively, and told them to stop. "I..." she flinched and continued: "I...think it's bleeding."

"Oh please," I said, sighing. "If I really wanted to go that far I would have."

"Ax-yew-yew-yew!" Axew yelled, waving its small green arms erratically at me. It hopped onto the ground, revealing its two-toed feet for the first time.

"How could you act this way!?" Cilan scolded.

"Yeah," Ash said, facing me as he, Cilan, and Iris stood left of me. "What's wrong with you?" Pikachu lowered, on all fours, and stated: "Pika-pi pika!"

"Don't blame me," I answered. "I wasn't the one who had the nerve to attack the SBL Champion. Like that could possibly end well."

Cilan leaned back. "But...I thought you---"

"Just...ignore him," Iris cut in, breathing in more air through her gritting teeth. "Get me to Nurse...Joy, now!"

"Right," Cilan said, "let's go."

Ash and Cilan walked Iris through the now-open, sliding glass doors, taking each step gradually and cautiously. Pikachu and Axew followed close, casting horrendous glances at me as they passed. The doors slowly slid shut behind them as they treaded further into the Center. Dawn and I remained outside.

***

"What was that about?" Dawn asked, arms folded. "You could have really hurt her!"

"So?" I responded.

"So!?" Dawn placed her hands on her hips. "Iris thought her foot was bleeding! Doesn't that bother you?"

"It was just a sprained ankle or toe. Nothing to get worked up about."

"Nothing to---" Dawn paused. "What's the matter with you!?"

I rolled my eyes. "Heeere we go. Look, it's not like I told her to stomp on me. That was her fault."

"But you didn't have to stomp her in return THAT badly! What if she can't walk well now? How will you get to Nacrene City?"

"I can wait. Or she could get crutches. One of the two."

Dawn paused and leaned back with widened eyes. "How could you...you're not yourself. There's no way you'd be like this. Not without a reason."

"What're you suggesting?" I asked, still not caring much for anything.

"Timothy," Dawn said and stepped closer. "This...this isn't like you."

"You've only known me for two days, Dawn. How could you know what I am like and what I'm not?"

"I just...know that something's wrong." Dawn frowned. "Think about it. You have been so against mentioning the SBL tournament or your abilities, but now you've used the SBL tournament to give 'reason' to how it's Iris's fault she got hurt. You hate talking about that event! You hate even the idea of it!"

"Hmph," I answered. "You---wait." I placed my hand on my forehead and at once realized: "You're...right." I glanced down at the small amount of ground between the two of us.

Suddenly an eruption of pain blasted through the entirety of my head, knocking me against the red wall next to the doors. I shouted in pitiful agony, eyes forcibly shut. Dawn came over at once, asking me if I was okay, yet I could hardly hear her. I slid down along the wall, sitting on the grass in a quick second, my feet shifting toward me, legs bending in, knees sticking up.

Dawn got on her knees, positioned left of me, reaching out to try and help. She asked once more if I was alright, yet I cried out, pushing her away: "Stop talking!"

The pain worsened, distorting my vision into an incomprehensible palette of matter. My heart beat through my mind and ears; a clear two beats per second. 12 thumps later, the headache immediately ceased, with my heart soon calming down with it.

"Are you alright?" Dawn asked.

"I..." A deep red glow flashed out from me in all directions, accompanied by a low hum.

Dawn gasped. "What...was that?"

I gazed at my left hand and answered, curling the hand into a fist: "It happened...again."

"What did?"

I looked up at Dawn, who now sat on both her knees and legs, with her hands laying along her skirt and in her lap. "Back...in Accumula Town," I told her. "I got really angry about Team Rocket showing up, and...attacked them, and...threw Ash to the ground 'cause I was so angry."

Her eyes grew. "You...did?"

I nodded. "I don't know why. And a green light showed up then -- not red."

Dawn raised an eyebrow. "That's...really weird."

"I don't expect you to believe me though, after what I just did."

"No, I believe you."

"You do?"

Dawn nodded, humming, "Mm-hmm."

"Why?" I asked her. "How?"

"I...I dunno, I just know something's not right, that's all. Are you alright now, though?"

"Yes, you can stop asking that. I'm fine now -- thanks. I just..." I turned left, faced the see-through doors, and noticed Iris sitting on the second-to-last step of the spiral staircase; Nurse Joy was applying a bag of ice to Iris's foot, which now remained shoe-less and fully exposed.

"How could I do that?" I said to Dawn yet mostly to myself, still peering inside the Center. "Why did I hurt Iris? I had no reason to stomp on her that hard! And yet it was like I wanted to!"

"So," Dawn said, curious as I was, "you knew what you were doing?"

I nodded and faced Dawn. "Yes. Now I'm just wondering why."

"Maybe it was an accident?"

"No," I assured her. "My reasoning may not have been there, but my intentions felt clear." I turned back to the Center's doors. "I just hope Iris can forgive me. Though I wouldn't blame her if she doesn't."

"I'm sure she'll come around," Dawn said, still focused on me. "Even though she can be...a bit short-tempered...she means well. And she's smart too." Dawn smiled. "She'll understand."

"I hope so," I replied, sighing, gazing inside.

***

Iris sat on the second-to-last step of the spiral staircase, Dawn stood right of the wooden structure, Nurse Joy was situating the bag of ice on iris's foot just right, and I stood behind Joy, incapable of making conversation with anyone. Iris refused to speak with me until after Nurse Joy finished treating her, which took a solid five minutes.

A few sprained toes -- Iris's injury. Nurse Joy assured everyone that Iris would heal quick enough to allow for travel very soon, but insisted that we all stay the night and leave the next day. Iris could walk fine then, and if any pain lingered, Dawn had two Pokémon that could use an Ice-type move to ease the pain. Nurse Joy left, saying she needed to do some final checkups on Snivy.

Iris, still sitting on the spiral staircase, denied the idea of forgiving me, a notion I did not decline.

"Hang on, Iris," Dawn protested. "It wasn't his fault."

"What're you talking about!" Iris scolded.

Dawn faced Cilan and said, "Could you all...wait in the lobby? I want to talk to Iris alone."

Cilan and Ash nodded, as did I. "Sure," Cilan answered, "we can do that."

Ash, Cilan, Pikachu, Axew, and I left and remained in the lobby. I stood motionless, speechless, desperately aiming to avoid eye contact with Ash, Cilan, Pikachu, and Axew. They refused to move or speak as well, displeased with me yet seeming to respect Dawn's defense. A few sluggish minutes later, Iris -- with her right arm around Dawn's shoulders -- limped in.

I apologized once more to her, yet confessed, "There's no excuse."

"Well," Iris responded, "after what Dawn told me...I guess...I'll forgive you."

Iris and Dawn soon reached within arm's length of he rest of us as we half-circled them. I held out my left hand, hoping for a handshake from Iris's free arm. Iris spotted the hand, thought on it, and slowly reached for it. She shook my hand, yet it was clear in her spiteful expression that she did so reluctantly. Dawn frowned, seeming to wish she could have done more.

Nurse Joy then walked through the Nintendo logo door and called me up, telling me my Snivy was ready. I thanked her, receiving Snivy's Poké Ball at the counter, keeping my eyes lowered.

***

That night, I was leaning against the door to my room, eyeing the dark blue, starry window to my right. Everyone else was already asleep; my guilt prevented me from even trying to dose off. Dawn soon came in from the left of the mostly-red hallway and headed toward her room directly across from mine. I asked Dawn as she unlocked and opened her door what her plans were.

She reiterated her mentioning of going to Nacrene City, saying she'd leave when the rest of us left.

"Does that mean you're coming with us?" I asked.

"Well..." Dawn paused and held her door in place. "Let's see..." Dawn looked up and placed a finger on her chin. She paused, remembering that Iris was sleeping in Dawn's room and in the bed closest to her room's door. Dawn then whispered: "Someone whose style of training Pokémon comes from what he can already do himself..." Dawn smiled, giggling, and whispered: "I'd like to see where that goes."

I grinned. "Yeah, me too."

Dawn frowned. "I know you feel bad," she began, "but...you should get some sleep. We've got a lot of walking to do tomorrow."

"Right," I nodded. "I'll try."

Dawn smiled and turned away. "Good night then," she whispered over her shoulder.

"Good night," I whispered back.

Dawn stepped inaudibly through the doorway, quietly closing the door behind her.

I shook my head, undecided about what to do. Among my thoughts recurred a few questions: "What do these 'colors' mean? And why do they keep making me hurt someone? Or is it still my fault anyway?" Attempting to deny the last question, I turned and opened my room's door. I tiptoed in, removed my blue-and-white Nike shoes, placed them at my bedside, and crawled into the bed, forcibly stuffing myself under the covers. Eyes closed, I continually fought thoughts of regret and sorrow, despising my random lack of control, tossing and turning, struggling to remain comfortable.

I barely slept an hour that night.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:06 am
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Chapter 12: Taking Care, Part I:

Chapter 12: show
Iris's foot healed just as Nurse Joy said it would. She could walk fine after that night passed, albeit with an almost unnoticeable limp. No one dared bring up the subject.

That morning, all of us waited for Dawn just outside the front entrance to the Center; Dawn was still preparing to leave. Iris then reiterated forgiving me, yet, as she put it, "It's only 'cause Dawn feels that way." Dawn, with Piplup presumably inside its Poké Ball, walked out from the doors at that moment, and, aiming to prevent a reminder of the incident, I suggested we all leave. Everyone agreed, and from Cilan and Ash's sighs, it seemed as though they wanted to forget what happened as well.

We headed rightward, toward the west side of the city, passing by multiple brick, three-story houses. With the time at roughly nine O'clock, the paved streets were generally empty. Rarely did we come across anyone to wave at, and even then, they usually wouldn't wave back. Cilan then informed Dawn and I that the people of Striaton tend to stay up late, and those that wake up early do so reluctantly.

Relating to that style of living, I nodded. Dawn then said: "Well that explains why the café is so popular."

Cilan laughed, eyes closed. "I guess so."

We reached the farthest-west area of the city within a minute, treading through a stone archway with Poké Ball symbols ingrained along the top of the arc on both sides. After crossing a short, 10 foot-long, stone bridge over a pond strewn with lily-pads, we quietly strolled through a garden, now walking on a dirt path between grass.

Bushes clipped to resemble a Pokémon existed along both sides of the path. In order of our passing by, one of each of a Pikachu, Snivy, Tepig, and Oshawott sat on either side. In the grass beyond all the bushes, a field of bright yellow flowers welcomed us. A line of trees circled the path 20 feet away on both sides, shielding the garden.

A stone fountain awaited us directly ahead, with half of the foundation black and half white; the black side faced the city. A statue at the center of the fountain resembled the bow tie-esque Trio Badge I had obtained, split between black and white in the exact opposite manner of the fountain's foundation, with the lighter side facing the town and the darker side facing away. Out of the highest point of the statue, two streams of water poured into the shallow pool inside the fountain. One spray faced the city, while the other flowed in the other direction.

The path circled the fountain along its right side and headed perpendicularly away from the structure. We took the forced right turn and everyone but me continued on; I stayed and examined the fountain. After traveling a few feet, they stopped and turned around, noticing my absence.

"What are you doin'?" Ash asked; he and the rest walked closer.

"Just looking at this fountain," I answered.

"Thinkin' about your badge?" Dawn asked, coming up to my left side.

"No," I told her, eyeing the statue. "It just reminds me of how I was sent here -- to the Pokémon World and all."

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah." My gaze still fixated on the statue, I told Dawn of Bowser and Bowser Jr.'s attack in Peach's Castle's Courtyard, and of the star-shaped statue in the middle of the fountain near where it all occurred.

"Oh," Dawn replied, "that sounds awful. I had no idea that was how you came here..."

"It was bad I guess, but..." I eyed a few clouds up in the sky, dreaming momentarily of my future with Pokémon. "I'm gonna have to thank them someday." I looked back at Dawn. "I probably would have never come here, or liked Pokémon like I do now."

"True," Cilan stated, now standing at my right. Cilan leaned toward the fountain and faced Dawn, glancing past me. "When he first came here, Timothy didn't seem to enjoy this place at all. But now, after staying a while, he does."

"Yep," I nodded. "And I had no clue where to go or what to do. But now..." I again gazed at the statue. "It feels like I fit right in."

"I bet you've learned a lot," Dawn said.

"Mm-hmm," I answered. "More than I could have guessed."

"And we've had a lot of battles too," Ash stated, almost proudly. Pikachu -- on Ash's shoulder -- agreed, holding his paw up, saying, "Pika-pika."

"Yep," I confirmed, smiling. "Quite a---hold on." I leaned in, squinting. "There's something written here."

Along the left, white half of the slanted underside of the statue, a sentence written in black, permanent marker read: "C was here."

"Who's 'C'?" I asked.

"That's Caleb," a choppy voice stated from behind. All of us turned to view the source, with Cilan now at my left and Dawn at my right. Ash and Iris parted to give Dawn, Cilan, and me a clearer view; Ash stood left of Cilan while Iris stood right of Dawn.

A bald, somewhat wide, white-mustached, elderly man stepped toward us with his hands practically tied behind his back, wearing a brown jacket and beige khakis.

"Caleb?" I repeated, confused.

"Correct," the old man responded. "He was a Trainer who won his first Unova Gym Badge here in Striaton City."

"Wait," Cilan cut in. "He wouldn't be the same Caleb that went on to win the Unova League, would he?"

"Indeed," said the man, nodding. "The same."

"Isn't he the one that beat me?" Ash asked.

"I believe so," Cilan answered.

"Yeah," Iris nodded. "You didn't stand a chance, either."

"Come on Iris," Ash said, tilting his head down.

Cilan and Dawn both laughed, with Dawn's laugh being more of a giggle.

"Oh," Cilan said, turning to Dawn and me. "This is Stan. Most Striaton City residents call him 'Stun' because he lets out a bunch of Pokémon during warm nights, called 'Stunfisk.'"

"I...see," I said, smiling, almost laughing at the townspeople's sense of humor.

"Nice to meet you Stan," Dawn said to him.

"A pleasure," replied Stan, slowly and softly, a welcoming and relaxed tone befitting his age. "So," Stan continued, "are you all Trainers?"

We each nodded. "We are," Iris told him.

"Well," said Stan, "then you may want to hear this: I’ve heard that a flock of wild Starly has been gathering near the Pokémon Day Care on the route up ahead."

"Starly!?" Ash said abruptly. "Cool! I used to have one of those back in Sinnoh!"

"Then hopefully you'll get to meet them," Stan chimed, grinning quietly.

"Yeah, I hope so." Pikachu nodded, saying, "Pik-ah-chu."

"Well," Stan said gradually, "I'd best be off to my home now. I'm sure my wife finished cooking breakfast by this point."

"Alright then," Cilan said as Stan walked to the right of us all.

Stan stopped just as he stood on the part of the path that led straight to the main city. "It was nice seeing you again, Cilan," Stan said over his shoulder.

"You too Stun," Cilan answered.

"You all take care now," Stan said to us, waving, his back still facing us.

"We will," Cilan replied.

Stan stepped away, passing through the archway seconds later.

"Well," I said after a short silence, "it was nice meeting someone from this town that had the ability to wave at us."

"Hmm, sure was," Cilan said, laughing.

"I guess we should get going though," I stated, eyeing the path ahead and an archway 20 feet away.

Everyone agreed, and we continued walking, ready to exit the city. At the right of the path, a bush of each the Striaton Gym Leaders' Pokémon -- Pansage, Pansear, and Panpour -- seemed to wave goodbye as we all passed through the gate.

***

Not once during our voyage to the Day Care did we encounter this flock of Starly that the old man mentioned. Whenever it was brought up, Ash would go into how helpful Starly was for him and his team, and how powerful the Pokémon became when it evolved into “Staravia” and then “Staraptor.” The more Starly was discussed, the more I wanted to catch one myself.

After hopping from Pokémon Center to Pokémon Center for nearly a week, the five of us and our Pokémon arrived at the Pokémon Day Care. For being spoken of as a need-to-see place, the building seemed almost too humble. It sat cozily inside a cluster of fall foliage and was merely a wooden, one-story cabin with a window on either side of the door and a semicircular window for the attic. 100 feet from the paved main road, the building remained nearly invisible unless it was searched for. A four-foot tall, wooden sign along the main road read:

Pokémon Day Care
We Take Care of Your Precious Pokémon
~We also offer Pokémon Eggs for a Low Price~


"Pokémon Eggs?" I thought aloud.

"I suppose you don't know," Cilan said from behind. "All Pokémon come from such a source. They're not live births like you might expect."

"Oh," I said plainly, "didn't know that."

Surprised that no one -- not even Iris -- commented on what would likely be common knowledge, I began walking forward, with everyone coming along.

I started to knock, yet Cilan pointed out the tiny sign hanging from the golden door knob, which read: "No need to knock -- just come right in!"

"Huh," I said and grinned. "Too bad people can't be like that back home."

I turned the knob, pushed, and opened the wooden door, somewhat eager to meet the person or persons that ran the place. A bell rang, tapped by the top rim of the door.

Inside the 20-foot-wide room, a tan, linoleum floor awaited, with a brown, rectangular, wrap-around counter directly ahead. Behind the counter was a doorless doorway, leading to another room. All of the walls boasted solid white. In the center of both the left and right walls was a white door; on the left door, a sign read, "Pokémon Eggs," while the right door's sign read, "Trainer's Room." A green couch sat in either back corner of the room.

I stepped further forward, letting everyone else in.

***

An elderly woman came in through the doorway behind the counter. Slightly pudgy and shorter than all of us, she wore a purple, long-sleeved sweater, and kept her gray hair in a bun behind her.

"Oh, hello children," she chimed once she saw us, smiling with an unanticipated level of energy. "Please, come in."

We each treaded forward; Cilan greeted her, referring to her as "Susan."

"Hello Cilan," Susan replied. "How are you?"

"I'm doing well," Cilan answered.

"And Ash and Iris," Susan continued, "I presume you are well also?"

"Yeah, we are," Ash said.

"Mm-hmm," Iris told her, and whispered to me, "And surprisingly, my foot is okay too."

"Eheh," I responded, half-smiling. "Right..."

"So," Susan asked, "who might these other two be?"

"They are Timothy and Dawn," Cilan answered.

"Well," Susan replied, smiling once more, "how can we help the five of you?"

"'We?'" I asked.

"My husband is in the back room," answered Susan. "He helps with taking care of the Pokémon here."

"Oh."

"Is there anything I can do for you all?"

"No," Cilan replied. "We're just passing through."

"Where are you all headed?" asked Susan.

"To Nacrene City," Dawn answered.

"Oh!" Susan leaned back. "Then you're going on a long trip! Why don't you all stay for the night? We have an empty room, built for six."

"Uh---well, no," I responded, holding up my hands. "We couldn't do that."

"Please," the woman stated, "I insist."

"Well..." I turned to Cilan. "Should we?"

"Really," Susan said, stepping closer to the counter she stood behind, "we wouldn't mind having you all here. Trainers don't come by often, so we enjoy the company. That is what the guest room is for, after all."

I answered gradually, gazing at the ceiling, "Well..."

Dawn turned to me and back to Susan. "That'd be great," Dawn said, seemingly for me. "Thank you."

"It's no problem at all," Susan replied. "You kids go on in that room to your right and make yourselves at home."

"We will," Iris said. "Thanks."

Ash and Cilan thanked Susan, as did I a moment later. Realizing it would be rude to not accept the offer, I thanked Susan once more and motioned for the five of us to get settled in. Opening the bedroom door, I stepped in, followed by Iris, Ash, Dawn, and Cilan; Cilan closed the door behind us.

The room was somewhat compact yet suited the place well. Parallel to and along most of the back wall, two wooden bunk beds awaited us, while two wooden beds were positioned parallel to the side walls. All of the beds had white sheets and blankets that had sunflowers all over. Each wall was white, with a flowery painting framed over top each bed. Between the bunk beds in the back of the room, a closed door which led to the bathroom was easily reachable. A metallic, rectangular air conditioning/heating unit existed in the front-right corner of the room, closest to the rightward single bed. A window at the right of the room gave a view of the front yard.

"Oh wow," Dawn said, holding her hands together in front of herself. "What a cute little room!"

Everyone went and selected their beds; Dawn and Iris chose the back-left bunk bed (Iris on top, Dawn on the bottom) and Ash and Cilan picked the back-right bunk bed (Ash on top, Cilan on the bottom). Out of the remaining two single beds, I chose the rightward one so that I could adjust the room temperature to everyone's needs.

***

Around an hour and a half later, I was quietly sitting on my bed when Ash and Iris came up to me. Dawn was in the bathroom, having just awoke from a quick nap.

"Whatchya thinkin' about?" Ash asked.

"Nothing," I answered.

"I bet you're thinking about those Starly," Iris said.

"Yeah," I told her, sighing. "Every time I think of what Ash's Starly was like, I can't help but wonder..."

"Wonder what?" asked Iris.

"Wonder what it'd be like to have my own," I answered.

"I hear ya," Ash said, holding his head high and back, eyes closed. "There's nothing like catching a new Pokémon -- especially your first one." Pikachu held its paw up. "Pika-chu," it stated, grinning.

"Yeah," I spoke calmly, turning right to face the window. "I just don't know where this flock of Starly is at, or if we'll even find them."

"I'm sure you will," Cilan claimed, walking over to us. "When it comes to large groups of wild Pokémon, Stan knows what he's talking about."

"Then why haven't we seen any?" I asked. "He said they'd be around here."

"Nah," Ash said, smiling, "they'll come. I'm sure of it."

"We haven't really looked that hard anyway," Iris said, glancing at the window.

"She's right," Cilan stated. "We've stayed on the main path the whole time. As timid as Starly are known to be, it's no surprise they wouldn't be too close to the main road."

"Oh," I responded blankly. "Then maybe I should go out and look more."

"You should," Iris stated. "If you want to catch a Pokémon, you can't expect one to just appear."

"Right," I nodded. "Makes sense." I gazed out at the window some more. "Just like animals back home."

The bathroom door opened; Dawn came out holding Piplup in her arms and joined the rest of us. "What're you all talking about?" she asked, followed by Piplup, which questioned, "Pip-lup pip?"

"I think Timothy wants to catch a Pokémon," Cilan told Dawn, facing her momentarily.

"Oh really?" Dawn asked sarcastically. She faced me and stepped closer. "I bet it's Starly you're after, right?"

"Mm-hmm," I answered, nodding. "I think I'm gonna go out and look for that flock."

"Why don't we come with you then?" Dawn suggested. "You'll need to know how to catch one once you find the flock."

"That sounds like a great idea," Cilan stated.

"Yeah," Ash nodded. "Sounds good to me."

"Me too," Iris said.

"Well," I continued, folding my arms. "I guess that's settled then."

"If you don't mind," Cilan cut in, "I'd like to stay here and help Susan and her husband with the Pokémon they're taking care of out back."

"Okay," Iris replied, "but should one of us stay too?"

"No." Cilan shook his head. "You all go on; I'll be just fine here."

"Well okay!" Ash said and turned to me. "What're we waiting for?"

"Yeah," Dawn spoke up, "let's go!"

Nodding, I stood up off of the bed and stared at the window one last time. "Okay," I thought, "here we go."

Ash, Iris, and Dawn each left all of their Pokémon and their respective Poké Balls with Cilan, with the exception of Pikachu, Axew, and Piplup while I of course kept my Snivy with me. They left their bags behind as well, not intending to carry unneeded luggage. Once the four of us reached the main room of the Day Care, Susan stopped us and asked where we were going. Ash and Iris relayed the plan to her; Susan smiled, wished us a "nice time," and then waved.

Just before I opened the front door, Susan called out: "Oh, you all should be careful. There's a group of nasty Bug Pokémon that have been showing up recently."

"We will," Dawn called back as Ash and Iris waved. Cilan exited our room and waved to us as well, assuring everyone that their Pokémon would be "in good hands."

After a round of thanks from Ash, Iris, Dawn, and their Pokémon, we left immediately, turning left. We took another left turn and walked down a small trail leading into the forest, as was told to us by Susan moments before. A few minutes later, the trail widened and led to a more open roadway, surrounded by vibrant autumn trees that glistened in the golden afternoon sun.

***

After an hour of traveling on the path and following its northwest curve, we reached a rocky cave embedded in a 100-foot-tall hillside and paused at its entrance. The opening leading into the cave was ten feet in diameter.

Pulling out my 3DS, I checked its GPS; the cave was known as "Wellspring Cave," and we had walked a good three miles from the Day Care. Putting the device away at once, I said to the others, "We probably should turn around now. Another hour and it'll be getting dark."

"What about the cave?" Ash asked.

"I doubt any bird would live in there," I told Ash, thinking of the Starly flock. "Unless...they actually like caves."

"No," Dawn said, shaking her head, "they don't. We should go. Sorry we didn't see any Starly." Piplup sighed with her statement, saying, "Pip-lup piplup."

"That's okay," I told the two. "Let's go."

Each of us reluctantly turned around, with Ash trying to encourage me, saying that we'd "find them next time."

"Right," I said to Ash, eyes focused on the dirt path ahead, "sure."

Dawn was right of me now, with Ash left of me and Iris left of him. Just as we began treading forward, Dawn halted. "Wait..." she said, facing me. "Do you hear that?"

I stopped and listened. "I...do," I answered, an eyebrow raised.

"Hear what?" Ash asked. "I don't hear any---oh, now I do."

"Me too," said Iris.

Sensing the sound was coming from the cave, we faced the dark opening at once. Scraping, scratching, clawing, rustling, the source remained unseen. Dawn and Iris shivered momentarily, with Dawn squeezing her Piplup tighter, while Ash flinched and kept still. Pikachu shook atop Ash's shoulder; even Iris's hair vibrated, disturbed by Axew's quivering.

"What is...that sound?" Dawn asked, leaning subtly toward me.

"I don't know," Ash answered with his right hand held up a short height, "but I don't want to find out."

"Are...they ghosts?" Iris asked, the very mentioning of which rattled her.

Dawn flinched. "I...sure hope not."

"No," I smiled, "ghosts don't sound like that."

"How...would you know?" Dawn questioned.

I whispered back to her: "You spend a night in Luigi's Mansion and tell me you don't know what ghosts sound like."

"Fair...enough," Dawn replied, smiling, eyes closed.

Suddenly, a dozen pairs of red eyes of varying sizes glared from inside the cave. All of us, including me, froze in place.

"Okay," I said quietly. "That's not normal." I waved with my left hand to the menacing figures. "Hey there you guys. How ya doin'?"

"Don't do that!" Dawn whispered abruptly. "We don't know what they are!"

"Are they...Pokémon?" Ash asked in a hushed tone.

"I've never seen eyes like those," Iris whispered. "They don't even look real!"

A thirteenth pair of eyes glowed, and soon grew bigger than the rest. All of the surrounding eyes grew as well. Six slow, sluggish seconds later, 12 creatures creeped out of the dark and into view, with the thirteenth pair of eyes still waiting in the dark's mystical veil.

Each of the 12 creatures were exactly alike. Standing on four bent legs and hugging the ground, the creatures had a ruggedly spherical head and a round body, with both being crimson in color. They strongly resembled both a spider and an ant, despite being four-legged. Their round eyes were entirely light purple, save for their round, black pupils. Each of their legs were golden-yellow with thick light purple stripes, and part of a fifth and sixth leg of the same pattern jutted out from the beings' backs at a 45 degree angle, yet these did not reach the ground, and in no way could they be used to assist in walking. The four main legs ended in a single golden-yellow claw.
The body of the creatures had two thick black stripes that both circled a full 360 degrees around the beings, with one stripe near their necks and one stripe where the fifth and sixth "legs" were. Close to the backside of the beings, two large black dots existed. Protruding from their mouths were two white and considerably large mandibles, and a white horn jutted from the beings' foreheads. Their rears ended in a yellow spike, duller than the white horn, yet wider. The overall size of each creature: four feet long and two feet wide.

Dawn gasped. "Aria...dos," she stated, barely.

"Aria-what?" I whispered to Dawn.

"Ariados," she answered, whispering back. "They're Bug- and Poison-type Pokémon."

"Bug AND Poison?" I focused on the spider-like Pokémon. "Well that can't be good."

"Maybe...they're friendly?" Ash said, desperately hoping he was correct.

"I don't think I want to find out," said Dawn, shivering for a second; Piplup shivered with her.

"We need to just back away slowly," Iris said, moving her right foot a few inches behind herself.

"Right," I responded quietly, nodding. "If they don't see us as a threat, they won't attack, right?"

Each of us tip-toed backwards, sluggishly placing more distance between ourselves and the crimson Ariados. Seconds later, the spidery creatures crawled closer at a speed slightly greater than ours. A slow ten seconds passed as I examined the beings' movements, trying to anticipate their next move, fearing they would attack.

Suddenly, the thirteenth pair of eyes swelled and morphed into a physical shape, creeping up from behind the Ariados, sneaking past the spiders, standing in front. It was shaped exactly like the Ariados -- only roughly half a foot larger in length and height -- yet its coloring did not match. Its body and head was light purple instead of crimson, and the thick stripes on its legs were metallic gray instead of light purple.

"Is that another Ariados?" I asked, confused about the color change.

"That must be a..." Dawn paused. "A Shiny Ariados."

"A...'Shiny' one?"

"They're Pokémon of a different color than usual."

"They're really hard to find," whispered Ash as we all kept moving away. "I've only ever caught one!"

"Shh!" Iris scolded. "They'll hear you!"

Deciding to ask questions later, I remained silent, as did Ash and Dawn, and we kept backing up.

The purplish Ariados raised its front two legs up, bending its body upward, standing momentarily on its hind legs, and screeched, "Aiirr-eeee!"

The Ariados along the edge of the group scurried forward and out of the cave, with the middle ones remaining motionless. Seeing what the Ariados were doing, I shouted, "Run! They're tryin' to surround us!"

Just as we each turned to flee, two of the Ariados leaped over us and landed in front. Dawn and I began running rightward while Ash and Iris went left, yet two Ariados jumped to both the right and left openings, surrounding all of us. Six Ariados now stood in our way of leaving the area, while six and the Shiny one stood on the path between us and the cave.

"Please!" Dawn said, turning to the Shiny Ariados. "Let us leave! We don't mean you any harm!" Ash, Iris, and I each rotated and faced the group near the cave.

The Shiny Ariados bent itself inward, toward the ground, and blasted a deep crimson beam -- laced with purple -- from its horn straight at Dawn, enveloping her entire body in a deep red glow. Dawn winced, bending down subtly, eyes forcibly and abruptly shut, and let go of Piplup, who tumbled to the dirt, propping itself up at once. It turned around and gazed up at Dawn with lowered and half-shut eyes, asking, "Pip-lup piplup?" It hoped for a reply, yet only a low, continuous hum from the light answered him.

Ash, Iris, and I gasped, flinching at the sight. I reached out and cautiously placed my left hand on Dawn's right shoulder, saying, "Dawn, you okay?" Some of the red glow conducted onto my hand and flowed throughout my arm, forcing my hand to instinctively let go. Holding the arm in place with my right hand, I managed only to grunt through my gritting teeth: "Erhh..."

Dawn attempted to smile as she said, still covered in red light, "So that's...what Night Shade feels...like."

The glow on both my left arm and Dawn glared outward for a split-second and ceased at once, taking the low hum with it. I shook my arm for a moment, saying, "Man, that move..." Placing a hand on Dawn's shoulder once more, I asked her: "You okay though?"

Dawn nodded and remained motionless otherwise. "Mm...hmm," she hummed.

"Good," I responded. Facing the Shiny Ariados, I continued, removing my hand: "But what did you use Leer for!? Dawn didn't do anything to you!"

"Maybe we're in the Ariados' territory," said Iris.

"Well," I sighed, thinking of earthly animals while eyeing the group of Bug-types, "if that's all, Ariados, we'll leave right now and forget this ever happened."

The purple Ariados proclaimed "Air-ee...dooss!" and the six Ariados around it immediately lowered to the ground, rose up to their normal position, and focused their eyes on a specific point ahead of them.

Dawn swallowed. "They're staring...at me."

"What?" I asked. "Why?"

"I...don't know."

The Shiny one lowered itself, eyes fixed on Dawn. Ash, leaning back, shouted, pointing: "Pikachu! Use Thunderbolt, now!"

The yellow mouse hopped to the ground in front and stood on all fours; its solid red cheeks crackled and sparked continuously. Exclaiming "Pika...CHUUU!", Pikachu launched a golden-yellow beam of lightning toward the purple Ariados, the group's evident leader. Pikachu now stood in front of Ash, left of him and right of me.

The Ariados directly right of the Shiny one slid in front and, with its eyes glowing a bright light blue, formed a light blue veil around itself and its purple ally. The Thunderbolt clashed with the shield, sparking in all directions, lighting the cave, revealing a pool of water inside, and ceased seconds later. The Thunderbolt having finished, the Ariados ended its blue field of light, stepped back to its original position, and continued staring at Dawn.

"That was...Protect," said Dawn.

"Well," I said, smiling halfway, "that seems about right."

"Pikachu!" Ash shouted. "Use---"

"Wait Ash," I said swiftly, "don't. They could use Protect again and things will only get worse."

Ash grunted and said reluctantly: "R...Right."

"What do they want?" Iris asked, holding her breath.

Dawn leaned back. "It's almost like they want...me."

"But why?" I asked, facing Dawn. "You didn't do anything."

"I know," she frowned, "but---"

Suddenly, a yellow-and-orange, two-foot-wide beam blasted in from behind, directly striking Pikachu and sending the electric mouse forward. In perfect sync, the Ariados left of the Shiny one raced in front and fired a beam exactly like the first, sending Pikachu a few feet past Ash and me.

"Oh no!" Ash shouted, turning to his Pokémon. "Pikachu!"

Pikachu pressed its tiny paws into the dirt below, grunting its name gradually, struggling to stand. A moment later, it stood on its hind legs, arms dangling in front, eyes squinting. The yellow mouse's sides and stomach were now covered in tan dust.

An Ariados away from the cave spewed an inch-wide stream of white, silky string, wrapping and entangling Pikachu's entire body, save for its ears, face, and tail. The momentum from the string sent Pikachu to the ground and on its side; Pikachu frantically tried to break out of the string, yet only managed to roll back and forth, turning from one side to the other.

Ash called out: "Pikachu! Thunderbolt!"

Shouting its name, Pikachu and its body sparked momentarily, causing the string to glow. The electricity faded a few seconds later, having accomplished nothing whatsoever.

"What!?" Ash yelled, grunting.

"I don't think that string conducts electricity," Iris said, leaning back.

"What is that stuff?" I asked, half-squinting. "Some kind of silk?"

"String Shot," Dawn answered. "One of the most...useful Bug-type moves."

Ash growled and commanded: "Pikachu! Try Iron Tail!"

Pikachu rose its tail off of the ground, yet before it could initiate the instructed move, another Ariados away from the cave shot out more stringy webbing, holding Pikachu's tail down and practically gluing the tail to the ground.

"Pikachu!" Ash exclaimed, beginning to dash forward.

From the cave's side, two strings launched; one tied Ash's arms to his side, while the other ensnared his feet, causing Ash to stumble, tumble, and land on the dirt, face-down. He bent up his head and neck, attempting to call to Pikachu once more, yet a short trail of string darted from in front, instantly covering Ash's mouth, silencing him.

Iris commanded at once: "Axew! Come out, now!"

The green, dual-tusk Pokémon popped out and hopped to the ground, eyeing Ash and his fallen Pikachu. Just as Iris commanded Axew to use "Dragon Rage," multiple strings from ahead wrapped up Axew, with one string remaining connected to both Axew and the string's Ariados. Not a second later, and Axew was dragged over to where Pikachu lay and forcibly glued to the ground, stuck to both the dirt and Pikachu.

Iris yelled "Axew!" and ran over to meet with it, yet two strings from behind entangled Iris just as with Ash and tripped her, sending her to the ground. A small string from ahead glued itself to Iris's mouth at once.

"We've got to do something!" Dawn stated, holding her right fist near her chest.

Piplup nodded and darted past Dawn and me, racing toward the incapacitated Pikachu and Axew.

"Wait, Piplup!" Dawn called out. "There's too many!"

The penguin continued treading forward, boldly proclaiming its name. Three Ariados slid in front of the two tied-up Pokémon; Piplup leaped, attempting to pass over them, yet an Ariados from the side launched a String Shot and snatched Piplup up, hurling it at wicked speed to the dirt. A small plume of dust appeared, settled, and revealed Piplup now stuck with the two Pokémon he tried to save.

Dawn gasped. "Piplup!" After a quick pause, Dawn continued, reaching up and over her head. "Hang on! I'll use a different Pok---oh no! We left our Pokémon back at---"

A string from in front pulled Dawn's arm down to her side, and a string from behind glued both arms in place, circling Dawn's stomach and part of her waist. Dawn grunted, eyes closed, and struggled with the String Shot, attempting to break free yet barely stretching the thread out an inch. The silky strings re-tightened and remained firmly in place.

I immediately turned right and reached for the strings tied to Dawn's stomach. "Hold still," I said while clasping the top rim of the webbing, firmly pushing into the ground for leverage. "I'll get this off," I assured her, pulling.

One of the cave-side Ariados scurried forward and fired two strands of silk from behind me, wrapping my stomach, tugging backward, forcing me to let go of the strings and crash into the dirt.

"Are you okay?" asked Dawn.

"Yeah," I answered, placing my palms on the ground. "I---"

The silk, still attached to its Ariados, retracted, dragging me away. Dawn quickly shifted one foot forward, starting to run toward me, yet another Ariados slid in between the two of us, saying, in a raspy, garbled dialect: "Airrrr!"

Dawn looked over top the long-legged Pokémon, holding her breath in helpless horror as the other drew me in. Once I reached a mere three feet from the massive insectile creature, two cave-side Ariados sneaked forward with evilly-squinted eyes. They each glared at Dawn, who turned to them and flinched.

The Shiny Ariados proclaimed, eyeing Dawn, "Dosss!"

The two Ariados, standing within ten feet of Dawn, began forming a yellow-orange sphere near their mouths, with their four legs firmly standing.

Knowing the initiated attacks were Hyper Beams, I yelled, "What---NO!"

Laying my feet flat as I continued sliding backward, I pushed off of the dirt, lunging a good five feet upward, carrying me directly over top of my captor. With my legs and feet now aligned and together, I slammed my feet into the head of the Bug-type being, breaking its connection with the thread still around me. The Ariados’s legs lay flat as it collapsed to the ground, stunned.

I leaped forward, igniting my left hand in flames mid-air; the String Shot around me incinerated instantly. I landed and jumped again, swiftly passing over the Ariados that prevented Dawn from reaching me. I slid a few feet upon arriving on the ground and pivoted rightward once I stopped, as I now stood directly between Dawn and the two attacking Ariados.

I leaned back; the charging Hyper Beams had doubled their initial size.

Dawn took a step closer. "Wait, you can't!"

My left foot slid backward as my right knee bent forward slightly. Keeping my hand lit, I held both hands out in front, holding my left hand's wrist with my right fingers.

The beams fired; Dawn gasped as the beams collided synchronously into my palms. Ash and Iris's eyes widened as the two yelled, yet their shouts were muffled by the thread. Orange and mostly-yellow energy blasted into the hands that took the beams, racing around and onto my forearms. My feet dug into the ground, tilling up soil both loose and firm, shifting backward a few inches. I bent inward, shouting, the two energies now flowing toward my shoulders. Using pure will, I released a fireball that flew up, backward, and directly to the strings around Dawn, obliterating the threads at once.

I barely managed to grin, feeling I could handle the beams, yet the third Ariados stepped up in front and quickly launched its own Hyper Beam, aimed at me. The attack created a smoke-filled explosion at the impact point, causing all three Ariados to cease firing.

"No!" Dawn screamed, holding down her beanie as the explosion's wind blew back her hair and scarf, flapping her skirt back and forth.

None of me was visible to Dawn or anyone else. The smoke remained, entirely shrouding me for a solid ten seconds, with the explosion's gust now slowed to a breeze. Everyone and their Pokémon watched in silence.

Dawn gasped; a blazing flame peeked through the smoke. The fog cleared, blown away by the glowing heat. The Shiny Ariados stepped back, seeing me still standing.

"Listen," I said, turning to Dawn. "As soon as you get the chance, get out a Pokémon, free the others, and run."

"But..." Dawn paused. "What about...you?"

"I'll hold these things back."

"But...you can't! They---"

"Go, Dawn!" I gritted my teeth together. "We're outnumbered! There's no point in you all getting hurt. Now go!"

"No!" Dawn held both her hands at her side. "I'm not just gonna leave you here!"

"What!? But---"

"Airr-eee!" the Shiny Ariados yelled.

Having no time to argue, I returned to facing the three Ariados. "Alright," I grunted. "If you insist on attacking us, then...fine!" Bending my right knee forward, sliding my left leg back, I increased the fire's intensity, furiously shouting: "But I won't let you hurt anyone else!"

"Wait!" Dawn called out, raising an arm. "Don't! It's no use!"

"Do I have a choice!?" I asked abruptly, turning my head and neck toward Dawn.

Dawn didn't give an answer.

I faced the enemies again and dashed forward. Selecting the rightmost of the three, I reached down and grabbed it by the neck with both hands, sending more flame-filled energy to my left hand and some flame-less heat to my right. Using the energy, I tossed the massive, four-legged spider into the air, eyeing the tiny trail of embers following the flung foe. With precise aim, I punched the Ariados's underside with alternating fists, moving us both toward the cave, a blast of heat accompanying each left-handed punch. Seven punches in all -- four left-handed and three right.

The insectile Bug-type was launched upward a few feet by the last left-fisted slug and soon began to fall; I paused during its descent, firmly pressing my shoes into the dirt. With a back-flip not carrying me any higher than when I stood, my feet kicked the Ariados up and slightly forward, twice as high as the previous punch. I stood again and drew my hands together at my left side, sending fiery energy to my left hand.

Shouting "Hmm...erraah!", I thrusted both hands forward with their thumbs locked together, releasing a blast of erratic flames just as the Bug-type neared chest level with me. The Ariados launched into the cave, entirely swallowed by the darkness. The other two Ariados creeped forward, crawling closer and around to directly in front of me, yet I blasted them in the same manner, launching them away into the cave.

"Whoa," Dawn said under her breath.

I turned to Dawn, ceasing the flames around my left hand. Over my shoulder, I told the Shiny leader: "Listen! If you'll let us, we'll leave right now and I won't do anything else! But if---"

The leader proclaimed "Dosss!" at once. Two Ariados from behind Dawn scurried forward, positioning themselves -- from my view -- left of her. They began forming a ball of bewildering, brown, muddy sludge near their mouths.

I instinctively jumped in between the Bugs and Dawn, flinging a single sphere of embers as I glided in. The flame destroyed the leftward Ariados's attack while the rightward one's move then fired. With both hands I took the hit, sludge splattering all over my arms.

Dawn gasped. "That was a Sludge Bomb! It's a Poison-type m---" Dawn screamed suddenly, having turned to her right. An Ariados from the group far away from the cave fired a Sludge Bomb, heading directly for Dawn. Wincing, Dawn closed her eyes, holding her hands up, turning her face away.

"No!" I yelled and immediately lunged forward. I couldn't throw fire, fearing the exploded sludge would creep into Dawn's open mouth. I desperately wanted to block the attack, yet, as I descended from the jump, I realized my reaction was too slow. I helplessly watched the sludge fly closer as I neared my landing point, knowing I could do nothing. Ash and Iris shouted a muffled mumble, while their Pokémon and Piplup exclaimed "Pika-chu!", "Ax-yew!", and "Pip-lup!"

At the last possible second, a black-and-white blur swooped down from above and took the Sludge Bomb directly, curving upward afterward, followed by a short trail of white. Well over a dozen identical blurs then flew in and appeared to slash through the three Sludge Bomb-using Ariados, lifting the three up and away from Dawn and me. The three Ariados landed and shut their eyes, unable to move. I landed, slid succinctly, and pivoted to face Dawn.

"You...okay, Dawn?" I asked, wondering what had just happened.

Not a single splotch of sludge was on her. "Yeah," she answered slowly, opening her eyes, "I'm fine." She then gasped and said: "Look!"

I turned and looked. The trails of white swiftly rushed to the ground and halted, standing firm. A good dozen of them surrounded Ash, Iris, their Pokémon, and Piplup, while seven of them half-circled Dawn and me, positioned everywhere except the side that faced the forest to our right. The white light faded, revealing the creatures behind the facade.

Standing at only a foot tall, the creatures resembled birds. Rather plump, they had round heads and somewhat bulging bodies. A patch of white covered their faces in the shape of a three-leaf clover, while the rest of their heads were black. A stray feather curved backward from the tops of their heads, reaching an inch or two away. The beings' eyes were oval and entirely black aside from their white pupils. The black feathers on their heads covered their necks with zigzagging tips. Their bodies were gray, with a white circle at the center of their chests. They had three tail feathers, sticking almost entirely straight up. The tail feathers on the left and right were black, while the one in the middle was white. Their wings zigzagged into black halfway, and their rather long, pointy beaks were orange and tipped with black, while their three-toed feet were orange as well. One of them was covered in sludge, yet shook it off in mere seconds.

Dawn leaned back. "Those are...Starly!"

"Starly!?" I repeated, facing Dawn. "You mean...this is that flock we've been looking for!?"

She nodded, smiling. "I guess so!"

I laughed for a brief moment and continued: "Well, that sure is good timing! I---"

A blast of wind struck from behind, accompanied by something shouting: "Star-ly!"

Dawn and I turned, finding one of the Starly now lying on the ground between us and covered in sludge. The other Starly around us then yelled at the Shiny Ariados, evidently the source of the goop.

"Hey!" Dawn yelled.

"You can't do that!" I exclaimed. "Those Star---" I paused and leaned back. "Oh no."

The Shiny Ariados proclaimed "Doooosss!" and began forming a yellow-orange sphere near its mouth. It was about to use Hyper Beam, and turned to face Dawn.

"No!" I yelled, sliding in front of Dawn.

The Hyper Beam fired. I took the blast with my hands, making sure to encase the left hand in flames first. Already I began sliding backward, the force behind the beam just as intense as the previous two Hyper Beams combined. I planted my feet firmly into the soil, not intending to give in, irrevocably defiant toward the Shiny Ariados.

Another white blur swooped down from the sky yet halted ten feet from the ground, seeing the scene unfold. It gazed in awe as I painfully shouted: "You're not...gonna hurt her! You won't hurt anyone else Ariados! Not...any...more!"

The purple Ariados bent inward and growled, increasing the size and tenacity of the blast, bringing me to a left-legged knee. I shouted for all to hear: "Dawn! Starly! Run...now! I...can't...keep this up for...long!"

Dawn froze. "But---"

"Go, Dawn! And the Starly too! NOW!"

All of the grounded Starly refused to move or even speak, staring at me, petrified. My right knee began to bend forward, the attack simply too great to withstand. My eyes closed, awaiting what appeared to be imminent defeat.

The blur from above sharpened its eyes' focus and rushed downward. Still trailed by white, it created a light blue field of light around it, landed, and placed the light in between the Hyper Beam and me. The Hyper Beam crashed and flashed all over the shield, encasing the shield in yellow-orange, dissipating soon after impact. The Shiny Ariados cut off the blast of energy and paused, eyeing the situation.

My eyes opened; a small yet enduring amount of orangish-yellow remained along my hands, thrashing about, yet the field of light had blocked the rest. I looked down and saw the source of the light: another Starly, with this one being a few inches taller and larger than the others. The field of light faded.

I swallowed, wiped some sweat away from my forehead, and spoke slowly. "That was...Protect, right? And all those blurs were...Quick Attacks, like with Pikachu." I gazed at the Starly that Protected Dawn and me. "Starly," I said to it; the bird pivoted and faced me. "Thanks. I---huh?" I eyed the bird-like Pokémon for a moment and then continued: "You look...different." Instead of a solid white circle on its chest, this Starly's white mark on its chest was shaped like a mushroom.

"Star-ly star?" the bird asked, tilting its head.

"Huh?" I responded. "Oh, I...I'm fine."

Dawn stepped forward. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah." I paused, forming two fists. "It'll just...take me a second to...adjust." I focused the heat of the energy to my left hand, causing the remnants of the Hyper Beam around my right hand to jump to my left. With my left fist tightening, I blasted the energy outward and away from me, breathing heavily for a brief moment afterward.

"Whew," I sighed, smiling, standing up. "That was close. Thanks, Starly. I---" Suddenly, an overwhelming streak of agony crashed into my head, sending me to my knees. I covered my ears, desperately hoping the pain would end. I knew I was yelling in my plight, yet could not even hear my shouting. Dawn and a few Starly came over, likely asking if I was alright, yet I couldn't hear them, either. The incessant throbbing continued to pound into me as I fell to the ground, lying on my right side.

Dawn knelt and began reaching out to me. The pain ceased, and a second later, a profoundly orange light flashed from me in all directions.

"That...light," said Dawn. "It...happened again. Are you…okay?"

I nodded, eyes closed, strangely lacking the will to fight. "I...think so." I opened my eyes; still lying on the ground, I could only see the lower half of her. I shifted my eyes leftward, letting me barely see her face. Everything I now beheld distorted itself, presenting me with multiple translucent Dawns that continued to circle around where the original had been. While I saw a total of six Dawns at once, their faces presented an even stranger effect: one stared furiously, one grinned evilly, one smiled with heroic confidence, one smirked charmingly, one held her chin up high and brimmed with knowledge, and one kept her eyes closed, full of cool, calm peace.

I shut my eyes, horrified by the sight. Dawn asked what was wrong; I opened gradually and carefully gazed up at her. She had returned to normal, and now possessed an expression of sorrow, one that included high reflectivity in her eyes, her eyes having teared up slightly.

I searched for energy to stay awake and found none. My eyes closed, forcibly shutting.


Part II should hopefully be coming soon. It's getting close to being done as it is.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
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SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:01 am
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Gonna have to split this, but this post and the next post is all part II.

Chapter 12: Taking Care, Part II:

Chapter 12: show
Elliptical light gleamed in, faded, reappeared, dimmed, and remained. The sun's golden glint peeked inside, illuminating the view. I peered around, confused by a blur of randomized colors. A familiar, female voice excitedly chimed, "He's awake!"

I turned my head left, witnessing a pastel mix of slightly-pink cream and dark blue. My eyes focused on the image and soon revealed the sight to be Dawn standing at my side. I gazed around the area and saw Cilan right of Dawn, Ash right of Cilan, and Iris right of Ash. Dawn held Piplup against herself, Pikachu sat on Ash's shoulder, and Axew's head poked out from Iris's hair.

I jerked, raising the upper half of myself at once, becoming perpendicular from where I lay.

"Where're the Ariados!?" I yelled, frantically turning my head left and right.

"Whoa, calm down," said Dawn, reaching out with both arms. She placed them both on my left shoulder, and, to my surprise, managed to easily lay me back down while I remained unable to stop her. "You need to rest."

"Rest!?" I shouted, leaning back. "But the Ariados!"

"They're gone."

"Wha---what?"

"The Starly took care of them," Ash said, with Pikachu nodding, stating its name.

"Wait," I said and paused, looking around. "How did I get back...here?" Instead of the grassy field near the cave, we were in our room at the Day Care. I flinched, seeing I was laying in my bed, covered in blankets.

"The Starly brought you here," answered Cilan.

"The Starly!?" I sat up again and gazed leftward at the floor; the entire floor was littered with Starly. They each gazed up at me, watching intently, silent. "They brought me here?"

"Mm-hmm," Dawn nodded, "they sure did. The leader made sure of it."

"They carried you on their backs and...wings," Iris added, her Axew waving to the flock.

"Really?"

"Star-star-ly!" said something to my left. Glancing down, I noticed the leader Starly -- complete with its unusual mushroom-like marking on its chest -- standing at my side; it simply stared, intensely focused.

"Woah," I responded, blinking, "didn't uhh...see you there."

Dawn giggled. "I think that Starly has been worried about you."

"It has?"

"I agree," Cilan spoke up. "That Starly has been watching you ever since you passed out. It seems genuinely concerned."

"Huh," I said and paused, eyeing the Starly for a moment. "I didn't know Pokémon could be 'concerned' about people that aren't their Trainers."

"Yeah," Ash said, arms folded, watching the bird as well. "They sure can."

"Well..." I pulled my left arm out from under the blankets and patted the Starly's head, continuing: "Thanks, Starly. I'm not sure what would have happened if you and your flock didn't show up."

The Starly tapped its chest with its left wing, closing its eyes, saying, "Starly-starly!"

"Seems like someone's a bit proud of itself," Iris said, eyes half-shut.

"Well," I said, patting the Starly once more, "it deserves it."

"Oh," a voice from the room's entrance chimed. "You're awake."

Everyone turned to view the source. "Oh, hi Susan!" Dawn said, seeing the woman in the doorway. Susan stepped quietly toward my bed's vicinity as Dawn, Cilan, and the flock of Starly parted, letting her see me.

"Are you alright?" Susan asked, frowning.

"I'm fine," I answered.

"Good," she smiled, "glad to hear that." Susan turned to her right, facing Dawn for a few seconds. She continued, turning: "Cilan, would you and Ash and Iris come with me for a moment?"

Cilan, Ash, and Iris each said "Sure" and followed Susan out of the room, keeping their Pokémon with them. Iris closed the door behind everyone, with Axew waving a temporary goodbye.

***

"I wonder what that's about?" Dawn said after a brief silence.

"Don't know," I answered, sighing, eyeing the ceiling. "I...I'm just glad those Starly came when they did."

"Me too," said Dawn, turning to the flock. "Who knows what would've happened if they didn't..."

"But..." I paused, thinking back, eyeing the horde of Starly. "That...'Shiny' Ariados..." I faced Dawn and asked: "What was the attack it used on you?"

Dawn turned back to me and answered, glancing upward: "I think it was---right, 'Night Shade.'"

"Well, I should've attacked those Ariados the moment that Shiny one used Night Shade."

"Attack them!?" Dawn leaned back. She grinned, a hand over her outh, failing to hold back a giggle. "But there were like a dozen of those things!"

"Thirteen."

Dawn rolled her eyes. "Okay, thirteen. But still," she continued, still smiling, "you couldn't handle all thirteen at once!"

I remained quiet, sending Dawn a blank look.

"You couldn't," Dawn continued as her neck rotated subtly right, left eye barely squinting, "r...right?"

I closed my eyes. "No, I could have."

Dawn stayed speechless as Piplup jumped out of her arms, landed on the floor, and hopped onto my bed. Piplup stood beside my left arm and said, with its eyes half-closed, "Pip-lup pip..."

"What, Piplup?" I asked.

"I don't think Piplup...believes you," answered Dawn.

"Well it's true," I said, pulling my right arm out, folding my arms.

"Piplup-piplup!" the penguin shouted, stepping closer.

"Piplup," Dawn said swiftly, grabbing the penguin and pulling it toward her, "stop!" She rotated the penguin to face her and continued. "You remember who Timothy...is. If he says he could have handled those Ariados then he's probably right."

Piplup turned its head left and away from Dawn, defiantly stating, "Lup!"

Dawn frowned and looked toward me. "Sorry about that. Piplup's usually not like this."

"It's fine," I told her, half-smiling.

She faced her Pokémon again and grinned, eyes craftily peering. "Oh...I see. You're jealous that he could have stopped those Ariados and you couldn't."

"Pip-lup lup!" the penguin yelled, closing its eyes.

"No," Dawn laughed, "you forget that I've been able to read you like a book since day one. Now please, apologize."

Piplup turned its head all the way to the right and folded its flippers, refusing to speak.

"Piplup!" Dawn scolded. "Say you're sorry!"

Piplup opened its beak wide and protested: "Luuup!"

"Come on Piplup!" Dawn snapped, hands on her hips. "Please?"

"Don't worry about it," I laughed. "It's fine, really."

Dawn sighed. "Sorry. See, Piplup has this thing with trying to protect me, and I guess he doesn't like the idea of something being better than him, especially if it's only a person and not a Pokémon."

I nodded, looking at the back of Piplup's head. "I see. Well if that's the reason, Piplup, you should be happy that there's someone to back you up if you're defeated by something stronger than you."

"Piplup?" asked the Pokémon. Dawn turned him around so he could face me.

"If that happens," I went on, "I'll make sure Dawn and everyone are safe. Count on it."

Piplup paused and said, somewhat more calmly, "Pip...lup pip."

Grinning partially to the penguin, I returned my focus to Dawn. "But still, if I had attacked those Ariados early on then maybe they would have gone for me and not you, and I wouldn't have had to block those Hyper Beams. Then I would've stopped them all."

"Little confident there aren't you?"

I wanted to laugh, as none of my friends here truly knew what I was capable of, though my skills scared me speechless.

"Well..." Dawn held her left arm with her right hand for a moment, lowering her eyebrows, mouth, and overall complexion. "Ash and Iris...they...kind of feel that you...maybe...went to far with that one Ariados."

I leaned back. "They do?!"

"Mm-hmm," she hummed, nodding slowly.

"But I..." I glanced over at the horde of Starly along the floor. "I was just..."

"But wait," Dawn spoke up, "I don't feel the same way. It's too bad you had to hit that Ariados and all, but you were just protecting me -- and, well, everyone. And the Ariados were the ones who started it all. They attacked first."

"Right. And it's not like I hurt it that badly. I only did what I had to."

"Exactly!"

"So why are they upset then?" I eyed the bird sitting next to me. "Those Starly did a whole lot more to those Ariados than I did!"

Dawn sighed, eyes shut. "They somehow think it's different for a person to attack a Pokémon instead of a Pokémon attacking a Pokémon." Dawn stepped forward a bit and continued, slightly tightening her grip on Piplup. "Not that it matters -- the result is the same. I don't get why they feel like that either. It makes no sense."

"Yeah..." I waited for Dawn to speak; a short time later, I continued: "But...thanks for not feeling that way."

Dawn smiled. "You saved me...and everyone. How could I be angry about that?"

"Heh," I grinned, "right. Oh, uhh..."

"What is it?"

"Don't tell Ash and Iris what I...'could have done.' I don't think they'd like that."

"No need to worry," Dawn cheerfully chimed, eyes closed. "I won't."

"Good, thanks."

"You know," Dawn said and stepped further forward, nearly making contact with the bed, "I never got to ask you this before, but...how are you feeling?"

"F...fine," I answered, yawning. "Just a little drained is all."

"O...kay," Dawn said, yawning as well. "Great."

"Still..." I placed my fingers on my chin. "I don't get why I passed out. Those Hyper Beams were powerful, but they weren't THAT powerful."

Dawn leaned back. "You don't remember? You were Poisoned."

"POISONED!?" I frantically darted my eyes left and right, turning my head with them. "W---we're not talkin'...cyanide-type poisoning, are we?"

Dawn paused, blinked, and grinned, eyes closed. "Oh---no, not that kind of poisoning. You were Poisoned by that Sludge Bomb you got hit by."

"The Sludge---oh!" I bent forward, eyes focused on my bed, laughing, sighing, calming my nerves. "Right, one of the 'Status Conditions!' I read about those when I was looking into Pokémon Types a week or so ago. You're talking about the 'Pokémon kind' of poisoning. But..." Facing Dawn, I continued. "I didn't know that could happen to people."

"It does," Dawn said plainly, "and it usually makes people faint like you did."

"I see." I eyed the door blocking the room's entrance for a few seconds and raised an eyebrow. "What could they possibly be talking about for so long?"

"No clue," answered Dawn, having rotated her face toward the door. "Must be something important..." While I faced the door, she glanced at me, smiling on.

***

We waited quietly a few moments, as if our silence would return the others to the room. Receiving no company, Dawn spoke up: "I don't think you realize how great of a situation you're in right now."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

She smiled. "Look down, at your side."

I eyed the Starly next to me. "Yeah, it's that leader Starly. So?"

"So!?" Dawn giggled. "It's a Starly! The very same Pokémon you've been wanting to catch! The whole reason we left the Day Care in the first place!"

"Oh, heh," I laughed, "right. But...I don't really know how to catch a Pokémon."

"Well, usually what you do is battle it with another Pokémon to weaken it, get out a Poké Ball -- and make sure to make it bigger -- and then throw it. Once the Ball hits the Pokémon, the Pokémon will go inside, and if you weakened it enough, it'll stay there. Otherwise, you'll have to battle it some more."

"Well that doesn't sound so bad."

"It's harder than you think," Dawn laughed. "Trust me."

"Okay," I said, turning to the Starly, "well---"

"Although," Dawn cut in, "sometimes Pokémon will come with you willingly."

"Really?" I asked, returning to Dawn.

"Mm-hmm," she nodded, smiling.

"If Starly were to...do that...What should I...say?"

"Just ask if it wants to come with you."

"Uhh," I said blankly, "okay..." Reaching under the blankets, placing my left hand in my left pocket, I retrieved an empty Poké Ball and plucked it from the covers. My index finger tapped the white button, more than doubling the Ball's size. I suspended the Ball a foot from the Starly, rotating the red-and-white sphere so the button faced the bird.

"So," I said to the Starly as it stared at the Poké Ball, "do you...want to come with me?"

The Starly gazed at the ceiling, eyes gradually sliding around without any particular pattern, quietly saying: "Star...ly..." Fixating on me, Starly nodded moments later, firmly stating: "Star."

"So..." I said plainly, "is that a...yes?"

"Star-ly!" the bird answered heartily, eyes closed.

"Great," said Dawn, leaning forward. "Now all Starly has to do is touch that button."

Starly stretched its right wing toward the device, stepping forward. Just before the Starly made contact, I retracted the Ball immediately, saying: "But wait. Starly, you're the leader of all these other ones. What happens if you leave with me? What will they do?"

The leader Starly promptly turned to its right, faced the crowd of numerous Starly, and proclaimed, with its left wing raised: "Star-ly-ly star-ly! Starrr...lyyy!"

All the Starly roared with seemingly random bits of their names, lifting their left wings, continuing to shout their names for a few moments. The head Starly nodded, placing its left wing on its chest, returning to me.

Dawn smiled. "I think they'll be just fine."

"Mm-hmm," I answered, grinning. "I'd say so." I faced the leader Starly, patting it with my right hand. "I guess it's fine then, right?"

The Starly nodded once more, blinking leisurely. Its right wing extended as the bird's talons gently clawed forward, barely perforating the top blanket. Once in range, the wing hastily clicked the button, opening the lightweight sphere. The Ball spewed red light, cloaking the bird in crimson, morphing the Starly into a silhouette of infrared-like energy. The light retreated, claiming Starly as its own, calling the Starly into its new home. Still lying in my hand, the Ball closed and rocked sideways a few times, soothing, comforting, warming the Starly with every motion, the sphere's button facing me often.

"Thip-tong!” the Poké Ball sang, shooting bright, multi-colored, confetti-like stars from its clickable center, ceasing all movement. The stars faded a second later, made only of light.

I eyed the Poké Ball, silently anticipating further movement, finding none whatsoever.

"That's it," said Dawn, noticing my suspense.

"You mean..."

"Uh-huh," she smiled.

I gazed at the Poké Ball, gripping it slightly tighter, uttering only: "Huh." I managed after a brief, calm moment to continue, saying: "That...that's...interesting."

"I know how you feel," Dawn grinned, brimming with peaceful bliss. "It's hard to describe catching your first Pokémon, or any Pokémon for that matter. But..." she paused, glancing away. "You're nothing like Ash."

"What do you mean?" I asked, reaching under the covers, stowing the Poké Ball in my right pocket.

"Well...he gets really excited over things like this." Still holding Piplup safely in place, she drew her right index finger and thumb close together. "Maybe a bit...too much."

"Heh," I grinned, "sounds about right."

"Yeah, if he knew you'd just caught a Pokémon, he'd come bursting through that door right now."

Dawn turned around, a sudden creaking disturbing the air. She moved toward my back-left bedpost, letting me see past her; the door opened, and in strolled Ash, followed by Iris and Cilan, all three with a curious grin. Susan stepped in a second later, facing me, hands hidden behind her.

Dawn and I glanced at each other, smiled, and laughed, unable to resist.

"Nice timing," I said to her, still laughing.

"Yeah," she said, brought to a giggle, "right."

"What're ya talkin' about?" Ash asked, an eyebrow raised.

"Oh," Dawn answered, eyes closed, "it's nothing." Piplup waved a flipper, stating its name slowly.

"So Timothy," Susan said, calmly stepping past a few Starly, "you were the one who saved everyone from those awful Ariados?"

"No, no," I told her, shaking my head, "it wasn't me. I only stopped a few of them -- those Starly did the rest."

"But you still risked your life to protect everyone. That much I know."

"I...guess so." I frowned partially, eyes lowering, thinking of what I could have done if I had tried.

"And you would do it again if necessary, correct?"

"Well, y...yes, of course I would."

"That's all I needed to hear." Eyes closed, Susan smiled, her wrinkled face adding to her relaxed self. She continued: "Cilan?"

Cilan reached behind Susan with both hands, meandered through a cluster of Starly, and promptly presented me with a peculiar object: a cylindrical, glass case just over a foot tall with a red, plastic lid and a white, circular bottom; the case and its lid were half a foot in diameter. Inside the case sat an egg-like object on a fuzzy, blue blanket. The cloth swaddled the egg-like thing, firmly yet gently cradling it in place.
The eggish figure boasted light blue as its main color, with well over a dozen white, two-inch-wide splotches randomly positioned all around the object. An inch-wide band of yellow stretched around the egg's middle, splitting through some of the white spots.

"Because of your bravery and how you helped scare off those Ariados," Susan said as Cilan held the case out in front, "I'd like to give you this Egg."

My eyes widened; I glanced at Dawn, thinking of the Starly I had just caught, and faced Susan, who stood behind Cilan to his right. "But...wait," I continued, "those Starly did most of the saving. I don't deserve this."

"No," said Susan, "my husband and I agree. We've been told by your friends Ash and Iris everything that happened, including how you reacted when someone was in danger. We both agree -- you do deserve this, most definitely."

"But...I couldn't just take an Egg from you like that."

"You aren't taking it -- we are giving it to you."

"But you could lose money from this, right?"

"No," Susan laughed briefly, smiling softly. "Trainers leave their Pokémon here all the time, and often times, their Pokémon leave Eggs behind. Some Trainers take the Eggs with them when they return, while others leave the Eggs here. Those Eggs...we have plenty of them, and they are what we sell. Believe me," Susan grinned, "if it wasn't a 'business-savvy' decision, my husband wouldn't agree to it."

I grinned briefly at the two's sense of capitalism and went on. "I...I still don't think---"

"The only thing you are 'taking' here is...'taking care' of the Egg for us."

Amused, I smiled halfway, yet soon went back to frowning and looked away. "Well..." I paused, unsure if I should be polite and accept the gift or be honest and reaffirm that I essentially did nothing. I caught a glimpse of Dawn; she glanced at the Egg, focused back on me, and nodded.

Due to everyone's open smile and Dawn's quiet approval, I answered Susan: "I guess...I'll take it if you really want me to."

"That's great," said Susan.

I received the case from Cilan and held it on my blanketed lap. "Thanks," I said to
Susan. "I'm not sure what to say."

"Don't say anything then," Susan smiled. "I'm just grateful you all are alright. Just please take good care of the Egg."

I glanced the Egg, thinking of my Pokémon-adept friends. "I will."

"Good. Now listen, I have some things to take care of, so you all enjoy your stay for the night. If you get up before I do in the morning, go on and show yourselves out."

Everyone affirmed they understood, and Susan left a moment later, once again closing the door behind her.

***

A good ten or so seconds ticked by. Re-positioning myself to cope with having sat in one spot for too long, I relaxed, laying my back against the overly-soft, white pillow, the Egg and its case now on the blankets where my stomach would be. Placing a hand along the rim of the lid, I ended the silence: "So...how long do these Eggs take to hatch?"

"It depends on when the Egg was obtained," Cilan answered, "as well as what Pokémon is inside."

"Did Susan ever say what was inside?" I asked, eyeing the Egg.

"She doesn't know," Ash said.

"She told us to tell you that you'll just have to find out," Iris added.

"Oh," I sighed, staring down at the Egg, "suspense. Great..."

"But that's the best part!" exclaimed Ash, stepping forward with his hands and arms spread far apart. "You never know what it could be!"

"I guess you're right," I responded, almost smiling. "But...how long will it take to hatch?"

Cilan replied, eyeing the rugged sphere, "If it was just obtained, it could take as long as a month. But most Eggs hatch within a week or two."

"Hmm," I hummed, "that's not so bad." After a quick pause, I frowned and continued: "I guess I'll have to carry it 'til then."

"We could take turns holding it," said Dawn. "I think all of us have cared for an Egg at some point by now, except maybe Iris."

"Yeah," Iris said, facing Dawn, "you're right. I haven't dealt with any Eggs yet." Iris turned to me. "But I wouldn't mind holding yours though."

"We all could," Ash agreed, his Pikachu affirming its name afterward.

Cilan nodded, confirming his part in it.

I thought on it for a moment. Everyone seemed to genuinely want to take turns with the Egg. I wasn't sure if everyone's desire to assist with the Egg was born from their love of Pokémon or derived from regretting what happened to me. I then remembered Ash and Iris's disapproval of my reaction to those Ariados and assumed the latter reason inapplicable. To me, the only person who would help with the Egg strictly to return my favor was Dawn. Cilan might have felt the same, though I remained unsure, and I consequently asked, posing the question to everyone: "Just curious, but...what exactly do you all think about...what happened with those Ariados earlier."

"Those Starly were awesome!" answered an ecstatic Ash, his right fist tightened. "I've never seen wild Pokémon work together like that before!"

I breathed deeply, mouth closed. "No, I mean...about what I did."

"Well..." Ash paused. "That was great, too! You took those Hyper Beams like they were nothing!"

"Huh?" I blinked, lost in confusion. I glanced over at Dawn and returned to Ash. "But...you and Iris thought I did to much to those Ariados. Right?"

Both Ash and Iris stiffened, unable to move.

Iris shrugged and quietly answered. "We...did feel that way."

"But," Ash added, "Cilan and and Dawn made a good point: you wouldn't have hurt them if they didn't attack first."

I squinted, subtly shaking my head. "Well, yeah. I wouldn't do anything like that unless I needed to, and I definitely did."

"We know," Iris concluded, "or at least, we do now."

Cilan stepped forward. "Don't take it to mean they didn't realize you were just helping out," he told me. "Ash and Iris just thought you went too far."

"Too far!?" I held my tongue, reminded of their Poké-infused culture. Aiming to avoid an argument that I'd likely lose, I continued: "Well...I guess I could have found a way to stop those things differently."

"Yeah," Iris snapped, "someone like you should have more control."

My teeth gritted and bit both my lip and tongue. Fire swirled around inside, the tempest nearly lighting my hand. Who was she to say I had no self-control? While I didn't expect to be killed by protecting Dawn, I certainly didn't think it would feel good. The one time I ignored my fear of my abilities, and this was the result -- the response I should have seen coming. I fought to say something to end the conversation, yet couldn't, and remained silent by default. Arguing would only make things worse.

Dawn spoke up, shifting her arms up and down, having held Piplup in the same spot for too long: "I have an idea." She faced me. "Why don't you show everyone what we were talking about before they came in?"

"Oh yeah!" I proclaimed, reaching under my blankets and sliding my hand into the right pocket. I breathed slowly, glad to have an opportunity to change the subject. "Here." I pulled out Starly's Poké Ball and tapped the button, increasing the Ball's size. "I---oh, that's right!" I snuck my left hand through and removed another Poké Ball. "Snivy hasn't seen this either!"

I placed both Poké Balls on the bed and gradually handed the Egg's container to Cilan, who then laid it carefully on the floor. After unshrinking Snivy's capsule, I tossed it upward. "Come on out," I said, suddenly giddy over getting to see Snivy, having forgotten of the previous dispute. Bright light replaced the stomach-based area where the Egg had been, soon forming Snivy's bipedal yet serpentine shape. The glow dimmed; Snivy turned around and blinked, staring blankly.

The grassy snake flinched. "Vy-vy-vy Sni!?" it said swiftly, treading toward me. Its tail drooped, its eyes sank, and its legs bent in to let itself lay on the sheets where my chest was. Snivy asked again: "Vy-vy-vy Sni?"

I tilted my head. "What is it?" I asked, and quickly continued. "Are you...could you..." I faced Cilan, asking, "Can Pokémon hear what's going on outside when they're in their Poké Balls?"

"They can," Cilan answered, "and usually pretty well."

I returned to Snivy. "Then...you must've heard what---oh, you're wanting to know if I'm alright?"

Snivy nodded.

"Oh. Well, don't worry, I'm fine." I laughed, trying to prove my well-being.

Snivy stood up and slid off me, stopping at my side, folding its arms, and sighed, "Vyy."

"Listen," I grinned, amused by Snivy's way of showing relief, "I have something to show you. See this?" I held up a Poké Ball in my right hand. "And all those Starly over there?"

Snivy turned, glanced down, and gasped, "Sni-vy!?"

I went on. "They helped stop what you heard earlier. Those Starly saved us, Snivy, and this..." I moved the Ball closer. "This is their leader."

Everyone but Dawn gasped, instinctively stepping forward. "You mean," Ash said, "you caught..."

I nodded, throwing the Ball up. "Mm-hmm. Sure did."

The capsule opened, poured white light left of me, closed, and fell back into my palm. "Snivy," I said as the glow faded, "this is their leader -- a Starly. And Starly?" I faced the bird. "This is Snivy, my first and...currently...only Pokémon besides you."

Starly held its right wing out, blinking, peacefully stating, "Star-ly star."

Snivy, tightening its folded arms, glared at the bird for a moment, eyes fixated on the outstretched wing. Snivy leaned forward, now focused on Starly itself. "Snnniiii..." it growled, stepping forward. Flailing its arms erratically, the leafy snake yelled: "Sni-sni vy vy sni-vy-vy!"

"Star-ly?" the bird responded, innocently tilting its head.

"Sni-sni vy vy SNI-VY!" Snivy remarked, squeezing its tiny fingers into a fist.

Starly retracted its wing, bringing it to its chest. "Star-ly star!?" it said, practically gasping.

"Uhh..." I said blankly, blinking. "What's...going on?"

"Sni-sni-sni VY!" Snivy went on, waving its fist. " Vy vy vy-SNI!"

The bird's eyes widened as it took a step back. Starly then stepped forward and waved its left wing, shouting, "Star-ly starly-star! Starrrrrly!" All the Starly on the floor proclaimed that last elongated version of their name, piercing their view of Snivy with squinted eyes.

Snivy simply rolled its eyes at the flock and kept going. "Sni-vy-vy SNI-vy!"

"Whoa whoa," I cut in, placing both hands between the two, "Snivy, Starly helped us. The way things went, Starly and its flock are the reason we're all fine. There's no need to---"

"Sni-VY!" Snivy scolded, still facing Starly. "Vy-Sni-VY!"

"Snivy!" I snapped, "Stop! What's wrong?"

Turning swiftly to me, tapping its chest, Snivy answered: "Sni-vy-vy Sni! Snivy!"

"I'm...not following," I told it. "I don't..."

"It seems almost as if," Cilan said, a hand caressing his chin, "as if Snivy is---"

"Jealous," I stated at once, carefully examining Snivy's tightened fist. "Snivy's jealous."

"That's...it," Cilan said, removing his hand. "Exactly. How did you---"

"Snivy, listen," I began, aiming to end the conflict. "Are you worried about being replaced? Like Starly is more important than you?"

Snivy shut its eyes, saying, "Vy!", facing away abruptly.

"Yep," I grinned, "thought so."

"How do you know?" asked Ash.

"Yeah," Iris added, "you don't usually pick up on things like that, not with Pokémon anyway."

"Because," I answered, still eyeing the Grass-type, "it's exactly what animals back home do. Once they get attached to their owner, any new pets seem like a threat. Plus..." I looked up, periodically shifting my focus from Cilan to Ash to Iris. "I wasn't just trained for physical things, and body language is easy to pick up on, even with Pokémon. I guess..." I returned to the two antagonized creatures. "Pokémon must not be too different from people or animals. More of a mix."

Snivy opened its mouth barely, letting out a low, unnerving growl.

"Okay," I nodded, retrieving both Poké Balls from my lap, "I see where this is going. Starly, return." Red light flashed, beamed, and pulled Starly inside the rightward one. "And Snivy..."

Snivy rotated and faced its Trainer, still possessing a vicious glare.

"We'll work this out later. Return." The leftward Ball pulled Snivy in, not wasting any time.

***

Slow-moving air left my mouth as I eyed the window along the right side of the room, the same wall my bed laid against. The window completely lacked light aside from its reflection of the room, confusing me.

"What time is it?" I asked, curiously staring on.

Dawn fumbled with her wristwatch, clicked a button on the side, and said, "Umm...it's about nine-thirty."

"Nine-thirty!?" I leaned back. "How long was I out!?"

"A few hours," said Cilan, eyebrows lowering subtly.

"Hours!?" I retreated further, eyeing the room as my mind processed the answer. I then laughed, reminded of the source of my knock-out. "I'll make sure to watch out for those Sludge Bombs from now on."

Cilan laughed, as did Dawn, Ash, and Iris, seeming to understand my well-being was sincere. "I would guess so," Cilan added.

Still smiling, I watched the Starly flock. Quiet and calm, their feathers gradually swelled and contracted as they breathed peacefully, a result of their leader no longer dealing with my envious Snivy. After some thinking on their situation, I spoke up: "I guess those Starly should leave and go where they want now. They can see that I'm fine and their leader is with me, so they don't need to stay."

Everyone agreed, and began to say goodbye as the birds headed for the door. "Hold on," I said to the flock, "I've got a quicker way out for ya." I threw the covers off and slid to the floor, landing next to my encased Egg. After a quick jog around my bed, I flipped the lock of the window and thrusted the frame up, letting in a gust of slightly-chilled air. "You can just fly out through this window," I stated, turning around.

The birds nodded, succinctly said their name, and scurried past Cilan, Ash, and Iris while Dawn watched. They each hopped to the white windowsill and, two-by-two, spread their wings and flew. I took the liberty of counting them all and found their number was 25, not counting my own.

The last Starly paused after it leaped to the windowsill and turned to me, raising its right wing straight up. I expected it to leave soon, assuming it was just waving goodbye, yet that Starly remained, keeping its wing held high.

Finally it said to me, "Star-ly star," and angled its pupils toward the wing.

"Oh," I responded, "you want me to---" Raising my left arm, I pressed the hand forward as the Starly did the same with its right wing; the hand and wing, fingers and feathers, collided and mended as one for a moment, separating as fast as they met. Starly nodded, turned, and flew off into the dark, its black and white self morphing into gray and then into absolute, invisible mystery.

I paused in motion and expression, deeply considering what just happened. What I knew of Pokémon before meant nothing now.

Pokémon...I couldn't define them. They had seemed to me as merely more advanced animals, creatures of a special breed that could harness nature in ways Real World residents -- people and animals alike -- could never imagine. And yet, they're so simple. Those Ariados attacked presumably because they felt threatened. Those Starly came by because they heard a commotion, and they swooped down for only one purpose -- to save Dawn and the rest of us. Snivy disliked Starly solely out of jealously, an emotion derived from Snivy's attachment to me. In some cases Pokémon act like common animals, yet, like with the Starly, they can exhibit heroism somehow. They're almost human. Clearly, I had a lot to learn, and I intended to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible.

So I suggested we each go to bed. "After all we've been through today," I added, "we could all use some sleep."

For once, no one disagreed or went into conflict. Within the hour, and even before a quarter 'til 10, we were all in bed.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Mon May 04, 2015 9:43 pm
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Location: Sinnoh Route 228
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Chapter 12, Part II (continued):

Chapter 12: show
To Ash's dismay, I had us get up a couple hours early. I wanted to set out toward the next town, Nacrene City, immediately, as the city's Gym was foretold to us by Cilan's brothers to be closing down soon.

We traveled west for three solid days, stopping at a conveniently-placed Pokémon Center every night. Very few people ever walked our path or the opposite direction, and only a few houses bordered the road. Lush greenery defined the parallels of the path we followed. Not a barren place in sight.

Along the way, I periodically brought Snivy and Starly out, cleverly hiding my Egg in my treasure chest on each occasion. The time and place varied, yet my goal remained the same. I desperately spoke to them, focusing mostly on Snivy, trying to reason with the two. Every single time they were called out, Starly would innocently stand there, and Snivy -- within seconds of coming out -- would shout its name in random sequence, wave a fist or two, and march closer to the bird, all while angering Starly and getting the bird's feathers ruffled. Cilan, Ash, Iris, and Dawn each attempted to talk them down, taking turns doing so, and Pikachu, Piplup, and Axew would sometimes step in as well. Nothing worked. The second day of travel, Ash suggested that the upcoming Gym Battle in Nacrene City may give the two respect for each other and potentially end the conflict. I agreed, deciding to continue my efforts yet figuring Ash's idea was the only solution.

A few hours before reaching Nacrene City, I brought the two out one last time, and soon told Snivy that it shouldn't be so furious toward Starly. And then, seeing no other alternative, I suggested that Starly was neither too important nor too unimportant -- that Starly was equally as strong as Snivy.

Snivy's rage...the tension in its slender muscles...its soul-shattering eyes...the soil that appeared to tremble beneath Snivy's legs...I quickly feared Snivy would spontaneously transform into a Fire-type.

I withdrew the two of them at once, barely evading retaliation. Deciding to combat the conflict later, we continued on.

***

Just as it was getting dark, around a half an hour before we reached the city, we came across a massive hill. The hump easily reached a few hundred feet, probably more, and cozily laid across our path, entirely swallowing all of the visible area. Only a few brave trees stood along this mountain of a hill, pointed in whatever direction the lay of the land required. The path, troubled by the relatively steep incline, dimmed in definition, its borders now lacking in solidity.

Just before reaching the peak of the little bump, a bizarre absence of energy rushed down through me, making me stumble and tilt backward, eyes halfway open. I nearly fell, yet Cilan and Ash caught me and held me upright. I held my forehead, dizzied, unsure of which way was up.

"What's wrong?" asked Iris, currently carrying my Egg and its case, standing at my right.

"I don't...know," I answered in a somewhat slurred speech, slurred because I couldn't hear myself right.

I blinked multiple times, shook my head, and soon whatever it was departed, leaving me feeling as if I'd worked hard the whole day. I grunted, eyes shut, shaking my head more, trying to shrug off the exhaustion, yet it remained, causing me to yawn.

"You alright?" asked Dawn.

"Let's just get to the city," I said, annoyed at yet another inexplicable event, stepping out of Cilan and Ash's hold. "I'm fine."

Everyone glanced at each other, each hoping for an answer. Cilan to Ash, Ash to Iris, Iris to Dawn, Dawn to Ash, Ash to Cilan, and so forth, yet no combination confirmed anything to anyone. They soon pressed on, following my lead.

By the time we reached the peak, barely any light remained. The city sat at the end of the hill, perfectly fitting into our view. All of the buildings appeared to have at least two stories, yet the darkness concealed what they were made of. Despite dusk giving way to night, only two buildings appeared lit, one glowing red and the other a light yellow. The red one was positioned toward the center of the town; I assumed it to be the Pokémon Center, and as we strolled down the hill, my eyes confirmed it.

Immediately at the lump's base, two rusty, maroon, metallic poles resembling train tracks lay, stretching straight ahead for hundreds of feet, eventually ending at the town's edge in a vast grove of pine trees. The poles clearly represented the town's southern border as a firm line of trees and shrubbery stood left of the tracks. Cilan, catching my examination of the beams, informed me that they were indeed remnants of past train tracks. Cargo trains used to traverse around the hill a hundred years before. Apparently, after inducing numerous derailings and similar accidents after the tracks were built, the little mountain led to the tracks' closing.

I continued on, choosing to walk between the beams, with the others close by.

A peculiar sight, this town. Numerous 100 foot-wide blocks of buildings all around, yet none were lit despite the nighttime absence of luminosity. Every building -- two to three stories high -- boasted wooden or, occasionally, metallic structuring, yet all of them followed a strictly brown palette. They looked more like old warehouses than homes despite seeming refurbished. A street light perched itself on every corner, though the lamps illuminated nothing. No people walked the streets; only a six-wheeled truck fitted with electronic wiring in its bed testified the existence of civilians, and was parked near one of the street lamps. The red glow persisting behind the front row of buildings led us to the Pokémon Center.

***

The first thing I noticed when we entered the Center was Nurse Joy -- she didn't seem like her usual self (or at least, her relatives). Sitting in a chair behind the right side of the counter, she erratically fiddled with the computer mouse while reading the screen. She seemed tense, unnerved, concerned, her left fingers tapping the desk in quick succession, her eyes staring off to her left as if something would suddenly appear and attack. This one had a brown cross on her hat, matching the town's buildings well.

Joy gasped and furiously slammed the mouse onto the desk, shouting a word I won't repeat. Just as suddenly, she turned, saw the five of us, and drew in another quick breath, rising from her seat.

"Oh," she said, centering her position behind the counter, "I'm so, so sorry." Her cheeks reddened as she continued with a softer tone, trying to calm herself. "I...I didn't know anyone was in here."

"That's...alright," Cilan mumbled. "We...just came here for a room."

"Right," Joy said, sliding a white key card with a Poké Ball symbol on its front forward. "Here you g---wait, there's..." She glanced around, eyeing the group. "There's five of you, so you'll need two rooms. Here." Joy slid another plastic key card that was lying on the desk and continued. "The first one's for room 213, and the other is 214. I assume you'll be separating by gender so...the guys will want 213 since it is made for four and not two."

After Cilan picked up card 213 and gave the other one to Iris, he thanked the nurse, as did the rest of us -- except for me. I still couldn't believe what Joy said. Sure, people from back home said far worse things, yet I never expected anyone nice to do so here, especially one of the Joys. Had it been anyone else, I would have gotten over the act quicker.

"What were you so mad about?" Ash asked.

"Oh..." Joy sighed. "There was a city-wide blackout that happened earlier, and I just got an e-mail that said the electric company won't be able to fix the city's power until at least tomorrow morning. And we barely have enough fuel to run the Pokémon Center's generator to last us through tonight!"

"That's...awful," Iris said slowly, likely still shocked by Joy's vocabulary.

"I just hope they get the electricity working soon enough," the nurse continued, exhaling once more. "We won't be able to take care of any Pokémon without it."

"When did the blackout happen?" I asked, trying to ignore the earlier surprise.

"About a half an hour ago," answered Joy, "around sundown."

My eyes widened -- that was the exact time I suddenly lost energy earlier. I knew it couldn't be a coincidence. Something was amiss.

"Oh," Joy spoke up, canceling my self-reflection, "I didn't get your names."

Cilan uttered an unintelligible syllable yet was cut off by the nurse, who swiftly stated: "Oh, that's right!" She glanced at each of us and respectively stated: "You're Cilan, you're Ash, and you're Iris.

"Uh-huh," Ash replied, "that's us."

"Wow," Joy said, smiling for once. I'm surprised I remember that. But..." Joy went on, glancing back and forth at Dawn and me, "I don't think we've met."

After Dawn and I told Joy our names, the nurse pointed to the back-right hallway that was hidden by a latch-less door. "That leads to your rooms," she stated. "Just go up the stairs around the corner."

"Thank you," Cilan responded, "we'll do that."

Again everyone thanked the nurse (including me), and we left, giving a short wave. Once Ash, Cilan and I entered our room, Ash immediately picked the back-left bed, Cilan selected the back-right, and I chose the front-right, leaving the fourth, front-left bed unattended. Every bed had a twin-sized mattress and brown sheets.

After Dawn and Iris placed their bags in their rooms, they stepped into our room and sat on the front edge of the empty bed, awaiting whatever may come next.

***

"Well that was...different," I said blankly after a brief moment of silence.

"I guess everyone is different in some way," Cilan laughed, shaking his head. "Even Nurse Joys."

"What do you mean?" Ash asked, confused.

"Just forget it," Iris sighed. "You don't need to know."

"Just don't make her mad," Dawn grinned, eyes closed.

"Well," I perked up, reminded of our reason for being in this city, "now would be a good time to go to the Gym."

"You might not be able to," Cilan responded. "That blackout might make it impossible to see the battlefield when you battle the Leader."

"Oh yeah." I paused, debating whether I should go through with it. "Well, let's just go anyway. If anything, we can meet the Gym Leader and set up a challenge with him."

"The Gym Leader's a she though," Iris cut in.

"I'll challenge 'her' then."

"Yeah!" Ash said firmly, forming a fist. "You might as well challenge her! There could still be a way to battle, even tonight!"

"Right," I nodded. "Then we should go."

After around ten minutes of everyone settling in, I wasted no time in leading us out. Everyone left their belongings -- save for the Pokémon that usually stayed outside of their Poké Balls.

***

The Nacrene Gym's exterior gave off a sophisticated presence. Unlike the other buildings in town, it was lit and made of stone. An archway jutting from the front wall greeted us at the entrance, supported by fancy, somewhat flowery pillars, lying below well over a dozen foot-wide windows that clustered near the top of the building.

"This is the Gym," Cilan told me, a hand laid out toward the structure. "And, it also doubles as a museum."

"Huh," I said plainly, "didn't know it was a museum, too. We should take a look around later."

"Yeah," Ash grinned, a fist placed in front, "but first, you've got a battle to do!"

"Right," I nodded as we all continued forward. The entrance's glass doors slid open for us, welcoming the guests.

***

Immediately upon entering, a relatively young man met us with a pseudo-cheery "Welcome!", standing half a dozen feet inside. Donning a black suit, black pants, green collared-shirt, and black-rimmed spectacles, he smiled yet his eyebrows remained lowered, constantly under tension. The tops of the ends of his profoundly-brown dress shoes rose and fell in quick, consistent rhythm, beating along to the tune of his toes.

"The name's Hawes," the man stated, stepping forward gradually, feigning comfort. "I'm sorry, the museum is closed."

I skimmed the area, curious as to the museum's components.

With walls of tan and a brown, wooden roof, the lobby spanned a great distance, easily 50 feet wide and well over twice that in length. Directly ahead stood a roughly seven foot tall object covered in purple cloth, the only visible piece being its stone, rectangular base. As if the concealed object was humanoid, what appeared to be arms stretched the upper cloth outward, still entirely cloaked. Similar structures lined up along the side walls, all shielded in violet and without any visible arms, yet the monstrous object in the center of the room dwarfed the rest.

Something about the purple cloth seemed familiar, yet I spoke up, ignoring the thought: "That's fine. I just---"

Hawes cut in, brimming with relieved joy: "Wait, I remember you all!" As with the town's Nurse Joy, Hawes iterated knowing of Ash, Iris, and Cilan, yet didn't know Dawn and me.

"I'm Timothy," I told him.

"And my name's Dawn," Dawn added quietly, gazing at the numerous clothed figures around, intrigued by the historical environment. She shifted her arms slightly, easing her grip on Piplup.

I continued my statement, saying: "I just wanted to see the Gym Leader."

"What for?" asked Hawes, his eyebrows somehow lowering further.

My own brows sank, confused as I was. "To...ask for a battle."

"Oh!" Hawes sighed, palm on his face. "I'm terribly sorry. You see, at midnight last night...the Nacrene Gym officially gave its Badge rights over to the Aspertia Gym."

My heart sank as it heard the words. "Oh," I said, glancing down, "dang."

Hawes went on. "I'm afraid you won't be able to get a Badge here, even if you do defeat my wife."

"Wife?"

"Right," he nodded, "my wife, Lenora -- the Gym Leader here.

"What's this about a Badge?" a woman asked, appearing from behind the towering statue. Dark skinned, the woman wore an orange-tinted pink apron with red pockets; considerably large, triangular, bluish-green earrings; bluish-green bellbottom-like pants; red low-heeled shoes; and a red and light orange-striped bandanna. Short white sleeves protruded from the apron, though none of the rest of her outfit was visible.

Hawes laughed. "And there she is now. Hello Dear."

Lenora grinned at Hawes, observed the guests, and said, with an even bigger grin: "Oh, Ash, Cilan, and Iris! You're back! And..." She noticed Dawn and me. "Who's this?"

Hawes pointed to the both of us, saying, respectively, "Timothy, and Dawn. And uhh...T---" Hawes faced me, continuing. "What's your last name?"

"Stevens," I told him, reminded of how the previous group of Gym Leaders asked for my last name. "Timothy Stevens."

"Well Mr. Stevens here..." Hawes gulped. "Umm...wanted to battle."

Lenora gasped, a hand near her open mouth. "Hawes, did you..."

"I told him."

"Well I'm sorry about that, Timothy."

"It's fine," I assured her. "Really. I can just go to the next town with a Gym."

"Well," Lenora grinned, hands on her hips, "that's some smart thinking. The closest Gym from here is Burgh's Gym in Castelia City. Once you cut through Pinwheel Forest -- west from here, you'll find a bridge that'll take you there."

"Okay, thanks."

Cilan perked up, pounding his right fist into his left palm, and stepped up to my right side, saying, "I have an idea: even though you won't get a Badge from Lenora, you could still battle her!"

My left index finger and thumb laid themselves on my chin as I considered the offer, glancing upward. "Well...it would give me and my Pokémon some experience...so...sure!" I removed the hand from my face. "That could work."

Lenora grinned, humming. "Hmm...alright. But we'll have to wait until this blackout business stops."

Hawes gestured toward the ceiling, pointing mainly to the rectangular light fixtures. "You see, until this power outage ends, the museum is functioning as a backup shelter for the Pokémon Center, and we're focusing all of our generators' electricity toward that goal."

"And," Lenora added, "because of that, the battlefield underneath the museum can't be lit until the city is back on. The temperature is supposed to drop pretty low tonight, which adds to the museum's importance as a fail safe."

"I see," I nodded. "I can wait, then."

"Good," Lenora smiled. "Glad to see you have a level head."

"What caused the blackout?" Dawn asked, still staring at the various violet-clothed figures around. Piplup seemed captivated by the surroundings, as it didn't hardly pay attention to anything but the museum's disguised displays.

"No one knows," Lenora answered, no longer grinning.

"All we do know," Hawes added, "is that it was some kind of massive power surge."

"A what?" asked Ash, scratching just under his hat.

Without turning around, I answered Ash: "It's when a lot of electricity either enters the electrical system too quickly or is taken out too quickly."

"Exactly," Hawes nodded. "The city's power grid wasn't able to handle whatever the cause was and so the circuit was overloaded."

"And all of the street lights blew," Lenora stated, shaking her head, staring at the floor.

"Wait," Cilan said, stepping forward. "By 'blew,' do you mean 'blew out,' or..."

"They blew up," Hawes replied. "Completely exploded, sending glass all around them. And much of the city's lighting in buildings did the same."

"Well that really is weird," I responded blankly, thinking of how such a thing could happen yet coming up with no answer.

"And..." Hawes paused, closing his eyes. "The museum is the only building in town that didn't have its lights blown."

"What?" Iris said, nearly shouting.

"They still didn't work," said a quieter Hawes, "but the lights were otherwise fine. We didn't need to replace them like the Pokémon Center had to."

For a short time, no one spoke. Not a word. I guessed the bizarre power outage was the cause, something that left everyone speechless. The silence in a museum such as this (or any museum, really) would feel fitting for most people, yet troubled me. Museums should be for excitement, not boredom.

"You can come by tomorrow," Lenora said, breaking the monotony.

"For what?" I asked, and immediately continued: "Oh, right. You mean..."

"Yes," she nodded, hands on her hips once more. "A simple exhibition match, from Trainer to Trainer. If the lights don't come back on before then, we'll battle out back."

"Right," I stated, clenching my left fist spontaneously.

"Come by at eight o'clock," Hawes cut in, "and we'll give you all a special tour of the museum -- it doesn't open to the public until nine."

"Alright!" Dawn cheered. "I always wanted to come here!"

"And..." The Leader held her hand near her face, pretending to whisper. "There are some new exhibits we have that I think you all will especially enjoy. They're pretty unique."

"Really?" Dawn asked, shifting forward, eyes widening. "Could you tell us more?"

"You'll have to wait 'til tomorrow," Lenora grinned.

"Oh!" Dawn moaned, blatantly rolling her eyes. "Guess it's a secret then..."

"Sure is," the Leader laughed. "That's why this museum is so great though. We get new exhibits all the time. In fact, our slogan is 'Mystery Loves Company,' so you can't expect much else!"

"Heh," Dawn smiled, eyes shut, "right..."

The phrase Lenora mentioned -- the Gym's slogan -- seemed eerily familiar. In spite of the familiarity (and I must admit, a strange sort of unidentifiable nostalgia), I soon suggested we all leave. I think somehow the motto's "nostalgia" scared me into doing so.

Lenora and Hawes consented, saying goodbye and wishing us a good night's rest as we did the same.

***

Nine o'clock, a few hours after visiting the museum; Iris and Dawn remained for the moment in my room. Everyone began winding down, gradually talking less and occasionally forgetting to move.

Close to nine-thirty, as we each sat at the foot-end of our beds (with Dawn and Iris sitting on the bed opposite of mine), Ash asked: "So you have any plans on how you're going to battle Lenora?"

"Not yet," I answered, turning right.

"I could tell what Type she uses if you want!"

"No," I waved my hand, "that's fine. I'll find out later, when we battle."

"You sure?" Pikachu, saying "Pika?", tilted its head left.

"Yeah." My eyes wandered toward the ceiling, bathroom door, and elsewhere, aimlessly and endlessly focused on nothing.

"Something wrong?" Dawn asked, a genuine yet considerably subtle frown on her face.

"I'm fine," I stated, staring past her. "Let's all just...get some sleep."

"Didn't see that coming," Iris said, eyes widening. "You and Ash are usually the last ones to try to sleep."

"Yeah," Ash nodded. "I bet you won't be able to sleep tonight anyway."

Without moving my neck, my eyes faced Ash as I solemnly asked: "Why is that?"

"Well," he grinned, "'cause of the battle you're doing tomorrow! I know it's not a real Gym battle, but you can't tell me you're not fired up for it!" Ash's shouldered yellow mouse lifted a paw, stating swiftly, "Pika-pik-ah!"

Rolling, my pupils returned to Iris and Dawn as I suggested once more that everyone should get some sleep. Sometime later, as I sat there deeply in thought, vibrations bouncing off me, muffled speech eventually reached through: "Uhh, Timothy?"

I turned left, finding Iris and Dawn standing in the doorway. "Oh," I mumbled, "I didn't see you get up."

Iris and Dawn exchanged glances between each other as Cilan and Ash did the same.

"What is it?" I asked blankly.

"We were saying good night," Dawn answered, half-squinting.

"Oh. Good night then."

"You really do need some sleep," Iris remarked, attempting to grin yet failing.

Dawn continued to stare, curious, concerned, eyebrows lowered, blinking half as often as usual. I could sense Cilan and Ash were doing about the same, though it made no difference; I continued in thought.

"We should go," Iris said to Dawn and continued in more of a whisper. "He just needs some sleep."

Dawn, still frowning, eventually managed to say: "O...kay."

Iris rotated, faced away, and stepped a few feet out of the exit as Axew waved. Seconds later, as Dawn examined me one last time, she followed through with Iris's notion, gradually closing the door behind her as she quietly fled.

***

Cilan and Ash had no difficulty falling asleep. They each took a turn in the bathroom, preparing themselves one at a time for snoozing, and once both had their turn, they both crawled into their respective beds and that was that. Me being without pajamas, I flipped the light off and returned to my mattress, dragging the brown covers over top.

I laid there, eyes shut, mind flowing with relays of the day's marathon of events, desperately attempting to figure out possible causes of that random spurt of energy draining I experienced, along with the timely city-wide blackout. At first on my back, I turned minutes later to my right side, and then almost immediately to my left. Every few minutes brought a change in position, be it from side to side, side to back, back to side, side to stomach, stomach to back, or even sitting straight up, all while making sure to keep my eyelids in place to guard against the ever-present glint of moonlight through the window.

Comfort was not my body's motivation.

After pulling out my closed 3DS and whispering "3DS, Mode: Night" to it, I opened it. Only a black pair of screens and a faint digital clock emanated from the device. I returned the system to my pocket, yet periodically retrieved it and checked the time, hoping to be lulled to sleep by the occasional glow. A minute would pass and feel like hours. An hour would pass and give me the false hope of nodding off soon. Short time seemed slow, long time felt fast.

What little I could perceive in the barely lit room hid itself being an unfocused veil of vision. The bed posts swayed slowly to the beat of the air conditioner, waving to me with the utmost cheer, pointing, shaking, appearing to laugh as their mattresses rocked forward. Humanoid figures of the moon's glow skipped on the floor and leaped to the empty bed ahead, displaying a dazzling 18th century-style ballroom dance just for me. I glanced over to Ash and Cilan, and the moment I examined where their faces were, horrific figures with piercing purple eyes and shadows of teeth replaced their images. My mind melted, numbed by the sight, while my heart pounded, banging on my rib cage, begging to get out. One blink later, and all the distortions vanished, revealing Ash and Cilan sound asleep.

I finally dozed off around three o'clock, only to be met with dramatic, dastardly dreams. All I dreamed of consisted of simply this:

Surrounding my mind's eye's foggy atmosphere, numerous somewhat young men and women glared at me. Each wearing black shirts, black masks just for their eyes, blank pants with the men and black, skin-tight skirts for the women, they appeared to boast their uniforms in a remarkably bold way; the red R's on their shirts practically glowed, symbolizing their membership in Team Rocket. Throughout the nightmare, fists, feet, and flames of, seemingly, my own making continuously lashed at the crooks as a persistent furious shout filled my mind. Never had any comparable level of hatred dwelt in me, whether awake or asleep, and never had such a need for revenge simultaneously attacked and satisfied my conscience. A perfect balance of unmeasurable rage and anxiety plus a hint of hope, yet the hope seemed far too distant to ever reach me.

The onslaught would continue until I eventually awoke, yet for now, fought on into infinity.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Mon May 04, 2015 9:45 pm
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Location: Sinnoh Route 228
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Chapter 13: The Experiment

Chapter 13: show
My eyelids stretched, tugged at the seams, pressured to split, and finally snapped open, breaking away from the night's curious glue. Shifting aimlessly around, my arms and legs swiped through the air, slid on where I lay, randomly perusing the area around me, producing a strange clinking with every motion. Finally, I managed to sit up and looked around, searching for my friends.

I froze, finding nothing even remotely close to allies. I was in a brown-walled room that reached no larger than 15 feet on every side; some 10 feet ahead, at the farthest edge of the room, waited silver, metal bars. The bars took up that entire front wall, complete with a thin, rectangular, gray box halfway down the poles and near the left extreme of the barred wall. A lit, white hallway beckoned beyond the bars. The hard, overly solid surface I sat on could not possibly be a bed -- clearly a cold, stone floor from what I could feel. And, strangely, no one was in sight. Not a soul.

I started to stand, and, hearing the clang from before, glanced down at my hands that sat in my lap. A rusty, copper-colored shackle clung onto each wrist, preceded by an equally-tinted chain that reached from each shackle to the floor on either side of me. I tugged and fought with the clinking shackles, yanking them with rapidly-increasing force, only accomplishing obnoxious clanking.

"Gah! What IS this!?" I shouted, pulling even more. Relaxing both my hands, I yelled, "Get...off!", yanking with all my strength. All that did was stretch the chains out straight again.

For half a minute, I jerked and fought the shackles, desperately struggling to escape their grasp. At last I had had enough, and ignited my left hand and consequently the left shackle, proclaiming to anyone that might hear me: "Alright, who put me here!?" I severely increased the flame's intensity, doubling its size as my anger did the same. "I'm breaking outta here!" I exclaimed, fully believing myself, understanding that my captivity strongly resembled prison.

Suddenly a burst of liquid shot from either side of me, originating from a tiny hole in each side wall. The jets blasted both hands with concise, precise aim, extinguishing the mini-inferno with ease, totally preventing me from creating any more fire for a while, cutting off their flow the moment the fire fizzled out.

"What!? Who puts jets of water in a jail cell!?" I turned myself around as best as I could. I couldn't say anything in response.

In the back-left corner, a single, twin-sized bed with snowy white blankets awaited. Next to it, against the direct center of the back wall, a white, porcelain toilet sat firmly fixed into the floor, with a blue wall on either side of it and an open door connected to the left wall. At the far right of the cell, a white, half-sized refrigerator stood. A glance upward showed a security camera perched in the upper left and right corners of the place, both positioned to face the center of the room -- not far past where I was.

I blinked, motionless. "Yyyep. Definitely some kind of jail." Returning to face the front, I stared in absolute ignorance toward the wall beyond the cell. After some thought, I gathered this was anything but a typical prison. No jail I knew of had a cozy bed and a refrigerator -- let alone a toilet with privacy. I thought aloud, after fighting with the ongoing confusion: "This can't be any normal jail cell. But...why am I here!? What did I do!?"

"Hey!" I exclaimed, hoping someone in the hallway or the security room would hear. "Why'd you put me here!? What did I do!? I know there has to be some kind of law in this world against holding me here without me knowing what the charge is! Right?"

No response.

"Is anyone out there!?" Heat conducted into my hand, yet not even an ember could kindle. "Hello!?"

I sighed, shifting my arms forward with the rest of me as far as I could manage, standing somewhat. "Hello!? WHY AM I HERE!?"

A moment of eerie echoing of my speech silenced me. I waited for a response, a whisper, anything to show some sign of company.

Six distinct taps filled the cell, bouncing wickedly in unpredictable manners. After the fifth and sixth clicks, the toes of shoes and the rim of a cap made themselves known along the leftward outside of the bars. Whoever it was simply stood there, as if I wasn't allowed to see him or her.

"Who are you!?" I yelled, pushing forward, making the shackles tremble, growing increasingly impatient. "Let me see you! Who ARE you!?"

The being tilted its head down and marched forward, one step for each foot. Finally, it faced me, retrieved a single metal key from its pocket, and entered the key into the metal box at the bars' leftward center. Sliding the wall of bars to its left, the figure treaded inside, its hat still pointing down to hide the thing's identity.

I remained speechless momentarily, as the person's outfit matched mine to a tee. The grayish-blue jean shorts, the blue T-shirt, the blue-and-white Nike shoes, and even the blue baseball cap with my first initial on its front...everything exactly as my own getup.

"Who..." I paused, swallowing, hatred toward the blatant copy of my outfit welling up in me. "Who are you!? And why are you wearing my clothes!?"

The creature lifted its head up, giving permission to let light in, revealing its face. I gulped deeper, despite a lack of saliva.

Staring me down, smirking with outright confidence, the being in my sight was entirely, completely, in every way, shape, and form possible...

Me.

***

No part of me moved; my whole body refused to. At last my eyes shifted, only able to move up an down to examine the impossible sight. I had no twin, no brother that so strongly resembled me. Nothing of the sort.

The doppelganger stepped forward, smirking prolifically, seeming to want me to know his expression fully. He stated, in my exact voice, with an overly rehearsed sort of tone: "Hello...'Timothy.'"

My lips rebelled, forcing silence.

The guy c*** his head up, sighing with relief, "Ohhh! I'm so glad to finally meet you! It's been only a day and yet it feels like months!"

Breathing heavily, I began mumbling bits of words that perfectly matched my thoughts. "Who---wha---y---I---bu---ju---y---y---y---I---bu---"

The guy rolled his eyes and hastily glared at me. "'Oh---wha---ju---I---bu---he---th---' Be quiet! Okay? Or use your words! Speak!"

I leaned back. "Wha...wha..."

"Wha, wha, whaaat are you doing!?" he shouted, bending down. "I said speak! Not make it worse! One part of one word isn't going to do you anything! Say something intelligent for once!"

I squinted, unsure of what I was facing. "Who...are you?"

"Good, you've still got some sense in you -- I guess. And, good question." The person bent down, still standing on his feet yet while suspending himself low, close to the ground, almost at eye-level with me. "I'm not entirely sure. But I do know this: I am you."

"Wh---what?"

"It's quite the interesting story," he smiled. "See, I am a clone of you."

I stumbled, nearly falling on my back. "But---that's..."

"What?" the supposed carbon copy grinned. "Impossible?"

"Well, yeah!"

"Impossible you say," the guy said, caressing his chin in a sarcastically careful manner. "Impossible..." He quit with his hand and stared, continuing with his eyes half-shut. "This coming from a guy who not even two years ago discovered everything 'fictional' about his childhood actually existed. And can..." He glanced at the ceiling momentarily, sighing. "Oh, I don't know...burn down a building with the flick of his wrist!? And you really think 'cloning' is impossible? That it can't be done!? Are we even related!?"

"Wha---no!" My sight darted from one wall to the next, searching for an answer.

"You're not gonna find a response to me on the walls -- this is a brand new room."

I faced the floor, trying to get a grasp on the conversation.

"Nope, the floor doesn't have it either. Look at me -- I have the answer."

I faced the persistent, smart-alack person, waiting impatiently for his response.

"Good. Now...about that answer..." The guy smacked me at blinding speed, a velocity I barely perceived. "Surprise! We ARE family! So get used to it."

I rubbed the side he slapped, surprised that it hurt that badly. "What'd...you do that for!?"

"Simple," he smirked. "You need to understand something before I go anywhere."

"What?" My hands curled up, forming a fist as I held back.

"That we are not only biologically closer than twins, but...we couldn't be more far apart."

I gave him a blank look, not understanding.

"I am a clone of you, sure. I am you. Yet, despite this..." the clone leaned in, grinning wickedly. "I am nothing like you." The copy stood up straight, looking down on me. "I am a better version of you. Your attributes of combat, your 'abilities' as you call them, I have them all -- but more."

"More?" My eyes widened.

"Yes, more. That's what I said isn't it? And the exact amount more that I have, I am told, is thirty percent. Why thirty? Don't know."

"But..." I blinked, running his statements through my mind. "Someone...had to make you, right?"

"No! Of course not!" the clone grinned, shaking his head. "I made myself! How else could I exist?"

I sat, mumbling without really saying anything, attempting to understand.

The copy sighed. "I didn't 'make myself' -- how could I? That makes about as much sense as the universe making itself. Now listen: I don't just have your 'skills.' I have far more than that."

The clone went on, receiving no response from me. "Evidently, I have exactly six of your attributes -- six sides to your personality. They are, simply, these: Combative, Intelligent, Charismatic, Relaxed, Angry, and just a dash of Evil -- your...'bad side.' And all of them..." The copy grinned. "Are enhanced, each to around that same percentage -- thirty."

"But," I said, pausing, unsure if I should keep the conversation going, "who...made you?"

"Hmm..." He began caressing his chin, glancing upward. "You remember Mewtwo right? That Pokémon that was cloned from Mew? You could play as Mewtwo in one of your old Smash Bros. games and all, but..." The clone folded his arms, staring menacingly. "The same people that made Mewtwo made me."

"That...doesn't tell me anything," I told him, biting my lip.

"I know!" The clone laughed openly, fully intending that I saw and heard his response. "You have access to entire open source databases from not just the Pokémon World, but good ole Real World -- that Earth that has all those Wikipedias dedicated solely to Pokémon -- but why don't you use them!?"

I started to speak, opening my mouth, yet he said, making quotations with his fingers: "Oh, but 'I used the Internet for studying Pokémon Types and Status Conditions!' Yeah," the guy laughed. "That's not going to do you much. There's a lot more behind Pokémon than you realize."

"What...are you?" I asked, hoping to get a simple answer.

"I am many things. I suppose...the most important thing for you to know is this: I am everything you always wanted to be yet couldn't because your 'morals' or 'upbringing' held you back. You've tried so much to be the 'good guy' and now you get to be the other guy -- the 'bad guy' -- through me."

"But...the people that...."

The guy sighed, running his fingers along his forehead, eyes shut. "Team Rocket made me."

"Team Rocket!?" I gasped, a sudden jerk making the chains rattle. "Those three!?"

"What!? No, not those three you fool! The organization that those three work for!"

I blinked. "Oh. Right..."

"Those three can barely make an omelet! You really think they can make an entire organism as complex as the human being?"

"Well I'm sorry I'm not as smart as you," I snapped, practically growling.

"Me too," the clone frowned. "It pains me to have come from your DNA. But, that's just how it is."

Trying to ignore him, I asked, ever-more curious: "Okay...when were you made?"

"Over the course of a while," the clone answered, pacing left and right, "a couple weeks or so I believe. They finished on October 13th."

I gasped; October 13th was yesterday. "Where did they make you?"

"Most of the process was done at their headquarters in Kanto, but the last part occurred yesterday -- at exactly 6:13 P.M. They then sent me from Nacrene City back to their HQ."

"They finished in...Nacrene City!"

"Yes," the clone grinned, "they finalized the process of making me in Nacrene, right as you reached the top of that hill and almost fell over."

I flinched; somehow he knew.

"Right at sundown too," the copy continued. "Exactly at sundown in fact, to the second."

"But...how?" I asked.

"How what?"

"How did they make you?"

"Ahh, that." He sighed, quit pacing, and continued speaking, grinning. "I don't know 'how' they did it. I'll find out soon, but...first..." The clone, tilting his head rightward, licked his bottom lip gradually, intently. "I'm going to have a little talk with your...'friends.'"

"Wait...what kind of 'talk?' Leave them out of this! This has nothing to do with---"

"No, they're a part of this, believe me. They may not have anything to do with 'me,' per sé, but..." He squinted, grinning. "They have everything to do with 'you.' And, besides, I use the term 'friends' lightly."

I blinked twice. "'Lightly?'"

"When I'm done with them, you'll see that they're not really your 'friends' -- not even close." The copy laughed shortly, glaring the whole time. "They're hardly acquaintances."

I rose up, reaching close to him yet quickly restrained by the shackles. "What're you gonna do with them?!" I yelled, pulling on the chains, trying to get closer.

"Oh, calm down. I'm not going to hurt them -- or, well, as long as they don't ask for it. Physically, they'll probably be fine. Mentally, though..." He paused, observing the base of the chains. "Put it this way: When you speak the truth, people don't want to listen -- they'd much rather reject you and move on with their lives." He leaned in, part of his face encased in shadows. "And that's exactly what I'm going to do."

I sat down, somewhat eased by his statement. If that really was his plan -- to be truthful -- then he couldn't do but so much harm, though I still didn't trust him. "What are you gonna say?" I asked abruptly.

"Patience." He snapped his fingers, gesturing behind him. Originally hidden by shade, a black, plasma-screen TV gradually descended from the ceiling close to the metal bars. It hung in place, silently facing us. "This TV," he went on, "is linked with a camera inside the front of my hat. You'll see and hear everything I can."

He turned, headed for the opening, and passed through, sliding the bars shut afterward. "Hope you're comfortable!" he stated, smiling brightly as he locked the door with his key. "That fridge is fully stocked with all your favorite foods, and that bed's mattress is just like your bed back home! And I even had a door installed for that stall." The clone smirked wickedly. "How nice of me."

"Wait!" I shouted, nearly standing yet otherwise restrained. "How do I reach back there? These shackles---"

He sighed heavily, pointing with the key in hand. "Oh for---look, at the chains! Flip the locks and the chains will extend. The true base of those chains is beneath you."

"Oh..." I pulled on the latches one at a time, flipping each open with ease.

"You won't be able to escape that cell," the copy continued. "I spent over a half-hour in here, testing every possible method of escape you can come up with. I have all of your memories up until the point they finished creating me, so I know all your tricks. I even remember the little things that the brain naturally forgets, like opening a door or what you ate for breakfast on a given morning. Oh, and I took away your treasure chest, 3DS, Poké Dex, and Pokémon as well.

"So," he went on, "since you can't do anything to escape this place...when I turn on the video feed, just get out a cold soda and enjoy the show!"

I grunted, toes scraping their soles, and soon quit, asking, looking around: "Where...are we anyway?"

He grinned. "Team Rocket Headquarters of course!"

"Wait, in Kanto!?" My eyes widened, heart stopping.

"Yep -- I'm going to use Professor E. Gadd's Pixelator to teleport myself back to where you were yesterday so I can get there in time for the battle."

"Now then," he said, returning the key to his pocket, "enjoy your stay!" He strolled to his right and my left, raising an arm profoundly with each step, smiling strongly at me the whole way. Within a few short seconds, he was gone.

***

For a moment, I didn't say anything, nor did I want to. This guy, person, thing -- I didn't even know what to call him -- made no sense. How could he, being from my own genes, my own DNA, act like that? I'm sure if he were a normal clone, he and I would have joked about it all the time, claiming we were "seeing double" and other silly things, yet he wanted nothing to do with me. Nothing at all, it seemed.

Though he already answered the question, I still wondered: "Who---what...is he?"

And then there's Team Rocket. Why did they want to clone me? What use could they have for a guy like that? Surely they had a reason. The way the clone talked, the "Team Rocket" I had known weren't comparable to the full-blown organization. They must have a good reason. They had to, or they wouldn't play with nature like that, I would hope.

And then, Mewtwo...I didn't know much about it, though I did know it was powerful. Extremely powerful, if I remembered right. If Team Rocket spent the same time and effort to make the new me as they did with Mewtwo, could they consider me as just as valuable? There was no doubt in my mind that if that clone went along with Team Rocket's wishes, they would get what they asked for. He definitely could do just about any job Team Rocket could think of -- especially if what the clone said about being better than me was true.

I stood up finally and began to turn, thinking of lying in the bed, yet stopped. I eyed the bars ahead, glanced down at the base of the shackles, and grinned. Now that the locks were flipped, the true lowest point of the shackles could add extra distance to my reach.

I darted forward, racing to the only exit, the one way out. Raising a fist behind me, I leaped, focusing on smacking the bars' key hole box. I smiled as I neared the target, finally finding a chance to escape. I reached within half a foot, and with an absurd clink, clang, and clink-clang, the chains stretched out straight, the sudden shift in restraint sending me to my knees.

"The chains aren't long enough!" I growled, glancing behind for a moment. After eyeing the bars and noticing my hands had dried, I kindled the left and chucked two quick yet intensely-blazing fireballs; the flames crackled and crashed into the key hole square, fading on impact. And just as the embers collided into the box, another pair of water streams spouted from either side of me, putting out the fiery hand. The leftover fluid trickled into a circular grate behind the shackles' foundation.

"What!?" I furiously glared around and spotted holes in the wall all over the place. Each of them looked just like the holes that shot out water the first time; apparently, this room came ready for handling my fire from just about every angle.

"Fine!" I returned to the bars and carefully contemplated the situation. I could reach within half a foot or so with my hands. And I realized: "Wait...what about---" My feet were completely free.

"Alright," I grunted, "I'm getting out of here!" With a short shout, I stood, leaped, and thrusted my feet forward while rotating to face the floor, smashing into the lock. Suddenly a fearsome jolt of voltage coursed through me, blasting me through the air, past the base of the chains, smacking my stomach and chest upside-down into the half-open stall door, slamming the door shut at once. I thumped painfully to the floor, face-down. The shackles ground into my wrist upon the landing, drawing a little blood on the underside of both.

I flinched, air seeping through my teeth, and stared at the wrists, leaning away in disbelief.

...I hardly ever bleed.

Pulling down on my right hand's shackle while suspending the hand along the upper rim, I quietly examined the cuff. My eyes widened -- the edge, even after running my left fingers along it -- was completely smooth.

"How---"

"What's going on in here?!" a male voice shouted, coming from outside the cell.

Two people -- neither one much older than me -- stepped in front of the bars, one a guy and one a girl. Both of them boasted dark gray caps with short rims; black, long-sleeved shirts (in the girl's case, with a v-neck); white gloves that reached to their wrists; and a black mask that covered the area around their eyes, wrapping around behind their heads. They stood in a metallic-silver sort of dark gray boots, with the guy's reaching a little past his ankles and the girl's stretching nearly to her knees. The guy wore black pants while the girl had a dark gray, skin-tight, slightly-less-than-fingertip-length skirt, with the both of them also wearing a silver belt with three minimized Poké Balls attached. The guy's solid black hair barely stuck out from under his cap, while the girl's hair -- more of a midnight black -- grazed her shoulders. Both of the people's shirts profoundly flashed a bright red "R" on the front.

"Oh," the guy smirked, folding his arms. "You're trying to escape. I hope you noticed the little 'kick' those bars have."

"I noticed," I answered dryly. "So...you're the main Team Rocket then?"

"'Main?'" the guy frowned. "We're just Team Rocket."

"Oh!" the girl spoke up. "I think he's comparing us to...'those three.'"

"Wait," I laughed, "does everyone just call those three 'those three' around here?"

"Pretty much," the guy sighed. "They're a running joke."

"Jessie, James, and Meowth..." the girl said and paused, eyeing me strangely for a second. "They do have a lot of passion, but...not much else."

I nodded and grunted, standing, remembering where I was at. "Why are you keeping me here though? You already have your clone; what do you need me for?"

"'Cause you're dangerous," the guy answered plainly.

"He's really that dangerous?" the girl asked, glancing at the guy member for a moment. "He doesn't look like much..."

"He is," the guy stated, sighing, tightening his folded arms. "Otherwise he wouldn't be locked up so heavily."

"You sure? He doesn't seem like the type that The Boss would be interested in holding captive."

The male member sighed deeper, shutting his eyes. "See all those puddles of water everywhere?"

The girl bent forward, peering in. "Yeah..."

"He's been sprayed with heat-sensitive water shooters. That means he's used his fire abilities already."

"He can really do that?" the girl gasped, staring at me. "I thought that was just a rumor!"

"Yes," the male member said, exhaling once again. "He can do everything TX-13 can do, just a little less."

Not having moved in a while, I stepped forward, nearing the bars, causing the chains to be suspended in a low curve. "Who's---what's...TX-13?"

"It's the code-name for your clone," the guy answered, "given to him by the 'clever' scientists that made him. The 'T' is from your name of course, though I have no idea what the rest is about."

"Well..." I paused, unimpressed by the clone's name. After monitoring the two for a second, I continued: "Wait...why are you two still here and not somewhere else?"

"We are here so that we can let TX-13 know if you escape," the young man replied. "Not that you could anyway."

"Right..." I eyed the walls to my left and right without turning, reminded of my situation. "Who are you, exactly?"

"I'm Virginia," the girl answered sweetly, "and this..." Her hand gestured toward the male member. "This is Brice."

"I can answer for myself you know," Brice grunted.

"Well you took too long," she moaned. "Besides, you never really care for talking much anyway."

"Whatever," Brice groaned, rolling his eyes.

"Still..." Virginia quietly observed the cell and then specifically the shackles. "I don't see why those handcuffs are necessary. He seems pretty trapped as it is."

"Because those bars wouldn't hold," Brice stated, opening his eyes momentarily to see me.

"And the cuffs will?" Virginia scoffed at Brice, not believing a word.

"They're special shackles," Brice said. "They'll only open or break if caused by another source than the one wearing them."

"Oh..." She returned to me, eyes lowered, somehow appearing sorry for me.

"Yeah," Brice continued, "they're strange, those shackles. Very unusual properties."

I growled faintly, unheard by the two. The thought of how that could be possible never occurred to me. That property would be a problem regardless; I may never get out.

Virginia squinted and turned back to Brice. "Couldn't he just hit those things with either hand? Or slam them on the floor?"

"No," answered Brice as he saw me perk up. "That wouldn't work. Those things literally cannot be broken unless done by someone or something else besides him. TX-13 has tested this himself, and it's true." Brice faced Virginia again and frowned abruptly. "Did you even listen to what TX-13 told us earlier?"

"No," Virginia snapped, curling her bottom lip. "I was too busy getting over that guy's constant insults."

"Whatever," Brice sighed. "You were told before then to expect that rudeness, you know."

"Well---" Virginia threw her fists to her side; I laughed inside, glad to not be alone on this. "What he said was really hurtful! I don't think any of us in Team Rocket are THAT bad! He's so mean!"

"Wait..." I raised an eyebrow. "Team Rocket are 'mean' too. You're all thieves."

"Well we don't act like TX-13 does," Virginia concluded. "We just get the job done."

"More or less," Brice added. "No one here has a perfect record."

I nasally laughed, thinking: "That figures."

"But you're not like him," Virginia said, gradually coming closer to the bars. "You're a lot nicer."

"Nice?" Brice smirked. "You really care about that?"

"Yes," she said after gasping. "Why wouldn't I? People around here aren't downright evil like that TX...whatever he is, but they're not straight-up nice either." Virginia turned to me slowly. "But you are."

I blinked twice, not fully getting what she meant but knowing something wasn't right.

"I wish you weren't locked up like some sort of prisoner," Virginia frowned.

"He is a prisoner," Brice sighed, covering his face with his palm.

"Well he shouldn't be. He's just not someone that should be held captive like this, even if he is who they say he is."

"Virginia." Brice uncovered his hand. "He's not on Team Rocket's side. TX-13 is."

"Well I don't care," she scoffed.

"Don't care!?" Brice abruptly shifted closer to her. "Don't say that! Team Rocket is much more important than this runt!"

"Heh," I thought, "so much for being 'dangerous.'"

"Hey," Virginia scolded, raising and waving her right index finger. "Don't talk about him like that!"

"Why not?" Brice said, vaguely grinning.

"Because unlike other guys here, he's actually nice! I like him!"

I gulped; she couldn't have meant that.

Brice smirked. "You 'like' him huh?"

"Yes! I---" Virginia paused, returning to me. "He looks so uncomfortable."

"He's supposed to be," Brice said, closing his eyes. "That's part of the point of locking him up. You should know that by now."

"Well..." Her eyes rolled around, searching the cell. "Okay...but...I wish you'd give me the key, Brice." Virginia sighed deeply, lowering her hands to her side, curling them away from herself just slightly. She then looked at me real sweetly, innocently, coyly. "I'd love to come in there and make him feel better."

I stepped back.

"And that's exactly why I won't give you the key," said Brice. "TX-13 was spot-on with that."

"Hmpf," Virginia sulked, folding her arms. "Brice, you're no fun."

"I'm not supposed to be 'fun,'" he remarked, refusing to even look at her. "This is serious business."

"Yeah," I grinned, "real serious. So serious that making me uncomfortable means you give me a nice bed and food and basically my own bathroom, all in my 'jail' cell."

Virginia giggled as Brice ignored her. "That was all your clone's idea," Brice grunted. "Not ours, or Team Rocket's."

After the girl continued giggling for a moment, she breathed in deep and then faced me for a second, winked, and turned back to Brice.

I hid my face in my hand, sighing. "Why can't I just leave..."

Suddenly the T.V. clicked on, momentarily blaring old-fashioned static before flashing into a blank white screen.

"Good," Brice smirked. "Now we get to hear what TX-13 has in store for your friends, kid. I've been dying to find out."

With my mouth c*** to the side, I growled, gritting my teeth, and looked up to witness the impending horror. For some reason, Virginia frowned at the idea of "TX-13's" plans.

So did I.

***

The white faded to pastel red, beige, dark gray, and white, soon forming a full shape. Directly ahead on the screen sat a hallway, and at the left extreme, a wrap-around, red, black, and white counter. The view came from the booth closest to the rightward hallway inside the Pokémon Center.

In my tone, a humming persisted that matched the Pokémon Center's musical score. The hummer sang his song cheerfully, following the generally lighthearted pitch perfectly.

Once he finished, he commented peacefully: "Ahh. Isn't that a great tune to start your day? Nice and relaxing, isn't it?" The T.V.'s display turned to face the desk more directly. "You can see that Nurse Joy isn't out yet. And this lobby is entirely empty. So, then, listen to what I say and...if you're standing up, you might want to sit down for this."

I decided to back up and sat down, laying against the foot of the bed, running my fingers along my forehead, preparing for what I was about to see.

"Now then. The time -- since you have no way of knowing at this point -- is now around seven-thirty A.M. Your friends are all still asleep, which is strange considering that Dawn, at least, usually gets up by now. Nevertheless, I am still alone here. So, here's the deal:

"I'm going to continue on with your challenge to this town's former Gym Leader. No one will suspect that I'm anyone different than you -- not at first. Since I have all of your memories, looks, and so-on, no one will know. Not Ash, not Cilan, Iris, Dawn, or your Pokémon."

I grunted; somehow I couldn't help but believe him.

"Although," the clone continued, "there is one big difference that may or -- more than likely -- may not give it away. Unlike you, I have studied up on Pokémon quite a bit. All last night, I spent most of my time memorizing things you've never even heard of. You have no idea about things like the right time to switch out a Pokémon for another, what to do when your opponent uses stat-boosting moves -- and really, you don't even know those moves exist! But I do, and -- despite your team's pathetic lineup of attacks -- I'm ready for it all."

"Ahh," Brice spoke up, facing the back of the T.V. "Looks like he's planning on sweeping Lenora's team. Interesting..."

"Since when have you really cared about Pokémon battles?" Virginia asked hypothetically, folding her arms.

"She's got a point Brice," TX-13 stated.

"What?" I flinched, wondering how the clone heard them.

"I have an earpiece in my right ear that's linked with a microphone in your room, Tim," he answered. "And yes, I know you secretly hate that nickname."

I sighed abruptly; he's definitely right about that.

"After I finish with that quick battle," TX-13 went on, "that will be when things get really interesting. It'll be a lot of fun -- you'll see."

I bit my lip, exhaling deeply. There was nothing I could do but watch.

***

Five minutes ticked by. The clone began tapping his fingers on the table halfway through, and now, checking his invisible wristwatch, no longer tapping, he said: "What's taking them so long?! It's gotta be around eight by now! We should be leaving already...we're supposed to meet Lenora by---oh."

Ash and Cilan appeared, deep in the hallway yet subtly visible.

"There they are," said the clone, clearing his throat afterward.

"You're up awful early," Cilan said as the two entered the lobby.

"Yeah," the impostor said, yawning. I got the feeling the yawn was forced, yet it seemed pretty real. "I wanted to make sure we got to get that tour of the museum," the clone stated, yawning again.

Ash opened wide and answered: "R...right." Pikachu even yawned, nearly slipping off of Ash's shoulder.

"Do you..." Cilan inhaled, yawning, covering his mouth. "Do you have any battle plans for facing Lenora?"

"No," the clone said calmly, "not really. I might give my strategy from my Striaton rematch a try...but I'm not sure."

"Well Lenora's really smart," Ash stated. "She might find a way to get around that."

"I guess," TX-13 said. "But...wait, where're Dawn and Iris?"

"They're still in their rooms," answered Cilan.

"Well, I guess we'll have to wait then."

"Although," Cilan murmured, "they said last night that they'd be up by a quarter 'til, so they shouldn't be too long."

"Right, we can just wait here then."

Both Cilan and Ash seated themselves across from the doppelganger. The three waited patiently, with TX-13 lacking any sign of the opposite.

Dawn and Iris finally strode in at five 'til eight.

"Fashionably late," the clone mumbled -- too quietly for anyone but me to hear.

"Morning guys," Iris chimed, taking in a forced breath.

"Oh...dear," Cilan said, yawning once more. "Don't start that yawning thing again..."

"Too...late," Dawn yawned, shaking her head as she locked her mouth with her hand. "Why is that so contagious..."

"No one knows," the clone said, trailing off. "Not even Mario has ever figured it out."

"Huh," Dawn said, glancing up. "Well if that's the case, we might never find out."

After a unanimous "Hmm..." and a brief silence, the clone spoke up: "So...you all ready to go? To the Gy---museum, I mean?"

"Sure," Iris answered. "We're ready."

"What about breakfast?" Ash frowned, eyeing the cart of food in the center of the lobby.

"I'm hungry too," Dawn said, "but if we want to get that tour of the museum, we need to get to Lenora's by eight. There's not much time left."

"Oh man..." Ash hung his head down as Pikachu sighed in despair.

Cilan laughed, eyes closed. "It shouldn't be much longer than an hour from now that we return."

"You can wait that long," Iris cut in, "right?"

"I guess so," Ash mumbled.

"You'll get to see a Pokémon Battle," Dawn added, bending forward, hands held behind her.

"Oh yeah!" Ash perked up, rising from the table. "Then what are we sitting here for?"

"Yeah," Iris said cheerfully, "let's go!"

Ash, Cilan, and the clone soon got up as Dawn and Iris stepped back to let them out. Everyone left the Center without a second thought, having no clue who was really with them.

Keeping a relatively quick pace, they arrived shortly. The clone, facing the museum's elegantly sophisticated entrance, straightened his hat, his arm blocking my view for a moment.

"Hmph," TX-13 smirked, out of hearing range from the others. "Let's get this done quickly. Lenora's gonna 'get rekt' -- with an R-E-K-T."

I flinched; I'd forgotten about that phrase. "He must really be ready for this," I thought aloud, sighing. I couldn't help but wonder if he was actually as good with Pokémon battling as he said he was.

"Heh," Brice smirked, arms folded. "This ought to be good, even though we can't see what's happening."

Virginia sighed as she glanced at Brice with lowered complexion, blatantly upset over everything.

I grunted, practically growling at Brice as I stared him down, and returned my focus to the screen. Despite my need to escape and my abilities that normally always pulled through for me, there was nothing I could do. That cell I was in seemed built just for me, as if Team Rocket knew of my every weakness.

I could only hope this impostor wouldn't hurt anyone. Hope was all I had left, and with that clone's personality, even wishful thinking was far-fetched.

_________________
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Mains:
SSB4: Pika, Mario, and Yyyoshiii! I also enjoy Captain Falcon Dittos (who doesn't?!)
Pokkén Tournament:
Weavile, Pikachu-Libre, Shadow Mewtwo
Looking forward to playing as the Sandbag in SSF2. Time for some Revenge to be dished out.
~Formerly Goombario64~


Wed Jun 17, 2015 7:02 pm
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