The First Warriors: Chapter Six

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    Default The First Warriors: Chapter Six

    Welcome to my next grand adventure that is The First Warriors. This story is set in 2008 and follows the adventures of Red, Blue and Leaf going on their journey. It is a rewrite of Red vs Leaf (a series that preludes Kris vs Gold and is availabe on FanFiction.net), but contains more focus on Team Rocket and on Blue, but will contain shout outs to the original and follows the same basic outcome. This may seem like a spoiler, but the spoiler is set in stone throughout the other GalacticVerse stories: this focuses more upon the journey itself, with the crafting of champions and great relationships and the destruction of others, as well as setting the course for many other events, introducing key characters and focusing on Team Rocket. There will be coarse language and violence and it will not be a clean cut happy story all the time, with death and destruction a recurring theme, but I hope you all enjoy the ride :)



    Prologue

    June 1st 2008 – Quest Island

    It was 11:58 AM when the man entered the café.

    It was a sunny day but a bitter sea breeze stripped the day of any warmth, and the man was wearing a long black trench coat that covered his entire body to stay warm. However, a large metal heater was attached to the ceiling above the entrance, and the man instantly began to feel the bitter cold disappear as he stepped under the orange glow and into the Trainer's Café.

    The building was modern, built to accommodate the growing number of trainers coming to Quest Island for the nearby Trainer's Tower, hence the name. The walls were a simple white and decorated with sea-themed artwork, the floor was wooden and the tables were all circular with glass tops and large leather chairs set into the wall with smaller, identical wooden ones spread around the tables in the middle.

    It was the weekend and the cafe was crowded with people, from couples to groups of trainers, to lone travellers and gossiping mothers with screaming children. It was noisy and everyone focused on their meals, and the man began to relax about being here: he thought his date was out of her mind for choosing this place for their discussion, but it seemed that it would be easy to go unnoticed.

    "Hello there sir, are you here for lunch?" The man turned as a waitress came up to him. He quickly glanced her up and down: blonde, average weight, young, possible late teens or early twenties, possibly paying for a qualification. He shook his head, though the large brown hat he was wearing obscured a lot of his face, with his collar turned up to hide the rest, leading to her noticing nothing except a slight turn of his hat.

    "I am meeting a… friend, of sorts… she said she reserved a table – Charlotte?" He purred. The waitress looked confused by his choice of words but pointed towards a table near the back with only two chairs. "Thank you very much," the man said and gave the waitress a pat, slipping something into her pocket that she didn't notice. As he stalked his way towards the table, the man noticed her giving him a quizzical look. The man had been getting quizzical looks all his life and didn't care for them anymore. In a few months time, he hoped that all curious glances his way will turn into a fearful attempt to avoid his gaze, and the thought made the man smile as he sat down in the chair. He noted how it was uncomfortable as he slid it forwards, but than saw a cup and plate were already in front of him, the cup full of a light brown liquid that was steaming slightly.

    "You always seem to know," the man said with a laugh as he grabbed the cup. As he did so, he noticed but was unfazed as the world around him went completely black: it was as if sitting down had sent him into a strange place of darkness, the only light shining directly on him and his companion, who had since appeared opposite him.

    It was fairly necessary for the lights to be dimmed, the world outside most likely paused or being made to forget they were there. The man's companion was a fourteen year old girl in appearance from far away, but the closer you looked at her, the easier it was to see her chest didn't move, the fact her hair was blowing in a non existent wind, and the fact she was transparent.

    Charlotte had died 2008 years ago when she was just fourteen, and ever since then had lived as a ghost of her former self, retaining the supernatural powers she had obtained herself through a variety of means and serving a power higher than anyone around her, though the dead girl found a way to work around things. People were always summoning her when they needed her gifts, and Charlotte had known weeks ago it was only a matter of time before Giovanni of Team Rocket called upon her.

    "I have an excellent memory," Charlotte said, somehow raising her own cup of a purple coloured liquid and chinking it with Giovanni's. He had since removed both his hat and coat, revealing his head of brown hair slicked back and made to look black, his heavy olive skinned face with a thick jaw, and an immaculate black suit with matching trousers, an open white suit underneath and a red handkerchief folded neatly in the breast. But the main feature of Giovanni was his eyes: his eyes were black and small like an insect, but they way they fitted into his face made them look deadly and intimidating, as if he was staring directly into you and gathering all the information he could about you. Many people described his eyes in police interviews, saying how they found them so dark and evil that they almost felt dirty afterwards.

    "This is a nice café: do you have meetings here often?" Giovanni asked as he sipped away at his tea. "I always expected you to meet people in some lowly crypt in the middle of the nowhere."

    "Depends what I'm doing to them," Charlotte replied with a smirk, somehow managing to swallow the liquid. "And for your information, I have not had a meeting significant enough for a long time… not since the nineties, in fact."

    "I imagine you were very busy during the war," Giovanni said with a nod.

    "No thanks to you," Charlotte replied quickly, before staring down at her cup and sighing. "These years since then have been particularly dull… I have really been waiting for the next minute to tick over and this very long day can finally come to a close and I can get on with being busy."

    "You may be very busy over these next few months," Giovanni noted, not caring for the emotion or obvious sadness on the ghost's face. "I hear a storm is brewing in Hoenn, though you would have known that this was coming for a while. Tell me, has either Archie or Maxie tried to communicate with you yet? I am sure they both want your services."

    "What makes you think I haven't met with them already," Charlotte said with a smirk, and Giovanni slowly lowered his cup with a grim face: one reason why he was weary to get help from Charlotte was that she was not one to be trusted, constantly lying or withholding truth as she tried to make her endless days more interesting. She noted the look across Giovanni's face and began to laugh.

    "Let's cut the bullshit Gio," she said through her cackle. "You and your little freak show are planning something, and you're expecting me to come and join you, even though there is nothing in it for me."

    "Nothing in it for you?" Giovanni said with a raised eyebrow, and he began to laugh, though it was a deep, icy laugh that didn't show any joy. "Charlotte, if you join Team Rocket, you will get the chance to fully unleash your powers and to use them for the evil purposes you gained them for, and you will finally be on a winning side."

    "I've been on plenty of winning sides before, and most of them win because they get my backing," Charlotte retorted, sipping her tea.

    "Is it really your backing, or whoever Arceus tells you to back?" Giovanni snapped angrily, and Charlotte glared back at him as she lowered her cup. "You may act like your some grand princess who controls every living person on the planet, but all you truly are a little servant bitch who does whatever she is told and –," but Giovanni froze as he suddenly felt warm, and looked down to see his chair had burst into flames.

    "Continue insulting me, please, see where it gets you," Charlotte replied with a sarcastic smile as Giovanni leapt up, his coat getting swallowed up in the flames. He turned angrily back around and raised a finger, but gasped as it was bent back. Charlotte simply blinked as invisible hands forced Giovanni back into his seat, the flames still dancing, but once his chair had been pushed back in a serious look came across Charlotte's face. "I am not going to back you because I don't want to get in bed with either side in this war. I do want some action and I expect there to be some popcorn worthy entertainment, but I am just going to sit back and do whatever the fuck I like this time round, alright?" Giovanni nodded, furious that this meeting wasn't going to plan, but he did have one more trick up his sleeve, and his grimace turned to a smile as the fire faded away and Charlotte went back to sipping at her tea.

    "I am looking into where that lovely little book of yours has ended up," Giovanni said with an air of confidence. "I believe it has ended up in Pewter Museum, yes?"

    "Believe what you want, I'm not telling you anything about my spell book," Charlotte replied sweetly, disappointing Giovanni who had been expecting a bigger reaction.

    "Why have you hidden it in such an obvious place?" He continued, trying his best to break her. "Surely people have tried to steal it and someone will eventual steal it – I heard stories that it use to be locked away properly many years ago."

    "It was in the Mirage Tower in Hoenn, but some little black girl managed to take it out by accident, as the tower's magic allows," Charlotte explained. "Arceus knew I allowed a loop hole for the book to be taken, so he has had it kept in plain sight, thinking it will be safer."

    "Our lord really isn't that smart, is he?" Giovanni said with a smile, though Charlotte remained silent. "I have yet another question: does he ever let you see Giratina?" Sadistic delight shone in Giovanni's eyes as Charlotte's cup clattered to the plate, a harrowing look rising in her eyes: he had finally done it.

    "I'd rather not answer," Charlotte whispered, waving her hand and allowing her tea to go back into its cup. Giovanni was getting very delighted, her decision not to answer giving him more than he needed.

    "Why don't you join us then Charlotte," he whispered, leaning across the table and staring into her face, which currently made her look a lot younger than 14. "Once I have the spells and the Pokemon I need, I can overthrow Arceus, and your love will be set free once more… you two can rule any region you want as King and Queen." Charlotte clutched at the table, tension showing in her hands despite their transparency, and Giovanni grinned. "Or, alternatively, I can do the exact opposite: put the Lord of Death into a spell of eternal torture, and trap you there to watch alongside." Charlotte glanced up with a shocked expression, and Giovanni smiled as he sunk back into his chair, rising his cup up for another drink. But just as he pursed his lips and tilted the china, Giovanni yelled as the liquid suddenly flung out, sticking to his face. He squirmed and struggled, trying to pull the now rubber like substance from his face as he struggled to breathe. Things began shaking, and Giovanni began to hear screaming, which he joined in with as the tea turned back to liquid and poured down his face. By the time he had wiped his face clean with his handkerchief, Giovanni found that the darkness had disappeared, replaced with the café which was shaking as violently as if struck by an earthquake, and he turned to find Charlotte floating right in front of her, looking like she was about to eat him.

    "Now you listen hear you pathetic little fucker," she hissed as glass windows began to shatter in the café, "if you ever threaten me or Giratina again, I will make you sorry, spell book or no spell book. I will hunt you down and tie you up and make YOU watch as I tear every organ from the bodies of the two people you love, and than I will shove them down your throat before I tear your brain out and cast you down to the lowliest depths of the Distortion World." Around them glasses, plates, vases and cups all began to shatter, and people scrambling for the doors found themselves falling over from the shaking, joined by tables and bottles from behind the counter.

    "The only reason I am going to let you leave this café alive is because I have lived a boring life these past few years and another war is just what I need to get me going," Charlotte hissed, her ghost hands seeming solid as she grabbed Giovanni by the shoulders. "Now you go and put on one fucking good show, or I will grab your dick and stretch it out so long that I can use it as a skipping rope." Giovanni nodded weakly, his confidence faltering under the furious actions of the ghost. Charlotte gave a little smile and clicked the fingers on her right hand.

    At once, the four main walls and the roof of the café exploded. Everyone screamed as plaster, wood and wires disintegrated, the world opening up to the elements. Giovanni looked around and saw no one seemed to see them, and watched as the blonde waitress slipped over behind the counter, the coffee machine following after only moments later. Charlotte lifted Giovanni up by his shoulders and turned around so she was facing where the wall had been a moment before, and all was left was rubble strewn across the grass and a nearby house.

    "Fuck ya later Giovanni, though I imagine it'll be sooner rather than later," the ghost said, back to her normal grin. Giovanni yelled as she spun back and threw him, sending him flying through the air. His journey was short though, his back smashing into the nearby house with his head following soon after. Giovanni groaned as he slid down the wall, watching as people fled from the café as what remained of the roof and walls began to collapse.

    Giovanni wasn't seriously hurt but was extremely frustrated: meeting Charlotte had been a long shot, but he hadn't quite expected it to end like this. His plans were thrown out of proportion now, and Giovanni knew that he was going to look foolish if Charlotte told any of his enemies what had just happened. Getting back to his feet, Giovanni turned and began walking down the road, through the crowd of people running and gathering to see what was happening, heading back to the private boat waiting at the nearby dock. As he walked, Giovanni pulled two things that he had kept in his suit trousers rather than his coat, though could feel the bitter wind more now without his protection: one was a cheap mobile phone and the other a basic remote control.

    "Archer, I want someone out on Route 1 or in Pallet Town watching what is going on," Giovanni mumbled into his phone, keeping his head down and his voice quiet as he pressed the button. The tiny explosive he had slipped into the waitresses apron, which he had put in case Charlotte did something wrong, exploded behind him, sending a fist of orange flames into the air and sending the crowd into a screaming frenzy as they fled from the site, pieces of the café being blown into the air.

    "What do you mean 'what are they meant to do'?" Giovanni snarled, ignoring people pushing past him. "They need to be on the lookout: if Oak and any of the Council members are going to fear us, I want a bullet through those three kids heads as soon as they have a PokeDex in their hands," and with that, Giovanni snapped his phone shut and dropped it to the ground, allowing the crowd to crush it and eliminate evidence it belonged to him, and also threw the remote control away. The head of Team Rocket was not pleased with how the day's events had gone, but Giovanni had been planning this particular main plan for over ten years, and nothing was going to stop him.

    Within weeks, Giovanni hoped to have the world in the palm of his hands, and the thought of his impeding victory managed to bring a sense of happiness into every inch of his face, even into his eyes.

    ^^^^ The GalacticVerse Bibliography (Thanks to Blazaking for Banner) ^^^^

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    Default Re: The First Warriors

    I completely forgot to post the first proper chapter to this! :P I keep forgetting to update my Bulbagarden pages as I focus on my FF.net more, but here is the first real chapter! If you wish to be followed than let me know so I can update ya.


    The First of Many

    June 7th

    The sun wasn't even over the treetops that surrounded Pallet Town yet, but Professor Samuel Oak was already awake.

    He stared at the sky as an orange glow erupted from the trees, looking much like a fire had started within the forest, and sighed as he realized how long he had been awake. The sun had been setting when he had started organizing things, and he wouldn't be able to sleep for a longer time. In his younger days this wouldn't be a problem, but Oak was on the wrong side of sixty and losing a night's sleep was not going to do wonders for him.

    But putting this aside, the white haired man turned back to his lab. It was usually brimming with his assistants and interns, running tests and trials for the various theories they were examining and attempting to prove, disprove or simply learn more about. But at this time of day, the Professor was the only one here and it was eerily quiet as he walked past the counter tops and tables loaded with computers, various machines, test tubes, trays of equipment, files and rows of PokeBalls. Things were kept organised and clean usually, but Oak had been searching for certain documents, leaving papers spread out along the tops and even knocking some onto the tiled floor. But these were things for Oak to worry about later, and he casually stepped over a pile and moved towards a door at the back of the room.

    The Professor was getting more worried with each step, and as he entered the dark back corridor, leading to an office, storage rooms, various testing rooms and a staff room, he wondered if he was doing the right thing. The stories of gang violence in Hoenn were reaching them, but Oak was more worried about a great threat that he had suspected to emerge years ago. Only now were things beginning to look bleak, right at the time he was about to send a new group of Dex Holders out into the world.

    Could they be connected? Oak asked himself for possibly the hundredth time, staring down at the files in his hands as he reached the plain door leading into his office. It was the only room he had the lights on in due to a lack of windows, highlighting the reasonably bland room: yellow walls, two overloaded bookshelves, a cabinet with knick knacks and photos on top, and a desk overflowing with paper. A computer considered ancient by modern standards was turned on, and Oak looked to see he had not received any email messages.

    "Bastard," Oak cursed, having expected a reply from a colleague offering feedback: his own views were currently clouded with worry for his two grandchildren and their childhood friend, and couldn't help but wonder if he was overreacting. But with no one to offer a second opinion, Oak had to make his own mind up. He glanced down at the files in his hand: in one hand he held three registration forms, in the other he had three files, each one with a name on it. Oak felt even more torn as he read the names: Edward Lowley, Blue Oak and Leaf Oak. The professor had no idea what to do, but as he continued to think he heard a slight laugh and turned around in fright.

    "I understand your old, but do you have to take so long?" Charlotte said as she nestled down on the cabinet, one of the doors open and a small glass of scotch in her hands. Oak was startled and the papers fell from his hand. Charlotte waved her hand and they came to a stop: the three forms rose back up to the professor, but the ghost wiggled her fingers and the folders came towards her.

    "What are you doing here?" Oak asked, clutching his chest as he looked down at the forms again. Charlotte merely shrugged in response as she flicked the folders open, an unknown wind blowing through them.

    "Can't a girl just pop by for a chat and a drink?" Charlotte asked, grinning devilishly and raising her glass up. But Oak merely gave her an angry look and Charlotte rolled her eyes, getting up and floating forwards with the folders. "I've come to check up on you and to make sure you send those forms."

    "Are these Arceus' orders?" Oak asked, but Charlotte deflected the question.

    "Those children are going to get there PokeDexes today and they are going on their journey," Charlotte said. "You obviously know your going to end up sending them in; otherwise you wouldn't have brought these out." Oak knew the ghost had a point and merely nodded, looking towards the fax machine he had started up. "Good smartypants," Charlotte said, smiling and passing the scotch over.

    "What about Team Rocket?" Oak asked as he took the drink, and Charlotte merely shrugged as she pushed him towards the fax.

    "We'll just have to wait and see, won't we?" She whispered back, grabbing Oak's hand and urging it towards the buttons. "But who else has a chance of stopping them? Bill? Fuji? You? Don't make me laugh. If any of tried to go after them now we'd have a few broken hips and Giovanni getting his way. The youth are the only hope you have of stopping them, so you have to give them the chance: they'll either win or die, but at least we'll know." Oak nodded, knowing that Charlotte was giving him the second opinion he wanted, and though it wasn't exactly what he wanted to hear, he knew she had a point. He placed the first form in, and it began to get sucked inside the machine, making him wonder if he had just wasted a night worrying about something that he could have answered in a few minutes.

    "Excellent," Charlotte said and floated backwards. The files in her hands erupted in purple flames that startled Oak, but Charlotte merely dropped them onto the tiles. "Until next time you lovely professorness, fuck ya later." Her high pitched laughter echoed around even after she exploded in a cloud of dust. As the second form went through the fax, Oak stared down at the folders smouldering on the floor and downed the scotch: every piece of information on Red, Blue and Leaf was going up in flames before him, and it tore at his heart to know one of his assistants would have to wipe them from every other system asides from the Indigo Pokemon League database. It was painful to know their lives would disappear like this, but Oak knew it had to be done.

    They were their only chance at survival.



    As soon as Red's alarm went off three hours later, his eyes opened wide and he practically leapt out of bed, knowing what today was.

    He was born Edward Lowley, but the fourteen year old went by the nickname he had earned after turning up to school on his first day wearing all Red. The name had stuck and it was all that Red went.

    Looking around his room, you may have thought his nickname had spilled onto his decorating: as Red began changing, he glanced around at the various Pokemon posters he had around his room, completely covering the white behind. A lot of them contained PokeBalls and were simply posters advertising league registrations, but there were giant posters of Charizard, Red's favourite Pokemon. The Fire-Flying type had always captivated his imagination, and the orange beast covered a large majority of the posters, sometimes in photos, sometimes artwork, sometimes flying and sometimes unleashing a furious fiery attack. Red had always fantasized about getting a Charmander and leaving on a journey around Kanto, but today the fantasy was going to become a reality.

    I can't believe it is here, Red thought, staring around his room for what would be one of his last times. He had building up to leaving on this journey for months, and was so excited that finally he would be leaving Pallet Town: Red had never ventured further than Route 1, and for as long as he could remember he'd been planning to some day set out and discover the world beyond.

    A few minutes later he raced down the stairs, dressed in blue jeans, a red and white jacket over a plain black T-shirt. Red was feeling more and more excited as time moved along, and he glanced around the large space he had known for his whole life: the entire bottom floor was open, with the dining room, living room and kitchen blending into one another. It was outdated, having not been updated in many years, and was considerably bare. The dining area was simply a wooden table and several chairs, the living room had a faded green couch and blue sofa facing a television that Red was certain had been brought before he was born. It was fairly depressing and Red had always been embarrassed to bring friends over. Even though he was going to be sleeping in tents, Red was simply glad that he would be leaving.

    "Mum?" Red called as he moved towards the kitchen, which was bare and white with peach coloured tiles and more outdated and broken equipment. His yellow bag and red cap, official league merchandise with a black and white PokeBall on them respectively, were resting on the counter and he picked them up and put them on whilst searching for something to eat. "Mum, what's for breakfast?" There was no reply, and Red rolled his eyes and put two slices of bread in the toaster. He tapped his feet impatiently, wanting to get over to Professor Oak's lab bright and early. As soon as the metal box pinged and the toast shot up, Red quickly grabbed them and began to smother the pieces in jam, not noticing as his mother came down the stairs behind him.

    "Oh, are you leaving already?" A tired, slightly croaky voice said. Red turned around with a large chunk of toast in his mouth, eager to finish his meal and leave. Maria Lowley had once been a beautiful young woman with a whole face, long brunette hair and a smart fashion sense that had seen her be personal assistant to many high up people in her young days. However, age and losing her husband Jonathon when Red was very young had not done her good: despite only being in her early forties, Maria's hair had turned black and grey, she had sunken black bags under her eyes and didn't bother much with anti wrinkle cream, leading to a heavily lined face that made her look older than she was. She worked as a receptionist at a local law firm and only then did she put on nice clothing and worry about make up, but spent most of the time around the house in her thin dressing gown and watching TV.

    "Once I've eaten yes," Red replied. He had always felt bad for his mother, who drunk more than she should and smoked during her breaks at the law firm, but over the years they had grown apart. Red had resented not being able to leave the town and see the world, and his mother's continued insistence that he stay at home had added to that. Red understood the lack of money and her sadness at losing his father, something Red himself was unsure how to feel about having never known him, but he was happy to be going on his journey and wasn't going to let his mother dampen his spirit.

    "Can't you at least wait until lunch time?" Maria yawned as she walked forwards and put her own toast in.

    "Nope – Blue might just choose Charmander to piss me off, and I am not going to sit here and let that happen," Red said, stuffing his last piece of toast in his mouth and quickly double checking what he had: a map of Kanto with an old compass that belonged to his father, spare changes of clothes, underwear, swimming gear, a pillow, pop up tent, sleeping bag and guides to cities, caring for Pokemon and league rules and strategies. "Alright then, I'm off. I'll make sure to say goodbye before we leave." Red moved towards the door and was slipping into his white trainers just as Maria slammed something against the countertop.

    "There are more important things to life than training Pokemon," she grumbled, water sloshing over the top of the jug from the force of being put down. Red rolled his eyes and turned back towards his mother.

    "If you didn't want to me to go on this journey than why did you sign the forms?" He snapped.

    "I told you I don't remember signing them – I still think you forged my signature," Maria replied, pointing an accusing finger. Red let out a typical teenage growl, frustrated that his perfect day was already being ruined.

    "Goodbye Mother," he said icily and walked out the front door. Maria called after but Red slammed the door and moved down their small street at a near running pace, eyeing up the main road. Red had been putting up with her moods for years, and was finally going to be free to go off on his own journey: it was an exhilarating feeling, and nothing was going to stop him.

    Red was moving so quickly he hadn't noticed something watching him from between two houses opposite. There were wearing black pants, boots, gloves, cap and shirt anyway, allowing the person to perfectly blend in. The man smiled as he grabbed a walkie talkie from his belt.

    "Red is on the move, over," he said into the microphone. There was a crackle of static and a voice quickly replied: Excellent, move back to base, over. The man placed the walkie talkie back and quickly took off into the trees, swallowed up by the darkness and leaving nothing behind, almost as if he hadn't ever been there.



    "WAKEY WAKEY!"

    Leaf Oak opened her eyes in time to find a pink pillow coming down onto her face. She let out a scream and tried to push it off, but the muscular arms of her cousin Blue held it in place as he laughed sadistically. His joy fell short though as a knee rose up into his stomach, making him groan and allowing Leaf to push him off.

    "Blue you dick!" Leaf groaned, beating her cousin brutally with the pillow. "It's the last time I'm going to be in this bed for a while, so can't you just let me relax?"

    "If I let you relax than we'd be running late," Blue replied, still managing to laugh and earning him another beating with the pillow. Leaf groaned and fell back to her pillows, annoyed at herself for not locking her door despite the fact Blue always did things like this.

    Despite the fact they were cousins, Blue and Leaf were nothing alike. Leaf's hair was long and brunette and she always kept it straight, while Blue's ginger-brown locks were always gelled up, adding to their natural scruffiness. They were also stereotypes of their gender: Leaf wore skirts and high heels, her favourite colour was pink and her room was decorated with flowers, pictures of Clefairy and Ponyta and her wardrobe was the largest in the house, while Blue enjoyed getting dirty, playing pranks and listened to rock music that made the windows judder and sounded throughout the house. Leaf disliked Blue most of the time, but the two did get along well enough on the odd occasion they spent time together.

    However, they would be spending a lot more time together now: the two were embarking on their journeys today as well. Red and Blue had been the best of friends for their entire lives and did everything together, and had been planning going on a journey together for months. Though Blue and Oak had offered Leaf to come along, only recently had she decided to tag along. She had been unwilling as while Red and Blue were best friends, Leaf hated Red with a passion: whenever they were put on the same team at school events, they would argue and get into fights trying to boss the other about, but whenever they were on opposite teams it turned into a brutal war. However, Leaf was getting passed the travelling age and had always wanted to experience life more than their small town, and saw it as a perfect opportunity to go, not matter who was coming with.

    "Well, now that you're awake, we can get going," Blue said excitedly, throwing a pile of clothes over and beaming with delight. Leaf tutted as she caught them, but over the past few days she had become eager to leave and had her white bag with a red PokeBall outline, a gift from Blue's sister Daisy, ready by her bed.

    "Bugger off, I'm not getting changed in front of you," Leaf snapped. Blue didn't want to see that either and quickly backed off. Leaf looked into a mirror and tutted at her messy appearance and quickly set to work. There was a bathroom directly opposite and she rushed across and spent twenty minutes washing herself and her hair. She than dried her hair and brushed and straightened in before drying the rest of her body and slipping into a turquoise green shirt and red mini skirt. She put on lip-gloss and eye shadow before putting her make up kit, several changes of clothes, a bikini, sleeping bag, two small pillows, books and a black leather clutch purse that had belonged to her mother. Staring at it brought back memories and Leaf grabbed a photo from her bedside table: it showed her as a baby in the arms of her mother, who Leaf looked almost identical to, and her glasses wearing, black haired father. It was taken in the hospital and was one of the only pictures Leaf had.

    I promise to think of you, Leaf said, wiping away the tears and slipping the picture into her purse. She knew her parents were not fans of Pokemon battling and wondered how they would feel, but Leaf pushed the thoughts away to stop herself from feeling guilty. She grabbed a brimmed hat that matched her bag, wondering what she would end up forgetting, and took one last look at her room: it was pink and childish, having been decorated years ago and not changed since. It felt to Leaf like she was leaving her childhood behind, and sniffed as she began to close the door.

    As Leaf moved through the blue wallpapered hallway, she knew that now was the right time to go. The house had felt empty after Daisy left for university and to find work in the Pokemon Research industry, leaving just Leaf, Blue and their grandfather Professor Oak behind. It seemed like the right time to leave, and Leaf noticed a picture of their grandmother Agatha, wondering what she thought of this.

    "Blue!" Leaf suddenly gasped, beginning to rush down the stairs. "Blue, we haven't called Grandma! Wouldn't she want to know we're leaving today?" She rushed past the front door and into the simply decorated living room, but came to a stop as she saw who was in her favourite chair.

    "Hello Leaf," Red said with a smile, the events of his own departure absent from his mind. Blue laughed as he finished packing a plain black satchel bag with items, eyeing Leaf as her face inflated with rage. She and Red had both agreed to travel with the other, but Leaf was more annoyed about it than him and Red enjoyed having a good tease. He even placed his feet on the table on top of a coaster, and Leaf registered he was mocking her for always snapping at him for leaving drinks on the wood.

    "I thought we were meeting you at the lab," Leaf said stiffly.

    "I just thought I'd come and see how you lot are doing," Red replied with a smile. "Why, don't you want me here Leaf?" She merely scowled back before turning to Blue, noticing the brown cargo pants and purple shirt he was wearing.

    "So, do you think we should call Agatha?" Leaf asked, but Blue shrugged as he finished packing and did the clips on the bag up. "Speaking of our grandmother, that shirt looks like something she might wear." Red cracked up laughing as Blue scowled, looking down at it grumpily.

    "I said the same thing!" Red snorted, nearly falling off the chair as he continued to laugh hysterically.

    "I don't see anything wrong with it," Blue huffed, "but I guess I could change it," he added with a sigh and opened his bag again to find another shirt. Red suddenly leapt up, grabbing his bag and beginning to run.

    "While you're doing that, I'll just go and get first choice, shall I?" He said cheekily and laughed as he sprung towards the front door. Blue shouted out and tore the purple shirt off, briefly display his bare, pale chest before pulling an open collared black one on. Leaf rolled her eyes: she and Red might have a rivalry, but he and Blue were always having little competitions that mostly involved seeing who finished something first or in the fastest time. Whoever lost usually got into a huff for a short amount of time and Leaf didn't want to be near whoever it was.

    "CHEATER!" Blue shouted as he ran out the front door without doing his bag up.

    "You left your shirt behind!" Leaf called out after him, picking up the purple shirt and not knowing what to do with it, though noticing it already smelt like sweat. Disgusted, she hung it up on the stair rail and went to close the front door, planning to call her grandmother over breakfast. But as Leaf turned to the door, she noticed something suspicious: a woman wearing all black and with blonde hair tied back was talking into something, staring onto the street but standing behind some bins. Leaf turned and saw she was staring in the same direction Red and Blue had gone.

    "That's strange," she mumbled, closing the door but not thinking much of it, heading off to the kitchen with her mind going back to the journey ahead, not worrying at all about why the woman had watched them leave.



    About twenty minutes later, Leaf set off through Pallet Town.

    The sun had come out and was shining almost blindingly overhead as it rose further into the sky. The little town was beginning to rise in noise as more people awoke: small children were playing in backyards, voices rose out of open windows, and cars and bicycles moved down the main road. It was quite a pleasant town, and Leaf had always enjoyed wandering around here even if it was small with little excitement within. The trees had always been fun to play games in, and there was a small beach right at the very end leading to an ocean. Leaf felt rather nostalgic moving down the road, smiling and waving to familiar faces that she wouldn't see again for a long time, seeing certain places and remembering events that had taken place here. She grown up in Pallet and leaving it all behind was a big move. Leaf realised with a shock that she hadn't said goodbye to her good friend Susie yet, and felt guilty and wondered if she should call her.

    However, the Oak household was not far from the lab so the Professor was always able to rush back and forth between the two without much hassle. Leaf soon found herself at the glass doors as they slid aside to let her in, and sighed as she glanced back at the town.

    "Nice of you to join us dear," her grandfather called, and Leaf turned back around and moved briskly in. The lab was busier than it had been when Oak along was here: a number of assistants and interns were examining things under microscopes and typing information up onto computers, and a group of three were gathering together PokeBalls and a variety of items that looked quite grizzly to Leaf, whisking them away into the back rooms.

    Professor Oak stood by his table, smiling widely at his granddaughter. He had had a quick nap to refresh him, a brief shower and a changed into a blue shirt, disguising any tiredness from staying up the previous night. Leaf's heart skipped a beat as she saw what was in front of him: three PokeDexes in their default red with a PokeBall in front of each. Leaf was excited that the moment was finally here, and glanced at Red and Blue. Red looked just as excited, but Blue had a grumpy pout on his face and it was easy enough for Leaf to guess who had won the race.

    "Sorry I'm late!" Leaf apologized, grabbing a stool and quickly joining in. "I was just calling Grandma to tell her Blue and I were leaving. She told me to wish you good luck on her behalf as you didn't bother to call yourself," Leaf told Blue with a smile, and he pulled a face back.

    "Lovely," Oak said with a touch of sourness which the trio attributed to the mention of his ex wife, and Leaf sat down and remained quiet as to not provoke him. "Alright, we all know why you three are here! I am honoured to say that your registrations to the league have gone through, meaning you are officially entered into the Indigo Pokemon League, meaning you may compete for gym badges throughout Kanto and then either battle the Elite Four or compete in the Indigo League Conference." The three had stopped listening after they heard 'officially entered', exchanging smiles that stretched across their entire faces: after wanting this for so long, they were now in the league and about to head out on their journeys. Their first Pokemon was only a few centimetres away, and they were minutes from embarking into the wide world.

    "You all know the rules," Oak continued. "As you signed up through a Pokemon Professor and I am giving you your first Pokemon, in return you will carry a PokeDex and record information on all Pokemon you find, and I am allowed to use any Pokemon you have captured in research, with your –"

    "We know Grandpa, we signed the forms, can we just get our Pokemon?" Blue asked eagerly. He thought Oak wouldn't mind, but the old man leaned across the table and gave them all a serious look.

    "I want you three to realize that this is not just a game where you get to go around and battle people," he said gravely. "You are embarking into the world without any adult supervision and will be open to whatever comes your way and will not have anyone on hand to help you. It'll just be you three and your Pokemon together, and I want you to promise that you will treat your Pokemon with respect, that you three will stick together and that you will be mature and make sensible decisions!" The three were rather shocked but this statement and a passing assistant gave the professor a curious look.

    "Professor Oak, of course we'll stick together and respect our Pokemon," Red said. "What's brought this on?" Oak looked down at the table and sighed, moving backwards and collapsing onto his own stool, rubbing his head.

    "I am just a bit worried, that's all," he said with a wave of his hands. "I've never had this personal of a connection to the people I've sent out: sending Daisy away was bad, but I'm sending two grandchildren and a young man who is practically family! I am just getting a bit emotional in my old age," Oak added with a nervous laugh. "That café bombing in the Sevii Islands the other week has me worried the same could happen to you!"

    "We'll make sure to avoid any cafes then," Red said, and the four began to laugh. Oak forced himself to laugh harder than he would have, knowing that scaring them had been unnecessary and was only letting his worries escape.

    "Well, let's get down to choosing!" Oak said with a smile. "As I don't want to seem to favour one grandchild above the other, Red may have the first choice." Leaf and Blue tutted, but Red simply smiled and leaned forwards excitedly. He had been waiting for this moment for years, and his hands went towards the PokeBall with a flame on it. Red pressed the button, and red energy poured out and onto the table.

    "Charmander Char!" The orange lizard that formed cried. Red remained speechless, staring at the Charmander in shock, noticing how it looked exactly as he expected it to: orange skin with a yellow belly that stretched onto his long tail that was topped off with a flickering flame. His teeth and claws weren't as sharp as they would be, but the Red could tell his Charmander would grow into a powerful Charizard just like on his ways, though the happy smiling face wouldn't have anyone else believed.

    "I'm Edward, but everyone calls me Red," Red said, reaching a hand out. Charmander continued to smile and reached his own out, making Red laugh as he shook hands with the tiny creature.

    "MY TURN!" Blue shouted before Oak had even had a chance to talk to Red, and he grabbed the PokeBall with a green leaf on it and tossed it into the air. Oak watched disapprovingly as more red energy came down onto the table, this time turning into a green grass type.

    "Bulba Bulbasaur," the new Pokemon said, looking around at the person who had sent him out. Blue was satisfied with Bulbasaur: he was small now, with a dark green bulb on his back and a reasonably squat body and flat face, but the green creature had a steely look on his face that Blue liked.

    "He's perfect, looks like a great fighter in the making," Blue said and nodded at Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur seemed a bit stunned by this, but nodded all the same.

    "Blue, you should have waited to see if Leaf wanted Bulbasaur," Oak said sternly, and Blue raised his hands in defence, but a cocky smile stayed on his face. Leaf rolled her eyes, more annoyed at Blue's arrogance than going last.

    "Its fine Grandpa, I wanted Squirtle anyway," she said with a smile, turning away from her cousin before his smugness made her sick. She grabbed the final PokeBall, which had a blue drop on it, and pressed the button.

    "Squirt Squirt Squirtle!" The Water type that formed cried. Leaf made an 'ooooh' sound in excitement and scooped Squirtle into her arms before he got a chance to look at her. She was instantly in love with everything about him: his short blue limbs, blue tail curling up at the end, tough shell that was brown-red on the top and yellow on the bottom, and his cute little face that was shocked at being picked up.

    "Squirtle, I'm Leaf, and this is Blue and Red," Leaf explained, pointing at the others, "and you're going to travel with us, and I am so excited as you are just so adorable!" Squirtle was shocked, the other sniggering, but allowed Leaf to hug him and even patted her on the back.

    "Well, now that you all have a Pokemon, I can register your PokeDexes to each of you and make the PokeBalls your on," Oak said with a smile, opening up the devices. The three had been more interested in their Pokemon and only now noticed their PokeDexes: a control key came out of the right, while the speech module came to a bit on the left, with the center covered up by a panel that folded open when it was turned on. Oak had shown them all the basic mechanics the other day and explained how it recorded every Pokemon that they scanned, along with things like weight, height, where they lived, what they ate and brought up past information.

    "I have some covers you can use to make them your own," Oak explained, grabbing a tray from beneath their table. Leaf clapped with excitement and placed Squirtle down as she grabbed a pink cover, and didn't notice a large brown parcel.

    "What's that?" Red asked, pointing to the parcel, and Oak smiled at them.

    "This is some medicine I need to be delivered Viridian City," he explained, passing the parcel to Red. "Normally I would send an assistant, but I figured that I could test you three." The three listened seriously, wondering what this test was. "Just take the medicine to the PokeMart and Pokemon Center and bringing back some supplies they have for me, and than you can go on your journeys."

    "That's it?" Blue asked, scoffing slightly and earning a glare from his grandfather.

    "I want to see how you act as you move along Route 1," he explained. "This is the first time you will experience being in the wild with your Pokemon and I want to see how it goes. I will give you a PokeBall in case you see something you like, and I will give you some more when you return, along with some basic medicines and a special parcel." The mention of something 'special' attracted their curiosity, suddenly making them all eager to do this task to see what the parcel was. "I thought that make grab your attentions," Oak laughed. "I'll just register your PokeDexes, and than you can venture out into the big wide world!" The three exchanged beams, smiling down at their new Pokemon who had no idea why their trainers were excited, but could tell something was about to happen…



    "This is so amazing!"

    Half an hour later, the trio were off on their quest to Viridian City. Despite all the build up and worrying, the leave was pretty uneventful: Oak registered their PokeDexes with information and their PokeBalls to each of them, and than they simply walked out of the town. Red had sort of imagined it was harder to leave the town than this from being cooped up, but was stunned that they simply walked between a row of trees and some long grass and suddenly they were at Route 1, the first part of their journey underway.

    Route 1 was simple but beautiful. It stretched off towards a green and brown gatehouse, getting slowly steeper all the way. A natural brown path cut through the fields of short and long grass, with Pidgey and Spearow flying out in packs and Rattata causing it to shake as they passed. There were ledges jutting out and a number of houses with large back yards and wide space to be away from each other, unlike the cramped environment of Pallet Town. The same sorts of trees closed the route off but large gaps led to more houses, shops and one of the entrances to their school. It wasn't exciting or entertaining, but after finally leaving Pallet, it was a whole new world to the trio.

    "Let's get a move on!" Blue called, leading the way with Bulbasaur walking alongside. "I want to get rid of this package and get back to Pallet so we can actually go on our journey!" They had been walking for a while, but Viridian didn't seem to come close no matter how many turns in the road they took.

    "I'll be there in a minute," Leaf called. She had her PokeDex and was pointing it into the grass, trying to spot any Pokemon stirring between the green. Squirtle was moving alongside, looking bored when Leaf wasn't looking but smiling when she did. Three Pidgey suddenly erupted into the air in front, and Leaf was so startled she nearly dropped her PokeDex. Red was walking slowly behind with Charmander on his shoulders, taking the sights in, and began laughing as Leaf fumbled and tried to scan the departing Pidgey.

    "I doubt your grandfather wants more information on Rattata and Pidgey," he cackled. "I am sure if he wanted to know about them he could just send someone up here or do it himself!"

    "We are meant to scan the Pokemon we come across!" Leaf huffed, staring angrily at him. "I am just doing what we were asked to do! I don't see you doing any scanning!" Blue came to a halt at a bend up ahead, rolling his eyes and staring down at Bulbasaur.

    "They always bicker like this," Blue explained with an exaggerated groan. "It is best if I break them up now." Bulbasaur merely nodded, staring at the glaring teenagers with a confused look. Blue was eager to get a move on and they wouldn't get anywhere if the Red and Leaf started arguing. However, Blue was still grumpy about losing the running race against Red earlier and wanted to get back at him by beating him at something, and his eyes glittered as he saw a chance to strike two birds with one stone.

    "Hey Red," Blue called out, grabbing their attention before any arguing began, "why don't we start afresh for the journey with our competitions, eh? Let's say whoever catches the first Pokemon gets a point that puts them in the lead, alright? I think it could be a fun little way to get things going."

    "I thought you wanted to get a move on?" Leaf sneered, but Red's face lit up with delight.

    "I could be in for that," he said excitedly. "Are you interested Charmander?"

    "Charmander Char Charm!" Charmander said with a smile, eager to get a go at battling. Blue beamed and moved back around towards the others, a clear space of grass near them that seemed to be shaking with life. Leaf rolled her at eyes at them, but the idea of capturing a Pokemon herself was exciting.

    "Do you want to join Squirtle?" She asked.

    "Till Squirt!" Squirtle said with an eager nod. Blue looked annoyed at the fact his cousin was joining in, but merely sighed and stood between them.

    "Whoever captures their Pokemon first wins," he said, grabbing a spare PokeBall as Bulbasaur moved in front. Red and Leaf nodded as their own Pokemon moved towards the grass. The grass seemed to rattle with excitement, and Leaf gasped as Pidgey peered through towards them. It had a pink beak, black markings around its eyes and cream and brown feathers across its body and looked much smaller than Squirtle.

    "Oh my god, it's coming out!" Leaf said excitedly. Squirtle reared forwards, ready to strike, as the Pidgey walked forwards. Leaf was quick to bring her PokeDex out and scan the Pidgey properly, reading the information that came up. "Alright Squirtle, it says here that Pidgey don't like to fight and tend to flap sand into their opponents eyes to stop them," Leaf read, "so let's start this with a Tail Whip."
    "Squirt," Squirtle said. Red, Blue, Charmander and Bulbasaur watched with interest as they didn't have their own Pokemon. The Pidgey continued to stare as Squirtle turned around and waved his tail, the attack meant to distract Pokemon and make it easier to get past defences.

    "PIDGEEEEEY!" Pidgey cried and charged forwards, tackling Squirtle to the ground and pinning him there with his wings.

    "Guess the PokeDex was wrong," Red said as he and Blue began laughing, Leaf watching in shock and staring down at the device in her hand. But as Red began to double over, there was a sudden movement that grabbed his and Blue's attentions: two Rattata rolled out of the grass, legs wrapped around each other and both of them trying to dig their sharp teeth and long purple tails thrashing the ground.

    "Two, how convenient," Blue said, smiling at Red. "Shall we share them?"

    "Might as well," Red said with a smile. "Charmander, you grab one for us and use Scratch!"

    "Bulbasaur, you Tackle the one left over," Blue commanded. The two nodded and charged forwards: Charmander sunk his sharp claws into one of the Rattata's, making it let go of the other one to see what was attacking it in time to be pulled off and thrown onto the ground.

    "Bulba!" Bulbasaur cried, running forwards and striking the other one before it registered what had happened. Red and Blue both beamed with delight, and Leaf stared down at Squirtle as he was pinned by the aggressive Pidgey. She didn't want him to get embarrassed and be the only one defeated, and struggled to think of a move.

    "Ummm… I know!" Leaf gasped. "Push yourself up with tail and than run forwards with Tackle!" Squirtle looked a little confused with the order, but followed it anyway: he pushed his tail to the ground and managed to push his weight up against the smaller Pidgey.

    "Squirt Squirt!" Squirtle cried, wobbling over backwards as he stood up, but quickly balanced himself and began to charge towards a ledge. Pidgey was more focused on trying to peck at his head and didn't seem to notice the sudden change.

    "Flip yourself and dive into your shell!" Leaf cried. Red and Blue turned around in surprise at this unconventional order, and watched as Squirtle rolled forwards. Pidgey was stunned to suddenly move upside down, but didn't have time to let go of Squirtle's spinning shell before it forced her between the ledge. "YES!" Leaf cried as Squirtle's shell fell down, the crushed Pidgey landed on top. She threw the PokeBall forwards and Pidgey turned into energy, getting absorbed inside. Squirtle poked his head out of his shell in time to see the PokeBall shaking and flashing, before finally clicking and coming to a halt.

    "OH MY GOD!" Leaf screamed, running forwards and scooping Squirtle and the PokeBall up. "I CAUGHT MY OWN POKEMON! OH MY GOD! THANK YOU SQUIRTLE! AAAAAHHH!" Leaf screamed in delight, dancing on the spot and causing Charmander, Bulbasaur and the two Rattata to stop moving as they wondered what the noise was. Squirtle felt kind of embarassed, but Leaf's happiness was contagious and he beamed as she pulled him into a hug. Red and Blue just stared in shock, not sure quite what to make of being beaten by her.

    "SCRATCH!"

    "TACKLE!" They cried. Charmander and Bulbasaur quickly snapped out and charged forwards again, the Lizard Pokemon slashing down against his Rattata's face and the Seed Pokemon knocking his back towards the grass. Taking them by surprise was preventing either Rattata from fighting back, leaving them to take a barrage of attacks and lying weak on the dusty ground.

    "Excellent!" Red said, grabbing his empty PokeBall tightly and threw it.

    "Not before I do you ain't!" Blue snapped, throwing his own a second later. Charmander and Bulbasaur backed away as the two Rattata entered their PokeBalls: both shook and flashed red on the button, but Red whooped as his clicked with success first, Blue's following after a moment alter.

    "Great job Charmander!" Red said with a beam, grabbing Rattata's PokeBall and waving it into the air. Charmander clapped in joy and smiled at Bulbasaur, who gave a respectful nod back. Blue was pleased at his capture, but was annoyed that he had ended up getting beaten by both Red and Leaf in getting a Pokemon first. But Red held a hand in the air for a high five, and Blue pushed his bitterness aside and smiled as he returned it.

    "Looks like we both did good," he said.

    "I wonder how Oak will feel when he sees we already have our own Pokemon," Red added with a beam. There was a cough from behind them, and the two burns turned to see Leaf standing on the ledge above, tapping her foot impatiently.

    "If you two are going to be as slow with walking as you are with catching Pokemon than this journey is going to take a while," she said with a forced sigh before smiling cheekily and walking off with Squirtle in her arms. All three were happy about their captures, but it was only their first part of their journeys and they had to get moving in order to make the delivery so they could continue on their journey. Red and Blue began to run after Leaf, their Pokemon following after. Leaf turned around to face them as they caught up, not able to resist teasing them.

    "Come on, I've seen a Snorlax move faster than you!" She jeered. "I forgot to say goodbye to Susie so I want to get back to see her before she goes on her family holiday to Johto!"

    "Why do you even like Susie, she's so annoying," Blue scoffed as he and Red skidded to a normal pace to walk alongside her.

    "Excuse me?" Leaf said, giving him a pointed look. "I put up with your annoying best friend, so why don't you just put up with Susie?" Red stood in front, a fake shocked look on his face.

    "Blue, I thought I was your best friend?" He gasped. "Who is this other supposedly annoying friend you've been seeing behind my back?" He and Blue began laughing, and even Leaf couldn't resist letting a laugh escape. The three Pokemon had no idea why their trainers were laughing, but Squirtle climbed out of Leaf's arms in order to talk to the other two starters. The group moved forwards with the trainers laughing and the Pokemon talking, and their eyes didn't notice anything else around them.

    As they walked past on house and readied to turn a corner, a group of people walked out. If Leaf hadn't been laughing, she would have recognised the all black set up exactly like the person who had watched Red and Blue leave their house before. There were a total of five of them, each one grasping PokeBalls in one hand and varying blunt objects they had found inside the house in the other. The five marched out and opened the gate to move in behind, while another figure walked out of the door behind, throwing an entirely black PokeBall onto the lane.

    Red, Blue and Leaf came to a sudden halt, the laughter instantly leaving their faces. Black energy formed before them, and a purple Pokemon rose up around them. Leaf was stunned but opened her PokeDex to scan it, though she knew that it was an Arbok: vicious face with sharp teeth, wide ribs that allowed a strangely patterned face to spread across its purple scales, and a long thick tail that added to its height. None of them knew where it had come from, but they knew something like this wasn't usually found around Route 1.

    "CHAAAAR-BOK-BOK!" Arbok hissed, lunging forwards and making the three rush backwards. Red nearly tripped over their Pokemon, and looked down to see all three were staring at Arbok in shock, unable to move. He wanted to comfort Charmander, but than he noticed the five black clothed people standing before them: their faces were mostly obscured by their hats, but they were all beaming and beating weapons threateningly into their open palms.

    "What's going on, who are you?" Red asked, trying to sound brave.

    "We don't have any money or anything worth stealing!" Leaf cried with a sob, and the five people began to laugh as Arbok began to slide around them, hissing and trapping them within her circle. A louder laugh erupted from behind, though this one was more feminine and sounder much more mature. The five people stepped aside, allowing Arbok's trainer to step forwards.

    "Oh my little darlings, we don't want anything from you except your heads on a platter," the woman said with a voice as sophisticated as her laugh as the people continued to laugh. Red, Leaf and Blue examined this new woman: she red hair that colour of a tomato, stylized in a way that it a pointed fringe came down towards the bridge of her nose and stuck out the opposite end. Her eyebrows matched and stuck out across her pale, pointed, smug face that glared down at them, with yellow earrings dangling alongside her. Her body was slim but was a large bust and wide whips, held together by a tight white leather dress with black cuffs at the end of the long sleeves, a black belt holding it tight around the middle and black finishing off the end. The dress was cut down the sides to allow her legs to move freely, though Leaf wondered how comfortable it was to be wearing white leather high heels. The woman was quite beautiful but her smugness made it seem as if she was in control, which she was, and there was a vicious look in her eyes.

    "Who are you?" Red repeated, and the woman flashed a set of white teeth as Arbok moved towards her.

    "I guess it wouldn't hurt to tell you that," she said, patting Arbok's scaly head. "My name is Arianna, and I work for an organization that has a series of plans set over the next few weeks. For reasons I am not aware of, my boss sees you three as having the possibility of disrupting these plans. I don't see the threats of children, but I am not the sort of lady who turns down official orders." Arianna smiled widely again and pulled something out from around her leg: Leaf let out a whimper as the woman pointed a gun towards them, clicking the safety off and stepping forwards.

    "Look, we don't want any trouble!" Blue said, raising his hands. "We don't even know what you're talking about! If you let us go we promise not to bother you!"

    "Look, I don't care what you want: I have my orders and I am sticking to them!" Arianna said with a touch of venom, Arbok hissing behind her. The three starters were paralysed with fear at the sight of this larger creature, leaving their trainers on their own against the threat of this woman and her mysterious helpers. "Now, are we going to do this the easy way or the hard way?" Red had no idea what the easy way or hard way was, but he wasn't going to sit here and take it.

    "We have Pokemon," Red said, holding Rattata's PokeBall out. "Why don't we fight you? Let's say that if we win, we get to go on our way?" The black clothed people began cackled with laughter and Arianna's red lips curled into a smile.

    "Why would I waste my team when I can just shoot you?" She purred. "Besides, your starters look like they are about to shit themselves and we were watching you from the house: you may have caught some pathetic Normal types, but you've weakened them by trying to capture them and they'll be even more useless than normal in battle. Now shut up and get on your knees so I can get back to my base in time for a late lunch!" Arianna pointed the gun at the ground: Leaf and Blue got down, Leaf shaking furiously and beginning to cry, but Red was slower to lower himself. He was furious: he finally was leaving Pallet Town and going on his journey, but it was all about to be taken away from him before the quest had even started. He had no idea who these people were, but it was all unfair and he was close to tears himself at the injustice.

    "Good little puppies," Arianna said, taking a step forwards. "Don't worry, this will all be over in a moment… maybe I should kill the Pokemon first, yes?" She began to laugh and pointed the gun towards them, all three looking terrified. Arianna's finger closed on the trigger, and Red felt sick, watching the Pokemon he had wanted for years about to be killed before him.

    It all changed in an instant.

    What felt like a gush of wind washed over them, and just as Arianna went to pull she suddenly yelled: the gun was torn from her hands and flew into the distance, a bullet being fired as the trigger was torn from her finger but missing Leaf's neck by a centimetre. Red turned around as the bullet tore bits of bark of a tree and then looked around as Arianna moaned in pain: her forefinger had been dislocated as the gun pulled away, leaving it at a twisted angle.

    "What was that?" Arianna yelled, looking at Arbok as if she was going to give her a detailed answer. "Did any of you see something?" She barked at the grunts, but they all shook their heads. "Look around, something has to be here!" Arianna yelled and turned to the trio, pointing with her middle finger. "WHAT DID YOU DO?" She screamed in their faces, but they all shook their heads, just as shocked as she was. "If you are lying to me and you've got some Psychic Pokemon, so help you – AAAARRGGGH!"

    "CHAAAR!" Charmander growled through gritted teeth as he sunk his fangs onto the outstretched finger, scratching at Arianna's wrist with his claws. Arianna wailed and tried to shake him free, but Charmander grabbed her dislocated finger and twisted it. Red was so stunned by this that he nearly laughed, but Arbok suddenly reared in his face.

    "AAAAAARRRR!" She hissed, and bent back and opened her jaw wide. But as she dived forwards Leaf pushed Red aside, sending Arbok crashing into the ground head first. Bulbasaur and Squirtle took the opportunity to charge forwards with a Tackle. Red was forced to leap backwards to avoid being crushed by Arbok's thrashing tail as she was knocked to the ground, and got up to see three of the black wearing people running towards them.

    "KILL THEM!" Arianna yelled as blood seeped from cuts around her wrist, trying to beat Charmander off. Red saw the one nearest to him raising a bat and instinctively kicked out, remembering some karate lessons he had done for a few weeks when he was ten alongside Blue. The person grunted as he was sent flying backwards, crashing into the women Leaf had spotted before and they sprawled on the ground.

    "Nice shot!" Blue said, grabbing a stone and throwing it at the third person, hitting them square on the head. Arianna screamed with rage and turned angrily towards the three as she tugged on Charmander, but Leaf was spooked to have the leather clad woman loom over and lashed out as well: her foot connected with Arianna's right knee, making her yell and bend over, allowing Blue to give her a shove backwards towards the other three.

    "Is it just me or do these people no longer seem threatening?" Blue laughed, staring down as Charmander leapt away and wiped Arianna's blood onto her white leather.

    "They are probably just some poor people trying to get some money out of us," Leaf said with a shaky smile, getting to her feet as Charmander joined his fellow starters in taking on Arbok. Arianna angrily up at them and she clutched her bleeding hand and wrist.

    "You will regret this!" She hissed. "If you hadn't taken me by surprise you'd all be dead by now!"

    "Actually, if you hadn't had the gun torn from your hand you wouldn't be like this," Red said, staring over in the direction the wind had come from. "Speaking of which, what did send that wave?" He asked, staring at the others curiously.

    "Who cares?" Blue laughed. "As long as they –," but his sentence was cut off as two gunshots echoed around them. Leaf screamed and pointed as two of the black figures landed on the ground up ahead, blood pouring from the back of their heads. Red and Blue were equally as shocked, but they were more stunned as a Pokemon they hadn't seen before floating forwards: it looked like a woman with green curved hair and a flowing white dress, but her face was distinctively like a Pokemon.

    "What is that?" Red asked, pulling his own PokeDex which had a fire-based cover. "Gardevoir… that's native to Hoenn, what's it doing here?" Blue shrugged, awe struck as the Psychic Pokemon floated forwards. Her eyes suddenly glowed pink, and the three starters fell to the ground as Arbok was sent flying just like the gun.

    "Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit," Arianna hissed, pulling the black PokeBall out and pointing it at Arbok, who turned to black energy before landing and came inside. "You got lucky this time you little buggers, but that doesn't mean you will stay that way forever," the red headed woman hissed. She grabbed a PokeBall from one of her unconscious followers pockets and sent it out: Red scanned his PokeDex again at the golden and brown, long tailed and eye-shut Pokemon that formed in front.

    "It's an Abra, the one that always Teleports," Red said. Arianna flashed a white smile and gave a little nod as she grabbed hold of Abra and then grabbed the unconscious person. The two that had fallen over grabbed hold as well, and the Abra flashed a blinding white. The three shielded their eyes as the bodies turned white and were pulled towards Abra, swirling together before disappearing. Red blinked several times in order to stop seeing white and was stunned at how quickly they had disappeared: it had all happened within the space of five minutes, and it had been so sudden and strange that he wasn't sure what to make of it.

    "Fucking bitch," a voice suddenly shouted before the trio had time to digest what had happened, and Leaf made a breathlessly gasping sound as a woman ran up to them with the Gardevoir floating alongside. It took Red and Blue longer to recognize the long brunette hair, slim body and trademark red glasses of the woman, but than they realized who it was: Vivian Winters, a famous talk show therapist who had run her show for over twenty years. She was a brilliant mind who was able to bring families and relationships back together, but Vivian was more famous for her red glasses, steely glare, the fact she hadn't appeared to age at all during her time as a host despite being a smoker, being one of the richest woman in the world and for insulting her celebrity guests with her vile and blunt temper. Despite all this she was an icon throughout the world, and it was no wonder Leaf had turned breathless.

    "Those stupid fuckers seem to have a habit of teleporting," the therapist snarled to Gardevoir, almost as if the trio weren't there. "Go get rid of the bodies, take them to Viridian, the police will deal with them if they see it's from me." Gardevoir nodded respectfully and floated back towards the bodies. Vivian pulled a long red cigarette holder out of the black leather jacket she was wearing and lit the cigarette already there, finally turning to the trio. "What are you three doing here?" She barked. Leaf gasped and began to shake with excitement at being spoken to by her, but Red stepped forwards.

    "We are new trainers that are doing a job for Professor Oak before we go on our journeys," he explained. "We just caught some Pokemon and then Arianna appeared and trapped us with Arbok at first and then was about to kill us before you arrived."

    "Ah, I see," Vivian said with a nod, blowing smoke into his face. "Did she say why she wanted to kill you?"

    "Something about her boss seeing us as a threat to their plans," Blue added, and Vivian nodded yet again. Behind them there was sudden white flash and they turned as Gardevoir disappeared along wit the bodies.

    "Well, I was going to walk to Pallet Town, but I really can't be fucked now," the therapist said. "You can come back with me to tell Oak your story in person."

    "But we have to deliver –," Blue began in a whine, but Vivian pointed her cigarette holder towards him and glared angrily.

    "Hey, I just saved your skin, so you can do what I say," she snapped. "You haven't even thanked me from preventing your heads getting a lovely little bullet shot through them, so shut up and just come along." Red and Blue were shocked, and even Leaf stopped shaking with excitement at this. There was a flash of white alongside and Gardevoir formed. "Well come along," Vivian snapped, and the trio instinctively grabbed their Pokemon and rushed forwards: they wanted to do their task, but finding out what had just happened was a bigger priority at the moment, and they grabbed onto Gardevoir as she continued to glow white, bracing themselves for teleporting…



    By the time things had been sorted, the sun had begun to set on the other side of town, all the light seeming to draw around it as the rest of the sky went a dark shade of blue all around.

    Red, Blue and Leaf were getting restless: they had arrived back at Oak's lab hours ago, much to the professor's surprise. They explained what had happened, but despite claiming that it didn't seem serious and they weren't worried Oak was shocked, threatening to pull them from their journey. He and Vivian disappeared into the back room and on some occasions their arguing echoed out into the main part of the lab where the three sat, all the Pokemon they had fully healed and playing behind. They were getting worried that after all of this planning their trip was about to be cancelled, but held onto their hopes that it would still go ahead.

    However, Oak and Vivian finally emerged, the old man looking rather defeated while Vivian had her blank face on, smoking another cigarette. The three leapt up excitedly, their Pokemon turning around in interest, and they all stared at Oak with smiles on their faces. He looked at them with a grave look, but sighed and nodded his head.

    "YES!" Blue yelled as Red and Leaf cheered on either side. Red and Blue high-fived, and in their excitement Red and Leaf did so as well, but looked disgusted at themselves and turned around.

    "I am letting you go, but only on two conditions!" Oak said firmly. He grabbed three more brown paper parcels from a tray and passed them out to each of them. "In here are some items I want you to use ONLY in emergency situations! I will put the word out to my contacts to check that these parcels haven't been opened in any way unleash something bad has happened as what is in them are not toys and should not just be used for fun."

    "How will you know if something has happened?" Red asked as they each took a package, their Pokemon gathering around in interest.

    "That's the second condition: if you ever get in trouble, I want you to use the speech function of your PokeDexes," Professor Oak explained. "Yell into the microphone for help while pressing the keypad down with your palm and our monitoring system will alert us and I can send someone to help." The three nodded, all thinking it was fair enough to let them go back on their journey. Oak leant forwards, looking serious once more. "What I said before is even bigger now of this: I want you to be on a constant look out and to keep your Pokemon on you at all times and stay together and call in anything you find suspicious, alright?" The three nodded, but Vivian pushed Oak aside.

    "Don't put them off their journey Samuel," she scoffed, blowing smoke across them all. "Come on brats, I'll walk you out."

    "Grandpa, what about the parcel?" Leaf said.

    Ah, of course!" Professor Oak laughed. "Would you mind delivering it? One of my assistants went up there so he can bring back the other supplies." Leaf nodded, and rushed forwards to hug him. Red and Blue wanted to seem tough, but they got emotional as well and all three hugged the Professor tightly. He let out a laugh, but there was a serious sadness in his eyes as he looked at them all. "I am sure one of you will end up becoming Champion, I have absolute hope in you all and I know you'll do me proud."

    Leaf was close to tears as they emerged a minute later, and Vivian gave her a gentle but not particularly sincere pat on the back. All their Pokemon were back in their balls and the packages were down in their bags out of the way so they weren't tempted to open them. Yellow light shone from open windows and things seemed a lot quieter now as the town began to settle down for the evening: the road was completely clear, leaving a straight path towards Route 1.

    "Ready to tackle it again?" Blue asked his travellers.

    "Well, you are going without me, I have a client to see," Vivian said, puffing away on her cigarette and walking in front. "Goodbye you three, but I have a feeling I am going to come across you all again at some point in the future." She waved at them before strutting across the road, a small trail of smoke following from behind.

    "She's a bit of a bitch, isn't she?" Blue said, and Leaf scoffed and hit him, but Red didn't listen as he saw who Vivian was walking towards: Maria Lowley stood at the end of the street smoking a cigarette, breaking into a smile as Vivian approached her. She pulled the therapist into a hug and glanced over her shoulder, noticing her son watching silently from up the road. Red had planned on saying goodbye, but was shocked to see his mother was seeing a therapist. Maria made no motion for him to come across, but merely nodded before walking off towards their house.

    "Red, are you ready to go?" Blue asked. Red nodded, though was still staring at where his mother was: after putting up with her for so long, he had expected their farewell to be more than a nod from a distance, but it seemed this was going to be their last communication.

    "Oh my god, I forgot to say goodbye to Susie!" Leaf gasped, looking around as if she should have appeared. "She has probably gone to Johto by now anyway… Damnit!"

    "Just call her when we get to Viridian, see if she is still here, but I want to get a move on!" Blue whined. Leaf looked like she was going to argue, but Red suddenly cut between them, marching off towards Route 1: after the dismal goodbye, he wanted to get as far away from this town as possible. It was stifling and the whole world was waiting on the other side of the route.

    "Where are you going?" Blue cried, racing after.

    "I'm going to live my life," Red replied, smiling to himself as the two chased after and Route 1 came closer. It was time to experience life and get on with having a life: Red was ready to train and to battle gyms and get all the badges so he could make it to the league. Pallet Town was in the past, and with his two Pokemon, best friend and Leaf at his side, Red expected great things to happen.

    Nothing was going to get in the way of his dreams.



    "Are you telling me that no only did you not kill them, they now know your name?"

    "Yes sir."

    "Well Arianna, this is extremely disappointing to hear. I am not going to be able to send you after them again, are you aware of this?"

    "Yes sir."

    "Good – you can train the grunts to replace the two that Miss Winters decided to shoot. I'll have to put a call in and bring Archer in to get rid of them before they get to ahead of their journey. You are excused now, but please note that your failure today has extremely disappointed me."

    "Yes sir," Arianna said, and gave a little bow before rushing out of the office. Giovanni hadn't looked at her at all during their discussion as he knew she had failed and he couldn't bear to face those that had failed him. If a grunt leading the operation had failed him than Giovanni would have promptly killed them, but there was no way he would ever kill Arianna…

    Giovanni stared out of a darkened window in Viridian City, staring towards Route 1, knowing that the next day the three would enter his city and continue upon their quests. Giovanni had been hoping for good news after failing in his discussion with Charlotte the previous week, but being the death of three behind by a day was not as big of a worry. The head of Team Rocket twirled a knife between his fingers, imaging the three corpses being brought to him tomorrow and a smile managed to appear along his face. It was a dark thing murdering three seemingly innocent children, but Giovanni had been planning this mission for many years and wasn't going to let anything stop him, especially not Red, Leaf or Blue.

    Nothing was going to get in the way of his dreams.

    ^^^^ The GalacticVerse Bibliography (Thanks to Blazaking for Banner) ^^^^

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The First Warriors: Chapter 1

    Sorry for the delay between parts, but school has gotten in the way.


    Rivalled Beginnings

    June 8th

    "I can't believe it… we're finally here!"

    Red, Blue and Leaf stood in the middle of Viridian City, turning around to take in all the exciting and fresh sights and sounds around them. The buildings were all different shapes and sizes, painted in vibrant colours and made out of varying materials than what you'd find in Pallet Town. There were more shops than they had ever seen, confined to bare essentials such as food and clothing, but their logos and display windows pulled their eyes towards them at every opportunity. There were many more cars than there were in Pallet, and many more people wandering the streets and heading towards the shops and neighbouring houses.

    To most people, Viridian was a city that was on the verge of simply being a town: it was small with little to do, the only major attraction being a gym and a battling area called the Trainer's House. The rest of the major cities across Kanto had cities with bigger houses and buildings and a larger variety of shops and people, and Viridian was more of a closed off family town that was mostly just passed through. However, to three teenagers who had never known anything better than a small town that consisted of a lab and a series of houses, this was one of the grandest places they had ever gone to.

    "This city is so big!" Leaf said breathlessly, nearly skipping down the street as she spun around and stared at all the houses and shops around them. "I can't believe we've been living near here for so long but have never made it to Viridian until now!"

    "They say that the gym leader here is one of the toughest," Red explained, eyeing a flash four wheeled drive as it sped past them. "However, he shouldn't be too tough for me! I think it would take only a few attacks to wipe out his entire gym!"

    "Dream on," Blue scoffed, leading the way down the path with an air of smugness about him. "You only have a Charmander and a Rattata: you wouldn't even knock out one of Brock's Pokemon with this team! Besides, the Viridian gym leader is all mysterious and secluded, never letting anyone know anything about him until its time to battle him." Red knew Blue had a point, but was still annoyed at having his dreams crushed.

    "I'd like to see you ever win against him!" He grumbled back. "I don't think your going to win against any gym leader unless you expect a few bubbles to defeat them!"

    "What's the bet I'll be the first one of us to get their gym badge?" Blue said, wheeling around and looking angry at first, but a cocky smile crept across his face and his eyes shone in a challenging way. Red was dying for the chance to properly show off the skills he was convinced he had and for the chance to train his team, and making another challenge with Blue was too good to turn down.

    "Oh ENOUGH already!" Leaf groaned, angrily stamping her feet and glaring at the two boys on either side of her. "I actually want to enjoy this journey, and I am not going to if you are two keep trying to one up each other and set these silly little challenges! Why don't you just calm down and enjoy the sights around us?" She suggested, putting on a smile that didn't match the irritated look in her eyes.

    "Are you going to be this annoying about every city we go to?" Blue said huffily. "It's not going to be very fun travelling with you if your going to get all orgasmic about every single skyscraper we walk past!" Leaf scoffed and wheeled around, punching her cousin in the arm. Red laughed at Blue's misfortune, earning him a glare from his friend but the cockiness between them had stopped. The trio continued down the path in silence, still marvelling at the sights but not bothering each other in risk of growing irritable and bored early on in their journey: they were going to be together for a while, and it was best if they stayed on good terms.

    But all their petty squabbling was pushed aside as they rounded the bend, and a sight they had only even seen in books and television appeared before them.

    The Viridian City Pokemon Center had recently been rebuilt in an ecologically friendly manner, designed to be run entirely by solar panels. They were built into the outside walls but designed to look fashionable and resemble blue glass, and more resided on the roof. The top of the roof was orange and would light up at night as a beacon for all Pokemon trainers who needed to use its facilities, and a white PokeBall design topped off the design. It was a place that was relatively simple, designed to heal Pokemon and give their trainers a place to stay, but it was one of the big signs that the three were actually out on a journey and experiencing the world around them. Red, Blue and Leaf came to a halt, staring at the building with wide, excited eyes, thinking of how many of these they would go through on their journey to the top.

    "Shall we go inside?" Red said eagerly, and the other two nodded excitedly. They quickly rushed over, turning into little children running into a candy store as they sped towards the sliding glass doors.

    The inside was just as impressive: the tiles were a sparkling white with walls to match, the floor covered with a series of chairs, tables, sofas and pot plants. There was a giant electronic billboard from Silph Co., the sponsors of the Eco-Friendly Pokemon Center Project, with more posters advertising various parts of Pokemon and Viridian life. A large desk spread across the opposite wall, painted a vivid red with PokeBall design to stand out and was run by three nurses in pink dresses and white aprons and hats. An open hallway to the left led to accommodation and a set of double doors led to the hospital part of the center.

    "Is it depressing that this is the single most awesome building I've ever seen in my entire life?" Leaf whispered, going into another bout of spinning around and admiring the view around them. It did seem a little depressing, but Red and Blue didn't care: it was one of the most interesting buildings they'd ever seen either, and they weren't about to start complaining about it.

    "Hey look!" Blue gasped, pointing towards one of the posters. Red and Leaf turned to face it, and Red was stunned to see a brand new picture he had never seen before: it showed a brown haired man dressed quite nicely in a flash black tuxedo with a red and white striped tie. He was sitting in a black leather chair that blended into his suit, portrayed against a white backdrop. He was smiling towards the camera with a look that was sophisticated, casual and intimidating all at once. To most people, this could easily be an artistic photograph of a businessman, one who emitted power simply by looking at him, but the words at the bottom would be enough to change that view: THE ONLY WAY TO SUCCEED IN THE LEAGUE IS BY BELIEVING IN YOURSELF AND THE POKEMON THAT FIGHT THE WAR FOR YOU.

    "Casimer…," Red whispered. The Champion of the Kanto League was an idol to thousands of children across the region: he was what every boy aspired to be, with his swift yet beautiful defeat of his opponents to his calm and cool persona outside of the arena. The words that spread across the poster were his famous words that the Champion had uttered upon winning his final battle that gave him the Championship, and they were words that Red inspired to be live up to during his quest.

    "He is probably the hottest guy I am going to meet on this journey," Leaf mumbled, possibly not realising she was saying the words aloud, but her dreamy, admiring look turned to shock as Red and Blue both turned towards her. "Did I say what I think I just said?" She asked nervously.

    "You did," Blue said, slowly beginning to laugh. "The hottest guy, eh? I hardly doubt the Champion is going to date a lowly trainer like you, so I'd start setting the bar a bit lower if I was you."

    "Do you want me to hit you again?" Leaf said with a fist raised. "And it is true: none of the male gym leaders are that hot. Well, Lt. Surge is really buff, but Casimer is just so… dreamy. He looks like an actor, but he is so much cooler, and –,"

    "I am going to go see him," Red said suddenly, and had turned and moved towards the desk before the other two could properly react.

    "Wait, you are going to do what?" Blue asked, exchanging shocked looks with Leaf before the two quickly crossed the polished tiles to chase after their friend. "Red, I don't think you can just go to the Pokemon League and say 'Hey, I want to see Casimer!' He is bound to be well protected and guarded!"

    "I still want to try and see him," Red said as he approached the desk, fishing his two PokeBalls out of his pocket. "I don't see there being any problem with going to see the Champion! He is the greatest trainer in all of Kanto, and I need to see what advice he has to offer me, and –,"

    "Alaska, STOP playing with the Pokemon, they are sick!" A voice suddenly boomed next to them, make the trio jump. They turned to see a nurse talking into a microphone, staring across down at a screen. She continued to growl with her finger on the button, but the 'Alaska' girl clearly listened as her expression softened and she let go. "Sorry about that, my daughter is a bit mischievous at times! She thinks the Pokemon are all there for her to play with! Now, how can I be of assistance?"

    "Just these to be healed thanks," Red said with a bright smile. Leaf and Blue came forwards and put theirs on the desk as well, and the black haired nurse gathered the six PokeBalls up.

    "It'll just be a few moments," she said, placing the six into a large machine behind her that was easily closed up. Power surged through, make it glow and whirr as the special processes that healed the Pokemon took place. The trio become so engrossed in watching it that they forgot all about Red's statement, simply watching yet another new idea occur before them.

    "And there we go, as good as new!" The nurse said as she passed the PokeBalls back over. "I am going to guess you are new trainers, so good luck with the rest of your journeys and I hope to see you back in Viridian some day!"

    "Thank you," the three said collectively, and they made to head off. It was only as they passed the poster again that Blue and Leaf remembered about Red and Casimer, but as they went to talk, Red raised his hands in defence.

    "I know you're just going to say its silly, but I don't see anything wrong with trying to see the Champion! It isn't exactly illegal or anything like that!" He explained. "You two can think whatever you want, but I am going to try and see him!" And with that, Red turned and went towards the door without another word. Blue rolled his eyes and turned towards his cousin.

    "He is being a bit dramatic, don't you think?" He sighed, watching out of the corner of his eye as his friend walked through the sliding doors. Leaf turned towards Red looking a tad more sympathetic.

    "You should go after him, it isn't good to go roaming around unfamiliar areas by yourself," she said, watching as Red left and turned back towards her cousin. However, Blue merely raised and eyebrow and gave Leaf a 'your kidding?' look. "He's your friend!"

    "And you hate him, why do you care?" Blue retorted. "We aren't joined at the hip, and I want to go and have a look around the city." Leaf glared at him to try and break him, but Blue folded his arms and looked the other way. She didn't want to spend time alone with Red, but knew that they should really stick together, especially after what had happened yesterday.

    "Fine, if you are going to be selfish, you wander around and get killed then! You stay here!" Leaf snapped, and she marched towards the door. Blue watched as his cousin left, knowing deep down that he really should have stayed with them, but he wasn't on a journey to simply do whatever the other two wanted. He turned towards a poster for the Training House that hung behind him. Blue had no intention to stay around the Pokemon Center that afternoon: his only intention today was to kick start his training.

    ***

    "Scratch, go!"

    Red watched intently as Charmander lunged forwards, glowing claws striking across the feathered chest of the Spearow in front. It was the first battle they had had all day, and it was good to see that the healing powers of the Pokemon Center had brought Charmander up to full health.

    The two were out on Route 22, which felt rather odd as they had only been on Route 1 the previous day. Presumably they'd cross the other 20 at some point, but it was a rather odd jump that had confused Red as he quickly left the city limits and emerged onto the grassy route, enclosed by trees and cliffs that towered high above.

    There was a large amount of grass Red was forced to wade through in order to get to the main path leading to the Pokemon League, but he was excited for the opportunity to battle and hopefully catch more Pokemon, and was more than willing to roam into an overgrown field that was meant to be ridden with Rattata, Spearow and the occasional Mankey and Ponyta. And, unfortunately for a certain Spearow, Red and his team were ready for battle.

    "Ember!" Red commanded.

    "CHARMAN!" Charmander yelled, and a small ball of orange and yellow fire formed in his mouth. The Spearow was readying an attack that looked like Peck, and didn't have time to move before getting blasted back by the fire.

    "Excellent shot!" Red cried in delight, watching as the flame-engulfed Spearow soared across the field, scorching the grass in the process. "Now, let's add a third member to this team!" He yelled, pulling a PokeBall out of his pocket. But just as he went to throw it, the flames turned to smoke, revealing the smouldering, unconscious Spearow below. "Damnit! Looks like it was a little too powerful Charmander."

    "Charm? Mander Man Char Der Der Mander Charm," Charmander said sadly, hanging his head in shame.

    "Oh no, don't be sad!" Red said, bending down and patting the flaming Pokemon on the head. "You are getting stronger, which is really awesome! But next time we should try and focus on lowering your power just a bit so we don't overkill every Pokemon we try to catch, alright?" Charmander nodded happily at this, and Red was glad to have averted upsetting his starter. "Great, now let's try and see if there are any other Pokemon around we can catch."

    "RED, WAIT UP!" A cry erupted behind them, and Red and Charmander both turned around to the familiar voice. Leaf was running forwards with Squirtle waddling at her side, her bag bashing against her bag as she sprinted forwards.

    "What are you doing here?" Red asked, unable to keep the shock and rudeness out of his tone. Leaf caught on this and slowed down to a walk, eyeing the large field of grass between the two of them uncertainly.

    "Oh, that's a lovely way to greet your travelling buddy," Leaf snapped back sarcastically, and the two glared at each other from across the green. The relationship between the two had not softened overnight and they were no where near being best friends yet, though the two were both trying for the sake of their journey, even if it would take a while.

    "I didn't think either of you were going to come with me," Red said.

    "Well, I didn't like the thought of you roaming around by yourself," Leaf replied with a shrug. "After that Arianna woman got away, I've had the feeling she could be easily coming back for us, and only a Charmander and a Rattata aren't going to be much use if she brings her Arbok."

    "Charm!" Charmander huffed.

    "And a Squirtle and Pidgey are going to be better?" Red retorted.

    "Squirt!" Squirtle said huffily. Leaf growled and rolled her eyes, glancing back at the route behind her.

    "I am just trying to be friendly, alright! If your going to be a douche about it than I might as well turn back and start heading towards the forest!" She said angrily. Red didn't really want to be stuck with her, but he hadn't thought of the threat the strange red headed woman and her mysterious organization when he had stormed off, and having another person with him would be more reassuring.

    "You can tag along then, I guess," Red said with a sigh and a roll of his eyes, "but just don't get in my way when it comes to battling!" Leaf laughed as she and Squirtle began to make their way forwards once more.

    "I think you should just worry about getting in your own way," she scoffed. "Squirtle isn't exactly going to serve up any flame-grilled Spearow any time soon, is he?" Red's eyes narrowed and he was tempted to dish out some comeback, but he felt a tug at the bottom of his pants and glanced down. Charmander was shaking his head in a knowing fashion, and Red smirked at how his starter was already bringing him under control.

    "Your right," he whispered, "I'll keep all the nasty thoughts in my head for now," and Charmander laughed at this. There was a crunch of grass and leaves as Leaf and Squirtle finally joined them, the former taking looming steps to avoid the unconscious Spearow that lay smouldering before them.

    "Do you even know the way to the Pokemon League?" She asked as the quartet moved forwards. Red took a deep breathe to control himself and pointed towards a large green sign up ahead.

    "I think we should just follow those for now, wouldn't you agree?" He replied with a smirk, and Leaf merely glared back at him. The two carried onwards in silence, leaving Charmander and Squirtle to push through the grass themselves as the trainers focussed entirely on ignoring the other. The Fire and Water type exchanged glances as they pushed through, smirks crossing both of their faces.

    "Squirtle Till Squirt Squirt?" Squirtle asked.

    "Char Mander Charm Char," Charmander replied wisely, and the two laughed knowingly as they followed after their trainers, the two unaware of the very secret and very true conversation the two had just had.

    ***

    While Red and Leaf wandered silently through Route 22, Blue and his Bulbasaur had a much more productive idea of how to spend their time in Viridian.

    "Here were go Bulby: the Viridian City Trainer House!" Blue boomed dramatically as they stepped across the road, both of their heads inclined towards the building in front of them. The Trainer House instantly gave off the impression of being very tree like: the large roof was painted in a green that reflected off the sunlight, while the wooden walls were mixed in with red-brown bricks to fully support the two storey building. Blue did not know how great of a facility this practicing centre was, but this would be his first real taste of a battle against a stranger, ignoring the rather frightening, one sided fight the trio had become involved in yesterday, and he couldn't be more excited.

    "Are you ready Bulbasaur?" Blue asked, staring down at the Grass type sitting below. The Seed Pokemon had given the trainer a sense of being strong and bold since the moment they had met, one of the reasons why Blue had been drawn towards him, and knew that the Pokemon would be ready for this. He could see it in Bulbasaur's eyes: a sense of amazement and excitement at the large building before them, an eagerness that matched his trainers to get inside and get battling.

    "Saur Bulba Bulb Bulba!" Bulbasaur boomed, leering forwards and looking eager.

    "Great answer!" Blue said with a slight roar, and the two moved forwards to the sliding doors that separated them from the battles that lay ahead. Let those two go stare at a building and get some advice, Blue thought bitterly. They will see that actual practicing and developing your skills is better than getting some suited man to tell you how to win.

    "Welcome to the Viridian Trainer House!" A voice cried enthusiastically the second Blue and Bulbasaur stepped through, drawing their attention before they even got a chance to look around. A woman with a smile that seemed larger than Bulbasaur's entire body stood staring at them, wearing a purple jacket and skirt and looking extremely pleased that they had arrived, though the reaction was rather offputting.

    "Oh… hello there," Blue replied uncertainly. "I just wanted to have a look around and maybe take part in some –,"

    "Well, we only have two people using the facility at the moment," the woman replied before Blue could even finish. "You have the option to either train, watch them or wait for another opponent, but that wouldn't be very fun, would it?" She let out a laugh, and Blue could only wonder how much this woman got paid to stand there and smile at everyone who came in.

    "I think I'll go watch the battlers," Blue replied, glancing down at Bulbasaur, who looked just as startled and confused as he did. The woman smiled and nodded and pointed towards a staircase, and Blue took off before she got a chance to explain anything else. He moved quickly, only glancing briefly at the tables, bookcases and computers spread around this level of the floor, not stopping so he could simply keep going. '

    "That woman must have either one giant mouth or some invisible wires keeping that smile going," Blue muttered, and Bulbasaur smirked as they approached the stairs. Shouts and cries were echoing up the stairs, and the smiling woman was quickly forgotten as Blue raced down the stairs, excited to see what was happening below.

    The area below wasn't as decorated as above, simply a large, open grey space with the floor marked out for different fields and seats against the wall for spectators. Blue looked around and saw that indeed there were only two people using the large space, though they were fighting with such ferociousness that they easily made up the noise.

    "Come on, hit him with a Slash!" A woman cried out to a small, mostly brown bird before her, the Pokemon clutching what looked like a vegetable in its wings.

    "It is only a little Flying type, it should have fainted by now!" A man opposite uttered pompously. "Headbutt, go!" He called to a large beast about six times the size of the bird, sharp horns looking like an easy match for the vegetable club and four hoofed feet digging at the ground.

    "I think that is a Farfetch'D and a Tauros…," Blue muttered, taking a seat as he pulled his PokeDex out of his bag, Bulbasaur hopping up to sit alongside. The machine whirred into life and scanned the Flying type as it sprung forwards, the vegetable turning white. "That is a Farfetch'D, and that thing is some sort of leek that it uses as a weapon," Blue explained to Bulbasaur, looking up as the Wild Duck Pokemon slashed the leek across Tauros' head. "Wow, that must be a really powerful Farfetch'D!" Blue said with a gasp, watching as the beastly Tauros crumpled at the force of the Slash.

    "Saur Bulba," Bulbasaur replied with a nod, watching the battle intently. The Tauros got back to his feet as the Farfetch'D landed, looking rather smug and relatively unscathed. The Wild Bull Pokemon seemed to be tired and frustrated, glaring down at the small bird with a vicious look in his eyes.

    "TAUROOOO!" He roared, shaking the very building they were in, and he charged forwards. Blue was stunned at his sudden speed and the sheer force the Pokemon seemed to carry with him, and the result seemed unavoidable: the lightly glowing head was driven into the little Farfetch'D, the force of the attack and the Tauros' weight sending it flying across the sky.

    "Hang in there Farfetch'D!" The girl cried, watching as her Pokemon soared above her, but even Blue could tell that the powerful attack had been overwhelming. The Wild Duck smashed into the back wall and bounced off, rolling forwards with the leek coming apart from its body, eyes shut and clearly unconscious.

    "I think this makes me the winner!" Tauros' trainer called pompously, strutting forwards and giving the Pokemon a light pat on the head in congratulations. The girl let out a sigh that almost sounded angry and whipped a PokeBall out, her Farfetch'D turning to energy and coming back.

    "Good job. You did well against this dick," she said acidly, and Blue was rather surprised by the un-sport like reply. He had been so focussed on the battle that he hadn't paid any attention to the trainers themselves, and turned towards the Farfetch'D trainer. The girl's style was just as colourful as her vocabulary, her hair short and spiky, dyed shades of green, red and yellow to give her a traffic-light appearance. She was dressed in a tight fitting black leather jacket and torn jeans that were tucked into leather boots that rose up her legs and looked both stylish and killer at the same time. Blue wasn't quite sure who this girl was, but so far she was the most interesting person he had met on their journey, and as she turned towards him, Blue saw she was also more attractive than expected: a thin but youthful face with bright blue eyes, well complimented by her hair.

    "Wow…," Blue whispered, staring rather obviously at her with wide eyes of youthful, teenage excitement. Bulbasaur turned towards him and rolled his eyes, having to walk forwards and nudge his trainer. "What?" Blue snapped, looking down grumpily.

    "Saur Bulba Bulb Bulba," Bulbasaur said, bulging his eyes and smirking to himself as Blue gasped, realising how obvious his staring had been. But before he could thank Bulbasaur, there was the sound of footsteps and they turned around as the girl walked forwards.

    "Hi there," Blue said, leaping up excitedly and approaching the attractive girl. She looked him up and down with a rather reproachful look as she carried on towards a tattered black bag that lay on another seat. "My name's Blue and I saw the end of the battle: it sucks you lost but your Farfetch'D appears to be very strong!"

    "Cheers," the girl said, heaving her bag up and giving him another glance over, though her impression of him didn't seem to change. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I only lingered around for one battle because that dick was being too pushy. Catch you around," she said, and turned towards the stairs.

    "Wait!" Blue called, unaware how desperate his tone sounded. "Can't you stay for another battle… um… what's your name?" He asked, smiling awkwardly. Bulbasaur rolled his eyes behind his trainer's back, but Blue didn't care as he stared eagerly towards the girl as she turned back around: her interesting dress, pretty face and captivating voice, which sounded a bit like a middle aged smokers but had a sense of youthfulness in it, had instantly captivated Blue, and he was keen to show off his skills and have his first proper battle with the attractive girl before him.

    "The name's Amber," the girl replied, not looking any more pleased about being harassed by this strange boy that stood before her, "and I'd love to battle, but – oh god, what the hell do you want now?" Blue was rather surprised by this sudden change in topic, but the mixture of noises behind him caused him to wheel around and face in the direction Amber was glaring.

    He hadn't paid much attention to the Tauros trainer, his infatuation with Amber taking all of his focus, but now the boy was walking towards them. He didn't look much older than Blue, possibly 14 or 15, but he had a rather interesting fashion sense that was vastly different than anything Blue had seen before. The trainer was wearing a long sleeved blue shirt under a darker blue waistcoat, with long trousers that combined the two colours in stripes going down towards his polished leather shoes. The boy was clearly rich, and there was a swagger and snobbery about him that Blue instantly disliked. His face had a smug smile spread across his flawless skin, and black hair was combed and gelled into a wavy style that some girls would probably find dashing, yet his personality was emitting from every pore of his body and it was not an attractive look.

    "Amber, it is common courtesy to congratulate the winning trainer of a battle before you leave the arena," the boy scoffed in a clipped tone, leaning against his Tauros who looked rather bored by the situation.

    "I'd gladly thank any other trainer, but if I thanked you Ivor your ego would probably explode," Amber said with a sarcastic smirk. Ivor did not seem particularly happy about this and pulled a pout that Blue imagined would cause his parents to give him whatever he wanted, yet it wasn't going to work on Amber. It seemed unlikely that these two would ever battle or spend time together outside of this building, despite both being trainers and around the same age, and Blue's love for the Trainer House grew as he thought of all the trainers he stood the chance of meeting.

    "You boy!" Ivor suddenly boomed at Blue, who turned around grumpily at being addressed that way. "I overheard you saying you wanted a battle, eh? Tauros here could probably do a few more rounds, couldn't you old boy!" Tauros did the four-legged equivalent of a shrug, which Ivor took for a yes. "Splendid!" He cried, his voice almost louder than his Tauros' moo. "I shall just heal him upstairs and we will meet you on the field in approximately five minutes!"

    "Wait, I never agreed to anything!" Blue said in shock, but Ivor was already leading his Tauros up the stairs, each step creaking loudly as it took the Wild Bull's weight. Blue turned to follow them and saw Amber stifling a laugh, taking her bag off and throwing it back towards the seat.

    "Oh, this should be fun," she laughed, walking over to join her accessory. "Just the idea of his Tauros up against your Bulbasaur – HA!" She cried, flopping down on her seat and stretching across so her boots nearly touched Bulbasaur. The Grass types glared at the shoes before looking up at Blue.

    "Do you want to try this?" Blue asked uncertainly, but felt both surprise and pride as Bulbasaur nodded determinedly, leaping down from his seat and walking forwards. "Excellent!" He said in reply, though a moo echoing from the floor above put the situation into perspective: it was a battle he didn't really want and that they had a huge size disadvantage in, but this would be how some of their battles would turn out. Blue knew it was something he would have to learn to deal with, but he knew who he would rather be battling than Ivor, and would just have to convince her through moves that he was a worthy opponent.

    ***

    Red stood perfectly still, frozen in absolute silence, his eyes fixated on the building that stood before him. He had seen this building in pictures and had had countless dreams about one day being Champion over the facilities that lay behind it and the surrounding mountains and tunnels, but though Red knew that this day had been coming for months, nothing could truly prepare him for reaching the Pokemon League.

    The Indigo League Headquarters was simply beautiful. It was painted an earthy brown that made it look natural, yet the glass windows were darkened and mirrored to make the entire building seem more secretive. A stone staircase led up to the entrance, with towering pillars supporting a section of the red. Red stared up towards the logo, a simple PokeBall dug into the stone. It was simple but Red felt more empowered by merely staring up at it. This building was only the entrance, the first stop in a long path towards getting to the Indigo League itself, but Red was more determined than ever to step inside this grand building that made the fields around them look just as glorious and prove what he had to show.

    "Oh there you are!" Leaf cried grumpily from behind him. "Did you have to race off like that? This is only a building, it would have stayed here if you had walked at the same pace as us!" Red refused to turn around but was able to catch the scene out of the corner of his eye: Leaf angrily walking out of a field of long grass, Charmander and Squirtle pushing through on either side of her. They all looked a bit annoyed, and Leaf was clinging to her bag as if it had her life inside.

    "Some Mankey just tried to steal my bag!" She fumed as they walked up to join Red. "Charmander and Squirtle kindly fought them off for me, which I greatly appreciate," she said in a lighter voice, smiling down at the two starters who smiled back. "It would have be nice if you'd been there to help though! What if I hadn't had time to send my Poke –,"

    "Isn't this building beautiful?" Red asked, ignoring all that Leaf had said. She noticed this and let out an angry growl, which Red again ignored. Not one to simply take have her fury ignored, Leaf lashed out, aiming for his legs. "OWWW!" Red yelled as Leaf kicked him in the right shin, making him double over in pain.

    "That's what you get for leaving us behind and ignoring me!" Leaf huffed, crossing her arms and fuming down at him, but her composure relaxed into a satisfied smile and she looked down at the starters, winking slyly in her delight. Red, however, was wincing in pain and clutching his leg, turning away from the building for the first time since his eyes had come across.

    "Thanks for that!" He hissed. "It's not as if I've got to walk everyday for the next few months!" He added in a huff. "It's not a crime to look at a building Leaf, and this is a building I have been waiting for years to see!" Leaf, Charmander and Squirtle all turned towards the long building that lay before them, surrounded by cliffs and trees and backing into the mountainous ranges ahead.

    "It isn't that nice of a building," Leaf mumbled. "I've seen nicer ones on Grand Designs Johto. There was this one house that the guy made entirely out of…," but Leaf came to a halt as Red managed to put pressure on his leg and stood up straight, giving her a very foul glare.

    "This isn't a matter of how pretty the building is," he snapped, "but it's about what the building represents! This is the entrance to Victory Road, the path all trainers will undergo in order to reach the Indigo League and take on the Elite Four and ultimately Casimer. This is the first place you must pass through and experience before advancing on with your dreams!" He scooped Charmander up and held him up to his face, the Lizard Pokemon rather stunned by the action. "One day Charmander, when I am a bit older and you are a Charizard, we will be the Champions of Kanto and the Indigo League, and we will fly overhead and examine all the area below us that we have passed through in order to achieve our dreams!"

    "Charmander Char," Charmander said, staring up in awe with a twinkle in his eyes to match Red's. The two became so lost in their fantasies that neither of them noticed as Charmander's tail swung around, his flame flickering against Red's jacket…

    "SQUIRTLE!" The Turtle Pokemon yelled, and a Bubble was quickly unleashed. Red and Charmander cried as they felt the bubbles bursting against them, but Red was even more shocked to realize the back of his jacket was flaming. Leaf laughed as Squirtle unleashed a bombardment of Bubbles, dousing Red in the water that soaked his hair and got through his layers of clothes.

    "Serves you right!" Leaf chortled once the flames were out, and Red glowered across at her as if it had been her fault, but she was enjoying her rivals downfall to much to care. "Let's go see how magnificent and powerful this glorious temple is on the inside than, shall we? Careful you don't set any smoke alarms off," she added, and continued to laugh as she picked Squirtle up and pranced up the steps. Red looked down at Charmander who lay in his hands, and his eyes narrowed as the orange Fire type stifled a smirk.

    "Don't push it," he huffed, and clung onto his starter as he followed Leaf up the stairs. The two walked in silence, all eyes turning around to examine the building as they approached. The pillars looked even grander and larger as they approached, reminding Leaf partially of jail bars as they passed through, the roof above them casting them in a dark shadow, leaving sunny Route 22 behind.

    The glass doors opened as they approached, revealing an open space that seemed to fill the entire building set out from the outside. The walls were painted the same colour as the exterior with a red carpet of a similar colour. However, the large space was relatively empty, with only a few armchairs and tables spread out as some of waiting area. Two desks were to the right, one with a nurse and a machine like the one that just healed their Pokemon, and the other currently closed but had a display of Pokemon supplies.

    "Wow, this is so impressive," Leaf said sarcastically, turning around the room to try and find something special about it, yet it simply looked like an oversized reception hall. Red was rather stunned at how bland the room was, but he wasn't going to let Leaf see how disappointed he was.

    "They aren't going to waste their money making this bit look great," he huffed, saying the only excuse he could conjure up, though secretly wished it could have been better. At the very end he saw two more desks, along with another set of doors being guarded by a burly man. "Come on, that's the way to get to Casimer!" Red said excitedly, and he led the way towards the opposite end of the building. Leaf rolled her eyes and followed after, having the feeling that this would end horribly. There was a person behind each desk, which as they got closer seemed to have a different purpose: the one to the left was for people to register who didn't go through an authorised person like Professor Oak, and the second was for showing your badges and being allowed onwards. Only one person was there, filling in forms at the registration desk, meaning it was easy for Red to get right to the front of the line.

    "Hello there," the woman behind the desk said. "That is an adorable Charmander you have there! I am guessing you only just started your journey?"

    "Yeah, I started yesterday from Pallet Town," Red replied, glancing towards the sliding doors behind the guard and unable to contain his excitement. "I was just hoping I'd be able to go on and see Casimer please." The woman continued to smile, but it faltered for a moment and there was a concerned look in her eyes.

    "Do you have any gym badges on you?" She asked quietly, knowing what the answer would be. Leaf rolled her eye and shook her head down at Squirtle: Red wasn't going to get through without any badges, something he should have known if he was such an expert. He had been stunned into silence, and Leaf turned towards the girl filling in forms next to them, feeling like striking a conversation. But she was just about to ask her a question when she noticed a bag at the girl's feet, one Leaf instantly recognized.

    "Susie?" She gasped, and the girl turned around. The tall blonde had had been staring intently at the forms when she turned, but her expression instantly softened once she recognized her best friend from Pallet.

    "Oh my god, Leaf!" Susie screamed, dropping the forms on the desk and pulled her friend in for a hug. "I tried to get my father to wait for you guys to get back from Viridian yesterday so I could say goodbye, but we had to leave and I didn't think I'd see you again for months!"

    "Same here!" Leaf shrieked, ignoring Squirtle's discomfort at getting wedged in between their hug. "I sooo wanted to say goodbye! But it seems you may be joining us?" She asked, staring down at the forms that lay next to them. Susie nodded excitedly, blonde hair whacking Squirtle's head due to her enthusiasm.

    "I told my father I didn't want to go to Johto, and he asked me what I wanted to do instead, and I just decided right then and there that I want to go on a journey and see my friend!" She explained with a wide smile on her face. "I mean, I already have a bag packed, and I have that Spearow I caught when those league promoters came to our school."

    "That Spearow is so crap though!" Leaf laughed, and Susie laughed as well before shrugging.

    "I think the two of us will do well together," she replied with a smirk. "But I really should finish filling this all in before I get too ahead of myself," she said, picking the forms and a pen up once again.

    "You probably should," Leaf chortled, "and I should see how Red is doing," she added, turning back towards her companion and wondering if he had been shooed away yet. However, she was surprised to see Red clinging onto the table, putting his PokeDex down and rummaging through his bag.

    "Young man, you cannot go into Victory Road without eight badges!" The woman said, all kindness out the window as Red tried to find a way through. "If you are that desperate to get into the Indigo League Complex, there is a visitor's entrance that opens for special events!"

    "But there isn't a special event on today, and I need to see Casimer!" Red insisted. "I have a PokeDex that Professor Oak got me, is that not enough to get me through?" The security guard was making his way over now, and Leaf knew she had to intervene, glancing around to see all eyes were watching the commotion.

    "Red, just drop it!" She hissed into his ear, trying to pull him away but he pulled his arm away.

    "Listen to your friend," the guard said in his deep voice. "This isn't some game kid! Victory Road is too much to handle with just a Charmander and whatever other Route 1 Pokemon you have on you. Come back when you're a proper trainer, not just some kid going on an adventure!" Red glared at both the guard and the woman behind the desk, both of whom had height over him and loomed overhead. Leaf thought he might lash out or order Charmander to attack, and sighed briefly with relief as he scooped everything into his bag in one sweep.

    "Fine then!" He snapped. "I'll just have to prove to you I'm a real trainer than, won't I?" And he swung his bag over his back and picked Charmander up, turning around and storming off before Leaf even knew what was happening.

    "Where are you going?" She yelled, wheeling after him.

    "I'll go and get my first badge and prove these wankers that I'm a real trainer!" Red shouted back, passing the desks and getting closer to the doors. Leaf gasped, knowing perfectly well that he wasn't ready for his first gym battle yet and quickly set off after him.

    "I have to go sorry Susie, but I'll meet up with you later if I can!" She called back to her friend, but set off before checking if she had heard. Even though she started running, Red still had an advantage and was already out the door, and by the time Leaf had joined him outside Red was over a small ledge and jogging back towards Viridian.

    "Damnit," she cursed, and clung tighter to Squirtle as she began sprinting off, having to catch up to Red before he did something stupid.

    ***

    Blue was not a person who usually got nervous, simply getting cockier whenever he was in the wrong to cover up his worry. But no amount of boastful talk was going to do him any good as he faced off against Ivor.

    He stood in the same spot Amber had occupied a few minutes ago, Bulbasaur in front of him at roughly the same size as Farfetch'D. Ivor stood pompously opposite, his Tauros looming over both Blue and Bulbasaur as he pawed at the ground. It was a fight that was relatively unfair yet stupid of Blue to agree to: Bulbasaur only had Tackle, Growl and Leech Seed at his disposal, while Tauros had a powerful Headbutt and who knew what else in his arsenal.

    Blue had always imagined that when it came to battles it would be fair: either they were on an even scale and had no idea what to expect, or if facing off against a gym leader or powerful trainer, Blue would know enough to form a proper strategy. Yet he had run into this battle in a mix between the two, knowing what Pokemon he was facing but no idea what moves to use, all to try and impress a girl he had only exchanged a few words with. Blue glanced over at Amber, who was sitting over by the bags with a smirk on her face.

    Idiot! He told himself. You are only going to embarrass yourself in this battle, what were you thinking! But even though it had been a stupid move, part of Blue's hormonal teenage self still wanted the girl to be impressed by his actions. He wasn't sure what it was he found so attractive about her, but Blue just hoped she enjoyed the battle and he didn't make too big of a fool of himself.

    "Are you ready old chap? I don't have all day," Ivor called out in his posh drone. The rich boy was extremely annoying, his ego larger than any cocky disguise Blue could pull, and it was half the reason why he was annoyed about getting involved in the battle. But Bulbasaur seemed determined to battle, and Blue was willing to give this a shot.

    "I've been ready for minutes," Blue said with a smile, and Ivor let out a dull laugh.

    "Very well then, I'll let you have the first move!" He called. Blue nodded and examined Tauros, wondering what ways he could use the few moves available to weaken the opponent.

    "Start off with a Leech Seed!" Blue commanded.

    "Saur Bulba," Bulbasaur cried, and a small green seed rose up from his bulb. The Seed Pokemon bent down and fired the seed forwards, which began to open and unleash vines. Tauros didn't know what it was going to do and remained still, allowing the seed to touch his head and engulf him in vines. They wrapped all around his head and neck, causing the Wild Bull obvious discomfort.

    "Is that your best move?" Ivor scoffed. "This battle is going to be over a lot quicker than I anticipated! Tauros, use Iron Head!" Blue was annoyed at the jibe, but he had a feeling that his opponent was right as Tauros began to charge forwards, vine wrapped head pointed down, horns pointed threateningly.

    "Move!" He shouted to Bulbasaur, but the Seed Pokemon was already ahead of him, leaping to the side as Tauros stampeded past. The giant Normal type nearly hit Blue, who leapt out of the way as well. A loud smoker's laugh rose up from the seats, and Blue flushed with embarrassment that Amber found this so amusing, but cheered up as he saw that green energy was being pulled out of Tauros through the vines and being transferred across to Bulbasaur's bulb.

    "Not such a stupid move now, is it?" Blue said with a triumphant smirk as he leapt back to his feet, beaming down at Bulbasaur before giving Ivor a cocky smile. The well dressed teenager looked rather annoyed by the missed attack and Leech Seed's effects but offered no comment on it. "Alright Bulbasaur, Tackle!" Blue ordered confidently, quickly moving out of the way as the grumpy Tauros turned back towards the field. He was sure that this move would go well, even if not very effective, as Tauros would always get annoyed and could go on a rampage.

    "Bulba Bulba Bulba!" Bulbasaur cried, charging forwards as fast as his little legs would allow him to. Blue was engrossed in to see how much Bulbasaur would be able to pull off, so engrossed that he wasn't focussing on Ivor. The rich boy was smiling smugly, even though Blue had a mild advantage in the battle at the moment. It wasn't until Blue's eyes had followed Bulbasaur closer to Tauros that he saw the smile and realized something was wrong.

    "Tauros, use Iron Head, now!" Ivor boomed. Blue was shocked, and even Amber stopped laughing in surprise at the order. Bulbasaur's momentum was keeping him going forwards, and Blue saw a look in his eyes as the Iron Head was ordered: he was shocked but determination burned throughout his body, not willing to give up just yet, and Blue was rather proud at his Pokemon's strength.

    "SAUR!" Bulbasaur yelled, leaping up and flying through the air. Tauros turned around, the Leech Seed wrapped around his head and upper legs parted so that he was able to stare directly at his opponent coming towards him.

    "TAUROOOO!" He boomed, his horns flashing silver and passing through to his forehead. Bulbasaur was coming directly for that area, and Tauros merely swung his head forwards. Blue gasped as the Iron Head collided with Bulbasaur, the force behind the attack blasting Bulbasaur backwards. Ivor casually moved asides as Bulbasaur crashed to the ground, rolling rapidly forwards as if he was a plastic bag caught in a breeze.

    "Bulbasaur!" Blue gasped and ran forwards before the Seed Pokemon had stopped rolling, quickly crossing the bare fields and reaching his starter. The Grass type lay limply on the ground, eyes shut and no sign of movement. Blue couldn't quite believe it: in just one attack, Tauros had managed to knock Bulbasaur out.

    "I… I can't believe this," Blue whispered as footsteps came towards him. "It was just one move… how did he do that?"

    "Tauros is a very powerful Pokemon at the best of times," Amber said behind him, tossing a few berries onto the ground, "but sending out a Bulbasaur that I am guessing is low levelled isn't going to do well. You should have used a higher levelled Pokemon or turned the battle down, not endanger your Bulbasaur like that." Blue nodded, taking the berries and putting them down Bulbasaur's throat, knowing they'd have some healing properties.

    "Our biking friend is quite right," Ivor droned behind the pair. "If I had known you were such a stupid and inexperienced trainer than I wouldn't have bothered with such a brief and pointless battle. I doubt Tauros is going to gain anything from that battle and I certainly haven't." Blue angrily turned around, glaring across at the overly dressed boy that stood several metres away, a sly smirk spread across his entire face.

    "I am not stupid or inexperienced!" Blue hissed, unable to contain his fury. "Bulbasaur outsmarted Tauros that first turn, remember that!"

    "If that is going to be your only claim to fame than why not just give up now?" Ivor sneered pompously. "Your not going to get very far with a small Pokemon like that: why not just move on to some other endeavour, eh?" Blue leapt to his feet, ignoring a warning look on Amber's face, and pointed aggressively at the rich boy.

    "I don't care what you think!" He hissed. "I am going to be an excellent trainer once I have been travelling for more than two days! My friends and I fought off some murderous woman that attacked us yesterday. I'd like to see you fight someone like that off without pissing your hundred dollar underwear!" Ivor glared at this, but quickly went back to his smirk and turned away.

    "You seem like all talk Blue," he called out as he pulled the Leech Seed off Tauros' face. "Why don't you actually prove you have what it takes to be the best?" Amber stepped in front of Blue, opening her mouth to say something, but Blue was so furious that he completely ignored her: he had not come on this journey to be mocked and belittled by someone who didn't even look or act like a trainer, he had come on it in order to prove his abilities and that he had what it took. He had lost his first real battle, and now Blue was been given a challenge to redeem himself, and he wasn't going to turn it down.

    "Very well then," he snarled back at Ivor, ignoring the girl that he had put himself into this situation for in the first place. "I will go and challenge the Viridian City Gym and win, and than I will use the badge to wipe the smirk off your face!"

    "Blue, don't do this, your being as moronic as him," Amber growled, but Blue ignored her and turned around, scooping a stirring Bulbasaur up into his arms. Ivor looked rather surprised but the delight was there in his eyes as Blue walked towards the stairs.

    "Very well then," he purred, "I shall meet you at the Pokemon Center in an hours time and we shall see just how brilliant of a trainer you are!" Blue simply nodded, marching determinedly up the staircase. In the back of his head, Blue knew he was being stupid, taking on a gym leader with only a barely conscious Bulbasaur and a Rattata. But he wasn't going to turn this challenge down, just like how he wasn't going to do whatever Red and Leaf wanted of him: this was his journey, and Blue was going to do things how he wanted.

    He just hoped that taking on the gym would be the right thing.

    ***

    "RED, STOP YOU IDIOT!"

    Leaf was breathless and her legs ached from running the entire length of Route 22 and chasing Red through the sprawling and relatively confusing streets of Viridian, but a few helpful locals pointed her in the direction of the gym, and now her travelling companion was back in her sights. Red was still walking briskly and Leaf would have easily caught up if she was in better spirits, but she needed a drink and felt like collapsing, in no state to chase after him.

    "SLOW DOWN OR I'LL THROW SQUIRTLE AT YOU!" Leaf shouted, clutching her sides with one hand as she held her Pokemon in the other. She glanced down to see Squirtle glaring at her. "Oh, it was just a threat!" She groaned, coming down to a walk and moving slowly forwards. She glanced towards the building they were approaching, to tired to even care that this was the first gym she was setting eyes upon.

    The Viridian City Gym was easily the largest building in the city, and possibly larger than necessary, very narrow but quite long with a curved roof. Asides from the size, nothing else was particularly memorable about it: the walls were a plain white, with brown used for the roof and the little amount of windows there were. A sign hang plainly above the door, bearing the name in brown writing with a PokeBall to the side. Though the outside looked bland, Leaf got the instant feeling that the boring design was some sort of disguise, hiding something that occurred in the oversized building.

    She would remember this thought weeks later as she stood in the exact same spot, knowing what truly lay behind the walls, and knowing that she had been right to doubt that stood out more from its attempts to be conspicuous.

    But at this moment, Leaf was focussed on getting Red and getting away from the gym before he did something stupid. She was glad to see he had come to a halt near the entrance, and jogged the last few steps to join him. Leaf was about to start telling him off but froze, stunned to see who Red had stopped by.

    "Why are you two here?" Blue asked grumpily, staring over at the two with Bulbasaur in his hands. "Weren't you going to see Casimer?"

    "And didn't I tell you to stay at the Pokemon Center?" Leaf snapped, furious to see that her cousin was at the gym as well. "Come on, we're going there now!"

    "NO!" Both boys said firmly at once, moving towards the glass doors that seemed locked behind them. Charmander and Bulbasaur exchanged rolling eyes at their trainers stupidity, but Squirtle was too frightened at being held in Leaf's arms as she glared angrily at her companions.

    "I need to get this badge Leaf and I am not going until I get it!" Red fumed.

    "Same here!" Blue said. "I need to prove that dick Ivor what I am capable of!"

    "I don't care what you two want!" Leaf snapped. "You only have your starters that you got yesterday and a Rattata that you also got yesterday! This is not the smart thing to do! The intelligent thing to prove yourselves would be to train properly and sweep through all the gyms, not get your asses kicked on your first go!"

    "You don't understand Leaf!" Blue snapped. "You only came on this journey so you could get out of Pallet, you don't care about the League at all!" Leaf was shocked by this, more for the fact it was partly true, but still annoyed Blue had used it against her. She raised a fist, ready to let Blue see how serious she was, but froze as the sound of a sliding door came behind them.

    Red and Blue turned around, initially excited at what may lay in the gym behind them. However, they quickly became dismayed when all they could see was darkness: the windows were all blackened so no one could see in, and very little light got through either. Despite this depressing view into the area, the two exchanged looks and went tyo step forwards, ready to see what lay inside.

    "Not so fast," a voice said quietly from the shadows. The three all froze, their Pokemon seizing up in their hands: there was something unnatural about the way the man, who was clearly masculine. They way he spoke sent chills down their spines, his formal tone seeming friendly but having some degree behind it that made him seem very unfriendly.
    "It isn't usual for people of your age to roam here by themselves," the man continued, the coldness between him and the stunned trainers remaining, "especially not children with such… inexperience as yourselves. You will not stand a chance to win against me now, so you might as well leave before you make fools of yourself." Leaf was quivering in fear as the man continued to speak, the words seemingly flowing from the darkness. Red and Blue tried to remain tough despite the fear that was now coursing through their bodies, but the mention of their inexperience pushed them back to their previous state of mind: they were not going to take any insults from someone who didn't even know them, someone who had no idea what they were capable of.

    "Oh really?" Blue snarled. "Why don't we just battle you now and prove what we do have?" He looked down at Bulbasaur, and the Seed Pokemon quickly snapped out of his fear, leaping down to the grass below and glaring over at where the voice was coming from. Charmander and Squirtle exchanged nervous glances, but they too leapt down from their trainer's arms, advancing towards the darkness.

    "Squirtle, no!" Leaf gasped as laughter emitted from the dark.

    "It seems your Pokemon are just as foolish as you are," the man said with a slight purr. "Oh how easy it is for these magnificent creatures to adapt to the mentalities of the people who gain control of them?" There was a clicking sound, and a gloved hand rose from the shadows, the black and yellow coloured Ultra Ball glinting in the light. "Very well children, you have your wish: I will battle each of you at once, and prove how pointless your trip is." And before anyone could say anything, the ball opened up, yellow energy coursing towards the light. The light cast a brief shadow of the man who was intimidating them, showing his average to tall height and thin, possibly muscular body, but his face and body were hidden by a dark cloak and hat. Leaf was intrigued to know more of the man, but all their attention was diverted as the creature formed before them.

    "NIDOOOO!" The purple creature yelled, but despite the typically feminine colour, the beast was just as frightening as the Arbok they had encountered yesterday. It loomed over them, glaring with beady green eyes on either side of a long, sharp horn, flexing arms as thick as trees topped off with vicious claws, thrashing a long tail that could easily knock them aside.

    "It's a Nidoking…," Red whispered, staring at the Poison-Ground type flexing in front of them. The Nidoking glared towards the three Pokemon waiting before them, and even Bulbasaur began cowering in fear at the vicious looking Pokemon that could quite easily crush them.

    "Is that blood on its claws?" Leaf whispered fearfully. She wished more than ever that she could be back at the Indigo League talking to Susie and not trapped in this battle, and Red and Blue exchanged nervous glances, not sure what they had gotten themselves into.

    "I think you all know how foolish you all are," the man laughed, "but I am not bothering to wait around for you to try and show yourselves. The weakness you all possess is painfully obvious, yet your own self centred views of your greatness is also plain to see, and what you three truly need to be competent trainers is to realise your faults early on! Nidoking, Earthquake!" The man did not raise his voice once during his little speech, but the words shook the three and made them feel cold and weak. Did they really have such selfish but false views of themselves? Was there little point in carrying on their journey?

    "NIDOOOOO!" Nidoking roared, the cry so loud that the three had to cover their ears, all worries about what the mysterious man said leaving their minds. The roar was so painful that they wondered if the world would split around them, tears stream down their eyes and their heads pounding.

    Unfortunately, it only got worse.

    Nidoking lifted his leg up and slammed it against the ground. The three starters had all been thrown off by the cry, completely forgetting the attack that had been order. Suddenly the ground was shaking as if a bomb had erupted beneath them, causing the entire world around them to shake and judder. Leaf screamed as she collapsed to the ground, and Red and Blue struggled to stay upright for much longer. The entire ground vibrated as they all fell, heads banging against the hard but unstable surface, not able to see straight as the clouds in the sky above looked as if they were being tossed around by an angry toddler.

    Yet it all stopped as quickly as it had started. The three came to a sudden stop: Leaf breathing deeply and quickly, digging her fingers into the ground for safety, while Blue lay helplessly on the ground, not sure what had just happened. Only Red had the strength to look up, his body aching from the violent shuddering but desperate all the same to see what had just happened.

    Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur lay still and silent on the grass, no signs of movement anywhere on their bodies. Red felt a pang in his heart, knowing that his selfishness and desperation to prove himself had played a part in this terrible and brutal defeat happening. His eyes caught sunlight reflecting off the windows, showing the building to be in the same condition, no visible damage from the violent Earthquake. The only significant change was that the initiator of the attack was no longer there, Nidoking retracted by his still invisible trainer.

    "You foolish, foolish children," the man hissed, Leaf and Blue looking around to face the scene. "You stupidly put your Pokemon in this position and allowed them to be disgraced and defeated, simply in some attempt to prove your own worth. I have never met such a sorry bunch of trainers, even if you have only just begun. I wish you never grace my gym again, unless you all return as competent and intelligent trainers that know how to act." And with that, the doors suddenly slid closed, cutting them off entirely from the shadowed man.

    Silence fell across the grass, the three trainers unsure what to do now. Red and Blue exchanged looks, knowing that the man had been right that this did come down to being their fault, though they didn't want to admit it to themselves. They glanced across at Leaf, unable to look at themselves, but found her staring directly towards Squirtle with teary eyes. She couldn't believe that this had happened, her beloved starter lying so sombrely on the grass as if he had just fallen asleep. Unable to take ti any longer, Leaf stood slowly up, wiping the tears away, and scooped Squirtle into her arms. Without another word to either Red or Blue, she turned around and walked silently towards the Pokemon Center. Not knowing anything else to do, Red and Blue picked their starters up as well and followed after, each one of them thinking about what had just happened and what the shadowed gym leader had told them, each step making them more disgusted with themselves.

    ***

    "Here you three go. Good to see you got some training done today, but maybe don't overdo it next time!"

    "Thanks," Red said half heartedly, smiling weakly at the same nurse who had served them before. He grabbed the three PokeBalls from their tray and took them across to Leaf and Blue, who lay slumped in armchairs right next to the sign of Casimer. Red felt even more disappointed as he stared across at the Champion, sitting perfectly calm and posed as if he had nothing at all to worry about. Red wondered what had possessed him to take off to the gym like that, endangering all Charmander for nothing. The guard wouldn't have even let him through with one gym badge. Red had gone charging off thinking it he would prove himself as an amazing trainer, but any win would have been a fluke that could have endangered Charmander.

    Blue took Bulbasaur's PokeBall back without another mention of thanks; too busy staring down at the table between him and Leaf. He had tried to impress Amber and show off to Ivor, but neither of them was here waiting to see what had happened to him. It had all been a rash act, trying to make himself look good and show off to people he barely even knew. Blue didn't know what to do, turning his attention now towards the PokeBall that contained his brave and bold Bulbasaur: he had fought because he wanted to get better and wanted to gain new abilities, not to try and show off to a wild duck or bull.

    Despite not intending to go to the gym, Leaf found herself feeling the worst. She didn't even acknowledge Red as he sat down, taking Squirtle's PokeBall as it was placed on the arm but staring down at the table as well. She hadn't even wanted to battle, yet she had let Squirtle walk forwards and face the Nidoking. Shouldn't she have done more to stop him? There was no knowing that the gym leader would have sent out such a vicious and powerful Pokemon, but Leaf should have done something to stop Squirtle from fighting, otherwise she was no better than Red and Blue for willingly letting Charmander and Bulbasaur step forwards while she shook in fear and did nothing.

    A tense silence remained between the three, no one uttering a word. Only yesterday they had all awoken excited and ready for the adventures that lay ahead on their journey to the Indigo League. Now they were nearing the end of their second day, and already they felt defeated, as if they had walked all around Kanto in one day and ended up back in Viridian. The words of the shadowed man played on their minds, unable to shake the feeling that he was right: they had acted selfishly and recklessly, and weren't ready to face any gym leader. No one had said a word about it, but they were all thinking the same thing: was there any point to carry on with their journeys?

    Their answer came in quite an unusual form.

    The doors slid open, a single person walking in with a Farfetch'D resting on their shoulder. Blue had his back turn, but caught Red and Leaf's faces as their eyes were drawn towards the person walking in and he couldn't help but turn around as well. A slight smile crept onto his face as Amber walked towards him, his heart skipping a beat at the same time he figured her appearance might cause Red and Leaf to raise their eyebrows.

    "I was wondering if either one of you would show up," Blue said, trying to sound happy but the effects of what had happened lingering on his mind.

    "Ivor got bored, as I imagine he would do so easily, and left almost a minute after you'd left," Amber explained, jumping over the seat's back and landing neatly on the cushion, her Farfetch'D barely even swaying. "This town has no life after four' o'clock so I thought I'd come and how badly your ass got kicked." Blue smirked half heartedly but looked off distantly, and it only took one glance around at Red and Leaf to see they had similar expressions. "Oh, let me guess: you all went to battle the gym leader and you all lost?"

    "In a way," Red said stiffly, staring suspiciously at the girl who had invaded their private time. Amber rolled her eyes dramatically and stared across at Farfetch'D. The Wild Duck nodded at the look, and turned towards Blue with the onion raised.

    "FAR!" He squawked, whacking it across his head. Blue was so stunned that he merely shouted out, clutching his head and looking around in shock, but the Normal-Flying type leapt across the table and whacked Red and Leaf on the knees, making them kick out.

    "Look here girl, I don't know who you are or why you're here, but you can't just come across and get your Farfetch'D to hit us!" Leaf snapped, clutching her legs, but Amber brushed the comment asides as she got to her feet.

    "You three are just being stupid," she scoffed in her smokers voice. "I don't know you two at all, but I guess if you're hanging out with a guy who sent his Bulbasaur out against a Tauros than you can't be that intelligent than. So what if a gym leader defeated you on your first try? You only started your journeys like, what, this week? There are another seven gyms out there, and you can go against them when you have more than your starters and three moves at your disposal. Don't act stupid and get so emotional about one loss when you have the rest of Kanto ahead of you!"

    "Fetch Far!" Farfetch'D chimed in as Red, Leaf and Blue exchanged looks, not quite sure what to say.

    "If you'll excuse me, we'll be going to our room now," Amber said with a dramatic eye roll. "See you around Blue. Hopefully you'll have grown a pair by the next time we meet," and with that, the girl with the multicoloured hair turned and left the three to their thoughts. Her words hanged above them, none of them quite sure what to make of it, but Red's eyes were drawn back towards the image of Casimer sitting in his chair, his famous words showing underneath.

    "She's right," Red said, his friends turning towards him. "I don't know who that was, but she is right: this is only our first city, we still have all these other places to go to. There's no point in giving up now when we have barely even done anything."

    "But that guy –,"

    "Who cares what that gym leader said? He doesn't know us at all," Red replied quickly. "He seemed a bit creepy as well, and I have a feeling he wanted us to quit, but I don't really care about him! We'll return here in about two months with a Charizard, Blastoise and Venusaur respectively, with a full team of six and amazing Pokemon that will show him that he's wrong."

    "Your right," Blue said, leaping up. "We can get better, we can become more sensible trainers. There's no point letting what happened on our first proper day stop us from living our dreams. That gym leader is just some sadistic dickhead: we were meant to be on this journey!" He and Red turned towards Leaf, who was still clutching her knee from where she had been hit. She was staring down at the table again, thinking about what had been said and trying to form her own opinion.

    "I think….," she began, looking up to them with a smile. "I think that we should come back here with the next seven badges and show that shadowed dickhead what we're made of!" Red and Blue let out a cheer, and the three stood up, considerably brighter than when they first come in. Though the fact they had taken such a foolish risk and let their Pokemon get so badly injured lingered on their minds, they felt better in the knowledge that soon these mistakes would be ratified: they and their Pokemon would become stronger together, and soon the Viridian City Gym Leader would see what they are truly capable of.

    ***

    Within a few hours, darkness had spread across the city, nitghtfall sending the already quiet city into a state of stillness as not a single person or car stirred the silence. Red, Blue and Leaf quickly fell asleep from the events of their day, their Pokemon by their sides, each of them shaken by the events but knowing it was just a stepping stone on their path to greatness.

    But at the place where they had suffered this downfall, it was much livelier inside than the outside would imply.

    Giovanni sat in his chair once more, a glass of red wine clutched in his hands though he had yet taken a sip from it. He glanced across at two of his admins that waited for him to speak: Arianna stood still and quiet, her failure yesterday leaving her in the bad books, whilst a man stood alongside. He wore long white pants that went down to polished white shoes, and a long white vest over a black top which covered any skin that would have otherwise been exposed. The only colour on his clothing was a red R embedded on a black crest, with a black belt holding his pants up. It was funny how he wore such a dull outfit, when his thin, pale, elfin face was topped with short turquoise hair, matching eyebrows raised in a manner that made him look feminine and mysterious. His name was Archer, and part of Arianna's stillness was to not do or say anything to give him the chance to make any snide remark. He was manipulative and sly, excellent at breaking in and getting things done but also brilliant at talking down to anyone he saw as beneath him and his standards, and upsetting him or being near him when he failed would not end well for you.

    Yet Giovanni didn't care for the personalities or temperaments of the people that worked for him. As long as they got the job done, he didn't care what they did as long as it was the right thing and as long as he reaped the benefits.

    "How has the search gone?" Giovanni asked in the same cold voice he had used to address Red, Blue and Leaf. Arianna kept her face blank as she stepped forwards, noticing a smirk coming from Archer as she did so.

    "I am sorry to say that the only information I have found on them was their Pokemon League Registration, and they only led information back towards him and his lab," she explained, hoping that it wouldn't cause any more disappointment in her bosses eyes. Giovanni merely nodded, his lips even curling slightly.

    "I would expect nothing less from Professor Oak," he said, placing his glass down and even laughing slightly. "I would have liked to have found out more about them before they died, but I can live without the information. Thank you Arianna, let me know if anything comes up," he added, and Arianna nodded, knowing he was done with her and moving backwards. Archer took it as his turn to step forwards, moving quickly and elegantly, smiling in a rather smug manner.

    "They will have to pass through Viridian Forest if they are to get to Pewter," Giovanni explained. "Make sure they don't make it out alive." Archer nodded quickly, but his mouth was open slightly, a false and overdramatic look of concern on his face.

    "Giovanni, pardon me for asking, but I was merely wondering…. Why did you not kill the children today whilst they were within reach?" He asked, his voice rather high and hinted at a good upbringing in his posh tones. Giovanni nodded at this as well, keeping a straight face but both admins saw a flash of anger across his cold black eyes. He reached for his glass and raised it to his lips, taking a single sip as he choose his words carefully.

    "It would have been foolish… no, moronic, to kill them outside my own gym," he explained quietly. "Oak, Bill, Casimer, the whole damn lot of them already suspect something, and murdering those three that are meant to defeat me is not going to calm their suspicions. When you do murder them, make it look like an accident: it will be plainly clear we are responsible, but the World Council will have no proof, and as they rush around to find something, Pewter City Museum will have already fallen, and there will be nothing they can do." Archer nodded at this, and Giovanni waved his hand as he went for his glass again. The admins took this as their cue to leave and turned, walking quickly from the office without another word. Giovanni raised his glass and turned to a darknened window, this time turning his attention towards the towering trees of Viridian Forest that were visible even from this distance.

    "Soon…," he whispered, taking a longer sip of his glass, " soon I will have succeeded," he hissed to himself, "and those children won't have gotten their acts together in time to save me. Their heads will hang from my wall before Oak even knows they are dead," and at this Giovanni began to laugh, the sound not even showing any remote signs of humour or enjoyment, merely cruel coldness as he thought of his own dreams of success, his own dreams of reaching the Indigo League and conquering the world.

    Yet Giovanni's ideas of conquering would have very different outcomes: not just for Kanto, but, if he got his way, the entire world.




    I hope you enjoyed the second part of the series! The third part will hopefully come sooner than this one. Anyone whose read 8ES may have noticed a little shout-out to our main character ;)

    ^^^^ The GalacticVerse Bibliography (Thanks to Blazaking for Banner) ^^^^

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    Default Re: The First Warriors: Chapter 2

    Sorry for the large delay between updates. I hope the next break will not be as long as this, and I will try and update more frequently whenever possible. Hope you enjoy the mystery that gets built up during this chapter!


    The Shadows in the Trees

    June 12th 2008

    "I told you that taking the left path was the wrong one!"

    "Oh what would you know Leaf: just because your name is related to them doesn't mean you know forests!"

    "Excuse me? I am following the map, you arrogant dick! It said on the map to go right, and you went left, and now we're lost!"

    "We are not lost; we just aren't going as fast as you want! The right path would have doubled back onto Route 2 anyway!"

    "If we were on Route 2, then at least we wouldn't BE LOST!"

    Blue sighed and sank further into his makeshift seat of leaves and sticks. He, Red and Leaf were in an open clearing of the Viridian Forest, a perfect square marked by trees on all sides. The branches and leaves were so close together that the sun could barely get through, though the breaks in foliage showed there were grey clouds overhead. There's a storm coming alright, Blue thought as he stared towards Red and Leaf with about as much interest as he'd give to a show he'd seen several times before.

    For the past four days, the trio had been travelling through the forest, traversing the wide open fields and leaf covered paths through the towering columns of trees on either side. It was actually a beautiful place, filled with trainers that they took turns with battling, and a new breed of wild Pokemon to view: Caterpies and Weedle alike climbing up trees with Metapod and Kakuna stuck there like decorations, the occasional Butterfree or Beedrill flying overhead. Red even claimed he saw a Pikachu within a bush, but by the time they had gotten there it was gone.

    The first day had been wonderful: they spent the whole time exploring the new place unlike anything they had experienced before, taking in the beauty and using the long day to train their Pokemon and get them ready for the impending first gym battle. However, by the end of the second, the bickering had begun: Red and Leaf never seemed to agree on anything and they were constantly debating which path to take and if the previous one was the right one. Blue stayed silently out of things, but was starting to get annoyed with the continuous arguing that only got worse the longer they spent in the forest: they both went to sleep arguing and within five minutes of waking up there some problem that 'needed' debating. If they didn't find an exit soon, there was no telling how things would end.

    "Blue, where do you think we should go?" Red said suddenly, pulling Blue out of his thoughts. His friend waved the map in front of his face, only making a tear that had occurred when Leaf had tried to take it off Red the previous day.

    "Oh… sure," Blue said, carefully taking the map and examining it. He could catch Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle snickering at him over their bowls and wanted to tell them off, but also wanted to stop Red and Leaf glaring at him as if they were interrogating him. "Umm… I can't even tell where we are from here… but it looks like there might be a path up ahead? I dunno, I am not good with maps."

    "Useless!" Leaf growled, and snatched the map from his hands. "Why do you both have to be such worthless little boys?" She turned the map around several times, looking just as confused as Blue had, but a smile crossed her face after a moment. "Ah-ha! I believe I have found us a path out of here!" Red and Blue leaned in and Leaf traced a path through the trees with her finger.

    "Pfft, that is the longest way out of here!" Red scoffed, and quickly showed off his own path. "If we go that way, we are sure to be out of here before the end of the day, and that means we'll have some time to train!"

    "Your all about training, aren't you?" Leaf growled, pulling the map away from his view. "Don't you care about getting out of here, or are you happy to rot away in this forest with all the weak little Bug types that you can easily toast!"

    "Are you implying something?" Red growled, but before Leaf could reply, Blue snatched the map from her hands and moved between the two.

    "I am SICK of you two fighting constantly!" He growled, staring angrily between them and saw their starters nodding along. "We are going to be travelling together for a while now, so you need to start getting use to each other. I was unsure about travelling with the pair of you as I know how much you fight, but after we got attacked I thought you two would be able to get along, so I put my worries aside. But now you have just proven my worries!" Red and Leaf both fell silent and stared away from each other, a guilty look crossing their faces. Blue kept his face serious, but was smiling inside, rather pleased with himself for being able to knock some sense into them.

    "I think I will go and investigate the nearest path, alright?" He said. "You two stay here and pack up, train, keep fighting, do whatever makes you happy! I'll be back within the hour once I have found us a path that will actually get us out of here! Try and enjoy the beauty while you can: this could be our final day here!" Blue added with a confident beam, but Red and Leaf merely shrugged, going back to glowering at each other. Blue ignored them though as he moved back towards his bag and scooped it up, tucking the map away into pants pocket.

    "Bulba Bulb?" Bulbasaur asked as Blue moved towards the widest space of trees, a sign they had agreed to take as meaning the path.

    "I just want some peace and quiet," Blue replied in a low whisper, casting an eye back towards his companions. "If I can find a nice comfortable log or something somewhere nearby where I can just lay back and shut my eyes for a little bit, I will be satisfied." Bulbasaur rolled his eyes but gave a knowing shrug at the same time, understanding exactly why his trainer was doing it even if he didn't agree.

    "See you guys soon!" Blue called waving back at them as he disappeared through the trees. Red and Leaf went to send him off at the same time, but froze when they saw the other move. Angrily, the two disappeared to opposite sides of the clearing, a vain attempt to put distance between themselves. Unfortunately, the leaf covered clearing was too small for them to get a relative distance away. They only had two tents and a small amount of supplies for making food out, and still they had to clamber over bags and plates to get anywhere. They brought all their rubbish with them, and it seemed to explode out whenever they stopped, and was currently crunching under their feet as it smothered the leaves.

    "Come on then Charmander, let's try and get some training done while we wait," Red said, scooping the Lizard Pokemon off the ground and moving towards one of the only clear spaces they had left. But as he wandered what they would do, a tiny laugh sounded behind him: Red instantly wheeled around to face Leaf, who was laughing to herself as she moved Squirtle towards her tent. "Something amusing?" He asked, his tone irritable. Leaf turned to face him smiling, bouncing her PokeBalls in her hand.

    "Oh, nothing much," she replied with false sweetness. "I was just thinking about how you never seem to actually battle anyone that stands a chance of defeating you. You just seem to train all day and do nothing to properly broaden your Pokemon's horizons!"

    "I battled all those trainers on the first day we were here!" Red snapped, clenching his fists, his face starting to match his name.

    "They only used Bug types!" Leaf laughed, her face showing her delight with the argument. "Charmander defeated them all so easily that I'm pretty sure that counts as a massacre rather than a battle."

    "Just because I have the type advantage doesn't make me the lesser trainer!" Red snapped. "You and Blue will have the advantage over Brock when it comes to battling him and you don't here me calling that unfair! I need to get Charmander's strength up before those battles come!"

    "Why don't you test your strength then by battling me?" Leaf said, and she let her PokeBalls fall back into her hand, a smile crossing her face. "How does a three-on-three sound? If I win, then we go my way out of here, and if you win, than we go your way out of here. Deal?" Red stared across at her, staring into her eyes and trying to see what she was playing at: her smile was making him uneasy, and there was a hint of something sneaky in her eyes that Red didn't like. He would never hear the end of it if he didn't agree to battle, and staring sideways at Charmander he could see the Fire type looked eager to go.

    "Fine, we can battle, but neither of us can use our starters first," Red said, staring at Squirtle as he said this: a Water type would defeat Charmander within the first few moves, and he knew that this was Leaf's intention. Indeed, her face sank slightly at this, and when she nodded her face was grim and stiff.

    "Alright, we'll play it your way," she growled, and she selected one PokeBall from her hand and placed the other two away. Red knew who she was going to send out first, and quickly grabbed his first one. "Weedle, GO!"

    "Caterpie, show us your stuff!" Red shouted, and they threw their PokeBalls in simultaneously. Both burst open in the middle of the field, red energy and light pouring onto the leaves. The two trainers had both caught a new Pokemon during their travels, and it was the first time they would properly be tested. On Red's side, the small green Caterpie with its large head and big eyes almost blended into the fallen leaves and grass that made up the field. Leaf's Weedle had a similar body to Caterpie, but was a golden brown with pink feet and a sharp white horn. Both of them looked small as they formed on the field, and if Red and Leaf had been sensible they would have waited to train them properly first before battling. Yet neither of them was thinking straight as they thought of how best to defeat the other.

    Charmander and Squirtle moved back towards each other as the first orders were commanded, and they settled down onto a log halfway between each trainer.

    "Charman Char Char Man Char," Charmander said, pointing at all the equipment they had left lying around and the tents that had not been taken down.

    "Squirt Squirt Squirtle, Till Squirt Till Till Squirtle Squir," Squirtle replied, rolling his eyes and leaning back on the log to wait the battle out. Charmander turned and watched as Poison Stings and String Shots were fired across the field, wondering why his trainer and Leaf were always fighting like this, and hoping that this fight between them would end before it ruined the journey.



    "Ahhh… this is why I wanted to travel…"

    Blue had found a wonderfully quiet place twenty minutes from their camp: at a point where the track became slightly wider, there was a long, nearly flat log that looked just as comfortable as trying to sleep on a hard, leaf covered ground. Blue found it supported his weight, and sprawled out across it with his bag resting on his chest. It wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world, but Blue was finally able to relax away from the squabbling of his travelling companions.

    There were a million different sounds to hear now that he was in a quiet place: Pidgey tweeting from the branches, the gentle flutter of wings as Butterfree moved overhead, the clicks of the Weedle evolutionary line, all coming together to make a general, gentle chorus of soft and beautiful sounds. A breeze blew through the branches, and Blue felt as if he was in paradise: no shouting, no one trying to attack him or harm him. He was finally getting a proper chance to explore a different world on his own, and being within this forest was more than he could have asked for.

    "Saur Bulba Bulba Saur!" Bulbasaur said suddenly, and Blue opened a sleepy eye to see the Seed Pokemon prowling around alongside the log, looking seriously towards the bushes that surrounded them.

    "What is it, is something there?" Blue asked and stared into the darkness of the trees and bushes himself. They didn't see any trainers yesterday and Blue had spotted none today, so it seemed about time for someone else to appear. However, through the bushes came only a small trio of Rattata, the group play fighting with each other as they ran briefly across the track and then disappeared into another bush, sending leaves and sticks flying.

    "Look, nothing to worry about!" Blue said with a sigh, leaning back onto the log. "Just try and relax Bulbasaur: you could do with a little bit of a break as well, and this could be our only chance for a while!" Without another thought, Blue shut his eyes and began to drift off within seconds, letting the noises of the forest take him away. He began to dream of himself standing in the middle of a stadium, surrounded by cheering people in the stands and a Venusaur and Raticate on either side of him. A faceless man was handing him a large golden trophy, overflowing with money, and Blue held it high above his heads as the crowd screamed 'Champion! Champion! Champion! Bulbasaur! Bulbasaur!'

    "Wait… what…" Blue mumbled, and his eyes burst open.

    "BULBASAUR!" The Seed Pokemon cried, and Blue could hear his vines smacking against something nearby. But Blue's attention was focussed upon something else as he eyed the gleaming silver blade of a knife as it was pressed against his nose.

    "You really shouldn't sleep in a forest, you never know who might be waiting in the trees," a female voice purred, followed by a laugh as the knife was pulled away. Blue remained pressed against the log in shock, stunned that he had let himself get attacked like this. "Ekans, leave the Pokemon along," the girl said, and there was a slight hiss from beneath Blue before a purple streak shot through the air and landed on the girl's arm. A serpentine Pokemon looked out at Blue with bright yellow eyes, and it hissed at him, spraying him for stinging spit.

    "Who are you, what are you doing here?" Blue asked, drawing his legs in and moving down the log away from the strange girl. Bulbasaur quickly leapt up onto the log, two vines out from his bulb ready to use Vine Whip if necessary. The girl laughed again and moved even closer, her body finally coming into some degree of light.

    "Your Bulbasaur has spunk, I like that," she said as Blue examined her: the girl was dressed in a rich purple robe that was tied together with a black belt, and this colour theme seemed to continue throughout her clothing. Her hair appeared to be either purple or black, tied back in a high ponytail, and she was wearing purple bracelets around her thin and pale wrists. The girl gave Blue a rich purple smile, and he stared into her almost black eyes as they examined him in return.

    "Are you some sort of ninja?" Blue asked, unable to help himself. The girl frowned at this, and her purple snake that Blue believed was an Ekans hissed at him in retaliation.

    "In a sense, yes," the girl said icily, "but I would rather not be called that. My name is Janine and I am in this forest for training. That was the information you requested, and now I ask what your name is and why you are here?"

    "My name is Blue, and I am on a journey with my cousin and my best friend towards the Pokemon League," Blue explained.

    "Two people you're travelling with? This wouldn't happen to be the boy dressed in red and the brunette girl that were arguing yesterday?" Janine asked with a slight scowl. "They interrupted my training."

    "I can only imagine," Blue replied, exchanging a slight smile with Bulbasaur. However, several questions were still on his mind, and nothing Janine had given him properly told him who she was or why she was there. "If you don't mind me asking, why did you attack me with a knife?"

    "I did not attack you," Janine said indignantly. "I merely wanted to surprise you. I saw several men dressed all in black skulking around here before and I have been trying to follow them, but they keep escaping me. I thought you were one for a moment, but you are just likely I realised my mistake before I embedded my knife in your throat." Blue was stunned at this and struggled to give his expression under control, but clutched Bulbasaur a bit too tightly in shock: so not only was she a ninja with a passion for purple, she was also an unobservant murderer… lovely.

    "I think I might head back to my friends now," Blue said, quickly leaping up and holding onto Bulbasaur as some form of defence. Janine was definitely pretty and seemed like she could be nice, but her strange attitude was a major put off, and Blue wanted to get away before he was either cut by her knife or attacked by her still furious looking Ekans.

    "You shouldn't travel by yourself, even if you have a Pokemon with you," Janine said, moving swiftly over the log and appearing only a centimetre next to him. "Those men I saw before did not look like the sort of people that you should confront alone. Let me walk back with you. I would probably feel bad if you turned up dead because of them."

    Probably fell bad? That's reassuring… Blue thought with a touch of anger, though now that she had brought up these men, Blue knew he would jump at every snap of a twig or every creak of branch that sounded near him. "Thanks, I think, I wouldn't mind some company. But what are you going to do once you drop me off?" Janine laughed as she began to walk forwards, her mouth forming a hollow purple circle.

    "You don't need to worry about me," she said, and suddenly spun around, her knife back in her right hand and pressed against his throat, "I know how to care for myself." Janine started walking ahead, her and her Ekans laughing to themselves, while Blue remained rooted to the spot in shock.

    "What have I gotten us into Bulbasaur?" Blue mumbled.

    "Saur Bulba Bulb," the Grass type replied with a sigh, and Blue merely nodded as he followed after Janine, hoping he wouldn't find her knife up against his throat any time soon.

    "He's on the move."

    From within the trees, a group of five watched the duo as they progressed. They were dressed all in black to make it easier to disguise themselves within the thick darkness of the closely packed trees. The only colour on their bodies was a red R on their chests, but it was too dark to see in the forests dim light. One stood before the others, watching Blue and Janine through binoculars.

    "He is heading back the way he came, but there is now a woman with him. Will that be a problem?" He whispered as to not disturb the forest Pokemon, and turned back towards their leader for the day: his turquoise hair made him stand out amongst the rest, but Archer refused to wear a hat, seeing it as the only way to separate himself from the grunts as they all wore the same.

    "No, it shall not be a problem at all," the Admin responded in his posh tones, wearing the same arrogant smile he had worn several nights ago in Giovanni's office, and he signalled with his hand for the grunts to move on: it was time to put an end to their foes, and the fact they had no idea made things even sweeter.



    "Tackle, now!"

    "Poison Sting, again!"

    Caterpie and Weedle both gave weary nods as they made to move once more. Red and Leaf stared fiercely at each other, both hoping to finally knock the other Bug out. Their Pokemon only knew two moves each, so it had been a constant replay of Tackle for Caterpie, Poison Sting for Weedle and a mixing of String Shot from the pair of them. Both of the Pokemon were now covered in the sticky string, and it weighed Caterpie down as she tried to move forwards. She was suffering from a bad bout of poison, while Weedle was being worn out by the weak by constant Tackles that came his way.

    "You should just put your poor thing out of its misery!" Leaf called out as Caterpie trudged her way through the undergrowth, the leaves barely parting for her.

    "Focus on your own Pokemon Leaf: if it's taking Weedle this long to do a Poison Sting, than you should be worried, not me," Red snapped back. Indeed Weedle looked tired, and only a slight purple glow was coming from the top of his horn. Charmander and Squirtle exchanged bored and irritated looks as they watched their team mates try to move, but the movements were feeble and taking forever. Nearly two minutes had passed before Caterpie finally reached Weedle, yet Red and Leaf barely seemed to notice as they tensely watched them move.

    "Cater Cat Cat!" Caterpie wheezed, and slammed into Weedle, forcing him to fire the purple sting off into the sky.

    "Weedle Wee," Weedle whimpered, and fell onto his back, landing amongst the undergrowth. Leaf gasped as Red let out a cheer that echoed throughout the silent area, and he punched the air in delight. Caterpie turned back towards her trainer and smiled brightly, but suddenly glowed purple from the poisoning: her eyes rolled back into her head, and Red paused as he watched the Worm Pokemon tip face-first into the leaves.

    "What just happened?" Red asked, looking at between Leaf and Charmander in confusion. "I thought we won…"

    "That didn't mean Caterpie wasn't poisoned!" Leaf said, her own smile appearing on her face. "Looks like the first round was a tie then! How unfortunate for you: just when you thought you had won, victory just slips away from your girly little fingers and leaves you with nothing. Poor little Reddykins." Red glared across at Leaf as she laughed hysterically, and he angrily brought Caterpie back.

    "Good job," he whispered to the PokeBall as he replaced it for a new one. "Rattata, let's show her some true strength!" The red energy that came out quickly formed into the curly tailed purple Rattata, who stood out much better than Caterpie and snapped his long front teeth at Leaf. Leaf stopped laughing to stare down at her new opponent, and quickly withdrew Weedle's limp body before he got any more damage.

    "Alright than, let's try this match up: Pidgey, let's blow away the competition!" She cried, and threw her own PokeBall into the air. The red energy hovered high above them all, and soon the brown-and-cream feathered Pidgey was soaring, unable to fly high due to the tightly bound branches but still hovering well out of Rattata's reach. "I will be kind and continue to let you go first, best friend Red," Leaf said, smiling deviously. Red was starting to really dislike her, more so than usual, and wanted to do anything to wipe the smirk from her face.

    "Flame Wheel!" Red yelled, refusing to give into Leaf's mind games. "If you can burn the leaves around you that would probably help our cause!" Leaf gasped, watching as Rattata clicked and quickly rolled into a tight ball and glowed red.

    "You will burn us all!" She cried.

    "Maybe, maybe not," Red said, and gave her a teasing wink that made her fume.

    "Pidgey, use Gust, but wait until he is in the air!" Leaf yelled. Pidgey nodded, and she stared beadily down as Rattata spun around in a circle on the spot. The red glow quickly turned to flames, and within seconds the spinning circle was flying up into the sky, leaving smouldering leaves and twigs behind. Everyone watched as Rattata soared towards Pidgey, the Tiny Bird Pokemon waiting eagerly for him.

    "PIDGEEEEEEEEY!" Pidgey cried, and flapped her wings furiously before Rattata could touch her. The Flame Wheel stopped less than metre from her, and quickly the flames were diminished as Rattata was sent falling. A storm of leaves were whipped into the air, and Red had to cover his face to stop them smothering him, and could only hear as Rattata land with a crunch on the ground.

    "Rattata, are you alright?" Red cried, looking down and expecting the worse, but was relieved to see the crunch had been the leaves rather than Rattata. "Let's try a Quick Attack now!"

    "Rata!" Rattata said with a nod, and he suddenly shot into the sky, a purple blur soaring towards Pidgey.

    "TACKLE!" Leaf yelled. Pidgey nodded, but was knocked backwards by Rattata before she could do anything else. Pidgey spun backwards, a ball of feathers out of control, and Rattata began to spin gracefully down. Once Pidgey had regained herself though, she quickly took off after him, tucking her wings in to get a resounding speed, and stuck her beak out so it would be the first thing to touch him…

    "RATA!" Rattata shouted as he was sent sprawling back to the earth, crushing another pile of leaves in the process. Red cursed his luck and shot Pidgey a glare as she flew on past, spinning around and heading back to her height advantage.

    "You aren't going to win if you don't have any Special moves!" Leaf called out. "Rattata is trapped on the ground and can't do anything without moving into Pidgey's territory."

    "I know that!" Red growled, irritated at being shown up. It was unfortunate that Rattata didn't know any, and Red hoped he would be able to teach him some soon, but the battle at the moment was his biggest priority. "Quick Attack again!"

    "Wait until he hits you and then go for a Sand Attack!" Leaf called, and Red gasped: this was the last thing he was anticipating, and wanted to change his order, but Rattata had already gone up into the air. Pidgey groaned as she was sent crashing back into a branch, snapping it clean off from the rest of the tree, and Rattata was smiling confidently as he rode the broken stick down to the ground.

    "Gee Gee Pidge!" Pidgey called and dived downwards again, though this time she didn't go anywhere near Rattata: Red watched angrily as she swooped down near Leaf's feet and swatted at the ground with an extended wing.

    "Try and bury your face in the ground!" Red called, and Rattata responded with a nod, but the blast of sand and sediment came too fast. The Mouse Pokemon cried out as he was blinded, rubbing tiny white paws against his eyes in discomfort. It would be much harder for him to get a successful hit in now, and Red wanted to throw something at Leaf in his rage, as she stood there smiling wickedly at him.

    "We still stand a chance Rattata! Let's go for another Quick Attack!" Red called, trying to sound hopefully and control his rage. Rattata nodded, a pained look still crossing his face, and he turned and ran towards where Pidgey had last been, trying to stay on the ground and get into the sky at the same time. However, Pidgey had flown higher than Rattata had known, and the Normal type fell back to the ground, rolling through the leaves in a painful way.

    "Hit him with a Gust!" Leaf called gleefully, and Pidgey instantly swooped down and flapped her wings again. The breeze was stronger now that she was closer, and Red felt himself being pushed backwards as Rattata was tossed high into the air, squealing in discomfort as he became entangled in leaves and sticks. Red pitied his Pokemon, knowing it was all his fault he was in this situation and wished he could have trained him better prior to this situation. However, as Rattata rose higher, Red realised that the height advantage now fell to them: Pidgey was resting on the ground watching her opponent, while Rattata had taken her place in the air.

    "Come back down and use Tackle!" Red yelled. "If you fall straight you will hit her!" Rattata managed to stop flailing long enough to here the order, and now he came back down, copying Pidgey by tucking his legs in for more speed. Leaf gasped at the switch and quickly turned to Pidgey.

    "Get up there and use Tackle, your faster!" She yelled. Pidgey nodded and pushed upwards, arching her wings to gain speed, and the two Pokemon came towards each other. Red, Leaf, Charmander and Squirtle watched as Rattata and Pidgey collided, teeth touching beak, and they both spiralled away from the other fell and towards the ground. Red rushed forwards as Rattata landed closer to the trees, kicking leaves aside as he moved to find his Pokemon. Pidgey had landed near Leaf, and she emerged from the leaves looking only slightly dazed. Red hoped to have the same, but was stunned when he found Rattata lying in the grass before them, unmoving, eyes shut, tail hanging droopily.

    "Rattata!" Red gasped, and picked him up in his eyes. The battle had passed much quicker than Caterpie and Weedle's, and Red was stunned to find his second Pokemon already unconscious. It only would have been a near loss, Red told himself and Rattata, you thought just as strongly as Pidgey did, and I will make sure we win for you.

    "Good try, but not good enough," Leaf said as Red brought Rattata back and Pidgey took up into the air again. "Looks like it is going to be Charmander now: just remember if he defeats Pidgey, it is Squirtle next." Red ignored Leaf as he signalled for Charmander to join him. The Lizard Pokemon moved quickly towards him, standing taller than Caterpie and Rattata combined, and gave Red a reassuring smile.

    "Charman Char Char," he said with a nod, and Red smiled back.

    "Let's make sure we win," he said, and Charmander nodded back in a more determined fashion before turning towards Leaf and Pidgey, flexing his tiny but sharp claws and swishing his tail flame around. Red looked around them and began to feel more confident: Charmander had plenty of attacks that could be unleashed without moving, and while Leaf had a type advantage in Squirtle, they had the field advantage… in a way.

    "Ember, go!" Red ordered, interrupting Leaf's attempts to make a remark. Charmander opened his mouth wide, a ball of fire quickly forming, and he fired it up towards Pidgey. Pidgey looked stunned and flew out of the way, sending the fireball towards the leaves. It exploded against them, taking out two branches and dozens of leaves, sending them falling down to the ground. Red smiled at the irony as charred leaves landed on stunned Leaf's hat, and he looked down at Charmander and winked.

    "I think I'm going to like this round."



    "Are you sure this is the way back to your camp?" Janine asked for what felt like the umpteenth time.

    "Yes, I'm sure!" Blue growled out loud. No, not in the slightest, he thought to himself, and stared around at the thick trees that enclosed them. Everywhere looked the same in Viridian Forest, and when Blue remembered his path diverged from the proper track for a short bit, he had accidentally diverged a bit too far. He had led them down the wrong path, and was trying desperately to make it seem right: for some reason, Blue felt like he needed to impress Janine. Maybe it was a hormonal, teenage boy thing, or maybe it was the fact she had a knife on her, but Blue didn't want to upset her.

    "Help me," he whispered to Bulbasaur, only just able to see his starter in the dim light and all green surroundings, but the Seed Pokemon only shrugged back, and Blue thought he caught a smirk on his face. "Gee thanks! I'll remember this when she wants to blame someone for –"

    "For what?" Janine asked, and Blue gasped and jumped, stunned to find her standing next to him. The unwilling ninja smiled at his shock, and Ekans flashed a devious grin, only to hiss a moment later when Blue gave her a strange look.

    "Oh, nothing… just talking about my cousin Leaf," Blue said nervously. "We seem to have damaged our map, so we can't find the proper route back!" Janine simply sighed and rolled her eyes, and she pulled a map out from somewhere on her robe, though there were no visible pockets Blue could notice.

    "Let's head back towards the path and try heading a different direction," she said, exchanging glances with Ekans. "This path seems to be leading us further into the forest, and when you interrupted my training yesterday, you and your companions were heading this way."

    "Ah, yes, of course," Blue said, nodding along even though he had no idea what was going on. He walked behind Janine, not willing to become the victim of any attacks, and tried to think of something to distract their minds from his forgetfulness. "So, I guess you have other Pokemon on your besides Ekans, or are you just training one at the moment?"

    "Both: I have others. I specialize mostly in Poison, I've grown up all around them," Janine replied. "However, I am trying to train Ekans to learn some of the teachings I had when growing up."

    "What, trying to be a snake ninja or something?" Blue asked, though this earned his a steely glare and a hiss, but who did what he wasn't sure.

    "If you want to be childish and refer to me as a ninja, then fine, I'm a ninja," Janine sighed, "yet the things I have learnt are far greater than anything you'd seen on one of those cheap films from the Unova Region. I have been taught how to use a variety of different weapons, including knives, staffs, swords, throwing stars, and a few lessons in firearms, though those aren't as interesting. I can make smoke bombs and potions to knock people unconscious, I know how to disguise myself into any surrounding, how to follow people in public areas, how to swing from vines. I spent years reaching my peak fitness on various assault courses, and reaching a peak IQ through many years of private and personal tutorials on a wide range of subjects, but mostly English, Sciences and Psychology. My senses are fine tuned, specifically sight and sound, so I can always tell whenever there is a disturbance around me…" Janine continued to list things, but Blue was beginning to drift off, watching her walk and talk in absolute astonishment: she was by far one of the most fascinating people he had ever met, even though she was only listing her skills rather than showing them. But it was an amazing resume, and Blue wanted to know all about her teachings and the skills she had learnt so he could learn the same sorts of things that sounded fascinating.

    "How are you teaching Ekans these skills then?" Blue asked when Janine paused for breathe.

    "I am teaching her how to be stealthy in battle and how to incorporate skills like hiding in the shadows before attacking," Janine explained. "I have plans to use her in Double Battles where another Pokemon will distract our opponents, allowing Ekans to sink out of sight and then leap up to attack." Blue was impressed by this strategy, and looked down to see Bulbasaur seemed intrigued by the idea as well.

    "You and Ekans must have a pretty special connection. Is she your starter?" Blue asked. Janine came to a sudden halt at this, and Blue was surprised, wondering if he had offended her in some way. Janine's face indeed looked rather stunned, a stark change from the composed glare he had come to expect from her, and she seemed unable to put a sentence together.

    "Well… not really… I mean, it has been a while, but… but…" then Janine paused again, and Blue moved towards her, ready to be comforting, but she raised a hand to stop him. "Did you just hear something?" She whispered.

    "You mean you talking?" Blue asked, confused, earning him the usual glare. He fell silent and tried to listen to the world around them, wondering what it possibly could be. Then he heard a snap and turned in the direction: a figure was moving in the trees behind them, trying to be subtle but the snapping twig had given him away.

    "There's someone behind us," Blue whispered, fear starting to sink in. He hadn't put much thought into what Janine had said about seeing people in the forest, thinking it might just be a group of trainers or something. But now that they were silent, he could a lot of shuffling and disturbances in the earth and the fallen leaves: people were surrounding them, and Blue knew this couldn't be good.

    "I am well someone is behind us," Janine whispered back. "The good thing now is that he is right where I want him." Blue was going to ask where that was, but could only watch as Janine threw a knife behind her with surprising force. There was a grunt and a cry, and suddenly someone dressed all in black fell onto the path, a handgun clattering to the ground as he clutched desperately as the knife lodged in his stomach. "RUN!" Janine yelled, but was nearly drowned as gunfire sounded around them.

    "Hide Bulbasaur!" Blue yelled as he dived to the ground, the tree next to him exploding as bullets slammed into it, sending bark flying everywhere. There was a hiss, and Blue watched as Ekans leapt forwards into the darkness, and a scream sounded out from within the trees. He watched as Janine pulled the knife out of the man's stomach using a thin string attached to it, sending a spray of blood that spattered against the trees, and Blue wanted to tell her using a knife in a gun fight was not a good idea.

    "I thought I told you to run," Janine growled as she expertly leaned down to avoid bullets and leapt back up again. Blue nodded, knowing it was the sensible thing, but was too afraid to move: what if he ran straight into the path of a bullet, or led Bulbasaur towards death? He would never live with himself if he let one of his Pokemon die, and Blue didn't want to risk it, even though laying here made him a sitting duck.

    The forest was suddenly alive: all manners of Pokemon were screeching and calling from within the trees and the branches, trying to escape from the battle that had erupted in their home. There were flashes of light with each gunshot, making strange shadows and silhouettes appear of the frightened, fleeing Pokemon, and Blue felt terrible, especially as more trees were damaged in the gunfire.

    "I've got him!" A voice yelled above him, and Blue looked up in shock to see a fat, hideous face like a chipped bowling ball looming over him, mismatched teeth beaming at him as the figure reached for a gun. Blue looked around for a weapon, but all he could find were leaves, and his bag was weighing him down now, stopping him from reaching towards some nearby sticks.

    "SAUR BULBA!" Bulbasaur suddenly shouted, and Blue looked up in time to see his starter knock the man flying with two thick whips.

    "Thank you Bulbasaur, thank you so much!" Blue cried, and he pulled the Seed Pokemon into a hug. Bulbasaur looked modest as always, but Blue knew he was pleased with himself for defeating the man. He looked around to see if Janine had noticed, but she was busy slashing her knife at another person cloaked in black, no longer using their gun and forced to leap around like a fool.

    "Bulbasaur, I want you to take Rattata and try and find Red and Leaf, we are going to need their help," Blue said, grabbing his second PokeBall and releasing it, the red light briefly illuminating the fight between Ekans and her opponent behind the trees. Rattata quickly formed next to Bulbasaur, instantly confused by the commotion. "Rattata, you and Bulbasaur need to run, now! Get out of here before something bad happens!"

    "Saur Bulba Bulba Bulb Saur Saur!" Bulbasaur growled, thrashing his vines against the ground in anger.

    "I know you can fight, but this is too much, even for you," Blue said, looking sheepishly around for his last opponent to appear again. "You have to go, now!" Bulbasaur stared defiantly at Blue, his look showing he was unwilling, but a frightened and sad Rattata nudged against his team mate and began to move forwards, looking reluctant to leave but knowing he had to go. Bulbasaur finally turned around with a sad glance and rushed off towards the trees, disappearing within the bushes. Blue hoped they would get far, and turned back towards the scene, wondering what he could do.

    And then he found a Pokemon standing before him.

    Blue quivered in fear, too afraid to run away from the beast before him. It was jet black except for an orange underbelly, allowing the Pokemon to blend into the dark surroundings of the forests. White horns adorned his heads, with a skull around his neck, below his long snout of jagged teeth. The Pokemon growled as Blue desperately tried to remember who it was from all his Pokemon knowledge, and wished he hadn't sent Bulbasaur and Rattata packing.

    "Miss, if you do not stop trying to murder my colleague, I will set Houndoom here on your friend and he will be dead within moments," a calm, collected voice called from the trees. Blue turned shakily to face Janine, who paused, her knife held high and only an inch for her opponent's throat. She gave Blue a foul look before lowering her arm, allowing her foe to grab hold of her.

    "Good girl," the same person laughed, and Blue turned to the trees as the figure emerged. They had a shocking head of turquoise hair and a thin, long, pale face that was covered with a trickster's smile, but Blue's attention was drawn to the man's chest as he saw the red R emblazoned on his uniform, but he was still too frightened to say a word. The man walked towards him, smirking at his own private joke.

    "Jones, make sure you contact base and let them know we are bringing Mr Oak and a companion of his," the man said, glancing over at Janine's captor. Blue noticed a distinct lack of thrashing coming from the trees, and he wondered if Ekans had escaped or was waiting to rescue them. But Janine was shoved forwards and signalled to stand next to Blue. "You two follow me, and don't even try to escape or Houndoom will murder you both," the turquoise headed man purred, and he began to lead them through the trees. Houndoom growled at Blue and Janine to get moving, and a reluctant Janine led them off, the man called Jones coming up behind, mumbling into his radio. Blue wanted to apologise, feeling that it was his fault they were captured, but he knew it wouldn't be allowed and Janine wouldn't care for it anyway. He simply walked forwards in silence, wondering why Team Rocket had followed them through the forest, what exactly they wanted from him, and if Bulbasaur and Rattata would be able to get away safely and escape whatever was waiting for them back at base.



    Leaf watched in shock, sadness and horror as a charred Pidgey fell from the skies, the final Ember too much for the Tiny Bird to take. Smoke was still rising from her as she landed, crushing all burnt leaves and laying limp in the middle of the battle field, only a few metres in front of Red.

    "I knew it!" Red whooped, his mood completely changed now that the battle was going in his favour. Charmander had only been hit by a single Gust throughout his battle with Pidgey, something that greatly irritated Leaf, but she didn't want to give Red the satisfaction of knowing how annoyed or sad she was to have lost her brave fighter.

    "Good job Pidgey, that was a tough fight but you did well," she told her Flying type as she withdrew her. "You did well as well Charmander, but it is a pity your victory won't last long." Leaf had hoped to score a few more hits before Squirtle would come in, but she knew that the battle would soon come back to her: Water had the advantage, and there was no way Charmander could touch her.

    "We'll see Leaf," Red said with a cocky smile. "Charmander may just have a few tricks up his sleeve." Leaf was thrown by this, but kept a resilient look up and nodded as Squirtle made his way over from the log, flexing his arms and legs as he did so.

    "Are you ready?" Leaf asked as he approached, and Squirtle gave a curt nod before turning towards Charmander, smiling at his opponent. "Your not friends here Squirtle, we have to be ready to defeat him!"

    "Till Squirt Squirt," Squirtle replied with a nod, and Leaf rolled her eyes, hoping he was onboard. She desperately wanted to win, mostly to prove to Red and Blue that she could. They were both able trainers already and had done much better against their opponents the past few days, but Leaf had struggled, only getting by on Pidgey's Gust and a mixture of Squirtle's moves to delay their attacks. Defeating Red was just what she needed to show her true strength.

    "Ready?" Red called out, and Leaf nodded, her orders already hanging on the tip of her tongue. "Alright, good: Charmander, use SmokeScreen!"

    "Bubble! – wait, what?" Leaf said, thrown. She watched in shock as Charmander swished his tail around, sending black smoke out that began to cover his entire body, disguising him behind a thin vapour of black dust, behind which only an orange outline was visible. Squirtle looked just as stunned as Leaf did, and had no choice but to fire into the SmokeScreen: several bubbles were released and quickly hovered through the screen, yet Leaf could just catch Charmander moving out of the way in time to avoid the attack. She cursed mentally at the trick, knowing that she should have expected it after her Sand Attack trick but furious all the same.

    "I knew this would work, thanks for the idea," Red smirked. "Scratch, go!" Leaf's main resource had been stripped by the inability to accurately fire off Bubble, so she now had to improvise with what was left.

    "Withdraw, try and protect yourself!" Leaf cried. Squirtle nodded and his head, limbs and tail retreated inside his shell as Charmander rushed forwards with his black screen following him. Squirtle's shell glowed blue, but it didn't seem to be enough to stop Charmander from unleashing a painful looking Scratch against the shell.

    "Those moves won't protect you forever! Keep using Scratch!" Red commanded. Leaf was worried for a moment, but then she realized that Charmander's protection had been lost now that he was so close.

    "Bubble, get him while he's close!" Leaf yelled in triumph. Squirtle's legs shot out as he leapt to his feet, ready to face off with Charmander. Glowing claws shot out from the SmokeScreen, slashing across Squirtle's softer shell, making the … Pokemon flinch, but he quickly recovered and faced his friend.

    "SQUUUUIRT!" He yelled, and fired more Bubbles directly towards Charmander. Leaf caught Charmander trying to dodge, but several of the little blue Bubbles managed to hit, and he cried out as he stumbled backwards.

    "Type advantage for the win!" Leaf called, grinning broadly, and Red flashed her back a glare.

    "We'll see about that: Ember!" Red ordered.

    "Bubble, go again!" Leaf called, though regretted it as she saw Charmander was moving back towards Red and out of range. A ball of fire emerged from the black screen and exploded at the point where Squirtle's head went inside his shell, cascading his face in flame. Squirtle stumbled backwards and tripped, flipping upside down onto his back.

    "Type advantage is important, but it isn't the only thing that can be done in battle," Red said, smirking proudly at his feat, and Leaf forced herself to look away, her patience beginning to slip. She thought Squirtle would have cleaned up the battle by now, yet here he was, the one being weakened by a Pokemon he should have been stronger against. It seemed unfair to Leaf, and she desperately wanted to show her true strength.

    "Tackle, get in there!" Leaf shouted.

    "Tut tut, I order first," Red said teasingly, "but I will let that one slide. Scratch, but wait for him to come for you!" Squirtle leapt back to his feet with a push from his tail, and he quickly began to run forwards as fast as he could, kicking leaves up into the air. Leaf watched as he approached Charmander, and could see the claws waiting for him within the SmokeScreen.

    "CHARMAN CHAR!" Charmander yelled, and swung around, the black dust moving with him. Before Squirtle could touch him, Charmander brought the Scratch down against him, smashing his claws against the top of Squirtle's head and knocking him to the ground. Leaf gasped as Squirtle skidded to a halt, hidden within the SmokeScreen.

    "Squirtle, are you alright?" She called, and had to wait several moments before getting a groan. Leaf was startled that Squirtle was being defeated so easily, even with the Withdraw boost, and this only stirred dark questions in her head: was she ready for battle, was she training her Pokemon properly, was she not focussing enough on what Red and Blue were doing with theirs?

    "This won't be much longer Charmander," Red called. "Hit him with Scratch again!" Leaf simply stood there, staring towards the black haze as she caught Charmander moving within it, lost within her own thoughts. The battle was already lost, she knew that, but she had no idea why she had failed so spectacularly. A single SmokeScreen shouldn't have thrown the battle like this, but Leaf had let it shake her, change and control her plan, and Charmander's defiance of type had been too much of a shock.

    "Der Char Char!" Charmander cried, and swatted Squirtle backwards with a sharp swipe of his claws. The blue Pokemon rolled towards Leaf, his eyes shutting before he reached her, and Leaf knew that the battle was officially over. Red let out a cheer, and Leaf watched as he ran forwards to embrace Charmander as the SmokeScreen faltered, and the two celebrated their victory. Leaf simply picked up Squirtle and noticed how sweet and sad he looked with his body limp, almost as if he was sleeping but in pain.

    "Thank you for trying so hard… sorry for letting you down," Leaf whispered, and she brought him back inside his PokeBall, putting it with her other two and grasping all three in her hand: she had let them all down with her lack of training and encouragement, and Leaf struggled to hold back tears as she thought back on her first failure as a trainer.



    Team Rocket had set up camp only ten minutes from Blue's own camp, and he was stunned to think of how close they had bee, but relieved that they hadn't been found during the night. Rocket didn't seem well prepared for an assault anyway: only four tents scattered across another leaf strewn clearing, though there were more moss covered logs and rocks here that had equipment piled high. It didn't look like a place you'd expect well known villains to be, but Blue was hardly going to point this out to the turquoise haired man, not while his Houndoom stood snarling alongside.

    Janine's captor and the man Bulbasaur had attacked followed behind them, and Blue knew they had guns pointed at his spine, ready to kill them if they made any move. He and Janine had walked calmly and without fuss, and kept this up as they spied two men with bodies like wrestlers sitting outside one tent as they entered, identical ugly glares on their faces. Another man was typing at a laptop when they entered, and only glanced at them briefly before going back to his work, his pace becoming a lot quicker.

    "I do hope you enjoy our view here," the turquoise man said, turning suddenly but gracefully towards them, causing Blue and Janine to come to a halt. "This is the last place you will ever see, I am sorry to say… well, I'm not actually sorry in the slightest!" He added, and began to cackle with laughter for several seconds before clicking his fingers. "Tie them to one of these trees and leave them there to suffer for a little bit. We need to work out where the other two are."

    "Come on then, midgets!" Bulbasaur's victim snarled, and he shoved Blue and Janine up against the nearest tree, and kneed Blue in the stomach for good measure. Blue groaned and clutched at his rapidly forming bruise, his abdominal feeling like it was going to split open, but only got jeered at by the men as one of the burlier minions grabbed a thick rope and set to tying the two to the tree.

    "Two little love birds, isn't it just adorable?" Janine's captor sneered, and the men all laughed again before turning away from them, clearly not seeing them as threats now that they were weakened. The Houndoom continued to watch him though, peering at them as he sat next to the turquoise man, who loomed over the technician's laptop.

    "I am trying to track electronic devices from within the forest, but so far I am getting nothing," the technician explained, showing the admin something Blue couldn't see. "I might try and hack into any satellites, but you know the barrier will only get in the way."

    "Hmmm…. Very irritating…" the turquoise man mumbled. "Give it to me for a second, I may have something." As he immersed himself in the laptop, Blue noted all the other men were becoming distracted; the two they had fought with reloading their guns while the wrestlers were cleaning their boots. He quickly turned to Janine, though she flicked her purple hair around into his face as she turned away from him.

    "I am sorry, I should have run," Blue whispered, trying not to attract anyone's attention but her own. "Maybe we wouldn't be in this mess if I hadn't stayed, but I am not some bloody knife throwing ninja who can just accept being shot at as being normal! And I had to make sure Bulbasaur and Rattata stood a chance of getting away, so excuse me for caring about my Pokemon! Even you should be able to relate to that!" Janine quickly turned back around and gave Blue a look that he knew would have come with a slap if her hands hadn't been tied. She stared at her with fire burning in her eyes, but her expression quickly softened as she glared around at the Rocket members around them.

    "Staying was a stupid move, but I can forgive it as your stupid mistake may have saved us," Janine whispered. "You say Bulbasaur and Rattata escaped?" Blue gave a quick nod, though was confused as to what it meant. "Good, then we may be able to get out of here alive after all." Blue was thrown by this, and was going to ask for a meaning when a bark sounded across the clearing, and they both turned as Houndoom leapt towards them, steam issuing from his nose as he continued to growl at them.

    "Ah, it appears my loyal servant has caught some gossiping," the turquoise man said, stirring laughter up amongst his men, and he quickly pranced over towards them, pulling an ornately handled knife from his pocket as he did so. "Maybe I should kill you both now and be done with it, but I need to have all my Mareep in one paddock before I start slaughtering them. So tell, Mr Oak, where can I find Edward and Leaf?" Blue stared defiantly back at the man, trying his best to put on a brave, strong face, but his defences were weakening: his stomach still felt like it could be bleeding, and he was tied uncomfortably to a tree with no rescue in sight. Blue wanted to protect Red and Leaf, but he had no idea what this man would be willing to do in order to find the right information.

    "They are in the forest, but I have no idea where!" Blue said, hoping this would delay him. "Everything looks the same here, it is so hard to tell exactly where they are!" The turquoise man pondered this, his Houndoom growling at his side, and Blue cast a nervous glance back over at Janine.

    "That is not the information I was looking for," the man said with a sigh. "Such a shame: it seems I am going to have to start spilling your blood now!" He raised the knife up to Blue's arm, and the trainer yelled as it felt it press against his skin.

    "PLEASE, NO, YOU CAN'T!" He yelled, trying to wriggle himself free, but he could feel blood dripping down his arm and yelled out in pain again. Laughter rose up from the henchmen, and Blue told himself not to cry, knowing it would make matters worse, but the pain was becoming too much.

    "Now, Mr Oak, are you going to tell me the truth, or should I cut your other arm?" The turquoise man purred as he clasped Blue's face with his free hand, twisting him around so they could face each other. His eyes were glinting with delight and Blue wanted desperately to harm him, but the pain in his arm and stomach was too much, and the threat of the knife and Houndoom had him shaking in fear. If only Blue had been smarter, than maybe none of this would have happened…

    "What the hell was that?" The technician suddenly yelled out behind, just as the turquoise man had begun to lower the knife towards Blue's left arm. All of the Rocket members were on their feet, looking around in shock. "Archer, I swear I something just ran past here! It was small and purple, and –"

    "We're in a forest full of Pokemon you fool!" The turquoise man, apparently called Archer, snapped. "There is no wonder that one of them might run by! It was probably a Rattata or something. Bother me when it is something important!" Blue looked over at Janine and shock, and she gave him a purple smile: their saviours had arrived.

    "SAUR BULBA BULBA SAUR!" Everyone turned again as a Bulbasaur leapt out from the bushes besides the technician, flinging his vines around and sending the laptop crashing to the ground. The burlier men yelled and lunged for their guns and knives as Blue smiled brightly despite his bleeding arm. Archer roared and threw his knife towards Bulbasaur, but it was easily knocked aside with a single whip.

    "DOOM HOUN DOOOOOOM!" Houndoom barked and leapt forwards, embers dancing from the end of his nose. But before he could get close, a purple flash emerged from the bushes, and Archer growled as Rattata slammed into Houndoom with a Quick Attack, knocking him to the ground.

    "Remember what I told you about using Ekans in Double Battles?" Janine whispered, and Blue nodded, beginning to feel dizzy from the blood loss but trying to stay focussed on the battle for Bulbasaur and Rattata's sake. He didn't fully understand what Janine meant until he heard a slithering sound behind him, followed by a yell. Everyone's attention turned again as one of the wrestlers screamed in pain and wrestled with Ekans, trying to pull her away from his throat. Blue gasped as Ekans wrapped her tail around the mans right shoulder and suddenly pulled out: a hunk of his neck came out in her teeth, spraying the other with blood that dyed the leaves, and Ekans leapt away as the wrestler collapsed to the ground.

    "KILL THEM!" Janine yelled, and suddenly she swiped upwards, the ropes falling away. Blue saw she now held a stick in her hands with a bayonet-like point on top that must have been hidden within her robe. She smiled at Archer as she flicked something, and suddenly the stick became a staff that was nearly as tall as Janine was, and she carelessly swung it around, striking Archer on the forehead and sending him crashing to the ground.

    "What is that?" Blue asked, staring at the pointed staff in shock.

    "It's magic," Janine said with a simple smile, and she suddenly pulled a throwing star out of her pocket and threw it towards the technician, hitting him in the back of the head as he picked up his laptop. Blue gasped as the man fell dead before them, and turned to watch as Ekans left the second wrestler to twitch on the floor, purple bubbles forming in his mouth. It was brutal and maliciously planned, and Blue was stunned to be watching something like this unfold before him. After four days of stumbling around the quiet forest, it was quite a shock to be standing bleeding next to an intense battle. But then he remembered his Pokemon, and turned in shock towards where he had last seen them.

    "Are you two alright?" Blue called out. They were looked in battle with Houndoom, Bulbasaur jumping to avoid Flamethrowers that set the log and leaves ablaze while Rattata shot out of the bushes with multiple Quick Attacks.

    "Bulba Bulb," Bulbasaur grunted back, firing a seed towards Houndoom that wrapped him up in vines the moment it touched his head. Blue smiled, knowing his Pokemon were able to handle it, though wishing he could do more. He wanted to walk forwards, but Blue only began to feel dizzy and had to lean back against the tree. He finally stared down at his arm and felt sick just at the sight of it: the wound was just next to his shoulder and below his sleeve, not appearing to be deep but still causing crimson blood to engulf his arm and stain his shirt. His bag had been left on the ground and Blue pulled it forwards with his leg and rummaged inside for the medical kit, knowing he had to do something or he faced death.

    "Houndoom, return!" Blue paused in his hunting at the sound of the command, and watched as Houndoom was brought back inside a black PokeBall. Archer was back on his feet, a gash across his forehead and his twisted smile gone, replaced with an angry sneer. Blue wondered if he would shoot or stab at him, but Archer merely grabbed a metal briefcase from besides the flaming log and began to walk past. "Kill as men of these fools as you want, but it won't stop me and it won't save your friends! I will find them easily, and by the time you've managed to stem your own death, your friends will be dead, and I will come back for you."

    "TACKLE, QUICK ATTACK!" Blue yelled, hoping the cry would attract Janine's attention. Bulbasaur and Rattata made to move, but Archer took off, running in a graceful yet speedy manner towards the trees and disappearing into darkness. Blue stared towards Janine, who whose currently trying to defeat her previous captor with her staff while Ekans wrapped her body around the final man's neck. He wanted to call out to them and warn them about Archer, but his eyes suddenly began to sag, and no noise could escape from his mouth. Blue turned to see Bulbasaur and Rattata running towards him, yet the ground seemed to be moving, tilting to the side… or maybe it was Blue, he couldn't tell… all he could see was darkness, and Blue projected fears for Red and Leaf into the universe before he blacked out completely.



    There was no greater awkwardness than that following a battle. Red sat alone besides the tent he and Blue shared, feeding Charmander a mixture of berries and Potion to help him regain his strength, but his attention was more on Leaf as she sat alone and silent next to her tent, staring towards the trees with her back to her opponent. Guilt had quickly dampened Red's delight as he watched Leaf move silently and sadly into her tent, and he wondered if it had been something he'd said that had offended her. But as the time ticked on and Leaf remained silent, Red knew it was something a lot more than that.

    "Should I say something?" Red whispered to Charmander as the Lizard Pokemon ate his mushy berries. Charmander and Red had become good friends quite quickly, and Red knew that his loyal starter would be able to help him. Charmander glanced back towards Leaf with a curious look across his orange face, and gave Red a nod of approval.

    "I just wanted to say that you fought brilliantly today," Red said a moment later as he walked across to Leaf. "You were a tough opponent, and the battle was a lot better than any of the ones I had with those bloody bug freaks. So…. yeah, thanks for encouraging me to battle! I learnt a lot and you really tested my skills, so thanks!" Leaf didn't say anything, though Red distinctly heard her sniff. He felt like he should console her, but nervously turned around and looked at Charmander for advice, having no experience in this field. Charmander waved his hand, signalling for him to turn back, and Red blankly turned back to Leaf, trying to think of something nice to say.

    "It was a good battle, wasn't it?" Leaf said suddenly, her voice a notch higher than usual but otherwise sounding fine. "I was impressed at Charmander's skill: you must be training him well."

    "Barely, I think he just came this way," Red said with a smile, and Leaf laughed, finally turning around. Her eyes were red and blotchy but she wore a smile, a signal that she didn't want to discuss the fact she had cried. Red was curious as to what had upset her, but with years of experience with dealing with his mother, he knew better than to question her about it. He simply sat down next to her on the dry, dead leaves and smiled warmly. "You should train with us when we get out of this wretched forest. Squirtle and Pidgey are actually quite strong and would go well against mine, and Caterpie and Weedle could probably go up against each other until they get their strength up."

    "Yeah, that sounds like it could work," Leaf said with a smile, and Red realised this was probably the most relaxed conversation the duo had ever had in all their years of squabbling. Everything seemed a lot more peaceful and quiet now, and they could hear the Pidgey tweeting in the trees and the sweet call of Butterfree tending to their young Caterpie. Red began to appreciate the surreal green beauty they were surrounded with once again, and it suddenly seemed a lot better than it had only a few days ago, and Red was only slightly sure of why this was.

    "Charmander Char Char!" Charmander suddenly cried, and Red and Leaf both turned around to see the Fire type pointing off into the bushes. Something was crashing around within the trees, and Red quickly leapt to his feet, wondering if it was an injured Pokemon or lost trainer trying to come towards them.

    "Is it Blue?" Leaf asked, standing up behind him.

    "No… I think its turquoise…" Red replied, too confused and surprised to realise what he had said. But he stared in shock at the violent hair as it emerged from the trees, barely noticing the black clothing or pointed elfish face of the man beneath the colour. However, it was easy to tell something was wrong when the man stared up at Red and Leaf with a murderous glare, and he dropped the metal suitcase in his right hand to the ground while reaching into a pocket with his left.

    "Red, there's an R on his chest!" Leaf gasped, and she screamed as their assailant pulled a gun from his pocket, pointing it directly towards Red. His lips twisted into a smile and his vicious eyes gleamed with delight but kept the general viciousness within them.

    "Scream all you like, but you'll be dead before anyone can help you!" The man hissed. Red desperately searched around for a weapon, wondering if he could reach a tent and grab a pole before the man would fire at them, but fear grounded him, and Red could only stare at the gun in stunned silence.

    "MAN CHAR MAN!" The Team Rocket member turned around as Charmander leapt forwards, black smoke billowing from the tip of his flame as he slashed down at the man's left arm. The gun fell to the ground as the mysterious figure yelled out, and Red quickly pushed Leaf forwards into the mouth of her tent as the black SmokeScreen began to cover them. Charmander seemed to be releasing more of the smoke as the cloud was quickly getting thicker and bigger, and Red was impressed with his starter as he thought of what to do. Charmander was yelling and the man was yelling painfully, but Red couldn't leave the Lizard Pokemon to fight on his arm and impulsively ran forwards. He caught a blur of green and aimed a kick towards it, feeling his foot connect but had no idea where it hit.

    "You children are fools to think you can stop Team Rocket!" The man roared. "We will crush you eventually, and it will only stop your suffering if you forfeited now, and then we may let your deaths be quick and painless rather than what we truly wish to do with you!"

    "I will never give up!" Red shouted, trying to find where the man had gone but found the SmokeScreen was starting to impair his own vision. "Why do you want us dead anyway? We have done nothing wrong!"

    "It is not what you have done, but what you are going to do!" The turquoise man roared, and Red wheeled around, aiming several more kicks in the direction of the voice. Suddenly, more crashing sounded from within the trees, and the man swore under his breathe before lunging towards the metal suitcase.

    "SOMEONE HELP US!" Leaf screamed, but her cry was pointless: Red forced himself out of the SmokeScreen and saw the man press a large button within the suitcase. He looked up at Red and smiled, even though blood was pouring down from his nose, and began to glow white.

    "CHARM!" Charmander yelled, and fired an Ember towards him, but their foe suddenly disappeared, the white glow that he had become being sucked inside the suitcase, which flashed white and disappeared as well. Red stared at the blank space left behind in shock, startled at the fact someone who had just threatened them with a gun had just simply vanished before his eyes.

    "BULBA!" A cry called from within the trees, and Red turned as Bulbasaur leapt over a bush, quickly followed by Blue's Rattata. The trainer himself appeared next, but Red and Leaf both gasped when they saw his right arm was covered with blood and he was leaning against a girl with purple hair.

    "What happened?" Leaf cried, rushing forwards and grabbing hold of her cousin, lowering him to the ground.

    "We were attacked by Team Rocket, it is a long story, but he was stabbed and has passed out from the pain and blood loss," the girl explained. "I have sewn the injury up though and giving him some of my personal medication, so he should heal soon." She then turned towards Red, startling him with the serious look on her face. "We must pack up and leave this clearing straight away, or we risk being found by more Rocket members. I believe my Ekans and I stopped all the ones within this forest, but we cannot be too careful."

    "That turquoise haired guy just disappeared," Red said, not sure if it was relevant but wanted to point it out.

    "Fascinating, now pack up your tents," the girl said. Red wanted to argue, still stunned by everything that had happened in the last few minutes and wanted to know properly what was going on. However, he heard the leaves rustling and looked down to see an Ekans coiling around the girl's feet, blood dripping from her teeth as wide yellow eyes started directly at Red.

    He packed up the tents within five minutes without any argument.



    The grey clouds Blue had noticed earlier lived up to their promise as nightfall came: strong winds and heavy rains bombarded their tents, threatening to blow them away or drown them in their sleeps. Janine had led the group to a flat, raised area of land just before the forest ended, with a large gatehouse less then fifty metres away from their camp and freedom from the confines of the forest closer than they had ever been.

    In return for all her help that day, Leaf had offered Janine a place in her tent to escape from the storm, which the unwilling ninja happily accepted. However, she had currently taken over the tent as she tended to Blue's needs: Ekans had gone and collected a tatty green bag from a hiding place, and Janine was currently whipping up a stronger medication to help Blue deal with the pain, and it was supposed to help with his blood loss as well, though Janine was unsure of this part.

    "You have to teach me how to fight like you at some point," Blue whispered as he lay on Leaf's bed, his injured arm raised up above his head. "I have seen experts on TV that couldn't even pull those sort of moves off."

    "I will take that as a compliment, but I do not usually watch TV," Janine said as she crushed herbs and berries together in a foul smelling purple juice. "I have spent too much time trying to perfect my ninja moves that I never get to do anything fun." She and Blue both laughed, and silence fell within the tent as Janine mixed together the last of the medicine, though the wind continued to roar outside and tug at the tent flaps in rage.

    "Here you go," Janine said, passing her china bowl over. "Drink from that while I redo you're dressing, and then we can send you back to your actual bed." Blue nodded sleepily and quickly down the purple potion, screwing up his face in distaste in a way that made Janine as she reassessed his bandage. "You have a nasty wound here, you'll need to find a doctor or nurse in Pewter City."

    "You're probably better than any doctor in that entire city!" Blue mumbled, his eyes flickering as he struggled to stay asleep, tiredness and the medicine overpowering him. "You are just that amazing Janine! I am glad you tried to cut my face off this morning, it was probably the best thing to happen to me all week!" Janine smiled and laughed, but the joy quickly died. She had never spent this much time with someone outside of her training, and the fact she was starting to form a connection was a strange and new experience. Janine liked Blue, just as she was beginning to like his friend and cousin, and as Blue struggled to stay awake long enough for her to help up, the purple haired trainer began to wonder if she had finally found some true friends… or if she would just be hurt like last time…


    "I should probably head back to my own tent in a minute," Leaf said, yawning slightly as she glanced down at her watch. "I wonder if Blue and Janine are finished with their little doctor-patient scenario yet."

    "I am sure Blue would want it to go on for a little while longer," Red laughed as he started up at the rain lashed roof of his tent. "Whenever he was actually conscious, he couldn't take his eyes off her." Both Red and Leaf laughed at this, and they turned towards each other, smiling. The boy's tent was more cramped due to the number of stuff spread out, and it felt quite intimate with the storm roaring outside. Leaf looked across at Red, realising that for the second time that day they were alone together in quiet, slightly relaxed setting: they had never gone this long without arguing or fighting, and it felt quite strange for the two to actually be becoming friends.

    Yet more pressing issues were weighing down on Leaf's mind, and she turned and glanced towards her tent to the right: even though she couldn't see it, she could imagine Blue in there, one of the last family members she had left, with his brutally scarred arm and the blood that remained on his arm.

    "Why do you think Team Rocket is targeting us?" Leaf whispered, struggling to keep her emotions in check. "We have never done anything bad to them, yet they have suddenly decided to attack us. Do you think this has anything to do with the war, like… like something our parents may have been involved in?"

    "What? No, of course not!" Red gasped, and Leaf realised she should have minded her words: Red was sensitive about his father and the topic of war, and she didn't want to have upset him. "They are just dumb criminals, it isn't anything for us to worry about! If they try and come after us again, we will be able to get through it because we'll stick together and fight side by side! We'll train our Pokemon so we can easily crush them, just like we have before!" Leaf turned back towards Red, a smile creeping onto her face, and she couldn't help but notice his smile as well, and quickly thought of why she had never noticed it before…

    "I need to go and check on Blue," Leaf said quickly, and pounced up and grabbed her bag without another word, leaving a stunned Red behind. She emerged out of the tent and into the pouring rain, feeling her hair and clothes instantly get soaked, but Leaf paused for a moment, staring back into the pitch black forest, hearing the startled and frightened cries of Pokemon fleeing the area, almost as if they were fleeing from them. No matter what Red said, Leaf knew there was a reason they were after them, and she wanted to know what it was. But, as tears began to mix with the rain streaming down her face, Leaf could only wonder if any of her Pokemon would be ready for the next battle that faced them, and, worse yet, if she would be able to handle Team Rocket when they next came searching for her blood.



    The storm stretched down to Viridian City. Giovanni watched as rain lashed his windows, another glass of wine in his hands as he stared out at the trees struggling against the power of the wind outside. Giovanni found the image amusing. If you cannot stand up to this storm, than you will never survive the storm I have coming for you. He laughed dryly to himself and sipped at his wine, enjoying the vintage taste and savouring the flavours in his mouth.

    "Sir," a timid voice said at the doorway, and Giovanni swivelled around in his chair. His receptionist, a female Grunt with a short black bob for a hairstyle, held the door ajar, and Giovanni could see a figure standing behind her.

    "Let him in Amanda," he said, getting to his feet and moving over towards his drinks cabinet. He heard the door swing open and glanced up briefly, registering Archer's turquoise hair that stood out in the semi darkness of his office. "Drink?" He asked.

    "Yes sir, please… something strong…," Archer said with a sigh. Giovanni nodded and poured him a brandy that he had stolen from his father, and passed the tumbler over to his Chief Admin. Archer smiled in thanks and quickly downed it, and Giovanni noticed that the man seemed shifty and uncomfortable, with blood stains around his nose, a gash on his forehead and sections of his clothes torn.

    "You didn't kill them, did you?" Giovanni whispered, his hand frozen over pouring himself a top up of wine. He sensed Archer freeze and knew that he was correct.

    "We tried sir, and we managed to successfully capture Blue Oak, but he was with this unfamiliar girl that we were forced to capture as well. We didn't realise their Pokemon had escaped and they attacked us, allowing the girl to free herself and attack the others. I managed to stab Oak but was forced to flee and find Edward and Leaf, and I –"

    "ENOUGH!" Giovanni roared, the single word ringing around the office, and Archer fell silent. "You insult me with your grovelling and attempts to cover up your mistake. I will punish you for this failure eventually, but we have more important matters. You wasted four days hunting them down in that forest, and now I need you in Pewter. Go and make sure everyone and everything that is going is ready before dawn tomorrow."

    "Sir, I just want to say –"

    "GO!" Giovanni yelled, turning to face Archer with a face like a furious Nidoking. Archer nodded and scuttled out of the office, closing the door quietly behind him. Giovanni watched him leave, his anger rising up, and furiously he threw the wine bottle after him. It shattered against the door, spraying the floor with green glass and purple wine. Giovanni placed down the last of the wine in his glass and collapsed into his chair, groaning and clutching at the arms, listening to the painful sound of the rain.

    He knew the children were his threats, but the only problem was he did not know how just yet. Giovanni knew they had to die in order for his plan to work, but they continued to defeat his best servants, and even his Nidoking had failed to weaken them for long. Giovanni stared out to the grey storm outside and growled to himself: if he couldn't kill them before his plans began, he would simply have to kill them during them. Giovanni slowly began to relax as he thought of four roles that needed to be filled by tomorrow evening: one for Edward, one for Blue, one for Leaf and one for their new friend, the perfect way to finish them off, get his revenge and let everyone know that Team Rocket meant business and nothing was going to stop them.

    ^^^^ The GalacticVerse Bibliography (Thanks to Blazaking for Banner) ^^^^

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    Default Re: The First Warriors: Chapter 3

    Hello everyone! Sorry for another long delay, but the new chapter is finally here! I am using a new system of splitting the major arcs into smaller chapters to make things easier on me, so I am not writing fifty page stories every month, and make them shorter and more exciting for the readers. So this is the first of a three part Pewter City arc, and due to the shorter time it takes, the next part will hopefully be up before the end of the month! Enjoy



    Weathered Rock

    June 14th

    As dawn broke over the mountains of the Pokemon League, Casimer stood on his deck, staring into the valley below as the first signs of sunshine rose to east.

    The Champion of the Indigo League led a stressful and busy life, and one of the few things that allowed him to prepare for the day ahead was waking up early, getting fresh morning air and savouring the peace and quiet of simplicity before all of the chaos began. Waiting for the sun to rise gave him time to think things over, and by the time it had fully emerged above the mountain tops, Casimer found himself ready to tackle the new day.

    A mist clung to the air today, covering the valley floor and obscuring all of the green, brown and blue that made up the grass and water below. Casimer was disappointed to miss out on seeing this beauty, and knew from a simple glance that it would be a chilly day. He looked up the clouds and saw masses of grey painted across the sky, their edges reflecting the bright orange glow of the rising sun but only confirming his thoughts.

    Casimer sighed almost mournfully, and he collapsed into the solitary deck chair that he kept on the metal balcony, grabbing a cup of lemon tea that he had left steaming on a table. The air was calm and peaceful, only the distant cries of Spearow and Fearow echoing from the valley floor puncturing the silence, but Casimer was struggling to stay relaxed. Disturbing reports of violent Pokemon thefts had reached his ears, including a particularly gruesome story where a fourteen year old girl had been beaten viciously with bats and stripped to her underwear in the corners of Vermilion City. Tales like this had been growing over the past few weeks, and Casimer was finding it more difficult to put them out of his mind. No one had been arrested in connection to them, despite their being many suspects and suspicions, and victims were showing up across all areas of Kanto. It was Casimer's job as League Champion to help protect Pokemon Trainers, but there were too many factors keeping him back from doing anything, and though it pained him to hear them, Casimer was helpless to their cries.

    "If only I had the sun," Casimer sighed as he raised the glass to his lips and took a long sip, staring to the east and seeing only a smear of light across the clouds. It simply looked ugly rather than a sign of hope and beauty, and Casimer shook his head in disappointment, both at the weather and himself. "Sunshine can give any situation a brighter glow, even in the darkest circumstances."

    "Oh really, is that so?" Someone whispered from behind, and a cackle cut through the quiet like a knife. Casimer paused for a moment, shutting his eyes and letting the familiar laugh wash over him, and then quickly finished the last of his tea before anything else happened to it.

    "Indeed Charlotte," he said, placing the cup back down on the floor and staring fixatedly towards the clouds. "The sun brings us with light and heat, but I am talking of it as a symbol. When people see the clouds parting aside and the sun appearing behind, they are filled with a sense of hope and the knowledge that their situation can always get better. The sun casts fresh thoughts upon us all, and clears away the darkest situation." The laugh continued through this, and Casimer scowled as a see through figure floated before him, hovering over the valley below and showing the brown, rocky cliffs opposite the Champion House.

    "Grow up Casimer, that is a load of Tauros crap and we both know it," Charlotte scoffed, and she settled down onto the metal railing as if she could normally sit here. "There is plenty of darkness happening in this little region of ours at this very moment, and I don't think the sun coming out will clear things up."

    "The sun has not risen yet, you cannot say how this day will turn out," Casimer replied, attempting to keep his cool. It had been nearly a year since Charlotte had appeared in his house, and though he had been expecting an appearance now that there was all of this chaos, her appearance was still not a pleasant sight, especially her constant smirk and the knowledge that she would only be here for a specific reason.

    "Actually, I do know how this day will turn out," the ghost said, continuing to smile. "Tonight, Mark Hansom is throwing a star studded, VIP event at the Pewter City Museum of Science and History, and I know you received an invitation, so don't deny it."

    "I wouldn't dream of it," Casimer replied in a silky voice, and Charlotte flashed such a wide smile that if her teeth still existed, they would have flashed.

    "As you are aware, Mark has decided to display the four Deoxys meteorites to help fundraise for various boring museum-y projects, the only four …. And, as you also know, my spell book is housed within the very same museum, and I know that whatever magic Arceus worked will prevent it from being moved from the first floor where the event is taking place.

    "There will be a number of special guests there: celebrities, sports stars, famous scientists and Pokemon trainers, well off social types with enough money to throw around. But there will also be some uninvited guests showing up about halfway through the evening, with the intention of stealing the meteorites and my spell book."

    "Team Rocket," Casimer said with a sigh, and Charlotte simply nodded in answer.

    "I will be able to stop them, but I cannot draw too much attention to myself by showing up in the middle of a crowded room and firing magic at them all," she explained. "There needs to be someone with strength inside to protect these objects from being stolen and hopefully send a message to Giovanni about –"

    "No!" Casimer said, jumping to his feet as he worked out what she was getting at. "I have told you before Charlotte, I am not getting involved in any of their troubles. I made a deal, as you are aware, and I cannot lay a finger on them!"

    "Giovanni is not going to be there, just his glorified minions!" Charlotte yelled, moving from the railing and floating right up into Casimer's face. "You precious deal will stay in place, and you will stop them from laying a hand on the most powerful object in this fucking world!"

    "I told you NO!" Casimer roared, and the shout echoed throughout the valley. He paused as his own angry voice came back to him, and he wondered if anyone moving through the mist below would hear him. He wished he had more tea, and turned to go inside but Charlotte quickly moved in front, her hands raised before her.

    "Not another step!" She hissed, and Casimer paused, remembering the last time she had raised her hands to him.

    "Didn't Oak send his grandchildren out to fight this battle for him?" Casimer hissed, stepping back towards the railing. "Send them to fight in my place, or tell Hansom to use his own bloody Pokemon, or some ancient weapon he unearthed from Mt Moon to fend them off! But I am telling you Charlotte, I am not risking everything to go and battle them!" Charlotte looked enraged for a moment, and Casimer was sure she was about to attack, but a smile suddenly crossed her face. A normal person would have been relaxed by this, but Casimer knew that whenever Charlotte smiled, it did not mean anything good.

    "Your right Casimer, so rude of me to force you to risk everything that is important to you," she said in a slow voice as if talking to a toddler. "Why, I am being positively selfish to think that material goods should come before human beings…" The smile crept up to her ghostly eyes, and Charlotte beamed broader as she clicked her fingers.

    Behind her, Casimer heard shattering. He stared through her body and watched as shards of glass and china were blasted into the air, plates and glasses exploding on his benches. There were pops, and suddenly his couch had turned to feathers and stuffing, fabric and springs flying around. A glass photo exploded, and all the light fittings shattered one after the other.

    "What are you trying to prove?" Casimer hissed, but Charlotte only smiled as she clicked her fingers again. Through the wide deck windows, Casimer saw cabinets and cupboards burst open, the broken remains of whatever they housed spilling onto the ground. His dining table erupted into flames, and his widescreen television turned to miniscule pieces of glass. The entire house began to shake as if an earthquake was running through it, and as the millions of broken objects floated in mid air, Casimer gasped as his polished floor split, chunks sent flying, and bits of his ceiling came loose as well.

    "STOP THIS!" He yelled, but Charlotte merely laughed, and Casimer could only watch as his bed fell through a hole in the roof, the mattress exploding as huge chunks of wall turned to particles of plaster. The Champion stepped forwards angrily, wondering if he could fix it, when the glass doors before him exploded. Casimer yelled as the force knocked him back to the railing, and shards cut through the black shirt and track pants he always wore when training his Pokemon. There was a thunderous crack, and Casimer's stomach lurched as he was tipped backwards, staring up to the clouds as his deck snapped off.

    Than it all stopped.

    Silence filled the air once more, but it was an uncomfortable, unpleasant silence that got under your skin. Casimer found himself hovering above the valley below, standing on a cracking balcony that was a metre down from where it should have been. He looked up at Charlotte, who had remained where she was, and saw that a look that mixed both delight and anger was on her face.

    "Giovanni may have you where he wants you, but we all know that I am stronger than he is," Charlotte hissed, and in one second she was right in Casimer's face, staring into his eyes, her faded lips a centimetre from his own. "If you do not go to the museum tonight, I will raze this region to the ground and make everyone wish that Team Rocket had been responsible. I will kill millions of people and make you watch, and then I will maim and mutilate you to the point of death but make you hang on to life, just so you can suffer the destruction you caused in eternal agony, do I make myself clear?" Casimer frowned and nodded, feeling sick inside about having to deal with this sadistic, vicious ghost. "Good," Charlotte said with a half smile, and she clicked her fingers. Casimer cried out as he was sent flying forwards, the deck rising up to rejoin with the building. He rolled through the open door and landed on his healed floor with enough force to wind him. The Champion looked up to see that everything had gone back to its rightful place: dining table no longer burning, cups and plates fully healed, his bed no longer floating through his living room. Casimer wondered if it had all been an illusion or if his stuff had actually been broken, but when he turned to find Charlotte, she was no longer there.

    Casimer sighed as he got back to his feet. His peace and quiet had been destroyed, and his day's plans had completely changed. Charlotte was the queen of doing this sort of thing, and Casimer felt disgusted with himself for letting her take control of him. He had a very specific deal in place to protect his side of the region, and her control was only going to risk hundreds of lives. Casimer wondered if there was a way to get around her control, but as he walked into the kitchen, he found his cup was back on the table, already refilled, with the invitation beneath the plate.

    "Of course," he said, laughing in a depressed way to himself, and grabbed both cup and invite and moved upstairs to examine the few suits he owned, still hoping that the sun will come out before he set off for Pewter City.

    There was a not a chance he could tackle this in darkness.

    ***

    The light grey clouds that hovered above Viridian City hinted at rain to come, but at Pewter City, the storm had already arrived.

    Rain hammered the roads and footpaths, turning the drain pipes into raging rivers of storm water and soaking everything in the city. A violent wind raged, sending rubbish and leaves scattering in miniature tornadoes and threatening to blow trees over. Windows and doors rattled, and the streets were empty, everyone doing their best to avoid becoming caught in destructive weather.

    Only four people were daring the weather as they raced across puddle-strewn footpaths, heading directly for the shelter and warmth of the Pokemon Centre.

    Red, Leaf, Blue and Janine had finally made it out of Viridian Forest and Route 3, where the rain had turned the green paths in slippery streets of mud that made it impossible to set up tents, and howling wind prevented them from training or talking. It had been a miserable two days, but enough time to recover from the wounds they sustained against Team Rocket. The battle hung over them like another cloud, and the group was looking to forward to being able to put it all behind him them and move onwards with their journeys.

    "I need to find something warm and dry, NOW!" Leaf cried as soon as they stepped through the sliding doors, puddles of water instantly forming at their feet and a wind following them in, threatening to send the doors flying off their hinges. It was only when they closed that they saw all the seats were filled up, and dozens of people turned at her cry, causing Leaf to flush as she stripped a paper-thin raincoat off and rung it out over a pot plant.

    "I don't remember the Viridian Center being this busy," Blue mumbled as the quarter slowly moved forwards, trails of water following them behind. Groups, pairs and lone travellers all stood against the walls, shouting to be heard over the din of everyone else, though it felt as though everyone was watching them as they moved towards the counter.

    "There is a storm, that's why," Janine replied. "Everyone is happy to spend more time in the open when the weather is fine as they can train and catch more Pokemon, but when the skies open, everyone flees indoors." The other three nodded, though the explanation did nothing to settle the uncomfortable feeling of being watched, as if they were being paid to relay information about them.

    "Hello, welcome to the Pewter City Pokemon Center!" The cherry haired nurse behind the counter said, smiling widely as the group passed their Pokemon over. "If you are looking for rooms, I believe we have several still available at the rear of our facility. There is a backlog with healing, but I assure you that your Pokemon will be healed as soon as possible. I will just get them into the system before I assign you your room." It was only as the nurse finished that they each noticed the tiredness in her eyes and the flicker in her smile as she struggled to keep it up.

    "It must be so stressful to deal with all these people," Leaf whispered, looking around at the people surrounding them as they moved from the counter to an empty spot between a pot plant and an advertisement. "You would think more people would be challenging Brock or visiting one of the sights."

    "What sights?" Red scoffed, rolling his eyes at her. "There are only two things to see or do in Pewter City: battle Brock and the Museum. With all these trainers in the city, there is probably a massive wait to battle Brock, and who in their right mind would willingly go to a museum?" Red thought he had made a brilliant point, but Leaf rolled her eyes back at him and tapped the poster directly next to them. The black advertisement showed the three levelled structure bathed in darkness, with a full moon in the background and four dark rocks surrounding the title 'SECRETS FROM SPACE'.

    "If you knew how to turn the television on by yourself or had the ability to read," Leaf replied with a wide smile, "you would know that the museum is host to four rare meteorites for the next few weeks, and that there have already been ten thousand pre-bookings on tickets for the next fortnight." Red looked flustered and Leaf smirked, though there was less viciousness than there had been a few days prior. The relationship between the two had softened following their battle and reflective chat in Viridian Forest, and their joking was more in good humour than anything nasty.

    "If all of these people are still here, do you guys want to go across to the Pewter Gym?" Red said. "I wouldn't mind getting this gym battle out of the way so we could move on to Cerulean City." Blue had been staring around at the crowd, wondering if there was anyone he might recognize and not bothering to get involved in the group's conversation, but his eyes pricked at this and Blue turned to face Red, looking confused.

    "You want to battle Brock now?" He said, scoffing. "We haven't had any time to train over the past few days! You are going to get slaughtered if you go against him now." Red twisted towards Blue, his usual cocky tone cutting deeper than usual.

    "What do you mean by that?" He asked, trying to keep his tone normal. "My Pokemon are perfectly up to the task of battling Brock, and I am sure that they would all be able to win." Blue scoffed again, radiating arrogance, and Red could not hold his anger back any longer. "What, just because you've only got two crap Pokemon doesn't mean the rest of us do!" Blue looked as if he had been slapped and turned to properly face Red, the tension suddenly increasing as Leaf and Janine stood awkwardly to the side.

    "I may only have two Pokemon, but I have Bulbasaur, and he is super effective against Rock types," Blue replied icily. "You have Charmander and Caterpie, two Pokemon that have a huge disadvantage and will both be hospitalized for weeks if you send them against Brock! Wait a few days and catch some Pokemon that can actually do some damage and leave the gym battles to those of us that are actually prepared."

    "How dare you insult my team!" Red said angrily. "Last time I checked, Charmander was the one that fought off the Team Rocket people single-handedly!" Blue looked furious, his face starting to go red and he bared his teeth like an animal. Before any more words could be exchanged though, Janine forced herself between them, and with surprising strength pushed them both backwards.

    "If you two are going to start fighting than take outside to the rain and the mud, otherwise shut up and grow up!" She hissed. Both boys fell silent, but Leaf's eyes flickered between the two to see the anger was still engraved in their faces and body movements, and could only wonder what had brought this on.

    "Excuse me," the voice of the nurse rang out behind them, "but I have a room ready for you." Leaf left the fight behind and rushed over to grab the keys, but the nurse slid over a piece of paper and a pen before passing over the keys. "A waver to say you will pay for any damage to the room. Just a formality when things get busy," she explained with a coldness that implied it was not just a formality. Leaf smiled awkwardly and filled in the sheet, but as she passed it across, someone else snatched the keys from the nurse.

    "I am going to get changed," Blue said with unnecessary grumpiness, and he turned and stalked down the hallway, the eyes of several fellow trainers following after him. The tension remained behind as Red stood solemnly by the wall, clearly thinking about what had just happened. Leaf looked over at Janine who help, but her new friend merely shrugged and went after Blue, his clothes still dripping as she disappeared. Leaf was left alone with Red, and she realised her awkward position: she and Red had just started to get on better terms, but could Leaf really side with him over her own cousin, even though Blue had randomly started the fight?

    "Red, I think –," she began, but was cut off before she could think of what to say.

    "I am going to the gym," Red said with a blank voice, and he stepped past her towards the counter. Leaf wanted to discuss the fight and clear the air, but no words came to mind, and a minute later Red was gone, disappearing out into the storm and leaving the tension and her behind.

    "How can you still be wearing those clothes?" Janine leapt in front of her, face framed by wet hair and dressed in a dry robe that was a lighter shade of purple, shaking Leaf from her silence. "If you stay like this, all you are going to do is get a cold and create a safety hazard." Janine was smiling, but Leaf was still rattled by the argument, and it must have shown as Janine's grin slipped away. "Are you still thinking about the fight?"

    "Yes," Leaf replied sadly. "I have to travel with this two, and if they are going to start randomly arguing, then this journey is not going to be fun… not that it's been so brilliant anyway. I don't even know what caused it! Blue always says dumb things like that, but today he seemed extra vicious."

    "Just forget about it," Janine said. "They are dumb boys; of course they are going to argue about stupid stuff like this. Wait a day and everything is going to be better, you'll see." She smiled, but Leaf's expression did not change, and the argument continued to weigh down upon her. Janine looked like she was getting annoyed and Leaf felt guilty, but suddenly her new friend's face lit up as she peered over at where they had just been standing.

    "Don't worry, I know exactly what we can do to take your mind off things."

    ***

    The Pewter City Museum of Science and History was one of the most well known buildings in Kanto. Being the only tourist attraction in Pewter, and one of the only reasons to visit the city, it was extensively promoted throughout the region and the wider world to attract more visitors, and most people would be able to instantly recognize it whenever they saw it. It was three stories high and painted a rich shade of mahogany, with white bricks making up the edges and all the window frames painted the colour of snow that give it extra texture. The roof was pointed and made from grey tiles, and carved stone ornaments of various Pokemon stood around the tips of the building to give it extra character.

    It was a well known piece of architecture and a truly beautiful building, but at the moment, the rain and wind made it look drab and grey. The windows were being lashed, and cold air swept throughout cracks in the old building. The usually beautiful green lawns that surrounded the building were an unattractive pool of swirled brown mud, created by the rain and the various vans that had been forced to park on the lawns in preparation for the night's big event. Workers were rushing to and from the museum and the various vans, unloading food for catering, tables, sound systems, collapsible podiums and various items that were being sold off in a silent auction, struggling to not slip over in the mud and avoiding the gazebos and statues that stood ignored amongst the torrents of mud.

    "Looks like this is going to THE event OF the year," Janine said in an exaggerated posh voice as they ran up the concrete pathway towards the museum, and Leaf snorted with laughter as they quickly sidestepped four men struggling with an impossibly long table. The car park was being kept empty in preparation for the limousines and taxis that would be arriving soon, and a giant cover was being set up by a dozen workers, but the girls still got soaked as they rushed up towards the slowly revolving door.

    "I would not want to be going to an event in this weather," Leaf said. "Imagine going to all that effort putting on make up, doing your hair and getting a nice dress, and then you're soaked the second you step out of the car."

    "Please, rain and mud are my make up, and I would sooner die than end up at some smoozy party like this," Janine said with a roll of her eyes, and Leaf laughed as they stepped into the lobby, her voice echoing in the high ceiling entrance, and the few people inside turned towards her in shock.

    "Sorry!" Leaf muttered as they approached the counter, embarrassed for the second time in an hour, Janine struggling not to laugh next to her. "That wouldn't have been so bad if there were actually some other people here! It's a ghost town!" Leaf had read that the museum got so popular during summer that the line for the counter stretched out onto the main road, but there was no one else before them in the line, and the only people they could see where those setting up for the function.

    "Maybe people thought it would be closed all day for the function?" Janine suggested as they approached the counter, attended by a tall freckly teenager. "I came past here a few weeks ago before going into the forest and there was an hour long wait to get inside, and that day it was an absolute scorcher."

    "Must be the case then," Leaf mumbled in agreement, noticing a sign saying it was free for all trainers and fishing out her PokeDex. She could not help but be impressed with all of Janine's travels: she had told them about all the places she had visited, covering nearly all of Kanto, and discussed all the amazing techniques she had learnt along the way. During lull periods in the weather, Janine had shown Leaf several impressive defence techniques, most of them ending in flipping Red onto his back. It made for an impressive back story, but Leaf could not help but feel a bit jealous. Each day she was venturing further than she ever had before in her life, but none of their travel stories involved escaping a pack of angry Arcanine or fighting off muggers like Janine's did. Leaf had imagined her journey would be as exciting as her friend's tales, but so far it all had been arguments and near death experiences and she wanted to start living the journey she had always wanted.

    "What is this fancy pants party for again?" Janine asked as they passed through the barrier. Unfolded tables and overloaded carts blocked them from having a proper view, but four giant crates stood in a square in the middle of the first floor, surrounded by museum attendants arguing about where a series of fossils should be displayed and stressed looking party planners rattling things off into headphones.

    "They are displaying four meteorites that are meant to be connected to the legendary Pokemon Deoxys," Leaf explained, remembering the article she had read at her grandfather's lab a few weeks prior. "I believe that they radiate special electro-magnetic waves that cause Deoxys to change form or something like that." They continued to stare at the set up for a few more moments, but three simultaneous rapping noises came from behind them, and the two girls turned to the staircase as a figure slowly descended.

    "Was that my old mind acting up, or were you two young ladies discussing Deoxys?" An elderly woman said as she limped towards them. She was dressed in a beautiful blue dress that shimmered with each step, a mixture of different shades with small jewels forming wave decorations. Steely grey hair was down up in a bun, and long white gloves encased her hands. Two of the sounds emerged from matching high heels hitting the stone, while the third was from a golden handled black walking stick.

    "Um… yeah, we were," Leaf said awkwardly, exchanging a glance with Janine. Neither of them wanted to be caught up talking to some lonely old woman that had clearly arrived for the party a few hours too early, and felt nervous as she moved towards them, seeing her wrinkled face was covered with a delicate layer of foundation.

    "What is with the stunned faces?" The woman said with a smoker's laugh. "Are you expecting me to start telling tales of when I grew up alongside those fossils over there as I take my afternoon pills? Children are so judgemental!" She rapped her cane against the ground and clicked her fingers at a passing waiter, making the young man jump. "Boy, bring me the finest champagne you have, and make sure it is ice cold! Would you ladies like a glass each?"

    "We're only thirteen," Leaf replied in shock, and the old woman tutted.

    "And, since when did that stop anyone?" She scoffed. "Children these days! Just one for me then boy, and make sure it is in the largest glass you own!"

    "Yes Madame," the boy said, bowing so low that his tray nearly hit the floor, and he scuttled away so quickly you would think she was chasing after him.

    "That was pretty impressive," Janine said, grinning broadly, but the old woman shrugged her shoulders.

    "That is nothing. I once made the entire wait staff at Celadon's finest restaurant burst into tears just by looking at them all, and all because my steak was medium rare." Leaf and Janine laughed at this, and the elderly woman raised an eyebrow at them before clicking and pointing at a chair, and two waitresses nearly fought over each other to bring it across to her.

    "Now, neither of you answered my question," she said as she sat down in the chair with a relaxed sigh. "Deoxys are very interesting Pokemon, do you know the story?" They both shook their heads, and the woman shook her head. "What do they even teach children these days? Well, I am bored shitless waiting for this bloody party to begin, so I might as well kill some time."

    "Deoxys is a very interesting Pokemon in that it were not created by the usual means. The Mossdeep Space Research Centre scientists have spent years researching its origins, and even they are uncertain to the full story. What they do believe was that a meteorite with strong electrical energy, the sort that only comes once in a millennium, was flying along its usual course with nothing happening. But as it passed between Earth and our moon, it came into contact with a strange and rare magnetic disturbance that interacted badly with the electrical energy of the meteorite. The meteorite exploded, the pieces scattering across the universe, and from the energy and dust formed Deoxys. Pieces from the meteorite landed on Earth, most notably in Veilstone City, the desert in Unova, and right down the road on Route 3, on your way to Mt Moon, the ones that are now on display before us.

    "Scientists still do not properly understand Deoxys, but the Pokemon appears more regularly than many other legendaries. It will fly down to be near its meteorites, and people have caught footage of it glowing strange colours before taking off again, now in a completely different forme. Deoxys can change between four very different formes, and when it appears, sometimes in the same forme as its last appearance and sometimes one of the other three. The sky always ripples and glows before an appearance, and it grows into an aurora after it has left, marking its appearance across the sky for all to see."

    When she stopped talking, Leaf and Janine stood in silence, their mouths slightly a jaw and the sound of the rain hammering the glass skylight directly above them echoing. The elderly woman had told the story with such intensity and passion that the girls were left in complete shock, processing the detailed back story as their eyes kept flickering between her and the covered meteorites in the middle, the four objects that were more powerful than they had realised.

    "Good god, that took you long enough!" The woman snapped at the waiter as he passed over her champagne, and her voice snapped them back into reality. "I thought you children never stopped talking! If I could only tell people one story to make them fall silent I'd never have to deal with any of my friends again! Come now, I have my drink, let us continue." She leapt to her feet with a surprising amount of vigour, one hand clasped firmly on the glass and another on the cane. "Ignore the stick dears, it's just for beating people and making sure I can get disabled parking whenever I feel like it." Janine laughed, and Leaf began to soften up as well, and the three began walking around the edge of the party area towards the opposite staircase.

    "Excuse me, but you never told us your name," Janine said, as she and Leaf struggled to keep up.

    "That's because no one knows my real name," she replied. "My age, my weight and my name are the three things I keep to myself, and nothing is going to change that. You may call me Madame, as everyone else must." Janine laughed again, enjoying the brash old woman and her company, and walked in line with her as they began to ascend the staircase. But Leaf fell behind, her attention being drawn back to the four meteorites that stood crated in the middle of the lobby. Now that Madame had told her story, she could almost feel the power radiating off from them. She imagined Deoxys flying down through the skylight to change formes, and then disappearing back into the solar system, light spreading across the sky as Leaf and her Pokemon stood watching below.

    "That is the story I'm looking for," she whispered to herself, smiling widely, and followed after the two, wondering if there was anything she could do to summon Deoxys down.

    ***

    The storm continued to rage outside the museum, and showed no signs of stopping. Red watched as umbrellas were torn away from a middle aged woman popping down to a small supermarket, and saw tree branches hanging dangerously from damaged trees. One road had been flooded due to blocked up drain pipes, and several stores had been shut down as a result, sandbags piled high outside their doors to stop the flooding.

    After crossing the entire storm struck city, Red had finally reached the giant artificial boulder that served as the Pewter City Gym. Unfortunately, a sign covered the door, stating Brock would not be back for a few hours. Annoyed and disappointed, Red had been forced to find somewhere to wait out this time, and uncovered a nearby cluster of trees that barely served as shelter. Five trees stood centimetres apart, their branches and roots wrapping around each other due to their close proximity, creating a multi layered natural platform. The thick branches stopped the wind and provided a mildly dry and tidy cubby away from the storm, though did nothing to stop the cold creeping in.

    "Let's practice a few moves before Brock gets back to make sure we're ready!" Red called to his team, having to shout above the wind. Charmander, Rattata and Caterpie stood amongst the roots, all at different heights from the strangely knotted bits of nature, ready to squeeze in some last minute training. Red, meanwhile, was half naked, his wet jacket, shirt and pants hanging from a branch as they dried at an agonizingly slow pace, leaving him standing shivering with a warm blanket as his only protection.

    "Rattata, Caterpie, set yourselves up and we'll do a mock battle," Red said, trying to smile and be encouraging, but his mind kept drifting back to the argument in the Pokemon Center. Blue's insults had come from nowhere, and Red wanted to prove him wrong by defeating Brock and throwing the Boulder Badge in his face. Unfortunately, he knew that his apparent friend had a point: Charmander and Caterpie had huge type disadvantages, and Rattata was not at the level of strength Red would have ideally liked before going into a gym battle. Whilst stuck in the storm struck forest, only Charmander had had the chance to get any training in, and, having learnt Metal Claw in the process, Red thought it best to focus on getting Rattata and Caterpie up to the same strength.

    "Both of you use Tackle while trying to avoid the others move!" Red said. Caterpie took the time to nod and smile, but Rattata moved quickly, the speedy Normal type leaping over a large curved root and slamming into Caterpie before the Bug even knew what hit him.

    "CAAAAT!" He cried as he was sent soaring backwards and slammed into a tree trunk with enough force to send bits of bark flying. Red leapt up in shock, his blanket falling to a bundle at his feet and exposing his skinny body. Charmander quickly moved forwards and helped Caterpie up, but the Worm Pokemon looked fairly dazed and flopped over the second he got straight.

    "Rattata, that was just a tad more than I was expecting!" Red said, mouth hanging open in surprise. Rattata looked ashamed, his head hanging low and tail nervously twitching. Red sighed and bent down low to stroke the Mouse Pokemon along the back, knowing at once that it had been a bad decision. "Sorry both of you, I should have planned this out better… just a spur of the moment thing."

    "Rata Ta Ta Rata Ta," Rattata said in a sad squeak, staring apologetically at Caterpie, and the Bug type smiled and nodded in acceptance. However, he suddenly sprayed a String Shot forwards, catching Rattata in the head and covering him in the sticky white substance. Charmander and Caterpie both laughed, and Rattata managed too as well once the shock had worn off, and he quickly chased after Caterpie, the Worm Pokemon climbing up the tree trunk to escape him. Red laughed weakly with his team, but after a few moments collapsed onto his blanket, rubbing his head and sighing as a shiver crept through him, feeling horribly uncomfortable in only boxers and wet socks.

    "Mander Char Char?" Charmander asked, looking concerned as he approached his trainer. Red smiled and pulled him closer, instantly feeling warmth from the dancing flame on his tail, and was pleased that he had his starter nearby for comfort.

    "I am just a bit lost in thought," Red replied sadly. He wanted to forget all about the argument and move on, but Blue's words were weighing down on him. He knew that he had a good team, his three Pokemon loyal, caring and strong, but Red could not shake what Blue had first said. Was he too rash trying to battle Brock without properly training? He watched as Rattata tried using Quick Attack to scale the tree, Caterpie laughing from a branch half a metre above. Red had heard Brock was the easiest leader, and thought he could have just gone in and been done within ten minutes. Now he imagined going into battle against Brock right now, facing off against Geodude, Onix, Graveler, a whole army of Rock types towering above his three Pokemon: would any of his team be able to defeat them? What if his Pokemon were seriously harmed as a result and the backlog at the Pokemon Center stopped them from being treated in time? Red would not be able to live with himself if something bad happened to them, and could imagine Blue's expression when he came running back in a state of emergency.

    "Charmander, would you mind drying my clothes please?" Red asked, and Charmander nodded, knowing that a small favour would do all the difference. "Caterpie, come down and try using Tackle on Rattata, but Rattata, I want you to try running around. Let's see if we can do some work on speed while we wait for the weather to stop." Rattata and Caterpie nodded, and Red felt better as he watched their little test begin, but knew that it was not time to battle. He had seen Leaf and Janine run past while he had tried to find shelter and could only guess they were now at the museum. He would go there once his clothes were dry and think of what to say before he saw Blue. Red was still annoyed about the insults and Blue's general nastiness, but it happened whenever they got competitive, and he hoped that they could make up and move on. Some things were more important than winning arguments, and as Caterpie chased Rattata across the maze of roots, Red knew that he had made the right decision.

    ***

    In a tiny room at the very back of the Pokemon Center, Blue stared angrily out of the tiny window of his shared room, watching as the grey rain lashed against the glass, feeling the cold seep in through the ajar window. He had a lovely view of the waste bins at the back of the Center, backing onto an alleyway that made the day even more depressing. There was a constant trail of changing voices and footsteps echoing off tiles as people marched past the door, and Blue was tempted to yell at them all to go away and leave him alone with his thoughts, but knew better than to draw attention and simply watched as the rain washed away bright pink spray paint on the concrete wall of a café.

    Blue was furious. He had an injured arm that continued to throb, despite Janine's managing to heal up the wound, and the constant pain was making him irritable. And despite trying to focus on different holes in the wall or flying pieces of rubbish outside, Blue could not stop thinking about his argument. Red was stupid to think he could simply march into a gym and battle after wandering through a forest for nearly a week, backed up with three Pokemon with type disadvantages and minimal battle experience. Blue had been trying to help his friend, and had not expected to be abused in return, and could not work out what had come over Red.

    Just because you only have two crap Pokemon… Blue thought of Bulbasaur and Rattata being healed just down the corridor, and knew in his mind that they were good Pokemon. He had expected Red and Leaf to compete over catching Pokemon and being the better trainer and petty nonsense like that, but Blue had never considered he and Red would face off with each other. They had always been in competition at school events, but Blue thought that was all in the past.

    Even if we are in competition now, it is not exactly a close race. Bulbasaur and Rattata are both clearly superior, and when the time comes for us to show our power for the world to see, I will be the shining star the world has come to expect… Even Grandfather would be proud of me.

    Blue was starting to annoy himself by constantly thinking about it, and knew there was no point getting angry, and he would just have to wait for Red's apology. Leaf and Janine were on his side, or at least Blue believed they were as they had come through the room before leaving for the museum. He checked the grime covered clock hanging above the door and saw it had nearly been over an hour since they had arrived, and decided his Pokemon had to be ready. Blue swung off the top bunk and moved towards the door in two steps, the confined room making for easy movements. He flung the door open, and nearly leapt back in surprise.

    "Oh, hello there, lucky timing!" The man standing in his doorway said before laughing in delight. He was wearing a white apron over jeans and T-shirt, with a hair net covering greasy black hair. A large tray was hanging from his neck, and it clattered every time he moved, the contents rolling around inside.

    "Can I help you with something?" Blue asked, his tone frosty and suspicious. He was not in the mood to be bothered by strange people, but was curious as to what was rattling inside the man's tray.

    "Sorry, I hope I am no bother!" The man said, smiling in an overly friendly way. "I am just going door-to-door to see if any of you wonderful trainers would like to buy my rare and powerful Pokemon!" He dramatically whipped off the lid, revealing over a dozen PokeBalls rattling around inside, the light bouncing off the red and white surfaces. Normally, Blue would have been very sceptical of someone coming up to him and claiming to have rare Pokemon, and probably would have sent them packing. But Red's words were floating around at the front of his mind, and all he could think of was proving him wrong.

    "What Pokemon are they?" Blue asked, reaching into his back packet for the winnings he had collected from defeating trainers in Viridian Forest. He went to snatch a ball with his free hand, but the man pulled the tray away, shaking his head.

    "No, no, no, it's a surprise!" He explained, grinning widely. "Lucky dip, random Pokemon chosen! Keeps things fair, you see." Blue paused, starting to feel unsettled by this, but saw $500 was scrawled across the side of the tray. He could make that money back easily, and his mind was clouded with thoughts of getting back at Red.

    "Here," he said, thrusting a mixture of notes across and grabbing a PokeBall at random. The man quickly leapt backwards as if been shocked, the lid covering the tray again in a single swift movement, and only know was Blue suspicious.

    "Thank you, very nice doing business," the man said with his beam, but Blue now thought he could see a touch of malice in the man's eyes. He stared doubtfully down at the PokeBall now in his hand, and wondered if he had just been tricked,

    "Hey, get back here!" Blue yelled, letting his anger with Red channel through him, and he set off in a quick sprint. The man with the PokeBalls disappeared behind the corner, and Blue suspected he would have to knock on every door in order to find him. He turned the corner and prepared to run, but was met with a scream. Blue quickly halted, finding himself face-to-face with a teenage girl, a single step more and he would have bowled her over.

    "Sorry, I didn't mean to, didn't see you," Blue replied quickly, side stepping her and looking around for any sign of the man.

    "Blue, is that you?" The girl said, sounding shocked. "It's me, Susie!" Blue groaned as he halted again, knowing that he was letting the man get away, but turned towards the tall blonde he had nearly smacked into. Now that neither of them were moving, Blue instantly recognized his cousin's best friend, the tall, skinny girl that was always at his house, currently looking soaked in a plain black raincoat over a wet pink sundress.

    "It is so good to finally see someone I recognize!" Susie cried in delight and pulled Blue into a hug. "I tried finding Leaf in Viridian City, but the nurse told me you guys had left, so I followed after you through the Forest, but that was a nightmare, but now I am here, so hooray!" Susie pulled away from the hug still smiling, and Blue managed to falsely smile back, knowing it would be better to avoid any awkward questions. He was not a big fan of Susie, having seen enough of her at his house to know she could be loud, shrill and very annoying and demanding whenever she got bored, and Blue did not want to be caught alone with her.

    "So… are you travelling now or something?" He asked, trying to make conversation as he tried to remember why he had gone to the door in the first place.

    "Yeah, actually, I am!" Susie replied. "My dad agreed to let me do a gym journey, so I thought I would give that a shot! It is still just me and Spearow, but I think we will do alright." Her optimism and stupid thoughts instantly reminded Blue of Red, and he began to silent seethe in anger as the words came back to him. "Do you know where Leaf is, I was hoping to catch up with her if she's free."

    "I think they went to the museum," Blue replied, trying to keep his cool. He hoped she would leave him alone with his thoughts now, but as Blue considered the idea of going back to his room by himself with only his thoughts for company, the more it seemed like a stupid plan. "I will show you the way, just let me grab my bag and my Pokemon."

    "Sure thing!" Susie said with her continuous beam, oblivious to any annoyance or anger Blue was portraying. Blue quickly raced back to his room and gathered up his bag, noticing the only untouched bed in the room below his. Red would be back soon no doubt, racing to have his Pokemon healed after his spectacular loss at the gym. Blue would have loved to be here to say I told you so, but thought that leaving Red to stew a bit longer would make his apology even sweeter.

    "Come on then, let's go," Blue said once he rejoined Susie, his smile matching hers as he raced past her towards the nurse's counter. The thought of a distraught Red, the same boy who always outshone him at every competitive event their school had ever held, was more than enough to dwell Blue's anger, and he became so caught up in this delight that he absently pushed his latest PokeBall into his back pocket, completely forgetting how he had gotten it.

    ***

    "I know I am about five years above the target age for this, but I don't think I have ever had so much fun in my LIFE!"

    Leaf laughed as she peered over Janine's shoulder, watching as her friend fired laser beams at animated Kabuto and Omanyte moving across the screen. Janine had been playing for fifteen minutes and was already nearing the top score, the number of fossils she had received increasing as the amount of Pokemon she had to hit doubled each second.

    "Come on, you only need another five hundred points!" Leaf screamed in her ear, quickly becoming hysterical as the prospect of beating a three year old high score enticed them both. Janine frantically jabbed at the controls, firing as many laser beams as she possibly could, but as they got nearer to a score, words flashed at the bottom of the screen: MUST RELOAD GUN.

    "NO!" Janine screamed, and she tried to move the animated cartridge across from her bag, but the ancient Pokemon quickly began to swarm them, and by the time the gun was reloaded, it was all too late. The screen went black, and then several dancing Kabuto and Omanyte appeared around GAME OVER, before switching to a list of scores.

    "Bastards!" Janine shouted and she kicked the machine, but she and Leaf were both still laughing despite the disappointment. "It wants me to fill in a name. Do you think any of the little kids would understand if I wrote 'Ifyouckay Ulot'? Or how about something that has cock in it…?"

    "Do it, give their parents a fright!" Leaf said, doubling over from ten minutes of excitement and laughter, and she collapsed onto a multi coloured couch a few metres away. The top floor of the east wing of the museum was a children's educational facility, designed to teach them about the various fossil Pokemon, the history of the universe and legendary Pokemon, do scientific experiments and had a currently closed section that was used for temporary displays. Several curators that had come to inspect the closed off area frowned at the two girls, but they did not say anything under the watchful eye of Madame. She seemed entirely in the wrong place, sitting on a bright yellow couch beneath a kiddie version of the periodic table, dressed in her beautiful dress and sipping champagne.

    "Keep the noise down you two, I am trying to see if there is any point donating money to this section," Madame said loudly as she frowned at several of the displays. "It does seem a bit too childish, wouldn't you say?"

    "As opposed to having blood and gore and dissections?" Leaf suggested, and Madame laughed. Despite their initial thoughts, Leaf and Janine had quickly bonded with the elderly woman, her brash sense of humour making the tour of ancient civilizations and the history of Mt Moon twice as interesting and fun as it should have been. Leaf was glad to forget about her worries of a dull and boring journey and put the argument at the Pokemon Center behind her, and was enjoying being able to actually have fun for the first time since leaving on her journey.

    "What else is there to do?" Janine asked, sitting down next to Leaf and picking up a tatty book about Pokemon evolution. "Should we go and explore the west wing?"

    "Go on without me, I have already been over there today and I have had enough boredom to last me the rest of the week," Madame said with a sigh, finishing her champagne and placing the glass on top of an oversized puzzle. "Tell someone to come and collect this, and I will meet you two downstairs soon. I feel like relaxing for a few moments longer."

    "Please, when do you ever not relax?" A voice said from behind that made Leaf jump, and they all looked up a ramp that led towards a second storey of activities. A man in that looked barely over twenty descended the ramp, flashing his white teeth at Leaf and Janine. He wore a white shirt and black pants that hugged a toned body, a tie draped across shoulder and bristles of blonde chest hair showing through the undone buttons. The man had a handsome face that made Leaf's heart skip several beats, with sandy blonde hair that looked like it had been done by professionals and dazzling blue eyes that sparkled like Madame's sapphires. She had no idea who he was, but Leaf was instantly attracted and blushed as he walked past before exchanging girlish giggles with Janine.

    "And what would you know about relaxing?" Madame said with a short laugh as she raised a gloved hand to the man, allowing him to kiss it. "Girls, this is Mark Hansom, one of the head curators of the museum and the organizer of tonight's event, which he clearly isn't ready for!"

    "I was just sorting out a few things in the attic, don't worry!" Mark said, and let out a laugh that was as beautiful as his face. "Are you ladies attending tonight's event?"

    "Oh, us? No… no… no we aren't," Leaf stuttered, her face going bright red again.

    "We're just passing through as we wait to battle Brock, and Madame offered to give us a tour," Janine explained, unfazed by his beauty. "I can barely afford food and this is the only dry outfit I have, so I doubt that I would be able to attend." Mark flashed a smile once again, and Leaf thought that she was about to faint.

    "Not a problem! I enjoy having trainers come to these events in order to give them a taste of different areas that they could go into once their journeys are over." He reached into his pockets, Leaf imagining him fetching a ring, but instead pulled out several silver tickets. "There are always a few left over once the big names have signed up, so take them, free of charge!"

    "Oh no, we can't, it's a fundraiser!" Leaf said, horrified at the thought of showing up at the party in a soggy pink jumper.

    "Maybe you will be able to pay me back some day," Mark said with a twinkle in his eye, and dropped a small wad of tickets onto Leaf's lap. "See you girls down there, and that includes you as well Madame! I don't want to find you've fallen asleep up here!"

    "What, and give Evelyn Athlew the pleasure of laughing at me?!" Madam scoffed. "Take my glass for me and I will be down in half an hour." Mark laughed again and took the empty glass, gave them all a parting wave and disappeared, giving Leaf a view of a firm rear that only made her swoon more.

    "My god, could you have made it look more obvious?" Janine said once Mark was gone, cackling with laughter. Leaf flushed as she saw Madame eyeing her suspiciously, and quickly jumped to her feet.

    "I have no idea what you mean," she said, turning towards the exit as her face turned bright red.

    "You have the hots for him, don't deny, it was written all over your face!" Janine teased, getting to her feet. "There's nothing wrong with that: he is one sexy man, but you just failed to control yourself. If you fail to control your feelings in front of every hot guy you come across, you are going to have a hard life."

    "Oh shut up!" Leaf said, and stomped out of the educational zone. Janine followed after her, unable to laugh, and after a moment Leaf calmed down and began to laugh as well. "Alright, I admit it, Mark is really really hot! But don't you dare say anything to him if we do go to this party tonight." Leaf bypassed the staircase and leaned over the balcony that overlooked the lobby below. More displays had been unveiled, the tables had been set up and the food was being arranged. The four meteorites were currently being moved into their central position around a raised podium, and soon they would be taken out as well. She clutched the silver tickets in her hands, and Leaf imagined what it would be like to walk amongst the rich and famous, to be up close to the meteorites and feel their power. She could picture herself in a flowing, puffy purple dress, Pidgey flying behind her to hold up the trim, and then she would dance with Mark, feel his muscles, stare into his eyes…

    "There you two are!" A voice said from behind, and Leaf nearly screamed, quickly turning it into a cough as she and Janine turned around. Red looked red in the face as he walked up the staircase, his clothes looking less damp than they had been when he had left the Pokemon Center. He was smiling again, the anger and silence disappearing, though Leaf found herself unable to smile back. Part of her suddenly felt guilty for having her fantasy, though she was not sure why.

    "I looked through every floor for you!" Red said as he approached them. "One of the waiters told me that two girls had come on this side with an elderly woman, but I thought you might still be on the first floor. I didn't think you would have come all the way up here in such a short time."

    "Well, we do have quite advanced brains, we are able to process information relatively quickly," Janine replied with a joking smile, but both Red and Leaf both picked up on something darker in her tone.

    "I didn't battle Brock in the end," Red said, looking awkwardly at Janine before moving on. "I realised that I did have the disadvantage going in, and I was not going to risk harming my Pokemon for that."

    "Wise decision," Leaf said with a smile, and was pleased to see that the fight would be over. "Do you want to come down with us or keep looking around? One of the curators has gifted us some free tickets for the 'Secrets from Space' event and we are thinking about going."

    "Free tickets? Seriously?" Red said in shock, and Leaf passed them over. "Wow, this is pretty impressive! Do you know why he did it?"

    "He had some spares and said it is good for trainers to come to these sorts of things and learn more about Pokemon," Leaf explained. She was feeling happy to know that things would be able to move away from the fight, and could now imagine all four of them at the party tonight, chatting to Mark and Madame, experiencing the high life and the special objects on display. It would be a great story to tell everyone about, and Leaf could already imagine telling her grandparents about it.

    "Well, well, well, look who's reappeared!" Someone snarled from the staircase, and Leaf's dreams shattered in an instant as she heard the tone in Blue's voice. Red's face sunk as well, passing the tickets back to Janine and turning to face his friend. Blue rose up the stairs, his smile a mixture of cockiness and anger, and the tension increased with each stair that raised him up. Someone else appeared behind him, and Leaf's jaw dropped at the sight of Susie, the last person she had expected to see here. She wanted to run across and embrace her friend, but she did not dare move while Red and Blue were getting annoyed. Blue got to the top of the staircase and froze, crossing his arms and staring defiantly at Red.

    "Blue, I am sorry for what –," Red began, but Blue interrupted.

    "Aren't you meant to be getting your butt kicked by Brock at the moment?" He said with a snarl. "Or have you already lost and came here in hopes of avoiding me?" His delight at Red's apparent defeat reached his eyes, and Leaf looked across at Red to see his face turning the same colour as his name, his lips thinning to form a scowl.

    "I realised that my Pokemon were not entirely ready, just as you suggested," he explained. "If you had let me finish my sentence, I would have apologised and tried to make up with you, but right now I don't see any point." Blue turned angry at this, but quickly shrugged it off and tutted.

    "You probably realized that my Pokemon would weaken Brock so much that he wouldn't recover fully in time to battle you, giving you a slim chance of actually winning."

    "Please, my Pokemon are ready enough to defeat Brock, I just wanted them to have extra training to make it an easier win! I could defeat Brock right now if I wanted too!"

    "Not if I defeat him first!" Blue said, taking a step backwards onto the stairs. "My team is fully healed and ready to go, and I think I have a better chance of winning." Silence fell, and Leaf looked between her cousin and her companion, wondering who was going to say or move next. She knew that she should say something and put their silly fight to a stop, but words failed her once more as her mind drifted off to the fantasy she had held only a few minutes ago, and realised there was no chance it would happen now.

    In a sudden movement, Red was off, racing down the stairs before Blue even noticed. The brunette took after his friend a moment later, and their feet pounding the stairs echoed back up, and Leaf sighed to herself, wondering what would happen next in their squabble.

    "Well there goes the need for those extra tickets," Leaf groaned to Janine, and pushed her dreams of the perfect experience out of her mind for now before turning to her friend, trying to put on a smile. "Susie, hello! I can't believe you're here!"

    "I can't really believe it either!" Susie replied, rushing forwards to hug her friend. "What is up with those two? The last time I saw them together they were best friends!"

    "Stress, tiredness and the fact their stupid boys," Leaf replied warily, making Susie laugh. "Janine, this is my best friend from Pallet Town Susan." Janine made a smile as she shook Susie's hand, but Leaf saw irritation in her eyes, and could not tell if it was left over from her sudden annoyance with Red or something to do with Susie's appearance.

    "Terrible weather, isn't it?" Susie said, shivering as she took off her dripping raincoat. "Not as bad as those sea storms we use to get in Pallet, but this is pretty bad as well! Though I figured being inside would mean I would get warmer, but it is just as cold in here."

    "The Educational Room is pretty warm," Leaf replied, gesturing weakly at the area they had just left. "They probably have to keep the little kiddies from freezing or something." She moved towards it before anyone else said anything, in desperate need to sit down to stop herself from freaking out. She was angry with both Blue and Red, furious for ruining her idea of a perfect evening and stopping any of them from having their first fun night out since they started their journey. It did not seem like too much to ask for, and Leaf hoped Brock defeated both of them just so that they got put in their place.

    "So Janine, where are you travelling from?" Susie asked as they trooped inside. Leaf was too lost in her own thoughts to think about what was being said, but Janine never responded, instead letting out a gasp. Leaf looked around in shock and saw Madame lying draped over the edge of the couch, her right arm and leg dangling off in an uncomfortable manner. Susie screamed and Leaf rushed forwards, quickly grabbing Madame's dangling hand and feeling for a pulse.

    "What happened? She can't have just dropped dead like this! She was fine a minute ago!" Janine cried, but Leaf could feel a faint heartbeat beneath her fingertip. Relieved, she turned to tell the others, but something on Madame's neck caught her attention. A white capsule the size and width of her thumb stuck out, and when Leaf gave it a pull, she saw a thin needle sticking out.

    "Guys…," Leaf said nervously, fear taking over her body, and she quickly turned to the others. She could only watch though as Susie collapsed face-first to the carpet, and a stunned Janine followed a moment later, the same darts in the side of their necks. Leaf screamed and jumped up, dropping the one that had struck Madame and sprinting for the door. If she could just reach the balcony, she would be able to scream down to the waiters below for help…

    Something slammed into the side of her neck, and Leaf screamed again as her neck felt like it was being slit open. She tried to keep running, but her legs were already feeling weak, and she slowly collapsed to her knees, feeling the cold of the stone beneath them as she raised a hand to her neck, but it started to shake, refusing to move.

    No, Leaf thought as she fell onto her back, her head hitting carpet but shaking as if she had just entered an earthquake. Her vision blurred and her breathing became ragged, but she clung onto consciousness long enough to see a figure dressed all in white loom over her, catching his arrogant smile as she saw a familiar head of violent turquoise hair. Leaf wanted to scream, but her throat seemed to have closed, and everything was going black.

    The last thing Leaf felt was someone grabbing her shoulders, and she wondered if she would awake in time for the party as everything around her went black.

    ^^^^ The GalacticVerse Bibliography (Thanks to Blazaking for Banner) ^^^^

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The First Warriors: Chapter 4

    Of all my stories affected by the delays brought on by my personal life, this must have been the longest wait, so I apologise deeply to those that enjoy this fic for that, and I hope that this part and the next, which I hope to release soon, will make up for it.


    Smash the Skies

    Thunder roared across the Pewter skies as the first guests began the short journey to the museum, their limousines splashing through leaf and rubbish filled puddles and getting battered by the heavy wind. People had come far and wide for what would be the social event of the year for Pewter City, with every motel room and bed and breakfast booked out and every restaurant experiencing a full house. It was an awful night for such an event, but it would go ahead rain or shine, and all the guests had spent hundreds on the event: they would let nothing ruin their night.

    "It is going to be a doozy out there," Brock mumbled as a white flash filled his room, followed by the loud rumble of thunder. He stared at the black suit he was wearing in the mirror, wondering how it would feel if the multiple layers got soaked. Probably just as uncomfortable as it is now, the gym leader thought, tugging at the bow tie that seemed intent on squeezing the life out of him.

    "I got a call from one of my friends, apparently a lot of people are heading over already," Brock's assistant, a bubbly twenty year old named Lucy, called out from down the hallway. "Do you want to go there now or would you rather wait a little bit?"

    Do I have to go at all? Brock asked himself, again examining the suit in the mirror. It looked unnatural, so different from the usual cargo pants and vests that he wore. Brock had never been one for all the pomp and parties that came with something as significant as being a gym leader. He attended the odd gathering with his fellow gym leaders or at the Pokemon League, but rarely anything outside of that. Tonight's event at the museum was being hosted by Mark Hanson, a good friend who Brock had known for years and had helped him get this gym leader job when it became vacant. Brock did not want to sour his friend's evening but not coming to his big event, but the gym leader would rather spend the night training his inexperienced gym assistants than heading into a storm to attend an event more about the frocks and champagne than the actual meteorites.

    "Brock?" Lucy yelled, and Brock snapped out of his thoughts, realising his assistant was now standing behind him with pursed lips smeared with grape coloured lipstick, waiting for her answer.

    "Oooh, um… let's just leave it for a little while, shall we?" Brock replied, forcing a smile. "Give Mark a chance to chat up everyone he has to before I go in and ruin his evening." Lucy laughed as she leant across and loosened the bowtie, giving Brock a powerful whiff of her flowery perfume.

    "I know you hate these things, but I am sure tonight will be fun!" She said, giving him a light pat on the cheek that got his heart pounding. "Just have a drink and a few h'orderves, chat to some people, it will all be over in no time."

    "It better," Brock said as he straightened his suit and frowned over it in the mirror once more. "I am not staying there with all those rich snobs longer than I absolutely have –"

    And then there was a knock at the door.

    Brock and Lucy both turned and stared out at the dimly lit gym right outside the door. The knock came again, the sound of knuckles rapping against glass echoing throughout the empty building, competing with the rain and thunder for the most attention.

    "Who on earth could that be? I put a sign out saying we were closed for the evening!" Lucy tutted. She marched over to Brock's computer and tapped at the keys, and the gym leader followed over. His background image of his first Onix was replaced by the CLYDE Security Program screen, which Lucy quickly logged into, and a series of grainy black and white images appeared in boxes to the left of the screen. Lucy clicked one near the top, and the right of the screen was taken up with the current image of the front entrance. Two boys of about thirteen stood there, dripping wet with angry scowls on their faces, though Brock could see from the way they were looking at each other that this was a personal thing rather than annoyance at being locked out.

    "I am very sorry but the gym has closed early for the day," Lucy said, trying to sound authoritative as she spoke into an intercom right by the computer. She clearly thought the matter was over, but one of the boys knocked on the door again as the other searched for the source of the voice as looking for a way to talk back.

    "They aren't going to take no for an answer," Brock said, smiling slightly at the young trainer's determination. Lucy looked at her boss with a scowl that would make most people run and hide, but Brock knew her too well to be intimidated.

    "You have a party to go to; you are not dressed in the slightest for a gym battle!" She explained. "Your other suits are in the wardrobe, I didn't bother to dry clean them when you picked this one, you have no fall back if this one gets dirty!" Brock didn't particularly care about the suit, but he did not want to upset his assistant when she had tried so hard to get him ready for the party. However, Brock had been a young trainer once like those boys once: he had travelled across Kanto, survived through all kinds of weather, sleeping outdoors most nights with little more than a Geodude for protection from the creatures of the night. He would not be standing here today if he had not lived through such conditions, and Brock could not help but smile as the boys both knocked on the doors once more.

    "Hang on a second," he said into the intercom and pressed a button underneath his desk, overriding the security and allowing the doors to open. Lucy looked shocked, but Brock put his hands on her shoulders and smiled broadly. "I will only be a few minutes; I just want to find out their situation, then we can go to the party, alright?" Lucy looked like she wanted to argue, but she could never resist the twinkle in his eyes and gave her permission via a simple nod. Brock quickly moved out of his simplistic office and onto a metal walkway, connecting Lucy's office, a staffroom and bathroom together with a single spiral staircase going down to the gym. Brock could see his two challengers making their way towards him, and he truly wished that they were eager for a battle, longing for a good match and an excuse to get him out of the party.

    Red and Blue briefly noticed Brock as he came down the staircase, but the two were too caught up in the rush of the situation to truly pay him much notice. Both were soaking wet and had a chill running across their bodies, but they were weary from running all the way from the museum. Blue had tripped over after running through a deep puddle, tearing up his sleeves, while Red had slipped on a patch of mud and had pains in his back as well as a filthy jacket, but neither of them wanted to show their true emotions. A bitter tension hung in the air now that they were inside, and they waited to see what would happen with Brock.

    However, both of them were secretly thrilled to be inside an actual Pokemon gym, awaiting their very first gym battles ever. Their eyes followed the rock path that had begun outside, crossing the concrete entry and moving onto a sandy, rectangular field stretched out before them. The path twisted and moved between boulders spread out around the sandy pitch, stopping right before a clearly marked battlefield near the back of the gym, the sand glittering as the fluorescent lights above flickered on. The field was not grand, but the cavernous space entombed inside the rock shaped building made it all seem much grander, and Red and Blue's excitement levels began to peak.

    "Welcome to the Pewter City Gym!" Brock boomed as he walked across his battlefield, smiling widely at the two sodden teenagers before him. The gym leader was always shown wearing his trademark clay coloured pants and thick orange vest, so it was a surprise for Red and Blue to see him dressed up in a three piece suit, but neither one of them wanted to let shock hold them back from getting the first battle.

    "Hello Brock, my name is Blue, from –" Blue said, stepping forwards with an outstretched hand, but Red leapt forwards.

    " – Pallet Town, like me, Red," he said with a smile, and managed to grasp onto Brock's hand first. The gym leader smiled at the pair, sensing the animosity between them but not wanting to point it out, secretly admiring their competition: he would never have reached this position had he not strived his hardest to be better than every other trainer he had met. But, as Brock considered that, he noticed that the rivalry brewing between these two trainers felt different to any normal trainer-against-trainer face off.

    "Anyway, I am here for a battle!" Blue said, stepping forwards to prevent Red from getting in a way and throwing a smirk back towards his old friend. "What do you say, can we have a match, right now?"

    "I'm sorry boys, but Brock has an event to get to," Lucy said, suddenly appearing from behind Brock with a smile on that did not match her eyes. "The gym will be open again in the morning, and you will be able to –"

    "Lucy," Brock interrupted, turning around so his back was to Red and Blue. "These boys went out in this storm in order to have a battle; I can't possibly turn them away! Isn't it in the rules that I can't turn down a challenge unless there is a grave personal issue to deal with?"

    "This party is a grave personal issue!" Lucy hissed, looking fiery. "You need to promote yourself a bit more, make more of a name with the right people. That's how we get the money to renovate this place and finish adding in that bridge! Besides, the sign clearly said closed, and –"

    "That never stopped me before," Brock added, flashing her his pearly smile in order to win her over, but Lucy simply scowled. "Look, I am not saying we don't go to the party; I want to support Mark, but I think that these two show real determination and they deserve to have it rewarded! They are starting trainers anyway, from the looks of them, so they will only be quick battles." Lucy did not look convinced, but Brock simply stood his ground and looked as pleading and sexual as he could. After a minute Lucy simply rolled her eyes and pulled her mobile out, giving him a look that could send a Snorlax running.

    "You have half an hour to be done with both battles, because if we leave it any later then you won't have any time to socialize before the main event starts!" She snapped, beginning to text the relevant people the change in plans whilst looking at him. "This better be worth it!"

    "Cheers Lucy! I promise to smooze up to as many people as possible when I get there!" Brock said, taking his jacket off and passing it to her. He turned smirking back to the trainers behind him, neither of whom seemed to have paid much attention to what had just happened. "Alright, we have half an hour, so let's get started! I'll use only two Pokemon each, you two can use however many you want. Now, which of you wants to go first?"

    "I do!" They both said simultaneously, and then turned and glared at the other. Brock could see Lucy watching at him from the side of the field and knew that this was going to be trickier than he had anticipated.

    "Well… Blue, your name is first alphabetically, so let's just do things that way!" The gym leader said, grinning at them before moving down to his part of the mountain-like battlefield. Blue was surprised for a second, taking in that it he would be battling first, but than cockiness took over and he turned and grinned cheekily at Red before advancing towards the field.

    I will get my turn on the field soon enough, don't you worry Blue! Then we will see who deserves to smile, Red thought viciously, glaring at his so called friend as he strutted away. As he watched him go, Red's anger began to subside as he realised he would need to battle next. Nervously, the trainer reached into his pocket and felt his three PokeBalls: after confronting Blue again and seeing how confident he was, Red had told himself that Charmander, Rattata and Caterpie would be able to do this, that they were ready for battle. Now that he was here though, Red was not as certain; he gazed around the huge space, which seemed bigger than it had on the outside. The remaining lights all flickered on, the unnatural beams giving the sand, rocks and cold floor as a harsh white glow, but there was still so much hidden away in darkness, making Red shiver. This was not the same grand feeling he had felt back at the Pokemon League: Red felt tiny and insignificant, alone inside this huge building, and he only realised now just how big this all was.

    "You have battled before, haven't you?" Brock called out as he moved into position.

    "Of course, plenty!" Blue said, still beaming with cocky enthusiasm, but the question put a big dent in his confidence. Of course, twice I have had to be rescued from Team Rocket, and I only have three, unevolved Pokemon to fight with, who struggled at times to even defeat those pesky bug catchers roaming the forest, but don't worry, I have battling experience…

    No, I am ready for this, of course I am! Blue thought huffily as he watched Brock send for his PokeBalls. I wouldn't be standing here if I wasn't! I have Bulbasaur, he has super effective moves against whatever Brock sends my way. I will show Red that I was right all along: I will sweep Brock's Pokemon, and then I will sit back and watch as Red's team falls down one by one!

    "That is good to know!" Brock boomed as Lucy trotted back with a small tray loaded with rattling PokeBalls. "Some people come in, thinking it will be easy, and they are completely unprepared and get slaughtered!"

    "I know the type," Blue laughed pointedly. Brock scooped his PokeBalls up and smiled at a still sour Lucy, before slipping most of them away and keeping only one in his hand. My first opponent, Blue thought, tensing up as he wondered what the Pokemon would be.

    "Very well Blue, it is time to put yourself to the test!" Brock shouted, feeling more excited every second, simply pleased to be battling rather than dealing with the dreaded Pewter City social scene. "We all know that this is a Rock gym that is, pun intended, the first stepping stone for so many trainers. I first started my journey with a Pokemon quite like this, and in fact, this is the son of my very first Pokemon! I did not want to send my oldest friend out though, as he is too well trained and experienced for you, but that does not mean that this will be easy even with a type advantage!" Blue desperately tried to remember all the information he knew about Brock, trying to work out what this first Pokemon was: was it a Rhyhorn? … no… maybe a Geodude?

    "ONIX, ATTACK POSITION!" Brock roared, and Blue's mind stopped. He watched the PokeBall as it sailed through the air, bursting open near the middle of the field; red energy poured out, more than Blue had ever seen. A Pokemon began to solidify from the matter, stretching up towards the roof…

    Onix… Blue thought, heart sinking, and he inclined his head towards the ceiling; the Rock Snake loomed over him, taller than his house in Pallet Town, and with a much angrier expression. Blue swallowed nothing as he thought of Bulbasaur going out against this creature, and he realised too late that he was in over his head…

    ***

    "Excellent… everything is going according to plan…"

    Archer smirked to himself as moved through the room he had found himself in. It was meant to be a storage area for bits of exhibitions but seemed more like a glorified cupboard, loaded with so many chunky, brightly coloured displays that there wash barely enough space to breathe. However, there was enough room for all eight bodies: four standing and four piled unconscious on the floor.

    This was easier than I expected, Archer laughed as he examined their prizes. Even with a big event on tonight, there were no extra security checks, and all of the admins had slipped inside with only minimal disguises. They hid in plain sight as typical tourists, and had just waited around for the right moment. It had been pure luck that Leaf and her friends had shown up, but Archer had quickly worked to ensure they would be the key pawns in their elaborate plan…

    While this had all been easy, Archer knew his job was far from over. He had a lot to make up for after the disaster in Viridian Forest, and though they had easily captured Leaf, along with two friends and one of the richest women in Kanto, the extra bodies only making his job easier, Archer had to ensure everything else ran smoothly. Within the next two hours, the museum would fill with guests there to witness the rare meteorites, all unaware of the true show that Team Rocket would be giving them.

    "Everyone is getting into place both inside and outside," Arianna reported as she pocketed the altered PokeGear that they used to communicate. "The half a dozen Grunts pretending to be waiters are in position, and we have some outside serving as valets, so they can lock the doors when the time is right. Several limousines have already arrived, and I hear that plenty more will be here within the next twenty minutes."

    "It does not matter if people arrive early, as long they don't get in the way and things remain on schedule," Archer snapped back, smiling on the inside as Arianna nodded and backed down. You won't remain Giovanni's precious aide for much longer, he thought coldly, watching her retreat back to her corner of the cupboard.

    "If enough people arrive early though, I would image Mr Hansom would start his proceedings early. The pretty boy is hardly known for his patience, and as this has been built up for a while now, I imagine he will get it going as soon as possible." Archer's brief happiness evaporated as the calm, calculated snark of Petrel came from the shadows. His fellow admin stepped forwards, leaping delicately over Madame's unmoving body and approaching Archer with his typical grace.

    Petrel did not give off the impression of being an intimidating man. He was very slim, with pencil like arms and legs to a narrow head topped with slicked back purple hair. Spectacles rested on the end of his long nose, giving him the permanent look that he was gazing down at you when he spoke. A slight violet goatee topped his prominent chin, which clashed with his outfit; unlike the other admins, Petrel wore a tight fitting black outfit emblazoned with a large red 'R', nearly identical to a Grunt uniform except for shinier black boots and a brown leather belt with several small pockets.

    However, despite looking like a clown crossed with a biker, Archer was always unsettled when Petrel was around. He knew little of the man's past, unlike those of the other two admins, and was unsure about what he did for Team Rocket. Archer and Arianna were in charge of organising the attacks and arranging the organisation following Giovanni's orders, while Proton trained the Grunts and served as muscle. Petrel just simply seemed to be there, and it made Archer feel weary whenever they interacted.

    "I am well aware of what Mark Hansom is like, thank you Petrel, but we have a plan we need to stick to," Archer explained as calmly as possible. Petrel simply raised an eyebrow as he began examining some metallic artefact on the shelf before him.

    "If you say so, but I do think it would make the most sense to have everyone and everything in position earlier rather than later. Do we even know where Gideon is?"

    "Gideon does not need to be here for the main part of the plan, he is only necessary afterwards," Archer snapped before realising he was losing his temper. Petrel smirked as he began juggling two museum pieces, and Archer had to look away, focussing instead on Proton. He was the bulkiest of the four admins, bringing the brawn to match the other's brains. His uniform was mostly black with white strips down the side, clinging tightly to his bulging muscles. His muscular frame did not reach his face, which had a youthful but sinister quality to it. Proton's hair was a mix between blue and green, similar to Archer's, with a black hat rested atop his gelled style.

    "Proton, we need to get the slabs and the girls into position," Archer explained. "Get some of the Grunts to help you if you need –"
    "I won't," Proton replied, flexing his arms and grinning at them all. He walked past Archer and checked the coast was clear before disappearing down the corridor. Archer was only letting them move about in uniform because the security cameras were under their control, having been turned off and replaced with images of empty corridors and rooms. The museum staff were busy on the first floor trying to get everything ready for the party, meaning the top floors were free for Rocket to roam about.

    "What do we do with them?" Arianna asked. Archer looked down at the three girls and the old woman lying on the floor before him, their eyes shut and mouths ajar, sprawled at odd angles from where they were placed. They looked so innocent and helpless laying there, unaware of the role they would play in the night's events.

    "Wait until Proton gets back, then he can put them into position," Archer replied, smirking as he stared down at Leaf and Janine. He would love to have some time alone with them, to teach them a lesson in crossing people like him, but there was not enough time.

    Besides, Archer thought to himself as he turned away, they will be dead before midnight anyway.

    ***

    Crap…

    That was the only thing Blue could think of. He still could not get over the shock of Onix being sent out: he had expected something tame like a Geodude or maybe a rare Kabuto or Omanyte, tiny, unthreatening Pokemon. But Onix… this was a Pokemon that looked like someone had pulled a chunk out of Mt Moon and had brought it to life. The grey- brown Pokemon was staring down at Blue with wide, unmoving eyes, expressionless mouth ajar, wide enough to make Blue think it would lunge down and swallow him whole.

    How does this thing even digest anyway? Blue thought. Wait, why the hell am I questioning its diet? I need to focus! I have Bulbasaur, he can do this for me! There is nothing to worry about!

    "Are you going to send your first Pokemon out?" Brock asked, hidden away behind Onix's massive body. "We are on restricted time you know!"

    "Yes, right… sorry!" Blue said, shaking his body a little bit to get him back into the mood. He reached into his pocket and pulled out Bulbasaur's PokeBall, beginning to feel confident once more. I can do this… I know I can! "Bulbasaur, GO!" He shouted and threw the ball forwards. The capsule burst open with a blast of red light, and moments later Bulbasaur was squatting on the ground a few metres away. Blue's confidence sunk once more as he took in the height and weight difference between the two Pokemon; the rocks scattered across the field were bigger than Bulbasaur, let alone the fact Onix could swallow the Seed Pokemon whole.

    "Can you handle this one Bulbasaur?" Blue asked, trying to stay confident up even though he was asking the question more to himself than his Pokemon.

    "Saur Bulba Saur!" Bulbasaur replied in his grouchy tones, turning back and nodding at Blue, and the trainer relaxed a bit.

    "Bulbasaur, eh? A fine choice, though you are not the first trainer to come through with one of these!" Brock exclaimed. "We will just have to see how you compare to the rest! Challenger has the first move – let the battle begin!"

    "Vine Whip, go!" Blue commanded instantly, and Bulbasaur sprinted forwards as fast as his stubby legs would carry him. As he got nearer, two thick, green vines began to emerge from underneath his bulb.

    "Harden!" Brock ordered. Onix made a slight grunting noise, and before Bulbasaur could strike a slight white gleam slid down the Rock Snake's body.

    "SAUR!" Bulbasaur cried, stopping a few feet away from Onix, and he lashed out with his vines, smashing them against the highest point he could reach. Onix glanced down at the Grass type with a look like he was examining an irritating bug rather than a proper opponent. Blue cursed the use of Harden, which would make Tackle even more useless than it currently was and would greatly weaken the effectiveness of Vine Whip.

    I can't let this stop me though… Imagine what Red would say if I gave up already! Blue thought bitterly, glancing briefly at his companion. "Alright Bulbasaur, launch a Leech Seed!"

    "Tackle!" Brock cried, and Blue stifled a terrified gasp.

    "OOOONNNN!" Onix roared, and he raised his body up to its fullest height, barely balancing on the tiniest part of his tail. Blue and Bulbasaur both looked up in terror as the Rock Snake dived downwards, a massive grey blur that would quickly and easily strike. If that move connected, Blue was not sure Bulbasaur would be able to survive, and then he would only have Rattata and that mysterious Pokemon he had brought….

    "JUMP!" Blue screamed, losing all sense of strategy and coolness as he saw his dreams of winning getting crushed. Bulbasaur responded, and he turned and threw himself towards the nearest boulder, using it as a shield. It was only then that Blue actually realised the genius of his plan: Onix was so massive that turning smoothly was not an easy option, especially as he was mostly airborne, but that did not stop him. Onix saw Bulbasaur move and tried to turn, but the sudden change upset the weight of his serpentine body, and Blue watched in delight as Onix collapsed in a heap, sending a big enough cloud of sand to engulf the whole field, the thud of his body shaking the building.

    "SAUR!" Bulbasaur yelled from somewhere in the sand cloud, and Blue knew that a small seed was being fired from his bulb, and that seed would unleash a series of vines that would wrap around Onix and slowly drain his energy and transfer it to Bulbasaur.

    This… this is actually going well! Blue thought, smiling to himself. For a moment all hope had seemed lost, but now it appeared as though nothing could stand in his way.

    "Nice work there, though that seemed more like a happy accident than strategy," Brock called out, a touch of annoyance in his voice. Blue scowled at his comments, but he was not going to let the gym leader throw him off his game like that.

    "How's this for strategy then? Jump onto Onix's head and score a direct Vine Whip!" He shouted. The sand was beginning to settle, so Blue was able to see Bulbasaur again, standing atop a boulder and getting ready to jump. Onix nearly blended into the surroundings, especially now he was covered in sand, and Blue hoped Bulbasaur would be able to make it before Onix moved.

    "Bind him with the end of your tail!" Brock commanded. Blue cursed at his easy win getting crushed, but still felt confident as he saw Bulbasaur launch off his boulder, vines flailing. Onix had barely reacted to his order before Bulbasaur landed right above his eyes, and quickly the Grass type began thrashing him directly on the head.

    "Onnn!" Onix groaned, and he raised his head up, lifting Bulbasaur several metres into the air. Blue watched as Onix repositioned himself so that he rested on the middle of his body, and then he arced the rest of his stony body to bring his head and tail closer.

    "Bulba!" Bulbasaur exclaimed as the stony tail appeared from nowhere, suddenly wrapping itself around his body. Blue felt terrified as Bulbasaur was lifted up into the air, being hold up purely by his enemy. The Seed Pokemon tried to pry himself free with his vines, but the Bind was too tight and Bulbasaur gave up after over a minute of struggling. Energy flowed across from the Leech Seed wrapped around parts of Onix's face, but Blue did not think it would be enough to ensure Bulbasaur survived.

    There has to be something I can do, I can't lose like this! Blue thought nervously, but as he went over all the possible moves and attacks he had, he knew that there was little more he could do asides from what he was already struggling with.

    "Now Onix, release him from Bind and let's finish this with Rock Tomb!" Brock yelled. Blue was horrified: once Bulbasaur became trapped by the rocks, there would be nothing he could do to win the battle…

    Unless… Blue pondered as he Onix geared up for the attack. If Onix would release Bulbasaur from the Bind, then there would be some time in between the two attacks where Bulbasaur could get free. It would be too difficult for him to leap away without getting caught again, but Bulbasaur did have methods of getting around that.

    "Use your bines to swing back onto Onix's head, then hit him in the eyes with Vine Whip!" Blue commanded and he saw Brock's eyes bulge at the command.

    "Saur Saur!" Bulbasaur cried, and as soon as Onix's grip lessened the Grass type extended his right vine as far as possible: it wrapped around the middle of Onix near where his body touched the field, and Bulbasaur swung forwards, dramatically swooping down. Blue thought that he might crash into the sand, but Bulbasaur was able to get his left vine out and wrapped around Onix. The Rock Snake seemed startled by the unconventional move, and Bulbasaur was able to maximise on the surprise and get his right vine wrapped around his head.

    "BULBAAAA!" Bulbasaur cried as he lifted himself up, and he raised both vines and brought them crashing down, scoring a direct hit on Onix's eyes.

    "OOOOOONNNNN!" Onix roared in pain, the cry so loud that some of the lights shuddered. Blue suffered through the pain as it was clear that he was winning. Onix slumped forwards out of tiredness, the Leech Seed draining more energy out of him, while Bulbasaur appeared on top of the world.

    "AGAIN!" Blue yelled ecstatically, and Bulbasaur quickly responded, bringing his vines down twice. Brock seemed to have accepted the defeat of his Pokemon as he did not bother giving a command. Indeed, a moment after the attack Onix gave a weary grunt and crashed down to the sand, the last of his energy drained away by the Leech Seed. Bulbasaur jumped onto a boulder before Onix could crush him, and Blue saw that he remained in perfect health – good enough to defeat the next opponent.

    "Very well…," Brock said quietly half a minute after Onix had fallen, "it appears Onix has been defeated." The gym leader was clearly taken aback by the sudden defeat of his prize Pokemon, but Blue could not feel happier; not only had he won, he had shown up a gym leader in the early stages of his first gym battle. Now that was something that anyone would be proud of, especially his grandfather…

    "Great work Bulbasaur!" Blue shouted as he jumped excitedly on the spot. All his worry and nervousness evaporated over the glory of this win, and he knew that nothing would stay in Bulbasaur's way now.

    "You're a good trainer – you may not have a strategy, but you think quickly on your feet, that is a good sign," Brock said as he withdrew Onix. In a normal mood Blue may have taken the compliment, but he was too high on his own joy to think straight.

    "I wish I could say the same about you!" He replied with a devilish smile, and savoured the shocked looks on both Brock and his assistant's face. They seemed unimpressed, and Blue saw Bulbasaur looked a bit uncomfortable, but he was far too delighted to care. He glanced back over at Red as thunder growled overhead, making the building feel like it was shaking, and he gave his friend a smile, daring him to pull off the same feat.

    ***

    As Leaf returned to consciousness, she knew already that she was in deep trouble.

    Her head was spinning; her vision was blurred so she could not make anything out, and every noise sounded faint and distant like it was coming through a tunnel. Leaf could feel a sharp pain in her shoulders and arms, which were raised above her head, and when she tried moving them they remained stiff….

    Leaf groaned quietly as her memories came back; the last thing she could remember was finding everyone unconscious in the Educational Room, and then a familiar face looming over her right before she had passed out herself….

    It was Archer…Leaf thought, and she could not help but moan again, anger and disappointment rising up inside. Why was she getting caught up in yet another one of Team Rocket's schemes? Her day had been going so well since she had arrived at the museum and Leaf had so been looking forward to attending the fundraiser, but now she had no idea if she was still on the museum premises. Her vision was getting a bit clearer now, but all she could see were a bunch of shelves, half cast in darkness.

    Does it even matter where I am? Leaf thought irritably. I am kidnapped, I am bound up against something, I am not going to be able to attend the party even if it is happening right downstairs! Why does Team Rocket keep coming after us? What have we ever done to deserve this treatment?

    "Leaf… Leaf, are you awake?" Someone groaned near her, and Leaf turned her head to the right so quickly it made her dizzy, but she was relieved to find someone else was awake.
    "Susie, is that you?" She whispered, not wanting to raise her voice too much as she still had no idea where she was or who was around. Leaf could barely make out her old friend as she was away from the light, but the trainer could see that her arms were raised as well, and they were attached to a large slab of wood.

    "What's going on Leaf?" Susie whimpered. "The last thing I remember is seeing that dead old woman, and then I fell asleep, and now… and now… where are we Leaf, I'm scared?!" Susie wailed, and she began to sob, desperately pulling at her restraints as if she would magically come free. Leaf felt as defeated as she did, but she knew that one of them had to remain tough.

    "Don't worry Susie, we'll get out of here," she said, hoping she sounded encouraging. "I am pretty sure we have just been kidnapped by Team Rocket, but –"

    "Kidnapped?! By TEAM ROCKET!" Susie cried, and she let out a long, loud groan that made Leaf cringe, largely as it was the sort of noise that would attract guards. "How can you act calm about that? Have you not seen a newspaper lately?"

    "I can't say I have," Leaf replied, feeling a bit stupid.

    "Well, not much is actually known about them except for rumours, but my father said they are a group of thugs that are going around stealing people's Pokemon!" Susie replied, her tears stopping as she changed into the slightly snobbish person she always became whenever she knew stuff other people didn't. Leaf normally got amused when her friend acted like this, but it was not an appropriate situation, and she was too surprised by the news that Team Rocket were well known, and that they were viewed as terrorists. She had seen them as over glorified thugs that had decided to specifically target them, but what if this was all part of some much larger scheme?

    "Whoever they are, there is still a chance we can get away!" Leaf said, pushing her worries to the back of her mind. "Mark Hansom, the host of the party, saw us before and we said we were going to come. He will probably be on the lookout for us, and Madame as well, she is very well known; if we don't show up he is bound to notice!"

    "That's your grand plan?" Susie snapped, and Leaf glared at her, tempted to hit her if her hands were not bound.

    "There's Red and Blue as well, they are bound to notice if I don't turn up!" Leaf added, though that was even less likely to happen; they were too absorbed in their squabble to notice or care about her right now, and it could be hours before they finally asked where she and Janine had gotten to. "If I could reach my PokeBalls I would send Squirtle out, though they must have taken them off us…"

    "They better not hurt my Spearow!" Susie said, suddenly sounding emotional again. "I only caught her the other day, I don't want to lose her already!" She sniffed and seemed like she was going to start crying again, and Leaf would have felt sympathetic if she did not think a guard would appear any moment, searching for the source of all the racket.

    "I am sure your Spearow will be fine, just be quiet!" Another voice snapped behind them, and Leaf could tell it was Janine.

    "Janine!" She exclaimed in a whisper. "How are you feeling, can you see properly? Do you have any of your weapons on me?"

    "I feel fine, except that my arms are all bound up," Janine replied, "so even if they had left me with any I can't reach them… though I am sure there will be a few they haven't quite gotten to, or at least I hope they didn't," she added, sounding repulsed, and Leaf did not inquire any further. She looked around, wondering where Madame was, but the old woman was nowhere in sight. Something rumbled overhead and Leaf figured the storm must be ongoing. I'm not wet though, they can't have taken us outside… maybe we are still in the museum.

    "I can hear voices," Susie said suddenly, and Leaf paused in her thoughts. She could indeed hear some low murmuring that sounded as though it was in the next room, and for a moment she panicked to think that there captors were only a few metres away.

    "Stay quiet!" Janine hissed, and Susie cut her sobbing immediately. Leaf bit her lips to try and prevent herself from making a sound, and she stared around, trying to work out where the voices were coming from and if the owners were about to enter. The distant roar of thunder, now reduced to a slight grumbling, sounded what felt like every few seconds, but in this tense silence Leaf had no idea how much time had passed as they waited, hoping those voices would go away…

    The voices stopped, and for a moment they did not continue, and Leaf breathed a sigh of relief. Moments later though, a door swung open at the end of the room, and Susie could not hold back her whimper as light framed the two figures standing in the doorway.

    "Well, well, well, it appears our Sleeping Beauties have awoken!" Archer purred, his voice much calmer than the last time Leaf had heard it. He did not appear at all harmed from his attack on their camp, and walked in with the definite swagger of a very successful person. Leaf wanted to come up with some witty one liner like they always did in movies, but she felt too helpless and exposed, bound to the wood like this, and the figure that followed Archer in drained the last of her courage; the man wore a figure hugging outfit that showed off the powerful muscles underneath, and his young face had an evil sense of malice spread across it as he sneered in her direction.

    "Leaf my dear, have you had the pleasure of meeting Proton before?" Archer asked, gesturing towards his associate, acting like a host bringing two friends together. "He is in charge of training our Grunts, and he definitely has the strength to deal with any of you should you try misbehaving."

    "Oh, he trains those weaklings that my Ekans defeated the other day?" Janine chimed out from the back. "Wow, you must not be very good at your job – those little bastards dropped like flies!" Proton turned towards her and anger flashed across his face, and for a second Leaf was certain he would advance towards her. However, Archer smirked and slightly put his arm out, preventing him from going further.

    "What a lovely joke, I am sure you enjoyed that, but Proton will enjoy punishing you for it later," the admin said, chuckling to himself. He then turned suddenly towards Leaf, a creepy smile crawling across his face, and Leaf shivered in disgust. "Leaf, Leaf, Leaf, after all those attempts to kill you, how simple it has been to capture you for what will be the final time! I hope you know, my dear girl, that you are not going to survive the events of tonight; while I would relish in finishing you off now, you and your friends have a large role to play, not only tonight, but in the entire Team Rocket scheme! Now Proton, put her into position, and then come back for the others– quickly now!"

    "Yes boss," Proton grunted, and he marched towards Leaf. She tensed up, expecting to be touched, but the muscular man moved behind her, and a moment later Leaf swayed as he picked up the slab. Easily, Proton carried the wood forwards, moving so quickly that Leaf was unable to make out anything on the shelves around them. He stepped out of the room and into a corridor, and Leaf mentally gasped as she realised that they were indeed still in the museum: the white, marble walls were far too distinctive, and Leaf could make out a familiar display case in the corner of her eye.

    We're still on the top level, she thought to herself in shock. Proton turned right and walked towards the balcony, and Leaf could hear fine orchestral music playing below and the general murmur of a large group of people talking. The party has begun… I am meant to be down there, not tied to a piece of wood about to get murdered! She wanted to look down and see what was happening, but Proton swerved her away, heading down a bare corridor past class rooms where school groups were brought to. Two Rocket grunts stood by one door and they held it open, allowing Proton and Leaf to pass through.

    They began making their way through an empty classroom, all the tables and chairs stacked to the side. Leaf wondered if they would be stopping here, but another door was held open and Proton carried his victim into a narrow corridor, and Leaf presumed that this connected the two sides of the museum together. The walls were just plain concrete, with exposed pipes and wires about that did not appear very safe. Though that hardly matters now, I am going to die anyway…

    Leaf drifted off into thought, barely noticing when they went from the corridor into an empty room, the opposite to the classroom. All she could really think about was how she had ended up like this. Leaf had left Pallet Town to go on a journey, to experience the real world and leave her small town behind. She yearned for independence and excitement, to train her own Pokemon and get a taste of what was out there. She had never wanted anything like this; being targeted and hunted like some wild Pokemon, being harassed, attacked, injured, having all the good things ruined. She had wanted to experience things like the party happening below, and instead Leaf would die in some unknown way as part of some unknown scheme, and for the first time since leaving Pallet, Leaf truly wished she had never stepped over the town limits…

    "Here we are, princess," Proton grunted, and he dropped the slab with a thud. Leaf looked up and realised she was opposite the balcony she had been on what seemed like a minute ago. She could hear rain and thunder mixed with the chatter and violins below, and Leaf was curious; why exactly was she being left here of all places? Wouldn't someone see her, all exposed like this? None of this made any sense…

    "Do you like the view here?" Proton asked with a cruel tone as he appeared before her, smiling broadly. "You'd better, cause it's the last thing you'll ever see!" And before Leaf could say anything, a fist appeared out of nowhere, and suddenly she was seeing black once more.

    ***

    Before Brock had even brought back his unconscious Geodude, Red moved forwards into position.

    He had watched Blue's battle with a mixture of awe and rage: his friend had clearly trained Bulbasaur well and the two worked well together, easily bringing down Onix and then having no issue with Geodude, but Blue clearly had no strategy. He merely rolled with the punches and hoped that his moves paid off, which they miraculously did. Red had always been under the impression that a proper strategy would be needed in order to secure a victory, yet Blue had won his badge so easily it was almost laughable.

    I have to do better then him, Red thought bitterly, clutching his PokeBalls in his hand. He had watched Brock and gone over all the different strategies and moves he had considered these past few days; Red had hoped for more time to work on them and make everything flawless, but now that he was here he would have to do the best he could with what he had, but Red would not walk out of here without a badge.

    "That was definitely an interesting battle," Brock said to Blue, the two standing in the middle of the field. "We are many people's first gym, and more than half of them fail the first time, but it always makes me proud when someone in that forty percent or so comes along and kicks my butt!" The gym leader was acting friendly and joyful as he had earlier, but Red could tell he was annoyed with the way Blue had won from the look on his face. Blue had no idea though as he took his Boulder Badge and TM and shook Brock's hand, turning away wearing a broad, cocky smile.

    "Good luck Red," he said as he walked past, "you'll need it."

    "I think you've used up enough luck for both of us, I will stick with strategy and skill, thanks," Red retorted, and was satisfied with Blue's shocked expression. He was sure their friendship would get past this once the battling was over, but for now, Red was happy to compete if Blue was in that mind sight.

    I just need to win this… he thought, turning back to the field. The sand and rocks had been disturbed by the previous battle, the field now uneven and one boulder had shattered due to a badly timed Tackle. They were not the best conditions, especially for what Red had planned, but he could only hope that this battle would go well.

    "We need to hurry along Brock, the actual event will be starting soon!" Brock's assistant cried from the sidelines, and Brock nodded as he got a fresh PokeBall from his pocket.

    "So Red, are you ready to begin?" He asked as he moved into position.

    "As ready as I'll ever be," Red replied, and Brock chuckled.

    "That's the attitude I like to see!" He laughed. "Alright then Red, let's find out just how ready you are!" And with those words, the battle began: Brock threw his first ball forwards, and quickly a new Geodude was on the field. The Pokemon basically looked like a small boulder with an aggressive face and massive brown fists, and Red had certainly seen those in action against Bulbasaur. However, Blue and Bulbasaur had the advantage of Vine Whip and Leech Seed to eliminate their opponent; Geodude was a powerful Pokemon, but Red had hoped Brock would start out with the Rock Pokemon. It made things much easier…

    "Go Caterpie!" He cried, and threw his first PokeBall forwards. Laughter erupted from behind, and Red turned and glared at Blue as he doubled over and laughed. He turned back to find Caterpie had formed, his lime green skin sticking out amongst the various shades of brown. It was clear already that Geodude, though small compared to Onix, had a distinct height and weight advantage over Caterpie. Red had been worried about the size comparison, and he only hoped that his strategy would work.

    "Interesting decision there," Brock said, a sceptical look on his face, and Red was pleased that the gym leader was made uncertain by his decision. "I hope that you have some sort of strategy going here?"

    "Don't worry, I do!" I just hope it works…

    "Very well then… your move first!"

    "String Shot!" Red bellowed with forced enthusiasm.

    "Tackle!" Brock commanded, and Geodude did not hold back: he pushed his hands against the ground and launched forwards, his body easily smashing into Caterpie.

    "Prieeee!" Caterpie cried as she was sent rolling backwards, and for a moment Red thought the attack had been too powerful. Fortunately, Caterpie was able to get back up, and she fired her String Shot. The attack struck Geodude on the face and right arm, and the Rock type looked uncomfortable but appeared mostly unbothered.

    "I was wondering what you were planning on doing, and I think I have your plan worked out," Brock called out, smirking, and Red merely shrugged back.

    "We'll have to see about that, won't we?" He replied, making Brock chuckle once more. "String Shot again, let's go!"

    "Defence Curl! Two can play at this game!" Brock cried. Geodude wrapped his hands around his body, making him look more like a boulder than normal, and he briefly glowed as his defence rose. Caterpie fired her String Shot as Geodude uncurled, getting his left arm this time and making her opponent grumble. It was not the most exciting of battles, but Red had to build up in order to guarantee a win with the Pokemon he had.

    "String Shot, keep it up!"

    "Rock Throw!" Brock yelled, and Red gulped: if this super effective attack hit, Caterpie would be done for. Geodude instinctively went towards the shattered pieces of boulder, scooping them up in his massive hands as easily as if they were feathers.

    "Hide Caterpie!" Red ordered, and the Pokemon turned and quickly scuttled across the sandy field towards the closest boulder. Geodude saw her moving and began to throw, but Red was stunned but excited to see the String Shot was taking effect: the attack was slowing him down and making his arm tense up as he raised it to throw. Caterpie reached the safety of the nearest boulder as the bombardment began, but the only thing that got damaged was the boulder itself, the pieces of rock harmlessly bouncing off.

    "Caterpieeeeeee!" Caterpie cried, appearing around the boulder unscathed and firing her String Shot, and this time Geodude was hit right in the face, nearly covering his eyes. Red was ecstatic that his plan was actually working, and he could not help but beam as he got out two PokeBalls.

    "That's enough Caterpie, return!" He cried. "Charmander, it's your chance to shine!" Caterpie disappeared in a flash of red, and was replaced moments later by the Flame Pokemon in the exact same spot: Charmander's orange skin and bright, burning tale stood out as well, but he was more of a match height wise for Geodude, and having longer legs would hopefully help with moving swiftly.

    "So you switch a Bug for a Fire type?" Brock said, amused. "Has anyone ever taught you about type advantages and disadvantages?"

    "Who needs them when you've got strong Pokemon?" Red retorted, and Brock was taken aback by the response.

    "Very well then: let's see how you handle Rock Throw!"

    "Hide again!" Red yelled, and Charmander quickly jumped towards another boulder. Geodude slowly gathered more of the damaged boulder and tried to move towards his target this time, but his reduced speed was not helped by the heavy rocks. The gym fell silent except for the raging storm outside as Geodude grunted and tried to move with only one hand, but it all seemed too much.

    "DUDE!" He yelled before anti-dramatically initiating his attack, and the rocks simply rebounded off the massive boulder.

    "Metal Claw!" Red commanded quickly, wanting to move things along.

    "Tackle!" Brock yelled, looking irritated. Charmander quickly ran around the side of the boulder and rushed towards Geodude, his right claws flashing silver. Geodude geared up for Tackle, pushing his hands against the ground, but Charmander leapt up before he could move.

    "CHAAAAR!" He roared, though it did not sound very threatening. However, he brought his Metal Claw down on the back of Geodude's head as he landed, making the Rock type cry out. Something flashed in Charmander's eyes, and Red stifled his excitement as he sensed a stat change.

    "Again!" He yelled.

    "Defence Curl!" Brock cried, but Charmander was too quick: he slashed out once more, using more force so that Geodude was sent crashing into a boulder. Red cheered as Geodude fell to the sand unconscious, and his suspicions that Metal Claw had boosted Charmander's attack were proved.

    "That was a rather risky but effective strategy," Brock called out as he withdrew Geodude. "I was not sure where you were going, but your idea clearly worked, so congratulations to you!" Red smiled back at him and glanced briefly back at Blue, pleased to see his annoyance.

    "However, let's see how you go against this!" Brock yelled with a smirk, and he threw his next PokeBall. Charmander stepped backwards as the energy poured out, and Red looked up as another Onix formed before him. Even though he had seen one less than half an hour before, Red was still impressed by the massive, boulder-like beast with a body that nearly filled the field. This is the real test – Geodude was easy, but he and Charmander were on a similar level. If we can defeat him, then nothing else will get in our way…

    "Can you handle this Charmander?" Red called.

    "Charman Char Chaaar!" Charmander replied, turning back and showing no signs of fear.

    "Excellent! Start this off with SmokeScreen!"

    "Get a Harden in straight away!" Brock ordered, and the second fight kicked off dully: Onix remained still and simply gleamed as his Defence rose, while Charmander waved his tail around, black smoke rising from his flame that began to cover him.

    "Metal Claw!" Red shouted. This sole move was his greatest asset against the Rock Snake looming above him, and he hoped that Charmander was strong enough for the attack to be effective.

    "The SmokeScreen won't help you against Onix! Tackle!" Brock yelled.

    "OOOONNNN!" Onix roared. The beast leaned backwards, arcing most of its body and lowering his head, and Red tensed up as the Rock Snake dived down in a sort of sports tackle, rocketing towards the swirling black cloud. Charmander was smart enough to know not to stand in the open, and he turned and jumped behind the closest boulder, with a hint of silver flashing in the dark.

    However, the move did not work: Onix ploughed easily through the boulder, blasting it into fragments that scattered everywhere, and Charmander roared as he was sent flying backwards, struck down by the juggernaut of an opponent. A cloud of dust rose up and covered most of the action, but a worried Red took some relief in the muffled groan of Onix, hopefully from a Metal Claw related injury. He watched Charmander land on the very edge of the field, the SmokeScreen not hiding the fact he looked battered.

    "Are you alright?" Red shouted, wanting to run forwards but unsure if he was allowed. Charmander looked at him with less of the happiness he had displayed earlier, but nodded as he wearily got the feet, the same time as Onix reared back up like a drawbridge rising for a boat. The Rock Snake was not as easy to attack as Blue had made it look, and Red realised he would need an all out assault to make this work.

    "Metal Claw again!" He cried, hoping it would be a direct hit this time.

    "Bind!" Brock ordered, and Red was taken aback, having expected some Rock or Ground type move to utilize the type advantage. Onix was ready, and he quickly repositioned himself and swung his tail out, capturing the black smoke that was Charmander before the Fire type could get away.

    "Chaaar!" He cried out as Onix lifted him up and began to crush the life out of him. Red saw Metal Claw flash and Onix grunted as the attack struck, but it was not enough for him to let go of Charmander. Bind would also prevent Red from switching Charmander out, so he was simply stick until Onix either let him go or he fainted…

    "Come on Charmander, Metal Claw!" The trainer shouted, struggling to think of what else he could do, his hopes shattering before him.

    "Harden!" Brock yelled almost triumphantly, and Red knew that Onix could simply just raise his defence until Charmander finally fainted, the Bind doing all the work for him. The Rock Snake's body glowed and Charmander got another direct hit, though the Bind was leading to an uneventful fight as Brock waited for Charmander to faint. Red knew he would have to try a different tactic if he wanted to win: Charmander had one move he had not tried, as it seemed too risky with such a type disadvantage, but if the extra effect came into play, it just might be enough…

    "Ember!" He shouted, and the cry echoed in the suddenly silent gym. Brock looked surprised for a second, but then he simply smirked, beginning to chuckle almost cruelly.

    "A Fire type move? Really?" He scoffed. "I am sure you know that will never do anything! Harden again, let's wrap this up."

    "We'll see," Red replied with a smile as Onix shone once again, raising his Defence for the third time. The young trainer tried to stay hopeful, but this was a very risky move, and he watched intensely as a ball of fire that seemed miniscule in comparison to its opponent rose from the SmokeScreen, flying up and striking Onix just below his head.

    "On," Onix mumbled, looking down at the slight scorch mark, wondering what that had been. Red was certain it had failed, but a second later the mark erupted into flames: orange and yellow fire danced across Onix's rocky body, and the Pokemon roared in pain as the burn began to take effect. His body weakened, and Red watched gallantly as Charmander fell to the ground. Brock looked stunned, and Red glanced back to see Blue was just as surprised, but he was too happy at the change in battle to really care about what they thought; there was a chance that Charmander could win this!

    "That was excellent! Use SmokeScreen once more!"

    "Bind him again!" Brock yelled, his laughter getting replaced with annoyance. The burn died down for the time being and Onix looked down at the cloud of smoke with rage filled eyes. The Rock type lunged with his tail once again, but this time it went right through the smoke and came out the other side.

    "Char Char!" Charmander yelled as if taunting him, and the SmokeScreen thickened, his body completely disappearing as his disguise grew to the size of one of the boulders. Onix yelled again as his injury burnt once more, and Red could see weariness coming into his eyes.

    "This is nearly it Charmander! Metal Claw, do it down his entire body!"

    "ROCK TOMB!" Brock bellowed at the same time as thunder crashed above them. Onix roared just as loudly, and he angrily smashed his tail into the nearest boulder. The massive rock shattered into pieces, and Onix waved his tail around them, firing the segments towards the cloud of smoke. If the move hit, a Bind weakened Charmander would be done for. Red watched the stone shards soar towards his Pokemon, crossing his fingers that they would become lost in the smoke, that Charmander would be able to get away…

    The Rock Tomb landed, crashing into the sand and sending dust up to join the smog, and Red had no idea what had happened to Charmander: was he hit, was he conscious, had it missed? He leaned forwards as if it will help, and tensely watched, waiting for a sign…

    "CHAAAAAR!" Charmander yelled, and the black cloud of smoke leapt forwards. Onix was so stunned that he remained still, allowing Charmander to leap onto his body and jump up near his head. The Rock Snake roared as Charmander moved down his underside, and Red beamed as he knew that Metal Claw was responsible. Charmander jumped away as he finished, and Red cheered as Onix dramatically slumped forwards, crashing onto one of the few whole boulders left.

    "Onix… Onix has fainted, meaning that Charmander has won. As both of my Pokemon have fainted, the battle is over, and I hereby declare Red the winner," Brock announced, sounding a tad annoyed but forcing a smile in order to be a gracious leader. Red beamed and whooped, and he ran forwards to Charmander, the SmokeScreen fading away and revealing a very tired but smiling orange lizard.

    "That was AWESOME!" Red yelled, scooping up his weary Pokemon and hugging him as close as his flaming tail would allow. "I can't believe you managed to do that! I am so proud of you right now!"

    "Mander Char Man Char!" Charmander exclaimed, hugging his trainer back and beaming in a tired way. There was a flash in the corner of Red's eye and he looked to see Onix had been withdrawn, Brock now approaching him with his assistant in tow. The gym leader definitely looked annoyed but wore a smile as he brought over the prizes. Red tensed up as Brock passed over the main prize: a small, dull grey badge in his right hand. It was his first gym badge, the first step of his journey to the Pokemon League, his first real achievement, and Red was overcome with delight.

    "Those were risky moves, but they definitely paid off, so well done on taking those gambles!" Brock said with a forced smile, and he passed the prizes across. Charmander climbed onto Red's shoulder so that the two trainers could shake hands, and Red beamed widely as he got his rewards.

    "We did it!" He cried to Charmander, all sense of calm and cool disappearing as he became overcome with victory. Charmander beamed broadly, and even Brock seemed to soften a bit at this display of joy. However, Red could see Blue was advancing towards them, and he fell silent as he saw the look on his companion's face.

    "You were so lucky there!" Blue snarled as he approached them all. "If you had gotten a few more Rock moves your way, your entire team would have been crushed!"

    "I had a strategy at least, unlike you and your random orders!" Red snapped back, his happiness disintegrating as their animosity arose once more. "You won't win like that against the other gym leaders!"

    "My Pokemon will be ready to take on any gym leader and handle anything that comes their way –"

    "Will you two shut up?" Brock snapped, and Red and Blue fell silent, turning to face the gym leader as he glared angrily between them. "I will admit that when I was a travelling trainer, I would occasionally argue with my friends, but this is just ridiculous! You should be congratulating each other, not bickering like petty children!"

    "We wouldn't be fighting if he hadn't said my team was useless!" Red huffed, glowering at Blue.

    "If you had just listened to me in the first place –"

    "Enough!" Brock said firmly. His assistant impatiently tapped her watch and dangled his jacket, and Brock sighed and gave her a nod, extending his arms out. "A gym journey is no game you can play on your own! You need support, you need friends to help you train and get you through the bad times and celebrate the good! You both defeated me, you should focus on that!" He said intensely as his assistant helped put his jacket on. Red looked at Charmander and got a nod of approval from his starter, and he began to feel ashamed. He did not look Blue directly in the eye, but as silence fell between them, he could tell that his friend shared the feelings of guilt and shame.

    "Now, I need to go now, I really should attend this blasted party," Brock grumbled. "Do you two need a lift anywhere?"

    "Actually, our friend got some free tickets to the party, so I think we should probably go to the museum as well," Red said. He had no idea what else to do asides from going back to the Pokemon Center, but they would both get soaked if they made their way there. The assistant did not look too happy with the idea of taking two scruffy trainers with them, but Brock seemed to either not mind or care as he gave a nod. He led the way to the door, and Red and Blue followed in tow. They did not speak, but Red wished now that they had never fought, staring down at the small grey badge in his hands; was this really worth losing a friend?

    ***

    The storm showed no signs of stopping, tearing down trees and ripping up roofs, but the party was only just beginning.

    Mark Hansom stood proudly on the west staircase, looking over the event he had spent months organising. About one hundred people were crammed into the museum foyer, all wearing their best tuxedos and dresses, dining on the fine cuisine and lapping up free champagne and cocktails. Classical music echoed throughout the entire building from the quartet in one corner, while the buzz of delightful chatter rose up to the ceiling, nearly drowning out the storm.

    I knew this would be brilliant, but I did not think it would go so wonderfully! Mark thought as he nodded and flashed his dazzling smile to a trio of famous singers. This event may be expensive, but there will be enough of a profit from this to last the rest of the year! Even though the roar of thunder and the occasional flash of lightning reminded them of the storm raging outside, things were warm enough inside to take people's minds of it, and hopefully back on their wallets; donation boxes were scattered around in all the key places, and Mark could see plenty of people marvelling at the rarest objects he had put on display for the evening.

    Wait until they see the meteorites… Mark turned and rubbed his hands excitedly, feeling like a small child about to show all his toys off. He knew that moving the meteorites was a big risk, largely as there were rumours Deoxys reacted badly to anyone disrupting them, but the aftermath was making it all worthwhile. The four rocks were currently hidden beneath sheets in the middle of the floor, and many people were already beginning to gather around as it neared time for the unveiling. Their interest is peaked; they've brought the tickets, they have the bubbly, now the want to see what all the fuss is about, Mark pondered, eyeing the potential donators, their hands, wrists and ears glittering with golden watches and diamond jewellery. He checked his own watch and saw it was nearly seven and time for the unveiling.

    Mark moved through the crowd in order to do the last minute checks before his big speech. One of the singers waved at him as he passed, and Mark smiled and nodded back at her; he would have time for a private chat later, but Mark always focussed on his work first when necessary and his women later. After I say my words though, I will be able to have anyone in this room…

    The podium was raised so that everyone would be able to see Mark when he spoke, and as he stood up to check the microphone, Mark saw he could see everyone that had arrived for the event. It was clear from here how many people there were, and most began to move towards him as they saw he was standing, ending their conversations abruptly as they turned their focus towards what they had come for. Mark beamed, pleased to see so many familiar, wealthy faces in the crowd, ready to listen to him and hopefully give them the money they needed.

    He saw even the wait staff looked interested, forgetting about their cleaning and drink pouring as they sneakily tried to pay attention as well. Well, most of them, Mark thought; about half a dozen waiters were either looking at each other or glancing up at the above levels rather than at him. Mark found this oddly suspicious, especially as several almost looked nervous, but he could not stop things now simply because of some odd waiters: this was his time, the museum's time to shine, and nothing would ruin this moment…

    Red, Blue, Brock and Lucy rushed in just as everyone began to gather around Mark. The rain was so heavy outside that they had nearly gotten soaked in the few seconds between the limo and museum, and when Red glanced back the grey veil was so thick he could barely see beyond the car park; it seemed coming here had definitely been the drier option.

    "Look, we're late!" Lucy fumed as she threw her coat at a waiter. "Mark is already giving his speech. We were supposed to come early so you could chat to everyone!"

    "I will make it up later, don't worry," Brock replied, rolling his eyes. He passed their tickets across and nodded at Red and Blue, the gesture a simple sign of farewell, and he and Lucy made their way into the crowd, the assistant briefly glaring back at them. Red glanced awkwardly at Blue as he realised they did not have tickets and they were now being intensely stared at by the person at the door.

    "Our friend's Leaf and Janine are here with an elderly woman, they were given tickets by Mark Hansom – we were in here earlier," Blue said on the spot, trying to sound fancy, but the man simply raised an eyebrow, looking up and down at their informal clothing.

    "Give me a second," he tutted and walked off, probably to contact security, and Red and Blue found themselves alone at last. The two awkwardly glanced at each other before looking away, unsure what to say but both dwelling over Brock's advice. Red glanced at the tables of food and his stomach grumbled, having barely eaten nearly all day. He tried to signal a waiter, hoping they would pass some food over, but the only one that saw him looked almost afraid for a few seconds before quickly heading in the opposite direction.

    "That's weird…," Red muttered to himself, taken aback by the way the man's eyes had bulged in surprise.

    "I can't actually see Leaf or Janine anywhere," Blue huffed. Red turned to look into the crowd himself, but there was no obvious sign of his friends anywhere in the crowd of suits and dresses.

    "Maybe they went back to the Pokemon Centre to get changed?" He suggested, but as he said it he knew that would take up too much time and neither of the girls had fancy clothing to warrant a change anyway. However, it was highly odd that they would turn down free tickets like this and not bother to inform them at all, especially as Leaf had seemed so excited earlier.

    "This feels weird… I don't think Leaf and Janine would just leave somewhere like this," Red whispered, and Blue nodded, the first time the two had agreed in days. "Do you think they are still upstairs?"

    "They could be… maybe they got a cold or something?" Blue suggested with a shrug. Red glanced upwards, as if by chance Leaf would be leaning over the balcony waiting for them to look up. There was no obvious sign, and Red was tempted to just pay a fee and go up to properly investigate, but the sound of a finger tapping on a microphone echoed around the room, and it appeared the all important speech was about to begin.

    "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the opening of 'Secrets from Space' here at the Pewter City Museum of Science and History!" Mark Hansom announced, and all the guests applauded. "I am very pleased to see so many faces out there here to celebrate this splendid acquisition by the museum – an oxymoron, if you will, as these items are so seemingly common around the world but are also so rare in their own sense." Red pushed Leaf to the back of his mind as it clicked that the Deoxys meteorites were about to be shown. Despite his worries, this would still be a grand sight to see, and Red would not give up on the opportunity to witness this bit of history.

    "Before we unveil them, I should inform you all the processes it took to gather these stones here tonight, before the glittering rocks distract your champagne-addled minds," Mark added, and the crowd chortled at the little joke. "This whole idea began about three years ago after our massive fossil exhibition closed, and I began to wonder – how the hell are we going to top this?" The crowd laughed again, though Red did not find either of the jokes particularly amusing and his interest waned. He looked around for any sign of Leaf again, and it was then that he noticed something turquoise moving behind a glass display case. This seemed weird, but it was only when the turquoise moved into light that Red saw it was someone's hair, and he quickly remembered who had turquoise hair…

    "Blue, look!" He cried and pointed over the crowd, and Blue gasped in recognition, his arm twinging in memory of the pain he had earned last time. The waiter that had seemed shocked to see Red suddenly dropped a tray of glasses, looking fearfully towards the two trainers in fear. He clumsily lunged for a bag next to a table, and seconds later emerged with a large semi automatic gun out. The other waiters screamed at the sight of it, and Red pulled Blue back behind a pillar as the crowd turned in shock.

    "EVERYONE DOWN!" Mark yelled, but instead panic erupted; the guests turned and fled for the exits, most going for the main doors but others looking to the stairs, the side rooms and the display cases for protection. It was pointless though: gunfire began to sound, and as Red saw several people fall, an elderly couple rushed for the doors only to find them locked.

    "OPEN THE DOORS!" The woman screamed, but within seconds she found herself getting crushed as people surged for this door. Red and Blue watched as more waiters appeared with weapons, while Team Rocket Grunts ran down the stairs and emerged from behind the cases. The green haired Archer strutted forwards smiling, his Houndoom leading the way as it chomped at the legs of fleeing guests, while the red headed Arianna that they had first encountered pointed at the crates and one of the display cases.

    "People, people, please!" Archer called into the microphone. "None of you are going to die yet! Just sit back, relax, enjoy the show and then you will most likely die," he added, and the admin laughed as more screams sounded and people continued to ram the door. Red was less than a metre away from the surging crowd and he pushed Blue forwards to avoid getting caught up, heading past the admission desk and moving to the left side of the building. He could see Grunts smashing a display case open and grabbing an item inside, while others were beginning to pull the covers off the meteorites.

    Despite the chaos, Red had to admire the beauty of the four rocks. Underneath the bright lights the black rocks seemed to glitter, light reflecting off in a symphony of colours. Each one glowed in its own unique way, and Red found himself unable to look away, nearly forgetting about all the chaos happening around him.

    "What are you going to do with them?" Mark yelled, struggling against the two Grunts holding on to him. Houndoom growled in his direction but Archer chuckled and stroked his Pokemon as a Arianna delicately passed across with seemed to be an old leather book.

    "The meteorites are now in our possession, so why does it matter what we do with them?" Archer replied as he straightened up and opened the book, resting it on the lectern. "If you must know, we intend on gaining control of Deoxys, and these meteorites are the easiest ways of doing so."

    "Deoxys could be millions of miles away in space, what makes you think you can control it from the middle of Pewter City?" Mark scoffed.

    "Magic," Archer replied with a smile as he reached the page of the book he seemed to be looking for. "Yes, just the right amount of magic…." The admin had only been given a rough page number to guide his journey, but the hand drawn picture of Deoxys gave it away. The text was looped and slanted and had slightly faded after two thousand years, but Archer could just make out Charlotte's writing and it matched up with the information he had been given.

    "Alright then people! You paid the big bucks, its time to give you a show!" Archer boomed, and he turned to face the meteorites. The crowd had stopped trying to flee, held back by the lack of exits and the threat of being shot, so they turned in submission and waited for the insane green haired man to act. Arianna and the Grunts moved away from the meteorites as Archer held the book up in one hand; tense silence filled the room, not a single person moving now. Red and Blue watched from behind an upturned table as Archer raised the book up; somehow, he planned to take control of the stones by reading to them.

    "Four women stand bound above me," he cried, gesturing above. "In the name of Deoxys and for the sake of power, I sacrifice their lives; let the four meteorites before me find these women, let the meteorites drain them of their life, and let their spilling of their blood bind these women and these all mighty meteorites to me!" Suddenly, four Grunts stepped forwards, each one holding a knife dripping with blood. Red's heart sank as he realised what women Archer must be talking about, a sick feeling brewing in his stomach. He watched as the Grunt's smeared a knife against a meteorite each; suddenly, the stones began to glow, not from the lights above but from inside. At first they shone a vivid red but quickly moved between different colours like a rainbow. The Grunts moved away as the meteorites began to shake violently, but Archer remained still. High above, light began to shine from the balconies on the top level, and Red and Blue exchanged horrified looks, seeming to come to the same conclusion…

    "Here me Deoxys!" Archer yelled, his voice ringing with power and glee. "I call out to you, across the stars and throughout space, I demand you to hear my message! The four meteorites of your four formes, the meteor from which you were created, stand before me. Hear me Deoxys, as the blood sacrifice of four innocents brings your meteorites under my control! Hear me Deoxys, your power is now my power, you are to do as I so command. Hear me Deoxys, HEAR ME!" Archer roared, and the entire museum gasped as rainbow columns exploded from the four meteorites. They rose up like spotlights towards the ceiling, four towering pillars that made the entire lobby glow, and Red could see Arianna's face shine as she stared in awe and excitement at the light.

    "What is this? This is impossible!" Someone screamed, but everyone else was too captivated by the unreal sight before them to notice her. Red looked up and saw the two lights near the balcony were glowing brighter.

    Leaf must be up there… maybe she isn't dead yet, He thought wishfully. He turned to Blue and saw his friend looked furious, and Red hoped he would not have to restrain him. While he wanted to go up to the top floor and find Leaf, there was no way they could with so many Grunts around; what could their battle worn Pokemon do against armed men?

    "GENGAAAAAR!" People jumped and heads turned as a Pokemon cry sounded from above, and suddenly something burst through the wall above the entrance. Red leapt backwards, expecting rubble to come crashing down, but he quickly realised nothing had been damaged. He watched the Pokemon as it flew around, and guessed from its black-purple skin like his mother's wine that this was a Ghost type, capable of phasing through walls like that.

    "GENGAR GEN!" The Pokemon yelled, and it turned to face the crowd; the only notable features on its dark body were a wide, cheeky grin and devilishly narrowed eyes on a face that merged in with the rest of the body. Red recognised Gengar now: he had never seen it up close, but it was a regular sight around Halloween and a recurring character in all manners of horror stories.

    "What the hell is that thing doing here?" Archer snapped as the meteorites continued to glow behind him, his face furious. Red tensed up; this could be the distraction they needed to escape. However, before he could form a plan, heavy footsteps sounded, and they all watched as a new figure emerged from the shadows of the east wing. Red gasped, more shocked but this man than the rainbow lights, but he smiled and looked at Archer, and relished in seeing the admins fear as the Pokemon Champion of Kanto advanced towards him.

    "I knew there was a reason why I never attend events like this," Casimer said he stepped forwards, taking off a cream coat to reveal a smart navy shirt underneath. His brown hair was wet from the rain, but the middle aged man appeared not to care as he marched across the empty marble floor, every eye in the room on him. "I thought it had something to do with the boring chit chat or the usually sub par meals, but it seems that I avoid them due to scum like you coming in and ruining the entire party."

    "What are you doing here? How did you know of our plans?" Archer yelled, his confidence and ringing powerful tones disappearing into a nearly hysterical screech that made Casimer and his Gengar smirk.

    "I have my methods, but those are beside the point. I am here for one reason, and that is to stop you killing innocent people and gaining power your group does not deserve! Shadow Ball!" Casimer yelled, and before anyone could react, Gengar summoned a ball of swirling dark energy out of nowhere.

    "GEN!" He shouted, and the Shadow Ball was thrown towards the meteorite on the right. Archer and Arianna both screamed, but their worry was premature: the attack disintegrated as it phased through the rainbow beam, leaving the light column and meteorite unchanged. All hope that had risen up in the room was crushed, and Casimer appeared taken aback. Archer turned back towards him, breathing deeply from shock but displaying a nasty, victorious smile.

    "Oh dear, what a pity – the great Casimer, brought to his knees by a simple light display," he hissed mockingly. "FIRE AT HIM!" He roared, and at once, Grunts quickly appeared with their weapons ready. Gengar dived down as they pulled the triggers, and Red gasped, certain that he was about to witness one of his idols get shot down. However, as Gengar pushed his trainer aside, a PokeBall suddenly flew into the air, and the screaming crowd was forced to retreat as red energy poured onto the marble.

    "OOONNNN!" An Onix roared as it formed, quickly swelling inside the cramped space, and the bullets uselessly rebounded off his rock hard skin. The Rock Snake seemed disorientated and annoyed by this, and it angrily thrashed around, sending tables and chairs flying and forcing the crowd to back away.

    "Gengar, Focus Blast!" Casimer shouted, and the Ghost type flew through Onix's body as if it was water, flying down towards a waiting Houndoom.

    "HooooUUUUUUU!" Houndoom cried, and he jumped forwards with fire shooting from his mouth. Archer looked furious and he angrily threw the lectern aside and pointed at the crowd.

    "KILL THEM ALL!" He roared, and the Grunts, unable to target a protected Casimer, turned around and took aim at the waiters and guests. Red fell to the ground as war erupted in the middle of the museum: gunfire started up, join quickly by ear piercing screams, the shattering of glass and thunks and pings as the bullets went through wooden or rebounded off marble and concrete. Red saw Archer get sent flying by a collision of attacks, and there were bright flashes as more Pokemon were sent out, most notably a group of Geodude that began throwing chairs at the Grunts.

    "Do you think we should send ours in?" Red whispered to Blue, trying not to watch as a waitress only a few metres away screamed as she clutched her right leg, crimson blood pouring over her hands.

    "Do what you want, I am going to save Leaf," Blue hissed, and Red turned in surprise but found his friend had already gotten to his feet and was sprinting towards the staircase leading to the west wing of the museum.

    "GET BACK HERE!" Red shout-whispered, but Blue was already racing up the stairs, thinking only of his cousin that was having her life drained away, not caring about the battle raging around them. Red looked around, wanting to signal for someone to help, but the bullets had shattered the glass of the front doors and people were pouring out, getting away from the deadly battle. Red did not want to run into open fire, but he could not let Blue risk his life on his own. They still had issues to sort out, but Red and Blue were still the oldest of friends, and Red was not letting that friendship end today. Nervously but willingly, he got to his feet, and the trainer ran out into urban warfare.

    In the few seconds it took to get to the staircase, Red was terrified. Bullets were flying everywhere as the Grunts hopelessly focussed on trying to kill Onix and get to the greater prize of Casimer, but the Champion was well positioned to avoid attacks and Onix was thrashing about, his tail sending anyone that came close flying. The Geodude were fighting against other Pokemon, though Red could not tell what they were, seeing only flashes of purple and brown and splotches of violet poison. Houndoom lay unconscious in the midst of this all, and Gengar was now duelling against an Arbok that Red presumed was Arianna's.

    The museum will be destroyed by this, Red thought, watching as Onix scraped his head against a bit of ceiling, bringing chunks of it down with him. A display case was roaring with flames, the rare items inside burning up, never to be replaced. Red watched it burn with a mix of sadness and horror, and did not notice as he collided into someone. He bounced off them but retained his balance, but the startled other person toppled over and crashed to the ground.

    "Oh, I am so sor –" Red began, but froze when he realised who it was: the waiter that had first pulled out a gun, someone that clearly knew who Red and Blue were. The two stared at each other in silence for a moment, but the Grunt reached for his fallen weapon, and Red turned and leapt onto the first step.

    "It's one of the Dex Holders!" The waiter yelled, and Red looked to see Arianna turning around at the cry, blood dripping down her face, and malice flashed in her eyes.

    "AFTER HIM!" She cried, and several Grunts appeared with machine guns in hand. Red yelped and ran up the staircase, trying to put as much of a distance between them and himself as possible. A display case filled with ancient pottery shattered as bullets slammed tore through the glass, and Red knew that this time they would not hesitate at all in murdering him.

    "Caterpie, I need you!" Red yelled as he ran up the next flight, seeing the hem of Blue's pants flapping around the corner. Caterpie formed onto Red's shoulder with a smile that quickly vanished as shouts echoed up from the lobby, and she began to look scared. "Use String Shot on the floor and on anyone you see approaching!" Red commanded, and Caterpie quickly obeyed and sprayed the sticky white stuff across the staircase.

    Yells sounded from above, and as Red rounded the staircase he had to jump back as Blue's Bulbasaur pushed a Grunt down the stairs with Vine Whip, the man crashing into the stone wall and sliding down unconscious. Red kicked their gun away and saw his plan was working: a horde of Grunts were held up as their feet stuck in the String Shot, but he doubted how long it would hold. Red looked for something else to slow them down and he saw a large painting hanging on the wall, showing Pewter City decades ago.

    "Charmander, use Ember!" Red shouted, throwing the PokeBall backwards, before quickly heaving the landscape picture off its hook and carrying it towards the staircase heading up. Red dropped the painting so it covered the bottom steps but so it was not close to the unconscious Grunt, and Charmander fired a ball of flame; the classic piece of work erupted in flames, and Red felt guilty that he was destroying this, but it quickly caught aflame and he knew it would help hold up their enemies.

    "Let's go make sure Blue isn't getting killed," Red said wearily to his Pokemon, and he ran up to the top floor expecting the worst. However, Blue was standing in the middle of the floor, looking unharmed except for several bruises. Two Grunts lay unconscious around him, the shattered remains of a stone bust scattered nearby.

    "Who said Vine Whip could only bring down an Onix?" Blue called out with a cheeky grin, and Red smirked a little, unable to hide the fact he was impressed. However, his happiness evaporated as he saw something large out of the corner of his eye: it was a giant wooden slab, staying up only by two props at the bottom. Red and Blue exchanged looks and rushed around to the other side, and there was Leaf; eyes shut, head hanging down, arms bound to the top of the slab. Blood dripped down her right arm, and Red sighed with relief that she had not been stabbed anywhere else. However, the source of the golden light seemed to be coming from inside of her; Leaf's skin was shining as if there was a chandelier inside of her,

    "How is this even possible?" Blue cried, staring in horror at his dying cousin. "This is like… magic!"

    "It could just be some sort of illusion, something to try and trick us," Red suggested, but he had an uneasy feeling that something quite unnatural was going on here. However, that was something to worry about later. "We need to free her hands, or move this slab away. Maybe if we did that then she would be alright?"

    "Good idea!" Blue yelled, and he instantly began to fiddle with the chains on his side. Red reached up to work on his, but doubted it would be that simple.

    "Charmander Char!" Charmander exclaimed, and Red turned and looked where he was pointing. The central exhibit was shrouded in darkness so they could not see what was inside or what had startled Charmander. Then a moment later, a figure emerged from the shadows, smirking as he walked forwards to meet them. It was clear from the man's black outfit that he was a member of Team Rocket, and his heavy muscles showed that this was not someone to mess with. Blue-green, highly styled hair put him on the same level as Archer and Arianna, but Red felt a bit more threatened by this man than he did by the ones down below, largely from how muscular he seemed to be.

    "You little shits aren't taking her anywhere!" He growled, halting just near the burning staircase. Red looked nervously at his friend, unsure what to do, but Blue was not as threatened. He glowered at him, but noticed that he did not have any weapons on him, or any sign of Pokemon.

    "Bulbasaur, Leech Seed!" He shouted, and Bulbasaur instantly fired the green seed from his bulb. The man watch at it as it came towards him, and then he expertly swatted it aside, the vines spilling out across the floor.

    "You think your Pokemon are going to be able to stop me?" He snapped, and he quickly moved forwards. Blue was frightened now, and he tried to turn and hide but to no avail: the man grabbed him by the neck and pushed him aside, and Blue crashed heavily to the floor. Red knew he would be next and he decided to act: he couldn't stand by and let himself be taken down, leaving Leaf to her strange, magical fate.

    "EMBER, STRING SHOT!" He shouted, and his Pokemon rushed forwards to fight: Caterpie sprayed his String Shot so it hit the man in the face, while Charmander fired a ball of flame. The bottom of the man's pants caught aflame, but he easily wiped the String Shot away and stamped the flames out before turning angrily back to Red.

    "Oh, it is going to be a pleasure to kill you!" He snarled and ran forwards. Red moved to his right so the slab stood between him and the Rocket member, but it would not last for long. He could see Leaf's clothes were becoming stained with her blood now, and the glow was getting brighter as her life was somehow drained away. Red had to do something to save her before he was knocked out or killed, and thinking quickly, he pushed his entire weight against the slab. It was heavier than he had expected, his arms and shoulders quickly groaned, and he did not seem to be making any progress.

    "The props!" He yelled, and Charmander looked around and saw what his trainer meant. Quickly, the Flame Pokemon fired an Ember at the wood and began to attack with Metal Claw. It seemed to resist all attacks for a time, but Charmander used the last of his energy and slashed it to splinters; the slab wobbled as it became unbalanced, and Red grinned as he sensed a change in power.

    "STOP THAT!" The Team Rocket admin bellowed, and he put his own weight against the slab. Red put all his strength against it, but his opponent was too strong, and his feet began to slip backwards as he was pushed towards the edge….

    "RATTATA!" A high pitched squeak sounded from nearby, and Red got a brief glimpse of purple before it disappeared behind the slab. Blue watched gleefully as his Rattata collided into the man's leg, offsetting his balance, before furiously beginning to swipe at it. The Rocket Admin grunted but did not back down. However, the other Pokemon saw an opportunity: Caterpie fired more of her String Shot so that it completely covered his face, while Charmander dug a Metal Claw into his leg.

    "Rattata, Flame Wheel and Bite!" Red shouted, briefly letting go of the slab to throw his final PokeBall. Seconds later, his Rattata joined the fray, flying into his back with Flame Wheel before sinking his sharp teeth into his shoulder.

    "STOP IT, GET OFF ME!" He roared, but Caterpie fired a String Shot directly onto his lips, forcing him quiet. While the others fought, Bulbasaur used Vine Whip to pull furiously at the other prop. As the other one had broken, there was more pressure on this one, and after a few seconds it snapped, causing the slab to shift.

    "BLUE, HELP ME!" Red shouted, and his friend rushed forwards, jumped over Bulbasaur and put all his weight onto the piece of wood. Their Pokemon all backed off their target and put their weight onto the slab as well, and the burnt, bitten and blinded Team Rocket strongman could not hold them off any longer: he slid backwards, and with that the slab came crashing down. There was a sickening thud as it crunched the person underneath, but Red, Blue and their Pokemon cheered as the golden light disappeared.

    Down below, the lobby was nearly empty: the only people remaining except Team Rocket were Casimer, Brock, Mark, Lucy, some officials and a few injured guests and staff. Everyone else had fled into the storm that was now creeping inside, wind roaring through the smashed windows and adding swirling rubble to the mess. Gengar and Onix were still going strong, but while the Geodude had taken down plenty of Grunts and rival Pokemon, they were easily falling themselves.

    Archer and Arianna stood beside a charred wreck of a display case, watching as Onix and Gengar continued to fight off the Pokemon and manpower they sent towards them. Houndoom and Arbok had both been brought back and neither wanted to see their other Pokemon out into this blood bath, but they were both aware that the forces against them were getting ever closer.

    "There has to be something else we can do, another spell, perhaps?" Arianna hissed. Their summoning of Deoxys would go uninterrupted as long as the elements remained in place, so it was just a matter of holding their foes off until the spell was completed. Archer looked at the ancient book in his hands, wondering if there would be something he could use to bring this battle to its end. However, before he could open it, the rainbow display began to lessen out of the corner of his eye. Archer turned quickly and watched in horror as the light from the meteorite closest, the one connected to Leaf, began to fade away, going from a dazzling column to a plain old rock in seconds.

    "NOOO!" He roared, leaping to his feet, and the battle paused as everyone turned to see what had happened. Gengar looked at the now unmoving meteorites and glanced to his left: he had noticed the slabs before and could see the one on that side had fallen.

    "Gengar Gen Gen!" The Ghost called teasingly, and he soared to his right: another slab stood there, another girl bound, and Gengar had a theory. The Grunts guarding raised their guns, but the … Pokemon slammed into the slab before they could act. A second meteorite stopped glowing, and now only two of the rainbow columns remained. However, they began to flicker violently like a weakening signal, and Team Rocket's guns went quiet as their plan fell apart.

    "This can't happen, not after all the time we spent planning… this can't happen!" Archer yelled, and he flicked through the spell book, desperate to find anyway of restarting their operation. The page with Deoxys on it seemed to be hiding though, and Archer screamed and was tempted to just rip the useless book apart until he did.

    "Give it up!" Casimer yelled from behind Onix. "You have failed, there is no point in dragging this out any longer! Just hand yourselves in, Deoxys is not coming! End this madness now, Archer, before it is too –"

    Then at that moment, the roof exploded.

    Red, Blue and their Pokemon jumped as half the ceiling suddenly fell through and the entire museum shuddered. The storm was fully exposed now; the sound of thunder roared through the museum, and the temperature quickly. The rainbow lights faded completely as the rubble fell onto the meteorites, and Archer roared as Arianna pulled him away, watching as another plan was destroyed.

    "What the hell caused that?" Blue asked incredulously.

    "That can't have been the storm, lightning couldn't do that," Red said as he ran to the edge of the balcony, staring up to see what was happening. Lightning flashed through the hole, a flash of blue across the grey sky, and he was stunned to see something illuminated by the light: it looked human, but there was no logical way someone could float in the sky like that.

    However, Archer and Arianna saw the silhouette as well, and they exchanged smiles. "It's him!" Archer hissed. "DEOXYS IS HERE!" He boomed to them all. Red and Blue looked at each other in dismay, unable to comprehend the idea that Team Rocket could have won, while the Grunts below cheered at the victory.

    What makes you think I am here for you? A voice said that sounded throughout the entire museum, and silence fell once more. Archer's face fell as he looked up at the hole as lightning flashed again, and the dark silhouette appeared closer to the roof. I am here because the remains of my birth capsule are being threatened, and I will not be abused by weaklings such as yourselves. Red gasped, and he could see Blue had come to the same conclusion: this was Deoxys speaking, projecting its voice into them all.

    "But… but the spell, it was meant to work…" Archer whispered, and he looked at Arianna for help, but she was just as startled as he was.

    I do not know of such a spell. I am here to take back what is rightfully mine, and to punish those involved in this crime. Something began to glow in the sky, standing out against the dark, raining backdrop. Farewell, those that made the mistake of wronging Deoxys, the mysterious Pokemon boomed, and suddenly the light was coming towards them. Red and Blue stepped away as a giant glowing ball, shining a mixture of gold and pink with electricity crackling inside, soared through the hole. Grunts and guests alike sprinted for the exits, but the rest watched in amazement and horror as the attack fell towards them.

    Arianna grabbed Archer's arm and trying pulling him towards the nearest exit, but he was staring stunned at the sight before him. Everyone watched as the ball struck the meteorites and exploded; a wave of energy was released, smashing into the walls and making the whole museum shake. Onix roared as he was sent flying backwards, knocking the ones he was protecting over before crashing into the front wall. The attack was powerful, but it did not seem to be causing the effects Deoxys had vowed, as everyone was sent flying but no one had died.

    "Look at the meteorites!" Mark yelled, The four rocks suddenly began to glow once more, but this time sparks began to fly off them. The meteorites began to rise, getting brighter and brighter, slowly starting to spin up towards Deoxys. Red pulled his Pokemon close in fear as the meteorites shuddered violently the further up they got, beginning to become masked by the rainbow glow. They had no idea what was happening, but were too captivated by the sight to do anything.

    "Red… Blue…," a voice croaked, and both trainers and their Pokemon turned.

    "Leaf!" Red and Blue exclaimed simultaneously, relief washing over them: their friend was alive, a weary smile crossing her face. She pulled weakly at her chains and Red moved forwards to let them free. However, he paused when he saw Leaf's eyes widened in shock, and he turned back to find the entire museum was glowing, as if a rainbow had just sprouted from the lobby. The building was shaking, sending dust and plaster down from the damaged ceiling, but it faded away into the sudden glow. Whatever was going on was completely impossible and unnatural, but Red could not focus on that now, not when the building seemed like it was going to collapse.

    "We need to get out of –" he began, but suddenly his vision was filled with harsh white light. A rushing noise like a steam engine racing past began to sound from all around, deafening over the cries of worried Pokemon. Red tried to see where they were, where anything was, but it felt as though something was crushing his body, two weights weighing down upon him. He opened his mouth to yell, but Red could not even hear himself.

    Suddenly, something smashed into his body, and Red continued to cry out as he was sent soaring backwards. His head smashed into something, and everything faded away into darkness.



    The Pewter Trilogy concludes next time!

    ^^^^ The GalacticVerse Bibliography (Thanks to Blazaking for Banner) ^^^^

  7. #7
    J'ai Envie De Toi AetherX's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The First Warriors: Chapter Five

    For the review game:

    I've been meaning to read this for a while, so it was nice to have a real reason to do it. There are two GalacticVerse Journey Fics set in Kanto, so I was interested to see what you did to set this apart from 8ES.

    So far, the plot is a solid journey fic. Team Rocket and their unexplained goals with legendary Pokemon, battling gym leaders, and teenage angst. You're only five chapters in and it's just as fast paced as all of your other stories. It's too early to pass any real judgement on this plot-wise, so I won't. It's a bundle of thrills and quite exciting and you know how I feel about that ;)

    The characters are great. I particularly like Janine and her angsty angst-ness with a dark past and the whole shebang. I love it. Red and Leaf's bickering was great, though it wasn't long before shipping reared its ugly head (nothing wrong with that). Again, it's too early to say much about development. I found Blue the easiest to empathize with until he got all randomly dickheaded. In general each character is well written, but I'm not entirely clear on what caused that transformation. The bad guys are decidedly evil, if not very developed so far, and Charlotte's snark was great as always. It's kind of hard to read this story knowing what's going to happen to several of the characters :P

    Your writing is as good as always. Dialogue is great and description is pretty good too. Things get a little jumbled in the intense action bits as far as description goes, but I know how hard it is to do that properly and have the same problem myself. All I can suggest is to visualize and proofread. There were several typos and spelling/grammar mishaps that could have been prevented by another out-loud read through.

    Hoped that helped. I loved it, as always, and will continue reading.
    AceTrainer14 likes this.

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    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar
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    Default Re: The First Warriors: Chapter Five

    For da Review Game:

    First, I'm glad I saw this via the Review Game. Must have missed it on one of my hiatuses.

    Awesome interpretation of the Kanto story. I love the elements of realism throughout, especially the characters interaction with one another, notably Gio and Charlotte, Oak and Charlotte and the trio with each other. The dialog is not simply generic dialog designed to move the plot. Each character has a nicely fleshed out (even at this early point of the story) personality that is unique to them, and the dialog really helps show that.

    I love how the whole Pokedex thing is actually a favor/payment that the trainers must do for Oak in return for the privilege of getting a Pokemon and the part that he gets to research any of their Oak'd Pokemon. Gives the character of Oak more of a 3-D purpose other than simply being the old man back home who watches my Pokemon for me. There are many clever bits of realism twists to the traditional plot that I like in your story.

    The trio is great. I like the fact that they are traveling together in your story. It lets us see them interact more beyond the typical "NYAAAHHH! I haven't seen you in a while, LETS BATTLE NOW!" thing that is typical. Their interactions aren't simply opportunities to see how the Pokemon have grown through battle... there is actual characterization going on with their interaction with each other. I love Leaf and Blue going back and forth a lot especially.

    You handle the changing POV well and clearly signal to the reader when it is changing and to which POV we are going to. This is great because I see too many stories change randomly and clumsily to the point where I'm often confused as to what's going on and through whose eyes I am to perceive the story.

    Obviously, your prose are elegant and free-flowing as always. Many stories on here simply read as lists of one simple action after another: "Red woke up and yawned. Red went downstairs feeling excited. Red kissed his mother goodbye and went down to Oak's lab. Red picked Bulbasaur, etc." You're writing has a good balance of necessary fact explaining description of the world and description of what is going on in the POV characters head.

    All in all, very great.

  9. #9
    Moderator AceTrainer14's Avatar Forum Head
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    Default Re: The First Warriors: Chapter Five

    Thank you @AetherX and @Legacy for your feedback. The issues raised, namely Blue's seeming bizarre character change, will be answered not necessarily in this chapter but in the next few.


    Deoxymoron

    June 15th

    The storm had stopped by the time dusk broke, and while some residents of PewterCity inspected blocked drain pipes, damaged roofs or upturned trees, most eyes that morning turned to the north as they awoke to find their museum in ruins.

    The strange thing though that the city's occupants quickly noticed was not the fact that the building had been damaged, but the spread of destruction; while the east and west wings were unharmed asides from broken windows, the very middle of the museum displayed looked as though a bolt of lightning had struck the building, leaving a great blackened tear in the heart of the museum. People gathered around the cordoned off zone, looking at the smouldering ruin of brick and concrete, all of them wondering how such a hideous crevice had appeared in the pride of their city, but it seemed no one had any idea what had happened the night before…

    Inside, Leaf's eyes slowly flickered open, unaware of the chaos around her.

    She had been stirring for a few minutes, a fading dream of wandering through ViridianForest lingering at the front of her mind, leaving her in a blissful state of ignorance. It was not until she felt the sun shining on her face, and the cold, ceaseless dripping of water onto her chest that Leaf truly awoke, and as she gazed at the sun-hazed ceiling above, the memories of last night began to rush back to her; Team Rocket, the museum, Janine, Madame, wooden slabs, the party, bright shining light…

    "OH MY GOD!" Leaf yelled, sitting bolt upright and breathing intensely. Now that she was awake she felt dizzy and weak, her back aching and her wrists burning raw, but Leaf knew there was no time to waste. "Red! Blue! Are you two here?"

    "We're right next to you, shut up!" Blue groaned. Leaf turned and sighed with relief; behind her lay the two boys in her life, both beginning to wake at the sound of her voice, and both appeared unharmed. Their Pokemon were scattered around them; Charmander and Bulbasaur, their Rattata and Caterpie, all raising their heads and looking around in dazed confusion.

    "Thank god you're alright!" Leaf cried. She tried getting to her feet, but her brain swayed and she flopped back down onto the cold floor, mind spinning at a mile a minute. "What the hell happened here? The last thing I remember I was tied to a wooden slab and was being placed right here above the party, and then I was knocked out, but I feel as though you two were standing next to me at some point?"

    "It's a real mystery," Red moaned groggily, sitting up and rubbing his head. "Team Rocket attacked the party, they wanted to get the meteorites, and we worked out they were going to sacrifice you," he explained, and pointed at her arm; Leaf looked down and was stunned to see a barely healed cut down her right arm, the outside caked with blood.

    "We came up here to save you, and we managed to break the slab and push it onto Proton," Blue continued, "and we were going to take you and go when there was this weird voice and suddenly all this light filled the museum and we got knocked out." Leaf paused, struggling to take this all in when her head still felt as though it had been cleaved in two. She felt at her wrists where she had been bound, and then looked across at the remnants of the wooden slab, which lay cracked in two a few metres apart.

    "Hang on, you said it fell on Proton – where is he then?" She said, suddenly alert, and Red and Blue both sat up straighter, looking around for their crushed enemy. Bulbasaur growled and Charmander raised his claws, but there was no sign of the strongman.

    "Maybe he got away?" Blue said with a shrug.

    "How though, anyone else would have died if that had fallen on them!" Red snapped. "And if he left, why did he leave us alive?"

    "Perhaps he had more concerning things to think about?" Blue snapped back, eyes narrowed. "He probably had orders to carry out!" Leaf could sense another argument brewing and went to speak, but something suddenly fell against her nose; she paused to touch it, her fingers coming away damp. She remembered feeling water on her chest, and slowly Leaf looked upwards, wondering where it was coming from.

    Her jaw dropped when she saw the roof – what was left of it anyway. Twenty four hours ago, there had been a beautiful glass ceiling showing off the sky above. Now, the sky was still on display, but there was no longer a ceiling; a jagged, open hole exposed the museum to the world, cracked, charred edges the remaining signs of what had been. Only parts of the ceiling were still held up, with the water dripping down from a sunken section that was barely hanging in there. Leaf was horrified, and she gazed around and saw the was covered in fallen plaster and broken tiles; the chunks were not large enough to have caused harm, but it was still a miracle that they had not been killed.

    Terrified, Leaf scrambled towards the balcony, which she now saw had been blown apart, large sections missing from the marble barrier, whilst several pillars bore unhealthy fractures down the middle. She grabbed onto one of the whole sections and peered down to the museum below, and nearly fell backwards in shock.

    The ground floor looked like a war zone. The display cases lay in smoking ruins, the tables from the party had been blasted apart, big, black scorch marks covered the floor and walls, and there were deep fissures across all the surfaces. It looked as though a bomb had gone off, but one that was strong enough to knock marble pillars over and crack the staircases. Leaf heard a murmur from behind but she was too stunned to notice, but a few seconds later Red and Blue joined her, and they simultaneously cursed.

    "Wow…," Blue muttered, and Leaf could think of no other word to describe the chaos below. Was this all the work of Team Rocket? Could the strange burst of light Blue mentioned cause all these burns?

    "I can't see the meteorites anywhere," Red said. "Do you think Team Rocket took them?"

    "I'm not sure… didn't that voice say it was going to stop them?" Blue replied.

    "What is this voice you keep going on about?" Leaf asked, staring between her travel companions, feeling thoroughly lost and left out by the fact she had been unconscious during all of this. Red opened his mouth to explain, but before he could there was a sudden crashing below, and they all looked at the stairs. Bulbasaur stepped forwards, vines slipping out, and both Rattata beared their sharp fangs.

    The three trainers exchanged looks, all wondering if this was Proton returning, perhaps having gone to collect more Grunts to help with his killing. However, Leaf was stunned when she recognised the faces rushing up the stairs.

    "There you are!" Janine cried, rushing towards them over rubble with Susie following behind. "One of the pillars collapsed downstairs and they couldn't get up to look for survivors. We thought the worst may have happened, but you're all alright!" She looked like she was about to hug them for a second, but then Janine seemed to remember her tough persona and merely nodded her head and smiled. Leaf looked down and saw she had a bandage on her left arm, as did Susie when she appeared.

    "Oh my god, it looks even worse up close!" Leaf's old friend said in shock, staring at the collapsed ceiling that loomed above them. Shouts and murmurs came from below, and Leaf saw men in hard hats and high-vis vests peering around the stairs.

    "What exactly is going on?" Red asked. "Where's Team Rocket, where are the meteorites?"

    "They aren't telling us anything," Janine replied, though she looked at Leaf as she spoke. "But Madame pestered and threatened some police officers, and this junior cop told us that Mark and Casimer moved the meteorites to a safe place, but when they got back Rocket had scarpered. They left all their dead grunts behind, so the police are working on identifying them, while Mark and Casimer have disappeared to Route 3."

    "Route 3? What are they doing there?" Red asked, exchanging looks with Leaf and Blue.

    "Well, they have the meteorites; maybe they are going to hide them there?" Blue suggested.

    "But Team Rocket must know that there are going to do that, they are probably re-grouping, and even if Casimer is Champion he would be outnumbered." Leaf looked between her cousin and his friend and could see a manic understanding coming between the two, and it quickly dawned on her what they were thinking.

    "Oh no, you are not going after Team Rocket!" She yelled, her shrill, angry voice echoing. "Proton may have left without killing u, but it doesn't mean they will be so lenient again – look at what they did to us!" Leaf added, pointing at her gaping wound, which repulsed her to think about but made a brilliant point.

    "We can't let them get away!" Red huffed. "We defeated Proton on our own last night –"

    "Yes, while he was on his own!" Janine interjected, her eyes flaming as brightly as Leaf's. "You two will be killed if you try and stop them again!"
    "That's what you may think, but I have a brand new Pokemon!" Blue said, puffing his chest out slightly, and retrieved his yet un-opened PokeBall, casting a sly look at Red. "I paid a pretty good price for this, so I know it will be enough to bring down Rocket!" Leaf looked across at Red and could see he was watching his friend with jealousy so obvious in his eyes. She wanted to scream at them both for putting a petty argument before their own safety, but instead she merely sighed, her head throbbing painfully.

    "You know what, I don't care!" Leaf huffed, glaring at the boys. "My head hurts, I need to see a doctor, and I would like to battle Brock before I nearly get killed again. If you two want to pretend to be the heroes, be my guest, but I don't care either way." Without another word, Leaf turned and walked towards the staircase, leaving the boys staring shell shocked after her. A few seconds later, two other sets of footsteps joined her, and Leaf smiled, pleased to have Janine and Susie on her side.

    "We'll take you to the Pokemon Centre, they set up a makeshift first aid area there," Susie explained, and Leaf nodded wearily, struggling to tend to her emotions. When they reached the bottom of the staircase and Red and Blue did not appear behind them, it became clear what choice they had made, and Leaf hoped that the next time she saw them, they were still all in one piece.

    ***

    "They have come, just as we thought," Archer purred, a smile spreading across his bruised face. He heard footsteps and passed the binoculars sideways, which Arianna snapped up and peered down into the crater on Route 3. Without the binoculars, Archer could only see two distant figures mulling around the crater's top, standing beside a large four wheel drive. He had chosen a vantage point that was sheltered on three sides by trees, but its cliff top position gave them an excellent view over Route 3 below and the crater it harboured. It was damp from the storm and scattered with leaves and broken branches, but Archer knew they were safe here, and he hardly noticed the dampness after two hours of eagerly awaiting their target's arrival.

    "That's them alright," Arianna said quietly, lowering the binoculars. "They don't look very weak though – they seem to have escaped the museum unharmed."

    "And? We still outnumber them!" Archer snapped back, though he did not look at her, instead remaining focused on the duo as if expecting them to flee. There was a movement next to him, and Archer briefly looked over as Arianna leaned down so her lips were barely a centimetre from his ear.

    "We barely outnumber them, and Casimer's Pokemon are more superior," she hissed.

    "That's why we brought weapons with us," Archer said, in a tone as if explaining simple maths to a toddler.

    "We left half of those back the museum!" Arianna said more urgently. "Look at what we have left, do you really think we are going to defeat Casimer with this lot?" Archer rolled his eyes and ignored her, but Arianna grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him roughly around, forcing him to face the remains of their team.

    It was not an encouraging sight. Archer, Arianna, Proton and Petrel arrived in PewterCity with over three dozen Grunts at their disposal, and a significant portion of Giovanni's weapons stash. Now, half their weapons had been abandoned at the museum, and barely twenty Grunts remained. Archer gazed grimly across what remained of his soldiers, it slowly dawning on him the mistake he had made.

    When he had awoken inside the museum to find it in ruins and Deoxys and the meteorites gone, he had given the order for everyone to clear out and to not waste time by clearing things away. Archer had seen several Grunts lying dead beneath fallen glass and plaster from the ceiling, many with their weapons still on them, and he had decided it would take too long to remove all the bodies before the authorities returned. Two Grunts had rescued Proton, Arianna found the spell book lying beneath a light fitting, and then everyone had fled out back to Petrel, who had been waiting with the cars.

    Archer realised now that there was a chance many of the Grunts had just been unconscious, or could have survived if their injuries had been treated. The police would check everyone was dead before taking them away, and Archer internally groaned at the thought of that Grunts were now in police custody. The ones they were left with were wearing bandages and plasters, and two had collapsed shortly after they had fled and now lay alongside Proton in one of the trucks, Petrel directing others in treatment.

    "None of them are going to last very long if we lead them into batlle again," Arianna whispered. "I want those meteorites as much as you, but Giovanni is trying to build an army, and for that he needs soldiers, not corpses." Archer shuddered at the sound of his boss's name, briefly imagining the pain and humiliation he would suffer when they returned to base.

    "Giovanni may want an army, but he wants those meteorites as well," Archer hissed back. "He is going to be furious if we lost all those Grunts and the sacrificial slabs if it all turns out to be for nothing!"

    "We got the spell book, he has wanted that for years, and –" Arianna quickly replied, but Archer angrily turned to face her, leaning in so there was barely a centimetre between them, and he stared at her with such fury she recoiled.

    "Giovanni put me in charge of this mission, not you, so I do not care what you think, this is my call to make, and we are going to kill Casimer and Mark and fulfil Giovanni's intentions, do I make myself clear?" Archer had spoken so quickly and with such venom that he had sprayed Arianna with spit, and when he finished she slowly leaned backwards and disgustedly wiped the saliva off her face.

    "Crystal," she purred back in response, and then got back to her feet and turned away. Archer briefly watched her as she strutted across at the clearing, walking with perfect composure even though the grass was nearly mud, not giving away a single hint that she had just had an argument. Archer smiled slyly to himself, and he grabbed the binoculars and returned to watching Casimer and Mark, waiting for the right moment to strike, waiting for the perfect chance to reclaim glory, ignoring all thoughts of protest and reason screaming in the back of his head.

    ***

    "So this is a gym shaped like a giant boulder?" Janine purred, gazing up and down at the Pewter Gym. "Hmmm… pity you don't have any Electric types Leaf, this one is clearly a Flying gym." Leaf and Susie both laughed, and the trio walked the last few metres into the gym in good spirits; they had just left the Pokemon Centre, Leaf's wound cleaned, stitched and wrapped up, and now they were ready to see what Brock had to offer.

    "Oooh, my first gym battle, I am sooo excited!" Susie said eagerly as they passed through the double doors. "My first real challenge as a trainer! I was hoping to have caught some more Pokemon first, but I think it will be fine if I tried battling now, don't you?"

    "I am sure it will be," Leaf said, though she was trying not to dwell too much on her prospects. Her heart was beating rapidly against her chest, having gotten faster and faster with every step they took from the Pokemon Centre, and now that they were inside Leaf thought it was going to burst out of her chest; here she was, after barely a week ready to face her first gym battle. She stared around at the huge, towering, cathedral like walls and roof as they began to walk across a sandy field, and in her tense state Leaf felt as though all the nothingness surrounding them was beginning to close in.

    "Oh, did Red and Blue get their badges in the end?" Susie asked innocently. "That's what they left to do yesterday, wasn't it?" Leaf came to a stop, frowning slightly, her laughter quickly dying away; they had not spoken about the two boys since leaving the museum, and Leaf would have preferred not having to think about them. But now they were shoved to the front of her mind again, and Leaf was forced to imagine them in battle against Archer or Arianna, Charmander and Bulbasaur trying to hold off Arbok and Houndoom.

    "I don't think Leaf really wants to think about that," Janine replied with a touch of acid, and Susie fell silent, a guilty look filling her face. Leaf wanted to say something to her old friend, to say it was fine to bring it up, but words failed her as dark thoughts filled her head of Red and Blue, heading off alone to Route 3. This was what she had travelled for, not chasing after Team Rocket and putting her life in danger, and Leaf was not going to let their silly competition get in the way of what she had come here to do.

    "There's nothing to be worried about," Janine whispered as Susie began to babble on again. "It is just a gym battle, and Brock is meant to be the easiest leader by far. You have Squirtle so you should be good, and Pidgey and Weedle are going to be great as well. Besides, if you don't want to battle now you can just turn around and walk out those –"

    "No; I am here now, if I leave I will probably never come back," Leaf replied, forcing a smile, even though she wanted to be sick. By now, the trio had made it to the edge of the boulder strewn battlefield, and Leaf was just wondering where Brock was when a door banged open above, and three pairs of eyes glanced upwards.

    From what Leaf knew of gym leaders, they were highly respected by those around them, presenting themselves to the world in a particular manner to match the prestige of the title and the visions of their legions of fans around their region and the world. Leaf knew Brock had a reputation as a ladies man, and was well adored and loved by many of her fellow students, and she herself had ogled a shirtless photo spread in Teen Queen Magazine, and had expected Brock to withhold those expectations.

    However, as the Rock type trainer leaned over the railing, Leaf had to wonder if the photos had perhaps lied a little bit; Brock look tired and dishevelled, even from a storey above them. He was wearing what would have been a crisp white shirt and smart black trousers, but they now had a crinkled, slept in appearance. Brock's trademark spiky brunette hair was flat and messy, and he yawned loudly as he stared down at the trio. Leaf looked at Janine, and the Poison trainer had her eyebrows raised in a mix of shock and amusement.

    "Challengers, are you?" Brock mumbled, gazing absently between them.

    "Ummm… yes, we are, but we could come back later if you're… busy," Leaf said uneasily, feeling as though they walked into his bedroom instead of a gym. Brock shook his head and sighed loudly.

    "No no, it's fine, I am awake now," he grumbled, and began to descend a spiral staircase, his feet echoing so loudly Leaf had to wonder if he was stomping deliberately. "It's not as if I was awake until 5 this morning trying to clear rubble off my assistant… it's not as if my oldest and strongest Onix is still being treated for his injuries… no, no, I can battle, it's perfectly fine – I have nothing else to do, considering my oldest friend doesn't think he needs my help sorting out the mess he made..." Again, Leaf, Janine and Susie all exchanged looks, all taken aback by the gym leader's unprofessional, grumpy mood. Brock soon reached the same level as them, wobbling slightly as he got off the ladder, and then briskly walked towards them, coming to a halt on the opposite side of the pitch.

    "Your names?" He asked with another sigh, fetching PokeBalls out from his pocket.

    "Janine."

    "Susie!"

    "Leaf," Leaf added finally, slowly absorbing the gym leader and his surly attitude; he didn't even appear to have caught their names, instead muttering things under his breathe.

    "Is this punishment for being late, for not caring about stupid parties?" Brock grumbled quietly, but in the huge, quiet gym, his voice easily carried across the sand. "Onix saved their lives last night, but what thanks do I get? No Brock, we don't need your help Brock, just go back to your gym Brock – what, do I spend too much time here? Should I perhaps forgo my duties and flounce about at parties like you? Oh, I bet you enjoyed saying that, probably have been waiting to for years…" Brock suddenly looked up, as if he had only just realised they were still there, and he blushed slightly and straightened up.

    "Okay, so I will battle one after the other, I will use two Pokemon but you can use as many as you like, first trainer who knocks out their opponents Pokemon will win the badge. Janice, as your name's first alphabetically –"

    "Oh, no, I am not here to battle, just to watch," Janine interrupted, taking an awkward step backwards, and Leaf turned and looked quizzically at her; what was Janine doing training if she was not facing the gyms? They had never really discussed it, but Leaf had merely presumed, and now her curiosity was peaked.

    "Oh, okay then – Leaf, was it? You're up first then," Brock said, turning to her and forcing a smile. Leaf snapped out of her thoughts and looked back around, taken aback; she had not expected to battle so soon, This seemed so sudden, even though she had been building up to this for weeks now; her first gym battle, her first real adventure on this mad rush of a journey. Were her Pokemon ready for this challenge? Am I ready for this? Leaf thought, shaking slightly and taking a gulp.

    "I could go first if you want," Susie whispered. For a brief second, Leaf was tempted to accept, feeling as though the massive building was closing in around her. But then, in that moment, Leaf saw something flicker across Brock's face; was that annoyance, irritation or boredom that briefly shone in his eyes? Not that she felt she needed it, but Leaf had been expecting at least a little bit of support from the first gym leader she faced, not getting the brunt of their annoyance with someone else.

    "No Susie, I will take this battle, thank you," Leaf said curtly with a kind smile, and she stepped forwards onto the marked battle field, her feet sinking slightly in the sand as she fumbled for her PokeBalls. Brock nodded and moved into position, pulling out his first PokeBall.

    "Alright then, without any further ado, Geodude – I choose you!" He yelled, and he threw the capsule onto the field, a red and white blur that burst open as it touched the sand, spewing out red energy. Leaf watched patiently as Geodude was formed, essentially a small boulder with a face and hands. It looked threatening, the way it has its huge brown hands bunched up, and Leaf felt overwhelmed once again. However, Brock's nature was bothering her; she cared so much about her battle, and it seemed rude that he was not showing even the slightest bit of interest.

    "Come on out Squirtle!" She cried, and gracefully rolled her first PokeBall onto the pitch. With a flash that illuminated the gym, Squirtle landed on the sand, a few metres of earth separating him and Geodude. The Turtle Pokemon turned and looked back at Leaf, clearly not expecting to be in a battle; Leaf smiled encouragingly back, trying to ignore her own anxious thoughts and beating heart.

    "We can do this," she whispered, keeping her voice low so it would not carry. A cautious Squirtle nodded and turned back to face his opponent, and Leaf could see Brock looked more alert now, his eyes slightly wider, body tensed up like his Pokemon's. Leaf knew she would have to be ready now as well; she took all thoughts of Red and Blue, of Team Rocket and the meteorites, of the fact her arm had been slashed open, and she stored them away in the back of her head. This was what she had left home to do; this was the moment she had been waiting for.

    "Okay – if you're ready, then let us… BEGIN!"

    ***

    After the ferocity of the storm the past few days, it was rather surprising to be able to stroll through PewterCity without getting completely soaked. Humidity hung in the air, and the storm clouds remained like creatures waiting to strike after a failed attack, but there seemed no chance of the bad weather striking again while Red and Blue made their way along Route 3.

    It was different to the routes they had previously experienced; it was not as green or grassy as the ones by PalletTown and ViridianCity, with the path dirtier and more rock strewn. Trees continued to border their way, but as the duo headed further west, they began to thin and were replaced by more rocks which got bigger, and the path itself began to slope, making it a tiresome walk as they searched for Casimer and Mark. They had kept their Pokemon out to stretch their legs and get some exercise, but Charmander and Bulbasaur were getting tired, and Caterpie had fallen asleep on Red's shoulder.

    "How soon do you think until we find them?" Blue said nearly breathlessly as he glanced between Pewter quickly disappearing into the background and Bulbasaur walking sluggishly alongside, his usually proud and rough manner disappearing in his weariness.

    "They can't have gone too far," Red replied. "But I am not walking all the way to Mt Moon, not when Leaf is still there and all of our stuff is still at the PokemonCenter."

    "And Janine," Bleu added. Red turned and looked quizzically at him, and Blue replied with a simple shrug. "What, she is travelling with us now, isn't she?"

    "I suppose," Red murmured, though he had noticed the supposed ninja had not taken too kindly to him, and he did not really like the idea of travelling with three people who did not like him a lot. Blue looked unimpressed but did not say anything, and they carried on silence.

    A few moments later, there was a soft explosion from nearby, and the two turned as their Rattata burst forth from the grass. The two were nearly indistinguishable from the other, but Red had noticed earlier that his Rattata had a curlier tail, while Blue's had longer front teeth. Right now though, they were a swirling mass of purple and cream, rolling across the path as they play fought with the other.

    "Do you think fighting like this will help them level up?" Red said, looking at his friend with a slight smirk.

    "I hope so, we haven't had much chance to train them yet," Blue replied with an identical grin. "Too much time nearly getting killed by Team Rocket to do anything else." Red laughed at this for a moment, but the bitter truth behind Blue's words quickly softened any of the humour. He fell silent, thinking back to what Leaf had said at the museum; did they actually have the strength to take on Archer and Arianna both at once? Vivian Winters had saved them from their first encounter, and then it had taken some luck to get past them at the ViridianForest. Last night it had taken both Red and Blue, plus five Pokemon and a piece of wood, to stop Proton, and they had not treated their Pokemon before leaving…

    "Do you think Leaf may have been right to worry?" Red said finally, coming to a halt, and Blue paused and turned to face him. "Going off, battling Team Rocket again; are we doing the right thing?" Blue stared back at him in surprise, and for a brief second felt triumphant, receiving proof that he was bolder, braver, stronger than Red. However, before he could say anything, before he could even smirk, Blue stifled back a sigh, knowing perfectly well that Red was right; there was no way they could defeat Rocket alone.

    "Maybe she was…," he replied quietly, staring awkwardly at the path ahead, having no idea what they would face if they ever found Mark and Casimer. However, Blue thought back to the PokemonCenter yesterday, to the things Red had said… "But…. They haven't killed us yet, have they? If we keep going, there is a chance they we will win again! Like I just said, we have barely had any time to train, have we? This is a chance to get some real experience!" Red dwelled on this for a moment, but he knew the real reason why Blue was not backing down; neither of them was willing to admit defeat, neither of them was willing to be the first to accept that their Pokemon weren't ready, that they barely won their respective battles with Brock or Team Rocket. Their fight had been going unresolved for the past twenty four hours, and Red stared cautiously back at Blue, wanting to turn around and go home, but he knew what Blue was like; if he refused to carry on, Blue would see it as a victory, that he had been right all along…

    Their Rattata broke apart for a moment, Red's jumping between the two, and Red and Blue looked down and watched as the two … Pokemon faced each other, fangs bared menacingly, snapping at the other. The two trainers watched them, unable to look at the other, unable to admit defeat. For a minute, they waited for the two Rattata to pounce at the other and resume fighting, but after what felt like ages, both Normal types merely backed away, closing their jaws, panting wearily.

    "Rat A Ata Rat Rat."

    "Rattata Rat Rat A Rat Rat." And with that, the Rattata fell silent, moving slowly towards their respective trainers.

    "What is that about?" Blue asked, taken aback by the sudden end to their play fighting. Red looked between the two Rattata and could see how tired they were, covered in dust and dirt from rolling around, little red patches on their cheeks.

    "Maybe they just know when to quit," he replied without thinking, but his words hung in the air, and Red and Blue exchanged an awkward look, an understanding quickly falling between the pair of them…

    Before they could speak, a sudden flash illuminated the area, and both trainers looked around; rainbow light shone through the grey clouds, a glittering, shining pattern that spread across the sky. For a moment, Red and Blue were struck dumb by the display, exchanging stunned looks, their Pokemon watching in equal awe; but then, moments after the light had appeared, a figure began to descend from the clouds, something that looked humanoid but even from afar they both knew it was too tall and misshapen to be human.

    "Something's floating around it!" Red hissed, and Blue looked carefully and could see four shapes rotating around the figure. They looked at each other again, and without a moment's hesitation ran forwards, keeping their eyes on Deoxys as it descended a mile up the route, both trainers wondering what it was doing with the meteorites.

    ***

    "Bubble!"

    "Tackle!"

    Leaf watched tensely as a tired and battered Squirtle leapt back to his feet, having been knocked down seconds before by Geodude's powerful Tackle. He turned around, trying to find his opponent, who blended in so well with the other boulders, and fortunately spotted Geodude right as the RockPokemon was preparing to launch himself off a rock.

    "SQUIRTLE!" The Water type cried, and a small barrage of bubbles shot out of his mouth. Geodude pushed himself off the boulder at the same moment, and flew right through the water.

    "Duck!" Leaf yelled frantically, not sure if Squirtle would survive another hit, but he had already jumped away; Squirtle landed delicately a few feet away, but Geodude crash landed onto the sand and rolled over, rocky arms flailing, before thudding into a boulder; it was clear straight away that he was unconscious, his eyes falling shut, body limp and unmoving.

    "Congratulations, the first victory goes to you," Brock said, wearing an encouraging smile that did not mask the bitterness in his voice. Leaf grinned briefly back, but her attention quickly turned to Squirtle, who wobbled as he got back to his feet. The battle had not been what Leaf would call exciting, Squirtle having a limited move range and Geodude restricted by what would be effective, but the exchange of attacks had worn her starter down. Leaf had noticed from their training that Squirtle was softer than his fellows; Bulbasaur seemed silent and surly while Charmander was eager and confident. Squirtle shared that excitability, but he was not as focussed or strong as the others and as such had been beaten in most of their training exercises.

    But Squirtle had been her best hope for the battle; her other two Pokemon were Flying and Bug, both weak to the Rock type, and there was not a great move variety between them. Leaf gulped nervously as Brock withdrew his Pokemon and switched PokeBalls.

    "Usually around this time I would be using Onix," Brock called out. "However, most of my Onix's have been incapacitated over the past twenty four hours thanks to two gym battles and the issues at PewterMuseum. So for a change, I thought I would give one of my other Pokemon a try – I certainly hope you don't mind," he added with a sly smile, and threw the PokeBall forwards. Leaf watched tensely as it burst open, and then her jaw dropped as her next opponent formed.

    She pulled her PokeDex out to double check, but it simply confirmed her fears; the massive, jagged boulder-like Pokemon, with a sinister face and four rugged arms, was definitely Graveler, the evolved form of Geodude. It loomed over Squirtle, all four hands flexing as Graveler stared malevolently down at him. Squirtle stepped cautiously away and looked back at Leaf, fear shining across his face.

    He can't win this, not when he only has Bubble!, Leaf thought frantically. She tried to put on an encouraging face, but the situation she found herself in quickly dawned on her; she was in a battle she could not possibly win, not with her team the way it was, and if she could not even defeat the first gym, how would she manage the other ones?

    There has to be a way, you have not come all this way and gone through all that drama with Team Rocket to simply give up now! A voice in the back of her head told her furiously. Leaf frowned at the thought of retreating to Pallet Town after barely a week away from home; what would her grandfather think of her, what would the kids at school say, how would she live with herself knowing Red and Blue are out having adventures without her? There must be a way, think, THINK! Leaf looked around the field frantically; could they maybe move around the boulders? No, they'd be too heavy… what about the sand, sand is light enough for Pidgey and Weedle alike, yes?

    "Hmmm….," Leaf murmured aloud, her mind racing at her mad plan, and she looked up to see Brock watching her, waiting for her to move. "Squirtle, return!" She yelled, her heart beating rapidly as she grabbed his PokeBall, and Squirtle disappeared in a flash of red. "Now Pidgey, your turn!"

    "A Pidgey, really?" Brock said, eyebrows raised, as the Tiny Bird Pokemon formed in the air above. "A Flying type is a massive risk, I will be interested to see what you have planned."

    "So am I," Leaf mumbled uncertainly, and Brock grinned.

    "Let's get this going Graveller; Rock Throw!"

    "Fly down and use Sand Attack!" Leaf yelled. Pidgey chirped in response and tucked her wings in, dropping dramatically towards the field. Graveler was quicker though, quickly grabbing a large boulder from nearby and easily pulling apart with his four hands; when Pidgey pulled out of her dive, Graveler initiated his attack, throwing the rock hard projectiles with all his might. Leaf watched worriedly as they hurtled through the air, but Pidgey's smallness benefited here, as she easily curved around the stones and flew unharmed towards Graveler.

    "PIDGE!" She cried, swooping down and beating her wings against the field. Huge clumps of sand were swept up by her wings, and Graveler stumbled backwards as the tiny particles were fired into his face, blinding him.

    "Nice tactic," Brock said coldly, "but Pidgey still won't last long! Rollout, let's go!"

    "Fly up and fire a Gust directly into the hole you just made!" Leaf yelled. Brock looked confused by the order, but if Pidgey was bothered she did not show it; Leaf had a feeling that the Flying type was keen to prove herself, having lived her whole life on a route that seemed to only contain Pokemon like her. She soared upwards, and Leaf tensely watched Graveler as he rolled into a tight ball and slid across the field.

    "GRAV!" The Rock Pokemon bellowed deeply, and launched himself off a boulder and into the sky. Pidgey was easily able to dodge once again, and then frantically flapped her wings, generating a small but powerful gust of wind that struck the hole her Sand Attack had made. As Graveler fell back to the field with a thud, the wind blew across the sand, leaving a larger hole than before.

    "Thanks Pidgey, now return!" Leaf cried. "Weedle, it's your turn!" Brock looked stunned as Pidgey disappeared from the air, and seconds later the golden Weedle formed on a boulder in the middle of the field, looking inquisitively around.

    "Alright, Pidgey I can understand, but a Weedle?" Brock said, looking aghast. "You are aware I am using a Graveler, yes?"

    "Yes, I am aware, and I am aware that my strategy is going to beat you," Leaf said with a smile. Brock continued to look perplexed, but then he smirked too.

    "We shall see," he replied. "Graveler, Rollout – into the boulder!" Leaf took a deep breathe, aware that this was a massive risk she was taking, but now that Pidgey's part had worked, she was beginning to feel more confident. She watched as Graveler turned back around, squinting slightly from the sand in his eyes, but still spotted Weedle and curled up once again. Weedle turned around at the sound of his opponent tearing up the field, and looked horrified as the spinning ball hurtled towards him.

    "Jump!" Leaf yelled, eyeing a boulder opposite the hole, and Weedle obediently threw himself forwards, just as Graveler smashed through the rock; it broke apart spectacularly, and Weedle shrilly yelled as smaller stones bombarded him, nearly flattening him against the rock.

    "Keep going Weedle! Jump to the next one and use Poison Sting!" Leaf shouted.

    "Use Rollout again, keep destroying the boulders, give him less room to hide!" Brock bellowed, and Graveler barely paused, quickly wheeling about and speeding towards Weedle's new boulder. The Hairy Pokemon wasted no time and threw himself to the next stone, this time getting an extra second before Graveler hit, sending massive chunks of rock flying. Leaf raised her arm as a shield as the shrapnel spread across the pitch, but through her arms she could see something bright and purple moving through the dust cloud, striking Graveler in the back as he rolled past her; the Rock type kept spinning, but now he glowed purple as the ailment sunk beneath into his hard body.

    "Your Poison won't defeat him, not once we had crushed every boulder on this field! One Magnitude, one Rock Throw, and Weedle is gone!" Brock growled. "Keep going Graveler, he's over here!" Leaf looked up and saw Weedle was now sitting on the boulder closest to the hole Pidgey had whipped up, and she smiled, her plan able to come into effect.

    "Fire a String Shot directly into that hole!" Leaf bellowed. Brock looked confused, but by the time he realised there was no time to stop the speeding Graveler. Weedle leaned towards the hole and a string of white goo shot out of his horn, landing square in the middle of the dip. Leaf tensed up as Graveler neared, and then beamed as the … Pokemon rolled straight into the hole and froze; there was a deep grunt from within his bundled up arms, and much shaking and groaning, but Graveler was now stuck upside down in the dip. Brock's jaw dropped in shock, but Leaf could not be happier, for the first time since she had entered the gym feeling truly happy.

    "Okay Weedle, fire String Shot across Graveler and trap him in there!" She yelled. Brock stared blankly for a few moments but then shook his head, snapping out of his thoughts, an annoyed look taking over.

    "Use Magnitude!" He roared. Leaf had feared an attack like this, knowing that it could be enough to bring Weedle down. However, no Magnitude came, and she peered into the pit to see Graveler was struggling to move let alone attack, a giant grey ball shaking irritably in the hole.

    "Weedle Wee!" Weedle bellowed softly, and more String Shot was fired; this time, Weedle fired it so it stretched across the pit, forming an Ariados-like web across Graveler. Furious grunts rose out of the hole, but Graveler was well and truly stuck, and Leaf had to stifle a cheer.

    "Weedle, return!" She cried. "Squirtle, let's finish this off!" Weedle disappeared just as quickly as he had formed, and Squirtle reappeared a second later; he still looked dazed and wobbly, but Leaf was riding high on the others successes, and knew Squirtle could pull off the victory.

    "You can destroy him Graveler! MAGNITUDE!" Brock yelled, now looking nothing like the tired, disinterested trainer who had first descended the stairs. Graveler roared just as furiously, and Leaf was taken aback when she felt the field shake, watching as the sand bounced about and the rocks quivered; Squirtle shook for a moment, but he managed to maintain his footing and the shaking quickly stopped without any lasting damage.

    "He will have to do better than that!" Leaf called teasingly to Brock. "Now Squirtle, fire a Bubble directly into the hole!"

    "MAGNITUDE!" Brock shouted, but his order was too late; Graveler had been glowing purple profusely for the past few turns, and now Squirtle was right on top of him, able to score a direct hit with his Bubble-bombardment. For a few moments, Graveler continued to try and shake and free himself, but then he fell still, all grunts dying away. Quickly, Brock strutted across the field and stared down into the hole. Leaf took a deep breathe in, staring intently at Brock's head hair as it stuck out of the hole; then, with a loud sigh, the gym leader re-appeared, looking grave.

    "Graveler is unable to battle, meaning that you are the winner." Leaf gasped and froze in shock; it took a few moments to properly sink in, but when it did, she beamed broadly and began to squeal, leaping up and down on the spot; she had won, she had won her first badge!

    "SQUIRTLE!" Squirtle yelled boldly, running towards her, and Leaf threw her arms out and pulled him into a hug. Her starter was panting and winced at her touch, but Leaf could not be happier to have him by her side; in fact, at that moment, she felt as though she had the best team in the world.

    "Good job; that was a risky strategy, but it paid off in the end," Brock said, walking slowly forwards her and holding out what she had come here for. Leaf beamed and walked forwards, holding Squirtle in one arm and grabbing her Boulder Badge and TM with the other. The badge was cold and was smaller than Leaf had expected, but she could not help but beam and hold the rock-shaped emblem high, Susie and Janine clapping and smiling as they stepped forwards. Brock applauded along with them, but his smile did not match his eyes, and when Leaf looked back round and noticed, her own joy sank slightly. She frowned, and before she could stop herself, all the disappointment and annoyance she had felt during the battle came bursting forth.

    "Okay, look here; I am not expecting you to be dancing with glee about me winning, but you are a gym leader, you should be more supportive of young trainers instead of getting all stuffy and aggressive when you lose! AND you should be prepared to battle if you had your gym doors open, not waking up looking as though you slept in your clothes!" Brock looked taken aback by the outburst, and even Squirtle stared at Leaf in surprise, but she was glad she had said it, and part of the tension and guilt she had being holding in since the museum had lessened.

    "Oh… um… I'm sorry," Brock said sheepishly with a touch of edge, clearly not use to his opponents confronting him at the end of a match. There was a tense silence that engulfed the gym for a few seconds, but then Brock sighed and shook his head. "Your right, I have acted inappropriately. I have not had the best twenty four hours, to tell you the truth. I got beaten by two trainers, one after the other, yesterday, both of whom had only just started their journeys, and frankly it was embarrassing; I am a gym leader for peeps sake, not some bug trainer skulking around ViridianForest! Then there was the whole drama with Team Rocket last night; I did my best to help, but Mark Hansom seemed reluctant to let me have any role with handling Deoxys and the meteorites. I sort of stormed off and came right back here and crashed; this isn't the first time Mark hasn't let me help out, and I swear it is because I never go to any of his stupid parties!"

    "Well, just because you think they are stupid doesn't mean he does!" Leaf scolded. "If he really is a friend, you should be willing to help him out with things like that! But then again, if he really is your friend then he should let you work as a team… but if you are a team, then you shouldn't have stormed off, not without hearing their side of the story, not without finding out why he was acting that way… what if he is in trouble right this minute…" Leaf fell silent as realisation swept over her, and she nearly dropped her badge, her mind racing once again. Then, with barely a moments pause, she turned rapidly around to a confused Janine. "We have find Red and Blue right now!"

    "What? Find them, why?"

    "Wait, you know Red and Blue?"

    "What about my gym battle?" Leaf paused after dropping her badge into a pocket, and slowly turned to face Susie, already feeling terribly guilty; she seemed to be running out on her friend all the time now, and felt awful for having to do it again.

    "I'm sorry, I promise I will watch your next one! I have just realised I made a terrible mistake!" Leaf explained quickly, rushing backwards towards the door with one hand dragging Janine. "Thank you Brock, you have helped me more than you realise!" Brock looked stunned and confused, but he awkwardly waved at her as she left, while Susie stood silent and sullen alongside.

    "Leaf, what are you on about?" Janine cried as they stepped between the sliding doors. "I thought you said they were being idiots for going?"

    "They are, but I am being an idiot by not helping them!" Leaf wailed back. "What if something happens to them and I wasn't there to help them or to do a better job of stopping them? We are travelling as a team, and I let them done by letting them run off! We have to find them before something bad happens!"

    "How do you expect us to catch up to them though? They left ages ago!" Janine tutted. Leaf had not really thought of this, and was briefly considering whether Pidgey would be willing to carry them when a loud car horn broke through the post-storm silence of Pewter; the two turned as a limousine sped towards, and watched as the passenger door was flung open before the car had even stopped.

    "There you two are!" Madame croaked as she stuck her head around the door. "I have been trying to find you for the past fifteen minutes, I thought I'd have to drag you away from your battle!"

    "What do you need us for?" Janine asked, but Leaf could see an opportunity.

    "We need to get to Route 3, Red and Blue have gone there and –" she began, but Madame interrupted, waving her walking stick frantically.

    "Route 3's why I've come for you!" She said briskly. "I thought you two would want to see this thing through, considering we nearly died because of it!"

    "What are you on about?" Leaf asked, feeling fearful, and Madame tutted.

    "Did those Rocket fools blind you too, look at the bloody sky!" And she pointed a wizened finger in the direction of Mt Moon. Leaf and Janine both looked and instantly gasped; the sky was lit up like a rainbow, but it was nothing like they had ever seen before. Without any hesitation, they jumped into the limo, and Madame's driver sped off, ready to find out what was going on.

    ***

    Silence filled Route 3. The grassy fields, the rocky slopes, the empty dirt paths, all were empty and quiet, not a single soul moving through the mountain road. It seemed abandoned, forgotten, like an old street that had been replaced years before. It had the eerie calmness of the sea before a storm, one that would be catastrophic for anyone caught in it, yet two people currently stood right in the middle of the brewing chaos.

    Mark and Casimer did not speak to each other, they did not exchange looks; in fact, they hardly breathed as Deoxys descended from the clouds above. It had been dark when they had first lain eyes upon the Pokemon, but they would never forget the strangeness of that creature; tall and humanoid, but designed by someone who had little idea what humans looked like. Its body was a rich, deep red, its legs oddly thick curving downwards, while its arms were red and turquoise, resembling string that had twisted together. A purple crystal glowed from the middle of its chest, and as Deoxys descended, its blank white eyes stared down at the humans beneath it, pupil-less eyes bearing into their thoughts and souls, their minds turned into an open book for the legendary to examine at will.

    Surrounding Deoxys were the four meteorites Team Rocket had tried to steal, held there by the Pokemon's Psychic powers, but they were not still as you'd expect rocks to be, and instead seemed active, almost alive, as they came nearer and nearer to the pit that had previously been their home, occasionally flashing with light unlike that currently spread across the skies above. Mark felt unbearable guilt as he stared into the uneven crater, four empty crevices at the bottom showing where he had taken the meteorites from. He wondered if Deoxys would punish him, but the legendary had given nothing away when it had flown away with the meteorites last night, merely telling the two to wait at the crater for him. Mark could not help but be fearful though, even as he tried to mask his feelings behind calm indifference; he had seen what remained of the museum, how broken and damaged it had been, and could imagine what may happen to him.

    Finally, after hours of waiting, Deoxys came to a halt before them, hovering a metre above and away from them. Its empty white eyes looked blankly at the pair, but it did not speak, did not give any indication that it was pleased to see them, simply looking intently at them. Casimer took a confident step forwards, silently cursing Charlotte for bringing him into this, and spoke.

    "Deoxys, I am here as a representative of all the residents and Pokemon trainers of Kanto," the Champion said, his booming voice carrying throughout the silent hills that surrounded them. "I am here to apologize on behalf of us humans for the serious mistreatment of your meteorites, on behalf of the PewterMuseum researchers that discovered and harvested them, and on behalf of the members of Team Rocket who planned on using these for nefarious purposes. We did not intend to offend you, and we will make it known throughout our world that these meteorites are your property, not ours." He ended his speech hopefully; Casimer was regularly asked to give speeches, and usually received a raucous applause for his efforts. The Champion never really enjoyed those moments, but he realised now it was much better to receive applause than nothing; Deoxys had not spoken or moved, staring without blinking at him, making no comment. The silence carried on for several more minutes, and in that time Casimer thought he could hear several things; the oncoming sound of many footsteps banging against the rocky floor behind, far off whispers and the rustling of grass, but he did not dare look, refusing to look away from Deoxys.

    I understand, and I accept your words, the legendary Pokemon said finally, his words echoing inside their heads, and Casimer and Mark briefly exchanged looks, swelling with relief inside. However, I asked you here for another reason; whilst I shall seal my meteorites here with my own powers, they can be broken, and I ask that they be protected at all costs by humans now that they have been unearthed.

    "Of course, we will definitely do that!" Mark said quickly, nodding vigorously. "My team at the museum can arrange for this area to be made a national heritage item; it will increase the legal ramifications for damages."

    That is good, though my powers are far more severe than those of your human legal system, Deoxys said, but Mark nodded obediently. Now, I shall begin to seal my meteorites, and you two shall deal with those persons waiting to ambush us.

    "Ambush us?" Casimer said coldly, his eyes flickering about the area. "I thought you were waiting for the area to clear before returning?"

    Indeed I had, but I underestimated the determination of this Team Rocket to capture my meteorites, and I must say I do not have the patience to wait around for theirs to wear thinner, Deoxys explained; its eyes suddenly flashed pink, and behind him a series of bushes were torn out of the ground from the opposite side of the pit, revealing a number of people in black uniforms watching from atop a cliff.

    "Them!" Mark yelled, reaching for the handgun he had brought, but he had barely moved when machine guns suddenly appeared in their opponent's hands, and red laser points appeared across his chest. A sole figure stood up from behind the grunts, and Casimer's eyes narrowed as Archer stepped to the front of the cliff, his smirk visible even from afar.

    "I should have known our hiding spot would not be entirely hidden from a creature of your powers," he called mockingly out to Deoxys, and bowed exaggeratedly, though he kept his eyes on the legendary Pokemon. "And your assumptions are correct; Team Rocket shall not rest, not until we have your meteorites in our possession!"

    "You will never lay your hands on these!" Casimer snarled, and raised his left hand, three PokeBalls resting in his palm. Archer looked at them and smirked.

    "Oh yes, your Pokemon, how adorable; let us see how handy they will be when you are dead!" The admin snapped. Casimer looked down, noticing the lasers aimed at his chest, and whilst he looked defiant he felt uneasy, knowing it would be simple for the waiting grunts and their guns to tear him to shreds. However, Deoxys floated downwards so its body fell between Casimer, Mark and the guns.

    You can attempt to shoot me if you wish, but it will be most unwise of you to try, it murmured, the voice sounding inside all their heads. I will warn you that I am not prepared to relinquish my meteorites, and I am most difficult to execute; believe me when I say many people have tried to capture and kill me since I first arrived on your planet, and none of them have succeeded. If you wish to live, then leave now before I am forced to attack.

    The silence that followed was unlike anything Casimer or Mark had experienced before. It felt as if Deoxys was sucking all the air out of them as it waited for Archer to reply, and no one dared to move, breathe or blink, all eyes looking warily between Archer and Deoxys, everyone on both sides waiting to see what the admin said next. Archer looked less confident now that Deoxys had spoken, and he cast his eyes across his team as if looking for advice; he saw Grunts standing by, waiting for their orders, their nerves etched into their faces; he saw Petrel moving about treating the still unconscious Proton; he briefly settled on Arianna, waiting in the background, her lips pursed, eyes tense, and for a moment Archer felt less confident, seeing her looking at him like that, and for several seconds he was tempted to leave right then and there…

    Then, in those few seconds, the silence was shattered by something as simple as footsteps; every eye in the area, including Deoxys, turned and looked to Route 3 as two figures appeared, running, on the scene. They skidded to a halt, red in the face and panting, their eyes still on the rainbow clouds above, but then the boys looked at the scene, gazed between Mark and Casimer, Deoxys and the grunts, and Archer saw who they were. His smile suddenly widened, and Archer knew now what to do.

    "There is always a first for everything," he whispered, his eyes focussed on Red and Blue. There was a pause as those words reverberated around the pit, as Red, Blue and their Pokemon tried to take stock of the situation, and then Deoxys blinked.

    So be it, it said coldly; its right arm grabbed hold of one meteorite, and the other three fell into the pit. Archer sharply lowered his hand, and with that, the battle began.

    The sound of gunfire exploded throughout the route. Red and Blue had been thrown by the appearance of Team Rocket, but they quickly acted as bullets hit the ground at their feet; grabbing their Pokemon, the boys leapt towards the safety of the car, flinging open doors and jumping inside.

    "Who the hell are you two?" Mark snapped as he came in from the other side, ducking low as the windows exploded around them.

    "I'm Red and this Blue," Red explained quickly, staring confusedly out at the battle.

    "We're friends with Leaf and Janine!"

    "Oh yes, Janine mentioned you this morning," Mark said, his tone quickly softening, and he cautiously followed Red's line of vision. "Glad to see you got out of the museum alive – pity you had to stumble across the next big fight."

    "What the hell is going on here?" Blue yelled, not seeing the funny side.

    "Last night, Deoxys took the meteorites away after it destroyed the museum, but it told me and Casimer to meet it here today for when it put them back," Mark explained. "Team Rocket must have worked out that would happen and have been waiting for us – Deoxys, however, had more faith in them then I do, and expected them to stand down. I thought Archer would have for a second, but then…," Mark trailed off there, looking the boys up and down, and Red and Blue knew enough from their battles to understand; Team Rocket had only attacked because they had appeared, probably so they could kill them at the same time as getting the meteorites. The two exchanged glances, both thinking the same thing; Leaf had been right, it had been a mistake to come here, and now they would have to pay the price.

    There was a thud, and they all turned as Casimer opened up the boot, removing the carpet and pulling out a long black machine gun. He looked up and caught Red's eye for a second, and despite the situation, Red's stomach jolted; he had never been so close to the Champion before, and to find his hero before him, ready to fight, ready to defeat enemies, made Red feel certain he could get out of this alive.

    Casimer merely nodded at him, his face grim, and turned and walked away. Red turned to watch him and saw that the same Gengar from the museum was hovering in front of the car, absorbing the bullets that came towards the car and firing them away.

    "Why aren't we fighting back?" Blue snapped. "Why isn't Deoxys doing anything?"

    "It is – can't you see?" Mark said. Red looked through the shattered front window and could see Deoxys, but it seemed as though the legendary was simply floating there. However, when he focussed, Red could see rainbow light shining from Deoxys front, and the meteorite it held was beginning to glow a blinding white.

    "Deoxys is changing formes; I have read about it but I have never seen it happen in person!" Mark whispered in awe. "It is going into Attack Forme, I suspect, to better deal with Rocket. We should wait here until it is ready; there is no point in us getting killed before it tries to stop them."

    To Red and Blue, the plan seemed intelligent, neither of them willing to go up against bullets. The only downside was that Archer could tell this was what they intended to do. The green haired admin stared across at his enemies, watching as Casimer loaded a machine gun behind the protection of his Gengar. If Rocket wanted to get the upper hand, Archer knew they needed to strike now; he felt uneasy, a constant battle raging in his mind about if he had made the right decision, but there was no backing out now, and Archer would not stop until the battle ended in his favour.

    "Release the Zubat and Geodude, let's get those meteorites before they can stop us!" Archer barked loudly, keeping a cautious eye on his enemies. The Grunts that were not shooting nodded and moved quickly; a number grabbed trays loaded with PokeBalls and began tossing the capsules into the skies or down into the pit, while the rest gathered around a series of futuristic looking white boxes; at the press of a button they began to float, . The crates rose up at the press of a button, specially built vessels designed for carrying the weight of the meteorites. Archer watched as the grunts began to lead them towards the clearing, but his eyes came across Arianna once more, the red head leaning against a truck; she turned away from the grunts and caught his eye. They stared at each other for a few seconds, but then Arianna turned and strutted away, grabbing a long pole as she did so, and Archer turned grimly away, wondering how she'd react if he won, but dreading how she would if they lost.

    In a few seconds, Red could see the battle was turning against them; two dozen Zubat were now flapping in the sky, while an equal amount of Geodude filled the pit, working in pairs to load the meteorites into floating crates the grunts were guiding down. Deoxys was shining so brightly now that it was almost blinding, its entire body shining like a spotlight, but it seemed no closer to forming. The only Pokemon defending them was Gengar, who was slowly rising up to meet the swarm of Zubat, but Casimer did not seem to be giving orders, instead watching the battle, machine gun by his side.

    "If we don't do something, they are going to take the meteorites!" Red hissed at Mark. "There has to be something we can do to help!"

    "Do you really think your Pokemon are going to be able to stand up against bullets?" Mark snapped back, eyes narrowed. "The second you step outside they will shoot you, and then we will have even less of a chance of getting out of this! We have to wait for Deoxys to finish transforming, and then we will be able to help!"

    "They are getting the meteorites now though!" Red yelled, watching as two Geodude loaded the first crate. Red stared at the mass of Rock types, memories of his battle against Brock swarming back to him; it seemed like so long ago that he had actually fought in it and won, but now, watching the Geodude, Red remembered the powerful rush that came with winning, the joy he had felt when his crazy strategy actually pulled off. And what were gym battles for if not preparation for the real world, the real and bigger challenges that are waiting out there? He looked at Blue, and could see more clearly than ever how foolish their feud had been, how much they had risked by forcing themselves into battle like that. But Red could see that it may have just paid off.

    "I'm not waiting any more," he said, and before Mark could even blink, Red jumped out of the car with Caterpie still on his shoulder, and pointed down into the pit. "String Shot, fire it on all of them!"

    "Caterprieeeee!" Caterpie squealed, and Red leaned his head away as the Bug began to spray the sticky string into the pit. He smiled as one Geodude holding a meteorite was hit clearly in the face, causing the stone to fall and roll back into a hole. Caterpie did not stop there, and within a minute half the Geodude were struggling to pull the String Shot off their faces. Red smiled broadly; however, it was clear now that attention had turned firmly upon him. Grunts lined two sides of the pit, and they were all staring at him with a mixture of shock and rage.

    "DON'T JUST SIT THERE, SHOOT HIM!" Archer roared, pointing madly down at Red, his eyes clearly bulging. The grunts agreed, and Red looked down in horror as dots appeared across his chest, his enemies lining him up to shoot, and his mind fell blank, all his bravado disappearing; for a second, it seemed like this was it…

    A car horn sounded above all the chaos, and Red barely had time to look before a limousine burst roaring through the bushes and clunked over the ledge. He cried out and leapt backwards just as the grunts fired; the bullets harmlessly slammed into the other side of the limo, which skidded to a stop just before it hit Mark's four wheel drive, and Red found himself lying on the ground, breathing deeply and staring shell shocked at Caterpie's, her big black eyes wider than normal .

    "Red! Thank god you're alright!" A familiar voice cried, and Red looked up as Leaf leapt out from the safe side of the limo, followed quickly by Janine, her throwing stars clutched in her hand.

    "What are you dong here?" Red asked dumbly, feeling confused and stunned after having so close to death.

    "We followed the rainbow," Leaf replied, gesturing at the sky above, and then her attention fell on the glowing figure hovering over the battle. "Oh my gosh, is that… is that Deoxys?" Red nodded and Leaf exchanged stunned looks with Janine. They stared at him for a few seconds, by which time Blue, Mark and their Pokemon had scrambled out to join them behind the safety of the limo, but they snapped back into reality as a bullet flew over Leaf's head, making her instinctively duck.

    "Team Rocket's here, they are trying to kill us and get the meteorites before Deoxys changes forme," Red explained quickly. He remained on the ground, and he zoned out for a few moments as Blue, Leaf, Janine and Mark dissected the situation; there had been times over the past week where he had nearly died, but Red had not come that close before, had not had so many guns aimed directly at him before. He could see now that Mark was right; they were outnumbered, just as Red had been since the moment he had left Pallet, and he wished now that he had taken Leaf's advice.

    "ZUBAT!" Leaf's yell snapped Red out of his thoughts, and he looked up as a cloud of blue and purple suddenly descended upon them. He raised his arms over his face for protection, and suddenly felt a mass of wings whacking against him, while the cries of his fellow travellers and Pokemon sounded all around. Red tried to see where other people were, but the entire swarm of Zubat were now surrounding them, sucking away the light. Caterpie whimpered by his shoulder, and Red reached out to pat her, but a thought suddenly occurred to him.

    "LEAF! LEAF, SEND OUT WEEDLE!" He yelled. Red waited for a response, but there was the familiar click and whoosh of a Pokemon forming, and he smiled in his arms. "ON MY COUNT, COMMAND STRING SHOT, OKAY? ONE… TWO… THREE!"

    "STRING SHOT!" He and Leaf cried simultaneously, and their Pokemon quickly responded; Red spread his arms enough to watch as Caterpie began firing String Shot at the advancing Zubat. Their attacks were enough to weaken the crowd, and soon Charmander and Bulbasaur moved in, firing Embers and Leech Seeds respectively, and within two minutes the crowd had disappeared. Red breathed with relief and climbed back to his feet, and stared down at the fallen Zubat as both Rattata moved in to finish them off.

    "That was some smart thinking!" Leaf said, smiling softly. "I completely lost my head – wouldn't have even thought of it!"

    "It was nothing," Red said, shrugging. He looked at Caterpie and grinned at her; the little green Pokemon smiled widely back, and then suddenly began to glow white. Red gasped, and despite the chaos around him, his attention was solely on Caterpie as her entire body shone. Picking her delicately up, Red placed her on the ground and stepped backwards, and the same moment as another burst of light hit his eyes; Leaf made a noise halfway between a gasp and a squeal as Weedle began to shine a blinding white, and she too placed him on the ground. The small group watched as Caterpie curved and began to lengthen and thicken, while Weedle stood up straight and seemed to harden. Red and Leaf exchanged stunned looks, but then they both smiled as the light began to fade…

    Where Caterpie and Weedle had stood seconds before, a Metapod and Kakuna were now in their place. Metapod looked up at Red with sullen eyes, and Red felt as though she still had Caterpie's shape but had merely grown a thick green shell around herself. Kakuna looked the same, his eyes now dark and narrow, a golden-brown shell encasing his body.

    "They evolved…," Leaf whispered in shock. "THEY EVOLVED!" She squealed, looking frantically at Red, and he beamed at her before looking down at Metapod, who stared beadily up at him; his little Caterpie, the tiny green Pokemon he had had for only a few days, but here she was, already in the next stage of her evolution. It was strange to think that her, with her limited moves, had managed to make it so far so soon, and Red's heart swelled with pride as he scooped her up.

    "We can't let Team Rocket win," he said to everyone, though he kept his eyes on Metapod. "They are not going to defeat us! They may outnumber us, but we can still defeat them!" He looked up finally, and saw Blue, Leaf, Janine and Mark all nodding in agreement, while their Pokemon flexed muscles and bared teeth, ready to fight. Red looked around for Casimer and saw that Gengar was fighting against a great ugly Arbok, hissing poison at the Ghost type, and he thought it looked familiar; sure enough, the red headed Arianna was duelling with Casimer a few feet away, brandishing a long staff to keep him at bay. It looked dire, but Red realised that the grunts were not shooting, not when one of their own was so near their targets.

    "We need to send our Pokemon into the pit to defeat the Geodude before they get the meteorites," he yelled, and looked at Blue, half expecting his friend to argue or disagree, but Blue determinedly nodded, and Red swelled slightly inside.

    "You'll need a clear path first!" Janine said, smirking, and threw a PokeBall forwards; Ekans formed loudly on the limo roof, and jumped directly onto Arbok, fangs sinking through her purple flesh. Arbok squawked and flung her tail so violently it made the limo roll backwards, creating a clear path to the pit. Red nodded at Janine, and she grimly tilted her head backwards, throwing stars already raised.

    "LET'S GO!" Red yelled, and he ran forwards, clutching Metapod in his arms. Arianna turned as he approached, but Mark leapt at her and began to wrestle the staff from her hands. Red smirked and ran to the very edge of the pit before stopping; briefly taking in how smooth the slopes edges were, as if it had been carved like this, before his Pokemon leapt into the battle below. Charmander, Bulbasaur and both Rattata became blurs, racing towards the scattered Geodude, many of whom were still blind from the String Shots, and the attacks began to fly. Leaf and Blue joined him, and Metapod and Kakuna both fired String Shots into the pit, either blinding or trapping the Geodude there. Red was beginning to feel confident, watching as Charmander slashed a Metal Claw against one Geodude, while Bulbasaur threw two back to the grunts with vine whip; their battle was turning in their favour, and Janine was even taking out the grunts, her throwing stars shining as they soared against the pit.

    "They will need help if they are going to defeat them all," Leaf said.

    "My other Pokemon – I keep forgetting about it!" Blue cried, and he quickly fetched his third PokeBall out from his pocket. Red and Leaf both turned away from the battle at hand, intrigued by what their friend now had, and Blue beamed broadly as he threw the capsule into the battle. Bulbasaur jumped backwards as the ball landed near him, and the Geodude without String Shot blinding them watched with interest as red light poured out, merging together to form a….

    "Karp Karp Magikarp Karp Karp!" A squat red fish with gold on its top formed in the pit, flopping so intensely that the Geodude backed away in fear. However, Blue's face sunk as he stared in shock at the Pokemon, which was making so much noise that the battle was actually pausing, the grunts lowering their weapons and staring down into the pit.

    "A Magikarp… I paid for a Magikarp…," Blue murmured, looking at his latest acquisition almost with disgust. Red and Leaf quickly exchanged looks, both of them wearing expressions of amusement merged with concern, and Red gave Blue a consoling pat on the back.

    "In a few weeks time, it will be a Gyarados," he said, but Blue turned and gave him a look that would make plants wither, and Red stepped awkwardly away. He looked across at the battle around them, and was surprised to see that everyone had fallen silent; all eyes were on the Magikarp that had been unleashed into the middle of a war zone, a weak creature in a situation that required such power that it seemed to have stunned everyone and everything around it.

    Then laughter erupted from high atop the cliff. Red, Blue and Leaf all looked upwards, and they saw Archer standing at the edge of the clearing, laughing loudly and deeply as he stared down at them with cold, humourless eyes.

    "This is what we are up against?" He cackled. "These are the trainers that Giovanni wants us to stop? Look at you three – you're pathetic! Team Rocket is going to conquer Kanto and rule this region, yet Giovanni thinks we should be concerned about trainers who can get tricked into buying Magikarp? You fight against us with Rattata and Caterpie and Weedle – you are no threats to us!"

    "I bet you didn't think that when we beat you the other day!" Red shouted, and Archer stopped laughing instantly, his eyes narrowing as he glared down at them.

    "This has gone on long enough," he said coldly. "Kill them, kill every last one of them; KILL THEM!" And without waiting, Archer pulled a machine gun away from a nearby grunt, angrily raising it up and pointing it towards them, and everyone watched, certain that someone was about to be shot.

    I have seen enough, a deep voice suddenly boomed, and Leaf jumped, looking frantically around until Red poked her and pointed at the sky; Deoxys was no longer glowing, but simply floating, eyes flashing with a vivid pink light. Leaf was in awe of the Legendary, taking in its long red and turquoise arms, its three pointed head, the jagged green points on its leg, and the shining jewel that sparkled on its chest.

    I am not impressed by the actions I have seen today, Deoxys said, its tone emotionless but it felt scolding as it echoed inside all their heads. Violence is not the answer to any issue; as you can see, it has been so long so I have felt the need to change to my Attack forme that my body was slow to accept the change. I am disappointed but not surprised by your very human actions today, but I am here to end it. Its eyes flashed more brightly than ever, and when Deoxys flexed his arms, a faint rainbow wave flickered across the scene.

    Suddenly, all members of Team Rocket were floating in the air; the Zubat and Geodude froze and rose up like balloons, while the grunts squirmed and struggled against their invisible bonds. Red, Blue and Leaf watched Arianna and her Arbok rise up, along with a now groaning Archer, and they kept rising until they reached the height of the clearing. Then, Deoxys moved its arms to the left and all of Team Rocket soared across the pit before getting dumped in the bushes.

    You shall leave now, within the next minute, and tell your commander that if any of you try and steal my meteorites again, I will not be so lenient, Deoxys boomed, now waving his arms so that Red and Blue's Pokemon rose out from the pit. These stones are not fro humans to touch, and I shall not have any bloodshed over what is mine ever again, but I will gladly be the one to shed it if I am pushed. Deoxys stretched its arms out wide, and the four meteorites lit up like rainbows as they floated towards the uneven holes, falling in like pieces of a puzzle. Both sides watched as Deoxys brought his arms together, something like electricity crackling between the tips, and it pulled away to form a giant, glowing ball, sparkling and shining like something magical.

    "Step back," Casimer cried, and everyone obeyed the Champion, but they had barely moved a step before Deoxys threw the ball down into the pit. It exploded the second it touched the ground, a huge golden white light blinding them all as the energy rose up the sides. Red, Blue, Leaf, their Pokemon and everyone around them watched in awe as the light rose up, almost as tall as building, shining and glowing like a great pillar; then, after what felt like minutes, there was a brilliant rainbow flash, and a wave of energy washed across them, and the light had disappeared.

    "Look at the stones!" Janine cried. Red had to blink rapidly, the bright light burnt into his eyes, but he rushed forwards with the others and stared into the pit; the meteorites were plain and black once more, but now they were infused into the ground, the floor as smooth as the rest of the pit.

    "Team Rocket had gone," Mark said with a touch of bitterness, and Red looked up and the clearing on the other side was indeed empty.

    "Where have they gone?" He asked.

    They would have retreated; my words will have affected them, even if they do not fully taken them into account, Deoxys replied, floating down and staring at the crowd of people before them. Red shifted uncomfortably, feeling those blank eyes staring into the back of his head, but did not speak his discomfort. I shall leave now that I have secured my meteorites; Casimer, Mark, I expect you to keep your promise, and that those who bore witness to the acts shall spread my wish across your land.

    "Of course," Mark said quickly, while Casimer nodded solemnly.

    Good, Deoxys replied simply, and turned his attention back to Red, Leaf, Blue and Janine. Enjoy the rest of your travels children, but be warned; I can sense a tension brewing in the air, a tension I have not felt for some years. Expect there to be more threats like these in your travels, and be warned. As for you, Blue Oak; it is not what a Pokemon looks like that matters, it is what it does with its abilities that counts, and what you as a trainer do with such a Pokemon will mark you for the rest of your travels. Blue looked down at the Magikarp flopping at his feet, and silently nodded, though was not sure what to make of those words.

    Farewell trainers, I hope that I will not need to encounter you again; if I do, then the best of luck for your futures. And with a flash, Deoxys sped back up into the sky; all heads inclined upwards, watching the red blur as it disappeared through the rainbow coloured clouds, and then even the strange colours faded away, normally white clouds appearing instead. Silence fell across them all, one that was awkward as none of the strange assorted group quite knew what to say now…

    "For god's sake, trust me to always get the bad driver!" A voice shrieked, and everyone turned as Madame emerged from the limousine, shaking her head and flexing her wrinkled arms, walking stick clasped in hand. "The damn fool drove right off the road, nearly killing us all, and managed to bloody well knock himself out in the process! They just hand licenses out these day – my god, the state of the world today! Alright then, what did I miss?"

    ***

    "Are you sure you aren't going to come with us?"

    "Yeah… I'm sorry, but I am meant to be training, and it seems this past week all I have done is fight for my life! I wasn't even keen on that party in the first place."

    "You can probably blame us for that," Leaf said, smiling awkwardly, and Janine laughed briefly. The ninja had her rucksack hanging off one shoulder and her Ekans wrapped around her right leg, hissing softly as her yellow eyes flickered about the PokemonCenter waiting room. Red and Blue were talking to Mark by the couches, and for a moment Janine stared across at them, falling silent as she watched them all. Leaf tried to look away, but she could not help but stare curiously at her now departing friend; since Janine had declined the gym battle, she had been wondering what the Pokemon trainer was doing if not that. Surely there must be a reason for leaving home and training her Ekans, but Leaf was beginning to wonder how much her friend was keeping to herself.

    "I am sure we will run into each other again," Janine said suddenly, turning around, and Leaf snapped out of her thoughts. "I will be heading in the same direction as you guys – your heading through Mt Moon now, right?"
    "Yeah, I think so, then on to Cerulean to face Misty."

    "Well, good luck with that – hopefully Team Rocket won't show up again."

    "Hopefully they don't," Leaf replied, and she flung out her arms. "Take care of yourself!"

    "You too," Janine said brightly, and the two embraced for a moment. Leaf felt odd at how attached she had become to Janine after only a few days together, but it had been nice to have another girl around, to have another friend that had not fled in fear the moment Team Rocket had appeared. Yet as Janine walked out of the Center waving, Leaf wondered if there was something they had done to drive her away, and she looked over at Red and Blue, wondering why Janine had kept staring at the pair.

    "I'd better be heading back to the museum," Mark said suddenly, and Leaf headed over as the handsome archaeologist got to his feet. "You three don't seem to have any lasting damage, but the museum is going to need a bit more work."

    "Thanks for checking up on us," Leaf said, smiling softly, and Mark winked back.

    "I feel it is the least I can do – removing those meteorites from the pit and throwing the party is what got us all into this mess in the first place." His face sunk a bit at this, and when he next spoke it was with an air of awkwardness. "I should have known something like this would happen if we displayed the meteorites – it was a harmless dig originally, and we just happened to come across them, but we could not turn down the opportunity. I never thought it would turn out like this, but with something that rare and powerful…"

    "It's not your fault, you can't have known Team Rocket would try and steal them," Red said. Mark seemed to relax at this, and smiled uneasily at them.

    "Well, enjoy the trip to Mt Moon – walking back that way?"

    "Yes, should be really fun to walk all that way again," Blue grumbled, and Mark boomed with laughter as he edged towards the door. Leaf watched him go, the second friendly face to leave them so soon, and she found words bursting out of her mouth before she could stop them.

    "You should go see Brock!" She cried, and Mark looked stunned. "I just think… he seemed down before, and I think he feels a bit ignored after this whole incident." Mark's eyes widened at this, but then realisation washed over him and he frowned slightly at his feet.

    "Deoxys only wanted Casimer and I to go, I did feel bad about shunning Brock aside… maybe I will go see him, just to check on things." Leaf smiled at this, and when Mark grinned back it made her heart flutter.

    "We will have to see you again at some point!" She yelled as he walked out the door. "I… I… I need to pay you back for those tickets, even if I didn't end up going."

    "I'll hold you to that," Mark said laughing, and he followed in Janine's steps out of the PokemonCenter, leaving the three alone. Leaf watched her go with a smile on her face, but she realised after a few seconds that Red and Blue were watching her, struggling not to laugh.

    "What?" She asked innocently.

    "You, drooling over him!" Blue scoffed.

    "Could you have been more obvious?" Red snorted, and he and Blue began to giggle, nearly doubling over in their fits of laughter.

    "Jealous much?" Leaf said, giving her head held high.

    "No thanks, I'd rather go for Brock's Onix than you!" Red replied with a smirk, and Leaf scoffed and tossed her hair back. Her eyes suddenly landed on one of the posters, and she recognized it as the same one they had seen in Viridian – Casimer, sitting in a dark space and staring intently at the camera.

    "Whatever happened to him?" She said, and Red and Blue stopped laughing and turned.

    "I'm not sure, he just left while we were checking out," Blue said with a shrug.

    "It would have been nice to have actually spoken to him," Red mumbled, his joy fading away now.

    "Hey, I am sure you will meet him some day," Leaf said, trying to sound encouraging as they made their way to the exit.

    "Yeah, on the day I become Champion," Blue smirked.

    "In your dreams! You'll have to get past me first if you ever want to have that title!" Red retorted, beaming brightly. Leaf smiled as she walked in step behind them, pleased to see that the two seemed to have reached a truce for now – there was no mention of them making up, but all signs of animosity had completely faded away, but Leaf's mind kept going back to Janine…

    "Off are you?" Someone croaked from behind, and Leaf turned to see Madame was halfway into her limo, a suited chauffeur holding the door open for her, a bandage around his head. "Pity I missed the party before; I would have quite liked to give one of those Team Rocket pricks a good kick up the arse!"

    "Same here," Leaf said, chuckling, and Madame gave her a cheeky wink.

    "You've got some good spirit in ya girlie, reminds me of a younger, nicer me. I am going to want to see you around again – get those boys there to watch out for you, I don't want to lose my new favourite trainer!"

    "Please, I'll have to watch them!" Leaf replied, winking back, and Madame's cackle lingered in the air long after her door was closed, and Leaf waved enthusiastically as the limousine drove past.

    "Who is that old woman, you never actually introduced us," Blue asked indignantly as they followed the limo down the road, watching as it turned south towards Viridian.

    "She's a friend, hopefully one we will be seeing again some time," Leaf said, smiling broadly, the old woman's words circling inside her head.

    "You seemed to have made quite a few friends here," Red said. "Though what happened to Janine anyway; why did she leave?"

    "She said that she needed to train…," Leaf replied, but she could not hold her tongue any longer. "But… I think your fighting may have put her off," she added cautiously, turning to face the two boys in her life, and they stopped dead in their tracks.

    "Our fighting? Why would that have put her off?" Blue asked, looking distraught.

    "She kept looking at you when I asked why she was leaving; it is just a guess, but she is probably use to travelling alone and not having to deal with other people squabbling around her." Red and Blue's face sunk as they exchanged equal guilty looks, and Leaf sighed.

    "I made a mistake this morning… well, we all did. When I left PalletTown, I thought we would be travelling and working together. Instead, I had to go into my gym battle without the two people who, despite our pasts, I had figured would always be with me out here. But its not just you two, I should have tried harder to stop you going after Casimer, or I should have come with and made sure nothing bad happened.

    "I am not sure how to word this…" Leaf said, shaking her head, "but we are a team now, and we need to be thinking about each other. If we ever see Team Rocket again, we have to agree on what to do. We need to stick together, so no fighting, no matter what happens. I don't know what is waiting for us out there, but I came on this journey to see new things, not to have arguments and nearly get killed." Red and Blue both looked ashamed, but they simultaneously nodded at her before looking guiltily at the other.

    Leaf smiled grimly, and as they set off again, the two boys now talking in low, apologetic tones, she exchanged ashamed looks. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the Boulder badge she had received only a few hours ago; it sparkled in the sunlight that had burst through the clouds, and Leaf's beam brightened as she led the way towards Route 3, her eyes falling on the looming peaks ahead, hopeful for what the rest of her journey had to offer.

    ***

    "So… you have failed to retrieve the meteorites."

    "Yes sir."

    "I see…' Giovanni paused, mulling this over as he took a long sip of wine. "Yet you retrieved the spell book, did you not?"

    "Yes sir, we have that sir, right here if you want to –"

    "Oh no, I have seen it before, many years ago," Giovanni replied drolly, though he was grinning on the inside. "Very good, I am pleased that it is now back in my possession."

    "What about the meteorites sir? What do you want us to do about them?"

    "Oh, nothing, nothing, there were never really my concern," Giovanni replied, waving his hand at the image projected on his wall. "I thought it would have been handy to get hold of them and have Deoxys under our control, but it is not necessary; besides, Oak and the rest of those old fools will be wondering why I wanted it, so that shall make for a good distraction for the next few weeks."

    "But… but sir, you gave us orders to retrieve them; we lost many grunts and dozens of weapons because of this mission!"

    "You really shouldn't have pointed that out, now I know how much of a failure this was," Giovanni said, smirking into his glass so Archer could not see. "I want you to return to base and work on training the replacements for the soldiers you lost, the others can join Gideon at Mt Moon without you – oh, and leave the book with them, I don't want it getting lost on your return journey. Tell the others Gideon shall brief them when they meet him – it's his mission, one of his pet projects, nothing that really matters to me."

    "But sir, I can assure you I'd be a valuable –"

    "See you here tomorrow Archer," Giovanni interjected, and he pressed a button on his desk; the video call ended, and Archer's face disappeared from Giovanni's wall as the projector turned off. The Rocket boss stared at the space for a few moments, dwelling over his failings, but then he topped up his glass, smiling to himself; the meteorites had merely been a ruse, and hopefully it would be a few days before anyone took stock of the museum and saw what had really been taken. .

    "Here is to you Charlotte; may all your past mistakes lead to more successes in my future," he said to his empty office, and laughed as he drained the rich purple liquid in one long draught. It had been a successful mission, and Giovanni could not help but laugh as he imagined his enemies' reactions when they learnt the most powerful weapon in the entire world was now once again in his clutches.






    So end's the Pewter City trilogy so long after it started. I hope it was worth the wait, and I will do my best to get the next one up. Things were not as smooth in terms of development/personality as I would have liked, and I will greatly appreciate any constructive criticism around that, but I hope to expand on the seeds that have been lain over the next few chapters.

    ^^^^ The GalacticVerse Bibliography (Thanks to Blazaking for Banner) ^^^^

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