EVERYONE: Jim: Blaze of Glory

Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 50

Thread: Jim: Blaze of Glory

  1. #1
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Jim: Blaze of Glory

    Book 2
    Jim: Blaze of Glory


    CHAPTER 1
    Intervention


    Jim had lost all power over his articulation, so astounded was he by what he had just been told. It was absolutely absurd, impossible, inconceivable.

    N, this mysterious youth, this enigmatic Trainer who knew his gift better than anyone, this rival that, while condescending at times, had always otherwise been good to him, especially in his time of emotional need only moments ago…how could he be affiliated with, let alone be the leader of, Team Plasma?

    N, for his part, had calmed down from his momentary bout of manic regret, and was watching Jim steadily, as if expecting him to suddenly punch him in the face for all that he had suffered. June kept her eyes on N the entire time, no less stupefied by the thunderous revelation just put forth, but her stare was more like a steady-eyed cat, watching a tricky mouse trying to make its escape.

    Jim swallowed, seeming to finally find his voice.

    “…How?…” he croaked.

    "Sage Ghetsis was my guardian…” said N. “He raised me to be what I am today. I never quite understood his intent, but for much of my youth, I was left to play with wild Pokemon, all of them having suffered injury by humans, whether physical or emotional. All my life, I’ve listened to their lamentations and felt their sorrows, and I knew that it must be up to me to right the sins humanity has caused them. So I was officially crowned king of Team Plasma, and I sent the Sages to spread my tidings and doctrine.”

    “So, Ghetsis’ attack against me? The kidnapped Deerling? Stealing the Fossils? Attempting to kill me in the desert?”

    “I never wished for any of that,” said N, in a pained voice. “If anything, I owe a good deal to you, Jim. You stopped them in their endeavors, and as king, it is in my power to punish them for what they did.”

    They stayed silent for a while, Jim a little surprised to hear himself being thanked for repeatedly thwarting his men.

    “It’s funny. I always thought of Ghetsis as the head honcho of Team Plasma.”

    “In a sense, he is. As he is the one who raised me, he is my chief advisor and counselor. I have granted him exclusive powers and rights seconded only to my own. I assumed he’d know best, so I left him to his own devices.”

    “But can’t you see?” Jim asked. “You’re their king! You said yourself that Ghetsis is still your second! You can easily overthrow his say! You must have seen what he’s doing!”

    “I have, Jim, but I’m afraid it’s not that simple.”

    “How so?”

    “Ghetsis is indeed my second, but he is still all the family I have ever had. If not for him, I may not have grown into the young man I am today. In some sense, he still overrules me. On top of that, he says that all that has happened is for the benefit of Pokemon liberation. I trust him,and by the time I see what he directed my men to do, it is too late for me to intervene, and even then, what jurisdiction do I have against my own father-figure? There is nothing I can do.”

    He looked out the window at the sunset sky, and Jim felt a feeling of hopelessness within him. If N, the true leader behind Team Plasma, couldn’t stop these actions, then what hope was there beyond stalling them time and again?…

    The Ferris wheel creaked to a stop, with their car on the ground. The door opened, and they stepped out, but an unwelcome surprise met them.

    Two Team Plasma guards were waiting for them, holding Leanne and Bianca by the wrists, though they were struggling to free themselves, Bianca with much violence and shrieking. Leanne’s Oshawott was nowhere to be seen, most likely called into his Poke Ball, otherwise he might have tried to fight the guards off himself.

    Jim felt a mad impulse to rush at them and make them release them, by his fists, if necessary, but he was stopped by N stepping forward.

    “What is the meaning of this?” he demanded.

    Jim nearly jumped in shock. The voice N used was far beyond the calm, laid-back tones he normally used. It was stern, commanding, and offering no chance for argument. Not only that, but at the sight of his friends held captive, he had felt an urge to make good on his threat to attack N with all the force he had at a sign of betrayal. Seeing him caught off-guard by what happened changed that, however.

    “My lord!” said one of the guards. “We captured the Stevens boy’s companions! They told us you were at the Ferris wheel, most likely abducted by him, so we came to your rescue!”

    Jim was about to take indignation at such a ludicrous accusation, but a motion from N stopped him. He gave a meaningful sidelong look at Jim, in a way that said ‘play along’.

    “A very narrow escape, men,” he said, still in his commanding voice. “Stevens is a man of powerful persuasion, but I never knuckled under once.”

    Jim had to suppress a laugh, remembering N’s panic attack only moments ago, but he kept his face as straight as he could, in a look of contempt.

    “I knew you were shrewd in combat, N,” he said, “but I never took you for a man of indomitable will. If I can’t conquer you psychologically, our only resource is to battle it out the old-fashioned way!”

    “As you wish, but I will not hold back!”

    With that, N rejoined his guards, the three of them facing Jim. The guards released Leanne and Bianca, and they rushed to join Jim, hiding behind him.

    “Three against one?” Jim asked. “I don’t find that fair at all.”

    “As you shouldn’t,” said N, levelly. “Men, you may stand down. I will handle Stevens myself.”

    “But, my lord-”

    “Silence. I will not be swayed.”

    Reluctantly, the Team Plasma soldiers stepped away, leaving Jim and N to themselves. N was the first to draw a Poke Ball.

    “Klang, come forth!”

    In the burst of light that ensued, Jim saw a Pokemon that was familiar, yet different. It was composed of two gears, one unmistakably a Klink gear, but the other much larger, with a round eye, a square eye, and a frowning, V-shaped mouth. Both were connected in the middle by a smaller gear. Jim opened up his Pokedex to check it.

    “Klang, the Gear Pokemon, and the evolved form of Klink. Klang expresses emotions by the rotations of its gears. When angered, it rotates rapidly.”

    It was a Steel type, meaning June and Echo were out of the question. On top of that, Croco and Torch, who would have had the most advantage, were most likely tired out from the Gym battle with Elesa. Jim inwardly cursed the fact that he wasn’t able to heal after the battle. That left only one option left.

    “Torrent, let’s do it!”

    He tossed up his Poke Ball, and there, in the usual burst of light, stood the Simipour, standing cool and complacent.

    “A Simipour, is it? Interesting choice. I’ll allow you the first move, then.”

    “Well, how gracious of you. Torrent, Scald!”

    Torrent took a deep breath, then spat a stream of boiling water at Klang.

    “Klang, Protect!” commanded N.

    A greenish-blue bubble appeared around Klang, blocking the attack.

    “Now, Gear Grind!”

    Klang flew straight at Torrent, the two gears coming apart as it came closer. In one swift movement, the gears flipped over on their faces and surrounded Torrent on both sides. Then, they began spinning rapidly, striking Torrent repeatedly with the teeth along their sides. Jim cringed from the brutal appearance of the attack, especially on reflection of the name ‘Gear Grind’.

    “Come on, Torrent! Try to shake it off!”

    Torrent tried another spray of water against Klang, but whether or not it had any effect was anyone’s guess, as it bounced off its metallic, rapidly-rotating surface up into the air. N smiled with satisfaction, and even his guards looked confident. Jim, however, was ready to rain on their parade.

    “Ok, you wanna play this the hard way? Fine. Torrent, use Brick Break from below!”

    A slight check in N’s expression, a subtle start, showed Jim that he had never seen this coming. Torrent, with an effort, shifted his arm and positioned his paw in a karate chop, glowing white. Sharply, he swung it upwards, slamming Klang in the face on its larger gear and sending it flying. Deprived of the motion of its partner, the smaller fell away as well, allowing Torrent to duck away. By some magnetic force, the gears stopped before hitting the ground, came back together, and flipped back up, spinning regularly, though with a noticeable buff on the face of the larger gear.

    “Very resourceful, Jim,” said N. “I would never have expected your Simipour to possess such an attack. I always knew you had a talent for thinking outside the box. However, this battle is far from over. Klang, Thunderbolt!”

    Klang’s gears began to spin more rapidly, surrounded in an electrical aura. Then, a blast of electricity shot forth straight for Torrent.

    “Evade it with Acrobatics!” commanded Jim.

    Torrent somersaulted into the air, the Thunderbolt blasting the ground where he had stood.

    “Now, use Scald from above!”

    Torrent pulled out of his spin and spat another jet of scalding water straight for Klang, striking it right where it floated. N, however, was unfazed.

    “Thunderbolt once again!”

    Klang sent another blast of electricity straight for Torrent, and this time, the attack struck home, zapping him and sending him plummeting to the ground.

    “Torrent!” Jim cried.

    The Simipour landed heavily on his feet, smoking from the blast.

    “You all right?”

    Torrent, somewhat shakily, flashed him a thumbs-up, but he was hurting from that blast.

    “Let’s finish this,” said N, decisively, “He should be weak enough from that for this. Klang, Gear Grind!”

    Klang flew at Torrent once more, flipping over and separating its gears.

    “Not this time! Torrent, Acrobatics followed by Brick Break!”

    Torrent leaped upwards, causing Klang to come back together with a harsh clanging noise. Torrent raised both of his arms, his paws blazing white, and then came plummeting down, slamming Klang with all the force he could muster, both paws hitting both gears on their upturned faces. They slammed into the ground with a heavy thud, both sets of eyes on their faces reduced to dizzy spirals.

    “Way to go, Torrent!” said Jim, ecstatic.

    Torrent, still frazzled from taking the Thunderbolt attack directly, hobbled over and gave Jim a high-five. N, with only mild surprise on his face, as if the defeat had done nothing to dampen his spirits, recalled Klang.

    “Well done, Jim,” he said. “A most invigorating performance.”

    “What do you mean ‘invigorating’?” asked Jim, suspiciously.

    “I can now see just how much you’ve progressed, and what lengths you are willing to go to keep your opponents on your toes. I always knew you would make a worthy rival.”

    As he said this, there was an almost-imperceptible gleam in his eyes, a sort of knowing spark, but it was all Jim needed to see just what he really meant by those words.

    The Team Plasma soldiers had bowed low, muttering,

    “Hail Lord N."

    “So gracious and wise."

    “At ease, men,” said their leader. “We depart. We shall meet again, Jim, make no mistake of that. Wherever you go, Team Plasma will be right behind, ready to trip you up should you show any weakness…”

    “Duly noted,” said Jim, calmly.

    A small smile crossed N’s face, which was then replaced by a stiff, militaristic look as he turned to his men. They stood at attention, one on each side of him, then all three turned on their heels and strode out of the amusement park. As soon as they were gone, Jim turned to the girls.

    “Are you both all right?”

    “I think so,” said Bianca. “Oh, Jim, you have no idea how scary that was!”

    “They caught us when we came off the roller coaster,” said Leanne. “They said we would be ‘leverage’ against you. They apparently thought you were holding N hostage in the Ferris wheel.”

    “Flattering,” Jim said, flatly.

    There was a burst of light, and Oshawott appeared, looking very angry.

    “Where are they, the cowards?!” he demanded, drawing his scalchop. “Ruffians and scoundrels, the lot of them! If they had harmed a hair on my Leanne’s head, I’d settle them in ten seconds flat!”

    “I’m sure you would have,” said Jim, amused. “Well, they’re gone, and that’s what matters.”

    Oshawott, with a sigh, replaced his scalchop.

    “Forgive my rashness, lad. It’s not normal that I’m this roused.”

    “Don’t worry about it. I had a strong urge to go nuts on them myself, if they’d hurt them.”

    Leanne looked at him with an appreciative tenderness in her eyes at these words.

    “So, what do we do now?” asked Bianca.

    “Well, our passes are valid until the park closes tomorrow, so I say we head back to the Pokemon Center, get some sleep, and spend tomorrow here. I think we could use a day of fun after all the craziness we’ve had in the past few days. What do you think?”

    “That’s a great idea!” said Bianca, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet.

    “Sounds like a plan to me,” said Leanne, beaming.

    With that, the three of them, and their Pokemon, took their leave of the park as well, but making sure to stay clear of N and his guards, in case they hadn’t gone far. Such precaution was unnecessary, however, as there was no sign of them whatsoever, as if they had vanished into the dusk…

    My White 2 Team

  2. #2
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 2
    Painful Reflections


    Jim had a very unpleasant time trying to get to sleep. How could he sleep after all that he had experienced that day?

    When they had returned to the Pokemon Center, Jim went to have his Pokemon healed up, never letting on what he was really feeling inside to either Leanne or Bianca. To all appearances, nothing had happened to him beyond his victories at the tournament and the Gym. The girls, naturally, felt worried about his change of demeanor, but said nothing, not wishing to spoil it. Now that everyone else was asleep, however, Jim was able to immerse himself in his own tumultuous thoughts.

    Everything had started out so well, with winning the tournament and earning his fourth League Badge…but then there was the confrontation with Cheren, and the secrets N had disclosed to him. Of course, he hadn’t bothered to tell Leanne or Bianca about said secrets yet, as it would have most likely given them more to worry about. Still, all of these were bitter food for thought. His best friend since childhood, the boy whom he had regarded as a brother, had now become his enemy, solely out of jealousy for his success, and the mysterious youth he had been meeting on chance occasions was not only affiliated with Team Plasma, but was also their leader. Worse than that, N wasn’t the one pulling the strings, but Ghetsis, as it rightfully seemed so, and he was unable to do anything about it…

    All he could do was stare up at the moonlit ceiling, listening to his friends sleep, as if they hadn’t a care in the world. Even June’s breathing, as she slept on his chest, told him that her dreams were peaceful and untroubled. Only Bianca seemed to be restless as she dozed, tossing and turning beneath her covers. Jim figured this was because she too was feeling the pain of Cheren’s abandonment, even though he had done nothing to her directly. That may have been it, however. The wounds were not physical, but emotional, and those were the worst of all…

    Up until then, the three of them had been like a family, close-knit and bound by mutual friendship and affection, sharing the same dreams and aspirations. They had never truly ‘fought’, though Jim and Cheren often shared sarcastic banter with each other, due to their conflicting natures: Cheren being more reserved and bookish while Jim was more outgoing and imaginative. Bianca had always been in the middle, never sure whether to side with one or the other, but always putting on a cheerful face for both of them. Bianca…so innocent, so unoffending…it was unfair for her to have to suffer because of their differences…

    The thought of his ruined friendship only made him more miserable when he reflected how badly it would go over when the folks back home heard about it. His mother would more than likely feel indignant and hurt at the thought that her son was the victim of such jealous hatred, and if his father had still been around…well, he couldn’t quite call to mind what his father would say in that situation. Bianca’s parents would fret over how she was being affected by this, as she was always an impartial witness to Jim and Cheren’s bantering discussions and shenanigans. Cheren’s folks…that was difficult to say. Cheren’s mother and father were definitely busy people, and so came off as a bit stuffy or aloof at times, but had never been discourteous or unkind to Jim. Who would they blame? Jim for having led Cheren to this frame of mind? Cheren for jumping to conclusions and refusing to listen to reason? Themselves for feeling responsible for him turning out this way? It was too early to tell…

    Then there was N. It was true that the two of them had never truly been ‘friends’, yet he couldn’t deny that there was a certain kinship between the two of them. Both had a deeper, broader understanding of Pokemon than most would consider, if only due to the fact that both could speak to them on an equal level. Still, there was no dancing around the truth: N was the leader of Team Plasma. Under him, hundreds, maybe thousands, of men and women were leading unknowing, innocent people into believing that the true path to happiness was letting their Pokemon go free, regardless of whether or not they were just Pokemon or more like family to them. Of course, some of the more ignorant ones may accept such ideas, but those with stronger, more willful hearts would see it for the bunk it really was. Still, was N truly an enemy, just because he led the enemy?

    Even then, he wasn’t the one behind the more unlawful acts. That, assumedly, was all Ghetsis’ doing. He was the true core of Team Plasma, the unopposed force that kept it going. N had deep respect among his troops, but Jim knew nothing of the true relationship between him and Ghetsis. After all, he’d never seen the two of them together at once. Not only that, but N was actually regretful of what had happened beneath his notice, that which Ghetsis had condoned, under the name of Team Plasma. Once again, the question loomed: was N an enemy, just because he was affiliated with the enemy?

    It was all becoming too much to bear…

    At last, he couldn’t take it anymore. Slowly, he got up from his bed and headed to the window, overlooking Nimbasa City’s streets. It was still ablaze with lights, even at that late hour, and there were still people milling about. How funny it was, that they could go about their lives, heedless of the turmoil churning through his mind and body…If they’d known what he suffered, they might not be so carefree…

    “Not thinking of jumping, are you?”

    Jim jumped, startled. He had not expected to have been discovered. Looking down, he breathed a sigh of relief. It was only June.

    “How did you know I was up?”

    “You have to ask that? I was sleeping right on top of your chest.”

    “I thought I’d been careful.”

    “Not nearly as careful to avoid me.”

    She gave him a small smile, which he couldn’t help but return. She then nestled herself against him, between his arm and side.

    “Come on, now, what’s the matter?”

    “Now it’s my turn to ask, ‘you have to ask’? …Everything’s the matter.”

    June said nothing, but looked up at him with full attentiveness.

    “Everything was going so well. I won the Nimbasa Battle Tournament, I won my fourth Badge, I saved Bianca from having to return home…but at what cost? I lose my childhood friend, and I find out the leader of Team Plasma’s not only the last person I’d have expected, but that he can’t do anything against Ghetsis. How can I go on after this?”

    “Go on? What do you mean, ‘go on’?”

    “…I don’t deserve to be a Trainer, June.”

    June’s eyes widened in shock, but she said nothing.

    “I’m no Trainer in the traditional sense. I’m just a guy who keeps getting lucky!”

    Even though his voice became heated, he still spoke barely above a whisper.

    “I tamed a Pokemon no one else had ever been able to (that Pokemon being you, I might add), I’m rescued by a legendary dragon said to only appear to its next chosen master, I’m touted as a hero against the campaigns of Team Plasma…heck, I can speak to Pokemon, when no one else can! I’m no role model! I’m just a victim of sheer, dumb luck! I’m a disgrace!”

    *SMACK!*

    Jim’s tirade died away instantly, stunned into silence, as June, eyes blazing with indignant anger, had smacked him hard across the face with her tail.

    “James Stevens, I’m ashamed of you. How can you even say such things? A victim of dumb luck? A disgrace? I refuse to tolerate such nonsense!”

    “But-”

    “Now you listen to me. You are a wonderful human being. You have the makings of a great Trainer in you. I see that in your eyes every time you battle. Yes, I will admit that recent circumstances haven’t been admirable, and I can understand you’re hurting from them. It’s no use denying that. However, I cannot allow you to continue beating yourself up like this. You are blessed with amazing friends, both human and Pokemon. You have undeniable courage, and a strong sense of justice. Nothing short of that would keep you opposing Team Plasma in their endeavors. You have had extraordinary luck to this point, yes, but there is one thing you’ve forgotten: despite all of your successes, you remain humble. Most who would be blessed with such would have let it go to their heads, intoxicating their senses, leading them into the false belief that they alone are what caused their victories. You, on the other hand, deny all of that, only taking credit where it’s due, and no more. You haven’t paraded around, bragging about your achievements. You keep them to yourself, and let the adulation of the public wash past you like water off a Ducklett’s back. You, Jim Stevens, are no disgrace. You are a kind, thoughtful boy, and I am proud to be your partner, as should any Pokemon.”

    Long before June had finished, Jim had been fighting to hold back the tears welling up inside him, but now it was a lost cause. The moment after she’d concluded, he grabbed her tightly in a hug, the tears rolling down his face. Smiling with gentle, sympathetic affection, she nuzzled him consolingly, giving him a tender lick on the cheek. All throughout, Jim was unable to say anything, but through his silent sobs, one phrase could be picked up by his Snivy partner.

    “…Thank you…”

    My White 2 Team

  3. #3
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 3
    A High-Speed Wonder


    By next morning, Jim was in much better spirits, both on the surface and within himself. June’s frank speech to him had alleviated much of his misgivings. True, they still remained (honestly, he didn’t think they would ever leave), but he at least wasn’t being weighed down by them as much. The guilt and uncertainty that filled his heart, though still present, had been soothed for the time. Not only that, but he had gained a stronger appreciation for his little Snivy, who had wisely taken his conflicts into account and offered relief for them. He truly was lucky to have her, and would never forget that.

    After breakfast, the first thing Jim did was arrange for his tournament prize money to be sent home via Pidove Express. It wasn’t the fastest, but it was the most reliable, so he felt secure in sending it that way. After that was taken care of, he, Leanne, and Bianca headed straight for the Nimbasa Amusement Park. Even at that early hour, so soon after it opened for the day, there were many people already within.

    “So, what are you two gonna do?” asked Jim.

    “Ride whatever we can get to first!” said Bianca, gleefully.

    “Don’t you wanna go with us?” asked Leanne.

    “I’m not sure at the moment. Roller coaster-type rides aren’t usually my thing.”

    “That makes two of us,” said Oshawott, from his place in Leanne’s arms.

    “That so?” asked Jim.

    “Quite. That high-speed excursion into the Gym was nauseating enough.”

    “Well, why don’t you mill around with June and me? Maybe we can find an attraction that suits your fancy more.”

    “Capital idea!”

    Though Leanne obviously couldn’t hear what Oshawott was saying, she seemed to guess what he was getting at from what Jim said.

    “Aw, I’m sorry, Oshawott. I didn’t know you didn’t like going fast like that,” she said.

    “Going fast I can handle,” said Oshawott, “such as on your bike, but something as harrowing as a roller coaster…that’s where I draw the line.”

    Jim translated this for Leanne, and she giggled.

    “Ok, Mr. Party Pooper, you can go with Jim, but behave yourself around June, understand?”

    “When have I ever done otherwise?” asked Oshawott, roguishly.

    June rolled her eyes in an amused way, and Oshawott was duly handed over to Jim.

    “Well, girls, go nuts, without fear. As experience has taught us, Plasma never strikes twice in the same place.”

    June gave him a light cuff at this corny pun, but smiled nonetheless.

    “We’ll meet back up for lunch, all right?”

    Without waiting to confirm his query, Bianca and Leanne rushed off into the hubbub of the park. Jim sighed and turned to his two Pokemon companions.

    “Well, shall we?”

    June climbed off his shoulder and snuggled herself into his arms, next to Oshawott. With that as confirmation, Jim set off into the amusement park.

    ***


    If Nimbasa City was the entertainment king in Unova, its amusement park was its crown jewel. Not a day went by without hundreds, thousands of people, Trainers, and Pokemon flocking to it, as it remained open 7 days a week, from 8 in the morning until midnight, weather permitting, of course. It was home to several high-speed roller coasters, the famous Ferris wheel, booth games, simulation rides, and much more. Alongside the Ferris wheel, the park’s pride and joy was the Electro Comet, designed to take the riders, in a winding, lightning-speed fashion, all across the park, underground and out again, all over the park in a sort of perimeter. Wherever one went within the park, they could see a section of the Electro Comet looming over.

    As Jim, June, and Oshawott milled around, taking in the sights, one attraction building caught the former’s eye:

    Wonder Launcher Test Track

    The signboard included an image of something like a red, mechanical disk, worn on an arm wearing fingerless gloves, a Poke Ball flying from it. Below it, it read:

    10 Pokes a ride

    Inside, Jim could see a platform on a track, where he supposed someone was meant to stand as it moved. Intrigued, he walked up to the man standing outside the attraction, a scruff-bearded, middle-sized man with an energetic gleam in his eye. His nametag read ‘Nelson’.

    “Excuse me, sir. What can you tell me about this ride?”

    “Only that it gives you the experience of the biggest battling innovation ever invented, kid! The Wonder Launcher adds a new edge to battling, and you can experience it here if you don’t have the money to shell out for one yourself! If you ask me, I prefer this method, cuz the Launcher just hit the market, and I almost bankrupted myself just buying some for this ride!”

    He gave a bombastic laugh.

    “What is the Wonder Launcher, though?”

    “Does that mean you wanna try it out?”

    “Heck yes!”

    Jim handed over a 10 Poke bill, which Nelson took with another laugh.

    “That’s what I like to hear! Follow me, sport!”

    He led Jim inside, June and Oshawott looking at each other with curious interest on their faces. Nelson stepped onto one side, while Jim took the other, the two Pokemon at his side. Clamps in the floor sprang up, locking their feet in place. Jim started at their sudden appearance, and June and Oshawott, since they had no supports, clung to his legs.

    “Relax, kid. Just a safety precaution. Now, grab yourself a Launcher.”

    He gestured to the wall to Jim’s right, where several were hanging on hooks. Both took one, and Nelson showed him how to strap it on correctly. Once that was over, he pulled a lever on his side, and, with a clank and a hiss, the platform began to move forwards from Jim’s perspective.

    “All right, kid, here’s how this works. You choose your Pokemon and plug the Poke Ball, button first, into the slot on the side here.”

    He indicated said slot.

    “That registers your Pokemon into the Launcher’s mainframe. As the battle goes on, you accumulate points, or tokens, in this case, that build up over time depending on how well you do. Then, you use the points to give your Pokemon stat boosts, like Attack, Defense, or Speed. That way, the battle comes down to not only how your Pokemon performs, but how wisely you boost it. Get all that?”

    “Got it.”

    “Great! Let’s get started, then! Best two out of three, only one Pokemon choice per round. That means, once you use that Pokemon, you can’t use it again for the rest of the match. Got it?”

    “Got it.”

    “Good.”

    Nelson took a Poke Ball from his pocket and plugged the button into the slot on the side. There was a beep, as if of confirmation, and the screen on the face of the Launcher lit up. After that, Nelson tossed the Poke Ball up.

    “Golett, let’s do this!”

    There was a burst of light, and a new Pokemon appeared on the platform in front of him. It resembled a short, stocky humanoid made of what looked like blue stone. It had yellow, rectangular eyes, a fin-like structure on its head, short arms and legs, and an odd, swirling symbol on its torso, set in a diamond-shaped stone held by four straps, like a superhero insignia. There was a yellowish glow coming from within the spaces where its arms and legs came out. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    “Golett, the Automaton Pokemon. An indefinable energy gives it the ability to move. It is thought to have been created by the science of an ancient, unknown civilization.”

    It was a Ground/Ghost type, yet another odd combination. Still, after some consideration, Jim drew a Poke Ball and put its button into the slot on the side. The screen lit up. With that done, he threw the Ball up.

    “Come on out, Echo!”

    In the ensuing burst of light, the faithful Swoobat appeared. The display now showed a silhouette of Echo, alongside a bar reading ‘Health’ and several other numbers with abbreviated labels: “ATTK”, “DEF”, “SP”, and so forth. The one labeled “SP” was the highest of them.

    “A Swoobat, eh? Fair enough. Let’s get started, then!”

    Guard rails rose up in front of Jim and Nelson, caging the two Pokemon in, as it seemed.

    “First move goes to you, kid.”

    “Why, thank you. Echo, Air Cutter!”

    Echo soared up, his wings glowing blue. Then, with several forceful flaps, he sent a barrage of crescent-shaped energy blasts straight for Golett.

    “Block it off, Golett, then use Mega Punch!”

    Golett crossed its arms in front of its face, the Air Cutters bouncing off. Then, with a bound defying its physique, it lunged for Echo, its fist glowing white.

    “Dodge it, Echo!”

    Echo ducked away just in time, but Golett still hung in midair, so Nelson commanded,

    “Again!”

    And this time, Golett’s punch connected, slamming Echo straight to the ground. Cringing at the sound of his impact, Jim looked at his Launcher. Echo had lost a good fourth or third of his health, but he’d already accumulated two points. Each stat boost required a certain number of points. Attack and Defense each needed two, but Speed, Special Attack, and Special Defense required 4. Priciest of all was a rejuvenation in health, which was 8 points. Jim wavered on whether or not to use his points already to give Echo a bit of an edge. In the end, he decided to wait it out.

    “Now, Golett, use Shadow Punch!” commanded Nelson.

    Golett leaped for Echo again, this time its fist glowing with a smoky, purple fire.

    “Dodge, Echo, then use Shadow Ball!”

    Once more, Echo ducked away from Golett, then, quick as a blink, generated a sparking purple and black ball of energy, which he struck at the Automaton Pokemon with his wing, catching it in the side and sending it crashing back onto the field.

    “Woo!” whooped Nelson. “Now that’s what I like to see! Keep it up, boy, keep it up!”

    Thankfully, that display of tactical expertise had provided a bolster in Jim’s point intake, bringing it all the way up to 5. It seemed that Golett’s main attacks were physical, so he pressed a small button on the disc, right below the “DEF” indicator. The mainframe subtracted the four points, and a bluish aura surrounded Echo.

    “You want me to keep it up? Then let’s! Echo, Heart Stamp!”

    “Intercept with Shadow Punch!”

    Echo soared up and shot straight for Golett, a pink glow coming from his nose that spread across his entire body, like a shield. Golett, for its part, sprang forward, its fist flaming eerily once again. The two attacks struck, causing a miniature shock-wave and sending both Pokemon flying back. Jim glanced at Echo’s health meter, and saw that while it did go down somewhat, it would have been much worse if he hadn’t built up a resistance.

    A smile on Nelson’s face, however, told him that he had caught on to his strategy, and he pressed a button on his own Launcher. Golett became surrounded with a red aura, indicating a boost in Attack. Now the playing field was even once again.

    “Not bad, kiddo, not bad, but now let’s kick it up a notch. Golett, Rollout!”

    Golett tucked its arms and legs in, then began spinning rapidly in place, gaining speed until its features were blurred. Jim wasn’t sure how this was going to help any, since Echo could simply fly out of the way, but Golett shot forward, then leaped upwards! Both were caught by surprise at this change of expectations, so much so that Echo couldn’t dodge in time, and was slammed heavily. Golett landed on the other side, but came back for more and more strikes. Jim noticed, with a sinking feeling, that each blow depleted a little more from Echo’s health, coupled with the fact that Rollout was a Rock-type attack.

    At last, Golett seemed to rev up for one last strike, guaranteed to take Echo down. It was all or nothing…

    “Echo! Hold it back with Confusion!”

    Golett lunged, and Echo, with an effort, raised his wings, a pinkish aura surrounding him. Golett became surrounded by the same, and as it jumped, it slowed to a stop right in front of Echo. With another effort, the Courting Pokemon launched his opponent across the ring, slamming it against the guard rail and making it unfurl, dizzied. Nelson’s jaw dropped.

    “Now, go in for a Heart Stamp!”

    Echo swooped up and dived for Golett, surrounded by a pink light. Golett, unfortunately, was not able to regain its footing, and received the collision full force, causing a massive tremor along the rails. Golett slumped where it was, out cold from the attack. June and Oshawott cheered from their positions. Nelson sighed.

    “Guess that’s one loss for me,” he said. “Good job, Golett.”

    He recalled his fallen Pokemon as Jim recalled Echo.

    “I’m proud of you, Echo. Nice job.”

    “Not too shabby, kid, but we’ve only just begun. Now, let’s get to Round 2.”

    He drew his next Poke Ball and plugged it in before tossing it up.

    “Go, Mienfoo!”

    The Pokemon that appeared vaguely resembled a weasel, but its cream-colored pelt made it look like it was wearing the gi of a martial artist. The fur covering its arms and lower body was red, and it had a stern, battle-ready expression on its face. Jim took out his Pokedex once again.

    “Mienfoo, the Martial Arts Pokemon. Its sharp claws strike with swiftness and precision. It also overwhelms opponents with its skillful combo attacks.”

    It was a Fighting type, which Echo would have been more suited for, had he not just used him. Jim mentally berated himself for his choices. Still, he had to make due with what he had, so he drew his next Poke Ball, plugged it in, and tossed it up.

    “Missy, you’re next!”

    In the characteristic burst of light, out came his chipper, chubby Emolga, who hovered for a moment before landing down. She tugged at the corners of her bow and winked at Mienfoo, who betrayed absolutely no change in emotion.

    “Very interesting Emolga you’ve got there,” said Nelson. “Let’s get to it, then! Mienfoo, Poison Jab!”

    Mienfoo leaped straight for Missy, its paws glowing an ominous purple.

    “Dodge it, Missy!”

    Missy tried to dodge, but it seemed she’d lost some of the nimbleness she used to possess, as she was only able to sidestep one before the next socked her right in the stomach, throwing her against the rail. Jim tensed, hoping the Poison Jab didn’t leave a Poison effect behind. Thankfully, Missy showed no sign of it as she struggled to her feet.

    “Atta girl, Missy. Fight back with Shock Wave!”

    An electric aura surrounded Missy, and she fired a huge bolt of lightning right for Mienfoo.

    “Dodge and attack with Bounce!” commanded Nelson.

    Mienfoo leaped into the air, the Shock Wave electrocuting the railings instead. Then Mienfoo came hurtling straight down toward Missy, feet first.

    “Stop him with another Shock Wave!”

    Missy tensed, surrounded by electricity once again, and was only just in time. Mienfoo was mere inches from her before she let loose, catching Mienfoo in midair. The blow throw it back to its side, sparking and cringing.

    “Nice last minute save,” said Nelson, “but we’ve only just begun. Mienfoo, Stone Edge!”

    Mienfoo raised one arm, and dual rings of sharp stones surrounded its body. Seeing it from the other side of the battlefield (that is, seeing it about to be used against him) disconcerted Jim quite a bit.

    “Try to get around it with Acrobatics, Missy!” he said.

    Just as Mienfoo fired, Missy leaped off the ground and soared towards it, stones buffeting it as it went. No matter how hard she tried, the stones kept keeping her back, and she couldn’t reach Mienfoo, forcing her to retreat. Looking at her health, Jim saw that she was dangerously close to being knocked out.

    “Sorry, kid, I can tell you’re trying, but we’re a step ahead of you. Mienfoo, wrap this up with Focus Blast!”

    Mienfoo cupped its paws in front of it, generating a glowing ball of blue energy between them.

    “Counter it with Electro Ball!” said Jim.

    Missy, with an effort, jumped into the air, the end of her tail sparking and generating into a ball of yellow electricity. Both shot their attacks towards each other at the same time, and they clashed in the middle. Unfortunately, one was destined to come out on top, and that one was Mienfoo’s Focus Blast, which overwhelmed the Electro Ball and slammed into Missy. Despite the disadvantageous typing, Missy was overwhelmed and flopped onto her back, knocked out.

    This reduction of Missy’s battle prowess gave Jim very grim food for thought. Had she gotten soft since the last time she battled? Had he made her lose what she might have had before? Or was it the environment? Witnessing the celebrity splendor that was Nimbasa City must have had a profound effect on her, as it wasn’t until they’d arrived there that she had begun to show renewed resistance to training. Was she just never destined to be a good battler anymore? He didn’t dare look at June and see what she thought of this…

    Shaking himself out of his reflections, he recalled Missy as Nelson recalled Mienfoo.

    “Sorry, girl,” muttered Jim. “I should have known better.”

    “Don’t get too down in the mouth, kid,” said Nelson. “We’ve each got one under our belt, and this one’s gonna be the clincher!”

    “Er, right,” said Jim, pocketing Missy’s Poke Ball.

    Nelson drew his last Poke Ball, plugged it into his Launcher, and tossed it up.

    “Fraxure, you’re my last chance!”

    The Pokemon that appeared was a middle-sized dragon, dark-gray with green armor-like plating. Its red eyes were set within black sclera, and it had two long tusks extending from its mouth, striped with red at the end. Once more, Jim had to take out his Pokedex to check it.

    “Fraxure, the Axe Jaw Pokemon, and the evolved form of Axew. It diligently sharpens its tusks on rocks, as they cannot grow back if broken. Fraxure are extremely territorial, and their conflicts are very violent.”

    A Dragon type, and that only complicated matters further. None of Jim’s team had any attacks effective against Dragon Pokemon, but he would have to make due. He took his last Poke Ball, plugged it into his Launcher, and then tossed it up.

    “Torch, let’s finish this with a bang!”

    The Simisear, upon appearing, cast a nervous look at the vicious Fraxure, but stood his ground.

    “Let’s get started, then!” said Nelson. “Fraxure, Dragon Rage!”

    Fraxure leaned its head back, a bluish light glowing in its stomach area, and then it shot forth a bluish-black flame at Torch.

    “Use Acrobatics to get out of the way!”

    With an agility evident of his time as a circus performer, Torch swerved to one side, the Dragon Rage blasting right past and nearly hitting Jim. Torch continued on his route, and this time, unlike Missy, he was lucky in striking Fraxure the first blow of the match. Torch was coming in for another blow, but Nelson was ready this time.

    “Dual Chop!”

    Fraxure raised both arms, which glowed blue, and as Torch got within range, it swung sharply, using one arm to smack him on the skull, and the other to slap him back to his side of the field, where he slammed against the guard rail.

    “Torch! You all right?” Jim asked.

    Shakily, Torch helped himself back to his feet.

    “Atta boy. Show it what you’re really made of! Flamethrower!”

    Torch took a deep breath and shot a stream of flames at Fraxure.

    “Counter it with another Dragon Rage!” said Nelson.

    Fraxure shot another blue-black flame from its mouth, and the two flames collided, struggling to overcome each other just like Focus Blast and Electro Ball. Fortunately, Dragon Rage was a fixed-damage move, and weaker than Flamethrower, so it was pushed back without difficulty, causing Fraxure to be overwhelmed by both.

    “There we go!” Jim encouraged, “Keep it up!”

    “Oho, we’re cooking now!” said Nelson, enthusiastically. “Let’s keep this battle a-blazing! Fraxure, Dragon Claw!”

    Fraxure lunged, its claws glowing blue.

    “Dodge, Torch!”

    Torch sidestepped, making Fraxure miss, but it swung around with another strike, catching him across the face and slamming him against the rails once again. Fraxure leaped back to its side as Torch wobbled back to his feet.

    “Don’t give in, Torch…” Jim said.

    Torch, however, seemed to be undergoing some new agitation. He looked angered, and he was stomping the ground, in an all-too familiar way. Jim gaped.

    “No way…you’re learning Flame Charge?!”

    “Let’s wrap this up, then, kiddo!” said Nelson, who wasn’t aware of what was going on.

    He pressed a button on his Wonder Launcher, and Fraxure began glowing red.

    “Fraxure, Giga Impact!”

    Fraxure crouched, tensing, and a white light was intermingled with the red glow. Knowing it was all or nothing now, Jim looked at his points screen. His point intake had been reduced due to Missy’s poor performance in the last battle, but he now had enough for a few stat boosts. Thinking fast, he input requests for an Attack and Defense boost. A red glow, then a blue glow, surrounded Torch, but both were exchanged by a raging cloak of flames. Both he and Fraxure launched forward at the same time, and with a tremendous clash that rattled the car, they collided, creating an explosion of light and flames. Jim shielded his eyes, and he felt June and Oshawott grip tighter.

    Finally, when his vision was cleared, Jim strained his eyes to see what had become of the two combatants. Both had been flung to their opposite railings, and were using them to support themselves and keep from falling, both battered, bruised, and wearied. At last, both attempted to stand, legs wobbling, but while Torch was able to hold himself up, Fraxure, with a groan, tumbled onto its face.

    “…We won?” asked Torch, in exhausted surprise.

    “We won!” Jim affirmed, jubilation spreading over him.

    Nelson, surprised at first, regained himself and held his arm up, like a referee.

    “And the winner, with two out of three, is the challenger!”

    With that, he pulled another lever. The car began to slow its pace as it began to return to the main entrance, both Trainers recalling their Pokemon.

    “Excellent job, kid! That Flame Charge really saved ya!”

    “That was an unbelievable experience, sir, but if it’s all the same, I think I prefer the simple reliability of old-fashioned battling.”

    “Heh-heh, you and a lot of others, kid.”

    The car pulled to a stop, the supports retracted, and Jim, returning his Launcher to the rack, exited the attraction, feeling excited, but also rather dizzied.

    My White 2 Team

  4. #4
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 4
    Charity and Farewells


    As soon as Jim stepped away, however, a more troubling thought returned to his mind. Missy’s unusually lackluster performance in that last battle had unsettled him. She had held her own reasonably well against that rampaging Scolipede, and had managed to pull a surprise victory against N’s Yamask and Burgh’s Dwebble. Had those just been flukes? Had he ruined whatever chance she might have had at being a good fighter by coddling her, treating her more like a pet than a battler, just as June warned?

    He couldn’t have been wrong. Not all Pokemon were born to do what was traditional. The Audino that was now looking after his mother was proof enough of that. Some Pokemon were born to battle, some weren’t. What was he to do, though? Was he to leave her at Professor Juniper’s and keep Jolt as the permanent member of his team? Would she even understand his decision?

    “Jim? Are you all right?”

    “Uh?” Jim looked to his shoulder, where June was gazing at him intently.

    “You seemed out of it. What’s the matter?”

    “You ought to know what the matter is.”

    “Me?”

    “During the Launcher battle?”

    “I honestly don’t know what you’re…Oh, I see.”

    “Mm-hmm. Go ahead. Tell me how wrong I was.”

    “Jim…”

    “I know you want to. You always do.”

    “Now, don’t make me out to be the bad girl, Jim. I understand you’ve come to expect it of me, and I’ll admit I may have led myself into it, but I really do feel sorry for what’s happened. I wanted to have hope for her, I truly did.”

    “…Did you?”

    “Yes. While she’s gotten on my nerves, I honestly wanted to hope you could tame her worse habits.”

    “Well, I seem to have failed, haven’t I?”

    “Oh, now, don’t say that. It’s much too early to assume the worst. No one ever said training was going to be easy. You ought to recognize that by now.”

    “But then what do I do, June? I have no idea what to expect, when I might need her…”

    “Don’t give up on her yet, Jim. She may surprise you, if you let the chance present itself.”

    “…It’s funny.”

    “Hmm?”

    “All this time, I thought you disliked her, and now here you are, standing up for her. My little June’s growing up.”

    Jim stroked her head with his fingers, and she gave a slight chuckle.

    “Oh, stop it, you,” she said, softly.

    Jim glanced at Oshawott, who winked at him.

    ***


    Jim and the girls duly met up at lunch, where the latter two were flushed with excitement from what they’d been doing. Bianca had won a stuffed Tepig doll at a booth game, while Leanne had gotten herself a novelty bracelet with a small Poke Ball in the middle. Clicking it open showed a miniature Zorua. As they ate, Jim told them about his harrowing battle experience at the Wonder Launcher attraction. The description wowed Bianca immensely.

    “That sounds so cool! A new edge to battling!”

    “I’ll stick to the old-fashioned ways, thank you very much,” Jim said, bringing a laugh from all around. “It was a neat experiment, however, and I can see why it would catch on. Still, it’s a little too complex for my tastes.”

    “Aw, lighten up, old-timer,” said Leanne, nudging him in the arm. “Progress is progress.”

    “‘Old man’? I’m just as old as you are!”

    “He’s a year older than me,” said Bianca, “so he’d still be an old man to me, at least.”

    This brought an uproarious laugh from the two of them.

    “Girls,” Jim muttered, rolling his eyes.

    In doing so, however, he caught sight of two teenage boys sitting at a table, twins, both with sandy hair, looking quite gloomy. Leaving his seat, he went over to speak to them.

    “If I didn’t know any better,” he said, “I’d say the point of an ‘amusement’ park has flown over your heads.”

    “The way things have been going, it’s no wonder,” said the taller one, who was wearing a pair of glasses.

    “Why? What’s wrong?”

    “Oh, it’s nothing you ought to worry yourself about,” said the shorter one. “We just got skunked out of being able to battle the Subway Bosses.”

    “Really? That’s too bad.”

    “We’d been training for weeks for it,” said the taller twin, “and came all the way from Undella Town.”

    “Undella? The resort city on the seaside?”

    “That’s the one.”

    “That’s quite a distance. How did you miss out?”

    “They were hosting their stamp contest rally in the Subway station yesterday,” said the younger. “It’d been postponed until the end of the tournament, so we thought we had a chance. We were one stamp away, and we ran out of time…”

    “Oh, gosh. That’s a real shame.”

    “Yeah, we know…”

    Jim regarded the melancholy twins for a moment or two, and then, an idea struck him.

    “There may be a way to see them after all.”

    He’d said the magic words. The two looked up, surprised.

    “Really?”

    “How so?”

    “Wait here.”

    He went back over to his friends, who had been watching his actions with curiosity.

    “I’ll be right back,” he said. “I’ve got an important mission to fulfill.”

    “Noble as always, aren’t you?” asked June, jokingly.

    “I want you to accompany me, actually, June. I may need you.”

    “Need me? Do you expect to be attacked?”

    “No, but I do expect something.”

    With a small shrug, she clambered onto his shoulder.

    “Bianca, do you have a X-Transceiver?”

    “Sure!” said Bianca, holding her arm up and showing off the handy gadget strapped to her wrist.

    “Excellent. I’ll call you when I’m on my way back, so don’t worry about heading on more rides without me.”

    “But what are you doing, Jim?” asked Leanne.

    “I just feel it’s time to let a little more good come from my winning the Tournament.”

    With this answer, Jim returned to the two twins.

    “Follow me, guys. This shouldn’t take long.”

    Looking puzzled, the boys followed him through the crowd and out of the park, and seemed even more astounded to see that Jim was leading them to an entrance to the Subway.

    ***


    The Nimbasa Subway Station was a hub for activity. It had several stations and stops all across Nimbasa City, but also had a train that went to a small junction called Anville City, which was a popular stop for traders to sell and swap their wares. It was down here, in the sprawling station, that the Subway Bosses, Emmet and Ingo, were king. They were the masters of the railway, and it was by their expert hands that the subway trains were directed every hour on the hour. As has been mentioned, the station hosted a contest that gave Trainers the chance to battle against the two Bosses themselves, which was held only once a month. It consisted of traveling all across the many terminals in the Subway Station, collecting ink stamps on cards with corresponding images. Whoever could have their card completed by the time the time allotted ran out would have the privilege of battling Emmet and Ingo in a double battle.

    Jim led the two brothers down into the subway and went straight to the information desk.

    “Excuse me,” he said, politely, to the receptionist, “would it be too much trouble to contact the Subway Bosses and have them meet us here? It’s important.”

    Making sure the twins didn’t see, he presented his pass, the one that was part of his grand prize from the tournament. The receptionist gazed intently at it, as if to check its validity, then said,

    “No trouble at all, sir. One moment.”

    She picked up her phone, pressed a button, and, after a pause, said,

    “Hello, Mr. Emmet. There is a gentleman here who wishes to see you and Mr. Ingo…At the Amusement Park Terminal…Yes, he’s the one. He’s shown me his proof…Thank you, sir.” She hung up and said to Jim, “They’ll be with you shortly.”

    “Thank you, ma’am.”

    He turned back to the twins, who were still confused.

    “What’s going on?” asked the taller twin.

    “In good time, guys, in good time,” said Jim. “Oh, stupid me, I never did get your names, did I?”

    “It’s all right. I’m Peter, and this is my little brother Artie.”

    “Charmed,” said Jim, doffing his hat, an act that made June giggle softly. “I’m Jim, Jim Stevens, and this is June, my Snivy.”

    The two brothers looked as if they had just seen a ghost.

    “Did you say your name was…Jim Stevens?” asked Artie.

    “I think I did,” said Jim, in a mild tone, as if forgetful of his own actions. “Did I say that, June?”

    June, playing along, nodded.

    “Ah, I thought I did.”

    “Jiminy…” breathed Peter. “Artie, it’s the Battle Tournament champion!”

    “And that’s the Snivy that won him the finals!”

    “Please, guys, please,” said Jim, holding up his hands in a placating manner. “I’m not here to brag about my achievements. In fact, I’m here to wash my hands of the business.”

    “What do you mean?” asked Artie.

    “I believe what he means,” said a voice behind the two, “is that he’s here to finish what’s left over.”

    The two whirled around, and their jaws fell open. Standing behind them were two towering men, twins, just like them, with iron-gray hair and pale faces, dressed in identical trench coats and conductor’s hats, but one’s was white, and the other’s black.

    “Emmet and Ingo, I presume?” asked Jim, politely.

    “Indeed, Mr. Stevens,” said Ingo, the one dressed in black. “We weren’t expecting you so soon.”

    “But from the sound of your conversation,” said Emmet, the one dressed in white, “you have something else in mind.”

    “I do, actually. Sirs, I’d like you to meet Peter and Artie, from Undella Town. By your permission, I want to grant them the right to use my free pass to battle the two of you.”

    Upon hearing this, the twins whirled around, startled.

    “But…why?” asked Peter.

    “You two have been training for weeks for this moment. I was given the moment at pure random. You deserve it much more than I do.”

    Jim held out the ticket to them.

    “Mr. Stevens, we couldn’t-” said Artie.

    “Please take it. If you don’t, I’ll rip it to pieces and throw it to the wind. I don’t want it and I don’t need it. You both deserve it.”

    After staring in stunned silence for a few moments more, Peter held out one trembling hand and received the ticket.

    “…Thank you,” he gasped out, gratitude stamped all across his and his brother’s faces.

    “Think nothing of it,” said Jim. He then turned to the Subway Bosses. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t battle you myself, sirs, but as I said, I’d wish to be a bit more ready before I venture a challenge against you.”

    “We perfectly understand,” said Ingo.

    “We eagerly await the time when that day comes,” said Emmet.

    “In the meantime, follow us, Peter and Artie.”

    The two Subway Bosses turned and walked off, the challenging twins numbly following behind. Jim was grinning from ear to ear.

    “That was very charitable of you, Jim,” said June, proudly.

    “I just feel good to finally have that off my hands. To be honest, I’m aching to move on with our journey.”

    “Same here. It feels like we’ve been in Nimbasa for months.”

    “But we’ve only been here for 5 days.”

    “I know, and that’s what unnerves me.”

    ***


    After contacting Bianca to let her know he and June were on their way back, the two left the station and found the girls at the park gate, waiting for them. They expressed to him that they were feeling tired from the rides, not to mention Leanne had a headache, so they decided to return to the Pokemon Center and rest. While Leanne napped on her old bed, Jim explained to Bianca about his act of generosity.

    “Aw, that was so sweet of you, Jim.”

    “I really had no other use for it, Bianca. I would never have been prepared to take them on. Besides, I did it to reassure myself that I wasn’t going to end up intoxicated by my own victory.”

    “Because of what Cheren said?”

    "…That’s one reason for it.”

    “Jim, you’re not really going to take what he said seriously, are you?”

    “Of course not, because I know he’s wrong. Still, I’d rather live without stewing in vanity and egotism.”

    “That’s the spirit, Jim,” she said, with a smile, which he returned.

    “Attention, please,” called Nurse Joy, over the intercom, “if Miss Bianca is in the building, could she please report to the front desk right away?”

    Bianca looked up, confused.

    “What would they want me for?”

    Jim shrugged, equally bewildered, and all Bianca could do was do as she was asked. She returned a couple minutes later, looking like she couldn’t decide whether she should be glad or disappointed. A small box, wrapped in brown paper, was in her hands.

    “What is it?”

    “Nurse Joy gave me this package, and says it needs to be returned to Professor Juniper back home.”

    “What? Why you?”

    “I don’t know. All Nurse Joy said was Professor Juniper had called her and said, ‘I know I can entrust this with Bianca. She’s not one to let a friend down when it’s important’. I honestly didn’t know what to say.”

    “She’s not too far off, though,” said Jim.

    This brought a blush to his friend’s cheeks, but it was stifled by a more melancholy look.

    “But, Jim, this means we have to separate. I’ll be heading back the way I came, while you continue on. Remember what you said to Daddy?”

    “I remember, Bianca, but if you’re willing to do this voluntarily, then this isn’t the same scenario.”

    “…In a way, I am willing. I’ve kind of always wanted to help Professor Juniper with her research.”

    “Is that so?”

    “That’s partly why I wanted to see Unova: so I could see all different kinds of Pokemon, and then maybe I could help Professor Juniper with her research.”

    “I find that a very admirable dream,” Jim said, “though I can’t help but wonder why you never told me this before.”

    “Well…because I didn’t think you’d believe me, with me being who I am…”

    “Bianca, don’t say that," said Jim, tenderly. "You know you're one of my best friends. Don’t ever feel like you can’t trust me.”

    Bianca looked up into Jim’s earnest face, and she smiled at last.

    “You’re right, Jim. That was silly of me to say…”

    “I’d better wake Leanne up,” said Jim. “She’ll want to see you off.”

    “Allow me,” said June.

    She left Jim’s shoulders and flitted upstairs. In a few moments, there was a sound like a great deluge of water, a shriek, and in the next instant, both June had hurried back downstairs, Oshawott close behind, followed by a dripping and bewildered Leanne. It seemed the Snivy had convinced Oshawott to give his mistress a prompt, but rather unwelcome, wake-up call via Water Gun.

    “What happened?” she asked. “Where’s the fire?”

    “No fire, Leanne,” said Jim, who was trying his hardest to keep from laughing, “but, in all seriousness, Bianca has to leave.”

    “Huh? Why?”

    “She’s been tasked with delivering something to Professor Juniper back in Nuvema Town.”

    “Aww, that’s too bad. She’d be doing just what her father wanted her to do in the first place.”

    “Not exactly. This time, she’s more or less willing to, right, Bianca?”

    “Yeah. It’s all right, Leanne, really.”

    “Well, if you’re sure…I just hope Team Plasma doesn’t pull any funny stuff on you on your way back.”

    “I’m not completely defenseless,” answered Bianca. “I can handle them with my own Pokemon, if Jim can easily throw them around.”

    “Well, I wouldn’t call it ‘throwing around’,” said Jim, modestly.

    His modesty was checked, however, when Bianca suddenly embraced him tightly.

    “…I’ll miss you so much, Jim, but I know you’re going to do great. Show the rest of those Gym Leaders what you’re made of.”

    “Bianca…”

    Jim put his arms around her in turn, holding his dear friend close.

    “I’ll miss you too. Be careful out there, all right?”

    “I will.” She then turned to Leanne. “You will keep him out of trouble, won’t you?”

    “Well, I’ve been trying, but you know how he is.”

    The two laughed, as Jim rolled his eyes, and they warmly pressed each other’s hands.

    “Take care of yourself, Bianca.”

    “You too.”

    In a burst of light, Dewott suddenly appeared from his Poke Ball, facing June and Oshawott. Looking as calm and stern as a military officer, he held out his paw, and the two, comprehending his action, shook hands with him. At last, tucking the package safely into her rucksack, and bestowing one last gentle smile on her two friends, Bianca took her leave, Dewott by her side.

    “She’s gonna be just fine,” said Jim, after she’d left. “She may not always show it, but she’s got a good head on her shoulders.”

    Nodding, Leanne gently squeezed his shoulder.

    “Are you both going to be continuing on as well?” asked Nurse Joy.

    “Yes, ma’am,” said Jim, turning to her, “but ahead rather than back.”

    “In that case, your next stop should be Driftveil City to the west, across the drawbridge.”

    “Driftveil City. Got it. Thank you.” He turned to Leanne. "Tomorrow, then?"

    "Tomorrow," said Leanne. "I've still got to work off this headache..."

    My White 2 Team

  5. #5
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 5
    Drawn Into Danger


    The Driftveil Drawbridge was the one connection between Nimbasa City and Driftveil City, a vast expanse of red steel stretching over a wide river dividing the two. It could be crossed, on foot, within an hour by leisurely pace, and within 15 minutes by bicycle, while it was down. Of course, as it was a drawbridge, it had to be pulled up to allow the passage of ships, which made their way to the Driftveil Docks.

    Driftveil City itself was a thriving port town, boasting an active harbor and prosperous marketplace. Hardly a day passed without its docks full of sailboats and shipping vessels, the latter bringing countless amounts of fresh, imported produce, medicinal herbs, and other continental purchases. The more precious edible imports were kept within the cold storage warehouse, another of the city’s boasts being its high security storage facilities. If there was one caveat travelers and natives alike had with the town, it was that it was susceptible to frequent precipitation, but this was a minor detail.

    So it was that, a little after midday the following day, Jim, Leanne, and their Pokemon companions came to the western end of Nimbasa City, and could see the enormous drawbridge looming over them. As they approached, they became aware of several loud squawks and quacks from above. Straining and shading his eyes, Jim could pick out several bird Pokemon flying above. They resembled light blue ducks with darker blue down feathers on their lower bodies. Jim took out his Pokedex to scan them.

    “Ducklett, the Water Bird Pokemon. Ducklett are talented swimmers and defend themselves by spraying water from their feathers. They live primarily in ponds or rivers.”

    “This seems to be a favorite spot for them,” Jim remarked, still observing the energetic Pokemon.

    “If you ask me, they’re awfully excited about something,” said Oshawott, who also had his gaze skyward.

    “What do you mean?”

    “Undoubtedly, Ducklett are exuberant, playful Pokemon, but this seems to be no chance gathering of diversion. There must be some activity going forth further along the bridge.”

    Jim looked from him to the Ducklett, wondering what he could mean.

    “I guess we’ll see once we get there,” he said, with a shrug, and they continued on.

    All the while, Jim couldn’t help but look up at the cloud of swarming Ducklett. Something indeed seemed to be disturbing or exciting them. It seemed to get worse as they progressed on, towards the halfway mark where the bridge divided to allow ships to pass.

    All of a sudden, after they’d been walking close to a half hour, there was a noise like gunfire, and some form of projectile blasted upwards, scattering the bird Pokemon and filling the skies with scared and indignant quacks. A cold thrill ran through Jim’s limbs. Was someone trying to shoot them?! Fearing the worst, he quickened his pace, as did Leanne, who looked equally unnerved.

    Speed was unnecessary, however, as, over the rise of the bridge, they saw what it was that had caused the disturbance. Several Team Plasma grunts were standing at the joint of the bridge‘s divide, having posted barricades on the side facing them. Behind them, one arm pointed upward, was a very bizarre-looking Pokemon. It seemed to be made of some greenish, sludgy material, spotted with pink and blue, made solid into a large, very dumpy body, though its head and face were covered by a dark-green cloth, through which two ball-shaped appendages of the same sludgy material protruded. It had round, saucer-shaped eyes and a very toothy mouth, and its arms were unequally made. One had three pipe-like fingers, and the other had a single hose-like appendage. A very foul smell was coming from it that nearly made Jim gag as he pulled out his Pokedex.

    “Garbodor, the Trash Heap Pokemon, and the evolved form of Trubbish. Garbodor feeds on garbage, which then becomes part of its body. It attacks by spraying poisonous gas and filth from the fingers of its right hand.”

    “What are you doing?!” Jim demanded.

    “Well, well, well,” said one of the grunts, who seemed to be the leader of the pack, “if it isn’t the Stevens lad himself. Come to play the hero once more?”

    “I see you’re still not shy about being jerks out in the open,” said Jim. “Why did you shoot at those Ducklett?”

    “They would have attracted unwanted attention to us,” said the same grunt, simply. “Besides, they were being a nuisance.”

    “And why don’t you desire such attention?” Jim asked, pointedly.

    “That business is our own,” said another grunt, “so keep your nose out of it.”

    Garbodor flexed its arms and growled.

    “So you’re blocking off everyone from going in or out of Driftveil City. Oh yeah, you guys are so noble in the name of Pokemon,” said Jim, sarcastically.

    “We do what we must,” said the first grunt, “for is it not true that, often enough, great accomplishments require sacrifices?”

    “Don’t act like there’s philosophy backing up your actions,” snapped Jim, “when you’ve so far resorted to thievery, kidnapping, and attempted murder!”

    “All means to an end,” said a third grunt. “Why should it matter what you say? You are little better than a heretic in our eyes.”

    “A heretic?!” said Jim, nearly screaming. “You’re seriously treating this like it’s your ‘God-given duty’ to release Pokemon by any means necessary?! Every time I think I’ve got you weirdoes figured out, you throw something else in to utterly confound me!”

    “We would never expect you to understand the truth,” said the first grunt.

    “Yeah, you’ve kinda been driving that into my head since day 1!” said Jim, still angry. “And speaking of, if history has taught you anything, you should know that trying to detain me or get on my bad side is always gonna end up with you guys looking like idiots, so step aside, before you repeat said history!”

    “We’re afraid not.”

    At the same moment, there was a loud creaking, and behind the grunts, who were now smiling with satisfaction, the drawbridge opened and raised itself, stopping with a clang when its dividing sections were at right angles with the rest of the bridge. Jim saw, out of the corner of his eye, a swift-moving boat moving under the bridge from the left to the right, heading for the distant port on the other side of the bridge. Even from his position, he could make out the Team Plasma symbol painted on its hull.

    He now saw what this was all about: they had been detaining him and anyone else from entering or leaving Driftveil City to allow reinforcements to arrive by boat! He could only guess what their designs for the market town could be…

    “Ok, so you’ve got more of your friends docking at Driftveil, big deal. Now let us pass!”

    “I don’t think so,” said the grunt, “for you see, now that we have cleared the way, there’s even more reason to keep you away. Garbodor, to the top, as we planned!”

    The Trash Heap Pokemon let out a roar, and Jim and Leanne stepped back, hands drawing Poke Balls. Before they could do anything, however, Garbodor, with skill belying its bulk, actually scaled the raised portion of the bridge, using some hold or grip invisible to the eyes of the two Trainers, until it was precariously perched on top.

    “Now, Garbodor! Leap off and use Explosion once you hit the water!”

    “WHAT?!” Jim and Leanne shouted, together.

    Were these men mad?!

    Obediently, and with a sinister grin on its toothy face, Garbodor jumped backwards and plummeted, out of sight due to the raised part of the bridge, but soon enough, Jim heard a loud splash, and right after, the unmistakable, ear-numbing roar of a bomb going off, followed by a noise like a vast body of water rising like a geyser. Sure enough, a huge spray of water rose above the bridge and their heads, with many figures writhing and snapping within it.

    They looked like green and black fish, but some had a red stripe on their heads, while the other had blue. Both, however, had mouths full of razor-sharp teeth, and were right over their heads, the water now arcing over the bridge and carrying them with it. Astounded though he was, Jim drew his Pokedex. The image of both Pokemon appeared.

    “Basculin, the Hostile Pokemon. While both red and blue Basculin exist, they do not get along very well. As a result, they will often attack each other with brutal violence.”

    With many wet ‘plop’s, accompanied by the snapping of teeth, the Basculin fell all around them, righting themselves if they fell on their sides, and eyeing them with savage glares. The red ones had spiked fins, while the blue had smooth fins and narrower eyes. Jim could now see that they’d been drawn into a trap, and a potentially lethal one at that.

    As the drawbridge began closing up once again, Jim noticed something else, with a thrill of horrified disgust in his stomach: Garbodor had not returned. Since it was highly unlikely that it couldn’t survive in water, it seemed to have performed some sort of insane suicidal maneuver in jumping off and Exploding to summon these vicious Pokemon. The thought that its Trainer had just discarded its life like that was just sickening…

    “Those monsters…” whispered June, in a horrified voice.

    “Basculin,” said the grunt, in a lecturing tone, “as your Pokedex just dictated, are highly territorial and violent. Once agitated, they take anyone they lay eyes on as an enemy, and all eyes seem to be on you two.”

    “You…you hypocrites!” snarled Jim. “You speak of Pokemon liberation, but all you’re proving is that they’re instruments for your evil!”

    “Sound familiar?”

    Jim’s eyes shot wide open. He could not have heard right. It was too infuriatingly baffling to believe.

    “Familiar?…FAMILIAR?!” he roared. “Don’t you dare begin to suggest that what we as Trainers do amounts one iota to what you’ve just done! You’re attempting to commit murder via those very Pokemon you are trying to save! You sent one into SUICIDE to accomplish even this! Don’t you even begin to compare me to you!”

    These last exclamations had been made in a voice of the bitterest disgust and contempt, and the Team Plasma grunts, impassive as they had been, felt shaken by his words.

    “You people are just sick…” said Leanne, voicing her own mortification, her words, though short, still full of disgust.

    June’s red eyes were narrowed in hate, and Oshawott, impetuous swashbuckler that he was, had drawn his scalchop, already turned to Razor Shell mode, his teeth clenched.

    They were interrupted, however. Whether or not Team Plasma really did intend to sic the vicious Basculin on them after hearing this frank contempt towards them, the Hostile Pokemon chose this time to attack, leaping with bared fangs at the two Trainers and their Pokemon!

    June lashed out with her vines, smacking whatever ones she could away, while Oshawott struck left and right with his Razor Shell.

    “Back, you contemptible denizens of the sea!” he crowed. “Feel the wrath of my scalchop!”

    However, no matter how furiously they struck back, they simply could not subdue the savage Pokemon. They kept coming back for more, snapping furiously.

    In particular, a large, scarred brute of a red Basculin, lunged straight for June, while she had been distracted in fighting back a blue one. It was big enough, compared to her, to swallow her whole…

    “JUNE!!” Jim yelled, in horror.

    But June was too late to act. The Basculin was upon her…

    All of a sudden, before Jim’s eyes, everything seemed to be bathed in a blinding yellow luminescence. The Basculin that was nearly upon June stopped inches from her, its expression changing to pained astonishment, and in the next instant, it flopped onto its side. Astonished, all eyes turned to a spot just in front of Jim’s feet…

    Missy, her furry, pudgy face radiating fury, stood in that aforementioned spot, her body sparking with the electrical shock she had just dispersed. She had somehow released herself from her Poke Ball in time to stop the Basculin from making a meal of June. The Snivy just stared, open-mouthed, unable to speak.

    “Keep your teeth away from her, you danged dirty fish!” she spat.

    “Missy…” Jim said, stunned. “You…How?”

    He had no further time to ask, however, as the Basculin, who seemed to regard the fallen aggressor as a leader or champion, leaped at the Emolga in a rage. However, Missy, with a cry, unleashed a massive bubble of electricity from her body, expanding like an explosion, zapping every Basculin within range. June and Oshawott leaped away to avoid the attack, and Jim took out his Pokedex.

    “Discharge, an Electric attack that hits all opponents on the field.”

    “That’s what Elesa’s Stunfisk used…” Jim muttered, though the focus of his astonishment wasn’t truly on that.

    Only hours ago, Missy had shown herself lacking in the skill Jim had thought was inherent in her despite her physique, but now, with her friends under perilous threat, that skill had resurfaced, as if her prior battle had not happened at all. Was that just it, though? Did her true power lie hidden, untapped, brought to the surface only under great need or urgency? He would definitely need time to help her iron that out, assuming they would get out of this unscathed…

    The Basculin, zapped silly by the electrical onslaught, lay stretched out on the bridge, unconscious, though a good many were thrown over the bridge by the force of the attack, back into the water. The Team Plasma grunts remained rooted to the spot, amazed at the display, yet whether or not they were relieved or disappointed that the attack of the Basculin had failed could not be determined. Whatever the case, Missy hurried to June, grasping her by the paws.

    “Are you ok, June?” she asked, concerned. “That Basculin didn’t hurt you, did it?”

    “N-No, I’m fine,” said June.

    It was one of the few times, if any, that Jim had seen June speechless to this degree.

    “Missy…you saved my life…”

    “Of course I did, silly! You’re my friend. I know we may not be the best, but I’d still never let you get hurt like that.”

    “Missy…”

    June just stared at this perplexing Emolga, whose inconsistent actions continued to prove and disprove her own personal perceptions of her, that she was a lazy, pampered pet of a Pokemon who kept getting lucky, and yet throughout it all had seen her unquestioningly as a friend and family. Had June not, in fact, secretly wished that she would have lost when N played that tricky gambit in Pinwheel Forest, just to get her off her hands? She had thought it would have been doing Jim a favor, that Missy had no real place on the team. Had she been wrong this entire time?…

    Her thoughts were interrupted, however, by an awful scream, and Missy’s paws being yanked from her grasp. The Basculin leader was not quite through yet, and it was even angrier at being treated in such a way. It had managed to flop its way toward the two Pokemon, beyond anyone’s notice, and snatched Missy up in its jaws, tossing her around like a chew toy, causing her to cry out in pain.

    “MISSY!!!” Jim screamed. “Let go of her, you beast!!”

    He was about to rush in himself, with the intention of freeing Missy even if he had to pry her from the Basculin’s jaws with his bare hands, but was stopped by the sharp, air-rending sound of a whip cracking.

    June, her eyes mere slits from rage, had smacked the monstrous fish hard across its face with one of her vines, the shock sending Missy from its mouth and onto the ground. Her eyes were closed, she was breathing fast, and she was nicked all over with numerous small fang punctures, some of which were bleeding. Jim scooped her up, cradling her to his chest, though her blood stained his jacket. Leanne’s face was ghostly pale, and Oshawott, stalwart though he was, was aghast at such a sight.

    Wordlessly, June cupped her paws in front of her, a glowing, greenish-yellow ball forming between them, and as the Basculin lunged at her instead, she fired, the Energy Ball going straight into its mouth and exploding, sending the brutal fish flying with a roar of anger and defeat over the railing and into the water with a loud splash.

    Silence reigned over the bridge. No one stirred, no one spoke.

    Then, as if the sight of the unconscious Basculin stirred in Jim the idea of a duty yet to be done, he took out a Poke Ball and clicked it open, sending out Echo, who looked baffled at the sight of such a scene before him: Basculin strewn along the bridge, June standing silent and stern, and his master holding a bleeding Missy against his chest.

    “Echo,” said Jim, “use Confusion to pick up these Basculin and put them back in the water. It’s bad enough as it is.”

    Nodding assent, Echo focused his gaze on the unconscious fish, until they became surrounded by a pinkish aura. Then, slowly, they all levitated into the air, were held over the railings, and dropped back into the water below.

    “And there’s an end to that…” Jim said, when that was over and done with.

    June, finally breaking from her stony stance, rushed to Jim, climbing up onto his arm to look at the wounded Emolga. Anger had given way to grief on the Snivy’s pointed face.

    “Missy, why did it need to be like this? Why did it have to be now, under these circumstances, that I see I was wrong about you? You saved my life, you call me your friend…, and I’ve done nothing but mock and scorn you! Oh, Missy, if you don’t recover from this, I’ll never forgive myself…”

    She gripped Missy’s paw tightly in both of hers, and as she closed her eyes, a tear fell from between her lids.

    “June…” whispered Jim, touched by her words. “She’s going to be fine, I promise. We just need to get her to the Pokemon Center in Driftveil City. Those Team Plasma goons have no reason to keep us back now.”

    “What Team Plasma goons?” asked Echo, who had overheard.

    “The ones behind the blockade, Echo,” said Jim, a bit annoyed at what he thought was a display of ineptitude on his Swoobat’s part.

    “But there’s no one there,” said Echo, “and if there were, they’re gone now.”

    "What?!”

    Jim looked up. Sure enough, where the grunts had been standing, the spot was now empty, and the blockade barriers had been overturned in their haste to get away.

    “Those cowards!” said Leanne. “They got away!”

    “Never mind,” said Jim. “We’ll deal with them later. Missy’s our top priority at the moment. In the meantime, Echo, scour the skies and see if you can locate them. At the least, keep an eye on what happens with that boat in the harbor over there.”

    He pointed it out to the Swoobat, who took it into account, then nodded.

    “Got it, Jim.”

    With a flap of his wings, he swept off into the air, and the quartet of Travelers doubled their speed across the bridge, the bleeding Missy in tow.

    My White 2 Team

  6. #6
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 6
    A Cold Capture


    “Goodness! What’s all this?”

    “It’s an emergency, Nurse Joy!”

    As soon as Jim stepped through the automatic doors of the Pokemon Center, he marched right up to the main desk and placed Missy gingerly on top of it.

    “She was bitten by a Basculin,” he explained, “and a big one, at that.”

    “Oh, dear! We’ll certainly do our best to fix her up. Audino?”

    Nurse Joy’s Pokemon aide nodded and carefully picked up the little Emolga in her arms, carrying her into the back.

    “Don’t fret,” said Nurse Joy, seeing the anxious look on Jim’s face, “we’ve dealt with much worse, here and at other Pokemon Centers. Your Emolga should be right as rain soon enough.”

    “Thank you,” said Jim, somewhat relieved. “She’s very dear to us all.”

    He still couldn’t believe it; Missy, his least active fighter, his ‘wild card’, as it were, was the one in critical condition at the moment. He could only pray that she hadn’t lost too much blood between the skirmish and now…

    The doors opened again, and a man’s voice, deep and marked with a Southern accent, growled,

    “Dag-blasted Swoobat! What are ya leading me around fer?! Don’t you know Ah’m a busy man?!”

    “Mr. Clay! What a surprise!” said Nurse Joy.

    Jim turned, and saw a tall, sturdily-built man dressed in a brown leather vest and pants, a red shirt, and a white Stetson hat on his head. He looked quite irritated, and little wonder, for Echo was tugging him on the shoulder.

    “Echo! What are you doing?” asked Jim.

    “Is this your Swoobat?” asked the man named Clay. “The varmint went nuts and dragged me all the way here!”

    “I’m terribly sorry, sir,” said Jim, and he looked sternly at Echo. “Echo, what’s gotten into you?”

    “I had to, Jim!” said Echo, excitedly. “I was looking for Team Plasma, remember, and I heard him talking about Team Plasma! So, I put two and two together, and knew you and he had to talk to each other!”

    “…That’s actually quite brilliant,” said Jim, astounded.

    Clay looked flummoxed.

    “Hold on, yer telling me you know what he said?”

    “Yes. It seems we have a common interest, sir.”

    “And what’s that?”

    “Team Plasma.”

    Clay’s eyes widened, and the indignation vanished from his face.

    “No foolin’?” he asked. “And what do you have to do with them?”

    “My name is Jim Stevens, known to some as ‘Plasma’s Bane’, though I find it a pretty ridiculous nickname. This is Leanne, my friend, and our Pokemon June and Oshawott. You’ve already met Echo.”

    Clay stared at him for a moment, then burst into bombastic laughter.

    “No kiddin’! You’re the one who’s keeping those armor-plated polecats on the run? Who’d-a thought Ah’d be runnin’ into you?”

    “Hard as it is to believe, I am. Have you been following their exploits?”

    “Have I! Ever since that meetin’ in Accumula Town, Ah’ve been getting’ calls and letters from all across Driftveil, askin’ what Ah was gonna do if they decided to come to town. Ah figured they’d be up to no good, so Ah was hopin’ to catch them before they got too far. Ah thought Ah’d taken the right precautions, but those skunks got the drop on me. They snuck a boat past the Drawbridge, and Ah was gonna try and stop them maself, before your Swoobat dragged me here.”

    “He’d have been too late, anyway!” said Echo to Jim.

    “What do you mean?”

    “When I was taking my fly-by, I saw people already leaving the docks and running into town, heading south! There were a bunch of Team Plasma soldiers, and an old man in a long robe! Clay here was just heading for the docks only 5 minutes after, long after they’d cleared off!”

    “An old man in a robe?” repeated Jim, surprised. “Another Sage!”

    “What? What’s he sayin?” asked Clay.

    Jim translated for him, and Clay gave a whoop.

    “They’re nuts, that’s what they are! If yer Swoobat’s tellin the truth, they’re aimin’ to hide in the warehouses! We’ll have ‘em right where we want ‘em!”

    “So, you’ll help us?” asked Leanne, hopefully.

    “Darn tootin’!” said Clay. “Yer right, kid: seems we do have a common interest. Let’s show these Plasma punks what the three of us can do!”

    “Yes, sir!” said Jim, and the two shared a firm handshake.

    “By the by,” said Clay, “Ah don’t think Ah’ve properly introduced maself. The name’s Clay, minin’ tycoon and Driftveil City Gym Leader.”

    “You’re the Gym Leader?!” Jim asked, startled.

    Now it was his turn to express disbelief.

    “Yep, and if we can pull this off without a hitch, Ah’ll let ya battle me afterwards. Whaddya say?”

    “Yes, sir!” said Jim, with increased exuberance, before turning to Nurse Joy. “We’ll be back. Take care of Missy while we’re gone.”

    “Of course, sir,” said Nurse Joy, with a gentle smile.

    Soon after, Clay led Jim, Leanne, and their Pokemon out of the Center and into the streets of Driftveil City.

    ***


    “Gotta give ‘em credit: it’s the last place anyone would look.”

    The three humans and their Pokemon (Echo had been recalled) stood outside the enormous doors to a long, low building with a signpost nearby indicating “COLD STORAGE”. Even from outside, Jim could feel, or rather sense, the intense coldness within.

    “It’s a foolproof hiding spot, sure,” said Jim, “but can we be sure they’re even in here, or if they’re still there?”

    “It’s the only warehouse with a door for access,” explained Clay, “and only authorized personnel are supposed to be allowed in for deliveries and storage. They must be feelin’ pretty clever about themselves, but Ah know better.”

    “So, what’s your plan?”

    “Corner ’em and give ’em no chance to weasel out. That’s the only way you deal with these criminal types.”

    So saying , he took a Poke Ball from his pocket. He threw it up, shouting,

    “Krookodile, let’s get to work!”

    In a burst of light, an enormous Pokemon, at least as tall as Jim and Clay, appeared. It looked like a red-scaled crocodile with a grayish underbelly. Its snout was very long, and its large, intimidating eyes were like a bandit’s mask, its pupils leering out beneath a veil of black sclera. Its body was streaked with black stripes. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    “Krookodile, the Intimidation Pokemon, and the evolved form of Krokorok. Krookodile’s eyes have the ability to zoom in on a given target even from a mile away, as if using binoculars. It never allows a prey to escape.”

    “Intimidation is right,” said Leanne, who didn’t like the look of the sneering Krookodile.

    “Krookodile,” said Clay, “we’ve got us a pack of low-down varmints hidin’ in the Cold Storage. We’re gonna run ’em out!”

    Krookodile growled with sinister pleasure and marched to the doors of the warehouse. Gripping them with its large claws, it pushed them open, sending a blast of cold air out into the open. Leanne hugged herself, shivering, but Jim merely tightened the zip of his jacket. The crocodilian Pokemon made a gesture with its head for them to follow and stepped inside, followed by Clay. Jim clasped Leanne’s hand reassuringly, and the two followed Clay and his Pokemon inside.

    Stepping from the mild temperature outside into the sub-zero coldness inside was staggering. Even the floor was slick and shiny from the cold, as if it was made of ice. The walls were lined with shelves and packing crates, each marked according to their contents and from whence they came.

    Jim, wiping the fog from his glasses, took a good look around, but nothing seemed to indicate where Team Plasma could be hiding, as they weren’t out there in the open.

    “C-Clay,” he shivered, his voice echoing slightly, as well as producing a cloud of frozen breath, “I d-don’t mean any d-disrespect, b-but I don’t s-see where they c-could be hiding.”

    Clay said nothing at first, and even looked as if the biting cold did nothing to affect him.

    “You’d think so, Jim,” he said, “but Ah’ve already got a hunch.”

    As he said this, he drew from his belt a pickaxe with a lengthy shaft. In fact, it was long enough to double as a walking stick, which Clay demonstrated by planting the end against the ground, making an audible ‘clang’ against the slick floor. Cool as a cucumber, he began to leisurely stroll toward the back of the warehouse, using the pickaxe as if it really were a walking stick, making him appear like the most bizarre parody of a dignified gentleman. All he needed was a monocle to complete the image…

    It turned out the warehouse was larger than Jim had thought originally, because behind the shelves he thought lined the end wall, there were several large, green storage units, all identical in appearance, all tall enough for a man to stand inside of, and all large enough for a crowd of several to stand within.

    Clay stopped in front of these, surveying them quietly. Giving the teens a hand motion indicating for them to stay put, he slowly walked his way to the furthermost unit on the right, Krookodile right behind. Starting from that, he worked his way down to each, and at each, he tapped the metallic side with the shaft of his pickaxe, listening intently every time he did so. Jim had no idea what he was doing, but had the impression that he shouldn’t question his methods.

    At the very last unit, Clay rang against it with his pickaxe again, and this time, a smile crept across his rough face. Jim imagined he saw him mutter “gotcha” under his breath. The next moment, he motioned for Jim and Leanne to come over, which they did, then nodded to Krookodile.

    The Intimidation Pokemon flexed its huge claws and, placing them against the door to the storage unit, pried it open with one swift, violent action. Several voices cried out, and Jim, with a feeling of satisfaction, came to the Gym Leader’s side to see what was going on.

    Inside the unit, huddled together in a pack, were several Team Plasma grunts, men and women. Standing in the middle of them was an old man in a robe and cylindrical hat, just like Gorn, Rood, and Bronius. This one had long white hair and a small black beard.

    “Well, well, well,” said Clay, his pickaxe slung over his shoulder, and Krookodile crossing its arms with a grim smile, “what do we have here?”

    “H-Have mercy,” croaked the Sage. “Do not harm us. We are already suffering in this cold…”

    “Y’all brought it upon yourselves, holing yourselves up in here. If y’all come quietly, we won’t do anymore to ya, but if one of ya tries to escape, you’ll be at mah Krookodile’s mercy.”

    Krookodile cracked its knuckles threateningly. Slowly, shivering from either fright or the cold, the grunts filed out, still surrounding the old man. The Sage glanced up, caught the stern eye of Jim, and averted his eyes again. It seemed he too believed he had become a victim of fate, his fellow members forever dogged by a 16-year-old…

    ***


    It was a warm relief (literally) to once more step outside into the outdoors, and Jim could already feel the chill of the Cold Storage ebbing out of his skin. He, Leanne, and Clay flanked the procession of Team Plasma soldiers and the Sage, while Clay’s Krookodile guarded the rear.

    “What do you intend to do with them?” asked Leanne.

    “Turn ‘em over to the authorities, of course,” said Clay.

    “The authorities?!” shouted the Sage suddenly. “On what grounds? We’ve done nothing wrong!”

    Krookodile snarled, and the Sage shut his mouth.

    “On the contrary,” Jim said, “they tried to block entry into Driftveil City, and then some of their members tried to sic live Basculin on us to keep us away.”

    Jim roved his eyes over the group, hoping to see if any of them flinched or looked uncomfortable from hearing this testimony. He saw one or two avert their eyes.

    “That so?” asked Clay. “Unwarranted obstruction of free passage, and attempted murder…Mighty serious accusations.”

    “I quite agree, Clay…”

    Everyone stopped in their tracks. Jim felt an unpleasant tingling as he recognized a voice he longed never to have to hear again…

    Looking up, he saw, sure enough, the familiar form of Ghetsis, arms crossed, standing in their way. His fists clenched tightly, and he could hear June hiss quietly in hate.

    “Sage Ghetsis!” gasped the old Sage. “You do not know how I pleased I am to see you!”

    “Dry your tears, Zinzolin,” said Ghetsis, calmly raising his hand, “I shall see to it that justice is served.”

    “Ah’m guessin you’re the ringleader of these punks?” asked Clay, suspiciously.

    “Quite correct, Clay. I am Sage Ghetsis of Team Plasma, and I am here to reclaim my fellow Sage and my subordinates.”

    “Don’t listen to him, Clay!” said Jim. “He’s just trying to get them off the hook!”

    “You misjudge me, young Stevens,” said Ghetsis. “You see, I am not a man blindsided by my fellow members being my compatriots. If what you say is true, they are guilty, and I ask that it be up to me to deal out their punishments.”

    “G-Ghetsis!” spluttered Zinzolin. “Surely you do not believe his fantasies! You know who he is!”

    “I know perfectly well, Zinzolin,” said Ghetsis, coldly, “but your guards misunderstood my orders. I said to clear the way for us to enter Driftveil City. My orders said nothing about siccing vicious Pokemon on passersby!”

    “But, Sage Ghetsis!” blurted one of the grunts. “It was the Stevens boy! He had to be stopped!”

    “…May I take that as a free admission of your crime, soldier?” asked Ghetsis.

    The grunt turned pale.

    “It’s worse than that,” Leanne said to Clay. “Do you know how they did it? They sent a Garbodor into the river to EXPLODE those Basculin out of the water…It never resurfaced.”

    “What?!” Clay shouted, turning on the Team Plasma posse with a furious countenance. “Ya threw away a Pokemon’s life to get a shot at these youngins?! What kinda mental ward did you escape from?! Y’all make me sick!”

    Krookodile snarled ferociously. Ghetsis’ face was stony.

    “As you can see, Mr. Clay,” he said, coldly, “I was wrong to place my trust in these people before you. Therefore, I implore you to allow me to punish them for their actions.”

    Clay said nothing at first, but scratched beneath his hat as he tried to think. Finally, he said,

    “Ya speak politely enough, but Ah still don’t trust you. If you and your pack clear out and never return to Driftveil City, that’ll satisfy me. Step one foot back in it, however, and yer freedom ain’t worth Bouffalant dung…”

    Ghetsis gave a gracious bow, hand on his chest.

    “I could never have asked for wiser words from the Miner King himself,” he said, before turning to Zinzolin and his entourage. “Team Plasma, fall out. We depart.”

    Without another word, the cavalcade of soldiers, with their two Sages, marched off towards the Driftveil Harbor.

    “You shouldn’t have let them go,” said Jim. “It would have been safer to hand them over to the police.”

    “Maybe so,” said Clay, “but Ah think they realize they can’t pull the wool over mah eyes so easily. They won’t dare threaten us here again.”

    “I suppose,” said Jim, uncertainly.

    “But, in any case,” said Clay, changing the subject, “we got them to clear out, and that’s good enough for me. Now, whenever you feel up to it, come to the Driftveil Gym. Ah’ll be ready for ya!”

    This perked Jim's spirits back up immediately.

    “Great! I’ll definitely bring my A-game!”

    “See that ya do, sport,” said Clay, with a smile on his weather-beaten face. “Come on, Krookodile. We’d better check on that vein we’ve been unearthin’ down in the mines.”

    With a nod, Krookodile followed its master off into the city, leaving Jim and Leanne behind.

    “Well, that was interesting,” said Leanne.

    “Not to mention not entirely fruitful,” said Jim. “Team Plasma still got away.”

    “But, like Clay said, at least Driftveil’s one city they probably won’t mess with again,” said Oshawott.

    “Yeah, I guess so. Well, I guess all we can do now is head back to the Pokemon Center. I hope Missy’s healed up by now.”

    “So do I,” said June, quietly.

    With this in mind, the four travelers turned their steps back toward the Pokemon Center, little noticing the sleek boat moving back out to sea, and a solitary figure watching from the deck. Ghetsis, arms behind his back, was watching the two teenagers depart, with a sinister glare on his face.

    “Once more, the round goes to you, Stevens,” he said, quietly, “but mark my words, one of these days, your luck will run sour. No one survives long enough to stand in my way forever…”

    And the boat bearing the vengeful Sage and his men sped up, carrying them out and away from Driftveil City…

    My White 2 Team

  7. #7
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 7
    Clash with the Miner King (Part 1)


    As soon as the Pokemon Center doors opened, Jim was met with a very welcome sight: Missy sitting on the main desk, waiting for him with a smile. All of her injuries had vanished, and she was looking as chipper as ever. Even her bow looked newly fluffed.

    “Missy!!” Jim cried, rushing over.

    He scooped the paunchy Emolga up, swinging her around joyfully and hugging her close, where she deeply nuzzled against his cheek.

    “I’m so glad you’re ok, girl. I should never have let that happen to you.”

    He held her so as to look into her eyes as he added,

    “But I want you to know one thing, Missy.”

    “What’s that?”

    “I’m proud of you. I was worried that something had happened to stifle your battling prowess, when we did that Wonder Launcher battle. I was afraid I’d done something to stunt your power, but you proved me wrong tenfold back there. You showed power like I’d never seen before, and you saved us all. You’re a hero, Missy…”

    Missy’s eyes filled with tears at these words, and, leaning up, she tenderly licked Jim’s cheek and nestled tighter against him. Smiling warmly, he stroked her fur.

    “I think someone else has something to say to you,” he said.

    He set her down, where she found herself facing June. There was an odd look in her eyes, one the Emolga had never seen before. June approached her.

    “Missy…what you did back there…I don’t even know what to say. You…you saved me…all of us.”

    A slight pink tinge appeared in Missy’s yellow-marked cheeks.

    “But when that brute hurt you, I…something just snapped in me. I felt as if, all this time, I thought you weren’t my friend…but you truly were…and I was a fool for ignoring that…”

    She paused and put a paw to her brow.

    “First Jim, then Oshawott, now you…why do I always realize I was wrong about people and Pokemon when they put their lives at risk for me?”

    Missy tilted her head, puzzled.

    “Missy, what I’m trying to say is…I’m sorry. Very, truly sorry. You didn’t deserve any of those coarse words I bestowed upon you. I was convinced you were just a pampered pet and not a real member of the team…but you’re not. You are part of the team, part of our family, and I’m so sorry if I ever made you feel otherwise…”

    Real tears were brimming in her eyes as she said this, and she was fighting to hold them back. Moved, Missy came forward and enveloped the strong-willed Snivy in a close hug, which the latter gladly accepted and reciprocated. Whether or not Missy had truly understood June’s words about disliking her were inconsequential. As of this moment, they were both truly united in the bonds of friendship, all misgivings evaporated, all in the past.

    Leanne dabbed at her eyes, and Oshawott watched with a proud smile on his face, heartened to see his love putting aside her past and giving Missy a real chance. Jim, for his part, watched with the pleasantly proud eye of a parent who’s done right, orchestrating a reconciliation between his children.

    When at last they broke apart, Jim picked Missy back up, holding her under one arm while he used the other to activate his other Poke Balls. Echo, Torch, Torrent, and Croco all appeared.

    “All right, team, we’ve made it to Driftveil City,” Jim announced.

    “Finally!” said Croco, stretching his arms behind his head. “I thought we were never gonna leave Nimbasa.”

    “Itching to get the heck out of dodge?” asked Torrent.

    “Ah, shaddup,” muttered Croco.

    “What I called you al out for,” said Jim, raising his voice to carry over theirs, “is to tell you we’re clear to challenge the Gym Leader whenever we wish. We’ve got plenty of time today to prepare, but I think I already know who I’m gonna go with.”

    “How so?” asked Torch.

    “As June and Echo could tell you, we made ourselves acquainted with the Gym Leader, a certain Clay. He’s called the Miner King and has a Krookodile, so I believe it’s safe to assume he uses Ground types.”

    “Clay?” asked Croco, with a sudden excitement. “He’s the Driftveil Gym Leader?”

    “You know him?” asked Jim, surprised at his zeal.

    “Not personally, but he’s got a lotta respect among us Ground types. They say he brings out everyone’s talents down there in the mines. ‘No Pokemon is without a purpose’. They told me that was a motto of his.”

    “‘No Pokemon is without a purpose’…” Jim repeated to himself. “I like that.”

    “So, if you knew Clay was a king among you Ground types,” said Torrent, “why were you swiping valuables in the desert?”

    “Cuz I thought that was my purpose at the time, smart-aleck!” snapped Croco.

    “Hey, back off,” said Torch, “that’s my bro you’re talking to!”

    “Yeah? And so what? You gonna make something out of it?”

    “You don’t have to get so defensive.”

    “I didn’t ask for him to stick his nose in my business! I ain’t askin’ any of ya, so just drop it!”

    “Guys, guys!” said Jim, wading in and pushing them apart. “Now’s not the time for arguments!”

    The Desert Croc and the Ember and Geyser Pokemon still continued to glare at each other threateningly.

    “What I was trying to say,” said Jim, patiently, “is that, as he most likely uses Ground types, I’m gonna be banking on June, Torrent, and Croco for this fight. Get me?”

    Everyone nodded in the affirmative, though the three antagonists didn’t keep their eyes off each other.

    “Which means we need to get a good start today, and then we’ll challenge Clay tomorrow. So,” Jim added, clapping his hands, “let’s get down to business!”

    Croco, Torch, and Torrent continued to eye each other, not moving an inch.

    “Guys…” said Jim, in a warning voice.

    Croco made a dismissive gesture with his hand and stalked off. Jim sighed.

    “Talk about touchy,” said Torrent.

    “Just give him his space, Torrent,” said Jim. “He seemed pretty agitated when Clay was brought up.”

    He looked at the tough Krokorok, who stood by himself in a corner of the Pokemon Center, arms crossed, head down, as if deep in thought. Jim wished he knew just what on Earth was going through his head…

    ***


    As usual, there was a special pavilion outside the Pokemon Center for relaxation and training. Jim used this as a training ground for June, Torrent, and Croco. Since Jim had all of his Pokemon out, Leanne decided to bring hers out as well.

    Upon release, Tranquill settled onto a shady tree limb, followed, oddly enough, by Echo. This struck Jim as somewhat odd, as back in the days when they were a Pidove and Woobat, Echo had been on the receiving end of some pretty rough training thanks to her. Then again, he did have her to thank for learning Air Cutter, so it was probably a 'let bygones be bygones' situation. He grinned whenever he caught Tranquill’s eye, but Tranquill merely responded with a polite smile.

    Zorua, for his part, spent his time transforming into the other Pokemon and mimicking them, snickering to himself at the silly things he would do during his imitations. It was harmless enough, as his imitations were innocent and childish, though his acts weren’t very much appreciated by some of the others, such as June, especially when she was trying to concentrate.

    Missy was snuggled on Leanne’s lap, sitting against her stomach as she watched her friends train. Her eyes widened at the skill and precision of June’s lithe movements, Torrent’s circus-trained nimbleness, and Croco’s brute force.

    Oshawott sat on Leanne’s right, his eyes on June the whole time, admiring her movements and precise attacks.

    Lilligant sat on Leanne’s left to watch Torrent practice his moves, applauding each time his Brick Break attack broke through a Stone Edge barrier Croco brought up, marveling at the grace of his Acrobatics attack, and gazing in awe at the precision of his Scald attack.

    Remembering the other half of the duo, however, Jim turned to see what Torch was up to. Thankfully, he wasn’t sitting by himself in a gloomy manner, but his behavior was still unusual. He was standing in the sun, eyes closed, arms spread out with palms facing upward. He looked like he was trying to imitate a plant photosynthesizing, or was in a meditative stance. Jim had never seen anything like this before, so, breaking off from overseeing the others, he joined the Simisear.

    “What’s up, Torch?” he asked.

    “I’m immersing myself in the natural ambience of the sun,” said Torch, simply.

    “…That’s what I thought,” said Jim, nonplussed.

    “I’m trying to learn Solarbeam,” said Torch.

    “Solarbeam? Really??” asked Jim, surprised.

    “I want to expand my arsenal,” said Torch, “but I also wanna show Lilligant that I’m not just the kind of Pokemon that burns everything I touch. Of course I don’t, but I have the feeling she’s afraid I might…”

    Saying this, he stopped his meditative stance, adopting a more melancholy expression.

    “Oh…is that what this is all about?”

    “We’ve always been a family, and it’s not like she doesn’t like me. Heck, she’s always been sweet to me, like a sister, but sometimes, it feels like Torrent is getting her attention more and more. Don’t get me wrong, I could never hate him. He’s my brother. It’s just…it’s like I’m always shunted to the side while they have a good time. Fire and Grass don’t mix, that’s what it is. That’s just how it has to be…”

    “Torch…”

    “But don’t worry about me. I’ll be all right. You ought to get back to training the others.”

    “You sure?”

    “Yeah. I kinda need solitude for this anyway.”

    “All right, buddy.”

    Jim gave him a consolatory tousle on the head, then went back to his Pokemon in-training. All the time, he kept glancing at Torch, standing alone, ‘immersing himself in the natural ambience of the sun’, as it were.

    ***


    The next day dawned clear and cloudless, a rarity for Driftveil City. Jim and his friends left the Pokemon Center after breakfast and, after having been given directions to the Driftveil Gym by Nurse Joy, directed their steps in that direction. Croco had insisted on staying out, so as to see his apparent hero before the battle. It wasn’t quite “fan boy” behavior, but it was an excitement Jim had never seen in him before, and was even a little funny to watch.

    At last, they arrived outside of a massive metallic building, gold and blue, with enormous iron double doors. They swung open as they approached, and Jim and Leanne were startled to find themselves inside a dirt tunnel, the walls spotted here and there with fragments of gemstones, lit by swinging lanterns overhead.

    “Even his Gym Leader duties reflect his work,” said Jim, looking around.

    “Of course,” said Croco. “Ya gotta live in your element if ya wanna stay tuned with it.”

    “Very insightful,” said Jim, admiringly. “Where’d you hear that?”

    “It’s something I learned, being a desert rat and all,” said Croco, somewhat more subdued.

    As they proceeded, they became aware of a dull scraping noise, as of someone digging in dirt with a shovel. Proceeding around a bend, they saw Clay’s Krookodile, arms crossed, looking sternly down his snout at a little Drilbur digging away at the walls with his claws. The Drilbur looked exhausted.

    “Ah…Ah just can’t keep going, Krookodile,” gasped the Drilbur, in a youthful, Southern voice, “Mah paws are killin me…”

    “Your pa could dig twice as much twice as fast, without breaking a sweat,” growled Krookodile. “Don’t you wanna help him, now that he’s wearing down?”

    “Ah do wanna help Pa,” said Drilbur, “but Ah just can’t keep it up. Ah’m just not made for diggin.”

    “What would your pa say if he heard you talking that?!” snapped Krookodile.

    Drilbur cringed, and Krookodile adopted a softer tone.

    “I’m only trying to help ya, kid. You know that, don’t you?”

    “Ah know…”

    Jim cleared his throat. The two looked up, surprised.

    “Well, well!” said Krookodile. “You finally showed up, did ya?”

    “W-Welcome to the Driftveil Gym,” said the Drilbur, nervously, as if this was something he had been taught to do by routine.

    “Thank you,” said Jim. “Is Clay ready to see us?”

    “Ready as ever,” said Krookodile. “Follow us.”

    “Us?” asked Drilbur.

    “You wanna see your dad fight, don’t you? Take five, squirt.”

    “Y-Yeah, sure Ah do!”

    Jim wondered just who this Drilbur’s ‘pa’ was. Was Krookodile talking about Clay? He didn’t have time to ask, as Krookodile led the way down the tunnel, Jim, Leanne, Croco, and Drilbur following. The latter fell in line with Croco.

    “What was that all about, kid?” asked the Krokorok.

    “Mah pa’s startin to show his age,” said Drilbur, “so Ah’m tryin to pick up his slack, but it’s a lot of hard work. Ah just don’t know if Ah’m cut out for it…”

    “Why don’t ya try something else?”

    “Like what?”

    “Do you like battling?”

    “Battlin? Sure! Pa and I used to spar every now and again. He says Ah’m really startin’ to improve, but nowadays, Mr. Clay says he needs to save his strength for Gym battles. Even then, though, he’s starting to use him less and less.”

    “So why don’t you battle for Clay? You’re young.”

    “Cuz Mr. Clay doesn’t think Ah’m ready. He says until it’s time, mah place is here in the mines. He lets mah older brother fight when Pa isn’t feeling up to it. Ah can’t spar with him, cuz he beats me every time, and he ain’t too nice about it.”

    “I’ve been down that road myself…” muttered Croco, more to himself.

    “Wanting more, but having to stick with my lot in life. Just let time take its course, kid. It doesn’t seem fair now, but it’ll happen soon enough…”

    Jim couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Croco actually sounded…humble, compassionate, quite unlike his rougher self. Was there something about this Drilbur that was shedding off his outer brashness?…

    At the end of the tunnel, to the humans’ astonishment, was a shaft housing an open elevator. They all stepped inside, the wire doors closed, and with a clatter, it began descending further into the ground.

    Jim had no idea why, but there was something about standing in an elevator with other people that was…awkward, a situation that, for one reason or another, invited no inspiration to converse. How preposterous it must have looked to see a boy, girl, a snake, an otter, two crocodiles, and a mole standing in an elevator, staring forward, but with no cheesy music to accompany the moment.

    The elevator clanged to a stop at the bottom, the doors opened, and they found themselves in a shorter tunnel, with a set of iron doors at the end. Krookodile, leading the way, swung them open, revealing an enormous dirt-walled chamber, set up like a battlefield. Clay was standing at one end, leaning on his pickaxe.

    “Well!” he boomed out as they entered. “Ah was wonderin when you’d show up. Y’all ready?”

    “Ready as I’ll ever be,” said Jim.

    Croco didn’t keep his eyes off Clay for an instant.

    “Listen, Jim,” he said, “why don’t I wait on the sidelines until ya need me? I kinda wanna watch how this goes.”

    “Oh?” asked Jim, wryly. “Are you having second thoughts about whose side you’re on?”

    “What?! No!” said Croco, taken aback. “I’m with ya all the way, Jimmy boy! I just wanna watch Clay at work. You know, see how he operates.”

    “All right, then, suit yourself,” said Jim, amused.

    As Krookodile marched over to Clay, Croco took his place on the side with Leanne and Oshawott, Drilbur standing next to him.

    “Keep your eyes glued to the fightin’, son. You might learn somethin’.”

    Drilbur gasped and whipped around at the sound of the voice, and Jim took a chance to look as well. Standing beside him was a Pokemon with a very…dangerous appearance. It was a brown-furred mole, twice Drilbur’s size, though still much shorter than a human, with a white muzzle tipped in a pink nose, and red markings all across its body. Its claws were enormous and serrated, like razor blades, and were a steely-silver. Crowning its head, like a canopy or shield, was a protrusion similar in appearance. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    “Excadrill, the Subterrene Pokemon, and the evolved form of Drilbur. Excadrill can dig maze-like tunnels up to 100 meters below the surface. Its steel claws are strong enough to slash through iron plating.”

    This Excadrill, however, seemed much past its prime compared to the Pokedex image. There were tired circles and wrinkles beneath its eyes, and its claws seemed dull and blunted.

    “Pa!” said Drilbur. “What are you doin’ here? Ah thought you were gonna fight!”

    “Ah ain’t been feelin’ myself today, so yer brother’s fillin’ in fer me.”

    “Oh…that’s too bad,” said Drilbur.

    “Don’t you worry none, sonny boy,” said Excadrill, clapping him on the back. “Yer old man ain’t goin’ down yet. Besides, yer brother’s got a lot more fight in him. He’ll still give ya quite a show.”

    “Won’t be the same, though,” Drilbur muttered.

    “Well, Jim!” said Clay, interrupting Jim’s listening in. “Let’s get down to it, then, shall we?”

    “Definitely!” said Jim.

    “As you might have figured out, Ah built this entire Gym from scratch. Well, me and mah Pokemon. We believe in good, honest hard work until the end.”

    Clay lifted his pickaxe and, after spinning it impressively, pointed it at Jim.

    “And that’s why, here and now, Ah’m gonna show you what all that hard work’s built up to! You may be Plasma’s Bane, but that was a stroke of luck, boy! Ah got where Ah am today through mah years in the mines! We’ll see who’s more worthy of keeping the title he got!”

    “Bring it!” said Jim, clenching his fist.

    A man dressed like a construction worker stood in the middle, raising both arms.

    “Today’s match between the challenger, Jim Stevens, and Driftveil Gym Leader Clay is about to begin! This will be a three-on-three match with no time limit! The last Pokemon standing will be the winner, and only the challenger can make substitutions! Let the battle begin!”

    “June, you’re up!” said Jim.

    With a confident nod, June leaped down from her perch on Jim’s shoulder and took her place.

    “So, that little Snivy of yours is up first, huh?” asked Clay. “Well, I hate to break it to ya, but she’s playin’ with the big boys now, and Ah mean big!”

    So saying, he drew a Poke Ball and tossed it up.

    “Seismitoad, let’s get to work!”

    The Pokemon that appeared in the characteristic flash of light looked like an enormous frog, but the most intimidating frog Jim had ever seen. It had red eyes, blue skin with a lighter blue underbelly, and large black-ringed bumps along its arms and atop its head. Jim once more resorted to his Pokedex.

    “Seismitoad, the Vibration Pokemon, and the evolved form of Palpitoad. By vibrating the bumps on its arms, Seismitoad can punch with enough force to shatter a boulder into pieces. It can also shoot a paralyzing liquid from these bumps to stun opponents.”

    “Still think you can handle it, June?” Jim asked, somewhat uncertainly.

    June answered by getting into a battle stance. Clay roared with laughter.

    “Ah’ll admit, sport, that Snivy of yours has got spunk, but it’s gonna take more than spunk to win in this world, so come at me!”

    Seismitoad raised its fists, like a boxer.

    “Gladly. June, Leaf Tornado!”

    June began spinning like a top, summoning a swirling mass of leaves that were then sent blasting toward Seismitoad.

    “Counter it with Hydro Pump!” commanded Clay.

    Seismitoad breathed in deeply, then spat a stream of pressurized water toward June, blasting the Leaf Tornado apart and slamming her backwards, where she skidded against the dirt, trying to keep her footing.

    “Ok, long distance moves won’t work,” said Jim, “so let’s try a little closer. Leaf Blade!”

    June leaped from her position high into the air, somersaulting as the leaf on her tail began to glow bright green.

    “Intercept it, Seismitoad! Drain Punch!”

    Seismitoad drew its fist back, which began to glow a vivid bluish-green, then threw it forward. Its fist and June’s tail struck in mid-air, the recoil sending June backwards.

    “Now, use Mud Shot!” said Clay.

    Seismitoad breathed in again, then, with a loud croak, spat a volley of brown mud balls straight for June. June shielded herself as the projectiles slammed against her.

    “June!” Jim yelled.

    The Snivy landed back down, dripping with mud and looking furious. It seemed she had still not gotten over her fight with The Guy’s Palpitoad…

    “Ah told ya, son,” said Clay, “she’s playin’ with the big boys now! Seismitoad, Hydro Pump!”

    Seismitoad prepared to fire its aquatic attack.

    “June, dodge with Aerial Ace, then use Energy Ball!” Jim commanded.

    Clay’s eyes shot wide open.

    “Aerial Ace?!”

    Seismitoad fired, and June, surrounded by whitish energy, soared off of the ground and swung sharply to the side, dodging the Hydro Pump to her right. As she swung to face Seismitoad, she cupped her paws to her side, forming a glowing green ball of energy, which she then fired, striking the Vibration Pokemon right on its side. With a croak of pain, it wobbled, caught off balance.

    “That’s the way, June!” said Jim. “Now, go in for Leaf Blade!”

    June struck once more, her tail glowing green, and this time, her attack connected, striking Seismitoad across the side once again. Jim had found Seismitoad’s weakness: while it was surely strong, it was also large and cumbersome, and couldn’t match June’s speed. Not only that, but Seismitoad was a Water and Ground type, meaning June’s Grass attacks were doing much more damage against it than against a Pokemon with single typing.

    “Seismitoad, yer lettin’ her make a fool of ya!” snapped Clay. “Drain Punch!”

    Seismitoad pulled its fist back, which began to glow once more.

    “Dodge, June, then bring it on home with one more Energy Ball!”

    Seismitoad lunged, but June slipped nimbly to the side, just long enough to charge up and send off one more Energy Ball attack, striking Seismitoad squarely in the chest. With a pained croak, the bulky Pokemon toppled onto its back, unable to take any more.

    “Seismitoad is unable to battle!” said the referee. “Snivy wins!”

    Leanne and Oshawott applauded, while Croco merely grinned knowingly at June’s impressive display.

    “Well, Ah’ll be darned,” said Clay, recalling Seismitoad, “Ah can’t say Ah expected yer Snivy to know Aerial Ace. You’ve been trainin’ her pretty well.”

    “She’s been my little ace since day 1,” said Jim.

    June turned to look at him, a little smile on her face at these words.

    “Well, let’s see how she holds up in Round 2!” said Clay. “Krookodile, yer up!”

    The burly reptile stepped forward, leering at June down his elongated snout.

    “Still wanna keep going, June?” Jim asked.

    “Of course,” she said. “If I can’t take him down, I’ll at least chip away at him.”

    “Well said.”

    “Begin!” shouted the referee.

    “All right, June, use Leaf Tornado!”

    June once more summoned a vortex of leaves, tossing it at Krookodile.

    “Dig!” commanded Clay.

    Krookodile leaped into the air and dove beneath the dirt, disappearing beneath it and leaving a sizeable hole behind. The leaves sailed right over where it had been. In the next instant, the ground began to rumble, and out burst Krookodile from beneath June, tossing her up into the air.

    “Now, use Crunch!” said Clay.

    Before June could recover, Krookodile snatched her in his jaws and tossed her straight down, where she slammed down hard.

    “June!” Jim yelled.

    June tried to stagger to her feet, but Krookodile had taken her to her limit. She collapsed once again.

    “Snivy is unable to battle!” said the referee. “Krookodile wins!”

    “That was too swift for my tastes…” muttered Jim.

    He went over and picked June up off the battlefield.

    “You all right, girl?”

    “…I still wish I could have gotten a hit on him…”

    “It’s all right. We’ll still manage,” said Jim. “Take a good rest.”

    He set her gently on the side, where Oshawott immediately rushed over, clasping her by the paws.

    “Never mind, darling,” he said, “you did splendidly against that sizeable amphibian.”

    June merely smiled in reply, and Jim took a Poke Ball from his belt.

    “You shouldn’t ought to have done that, Clay,” he said, in a playfully threatening way. “You’ve just called down the thunder, and now you’re gonna get the boom.”

    “Really, now? Let’s see this ‘boom’,” said Clay, amused.

    “Torrent, you’re up next!”

    The Poke Ball burst open, and out came the mellow Simipour, ready for action.

    “Going for straight-up type advantage, are ya?” asked Clay. “Fair enough. Let’s rumble!”

    “Show no mercy, Torrent,” encouraged Jim. “Give him what he’s got coming to him for taking June out so readily.”

    Torrent nodded and crouched into a battle position, Krookodile doing the same.

    “Begin!” said the referee.

    “Use Scald!”

    Torrent breathed in, then spat a stream of boiling water straight for Krookodile.

    “Dodge with Dig!”

    Krookodile leaped into the air and burrowed into the ground yet again, avoiding the attack. After a few moments’ tense silence, the ground began to shake.

    “Acrobatics!” Jim commanded.

    Torrent leaped aside nimbly, just as Krookodile burst from the dirt. After which, landing back on his feet, he lunged at the Intimidation Pokemon and slammed against him, though it didn’t seem to do much. In response, Krookodile smacked him with his massive tail, slamming him down against the ground. With some shakiness, Torrent regained his footing, Krookodile having returned to his side of the field.

    “Hang in there, Torrent,” said Jim. “We’re just getting started.”

    “Yes we are, boy,” said Clay, “and Ah haven’t even begun to show you all of our tricks. Krookodile, use Bulldoze!”

    Krookodile raised his tail, and then slammed it against the ground with unbelievable force. The ground began to shake violently, as if an earthquake were passing through, and the ground became littered with rigid, mound-like protrusions, as if the land had just been passed over by a…well, a bulldozer. The violence of the tremor threw Torrent up into the air, and he came down hard upon his face with a smack.

    “You ok, Torrent?” asked Jim.

    Torrent got back to his feet, though somewhat shakily.

    “Atta boy.”

    “Ah gotta say,” said Clay, “yer Pokemon are made of some tough stuff, but it ain’t over yet! Krookodile, Crunch!”

    Krookodile lunged for Torrent, jaws open wide, teeth gleaming.

    “Give him a Brick Break, Torrent!” said Jim.

    Torrent sidestepped from the snapping jaws, then, his paw glowing white, thrust it upwards, smacking him from under the jaw and throwing him for a loop. Krookodile landed on his feet, unsteadily.

    “Brick Break,” muttered Clay. “You think of everything, don’t you, boy?”

    “He taught himself it, to be honest,” said Jim.

    Torrent flashed a thumbs-up.

    “Well, keep it up! Ah love a little variety in mah battles! Krookodile, use Bulldoze once again!”

    Krookodile raised his tail.

    “Jump up with Acrobatics,” said Jim, “then fire a Scald from above!”

    Torrent leaped, just as Krookodile slammed his tail down. The ground shook, but Torrent was out of its range this time. From his vantage point, he fired another stream of hot water down at Krookodile, who took it full in the face, roaring with pain and anger.

    “Krookodile, no!” shouted Clay.

    “Oh, yes!” said Jim. “Ok, Torrent, let’s wrap this up! Brick Break!”

    Torrent went into a sharp dive, his arm pulled back, his paw shining with white fire.

    “Don’t go down without a fight, Krookodile! Intercept with Crunch!”

    Krookodile, recovering from being hit by the Scald attack, leaped straight upwards at Torrent, jaws open wide to intercept. It was too late for Torrent to get out of the way, so he continued onwards, fist blazing, until they finally connected in mid-air…

    My White 2 Team

  8. #8
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 8
    Clash With the Miner King (Part 2)


    There was a tremendous crash as the two Pokemon collided, and then both were falling straight to the ground, landing with a ground-shaking ‘boom!’, creating a cloud of dust around the battlefield.

    “Torrent!” Jim yelled.

    Clay stood where he was, arms crossed, eyes fixed on the spot. The dust cleared away slowly…and a groan escaped Jim. Torrent was prostrated on the dirt, while Krookodile stood over him, panting heavily, a livid bruise on his snout. The referee raised his flag.

    “Simipour is unable to battle! Krookodile wins!”

    “Boy howdy,” said Clay, after giving a low whistle. “That were a close call right there. Ya almost got me, Jim, but looks like luck’s on the Miner King’s side today.”

    Jim sighed and recalled Torrent into his Poke Ball.

    “You did well, Torrent. Get a good rest,” he said, then turned to Croco. “Well, Croco, looks like it’s all up to you.”

    “Leave it to me, Jimmy,” said Croco, toughly, before sayingto Drilbur, “Keep your eyes peeled, kiddo. You don’t wanna miss this.”

    “Y-yes, sir,” said Drilbur, wide-eyed with admiration.

    Croco crossed over to the battlefield, his lip curled into a snarl as he faced Krookodile, who looked pretty wearied.

    “Begin!” said the referee.

    “Stone Edge!” Jim commanded.

    Croco raised his arm, and a swirling mass of pointed stone surrounded him. With a sharp flourish of said arm, he sent the stones flying for Krookodile.

    “Dig!” said Clay.

    Krookodile leaped and burrowed back underground, the stones flying over. This time, however, a sneaky grin came over Croco’s face, and without being prompted, he burrowed his way underground as well. Jim, surprised though he was, couldn’t help but imagine what could go on down there, when those two encountered each other…

    Sure enough, the ground trembled as some violent confrontation seemed to be going on underneath. In a shower of dirt and earth, Krookodile came bursting out, socked below the jaw by Croco, who burst out after him. Krookodile flopped onto his back, exhausted, unable to get back up. The match with Torrent had taken its toll.

    “Krookodile is unable to battle! Krokorok wins!”

    “Croco, that was brilliant!” said Jim.

    “Ya should’ve seen the look on his face when I popped up,” Croco said, grinning. “It practically screamed ‘Please don’t hurt me!’”

    He burst into a hearty laugh. Clay, brow furrowed, recalled Krookodile.

    “All right, Jim, we’re both down to our last reserves,” he said, “but this is where it all comes down to. Granted, I’d-a preferred if I were battlin’ with mah star Pokemon, but Ah gotta respect his age.”

    He nodded to the elderly Excadrill, who nodded in acknowledgement.

    “With that said, allow me to introduce you to his substitute: his own kin.”

    He drew his last Poke Ball from his pocket and tossed it up,

    “Let’s get to work, Junior!”

    In the burst of light that came from the ball, another Excadrill appeared, but this one was younger, and his claws were sharp as swords. There was a haughty, self-confident smirk on his face. He took one look at Croco and gave a derisive ‘Ha!’

    “This is who Ah gotta deal with?” he asked. “Gotta say, Ah expected more for my Gym debut. Keep yer eyes peeled, Pa, and you too, squirt. Ah’m gonna rip this Krokorok a new one!”

    Drilbur trembled, but Pa Excadrill merely shook his head and muttered something about ‘kids today’.

    Croco actually looked amused at this spiel, and burst out laughing. Junior did not take this well.

    “Ya find somethin’ funny, big-nose?” he asked, sharply.

    “‘Big-nose’!” snorted Croco. “That’s real rich, coming from you, shovel-head.”

    “What?!”

    “I know your type,” said Croco, rotating his arm from the shoulder, as if to loosen it. “You think you’re the ‘next generation of fighters’ or some stuff like that. I’ve seen that look in the eyes before. Guys like you really need to be taken down a peg. Just never expected it’d be me that’d have to do it.”

    “Oh, you are so asking for it!” growled Junior.

    “Bring it…” said Croco, dangerously.

    Jim knew Croco was treading on ice thinner than a spider’s web, but he figured he might as well play along.

    “Begin!” shouted the referee.

    “All right, Junior, open up with Slash!” commanded Clay.

    “Croco, let’s test his strength! Stone Edge!”

    Croco summoned another cloud of jagged stones and hurled them at Junior, who lunged forward, claws glowing white. The stones battered against him, but he furiously struck at whichever ones were in his direct path, reducing them to gravel with one swipe. At last, he reached Croco and struck at him.

    “Now, use Dig!” said Jim.

    Croco dove into the ground like a dolphin into water, making Junior embed his claws in the dirt right behind the hole the Desert Croc left behind. As he struggled to free himself, Croco burst back up, punching him with enough force to knock him loose. From the way he punched upwards, Jim couldn’t help but hear the word “Shoryuken!” in his head, but was unsure why.

    Junior landed heavily back on his feet, looking pretty steamed.

    “Simmer down, Junior,” warned Pa. “He’s tryin’ to get ya off your concentration. Focus!”

    Junior, after giving a swift glance at his father, sighed, relaxed, then chuckled.

    “Ah see what you were tryin’ to do,” he told Croco. “Ya almost got me seein’ red, but it makes no difference. Ah’ll still pummel ya into next winter!”

    “By the time you finish your trash-talking,” said Croco, complacently, with arms folded, “it’ll already be next winter.”

    Junior’s brow furrowed.

    “Easy, Croco,” warned Jim. “Dig’s all you can use against him that’ll do anything. He can resist Dark attacks, and Rock doesn’t do much.”

    “Don’t you fret none, Jimmy boy,” said Croco, slyly. “I’ll cook something up…”

    His choice of tone baffled Jim, making him wonder what he was up to.

    “Metal Claw!” commanded Clay.

    Junior lunged, his claws now gleaming with an even more metallic sheen.

    “Block it off with Bite!” said Jim.

    Croco, with the swiftness of a snake, latched his fangs onto Junior’s claws, stopping him short. Then followed a ‘back and forth’ struggle, each pushing forward, trying to make the other yield, but neither giving the other an inch.

    Clay, however, had a calculating smile on his face.

    “Junior, Horn Drill!”

    Croco’s eyes shot wide open, and so did Jim’s. Junior, with a nasty grin on his face, shifted his arm to move Croco’s head upwards. At the same time, the shovel-like protrusion over his head began to glow white and even spin like a drill.

    A cold sweat came over Jim’s forehead. He’d heard of moves like Horn Drill, moves that were so deadly, they could take a Pokemon down in one hit, regardless of defense, regardless of stamina. They didn’t always make their mark, but the prospect, the anticipation, the fear that it might connect always made one’s heart jump…

    However, Croco seemed to have already hit on an idea of preservation, as he raised his foot and slammed it hard against the earth, releasing his fang-hold at the same time. A violent tremor ran through the ground, and Junior was thrown off balance, tossed backwards, the Horn Drill dissipating, but not before he struck a swift blow across Croco’s face, throwing him back. Jim was stunned.

    “Croco…you learned Earthquake??”

    “I told ya, Jim,” said Croco, rubbing his face where he got hit, with his old smile back again, “I said I’d cook something up.”

    Junior had gotten back onto his feet, teeth gritted with rage. Clay, on the other hand, seemed mildly impressed at Croco’s quick thinking. He’d raised an eyebrow, at any rate.

    “All right, Junior,” he said, “use Drill Run!”

    Junior clapped his claws in front of him, making a perfect, conical drill shape when combined with the protrusion on his head, then, after rotating rapidly like an actual drill, shot straight for Croco like a missile.

    “Dodge with Dig!” Jim commanded.

    “Follow him down there!” yelled Clay.

    Not waiting to hear this command, Croco had already dove back underground, and Junior, inverting himself, tunneled down with him. A momentary hush fell over the arena, as Jim was certain nothing good was going to come when those two made contact…

    Sure enough, there was a tremendous clash from below, and this time, Croco was tossed up, the still-spinning Junior having struck him in the back. Croco landed heavily, grimacing and holding his back, as unfolded himself and landed back on his side, grinning.

    “Atta boy, Junior,” said Clay. “Now go in for another Metal Claw!”

    Junior dashed for Croco once again, claws gleaming.

    “Croco, use Earthquake!” commanded Jim. Croco raised his foot and stomped it down on the ground.

    “Aw, nuts,” muttered Junior, just before he was tossed into the air by the resulting tremor.

    “Now use Dig and meet him in mid-air!”

    Croco, once more, dove beneath the dirt. Junior seemed to hang in the air, and then, eyes glinting with fury, he flipped over so that he was facing the ground, and the protrusion over his head began to glow white and spin once more.

    “What is that boy doing?…” muttered Pa.

    “Junior!” yelled Drilbur. “Mr. Clay didn’t order for a Horn Drill!”

    “Forget what Clay says!” snapped Junior. “Ah’ve had enough! Ah’m taking this dad-blasted Krokorok down my way!”

    Jim, stunned at this defiance, looked to see what Clay would say. The Miner King’s brow was furrowed, and he muttered something that Jim could swear was “Dern fool…”

    With the swiftness of a hawk, Junior dived, his ‘horn’ spinning and glowing like white fire. At the same time, Croco burst from the ground, and just before the two collided, Jim saw the Krokorok’s eyes widen at the sight of the Horn Drill coming right at him…

    And then…

    Everything else seemed to happen in slow motion, as if time had literally slowed to a crawl. It was the sort of speed which seemed to allow one to hear nothing but one’s own heartbeat. Jim could just see Croco twist himself in such a way that the Horn Drill passed right through the crook of his arm, narrowly missing his body, saw Junior’s eyes widen as he realized he missed, saw Croco arc his body in a kind of somersault, raising his elbow up as he did so, saw the victorious grin on his face, and saw, as he was directly over the surprised Excadrill, him slam down right in the middle of his back with said elbow.

    That one blow seemed to restore the flow of time, as Junior came crashing down at normal speed, Croco following afterwards. Junior hit the ground with a dull thud, while Croco landed heavily, as if such acrobatics had taxed his energy. Everyone stared, utterly shocked, even Clay, though his was merely a widening of the eyes rather than the slack-jawed stupor shared by everyone else. The referee, after a pause, raised his flag.

    “Excadrill is unable to battle! Krokorok wins! The victor is the challenger, Jim Stevens!”

    At last, everyone’s dumbfounded behavior melted away into ecstatic jubilation. Leanne hopped up and down on the balls of her feet, pumping her fists in the air. June, still wearied from her time in the battle, applauded with Oshawott, who had at first seemed to want to swing her around in a kind of dance, but thought better of it. Even Drilbur and Pa applauded, though while Pa’s clapping was more out of congratulatory respect, Drilbur’s was much more energetic, showcasing much enthusiasm for the Pokemon he had just befriended.

    Croco made his way, unsteadily, back to Jim, who was beaming.

    “Croco, that was unbelievable!” he said. “I never would have imagined you’d pull something like that!”

    “To be honest,” said Croco, panting slightly, “neither did I.”

    Both looked up at the sound of heavy footsteps. Clay had approached, a smile on his rough face. Junior was getting chewed out by his father, who was berating him for ‘defying his Trainer’s orders’ and ‘being a blamed fool’.

    “Ah’ve gotta say, Jim, Ah was a might skeptical when ya’ll just showed up and said, ‘Hey, Ah’m Plasma’s Bane”, but now, with all that fancy tomfoolery ya just pulled off, Ah can see why you’ve got those stinkin’ Plasma punks on the run. Ah still say it was luck, but Ah guess we all need a bit of luck every now and then.”

    “Thanks, Clay.”

    “With that said,” he added, in a more important tone of voice, “as the Gym Leader of Driftveil City, Ah present you with the official Pokemon League Quake Badge.”

    He held out his large hand, and sitting in its palm was a badge that looked like an elongated ellipse broken into two uneven pieces, supposedly like a piece of land fractured by an earthquake. Jim took it between his fingers and held it up, the spotlights of the cavern gleaming on it.

    “This makes 5: the Quake Badge!”

    “Well, now, Jim,” Clay said, “if this is yer fifth, then Ah suggest you make yer next stop in Mistralton City, on the other side of Chargestone Cave.”

    “Mistralton City, got it,” said Jim, putting it down in memory. “We’ll head out tomorrow, ok, guys?”

    “Sounds good to me,” said Leanne.

    “Hey, Jimmy,” said Croco, tugging him on the jacket sleeve. “Ya got any Sitrus Berries?”

    “Huh? Don’t you want to head back to the Pokemon Center?”

    “I’ve got something I need to do here, and it’s better if I’m healed up here and now.”

    “All right, then,” said Jim. He took off his backpack, took out the cooler, and handed Croco a fresh Sitrus Berry, which he bit into hungrily. He offered one to June, but she declined, preferring an Oran Berry, which was duly given to her. He did the same to Torrent, after letting him back out, the Geyser Pokemon being very appreciative.

    “Ahh…” said Croco, once he’d finished. “That’s much better. Ok, kid, come on over here!”

    This statement was directed at Drilbur, who looked bewildered at being addressed.

    “Me, sir?”

    “‘Course you. C’mere, I wanna see what you’ve got.”

    Drilbur cast a look at Pa Excadrill, who gave a small nod by way of answer, and he made his way over to Croco.

    “Ya say you wanna be a battler?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Then come at me with whatever’s in your arsenal. I wanna see your skills firsthand.”

    “But-”

    “But nothin’. Come at me with everything you’ve got.”

    Drilbur paused, uncertain. Jim and Leanne just stared at Croco, wondering where the heck he was going with this. Clay had his arms crossed, and was silently regarding Krokorok with some interest.

    “Go ahead, son,” said Pa Excadrill. “Nothin’ to be ashamed of.”

    “Well…all right, if you say so.”

    Drilbur, eyes fixed determinedly on Croco. got into a crouch, then leaped at Croco, swiping at him with his claws rapidly, which had begun to glow white. Croco deftly dodged each strike, even taking the time to speak as he did so.

    “Fury Swipes, eh? Not bad for a beginner, though your execution’s a little sloppy. You’re swiping too wide, kid. Ya gotta aim close, never give the target a chance to get away! Go for all 5 strikes!”

    Jim didn’t know what to say. Croco was spontaneously taking on the role of a battling coach for Drilbur, right on the spot.

    “Ok, that’s enough. Show me another.”

    Drilbur broke off and, still hanging in mid-air, dove nose-first at the ground, burrowing into it. With a burst of dirt, he reemerged right behind Croco and tried to strike at him again, but Croco stepped aside, making him fall flat onto his face.

    “Good, good. Dig’s a must-have for a Ground-type, at least to start. Attacking from the back is fine, but also try to go from underneath. It’s expected, but for some reason, no one ever gets out of the way in time. Keep it up, kid, keep it up!”

    Drilbur broke off, cupped his broad paws on both sides of his snout to create a perfect cone shape, then, spinning rapidly, launched himself at Croco, who held him off with both hands, but Jim saw him flinch from having to do so.

    “Aha!” he said. “Drill Run! A natural for your species. You’ve got this one down nicely, but remember to aim yourself before you strike. You only get one shot after you close up in that drill shape. All right, kid, one more shot. Bring it!”

    He pushed Drilbur back, who unfolded from his Drill Run, landed back on his feet, and leaped at Croco again, claws glowing a metallic silver. This time, Croco didn’t dodge. He took the hit, which skidded him across the dirt, only catching himself from falling by use of his tail.

    “Metal Claw!” he said, putting a hand to where Drilbur had struck him on the snout. “Now that’s more like it! Just remember, you’re a pure Ground-type, so you won’t get much of a power kick as a Steel-type would. Great moves, kid! You’re gonna go far!”

    “Thank ya kindly, Mr. Croco!” said Drilbur, excited at receiving such praise.

    “And there’s only one guy I know who can take you far…right, Jimmy?”

    Jim was struck dumb with surprise.

    “W-What? What are you talking about?”

    “You know what I’m talking about, kid. I’d heard how you turned Jolt from a wild-child into a mature fighter. You’re just the kind of guy to give Drilbur here the proper training he deserves.”

    “Croco, while I’m flattered that you think so, it’s not for me to decide. He’s Clay’s Pokemon.”

    “What’s that?” asked Clay, his attention grabbed by this statement. “What’s he sayin’?”

    “He thinks I ought to be the one to train Drilbur, Clay. I heard Drilbur here say he’d rather be a fighter than a miner, and I suppose Croco’s been trying to help him with that.”

    “That a fact?” asked Clay.

    He gazed down at the Drilbur, who averted his eyes in embarrassment. The Miner King’s rough features softened.

    “…Shoot, Drilbur, Ah wish Ah had ears or eyes like Jim here. Ah should have known you weren’t happy.”

    Drilbur looked up, surprised to hear this. Clay fixed his gaze on Jim once again.

    “Are y’all willin’ to take Drilbur out and make him the Pokemon he wants to be?”

    “I…I should hope so, sir. I don’t claim to be a perfect Trainer, but I’ve always wanted what’s best for Pokemon.”

    “Good answer, pard,” said Clay, with a smile. “There aren’t enough Trainers in the world who give that kind of answer. If your Krokorok thinks you’re right to train Drilbur, who am Ah to object?”

    Drilbur was looking from one to the other, bewildered excitement on his face. He turned to his father and brother.

    “Pa! Junior! Did y’all hear that? Ah’m gonna be a fighter!”

    “Good for you, sonny,” said Pa, a smile on his tired face. “Ah’m proud of ya.”

    Junior, for his part, remained silent for a little, then said,

    “…Congrats, sport. Ah know you’re gonna do good out there.”

    Eyes glistening with tears of joy, Drilbur stepped up to Jim, looking up at him.

    “Ah’ll do mah best for ya, Mr. Jim, Ah promise!”

    “That’s good to hear,” said Jim, grinning. “All I want is your best.”

    “Yer gonna have to provide yer own Poke Ball,” said Clay. “He doesn’t have one of his own.”

    “Not a problem,” said Jim.

    He was taking a Poke Ball out of his pocket when Croco stopped him.

    “Hang on, Jim. If you catch him now, you’ll have to make room in your party.”

    “That’s a good point.” Jim said, looking at the Poke Ball in contemplation. “But who do I send to Professor Juniper?…”

    “No one.”

    “Huh?”

    “You don’t need to send anyone there. I plan to stay here with Clay.”

    If Croco’s first proposal to take Drilbur on as a new Pokemon was a shock, this statement was an entire storm. Jim’s jaw dropped, and June and Oshawott sat up in complete astonishment.

    “You…you what?!”

    “Hey, come on, bud, Clay just complemented your hearing. Don’t go making that look like a lie.”

    “Croco, what are you saying? Am I not the right kind of Trainer for you?”

    “Jim,” said Croco, in a tone kinder than any he’d used previously, as he put a hand on Jim’s arm, “you’re a fantastic Trainer. When ya first caught me out in the desert, I thought you were just another Poke Ball chucking goody-two-shoes, just like any other Trainer. But you…you’re a cut above the rest, Jimmy boy. You were actually the first human to give a darn about me, to actually wanna get on my good side…Naw, Jim, this has nothing to do with your training. The reason’s all with me.”

    Here he sighed in a regretful way.

    “I’m not proud of how I’ve lived my life, but I thought it was all I was good for. That’s when I see when I look at this kid.”

    He gestured to Drilbur.

    “An unhappy Pokemon who ought to have more, but won’t get it until something changes. I can’t help but feel like this would be helping both of us if we do this. He gets to be a fighter, and I’ll be paying my debt to society down here, kind of a “community service” thing, to make up for all the people I've robbed. It’s just a sort of gut feeling I’ve got, y’know?”

    “It’s gonna be different not having you around, Croco,” said Jim, sadly. “It feels like we only just became partners, and now you’re already leaving.”

    “I know, kid. Life’s gonna be full of goodbyes, but it’s equally full of hellos. Don’t go forgettin’ that.”

    “I won’t, Croco, but I’m really gonna miss you.”

    Croco’s long-snouted face split into a kind smile.

    “I’ll miss ya too, kid. It’s a shame I couldn’t stick around to see you make those Trainers in the League quake in their sneakers…You’re gonna blow ‘em away, I can feel it.”

    He held out his hand, held up in an arm-wrestle position. Jim, with tears in his eyes, took it in his, the two hands gripping each other tightly in a firm, brotherly handshake. It wasn’t quite like the handshake he shared with Cheren, but the feeling still felt the same…

    Leanne suddenly stepped forward, eyes misty, and grabbed Croco in an unexpected hug. While she couldn’t understand what Croco had said, she had guessed what was going on by Jim’s words.

    “Thank you, Croco,” she said. “You saved our lives there in the desert. I won’t forget that.”

    Croco, momentarily taken aback by the gesture, settled to giving her a somewhat awkward pat on the back. June then approached after Leanne backed off.

    “Croco,” she said, “I won’t lie. When we first encountered you, I considered you a vulgar, brash, ill-favored scoundrel.”

    “Flatterer,” remarked Croco.

    “But…you’ve proven to be a Pokemon with a good head on your shoulders, and you’ve been very civil ever since our escapades in the desert. While I can’t honestly say I’ll miss you, I can at least express my gratitude in your being part of the team. I hope that you’ll have found what you’re looking for down here.”

    “Thanks, June. That’s real nice of ya to say…And Jim?”

    Jim looked up.

    “Can you recall me before you hand my Poke Ball to Clay?”

    “Recall you? Why?”

    “Cuz…I dunno if I can stand any more of this goodbye stuff…”

    Jim was taken aback. Croco’s voice was choked, though he tried to hide it, and there was an unusual gleam or moistness in them…Was he on the verge of tears?

    Jim held up Croco’s Poke Ball, the red beam of light shooting from it and striking the Desert Croc Pokemon, who vanished into it. Jim held it in his hands, looking down at it for a few moments. A single tear splashed onto the smooth metallic surface.

    “Goodbye, Croco…” he whispered, before handing the ball to Clay.

    The Miner King had been watching all of this with his usual calm, but there was a tender understanding in his rough features, as if he knew what this separation was entailing.

    As if handing over the ball was a relief to his mind, Jim managed a smile and held up a fresh Poke Ball, facing Drilbur. The latter had been watching the whole scene with a very subdued, awe-filled air.

    “Ready, Drilbur?” he asked.

    “Yes, sir,” said Drilbur, in a humble tone.

    “Then welcome to the team!”

    Jim tossed the Poke Ball up, and Drilbur leaped to intercept it, tapping the button with his paw. The ball opened, and in a burst of red light, he disappeared inside it, landing in Jim’s palm. The ball jerked this way and that for a few seconds, then stopped with a tiny click. Jim held the ball tight in his hand as he held it up.

    “I just got…a Drilbur!” he announced.

    (For you, Croco…for you…)

    My White 2 Team

  9. #9
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 9
    Fire and Water


    After healing June and Torrent more completely at the Pokemon Center, Jim let all of his team out, both to introduce Drilbur and tell them what was going on. Those who hadn’t been present during the match looked at the new teammate with interest.

    “Everyone, this is Drilbur,” he announced, then said, “Come to think of it, you’re gonna need yourself a nickname.”

    “A nickname?” asked Drilbur.

    “Sure, everyone’s got one here. You’ve met June.”

    The Snivy nodded with a small smile.

    “And this is Echo, Torch, Torrent, and Missy.”

    Each Pokemon greeted him in turn.

    “So, any name you’d like?”

    Drilbur tapped his chin in thought, then said,

    “Well, Pa’s grand-pappy was named Spade.”

    “And that’s the name you’d want?”

    “Sure!”

    “All right, Spade it is. Welcome aboard!”

    Spade beamed, really feeling like he’d become one of the team through this initiatory process. Everyone gathered around him, welcoming him. Then, Missy voiced the question Jim knew would come eventually.

    “But where’s Croco?”

    “Ah, right,” said Jim, slowly. “Well, that’s the thing. See, Spade here was traded to me by Clay. The Pokemon in exchange…was Croco.”

    Echo, Torch, and Missy gasped.

    “He’s…gone?” asked Echo.

    “I’m afraid so. It was his own decision, though. He wanted Spade to be free, to see Unova with the rest of us. He also felt it was his way of paying back society for his life as a bandit.”

    Torch shuffled his feet awkwardly.

    “Well, gee, now I kind of feel like a jerk for arguing with him yesterday. I never even got to apologize.”

    “It’s ok, bro,” said Torrent, putting his hand on his brother’s shoulder. “It’s over and done with. I’ll bet he’s happier now that he’s living the Ground-type’s dream.”

    “Yeah…I guess you’re right.”

    “Besides,” said Jim, “he had his heart in the right place. He was thinking of Spade when he made the decision. All we can do is move ahead and hope he’s found what he’s looking for.”

    The team replied with nods of sad assent.

    “Come now, everyone, buck up,” said Oshawott, grabbing their attention. “Don’t think of this only as a saying goodbye to a friend. He said himself, before he left, ‘the world is full of goodbyes, but it’s equally full of hellos’. We must not think only of his departure, but that he must be happier now that he can make reparations for his past. Besides, as Jim said, it was not just for him, but for Spade as well.”

    “…Croco was one of the bravest Pokemon I’ve ever known,” said Jim.

    Everyone looked up at him, surprised by his somber tone.

    “It takes a great deal of courage to square up to your past, and it takes a greater deal to try to turn it around. Yes, he’ll be missed, but I’m glad to have had the honor of his partnership…”

    After that, Jim headed towards the door, but as he went, he said,

    “We set out for Mistralton City tomorrow. Whatever you guys want to get done here, get it done today. As for me, I’m gonna take a stop at the Driftveil Market and stock up. Leanne, can you watch them for me?”

    “Of course.”

    “Thanks.”

    The sliding doors opened, and Jim stepped out into the streets. Torch, who seemed to see another meaning in Jim’s statement, headed out toward the back pavilion, an action Torrent regarded with curious skepticism.

    ***


    Solitude. That’s all Jim wanted, some time alone with his thoughts. He hoped that a shopping excursion to Driftveil Market would help give him what he wanted: supplies and time to himself.

    The Driftveil Market was a rich repository of imported goods, with outdoor and indoor stalls selling Berries, medicines, herbs, and trinkets. One such stall kept a stock of rare, aromatic Incenses, said to aid in breeding certain Pokemon. Another kept herbal medicines that had wonderful healing properties, but were very bitter in taste, and may even inspire dislike in the Pokemon it was administered to. Why anyone would want this was a mystery to Jim…

    As he restocked on his supply of Berries, Jim let his mind wander. He knew that his journey would have had to involve both meetings and partings, but he never imagined that it would have taken place within his own Pokemon team. Of course, he couldn’t argue with the nobility of Croco’s decision and his desire to make amends for his larcenous past, but he hadn’t believed he would have had to part with him so soon. He had figured (perhaps even deluded himself in thinking) that the members of his Pokemon team would last forever. He’d heard of trades between Trainers for evolution purposes or for a beneficial exchange, but he’d never given thought to the amount of emotion tied behind it. All he’d heard about were Pokemon that could only evolve via trade, or how traded Pokemon were more likely to disobey if their new Trainers never met their expectations. It was glorified as a trend or fad, one that all the ‘cool kids’ were doing, but no mention was ever made of the partnership that was being split by this decision.

    When he’d first captured Croco, it had been to preserve their lives; he had been a very real threat to them out there. If Jim let him recover, he would inevitably try to come at them again, hungry for revenge. Instead, he’d given him an ultimatum: guide them through the desert, and he would let him go when he’d done his duty. Things had changed, however. Jim was more than willing to give Croco his freedom, but the Krokorok had chosen to stick around instead. He could have very well left them to be killed by the raging Darmanitan, but he instead saved them. In the short span that they’d known him, he had already grown something of an attachment with them. He’d become part of the team. He’d helped him defeat Elesa and Clay. Now, however…

    He absent-mindedly paid for his purchase, then headed back toward the Pokemon Center. As he approached, he had the impression that two people were arguing very heatedly outside. Then, with a thrill of apprehension, he recognized the speakers: Torch and Torrent!

    He rushed into the pavilion to find the two brothers brow-to-brow, both glaring at each other, while June, Echo, Missy, and Spade were watching with apprehension.

    “What business is it yours if I want to teach myself a new move?!” Torch snapped. “You taught yourself Brick Break!”

    “And you just taught yourself Flame Charge!” retorted Torrent.

    “Oh, so it’s a matter of fairness, is it? Fine, I’ll hold off until you learn Ice Beam or something, then we’ll talk.”

    “It’s not a question of fairness, bro! It’s a matter of you trying to learn Solarbeam!”

    “And what’s wrong with Solarbeam?”

    “You think I don’t see what’s going on here? I never thought you could be so transparent…”

    “And just what is that supposed to mean?…”

    “You’re trying to get in Lilligant’s good graces, aren’t you? Impress her with a move that’s ‘up her alley’?”

    “Her ‘good graces’?!” shouted Torch. “Is this really what this is all about? You think I’m trying to steal her away from you?”

    “Oh, steal her away from me? When did I ever imply that we were more than friends?!”

    “Don’t play the innocent act on me,” said Torch, bitterly. “Every time I see the two of you together, you’ve got her wrapped around your little finger. You both always have such laughs together.”

    “And what if we do? What are you saying, you’re jealous?”

    “Jealous? You bet your hide I am, but this isn’t just some dramatic love spiel! I just want her to feel safe around me!”

    Torrent’s mouth fell open, the Geyser Pokemon being stunned into silence. Tears were rimming Torch’s eyes.

    “You don’t know what it’s like. We’ve always been a troupe…we’ve always been family…But whenever I see the two of you together, it makes me feel how alone I am. You trump me as a Water type, and she’s a Grass type. The two of you go together perfectly, but me?... All I want is to show her I won’t always be a danger to her, to go back to how it used to be. I want to be the brother she used to feel safe around…”

    “Torch…this is about that incident, isn’t it?”

    “Torrent, please…”

    “Bro, that was just an accident. None of us knew that would happen!”

    “Drop it…”

    “We knew it was a dangerous maneuver! She knew! She was ready for what might happen!”

    “I said DROP IT!”

    *POW!*

    Everyone gasped. Jim clasped a hand over his mouth. Torch, in a fit of rage, had punched Torrent in the face, knocking him off his feet. Torrent slowly got back up, his attacker looking contrite at what he’d done.

    “Bro, I’m so sorry.”

    Torrent said nothing. His own fist answered for him, and it was now Torch’s turn to sprawl on the grass. Torch was not as slow in regaining himself, and with a growl of rage, he sprang at his brother, the two wrestling in the grass, punching and biting at each other.

    Jim felt his heart catch in his chest. Right before his eyes, his team was breaking apart. It was just like what had happened between him and Cheren, though it was no less horrible seeing it from an alternate perspective…

    “Stop it! Stop it, both of you!” shrieked June, lashing out with her vines, but they had absolutely no effect on the wrestling antagonists. “You’re acting like children!”

    Jim shook himself out of his stupor. Why was he standing off to the side when he was their Trainer? He rushed into the pavilion and tried to wrest the two apart.

    “Hey! Come on, knock it off! Both of you!”

    Then, all of a sudden, Torch turned to face him, and though the expression was momentary before it changed, Jim saw absolute rage, hurt, and jealousy stamped in his normally peaceable eyes.

    That expression was lost, however, when, without warning, let loose a Flamethrower in Jim’s direction. With a surprised yell, Jim ducked away, the flames narrowly missing his face, though he felt the oppressive heat flow past his cheek and shoulder.

    Torch panted heavily, like a wounded animal, when suddenly, a change came over his features. A look of scared realization began to make its appearance on his face, as he looked at his Trainer sprawled in the grass, the Trainer he had almost burned just now. It was the look of one who had seen a ghost, or a phantom out of their past, the look of a soldier experiencing post-war trauma.

    He looked wildly around, looked down at his own paws, and then, without a word, dashed out of the pavilion and out into the streets, disappearing in a northwestern direction.

    “Torch! Come back!” yelled Jim.

    But it was no good. He’d already vanished into the distance. Jim frantically turned to Echo.

    “Echo, go after him!”

    With a nod, Echo spread his wings and soared off after the escaping Simisear. Torrent had gotten back onto his feet, utter guilt and devastation stamped on his face.

    “Jim…” he muttered. “I’m so sorry, man…It’s all my fault…”

    “No, it’s mine. I should have stepped in earlier. What did I just see?…”

    Before Torrent could offer further explanation, they heard a sound that made them jump: a girl, sobbing as if her heart would break. Leanne and Oshawott stood in the doorway, eyes wide and mouths agape at what they had just witnessed, and, just barely visible now, Jim saw the delicate form of Lilligant running from the door back inside.

    She had seen everything…

    My White 2 Team

  10. #10
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 10
    Old Wounds


    As Leanne went back inside to comfort the delicate Pokemon, Oshawott joined the others outside as they gathered around Jim and Torrent.

    “Torrent, what’s going on? What did you mean by an ‘incident’?”

    “…It was months ago, Jim…Almost back to our start as performers. Back then, the three of us were inseparable…well, more so than today. Torch was a barrel of laughs, always cracking jokes, and Lilligant…ah, Lilligant, she was like a pearl shimmering in the sea…

    "Anyway, we were practicing a new routine. Back then, Monica, the ringmaster’s daughter was still alive, and very happy, like the three of us. The routine seemed simple enough: while Torch and I provided elemental ambiance with our fire and water, Lilligant would dance and sing a tribute to Meloetta.”

    "Meloetta?" asked Jim, confused.

    “A beautiful and talented Pokemon,” interposed June. “She was a singer, and a dancer, depending on her Form.”

    “Form?”

    “She knew a move called Relic Song, which would allow her to assume her beautifully-voiced Aria Form, or her light-footed Pirouette Form. Musicians and dancers alike adored her.”

    “Wow. Whatever happened to her?”

    “She disappeared long ago, after the sorrows of the world made her lose her own melody…”

    “That’s terrible…”

    “Yeah, it stinks,” said Torrent. “That’s why we wanted to dedicate a performance to her, to show the world she wasn’t forgotten, at least in the hearts of fellow performers.”

    “How noble of you. So, what went wrong?”

    “Hard to say. We never did find out what caused it, but what’s important is that, while the two of us were using Flamethrower and Water Gun to make an arc over Lilligant, Torch somehow lost his footing. His Flamethrower went wild, and he actually burned Lilligant…”

    “No!…”

    “Yeah. I was in shock, not just for Lilligant, but for Torch. He hadn’t always been shy, but he was as gentle as an Audino. Seeing that happen, by his own attack, must’ve killed him on the inside…Not too long after, Monica died. Lilligant was never quite the same again, and neither was Torch…”

    “She…she didn’t blame Torch, did she?”

    “No, not that I heard. She told him, after she recovered from her burns, that she hadn’t lost any of her friendship with him, but after that, and after Monica passed away, she kept more to me when we were together. I hadn’t suspected anything at first, but eventually, I couldn’t help but think she was actually scared of Torch. She seemed scared that something like that might happen again…”

    “Then why did you fly at Torch like that when he was trying to learn Solarbeam?”

    “I don’t know!” snapped Torrent, before he broke down into bitter tears. “I don’t know…”

    He stayed silent for a bit, and then said,

    “No…I do know why I did…because I did think he was trying to take her from me…”

    “What are you saying?”

    “I love her, man…I love her. Before the accident, I thought she was my friend, but after, she’s been more…I felt like I had to protect her, like I was the only one that could. I guess I got a little too protective…but I always loved her…”

    Then, in a fit of pained despair, he gripped Jim’s jacket.

    “I never meant to hurt him, dude! Never! He was my brother! I loved him like one! I wouldn’t have wanted anything between us! Jim, you know I’d never have wanted it this way! You know…”

    And he collapsed against Jim’s chest, sobbing like a child. Compassionately, Jim held the grieving Simipour in his arms.

    “It’s all right. It’ll all be ok, Torrent…I do know you never meant it.”

    “How am I ever gonna make it up to him?…” asked Torrent, his voice barely a whisper.

    “Well, first we have to find him.”

    “Mr. Jim,” said Spade, piping up. “Mr. Echo’s back.”

    Everyone looked up. Sure enough, Echo was coming in for a landing, a troubled look on his face. Jim stood up, holding out his arm, and Echo alighted on it.

    “Any luck?”

    “I followed him as well as I could, but I lost sight of him as he was leaving the city. I think he’s making his way for Chargestone Cave.”

    “Then, if we’re lucky, we’ll still be able to catch him,” said Jim.

    “Mr. Jim…”

    The voice that just spoke was very soft, sweet, and melodious. Jim whirled about. Lilligant was standing in the doorway, supported by Leanne.

    Jim felt stunned. He couldn’t remember if he had ever heard her speak before now. Still, he approached and knelt in front of her.

    “Do you need something?” he asked, gently.

    “I…I think maybe we just need to give Torch some space, let him make his own choice.”

    “What? But Lilligant, what if he never comes back? We can’t just abandon him like this.”

    “It’s not abandoning,” said Lilligant. “I know Torch. He never stays mad for long.”

    “But how can he face us again, when we know something happened between you three?”

    Tears rimmed Lilligant’s eyes.

    “I told him…I told him, time and again, that it wasn’t his fault, that I wasn’t mad at him for it…”

    “But were you scared of him?”

    “I was scared, but more for his sake than mine…”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I’m a Grass type, he’s a Fire type. I didn’t want to be a hazard for him. If anything happened to me, and he blamed himself…I love him too dearly for that…He’s a brother to me…”

    Both Jim and Torrent regarded her with silent awe. Though Leanne couldn’t understand her, she could tell she was speaking from the heart.

    “You’re a very kind soul, Lilligant,” Jim said, taking her leaven hands in his. “We’ll trust to your intuition, then. If we reencounter Torch as we go, all the better for us…”

    Lilligant had no visible mouth, but still gave the impression of a sad smile on her face. Torrent then approached, and Lilligant threw her arms around him, which he passionately reciprocated.

    “We’ll leave it for Torch to decide, then,” said Jim, turning to his comrades. “If he comes back, or he doesn’t, we can’t force that out of him. All we can do is pray that he chooses the right path.”

    Leanne, June, Oshawott, Missy, Echo, and Spade nodded in sad assent, and Jim went inside to lie down, his mind buzzing with two losses instead of one, now…

    ***


    The sky was dull and cloudy the next morning, a fitting personification of Jim’s thoughts, as he and Leanne set out for Mistralton City and, consequently, Chargestone Cave.

    Jim had hardly left his bed ever since Torch ran away, and there still had been no sign of him. Leanne had insisted that she send Tranquill to scout for him, but Jim declined, reminding her that they had to give him time to cool off and consider.

    The route leading to Chargestone Cave was a grassy, very verdant meadow, though the trees were orange and yellow with autumn still in the air. It seemed to be split down the middle by a winding river moving south, over which several bridges were constructed. Off in the distance, they could see two mountainous formations, one straight to the north, and the other more eastward. The one to the north was Chargestone Cave, while the one to the east was called Mistralton Cave, and was ill-omened.

    Before they left the Pokemon Center, Jim had asked Nurse Joy about the road ahead. She told them that the route was pleasant and meadow-marked, as indeed it was, but that Mistralton Cave was avoided due to rumors. These rumors told of a terrible Pokemon that resided within it, one said to have a piercing gaze that brought any caught in it to their knees. No one had given a full account of it before, either due to never seeing it in full, or due to being too frightened and disoriented to (want to) remember. Such wasn’t very comforting news, especially considering the possibility that Torch was wandering that route. What was more, according to Nurse Joy, it would take them at least a day or two to reach Chargestone Cave.

    As they traveled along, Jim kept Spade out of his Poke Ball to train him up on the Pokemon along the way. Although shaken by the argument between Torch and Torrent, the little Drilbur complied to this idea with gusto. He threw himself at whatever Pokemon would appear out of the grass, and half of the time, he would either be thrown back by retaliation, or would chip through it. Despite the coaching Croco had given him, he had yet to fine-tune his attacks, so his Fury Swipes still went wide when he struck, and he often missed when trying to use Drill Run, presumably from not taking aim before going into the Drill Run stance. Jim was patient, however, and was always ready to help Spade recuperate, depending on whether his pains were physical or emotional. Spade, for his part, while momentarily miffed when his performance was lackluster, was always eager to keep going.

    Jim also took the opportunity of checking the Pokemon they met on the route. Primarily, there were Deerling and two Bug-type Pokemon. One was a small, blue beetle-like Pokemon with a pronged horn, stubby limbs, a yellow underbelly, and a black face with orange and yellow eyes and a fanged mouth. The other was a pink Pokemon with a protruding, puckered mouth, completely covered in a silvery casing vaguely resembling a mix between a knight’s helmet and a gravy boat.

    “Karrablast, the Clamping Pokemon. When threatened, Karrablast spits an acidic liquid at its opponent. For unknown reasons, it evolves when electrically stimulated and in the vicinity of Shelmet.”

    “Shelmet, the Snail Pokemon. Shelmet defends itself by closing the lid of its shell, or by spitting a poisonous liquid. It evolves when near Karrablast.”

    Jim had never heard of Pokemon that needed to evolve via proximity to each other, and couldn’t help but wonder if they were under Cruise’s expertise.

    There was one more Pokemon on the route, actually, that caught them completely by surprise. Spade was walking ahead, looking for challengers, when he stopped dead, looking down at something.

    “Hey, Jim!” he called, “Looks like someone dropped their Poke Ball.”

    “Dropped their Poke Ball? Pretty careless, if you ask me.”

    Looking at where Spade was indicating, he also saw a round object sitting in the grass, unmistakably a Poke Ball.

    “Maybe we oughta hold onto it, take it to a lost and found,” said Spade, reaching down for it.

    “Don’t touch that, you fool!” snapped June, suddenly.

    Her vines whipped out, snagged Spade’s arms, and dragged him back towards them in an instant.

    “What was that for?” asked the bewildered Drilbur.

    “Don’t you know a Foongus when you see one?!” asked June, angrily.

    Sure enough, the 'Poke Ball' twitched, and it raised itself, revealing itself to be something like a tiny white mushroom with beady eyes, a round pink mouth, and stubby arms, gazing at them in curiosity. The Poke Ball Spade had tried to touch was a decorative coloring on its cap. Jim took out his Pokedex once again.

    “Foongus, the Mushroom Pokemon. Foongus releases a cloud of paralyzing spores when threatened. Strangely, it resembles a Poke Ball.”

    The Foongus continued to blink at them, and then hopped away into the bushes.

    “Gosh, June,” breathed Spade, “ya saved me.”

    “Just don’t do anything so foolhardy again,” said June, her anger abating, but still stern in tone. “No Trainer is ever careless enough to abandon a Poke Ball…”

    Jim was quite surprised by June’s abrupt actions, as well as the steeliness of her tone. It reminded him almost irresistibly of his own mother when he was about to hurt himself or touch something he shouldn’t. He had always known June to be a voice of reason in a sea of chaos, but had never pictured her in such a protective light, relieved that her charge was safe but angry at its ignorance. He wondered if this had anything to do with Missy’s injury…

    ***


    An entire day passed as they trekked along the route, and there was still, as of yet, no sign of Torch. Of course, Jim had all of his Pokemon save for June and Spade in their Poke Balls while they walked, so there was no risk of Torrent sprinting away from the group trying to find his brother. Lilligant had asked that they give him time alone to think, and Jim had every intention of following her advice. Nevertheless, he kept a constant eye out in case he should reappear again.

    The night passed in complete silence, the two humans and their Pokemon sheltered in their sleeping bags under the spreading branches of a tree. They slept undisturbed for the most part, but in the middle of the night, they awoke with a start.

    Oshawott, who had been keeping a vigil like a night watchman , had suddenly sprung to his hind paws and drawn his scalchop. Something dashed off into the distance, with heavy footfalls.

    “What is it?” asked Leanne.

    “I’m not sure,” said Oshawott. “It sounded as if someone was approaching us in the dark, but the vagabond sprinted as soon as I caught sight of him…”
    Jim related to Leanne what Oshawott said, and a pensive expression came across her face.

    “Do you think we’re still safe out here?”

    “We should be,” reassured Jim. “I don’t think they’d dare strike again, knowing Oshawott’s on guard.”

    With this assurance, Leanne settled back down into her sleeping bag, while Jim turned to Oshawott.

    “Was it a human or a Pokemon, do you know?” he whispered.

    “A Pokemon. It went on all fours. Probably nothing more than a Deerling.”

    “Let’s hope so.”

    Oshawott sat back down to his guard duty as Jim settled down himself. He had had a suspicion that it might have been Torch coming to meet them in the night, but had given up that suspicion when Oshawott told him it was a quadruped. He was sure of one thing, however: those footfalls were too massive to have been made by a Deerling…

    ***


    The next day passed much like the previous, the two Trainers trekking along while Spade went ahead, picking fights where he could. Jim had told him he ought to be assertive when he challenged other Pokemon, but the little Drilbur had been bred to exhibit complete cordiality to others, so most of the time, his challenges went along the lines of,

    “Beg pardon, miss Deerling, but would ya’ll mind if we had a bit of a spar?”

    Or,

    “If it’s all the same to you, Mr. Karrablast, Ah’m itchin’ for a wrassle, if you’re game.”

    Some of the ruder and crasser Pokemon laughed in his face at such politeness, but some, mostly Deerling, and a Shelmet with the spirit of a cavalier, admired his manners and gladly accepted his challenges. Again, whether he won or lost was like the outcome of a slot machine, but as the day went on, he slowly began to improve, his victories outweighing his losses.

    Jim, for his part, couldn’t help but admire Spade’s well-bred upbringing, but couldn’t think it very becoming for a warrior, for while it was polite, it was also rather meek and indecisive in tone. He needed toughening up if he wanted to survive: show respect for his opponents, but be bold at the same time.

    That night, in fact, during dinner, June decided to have a talk with Spade.

    “You’re coming along nicely, Spade, but I think you still need to improve one thing.”

    “What’s that, Miss June?”

    “Your entrances. I make no mistake about it: you’re a very polite young man.”

    Spade averted his eyes and clasped his paws bashfully.

    “Well, gosh, thank ya kindly for sayin so…”

    “That’s fine outside of battle, and it’s fine within battle, but perhaps it could stand a little…alteration.”

    “How do ya mean?”

    “What she means, my boy,” said Oshawott, who had overheard and approached in his turn, “is that you’re being much too modest.”

    “Modest?”

    “There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be chivalrous when you engage in combat, but you must also display assertion and confidence, not mere obligingness.”

    “How do ya mean?” Spade asked again.

    “Like this."

    June and Oshawott stood apart from each other, Spade sitting between and off to the side.

    “Madame,” said Oshawott, in an authoritative voice, drawing his scalchop, “by your leave, I challenge you to combat!”

    “Sir,” said June, with complete composure, “by your leave, I accept your challenge, and shall not hold back. On your guard!”

    “There now. See how simple that was?” asked Oshawott.

    Spade blinked.

    “Ah think Ah see where ye’re getting at, Mr. Oshawott, but Ah dunno if Ah can speak fancy like y’all.”

    “You’ll get it in time,” said June. “Just be strong in tone and assertive in manner, and you’ll do fine.”

    “Ah’ll certainly try,” said Spade, in a hopeful voice.

    Jim, overhearing all this, smiled as he finished off the soup in his bowl.

    “Ugh, I don’t think I can eat another bowl,” said Leanne.

    She lay back and rested her hands on her round stomach. It was more noticeable by her pajamas, which weren’t as loose as her usual shirt.

    “Your soup’s way too good.”

    “It’s my mother’s recipe,” said Jim, “for when I was feeling sick or bluesy. I had no idea you’d like it enough to drink three whole bowls.”

    “You’re gonna spoil me,” said Leanne, in a teasingly pouty voice, “you’re gonna make me fat.”

    “Aw, come on, we walk around all day,” said Jim, nudging her pudgy middle, “it’s not like you can’t work it off again.”

    Leanne giggled.

    “It’s funny. I think I’ve actually dropped a few pounds since we started. I used to ride my bike when I was younger, but when I got older, I wasn’t as active, so I kind of let this gut of mine grow on me.”

    “You say that like it’s a bad thing,” said Jim. “I think it’s cute on you.”

    Almost as soon as he said, Jim wondered if he should have; his cheeks grew hot with embarrassment at his own boldness, and he could see Leanne’s redden as well. However, there was a smile on her face.

    “That’s very sweet of you to say,” she said. “No one’s ever said that before.”

    “I’m just telling it like it I see it,” said Jim, settling down beside her, still red-faced.

    As he settled back, though, he suddenly felt a pressure on the back of his hand. Looking down, he saw that Leanne had clasped it warmly in hers, and he roved his gaze from her hand, up her arm, to her gentle eyes. The same smile was still on her face, and Jim, a tingling sensation playing through his frame, reciprocated.

    In the crackling firelight, it was remarkable to him how he’d never noticed how charming she truly was. Her sweet face, her golden hair, her pretty eyes, her gentle smile…He felt an impulse, an urge, to get in closer and meet that smile with his own…

    But his nerve failed him. It wasn’t time, not yet. Besides, she was already drifting off to sleep, so he prepared to follow suit.

    “Smooth, Romeo,” came June’s voice in his ear.

    She had seen it all.

    “Oh, hush,” whispered Jim, removing his glasses. “What do you know?”

    “A surprising amount, believe it or not.”

    “Took you quite a bit of time to recognize it.”

    “Exactly. It’s not something to rush. Be sure of it before you act. Never run into it.”

    “Well, aren’t you Miss Advice tonight?” Jim teased, scratching under her chin with his finger. “First Spade, now me?”

    “Oh, stop it,” she said, pushing his hand away with a chuckle. “I’m telling it as I know it.”

    “Fair enough. Thanks.”

    He settled into his sleeping bag, June snuggling up on his shoulder. Oshawott once more placed himself as a sentinel at the foot of Leanne’s sleeping bag, and the embers of the fire slowly died away as they drifted off.

    ***


    “Who goes?!”

    Jim sat bolt upright, June roused by his movements. He looked wildly about, and saw Oshawott on his feet again, scalchop in paw.

    “Show yourself, you cur!” the little otter Pokemon shouted to the dark. “A coward is he who intrudes twice and yet shies away when his foe is ready!”

    There was no answer, but Jim, though bereft of his glasses, saw something that brought a chill to his blood.

    They had camped nearby Mistralton Cave, which was just over the river across from where they had settled. One of its rocky cliffs was silhouetted in the moonlight, and in the time between when Oshawott had stirred and yelled his challenge, something had alighted to the top of the cliff.

    It was equine in shape, with two prolonged horns pointing backward from its head. Though black as night against the moon, Jim could see a pair of piercing yellow eyes, cold and commanding, boring straight into his.

    He heard June give a small gasp and grip his arm.

    “My God…” she whispered.

    Even Oshawott seemed disconcerted.

    “It can’t be…” he muttered.

    Jim took out his Pokedex to try and end this mystery, but the screen, instead of showing a Pokemon, showed only a question mark.

    “Pokemon data unavailable.”

    “Unavailable?” Jim repeated, in disbelief. “What kind of Pokemon is there that a Pokedex can’t describe it?”

    The whatever-it-was continued to stare them down, until finally, it left its position and disappeared into the blackness. June and Oshawott let out sighs, paws over their hearts.

    “What…what was that?” asked Jim.

    “Not tonight,” said June. “Wait until morning. We’ll tell you then.”

    “Well…all right.”

    With that, the three settled down for the night once again, very much unnerved by what they had just witnessed…

    My White 2 Team

  11. #11
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 11
    A Charged Confrontation


    “…Cobalion?”

    As June had promised, she and Oshawott had decided to tell Jim about the intimidating Pokemon they had seen that last night, as they traveled along the next day.

    “Yes. I never thought I would have seen him with my own eyes.”

    “Nor I…”

    “But what’s a Cobalion?”

    He is one of the Swords of Justice,” said June, “sworn to protect Pokemon from the evils of humanity.”

    “Sounds like what Team Plasma’s claiming to be.”

    “Precisely,” said Oshawott. “Long ago, they became aware of the suffering Pokemon endured under the crueler sect of humanity, and swore never to let it continue. They are swift of foot, noble of heart, and sharp of mind.”

    “Wow. So, who are the others besides this Cobalion?”

    “Well,” said June, “Cobalion is said to be the leader, a Pokemon with a heart of steel. Terrakion is the brute force, a Pokemon with the endurance of a mountain. Virizion is a masterful tactician, said to represent the elusiveness of the forest.”

    The forest…

    That Pokemon he saw in Pinwheel Forest!

    That must have been Virizion!

    So, he had impersonally encountered two out of three, but where would they spot the third one, Terrakion? Would he also terrorize them on their road? Did they suspect him of being an enemy to their cause? Jim didn’t want to think so. He loved Pokemon, and would never want to harm them. It was Team Plasma who were the enemies. Were they already aware of their actions? Did they think Jim was one of them? His mind hurt to think of all these unanswerable questions…

    ***


    They went on in silence through the first half of that day. Spade had opted to take a break, saying he’d rather save himself for Chargestone Cave. He told Jim that the cave was full of Electric and Steel types, so he would have more of an advantage, since Electric attacks had no effect on him. Jim admired his forward thinking, and so agreed to this advice.

    He had also let Missy come out, as she had been itching to let herself glide along after being grounded by the pain of her injury. She therefore spent a good time swooping about the trees along their path with glee, often times springing from one to surprise Jim by landing on the back of his head or his shoulder, giggling whenever she was noticed and adding a playful nuzzle from time to time. Eventually, however, she grew tired and opted to sit snuggled in Jim’s arms, where she was joined, unexpectedly, by June, who nestled beside her and kept up a good conversation with her. It warmed Jim’s heart to see these two finally enjoying each other’s company mutually, especially after what had happened recently.

    Around noon, however, when they at last reached the outside of Chargestone Cave, they found themselves brought to an unpleasant halt, one that both chilled and blazed Jim’s blood.

    Cheren was seated outside the entrance, and by the look of it, was in a bad mood.

    The ground had the appearance of a fresh scuffle having taken place. It appeared Cheren had just participated in a battle, and had come out the loser, the taste of defeat being very bitter to him.

    Jim felt an unpleasant tingling in his limbs, as if he had the strong urge to sock him right in the face. At the same time, he felt Leanne’s hand squeeze his own, and he turned to look at her. There was a pleading look in her eyes, imploring him not to be rash, to take the civil route. Such a look overpowered him, and with a sigh, he relinquished the flames burning within him, and stepped forward to intercept the boy he had once called his friend.

    “Cheren,” said Jim, simply.

    Cheren looked up. His glance wasn’t hostile, but there was nothing more than civil coldness in his eyes.

    “Jim,” he reciprocated.

    “On your way to Mistralton?”

    “I was,” said Cheren, moodily, “but after what I just went through, I’m not so sure anymore.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I’ve done what I doubt even you have had a chance to accomplish. Yes, even you, with your charmed life and inexhaustible luck.”

    There was only the slightest hint of mockery in his voice, but it still ignited the flames in Jim’s heart.

    “And that is?”

    “I’ve met the Champion, Jim. I’ve battled Alder.”

    “You?”

    “Me.”

    Jim had heard of and even seen televised battles involving the Unova League Champion, Alder. He was, it was best to say, an unfathomable man, mysterious and powerful, a man who seemed to be woven from the past by his attire alone. He was, however, from what Jim had seen and heard, a man of hearty spirit, a good sport in battle and always eager to keep the challenge going. Conversely, he was not the sort of person to keep to one location for long. He was a wanderer, and had taken treks around the Unova region for months at a time. He was very elusive to find, thereby, but he did manage to show up at festivals and grand events

    “Well, I’m happy for you,” said Jim, simply.

    “I’m sure you would be, even if you knew the half of my time with him,” said Cheren, bitterly.

    “There’s no need to be so passive-aggressive,” said Jim. “What happened?”

    “What do you think? I lost. Handily.”

    “Oh.”

    “Yes. I thought I would at least last a little longer against him, but no, he struck down every one of my Pokemon with only one of his! But do you want to know what the worst part of it is, Jim?”

    “What?”

    “After the battle, he acted as if nothing had happened at all. He asked me what I planned to do with my life. I told him I wanted to challenge the League, beat him, and become the strongest Trainer in all of Unova. He didn’t seem at all abashed that I said I intended to replace him. Then he asked me, ‘And then?’ At first, I didn’t know what he meant, but he said, ‘After you do all that, become the strongest in Unova, what are you going to do next?’

    “I’d never thought about it before. I’d only ever thought of making it to the League and beating the Champ. I never imagined that there should be anything after that. It made me so mad, imagining that I was still behind in my path, that there was still something I had yet to attain…”

    Here he turned a resentful look at Jim.

    “And knowing that sooner or later, you’d surpass me while I was trying to figure that out.”

    “You’re honestly going to start that up again?!” asked Jim, getting angry.

    “Don’t act like you wouldn’t capitalize on it!” snapped Cheren. “You just want everyone out of your way so you can take your shot at the Champ before the rest of us! Well, let me tell you something, Jim, I’m miles ahead of you! Your Snivy hasn’t even evolved! I’ve got a team of powerhouses that could eliminate you in the blink of an eye!”

    “So you think that’s all you need?” asked Jim, in a softer but nonetheless stern tone, “Power? Strength? You always were a stickler for the logical and statistical.”

    “I suppose you’re going to say that ‘love’ and ‘friendship’ will see your way through?” asked Cheren, derisively. “Wake up, Jim. This is the real world, not some fairy tale fantasy. To survive, you have to be aggressive, claw your way to the top of the ladder and let no one get the better of you. That is the reality of the real world.”

    “…I pity you, then, Cheren.”

    “…What did you say?”

    “I feel so sorry for you. I thought you’d had time to reflect since we departed in Nimbasa, but I see you’re still deluding yourself that surviving by strength only refers to physical power. Do you see me struggling to keep up, with 5 badges under my belt? Pokemon are companions and allies, not instruments of power. Team Plasma would eat you alive if they heard you speaking like this.”

    That did it. Something snapped in Cheren’s mind, as a hostile flash escaped his eyes.

    “You think I’m to be pitied, do you?!” he snapped. “Then let’s put your money where your mouth is, right here, right now!”

    He drew a Poke Ball as he said this.

    “Is that wise?” asked Jim, his calm tone swapping with one of concern. “You just battled Alder, and you said he wiped out all of your Pokemon. Don’t they need to rest?”

    “Save your whining!” said Cheren. “If you must know, Alder gave them some Berries to revitalize them. Do you really think I’m as heartless as that?”

    “I never said-”

    “I said save it! Are you in or out?”

    “In, of course. To back down would give you the satisfaction of calling me a coward. Choose your Pokemon, then.”

    “Jim…” said Leanne, pensively.

    “It’s all right, Leanne,” said Jim. “It’s just a battle.”

    However, just as they were about to square off, they were interrupted by a loud outcry.

    “Keep a hold on it!”

    “I can’t! It’s struggling too much!”

    “You’re just not trying hard enough!”

    Three Team Plasma grunts exited through the entrance to Chargestone Cave, carrying a struggling, blanketed bundle between them.

    “Oh, for goodness sake, this is causing too much trouble. Knock it out and be done with it!”

    One of the grunts picked up a stone from the ground and raised it, ready to strike whatever Pokemon they had out cold.

    “Stop!” yelled Leanne. “Don’t you dare hurt it!”

    The grunts looked up in surprise, and they took a step back upon spying Jim.

    “This cannot be! The Stevens boy, again!”

    “Who is the other boy, though?”

    “Cheren, soon to be as big a nightmare to you as Jim here,” said Cheren, coldly.

    “Really? Then let us see! We shall take the three of you on together!”

    “Well, at least you know how to fight fair,” said Cheren, drawing a Poke Ball.

    “Thanks, Cheren,” said Jim, as Leanne took her place among the boys.

    “This isn’t for you,” replied Cheren, stiffly. “If anything, it’s about time someone else got a chance to fight these jerks…”

    (Figures it was too good to be true…)

    “But what of the Pokemon?” asked the grunt holding the squirming bundle.

    “Knock it out, I said!”

    “NO!” shrieked Leanne.

    Too late, for the grunt struck the bundle a smart blow with the rock, and its struggles ceased instantly. He then set it gently on the ground, off to the side.

    “You monsters…” said Leanne, in a horrified whisper.

    “We’ll pay them back, Leanne,” assured Jim, “make no mistake.”

    The three grunts set out their Pokemon: a Scraggy, a Yamask, and a brand new Pokemon. This one was humanoid, covered in what looked like red armor plating, with sharp blades lining its torso, another cresting its helmet-like head, and two dagger-like blades serving as its hands. Its face was black with yellow eyes. Jim took out his Pokedex to scan this new Pokemon.

    “Pawniard, the Sharp Blade Pokemon. Pawniard’s entire body is equipped with razor-sharp blades. Defiant to the end, it ignores injuries in combat.”

    “I’ll take the one with the Yamask,” said Cheren. “It’ll be a cinch.”

    “I’ve got the Scraggy,” said Leanne.

    “Which leaves me the Pawniard,” said Jim. “Oh, goody.”

    “Boldore, let’s go!” said Cheren, throwing up his Poke Ball.

    The rocky Ore Pokemon appeared on the battlefield and toughly stamped its front legs.

    “Tranquill, I’m counting on you!” said Leanne, tossing hers up in turn.

    In a burst of light, the Wild Pigeon Pokemon appeared, hovering over Scraggy, who gave her a tough look.

    “All right, Croco, let’s-” began Jim, reaching for his Poke Ball, when he stopped dead.

    He’d forgotten: Croco was no longer part of his team. Pawniard was a Steel and Dark type. His Earthquake or Dig would have made short work of it. Heck, even Torch would have made easy work of him with his Fire attacks. A twinge of regret at not having those reliable Pokemon on his team at the moment struck him.

    “Come, Stevens,” said the Pawniard’s Trainer, the one who had knocked out the Pokemon they had no doubt abducted, “draw your Pokemon. We’re waiting.”

    “Guess it’s my only shot,” said Jim, gripping the Poke Ball near his hand. “Spade, it’s your big chance!”

    In the characteristic burst of light from the Poke Ball, the little Mole Pokemon appeared. He took one look at Pawniard, who glared at him, and he shrank back, terrified. Cheren raised an amused eyebrow.

    “A Drilbur? Jim, what happened to your Krokorok? Come to think of it, didn’t you have a Simisear, as well?”

    “I’m not gonna talk about that!” snapped Jim. “Let’s just battle these goons so we can get out of here.”

    “Gladly.”

    “Spade, calm down,” said Jim, in a consoling tone to the terrified Drilbur. “You’re gonna do fine. I’ve got faith in you.”

    “…”

    “Just give it your best shot.”

    “…All right. Ah’ll give it a try.”

    “That’s the spirit. Now, do just as June and Oshawott taught you. Be tough.”

    Spade drew himself up and strode forward, glaring back at Pawniard, who also seemed amused.

    “By your leave, Mr. Pawniard,” he said, getting into a crouch, with his claws extended, “Ah’m ready for ya!”

    Whether or not Pawniard was impressed by this display of bravado was uncertain, as it merely got into its own crouch, its dagger-hands extending.

    From there, each Trainer and his opponent dove into their own individual battles, which this narrative will simplify by focusing on one at a time, starting with Leanne.

    “Scraggy, Headbutt!”

    “Tranquill, Quick Attack!”

    The two Pokemon launched themselves at each other, colliding at the head and thrown backwards by the recoil. Scraggy landed heavily on his feet, while Tranquill regained the air inches from the ground.

    “Hi Jump Kick!”

    Scraggy dashed for Tranquill and leaped, its knee forward, which began to glow with a reddish light.

    “Dodge, Tranquill!”

    Tranquill strafed to the left, Scraggy continuing on his course and landing with force on its knee against a rock. The Shedding Pokemon let out a howl of pain unpleasant to hear.

    “Never a pleasant thing,” muttered Oshawott. “Hi Jump Kick is a double-edged sword if the user misses.”

    “Now use Air Cutter!” said Leanne.

    Tranquill raised her wings, which began to glow blue, and flapped them heavily, sending crescent-shaped projectiles of energy straight at Scraggy, striking it over and over. Scraggy flopped over, overwhelmed by the damage taken by missing Hi Jump Kick and this super effective onslaught.

    “Scraggy! No! PLASMAAAAA!” yelled Scraggy’s Trainer, in an anguished voice.

    “I wish it hadn’t been so easy,” said Leanne, as Tranquill alighted on her shoulder. “Now I feel like I beat up on a child.”

    Such wasn’t too far from the truth, given the grunt’s fits of anger.

    Cheren was faring just as easily against his combatant. As soon as the battle began, he didn’t give his opponent an inch.

    “Boldore, Rock Blast!”

    The crest on Boldore’s head began to glow white, and then began sending forth white projectile blasts straight at Yamask.

    “Yamask, Haze!”

    Yamask spewed a cloud of black smoke from its mouth, cloaking it within it. The Rock Blast blasted through, but there was no way of seeing whether or not they struck their target.

    “Now, Shadow Ball!”

    Yamask rose up from the smoke, pulling one of its arms back, a black and purple ball of sparking energy forming in its hand.

    “Counter it with Smack Down!” commanded Cheren.

    A ball of orange and silver light formed in front of Boldore’s face, its crest and the crystals along its body glowing the same color. The two projectiles fired and struck against each other, fighting it out for supremacy in this struggle. Eventually, however, the Smack Down burst the Shadow Ball like a bubble and struck Yamask, sending it plummeting right into the ground.

    “All right, Boldore, finish with Flash Cannon!”

    The crystals on Boldore’s body shimmered, and a whitish ball of light formed in front of its face. With the force of a cannon, a beam of the same color fired and completely overwhelmed Yamask, knocking it out cold.

    “Overkill much?” muttered Jim to himself, when he observed it.

    Cheren hadn’t heard, and seemed pleased with himself for such a display of raw power.

    And lastly, it was Spade vs. Pawniard.

    “Pawniard, Metal Claw!”

    “Spade, Metal Claw!”

    Both Pokemon lunged at each other, claws glowing with a silvery sheen. What followed was something like a swordfight, the two striking at each other, claws clinking against each other, but neither moving an inch against each other.

    “Pawniard, use Metal Sound!”

    Pawniard suddenly leaped backwards, crossed its dagger-hands, and scraped them together, creating an obnoxiously horrible grating sound that set Jim’s teeth on edge. Spade clapped his paws against his ears in an attempt to shut out the noise.

    “Good! Now go in for a Slash!”

    Pawniard lunged, daggers extended and glowing white. He struck, slashing at Spade and sending him flying.

    “Spade!” Jim yelled.

    The little Drilbur got shakily to his feet, still looking disoriented.

    “It’s over, Stevens,” said the Plasma grunt, with malicious confidence. “Pawniard, end this! Guillotine!”

    Jim felt a shudder go through him. Like Horn Drill, Guillotine was another attack that was deadly enough to end a match in one strike…

    Pawniard crossed its arms in front of its chest, its claws lengthening even more and glowing a bluish-white. It then sped straight for Spade with frightening speed.

    “Spade!!” yelled Jim. “Get out of the way!!”

    Spade shook his head to bring himself back to his senses and, seeing Pawniard approaching with its Guillotine, panicked and dove straight into the ground. He was not a moment too soon, as Pawniard slashed at him just as he disappeared, the swipe of the claw just missing his back paw.

    Jim breathed a sigh of relief. It would have been disastrous if Spade had been a second later…

    Pawniard’s eyes roved the battlefield, searching for its quarry. Then, all of a sudden, Spade burst from the ground right beneath its feet, but not simply as a leap like a normal Dig attack. Down below the ground, he had tucked himself into a drill, and had turned his Dig into a Dig-Drill Run combo.

    Spade’s momentum carried him and Pawniard up further, until Pawniard finally fell away and began plummeting. Spade, however, inverted himself and dove, still in Drill Run mode, and slammed down into Pawniard, smashing its down into the dirt. The little Drilbur jumped away, but the Sharp Blade Pokemon did not get back up.

    Both Jim and the Plasma grunt stood, their mouths agape, but at last, Jim broke the silence with a whoop of excitement.

    “Spade, you did it!” he shouted, scooping Spade up off the ground. “That was unbelievable! How did you know to do that?”

    Spade gave a sheepish shrug.

    “Ah don’t rightly know, Mr. Jim. Ah kinda panicked when Ah saw that Guillotine comin’, so when Ah dug down into the dirt, Ah went into Drill Run as a kind of instinct.”

    “Well, it saved us the battle, little pal. Croco and your pa would be proud.”

    The meek Drilbur’s snouted face broke into an excited beam.

    “Well, well,” said Cheren, in an interested tone, “I’d like to say I didn’t see that coming, but then again, this is you we’re talking about.”

    Jim ignored him, and recalled Spade to his Poke Ball, before turning his stern attention to the Team Plasma grunts.

    “Take this as a message to your boss,” he said. “Not only does he have me to deal with, but he’s also got this guy to worry about!”

    He gestured to Cheren, who gave a start of surprise.

    “This guy’s on his way to becoming the next Champion of Unova. You yourselves saw how unstoppable his Boldore alone was. If I were you, I’d think twice before trying to pick fights with either of us, even if we don’t exactly fight on the same path anymore.”

    Cheren just stared at Jim in something like confused wonderment, no doubt unable to understand why Jim was still trying to be civil towards him, even after what had happened between them.

    At any rate, the three Plasma grunts were disconcerted by his words, and as two backed away, the third stooped to pick up the bundled Pokemon from the ground.

    “Leave it!” snapped Jim. “You lost the battle, and have no claim to that poor Pokemon, so leave it where it is!”

    The three flinched once more at his harsh tones, left the Pokemon where it lay, and disappeared into Chargestone Cave.

    “Good show, Jim!” said Oshawott. “You really stuck it to those ruffians!”

    “Only because they’re so easily intimidated,” said Jim.

    “Jim,” said Cheren, “I…I’m not quite sure what to think.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I still can’t say I trust you for your unwonted luck, but…I will say that I appreciate you standing up for me like that.”

    “Just because you don’t think we’re friends anymore,” said Jim, calmly, “doesn’t mean we still can’t have civil words.”

    “…”

    “Look, Cheren,” Jim continued, “I know you hate me for looking like I have it better than you, but I don’t want all this luck, not if it’s damaging our ties. All I want is to keep Team Plasma from having the satisfaction of getting the better of us, that’s all. They’re dangerous people, Cheren. They’ll stoop to any low to complete their objectives…They even tried to murder us.”

    Cheren gave a small gasp. If he’d expected anything, it most certainly wasn’t this.

    “…Well,” he finally said, “your luck still saw you through that, did it?”

    Jim gave a wearied sigh. It was useless…

    “Don’t get me wrong,” added Cheren, “I wouldn’t have wanted you dead.”

    Jim looked up.

    “On the contrary, you give me something to work for. If you’re on your way to the League yourself, then I need to step up my game if I wish to beat you and Alder.”

    Jim, in spite of himself, finally allowed himself to smile.

    “Then I’ll be looking forward to what you’ll throw at me.”

    “Depend upon it,” said Cheren, giving his glasses a twitch.

    Without another word, he recalled Boldore and made his own way into Chargestone Cave, vanishing into its darkness.

    Jim felt somewhat relieved at his civil speech there, but knew that he wasn’t in the clear yet. Cheren still disliked him, he could see that, but at least the animosity wasn’t as intense as their first altercation. He was making progress, and he hoped that, in the end, time would heal these wounds…

    My White 2 Team

  12. #12
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 12
    Into Chargestone Cave


    Jim’s reflections were interrupted when a feeble cry came from the little bundle. The Pokemon within was coming to!

    Before he could do anything, Leanne instinctively rushed over and picked it up, cradling it like a baby. Pulling away the cover, she gave an “Oh!” of surprise.

    “Jim! Come here!” she said. “Look at this!”

    Jim, June, and Oshawott hurried over and looked over Leanne’s shoulder to see what they had just emancipated from Team Plasma.

    It was a small insect-like Pokemon, its head and upper body blanketed in a fuzzy covering of white fur, save for a space left for its eyes. It had six little black feet, and a ring of five red flame-like horns around its head, like the rays of the sun. A red bruise crowned the space above its eyes. Bits of broken egg shell lay beside it. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    “Larvesta, the Torch Pokemon. Larvesta expels flames from its horns to ward off enemies. It makes its home at the base of volcanoes.”

    “It’s a Bug and Fire type,” Jim remarked in admiration. “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

    “Larvesta and its evolution are the only Pokemon possessing such a combination,” said June. "It looks like this one just recently hatched."

    “But where would Team Plasma have acquired such a rare whelp?” asked Oshawott.

    “That doesn’t matter right now,” said Jim. “Right now we need to treat that bruise.”

    “I’m on it,” said Leanne.

    She sat herself down on the ground, opened her backpack, and took out the first-aid kit within it. She first took out a Potion and sprayed it on the bruise, which caused the little Larvesta to writhe and whimper in pain.

    “Shh…” said Leanne, soothingly, “it’s ok…”

    She then took out a clean bandage and put it gingerly over the bruised area. After doing so, the Larvesta opened its eyes, which were a bright blue.

    “Mama?...Are you my mama?” it whispered, in a youthful voice.

    “Oh, poor kid…he thinks you're his mother,” explained Jim to Leanne.

    “Oh, you poor baby…” said Leanne, cradling the Larvesta close to her.

    “Where did you come from?” asked Jim, gently. “Where did those men take you from?”

    “I…I don’t know. I woke up in a bag. They were mean to me, and hurt me if I cried.”

    Although Leanne couldn’t understand what he was saying, she still held him close against her.

    “You poor, poor little baby…” she said again. “To think those brutes would hurt such a little thing like you…”

    “What should we do?” asked Jim to June. “He doesn’t even know where he came from, and we can’t just abandon him out here.”

    “Perish the thought,” said June. “We’ll take him along with us.”

    “I suppose that’s the only course we can take,” said Jim, reflectively. “Leanne, he’s coming with us.”

    “Good. I had a feeling of that,” said Leanne, maternally. “I wouldn’t leave this poor thing all alone for the world.”

    “In that case,” said Jim, “I’d say you have the right to catch him.”

    Leanne started.

    “You mean that?…”

    “Of course. He clearly likes you.”

    Leanne looked down at Larvesta, who was looking up at her with imploring eyes, his little front feet clasped to her plump middle. She smiled and gently stroked his fuzzy white fur.

    “Do you want to come with me, little one?” she asked.

    “Uh-huh."

    “All right, then. Consider yourself part of the team.”

    She held up a Poke Ball and held it out. Larvesta nudged its button, the ball clicked open, and the Torch Pokemon vanished inside it. The ball gave a few wriggles before falling still once again.

    “I just got…a Larvesta!” Leanne said, triumphantly holding the ball up.

    “Now, with that taken care of,” said Jim, “what do you say we head on into Chargestone Cave? You all ready?”

    “Definitely,” said June.

    “I’m well prepared,” said Oshawott, stoutly.

    “Mm-hmm,” said Leanne.

    “Then let’s get a move on, if we want to make good time.”

    So saying, and giving his cap a small jerk to bring it lower over his countenance, Jim led the way into the foreboding cave…

    ***


    Chargestone Cave was a winding network of tunnels extending from the route north of Driftveil City into southern Mistralton City. What made it so remarkable was that the majority of the Cave itself was composed of luminescent, bluish stones, jewels, stalagmites, and stalactites, all giving off a steady glow and a barely audible electric hum. Some even let off small, electrical discharges. All was calm, quiet, and serene…but even this was slightly eerie.

    It was into this bizarre, alluring atmosphere that the two Trainers and their Pokemon entered, gazing with wondering eyes at the electric-blue glow all about them. Far ahead, they could see several twisting paths, heading off into different areas of the cave, the view partially obscured by large crystals or gems floating of their own accord, almost magnetically encompassing large stones similarly charged. Jim regarded this discovery with a grim expression.

    “Is there a way of knowing which way will lead out?” he asked June.

    “I’m afraid I don’t know,” said June. “Chargestone Cave is visually impressive, but it’s also treacherous for those entering without a clue to its layout.”

    “That’s what I was afraid of. We’ll just have to wing it, I suppose.”

    They approached the proverbial ‘junction’ of the diverging networks, and as they did so, Jim could feel a kind of tingling on the top of his head. Pulling off his hat and feeling his hair, he was surprised to find that the electricity all around him had statically-charged his hair, and was making it stand on end. He looked at Leanne, who was facing similar spontaneous cosmetic alterations. Both looked at each other’s frazzle-haired appearance and exchanged a good-natured laugh before moving on.

    There were three tunnels before them: one running left, one running right, and one going straight on. The four travelers exchanged glances down each, neither one yielding any distinction from the other.

    June then did something quite peculiar to behold to the other three. Stepping down from Jim’s shoulder, she approached each tunnel, leaned her head in, and sniffed deeply, eyes closed. She remained still for some seconds each time she did this, seeming to be running some mental calculations from what she was apparently assessing. At last, she turned to Jim.

    “Here’s what I’ve gathered from my observations-”

    “Observations?” asked Jim.

    “Yes. I was sniffing the air to see where it was more wholesome and less…crowded by unwanted occupants. I don’t like the smell of the left path, and the right path is even worse. Therefore, I propose we head down the middle tunnel.”

    Jim looked from her to the pathway right before them, somewhat uneasily.

    “Are you sure?” he asked.

    “As sure as I can be, in our current situation,” she admitted.

    She looked up at Jim with eyes full of earnest determination, something he couldn’t help but admire in the plucky little Snivy.

    “I’ll trust your judgment, then,” he said, before turning to Leanne. “June says we ought to take the middle path.”

    “Really? How come?”

    “According to her,” explained Jim, as June climbed back onto her accustomed perch, “the air isn’t quite as foul down that one…”

    ***


    The tunnel was low-ceilinged and narrow, and dimly lit by the glowing crystals. The two Trainers walked in single file, with June out in front and Oshawott covering their rear. The electrical luminescence led Jim to believe that Electric types were in abundance in this cave, so Oshawott would have to be on his guard. June, on the other hand, was resistant to Electric attacks, and thus took the lead with confidence, her ruby-red eyes glinting in the bluish light.

    The walk seemed to endure for hours, and Jim’s feet began to ache within his sneakers. Finally, however, they reached the end of the passage and, to his and Leanne’s joy, found themselves in a large chamber where, at the back, was a sizeable door-like aperture where sunlight streamed through. The walls of this chamber were pocked with several holes of various sizes, giving it them the appearance of Swiss cheese.

    “You were right after all, girl,” said Jim to June. “Good work.”

    June merely smiled, but it instantly faded as she suddenly stiffened, her tail growing rigid.

    “What is it?” Jim asked.

    June’s red eyes narrowed into a glare, and she stood at alert attention, her mouth just barely open to show her bared teeth. Oshawott, with a prick of his ears, also seemed to grow apprehensive, and drew his scalchop before him. A stirring sound came from all around them, magnified unpleasantly by the cave atmosphere.

    From a pocket of smaller holes, there issued Pokemon resembling white fish with tapering fins running down their tails, their mouths shaped like red Xs. By some peculiar gravitational contrivance, they were able to keep themselves levitating in the air. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    “Tynamo, the EleFish Pokemon. These Pokemon travel in schools, and thus can become a force to be reckoned with when endangered, as their collective Electric attacks become devastating.”

    “That’s not good news,” murmured Jim.

    “Be at ease,” said Oshawott. “Tynamo are generally passive creatures and do not attack unless provoked or directed. They know very few attacks, so we have naught to fear.”

    At that moment, however, something else stirred in the walls. From a larger hole crept, like a serpent, an ugly eel-like Pokemon, bluish-black with beige fins and a sucker-like mouth lined with four sharp teeth. Leanne gave a small yelp and backed away at the sight of it while Jim held up his Pokedex again.

    “Eelektrik, the EleFish Pokemon, and the evolved form of Tynamo. This Pokemon has a vigorous appetite, and when it hunts, it wraps around its prey and shocks them from the electrical organs on its sides.”

    That, however,” said Oshawott, grimly, “is something to be concerned with.”

    “Trespassers!” hissed the Eelektrik. “They shall not escape us! Charge!”

    Oshawott was all too right about the Tynamo’s behavior. Upon hearing this command, they single-mindedly encircled Jim and Co., their bodies glowing yellow with brewing electrical force. An electrical current began to travel between the little EleFish.

    “What now?” asked Leanne.

    “I think I know,” said Jim. “June, break the connection! Energy Ball!”

    Comprehending immediately, June cupped her paws in front of her, and a greenish ball of energy formed between them. She fired it at the Tynamo immediately in front of her, striking it and sending it flying. The recoil of the blast also affected the Tynamo adjacent to it, and they went flying as well. However, instead of the connection being merely broken, the electricity went flying in all directions, striking and bouncing off the electric rocks like pinball shots. Jim instinctively put himself in front of Leanne to shield her from the blasts as they bounced around them, intensifying the light in the cavern. The Tynamo scattered, frightened out of their wits and returning to their subterranean burrows…but their boss still remained.

    With a furious hiss, Eelektrik lunged for them, sparking. Oshawott, impetuous as he was, activated his Razor Shell and threw himself at the beast.

    “Oshawott, no!!” shrieked Leanne, but it was no good.

    Oshawott swung, striking Eelektrik a smart blow across the underbelly, but the EleFish Pokemon merely whipped its tail and ensnared him in its grasp. Then, in a burst like the sudden turning on of a light bulb, Oshawott found himself bathed in an electric glow, one that caused him much pain, judging by his grimace.

    “Oshawott!” screamed June. “Unhand him, you wretched monster!”

    She swung her vines out and struck Eelektrik across the mouth, causing it to drop Oshawott, who fell senseless to the cave floor. Leanne scooped him up in her arms before any further harm could be done to him. Furious, Eelektrik rounded on June and, before she could do anything, spat a glob of purple liquid at her, spattering all over her.

    “June!” yelled Jim, but it was too late.

    He didn’t know what attack Eelektrik had used, but whatever it was, it had poisoned June. A sick look came over her face, her eyes appeared glazed, and she stumbled backwards. With the hiss of a victorious predator, Eelektrik coiled for a spring at the prostrate Snivy.

    “No you don’t!” yelled Jim, throwing himself forward to shield June.

    Leanne screamed, but it was no good. Eelektrik struck Jim, blasting him with an electrical discharge that laid him flat, his limbs twitching.

    “Jim…Jim, no!” gasped Leanne, fighting the urge to burst into tears.

    Instead, anger, righteous and boiling, surged through her veins as she turned to face the Eelektrik that made a victim of her close companion and their Pokemon. She drew two Poke Balls from her belt, not caring which Pokemon were in them, and threw them into the air.

    Out came Larvesta and…Tranquill?!

    Leanne’s anger was checked as she realized her error.

    “Oh no! Tranquill, I didn’t mean to call you out!”

    It was no good turning back now. Eelektrik was already eyeing its new prey and got ready to lunge at them. Flames erupted from the tips of Larvesta’s horns as he seemed to prepare an attack. Seeing this boldness seemed to put new vigor into Leanne, and it strengthened her resolve.

    “Ok, Larvesta, go for it!”

    Eelektrik struck, but Larvesta, spiraling as if performing a somersault, cloaked itself in the flames coming from its horns and barreled straight for the EleFish Pokemon, slamming into it with the force of an oncoming train and throwing it against the wall, sending shards of electric rock chinking to the cave floor. Leanne’s jaw dropped.

    “Was that…Flame Wheel? Larvesta, you rock!”

    Larvesta smiled, a slight blush tingeing his black cheeks. Eelektrik, however, was not through yet. It rose, glaring malignantly, at Larvesta and Tranquill. Tranquill, however, did something very odd. She cracked a sly grin, opened her beak wide, and spat a blazing purple and black burst of energy right at it, crushing it anew against the wall. Leanne stood stock-still, unable to comprehend what was going on.

    “Dark Pulse? Tranquill, how-?”

    ‘Tranquill’, however, pulled a flip in the air, flashed purple, and landed back on all fours…it was Zorua! Dumbfoundment gave way to relief.

    “Zorua! I forgot you could do that! You clever little scamp!”

    Zorua chuckled and winked at his Trainer, before turning back to Eelektrik. When it rose, it took one look at its competitors, Larvesta brewing more flames at its horn tips and Zorua baring his teeth and bristling his fur, and, finally admitting enough was enough, slunk glumly back into its burrow. Leanne whooped.

    “You did it! Oh, you both were amazing!”

    She scooped the two up into her arms and hugged them close. Zorua wriggled uncomfortably, while Larvesta cuddled against her chest. However, the jubilation lasted only a second, as Leanne glanced down at her fallen companions.

    “Oh no…Jim…June…Oshawott…what do we do? We can’t carry all three of them ourselves…”

    Larvesta and Zorua looked at each other, both unable to think of a solution.

    Suddenly, with startling swiftness, something zipped past them, and Leanne could just barely see a flitting shadow leap through the exit of the cave, out into the sunlight.

    “Wait! Don’t go!” she yelled, instinctively, even though she had no way of knowing whether or not the shadow was friend or foe.

    She felt compelled to follow it, but did not dare leave her companions behind. She sat down on the cave floor, right beside Jim, as Zorua and Larvesta helped bring June and Oshawott to her. She cradled the two injured Pokemon in her lap. Both were still breathing, thankfully, but June’s face had taken on an unpleasant hue. That’s when it hit her.

    “Oh no…she’s poisoned! Pecha Berry! I need a Pecha Berry!”

    She gingerly but hastily shifted Jim’s position to get to his backpack, removed the Berry cooler, and pulled out a fresh, pristine Pecha Berry. She held it to June’s lips, and to her joy, she saw her nose twitch as she evidently picked up its scent. Her eyes fluttered, but only opened mere slits.

    “Eat up, girl,” said Leanne, softly. “It’ll make you feel better.”

    Without hesitating, June bit into the pink fruit, and even as she chewed, her countenance regained some of its normal color, and she seemed to relax as she drifted off again.

    “Thank goodness…” said Leanne.

    She then turned her attention to Oshawott as she fished out an Oran Berry.

    “Eat up, my little warrior. You need to get your strength back up again…”

    Oshawott’s mouth twitched as the revitalizing Berry was wafted by his nose, and, his eyes still closed, bit into it. Leanne smiled and giggled as she remembered how excitable the little Oshawott was even after she first got him, never able to stay in one place, always eager to try out his scalchop on anything that looked at him funny. Still, despite all of that, he grew a strong attachment to the young girl who raised him, so much so that, when he was at his most irascible, it was only be her words or actions that he quitted his attitude. He was all she’d ever had…

    There remained only Jim. Unfortunately, Pokemon remedies wouldn’t suffice for his case. She’d never heard of a human regaining strength off of Pokemon Berries. All she could do was hope for the best with him. Not to mention, it shouldn’t ought to have been him knocked out by the savage Eelektrik’s attack. He had thrown himself in the way of danger to protect the poisoned June, and paid the price for it…but why him? Why Jim?…

    Putting Oshawott gently beside her, next to June, she put Jim’s head across her knees, removed his hat, and began tenderly stroking his bushy hair. His face barely moved in reaction to her touch, but his eyes remained closed. Despite being knocked out by an electrical blast, he looked…oddly at peace, as if the troubles of the world that had plagued him since he began had been wiped clean.

    “Poor Jim…” muttered Leanne. “You’ve got so much to give to the world, but the world keeps putting you through so much, when you didn’t even want it in the first place. So much to heap onto just a teenager. Then again, imagine if we were only 10, when Trainers really do set out. You’d have to have been made of some pretty tough stuff to survive what we’ve been through…”

    In regards to that, she had to admit that Jim had been a perfect model of determination and perseverance despite all of the difficulties and hardships heaped against him. Through all the pain, heartache, disappointment, and interference from Team Plasma, he had remained steadfast and stalwart, a friend to humans and Pokemon alike…She still remembered the day they first met, when Team Plasma had made its big speech in Accumula Town, and Jim had first stood up to them in public. When she saw them ganging up on him, she thrust herself into the fray, a perfect stranger to him, but something irresistible had told her that it was the right thing to do…

    And then…when he invited her to join him on his journey, and when he actually kissed her…

    She involuntarily put her hand to the cheek he had imprinted his lips onto, as if she could still feel it. He’d done so much for her, but what had she done for him?…

    …Saved his life just now, that’s what.

    It was the perfect time to repay the favor.

    With a soft and sweet smile, she turned Jim’s face slightly, leaned down, and pressed her lips against his forehead.

    “You’re gonna be ok, Jim,” she whispered. “I know you will. You’re too tough to quit now…”

    And even in his unconscious slumber, Jim must have heard these words…for he smiled.

    My White 2 Team

  13. #13
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 13
    Mistralton City: Meetings and Reunions


    “…And that’s how you found him?”

    “Exactly so: stretched out across her knees, grinning like a buffoon in his sleep, having quite peaceful dreams in such a miserable cave. Only he could, it seems.”

    Jim stirred. He thought he recognized that voice…

    His eyes slowly opened, and he saw two people bending over him. One was Nurse Joy, and the other was…

    “…Nigel??”

    “Ah! You’re awake. Nuvema Town’s crowned champion comes through once more.”

    “Where am I? What’s going on? Where’s that Eelektrik?!”

    “Calm down, calm down…” said Nurse Joy, putting her gentle hands on Jim’s shoulders to hold him back. “You’ve had a very rough time and still need to lie down.”

    Jim looked about. He was lying on a soft bed in what looked like a hospital ward, but he knew it must be a Pokemon Center. Leanne was asleep in the bed next to his, Oshawott slumbering beside her on the mattress. Likewise, June was curled up right beside him on his own bed. Nigel and Nurse Joy stood at the foot.

    “What happened?” Jim asked. “How did I get here, and what are you doing here, Nigel?”

    “Well, unless plans have changed,” said Nigel, “we’re in Mistralton City for the same reason.”

    “Mistralton? I’m in Mistralton City?”

    “Correct. However, it seems like you just arrived, while I was going to rest up and head out some time tomorrow.”

    “What time is it?”

    “10 in the morning.”

    “10 in the morning? But it was the afternoon when we entered Chargestone Cave. Were we in there that long?”

    “It was nearing sunset when you were discovered at the exit chamber, and you were taken here for recuperation. What on Earth happened, Stevens?”

    “We…we reached the exit chamber, but got attacked by a group of Tynamo and an Eelektrik. I took a shot meant for June.”

    Nigel gave a start.

    “Good heavens, man! You stood in the path of an Electric assault!? Are you daft?!”

    “Maybe I am,” said Jim, with a chuckle. “I was only thinking of June when I did it.”

    “Oh…I see,” said Nigel, in a reflective tone.

    “But, how did you discover me?” asked Jim, after a pause. “Was Leanne still conscious? That Eelektrik didn’t-”

    “Leanne’s unharmed,” said Nigel. “She was merely exhausted when we brought her here, and small wonder. She was unable to tell us much except that you had gotten a serious injury, so we rushed you over here.”

    “Nigel,” said Jim, touched, “you actually went out of your way to help me? I thought you hated me.”

    “Hated you?” asked Nigel. “No, Stevens, we’re far past such childishness. You’ve got a remarkable tenacity that I find worthy of respect, despite your, *ahem*, lower background. Besides, if you were to go, I’d lose my most interesting rival to date.”

    Jim couldn’t help but smirk at this. Nigel did have a good heart after all…

    “But that still doesn’t explain how we were discovered.”

    “Oh, that’s simple enough. Your Simisear came bursting out of the cave, frantic with worry, and ran into me as I was coming from my Gym battle. He seemed to recognize me, so he started tugging on my arm and pointing toward Chargestone Cave. Something must have happened to you in there, so I fetched Nurse Joy to assist me…I say, Stevens, what are you looking at me like that for? Are you ill?”

    Jim had risen into a sitting position, his face slack with stupefaction, staring ahead as if a grinning ghost had replaced Nigel in his line of vision.

    “Did…did you say my Simisear?”

    “Well, I assume it’s yours. He seemed to recognize me, and I’d seen him when he and that Simipour of yours were supporting her Lilligant during the tournament.”

    He gestured towards Leanne.

    “Where is he now?” asked Jim, in rising excitement.

    “Oh, he was up here watching over you ever since we brought you here,” said Nurse Joy, “but I believe he laid himself down for a nap in the end.”

    She pointed to another bed, and lo and behold, Torch was curled up, sound asleep, as if he’d been with them the whole time.

    Jim felt his heart expand beneath his chest, and a mist came before his eyes. Torch was all right! He’d been tailing them the whole time, like a guardian spirit. He’d saved them from Chargestone Cave.

    “…Torch…”

    “Is there something I’ve missed out on?” asked Nigel, sounding puzzled. “Did something happen between the two of you?”

    “Huh? Oh! Well…there was a bit of an argument between him and Torrent back in Driftveil and he…well, he ran away. I had no idea where he was ever since, but I had no idea he’d been keeping track of us.”

    “Well,” said Nigel, in a bemused tone, “you have admirable bonds with your Pokemon, when even an altercation can’t keep them away from you.”

    But Jim wasn’t listening anymore. He was rousing Leanne in her bed, shaking her shoulder to get her up. Unfortunately, his moving her only resulted in her rolling over onto Oshawott, who gave a startled yelp and flailed, and that woke her up with a start.

    She was about to give a relieved exclamation at seeing Jim awake, but he put a finger to his lips to ask her to be silent, and then pointed to the sleeping Simisear. Leanne gave a gasp and clapped her hands over her mouth. She looked at Jim, who nodded, and mouthed the word ‘Lilligant’ to her. Comprehending, she nodded and took out her Poke Ball, as Jim did the same for Torrent’s Poke Ball. He handed it to her and whispered something in her ear, which she seemed to comprehend, and she nodded significantly to him. Jim then approached the sleeping Simisear, giving him a nudge.

    Torch stirred, blinked blearily, and then snapped fully awake when he saw Jim.

    “Jim! You’re ok!”

    But his enthusiasm evaporated when he saw that Jim had adopted a very stern appearance, arms crossed, eyebrows lowered, his mouth a thin frown.

    “You run away, leave us all worried sick for three days, and now you want to play like everything’s hunky-dory?”

    Torch’s ears lowered, and his eyes dropped to the floor.

    “I…I’m sorry. You’re absolutely right, I shouldn’t have done that…I have no excuse… ”

    “Well, you ought to be sorry, but you want to know something?”

    “W-What?”

    “…I’m sorry too.”

    Torch looked up, surprised. Jim’s stern demeanor had changed to one of contrition.

    “I should have known something wasn’t quite right between the three of you: you, Torrent, and Lilligant, I mean. I should have been more sensitive, if I’d only known beforehand…”

    “You…you know then?” asked Torch, tears welling in his eyes. “I didn’t want anyone to know…”

    “Torrent told me. If you don’t think he should have-”

    “No. He was right to. You deserved to know…”

    Then, almost exactly mimicking what Torrent had done when he himself had confessed, he grabbed Jim’s jacket in a frenzy.

    “You have to understand, Jim! I didn’t do it on purpose! How could I ever want to harm her?! It was an accident! But somehow…somehow I knew she started distancing herself from me because of that! It’s my fault! It was all my fault!”

    And the poor Simisear broke into pained sobs, crying into Jim’s jacket. Jim just held the poor Ember Pokemon in his arms, just as he had done with Torrent.

    “There, there,” he said. “It’s all right. I know you’d never do something like that on purpose. It was an accident, that’s all it was…”

    “Lilligant…she still stayed nice to me, but somehow…it wasn’t the same. Deep down, I was worried she’d never fully forgiven me…”

    “She doesn’t blame you in the slightest, Torch, and neither does Torrent. They want you back very much, and not just you, but the you you used to be…”

    “You…you mean that?”

    “Of course we do, bro.”

    Torch gave a start and let go of Jim, who stepped aside. Leanne had been tasked with letting Torrent and Lilligant out of their Poke Balls for the purpose of hearing Torch’s confession. Both were regarding the repentant Simisear with warm, forgiving smiles. Torch’s eyes flowed with new tears.

    “Torrent…Lilligant…”

    “Torch, man, I was being a complete jerk to you. I didn’t mean what I said when I yelled at you about trying to impress Lilligant. If anything, I think it’s great you wanna learn Solarbeam. Might add a little flair to our combo attacks.”

    Torch’s lips quivered as they formed into a smile.

    “Aw, Torrent…How could I ever stay mad at you?”

    “Come here, you little hothead.”

    The two brothers rushed forward and embraced each other hard, remaining that way for a long while, so happy were they to be reunited once more. Leanne sniffed and wiped at her eyes, while Nigel and Nurse Joy just watched in awestruck stupefaction, since they couldn’t very well tell what was going on. When the two Simi Brothers finally broke away, it was Lilligant’s turn to throw herself at Torch. Torch, caught momentarily off guard, hugged her like he would his favorite sister.

    “Lilligant…” he said. “I’m so sorry. What happened back during that performance, I…”

    But Lilligant put one of her hands to Torch’s mouth to silence him.

    “It’s ok, Torch. I never held it against you once…You’re too sweet to want to hurt anyone.”

    Torch’s smile broadened as fresh tears brewed in his eyes. Then, he did something truly remarkable to behold.

    Taking Lilligant by the hand, he led her to Torrent, who watched in mild curiosity. Then, Torch used his other paw to take Torrent’s, and clasped his and Lilligant’s together between both of his, so that Torrent and Lilligant were clasping each other’s hands. The two looked, dumbstruck, from their hands to Torch, who merely smiled and nodded. Both seemed to understand what he was meaning by this, and beaming gratitude registered on both of their faces.

    “Torch…”

    “Bro…”

    “You two were made for each other,” said Torch, “and it’s about time I stepped out of the way to keep that alive.”

    Jim’s face split into a wide grin at these words, while Leanne, guessing the connection via their clasped hands, beamed radiantly. Torch had given Torrent and Lilligant his own blessing…

    ***


    “I’m afraid I’m still rather in the dark about all this,” said Nigel, scratching his head, after Jim had roused June and let out Missy, Echo, and Spade to welcome Torch back.

    “It’s kind of complicated to explain,” said Jim. “All that I can say is that sometimes, the strongest of families can be forged in a circus troupe.”

    “…Interesting philosophy,” said Nigel, in a nonplussed tone.

    “Anyway, since you’re here, I’d love to have a battle with you, for old time’s sake.”

    “And I’m rather interested to reciprocate your interests,” said Nigel, “but I’m afraid it would be too bothersome. I’m one badge ahead of you now, and thus we’re not on an even plane.”

    “Oho, so badges are what’s gonna decide this, huh?” said Jim, competitively. “Ok, how about this: I’ll challenge the Gym Leader later today. If I win then, we’ll battle tomorrow before you go. If I don’t win, I won’t hold you back, and we’ll battle whenever we meet up again, even if it’s as far ahead as the League.”

    “…I say, Stevens,” said Nigel, approvingly, “you’re really using your head about this. Very well. It’s a bargain!”

    He held out his hand, which Jim gladly shook.

    “By the way, Stevens, a bit of a warning. The Gym Leader is one Skyla. She’s an ace pilot at Mistralton City’s pride and joy: its airport. Unsurprisingly, she uses Flying types, so pack a good Electric or Rock type. If you take my advice, I doubt that Emolga of yours would hold much of a fight, no offense.”

    Jim glanced at Missy, who had pounced gleefully onto Torch’s shoulder. Torch laughed and tousled the fur on her head.

    “You’re actually giving me advice?”

    “I told you, Stevens, I’m beyond such childishness anymore. You’ve proven you can be a worthy rival, so I want you to be able to stay worthy, even if it means giving you a little tip here and there.”

    Jim grinned. “Thanks.”

    “I’ll wait here in Mistralton to hear your results,” said Nigel. “Do me a favor and win, Stevens. I must admit I’m quite anxious to see how you’ve improved.”

    “Will do,” said Jim, and with that, Nigel departed to give Jim and his friends some privacy.

    “Ok, crew, Nigel just told me we’re going to be facing a Flying type Gym Leader. The battle with Clay was touch-and-go, so we’re gonna need to step up our games this time around. That’s why I’m gonna be calling in some old friends. Torch, Torrent?”

    The two Simi Brothers looked up.

    “How would you two like to rest up at Professor Juniper’s for the day? I’d daresay you could use a little R&R.”

    “Sounds great!” said Torch.

    “Groovy,” said Torrent.

    “Um…” said Lilligant, shyly, “Could I…perhaps go too? If it isn’t too much trouble?”

    “You wanna go?” asked Jim.

    “Mm-hmm. As I said, if it isn’t too much trouble.”

    “What do you think, Leanne?”

    “I don’t see why not. It sounds perfect, seeing as how they’ve been a family for so long. I say go for it!”

    “I’d have said the same thing. You’ve got permission, Lilligant.”

    “Oh, thank you!”

    With that, Jim flipped open his X-Transceiver, putting in the call for Professor Juniper. After a moment or two of static, the cheery professor’s face appeared.

    “Jim! Hey there! Long time no see!”

    “Hey, Professor. Listen, I’ve just arrived in Mistralton City, and I’m gonna be doing a double transfer, plus one extra passenger, but she’s not part of my team.”

    “Oh? Well, for that, you’d need to use the Pokemon Transfer Service in the Pokemon Center, but we can handle the ones on your team no problem.”

    “Great! Did you hear that, Leanne?”

    “Yep! Come on, Lilligant.”

    The two headed out of the ward and downstairs to perform the procedure.

    “So, in Mistralton City, huh?” asked Professor Juniper. “You’re making leaps and bounds, kiddo.”

    “I know. It’s almost scary to think about.”

    “Well, don’t think too hard on it. Some Trainers with double your years in experience took twice as long to get to where you are now. So, who am I going to be expecting?”

    “My Simisear and Simipour, for Jolt and Rok.”

    “Ahh!” said Professor Juniper, looking thrilled. “I think you’re gonna be in for a big surprise, then!”

    “Really? What kind of surprise?”

    “You’ll see,” said Juniper, in a teasing singsong.

    Jim just grinned and rolled his eyes.

    “All right, I’ll get their Poke Balls ready. Good luck, sport!”

    And Juniper’s face vanished from the Transceiver’s screen.

    “I wonder what she meant by a big surprise,” said Jim, as June crawled onto his shoulder.

    “Oh, Professor Juniper’s always been fond of teasing aspiring Trainers like that,” she said. “I’d seen some of the Transceiver calls she made with other Trainers she’s worked with.”

    Then, June grew meditatively silent before finally saying,

    “Leanne told me how you jumped in front of that Eelektrik’s blast for me. You were very stupid in doing so…but I’m grateful all the same.”

    She nuzzled up against his cheek. Jim smiled and stroked her head.

    “Anytime, partner…Now, let’s get this show on the road. Torch, Torrent, return.”

    He held out both of their Poke Balls, and the two brothers disappeared inside them. Next, he took out his Pokedex to activate the transfer process. After putting in the necessary code, both Poke Balls shone brightly and vanished, but the space they had occupied was empty only for an instant, as two new Poke Balls took their place.

    “Let’s go out back and see if we can’t get some training underway,” said Jim, taking them. “Come on, crew!” he called, turning to Spade, Missy, and Echo, who followed him and June out of the ward.

    ***


    “All right, Jolt, Rok, come on out!”

    Jim tossed both Poke Balls up. In the collective bursts of light, there appeared his loyal Zebstrika, but where the little Archen should have been…he wasn’t there.

    Jim looked at his Poke Ball in puzzlement. He could have sworn he had seen the ball open and release a Pokemon. This made no sense.

    All of a sudden, Jim felt a shadow fall over him, and he looked up to see a large, winged shape dive-bomb right at him.

    “Jim-friend!” it crowed, plowing right into him and knocking him right off his feet.

    As he lay sprawled on his back, with the sun overbearing his eyes, he eventually saw the big shape standing over him, gazing down at him with a curious face.

    The realization took a moment or two to register, but finally, Jim croaked out,

    “…Rok?…”

    With an eager nod, the creature jumped off of the prostrated Trainer and stood back for him to get a good look. The Pokemon before him was a good 4, almost 5, feet tall, covered in pale yellow feathers, with large blue feathers on its clawed wings, along with plumes of green and blue on its ankles. Its reptilian head, claws, feet, and tufted tail were covered in red scales, the top of its head bearing a stripe of green.

    Stunned, Jim took out his Pokedex.

    “Archeops, the First Bird Pokemon, and the evolved form of Archen. Archeops takes a running start before taking off into the sky, possessing the ability to outrun an automobile. In the days of its prime, it coordinated with groups to hunt prey.”

    “Rok…this is…Wow! I mean, first Jolt, now you? What does Professor Juniper do to you guys?”

    “Me no know,” said Rok, with a shrug, but then added, jubilantly, “but me fly now, Jim-friend! Me fly!”

    To demonstrate, he flapped his wings, crouched, and bounced straight upwards, taking a few laps above the pavilion before settling down, just as Leanne came out to check on them. She let out a surprised shriek upon beholding the large bird-like Pokemon.

    “Leanne, you remember Rok,” said Jim, with a laugh, as he came over and stroked Rok’s head.

    “I…he…Wow…” stammered Leanne. “He really grew.”

    “Sorry I haven’t taken you out so much, Rok,” said Jim, apologetically. “I hope you weren’t getting lonely.”

    “Me no lonely, and me no mind,” said Rok, happily. “Me know Jim-friend working to be very best that ever was!”

    Jim laughed.

    “Professor Juniper can’t keep her hands off him, confidentially,” said Jolt, in an amused aside to Jim. “She’s always running little tests on him, absolutely gaga over what makes a Fossil Pokemon tick.”

    “I can imagine,” said Jim. “When did he evolve?”

    “Not too long ago. The whole lab was in an uproar, especially considering how ecstatic he was to find he could finally fly. Upset quite a few potted plants, and threw the new starter Pokemon into a scare.”

    “Oh boy. Hopefully, she’ll be glad to have him off her hands for a little while.”

    “Actually, she’s hoping a good battle will tame him a bit, calm him down so she can run proper analysis on him as an Archeops now. She’s always saying you’ve given her a scientific breakthrough, Jim. You oughta be pleased.”

    Jolt grinned and nudged Jim’s arm with his hoof.

    “Always happy to help,” said Jim, before turning to Rok. “Ok, big guy, listen up. We’re about to go into a Gym Battle.”

    “Gym…Battle?” asked Rok, scratching his head. “What a Gym Battle?”

    “That’s where you face a really tough Trainer for a badge to get into the Pokemon League. This Trainer uses Flying types. That’s why I called you, since you’re a Rock and Flying type.”

    “Ohh! Me do good, Jim-friend! Me do good!”

    “I know you will, Rok,” said Jim, “cuz you’re gonna be my secret weapon.”

    “Secret weapon?”

    “Yes. I’m gonna hold you until the very end, if we run out of options. They always save the best for last, and that’s just what we’re gonna do.”

    “Me…the best?”

    “You, buddy. Can you handle it?”

    “Me do it, Jim-friend! Me be best secret weapon ever!” said Rok, saluting.

    “That’s my boy!” said Jim. “You ready, Jolt?”

    “As ever,” said Jolt, with energy.

    “Then let’s get to it!”

    My White 2 Team

  14. #14
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 14
    Skyla: The Highflying Girl


    “All right, boys, pack it up and pack it in. That was great!”

    Jim had spent the next couple of hours working on and familiarizing himself with Echo’s, Jolt’s, and Rok’s move sets, for he’d decided on including the faithful Courting Pokemon alongside his two other entrants. They weren’t sure what Skyla would throw at them, but Jim felt confident that he could get an effective dogfight from Echo, blast them out of the sky with Jolt, or catch them by surprise with Rok’s prehistoric brute force.

    “Ok, crew, we’re looking good. Remember, Echo, Jolt, do what you can, but if the worst comes to worst, we’re counting on Rok to finish the job. Now, are we ready?” he asked.

    “Yeah!” chorused the three.

    “I said, are you READY?”

    “YEAH!!”

    “That’s what I wanna hear! Rok, Jolt, Echo, return!”

    All three disappeared into their Poke Balls, and Jim pocketed them as June took her place on his shoulder. With that, Jim and Leanne went back into the Pokemon Center to grab lunch, intending to later scout out the Mistralton Gym or Skyla, whichever came first.

    ***


    Mistralton City was in the westernmost part of Unova, surrounded by three different mountain ranges. Due to its positioning, it was also subject to frequent cool weather, which began to manifest itself as the autumn days began to wind down. Though it was a small town, as Nigel said, its pride and joy was its airport, which handled the Mistralton Cargo Service, a nationwide delivery system that sent planes out with cargo shipments daily, and had an extensive and dedicated staff. Their motto was ‘Quick and Safe’, and so far, no accidents had ever impaired the validity of that slogan.

    Since Skyla was a pilot at this airport, Jim decided to seek her out there first. What he found was a massive tarmac that seemed to stretch literally for miles. He could just barely see the fence that bordered it on the other side. At the far end was a line of glass buildings, which appeared to be greenhouses, while an enormous hanger stood at the opposite end. Cargo planes sat fueling up or ready for take off, so that the air was filled with the buzz of propellers and the growl of engines. A radio tower stood beside the hanger, its antenna swirling with mechanical regularity.

    “How are we gonna find Skyla in all this noise and hubbub?” asked Leanne.

    “She’s an ace pilot, so somebody must know where she is,” said Jim.

    He approached a pilot speaking to a ground crew member.

    “Excuse me, sir?”

    “Mm? Yes?”

    “We’re looking for Skyla, for a Gym Battle. Would you happen to know where she is?”

    “Ah, certainly! That’s her coming in for a landing right now!”

    He pointed skyward to a one-seater plane that was indeed coming in for a landing. One squeal of tires on the tarmac later, and the plane skidded to an easy halt, its propellers winding down. The cockpit opened, and, after removing her aviation helmet, a girl close to Jim’s own age, though perhaps 17 or 18, swung her legs over the side and eased herself down onto the ground.

    Jim had thought Elesa looked extravagant, but this girl was positively outlandish in appearance. She had a cute, cheery face crowned with red hair done up with a barrette shaped like a propeller. She was wearing large gloves, boots, a blue top covering only her chest, and a pair of blue shorts, these connected by a crisscross of belts forming an X over her bare midriff. It astounded Jim how she could stand to be up at high, cold altitudes with such little covering. Sometimes, he just couldn’t understand female fashion sense…

    “Any sign of them, Sky?” asked the pilot Jim had questioned.

    “Not one, Cal,” said Skyla, with a sigh. “They’re fast for a big group. As soon as Clay told me they were on the move, I tried to scope them out, but wherever they went, they’re long gone.”

    Jim’s ears perked up at this. Was she keeping an eye out for Team Plasma?

    He cleared his throat, catching Cal’s attention.

    “Ah! Skyla, this young man was looking for you. Says he wants a Gym Battle.”

    “That so?” asked Skyla, turning her attention to Jim. “Well, hey there! Name’s Skyla, or Sky, for short.”

    She held out her hand, and Jim shook it.

    “I’m Jim, Jim Stevens, from Nuvema Town, and this is Leanne from Accumula Town.”

    “Charmed! You’ve got pretty lucky timing, bud. I was just finishing up my daily fly-by, and I’m feeling in the mood for a good battle!”

    “Um, if I may ask,” said Jim, “were you talking about Team Plasma?”

    Skyla gave a small start.

    “Hey, yeah! How did you know?”

    “Well-”

    “Wait a minute…” She clapped a hand to her forehead. “Now I remember! Jim Stevens! Clay told me you’d be coming our way!”

    “You keep in contact with Clay?”

    “Of course! Driftveil City’s one of our biggest hotspots for our cargo delivery service. He told me two things to keep an eye out for: ‘some low-down, armor-wearing skunks’ and ‘a Trainer by the name of Jim Stevens looking for a Gym Battle’.”

    She put her hands on her hips and looked him over.

    “And you sure don’t look like an armor-wearing skunk to me, so you must be Jim Stevens.”

    “That’d be me,” said Jim, with a laugh. “So, are we ready to do this?”

    “Definitely!” said Skyla, clapping him on the shoulder. “Follow me!”

    And turning on her heel, she strode down the tarmac toward the hanger, Jim and Leanne tagging behind.

    ***


    The inside of the hanger was truly remarkable. Given its huge size, Jim had figured it was built to accommodate a vast fleet or aircraft, but once inside, he found that the aircraft was nestled cozily on either side, and the middle portion was converted into a regulation battlefield, painted and everything, all under an open roof, so that the sun blazed down on them from above. Skyla took her place at one end, while Jim stood at the other. Leanne, June, and Oshawott stood off to the side.

    “You must be pretty good to make it this far,” said Skyla.

    “Well, I’m not one to toot my horn,” said Jim, adjusting his cap, “but I’ve had a few close shaves.”

    “Well, prepare yourself, then. If this is for your 6th badge, you’ve come a long way, but it’s time to face the big leagues, bud! I may be an ace pilot, but I’m also an ace Flying type master.”

    “Oh, I’m ready,” said Jim, boldly.

    “Great! Grandpa, we’re ready!”

    An elderly man with receding, iron-gray hair stepped out into the open light, bearing a pair of referee flags.

    “My grandfather was an amazing pilot in his day,” said Skyla, “and I’ve chosen him to referee our match.”

    “I know you’ll do me proud, my girl,” said the old man, paternally.

    Skyla beamed, and the old man cleared his throat noisily.

    “Today’s Gym Battle between the challenger, Jim Stevens of Nuvema Town, and Mistralton City Gym Leader Skyla is about to begin! Each combatant will use three Pokemon, with no time limit. Only the challenger is allowed to make substitutions. Let the battle…begin!”

    Both drew their first Poke Balls.

    “Echo, you’re up!”

    In a burst of light, Jim’s Swoobat appeared, fluttering in the air.

    “Oh! A Swoobat! I love Swoobat!” gushed Skyla, “but I’m gonna go for a different approach this time around. Unfezant, go for it!”

    One burst of light later, and a male Unfezant appeared, standing calm and proud on the battlefield.

    Jim felt an involuntary shudder pass through him as he remembered his encounter outside Nuvema Town against the swarm of Tranquill and their Unfezant leader. Then again, it was that instant that had sealed his destiny and earned him June’s trust. Still, there was no mistaking that green under-coloring or that mask-like adornment over the eyes, with the long wattles extending toward the ground. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    “Unfezant, the Proud Pokemon, and the evolved form of Tranquill. Male Unfezant intimidate their opponents by swinging their plumage. They remain loyal only to their Trainer.”

    Jim looked over at June, but was startled by what he saw. She was gripping Oshawott’s paw with one of hers, and her other was clasped to her heart, her chest heaving with her suddenly heavy breath. Worst of all, there was a look of absolute terror in her eyes as she looked at Skyla’s Unfezant. Old memories die slow, it seemed.

    “June?” he asked. “What’s the matter?”

    June, hearing Jim’s voice, shook her head vigorously, and the terror seemed to pass away.

    “I’ll be all right,” she said. “Just some…unpleasant memories.”

    Jim nodded gravely. “I gotcha.”

    Suddenly, there was the sound of a Poke Ball opening, and in the next moment, Tranquill appeared beside Leanne, who was astonished at this action.

    “Tranquill! I didn’t call you out!”

    “Oh my stars…” gasped Tranquill, looking straight at Unfezant. “He’s absolutely handsome! Yoo-hoo!”

    She waved to Unfezant, who gave the very merest of glances her way. Echo looked from Tranquill to Unfezant, and his face darkened with rage.

    “Are we gonna get this show on the road?” asked Skyla.

    “Right, let’s,” said Jim. “Echo, you ready?…Echo!”

    “Uh? Er, yeah! I’m ready!…More ready than I was before…”

    Jim didn’t recognize the dark undertone Echo carried in his voice as he said this. Clearly, this wasn’t just a battle for a badge anymore, not for Echo…

    “Then start things off with an Air Cutter!”

    Echo swooped up into the air, his wings glowing white. Each forceful flap sent waves of white energy right for Unfezant.

    “Unfezant, Detect!”

    A glint of blue appeared in Unfezant’s yellow eyes, and he leaned himself to the right and left, dodging each of the blasts sent at him.

    “Oh, so dexterous,” said Tranquill.

    Echo growled.

    “Simmer down, pal,” said Jim, warningly. “He can’t keep that up forever. Do it again!”

    Echo spread his wings and flapped sharply once more, sending another Air Cutter straight for Unfezant.

    “Detect!”

    Unfezant deftly dodged the attacks once more.

    “Such grace…such finesse…” said Tranquill in a swooning voice.

    With a snarl, Echo pulled his wing back, a familiar black and purple ball forming in front of his face.

    “Echo, stop!” commanded Jim, sharply. “That won’t do any good!”

    Too late, Echo fired, and the Shadow Ball sailed for Unfezant, who stood impassively, and for good reason. The attack struck against his chest and evaporated, harmless as smoke. Skyla shook her head with an amused smile.

    “That’s just pathetic,” she said. “Even beginners know that even half-Normal Pokemon are immune to Ghost attacks.”

    “Echo!” snapped Jim, “What in the world has gotten into you?! I didn’t ask for a Shadow Ball! I understand that he annoyed you, but that’s no reason to disobey me!”

    These words seemed to snap Echo back to his senses, and a guilty look replaced the glower that had commanded his countenance moments before.

    “Unfezant, use Air Slash!” said Skyla.

    Unfezant’s wings glowed a bright blue as he pulled them back, with the mighty flap of his wings, a team of what looked like buzz saws made of wind blasted from them and soared for Echo, who cried out as he was struck over and over by the onslaught, nearly bringing him to the ground.

    “Echo!” yelled Jim.

    “Oh my,” said Tranquill, concerned, “poor Echo…Such a savage attack.”

    Echo, though battered, instantly perked up at this sympathy bestowed upon him, and took to higher skies with a new vigor. Jim couldn’t help observing this, and a dawning comprehension seized him.

    “Oh…” he muttered to himself in interest. “I see how it is. Well, don’t worry, pal. We’ll make her proud.”

    “Not going to call a new attack?” asked Skyla, “Then allow me. Unfezant, Air Slash once again!”

    Unfezant unleashed another onslaught of air-blades.

    “Echo, stop them with Confusion!”

    Echo’s eyes began to glow a purple-pink, as did the rest of his body, and the same glow surrounded the Air Slash blades. However, there was some real power behind them, as the effort to hold them back was putting a lot of strain into the little blue bat, his brow beaded with sweat.

    “Come on, Echo…You can do it…” encouraged Jim.

    With one mighty effort, Echo tossed the Air Slash blades straight back, and Unfezant, not expecting this at all, was slammed by his own barrage. Skyla’s jaw dropped.

    “No way!”

    “Yes way!” said Jim, triumphantly. “Atta boy, Echo!”

    Echo, however, was looking at Tranquill, who was gazing up at him with admiration. He tipped her a wink, which made her give a start, and the color mounted to her cheeks as she smiled.

    “We’re not through yet!” said Skyla. “Unfezant, Aerial Ace!”

    Unfezant spread his wings, crouched, and blasted straight into the sky like an arrow.

    “Dodge!” said Jim.

    Echo swept to the side, Unfezant blazing past. As he turned back around, however, Echo drew his wings back, which blazed blue, and he swept them forward as if doing Air Cutter, but instead…out came an Air Slash, striking Unfezant on his return and making him veer off course once again. Jim couldn’t believe his eyes.

    “Echo! You learned Air Slash!” he said. “That’s unbelievable!”

    Echo beamed.

    “Oho, this is getting good!” said Skyla, energetically, “but let’s put an end to this! Unfezant, Giga Impact!”

    Unfezant landed back on the ground, crouched once more, wings spread out, and a golden aura surrounded him. Jim knew what was coming.

    “Echo, counter it with Heart Stamp! Give it all you’ve got!”

    Echo swept into the air, his nose blazing a reddish-pink. As he reached the open ceiling, the glow became a shimmering beacon. Unfezant soared upwards, surrounded in a golden fire, and Echo swooped down to meet him, the glow of his nose carrying over into his entire body. The two blazed right for each other, closer…closer…closer…

    WHAM!!!

    The force of their impact sent tremors throughout the whole Gym, and it was accompanied by an explosion of light that blinded everybody present. When it all cleared, there was no one in the air. Instead, there lay two figures on the ground. Unfezant and Echo had knocked each other out with their attacks…

    Skyla’s grandfather raised both flags.

    “Both Unfezant and Swoobat are unable to battle!” he said. “The first match-up is a draw!”

    Skyla let out a groan, but as she recalled her Unfezant, she said, “Good work.”

    Jim, meanwhile, picked up Echo.

    “I’m proud of you, Echo,” he said. “You had a couple minor hiccups, but you still managed to take Unfezant out.”

    “Thanks, Jim,” said Echo, weakly. “Only, don’t call me back. Let me sit on the sidelines.”

    “With Tranquill?” Jim supplied.

    Echo blushed, but nodded.

    “I understand. Go get her, Casanova,” he added, wryly.

    Echo just chuckled and put his wing on Jim’s arm, and his Trainer led him to the sidelines and placed him down between Tranquill and June. The Wild Pigeon Pokemon immediately sidled up to him.

    “Oh, Echo, you were marvelous,” she said. “How could I have ever rooted for that Unfezant over you, when I’ve only seen him for a moment, while you, dear friend…”

    She said nothing more, but rested her cheek against his, which all but made him melt in pleasure on the spot.

    “Not bad, Jim, not bad,” said Skyla. “You managed to make a draw of Round 1, but now it’s time for Round 2! Ready?”

    “You bet I am!” said Jim, drawing his 2nd Poke Ball.

    “Great! Swanna, go!”

    Skyla’s next Pokemon to appear was a very elegant white swan with huge wings and water-blue feathers on its breast. Jim brought out his Pokedex once more.

    “Swanna, the White Bird Pokemon, and the evolved form of Ducklett. Its flexible neck and sharp beak allow it to attack rapidly and precisely. Flocks fly out when the sun rises, and the middle Swanna in a flock is its leader.”

    “Water and Flying, huh?” said Jim, grinning. “The odds are with us, then. Jolt, go!”

    One burst of light later, and the Zebstrika stood tall and proud. Instead of looking intimidated, Skyla put her hands on her hips with a grin.

    “An Electric type? Seriously?” she asked. “I swear, Trainers like you always look for an easy advantage.”

    “Just playing it like it is,” said Jim. “Just to be fair, I’ll let you have the first move.”

    “Why, thank you,” said Skyla, dropping a mock curtsey. “That’s very gracious of you. Swanna, Bubblebeam!”

    Swanna drew back its next, then threw its head forward, spewing a stream of bubbles from its beak.

    “Thunderbolt!” said Jim.

    Jolt’s mane shone a vivid yellow which carried to the stripes on his body, and a bolt of lightning lanced from his body, blasting through the bubbles and straight for Swanna.

    “Protect!” commanded Skyla.

    Swanna spread its wings, and a greenish orb surrounded its body, the Thunderbolt striking against it and glancing off. Jim and Jolt both grimaced.

    “Well played,” said Jim, “but we’ll see how long you can keep that up. Jolt, Thunderbolt once more!”

    “Counter it with Ice Beam!”

    As Jolt fired another bolt of electricity, Swanna lunged its next forward, beak open, and this time, an ice-blue bolt shot from it, striking the Thunderbolt in midair. The two attacks struggled for several tense moments before finally cancelling each other out.

    “This isn’t getting us anywhere,” said Jim, grimly. “We need a new tactic…Jolt, secret weapon time!”

    With a grin, Jolt charged up his electrical reserves once more. To Skyla’s astonishment, he fired a Thunderbolt straight into the air, which arced backwards and blasted right back into him. The burst was blinding, but when it subsided, Jolt stood with all that was white on his body glimmering a golden yellow.

    “What…what did you do?” asked Skyla.

    “Something I cooked up ever since Jolt was a Blitzle. Since it’s unlikely he’ll ever get a lucky Electric strike from an opponent, I decided to devise a way to self-activate his Motor Drive Ability.”

    “Oh…very clever,” said Skyla, intrigued, “but Speed’s only going to get you so far. Swanna, Ice Beam!”

    “Flame Charge!”

    Jolt began stomping the ground, kicking up a cloud of dust, and just as Swanna fired another bolt of ice, the Thunderbolt Pokemon dashed forward, cloaked in flames. He struck the Ice Beam head on, and though slowed down for a moment, he began to conquer it, edging forward and making a cloud of steam from the evaporating ice all the while. Finally, with another burst, he blazed forward and slammed into Swanna, knocking it back.

    “Kind of bittersweet,” said Jim, “since Fire isn’t effective against Water.”

    “Now we’re talking!” said Skyla. “Let’s keep it going!”

    “But how?” Jim muttered to himself. “If I use Thunderbolt, she’ll just use Protect or Ice Beam to counter, and she has Bubblebeam, which could douse another Flame Charge…unless…”

    His face lit up as an idea struck him.

    “Aha…Jolt, Flame Charge once again!”

    “Tch. Didn’t you learn from your Swoobat using Shadow Ball on Unfezant?” asked Skyla. “Swanna, get ready to douse it with Bubblebeam!”

    Jolt stomped up another cloud of dust, and Swanna fired a barrage of bubbles just as Jolt dashed forward.

    “Now, Jolt!” shouted Jim. “Swerve and come up behind!”

    Skyla’s eyes popped open at this. Sure enough, Jolt cut to the right, avoiding the bubbles and skidding to a halt behind Swanna and to its left.

    “Now, Thunderbolt!”

    Jolt let loose an enormous bolt of lightning that struck Swanna, the surprised bird letting out a squawk of pain as it was struck. Deftly, Jolt returned to his side of the field and pawed at the dirt with his hoof.

    “Whoo!” whooped Skyla, “I haven’t had this much excitement since my last flight during a big storm! You’re giving me thrills, Jim!”

    “Um…glad to be of service?” Jim said, confused.

    “But your Thunderbolt-ing’s called down the thunder on this bout!” said Skyla, pointing forward dramatically. “Swanna, Hurricane!”

    Swanna flew into the air, its wings beginning to glow brilliantly. The flapping that resulted from them brought down a powerful gust of gale-force wind that nearly blew Jim off his feet. Jolt began to slide backwards, though he clenched his eyes shut and dug his hooves against the ground.

    “Hang in there, Jolt…” warned Jim.

    “Now, Swanna, while he’s distracted, Ice Beam!”

    Swanna fired another bolt of ice, and this one struck home, blasting Jolt square in the chest and knocking him back. He skidded to a halt and shook himself off with a “Brr!”

    “Atta boy, Jolt, take it like a champ!” said Jim.

    “Your Zebstrika’s certainly tough, but we’re not done yet! Swanna, give it another Hurricane!”

    Swanna swept up and began flapping its glowing wings yet again.

    “Fire a Thunderbolt!” yelled Jim.

    Jolt sent an arcing blast of lightning at Swanna, but the force of the wind sent it off spiraling to strike the wall just above the spectators, making them cringe away in surprise. Jim grimaced at the thought of what almost happened, then scratched his head in thought, wondering how he could get past this…

    And then, an idea, more like an insane gambit, presented itself to him, and he had the calculating grin to prove it.

    “Jolt, go in for a Wild Charge!”

    Rightly so, Jolt looked at him as if he were out of his mind.

    “Trust me! Just give it a shot!”

    With one concerned glance back at him, Jolt steeled his nerves, pawed the ground, and crouched, as his stripes and mane began to glimmer and crackle anew. Skyla watched with interest as the glow intensified, and then, finally, Jolt sprang forward, surrounded by a veil of lightning as he galloped straight ahead, straining against the force of the Hurricane winds.

    “Come on…you can do it…”

    Jolt galloped harder as the winds pushed against him, Swanna trying to keep it up as it seemed to sense the threat of the impact. However, the boost from Flame Charge and activating Motor Drive decided the outcome. With a final burst, Jolt rocketed forward and leaped at Swanna, tackling it right out of the sky. The lightning aura exploded, and the winds died down all at once. Jolt was thrown clear back across the battlefield, where he landed heavily on his hooves, while Swanna crumpled on its back, out cold. Skyla’s grandfather raised a flag.

    “Swanna is unable to battle! The winner is Zebstrika!”

    Skyla recalled Swanna, looking disappointed, as Leanne and the Pokemon cheered from the sidelines.

    “And here I wanted to shatter the misconception that Electric will always beat Flying.”

    “Well, don’t get me wrong, Skyla, you very nearly had me,” said Jim. “You were planned for everything.”

    Skyla’s downcast face traded itself for a smile.

    “Aw, thanks,” she said. “To be honest, you’ve got one heck of a Zebstrika there.”

    A sly smile crossed her youthful face as she drew her third Poke Ball.

    “Which is why it’s only fitting that it battles my top Pokemon. Braviary, take to the skies!”

    She tossed the ball up, and in the burst of light, a very large bird appeared, nearly 5 feet tall, hovering in the air with deliberate flaps of its enormous wings. It was mainly blue, but Jim could see the red that covered its back, as well as the red tail feathers tipped in yellow and blue. Its head was crowned with a plume of white feathers, with a red crest over its sharp beak and proud eyes. Jim brought out his Pokedex once more.

    “Braviary, the Valiant Pokemon. This noble warrior of the skies fights for its friends no matter what the odds, and is only respected all the more if its battle scars are numerous. All Braviary are male.”

    “Wow…that’s a really majestic Pokemon.”

    “Thanks! He’s my go-to Pokemon when my plane’s having tech issues.”

    Braviary let out a proud caw.

    “Then let’s give it a good show, Jolt. Only the best for a ‘warrior of the skies’,” said Jim. “Thunderbolt!”

    Jolt let loose a blast of lightning right for Braviary.

    “Dodge it, then go in for Crush Claw!”

    Braviary swept upwards, the Thunderbolt just missing his tail, then dove for Jolt, his talons glowing a fiery white. Unfortunately, Jolt couldn’t get out of the way in time, and found himself struck by a vicious slash from the talons, tossing him across the field and onto his side.

    “Jolt!” yelled Jim. “You all right?”

    Jolt shakily got to his hooves, but looked like he was hurting badly.

    “That attack did that much?…”

    “Oh! Did I forget to mention?” said Skyla, “Baviary has his own Ability too, called Sheer Force. It doesn’t let him use added effects for his attacks, but gives those attacks a huge power boost!”

    “Oh…that’s not good,” muttered Jim. “Well, hang in there, Jolt! Try for a Flame Charge!”

    Jolt stomped at the ground, kicking up a cloud of dust, then charged through it, shrouded in flames, as he galloped for Braviary.

    “Braviary, catch it in your talons and take it for a ride with Sky Drop!”

    Jim started. Did he hear all of that right?…

    He had. Without missing a beat, Braviary swooped at Jolt and grabbed him along the back with his talons, not even bothering about the flames surrounding him. Jolt was brought to an immediate stop, the flames disappearing, as Braviary swept into the air, flying higher and higher, high enough so that he even left the building entirely, hovering above the battlefield, Jolt flailing all the while, but Braviary took no heed. Everyone craned their necks to see what was going on.

    Then, with unbelievable swiftness and force, Braviary flung Jolt earthwards, where he plummeted straight down and slammed right in the center of the battlefield, rocking the floor with the impact and leaving a crater. In the center of said crater, Jolt lay, knocked out cold. Skyla’s grandfather raised a flag.

    “Zebstrika is unable to battle! Braviary wins!”

    Jim let out a sigh as he called Jolt back.

    “Good work, pal. I’m proud of you…I gotta say, Skyla, that Braviary of yours has some brute force behind it.”

    “Doesn’t he, though?”

    “Well, you may have your secret weapon…but I also have mine,” said Jim, holding up his third Poke Ball.

    “Oh?”

    “Yep, one that, you might say…turns back the clock a few years. Rok, it’s your time to shine!”

    He tossed the ball up, it burst open, and with a shrill cry, the newly-evolved Archeops appeared. Skyla’s jaw could’ve hit the floor if possible. Even her grandfather looked stunned.

    “That’s a…how did…Where did you get an Archeops?!”

    “A present from the good folks at the Nacrene Museum,” said Jim. Rok flapped his wings and squawked.

    “Whoa…this is…WHOA! Now THIS is gonna be an awesome final battle!” whooped Skyla, hopping up and down excitedly. “All my life I’ve wanted to see or battle a real Archeops, and now I’ve got the chance! Let’s make this a good fight, Jim!”

    “But of course,” said Jim, giving the brim of his hat a twitch. “Rok, get ready.”

    Rok nodded and unfurled his feathery wings.

    “Braviary, use Crush Claw!”

    Braviary dove, its talons blazing once more.

    “Rok, Aerial Ace!”

    With a sweep of his wings, Rok swept upwards and forwards, narrowly missing Braviary’s attack before striking back by slamming into him from behind.

    “Ooh, yeah!” said Skyla, excitedly. “Let’s make this a dogfight! Braviary, Crush Claw, once again!”

    Once more, Braviary lunged, talons glowing.

    “Dodge and use AncientPower!” said Jim.

    Rok swept out of the way of Braviary’s attack, then cupped his claws in front of his face. A glowing white sphere, which seemed to possess small chunks of stone floating within it, formed and expanded until he launched it, striking Braviary square in the chest, knocking it back.

    “Ok, you’ve got yourself a speedy Archeops,” said Skyla, “This is getting more and more exciting!”

    “Glad to keep you entertained,” said Jim, cracking a grin. “Rok, give him another AncientPower!”

    Rok formed another glowing ball in front of his face.

    “Braviary, blast straight on through with Superpower!”

    As Rok launched the AncientPower, Braviary flew straight for him, a fierce blue aura surrounding his entire body. He blasted right through the AncientPower, smashing it as if it were a real stone, and carried straight on through, slamming full-force into Rok, who toppled backwards from the impact, almost hitting the ground, but catching himself at the last minute. Jim winced.

    “Ooh…that looked like it really hurt. Rok’s a Rock type, but a Flying type too, which means normal damage from Fighting moves…”

    “Come on, Jim, no stalling!” said Skyla, “Or else you’re gonna get crushed! Speaking of, Braviary, Crush Claw!”

    Braviary dove talon-first for Rok.

    “Rok, use Dragonbreath!”

    Rok took a deep breath and let out a reptilian roar, a roar punctuated by a jet of white flames that spewed from his fanged mouth. Braviary saw too late what it had gotten itself into, and was struck full-force by the flames, bringing a wince from Skyla.

    “What was that you were saying, Skyla?” asked Jim, wryly.

    “Har-har, very funny,” said Skyla, “but we’re not through yet. Braviary, Sky Drop!”

    Bravary flew straight at Rok, talons at the ready.

    “I don’t think so!” said Jim. “Rok, use Crunch!”

    With the dexterity of a snake, Rok moved his neck back, narrowly missing Braviary’s talons, then bit violently down on his leg. Braviary’s eyes popped wide open, and he let out a howl of pain as he tried to whip Rok off of him. He finally succeeded in shaking the First Bird Pokemon off, but the latter looked very proud of himself for his maneuvering, while the former was glaring at him with a gaze that could have melted ice.

    “Your Archeops has a lot of energy,” said Skyla, “but you’re not gonna get out of this so easily.”

    “We’ll see,” said Jim. “Rok, Aerial Ace!”

    “Superpower!”

    The two soared at each other, and the match turned into an all-out dogfight, each dodging and striking this way and that, only chance deciding who got a hit in and who didn’t. Rok swiped and bit while Braviary struck out with his wings or his talons, the sky becoming overcast as a true visual testament to their furious struggle. The wind picked up and blew through the open ceiling as everyone watched the two rivals duking it out.

    Skyla, a grim smile on her face, gave a business-like tug at her flight gloves.

    “Jim, your Archeops is just amazing. It hurts me to have to do this, but it’s my duty as a Gym Leader to give my all, and by gum, that’s what I’m about to do! Braviary, prepare for Brave Bird!”

    Braviary swept back, covered in buffets and scrapes from his dogfight with Rok. A blue glow surrounded his noble frame, a glow that soon became a blazing, towering fire. Jim didn’t know what to expect, but he knew that fiery aura plus strong Pokemon equals very, very bad news. There was only one thing for it…

    “Rok, I want you to counter with AncientPower,” he said, “and don’t spare anything in using it. Give it everything you have! Understand?”

    Rok looked uneasily at him for a moment, but then, with a confident smile, he nodded and, turning back towards Braviary, cupped his claws in front of his face, forming another white, blazing sphere studded with floating rock chunks. As Braviary spread his wings and blazed straight for Rok like an arrow, the sphere grew bigger and bigger, until it was just as big as he was, if not bigger!

    And then, he fired!

    Braviary and the AncientPower connected, the impact unleashing an enormous, fiery explosion that all but blew Jim off of his feet and deafened him to boot. June and Oshawott kept a tight grip on Leanne’s legs to keep from blowing away while Echo shielded Tranquill with his leathery wings. A heavy smokescreen hung over the battlefield, and for several tense moments, not a trace of the combatants could be seen.

    And then…two floating shapes were seen, barely inches from each other: Rok and Braviary, glaring each other down, both looking very battered and worn. However, Braviary looked the most damaged, with smoke from the explosion still dissipating in wisps off of his wings and back. His noble eyes were narrowed to mere slits, and Rok was giving him quite the enduring stink-eye as well.

    Then…it happened.

    Braviary, without making a single check in its steadfast expression, dropped to the ground, finally yielding. Skyla gasped, and her grandfather raised one flag.

    “Braviary is unable to battle! Archeops is the winner, and the victory goes to the challenger, Jim Stevens!”

    Jim stood stock-still, absolutely stunned by what he’d just seen, but found himself knocked violently out of his stupor as Rok swooped at him and wrapped his wings around him in a crushing hug. Finally finding his senses again, Jim laughed and embraced the goofy Archeops.

    “You did it, Rok! I knew you’d see us through! You were amazing!”

    “Me good secret weapon, Jim-friend?”

    “You were an awesome secret weapon, buddy! I’m proud of you!”

    Rok beamed and nuzzled his scaly head against Jim’s cheek. Leanne and the little crowd of Pokemon cheered wildly, praising Rok for pulling off a spectacular finish. Skyla, meanwhile, had hunched down by Braviary and was stroking his plumage.

    “You were wonderful, Braviary,” she said, consolingly. “Even though we lost, I’m still proud of you. Now get a good rest.”

    And the Valiant Pokemon vanished into its Poke Ball.

    “You did a splendid job, my girl,” said her grandfather. “You didn’t win, but you put on quite the aerial battle.”

    “Thanks, Grandpa,” said Skyla, with a smile.

    She then crossed over to Jim, who finally managed to get out of Rok’s crusher-hug.

    “Jim, I’ve gotta say, out of all the Trainers who’ve faced me over the years, you gave me the biggest thrill out of any of them! Your Archeops is an absolute marvel!”

    “Thanks, Skyla. You really had me on my toes, though. If this is what it’s gonna be like from here on out, I’ve gotta step up my game.”

    “See that you do,” said Skyla, with a giggle.

    Then, clearing her throat, she reached into the pocket of her shorts and pulled out a badge resembling a bluish feather.

    “As Gym Leader of Mistralton City, I, Skyla, confer onto you, Jim Stevens, the Jet Badge!”

    And she placed it into the palm of his hand. Jim held it skyward, where it caught the sun filtering through a rent in the clouds.

    “And this makes six: the Jet Badge!”

    The pose only lasted a moment, however, as Rok took that moment to tackle Jim to the ground from behind, like a playful dog. As everyone around him laughed, Jim muttered, in a strained voice,

    “Now I can see why the Professor wanted you off her hands for a while…”
    Last edited by TPrower; 2nd April 2014 at 12:07 PM.

    My White 2 Team

  15. #15
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Gender
    Male
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 15
    Triple Battle



    The sun was beginning to sink as Jim waited for his Pokemon to heal up at the Pokemon Center. He told Nigel about his battle with Skyla, as he had kept his word about remaining until he heard the results. He was visibly impressed.

    “Well! I daresay that sounds like a touch-and-go battle, Stevens.”

    “Oh, trust me, she kept me on my toes. Was it any different with how you faced her?”

    “Oh, so-so,” said Nigel, indifferently. “Judging by how long you took, however, I’d say that I had the better strategy.”

    “Is that a fact?” Jim asked, sensing an imminent altercation.

    “Undisputedly,” said Nigel, smugly.

    “I guess we’ll see if that holds true tomorrow, then.”

    “We certainly shall. By the by, Stevens, have you ever been in a Triple Battle before?”

    “A…Triple Battle? No, the most I’ve been in is Double Battles.”

    Nigel gave a soft laugh. “How pitiful. To think you’ve obtained 6 badges and don’t even know the fundamentals of a Triple Battle. Well, you know Double Battles are two against two, don’t you?”

    “Of course, I’m not that stupid,” said Jim, stiffly.

    “Then a Triple Battle is three against three. It’s a recent innovation, designed to challenge teamwork and coordination.”

    Jim thought back to the last time he’d tried a ‘battling innovation’, the Wonder Launcher, and remembered how confusing that was. This, on the other hand, wasn’t about using fancy new technology, but good old-fashioned wits and strategy. He could handle this, no problem…

    “All right, a Triple Battle it is!” he said at last.

    “Excellent. I’ll await you in the pavilion around back, tomorrow morning at 9 sharp. I trust that you’ll be punctual.”

    “I’ll be there on the dot,” said Jim, confidently.

    After that, Nigel retired to where he was staying, leaving Jim and Leanne to themselves.

    “A Triple Battle?” asked Leanne. “Are you sure you can handle that?”

    “I’ve got faith in my team, Leanne,” said Jim. “I’ll show Nigel he can’t discount my skills so easily.”

    “Speaking of Nigel, did you notice he’s been acting a lot differently since you fought him in Nimbasa City?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Like, he used to be really snotty and insulting, but now he’s really polite.”

    “If I guess right, I earned his respect when I beat him. He’d thought I was weak compared to him, but now that I’ve matched his skills, he sees me as a worthy rival, and wants to make sure I continue being worthy. I’d say it’s more of a pride thing than anything.”

    “Wow. I guess I’m lucky I’ve never had a rival. I don’t think I’d be able to keep up.”

    “Don’t be silly, Leanne. You’re a great Trainer. Just look at Oshawott.”

    Leanne smiled. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

    At that moment, the signal indicating that his Pokemon had finished healing sounded, and Jim went to collect them. After pocketing his Poke Balls, the two went out into the pavilion, where Jim had let June, Missy, and Spade out, with Oshawott close by. Missy was, no surprise, being extremely playful, pouncing on her friends gleefully from behind, though while Spade took it with a laugh, June retaliated with a tickle attack with her vines, a sight that warmed Jim’s heart to see. He and Leanne decided to let the remainder of their Pokemon out to enjoy a little playtime, and soon, Jolt, Rok, Echo, Tranquill, Zorua, and Larvesta joined the party. Being young yet, Larvesta took to Zorua as a playmate, something the Tricky Fox accepted readily. Echo and Tranquill settled themselves on a tree branch, nestled cozily together. Rok took to the top of another tree and dozed off, snoring rather loudly, while Jolt settled himself down for a nap in the grass.

    After watching this for some time, Jim turned to Leanne, a more serious expression on his face.

    “Leanne…in all the excitement of Torch returning and preparing for Skyla, I never got the chance to ask. What happened in Chargestone Cave after I was knocked out?”

    “Oh! Well, I…I still can’t believe all of that happened. I was so mad that that Eelektrik attacked you, Oshawott, and June, and I couldn’t just stand there helpless, so I threw out two Pokemon at random: Larvesta and Zorua. The funny thing was, Zorua was disguised as Tranquill!”

    “Disguised as Tranq-” Jim began, in astonishment, then seemed to recall something. “Ohh! His Illusion Ability! It allows Zorua to take on the guise of the Pokemon last in one’s party.”

    “Oh, is that how that works?” asked Leanne, interested. “I’ve gotta use that more in the future.”

    “But don’t let me interrupt. What happened next?”

    “Well, I was horrified that I’d sent Tranquill against an angry Electric type, but Larvesta plunged right in with a Flame Wheel, giving that brute a good smack!”

    “Wow! He’s got some real power if he pulled off a Flame Wheel like that.”

    “Uh-huh! And then Zorua, still imitating Tranquill, really caught me off guard when he did a Dark Pulse, because I thought it was Tranquill doing that!”

    Jim laughed. “Yeah, I’d imagine that’d look pretty freaky, a Dark-type attack coming from a Normal/Flying type.”

    “Well, the two of them made that Eelektrik back off, and then I tended to the three of you until we were discovered.”

    “Tended to us?”

    “Mm-hmm. I gave June a Pecha Berry for her poisoning and Oshawott an Oran Berry, but I knew none of those were what you needed, so I just watched over you until help arrived.”

    Jim just stared fixedly at her for some moments, mouth slightly agape.

    “Jim?…Are you ok?”

    Jim took her hand in both of his, clasping them warmly.

    “Leanne…you saved my life. Not just mine, but June and Oshawott’s too…I owe my life to you…”

    Leanne’s cheeks turned red.

    “Jim…it was nothing, really-”

    “It was anything but nothing!” said Jim. “You have no idea of the extent of my gratitude towards you, Leanne Summers. You, who have stood by my side ever since we first met, when Team Plasma had me singled out. You, who rescued me from that Scolipede. You, who have ever been my constant companion throughout this whole journey thus far…Leanne, I-”

    But Leanne put her hand to his mouth to stop him, giving him a gentle, warm smile. Words weren’t necessary. Slowly she removed her hand, and slowly Jim moved in closer…closer…until finally…

    Their lips met.

    Neither of them knew how long they stayed that way, but stopped when they heard a prolonged, dreamy sigh coming from their right. Breaking apart and turning their attention to the sound with blushing cheeks, they found that they had been observed by all of their Pokemon. The more mature members, such as June, Jolt, and Oshawott, were regarding them with warm, proud smiles, while the more immature, like Missy, were absolutely gushing. Echo had a dreamy, romantic look on his face, which Tranquill was regarding with much amusement.

    “Please, don’t mind us,” he said.

    It was times like this that made Jim wish he couldn’t hear what his Pokemon were saying…

    ***

    Just as Jim had promised, he was out on the pavilion by 9, where Nigel was standing, arms folded, awaiting him. As soon as Jim made his appearance, he took a gold pocket watch from his pocket and examined it.

    “9 o’clock exactly. Very good, Stevens. Now, are you prepared?”

    “You know it!”

    “Excellent, then let us begin, but don’t try to make it brief on my account. I have all the time in the world.”

    “What are you implying?” Jim asked, wryly.

    “Oh, nothing,” said Nigel, in an ironically innocent voice, as he drew three Poke Balls from his pocket. “Simisage, Beheeyem, Jellicent, come forth!”

    Three bursts of light came from the balls, and Nigel’s faithful, smug Simisage appeared, arms folded, along with two new Pokemon. One was a brownish creature with an oblong, groove-marked head, green goggle-shaped eyes, a lampshade-shaped body, and club-shaped arms with colored circles on the palms. The other was a bulbous, balloon-like Pokemon, blue in coloration, with four small tentacles and two longer ones, red eyes with a single eyelash each, an enormous white mustache, and a small white crown atop its head. Jim brought out his Pokedex to check them.

    “Beheeyem, the Cerebral Pokemon, and the evolved form of Elgyem. Beheeyem communicates via the three flashing lights on its hands. It has the uncanny ability to manipulate a person’s memories.”

    “Jellicent, the Floating Pokemon, and the evolved form of Frillish. Jellicent absorbs seawater into its body and expels it again to propel itself forward. It feeds on life energy, and the disappearance of many ships at sea are attributed to a Jellicent exercising territoriality.”

    “Why are so many Psychic and Ghost types so unpleasant in description?” Jim wondered.

    In any case, he pocketed his Pokedex, took two Poke Balls, and nodded to June. The Snivy took her place in front of Jim.

    “Ahh, your faithful Snivy,” mused Nigel. “We meet again.”

    June and Simisage looked each other straight in the eye, exchanging a curt nod.

    “And my other two,” said Jim, “will be Jolt and Rok!”

    He tossed the balls up as he said this, and the Zebstrika and Archeops appeared abreast of June. Nigel gave a start of surprise.

    “My word!” he exclaimed. “A live Archeops! Where did you find it?”

    “It was a gift from Lenora in Nacrene City,” said Jim, proudly.

    Rok flapped his wings and trilled.

    “Well…I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised,” said Nigel, with a smirk. “You are a very remarkable gent, Stevens, and a fellow of unusual happenstance. That’s what makes you an interesting rival for me.”

    “Glad to hear,” said Jim. “Now, shall we begin?”

    “Let’s,” said Nigel.

    “Leanne, will you be our judge?” asked Jim, turning to his companion.

    “Sure!”

    She hurried over to stand between the two combatants. She cleared her throat and said,

    “The Triple Battle between Jim Stevens and Nigel Richmond shall now begin! The battle will be over when all three of one Trainer’s Pokemon are unable to battle. Go!”

    “Jolt, use Thunderbolt on Jellicent!”

    Jolt fired an arcing lightning bolt straight for Jellicent.

    “Beheeyem, take the shot!”

    To Jim’s utter bewilderment, Beheeyem threw itself in front of Jellicent, arms spread out to shield it, and the Thunderbolt struck it dead-on. What on Earth had he meant by such a command?!…

    “And now, Recover,” said Nigel, composedly.

    Beheeyem’s entire body began to glow a greenish-gold, and the charring it had been given by the electrical onslaught vanished.

    “Whoa…” muttered Jim. “That took guts…”

    “Now, Simisage, Magical Leaf!” ordered Nigel.

    Simisage raised its arm, and a cloud of glowing leaves surrounded him. He threw his arm forward, and the attack went sailing toward Jolt.

    “June, Leaf Tornado!” said Jim.

    June leaped up, spinning like a top, and creating a swirling cyclone of leaves around herself. With a swing of her tail, she let it loose, cutting across the field and absorbing the onslaught of Magical Leaves. Simisage shielded himself with one arm as the attack swept over him, though a backlash hit Beheeyem as well.

    “You’ve got some resource, I see,” said Nigel, “good! Keep the game going! Jellicent, Hydro Pump on Archeops!”

    Jellicent reared back and spat a pressurized blast of water from the middle of its mustache.

    “Rok, use Dragonbreath!” said Jim.

    Rok breathed a blast of white fire from his mouth, meeting the Hydro Pump halfway, the two attacks struggling for dominance. Jim figured it wouldn’t be taken out so easily since it was a Dragon attack rather than a Fire attack. However, Jellicent had the upper hand, since Hydro Pump was a Water attack coming from a Water Pokemon, and Dragonbreath was soon overpowered, Rok becoming swamped with a deluge of water. He let out a squawk as the powerful blast knocked him back.

    “Rok! June, don’t let him get away with that! Energy Ball!”

    June cupped her paws to her side, forming a glowing greenish-yellow ball between them, which she then launched straight for Jellicent. The attack struck, satisfying Jim that the direct hit would leave some good damage, when Jellicent’s entire body became surrounded by a smoky black aura, an aura that also surrounded June, who shuddered, and her eyes went off-kilter for a brief moment.

    “Aw, man, I forgot,” muttered Jim. “Cursed Body. Now June can’t use Energy Ball again…”

    “I see you both learn and forget from experience, Stevens,” said Nigel, smugly. “No one attacks a Cursed Body Pokemon without paying the price. Now, Simisage, Focus Blast on Zebstrika!”

    So Simisage had upgraded from the close-range Low Sweep to a long-range Focus Blast. Jim knew this could mean trouble.

    Simisage cupped his paws in front of it, forming a shimmering blue sphere that he then launched straight for Jolt.

    “Rok, get in there and block with AncientPower!” yelled Jim.

    Having had time to shake himself off from the Hydro Pump attack, Rok soared in front of Jolt, cupping his claws together to form a glowing white sphere shot with floating stone bits. It launched just in time, but Focus Blast was a Fighting move, and soon overpowered the Rock move, blasting through and striking Rok, who crumpled in a heap.

    “Rok!” yelled Jim. “Come on, buddy, get up!”

    Rok tried to struggle to his feet, but taking both the Hydro Pump and Focus Blast had been too much for him, and he slumped flat on his face.

    “Archeops is unable to battle!” said Leanne, though she looked like she regretted saying it. “It’s now 2 against 3.”

    Jim sighed. “Well, you did your best, Rok, and that’s what counts. Return.”

    And he called Rok back into his Poke Ball, leaving June and Jolt to face three opponents.

    “Ok, guys, show them we won’t let that slide! Jolt, use Wild Charge on Jellicent!”

    Jolt pawed the ground, glaring at Jellicent. Then, with a spring, he dashed right for the Floating Pokemon, cloaked in a veil of electricity. Nigel was caught off guard.

    “Jellicent, use-”

    But he never finished his command. Jolt slammed right into Jellicent, the electricity transferring into it. As Jellicent crumpled from the devastating blow, however, the same smoky aura surrounded it and Jolt. Wild Charge had been restricted, but in Jim’s eyes, it was worth it if it meant getting the more dangerous Pokemon out of the way.

    “Jellicent is unable to battle!” said Leanne. “It’s now 2 against 2!”

    “I should have seen that coming,” Nigel admitted, as he recalled Jellicent, “but you do realize that you’ve locked yourself out of using that little ace up your sleeve again, don’t you?”

    “Of course I do,” said Jim. “It’s a small price to pay.”

    “Suit yourself,” said Nigel, with a shrug. “Beheeyem, Psybeam!”

    Beheeyem extended its arm, palm facing forward, and the colored lights on its hand began glowing a myriad of colors, before a beam of the same color fired right for Jolt.

    “Thunderbolt!”

    Jolt shot another arcing lightning bolt, which met the Psybeam in midair, the two attacks striking and dissipating at the same time.

    “Now, June, Aerial Ace!”

    June crouched, arms spread like wings, then shot forward at an astounding speed, tucking her arms in as she went, rocketing right towards Simisage.

    “Not this time!” said Nigel. “Simisage, Acrobatics!”

    Simisage somersaulted into the air, causing June to miss as she swept by, and the Thorn Monkey Pokemon came spiraling down, slamming down on June foot-first.

    “June!” yelled Jim. “Jolt, get in there and save her! Flame Charge!”

    Jolt stomped at the ground, working up steam until he finally charged forward, surrounded in flames.

    “Beheeyem, Zen Headbutt!” commanded Nigel.

    The crown of Beheeyem’s head became surrounded in a bluish light, almost like a shielding, and it rocketed itself forward like a missile at Jolt. Jim, however, smiled.

    “Swerve!”

    Jolt suddenly shifted to one side, and Beheeyem soared straight past, giving the Thunderbolt Pokemon a clear shot at Simisage, who was still standing over June. He struck a hard blow right at him, throwing him back and singeing him for good measure. With a grimace of pain and displeasure, Simisage regained its footing. June fought to get back to her feet, but the Acrobatics had knocked the wind out of her, and she couldn’t get back up. She flopped onto her face.

    “June is unable to battle,” said Leanne. “It’s now 1 against 2.”

    “This isn’t looking too good,” said Jim, as Oshawott recovered June and dragged her gently to the sidelines. “But we’re not throwing in the towel! Jolt, Flame Charge once more!”

    “Beheeyem, another Zen Headbutt!”

    Both Pokemon flew at each other, meeting midway, head to head, fighting for supremacy of the struggle.

    “And while Zebstrika’s distracted,” Nigel went on, with a cunning smile, “Simisage, Solarbeam!”

    Jim’s eyes shot wide open. Nigel had made him play right into his hands!

    Simisage raised his hands skyward, the morning sun beaming down upon him, and a yellowish glow filled the bush-like tuft on his head. Then, cupping his paws to his side, he formed a golden ball of light between them.

    “Beheeyem, on my mark, Teleport, and Simisage, fire…Go!”

    “Jolt, get out of there!”

    It was no good. Beheeyem vanished, and Simisage fired, blasting Jolt straight-on, throwing the mighty Zebstrika clear across the field and onto his side, where he didn’t get back up.

    “Zebstrika is unable to battle,” said Leanne. “The winner of the Triple Battle is Nigel, with two remaining Pokemon.”

    “Wow…” said Jim, in a stunned voice, as he recalled Jolt. “You’ve really stepped up your game, Nigel. That was some brilliant strategizing!”

    “Wasn’t it, though?” asked Nigel, recalling Beheeyem, leaving Simisage out. “Although I must admit you weren’t half bad yourself. I can say with surety that I wasn’t wrong in choosing my rival.”

    Jim just smiled, and Leanne came over to his side, bringing June with her to place in his arms.

    “You did great, Jim,” she said. “I could hardly keep up with it!”

    “I only wish I’d lasted a little longer,” said June.

    “Nonsense, you did the best you could,” said Jim, stroking her smooth head.

    “Well, Stevens, as exhilarating as this has been,” said Nigel, approaching in turn, “I should be on my way. I will say this, though: don’t think you have to blaze through every town you come to. Take a little time, stop and smell the roses.”

    “Why, Mr. Richmond,” said Jim, cunningly, “are you trying to keep me from catching up with you?”

    “Not a bit of it!” said Nigel, in a similar tone, “but if you’ll take my advice, the Celestial Tower warrants a visit. There’s a lot of history behind it, and some interesting Pokemon to see, though perhaps not as you’d imagine.”

    Jim blinked in puzzlement, not quite sure what he was to make of this.

    “Now then, Stevens,” said Nigel, “if there’s nothing else. I’ll be off. I look forward to seeing how you’ve improved by the League.”

    “Back at you, Nigel,” said Jim.

    The two shook hands, and Nigel, shouldering the pack he had brought with him, strolled off toward the east, Simisage by his side.

    My White 2 Team

Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •