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    Default Jim: The Hero's Journey

    I'll be posting chapters here periodically. I'm already nearly done with Book 2 on deviantART, but since it's a Pokemon story, I figured it should go here as well. I know it starts off kinda sluggish, but bear with me. =)

    The story is my own take on the plot of Pokemon Black and White, with my character, Jim, taking the place of the game protagonist.


    Book 1
    Jim
    The Hero's Journey



    PROLOGUE



    Legend has it that, centuries ago, there existed a mighty Dragon Pokemon, wielded by the joint unity and cooperation of two brothers, who were known in their time as Heroes. Through their will, design, and vision, these three were responsible for shaping together the land known today as Unova…but like all good things, it was not destined to last. Eventually, the brothers began to argue about what was the best to pursue in life. The older brother sought truth in his life, while the younger strove for ideals.

    "Painful or relieving, a true hero must take the path of honesty, if he wishes to live the life of a true human being!" said the elder.

    "And I say it is best to only strive for that which will always make you happy, and leave pain and sorrow behind!" retorted the younger.

    It was a most bitter quarrel. Unable to watch the bickering of its masters, the great Dragon split into two, and each sided with one of the brothers. One was a Dragon of Fire known as Reshiram the Vast White, and chose to obey the elder brother, and the other, a Dragon of Thunder known as Zekrom the Deep Black, came to the aid of the younger brother. The two dragons battled each other to protect their masters' goals, but as they had once been one, their powers were too equally matched. Thus, the brothers were able to reconcile and decide that there was no one true path, and so they departed with their dragons, promising to spread their newfound philosophy to the rest of the world…

    However, years later, after the passing of the original heroes, their sons grew up not of the same opinion, and, with their power to command the two dragons passed down to them by their fathers, carried on the battle that had been left off, and the flames and lightning of Reshiram and Zekrom ravaged the region they had so painstakingly crafted…the trees reduced to cinders and ashes, the waters churning and frothing as if in a mighty hurricane,


    “Jim!”

    the winds roaring and hot with fire,

    “Jim!”

    the ground ravaged and struck by innumerable thunderbolts, the-

    "JIM!"

    Jim Stevens was brought out of his reading with a jolt. In the heat of the story, his voice had become more and more animated, thriving off of each syllable, feeling the very power in the description of the power of the dragons. Now, however, he had been brought back to reality by the voice of one of his best friends.

    Just like many a night, Jim had invited his closest friends, Cheren and Bianca, over to his house. On this particular night, Jim had unearthed an old book that had laid hidden away among some dusty momentos in his attic, probably left up there by his mother. The book was titled ‘Myths and Legends of Unova’, the elaborate gold title alone being enough to draw his attention. There were many such tales within it, but this one about the dragons was the most striking. The three had sat on the floor of Jim’s bedroom, therefore, as he read aloud from the dusty book.

    Cheren was the same age as him, 16, but was rather short for his age, with neat black hair and eyes, horn-rimmed glasses, and a rather pale, often stern or thoughtful face. He was one of those intellectual prodigies who grew up in modest conditions, a little stuffy at times and a stickler for practicality in all things, but quite courteous and honest.

    Bianca, one year junior to her friends, was the opposite: sunny-faced and with long blonde hair, tucked under a jaunty green beret. She was somewhat scatterbrained and forgetful, and known to be messy, but she was a very good-natured girl, sensitive and sweet.

    As for Jim himself, he was tall for his age, with messy brown hair which was usually tucked under a red baseball cap, his equally brown eyes shining with boyish enthusiasm behind a pair of reading glasses. He was the sort of boy that possessed a very expansive imagination. His mind carried him to far-away places, seeing exotic new Pokemon, braving a hundred dangers without a scratch, places that he could only dream about after spending most of his life in sleepy Nuvema Town.

    The three had been friends since infancy, and always did everything together, like a family, and all three shared the same dream of finally leaving Nuvema Town and setting out to see the rest of Unova. However, due to certain circumstances, neither of them had ever gone farther than Route 1 just to the north. In all fairness, Nuvema Town wasn’t bad. There was a sense of closeness between the three friends, their families, and Professor Juniper, who ran the local Pokemon laboratory. The worthy professor was something of an aunt figure towards the three, always glad to see them, always ready to show them her latest discoveries. Even then, Jim still didn’t know all the Pokemon of Unova, and it was one of his biggest ambitions to see them all.

    "Yes, Cheren?" Jim asked. “You had something to say?”

    "Yes," said Cheren, adjusting his glasses, a sign that a speech was imminent. "I just wanted to put a stop to this illogicality before it became rampant."

    "And what's so illogical about it?" Jim asked.

    "Everything! It makes no sense! I mean, honestly, an enormous land like Unova being shaped by a Dragon, just to be "destroyed" again by the two that split from it. How is Unova still standing, then? Where's the proof that such a creature existed?"

    "There is no proof," Jim replied, holding up the book to emphasize his words, "that's why it's called a legend."

    "Even so, all fables contain some truthful basis, and I have yet to see any in this fairy tale," continued Cheren, as if he hadn't noticed Jim's sarcastic reply. "Besides, I think that last part was starting to get to Bianca."

    He nodded to their female friend, who had covered her face with her beret and was quivering.

    "N-No it didn't!" she protested. "It's a g-great story! C-Come on, Jim, keep reading!"

    Jim smiled at her. He knew it was scaring her, but it also kept her interested. She loved to hear about these sorts of things, since her father, a good parent but strict at times, discouraged such fairy tales in his household.

    He put a hand on her shoulder.

    "Don't worry, Bianca. It's almost over, as long as no one else objects." He said this last statement rather loudly, looking at Cheren.

    Cheren just rolled his eyes and smirked. With that, Jim reopened his book and picked up from where he left off.

    As before, Reshiram and Zekrom were of equal power, and unable to conquer each other, but the consequence of their might and the furious commands of their new masters was overwhelming. Ashamed by the brutality of their actions, the two humans commanded their dragons to leave, take refuge where their might would cause no further harm to the land…and so they did. Reshiram and Zekrom, as they had done long ago, went their separate ways and vanished into obscurity…although, centuries later, there are those that still claim that the dragons of legend were not a mere fable, but truly exist, watching over the land that they had helped make and had come so near to destroying, awaiting the call of their next masters, the next true heroes of Unova…

    With that, Jim closed the book and looked at his friends. Bianca looked absolutely awed, but Cheren still looked indifferent.

    "'The next true heroes of Unova'?" Bianca asked. "Who do you think they are?"

    "Who knows?" Jim replied. "They'd have to be perfect: strong, brave, noble, possessing an understanding of both humanity and Pokemon. A rare breed, in my opinion."

    "An impossible breed, you mean," said Cheren. "Nobody's that perfect."

    "Oh really?" Jim asked, teasingly. "All these years, I was under the impression that you were perfect. Maybe you’re next in line to inherit Zekrom or Reshiram."

    "Oh, shut up. Don't you ever take anything seriously?"

    "Of course I do. Do you ever not take everything seriously?"

    Cheren was about to speak against that, but when he saw the good-natured grin on Jim's face, he couldn't help but smile as well.

    "We'll see," he said, simply.

    He held out his hand, a signal Jim knew perfectly well: their friendship handshake. This consisted of a high-five, a fist bump, and a thumbs-up, all done in quick succession, which during this moment, like many times before, was duly performed.

    "Bros forever, Jim?"

    "Bros forever." was his reply.

    Bianca smiled at their antics, then suddenly yawned.

    "Well, guys, I think I'm gonna head off to bed. Dad will blow a gasket if I'm not back before 11."

    "I'll take you home," Cheren offered. "I should be on my way as well. Good night, Jim."

    "Night, Jim!"

    "Good night, guys."

    He watched them walk out of his room, down the stairs, and out of the house. Then, as he too began to prepare for sleep, he looked out of his window at the clear night sky. He jumped. His glasses nearly fell from his face. He rubbed his eyes and peered out with greater intensity. For a split second, he thought he had seen something in the sky, something like a streak of fire, faster than a bullet…but perhaps it was just a trick of his imagination. This is what he told himself as he climbed into bed, took off his glasses, and fell asleep…
    Last edited by TPrower; 23rd September 2013 at 11:21 AM.

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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    (I know this and the next chapter parallel Ash and Pikachu in a way, but it was what was on my mind. ^^; )

    CHAPTER 1
    An Unexpected Gift



    The next morning, Jim awakened with a start, sitting up bolt-right in bed, dazed and confused. He had just been in the middle of a very peculiar dream…

    He dreamt that he had been on a hilltop, looking over a wide, vast and fertile land, but far beyond, its head hidden by a dark cloud, was an ominous castle. That was hardly the strangest, however, for he was sitting on the most extravagant steed he had ever seen. It looked like a dragon, but it was white all over, with a flowing mane of white hair or fur, its snout rounded, like a fox's or wolf's, its eyes a brilliant blue. It had wide, clawed, feathery wings stretching out at an unimaginable wingspan, and behind it, a thick tail that resembled an engine turbine. Every now and then, it flickered a fiery red-orange.

    The creature looked down at him and nodded. Jim raised a commanding arm, and from behind came the sound of clattering footsteps. His voice rang out loud and clear like a trumpet.

    "And now, for death or glory, CHARGE!"

    With an unearthly roar, his steed spread its wings and swooped into the air, spitting a stream of fire. And then…it ended.

    Jim was still wondering what it had been that had woken him up from such an outlandish dream. Upon searching about, he spotted the source.

    At his rather cluttered computer desk, there was a wrapped box. On it was a tag, on which was written "To: Jim, Cheren, and Bianca. From: Professor Juniper". A wide grin spread across his face. He was itching to open the box and see what was inside, but decided against it, seeing as it wasn't merely for him. Instead, he grabbed up his cordless phone and dialed Cheren's number.

    "Cheren? It's Jim…Yeah, I know it's early, but you and Bianca have to get over here! Professor Juniper left us something!…I don't know, I didn't want to open it before you guys got here…15 minutes? Perfect! See you guys then, bye!"

    Hanging up, he went to get ready. He quickly showered, got dressed, and tried to tame his hair, but it was nothing doing. He was simply born to have messy hair. With a smile, he reflected on all the times his mother had tried to keep his hair tidy, but had to give up in the end when his father intervened. His father understood; his hair had been just as messy, and they'd all have a good laugh about it…

    His father…Jim stopped even pretending to smooth his hair. He looked out the window, sadly. His father had left on a journey when Jim was 10, and had been gone ever since, promising to be back and to bring Jim with him the next time he set out…he had never returned.

    Though Jim retained an outwardly cheery personality, inside, he was still smarting from the thought that his father was still out there, if he was even still alive. It was his father’s ambiguous whereabouts that partly inspired Jim’s dream: to travel the world and see as many Pokemon as he could. Hopefully, somewhere along the way, he’d run across his dad.

    His thoughts were interrupted by his mother's voice from downstairs.

    "Jim! Bianca and Cheren are here!"

    "Thanks, Mom!" he called back. "They can come in!"

    He quickly threw on his hat and stood at his bed, waiting, his few moments of sorrow instantly masked. Bianca and Cheren came walking in, and their eyes fell on Professor Juniper's package.

    "Ooh! What do you think it is?" Bianca asked, eyes shining with curiosity.

    "Only one way to find out," said Cheren. "Let's open it, now that the addressees are assembled."

    They walked to the box, and Jim nodded to Bianca, who looked absolutely thrilled as she was given the honor of opening it. She slid the lid off, and inside was a block of foam. Sitting inside three indents in it were three metal balls, the size of a baseball, red on top and white on bottom, their colors separated by a button.

    "Poke Balls?" Bianca wondered.

    "Poke Balls…three of them…" Jim's face suddenly beamed like a lighthouse beacon. "Professor Juniper's starter Pokemon! She's giving each of us a starter Pokemon!"

    "Really??" Bianca gushed.

    "Most appreciative!" Cheren said, looking excited in spite of himself.

    Bianca was about to grab one, but her brainy friend kept her hand back.

    "Now hold on, Bianca…This is Jim's house, so I say we let him choose first."

    "Oh." Bianca's face fell for an instant, but then returned to its trademark cheeriness. "Ok! Go ahead, Jim!"

    Grinning from ear to ear, Jim peered in and looked from one to the other.

    They were all labeled with little cards from left to right: "Tepig: The Fire Pig Pokemon", "Oshawott: The Sea Otter Pokemon", and "Snivy: The Grass Snake Pokemon".

    Jim had seen them several times during his visits to the laboratory. He had watched them play, eat, and sleep, but Juniper had advised him not to interact with them, so as not to give them the false hope that he would choose one of them. Ever since seeing them for the first time, Jim had been fascinated by the one known as Snivy. Although it joined in the play of its fellow Pokemon, it showed a vast degree of confidence and coolness. It seemed almost dignified and unshakable, ready for anything, even adventure...

    With this in mind, Jim chose Snivy's ball. Bianca then chose Oshawott, leaving Cheren to pick Tepig. They all opened their Poke Balls, one after another.

    Tepig appeared at Cheren's feet: a chubby orange and black piglet with a small red ball at the end of its curly tail.

    "Tepig!" it said, then seemed to sneeze a spray of embers from its flat nose. Everyone jumped, but luckily, the embers didn't start a fire on the carpet. Cheren picked Tepig up in his hands.

    "I think you and I will get along just fine," he said with a smile. Tepig nuzzled him happily.

    Next came Oshawott from Bianca's ball. This one was a little blue and white otter with little black eyes, a mouth with tiny fangs, and a cream-colored shell on its stomach.

    "Oshawott!" it chirped, looking cutely up at Bianca.

    "AWWW! Aren't you ADORABLE?" Bianca gushed, scooping up Oshawott and hugging it so tightly, you would have thought it had been a plush toy and not a living breathing Pokemon. "Looks like I picked the right one, you little cutie!" Oshawott snuggled up under its new owner's chin.

    Then it came to Jim. Upon being released, there stood Snivy, a slender green snake-like Pokemon, though its tiny arms and legs made it seem more like a lizard. Behind its long pointed snout, it looked up at Jim with large red eyes, its tail ending with an appendage like a three-pointed leaf. It seemed to be surveying him, hands on its little hips.

    "Snivy!" it said, its voice feminine compared to Tepig's and Oshawott's. Jim picked the Snivy up, looking quite happy.

    "Hey there, girl. Looks like you and me are going to be partners," he said, grinning broadly.

    The Snivy didn't respond, but just turned her head away, as if aloof. Jim didn't mind. He knew this was part and parcel of a Snivy's cool-headed, slightly arrogant personality.

    "This is so awesome of Professor Juniper!" Bianca said, still cradling her new Oshawott.

    "But you know," said Cheren, his enthusiasm a little depleted, "she's done so much for us. What have we ever done for her to show our appreciation?"

    "Good point," Jim replied, a little disconcerted.

    It was true; Professor Juniper had done so much for them over the years, and it seemed as if they had never found a way to repay her kindness…

    Suddenly, it hit him.

    "Hey…Maybe we can show how much we appreciate our new Pokemon by letting them battle!"

    "Hey, yeah! Great idea!" Bianca said.

    "I concur," agreed Cheren. "A perfect opportunity to get acquainted with our new Pokemon partners!"

    "Let's get going, then!"

    With that, they pocketed their Poke Balls, gathered up their Pokemon, and headed downstairs and out of the house.

    In a short time, Jim, Cheren, and Bianca were assembled outside Professor Juniper's lab with their Pokemon. Tepig and Oshawott looked glad to be out in the sun. Snivy, however, had her eyes closed, and had stretched her leafy tail out, the leaf part flat out.

    Jim wondered what she was doing, but didn't have time to think long, as the door of the lab opened, and there stood Professor Aurea Juniper herself. She was a young, energetic woman with sparkling teal eyes, wavy brown hair, and wore a tank top and short green skirt under her lab coat.

    "Hey, kids! What's going on?" she asked.

    "Good morning, Professor Juniper!" chirped Bianca. "We were getting ready to thank you for the gift!"

    “Oh, it was nothing, really,” said Juniper. “I figured it was high time you kids had your own Pokemon.”

    “We were going to let them battle, if you’re interested in watching,” said Cheren.

    "Splendid idea!" said Juniper. "I'm already excited to see what happens!"

    So the three set their Pokemon down on the grass. Tepig and Oshawott looked quite excited and eager, but Snivy still looked aloof , her eyes half-closed as if in boredom or disdain.

    "So, who's up first?" Jim asked.

    "Me! Me! Me!" Bianca hopped up and down, her hand in the air. "I want to fight first! Please? Please?"

    "Ok, ok, settle down, Bianca," said Jim, who couldn't help laughing, "it'll be June versus Oshawott first."

    At this, Cheren, Bianca, AND Juniper looked confused.

    "June? Who's June?" Cheren asked.

    "Huh? Oh! It's what I decided to call my Snivy. I was mulling it over as we were walking over, and I decided to name her after the professor, seeing as how she gave us our Pokemon."

    Juniper beamed.

    "Aw, Jim, that's so sweet of you. I'm so flattered."

    June, however, didn't look happy about being newly christened. If anything, her eyes became narrower, as if disliking their conversation.

    "All right then, Bianca, hope you're ready."

    "You bet I am! Oshawott, get ready for battle!"

    Oshawott stepped forward and brandished the seashell on its stomach, as if it were a weapon.

    "Huh? What's it doing with its shell?" she asked.

    "That shell's called a scalchop," Juniper explained, "Oshawott and its evolved forms use them as shields or weapons."

    "Neat! Ok, Oshawott! Let's do this!"

    "Prepare for battle, June!" Jim said, pointing forward.

    However, to everyone's bewilderment, June didn't move. She just continued to look coldly at Jim from under her half-closed eyes.

    "Um…Tackle?" Jim tried, hoping to prompt her into beginning, but still June didn't move. "Leer? Vine Whip? Anything?"

    "Oh dear…" Juniper said, fretfully.

    "Come on, June, what's the matter?" Jim asked, kneeling beside her. "Don't you want to battle?"

    "Not for you…" she replied coldly.

    Now, what one should understand is, despite the fact that, to the normal human ear, this statement would have come out merely as a string of June saying her name and parts of it with differing emphasis, like all Pokemon did, to Jim's ears, he could hear it, word for word, perfectly and articulately, in the voice of a young, even-tempered female.

    "What do you mean 'not for me'?" he asked, stupefied.

    At this, Cheren and Bianca looked at each other in astonishment, obviously not anticipating this level of understanding to something a Pokemon had said. Juniper herself looked taken aback, though it was more of a shocked curiosity than the fear that Jim might have momentarily lost his mind.

    "Are you saying you don't like me?"

    "I don't," she said, "What right do you have to tell me what to do? What makes you any different from the other foolhardy, self-absorbed trainers who thought themselves worthy of being my trainer and master?"

    "What are you saying, that the Pokemon chooses the trainer? Isn't it the other way around?"

    "Hmph…you WOULD think that. Humans have become so unbearably narrow-minded…"

    "'Narrow-minded'??" Jim looked quite angry now. "Now, you listen to me: I chose you as my Pokemon-"

    "But I do not approve of that choice…" June interrupted.

    "But look at Tepig and Oshawott! They're happy with their trainers!"

    Tepig and Oshawott, upon hearing their names, blushed and looked away, as if afraid they'd be dragged into the argument.

    "I am their friend, and I respect them for their choices," June said, still glaring at Jim, "but that does not decide whom I wish to be with."

    "Look!" Jim snapped, "I don't care if you approve or disapprove! I chose you, and as my Pokemon-"

    *SMACK!*

    Jim reeled, stunned, unable to comprehend what just happened. Cheren and Bianca gasped, and Juniper clapped a hand to her mouth. June, her red eyes full of outrage at Jim's words, had slapped him hard across the face with the leaf on her tail, knocking his hat off. She gave Jim one last look of contempt, and then flitted off out toward the town border, into Route 1.

    For a while, the four just stood there, staring after her. Then, Jim got to his feet, his expression unreadable. Professor Juniper came up to him and put a hand on his shoulder.

    "Jim…I'm so sorry…I should have warned you, but I didn't think this would happen…"

    "How do you mean?" Jim asked, in such a calm voice that Cheren and Bianca looked taken aback.

    "That Snivy's been with me a long time…no Trainer's ever won her approval, so mostly, it's been other Snivy, or Tepig or Oshawott that were chosen. She's very independent, and won't just let any trainer choose her."

    "So I gathered…" Jim replied, again quite calm.

    Then, as he put his hat back on his head, he said, "I'll be right back." And to everyone's bewilderment, he began directing his steps towards Route 1.

    "W-Where are you going?" Bianca asked, tentatively.

    "What does it look like? I'm going after her."

    "What??" Cheren shouted, "but Jim, she rejected you! She's not worth chasing!"

    Jim wheeled on him, a look of determined anger on his face now.

    "I chose her, Cheren…I saw her when I was visiting Professor Juniper all those times. As soon as I laid eyes on her, I knew that she and I were meant for each other, and I'm not about to let her misinterpretation of who I am stand in the way of that! You can all stay here, but I'm not coming back until I've found her!"

    He looked from one to the other. Everybody looked like they wished he wouldn't go, but didn't look like they were about to stop him, so he turned around again and headed off toward Route 1.

    With an ominous rumble, dark clouds began to form overhead, blotting out the sun in a sea of grayish black. Tepig and Oshawott clung to their owners' legs, looking up at the cloud bank with apprehensive faces.

    "Professor?" Bianca asked, looking nervous. Juniper sighed.

    "He has to do what he has to do…There's more in him than possibly he himself knows…If anyone can tame that Snivy, I know it'll be him…"

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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    (I know this also sounds similar to the whole Ash and Pikachu thing, but just bear with it, k? =))

    CHAPTER 2
    Jim and June



    It took a while for June to find a place to finally stop running and cool off, but at last, she found a small pool at the base of a tree. She stooped down over it, cupped her little paws together, and splashed a few handfuls of water into her face, before taking a drink from it. Finally, she sat up looked back toward the way she had come, and her eyes narrowed again.

    "The nerve of that boy, thinking he can decide what I want, as if I had no will of my own. Tepig and Oshawott may be happy with their choices, but I'm not the kind to let just any trainer who can throw a Poke Ball claim me as their own. And he had the gall to nickname me! Hmph!"

    She slapped her leaf-tipped tail against the water of the pool, splashing the ground around her. Her anger was rising into a kind of hysteria, as if she had been wanting to expel this from her chest for years.

    "Trainers have come and Trainers have gone, and none of them suited me! They were all just silly, ignorant boys who wouldn’t know a thing about proper Pokemon training! What makes him think he's any different from all the others?!"

    Her voice rang loud and shrill through the quiet forest air. With a frightened "yip, yip!" a Lillipup, brown, furry, and puppy-like, darted from a bush on her right to a bush on her left; a Patrat, resembling a chipmunk with large, alert red eyes, flitted between trees, and with a chorus of cooing and trilling, a flock of pigeon-like Pidove went flying overhead from their trees, but she couldn’t have cared less…

    Once she had calmed down from her outburst, she said, reflectively,

    "On the other hand, he did say he named me in honor of the professor. He does seem to hold her in high regard, and I’ve heard her talk about ‘Jim Stevens’ on occasion in the lab. Not to mention, he had an honest face, and seemed kind, thoughtful...”

    She sighed to herself.

    “I don't know. I just don't know. My mind is telling me one thing, and my heart is telling me another."

    She stared at the rippling water, and for an instant, she could swear she saw Jim's face, smiling benevolently at her, and his words seemed to ring in her ears.

    "Hey there, girl…looks like you and me are going to be partners…partners…partners…"

    "Partners…" she repeated to herself. "Not just ‘you’re my new Pokemon’. The first thing he said was...we would be partners...”

    She gazed sadly at the pool, a glimmer of regret in her ruby-red eyes.

    “Perhaps I was a bit harsh on him. After all, I hardly even gave him a chance. Maybe I should go back…"

    At that moment, however, there came a loud, gurgling rumble from her slender stomach.

    "After I find something to eat, first…"

    She looked around her, and at last spotted a tree with branches loaded with red, juicy apples. Crossing over to it, she stopped underneath the nearest branch, and a pair of long, dark-green vines rose snake-like from behind the yellow lapel-like protrusions on her shoulders, snapping at the stem of a apple like a whip and sending it plummeting. She caught it in her hands, and was about to munch on it, when a roll of thunder turned her attention to the sky. She saw the bank of clouds overhead and could tell a storm was approaching, so she decided to use her vines to carry her up to the same branch, providing her with a wide canopy of leaves to shield her from the rain. Sure enough, a light downpour began to fall, and the air was filled with the sound of many raindrops.

    As she sat, chewing on her apple, she still pondered whether she should keep going, or go back and find Jim. On the one hand, she was free to make her own choices, without anyone to tell her what to do. On the other hand, Jim had seemed somehow different from other trainers she had seen. Come to think of it, she had never even considered it until now, but he had seemed to really understand her. Whenever she made her views clear to all of the other rejected trainers, they had all looked at her as if she was speaking an entirely different language. Jim, however, had completely understood what she said, and had responded appropriately to what she had put forth. He understood her…was this some strange sign? Was this clear evidence that he was far different from all the others that had come before him?…It was all food for thought.

    Her thoughts were interrupted, however, by the feeling that she was being watched. Looking to one side, she saw a trio of rather surly-looking Tranquill, the evolved form of Pidove, glaring at her with their yellow eyes. She didn't blink, but gazed steadily back at them.

    "Can I help you?" she asked, coldly.

    "Yes, you can," said the middle Tranquill, "you can help us by getting your scaly hide off of our tree."

    "Oh, is this your tree? There are so many on this route, though. I'm sure one can't possibly mean that much to you, especially for a bunch of grown up birds like you…"

    "I don't like your tone," the Tranquill replied.

    "And I don't like yours," June replied, still munching her apple.

    The action, she noticed, seemed to make the Tranquill even testier.

    "What? Do you own the apples too?"

    "Around here, you ASK before you take someone else's apples," he replied.

    "Hmph…fine. Keep your rotten apples."

    Her tone was very flinty, and her eyes glinted with indignation. Suddenly, tossing the core aside, she leapt up, retracted her vines again, and sent them whipping out at the Tranquill. They had to duck to avoid them, and when they passed, just as they brought their heads back up, a cascade of apples, the stems of which June had really been aiming for, came raining down on them almost as hard and plentiful as the actual rain outside the tree. They squawked and shouted with pain and surprise. June gave a small grin and swung gracefully down to the base of the tree.

    "Bon appetite," she said, sarcastically, and began to speed off, keeping herself as much as she could in the protective shadows of the trees lining the route.

    As she sped along, however, she heard a loud, rage-filled squawk that seemed to reverberate around the entire route, just as her yelling had did only moments before. Then, there was silence but for the rain again. And then…another noise reached her ears, a noise that made a chill run down her spine…the sound of many, many wings flapping, and more loud bird cries. She turned to look back, and her eyes widened with alarm to see a thick flock of Tranquill heading her way, and at their head was a male Unfezant, the final evolved form of Pidove, its upper face made up with a red mask-like adornment with two long wattles trailing behind it. June realized at once that she was in deep trouble.

    She ran faster, as fast as her tiny feet could carry her, dodging tree trunks, bushes, and fallen branches, the immense cloud of Tranquill and their Unfezant leader coming ever closer. Suddenly, she tripped over a stone in the path, fell, and landed in a puddle of mud, splashing her pale underside from nose to tail in sloppy brown muck. By the time she got back to her feet, the rain was falling even harder, and the flock was even closer now, so close that she could see the cold, sun-yellow eyes of the Unfezant heading the procession. The whole assembly flapped above her, glaring down, possibly waiting for their leader to make the first move.

    Sure enough, he nodded to his group, and several swarmed down on June. Before she could fight back, they were upon her, scratching and pecking at her with their talons and beaks. Only after their leader let out a sharp trill did they back off. June was scratched and bleeding in several places from the furious onslaught, but even more Tranquill were crowding around, ready for an even bigger attack.

    June wanted to try and fight back, whip them away with her vines, but felt sure that that would simply make things worse and make them attack her in even bigger numbers. Now, more than ever, she regretted her rash actions and harsh attitude towards Jim…if she ever saw him again, she would tell him how sorry she was, how stuck-up she had been, how she was too blind from her own self-importance to even give him a chance…

    "Jim…" she said quietly, almost in a whimper, "if you can hear me…I'm so sorry…"

    "STOP!"

    June's eyes snapped open. She knew that voice! She looked up, and sure enough, there was Jim standing right in front of her, drenched from the rain, facing the angry flock.

    "Leave her alone!" he said, loudly over the downpour. "What's she done to you?"

    "She's insulted my clansmen," replied the Unfezant in a deep voice, "She must pay the price for displaying such an attitude in our territory!"

    "Well, if you have a bone to pick, pick it with me!"

    June gasped.

    "Jim! What are you-?"

    "June."

    It wasn't a reprimand or an order, but June still fell silent, despite his calm tone.

    "I know you don't think much of me, but I'm not about to let anyone harm you."

    "Jim…"

    June's eyes glistened with tears. Jim turned to face the Unfezant and his entourage again, a cold anger burning in his eyes.

    "Do you hear me, Tranquill? And you, Unfezant! I am James Stevens of Nuvema Town, and I will not allow you to do what you want with this Snivy! I defy you, and all who try to harm my friends! COME AND GET ME, IF YOU DARE!"

    With a loud battle cry, Unfezant swooped down, his Tranquill following behind. In the blinding rain, they were an army of blurs coming down like bullets towards him, but he didn't move an inch. He stood there, arms held out, glaring defiantly at the horde streaming down to attack, June on the ground behind him, staring up at him in astonishment and wonder.

    And then…it happened all at once.

    Through the rain-choked air came a loud, spine-tingling, unearthly sound, like the roar of an ancient beast. Then there was a bright flash, but it wasn't like lightning, merely illuminating the sky; it was something brighter, something fiercer. Then, through a gap in the clouds, something like a great pillar of red flames came shooting down, striking the ground right in between Jim and the flock. There was an almighty explosion, throwing everyone back. Everything was glowing red and orange. The rain hissed against the searing flames, unable to put it out.

    And then, quite as suddenly as it had come…it vanished. The rain stopped, the clouds parted, the sun shone down once more.

    Jim had been thrown back against a tree, and he presently got back to his feet, still dripping wet, and slightly battered, but aside from that, and a soreness in his back from hitting the tree, he was all right.

    Looking around he saw that the Unfezant and his Tranquill had gone, scared off by the extraordinary display of pyrotechnics. An enormous burned area lay directly within the path, like a crater, but he noticed that none of the trees had even been singed. There was no sign of June.

    "Guess she's gone her way,” he said, with a sight. “Then I’d better just go mine."

    He turned around…and there she was.

    Standing in the middle of the path, drenched, scratched, and bruised, was June, looking straight at him. Her eyes never blinked as she stared at him.

    "June?" Jim asked, amazed.

    "Jim…" she began.

    Her voice was choked, as if from weakness or tears.

    "Jim…you came for me…"

    "Of course I did. I couldn't leave you all by yourself, even if you did hate me…"

    "I don't hate you, Jim. I was wrong…I was blinded by my own selfishness…I couldn't see the real you…the Trainer I had been searching for all this time, one who can know me, can understand me…"

    She blinked, and her eyes brimmed with tears.

    "Jim…can you ever forgive me?"

    Jim stared at her, astounded by this reversal of behavior, this humbling attitude, the tears in her eyes…A small smile crossed his face, and he said, in a voice equally choked,

    "Of course I can…partner."

    She gave a small gasp, then, the tears falling faster, she sprinted towards him, he for his part opening his arms to her. She leaped up and threw her little arms around his neck, and he embraced her small body, both cheek-to-cheek, their tears falling just like the rain that had been before.

    "I just knew…" she whispered, "I knew, deep down…you were the one…"

    She looked up into his face, smiling through her tears.

    "And I always knew you were the right one for me,” he said, smiling back down at her.

    Suddenly, she leaned up, and gave him a tender lick on his cheek with her tongue, before snuggling herself contentedly under his chin. His smile even warmer, he began making his way back down the route, back towards Nuvema Town, back to where his friends were waiting and worrying for him...
    Last edited by TPrower; 30th July 2013 at 08:14 AM.

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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    Man that intrigued me..such a nice story you have posted out there..

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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 3
    Dragons and Pokedexes


    As soon as Jim came within the familiar borders of Nuvema Town, he heard shouting and cries up ahead. Cheren, Bianca, and Professor Juniper were hurrying towards him, looks of excited relief on their faces. Before he could do anything, he was enveloped in a bone-crushing hug from Bianca.

    "Jim! You're back! We were so worried! When we saw that explosion, we were sure something had happened to you!"

    "You've found your Snivy!" Cheren said, "Excellent! Never should have doubted you."

    June was still cradled in Jim's arms. She looked very tired, but seemed to be resting. Professor Juniper gave a sigh of relief, hand over her heart.

    "Jim, I honestly don't know what to say. She looks completely at ease with you. What happened?"

    So Jim told the three of them about finding June being threatened by the Tranquill and their Unfeazant captain, how he had stood between them in the hopes of giving June the chance to run. He had just finished telling them about the strange pillar of fire that had saved them from the angry birds when Professor Juniper gasped, her hand covering her mouth.

    "What's the matter?" Jim asked.

    "Can this be true…?" she asked, more to herself. "But how? …Then again…"

    "Professor?" Jim asked, but Juniper shook her head.

    "It's nothing, Jim. It's only a wild guess, after all, but it may be close. Come with me, you three."

    Giving each other quizzical looks, the three friends followed the professor inside her Pokemon laboratory. Jim had always liked the inside of her lab. It was clean and well-lit, its windows opened out to a beautiful garden, and there was a small glassed area where Snivy, Tepig, and Oshawott could play.

    Professor Juniper sat down behind her desk, and the three settled themselves into chairs reserved for guests. She looked oddly serious and contemplative, a look Jim wasn't used to, having grown up always seeing her with a warm, cheery smile.

    "What's this about, Professor?" Jim asked, tentatively.

    "Well," she began slowly, "what you've described, Jim, points to a theory I have. Just a theory, mind you, but a probable one. From what you've described, you and June were both saved from those unruly Tranquill by Reshiram."

    Even before she had said it, Jim had a feeling that her answer was going to carry some profound weight to it. Bianca gasped, and Cheren looked surprised.

    "R-Reshiram?" he spluttered. "You mean, the dragon in that old legend?"

    "Yes, Cheren. I see you know the story well."

    "Actually, Jim read it to us last night," Bianca quipped.

    Jim nodded rather hesitantly.

    "Well, even if the story itself isn't entirely believable,” said Juniper, “the two dragons, Reshiram and Zekrom, do indeed exist, and I believe the former had come to Jim's aid…"

    There was a long silence, in which nothing could be heard but the steady ticking of the clock on the wall. Then, Cheren spoke up once again.

    "Professor, if I may."

    "Certainly, Cheren. What is it?"

    "Well, supposing it was true, that Reshiram and Zekrom do exist, why would Reshiram have come to Jim's aid in the forest? What are the odds that the legendary White Dragon suddenly appeared in the skies above Route 1 and happened to see him and June being menaced by Tranquill?"

    Jim couldn't argue there. Why would such a majestic, worldly creature like Reshiram bother to help out a teenager being attacked by a few Tranquill? Juniper, however, seemed to have her answer ready.

    "Well, Cheren, I believe that Pokemon have a very innate sense for emotions. They can sense happiness, anger, sadness, or fear. I have the feeling that Reshiram could sense the kindness and devotion in Jim's heart, out of protection for June, and thus found itself willing to come to his aid."

    "But, Professor," Jim interjected, "there must be loads of people with that amount of kindness in them. What made me stand out?"

    "Of that, I'm not particularly sure," Juniper said, but Jim could swear she gave him the very merest of shrewd expressions.

    Jim's mind was buzzing. None of this made sense. The legendary White Dragon, the guardian of the elder brother of legend, had decided to save him from attack, simply because he could sense the kindness within him? Jim wasn't one to brag, but everyone he knew had often said he had always been a good-natured, helpful, and generous boy. But how was that proof that he was worthy of notice by the great Reshiram? Why had Reshiram even been near Nuvema Town? Had it been waiting for this sort of thing to happen? Had it known?…but then, why? These questions and several more kept spinning in Jim's brain until his head ached.

    He was jerked out of his thoughts when Bianca spoke for the first time since they had sat down.

    "But, Professor, if Reshiram did save Jim, after he had come to save June, what does that mean?"

    "What I think it means, Bianca, is that it's time the three of you got to see the rest of Unova."

    The three friends looked at each other in mute astonishment.

    "I believe this little fiasco is a way of telling you that, in order to understand the truth of what happened today, you three must go out and journey through Unova, like all Pokemon Trainers. I think this is fate's way of saying you three have waited long enough."

    "You mean…take the Pokemon League challenge?" Cheren asked, looking more excited than Jim had ever seen him look before.

    "Good call, Cheren," Juniper replied with a smile, "I think that's an excellent way to go about your journey: take the Gym Leader challenge."

    "Gym Leader challenge?" Bianca asked, looking confused.

    "Unova has eight Gym Leaders," Cheren explained, still breathless. "They're supposed to be really skilled, and if you defeat them in battle, you earn a Gym Badge. Get all eight, and you qualify to compete in the Pokemon League!"

    "Wow!" Bianca's eyes glimmered at the thought of that.

    "But there's more to Unova than just the Gym challenges," Jim put in, now equally excited. "Castelia City has tons to see and do, and then there's Nimbasa City! It's got an amusement park, sports stadiums, and a Musical theater!"

    Bianca looked absolutely thrilled with everything she was being told. Being sheltered by her rather protective father, she had never heard much about what lay beyond Nuvema Town.

    "So now the traveling bug's gotten a grip on all of you?" Juniper asked, laughing.

    Bianca gave a little jump and brushed at her sweater, as if she were trying to get rid of an elusive insect on it.

    "Well, I'll be here to support you every step of the way," the professor went on, "starting with these."

    She reached under her desk and pulled out a small briefcase. She flicked it open, and inside were three sleek-looking devices that Jim could have sworn were either cell phones or MP3 players. However, he saw that they all bore a Poke Ball insignia on them.

    "Pokedexes! Handheld encyclopedias with knowledge of all Pokemon in Unova. Go on, take one!"

    So they each picked one up and looked them over. With June slumbering peacefully in his lap, Jim decided to try it out on her first. He aimed the back of it to her, and flicked it open. The screen inside the back part of it turned on, showing a picture of a Snivy. A computerized voice spoke from within the Pokedex itself.

    "Snivy, the Grass Snake Pokemon. Very calm and intelligent, it photosynthesizes by catching sunlight in the leaf on its tail. It uses its vines more dexterously than its hands."

    "Petty slick…" Jim mused, intrigued.

    He could see Cheren and Bianca performing the same act on their own Pokemon.

    "Tepig, the Fire Pig Pokemon. It shoots embers from its nostrils when in perfect health, but smoke if it is feeling ill. It likes to roast berries before eating them."

    "Oshawott, the Sea Otter Pokemon. It uses the scalchop on its stomach as both a weapon and a shield. It also uses it to break open hard berries."

    "These are so cool!" Bianca gushed.

    "Most informative," Cheren said, contemplatively.

    "Glad you like them!" Juniper said, thrilled at how well they like their new Pokedexes. "You'll also need these."

    She pulled out a cardboard box labeled "Empty". Inside were many more Poke Balls.

    "These are empty ones for catching Pokemon. You'll be able to buy more at any local shop. Under normal circumstances, a trainer can only carry six Pokemon at a time, and the rest are sent into storage, based on who you receive your Pokedex from."

    So each of them reached in and pulled out five Poke Balls each.

    "Thanks a bunch, Professor," Jim said. "If there's any way we can-"

    "Not at all, Jim," said Juniper, laying a motherly hand on his. "You, Cheren, and Bianca going out to become Pokemon Trainers is more than enough reward."

    Jim smiled at this.

    "But first thing's first."

    She picked up June from Jim's lap and held her up.

    "June needs to be fully healed. Can you hand me her Poke Ball?"

    Almost automatically, he handed it over, and she aimed the button towards her.

    "Return, June."

    A red beam of light shot out and struck June, and in a matter of seconds, she too had turned into red light and vanished within the Poke Ball. Juniper then placed the ball on a machine nearby, almost resembling a computer. She pressed a button, and the Poke Ball was bathed with golden light. The three friends watched, intrigued, as the light show continued. Then, with a beep, the light vanished, and Juniper handed her Poke Ball back to Jim.

    "There you are. She's as good as new."

    Although Jim never doubted the professor for a moment, he had to see it for himself. He clicked the button, and the Poke Ball opened, and there, settled on his lap once again, was June, completely bruise-free, her eyes alight with energy. Overcome with joy, he scooped her up into his arms once again, where she nuzzled against his cheek. He knew she had said that she didn't need anything specific in return, but secretly, in his mind, Jim swore that somehow, someway, he would repay Professor Juniper for every bit of kindness she had shown him…

    "Say, Jim!" Bianca said, jolting Jim out of his silence. "Now that June's listening to you now, do you think we could have our battles?"

    "Oh yeah! I'd almost forgotten!" Jim said. "You still wanna watch, Professor?"

    "Oh, of course! I'd love to see how you all perform with your new partners!"

    "Then we've no time to waste," Cheren said.

    With that, they gathered up their Pokemon and headed out of the laboratory, back into welcoming sunshine. To Jim, it felt like a sign, a sign of good fortune and a new beginning…

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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 4
    A Mother’s Love


    In a matter of moments, Jim and Bianca were standing far apart from each other, June and Oshawott between them. While June still looked more reserved, there was also a gleam in her red eyes that told Jim she was now ready to fight. Professor Juniper stood apart of them in the center, Cheren at her side. She raised her arm.

    "Let the first match…begin!"

    "Oshawott, Tackle!" commanded Bianca.

    Oshawott crouched and took off at a sprinting run towards June.

    "June, use Leer!" Jim ordered.

    June closed her eyes, then opened them again almost instantly, giving Oshawott a deadly look in her red eyes, which seemed to glow even redder. Oshawott stopped in his tracks, terror etched on his furry face.

    "Now use your own Tackle!"

    Now it was June's turn to sprint at Oshawott, and, this time, the attack connected. June rammed headfirst into the terrified Oshawott, sending him toppling onto the grass. He shakily got back to his feet.

    "Hang in there, Oshawott! Use Razor Shell!"

    Oshawott whipped the scalchop off his stomach, and, to everyone's wonder, it began to glow a crystal blue, and a curved blade that seemed as if it were made of solid water materialized from its wide end. Bianca squealed.

    "Oh my gosh, that looks so cool!!"

    Oshawott lunged at June, and this time, his attempt was successful. He slashed at June and hit her with the blunt side of the blade, sending her rolling. Oshawott landed back on his feet, looking confident. June was back on her feet in no time, but she was smiling just as confidently as Oshawott was.

    "So that's how you're gonna play, huh?" Jim asked, grinning. "Ok then. June, use Vine Whip!"

    Two vines extended from the yellow lapel-like protrusions on her shoulders and lunged at Oshawott like striking snakes.

    "Quick, Oshawott! Use Water Gun on them!"

    Oshawott sent a jet of geyser-like water out of his mouth, but the two vines merely swerved around it and continued on their course. One knocked the scalchop from his paw and sent it high into the air, and the other struck him hard across the face, causing him to stagger. Rubbing his stinging cheek with one paw, he looked frantically for his scalchop. He didn't seem to notice that it was falling straight toward him.

    "Oshawott! Look out!"

    Too late, for the little shell clocked him on the head, dizzying him and sending him into another stagger.

    "Ok, June, let's finish this up! Tackle!"

    Once again, June rushed at Oshawott and rammed into him, knocking him onto his back. His eyes rolled dizzily, but he didn't get back up.

    "Oshawott, no!" fretted Bianca.

    "Oshawott is unable to battle! June is the winner!" declared the professor.

    June put her paws to her hips and smiled. Bianca sighed and scooped up Oshawott.

    "You did well, Oshawott," she said soothingly.

    He nestled under her chin again as she hugged him. Cheren and Tepig then stepped forward to take Bianca's place. Tepig put on his toughest look and snorted flames from his nostrils. June didn't bat an eyelid.

    "Begin!" Juniper said again.

    "All right, June, go in for Tackle!"

    "Tepig, fight Tackle with Tackle!"

    Both Pokemon went sprinting at each other, colliding at the skull, which knocked them both away. June regained herself almost at once, but Tepig was not as graceful.

    "Use Ember!' Cheren commanded.

    Tepig breathed in and sent a spray of flames from his nostrils straight for June.

    "Dodge it, June, and use Vine Whip!"

    June leaped high into the air, the flames just missing her tail, and once again, her vines whipped out and struck.

    "Brace yourself, Tepig! You can take it!"

    Tepig closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. The vines whipped across his back, but he stood his ground.

    "Use Ember again!"

    Once again, Tepig sent a spray of flames at June, who dodged again, but the flames managed to touch the tip of her tail, setting the leaf aflame. With a horrified yelp, she began whipping it against the ground, desperately trying to put it out.

    "June!" Jim cried. "Put it out, quick!"

    Cheren grinned.

    "Now we've got you! Tepig, one more Tackle!"

    Tepig charged straight for June. Jim gritted his teeth in frustration. June, however, was not to be taken by surprise so easily. Tepig tackled into her, but as he did so, she whipped her singed tail right at him, slapping him across the face. Both Pokemon went sprawling, not moving at first.

    "June!"

    "Tepig!"

    Then, slowly, both tried to stand up June shook as she got to her tiny feet, and Tepig's trotters were quivering as he tried to keep steady. Then, simultaneously, both fell onto their faces, too weak to stand up. Jim and Cheren were speechless. Bianca had been gripping her beret in both hands, and was now wringing it in anxiety.

    "Since both June and Tepig fainted at the same time, this match is a draw!" Juniper said.

    Both boys went to pick up their Pokemon.

    "You did great, June," Jim said. "I'm proud of you."

    June rested her head on Jim's shoulder.

    "You too, Tepig. You deserve a good rest."

    Tepig gave a tired smile as Cheren returned him to his Poke Ball. Juniper clapped her hands.

    "Great job, kids! That wasn't bad at all, for your first battles! I think you're going to do just fine out there."

    "Thanks, Professor," said Jim.

    And then, quite suddenly, a horrible thought struck him, one that hadn’t come to him until just now…

    His mother.

    How was she going to handle this news? His dad had gone off on a journey and had never come back. He had a feeling she wouldn't be so forthcoming to the idea of him following his father's example…

    His anxiety must've showed on his face, because Juniper laid a hand on his shoulder.

    "What's wrong, Jim?"

    "My mom…I don't know how she'd handle it. I mean, Dad…"

    Juniper nodded sadly.

    "I know…you think she'll worry about you disappearing like him. But look at it this way. You're just going through Unova, not off to another region. You'll be closer to home."

    At this, Jim seemed to cheer up.

    "Yeah, that's true. Thanks, Professor. Guess I'd better go home to tell her. I'll see you guys later."

    Cheren and Bianca nodded, and Jim turned his steps back towards his own house.

    ***


    Despite Juniper's words of comfort, Jim still felt awkward and nervous about the whole business. He'd never left Nuvema Town before, and even he began to feel a little anxious about venturing farther than he had ever gone before, beyond the safety of his home, the shelter of where he had been born and bred…But if he was ever to see the rest of Unova and take the Pokemon League challenge, he had to be firm in his decisions. It seemed like the longest distance he had ever walked, despite the fact that his house was close to the lab.

    The door opened quietly as he entered, and his feet seemed to make no noise on the floor. June was looking about with intrigue and curiosity.

    "Mom?" Jim called. "Are you home?"

    "In the living room, dear," came his mother's voice from his right.

    He headed into the living room and found her sitting quietly on the couch. Her expression was unreadable, and yet he couldn't help but feel as if there was a moistness to her eyes. He sat down beside her, and her eyes met June's, who looked at her with interest.

    "Oh…what a darling Snivy…" she said, stroking June's head, making her smile.

    "That's June," Jim explained, unable to keep himself from smiling either, but he knew that it was about to get serious. "Mom, there's something I need to tell you-"

    "You're going to explore Unova?" she asked, frankly.

    Jim could hardly believe his ears.

    "M-Mom? How did you-”

    “I had the feeling. As soon as I found out Professor Juniper had sent you, Cheren, and Bianca Poke Balls, I just knew this was going to come about.”

    “But, I figured...Dad-”

    "I know, honey, I know…"

    She laid her hand on his, and this time, he could definitely see tears in her eyes.

    "I miss your father, and of course I'd never want you to end up lost like him…but I also can't stop you. That's why I saved this, for when the time finally came."

    She reached under the coffee table and pulled out a box. Inside it was what looked like a large, complex wristwatch. Jim gaped.

    "An X-Transceiver?"

    "I bought it for the day when you'd set out, whenever that may be. It looks like it's that time now."

    She handed it to him, and he numbly attached it to his wrist, almost like a machine. She looked straight into his eyes, and Jim could feel his watering as well.

    "I'll always be here to support you, Jim…no matter what happens."

    Jim felt unable to speak for a time. His mother knew. She had known all this time, and she was giving him her blessing...

    Then, he suddenly hugged her, and she reciprocated just as warmly. It seemed as if it would never end, and to be frank, neither wanted it to. When they finally broke away both were smiling sadly. Even June seemed to know what was going on, and was nuzzling Mrs. Stevens' arm.

    "I'll probably set out tomorrow," Jim said. "It'll give me time to pack."

    "All right, dear," said his mother, simply.

    Jim picked up June and, giving a last look to his mother, who just smiled, he headed up to his room. He lay down on his bed, and June stretched out on his stomach on her back.

    "I can't believe it, June. I thought she'd be more resistant to the thought of me leaving."

    "Well, she did say she wouldn't be able to stop you."

    "I know that, but my dad was a Trainer. He disappeared years ago when he went beyond Unova. I always thought she was afraid I'd vanish like him."

    "No mother wants to lose their child," June said, consolingly, "but eventually, they have to accept the fact that the child has to stop being a child and grow up. I suppose your mother's realized that better than most."

    She looked up at Jim with her big red eyes, and Jim smiled.

    "The Pokedex wasn't kidding when it said how intelligent you were."

    He tickled her pale belly with his fingers, and she laughed.

    "Cut it out! That tickles!" she giggled.

    Jim pulled her up close to his face, where she nestled against his cheek.

    "I have a feeling we're gonna get along great together, June."

    "So do I, Jim…so do I."

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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    Chapter 5
    The Journey Begins


    It was the middle of the night. Jim was fast asleep in bed, June curled up on top. Jim had suggested that she might be more comfortable inside her Poke Ball, but she insisted on being out with him, at least for the first night. His backpack, packed full with clothes, food, money, and other necessities, sat beside his desk, ready to go. All was quiet, save for his mother's gentle breathing snore across the hall, and the occasional night noises: the meow of a prowling Purrloin, a yip from a Lillipup, or the coo of a Pidove.

    But then, there was another noise. A tap like a piece of gravel on glass. Jim stirred awake, and this time, he could barely see a tiny stone tap against his window. Curious, he got up slowly so as not to disturb June, put on his glasses, crossed to the window, and opened it, just to get smacked with a rock right in the forehead.

    "Ow! What's the big id-…Bianca?"

    So it was. Down on the ground level, fully dressed and carrying a rucksack matching her beret, was Bianca, looking ready to toss another rock.

    "What are you doing here?" Jim asked in a loud whisper.

    "Jim! Come down here! I need to talk to you!" she replied.

    Thoroughly perplexed, Jim went back inside and closed the window, still rubbing the spot where the rock had struck him.

    "This has got to be a bad dream…" he muttered as he crept downstairs as quietly as he could.

    He went out the back door and found her still standing there, but she had put down the rock she had been holding.

    "Bianca," he said, trying to be patient, "do you have any idea what time it is?"

    "Of course I do, but this is important," she said.

    There was a look of distress on her face that Jim had never seen before. It worried him.

    "What's the matter?" he asked. "Is something wrong with Oshawott?"

    "No, no, he's fine. It's my dad."

    "Your dad?"

    "He doesn't want me to go see the rest of Unova. He actually forbid me."

    "Oh…"

    Jim understood. Bianca's father was a very nice and good-humored man, but was extremely protective of his only daughter, Now, it wasn't exactly the same reason Jim worried his mother might have been under, because Bianca had both a father and a mother living with her. It was simply the fact that Bianca was his only child, and he just cared too much about her.

    "So then, what are you doing here?" Jim asked.

    "I had to get away before they woke up," she said, sadly. "I just couldn't face seeing their faces if I left in front of them…"

    "But I always thought we would leave together," Jim said, "the three of us."

    "I know…" Bianca said, looking grieved. "Jim, I just wanted to say goodbye to you before I left."

    "Bianca…"

    Before he could continue, however, she grabbed him in a tight hug, and he could do nothing but return it.

    "Bianca, it won't be forever. We'll meet again, maybe sooner than we think."

    "I know," Bianca sniffed, "but I'm gonna miss you."

    "I'll miss you too…" he said, softly. "Take care…"

    She nodded, released him, and giving him a last tearful smile, she turned and hurried off in the direction of Route 1. Jim watched her go, a twinge of regret and guilt hitting his heart, but he knew she was following her heart, and couldn't interfere with that. He went back inside and back up to his room. He looked out his window, but couldn't see her anymore. .

    "Goodbye, Bianca," he whispered, before he went back into bed and fell back asleep, though not as sound as before.

    ***


    The next morning, Jim's thoughts still dwelled on Bianca, but he had the feeling she would be ok. It was true that she was ditzy and clumsy, but she knew how to take care of herself. He made sure he had indeed packed everything, hitched his pack onto his back, and headed downstairs, June hanging on to his shoulder. At the front door, there was his mom, standing with the same sad smile on her face. Jim approached her, and without a word, the two hugged each other tightly. When they broke away, Mrs. Stevens held Jim's face in her hands.

    "Look at you, my big little man, ready to see the world. I'll always have you in my prayers."

    "Right back at you, Mom," Jim said.

    She leaned down and kissed his forehead, and he wiped his eyes.

    "I love you, Mom."

    "I love you too, dear…"

    With that, Jim walked out the door and off toward Professor Juniper's lab. When he was some distance from the house, he turned, and there was his mom, still standing in the doorway. She waved, and he waved in return. Then he saw her bring her hand to her mouth, as if to stifle an amused laugh. Jim looked to his shoulder and saw June waving toward his mother as well. He grinned and patted her head before moving on.

    He stopped at the lab door and knocked. At first, there was no answer, but then he could hear her approaching, and from her voice, she was speaking into a phone.

    "Yes, I understand…I don't know where she could be…well, to be fair, Frank, you can't stop her from…look, I'll call you back. Someone's at the door. Goodbye."

    The door opened, and Juniper was just pocketing a cell phone.

    "Jim! Hello! What's the word?"

    "We're setting out, Professor," said Jim, proudly, "June and I."

    "Wonderful! I had a feeling your mother would understand."

    "Better than I expected. So, who was on the phone?"

    "Bianca's father," Juniper said, looking somewhat anxious. "She's gone missing."

    "Uh, really?" Jim asked innocently.

    He wasn't about to let on that he knew about Bianca running away.

    "Yes. Must've been last night. How odd…first Cheren disappears, then Bianca."

    Jim gaped at her.

    "Cheren's gone too??"

    "I know, I thought it really odd too. I guess he just wanted an early start."

    "But, I always figured the three of us would travel together," Jim said, somewhat disappointed.

    "I know, Jim, I'm sorry," the professor said, putting a consoling hand on his shoulder. "But all trainers have their own paths to follow. I have it in good faith that you'll be able to meet up with them again."

    "…I guess you're right," said Jim, brightening up again.

    Juniper's eyes fell upon the X-Transceiver on Jim's wrist.

    "Oh! You've got an X-Transceiver!"

    "Huh? Oh, yeah. Mom got it for me."

    "Great! You could use it to keep in contact with the lab."

    "Really?"

    "Of course! Here, let me see it for a second."

    Jim took the X-Transceiver off of his wrist and handed it to her. She pressed a few buttons on it, seemed to type something rapidly, and then handed it back to him.

    "There we go. It now has the number to the lab. Just check in with me if you have any concerns."

    "Awesome! …Professor, you've been doing so much for me, but-"

    But the professor held up a hand.

    "Jim. It's all right. It's my job to help new Trainers get on their way. You and your friends just hold a special place with me." She smiled warmly. "You take care of yourself."

    Jim nodded.

    "I will, Professor." he said.

    And with that, he turned around and headed out the door. He was just reaching Route 1 when he heard Juniper call again.

    "Jim! One more thing!"

    He turned to look back.

    "Yes?"

    "When you reach Striaton City, try to get in contact with a scientist named Fennel! Tell her I sent you!"

    "Fennel," Jim said to himself, to keep it in memory. "Will do, Professor! Goodbye!"

    "Take care, Jim! And you too, June!"

    June waved to the professor from her perch. And with that, this time, Jim took his last look at Nuvema Town before he turned his back to it, and started down Route 1.

    He seemed to have only just started down it when he stopped. They were standing at the edge of the spot where they had experienced what Juniper theorized had been the flames of Reshiram rescuing them. June looked at him.

    "What's the matter?" she asked.

    "This is it," Jim said, simply.

    "What is?"

    "If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest I've ever walked from home. It feels like I'm about to step off the high dive."

    June gave him an amused smile.

    "Oh, come on, Jim."

    "You don't understand, June. I've lived in Nuvema Town all my life. I've never been anywhere beyond this point. This is a huge thing for me. It'll be the first time I've gone beyond the boundaries I've grown up with."

    "But you have to remember, Jim: the journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. This is yours."

    "…You're right."

    He lifted his foot, hesitating for a moment. The way he was acting, anyone would think he expected some sort of explosive to go off as soon as he put his foot down again. Finally, he took his first step out of the ring of charred grass, stopped, and looked about.

    Nothing happened, naturally. The forest was still quiet, save for the occasional scuffle of leaves. Jim and June looked at each other, and then Jim's face broke into a huge grin. He leaped into the air and whooped, nearly knocking June off his shoulder.

    "What was THAT about?" she asked in a half-irritated, half-amused way.

    "I just feel so exhilarated! I've finally taken my first step outside of my boundaries! Now the rest of Unova is ours to explore! You feel ready?"

    "Feel ready? Jim, I was born ready," June replied.

    So, with that, Jim took off at a brisk walk, his back toward his childhood limits, his face towards his new beginning, his own tale about to begin…

    My White 2 Team

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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    Chapter 6
    Team Plasma


    The route connecting Nuvema Town to the next city, Accumula Town, was short compared to other routes, taking most travelers at least half a day to make the journey. The sea lay to its west, so it made for a very scenic area, with its sparkling waters, trees and flowers dotting the landscapes, and the occasional Pokemon peeking out with curiosity or sprinting away as Jim approached. He took the opportunity to use his Pokedex to check them all.

    "Lillipup, the Puppy Pokemon. The fur on its face makes for an astoundingly accurate radar, and so it can sense subtle changes in the environment."

    "Pidove, the Tiny Pigeon Pokemon. Mostly encountered in cities, these Pokemon often have difficulty in understanding its Trainer's more complicated directions."

    "Purrloin, the Devious Pokemon. It uses its adorable looks to scam humans and Pokemon out of their food, and even uses this façade when found out."

    "Patrat, the Scout Pokemon. These extremely cautious Pokemon take it in turn to protect their nest. They communicate to others with their tails."

    "Wow. To think I never knew these facts about Pokemon close to home," Jim said, pocketing his Pokedex. "So, June, you feel like some training?"

    "You've read my mind, Jim," June replied, and she leaped down from Jim's shoulder to face the Patrat they had just encountered.

    It glared at them with its large eyes, but June just glared back.

    "Give it a good Vine Whip, June!'

    June's vines snaked out and struck with the speed of a bullet, striking the Patrat both times and sending it toppling. It tried to get back to its feet, but Jim shouted, "Tackle!" and June rammed into it, sending it back off its feet.

    "Nice work! Let's keep that up as we go along." June looked at him.

    "Aren't you going to catch it?"

    "Anyone can catch a Patrat or a Pidove, June. Right now, I wanna hold out until I can build a unique team."

    June gave him a half-amused, half-admiring look.

    "You really are something special, Jim," she said.

    "Thanks, partner. If you want, you can walk on ahead and train as much as you need to as we go."

    She nodded, and so the two continued on.

    As they did, as Jim suggested, June tested herself against whatever wild Pokemon they encountered. Half of the time, they did manage to fight back, but it never took long for June to bring them down. The only Pokemon she didn't wish to fight were Pidove, and this may have partially been due to the fact that they never tried to pick fights unless provoked, which suited her just fine.

    They traveled all that day, stopping occasionally for meals or a breather. Even if it was a different experience for him, Jim had come to the conclusion that journeying on foot wasn't so bad. It was giving him good exercise and fresh air, a chance to see the beautiful landscapes Unova had to offer, and time to bond with June.

    Despite all that, however, there was one deep regret that he harbored, next to having to leave his home and mother behind…his friends.

    He understood that Bianca had wanted to get away to avoid arguing with her protective parents, but what reason did Cheren have for disappearing before morning? Hadn't they always wanted to do and try everything together? Why would they want to forgo this ultimate of opportunities, the beginning of their own adventure as Pokemon trainers, by abandoning him?

    Perhaps he was thinking about it the wrong way. Professor Juniper had said herself that all trainers had their own paths to follow. He comforted himself with the fact that his path, Cheren's path, and even Bianca's path, would converge at one point. He would just have to wait and work for the day when that happened…

    With their short stops and occasional wild battles, it was nearing sundown by the time Jim and June finally came out of the trees lining Route 1 and came to the edge of a hill. Down it, at the bottom, he could see a small city with a large park in its center: Accumula Town. It had the appearance of a populous but peaceful city, like a much larger Nuvema Town.

    "Hang on tight, June," Jim said to his little Snivy partner, "it's all downhill from here!"

    With that, Jim headed right down the hill toward his destination, starting with a run before breaking into a slide, laughing all the way. June clung tightly to his shoulder, not quite as enthusiastic about the ride as he was. They came to a stop right at the sign gate that indicated the entrance to the city, and Jim stood up, brushing the grass and dirt from his jacket and jeans.

    "Please," June said, a little icily, "never do that again…"

    "Sorry, June. I just couldn't help it. This is my first time entering a different town."

    "That's no excuse for being unorthodox…" June muttered, but it was unheard as Jim walked past the gate and into Accumula Town.

    Despite her cold words only moments before, even she couldn't help but marvel at the buildings that seemed to pop up every which way they looked. There was a two story building, white with a red roof, so that it almost resembled a Poke Ball. A sign nearby read "POKEMON CENTER". There was also a large, low building that resembled a gymnasium. The sign above it said "BATTLE CLUB".

    As Jim and June were taking in the sights, they hardly noticed that they had become interspersed with a crowd of thronging people at the edge of the park. They seemed to be congregating at the center. Curious, Jim inched his way along the mass.

    "Excuse me. Pardon me. Oop! Sorry! Oh, I'm so sorry, was that your foot?"

    He managed to reach a spot where he could see where the front of the crowd was facing: a wooden stage and podium that didn't look like it belonged there. He tugged at the shirt sleeve of a burly, dark-haired man with a large mustache. As he turned to face Jim, he could see the words "DON GEORGE" labeled across the chest of his shirt.

    "Can you tell me what the excitement's about, sir?"

    "Not quite sure myself, kid," the man replied. "Some guy dressed in a strange outfit told us to gather at the park, where his leader would be making an announcement that would "change all of our lives".

    "Really? That certainly does draw in a crowd."

    Suddenly, the hubbub quieted down. June clambered on top of Jim's hat for a better look.

    A congregation of the strangest-looking people Jim had ever seen was approaching: men and women dressed in silver armor and mesh hoods, resembling medieval knights. Each member bore the same symbol on the chest of the apron-like garment worn over the armor: a shield divided into black and white, with a blue P superimposed over a blue Z. They marched toward the stage like a regiment and formed a line in front of it. Then came what looked like a guard procession: several members marching like a mobile wall around a man in the center.

    This one looked even more bizarre than the soldiers. He was middle-aged, with flowing green hair, a pale face, and red eyes. At least, the left was certainly red, for the right was covered in an odd eyepiece. He was garbed in an ankle-length robe half of which was colored a yellowish-gold, with strange ink-like blue symbols and an eye with a red pupil. The other portion of it was much the same, but with the colors reversed: yellow on blue instead of blue on yellow. The shoulder area of his robe was brown and made up of many rigid protrusions that rose up, like the battlements of a castle. In the very center was the same shield symbol on the armor of the soldiers. Oddly, his right arm seemed to be concealed within the robe, as only his left was visible.

    Jim had never seen anyone as strange as this man before. He seemed intimidating, and yet there was a sort of warmth and benevolence to his features. Still, Jim couldn't help but suppress a shudder when he gazed upon this outlandish newcomer.

    The man and his guard approached the stage until they reached its steps. There, the two of the soldiers stepped away to allow him to leave the human cage and climb up. He strode to the podium and turned to face the expectant crowd. He opened his left arm out in a grand manner. To look at him, one would imagine a pastor or reverend addressing his churchgoers.

    "Greetings, citizens of Accumula Town," he said, in a voice clear and deep. "I am known as Ghetsis, representative of Team Plasma, and I have come to speak to you about that which may be the defining moment of our very existence."

    Despite the fact that he neither raised his voice or used a microphone, the whole crowd, even Jim, seemed to catch his every word.

    "My subject, dear people, is Pokemon liberation."

    At these words, murmurs and whispers began to break out among the crowd. Pokemon liberation? What did that mean? Terms and phrases like 'Pokemon breeding' and 'Pokemon training' where commonplace and universal, but 'liberation'?

    "I can see that you are confused," Ghetsis continued. "It is no fault of yours. It is nature's oversight that has kept us from reaching this conclusion long before. You see, my friends, we have all lived under the assumption that humans and Pokemon have come to live together because we both have wants and needs that each can satisfy…but is that true?"

    Here, his features and voice became quite serious. Again, he was speaking at a normal volume level, as if it were just to a friend or neighbor right next to him, but he seemed to have the affect of catching the attention of every single individual present.

    "The truth is, under the control of Trainers, Pokemon are little more than servants, carrying out their master's selfish wishes, working themselves to the bone for their benefit. Is there any among you that can say that there is no truth in my words?"

    More muttering. Some seemed scared, others seemed indignant.

    "Worked to the bone?"

    "Are we really that bad to them?"

    "Nonsense! Pokemon have always been our faithful allies!"

    "I love my Pokemon! I would never want to harm them!"

    All of these and other sundry remarks seemed to stir something within Jim, a kind of...rising heat. This sort of talk of just up and releasing Pokemon, even those who had stayed faithful companions for years, was ludicrous! Surely this man wasn't serious!

    "People, people," said Ghetsis, raising his voice for the first time and holding up his hands. "I have not come to cause disconcert and anxiety among you,"

    The crowd quieted.

    "Pokemon are different, you see. They carry unknown potential, and we, as humans, have so much to learn from them. In that regard, what is our true responsibility towards them?"

    He seemed to wait for a reply, but nobody seemed to want to venture a guess, so he pressed on.

    "Liberation!" he shouted. "Freedom! Set them free from the bonds of servitude! Then, and only then, shall humans and Pokemon be truly equal!"

    The crowd was now in a state of anxious excitement.

    "What if he's right?"

    "Set our Pokemon free?"

    "Mine's my friend, though…ever since I was a kid…"

    "But if it makes them happy…"

    But Jim had had enough. Feeling hot and angry by all of this back and forth, he shouted, in a loud voice to combat the crowd,

    "What a load of rubbish!"

    It felt as if someone had smashed the speakers of a radio. Everything fell into a deep silence, and everyone looked to see who had made that very bold declaration.

    "Who said that?!" snapped a guard standing at Ghetsis’ side. "Who has dared to declare such against Sage Ghetsis’ words?!"

    Ghetsis, for his part, did not look overly angry, but there was a hint of annoyance in his face. He raised his hand to quell the angry guard, who backed off. Jim pushed his way through the crowd to the front.

    "I did!"

    He didn't care that everyone was staring at him as if he had lost his mind. All he knew was that he couldn't let this man mislead them like this. Even June was giving Ghetsis a glare so icy she could have frozen him on the spot if possible.

    Ghetsis, however, smiled.

    "And who are you, my daring lad?" Ghetsis asked, his voice still as serene as ever.

    "Jim Stevens from Nuvema Town," Jim said, boldly.

    "Ahh, Nuvema Town," Ghetsis said, in a praising way. "I must remember to make a stop over there as well. I would never want to deny any person the knowledge I have to spare."

    This was just too much. The thought of this creep traveling to his hometown and trying to preach Pokemon liberation to his mother and the professor made Jim clench his fists so hard his knuckles whitened.

    "You can keep your 'knowledge' to yourself," he said, furiously. "Where do you get off, trying to tell us to release our Pokemon?! I can't really speak for myself quite yet, seeing as how I've just started, but Pokemon have been our companions for our entire lives, and you have the nerve to tell us to just give them up?!"

    Several people shouted phrases such as "Yeah, he's right!" and "You tell him, kid!" Ghetsis gave Jim another, unpleasant sort of smile.

    "My dear boy," he said, "I would not expect someone such as yourself to grasp the truth so easily. It is hard for all of us, I know, but the truth hurts sometimes. Haven't you heard the expression 'if you truly love someone, let them go'?"

    "Of course I have. I tried it, but it didn't work."

    He looked upwards as he said it, indicating June. Ghetsis' eyes lingered on her before turning his attention back to Jim. He held out his hand and gestured with his finger to call Jim forward.

    "Step up here, Jim, just for a moment."

    Jim wasn't sure what to make of this. Common sense was telling him that Ghetsis was going to try and pull something on him, but be that as it may, he still found himself approaching the stage, not willing to make this man think he was afraid.

    "I'm with you, Jim," June whispered, and Jim nodded.

    He stood before Ghetsis, still looking defiantly up at him, but Ghetsis still looked calm. He turned to the crowd.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, young Jim Stevens of Nuvema Town has just willingly volunteered to be the first example of Pokemon liberation! Here, before your very eyes, he shall set his Snivy free and prove the true love and concern he harbors for it!"

    Jim didn't bat an eyelid. He knew this was coming. It was too obvious.

    All eyes were on him. Ghetsis stared down at him, a kind of greedy hunger in his eye, though his face was otherwise a mask of composure.

    Slowly, Jim took a Poke Ball from his pocket. June gave something of a start, but didn't speak.

    "Well, boy? What do you say?" Ghetsis asked.

    But Jim wasn't looking at him. He was looking at the sky. Up in the air, something was circling above the throng, something that looked like a blue ball of fur with bat's wings and a large, heart-shaped nose. A Woobat, though its location was odd, as it was a cave-dweller. Still, upon observing this odd phenomenon, he knew what to do.

    Without a word, he clicked the Poke Ball's button to make it its proper size. The crowd gasped, and Ghetsis' smile broadened…but then Jim tossed it!

    Everyone tilted their heads to see it soar high up toward the Woobat, and now people saw it and some even pointed. Ghetsis and his entourage looked both outraged and astonished, and the Woobat didn't look startled at all. In fact, with a squeaking cry, it seemed to actually fly toward the ball. Its nose struck it, it opened, and the Woobat vanished inside it in a flash of red light.

    The Poke Ball closed again and fell to the ground. June, without a word herself, whipped out one of her vines to catch the ball, and it landed neatly in Jim's open hand. The button blinked as the ball twitched in his hand. And then, finally, it stopped moving, and the light went out with a click and a flash of little sparks.

    Jim grinned, as did June, and he could hear people applauding, obviously impressed by his throwing arm and the easy capture.

    Ghetsis didn’t so much as move a muscle of his face, but his fingers were working, and there was a cold anger blazing in his eyes.

    "You dare...?!” snapped one of his guards, probably speaking for his master.

    "Of course I dare," Jim said.

    Boldly, he stepped down from the stage and returned to his original spot in front of the crowd, still holding the Woobat's Poke Ball like a trophy.

    "I'm a Pokemon Trainer. It's my destiny to catch, train, and raise whatever Pokemon I can, and no one is going to tell me otherwise!"

    June gave him an approving nod, while the crowd cheered again.

    “Sage Ghetsis!” said another guard. “Allow us to teach this boy a lesson for disrespecting you!”

    Ghetsis’ face slowly twisted into an unpleasant smile.

    "Very well. I was hoping you would partake in this willingly, boy, but you've stepped away from the path of reason. Guards, demonstrate the vigor of the Plasma doctrine to our little firebrand.”

    The two guards stepped forward. Jim readied himself, June leaping down to stand by his side.

    "Hold it!"

    Someone else had shouted out from the crowd. Jim and Team Plasma watched as this new newcomer pushed their way forward and stood beside Jim, fists on hips. This time it was a girl, about Jim's age. She was about a head shorter than him, and seemed to be rather plump in the stomach and hips, but she had a pleasant, good-natured face with blue eyes and blond hair done up in a ponytail under a baseball cap. She was dressed in a green T-shirt and blue jeans cut off mid-calf.

    Jim couldn't help but feel taken away by her appearance and boldness, but was also intrigued by the Pokemon standing at her side. It was an Oshawott, just like Bianca's, but this one looked serious, like a warrior prepared for battle.

    "Two against one?" she said. "That hardly seems fair."

    Ghetsis shrugged.

    "Guards, when you are ready."

    The guards each took a Poke Ball from their belts.

    "Liepard, go!"

    "Scraggy, go!"

    They tossed their Poke Balls, releasing the aforementioned Pokemon. One was a slender purple and yellow leopard-like Pokemon with large whiskers and half-lidded eyes set in pink patches on its face. The other was a short, vaguely lizard-like Pokemon with a yellow head and tan body, a ribbed red stomach, prominent teeth, a red crest on its head, and what looked like very baggy orange pants, ending in a dragging tail, held up with its hands.

    Intrigued in spite of himself, Jim took out his Pokedex to scan them.

    "Liepard, the Cruel Pokemon, and the evolved form of Purrloin. Deceptive and sneaky, it prefers to attack Pokemon before they notice it. It has the ability to appear and vanish instantly."

    "Scraggy, the Molting Pokemon. It holds up its rubbery shed skin as a form of protection, and has a tendency to headbutt anything it meets."

    "Both Dark types. How fitting," Jim said, grimly.

    "We can take them," said the girl, "right, Oshawott?"

    "Without a doubt," said Oshawott, in a cultured male voice full of bravado, while removing his scalchop from his stomach. "These cads won't know what hit them!"

    Despite the enthusiasm of his words, Jim couldn't help but feel that only he could actually hear them, strange though that sounded. The Team Plasma soldiers didn't hesitate.

    "Liepard, Fury Swipes on Snivy!"

    "Scraggy, Headbutt on Oshawott!”

    Liepard lunged with a snarl toward June, claws extended and glowing white, and Scraggy charged, head low, toward Oshawott.

    "June, Vine Whip!"

    "Oshawott, Razor Shell!"

    June's vines struck out at Liepard, whipping its across the face, causing it fall short of June, claws returning to normal. Oshawott, for his part, raised his scalchop, and a translucent blue blade appeared at the wide end of it. With this, holding it in both paws, he charged at the advancing Scraggy and swung, catching it across the skull and sending it toppling. Both got back to their feet, angry.

    "Don't let them get the better of you! Liepard, use Slash on Oshawott!"

    "Scraggy, go for Snivy with Low Kick!"

    Liepard leaped at Oshawott, only one paw's worth of claws extending this time. Scraggy charged at June, its feet glowing a reddish-orange.

    "Oshawott, dodge and use Water Gun!"

    Just before Liepard could strike, Oshawott leaped back, and its claws sunk into the grass. Then Oshawott expelled a high-pressured jet of water from his mouth, striking Liepard and throwing it toward its Trainer, where it fell on its side and didn't get up again.

    As for June, before Jim could even issue a command, she leaped up into the air to avoid Scraggy's kick, and her the leaf on her tail shone with a yellow light. Before Jim's astonished eyes, she gracefully spun and struck Scraggy across the face with her tail. Scraggy went rolling and landed beside Liepard, too weak to get back up.

    "What…what was that?" Jim asked in astonishment.

    June smiled at Jim with her fists on her hips.

    "Leaf Blade," she said simply.

    Jim wasn't the only one looking at June in wonder. Ever since she attacked, Oshawott seemed unable to take his eyes off her, as if hypnotized. The girl was looking at Jim and June in admiration, but there seemed to be something more in her gaze, something like interest.

    The Team Plasma soldiers called back their Pokemon, looking stunned. Ghetsis, for his part, still seemed composed, but Jim had the impression that his anger was burning away inside him from this insolence and humiliation. However, he said, in the voice he had used to introduce himself,

    "Thank you for your time, citizens. Remember my words. As for you, Jim Stevens, this will certainly not be the last time we meet."

    With that, he turned and descended from the stage back into his guard, which closed around him. Then, with the same militaristic regularity, all members of Team Plasma marched off out of the park, leaving Jim, the girl, their Pokemon, and the crowd in their wake…
    Last edited by TPrower; 3rd August 2013 at 05:35 PM.

    My White 2 Team

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 7
    The Mysterious N


    "You really know how to make an entrance, don't you?" the girl asked, wryly, once the two and their Pokemon were alone. "First time in Accumula Town and you pick a fight with a public speaker."

    "I hadn't meant to," Jim said, defensively. "But do you really think I was going to let that weirdo force us to release our Pokemon? No thanks!"

    "Relax, I wasn't scolding you," she said, in a kinder tone. "I'm just saying, that was really impressive, how you stood up to him."

    "Oh. Well, you know..." Jim muttered, going red.

    The girl stuck out her hand.

    "Your name's Jim, you said? I'm Leanne, Leanne Summers."

    "Pleasure," Jim said, shaking her hand with a smile. "And this is June. We just joined forces yesterday."

    June gave a little nod to Leanne, who bent down to stroke her back, which she seemed to like.

    "She's beautiful," Leanne said, admiringly. "And she already knows Leaf Blade? Now that's impressive."

    "Well, we've done some training on the way here. Even I didn’t know she could pull it off so early."

    "This is Oshawott," Leanne said, gesturing to the little Water type beside her. “He’s been my little pal ever since I was a little girl.”

    He gave a sweeping bow, like an English nobleman. Jim grinned.

    "He seems very charismatic, like someone out of Shakespeare."

    "Yeah, he's a little weird like that, but I still love him. So what brings you to Accumula Town?”

    "Well, I'm sort of just passing through. I'm on my way to complete the Gym Leader challenge."

    "Oh! That sounds awesome! But there's no need to rush. Why don't I show you around the town?"

    "That sounds like a great idea! To be honest, this is my first time in any town other than my home. I’ve got a bit to learn about what to expect."

    As the two talked, Oshawott strode over to June, who was still looking about at her new surroundings. Suddenly, to her surprise, Oshawott took her hand in his paw and got down on one knee.

    "My dear lady, never before have my eyes been set upon such a figure of radiant beauty…"

    June stared at him, nonplussed.

    "Like I haven't heard that before," she said, coldly.

    "I speak the truth, fair one! Your Trainer, he said your name was 'June'? Ah…a lovely name. A name that begets the beginning of summer. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

    June's response, however, was to smack Oshawott a good one across the face with her tail, knocking him for a loop.

    "Compare that," she said, turning her back to him.

    She climbed back onto Jim's shoulder as Oshawott stumbled back to his feet.

    "Such icy ferocity…" he mumbled, dizzily. "…I like that…"

    "All right then, Leanne, lead the way," said Jim, giving a bow, making Leanne giggle.

    "How charming…Come on, Oshawott."

    She scooped up her Pokemon, who was still looking a little dazed, but no one seemed to notice.

    With that, she and Jim began to take a walk from the park to the rest of the town. Every so often, Leanne would point to a building they were passing and explain its purpose. From their tour, Jim learned that the "Pokemon Center" was where Trainers could relax and heal their Pokemon after battles, and there was one in every town, even some along certain routes. The "Battle Club", while not as numerous, was still popular around Unova, and was a place where trainers and Pokemon could hone their skills and improve their power, so Jim had been right in assuming that it was like a gymnasium. Not only that, but the club was run by a man named Don George, the man Jim had asked questioned before Team Plasma's arrival. All in all, despite its small size, Accumula Town seemed cozy, and had at least the basic essentials; nothing extra, but still happy.

    Jim had also taken the time to let out his Woobat and become acquainted with it. He (as it turned out to be a male) gave the impression of a happy-go-lucky, if slightly hyper, fellow, flying about Jim’s head and letting off little happy squeaks, which amused Leanne but seemed to annoy June. On a whim, Jim decided to call him Echo, a name the little guy seemed to like very much. Jim also took the time to properly check him as a species, as well as learn his moves.

    “Woobat, the Bat Pokemon. It emits ultrasonic waves from its nose to determine its location in the dark caves it calls home. It leaves a heart-shaped imprint on whatever surface it hangs on by its nose, which is said to bring good fortune.”

    By the end of the tour, the sun had sunk almost completely, and the area was bathed in a reddish tinge. The two sat down on park benches at the edge of the park, their Pokemon in their laps. All the while they had been going, Oshawott had been trying to catch June's eye, but she simply turned her head away and refused to look him in the eye. Jim, for his part, had become quite friendly with Leanne, chatting and laughing with her as they had walked about, but now she seemed awfully quiet.

    "What's the matter?" Jim asked.

    "Oh, it's nothing," she said quietly. "It's just, you seem like a fun guy, but if you really plan to leave so soon, then..."

    With a pang, Jim understood. Ever since he had started, he knew there was going to be one large difficulty in going abroad: saying goodbye. His mother, the professor, Cheren, Bianca, all were dear to him, and he had known them for so long, so saying farewell had been difficult with them, and yet it was odd. This girl, whom he had only just met, was making that same sort of impression with him. What did it mean?

    He was knocked out of his thoughts when Leanne spoke up again.

    "Well, if you're going to head out, I might as well ask you something."

    "Leanne…"

    "How do you do it?"

    Jim stared. Her question didn't make sense.

    "Do what?"

    "You know, talk to your Pokemon. I've seen you speak to June as if you know what she's saying."

    "Of course I understand her. You can hear her, can't you?"

    Leanne gave him a somewhat worried look, and, to his surprise, so did June.

    "All I hear is her saying her own name," she answered slowly.

    Jim blinked.

    "But…but I've always been able to hear what Pokemon say. Ever since I was a kid, I could hear the morning greetings of the Pidove, the playful banter of the Lillipup, the militaristic scouting of the Patrat. I can't explain it, but I've always been able to…You must think I'm some kind of weirdo, then…"

    He looked at her with a hint of embarrassed shame in her eyes.

    "No-no-no!' Leanne said, hurriedly. "I don't think you're a weirdo! I mean, sure, it's unusual, but I think it's wonderful that you can speak to Pokemon like an equa. It shows just how special you are…"

    She smiled gently at him, and June gave him an encouraging nuzzle. Even Oshawott was giving Jim a sort of admiring smile, so he couldn't help grinning along with them.

    "Quite special, I'd say."

    The voice came so suddenly out of nowhere that they all jumped up and whipped around. A boy about their age was standing behind them, gazing steadily at Jim. He was pale and had long green hair, similar to Ghetsis. Unlike the old man, however, he had blue eyes and naturally gentle and smiling features. He was dressed in a white jacket, tan pants, and a black and white cap. An odd object, resembling a planet with a ring, hung around his neck on a chain, and a cube hung from his belt.

    "Who are you?" Jim asked sharply, out of instinctive suspicion.

    "Oh, just a Trainer, like you," said the stranger.

    His voice was soft and calm, almost lazy.

    "Your name is Jim, correct? You have a rare gift, a gift I thought only I possessed."

    Jim's jaw dropped.

    "You mean…you can talk to Pokemon too?"

    "Correct. It's no surprise. I had spent nearly my whole life living among them: mistreated, abandoned, sad creatures. I felt their pain…That is why I must do what I can to set them free from the bonds of cruelty…"

    "So you've adopted that Pokemon liberation stuff that Ghetsis guy was talking about?" Leanne asked.

    "Please, dear lady, show respect when you speak of Sage Ghetsis," the boy said, fixing his gaze on her. "He is a very wise and learned man, one of seven, in fact."

    He looked back at Jim again.

    "I heard you plan to leave Accumula Town soon. Before you do, I wish to test myself against you."

    Jim blinked.

    "You want to battle me? What's the catch?"

    The boy laughed, but it wasn't cold and mocking, but light and amused.

    "There's no catch, friend. I see your battle with Team Plasma has given you the wrong impression of us under the guidance of Pokemon liberation. I simply wish to battle you under normal terms, perhaps a two-on-two battle."

    Jim pondered for a moment. The boy seemed to be speaking in complete honesty, and he seemed to be a good sort, so he decided to trust him.

    "Ok then, a two-on-two," he said.

    The two stepped away to give themselves distance, while Leanne waited on the sidelines.

    "Purrloin, go!" The boy tossed a Poke Ball, releasing the cute, purple cat-like Pokemon.

    "And my first will be June," Jim said, as June took her place.

    "You even nicknamed her," the boy said. "How charming."

    "Are you mocking me?" Jim snapped.

    "I'm just touched by the amount of affection you hold for her. It's a shame they tried to take her away from you, but liberation is still liberation."

    "Spare me that preachy stuff," Jim huffed, "and make your move!"

    "Fair enough. Purrloin, Sucker Punch!"

    Purrloin lunged at June, its right paw glowing a smoky purple.

    "June, dodge and use Vine Whip!"

    June had just bent her legs, but the boy grinned.

    "Now!"

    June jumped, but so did Purrloin! It landed and sprang off the ground at an angle, paw still aglow. June was so caught off guard she forgot to send out her vines, and the Purrloin socked her across the face. June plummeted back toward the ground.

    "Now, Purrloin, Scratch!"

    Purrloin dived toward June, claws extended, but Jim, out of desperation, yelled,

    "June! Use Vine Whip to save yourself!"

    Like lightning, June righted herself, whipped out her vines, and shot them down toward the ground. They bent and curved as her fall slowed, and then, as if she had been launched from a trampoline, she sprung upward on them like a bullet. Both the boy and Purrloin were quite surprised, and June managed to Tackle Purrloin right in the stomach, knocking it away and onto its back. June landed neatly on her feet again.

    "Way to go, June!" Jim shouted, and June simply grinned.

    As Purrloin got shakily back to its feet, the boy, with a grim look on his face, tugged down at the brim of his cap. He meant business.

    "Purrloin, Night Slash!"

    Purrloin's eyes glowed an ominous bluish-purple, and so did the scythe-like tip of its tail. Holding its tail up, like a snake ready to strike, it charged for June, but this time, Jim was ready.

    "Leaf Blade!"

    The leaf on her tail glowing a luminous yellow, June leaped up and, spinning like a saw, plummeted toward Purrloin, who chose that time to leap at its adversary. As if in slow motion, Jim saw the two blade attacks slash at their opponents, but he couldn't tell who had hit and who had missed. Both landed down, facing away from each other, and simply stood, unmoving, like statues. Finally, after a few tense moments, Purrloin toppled onto its face. The boy looked surprised, and Jim was ecstatic.

    "That's one for us, er…" Jim faltered. "…Sorry, I don't think we got your name."

    "Oh? My fault. I never gave it. You can just call me N."

    "N?"

    Jim was a bit confused. He had never heard of a person with just a letter for their name, but he wasn't going to be rude about it.

    "Well, ok, N, that's one for us."

    June returned to Jim's side as N recalled Purrloin.

    "Indeed, but it may not end in a clean sweep," N replied, taking out another Poke Ball. "Timburr, you're up!"

    He tossed it, and from it came a Pokemon Jim hadn't yet seen before. It was small, gray-skinned, and humanoid, with short legs, a bulbous pink nose, a bulge at the top of its head, and pink vein-like bulges on its body. Standing beside it, held in the crook of its little arm, was a tall, rectangular log. Jim took out his Pokedex to scan this oddity.

    "Timburr, the Muscular Pokemon. Timburr is always seen carrying lumber. The ease with which it handles its burden is an indication for when it is about to evolve."

    "A Fighting type, huh?" Jim pondered, returning his Pokedex to his pocket and taking out the Poke Ball at his belt. "Looks like we have a double advantage then. Time to make your debut, Echo!"

    He tossed the ball up, it burst open, and there was his new Woobat, who floated down into his hand.

    "This is your first battle, Echo, so don't feel bad if it doesn't go our way."

    "Ok. I'll do my best," Echo replied in a squeaky voice.

    Jim smiled and Echo floated to face Timburr, who hauled its lumber into its hands and held it like a baseball bat, giving Echo a threatening look.

    "Echo, Gust!"

    Echo flew up and began flapping his leathery wings rapidly, creating a strong wind, but Timburr held up its lumber to block it off.

    "Uh oh…" Jim muttered.

    "A newly caught Pokemon doesn't hold too well against a Pokemon that's had at least some training," N remarked. "Timburr, Strength!"

    Timburr became surrounded by a red aura, and then, with a great heave, actually hurled its lumber straight at Echo.

    "Echo! Confusion!" Jim shouted.

    Echo surrounded himself in a pinkish aura, and the same glow surrounded the lumber, which slowed to a stop right in front his face. Unfortunately, that was all he could do, as next moment, the lumber went falling to the ground again.

    "Timburr, jump and use Low Kick!"

    Nimbly, like a squirrel, Timburr jumped onto its falling weapon and leaped toward Echo, foot first.

    "Echo, try Confusion again!"

    Once again, Echo glowed with a pinkish aura, which surrounded Timburr, but even though it began to slow down, it still managed to kick Echo right in the face with enough force to send him falling down in front of Jim, wings twitching feebly. Timburr landed neatly on its feet and, with a smug smile, heaved its lumber back onto its shoulder. Jim picked up his fallen friend.

    "Are you ok, Echo?"

    "Y…Yeah…I'm sorry…"

    "Don't be ridiculous. We're going to improve. Now get a good rest."

    He recalled Echo into his Poke Ball while N recalled Timburr.

    "Looks like it's a draw, Jim", he said. "1 for 1. I look forward to our next confrontation."

    "How will I know we'll meet again for sure?"

    "Don't worry…all paths converge at some point or other, and I'll be there when they do…"

    With a nod to them, he turned his back and headed off northward, disappearing into the natural crowd and the evening darkness…

    My White 2 Team

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 8
    A New Friend


    As night had fully crept over Accumula Town, Jim was sitting inside the Pokemon Center in a soft-cushioned chair, staring down at his feet. Leanne sat beside him, her hand on his shoulder. Neither June nor Oshawott were with them at the moment. Within the building, people and Pokemon of all sorts were resting, relaxing, chatting, eating. It seemed the Pokemon Centers were a regular spot for recreation and rejuvenation for trainers and their Pokemon. It certainly had a very cozy, homey feel to it.

    When they had gotten inside, Leanne had instructed Jim to leave June and Echo in the momentary care of Nurse Joy, the woman who ran the center, and she had done the same with Oshawott. Nurse Joy was a pretty, gentle lady with pink hair in two great loops on the side of her head, and dressed in neat pink and white nurse attire. She had assured Jim that his Pokemon were in good hands, and he couldn't help trusting her. Still, he was morosely staring down at the floor at that moment.

    "Why so glum, Jim?" Leanne asked, "You did your best."

    "I know," he said, "but I just wish Echo had had a better chance, instead of having no luck…"

    "Well, like N said, you'd just caught him, so all he needs is a little training, like you said to him."

    "I guess you're right."

    At that moment, there was a beep on the intercom, and the two looked up.

    "Jim Stevens and Leanne Summers to the front desk, please," came Nurse Joy's voice. "Your Pokemon are ready."

    Jim got up and hurried to the desk, Leanne at his side. Nurse Joy had returned, and a Pokemon was beside her, carrying a pair of small trays with Poke Balls sitting inside them. Jim hadn't seen it when he had come in, and so he took the time to get a look at it.

    It was a pink and cream-colored Pokemon about half his height and quite chubby, with twinkling blue eyes, floppy ears from which drooped long, curled extensions, and a fluffy tail. It smiled very sweetly at them. Jim took out his Pokedex to check it.

    "Audino, the Hearing Pokemon. Audino can assess a Pokemon's health and emotion using it's highly acute ears. Therefore, they are extremely capable nurses."

    "Your Pokemon are all full of pep again, dearies," it said, in a very tender, motherly voice, setting the trays down.

    One had only one Poke Ball, the other had two, so it wasn't hard to guess who each belonged to. They each took their Poke Balls and let their Pokemon out again. June settled herself on Jim's shoulder, Oshawott on Leanne's, and Echo just floated in front of Jim, looking meek and disappointed.

    "I know how you're feeling, Echo," Jim said consolingly, "and it's all right. We'll get better."

    "But I could've put up a better fight," he muttered, gloomily. "I could have at least lasted a little longer."

    "You're just a little rusty. We'll work on it. But there is something I wanted to ask you.”

    “Hmm?”

    “You're a cave dweller, so what were you doing in the middle of Accumula Town Park?"

    "Funny you should mention that," said Echo, "I was in my cave when I saw every Pokemon running around in a bustle. Team Plasma was passing through, and they seemed to make all the other Pokemon nervous. But I was curious, so I decided to see what was up and flew after them, making sure I kept outta sight. Then I saw you standing up to the man with the green hair and I figured 'This is a guy to get behind', so I helped you with my capture."

    Jim smiled and pet his bluish fur.

    "I'm glad to hear you thought that of me, Echo. You and I are gonna get along just fine."

    This seemed to make Echo recover some of his spirit, as he happily began floating around Jim's head. June eyed him rather sternly, as if she didn't approve of such behavior. Upon catching sight, Jim clapped a hand to his forehead.

    "Of course! I nearly forgot! Echo."

    Echo stopped his revolutions and floated in front of Jim's face again.

    "I want to introduce you to my first Pokemon, June. June, Echo."

    "Charmed," said June, somewhat stiffly, but she still held out her hand for Echo to shake, which he did with one wing.

    "Pleased to meet you!" he said. "I've got the feeling we're gonna be great friends!"

    "Somehow, I don't possess that same feeling," June replied, coldly.

    Echo laughed.

    "You're pretty funny! I like you!"

    June looked from Echo to Oshawott, who seemed to be in the middle of writing something down. A love poem, no doubt. She sighed, as if bemoaning the fact that she seemed to be the only sensible Pokemon among them.

    "Well, Echo, I'll call you back out when it's time for training," Jim said.

    "All right! I'll be ready!"

    "That's the spirit! Return."

    He held up his Poke Ball and returned Echo inside of it. At that moment, there came a loud, gurgling rumble, and Jim put a hand to his stomach.

    "Whoops. Guess it must be close to dinnertime."

    "Don't worry about it," Leanne said, giving him a friendly nudge on the shoulder. "We'll grab some food here. All Unova Pokemon Centers have a dining and sleeping area upstairs."

    "Wow. That's pretty convenient."

    ***


    So with that, the two friends and their Pokemon headed up to the second level via a set of stairs, and came to a spot with numerous tables and chairs, where some Trainers were sitting and eating or feeding their Pokemon. There were a few vending machines, and an area resembling a convenience store with shelves lined with supplies and eatables. Off to the other side was a set of double doors with a sign over them reading "Overnight Sleeping Quarters".

    Leanne sat Jim, June, and Oshawott down and insisted that she buy them dinner. Jim was going to protest, but she had already headed off before he could finish. He sighed.

    "Even I know a lady shouldn't have to pay for the whole meal," he muttered.

    "You consider this a date, then?" June asked, playfully.

    "Don't be ridiculous," Jim replied, a bit more snappishly than he'd have wished. "She's just getting me acquainted with everything in town. I only thought it wasn't gentlemanly to make her pay."

    "You don't know Leanne like I do, Jim," said Oshawott. "She's a very independent, helpful lass, ready to assist whenever it's wanted."

    "I kinda got that impression myself. It's just, I would have preferred to do it myself anyway."

    "She just wants to treat you," Oshawott said. "It's the least she can do, seeing as how you'll be setting off again."

    He gave June a wistful glance, but she ignored it completely.

    "Well, what's to stop her from setting out herself?" Jim asked.

    "She's never had a reason to. She's always been happy in Accumula Town, but I'm sure she'd like to leave someday. I can feel that."

    Jim looked from Oshawott to the form of Leanne, gathering things to buy. He considered them for a few moments, and then, as if struck, he sat upright, a look of dawning inspiration on his face.

    "Why not?…" he said to himself.

    June and Oshawott looked at him.

    "Jim?" she asked. "Are you all right?"

    "Of course, June," he said, almost dreamily. "I've just had a brilliant idea!" Then, looking at Oshawott, he asked, "Why don't you and Leanne travel with us?"

    "What?" Oshawott asked, taken by surprise.

    "It'd be perfect! Both of us seeing Unova for the first time, so why not do it together? And that way, you and June can become better acquainted!"

    June gave Jim a very sharp look at this. Oshawott, however, at hearing this, seemed ready to support Jim's idea wholeheartedly.

    "Yes, indeed! And you and Leanne can become better acquainted as well! It couldn't be more of a perfect scenario! You, sir, are a genius!"

    He extended a paw, which Jim shook energetically. June sighed and rolled her eyes. Of course, she was glad Jim would be able to spend time with someone who had become such a good friend to him, but she didn't think being consistently wooed by an amorous Oshawott was a very pleasant tradeoff.

    By now, Leanne had returned, and was setting out foods for each of them. She noticed the broad smile on Jim's face, but he shook his head in a way meaning he'd tell her later. She shrugged, and they started eating, Jim occasionally feeding June a cookie or something, which she accepted gladly, despite her earlier moodiness. After they had eaten their fill and were sitting back to relax, Leanne looked over to Jim.

    "Ok, come on, tell me. What's with the smile?"

    "Well, Leanne," Jim said, in a somewhat business-like tone, "Oshawott and I were talking-" Here Leanne gave Oshawott a queer look, but he simply nodded, and Jim continued,

    "And we think that it wouldn't be right of June and me to part company with you just yet."

    "Well, I know that, silly, if you intend to spend the night in town," Leanne said, amused at what she figured was a needless reason for over-expressed joy.

    "That's not quite what I mean," Jim said. "How would you and Oshawott like to travel with us?"

    Leanne's eyes widened, her mouth falling open. It was obvious she'd never even considered this.

    "Me?" she asked, almost breathlessly. "But you don't want me holding you back. I'm hardly a-"

    "Hardly a Trainer?" Jim asked. "Don't give me that. I saw how you and Oshawott battled. You're a competent Trainer, and a sweet person besides. June and I would be honored if you came with us."

    Leanne looked at June, who smiled and nodded to her. Leanne sat up, as did Jim, and the two faced each other for some time. At last, she grabbed him in a very big hug, and Jim returned it. As he had imagined from her pudgy physique, she was very warm and soft.

    "Thank you," she said, gratefully. "We'd love to travel with you."

    "Great," Jim said, patting her on the back. "Now what do you say we get some sleep? It's been a big day."

    "Yeah. Good idea."

    She broke away, still smiling at him, then she went and gathered up Oshawott, hugging him very tightly. Jim grinned, because he knew the little Water type was getting his reward for aiding in the decision. He, for his part, picked up June, who had grown sleepy from food.

    "Are you sure you'll be OK, June? You won't be jealous?"

    "Jealous? Of course not. A friend of a friend is a friend's friend. She seems a nice, sensible girl. I could like her. But I don't know if I can say the same for him."

    She gave a jerk of the head to indicate Oshawott, who was snuggled against his owner's stomach.

    "I know he's a little quirky," Jim admitted, "but time may change your opinion."

    "I should hope…" she said sullenly, but Jim gave her an encouraging hug, which changed her mood, as she nuzzled his cheek.

    Then she yawned and settled on his shoulder. Stroking her softly, Jim joined Leanne as she was cradling Oshawott, who had fallen asleep, in her arms, and the two, tired but happy, made their way to the Overnight Sleeping Quarters.

    My White 2 Team

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 9
    Combat with a Connoisseur


    The next morning, Jim and June were abroad again, this time with Leanne and Oshawott by their side, heading north from Accumula Town. When he had woken up, Jim had discovered, to his surprise, that Leanne had left the Pokemon Center early, without waking him up. The mystery of why was solved when he and June exited to find her and Oshawott standing outside, waiting, the former with a backpack nearly as bulky as his own on her back. She had gone ahead to pack and bid farewell to her parents, and hadn't wanted to embarrass Jim by dragging him along, as she was sure they'd have fussed over him. She had simply said she was going off on her journey, conveniently keeping from mentioning her new friend. As it turned out, they were overjoyed at the thought of their daughter finally able to see the world, and her mother had even given her a Pokemon to raise as she went: a female Pidove that had been a family pet. As they walked along, she let her out of her Poke Ball and let her fly beside them, cooing cheerfully.

    So the two companions were now on their way toward the next town, which Leanne had told Jim was Striaton City. Hearing the name resurfaced in Jim's mind what Professor Juniper had told him only yesterday, to meet with someone named "Fennel" when he got there. If she was a scientist on terms with the professor, she might prove to be invaluable company, although he wasn't quite sure what she could provide for his journey.

    In any case, as the two went along, they allowed their Pokemon to get out and train against wild Pokemon they encountered, which were pretty much the same kinds as on Route 1. Jim personally observed how Echo handled himself on the battlefield. His aerial skills (in this case, his Gust attack) were actually quite good, since none of the wild Pokemon were as resilient as N's Timburr. However, his Psychic abilities (at this point, all he knew was Confusion) were still lacking. No matter how hard he tried, he just didn't seem to be able to keep his opponents held in it for long.

    At one point, Leanne even suggested Echo and her Pidove pit themselves against each other as a test, and so they did. Now Jim had figured that, as a house pet, Pidove wouldn't be very skilled at battling, but he was dead wrong. She flew circles around poor Echo, blowing him around with Gust, striking at him at bullet speed with Quick Attack, and showering him with wind-made slash attacks with Air Cutter.

    It looked as if Echo was never going to get a pick-up in his skill, until one day, during one of their training sessions, his wings began to glow blue, and he flapped his leathery wings very hard, sending crescent-shaped energy waves straight at Pidove, striking her over and over. It was Air Cutter, just like what she had used on him. Before he even knew what was going on, he was borne up in Jim's hands, everyone cheering and congratulating him, even June, in spite of her former attitude towards him. He blushed quite deeply from this attention, but was glad of it nonetheless.

    They made periodic stops to rest their feet and their Pokemon, to eat and to talk. During these talks, Jim got to know Leanne a little more and about her childhood. She had grown up on the tales her dad told her about his days as a Trainer, and had eagerly wanted to set out on her own journey as soon as she was 10 years old, the correct age to become a licensed Trainer. However, as Oshawott had told Jim, she loved Accumula Town too much, and just couldn't bring herself to leave it at such a young age. So she remained home, but, to her surprise and delight, she got Oshawott as a birthday present, which made missing out on leaving right away much more bearable. Therefore, the two had spent six happy years together, during which time Oshawott had acquired a fondness for books and literature, which was a good hypothesis for the reason behind his Shakespearean behavior. The day before yesterday, in fact, had been Leanne's 16th birthday, so this turned out to be a very extravagant, if somewhat belated, "birthday gift", being able to travel at last.

    Speaking of Oshawott, during their walks and stops, he had continuously endeavored to catch June's eye and attract her attention, but she remained icily steadfast toward his advances. He even went so far as to drag out what he had been writing. It was, as June had guessed, love poetry, which he read off as a ballad, thusly:

    "All the kings and the queens from lands far and wide
    Their princes, princesses, and squires
    Have never beheld such eyes as are thine
    As red and as fierce as great fires
    The sweetest of honeys are poison to me
    For I have new reason to rejoice
    Far sweeter than sugars and creams is from thee
    The melodious tones of your voice
    Thy every movement you make speeds my heart
    Such self-composed calm and repose
    Thy smirk of self-confidence goads me to start
    The construction of amorous prose
    So June, oh fair June, slender as the willow
    I entreat you to ignore me not
    For your natural beauty has my soul aglow
    You're the lass I've always sought"


    Jim, Leanne, Echo, and Pidove had all witnessed this poetic display, and, despite the fact that the second of these four was the only one incapable of fully comprehending Oshawott's speech, she still clapped with the others, as she knew he had put a lot of effort into it. He bowed to them, but as soon as their backs had turned, he was bowled off his feet by a blow. June, crimson with mingled indignation and embarrassment, had given him a very hard smack in the back of the head with her tail leaf.

    "I don't know what I need to do to drive it into that skull of yours," she remarked hotly, "but I’m not interested! Keep your spoony barding to yourself!"

    She stomped off to rejoin Jim as Oshawott got back to his feet, eyes rolling dizzily.

    "She's a tough one," he mumbled, "but time and perseverance shall see my love through in the end." He stumbled to catch up with the others.

    Sleeping was another matter. It was not to say that Jim had never slept outside before. In fact, many were the times when, as a kid, he would "camp" with Cheren and Bianca in his backyard, sleeping under the stars. However, out there on the Route, there were wild Pokemon about that could come out and rob or attack them at any time. He had dictated these apprehensions to Leanne who simply said that as long as they weren't bothered, he wouldn't be bothered in return, and that somewhat tempered his fears. So one evening, as they were still about 5 miles away from Striaton City, and most likely would not reach it at a reasonable hour, they decided to put up for the night. They recalled Pidove and Echo, rolled out their sleeping bags, and nestled inside them with June and Oshawott by their respective sides. True, the nightly noises Jim had heard from the comfort of his home were a lot closer now, but he slept right on through, and as Leanne said, since the Pokemon weren't disturbed, they weren't disturbed either.

    ***


    Three days after leaving Accumula Town, they finally reached the city gates of Striaton City. From there, they could see that the eastern half of the city boasted a residential area, composed of apartment or townhouse buildings of unique, brick-made design. Two prominent buildings were to the north, resembling a schoolhouse and a restaurant, though the restaurant bore a detailed logo of a Poke Ball. To the west was what seemed to be a magnificent garden with a large fountain and hedges shaped like different Pokemon. To the east of the residential area appeared to be an area encircled in woods. They couldn't see much more of it from there.

    They were walking down the main street, taking in the sights of the uniquely-built buildings, when someone was seen running right towards them. He seemed to be slightly older than they were, perhaps 17 or 18, with green hair and eyes, and appeared to be dressed as a waiter, complete with a dress shirt and black vest with large yellow buttons. He stopped before them and bowed.

    "Welcome to Striaton City!" he said. "I saw the two of you enter when I was out on errands, and thought it'd be prudent to welcome you to our fair town."

    "Uh, thanks," said Jim, a bit put off by this person's behavior.

    It was only increased when he saw the stranger gazing intently at June.

    "Ah, you have a Snivy! May I hold her for just a moment?"

    "Um…be my guest."

    The person picked up June, who didn't object to this odd request. He seemed to be gazing fixedly into her eyes, and after a few moments of this, he nodded with a glowing smile.

    "You have nothing to fear, sir. Your Snivy bears a great attachment towards you, despite the fact that you've only been abroad for a short time. And it can only grow stronger, like a fine wine reaching maturity."

    Jim was stunned, even as June was handed back to him.

    "How in the world did you know all that?"

    But Leanne looked as if she had an inspiration.

    "I see! You're a Pokemon Connoisseur!"

    Now it was Jim's turn to bear an expression of realization.

    "Oh yeah! My mom talks about them sometimes. People who can discern the bond between Trainers and Pokemon with relative ease."

    "Quite correct," said the stranger with another bow. "Cilan, A-Class Connoisseur, at your service."

    "I'm Jim, and you've already met June. This is Leanne and Oshawott."

    "A pleasure to meet you all," said Cilan.

    He then took the time to observe Oshawott, who, like June, wasn't perturbed by his piercing gaze.

    "Splendid! You and your Oshawott have spent six long, happy years together. The bond between you two has strengthened like a fine cheese improved with age."

    He looked at Jim and Leanne.

    "You two are precisely what I'd like to see in every Trainer I come across."

    He clapped his hands together.

    "Now then! Since you two have just arrived, I can surmise you'd like a good meal."

    "Actually, we would," said Leanne. "Do you know of a place to eat?"

    "Do I ever! I work there myself: the Striaton Café. Please follow me."

    He briskly led them down the street and to the restaurant they had seen from the gate. He led them through the doors, and they found themselves in a cozy, brightly-lit area with cloth-covered tables and cushioned chairs. Several tables were already occupied and were being waited on by two more boys dressed like Cilan. One had wild red hair that resembled flames, and the other had long blue hair resembling a waterfall along his face. When they came in, however, they finished what they were doing, came over, and bowed to the two guests.

    "Welcome to the Striaton Café, sir and madam," said the blue-haired boy. "We are Cress-"

    "And Chili," said the red-haired boy after him. "We're honored to have you here."

    "Right this way, Jim, Leanne."

    Cilan took them to an empty table and seated them with perfect gentlemanly behavior. Chili produced a pair of menus from seemingly nowhere and handed them to them while Cress filled them glasses of ice water.

    "Our soup of the day is hot potato, and our special today is the lemon chicken with your choice of a side."

    "Sounds good. I'll have that and a baked potato with cheese."

    "I'll have that with the soup of the day."

    The three swept away, and in what seemed next to no time, Jim and Leanne were served, and they dug in with relish. The food was magnificent and the atmosphere made it even more complete. Cilan, Chili, and Cress (who it turned out were triplets) were very attentive to their every need. Jim had never had such an experience before, and felt quite spoiled, to be truthful. When the meal was over, Jim was prepared to dig in his pack for his wallet, but the three brothers held up their hands to stop him.

    "You're seeking to challenge the Striaton Gym, right?" asked Chili.

    "Well, yes," said Jim, "but what does that have to do with the bill?"

    The three looked at each other, apparently amused.

    "He doesn't know," said Cress.

    "I suppose I should have told him," said Cilan.

    "Tell me what?" asked Jim.

    The three gave their answer in unison.

    "Challengers of the Striation Gym pay…with a battle!"

    With a flourish of the arm, they pointed to the back wall, where there was an enormous curtain covering it, and no tables were situated against it. The curtain opened to reveal another enormous room, designed like a stadium with a dirt-floored battlefield, decorated with rocky protrusions. Dining guests all talked excitedly, as if they knew they were in for a show. Jim and Leanne were astounded.

    "You three are the Gym Leaders?" Leanne asked.

    "That's correct," said Cilan. "The Striaton Café and the Striaton City Gym are one and the same."

    "We provide a full-course meal and a full-course battle," said Chili.

    "So now, if you're ready, choose who you'll face," said Cress.

    "You mean I get a choice?" Jim asked.

    "Certainly. Come this way."

    Jim and Leanne stood up, June and Oshawott still on their shoulders, and they followed the three into the stadium, the diners congregating to watch. On the sidelines of the battlefield, each took out a Poke Ball.

    "We'd like to show you who you have the choice of facing," said Chili. "If you choose to battle me, your opponent is…Pansear!"

    He threw his Poke Ball up, and from it appeared a Pokemon resembling a monkey, red and yellow in color. The fur on its head resembled a flame, sort of like Chili's, but despite the smile on its face, its eyes were sad. It also had rather large ears.

    "If you wish to face me," said Cress, "then let me introduce you to…Panpour!"

    He opened his Poke Ball, and the Pokemon that appeared was another monkey, but this one was blue and yellow, the tuft of fur on its head resembled a spout of water, and its eyes seemed to be closed in bliss.

    "And if I'm your choice of opponent," said Cilan, "then you'll have the honor of battling…Pansage!"

    From his Poke Ball came yet another monkey. This one was green and yellow, the fur on its head resembling the top of a tree, and its eyes wide and energetic. Jim took out his Pokedex to scan them all.

    "Pansage, the Grass Monkey Pokemon. The leaves that grow on Pansage's head are used to relieve stress."

    "Pansear, the High Temp Pokemon. The tuft on its head can reach 600 degrees Fahrenheit when angry.

    "Panpour, the Spray Pokemon. The tuft on its head stores water which is full of nutrients."

    "Wow. Three brother Pokemon, just like their owners," Jim remarked, looking from them to their Trainers.

    "So here are the terms," said Cilan. "If you win against whomever of us you choose, your victory will count as your payment of your bill."

    "But if you lose," Chili said, "then you have to pay full price."

    "No problem," Jim said.

    He had figured it would be something along those lines. He set June down and knelt beside her.

    "So, June, who should we battle? If we face Chili, it'd be an enormous challenge, since Pansear is a Fire type. Battling Cress would be easier, since Panpour's a Water type."

    But June shook her head.

    "It's our first Gym Battle," she said, "so I'd want it to be a good, fair challenge."

    "Ok, that sounds reasonable. Does that mean, then-"

    "Yes."

    Cilan, Cress, and Chili looked at each other, as they couldn't understand what June was saying either, but were impressed by Jim's understanding. Jim stood back up.

    "All right then. June and I have decided to take you on, Cilan," he said, pointing to him.

    The three looked surprised.

    "Grass against Grass?" said Cress.

    "Sounds like an even battle to me," said Chili.

    "It's perfect!" said Cilan, with a smile. "I think what they want is a match on even terms, no strengths and no weaknesses. A recipe that seems to be made of simple ingredients, yet may yield a spicy aftertaste. Am I right?"

    "You're very perceptive, Cilan," said Jim, approvingly.

    "It comes naturally when you're a Connoisseur," Cilan said, in a humble tone. "Very well then. Chili, will you referee for us?"

    "Of course!"

    Chili went to the center of the field as Jim and Cilan took their places, and Cress and Leanne took their place among the spectators. June and Pansage stood before their trainers, facing each other. Pansage seemed to mimic the demeanor of his trainer, a visible sign of excellent Trainer-Pokemon coordination. Chili raised both arms.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, today we offer you a full-course battle! The challenger, Jim, and his Snivy, have chosen to face Gym Leader Cilan and his Pansage. This shall be a one-on-one match with no time limit. Let the battle…begin!"

    "June, Tackle!"

    June charged straight for Pansage.

    "Pansage, Dig!"

    Quick as a blink, like a gopher, Pansage burrowed underground, leaving a hole, which June almost toppled into. She looked around, trying to guess where her opponent was going to spring out. Suddenly, a spout of dirt rose right behind her.

    "June! Behind you!" Jim warned, but Cilan was way ahead of him.

    "Scratch, Pansage!"

    June turned just as Pansage leaped out of the ground, paws glowing white. She barely managed to dodge the first strike, but the second caught her across the face and she went rolling into one of the rocky protrusions, hitting her back. The spectators cringed. Oshawott gripped his scalchop in nervous agitation. June was back on her feet in an instant. Pansage stood across from her, urging her to make her next move. Jim jerked the bill of his cap down in frustration.

    "June, Vine Whip!"

    June's vines snaked out from the lapels on her shoulders and struck at Pansage. The Grass Monkey jumped to dodge, but Jim gave June a sneaky nod, which she returned. Her vines curved and shot backward toward Pansage, catching him across the back and sending him for a toss this time, where he finally landed on top of a rock. Cilan looked quite surprised at this change of tactic. Leanne and Oshawott were cheering. However, Cilan was smiling once again.

    "Impressive! Add a few ingredients not found in the original, and we have a new dish altogether! Pansage, Bullet Seed!"

    Pansage leaped to his feet, took a breath, and shot a barrage of glowing green bullets straight at June.

    "Guard against it!" Jim called.

    June raised her arms over her face and the bullets struck against her, but she remained steadfast. When it stopped, she lowered her arms…and there was Pansage right in front of her! Before she could react, he had smacked her back with another Scratch. June dug her feet into the ground to keep from hitting another rock and soon slowed to a stop.

    "Try Leaf Blade!" Jim said.

    June leaped, and she went into a somersault, the leaf on her tail began to glow greenish-yellow. Before Pansage could strike back, he was smacked with June's tail and thrown back so hard the rock he slammed into shattered. For a few tense moments, everyone watched and waited, wondering if Pansage would emerge again…and then, with an effort, the monkey clambered out of the rubble, battered and weary. June herself had become battle-worn. Both Pokemon looked as if they were quickly running out of steam. Cilan looked as if he were pondering something, and he nodded resolutely.

    "Oh boy," Cress muttered.

    "What? What is it?" Leanne asked.

    "I know that look. Cilan knows that it's time for this battle to wrap up, one way or another."

    "What do you mean?"

    But Cress didn't reply. Cilan was talking.

    "This battle's worn on long enough, and I believe it's time to throw in the final ingredient to complete this banquet of a battle. Pansage, Solarbeam!"

    Everyone gasped. Jim and June both looked stunned.

    "Solarbeam??" Jim gulped.

    He was suddenly aware of the sunlight that was filtering in through the windows of the stadium. Pansage cupped his paws by his side, and a glowing ball of yellow energy began to form between them. With an effort, he threw his paws forward, and a beam of golden energy was fired from the ball.

    "JUNE, LOOK OUT!!" Jim yelled, but he knew June was too tired to dodge in time.

    Leanne covered her eyes, and Oshawott shut his. It looked like the battle was over…

    But at that moment, June, fire dancing in her eyes once more, jumped up and began spinning like a top, faster and faster until her whole body was a blur. As she did so, a swirling twister of leaves danced around her. Jim's jaw dropped. He took his Pokedex out to see what this attack was.

    "Leaf Tornado, a Grass type attack which has a chance of lowering the opponent's accuracy."

    The Solarbeam struck the condensed vortex of leaves and vanished after making contact. Now it was Cilan's jaw that dropped.

    "Inconceivable!" he said.

    Pansage was utterly bewildered. Suddenly, the Leaf Tornado swung right towards Pansage. The Grass Monkey, however, was unable to dodge, as the Solarbeam had took the last of his energy. So he was struck by the mobile vortex of leaves, which exploded outward when it hit, buffeting and striking him left and right. Still spinning like a top, June emerged once again and landed on her side of the field. When the leaves had subsided, Pansage was struggling to stay on his feet, but at last, he collapsed onto his face. The crowd gasped, and Chili held up his right hand (facing Jim).

    "Pansage is unable to battle! Snivy wins, which means victory goes to the challenger, Jim!"

    The crowd burst into fresh applause, in which Leanne's and Oshawott's cheers were the loudest. Jim, stunned and perplexed only for an instant, gave a loud whoop of joy.

    "YEAH-HA-HA!"

    He rushed out onto the field and picked June up. She was battered, bruised, and dirty, but smiling with tired triumph.

    "You did it, June! What a turnabout!"

    He hugged her close, and she nestled against his chest. Cilan sighed and knelt beside his Pansage.

    "Good work, Pansage. You put up a terrific fight."

    Pansage smiled weakly as he was recalled to his Poke Ball. Leanne and Oshawott had rejoined their friends.

    "Jim, that was unbelievable! Pulling a Leaf Tornado out of nowhere!"

    "You ought to tell June that. She's the one who pulled it out of her hat."

    Oshawott gave June a look of proud admiration, and, to Jim's wonder, she smiled back. Not as glowingly, but she still smiled at him.

    At that moment, the three brothers had come up to them.

    "That was certainly an extraordinary match," Cilan said. "Well done!"

    "Thanks, Cilan."

    "And now," he continued, "as co-Gym Leader of Striaton City, it is my pleasure to confer upon you the Trio Badge."

    He held up a small badge that resembled three diamonds connected vertically, with red, green, and blue gemstones set in them, and placed it in Jim's palm. Jim grinned widely and held it up, so that the sunlight flashed off of it.

    "I've just won…the Trio Badge!" he announced.

    The crowd cheered at the display of his mark of victory.

    "You know what else this means, right?" Leanne asked.

    "No, what?" Jim asked.

    "We've enjoyed a free lunch!"

    At this, everyone, even the brothers, laughed. It was the perfect end to Jim's first Gym victory, and a good start to the Gym Leader challenge…

    My White 2 Team

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 10
    Nightmare in the Dreamyard



    "You should've seen it, Professor!"

    Jim was sitting inside the Striaton City Pokemon Center. While he waited for June to recuperate, he had contacted Professor Juniper on his X-Transceiver. Leanne had gone to the restroom, and had left Oshawott under Jim's supervision. He seemed to be in deep in thought about something, no doubt brewing a fresh love ballad or poem in his eccentric mind.

    "Pansage fires this huge Solarbeam, and I'm standing there thinking 'Oh no, June can't dodge that! She's got no energy left!' Well, right out of nowhere, she counters, blocks, and attacks with a Leaf Tornado! I had no idea she even knew it!"

    Juniper was beaming.

    "She's been around the lab longer than many of the other starters I've given out, so I think she's had a bit more experience in learning new moves. In any case, that sounds like a spectacular start to your quest! I knew you had it in you!"

    "Thanks! How's Mom doing?"

    "Fine, I think," said Juniper. "She seems much more reserved though. I think she's already started to miss you."

    "Oh…"

    His smile faded a bit.

    "I wish there was something I could do to help her…"

    He looked around him at the Pokemon Center, and at the Trainers, adults, and kids playing and pampering their Pokemon, all looking happy and content. Then, an inspiration came to him, which snapped him out of his melancholy.

    "Oh! By the way, since I'm here, what exactly do you need me to do with this 'Fennel' you want me to meet?"

    "Ah, glad you remembered! Well, Fennel's a close colleague of mine, and I've instructed her to give you something special that she's been developing."

    "Something special? Like what?"

    "Sorry, Jim, I can't say," she said, in a teasing voice. "You have to find out for yourself."

    "All right, have it your way," Jim replied, unable to keep from smiling. "Where do I meet up with her?"

    "She's mostly in her lab in #A113 in the Striaton Verde Complex, but sometimes she goes to the Dreamyard to continue her research."

    "Dreamyard?"

    Jim was about to ask more, when the Pokemon Center's intercom beeped.

    "Jim Stevens to the front desk, please. Your Pokemon is fully restored."

    "I'd better go, Professor. See you soon!"

    "See you, Jim! Good luck!"

    The X-Transceiver turned off, and as Jim got up, Leanne returned and scooped up Oshawott.

    "What's up?" she asked.

    "I just had a chat with Professor Juniper."

    "Professor Juniper? I've heard about her! Her dad used to be a legendary head in the field of Pokemon origins!"

    "Yeah, she's told me about his work a few times. Anyway, she wants me to meet with a colleague of hers: Fennel."

    "Hmm, not sure I've heard of her," Leanne mused, rubbing her chin.

    They'd reached the front desk, where a single Poke Ball was sitting on a tray. As Jim picked it up, he chanced to look up, and was not a little surprised to see that the person behind the desk looked exactly like Nurse Joy from Accumula Town, though there was a sort of sad expression in her eyes.

    "Nurse Joy?" he asked.

    "Yes? That's me," she said.

    Even her voice had the same sweet, gentle tone.

    "But…I thought you were in Accumula Town."

    Leanne giggled at this.

    "You don't know?" she asked.

    "Know what?"

    "Every Pokemon Center is run by a Nurse Joy."

    "A Nurse Joy?"

    Now Jim was really confused.

    "We're all of the same family," said Nurse Joy, holding up a framed photograph.

    In the picture were several women, all identical in appearance to the Accumula and Striaton Nurse Joys, some younger, some older, but all with the same appearance, outfit, and good-natured smile.

    "Wow," was all Jim could say. "I had no idea."

    "That's all right," said Nurse Joy. "Not all make the connection right away."

    She still looked a little sad.

    "What's wrong?" Jim asked.

    "Oh, it's nothing," she said. "It's just, one of our Audino's run away."

    "What? Really?"

    "Yes. While most Audino are talented at nursing, there are, of course, a few that don't wish to enter the medical profession, and it seems this was one of them. I hadn't considered it, but I guess the stress of the job was too much for her, and she ran away…"

    "Do you know where she could have gone?"

    "I think she went eastwards, toward the Dreamyard."

    "Well, if we see her, maybe we can bring her back."

    "That'd be wonderful, but I don't know if she'd ever want to come back."

    "Where does a Trainer catch Audino, anyway?"

    "Oh, they're everywhere in Unova, in tall grass. However, they're quite rare and fairly sturdy in battle. Even then, they’re very delicate and sensitive creatures. So, if you see her, don't force her to return. Just tell her I'm sorry for stressing her."

    "We will, Nurse Joy," Leanne said, sympathetically.

    "No such luck yet, Nurse Joy," said a voice from behind them.

    Jim and Leanne turned, and saw a woman standing behind them. She had long, dark blue hair that fell past her knees, shiny blue eyes behind thick glasses, and was garbed in a long, white lab coat. Beside her floated a Pokemon that looked like a round-bodied tapir or pig, pink with purple flower designs on its body, tiny legs, round pink eyes, and a mouth that was either beaked or snout-like, a pink spot on it.

    "She's definitely not within the city."

    "Well, at least we know that much," said Nurse Joy with a sigh. "Thank you, Dr. Fennel."

    "Fennel?" Jim asked, surprised.

    "Yes, indeed!" said Fennel with a warm smile, giving a curtsey with her lab coat. "Dr. Fennel, at your service, and this is my little assistant, Munna."

    She indicated the Pokemon floating beside her, who gave a happy little squeak. Jim took out his Pokedex to scan it.

    "Munna, the Dream Eater Pokemon. Munna consumes dreams of people and Pokemon alike, and projects them in the form of Dream Mist. The dream is then forgotten by whomever it was taken from."

    "Dream Mist…sounds like something Professor Juniper would have told me." Jim mused.

    Fennel's eyes widened.

    "Professor Juniper? You know her?"

    "Sure! I'm Jim Stevens, and this-"

    Here he let June out of her Poke Ball, where she joined him on his shoulder once again.

    "-is June. The professor said we should meet with you."

    "Wonderful!"

    Fennel shook Jim's hand very energetically.

    "I had a feeling I'd be meeting you soon!"

    She looked at Leanne.

    "And who are you, miss?"

    "Leanne Summers, and this is Oshawott. Pleased to meet you." Leanne grinned.

    "Likewise!"

    "Did you say you were looking for the lost Audino, Dr.?" Jim asked.

    "Yes, indeed. I figured that, eventually, Audino must fall asleep, and then we'd be able to track it by its dream. That's what Munna's best at."

    "Well, what's wrong with that?" Jim asked, looking at Munna.

    "There's too much Dream Mist for me to pick out Audino's," said Munna, sadly, "and it's all unsavory."

    "Unsavory?" Jim asked, confused.

    Fennel gave a small start, no doubt wondering how Jim picked that up.

    "Dreams of greed or wickedness are extremely bitter-tasting," Munna explained, "and they're all coming from the Dreamyard."

    "The Dreamyard!' Jim exclaimed. "Professor Juniper was just telling me about that! She said you sometimes go there for research, Dr. Fennel!"

    "Indeed," said Fennel. "It's because I've been trying to recover Musharna, but have had no luck so far."

    "Musharna?"

    "The evolved form of Munna. Long ago, humanity was trying to develop Dream Mist as a new, cleaner source of energy, much more abundant and useful since everybody dreams. The Dreamyard used to be the site of the research facility that converted Dream Mist into energy, and Musharna was used as the collector and distributor of Dream Mist. What we hadn't counted on, however, was how Musharna would react to dreams of a darker nature. There were, unfortunately, people on staff that had dreams of powerful financial desire, spurred on by the financial prospects of perfecting Dream Mist energy. Musharna became emotionally corrupted from ingesting their selfish dreams, and the resulting black Dream Mist drove everyone out of the facility and destroyed the building. I was one of the few to escape unscathed, along with Musharna's child. Since then, Musharna's settled into a sort of secluded insanity, shielding herself from outside intrusions. I've been trying to get to her and reason with her, but so far she's unreasonable…I'm worried what might have become of that poor Audino if she's vanished into the Dreamyard…"

    "That's awful," Leanne said. "Poor Musharna…"

    Jim, however, looked thoughtful rather than sad.

    "When you said 'Musharna's child', do you mean-"

    "That's right," said Fennel with a nod. "My Munna."

    "I want to reason with Mother," said Munna, "but I can't approach her. The Dream Mist she's shielded in is practically toxic…"

    "If her Dream Mist spreads," Fennel said, "it could put all of Striaton City, and even further than that, if possible, into an endless slumber…"

    "And nothing could bring them back?"

    "Nothing but Musharna's powers themselves…"

    "…Then we need to head to the Dreamyard."

    "Huh?"

    Everyone looked at him as if he'd gone nuts.

    "I'm able to communicate with Pokemon, if you've noticed," Jim said.

    Fennel nodded, then clapped a hand to her mouth.

    "Of course! You could try to reason with her yourself!"

    "But how do I keep from being harmed by the Dream Mist?"

    "As long as you don't inhale it, you should be fine," said Fennel. "I'll bring some gas masks along just in case." Jim looked at June.

    "This could be really dangerous. Are you willing to do it?"

    "Wherever you go, I'll be by your side, Jim," was her reply.

    Jim looked at Leanne and Oshawott, who nodded boldly.

    "We'll do it, Dr."

    ***


    Within the next hour, the three humans and their Pokemon, the former armed with gas masks and oxygen tanks strapped to their backs, made their way through the dense patch of trees that lay at the eastern edge of Striaton City. On the other side of it lay a vast, open patch, surrounded in thick, tall grass, within which lay the crumbled, disassembled foundations of a large, gray-stone building, its upper stories destroyed, leaving the bottom floor. It looked completely desolate and sad.

    As they looked around, June tensed, and then suddenly turned on the spot, her vines zipping out like lightning. They seemed to snare something in the tall grass, and whatever it was gave a yelp of fright. Everyone turned and saw June give a great heave. Whatever it was seemed to be heavy. Through the grass, the Snivy hauled out the terrified form of an Audino, her vines wrapped like a belt around her fat belly. A white cap bearing a red cross was hanging from her lop-ear.

    "The runaway Audino!" Fennel cried.

    The Audino seemed to be trying to get away, but June held tight. Jim stepped forward and knelt by the scared Pokemon.

    "Don't be scared. We're not here to hurt you," Jim said, soothingly.

    The Audino looked at him with her large, clear blue eyes, and slowly began to calm down. June's vines released their hold.

    "I-I can't go back," she said. "I can't handle it! I don't want to be a nurse! Oh, Nurse Joy…she must be so disappointed in me."

    "It's ok, it's all right," said Jim, putting his hand to her cheek. "We're not here to abduct you. Nurse Joy was just concerned for your safety. What are you doing here?"

    "I felt like an outlaw by running away, so I went here to find a place to stay, but I was scared out of my hiding spot by some weird noises coming from in there."

    She pointed to the ruins.

    "Someone muttering."

    "Must be Musharna," Jim said. "Listen, stay close to us. We have business here, and we'll see you safely home afterward. Ok?"

    "O-Ok," said Audino, gripping his arm tightly.

    The two rejoined the others, and they began to make their way toward the ruins. A large chunk of the outer wall had been blown away, leaving the room behind it exposed and opened. A wooden trapdoor was situated on the floor within, and a black smoke seemed to be emitting from it.

    "Black Dream Mist," Fennel said. "Musharna's down there."

    "Then we're going in," Jim said.

    He fitted his mask over his nose and mouth and indicated for June and Audino to stay back. Both stepped back as Jim headed for the trapdoor, grabbed its ring, and lifted it.

    It felt as if the darkness of night was oozing out of the trapdoor, so complete was the blackness. It hung in the air like a thunderhead. Jim thought it must have been a trick of his ears, but he could have sworn he heard sounds coming from the cloud: haughty laughter, and a noise like the jingling of coins. Then, Fennel's words returned to him:

    "There were, unfortunately, people on staff that had dreams of powerful financial desire, spurred on by the prospects of perfecting Dream Mist energy…"

    So this was what a selfish dream looked like in Mist form…

    However, just as Jim was preparing to step into the mist, something rose out of the trapdoor, like a puppet being hauled up on its strings. The mist, initially enshrouding it, made a gap in its smoky veil. The creature inside resembled a purple elephant, with pink on its head and paws. A pink hole adorned its trunk, similar to the one on Munna's snout. The smoke was flowing from it, like the smokestack of a factory. Its eyes were closed and adorned with long eyelashes. Fennel and Munna gasped.

    "Musharna," Fennel said.

    With trembling hands, Jim held up his Pokedex.

    "Musharna, the Drowsing Pokemon, and the evolved form of Munna. It sleeps often, and when it does, the contents of dreams it has eaten appear in the mist it expels."

    "Mother…Mother!" sobbed Munna, floating toward her.

    Fennel cried out for her to stop, but it was too late. Musharna's eyes snapped open. They were blank and glowing with a red light. A sort of aura surrounded her, which expelled Munna back. Then Musharna spoke, in a voice like one possessed.

    "Who…disturbs…me?"

    "Musharna,” said Jim. “We've come to help you."

    "Help…me?…I am beyond help…They would wish to use me…for their selfish desires…Leave me…Begone!"

    The black Dream Mist began to spiral like a tornado, rising upwards.

    "No!" Fennel yelled. "If the mist spreads from that height, it'll put all of Unova to sleep for good!"

    "Musharna!" Jim shouted, over the roar of the winds. "Please, stop! You can’t do this! I know how you must feel, but not all of humanity is corrupt! Just open your eyes!"

    But Musharna didn't seem to be listening. Jim looked desperately around. Fennel was shielding the terrified Munna, Leanne was keeping a tight hold on Oshawott, who had grabbed his scalchop, possibly wishing to battle the insane Pokemon, and June, standing by the petrified Audino, looking defiantly at the vortex of mist.

    "We don't have a choice!" Jim roared over the noise. "We have to fight back!"

    "Jim-" Fennel began, but Jim cut her off.

    "I don't like the idea anymore than you do, Fennel, but what other option do we have?!"

    Fennel couldn't answer, so she simply nodded.

    "June, try shooting a Leaf Tornado into that mist!"

    Immediately, June began spinning vertically, like a top, and a swirling mass of leaves encircled her. With a motion, she launched it straight at the rampaging Musharna, but no sooner did the leaves strike the mist aura than they dissipated, melting like snow on a hot sidewalk. Leanne seemed to catch on, and tried her hand.

    "Oshawott, use Water Gun!" she commanded.

    Oshawott straightened up and spat a jet of water at Musharna. However, the water stopped and struck right in front of her, as if there were an invisible barrier. Jim gritted his teeth. Brute force was useless. Musharna was protected by her own emotional corruption, and they couldn't get close.

    What was worse, Jim was beginning to feel odd. His vision was clouding, his arms felt like lead, and a sort of stupor was taking him over. The Dream Mist was affecting him. The masks weren't strong enough! It wasn't merely drowsiness, either; it was a kind of lethargy, as if he had a bad cold and was fighting off the temptation to fall asleep. He knew that if he DID fall asleep, it may be for the last time…

    He looked over at the others. They, too, were showing signs of stupor. Leanne was struggling to stay on her feet, Fennel barely supporting her. The Pokemon weren't looking too good, either. Oshawott was still holding his scalchop, but looked as if it was too heavy for his paws. June had braced her vines on the grass, supporting her in an attempt to keep her from falling off to sleep. Audino was shivering, absolutely terrified at what was going on. Jim's gaze lingered on her for a second.

    Then, in a flash, an idea came to his mind. More than an idea: a desperate hope. He took out his Pokedex, scanned Audino, and looked at the results that came up. He snapped his fingers.

    "That's it! Audino, use Heal Pulse!"

    "H-Huh? Why?"

    "Musharna's under a lot of pain and anguish from the corrupted dreams! If you use Heal Pulse, maybe you can ease it!"

    "Oh! I'll try…"

    Audino cupped her paws, and a pink glow appeared within it. She threw her paws upward as if tossing up a beach ball, and the glow spread like a shockwave around them all. All in the vicinity could later have testified that being touched by the Pulse gave them a very relaxed feeling, if even for a brief moment. The Heal Pulse struck against Musharna, but it didn't seem to do anything.

    "It didn't work!" Audino cried out in despair.

    "Don't spread it out!" Jim said. "Concentrate it only on Musharna!"

    Nodding, Audino threw her paws forward. The glow returned, in a much darker pink, and a beam instead of a shockwave fired from it, striking Musharna. She wailed and roared, but as Audino kept the beam going.

    ”Away...get...away!”

    A ball of rainbow-colored light formed in front of Musharna, and fired in a beam straight for Audino.

    “Audino! Look out!” Jim yelled.

    He lunged forward and tackled Audino to the ground, the beam shooting past and hitting the ground with a dull explosion. Audino looked up in surprise.

    “You...you saved me,” she breathed.

    “Don’t mention it. Just concentrate on that Heal Pulse!”

    Audino nodded, and with Jim shielding her with his arms about her, she fired once more on Musharna.

    Once more she railed and screamed, but didn’t seem to be able to fire another attack. The Dream Mist was beginning to evaporate, the thick clouds thinning away. What was more, the drowsiness began to leave Jim; he felt awake and alert. Looking around, he could see the others recovering, as if a heavy weight had been taken from their backs.

    At last, there alone was Musharna, flailing and screaming, but finally, her cries ceased, her eyes closed, and she lay, prostrate, on the grass, as the last of the Dream Mist vanished into nothingness.

    Everyone gasped. Fennel and Munna rushed forward, kneeling by her. Musharna twitched, and her eyes opened, looking up at them. No longer were they glowing and blank, but red and gentle, like polished rubies.

    "Munna?…Fennel?" she asked. "…You're here!"

    "Oh, Musharna!"

    "Mother!"

    The three enveloped in each other in a warm group hug. Jim smiled at Leanne, who looked relieved at the results. He looked then at Audino, who looked astounded, as if unable to believe she had just done what she did. She looked at Jim, who nodded. She beamed and gave him a big hug around his waist. Jim grinned and stroked her head. All danger had been averted, and a family torn apart had been reunited once again…

    ***


    Jim and Leanne had returned to the Pokemon Center, as Fennel had said she wanted to make sure Musharna was well-protected from now on. Audino, after a little coaxing, was willing to go along with them, possibly still nervous about facing Nurse Joy after her desertion. As Jim had said, however, Nurse Joy was not the least bit angry with her. On the contrary, she hugged the Hearing Pokemon tightly.

    "Audino! Oh, Audino! I was so worried!" she said.

    Audino's eyes welled with happy tears at such a warm reception.

    "Actually, Nurse Joy," said Jim, "In light of the circumstances, I had an idea, if you're willing."

    "Oh?"

    Jim went over and whispered something in her ear. Leanne, Oshawott, and June were somewhat perplexed. Audino, on the contrary, seemed to comprehend what was going on, no doubt because of her exceptional hearing. She first looked surprised, then excited.

    "Oh, yes! That sounds like a wonderful idea!" Nurse Joy said. “Did you catch all that, Audino?"

    Audino nodded energetically.

    "What? What's going on?" Leanne asked, a little impatiently.

    "Patience, Leanne," said Jim, slyly. "I've figured out how to solve two problems in one. Wait here."

    With that, he, Nurse Joy, and Audino headed off to a separate room in the center labeled "PC Room". Leanne still didn't understand what was going on, but June had a look of dawning comprehension on her face, which gave way to a smile.

    About 10 minutes later, Jim and Nurse Joy returned, the former looking quite excited, but oddly, Audino wasn't with them. Jim had dialed a number on his X-Transceiver and was urging Leanne and the Pokemon to come over. They did so, and they could now see the face of Jim's mother.

    "Hi, Mom!"

    "Jim! Hello! I was just thinking about where you might be at this time."

    "I'm in the Pokemon Center of Striaton City."

    "Goodness! You've already made it to Striaton? It took your father nearly two weeks before he got there!…Oh! Who's that with you?"

    "This is Leanne. She's traveling with me."

    "Good afternoon, ma'am!" Leanne said, doffing her cap with a smile.

    "Pleased to meet you, dear! I'm so glad you've made a friend on your travels so early, Jim. But where are Cheren and Bianca?"

    "I haven't met up with them yet. I'm not sure where they could be."

    As he said it, his mind wandered to that one question that never ceased to cross his mind: where, at that moment, were Cheren and Bianca? What sort of Pokemon had they encountered?

    His thoughts were interrupted, however, by the sound of the doorbell from his mother's end of the call.

    "Oh! Excuse me, Jim. Someone's at the door."

    Jim saw her head to the door, heard her open it, and then heard her talking to someone, the voice of whom he knew must be Professor Juniper. His mother returned, holding a Poke Ball and looking thoughtful.

    "Jim," she said, "Professor Juniper came by. She gave me this Poke Ball and said it was from you."

    "It is," said Jim, his smile broadening, "Open it up, Mom."

    She opened the Poke Ball, and from it came…

    "Audino!" Leanne shouted, surprised and amused.

    So it was: Audino herself, smiling gently and warmly up at Jim's mother, who looked thoroughly perplexed.

    "Jim," she said, finally finding her voice, "what's this all about?"

    "I met her in Striaton," Jim said, still grinning, "She didn't want to be a nurse, so I talked it over with Nurse Joy, and I thought she'd be better at giving you a hand around the house. And this way, you'll have someone to keep you company while I'm away."

    His mother looked from him to Audino, and tears welled up in her eyes.

    "Jim," she said, thickly, "this is the sweetest thing you've ever done for me. Thank you…"

    "You're welcome," said Jim, tenderly. "I love you, Mom."

    "I love you too, sweetie…I, or I should say, we will be keeping you in our prayers."

    When she said "we", she put an arm around Audino, who beamed and gave Jim a little wave. Jim waved back, and with that, the call finished at both ends. Leanne was wiping her eyes with a corner of her shirt. June squeezed Jim's shoulder with her paws in a proud, affectionate way, and Oshawott was looking at him with an expression of admiration, as if moved by his touching actions.

    "That was so sweet of you," Leanne said.

    "I knew it'd make both of them happier," Jim said, "so the situation couldn't have been more perfect."

    "But, what will you do, Nurse Joy?" Leanne asked, looking at the matron.

    "It's all right," she said with a smile. "As long as she's happy, that's all I want."

    At that moment, the door opened, and Fennel appeared, Munna absent from her side.

    "There you are!" she said. "Come on, you two! We've put business off long enough. Follow me to my home."

    So, bidding farewell to Nurse Joy, Jim, Leanne, June, and Oshawott followed Fennel out the door and back into the main street of Striaton. As they did so, Jim looked out toward the Dreamyard, knowing that Musharna was now free of pain and anger, and hopefully would be from then on…

    My White 2 Team

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 11
    The Guy


    To the east, near the entrance to the Dreamyard, was a collection of houses in a small complex known as the Striaton Verde. Fennel led Jim and Leanne into this complex and to a house closest to a clear lake within it: #A113, just as Professor Juniper had said. Fennel unlocked the door and led them inside and up the stairs. Through the first door on the left, they found themselves in a bedroom, with two beds, a long table stacked with textbooks, blueprints, and papers, and a PC, sitting at which was a young girl, perhaps 10 or 11 years old, with pigtails and large glasses. She looked up when the three entered.

    "Hi, Fennel!" she said. "Are they who you were talking about?"

    "That's right. This is Jim and Leanne. Kids, this is Amanita, my little sister."

    "Hi."

    "How's it going?"

    "Pretty well," said Amanita. "I'm almost done with the latest upgrade, sis!"

    "Wonderful!"

    "Upgrade?" Leanne asked.

    "Amanita's the designer of the Unova Pokemon PC System," said Fennel, proudly.

    Jim and Leanne looked thunderstruck.

    "Y-You mean," Jim stammered, "the whole PC System in Unova was designed by the girl sitting in front of us??"

    "Yep!" said Amanita, cheerily.

    "That's…that's just amazing!"

    "Amanita's always been avid with computers," Fennel said. "I never even had to teach her. But I digress. We're distracting ourselves with business."

    "Right," Jim said. "Professor Juniper said you had something to give me that might prove useful."

    "Exactly. At first, I wasn't sure if I should. It's only just been perfected. Ironing out the bugs took quite a bit of time, you know. But from what I've heard from Professor Juniper, and after seeing how you helped calm Musharna, I feel you really do seem like the kind who can handle it. So, just hand me your Pokedex."

    Jim, not quite sure where this was going to lead, handed his Pokedex over somewhat reluctantly. Fennel took it over to the desk where the PC was situated, picked up a small computer chip tenderly with a pair of tweezers, and plugged it into a slot in the bottom of the Pokedex Jim had never noticed before. The screen flashed a few colors, and seemed to fill with numbers and a progress bar, as if it was downloading something, if that was even possible on a Pokedex. At last, the screen was blank again, and Fennel, grinning widely, handed it back to Jim.

    "There we are!"

    "Um, not to sound ungrateful, but what did you do?" Jim asked.

    "Don't worry about it," Fennel said, good-naturedly. "Like I said, this is a brand-new type of software Professor Juniper and I have been working at for a long while. You know that a Trainer can only carry six Pokemon at a time, right?"

    "Right."

    "And that, if you'd wanted to switch out your team with Pokemon in your PC Box or on-hold, you'd have to use a PC at a Pokemon Center, which may prove inconvenient in a pinch."

    "Yeah, I know that."

    "That's what this fixes," Fennel said, proudly. "The link that connects the transference of your extra Pokemon to a PC is your Pokedex, since it acts as your identification. With the chip I just installed, you can now access where your extra Pokemon are kept through your Pokedex and make transfers anywhere you want. There's also a lockout feature that keeps it from acting during a battle, as that would be considered cheating."

    Jim's jaw dropped. It sounded way too good to be true.

    "Are you serious?" he asked.

    "Deadly serious," said Fennel.

    "Well, this is great, Dr.," Jim said, at length, "but I won't really be able to use it much, seeing as how I've only got two Pokemon."

    "True, but once you do exceed six, you'll find out just how useful it really is."

    "Thanks, Dr. This means a lot."

    "Oh, call me Fennel," Fennel said, giving him a friendly nudge. "No need to be so stiff and formal, kiddo."

    "Well, I don't really know what I can do to-"

    "Don't even worry about it, Jim," Fennel interjected. "You're a good guy. The Professor likes you, and I can see why. Just don't be a stranger, you hear?"

    "All right," Jim said, grinning.

    Fennel then looked somewhat somber.

    "Really…I should thank you, Jim."

    "Huh?"

    "Munna and Musharna are like family to Amanita and me. If you hadn't come along, we might not have been able to help Musharna."

    Jim looked embarrassed.

    "Well, I suppose, but really, it was Audino-"

    "But it was you who told Audino to use Heal Pulse and concentrate it so that it only affected Musharna. I owe so much to you, Jim…"

    She suddenly grabbed Jim in a tight hug. Jim blushed even redder at this, mostly because his face was closely level to her chest. He could hear Leanne and Amanita giggling at his embarrassment, but said nothing. Finally, Fennel let go.

    "You're going to make us all proud, Jim. I know you are," she said. "Good luck."

    "Thanks, Doc- Fennel," Jim said, catching himself.

    He looked at Amanita, who smiled and winked in an encouraging way. With that, Jim and Leanne took their leave of the sisters, and started directing their way back to the Pokemon Center, as it was nearing sundown.

    "That was really nice of her to upgrade your Pokedex like that," Leanne said, speaking for the first time in a long while. "I wish I'd gotten one."

    "Well, like I said," Jim reminded her, "until I actually have a full team, I won't be able to use it."

    "That's true, but it's awfully handy and convenient. Must feel good to feel so special."

    "It is, sometimes," Jim admitted, "but other times, it feels kinda claustrophobic. I don't think I'd ever want to be a celebrity, if it means I won't have any breathing room or time to myself…"

    Leanne nodded knowingly, and they continued on their way.

    ***


    By next morning, Jim and Leanne were on their way again. This time, they had to head west to reach the next town, Nacrene City. As they went, they came upon the flourishing garden they saw when first entering Striaton City. The hedges were trimmed into the shapes of Pokemon, like Pidove. There was one, however, that Jim pondered over. It was in the shape of a rodent with a short, stocky build, long pointy ears, and a tail shaped like a lightning bolt.

    "What's this one of?" Jim asked. "I've never seen anything like it before."

    "I dunno," Leanne said, also studying the unknown hedge.

    "Pikachu," June said.

    "Gesundheit," replied Jim.

    June smacked her forehead in frustration.

    "I didn't sneeze, Jim. That Pokemon is named Pikachu."

    "Pikachu? Is it anywhere in Unova?"

    "No. It's one of the many Pokemon not native to Unova."

    "How do you know about it?"

    "Professor Juniper often deals with Pokemon that you don't normally find within the region. Her field is origins, after all."

    "Hmm…sounds like the kind of Pokemon my dad would have seen on his travels."

    "Oh! Your dad's traveled around too?" Leanne asked, excitedly. "Has he ever shown you what kind of Pokemon he's seen?"

    "I can't really see them if he isn't there to show them."

    Leanne's face fell. Comprehension dawned on her face.

    "You mean…he's still out there?"

    "For six years now," Jim said.

    Leanne gasped.

    "Six years?? Jim! How do you-"

    "I don't!" Jim said, snappishly, wheeling on her. "I don't know if he's ok! All I can do is hope he is! That’s all I’ve been doing for six years!"

    He glared at her, without really knowing why, but it faded when he saw the fear in Leanne's eyes at his behavior. He ran his hand over his face, regret etched on it.

    "Leanne…I'm sorry. I shouldn't have yelled like that…"

    "I know why you did," she said, sympathetically. "It's all right. I'd probably be the same way if my dad had been gone for six years…"

    Leanne gave his hand a comforting squeeze, and June nuzzled his cheek. Somehow, it felt good to have finally gotten his aggressions out, but even better to know his companions didn't think less of him because of it.

    The moment was interrupted, however, by a high-pitched scream to the north of the park. It seemed to be coming from a schoolhouse about 100 yards away. The two Trainers jumped and looked toward it at the sound.

    "What was that??" Leanne asked.

    "I dunno, but it sounded like trouble," Jim said. "Come on!"

    The two bolted for the schoolhouse, and upon arrival, they found a little girl, no older than 6, kneeling on the grass and sobbing into her hands. A young woman in her 20's, who Jim guessed was a teacher, was kneeling beside her, trying to comfort her. A sign nearby read "Striaton Day Care and Kindergarten". Jim approached the two.

    "What's the matter?" he asked, gently.

    The woman looked up.

    "It's terrible," she said. "Hannah's Pokemon was taken away from her, by force.”

    “That’s horrible!” said Leanne, aghast. “Who did it?”

    “Two strange people wearing weird costumes."

    Jim felt as if a stone had dropped into his stomach.

    "Weird costumes?"

    "Yes. They looked like they came out of a history book about the Middle Ages."

    Jim didn't need to hear anymore. His fists clenched, and blood pounded in his ears.

    "Team Plasma," Jim muttered.

    This was just too much. Preaching Pokemon liberation was one thing, but actually stealing a Pokemon from someone, from an innocent child, what's more…that was completely inexcusable!

    "Which way did they go?"

    "They headed for Wellspring Cave." answered the teacher, pointing westward.

    Jim looked at June, who nodded grimly.

    "We'll be back," Jim said, simply.

    He was not about to let them get away with something like this, not if he had something to say about it...

    ***


    The two humans and their Pokemon headed to the east, where they could see a large cave right near the edge of the sea. The cave didn’t go very far back, but it was still a prominent piece of rock. Some Patrat and Pidove were flocking about in an agitated way, as if they knew something was wrong.

    As soon as they got to the cave entrance, Jim took Echo's Poke Ball from his belt and let out the Bat Pokemon.

    "Do you know the way through Wellspring Cave?" he asked.

    "Like the back of my wing!" Echo said, proudly.

    "Lead the way, then, Echo. Team Plasma's afoot again."

    Upon hearing this, Echo frowned and nodded, flying into the entrance of the cave. Jim, Leanne, and their Pokemon followed.

    The cave was very cool in temperature, and there was the constant sound of running or dripping water. It wasn't too deep, either, as Jim had seen from the outside. From the entrance, he could already see the back of the cave, sunlight filtering through a hole near the floor, where the water streamed in constantly. All was quiet and still, and from where they stood, there was no sign of Team Plasma. Perhaps they had come that way to leave a false trail.

    Suddenly, from somewhere on Jim's right, there was a sound of movement, a sort of scuffling. The group whipped around, and sure enough, two male Team Plasma grunts were trying to restrain a Pokemon resembling a fawn, its fur orange on top and white on bottom, a small flower blossom on its head, between its ears.

    Despite his anger at this treatment, Jim still felt compelled to check it with his Pokedex. To his wonder, four images of the Pokemon appeared, each differently colored: orange, green, pink, and brown.

    "Deerling, the Season Pokemon. Deerling's coat changes color depending on the season. Due to its timidity towards humans, it prefers to travel in herds."

    Unfortunately, the voice from the Pokedex echoed in the cave, and the Team Plasma grunts looked up to see the group standing there.

    "Darn it! It's the kids from Accumula Town!"

    "How could they have found us??"

    They bolted for the door.

    "Echo, Air Cutter!"

    Echo flapped his wings rapidly, sending waves of energy for them. Shielding their faces, the grunts continued in their escape, buffeted by the Air Cutter, and were soon out in the open again. The Trainers gave chase immediately, but had not gone far when they were brought to a stop again.

    Someone had leaped from a tree and landed right in front of them.

    The stranger was tall and strongly built, with wild black hair and dark eyes, dressed in a long, dark-brown trench coat. He looked like a man who had roughed it for most of his life, as he had a scruffy beard, his skin was tanned and weather-beaten, and his coat was patched in several places. He just stood there, glaring at Team Plasma beneath black, heavy brows.

    "That's far enough," he said, in a voice as rough as his countenance.

    "What do you want?" one of the grunts asked, still trying to restrain the Deerling.

    "I heard you obtained that Deerling through cowardly means. Don't you have any sense of shame?"

    "We are sworn to free Pokemon from oppression," said the other grunt, "and if that means we must take them off the owner's hands for them, then so be it, if it will not be any other way."

    "And if that is not the desire of Pokemon?"

    "All Pokemon desire freedom."

    "Then you have no regard for the love a Pokemon and its owner can sustain. Return the Deerling before I force you to myself."

    "We shall see!"

    The grunt not holding the Deerling took out a Poke Ball.

    "Liepard, go!"

    A Liepard was released, crouched and teeth bared. The newcomer calmly took a Ball from his pocket.

    "Very well, then. Ferroseed, go!"

    From the Poke Ball came a Pokemon that looked like an overgrown plant seed. It was covered in silver armor and green spikes, and had yellow eyes. Almost automatically, Jim had his Pokedex out to check it.

    "Ferroseed, the Thorn Seed Pokemon. Ferroseed can climb cave walls using its spikes, and then absorbs minerals from the rock. When threatened, it fires spikes at its opponent."

    "A Steel type," Jim mused. "Looks like he's got the advantage, which is good for us."

    “Do we even know if he’s on our side?” Leanne asked.

    “He’s against Team Plasma. What other side would he be on?”

    "Liepard, Shadow Ball!"

    A black-and-purple ball, that looked as if it were made of shadows, formed in front of Liepard's mouth, and fired at Ferroseed. The stranger, however, was unmoved.

    "Energy Ball!"

    A greenish ball of energy, like a more pleasant version of Shadow Ball, formed in front of Ferroseed's face and shot at Liepard. The two attacks collided and resulted in a smoky explosion. Through it came the stranger's voice again.

    "Gyro Ball!"

    There was a whirring sound, and through the smoke came Ferroseed, spinning like a top, so fast it was a blur. It bowled Liepard right over, changed course, and whipped back, like a boomerang, smacking Liepard on the way back. Ferroseed landed neatly in front of its trainer and stopped spinning. The Team Plasma grunt was fuming.

    "I will not be made a fool of!" he bellowed. "You will know the might of Team Plasma! Liepard, Hyper Beam!"

    With a snarl, Liepard opened its mouth, and a ball of pink energy surrounded by white appeared in it. Then, it roared, and the ball became a massive beam of energy, that fired with such ferocity that Jim felt as if it could blow off the summit of a mountain. It came straight for Ferroseed, but its Trainer still showed no sign of worry.

    "Protect!"

    Ferroseed's entire body seemed to become enveloped in a clear, greenish bubble. The Hyper Beam struck and exploded, the force of the impact nearly knocking Jim and Leanne off their feet. When the smoke cleared, there was Ferroseed, still standing, the bubble not even affected. Liepard was panting from exhaustion.

    "Liepard! Do something!" the grunt yelled, desperately.

    "You know little of your own Pokemon," the newcomer said. "Hyper Beam is so powerful, any Pokemon that uses it needs time to recuperate. Which means, this battle is ours. Ferroseed, Energy Ball!"

    Once again, the ball of green energy formed in front of Ferroseed, and it shot like a cannonball at Liepard. It struck and exploded against the weakened Pokemon and sent it falling onto its side, too tired to get back up.

    Both the Team Plasma grunts were flabbergasted, but Jim and Leanne were jubilant, applauding the victory of the victor, who glanced at them and gave them the merest smile. The grunts were so stunned, in fact, that the Deerling gave its captor a hard kick with its back legs, forcing him to let go, and the Season Pokemon galloped as fast as it could back down the path, toward the schoolhouse.

    "Drat you…" growled the grunt with the Liepard. "Who are you?"

    The stranger didn't answer, but recalled Ferroseed to its Poke Ball. When, upon turning, the grunts saw they were cornered also by Jim and Leanne, they looked quite desperate. However, the other grunt pulled out a Poke Ball and called out,

    "Haze!"

    The Ball opened, but no one else saw what Pokemon it was, for the area around the grunts became clouded with a thick, black smoke.

    "No you don't!" Jim shouted. "Echo, Gust!"

    Echo flapped his wings rapidly, sending a strong wind to blow the smoke away, but when it was cleared, the Team Plasma grunts were gone.

    "Shoot! They escaped…"

    "Don't blame yourself," said the stranger. "He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day, I'm afraid. In any case, they didn't get away with their crime. The Deerling will have reunited with its owner by now."

    "Um…thanks for your help," Jim said. "But, who are you, really?"

    "Just a wandering Trainer," the man said. "I let the world name me what it wants. I'm not picky. And how about you? What do you call yourselves?"

    "Jim and Leanne."

    Leanne gave a weak little smile when she was introduced.

    "Well, Jim, Leanne," the man went on, "take my advice: never lose what love you possess for your Pokemon. Otherwise, you'll be giving people like that Team Plasma an easy target."

    "Never," Jim agreed. "I'd never do that."

    "Good. Hopefully, we'll meet again, under better circumstances…"

    With that, he turned around and, with his coat flapping in the breeze, was on his way again.

    "Talk about mysterious," Leanne said.

    "Yeah, but he's also pretty cool," Jim said. "That's the kind of guy I wouldn't mind learning a thing or two from…But come on, we need to check back with Hannah and her teacher."

    "Oh, right!"

    So, with that, the two started making their way back toward the Striaton Day Care and Kindergarten, Jim's mind still on the battle he had just witnessed…

    My White 2 Team

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 12
    A Friend Gained and Lost


    When the two returned to the Kindergarten and Daycare, they saw little Hannah hugging her Deerling tightly, crying with joy. Her teacher looked up as they approached.

    "I don't know how you did it," she said, "but you rescued Hannah's Deerling. How can I ever repay you?"

    "We weren't really doing this for a reward," Jim said, feeling a little embarrassed. "We just didn't want those crooks to get away with stealing a little kid's Pokemon."

    "Deerling's the only friend I ever had," said Hannah, looking up. "Mama gave her to me on my birthday. I don't know what I would've done without her…"

    The Deerling licked Hannah's forehead tenderly.

    "At least accept this," said the teacher. "It's extremely rare, so take good care of it."

    She held out what appeared to be an oversized glass lantern, but inside of it was a large egg, dark gray and streaked with red. Leanne looked at it with interest, then questioningly to Jim, who nodded. With an excited expression, she accepted the egg container and hugged it close to her plump body.

    "If you're ever coming this way again," continued the teacher, "we run a Pokemon Day Care center as well as a kindergarten, so if you want to leave your Pokemon with us for a little while, don't hesitate."

    She gave a polite bow.

    "Thanks," said Jim, pleasantly. "We'll bear it mind. Take care of yourselves!"

    The two trainers waved goodbye and headed on their way. As they did, Jim looked up to see that Echo was still out.

    "Oh! Sorry, Echo. I meant to say you did a fine job back there."

    "But, I didn't really do anything to help," said Echo, modestly.

    "Maybe, but what counts is that you were willing to help. That's what I'm proud of you for."

    "Aww…t'weren't nothing," said the embarrassed Woobat.

    Jim recalled him to his Poke Ball, but as soon as he had done so, the bushes nearby began to rustle. June leaped down from Jim's shoulder, ready for action.

    Out of the bushes leaped a Pokemon resembling a miniature zebra, its coal-black fur streaked with white lightning bolts, a shock of its white mane even shaped like a lightning bolt. Even its eyes were an electric blue set in yellow sclera. It pawed the ground and tried to look threatening.

    "A new Pokemon!" Jim said, excited.

    He brought out his trusty Pokedex once again.

    "Blitzle, the Electrified Pokemon. Its mane glows when discharging electricity, and it uses these glows to communicate with one another."

    "An Electric type! That'll be perfect on my team! Ok, June, go get it! Vine Whip!"

    June's vines whipped out and struck at Blitzle, but it began to surround itself in electricity, its mane glowing yellow as well, so as June's vines struck it, the electricity coursed down them and shocked her.

    "Man, that Blitzle's pretty clever," said Leanne.

    "Using electricity in an unconventional way to defend and inflict damage,” said Jim, a big smile on his face. "Just the kind of cunning I wanna see! Don't let it get to you, June! Leaf Blade!"

    June leaped into the air, somersaulting, the leaf on her tail glowing yellow. Blitzle, for its part, waited until June was close, and charged for her at an astonishing speed, a move even Jim knew was Quick Attack. The two struck each other, but June's Leaf Blade managed to hit the hardest, sending it crumpling. June regained her footing and brushed herself off.

    "Atta girl, June!" Jim encouraged. "Keep it on the ropes!"

    Blitzle got shakily back to its feet, and, to Jim and Leanne's confusion, seemed to be having a tantrum. It was stomping its hooves in the dirt, slowly getting faster and faster. Jim allowed himself a wave of confidence.

    "Obviously, it knows it's going to lose, so I say we take advantage of the momentary cease-fire. June, Leaf Tornado!"

    June leaped up and began spinning rapidly like a top. As she did so, a swirling cyclone of glowing leaves surrounded her. Finally, she launched everything straight for Blitzle, who was now stamping so hard that a cloud of dirt and dust had enshrouded it. The Leaf Tornado shot straight for the spot…but then the leaves were suddenly blasted away as Blitzle came charging straight for June, shrouded in flames!

    Jim and Leanne were caught completely off-guard.

    "JUNE! GET OUT OF THE WAY!" Jim yelled.

    June didn't need to be told twice. She leaped aside as Blitzle barreled past. Now, normally, Jim figured that as soon as Blitzle saw it had missed, it would pull a U-turn and charge back. Instead, however, Blitzle went right past the two trainers and slammed its head against a tree. The flames vanished from around its body and it collapsed onto its stomach, eyes rolling dizzily. Nobody could quite know what to make of this.

    "What…was that?" Jim asked, bewildered.

    "I think that was Flame Charge," Leanne said, just as amazed. "But you'd think a Pokemon that knew it naturally would have better control over it."

    "Yeah…"

    Once again, Jim's emotions brightened.

    "But this means it's an easier catch now!"

    "Always the optimist, aren't you?" Leanne asked, jokingly.

    Jim took an empty Poke Ball from his belt.

    "You're all mine, Blitzle! Poke Ball, GO!"

    He tosses the Ball straight for Blitzle, with all the speed and strength of a baseball pitcher. It struck Blitzle, opened, and made it disappear inside in a flash of red light. The Ball landed on the grass and began twitching, its button blinking. Several tense, silent moments passed as it went through these preliminaries…and then, with a beep, the red light vanished, and the Ball was still. Jim picked it up and held it like a trophy.

    "Looks like I've got me a Blitzle!"

    "Great job, Jim!"

    "Thanks. And a great job to you, June, for your battle efforts."

    June gave her usual calm little smirk at this praise.

    "Now that we've got a new team member," Jim went on, "I'd say it's time to give him a good test drive. Come on out!"

    He clicked the Poke Ball's button, and from it, in front of Jim, appeared his newly-acquired Blitzle. Capture seemed to have had little effect on its attitude, however. It still pawed the ground in a threatening way, trying to appear intimidating.

    "Tough little fella, aren't you?" Jim asked, pleasantly.

    Blitzle's ears pricked at this.

    "You talking to me?" it asked, in a male voice both young and tough.

    "I don't see you looking at anyone else, so you gotta be talking to me."

    "That 'gangster' attitude will only get you so far, Jolt," said Jim, amused. "Now then, as a new-"

    "Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa," interjected Jolt, who looked even angrier than before. "What's this 'Jolt' junk??"

    "Well, I just thought that'd be a nice nickname for you."

    "And who says I wanted some prissy little nickname?" snapped Jolt. "When a Pokemon's born what it is, let it keep its family name! That's what I say!"

    "I've always felt it gives Pokemon individuality," Jim replied with a shrug.

    "'Individuality'. Psh! I'm me, and that's good enough for me. Just because you caught me doesn't mean I'm gonna come quietly. Remember that!"

    "I'll bear it in mind," said Jim, wryly.

    Jim's calm responses to Jolt's snarky attitude seemed to make the latter even more frustrated, as if he knew arguing would yield nothing.

    "I'm not gonna pretend that you didn't put up a good fight, though. Using your own electricity to imitate a Static effect was pretty clever."

    A compliment like this seemed to catch Jolt somewhat off guard.

    "W-Well," he said, trying to catch himself, "I've always wanted to have Static."

    Here his attitude returned.

    "But Blitzle can't learn it."

    "Yeah, I saw it in your Pokedex entry. According to it, Blitzle can only know Lightningrod and Motor Drive, and you've got Motor Drive,"

    To Jim's confusion, Jolt seemed to begrudge hearing this knowledge of his Ability.

    "Well, that's nothing to be disappointed at: a Speed boost when hit by an Electric attack." he said, encouragingly.

    "Sure it is! Who's gonna be stupid enough to hit an Electric type with an Electric attack, moreover when getting hit by one will make you faster?"

    "You'd be surprised," Jim said, in the same wry tone as before. "Many Trainers act impulsively under duress, or when there's no options left. Besides, there are other ways to get the same effect without needing an opposing Electric type."

    Jolt looked bewildered at this, but Jim went on.

    "In any case, let’s talk about that last attack you used."

    "You got a problem with my Flame Charge?" Jolt asked, angrily.

    "Not a "problem", per se," Jim replied. "You've got amazing running speed in that, and no doubt devastating power. It's just, you're not too good controlling it."

    Jolt glared daggers at him, but he took no notice.

    "I mean, when a Pokemon dodges, you wanna try to turn yourself back around, or at least stop."

    Jolt's mane crackled, and for an instant, he looked like he was about to zap Jim. Leanne tried to run forward, but Oshawott gripped her shoulder and shook his head, as if to say "Wait and see." So she watched, egg-case still held in her arms, as Jim and Jolt had a stare-down, neither moving.

    Jim's calm, steady gaze never left Jolt's eyes, filled with anger and bitterness. At last, however, Jolt, with an anguished neigh, gave the grassy dirt a very hard stomp with his hoof, electricity coursing down his leg into the ground, so that, for a moment, the grass around him seemed to glimmer. He then hung his head, refusing to look up. Jim came over and knelt beside him, Leanne looking concerned.

    "Jolt," Jim said, gently.

    Jolt looked up. There were angry tears in his eyes.

    "Go on, laugh," he said, in a husky, bitter voice, as if trying to hold his tears back. "I'm the first in my herd to learn Flame Charge, and I can't even control it! You ain’t the first to make fun of me!"

    He looked away again, but Jim put a sympathetic hand on his neck.

    "You can, if you learn to develop it. All you need is someone to guide you, and I think I'm the guy for it. All I ask if for you to trust me."

    Jolt was silent for a long while, and when he looked up at Jim again, it seemed as if his whole demeanor had changed. There was a sort of respect glistening in his electric-colored eyes. A small smile crossed his muzzle, and he nodded.

    "I'll do the best I can," he said.

    He then rested his head against Jim's chest, giving him a nuzzle that was, while not very affectionate, was still a sign of his friendship. Jim grinned and petted his mane, while June, Leanne, and Oshawott looked relieved to see a crisis having been averted.

    The journey from Striaton to Nacrene was a little lengthier, taking about 5 days, by Leanne's judgment. This gave Jim plenty of time to get acquainted with Jolt and his abilities.

    As his rude attitude had just been a way to keep up appearances, Jolt was still rather impulsive, reckless, and scrappy, but was no longer treating Jim like an enemy. As both had an interest in battling, they had found a common bond to strengthen their new partnership. So, as they progressed, Jim had Jolt go through the routines he had June and Echo participate in: battling whatever wild Pokemon they came across. As with Routes 1 and 2, the Pokemon were all the same, with the exception of Blitzle. At first Jolt was reluctant to fight them, not because he didn't think he was strong enough, but because he was worried he may encounter members of his old herd. Luckily for him, none of the Blitzle they encountered over their time traveling knew him.

    Jolt had a variety of different-typed attacks: Quick Attack, Shockwave (which sent a huge lightning bolt guaranteed to never miss), Stomp (striking with both of his sturdy hooves), and Flame Charge. Jolt's shortcomings in regard to this latter attack were only emphasized when Jim found out Flame Charge granted the user an exponential boost in speed, making control even more difficult. However, Jim was patient, and monitored Jolt's attempts, which currently still left something to be desired. Jim made a mental note to visit the next Battle Club he came to, as he knew that if anyone could resolve such a training issue, they could.

    As they went along, Jim noticed something else changing besides Jolt's attitude. June and Oshawott had begun walking together, which in itself was odd, as June had always made it a point to keep her distance. Oshawott was still trying to make romantic advances on the beautiful Snivy, and while she still blew him off with retorts, Jim could see it was more playful banter than downright snarkiness. She was even laughing at some of the jokes he told.

    "And so the Frillish turned to the Joltik and responded, "That's no Stunfisk! That's Grandpa!"

    It was actually the first time Jim had ever heard June laughing or having a good time, and that was a good sign for him. To him, with upbeat Leanne, eccentric Oshawott, and now June with her softening demeanor, it was more than he could ask for, if it weren't for Cheren and Bianca's absence. They would have felt right at home.

    But then, something happened to change Jim's opinion of that idea for quite some time…

    What happened was that, four days after leaving Striaton, when it was determined they would reach Nacrene City in the morning, Jim and Leanne had all of their Pokemon out at the same time, so they could enjoy the beautiful scenery together. By this point, Jolt had mellowed considerably, and was treating Jim with the respect and familiarity that June or Echo did, and didn’t mind walking beside him.

    As the group was approaching a row of hedges, tall and bushy, Jim could have sworn he heard voices from the other side: a boy and a girl. There was something familiar about them…then, it hit him like a punch in the face.

    Cheren and Bianca!

    Here they were, and he'd caught up with them!

    "What-?" Leanne was about to ask, but Jim motioned for her to wait and be quiet.

    He decided he'd see what they were talking about, then jump out and surprise them. Boy, would they be amazed to see him turn up completely out of nowhere…So, with his hands, he made a gap in the hedge and peered through.

    There they were, sure enough, looking perfectly fine. Cheren didn't seem as pale as he usually was, and Bianca's hair wasn't as neat as always, but otherwise, nothing had changed. Bianca was cradling her Oshawott in her arms, and Cheren's Tepig was standing by his side. Jim was a little concerned to see that Bianca was looking a bit put out.

    "The first time I see you in almost a week, and this is how you welcome me?" Bianca asked, in a hurt tone.

    "I'm sorry," said Cheren, "I was just trying to concentrate on my training, and you bouncing in like that threw off my focus."

    "Of course I 'bounced in'! I haven't seen you or Jim in so long! I still wonder if he's ok."

    "We left pretty early. I'd say he's at least a day behind."

    "Why did you smile when you said that?"

    Jim felt an unpleasant tingling, but wasn't quite sure why.

    "What are you talking about?"

    "You grinned when you said Jim was behind us. Don't you want to see him again? I really miss him."

    "I'm sure you do, and you have my sympathies, Bianca. It's because I know it won't take long for him to catch up again, considering him."

    His voice had become somewhat icy at these last few words, and Jim had that unpleasant feeling again.

    "What's that supposed to mean?"

    "Bianca, you haven't been blind to everything that's happened, have you? He can talk to Pokemon. He was recognized and rescued by Reshiram. Professor Juniper's always treating him like her favorite nephew. He tamed a Pokemon nobody could ever tame before. He's way too perfect for his own good. The sooner I can distance myself from him, the better."

    Jim felt as if a shower of ice cubes had dropped from his chest into his stomach. His brain felt numb, as if someone was pinching it. This couldn't be happening. This wasn't the Cheren he'd known, the Cheren he grew up with. The Cheren that was his best friend would never be saying things like this.

    Apparently, Bianca thought so too, for she gave Cheren a look like she was convinced he was out of his mind.

    "How can you say that?! Jim's been our best friend since we could walk!"

    "Maybe, but back then, he wasn't such an attention magnet. No, Bianca, he'll only get in my way of my true goal."

    "Which is?"

    "You haven't guessed by now? The next champion of the Unova League. They say the current one's been around for years, so I want to present an impressive challenge against him. The sooner I can get there before Jim, the better."

    "Cheren…"

    "My mind's made up, Bianca. Now, if you want to come with me or not, that's your choice, but I'm moving on. Come on, Tepig."

    Cheren brushed past the stunned girl and headed westward, Tepig trotting briskly beside him. After standing around for a few moments, absolutely bewildered, Bianca wiped her eyes and headed down the path as well. Jim had gone unnoticed, and it was for the best, because he never would have forgiven himself if they could see him, peering through the hedge only feet away, tears of anger and heartbreak running down his face…

    My White 2 Team

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    Chapter 13
    Cheren vs. Lenora


    "Jim? Jim! What is it? What's going on?"

    Leanne, who'd started to grow impatient, began nudging Jim's shoulder, as she had no idea what was going on. After a time, he backed out of the hedge slowly, almost like a machine. He just stared straight ahead as he straightened up, still completely stunned by what had just happened. Leanne and the Pokemon all looked at him with deep concern on their faces. June approached and touched his leg, tentatively.

    "Jim? Are you all right?"

    "…No…" Jim replied, his voice hollow, almost dead. "…Cheren…Bianca…"

    June gave a start, and Leanne perked up.

    "The friends you told me about?” Leanne asked. “What happened? Are they hurt?"

    "No…They're fine…In fact…"

    Jim bent down and grabbed a thick stick off the ground. His grip tightened on it, as if he were trying to snap it in two.

    "They're better off without me…Cheren said so himself!"

    He struck at the hedge with the stick like a sword, slashing at it in a transport of rage. Leanne covered her mouth with her hands in horror, as June, Jolt, Echo, Oshawott, and Pidove could only watch on in shock as Jim struck here and there: at the hedge, at the ground, at the air, all the while his eyes blazing with anger, and tears running down his face.

    "Too perfect for my own good, am I? An attention magent, am I?! At least I'm not trying to take advantage of it! Who said I wanted it?! The least he could do was support me, but no! He wants to be Champion andforget-about-our-friendship!"

    He swung the stick down so hard, it actually snapped in two. He threw the half he was still holding away and, turning to the path ahead, screamed,

    "IS THIS HOW IT ENDS?! AFTER ALL THE YEARS WE'VE BEEN FRIENDS?! WHAT HAPPENED TO 'BROS FOREVER', HUH?!?! ANSWER ME!!!"

    Leanne was white as a sheet as she watched Jim in this transport of rage, but also felt a soreness in her heart as she pieced together what had led to it. Then Jim sank to his knees, threw himself onto the ground, and, covering his face in his arms, began to weep bitterly.

    Everyone ran over to him, concern etched on every face. June came over and gave him a tender lick on his cheek. Echo perched on his shoulder, patting his back gently with his wing. Jolt gave him an encouraging nudge with his muzzle. With what seemed to be an effort of self-control, Jim got into a sitting position, his anger having been exchanged for misery.

    Leanne got down on her knees and wrapped her arms around him. All of their Pokemon gathered around to give Jim their warm affections in a group hug, something he greatly appreciated, as some of the pain vanished from his face, but he still looked downcast.

    "Jim," June said. "It hurts, I know it must, but you need to understand. I think Cheren's just a little…jealous. You said he wants to be the Champion. I think he's under the impression that you'll surpass him with what's happened to you."

    "But I never wanted any of that weird stuff to happen!"

    "I know, I know, but there's some things we just can't change. Maybe it's your destiny to be…more than normal. At any rate, it’s too early to go beating yourself up about this. Things may change."

    Jim was silent for quite some time, and in that time, his anguish had now visibly ebbed away, so that Leanne and the others looked relieved at his change of tone when he spoke again, as he stroked June’s smooth scales.

    "I suppose you may be right, June. Besides, it's not as if they've both abandoned me. Bianca might still be on my side."

    "There you go!" Leanne put in, hoping to keep up his confidence. "Anyway, I don't think you should really hold it against Cheren. He just doesn't understand how you really feel about all this. You just need to prove to him you don't mean to 'steal the spotlight'."

    This idea seemed to bolster Jim even further. He smiled at his female friend.

    "Thanks, Leanne," he said, and, to the surprise of everyone, he gave her a small kiss on the cheek.

    Leanne, who had a rosy complexion usually, was as red as an apple from this unexpected display of affection. Still, she seemed flattered by it, and gave Jim a closer hug than before. Oshawott looked at June, who gave him a little smile. It wasn't exactly brimming with affection, but it was a friendly smile, and that seemed good enough for the charismatic Water type, and he reciprocated with his own smile. Echo, however, seemed to interpret it as something else completely, and he began flitting around, squeaking with joy, so that both June and Jolt gave him an annoyed glance.

    "Thanks, guys. I should've known better than to lose my cool like that. Now let's keep moving. Nacrene City awaits!"

    This proclamation was followed by a chorus of cheers by his companions, and they were soon on their way once more, the sun sinking lower and lower all the while.

    ***

    As they expected, by next morning, after breakfast, with Jolt, Echo, and Pidove put back into their Poke Balls for rest, the group at last arrived in Nacrene City.

    It was a city of, to put it simply, unusual architecture. Every building seemed to have been refurbished from old warehouses, but they were newly and vibrantly painted and the windows were made of colorful stained glass. An old train track ran to the south of the town, overgrown with weeds, and looking as if it hadn't been used in many years. To the north was a large marble building that seemed to be a museum. West of this building was a small diner, and south of both was a Pokemon Center and Battle Club. In short, Nacrene City seemed to be a very old town, but rich with artistic and historical value.

    "Wow…" said Jim, amazed at what he saw. "It's so…rustic."

    "And colorful too!" said Leanne. "It's like we walked into a Renaissance painting. What should we do first?"

    "I'm actually a little interested in that museum. Let's see what kind of exhibits they have."

    "Great idea!"

    So the two and their faithful Pokemon headed for the impressive building and stepped inside. There was only one room, it seemed, devoted to exhibits, but it was very expansive. Artifacts and what appeared to be pieces of stone were set in glass cases on a polished, tiled floor. A skeleton of something like a dragon stood against one wall. A little golden mask, in the make of a simple but sad face sat in a similarly cushy case. There was a desk in the corner, with a door behind it, but Jim couldn't tell what it could lead to.

    "Welcome, guests!"

    The voice was the first and only sound they had heard upon entering, and it startled them. They turned to see a neat-looking man in a gray suit and glasses standing behind them.

    "Enjoying our exhibits?"

    "Oh, yes," said Leanne, having gotten over her shock. "It's all so interesting."

    "Nacrene City has a reputation for being rich in historical, and artistic, backgrounds, so I'm glad you think so. My name is Hawes, and I'm the curator of the Nacrene Museum."

    "I'm Jim, and this is Leanne," said Jim. "Do you think you could tell us where the Nacrene Gym is? We didn't see any building that looked like it when we arrived."

    At this, Hawes smiled in a sly way.

    "You've been to Striaton City, correct?"

    "Er, yes."

    "And where was the Gym located?"

    "…In a café."

    "So then, where do you supposed the Nacrene Gym could be, following that logic?"

    Jim pondered this for a few moments, then his jaw dropped.

    "You…you don't mean-" Hawes's smile broadened.

    "But I do. The Nacrene Museum and the Nacrene Gym are one in the same."

    "Really? That's awesome!"

    "Oh, I quite think so too. I would take you to the Gym right now, but the Gym Leader is already arranged to battle another Trainer. Which reminds me, I have to hurry along to referee the match."

    "That's ok," said Jim. "Leanne and I can watch. It'll be nice to see what I'm up against."

    "Excellent strategy, sir. Follow me, then."

    Hawes led Jim and Leanne through a door to the back of the exhibit room, and the two found themselves in the biggest library any of them had ever seen. Towering bookcases, their shelves packed with thousands of books, lined the room, along with small tables and chairs for studying or reading. Nacrene City seemed to really be a center for creativity, as far as Jim could tell. Hawes led them quickly through the library to another door. Then, a thought came to Jim.

    "Um, Hawes? Do you know who the opposing Trainer is?"

    "Why, yes. He says his name is Cheren, from Nuvema Town."

    Leanne looked startled and gave Jim a worried look, but Jim simply looked grave and resolute, as if he knew this answer was coming.

    "Why, is he a friend of yours?" Hawes asked, not quite sure what to make of Jim's demeanor.

    "Something like that," said Jim. "But we'd appreciate it if we could watch the battle with the crowd, if there is one, where he won't be…distracted by our presence."

    "Understood," said Hawes.

    He opened the door, and they found themselves in a small hall that only had another hall and a staircase to the right.

    "Take those stairs to the gallery. You should be able to intermingle with the crowd up there. Enjoy the battle!"

    With a smile and nod, he entered the doors straight ahead. Jim and Leanne took the stairs, which went up for only about half a floor, and went through the corresponding doors to find themselves in the crowd seating area. There were several spectators, but still plenty of good seats. The two seated themselves in the middle, next to a young man with curly hair on Leanne's side. Down on one side of the battlefield, sure enough, was Cheren, and standing on the other side was the Gym Leader.

    She was tall and dark-skinned, with a large afro of blue hair accentuated by a red-and-cream headband. She had strong-looking arms and an apron slung over her shoulder, almost like a cape. She seemed like a mix between a learned college professor and an even-tempered mother.

    "So who's the Gym Leader?" Jim asked.

    "That's Lenora," said the man sitting near them. "She specializes in Normal-type Pokemon, only super-affected by the brutal force of Fighting type attacks, and immune to the ghastly influence of Ghosts. Not only that, but Normal types are capable of learning a smorgasbord of moves of many types! It's truly wonderful: such a simple type, yet it yields so much…"

    Confused by such an artistic description, Jim looked past Leanne to see who she was sitting next to. He was tall and slim, with bright, merry eyes, dressed in red and green, with a belt buckle shaped like a butterfly. He was carrying a sketchpad and had a freshly-sharpened pencil in hand.

    There was something familiar about his appearance…then, suddenly, it hit Jim like a Tackle attack to the head.

    "Ah! I know who you are!"

    The person turned to look at him.

    "Oh? I don't believe we've met before."

    "But I've seen you before! You're Burgh, the artist from Castelia City! My mom and I saw you on a televised auction!"

    "Ah, yes," said Burgh, flattered. "I remember that particular auction, seeing as how someone's Minccino mistakenly believed that my painting, Trubbish's Nest, was filthy and required dusting!"

    He laughed heartily.

    "So what brings you here, Burgh?" Leanne asked.

    "Well, I'm on a bit of a vacation, so to speak. Nacrene City is actually my true hometown, but alas!"

    He struck a dramatic pose.

    "The siren call of stardom has drawn me from my place of birth to regale the world with my visual creativity…And, in any case, I wouldn't miss a good battle from Lenora while I'm here."

    "So you and Lenora are friends?"

    "Something like that," Burgh answered, simply. "Oh! It seems they're about to start!"

    Burgh sat back, drawing pad and pencil at the ready, Jim and Leanne leaning over for a better look. Hawes had taken his place between Cheren and Lenora. His voice rang loud and clear through the stadium.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to today's battle here at the Nacrene City Gym! The challenger, Cheren of Nuvema Town, has agreed to battle Nacrene City Gym Leader Lenora in a two-on-two battle. Each side will use two Pokemon, with no time limit. Let the battle commence!"

    Lenora took a Poke Ball from the hip pocket of her pants, while Cheren took one from his belt.

    "Lillipup, go!"

    She threw her Ball, and from it appeared the little Puppy Pokemon Jim had seen so often, but unlike most, this one was ready for action, crouched and growling. This display of toughness only managed to endear it even more among the female spectators, even Leanne.

    Cheren, however, was unfazed.

    "Go, Roggenrola!"

    From his Ball came a Pokemon Jim had never seen before yet. It looked like a blue rock, but it had a pair of tiny brown feet and a protrusion like an antenna on its head. There was a yellow, hexagonal hole in its front, like a huge eye. Jim brought out his Pokedex for this oddity.

    "Roggenrola, the Mantle Pokemon. Roggenrola possesses very exceptional hearing and can detect sounds inaudible to humans. Within its body is a boundless energy core."

    "A Rock type against a Normal type. Looks like he has this in the bag," Jim said.

    "I wouldn't be too sure," said Burgh. "Gym Leaders like Lenora are always prepared when the odds seem against them."

    The three fell silent now, as the battle began.

    "Lillipup, Shadow Ball!"

    Lillipup opened its mouth, and a ball of black and purple energy formed in front of it, before firing at Roggenrola.

    "Roggenrola, Rock Blast!"

    A stone surrounded by brownish energy appeared in front of Roggenrola's face and launched itself at the Shadow Ball. The two attacks collided, resulting in a cloud of smoke.

    "Now, Headbutt!"

    Through the haze, Roggenrola leaped forward as if it were on a trampoline and rammed right into Lillipup, sending it skidding to a halt several feet back. Lenora smiled.

    "Not bad, Cheren, not bad," she said. "But this is only the beginning. Lillipup, Thunderbolt!"

    To the shock and amazement of everyone, Lillipup's little body began glowing with an aura of electricity, and then it sent forth a massive bolt of lightning straight for Roggenrola. Cheren was so caught off guard he didn't have time to give a command, so Roggenrola was blasted by the Thunderbolt, lighting up the arena. However, despite the blast, Roggenrola was still standing strong.

    "Roggenrola, Rock Blast, once again!"

    Again, a rock surrounded in energy appeared before Roggenrola and blasted at Lillipup. The nimble puppy dashed to one side to avoid it, but then another rock was tossed, and its evasion wasn't as smooth this time. Two more fired and struck poor Lillipup where it stood, wearing it down.

    "Ah, the multi-hit wonder of moves like Rock Blast," said Burgh. "If Pokemon like Roggenrola knew the Ability Skill Link, itt would be far more potent…"

    Lillipup looked like it was wearing down, and, judging by Lenora's face, it was clear it was all or nothing now.

    "Lillipup, Take Down!"

    Shakily, but still toughened, Lillipup crouched, and seemed to be waiting to pounce, all the while its body tensing and brimming with white energy. At last, it charged straight for Roggenrola, but Cheren looked completely confident.

    “Headbutt!” he shouted.

    Roggenrola launched itself forward like a missile, colliding head-on with Lillipup. The blow was sharp that Jim could swear the stands actually shook a little. In any case, the blow seemed to have been too much for Lillipup, as it was tossed backward against the wall, where it slumped. Hawes raised his right arm.

    "Lillipup is unable to battle! Roggenrola wins!"

    The spectators erupted into applause. Even Jim, in spite of himself, couldn't help joining in. Lenora called Lillipup back.

    "Nice work, Cheren. Make no mistake, though, it's about to get tougher."

    “I embrace the challenge, Lenora,” said Cheren, in his calm way. “I’m ready.”

    (At least his politeness hasn’t changed...)

    Lenora smiled.

    "We'll see. Watchog, go!"

    She threw her next Ball, and the Pokemon replacing Lillipup was revealed to be something like a lanky meerkat. Its fur was brownish-red accentuated with yellow stripes. It had a long tail tipped in a white tuft, large cheeks, a pointed incisor protruding from its upper lip, and large, intimidating eyes, red with a yellow band. Jim's Pokedex was out once more.

    "Watchog, the Lookout Pokemon, and the evolved form of Patrat. It drives off enemies by shooting Berry seeds it stores in its cheeks. It can intimidate foes by shining the luminescent bands on its body."

    "So that's what a Patrat evolves into," said Jim. "They do look kinda similar."

    "And it's fully evolved," said Burgh, "meaning it can know more moves than Lillipup, making it a much more dangerous foe."

    Cheren didn't seem to have this same reluctance, as he was giving Roggenrola its first command.

    "Rock Blast!"

    Roggenrola fired another barrage of stone projectiles, four this time.

    "Dig!"

    Just like Pansage had done against June, Watchog burrowed into the ground like a gopher, just avoiding the Rock Blast. Everyone leaned forward, hoping to see where the crafty Pokemon was going to pop up. Jim figured that, like Pansage, it would come up right behind and pull a sneak attack. However, the ground directly beneath Roggenrola shuddered, and the Mantle Pokemon was tossed into the air as Watchog leaped up from the dirt. Cheren, momentarily taken by surprise, acted immediately.

    "Rock Blast, again!"

    Roggenrola twisted itself around, but this seemed to be what Lenora wanted.

    "Confuse Ray!"

    Watchog's eyes lit up with a yellow light as glowing orbs surrounded its body, and then those orbs were fired right at Roggenrola, whose attack stopped. The two Pokemon landed back on the battlefield, but Roggenrola seemed very unsteady on its feet.

    "It's confused," Burgh said, gravely. "Now Roggenrola's going to be hard-pressed to land a hit."

    This logic didn't seem to present itself to Cheren, however, as he still seemed ready to fight as before.

    "Roggenrola, Headbutt!"

    Still swaying dizzily, Roggenrola tried to charge at Watchog, but Lenora was ready.

    "Watchog, Focus Blast!"

    Watchog cupped its paws in front of its body, and a glowing ball of blue energy formed between them. It shot the ball straight at Roggenrola, colliding with it and sending it slamming into the opposite wall, where it slumped and didn't get back up. Hawes raised his left arm.

    "Roggenrola is unable to battle! Watchog wins!"

    A section of the crowd who seemed to be supporting Lenora burst into applause. Jim was quite stunned by what happened.

    "Wow. She really does know how to cover her Pokemon's weaknesses."

    "No kidding," said Leanne. "That was awesome!"

    "I just wonder what Cheren has left."

    Cheren recalled Roggenrola and took out another Poke Ball.

    "Your Watchog's impressive, Lenora," he said, "but this Pokemon is my pride and joy. With him at my side, we shan’t lose. Tepig, it's all up to you!"

    From the Poke Ball came Cheren's Tepig, snorting flames as a sign of its perfect health.

    "This should be interesting," June said, quietly. "Tepig was never much of a fighter back at the lab, so let's see how he holds up now."

    She didn't say it to Jim, but there was something about Tepig that interested her: a certain look in his eyes, one of confidence and coolness, much like Cheren.

    From there, the battle commenced.

    "Tepig, Ember!"

    Tepig breathed in and snorted a shower of flames straight for Watchog.

    "Dig!" Lenora commanded.

    Watchog once again burrowed underground, avoiding the flames. Tepig looked this way and that, trying to determine where it'd come up. Suddenly, the ground below it began to shiver, just like it did with Roggenrola. This time, Cheren was ready.

    "Tepig, dodge and use Ember again!"

    Tepig leaped aside and turned as Watchog burst from the ground, and then once again snorted flames at it. The fire washed over the Lookout Pokemon and scorched it, causing it to cover its face with its arms.

    "Now use Tackle!"

    Tepig crouched and charged straight for the incapacitated Watchog. Lenora, however, had other plans.

    "Low Kick!"

    Watchog struck quickly like a martial artist and punted Tepig across the stadium, where he slammed into a wall and fell down. He got back to his feet, angry.

    "Now, Flame Charge!"

    Just as Jolt had done, Tepig began stomping the ground, kicking up dust until he was enshrouded, and then charged forward, cloaked in fire.

    "Watchog, Confuse Ray!"

    Again, Watchog's eyes glowed and the orbs of light flew from its body. To Jim's astonishment, they penetrated through the Flame Charge and struck Tepig, so that the Fire Pig swerved dangerously and veered to Watchog's left, hitting the wall opposite the spectator seating area. The flames vanished, and Tepig stumbled about, dizzied by both the collision with the wall and the Confuse Ray.

    Cheren gritted his teeth in exasperation as Lenora smiled again.

    "You put up a good effort, Cheren," she said, "but it's time to wrap this up. Watchog, Focus Blast!"

    Watchog once again cupped his paws together, forming a large ball of blue energy between them, and then tossed it straight for the senseless Tepig.

    "Tepig! Do something!" Cheren yelled in desperation.

    This seemed to knock Tepig back to his senses. He shook his head briskly, saw the Focus Blast coming, and then quick as a blink, activated Flame Charge. But as he blasted forward to meet the attack, another glow seemed to be happening within the flames. Tepig seemed to be bathed in a bluish light, and seemed to be growing bigger, changing shape. Jim and Leanne looked utterly astonished, as did their Pokemon. Burgh himself was just as transfixed as they were.

    "Unbelievable…Evolving in the middle of an attack…"

    "Tepig's evolving??" Jim asked, surprised. Cheren must've really been working him, for him to evolve so soon..."

    The Flame Charge struck the Focus Blast, and the two attacks cancelled out in a large explosion. Through the smoke, Watchog could be seen…but Tepig was nowhere in sight. In its place was a totally different Pokemon. It also looked like a pig, but it was bipedal, and there didn't seem to be a distinction between its head and body. It was very stocky, with a pair of small pointed teeth and a black coloring that made it look like it was wearing a wrestling outfit and gloves. Its tail was coiled and puffy at the end.

    Both Jim and Cheren took out their Pokedexes.

    "Pignite, the Fire Pig Pokemon, and the evolved form of Tepig. There is a flame burning inside Pignite's body, that it fuels with food. It flares up this fire to make itself stronger and faster."

    The Pokemon stomped the ground like a sumo wrestler, looking intimidating. Lenora and Watchog were both quite surprised, but Cheren was jubilant.

    "Way to go, Tepig! Or, should I say, Pignite!"

    Pignite grinned as it continued to stare down Watchog.

    "This is unbelievable!" Burgh said, excitedly. "Not only has Tepig evolved at a critical moment, but Pignite's a Fire and Fighting type! It has a better chance now!"

    "Boy, some people get all the luck, don't they?" said Jim.

    Lenora, however, was calm once again.

    "A surprise evolution out of nowhere? I'm impressed, Cheren. Let's see how it holds up. Watchog, Low Kick!"

    Watchog lunged at Pignite foot-first.

    "Flamethrower!"

    Pignite breathed in deeply and expelled an enormous stream of flames from his mouth straight for Watchog, scorching it and stopping it mid-kick. Watchog fell back onto its feet, but was noticeably more run-down. Once again, it seemed Lenora knew it was all or nothing.

    "Ok, Watchog, put everything you have into one last Focus Blast!"

    Watchog cupped its paws once more, creating a ball significantly larger than before, and threw it at Pignite with all the force it could muster. Cheren, however, was smiling.

    "Arm Thrust! Send it back!"

    Pignite's forearms began to glow with a white light, and then, bringing both of his arms back, just as the Focus Blast was about to hit, he threw his arms forward and shoved against the Blast, sending it flying back toward Watchog, who was too shocked and weak to try to dodge and took the attack full force. With a ground-shaking boom, the ball exploded and threw Watchog so hard against the wall that it cracked. It then fell to the floor on its stomach and didn't get back up again. Everyone gasped. Hawes raised his right arm.

    "Watchog is unable to battle! Pignite wins, which means the victor is Cheren from Nuvema Town!"

    The spectator's box erupted into wild applause at such a turnout. Jim and Leanne were absolutely breathless. Burgh was scribbling with great energy on his sketchpad, as if trying to draw something committed to recent memory. Lenora knelt by Watchog and put a hand to its shoulder.

    "You did very well, Watchog. I'm proud of you."

    Watchog gave her a tired smile and was recalled to its Poke Ball. Cheren hurried to Pignite, knelt down, and gave it a hug.

    "Pignite, I'm so proud of you! You were amazing!"

    Pignite grinned broadly, and he too was recalled. Lenora crossed over to Cheren.

    "Cheren, in recognition of your victory, I, the Nacrene City Gym Leader, present to you the Basic Badge."

    She handed something to him, but Jim was too far away to see what the badge looked like. Cheren smiled and nodded to Lenora, who gave him a look like a mother proud of a son.

    "You've got great spirit," she said, "but don't overtax yourself, all right?"

    "I won't," said Cheren. "Thank you, Lenora."

    And with that, Cheren left the battlefield amidst applause from the gallery, as Jim watched his former friend exit, mixed between jealousy and pride at his victory…

    My White 2 Team

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