Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (7)
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    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar Moderator
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    Wink Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (7)

    Hello,

    Thank you for opening this thread. This is the first installment of my three-part Pocket Monsters Trilogy, and I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read my story.

    I've worked hard on it, but obviously, I'm not a professional-level writer. So, I'd like to hear any constructive criticism, suggestions or thoughts that you may have as you read so that I can try to become the best writer I can be.

    I truly appreciate your input, and cherish all of you as friends.

    Thanks once again,

    Legacy




    Table of Contents

    1. The Announcement
    2. The Blessing
    3. The Decision
    4. The Emergency
    5. The Surgeon and the Reporter
    6. The First Battle
    7. The Inventor
    Last edited by Legacy; 20th March 2012 at 01:56 AM.

    Coming Soon...

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    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (1)

    A/N: Here is Chapter 1. For those who have read the beta version of "Pocket Monsters," this first chapter is similar, but the story will drastically change from here. Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think. :)





    1. The Announcement



    This world that we live in is quite simply, a wondrous place.

    A place like no other in the universe. It is a place that we humans have called home for thousands of years and a place we share with the countless species of amazing creatures that roam the land, air and sea around us.

    Boasting a vast array of amazing abilities, these non-human beings are examples of the wonders and complexities of nature, their powers embodying the core elements that make up this beautiful planet of ours. The strength and tenacity of rock, the gracefulness and nourishment of grass, the purity and freshness of rushing water, the power and speed of lightning...

    And just as we humans are a diverse species – with each individual person possessing a totally unique personality to go with an equally unique set of talents, strengths, and weaknesses – these creatures too represent this diversity.

    Of course, all of you know these extraordinary creatures by their common, human-coined nickname... Pocket Monsters... or Pokémon for short.

    But many of us forget that Pocket Monsters didn't always exist... well, at least the name didn't.

    For thousands of years, humans and monsters, as they were called simply at that time, roamed the planet together as complete equals, both races respecting the other's right to freedom and sharing the planet in perfect harmony. The relationship between people and monsters back then was very different than it is today.

    It wasn't until many centuries had passed and human technology had begun to advance that our world would be changed forever by the invention of one, ground-breaking little device:

    The pokéball, as it is now known throughout the world today, was invented decades ago, and has subsequently changed our world's order by giving humans a very controversial position over their counterparts. The incredible technology behind the pokéball basically allowed a person to capture a monster inside the pocket-sized metal orb.

    Thus the name, “Pocket Monsters” was born, and the shorter nickname “Pokémon”originated years later.

    But I certainly don't have to tell you all what a pokéball does. Everyone in this room knows that it is an extraordinary contraption that implements scientific and technological theories beyond the common person's comprehension, and that it allows a person to essentially claim physical and mental ownership of a monster.

    It was this revolution that shaped how humans and monsters interact in today's world. In the pre-pokéball era, a person could not simply catch a monster by means beyond catching a fish or trapping a rodent. Friendships that existed between humans and monsters were genuine and innocent, and not aided by technology.

    Fortunately, many people today do uphold their ancient predecessors' attitude regarding the creatures, which was to treat them with respect and care. Additionally, as you have probably learned in school, our lawmakers long ago installed laws about the fair treatment of Pokémon, almost immediately after the inception of the pokéball.

    Today, many people capture cute, friendly varieties to befriend and keep as loving pets. The unique relationships that Pokémon are capable of sharing with humans, as well as the playful and loving demeanor of many species, make these amazing creatures ideal house pets…even family members.

    And of course, the reason you all are here today... Pokémon battling, easily the most popular sport in the world and the most glamorous and visible of all the human-monster relationships.

    Every person in this room undoubtedly understands the popularity of battling in our country and across the world. Capturing, raising and training monsters to participate in epic battles of strength, will and strategy has become a multibillion dollar industry world-wide, and with all the professional leagues as well as youth, high school, and collegiate competition, the sport's popularity is growing by the day.

    Again, that undoubtedly is the reason you have all been attending these classes all summer. As we have been saying each week, despite the fact that training and battling Pokémon can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience for those who succeed, our country has very strict laws and regulations in place in order to ensure the safety and well-being of all Pokémon who participate in battle under a trainer's guidance.

    No matter the relationship between a human owner and his or her Pokémon, each and every one of you are bound by law to treat yours with respect and care.

    The letter of the law states that monsters are not to be used as tools for financial gain or fame against their will, their abilities are not to be used as weapons to settle personal differences, and above all, as trainers, no matter what level of competition you all ultimately reach, you are obligated to treat your Pokémon responsibly and with care, as if they were a member of your own family.

    Remember, these beautiful and wondrous creatures possess amazing powers that we humans simply do not. All too often, I think our race takes for granted just how extraordinary they are. I urge you all to resist this tendency and remember... Pocket Monsters truly are amazing creatures that deserve reverence and respect.

    Now... with that, I congratulate you all! You have completed your annual certification classes and are now fully certified for Pokémon trainer-ship for the next year! I'm sure I'll see many of you once the school year begins! Good luck to you all!


    ...

    As desk chairs all across the large, florescently-lit class room began to screech across the tile floor and the eruption of voices began, fourteen-year-old Milo Youngblood abruptly awoke from where his head had been resting on the smooth desk top.

    Milo blinked the sleep from his amber-colored eyes and wiped away a dribble of drool trying to escape from his mouth. He sat up and ran his fingers through his black hair. And once his eyes had focused, he remembered where he was:

    Viridian Academy, the prep school Milo would be attending in the fall as a first-year student and site of the summer Pokémon trainer certification classes required for any student hoping to try out for the school's battle team.

    “Thank god, that's over!” said a sturdy blue-eyed boy with short blonde hair seated snugly in the desk next to Milo. “That lecture was so fucking boring... worse than school!”

    Milo chuckled at the familiar brashness of his best friend, Andy Greenway, as he stood up from his desk chair. But Milo didn't say anything as he packed up his notebooks and pen, which he hadn't even bothered to open or uncap.

    More a formality than actually informative or interesting, the weekly, summer long clases certainly weren't fun for many of the teenagers, but were a necessary evil every year for those who wished to be trainers for the school's team. As first year students, Milo and Andy had been excited to attend initially, but learned very quickly of the monotony of class lectures.

    “I mean, seriously. Think about how much of our summer we wasted being cooped up in this damn classroom every week!” Andy, the ever-boisterous one, continued on, still slouching at his desk.

    “The class is required,” Milo reminded his friend as he stood up from his seat and shouldered his backpack. “And it's over now, anyway. Besides, it was only once a week. It wasn't so bad.”

    “Easy for you to say. You just napped the whole time,” Andy replied with a laugh. “I don't get it. I didn't think you even wanted to try out. Why would you wanna suffer through this every week if you aren't even gonna try to make the team?”

    “I still might try out. I still got a few weeks left to decide. Mom's just been on my ass to get up and out of the house... she wants me to 'get involved' now that I'm gonna be in high school.” Milo rolled his eyes as he spoke about his mother's nagging.

    “Damn it, Milo!” Andy screeched in loose, high-pitched imitation of the voice of Milo's mother. “You don't do anything but sit in your bedroom and play those stupid video games all day!”

    Both boys laughed at the Andy's over-dramatic, fun-loving impression as they finished packing their things and prepared to leave to enjoy the last few weeks of summer vacation before they would have to return for the school year.

    “So what's the plan for tonight, Lo?” Andy asked as he maneuvered his body out of the desk and stood. “We gonna watch the game at your place or mine?”

    “Doesn't matter. I guess–”

    “Game? What game?” a bold female voice from behind where the two boys were standing suddenly interrupted before Milo could fully respond.

    Milo and Andy turned and were surprised to see a spindly, freckle-faced girl with carrot-orange hair standing casually before them. Her hands were on her hips, and she smiled at the boys like she had known them all her life.

    Both of them looked at the skinny girl with blank stares. They recognized her wildly frizzy orange hair from class, but they had never spoken to her and were slightly taken aback by the way she had butted into their conversation so randomly.

    “What game are you guys talking about?” the girl repeated, apparently not the least bit aware that most normal conversations between strangers usually started off with words like, 'Hello,' or 'Hi, nice to meet you.'

    “Are you serious?!” Andy finally demanded in his familiar less-than-delicate tone of voice when the absurdity of the question had finally registered with him. “What, were you born under a fucking rock?”

    “What?” she asked, looking confused at the boy's reaction.

    “The KPL Final is tonight, Greenburgh versus Golden Valley,” Milo said in a gentler tone than his friend, although he was also completely stunned that the girl wasn't aware of the Kanto Pokémon League, easily the most popular professional battling league in the world, and its championship match later that night.

    “Oh,” the girl said, sounding unimpressed. “I'm just not much of a sports fan, I guess.”

    Although he didn't say so out loud, Milo would have been able to guess that this girl wasn't a sports fan from a mile away. She had an incredibly homely and bookwormish appearance. Her dingy gray knee-length skirt and oversized faded-blue sweater didn't exactly reflect the latest in teen fashion, and something about her told him that she was more of a studious type of person than someone who followed what was going on in popular culture.

    “So, you mean the name, 'Hugo Bowers,' doesn't mean anything to you then?” Andy asked, still looking amazed.

    “Uh... Bowers? I think I've heard the name somewhere before, but no... sorry, who is he?”

    “Come on! You can't be serious. You've never heard of Hugo Bowers, captain of the Greenburgh Lightning, the best trainer in the entire league?”

    After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Andy just threw his hands up in utter disbelief and stormed out of the classroom.

    “What fucking planet are you from?” he muttered loudly as he headed out the door.

    Milo gave the girl an apologetic look as he stood alone with her in the classroom. But after a few awkwardly silent moments, not knowing what else to do, Milo simply forced a weak smile and walked out of the room as well.

    “What the hell was up with that girl?!” Andy crowed as soon as Milo had caught up to him in the locker-lined hallway of Viridian Academy's first floor.

    Despite the fact that school wouldn't be in session for another few weeks, there was a fair amount of hustle and bustle in the hallways following the lecture. There would be a lot of students trying out for the team it seemed.

    “I mean, it's one thing to not follow battling. But, seriously... how can you not have at least heard of Bowers? Everyone knows who Hugo Bowers is!”

    “Yeah, and why was she even in the class if she obviously doesn't follow battling?” Milo replied as the pair made their way towards the front doors at the end of the hall to leave. “Think she's trying out for the girls team?”

    “I don't know,” Andy said, shaking his head. “Who cares? Let's just get home. We've got a long-ass walk ahead of us. Is it okay if I come over to your place to watch the game?”

    “Why? My T.V. is tiny and your house is way nicer.”

    “Yeah, but there's no food at my house, and I don't think my parents will be home to cook anything.”

    “All right. Yeah, I'm sure my mom won't care. Lemme just give her a call and tell her to make a little extra for dinner.”

    “Tell her to make a lot extra.”

    Milo chuckled and reached into his jeans pockets for his cell phone, but they were empty.

    “Oh, crap, I must've forgotten my phone back in the classroom. Hold on. Be right back,” Milo groaned. He didn't know why, but he felt stressed and anxious standing amongst strangers away from the confines of his own bedroom and he didn't want to spend any more time in school than he had too.

    “Ugh, hurry up! We gotta get home for the game!”

    “Okay, I'm hurrying,” Milo shouted over his shoulder as he took off running down the hall. “I'll meet you – OOF!

    After he had made it only a few strides down the hall, Milo felt like he had run into a brick wall. Both feet flew up in the air, and he landed with a thud on the hard floor loud enough to attract the attention of the dozens of students that had been loitering in the hallway after class.

    At first, Milo felt embarrassed more than anything else as he lay sprawled out on the cold and dusty floor. What had he crashed into? What a way to make a first impression on his future classmates, he thought to himself. He felt everyone's eyes on him. This made him feel even more nervous than he normally was around strangers.

    Not knowing what else to do to salvage his dignity, Milo climbed slowly to his feet, trying his best to not let the throbbing pain he was feeling in his back show on his face. He resisted the urge to moan in agony and tried to play it cool as he brushed the dust off himself.

    “Hey, kid,” a deep voice spoke groggily from beside him on the floor. “Watch where you're going, will ya?”

    Milo looked down and saw instantly what he had run into. A large, strong-jawed older teen in a green and blue Viridian Academy letterman jacket slowly stood up and towered over Milo.

    “Oh, my... my bad,” Milo said nervously, not knowing whether or not he was about to be beaten up.

    “In a hurry for something?” the tall teen asked, rubbing his backside and looking annoyed but not overly hostile.

    “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!”

    Both boys looked over to see Andy rushing over to their side with a horrified look on his face. His blue eyes were wide as pokéballs as he ran up to them, huffing and puffing.

    “Holy shit, Milo! Watch where you're going!” Andy shouted before quickly turning his attention to the older teen whom Milo had crashed into. “Are you all right, Mr. Lucas? I'm sorry for my friend's carelessness. Let me help you pick up your things! Are you sure you're okay?”

    Andy, wiping the sweat from his sandy-colored bangs, looked a little like a star-struck schoolgirl as he addressed the older boy and feverishly tried to brush the dirt off of his jacket for him. Andy then fell to his knees and began crawling all around the floor to gather the teen's fallen belongings for him. Both Milo and the older boy looked more than puzzled.

    “Uh... thanks,” the boy said after Andy had returned all the items into his backpack for him. “I'll see you guys around.”

    With that, the teen took his bag from Andy and walked off down the hall, leaving the two younger boys to stand alone, with many bystanders now staring at both of them.

    “Let's fucking go!” an embarrassed Andy snarled as he picked up Milo's cell phone from the floor, which had apparently been in his backpack the whole time, and had fallen out upon impact. Andy handed the phone back to Milo, grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the exit.

    “What was that about?” Milo stopped and asked when they had escaped the small crowd gathered in that section of the hallway. He was still confused about his friend's strange actions. “You practically had your lips glued to that guy's ass back there. What's your deal?”

    “What's my deal?! My deal?! Do you know who you just ran over back there?”

    Milo didn't say anything. He didn't want to admit it, but he was already horrified about the embarrassing flop in front of his new schoolmates, and Andy wasn't helping him feel any better.

    “That guy's name was Johnny Lucas,” a female voice suddenly interrupted. “Captain of Viridian Academy's battle team... two-time all-region player of the year... led Viridian Academy to the conference championship last year... the list of awards go on and on.”

    The two teens looked over their shoulders and saw the frizzy orange-haired girl once again, leaning up casually against one of the lockers.

    “The creepy eavesdropping girl is right, Lo,” Andy said, too distraught to realize how insensitive he sounded. “Johnny is the king of this school and the captain of the team. And you almost broke his neck! There's no way we make the team now! We're destined to be losers before school even starts!”

    Milo rolled his eyes. Andy had the tendency to get very dramatic in times of very minor difficulty. He always thought his friend would make a perfect actor and might be better served trying out for the school play rather than the battle team.

    “I don't think you molesting Johnny and crawling all around his feet on the floor helped matters either, big guy,” Milo retorted with a slight chuckle.

    Deep down, however, Milo was a bit worried that what Andy had said was true. He was scared enough with the idea of attending a new school without the new prospect of alienating himself before the school year even started. But he didn't want Andy or the strange red-haired girl to know how nervous he really felt.

    “So, your name is Andy,” the girl said suddenly, gesturing towards the larger of the two boys. Her tone of voice made it sound like more of a statement than a question. “That much I got, but what's your name?”

    “Milo. Milo Youngblood,” he replied, actually a bit glad that the girl had changed the subject, despite how seemingly weird or awkward it seemed that she had forced her way into their conversation for a second time.

    “Youngblood? What an interesting surname.”

    “Yeah, I guess. What's your name?”

    The girl looked pleased to hear Milo ask. “I'm Isabella Cunningham. My mom calls me Izzy. I'm from right here in Viridian City. I'll be a first-year student here in the fall.”

    Despite the fact that Isabella seemed quirky and a little unorthodox with her people-skills, not to mention her appearance, Milo figured she was harmless. He smiled politely.

    “You guys look like first-years as well,” Izzy continued, returning the smile. “Where are you guys from?”

    “We're both from Oak Grove,” Milo said simply.

    “Oh, so just a few miles away. That's nice. Well, it'll be fun going to school together this year. Are you both trying out for the battling team?”

    “Of course,” Andy said, still sounding a bit unfriendly and impatient as he tried to inaudibly signal to Milo that they should ditch the girl and leave. “Why else would we be here during the summer?”

    “Oh, well I'm not trying out for the team... and I'm here, aren't I?”

    “Huh? Why?”

    “I just think the classes are interesting. I love learning about Pokémon, so it's been fun to listen to the lectures. What better way to spend a summer?” she said dreamily.

    “I can literally think of about a thousand ways,” Andy mumbled as he rolled his eyes again.

    “Are you guys good, then?” Izzy asked, apparently still oblivious to Andy's unfriendliness and desire to return home quickly. “Good trainers, I mean... if you're trying out for the team, do you think you'll make it?”

    “I'm pretty good, I guess... we'll see,” Andy said, giving the girl his full attention for the first time with the mention of battling. “I've been on Oak Grove's youth team for a few years, but battling is kind of lame until you get to high school... I mean, they won't even let you use or train your own monsters until you're fourteen. And the ones they gave us to battle with were lame. Last year, I had to go the entire season with a stupid Rattata.”

    “Oh, Rattata,” Izzy said dreamily, “People in our country think their just pests, but did you know that in a lot of other countries, Rattata meat is considered a delicacy. It's actually very delicious... or so I've read.”

    Both Milo and Andy took a subconscious step backward away from the girl and looked at one another with astonished expressions. They could both see, even though they hadn't known Izzy for more than ten minutes, that she was incredibly... different, to say the least.

    “That's very... interesting,” Andy replied, not knowing how else to respond.

    “Yes, but back to battling,” Izzy replied. “What about you Milo? You think you'll make the team?”

    Milo paused. He tried to think of something worthwhile to say. Even though he didn't see Izzy as someone who he desperately wanted to impress, he didn't want to tell her that he was only attending the summer certification at the insistence of his mother. But before he could come up with anything, his best friend spoke for him.

    “Milo's still deciding if he wants to try out for the team. He's a total newbie. Video games are more his thing. He can play those damn things for hours and hours. But his mom wants him to actually do something with his life now that he's in high school, so she made him come to these classes.”

    “Thanks,” Milo sarcastically as he glared at his friend.

    “Oh, well that was nice of your mom,” the girl chimed. “I think you should try out, Milo. You look like a very trustworthy guy. You have a really positive aura about you. I think you'd make a great trainer.”

    “Uh... thanks.”

    None of the three teens spoke for a few moments. The two boys were having a hard time figuring out Izzy's peculiar personality. She seemed to be all over the place in terms of her conversation and emotions.

    “Well, we'd really better be leaving now. We've got a long walk ahead of us,” Andy finally said. “Nice to meet you, Emmy.”

    “It's Izzy.”

    “Whatever, see ya.”

    “Bye, Izzy,” Milo called back over his shoulder as Andy quickly led him away and out the front doors of the school.

    “You think everyone at this school's gonna be that weird?” Andy said as soon as they stepped outside and began walking home. “She was insane! Ten bucks says she's gonna be the biggest loser in school. I hope no one saw us talking to her.”

    Milo didn't respond. He didn't want to talk about being the biggest loser in school. He agreed that Izzy was eccentric and nerdy, but then again, she hadn't crashed into the most popular jock in school and fallen flat on her face in front of a hallway full of classmates.

    “Who do you think's gonna win tonight?” Milo asked, trying his best to change the subject.

    “Greenburgh, easily,” Andy replied positively as the two began the long walk down the scenic, dirt roads towards neighboring Oak Grove. “Golden Valley has some good battlers, but Bowers is just unbeatable.”

    “Yeah, I think so too.”

    Hugo Bowers, the world-famous professional battler for the Greenburgh Lightning, was widely considered the most talented trainer in Kanto Pokémon League history and one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world because of his dark, handsome features and his superhero aura. He and his devastatingly powerful Arcanine had become iconic in the world of entertainment during their eleven-year professional careers.

    “Did you see on T.V. that he's going to make some big announcement at halftime?” Milo asked his friend as they took a short cut towards home through a barely worn path through the leafy green forest near Oak Grove's outskirts.

    “Yeah, they mentioned it on the news last night. I wonder what the big announcement is.”

    “You think he's going to announce his retirement or something?”

    “Oh god, I hope not. Why would he retire? He's the best freaking trainer in the world right now! And his team is about to win the championship again.”

    “Yeah, I don't know. Guess we're gonna find out, though.”

    “The game starts soon. We'd better haul ass,” Andy said, looking at his wrist watch.

    With that, the two friends took off in a full sprint towards their hometown. Milo, the faster of the two, laughing at his stockier friend who was lumbering along to keep up.

    By the time the duo had made its way from the bustling suburb of Viridian, cutting through the shallow woods to the nearby small farm town of Oak Grove, both Milo and Andy were exhausted and starving, but no less excited to watch the big match.

    The sun was setting in the distance, and the vast stretches of grass fields and flat farm land helped frame the sunset's beauty. When the boys finally approached Milo's home, a small blue, box-like farm house set by its lonesome off the dirt road amongst a patch of tall pine trees, their stomachs began to growl loudly from the wafting scent of Milo's mother's cooking that was already evident in the crisp evening air.

    Milo and Andy were greeted at the front door by excited barking sounds. Before Milo could even shut the rickety front door behind him, a small, furry creature came running across the small living room and launched itself into the air and into Milo's arms.

    “Hi, Fawkes,” Milo chuckled as his energetic baby Vulpix licked his face lovingly. “Glad to see you too, girl.”

    He carried the four-month-old family pet with him as he and Andy plopped down beside each other on the ragged brown couch, the only piece of furniture in the tiny carpeted sitting area. Fawkes curled herself up between the two of them as Milo eagerly clicked on the small television with the remote control and found the coverage of the KPL final.

    Milo could feel the adrenaline rushing through their veins. Only about five minutes until the start of the Kanto Pokémon League Championship match.

    “Hey boys, how was class?” a warm, female voice chimed from the kitchen, interrupting the excitement.

    “It sucked, Ms. Redding,” Andy called out without looking up from the T.V. “Sure am glad it's over.”

    Milo's mother, Cindy Redding, laughed at the boy's candor as she entered the living room carrying a large tray on her raised palm like a waitress. Even in the dimly lit living room, her shoulder-length, curly black hair could be seen as disheveled and her green apron was dusted with flour, obvious signs that she had been busy cooking.

    The aroma of her work quickly filled the small area, summoning the boys' full attention. Both Milo and Andy looked up and grinned widely when Milo's mother set down a large cheesy pizza in front of them on the old wooden coffee table.

    “Can't watch the game on the empty stomach,” she announced. “Just don't get sauce on the carpet.”

    “We won't,” Andy mumbled, his mouth already full with his first bite of hot pie.

    Both boys thanked Milo's mom for the food and ate eagerly until the male announcer's distinct voice on the television indicated that the match was finally going to begin.

    “... Greenburgh has won the coin toss, and will begin our match tonight. The Lightning will of course, lead off with legendary battler, Hugo Bowers, the regular season MVP, followed by their normal lineup of Daunte Whitworth, Nikola Dragic, Blake Williams and Rodney Jenkins.

    “The Golden Valley Warriors will counter with a lineup led by their all-star, Jordan Wagner. He will start off against Bowers and will be followed by Jefferson Jones, Lance Bagley, DeMario Hewitt and Melvin Weaver...”

    “Bowers and Arcanine are gonna take out all five of 'em!”
    Andy said enthusiastically after the lineups were announced and the competitors' photos flashed upon the screen for the millions of viewers to see.

    Milo chuckled, but didn't say anything to his exuberant friend as he stroked Fawkes' fur. He was too focused on the history that was about to unfold at spectacular Champions Stadium in Indigo City to discuss the match. In a few hours, there would be a new champion of Kanto. Would Hugo Bowers and the Greenburgh Lightning add to their decade-long legacy or would the underdog Golden Valley Warriors stage the biggest upset in years?

    Bowers would be Greenburgh's lead-off man, going up against the Warriors' Jordan Wagner. In KPL play, teams consisted of five trainers each, each wielding one single monster. Opposing trainers go head-to-head with one another, starting with each team's lead-off battler. Once a battler's one monster is defeated, he is then eliminated. The first team to defeat all five of its opponents' battlers is the winner.

    The Lightning had made it to the finals on the coat tails of Bowers, whom Milo had seen defeat all five of his opponents' members by himself in many matches during his career. He and Arcanine were unquestionably the best in the league, and would give the Greenburgh a definite advantage in tonight's big game.

    “... And here we go!” the T.V. announcer bellowed.

    Both Milo and Andy scooted closer to the edge of their seats on the couch as they watched the match begin.

    Bowers, a tall and stoic man in his late twenties with dark eyes and wavy black hair, stood tall at his end with all the towering stadium lights and camera flashbulbs from all around the stadium's vast bowl illuminating the battlefield from above. He wore the emerald-colored uniform of the Greenburgh Lightning proudly as he looked confidently out at the enormous crowd packing Champions Stadium.

    The camera then panned over to Bowers' opponent: Jordan Wagner, a younger, more muscular man with long, flowing blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. His gold and white uniform looked clean and pressed as he too stood like a broad-shouldered statue, waiting for the referee to signal for the start of the match.

    “Let the battle begin!”

    Bowers instantly threw the small red and white metallic sphere he had been holding onto the concrete field in front of him like a baseball pitcher. The pokéball bounced once on the ground before bursting open with a spectacular flash of blinding white light, and the legend's familiar battler appeared in its wake. The magnificent creature's gorgeous, shimmering orange and black striped coat of fur looked radiant on screen as he roared loudly, signaling that he too was ready to fight.

    Milo loved the way the pro trainers always revealed their Pokémon before battle by releasing them from their pokéball in such dramatic fashion before matches. He figured it was mostly for T.V. and the viewing audience because it was rather pointless to do, but it was cool and exciting nonetheless.

    Wagner followed suit, releasing his monster from its ball and onto the field. After the white flash from his pokéball had dissipated, the monster belonging to Golden Valley's lead-off battler was revealed as well much to the stadium crowd's utter shock.

    It was enormous. It towered over Bowers' Arcanine and gave a roar so loud that it was totally audible even to Milo and Andy on television. The two boys gasped when they saw the huge, blue-scaled serpent with its muscular coiled body and razor sharp fangs on the screen. The crowd went crazy upon its appearance and the intensity and frequency of the flashbulbs exploded throughout the arena.

    “Is that...?”

    “Yep,” Andy answered, sounding amazed at what he saw. “A Gyarados!”

    “I didn't know Wagner had one of those! I didn't even think it was possible to catch one of those things!”

    “Yeah, I don't know... Holy shit, though! Do you think Bowers might lose?! Not only does Wagner somehow have a fucking Gyarados, but he's got the type-advantage over Arcanine!”

    “Water over fire,” Milo said ominously.

    He didn't know a whole lot about the science of Pokémon... he wasn't particularly interested in them beyond watching them battle... but he knew from following the KPL that water-type beasts did seem to have an advantage over fire-type ones. And he also knew that wild Gyarados were incredibly rare and powerful and that they were considered almost uncatchable because of it. Would this be enough for Wagner and the Warriors to actually beat Bowers and the Lightning?

    The two teens didn't have a chance to discuss further however, as Bowers made the first move. Seeming totally unfazed by Wagner's surprise monster, the Lightning's leader commanded his trusted fiery beast to open the round with a mighty flame attack.

    Arcanine roared again and bared his razor-sharp teeth at his opponent. And then, like a flash, an enormous jet of orange and red fire exploded out of his open jaws. Like a fiery wave, the flame blasted Wagner's Gyarados directly in the face, causing the sea dragon to screech and writhe in pain. Parts of the animal's face were charred and blackened with soot.

    As the crowd reacted to the powerful attack, Wagner's serpent shook off the pain and lifted her long body vertically so that she was towering over Arcanine even more. A banshee-like scream ensued and like a cracking whip, she shot her head down towards Arcanine and bit the quadrupedal beast in the abdomen before he could leap out of the way. The speed with which Gyarados struck was truly awe-inspiring.

    The camera showed Bowers looking uncharacteristically concerned as his Arcanine whimpered in pain, staggering backwards. Red teeth marks were visible on his body and were starting to ooze blood, but the fire-type tried his best to ignore them, and the battle waged on.

    “You see how fast that thing is?!” Andy shouted at the television when he saw the lightning quick whip of Gyarados' bite attack.

    “Wow,” was all Milo could manage in response.

    For much of the match, Arcanine and Gyarados danced around the field like two heavyweight boxers, circling around, keeping the same amount of space in between them, each looking for an opening to strike. Bowers was able to land a few minor fire attacks here and there, but as a water-type creature, Wagner's monster wasn't affected too severely.

    Both creatures were much quicker and more agile than their enormous size would have indicated. Arcanine was an orange blur as he swiftly dodged dozens of snake-like strikes from Gyarados. His striped fur was matted and wet from blood, however, and it was unclear as to how much longer Bowers' creature could hold up. One thing was for sure to Milo, Andy and everyone across the globe who was watching: this was the toughest match Bowers and Arcanine had had in years. Fans weren't accustomed to seeing the legendary pair have so much trouble in the first round of any battle before.

    Several more of Arcanine's attempts to swipe at Gyarados' fleshy underbelly with his sickle-like claws failed, as the scaly beast was able to elude them each and every time with its squirming movements. The concrete of the field was beginning to look more like a crater-filled moon than a playing surface after all the maneuvering by the two large monsters.

    The noise in the stadium was getting louder and louder with anticipation. Arcanine looked exhausted from all of its missed attacks coupled with all the running around he had been doing to avoid the serpent's strikes. His eyes were drooping and his chest was heaving he stood ready for the next onslaught.

    “Oh my god! He's gonna lose!” Andy had moved from his spot at the edge of the couch and was literally crouching nervously on the floor about two feet away from the television, chewing his fingernails like they were potato chips.

    Milo was just about to tell his friend to have faith in Bowers, when Jordan Wagner's Gyarados made her move. Still with much the same level of quickness as the beginning of the match, the slithering monster managed to coil herself around the tired Arcanine and tightened her grip around his body like a noose.

    Bowers looked shocked to see his monster's eyes bulging from the pain of being constricted. Arcanine obviously was unable to move or free himself as he was now being lifted up and off the ground by Gyarados' crushing tail.

    The crowd had suddenly fallen silent. Was this it? Was the mighty Hugo Bowers and his unbeatable fire breather about to lose in the first round? Would Jordan Wagner and the Golden Valley Warriors stage the upset? While Greenburgh was a solid team overall, their four remaining battlers were no where near Bowers' skill level, and they would be hard pressed to win if their leader lost so quickly.

    Milo and Andy couldn't believe what they were watching. They were used to seeing Arcanine dominate his opponents with relative ease. Now, they were watching him desperately writhing in mid-air while being strangled nearly to death. It was like everything was moving in slow motion.

    But suddenly, something amazing happened. The television showed Bowers mouth something to his fighter, and almost instantly, the trapped Pokémon's dark sunken eyes began to glow bright red and his blood-stained fur began to stand on end as though he had been struck by lightning.

    For a moment, Milo thought what he was seeing was due to the quality of his old television. Was he seeing things? Arcanine's body was starting to glow brighter and brighter while in Gyarados' firm grasp.

    Before Wagner, his monster or the crowd could react, a spectacular explosion of red fire ensued like like a bomb where Arcanine was being constricted. The crowd went wild over the enormous ball of fire and smoke that engulfed the entire field. When the cloud of smoke dissipated, however, there was a collective gasp from around the stadium.

    The explosion had forced the sea serpent to relinquish her grip and Arcanine was now on his feet again. But Milo and Andy, along with everyone else watching, were absolutely stunned when they saw Arcanine's appearance.

    A spectacular orange glowing aura of flame surrounded Arcanine's entire rejuvenated body so that it was hard to tell where his thick fur ended and the force field of fire began. His ferocious eyes were still glowing bright red and the sounds of crackling fire mixed with the monster's vicious growls.

    “What the hell is going on?!” Andy gasped. “He's on fire!”

    Milo remained silent. He had never seen a monster on the brink of defeat burst into flames like this before. Whatever this huge flame aura thing was, it seemed to re-energize Arcanine and make him seem even more ferocious and powerful than before.

    With a loud bellow of rage, Arcanine took off running towards his serpentine opponent. He zoomed across the field with ridiculous speed, looking like an orange, fiery comet hurdling towards Gyarados.

    The speeding fire ball bashed Wagner's beast right in the face, and the dragon shrieked in agony before falling to the ground. Her face was burnt and crackly black and her eyes and mouth bleeding from the burns.

    Before Gyarados could recover, Arcanine roared once again, so loud that the stadium looked to be shaking on television. Another even more intense explosion of wildfire ensued, engulfing the entire field like a tidal wave once again.

    Milo held his breath. He hoped an explosion that large wouldn't harm any of the stadium spectators or the trainers themselves. But the flames and smoke cleared once again, and left a tired-looking Arcanine standing near midfield no longer surrounded by his fiery aura.

    Gyarados was lying motionless across from Arcanine, but was hardly even recognizable, like a giant lifeless water hose lying coiled on a lawn. Her entire body of blue, shiny scales now looked like nothing but a huge, charred log. The mystical sea serpent, thought to have been immune to fire, had been burnt to a crisp. Arcanine had won.

    The crowd was stunned. Silence rang out almost louder than any cheers or applause could. Even Milo and Andy were speechless as they watched what had happened on the T.V.

    “How... how did Arcanine do that?” Milo asked without daring to look away from the screen.

    “What was that?!” Andy replied, sounding in utter amazement. “Arcanine was done, he was about to lose! And then... that fire.”

    “Wagner's Gyarados has been defeated! Arcanine and Bowers with an AMAZING comeback in Round One! I've never seen anything like it!” the television announcer screamed, sounding equally as amazed and excited as the deafening crowd to witness such a sudden turn of events.

    Milo and Andy fell back onto the couch. Neither of them had realized that they had been standing with their fists clenched with anxiousness. What an incredible move Arcanine had managed to pull off!

    “Fucking incredible,” Andy sighed and helped himself to the last slice of now cold pizza.

    Much of the excitement of the battle soon wore off as Arcanine, even in his fatigued state, was still strong enough to swiftly defeat Golden Valley's next two trainers, Jefferson Jones and his Nidoking, and Lance Bagley and his Charmeleon. Without question, the key matchup in the championship had been Bowers versus Wagner, and now that Golden Valley's first three battlers had gone down, Greenburgh's victory was all but sealed as the two teams went into the locker rooms for the intermission.

    “Well, Greenburgh's got it in the bag,” Milo said, reclining back in the couch for the first time since the match had started.

    “Yeah, three-nothing is gonna be hard to come back from considering the rest of Golden Valley's team besides Wagner sucks. I don't know how they even got to the championship. Rockford should have made it... it would've been a better match.”

    The two boys relaxed on the couch while the T.V. network aired several commercials. Milo, who wasn't all the interested to watch the second half of the game anymore now that the result was all but inevitable, considered going upstairs to his bedroom to play his video games, but didn't want anymore ridicule from Andy than he normally got for being a “computer geek.”

    Instead, the two boys laughed about the strange red-headed girl from class that they had met earlier that day. Andy was in the middle of a hilarious impersonation of the nasally-sounding girl when the television announcer once again stole their attention.

    “... And now, as many of you at home have probably heard, the legendary Hugo Bowers has a special announcement for everyone who considers themselves a fan of Pokémon training.”

    “Whoa! I almost forgot!” Milo said.

    “Yeah, I bet he's announcing his retirement. It would be fitting, especially after tonight. Nothing like going out on top. He's had a helluva career.”

    The two boys watched as Hugo Bowers' familiar chiseled face appeared on the screen. It was clearly a pre-taped segment because Bowers was not in his Greenburgh battling uniform and he appeared to be sitting in some sort of office or studio as he smiled dashingly at the camera without a drop of sweat or speck of dirt on him.

    “I would like to first thank all of the KPL fans out there who are watching tonight for their continued support of our great league,” Bowers said, sounding as though his speech was rehearsed. “It is a real honor to battle in front of the best fans in the world.

    “There have been many rumors floating out there as to what this announcement is about. But I can assure you... it is not my intention to announce my retirement from the KPL tonight. I still enjoy competing and feel that my monsters and I still have what it takes to play at the level necessary to represent the great city of Greenburgh.”

    “I told you he wasn't retiring!” Andy shouted triumphantly. Milo just rolled his eyes.

    “... No, tonight's announcement is nothing like that, though it does involve the Kanto Pokémon League, which is why I chose tonight, the biggest night in the KPL calender... for this message.

    “And now without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce to all of the country, the First Annual Kanto Battle Quest Competition!”

    Bowers paused for effect even though everyone watching was sure to be confused about what exactly the Kanto Battle Quest Competition was. Andy and Milo didn't say anything. A competition? What was this about?

    “Now, I'm sure all of you at home are wondering just what the competition entails,” Bowers said with sly grin.

    “No shit,” Andy scoffed impatiently at the screen.

    “Shh!” Milo scolded.

    “... Well, the Battle Quest will essentially be a huge, nation-wide talent search. It is a contest that I, along with Mr. Johan Ivanovic, owner of the Greenburgh Lightning, will be putting on in hopes of unearthing the best amateur battling talent in all of Kanto!

    “Starting in three weeks, all aspiring trainers, ages fourteen and up, who wish to participate, will spend the next calender year traveling all across Kanto with the goal of assembling and training their own team of monsters to compete in battles, with the goal of spending that time to foster and nurture the close knit relationship between trainer and Pokémon that is necessary for success in battling.

    “Throughout the yearlong duration of this competition, participants will be asked to scour the country in order to find and defeat all seven of my employed bosses in order to gauge their progress. These seven trainers will be scattered all around the country, and will battle anyone who finds them, identifies them, and challenges them as part of this contest. Trainers who are able to defeat any one of them will be awarded a special coin that certifies that they have done so.

    “I assure you, this will be no easy task however, as the seven 'coin keepers' I have chosen are world-class caliber and will take no mercy on those who have not developed the necessary skills. However, by the end of the year, any trainers that are able to successfully collect all seven coins from all seven keepers will be eligible to enter the Battle Quest Tournament, to be held right here at Champions Stadium.”

    Milo and Andy both gasped at the prospect of battling on the very same field as Hugo Bowers, Jordan Wagner and the other superstars of the KPL. Aside from that, however, neither boy made a sound. They were totally enthralled with Bowers' amazing competition announcement.

    “The tournament will be an monumental media event, televised and marketed as an amazing competition of the world's top amateur talent, and its competitors will be made into instant stars. And Mr. Ivanovic has agreed to award the winner of this truly epic contest with his or her very own professional contract with the Greenburgh Lightning!”

    Milo and Andy nearly fell off the couch. A real professional contract with Bowers' team!? The winner of this contest would win the right to call Hugo Bowers... the Hugo Bowers, a teammate?!

    “So, as I leave you here tonight to enjoy the second half of the KPL Championship, I urge anyone out there who dreams of success and happiness to pursue those dreams by participating in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Whatever your background, your age, your socioeconomic situation... everyone has equal opportunity to realize their dreams... for it is not the size of your muscles, the volume of your voice, or the level of skill that will determine whether you succeed or fail... it is the measure of your heart and desire!”

    And with that, the pre-taped video of Bowers' announcement disappeared from the television, and the second half of the KPL championship resumed... although at this point after what they had just seen regarding the enchanting national teenage talent search Bowers had just introduced to the world, Milo Young and Andy Morrow could not have possibly cared any less.

    “Milo, we need to join this thing!”


    -----------------

    TO BE CONTINUED...

    Coming Soon...

  3. #3

    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (1)

    First things first - obligatory yes.

    It seems Izzy will be more important this time around. Interesting. And on that note, damn. I always thought the competition was ironicly pointless before - if Arcanine is that good who needs anything else? If you win, congrats, you get to sit on the sidelines! I think it's even more emphasised now, wow.

    Does it bother me too much? Not really. Just a funny observation the characters in it don't realize, I guess.
    Don't know what to put here.

  4. #4
    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (1)

    Haha yeah, in my head, I compare the winning of the Battle Quest and the contract for the KPL to American Pro Sports teams holding open tryouts to the public.

    It is possible that a team could unearth a really talented and previously-unknown future superstar, but it is unlikely that whoever that person is, that he or she would instantly come in and take Kobe Bryant or Lebron James' place right away. They would win a contract, win the opportunity to be on the team, but not necessarily become a star right away.

    I liken this contest's prize to something like that.

    Coming Soon...

  5. #5
    Ice ice baby Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (1)

    Well I guess I can say the same thing I said back in the first one since I haven't really noticed a lot of changes yet.

    The grammar and description is good as usual and maybe even better, I hope this time you can actually finish the story though.

    I'll be reading and watching for the changes you make to the old story from now on man.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (1)

    Thanks, Flame.

    Yeah, the first chapter ended up being pretty similar, but the changes will be coming. A big chunk of Chapter 2 is brand new so it's taking a while. I'm almost done, though.

    Thanks everyone for reading.

    Coming Soon...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (1)

    A/N: Here is Chapter 2. Some might find it kind of slow, but it is necessary to the beginning of the saga. Hope you like it. Please let me know what you think :)


    2. The Blessing



    The pearly white glow of the moon outside the open window was the only light illuminating Milo's small bedroom as he sat at the foot of his four-post bed. Aside from the faint chorus of Kricketunes chirping outside, the serene silence of Oak Grove was all that could be heard. Milo whispered quietly so as not to awaken Fawkes, who was curled up sleeping near the headboard.

    “... So basically, you travel all around the country and catch a bunch of monsters. Then you train them to fight in order to win those coins.”

    Although it looked like Milo was talking only to himself or to his sleeping Vulpix, he was actually directing his speech in the direction of the wall just above the small wooden dresser next to his bed.

    In the moonlight, a large red and white high school letterman jacket was just faintly visible hanging on the wall directly above the dresser. It was mounted like a retired athlete's jersey on display. The bold white letter 'P' on the jacket's breast seemed to glow in the half light.

    “... And apparently if you're able to beat the seven coin keeper people, you get to enter this big tournament at the end of the year. And the winner of that gets to sign with the Greenburgh Lightning!”

    Just underneath the hanging jacket, a book-sized picture frame stood on top of the dresser's oak surface. A very handsome boy with coffee bean colored eyes and shaggy black hair smiled widely in the photograph.

    “I thought about you right away when I heard about this Battle Quest thing tonight. It definitely sounds like something you'd be able to win for sure.”

    Perched carefully on top of the standing picture frame was a tattered red baseball cap with a dirty white bill. The three items made up a sort of shrine Milo had made a few years ago, to which he was now speaking directly to as if it was actually the boy in the photo.

    “Wish you were here, Danny,” Milo whispered.

    He lowered his head and chewed on lip almost as though he was startled by what he had let slip. He had been telling himself for years that he was too old to cry, but he couldn't stop his bottom lip from quivering nor his eyes from watering. Painful memories flooded his mind like a toppling dam.

    After a few moments though, with great strain on his facial muscles, Milo managed to stifle his tears and cleared his throat vigorously.

    “Anyways, Andy thinks we should try to do it,” he said of the Battle Quest, trying to sound casual. “It does sound pretty cool, but you know Mom. There's no way she's ever let me do anything like this. It's during the school year.”

    At that instant, Milo realized how silly it was for him to be talking out loud to Danny's old jacket and photo. Feeling slightly ashamed, he was glad he was alone in his room where no one could see him. Andy or anyone else would think he was insane if they would have seen him talking to inanimate objects in the dark.

    Milo stood up from the bed and plopped down in a chair in front of the tiny wooden desk crammed into the corner of the bedroom. He yawned and stretched. It had been an exciting evening, and he was just now beginning to feel its effects.

    Hours ago, the Greenburgh Lightning had defeating the Golden Valley Warriors by a score of 5-1 for the KPL championship, but even though Milo and Andy had sat through the duration of the second half, neither had paid much attention after the amazing announcement Hugo Bowers had made on the air during halftime.

    Of course, Andy had immediately started concocting plans to convince their respective parents to let them forgo their freshman year at Viridian Academy in order to go on an unsupervised journey around Kanto. Milo knew that no amount of convincing would work on his mother but he humored Andy by trying to act equally as excited.

    Truthfully, the idea of the two of them gallivanting all around the country, catching a team of super strong monsters and using them to defeat any sort of trainer associated with a star like Huge Bowers seemed entirely unrealistic. Milo had never ventured off any further than Viridian City on his own before. The outrageousness of imagining himself traveling around the entire country on foot made the idea seem like a huge waste of time, like planning a weekend trip to the moon or building a time machine.

    But on the other hand, nothing had been causing Milo more anxiety lately than the prospect of waking up for his first day of high school and encountering the crowded hallways, the difficult classes and general disdain from classmates who were sure to think he was a loser.

    Growing up in such a small town from the time he was just a little boy, Milo had been going to the same tiny local schoolhouse for as long as he could remember. There were no more than six or seven students to a classroom and everyone knew everything about everyone in town. Their life's story, their pet's names, you name it.

    But this year, having graduated from Oak Grove's only school, the time had come for Milo to move on to high school, the nearest of which was the much bigger and frightening Viridian Academy.

    The idea of this transition made Milo feel like a Goldeen who had lived in a small bowl his whole life, feeling comfortable with his safe, simplistic routine, but was now being forced out into the vast, deep ocean to face the scary unknown. He felt sick whenever he thought of this analogy, but lately, he couldn't help it.

    And to make matters even worse, Milo suddenly remembered, he would likely be remembered by all who saw him after class earlier that day as the stupid freshman who took out Johnny Lucas in the hall. Not quite the first impression he had been hoping for.

    DING!

    The sound of Milo's laptop computer in front of him suddenly stole his attention away from school. The screen illuminated with a message from one of his online video game friends inviting him to play.

    Instantly, a feeling of comforting calm swept over him like a warm bath as he booted up his video game and scooted his desk chair into ready position. His racing mind slowed and calmed. His despair and anxiety were momentarily alleviated when he stared into that wonderful, bright rectangular portal that would allow him to escape his own rather mediocre life.

    Perhaps that was the reason for Milo's love of gaming. It gave him, even if limited to the time he spent sitting in front of the screen, the ability to forget all the haunting memories of his past as well as the severe anxiety he had been enduring lately. It always felt soothing to become the fictional characters whom he controlled on the computer screen and swap lives with them, if only for a short period of time.

    Throughout his adolescence, Milo's propensity for spending his time alone in his bedroom did come at a price. From the time he had first fallen in love with computer games as a small child, he had been somewhat of a social outcast among his peers. Milo had never been explicitly bullied – probably due to the fact that he lived in such a small town – but he often felt as though he was invisible to his schoolmates growing up.

    Andy had been Milo's only true friend since he and his mother had moved to Oak Grove years ago into the house next door. And while Milo would never dare tell Andy, he had always been grateful that friendship. He knew Andy, a more outgoing and popular boy, had other friends in town besides Milo. He knew Andy would try to convince them to include Milo in their group, but Milo would normally just elect to spend weekends in his bedroom. Regardless, he was appreciative of Andy's effort.

    Perhaps this was why Milo felt so nervous about attending high school in Viridian City. If he couldn't find his niche at tiny Oak Grove Primary, how in the world could he expect to fit in at a huge school like Viridian Academy?

    He wasn't good at sports. He couldn't sing or play a musical instrument. The idea of going to crowded places like malls or movie theaters on weekends didn't appeal to him at all. His skinny physique and baby-faced appearance made it hard to garner much attention from girls. And breaking the ice to strike up conversations with strangers was something that terrified Milo.

    He didn't even know why he cared, anyway. On the rare occasion he had been invited to join Andy and his friends for a Friday night at the movies or to play baseball with them in the schoolyard, he always seemed to end up declining in favor of spending more time alone in his room. Why was he so worried about fitting in when he always shied away from the chances he did get?

    Over the past few weeks, with the autumn fast approaching, Milo had been feeling this inner turmoil quite a bit. The fear of his new school, the confusion about why he was scared, and all the other emotions swirling around inside of him were threatening to consume him. But not now. No, as long as he felt his computer's keyboard beneath his fingertips, the fears and confusion couldn't touch him.

    As a virtual warrior, Milo didn't have to worry about all of life's stresses. It was the beauty of his darkened bedroom; there, he was safe inside its protective walls, like a force-field shielding him from the real world... a world full of judgmental teenagers and peer pressure... a world one hundred times scarier than any zombie-infested virtual world he had encountered in his games.

    After a few hours of gaming, which had felt like no time at all in his safe alternate world, Milo finally removed himself from the trance he had been in long enough to use the bathroom and stretch his legs. When he returned to his room, he looked at the digital clock on his nightstand. 11:39 P.M.

    Nearly midnight. Late for most normal people on a weeknight, but still early for Milo, who regularly remained awake until well into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes until sunrise. He was just about to sit back down and resume play, but suddenly, he heard a noise outside his window.

    A low growling sound then sudden rustling sounds in the grass followed by a sharp squawk.

    Milo went over to the window. Outside, the moonlight was just bright enough for him to see a small, crippled animal lying motionless in the grassy field right outside the house. It apparently had been attacked by something and left for dead.

    Without thinking, Milo jumped out of the window and ran across the damp grass towards the fallen creature. It was a small black and red-feathered bird with one of its wings bent at an unnatural angle as it lay sprawled out on the ground. The Spearow's beady black eyes were open and alive, but looked overwhelmed with the pain of its injured wing.

    Milo bent down and scooped up the bird and ran back to the house. Once he had carefully climbed back in through his window, Milo set the injured Spearow gingerly on his desk, scooting his laptop aside with his elbow. He then went to rummage through his closet.

    Milo had never been a huge animal lover, aside from his own pet, Fawkes. But for whatever reason, seeing the pain and helplessness in the eyes of this bird caused Milo to feel inclined to do his best to mend it.

    Finally, after locating the first aid kit in his closet, Milo rushed over and began to try to work on the bird, who had apparently been sedated by the pain of its broken wing because it was not objecting to Milo splinting and bandaging it.

    When he had finished, Milo stood back to admire his work. He was hopeful that Spearow, who was now sporting a small popsicle stick split wrapped in white medical tape, wasn't in too much pain.

    The bird was actually very beautiful. It wasn't often that Milo had had the chance to look at a Spearow this closely despite how prominent their presence was in Oak Grove's trees and skies. Its black coat was shiny and smooth, all of the feathers streamlined like a freshly pressed suit. The deep red color of the tail feathers and around its eyes gave Spearow a very sleek appearance.

    “There you go, bud,” Milo whispered. “You're gonna be all right.”

    Even though Milo knew that a bird couldn't understand him, he thought he saw a look of acknowledgment in the Spearow's face.

    Milo smiled and fetched Fawkes' food and water bowls and set them down next to Spearow on the desk. The ailing monster gingerly climbed to its feet and waddled to the bowls, dipping its beak hungrily into both.

    When it had eaten its fill, Spearow, obviously unfit to return to the wild, plopped back down on Milo's desk surface and looked ready to rest. It looked noticeably cheerier and healthier already, which made Milo feel good.

    He was just about to reboot his computer and resume his game when he heard his mother call from downstairs.

    “Milo! Come out here, will you?!”

    This couldn't be good, Milo thought to himself. Her tone of voice indicated that this wouldn't just be a casual How was your day, sweetie? kind of conversation.

    Nonetheless, Milo obediently made his way down the hall and found his mother who was sitting at the table in the small white-walled kitchen. A mug of coffee was steaming in front of her on the table as she smiled at her son.

    “How's that poor Spearow doing?”

    “Uh... fine. How did you know about that?”

    “Mother's always know, Milo.”

    Milo rolled his eyes and his mother chuckled.

    “I heard the poor thing chirping and saw it through the window,” Cindy said, gesturing towards the open window above the kitchen sink. “The poor thing must have fallen out of its nest. I saw one of those damn Stunkies pawing at it on the ground before you ran out there.”

    “The bird's fine now,” Milo replied. “I bandaged it up and gave it some food. I'm thinking the little guy will be good as new in a few days.”

    “Oh good. That's great, sweetie.”

    “Yep, is that all then?” Milo said as he started towards the door to return to his room.

    “No, Milo, there's something else I'd like to talk to you about. Why don't you have a seat.”

    “Mom, come on. I'm in the middle of something upstairs. What is it?”

    “Milo, please, take a seat,” Cindy Young repeated, sounding stern but still polite.

    Milo knew that tone. He knew better than to provoke his mother beyond this point. He sunk his shoulders and walked over to the table. He exhaled deeply as he plopped down in the wobbly chair opposite his mom.

    “So how was class today, bud?”

    “It was fine,” Milo replied shortly, hoping that his mother would let him leave sooner if he refused to engage in an actual conversation.

    “You excited for tryouts? Andy's mom says he can't stop talking about it.”

    “Yeah, I guess...”

    “They start right away in the fall don't they? Every day after school?”

    “I think so...”

    Cindy paused. Milo could tell she had sensed the tone of apathy in his voice and was about to sharply cut to the chase.

    “Milo, what's going on with you lately? You've been locked in your bedroom all summer. I practically have to drag you downstairs just to eat!”

    “Nothing's going on, Mom,” Milo groaned as it became apparent that the conversation he had been hoping to avoid was now unavoidable. “I'm fine!”

    “Come on, talk to me,” Cindy pleaded. “Andy told me before he left tonight that you said you weren't sure you wanted to try out for the team this fall anymore. I thought you'd be excited. You love watching battling on T.V.”

    “There's nothing to talk about!”

    “Listen to yourself, Milo. I can tell something's bothering you. What's wrong?”

    Milo didn't say anything. He stared at the clock on the wall stubbornly for a few moments. He desperately wanted to return to his room, but he knew his mom wouldn't drop the issue until she heard something substantial to quell her concerns.

    “I just...”

    Milo felt strangely ashamed of what he was about to admit, even to his own mother.

    “... I'm just feeling a little nervous about school, that's all!” he said quickly, as though speaking the words slowly and clearly would be even more humiliating.

    Milo's mother didn't speak. She just looked at her son with eyes that reflected both compassion and guilt. Milo was comforted by this slightly, but still wanted to leave the table and return to his safe zone.

    “Oh sweetie, I'm sorry. I should have known... Your first year at your new school. Of course you're anxious about that. Viridian Academy is a huge school!”

    “Yeah. Thanks, Mom,” he replied dryly to his mother's attempt at compassion.

    Milo continued to stare at the coffee mug on the table, feeling a bit ashamed to be confiding in his “mommy” about the big, scary school he was going to be attending. But what he heard her say next made him totally forget about everything and was perhaps one of the biggest shocks of his young life.

    “Well, Milo, maybe instead of going to Viridian, you should just enter that Pokémon quest competition that's been all over the news tonight.”

    Milo nearly fell out of his chair. He looked up at the woman and totally expected to see her chuckling to signal she was joking. Or perhaps he hadn't heard her right. He didn't know whether or not he should laugh at what she had said.

    “What?” was all he could utter.

    “I watched what they said about it on the news tonight, and I think it sounds like it would be a great experience for a kid like you,” Cindy said, smirking slightly at Milo's reaction.

    Milo detected no signs in her mother's expression that she was kidding. But he still couldn't believe what he was hearing.

    “Uh... Mom, you do know the contest starts in like two weeks and basically goes the entire school year, right?”

    “You can learn a lot about the world by actually exploring it, Milo. You can learn things that you wouldn't be able to learn in a classroom,” she said, sounding whimsical before hardening her tone, “... and besides, you most definitely would be returning back to school next year.”

    “Who are you?!” Milo couldn't help but say, his mouth still gaping. “Are you feeling okay?”

    Cindy laughed and took a sip of coffee before saying quietly, “I'm serious, Milo. I heard you and Andy talking about it tonight in the living room. You guys both sounded really excited. And even though it's hard to believe, I'm officially giving you my blessing to go on this journey. But obviously, the choice is yours.”

    Milo's mind was racing a million miles per second. Hearing his mother actually say that she approved of him skipping out on the school year was incredibly surreal, and was still adjusting to that thought.

    “So, just to make sure,” Milo said, making one final attempt to make sure his mother wasn't half-asleep or going crazy. “You're saying you're fine with me skipping school to go off with Andy traveling all around the country for some crazy contest that we saw on T.V.?”

    “Yes, Milo. I'm serious,” she replied patiently. “Like I said, I think it'll be a fun learning experience for you and Andy... it'll be good for you.”

    “And you don't think it's gonna be a waste of time?” Milo asked cautiously.

    “A waste of time?”

    “Well, you know... There's like no way I'll be able to actually win. Think of all the people that are gonna be entering this thing! It's a nationwide competition.”

    “There might not be as many as you think, Milo. I don't think too many parents are going to be as generously understanding as me and let their kids skip an entire year of school,” she replied with a grin. “And besides, who cares if you don't win? I'm letting you go for the experience... the journey you take is far more important than the actual destination.”

    “You sound like a fortune cookie,” Milo replied with a smirk.

    He knew what his mother meant though. She wasn't allowing Milo to go because she necessarily thought he was going to win the ultimate prize... she was letting him go because she thought the adventure would be beneficial to him.

    “And remember, Milo,” Cindy continued. “Training Pokémon isn't like baseball. The biggest and strongest aren't always the best. In battling, anyone who loves their monsters and fosters a close relationship with them can be great trainers. The Pokémon are the real stars... the best trainers just know how to bring out the best in them.”

    “Since when did you become such an expert on Pokémon, Mom?”

    Milo's mother paused and took another thoughtful sip of coffee. She looked like she was struggling a bit to answer.

    “Well...” she started before pausing again. “I don't know if I've ever told you this, but I suppose it's time you knew.”

    “Knew what?”

    “Well, Milo... when I first met your father–“

    “Nevermind!” Milo blurted out, cutting his mother off at the first mention of his father. “I don't want to know!”

    Cindy forced an uncomfortable smile. “I know... you don't like to talk about him. I... I don't either, Milo, but I just thought--”

    “No, Mom,” Milo replied firmly, looking up from the table top straight into her beautifully warm brown eyes. “Sorry, but I just don't want to hear it. I know all I need to know about that guy. As far as I'm concerned, I never had a father."

    Milo's mother looked like she wanted to reply, but stopped and simply nodded.

    “All right, Milo,” she said. “Well, it's getting late. I'm going to bed. Try not to stay up too late. I'm sure Andy will want to hear all about what an amazing mother you have in the morning.”

    “Right!” Milo said as the anger of hearing his father mentioned subsided. He grinned with excitement. He jumped up from his seat, kissed his mother goodnight, and made his way back upstairs to his room.

    Back in his comfort zone, Milo actually felt excited about what his mother had said. He didn't know, however, whether he was excited because she was allowing him to partake in Bowers' Battle Quest or if it was because he didn't have to worry about attending Viridian Academy in the fall.

    Milo yawned deeply, suddenly realizing how tired he was as he crawled into bed and maneuvered himself underneath his covers carefully so as not to awaken Fawkes or Spearow. As he stared at the pitch black ceiling and listened to his pet's soft, steady breathing, the fourteen-year-old imagined what his life would be like on the road while everyone else he knew would be stuck in school.

    Relief and comfort quickly gave way to more anxiety and fear, though, as he thought about the idea of wandering around Kanto with no parental guidance and no experience whatsoever in raising monsters for battle. He thought about what it would be like to be in a real Pokémon battle like he had so often seen on television. Without knowing for sure, he knew it couldn't be as easy as Hugo Bowers and others made it look. Milo didn't even know where he would start.

    As his eye lids grew heavier and he began to drift in and out of consciousness, Milo groggily concluded that he and Andy would figure it out. They always did.

    And with that, he allowed himself to be consumed by his exhaustion.

    --------


    To Be Continued...
    Last edited by Legacy; 29th November 2011 at 10:29 PM.

    Coming Soon...

  8. #8

    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (2)

    Personally, I'm more alarmed by the slow response rather than the slow speed. If the goddamned Legacy can't get posts, we're all doomed here.

    So Chapter 2 is just the night now, though Spearow has been moved to here instead of Fawkes fawking it up later, and there's now this Danny who is or was presumably Milo's mancrush. Not...exactly sure how to respond to that last one, but it's what I came to after I eliminated everything else. Probably missing something obvious through sleep deprivation, but if it is or if not whatever it is, it should be interesting to see how this will play a factor.

    Where's a time machine when you need one, anyway?
    Don't know what to put here.

  9. #9
    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (2)

    Thanks for reading, SE.

    A lot of people are busy writing I see, plus this story (in the beginning stages) is not that different, so I understand the low number of views.

    But I'm gonna try not to get discouraged.

    Coming Soon...

  10. #10
    J'ai Envie De Toi AetherX's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (2)

    Just wanted to let you know I'm reading. I dig the few changes that you've made so far, and your writing is as eloquent as ever. My guess is that Danny is (was) a brother, but we'll have to see.

  11. #11
    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (2)

    Thanks AetherX,

    I'm working on Chapter 3 now, hopefully my updates won't be as slow as the first. My many readers (both of you XD) demand swiftness!

    Coming Soon...

  12. #12
    Ice ice baby Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (2)

    Pretty much the same as chapter 2 except that the changes in this one were hard not to notice. Personally I think Danny must be an old friend or a relative not necessarily a brother to Milo since it could be a cousin or just someone he looked up to. Also I wonder if he'll keep the Spearow that he found. Not just that but now we have a reason for Milo's secluded life style.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (2)

    Thanks for reading guys! I think Chapter 3 will be up later tonight.

    Coming Soon...

  14. #14
    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (2)

    A/N: Here is Chapter 3. Please let me know what you think :)


    3. The Decision



    The next morning, Milo awoke to sounds of ruckus.

    The window shades in his bedroom worked magnificently, and only the faintest rays of morning sunlight were able to sneak in through the small gaps near the sills. Milo sat up in bed, but couldn't see what was apparently running around and ransacking his tiny room, knocking books and trinkets onto the floor in the process.

    Milo ran towards the window and threw open the curtains. Light spilled into the room and instantly Milo saw Fawkes excitedly leaping up and down in the corner, nipping at the suspended talons of the Spearow Milo had rescued the night before. Spearow was jaggedly fluttering in midair against the wall, laboring with its bandaged left wing in an effort to stay out of Fawkes' toothy reach.

    “Fawkes! No!” Milo shouted.

    Thankfully, Milo's pet Vulpix had always been uncannily obedient for her age. Almost before Milo could finish scolding her, Fawkes stopped jumping at Spearow and walked calmly back towards the bed. Milo had always thought it was strange how well behaved the young pup was (most of the time), but he wasn't going to complain.

    “Good girl,” he said. “Spearow is our guest, so be nice.”

    The bird, looking extremely relieved to have been spared, landed awkwardly on Milo's desk and helped itself to the water dish Milo had left it. And after it had drunk its fill, the bird nestled itself to rest in the makeshift nest Milo had made out of a shoebox and bits of crumpled newspaper.

    After order had been restored to his bedroom, Milo climbed back into bed. He was keen on enjoying one of the last summer opportunities to sleep in. He quickly glanced to see that his clock read, 10:42 a.m. At noon, he told himself, he'd awaken to start the day.

    But just as Milo threw the warm covers back over himself, the piercing sound of his cell phone ring tone interrupted him. Cursing under his breath whoever could be bothering him, Milo reached over to the nightstand for his phone.

    It was a text message. It was from Andy:

    “having brunch @ mr. j's house. come over when you get up.”

    Instantly, Milo remembered. The Battle Quest. His mother had actually given him permission to miss school and go on the crazy journey with Andy. A jolt of excitement ran through him, and before he knew it, he was up and out of bed, getting dressed. He couldn't wait to tell Andy the news.

    Milo threw on the same black t-shirt and blue jeans he had been wearing the previous day and ran down the hall with Fawkes hustling behind.

    Suddenly, however, Milo thought of something and stopped in his tracks, his socks sliding to a stop on the floor. After returning to his room, he gently picked up the shoe box with the resting Spearow in it. He closed the lid and hurried back out to the kitchen with Fawkes at his heels.

    “I'll just ask Mr. J to take a look at your wing just in case,” Milo said to the Spearow's box as he and Fawkes made their way to the front door.

    The pup's four tails wagged happily as though she fully understood where they were heading. She panted excitedly while Milo put on his shoes.

    “Bye, Mom!” Milo called out over his shoulder as he, Fawkes and Spearow stepped outside.

    Milo squinted in the bright mid-morning sun and sniffed the sweet summer air. A perfect day, he thought.

    Normally not much of a nature lover, Milo was feeling strangely content as they made their way down the scenic dirt road. The lush rolling plains and golden fields stretched far off into the distance. The towering, dark green forest that marked the outskirts of Oak Grove was just barely visible on the horizon against the pure blue, cloudless sky.

    “Nice day, huh Fawkes?” he said, feeling uncharacteristically cheerful away from his bedroom.

    The young Vulpix barked in agreement before scampering over to the side of the road to investigate a buzzing insect in the weeds. Milo chuckled. He opened the lid of the box he had been holding, and the bird inside peeked its head out, its eyes adjusting to the light.

    “Thought you might like to join us,” Milo said to Spearow, who stretched its wings appreciatively and climbed up to perch on Milo's shoulder.

    He still wasn't used to seeing a wild Spearow behaving in such a domesticated manner, and he had half-expected the bird to try to fly away once it realized they were outdoors, but it didn't. Spearow seemed perfectly content in Milo's company. While he thought this was a little bit odd, Milo just figured that the bird trusted him after taking him in and tending to its injuries the night before. Hopefully, Mr. J would be able to ensure that its wing would make a full recovery.

    It felt strangely gratifying to Milo to be walking down the dirt road on such a picturesque day with Spearow and Fawkes, like a sort of small young family on their way to an exciting outing together.

    Milo knew when they had reached their destination when he saw near the side of the road beside him the familiar rusty metal mailbox with “Mr. J” painted on the side. He gazed out at the modest green field on the old farmer's property and for whatever reason, he felt a new appreciation for the bulky Pokémon he always saw grazing peacefully in the distance.

    Several voluptuous, pink and black-bodied Miltank cows were scattered across the plat of land with two broad-shouldered Tauros galloping through the grass around them, showing off their long horns.

    Having lived next door to this small farm his entire life, Milo normally would have just ignored the familiar sight of the cattle roaming the field. But for whatever reason, today was different. Perhaps it was the sunshine or the soothing cool breeze caressing his skin on that warm morning, but something made Milo pause for a moment to admire the majesty and beauty of the creatures.

    His whole life, Milo realized, he had pretty much just thought of monsters as house pets or tools for battle by trainers on T.V. But as he gazed at one particular Tauros, who seemed to be suavely attempting to court one of the Miltanks by showing off his muscular backside, Milo was reminded that these creatures inhabit all corners of the world and each live their individual lives, just like humans.

    After a moment or two, Milo and his Pokémon continued down the dusty dirt driveway towards Mr. J's house, which sat atop the knoll at the center of the field. The red-shingled house, while small, was actually quite nice having been remodeled and maintained by Mr. J himself. The house was a warm, inviting sight with its fresh yellow paint and neatly trimmed bushes in front.

    Before Milo could reach the front door, it swung open and a lively, surprisingly springy older man with a full head of dark gray hair emerged from inside. He wore tattered blue jeans and a plain white t-shirt, which revealed his sun-toughened tan skin and age-defying, toned physique.

    Mr. Alvin Jacobs, or Mr. J as he was called by almost everyone in town, was Oak Grove's senior-most resident. During his time owning and living on his farm, Mr. J had watched the town's once-barren agricultural land sprout families, homes and small businesses all around his property over the past few decades. But even as the town developed, Mr. J's farm always preserved the sense of peacefulness and nature in Oak Grove, and for that, Milo figured, was why Mr. J was so popular with everyone.

    “G'morning, Milo! I've got some breakfast on the table if you'd like,” Mr. J greeted and crouched down to pet Fawkes. Then he noticed Spearow on Milo's shoulder. “Well, well. Who do we have here?”

    “Morning, Mr. J,” Milo replied. “This is Spearow. Found it in the yard last night with its wing broken. I was hoping you could take a look at it. I'm not sure where its mother went, but I don't want to let it back into the wild with a hurt wing.”

    “Poor fella,” Mr. J muttered as he carefully scooped up Spearow in his callused hands to inspect Milo's bandage work. “Looks like you did a good job with the split though. Should be good as new in a week or so.”

    Spearow chirped appreciatively and hopped up onto Mr. J's shoulder. He chuckled.

    “You sure he's wild? Best behaved bird I've ever seen. You gonna name him?”

    “How do you know he's a he?” Milo asked.

    “Males have these distinct red markings under their eyes,” Mr J explained knowingly. “They use 'em to attract females, don'cha boy?”

    Spearow chirped again cheerfully and both Milo and Mr. J laughed.

    “I'll have to think of a name for him then, I guess,” Milo said as he made his way into the kitchen.

    Andy was seated at the small wooden dining table, his face buried in the newspaper he held open in front of him. But it was the enticing aroma of the food on the table that grabbed Milo's attention.

    Milo's mouth started to water when he looked at the impressive spread: fluffy, yellow scrambled eggs, a mound of crispy bacon, fresh baked bread and a pitcher of ice cold milk. Without much hesitation, Milo plopped down in the chair beside Andy and helped himself to some breakfast.

    “You're awfully quiet this morning,” Milo commented in between bites after Andy had remained uncharacteristically quiet.

    Andy didn't respond for a few moments, but then finally, he tossed his newspaper down in disgust.

    “What's wrong with you?” Milo asked.

    “Politics, man,” Andy sighed.

    Milo nearly choked on his food. Out of all the possible upsetting topics in the world, Milo never thought he'd live to see the day when Andy Greenway would care about politics. Milo was shocked that the newspaper section Andy had been reading wasn't the funnies or the sports section.

    “Uh... what?”

    “Haven't you been reading about what President Matthews is doing?” Andy replied angrily.

    Milo was vaguely familiar with the current events. President Robert Matthews, the newly elected leader of Kanto, had already made some major changes to the country since taking office. The most controversial of which concerned national security and oddly enough... Pocket Monster laws.

    For decades, ever since the invention of the pokéball had allowed humans to control monsters, one of the most controversial political issues around the world had been and continued to be the treatment of monsters and ethics behind one species (humans) holding such merciless dominance over another (monsters). But it wasn't until recently that technology had become so advanced that the stronger countries of the world were now able to subdue even the strongest monsters and use them as weapons, as fighting machines much stronger than any bullet or man-made gun.

    In Kanto, there had been a growing sense that the country was lacking in the area of Pokémon rights. Organized crime all around the country centered around monster trafficking and the gambling involved in the brutal, unsanctioned underground battle leagues that were going on had been giving Kanto a bad reputation. But that all stopped when President Matthews won the election just a few months ago.

    He had promised to crack down on those underground fight clubs and make sure that monsters were treated with more respect and dignity under his administration, and he was doing just that. Since Matthews had taken office just a few months ago, the list of endangered species of monsters that humans were forbidden to “own” with a pokéball tripled. And Pokémon duels were being strictly sanctioned with several major rule changes. And perhaps most controversial of all, was the president's decision to ban all use of monsters in the Kanto military forces.

    “Stupid government, always making up new stupid rules,” Andy whined as he consoled himself with a heaping spoonful of eggs. “They're the ones who made those stupid summer education classes mandatory for battling, and it says here, that starting this season, they're outlawing the use of any dragon-species monsters!”

    “Wow, really?”

    “Yeah, you can't even own them anymore!”

    “Are you planning on suddenly going out and catching a Dragonair? There's only like two or three people in the history of the KPL who've been able to catch any sort of dragon.”

    “Well, no,” Andy said defensively. “But that's not the point. The point is that now I'm not allowed to even if I could. It's the principle of it. And that's not right!”

    Milo rolled his eyes. He should have known Andy was only upset about how the new laws would affect monster duels.

    “Forget about all that,” Milo said suddenly, the excitement of what he had come to tell Andy in the first place swelling up inside of him. “Guess what?”

    “What?”

    “My mom said I could go! I can do the Battle Quest!”

    Andy dropped his fork, apparently forgetting all about his political rant. “You're kidding?!” he shouted.

    “Battle Quest, you say?” Mr. J said as he came striding into the kitchen with Spearow on his arm and Fawkes at his feet. “Is that that contest I heard about on the news last night?”

    The boys spent the next few minutes explaining every known detail about Hugo Bowers' competition to Mr. J, who seemed genuinely interested.

    “And your mother really gave you the okay to skip out on school to do this thing, Milo?” Mr. J asked.

    “Yeah, I know it sounds crazy!” Milo replied, getting more and more excited by their shocked expressions. “I didn't believe it either, but yeah, she said something about it being a really good learning experience or something... what? What's wrong?”

    Andy just took a swig of juice and looked away from Milo, apparently trying to stall in order to think of what to say.

    “Uh, Milo,” he said finally. “I... I know we were both really excited about the competition last night, with the big announcement and all...”

    “Yea?”

    “But, we weren't really being serious about it were we? We were just kidding around...”

    “Ugh, come on, Andy!” Milo groaned, realizing where the conversation was heading.

    “I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I know.”

    “Don't tell me you're backing out now!”

    “Well, I didn't think there was any way in hell your mom was gonna let you just drop everything to travel around the country! You said so yourself! My parents weren't too thrilled with the idea either.”

    “You were the one going crazy over the announcement. You were the one saying we had to join.”

    “I know, but I thought about it after I got home last night... like, really thought about it. I was really pumped for it, but I mean, do you really think it's a good idea to skip a whole year of school just to do this? We're still just kids. You think we of all people have any chance of winning any of those coins?”

    Milo couldn't believe what he was hearing. It was like listening to a recording of himself from last night being played back to him.

    “Unbelievable,” Milo said with a deep sigh. “My mom loses it and actually agrees to let me go on this crazy trip, and now you're wussin' out on me? This is seriously a once-in-a-lifetime chance, my mom letting me do something like this.”

    “Dude! I have battle tryouts. And school!”

    It was at that moment when Mr. J took an opportunity to join the conversation, which was quickly escalating into a shouting match there at the table.

    “Milo, even if Andy can't go on this Battle Quest, maybe it's something you could still think about doing,” the man said thoughtfully.

    “What? You mean go by myself?” Milo replied, shocked by the suggestion. Even Andy looked a little surprised.

    “Yeah, why not?” Mr. J nodded, his careworn, stubbly face not looking at all like he was kidding. “Even if Andy here wants to go to school and try out for the battle team, that doesn't mean you can't follow your own path and do your own thing.”

    Milo just sort of stared at Mr. J like he had just spoken to him in a foreign language. If the idea of going on a cross-country journey like this had sounded crazy before, it seemed downright laughable to think about doing it all alone.

    Andy had always been the one to push Milo during their childhood and even to this day. He had always been the outgoing go-getter, while Milo was always the timid and introverted one who hesitated to do anything. Whenever Milo would isolate himself from humanity for too long, Andy would be the one to drag him away from his computer to go hang out at the mall or the park. Without Andy, Milo was sure that he wouldn't make it more than a few miles before he would come running back home to his bedroom. If he was to go through with this, Andy would have to be his driving-force.

    “I can't go alone,” Milo insisted, glaring at his friend.

    “It wouldn't be that bad, Lo,” Andy said, looking annoyed that Milo was so upset with him. “What, do you need me to hold your hand for everything?”

    “No! I don't need you to hold my hand,” was all Milo could retort as he sulkingly pushed the food around his plate. He was upset at the childish accusation, but even though he didn't want to admit it, he knew deep down that he did need Andy.

    “Look,” Andy said, softening his tone. “It's not like you'd be all alone. You'd take Fawkes with you, right? And that Spearow too.”

    Milo looked at his Pokémon adoringly, but as he watched Fawkes chasing her own tail in the corner of the kitchen and Spearow in his heavily bandaged wing splint, Milo was exactly filled with confidence that either of his pets were much good at battling.

    “And what if I gave you two an early birthday present this year,” Mr. J said, apparently sensing Milo's apprehensiveness.

    Milo and Andy turned and their eyes grew wide when they saw the old man reach into his jeans pocket. He pulled out two shiny, red and white metal balls, one in each hand, and tossed them at the boys. Milo and Andy both caught one, Milo a bit more awkwardly.

    “Whoa! What are these, Mr. J?” Milo gasped, even though he knew perfectly well what the object itself was.

    “Mrs. Bateman, the lady who works down at the market,” Mr. J explained. “Her grandson, Lenny, worked at that zoo that closed down in Richmont. Most of the monsters were transferred to other zoos, but no one had room for these two little guys. So he sent them to me.”

    “So these monsters are from the Richmont Zoo? They really sent these to you?” Andy was amazed.

    “He knew I had the space for him,” Mr. J said. “It's not like you can keep 'em cooped up in a pokéball forever. Pokémon need a proper place to live, like a farm. A lot of people forget that. They watch the battles on TV and think they're like little genies who only come out when we want them.

    Milo rolled the half-red, half-white metal orb around in his hand. He was in awe. He had never held a pokéball that had contained an actual monster before. The suspense was killing him. He had to know what sort of Pokémon resided inside. He was sure Andy felt the same way. Heck, even Fawkes and Spearow seemed to be interested.

    “Go on, just toss 'em on the floor, boys,” Mr. J said with a smile.

    While Milo carefully dropped his ball on the linoleum floor, Andy reared back and threw his wildly in a perfect KPL trainer imitation. Both landed with a clang and burst open with a spectacular eruption of white light. Milo reveled in the awesomeness of it all. He couldn't believe it. A ritual he had seen so many times on television: the summoning of a Pocket Monster from its capsule.

    Almost like magic, the white light condensed and materialized right where both Milo and Andy's pokéballs had landed. Slowly, the solid forms of both creatures began to take shape.

    The first was a small, burnt-orange colored reptile with smooth skin, large beady eyes and a long whip-like tail, the tip of which seemed to be glowing bright like an ember. It was roughly the same size as Fawkes except that it crawled on all fours lower to the ground. Milo instantly recognized it: a Charmander, a rare, but well-known reptilian species that lived mainly in warm, dry climates down south.

    A few feet away from the Charmander materialized a feline creature with a gorgeous deep midnight blue coat and piercing gold eyes with tufts of electric blue colored fur. It was only slightly bigger than a house cat, and looked kind of like a fiercer and darker version of his grandmother's Persian. Neither Andy nor Milo had ever seen this kind of creature before.

    “Holy shit!” Andy yelled. “What is that, Mr. J?”

    “Watch your mouth!” the man scolded. “This little fella's called a Luxio. A kind of jungle cat from Sinnoh. Pretty rare and can grow up to be really powerful with some training.”

    “Powerful, huh? Sweet, I'll take the Luxio, then!” Andy announced, bending down to scoop the cat up into his arms. “C'meer boy.”

    Not a half-second after Andy had picked up Luxio, the cat began to growl and hiss in the boy's arms. Thousands of tiny sparks began to emanate from each of his individual hairs on his back until they crescendoed into a large flashing blue current that shocked Andy like a lightning strike.

    “OWWW!!!” Andy howled as Luxio escaped his grasp and hopped down to the floor.

    When the effects of the jolt subsided, Andy recoiled and swore loudly. His hands were bright red with the burns he had suffered.

    “Okay, never mind. Milo, he's all yours. I'll take the Charmander,” he said angrily.

    Milo was about to object when suddenly the Luxio calmly walked over to where Milo was seated and started to playfully rub up against his leg. Hardly able to believe it, Milo bent down and carefully stuck his hand out to pet the feline's dark and shiny blue fur. When Luxio didn't object, he ran his hand over the smooth coat and his hand tingled from a much gentler static charge. Luxio purred.

    Andy looked shocked. “Well, he sure likes you. Doesn't he?”

    Andy looked down at Charmander. Since Luxio had apparently accepted Milo, Andy had an expression on his face as though he expected the reptilian monster to do the same to him. He reached over slowly to try to coax Charmander to jump up into his open hand. Charmander ignored Andy and helped itself to some scraps of bacon that had fallen on the floor. Andy, embarrassed, just sort of took his hand back and scowled.

    Milo and Mr. J laughed.

    “Not to worry Andy,” Mr. J said. “They're just youngsters, but they could be pretty strong fighters some day if you train 'em up good. I figured you could use 'em for the battle team at school. That is, if you decide to attend school this year, eh Milo? If not... I'm sure Luxio here would love to go and see the country.”

    “Look, I've already told you guys, I'm not going alone,” Milo said.

    “Yeah, I know,” Mr. J replied. “But even though it sounds scary, Milo, being on your own might even be a good thing for you.”

    “A good thing? How?”

    “Well, it's a Pokémon battling competition isn't it? I might be old, but I still know a thing or two 'bout raising monsters. Whether you're raising 'em to be good plow-pullers on the farm or if you're training 'em to be good fighters... being a good trainer is all about the relationship and closeness you're able to establish with 'em.

    “And by the looks of things,” Mr. J continued, pausing to look at Fawkes, Spearow and Luxio, “you and these three already seem pretty close.”

    Milo shook his head, still not convinced. It was hard to imagine Fawkes, as cute and vulnerable as she looked in Mr. J's lap, becoming any sort of fighter. Same with Spearow, a baby bird with a broken wing from Milo's backyard, and Luxio (despite his recent display of electric shocking ability), a young zoo animal who had been bred in captivity for the viewing pleasure of paying zoo goers, not for fighting.

    Why couldn't Andy and Mr. J see that he really couldn't do it? Despite whatever moral fiber-building opportunities there would be by going solo on a quest like this, there was simply no way he could go alone. What good would having a bunch of monsters with him be if he didn't know the first thing about training one? Whom would he ask for advice along the way? Who would push him to keep going when he faced any sort of opposition?

    “No, I'm serious. I really can't go alone. I really can't.”

    “Dude, then don't go,” Andy said, shrugging. He was obviously tired of arguing. “No one's making you go.”

    Mr. J simply smiled slightly and nodded as though he agreed with Andy.

    Andy was right, Milo realized. Participating in the competition on a whim like this had been nothing but an utterly absurd idea to him the night before. But now, for whatever reason, he found himself clinging to it. No one was holding a gun to his head. Why did he suddenly want to do this so badly? Did he really want to miss school this much?

    Milo relented, feeling a little silly for letting himself push so hard for this. He dropped the issue and tried to just enjoy the breakfast and the company that Mr. J provided. As they continued to eat, he watched as Fawkes, who had made her way over to where Luxio was sitting, shyly introduced herself by sniffing Luxio cautiously. Milo held his breath, fearing that he would have to jump in and intervene if the two monsters didn't like each other. But eventually, it seemed as though both were satisfied by the others scent and both laid down near the foot of Milo's chair.

    Milo did his best to look interested as Andy started excitedly talking about battle tryouts and the best pick-up lines to use on girls at school. He was too busy trying to block out all the things that terrified him about Viridian Academy to listen. Milo was obviously still very scared, but at least the finality and conviction in his mind provided a bit of comfort in that he no longer had to stress about traveling the country alone.


    The final three weeks before school were much the same as the previous couple of months. Aside from the occasional visit to Mr. J's farm to help with cleaning the barn and watering the fields, Milo spent much of his time alone in his room, much to the chagrin of his mother and Andy. Not to mention the fact that Fawkes along with Spearow and Luxio (both of whom had been begrudgingly allowed to join the household by Milo's mother) had quickly grown tired of being cooped up as well.

    Milo's recent isolation, however, had less to do with his obsession with video games and more with his crippling anxiety he was feeling now that he had decided to give up on the childish idea of the Battle Quest. His freshman year at Viridian Academy was now just three days away, and Milo was freaking out.

    On the final Friday evening before the big day, when Milo finally left his bedroom to let his three Pokémon go outside for some fresh air, his mother called him into the kitchen.

    “Yeah?” he demanded rudely once he walked into the kitchen and saw her leaning against the counter.

    His mother, who knew the reason for Milo's stress and resulting crabbiness, had given up trying to fight with him about his attitude. She simply held up a letter-sized white envelope and handed it to him.

    Milo figured it was some sort of welcome letter or a list of necessary school supplies sent from Viridian Academy and grunted angrily as he ripped the edge of the envelope open. He yanked out the folded sheet of paper, unfurled it hastily and reluctantly read, hoping to find that Viridian Academy had somehow been burned down or flooded.

    But it wasn't that. It wasn't anything about school at all. Immediately, the sleek golden letterhead and crisp black font attracted his attention as something much more important-looking.


    ------

    Dear Mr. Youngblood,

    Mr. Ivanovic, the owner of the Greenburgh Lightning, and I would like to take this opportunity to formally thank you for registering for the First Annual Kanto Battle Quest Competition. It is with great pleasure that Mr. Ivanovic and I welcome you as an official participant in this amazing, unprecedented nationwide talent search.

    An adventure of a lifetime awaits you as you will travel all around the country in hopes of assembling and training a world-class team of Pocket Monsters for battle. At year's end, the trainers who are able to locate and defeat my seven Coin Keepers will be eligible for the Battle Quest Championship Tournament, to be held at legendary Indigo Stadium next September.

    The winner of this grand tournament will be crowned champion of this wondrous competition and will be awarded his or her very own professional contract with the Greenburgh Lightning; the dream of a lifetime for many young aspiring Pokémon battlers across the country.

    We invite you to take these next few days before the contest's beginning to get your affairs in order and prepare for your travels. On the first Monday of September, your quest will begin.

    Please visit your nearest Pokémon Center on this day to receive your complimentary travel kit, which will include maps, first-aid supplies and other essentials. You will also receive five free pokéballs and a special cell phone application that will help you identify rare monster species that you might encounter on your journey.

    In addition, you will also receive your first clue to help locate the first Coin Keeper. These seven elite trainers are living all around the country, and will accept battle requests from any trainer. Your challenge will be twofold: first, to seek out all seven, and secondly, the obvious challenge of training your Pokémon team to be powerful enough to beat them.

    In closing, we would like to say once again how excited we are to have you as part of this nationwide event. We hope that it will be a fun, safe and exciting experience for you and your monsters.

    Thank you once again for your enthusiasm and adventurousness. We wish you the best of luck.


    Sincerely yours,

    Hugo Bowers

    -----



    Milo's mind was racing by the time he finished reading. Despite the fact that he was sure Hugo Bowers hadn't personally written the letter, it was still amazing to see Bowers name on the same sheet of paper as his own. He looked up from the letter and saw his mother giving him an appraising look.

    “You did this,” Milo said simply, not asking but declaring. “You registered me for the Battle Quest.”

    Cindy smiled when Milo didn't express displeasure. She nodded.

    Milo looked back down at the unfolded letter he held and read it over again. Despite making the decision weeks ago not to participate in the contest, Milo was now at least mildly curious after reading the letter. He felt a strange feeling of pride as though he had just been invited to join some sort of prestigious club.

    “I know you said you weren't going to do it, but it's been killing me to see you panic so much about school, Milo,” his mother said when he didn't speak. “I figured I'd register you just in case you changed your mind.”

    “Aren't mothers supposed to tell their kids to, you know, face their fears and not run away from them?” Milo asked.

    “You're not running away, sweetie. This'll be good for you. When you do go back to school next year, hopefully this contest will have helped your self-esteem and confidence.”

    “Yeah, or it could kill it even more,” Milo said under his breath.

    He continued to read over the neat, black printed words as if they were being spoken by a calm, soothing voice. At this point, while Milo was still very much afraid of braving these uncharted waters all by himself, suddenly traveling on this journey definitely seemed like the lesser of two evils, especially with how soon the first day of school was.

    Why had he been so scared of traveling on his own anyway? For years, his mother and Andy had practically had to drag him away from his bedroom to interact with others. Solitude had Milo's closest friend, even closer than Andy at times. Why was he suddenly so reluctant to embrace it now?

    He scanned the letter once more. He was beginning to like the idea of going on an epic quest like this. Reading about the journey, the excursion to find the seven Coin Keepers, and about cultivating his team of monsters for battle reminded Milo of many of his favorite video games. A real life adventure like this terrified Milo, but he also felt a definite feeling of excitement beginning to grow inside him. He couldn't believe what he was suddenly considering.

    “It says here I'm supposed to check in at the nearest Pokémon Center,” Milo said, reciting the words from the letter. “What's a Pokémon Center anyways?”

    “Well, there are a bunch of them scattered around the country,” his mother replied. “Your father used to go–” She paused when she saw Milo's reaction to the mention of her former husband. “I... uh, sorry. What I meant was... people who own monsters and travel a lot with them can visit a Pokémon Center to rest and seek medical attention.”

    “Medical attention? So what's the difference between a Pokémon Center and the vet we take Fawkes to?”

    “Well,” his mother said. “They're more like rest stops for travelers. Like a motel, a bathroom, a diner, a gift shop and a hospital all in one.”

    “Okay... but what's the point of them? There's a ton of motels and restaurants all over the place.”

    Milo's mother smiled and gazed thoughtfully upward as she spoke.

    “Well, when I was a little girl, before all these computer games and internet came along, a lot of kids... teenagers mostly, used to spend their summers hiking, exploring Kanto and enjoying all the beautiful countryside and nature along with their monster companions. They'd basically take the entire summer and just travel on foot... camping out under the stars... exploring the world we live in.”

    “What? Why? You mean, they'd just go walk around? Where would they go?” Milo asked.

    “No where. Anywhere. It didn't matter.”

    “Huh?”

    “Milo, it's like what I was talking about before with your competition. The destination isn't as important as the experience. Back then, we didn't need a destination. We made those summer journeys because it was a chance to get out of the house and explore and really see the world around us. We weren't traveling to get somewhere, we were traveling for the experience. We'd take the monsters with us for protection if we knew we'd be traveling around where they lived in the wild... and also just because it was fun to take them with us.”

    “'We'?” Milo asked. “You mean you went on these crazy Pokémon journeys too?”

    Cindy nodded. “When I was probably a year or two older than you, I did travel up north as far as Arden Hills one year. Got to hike over mountains and beautiful forests. I'll never forget it.”

    “Okay, I get it, you were becoming one with nature and going on some spiritual quest to 'get to know yourself better,'” Milo said somewhat mockingly. “But what does that have to do with Pokemon Centers?”

    “Well, with all those teenagers traveling across Kanto every summer, the idea of having rest stops for them to visit came about. Somewhere inexpensive where we and our monsters could rest, get food, supplies, use the telephone and get patched up if we were hurt along the way.”

    “And they still have these Pokemon Center things up and running today?”

    “Yeah, well there are less of them around nowadays. But judging by the sound of that letter, it seems like they might be making a comeback with this new contest.”

    “I still don't get how I've never heard of these places.”

    “Well, we don't have one in Oak Grove, Milo. There used to be one at our old house... but you were too young to remember that. I think the closest one to us now is actually outside of Viridian Forest right before you get to Rockford.

    “Jeez, and I have to walk there?”

    “Oh come on, it's not that far. Just an hour or two on foot, I think.”

    Milo had thought the walk to Viridian Academy each week for his certification classes had been long enough – roughly thirty minutes each way, depending on how fast he walked. But making it all the way past the large town and through the huge forest that served as the border between the next city of Rockford seemed like a lofty goal for one day. Nonetheless, he hadn't lost interest.

    “You can do this, Milo,” he heard his mother say in a very genuine tone.

    Milo didn't say anything. He just nodded and tried his best to force a smile. He thanked her for registering him without giving her a definitive answer about what he was going to do and made his way back up to his room, still lost in his thoughts.

    He could do this. His mother was right. Milo sat down on his bed and close his eyes, imagining what it would be like to leave home and travel around the country on his own. As he had his eyes closed, however, he felt something jump up onto his bed with him. He opened his eyes to see Fawkes and Luxio giving him loving looks while Spearow, whose wing was now almost completely healed, flew over from its perch to land on Milo's shoulder.

    Andy had been right. With his three new companions, Milo wouldn't be alone. And while Milo was definitely fearful about his ability to train these three to actually win a battle, nothing compared to the anxiety he felt when he imagined what high school would be like.

    For the next few hours, Milo tried to think of reasons not to go through with it. He tried to think about all the potential dangers he might face, about the untamed, wild monsters he might encounter and about the prospect of venturing so far away from home for the very first time. But the more he thought about it, the more excited he became.

    Much to Milo's utter surprise, he realized that his excitement had begun to be less about having the opportunity to escape school and more about legitimate enthusiasm to partake in an adventure unlike any he had ever been on. As he crawled into bed, he realized that after spending so much time out of his teenage life fantasizing about becoming one of the characters in his video, this was his chance to do just that. This was his chance to actually live the adventure.


    At last, when the first Monday of September finally came, Milo awoke to the rumbling sounds of thunder.

    He opened his eyes; the gray daylight sneaking in through edges of the window shades let him know that the morning he had both dreaded and excitedly welcomed was finally here. The steady pitter-patter of rain drops against the roof directly above seemed to act as tiny shouts of encouragement as Milo quickly swung his legs out of bed.

    Milo threw on his favorite jeans and black hooded sweatshirt. He grabbed the black backpack that he had stocked the night previous with a change of clothes, toiletries and small food items with a small rolled-up sleeping back attached to the top. Seeing that Fawkes and Luxio were not there and Spearow was not on its perch, Milo assumed they had all gone to the kitchen for breakfast already. He secured the bag on his back and headed down the hall as well.

    Once he reached the landing, Milo was shocked to see Andy and Mr. J sitting alongside Milo's mother at the kitchen. Mr. J was cradling Fawkes in his arms.

    “Mornin' Milo,” he greeted warmly.

    “Ready for the big day, bud?” his mother said.

    “I can't believe you're actually doing it!” Andy chimed excitedly.

    Milo, who was already unspeakably nervous and scared, wasn't too pleased to see that he had his own farewell brigade. He was going to have a hard enough time actually going through with this without the tearful farewell from the adults and the good-natured ribbing from Andy.

    “Uh, yeah,” Milo said uneasily. “I think I'm ready.”

    “Fawkes here sure is fixing to get goin, aren't you, girl?”

    Fawkes barked excitedly and responded favorably to Mr. J scratching her behind the ears. He and Milo's mother chuckled at the furry pup's exuberance.

    “Where's Luxio and Spearow?” Milo asked. “They weren't in my room.”

    “Here they are,” Mr. J said with a smile as he held up two pokéballs, one in each hand. “You forgot Luxio's ball at my house, and I figured Spearow could use one too. Easier to carry this way.”

    Milo took the orbs from Mr. J and tossed them on the floor. With a flash of light, both Pokémon appeared next to Milo. He chuckled at the two monsters' expressions once they were released, like they had just been in a dark room for a long time before the lights had been turned on.

    Once the three Pokémon saw Milo had his backpack on and was dressed to leave, all three signaled that they too were ready to go on an adventure. Fawkes leaped up out of Mr. J's arms and scampered over to the boy and stood tall and proud, barking once again to show that she was ready. Luxio did the same, and Spearow fluttered over and took his normal spot on Milo's shoulder.

    “Oh, that's so precious!” his mother whaled. “Hold on! Don't you go anywhere yet, I gotta get my camera!”

    “Oh, dear god,” Milo groaned as his mother dashed out of the kitchen.

    Mr. J chuckled and took a sip of coffee. He smiled at Milo and shook his head.

    “I remember when you were barely knee-high on me, kid. It's true what they say, you kids do grow up fast, lemme tell 'ya.”

    “Don't you start too, Mr. J,” Milo replied, still standing by the door with his pets and feeling foolish standing and waiting for his mother to return with her camera. Andy was struggling not to laugh.

    “Nah, let your mom be, boy,” the man said. “You're leaving home for the first time. She raised you, Milo. She fed you and wiped your ass... and she did it all by herself. You let her take whatever pictures she wants. She wiped your ass, Milo.”

    Milo and Andy laughed at the man's comment. It felt good to laugh; it eased his nerves slightly. He knew Mr. J was right. His mother deserved this moment.

    “You think I got a chance, Mr. J?” Milo let slip suddenly. He didn't care if Andy heard him sounding so vulnerable. He realized he had be dying to ask someone besides his mother the question.

    “A chance?”

    “Yeah, you know. A chance to win any of these coins... to actually do well in this contest?”

    Mr. J looked surprised to hear the question.

    “Why wouldn't you? You got the same chance as anybody else.”

    “I dunno about that,” Milo argued. “There's gonna be people with tons of powerful monsters who've probably been in a bunch of battles before. I mean, all I have is these three.”

    Even though he doubted Fawkes, Spearow and Luxio could understand the indirect insult, Milo grimaced at the insensitivity of his comment. Unfortunately, it was true though, he felt. While he was happy to have all three of them around, they weren't exactly full-grown fighting machines.

    “Look boy, have you ever heard that old saying, 'It's not about the size of the monster in the fight, it's about the size of the fight in the monster.'?”

    “Sounds corny,” Milo said.

    “Well, maybe, but the point is that it doesn't matter what kind of shiny, fancy Pokémon the other people have. It doesn't matter if you've got Fawkes and they have a damn Gyarados. It's all about how much heart your monsters have and how well the trainer prepares them.”

    Milo rolled his eyes a little, but hoped Mr. J hadn't seen. What the man was saying sounded good, like something from an after-school special, but definitely corny. Milo knew well enough from watching the KPL that the sheer power and strength a Pokémon possessed was way more important than “heart” and determination.

    Just then, Milo's mother returned with her camera. She also held something red in her other hand, though. It wasn't until she handed the object to Milo that he realized what it was.

    “Figured you could use a hat on your journey so you don't get sunburn,” she said, looking at Milo with red, puffy eyes, as though she had been crying. “This Battle Quest thing is something I know Danny would have loved to go on.”

    Milo took the familiar tattered red baseball cap that had once belonged to his older brother and held it without saying a word.

    “I know it sounds silly,” Cindy continued, sounding a bit embarrassed. “But maybe it might be nice to take a piece of Danny along with you, sweetie. Might make you feel a little less alone. He'll be with you every step of the way.”

    Milo didn't think that sounded silly at all. Certainly not any sillier than talking to a photograph of his late brother before bed every night. It was true that Danny Youngblood had been an exceptional Pokémon trainer during his short lifetime, and the childish hope that wearing his old hat might somehow pass some of that skill to Milo was enough to convince him.

    Milo glanced over and saw that Mr. J was giving him an approving nod. He donned the red cap, which fit surprisingly well over his shaggy hair, and his mother began to cry again as she snapped multiple photographs of Milo and his three young monsters at the door.

    “Thanks, mom,” Milo said, forcing himself to look her in the eyes. “I think I'm ready to go now.”

    Milo couldn't believe he was saying it, but it was true. After all the anxiousness and fear he had felt over the past few days leading up to this moment, Milo was surprised at how ready he was. The front door was right there... the idea of just walking through it seemed easier than he would have imagined.

    So after enduring the nearly ten minute long photo shoot his mother insisted upon, Milo returned Spearow and Luxio to their respective pokéballs.

    “Good luck out there, dude,” Andy finally said as Milo opened the door to leave. Up until now, Andy, who had never been very good with emotional situations, had been unusually quiet. “Go out there and catch a ton of monsters and kick some Coin Keeper ass.”

    Milo laughed. “Good luck at tryouts, man,” he replied. “And good luck with school. Let me know how bad it is.”

    Both boys tried their best to remain stone-faced as they gave each other a spirited high-five. Cindy proceeded to cry even more vocally when she saw this.

    “Good luck, Milo,” Mr. J said. “Just do your best, and remember that we're all just a phone call away.”

    With a deep breath, Milo opened the front door, revealing the rainy weather and the surprisingly stiff, cool breeze. The muddy dirt path and the gloomy gray skies certainly didn't provide the ideal conditions for this milestone in Milo's life. He tried to ignore the magnitude of this moment, the first time he would be leaving home like this.

    “Here, take your umbrella, Milo,” his mom instructed in between sobs and handed it to him. “You know how much Fawkes hates the rain.”

    Deciding that now was as good a time as any, Milo bid his final farewell before forcing his right foot to stride forward. It took more effort to will his left foot to follow. He repeated this until he was standing just outside of the door, feeling the rain drops falling over him. Realizing the weather conditions, Milo's Vulpix leaped up into his arms, and he opened the umbrella to shield them both from the cold shower.

    He took one last look back at his mother, Andy, Mr. J and the comfy, warm house in which they were standing. But he forced himself to turn back and continue to walk.

    And with that, Milo Youngblood, with Fawkes in his arms and Luxio and Spearow in his pocket, began his journey.

    ---

    To be continued...
    Last edited by Legacy; 14th December 2011 at 01:58 AM.

    Coming Soon...

  15. #15
    Rocking the Lucario Thundagere's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pocket Monsters: The Battle Quest (3)

    And with that, Milo Youngblood, with Fawkes in his arms and Shinx and Spearow in his pocket, began his journey.
    Luxio :)
    And speaking of Luxio, I'm rather pleased with that change. Making Shinx into Luxio ups it's power and makes a few of the later scenes more believable. The story as a whole has massively improved, and I'm impressed.
    I'm glad to see that he has these three solid, but not crazy strong Pokémon, as it makes it realistic yet exciting. It's definitely heading in interesting directions, but I can't say much more at this point, only that I look forward to more!

    Made by Blue Dragon!

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