You're taking the standard Johto journey fic and really showing what potential the concept has :) Keep it up, love.
Teddy gets so jelouse how cute! Sottish Geodude XD.
“I trust the gym leader gave you no problems?”
“Are you kidding? All she had to fight with was a bunch of bugs. Even that Scyther didn’t stand a chance.”
“Excellent. Where is she now?”
“Don’t worry. I’m keeping a good eye on her.”
“I didn’t ask you that, Proton.”
Proton snorted. “I got her right here. You want to say hello or something? She hasn’t left my sight since we got her.”
“Make sure that it stays that way.”
“Whatever. You’re the boss.” Proton flipped his communicator shut, then looked down at the large lump on the ground in front of him and gave it a kick. It had started to wiggle.
“I’m a boy!”
Proton scowled. It seemed that the gag had come undone. “You won’t be for much longer if you don’t keep quiet.” he hissed. In one fluid motion, he slid the knife Archer had given him out of its sheath and pressed it against his captive’s crotch. “Maybe I should cut off that pretty hair too, while I’m at it. Then no one would be able to tell what you were, you little freak.”
His captive squirmed. “You won’t get away with this.”
“Big words, little girl.” Proton lazily dragged the tip of his knife up his captive’s cheek. “You’re really not in any position to be making any threats.”
“When the other gym leaders find out about this – !“
Proton laughed. “Let them! If they’re all as weak as you, taking over this pathetic region will be a piece of cake.” He toyed with his knife again, examining it carefully. He then shot his hand out, grabbing a nearby Slowpoke by the tail and dragging it over. He knelt down and placed the edge of his knife at the base of the pokémon’s tail. By this time, the Slowpoke had realized what was going on, and was struggling to try and get away. Proton held it firmly in place, slowly pushing his blade through the tail. The pokémon squirmed, but its efforts were futile, and Proton’s blade soon clicked against the stone under it. He tossed the Slowpoke aside, holding up the still-bleeding tail. He smirked down at his captive, then raised the tip of the Slowpoke’s tail and licked off the sweet fluid that made Slowpoketails so popular before sinking his teeth in and tearing off a bite. He chewed for a moment, then tossed the tail down in front of his captive’s face. “Since your gag is off, do you want a bite?”
Kris wasn’t entirely sure this was a smart idea.
Sure, she was headed toward Union Cave anyway, and this kid no longer had any pokémon to protect him. Once he got to the Pokémon Center she’d been told was near the entrance to the cave, she could drop him off with his big sister, but the problem was getting there in the first place.
A smart idea, escorting a kid through a route full of vicious wild pokémon? Perhaps not. But a good idea? Kris was sure of that. This kid was stranded all alone in Violet City, and he had just lost his best friend and only protection to a Rattata on this very route. She couldn’t leave him all alone, not after she saw him crying this morning. “Stay close to me, kid. I’ll get you there safely.”
The kid clasped her arm and nodded silently, hiding behind her. “Th-this is the place where Ratter…”
“I know. It’s okay, I’ll make sure nothing hurts you.”
“B-but that’s the Rattata!”
Teddy growled and leaped in front of Kris, letting out an Ember as he did. A fairly large Rattata squeaked and stumbled backwards, but quickly regained itself and glared up at Teddy. Its fangs were stained red, and Kris quickly hid the boy completely behind her before he could see that it was feasting on half of the corpse of another Rattata.
“Any trespassers who disturb my meal get turned into meals themselves!” the Rattata warned, whiskers twitching. “Lucky me that you come pre-cooked!”
“Goodness, how could you?” Cotton scolded from her perch atop Kris’ head. “You brute! You killed this boy’s Rattata!”
“And I’ll make sure you never do it again.” Teddy growled, flaring up.
The Rattata merely twitched his whiskers again. “A brute, am I? I’m just trying to survive, same as any other pokémon. The human has rotted your mind and turned you against your true nature. You’re no better than one of them!”
“Enough!” Kris hurled a pokeball through the air, catching the Rattata off-guard when it bounced off his head. The ball thrashed wildly for a moment, but finally settled down. A bright, digitized glow formed on the ball’s surface before, with a tiny blip, it was automatically transported to her PC account. She closed her eyes for a moment, then quickly took the boy’s trembling arm and pulled him away.
The boy was silent for the rest of the route, safe for the occasional sniffle. Kris didn’t know what to say to him, but she kept a firm grip on his hand in an effort to reassure him. They made it to the center without any further issues, and a girl ran out to meet him, crying happily. The boy ran up to her and buried his head in her waist as he clung to her. “Oh thank you, thank you!” the girl said, holding the boy securely. “When I heard that Eddy’s Rattata died…”
Kris shook her head. “Don’t mention it.” she said slowly. “I did what anyone would have done.”
“Still, thank you.” she said. “I worry so much about Eddy, I’m so glad that he’s safe, especially with that shady salesman hanging around.”
The girl nodded. “Yes, inside. I’m not sure exactly what he’s selling, but I don’t trust the look of him.”
Kris nodded. “I’ll keep an eye out for him.”
The girl smiled, releasing a Noctowl from a pokeball. “Come on, Eddy. Let’s go home.”
Eddy nodded silently and climbed onto the back of the Noctowl, his sister climbing on behind him. “Thank you so much again. But I’m sorry – I never got your name.”
“Kris, huh? I’ll be sure to remember that.” the girl said, smiling. She patted her Noctowl’s side gently. “All right, Morpheus, take us home.” The giant owl hooted softly, then took off, leaving Kris standing with Teddy and Cotton outside the pokémon center.
Cotton clutched onto Kris’ hat as the pair took off. “Oh goodness me, I’m so happy that little Eddy is back with his sister.”
“I’m glad that Rattata won’t be able to hurt any more pokémon.” Teddy said, lowering his head. “You think that other Rattata was –“
“Let’s not think about it.” Kris interrupted. “Come on – let’s head inside. We should rest for a bit before going into the cave.”
“Oh goodness, let’s, please.”
Teddy followed Kris into the center, and she immediately found herself facing a tall man dressed all in black. He was grinning widely, but there was something unnatural about it – it almost seemed too wide, and too gleaming white. “Hey there! How would you like to try a delicious Slowpoketail? All yours for just one million Poke!”
Kris stepped back, frowning. “A million Poke? That’s ridiculous! Who would ever pay that much for something to eat?”
The man’s grin instantly faded, and Kris took another step back. Without his grin, the man’s face contorted into something wholly different than what it had been. She could see the anger seething just beneath his face, and he turned away from her. “Damn, I thought kids these days were loaded…” he muttered as he walked away.
Kris snorted softly as she recalled Teddy and Cotton. “What a creep.” she muttered as she handed her pokeballs to Nurse Joy.
Two hours later saw her emerging from Union Cave, blinking in the bright sunlight. “Ugh…I hate caves. I’m so glad I bought a Repel before coming here…”
“If ya hate caves s’much, then why’d ya come in ta Dark Cave an’ catch me?”
“Seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Walter sighed and Teddy shook his head. “You’re weird, Kris.”
“You wouldn’t be the first to tell me that. Hey – who’s that guy?”
A man dressed all in black, much like the salesman in the pokémon center, stood in front of what looked like an old well. This man, however, had a large red R on his shirt, unlike the salesman. In front of him was a path that led into what had to be Azalea Town.
“Dunno…but he looks weird.” Teddy said.
“Well, we gotta go past him anyway. So, I think that – “
“Hey, you!” the man suddenly barked. “Stay away from this well! It’s dangerous and unsafe!”
Kris stopped in her tracks and blinked. “Um…but I wasn’t going to go into the well at all.”
The man snorted. “Yeah, well, this well’s as much of a tourist attraction as this place has. Lotta people do go down it. But there was a collapse the other day, so I’m keeping people away.”
“Oh! So that R must stand for repair!”
“Sure, kid. That’s it.”
“Well, thanks for the warning, mister repairman!” Kris said, smiling. “Come on Teddy, Walter. We didn’t see any pokémon in the cave, so let’s explore the town.”
“I dinnae see much t’ explore, lass.” Walter said as they walked into the town proper. “Th’ place looks almost deserted.”
Teddy pressed himself against Kris’ leg. “I don’t like this place, Kris…”
“It’s just a small town, guys.” Kris assured them. “Not much different from New Bark Town. Though you’d think a town with a gym in it would be a little less off the beaten path…” she muttered, looking around as well. She sighed, kicking up some dust at her feet. “Oh well. Should we go scout out the gym?”
Kris scooped Walter up in her arms so that they could move faster and began to wander. It didn’t take her long to find the gym – it was easily the biggest building in town, double the size of any other. But as Teddy’s ears pricked forward, Kris saw something wrong. Two men were standing outside the gym, one of them yelling furiously at yet another man dressed in all black. “I wonder what the commotion is?”
“Best t’stay away, lassie.” Walter muttered. “Men fightin’ ain’t no place fer th’ likes o’ us.”
“But we need to go to the gym…”
“I’ll figure out what’s wrong!” Teddy said. He quickly bounded forward, racing for the entrance.
The man in black noticed Teddy first. Kris was close enough to see his eyes light up for a split second, but the yelling man interrupted him as Kris, having returned Walter to his ball, chased Teddy down. “And I swear, if I ever get my hands on that boss of yours, I’ll – !”
“Um…is something wrong with the gym?”
The yelling man stopped in his tracks and turned to Kris, sputtering as his cries tripped over themselves with their sudden stop. “Something wrong? I would say so! Team Rocket has taken all the Slowpoke, that’s what’s wrong! And Bugsy hasn’t been back to town for days!”
“I’m telling you, I don’t know where the gym leader – “
“The gym is broken, right? It needs to be repaired?” Kris interrupted, pointing at the man’s shirt. “I saw another repairman dressed just like you standing outside a well. He said that there had been a collapse, so he was keeping people away.” Kris tilted her head, wandering slowly back around to look at the rest of the gym. “It doesn’t look like there was a collapse here, though…”
“It was internal!” the man in black spouted. “Some of the, ah, internal beams aren’t exactly up to par, so I’m just keeping challengers away from the gym while my, um, crew works on fixing the damage.”
“Tauros dung!” the other man bellowed. “There’s not a thing wrong with this gym’s infrastructure! I should know, I helped build it! Are you seriously telling me you’ve never heard of Team Rocket, kid?”
Kris blanched. “Um…”
“I’ll tell you who they are! Bunch of low-down gangsters, that’s what! Pokémon thieves! And they’ve stolen all our Slowpoke!” He spat at the man in black’s feet, then turned on his heel to face Kris. “You! You said you saw another one standing outside a well? Come with me! I’ll show ‘em old Kurt won’t take this lying down, no sir!” He began to march off, and Teddy gave a small growl.
“He’s a bossy man.”
“Well?” Kurt called over his shoulder. “Are you coming?”
Kris heard the man in black behind her give a derivative snort. “Crazy, nosy old man…”
Kris shifted on her feet, then took off after the old man, Teddy only a beat behind. When she finally caught up with him, he cracked his knuckles and turned around again, heading back towards the entrance to town. “Good. You’re a smart kid.”
“Who are you?”
“Who, me?” The man laughed, sounding much less angry than he had before. “Sorry. We’re not used to having tourists come around. My name’s Kurt. I make pokeballs the old fashioned way – by carving out Apricorns.”
“Um, I’m Kris. I’m a trainer from New Bark Town. And this is Teddy.” she said, gesturing down to her pokémon.
“New Bark Town, eh?” Kurt said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “You mean you’re right on the border of Kanto and you don’t know about Team Rocket?”
“Well…news travels really slowly to New Bark Town. Most people take the MagLev train if they want to come to Johto.”
Kurt laughed again. “Good point.”
“Are they really gangsters?”
“Oh, the worst kind, kid.” Kurt assured her. “Pokémon are just weapons to them. They hurt them, steal them, and will do anything for power. Three years ago, they nearly took over Silph Co. They were supposed to have disbanded…guess some of ‘em didn’t get the memo.”
Teddy jumped into Kris’ arms, shivering, and Kris held him tight. Her . “S-so the Slowpoketail that guy tried to sell us…”
Kurt frowned, steeling his eyes forward. “Yeah, kid. That was probably an actual tail they cut off of some poor Slowpoke.”
Teddy shuddered and Kris’ cheeks took on a pale green hue. She swallowed hard, forcing the bile back down her throat, and gripped Teddy even tighter. “But…why would anyone – ?”
“I told you, kid. They’re the worst kind of gangsters.” Kurt said shortly. He kept walking, eyes set forward as if to distract himself from the unpleasant thought. “Slowpoke are real important to us, here in Azalea Town.” he finally explained. “Legend has it that, four hundred years ago, there was a real bad drought. Crops failed, people starved…it was awful. Everyone was praying for rain. Then, out of nowhere, someone finds a Slowpoke sitting on that exact spot where the well is now. No one knew how it got there. But when it yawned, clouds finally gathered and rain came to the people. They rejoiced, and in memory, built a well on the spot where the Slowpoke sat.“
Kris nodded slowly, unsure of what to say. Did it matter that Slowpoke were particularly sacred to this town? Either way, pokémon were getting hurt, and now they were going to save them. She gave Teddy another squeeze as the entrance to town came into view. The man in black, the Team Rocket member, was still standing there.
On seeing the man, Kurt took off charging for him again. “Hey, you there! Get away from that well, you punk!” The rocket, seeing Kurt, swore loudly and scurried down the ladder behind him. Kurt quickly followed, but in his haste, his foot slipped off of one of the wet rungs of the ladder. With a flail of his arms, Kurt tumbled backward down into the well.
Teddy raced forward towards the well, Kris arriving only a beat behind him. She quickly returned Teddy to his ball and started down the ladder herself, gripping the sides fiercely so she didn’t slip as well.
Kurt lay at the base of the ladder, swearing loudly. “My back!”
“We’ve got to get you back up – “
“No time…” Kurt grumbled, trying to sit up and rubbing his back. “You go chase after those Team Rocket scumbags in my place. I’ll be all right.”
Kris bit her lip. “B-but you’re hurt!”
“The Slowpoke are hurtin’ even more, kid.” Kurt growled. He dragged himself over and supported himself against a wall. “I’ll be all right.”
“A-are you – ?”
Kris jumped, then scrambled backward. She quickly turned around and hurried deeper into the dank tunnel. “Ugh…I can’t see anything…Teddy, would you light your fire?” she asked, calling him back out. Teddy flared up almost immediately, lighting up the path before them, but growled at something just beyond his glow.
“There you are.” a voice spat. “You’re that kid who came chargin’ in here with that crazy old koot. Well, now you’re gonna pay!” The Rocket grunt stepped forward, his face eerily lit by Teddy’s fire, and held up a pokéball. “I’m gonna do to you what we’re doin’ to those Slowpoke!”
Kris scowled. “Teddy,” she said in a low voice, “use Ember. And keep using it.”
A few mooks later, Kris slowly approached what appeared to be the end of the tunnel. Teddy’s flames were getting a little lower, but he stopped short once he saw what lay at the end of the tunnel.
A man stood, a shadow against shadows, with a dripping blade raised in his hand. He deftly put his foot under a small lump at his foot and kicked it away. It rolled towards Kris and into Teddy’s light, and Kris gasped in horror. It was a Slowpoke, its tail freshly cut off. The stump was bleeding gruesomely, and the pokémon slowly raised its head to look at Teddy and Kris. She could only stand, frozen into silence.
Teddy snarled and leapt over the Slowpoke. Without a signal from Kris, he charged at the man, eyes blazing as bright as his freshly kindled flames. “You’ll pay for this!”
The man turned his head to look at Teddy, and his face was briefly underlit by Teddy’s fire, but one more swift kick sent Teddy flying off to the side. He yelped and flew back at Kris, ramming into the stone wall of the cave before slumping down.
“Do you know why I like this knife so much, little girl?” Kris froze – when had he gotten so close to her? He held up his knife, glinting in the faint fire still given off by Teddy. “It’s because no matter how much blood I spill, the blade is never stained by it.”
Kris gulped, her hands trembled, her head pounded. A scream pressed up against her throat, trying to escape, but she couldn’t even move. She could barely make out Teddy struggling and failing to get to his feet a few feet away, and suddenly there he was. The man had slunk behind her, put his face right beside her ear, and spoke with a smooth, silky calm.
“Do you have any idea how liberating that is, girl?” he asked, grinning. “To be able to possess something so beautiful that will never be tarnished? Look, girl, the blade is already red.” He thrust the knife in front of her face and Kris couldn’t help but flinch. Sure enough, the blade gleamed with the fresh blood of the Slowpoke at her feet, but she could only see the wet shine, and not the blood.
The man smiled again and pulled the knife away. “Are you familiar with Seviper, girl?” he asked. “Ah, I don’t expect you are. They’re marvelous pokémon, native to a region far away from here. They know what power and elegance truly are, for their whole bodies are designed for one purpose. Can you guess what it is, girl? Surely you are not quite as slow as the pathetic excuses for pokémon in this mud hole.” He kicked the Slowpoke at their feet once again, and lowered his voice to a hiss.
“Did you think you were smart, girl, to figure out Team Rocket’s plans? Did you think you were brave to come here alone and rescue the gym leader?” Something cold and sharp pressed against Kris’ cheek, and she squeezed her eyes shut. One twitch, and she was as good as dead. “It’s a shame that such a pretty little face hid such a misguided mind. But ignorant children must be taught a lesson. If they are going to meddle in the affairs of adults…” He trailed off, pressing the blade harder against Kris’ cheek. “They will be punished like one.”
“Get away from her…!”
The man stumbled aside as Teddy rammed into him, flames blazing hotter and higher than ever. His eyes glowed like coals as he growled and spat flames at him, scorching the rock of the cave whenever the man dodged out of the way. Kris slumped to the ground, trembling as she watched her beloved Teddy rip into the man with his teeth and claws, twisting and darting out of the way whenever that horrible knife flashed out to strike back at him. “N-no…Teddy, stop! Stop it!”
Teddy hesitated for only an instant, but it was all the man needed. He howled in pain as the man’s knife slashed open his head and backed away. Blood matted and dripped from his fur, around his eyes, and his paws left small prints of it on the floor as he slunk back, glaring at the man. His eyes glinted, but whether with blood or rage, Kris couldn’t tell. He braced himself as the man stared him down, then opened his mouth.
The man’s eyes widened and he whipped a pokéball off of his belt. He hurled it down at the ground just as Teddy unleashed a burst of flame straight at his face. The explosion rocked the whole cave, sending a rain of dust and rocks down from the ceiling. When Kris found the courage to peek out from under her arms, the man had disappeared, and Walter and Cotton were out of their balls, standing between her and Teddy.
“Easy now, lad…jes’ take it easy…”
Teddy snarled back at Walter, an awful, guttural, feral noise that Kris never would have dreamed her sweet little Teddy could make. His eyes were bright and crazed, and Kris realized with a lump in her throat that he didn’t even recognize her, or the others.
“Ay, Florence.” she heard Ramón whisper above her head – they must have come out too. “There’s another señorita here, tied up behind the rocks. Help me get her free, will ya?” The birds fluttered off, but the noise startled Teddy, who immediately launched another stream of fire at them. They quickly dodged it and Teddy’s flame struck a huge mound of Slowpoketails. Blood that had been oozing onto the floor ignited and the stench of charred flesh filled the cave, and faster than Kris had ever thought possible, Walter was on top of Teddy, pinning him to the ground.
Teddy writhed and struggled under Walter’s grip, but couldn’t move. He snarled viciously again at Cotton when she floated down in front of him. “Oh g-goodness, Teddy, p-please stop. Y-you’re scaring Kris, g-goodness yes.”
Slowly, Teddy’s struggles began to stop. His eyes cleared, and he seemed dazed. “Wh-what?” he asked groggily as Walter released him. “What did I…?” His speech trailed off as he looked around, and he shrank back as he saw the scorching of the rocks, the bonfire of severed tails, and Kris trembling on her knees a few feet away. He jumped when he saw the blood on his paws, and began to tremble when he realized that the blood dripping down in front of him was his own. “I…I did all this? Oh no…no, it can’t be…” He gently padded over towards Kris, a pleading look in his eyes. “K-Kris…?”
Kris couldn’t help it. She flinched away from Teddy and whimpered softly, clutching her trembling arms as tears streamed down her face. “H-home…” she sobbed. “I w-want to go home…!”
Teddy froze, pain creeping into his eyes and spreading through his face with the blood. He slowly lowered his head and turned his back to her, slinking into the darkest corner he could find.
There was a noise nearby, but Kris didn’t care. She couldn’t care. Someone was coming, and something else was moving closer by. Ramón and Florence fluttered back over to Walter and Cotton, who were looking between themselves, Kris, and Teddy with growing concern.
“Ya did it, Kris!” someone whooped joyously. “I knew you – !”
“Kurt! You brought her down here?” another voice sharply demanded.
“Wha? Bugsy! You’re okay!”
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” the second voice snapped. “Look at her! That Rocket nearly killed her!”
“B-but Bugsy, she’s not much younger than you! And she’s a trainer – “
“She’s obviously a rookie, Kurt!”
“I-I fell down the well and hurt my back…”
“So you sent a rookie trainer to come face down a high-ranking Rocket admin alone? I can’t believe you! I bet you just charged down here in a rage and dragged her along for being unlucky enough to be in your way, but even I didn’t think you’d go so far as to endanger a kid’s life!”
The Slowpoke that had been at Kris’ feet walked between the two voices and lay down. It opened its mouth in a wide yawn and, incredibly, mist began to form on the roof of the cave. The other mutilated Slowpokes also opened their mouths to yawn, causing more and more mist to build. Slowly, drops began to form on the rocks until they fell in a gentle rain.
Kurt paused, his shame hanging almost perceptibly in the air. Kris was a trembling wreck, sobbing and sniffling on the ground as her pokémon, except for Teddy, all gathered nervously around her, close enough to try and offer some kind of comfort, but far enough away that she wouldn’t try to shy back. Teddy’s flames sputtered out, but he didn’t even seem to notice. “I…”
“Help me get her back out into town.” the second voice said. “You can apologize to her when she’s in a fit state to be apologized to.”
“Get her pokémon. I’ll help her up. What’s her name?”
“Kris, huh?” The owner of the voice stepped closer to Kris and knelt down, and her pokémon parted respectfully. “Kris? My name is Bugsy. I’m the gym leader here in Azalea Town.”
“Kris, we’re gonna get out of this well, all right?”
Still no response.
Bugsy slowly reached up to put a hand on Kris’ shoulder. She flinched, but otherwise didn’t move. “I’m going to help you get up, all right? You need to stand up. Can you do that for me, Kris?”
Finally, Kris nodded. Bugsy wrapped an arm around her and gently helped her to her feet. She leaned heavily on him, but Bugsy supported her easily. She barely registered the feeling of her pokéballs being taken off her belt or the sound of her pokémon being recalled, as Bugsy slowly led her to the shaft of light streaming in from the surface.
She wasn’t sure how she managed to climb the ladder, or how she ended up back at Azalea Town’s Pokémon Center. But somehow, she managed to sleep, and she awoke in a bed of pure white sheets, and saw the morning sun peeking in her window. A row of five pokéballs were lined up neatly on her nightstand, but the egg the Professor Elm had given her was nowhere to be seen. She curled up in her sheets, holding them tight against her as the memory of the previous afternoon pricked at the back of her eyes again. The tears dropped slower than before, staining the sheets as she hid her throbbing head from the glowing morning. “I want to go home…”
“I don’t blame you.”
Kris blinked, clearing the tears causing her vision to swim, and saw standing at the doorway to her room. His head was hung low, and Kris could see tear spots on his shirt as well. Someone else stood beside him, someone who looked only a little older than Kris herself. In their arms, they held a tiny white pokémon that had the same pattern as the egg Kris had carried on its body.
“He’s yours.” the other person said, holding it up so Kris could get a better look. “I don’t know how his egg survived your encounter in the well, but he hatched soon after we brought you here.”
Kris rubbed her head, trying to remember where she had heard this voice before. Someone from the well? The little pokémon trilled happily as he was set on the bed, but Kris pulled away from it slightly.
Kris looked up at Kurt, who stepped forward with his head bent low. “I’m…real sorry about putting you in danger like that. I shouldn’t’ve dragged you off down there like I did…”
Kris dropped her gaze and bit her lip. “I…I was just trying – “
“Trying to help?”
Kris looked back up. The other person had come and sat on her bed, and was smiling at her. They had a few bandages on their hands and face, but Kris couldn’t place who exactly they were.
“It’s okay if you don’t remember my name.” they said, pausing to play with the small pokémon they had put there. “You were in shock. I’m – “
“Bugsy…the gym leader. Right?”
“So you did understand.” Bugsy said, smiling again. “Good, that’s good.”
“He is a boy.” Kurt interjected, causing Bugsy to throw a sharp glare at him. Kurt winced and stammered “J-just so you know. He gets really mad about that.”
“I don’t understand why people think I’m a girl…” Bugsy muttered.
“Hm? Yes, Kris?”
“I…want to go home.”
Bugsy sighed softly. “Kris…what happened in the well wasn’t your fault.”
“But Teddy – “
“Your Quilava was just trying to protect you.” Bugsy explained gently. “It’s in his nature to become…well, a little violent when threatened.”
Kris blanched. “You mean…every time there’s danger…he’ll go crazy again?”
“Go crazy?” Kurt asked, and Bugsy shook his head.
“I don’t think he necessarily went crazy, Kris…”
“No…you didn’t see his eyes.” Kris said, holding her knees up to her chest and squeezing them tightly. “He didn’t recognize me. My sweet little Teddy…”
Something touched Kris’ leg. It was the little pokémon that had hatched from her egg, and it was looking up at her sadly. It hugged her leg, and Kris felt a tiny flicker of happiness.
“Do you know what kind of pokémon this is?”
“He’s a Togepi.” Bugsy explained. “They store happiness inside their shells and spread it to those around them when they are sad. He’s still a baby, so he doesn’t have much happiness stored up,” he explained, patting the Togepi on the head gently, “but if he’s treated with kindness, then I’m sure he’ll grow up to be a fine pokémon.” He stood up as Kurt left the room. “Kris…what you did back at the well was very dangerous, and very foolish. But it also shows me something very important about you.”
Kris snorted and buried her head in her knees. “What? That I’m a stupid rookie?”
“That you have a kind heart, and a brave one too. Kris,” he explained, “being a pokémon trainer isn’t all fun and games. It can be dangerous. After all, pokémon are wild animals, and the recent surge in attacks on people only put that fact into perspective. But that doesn’t mean we have to be afraid of them, or that they can’t become our friends. When your Quilava – “
“When Teddy didn’t recognize you, your other pokémon stepped up and got between you and him, didn’t they?”
“They did. Even if Teddy wasn’t in his usual state of mind, your other pokémon still wanted to protect you. Just like Teddy did.”
Kris closed her eyes and took a deep breath. He was right. Walter and Cotton and Florence and Ramón had tried to calm Teddy down when she hadn’t been able to. And Teddy…he had gotten hurt because of her. The look on his face when Kris backed away from him had etched itself into her mind, and she hugged her legs tighter to her chest. “Teddy…I hurt him…”
“You can apologize to him yourself, if you want.”
Kris’ head shot up. Kurt had returned, carrying Teddy in his arms. His face and head were bandaged, but his eyes still gleamed when he saw Kris. Kurt set him on the bed as Bugsy took the Togepi and stood up again, and Teddy stared at her for a moment. Fear shone in his eyes, and he cautiously stepped towards her. “Kris? You’re not…scared of me…are you?”
Fresh tears sprung from Kris’ eyes as she lunged forward and pulled Teddy into a fierce hug. “Of course not…oh Teddy, I’m so sorry. You risked your life for me, and I…”
Teddy happily nuzzled into Kris’ neck, and Kris could have sworn that she felt him crying too. “I was so afraid…you weren’t gonna want me anymore.”
“I promise, Teddy.” Kris said, sniffing and wiping her eyes. “I won’t ever be scared of you again.” She smiled at him and he put a paw over her heart. “And you will always be my partner.”
D'aww! That scene between Kris and Teddy made me wanna cry. ;__; Another wonderful chapter as always. ^^
I also had a laugh when I saw the "Tauros Dung" line. XD
This is my December, this is my time of the year...
Great story, keep up the excellent work! ^^
That was touching. Teddy reminds me of Ash's Infernape, having all that power stored up and to let it out all at once.
I'm really enjoying this, (and I'm not the only one) keep it up :D
You made Proton scarier than my version of him. :p and you're even using some of the same elements and lines that I used (I noticed the mud-whole and punishment bits :p)
But, teasing aside, I'm really proud of how you ended this chapter. Once again, you've proven your true writing prowess :) I'm very, very proud.
Actually it's kind of funny I hadn't realized that it was a Nuzlocke fic until the third chapter xD so that just makes me sadder when I realize that Teddy has had a lot of problems lately so he might be the first to go :( I guess that'll be up to you though now wouldn't it.
That being said I like how you add a lot of emotions into your chapters, most people tend to turn towards comedy when they do Nuzlocke challenges but the last chapter was really good...maybe even angsty. Also I might've caught a Dark Knight reference with Proton or maybe it was intentional :)
Can't really say much your grammar and description are good and Kris as well as the Pokemon have been getting more depth so that means that you're doing good so far.
Hey everyone, I have a small announcement to make.
This quarter, I'm currently working on my senior thesis for my Creative Writing degree. I am also working on my senior thesis for my History degree, as well as completing my last quarter of Spanish (a subject I am admittedly very bad at). I simply haven't had the time, energy, or ideas to write for this story - my thesis story has not been going well at all (four weeks of trying to write and I had less than 5 pages to show for it), and I only decided tonight to scrap my current story and start from scratch with a new one.
I am not abandoning this fic. But lately, I have had neither the time nor the creativity to write this story, when so much of my concentration needs to be on another. I'm sorry to anyone who is disappointed by this, but I need to take a hiatus for this story. Ryuu can tell you how much of a strain this thesis has been on my mental state, and while I didn't want to use that as an excuse, I'm afraid I must this time.
Heart of Crystal will begin updating again in late March or early April. Thank you everyone for your kind words and your patience with my infrequent uploads - I promise, I won't let you all down.
I understand Feli. School's more important.
This is my December, this is my time of the year...
I'm back! Wow, it's been ages. I'm happy to report that my Creative Writing thesis is complete (in terms of minimum required pages anyway...heh ^_^;; ) and I received good grades on both my Creative Writing and History ones. I am also finally completely done with Spanish, which is an amazing feeling. I had a bit of a schedule slip at the end of the quarter, which is why this chapter wasn't up last week, but everything is fixed now, and I will be graduating from college at the end of the year with two bachelor's degrees!
Now that I'm not working quite so intensely on other projects (though I am still taking 4 classes this quarter), I hope to update this story much more frequently. Chapters will likely be shorter for a while, but I promise I've got a nice long chapter here to welcome everyone back to the story. On that note, let's get on with it!
Special shout out to @Octy for being one of my most consistent and supportive readers, as well as just a generally awesome person
“What do you think she’s talking about in there?”
“She’s probably telling the Professor that she wants to go back home…”
“Oh goodness, really?”
“No way, man. Ain’t no way she can just give up on us.”
“Why not, Ramón?” Florence asked, ruffling his feathers indignantly. “After that incident with that ruffian down in the well, I’m not surprised she would want to go back home.”
“But she can’t!” Cotton burst out, wringing her leaves between her small hands. “Oh goodness, after how far she’s come, it would be horrible if she were to give up!”
“Pray, lass, how far has she come?” Walter asked, crossing his arms. “True, I don’ wan’ t’stop adventurin’ with her any more than th’ rest of ya – “
“Then why you takin’ this so calmly, man?” Ramón interrupted. “You want to go back to sittin’ in your cave in the dark?”
“If ye’d let me finish, I’d explain.” Walter grumbled, lazily tossing a small pebble in Ramón’s direction. “I’d bet a Rattata’s ass that if we keep travelin’, we’ll be runnin’ into those Rockets again. An’ next time, th’ lass might nae be so lucky.”
“But how’s the chica ever gonna get stronger if she always plays it safe?” Ramón shot back.
“We got out of there with luck, not strength.” Florence snapped.
“Oh, but Florence, we did get out! And if she’s careful from now on…”
“I’m surprised at ya, Cotton. I’d’ve thought you of all of us’d be the first to take off fer home.”
Teddy’s shout caused everyone to jump. He stepped forward into the middle of the group and sat down, looking at all of them. “I…we shouldn’t be fighting.” he said softly. “It’s my fault that Kris got scared of me…because I evolved.”
The rest of the pokémon fell silent, and Cotton continued to wring her leaves in her hands. “Oh, goodness, Teddy…she forgave you, though.”
Teddy nodded. “Right. So…we shouldn’t be fighting. If she starts to doubt us – me – again, then she might not be so forgiving.”
Ramón and Florence glanced guiltily at each other, and Walter closed his eyes and crossed his arms. After a moment, he let out a small sigh. “I s’pose yer right.” he admitted as Cotton smiled and settled on Teddy’s unlit head. “Still, I’m not fond o’ th’ idea o’ runnin’ into those Rocket cun-grunts, again.”
“I think we can all agree that it would be preferable to stay out of their way.” Florence agreed, throwing Walter a sharp glare. “But we must wait for Kris’ decision.”
Cotton and Ramón nodded, and Cotton looked down at Teddy’s scar. “Oh my goodness, Teddy, this looks like a horrible scar. Maybe the nurse should look at it more?”
“I think she’s done all she can for it, Cotton.”
Kris smiled as she came back into the room. In her arms, she carried a Slowpoke with a bandaged stump over her tail. “This is Julia.” she announced, setting her down on the floor. “She wants to join our team.”
Julia nodded slowly and smiled shyly at the group, and Cotton immediately squeaked. “Oh goodness, Kris, does this mean that you’re not gonna go home after all?”
Kris shook her head as Walter, Florence, and Ramón approached Julia and greeted her. “No…that wouldn’t be fair to you guys.”
“That’s the spirit, chica!”
“But what about those Team Rocket brutes?”
Kris shifted her weight and plunged her hands into her pockets. “Well…yeah…they were pretty scary.” she admitted. “But we just gotta stay away from them from now on, and let the adults handle things.”
Walter nodded and crossed his arms as Teddy went to greet Julia as well. “All right, lass, if ye think yer up to it.” He swung up onto the bed and looked back up at Kris. “So, shall we be on our way? An’ what’re ye gonna do with the little one?”
“That’s what I came to tell you all.” Kris said, smiling. “I showed Abe – the Togepi – to Professor Elm over the video phone, since he wanted to know what that egg would hatch into. But I’m giving him to Kurt’s granddaughter. I saw the two playing together, and…well, I just couldn’t separate them. I think he’ll be happier here with her, anyway.” She twisted a corner of the blanket in her hand as a sad, faraway smile flicked onto her face. It lasted only a moment before she turned back to her team. “But the Professor said he wanted to give me something as thanks for showing him what was in the egg. He’s sending Mr. Lowe, so we’re gonna be staying in town for a few days.”
“Ah, vacation!” Ramón chirped happily.
“Not exactly, Ramón.” Kris chuckled, pulling Teddy onto her lap. “Bugsy offered to train with me. For the next time we’re in a tight spot, he said.”
“Hmph. Hopefully we’ll never be in another spot quite as tight as that.” Florence ruffled his feathers again and settled on Julia’s back. “But it is very nice to meet you, my dear.” he told her, smiling as much as he could with a beak. “Though I must ask – why do you wish to join our team?”
“She saved us. She made the bad humans go away.” Julia answered slowly. “Those rockets came and hurt me, and my friends and family. But Kris made them leave.”
“Ah, well, I wouldnae say that, lass…”
“You were the Slowpoke that man kicked over to us, aren’t you?” Teddy interrupted.
Julia nodded again. “Slowpoke are slow, but not stupid. We don’t leave the well because we like the wet, and our only real light is what comes in from above. Before, only good things come from above – people who like us. But when the rockets came and started to hurt us, we thought that nothing good would come from above anymore. When Kris showed up and made them leave, we knew she was good. I wanted to go with her.”
Kris blushed, but Teddy smiled and Cotton flew over to settle on her head. “Oh goodness, Kris is very good, goodness yes. She has been good to us, and I like traveling with her.”
Julia smiled again, but they were interrupted by a knock on the open door. Kris jumped to her feet and nearly sent Teddy sprawling on the floor. “B-Bugsy!”
“Hey, Kris. Ready for training?”
Kris gulped. How long had Bugsy been standing there? And more importantly, what had he heard? “Y-yeah. Just a minute – I’ll meet you outside.”
Bugsy glanced over Teddy and the others, then nodded at Kris. “All right. Be down in five minutes, okay?”
Kris sighed and collapsed back onto the bed. “I really hope he didn’t hear me talking to you guys…”
“Bugsy is good too.” Julia said bluntly. “If he heard, he will not tell anyone who would hurt you.”
“Besides, chica,” Ramón said, fluttering around her head, “if any cabrón does try anything, we’ll make sure he don’t get too far. Now come on! We got some trainin’ to do!”
Kris grunted into the pillow. “I don’t think I want to know what cabrón means.” she muttered, hauling herself up off the bed. “All right, all right. I suppose it’d be bad to keep him waiting.”
Archer sat once more in his large leather chair. The hinges gave nary a squeak as he leaned back, looking out the window that stood behind his desk and thoughtfully swirling the wine in his glass. He heard a creak behind him, and knew that his appointment had arrived. “I’m rather disappointed in you, Proton.”
“Save it.” Proton snapped. “I made the money you asked for. I didn’t think it was worth it to stay there and let my face get clawed off by the little bitch’s crazy fire ferret.”
Archer swiveled around in his chair and set his glass down without a word. Proton glanced at it and Archer leaned forward, resting his chin on his interlaced hands. “Tell me about this girl.”
Proton snorted dismissively. “Just some small-town hick.” he said. “Nothin’ special about her.”
“Surely you managed to get her name.”
Proton hesitated a moment. “She wasn’t exactly there to shake my hand and become pen pals.” he finally said. “But I think I heard the gym leader call her Kris. At any rate,” he shrugged, “I left that crazy ferret with a nice reminder of me. We’ll know her by that.” He grinned, flashing his sharp teeth. “She called the thing Teddy.”
Archer sat motionless in his chair for a few moments, just long enough for even Proton to begin to squirm. Finally, he lifted himself out of his chair. “Your service has indeed raised the funds we require.” He said simply. “You may leave now, Proton.”
Proton scowled, but turned on his heel and left the office in a huff. Archer calmly sat back down, taking his wine back in his hand and returning to his view. “So, this girl Kris has a Quilava.” he muttered to himself. “Interesting…”
Kris lay stretched out on the grass beside the pokémon center, basking in the first warm rays of spring. The recent cold snap had finally broken, and Kris closed her eyes and tucked her hands behind her head. Cotton rested there, soaking up the warmth with her trainer, though her leaves drooped and she was uncharacteristically quiet. Kris eyed the small badge on the inside lapel of her jacket, removing a hand from behind her head to run a finger over it thoughtfully. “Bugsy,” she called as the gym leader emerged from the trees of Ilex Forest, “are you sure it’s okay for me to have this?”
Bugsy chuckled and walked up to her, slinging his net over his back. “Kris, you’ve got a fire type, a rock type, and three flying types. I train bugs. The only pokémon my team might stand a chance against is Cotton, there. Besides,” he added, sitting down beside her, “you’ve trained hard the past few days. It’s my badge to dispense to those who earn it, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to beat me in a battle.”
“I suppose.” Kris muttered. “I just don’t feel like I’ve done anything all that extraordinary to earn it.”
“You don’t call being able to talk to your pokémon extraordinary?”
Kris bolted upright, Cotton nearly tumbling off her head in shock. “Wh-what?” Her hands shook and she clenched the grass, and she did her best to give a good-natured laugh. “D-don’t be ridiculous! People can’t talk to pokémon!”
“Kris, if you’re going to insist on keeping it a secret, you really shouldn’t do it in front of witnesses.” Bugsy said with a small smile, putting his hand on Kris’ shoulder. “You talked to Teddy after you woke up – both Kurt and I know.”
Kris blanched, but tried to keep her smile. “W-well, don’t all trainers talk to their pokémon?”
“Not like they’re responding to their pokémon talking back.”
Cotton poked at Kris’ head sadly. “Oh goodness, it’s no use. He knows. Oh goodness, what are we going to do?”
Kris sighed, drooping. “Please don’t tell anyone!” she begged.
“Don’t worry – neither Kurt or I have told anyone.” Bugsy assured her. “Though I’m surprised it’s not common knowledge by now. Just this morning I received word from Falkner telling me I might receive a challenger who might be able to talk to pokémon, and he said he has confirmed that the Elder of Sprout Tower encountered such a trainer nearly a week ago.”
Kris blushed, ducking her head and covering her face. Cotton’s leaves drooped again and she gave Kris a sympathetic pat. “But…I thought I was being so careful…how could they…?”
“You must be more careful.” Bugsy chided. “If you can understand your pokémon, that’s one thing, but you must not respond to them – do you understand?”
“Does that mean I can’t talk to them at all?”
“Of course not. But you can’t act as though you’re having conversations with them and responding to specific things they say.” Bugsy let out a small sigh, then dug around in his net, fishing out a pokéball. “Here. This is for you.”
Kris tilted her head curiously. “For me?”
“If you’re going to get through Ilex Forest, you’re going to need something that knows Cut. At the moment, the only pokémon you have that can learn it is Teddy.” Bugsy explained, gesturing to the front of the pokémon center. There, Teddy was curled up happily beside Flora, who had now evolved into a Bayleef. The pair were watching Mr. Lowe furiously scribble notes while Kurt’s granddaughter played with the Togepi Kris had given to her. Cotton stubbornly refused to look at Teddy. “Cut generally isn’t a move people want to teach their starters when they get them, so I caught you a Weedle. With a little raising, he became a fine Beedrill,” Bugsy said happily with a wide grin, “and he can cut down everything in his path.”
Kris accepted the pokéball slowly, her grin matching Bugsy’s. “Oh wow – thank you, Bugsy!”
“You should decide which pokémon you’re going to deposit in your PC and head out before it gets too dark.” Bugsy advised. “Ilex Forest doesn’t take too long to get through, but you don’t want to be caught in there at nightfall.”
Kris nodded, pocketing the pokéball carefully. “I’ll be careful. Come on, Cotton,” she said, hauling herself to her feet. “I think Ramón will be going in the box for a while. He’s been really obnoxious lately.”
“Oh goodness, don’t tell him that’s the reason.”
Kris chuckled softly as she entered the center. Moments later, Ramón’s pokéball had safely been sent back to Professor Elm’s for some ‘vacation time’ and Kris once again walked outside. Cotton had asked to go back into her ball, much to Kris’ confusion, but she figured that Cotton had simply had enough sun for now. “Mr. Lowe!” she called out, waving as she approached them. “Have you figured out everything you wanted?”
Mr. Lowe smiled and nodded, giving the Togepi one last pat on the head. “Yes, I have. The Professor will be quite pleased – Togepi is a very rare pokémon. I have no idea how Mr. Pokémon managed to get his hands on an egg! But Kelly here has said we can come back and visit whenever we want, so I’m sure we’ll get a lot more data!”
“That’s great!.” Kris said before walking over to Teddy and Flora. “All right, Teddy. Bugsy says we have to get going if we want to get through Ilex Forest before dark, so you’ve got to say goodbye now.” She hoped that didn’t sound too much like a conversation starter; she had just promised to be more careful, and it wouldn’t do to let her secret slip to Professor Elm’s assistant, of all people.
Teddy and Flora frowned, and Flora touched Teddy’s scar with her nose. “Are you sure you’re going to be all right?” she asked Teddy gently.
“It doesn’t hurt anymore.” Teddy assured her, standing on his hind legs to nuzzle her cheek. “You said the Professor told the aide it wasn’t my ability?”
“He said that he thinks your natural instincts took over.” Flora said, giving a small frown. “At least you were protecting someone…”
Teddy shook his head. “It won’t happen again.” he promised.
Flora smiled. “Good.” She stood up slowly, the leaves on her neck giving off a pleasantly spicy scent, as Mr. Lowe walked over to them with her ball. “I suppose this is goodbye for now, then.”
“I suppose so.”
“Kris, the Professor had something he wanted to give you.” Mr. Lowe said, tapping her on the shoulder. “In thanks for showing us the Togepi.” In his outstretched hand, he held what looked to Kris like a smooth, plain stone.
“Ah, I see you can’t recognize this.” Mr. Lowe chuckled. “This is an everstone. If there’s ever a time where you don’t want your pokémon to evolve, just give them this to hold.” Teddy’s ears perked up curiously, and Kris slipped the stone into her bag.
“Thanks, Mr. Lowe. Thank the Professor for me, too.”
“It’s no trouble at – “
Mr. Lowe was suddenly interrupted by a loud crash, and Kelly hid behind Mr. Lowe, hugging her Togepi tight to her chest. Kris and Teddy both jumped, glancing around for the source of the commotion.
“I tell ya, I don’t know who yer lookin’ for!” A large, brawny man with huge muscles stormed out of a building near the east edge of town, a Farfetch’d squawking and fluttering behind him. His body gleamed with sweat and heat, and Kris realized that he must be the man who ran the charcoal kiln.
In front of him, a smaller person, covered in soot, shook himself off. “How could you not know who drove them out?” he shouted. “You imbecile! Don’t you know what’s going on in your own town?”
Kris clenched her teeth, and beside her, Teddy began to growl. Flora jumped, started by Teddy’s reaction. “Silver!”
Silver turned his head when he heard his name, and Kris could see his eyes narrow when he spotted her. “You? What’s a weakling like you doing here?” he demanded, marching up to her.
“Kris, do you know this person?” Mr. Lowe asked quietly.
Kris snorted. “You want your pokémon thief, Mr. Lowe? Here he is.”
“I told you, I earned that pokémon.” Silver growled, gripping one of the balls at his waist. Kris could see that there were more of them than there had been back in Cherrygrove – he must have caught some pokémon since then.
“What’s going on here?” Bugsy asked, storming out of the pokémon center. “What’s all the noise?”
“Tell me something.” Silver said, voice suddenly low and ice-cold. It sent a shiver down Kris’ spine, and Teddy pressed against her leg. “Is it true that Team Rocket has returned?”
The question threw Kris for a minute and she tightened her fists, unsure how to answer. “Yes, it’s true.” she said cautiously.
“I don’t know what you want with them, but they’re not here anymore.” Bugsy said, also reaching for his pokéballs. “Kris here made sure of that.”
“What? You beat them?” Silver snarled, eyes blazing. Kris flinched; she had never seen anyone so angry before. “Quit lying!”
“It’s not a lie!” Kris protested, silently wondering whether or not she could really take the credit. After all, Teddy had attacked the admin, and Bugsy and Kurt had done all the real work.
Silver’s face twisted into a scowl. “You’re not joking?”
“Does this look like a comedy club?”
“Then let’s see how good you are!” Faster than Kris expected, he flung a pokéball off of his belt and hurled it toward her. Bugsy and Mr. Lowe jumped back, and Mr. Lowe quickly ushered Kelly back into the pokémon center. Bugsy, however, watched both trainers intently.
Cotton flew out of her ball, ready to intercept whatever pokémon Silver had thrown out. She looked around, confused. “What? Where is it?”
A thin purple mist slowly began to form around her, and Silver gave the tiniest sliver of a grin. Kris shuddered; somehow, that smile was more frightening than anything he’d ever done. “You’re honestly going to try and battle me using that pink piece of fluff? How pathetic. Use Lick.
Something clicked in Kris’ mind. “It’s a Gastly! Get out of there, Cotton, and use Stun Spore!”
A pair of giant eyes suddenly appeared out of the fog, causing Cotton to shriek and release her spores. A long tongue appeared below the eyes, smacking Cotton away as the Gastly took a more cohesive form. Kris scowled, reaching for Cotton’s pokéball. “Get back here, Cotton! Florence! It’s your turn!”
“Get one more Lick in, Gastly.”
Cotton’s spores had taken effect. The Gastly was too slow to reach Cotton before she could be called back into her ball. Florence flew bravely toward the Gastly, ignoring its tongue. “You’ll have to do better than that, you ruffian!”
“Use Gust, Florence!”
Florence beat his wings furiously, driving a small whirlwind at the Gastly. Though it tried to get out of the way, Cotton’s spores had fully taken effect, and it couldn’t move. The whirlwind struck it perfectly, scattering the purple mist that made up its body. Kris could see that the Gastly was barely managing to hold itself together. “One more Gust, Florence!”
“What are you doing? Use Hypnosis, now.”
Too late, the Gastly broke free from its paralysis. Florence’s attack scattered what was left of the mist, and Silver grudgingly called his Gastly back. “You got lucky.”
“Cotton, get out there again.” Kris said, ignoring him as she called Florence back.
“Again with the pink fluff? Fine then. Zubat, get going.”
Cotton watched anxiously as Silver’s Zubat circled her, but Kris managed to keep cool. “Wait for it…”
Silver crossed his arms. “I know that thing is too weak to actually use any attacks. Zubat, have a snack.”
Zubat screeched, diving down towards Cotton with its fangs outstretched. At the last moment, Kris yelled “Cotton! Stun Spore!”
Cotton’s spores exploded into the Zubat’s mouth just as it was about to sink its fangs into her. With a screech, it was only able to clamp down on one of her leaves and flapped away. Its movements were stiff and jerky, and Kris smirked. “Direct hit! Now, Walter, get out there!”
Silver was visibly seething. “Zubat, use Bite again. Quickly this time!”
Life before, Zubat was too slow to attack Cotton before she could be recalled. Zubat screeched again as it bit down on Walter’s tough hide; though Walter was barely fazed, the attack looked like it had hurt the Zubat quite a bit. A quick Rock Throw from Walter sent Zubat back to its ball, and Silver was looking none too thrilled.
“Had enough?” Kris asked as she sent Cotton out again. “Surrender now and I’ll let you off easy so Bugsy can haul you in for pokémon theft in one piece!”
Silver squeezed his last pokéball so hard Kris was genuinely afraid he would break it in his hand. His hair covered his eyes and his hand was trembling. “Don’t…you…dare…don’t you dare pity me!” he screamed, lashing his arm out and hurling his ball at Kris. As it opened, Kris’ heart sank a couple notches. Instead of the Totodile she expected to see, this pokémon was much larger. Gone was any pretense of cuteness; instead, the Croconaw before her roared in agreement with its master, flexing its huge claws and showing off the formidable-looking teeth in its massive jaw. “I don’t need anyone’s pity! Especially not a weakling like you!”
Behind her, Kris heard Flora gasp. “Toto! Is that you?” She felt Teddy begin to shrink back against her leg, intimidated by his old rival, but she could also feel his determination not to seem weak. She wondered for a split second if he were trying to seem tough for Flora, but shook her head. She didn’t have time to be thinking about that.
“Well well well,” Toto taunted upon seeing Teddy, “look at you, hiding behind your trainer like the coward you always were. Are you really going to let this puffball fight in your place?” He narrowed his eyes, then split his giant jaw into a grin. “And what’s this? I thought you were too scared to evolve, wimp.”
“What?” Kris muttered, glancing down at Teddy. He had finally shrunk back, as if Toto had found the exact words that would sting him most harshly.
“I thought you were afraid of the power you could have.” Toto jeered. “Afraid that your strength would be too savage!” His jaws gaped wide as he laughed. “What a hypocrite! I see someone still managed to leave their mark on you! I’d like to meet them.” he added with a grin. “A shame it wasn’t me.”
“Leave him alone, Toto!” Flora shouted.
“Haw. Isn’t that just like you.” Toto grunted. “Always hiding behind someone else and lettin’ them fight your battles. You really are weak – hey!”
Kris gasped – Cotton had fluttered up right in front of Toto’s face, blocking his view of Teddy. “Goodness, what bad manners, oh gracious.” She was visibly trembling, but amazingly, held her ground. “Goodness, didn’t your mother ever teach you manners? You’re battling me, goodness yes.”
Toto lunged forward, jaws open. Cotton floated out of the way and his jaws snapped shut, barely missing her leaves. Kris glanced down and saw Teddy’s mouth agape, and she couldn’t blame him. She’d never seen Cotton act so boldly. “Cotton,” she called out, “use Poison Powder!”
“Leer, Croconaw.” Silver commanded coolly.
Croconaw stepped back and narrowed his eyes at Cotton. “You’ve got guts, puffball.” he growled. “Who would’ve thought?”
“Goodness, that almost sounded like a compliment.” Cotton ruffled her leaves, sending a cloud of spores into the air. They settled around Toto, and his scales gained a sickly, pale color.
“Don’t let him hit you, Cotton! Use Flash!”
“Flash?” Silver exclaimed as Croconaw leapt for Cotton. His sudden snarl startled her badly, and the flash of light produced by her leaves didn’t reach his eyes. She lay crumpled on the ground, her leaves too battered to float anymore. “You’re actually using Flash? How pathetic are you? Use Rage again, Croconaw!”
“Cotton, once more! Try Flash!”
Croconaw slammed into Cotton again, but this time, he made the mistake of looking at Cotton’s leaves as he did so. He roared in pain as they blinded him and stumbled back, clutching his face. “You’ll pay for that, puffball!” he growled, leaping forward with his claws outstretched.
A blue blur raced out onto the field, and Cotton shrieked as Toto’s claws raked down its side. Teddy stood, back arched, flames blazing in front of Cotton, his lips curled back in a snarl. Toto’s Scratch attack had re-opened his scar, and blood trickled down his face as he glared up at the Croconaw. His grow was low, but there was no mistaking the resolve in his voice. “Leave her alone.”
Toto grinned savagely. “Well, look who’s finally come out to play.”
Kris bit her lip as she anxiously recalled Cotton. She was grateful that Cotton hadn’t gotten hurt, but that was dangerous! “Teddy, use Smokescreen and get out of there!”
“You think we’ll fall for that old trick again? Use Water Gun, Croconaw.”
Toto opened his mouth wide and let out a stream of water, but Teddy disappeared, leaving a cloud of smoke behind him. It was a thick, dense cloud, and quickly surrounded Toto, who growled in frustration.
“Croconaw, don’t miss this time.”
Toto furiously let another jet of water loose into the smoke, but it hit only empty ground. He roared in frustration, panting heavily. The poison from Cotton’s spores was wearing him down. Teddy’s eyes shined out from within the smoke.
“What’s the matter, Toto? Can’t see me?”
“Croconaw, did you think I was joking?” Silver hissed. “I said don’t miss.”
Teddy lunged toward Toto and slammed into his side, but Toto was waiting. Before Teddy could escape back into the smoke, he launched another Water Gun attack, hitting Teddy squarely in the face. Flora gasped in horror as Teddy was pushed back. He stumbled to his feet, fur dripping from the water, and hurled himself at Toto once again.
Cotton had done her work. Toto was too weak to withstand another Tackle. He crumpled to the ground as Teddy slammed into him one last time and the smoke dissipated from the field. “I fight my own battles, Toto.” he growled, pushing his face close so he was looking the Croconaw square in the eye. “I don’t have any reason to be afraid anymore.”
“Hmph. Useless pokémon.” Silver muttered as he called Toto back. “Listen, you only won because my pokémon were weak.” he snapped at Kris.
“Didn’t look like that to me.” Kris shot back. “I ought to turn you in to – “
“Silver…is it?” Bugsy suddenly interrupted.
Silver jumped, and Kris guessed he had forgotten the gym leader was there. “What do you want?”
“Kris is accusing you of stealing a pokémon.” Bugsy continued calmly.
“He did! He stole that Croconaw from Professor Elm’s lab when it was still a Totodile!” Kris blurted out.
“I have every right to my Croconaw!” Silver snapped. “And no one can say otherwise!”
“Why were you asking about Team Rocket before the battle?” Bugsy cut in again, stepping between the arguing trainers. “What concern are they to you?”
Silver huffed, turning his head away. For a moment, Kris thought he wasn’t going to answer, but he finally crossed his arms. “I hate the weak.” he said simply. “Pokémon, trainers, it doesn’t matter who or what.” He turned back to Bugsy and stared at him, and Kris could see a flicker of determination in his eyes. “I’m going to be strong and wipe out the weak. That goes for Team Rocket, too.”
Bugsy frowned. “This is the first time I’ve heard anyone describe Team Rocket as weak.”
“They act big and tough in a group,” Silver snapped, “but get them alone, and they’re weak. I hate them all.”
Kris heard the doors to the pokémon center open and close behind her, and she knew that Mr. Lowe had reappeared. “I’ve called the police – they’ll be here to arrest you shortly, you hoodlum!” he said. “I hope you’re ashamed of yourself! Stealing that innocent Totodile!”
Bugsy shook his head. “That pokémon has already bonded to him.” he said under his breath. “It won’t do any good to take it away from him now.”
“That’s right.” Silver said, pushing past Bugsy to stand in front of Kris. Teddy growled again, but he merely locked eyes with her. “You stay out of my way.” he ordered. “A weakling like you is only a distraction.”
Kris matched his gaze with her own. “How can you call me weak when I just beat you?”
Silver scowled and pushed past her. “If you’re so eager to turn me in, you’ll have to catch me first.” He started towards Ilex Forest, as calmly as if he were simply out for a walk.
Mr. Lowe was stunned. “What? B-but – hey! Get back here! Bayleef, use Vine Whip!”
“Let him go, Mr. Lowe.” Bugsy said, an edge of sadness creeping into his voice. “He’ll be gone before the police can get here anyway.”
Kris watched, seething, as Silver disappeared into the trees. “How can we just let him go like that?” she demanded.
Bugsy sighed. “Thank you for coming to Azalea Town, Mr. Lowe.” he said as the scientist grumbled and recalled Flora to her pokéball. He shoved it into the pocket of his lab coat and stormed out of town, heading back east toward Union Cave. “He had such potential…” he muttered once Mr. Lowe was out of earshot. “It’s a shame he’s so angry and desperate…”
“That’s why you let him go? You felt sorry for him?”
“Don’t you?” Bugsy asked. “He reminds me quite a bit of your Teddy.”
“That jerk is nothing like Teddy!” Kris protested.
“Think, Kris.” Bugsy said calmly. “He obviously has some personal vendetta against Team Rocket. Something must have happened to him in the past – something he felt he wasn’t strong enough to prevent. Maybe he had pokémon before and they were all stolen, or perhaps a friend or family member was assaulted. Either way,” he said, shoving his hands into his pockets and looking into the forest, “he’s got a purpose to fight for. But he’s come to value strength above all else, and that’s not how pokémon are meant to be used. He’s becoming no better than Team Rocket.”
Kris slowly gathered Teddy up in her arms. His scar wasn’t bleeding anymore, and he nuzzled her gently. “Do you think he’s right?” she whispered.
“I don’t know, Kris.” Teddy whispered back. “But can you promise me something?”
Teddy closed his eyes and pressed his face in the crook of her neck. When he spoke, his voice shook with the tiniest tremble. “Don’t ever be like him.”
That was great! Cotton stood up for herself. A great bonding chapter. I'm glad these are finally back!