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  1. #91
    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default §23: Blind Again

    The Oreburgh City Gym looked like a normal Gym on the outside, but was like a mine on the inside. There were many layers of rocks, and a few wooden bridges connecting them. Some Trainers were ready to welcome challengers that enter the Gym with a battle, weakening them for Roark, and training in the process.

    Most new Trainers would come with a Turtwig or a Piplup, and those who picked a Chimchar would catch a Budew, but that was the first time the Gym Trainers encountered someone who trained both a Turtwig and a Roselia, Budew’s evolved form.

    ‘I win,’ Gardenia laughed as the large formation of rocks fell to the ground. ‘You call that thing an Onix? Really, kid, why are you even a Trainer? You’ll never be good. Now move out of my way, I’ve got a Roark to destroy.’

    *


    ‘Come on, Maylene!’ Crasher Wake pleaded. ‘Let me carry you to your house! I will run like I always do!’

    ‘I don’t want to,’ Maylene said. ‘I’ll just walk back home with Riolu.’

    ‘Forget what Riley said! What does he know? He only defeated Pryce once!’ Crasher Wake started shouting, and Riolu didn’t believe that his voice could get any louder, yet somehow, it did. ‘Riley is an idiot! He can only sense Aura, but you can kick a grown man to the ground! Come on, kick me!’

    ‘In the house?’ Maylene said. ‘What if I break something?’

    ‘Since when did you care?!’ Crasher Wake shouted, grabbing Maylene by the leg, and lifting her up to his eyes. ‘You hesitated, now you can’t kick me! What are you going to do, upside-down girl?!’

    With a grump, Maylene pushed her fist as hard as she could into Crasher Wake’s face, but the man wasn’t even fazed. He let his lips slide into a smirk as he squeezed harder on Maylene’s leg, and she knew he was challenging her; a simple punch wasn’t enough. But even though she knew it would do no good, Maylene shouted and punched again, while Crasher Wake gave his signature loud laugh; taunting Maylene. Either the man was a genius, and he knew how to give Maylene her motivation, or he was an idiot, as all seemed to do was reinstate what Maylene had been telling herself; that she was weak.

    And as Riolu’s eyes darted from Crasher Wake’s face to Maylene, he understood his Trainer a little better. Maylene wasn’t going to let anyone challenge her and get away with it, which is exactly what Crasher Wake was doing. Riley’s mistake was trying to be easy on the girl, and not to break her spirits; had he outrightly told her that she was weak, she would have responded with a fight, likely beating Lucario all by herself.

    Crasher Wake let out a scream of pain as Maylene fell to the ground, quickly getting up and tackling the man to the ground, revealing a few drops of blood on the floor. The sound of glass shattering finally drew all of Riolu’s consciousness to the fight; Crasher Wake’s nose was bleeding, and he held it while Maylene kicked him again and again; letting all her anger out.

    Brawly used her near death experience against her in their battle, Pryce mocked her, and Riley told her that she couldn’t use Aura. With each kick, Maylene let out all the emotions she had been holding for the past five months, and as much as Riolu wanted to help Crasher Wake, who seemed to be cowering in a heap on the floor next to a broken plate, he feared for his own safety.

    A hand pushed him out of the way, and a blur of orange rushed past, colliding with Maylene and sending water flying in all directions, washing away all of Riolu’s mud trails, and causing all electricity in the house to shut down. A few pieces of the broken plate floated past Riolu, followed by some red dots, before more water entered the room.

    ‘I’m fine, Floatzel,’ Crasher Wake said, nudging his Pokémon away from Maylene. ‘Are you going to let me carry you to Veilstone now, Maylene?’

    The girl looked around the house; Floatzel must have produced a lot of water. She was completely drenched in the aftermath of the attack, and the TV was smoking, likely also a result of Floatzel’s attack. Riolu floated in the corner, looking around in horror, his eyes were wide open, and as he met Maylene’s soft eyes, the pair exchanged a chuckle.

    ‘Yes!’ Maylene said as she climbed Crasher Wake. ‘Take me to Veilstone.’

    *


    At the end of the Oreburgh Gym was an official arena where the Gym Leader, Roark, would battle his challenger. There were rocks scattered inside the Gym, and knowing that Roark was currently in the Oreburgh Mine, Gardenia had forced the Gym Trainers to build her a throne on Roark’s side, where she sat patiently, two youngsters behind her ready to answer to her, and a Turtwig on her lap.

    She had received the small green Pokémon from Professor Rowan, hiding her Roselia from him in her Poké Ball, and insisting that she was a new Trainer looking for a starter. Turtwig had a small branch ending with two leaves rising from his head, and a hard brown shell on his back.

    After meeting a member of the Johto Elite 4, Gardenia lost to him in a battle, and followed him for some time, constantly challenging him, and always losing to him, and he had finally managed to make her lose his trail. Gardenia decided that the only way to meet him again, and to defeat him, was to train and become as strong as a Gym Leader, or even stronger, and since challenging Gyms was how Cynthia did it, Gardenia was sure it would work for her.

    Hearing the door of the Gym open, and the footsteps of someone who had to be Roark enter, Gardenia, with a wave of her fingers, ordered the Trainers to get into position, and they both kneeled down, as if they were butlers waiting for an order. Gardenia quickly crossed her legs, and began stroking Turtwig. The footsteps echoed closer, revealing the footsteps of another person, and Gardenia hoped that it was Candice.

    As the pair entered the arena, the sensors activated, and beams of light attacked from the ceiling revealing the entire Gym to the Roark and Candice.

    ‘Hello, Roark. Hello, Candice,’ Gardenia smirked; her grand enterance back into Sinnoh was successful. ‘I’m sure you missed me.’
    Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 10th October 2012 at 06:10 PM.

  2. #92
    J'ai Envie De Toi AetherX's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Barefoot, Fighting Genius!

    I'm glad you're continuing this story, it's quite unique. I especially love the way you've made Riolu a unique character in his own right. I should probably go back a few chapters to reacquaint myself with the story, but I like how its coming along and I look forward to more.

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  3. #93
    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Barefoot, Fighting Genius!

    Quote Originally Posted by AetherX View Post
    I'm glad you're continuing this story, it's quite unique. I especially love the way you've made Riolu a unique character in his own right. I should probably go back a few chapters to reacquaint myself with the story, but I like how its coming along and I look forward to more.
    Thank you for reading and commenting! It really means a lot to me that so many people like Riolu as a character, and I'm very happy to see that you like how the story is progressing so far. I hope you like what is to come!

  4. #94
    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default §24: I Can Breathe Now

    The world around her was a blur of colours once more. Trees merged with the ocean and the houses, and the noises of the Pokémon slowly overcame the talks of the humans. Maylene, carefree once gain, was completely focused on the wind. As Crasher Wake carried her and ran to Veilstone, like he had always done before she travelled to Johto, the little girl reverted to the way she was at that time; she was carefree and ignorant.

    All her weaknesses didn’t matter, and there were no obstacles in her way. Maylene forgot all those who posed a challenge to her, and all those who made her life harder. At that time, she would dwell in the single moment that would always go by too fast.

    *


    ‘I have to say, Roark,’ Gardenia said, still stroking Turtwig and sitting in the most conceited of ways. ‘I never thought you would become a Gym Leader so soon, but I’m glad you did; it means I’ll get my first Gym Badge from you.’

    ‘Gardenia, I’m so glad you’re safe!’ Roark said, booming with joy. ‘Where were you all this time?’

    ‘I was busy becoming stronger,’ Gardenia smirked, getting up slowly. ‘In Johto!’

    For a while, Roark and Candice were at a loss for words; Gardenia had created such a dramatic, exaggerated situation that the pair waited for hidden cameras to come out of the shadows, and for someone to shout ‘Cut’, while Gardenia kept staring at them, proud of the immaculate way with which she had handled the situation

    ‘Umm, Gardenia,’ Candice started, praying that the stubborn girl won’t interrupt her. ‘I just want to say that I’m sorry. I treated you horribly, and I never gave you a chance to show me what kind of friend you are. I know both Maylene and Roark appreciate you, and I’m sorry that I never did.’

    ‘An apology?’ Gardenia’s smirk started expanding, when her eyes shifted towards Roark, who had narrowed his eyes, as if prompting her. ‘It’s alright; I forgive you.’

    ‘Really?’ Candice started smiling. Her hands clasped together, and the twinkle in her eyes grew.

    ‘Yes,’ Gardenia said, narrowing her eyes at Roark. ‘But first, we have to battle! If you win, then I will stop teasing and making fun on you, which I’m sure is what made you not like me, and If I win, then I get Roark’s Gym Badge; seems fair to me.’

    ‘A battle? Now?’ Roark started. ‘Nobody cares about battling right now; you have to tell us exactly what you were doing all this time! And you have to tell everyone you know that you’re back! You have to go see Maylene; she’s back in Sinnoh right now! How can you even think about battling right now?’

    ‘Please, Roark,’ Gardenia laughed, still stocking her Turtwig. ‘Don’t get dramatic; we don’t need any of that.’

    ‘You’re right, Gardenia,’ Candice said. ‘Let’s forget the drama and battle like we used to!’

    With a swipe at the pocket of her jacket, Candice picked one of two Poké Balls, and sent out her capture from Johto. The Swinub looked around the Gym; it was as if they had never left the Oreburgh Mine.

    ‘Thankfully, I just healed my two Pokémon,’ Candice said. ‘And it seems quite fitting for me to use my newest Pokémon against your newest Pokémon, assuming you’re using Turtwig.’

    ‘You assumed right, Candice,’ Gardenia said, putting her Turtwig back on the ground. ‘I hope you got stronger, because I have. Turtwig! Start with a Tackle!’

    ‘Don’t be phased, Swinub!’ Candice reassured her Pokémon. ‘Use Powder Snow!’

    Swinub took in as much air as she could, and released it with a sharp squeal. Small particles of snow rushed towards the approaching Turtwig, striking the Pokémon as violently as if he had been pelted by ice. The Tiny Leaf Pokémon lost his direction as he tried to cover his face from the snow, and as he turned it, his forelegs failed to handle the speed of the turn in the midst of his confusion, and the Pokémon was sent rolling across the rocks, taking in more damage that he would have taken had he stopped.

    ‘Great job, Swinub!’ Candice shouted. ‘Now, follow that attack with a Mud-Slap!’

    ‘Not again, Candice!’ Gardenia beamed. ‘Turtwig, Withdraw!’

    Acting upon his commands immediately, Turtwig rolled himself against his opponent’s attack, showing only his hard brown shell. Swinub flung some dirt at Turtwig, but it was to no avail, and the quickness with which he followed Gardenia’s second order gave no chance for the Pokémon to defend herself.

    Unrolling himself from the ball, Turtwig finished his run and threw his body, backed by the momentum, against Swinub, sending the small Pokémon back towards Candice. Rolled up and squealing in pain, her Trainer knew that Swinub couldn’t fight anymore; it was her first serious battle, and the Pokémon would need a lot of training before she could catch up to Turtwig, a Pokémon that had without a doubt received many experiences to build his battling techniques upon.

    ‘You did well for a first serious battle, Swinub,’ Candice said, rubbing her Pokémon where the Tackle had hit. ‘I’ll put you back in your Poké Ball for now; rest, and after this battle, I’ll heal you.’

    With a nod and a strange purr, Swinub retreated into her Poké Ball, leaving the battlefield and officially winning Gardenia the first match. Turtwig walked back to his side of the field, and stood in front of his Trainer, waiting for the next opponent. His confident rose, but Gardenia knew that Candice’s next Pokémon is Snorunt, her strongest Pokémon, and Turtwig, being a relatively new Pokémon, had no chance against her.

    With another quick swipe at her jacket, Candice put Snorunt’s Poké Ball back into her pocket, and withdrew the second one. Snorunt emerged as soon as the Poké Ball left Candice’s hand, and with a self-glorifying attack, sent the Poké Ball back to Candice without having it touch the ground. Both Gardenia and Roark knew that Snorunt’s most used strategy was to pry off of the opponent’s lack of confidence, but it was too late to warn Turtwig now; he was already nervous about facing an opponent that seemed to have more confidence than he ever could.

    ‘Headbutt!’ Candice commanded.

    ‘Tackle, Turtwig!’ Gardenia shouted, knowing that defending would do them no good.

    Snorunt wrapped her hands around her cloak and bolted towards Turtwig, colliding with him with the full force of both their attacks, but he still had some fight left in him. This wasn’t that far from over; all it needed was just one more attack, and being in such close proximity, Candice immediately gave her second command.

    ‘Ice Fang!’

    ‘No, Turtwig! D-Dodge!’ Gardenia shouted helplessly, but Turtwig had already lost.

    Drastically lowering the temperature in her mouth, Snorunt had taken a large breath of air as she opened it, covering her teeth with a thin layer of ice, before lowering it and clasping her jaws against the small Turtwig. The Pokémon let out a cry of pain as the cold hit his already-injured leg, and fell in a heap on the rocky floor, with his limp still in Snorunt’s mouth.

    The Snow Hat Pokémon slowly let go of his leg; dropping it suddenly might cause a jolt of pain that was unnecessary. Gardenia retreated her Pokémon to his Poké Ball, and gave a look of resignation; she should never have tried to take on Snorunt with Turtwig.

    ‘Roark, would you mind taking Turtwig to the Center?’ Gardenia started. ‘I think that fall did a lot more damage than we think it did.’

    ‘Yeah, sure,’ Roark said, sprinting to meet Gardenia and take the Poké Ball from her cupped hands. ‘Do you want me to heal Swinub as well, Candice?’

    ‘Why not?’ Candice said, chucking her Poké Ball at Roark as he ran past her towards the exit. ‘Snorunt and Roselia against each other again, huh, Gardenia?.’

    ‘And again, Candice,’ Gardenia grinned. ‘I will win.’
    Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 10th October 2012 at 06:11 PM.

  5. #95
    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default §25: A New Spirit

    The two Pokémon knew each other as if they were sisters, and nothing Snorunt could do was going to lower Roselia’s confidence in herself; she had become accustomed to this strategy from their many battles.

    ‘Alright, Snorunt,’ Candice started. ‘We can win this. Use Ice Fang!’

    ‘It’s not going to work again, Candice!’ Gardenia shouted across the arena. ‘Roselia, start with a Leech Seed!’

    Snorunt knew that attack well, and if she fell victim to it again, it could decide the battle. She ran to the right, constantly circling Roselia, as she got closer, making it harder for the Thorn Pokémon to hit her opponent. And as soon as she was close enough to land her attack, Snorunt jumped at Roselia’s side, sending the pair rolling together across the rocks as the Ice Fang successfully hit the target.

    Roselia let out a scream of pain as Snorunt bit into her harder. The pair rolled, sending a single long cloud of dust up towards the air, before Roselia managed to shake off Snorunt, and each of the Pokémon rolled away from the other. They got up at the same time, not standing opposite each other, yet not in front of their Trainers, waiting for orders.

    ‘Magical Leaf!’ Gardenia shouted. ‘Take your opportunity!’

    With a wail, Roselia brought her roses together, and separated them to send a flock of colourful leaves flying towards Snorunt. The Ice Pokémon pulled the cloak over her head, and took the attack with all of its force. The leaves scratched and injured, but eventually, they all flew past, degenerating into the air as vibrantly as they had appeared.

    All that was left was a cloud of dust, a perfect line created by Roselia’s attack that connected the Pokémon. ‘Icy Wind!’ Candice let a smile slip by. ‘Take your opportunity, Snorunt!’

    One easy blow, and the dust slowly turned into cold ice that drifted in the air, back towards Roselia, scratching and stinging her all over her body. Candice shouted another order, and as sudden as the attack had been, Roselia felt the full force of another attack from Snorunt.

    She had run towards her opponent, who was distracted by the pain, and slammed head first into the smaller Pokémon’s body with a Headbutt attack. The pair tumbled to the ground again, only this time, Snorunt failed to get up; as hard as she struggled, she was pinned to the dirt.

    ‘You shouldn’t have tried that, Candice,’ Gardenia grinned. ‘Such a close-ranged attack, with such a determined direction. You know Roselia never forgets an order.’

    Candice took a closer look at Snorunt, praying that it wasn’t what she thought it was. She squinted, and saw the green seeds stuck to Snorunt; Leech Seed had hit, and her worst fears were true.

    Roselia got up, moving to the far side of the field, as far away from her opponent as she could get. She sent another flock of leaves towards Snorunt as she evaded the Pokémon’s attacks; it was easy to stay out of the way of an attack when the attacker was stationary.

    Candice kept on beaming orders, but with each second, Roselia sapped more health, and Snorunt grew weaker. It was a slow defeat, but a defeat nonetheless, and it had eventually dawned; Snorunt gave away, and her head fell to the ground motionlessly.

    Gardenia had won.

    ‘Yes, we did it!’ Gardenia beamed, running to hug Roselia, while Candice went to her Pokémon. ‘I’m really proud of you, Roselia!’

    ‘Congratulations, Gardenia,’ Candice said, picking Snorunt up and holding her. ‘That was a good battle.’

    ‘Which means I get the Coal Badge!’ Gardenia said, punching the air in front of her repeatedly. ‘And because you didn’t win, I can still tease you!’

    ‘That is what we agreed on,’ Candice reluctantly said. ‘We’ll just wait until Roark gets back, then we can get you your Badge.’

    ‘Of course,’ Gardenia started. ‘That was a tough battle, and as much as I’d like to think I improved, you’ve definitely improved even more. I won’t tease you as much as I used to, but I still will.’

    ‘You did get stronger,’ Candice smiled. ‘And thank you; I hope we can be better friends to each other this time around.’

    ‘I believe this means we should hug,’ Gardenia said, wrapping her arms around Candice, and holding her tightly. ‘This is a new life!’

    *


    ‘You’re going to be excited,’ Roark said. ‘I can’t believe you came here so soon.’

    ‘Yeah well, being a crybaby isn’t going to help me become the Strongest!’ Maylene said. ‘And Crasher Wake is a fast runner!’

    ‘Clearly!’ Roark laughed. ‘I’m sure Candice will be glad that we’re spending the rest of your vacation together.’

    ‘I sure hope so,’ Maylene said. ‘That whole ‘becoming Strongest’ thing did terrible stuff to us.’

    ‘But we’re all back together now, right? And that’s all that matters.’

    ‘Right!’ Maylene gave a single, violent nod. ‘Why didn’t Candice heal Swinub with you anyway?’

    ‘Oh, she was busy,’ said Roark, opening the door to the Gym and lowering his voice. ‘She was meeting an old friend.’

    ‘I see,’ Maylene said, instinctively lowering her voice as well. ‘Do I know that old friend?’

    ‘Maylene! Long time no see, mindless muscle!’

    Maylene gasped at the sight of not just any old friend, but a friend that she had wanted to see for such a long time, and apologise for the way she treated her, but at that moment, all Maylene could think about was how amazing it was that Gardenia was there, right in front of her.

    ‘Gardenia!’ Maylene shrieked. ‘Gardenia!’

    She ran up the stairs, and tackled her old friend to the ground. ‘You’re actually here! You’re here! I can’t believe you’re here!’

    ‘Me neither!’ Gardenia shouted back, wrapping her arms around Maylene like she had done to Candice just minutes ago. ‘I can’t believe you’re back!’

    ‘This is going to be amazing! The four of us, back together again! I can’t believe Roark and Candice found you!’

    ‘No, I found them!’ Gardenia laughed. ‘All they did was stare at my magnificent comeback!’

    ‘What comeback?! I want to see the comeback!’

    ‘Well then we’ll reenact it!’ Gardenia laughed again, kicking Maylene as hard as she could, sending her rolling down the stairs and out of the Gym. She got up and dusted herself, and pointed at the two Gym Trainers. ‘You, turn off the light, and you, prepare the throne! We’re doing it again!’
    Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 10th October 2012 at 06:11 PM.

  6. #96
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    Default §26: For The Memories

    The group was huddled together at the edge of Route 207, each with their Pokémon. Roark was standing tall beside Cranidos, the Pokémon he had discovered as a fossil while on one of his exploration trips with his father. He remembered that moment vividly, and always smiled as he recalled the smile of approval his father gave him; he hadn’t been prouder of his son.

    Soon afterwards, Roark, with the help of the Oreburgh Mining Museum, managed to resurrect the Skull Fossil, and right then, as he looked at his first Pokémon, he became as proud as his father had been. The pair had come a long way and obtained the title they had long dreamed of; a Gym Leader.

    Right next to Cranidos was Roark’s second Pokémon, the Geodude he had caught just earlier that day, and beside Geodude stood Roselia, next to her Trainer.

    Gardenia had caught Roselia after wrestling the Pokémon to the ground; at least, that was the story she told them. Knowing Gardenia, there had to be some exaggerations. On Gardenia’s right side was her new Pokémon, the Turtwig she had claimed from Prof. Rowan.

    Then stood Candice, along with Snorunt and Swinub. The young girl had befriended Snorunt when the pair were just children, and they had been companions ever since. And she had caught Swinub in Johto, a moment that Roark was present to see.

    And then, farthest away from Roark, stood Maylene, along with Riolu.

    ‘This is it, Maylene,’ Roark said, giving a hint of a smile. ‘Once you catch a Pokémon, we’ll all have two each.’

    ‘This is weird,’ Maylene choked. ‘I never caught a Pokémon before.’

    ‘Neither did any of us,’ Candice said. ‘Well, except for Gardenia, but she did it on her own. Roark and I were pretty nervous when we caught Swinub and Geodude.’

    ‘You’re right,’ Maylene said, though the thoughts in her mind completely clouded what Candice had said. ‘Here we go, Riolu.’

    She took the first few steps towards the tall grass, where all the Pokémon hid. Riolu followed close by, while Gardenia shouted encouraging words at her friend. Another step, and Maylene felt as if her rapidly beating heart was going to pierce her chest and escape.

    Beside her, Riolu was an anxious as she was. He had already lost the first battle in which he didn’t use his Aura powers, the powers he had vowed to suppress, and never before had he been that unsure of an outcome. This meant a lot to Maylene; it was a step she had to take if she were to become a Gym Leader, like she had always hoped.

    Behind her, her friends cheered her on, prompting her forward with their words of encouragement. They seemed to have a deluded, blinded confidence in her, the type that would only be associated with the young; in their eyes, nothing could go wrong. Maylene took one more step, a giant one, into the tall grass, and almost immediately, as if waiting for her, something tackled her leg.

    She fell to the ground with a yelp, as Riolu jumped forward to tackle the Pokémon. ‘It’s a Machop!’ Maylene exclaimed upon one glance; she knew that Pokémon well, having seen it under the command of many Gym Trainers in Cianwood City. ‘This is great! Riolu, use Force Palm!’

    As usual, the Pokémon drove his hand into his opponent, but something was different. Machop wasn’t fired back, there was no beam of energy that flew out of Riolu; the attack had become a mere push. Maylene’s eyes shifted from one Pokémon to the other in confusion; had she been frozen in time? Was the anticipation just delaying the events in her mind?

    And then Machop delivered his attack, driving the side of his hand deep into Riolu’s side, and retracting it just as fast. Something was different, and it had the worst timing ever. But to Riolu, it was simple; it was just the implications of a decision he had taken, and as much as he knew it was not going to be an easy start, he wasn’t leaving Maylene behind.

    As his attacks proved to be much weaker than before, and as he struggled to avoid and defend himself against Machop’s rapid hits, Riolu recalled that decision; he had always wanted Maylene to be able to control her Aura powers, because as soon as she did, they would have become an unstoppable pair. He knew that they would be in complete unison and understanding of each other, and he had worked on perfecting his own Aura powers, to make it easier for Maylene to learn her own powers.

    But ever since Riley told her than she will never be able to control Aura, Riolu had to forgo his own abilities; the pair was going to have to learn to connect with each other on a different level, to be in unison without using external powers, otherwise, the pair would just grow apart. Riolu had relied too heavily on his reading of other Pokémon’s Aura in the past, and he was just suffering the consequences.

    ‘Reversal!’ Maylene commanded. ‘Do your best, Riolu!’

    Machop’s hand approached for another hit, but Riolu held it firmly, stopping the attack and flipping Machop over his head. He hit the ground in a heap, letting out a scream of surprise, before Riolu delivered a punch to his opponent.

    There was another hit, a cold object; a Poké Ball had hit Machop, and that was his last thought before he was sucked into the sphere. A ding chimed through the field to signify the success of the capture. Riolu stared in awe at the Poké Ball lying on the ground in front of him, the gravity of the moment hitting him harder than he had anticipated.

    Gardenia was the first to cheer, and the others followed immediately, rushing to hug Maylene, who just stared blankly. Riolu was staring back at her, standing beside the settle Poké Ball; they had never thought much of it, but the capture of a new Pokémon meant that it wasn’t just Maylene and Riolu anymore.

    There was a new entity on this journey, a change neither of them was fully ready to face.

    *


    They often thought of Hearthome City as another home; it was where Maylene and Candice had met Gardenia, who eventually introduced them to Roark, and the city was big and busy enough for them to have fun however they wanted. Going there seemed like a fitting end to the short vacation they had together.

    The receptionist at Amity Square recognised them immediately, and allowed them in, even though they had no Pokémon accompanying them. The four children settled atop a small island in the middle of the lake. The water was very shallow and clear, showing the school of Finneon that swam around to the amusement of all the speculative eyes.

    ‘This is nice, isn’t it?’ started Candice. ‘All four of us, spending time together again.’

    ‘And the weather,’ Roark laughed. ‘Never forget the weather.’

    ‘Yes, and the weather,’ Candice grinned. ‘But really, this is nice!’

    ‘It is,’ Gardenia said as she started to unwrap the food she snuck in. ‘But it’ll probably be the last time for a long time. Just think about it; a year ago, we all had nothing to do.’

    ‘You’re right,’ said Maylene; she was tapping her toes against the grass and picking at the folded flowers. ‘I have to go back to Johto tomorrow, Roark has to return to his Gym, and you want to go around and collect Badges.’

    ‘So that leaves Candice out,’ said Gardenia. ‘You’re the only one without something to do, Frosty.’

    ‘I did decide that I want to prove Pryce wrong, didn’t I?’ Candice said as Gardenia handed her one of the sandwiches she snuck in. ‘He thinks that having a bond with your Pokémon means you’re weak, and I want to prove him wrong.’

    ‘And how will you do that?’ Roark said.

    ‘I don’t know yet,’ Candice continued. ‘But I’ll figure it out eventually, and then I’ll prove him wrong.’

    ‘But really,’ started Maylene. ‘Do you think it’s possible? I’ve had Machop for a few days now, and he doesn’t listen to me at all; all he wants to do is train.’

    ‘You’ll get to him eventually,’ said Gardenia. ‘Turtwig was like that at first, but then I defeated him with Roselia. We showed him; he can’t be strong without us!’

    ‘Maybe that’s it,’ said Roark. ‘Maybe he wants to battle Riolu again.’

    ‘I didn’t really have any problems with Swinub,’ said Candice. ‘She’s been very kind so far. But it is possible to become strong through friendship.’

    ‘Please don’t start with a speech,’ Gardenia said. ‘We don’t need to bore ourselves to death; we have televisions for that.’

    ‘Cheer up, Maylene,’ Candice said, putting her hand on her friend’s shoulder. ‘We won’t see each other for a very long time, and we don’t need to spend the rest of the day moping.’

    ‘Or boring ourselves!’ Gardenia added, grinning.

    ‘Or boring ourselves,’ Candice chuckled. ‘After this, why don’t we sneak into the Trophy Garden again?’

    ‘Or trick Fantina again,’ said Roark. ‘That never gets old.’

    ‘Why not something new?’ said Gardenia. ‘I heard Sunyshore City got a new Gym Leader; let’s bore him!’
    Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 10th October 2012 at 06:12 PM.

  7. #97
    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default §27: The Warm Welcome

    This time, it was definite.

    Maylene had said her goodbyes and seen all the places she wanted to remember. She got her closure, and there could be no more excuses to go back to Sinnoh, or to ever have it disturb her training. Whatever Chuck demanded, she had no excuse not to do it. Maylene knew that for most of her training here, she had it easy. As a newcomer, she didn’t work as hard as Brawly, Nob, or any of the other Gym Trainers, and she had to avoid any rough activities after she had her accident.

    With her mind completely focused on anticipating the rough training she was going to have to go through, Chuck revealing that he intended on sending her away once more was more than a shock to her.

    ‘A guy named Bruno will be of help,’ Chuck said as he moved wooden craters and lifted steel, assisted by his Primeape. ‘He’s part of the Elite 4, so he knows much more than I do. Brawly already went to train there, so you can just join them.’

    Maylene’s eyes followed the rushing Primeape and his Trainer; they were so busy doing whatever it is that they needed to do. Chuck must have learned to control his Pokémon sometime while she was gone, as her last memory of the Primeape involved herself falling into a large body of water, an occurrence that was often followed by hazy memories.

    She slowly backed out of the Gym, and went to join her waiting Pokémon. Riolu was resting against the warm sands that he had never experienced in any place but Cianwood, and Machop seemed to be confused by, yet ecstatic at, the change in the weather. He often ran off and challenged other Trainers’ Pokémon, but they were also too busy to pay attention to him.

    Riolu looked up at his Trainer expectedly, waiting for any response from her. They had never seen Chuck and his Trainers so absorbed in their work before, and amidst all the building and the running around, Maylene knew that, as Chuck had told her, she had to go.

    ‘Apparently we have to go to a place in Kanto,’ Maylene said with a sigh. ‘The Sevii Islands. We can train there with a guy named Bruno if we want, and Brawly is already there.’

    Riolu’s head almost fell in disappoint; they had come all this way to finish their training, and they were more excited than ever, and more determined, yet another trip was in order. Machop turned to the pair not long afterwards, and joined them in their disappointment; he wanted to fight as soon as possible, and fight anything he can fight.

    He immediately went for Riolu, jumping at him fist first, and throwing the smaller Pokémon to the ground. Machop started jumping in his place, his fists in front of him, and shouting at Riolu to get up for a fight.

    ‘Not now, Machop,’ Maylene said. ‘There will be a time for that, but not now.’

    Riolu lifted himself up from the sands; Machop had just joined them and he was already annoying. He walked behind Maylene, who started for the sea, talking about whether they should swim or wait for a boat, but all Riolu could concetrate on was Machop’s unnecessary taunts.

    The Superpower Pokémon kept on jumping in his place, diving higher into the air with each leap. He was eager to battle, as he always was, and joining sides with a human didn’t change that; any moment that he was able to spend out of the Poké Ball was an opportunity for a fight. His jumps slowly brought his forward towards Riolu, who was staring with disregard, unable to fathom this obsession, even though it was in him as well.

    Maylene had been lucky in capturing a Pokémon that was as enthusiastic about becoming stronger as she and Riolu were, but it was evident that the way with which Machop tried to achieve his goal was vastly different; while Maylene and Riolu turned to those stronger than themselves for guidance, Machop seemed to not only crave battles at any given moment, but unable to accept loss.

    To Maylene, it was her new Pokémon’s strength; the fact that he would stop at nothing to become stronger. But to Riolu, it was Machop’s weakness; the Pokémon lacked the doubt that drove Maylene and Riolu to Cianwood, and the fear of not achieving their dreams.

    ‘We’ll just wait for a boat,’ Maylene announced as she turned around to face her still Riolu and jumping Machop. ‘I told you, Machop, not now. We can’t fight.’

    Machop looked at his owner defiantly before walking off towards the approaching Chuck and his Primeape. The large Pokémon was carrying numerous boxes above his shoulders, while Chuck was holding a large metal beam; Maylene still had no idea why everyone seemed to gather building supplies in the cave.

    With a jump, Machop managed to kick the top box to the sand, brining it down with a crash, sending screws and scrap metal digging into the sand, and lifting a considerable amount of weight off of Primeape’s left arm. He toppled to the ground at the sudden shift, and all of the boxes followed the example of the first, sending iron rods, chains, bags of sharp steel, and various other interpretations of metal into the sand. Machop landed on the ground safely, returning to his challenging, taunting style of jumping, looking Primeape directly in the eye, and waiting for the inevitable fight to start.

    Primeape let out a shrill shriek before running towards the Machop. He drove his fur-covered body into the smaller Pokémon, and fired him to the side of the Gym. Machop’s body left a dent, and he fell to the ground with a gasp, but Primeape didn’t stop; he ran forward once more, picking Machop up by his leg, and smashing him like a rag doll against the corner of the Gym. The building suffered another dent, a dent that got deeper with every hit.

    ‘Stop that!’ Maylene shouting and ran forward. ‘You’ll kill him!’

    Riolu followed his Trainer, as did Chuck. Each time their feet met the ground, Machop’s head collided against the Gym, and as they got closer and closer, the corner eventually came apart, and Machop was thrown into the Gym. Primeape jumped in after his victim, landing knee first on the unsuspecting Pokémon. The floor beneath them cracked as Primeape drove his knee into his prey once more.

    Maylene was the first to jump through the hole in the Gym, sending her body flying towards the Primeape who had been in that same situation not too long ago; he grabbed Maylene by her leg again, and flung her out of the hole, and towards the ocean. Riolu jumped up, catching his Trainer before she fell headfirst into the waters of Johto for the third time, and fell back from the force as Chuck passed him.

    He went into the Gym, and with one forceful grip, lifted the flailing Primeape off of the unconscious Machop. ‘Come get your Pokémon,’ Chuck said to Maylene, the Primeape still struggling in his hand. ‘And make sure he doesn’t act like a petulant child again.’

    ‘I’m sorry,’ Maylene said as she produced a Poké Ball. ‘I don’t know why he did that.’

    ‘It’s evident why he did that,’ Chuck said, dropping Primeape now that Machop was no longer in the area close to them. ‘You were not ready for a second Pokémon, Maylene, and you should not have caught that Machop.’
    Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 10th October 2012 at 06:13 PM.

  8. #98
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    Default §28: Clash

    The S.S. Aqua arrived in Vermilion City in the middle of the night. Maylene lazily left the bed she had been sleeping on, and was forced to leave the ship. Her vision was hazy, and she swayed as she walked, yawning and rubbing at her eyes.

    The city was surprisingly noiseless. Even though passengers were constantly leaving and boarding ships, they were all quiet and organised, not making any sound that might disturb those who were sleeping in their own houses, or in the port. Maylene sat on a bench close to the ship she had just exited, and waited for another ship, one that would take her to the Sevii Islands.

    In her pocket, Riolu and Machop were resting in their Poké Balls, next to a blue plastic container that held an identification card, as well as the Rainbow Pass that would allow Maylene to travel to the Sevii Islands. All Maylene had to do was wait for one of the many ferries that would take her to where she was supposed to meet Bruno.

    She had left Cianwood in a hurry, taking care not to cause any more problems. Perhaps Chuck was right; maybe she wasn’t ready for another Pokémon. Even before she caught Machop, she and Riolu had been growing apart; they were less synchronised in their battles, and they hadn’t spent any time training together.

    The fact that Riley had shot down all her hopes of becoming an Aura Master seemed to affect Maylene deeper than she had expected. It wasn’t as simple as accepting it; she had to learn how to cope with it. She reached into her pocket, and produced Riolu’s Poké Ball, a Poké Ball that was scratched and damaged from years of ownership. She held it between her palms, and stared at it intensely, wondering if Riolu could stare back at her, and if his mind housed the same thoughts that Maylene’s did.

    She pushed her finger against the release button, and Riolu formed from the beam of light that shot out of the Poké Ball. He turned to face Maylene, who patted the area on the bench next to her, and climbed to sit next to her.

    ‘I’m sorry, Riolu,’ Maylene started, squeezing out the words. ‘Ever since you hatched, it was always about me becoming Stronger.’

    Riolu stared back at his Trainer, etching closer to her. He placed his head against her hip, and wrapped his arms around her, and Maylene’s arms covered Riolu. Even though Maylene had been expecting a regretful speech about how she never cared for Riolu’s feelings, it seemed that what she said was enough.

    Riolu’s hold was comforting, and his body was relaxed against her arms.

    *


    Maylene woke up to the sound of a ship leaving, sending water flying in a heap behind her. From the corner of her eye, Maylene noticed that the ship was different than the white, luxurious-looking cruises that set sail; it was almost completely black, and the passenger she left behind was different than all the rest.

    He wore a green tank top, camouflage pants, and brown boots. His eyes hid behind his sunglasses, and his blonde hair went up in spikes. His body was muscular, and his footsteps were loud, giving him many stares from the people who awaited their own ships.

    Behind him was an orange coloured Pokémon whose tail ended in a thunderbolt pattern. He walked on two long feet, and had stubby arms. His ears went up high above his head, his cheeks were composed of two sacs that frequently emitted electricity, and he looked around in confidence, encouraging all the people to avert their gaze, all but Maylene.

    Riolu was awake beside his Trainer, sitting on the same spot on the bench, and like Maylene, staring at the strange man. The orange Pokémon’s sacs started emitting longer bolts of electricity, and he started growling.

    ‘Settle, Raichu,’ the man said; his voice was deep and loud, and the Pokémon calmed down immediately. The man turned his head to face Maylene and Riolu. ‘Don’t stare.’

    *


    Even though the Sevii Islands were part of Kanto, they seemed much more different and distinct. The ocean breeze was colder than it was in Cianwood, Olivine, or Vermilion, and the trees were all huddled together behind the buildings, amongst which stood a Pokémon Center larger than any other that Maylene had ever seen.

    As she walked, the wood beneath her foot gave light sounds that combined with the crashing waves and gave her the feeling of something new. Everything around her seemed different, bringing about her excitement, something that she always carried along with each new beginning.

    Riolu walked next to her, observing his new surroundings with a fearful curiosity, a feeling that something was wrong, but he walked on as Maylene entered the Pokémon Center. Brawly greeted her, and they delved into light conversation that Riolu ignored; he was too focused on whatever was wrong.

    There was a large machine attached to a computer, and it took up all the space that a Pokémon Center wouldn’t normally have. A man was working on the wires and all the mechanics of it, and a nurse approached him, handing him a glass of water. To the side, a couple of children were exchanging stories that would seem trivial to most adults, and a Pokémon Trainer sat opposite them checking his Pokédex.

    None of them seemed to be the source of Riolu’s unrest.

    Riolu reluctantly followed Maylene out of the Pokémon Center. Brawly led them to a boat that he rowed past the dock, and as he and Maylene kept on talking, Riolu’s feeling of uneasiness rose more and more, taking up all of his thoughts.

    The boat moved slowly, pushing itself through the water with Brawly’s help. The sea was clam, and the air was as cool as it had been when they arrived. A few Pokémon jutted their heads to observe the group, but dived back into their depths whenever the humans were close. Brawly’s arms stopped controlling the oars, and they sailed slowly, until the boat’s bottom hit the land.

    ‘Good to see you here,’ a man said to them, approaching them with his arms folded before him. ‘Time to train, Maylene.’

    Riolu recognised him. He was the man that Maylene had encountered just outside of Cianwood, right before he attacked her. Maylene froze in her place as Brawly left the boat, and extended a hand to her; she was as scared as Riolu, if not more. Her last encounter with the man left her injured and unable to train, almost crippled.

    ‘Come on, Maylene,’ Brawly said, flexing the fingers of his extended hand. ‘Is something wrong?’

    ‘I’ll assume she didn’t tell you,’ the man said. ‘I was the man who attacked her.’

    Brawly’s eyes turned to Bruno in disbelief; Maylene never mentioned being attacked, nor could he imagine a grown man attacking a young girl so brutally that she would be paralysed with fear at the sight of him.

    ‘It was the day in which the mountain in Cianwood suffered an avalanche,’ the man explained. ‘Did she never tell you?’

    Riolu jumped out of the boat, and stood between the man and Maylene; he was ready to protect his Trainer, who was still frozen in her place.

    ‘Calm down,’ the man said. ‘I’m not going to attack her again, and my attack was merely a response to her own attack. I never permanently injured your Trainer.’

    Even though Riolu’s uneasiness still remained, he was convinced that the man wouldn’t attack Maylene again. Maylene tried to utter out a word, but it turned into a sequence of mumbles.

    ‘It doesn’t matter now,’ the man said. ‘My name is Bruno, and you’re here for me to train you.’

    There were sounds of grunting, and for the first time, Maylene noticed the Pokémon that were battling behind Bruno, amongst which was Makuhita, defending himself against a vicious attack from a muscular, four-armed Pokémon. His body was a dull grey, and three ridges rose up on his head. The Pokémon glanced back at Maylene from the corned of his eye, and gave a small grin.

    ‘Don’t waste time,’ Bruno said. ‘Take Brawly’s hand, and follow me.’
    Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 10th October 2012 at 06:14 PM.

  9. #99
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    Default §29: A Temporary Hue

    Even though Maylene knew that it was not safe for her to trust Bruno so fast, she couldn’t help but do trust him.

    All the man’s Pokémon had the utmost respect and undying loyalty for him, something that she had only seen in Crasher Wake, and only after years of spending time with him. And while she and Chuck had their differences, the fact that he trusts Bruno was reassuring.

    Maylene had not trained for a few days, only observing him and Brawly, something that Bruno seemed to understand, and ever since then, he had ignored her, letting the young girl sit on the beach and observe him and his Pokémon train opposite Brawly and his own Pokémon. Riolu had always been by her side, never letting himself back into his Poké Ball, but even he seemed to be gradually trusting Bruno.

    Perhaps it was the fact that Brawly was present that was reassuring to Maylene and Riolu, maybe his presence meant that Bruno wouldn’t dare attack her again. Even though Maylene was starting to feel safe around Bruno, she still couldn’t bring herself to train with him. She was sure that Bruno wouldn’t harm her, but his training seemed very harsh.

    While Crasher Wake focused on making Maylene and Riolu think as one, and Chuck focused his training on making the Pokémon stronger and sturdier, Bruno focused his training on the humans. Observing Bruno as he trained Brawly, it seemed that the young apprentice was as exhausted by the training as his Makuhita, if not more.

    It was a hot day, and once again, Maylene lingered away from the training, observing from a distance as Brawly panted heavily. Makuhita, being a Pokémon, had long since been able to split a brick in half, but Brawly had been struggling for a few days.

    ‘Do you ever intend on joining Brawly?’

    Both Maylene and Riolu turned around, and the Pokémon flung himself protectively before Maylene at the sight of Bruno.

    ‘How long have you b-been standing there?’ stuttered Maylene, all the feelings of safety she had developed quickly evaporating.

    ‘Just a few seconds,’ said Bruno. ‘Will you join Brawly for your training or not?’

    ‘I… I don’t know yet,’ said Maylene. ‘I just-‘

    ‘I want an answer now,’ said Bruno, and Maylene got up off of the rock she had been sitting on as the large man took a step forward. ‘You can either start now, or leave.’

    Bruno’s voice was loud enough to draw Brawley’s attention to the pair. Riolu remained before Maylene, though he had no clue as to what to do if Bruno decided to attack. Even Riolu couldn’t believe it, but the human was too strong for him.

    ‘An answer, now,’ said Bruno.

    ‘I can’t decide that quickly!’ said Maylene, trying as hard as she can to sound confident. ‘You have to give me time!’

    ‘You’ve had more than enough time,’ said Bruno. ‘If you stay on this rock for the rest of your life, then you’ll never become a Gym Leader. This moping will not benefit you; it’s time you grew up, and faced your life.’

    Maylene wanted to retaliate, but all she could think of was arguing for more time. If she said yes, she would be sucked into training that she was convinced was too much for her at that moment, especially now that her fear of Bruno had returned with full force, and if she said no, then she would miss out on this opportunity. Maybe that’s why she had been feeling safe; Bruno had not spoken to her at all for days.

    It was at that point that the muscular four-armed Pokémon approached the group, and stood behind Bruno. He folded his arms and stared at Maylene, a grin widening his face, unlike Bruno, who stood completely motionless.

    ‘Decide now,’ said Bruno. ‘Or you’ll have to leave against your will.’

    Maylene still stood as if she was about to break into a run, and Riolu, although he remained in front of her, turned his head and started looking expectedly at his Trainer as well.

    ‘And whatever your decision is, don’t think you can change it,’ said Bruno. ‘If you say no, never come back again and expect me to train you.’

    ‘Fine, I’ll leave,’ said Maylene.

    At those words, Riolu completely turned around, giving his back to Bruno, and faced his Trainer. He started protesting, but it seemed useless; for some reason, Maylene had refused the opportunity to become stronger. It couldn’t have been because Bruno had defeated her; that would never get in her way.

    He turned around, facing Bruno and his Pokémon, before jumping off of the rock. He rose into the air, his arm extending behind his body, and thrust it at the Pokémon, who blocked it with ease. Riolu fell to the ground and took on a challenging stance.

    ‘You want to battle Machamp?’ Bruno asked, and Riolu responded with a yell.

    Machamp looked at Bruno expectedly, and the human gave a nod. At once, he jumped forward, and Riolu only had a second to fling himself back before Machamp’s fist dug deep into the sand. A loud muffled thud came as the earth shook, and sand flew in all directions. Machamp jumped towards the Riolu, smashing the rock Maylene had been sitting on, and once again missing the small Pokémon who managed to duck just in time.

    Maylene’s eyes had been covered ever since Machamp’s fist had hit the ground, and sand flew towards her, but when she lowered her arm she saw that she was against the cliff at the far end of the island, her feet not touching the ground. Bruno’s arm was wrapped around her waist, and she hung like a ragdoll.

    ‘Machamp would have hit you,’ said Bruno as the two Pokémon continued to fight, Riolu doing nothing but dodging Machamp’s attacks. ‘Right now, he’s only attacking Riolu in the most basic form, and I will start ordering some attacks from him; I suggest you do the same.’

    But there was nothing that Maylene could think of; whenever Riolu landed on the ground, he only had a second before Machamp had reached him again, and he had to jump away again. Her only option was to retreat her Pokémon. She drew Riolu’s Poké Ball from her pocket, but Bruno’s hand swatted it away, and the sphere flew towards the rocks before shattering as it hit them.

    ‘No retreating!’ Bruno shouted as he dropped Maylene to the ground.

    She became much more frightened. It was as if all her insides had clamped onto each other, and the fear in her increased each time Machamp shook the earth beneath her. With Bruno towering over her, and Machamp’s giving one vicious attack after the other, Maylene was convinced she would die.

    ‘Start battling!’ Bruno shouted again, and Maylene broke into tears.

    She started sopping hysterically, her face against the sand and her yells of anguish louder than the smashing rocks. Beside her, Bruno shouted an order, and a cry of pain echoed throughout the island. Everything stopped, and Maylene hoped that it would stay that way, but then there was a light thud, and Riolu’s body was left sprawled across the ground, surrounded by a cloud of dust.

    Maylene looked up, wiping the tears and sand from her face. Her Pokémon was coughing blood, and his left arm appeared to be bent unnaturally. Machamp stood over him, and only then did Maylene notice that Bruno was no longer next to her. He was standing next to Machamp, casting a look over Maylene before he walked away, his Pokémon closely following him.

    At once, Maylene got up and sprinted for Riolu, who was deep in the sand. She wrapped her arms around her Pokémon, and brought him up to her chest, carefully avoiding his arm. Brawly came over to the pair, and tried to pry Riolu away.

    ‘His arm is just dislocated,’ he said somberly, not making any eye contact with Maylene. ‘I’ll fix it quickly.’

    Reluctantly, Maylene let Brawly take hold of Riolu, and with a slight cry of pain, and a sudden sound, Riolu’s arm looked natural again.

    ‘He just needs rest,’ said Brawly. ‘Just don’t let him battle for a while. I would recommend that you return him to his Poké Ball, but I doubt that would work again.’

    Maylene flung her head around, and was met with the sight of red and white fragments that scattered amongst the rocks. It was the Poké Ball that Crasher Wake had given her, and Riolu was the Pokémon she had received a long time ago from him.

    She wiped at her tearing eyes, and Brawly walked away from the pair. Maylene hugged Riolu again, and she remained still for a long time. The sun set, and the sky became full of stars. Riolu’s hand tightened around Maylene’s, and the pair sat amidst the sand.

    ‘I’m sorry, Riolu,’ said Maylene. ‘I should never have dragged you with me. It’s all my fault for wanting to become a Gym Leader. Life was easier when we never left Sinnoh.’

  10. #100
    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default §30: To The Shade

    Vermilion City didn’t change in eleven days, but Maylene had hoped that something would distract her from the events that had come to pass. Riolu was cradled in her arm, and the remains of his Poké Ball were packed away with her belongings. She stood leaning on the rails of the port, watching the sea and hoping for anything to distract her while she waited for the S. S. Aqua to take her back to Cianwood.

    There are many people aside from Chuck that she would have preferred to talk to, but he was the closest person she could think of; everyone else was in Sinnoh, and she didn’t know anyone from Kanto. A Magikarp was popping against the surface of the water, trying to jump over the water, but always stopping her swim too soon, her mouth constantly gaping as if she was surprised.

    Riolu was clutching at Maylene’s blue shirt when, hours later, the arrival of the S. S. Aqua was announced by the ship’s loud horn, and the dull voice that came with a shrill noise from the megaphones. Maylene showed her ticket, and was able to quickly find her room. She locked the door, and was overcome by a deep slumber.

    *


    The next day, Maylene opened her eyes as soon as the sun had risen. She walked to her window, leaving Riolu fast asleep on the bed. The light reflected on the buildings of Olivine City, and the surface of the sea was glinting, disturbed only by the ripples of the slowing ferry. A good distance was still between them and the dock, and everyone seemed to take that opportunity to watch the sunrise as the footsteps outside Maylene’s door indicated.

    After a few minutes, Maylene started to notice some disturbances in the surface of the sea. A new set of ripples intercepted those created by the S. S. Aqua, and they slowly became waves. A large serpentine beast with glaring red eyes had come into view, and only when it approached the window did Maylene register that it was looking directly at her.

    The Pokémon’s jaws clamped around the circular window, and with a fast motion, pulled it out. The frightened screams of the people above reached Maylene’s ears as she fell onto the floor, and Riolu woke up with a wince.

    The Gyarados swam away past the hole, and right behind his fin, Maylene spotted a familiar face.

    ‘Come on, jump aboard!’ Crasher Wake screamed unnecessarily.

    She didn’t have to think about it; she trusted Crasher Wake enough to do what he said. Maylene wrapped her arms around Riolu, and walked to where the window used to be. The Gyarados swam closer to the ferry, and Crasher Wake was reaching for Maylene.

    ‘What about my bag?’ said Maylene. ‘It has my clothes and everything in it.’

    ‘I’ll take of it, just jump to me!’

    With a final check that the numb bundle in her arms was indeed Riolu, she dived towards the hole, and fell into Crasher Wake’s arms. Gyarados gave a roar, and it swam away as all the spectators took photos and stared in disbelief.

    ‘How did you know where to find me?’

    ‘Brawly called me and told me what happened,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘So I just sailed the sea until I found you; caught this Gyarados while at it!’

    He gave a slap to the Gyarados, and the Pokémon roared in anger.

    ‘Are you going to take me back to Sinnoh?’

    ‘Do you want to go back to Sinnoh?’

    ‘Yeah, I think I’m done,’ said Maylene, casting a glance at Riolu. ‘It’s not like I can go anywhere else.’

    ‘What about Chuck? You can still train with him,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘Besides, I think I’m starting to like Johto! The sea here is great! Sinnoh is cold, and the seas there are not good enough. But this! This is great!’

    Maylene lacked Crasher Wake’s enthusiasm. She glanced again at Riolu, and her eyes lingered on the Pokémon, who looked back in surprise. He couldn’t believe that Maylene would give up on her goal, and Crasher Wake seemed to reflect his thoughts.

    ‘Listen, Maylene, I know you faced more hurdles during the past few months than ever before, but you can’t give up! You said you wanted to become a Gym Leader! You would be great as a Gym Leader!’

    ‘I don’t have what it takes, though.’

    ‘Name the Gym Leaders that you know!’

    ‘There’s you, dad, Roark just became one, his dad, Fantina, and there’s Chuck and Pryce from Johto, and Brawly from Hoenn.’

    ‘And you’re Strongest than all of them!’ Crasher Wake gave a loud laugh. ‘You have all that it takes to become a Gym Leader! Gyarados, let’s go for Olivine!’

    Gyarados gave a roar, and swam faster towards the city. They stopped at the beach, where they all stepped onto the sand, and Crasher Wake returned Gyarados to his Poké Ball. He signaled for Maylene to follow him, and walked towards the center of the city.

    ‘We’ll start by getting back the old you! I don’t like this depressed Maylene!’ said Crasher Wake. ‘The old Maylene ate a lot, so you’re going to start eating!’

    It took them a few minutes of roaming to find a restaurant, and Crasher Wake held the door open as Maylene went in reluctantly. They sat at a table in the centre of the restaurant, and a waiter handed them their menus.

    ‘Anything interests you? I can see a lot of things I want to eat!’ exclaimed Crasher Wake.

    Maylene shook her head, and handed her menu to Riolu, who was sitting on a chair, and almost completely below the table.

    ‘Come on, Maylene,’ Crasher Wake pleaded. ‘Moping won’t get you anywhere! No one blames you. If you ask anyone, they will tell you that it was all Bruno’s fault. When Brawly told me what happened, the first thing I wanted to do was go to Bruno and give him the same treatment he unfairly gave you!

    ‘But right now, I want to make sure you’re okay, and you’re obviously not. This isn’t the Maylene that I know! I want you to show Bruno that you don’t need his help. You can become a Gym Leader on your own, and you can defeat him. I want you to show them all. Be stronger than Chuck, be stronger than Pryce, be stronger than me, your father, anyone! Be the Strongest!’

    ‘And what if I don’t want to be strong anymore?’ said Maylene. ‘What if I don’t want to be a Gym Leader?’

    ‘Then you can stop training, but you do want to be a Gym Leader,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘When I was your age, I was constantly made of for my size, but I didn’t let that get in my way!’

    ‘I didn’t know you were born skinny…’

    ‘I wasn’t! Kids made fun of me because I was huge. I was as tall as you when I was four! You have the ability to be strong, and I’ll prove it!’

    Maylene looked up questioningly at Crasher Wake, and one glance at his eyes zoomed her back. In that moment, Maylene could have sworn she had travelled to all the times she and Crasher Wake had a battle. Every drop of rain surrounding them was clear in her head. Every blotch of mud on her clothes was as present.

    She hadn’t had such a sensation for a long time. Excitement mixed with her doubt, and quickly overcame it. Maybe it was the fact that she had never defeated Crasher Wake, and she made him to be a godly figure in her mind, flawless in his battles, that erased her fear of defeat.

    ‘There’s a twist, though!’ Crasher Wake said with a grin. ‘Since your Machop is new to your team, and my Gyarados barely spent three hours in my possession, we’re going to use them, and have a battle that will shake Johto to its core!’

  11. #101
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    Default §31: The Lessons

    It wasn’t raining, and no clouds obstructed the sun. That day, all of Johto seemed brimming with energy, and the sand beneath Maylene’s feet glittered like diamonds. She stood opposite Crasher Wake on Route 40, gripping the Poké Ball that contained Machop. Only a few paces separated the two Trainers, and the longer Maylene stood there, the more her feelings of doubt left her.

    ‘Ready or not, here I come!’ screamed Crasher Wake. ‘Go, Gyarados!’

    Crasher Wake tossed his Poké Ball into the air. It spun forward rapidly, and opened to reveal the large creature he had caught less than a day earlier. The Gyarados smacked the Poké Ball with his tail, and it flew back towards Crasher Wake.

    ‘Send out your Pokémon!’

    Maylene was nervous. She glanced at the Poké Ball in her hands; of course she’d lose, but Crasher Wake made it clear to her that this wasn’t about winning. She had to learn to command her Machop, and that is what really mattered; she was too dependent on Riolu, who was standing by her, waiting for the Machop to come out.

    Maylene flung the Poké Ball to the ground, and it split to send out the small Pokémon. Machop looked around as the Poké Ball bounced back to Maylene; he was never used in a battle before. A grin spread across Machop’s face, but it quickly disappeared when he saw his opponent. The Gyarados growled, and Machop took a step back, his arms in front of him, ready to attack and to defend.

    ‘Machop, start with a Karate Chop!’ Maylene shouted.

    Without any second’s hesitation, Machop jumped into the air, and was heading for the Gyarados. He brought his hand down on the Pokémon, who gave no reaction except for roaring in return. Machop landed back on the sand, even more weary of the Gyarados than before.

    ‘I’m afraid just attacking won’t be good this time, Maylene!’ Crasher Wake laughed. ‘You see, Gyarados is Flying Pokémon; your Machop can barely do much to him.’

    ‘Then why did you even suggest that we battle?’

    ‘Because when you’re a Gym Leader, you don’t get to choose your opponents,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘You reputation will beat you, and all challengers will bring exactly what counters you!’

    It was true. Maylene had seen many challengers of her father and of Crasher Wake bring exactly what Pokémon would help them get the Badge. It’s not as simple as just becoming a Gym Leader; it carried with it the burden of defeat. Maylene’s mind raced between ideas; even though the Gyarados resisted Machop’s attacks, it was still affected, if only marginally. She could keep on ordering more attacks, or actually use strategy.

    She considered the route of doing what Brawly did; finding what Gyarados is afraid of, and exploiting it, before remembering how it felt and quickly disregarding that thought.

    ‘Focus Energy!’

    Machop relaxed his body and soothes in his spot. He had been as nervous as Maylene, but his comfort seemingly extended to her, as she found herself calming down as well. It was strange not seeing her Pokémon attack after an order, even if she had never battled with Machop before.

    ‘That’s it?’ Crasher Wake laughed. ‘Sooner or later, I’m going to start giving orders for attacks! Better plan your moves carefully, Maylene!’

    ‘Use Leer!’

    If Crasher Wake wasn’t attacking yet, then Maylene must use all the time she had the best way she could. Machop’s defensive stance completely disappeared; he was ready to attack, and the grin returned to his face.

    ‘That’s about as much time as I can give you,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘Aqua Tail!’

    The Gyarados gave a deafening roar that almost took all of Maylene’s confidence. It leapt towards the Machop, flipping over itself in the air and bringing his tail down. Machop leapt out of the way, ducking and diving to the side as the blue tail crashed into the sand, creating a den, and causing some of the sea to their side to splash.

    ‘Low Sweep!’

    Almost instantly, Machop was back on his feet and managed to strike his opponent before it had time to adjust itself. Gyarados fell to his side, creating more dents in the sand, and causing the water to slowly seep into the battlefield, and if Maylene had learned anything through her years of battling Crasher Wake, it was that a Water Pokémon with access to its habitat can be very deadly.

    ‘Karate Chop, and jump out of the way!’

    ‘Surf!’

    She knew the attack too well. Machop jumped towards the rising Gyarados and gave it another strike that did nothing to slow it down. The larger serpentine Pokémon was completely upright, and Machop hurriedly jumped back as it gave a roar.

    It was only a split second before an explosion of noise surrounded the group. A wave rose up to her left, and Maylene could’ve swore she saw a man in swimwear flying off of it; she did not want that force hitting Machop. She did not even consider the fact that they were battling by the sea.

    The wave crashed into the sand, working its way to the end of the beach. Maylene and Riolu braced themselves; from experience, they knew that the force of the attack wasn’t directed at them, but at Machop. The grey Pokémon changed his direction and ran towards the rocks, hoping in vain for the wave to dissipate the further it got from the sea. Gyarados gave another roar, and the attack boosted itself. Another wave joined the first.

    Machop leapt onto the mountain, climbing furiously as the waves hit the rocks, slowly rising and catching up to him. In moments, one of them hit him in the back, and he gave a yelp of pain as his body was pushed against a particularly jutting rock. The attack drew itself back, and Machop fell down, slowly making his way through the water and back to the sand.

    ‘That was a good job!’ said Crasher Wake. ‘Look at Gyarados!’

    Maylene and Riolu, who were dripping with water and had been completely submerged in the waves, shifted their eyes to the larger Pokémon. It was still standing, but Gyarados was panting. Machop leaned back against the rocks, and gave another silly grin.

    ‘You’ve never made any of my Pokémon pant before!’ said Crasher Wake. ‘And if that doesn’t prove to you that you’re Strongest than before, then I don’t know what will.’

    ‘You did give me three free attacks,’ said Maylene. ‘You didn’t give any commands to Gyarados at the start.’

    ‘That is my strategy, then!’ he gave a much louder laugh. ‘Not all Trainers are the same, and some of them even differ from Pokémon to Pokémon. With Riolu, you gave one order of attack after another, and with Machop, you worked on giving him an advantage. In less than a year, even that will change!’

    Maylene couldn’t help but give a dump smile. She gestured for Machop to come, and he ran towards her.

    ‘That was a great job, Machop,’ said Maylene. ‘You were Strongest; perfect for my team!’

    Riolu offered his hand to the Pokémon, and the Machop took it gracefully. Soon enough, the pair had jumped off to the side, and began sparring together. Crasher Wake returned Gyarados to his Poké Ball, and made his way to Maylene. They exchanged no words, but a mere smile.

  12. #102
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    Default §32: A True Test

    A year had passed since that day in Olivine City. For her age, Maylene had become quite tall, and Riolu and Machop had gotten stronger than they had ever been; the pair had been training against each other since that day. And like them, Maylene had been training for that whole year.

    As well as training with him, Maylene had spent the year travelling around Kanto with Crasher Wake, who refused to tell her how he was able to take a year off from his Gym Leader duties. Her time with Chuck and Brawly, and her visits to Pryce and to Bruno; nothing was a match to the time she spent with Crasher Wake. She had travelled to Johto and Kanto, and completely forgot about the fact that a Gym Leader she adored and looked up to was by her all this time.

    Their last stop was Saffron City, where the buildings shot to the sky and gave off many golden lights that were apparent even in the day. Maylene didn’t know whether or not Kanto had a capital, but if it did, then it had to be Saffron. The large bustling city was connected to four other cities, and each of them seemed to have been touched by residents of Saffron and their modern ways. The streets and the buildings reminded Maylene of Sinnoh. After a year, she would finally get to go back; she couldn’t even believe her mother had agreed to this tour of Kanto.

    Riolu and Machop were right behind her, and Crasher Wake was leading the way, getting many looks as the passing citizens studied his outfit.

    ‘Did you save the best for last?’ said Maylene.

    ‘You can tell!’ said Crasher Wake. ‘I can’t get anything past you! You’re as smart as an adult!’

    ‘Or you’re as smart as a small child,’ said a female. ‘It’s nice to see you again, Crasher Wake.’

    Maylene whirled around to see the source of the voice. A young-looking woman stood behind her. She had long flowing grey hair and crimson red eyes. She wore a black tight suit topped with a red shirt and skirt. Her skin was very pale.

    ‘Ah, Sabrina!’ Crasher Wake screamed unnecessarily. ‘It’s great to see you again!’

    The large man ran over to the comparatively petite woman and took her in a hug before lowering her back to the ground. She gave a faint smile before turning to Maylene.

    ‘So, you’re Maylene,’ said Sabrina. ‘It’s very nice to meet you.’

    She offered her a hand, and Maylene took it after noting the white glove that covered it.

    ‘Yes, I’m Maylene,’ she said. ‘Crasher Wake didn’t tell me who you are.’

    ‘My name is Sabrina. I’m the Gym Leader here,’ said Sabrina. ‘I understand you want to become a Gym Leader in the future.’

    ‘I do!’

    ‘Best of luck to you, then,’ said Sabrina. ‘Now, what brings you two to Saffron?’

    ‘We’re travelling Kanto,’ said Maylene. ‘Crasher Wake saved the best for last!’

    ‘So I gather,’ said Sabrina. ‘Well, I hope you enjoy your time here.’

    Giving Maylene a pat on the head, Sabrina walked away. The young girl turned to Crasher Wake with a quizzical look as the larger man shrugged.

    ‘Why does she wear those gloves and long sleeves?’ said Maylene. ‘It’s really not cold.’

    ‘Oh, no one agrees about that!’ said Crasher Wake. ‘Some say she’s just crazy, and hey, I wear things that make people think I’m crazy!’

    Crasher Wake gave his signature loud laugh; even after a year, Maylene had not grown tired of it at all. Maylene had met a few Gym Leaders along her trip around Kanto, and even a girl only a few years older than her who wanted to become a Gym Leader as well; the fact that her father held a position as one, like Maylene’s father, instantly made her like the girl.

    Compared to all the ones she’d met, Sabrina seemed like the most normal of the Gym Leaders; it was only her strange choice of excessive clothing that made her stand out. In fact, all Gym Leaders seemingly had some trait that made them stand out, and it certainly wasn’t hard to figure out what made Crasher Wake different from the rest.

    ‘If I become a Gym Leader, how will I stand out?’ said Maylene.

    ‘Hmm, that’s a tough question. I guess you don’t obviously stand out,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘You’re more like Sabrina in that regard; who might stand out to us, but to the people in Saffron City, she doesn’t attract attention. She’s very subtle.’

    ‘Yeah, I guess she is.’

    Maylene looked up to the sky; the sun was setting; almost playing a game of hide-and-seek behind the various skyscrapers that dotted the city. The streets once again became bustled as life and activity exploded throughout them. Crasher Wake wasn’t a good tour guide, and Maylene often just followed in silence and marveled at the sights she saw without knowing what they were called.

    A particular building stood out amongst the others. It was the tallest in Saffron City, and the clean glass panes that surrounded it reflected every golden light from the surrounding buildings and made it look like the brightest building. The darker it got, and the more the sun was leaving Saffron, the brighter the structure became. Soon, it was as if the building had no glass panes, but was made entirely of the golden light.

    ‘What’s that?’

    ‘Oh, that,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘It’s the Silph Company, according to this sign.’

    ‘Well, I could’ve read that!’ said Maylene. ‘I mean, why is it important?’

    ‘Just because it’s big, that doesn’t mean it’s important!’

    ‘I could say the same thing about you!’

    Once again, Crasher Wake gave his loud laugh. Riolu and Machop, who were sparring throughout Saffron City, had grown tired and were walking sluggishly behind Maylene. Crasher Wake had only ended the day when the night was certain over them. A few slowly left the streets for the comfort of their homes, but many more remained. Crasher Wake had suggested going to meet Sabrina one last time before going back to Sinnoh when Maylene saw the state of the Gym.

    Several figures stood in front of it; there was no way the pair would ever get in. They were all wearing black outfits. It was only a few seconds before all the lights of Saffron City turned off at once, and everything was plunged into darkness.

    A red light started spinning at the top of the Silph Company building, accompanied by a siren, but like the golden before them, it was only a matter of seconds before they disappeared.

    ‘Something’s not right,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘Stand close to me, Maylene.’

    ‘We should go check that building.’

    ‘I promised your mom I would protect you, and that is what I’ll do!’ said Crasher Wake. ‘You’re my top priority right now. Is Riolu and Machop still next to us?’

    The two Pokémon gave sounds of confirmation, and Maylene felt Crasher Wake’s large hand on her shoulder, squeezing her in place.

    ‘That was an emergency,’ said Maylene. ‘It has to be! Red light and annoying noises!’

    ‘Sabrina is the Gym Leader here; if anyone was going to do something in Saffron, then they’ll regret it.’

    ‘Sabrina is stuck in her Gym! They ganged up on her!’ shouted Maylene. She tried to pry her body away from Crasher Wake’s hold, but to no avail. ‘If you want to keep me safe, then come with me! We have to check that place!’

    ‘No, Maylene! It isn’t our job!’

    ‘It’s your job as a Gym Leader!’

    Crasher Wake froze in his place; it was as if the lights inside him had been turned off as well. He chanced one glance at Maylene, then a nod. His hold on Maylene was lifted, but so was the little girl. Crasher Wake took her up to his shoulder, and the two Pokémon clung onto the man.

    He ran through streets of frightened people and crying babies, hushed whispers and panicked screams, before they reached the largest building of Saffron. Four figures stood in front of it, and all of them turned to face the silhouette.

    A woman stepped forward. She must have been the leader, as she wore a dress that was completely white, and her hair was red. With each step she took, her heels clicked against the concrete.

    ‘Whoever you are, don’t think you can come in,’ the woman said. ‘I’m here to stop you if that’s the case.’

    ‘You can’t stop the two of us!’ Maylene shouted and jumped off of Crasher Wake’s shoulder.

    ‘I know you,’ said the woman, studying the large man. ‘You’d be hard to miss with such an outfit. He’s a threat.’

    ‘Then should I take care of him?’ a green-haired man said, taking a step forward as well.

    ‘It’s too dangerous; he’s a Gym Leader,’ said the woman. ‘Proton and Petrel will help you. I’ll take care of this girl.’

    Fear overcame Maylene; whatever this was, she knew that her life hanged on the balance. Riolu and Machop were by her side once more, but so was Crasher Wake.

    ‘That’s not happening,’ he said. ‘You four will leave before all of you cry at my feet.’

    ‘Big words from a big thing,’ said the green-haired man. ‘I guessed you would be all doings with no words, but it must be the other way around.’

    The man walked quite formally to the woman. He stood by her and produced a Poké Ball, and Maylene felt her fear cripple her. Her legs started shaking, and all the confidence she had evaporated in mere seconds. She stared at the man as he sent out a Pokémon that seemed demonic to her.

    It stood on all fours, and growled at the pair of Pokémon. His tail was a pointed arrow that whipped around, and his black body was surrounded by what looked like a skeleton. He had two horns sprouting from his head, and fire leaking out of his mouth.

    Fire. Maylene took a step back, and the Pokémon gave a grin.

    ‘Flamethrower, Houndoom,’ the man said with a grin that resembled that of his Pokémon. ‘Incinerate them both.’

    A jet of fire raced towards Maylene, and the intensity of the heat was there before it. For a split second, Maylene was sure she would die, but she couldn’t blink. A familiar figure appeared in front of her, and the fear in Maylene intensified.

    ‘RIOLU!’

    How could he be so stupid to jump in front of her? His arms were extended, ready to receive the blow of the attack, and absorb as much of it as he could.

    As the attack got closer, another figure became clear. It punched Riolu away, and spun rapidly in his place, sending water flying in all directions. Maylene shielded her eyes against the droplets that stuck her like bullets; she was soaked in a few seconds.

    The Pokémon exploded in a jet of water that shot to the sky, still spinning. It blocked the Flamethrower, and caused the Houndoom to retaliate in anger; his attack had been stopped.

    ‘Great job, Floatzel!’ said Crasher Wake. ‘Now I’ll tell you again. Leave now!’

    A round, purple Pokémon dashed for Crasher Wake, leaving a trail of gas behind him. The large man was quick to act, and he tossed a Poké Ball to the ground from which emerged a Pokémon Maylene had not seen before. It was plumb and blue, with a fat tail that seemed to heavy for it to lift.

    ‘Quagsire, use Slam!’

    The blue Pokémon jumped into the air and brought his tail down on the purple Pokémon.

    ‘A Weezing? How weak!’ the woman said. Maylene turned to the voice, but all she met was a purple-haired man with a slight hunch. ‘I’m Petrel, and impersonations are what makes me stand out!’

    He said the last line with an almost perfect imitation of Maylene’s voice. The young girl took another step back, and the man took two steps forward. Before him was a hairy Pokémon. It had a long tail, and its fur was brown. Long, deadly teeth stuck out of its mouth.

    ‘Raticate, give her a little chomp, why don’t you?’

    The Pokémon dashed for Maylene, but once again, Floatzel was quick enough to leap away from the Houndoom and into the Raticate. Crasher Wake sent out his Gyarados, and was giving commands to his three Pokémon as the Floatzel leapt back towards the Houndoom; it was the only one of Crasher Wake’s Pokémon that was fast enough to keep Houndoom at pay.

    Through the battles around her, Maylene saw the woman send out a long purple Pokémon with a pattern that resembled a fact right below its face. She gave a grin, and even though Maylene knew it was a trap, she dashed forward. Crasher Wake screamed for her to stop, but it was in vain.

    She had gotten them into this mess, and the least she could do is help. Crasher Wake showed utmost confidence in Maylene, and if he was sure Sabrina was able to defeat these people, then he must have trusted her as well. Riolu and Machop, even though they were hesitant, dashed through gaps in the battle after Maylene. The purple Pokémon hissed at the approaching trio.

    ‘Why don’t we start with introductions,’ said the woman. ‘My name is Ariana, and I’ll warn you before we start: you will get thrashed! It is my job to stop you from getting into that building, and if some grunts are enough to trap Sabrina in her Gym, and those three can stop that man, then, as the best, I will certainly be able to stop the worst; you.’

  13. #103
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    Default §33: The Softer Side

    Saffron City has been plunged into darkness; Sabrina was trapped in her Gym, and Crasher Wake had his hands full with three opponents. The red-haired woman stood behind her Pokémon, giving Maylene a challenging grin. The young girl knew winning was almost impossible; both of her Pokémon were tired after spending the whole day training against each other.

    ‘Go on, then,’ said Ariana. ‘You’re the target, and it would be easy to get to you if you don’t use one of these Pokémon to defend you.’

    Riolu took a step forward, ready to defend his Trainer, but Machop jumped straight towards the Arbok. His fist collided with the tall creature, but it gave no response.

    ‘Do you honestly think that will do you any good?!’ Ariana laughed. ‘If all you have are these two Pokémon, then I’ll take care of both of them!’

    Machop jumped towards the Arbok again, but she swatted him away with ease. As the much smaller Pokémon struggled to get to his feet, Arbok dashed for Maylene. She targeted the young girl, and was flying towards her faster than the Houndoom’s attack, but once again, Riolu was ready to face his opponent.

    His palm gave an orange light, and he jumped up to face the Arbok. She hissed in pain as the attack hit her neck, and in those few seconds, Maylene could’ve sworn she saw the pattern on the Pokémon shift to form an angry face. Arbok was knocked backwards, her tail lashing out at the Riolu as she flew. It didn’t seem strong, but as soon as one of her hits connected, Riolu flew to the ground, creating a dent as his body his the concrete.

    ‘Machop, use Focus Energy!’

    As Arbok struggled to get upright, Machop managed to relax his body and focus on the target. The serpentine Pokémon hissed at him, but he only gave a grin; he had been in this situation before. Arbok made her way towards him, slowly rising up and seeming to grow in size. When she was fully uncoiled, she gave a hiss that sent shivers down Maylene’s spine.

    Riolu was struggling to get back up. A purple bruise where Arbok had hit him confused his vision, sending flashes of pain through his body. He tried to regain his footings, but the poison was slowly working his way through his body, and he couldn’t even lift his body off of the ground, stumbling with each attempt.

    Maylene was in danger, and he knew that he couldn’t help her. He looked at Machop and Arbok, who were standing against each other in a standstill, when a pair of arms wrapped around him.

    ‘You’re hurt, Riolu,’ said Maylene. ‘Don’t try to battle; you did enough.’

    He struggled at first, but his previous strength had faded away. He had spent a year training throughout Kanto, and had vowed to always protect Maylene, but if Arbok was to target her again, he would be helpless to do anything. He only hoped that Machop knew what he was doing.

    Behind her, Crasher Wake was trying as hard as he could to rush to her side, but the Houndoom, Weezing, and the Raticate were not targeting his Pokémon, but himself. Any attempt of escaping was met by a Pokémon who would block his way, and his own Pokémon who would protect him.

    ‘Strike now, Arbok!’

    The tall Pokémon let out another hiss, louder than all those that came before it, and much more vicious. She lunged forward, bearing her fangs as she approached the Machop; they were dripping with venom. He didn’t jump away, and Maylene flinched as her Pokémon let out a scream of pain.

    Arbok had closed her fangs around his arm, and she thrashed her head around, dragging the smaller Pokémon with her, and smashing him against the ground.

    ‘Let go of him,’ said Ariana. ‘We’re not killers.’

    With a grin, Arbok tossed Machop back towards Maylene. The area around his wound took on a purple shade, just like Riolu.

    ‘There’s nothing you can do,’ said Ariana. ‘Run away before your Pokémon get more hurt.’

    ‘Not w-without Crasher Wake,’ said Maylene. ‘Tell them t-to stop their attacks.’

    ‘I can’t do that. I can only promise that I won’t let anyone come after you.’

    ‘Why only me?’

    ‘Because you’re just a child,’ said Ariana, almost with sympathy. ‘Believe me when I say you were lucky that you ended up facing me; the others wouldn’t hesitate to kill you. They’re heartless as it is.’

    ‘I won’t go without Crasher Wake!’

    ‘Well, too bad,’ said Ariana. ‘It’s not your choice.’

    With a signal of Ariana’s hand, Arbok lunged towards Maylene and wrapped her long tail around her. Machop was stuck at the end of Arbok’s tail, while Riolu was unconscious. Maylene felt the Arbok about to jump away; her tail was tightening, and her body was being pulled to the ground as if she were a spring, but she gave a sudden yell of pain, and was thrust forwards.

    Maylene flew in the air as the world around her flipped. The sky became the floor, and she closed her eyes in desperation. She didn’t know where Machop was, and Riolu had fainted in her arms; she should never have taken on Ariana, especially when she knew that she was not going to win.

    Familiar grips held her; the cold hands were something that she experienced before, but she couldn’t place it, and she was too frightened to open her eyes. A few droplets of water hit her, and the realisation that she was safe dawned upon Maylene. She slowly opened her eyes; Floatzel had caught her, and his hands surrounded her entire body, protecting both her and Riolu.

    Maylene turned her attention to where she had been, taking some seconds to figure out where she was. Crasher Wake stood panting where the Arbok had grabbed her, being protected by Quagsire from the Weezing. The left side of his face was bleeding, purple ooze bubbled at the tips of the wound, Arbok was on the ground, and Weezing had a red smudge that covered a part of his face.

    He said something to Ariana, who looked panicked. She looked up again as she registered the sound of rushing water; a jet was being shot out of Floatzel’s mouth, and the Houndoom was responding with a violent stream of fire, having clearly formed some resentment for the Pokémon and abandoned his previous plans of going after Crasher Wake. Almost as if the scene was waiting for Maylene’s gaze, Floatzel’s attack overtook Houndoom’s, and the black Pokémon flew back with a howl.

    Floatzel jumped again as the Raticate’s limb body rolled towards them and crashed into the wall behind where they were. Gyarados roared as his opponent lay in a heap, like Houndoom. Floatzel stared at the taller Pokémon, but the Pokémon only responded by scoffing.

    Floatzel jumped again, and it was higher than all the times before it. He landed on the rooftop of a building, and set Maylene down before trying to jump back into the fight.

    ‘Don’t leave me here,’ said Maylene, grabbing the Pokémon. ‘You know I won’t stay still! I’ll just find the stairs and come down, and if I don’t, I will jump down! You can’t keep me out of this fight!’

    It seemed that all of Maylene’s foolish enthusiasm had returned to her. With a quick swipe, Floatzel snatched Riolu from the girl’s arms, and jumped to a rooftop adjacent to the one Maylene was on. He let Riolu down, and jumped back into the battle.

    If Maylene could see Floatzel’s face, she was sure he’d be laughing mischievously to himself; he knew that she would never leave Riolu, even if he were unconscious. She jumped to the rooftop next to her, towards Riolu, and she ran before she leaped again. In the few seconds, Floatzel must have considered the best and safest option for Maylene; all the rooftops she jumped towards were lower than the one before them, and the gap between each two was small, if nonexistent. Riolu was lying on the lowest of them, and the buildings after him were high enough to give Maylene difficulty.

    As soon as she reached her Pokémon, she considered jumping down, but the ground was still far away, and the drop was intimidating. She wanted to get back to the battlefield, and she didn’t care if she couldn’t battle nor help; Machop was still there, probably amongst all the attacks, and he was too weak to run from anything. She quickly searched the battling Pokémon; they were far, but Machop’s silhouette was not amongst them.

    Grabbing Riolu between her arms, Maylene smashed into the door that led to the staircase, and she was knocked back. It was locked, and probably barricaded as well, as it didn’t budge at all. There was no fire staircase to be found; she had to jump down, or slide down. Just as she was approaching the edge of the building, the door flung open, and an elderly woman crawled into view.

    Her cane was shaking, and the woman was panting. But her hair was strangely organised and tied to a bun. Her eyes were only marginally open, and she was wearing a very messy kimono. She was much shorter than Maylene.

    ‘Little girl,’ the lady said. ‘Come here! Hurry!’

    Maylene rushed into the building as the woman shut the door behind them.

    ‘What were you doing? I saw you jumping from rooftop to rooftop. I was walking back to my apartment, and it was just luck that you ended up on my building. Oh, your Pokémon is hurt; that bruise looks like it still pains him. Bring him to my apartment, and I’ll patch him up.’

    ‘No, really, it’s fine,’ said Maylene. ‘I have to go find my other Pokémon. Did you see a Machop by any chance?’

    ‘I’ve seen plenty of Machop in my day, but none in this mess,’ the woman said. ‘I kept my head down and ran, and you’re not going back out there.’

    She wrapped very frail fingers around Maylene’s arm as she rested on each step for a second.

    ‘I really have to go,’ said Maylene; she wanted to just run away, but she suspected that doing so would pull the old woman down. ‘Please, just let me go.’

    ‘That’s not going to happen,’ the woman said. ‘Those blasted Team Rocket; thieves and murderers! You’re not going out there until it has all settled down. Where is that girl Sabrina when we need her? Terrorising our town when nothing is happening, but as soon as Team Rocket shows up, she disappears.’

    ‘What do you mean?’

    ‘Oh, Sabrina is a psychic,’ said the woman. ‘That’s how the rumour goes at least. They’re dangerous folk, these people, almost as dangerous as the buffoons out there.’

    ‘I met Sabrina, and she seemed nice,’ said Maylene; the pair had finally reached the platform at the end of what was marked as the 6th floor. It was going to be a long way down. ‘And now she’s trapped in her Gym by those people.’

    ‘No matter,’ the woman said. ‘You’re going to stay in my apartment, as I said, and not leave until this whole ordeal blows over. It’s a dangerous affair for a young girl like you out there.’

    ‘No, it’s not,’ said Maylene. ‘I was just out there!’

    ‘And your Pokémon is obviously not unharmed,’ said the woman. ‘And you ended up on a rooftop, and now you’re searching for a Pokémon of yours; it’s obviously not safe for you, either.’

    ‘But I can handle myself,’ said Maylene. ‘I have friends out there.’

    ‘That big guy in blue, you mean? He’s barely keeping it together!’

    ‘You saw Crasher Wake?!’

    ‘I was keeping my head down, but he’s hard to miss, even in a night as dark as this one.’

    ‘How is he only barely keeping it together?!’

    ‘Oh, you don’t fret your mind with that,’ the woman said. ‘Whatever he is doing, you won’t go out to help him. Over my dead body.’

    ‘No, please, I have to,’ said Maylene. ‘I don’t want to lose him. Please. I saw him bleeding, and I don’t want to leave him alone.’

    ‘What’s a small girl like you doing with such a big guy anyway? He doesn’t look safe to befriend.’

    ‘No, you don’t understand, he’s like a father to me,’ said Maylene. ‘I can’t leave him. Just let go of me.’

    ‘I’m not doing that,’ said the woman, stopping on a step halfway to the 5th floor. ‘I’ll stay here all night if I have to. If you run, I will fall and die. And if he’s only like a father to you, then that means he’s not your father.’

    Maylene pulled her hand away, and the woman lost her balance. She quickly pushed her back to her place with her free arm, and ran down. The old woman shouted after her, but Maylene was sure the lady would be safe; she still had her cane, and the railings were right next to her. And if she ran all the way up, then she can slowly go down to her apartment.

    The door came into view, and the darkness outside was much more welcoming to Maylene than the safe, warm walls. She threw her body at the door, and once again, she was knocked back.

    ‘Stupid doors!’

    ‘Turn the handle!’ the old lady shouted from some floor above her. ‘I heard the crash all the way up here! I want your safety, young girl, but I want the door to keep everyone inside safe as well! And if you can run that fast, then you can outrun the people outside!’

    ‘Thanks!’

    Riolu had stirred in Maylene’s arms. She looked down to see his open eyes; the bruise above them had slightly faded.

    ‘Are you okay, Riolu?’

    The Pokémon gave a nod. Maylene lifted her body up, and turned the handle. The door was easily opened, and the cold air of the night outside attacked Maylene. She was from Sinnoh, and used to such weather, but after the comfort of the apartment building, it seemed harsh. Riolu shivered as well, but he jumped down from Maylene’s arms, and ran outside, prompting Maylene to follow him.

    They were too far from the battle. Floatzel must have known that by trying to get to Riolu, Maylene would put a lot of distance between herself and the battle. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop was easier than running through a level street. Ariana’s back was towards Maylene, and Crasher Wake must have been somewhere amongst the Pokémon.

    Maylene started crying. The idea of losing him had never crossed her mind, but seeing him bleed, as well as poison covering part of his face, planted the seed in her mind, and the old woman triggered it. She almost wanted to go back and rush into the building, ignoring whatever misfortune was happening outside, and to pretend it wasn’t happening.

    Riolu was running with a limb, and Maylene had overtaken him, but her mind was full only of thoughts of Crasher Wake and Machop. She only hoped that the unwavering strength Floatzel had shown wasn’t just to comfort her, and had remained with all of Crasher Wake’s Pokémon.

    Her bare feet were hitting the cold concrete harder than ever, aching her with every step. The pain shot through her entire body, and Maylene almost tripped more than once. She wanted to trip and to stay on the ground, she wanted anything to stop her, because if Crasher Wake was not standing when she reached him, then she’ll cease to stand as well.

  14. #104
    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default §34: The Night Sun

    Maylene was sitting cross-legged on the floor, holding a towel and rubbing out any smudges she could spot on the egg. It had only been a few days since Crasher Wake gave her the egg, but she was sure that it would hatch soon. Whatever Pokémon was inside, it was going to be Maylene’s first Pokémon.

    ‘Come on, hatch!’

    Maylene started swinging the egg around; maybe it’ll hatch then. Her mother was sitting on one of the dining room chairs, and papers filled the space in front of her. It was probably some grownup thing that Maylene couldn’t care for; all she wanted was for the egg to hatch. She started shaking it; maybe that will wake the Pokémon up.

    ‘Stop that, Maylene,’ said her mother. ‘It can’t be safe for the baby.’

    ‘Fine,’ said Maylene, putting the egg back on the floor. ‘I just wish it would hatch sooner, you know?’

    ‘It’s been four days,’ said her mother. ‘Why don’t you walk with it? Pokémon hatch faster when you walk with them.’

    ‘Maybe I’ll go to the big man who gave me the egg,’ said Maylene. ‘Pastoria City isn’t far, right?’

    ‘You’re not allowed to leave Veilstone City,’ said her mother. ‘At least, not alone.’

    ‘Then come with me!’ said Maylene. ‘You look like you need fresh air.’

    With a slight chuckle, Maylene’s mother gave a nod of agreement and waltzed back to her room to get ready, humming to herself as she did so. Maylene kept on observing the egg. She considered tossing it into the air; maybe it’ll fall back in the form of a Pokémon.

    Her mother emerged from her room, wearing a white sundress. She put her sun hat on as she walked to the door.

    ‘Come on, Maylene,’ she said. ‘We want to get there before it’s dark. No, no, wait. Where are your shoes?’

    ‘I keep forgetting,’ said Maylene. ‘And I don’t really need them, anyway.’

    ‘I’m sure you can walk just fine without any shoes, but we wear them because we don’t want our feet to get dirty.’

    ‘Dad doesn’t care,’ grumbled Maylene, reluctantly putting on her sandals. ‘Dad would let me go out without these.’

    ‘Well, I’m not dad,’ said her mother. ‘You know what would be a good idea?’

    ‘What?’

    ‘If you take the egg with you.’

    ‘I forgot!’ Maylene rushed back to the egg, which had been lying motionless on the floor. She grabbed it between her arms, and dashed through the door.

    Her mother was following closely behind, and it seemed that she could never walk fast enough. She would stop to smell flowers, or say hello to people that she knew, and all Maylene wanted to do was rush to her destination. The sandals felt restrictive, like each of her feet was being squeezed into itself.

    Maylene wanted to fling them off, and run towards Pastoria City, but with her mother’s slow, pandering walk, they only got to Pastoria after a little more than fifteen minutes. It was not her first time in Pastoria City, but Maylene was still amused by all the Croagunk adoration; from kids walking with little plush toys of the Pokémon to graffiti of it. What if her egg hatched into a Croagunk?

    But regardless of all the distractions, Maylene ran to the Gym and smashed herself against the doors. She heard her mother gasp in awe when she reached her; the Gym was a large pool, with some platforms and wooden planks dotting the clear blue waters.

    Maylene took off her shoes, as politely as she could, and started running. She jumped over the water and landed on the platform on the other side, almost stumbling into the pool. She was never fond of water, as it mostly hindered her sight. Maylene didn’t need to see her mother to know that she was shaking her head at her daughter’s actions. Maylene jumped to another platform; it was bigger than the one before it, and she continued her run to jump onto yet another platform.

    It was then that she heard the loudest laugh. It was as if the walls exploded and filled the Gym with more water; the man had his arms crossed in front of him, and he was laughing joyfully. He pressed an orange switch on the wall behind him, and the water started draining.

    ‘Do you like it?’ Crasher Wake shouted.

    ‘I don’t like water…’ Maylene said, unnecessarily jumping towards the last platform.

    ‘What brings you here?’ Crasher Wake said with a loud voice. ‘Is it the egg?’

    ‘Yeah,’ said Maylene. ‘It’s not hatching fast enough!’

    To her side, Maylene saw her mother walking on a single long platform; it must have been a simpler way around.

    ‘I don’t have any experience with Eggs!’ Crasher Wake laughed. ‘I caught all my Pokémon without hatching them! But I will try to help you!’

    ‘Maylene insisted on seeing you,’ Maylene’s mother said. ‘You must be Crasher Wake.’

    ‘And you must be Averell!’ said Crasher Wake. ‘Maylene told me about you in that party, and she only had nice things to say!’

    ‘It’s a wonderful Gym, by the way,’ said Averell. ‘Love this design. I used to be on the swimming team, so pools are a soft spot for me.’

    ‘You’re welcome to come to the Gym anytime,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘And you can bring Maylene, if you want. I understand she wants to be a Gym Leader?’

    ‘Yes!’ Maylene said. ‘The Strongest!’

    ‘Well, to start with, we better hatch that egg!’ Crasher Wake let out yet another one of his loud laughs. ‘Let’s start by going back to Veilstone; I think eggs need warmth, and there’s only damp in here!’

    Without a warning, Crasher Wake heaved the two girls onto his shoulders. Maylene squealed with delight, and Averell in fear. He jumped down entire flights of stairs before zooming out of the open doors. Maylene started laughing as her surroundings shifted and changed at such a rapid pace for the first time.

    *


    She was still running through the streets of Saffron when the sounds of battle reached her. She could make out Floatzel and his attacks, even though her eyes were closed; he must’ve been battling at least two Pokémon.

    Riolu was still running by her side, but the pain coursing through his body seemed to intensify with every second, and every step. He started falling behind, helpless to do anything but watch as Maylene became a silhouette and disappeared into the darkness. He tried to run faster, to keep the vow of always protecting Maylene, but his body gave in to his wounds, and he stumbled to the ground.

    Maylene opened her eyes to the sight in front of her; Crasher Wake’s Gyarados and Quagsire were unconscious on the floor, and her Machop was barely standing as Floatzel was battling the Arbok and the Weezing.

    ‘Riolu! We have to help!’

    Normally, there would be some sort of response from the Pokémon, but there was just silence next to Maylene. She halted herself between the battle and the darkness.

    ‘Riolu!’ Maylene shouted. ‘Are you behind me?!’

    Once again, there was silence. Maylene didn’t want to choose between Crasher Wake and Riolu; she was already on the verge of breaking down, and that decision could be the one to push her. Her voice quivered as she called for Riolu again, fearing the worst once more.

    It was then that his outline emerged from the darkness; his walk was sluggish, and he was holding his head in pain. Maylene walked over to the Pokémon just in time to catch him from his fall. She had hoped to battle with Riolu, to help Crasher Wake in any way she could, but it seemed impossible after seeing how badly injured Riolu was.

    ‘I don’t get it,’ said Maylene. ‘You should have recovered by now. What’s wrong?’

    Riolu knew exactly what was wrong. A little more than a year ago, he had sworn to never use his Aura powers, so long as Maylene is unable to use them. His powers had quickened his recovery in the past, but since locking them away, he needed all the help he could get to heal his injuries, especially since he was inexperienced.

    ‘Riolu,’ said Maylene. ‘Please be okay.’

    He could just draw these powers; open the gates and flood his body with the Aura that would give him the strength to stand up. He didn’t want to watch Maylene be sad or concerned, but he didn’t want another rift between them. He didn’t want those powers if Maylene couldn’t use them. He didn’t want the powers.

    ‘You’re not even moving,’ Maylene started crying. ‘Please, Riolu. I shouldn’t have made you run. Please, don’t die. Please. I don’t know what I’ll do without you. I love you, Riolu, please.’

    It felt like silence. The sounds of battle were still behind Maylene, but Riolu’s lack of sounds was unbearable. It was Maylene’s worst nightmare. Riolu’s chest was rising and falling with unsteady breaths, but no sound came from him. The clouds shifted in the sky and covered the faint moon. It was the darkest night, and Maylene could barely make out Riolu’s outline.

    There was something different about him. His ears were longer, and his snout was more defined. With her hold over him, Maylene could feel the bumps on the back of his hand turning into spikes. He got heavier, and his body got longer.

    His hand reached up to touch Maylene’s face; it was different, yet familiar. The clouds slowly revealed the moon, and he became clear to Maylene.

    The Riolu she once knew had become something else. He looked at her with determined eyes, and all Maylene could do was stare back in awe. He lifted his body off of Maylene’s lap, and stared back at his Trainer.

    ‘Riolu, you…’ Maylene started. ‘You… You evolved… You look amazing.’

    The Pokémon grinned as Maylene slowly shifted from sadness to excitement. Her smile spread across her face, and she threw her body onto her Pokémon, taking him in an embrace.

    ‘You evolved!’ Maylene shouted. ‘I can’t believe this! You’re a Lucario!’

    Lucario gave another grin. He wrapped his arms around Maylene and flung her onto his shoulder. He vowed to protect her, and that is exactly what he’ll do. Crasher Wake meant a lot to her, and he would never forgive himself if anything happened to him.

    Lucario started running towards the battle, Maylene still on his shoulder. Floatzel was clear and protecting Machop, who desperately wanted to fight, but froze when he spotted the approaching Lucario. His eyes widened as he immediately recognised Riolu.

    Maylene saw Crasher Wake picking up his Quagsire, and taking him back towards Gyarados; he was unaware of anything that was happening, but he was safe, and that was all Maylene could care about.

    Arbok hissed as she saw Lucario, and lunged towards the new opponent. Her fangs were dripping with purple liquid; it seemed that the poison was rushing from her. She was furious, and the pattern was clearly shifting and glaring at the Lucario. The Aura Pokémon stepped out of the way; he was bigger than Riolu, but much more agile.

    Arbok crashed into the ground, screaming as she did so. Her body whipped around to face the Lucario, eyes unfocused, and rage coursing her body. She lashed towards her opponent again, but with a swift move, Lucario ducked and put his palm against the changing pattern, and with a quick punch, fired Arbok into the night sky. He leaped after her, and Maylene clung to her Pokémon’s neck in fear of slipping off.

    ‘I remember now,’ said Maylene. ‘Lucario, use Close Combat!’

    Balling his hands into fists, Lucario waited until her was level with Arbok. She was falling, and he was rising, but only a split second was enough. His hits landed on the Arbok without fail, and she fell motionless to the ground.

    ‘You’re great, Lucario,’ said Maylene as the pair started descending. ‘I didn’t think you could get any better, but you proved me wrong. You were perfect as Riolu, and you’re ever more perfect now!’

    The pair hit the ground next to Arbok; she was unconscious, and Ariana was staring in disbelief. Her face quickly turned from confusion to anger as she shouted for a retreat; it was bad enough with just Floatzel, but now that a new Pokémon joined the battle, there was no hope for winning.

    ‘MAYLENE!’

    Crasher Wake rushed to the little girl, picking her up and pulling her in a tight hug. An onslaught of Team Rocket members flooded out of the building, pulling Ariana and the others into the commotion as all the opposing Pokémon were retreated into their Poké Balls. Floatzel and Lucario rushed to the crowd to round as many of them as they could, but Crasher Wake refused to let go of Maylene.

    ‘I was worried!’ Crasher Wake shouted. ‘I didn’t know where you went!’

    ‘I’m fine,’ said Maylene. ‘But I was worried about you too.’

    ‘There’s no reason to worry about me!’ Crasher Wake said. ‘I’m a rock!’

    *


    ‘There! It’s hatching!’

    Maylene picked up the egg and held it close as whatever Pokémon inside was squirming around, and the shell was slowly being broken. She was sitting on the floor of her father’s Gym, and Crasher Wake was opposite her.

    The crack in the egg started widening, and small parts of the shell fell onto the wood. In quick seconds that seemed to have lasted forever, the egg fell apart to reveal a small, blue Pokémon.

    ‘It’s a Riolu,’ said Crasher Wake in a surprisingly hushed voice. ‘Congratulations.’

    ‘Welcome to the world, Riolu!’ Maylene said. ‘We’ll both get Strongest!’

  15. #105
    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default §35: Here’s To You

    A tired sun was rising as the people of Saffron regained their will to fight. Whatever had happened left most of Team Rocket crippled; Sabrina had managed to singlehandedly defeat and apprehend all those who tried to stop and keep her at her Gym, while Maylene and Crasher Wake managed to slow Ariana and the other three men enough for whatever happened inside the Silph building to happen.

    There were rumours about what happened there. Some say a boy had taken them on, and some say it was two boys. Maylene heard a man who was inside Silph say that it might have been a girl, but he was busy cowering and hiding in a corner to really see. Personally, Maylene was fond of the rarely repeated story of a girl and a boy storming the building and taking control back from Team Rocket. She couldn’t help but imagine Gardenia as the girl of the story; she would never have stayed still with such injustice going on.

    But regardless, that night was over, and all that was left of it were the memories that would be exchanged, and flourish into grandiose rumours. Maylene was being attended to by Crasher Wake, who was carefully and slowly wrapping her feet in bandages; it wasn’t wise to run on the roofs and streets of Saffron City barefoot.

    ‘How can it be possible for a Riolu to evolve during the night,’ said Crasher Wake, examining Lucario. ‘I’m pretty sure they only evolve during the day.’

    ‘I don’t know how it happened.’

    ‘Are you sure you didn’t lose Riolu during the commotion?’

    ‘Yes, he evolved in my hand.’

    ‘I wish we could speak to Pokémon and get the full story…’

    But in reality, even Lucario didn’t know how it happened. His species evolve during the day; why was he different? Of course he wanted to be special, to stand out amongst every Lucario, but now what he wanted was an explanation. Crasher Wake and Maylene seemed to be happy just speculating nonsense, and Lucario was sure the reason for his abnormal evolution couldn’t be given by them, at least, not at that time.

    From the horizon, a horde of police officers and security members were marching towards them with the grunts of Team Rocket, some whimpering in fear, some looking proud and sneering at civilians, and some were shouting and screaming about the greatness of Team Rocket, or cries announcing their surrender.

    But the most notable were those carried by the paramedics; it was like they were made of stone. All of them lay motionless on the stretcher in various poses of cowardice. One of them was covering his face as though a blinding light was hitting him; another had tears streaming down his cheeks, as frozen as he was; and a woman appeared to be scratching blood out of her face when she became motionless.

    Behind them was Sabrina, who was clean of scratches and dirt, but her clothes were torn and frayed. As the group marched past Maylene, she noted that kind Gym Leader had a stoic air about her, and she passed the group without a glance at them. Maylene was tempted to call out to her and draw her attention, but Crasher Wake seemed to have registered that intent, and quickly signaled disapproval to her.

    ‘She can be like that,’ said Crasher Wake, after Sabrina was out of earshot. ‘And usually, that side of her is all that people see when they look at her.’

    ‘But she was so nice yesterday.’

    ‘She’ll be nice again; just give her some time alone.’

    ‘Did she do that to all those Rocket people? The ones on stretchers?’

    ‘Probably, but that’s their fault for attacking her.’

    ‘Will they ever be fine?’

    ‘I don’t know,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘But that doesn’t matter now. It’s time to go to back to Sinnoh.’

    Maylene nodded her head silently. Machop had been strangely still during the entire conversation when he was always the loudest and most active of her Pokémon. He sat against a building some metres away from the group, seemingly deep in thoughts.

    ‘I think we should look at it from his point of view,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘You defiantly didn’t intend it, but he could have saw that you abandoned him, came back with Lucario, and gawped at your newly-evolved Pokémon. Combined with the fact that he was easily defeated in a battle, and the fact that he’s so juvenile, he could be questioning why you’re still his trainer.’

    ‘But I didn’t mean that,’ said Maylene. ‘I didn’t do all of that on purpose.’

    ‘I know you didn’t; I know you, but Machop might not be familiar with that.’

    ‘So I should talk to him?’

    ‘That would be for the best.’

    Maylene paused for a moment; what should she say to Machop? Her thoughts seemed too simple and short, and moreover, she didn’t know what he was upset about; she didn’t want to say something that will make him feel even more miserable. But regardless, she got up off of the pavement and started walking towards him, slightly limping as each step stung her sore feet.

    When Machop saw her, he quickly stood up and a look of determination coloured his face.

    ‘Hi, Machop,’ said Maylene, sitting down as she did so. ‘I don’t know why you’re upset, but you don’t need to be.’

    Maylene was suddenly aware of her words, and of how utterly stupid they sounded. Machop, however, elected to sit next to her, giving her his complete attention.

    ‘If I did anything that upset you, then I’m sorry,’ said Maylene. ‘And I know that you might feel bad because I’ve been…’

    What was that word Crasher Wake used?

    ‘…crazy about Lucario. I didn’t forget you, and I will not forget you, so don’t worry about that.’

    When Maylene breathed a sigh, signifying that she had nothing more to add, Machop turned away from her and scoffed, before extending his hand to her. She took it, unaware of what to do next, their fingers closed around each other and they remained still for a few moments, Machop’s head still facing away from her.

    When he had finally turned his head back, he was smiling, and Maylene was unsure if she saw the last trail of a trickling tear, but she smiled back nonetheless, and the two immediately joined in a hug.

    ‘You’re next to evolve, Machop,’ said Maylene. ‘You have my attention now!’

    Machop gave a yell of enthusiasm, and the pair got up and walked over to Crasher Wake, who looked awfully sombre. They had only been gone for a few brief moments; Maylene was not even sure a minute had passed.

    His usual wide grin was nowhere to be seen, replaced by a screwed and worried expression. He wasn’t standing straight up, and his hand was slowly caressing his forehead. Beside him, Lucario looked as confused as Maylene and Machop were. With a quick prayer that everything was fine, the young girl marched to her mentor, followed closely by Machop.

    ‘What’s wrong?’ She said, not sounding as careless and happy as she would have liked.

    ‘Oh, it’s nothing,’ said Crasher Wake before giving Maylene a long, pondering look. ‘Actually, it’s better if I tell you now.’

    ‘What’s the matter, then?’

    ‘Maylene, I just got a call from your mother,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘She just told me that Cynthia fired your dad.’

    Maylene didn’t know how to respond to that revelation, more correctly, she did not know how to address his bluntness. He should’ve flowered it for her…

    ‘And I think it’s better if you get the full story from your mum,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘I’ve already said too much.’

    ‘But that’s not fair,’ said Maylene. ‘You can’t just give me part of the story. Tell me everything. Go on.’

    ‘Maylene, I really don’t think that’s a wise-‘

    ‘Why not?’

    ‘I think you should hear it from your family.’

    ‘So you’re going to let me speculate until I see them? Tell me now or I’m not going to Sinnoh, and we know you can’t stop me.’

    ‘It’s a sensitive matter and I don’t think I should say it.’

    ‘But you’re family! You’ve done more for me than my own dad!’

    ‘Don’t say that about him,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘You know he’s done so much for you.’

    ‘Oh, really? He’s the one who tried to stop you from giving me that egg,’ said Maylene. ‘He’s the one who told me that I shouldn’t aim to be a Gym Leader because “the selection pool is limited”. He never believed I could do it.’

    ‘Maylene, it’s not like that,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘He meant the best for you.’

    ‘I may be a child, but I know when someone isn’t fair to me,’ said Maylene. ‘He wasn’t fair to me.’

    At that point, Crasher Wake didn’t respond, nor did he judge Maylene with any look or roll of the eyes. She probably didn’t even realise what she just said, and just let her heart flow out.

    ‘Ok, fine,’ said Crasher Wake. ‘Your dad was fired because he was rarely at the Gym. He just spends all his time in the Game Corner.’

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