Saffron isn’t that far from Cerulean. Only a few miles walk along a straight road. I was still carrying Psyke as we strolled along. Tim didn’t have any of his Pokémon out. He had decided to come with me into Saffron for at least a little while.
Up ahead, the gatehouse loomed. Saffron City was fenced off, it always had been. I wasn’t sure why but that’s just the way it worked. We pushed open the doors of the small building and proceeded through.
Tim and I looked up. The guard had gotten up from his desk in the side of the room.
“What’d we do?” I asked.
“The way is closed.”
“So how do we get into the city?” asked Tim.
“You don’t, it’s off limits,” said the guard, crossing his arms and standing in front of us, staring down his nose.
“You can’t close off an entire city!” I exclaimed.
“Well it looks like I just did,” said the guard, pompously.
Tim looked at him, “you mean you closed it off just now? Sounds to me like you’re just making stuff up.”
“I don’t have time to explain things to a stupid kid! If you go through, you’ll be in trouble!”
I grabbed Tim’s arm, “Let’s go. We’re not getting in.”
My friend glared at the guard, but complied.
“If you just want to get around the city, there’s an underground tunnel to Vermillion just outside,” said the man behind us.
Outside, we gathered our thoughts.
“That… was weird” said Tim.
“I’m more concerned about how I’m going to get to Sabrina than why it’s blocked off now. “ I responded.
“I suppose you could just come with me, and go to Vermillion. Sabrina can wait until we find a way in.” he suggested.
“No,” I said, “I don’t know why, but I feel like I need to get in there as soon as possible.”
“Alright then,” Tim conceded, “I’ll try to come in later, if not, meet me in Vermillion City or Celadon.”
“You bet.” I replied.
Tim walked off towards the building leading to the tunnels. I stood for a minute and watched him go. He seemed more than a little angry that we were separated again already. Nevertheless, I knew for some reason, I had to do this. But how?
I looked down at Psyke. But of course… My Pokémon looked at me quizzically.
“Psyke,” I started, “We need to get to the other side of that fence.” I pointed towards the city. “Both of us. Can you even do that?”
Abra cocked its head, nodded, tensed, and then we were inside. Teleportation was nothing like I had suspected. There was no odd sensation or feeling beyond a slight prickling numbness in my limbs. There was no flash or bang, it just happened.
Blinking away my surprise, I looked around at the huge buildings that now surrounded Abra and me. I began walking slowly through the streets, looking for the gym. I glanced around for someone to ask for directions, but no one was there. That was peculiar…
Saffron City was easily the largest city I had ever been in, although that wasn’t saying much. Apartment complexes, businesses, and skyscrapers towered around me.
As I wandered through the streets I thought about Tim. I was a little worried for him, as he hadn’t been through the things that I had. If Team Rocket showed up, he would be in big trouble. Of course, there was a good chance that they wouldn’t. It was hard to make a generalization of what the world was really like.
I had grown up in such a protective environment. They didn’t teach us much at all about the outside world back at school. Or maybe they did, I could hardly remember any of my schooling despite the fact that it hadn’t even ended six months ago.
I had spent so much time daydreaming about Pokémon and my future adventures with them that I hadn’t paid any attention in class. Final exams had been hell, but they hadn’t mattered to me. As long as I graduated, I figured, I would be fine. Tim had a similar point of view. David had been the intellectual one.
David had actually gotten a scholarship to go study at a college somewhere in Hoenn but decided to journey instead. It had taken him a while to convince his parents that this was a good idea, but it had finally paid off.
I wondered about David. He had left a while before me, so he was probably ahead somewhere, despite turning around to visit home after Cerulean. I doubted Tim and I would catch up to him, he had been better than the both of us at practically everything. I didn’t think Pokémon were an exception.
Suddenly, I saw a pair of men in dark clothes exit a building and begin walking down the road away from me. I almost called out to them but stopped when something clicked in my brain. Those couldn’t be…
My train of thought was interrupted by someone grabbing my arm and pulling me into an alley. I nearly dropped Psyke in my attempt to break free of my assailant’s grip.
“Easy, kid. You don’t want to get caught by those Rockets do you?”
I stopped struggling and looked at the man. He was short, shorter than me at least, and relatively pudgy. Beside him stood a Drowzee, whom he bore a striking resemblance to.
“Those were Rockets? What are they doing here? Where is everybody? Who are you?”
The man just shook off my explosion of questions.
“Not now,” he said, “just follow me.” He began walking down the alleyway.
I was skeptical. “Where am I following you to?”
“The only safe place in the city for trainers, the Saffron City Gym,” the man responded.
Satisfied, but still wary, I followed him for a couple minutes. We stopped at every turn and looked around the corner, presumably for Rockets. Eventually we came to the giant building labeled as the Saffron City Gym.
The man pulled a key out of his pocket and fumbled with the door for a second before unlocking it and going inside, gesturing for me to follow.
I slipped inside after him, clutching Psyke tightly. This gym, rather than being laid out as one huge room, looked more like an office complex. It even smelled like leather. I stood in what appeared to be a stark lobby. There was poor lighting and no furniture.
Then almost out of nowhere appeared a tall woman, probably in her late 20s. She had long dark hair and cold eyes. I recognized her as Sabrina, the Saffron City Gym Leader. She was glaring down at the man.
“Evan, I told you not to leave the building under any circumstances. Any and all training you need to do can be done here,” scorned Sabrina.
The man cowered slightly. “I’m sorry ma’am, I was just trying to go catch a new Pokémon.” His Drowzee nodded in agreement.
The tall woman sighed. “Just remember that you need to follow rules as long as you seek refuge here. Now get along, I want to speak with the newcomer.”
Evan scuttled off and Sabrina turned to me. “You say Criss sent you?” she asked me.
I was startled. “I didn’t… but yes. How’d you know? What’d you mean by using this gym as refuge? Where is everyone? Why is the city closed off?”
She ignored me and looked into my eyes for a second before saying, “Follow. No questions now.”
I followed her off down the hallway to the left. We stopped at the door to a small room.
The room was empty except for a single chair against the wall.
“Sit,” commanded Sabrina. I sat. At that moment, Psyke awoke and looked around the room confusedly. “Now close your eyes and empty your mind.”
What was she talking about? What was going on? I hesitantly shut my eyes.
“No questions now. Empty your mind.”
Did she just read my mind?
“No I didn’t, not exactly. Empty your mind, now.”
I was intimidated to say the least. I tried my best to think of nothing, I cast aside my worries and musings but still found it hard to think of nothing. Was that even possible?
“No, it’s not. Good so far, now think of your Abra. Only your Abra and nothing more. Think of memories, ideas, think entirely of Abra.”
I was still confused. But I obeyed. I let my mind wander through memories of the psychic type, thoughts, even dreams. Suddenly, something happened. My eyes were open, I was… shorter? I had no control over my body. My head turned and looked up. There I saw myself, eyes screwed shut and a look of surprise on my face. Then I realized it, I was Psyke!
My eyes jumped open and I was staring straight at Sabrina. “What the hell just happened?”
Again she said, “No questions. Close your eyes again and empty your mind. I’m going to try something.”
I was even more hesitant this time but did as she ordered. I nervously anticipated something happening like before, but nothing did.
“Very good, open your eyes and come with me. I will answer your questions now.”
I got up and followed her out of the room. We continued down the dimly lit hallway. I tried hard to wrap my head around what had happened in the last 10 minutes. After a few seconds, I figured out the questions I needed answered immediately and what could wait. Sabrina didn’t seem like the kind of person to be pestering for information. Sort of like Criss but even sterner, if that was possible.
“What was it that I just experienced back there?”
“You witnessed your first psychic connection,” she answered, “You seem to be one of the few people who have the ability to expand your mind beyond your body and into the souls of others. This enables you to connect with Pokémon. Psychic types will be rather easy because of their own aura, and other types can be connected to with some training.”
I was completely and utterly blown away. “Psychic powers? What? That’s not even…”
“Possible? Isn’t it? Psychic Pokémon can do it so why not humans? It’s just rarer for us. You have the gift, as does Criss, and to some extent Evan, who you met earlier. I have the power as well, but on a much higher level.”
“So I can read minds?” I asked skeptically.
“No. With training, you may be able to detect the emotions of others but I doubt it. I have that ability, and combined with some experience and observation, it can be incredibly similar to reading minds.”
“What exactly did you do, that second time I closed my eyes?”
“I looked into your mind. At your aura. I did it to determine the level of your gift. You seem exceptional, a little better than Criss, but only some. Training you will be interesting. Training is what you want, isn’t it? And I don’t believe I asked your name?
“I’m Keith. And yes, I do want training. Criss said you could teach me to be a better Pokémon trainer. She didn’t say anything about being a psychic though…”
“I wouldn’t think so,” said Sabrina, smiling grimly, “it’s not something you really tell other people. On another note, I noticed something when I was inspecting your mind. You’ve been tampered with, a psychic being has altered your mind somehow. I don’t know exactly but I would think something to do with emotional reactions.”
I knew what this was about. I knew exactly what this was about. That Pokémon I saw. The terror was rising in me again. I looked at Sabrina and she looked back into my eyes. I was sure she could sense my fear but I tried to play it cool.
“Hmm, that’s weird” I said, nonchalantly.
We then turned a corner into a large room that was undoubtedly the main battle stadium. It was almost identical to Brock’s, except slightly larger, cleaner, and more brightly lit. I squinted my eyes as they adjusted to the new light.
“This is where a majority of your training will take place.”
“How long does the training last?” I asked.
“It depends on your competence, your work ethic, and how much you are willing to learn. It’s all up to you. You could stay here years and still be learning. Or you could stay here only a few days but still be that much more prepared for what lies ahead.”
“Well let’s get started then.”
See what I mean? I definitely know I need to work on my descriptions of the psychic connections, they're awfully vague. Next chapter will be up tomorrow or the next day. I'll try to keep this on the front page.
Next time: Keith learns to kick ass and take names, Evan's resemblance to his Drowzee is briefly reiterated, and, what's this? A little background on Criss?