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A Second Chance

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by Writer4fun, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    How's it going? Writer4fun here with "A Second Chance" ready to be put on this site. This is a tale about redemption, adventure, and hurt/comfort. If at any point you want to jump ahead in the story, contact me, comment on it, leave a review, and so on, you're more than welcome to go to FFnet and do so. I have the same username (case sensitive) so you can check this out or any of my other works. Otherwise, enjoy the story on here :)

    Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon.

    Chapter 1: An Umbreon's Beginnings

    The Umbreon I am today is far different that the Eevee I used to be. Ever since I was a tiny Eevee, all I wanted to do was battle. I was hatched from an egg in a day-care ranch in the middle of nowhere along with other Pokémon. The plot of land was very large and included a pond, a large field, and some rocky terrain. My favorite place was a small patch of grass in the far back corner of the ranch away from the commotion when I wasn't in the mood to play. Every Pokémon had one thing in common here: we could not find our parents. It hit every newly hatched Pokémon at some point, but the workers were very kind to us so we thought of them as our parents.

    We were clumsy balls of energy and I was no exception, but I had more energy than the others. As a result, I ended up with the most bandages every week. Eventually the workers would come and round us up at the same times every day; once for lunch and once before dinner and whenever they thought we should go inside. Outside of that, we never really saw them. However, I always wanted to play longer or get into mock battles with the other Pokémon. After my second day of existence, I won my first battle against a Vulpix which gave me the confidence to keep getting stronger. This pattern continued for months until a young trainer approached the ranch. I approached the front gate in hopes of eyeing this new person.

    "So, what do you have here?" the trainer asked with mild curiosity.

    "Well we have some Houndour and Sandshrew by the rocks, Shellder in the pond, and Murkrow usually graze in the large field. We have more too if you're looking for something else" replied one of the workers.

    "Ummm, I'd like to look around and see for myself."

    "I need all of your Poké Balls and trainer ID please."

    "Fair enough. I can see why having Poké Balls on me would cause a problem." He handed over everything as a worker eyed the trainer.

    "Alright...Tom is it? Come back when you've picked one out."

    As soon as I saw the Poké Balls handed over, I felt upset knowing I couldn't battle to show my skills. I still wanted to see what he was doing so I tailed him from a distance. After about half an hour, he finally noticed me but kept going in search of whatever it was he was looking for. He continued to go deeper into the ranch so I left him and went to my spot to sleep. He must have tailed me considering he was near my spot so soon.

    "Wow, you're pretty fast little guy. You beat me here without me noticing you even though I saw you not too long ago" he said with a smile across his face. "I think I've made my decision, but let me show you these first."

    He took out a small case with two shiny things in it and six empty spots. I had never seen badges before but I pawed at the sparkling badges and squealed in joy. How amazing would it be to see those sparkle every day and have a chance to win them all?

    "It's settled, you're coming with me!"

    I hopped up and down until he finally picked me up and went back to the front of the ranch. It was that day when I realized my life was going to change, but not before the trainer and my so called "parents" had a conversation.

    "So I see you found this little guy, huh Tom? He's pretty fast and energetic."

    "Yeah, I'll take him. How much?"

    "Since he's the only Eevee here and Eevee are rare in general, it'll be 10,000P."

    "Are you kidding me?! All I have is two badges and 11,500P to my name."

    After a stare down that lasted too long, I looked up at Tom and pleaded with puppy dog eyes. He sighed, smiled, rubbed my head, paid the man, collected his things from the worker, and left with me in hand. I soon realized that something was off about what just happened.

    Me, a little Eevee, was sold without a battle and that made me upset. All that love was for nothing except money. Was any of it even genuine? They really didn't care about me; they just kept me healthy enough to sell. I resented everything at that moment in time and I headbutted Tom while trying to jump away but my new master saw the anger and sadness in my eyes and comforted me. He said that he was going to battle his way to the top with me on the team as he pulled out the case yet again. I stopped attacking him and cried with tears of joy at that statement and soon fell asleep in Tom's arms. He rubbed my head and carried me down the dirt road, favoring me in his arms instead of my Poké Ball on his belt.

    The road to the top was going to be a long and apparently lonely one. A Quilava was the only other Pokémon my master owned but it did get him two badges. We trained for about a week until we reached a very large city. Despite me being in my ball, all of the people walking around scared me. I knew that I'd have to get used to people now that I was travelling. My master was all too eager to get the next badge and went straight for the gym despite it getting dark. After we walked in and got near the battlefield, he released us from our balls and gave us a pep talk.

    "Alright guys, this is the Goldenrod City gym. The third badge is right here, we have to take it right here, right now!"

    We both nodded and gave our best battle cries. Mine was quieter due to the nerves but I managed to snap out of it and get ready for the fight. After our speech, a girl in a white shirt and white shorts stepped into the other trainer's box. She was very polite despite the late start time; the sun had finally set outside.

    "Welcome to my gym! I'm Whitney and I specialize in the normal type. This will be a two on two battle for the Plain Badge. Are you ready?" She was so excited as she threw a ball onto the field.

    A ball of light emerged from her side of the field and a Clefairy was ready to go. My master was very focused on the pink ball and turned to me, then back to the judge.

    "I choose Eevee."

    The confidence in his voice was reassuring. All five of us stood in silence while we all collected our thoughts until the judge declared the battle to start. The flags went up and I went into my zone; I didn't even hear Whitney call out the first attack.
    A wag of the fingers from Clefairy meant that her metronome was up to something devious and when the fingers stopped, I was hit with a Tackle attack; it hardly left a mark.

    "Quick Attack!"


    The moves were fast paced but Clefairy was missing while I rammed into it. It wailed in pain while taking another metronome command from Whitney. This time, Clefairy jumped extremely high and its foot glowed, earning a grin from the gym leader.

    "Dodge with Quick Attack!" Tom quickly said with a worried tone.

    It was already slow enough and I knew it wasn't going to hit me yet I dodged anyway. The sound that followed was not pretty. The force of the High Jump Kick miss caused the Clefairy to crash to the ground, breaking its knee or even the whole leg and faint from the impact. After a look by the judge, he made his decision.

    "Clefairy is unable to battle, Eevee is the winner!" the judge said raising the flag
    With a fist pump, Tom was feeling the match was over. But that changed in a hurry as Whitney threw out her trump card.

    "Miltank, you're up!" Whitney said in a happy tone. It almost sounded too happy.

    Whitney was smiling even wider than a normal person should. I guessed that she expected to knock me out in one hit but no, I was going to win. Tom gave me a thumbs up for support and I nodded in reply. The judge surveyed the field and declared that the second battle could begin.

    "Alright Miltank, Body Slam!"

    "Dodge with Quick Attack!"

    That cow could move! It jumped and braced for impact with either me or the ground but I dodged just in time. Beating this thing was going to be a tough task.

    "Rollout, let's go!"

    Tom had no chance to order a counter and I was hit with a solid impact. I tried to get up but to no avail and it swung around for a second Rollout hit and like that, I was knocked out.

    A flag went up in the corner of my eye. "Eevee is unable to battle. Miltank is the winner!"

    I whimpered on the field and was called into my ball. However, I was let back out and was met with Tom's face in a matter of seconds.

    "It's okay Eevee, just watch Quilava and you'll learn. Battling is never easy... especially when you've never battled against other trainers." His voice was so calming to the point where I stopped crying and placed myself in a good spot to watch the final battle. "Quilava, let's go!" It just looked so confident standing out there on the field but Whitney was just as hungry to win. I watched Tom go from caring to intense in a fraction of a second to match her determination. The judge reset himself and raised the flags for round three. "Smokescreen and hurry!" A black smoke covered the whole surface and the Miltank lost its momentum as well as its target. Whitney remained calm and took a deep breath. It amazed me how something could change the battle in an instant and she could remain perfectly calm. Maybe, just maybe I need that aspect to my fighting.

    "Jump and use Body Slam Miltank!"

    I saw the cow jump higher than before and was aiming for my teammate but without a command, an Ember attack flew from the thick smoke and put the cow off target and even burned it. A Rollout attack followed, clearing the smoke and nailing Quilava for some hefty damage yet Tom didn't panic under pressure. In fact, Tom remained silent and let Quilava fight with no commands. I was witnessing pure harmony but I didn't fully understand how it was happening. I decided this is how I want to battle. Yes, commands are important but there seems to be some type of freedom when going with your gut.

    That burn put on by Ember was too much over the course of the battle and Miltank's attacks weren't hitting as hard as they used to. Both trainers and Pokémon were breathing heavily until Miltank collapsed from the burn damage. The judge raised his flag to indicate Miltank was down. It was over; that shiny badge was ours. Tom hugged me and ran onto the field to hug Quilava.

    After some waterworks by Whitney, Tom politely asked for his reward and she apologized while giving him the badge. All three of us admired the sparkle before Tom put it in his case and guided us to the door. Upon walking outside, I was glowing and gaining power until I felt the sensation fade away. My brown and white fur turned to black fur with yellow rings. Tom dropped to his knees and cried tears of joy while hugging me. And to think, I was crying in his arms some weeks ago and now he's crying in mine. It's funny how things work out.

    We walked back to the Pokémon center after our energy draining battle under the full moon. My rings started to go from a dull yellow to a very bright yellow and we got some curious looks from people walking around in the warm night. Tom and I strolled into the Pokémon center while the nurse on duty greeted us. After healing us, she had a lengthy conversation with Tom upon seeing our new badge. Apparently Whitney handed out a badge to challengers only 20% of the time on the first try. I may love the night but I have to sleep too and upon hearing that statistic, Tom's screams of bewilderment rang through the lobby waking up any potential sleeping members. After an apology we headed down the hall to an empty room meant for one trainer.

    He threw his bag into a corner and proceeded to change while I slept at the foot of his bed. I was almost asleep but his shirt landed on half of my face. I woke up feeling groggy and stared at him and he just laughed at me. I walked over to the mirror and did the same thing upon seeing my reflection. Before we went to bed, he showed me my ball.

    "Do you want to sleep in here tonight?" he asked. "I couldn't have you sleep outside your ball when we were training because of wild Pokémon. Quilava isn't really fond of sleeping outside so he'll go back in a minute."

    He was right. As much as I hated my ball due to living outside of one most of my life, I would rather be safe and even I know my strength. Quilava even acknowledged he was not strong enough to fight hordes of wild Pokémon by going into its ball every night. I gently pushed the ball away to prove my point. He rubbed my head and went to bed; I soon followed at his bedside.
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  2. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 2- The Highest of the Highs to the Lowest of the Lows

    The morning sun came through the windows too soon for my liking. Half awake, I nudged Tom and was met with groans. I kept poking him with my paw until he decided to wake up. After he got dressed, we went to the lobby to eat breakfast. Pokémon food wasn't bad but the specialized food for specific types always tasted better. Luckily, Tom purchased fire and dark type food so we enjoyed the special treat after our sweet victory. While we were eating, Tom pulled out a map and studied it in order to decide our next move. After minutes of looking at it, he was still somewhat confused on his next stop so he turned to us.

    "Okay on the count of three, we all point to where we want to go for our next gym challenge. Ready? One. Two. Three!"

    All three of us pointed to different areas. Tom had Ecruteak City, I had Olivine City, and Quilava had Azalea Town. After looking at our seemingly random decisions, Tom and Quilava looked at each other with grins on their faces.

    "Quilava, you would want to go there again, wouldn't you?" Tom said, grinning wider. "I know how much you want that badge again but we already have it. Plus, that gym leader wasn't too happy that we swept 'em."

    Hearing that made Quilava's grin bigger too; he knew that his fire roasted bugs all day, every day. After a long belly rub by Tom, he decided to look up information on Olivine City's gym. I didn't like the looks of the Pokémon from the Pokémon League information guide. I saw "Steel Type" on the top of the page and proceeded to poke at my master.

    "What's wrong Umbreon?"

    "I can't fight steel types. I want some action next gym battle." But all he heard was a sad "breee". The language barrier can be and still is annoying for us, but at least Tom can read me well so it's not a huge problem.

    "Let me guess, you don't want Quilava stealing the spotlight again?" Tom said with a detective like tone. "I guess you're right, plus I need a more diverse team to take down steel types."

    Saying I can't fight steel types is an understatement. At the ranch, I played with Magnemite but ran into them on accident and it really hurt, even with my fluffy coat; why would I fight one if it hurts just running into one?

    Putting two and two together, we headed for Ecruteak to face Morty the ghost type specialist. A few trainers were relaxing on the way to the gym until we came along. However, they were polite and accepted our challenges when Tom wanted to battle. Quilava continued to dominate foes while I learned to use Faint Attack. In fact, I was pretty sure I was able to beat Quilava with my new move, but his Flame Wheel made me think twice. I found myself not being commanded by Tom whenever my foe was drastically weaker than me or I had a type advantage. I realized that I was one step closer to perfect harmony with Tom trusting my movements. Sure, I was far from perfect but the fact Tom gave me more leeway during fights meant I could handle myself.

    We pulled up to the city entrance in the late afternoon despite such a short route. As much as Tom wanted to rush to the gym, his stomach told him otherwise. He decided a trip to the Pokémon center was in order first to heal us up and to enjoy a nice 5:30pm dinner. He called Quilava out of its ball and all three of us walked up to the counter.

    "Hello, I was wondering if you could heal these two please?" Tom asked. "Also, is Morty going to be in tomorrow morning to take challenges? I have three badges and would like a fourth" he said with a smirk on his face.

    A statement like that made my ears perk up. This was not the Tom I knew since we met. That cocky attitude had me worried considering he only had Quilava and me. Did we really stand to waltz through a gym leader like that? Whitney took some tactical planning and a lucky burn to seal the deal. Quilava didn't say a word when I looked at him, but his eyes told me power would get us through this match.

    "Of course I can heal these two" she replied sweetly but then turned businesslike shortly after. "Morty actually prefers to battle around this time as opposed to mornings. He says his ghost Pokémon feel energized as the night goes on. If you want, I can look to see if you can get a match in later tonight."

    "If you can, that'd be great because someone else likes the night too." He replies, keeping the smirk on his face while looking at me; I tilted my head. The keyboard taps finally come to a stop and she turns the screen to Tom. He analyzes the screen and nods. "Sign me up for a 7:30 battle please. We could use the two hour rest."

    "Very well. Good luck in your match."

    With that, we all ate our food silently in the lobby but I suspected Tom and Quilava had something going on in their heads to make the battle turn in their favor. My gut feeling was that I would use Faint Attack and Bite constantly so I didn't have the same pressure on me compared to my fire partner. Tom continued to be deep in thought until he saw the clock. He took a deep breath before standing up and motioning for us to follow. The walk over was like the calm before the storm. A beautiful night sky was clear while the streets were lined with lights. We arrived at the gym entrance expecting something ghost themed, but it looked like any other building in town. It was time.

    The gym itself looked different, but the battle area remained the same. A giant sandy rectangle with lines brings a sense of stability to all trainers and Pokémon despite each gym having its own style. A man stood with blonde hair and had a ball in hand.

    "I assume you are Tom, yes?" Morty asked with a hint of curiosity. Tom nodded in response. "I am Morty and I favor ghost types. This will be a 3 on 3 battle." Tom just stared into space before Morty asked him if he was fine.

    "I have only two Pokémon" was all my master could say, albeit very calm and stern; that demeanor was a good bluff. I could only assume his first two badges had come on the strength of Quilava alone and Whitney must have been his first intense battle. Maybe Tom was aiming to catch other Pokémon later on, but most people would've assumed any trainer had more than two with three badges. I mean, Quilava wasn't much of a talker so I would appreciate the company.

    "I cannot allow myself to be out one less Pokémon simply because a trainer is not prepared, so it will be 3 on 2." Morty shot back. It almost sounded like a worker who scolded me for playing too rough back at the ranch. Tom understood and went to his corner with Quilava and me. The judge stood at the ready.

    "Gastly, let's roll!"

    "Quilava, you're up!"

    I was utterly stunned. A type advantage and I was on the sidelines? I sulked next to Tom as I waited for the judge to start the match. He still showed a calm demeanor despite being down 3-2 before the match started. At the judge's command the battle started.



    Gastly was hit with the ball of fire but missed putting Quilava to sleep. Gastly was visibly upset that its move missed and turned to Morty for an attack. It couldn't come fast enough.

    "Flame Wheel!"

    Flames engulfed my battle partner and he charged toward the Gastly at full speed. An explosion went off in the middle of the battlefield with Gastly struggling to move after the smoke cleared.

    "Gastly, get up and use Night Shade!"

    To Tom's dismay, it got up and fired a Night Shade towards Quilava who couldn't dodge it in time. The move connected and Quilava was flat on the ground, but only for a few seconds.

    "Finish it up with Flame Wheel, let's go!" Tom shouted and Quilava did just that. The Gastly fell to the floor; there would be no more attacks from it.

    "Gastly is unable to battle, Quilava is the winner." The judge said after raising Quilava's flag. Morty was unfazed as he recalled Gastly while Tom eased up and smiled a little bit. Haunter was sent out next and his smile faded away as our new opponent was more intimidating.

    "Smokescreen!" Tom called out, hoping to provide the same advantage as in Whitney's battle. However, Haunter used Lick from long distance but luckily for Tom the paralyzing effect didn't happen. To my surprise, Morty breathed a sigh of relief despite the attack landing. However, Tom and Quilava hadn't noticed it. I wasn't sure why he sighed but I knew something worse was coming.

    "That won't work if I have ranged attacks" Morty said, waving a finger at my master. Infuriated, Tom ordered a flame wheel and it hit its mark, but he paid for that in addition to the smoke clearing from Smokescreen.

    The move hit Quilava and it was sleeping like a newborn Pokémon. Tom panicked and looked at me, unsure if he wanted to switch. He decided to bank on Quilava waking up fast. That was a costly mistake.

    "Dream Eater" Morty said coldly.

    "Get up Quilava!" he pleaded but it was no use. The Night Shade from before proved to be too much and now Haunter passed through Quilava smirking while Quilava shivered in fear and pain until he fainted. The judge raised his flag and declared Haunter the winner. Yup, it was definitely worse than paralysis.

    Tom and I were awe stricken by the turn of events. So many questions raced through my mind. How could my partner be knocked out? Had he even come close to being knocked out? Is he really being recalled to his ball? Is the road to the top really that hard? How would Tom handle this? This is only the fourth gym for Arceus' sake!

    "U-U-Umbreon, g-g-g-go" Tom stuttered as he pointed to the field; he was broken. I had to bring him back to his senses. Thankfully, he had let me fight on my own before so I had some idea how to defend myself while looking for the right time to strike.

    I entered the field as confident as I could be with a Haunter near full strength and one other Pokémon up Morty's sleeve. The judge motioned the battle to begin and I was off to the races. I was not going to lose in a gym battle, not again. Faint Attack was used to counter everything that Haunter threw at me. Night Shades and Shadow Balls couldn't catch up to me as I ran circles around it. Finally, an opening to nail the Haunter came after Morty ordered a Hypnosis but it missed me.

    "Haunter is unable to battle, Umbreon is the winner" the judge declared. And at that moment, I was feeling on top of the world. Only one more foe left. Quilava was let out to witness the final match. As I turn back to my corner, all I see is a Pokémon filled with hope and my master regaining his confidence.

    "Gengar, time to finish this, go!"
    A blob of pure darkness with red eyes stood before me. No, I will NOT lose. I REFUSE to lose. My rings went from dim to a glorious yellow as my body felt leaner and stronger. The judge threw up the flags and the battle proceeded with no commands. I realized that Morty and Gengar had perfect harmony. Both of us could fight to our full potential because neither of us could tell what's coming next. Our masters stood with arms crossed, waiting for the final blow to be struck. We traded Shadow Balls for Faint Attacks and Licks for Bites. Everyone in the gym remained silent until a thud was heard. Both of us were down after I collided with a Night Shade at close range but I was not out. Panting heavily, I rose to my feet expecting Gengar to do the same. It did, but the moment I charged up another Faint Attack, it collapsed and stayed down. I struggled to remain standing and waited for the judge's verdict; it was the longest five seconds in my life.

    "Gengar is unable to battle, Umbreon wins. The victory goes to the challenger."

    Those words gave me enough energy to run over to Tom and for him and Quilava to meet me. He hugged me and I collapsed in his arms. Morty came over and graciously offered us the badge. Tom took it and smiled. However, I heard Morty begin to lecture my master.

    "You have won today, but you need more than two Pokémon to make it through the other four leaders. I will, however, acknowledge your strength so I wish you good luck in your quest."

    After Morty left, Tom brought me back to my senses with a nice belly rub and I licked his hand in return. However, on the way back to the Pokémon center, we were mugged by people in two trucks. Some people snatched me from Tom claiming that Umbreon are rare specimens for some experiment. They claimed they had been following us for weeks; about the same time I was taken from the ranch. He tried to fight them, but an Arbok was sent out. Quilava still had enough energy to face it but he and Tom were attacked viciously and swiftly with Poison Sting. I was on the verge of passing out already so I resisted. Once they were full of stingers, both of our poke balls were snatched and stepped on ensuring Tom no longer owned us. The last thing I saw from Quilava after that was a smile before he stopped breathing. I turned to Tom and he too was out cold, or so I thought. He looked up at me, mustering enough strength to speak despite the poison that would end his life after he was done talking.

    "You'll make it to the top Umbreon. You'll always be stronger than any opponent." One person kicked and mocked him as Tom closed his eyes for the last time.

    "Oh this Umbreon will be strong alright. That girl paid a lot of money for this thing and dammit, we'll make sure it's exactly what she wants."

    As I was being transported to my unknown destination I realized that I went from the highest of the highs to the lowest of the lows in a matter of minutes. The only question I had was: what now? All I could do was wait.
    It had been months since that incident and every day, I was in a cage waiting or was being experimented on for one reason or another. I was scared to fight back for fear of death. Tom and Quilava eventually faded from my memory as I fought just to live another day. One day I saw a large sum of money around my cage and realized I was being sold yet again. The experiments had to do with learning new attacks at a rapid pace and even learning more than four moves. Bite had been long gone and replaced with some purple substance that weakens the user over time and they deemed my natural speed to be high enough to remove Quick Attack. The process of learning new moves was seemingly painless, but trying to relearn moves they "deleted" was the painful part. Needles filled with some kind of memory fluid riddled my body for hours each day until I passed out from exhaustion. I learned a move where I shoot black energy pulse; their second biggest mistake was to give me powerful moves with no idea how to control them. They were going to get rid of Faint Attack soon, or so they said. That was the biggest mistake they made.

    Deep down I became enraged when I heard that Faint Attack was going to be replaced. That move brought Tom back into my mind immediately. That move was my last memory of him before I was taken. That move defined my strength, my rivalry with Quilava. That move won me a gym badge! That move was going to take me to the top. That move was the only thing I had left. Nobody was going to mess with that move, not even Arceus himself. The next day arrived and as I was led into the experimenting room for the umpteenth time, this time to test my new moves in front of a few researchers and a one sided window loomed high above. I could only assume my buyer was behind that glass. With about a dozen researchers standing on the test floor with me to record notes, it was time to make a move.

    My pulse attack knocked out about seven researchers and blew a hole in the wall facing a forest. That's not exactly how I drew it up because I wanted to leave out of the front door, but not like I had a choice. Guards and their Pokémon came as I was about to escape so fighting was the only way out. The guard's Pokémon, mostly Persian, were confused by the purple substance at first but kept charging. After fighting them over the next three minutes, they all collapsed. Backup wasn't fast enough and I escaped into the forest, but not without a well placed Slash on my front right leg during the scuffle.

    This forest was and still is a savage place with power struggles going on every day. One Pinsir tried to kill me just four days later but I defeated him and opted to spare his life. Pokémon in the immediate area did not challenge me after seeing the fight, especially when my rings reached their maximum brightness. There will always be someone willing to challenge me, but they will fall before me.

    I'll always be stronger than any opponent.

    Just want to point something out: this story is set in Johto in gen II (Gold/Silver/Crystal) but I threw in a few gen IV moves because the movepool was seriously lacking in gen II. I don't abuse this too much, but I wanted to get that out of the way to clear up any confusion. No abilities either. As always, I will see you guys next chapter unless you hop over to FFnet and read ahead which I wouldn't mind. Have a good day :)

  3. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 3- The Runt

    Since I was an Eevee kit, I always wanted to be loved. Born in a forest outside a small town near a large lake in northern Johto, I was used to the quiet scenery, except when it was time to play. As the only girl in a litter of four, my Jolteon father and Espeon mother had to watch us carefully when we would play. Despite my smaller size, I was easily spotted because my three brothers were always on top of me. Every day it was the same thing: wake up, eat, play, eat again, play, and sleep. Life was pretty simple, but all of us grew up and playtime turned into battle time. Each day was a chance for victory but I never won a single fight. That being said, I did get stronger and could eventually defeat the occasional Mareep that tried to intimidate me. Dad told me all about his battles, especially when it came to gym battles. He had sneaked into the town down south before he met mom and saw how fun it was to fight for a little prize; there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted some of that.

    Size always seemed to be the first thing a wild Pokémon would recognize when facing me and eventually, my family made the decision to abandon me because of it. I literally woke up that particular morning and they were all gone along with their scent. I guessed that taking care of me in general was too much or nobody wanted to risk fatal injury defending me. At least I could find my own food and fight Pokémon close to my size for it. That night, all I could do was cry in a hollowed out tree trunk. I realized that nobody was going to protect me and wild Pokémon certainly weren't going to love me.

    I was careful to avoid larger Pokémon like Noctowl for the next few days while trying to establish a home or an elemental stone to give myself a better chance of survival. The plan was simple enough, hunt for stones and food during the day while find a place to sleep at night. Dad said that once I picked a stone then I would be stuck like that for the rest of my life and Mom said she evolved from happiness toward her trainer. Well, I wouldn't be that happy anytime soon and a stone wasn't going to pop out of thin air so I had to look.

    Any chance for hope seemed to be gone the moment a trainer saw me and called her Swinub to battle. I tried to tackle it but it didn't budge and the trainer ordered a Take Down. Dodging was the best chance due to my smaller size so I sidestepped it and tackled again. Off guard, the Swinub took the hit while preparing a Powder Snow. The cold snow knocked me down long enough for a red and white ball to tap me on the head and suck me in. I tried to escape just like I would with my brothers but the ball was not an Eevee, it would never get tired. Just after seconds of struggling, the ball locked. I was caught.

    After what felt like hours, I felt better in my ball and was soon called out by my new master. She seemed like a giant to me with long red hair. After the teenaged trainer called me out she let me wander. There were some healing machines, a large video board, computers, tile floors, phones, benches; it was a typical Pokémon center. Finally, I looked at her and noticed a large shoulder bag and four other poke balls were at her waist in addition to mine but they disappeared out of view as she picked me up by the scruff of my neck. I was soon eye to eye with her but managed to see a blue rock in her bag. It couldn't have been? It was: a Water Stone. The one thing that would keep me alive was in sight yet not within reach.

    "I'm Sara and oh wow! Aren't you just the cutest thing?" She said as she started to pet my head. "You were so cute from far away but you're even cuter up close."
    My first reaction was to tilt my head in confusion. I'd never been called "cute" before due to my small size. In fact, my brothers picked on me and my parents apparently saw me as a problem child, not a cute one. Once it hit me, I squealed with joy and Sara hugged me before returning me to my ball.

    We left the center after she spent some time at a computer and continued to the next town. Being inside my ball gave me time to sleep and ponder everything that just happened. I went from an abandoned runt to a trainer's Pokémon in a matter of hours and the sun was still up. My family would probably never be seen again because the Eevee line was very popular yet I felt at ease with Sara. Also, I could feel the massive drop in temperature inside my ball for quite some time as we moved on. Her team consisted of: Magneton, Pidgeot, Tentacruel, Swinub, and me. Despite everyone else, I was sent into battle numerous times before the next town. That size disadvantage in the wild was no more in trainer battles while I continued to rack up wins in the coming weeks. I could just curl up in a ball or lie flat on the ground to avoid ranged attacks while closer hits ended up in a lot of swings and misses. Each victory brought me closer to Sara and Sara closer to me before she had to recall me each time. That Water Stone from earlier was still in my mind but I didn't feel like evolving that way.

    Once again, I felt the familiar feeling of being healed at a Pokémon center before I was called out. However, everyone else was out as well with confused looks. Sara immediately turned to the group with fire in her eyes.

    "Alright everybody we're going to take on Clair at high noon. She uses dragons which resist almost every single type, so we have to hit hard with all of our attacks. I heard it's going to be 4 on 4 so I'm trying to decide who to use. I'll have to see as the battle moves on I guess" Sara explained sheepishly.

    All of us stared at each other wondering who was going to miss out on the fun before being called back into our balls. Before I was called back, she looked through her bag and started to pull out the Water Stone plus some flat disc. I stared at the stone blankly, admiring its beautiful shade of blue while thinking of a Vaporeon's lifestyle before Sara put it back in her bag and mumbled something about gauging Clair.

    After Sara walked over to the gym and introduced herself to Clair, the two exchanged formalities and ground rules. Unfortunately for Sara she had to pick her Pokémon now. Not show them, but pick them off of her belt so someone was turned over to the judge before the battle started. From my ball, I watched them stand ready along with the judge. Gyms were supposed to be average... or so I thought based on Dad's stories. This one seemed to have a larger than normal sandy battlefield in the middle surrounded by some kind of moat. How could any Pokémon fight like this? Questions continued to fill my head until everyone got into positions.

    The flags went up and both of them sent out their first Pokémon. Matchup one was Gyarados against Magneton. It was the quickest battle I had ever seen with Gyarados lying knocked out in the moat just seconds after a Thunder nailed the huge serpent. Sara didn't even have to utter a command because Magneton knew what would happen. Next up was a beautiful Dragonair. It opted to meet Mageton on the field, probably fearing a super conducted electric attack.

    "Magneton, Thunder Wave!" Sara said with confidence.

    "Dragonair, counter it with your own Thunder Wave!" Clair ordered with intensity, not feeling pleased after being down 4-3 in one hit.

    The moves collided in midair and created a dust storm on the field. With nobody able to see, Sara decided to pick her next move carefully, but rather than wait, Clair followed up her move with a powerful Surf attack. Through the smoke, Dragonair's orb on its neck began glowing a bright blue and water from the moat rose above everyone and came crashing down on Magneton, soaking everything in the process. Sara knew Clair messed up and now Dragonair was covered in water.

    "Quick Magneton, Thunder Wave!"

    The move travelled faster through the water and found its intended target. Dragonair whined at the discomfort before Clair ordered another Surf. Again, the water rose and came down with more force and Magneton was out. The judge declared a knockout before motioning Sara to throw out her next battler after the score became 3-3.

    "Pidgeot lets him 'em hard!"

    A large bird emerged from its ball with a fierce war cry. At the signal, Sara wasted no time going for the knockout.

    "Quick Attack, then follow it up with a Wing Attack! Keep going until it's down."

    Blurred lines were all I saw when it moved at its incredible speed. The paralyzed dragon stood no chance to dodge as it took the attacks head on for massive damage. At the sight of Dragonair not moving, Pidgeot stopped to assess its work; that was a mistake.

    "Dragonbreath, hurry up." Clair showed no panic in her voice as the majestic creature fired its move at Pidgeot. My team member dodged it easily by flying in circles, but it didn't think Dragonair would keep it going for long. As it moved to chase Pidgeot, the paralysis took effect and the attack stopped.

    "Come on Pidgeot, your cockiness almost cost us a free hit. You're better than that!" Sara scolded to her Pokémon. It shook its head as if the speech has been said a thousand times before resuming the onslaught.

    "Keep up the pressure Dragonair, Dragonbreath!"

    "How is it not out yet!? Finish it with Steel Wing!"

    Pidgeot's wings began to glow as it charged while Dragonair charged up another Dragonbreath. As they got closer, another explosion rocked the battlefield. Sara rejoiced at the sight until she saw Pidgeot stumbling backwards sluggishly.

    "Finish it Dragonair, Surf!"

    "Steel Wing!"

    It was a race against time. Pidgeot came in close but Dragonair winced form the paralysis and that sealed the round. Steel Wing connected and Dragonair dropped to the floor with the judge rendering the KO verdict after hearing the huge thud. Now it was 3-2 and I was getting overjoyed from the thrilling battle. I had this funny feeling inside of me, like a power was bursting at the seams but I decided to hold it back fearing the unknown effects it might have on the battle or my ball.

    "Dragonair, it'll be a quick round" Clair said in a matter-of-fact tone as she sent it on land.

    Oh no. She had another one? Despite being small, that huge wave of water was obviously going to hit me wherever I stood. Luckily, Pidgeot was still moving so it'd be some time before I'd see some action. The judge raised his flags and Sara went all in again.

    "Use Wing Attack but add Quick Attack for speed!"

    "That same strategy won't work on me. Dragonair, Slam."

    My master was getting edgy; she knew something was wrong with Pidgeot. Confusion came across Sara's face too, as she expected a better counter than Slam. It was an inaccurate move but Clair was banking on nailing my partner before it hit Dragonair. Pidgeot gained speed yet again before Dragonair tried to hit it. Surprisingly, both moves hit at the same time but Pidgeot couldn't get up. It hit me right then that Pidgeot was paralyzed since Dragonbreath hit and now it was in danger.

    "Ice Beam" Clair ordered in a monotonous tone.

    Just like that, a beam of ice struck Pidgeot and it fainted on impact. Battle tension was rising quickly as Sara looked like she regretted something upon seeing that move. However, she called on Tentacruel to battle. Poor Swinub, I guess it was too weak to take on Clair since its Poké Ball was given to the judge before the match started. Maybe I wouldn't have to fight. That might be a good thing; I mean I'm small as it is. No way could I stand an attack from these things!

    "Tentacruel, Poison Sting!" Sara called out with some urgency. Poison needles flew at the target but Dragonair instinctively dove into the water; Tentacruel followed suit.

    "Move the water and use Slam Dragonair" Clair ordered.

    "Keep firing Poison Sting!" Sara barked out, hoping a side effect could from her barrage.

    Breaking Dragonair's concentration was Sara's only hope with a Slam on the way after it parted a portion of the moat. As the poison needles kept hitting it, Dragonair managed to land a powerful Slam at its weak spot; a critical hit. However, Sara got what she wanted as poison damage was coming on fast and she opted for a reckless strategy.

    "Use Wrap! Go for the stall knockout!"

    Moat water furiously came splashing onto the field due to Dragonair losing control over the flow of the water. The orb on its neck dimmed as the two battled fiercely for control. Tentacruel finally had a good grip on Dragonair, yet it continued to squirm.

    "Poison Sting! Finishing blow!" Sara screamed at the top of her lungs.

    "Don't let it fire! Dragonbreath!" Clair barked out in response.

    Clair and Sara were really going at it as my teammate fired another round from point blank range but Dragonair got off its attack too and Tentacruel was forced to release it. After some heavy panting from both battlers, they both collapsed with half of their bodies on land and in the water. A double KO signal came from the judge.

    "Kingdra, it's the finale. Let's grab a win" Clair called as the beast went straight into the moat.

    Sara was pushed to the breaking point. I was her last ticket to a badge and Kingdra was the last line of Defense. She finally threw my ball and I landed on the field facing my foe. This was it; I wanted to prove I could hold my own in an intense battle despite my size disadvantage. I was going to make Sara happy.
  4. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 4- Where did I go wrong?

    I was more nervous than I was the day everyone abandoned me. One Pokémon stood between me and a tough victory for Sara. Barring a miracle, I wasn't going to last long. A gym leader is keen on how to take advantage of their opponents and fear from a massive tidal wave held me from standing tall. Sara thought my smaller size could still work but she was wrong.

    Clair wasted no time exploiting my weakness. "Kingdra, Surf."

    Sara's strategy was rendered useless as the wave-much larger than Dragonair's- came crashing down and it felt like the battlefield was going to be underwater. While I was being bombarded and trying to swim, Sara ordered a Quick Attack.

    "It's no use" Clair said, shaking her head. "Kingdra is also part water so its control of water is much better than my other dragons. Had you let Gyarados attack, then you would have seen that. The moat is like an infinite source for my Pokémon's strength and defense. You can't simply escape with that. It's a shame too; it was a good battle up to this point."

    Completely dejected, Sara tried to come up with a strategy but it was no use. I kept being tossed around like the items in Sara's bag when she ran. Eventually, I started to lose consciousness until that familiar feeling of power welled up inside of me. I couldn't hold it back any more; there was no reason for Sara to lose after all of her hard work up to this point. The energy coursed through me which caused a bright light to shine in the arena. Kingdra stopped its attack fearing this was an extremely powerful move. When it was all said and done I was bigger than before, had a new fur color, and somehow gained psychic powers. No turning back at that point, well maybe to look at Sara.

    "Y-y-y-y-you evolved Eevee." She was in shock at the sudden turn of events. The little me turned into a normal sized Espeon out of sheer joy for this battle. New cautious optimism came over my master as she planned a path to victory in her head. "My guess is that you can't control your new powers that well, but we have more of a chance than before. Use Swift!"

    Swift? I had no clue what that meant but went for it anyway. Stars started to form after some concentration and the attack landed on Kingdra. The feeling of this new power made me feel great, yet Sara still had doubts. Again she ordered a Swift, hoping to take advantage of my evolution.

    "Interesting, but that still won't help. Dragonbreath" Clair ordered with force.

    A burst of energy was heading straight for me so I lied flat in the hopes it would go over me like ranged attacks of the past. However, the move still connected which led to Sara becoming flustered. She knew that I had become too big for her strategy of dodging and going in for close combat. I staggered to my feet while another one came at me. No lying this time. I decided to jump to the left to make myself off centered with Kingdra.


    "Espeon use Confusion to deflect the water around you!"

    Sara had finally figured out a chance to win. Yes, that Surf was going to be massive but when I can deflect only the water coming toward me it makes it easier to handle. Right then, the wall of water was coming down and I used Confusion like Sara ordered. To everyone's surprise, it worked and the water moved harmlessly around me as I made my little psychic bubble to deflect the water. Now I had the problem of fatigue to deal with. Moving that much water, despite it being a small portion of the full attack, took too much energy out of my new, underdeveloped body.

    "Alright Espeon, use confusion on Kingdra this time." Despite the fatigue, I essentially rolled up a ball of psychic energy and fired it at Kingdra. It dodged easily by diving into the moat.

    "Come up and use Smokescreen, then a two part Surf. Let's go!" Clair was going for the "can't defend what you can't see" trick on me and unfortunately for Sara, it worked. The field was soon covered in a thick smoke and the sounds of us coughing. I sensed a wave coming so I prepared my makeshift shield only to find out the wall was much smaller than before and I easily deflected the water. Fatigue again got to me as the second wall came at me with full force. It was déjà vu as I struggled to escape the crashing waves.

    "Quick Attack! I know it'll work this time" Sara pleaded.

    My muscles ached from fighting the act of drowning but I mustered enough energy to jump up and charge at my enemy. It wasn't much in terms of damage but I still scored a direct hit on Kingdra. After moving away from the moat's edge, I was panting heavily. How was I still standing? This beast should have beaten me on the first Surf yet here I stand with half a chance.

    "Time to wrap this up Kingdra. Light Smokescreen."

    "Espeon, you know what's coming. Deflect the water!"

    A lighter layer of black smoke covered everything so I could still make out the Kingdra's shadow in the moat but the wall of water never came. I took advantage of the situation by firing a Confusion attack at it, hitting the mark much to the pleasure of Sara. What came next was something Sara could not have planned for and something I bet Clair has done hundreds of times before.

    "Hyper Beam" Clair ordered coldly.

    An even more powerful beam of energy was coming for me that made Dragonbreath look like child's play. Confusion didn't do a thing as the beam went through my psychic shield and scored a direct critical hit. That was it; I'd collapsed and did not get up. The judge signaled that Clair won while Sara stood in disbelief.

    "B-b-b-but how" was all my master could bear to say while dropping to her knees. I still lied on the ground aware of the situation and my surroundings. Clair took a deep breath and decided to explain her clever strategy sensing Sara was too broken to have a rematch anytime soon.

    "It was pretty easy. I knew you were going to do that shield strategy after it worked the first time so I changed things up the second time. The first wave was moderate enough for you to counter but the second wave was a normal Surf. Your Espeon had no chance to deflect a second wall of water around itself due to fatigue." Clair lectured at Sara while Sara was looking down at the floor in a fit of rage. "Finally, I can't believe you thought I was going to do it again for a third time. After all of those shields, your Pokémon couldn't stop a full force Hyper Beam. You failed to adapt to the battle and failed as a trainer to see your Pokémon getting tired from such a strategy. I have no more challengers today despite it being early afternoon. You can mope around in here for as long as you want. I have to get going."

    With that, Clair and the judge left after the very Swinub that beat me was returned. Alone in a large gym with only my master being what felt like miles away and my panting; it was an eerie feeling. I heard every word of that verbal thrashing. She was right. I had a feeling that the same strategy over time wouldn't work on such a powerful Pokémon, let alone a gym leader who has countless battles against someone who thinks they know it all. We both just stayed in the gym pondering what to do next. I was still waiting to be recalled to my ball because I couldn't stand. Pain still coursing through my body, I turned to see Sara walking toward me as if she was trying to fight something back. I perked up once she was within inches of me and felt the scruff of my neck being picked up. This time, I sensed it wasn't as innocent as the first time. Our eyes met for what seemed to be minutes before she backhanded me.

    I took a hard hit from her hand before looking at her again. Big mistake. Her eyes were on fire and the barrage of slaps kept coming before she finally grew sore and swollen from her blows. I cried in pain and disbelief as all of her kindness and confidence in me was replaced with anger and pure hatred.

    "You stupid ball of fur, why did you decide to evolve now of all times!?" She screamed at the top of her lungs. "I was going to evolve you with that damn water stone and teach you ice beam if I lost! This battle was supposed to be a test for me, not you!" I continued to sob quietly as she continued the verbal abuse. "Hell, I'm amazed I made it so far but then you blew our strategy by evolving and being a worthless psychic type who can't even shield yourself without getting tired!" It was true that I could not completely control my powers but there was no way I was going to win by myself. She continued to berate me.

    "You just couldn't wait, could you!? Now I can't evolve you and win a rematch fast enough to challenge the Elite Four! I knew Swinub was too weak but he was going to replace Tentacruel in the fight anyway. two Pokémon knowing ice moves against a dragon trainer would mean an instant victory!" She then threw me to the ground in frustration while getting in my ear. This time she opted to whisper and hiss at me. "I knew you were different and tolerated it because of the wins but I'll be damned if I have to use you at the Indigo Plateau."

    I thought she was done but it was far from over. She proceeded to kick me, stomp on me, punch me, and utter random phrases in her anger. Nobody was coming to save me now. The gym was empty, my family is still gone, my teammates are indifferent toward me, and I couldn't even save myself. Verbal, physical, and emotional beatings continued until the sun was setting; about three hours in total before Sara ran out of energy. Finally, I was recalled to my ball, but not before I heard "You'll be dead in the wild."

    Hours must have passed by since the gym incident because I finally regained my senses. However, I was still in agony while looking at a lot of trees on my side. Also, I felt a weird feeling of freedom. I soon put all the pieces together and realized that Sara released me. What's worse than being abandoned this time is that she didn't heal me. Sara actually wanted me to die as I stumbled through the large forest while dusk started to creep in. I survived the first few hours by finding berries to regain my strength but it was only enough to keep me upright. The physical and emotional scars would not go away anytime soon.

    Travelling for hours on end with no clue where I was took its toll on me so I wanted to find a place to rest. I stumbled across some type of rock formation and assumed it would be a perfect den. I felt this sense of strength when I approached, the type of strength to survive in the wild without question. Not worried about who or what might be living there, I gathered more assorted berries to store there. At least if someone was home, I could offer them my stash for a stay... or my life. I decided after a few minutes that I needed a bigger stash if I wanted to barter it for my life so I went really out of my way to get more berries. Now that sun was finally set, I had to get back to the den.

    "Well, I was thinking about having a light meal but this shouldn't go to waste" a cold voice said behind me from above. I turned to see a Noctowl eyeing me with evil intent. I could've run for cover but I decided against it to see if it would go away. Those healing berries still hadn't brought me back to fighting shape yet.

    "It's late and I have to get going."

    "Oh no, it's actually quite early for me" He said in reply. Well, there was my one chance. "You'll be mine on this fine day."

    It swooped down and went for Peck as I countered with Quick Attack. Physical force was something I had to create to send the bird away with my Confusion taking too much energy to use. Also, I wanted to sleep and wake up the next morning, not sleep forever. He got the message that I wasn't going to submit anytime soon so he went to his strongest move, Take Down. I tried to use Confusion but since Sara didn't heal me, nothing happened. My only strategy was to battle it out until it got tired. Running would be useless because I would be in a vulnerable position and I knew Swift and Quick Attack would hardly ruffle its feathers, let alone damage it. Take Down was missing for awhile until I was nailed with one. And with my weakened state, it was enough to make me collapse yet again.

    As it landed and started to admire its handy work, I began to reflect. Not much time or thought needed to go into this: I had lived a miserable life. Despite everything I try to make others happy, I failed every single time. A useless runt turned into a useless psychic type who can't even use psychic attacks. I lied there, just waiting for death to take me away in the form of a Noctowl using Take Down; it never came. In fact, I felt that same strong presence from the den in front of me.

    "You really have been a thorn in my side, huh Shade" The Noctowl annoyingly stated to the new Pokémon in the battle. An Umbreon just stood there in its battle stance, silent with rings glowing, waiting for Noctowl to attack. "No matter, I'll have the pleasure of a feast in a few minutes." And with that statement, they both moved at the same time toward each other. I was fading in and out of consciousness but saw enough of the fight to know that someone actually came to save me and wouldn't be dragged down by my lack of usefulness. His moves were strong enough to hold off Noctowl but Noctowl wanted the kill. He went for a reckless dive bomb Take Down and Shade went for Faint Attack. They collided and the Noctowl's skull was instantly crushed under the sheer force of the attacks meeting head on. If the skull crushing hit wasn't enough, its neck made that distinct *crack* sound. It seized before the wings stopped twitching.

    "Hey, are you alright?" Shade asked me with a deep concerned look on his face after he made sure Noctowl was really dead. His rings still were a glorious yellow, guiding me to his outline in the dark. I kept my eyes open long enough to see him and nod my head.

    "I think... I need... some... sleep..." was I all could say before I passed out. I swear I was moving shortly after because there was support under my stomach while my legs dangled. Still out, I now decided to reflect again. Carrying me away not to hurt me, but to help me; I actually matter to someone in this world. I thought the den was just a slab of rocks, but I didn't go in too deep when I dropped my berries off and failed to notice the warm spot of leaves and feathers. They felt so comfortable on my battered, bloody, and bruised body. Before I was really in a deep sleep, I heard his soothing voice.

    "Nobody will hurt you while you sleep, I promise. You've probably gone through hell and back but you survived. That's all that matters. Now get some rest" He cooed while nuzzling me.
  5. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 5- Healing

    Shade's P.O.V.

    While I watched her sleep, I noticed a huge berry collection near the entrance of the cave after I brought her in. She must have been trying to make it her home for the long haul or maybe use the berries as an offering if someone else didn't want a new guest. After I set her down in my bed, I made a fire with sticks and stones close by to keep her warm. Before I went to grab some berries from the pile to heal her, I went to check on her and she hugged me in her sleep so I opted not to disturb her. The first few hours had me worried because I had no idea if she was going to make it, but her steady breathing was a good sign. She shuddered in her slumber, probably due to nightmares. Every time she did, I nuzzled her gently and she stopped immediately. The worst was when she cried in her sleep while screaming something about a Kingdra, even though it was only one time. I pet her very gently while humming an old lullaby from my time at the ranch. She still wouldn't wake up but she eventually calmed down as she continued to hug me. My Espeon guest continued to sleep for a total of three days despite all of the nightmares. It wasn't surprising at all considering she was at death's doorstep due to exhaustion for what seemed to be way too long.

    I want her to wake up soon so I could ask her so many questions. Why was she here? Why was she this beat up? The forest is tough, but not one Pokémon living here can do that much damage on its own. Maybe a large group could deal that much damage, but there would be no mercy on their part. I do know that she was owned by a trainer at some point because wild Espeon or Umbreon are nonexistent; we just can't reach that level of happiness in the wild. And knowing she was a trainer's Pokémon led me to believe that she had an intense battle before I found her fighting Noctowl. Ah, another question for me to ask: Who's your trainer?

    "Mmmmgghhh" was the first thing she said (or tried to say) since she said she wanted to sleep. I let my rings glow a little bit more to help her wake up. After she realized her head was buried in my chest, her eyes grew wide and she jumped back only to hit the side of the den. "Who are you? Where am I? What happened to me? What do you want with me?" She asked rapidly, as if those were going to be her last words.

    I just looked at her blankly before taking a deep breath. "In order: I'm Shade, you're in my den, you passed out, and I wanna talk." I replied in a calm fashion.

    "S-s-s-s-so you're the same Shade from last night?" She asked still trembling.

    I put on a smile. "Yup" It worked as I saw she was shaking less. "So what's your name?"

    "Ruby, I kinda named myself after seeing the gem on my head in a reflection" she replied sheepishly. This was progress. As long as I knew her name, I could connect with her on a new level.

    "Don't worry, my name just comes from the other forest Pokémon because I blend in with the shadows around dusk. From what I understand, it's a pretty common name among Umbreon."

    "W-where are we exactly, Shade?"

    I tried to break up the large chunk of information so she could digest it. "Well... my den... in this forest... located around Mount Mortar." It seemed to be working as she asked her third question again.

    "What happened to me last night?"

    "Last night? Ruby, you've been asleep for three days straight but never mind that. Point is that you were on the verge of death, I saved you from a Noctowl, carried you back here too. Oh yeah, I was going to try and heal you with this impressive berry collection but you hugged me in your sleep so I didn't want to disturb you." Ruby just sat there, took it all in, and before I knew it, she was running up to me crying; I hugged her just like in her sleep.

    "Y-y-y-y-you s-s-s-stayed w-w-with m-me?" Ruby sobbed while hugging me. "What if someone came after you and me?"

    "Of course, I knew you were scared and your injuries were too severe to warrant me leaving." I let her get the sobbing out of her system before I continued, but not before we locked eyes. "Ruby, not one single Pokémon in this forest would dare come after you if you're with me. A group of Pokémon? Maybe, but even so, I'm willing to fight for you."

    I hope she saw and heard how sincere I just was considering I haven't shown this side of me to anyone, not even Tom. It took some time, but she finally calmed down and stopped sobbing to ask her final question.

    "What do you want with me?" Now, she kept a steady mouth but her body language was far from steady. I moved closer to her in the most non threatening way possible and sat down after she moved away so that we were face to face, but had room between us.

    "Just to talk. You know, get to know each other." Ruby had a confused look on her face. "Look, I think you can hold your own out here, but I just don't want to lose anyone that doesn't have a chance... not again." Her ears perked up at that last line. "I know you probably don't want to talk about your past, but how about I talk about mine first?"

    "I don't know Shade. I've been nothing but a problem to everyone else since the day I was born. You'll probably think I'm whining."

    "Ruby, no matter what you tell me, my opinion of you will not change. Do you know why?" She looked down at the floor and shook her head. "My opinion of you is that you are a scrappy fighter. You were on the verge of death, yet you still managed to fend off a tough opponent. I don't even know you but I admire your will to keep going. I've seen countless Pokémon in my lifetime, but I've seen only a pawful that could hold a candle to you. Ruby, that is nothing to be ashamed of." The honesty behind my words made her look up. I smiled as she started towards me again. I was starting to wonder if I should tell her my story because I hate to see her cry; she's gone through too much in the past few days.
    It wasn't by accident that I told my entire life story to Ruby. She didn't use any of her psychic tricks on me nor force me to explain anything; it just felt natural. She had questions and I answered them as carefully as possible so she could understand everything. After it was all said and done, she looked at me like she hurt me.

    "What's wrong Ruby?" I asked with a concerned look on my face.

    "Why? Why are you telling me I've gone through hell and back? You had it all: a loving trainer, an unbeatable teammate, gym badges, and almost lost it all. The only thing you have left from that time is your memories and a scar on your leg. Doesn't that make you upset at all?" Ruby replied while choking back tears.

    All I can do is take a deep breath and go even deeper in thought. "Yes, it does make me upset, but I never let it get to me to the point of self-destruction. I realize I can't change the past but I know I can change the future. Out here, I've gotten into battles over the smallest things and came out on top. Why? Because I've taken the strength Tom gave to me and I'll use it to continue to get stronger. I can't waste all that hard work. Instead of using it for just my benefit, now I'll be using it for your benefit too. Nobody deserves to have their life be a living hell."

    Like before, she took all of it in but Ruby took a deep breath instead of crying.

    "Shade, I think I'm ready."

    Good, she was comfortable enough to tell me something. Was I expecting her full list of problems? No. However, anything would be helpful so that I won't do anything to make her lose my trust.

    "I'm all ears Ruby."



    "Can we lie down?"

    "Of course, the bed is right over there and I'll sit next to you" I explained while pointing. She shook her head and pawed at me.

    "No Shade, can we lie down?" I picked up the hint very quickly.

    "Anything to make you more comfortable Ruby. But first, you need to eat something."

    Finally, I have a chance to get her some food. I walked over to her huge stash and picked out a mix of berries that would heal her injuries as well as ones that would fill her up. After rolling them to her, I ate my share while watching her in hopes of reading her body language. Ruby looked nervous, maybe questioning if she really wanted to talk after she was done eating. When she was done, she glanced over at me so I smiled and motioned her to lie down. We walked over to the bed as she told me to get in first. I made myself comfortable as she got in after me, trying to get comfortable as well. It didn't surprise me that we were positioned the same way as before with her head near my chest, only this time she could actually talk clearly.

    Ruby's P.O.V.

    What am I doing? Am I about to open up these wounds again even though I want to start over? And to a stranger who was lucky enough to see me when I was about to die? Wait a minute... Shade told me EVERYTHING about his life without hesitation. He wasn't even worried that I would call him a freak after the experiments done on him. Maybe I should talk about everything, but I really need to eat these berries; I'm glad Shade and I get to enjoy them instead of giving them away as some kind of payment. Before I could ask, Shade rolled over a variety of berries to me. I looked down at them nervously before eating. After I'm done, we're going to talk.

    Oh no, I don't think I can do this! I have to tell him. Deep breath Ruby, I'm sure he'll understand. Hold on, he's smiling? Hmmm, maybe I can do this. We walk over to the bed and I want him to go in first because I have no idea how much room I'll take up. After he gets in, I follow and we're right back at square one, only this time my face isn't buried in his chest. He looks so strong and confident, actually watching over a weakling like me instead of letting me become a meal.

    He snapped me out of my trance. "Comfy, Ruby?"

    Comfy is an understatement right now. The fire has been long out, but Shade's warmth is just as good. Blushing also is a way to make sure I'm warm. "Yes, I'm very comfy". Shade looked down at me as if he wanted me to start after hearing my response. However, he started it.

    "Now it's my turn to ask you a question Ruby" he said. "I know wild Espeon don't exist. Who was your trainer?"

    Oh Arceus, he went there. He went to the one place I wanted to avoid. I was going to tell him my time in the wild and that was it but nope, I'm on the spot now. Horrible memories of that battle were coming back in full force along with the abuse; any confidence I had was now gone. Wait a minute, he's petting me?

    "Baby steps Ruby, you can take as long as you want. We aren't going anywhere. Remember, no Pokémon in the forest would dare come in here." He's right; I can just tell him what happened. There's no reason for me to hold back and I can't shake this forever. He stopped petting me as I started.

    "Alright, but before that, I was obviously wild." He nodded in response. "I was born as the runt of the litter and because I was a runt, I was more of a problem than a daughter. My parents and siblings decided one day that I wasn't worth their time despite raising me for awhile. I guess they wanted to teach me the basics of life so I would have a chance to survive or they would feel less guilty about leaving me." Still looking at me he urged me to continue. "The only way I thought I could make it was to find a stone to evolve since I was far from happy so I searched high and low, day and night for one. Instead, I found a trainer named Sara who caught me after a battle. I could live to see another day since a human owned me and could protect me from danger."

    "How did you feel about that?"

    "Overjoyed to be honest. For the first time in my life I was extremely happy. Someone didn't care about my size and wanted me to succeed. Sara sent me into battle a lot after she caught me so I got the chance to show I could hold my own. I never won a match when it came to my siblings but Sara helped me remain undefeated before my only loss as..." I started to shudder as the images of that forsaken moat filled my head and it got worse when I was ready to explain the battle. This time, Shade was here beside me, actually listening to me. I knew something soothing happened in my sleep because I would stop shaking and the nightmares would go away; the same feeling was coming back and Shade was giving off that feeling.

    He went back to petting me, trying to calm me down. "You don't have to go on if you don't want to. I understand the stress of a gym battle and what it can do to you."

    I shook my head in response. "No, I have to finish this. You already told me everything, now it's my turn."

    "It doesn't matter if I finished my story Ruby, what matters is how you finish the story. I want you to feel comfortable right now. Remember, my opinion of you will not change whether you finish or not."

    Shade's right, but I want everything out there. I motioned for him to keep petting me because it felt relaxing. "Okay, we went up against a dragon gym and the battle was 4 on 4 but Sara had five Pokémon. She got rid of a Swinub for the battle because it was too weak so I was in reserve. We started off with a quick knockout but then the battle went back and forth as we traded Pokémon until it was Kingdra versus me."

    "So Sara wanted you as the trump card?"

    "I was more like the last resort; I don't think Sara wanted me to battle. She had a Water Stone in her bag and an Ice Beam TM beside it so I was almost a Vaporeon. Anyway, she thought my size was going to win us the badge but we were wrong as Surf attacks flooded the field so I couldn't use my size while I was practically drowning. It was over until I evolved out of happiness for the battle. Since I had psychic powers, Sara tried to use them to her advantage. I wasn't used to my new form and couldn't use them without getting tired. With combination attacks by Kingdra, I was powerless. A Hyper Beam was the last attack I saw before I dropped to the ground."

    By this point, I was starting to curl up tight into a ball and wince because I knew what was coming next. I don't care about the bone bruises hurting as I curled up. Too bad Shade cared.

    "Ruby, you do a terrible job of hiding pain" he said with a light smile on his face. "You don't need to hurt yourself anymore, mentally or physically."

    By this point, I knew I could trust Shade, but he was going above and beyond for me. I'm not a believer in love at first sight, but he's doing a good job of proving me wrong. If he honestly didn't care, I would be dead right now or even worse. "I'm almost done, but I don't know if I can get through this next part. I need to get it out though." He nodded and we just stayed in the bed silently while he continued to pet me. Warmth and sleep overtook me before I could finish so Shade waited patiently until I woke up about an hour later. Shade was still awake when I woke up, rubbing my head very slowly. He showed no signs of ever falling asleep. That's it, I'm going to finish this with him right here.

    "After the battle, Clair gave my master a long lecture on how she wasn't a good trainer. Sara took everything in while Clair left the gym with the judge to do something else. Something was wrong in that moment because I wasn't called into my ball. Instead, I was picked up by the scruff of my neck; it was the beginning of pure hell." Fast, deep breaths came up instantly but I'll be damned if I don't finish. "I was slapped... kicked... stomped on... punched... and was yelled at for hours andthenandthenandthenand..." All I could do was speed up while the flashback continued until I felt a paw on my lips; I looked up.

    "That's enough Ruby. I don't need to hear anymore."

    "But Shade, I wasn't done..."

    He whispered in my ear. "Shhhhhh. That will never happen again. Look at me Ruby." The fire in his eyes would make Entei tremble in fear. "If anyone were to hurt you like that again on my watch, they wouldn't live to see another minute."

    Why not go that far any forest Pokémon?"

    "They don't know what it's like to work toward a badge because they've never been caught by a trainer. They're all selfish because they try to stay alive by killing any Pokémon they see as a threat here. Young ones are sometimes used as hostages in bargaining. I've heard too many scenarios where there is no happy ending. There are no limits out here."

    That was horrible to hear. Now I'm grateful that my family stayed with me that long, but I have to ask him now. "Why would you go that far for me Shade?"

    "As for you, I had a feeling that Tom saved me from something when I was younger. I had to save myself from being someone's permanent experiment. Now, it's my turn to save someone else and you, Ruby, are that someone. There is no way on Arceus' green earth that I will let you suffer because of one loss. And if any trainer catches you, I will fight like hell to get you back or die trying. That is a promise."

    "Shade, I... I..." I was utterly stunned at what I just heard. Could I really believe Shade's words? This wasn't that same level of kindness that Sara gave me when she met me; it was on a higher level. He kept the fire in his eyes until he took a deep breath.
    "Thank you for telling me everything Ruby. Now that I think about it, my opinion of you has changed. You're not just a scrappy fighter, you're brave too."

    Soon we were nuzzling each other, but I ended up kissing his maw on accident, which he returned. Despite the cold, howling wind outside, I started to fall asleep yet again. Sometimes it got into our den but I only had to shiver one time. After that shiver, I got really cold for a few seconds before I was warm again. All I could see was black with a touch of yellow and if I wanted to look up, I could see the face of someone who has done so much these past few days even though I was asleep for most of them.

    "I'm not going to let a little wind ruin your first peaceful night of sleep" Shade whispered into my ear as I curled closer to him, getting warmer and sleepier as he blocked the wind from reaching me. I stayed awake just long enough to hear his lullaby before I finally closed my eyes.
  6. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 6- Putting in Work

    Ruby's P.O.V.

    Despite being the "Sun Pokémon" I still wanted to sleep longer as I heard some young Pokémon playing near our den. I mean, it's technically Shade's den but he decided to share it with me. That speech about fighting for me still rang in my head and offering shelter for free was just a step on the road to becoming stronger. I stirred before I opened my eyes, expecting Shade to still be asleep; nope, he was wide awake. He must have felt me moving so he slowly let his rings get brighter until I rubbed my eyes open. His face was the first thing I saw after the sleep, yet it still felt like I was dreaming.

    "Good morning sleepy head" he said with a smile on his face.

    "How are you awake? I thought Umbreon were Pokémon of the night? Ya know, they sleep through the day?"

    He had to think about his response for awhile. "Normally we are, but being with a trainer can change any Pokémon's behavior. However, we still can still go back to our natural instincts if we want."

    I have yet to see Shade not answer any one of my questions. Honestly, I want to stump him one time. I don't know when, but sometime it has to happen. He can't have an answer for everything can he?

    I didn't want him to let go of me but the day has to start sometime. We walked over to our huge berry collection to pick out breakfast before chowing down. Before I was done eating, I noticed Shade was staring at me.

    "Ruby, I have an idea for today." That got my attention since all I did was sleep for the past few days.

    "Okay, what's your idea?"

    "I think it's time to train."

    "Well what exactly are we training? Are we working on speed? Stamina? Come on, tell me!"

    "Not 'we', more like 'you' Ruby. Together, we will work toward improving your psychic skills but since I don't have any powers like yours, only you'll benefit from this. I'm just going to help you through it."

    Shade has a point. Improving my psychic abilities would be a huge boost for my confidence. It comes down to a matter of what I have to do. Hopefully it won't be something too bad. Looking at him, I nodded and finished my breakfast. As we stepped outside and started walking to our training area, I realized how beautiful the forest actually was. Trees were lined up perfectly, Pokémon were playing off to the sides of the paths, couples casually walking by one another, and all the smiles. Was this really the same forest that apparently came after me on that night?

    I tried to make the uneasiness in my head go away but I had to ask Shade about the change of environment. "Shade, why does everyone look so happy? I thought that the forest was a terrible place."

    He continued walking ahead of me while answering. "Long story short, this is my territory. I attacked a ruthless Pinsir after he attacked me and said I was in its territory. Unlike what most Pokémon would have done, I let it live so now the Pokémon around my den aren't afraid of me. Pinsir was a savage by demanding something whenever he felt like it. If you couldn't bring what he wanted to him, then your time in the forest was limited. But under my so called reign, everyone is happy because they see the kindness that I wanted Tom to see." His reasoning put everything into perspective, but he stopped waking and turned to me. "What you saw that night was out of my territory. I don't know whose it was, but that Noctowl was some kind of guard. My Pokémon are the least hostile in this forest, or at least they don't try to attack me for dominance; most of them saw the battle." Just the line about it being his territory made me feel at ease so I opted not to ask about other territories and the complex network of so called rulers.

    Before long, we were at a pond that seemed way off the beaten path. As soon as some Psyduck saw us, Shade told them that there was some training going on. That didn't seem to make them feel any better until they realized they weren't going to be training dummies. Relieved, they went back to playing in the pond. While Shade wandered off to get the stuff I needed, I took in my surroundings yet again. Fruit covered the trees while there were some large rocks on the side of the pond.
    *THUD.* Well, one tree doesn't have fruit anymore.

    I watched the Psyduck play until Shade came back with a decent amount of fruit wrapped in a ball of string. Maybe he had a Weedle use String Shot to help him. He bit some strands and the fruit rolled all over the place; he sighed as if that's not what he wanted to do first.

    "This will do I guess. Okay Ruby, I want you to start by picking up this apple." Is he serious? I'm not that bad with my powers. Whatever, might as well. My eyes started to glow and the apple easily came up to my head before I dropped it back down. "Alright, pick up the apple and the pear." Again, a piece of cake... err, fruit I guess. "Now, pick up nine pieces by you." Fine, I don't see how this is helping me. Glowing eyes and all, I picked up the fruit.

    "How is this going to help me again?"

    "Hold on, hold on. You picked up one... two... three... four... sixteen pieces. This is a major problem."

    I dropped the fruit and tilted my head in confusion. "Why? I can pick up more than you told me. I'd like to think that's a good thing."

    "One factor in you getting tired from using psychic powers is using too much energy." I still looked lost so he kept going. "You have to survey the area and limit how much power you use. Combination attacks are sometimes launched so it's best to know which ones to go all out on."

    A light bulb popped in my head. I realized I was got tired against Kingdra because I panicked and wanted the most protection possible so I used more energy in the shields. It probably didn't help that I used one shield on that Hyper Beam attack. Now I'm glad I told him everything about that horrible battle. But still, there has to be more than this.

    "So now what Shade?"

    "Do it again, nine pieces." This time it was a success. Surveying the area, I focused on the pieces I wanted to pick up and it was done. He came over for the second step of the exercise. "I'll be calling out two numbers in a row. Lift the first number then drop the second number."

    "But wouldn't that get me tired faster?"

    "Yeah, but you'll be eating some fruit to regain energy. The point of this is to see how well you can react to changes. Sometimes I'll be calling out the numbers fast, other times I'll wait a little before calling out numbers. We won't be doing this for too long."

    I was a pro at this new game Shade planned. I could almost predict the number I had to drop until he changed speeds. The longer I waited, the more likely I was going to drop the wrong amount. The worst was when he went from a high number like eleven to a number like six. I took longer so I wouldn't drop the wrong amount; sometimes I took too long and Shade would say the round is a failure. Fatigue was starting to set in, so I ate an apple to get some energy back. The second wind helped and I could do the drill flawlessly.

    After he said the round was over, I was pretty confident. "Not bad for a beginner, right?"

    "I guess, now we're going to a new exercise."

    "What's tha..." *SPLAT*

    "Add a moving target this time" Shade answered, smiling at his pear that was over my face. "I'm going to throw some fruit at you and see if you can stop it. I'll start easy but I promise I'll make it harder." Oh wonderful, I might smell like pear juice but it makes sense to give me something harder to do. Shaking off the result of his sneak attack, I readied myself for the fruit salad coming at me. By this time, the Psyduck were really concerned that they were going to be a part of this so they left; Shade apologized as they left. He may be strong, but he does have a kind heart.

    Placing fruit on the ground next to me was pretty easy when it was one at a time. And then he decided to throw multiple pieces at me. Still, nothing reached me. He saw I was picking up the concept quickly so he made it even harder. A pile of thirty pieces seemed to come at me so I stopped them all.

    "Is that the best you got?" I asked with a smirk on my face. He just shook his head and walked over to me.

    "You did it again Ruby."

    "What do you mean? All of those were going to hit me."

    "Not exactly." Confused, I looked around my area for any clue as to why I made the same mistake as last time. My face was all he needed to see to tell me what I was not getting. "Take a look at the large pile in front of you. There are only twenty pieces there. Five are rolling at a Slugma's pace and five are so high up, they'll fly over your head. You've wasted energy on things that won't even touch you and that can be the difference in battle. I know something that will make this a little more interesting. Wait here."

    All I could do was sigh in annoyance. Damn, I'm wasting energy again. But it's not my fault. There's no way I could have seen those ten pieces being useless because the blob of twenty was coming straight at me! More importantly, what was this extra thing he was going to add? Before long, Shade came back with a Geodude beside him.

    "I'm confused Shade, what's he doing here?"

    "My Geodude partner here will be helping for this round. He'll be throwing rocks at you while I throw fruit at you." A jaw dropping statement for someone who wanted to "help" me. Can't wait to hear the logic behind this one. "This represents combination attacks. Fruit is the thing you should dodge while using Confusion to stop the rocks. It's pretty simple. Now watch out for a rock and a piece of fruit coming at the same time. It's possible to hold your concentration while being attacked but you might not get the hang of it so quickly. After this, we'll have one more drill."

    Before I took my battle stance, I noticed that the Geodude wasn't too powerful. It was actually smaller than a normal one, but that doesn't mean those Rock Throws are going to hurt less. Still, I want no interruptions during this round. When in doubt, get hit by the fruit and avoid the rocks but don't stop the fruit. Okay Ruby, you can do this. What's a little rock to a combination Surf attack or a fully charged Hyper Beam? Nothing at all.

    Once I was ready to go, Shade threw the first fruit. After I dodged it he turned to Geodude and nodded; that's when it got chaotic. Rocks and fruit were coming from all directions until I calmed down and used my psychic powers to stop some of the rocks. Nice, I can stop these things but what about the fruit right behind it? Better duck. Wait, the rock in front of me dropped to the ground? Damn, I guess I can't hold my concentration. Oh well, I want to finish the exercise without stopping.

    The onslaught continued until Shade ran out of fruit and the young Geodude couldn't throw rocks anymore. I smirked as Shade sent his partner away; this exercise was a complete success. Ah, he's coming over to talk about what's going to happen next.

    "Wow Ruby! That was one hell of a show, and I didn't see anything easy being missed. I saw you drop a rock when you went to duck, but that's something to work on for later. Now for our last drill, you have to battle me."

    "I guess, but why? You're better than me in every way when it comes to battles." Well then, things from zero to light speed real quick. Battle him? There's no way I could win. He has more speed, more power, more experience in battle, and most importantly type advantage.

    He took a deep breath before answering me. "You know how I was experimented on by those people? They were dumb enough to give me a really strong move with my typing so it's even more powerful. I want to see if you can stop it or at least deflect it. I know that we've been out here awhile training and all, but I just want to see what you can do." Somehow, I managed to nod after hearing that I have to stop a super charged attack from Shade.

    Like a duel, we stood tail to tail and counted off steps until we were a good distance away from each other. In my panicked state, my steps were larger so Shade asked me to come a little closer to him. He let me start our little battle whenever I was ready. There was no point to waiting, so I told him to go.

    Shade drew a sharp breath before launching a blast of pure darkness from his maw. I readied myself by building up power and as it came to me, I let it go. Eyes glowing, I held the blast in place before tossing it aside. Despite being tired from the previous exercises, I managed to deflect it? He smiled at me from across our makeshift field and got ready for a second one. This time, I knew I couldn't fully stop it but I could deflect it. As the move was deflected, Shade was getting a new one ready. How long can I keep this up? Unfortunately, not for too long. I made a shield around myself as if I was facing Kingdra again for the third attack but the fourth one connected and I was sent backwards toward a pile of fruit. Shade knew it was time to call it a day as he trotted over.

    "Hey Ruby, I think we're done for to..." *SPLAT*

    "Revenge is sweet, but not as sweet as these strawberries on you right now" I said with a smile on my face, admiring them as they were smashed on the top of his head.

    Shade waited until the strawberries came down to his mouth before snapping at them and then smiling at me. "Touché, but I only used one pear. You used a dozen strawberries so that's cheating."

    I helped clean him up before we finished whatever fruit wasn't destroyed in the training. We started to walk back to the den once we saw the sun was starting to set but I was too tired to keep up with Shade. He had me get on his back just like the first night so I started to fall asleep, but he kept his rings glowing so I couldn't go to sleep. Before we were too deep in our sleep, I could feel one Pokémon near our den. All I could sense was that it was not like the ones near us. After we settled into bed, Shade sung his lullaby to me so I could fall asleep peacefully.
  7. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 7-Danger

    Shade's P.O.V.

    That first training session went well, so we decided that we would do something different every day to improve. A daily routine was nice to get into because it gave both of us a sense of time (and something to do) out here in this dense forest. Ruby has gained some confidence in her abilities and she finally knows why she can't just use her power freely while I've gotten stronger with my dark energy blast. I was told by some poison types that my purple substance was from a move called Toxic. After an explanation, I realized why all of the guards dropped to the floor during my escape from the lab, but didn't give up right away. Unfortunately, I still don't know the actual name of this powerful dark blast but I do know it's cool to use. Fingers crossed that it's a cool name.

    Like in weeks past, Ruby is always tired when she is done with her training. However, she keeps telling me that there is a Pokémon that isn't like the other ones here and that it's really close to the den. I heeded her warning and asked around for any suspicious Pokémon, but nobody had an answer for me. Other than that, life has been pretty good so far. Memories of Tom and Quilava occasionally come back to me but I have to deal with the fact they're gone; I'm not sure if I ever can. I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to battle for a badge again, but there always room to get stronger.

    Ruby woke up after me as usual so I waited for her to finish eating before we headed out for our training. Today was going to be different. We were going to see if we could handle larger boulders with me trying to break them and seeing if Ruby could move them.

    "Hey Ruby?"

    She took a moment to finish her berry. "Yeah?"

    "We're going to Mount Mortar today to see if our skills have gotten better. You up for some hiking?" As soon as those words left my mouth I cringed. Probably should've phrased it better than that but she was on board with the plan anyway. Luckily for us, my territory was big so we could get to the base of Mt. Mortar without too much trouble.

    After a long time trying to maneuver through my territory, we got to the exit. Beautiful hills met us at the base while the rocky terrain was showing in the distance. Nature has a way of showing off so we're returning the favor with our training. Before we pressed onward, Ruby pawed at me. A look of concern was on her face.

    "Shade, I don't know the last time you left the forest but you have to watch out for trainers." Huh, I hadn't thought about being caught ever since the escape but I would be furious if I was caught by surprise.

    "Then let's go higher up. There will be more caves to hide in and bigger boulders to train with; sounds like a win-win to me."

    Climbing Mt. Mortar wasn't that hard which meant we could enjoy the view on the way up. Despite it being hot down by the base, it cooled down once we got to a cave to train in. It was surprisingly empty cave considering Zubats practically own any cave. Seeing the large rocks hanging from the ceiling and the massive boulders scattered around, it made sense that nobody was home; any Zubat would have a hard time communicating with all of that interference. The only question is how much time we should spend here.

    "Ruby, we won't stay here too long even though it's almost midday. I want to make sure we can get down the mountain with the sun still up."

    She nodded in response. "That makes sense. Plus we have to watch out for trainers on the way back too." We finally have a plan. Perfect, now let's get down to business.

    I pointed to show her where to start. "See that icicle looking rock hanging from the ceiling right over there? See if you can break it off with your psychic powers and move it over here."

    Turning to me, Ruby put her head down, smiled and shook her head. "Tsk-tsk Shade, they're called stalactites. You may be stronger but it looks like I'm the brains here" she said jokingly. I was at a loss for words, standing there dumbstruck; she eventually snapped me out of my trance. "Aaaanywayyyyy, I'll give it a try." Her eyes glowed as the rock, I mean stalactite, cracked and floated over to us. Ruby didn't appear to be exhausted at all but man this thing was heavy.

    "Not bad. Could you do it to another?" Yet again, she broke off a huge one and placed it beside us. "All right, this one's even heavier. How are you feeling?"

    "Fine, I'm not tired."

    "Good, now I need you to help me."

    "What do I need to do Shade?"

    "I need you to roll some boulders away from the wall and put them in a more open area. Now you can watch me for a change."
    One boulder was rolled into the center of the large cave as I took a deep breath. Ruby trotted over next to me, obviously not wanting to get hit with my attack. I launched my attack and the boulder crumbled into hundreds of tiny little pieces. I wanted something more, something I haven't done in a long time. I motioned for bigger boulder to be placed in the same spot. Instead of my new move, I opted for my strongest move. I charged it up before Ruby stopped me.

    "Hold on Shade! You can't be serious can you? Running into that thing could kill you!" I stopped and turned to her, putting on a gentle smile.

    "I've gotten rusty with the move that gave me good memories. Let's see if I still have it." Oh boy, she's sweating like crazy right now; time to put an end to that. I charged up my Faint Attack and sprinted forward. When it was all said and done, I stood on the other side of the cave panting heavily. The boulder turned into a fine powder and Ruby's jaw dropped. Describing the drill as successful would be an understatement.

    "S-s-shade... what was that?" she whispered.

    I tried to play it cool since I'm guessing she's seen that only one time, and that was when she was teetering on the edge of death. "Thaaaaaat was my Faint Attack" I said playfully. "It's my strongest move, not the one those bastards gave me. Sure, it's a nice ranged attack but Faint Attack never fails to get the job done."

    Once she pulled herself together, I did it again. We both got a nice workout for the next two hours. Ruby kept moving large rocks around while I got the satisfaction of making my attacks stronger. Those scientists tried to manipulate my moves and they somehow made it so I could remember more than four. Unfortunately, my Bite attack wasn't that strong so I opted not to go after any rock with that attack. Quick Attack fell under the same category. Realizing that we were running out of rocks, we walked near the entrance and sat down. Afternoon shadows were being cast over the land below; what a relaxing sight. That and turning to see Ruby placing her head on my neck was pretty relaxing too.

    "Can we please stay here a little longer Shade? It's too beautiful to leave right now. "

    "Ummmm no." She frowned. Too easy. "I'm kidding Ruby. Honestly, I've never seen something like this in my lifetime. Tom would have loved this."

    I swear I'm going to make her hate me one day. For now, it's time to stare at the world below.
    Once it started to get a little colder, we decided to head back down to the forest. Heading down was just as easy as climbing up except for the occasional trainer scaling the mountain. Every large rock was our friend because trainers couldn't see us from a distance and most of the rocks were really off the path. To be fair, hiding behind a sleeping Graveler works just as well. Honestly, who wants to deal with an angry Pokémon in an area that's not stable? We made it to the base of the mountain and made a mad dash for the forest. Ruby made it but I couldn't make it to the forest fast enough.

    "Oh woooooow! A wild Umbreon! Let's see if I can get it" the male trainer said with a smirk on his face. Ruby was trembling in the bushes, but I just gave her a head nod. He must have been inexperienced because he only had one Pokémon. A ball landed a few feet away from me and out came a Beedrill. Okay then, show time.

    "Fury Attack, let's go!"

    It came at me slower than previous opponents but I didn't take it lightly. Easily dodging, I rammed it with a Quick Attack. Taken aback, the trainer ordered a Twineedle hoping the super effective move would deal some damage; it found its mark and I felt it. Wincing in pain, I tried my long ranged attack. Beedrill just flew side to side. I guess it was going to be a close combat match.

    "Twineedle again!"

    It came at me for round two and I decided a Bite attack would scare it off. Beedrill didn't appreciate getting bit and tried to attack again; he flinched.

    "Get away and use Pin Missile!" Damn, I didn't want it to get away from me.

    Beedrill shook me off and fired a shower of pins toward me. Dodging was out of the question since the attack was coming from all directions. The barrage hit me for some decent damage but it wasn't enough. I decided to end this battle with a powered down Faint Attack because the one during training would have to be reserved for dire situations. My move hit and the battle was over, or so I thought.

    "Beedrill return. Great Ball, go!"

    What? Is this trainer stupid? He knows the risk he's taking. He knows I can come straight at him and injure him with his only Pokémon down. Well, it doesn't matter because I can use Quick Attack to dodge the ball. A second one came a little too close for my comfort so I decided to book it. Ruby saw me sprinting toward her, so she took the cue to flee into the woods. We kept running until we were too tired to run.

    Ruby wanted the first word after we stopped. "Are you alright? I saw you take some damage back there."

    I checked my body for anything serious. "I'm all good. A berry would be nice but it's nothing I can't handle." I scanned the area we just entered. Oh no, this isn't the same area of the forest we exited. That damn trainer made me run into another territory. "Ruby, I need you to listen to me very carefully. We're not in my territory anymore. Stay close to me and look straight ahead. Do not show any signs of being scared."

    Her eyes went wide "So now what?"

    "Finding our way back won't be easy, but I know it when we'll be nearby. You have to trust me on this."
    Navigating our way through the area was a tedious process. Some Pokémon gave us a blank stare as we were walking by which didn't surprise me. Others pretended not to notice that were outsiders. Sunlight was fading away while we continued to walk. Soon, we were really off the beaten path with no Pokémon around.

    "I know you're not from around here" a voice said from the bushes. I turned to the side to see a Pinsir coming out. "It's been awhile, you freak."

    Uh oh, it's that same Pinsir from a long time ago. "Likewise. What do you want?" Ruby started to show signs of nervousness.

    "You see, since that defeat I've wandered the forest trying to find a new home but I realized I couldn't rule like I used to. So, I decided to be an asset to the ruler of this territory."

    "And you are special how?"

    He turned to Ruby. "I'm the executioner for my fellow bug type ruler Ariados. You see, he really doesn't like outsiders. Frankly, I was going to kill you both in your den but your whining kept me from doing it. Now I finally have my chance." Ruby really was shaking at this point. "My dear, you look quite nervous. I can get rid of that feeling for you... and all of your other feelings."

    That's it, the gauntlet has been thrown. "Ruby, stay back." Now she was on the verge of breaking down. I turned to her and pressed my head against hers; it calmed her down. "That promise I made earlier about you getting hurt again is no joke. I love you."

    Pinsir had no choice but to chime in. "Awww how sweet, you're willing to die for her. Good news for me considering she's going to die anyway, so why not add you too?"

    Wow, he really doesn't get it. "Since I'm a kind ruler of my territory, I'll let you in on a secret. DO NOT give me any extra motivation. It's the dumbest thing you can do."

    Ruby backed up and I let my rings get brighter. Did I care it was giving Pinsir an advantage as the sun set? No. This is so Ruby knows I'm alive.

    He came at me with fists glowing; a Brick Break. A Quick Attack was the best option to dodge, but it wasn't fast enough as I got nicked near my hind leg. This wasn't the same Pinsir as last time so I thought about how to attack. He's obviously going to hit me hard every time so let's see how long I can stall. Can't afford to be reckless unless the time is right. Again, he came at me with arms crossed but my leg tweaked a little so dodging would be an adventure. This time I couldn't fully dodge the X-Scissor and it made the barrage from that Pin Missile feel like nothing.

    "It's your unlucky day you freak. Last I checked I only have moves that are super effective against you. What are other two? If you live long enough then you'll find out." Time to shut him up for awhile.

    I fired my ranged attack and to my pleasure, it hit him for massive damage. Staggering back from my move, I used Quick Attack to make sure I knocked him over. Combination attacks work very well. It's too bad Ruby was on the receiving end of them from a gym leader. He struggled to get up, but it was a good bluff; he came at me with even more force than before. I shook my head to regain my senses.

    "Revenge. It's not just a word you know. Thanks to your stupidity my attack doubled."

    Yet again, he came in for a Brick Break so I decided to fight him head on with Faint Attack. I can't afford to hold back anything. Calling it a collision would be a disservice to the amount of power that radiated from the area. We both were head to head with our skulls ready to break, but I had the better angle so I used the force to slam him into a nearby tree. He may not admit it, but he's taking some massive damage. Killing him seemed easy in his state so I went in with Bite. He saw what I was doing and prepared his X-Scissor; I backed off. There's no reason to take that risk. Not when I have that ace up my sleeve.

    "Not much of a talker are you? It doesn't matter because you showed me your hand. I know all of your moves so I can prepare my counters for the rest of the battle. I hope you enjoyed those hits you got on me because you won't get another one."

    I grinned. "Don't say things like that unless you know it's gonna happen."

    He looked over my shoulder then flashed an evil smile. "Then you won't mind me telling you that your friend is about to enter a world of pain that's far worse than my world. I kill my prey really fast while Ariados loves to take his time."

    "SHADE, HELP!" I turned around to see Ruby being dragged away into a more dense part of the forest by a thick web.

    Calm down Shade, think for a second. If I go after her now, I guarantee Pinsir will not focus on me and go after her while she's defenseless. On the other hand, Ariados would probably torture her slowly until she broke. The best option isn't pretty but it's my only chance to get us out of this with as little damage done as possible.

    I have to finish this fight soon and hope Ariados takes his time.

    I hope Ruby can hold on long enough.

    Damn. It. All.
  8. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 8- Brutality

    Ruby's P.O.V.

    I had no idea that someone could hit that hard in a battle. Brick Break, Revenge, and X-Scissor are all moves that are super effective against Shade but Shade has nothing super effective to hit Pinsir. I also had no idea that Shade could hit harder. This is what happens when your life is on the line; how I wanted to have a fraction of that power so I could defend myself without getting tired. I watched them go at it for minutes until Shade went in for the kill. Compared to him, I really wasn't that wild of a Pokémon. I've never thought of killing anyone but what about Shade? He hasn't told me anything about his fights out here. Wait a second, he stopped? And now they're talking? I guess that X-Scissor scared him off. I see Pinisr's looking at me now. No... he's looking past me.

    The web caught on my hind legs before the mystery Pokémon started to drag me away. I screamed in the hopes that Shade would look over and save me. As he turned back (or so I hoped) I was already out of his sight because I was being dragged across the forest floor like a chew toy. Right now I fear Shade won't make it in time so I might as well scream to see if I can get anyone to help me.

    A cold voice came from the Pokémon dragging me. "I can't have you screaming and attracting some unwanted attention." Before I could even get the chance to reply, I was hit with a Night Shade. Despite the pain from the attack and being dragged along, I managed to lift my head up to see Ariados.

    I tried to keep my voice sounding steady as more cuts were added to my back for each foot I was being dragged. "What do you want with me?"

    He stopped and turned to me. "I don't have time for questions but I guess I'll give you an explanation. Shade may not know it but he owns a large amount of land. What does that have to do with me exactly? It's simple: I want it and I'll do anything to get it."

    "So you really have to kidnap me?"

    "Yes. No doubt he'll come after me since I took you. However, he should be barely be able to stand before me after my executioner is through with him." He got closer to my face. "I know that meathead Pinsir can't beat him but if he does then I'll simply carry... no, drag his corpse around to prove my point. That will show the Pokémon I am king of this entire forest. And as for you, you can be my queen. You can cover my weaknesses and I will cover yours. Together we will have a powerful reign."

    What a savage. Dragging the corpse of the only living being to help me through the forest as some kind of trophy? I'd rather die. I fired a wave of psychic energy at him; it hit but he seemed unfazed. I wanted to make sure my point got across so I spit his face after I got my head high enough. "There is no way on Arceus' green earth that I will EVER become your queen." Not saying a word, he turned around and continued to drag me for only a few more minutes before we reached our destination. It was a medium sized area with trees forming a tight circle. The entrance to the clearing was very narrow and near the back middle of the circle, there was one tree that was severely cut up.

    Ariados stopped yet again before moving deeper into the clearing. "Hold on." He wrapped me up in his web even more before placing me on his back. "We can't have our special prisoner under the influence of poison can we? I want the chance to put on a show for Shade." As he moved toward the tree, I looked down and didn't see a single blade of grass. Toxic spikes gave off a glowing purple aura along with a poisonous mist.

    "What is this place?"

    He continued to walk "Again with the questions? Tell you what, I'll answer this one shortly and then you won't have a chance to ask another." Once we reached the cut up tree, he used Spider Web to make a detailed web and placed me in it. One more shot from his Spider Web attack landed on my mouth. "Now that you can't interrupt me, welcome to my execution area. Toxic spikes cover the ground while this tree is where all the action takes place. Nobody has ever come out of this area alive although I've seen a few escape my web."

    My eyes went wide as he cut the webbing on me so that I was exposed yet still unable to move or talk. "Don't worry about anything yet because Shade's glow still radiates through the darkening forest. I'll wait until it dims down to start the show but first, let me steal some energy with Leech Life so you'll struggle more." Ariados left me to stare at the yellow glow in the distance by myself. I found myself getting tired and nauseous from the lingering smell of poison. Please Shade, keep lighting the darkness.
    Falling asleep was something I was used to, but I somehow did it under the most unusual circumstances. Upon waking up, I faintly heard bushes bristling and was eventually met with Ariados again. Only this time he brought three Arboks along; I guess they were his bodyguards. All four of them looked at me for a minute before talking amongst themselves then looking at me again.

    Ariados was the one who spoke to me. "Well, it seems Shade's battle is over since there's no light radiating. Now it's a matter of who's coming back to this area. I have no doubt Shade will find you here, but how much strength will he have left? Will he even be alive?" He motioned to an Arbok who moved within thirty feet of me. "Now it's time to start the show. Use Poison Sting."

    Shade was right; there were no limits out here. I screamed but it was obviously muffled by the web and panic started to set in. This is how they killed anyone who defied Ariados; this tree is their grave and Poison Sting is their favorite method. Hold on, I think I can put that training to good use and stall for time. Regaining my composure, I used my psychic powers to suspend the poison needles in midair before tossing them aside. Confused as to why I wasn't struggling, another round was fired at me. Again, I deflected the needles away from my body. So far so good, I'm not tired.

    "I don't think that will work for too much longer" Ariados commented. He nodded to his second bodyguard while pointing at me. Now two Arboks stood in front of me ready to fire but I didn't want to try to stop all of the needles because that would be wasting power. A shield would be a better option since I wasn't sure if I could accurately counterattack them. The needles bounced off my shield but now I was starting to feel the fatigue kick in. Leech Life and toxic fumes finally were starting to affect me. Arbok number three moved into position and fired with the other two. My shield went up again but it was much smaller than before. All of them looked back to Ariados.

    "Boss, it's not working."

    "You're right, try the second option."

    "Sir!" I only saw the middle one start to attack so I stopped all of his needles but I had to throw up my shield to stop the other two rounds. Staggered attacks? Now I'm in trouble because they can attack at random. Luckily, they kept attacking me in rapid succession before Ariados became frustrated.

    "What the hell is wrong with you? Ya know what? I'm all for a slow and painful death but this is taking too long; I'm joining in. We'll make this quick."

    Those words signaled my time was up. No more stalling. No more last second miracles. No more guessing games on who's going to attack when. No more hope. Wrong, I still have one hope. One Arbok turned to his partners and all four of them took the formation of a firing squad.

    "Ready! Aim! Fire!" Poison Sting attacks from all four of them came straight at me. I managed to throw up a shield to block the barrage; that was my last one. All out of energy, I can only wait for the next round and take the full attack. My one hope is still out there and I can hear bushes moving close by while they're getting ready to fire. Please make it in time.

    "Again. Ready! Aim! Fire!"

    Shade's P.O.V.

    With Ruby gone and Pinsir getting a second wind, I need to end this. So far I've only seen three of his moves which means he has something else in his arsenal. Could it be fatal to me? Hard to guess since he really doesn't want to use it. Thinking about it can wait since a Brick Break is coming. So reckless with his attacks.

    "It's been fun Shade. Ever since I lost to you I've been waiting for this exact moment but I think I want to watch your girlfriend suffer as well. Ariados does a good job with breaking his prisoners. Maybe I can pick up some tips on how to slaughter anyone who opposes us." Arms crossed, he charged at me with an X-Scissor after his attempt to break my concentration. I used Quick Attack to try to get behind him but that nick from earlier slowed me down to the point where I couldn't counterattack. To my surprise he did it again.

    Time to use the ace up my sleeve.

    Quick Attack gave me the speed to get behind him. Following up with Toxic never felt so satisfying as he checked himself for damage, only to find liquid poison all over his body.


    Pinsir was furious when he realized at what I just did. "HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?" As the poison went to work, he tried to conserve his energy. "We don't have the ability to remember more than four moves."

    I just gave him a straight face. "You said I was a freak and unfortunately you were right. When I first met you, I just escaped from a human laboratory. I won't bother you with the details but yeah, I can remember more than four moves."

    Enraged, he came at me with reckless abandon with his arms outstretched. This time I was clueless on what he was going to do since he wasn't glowing. Bite seemed to be the best option, but he picked me up and tried to slam me on my head. A second attempt followed with the same result happening. The poison seemed to be taking too long for my liking as he charged with arms wide open again. Not this time. I met him with a Quick Attack and sent him back.

    "Seismic Toss should have killed you two times over. How did your neck not snap?"

    "No clue." Probably not the answer he wanted to hear. Truth be told, he wasn't that far from killing me.

    I could see he was getting weaker from the poison so I charged in with Faint Attack as he charged in with Seismic Toss. There was no doubt with this collision. Pinsir was sent into a tree with so much force, I heard a crack before the tree fell over. Upon further inspection, I saw his spine really out of place in addition to the lack of breathing. Now I have to find Ruby.
    Finding her is not going to be easy and I doubt anyone is going to help me. Hmmm, my best bet is to go the way Ruby was dragged and pray that there are no turns on the way. Also, I have to dim my rings so that Ariados doesn't see me coming. Sorry Ruby, I can't blow my cover. Time to get going now that I started down this path... ouch. What was that?

    "Watch it ya klutz. I'm trying to hop back home."

    I looked down to see a young Pineco. "Sorry but I need to get going."

    "You don't understand mister. Now we have to fight since you decided to step on me and for knocking me out of that tree with Pinsir. Put 'em up."

    *Sigh* "Fine, if you say so." I just picked it up in my mouth and started walking. "Looks like I win. Now where would Ariados take a prisoner?"

    "How would I know?"

    "Listen kid, I used to have a chew toy growing up and I have yet to find a good replacement."

    That got Pineco very nervous. "I'll take you there but please don't hurt me." A perfect bluff. There was no way I would injure a child and become the thing I hate, especially after Ruby told me her story but I need to stay firm.

    "Deal, now tell me where to go."

    With Pineco in my mouth, he guided me through the maze that Ruby endured until we got to a clearing with trees forming a circle. Mother of Arceus! There wasn't grass here, only toxic spikes. However, I could make out four figures but no Ruby at first glance.

    "Well here we are. Now will ya put me down?"

    "Again. Ready! Aim! Fire!" These commands came from the other side of the clearing.

    "Once you clear these toxic spikes then you're free to go. You know Rapid Spin?" He nodded.

    Pineco did so and bolted into the surrounding trees. The clearing became easier to walk on and I saw a defenseless Ruby being pelted with Poison Sting attacks. Her muffled screams could be heard from my spot near the entrance. Once they sensed the absence of the toxic spikes, they moved toward me after finishing their attack. I saw Ruby in more detail after their barrage ended. The dark couldn't have been messing with me because Umbreon can see perfectly in the dark. She was strung up with a web over her mouth in addition to the numerous red cuts all over her body. The worst was a large gash on her side about nine inches long. Rage finally overtook me when I saw her eyes were closed and her chest slowly rising and falling.

    Ariados spoke from behind his three guards. "I knew Pinsir wouldn't kill you. So, what do you think of our show? Good marksmanship if I say so myself."

    Before I lost it, I started counting. My rings returned to their glorious yellow; it was the same as when I rescued Ruby the first time. Adrenaline was rushing through me and I became a blur. My dark blast attack knocked an Arbok into a tree with tremendous force. Like Pinsir, the impact was too much for it to handle. The second one met the same fate, but with Quick Attack as my move choice. As for the third one, it tried to launch a Poison Sting but my Bite was faster. I quickly found its neck and dug in with my teeth until I heard a satisfying crack. I then shook him like a common chew toy to make sure the job was done.

    I turned to Ariados. "You're next."

    Ruby started to open her eyes as my rings turned the darkness into something out of a fairy tale. She saw Ariados go for Leech Life while I went for Faint Attack. I felt my energy being sucked out of me but it didn't matter because the force I hit him with was enough to shatter bones without the help of a tree. Once I located his crippled body, I jumped as high as I could and used Quick Attack while aiming for his head. The move connected and I knew he wasn't going to say another word to anyone.

    57 seconds was the final time.

    Still on the adrenaline rush, I sprinted over to the web that held Ruby. I bit through the parts that held her and removed the web over her mouth by nibbling at it very carefully. It eventually went away and she immediately started to kiss me.

    She was holding back tears and shivering as she broke the kiss. "S-s-s-s-shade thank Arceus!"

    All I wanted to do was embrace her but I was afraid of hurting her more. "I'm right here. Please Ruby, we have to go home now. I'm getting a feeling that we are close to my territory. I promise when we're there, we can... we can..." I can't find the right words to say.

    "You're right, but I can't walk. Can you carry me?" She said very weakly.

    I tried to keep the panic in my voice to a minimum. "That was never in doubt. Are you poisoned?" She nodded. "Damn. Ummmm, hold on one second. I'll be back in a flash." I really didn't want to leave her but there has to be something around here. All I could find were berries that restored energy not cure poison. Doesn't matter, she needs something to keep her alive.

    Ruby tried eating the berries but was in too much pain after the first one. However, some of her smaller cuts started to heal. I went to pick her up and noticed she had a fever. If I wanted to keep her alive, we needed to get back to the den soon. Our berry collection should have something to cure her.

    "Hey Shade?"

    "Yes Ruby?"

    "Please, keep your rings bright."

    "I have to dim them a little for you. I don't want anyone coming after us."

    "I was scared when you dimmed them. Ariados waited for that moment." Damn that spider. He knew that I didn't want to give my position away.

    "Alright, but it's going to be a bumpy ride. You sure about this?"

    She smiled at me. "I want them bright so I can officially call you my knight in shining armor."

    Wow. Even facing the very real possibility of death she finds a way to smile while cracking a joke, even if it's cheesy.

    I nuzzled her forehead and kissed her one more time before I placed her on my back and sprinted back toward our home.
  9. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 9- A Desperate Situation

    Shade's P.O.V.

    Darkness. For some Pokémon it's something that is to be feared. For me, I'm in my element. Most forest Pokémon are asleep by now but I'm wide awake. Darkness is providing me the perfect cover to get Ruby home alive. Only problem is that my rings are lit up. She asked for it and for her, I'll keep them bright. Besides, I'm fast enough so that anybody who saw my streak of light couldn't catch me. I didn't think about it at the time but keeping my rigs lit makes it harder for her to fall asleep.

    There is no way I could say I'm tired right now even though I've fought in two brutal battles. Pinsir fought to kill me. Ariados tried to steal enough energy so that I would be forced to watch Ruby suffer even more. It didn't matter that I took massive damage or that I got nicked in the leg, what matters is having enough energy to sprint back without stopping. For if I stop at any time that energy would go to waste.

    My territory was closer than I expected so that was one less thing to worry about once I was actually in it. The edge of my territory was pretty vast and open which allowed me to sprint at full speed while looking back at Ruby occasionally to make sure she was still alive. She was still conscious which was good, but her breathing was becoming more labored. How I wish there were berries that cured poison right in front of me.

    "Shade, how much longer?" Ruby said very weakly.

    "Can't be much further." Now I was starting to sprint even faster. Adrenaline is the only thing that I feel. No pain. No fatigue. No guilt considering I just lied to her in her disoriented state.

    Grassy plain turned into dense forest as Ruby was starting to close her eyes. To make matters worse, the wind is picking up and it's getting cooler; a thunderstorm is coming. Taking cover would be risky because Ruby isn't getting better anytime soon and there's no guarantee of any medicine nearby. The dense forest makes it so I have to slow down while turning corners. Unfortunately I'm losing my adrenaline rush and the pain is starting to seep in. At this point I need to rely on my willpower to keep going.

    I made yet another right turn, but not before I saw an orange glow on the other side of some thorny bushes; can't chance jumping them with the circumstances. After going up a dirt path, I made the left turn to head toward the orange glow. I planted the hind leg that Pinsir nicked and I heard a loud pop; easily a dislocated hip. Ruby flew forward toward the orange light as I immediately dropped to the ground.

    "Ooooooh" she moaned in pain. Losing consciousnesses was going to be easier after she hit the ground.

    My calm demeanor was shattered. "SHIT! I'm sorry Ruby." I could only crawl in her direction. Now the pain was going away in favor of adrenaline but it doesn't matter since I can't walk anymore.

    That orange glow was a campfire. Next to it, a human was sitting on some kind of tripod stool. By the looks of it, the human had four Poké Balls on his belt but nobody was next to him. Oh Arceus... it's a trainer. It stood up once it saw Ruby fly into his line of sight by the campfire. I crawled even faster and somehow managed to get in front of her. The trainer almost looked like Tom in the light. He was about six feet tall with short brown hair wearing a beat up windbreaker and dirty hiking pants.

    "Arceus, what happened to you two?" He asked as he continued to approach; I growled.

    I saw him pull out a Pokédex. "Umbreon. Male. Moves: Bite/Faint Attack/Quick Attack/Toxic/Dark Pulse." Oh, I like the sound of Dark Pulse. Wait, now's not the time for that. "Espeon. Female. Moves: Tackle/Quick Attack/Confusion/Swift."

    "Ruby please! Wake up! We have to get out of here."

    "Mmmmmggghh." Not the reply I wanted to hear. Well, I have to keep my promise from earlier. I will fight like hell to move her and I will die trying to protect her. Maybe I might join her standing in front of Arceus since there are no berries around and the poison is taking its toll. The trainer bent over to reach inside his bag. My instinct was to bite his forearm because I expected the worst. I expected him to fight back or call out one of his Pokémon to finish me off before doing who knows what to Ruby.

    The trainer didn't seem to register pain despite my teeth digging into his flesh. Actually, he was rubbing my head. Was I that weak right now? "Based on what I saw in the past minute I know you care for her." He looked at me with concern in his eyes. "Please, let me see if I have something, anything in my bag. She's got a high fever and labored breathing, signs of poison." Arceus dammit. We're in a bad spot but I have no choice to trust him and let him potentially hurt Ruby. I let go of his arm and he went back to digging through his bag.

    He dumped his bag after not finding what he wanted fast enough. Man, this guy has a massive collection of items. Finally the item came out that would save Ruby: an antidote. I turned toward her and noticed her breathing was extremely quiet. The trainer gave it to her and she immediately was rolling around in pain and coughing; I was growling even louder than last time.

    "Easy, easy. It'll take awhile before she'll be fully healed. I promise her poison will go away with some rest." I stopped growling. How long had it been since I've seen an item made by a human? Guess they take longer to work than berries. Regardless, she'll live. Now the question is what to do now? I tried to stand up to get closer to her.

    He noticed my obvious struggling and eventually found out why. "Your hip is out of its socket. I need to put it back it so you can at least stand up." I didn't even fight it as he turned his attention to me. "On three I'll pop it back in." This is going to suck. "One. Two. Three." My hip went right back in as I yelped in pain. Checking his work was pretty easy even though I couldn't stay up that long.

    Ruby called over to me semi-consciously. "Shade." I limped over to her and knelt down beside her. "I can't move at all. That poison took too much out of me. Even if you carried me back to the den, I would keep falling off. We have to take cover for the night."

    "It's a long shot but we need to trust this human. He has four Pokémon on him and based on how we are now, he might try to protect us if something comes by. The den is still too far away and I can't battle wild Pokémon to protect you in my condition."

    She started to cry. "I just wanna go home."

    I tried comforting her. "He saved you and popped my hip back in place instead of immediately catching us, two rare Pokémon. When he went to get the antidote I bit him yet he didn't panic or fight back. I'm not leaving your side and you know I'll fight if I have to."

    He came over to us after a drop of rain landed on the ground. "The rain's coming. You may be headed somewhere but you're in no condition to be traveling. You're staying in my tent tonight."

    The general idea was that Ruby and I were okay with this trainer. Now I know we made the right call. Still, I was nervous about what would happen throughout the night. Rain was coming down so I went to get Ruby on my back. Once she was on, I tried walking to the tent but collapsed from the pain of the previous battles as well as the pain from the actual hip dislocation; I started to cry too. I hadn't cried since Tom picked me up from the ranch. Never before have I ever been this helpless. There was too much on the line and I couldn't do anything about it. Come to think of it, Ruby has never seen me cry before. Soaking wet and exhausted, he picked both of us up like newborn Pokémon before walking us over to the tent. It felt like that day I met Tom all over again. Something inside made me feel comfortable despite our current situation.

    A two person tent was what it felt like on the inside. Roomy for one but I had a feeling something else would sleep in here on occasion. A sleeping bag with some blankets was in the middle of the tent so we were placed in there after we were dried off. Ruby was already sleeping while I was still was trying to get comfortable. I immediately hugged Ruby once I found my spot and nuzzled her. She nuzzled me back in her sleep. I turned to our host and tilted my head. Where would the trainer sleep?

    "I have some blankets so I'll be fine sleeping on the side of the tent." Although the sleeping bag was warm, I wasn't sure if I would be warm enough. Pawing at him got his attention. "What's wrong?" I tried to grab him to bring him closer. "Alright, I'll come over. I thought you two wanted space." Ruby and the trainer were on the outsides while I was sandwiched in the middle. Perfect for me because I can hold on to Ruby and he can keep me warm.

    Ruby mumbled in her sleep. "Don't let go of me Shade and get some sleep."

    I teased her. "You need it more than I do and no, I will never let go." Then I gave her one more kiss before I heard our host talk to me.

    "You can sleep as long as you want. I can't imagine what you went through." His touch was so soothing on a rough Pokémon like me. He tried to pet Ruby but I gave him a low growl with Sara in mind. "Okay okay I won't touch her". He went back to petting me. I actually purred before I fell asleep as the rain continued to fall outside.
    Darkness. It's not always bad for someone who can't see in the dark. Not being able to see while resting your body and mind is a wonderful thing. The past 24 hours have been nothing but a fight for survival. It's refreshing to close your eyes knowing you'll live to see another day. Honestly, I was worried that even back in our den we would be far from okay. Sleeping easy was possible because of his act of mercy.

    Neither of us woke up until the sun was directly overhead. Fort the first time since I met her, Ruby woke up before me and was nuzzling me very gently as she was sitting upright over me. She spoke softly while smiling at me.

    "Good morning my hero." Okay, that was a first. I guess that knight in shining armor line was still in her head.

    I scanned the tent to see if anything else was in it, but it was just the two of us. "Good morning my queen." Ruby cringed at that word. A dull pain was running through my body so I had to move very slowly to sit up.

    "Oh no, just lie down."

    "I'm fine, are you okay?"

    "The poison's gone but this scar isn't going away anytime soon." Yup, that nine inch red line on her side was a grim reminder of what she went through. "What about you?"

    "Sore. I wish I could tell you how I kept moving last night but I have no answers."

    Ruby looked uncomfortable. "I-I-I'm sorry you went through all of that for me."

    "Don't be. Remember the promise I made?" She nodded. I mumbled. "I couldn't keep it. You practically died."

    "How fast did you kill those four?" My heart sank like a stone. She actually saw me slaughter them? I had hoped she didn't see that.

    I had no choice but to answer her. "It took 57 seconds."

    She hugged me even tighter. "You kept it. You said anyone who hurt me that bad wouldn't last another minute." It took me awhile to register what she meant. My eyes went toward the floor.

    "I should never have to start counting."

    "I don't care. Even if it took you over a minute I wouldn't care. What matters is we're both alive right now and I'm not ruling beside Ariados."

    "What does that mean?"

    "He would let me live if I became his queen and ruled beside him; I told him I'd rather die."

    Boom. Her words hit me in the gut. She chose to die instead of living a life of fear. "I'll never use that word around you again."

    She shook her head. "No. I couldn't become his queen because I'm already yours. You've treated me like one since the day we met even if you don't think you're a king."

    "Are you going to be okay?" I'm concerned with how this will affect her from here on out.

    "With you next to me, absolutely... my king."

    We just lied there in silence until the trainer came back to the tent. He immediately went to grab something in the tent and left without acknowledging us. I was starting to wonder if we should go along with him.

    "Ruby do you think we should go with the trainer?"

    "It's tough. I want to live peacefully with you but after last night I'm not sure if we can anymore." She was right about wanting to go back home. Not only that, but I think she's hiding the fact that she has a hard time trusting humans. Living peacefully won't be happening for her anytime soon.

    "I'm fine with either choice." It was the truth. Why should I hold on to a title I didn't want just so Ruby could be targeted? On the other hand, the forest provided freedom for both of us.

    "Maybe he's different Shade. You were right about how unselfish he was and how he didn't even catch us. We can run away right now and escape, but I have a feeling he would be sad."

    "Alright. Then let's see if we can convince him to take us."

    We exited the tent in the hopes that our potential master was nearby. He restarted the fire which was in the same place as last night despite the puddles surrounding it. I leaned on Ruby for support as he looked over at us. His Pokémon were nowhere to be found just like last night. Maybe he didn't want to scare us with his team.

    "Hello you two." He said with a light smile on his face. A blank expression came over my face; I don't know what to do now. Ruby looked at me and then walked toward him. He remained cautious since the last two times Ruby was involved, I growled. "Well someone's feeling better." Ruby was slowly rubbing up against his leg before turning to me.

    "Come on. You need to do this too."

    Look, being all warm and fuzzy is something I do a terrible job of. Maybe not terrible, but Ruby has been the only living thing to make me act like that. Even when I was an Eevee I couldn't get any girls at the ranch to warm up to me; probably had something to do with the fact that I beat them so many times in battle. *Sigh.* Time to give it a try.

    Guilt riddled me since all I did last night was threaten him. He still treated me with kindness once Ruby encouraged him to keep rubbing our heads by pressing her head into his hand. Eventually we both put our front legs on his stomach realizing that we were really thankful we were alive; Ruby even licked his face. "Looks like you both want to come along with me. I don't see why not. But before you're in it for the long haul, I want to show you these."

    Flashbacks from that day Tom met me came back to me instantly. The badge case came out and inside contained the trainer ID as well as four badges. "I never introduced myself last night. My name's Mitch." Huh, a nice name. Not as nice as those four badges. Upon a closer look I realized they were the same four badges that my previous master had won. I started to tear up once I realized that I could battle for badges again. A lot of scenarios ran through my mind. New teammates to impress, badges to be won, fun challenges, et cetera, et cetera.

    Ruby took it differently. She was having second doubts until I put a paw on her back. "Mitch is strong. He has the same badges as Tom which means he can protect us from anything. I don't know how many Sara had but I can assure you that he earned those. Her eyes turned confident; she nodded back at me. "I'll be right by your side."

    Mitch went to his pocket and pulled out two red and white balls. "I don't have enough money at the moment to get the proper Poké Ball so these will have to do." We were both confused as to what that meant until I saw Mitch had four black balls with a yellow and red stripe around the center as well as the top. However, we both backed away because we haven't been in one for months. "It's okay; I'm not going to force you in. Are you ready to go? The next town isn't that far away."

    The forest has been our home for quite some time. Leaving it feels so... weird. I had no problem leaving my so called throne behind and I certainly had no problem taking Ruby with me. Most forest Pokémon were pretty indifferent towards me with the exception of a small group who looked up to me. I did have a problem with her telling me that I should be carried in Mitch's arms. Protesting wasn't going to work since I kept falling over from the lack of strength in my hind leg.

    A dirt path was practically guiding us out of the forest but Ruby went toward our den instead with a little help from me. It was only fitting to say farewell to our old home. However, there were no more berries. Ruby's eyes went wide after she searched our den for just one berry and found nothing. Soon she lied flat on the ground and put her front paws on her head in shock.

    I realized that if we returned to our den last night, Ruby would have been dead on arrival and I would have been dead within a few days. Mitch held me tighter and gently rubbed my head as I was trembling in fear of what would have happened. He then knelt down to Ruby to console her.

    Nobody spoke on the way back to the dirt path or on the way into town.
  10. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 10- Old Wounds

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    Talk about a change of pace. I went from four Pokémon to six, a nice city to a tough forest, having an Umbreon bite my arm to letting me carry it, and most importantly a near dead Espeon to a healthy one for the most part. All of this in the span of 24 hours. The concept of time is an amazing thing.

    Ecruteak City was such a friendly place to visit. Every building had some long history lesson attached to it and I enjoyed the stories associated with them. That being said, the most important building in that entire city was Morty's gym. A badge is never easy to get especially when your opponent's Pokémon can hide on you. I won 2-0 but both my remaining Pokémon were exhausted. Since I now had my fourth badge it was time to make a decision on where to go next. I heard Mahogany Town was home to the ice gym so off I went the next morning.

    The mood from Ecruteak didn't follow me too far in the forest near Mount Mortar. Pokémon out here weren't exactly friendly or diverse. Most of them were bug types that either hid from me or tried to battle. Luckily for me, Ember is a good attack in doing damage and sending a message since I don't want to set the forest ablaze. Once I made it more than halfway to Mahogany Town, the sun was starting to set so I collected wood to make a fire.

    "Alright let me see. Wood... check. Food... check. Water... check. Tent set up... check. Fire starter... coming up." I grabbed a ball and casually called out my loyal companion. "Growlithe I need ya buddy." Flashing energy lights scattered after it was outside of its ball.

    He didn't look too tired, but I had a feeling he was a little annoyed with being the go-to member of my team for this trip. I just pointed toward the wood pile. He used Ember, I ruffled his fur, he licked my face, and I called him back. All of my Pokémon had eaten earlier which means I'm on my own for this meal. Even though the smell of food could draw wild Pokémon I banked on the fire keeping them away since they were all bugs; I was right. Honestly, I didn't want to drag out my three other Pokémon after a tough gym battle. Growlithe was going through a pseudo gym in the form of this forest so I wanted him to have his rest.

    Based on tradition, any new trainer would get one of the obligatory starters at New Bark Town; I broke it. Growlithe was a wild pup when he decided to "break in" to our house near Violet City to get some food (to be fair I forgot to lock the door that night). He was surprisingly friendly so I did my best to show that I wanted him. My parents weren't exactly on board because money was an issue; that changed once it started to obey all three of us. Both of them worked but the money just wasn't enough. As a result, I had to wait a little longer to get started on my journey.

    The Pokémon League moved the official minimum trainer age to 16 which was (and still is) an unpopular decision a few years back. You could apply for the gym challenge if you were younger but the tests were rigorous. It didn't matter since I left when I was 20. It was worth it when my parents surprised me with a bag filled to the brim with traveling essentials plus a tent and 1,000P.

    Money wasn't an issue when I first started out because I won my first dozen battles all with Growlithe. I made sure to watch it carefully since I'm on my own. Trainers are all wearing the latest trends while I'm in a beat up windbreaker and hiking pants. Still, they're comfy and easy to wear. Once I had to start buying items I knew saving my money was a good choice. The first item I splurged on was a Luxury Ball for Growlithe. He had no idea why it was a big deal until I smashed his old ball. My logic is pretty simple: you go one step further for your Pokémon, they go one step further for you. It's worked out so far.

    Since that purchase, I've caught my team in Luxury Balls. However, mart owners were hesitant to even show them to me. My first guess was that it was based on my looks until one cashier flat out said it to my face. I kept a poker face each time I pulled out the 1000P and they gave it to me with no questions asked. Unfortunately, the time after I bought them was spent in the Pokémon Center receiving what I call "pity" items from the Pokémon League via Nurse Joy; it felt wrong to take them unless it was food for my team.

    I wasn't really looking for new Pokémon anytime soon which meant I had a little extra money to spend on myself. Despite that I still bought hot dogs for dinner and roasted marshmallows for dessert because it just felt right. Normally I would have had everyone out by now, but it was getting late and I covered some serious ground. Oh yeah, there was a thunderstorm coming too.

    An Espeon flew by the fire seemingly out of nowhere and it was in horrible shape. Then an Umbreon came crawling in front of it; something was obviously wrong with both of them. My Pokédex gave me all the info I needed on both of them; I swear it said Umbreon had five moves. Taking care of Espeon would be hard considering Umbreon was growling at me and even bit me. It hurt like hell but I couldn't have a knee-jerk reaction; a wounded Pokémon is something you don't want to upset, especially if it's caring for another one.

    By the grace of Arceus I managed to cure Espeon's poison as well as figure out Umbreon's problem without having to call out anyone. There was no way I could let them go in their conditions. Umbreon tried to carry his friend but he was just too exhausted. When I walked over to pick them up I was shocked to see Umbreon crying. Their space was important so I opted to sleep away from them but Umbreon wanted me next to them; he still wouldn't let me touch Espeon but he gave me a nice purr before he fell asleep. He's not bad at all, just scared.

    They woke up and actually sought me out the next morning. Espeon was the first to walk over to me yet I was hesitant to do anything in order to avoid another bite from Umbreon but he seemed to be okay with me petting her, even around her cuts. How could anyone do such a thing to a beautiful Pokémon like her? That scar will have to be looked at though. Soon they both were trying to climb on me which meant they were thankful. I guess I had no choice but to have them come along for the ride.

    Umbreon's eyes sparkled once he saw the badge case; I guess his previous master was on the same path as me. Espeon seemed indifferent but Umbreon somehow convinced her to tag along. Despite the obvious dirt path out of the forest, Umbreon kept motioning to Espeon and soon we were at their old home. I let them Espeon look around but she came out of the den and dropped to the ground in shock; Umbreon started to tremble too. My guess is that they were headed here last night. I had no clue why they were acting like this but I still consoled them regardless.
    Mahogany Town is the smallest I've seen in awhile yet it has that homey feel to it, especially when the sun is setting. Pokémon Center here we come. It was just like all of the other ones except for the "RAGECANDYBAR" stand in the corner. Only one other person was in the center but she seemed very interested in the newspaper she was reading. I walked up to the counter cradling Umbreon while Espeon was walking by my side as Nurse Joy saw me.

    "Hello! What can I do for you?"

    "I would like my Pokémon healed please. These two need more than the machine." I pointed to Espeon. "She had a bad case of poison last night and has a large scar on her side." I then went to hand over Umbreon. "He had a hip dislocation last night as well. I think they were running from something."

    She looked back at me in confusion. "So these are wild?"

    "Not exactly. They wanted to come with me but were scared of the Poké Balls I offered. My guess is that their last contact with humans was weeks, maybe months ago. Can you take care of them? Please? I'll buy them a proper ball once I get to the mart."

    Nurse Joy thought it over for a little while. Espeon thought it was taking too long and jumped on the counter. The sight of the scar probably persuaded her to look at them. "Alright, but they will belong to the town if anything is broken because you can't call them back. Is that clear?" I gave her a serious nod before she took them away in the back in addition to my other four team members.

    "Wow this is fantastic news!" The woman in the corner of the center screamed.

    Jeez lady, you scared the shit outta me. "What do you mean?"

    She turned the paper to me after walking over to me. "Team Rocket's getting weaker and weaker. Yesterday they officially lost one of their bases in Kanto. It had something to do with manipulating Pokémon instead of just selling them on the black market. You can read it now since my Pokémon is coming out now."

    I watched the woman take her Ledian from the counter and walk out. A front page article was staring me in the face so I decided to read it. It spanned three pages and took me about 15 minutes to digest everything. About three quarters of the way down on the last page I was interrupted by Nurse Joy.

    "Your Pokémon are in good shape. The two you gave me have been healed to the best of my abilities. Umbreon should be fine with two days rest while Espeon's wounds have been healed for the most part. However, the scars on both of them will not be going away anytime soon."

    They both sat obediently on the counter before I went over. Once I started to pet them, they starting acting like kits and begging for me to shower them with love before I let them wait by the door. "I have a question for you Nurse Joy."

    "Go ahead."

    "I was reading this article about Team Rocket and was wondering about this manipulation plan. Would you happen to know anything about it? Any trainers coming here talking about it?"

    Nurse Joy took an eternity to respond. "Months ago we had a shop that acted as a holding area for Pokémon. Lab work was done underground. It was discovered by a trainer and Lance of the Elite Four and was destroyed. It was supposed to be about evolution and the Lake of Rage, but there were reports of something else going on."

    "So there was a base here? What else could possibly be going on in the underground labs?"

    "That manipulation plan was here as well. Trainer's Pokémon were usually taken because they were stronger than wild ones and they were shipped here. Nobody in town had their Pokémon taken because it would raise suspicion. However, Ecruteak was the prime target because it is the closest area with a gym. Rumor has it that grunts would wait until after Morty's battles to snag weakened Pokémon from their trainers. They would eventually be sold to anyone willing to pay or sent to a ranch to be held."

    "So how did the base get exposed?"

    She looked over my shoulder and pointed to Umbreon. "Your Umbreon was in a lab underground. On the night Lance and the mystery trainer came there was a huge hole in the wall along with several injured guards. Once it left the scene Lance came in. I think he was trying to figure out a way to get in before Umbreon made the hole."

    "There's something about a ranch in here too."

    "Oh yes, I never explained that. It used to be a day care but the owners passed away. A younger couple purchased the property shortly after. After the base went down, that ranch by Goldenrod City was connected to the base. They held some Pokémon that had potential, but anyone could buy a Pokémon if they had enough money. Based on its location, the prices were high so that only grunts could buy them with an executive's money. You would have to spend only 100P before you couldn't afford the cheapest Pokémon. "

    "Last question about this topic I promise." I looked her straight in the eye. "What was done to him?"

    "I don't know. I also don't know how the experiments will affect him." Then she smiled at me. "But I know you'll be a great trainer for it. Just give him time. He already has a friend over there, maybe even a mate." I turned to see Espeon was starting to doze off using Umbreon as a pillow.

    "Thank you for healing them. Goodbye." I was halfway to the door until I remembered about the gym. "Before I go, do you when Pryce takes challenges?"

    "Unfortunately he's going to be out of town for the next week or so. I would recommend Olivine or Cianwood for the next gym." With that information I decided to head out to Cianwood after reading up on the two leaders. Espeon is a perfect matchup against fighting types. Wait a second; I never introduced the rest of my team to them.

    We all exited the center after I purchased one RAGECANDYBAR. The sun starting to set was a sign that I should introduce everyone when they can actually see one another. All four of my Luxury Balls were tossed in the air in front of the duo.

    "It's time to meet the rest of the team." They stood apprehensively once Growlithe, Furret, Ampharos, and Gyarados materialized in front of them. Growlithe and Furret went over immediately and were very friendly towards them; Furret got along with Espeon better because Furret was a female but was a little nervous around Umbreon while Growlithe got along with Umbreon but was hesitant of Espeon.

    Ampharos was about as neutral as you could get as she walked over and said hello. She also has a knack for poking things so Umbreon's rings and Espeon's jewel were treated like a button; it didn't seem to bother them. Gyarados on the other hand was the least friendly, but not in a bad way. He's more into battling than making new friends. In fact it took him awhile to warm up to everyone despite being the second member of my squad. That being said, he introduced himself and didn't do much else.

    I recalled them all before we headed back to Ecruteak. There was a boat headed back that way so I jumped on with Espeon and Umbreon instead of using Surf; might as well save their energy and they still didn't want to go in their balls. The boat docked outside the city gate about half an hour later as the sun was finally down.

    The city looked beautiful at night considering the streets were well lit ever since the base in Mahogany Town was taken down. We only took a few steps before Umbreon stopped in his tracks and immediately bolted towards Burned Tower. Espeon cried out to him, but he didn't turn back and she went after him; I followed close behind.

    After navigating the streets, we finally approached the base of Burned Tower. Because of how unstable it is, everyone usually stays away from it. However, there is a cemetery right next to it. Morty told me ghost Pokémon who are neglected or lost usually come there and he finds a way to help them.

    There were no ghosts there. There was only Umbreon wailing uncontrollably at a headstone with his rings glowing very brightly. Espeon was also hugging him from behind while rubbing his back. The headstones from other plots were for residents of the city and their Pokémon were buried next to them if it had passed as well. I slowly came up behind him and saw the full text of the headstone.

    "Here lies Tom and Quilava. Their courage in the face of Team Rocket shall never go unnoticed in this city."

    I took a deep breath. The only reason Umbreon would do this is obvious: it was his previous master. The one who actually fought back instead of just handing over his tired Pokémon to a criminal organization. The one who cared for Umbreon. The one I could never hold a candle to no matter how hard I tried. Would Umbreon really want to stay with me knowing his old friends are not coming back?

    A voice came from behind me. "I was looking to see if any ghost Pokémon showed up tonight. I'm sorry I barged in on Umbreon mourning." I turned to see Morty standing with his head down.

    "It's alright. Umbreon just came running here after we entered the city. I'm sure you know the story."

    He looked up to face me and spoke softly. "I do and I feel awful. I had no clue that this was going on otherwise I would have escorted all of my challengers back the Pokémon Center." We both stood there in silence, listening to Umbreon cry out and pound the grass with his paw. He turned to leave. "I'll be going. Please, take care of that Umbreon. I have never seen any Pokémon defeat Gengar without receiving a command." After all of his battles, he still remembers one specific event from one specific Pokémon. That is something Umbreon should be proud of.

    I watched Espeon start to tear up too after Morty left; she can't take it anymore. I called out everyone again but neither of the two heard everyone else come out. They were a little confused as to what was going on but it didn't take long for them to put the pieces together.

    I didn't have to do anything. One by one they stood beside them and eventually formed a circle around the grave. Still crying out, Umbreon looked up to see Growlithe, Furret, Ampharos, and Gyarados all bowing their heads in respect. Espeon followed suit and soon Umbreon calmed down. My hand met his head.

    "I had no idea. You've gone through hell and back. I don't want you." He looked at me. "I want to make sure you want me."

    He really thought it over. As far as we're concerned, he's still wild and could run away right now. It took some time for him to bury his face in my chest and cry. Tough decision to make? That would be an understatement. All I can do is give him a hug.

    Espeon came over and consoled him.

    Then Growlithe.

    Then Furret.

    Then Ampharos.

    Then Gyarados, the most emotionless member of the team, came over and wrapped himself around us for support.

    "You don't have to face the future alone. I'm not sure if I'll be as good as Tom but I can guarantee I'll try my best. You have an entire team to support you as well." Umbreon looked up and nodded with tears in his eyes.

    After staying like that for awhile, Umbreon was good to get back to the main part of the city. I recalled everyone and started walking to the Pokémon Center. Once we got there, I wanted to get a room before heading off to Cianwood. My room was pretty standard: two beds, a dresser, a desk, and a PC.

    I showered up and got ready for bed. Once the lights went out I was almost out. Umbreon and Espeon kept pawing at me. The bed was way too small for all three of us so I got up and pushed the other one next to it. I let them get comfortable before I hopped next to Umbreon. I gave him a nice belly rub; he purred. I went to pet Espeon but Umbreon didn't growl. In fact, he nudged my hand closer to her. After enduring a tremendous amount of physical, emotional, and mental pain they slept like newborns.

    I'm glad they chose me.
  11. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 11- Party of Six for Cianwood

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    Last night's sleep was much needed for everyone. Something in my gut tells me that these two were almost caught in a never ending cycle of despair if they survived that night. It was no surprise to me that Espeon was the first one up with her being the Sun Pokémon and all. Umbreon on the other hand was surprised she woke up so early. This leads me to believe that I'll never understand these two no matter how hard I try.

    We all took some time to get moving before I hopped in the shower. Even though it was only a short time in the forest, how could I turn down a hot shower? Plus, my mind is pretty clear when I'm taking one. I still have to get to a mart as soon as possible to get some Luxury Balls. I can't just let them walk around without actually owning them. What if they're severely hurt in battle? Would my opponent be able to hear me call a switch? Forget battles, any pinch would be easier to get out of once that red beam touches them. Then there are the little things like how dirty they'll get. I don't think they'll enjoy taking baths frequently.

    Once I got out of the shower, I changed my cloths and attempted to clean my windbreaker and hiking pants in the sink. Espeon wanted to help me by licking the dirt stains off of my jacket while Umbreon brought over my pants from the bed. Unfortunately the soap from the bath and Espeon's help didn't do too much for my jacket. My pants needed some actual detergent, not this weak soap. Now I have to be even more charismatic if I don't want the cashier to call the police.

    Our room was cleaned up of our belongings as we headed out to the main lobby. Again, the issue of the two walking beside me came up again. It's not unusual for Pokémon to be walking alongside their trainers anywhere in the region. However, I can't go around bragging that I have wild Pokémon that obey me because someone else could, scratch that would catch them. Nobody batted an eye at us on the way to or inside of the local mart; dodged a bullet there.

    I made a quick withdrawal from the ATM before I walked up to the counter. "Excuse me I'd like to purchase two Luxury Balls please." Let's see how this'll go considering they're on the top shelf. "Do you have any?"

    The clerk casually looked from behind her newspaper before continuing to read. "No. Get lost."

    Compared to getting the other four, this clerk was generous. Still, I kept a level head. "I have the 2,000P to purchase them."
    She didn't even look at me. "I told you no. What part of that do you not understand?"

    Time to be a smartass. "I'll take the two behind you please." I placed my money on the counter.

    Now that set her off after she put her paper down. "Listen here you sad excuse for a trainer. No way I'm going to sell these to trash like you." She looked at my belt and then back at me. "I should call the authorities because you probably stole the other four." Umbreon was getting tired of the disrespect so he jumped on the counter, growling softly to illustrate my frustration for me. I appreciate the support but can't have him scaring the clerk in addition to the other customers nearby.

    I settled him down quickly before pulling out my badge case. My tone turned harsh while remaining quiet. "You listen here lady. I have four badges to my name and am willing to dish out the money. You're obviously not too smart are you?"

    We locked eyes until she finally conceded defeat. She put on a fake smile as a customer came up behind me in line. "That'll be 4,000P."

    Ha! Artificial inflation. Come on lady, this trick didn't work in any of the other marts because I knew it would happen every single time. At least one cashier swallowed their pride and sold them at their actual value. I'm not made of money but I know damn well how to manage it.

    I whipped out another 2,000P and slammed it on the counter. "Deal. I'm pretty sure they're on the top shelf." She had no choice except to retrieve them with the line of customers getting longer. Once they were reluctantly given to me I exited the city via the west gate.

    It was much more open than by the east gate. Now was the time to see if they would hop in their new Luxury Balls. Instead of throwing it at Espeon and Umbreon, I placed them on the ground to see if they would activate them for me. I thought of it as their last chance to change their mind. Espeon sniffed it for a little bit until she decided to tap the middle circle with her paw; the ball didn't shake once. Umbreon on the other hand simply put its paw on top of the ball. He looked at me with passion in his eyes before trotting down the path and crouching at me.

    "You want to show me your stuff? Nurse Joy said you should wait one more day before doing anything like that." He pouted. "Well I guess I can't blame you. Furret! Let's go!" This wasn't going to be a cakewalk. If he can crawl in front of Espeon with a dislocated hip no problem, he's something special.

    "Quick Attack Furret!" She was off to meet Umbreon as he also used Quick Attack. They both rammed each other head on before jumping back. He wasted no time firing a Dark Pulse and it wasted no time finding its mark.

    "Don't worry Furret. Time to use Dig." Luckily for her the dirt below us wasn't too hard to dig through. Now Umbreon was flustered. His head movements were sporadic as Furret finally decided to hit him from below. Umbreon staggered back; he finally was realizing that this wasn't some run-of-the-mill forest Pokémon. This was one who has had a lot of experience in battle.

    His fangs started to glow as he came in for a Bite attack. "Use Slam!" I thought Furret's tail hit him first but he managed to drag one of his teeth across her body as he was hit. Another Bite was coming but I took a defensive strategy. "Dig to dodge." Just like last time, Umbreon was very nervous when he couldn't see his target. Furret didn't wait that long to counterattack from below.

    By now I could tell Umbreon wanted to end this battle. Slowly but surely he charged up his Faint Attack as a follow up move. He wants close combat? I'll give him close combat.

    "Charge in and use Return!" Return was Furret's most powerful move and a move she would never hold back on. Since Return's power is based on how friendly the Pokémon is with its trainer, it always hit hard. In fact, it was a practically a knockout blow against an average trainer. Obviously rock or steel types resisted it but it was undeniable how much she believed in me. It came down to how hard Umbreon would hit.

    Yet again they met with heads rubbing against one another. The result was in my favor as Umbreon was knocked back on his side; that was enough. I took out my ball and rolled it over to him. If he wanted to run, he had better do it now because there was no turning back after he was caught. I know deep down he wants to be with his deceased owner, but that will not happen. Would he rather be free knowing Espeon made the decision to stay with the rest of the team?

    The tension in the air was cut once Umbreon called out to Furret and tapped the circle of the ball with his paw. I bent down to pet Furret for a job well done. After we walked over to pick up the ball she looked at me and yipped.

    "What's wrong girl?" She pointed to the ball then started to flex like a bodybuilder. "If he stays with us there's no doubt that he'll become stronger. Although you already know that, don't you girl?" I scratched just under her chin. Most Pokémon want something after a critical win. Some want piles of food, some want a new fashion item, some want a new toy, some want a break for awhile. Nope, Furret just wants her chin scratched every time. And every time she acts like a baby Sentret.

    We walked along the path until we approached a farm with Miltank all over the place. A small girl was sitting on the front porch with a Growlithe while she called out to us. "Hey mister would yall like some MooMoo Milk? It's only 25P a bottle!" I really am glad it's cheaper from the farm considering that clerk forced an extra 2,000P out of my wallet.

    I yelled back to her. "Alright! I'll be over there in a minute!" Furret and I walked up the steps to pay the young girl for six bottles.

    "Oooooooh your Pokémon is so cute!" She squealed. "Can I pleeeease pet it?"

    Before I could answer her, an older couple came out of the house. "What did I tell you 'bout askin' strangers to pet their Pokémon?" The thick accented man was probably her grandfather.

    She hung her head in shame. "Sorry granddaddy."

    Furret wouldn't have minded anyway but I had to jump in. "Oh no, it's fine with me. I just bought six bottles for my team." I bent down to her eye level. "Would you like to see them all?" Her eyes sparkled. I called out the remaining five members and gave them all their bottle of MooMoo Milk. I turned to them. "Okay guys, this little girl wants to meet all of you. Play nice now." I ushered her to Growlithe first.

    "That's a fine lookin' team ya got there" the grandmother commented.

    "Thanks, I'm taking the gym challenge right now and have four badges."

    She looked at her husband and smiled. "We used to be great trainers back in the day. It's nice to see young faces doing great things."
    The husband extended his hand. "Name's Nick. My lovely wife is Laura and my granddaughter's name is Marybeth. Growlithe's a big help out here too."

    "Pleasure to meet you. So you guys sell MooMoo Milk for a living?"

    Laura nodded. "Yup. Some officials from the league come and buy our milk so it goes all over the region. What brings you to these parts?"

    "I was passing through to get to Cianwood. I have another badge to get over there."

    Nick looked past me to see Marybeth piggybacking on Ampharos. She then used Gyarados as a slide, much to its delight. "You sure they don't mind being jumped on like that?" I shook my head. "Anyway, I wanna tell you 'bout the market in Olivine since it's comin' up. Every six months, folks from all around come to sell or trade stuff for two long days. Heck, there's even battles in the town square."

    Now I need to see this for myself. "When is it?"

    "Shoot, I forgot to tell you. It's in a few days."

    "I appreciate it. Will I be seeing you guys there?"

    Laura was a little hesitant to answer. "We weren't gonna go but maybe we should. It's costin' more to set up shop this year."
    "I'm sure you guys will make the decision that works for you."

    I had to get moving so I let Marybeth say her goodbyes to my team. Honestly a little surprised Gyarados was sad to leave. I knew he had a heart underneath that icy persona, but I won't bust his chops for it. I made sure to recall everyone so that they could get their rest. My parting gift was a free glass for myself because most trainers buy it and are back on the road. Some were rude to Marybeth when she asked to see their Pokémon which is why Nick acted like he did.

    I really didn't have time to deal with trainers on the outskirts of Olivine so I used the forest to hide until the main archway to the city was over my head. A port town on the sea, what a place to live. Boats everywhere, people bustling about, the feel of a cool breeze, all Pokémon being friendly with anyone who walks by, just perfect. Unfortunately for me I have to take a ferry to Cianwood first.

    The ticket window was empty when I stepped up to get my ticket. I took a second to open my badge case and really reflect on what I've accomplished so far. Falkner was no match for Growlithe and neither was Bugsy; a complete sweep on both parts although I had Magikarp as a backup plan. Whitney was a little tougher but Furret took care of her Clefairy while my Magikarp evolved before the battle into my best trump card. Morty truly pushed me to the edge with his Pokémon. Ampharos was crucial to slowing down his ghosts as Gyarados cleaned up. However, he managed to knockout my Growlithe and pushed the other two to within one hit of fainting.

    My flashback was interrupted by the ticket salesperson. "Where would you like to go?"

    "Cianwood City please."

    "I'll need to see some ID." I do have Surf as an HM, but I don't want to get rid of any moves that Gyarados knows so I'm willing to pay to cross waters if need be. "Okay, you are taking the gym challenge and have four badges which means you qualify for a deal."

    "What kind of deal?"

    "I can offer you a pass at no cost but you're only allowed to use the Pokémon Center, gym, and enter some specific shops. If not, then you'll have to pay for a tourist pass. The center always has basic things for people with these types of passes so there's no need to worry." I can't argue with that. Olivine has the whole market thing so I'll buy my stuff there as opposed to Cianwood. Still, it feels like I'm trapped once I get there but oh well.

    The information was sent to my destination and I hopped on the small ferry. I literally could lie down across all the seats plus call out my Pokémon if I wanted to. It feels great catching the last ride of the day. The driver revved up the engine and we were off. I just stared into the ocean on the way over thinking about what to do against Chuck. It was going to be 2 on 2 which means Espeon gets a spot automatically while Furret and Umbreon are out of the discussion. I guess I'll play it by who's out there for him.
    Our ferry arrived in the docks after a short navigation through the sea. I was handed a blue wristband by a sailor working in the ticket window. A blue one was for the people who are here for the gym while a yellow one was for tourists so I guess it makes sense to have me wear it. The gym was within sight of the Pokémon Center as soon as I exited the dock area. Thank Arceus I don't have the chance to wander off.

    Most Pokémon Centers do a good job of catering to both trainers and casual people strolling through. This one really favors a trainer which works for me. Although to be fair, this city has better lodging options. Nurse Joy greeted me before healing my squad and telling me when my match is which surprised me. She explained that the ferry system can put trainers in time slots for Chuck at random. My only problem is that the only open slot was 9:15 am. It's not bad but sleeping in sounds better.

    Rooms here were equipped with the standard things found in other centers only they were bigger. The most notable change was the size of the bed as this one was a king size compared to the standard twin. Everyone was called out inside the room. Gyarados didn't really like the room but he eventually found a way to get comfortable. I let them relax as I went to take a shower; Espeon got Furret and Ampharos huddled up and pointing to the other three members of my team before I shut the door. No matter what I thought of, I still had doubts on who would be my second Pokémon. I was honest to them about my strategy for this upcoming battle after I was done. Espeon seemed to be cautiously optimistic despite my support for her. Since we were essentially stuck here, we waited until it was late to go to bed.

    Four of my Pokémon managed to fit on the huge bed so I let them sleep on it after trying to make sure everyone was comfortable. Umbreon and Espeon obviously slept next to each other; Furret cuddled up next to Growlithe. Ampharos felt sorry for Gyarados so she snuggled up next to him on the floor. He has some serious faith in her, letting the electric type sleep next to him like that. Still, she was a warm and fuzzy sheep. A Luxury Ball isn't known to make Pokémon act this way so I'm going to say Espeon had something to do with this.

    I missed having all of my Pokémon sleep outside their balls like this. It's the little things like this that make the journey worth it.
  12. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 12- Gains

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    By the grace of Arceus I woke up at a reasonable time for my gym battle today. Instead of the alarm from the clock by my bed, I was woken up by four wet tongues. Apparently Furret, Growlithe, Umbreon, and Espeon didn't want to be late to the gym either. Ampharos wanted in on the wake-up call so she jumped on me... all 135 or so pounds of her. Eventually Gyarados managed to make his way over and shoo everyone off so I could get ready for the day.

    The preparations were made after I hopped out of the shower. All six of them were recalled so I wouldn't give Chuck any clues as to who I'll be using. He obviously doesn't have that advantage because the Pokémon League is very open when it comes to gym leaders and their Pokémon's type; they never reveal the Pokémon themselves. Still, it can be intimidating to know what you're up against and still not be ready for it.

    Nurse Joy healed them up one more time before I stepped outside the center. A gorgeous sight of the sea as well as the cool breeze put a little extra energy in me for the upcoming challenge. Finding the route to the gym was easy. Escaping temptation to go into the shops was not. Beautiful stores lined the street which leads me to believe that they do this on purpose. Either your concentration or your wallet will take a hit; neither of mine did.

    "Hey man, wanna buy some nice items for the trip ahead?" I kept walking past the group of people. "Come on, I know you're going for the gym. My items will help guarantee a win." Still not acknowledging the loudmouths, this frustrated them. One of them let it out. "I hope you lose you rude asshole!" Nothing was more irritating to me than a person who tries to force something on you, especially if you're tight on money. Also, it was too early for this. I continued forward while giving the nuisance the one-fingered salute.

    Cianwood's gym looked like the others on the outside with the exception of some statues. Beautiful bronze statues of the Machop family lined the short walkway to the entrance. Probably was a scare tactic for those who were unsure of their team because these things were massive. The automatic door opened so I walked in.
    A gym is supposed to reflect the personality of the leader and what I saw definitely did that. The gym was actually a gym. Various pieces of exercise equipment were scattered throughout the gym as well as some medicine balls. Pokémon and trainers alike were working on their bodies in the massive area. Ummm, where was the field?

    A voice came over the loudspeaker. "Attention members, there is a challenger scheduled to battle in ten minutes." As soon as the message ended I was greeted by a younger student.

    "Hello. You are Mitch yes?" I nodded. "Welcome to the Cianwood Gym. I know what you're thinking and the battle area is in the back. We announce a challenger so that the students can watch if they want."

    Once we arrived at the battlefield, I noticed there were about a dozen students milling about, waiting for the battle to start. This was the first time a crowd was watching one of my gym battles; certainly a change of pace from the huge yet empty gyms. Chuck soon entered alongside an older student. Chuck was an older looking man wearing karate pants and a black belt. Clearly he has gone through extensive training to earn that belt. There was no doubt his Pokémon did the same.

    He bowed towards me before going over the pre battle information. "I am Chuck, leader of the Cianwood Gym. Here we strive to train our mind, body, and soul through exercise. I see you are on time. Very good considering most trainers dread the first battle of the day." Look man, I didn't want this time slot. Hell, it took five Pokémon to wake me up; one of them being a 135 pound body slamming sheep (no Ampharos, you're not fat). "The rules are two Pokémon apiece and only you can substitute. Are you ready?"

    "Yes. Now I'm curious, how many students of yours are going to watch?" I don't mind spectators but I do mind them coming through the door in the middle of the battle.

    Chuck paused for a moment. "This room is designed to fit all of my pupils but everyone that wants to watch is already here. Let us take our places in the trainer's box." One of his oldest students served as the official and went through his spiel before we called out our first fighter.

    "Primeape you're up first!" The pig monkey Pokémon was raring to go with some phantom jabs.

    "Espeon time to shine!" My newly acquired member kept a good poker face. It must have been her first gym battle. The two locked eyes for a minute until Espeon darted into an empty corner. I wandered over to see what was wrong but she managed to get back to the field. I didn't have to go too far to see a small pile of vomit; poor thing, getting nervous like that.

    "Is your Espeon going to be okay?"

    "Yes." Truthfully, I have no clue whether or not she can battle so I'll give her a quick pep talk. I gently stroked her head. "It's okay girl. Just go out there and trust me. I wouldn't send you out there if you had no chance." She managed to calm down and face her opponent.

    Our judge finally had his chance to speak. "Espeon versus Primeape for round one." The flags flew up. "Begin!"

    Ruby's P.O.V.

    Mitch was mumbling something about a match being really early so I wanted to make sure he'd be up. The room we stayed in before we had to head out was huge! What's even better is that the bed is huge. Maybe he'll let us sleep on it. All we did was relax until Mitch went to take a shower. Before he closed the door, Furret and Ampharos walked over to me.

    Despite being the shy one, Ampharos was the one who started the conversation. "Umm, I'm sorry I poked you both." It really didn't bother me at the time but I accepted it anyways. "I was a little worried about talking to Umbreon when we first met because you two seem to really like each other and I didn't want to come off as trying to take him." Wow. That escalated quickly.

    "It's a long story about how we met but you can talk to him. I know he's going to stay by my side and I'm going to stand by his. Believe me; I don't want to ruin any bonds you guys might have."

    She seemed relieved but then took it a step further."We want advice on how to get closer to Gyarados and Growlithe." Both of them were as red as a Magmar by this point.

    Furret jumped in. "Growlithe is so loyal and warm towards all of us, but he goes that extra step for me. I can't explain it but he seems to stay by me and watch over me the most."

    Ampharos had to explain her situation. "It's hard to understand for the average Pokémon, but I really like Gyarados. I was saved by him when I was a Mareep after I fell into a lake and my wool was too heavy to swim in; I've liked him ever since. He's icy on the inside, but every now and then he opens up to me whenever he's in a slump." I swear Mitch was going to have to call the fire department because their faces were getting hotter by the second.

    Now I'm not really a matchmaker but I see where they're coming from. I don't think it would be helpful to mention that Shade and I met by pure accident and that staying by my side was more than just a phrase. Any advice would still be good though. "If we all sleep outside our balls tonight, go sleep near them."

    Mitch came out of the shower and told everyone about the plan of attack. I was the first option but he had no idea on who was the second option. But man, I'm back in the gym battle lineup again. Sara immediately came creeping in my mind but I realized that I'm stronger than last time and I have a type advantage. Plus Mitch isn't Sara in terms of how he acts, but I can't be too sure.

    He let us all stay out and my little plan started. Shade and I obviously slept together. Furret was nice and cozy next to Growlithe by Mitch's feet. I guess he liked her being close by and sharing his natural body heat. Ampharos was willing to sacrifice the comfy bed for Gyarados since he couldn't fit on it. Still, he didn't seem to mind her presence. I give him credit for letting an electric type sleep in the same room as him, let alone right next to him. Who am I kidding? it's obvious that he likes her and is playing cool.

    Morning came and I convinced the four of us on the bed to lick Mitch's face to wake him up. I'm sure he set an alarm but what fun would that be? Once we were ready to go he recalled us all so it was time to do some sightseeing from my ball. The city is so beautiful, there are shops everywhere... oh wait. Why is my master holding up one finger while he's walking? Whatever, we're here at the gym. Someone obviously loves fighting types to have these huge statues on display.

    I was nervous for this fight once they were face to face. Not eager. Not excited. Just nervous. I couldn't make out what Mitch's opponent looked like until I was called out of my ball. Most Pokémon look confident in battle. Me? I had the blankest expression on my face; it was even blanker than the time Shade tired to warm up to Mitch. Some would call it a confident poker face while I like to call it a "not ready" face.

    The nerves finally hit me and I sprinted to an empty corner to vomit. I didn't want to have him see me like this for too long so I sprinted back to the field. Regardless, he gently stroked my head while giving me words of encouragement. Deep breaths Ruby. The judge gives us the go ahead. Let me at 'em.

    "Primeape use Fury Swipes!" It wasted no time charging at me with full speed ready to scratch me up.

    "Counter with Quick Attack!" Mitch was trying to match power for power but why? I'm not physically strong by any means. Still, I went for it anyway. The result was pretty surprising to me since it ended up flying backwards. My guess has to be that I was naturally faster and by increasing my speed I increased my power. Mitch knows some science.

    Chuck didn't bat an eye. "Rage." Yet again it came aggressively at me.

    "Use Confusion!" A beam of psychic energy met the charging Primeape and him square in the nose.

    There was a little more power behind Chuck's command. "Again!" Primeape looked even more furious than last time after he got up. I panicked at the sight so I used Confusion on my own to hold it in place. Despite my hold it still thrashed about until I threw it against the hard ground.

    A scream echoed through the room. "AGAIN!" Rage for the third consecutive time forced Mitch to make a decision.

    "Quick Attack to dodge then fire a Confusion!" No matter how upset it is, I'm faster than it. A successful dodge was followed up by a shot of energy that nearly missed him. I felt fatigue set in after I landed.

    Damn. That training we did on Mount Mortar was with small fruits, not a raging beast with a blank mind. I still have a long way to go if I want to get stronger. Wait... what are the chances I even stay on this team long enough to get there?

    "COME ON PRIMEAPE! RAGE!" His students kept a straight face in the wake of Chuck's tone. I on the other hand, was intimidated of Primeape and Chuck. It was coming way too fast for me to move out of the way; a solid impact left me on the ground.

    No time for a break. "Karate Chop! Keep up the pressure." Its right arm glowed and met the middle of my back. Fighting type attacks shouldn't do a thing to me but it's hard to defend myself when I'm still on the ground and the power from Rage is still radiating from it. The onslaught continued until Mitch ordered a Swift.
    Chuck folded his arms while looking at my master. "I'm very surprised that your Espeon is standing after that. I've faced many psychic Pokémon, but they all have once glaring weakness: a lack of defense."

    My master acknowledged the praise. "She's a fighter for sure. Now it's time to wrap this up. Confusion!" No move has ever been so weak. The weakest Caterpie in the region had a better Tackle attack than what I shot out at Primeape.

    "Fury Swipes!"

    "Quick Attack!"

    It was just like the start of the battle. However, I took two sharp scratches before I sent it to the floor for good.

    The judge took a second to make the call after he saw me heavily panting. Maybe he expected me to faint too? "Primeape is unable to battle. Espeon is the winner." Unbelievable. I won a round in an official gym match. Someone tell me everyone saw that through their balls. I'm not ready to go down yet.

    Mitch's opponent let out a laugh. "That is an impressive victory for sure. Let's see how you handle my most trusted partner. Poliwrath, you're up!"

    Mitch called out to me as soon as he realized I was still panting. "Espeon, can you still battle?" I nodded in response. What an act to put on. There was no way I could take an attack or dodge one. There was also no way I was going to pack it in. I have to show I'm strong otherwise I'm as good as gone.

    Our judge was at the ready. "Poliwrath versus Espeon. Begin!"

    Chuck seemed less intense than last round. "Let's change things up. Poliwrath, use Hypnosis!"

    Shade soon appeared in the arena so I called to him. "Hey! I need some help in this fight." No response. I sprinted towards him and l stopped inches away. "Shade?" He turned around with an emotionless face, cocked his scarred leg back, and punched me across the face. I was ready to cry until he did it again a few seconds later. It occurred to me that Shade would never do that. Hypnosis wore off as soon as I thought about it more.

    "Looks like someone is awake and still able to fight. Tell me Mitch, how can she take two Dynamicpunches and still stand?"

    Mitch took that as an insult. His face turned serious. A venomous tone came from my loving master. "I told you... she's a fighter."

    I rose to my feet as Mitch was reaching for my ball and stared down Poliwrath. I refuse to be substituted. "Alright Espeon, Swift." He knew Confusion wouldn't do anything to it with how weak it was last time and going in for close combat wouldn't be good either. My consciousness was being lost too fast for me to respond to the jump by Poliwrath and the third Dynamicpunch in a row that followed.

    "Espeon is unable to battle. Poliwrath is the winner."

    I heard footsteps come toward me. No... not again. Images from my last battle crept into my head. How much abuse would I have to endure this time around? He's picking me up by my neck and... my lower back. And his hand is underneath both of them? He's not forcefully grabbing at my fur either!? I felt weightless so I turned to see my master but couldn't keep my eyes on him for long.

    "I should've switched you out earlier. I'm sorry." I dared to look back at him. "I didn't know your limits. Next time I'll do a better job. For now, take a good rest... my scrappy little fighter." The entire room remained silent as he carried me back to our corner, petting me the entire way as I whimpered in shame. His voice was really soothing. "Don't cry. You've done a lot more than you think."

    A red beam hit me and I found myself back in my ball. Arceus dammit. I couldn't even land a single hit to give my teammates a chance to win. It's over; we lost because of me.

    Chuck broke the long silence. "I see you respect your Pokémon very much. Certainly you've earned the right to hold my badge, but this battle isn't over. Let's have a good final round."

    Poké Balls of all types allow for us to see the outside world but I really didn't want to witness what my weakness created. It's not fair though. Everyone has probably made mistakes on this team but did they turn their backs when the chips were down? That's right! Mitch isn't Sara. Mitch cares for me despite my horrible past. Why should I turn my back on him? He said he let me battle because I had a chance to win. The least I can do is watch.

    "Gyarados!" The strongest member was out there looking ready to win. He didn't even notice that Poliwrath was perfectly healthy.

    The official threw up his flags "Gyarados versus Poliwrath. Begin!"

    "Use Thrash." That tone was very similar to Clair's when she called for that Hyper Beam. That was the tone of someone going for a knockout.

    "Hypnosis!" Poliwrath tried to put Gyarados to sleep with his body swirl; the thrashing Gyarados didn't even pay attention to it and delivered a heavy hit before going after it again."Meet it halfway with Body Slam!" Chuck was trying to match power for power but Gyarados was too strong and tossed it aside.

    It was clear that this got Mitch out of his cold state once he saw the second hit. "Come on Gyarados keep it up!"

    "Mind Reader followed by Dynamicpunch!" Poliwrath closed its eyes as if to track Gyarados' movements. Once he was being charged, he threw the strongest punch of the match. Poliwrath landed the uppercut under the chin and was still slammed to the ground. Gyarados is an absolute monster.

    "Poliwrath is unable to battle. The match goes to the challenger Mitch from Violet City." Once the flag was raised I was called out of my ball. Mitch went to the center to meet with Chuck and all of his pupils to receive his badge. All I could do was stand there and soak it all in. After they exited I was alone with Mitch and Gyarados. He praised my teammate before both of them turned to me.

    "Espeon come over here girl." I trotted over very slowly minding my injuries. Mitch showed more affection once I finally got over there. "See this? You earned this badge Espeon." I pawed at it, admiring the shiny brown fist. So this is why Shade loves badges.

    Gyarados is normally quiet so it came as a surprise when he spoke to me. "You've got guts. Sheer power is only a small part of battling. I happen to be blessed with a lot of it." It took some time for him to find the right words to continue. "You may not be strong now but as long as you have guts, you'll always have a spot on this team. Believe me, everyone else was paying attention to that battle. I'm sure you've earned their respect too."

    Never in my life have I been validated like this. I used to be the problem Pokémon wherever I ended up since day one of my existence. Not anymore. Here I have a loving home. Not just with Shade, but with four other teammates who want me to succeed. Most importantly, Mitch is the loving trainer I've always wanted.

    I can finally start being an Espeon.
  13. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 13- The Woman in White

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    Chuck was gracious in defeat after the judge made the final decision of our battle. He motioned for me to come over and accept the Storm Badge while his pupils were surprised to see that their instructor lost a battle. It was a teachable moment on what he could do to improve his skills so everyone listened to what Chuck had to say. Everyone went back into the main part of the gym once he was done with his lecture. It was just Gyarados, Espeon, and me.

    Since Gyarados was next to me, I gave him my thanks first. Fighting type moves are generally not very effective against flying types, but Gyarados took a 100% accurate Dynamicpunch to the chin and followed through on his attack. His power is practically limitless which is why I use him in a pinch as opposed to regularly. He would pulverize smaller Pokémon even if I told him to ease up. If he were to lose his mind, it would take an army to stop him. Maybe Ampharos could do it since she's a powerful electric type but the main thing is that he knows his power.

    Espeon was still standing in the trainer's box still trying to comprehend what just happened. "Espeon come on over here girl." That broke her out of her trance. That and the nice belly rub made her feel refreshed; still had to be careful around that scar though. Damn thing is a terrible reminder of whatever she went through before she wanted to join the team. Surprisingly, no attacks hit that spot. Maybe Chuck was avoiding it on purpose. Maybe he didn't even see it. Anyway, I showed her the badge once I was done. "See this? You earned this badge Espeon." She'd probably never seen one before which is probably why she pawed at it in awe.

    The Pokémon Center was my one and only stop before I wanted to take the ferry back to Olivine. The huge market festival was tomorrow like Nick said. Maybe there'll be something worth buying since I didn't buy anything here so far. However, there is one more thing I had to take care of.

    I took the same route back... that same route with all of the fancy shops and the group of people that wanted me to lose. "Hey guys." They all stopped talking and looked at me.

    "Well well well, look who it is. I'm guessing you need some help after a crushing defeat?"

    I slammed my palm face down on a display table before I stared them down. "Suck it." My Storm badge stood out on the white table; they looked at me in disbelief.

    "How did you win on the first try? It usually takes three tries to beat his fighting types."

    "Guts. No guts, no glory." I scooped up my badge and walked away.

    Healing my Pokémon was pretty easy considering I only used two of them. Still, it never hurts to have everyone healed by the machines. I asked the nurse on duty if there was any Pokémon food available while the balls were sitting in the machine because even though that MooMoo Milk was delicious, it might not have been that filling. Unfortunately for me, the shipment for the center wasn't due to come in until evening. I wasn't about to stay in Cianwood wearing this blue wristband though. The docks were the only place I could feel comfortable so I made my way there. Ferries were scrambling through traffic to find their spots while the spot that was for the trainer express was still empty; might as well catch up on some sleep.

    A loud motor and a voice woke me up. "Hey, you going back to Olivine? Do you have a blue wristband?"

    "Yup." It was more of a speedboat than a ferry; so much for sleeping on the way back. Four trainers exited after somehow managing to fit in the small boat on the way over. Bow seating is usually not my style which means stern seating it is. Also, there's only one spot to sit up there. Before the boat revved up there was a woman's voice coming from the docks.

    "Waiiiiiiiiiiit!" Awww, I wanted the boat all to myself.

    The driver looked confused. "Ma'am, you need a blue wristband to use this express."

    "Oh yeah, I have one right here." She pulled out a wrinkled blue wristband from her bag.

    "Frankly, I'm surprised that nobody noticed you without a wristband in a tourist area. Not my problem though, hop on board." This is something I probably should have done once I got to the Pokémon Center.

    She took her seat next to me once everything was all cleared up. Really though? Out of all the empty spots on this small boat, you still sit next to me. We all waited for another five minutes until there was nobody else coming. After some time navigating through the traffic, we were on the open sea with the sun directly overhead. I will admit she did look beautiful in her white dress.

    Everything was smooth sailing until we ran into a whirlpool. Our driver turned to us and killed the engine. "I'll have to turn around and take a longer route to shore. Sorry about that." No big deal for me, but the woman was a little unnerved by that statement.

    Once we backtracked, there were no whirlpools to be seen but now there were wild Pokémon to deal with. Tentacool and Remoraid practically owned this part of the sea. However, they could care less that we were passing through. Our boat sent them swimming away if we slowly approached a school of them. I'll give our driver some serious credit not to just blow through these waters like I probably would do.

    Slowing down was something that made the woman visibly nervous. Conversations usually help people calm down, right? "You look nervous." Well, maybe not if you start it with that.

    She sighed. "Yeah, I need to get back to Olivine to bring this medicine to the lighthouse."

    A bottle that had numerous labels was pulled out of her bag. "So this can't be bought at any mart?"

    "No. This medicine is too strong to use on common battle injuries. It's a mix of herbs that can cure anything but the side effects are too much for a Pokémon that isn't severely ill. Think about it like this: do you need surgery every time you get a small cut?" She's got a point.

    "May I ask what it's for?"

    "You see, a few months ago the lighthouse Pokémon was severely ill and was struggling to breathe. A trainer who also was taking the gym challenge offered to get the medicine to fight the illness. I thought it got better, but sadly the illness has returned. This time I went and got the medicine and some other items for keeping the illness away for a long time." Her bag was filled with standard items you'd see at a mart along with more herbal supplements.

    Waves rocked the boat in the middle of her explanation of what specific herbs do. Lo and behold, a Tentacruel stood in our path. The driver sent out his Pokémon to persuade it to move. "Corsola, see if you can get it to move please." The pink spiky Pokémon jumped into the sea for a chat. It looked like it was going good until Tentacruel fired a Bubblebeam at it; there goes the negotiation. Poor thing was instantly knockout and now we were being eyed. No choice but to fight now.
    My arm instinctively reached for Ampharos' ball. "Come on out Amphar..."

    The woman grabbed my arm. "Stop!"


    She looked really concerned. "You'll be hurting innocent Pokémon and you'll be electrocuting us if you use electric attacks." Shit. I forgot one of the most basic things about water for a split second: it conducts electricity. Also, we're on a metal boat. My mistake almost caused some serious collateral damage.
    "Do you have Pokémon that can help?" She shook her head in defeat. So her Pokémon can't do anything, diver's Pokémon is out cold, I can't use Ampharos. Come to think of it, Growlithe isn't useful surrounded by water while Umbreon only can hit it with Dark Pulse. Espeon may not be ready to battle so suddenly despite being healed and Furret is meant more for close combat on land. Looks like it's Gyarados by default.

    "Gyarados, we're in a pinch!" It's unfortunate that I have to use him again so soon, but I'm all out of options. Luckily for me, Gyarados didn't have to break a sweat against Chuck. Tentacruel didn't look like it didn't want to back down. Tensions were running high as the woman and the driver had hopeful expressions on their faces. It didn't take long before the water types started going at it.

    Wrap seemed to be its only chance to beat the one thing keeping us alive. Massive waves rocked the boat as any remaining water Pokémon fled the scene. Using Thrash would endanger us so I went to a better move. "Use Dragon Rage!". An orange ball of energy was fired from close range and it was forced back; its tentacles had turned purple once it shook off the attack.

    "Oh no... it's Poison Jab." I turned to see the woman drop to her knees with her hands folded. Why was she praying? I have a few antidotes in my bag that will make poison go away.

    "Dragon Rage again!" I finally let out a sigh of relief once the move made Tentacruel faint before it could even touch my bruiser. A little concern came over me once I took a closer look at our surroundings. "Come on, let's get going."

    I probably sounded like an asshole, but some dark clouds are starting to form on the horizon. Our driver gunned the engine so fast that both of us flew back into our seats with me ending up on all on her stuff. My body should stay like this because I don't want her to lose any of her medicine. She on the other hand, can sit upright and enjoy the ride.

    Speedboats and ferries alike were all trying to get to their own boathouses at the Olivine docks once the first few drops of rain hit the water. Once we were found shelter in the boathouse, the woman and I thanked the driver for maneuvering the tough sea before both of them thanked me for being their bodyguard. More importantly, the woman didn't lose any of her medicine to the sea after checking her bag. They both left in a hurry which made me want to lie down in the boat for a little bit to decompress.

    A bottle covered in labels was wedged in between a seat cushion I tried to sleep on. Oops, looks like she forgot the medicine. I tried to look for her, but the area was empty. Damn, I didn't even ask for her name so I could at least have a chance of finding her. She did seem pretty shy and felt kinda guilty for jumping in the boat so late at Cianwood which is why she didn't want to talk. Hold on... I need to get to the lighthouse now!

    The streetlights were already on as the thick clouds and steady rainfall covered the entire city as well as into the country side. Not a single person was on the slippery cobblestone street on my way to the lighthouse. I arrived on the doorstep of the lighthouse and knocked on the door; there was no response so I let myself in. Powerful gusts of wind shut the door behind me once I took a few steps in.

    My worn out windbreaker didn't do a good job of keeping me somewhat warm so I called out Growlithe for some warmth. He's always willing to be carried and I really willing to get warm before I get sick. It was a little dark which means Ampharos is on duty too.

    An elevator was nearby but I wanted to explore. Taking the stairs started out okay until Ampharos was getting tired of walking on her stubby little legs after about six stories up. Who could blame her? This damn staircase seems to go on forever. A doorway was to the right after we finally made it to the top so we walked through it.

    Tall was a good description for the room we entered. A ceiling that was almost as tall as the ones in the Bell Tower and some complex looking equipment were the first two things I noticed. A sound of moaning echoed dully from the other side of the room. Bed ridden, the Pokémon seemed to be calling out to its master and panicked when it saw me instead; so Ampharos was the lighthouse Pokémon. My own Ampharos tried to calm it down, but it was no use.

    Roaring came from a corridor off to the side. "SCHTEEEEEEL." A very upset Steelix slithered its way next to the sickly Ampharos. My own electric sheep wasn't too fond of the roar so I recalled her leaving just Growlithe and me to see the huge steel snake.

    Growlithe was squirming in my arms ready to protect me. "No no no, it's fine. It's fine." Obviously it's well trained otherwise it would have sent me packing already. However, that didn't mean I was off the hook. The medicine was in my pocket so I slowly reached for it. Steelix had a low growl going on until I gently placed the medicine on the floor. "Just dropping it off, I'll be going now." If I've ever learned anything in life, it's that you never turn your back on a Pokémon that isn't yours. The moment you do, you're in trouble. I made it about halfway until the sickly Ampharos rolled around in pain. Steelix started to glare at me thinking I made its condition worse; this isn't looking good for anyone in the room.

    Light started to cover its tail. I have to find a way to defend myself without hurting it or Ampharos. "Ember at the base of its body!" Confused, Growlithe went for the weak fire move in front of the huge snake. My goal was to indirectly attack it so that we could run away safely. So far we were off to a bad start. Iron Tail came at my loyal partner while he was still spitting flames. "Jump!" Almost didn't call it out in time. That sideswipe would've left more than a mark.

    "Keep shooting Ember in front of it. We don't want to attack it or the Ampharos directly." Growlithe did as he was told. Unfortunately, Steelix didn't get the message and I was afraid we were going to duke it out in a place where there's a sick Pokémon.

    Fast paced footsteps were coming up from behind me. I took a risk and turned around to see the same girl from the boat. "Steelix that's enough!" It stopped its attack on a dime. The woman sighed as she walked over to it. "I did tell you to watch over Amphy but this person meant no harm. What would've happened if his Pokémon were severely injured?" The raging beast turned away in embarrassment. "It's okay Steelix; you can go back to your spot now. I'll explain everything." Just like that, it made its way back to the room it came from with no further complaining.

    "So you're its trainer?"

    She nodded. "Yes, and Amphy here is technically mine but he doesn't battle."

    "I see. So it just sits here in the lighthouse and guides ships?"

    "That's correct." Her facial expression changed before going on. "Oh I'm sorry, I never introduced myself today. My name is Jasmine."

    "I'm Mitch."

    I was an asshole to the driver of our boat and now I was being an asshole to Jasmine by coming in uninvited; I should stop talking but I had to clear some things up. "I apologize for barging in, the storm got out of hand really fast and I was trying to get out of the rain."

    "It's fine. I do feel a little guilty running off from the docks once we got back. I had to pick something up for Amphy before I came here." Jasmine pulled out a thin blanket with a Mareep pattern on it to show me.

    "An extra layer never hurts."

    Jasmine went over to Amphy to do a quick physical before rummaging through her bag. "Where is it? Where was that medicine?" She became more worried. "Did it fall into the ocean when we escaped the Tentacruel? If he doesn't get that medicine..." Man, she was really panicking.

    "I found it in the boat and was going to bring it here since you mentioned it on the way over." Jasmine immediately turned to me and I pointed to the spot where I placed it; she slowly picked it up and was shaking while walking over to Amphy."

    Her voice was shaky. "I-I-I owe you."

    "No. It's not a problem, really." Amphy sat up to take the medicine. This Ampharos is very important in more ways than one. Arceus knows what would happen to Jasmine if this thing died. Herbal aromas filled the room once she finished treating him. Apparently the combination of the herbs made him sleepy.

    "My little Amphy, you'll get better soon. You just need time."

    I stood awkwardly behind them, trying to see what its condition was. Jasmine just knelt down and placed the blanket over her partner as she gently rubbed his side. The room was silent for what seemed like hours until I broke the silence.

    "I need to get to the Pokémon Center for the night."

    A forlorn look appeared on Jasmine's face. "You can't get a room there this late. It's all booked up for tomorrows Market Festival." Nick was right; it was coming up real soon. She was thinking of what to do. "The rain isn't going to let up until the morning and I'd hate to see you stay outside in a tent tonight. You can stay in the lighthouse."

    Good point. Tent or not, that rain would be a problem if the downpour continued. "If you don't mind, I'd like to do that."

    Again, she looked a little sad. "The only beds here are the one Amphy is in and my bed where Steelix is."

    If someone offers you a place to sleep away from the harshness of nature, you find a way to make it work. "Don't worry, I have a sleeping bag. The only questions I have are can my Pokémon sleep outside their balls in here and is there Pokémon food?"

    "Of course. I trust you because you show compassion for your Pokémon unlike any trainer I've seen." Wow, that was a fast response. "We have some food for everyone too."

    Dinner time wasn't much later after I called everyone out. After we were all done eating, we all wanted to call it a day. Jasmine went to her room to give me one pillow while she got ready for bed. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I went to bed this early. All of my Pokémon slept with their usual counterparts with Growlithe and Furret right next to me. Those two never fail to keep me warm. Gyarados, Ampharos, Espeon, and Umbreon all decided to sleep near the foot of my sleeping bag.

    Jasmine turned on the lights. "Hey Mitch?"

    I was almost asleep. "Mmmmgh, yeah?"

    "I'm sleeping in here tonight. Amphy wants me to sleep next to him since you're sleeping next to your Pokémon."

    "Do whatever you want. It's your lighthouse."

    The lights were turned off after she climbed into bed. I tried to fall asleep for good, but I ended up replaying the evens of today in my head. What if I did use Ampharos? Would she have let me stay here tonight? Then there's the whole medicine incident that just happened. Scenarios played out in my head until I started to drift off.

    I can't wait for the Market Festival tomorrow.
  14. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 14- Olivine Market & Battle Festival

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    Sunlight flooded the room where we were sleeping on the day of the Market Festival. Amphy was still sleeping soundly but Jasmine had already left by the time I woke up. I wandered around the room because all six of my Pokémon were still snoozing. A few desks covered with papers were the only things to look at while everyone started to stir. However, one desk had hundreds of flyers in numerous stacks for today's big event.

    "Come to the Olivine Market Festival! The two day event will be filled with vendors selling specialty goods. Also, test your skills at the Battle Square for a chance to win a special prize package!" Nick was right about the whole thing being a big deal.

    Espeon was the first member up after a good rest so she took it upon herself to make sure everyone else got up soon. She poked everybody a few times in the hopes that they would wake up; it worked. That's incredible; they're never that alert in the morning. Apparently I wasn't too alert since I knocked over a massive stack of flyers and Espeon trotted over to help me pick them up with her psychic powers. She went back to everyone else and dropped one from her mouth in the middle of their circle. It didn't take much to get my team itching to battle, but they knew it was going to happen.

    All of my Pokémon were called back as I quietly left the room. Despite my normal walking pace, I still wanted to tiptoe my way down one flight of stairs. I'd really hate to see Steelix if Amphy woke up because of me. Once I reached the floor below me, I opted to take the elevator the rest of the way down. Ain't nobody got time for walking all the way down when there's a huge festival. My wallet was still full from my trip to Cianwood and a victory against a gym leader pocketed more money so even feeling my wallet felt good.

    Olivine was bustling more than usual as vendors lined the streets selling their SlowpokeTails or the Mahogany woman from the Pokémon center selling her "RAGECANDYBARS". I'm pretty sure it's just chocolate but they're cheap, so I took seven. One of these days I'll get actual food for my Pokémon instead of this junk food. Maybe once the festival is over I can get back to my normal habits.

    What I really wanted was the battle atmosphere and experience. Only problem is that I have no idea how to register. Where would I have to go? Is there even a map of this festival? Aimlessly wandering around is my best bet as dumb as that may sound. More vendors were shouting into the crowd to pitch their products until I noticed a worn out pink and black sign. A familiar voice was heard above everything else.

    "Howdy son!" Nick was under the beaten sign. It wasn't just that, he owned that sign. Hell, he owned the whole booth.

    "So you guys made it this time? That's good to hear."

    "Yup, we weren't sure if we could make it. Laura 'n Marybeth are wanderin' around right now. I don't need nothin so I'm watchin' the stand."

    "How's business? I know it's early in the festival."

    A forlorn look came over his face. "We haven't sold much son. We'd have to sell 100 bottles before we start makin' money." Damn! It cost 25,000P to set up a stand this time? I could see why Laura was having a tough time making a decision.

    I handed them 1,750P. "I'll take seven bottles please."

    "Ya don't have to do this..."

    I cut him off. "No it's fine. Your milk helped me get this." I pulled out the Fog Badge in front of him. "Beating Chuck was a little easier thanks to you." I know MooMoo Milk heals Pokémon right after a battle but it's still nutritious when everyone's well rested. Buying it for 250P was and still is a great investment.
    Nick just stared at it. "Cianwood's always been a fightin' type gym. I even battled Chuck's daddy way back when. Without a doubt the hardest gym I've ever fought at. Anyone from that family's hard to beat." He then handed me my seven bottles.

    "Could you tell me where to sign up for the Battle Square?"

    His finger pointed over my shoulder. "Right behind ya." Well, I feel like an idiot. I thanked him for everything and wished him good luck for the rest of the festival. The line for the battle registration was about thirty or so trainers long. Perfect for me since most of these trainers look like scrubs with their long faces.
    My turn came around after about ten minutes. It was literally the easiest thing to sign up for. "Please sign here. You're number for the bracket is 57."

    "I'm sorry, what does that mean? And what are the rules?"

    "Since this is a popular event due to the prize every year, the first 64 participants who sign up get to compete. It's a bracket style single elimination tournament. The round of 64, the round of 32, the round of 16 and the round of 8 are all one on one battles. The semifinals as well as the finals are 2 on 2 battles. Your judge will explain more rules on the field."

    "So who will I be battling?"

    "The lovely lady behind you." So my number is based on when I signed up. I owe Nick a favor after this. "Please feel free to enjoy the festival, but come back to the battle area before you're pairing is called otherwise you may be disqualified." I'd probably be better off staying put with a rule like that.

    My opponent found me after she registered. "Ummm, I'm kinda nervous right now but what's your name? I'm Ashley." She looked very young; probably a newer trainer.

    "I'm Mitch, nice to meet you. Is this your first time doing this?"

    "Technically, yes. I live nearby so I watched people win for years. Now that I'm finally old enough to take on the gym leaders, I want to see how good I really am." Her expression changed once a light bulb went off in her head. "But Cory's almost impossible to beat."

    Kid, work on your confidence... please. How are your Pokémon going to like that attitude? "Let me guess, he's won this multiple times?"

    Ashley nodded. "Four times in a row." Arceus, this Cory guy is the reason why the rest of the field looks depressed.

    "The streak ends today."

    She smirked. "Not if I have anything to say about it." There. Right there is something all young trainers should have. Confidence in your skills is a decent chunk of the pie chart to winning battles.

    Battles from the earlier rounds didn't really impress me. Most of them were more like who would make the least amount of mistakes as opposed to who was more skilled. This pattern worked in Cory's favor because he has some skill. His Electrode easily took care of his opponent's Machop with one Thunderbolt.

    The PA announcer's voice came over a loudspeaker. "Let's give a round of applause for contestants 55 and 56. Contestants 57 and 58, please report to your trainer's box." Ashley must've stayed close by too because she was already in the box before I took a single step. "All righty folks, we're almost at the end of the first round so let's get ready for another battle! Please listen to instructions from the judge."

    Our judge came out from the crowd and stepped into position. "Only one Pokémon per side and you must throw out a ball on the count of three. The match is over when one Pokémon cannot battle. In the event of a double knockout, both trainers will be eliminated." So they really want to get through this huh? I'm sorry Ashley, but I don't plan on losing. "One. Two. Three!"

    We both threw out our Pokémon at the same time. I went with Ampharos while Ashley went with Kingler. A local Pokémon for sure, the giant crab looked intimidating with its sharp pincers. It was going to be a slightly more difficult to win since Thundershock was my ranged attack and it was pretty weak. No doubt I'll win.

    Ashley wanted the first move. "Vicegrip!" The crab started coming toward my sheep which is exactly what I wanted.

    "Big mistake. Thunder Wave." Ampharos did its job paralyzing the Kingler so that it couldn't defend itself against my next attack. "Tunderpunch!" Her arm turned a bright yellow and sparks started to come out of it; poor Kingler never stood a chance.

    "That's it! Kingler is unable to battle. The victory goes to contestant 57!" That was probably one of the fastest battles I've had in a long time.

    My opponent slumped down to the ground in defeat after she recalled her partner. I approached her after we left the battle area. "That was an unlucky draw but don't worry, I'll beat Cory. That streak may be legendary around here. However, I don't care about what he's already done."

    All she could do was take my comments in stride. "I guess. Besides, you're more strategic than most people here." Something still troubled her. "About Cory, I've watched a lot of championship battles over the years but I feel like every time he's won it was a fluke." I asked her what she meant by fluke; she said that his wins just didn't feel legitimate.
    The rest of the battles in the first round in addition to all of the battles in the round of 32 were still boring. I tried to scout out Cory to see if he would use anything different; his Electrode was obviously his number one team member because he didn't use anyone else. Also, his style was still the same: Thunderbolt everything that stepped out onto the field.

    Once I was scheduled to battle again, I took my place in the makeshift box. The crowd seemed to get a little bigger since my last battle too. To my surprise, Ashley was in the crowd. Cory was on the opposite side scouting this fight as well with a group of what I guess would be his friends. I thought she might have left to enjoy the rest of the festival and I hoped he wouldn't be watching me; you can't win 'em all. Now is where the lights start to shine a little brighter. The judge was a different one than last time but the rules were still the same.

    My opponent either didn't pay attention to my last battle or didn't even see it because I used the same strategy on their Raticate. Another win for me meant that I was in the round of 16. Unfortunately for me, my strategy is too obvious at this point. Someone else is going to pick up on this and it's going to cost me.
    Since there were fewer participants, we were given more of a break before the round of 16. I needed it because I need a replacement for Ampharos. She's been doing excellent, but now I can throw everyone for a loop. Bracket matchups were rearranged so that the higher numbers battled the higher numbers and the lower numbers battled the lower numbers. However, the lower numbered people would battle first. A perk of signing up first was to scout out the competition. Well played organizers, well played.

    The battle area was still looking good despite the sheer number of Pokémon used in a short period of time so maybe I could use speed to my advantage. The judge rambled on until he gave the signal. Matchup number three for me was Magneton versus Growlithe. Ha! I knew someone would try to pull a stunt like that; I was extremely lucky that it wasn't a ground type. However, I will give credit to my opponent trying to force a double knockout because two electric types would take a long time to knock each other out.

    "Sonicboom!" Oh, it's not using a stronger electrical attack? Fine with me.

    "Flame Wheel!" My loyal partner charged ahead and nailed Magneton right in the middle of its body. No way a move like that was going to be stopped by a weaker Sonicboom.

    "Aw no, I'm not going down that easy. Tri Attack, let's go!" Finally, someone who can last longer than one attack. A glowing triangle found its mark since Growlithe was too close to dodge. He went to get up until ice slowly started to cover its body. "Don't let it move! Thundershock!" One more attack hit Growlithe before he completely froze over.

    I have to thaw out now otherwise I'll lose. "Flame Wheel now!" Ice turned to water as he went for the same spot as last time. This time, Magneton was down for the count. Hey now, this is what I'm talking about in terms of competition. Cheering from the crowd put a hop in my step on the way out of the battle area.
    "Some fine battlin' young man." I turned in the direction of the voice and was met with Laura and Marybeth. Their Growlithe was busy eating some food until he saw me.

    "So far so good. I'm getting really close to the finals." Laura waved over to her husband. "I thought Nick was watching the stand."

    "Well we do have family here so we asked 'em for some help. Someone's runnin' around sayin' that a person's winning in one move. I had a feeling it'd be you." Nick never saw her wave her hand, so she went to get him along with Marybeth. She screamed back toward me. "We'll be back for your next round!"

    Before the next round started, the PA announcer made an announcement. "Now that we are getting closer to the end, I'd like to welcome a special guest. Making her appearance today, the gym leader of Olivine, Jasmine!" My jaw dropped. I turned to the elevated platform and there she was sitting right next to the announcer. That shy woman in the lighthouse is the gym leader here? You honestly couldn't tell me that and expect me to believe you.

    Only seven other trainers stood in my way of that prize once the round of 16 ended. It was just a matter of who I had to face. I'd bet all the money I have that Cory and me will be in the finals. For now, I have to focus on the person in front of me.

    Ashley managed to find me in the huge crowd. "Hey there Mitch, I like what I'm seeing." Memories of our previous battle weren't even in her mind once she came up to me.

    "Thanks Ashley. I'm feeling like Cory won't be a problem because I have a nice counter for his Electrode in my Growlithe. It's small, fast, has close combat moves and ranged moves."

    She pondered my thought process and nodded in agreement; her facial expression changed after that. "I've got a feeling why Cory has won in the past. I think his group of friends entered this too and they're losing on purpose whenever they face him." An interesting thought. "Look, they win early on so that it's just them and him in the later rounds. However, you beat one of his friends last round. Also, there seems to be less of them compared to last year."

    "I have the first battle of the quarterfinals, but after I'm done I can look into that."

    Afternoon light was starting to burn so we were set to resume. The crowd was now taking up some serious space yet I could still point out the whole ranch family, Ashley, and Cory. Quarterfinals matchup was Clefable against my Furret. This should be good; normal versus normal.

    "Use Return Furret!" She sprinted toward the enemy Pokémon and landed a powerful blow; it shook off the attack.

    "Metronome!" This person has to be insane. A move like that should be a last resort not something you start out with. Its entire body began glowing brightly but I had no idea what the move was.

    "Quick, use Dig to hide!" Furret somehow dug her way through the cobblestone street to avoid the attack. What she felt underground was a tremor so she instinctively went back up to safety fearing an Earthquake attack. Unfortunately for her, it wasn't an Earthquake. She popped out of the hole. "Furret get down!" That tremor was the start of a powerful Explosion attack.

    The audience gasped once the dust settled. Clefable fainted while Furret was still standing albeit panting very heavily. Come on judge, call the damn match! He didn't make a decision yet even though Clefable's been out for almost a minute. I was about to scream at him until I heard the magic words.

    "Clefable is unable to battle! The victory goes to number 57."

    In order to avoid him changing his mind, I called back Furret as soon as possible. Arceus dammit, that moron's insane for making me wait that long. Another fear crossed into my mind once the other battles started up: what if the judges are trying to favor Cory?

    I took Ashley's warning to heart so I watched Cory's battle and it was actually true albeit a little more subtle. Whenever Cory would attack the opposing trainer wouldn't even call out anything; neither an attack nor a dodge command. Electrode took some weak hits too which leads me to believe that they're practically feigning this battle or at least doing as little damage as possible so Cory can breeze on through.

    After the final battle of the quarterfinals was over, Jasmine spoke over the sound system. "Let's give a round of applause to the final four participants. Remember, the prize is almost within reach."

    Yet again I strode into the trainer's box only to see that my opponent was absent. I scanned the crowd for anybody that might be plowing through to get to the battle area, but I did see something that got me furious through all of the commotion.

    My competitor was near the front of the crowd along with Cory. He was handed a wad of at least 2000P and given a pat on the back. That son of a bitch. He was paying one of his friends to lose on purpose. The official had no choice to declare me the winner by forfeit. Once Cory's battle was announced, I expected him to win with Electrode yet again. However, his partner didn't show up either. He must have paid him off earlier rather than do it when the spotlight was on him.

    I guess he wanted an easy path to the prize. Too bad he'll be going against a strategy that I've only used in desperate situations: the no mercy strategy.
  15. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 15- Underdog

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    Money has always been something that I've been tight with. I spend it sparingly and when I do, it's usually on my Pokémon. I don't care how wealthy you are, using money like that is always a waste. The worst part is that nobody caught it. Someone could say something but there would be no proof; if I were that guy, I'd take my wad of money and run now. Jasmine and the announcer don't care who wins, so they aren't in on this which means everyone's in for a roller coaster final.

    The announcer sounded flustered when he spoke over the loudspeaker. "L-l-ladies and gentleman, this is the first time we've had forfeits in a semifinal round but rules are rules." Slowly the energy came back. "This is the finals of the Olivine Market Festival! We have number 1 versus number 57 in a 2 on 2 battle. Let's give them a hand!" The crowd circle was enormous to the point of people piggybacking just to get a glimpse of the action. Despite the amount of people, Ashley and the entire ranch family found their way to the front to watch and I acknowledged their presence.

    The judge came forward and called us both in to go over the rules. "Alright gentlemen, this will be 2 on 2 with no substitutions so choose wisely. The lower number will throw their Pokémon out first." Wonderful, so the battle is basically decided on who faints first. However, I give the organizers credit for hyping this up. "This round will have a tiebreaker in the event of a double knockout." He turned to go to his officiating area while Cory gave me a nudge.

    "Hey. So... you can take this right now and walk or will I have to hurt some Pokémon? A pile of folded money was taken out of his pocket; it was a hefty 5000P. There was a lot of money staring me in the face right now. Money that could be used in any way I wanted and surely would keep me financially stable for awhile. He slowly brought it closer to me in the hopes I would take it.

    "Tell ya what, I'll do it. However, we have to give the people a show."

    Cory beamed once he hard those words followed by the money exchanging hands. "Alrighty then, let's get to it." We walked back to our respective boxes so that our little meeting didn't seem too suspicious. The roar of the crowd was nearly deafening as the judge signaled the battle to start.

    "Growlithe, you're up!" I had him to lead off because I probably knew what was going to happen.

    "Electrode!" Yup, just as I thought, Electrode is faster but Growlithe is more agile than that ball.

    Before the judge signaled the battle to start, sparks flew toward my partner. "What the hell man?"

    "Sorry, it sometimes discharges electricity when it's pumped for a battle." I didn't buy it and the judge didn't care about what he just saw. This just confirms that I'm on my own in this situation. No mercy was my strategy and now it's time to put it to use after the flags went up.


    "Ember!" I had to be careful if I wanted to charge head on because Cory's unpredictable. The electrical charge struggled with my flames until a smokescreen covered the area.

    "Bite!" Electrode didn't see it coming and took some heavy damage from my puppy Pokémon. Growlithe never let go until he was zapped by a stray spark. "Flame Wheel!" Smoke still covered the field as a ball of fire rammed into the red and white ball.

    "Come on Electrode, Sonicboom!" Normally it could dodge that, but the gap between our two Pokémon was too small. A bombardment of waves came at it until I ordered a Flame wheel. That call took Electrode off guard so it stopped firing. Looks like Cory isn't that good as he thinks he is, letting his Pokémon get caught off guard.

    "Get some distance and use Ember!" Growlithe retreated to the edge of the area and fired his flames. All of the flames found their mark and left a nice burn as a gift.

    Cory was getting furious that the act was serious. He seemed to take his eyes off of the fight to look into the crowd; he grinned. "Thunderbolt!" He pointed in the opposite direction and the electricity went to Marybeth's Growlithe.

    "Quick, jump in front!" Without hesitation or regard for its life, my Growlithe stepped in to take the hit but the bolt was too large and both Growlithes dropped to the ground. Right then, I knew that my "no mercy" strategy wasn't going to be good enough. The only option is to beat Cory's Pokémon into submission so bad that a Pokémon Center wouldn't be enough.

    A triumphant look was on his face. "Looks like I win round one."

    I kept my composure. "Not yet." My Growlithe stood back up with flames in its mouth. "Ember!" A massive shot of flames was hurled at the Electrode. That wasn't an Ember; that was a bona fide Flamethrower. It rolled out of the way just in time to dodge the move but still felt the burn from before. Before another attack was ordered Growlithe fainted from exhaustion.

    "Growlithe is unable to battle! The winner is Electrode."

    Shit, now I see what Ashley meant by fluke wins. Although I have to believe that he didn't attack anyone in all of his tournament wins. I took some time thinking about who to send out next. Everyone who battled earlier is out of the running; I need someone who's fully healthy to take on his second Pokémon since Electrode is about to faint. Gyarados would be risky and I can't put Espeon in a pressure situation like this. Umbreon is the best choice for now and I know he's itching to battle.

    Marybeth was wailing from the sidelines as people went to work on her fainted Growlithe. I walked over and consoled her. "Don't worry, just give it these." I took out one revive and some potions. Her grandparents did their best to make her feel better. "I promise that I'll make him pay." She still didn't want to look at me or calm down so I made sure to tell Nick and Laura to watch the rest of this battle.

    "Go... Umbreon." Its demeanor was that of an assassin; ready for battle even before I even grabbed my ball. He looked around in the direction of the wailing and recognized what had happened. The response was to let his rings illuminate and baring his teeth.

    Shade's P.O.V.

    The battle had looked intense from my ball. Growlithe was putting some hurt on that overgrown electric ball and even fired off a Flamethrower. Sorry buddy, Quilava's Flame Wheel is still stronger. It must have been a mistake on my opponent's part since I saw a stray Thunderbolt go into the crowd. I was called on and was ready to go. Upon materializing, I saw the damage. That little girl was crying because my opponent hurt her Pokémon that wasn't even fighting. I know way too much about collateral damage to let that slide.

    Sparks flew toward me before we were given the chance to attack by the judge; now I know it's playing dirty. Once he threw up the flags, my master was hell bent on finishing what Growlithe started. "Quick Attack." That icy tone was enough to make me cringe. Never before have I even sensed that Mitch had this side to him. I guess he doesn't appreciate it either. My body felt lighter once I charged ahead and slammed into my target with a decent amount of force. Considering that it was knocked out, I waited for a switch. I turned to see Mitch so that he can give me a command. Mitch was confused and so was I as to why that Electrode was on the field. Clearly it had no energy to move yet the judge didn't seem to care.

    Mitch was a little upset. "Come on judge, you know that it's knocked out." He seemed to check it over again but refused to acknowledge it. "Since you won't call the round, I have no choice but to keep battling until I've been told it's unable to battle or Cory switches. You do remember that if you switch you lose the round right?" No response. "I will not apologize for what is about to happen then."

    I didn't have to wait much longer for a response. "Umbreon... beat it into submission. Use any moves you want. Make sure you hit it hard because it's not knocked out yet. Do you understand?" Oh I understand master, but you've never been this upset before. My attacks came one after another but I didn't use Toxic because I have to keep the illusion I have four moves. The crowd started to jeer and I started to hate myself for attacking a completely defenseless Pokémon. Even if it hurt another one, it should at least be conscious. Upon listening closer to the jeering, I got a different feeling.

    "What are you doing ref?"

    "Can't you see it's out cold?"

    "Come on kid! Call your Electrode back already!" I was relieved that they weren't going after Mitch or me, but I still felt a little bad.

    Dark Pulse was the last move I used before the corrupt official stopped the round. "Electrode is unable to battle. Umbreon wins." Damn right Umbreon wins; this was over on the first Quick Attack. A Donphan was sent out in its place after Mitch and his opponent were done yelling at each other.

    "This is it. The winner of this round wins the whole thing. Begin!" Sneak attacks didn't start the battle this time which was a plus for me. Donphans aren't all there in the brains department, but they make it up with those tusks.

    "Horn Attack!"

    "Dark Pulse." Speed also doesn't seem to favor the elephant either so I can dodge with ease as I launch a counter attack. My attack sent it back a few feet but it was up on its feet scraping its leg on the ground like a Tauros.

    "Fury Attack!"

    "Bite." No emotion behind Mitch's commands at all; he really wants to prove a point. My teeth stopped some of the blows but I still took two hits. What's a little poke to me? Another assault but this time I took four out of five hits. Maybe this thing isn't as slow as I thought.

    "Well I think it's time to end it here. Rollout!" Donphan curled up into a ball before rolling at me much faster than I ever would have expected. Jumping over it seemed like the best way to go until it turned around and hit me when I landed. Yet again it rolled around for the third hit; that armored body is something not to mess around with.

    I was completely clueless until Mitch had a plan. "Use Dark Pulse to throw it off course." Good plan, since taking that thing head on seems like a recipe for disaster. It was coming too fast for me to hit it directly. However, I could hit around it to break its concentration or send it flying. Nobody expected it to go that high in the air once I created a divot in the ground for it to launch off of. There was a decent impact from the fall, but it still kept doing.

    "You're an idiot, giving my Donphan more speed. I want my money back after I cripple your Pokémon too." What was my opponent talking about? Didn't matter since I couldn't afford to take this Rollout attack.

    "Faint Attack, don't hold back." Oh boy, I'm not sure if Mitch knows what those words mean. Still, he has to have a good reason to order an attack like that. I charged up my deadliest move and went straight for the rolling elephant. The impact made the crowd cringe; some even turned away in horror of what I just did. Hell, did I even do what I just did?

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    It seems like the only way to win this fight is to truly beat Cory's Pokémon into a pulp. Electrode was obviously unable to do anything after one hit from Umbreon but after the beating I gave it; it will definitely need more than a Pokémon Center to heal those injuries. Nobody placed the blame on me which was what I had hoped since it's my job to fight until the judge appropriately steps in.

    Cory screamed over the crowd. "What's your problem asshole?!"

    Should've kept your mouth shut. Now it's my turn to be a smartass. "No problem here. The judge simply ruled that it wasn't knocked out and you didn't want to recall it so I kept going. Like I said, I'm putting on a show." I know I'm not wrong.

    That got him furious. "Donphan get out here!"

    We went back and forth for awhile until I made a mistake giving it more speed on a Rollout attack. Cory was still running his mouth about the money. First, did you honestly think I would throw this battle? Why would I throw any battle? Second, you're an idiot for giving the money before the battle. Even if you backed out on me, I'd beat the money out of you. Third, you attack a Pokémon that is in the opposite direction of mine on the chance you could say it was a mistake. All of this could've been avoided if you kept your mouth shut.

    I kept my composure but still remained cold hearted deep down once I ordered an all out Faint Attack. Without a doubt that was hardest, most gruesome impact I've witnessed. Almost everyone in the crowd shut their eyes upon hearing the sound; silence filled the air. There was a legitimate chance that I may have just killed a Pokémon. After a minute the judge had uttered a word.

    I let my feelings be known. "Sir, there is no way on Arceus' green earth that this Donphan can battle. I'm seriously surprised that it's even breathing. "I can wait all day but that Donphan needs more than a Pokémon Center immediately. Come to think of it, Electrode needs it too. Cory has nobody to send out since it would be a violation of the rules. Face it, I won the battle." There was no response from anyone. "Let me get this straight, you are giving me permission to practically murder a Pokémon in front of all of these people."

    "That's enough!" Jasmine's voice came from the announcer's booth. "Number 57 err, I mean Mitch is the winner of the tournament."

    Once she descended to the bottom of the stairs, Cory finally spoke. "That's Tauros shit! I can still fight. I have more team members to send out and claim my prize." Jasmine tried to calm him down but he was too upset. "I should get the victory because I paid him to lose!" Checkmate. Whatever happens after this should be good.

    Jasmine went from disappointed to furious in a heartbeat. "You did WHAT? Leave Olivine at once or I will call the authorities." He recalled the almost dead Pokémon and just left in the silence of the crowd.

    Umbreon looked at me with sadness in his eyes so I walked over and stroked his head. "It's okay boy. You did nothing wrong and I'll take any punishment. I'm proud of you for battling." He just sat down as the gym leader came over to us with a microphone.

    She whispered into my ear before she made an announcement. "This will be dealt with later." She put the microphone up to her mouth. "Everyone, let's give a big hand to our champion!" A roaring ovation echoed throughout the city with the teary eyed ranch family running to me.

    Nick was the first one to talk. "Thank you so much son! I can't believe what I just saw."

    "No problem. Now do me a favor and take this." I handed him the 5000P that Cory gave me. "This should help you turn a profit as well as help with additional medical care for Growlithe."

    "Is this...?"

    "Don't worry about it. Umbreon, come over here." Marybeth was still upset about the whole ordeal so I could take her mind off of it. I bent down to its eyes. "Play with the little girl again please. I know you're tired but you can cheer her up for a little bit." There was no argument from him as he let her pet him. Minutes went by until Jasmine stood next to me after she had gathered some items.

    "Now that the tournament's over, I'd like to present our champion with the prize package. First is the prize money with a value of 10,000P. Your second prize is a super discount for all of the vendors at the festival. Your third prize is a battle for a gym badge with me at the conclusion of the festival tomorrow night." The crowd was deafening once she was done with the presentation.

    I took the time to stick around and mingle with people who wanted to talk to me. By now it was getting dark, so I wanted to explore the rest of the festival before it shut down for the night after I called Umbreon back; everyone was healed on site. I played a lot of carnival games before I took advantage of the super discount. Some vendors gave me free items while others slashed their prices so that I could purchase their items. Everyone got a specialty item for their recent hard work.

    Furret was given a Silk Scarf.

    Ampharos was given a Magnet.

    Gyarados was given a Mystic Water.

    Growlithe was given a Charcoal.

    Espeon was given a sprinkle of Odd Incense.

    Umbreon was given Black Glasses.

    All of those items were really expensive. However, they had heard about what happened and decided to reward me for my decision making by giving them to me for free.

    It was one of those nights where I wanted to sleep in my tent alone. It's not that I was mad at my Pokémon; I just needed to be alone for the night. Tomorrow was going to be another big day. I can't wait to prove that I deserved my title.
  16. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 16- The Main Event

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    For the first time in awhile I took the liberty to sleep in. Sunshine was still creeping into the tent so I finally gave in and packed everything up to go into town. Day two of the huge festival was just as busy as day one except for the lack of trainers this time around; they were replaced with tourists. Like yesterday, I walked through up and down the aisles of booths to see if anything new was there but I found nothing. As I was about to go down another row, a police officer approached me.

    "Excuse me; are you the winner from yesterday's tournament?" Jasmine said that incident would be taken care of. I guess he wants to talk to me.

    "Yeah, is there something you want from me or...?"

    "I don't want something from you. However, our city's gym leader does." Well I do have some time to kill before the important gym battle. The officer led me to the gym after maneuvering through the waves of people. It was a little out of the way but it was still a sightseeing exhibit. A few people were wandering about the inside to get a look on how a gym runs. Jasmine was waiting for us in the back of the gym by her office. Once the door shut after the officer left, I felt like it was going to be a long conversation.

    We both looked at each other awkwardly until she spoke up first. "Do you have any idea what's been going on since yesterday?" I just shook my head in denial. To be honest, I want this whole thing to be forgotten but I'll let her speak. "We've gotten all kinds of feedback from spectators but most of it was negative. Some people even want you to go to jail."

    "Woah woah woah what? That's a bit much don't ya think?"

    She leaned forward on her desk. "Well you kept attacking his Pokémon even though they were knocked out. Also, the other trainer had to take his Pokémon to the ICU ward of the regional hospital, not the Pokémon Center. What do you have to say for yourself?" I'd say mission accomplished since that was my plan; there was to be no mercy.

    "Maybe you couldn't see the battle from your perspective but Cory wasn't exactly fighting fair. His Electrode got off a free hit before we started. He attacked my friend's Growlithe who was on the other side of the battle field." Jasmine backed up a little bit; I started to raise my voice. "Our judge had to know him because he wouldn't say Electrode had fainted. I can't assume it's knocked out so I hit it with everything I had because I apparently wasn't hitting a defenseless Pokémon; the same goes for Donphan too. And on top of it all, he paid me to lose which led to all of this." Now she was leaning back in her chair. "I said it before on the field and I'll say it again: I will not apologize for my actions."

    Back to square one with both of us starting into each other's eyes to get a feeling for what the other person was thinking. She took my words into consideration before responding. "This... money he gave you. Where is it?"

    "I don't have it." She shot me a dirty look as if I pocketed it (which I would have done, let's be honest). "That money was given to the little girl's family to pay for Growlithe's medical expenses; it's a Pokémon that herds Miltank as opposed to battling. I'm willing to bet a Pokémon Center wasn't enough for it either." Yet another long and awkward pause. "Look, I can bring you to the booth they run to verify my story if you want."

    "That won't be necessary. I just wanted to know why you did what you did. As for your opponent, he has been penalized by the Pokémon League after some officials were in the crowd and caught up to him before he left town. I don't know his punishment but I can tell you that we can put this behind us. That will be all. I'll see you tonight." Finally! I walked out of Jasmine's office knowing this won't be hanging over my head.

    Upon exiting her office, I saw a group of construction workers assembling some extra bleachers on the top row of the gym concourse. So this whole shebang is that important. I mean, would anyone want a dishonorable trainer battling the beloved gym leader on the biggest stage in the city? To my surprise Ashley was waiting outside the front door for me after I was done picturing the huge crowd ready to watch us go at it.

    "So how'd it go with Jasmine and the police?" Huh? I highly doubt that anyone told her I was in some kind of trouble.

    "Good I guess. We cleared everything up and I still have a gym battle at the end of the festival. Cory received some type of suspension from the Pokémon League."

    She took a second before letting out a deep breath. "I probably shouldn't do this but I just trust you. Also, you beat the type of trainer that I'm looking out for." The hell does that mean? Ashley reached into her pocket and pulled out her wallet. A large silver badge was front and center. "I work as an official for the Pokémon League." Okay then, my day just got really interesting. "It is true that I've lived near Olivine but my parents both work for them as well. Since I'm 17, I applied for a position although most officials are much older than me."

    I'm so confused. "Why are you telling me this?"

    "I can't stand when trainers try to weasel their way into the Silver Conference. The reason that I'm here is that one of the prizes was a gym battle; if that wasn't part of the prize then I wouldn't be here. Someone noticed how easy he had it one tournament so we looked into it. What got the ball rolling was that he had six badges yet still couldn't beat Jasmine." A paper filled with numbers was pulled out of a folder. "He had faced her the traditional way twice along with his four tournament battles but still lost. My job was to beat him until I ran into you but I will give you credit back at the league office."

    "Uhhh thanks I guess?" Giving credit where credit is due is a good reason to trust someone.

    She looked back at me before walking off. "I don't necessarily agree with what you did to his Pokémon, but your actions were justified considering the circumstances. If another trainer described what you did to me in a normal battle, you'd probably have your trainer license suspended at the very minimum."
    Killing time at the festival was the one of the many things I've been missing in my life. Traveling all around the region is exhausting so it's nice to relax in one place for a few days. Just thinking about moving on to the next gym is a depressing way to live the trainer life. Experiences I get from Olivine will be carried throughout my journey; I owe all of this to Nick.

    More booths were visited with me not buying anything because I took care of that last night. Everyone was released from their balls so they could eat before the grand finale. Trying to plan for Jasmine is both easy and hard because she uses steel types. There aren't too many out there but I have to watch out for secondary typings. Steelix is part ground so Ampharos is out. Espeon isn't good for this gym either and Furret only has Dig as a decent attacking move. Umbreon's moves aren't that good but after yesterday, I'm willing he'll still hit hard while Growlithe has a natural type advantage as well as Gyarados. Looks like the boys will have a field day for this battle.

    I gave everyone the usual pep talk before walking in unison to the gym after the sun finally set. There was no set time that I had to arrive but judging by the amount of people flocking to the gym, I'd say I was on time. Nobody made a scene when I casually took my place in the trainer's box except for an event coordinator who shooed me off to some kind of tunnel.

    A voice boomed over the loudspeaker after everyone found their seat or standing room area. "Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment you've all been waiting for, the grand battle of the Olivine Festival!" Thank Arceus that the retractable roof was open otherwise I would've gone deaf from the cheering. The voice continued. "It is with great pleasure that I introduce our gym leader and Festival Queen, Jasmine!" The noise had to be getting into the balls of my Pokémon because it was somehow even louder than before.

    The shy woman that I met on the boat who wore a modest dress came onto the field wearing an elegant white and silver dress. "Thank you to all who showed up for this season's festival. Without you there would be no chance to show off so many unique items all in one spot. Whether you purchased or bartered for them, I hope you appreciated what different parts of the region have to offer. Now it is time for the main event. The winner of the tournament has the right to face me in an official gym match and I accept his challenge. Mitch! Please step into the trainer's box and face me." I was given a slight push by the same person who shooed me off and I came out of the tunnel like some kind of athlete. It looked and felt so different now that I was seconds away from facing her. The field was pretty standard given the circumstances so at least I have that going for me.

    I'd like to think I do a good job of hiding my emotions with a good poker face, but a little bit of nervousness managed to break through. Luckily for me, nobody seemed to notice the trembling in my fingers as I listened to the judge. "All right, this is an official gym match with each side using three Pokémon. Only the challenger is allowed to substitute and the battle is over when all three of one trainer's Pokémon are unable to battle. Ready? Begin!"

    Jasmine started off with a Magnemite while I opted for Growlithe; might as well see how far I can get before I run into that steel leviathan. She ordered a Thunderbolt so I countered with Flamethrower. The moves collided in midair resulting in a thick cloud of smoke which allowed Growlithe to flawlessly execute a Flame Wheel. To the average person watching, it was no surprise that Magnemite went down in a heap. Also, it was no surprise hearing boos from some sections because Jasmine is beloved here. Our legitimate judge called the round quickly and ordered Jasmine to send out her second Pokémon.

    "Magneton, time for battle!" The evolved form of any Pokémon is obviously stronger but last time I checked, it was still a steel type.


    "Flamethrower!" It was déjà vu all over again with a longer time period before our attacks turned to smoke. I'm not willing to use Flame Wheel like last time since Magneton has a wider variety of attacks. My suspicions were confirmed as the smoke cleared; a Tri Attack was waiting for Growlithe. No more jumping in close. "Get some distance and use Flamethrower!" Extra space between us may have confused the audience but based on what I've seen, Flamethrower doesn't lose power over a short distance like that. Flames engulfed it and it was ruled unable to battle.

    Crowd noise went up once Jasmine recalled her Magenton. You could cut the tension with a butter knife yet everyone knew what was coming. It's completely unfair to suggest that her previous Pokémon were weak; a gym leader doesn't have weak Pokémon. It just so happens that a strong move can get the job done. Now is the time where almost every trainer would get cocky considering fire dominates steel types.

    She looked down at her most trusted partner. I could only imagine what they've been through together besides the whole Amphy scenario. Maybe fire types didn't intimidate Steelix since every trainer would pack one for this gym but I still have to use mine to my advantage. "Go Steelix!" Another deafening roar came over the stadium at the sight of Olivine's protector. Knocking this thing out is going to take some serious teamwork and a whole lotta luck. Growlithe looked healthy so I left him in. The flags went up. We both remained silent for some odd reason. Nerves? Couldn't be, she's been in a lot of tough battles and I'm not one to freeze up in key moments. Gauging the other person? Most likely.


    "Rock Throw!" Ah hah! So that's how she deals with fire types on offense. A little surprising to reveal that strategy so early in the round; that move decimated her other Pokémon so it's not like she wanted to risk it. Growlithe did a nice job of maneuvering through the falling rocks and landed the move albeit a much weaker one.

    A risky move wasn't my style, but I want to see if I could catch her off guard. "Flame Wheel!" Rock throw is a little harder to execute if a running fireball is coming for you even if you're a gym leader's last line of defense.

    "Screech then Rock Throw." A monstrous roar came from Steelix that stopped Growlithe in its tracks and silenced the entire audience; she is well prepared for fire types. Another barrage of rocks soon followed with most of them hitting my loyal partner. He looked exhausted but shook his head when I pulled out his ball. A switch would save him now, but he wants to push himself. Steelix went for round two so Growlithe retorted with smaller Flamethrowers in the hopes that one would hit. One boulder went through the fire move and hit Growlithe square in the chest. Before he fainted he fired one last burst of fire; it found its mark.

    "Growlithe is unable to battle. Steelix is the winner." It was a good ride considering I never knew Screech was a near perfect counter for physical moves. Using Gyarados now would be risky since Umbreon would have to finish it off if Gyarados didn't damage it enough. Honestly, Umbreon might like a challenge like this to get stronger. Experimented on or not he still wants to succeed.

    Shade's P.O.V.

    A gym battle shouldn't be this easy. Growlithe made Magnemite and Magneton look like scrubs while taking no damage; Steelix is more than a step above those two. I still remember the time I was scared of steel types because I had a type disadvantage. This time around, being scared isn't a choice. Fear almost claimed me until I broke free from the lab. It had me until I saved Ruby from Ariados. The day Mitch found us at our darkest hour was the day fear lost its stranglehold on my life. Now it's my turn to put a stranglehold on fear. Mitch said that the boys were going to play today and his hand is coming for my ball. Showtime.

    Battle stances shown by us are a good indication as to how ready we are. Some Pokémon like to keep a poker face while others like myself favor the aggressive stances 100% of the time. This time was no exception despite the massive steel snake in front of me.

    "Rock Throw!"

    "Snack time Umbreon. Use Bite." Falling rocks aren't exactly delicious or nutritious but it beats getting hit by them. Most of them were easily dodged while I bit into the ones that were smaller.

    "Iron tail!" About eight feet of tail turned to shiny silver before being swung at me. Shit.

    "Jump to dodge then follow it up with Faint Attack!" Easier said than done. Jumping back was better for me compared to jumping up but I had to travel longer to hit it. On most Pokémon, my attack would have dealt severe damage. However Steelix is a living tank so he took it quite nicely.

    My opponent took a second to talk to my master. "You have an interesting strategy Mitch. I expected that you would use a fire type but nobody here would think to use a physical style or an Umbreon."

    I dare not take my eyes off of Steelix. "I prefer to weigh my options beforehand. My team isn't exactly built for something like this so I improvised. Umbreon has a distinct battle style that is overlooked by everyone. I'm wondering if you'll find out what it is. Dark Pulse!"

    Black energy came from my maw before Steelix could get a chance to defend itself; scored a critical hit. Another powerful move and the same result but I noticed some smoke coming out of a rut in its body. So Growlithe left a nice gift for me, I'll be sure to take advantage of that last ditch Flamethrower.

    "Iron Tail, sideswipe it." There was no dodging this one because I was too close. Nothing has ever hit me harder. Pinsir with super effective moves didn't deal that much power in one blow. Gasping for breath hurt along with trying to stand up. "Screech." That painful roar found its way to my ears while it went for a regular tail slap; I moved out of the way.

    "Faint Attack!" The rut in its body was my target but I wasn't prepared for its defense.

    "Counter with Sandstorm!" Tornadoes of sand acted like a shield to protect it from harm.

    Mitch wasted no time coming up with a new plan. "Faint Attack and Quick Attack to break through!" Our audience gasped at what Mitch just said. It sounds like suicide because going head first into a tank like that can cause serious injury. Since Steelix has that rut from earlier, its outer level is much softer.

    Sharp rocks buffeted me as I went in for a monster hit. After all I've been through, does thing really think a sandstorm is going to slow me down for a second time? After I landed the hit, probably not. Moans of pain came from its mouth which meant I hit the sweet spot; now we're talking. "Okay Steelix finish it with Iron Tail." Again, I was caught too close to it so I went with Faint Attack to minimize the damage. I roared as we collided but it seemed like no use; I was tossed aside and couldn't stand.

    "Umbreon is unable to battle. Steelix is the winner!" Son of a bitch... I lost. So this is what utter defeat feels like. Walking back to Mitch is something I can do to prove that I can show how tough I really am. Just like the time we met, I stumbled towards him and collapsed with tears in my eyes. Does this mean I'll lose every single gym battle from here on out? Ruby did a good job against Chuck but I did nothing.

    A voice came from behind me. "Just relax." My master walked out onto the field to pick me up and carry me back to the box. "Umbreon, look at me." Looking at him seemed like the wrong thing to do considering I just lost. "Please, look at me." Disappointment was written all over my face until he whispered in my ear. "You took advantage of Growlithe's work and now it's time for Gyarados to take advantage of your work." I tilted my head in confusion until I saw that my last ditch Faint Attack left a nice mark on its tail.

    The crowd was cheering louder than ever before I was sent back to my ball. Gyarados has his work cut out for him.
  17. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 17-Fireworks

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    It's funny that trainers use the phrase "we have to scratch, claw, and fight" to describe a hard battle. This is not some normal cliché, my previous two Pokémon have done just that to Jasmine's Steelix. Nobody sees the fruits of Growlithe and Umbreon's labor quite yet because that rut on Steelix's tail is not that big. The exterior level is weakened so all I need is a few strong moves from Gyarados to wrap this up. Will Sandstorm cause me some problems though? I had to order a Quick Attack just to get past the makeshift barrier let alone get a move off. Gyarados ending this would take more than brute force like in Chuck's battle. No doubt that Poliwrath was strong, but it wasn't a giant metal leviathan that was practically immune to Thrash.

    For the first time on my journey I felt the sense of failure hanging over my head. Gyarados can't be finishing up all of my battles even though he doesn't seem to mind. If I don't win, I have to do a serious self-evaluation to see if I have a chance to stand on a field at the Silver Conference. Deep breaths Mitch, take a look around to clear your mind. There's Ashley near the top of the bleachers and the entire ranch family somehow got VIP seating. Our eyes met and Nick gave me a look of confidence with a nod to boot.

    "I choose Gyarados for our final round." The ball rolled onto the field and out came my own leviathan. No fear was shown by my most battle tested Pokémon so I knew I had a chance to really send a message to everyone here. Jasmine may be the festival queen but it's time to dethrone her.

    Jasmine wasted no time on her defensive strategy. "Iron Tail, let's go."

    "Bite!" Was that call really the best decision? Under normal circumstances, no. However, she wants to go full out on offense which means I can continue to make that tail weaker. It just becomes a matter of if she can knock me out first. Regardless of what people in the stands thought, Gyarados took notice on the rut and dug his teeth into the steel snake's tail.

    Concern started to creep into Jasmine's voice. "Shake it off and use Rock Throw!" Somehow it managed to get off a flurry of small rocks. It wasn't nearly as devastating compared to Growlithe's batch. She still hasn't noticed the reason why its attack was weaker.

    I had to divert attention away from the tail to keep her mind occupied. "Dragon Rage." A blast from Dragon Rage would have a harder time directly hitting a small rut; might as well deal damage head on. Getting a decent on this thing is still damn near impossible because it shrugged off my attack like a joke. Now I'm starting to wonder how different this battle would be if I didn't have a single spot to attack.

    "Screech then Iron Tail!" Audience members went to cover their ears once its mouth opened. Unfortunately Gyarados doesn't have that luxury nor was he able to dodge the weakened but still powerful Iron Tail. He was pushed back and I ordered another Dragon Rage; Sandstorm was the counter.

    My plan was going to be harder to be harder to execute after Jasmine saw her Sandstorm attack was much weaker than before. She put her hand on her chin while pondering what to do next. "Well this is something that hasn't been done before. Steelix has never been in a battle this long before but that doesn't mean he'll be losing steam."

    "I wouldn't expect anything less from the festival queen." She turned red in the face after hearing that but it's not like I was wrong. "We've both been through a lot up to this point but I think it's time for this battle to be over. Dragon Rage!"

    "Steelix use Iron Tail!"

    Dragon Rage was seemingly cut in half by the Iron Tail, but the rut was too deep and too big to ignore; the pain had finally seeped its way deeper into Steelix's body. He let out one more Screech along with its tail glowing before a massive thud was heard throughout the arena. Down for the count.

    "Steelix is unable to battle, Gyarados is the winner. This match goes to the challenger!"

    Cheering rained down from the nosebleed seats as more people stood up to congratulate us on a great finale to the festival. An usher opened up the VIP section of the stands so that everyone sitting there could come onto the field for the post match ceremony. Men in suits were guarding a trophy as well as a case containing the Mineral Badge. In addition, there was a sheet of paper underneath both objects. It seemed like a story of some sort. Jasmine took the microphone once the spotlight was making her dress glitter in the light.

    "Thank you all for coming to the grand finale. It is with great pleasure that I present this Mineral Badge to Mitch!" Somehow the crowd got even louder after I was given the hardware to prove my victory. After I raised my hardware the retractable roof opened, the lights were turned off, and everyone went silent before Jasmine started her tale. It was just all of us and the starry night sky.

    "Long ago, Olivine was a poor port city with people struggling to make ends meat. A wandering traveler made his way into town by way of the north from a faraway land and noticed the despair. He took it upon himself to build a lighthouse so that ships carrying goods could come in at any time. Slowly but surely, the people helped this man finish what he started. It was finally complete when the man placed his Ampharos on lookout to illuminate the treacherous sea. Olivine immediately became prosperous but the people could not find a way to repay the man for what he had done since he politely refused their money. The man had stayed in the lighthouse to care for his Ampharos and watch over the city. Two children had visited the man one day with a Mareep saying that the man had done enough and they were going to do the man's job so he could relax. The man smiled and said that the town could help raise it with care. Only then, would he retire. Once the Mareep had evolved, the children took it back to the man in the lighthouse. Just like every other day, the man was up at the top and was delighted to see the town-raised Ampharos. It was at that moment the kids told him to go downstairs. Upon exiting with his Ampharos, he was greeted by the entire town. Everyone told him how grateful they were and that Olivine was his home knowing full well he had never had a place to call home. It was now time to retire and enjoy his stay here knowing his legacy would live on. The whole city threw a party that night to commemorate all he had done. Ever since that day long ago, we have honored the nameless man with this festival to make sure his work is not forgotten."

    A deafening silence continued to overcome the large crowd until the first firework was shot into the air. Ooohs and aaahs were heard throughout the gym as there were many patterns and colors lighting the sky. A nudge came from my left along with a signal to let out my Pokémon from Jasmine. Honestly not sure if they like loud noises but what the hell? It's a celebration. All six of my hard workers came out to see the nice show. By this point in my journey I had seen some unique behaviors from my Pokémon but watching the couples snuggle up next to each other showed how much I had truly missed the signs. Espeon has helped me understand everyone on a whole new level so far.

    Fireworks ended with an Ampharos-shaped one followed by the outline of Olivine. Lights were turned back on so the audience could leave the stadium. Most did leave while others made their way to the field to meet up or talk with Jasmine. I can't blame them since she's a superstar while I'm just some scrappy looking trainer taking the gym challenge. Who would want to waste their time on me?

    "Howdy!" Well, Laura doesn't think it's time consuming to talk to me. "I'm so proud of you!"

    "How's everyone doing?" It had been quite a chaotic two days with the milk stand and the whole incident during the tournament.

    She looked forlorn. "Marybeth's been lookin' kinda down these past few days and she won't snap out of it." Makes sense, a small child witnessing a cheap shot on arguably her best friend would cause her to become reserved. "Growlithe's been in a hospital ever since. He's not lookin' too good at the moment."

    There. Right there shows the extent of how low Cory sunk to get his way. "Did the money help at all?" Whenever a hospital is involved it's far from cheap unlike its Pokémon Center counterpart, which is free. Milk would have to be flying off the shelves before they could even think about paying the bill.

    "Yes. Thank you. We've gotten help from others, but your money helped us get into the hospital."

    "Glad to hear. I know you guys have a lot of work to do with breaking down and whatnot but please take this to Marybeth." I pulled out a stuffed Growlithe from one of the vendors. I personally loved that they would make a stuffed animal out of any Pokémon. On the other hand, my team just poked at their stuffed figures in confusion when they saw the finished product. With animal in hand, Laura said her goodbyes and exited. It was almost barren once my conversation sunk in. I felt two hands slam down on my shoulder.

    Ashley had made her way down looking pretty cheerful for a league official. "Hiya! You're not half bad with your six badges."

    I'm not half bad? Child please, I could sweep your entire team in six or less moves; I'll let that slide. "I guess not. So you're still here? I thought you'd be on your next assignment."

    "Not quite. I'm still wrapping things up here. That lady you were talking to was a member of a family who owned the Growlithe in question. I was just getting her side of the story so that the Pokémon League can help her." I gave her a clueless look. "Look Mitch, we're not heartless. We may give special treatment to people taking the gym challenge but a case like this can't be ignored. Imagine if the prize didn't involve a gym. The police would have to handle it and the family would most likely be in debt from bills. Even worse, there could have been no investigation at all."

    "What do you mean by in debt?" That money Cory gave me should have covered most of the medical expenses based on my quick calculations."

    Ashley gave me a concerned look. "Well you're half right with your math. That money covered only one night in the hospital. Now it got the care it deserved but it needed to be held longer for observation and rehabilitation." My heart sunk and my face reflected it. "This is where we come in. The league has offered to pay all hospital costs. Honestly, I was surprised when you gave the bribe money to the family considering most would have kept it. Everyone can have peace of mind. I even got them VIP seats for the battle." Slowly the facts sunk in until she went to leave. "The league won't acknowledge this like I thought they would. Since they won't grant you a favor, I personally will. Just give me a call when you need it." Like that, she saw herself out leaving just Jasmine in the gym.

    In the course of two days, I had gone through an emotional roller coaster for each battle and Jasmine offered to talk to me about dealing with battle fatigue. Trainers don't (or shouldn't) take hits but the mental breakdown is almost a given when you battle so much in a short period of time. As helpful as she wanted to be, I declined her offer because she looked like she was in a hurry to get somewhere. We both left the bright lights of the gym to the streets of Olivine where the starry sky was over all of the vendors packing up shop. Still in her festival dress, she walked down the street before I couldn't see her anymore.

    Making my way through the town felt like being in a time warp. Stands were no longer there, any merchandise that was there before was reduced price or had a messy display. Just having a chat with some salesmen lightened up the mood a little since they would be back on the road trying to make a living just like myself. Once it was well past midnight, the moon and stars were overtaken by clouds. Rain soon followed which made me dash for the lighthouse because it's probably the only thing open this late on this side of Olivine. There's no way I'm sprinting back to the crowded center.

    Luck was on my side this time around since it decided to pour after I got in the front door. Unlike the first time, the ground floor was much brighter. Ampharos didn't have to be my guide this time up the stairs. As I got closer to the top, I heard some shouting between Jasmine and some other man.

    "...please thi..."

    "No! I'm ruined becau..."

    Normally it isn't my business to jump in. However, I made it up the stairs to see Jasmine on her knees begging still wearing her festival dress. Only one step into the room gave me a bad vibe to the situation. Cory had made his way into the upper room and looked like he was carrying Amphy out and Jasmine was pleading for him to let Amphy go. Some bruises covered Amphy in addition to his labored breathing but Jasmine looked far worse at first glance. Both arms had some pretty large bruises as well as minor cuts. It was unsettling seeing them continue to argue until Cory stopped mid sentence to look at me.

    To say the look on his face was upset is probably an understatement. "YOU! My life has taken a turn for the worse because of you." There he goes, running his mouth yet again despite being in a no win situation.

    I didn't hold back. "Listen here you little shit, I didn't do anything. I didn't make you attack a bystander's Pokémon. I didn't make you bribe me. I didn't even do anything to turn you in. You shot yourself in the foot."

    Did I expect him to understand or even listen? No. Did I expect him to call out his Tauros? Eh, maybe not a Tauros. Either way, I didn't have a choice. "Furret I need some help!" She seemed surprised that a battle was about to happen so late at night. The sight of a charging bull was enough to convince her to pay attention. "Use Return!" Like so many trainers before Cory, the move gave him a loss in one blow.

    Cory's face turned to utter defeat. "Welp, that's it. I have no more Pokémon that can battle. I'll leave you with this." He slammed Ampharos on the ground then opened a window to jump out of. Flying away into the pouring rain was his only way of escape but I don't think I've seen the last of him. Jasmine's voice went from loud scream to a whimper. How long had she been yelling and pleading only to have Amphy thrown to the ground in its weakened state?

    Furret hopped into her lap and rubbed against Jasmine in an attempt to console her. I just let her pet Furret until she finally looked up. Her face had one more bruise on it while being covered in tears. "What... happened...?" The question was asked as quietly as possible so she wouldn't get any more afraid.

    All she could manage was a whisper. "Amphy still needed some time to get better so I came here to check on him after we exited the gym. Somehow the lighthouse doors were open so I made it up here to find Cory hitting Amphy." She was starting to get rattled. "My Pokémon were too tired from our battle so I begged him to stop but he kept going. When I tried to grab his hands, he started hitting me and threatened to use his Tauros to hurt me. I blocked the doorway until you showed up."

    A complete savage with no regard for life. I do feel for his Pokémon. "You have to trust me and my first aid skills to heal these bruises on both of you. Espeon!" The newer member stood half asleep in front of me. "Please use Confusion to lift Amphy onto his bed." She did so with little effort despite Amphy struggling. "Now it's going to sting but this will make these bruises go away." Luckily I only needed one bottle of medicine to heal its wounds. Both of my Pokémon were sent back to get some proper rest once Amphy started to fall asleep.

    I took the opportunity to work on Jasmine after Amphy was sound asleep. "Why?" It was such a quiet question. "Why did all of this happen?"

    No point in lying to her. "I wish I could give you a definitive answer." We sat there in silence as I wrapped bandages around her arms while the rain pelted the side of the lighthouse; it was starting to feel like a hurricane. "These should stay on until morning for sure. Also, ice them when you get the chance." Jasmine looked exhausted from her ordeal but she managed to whisper once more.

    "I owe you another favor for tonight. Hell, I owe you more than that." She started to break down.

    Responding to her hopefully would get her mind on a different track. "Can I please stay in the lighthouse again?"

    "Of course you can. I need to stay here too. Follow me." Getting up was a struggle for her but she managed to lead me to her bedroom. "I'm not going to let you sleep on the cold ground tonight." This bed was probably a queen size, maybe a king but either way it looked so warm. I changed into my pajamas while Jasmine was wandering about the room.

    "Umm, where are you sleeping Jasmine? Is there another bedroom here?" Despite all she's been through, she cracked a smile and pointed at the same bed. "Are you sure? I can move..."

    "No, it doesn't bother me at all. Do you have a spare pair of pajamas?" I took out a fleece pair of pants I had since it was getting colder outside in addition to a short sleeve shirt. "Don't move I'll be right back." I'm not one to question why she's doing what she's doing but I still don't feel right doing this.

    A glamorous dress was thrown from the bathroom before she came out in my pajamas. By now she was forcing herself to stay awake, yet she told me to get into bed after she did so first. Before she went to bed, she managed one more sentence.

    "Please don't leave me tonight." Just like that, she hugged me before exhaustion got to her.

    "I don't plan on it, festival queen."

    She found the energy for one more smile.
  18. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 18- Kindness & Compassion

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    The events of the past 48 hours resonated in my head once Jasmine had finally succumbed to sleep. I had battled so many opponents in a short amount of time and gained a small reputation in Olivine while avoiding time in jail. No matter how other people perceived me, it would be nothing compared to Cory. The fact that he admitted to paying me off got him on the bad side of everyone in town and the league. As for what he did tonight, I pray I get the chance to pay him back my way. No mercy might have been too lenient considering his actions. Not even the league can protect his Pokémon next time we meet. Maybe I'll hold back if I'm feeling generous.

    A serene feeling was felt in our room as rain continued to fall all night long with the occasional flash of lightning. Amphy was sleeping in his own bed while an emergency light was doing his job tonight while Jasmine eventually held me in her sleep. I honestly was afraid to move for fear of aggravating her bruises. The least I could do for her was let her sleep peacefully, even if it meant giving her my warmest pajamas. There were times where she would cry in her sleep but I pulled her closer to me and the comforter up more to keep her warm. She calmed down about an hour later which meant I could get some shut eye.

    Rain continued to fall throughout the night and into the morning. Some people say that rain helps you stay asleep and I say yes, yes it does. The peaceful pitter patter on the window is a soothing melody. Waking up with a dense layer of clouds is not really an ideal way to start the day while Jasmine still was asleep. I just sat there in bed wondering about my next badge. Pryce was the oldest of the gym leaders so I expect his experience to carry him in his ice gym. All of the boys had their time which means the girls will take the field. No matter how bad it gets, I can't afford to tire out Gyarados. He's been in too many decisive battles these past few days.

    Before I got too deep in thought, Jasmine finally woke up. "Mmmmggghhh, good... morning." She realized she had not let go and blushed a little before doing so.
    "So how are you doing this morning?" It sounded like I was giving her the cold shoulder but I was more concerned about her arms than feelings.

    She poked at her bandages. "A little sore. I think it will get better though."

    I took the liberty of removing the bandages very carefully only to see the discoloration staring me in the face. Long sleeves may be the way to go because the whole city is probably going to ask what happened. We just stared at the arms until a thought crossed my mind. "Hey, I know that it's a little tough to talk about, but you need to report what happened last night." She looked down in thought but she was still shaken up. "Look, I can do the talking if it makes you feel better."

    Tears started to fall down her face. "I can't. If I do, he will come back. Before you arrived, he was going on and on about what would happen if anybody found out. Some of those things I don't even want to imagine or repeat." Shit. There really is nothing I can do without her potentially getting hurt or worse. Scenarios or solutions ran through my mind until she hugged me tightly. "I don't care what happens to me. I just don't want anything to happen to Amphy."

    "Listen to me. It's hard to put your trust in someone you met two days ago but I promise that I will not do anything to endanger either of you. However, have someone you trust to look after Amphy when you're at the gym. Don't worry about Cory." Big words from someone who wasn't there during the list of threats.
    We just sat there for a few more minutes until she decided to let go. "Yeah, if I want to protect Amphy then I should have some help."

    We both got out of bed to get ready for the day. Jasmine reluctantly gave me my pajamas back once she changed in the bathroom. Whether she thought about the bruises or not, she was wearing a long sleeved shirt with a raincoat as her top layer. On the flip side, my raincoat was finally at its limit. The last original item from my first day as a trainer had a hole too big to patch. Before I went to leave, Jasmine had given me a brand new, out of the box raincoat from her closet.

    "Much appreciated. Let me return the favor." Ashley had mentioned she owed me a favor so I took down her number that day after my interrogation. "I know you'll do everything to stay safe but here is Ashley's number. I don't know how the league interacts with gym leaders but if you call her directly instead of the league offices, she will do whatever you ask when you mention my name. Promise me, DO NOT be afraid to dial if you cannot find someone to watch Amphy or if you feel you are in danger from Cory."

    Her nod gave me the confidence to walk out of the lighthouse knowing she can deal with this. Wind made it impossible to open the main entrance until she came down the stairs holding a remote opener. Just took one step out into the rain before she grabbed my arm, turned me around and kissed me; it was something out of a fairy tale. We both blushed before she reluctantly let me go into the rainy city.

    Pokémon Center rooms were still full but I took advantage of the empty lobby to use the healing machine on my way out of the city. I don't necessarily like tourists for big events because cities cater to them instead of the average trainer. Honestly, I can't judge them too harshly but that doesn't mean I can like them. From what I've heard, Blackthorn City is the only place where trainers are put second only to its residents. No doubt that Blackthorn will be my favorite place to visit once I get there.

    My fortune was slightly turning around as I walked outside. The rain was still falling albeit much more like a mist as opposed to a downpour. Regardless of how bad it was, I still exited the city with mixed feelings. I'd consider the visit an overall success because it resulted in me bettering myself. Nobody can take that away from me.
    "Hey man, wanna battle? You don't look so tough." I had trekked only a mile or so before a young teenager challenged me to a battle. Skipping him on the way into town was probably a bad idea.

    A dumb boy making a statement like that could be forgiven if news of my victory wasn't on television or if he wasn't holding a newspaper with an article about me. "When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me but mostly you. Put up or shut up." Those words got him furious. A Granbull materialized in front of him looking ready for battle; I countered with Espeon. It had been awhile since I used her in battle. A long rest should give her an advantage in this quick fight.

    Espeon's P.O.V.
    Ever since the battle against Chuck I've been feeling a mix of joy and sadness. Thankfully Mitch didn't use me during the whole festival or the gym battle. Shade is much better than me at everything but I was still surprised that he lost. Actually, I am glad he lost because it's not about survival anymore. His limits are there but he doesn't have to battle recklessly. The battle against Primape was a great confidence booster. I'm happy I can contribute to this team but I still can't use my psychic attacks for too long.

    What I saw after the gym battle was like Sara all over again. Only this time, it was a male trainer beating up a female trainer and her Ampharos. Times like that make me wish my ball wasn't transparent or at least have the ability to close my eyes. Yes, I still have flashbacks about that day and that incident made them worse and more frequent. Whenever I got to the point of being a nervous wreck, I remember that Mitch would never do something like that. And now I was up against a scary looking opponent still trying to feel comfortable.

    "Bite, it'll be a one hit knockout!"

    "Fat chance. Quick Attack." Mitch was right. Not many Pokémon are faster than me, especially ones not owned by a gym leader. His confidence never wanes whenever I'm sent out.

    My move worked on defense before I scored a direct hit to its open stomach. "Follow up with Swift!" It had zero chance to dodge from close range.
    The other trainer had a grin on his face. "Lick." Shit. I realized he waited until I got too close.

    A long tongue didn't have to go far to slap me. Damn thing was disgusting which caused me to just stand there in disbelief before I got hit again by the super effective move. Honestly, I'm still a little nervous about contact like that.

    "Go for Confusion!"

    Waves of psychic energy went for Granbull but they didn't seem to work. It charged toward me in a zigzag pattern; got it confused. What followed was head banging into trees and me laughing on the ground. Mitch was probably upset that I let my guard down but come on; my luck has never been that good. It looked like I was cruising to a win until a blast of water hit me from the side.

    My master was furious. "What the hell was that?" It wasn't clear cut at first, but a bush rustling caused me to fire another wave into that general direction. Lo and behold a Poliwhril came out firing its Water Gun again. "So you wanted to win that bad? Fine, we can take it up a step." I immediately turned back and shook my head. I'm tired of someone bailing me out every time I get into trouble. It sucks that an idiot trainer got me to this point.

    The younger opponent didn't look phased. "I knew you won in Olivine but it must've been a fluke. Let's see if you're worthy of that title." Granbull looked tired but Poliwrath's water attacks are powered up in the drizzle.

    "Alright Espeon, go for it. Use Confusion!" I went to fire a wave of energy but it was no Confusion. Inner power came from somewhere else this time. Instead of the weaker wave or trying to move my opponent, a rainbow colored beam came from my jewel. Laser like precision helped me hit both of the targets; both of them fainted in less than five seconds.

    "I-i-i-impossible. You didn't even have to send out another Pokémon." He just recalled his two fainted Pokémon before running off.

    This thrill was something I've never experienced before. It was a victory and I don't feel tired from my use of psychic attacks. Still, I turned to my master and tilted my head. Had he recognized what just happened? Even though I did it, I still can't believe it.

    He knelt down in the light drizzle and rubbed my head. "Hey pretty girl." I was shivering from the dampness and excitement yet I still could purr like a champ. "That was a beautiful Psybeam. We'll work on this when it's warmer." Right there I broke down crying. No longer do I need to be supported because I am weak. He let me get it out of my system before talking to me again. "I'm proud of you." His smile always makes me feel comfortable. Just another reminder that I made the right decision.

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    More challengers crossed paths with me on the way back to Ecruteak. All of those battles went without a loss or surprise Pokémon in the bushes. Some even congratulated me on my tournament win. Rule of thumb in the region is that only surrounding cities hear stories like this; it means once I get to Mahogany Town, nobody will care. Checkpoint gates in the distance signaled I was on the outskirts of the city.

    By afternoon, the rain had stopped falling. However, the clouds were still looking threatening from above. Ecruteak was relatively deserted on the gloomy looking day so I took more time to wander around the city. Obviously nothing had changed in a few days since I was last here except the weather. Before I went to the Pokémon Center I made the tough decision to visit the cemetery. I know that Umbreon is no idiot; he knows where we are. Do I let him out? If I don't then he might hate me for holding him back. If I do then he might hate me for bringing it up to him again. Damned if I do and damned if I don't. Letting him out is something I have to do.

    He materialized in front of me with a look of sadness on his face. I knew that he was aware of his surroundings. Just like last time, I let him do his own thing without moving. Umbreon had taken a seat before pawing at the tombstone. No crying, no yelling, just silence. He took one deep breath followed by a bow. I went over to pay my respects as well by bowing. We both sat in silence while I kept petting his head. The moment he started to break down was the moment he wanted to go back. I will never shame him for shedding tears in public or in his ball. He's gotten over the initial shock and acts normal but deep down he will always be hurt emotionally and physically. What if I mess up and use all five moves in a battle? How will my opponent handle it? Will Umbreon be called a freak? Arceus forbid I have him taken from me due to his circumstances.

    The graveyard was visited by a few more mourners before I decided to leave the city via the east gate. Many trainers littered the path to Mahogany Town compared to the clear path I took the first time. One by one I beat them with minimal effort although I had used Espeon more to gauge her new Psybeam attack. From first glance it looked like she could handle the added power but battle fatigue set in. Despite that common problem, she seems to fire off a consistent power as opposed to fizzling out. My other Pokémon may be getting jealous considering I use those two more but I do it so that they can feel a sense of normalcy.

    An empty Pokémon Center was a welcoming sight considering the sardine-like one in Olivine made me uncomfortable. I don't mind people but I do mind a lot of them in a small area. Nurse Joy recognized my face the moment I stepped up to the counter. We both had a conversation about the events since we last met. She was happy to hear how everyone was doing in addition to me challenging Pryce. He is much different than the other gym leaders in terms of scheduling because he usually takes long periods of time off. It does work in my favor this time around since he is in town.

    "So when would you like to challenge him tomorrow?"

    I thought about when it would be best. No way in hell would I do another early battle like against Chuck or too late like Morty. "How about after lunch? Say 1:30 pm?"

    She went to scanning the page for time conflicts. Her gasp made me nervous until she pointed out that no other trainers would be facing him tomorrow. "I will schedule you in for that time. Good luck!" With an important battle ahead, it was time to plan for victory after I found my room in the center.

    Everyone was released from their balls so that they could stretch after being crammed in there for the whole day. The game plan was pretty straightforward: girls are going to have a field day. Reactions differed with Umbreon being disappointed to Ampharos jumping for joy. Most importantly, Gyarados looked relieved. I had been using him too much and hearing that must have made him relax although I have to believe he still wants to battle for fun.

    It didn't take too long for everyone to fall asleep on the floor with their "partner". Seriously, what did Espeon do? Anyway, I pulled the covers over my head at the thought of the freezing gym. Then I remembered the jacket Jasmine gave to me sitting on the doorknob. That thing wasn't just waterproof; it was weatherproof and it was nice and toasty.

    As I close my eyes, I remember how close I am to the Silver Conference. Intimidating as that sounds to most trainers, tomorrow's gym match is just another battle.

    I'm coming for that badge.
  19. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 19- A Tough Test

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    For the first time in a long time, I could afford to sleep in with almost no worries. Waking up around 11:30 just felt right. Unfortunately I can't do that too much unless I want to fall behind in the gym challenge. Nothing from my pre-gym battle routine changed except I took the spare time to walk around town this time around. It definitely has the small town feel with its little family owned shops and special food.

    The gym was more modest compared to Cianwood's statues or Olivine's giant stage. There were still statues outside, but they were official league ones so I guess Pryce isn't much for putting on a show. Ice was coming out of the corner which leads me to believe it's beyond cold inside. Despite arriving half an hour early, I opted to go in just to see if he was ready. Inside was like a typical office at first glance with a receptionist to take my information. After doing so, she simply showed me the way to the arena beyond a door. Now this is where the ice was coming from. Freezing was an understatement for these temperatures.

    It surprised me that Pryce was in a striped shirt, shorts, and moccasins of all things. He took a few seconds to look me over before speaking. "Welcome young man. My name is Pryce and I am the Mahagony Gym leader. My Pokémon and I have been through extensive training to focus on battling in the harshest conditions. As a challenger in my gym, you must go through the same experience I have gone through and will continue to go through." I was thoroughly confused by what he meant. He tried to find the right words to follow up. "Discard any jackets, hats, and mittens before facing me."

    I wasn't confused anymore after his blunt statement. "So you want me to wear the same layers of clothing you are for an equal playing field?" He just stood there with a blank expression. "Very well, I accept your challenge."

    He smiled. "You are the first trainer in a long time that has not complained off the bat. I congratulate you on your determination and timeliness. Now take your place so we can begin." A quick nod followed and I walked to my corner as soon as possible. Pryce's reputation as a battler was pretty well known, but the environment in which he held gym matches was something else. He expects to remain focused on the battle in the cold while challengers are split between staying warm and calling out commands. There is no doubt he deserves his title.

    Field conditions were very favorable to Pryce. He had an icy battlefield with a circular pool of water in the middle on the field. A few snow covered rocks were scattered near the edges of the field as well. Ice types usually have water as a secondary typing, so I can expect at least one water type. In addition to the already cold atmosphere, there seemed to be a slight breeze yet there was no visible ventilation system. That being noted, the pool still worries me the most. It's has to be at something like 32.0001 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Our judge took her place in the middle and she too was dressed like both of us. "This will be an official gym battle for the Glacier Badge! Each trainer is allowed three Pokémon with only the challenger being able to substitute. The battle ends when all three Pokémon on either side are unable to battle. Begin!"

    "Come on out Seel." The water type happily went from the solid battlefield to the pool in the middle. It's not the most intimidating thing in general but in the hands of a leader it will probably give me some problems.

    "Ampharos, game time!" My electric sheep was raring to go after not seeing a gym battle since Morty. At first glance, the conditions didn't seem to bother her which was already a plus. Pryce was a little shocked to see her standing firm.

    "Aurora Beam." A colorful beam came from the horn on Seel which failed to hit my moving Ampharos. "Go for the ground then do it again." It did has he commanded with ice shards coming from the broken battlefield followed up by another one. Ampharos tried to dodge again but the colors were reflecting and refracting through the shards. A smile came across his face when the move hit.

    "I'll give you that one. Ampharos use Discharge!" The pool that worried me was now an advantage instead. However, Seel jumped out of the water and was going to ram into Ampharos with its Headbutt attack. All of this was done without a command by Pryce; too bad he didn't see further down the road. "Big mistake, use Thunderpunch." With Seel charging, it couldn't escape the massive blow Ampharos delivered. Seel ended up back in the water which gave me the perfect chance to use Discharge.

    The judge took a look at Seel for only a split second to make her decision. "Seel is unable to battle. The round goes to Ampharos." Seel is unable to battle? I'd be surprised if it was still alive considering I probably knocked it out with just the punch. Was the Discharge overkill? Probably, but I'm not taking chances in a gym battle or since that judge incident in Olivine.

    Pryce recalled his fallen Pokémon before staring at me yet again. "Young man, you seem eager to get this battle over quickly." I mean he's right; if you're going to throw water types out there then I'll zap 'em. "I will admit that you both are surprising me right now considering the below freezing temperatures but it always starts out like this. Electric types may beat water types but your strategy is simplistic and I'll show you why. Dewgong, time to show this boy how to battle." On cue, it materialized in front of Pryce but didn't make a beeline for the pool.

    "Pryce, you seem to think I'm just another trainer. Unfortunately for you I'm not. Now use Cotton Spore Ampharos!" White puff balls made their way and clung to Dewgong.

    "Icy wind!" As if it wasn't cold enough, a blistering wind rushed through the gym hitting Ampharos.

    "Thunderpunch!" My plan to slow down Dewgong was practically offset by that Icy Wind and it hopped in the water to dissolve the spores and even laugh at how slow my sheep was going.

    "Aurora Beam." Ampharos had her back turned and never saw it coming; she was looking a bit sluggish once she turned around. "Use it again Dewgong."

    I can't afford to take too many more hits but he'll just break the ground like last time. Wait a minute... "Sprint towards it." A move that made no sense to neither Pryce nor the official made perfect sense to me because I didn't finish my command; why spoil it right away? Dewgong got off another attack up high which worked in my favor. "On your belly!" Just like that, it dodged the attack and was sliding up to the edge of the water. "Thunderpunch." The speed from the slide added to the power of the punch and got the result I wanted.

    Across the way, Pryce was shaking his head. "Foolish boy. Dewgong, drag it into the pool!" Shit. That's what I was afraid of the most. Truth be told I thought I delivered a knockout blow so I wouldn't have to worry about this exact scenario happening. Now Ampharos was struggling to get back on the icy field. "Use Rest." Double shit, now it gets to heal off what I just did.

    "Discharge!" Yet again Pryce was surprised at my tactics as his Dewgong was ruled knocked out by the judge shortly after the move was done being executed. Once the judge was done with her cadence I called back Ampharos, leaving just the three of us in silence.

    By this point in the match, I was starting to feel the frostbite creep in. His voice came from across the gym to snap me back to reality. "There is no doubt you have the guts to pull off a victory considering the sequence of events you just did. However, was it worth it for your Ampharos to get hypothermia? Technically you have three Pokémon remaining but a smart trainer would not dare reach for that ball for the rest of the battle. If you were to call it out right now then it could easily collapse."

    I could have called her back than switched to Furret for a split second then call out Ampharos again. But by then, Dewgong would most likely be awake and he would have a serious advantage. There's a likelihood that Ampharos was not going to last much longer anyway. "There is no doubt in my mind that Ampharos had enough strength left at the time. If she wanted out, then she would have let me know."

    Just standing there gave me no clues as to how he felt. Honestly, this man has a great poker face. "I will acknowledge that you are no ordinary trainer but I still have my most loyal partner ready. Although your mind is still sharp based on your explanation, you might want to think about conceding if you don't finish this battle quickly."

    As much as I hate to agree with him, my options are limited. I could send in Gyarados to obliterate his final Pokémon but he needs rest. Growlithe would be bad since that pool in the middle is the last thing he wants to see and I don't want him dragged or pushed in. My game plan is to use Furret and Espeon since they both have some fur (albeit not too thick) and are agile, even on ice. Conceding is something I have never done in my career and I have never considered it.

    "We'll have to finish it quickly then. You're up Furret!" She stood with confidence as Pryce sent out his Piloswine. "Charge in and use Slam!" She was far from the rocks so I opted to go for the slower paced move on the open ice. It connected for some decent damage but Pryce knew it was going to be over soon.

    "Mist." The entire battlefield was soon shrouded in a thick mist. Furret used to her ears to track Piloswine as we both heard it charging. "Now Fury Attack!" A barrage of stabs landed on Furret causing her to recoil in pain. I can't keep it together for much longer with the cold to seemingly get progressively worse.

    No time to worry about traction or speed. "Use Return!" Piloswine wanted to get in one more hit and it got it in... at the cost of a powerful Return attack. Mist's effect was starting to wear off so I could finally see across the field. I also took some time to give Pryce his own words of advice. "Was that one extra attack really worth a Return?"

    Gloating was the dumbest thing I could have done. His face turned to a scowl. "Blizzard." Snow came down by inches until the attack stopped. There was nowhere to dodge based on how the field looked. Maybe Furret had used Dig to hide but I was horrified to see her frozen in ice yet not knocked out.

    "Use Flamethr-" No way. It can't be like this. I'm so distracted by this cold that I'm ordering a Flamethrower just to get her thawed out. I'm literally losing my mind; the cold is making me go insane. A proverbial red flag came into my mind and I immediately recalled her. Luckily neither of the two saw the extent of Blizzard. Part of me believes that the judge would give the round to Pryce if she saw Furret like that while the other part of me just wanted her out of there because she was defenseless. According to the scoreboard I still have three Pokémon left but in reality I only have Espeon. Should I really concede defeat?

    Ruby's P.O.V.

    What a day to be me. I finally get another chance at a gym leader's Pokémon. Mitch always has a tough time deciding who to use during gym battles because I've heard nobody does a full 6 on 6 battle. Strength is something I'm still working on although I am much faster than I could ever be. Psybeam is developing more and more with each passing day. Sometimes I even do mental exercise in my ball to get the rhythm of my mind and attack to sync. It really is mumbo jumbo but this stuff matters.

    Shade has been more reserved than usual since we took the same route back into town. His ball is usually unresponsive but I can't blame him because the forest nearby was his home for such a long time. The trip to the cemetery also puts some strain on his mind; I can feel it from my own ball as well. Battling seems to be a great distraction for him as he goes through this tough time. He may not be on the battle roster today but that won't stop him from watching. So far the battle has been up and down with Mitch being on the downward slope this time after two knockouts. He is getting anxious as he reaches for my ball. Don't worry master; I know I can do it.

    Freezing temperatures and a slight breeze are the first two things I feel once I'm on the field. No problem with that at the moment. Piloswine is the only one left huh? Let's see how fast I can wrap this battle up. I examine my surroundings and notice that Mitch is starting to turn purple in his arms and legs. They made him battle like this!? Further down the field my opponent is wearing the same type of outfit too. What the hell is wrong with this gym!?

    Our official gave us the ready signal. "Espeon use Fire Blast!" Now I took that as a sign to check his mind since he's much smarter than that. How much is the cold affecting him? Let's see... ah ha! He's so preoccupied with the cold that he wants to get warm and is ordering any fire attack that comes into his head. "Shit, sorry Espeon. Go for Swift." I readjusted my scan while landing the attack. His mind is teetering on the edge of four planes: conscious, unconscious, logical, and illogical. I know he doesn't have much time left before he collapses.

    "Still won't concede? Very well then." It was his opponent. "Icy Wind!" The cold burst of wind slowed my reflexes down instantly. "Follow up with Fury Attack." Its tusks came in for close combat damage; all of which I couldn't dodge.

    "Psybeam!" There he goes, back to the conscious and logical planes. I threw more power into this one hoping for a victory. It took the attack a little poorly. Confusion overtook it as it started ramming into the rocks on the outer edges of the field. I was hoping it would knock itself out with Mitch getting progressively worse by the second.

    "Dammit Piloswine use Blizzard!" It snapped out of confusion and fired up a strong Blizzard. The cold was more intense than Icy wind by far. I was impressed that I survived until I could start to feel my hind legs freeze up. The ice encasement started to go up my body until I use Confusion to keep it from fully consuming me. A deadly attack like that in this environment could possibly kill me. Still, I have enough energy to keep attacking from distance. A Psybeam was being readied until I heard my master scream.

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    I could be going insane because I swear I can feel Espeon inside my head but whatever, the battle is more important. Another attack by me would hopefully win me the match. What better way to end it with Fire Blast? Hold on, Espeon can't use that move. Maybe I am losing my mind. Swift seemed to work better so I went with that. By now I am completely focusing my will to stay awake and focused. I can see Espeon getting pounded but I just don't know what to do. The Blizzard wasn't as strong as before but she too started to freeze.

    Something clicked in my head at that moment in time. "THAT'S ENOUGH! NO MORE!" I had screamed those words with practically all of my remaining strength. I can't stand to see my Pokémon end up is such horrible shape. My eyelids grew heaver as Pryce recalled his Pokémon in victory. He simply told me to leave the gym in a monotonous voice and so I did after I gathered my things. Running on reserve strength, I made my way to the Pokémon Center in the moderately warm evening. Most of my body was numb and purple from the gym.

    A long line of trainers was in the Pokémon Center. Apparently the machines had broken so they were treating individual Pokémon or something of the sort. There was no way I could get them the care they needed without risking having to wait around. Even in the ball, body heat can still decrease if frozen. I made my way to the edge of town and took shelter in a hollow tree. With my last bit of reserve energy, I called out everyone.

    My healthy partners looked at me in horror as I went to talk to Growlithe. "Listen buddy, thaw out Espeon and Furret please." He had a serious look of concern on his face as he walked over to me. "No. Get the girls warm first then worry about me. I may be cold, but they're much worse." That was all the energy I had left.

    The warmth of Growlithe's flames minutes later brought me out of my unconsciousness long enough to feel pinned down. I didn't have to open my eyes to know that everyone that could fit in the tree was huddled on top of me. Growlithe noticed me become conscious in my sleep and licked my face very gently. I gave him a pat on the head as his reward. Even in my state, I could feel everyone snuggle closer together. I was such a lucky trainer to have Pokémon that care about me this much.
  20. Writer4fun

    Jan 15, 2017
    Chapter 20- Licking the Wounds

    Ruby's P.O.V.

    It was very upsetting seeing my master in his condition during the battle. Under normal conditions he would have been fine but with the cold corrupting his mind on top of the stress of the previous rounds, he couldn't take the psychological torture anymore. His scream to stop the battle was the most gut wrenching thing I've ever seen or heard. Sara's beating suddenly felt like nothing compared to that emotional moment in terms of me feeling awful. Mitch has proven time and again how much he cares about everyone because he wants to win as well as making sure to keep everyone as happy as possible. As much as he didn't want to quit, he still did it even though I was close to full strength while Piloswine was on the ropes. He quit not so that he could escape that hell and get warm, but so that we could battle another day.

    Being in the ball didn't thaw out my legs but I didn't have to deal with the ice creeping up my body anymore or using energy to keep it at bay. Unfortunately for Furret she is stuck like that although the ball should keep her from dying of hypothermia. It might even be fair to say the ball prevents us from getting worse but won't heal us. However, Mitch was so out of it that he forgot a Pokémon cannot get worse inside their ball and he panicked.

    Mitch should've collapsed on the ground once the warm evening air met his cold body. There was something keeping him going. Was it the drive to heal us? My best guess is yes, but there are some areas of the mind not even psychic types can fully understand. He was so delusional that he was waiting in line to get some kind of candy bar and the machine had broken whereas he thought it was the line for the Pokémon Center. On the way out of town he experienced all four planes of his mind from my earlier assessment. It was illogical to leave but he was conscious. After he found a hollow tree, he called out all of us which were two logical decisions. I found that his words to Growlithe were both illogical and logical. He mentioned Furret and I were in worse shape than he was; that was not the case. Finally he collapsed from exhaustion.

    We all stood around him for a second and then looked at one another. Nobody knew what to say or do now that our master was unconscious until everyone realized how bad the situation really was. Shade sprinted to his side while Gyarados immediately turned into a bodyguard. If any wild Pokémon got close to him, it'd be beaten to a pulp. Ampharos was warmed up first since she was the easiest to take care of. It took roughly 10 minutes or so to get her body temperature up plus drying her fur. I turned into the de facto doctor due to my sensory abilities. Once I gave her the nod of approval, she rushed over as well. That just left the three of us.

    I looked at the rattled Growlithe as he just stared at Furret encased in ice. Her expression was one of panic from how fast the Blizzard accumulated. Him staring wasn't going to get anything done anytime soon so I offered my guidance. "You should thaw her out last. She will take some time to properly get healed."

    "Why can't I just thaw her out with one Flamethrower now?"

    "Because raising her body temperature too fast would cause the body to go into shock. There's a chance you could burn her too." Both of those sentences horrified him. "Look, you can thaw me out your way because I don't have to worry about shock and I'll take the chance with a burn. Believe me, you're going to have to spend more than 10 minutes with her." More relaxed, he used a hardly toned down Flamethrower which easily melted my hind legs. After five minutes of moving around to regain the feeling I went to the hollow tree.

    "Wait!" Growlithe screamed at me. He was still rattled after he looked at Furret again. "What do I do?"

    He's not showing it outwardly but I know he cares for her; that is conversation that needs to happen but can wait. "Apply steady heat to the block of ice with your fire. Once she's thawed out, keep the heat steady but turn it up a little. You don't want to spike too quickly. After that, raise her body temperature and then she should be back to normal. Don't panic if she doesn't wake up after that because she will continue to rest." I made sure he understood the process before I ran over to Mitch. Ampharos had curled up next to him sleeping while Shade stood over him.

    "From what I'm seeing, he's still breathing. I can't do anything except lie next to him and be a living blanket. Care to join me Ruby?" I trotted over to see Mitch lying flat on his back. Purple areas were spotty with most of his body going back to red or white. Shade saw how skeptical I was so he kissed my maw to calm me down once we sat by him. "It'll be alright. Hey, you did a great job today. If that was a normal battle you would've won... you know it."

    I snuggled closer to him before putting my head on his neck. "Yeah. I wish I attacked Piloswine instead of waiting. There's no way it could have survived two or three more hits."

    He kissed me on my jewel. "That's my girl. You've gotten stronger since we met in so many ways." Have I? Sure I learned Psybeam but what are the other ways he's talking about? "You look tired yourself so get some rest. Mitch helped us out in our time of need. Now it's time to return the favor." Shade pulled up his paw and wrapped it around my neck and drowsiness eventually took its toll on me.
    Sunlight had already disappeared when I woke up minutes later. Darkness was in every direction except for the small orange glow outside the hollow tree. Leaving Shade was a tough decision considering Mitch would lose some radiating heat. Upon walking over I saw that Growlithe had followed my instructions like I expected.

    "So how is she?"

    Poor Growlithe was mentally drained from this tedious process of thawing her out. Finesse wasn't one of his strong suits considering he had no clue how to properly thaw Furret; pure power from a Flamethrower would have been catastrophic. He turned his head with the most solemn look on his face. "She's sleeping soundly now. Before... she was shivering constantly."

    "I know it's been hard on you but you've done a great job. Don't worry about the shivering. Keep the heat steady though. You have to trust me on this: the shivering is from nightmares. Being encased in ice is one experience you don't simply forget about yet you want to."

    Growlithe turned back to the sleeping Furret. "Even though she's shown interest in me I still don't do anything back. She has no clue how much I love her. I almost lost my chance to tell her today."

    "My suggestion is to tell her when she wakes up. Shade thinks Mitch won't be awake for quite some time so no going back to our balls unless we tap the center of them. Doubt that any of us will do that though."

    "Okay. I do owe it to her since she's been really dropping hints. Just one thing before we go to sleep. Can you carry us over to the tree with your psychic power? I'm still afraid to move her. Once we're in I can give off more heat."

    "Come on then, let's get back." Whenever something needs to be moved it's usually better that the object isn't moving itself. Moving two sleeping Pokémon of their size is pretty easy. Both of them had gotten closer once we got back to the tree; their conversation should be really interesting.
    Morning came after one of the longest nights I've ever been awake for. Those damn Doduo with their noise so early in the morning didn't make me any happier. Gyarados was about to send them a personal invitation to stop until I pointed to our sleeping owner. Stars from my Swift seemed appropriate to shoot out of the tree to get them to shut up since they were quiet. Mitch still needs to rest despite his body temperature going back to normal along with his skin color. Everyone else seems to be back to normal in terms of emotion after knowing he will be fine.

    Growlithe had woken up after me and stayed awake compared to Gyarados. His eyes looked heavy as well as relieved. I slowly moved away from Shade to talk to him once he motioned me over. "So I talked to her last night after she woke up from her cold sleep."


    "I told her everything that I needed to say. No more hiding it. No more playing the tough guy. No more doubt or uncertainty. You're psychic so I'd like to assume you could take a guess on how she felt. She didn't stay awake too long but it was long enough to get her to smile. Her shivering stopped too."

    Perfect. Furret is probably relieved of the tension she had before. She looks so content in her sleep. "Well that's great! Now what?"

    "Guess I'll be spending more time with her if we're both outside our balls. Please don't yell at me if I mess up since I'm new to this mate thing. You and Shade have it down already." He looked down for a few seconds before continuing. "I'm sorry to stop talking, but I'm exhausted from using most of my heat to keep everyone warm throughout the night." And like that he went back to holding her closer as she started to wake up. Out of respect it was better not to keep asking questions. Still have to wonder how Mitch will deal with this considering we acted abnormally when we first saw him as a couple.

    Sunlight was soon overtaken by clouds as it reached afternoon. Mitch still was not awake yet so everyone took some time to train nearby. Shade was focused on adding finesse to his moves, Ampharos was working on her attack pattern with lightning, Gyarados was doing some agility work to help him dodge, and the new couple just sat by the tree talking about what just happened in the past day. My training was focused on how to use Confusion and Psybeam together; toss something up in the air then hit it in midair. Somehow this was supposed to work in my mind; the execution is another thing.

    All was well for an hour or so until a voice came from behind us. "What's going on over here?"

    Mitch's P.O.V.

    There wasn't too much to remember following my forfeit against Pryce. All I could grasp at was making my way out to the forest after running through town before collapsing. Mahogany townspeople should be able to help me out with my memory. Never have I ever experienced that much pressure as a trainer. I've battled in a large stadium in front of thousands at Olivine. I've battled in a tight space at Cianwood. But man, this gym redefines what it means to be in a pressure situation. I was a fool to assume I could win with brute force. Once the cold got to me the battle was already lost; it was just a matter of how much time was left in the fight.

    My skin was back to normal once I finally got up from my sleeping position in the tree. The only possible way I could get that warm without any blankets was with Growlithe; he's getting a reward for sure. Furret and him were just sitting by the entrance to the tree base which is a little odd since he's very reserved around her. A kiss eventually followed after some time had passed. Wait... Espeon probably did something considering it was like this back at Cianwood's Pokémon Center. Now that's two couples on the team I have to deal with. By this point I'd assume that Gyarados and Ampharos have something going on too. The line between well being and winning just got more complex.

    Quietly coming up from behind them was supposed to be a nice surprise, but they're looking tired from last night. It took a few seconds for the two of them to see that it was me and that I was alright. Both cried as they sprinted to me wanting a hug. There was nothing for me to say except "I'm sorry I scared you like that" and I couldn't mean it anymore if I tried. Growlithe was very cold to the touch, even with him being a fire type. Keeping an entire team warm is not an easy thing to do. As much as Furret didn't like it, I called Growlithe back to his ball so he could get some worry free rest. A rub on the chin made her purr before I called her back too. Being frozen has to have a huge effect on her as well. Walking a few steps led me into a decent sized clearing with everyone training.

    "What's going on here?" They all stopped on a dime to look at me. A split second happened before the remaining four Pokémon rushed to me and showed me affection. "Thank you for caring for me and each other last night. Let's go back to town and get you all the proper medical attention." All of them let out a sigh of relief before going back to their balls.

    The path I had taken out of town was covered signs pointing to different routes due to it being the main pathway. Mahogany Town was already visible from the top of the hill I was on so the sign didn't have it on there. Just walking back into town felt like a walk of shame although not too many people saw me stumble into the forest. My first place to visit was the Pokémon Center in the hopes that Nurse Joy could heal my team or even give me some information. Even walking into the safest place in town made me feel uncomfortable.

    Some people were milling about in the lobby so I just kept my head down hoping to avoid eye contact with someone who might have seen me. Nurse Joy was busy typing on the computer as I waited for her to finish typing. She took a quick glance at me. "Hello! It's good to see you again. What can I do for you?"

    Keep it simple Mitch. Just act normal. "Can you please heal them with the ball machine? They're all fine otherwise." Nurse Joy took everyone's ball over to the machine for a quick heal. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two girls pointing to me with huge grins on their faces. "Can I help you or nah?"

    "Look who it is. It's the drunk from yesterday." Arceus dammit.

    "Well you're not too far off from drunk. I just got out of a cold match with Pryce and was pretty out of it."

    Both of them laughed at me; one even had to bend over to control herself. "W-w-what!? Y-y-y-you really expect us to believe that? I'm even surprised you're not in jail right now considering how much of an ass you were hahaha!" Clearly explaining everything wasn't going to work. "Well we have a match against Pryce tomorrow and I doubt we'll end up like that."

    Nurse Joy was about to say something to them but they laughed out of the center before she got the chance. All six balls were placed on the counter along with her questioning glance. "Do you remember last night at all?" Just shook my head in denial. "How can I put this... they weren't wrong." Not gonna lie, that hurts to hear.

    "Alright, I get it. What did you see me do? Better yet, has anyone else come in mentioning me?"

    A deep breath escaped her mouth as she motioned for me to pull up a chair. Damn, this should be good since I pulled up a chair for this. "You apparently came from the gym covered in purple spots running around the town aimlessly since Pryce issues challenges in his unique way. I was in the back room dealing with something else and then you came in looking to heal your Pokémon which was fine until you were in line for our famous candy. People said that you looked anxious once the machine had broken. After that you just stumbled out of town according to those two girls. I have to say I'm concerned nobody decided to help you." An uncomfortable pause filled the room as some bystanders heard bits of the story before staring at us while the door opened as more people came in. "So do you want me to schedule another match next week?"


    "Are you insane? After what you went through? Fact is that you're lucky to be healthy after spending a night in the forest with hypothermia even with a fire type to keep you warm." Nurse Joy is right but I refuse to wait that long for a rematch.

    We were interrupted by loud clapping from behind. "Despite utter defeat you wish to challenge me again so quickly. Most trainers wait weeks to challenge me again or never come back at all. Definitely not an ordinary trainer for sure and for your tenacity, I accept your challenge."

    I gave him the most determined look I could muster. "See you tomorrow morning."

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