The morning light had eventually made its way through the Pokécenter window, though it was faint and unable to create distinguishable shadows due to being far more muffled than it had been the day before. Dark gray clouds had gathered together over the skies of northern Kanto as if to try and make up for their recent absence. Rain was starting to fall on the buildings below and seemed to hint at more to come. All color and life seemed to be completely taken over by the bleak sky above.
Still, there was something undeniably peaceful about the sound of raindrops on the roof, the first thing any person would hear when they awoke.
Flip had not slept well that night. This was not surprising, actually, considering the situation. It was his first night away from home in a long time, and the beds at his house were noticeably better than the ones at the Pokécenter. Also, he was for the first time sleeping in the same room with a girl he was rapidly falling head over heels in love with. Finally, on top of all this, one may have noticed during the night before that this is a boy with nightmares, and they seem to be created from paranoia and who knows what else. So, with all this taken into consideration, it is easy to tell why Cascata awoke first, looking far more refreshed and renewed than he would.
She sat up on the edge of the bed and stretched once before taking a look out the window. "Rain..." she said to herself, despite the fact that the weather was very obvious. A small sigh escaped her lips. "I hope it won't slow us down. Going through Mount Moon takes a long time."
Cascata hopped onto the floor and looked at Flip. As already mentioned, he was still sleeping, curled up beneath the covers and looking very cold. Dratini was coiled up beside him. She shook her head. "If he sleeps in again...
"Good morning, Nurse Joy!" Cascata said in a cheerful voice as she entered the lobby of the Pokécenter.
The Nurse Joy looked up from behind the counter where she was typing something on the computer. "Oh! Good morning...Cassandra?"
She did her best to not break her smile. "Uh, Cascata. Close, though!"
The Joy laughed. "Right, Cascata. I remember now. Sorry about that."
"No, it's alright..." Cascata looked outside again. "Say, Nurse Joy, do you know how difficult it would be to travel on Mount Moon in this weather? I was hoping that after going to the museum, I could still have time to go through Mount Moon and make it to Cerulean city before-"
"Cascata, this better be some sort of joke!" Nurse Joy had stopped working on the computer and was now glaring at the little girl seriously. "Mount Moon is dangerous to travel on in the rain! With all the mining people do to find Moon Stones and fossils there, even a slight drizzle can loosen up the rocks and stones and cause dangerous mudslides. Haven't you heard the stories? One trainer almost got killed because he slipped while trying to walk on a steep part of it! And another one had her leg get trapped beneath a boulder! Even if you were insane enough to try and travel through it, it's almost certain that they've closed all routes off for trainers in a storm like this."
"Eep! Sorry!" she said, lowering her head. "I didn't know, really! I hadn't even thought about anything like that. I'm sorry."
Joy sighed and returned to typing on the computer. "You shouldn't be apologizing to me. You should be apologizing to yourself. Anyway, Diglett's Cave should be fairly safe to travel in, but that doesn't go to Cerulean City. You probably want to challenge the gym leader there, right?"
Cascata nodded. "Something like that. I suppose it's what a lot of trainers do, then?"
"You have no idea. Almost all trainers used to come here first and then head through Mount Moon to Cerulean. However, you probably already know that we've been without a gym leader for a while. Fewer and fewer trainers are coming each day...did you notice that there were almost no other trainers were staying here last night besides you and your friend?"
Cascata thought back. "Yeah...in fact, I think there was only one other person...so, there's no new gym leader yet? That's a shame."
The Nurse Joy sighed. "There may not be a new one for a while. The last one's been here so long...longer than most people expected, actually. He never seemed very content as a gym leader. Ever since he quit, nobody knows what to do. I think some local trainers were thinking about holding a competition for a new one, but...so far, there's no solution in sight." She shook her head and laughed off the sad expression which had crossed her face. "Before I forget, that friend of yours...Flip, he said his name was? Well, the forms he filled out have all been processed. His Pokédex is being teleported here as we speak. You might want to wake him up."
"Oh, sure!" she responded, and quickly turned around and went back into the room with all the beds for trainers. It looked different now since what she had been told made her notice just how many beds were empty in the room. The pattern of the perfectly lined up beds with flawlessly tucked in sheets was broken near the end by her own bed, which a Chansey was already working on smoothing out like the others, and the one which still had Flip curled up in it. He hadn't moved an inch.
She shook him gently. "Wake up, Flip," she said softly. He made little response. "Flip?" Still nothing. She shook him harder. "Come on, Flip, please wake up."
He made a noise too soft to distinguish and shifted slightly so the blanket was covering him even more. The Chansey that was taking care of Cascata's bed, seeing the problem, turned around and lifted Flip up in one hand, slapping his back and forth across the face several times. It was now obvious he was awake, so the Chansey set him down gently on the bed again and quickly finished smoothing out the sheets. It smiled at Cascata and said, "Chansey!" before skipping out, leaving the two in a shocked state.
"Sorry," Cascata apologized, breaking the silence. "I don't know...why it did that. I never knew Chanseys could be...so..."
"It's not your fault, Cass," he said, rubbing his cheek. "I don't know why it did that either. Anyway, why'd you wake me up? Are we leaving soon or something?"
"No. In fact, we can't leave Pewter City. Nurse Joy said it's too dangerous to travel on Mount Moon in the rain." She looked out the window again. The weather was already starting to get worse. "But your Pokédex is going to be ready very soon. Besides, we can still go to see the museum, right?"
"Oh, sure! Let me go get dressed and I'll meet you in the lobby," he said, standing up off his bed. Cascata nodded, and left the same way she had entered. Flip paused for a moment, listening to the rain slowly increase in intensity. He sighed and started gathering clean clothes from his backpack.
Nurse Joy smiled in her usual cheery manner. "Flip, allow me to present you with your Pokédex. You are now officially a registered trainer who must follow the rules set down by the Pokémon League. This is the beginning of your Pokémon journey! Good luck!" With that, she held out a black Pokédex. In the corner, there were five numbers in gold that glinted in the sun; his ID number.
He looked surprised as he took it in his hand. "Black and gold...?"
Cascata quickly took this opportunity to explain. "Every time they come out with a new edition of the Pokédex, they come up with a new design for it in two colors to give new trainers. For the past few years, they've been using this one...it comes in black and white. The black one has gold for the ID number and buttons, and the white one has silver." She pulled out her own. It was identical to his, except the colors were different; it was, just as she said, white and silver instead. She flipped it open to show the many buttons, all silver.
"Interesting..." he said to himself, looking at the inside of his. "That's an interesting coincidence."
"What do you mean?" Nurse Joy asked.
"Yeah, Flip, what is it?" Cascata said.
He laughed. "Haven't you noticed? Pretty much all of my things are black, gold, or both. They're my favorite colors."
Cascata laughed as well. The Joy just smiled, saying, "Yes, well, I suppose that was a stroke of good luck, wasn't it? Anyway, if you two want to go to the museum, I would suggest you head over there right now. It's a popular place for elementary school kids to have field trips, and most tend to arrive within the next hour or so. So, if you leave right now, you'll probably be able to see the more popular exhibits before it gets very crowded."
Flip and Cascata looked at one another and nodded. "Thanks for telling us, Nurse Joy. We'll get going right now," Flip said, and the two started walking out.
At the door, however, another trainer was walking in, wearing a purple coat like a cloak and with a large Charizard behind her. Flip and Cascata had not turned around yet, and Flip accidentally collided into this person and fell to the floor.
"Hey! Watch it!" the trainer growled in an obviously female voice. They could see the person glaring at them with half-open eyes, and a lock of dark brown hair had fallen from the safety of her hood. She seemed to have a rather broad and buxom figure compared most girls one would meet, and she was tall as well; she could have easily rested her chin atop the mousy Cascata's head. She and her Charizard both had something very intimidating about them as they stared angrily at the blond-haired boy.
"Sorry," Flip said, standing up and rubbing the back of his head. "I didn't see you there. And I don't think you were paying attention to where you were going either..."
She snorted, looking down at him with distaste. "Well, don't let it happen again, twerp." The Charizard snorted as well, and two small rings of smoke came from its nostrils.
Flip looked stunned for a moment at the fierce tone of her voice, but forced himself to walk away from her and towards his goal of the Pokécenter door. Cascata bent over and whispered in his ear, "Sheesh, what's with that girl? I only just met her, and I think I already don't like her..."
The trainer watched the two leave and did not turn around until they were well out of sight. She then turned to face Nurse Joy, who was working on the computer again. A Chansey had started cleaning off the counter. A mischievous grin crossed her face. "Hello, Nurse Joy!" she said in a much friendlier voice than she had used with Flip. "Awful weather, isn't it?"
Nurse Joy did not look up. She apparently had not noticed the scene between the trainers. "Oh, yes, horrible! But I hear it's going to be nice again tomorrow. Lots of sun."
The trainer walked up to the counter and leaned on it, pushing the Chansey aside. "Really? That's good to hear," she said, reaching into her pocket.
The Nurse Joy typed a little bit more, than turned to face the newcomer. "So, how can I help you? A standard healing of your team, I presume?" She was still smiling.
"Oh, no, actually, I came to pick up some Pokémon," the girl said. Her hand tightened around something.
"Really? I don't recognize you...well, I have been a bit forgetful lately. If you'll just give me your name, identification, and the name of the Pokémon you left here, I'll be happy to go and get it for you."
The girl laughed. "Oh...it's not my Pokémon I'm here for..."
Joy looked surprised. "Oh, is it a friend's? Well, you'll need their identification, then, because-"
"You don't understand," she said, still cheerfully, and in one move she pulled out a gun and pointed it at the nurse. "I'm here to pick up allthe Pokémon."
Nurse Joy screamed.
The Chansey, trained for situations like this, dropped its cleaning cloth and dove to knock the gun out of the girl's hand. However, it was stopped in midair by the large Charizard, who threw it against the wall. The lizard breathed a circle of flame which surrounded the normal type Pokémon. Every time the Chansey tried to move it got a nasty burn, so eventually it had no choice but to sit and watch the events unfold through tear-filled eyes.
The girl grinned a big, terrifying smile. "Your little Chansey can't hurt me. My Charizard is more than strong enough to take them all down."
A tear rolled down the Joy's cheek. "P-please! This is a place of peace where the sick and injured are treated! We want no trouble!"
Her grin broadened a little. "Oh, is that so? Well, then, just hand over all the Pokémon and I'll be on my way. No trouble at all."
"No!" the Joy responded, digging up all the bravery she could. "I can't let you!"
The trainer's smile dropped and she sighed. "Your choice."
Her finger tightened on the trigger. There was a flash and Nurse Joy fell to the ground.
She was frightened. The bullet had only hit her arm, which was a far better place for it to hit than, say, any place that had vital organs. Still, it was hard to draw relief from this fact considering that there was still a girl robbing the Pokécenter with a loaded gun she was not afraid to fire. She stayed as still as possible on the floor as the trainer walked past the desk and towards the room where Pokémon were stored.
Flip looked into the display case. The room was dark, so the only illumination came from inside the tank itself. There was a variety of strange artifacts from an ancient city inside, and each had hieroglyphics he had never seen before engraved into their surface. If he looked at them carefully, they almost resembled different Pokémon...
"Come on, Flip, let's take a look at the fossils!" Cascata said, looking over her shoulder to the entrance to the next room. She could see a big sign for the newest exhibit. "I really want to see the 'Moon Dragon' fossils before it starts getting crowded..."
He sighed. "Okay. But can we come back here later? I'd like to look at these some more."
She lowered her head. "Oh, sorry! No, take all the time you want. Sorry."
Flip smiled and shook his head. "What on earth are you talking about? You convince me to go and you immediately say we don't have to." He began walking towards the fossils. "Come on, Cassie." She scurried to catch up with him.
The fossils were many different varieties, with some very nice ones of Kabuto and Omanyte which apparently had been found in Mount Moon itself. Not too far of it were the evolutions of the two, though a long crack split the Kabutops fossil in half. There were some strange ones from the Hoenn region on the opposite side of the room, and a skeleton of an Aerodactyl hung from the ceiling above them in a pose that suggested it was about to attack them with its sharp teeth. There were many other fossils, most of which were much harder to identify, but the main focus of the large room was the entrance to another.
This was where all the signs had been pointing, and there was a banner across the large doorway with the words "MOON DRAGONS" written in large letters. There was a large crowd inside it, with many more people entering than leaving. Flip and Cascata were able to weave through the people and stand behind a class of small children who were having their guide talk to them about the first fossil, which was of some sort of lizard like creature about the same size as a Charmander.
"...though fossils of the Vapdrageen have also been found in other places, such as the Lunar Bay area. As you can see, it was small, no bigger than some unevolved Pokémon you could find today. If you'll notice to the left of it, there is a model of what we believe the Vapdrageen looked like..." the guide said, while the children pressed their hands and faces against the glass that separated them from the exhibit.
The model which had just been mentioned was the exact same size as the fossil itself, and even in the same pose; slightly curled up with the tail curving in the opposite direction as if to form an S shape. It had very large, snake-like eyes, and its ears, fingers, and toes were all webbed. The model, however, had no color, and thus its eyes, skin, and claws were all the same shade of gray as the stone which the fossil was in.
"Now then," the guide said, doing his best to move all the children towards the next fossil, still unaware of Flip and Cascata following and listening as well, "if you'll come over here, you'll be able to see the Vapdrageen's evolution, Vapdragoon. These tend to be found near places like Evolution Mountain or where there are a surplus of Water Stones, and so, logically, it is believed Vapdrageen evolved into Vapdragoon when it came into contact with a Water Stone. You may notice that the wings on its back are rather strangely shaped...anyone care to guess why?"
The kids thought hard. They studied the model of the Vapdragoon carefully; it looked like a very large Vapdragoon in many ways, but the main difference was the appearance of the two large wings sprouting from its arms. A little boy raised his hand. "They're not coming from the back! Dragon wings usually come from the back!"
The guide smiled. "Yes, good observation! Unlike most other dragons, the Vapdragoon's wings come from the arms in the same manner as a bat's wings would. Now, here's the tricky part...can you figure out why?"
The kids all looked very thoughtful, and Cascata and Flip started thinking hard as well. Then, Cascata said, "I can't even picture this creature flying..."
The guide looked surprised. "Who're you? You're not in this class, are you?"
Cascata's face turned red. "Oh, no, sorry! My friend and I were just following along..."
The guide laughed. "Oh, that's fine. I was just going to say, you looked a little old to be third graders. Anyway, yes, the wings are large, but it'd be impossible for the Vapdragoon to do much more than hover off the ground with them. They were not meant for flying!"
The children looked confused. "But if the wings weren't for flying, what were they for?" one asked.
The guide smiled. "That's the same question many scientists themselves have asked for a long time. Almost all have agreed that the main use for them would have been for it to swim more quickly in the water, since that is where most of them lived and hunted. We may never know if this is the real answer or not. Now, then, let's move on to the newest fossil found in Mount Moon, the very heart of the Moon Dragons exhibit..."
He led them all towards the most crowded part of the enormous room, from which a giant fossil rose towards the ceiling. It was a skeleton like the others, but at least three times taller than any of the humans staring at it. The two arms were spread to either side of it with the hands curving inwards towards it, and the wing bones coming off it showed a wingspan at least as long as it was tall if not more so. Above them was a second set of wings, though these were somewhat smaller than the first pair. The webbed ears seem to encircle its face like a halo.
"Now, then, there is no information on this Pokémon whatsoever. This is the first of its kind ever found, and there are no ancient records of it as there were for Vapdrageen and Vapdragoon. Since it was found in Mount Moon, we have begun calling it Lunadrago the Moon Dragon...and we are eagerly searching for another fossil of this magnificent creature," the guide recited from memory.
The children looked up wide-eyed. A few 'ooh's and 'aah's came from them as they tried to imagine what an incredible skeleton would look like with flesh on it.
Flip's stomach growled. "Hey, Cascata, after we finish looking around at this exhibit, want to go grab lunch?"
She turned, surprised. "You sure? We won't be able to get back in without paying..."
He smiled. "Well, it's not exactly expensive. Besides, it's not like seeing the other things was that much of a big deal. We can see them some other time."
Cascata nodded. She looked back at the fossil again. "It's hard to believe a creature like that could have really existed..."
A girl with pink hair tied up in a large white bow was looking at a display of moon stones. She smiled as she moved her head back and forth just to watch the way the colors on its surface changed ever so slightly in the light. Behind her, a teacher was talking about some other evolution stones to her class of small children, probably only in first or second grade.
"Now, the one with a lightning bolt on it is a Thunder Stone. Do any of you remember what Pokémon evolves with a Thunder Stone?" she asked.
"Pikachu!" several of them called out at once.
"Good! Any others?"
There was silence for a moment. "Oh! Eevee!" a girl shouted suddenly.
"Good! Remember, Eevee can not only evolve with a Thunder Stone, but also with a Fire Stone or Water Stone, or even with no stone at all. Now...yes, what is it?"
A boy in back looked confused. "Why can Eevee evolve with so many?"
"Well, Eevee's genetic-"
The teacher was cut off by a loud crash as a hole was created in the wall and rain began pouring through. Several of the children began to scream. A girl wearing a purple jacket was illuminated by the light emitted by the large Charizard behind her. She twirled a gun in her hand in an almost playful manner.
"Sorry to interrupt your lesson, kiddies, but I'll be taking those stones," she said, and she fired the gun at the glass case which shattered the moment the bullet hit it. The children that had not started crying in fear before were crying now. The teacher was wide-eyed.
"Everyone! Get out of here!" she yelled pointing towards the door. "Run! Now!" The children did not hesitate to comply, and the teacher was right behind them.
The girl with the gun laughed loudly. "Yes, go, get out of my way you little pests!" She walked up to the shattered case and began picking the evolution stones from the glass. Then she turned to notice the pink-haired girl, who was frozen with fear. "Charizard," she said, glancing quickly at her Pokémon.
The fire-type must have known what she meant, for he walked straight up to the other girl and grabbed her arms from behind. "Zarrrd..." he growled.
"You...why do you..." she started to say.
"Shut up, you little twit. You're a trainer, aren't you?" She walked up until the two were face to face. "Well, I'll just be taking your Pokémon, then."
The pink-haired girl didn't respond to this. "...why do you look like Keria?"
The dark-haired girl froze. "You know who I...oh, this is bad."
The captive started to struggle in an attempt to break free from the Charizard without success. "I won't you get away with this!"
The thief sighed. "You're so lucky I've decided not to kill anyone." She pulled out a rope and began tying her up while the Charizard held her as still as possible.
"You can't do this! It's bad enough you're stealing, but-mrphmhmrphrm..." Her words were cut off as a gag was stuck in her mouth.
"Next time, when I say shut up, just shut up. Got it?" she said, and finished tying a knot. She redirected her attention to the case holding the moon stones. A smile returned to her face, and she smashed in this glass as well.
Flip was blushing. Since it was raining and he had not remembered an umbrella, Cascata had offered to share hers. The result was that the two were walking very close together. He had to make an effort to not touch her. It was an incredibly awkward situation for him.
Cascata didn't seem to mind at all. "So, where should we go to eat?" she asked. He didn't respond.
The two were just walking around Pewter City. Very few other people were outside besides them.
"Hey, look," she said, leaning over and whispering in his ear. "You see over there?"
Flip turned his head. There was a large building set apart from the others with thick stone walls which the rain could be heard pounding on furiously. He knew what it was instantly. "The Pewter City gym...what about it?"
"No, not that!" she responded. "Look, standing in front of it. Isn't that the trainer from before?"
His eyes moved from the building itself to the trainer in front. It was easy for him to recognize the girl; even if the purple coat had not told him, the large Charizard standing beside her, who did not seem to mind the rain as much as it should have, was enough to jog his memory. She was staring at the building.
Flip and Cascata walked up to her. "Hey-"
"How long has the gym leader been gone?" she asked, cutting Flip off. Her tone of voice was completely different. It was very steady and calm, though there was almost a hint of sadness to it.
"Uh..." Cascata counted in her head. "Five months...maybe six? I can't remember."
There was silence for a moment. "Really...that long?" The girl started laughing in an almost sarcastic way.
"Yeah...why?" Cascata asked, confused.
She did her best to stop laughing. "Four years..."
Flip and Cascata exchanged a puzzled glance.
"I've been training four years..." she continued, still laughing. "...four years..." Her laugher stopped and she slammed her fist against the stone wall.
"...for absolutely nothing." The hint of sadness in her voice had been replaced with one of anger.
A rumble of thunder could be heard from overhead. It began raining harder. The Charizard snorted unhappily at this.
She shook her head. "Figures. So, who are you?" she said, seeming to finally acknowledge the presence of the two. Her voice had become calm again.
"I'm Cascata, and this is Flip," Cascata said in a less cheerful tone than usual, probably dampened by the rain and the mood this person had created.
Flip frowned. "Yeah, the 'twerp' you snapped at this morning."
The trainer looked at them. Something seemed to have changed about her eyes since they last met: though they were still half-open, they did not make her look like she was angry at them at all. "...I beg your pardon?" she spoke, cocking her head slightly to one side.
"You know, this morning, in the Pokécenter," he said. "You snapped at me after I bumped into you, even though I apologized..."
She had a puzzled expression on her face. "Uh...I haven't visited the Pokécenter yet. Brenner and I just flew into town. It's the first time I've been to Kanto...since..." She turned away and looked sad for a moment.
"I don't get it," Cascata said. "The person looked a lot like you. She had a Charizard with her and everything."
Flip studied the girl's face carefully. "Actually, now that I look closely...I don't think you were the one I ran into at the Pokécenter. I'm not sure if you are, at least." He shrugged. "Could've just been a weird coincidence, I guess. Or you have a doppelganger or something."
She smiled and looked back up at them. "Well, I've never seen you before in my life. Anyway, it's nice to meet you, Flip, Cascata. My name is Keria."
Cascata's eyebrows jumped up immediately. "Keria...you mean...the Keria? The prodigy who-" she started.
She was cut off by the sound of sirens. They all turned to see Officer Jenny on her motorcycle followed by many police cars. "Wonder what's going on. Things are usually peaceful in the Kanto region these days..." Keria said to herself.
"There she is!" Jenny said, and she screeched to a halt in front of the three and leapt off the motorcycle. "You're under arrest, thief!" she said to Keria, grabbing one of her wrists and handcuffing it.
The trainer was confused. "I...what? What's going on? What did I do?" she said, as her other hand was handcuffed as well.
Jenny scowled at her while the police cars surrounded the four of them. "Oh, don't even try playing dumb! We have witnesses who saw you rob the Pokécenter and the museum while armed with a gun!"
Cascata cut in. "Are you sure it was her, Officer Jenny? We had-"
She didn't listen. "Sure?! How many girls are running around in purple coats with big Charizards around here?! Come on, let's go!" she snapped, tugging her off into one of the police cars. Some other officers were doing the same to the Charizard, who was looking just as confused as its trainer.
"Actually, Officer-" Flip started, but the police completely ignored them. A minute later, they could see the cars driving away, sirens still blaring. The two trainers sat shocked and confused in the rain.
"...there might be two," Flip finished, still standing under the umbrella.
The rain continued to pound. Flip and Cascata exchanged another puzzled glance. They both broke into a run towards the police station.
When they got to the police station, Keria was already behind bars, and so was her Charizard. Officer Jenny was looking extremely angry.
"This is your 'team', right? Then explain this...all four of these were among the Pokémon stolen from the Pokécenter. And you don't have a Pokédex on you. I doubt that's a coincidence!" Jenny snapped, holding up four Pokéballs.
Keria sighed. "Okay. First off, if you would actually let them out, you would note that they respond to the names Sandy, Redda, Montague, and Nentes, respectively, and the ones that were stolen do not. Not to mention I can almost guarantee that they're much stronger than the ones that were stolen from the Pokécenter. Second, I just told you, I lost my Pokédex. I lose a lot of things. I flew in on Brenner from the north, so it probably fell around there, and if you-"
Jenny cut her off again. "Oh, come on, how dumb do you think we are? You 'lost' it. Right. And you want us to let you out so you can go find it in the woods to the north." She took a sip of coffee.
Keria frowned. "No, I was thinking more that..." she started, but it was then that she noticed the two trainers enter. "Oh! You're...Flip and Cascata, was it?"
Cascata nodded. "Officer Jenny, we think Keria is innocent-"
Officer Jenny spat out her drink in surprise. "Keria?! You mean the prodigy?!" She looked at the trainer. "I knew she looked familiar...disgusting." She turned away in anger. "Absolutely disgusting. Something's wrong with this world when someone with so much going for them can just throw it all away and become a rotten criminal. I'm calling your parents right now." With that, she stood up and started walking away.
"No! Wait!" Keria looked scared. She grabbed the bars and pushed her head out, calling after the police officer. "Don't! I'm innocent! Don't tell them...that..." Jenny was already gone. She slumped back into the corner of her cell. "...oh, this won't end well."
"She didn't even listen to us..." Cascata said, pouting.
"She's really stressed." Keria said, rolling her eyes. "Perfectly understandable considering her job, I suppose. She should do something about it, though. It interferes with the clarity of one's thinking."
Flip turned towards Keria. "Uh...why are you so calm? Aren't you worried?"
She closed her eyes and shook her head. "I am. I'm always worried. Just not about things like this. Though this might take a while to work itself out, which is very annoying." She crossed one leg over the other. "I can wait, I guess. But-"
"Well, maybe we could help you out," Flip said, turning back towards the door. "Where did you say your Pokédex was?"
"The woods to the north..." she said, opening one eye. "You're gonna try and find it, I assume?"
"That's the idea." Flip said. "C'mon, Cassie."
Keria did a half-smile as the two went back into the rain. "You don't have to, but...thanks." She stared at the ceiling. "I hope this all clears up soon. Otherwise, my parents are going to kill me..."
"Who is this Keria, anyway?" Flip asked. The woods were becoming very muddy from the rain mixing in with the leaf litter and other decaying organic matter. Still, it was somewhat more enjoyable than walking the streets, since the branches were creating a canopy that stopped some of the rain mid-fall.
"Don't you remember?" Cascata asked. "She became a trainer four years ago. She was pretty much a genius...she knew more about Pokémon than some of the top trainers, including raising and battling them. Everyone called her a prodigy. There was even a news team that was devoted to covering her for a very short period of time."
He stopped. "Oh, I think I remember that...but I never watched television much. So, what happened?"
"Oh, it was awful. She lost her first gym battle, which was at the Pewter City Gym. I think the leader used his normal team instead of the one that he uses against new trainers...you know, to give them a fighting chance. She was beaten in under a minute." Cascata shook her head. "She was completely devastated. She swore she would beat him and stormed out of the gym."
"Then that's what she meant when she said..." Flip looked thoughtful for a moment, then started walking again. "So...?"
"So...what?" Cascata responded.
"What happened to her then?"
"Oh! I dunno, really," Cascata said. "Everyone stopped caring. They figured that she wasn't the prodigy they had all made her out to be. The news team stopped reporting her every action. She vanished from the spotlight completely. In fact, this is the first I've heard about her since then. I guess she was serious when she swore to beat him, but...that doesn't really matter now, does it? She must have never heard about the gym leader leaving. Poor Keria. It's kind of odd, though, considering that she's from this region, and if she cared so much about beating him, you'd think she would have been the first to hear about it..."
"Pichupi!" they heard. Hazard, who had been let out earlier, leapt out of the bushes with a black rectangle in its front teeth. It scrambled onto Flip's shoulder and dropped it into his hands. Flip opened it and pressed the appropriate button.
"Bzzrt--Pokédex--bzzrt--two-one-two--bzzrt--name-of--bzzrt--if-lost--bzzrt--cannot-be--bzzrt!" it struggled to say as static appeared on the screen.
Flip frowned. "Great. It's broken."
"Hang on..." Cascata said, taking it from him. She dug into her pocket and pulled out a small screwdriver. "I think I can fix it." She turned it over and began taking out the screws.
Flip was stunned. "Say what? You mean..."
She smiled at him. "Oh, I'm just good with stuff like this. I've been a technology geek since I was little. I've fixed other stuff with bigger problems than this one! Hold the umbrella over me, would you?"
She slid off the back cover. He couldn't see what she was doing due to the lack of light. In a moment she decided she was done, and reattached the back of the Pokédex. "See? That's all it needed. Probably just hit a branch or something when it fell that knocked that connection loose..." Cascata smiled and flipped open the Pokédex again.
"Greetings!" it chirped. "What-would-you-like-for-me-to-do--Keria?" Cascata pressed the same button Flip had, and a picture of Keria appeared on the screen. "Trainer-identification--This-is-Pokédex-and-trainer's-license-for-trainer-five-two-one-two-seven--by-the-name-of-Keria-" She closed it.
"That was impressive," Flip said, looking at Cascata. "I had no idea you were good with that sort of stuff..."
"Oh, it was nothing. Come on, we have to show this to Officer Jenny!" she said, shoving the Pokédex in her pocket and turning back towards Pewter City.
Officer Jenny closed the Pokédex. "Well, this proves she was telling the truth..." she said.
Keria looked happy. "See? And you didn't believe me. Now, if you'll just let me out of here..."
Jenny turned back towards the trainer angrily. "What? Absolutely not, thief!"
"What do you mean?" Flip said. "You just said it yourself! The Pokédex proves she's innocent. Let her go!"
The officer slapped the Pokédex on her desk. "No! The Pokédex only proves that the four Pokémon on her team weren't stolen. That doesn't mean she didn't commit those robberies!" She began looking through some paperwork. "Trainers can be criminals just like everyone else. And there's currently no evidence that gives reasonable doubt that she didn't commit them."
"But there is, Officer Jenny," Cascata said. "We were trying to tell you it the last time..."
Officer Jenny didn't look up. "Oh, really? Let's hear it."
The girl looked back at Flip, who nodded and cleared his throat.
"Cascata and myself were at the Pokécenter for most of the morning. When we were leaving, we ran into a trainer that looked a lot like Keria," he said, gesturing to the locked up trainer, "but was not actually her."
This caught Jenny's attention. "Go on," she said, studying all three of the trainers carefully.
"The similarities were remarkable," he said, turning towards Keria. "Brown eyes, brown hair, purple coat, dark blue pants, even similar height and body type. And, of course, the Charizard. But getting a good look at both and talking with both...it was enough for me to know that it was definitely not Keria who I met. And the crime would've had to have taken place right after we left, because it certainly didn't happen while we were there, and the person wouldn't have had the time to rob the museum afterwards."
Jenny took another sip of coffee. "Are you suggesting she was framed?"
Flip stopped. "Actually, I hadn't thought of that. I thought it was only a coincidence, but that would make a lot more sense." He looked downwards. "But that would mean the person would have had to have known Keria was coming to Pewter City, not to mention at what specific time she would be here. Trainers always head to the Pokécenter first, so she had to rob it before Keria came here..." Flip shook his head. "So it was either a very large coincidence, or this thief is very smart."
The officer took a sip of her coffee. "Or you're giving a false testimony. There's a lot of concrete evidence against Keria right now, and I'm already suspicious of you. There's not even any proof you were at the Pokécenter this morning." She glared at Flip. "And why would you go out of your way to help this girl, anyway? Are you just supposed to be some sort of nice guy?"
"If I may interrupt," Keria started, pressing against the bars of her cell, "you shouldn't criticize him for being a good citizen. Perhaps he is telling what he knows because he doesn't want to see an innocent go to jail, or perhaps because of the more obvious reason that if I'm in here, and I'm not the criminal-"
"Then the criminal is still out and probably still in the city."
"Exactly!" Keria said. "Wait, who said that?"
Everyone turned towards where the remark had come from. Nurse Joy was standing in the doorway, her arm wrapped in a bandage.
"Nurse Joy, what are you doing here? Shouldn't you still be resting?" Officer Jenny began. "I mean, your injury-"
"It was my arm that was shot, not my leg. I can still walk," Joy said. "And I can tell you that it was certainly not by this trainer. I would have known right away if it was Keria. Even I can't seem to forget someone like her. She's...well...unique, I guess you could say."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Keria said, looking annoyed and amused at the same time.
"You're a smart girl, so I'm sure you can figure it out," Joy said, smiling for a moment before her expression turned serious again. "There were a lot of small differences, actually. The girl had slightly lighter skin, was a little taller, noticeably thinner-"
"What's that supposed to mean?!" Keria asked again, much more annoyed and not at all amused.
Joy ignored her this time. "Of course, the largest difference was the eyes. They were nothing like Keria's. Keria's eyes seem to droop in a very relaxed and natural way, like she's tired. But the other trainer...her eyes seemed forced and half-squinting, more like a glare."
"You're certain about all this?" Jenny asked.
"I'm positive," Joy responded. "If you can't believe my testimony, whose can you believe?"
The phone rang, interrupting their conversation. Jenny quickly picked it up. "Pewter City Police Department, Officer Jenny speaking...what?! You mean...right now?! I'm on it!" She slammed it back down. "You guys were right! That criminal's still on the loose! She just robbed the Pokémart!"
Keria was delighted. "Now do you believe I'm innocent?"
"Yes, yes, I was wrong, you're probably innocent, but until we catch the real criminal you'll have to stay in there," Jenny said, heading straight towards the door.
"Wait!" Keria said. "She's got a Charizard with her, right? Maybe I could help you!" She looked at her Pokéballs. "I'm a very experienced Pokémon trainer. I could fight that Charizard a lot easier than any of you could! Please, let me come with you!"
Jenny paused a moment. "Well...fine, but you'd better not leave my sight!" She quickly turned around and unlocked the cell. "Now, grab your Pokéballs and let's go. There's no time!"
The two ran out the door. Cascata looked at Flip. "Come on, Flip! I don't wanna miss this!" She grabbed his hand and pulled him out the door.
Joy looked in the direction all four had run sadly. "Be careful, all of you..."
The rain was pouring down in buckets now, creating a dull rumble from the inside of the gym. She tossed a bag of money from the Pokémart next to the rest of her loot. It bumped against the young trainer with pink hair, and for a moment it looked like she was going to wake up. The thief froze in place. The sleeping girl settled back down, and the thief laughed to herself.
"The idiot police probably don't even know what hit 'em. I think we've pretty much finished in this city, don't you, Charizard?" she asked, turning towards the large lizard. It let out a loud roar, and the girl immediately slapped it. "Not so loud, moron. Someone might hear you." It growled sadly.
She stepped up on one of the rocks of the battle field and posed on it. "Even if they figure out they've been duped and start searching the city for me, by the time they even think to check this old gym we'll be long gone. I am a perfect criminal! Haha!" Her voice echoed nearly as loudly as the Charizard's had before. She stood normally again and began looking thoughtful. "What to do with this girl, though? It'll be hard enough to carry all this stuff as it is..." She began pacing back and forth on the rocks. "Charizard wouldn't be able to carry her all the way back. I could just leave her here, but she might make trouble. Hrm..."
Charizard lifted its head suddenly. Its hearing was better than that of its human trainer, and thus it could hear sirens through the thick stone walls of the gym. "Chaaarizaaard!" it yelled, trying to warn its trainer.
"Shut up, you dumb lizard! I'm trying to think here!" she snapped again, then went back to thinking. "Maybe I could just abandon her on an island...?"
The Charizard started getting nervous. It began shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot and stretching its wings as if it wanted to fly. Smoke began drifting through its nostrils, and embers were starting to form at its mouth.
"Cut it out, Charizard. That's distracting," she yelled again, hitting the Charizard on top of the head.
It settled down again for a moment, but the sirens were getting too close for its liking. It began pumping its wings, and rose a few feet into the air before leaning forward and grabbing the stolen goods in its arms. It turned in midair and scooped up the thief on its neck, and began heading towards a weak point in the ceiling it knew it could break through. However, a sharp pain ran through its head, and it began plummeting. It slammed into the ground painfully, scattering the contents of its arms all over the floor. The girl got off it, almost completely unaffected by the fall, and began slapping the large Pokémon back and forth across the face.
"Stupid Charizard!" she growled at it. "What's gotten into you, anyway?! You're gonna get us caught!"
"You know, you really shouldn't treat your Pokémon like that," a voice echoed from the other side of the gym.
The thief froze in place as a mixed feeling of fear and self-loathing consumed her. She now knew what the Charizard had been trying to warn her about. She swiftly turned towards where the voice had come from. "Who's there?!"
Keria, dripping wet from the rain and furious with anger, stood silhouetted in the open doorway. Flip and Cascata were behind her, and through the rain could be seen the flashing lights of police cars. She pointed a single finger in the direction of the criminal. "I am Keria, and you have stolen my look as well as many other valuable items! How dare you attempt to frame me for your crimes! You shall not get away with this!" she shouted, her voice flooding every corner of the large stone gym. She pulled a Pokéball from her pocket and gave it a quick kiss for luck before throwing it onto the field. "Go, Sandy! Let's see who this person really is!"
In a flash of light, a Sandslash emerged from the Pokéball and began charging towards the thief. It swiped once with its right claw, just grazing the fabric of her purple coat. The coat was ripped off, and suddenly it became very clear the thief was not as similar to Keria as they had thought
The woman had much longer hair of a lighter shade of brown, which lacked any of the waves and curls Keria's seemed to have. Her skin was much paler, and she was perhaps a little taller though this could have been an illusion caused by her almost unnaturally narrow waist. As if in response to her disguise being ruined, her eyes opened to their normal state.
"I don't understand...this was perfect!" the woman yelled in frustration. "I won't let you screw it up! Go, Houndour!" She threw a Pokéball to the ground as if she were trying to break it.
A Houndour emerged, and it snarled at the Sandslash. It lunged instinctively, but the Sandslash leapt atop one of the larger rocks and the Houndour skidded to a stop beside it.
"Hah! You're joking, right? Has that puppy even battled before?" Keria called, almost cheerfully. "Mud-slap it, Sandy!"
The Houndour attempted another charge at the Sandslash while the mouse scrambled over towards where some of the rain from outside had leaked in and was starting to form a puddle. It used its claw like a shovel to fling a large amount of the mud straight into the Houndour's face. The mixture of sand and water caused it to whine in pain as it hissed against the fiery heat of its skin. The Houndour shook its head, trying to clear its vision.
"What are you waiting for, Houndour?! Use Ember!" she commanded, trying to scoop up as many of the the pokéballs, stones, and bills into the first bag she could grab.
"Swift!" Keria cried out.
The Houndour shot a small burst of flame at the Sandslash, but it was off by enough for the mouse to dodge it. The Sandslash then curled up and began rolling in place, giving off a spray of star-shaped sparks. The Houndour was hit by the majority of them, but others went off in different directions on the enemy's side, including straight through the fabric of the bag the thief was holding.
"Total emergency!" the thief cried, and held out a Pokéball. The Houndour vanished into it before everyone's eyes. She began running towards a door in the back while she yelled, "Get 'em, Charizard!"
The Charizard rose into the air upon hearing its owner call, and did a diving attack against the Sandslash, knocking it back a few feet. It managed to stay on its feet, but it vanished just as the Houndour had moments before.
"Good job, Sandy," Keria said, replacing the Pokéball back in her pocket and pulling out another. "Now, however, it's time to show this thief a real Charizard! Go, Brenner!" She kissed this one, too, and tossed it onto the battlefield.
The first thing one could notice as soon as the second Charizard came into view was that it was over a foot taller than the previous one and much more muscular. It held its head up and let out a rumbling roar, causing the smaller one to recoil a bit and land awkwardly on the ground.
About this time, the thief, who had been trying to open the door but found it tightly locked, slammed into it with the entire weight of her body. She did this two more times before the lock gave up and the door went flying open. "Losers!" she called back, then vanished into it.
Keria turned her head and said to Flip and Cascata, "You two, follow her! I'll make sure the Charizard doesn't attack you!"
"We're on it!" Cascata said, and the two took off in a sprint along the right side of the gym.
"Now then," Keria said to herself, turning back to the battle. "Brenner, use Fly!"
The two Charizards began lifting themselves into the air. Keria's Charizard flew away from the opponent, who had noticed the two trainers and was turning in their direction. The larger Charizard lunged at the opponent, slamming him into the boulder-covered battlefield. The smaller one returned his attention to the battle and slashed with its sharp claws across other's arm while Flip and Cascata continued running towards the broken door.
"Mega Punch, Brenner!"
A large scaly fist collided with the side of the other Charizard's head. It recoiled a moment, then took a deep breath in before unleashing a narrow cone of flames in response. Brenner flinched a little, but otherwise only looked a bit singed from the attack.
"Haha!" Keria laughed and struck a very smug looking pose. "Ah, battles like this remind me how good it feels to be a competent trainer. Since we're wrapping this battle up anyway, how about showing this Charizard a real Flamethrower, eh, Brenner?"
The larger Charizard snorted to confirm the command. Its chest swelled as it filled its lungs with air. When it reached its limit, the Charizard opened its mouth and unleashed a large flame. The other Charizard was consumed and, despite its own fire type and therefore its resistance to fire, fell forward onto the ground afterwards with a loud thud. Keria's Charizard let out a triumphant roar.
Keria beamed with pride. "Victory! Good job, Brenner! Now, let's-"
The battle didn't seem to be over, however. The other Charizard attempted to fly again, and dived at its opponent with a clumsy sort of rage. Brenner threw it off almost immediately, but it did a u-turn in the air and rammed its head straight into the larger Charizard's chest. It skidded off to the left and landed in a crumpled heap on a large boulder. This still did not stop it however, and it quickly regained what little composure it could manage.
"What's going on?! Is it crazy?! It can't still have the strength to fight!" Keria said, looking unusually worried for the other Pokémon. "It's only going to hurt itself! Pin it down, Brenner!"
Her Charizard turned and gave her a quick nod and rose into the air. The other Charizard, seeing this as a chance to attack, charged Brenner's legs in an attempt to bring him back to the ground. Brenner pumped his wings with as much strength as he could manage, rising into the air before the other Charizard could grab him. It fell to the ground and Brenner quickly dropped to place a large foot firmly on its back. The opponent began flailing wildly, sending flames in random directions and scorching the field in many places.
"What's with this thing?" Keria asked herself, quickly jumping out of the way of one of the stray fireballs. "What could make it so angry that it would push itself beyond its limits to win this fight?"
"There we go!" the thief said to herself, finally locating a door leading out of the gym. She could see nothing outside except for the light from the room glinting off some of the raindrops that fell past the door. She paused a moment to catch her breath, but could hear someone heading straight in her direction and thus thought it better to keep going and wait until she was far away from the city to rest. The girl dove for the door, pushing straight out into the darkness and the rain.
"Freeze, thief! You're under arrest for armed robbery!" a voice called from outside.
With the light from the room inside now shining into the darkness, she could see Officer Jenny waiting with some other police officers, all who apparently had expected her to exit the gym. She backed up in surprise. Her legs froze, but in the back of her mind she knew it didn't matter anyway. Any other doors leaving the gym were doubtlessly blocked by police officers as well.
"Oh, come on! This wasn't supposed to be this hard!" the thief yelled at no one in particular. She quickly pulled out her gun and pointed it forward. "Listen, whether I have to use this again or not, you're not catching me! So don't force me to make this messier than it has to be!"
It was then, however, that a light blue serpent leapt upon her right arm and began wrapping around it. She screamed and attempted to shake it off as violently as she could. The serpent, which she could now see was a Dratini, focused its constricting on her hand and managed to pull the gun out of it. The Pokémon and the weapon dropped to the floor in a heap, and as soon as the Dratini recovered from the fall it smashed the gun with all of its strength.
The thief turned, and saw the trainers Flip and Cascata blocking off her exit from the room. "You're not going anywhere!" Flip said, holding a Pokéball in his hand.
Her eyes grew very wide with fear as she looked from the police officers starting to come in from the rain and the two trainers readying to call out their other Pokémon. "Not good! Well, looks like I'll have to use my last resort," she said, pulling out what appeared from the markings to be an Ultra Ball. "Get me out of here, Abra!"
The Ultra Ball opened, revealing the Psychic Pokémon known as Abra. It sat for a split second on the ground in front of the thief, eyes closed as if it were asleep, before the Pokémon and its trainer began glowing. Flip and Officer Jenny both dived for the two in a desperate final attempt to stop them, but the two vanished in a flash of psychic power right after the girl got a final word in...
Flip rubbed his head from his hitting it on the floor. "She's gone..." he mumbled, feeling it necessary to restate the obvious.
Officer Jenny clenched a fist in frustration. "She got away! I don't believe this! The thief got away!"
Cascata sighed. "Well, at least she didn't get away with any of the stolen goods, right?"
Officer Jenny sighed and shook her head. "But she got away...and we have no way of tracking her down."
The conversation was cut off by a loud scream followed by the roar of a Charizard.
"Did you hear that?!" Flip asked.
"It sounded like it came from the battlefield!" Officer Jenny responded, jumping to her feet.
"Which means Keria is in trouble!" Cascata exclaimed, heading back towards where she came.
When the group arrived back in the battlefield, they saw the smaller Charizard looming over the unconscious body of Keria. A broken Great Ball lay on the ground to the side of them. The large Pokémon noticed them almost immediately and turned to face them. It let out another tremendous roar before firing a fountain of flames at them. The people all scattered to either side, narrowly dodging the attack. It focused its attacks at Flip and Cascata, who had both chosen to take cover behind the nearest boulder.
"What are we going to do?!" Cascata asked aloud, ducking to avoid the fire that was shooting over her head. "Keria's out, and she was the only one with strong enough Pokémon to take out that Charizard!"
"We have to wait this out!" Flip replied, looking around the rock at the raging Pokémon. "It's a long shot, but I think we can let it just tire itself out."
"But what if it turns its attacks on Jenny and the other officers?" Cascata asked. "Worse, what if it decides to attack Keria more? She'd be at the mercy of his attacks!"
He looked at Keria, who was still sprawled out on the ground behind the Charizard. "Agh, you're right. We need to do something and fast..." Flip said, returning to ducking fully behind the rock. He closed his eyes, thinking. They snapped open less than a moment later. "Wait! That Charizard should be weakened from fighting Keria's Charizard, right?"
"Right. You think she tried to catch it?" Cascata said, remembering the broken Great Ball.
"I'm almost certain, but we'll figure that out later," Flip said, pulling out a Pokéball. "Our Pokémon may be weaker than Keria's, but if we used more than one..."
"I get it. Why worry about following the League rules for an emergency situation like this?" Cascata asked.
"We'll just say it's a double battle," Flip said, smiling, "and the opponent wanted to use only one Pokémon. Ready?"
Cascata nodded. "Let's get this battle started!"
The two leapt out from behind the rock and posed dramatically. "We challenge you!" they said at the same time, holding their Pokéballs forward. The Charizard looked at them puzzledly.
"Go, Hazard!" Flip called out, throwing the Pokéball.
"Go, Cira!" Cascata shouted, throwing her Pokéball as well.
The two Pokéballs landed next to each other and popped open, revealing a small electric rodent and a tiny bird. Despite them looking their fiercest, the Charizard laughed in a deep and rumbling bellow. It stomped on the ground in front of them, causing the Pichu to fall over. The mouse stood back up immediately, however, and began sparking at the cheeks threateningly.
"Cira, use Sand Attack!" Cascata yelled to her Pokémon, cupping her hands around her mouth to make sure her voice carried far enough.
"Thunderwave, Hazard!" Flip commanded.
The Pichu sent a seemingly ineffective jolt into the Charizard's body, and the Pokémon began to laugh even harder. The Pidgey flapped its wings and caused a cloud of dirt to fly into the Charizard's eyes. This enraged it, and it made a move to attack only to find that its muscles were tightening and it could barely move at all.
"Good work, Hazard!" Flip said. "Now, use Thundershock!"
"Use your Gust attack, Cira!" Cascata yelled.
Pichu jumped atop one of the nearby rocks to avoid a slash from the Charizard's claws, then began charging electricity in its cheeks. When it reached the limit to the power its cheeks could store at the moment, it released a shock into the massive body of the Charizard. The Pidgey, from the other side, created a very small tornado which picked up the sand and gravel from the ground and slammed them into the fire lizard. The Charizard was growing angry, and attempted to slam its fist into the Pidgey but narrowly missed it and smashed the rock it had perched on instead.
"It's working!" Cascata cried in delight. "Use Gust again!"
"Keep Thundershocking it!" Flip shouted to his Pichu.
The two dodged another round of attacks from the slowed and blinded Charizard, then sent another shock and tornado in the direction of its body. The opponent seemed to be growing very angry at this point. It slashed at the Pidgey and connected this time, sending it plummeting to the ground in seconds.
"Cira! Return!" Cascata called, holding out her Pokéball for the Pokémon to be sucked back into. "You'll pay for hurting her, you big meanie! Go, Wade!"
She flung another Pokéball onto the field and her Squirtle popped out, smiling happily and doing a little dance as it appeared. It looked up at the Charizard and cried out in fear, leaping backwards while the Pichu shocked the enemy a third time.
"Don't be scared, Wade! Use Bubble!" Cascata called to her Pokémon.
The small turtle nodded, trying to look as confident as it could, sending a spray of foamy bubbles straight into the face of the large Pokémon. The Pichu managed to shock it a fourth time before the Charizard slammed its fist straight into the rodent's yellow belly and sent it flying backwards.
"Pichauuu!" it whined, collapsing in a little furry heap.
"H-hazard!" Flip yelled, holding up the Pokéball for the little Pokémon to return to. "You did your best, Hazard. Now, Dratini, it's your turn!"
"Tiiini!" it cried, springing off Flip's shoulder. The Dratini showed no signs of fear of the massive reptile. In fact, it leered at the Charizard in a way that made it stumble in a frightened sort of surprise despite the obvious difference in strength.
"Keep using Bubble, Wade!" Cascata called. "I think it's going to fall soon!"
"It's too big to Wrap..." Flip said to himself. "But does Dratini have any other attacks? Maybe...Dratini, see if you can do a Twister attack!"
The small dragon, in response, began to concentrate. It focused its energy, then released it all in a spiral of wind into the Charizard's stomach. The Charizard turned and attempted to strike the small Pokémon, but failed and was hit with another spray of bubbles that started hissing against its burning skin. The Charizard snarled in pain
"You did it Dratini!" Flip called excitedly. "Do it again! I think we've almost finished this battle!"
The Dratini unleashed another Twister straight towards the belly of the Charizard and the Squirtle another Bubble into its face. The Charizard breathed fire at the two, managing to hit the turtle with the very edge of it. "Squiir-tuhl!" it cried in pain, clutching the spot where it was hit. The Charizard turned to focus its attacks on it.
"Wade!" Cascata called, holding the Pokéball ready to call the Pokémon back.
Before the Charizard could attack, however, Dratini fired another Twister at it, this one hitting it straight in the side of the head and causing it to fall over. The two Pokémon and their trainers stood still for a moment, waiting for any sign of movement. Its wings and tail twitched a bit before it gave out a sigh of defeat.
"We did it!" Cascata yelled, throwing her arms into the air. "We really did it!"
"We...we did, didn't we?!" Flip said. "We actually won!"
"Hooray! We have got to be the best team ever!" Cascata shouted, giving Flip a big hug, causing him to freeze and go bright red.
"Uh...erm...w-well," he began, "it certainly was impressive our Pokémon could take down something like that Charizard, even if it was already weakened..."
"It sure was!" Cascata exclaimed. "Oh, wait, that's right, Keria!" She let go quickly and ran over to the other trainer.
The trainer had already awoken. She was hunched over a bit, holding the right side of her face. "Agh...how did it break out? Never seen that happen before..." she muttered to herself, pulling her hand away so she could look at it. "No blood...well, that's a good sign...I think..."
Cascata knelt in front of her. "Are you okay? What happened?" she asked.
"The Charizard wouldn't give in to defeat..." Keria began, looking at its limp body on the battlefield. "There are some scars on it, mostly the wings...and it was raging like a savage beast...I think that thief did something to it. No, I'm sure of it."
"Like what?" Flip said, stretching one of its wings out to full length. When he did such, he could see a number of long pale scars crisscrossing in strange patterns.
"Abused it, probably. She was hurting it when we first entered here, remember?" she said, rubbing her face tenderly again. "It's happened before in the past...Pokémon being mistreated and becoming feral beasts with an uncontainable urge not only to win but to destroy..."
"So you tried to catch it?" Flip questioned, gently placing the wing in its natural folded position.
"Absolutely!" Keria said, looking at him. "The thief abandoned it, first off. Even if she were to come back for it, how could it possibly be trusted in the hands of a trainer who would not only abuse it but abandon it as well? I had a moral obligation to make sure she didn't get her hands on it again!"
"But what were you going to do with it?" Cascata said, standing up and offering a hand to help the weakened trainer stand up as well.
"Well, that's the second reason I had for trying to capture it," Keria said, taking the hand and pulling herself to her feet. "My sister has a talent for dealing with Pokémon like this and calming them down to their normal selves. I was going to bring the Charizard to her..." She walked over and picked up the pieces of the broken Great Ball. "But the Charizard...it did something strange. It couldn't break out at first. It was a successful capture, so I called Brenner back and was picking up the Great Ball to send to my storage...and then, all at once, the Pokéball started shaking again and it broke out, causing the ball to explode open in my hands. And that's all I remember. The blast knocked me out, I guess." She sighed, "I knew I should have used an Ultra Ball..."
Flip pulled out an empty Pokéball. "Well, now it should be weak enough for this...do you mind, Keria?" he asked, turning to face her.
"Uh...Flip, it might be weak enough for that now, but...once it gets its strength back, I have a feeling it'll break out of it like it did with the Great Ball. But...hang on," she said, digging into a pocket on the side of her pants. She pulled out a variety of different Pokéballs, and handed a black one with a gold stripe down the middle to him. "Here. It shouldn't stand a chance against an Ultra Ball. And I'm only letting you catch it because you probably would like Charizard added to your Pokédex...am I right?" Flip nodded. "Thought so. Don't even think about using it for battle. There's only an extremely slim chance you'd be able to control it, and that's a risk you really don't want to take."
"I know, I know..." he said, taking a moment to examine the Ultra Ball in his hands. "More black and gold...how odd."
"What's odd?" Keria asked, examining how the pieces of the Great Ball fit together.
"I'll tell you later," he sighed, dropping the Ultra Ball on the fainted Pokémon. It didn't even bother to attempt escape. He picked it up, and heard a small chime from his Pokédex to indicate that detailed information on the new Pokémon had been added.
The girl with pink hair woke up to find herself in a bed at the Pokécenter. It was too dark outside to see anything outside, but she could hear the soft sound of rain falling on the roof. The weather seemed to finally be letting up. She yawned and stretched, looking around.
"Long time no see, Hope," someone said from very close. "How was your nap?"
The trainer turned and saw Keria sitting on one of the other beds, holding an ice pack over her right eye. "Oh, Keria! Thank goodness it's you!" she said, breathing a sigh of relief. "Awful things have been happening. There's a thief who disguised herself as you and-"
Keria laughed. "I know, Hope. That's old news. The thief got away, but luckily with nothing of what she stole." She shifted the way she was holding the ice pack in an attempt to keep her hand from going numb. "How'd you get involved with this, anyway?"
Hope laughed. "I suppose I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's all. But I think I have some information that might help..."
"Oh, really?" the dark haired trainer replied, looking up. Hope nodded and was about to go into further detail, but Keria cut off by saying, "Wait until the police come back and tell them. I've had enough of this for one day, and it's been ages since we've seen eachother..."
"You two know eachother?" Cascata asked. The two turned to see her standing in the doorway, holding her Squirtle who still had a bandage wrapped around his torso where the fire had hit.
"Know eachother? We were close friends back when we were in school!" Keria said, smiling. "But I haven't seen her since we started our Pokémon training. I'm surprised she still recognizes me."
Hope laughed. "Oh, come on. You've grown a lot, but you're more or less exactly the same as you were four years ago. In fact, the thing that threw me off the most is that you're not wearing your glasses!"
"Contact lenses," Keria explained. "Or just one lens, I should say. But that's a minor detail."
"My name is Hope," the pink haired trainer said, holding up a hand.
"I'm Cascata, and this is my Squirtle, Wade," Cascata said, shaking it.
"And my name is Flip," Flip said, walking in behind Cascata, "and these are my Pokémon, Dratini and Hazard." Dratini was perched on his shoulders as always, and Hazard was beside him looking good as new.
"Are these two both new friends of yours, Keria?" Hope asked, bending down and inviting the Pichu over to have his ear scratched. Hazard ran over eagerly, letting out a small squeak of joy.
"I guess so," Keria responded, looking at the two trainers. "They're both just starting as trainers, but they've got amazing potential. Using low-level, unevolved Pokémon, they somehow managed to finish off that thief's Charizard...though I had weakened it quite a bit first. But, still!"
"That is quite remarkable," Hope said, letting the Pichu jump into her lap. "The Charizard was at a very high level, I believe. A challenge even for trainers who have been training Pokémon as long as you or I have. I'm impressed they were even able to scratch it."
"I'm impressed my Pichu hasn't shocked you yet," Flip said, backing away nervously. "I'd be careful with him if I were you..."
"Don't worry," Keria said. "Hope has something about her Pokémon seem to really like. Sometimes when we were little kids, large and powerful Pokémon would come up to her and start acting friendly and playful..."
"Have you ever had your face licked by a Mightyena?" Hope asked, giggling a bit.
"I remember that!" Keria exclaimed, starting to giggle as well. "My mom was so scared that it was going...to..." She stopped in the middle of her sentence as a look of shock spread over my face.
"Is something wrong, Keria?" Cascata asked.
"My mom!" Keria yelled, jumping up and dropping her ice pack. "Officer Jenny called my parents and told them I committed those robberies, remember?! I need to go make a call right away!" She ran straight between Flip and Cascata, nearly knocking them over, and into the Pokécenter lobby.
"That's not good..." Hope sighed. "Keria's parents have always viewed her...well...highly. They're probably very upset about hearing something like this..." She stood up while holding the Pichu and began following her friend. "But I'm curious to see how this will turn out. You know, see how much damage has been done already and how much can be reversed. Come on, she'll probably need our moral support anyway."
The three walked into the lobby to see Keria sitting at one of the videophones, waiting nervously for someone to pick up on the other end. The screen had a small picture of a ringing phone for a few moments before it flickered and showed an image of a woman with purple hair down to her chin and glasses. Her face was flushed as if she had been crying. "Hello, who is...KERIA!" she shouted into the phone, her eyes flying open in anger.
"Hi, mom..." Keria started, already starting to sweat. "Listen, you probably got a call earlier saying-"
"That you've become a good-for-nothing criminal?! This is inexcusable, Keria!" the woman screamed, obviously boiling with rage. "We didn't spend ten years raising you just so you could do this! You had a good home, a good life, a good family...where did we go wrong, Keria?!"
"Listen, mom!" Keria managed to say. "There's been a huge misunderstanding! That's all!"
"No, I think I understand perfectly well! You're still worked up over your loss at the Pewter City gym, aren't you?! I told you I was always here to talk if you needed me! But no! I haven't even heard from you in two years! And now this!" Keria's mother shouted.
"Mom! Calm down!" Keria pleaded. "Calm down. There was a very large misunderstanding. The thief just happened to look a lot like me. It's all kind of complicated..."
The woman settled down a bit, but she still looked extremely upset. "And how do I know you're not lying to me right now? If you're a criminal, then lying to your own mother wouldn't be out of the question, would it?"
Keria sighed. "If I had robbed the Pokécenter, then why would I be calling from it and not the jail cell I was locked in not too long ago?"
The woman stopped suddenly, very surprised. She said nothing but made a gesture with her hand for Keria to move to one side. The girl did such, and her mother now had a full view of the Pokécenter lobby behind her, including the Nurse Joy with her arm wrapped in a tight bandage handing Cascata back her Pidgey. Keria's mother let out a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness! I wouldn't know what I would have done if my baby had really turned to a life of crime..."
"Come on, mom, you know me better than that," Keria said, smiling. "I suppose dad's upset, too?"
"Absolutely!" her mother replied. "He'll be so relieved to hear this. I'm so happy to finally hear from you! Why haven't you called in so long?"
The trainer laughed. "Well, actually, a Snorlax ate my cellphone, and I never got around to buying a new one...didn't I tell you this a long time ago?"
"What?" the woman responded, looking a bit confused. "I don't remember...oh! Wow, you did tell me, didn't you? It's been so long, I completely forgot...Keria, you have to come home soon! You look like you've grown so much..."
"Oh, of course, mom! Hang on a second..." she said, turning around to look at her friends. "Could you go away now that you've seen my mother yell at me? I've been embarrassed enough, and I have the feeling-"
"Oh, Hope, it's been a long time! How are you?" Keria's mother said, noting the girl standing on the edge of the screen.
"I'm fine, thank you," the girl replied in a polite tone. "Please tell my parents I said hello."
"Of course, of course. And who's that boy?" the woman asked, looking at Flip. "He's cute. Is he your boyfriend, Keria?"
"M-mom!" Keria responded, turning around quickly. "Of course not! Why do you always have to embarrass me like this?!"
Hope laughed. "I think this is our cue to exit," she said to Flip as they started walking away.
Cascata was talking with Nurse Joy at the desk. "You can take your Squirtle's bandages off tomorrow," the nurse said, smiling as always.
"Thank you very much, Nurse Joy," Cascata replied, returning both of her Pokémon to their Pokéballs.
"How's the Charizard?" Flip asked, approaching the counter as well.
Nurse Joy handed the Ultra Ball back to him. "Healed and not breaking out, whichever you meant. What do you plan to do with it?"
"Well, we talked it over with Keria, and she said she would lead us to her older sister who she says can return it to its normal self...after that, I don't know. It's much too strong for me to keep. I guess I'll wait until then to figure out what I should do," Flip said, staring at the Pokéball.
"Have a good time traveling with Keria," Hope said. "From what I've heard, she's become a very strong trainer just as everyone predicted she would. However, she can be very moody sometimes, and she tends to be very unlucky. So this little journey with her could be more of a trip than you know."
"Sounds like it'll be lots of fun," Flip sighed, looking back at Keria.
"Dad, I don't care what mom told you!" Keria shouted. "That boy is not my boyfriend, and I have no intention of making him such!"
The rain, to make up for dampening the light and colors of the world below the day before, had left a glistening effect on everything that seemed to bring them out more than usual. Sunlight was able to reflect off the remaining drops of water and dew almost completely unopposed by clouds. It was a gorgeous day, the best possible one could expect after such a storm.
"So, we're off to Cerulean City?" Keria asked, following behind Cascata and Flip as the three of them started on the trail heading to Mount Moon, Dratini coiled on Flip's shoulders as always.
"That's the idea. Flip and I both want to visit the gym and earn a badge!" Cascata spoke merrily.
"Oh, really? So Pewter lost their gym leader, and Cerulean found one? That's interesting," Keria said, looking off to the side and admiring the scenery.
"What?" Cascata said, looking surprised. "You didn't hear about that?"
"Actually, I didn't about that, either," Flip said. "Who is the gym leader?"
Cascata sighed. "Am I the only one here who keeps up with current events? Anyway, the leader's name is David. I've heard he's a real cute guy, too. I can't wait to meet him!"
Keria and Flip both stopped. "Did you say...David?" Flip asked.
"That's right," she said, stopping as well and turning around. "Is something wrong?"
"Not really. Just another funny coincidence, I guess...I doubt it's the same David," Flip said, starting to walk again.
"Yes, David is a rather common name, I'd say," Keria laughed, continuing her stride as well. "I know more than I want to, actually..."
"Hey! Wait! Excuse me, would you wait just a minute?" a voice called after them. It sounded like Officer Jenny, so the group stopped and turned around. The woman was running after them.
"What is it now?" Keria sighed. "I'm not going to be arrested again, am I?"
"No, not at all!" Jenny replied, finally catching up with them. "Again, I'm very sorry about the misunderstanding. However, you were extremely helpful in cornering the thief and recovering the stolen goods. You showed a great amount of skill as a Pokémon trainer. It is because of this that I ask on behalf of Pewter City for you to be our new gym leader!"
The trainer looked surprised. "I...well...but..." She shook her head. "You're joking, right? Is Pewter City really that desperate?"
Officer Jenny looked offended. "Desperate? The whole city is praising you and your two friends as heroes! We would be honored to have you as our gym leader, not to mention our representative in the Pokémon League! I realize you need to help these trainers take care of that Charizard, but that shouldn't take too long and you could come back after-"
"I'm terribly flattered, really," Keria said, looking away. "However, I have never felt the desire to be a gym leader, and even if I did...well...there are personal reasons..."
The officer was confused. "Personal reasons? Like what?"
Keria began walking away. "Have you forgotten so quickly? It was in this very city, in that very gym, that the world's respect of me vanished and I lost millions of fans...and you want to take the place of the one who defeated me before I have proven I am the better Pokémon trainer? Come on, Flip, Cascata. Mount Moon awaits."
"Well, if that's how you feel about it..." Jenny said. "Oh! One more thing. Your friend Hope managed to learn some important information about that thief!"
The girl stopped and turned around again. "Oh, yes, I never did let her tell me that. Well, what is it?"
"Her name is Smilia. She's not an independent criminal...Hope overheard her talking on the phone with the head of some larger organization. Apparently she called the person on the other end 'Master'. We think it must be something like Team Rocket..." Officer Jenny said.
"Smilia...that's an odd name," Keria said, and noticed Flip and Cascata were giving her a strange look. "What? Oh, and I suppose 'Flip' and 'Cascata' are that much more normal than 'Keria'!"
"Whatever," Cascata sighed, shaking her head. "Goodbye, Officer Jenny! Good luck finding a new gym leader!"
"Yeah, and be prepared to see us again when you do! I can't wait for a chance to get that badge!" Flip said.
"See you all then, I guess!" Officer Jenny said, waving. "You're welcome in our city any time!"
"I'll do my best to find more information about Smilia...until then, goodbye!" Keria called.
And so the three continued walking on the path towards Mount Moon that so many other trainers great and small had treaded. Dratini dropped off Flip's shoulders and began slithering beside them and bobbing its head left and right cheerfully. At some point it began singing a song in its squeaky dragon voice and all three of them found their steps falling into perfect time with it. The walk was silent until Cascata broke it with a question.
"Keria, how did you know Smilia was going to be in the gym, anyway?"
Keria paused a moment before answering, "Magic."
"No, really, how did you know?"
"I just said. Magic."
"Oh, come on, I'm not going to believe that like some little kid! Tell me!"
"Okay. I had looked around inside the gym right before you arrived and saw the bag of Pokéballs. It wasn't until later, though, that I figured out that they were the stolen ones. How else do you think I knew the gym leader wasn't there?"
"No, of course not. It was magic."
"That's not funny!"
Flip just shook his head and sighed.