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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 14
    The Battle Club



    For a while, Jim just sat there, watching where Cheren had exited. June herself seemed stunned to see her former playmate having evolved after such a short time abroad. Leanne was talking excitedly with Burgh, who was showing her what he'd drawn. She shook Jim's arm.

    "Come on, Jim! Wake up! Look at what Burgh drew!"

    "Huh? Oh! Right, yeah!"

    Jim leaned over to see it, and was quite impressed to see Pignite pushing against the Focus Blast, Watchog still in the position of having tossed it.

    "Wow! You did that in only a minute or two? That's unbelievable!"

    Burgh looked pleased.

    "An artist must always be ready for spontaneous inspiration, like the clash between those two Fighting type moves. Despite the size of Watchog's Focus Blast, it was weary and unable to make it as strong as it had wanted. Pignite, newly evolved, had a new reserve of strength, and so was able to Arm Thrust that Focus Blast right back with little effort. Ah…the turnabout in a Pokemon battle. Always a spectacular thing to see…"

    "No kidding," said Jim. "Cheren must really have been working Pignite hard when he was a Tepig. He must be really determined to be the Champ."

    “That is plain to see,” said Burgh, “but the road to victory is laced with many pitfalls, and must be tread lightly.”

    After a moment's silence, Burgh brightened up again and got up.

    "Well, I'd better be off. I want to see my family before I return to Castelia City. Until we meet again, my young friends!"

    He extended his hand for Jim to shake, which the latter did gladly.

    "So long, Burgh!"

    "Bye!" said Leanne with an energetic wave.

    With a wink, Burgh turned on his heel and strode briskly out of the stadium.

    "What a great guy," Leanne said after he'd gone, and as they were walking out. "but he's kinda weird."

    "Well, yeah, he's a little quirky," Jim admitted, "but he's a genius. You can't deny that."

    "Nope. So that was Cheren."

    "Yeah…he seems much more bold than back home in Nuvema Town, before we set out. He was pretty quiet, and kind of a bookworm, but he was always honest and courteous."

    "And what about Bianca?"

    "Bianca," Jim began, and then smiled as he remembered, "she was a lot of fun. She was a little clumsy, tended to be messy, but she was really sweet and full of energy. She was like a little sister to me."

    Leanne looked concernedly at him. He looked melancholy, but it was nowhere near as bad as the look of distress he had on Route 3.

    "Jim?" Leanne asked.

    "Yeah?"

    "Do you regret leaving?"

    "What do you mean?"

    "I mean, are you happy with where you are, or would you have rather stayed at home?"

    "Well, of course I miss home. I'd have loved to just stay home with Mom and June, but I think Cheren and Bianca would have set out anyway. Cheren's always been a bit ambitious, and Bianca…her dad doesn't let her do much of anything. Really protective, you know."

    "Oh, I see. So you'd have been left behind if you stayed."

    "Right. It hurts a little to think how my friends may have changed, but it's better than not knowing how they are at all…like my dad."

    June gave his shoulder a comforting squeeze. Then, surprisingly, it was Oshawott that changed the subject.

    "I say, Jim, now that you've seen what Madam Lenora has at her disposal, wouldn't it be prudent to prepare yourself for your own battle with her?"

    "Oh, yeah! Thanks for reminding me, Oshawott. Not only that, but I think I know where to start…"

    ***


    "Welcome to the Battle Club!"

    The electronic voice from an unseen intercom proudly announced these words as Jim and Leanne stepped through the glass doors of the Nacrene Battle Club. They found themselves in a large lobby, with cushy seats and several TV screens set on the walls and ceiling, some listing announcements, others showing trainers battling in a stadium. Behind the desk stood a burly, mustachioed man dressed in blue training clothes, striped at the sleeves with green. With astonishment, Jim recognized him as the same man who was at Accumula Town Park, whom he'd talked to before Team Plasma arrived.

    "Welcome, welcome!" he said. "First time in a Battle Club?"

    "Um, yes, actually," Jim said.

    "Call me Don George, proprietor of the Nacrene Battle Club!"

    "Um, I don't mean any disrespect, Don George, but I thought you were in Accumula Town."

    Don George regarded him for a moment, then burst into a hearty laugh.

    "That was my big brother! I'm the younger Don George!"

    "…Oh, I get it," Jim said, putting the pieces together, "just like the Nurse Joy family."

    "That's right! So, how can I help ya, son?"

    "I'd like to use the club to train for a battle against Lenora."

    "Good strategy, kiddo. Every Battle Club in Unova provides a practice arena for visiting Trainers, and training rooms developed for each Pokemon type. So, what Pokemon have you got?"

    "My Snivy, June, here, a Woobat and Blitzle."

    Don George began typing something down on a keyboard that was apparently behind his desk.

    "Grass…Psychic and Flying…Electric…"

    "Er, something you should know," Jim put in, "my Blitzle knows Flame Charge, but I want to fine-tune it."

    "Say no more, sonny, say no more. We've dealt with everything during our years in business. And your name?"

    "Jim Stevens, from Nuvema Town."

    Don George finished typing, then stepped out from behind the desk.

    "Excellent! Follow me, Jim, and I'll take you to the Grass/Bug room."

    Don George led Jim and Leanne down a hallway to their right. Many doors, labeled with color-coded plaques, branched off as they went down. At last, they came to a door with a green plaque that read "GRASS/BUG ROOM".

    Don George opened the door, and they found themselves in one of the oddest places Jim had ever seen. It looked like a mix between a gymnasium and a greenhouse. There was conventional exercise equipment, like treadmills and weights, but the entirety of the room was filled with trees, vines, flowers, and other plant life.

    "Wow…"

    "When you want to switch rooms, just let me know on that interface right there."

    Don George pointed to a TV screen set above a keypad.

    "Good luck!"

    With that, he exited the room, leaving Jim and Leanne alone inside. While Leanne went to look at the keypad, Jim set June down.

    "Do your best, June. Lenora seems to really value diverse strategy, so we have to be ready for anything she can throw at us."

    "You can count on me, Jim," she said, smiling and placing her paw on his hand.

    "That's my girl," Jim said, proudly, stroking her head.

    "Wow! Look at this!" Leanne called from where she was. "This keypad has lots of neat options for intense training! Look at some of these: Poison Stings, Vine Whips, Falling Trees…"

    "Wow…pretty brutal," Jim said, looking over with her. "You sure you can handle this, June?"

    "I'll handle it," she said, confidently. "Bring it on!"

    Jim nodded and pressed the button reading 'Vine Whips'.

    "Get ready to dodge!"

    From the ground rose what seemed to be long, green tentacles, moving with a mind of their own. They lashed out straight for June, as if they could sense her, but June leaped aside from one side to the next, the vines missing her by mere inches. She even managed to strike back, countering with her own Vine Whip or with Leaf Blade.

    This went on for quite some time, and June was showing signs of weariness. Jim was going to turn the simulation off, but June seemed to have sensed his movements.

    "Not yet!" she said, still weaving between the wild strikes of the whips. "Keep going!"

    "But, June, you need to rest!"

    "I'll rest when I'm ready!" she said stubbornly.

    A vine came dangerously close to hitting her, had she not used Leaf Tornado to deflect it. Jim was startled by her determination. It was nothing like the fighting spirit she usually displayed. Still, he didn't want to argue with her, so all he could do was watch as she continued her evasive maneuvers.

    "Jim, are you crazy??" Leanne shouted. "She can't keep it up for long!"

    "Just let her do her thing," Jim advised. "She's headstrong, and she just wants to see how long she can go."

    Leanne gave the bold Snivy a worried look, but then consented to stand with Jim and watch. This display went on for quite a while, until finally, June, who was now beginning to slow down from all the exertion, neglected to look behind her…

    *CRACK!*

    One of the Vine Whips smacked her across the back and sent her sprawling. There she lay, unable to get back up, her energy spent. Then, the whole group of vines seemed to rise up together like the wave of a tsunami, ready to strike like so many snakes. And then, just before they were about to hit, they froze and retracted. Jim, who had decided enough was enough, had turned them off. He rushed over to his fallen partner.

    "June! Are you ok? Speak to me!"

    He lifted her up, and she weakly opened her eyes.

    "…I guess…I should have watched…my back…" she said weakly, then, her eyes closed once again, and she remembered nothing more…

    ***


    When June opened her eyes once again, she was still being held in someone's arms…but it wasn't Jim. This one smelled too nice to be him.

    "Leanne?" she asked, looking up,

    Sure enough, Leanne was cradling the Snivy in her lap, seated on a bench. Oshawott was holding her paw.

    "Hey, sleepyhead," Leanne greeted her, gently. "Feeling ok?"

    Knowing she couldn't understand her like Jim could, June just nodded and turned to Oshawott.

    "How long was I out?"

    "About an hour," he replied. "Leanne volunteered to watch you while Jim continued training, but he's never stopped thinking of you throughout."

    June looked up. They were in another room. This one looked more like a conventional gymnasium, but there were many rings, like hula hoops, hanging by chains from the ceiling, as were balls. Jim was standing a few feet away, watching Echo, who was flitting through the hoops, which were spaced out at different positions, with great agility. Occasionally, one of the balls would swing toward him, but he activated his Confusion attack to stop it before it hit him.

    "Atta boy, Echo! Keep it up, you're doing great!" Jim called, encouragingly.

    He turned to look at his friends, and seemed relieved to see June awake again.

    "Keep going, Echo, I'll be right with you."

    He hurried over to them and knelt by June.

    "Glad to see you're back up again. I was worried that training as a bad idea."

    "It was my fault for not keeping on my toes," she said. “I’ll have to be more aware next time. I’ll train as long as it takes to face Lenora.”

    "That's what I like to hear," Jim said, with a big grin, stroking June's smooth back.

    "So how's Echo been faring?"

    "A lot better than I expected. His Confusion's improving, and I think he's trying to develop a new attack. Every time a ball's in front of him, he cups his wings, but all I see is a spark of something purple, which doesn't really turn into anything."

    "Hmm…"

    They turned back to watch, and could see that Echo had left the hoops and was facing one of the balls. Just as Jim said, he cupped his wings together, and something began to glow between them: a black-purplish light, not quite solid, yet not quite liquid. With a burst, the light vanished, and Echo was blown back from the shock. With a sigh, he rejoined the others.

    "It's hopeless," he said. "I'll never learn Shadow Ball…"

    "Shadow Ball? Why do you wanna learn that?"

    "So I can cover my weaknesses," said Echo. "Us Psychic types are weak against Ghost types, but Ghost types are weak against themselves, so I thought a Ghost type attack like Shadow Ball would be perfect. I’ve seen other Woobat in my old home use it, so I figured I’d teach myself. I just can't get it right, though…"

    "Sure you will," Jim said, scratching Echo's shaggy fur. "All it takes is diligence and practice. I think you ought to take a break now, though. We've been working for an hour, and I need to help Jolt with his Flame Charge."

    Echo gave a small smile.

    "Ok. Thanks, Jim. I'll do my best."

    Jim recalled Echo to his Poke Ball, and then pressed the intercom button near the door. Don George's face appeared on the view screen.

    "We're ready to test my Blitzle," Jim said.

    "Great! I'll be right there."

    His face disappeared, and a few minutes later, the door opened to reveal Don George himself standing there.

    "How's your Snivy feeling?"

    "Much better," Jim said, giving a glance to June, who smiled.

    "She's a feisty one, I'll give you that," said Don George, giving June an appraising look. "Most Grass types can't handle the Vine Whips for longer than 5 minutes. You have a remarkable Snivy, kid."

    "Thanks. She's my best friend."

    June climbed onto his shoulder and nuzzled his cheek. Leanne and Oshawott smiled at their antics, and even Don George grinned.

    "Now, if you'll follow me, we'll see if we can accommodate your Blitzle."

    Don George led them into a room marked "ELECTRIC". Again, it was a more standard gymnasium, but one of the walls was taken up by what looked like electrical generators. Several treadmills, much larger and longer than any Jim had ever seen before, occupied another wall. All around the floor of it was an ovular racetrack. Don George wished them good luck and left the room, and Jim called Jolt out.

    "All right, Jolt, it's time we really buckled down and worked on your Flame Charge. Ready?"

    "I'm ready when you are, Jim," said Jolt with a nod.

    He leaped onto one of the treadmills, and Jim, standing by, turned it on, turning up its speed at periodic intervals. Jolt's hooves clattered on the conveyor belt, faster and faster, eyes set with determination. First he cantered, then galloped, and by the time Jim had turned it to his full speed, he was in a full-out sprint, hooves pounding away, but still he ran on. His mane crackled with electricity, and that electricity reached the generators, activating them and slowly juicing them up toward full power.

    "Ok, Jolt!" Jim called over the whine of the generators, the noise of the treadmill, and Jolt's hooves. "When I say go, jump from the treadmill onto the track and use Flame Charge! Keep to the track and try to turn when the track turns!"

    Jolt nodded and didn't answer. It seemed he was intent on concentrating.

    "GO!"

    Just as he stopped the treadmill, Jolt sprang from the treadmill and began rushing down the racetrack, flames surrounding him in his wake. Jim gritted his teeth as Jolt came to the first turn. He looked like he was attempting to turn, but wasn’t able to. With a sickening thud, he hit the wall, making everyone else wince. Jim ran over to help him up.

    “You ok?”

    “Yeah, no sweat,” Jolt said, though his eyes were rolling dizzily. “Just gotta give it another go.”

    “After a crash like that?”

    Jolt shook his head rapidly to regain his senses.

    “Gotta blitz through the pain, right?”

    Jim looked at him in concern for a moment, but then said,

    “All right, if you think you can handle it.”

    As Jolt returned to the treadmill, however, Jim thought to himself that this might take a long while yet...

    ***


    And he wasn’t far off. Nearly a week had already elapsed since Jim and Leanne had arrived in Nacrene, and they were still working away at the Battle Club’s training mechanisms. On the plus side, June had become much more adept and alert at dodging the traps of the Grass/Bug Room. To see her twist and jump so gracefully made Jim and Oshawott’s jaws drop. Her attack movements had become something like a kind of dance, swift and elegant. To see her spiraling within the confines of a Leaf Tornado was absolutely stunning to see.

    As for Echo, he was more and more becoming a force to be reckoned with. His Confusion was progressing nicely, so that he was able to stop incoming projectiles 9 times out of 10. His Shadow Ball was slowly getting better, though it was still a bit wobbly and temperamental. His latest attempt was the best out of all: a black and purple sphere of solid electricity barreling forth like a cannonball. He was so proud that he zoomed around the gymnasium, squeaking like mad, while his friends applauded him.

    All that remained was Jolt. His Shock Wave was already fierce, but the week in training had kicked it up to 11. All that remained was his Flame Charge, and he would not give up on it. He kept at it, though more often than not, he barreled straight into the wall, and needed some time to cool off. He ignored his wounds, however, and jumped in again as soon as he was able.

    Today, though, was different. Once more, as usual, Jolt blazed down the racetrack, and for a moment, it looked like he was going to hit the wall once again. But then, to everyone’s astonishment, Jolt actually managed to skid around the curve, leaving a trail of dust and embers in his wake, and shot straight down the other side of the track, pulling another tight curve at the other end, before moving in for a second lap.

    He had done it!

    Jim whooped, June cheered, and Leanne and Oshawott high-fived. Jolt swept around the other turn, and then, bracing his front hooves against the ground, skid to a halt, the flames vanishing. He just stood there, panting, but the look on his face was one of excited triumph. Jim rushed over to him.

    "Jolt, that was unbelievable! You did it! Not only did you manage to turn, but you stopped yourself as well! This is a huge milestone! I'm really proud of you."

    "I…I'd never have…done it….without you, Jim…" Jolt panted.

    He crossed over, looking up at his Trainer, and then, to Jim's surprise, he reared up, put his forelegs around Jim's waist, and laid his head against Jim's stomach. Touched, Jim petted his frizzy mane. Leanne sniffled, tears in her eyes. June and Oshawott looked at each other and nodded, smiling in a knowing way. They had come a long way, but they were ready...

    ***


    By that afternoon, Jim and Leanne were saying goodbye to Don George.

    "Your facility is really impressive," Jim said. "I'll be sure to visit more if the need arises."

    "You know where to find us," said Don George. "Good luck out there, and don't let Lenora give you too much trouble."

    He winked and chuckled. The two Trainers left the Battle Club, waving farewell to its owner.

    "First," said Jim, "we'll swing by the Pokemon Center and give the team a rest. And then, I'll challenge Lenora tonight."

    "Good plan," Leanne agreed. "I know you'll win now!"

    So the two made their way off to the Pokemon Center. As they were on their way, however, they didn't notice the three figures, moving with the swiftness of birds of prey, flitting between the shadows of the buildings, making their way toward the Nacrene Museum…

    ***


    At last, Jim and Leanne were once again approaching the Nacrene Museum, making their way into the familiar exhibit hall. Hawes was there, dusting what looked like a golden sarcophagus. He turned as they approached.

    "Ah! Good afternoon, friends! Welcome back! Did you enjoy the match?

    "Definitely," said Jim. "It was very enlightening. Now I'm here for my own battle."

    "Wonderful! You know the way, just through the doors immediately in front of you, once you reach the stairs to the gallery. I'll be along shortly to referee. Good luck!"

    So Jim and Leanne took their leave of the kind curator and made their way to the back and toward the library. There, to their surprise, they saw Lenora herself, sitting beside a schoolboy who was poring over an immense volume. Jim couldn't see the title, but there seemed to be illustrations of different Pokemon.

    "…So you see," said Lenora, evidently wrapping up a discussion she was engaged in, "even though Timburr are always found in the wild carrying their lumber, they're not born with it."

    "Wow! Thanks, Miss Lenora," said the boy. "I'd never have known before I came to see you."

    "My pleasure, Bobby," said Lenora with a motherly smile.

    She looked up as Jim and Leanne approached.

    "Good afternoon, Lenora. I've come to have a Gym Battle with you."

    "Wonderful! And your name is?"

    "Jim Stevens, from Nuvema Town. This is my friend Leanne, from Accumula Town."

    "Another Nuvema Town challenger, huh?" asked Lenora, sounding pleasantly surprised. "There was another young man from Nuvema Town who challenged me a week ago. Arrived right when the museum opened. Very eager."

    "Yeah, I can imagine," said Jim. "I saw your battle with him, so now I'm ready for my own!"

    His eagerness seemed to amuse Lenora, and she gazed from him to June, who was wearing the same sort of determined expression.

    "All right, then. I'll be along in a few minutes. I just need to finish helping Bobby with his homework."

    As Jim and Leanne passed by, Bobby looked at Jim and said,

    "You're really cool, mister!"

    "Huh? Me?"

    "Yeah! It must be awesome to get to be a Pokemon Trainer, seeing new towns and battling with Pokemon! I wish I was old enough to be one."

    "Believe you me, Bobby," said Jim, in a surprisingly wise tone, "the best part of being a Trainer is getting to know the Pokemon you raise."

    He stroked June's head with his index finger, and Bobby looked on in admiration. Giving him a little nod, Jim went on, Leanne tagging behind.

    "That was really cool, Jim. You sounded like a wise man in front of that kid."

    Jim shrugged, trying to hide his embarrassment.

    "Well, it's true, you know. The best part IS being with your Pokemon."

    "Oh, I know that. I've know that for 6 years."

    At these words, Oshawott gave her an affectionate nuzzle.

    The two made their way back into the small hallway containing the staircase to the seating gallery and this time passed through the double doors in front. They found themselves now standing in the battlefield itself. The floor was dirt, like the Striaton Gym, but was smooth and uniform, rather than rocky. Jim noted, with some admiration, that the dents and holes caused by the attacks from the previous battle had been patched up while they had been away. Jim stood at his side of the field, Leanne standing on the sidelines, and in a few minutes, in strode Lenora herself, making her way to her side. There weren't many spectators this time. It seemed to consist mostly of school kids and high school students, all looking eager to take notes on what they observed in the upcoming confrontation. Jim and Lenora stood facing each other, ready to draw their Poke Balls when Hawes arrived to referee…

    Suddenly, Hawes himself burst through the doors, looking flustered and distressed.

    "Lenora! Lenora, dear, it's horrible!"

    Jim had little time to register the fact that Hawes called Lenora "dear" before she herself came forward, looking concerned.

    "What is it, Hawes? What's happened?"

    "The-the Fossils! They're…they're gone!"

    My White 2 Team

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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 15
    Sage and Shadow


    "What?!" Lenora asked, sharply. "Are you certain?"

    "Positive! The Plume and Lid Fossils are absent from their cases!"

    "But who would steal them?"

    "I'm unsure. Oh, Lenora, this is bad. What if they make for Pinwheel Forest?”

    "It’s a virtual maze,” said Lenora, grimly. “We’d lose them in there.”

    "Um, Lenora?" Jim began. Leanne had returned to his side.

    "Oh! Forgive me, Jim, but we'll need to postpone our match until this matter's resolved."

    "I understand completely, but could you tell me what those Fossils are?"

    "Oh, certainly. Hawes? Would you mind?"

    "Not at all, Lenora. Those Fossils are the remains of two ancient Pokemon native to Unova in the far past. The Plume Fossil is the remains of Archen, the First Bird Pokemon. The Lid Fossil is what's left of Tirtouga, the Prototurtle Pokemon. If revived-"

    "Whoa-whoa, wait!" Leanne interrupted. "Revived? You can bring back Fossil Pokemon??"

    "Certainly!" said Hawes, proudly. "We have the technology to restore them to their original forms. It seems whoever stole the Fossils has that idea in mind as well…"

    During this, Jim seemed to have been turning something over in his mind, and it looked like he had just decided on something

    "What if we chased down whoever stole them?" Jim suggested.

    "You?" Lenora asked, amazed. "But they could be miles away by now!"

    "That doesn't matter," said Jim in a steadfast tone. "No one should get away with thievery, especially of such priceless treasures. We'll do our best to find them."

    "Yeah, you can count on us!" Leanne put in, boldly.

    Lenora and Hawes looked at each other.

    "It's worth a shot," Lenora said to him, and then turned to Jim and Leanne. "All right. Pinwheel Forest is just west of here. Hawes and I will secure a perimeter around the museum and town itself."

    "All right. We'll be back."

    Jim looked to Leanne, who nodded, and the two hurried out of the stadium, through the library, and out the museum. They were about to make for the direction of this Pinwheel Forest, when Jim spotted a group of four persons, huddled in the shadows of the café.

    One of them was very old, as he had a white beard, and was dressed in long robes and a cylindrical hat. The other three looked like they were one person, split into three. All three were dressed in the adornments of ninjas, with swords at their belts and masked faces. The old man was carrying a bundle wrapped in brown cloth, but even in the setting sunlight, Jim could see, through a gap in the cloth, what appeared to be dark-gray stone.

    "You're sure you were not tracked?" asked the old man.

    "Tracked?" asked one of the ninjas, scornfully. "You discredit us with your words, Gorm."

    "Do you insinuate that we were derelict in our profession?" asked the second.

    "We, the Shadow Triad, swift and invisible as the wind?" questioned the third.

    All three seemed to speak in the same low and dangerous voice.

    "Of course I do not doubt you," said the elder man, Gorm, "but we cannot be too careful."

    "Rest assured, O Sage," said the first member of the Triad.

    "We have eluded and misdirected the fools of the museum-" continued the second,

    "And led them to believe we were making for Pinwheel Forest," concluded the third.

    "It will take them hours-"

    "To discover we were never there. And by then-"

    "We will be out of harm's way."

    "For such sneaky folks, you don’t care about speaking too openly, do you?" Jim asked, aloud.

    The group of four turned sharply around, and there were the two teens, standing feet from them. Gorm glared at the Shadow Triad.

    "So you weren't tracked, were you?"

    "Certainly not, Gorm! We swear these children-"

    "Were not behind us when we made our escape!"

    "It must have been a trick of luck that led them to us!"

    "Luck or foolishness, it matters not. They're still too late to stop us," said Gorm, confidence restored.

    But as he looked at Jim, he seemed to be scrutinizing him, as if his elderly eyes were trying to discern him correctly. Suddenly, he stepped back in shock.

    "Does fate toy with me?? Are you not Jim Stevens, who publicly defied and humiliated Sage Ghetsis??"

    "I am," said Jim, coldly, "and I'm so glad he remembers me. Does that mean you four are members of Team Plasma?"

    "You are correct," said Gorm, impressively. "Ghetsis is one of Seven Sages of Team Plasma. I, Gorm, am also a Sage."

    "And we three," said the Triad, in unison, "are the Shadow Triad! Swift and invisible-"

    "As the wind," Jim concluded. "I heard you the first time. You ought to call yourselves 'alien to inner monologue'."

    "How dare you mock us!" hissed the first member, clenching his fist.

    "How dare ypu go to such lengths to take Pokemon away from humanity! Preaching liberation is one thing, stealing from people, worse of all little kids, is unforgivable, but stealing the fossilized remains of ancient Pokemon from a public institution, just to gratify your own selfish desires, is just despicable!"

    "Do not speak of what you do not understand!" thundered Gorm. "We as humans owe it to the Pokemon of the world to ensure them happiness and security, away from the taint of our existence, and if that means reviving fossilized Pokemon and releasing them into the wild, we will do so!"

    "I appreciate your commitment to happiness for Pokemon," said Jim, "but you're going about this the wrong way. Freedom should not have to be accomplished through theft!"

    "Silence!" Gorm roared. "You are already an enemy of Team Plasma, so hold your tongue! Shadow Triad, eliminate them!"

    The three ninjas started forward, hands drawing to their sword hilts. Jim and Leanne stepped back, sure that they must be truly insane if they would stoop to murder. Suddenly, Gorm interrupted them.

    "Halt! What are you holding, girl?"

    He pointed to Leanne, who was protectively holding her encased Egg against her stomach.

    "A Pokemon Egg…" Gorm, muttered, an unpleasant smile on his face. "Shadow Triad, instead of ending their mischief through violent means, I'd say it would be punishment enough to deprive the girl of her precious Egg. Should the Pokemon hatch, it may become imprinted with her and its purity be tainted."

    "A wise suggestion, Gorm," said the Triad, in unison.

    Their hands left their sword hilts, but they still approached, menacingly. Jim's hand went to his belt for a Poke Ball, and Leanne clutched the Egg case even closer to her body. Oshawott had drawn his scalchop, obviously hoping to get in a few hits against them. Jim had no choice. It was all or nothing…

    "Echo, come on out!"

    He sent out the trusty Woobat from his Poke Ball, and Gorm and the Triad stood looking up at him.

    "You mock us further, Jim Stevensm" said Gorm. "Sending out the Woobat you caught to defy Ghetsis?"

    "I thought it was only fitting. Echo, use Shadow Ball!"

    Echo cupped his wings together, and a purplish black light began to form, shakily.

    "That's it…steady…" said Jim in a coaching manner. "Easy…"

    Echo's face tensed as the light wavered and flickered, until finally, it solidified in the form of a sphere. Echo looked jubilant.

    "Perfect! Now fire, right in between them!"

    Echo brought one wing back, and then used it to slap the Shadow Ball straight for them. Gorm covered his face with his arms, and the Shadow Triad guarded themselves with their swords, but just as Jim commanded, it landed and exploded right in between them, causing a veil of smoke.

    "Now, June, grab the Fossils!"

    Perceiving what was going on, June sent her vines streaking out through the smoke, and then reeled back like a pair of fishing lines, the two Fossils clutched in them, still in their protective wrapping. She drew them in, and Jim tucked them safely under his arm. The smoke cleared, and there still stood the Shadow Triad and Gorm, the latter of whom had misplaced his hat. He looked enraged.

    "How dare you! I am a Sage of Team Plasma! Show some respect!"

    "You've got a lot of nerve, teaching us respect!” Leanne snapped. “You’re the ones who need it, stealing Pokemon and Fossils."

    "Insolent brat! Shadow Triad!"

    He was about to give them their command, when a loud voice echoed from seemingly nowhere.

    "Gorm!"

    Jim started. That was Ghetsis' voice! It seemed to be coming from the Team Plasma symbol Gorm was wearing on the chest of his robes.

    "S-Sage Ghetsis!" stammered Gorm, no less surprised. "This is most unexpected…"

    "Never mind that," said Ghetsis' voice, in his naturally-calm tone. "Return to the base at once."

    "W-What?? But Ghetsis! It's the Stevens boy! He's taken the Fossils back!"

    "Forget the boy," Ghetsis replied. "He's not our concern. Neither are those Fossils."

    "But-"

    "Those are my orders, Gorm. Fall back, now."

    "…Yes, Ghetsis."

    Gorm put his hat back on his head and fixed his steely gaze on Jim and Leanne.

    "You should consider yourselves lucky. Don't think of this as the end, though. There are more of us Sages out there, and they shall settle you…Shadow Triad, we depart."

    "Swift and invisible as the wind-"

    "The Shadow Triad takes flight!"

    "Now you see us, now you don't!"

    All three of the Shadow Triad members threw small pellets at the ground, veiling them in a puff of smoke. When it blew away, they and Gorm were gone.

    "Shouldn't have let them get away," Jim muttered.

    "Well, it wasn't a total loss," Leanne reasoned. "We got both of the Fossils back!"

    "Yeah. Thank goodness for that."

    He looked down at the stone slabs under his arm, safe and secure.

    "Let's take these back to the museum."

    ***


    When they returned to the museum, they found Lenora and Hawes speaking to a police woman, dressed in a cream-colored uniform, her hair short and blue. She turned when she saw the two enter, and noticed the Fossils under Jim's arm.

    "Aha!" she shouted, bounding forward and gripping Jim by the other arm. "Here he is now!"

    "Here who is?" Jim asked, utterly bewildered.

    "The thief, of course! They always return to the scene of the crime!"

    "Hey! Jim's no thief!" Leanne protested. "He's the one who got them back!"

    "Oh? And where are the real thieves?"

    "Well…they got away."

    "Likely story, kid."

    "She's right, Officer Jenny," said Hawes, dumbfounded by what was going on. "Both Jim and Leanne here volunteered to find the crooks who took the Fossils."

    "And I can testify that they were with me before the Fossils were stolen," Lenora added. "They're innocent."

    "Oh…Please, excuse me," said Officer Jenny, releasing Jim's hand and looking embarrassed. "When you're in a profession like mine, you can't leave anything to chance.cCan you identify the real thieves, though?"

    "Well, one was an old man, dressed like a priest,” said Jim. “His name is Sage Gorm. Then there were three who look like triplets, and are dressed like ninjas, called the Shadow Triad. They're all members of Team Plasma."

    "Team Plasma?" asked Jenny, surprised.

    "You know them?"

    "The other Jennies and I have been dealing with several complaints regarding Team Plasma and their ‘Pokemon liberation’ movement."

    (A country full of Nurse Joys, Don Georges, and Officer Jennies…must be a heck of a family reunion for them…)

    "In any case, now that the Fossils are returned, I'll put out an APB for these individuals. Thank you for your effort, Jim and Leanne."

    Jenny saluted and marched out of the museum. Jim gave a low whistle as soon as she was gone.

    "Somebody's really zealous about her work."

    "No kidding," said Leanne.

    Hawes came forward at that moment.

    "Jim, Leanne, we can't thank you enough for helping us retrieve these Fossils! You have no idea how much it means to us. Such bravery deserves a reward.”

    "Really, Hawes, it's not necessary," said Jim, handing the Fossils over.

    "Oh, I think it is," said Lenora, coming forward as well. "I think I know what would be suitable too…How would you like to have one of these Fossil Pokemon?"

    Jim's jaw dropped.

    "W-What?? B-But I couldn't do that! They belong to the museum!"

    "Don't worry about it," said Lenora with a smile. "We have an archeological correspondent in Mistralton Cave. He's found a spot that's a practical breeding ground for Fossils, and he sends all that he finds to us. Fossils of Pokemon from all over the world, even."

    "Wow…that's amazing!"

    "So you can see that as long as his findings hold, we'll never run short. So, you can take your pick of which Pokemon you'd like."

    "Hmm…"

    Jim pondered it over, looking from the Plume to the Lid.

    "Of course, if you're undecided," said Lenora, "we could have our Gym Battle tomorrow, and you can choose one then after you've seen them revived."

    "That sounds like a better idea," said Jim, giving a thumbs-up. "I'll be ready."

    "And so will I. See you in the morning."

    With that, Jim and Leanne bid goodnight to the Gym Leader and curator and took their leave. As they went, Jim's mind reeled in what had taken place…what was so important that Ghetsis would force Gorm to return without the Fossils? He could only guess, and hope he didn't have to find out…

    My White 2 Team

  3. #18
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    Chapter 16
    Jim vs. Lenora


    By next morning, when Leanne and Oshawott awakened in the sleeping dorms of the Pokemon Center, Jim wasn't in the bed next to them. Somewhat confused, Leanne dressed and went downstairs, and there they found him, seated on the floor, along with June, Echo, and Jolt. Jim was looking sleepy and red-eyed, but was looking over a sheet of paper written on and crossed out in several places.

    "Ok," he said, yawning. "Are we all good?"

    His Pokemon nodded.

    "Then it's decided: June and Jolt will be our main lineup. Of course, if one of her Pokemon has Roar, that could potentially mess things up. Echo, your Shadow Ball won't be of much use except for countering a projectile, so be ready in case you're dragged out."

    "Got it."

    "Jolt, I want you to remember your progress in Flame Charge. If the opponent dodges, pull a U-turn, and don’t forget the final ploy we discussed."

    "You can count on me, Jim."

    "And June, there's a lot that could be thrown at you, so keep on your toes."

    "I'll be ready, Jim. Don't worry."

    "Great. We're gonna do fine, guys."

    Jim smiled and put his hand out. June laid her paw on his hand, then Echo his wing, and lastly Jolt his hoof. Then, to everyone's surprise, Oshawott's paw joined the pile. Jim looked up to see Leanne giving him an amused expression.

    "Burning the midnight oil, Jim?"

    "Nah, just got up early to plan out my strategy."

    "Funny, you didn't need such planning for the first Gym."

    "That was the first Gym, though. They're gonna get harder as we get closer to the end."

    "All right, suit yourself, but don't blame me when you find yourself chugging coffee in the middle of the night."

    Everyone laughed at this, even Jim. After that, they went into the dining area for a quick breakfast, and soon after, were on their way once more to the Nacrene Museum.

    As they approached, Jim looked around. Perhaps there was some lingering premonition he had that either Cheren or Bianca would show up and unexpectedly see his battle, as had happened with him for Cheren's battle. His suspicions were assuaged, however; neither showed up (at least, as far as he saw).

    Once again, Jim was standing in the stadium beyond the library, Leanne and Oshawott on the sidelines. Despite the fact that it was early, the kids and high school kids from the night before (who had heard all about Jim's retrieval of the Fossils from Team Plasma) had returned, all ready to see the battle that had been so unexpectedly postponed. Jim observed that Bobby, the little boy from the library, was in the front row, gripping the guard rails. When he saw Jim looking at him, he waved energetically, which Jim returned.

    At last, a hush fell over the spectators, as the doors behind Jim opened, and Lenora came striding in, Hawes right behind her. She took her place at the other side, and Hawes took his place in the middle.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for attending this early morning battle here at the Nacrene City Gym! Our challenger, Jim from Nuvema Town, has agreed to take on Nacrene City Gym Leader Lenora. Each will use two Pokemon, with no time limit. Without further ado, battlers, choose your first Pokemon!"

    "I hope you've been taking notes, Jim," said Lenora, drawing a Poke Ball.

    "Oh, believe me," said Jim, drawing his own Ball, "I made sure to take into account all I saw in your battle with Cheren."

    His cool demeanor didn't last long, however, when he saw Lenora smile.

    "Then you've already made a mistake: never use only one battle to mount a strategy. Herdier, you're up!"

    She threw her Poke Ball, and from it came a Pokemon Jim had seen before, but not as often. It looked like a Scottish Terrier, with a brown-and-cream face adorned with furry eyebrows and a "mustache", brown paws and tail, and a thick blue coat of fur on its body. Jim's Pokedex was out once again.

    "Herdier, the Loyal Dog Pokemon, and the evolved form of Lillipup. The fur on its back decreases damage inflicted upon it. It is extremely devoted to its Trainer, and makes for an excellent pet."

    "The evolved form of Lillipup. Very subtle change-up," muttered Jim. "I had a feeling she'd throw something new at me, but wasn't expecting this. Oh well. Jolt, come on out!"

    Jolt appeared from his Poke Ball. He pawed the ground and gave Herdier an intimidating glance. Herdier crouched and growled.

    "Let the battle…begin!" shouted Hawes.

    "Ok, Jolt, start with a Quick Attack!"

    Jolt dashed forward, straight for Herdier.

    "Herdier, use Roar!" Lenora commanded.

    Jim clenched his fist. He knew this was coming, someway or another, but not so soon.

    Herdier seemed to draw in its breath, and then let out a loud, echoing bark that emitted large, visible waves, as if distorting the air. Jolt was stopped mid-attack and was zapped back into his Poke Ball. Then, before Jim could react, Echo's Poke Ball opened, and the Bat Pokemon appeared in the air, obviously bewildered at being dragged out like this. Lenora then recalled Herdier, and took out a second Poke Ball.

    "Watchog, it's your turn!"

    Lenora's Watchog appeared once again, arms crossed, glaring at Echo, who seemed to feel uncomfortable under the Lookout Pokemon's gaze.

    “Mean Look!"

    Watchog's eyes began to glow, similarly to when it used Confuse Ray, only this light was an ominous red. A red aura surrounded Echo, and what seemed to be the images of many eyes appeared, staring poor Echo down.

    "Mean Look prevents your Pokemon from switching out," Lenora explained. "Your Woobat's here to stay."

    (Darn…The battle's barely started and already she's switching things around on me. Echo's now my designated second Pokemon for this match, which means June can't help. Not to mention, Watchog didn't have Mean Look when it faced Cheren. Is it the same one or a different one? Man, she knows how to keep me guessing…)

    He looked down at June, who seemed to be concerned as well.

    "Come on, Jim! You can do it!" Leanne shouted.

    Jim looked at Echo, who was looking pretty shaken.

    "Echo!" he said, causing him to start and turn sharply. "Don't let Watchog get to you. Just keep your wits about you and don't lose focus. We can do this."

    "R-Right. Ok, Jim." Echo turned back around, facing Watchog with new confidence.

    "Start with Gust!"

    Echo flapped his wings rapidly, creating a gale-force wind to blow at Watchog, who guarded its face with its arms.

    "Watchog, Hypnosis!"

    Watchog lowered its arms enough to let its eyes be visible. They glowed with yet another light, this time a purplish-pink. Waves seemed to radiate from this glow toward Echo.

    "Echo, don't look into its eyes! It's going to make you fall asleep!"

    Echo stopped Gusting at once and swerved to the side, the waves just missing.

    "Now, Crunch!"

    Watchog crouched and leaped toward Echo, its mouth opening wide, exposing its pointed incisor. Echo didn't have time to dodge again, and yelped as the top of his head was penetrated by Watchog's tooth. He swayed this way and that, trying to get the tall Pokemon off.

    "Shake him off, Echo!" yelled Jim. "Air Cutter!"

    Echo brought his wings back, and they glowed with a blue light. He flapped them in Watchog's direction, and two crescent-shaped blasts of blue energy struck it in the stomach, knocking it off and back toward the ground, where it nimbly landed on its feet.

    "Your Woobat has good reflexes, Jim," Lenora said, "but we'll see how fast it'll keep on its wings. Watchog, Hidden Power!"

    Watchog cupped its paws in front of its chest, and a ball of energy formed between them, similar to Focus Blast, only it was much smaller and green. This ball it threw straight for Echo.

    "Counter with Shadow Ball, Echo!"

    Echo brought his wings forward, and a black-purple ball formed between them. It launched it at the Hidden Power, and the two attacks collided and exploded, causing a cloud of smoke to appear.

    "Blow it away, Echo!"

    Echo flapped his wings rapidly, sending the smoke drifting away. This distraction, however, seemed to be what Lenora had been waiting for.

    "Now! Hypnosis!"

    When Echo looked up again, Watchog had leaped up in front of him, and its eyes began to glow purplish-pink once more. This time the waves from the glow made contact, and Echo's wings started flapping slower and slower, as he began to droop and snore, drifting to the ground. Jim gritted his teeth.

    "She caught me…" he muttered. "Now what am I gonna do…?"

    "I'd say it's time to wrap this one up, Watchog. Crunch!"

    Watchog landed back on its feet, crouched like a track runner preparing for a race, then sprinted toward Echo, baring its fang once again.

    "ECHO! WAKE UP! USE AIR CUTTER!"

    At first, nothing happened, and Watchog was coming closer and closer, ready to strike…and then, with a jolt, just as Watchog was bearing down on him, Echo's wings flashed blue, and he swept them forward, striking Watchog once again with his Air Cutter, stopping it short. He soared high up, out of Watchog's reach as the Lookout Pokemon tried to regain itself, having been caught in the chest. Lenora was speechless.

    "Unbelievable…no one's ever waken up from a Hypnosis so quickly…"

    "Way to go, Echo!" Jim called. "Keep it up!"

    Bobby and his schoolmates were going wild with excitement.

    "This is far from over! Watchog, use Hidden Power!"

    Once again, Watchog cupped its paws and created the small green ball of energy, which it then pitched toward Echo.

    "Not this time!" Jim shouted. "Echo, redirect it with Confusion!"

    Echo stiffened and became surrounded in a pink aura. The same glow surrounded the Hidden Power, and though it continued on its course, it began slowing down, slower and slower, until it was now moving at a snail's crawl, and then…it stopped, just inches from Echo's heart-shaped nose. Then, quick as a flash, the Hidden Power went soaring back toward Watchog like a cannonball. It slammed right into it and sent it flying right against the wall with a slam. It fell to the floor, and stayed there.

    "Watchog is unable to battle! Woobat wins!" said Hawes.

    Leanne was cheering jubilantly from the sidelines. June, for her part, was looking at Echo with amazement and admiration. Obviously, she hadn't expected him to pull of such a victory. He, for his part, seemed amazed at what he had just done. He floated down to Jim's face.

    "Did…did I just do that…all by myself?"

    "You sure did, Echo! Even after a surprise switch-up, you still pulled off a victory! I'm proud of you, buddy."

    He ruffled Echo's fur, bringing a wide smile to the Bat Pokemon's face. Lenora, for her part, recalled Watchog.

    "Good work, Watchog. You did a fine job," she said. "I'm impressed with your Woobat's skills, Jim. But now he gets to face the main attraction you only saw a sneak-peek of. Herdier, it's up to you!"

    She threw up her first Poke Ball, and out came Herdier once again, crouched and growling. Echo retook his place.

    "Don't worry, Echo. Even if you don't get this one, we still have a chance with Jolt. Just try to wear Herdier down for him."

    "Got it!"

    "Let the second round…begin!" yelled Hawes.

    "Echo, Air Cutter!"

    Echo's wings began to glow blue once more, and it sent several slashes of energy at Herdier.

    "Sorry, Jim, but Echo has to pay the consequences for taking Watchog down! Herdier, Retaliate!"

    Herdier growled deeply, and a reddish light began to surround its whole body. Then, with a loud bark, it sprang forward, sprinting at full speed, the Air Cutters seeming to bounce right off of it. It leaped straight for Echo and slammed into him with such force that he soared backwards and slammed hard against the opposite wall.

    Jim and June cringed, Leanne gasped. With a weak squeak, Echo flopped onto the floor on his back, and didn't get up.

    "Woobat is unable to battle! Herdier wins!"

    "I told you he'd have to pay the consequences," said Lenora, "and that's just what Retaliate does, as long as it's after a recent knockout."

    Jim rushed to Echo and picked him up.

    "Echo, speak to me!"

    Echo twitched feebly.

    "Sorry, Jim…I tried…."

    "I know you did, and you were amazing throughout the whole battle. You deserve a good rest."

    He recalled Echo to his Poke Ball, then returned to his side of the field.

    "Even though my Pokemon don't know Retaliate," he said, taking another Ball from his belt, "don't think I won't let THIS go unheeded. Jolt, I'm counting on you!"

    Jolt appeared from his Poke Ball once again. Recognizing Herdier, he pawed the ground, glaring at the Loyal Dog Pokemon.

    "No more Roaring your way out of this one," Jim reminded Lenora.

    "Oh, I know," said Lenora, "and I won't need to. Be ready: the real lesson starts here."

    "Round 3: begin!"

    "Jolt, Quick Attack!"

    Once more, Jolt sprinted toward Herdier, moving like a blur.

    "Counter with Retaliate, Herdier!"

    Again, Herdier crouched and glowed red, but the glow wasn't as pronounced. It sprang toward Jolt, and the two collided, butting heads like a pair of dueling goats.

    "Now use Stomp!" Jim shouted.

    Jolt suddenly reared up and struck at Herdier with its fore-hooves, but unfortunately, hit it in the back, where its hard, armor-like fur was. Herdier responded by shoving Jolt away, forcing him to have to skid to a halt.

    "You're doing ok, Jolt. Shock Wave!"

    Jolt tensed, and his entire body began to crackle with electricity, his stripes glowing yellow. Then, a lightning bolt shot from the end of his mane straight for Herdier.

    "Herdier, Double Team!"

    Herdier barked, and its entire body became shaky and blurry, as if it were on a badly-tuned television set. Then, to the amazement of everyone, four more Herdier appeared right beside it, and the one Jolt's Shockwave hit vanished; nothing but an illusion.

    Jim's jaw dropped, and Jolt was looking from one to the other, utterly bewildered. All looked exactly the same; it was impossible to tell which was the real one…and which was a fake.

    "Er…um…Try the one on the far right! Shock Wave!"

    Once again, Jolt shot a lightning bolt from his mane, but once again, it struck a fake.

    "Herdier, Giga Impact!"

    All three of the remaining Herdier charged forward, each surrounded by a blazing golden light. As they approached, the two on the left and right merged with the one in the middle, to become one again. Herdier slammed with overwhelming force into Jolt, sending him tumbling and sprawling, spread-legged.

    "Jolt!" Jim yelled. "Come on, buddy, you've gotta get up!"

    A few tense moments went by, as everyone watched to see what would happen. At last, with a supreme effort, Jolt shakily managed to get back on his hooves.

    "Atta boy," Jim encouraged. "Now come on, pal. It's time we finally put our plan into action."

    "Plan?" Lenora asked, amused. "You mean you've been flying by the seat of your pants until now?"

    "Not exactly," said Jim, grinning slyly. "Variety is the spice of life, isn't it?"

    "Of course."

    "Then try THIS on for size. Jolt, Shock Wave-"

    Jolt began charging up, his mane and stripes glowing.

    "THAT'S variety?" Lenora asked. "Suit yourself. Herdier, Double Team."

    Once again, Herdier split itself into five. Jim, however, was still smiling.

    "You didn't let me finish, Lenora."

    "Hmm?"

    "Jolt, Shock Wave…on yourself!"

    A collective gasp ran through the stadium as Jolt fired a bolt of lightning straight up, which arced, and came right back down towards himself, zapping him right on the spot.

    "Jim, are you out of your mind??" Leanne yelled.

    "Just watch!" Jim responded, watching Jolt.

    When the light show ended, there was something odd about Jolt's appearance. His whole body seemed to be giving off a yellowish glow, and his stripes were glimmering.

    "Now, Jolt, Quick Attack on all of them!"

    Then, in the next moment, it was if everyone had blinked. One second, Jolt was in front of Jim, and the next, he was barreling through the Doubled Teamed Herdier clones. At last, he hit the correct one, second from the left, catching it completely off guard.

    "Now Stomp!"

    Jolt struck out once against with his hooves, this time going for Herdier's underside, which proved much more effective. Jolt leaped back to his side of the field, still glowing like a lantern, as Herdier was having trouble keeping its balance, its footing shaky.

    "What…what just happened?" Leanne asked, bewildered.

    "Motor Drive," Jim explained. "When a Pokemon with it gets hit with an Electric attack, its Speed increases. My experiment here was to see if it could be self-inflicted. As you can see, I was right."

    Jolt pawed the ground again, his stripes glistening.

    "Well done, Jim," said Lenora, impressed. "You've really shown me how far ingenuity can go. It took a lot of faith to have your Blitzle attack himself just to power up. Now it's time to see just how far that faith can carry you! Herdier, finish this up with Giga Impact! Give it everything you've got!"

    Herdier crouched low once again, its body tensing, and seeming to radiate a golden-white energy.

    "Jolt, get ready for Flame Charge! Don't hold back!"

    Jolt began stamping his fore-hooves, kicking up dust around him. Both Pokemon seemed to be waiting for the other to strike first, glaring each other down…

    At last, both seemed to spring forward at the same time, Jolt shrouded in flames, and Herdier surrounded by a golden light. All eyes were locked on the two opposing forces, their moment of impact growing closer and closer, their feet pounding the floor so hard and fast they seemed to leave the ground…

    "NOW!" Jim yelled.

    To everyone's utter astonishment, Jolt suddenly swerved and swept past Herdier. Then, as he nearly reached the other half of the battlefield, pulled off a perfect U-turn and sped back towards Herdier, hoping to strike from behind. Lenora, however, hadn't lost her cool.

    "Herdier, about-face!"

    Now it was Jim's turn to be bewildered, as Herdier itself turned itself around, in the midst of its attack, and barreled straight for Jolt again. This time, there was no going back. A collision was imminent…

    With an almighty explosion, the two Pokemon collided, the force of impact causing the very stadium to shiver. Everyone was on the edge of their seats, anxious to see what the outcome of the attacks would be. The entire field was veiled in a thick cloud of smoke, and Jim was desperately trying to look through it to see who was still standing. At last, the smoke began to vanish, and there, still standing, head-to-head, glaring at each other, were Jolt and Herdier. It was a wonder how either of them were still standing, but it seemed their locked heads were keeping each other up. However, Jim knew that it was only a matter of time before one of them collapsed. Everyone was holding their breath to see what the outcome would be. Leanne was gripping her cap in both hands and wringing it in agitation…

    At last, with a pitiful groan, Herdier collapsed gently onto its stomach. Everyone gasped.

    "Herdier is unable to battle!” shouted Hawes. “Blitzle wins, which means victory goes to Jim from Nuvema Town!"

    The crowd exploded into a chorus of cheers. Bobby was leaping up and down in a transport of jubilation. Leanne, for her part, was swinging Oshawott around in a victory dance. Jim threw his fist upward.

    "YES!"

    Jolt had smiled weakly at having won, and was about to collapse himself when Jim rushed over to catch him.

    "Jolt, you did it! I'm really proud of you!"

    "Nothing…to it…" gasped Jolt, as he closed his eyes and passed out.

    Still beaming, Jim recalled his faithful Blitzle into his Poke Ball. Lenora had picked up Herdier in her arms.

    "You did very well, Herdier. Well done."

    She recalled it into her Poke Ball, then crossed over to Jim, who was being congratulated by Leanne and Bobby, who had joined them down on their level.

    "That was totally awesome, Jim!" he was saying. "When I become old enough to be a Trainer, I want a Blitzle just like yours!"

    Jim laughed.

    "Well, when that day comes, I hope you'll be ready to battle me. It'll be fun."

    Bobby's eyes went wide with wonder.

    "You promise?"

    "I promise," said Jim.

    He extended his hand, which Bobby eagerly shook. He then looked up to see Lenora standing behind him, smiling.

    "Jim, you've shown amazing skill and ingenuity, even in the face of the unexpected. So for that, and for your victory, I, Gym Leader Lenora of the Nacrene City Gym, hereby confer upon you, the Basic Badge."

    She held out her hand and placed a badge in the palm of Jim's hand. It was very thin, and designed to look like the spine of a book.

    "Thanks, Lenora."

    Jim held it up proudly, the light inside glistening on its polished surface.

    "Badge Number 2: the Basic Badge!"

    Leanne, Oshawott, Bobby, and June applauded.

    "And now, Jim," Lenora went on, "with the battle over, are you ready to make your choice?"

    "Oh! Right! I sure am!"

    "Then follow me."

    She and Hawes led Jim and Leanne out of the stadium. Jim turned back to take one last look at Bobby, who was surrounded by his group of schoolmates, all talking excitedly about the match…

    ***


    Lenora and Hawes took Jim and Leanne back into the museum, but had them stop at the desk where the unknown door led.

    "Wait here while I bring them out," Lenora said, and she headed behind the desk and through the door, leaving Jim and Leanne with Hawes.

    "Jim, I can honestly say without hesitation that that match was unbelievable!" said Hawes. "Not many Trainers defeat Lenora on their first attempt."

    "Well, I'm not here to toot my own horn," said Jim, humbly.

    Leanne clapped his shoulder.

    "Aw, come on, quit being so modest," she said. "You put in a lot of effort, even if your plan didn't exactly go into play."

    "I just didn’t want June to feel jealous for not being included in this one, considering how hard she trained."

    June had climbed onto his shoulder and given him a lick on the cheek, to show she had no misgivings about being left out of the fight. Jim smiled and stroked her head. Then, at that moment, Lenora returned, carrying a tray with two Poke Balls.

    "Here they are, Jim. You ready to look at them."

    "Definitely!"

    "All right, then. This is Tirtouga."

    She opened the first Poke Ball, and the Pokemon to come out looked just like a sea turtle, covered in blue scales with a dark-blue "mask" over its face and wearing a thick shell of the same color.

    "And here's Archen."

    This next Pokemon to appear looked like a bird. Its body was covered in yellow feathers, but it had a blue head, a red face and toothy beak, red tail feathers (one was a blue plume), and clawed wings. Both were looking up inquisitively at Jim, who had taken out his Pokedex.

    "Tirtouga, the Prototurtle Pokemon. Tirtouga swam the oceans close to 100 million years ago. It is thought to have hunted prey on shore."

    "Archen, the First Bird Pokemon. Said to be the ancestor of all bird Pokemon, Archen was unable to fly. Instead, it traveled by hopping from tree to tree."

    "Hmm…it's tough. Both might prove useful for me…" muttered Jim, looking from one to the other. "I think I'm going to go with…Archen."

    "Excellent choice!" said Lenora. "Hawes, dear, could you get Tirtouga situated?"

    "Of course, Lenora."

    Hawes picked up Tirtouga in his arms.

    "All right, Tirtouga. We'll put you in a nice pool with some fresh seaweed. You like the sound of that?"

    Tirtouga chirped happily as it was taken away. This left Jim with Archen, who stared at him fixedly.

    "Hel-lo, Ar-chen," said Jim, slowly, sure that such an ancient Pokemon may not be a very good speaker. "Me Jim. Me friend. Un-der-stand?"

    Archen tilted its head.

    "…Jim…" he said, in a childish voice. "…Fren…Jim-Friend!"

    He looked pleased with himself.

    "Good, good!" said Jim, patting his head. "Now, your-name-is…Rok. You, Rok."

    He emphasized it by pointing to him. The Archen pointed to himself.

    "Me…Rok. You Jim-Friend!"

    "Right! …Er, what do Fossil Pokemon eat, Lenora?"

    "Well, they can be pretty finicky. Archen are partial to a special type of Berry that was around during its time, but which may have a descendant in the present day. I'd say experiment and see what it likes."

    "Hmm…I always did like adding variety when I cooked…I'll give it shot."

    He turned to Rok.

    "You-come-with-me-Rok. O-K?"

    "Ok! Rok go with Jim-Friend!"

    Rok hopped up and down, flapping his little wings. Everyone laughed, and Lenora recalled Rok into his Poke Ball and handed the Ball to Jim.

    "Good luck out there, Jim. I hope Archen- er, that is, Rok, is a suitable teammate for you."

    "Thanks, Lenora. I'll do the best I can with him."

    At that point, Hawes returned.

    "And if ever you chance to be near Nacrene City again, be sure to visit. We're always happy to see you."

    "Oh we will. So long!"

    Jim and Leanne waved goodbye to the curator and Gym Leader as they at last took their final (at least, for now) leave of the Museum and guided their steps back toward the Pokemon Center…

    My White 2 Team

  4. #19
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    Chapter 17
    Return of the Guy



    In the Pokemon Center, as Echo and Jolt were being healed, Leanne kept an eye on June and Rok while Jim went to the market desk to buy an assortment of Berries. Rok was looking around at everything with great curiosity, as he most likely knew nothing about technology. June had advised they keep a hold on him, but Jim said that would just make him agitated, so just let him explore. So June was determined not to let the inquisitive Archen out of her sight.

    However, she must have blinked at one point, because in one instant, there was Rok, staring her in the face.

    "…Can I help you?" she asked.

    Suddenly, Rok pecked her on the forehead.

    "OW! What did you do that for??"

    "Me Rok! Who you?"

    "Hmph…my name is June. Can you say "June"?"

    "June. June!" said Rok, seeming pleased. "June friend?"

    "Well, I suppose-"

    "Yay! Rok like June!"

    Rok grabbed her in his wings and gave her a bone-crushing hug.

    "Grck…the feeling's…mutual…" June gasped in a strained voice.

    She was saved when Jim returned, carrying a small cooler. Rok let go of June and turned to face him.

    "Ok, Rok, before we can get going, we need to figure out what you'll eat."

    He sat down, and Rok leaped onto his shoulder, looking like the most bizarre parrot companion of a stereotypical pirate.

    "What did you use to eat in the wild?"

    "Me like Nepi Berry!"

    "Nepi Berry? What's a Nepi Berry?"

    "No got Nepi Berry?"

    "It wasn't on the list the cashier had. What does one taste like?"

    "Hmm…"

    Rok pondered for a bit, then looked sad.

    "Me no remember…"

    "Oh boy…well, we'll see if you like any of these. Come here."

    He patted his thigh, and Rok alighted on it instead. Jim dug into the cooler and pulled out a small blue Berry.

    "This is called an Oran Berry. Very sweet and juicy."

    He held it out to Rok, who sniffed it and took a bite at it. Then, he spat it out in disgust.

    "Yuck! No like!"

    "Ok…how about this? A Pecha Berry."

    He held out another Berry, pink and bulb-shaped. Again Rok tasted it, and again he spat it out.

    "Sheesh, this isn't easy. Ok, let’s try something a little more extravagent…Aha! A Sitrus Berry!”

    Jim pulled out a bulky, gourd-shaped Berry, pale in color.Rok took a bite of it and chewed it while looking thoughtful.

    "Mm…mm-hmm…hmm…"

    "Well?"

    "It not bad. Not great, but ok."

    "Hmm…maybe we can find something better. Give me a minute."

    Jim started digging around in the cooler again, but there was a squishing noise, and he cringed.

    "Aw, shoot…"

    "What's wrong?" Leanne asked.

    Jim took his hand back out. The Sitrus Berry was still in his hand, but was soaked in pink and blue juice.

    "I accidentally crushed an Oran and Pecha Berry. What a mess…"

    Suddenly, to his astonishment, Rok began sniffing the soaked Berry eagerly.

    "What's up, Rok?"

    "Smell…smell familiar…" He gasped. "That it! That smell like Nepi Berry!"

    "Really?"

    "Me taste! Me taste! Please?"

    "Er, of course, buddy!"

    He gave the Berry to Rok, who bit into its juicy flesh, the juice dribbling down his beak. He looked absolutely thrilled.

    "Taste just like Nepi Berry!" he trilled. "Nepi Berry! Nepi Berry!"

    "Well, I'll be darned," Jim mused, looking at his sticky hand.

    "Rok," June said, approaching, "would it be all right if I had a taste? I need to see this for myself."

    "Ok! Rok share!"

    He handed the Berry to June, who looked at it skeptically before biting into it. As she chewed, she looked intrigued.

    "Hmm…!"

    "So what's it taste like?"

    "A delicate balance of sweet, sour, and juicy," she replied, wiping the runoff juice from her lips. "Very refreshing."

    "Wow, Jim. You weren't kidding when you said you added variety to your cooking," said Leanne.

    "Well, that was more of an accident than variety. Ok then, Rok. From now on, your new diet's Sitrus Berry dipped in Oran and Pecha juice. We'll call it Nepi Surprise."

    "Yay! Nepi Surprise! Nepi Surprise!"

    Rok bounced up and down, flapping his wings energetically. Leanne giggled at these antics.

    "I have a feeling this is gonna be an interesting journey from now on…" Jim said with a grin.

    June rolled her eyes, as if she agreed, but in a different sense…


    ***



    After Echo and Jolt were healed up, Jim and Leanne shouldered their packs and their starters and, at last, took their leave of peaceful, colorful Nacrene City. Leanne was a little reluctant, as she had grown fond of its appearance and quietness. Jim himself regretted having to leave, but he knew their path led further on, and so they had to press onward. Their direction lay once again to the east, through Pinwheel Forest, the location mentioned by Lenora during the Fossil robbery.

    Pinwheel Forest, it turned out, was divided into two areas: the outskirts, which was quite open, stretching for a few miles, and the forest itself, which looked absolutely enormous, spanning several miles across and abroad. Jim could even swear that he could see mountains way off, poking through the tips of the trees. Being a forest, he fancied a lot of Bug Pokemon lived in it. It reminded him of a forest that he had read about in an old book he used to enjoy, about a larger band of adventurers whose destination lay beyond a vast, treacherous forest, dark and foreboding, and full of enormous spiders…Jim shuddered to think of the possibility.

    The open stretch before the forest itself was very pleasant. The air smelled damp and flowery, as if it enjoyed a periodic sprinkling of rain, or as if there was a pond nearby. The latter was more probable, for as they passed, they saw a small body of water with many ripples set in a circle of tall grass.

    What really intrigued Jim was the odd buzzing sound that seemed to be coming from the water itself, in different tones. As he pondered this, he saw tiny Pokemon leap out of the water. They looked like tadpoles, but were drum-shaped, with peach-colored faces, and had strange bumps on their sides. The buzzing got louder as they left the water, so Jim assumed the sound was coming from them. His assumptions were confirmed when he checked his Pokedex.

    "Tympole, the Tadpole Pokemon. Tympole communicates by vibrating its cheeks at a frequency imperceptible to humans. It increases the pitch of these vibrations in the face of danger."

    "What a quaint musical accompaniment," he said, marveling at the little Tympole.

    "What do you mean?" Leanne asked. "I can't hear anything."

    "Hmm…the Pokedex did say it wasn't perceptible to humans, but it doesn't say anything about humans who can understand Pokemon."

    As he mused this, the Tympole suddenly dove under again in a fright. There was a violent scuffle going on between three Pokemon, but now they were in a stare-down, two against one.

    One was short and bulky and seemed to have red, rocky skin. A black Y shape divided its face, like a pair of eyebrows and a nose. It was dressed in white judo robes. The second was similar to the other, but was tall, slender, and blue, with a skewed Z shape on its face. The third was dark-orange and lizard like, with scowling eyes, a toothy frown, a red mohawk-like crest, and what appeared to be tan baggy pants, ending in a dragging tail, and a hood of the same material. Jim once again looked to his Pokedex.

    "Throh, the Judo Pokemon. When it faces a large opponent, it simply throws it out of the way with incredible strength. It creates its belt itself using vines."

    "Sawk, the Karate Pokemon. It tightens its belt to increase its power and focus. If disturbed during training, it becomes infuriated."

    "Scrafty, the Hoodlum Pokemon, and the evolved form of Scraggy. The member of its pack with the largest crest is the undisputed leader. Its kicks are strong enough to demolish concrete."

    "Three Fighting types, but Scrafty's a Dark type as well, and Throh and Sawk seem to be gaining up on it. This doesn't look too good."

    The Throh and Sawk lunged themselves at Scrafty, but at that moment, its cheeks seemed to be bulging, as if it were ready to spit something out…and spit it did. It expectorated a mass of dark-brown slime from its mouth, which splattered onto Throh and Sawk, who stopped short and cried out in disgust and agony. Then, while they were distracted, Scrafty lunged at them foot-first, kicking Throh into Sawk and knocking them both down. After a few moments on their backs, the two got back to their feet, cast a last glare at Scrafty, and then beat a hasty retreat, stumbling as if dizzied.

    "Wow…" Jim muttered. "Proved me wrong."

    "Scrafty! I told you not to run off like that!"

    Someone was running up to Scrafty, who was looking haughty from its victory over two opponents.

    "Picking fights behind my back again…You're way too proud for your own good…"

    Jim recognized that gruff voice, and when he saw the huge trench coat, he instantly knew the person as the nameless man who had rescued the Deerling from Team Plasma on Route 3.

    Jim hurried over to him, but he hadn't gone far before Scrafty wheeled on him, obviously taking him for an enemy, and spat another splatter of brown muck at him, which thankfully fell short right near his foot. Jim stopped, his exuberance checked by this unwelcome behavior. The Guy looked as if he were about to encourage Scrafty into another attack, but he then seemed to recognize Jim, as well as Leanne, who had stopped short as soon as Scrafty had fired, and so his expression changed.

    "Hold your fire, Scrafty. They're friends."

    Scrafty didn't attack again, but it crossed its arms and looked at the pair of Trainers distrustfully. The Guy, for his part, approached them.

    "Well, of all the wildest coincidences in this wacky world. Jim and Leanne, wasn't it?"

    "Yeah!" said Jim, breathless from his sudden surprise. "You're The Guy who saved that Deerling from Team Plasma near Wellspring Cave!"

    "Indeed I am. Glad you've remembered."

    "I still wish I knew what to call you."

    "Like I said, I let the world call me whatever it wants to. "Guy", "Dude", "Scruffy", "Good-for-nothing vagabond". Most women call me those last two 9 times out of 10."

    Leanne couldn't help giggling at that.

    "I saw the way you handled Team Plasma back in Nacrene City,” he went on. “That was very impressive."

    "You saw that??"

    "Certainly. I've learned how to see without being seen myself. Really useful. I think you've got them scared now."

    "Scared? Of me?"

    "Of course. They've probably never experienced such a revolution like this. Every time they're putting their plans into effect, you show up to disrupt them. Beware, though. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate…leads to-"

    "Suffering?" Jim ventured.

    "I was going to say 'war', actually," said The Guy, in all seriousness.

    "Great, just what I need," Jim mused, sarcastically, "a whole platoon of enemies."

    The Guy gave a rough laugh.

    "Don't worry about it. As long as you keep up your training, you'll never let them win."

    "Of course I won't," said Jim, sternly. "As if I'd let them get away with what they've tried to do…"

    June squeezed his shoulder, as if trying to keep him calm. It seemed to work, as his tone became more friendly when he spoke again.

    "So what have you been doing out here?"

    "Training," said The Guy. "Lots of Fighting types out here, so they're good for a nice, long tussle. Scrafty here, though, he likes doing things his own way when I'm not looking. A regular rebel, but that's why he's on my team."

    Scrafty glanced at his Trainer and grinned, pleased by this compliment.

    "He's pretty tough, though," said Jim. "He knocked out that Sawk and Throh without batting an eyelid! I'd love to battle against him!"

    A strange gleam flickered in The Guy's eye as he regarded Jim.

    "…Why not," he said. "All right, kid, let's have a two-on-two."

    "Really? You mean it?"

    "Of course. I've been waiting to battle against you, see just what makes you a threat to Team Plasma. Scrafty, you're first."

    Scrafty stepped forward, giving Jim a steely, battle-hungry look. Jim wasn't cowed, however, as he took a Poke Ball from his belt.

    "Ok, Rok, let's see how you do in battle!"

    He threw the Ball up, and from it appeared little Rok, who flapped his feathery wings and squawked. The Guy's eyebrows raised in intrigue.

    "An Archen! Well, well…Quite the reward for stopping Team Plasma. Well-earned, I'd say. I'd be careful if I were you, though. Newly-hatched, or in this case, revived, Pokemon aren't always the strongest."

    "I have faith in Rok," said Jim. "Even if he doesn't win, he'll have his first taste of a real battle."

    Rok nodded and glared at Scrafty, who looked amused.

    "Good attitude," said The Guy. "Just what I like to hear. All right, then, Jim, start us off."

    "With pleasure! Rok, use Rock Throw!"

    Rok held up his wings, as if bearing a load above his head, and a hefty boulder materialized in his claws. With a great heave, he tossed it at Scrafty.

    "Scrafty, smash it with Brick Break!"

    Scrafty's entire forearm began to glow white, and he threw a wicked punch at the boulder, smashing it to pebbles.

    "Now use Wing Attack!" said Jim.

    With astounding speed, Rok dashed at Scrafty, who had been too busy with smashing the Rock Throw to notice, and the next thing he knew, Rok had smacked him a hard blow with his wing. Scrafty fell backwards, but steadied himself, a red mark on its cheek.

    "Scrafty, Sludge Bomb!" commanded The Guy.

    Once again, Scrafty spat a glob of brown goop.

    "Quick Attack!" Jim shouted.

    Rok sprinted forward, ducking to avoid the Sludge Bomb, but it splattered in his face, and he stumbled, blinded. His attack went off to Scrafty's side.

    "Low Kick!" said The Guy.

    Scrafty brought his leg back and struck with the speed of a kicking horse, striking Rok in the chest. Rok went flying and landed on his back. Jim was afraid he was already down, but, groaning, he got back on his talons, wiping the Sludge from his face.

    "Atta boy, Rok! Use Dragonbreath!"

    Still shuddering with the blow he received, Rok breathed in, and with a loud squawk, he sent out a blast of what looked like white fire at Scrafty.

    "Scrafty, let's wrap this up. Headbutt!"

    Marveling at this bold tactic, Jim could only watch as Scrafty dashed forward, head low. The Dragonbreath struck, but it just seemed to glance off his large head. Rok was too surprised and weak to dodge, so he was sent flying once again as Scrafty hit him with the force of a battering ram, where he crumpled at Jim's feet. This time he didn't get back up. Scrafty stood straight again, looking proud, but his expression was checked as he suddenly grimaced and crouched on his knee, electric sparks crackling around his body.

    "Well, what do you know?" The Guy muttered. "Paralysis even after beating his opponent. Your Archen may have lost, Jim, but he sure left a lasting impression."

    Indeed, Scrafty seemed to be regarding both his restricted movement and the blow on his cheek from Rok's Wing Attack, and seemed to be look at the little Archen with great dislike as Jim picked him up.

    "Rok, are you ok?" Jim asked, gently.

    Rok's eyes opened, feebly.

    "Me sorry…"

    "It's all right, Rok. It was your first battle. You did a great job."

    Rok smiled weakly.

    "Me…wanna battle…again…"

    Jim grinned.

    "You will, Rok. You're gonna get much better. Now get a good rest."

    He recalled Rok to his Poke Ball as The Guy recalled Scrafty.

    "Well, it looks like I'm about to pull off what you just did, Jim," he said, taking out another Poke Ball. "I just recently acquired this Pokemon myself. Palpitoad, stand by for battle!"

    From his Poke Ball came a Pokemon that looked familiar to Jim, and yet very different. It looked a Tympole, and even had a flat tadpole tail, but was much larger, and stood on a pair of feet. Like Pignite, its head and body seemed to be one part, its face and stomach cream-colored. Not only did it have bumps on the sides of its head, but it also had a large one on its forehead. Jim's Pokedex was out in a twinkling.

    "Palpitoad, the Vibration Pokemon, and the evolved form of Tympole. Palpitoad can live both on land and in water. It catches prey with its long, sticky tongue."

    Coincidentally, just as this was said, Palpitoad blew a raspberry in silly impudence, and indeed, its tongue was extremely long, almost like a rope.

    "A Water and Ground type. That rules Jolt out…guess that leaves you, June."

    He turned to his Snivy partner, who leaped down in front of him to face the Palpitoad.

    "So now I get to see the true power of your star Pokemon, eh?" The Guy asked, arching his eyebrows. "Interesting. All right, then, let's get started! Palpitoad, Bubblebeam!"

    Palpitoad sent a spray of bubbles straight for June, but she nimbly leaped over them.

    "Use Leaf Blade!" Jim said.

    June turned her leap into a somersault, the leaf on her tail glowing yellow. Unfortunately, it struck the large bump on Palpitoad's head, which didn't seem to harm it, but caused her whole body to vibrate, as if over-stimulated by caffeine.

    "Now, Uproar!"

    Palpitoad seemed to take in a very deep breath, puffing up like a balloon, and then, it opened its mouth wide and unleashed one of the loudest noises Jim had ever heard. It was supplemented by blue shockwaves, and while it seemed to pain June, as she covered her ears, she also looked quite alert, as if this sort of attack prevented drowsiness.

    "JUNE!!" Jim roared over the noise. "USE LEAF TORNADO!!!"

    To his relief, it seemed June got the right idea. She jumped up and began spinning rapidly like a top, a swirling mass of leaves surrounding her. Then, with a swing of her tail, she tossed it toward Palpitoad, who seemed to be too preoccupied with its Uproar to do anything, and was slammed and buffeted with the attack, causing it to quiet instantly. Jim and Leanne were finally able to uncover their ears.

    "NOW, USE-" Jim shouted, before realizing there was no need. "Oops, 'scuse me! I mean, now, use Vine Whip!"

    June's vines came snaking out and struck at Palpitoad, who was alert and attentive again.

    "Palpitoad, catch those vines!"

    Palpitoad opened its mouth, and its long tongue came sweeping out like a lasso, wrapping around June's vines tightly, stopping the attack short. June looked both shocked and disgusted, no doubt revolted at having Palpitoad's sticky tongue around her vines. She tried to tug her vines back, but Palpitoad was bigger and stronger, and began reeling her in.

    "Now give her a toss!"

    Palpitoad braced one foot in the ground, then spun itself sharply, taking its tongue (and consequently June) with it. When he'd pulled a full revolution, he released his grip, and June went soaring high up into the air. Jim craned his neck to follow her.

    "June! Hang in there! Use Leaf Blade!"

    June seemed to regain herself, and began somersaulting once again, the leaf on her tail glowing like the sun.

    "Not this time!" said The Guy. "Palpitoad, Mud Shot!"

    Palpitoad's tongue was out again, but glowing. This time, it swung it like a whip, and a barrage of mud balls went flying like cannonballs straight for June. One of them struck, but June kept going, spinning and covered in muck. Palpitoad was struck hard on the top of the head, behind its bump, by June's tail. The recoil knocked them both back, June landing back on her feet, though shakily. Palpitoad staggered, dizzied from the blow, and then landed flat on its back. The Guy looked astounded, and Jim was no less surprised.

    "Atta girl, June!" Jim said, hurrying over, but she held up a paw to stop him. She was dripping with brown muck, and looked furious.

    "Not until I've washed…" she said, simply, and walked off toward the pool nearby.

    Jim couldn't help feeling both surprised and amused by her attitude. As she cleansed herself, The Guy helped Palpitoad back up.

    "You've put up a good effort, for your first battle," he said. "Get a good rest."

    He recalled Palpitoad to its Poke Ball, then faced Jim.

    "A tie. Not bad. It shows you're putting a lot of effort into your training, if it's come this close."

    "Thanks," said Jim. "I really hope we can meet again, so we can battle fully."

    "I have faith that we will," said The Guy with a smile. "You've got a, should I say, odd habit of turning up wherever I happen to be."

    Jim burst out laughing at this.

    "Funny!" he said, "I could say the same about you!"

    "In any case," The Guy said, "good luck to you both. I look forward to our next meeting."

    With a small nod to Leanne, he turned and started making his way off through the grass, southwards.

    "What a guy," Leanne said, admiringly. "He's tough, but he's got a good heart."

    "Yeah," Jim agreed. "He battles really well too. That's why I'm eager to see what he has next time!"

    At this moment, June rejoined them, now washed clean of mud, but still looking a little bad-tempered.

    "Hey, partner! You put up a really good fight!"

    "I suppose," she said, "but I dislike getting dirty…If I ever have to face something so disgusting as that Palpitoad again, leave me out of it."

    Jim smiled and scooped her up.

    "I'll see that I do," he said, cradling her against his cheek.

    She couldn't stay mad at him, so she just smiled and nuzzled him, as he and Leanne turned their attention to the vast mass of trees that lay ahead of them…

    My White 2 Team

  5. #20
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    Chapter 18
    A Friend in Need



    "Pinwheel Forest: a vast mass of dense greenery, expanding countless miles from Nacrene City to Skyarrow Bridge, leading to Castelia. Beautiful, yet treacherous. Scenic, yet confounding. Full of Pokemon both docile and dangerous. If you stray from the path, I promise you, you'll be lucky to find your way again…"

    These words, poetic and yet foreboding, were told to Jim by Oshawott, as the group stood staring at the massive forest that lay before them.

    "Have you been through it before?" Jim asked.

    "Certainly not," Oshawott replied, "but I have heard tales of Trainers who had entered, and yet no reports ever came of their ever leaving it…"

    "Gee, how comforting," said Jim, sarcastically. "What sort of Pokemon can we expect to see?"

    "Mostly Grass and Bug types," said Oshawott. "They can range from the gentle Sewaddle to the vicious Venipede. Be on your guard."

    Jim nodded. Leanne, on the other hand, was preoccupied with her Pokemon Egg, which she had continued to take very delicate care of. As she glanced at it, pressed against her soft stomach, however, she let out a gasp, as it began to shine with an odd yellowish light.

    "JIM! JIM!" she squealed. "The Egg! It's about to hatch!"

    Jim wheeled around, startled.

    "What??"

    "Look, see! It's glowing!"

    "Well, quick, take it out of the case!"

    Leanne opened the jar's lid, set the jar down, and gingerly picked up the Egg and set it gently on the ground. She, Jim, June, and Oshawott watched as the Egg's glows became more rapid, and then finally, the whole thing became encased in a golden light, glistening like a lighthouse beacon. All four watched, amazed, as the light intensified, and then burst away, revealing a Pokemon from within it.

    It resembled a fox kit, and had gray fur, dark-gray in a ruff around its neck, and a red-tipped scruff on its head. It stood, blinking in the sunlight with large, blue eyes. It looked straight at Leanne, who regarded it with curious interest. Jim's hand immediately went for his trusty Pokedex.

    "Zorua, the Tricky Fox Pokemon. Zorua protects its identity by transforming into other Pokemon or even people. It enjoys surprising others with these tricks, and will often laugh after it's pulled its prank."

    "Zorua…those are really rare," June commented, looking at the newborn Pokemon.

    "Aww!" Leanne gushed, scooping it up into her arms. "It's so adorable!"

    The Zorua, however, didn't seem to like this display of affection, and wriggled out of her grip, landing in front of her and giving her a steady, wary gaze. Leanne looked startled.

    "Was it something I said?"

    "Maybe it doesn't trust you yet," Jim said. "Which is kind of odd, as most babies are imprinted with whomever they see first."

    Zorua seemed to be regarding Leanne's form steadily, and then, with a toothy grin, it leaped into the air, somersaulting rapidly and glowing with a purplish light. To the astonishment of everyone, where Zorua stood now stood another Leanne, exact in appearance! However, this one seemed to be holding her hands up to below her chin, wrists slack, like a pair of paws. Zorua snickered.

    "That's unbelievable!" Jim said, going over to inspect this one.

    He walked around Zorua, looking her all over.

    "Same eyes…" he said, looking into her face. "Same hair…" Here, he'd lifted her cap off and then replaced it. "Same clothes…"

    He looked from her green T-Shirt to her jeans, even down to her sneakers. Leanne put her hands to her hips and came over to look herself. Zorua mimicked Leanne's motions, like the image in a mirror. At last, Leanne looked down at herself and poked her belly with one finger.

    "Am I that fat?" she asked, more wondering than despairing.

    "Nonsense, Leanne," said Oshawott, patting her shoulder. "You're just fine."

    Even Leanne knew this was reassurance in his Pokemon language, and she smiled for it and stroked Oshawott's furry head.

    With another jump and somersault that the real Leanne doubted she could ever do, Zorua now turned into an exact replica of Jim! Now it was Jim's turn to walk over and gaze at himself in wonder. Everything he did, Zorua did: scratching his head, twitching his foot, taking off and putting his glasses back on, removing and replacing his cap, even sticking his thumbs in his ears and sticking his tongue out in a "nyah-nyah" way, something that caused June to roll her eyes. Jim scrutinized him closely, and he (Zorua) grinned toothily. Jim looked to the others and gestured to Zorua with his thumb.

    "He's good."

    "Course I am!" said a voice behind him.

    Wheeling around, Jim realized that it was Zorua, using HIS voice!

    "I'm no newborn novice, buddy!"

    With that, Zorua performed another somersault, and this time, turned into a Snivy.

    "All Zorua are able to disguise themselves with ease," he continued, just before transforming from a Snivy into an Oshawott, before reverting back to his Zorua form.

    "And just think, Leanne," said Jim, glancing at her, "he's all yours."

    "Yeah!" Leanne took a Poke Ball from her pack. "Ready to come with us, Zorua?"

    Zorua gazed at her, then the Poke Ball.

    "…Not yet," he said, more to himself than to answer.

    "What do you mean, 'not yet'?" Jim asked.

    "If you want me to stick with her," he answered, grinning mischievously, "she's gonna have to keep up!"

    With that, to the surprise of everyone, he whipped around and sprinted off toward the forest.

    "ZORUA! Come back here!" Leanne shrieked, hurrying after him, Oshawott just barely able to hold onto her shoulder. "It's dangerous in there!"

    "Leanne, stop!" Jim called, frantically. "We're supposed to stick to the path!"

    He rushed after her, June right beside him, plunging right into the forest. He could still see Leanne ahead of him, but she quickly swerved to one side, obviously chasing Zorua. By the time Jim got to where the paths converged, Leanne was nowhere to be seen down the path she had taken.

    "LEANNE!" Jim called. "OSHAWOTT! ZORUA!"

    His voice echoed across the empty path…and no sound answered. He and June were alone, separated from their friends in Pinwheel Forest…

    "Never…trust…a Zorua!" June snapped, panting.

    "What do you mean?" Jim asked. "I thought you were impressed with them."

    "Only because of their rarity and powers of illusion…" June replied, "but they're also notorious for being sneaky, deceptive, and self-centered. He must have known we'd get lost if we had to chase him, and NOW look where we are! Why couldn't the Egg have hatched into something with more sense and reason?!"

    "I think you expect too much from a newborn," Jim reasoned. "They're bound not to know any better."

    "That's no excuse. I just hope we can reunite with Oshawott and Leanne soon…"

    She looked sadly at the path that Leanne had supposedly taken. Jim, however, noticed her tone with a smile.

    "You’re worried about him, aren’t you?"

    June stiffened, her cheeks turning red.

    "Don't be absurd," she said, icily. "Why would I have feelings for an amorous bard-brain like him?"

    "Well, I've noticed you named him first when you mentioned him and Leanne. Not to mention, I've seen you act with less animosity towards him recently."

    "He's wised up," she admitted, still coldly. "He obviously knows what sets me off, and is going out of his way to make sure I'm happy…"

    "And it's apparently working."

    June blushed deeper.

    "What about you and Leanne?" she retorted. "I've seen the way you look at her, and don't try to hide that kiss you gave her after your breakdown."

    Now it was Jim's turn to flush.

    "I…I was just caught up in the moment," he stammered. "And-And besides, she's special. She's…sweet, funny, full of energy…I've never had a friend like her…"

    The two looked at each other, both uncomfortable.

    "Look, we're just wasting time, bantering like this. If we want to sustain any hope of finding them, we have to start now."

    "Right. We'd best follow the path she took. Hopefully, she's still on it somewhere."

    June clambered onto her shoulder, and the two struck out down the path, with alert ears and nervous, but steadfast, hearts…

    ***


    While not dark and grim, there was a certain foreboding nature to the Forest. All was quiet, except for the rustling of leaves and the occasional crunch of twigs beneath Jim's feet. Sunlight was filtering through the thick treetops in varied patches, illuminating the forest floor dimly, but enough for the two to see where they were going. As they went, also, Jim could see shadows: small, insect-like shadows vanishing almost as soon as they were discovered. He hurriedly tried to scan whatever there was with his Pokedex, but by the time he faced them, they were no longer in range, so he had no idea what to expect…

    They had been walking for what felt like hours, when a new sound reached their ears: a voice, like a young girl's, crying for help.

    "Uh oh," Jim said. "Do you think it's someone else lost in the forest?"

    "It's possible," said June, thoughtfully, "but I think it's a Pokemon, rather than a human."

    "Still, we'd better see what's the matter."

    The two set off briskly through the trees toward the voice…and found a very peculiar sight.

    A sturdy apple tree stood in the middle of a clearing, and there, sticking halfway out of a hole near its base, was a Pokemon resembling a little white squirrel. It had round ears, black patterning on its head that resembled a hood, yellow circles on its cheeks, and yellow, sail-like flaps beneath its arms. It was pushing against the trunk of the tree, trying to extricate itself, but it seemed to be wedged in the hole by its plump belly, and there were tears in its little eyes.

    Jim hurried over to it and knelt in front of it. The Pokemon looked up and gasped at the sight of someone so unexpected, but as it couldn't do much to get away, all it could do was watch him as he took out his Pokedex.

    "Emolga, the Sky Squirrel Pokemon. Emolga glides using a special membrane under its arms. It flies from tree to tree, discharging electricity as it goes."

    "Were you the one that was calling?" Jim asked, gently.

    "Yes," answered the Emolga, in indeed the same voice as the one crying for help, though now it was timid. "I'm stuck."

    "We can see that," said June, glancing at the Emolga's stomach jammed in the hole. The Emolga blushed.

    "It's all right," said Jim. "What are you doing in there anyway?"

    "I…I really like to eat," said Emolga, with an embarrassed smile. "So I made this apple tree my home…but now I'm too big for the door."

    Jim smiled kindly and stroked her head.

    "It's all right. Don't feel bad about it. We're going to get you out of there. Now give me your paws."

    Emolga held out her little paws, which Jim grasped between his fingers. He gave a strong tug on her arms, but she didn't move at all. He tried a couple more times, but had no better progress. Emolga was looking embarrassed again, but Jim turned to his Snivy partner.

    "June, can you lend a vine or two?"

    "No problem, Jim," replied June, sending out her vines, which wrapped around Emolga's paunch firmly.

    "1...2...3!'

    Both pulled at the same time, and with a jerk, Emolga began to budge forward. She was coming loose!

    "A little more!" said Jim, and they tugged even harder.

    With a pop, Emolga slipped out of the hole and landed against Jim's chest, nearly making him fall backwards, but she clung to his jacket, and he supported her underneath with his arms. Now that she was out, Jim could see she also had a curved tail vaguely shaped like a lightning bolt. For a moment, the two sat staring at each other, and then Emolga's face broke into a sunny smile.

    "Thanks," she said, gratefully. "I was worried I'd be stuck there for good."

    "Anytime," said Jim, and her set her down. "Just try to be more careful next time. Maybe you should find a bigger tree."

    "And limit your apples," June added.

    "June, be nice."

    "It was only friendly advice, Jim."

    "Well, so long, Emolga," said Jim, and the two started back off down the path, which ran past the tree.

    Emolga stared after them, looking a little disappointed. However, the two hadn't gone far before Jim felt a sudden weight land on top of his hat, and a pair of tiny hands covered his eyes behind his glasses.

    "Guess who!" came Emolga's voice, giggling.

    Nonplussed, Jim plucked her off his hat and set her back down on the ground, giving her a pat on the head before moving on. It wasn't long, though, before he felt something heavy on his leg. He looked down to see Emolga, clinging onto his calf like a child does when playing this sort of game with its father. This time, June wrapped her vines around her middle and gently tugged her off, setting her aside, and the two pressed on. Most alarming of all, however, was Emolga suddenly springing from nowhere and clinging with her little paws onto Jim's jacket. She smiled cutely at him. With a sigh, Jim picked her up under her arms and held her in front of him. He didn't admit it out loud, but it felt like holding a very soft, warm plush toy.

    "Fun's fun, Emolga," he said, "but we don't have time to play around. Two of our friends are lost in the forest, and we've wasted too much time already."

    "Oh that's awful!" said Emolga, distressed. "I had no idea. It's not easy to find your way through Pinwheel Forest, especially if you have no idea where you're going."

    "Right. So we can't waste any time. I'm sorry, Emolga, but we can't stick around."

    "Then let me help you! I know the forest like the back of my flap!"

    "What, on foot?" June asked.

    "No, silly, by air!" said Emolga, as if amused by June missing something obvious.

    June raised an eyebrow.

    "Forgive me for sounding skeptical," she said, "but I fail to see how someone of your…figure is capable of flight, even if it is native to your species."

    Emolga put both paws to her belly, looking a little hurt.

    "I know I'm chubby," she said, "but I can still glide. Watch me!"

    With that, she sprang out of Jim's hands and started soaring circles around them, Jim and June's heads revolving on their necks to watch her movements. Then she flew upwards, and glided back down in a steep dive, landing on her feet right in front of them. Both Jim and June looked stunned.

    "That was incredible!" said Jim, looking down at her in astonished admiration.

    Emolga gave him a glowing smile.

    "Well," said June, "you certainly exceeded my expectations."

    "So? Will you let me come with you now?" Emolga asked, eagerly.

    "Of course!" said Jim. "Lead the way!"

    With a squeak of delight, Emolga clambered up the nearest tree, jumped off its side, and started gliding off down the path, Jim and June close behind…

    ***


    Their pace was brisk, which was necessary to keep up with Emolga as she soared ahead. Every now and then, Jim could now see the Pokemon native to the Forest.

    The first that he saw was a little caterpillar wearing what seemed to be a leaf hood on its head and a leaf wrapping around its body, nibbling at another leaf with tiny little mandibles.

    Another resembled a plant bulb. It was tiny and green, except for its pale white face, and had two tufts on its head, and seemed to always be wherever a patch of sunlight was hitting the forest floor.

    What unsettled Jim, though, was the sight of a Pokemon that resembled a little centipede. It had red-purple armor and a green abdomen, several tiny legs, a humped back, pointed antennae, and glaring yellow eyes. These were often crawling along the sides of trees, and watched the travelers with cautious, suspicious looks. Of course, Jim wasted no time in seeing what each of these were.

    "Sewaddle, the Sewing Pokemon. It hides from predators using a leaf it wears as a hood. It eats its leaf clothing when food is scarce."

    "Petilil, the Bulb Pokemon. The leaves on their heads are bitter-tasting, but relieve tiredness when consumed. All Petilil are female and prefer areas with moist, nutrient-rich soil."

    "Venipede, the Centipede Pokemon, It senses what is going on with the feelers on its head and tail. Venipede are brutally aggressive, and their poisonous bites are enough to subdue bird Pokemon, their mortal enemy."

    "I really don't like the look of those Venipede," Jim muttered, pocketing his Pokedex.

    "Yeah," said Emolga, who had stopped for a rest, "the Venipede of Pinwheel Forest are really clever, but not very friendly. Still, not all of them are bad. And, in any case, I can handle them if a nasty one picks a fight with me!"

    "What, you fight too?" asked June.

    "Come on, not that again," said Emolga, paws going to her little hips. "Of course I can! Watch!"

    She tensed, electrical sparks surrounding her and shooting from her cheeks. And then, with a crack like thunder, she threw her arms open and shot a bolt of lightning through the trees, conveniently missing the Venipede ahead. Emolga was looking proud, and Jim was just applauding her display of electrical prowess, when the air was rent by what sounded like a roar of pain and fury, echoing through the forest.

    Nobody said anything. Emolga's ears lowered, uneasiness etched all over her furry face. And then, a new sound filled the air: the dull, heavy sound of huge feet stomping toward them. All the Venipede and Sewaddle scattered into the safety of the topmost branches of the trees. As the stomping became louder, and the ground actually began to shake from it, Jim saw a horrible sight…

    Stomping toward them was an enormous centipede, 8 feet tall, magenta-colored with a black, flabby underbelly. It walked on four thick legs, and four pairs of small, claw-tipped forelegs adorned its neck. Its head was decorated with two huge, curved horns, and two similar appendages were on its tail.

    Jim had guessed what it was by its coloring alone, but was even more confirmed in his guesses when he saw the beast glaring down at the three of them with familiar yellow eyes. He took out his Pokedex with trembling hands.

    "Scolipede, the Megapede Pokemon, and the final evolved form of Venipede. With astounding speed, it attacks its opponent with its horns until victorious. Highly aggressive, Scolipede injects its prey with a deadly poison from its fore-claws."

    "I knew it," Jim said, weakly.

    "Nice going, Shock-Master," June said, icily.

    Emolga gazed up nervously at the angry Scolipede.

    "…It was an accident?" she said, weakly.

    The Scolipede growled, and its fore-claws seemed to glow with a poisonous purple glow. Emolga blanched and backed away.

    "R-Really, it was an accident," said Jim, not taking his eyes off its. "It was no intent of ours to disturb you. So, if you will, we'll just be on our way and disturb you no longer…"

    He began to sidle to one side, but the Scolipede charged forward and tried to ram him with its horns, narrowly missing.

    "Negotiations won't work on this brute!" June shouted. "I say run for it!"

    "Way ahead of ya!" Jim turned, scooped the two under his arms, and bolted back the way they came.

    Good thing, too, because there was a splattering noise right behind at his heels. When Jim looked, there was a puddle of purple slime splashed across the grass, and it began to sizzle even as he ran from it. This Scolipede was not messing around…

    Jim had never remembered when he had ever run so fast, sprinting between every gap in the trees he could manage, jumping over logs and thick tree branches in the way as the angered Scolipede charged after them, knocking everything away in its path. Of course, he had played chasing games as a kid with Cheren and Bianca, but never under such terrifying circumstances. Occasionally he heard another splatter and hiss as the Scolipede was attempting to spit poison at him. He wasn't sure where he was going, but didn't care. He just wanted to get away as quickly as possible, and find some way to drive off the enraged Bug-type…

    His hopes were cut short, however, as he came to an abrupt stop. Jim hadn't noticed that they had been going uphill as they were being chased, and now they were standing at the top of a steep mountain cliff, below which Jim could faintly see the line of a swift-moving river going along a craggy ravine. One false step and he, June, and Emolga would have plunged right into it.

    With a gulp, he heard a familiar stomp close behind him, and turning around, there was the Scolipede, panting from running, but still looking very angry. It seemed to be regarding Jim's position and the ravine below, and its eyes narrowed as if with sinister pleasure at its prey's lack of escape. It started stomping closer, its pincers glowing purple again, ready to strike like a snake and jab him with their poisonous touch.

    "June," Jim said, weakly, "I never thought it'd end like this…"

    "Nor did I…" said June.

    Even she knew it was pointless to try and fight back against something so huge and dangerous, especially when no attack she possessed would have any effect.

    "Emolga, I'm sorry I dragged you into this…"

    "It's my fault," Emolga whimpered. "I made it mad. Can you ever forgive me?…"

    "Sure, Emolga. At least we'll go together…"

    And all three of them could do was watch and wait, prepared for the worst, as the monstrous Scolipede lunged for them…

    My White 2 Team

  6. #21
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    Chapter 19
    Love is Power



    *SPLASH!*

    From seemingly out of nowhere, a jet of water shot through the trees and struck the Scolipede on its side, stopping its attack and throwing it onto its side. Stunned, Jim turned to see Oshawott and Leanne stepping out of the trees, the former glaring boldly at the upended insect, Pidove fluttering by the latter's shoulder.

    "Leanne!!' Jim croaked, setting June and Emolga down before rushing to her.

    "Jim!!"

    The two embraced each other tightly.

    "You're all right!" Jim said, after finally breaking apart.

    "Of course we are! We heard that Scolipede roaring and stomping after you and followed it. We had a feeling something had really got it steamed, but we didn't think it'd be you. Are you ok?"

    "A little shaken, but otherwise, just fine. Did you ever find Zorua?"

    Leanne's face fell.

    "No. We didn't see him anywhere…" she said.

    "Oh. Leanne, I'm sorry."

    "It's all right…maybe I wasn't ready for it."

    Their moment was interrupted, however, as the angered Scolipede had regained its footing. It began scratching the ground with its foot, like a bull about to charge. Its slit-pupil eyes were roving across the group, as if choosing its first victim, and finally, they landed on…June!

    With a roar, its pincers glowing like purple fire, Scolipede barreled straight for her. Jim yelled and tried to rush over to her, but Oshawott, eyes blazing with anger at the endangerment of his beloved, had whipped off his scalchop and had lunged straight for Scolipede, like a medieval knight facing a savage dragon. His Razor Shell formed into a long, glowing blue blade, and as he got close, he leaped and struck the huge Megapede Pokemon a smart blow across the chest…but he had gotten too close. With a malignant gleam in its eye, Scolipede struck, and stabbed Oshawott right in the stomach with one of its pincers!

    Leanne shrieked, and Jim gaped. June teetered, her eyes wide and mouth open, as if struck by a crushing blow.

    She had tried to assert to others (and more to herself) that she only bore a certain tolerance to the charismatic Oshawott and his advances. Now, however, seeing him pierced with the venomous claw of one of the most dangerous Bug-types in the world…it brought her view of him into a much more different light. Of course he had been persistent in his attempts to win her heart, but he was also polite, friendly, and bold. He had thrown himself into the jaws of danger for her sake, and she had done nothing for him…

    Such a sudden realization brought real tears to June's eyes, as Oshawott fell limply in front of Scolipede. The beast, for its part, had lifted its foot over the prostrate Water-type, ready to smash it beneath its foot. It had hardly moved, however, before something like a glowing green ball struck it square in the face. Glaring around, it looked for the source of the resistance, and saw June standing before it, tears of rage on her cheeks, her hands forward, and the leaf on her tail glowing white-hot in the pure sunlight.

    "Stay away from him, you monster!" she snarled, another glowing ball forming in her hands.

    Startled as he was, Jim took out his Pokedex to check this phenomenon.

    "Energy Ball, a Special Grass-type Attack which has a small chance of lowering the target's Special Defense."

    June fired the one she had just formed, which struck Scolipede again, but it seemed using a new attack under such anguish was too much for her, and she collapsed onto her face.

    "JUNE!" Jim screamed, hurrying to retrieve her, as Scolipede bore down on her.

    Suddenly, a lightning bolt struck Scolipede in the chest, stopping it short enough for Jim to scoop June and Oshawott up and return to Leanne. Leanne took Oshawott in her arms and cradled him, weeping into his fur. His eyes were closed, and his face had gone an unpleasant color. He was breathing, but very fast. Emolga had stepped in, cheeks sparking with electricity, glaring at Scolipede.

    "Don't you dare hurt my new friends!" she snapped.

    Scolipede shook its head to recalibrate its senses and glared at Emolga. Just as each was about to attack, however, something new had struck Scolipede in the face: an Air Cutter. Pidove had joined the fray, no doubt hoping to avenge her fallen friend Oshawott.

    This was too much. Scolipede, buffeted and smarting from so many attacks inflicted on it one after the other, went into a blind rage, and it began spitting its venomous goo at the two interfering Pokemon. Both split to the sides, the slime splattering between them. Emolga soared around Scolipede, shocking its magenta hide as she went, while Pidove flitted here and there, peppering it with Air Cutters. At last, the two banded together to form a combo attack: Pidove sent a large final Air Cutter, and Emolga charged it with her electricity, electrifying it. It struck Scolipede square on its tender underside, sending it flying back to the edge of the cliff. Unfortunately for it, the cliff edge wasn't strong enough to bear its immense weight, and it crumbled. Everyone watched, aghast, as the Scolipede, so recent a menace, slipped and tumbled into the ravine. They looked over the edge, but there was no sign of it at all…

    "Emolga…Pidove…you saved us…" Jim said, breathless.

    Emolga was still looking stunned at what she had just done. Pidove, for her part, had thrown her wings open, trilled, and began to glow with a bluish light. Leanne gasped.

    "Pidove! …She's evolving!"

    Within the light, Pidove began to grow taller, her legs and wings lengthening. At last, when it vanished, Pidove was gone, and in its place was a new bird Pokemon. She was gray and black in color, with a red "half-mask" above her now sharp yellow eyes. She had a tufty crest on the back of her head and a plume of feathers on the back of her neck. Jim's Pokedex was out once again.

    "Tranquill, the Wild Pigeon Pokemon, and the evolved form of Pidove. Tranquill will always return to its Trainer regardless of distance. It is believed that wherever Tranquill reside, there is no conflict or war."

    Tranquill flew over and settled on Leanne's shoulder, nuzzled against her cheek. Leanne smiled and stroked her soft feathers.

    "I'm really proud of you, Tranquill. You'd never have evolved if I hadn't brought you with me." Tranquill looked sad, however.

    "I just wish I could have saved Oshawott…" she said.

    Leanne could tell by her forlorn glance at Oshawott what she was saying, and she gloomily gazed down at her poisoned companion.

    "Is there a Pokemon Center anywhere near here?" Jim asked, desperately.

    Emolga hung her head.

    "There is, but it's a long way off. By then, he may have already…"

    Misery was etched on every face. The brave Oshawott had given his all, and had been struck so low...

    Suddenly, Emolga perked up again, realization on her face.

    "Pecha!"

    "Gesundheit," said Jim.

    "No no! Pecha Berries! We need Pecha Berries! They cure poison!"

    "What? Oh! That's right!"

    "Yes! Do you have any?"

    "Tons!"

    Jim went to his backpack and the cooler inside it, fishing around in it feverishly before finally extracting a whole, unspoiled Pecha Berry. Leanne was looking hopeful again as he hurried over to Oshawott. His face was still an unnatural hue, but his breathing had slowed. Jim gently shook him.

    "Oshawott! Oshawott, stay with me, buddy…"

    To his inexpressible joy, Oshawott's eyes slowly opened.

    "I have something for you, but you have to eat it. I need you to do that for me."

    He held the Pecha Berry to Oshawott's lips, and he took a bite from it, chewing slowly. As they watched, the natural color returned to Oshawott's face, and the wound from Scolipede's pincer lost the nasty color it had caused. At the same time, June began to come around, and she gasped when she saw Oshawott sit up in Leanne's arms, scalchop still in his paw.

    "OSHAWOTT!!" Leanne croaked, cradling him close to her cheek. "You're all right! I was afraid I'd lost you!"

    "I still wish I could have gotten a better fight with that brute…" he said, regrettably, "but I'm glad to be back among the hearty and hale. Oh, Leanne!"

    He nuzzled her gratefully. Leanne looked over at Jim, and when she saw him holding June, and was giving her a meaningful look, she understood and nodded. Both Trainers set their Pokemon down to face each other.

    "June?"

    "Oshawott…I…" June started.

    She seemed uncomfortable.

    "What is it?…"

    "…Thank you…"

    She dashed forward and gripped his paws in hers tightly.

    "If it hadn't been for you…I would've been the one poisoned, and not you…"

    Then, a flash of anger crossed her face, and she slapped Oshawott with her tail-leaf.

    "But that was a very foolish thing to do! What on Earth were you thinking?!"

    Oshawott held his stinging cheek and grinned.

    "Only of preserving your life, dear June…"

    June gave a small gasp.

    "Yes, it was reckless. Yes, it was foolish, but I didn't care. I did it out of-"

    "Love?" June finished.

    Oshawott paused, perhaps not expecting her to say that.

    "To tell you the truth," she continued, "when you went down…I let my emotions sweep me over. I fought back, even though I had no chance of harming Scolipede. I did it because I was afraid I'd lost you…" Tears were in her eyes. "I don't know what to think anymore…"

    Oshawott smiled gently and gripped her paws again.

    "Don't think. Just let go…" he said, softly. "Let your heart guide you…"

    June gazed into his bright, energetic eyes. She felt all the warmth and love he had harbored towards her overcome her. She closed her eyes, and then said, in an equally gentle voice,

    "…I do love you…It took me so long to realize…I love you…"

    "Dear June…"

    "Dear Oshawott…"

    The two of them held each other in a warm, close embrace. June's cheeks were tinged with pink, but it was no shameful embarrassment that reddened her face. It was pure romantic joy. Jim was beaming, and he looked over at Leanne, who was sniffling and dabbing at her eyes. Tranquill had fished a handkerchief from her pack and handed it to her. Emolga too had tears in her eyes, touched by such a warm scene.

    It was then that Jim remembered.

    "That's right! We never introduced you!"

    He scooped Emolga up in his hands and turned to his friends.

    "Leanne, Tranquill, Oshawott,"

    Oshawott and June were now standing close together, each with an arm around the other, giving Jim their attention.

    "I want you to meet Emolga. She's been our guide through Pinwheel Forest."

    "A pleasure," said Oshawott, giving a low bow.

    "Aww, she's adorable!" gushed Leanne. "Can I hold her?"

    "Of course!"

    He handed her to Leanne, who held her up.

    "Just look at you, you little cutie!"

    Emolga giggled, obviously loving the attention.

    "Oh, you're a big girl, aren't you? I've got your little belly, yes I do!"

    She tickled Emolga's stomach, making her giggle even more.

    "Aw, Jim, can I keep her?"

    Emolga looked a little surprised at this. She was looking at Jim, as if she hoped he'd say no.

    "But Leanne, you've got Zorua."

    "No I don't…now that he's run away…"

    "Well…"

    Suddenly, Leanne felt something tugging at her leg. She looked down…and there seemed to be another Emolga, only this one was much more slender than theirs.

    "Huh? Another Emolga?"

    "What are the odds of that?" Jim wondered.

    But his question was answered as the Emolga flashed a familiar toothy grin, jumped up, somersaulted, and turned back into…

    "Zorua!"

    "I was watching the way you guys handled that Scolipede," he said. "That was way cool!"

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

    "Well, after seeing what just went down, I decided that, maybe I will stick around for a while. Besides, your friend seems like an ok girl."

    "She's more than ok, Zorua. She's a wonderful Trainer."

    Leanne blushed at this. Zorua rubbed against her leg affectionately, and then sat down in front of her, expectant.

    "Oh, Zorua!" Leanne chirped. "You really want to come with me?"

    Zorua nodded, smiling.

    "Oh, wonderful!"

    She then looked at Emolga in her arms, then to Jim.

    "Hey, Jim, do you want Emolga?"

    "R-Really? Me?"

    "Yeah! She obviously seems to like you!"

    She set Emolga in his arms, and just to prove the accuracy of her words, she snuggled up against him and gave him a lick on the chin. Jim smiled and cradled her.

    "Of course I will!" he said. "It's gonna be you and me, little missy!" Then, a thought struck him. "Hey…Missy. That's not a bad name for you. What do you think?"

    "Yeah! Missy! I like that name!"

    "Great!"

    He set Missy down and took out an empty Poke Ball, as Leanne did as well.

    "Welcome to the team!"

    They both threw their Poke Balls, and Missy and Zorua leaped to intercept them. They pressed the buttons and vanished inside them, landing in their Trainers' palms. They twitched a little, and then fell still with a click.

    "Yeah! I've just caught…an Emolga!"

    "And I've got me…a Zorua!"

    They both held their Poke Balls aloft like prizes. June and Oshawott applauded. Then, Jim clicked his Poke Ball to bring Missy back out again.

    "Ok, Missy, think you can lead us to the other end of the Forest, to Skywarrow Bridge?"

    "No problem!" said Missy, cheerily. "Follow me! Come on, Tranquill!"

    She took off into the air, Tranquill beside her, as Jim scooped June up. She was still rosy-cheeked.

    "I'm really proud of you, June…" he said, gently. "I knew you could do it…"

    June beamed and licked his cheek. Leanne picked up Oshawott, and the two Trainers followed the Flying types back into the dense mass of trees…

    My White 2 Team

  7. #22
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 20
    N Again



    They moved briskly all the rest of that day and into the next, Missy and Tranquill flying ahead. From time to time, Tranquill would fly above the trees to report if they were getting closer to the other side or not. Missy, for her part, kept their path lit by her electric glow, glimmering like a lantern. They saw more Venipede as they went along, but they kept their distance. It seemed they had become aware of what had happened to the Scolipede…

    Despite being healed from the poison that had been inflicted upon him, Oshawott was still not allowed to walk on his own. He spent the rest of their walk cradled in Leanne's arms like a child. From time to time, Jim would let June snuggle up beside him to keep him company. It made him smile to see the little Snivy nestled side-by-side with her Oshawott pal. It made him laugh, also, when Missy would take a break from flying to settle in Jim's arms instead, where he'd scratch her behind her ears or rub her belly.

    He wanted to get her into training, pitting her against Sewaddle or Venipede, but whenever this came up, she refused. She’d cross her arms and pout, and nothing Jim said or did made her budge. Eventually, he gave up and just had her lead the way, but didn’t notice June giving the Emolga a cold look as she went off...

    Jim also took the opportunity to train Rok some more. It took a little to get him going at first, however, as he was still smarting from the battle with Scrafty, and there wasn't a Pokemon Center nearby. It did prove the perfect opportunity to properly implement Rok's new diet, which the little Archen was highly grateful for. Jim took a circular Tupperware dish from his pack and crushed a handful of Oran and Pecha Berries into it, making a purplish juice with a very sweet aroma. He then sliced up a Sitrus Berry into square chunks with a knife and dunked them into the juice mix. He then fed Rok as many chunks as he wanted with a fork.

    During the first feeding, Missy got interested, and was going to taste a piece, but Rok, not knowing who she was, growled and snapped his fanged beak at her. She yelped and cowered behind Jim.

    "No no no, Rok, it's ok," Jim soothed. "This is Missy. She's a friend."

    "…Mizzy…friend?"

    "Miss-see. Yes, friend."

    "Ahh…Miss-see friend!" he exclaimed, with a smile.

    Missy came back from behind Jim's leg.

    "Me sorry for scaring Miss-see. Want bite?"

    He held out a piece drizzling with juice.

    "Yeah!"

    She gladly accepted it and munched into it. Her face was smeared from cheek to cheek with the juice.

    "Mmm! This is even better than apples!"

    "Miss-see like apples?"

    "You bet! A little too much, I'd say…"

    She blushed and patted her rounded belly.

    "Amazing how I can still fly…"

    Rok gasped.

    "Miss-see fly?"

    "Of course! I'm an Emolga, silly!"

    "Show Rok fly! Show Rok fly!"

    Jim had never seen Rok so excited. His eyes had gone wide as saucers, and he was hopping like a rabbit, flapping his wings energetically. With a giggle, Missy climbed up the nearest tree, onto the lowest branch, then leaped from it, gliding around them in graceful loop-de-loops.

    Rok was watching her every move with the keenest interest, and he was continually running forward, flapping his wings, as if trying to get off the ground. He went too fast, however, and smacked right into an old tree. Jim winced as he heard the audible bonk of his hard skull on the aged bark. He sat down, looked at his wings, then burst into wailing sobs. Everyone gathered around to comfort him.

    "Rok, it's all right, buddy," said Jim, consolingly.

    "No it not," Rok sniffed. "Me wanna fly, but me no fly!"

    "Well, you've just come back from a really long sleep," said Leanne, "maybe you just need practice."

    Rok sniffled and looked at her with streaming eyes.

    "Think so?…"

    "I know so, little pal." Leanne said, petting his head. "A few trials, a few battles, and who knows?"

    Rok wiped his face with his wing and smiled.

    "Ok! Me practice until best flyer ever!"

    "That's the spirit!" said Jim. "Let's get cracking!"

    Both got to their feet, and Rok sprinted into the brush looking for Pokemon to battle. Jim glanced at Leanne.

    "Thanks for cheering him up," he said.

    "Think nothing of it," she said. "I never liked hearing babies cry, but that was even worse…"

    Both of them laughed.

    ***


    There was something very odd that happened later on in their travels.

    They were nearing the other side of the forest, by Missy's reckoning, and would reach the Pokemon Center at the end within the next hour or two. Rok had just finished another round of training (it almost ended nastily when he got his beak cocooned by an especially grumpy Sewaddle), and was resting in his Poke Ball. They had come to a pond or a lake to the right of the path, decorated with flowering lily pads. Jim couldn't tell exactly what it was, but something about that space seemed close, guarded, and untouched, as if some unseen guardian had their eyes on everything at once in that space.

    Then, as he was looking about, perhaps for a glimpse of who was keeping such close observations, he saw a strange shape in the shadow of the far trees. It had the form of a deer, but one with horns curved to the sides of its head. As he stared, he suddenly caught a glimpse of glowing eyes, and then, inexplicably, a rush of excitement and panic swept over him. He let out a yell of terror and fell back.

    Everyone whirled around to look at him. Jim shook his head, eyes closed, and when he reopened them, the figure was gone.

    "Jim?" Leanne asked, coming over. "What was all that about?"

    "There was…in the…didn't anyone else see it?"

    Nobody said anything. It was clear by their expressions that none of them had seen what Jim saw, and were possibly afraid he had become momentarily disturbed in the mind.

    "There was some…something out there! It looked like a deer."

    "A Deerling, maybe?"

    "No…it was too big to be a Deerling. It looked at me with these sharp, glowing eyes, and I heard a voice in my head say "Begone!", and I guess it…spooked me…"

    Unlike the others, June looked more understanding.

    "Then you might have seen…but that'd be impossible…"

    "What? What do you think it was?"

    "It's just a fairy tale, mind you, but legends tell of a mysterious guardian of the Forest, vigilant and fierce, wary and distrusting of humans."

    She turned her gaze to Missy, whose jaw was hanging open.

    "I don't suppose you know about it?"

    "Well, yeah, I've heard of it," said Missy, "but I've never seen it before. Nobody's really seen it, I guess, unless it wants to be seen. Besides, I hardly ever come by this section of the Forest."

    "Oh, of course," said June, in a rather bitter tone of voice. “I wouldn’t expect you to want to wander far from your little apple tree.”

    "What's that supposed to mean??" Missy asked, sounding offended.

    "Girls, girls!" Jim said, stepping in to break them up. "Now's not the time for petty arguments. Whatever's in this part of the forest wants us to leave right now, so I say we do."

    June clambered onto Jim's shoulder, giving Missy a cold look. The Emolga looked confused.

    "What did I do?" she asked, taking off again to lead.

    "What the heck was that about?" Jim asked June.

    "I don't know if I trust her yet," she replied. "Mind you, she was the one who enraged that Scolipede."

    "That was an accident!"

    "I'm just trying to keep you from dragging along a free-rider."

    "Free-rider? What's that supposed to mean?"

    "Simply tagging along and reaping the benefits without putting in actual effort."

    "What are you talking about? You saw her fight off that Scolipede!"

    "No I didn't. I was unconscious, in case you forgot..."

    "Oh…right. Still, you ought to at least give her a chance. She tried to show Rok how to fly, so she's not bad at all…"

    "I suppose, although I’ve yet to see you put in the effort to train her as well. All you’ve been doing is petting her and treating her like a pet.”

    “I’ve tried to get her to, but she doesn’t want to. I’m not going to force her to do something she doesn’t want to. How would you like it if I made you fight a Pokemon you had no chance against, and I wasn’t going to take no for an answer? That may be how Team Plasma would do it, but not me. I’m going to let her train at her own pace.”

    June said nothing to this. On the one hand, she didn’t like Missy getting a free ride in all of this, without earning her keep. On the other hand, she did see some sense in Jim’s rationale, and certainly wouldn’t have wanted training forced on her. She’d keep a close eye on this Emolga, though...

    ***


    At last, accompanied by a loud trill from Tranquill, Missy settled on a branch at eye-level and pointed excitedly. There, up ahead, was a wooden building resembling a lob cabin, the roof bearing the familiar symbol of a Pokemon Center. Tranquill fluttered onto Leanne's shoulder.

    "There it is!" Missy said, proudly. "Past the Pokemon Center is the entrance to Skyarrow Bridge!"

    "Good work, Missy! You've been really helpful!"

    Missy blushed. June rolled her eyes.

    "You did great too, Tranquill!" said Leanne, stroking her feathers.

    "So! You've managed to make it at last…"

    The voice came from the direction of the Pokemon Center. They all looked, and to Jim's astonishment, there, leaning against the wall, was N, the boy he had encountered in Accumula Town.

    "N! What are you doing here?"

    "Simply enjoying the last stretch of untainted land in Pinwheel Forest, communing with the native Pokemon…"

    His eyes fell on Missy.

    "My, my, that's a very interesting Emolga you have. Had her long?"

    "No. Just caught her today."

    He reached up and stroked Missy's fur.

    "If I'm not mistaken," he said, shrewdly, "you were using her to pick your way through the forest. Will the extent of human control over Pokemon never cease expanding?…"

    "What's your point?" Jim asked, sharply.

    "It's enough that we force them to battle, but using them as our guide dogs…"

    He shook his head in a disappointed fashion. Missy looked puzzled.

    "Who's this guy?" she asked.

    "His name's N," said Jim. "He's a follower of a movement called Pokemon liberation."

    "Liba-what?" Missy asked, scratching her head.

    "He means, releasing Pokemon back into the wild," answered Oshawott.

    "What?? But Pokemon and humans are friends! Why would they want to do something like that??"

    "I can see that you are already succumbing, little one," N said. "It's no matter. You're just starting out, after all."

    "Look here," said Jim, annoyed, "if you want to battle, just say so and be done with it. All this banter's unnecessary."

    "Oh, I quite agree," said N, tugging up the brim of his cap, "I hope, for your sake, you've managed to strengthen yourself as I have."

    "Oh, you bet!" Jim said, taking a Poke Ball from his belt. "What'll it be this time?"

    "How about a three-on-three? That sound fair?"

    "Perfect!"

    "Then let us begin!"

    N threw his first Poke Ball, and from it appeared…a Tirtouga! Jim's jaw dropped. There it was, an honest-to-goodness Tirtouga!

    "Where did you get that??"

    "My sources, are my own," N answered, mysteriously.

    That wasn’t good enough for Jim, however.

    "This is too coincidental."

    "Pardon?"

    "A few nights ago, Team Plasma stole a pair of Fossils from the Nacrene Museum, and now you turn up with a Tirtouga. What I don’t understand is how you managed to get your hands on one when we returned those Fossils. What, you follow their liberation agenda to a T? Does that extend to grand theft archeologico?"

    "Are you calling me a thief as well? Come now, I may have the best interests of all Pokemon at heart, but I don't resort to something so low and deceitful!"

    To Jim's surprise, N was sounding quite bitter, as if the idea of Pokemon thievery was something inexcusable to him as well. In fact, he could have sworn he heard N mutter under his breath,

    "If they'd only listened…"

    In a moment, however, he had regained his composure.

    "Now then, choose your Pokemon."

    "Gladly! Jolt, it's all you!"

    He tossed up his Poke Ball, and Jolt appeared, pawing the dewy grass.

    "A Blitzle, eh? The quintessential Electric type of a beginning Trainer. Don't let your fancies run away with you, however. It may have the advantage over Tirtogua's Water-type half, but the Rock-type half may win it for me."

    "We'll see! Jolt, Shock Wave!"

    Jolt's mane sparkled and glowed yellow before sending a large lightning bolt straight for Tirtouga.

    "Tirtouga, Protect!"

    Tirtouga withdrew its head and fins into its shell as a glowing bluish-green sphere, like a shield, surrounded it. The Shock Wave struck it and was deflected.

    "Now, use Rollout!"

    The shield disappeared, and Tirtouga, still in its shell, leaped up, turned on its side, and began to spin rapidly like a wheel. It then shot forward at astounding speed, too fast for Jolt. He was mowed down, as if he had been run over by a car, but that wasn't the end of it. Tirtouga, having rolled on some distance after hitting Jolt, had made a U-turn and came back for another strike.

    "Jolt, jump!" Jim commanded.

    Jolt sprang up, and Tirtouga rolled right beneath him. Tirtouga struck a tree, unfolded from its shell, and landed neatly back on its fins.

    "Now, use Flame Charge!"

    He knew this must have sounded like a daft idea, but it was better than Quick Attack in terms of power. Not questioning his judgment, Jolt blasted forward, shrouded in flames.

    "How laughable," remarked N. "Tirtouga, Water Gun!"

    Tirtouga spouted a blast of water from its beak. It struck the flame shielding around Blitzle, but to N's surprise, the flames didn't flicker at all. The water simply evaporated into steam.

    "Impossible!"

    "This is no ordinary Blitzle, N! This one's honed his skills to their max!"

    Jolt struck Tirtouga, and though it looked buffeted, it was still standing. N smiled.

    "Unfortunately for you, Tirtouga has double resistance against Fire-type attacks. Now, Tirtouga, Rollout once more!"

    Once again, Tirtouga tucked into its shell and barreled straight for Jolt.

    "But not to Electric-type!" Jim countered. "Jolt, hold it down with Stomp!"

    Jolt struck out with his two hooves and managed to grasp Tirtouga's madly spinning shell in place. It grated against his hooves with the grinding sound of a whetstone being put to use. Jolt flinched, but still held strong.

    "Now, Shock Wave!"

    Jolt's mane glowed yellow again, and this time the electricity coursed from his forelegs right into Tirtouga's shell. Jolt then tossed it right against a tree. The force of impact brought its fins and head back out, and it slumped to the grass, eyes rolling dizzily. N shook his head as he recalled Tirtouga.

    "My fault for test-driving a newly-revived Fossil in a Trainer battle."

    "Relax. I had the same issue."

    N looked up at him, eyebrows raised.

    "Come again?"

    "But now we're ready this time! Rok, it's your turn!"

    He tossed his next Poke Ball, and out came Rok, wings wide open. N looked at him with very keen interest.

    "An Archen! My, my, the natural opposite of Tirtouga. It seems we were tailor-made to be rivals."

    "I never really saw it like that. So what's your Pokemon?"

    "One that may offer just as much shock as your Blitzle did. Joltik, go!"

    When N released his next Pokemon, Jim at first thought it was invisible. There didn't seem to be anything there. And then at last, looking down, he saw what looked like a tiny, furry yellow mite with large blue eyes. Jim's Pokedex was out to scan this curiosity.

    "Joltik, the Attaching Pokemon. Joltik latches onto its prey and sucks the static electricity out of them. It then stores this electricity in a pouch within its body."

    "An Electric/Bug-type. Really unique, but to be perfectly frank, that thing is…"

    "Diminutive?" N finished. "Don't be fooled. What Joltik lacks in size, it compensates for with speed and strategy."

    Tiny sparks crackled around Joltik's body.

    "Let's get started then! Rok, use Rock Throw!"

    Rok raised his claws up, and a boulder materialized in them, which he then threw at Joltik.

    "Joltik, slice it with Fury Cutter!"

    Joltik sprang with surprising speed, one of its little feet glowing green. It slashed at the Rock Throw and managed to cleave it clean in two, so that both halves fell beside it as it settled back on the ground.

    "Really impressive," Jim admitted, "But try this! Wing Attack!"

    Rok dashed forward, wings glowing at his sides.

    "Joltik, latch on!"

    Joltik sprang once again, and landed right on Rok's beak, right between his eyes, making him stop short.

    "Now, Discharge!"

    Joltik's body began to spark with electricity, then said electricity was zapped into Rok's body, making him yell out in pain.

    "Rok! Get it off of you! Wing Attack!"

    Rok blindly swiped at Joltik with his wings, but it remained firmly latched onto his beak.

    "Keep using Discharge, Joltik!"

    N commanded. Joltik sent shock after shock into Rok, causing him to squawk in pain and stumble around. He slammed against a tree, and, to Jim's surprise, Joltik's grip on Rok's beak slipped, as he was nearly knocked off. This gave him an idea, a desperate one, but an idea nonetheless.

    "Rok! Use Quick Attack!"

    N wasn't sure what to make of this. Rok was nearly blinded with electrical pain and with Joltik right between his eyes. What would this accomplish? Too late, he saw what Jim was planning as Rok took a wild dash in the first direction instinct told him to choose, headfirst toward a tree.

    "Joltik! Get off!" he yelled, but it was no good.

    Rok bashed his head against the trunk, the force of the collision knocking Joltik off his beak and back onto the grass. Rok stumbled backwards, and Joltik slumped against the trunk, both dizzy, but Rok had a hard skull, and he soon recovered his wits and his sight.

    "All right, Rok, it's time to settle this! Dragonbreath!"

    Rok took a deep breath, then expelled a white-hot stream of flame from his beak that struck right where Joltik was positioned. The tree shook with the impact, leaves cascading down. When all had quieted, everyone looked to the spot, and saw Joltik, still slumped, but out cold. Jim was jubilant.

    "You did it, Rok! You won your first battle!"

    Rok just stood staring at the Joltik he had just defeated, and then a huge smiled stretched across his beak and he leaped into the air, flapping his wings and trilling victoriously.

    "Me won! Me won!" he crowed.

    Jim scooped him up, and the little First Bird Pokemon flung his wings around Jim's neck in a surprisingly strong hug. Leanne, Tranquill, and Missy all applauded. June didn't say anything, but the smile on her face was proof enough that she was proud of him. N, for his part, recalled Joltik.

    "That was pretty impressive," he said. "But I call it a lucky break."

    Jim gave N a sharp look as he recalled Rok.

    "Lucky break? What do you mean?"

    "I was under the impression that nothing could remove a Joltik once it had gotten a hold of its prey. It seems this one wasn't up to snuff."

    "Oh, so you're gonna blame your loss on a Pokemon not living up to what it's called in the Pokedex?"

    "Certainly not," said N, calmly. "I blame myself for catching one that was apparently not battle-ready. But now, choose your third and final Pokemon."

    "Whomever I choose won't do you much good," said Jim. "I've won 2 out of 3."

    "You think I care about your statistical victory?" N asked, eyebrow raised. "I merely want to make this interesting…"

    There was a sly look in his eyes that Jim didn't altogether like.

    "…How so?"

    "True, you might have beaten me 2 out of 3 times, which means you'd win by proportionate standards," he said, "but let's raise the stakes now that it's the last battle. Who are you going to choose?"

    "Most likely Missy," Jim said.

    At this, Missy glided over and landed rather heavily on Jim's shoulder.

    "I see," said N. "Very well, then. For this, let us say that if you win, victory is completely yours, and I'll get out of your way…but if I win…you must let Missy go free."

    Jim had the sensation of ice in his stomach, and he heard Missy gasp.

    "…Let her go free?"

    "Yes, Jim. We've played by conventional rules…now, we'll play by Team Plasma's rules…"

    "Jim, don't do it!" Leanne shouted. "You have no idea what he's going to throw at you! He's trying to trap you!"

    "Keep out of this," N said sharply, to Leanne. "This is our battle, not yours. He won twice out of three times, so it's only fair that I set the rules for the final match."

    Jim looked from N to his friends.

    "June, what do you think?"

    But June wasn't looking at him. She was giving Missy a steady gaze, as if contemplating something. Then, she looked at Jim.

    "You can take him, Jim," she said. "Besides, as he said, it's only fair."

    Jim was taken aback. He had been under the impression that June would never want Jim to do anything that would jeopardize himself or his Pokemon. Was this merely confidence in his abilities, or was this part of her vendetta against Missy?...

    At all events, Jim nodded and turned to N.

    "I accept your terms."

    "Jim…" Leanne groaned.

    N smirked and took out his third Poke Ball.

    "Wonderful. Well, then, Yamask, let's go!"

    From the Poke Ball came one of the strangest Pokemon Jim had seen yet. It was all black, and had large red eyes, a crest on its head, a beak-like mouth, two long arms and a wispy tail. Held in its tail was what appeared to be a golden mask with a melancholy human expression on it. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    "Yamask, the Spirit Pokemon. Yamask carries a mask that resembles the face it had as a human. It retains memories of its former life, and sometimes cries when it looks at its mask."

    "A Ghost-type," Jim murmured. "Now, let's see what moves you have, Missy."

    Missy hopped down and landed in front of Jim. He scanned her over with his Pokedex.

    "Hmm…not a bad assortment…Ok, then, let's do this."

    Missy took off from the ground and hovered level with Yamask as Jim pocketed his Pokedex.

    "Ok, Missy, show them your Shock Wave!"

    Missy's entire body sparked with electricity, and a large lightning bolt shot from herself towards Yamask.

    "Yamask, Protect!"

    Just as Tirtouga had done, Yamask raised its arms, and a translucent blue sphere surrounded it. The Shock Wave struck it and glanced off, then the sphere vanished.

    "Don't hesitate, Missy! Acrobatics!"

    Missy swooped at Yamask, but instead of striking it, she flew around him at a dizzying speed. Yamask's eyes rolled, and then Missy, rising high up into the air, went in for a dive-bomb, striking Yamask hard on the head. She somersaulted and landed on her feet, as Yamask tried to right itself. It seemed to be concerned with the well-being of its mask.

    "Now, Missy, Shock Wave again!"

    Once again, Missy launched a lightning bolt straight for Yamask. N, however, was ready.

    "Yamask, dodge and use Will-O-Wisp!"

    Yamask, just in time, floated to the side, causing the Shock Wave to blast past it, then it brought one of its arms back, as if ready to toss something. A ball of purplish fire appeared in its hand, and it launched it straight for Missy.

    "Missy, get out of the way!" Jim yelled.

    Missy sprang into the air, but had done so too late. The Will-O-Wisp struck her on the tail, and for a brief instant, it looked as if she were on fire. Flames literally sprang across her plump body, and she cringed in pain as she flopped back to the ground.

    "Missy!" Jim shouted, distressed.

    N had a wide smile on his face.

    "Now that preparations are in order, use Hex, Yamask!"

    Yamask's eyes began to glow a menacing red, and its raised its arms above its head. Thin beams of black energy seemed to shoot from its fingers into the air above it, meeting and forming into a smoky black ball of energy. Within it, to the disconcertion of Jim and his friends, an enormous, ominous eye appeared, its red pupil set in purple sclera, glaring down at Missy. The eye shined, and a beam of purplish energy, outlined in concentric rings, shot out and struck Missy where she stood. She was tossed across the battlefield and lay on her stomach at Jim's feet. Once again, like the light of a firefly, the flames surrounded Missy's body and disappeared again.

    "Missy, no…" Jim muttered.

    "It's a bitter irony," said N. "For you see, Hex strikes with twice the power if the user is afflicted with a status condition, such as a burn."

    (He knew...He had this planned out from the start…and I walked into it like a sap…Missy…what have I done…?)

    "As entertaining as this has been," N said, lazily, "I must wrap this up. I have places to be and things to do. Yamask, end the suffering with one more Hex!"

    Once again, Yamask formed the smoky ball of energy with its deadly eye. As Jim saw the eye begin to shine, he knew he had to make one last desperate gambit. The Hex beam fired, heading straight for Missy.

    "Missy, Double Team!"

    Missy's eyes snapped open, and in a twinkling, where one had lain on the grass, there was now five! The beam struck the Missy in the middle…but nothing happened. N's jaw dropped.

    "Impossible! She shouldn't be able to act!"

    The four remaining Missies returned to their feet, still flickering from the Burn effects, but not ready to give up yet.

    "Now, Acrobatics!"

    The four Missies leaped into the air and began to swarm around Yamask, zooming around him like flies. Watching one was dizzying, but seeing four fly around in all directions was nearly vomit-inducing. Yamask swayed and spun, unable to keep itself steady, as the four Missies soared up, directly above it.

    "Now, let's finish this up with a four-way Shock Wave!" Jim commanded with gusto.

    All four Missies glowed with an electricity that seemed to fuse together and form into one attack. Sure enough, their four lightning bolts shot forth, and merged in the middle to form one enormous electrical arrow that plunged down and blasted Yamask on the spot. The Missies landed back on the grass, but as they did so, the doubles disappeared, and the real one stumbled, weakened from exertion and her burn.

    Jim tensed. He knew that whichever one fainted first would decide the outcome of everything. Leanne was on tenterhooks, and June seemed tense as well. Both Pokemon wavered, suffering from the pain of their afflictions…and then, with a small sigh, down went Yamask, onto its back, hitting the ground a mere one second before Missy too collapsed.

    Everyone gasped. N looked stunned at first, and then resolute. Without a word, he recalled Yamask and looked at Jim, who had bent to pick up Missy. He seemed to be studying him, as if he were seeing him for the first time. There was a calculating look on his face that Jim didn't know what to make of. Then, N closed his eyes, turned on his heels, and started to walk off.

    "N!" Jim called.

    N stopped, but didn't turn around.

    "You're improving nicely," he said. "I look forward to our next meeting. Like I said, all paths converge at some point or other…"

    With that, he headed off into the trees until he was out of sight completely…

    My White 2 Team

  8. #23
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 21
    Bridging the Gap



    "Did you see that??"

    "That was so unbelievable!"

    "A most unexpected turnabout!"

    Jim, Leanne, Oshawott, and June were all seated in the Pinwheel Forest Pokemon Center, waiting for Jolt, Rok, and Missy to get healed up. They were still discussing Missy's amazing victory despite her setbacks. At least, the first three mentioned were. June had remained quiet about the whole thing, but she had muttered something that could have been discerned as "Beginner's luck…"

    Soon, the chime which meant Jim was to come to the front desk rang, and he stood up and strode over. As soon as he was gone, Oshawott turned to June.

    "Why so glum, dear? You should be ecstatic that Jim won!"

    "I am, Oshawott, honest, but why did it have to be her that sealed it?"

    "What do you mean?"

    "Missy. That air-headed little suck-up. She didn’t deserve to win when she never put any effort into training."

    "Now, darling, don’t be like that."

    "I can’t help it, Oshawott. It's infuriating that she's too ignorant to know better. She just has to pull a couple of cute faces and Jim melts like a Castelia Cone in the hot sun, letting her have her way. She got lucky in that battle, knowing Double Team. She may have nabbed everyone else's affections, but she's not getting mine, not until she deserves it."

    "June, think about it. Jim took a risk, letting her battle even after N made that dangerous condition. You should be grateful that he didn't have to lose another member of his team. She was willing to fight then, too."

    June looked down and sighed.

    "I just want to see that she can battle as well as she can act like a pet…" she said.

    Oshawott put a comforting paw on her back, and she rested against his cheek. At that moment, Jim returned carrying three Poke Balls. He sat back down, opened them all up at the same time, and there were Jolt, Rok, and Missy, sitting and looking up at him.

    "You all did spectacularly," Jim said, proudly. "Jolt, you really proved your resilience against that Tirtouga. Rok, you've finally gotten your first victory, and even after such a rough start. And you, Missy, I was afraid I was going to lose you, but you've really outdone yourself. All of you, well done!"

    All three beamed proudly. Jim then recalled them one by one, but just as he was aiming Missy's Poke Ball at her, she leaped from the floor out of the recall beam's range and landed on Jim's lap, looking up at him with big, cute eyes. Jim couldn't help but grin as he stroked her ears.

    "Ok, girl, you can stay out for a little while longer."

    June's eyes narrowed, and she looked at Oshawott.

    "See what I mean?…" she muttered.

    Oshawott didn't reply, but he could see what June meant, even if he didn't quite see it as she did. Nurse Joy then stepped up to them.

    "Is everything in good order, then?" she asked, politely.

    "Very much so, thanks," said Jim.

    "And your next destination is Castelia City?"

    "That's right, across Skyarrow Bridge."

    "Then I'd like to make a suggestion for you. As Skyarrow Bridge spans a good many miles from the forest to Castelia City, we offer Trainers free bike rentals to quicken the trip."

    "Bike rentals?" asked Leanne. "Sounds awesome!"

    "But then, how would we return them?" Jim asked.

    "Oh, no need to worry about that," said Nurse Joy kindly. "We correspond directly with another Pokemon Center just at the end of Skyarrow Bridge. You can drop them off there."

    "Wow, that's really convenient," said Jim. "Ok, we'll do it!"

    "Wonderful! Have either of you had any previous biking experience?"

    "As a kid, yes," Jim replied. "Cheren and I used to race each other around the neighborhood on our bikes. Bianca…wasn't as coordinated."

    "I've biked before too," said Leanne. "Oshawott used to love sitting in the basket on the front as we sped down the sidewalk."

    "Perilous, but invigorating," said Oshawott.

    "Then it's all settled! How soon will you start?"

    "Well, I don't suppose it'd be advisable to bike during the night."

    "Oh, on the contrary, the bridge is lit up at night. In fact, I've heard from reliable sources that Skyarrow Bridge is a prime spot for young lovers."

    Leanne giggled, but Jim turned red.

    "Riding during the daytime is perfectly fine,” continued Nurse Joy, “but it does get foggy on cold mornings."

    "All right, then. We'll set out after dinner," said Jim.

    "What a wonderful concept," said Oshawott, grandly, "gliding along the steel and iron expanse of the Skyarrow Bridge under the moon and stars, with nary a care in the world…"

    He turned to June, who had caught every word, and a dreamy look was in her large scarlet eyes. Missy was looking from one to the other from her place on Jim's lap, and a look of dawning comprehension crossed her furry face. In typical girlish fashion, she clapped her paws over her mouth to stifle her giggles. However, June heard them all the same, and she glared sidelong at the little Emolga. One of her vines rose up from her lapel, as if she were tempted to give her a good hard smack with it, but presumably out of a desire not to infuriate Jim, she restrained herself…

    ***


    That evening, after dinner, Jim and Leanne stepped out of the Pokemon Center, rolling a pair of bicycles at their sides. Beyond the Pokemon Center, through a sort of tunnel made out of the trees, they saw a great glimmer of light, as if someone was pointing an enormous flashlight towards them. Spurred on by this sight, they climbed onto their bikes, their Pokemon clinging tightly to their shoulders, and began pedaling along the grassy track. The path was devoid of twigs, as if it had been traveled countless times, so the riding was smooth and swift.

    As they came out of the tunnel, they found themselves at what seemed to be a toll house, and sure enough, there was a guard seated at the window, leaning his elbow on the sill. He looked up as they came up.

    "Evening, kids," he said, pleasantly. "Off to Castelia City?"

    "Yes, sir. What's the charge?"

    "Nothing if you have I.D."

    Jim fished in his pockets and pulled out his Pokedex, while Leanne showed her Trainer card, which contained a photograph and short description of her person. The guard examined the Pokedex and pressed a button.

    "This Pokedex is property of: Jim Stevens of Nuvema Town," it said, in a computerized voice.

    An image of Jim appeared in its screen. Jim wondered when it had ever had the opportunity to take one as the guard handed it back to him.

    "That checks out. You're both clear to go. Just be careful. We've had reports of a couple roughnecks being seen on the bridge."

    "Roughnecks?" Leanne asked, tentatively.

    "The usual. Loiterers, just wanting to pick a fight. Don't let them get to you."

    "We won't. Thank you, sir."

    Jim and Leanne biked off as the guard watched them off.

    "Did you hear what he said? Roughnecks…"

    "Don't worry about it. When I was a kid, I had my share of bullies. You just can't let them intimidate you. Show them you're above their lack of maturity."

    Leanne smiled at his choice of words.

    The lights were all on as they went across the bridge, but to their right, they could still see the moon hanging in the air. Jim gazed up at it in wonder, and as he did so, his mind strayed to what N had said before he left.

    "All paths converge at some point or other"

    But with how things had been turning out, did he really want them to? He had seen first-hand that Cheren had changed, for the better in one respect, and for the worse in another. He was beginning to have second thoughts of them meeting again, if it would mean having to face him, knowing what he had witnessed. And if Bianca was still with him, it may mean never meeting her again…

    A tap on the side of the head brought him back to his senses. June was gazing down the bridge with a steady glance, and Jim, following her eyes, saw why.

    Coming into view across the bridge were three people with their backs against the suspensions of the bridge. Three motorcycles stood beside them. Jim reasoned that these must be the roughnecks the guard warned them about, and inwardly wondered why they all had to look so outlandish. One was a tall and skinny man, with a garish orange mohawk and a pair of sunglasses. The second was a young woman with short hair, wearing a tank top and jeans with holes in the legs. The third, who stood between them, was a burly bald man in a huge bomber jacket, his brawny arms tattooed in several places. Jim looked to Leanne, and saw that she was looking nervous.

    "Just act like you don't see them," he whispered. "Don't give them an excuse to bother you…"

    She nodded quietly, and the two biked on, eyes straight ahead, past the three punks. They hadn't gone very far, however, before they heard a loud rumbling behind them. Before either of them could react, they saw the three punks zip past them on their motorcycles, U-turned, and stopped in front of them, forming a blockade. Jim and Leanne had no choice but to pull to a stop, face-to-face with the hoodlums.

    "Going somewhere?" sneered the bald man.

    "Actually, yes," said Jim, calmly, despite an inner feeling of disgust at the man's leering grin. His teeth could have done with a good flossing. "We're on our way to Castelia City."

    "No you ain't," said the bald man, still sneering at him. "No one passes by us without earning it."

    "Earning it? What gives you the right to decide who stays and who goes?"

    The very next second, Jim was eye-to-knuckle with the man's huge fist, dangerously close to his face. Despite his effort to keep calm, Jim couldn't help flinching.

    "This does!" he growled, obviously enjoying the sight.

    Leanne's face reddened.

    "Leave him alone! He didn't do anything to you!"

    "Zip it, tubby!" said the girl punk. "We'll see to you next."

    The red left Leanne's face, leaving it pale once again. Oshawott looked outraged at his Trainer being called "tubby", and seemed quite prepared to introduce the girl to his scalchop the hard way. Jim had recovered himself.

    "Look, sir, disregarding your apparent need to solve every issue with your fists, I'm willing to "earn" my right to pass to the other side in the accepted fashion."

    Calmly, he got off of his bike, set it to one side, and stood before the bald bruiser.

    "A one-on-one should suffice."

    "And what about the chick?" sneered the one with the mohawk.

    Leanne's cheeks flushed at being mentioned. Jim looked at her. He knew it must be hard for her to witness this kind of verbal abuse.

    "She and I will face you and your "chick" in a double battle."

    The girl, surprisingly, didn't seem offended by this address. It appeared she was used to such a title as "chick". The bald man, who was obviously their leader, laughed.

    "I like your spirit, kid!" he said. "All right, we'll do it your way. First, you and me, mano-a-mano!"

    Leanne and the two other punks stood aside as Jim and the roughneck faced each other.

    "Kick his hide, Skull!" rooted the one with the mohawk.

    (Skull? Do these guys have any originality?…)

    Skull took a Poke Ball from his belt.

    "All right, Drilbur, show this wimp what you've got!"

    He tossed it, and from it appeared a very short Pokemon resembling a mole. Its fur was dark gray streaked with purple, but it had a white, pointed muzzle with round eyes and a pink nose. Its arms were very broad and ended in enormous white claws. Jim took out his Pokedex to scan it.

    "Drilbur, the Mole Pokemon. Drilbur can burrow underground by putting its claws together and rotating swiftly. It can tunnel at a speed of up to 30 mph, and can give a car running aboveground a good race."

    "A Ground type, huh?" Jim mused, before turning to June.

    "Looks like this one's all you, partner."

    June grinned. Missy had been put back into her Poke Ball, but if she were still out, the Snivy would gladly have battled just to show her the "proper" way to do it. She leaped down gracefully to face Drilbur.

    "A Snivy, eh?" said Skull, gazing down at the little Grass Snake. "Pah! I knew you'd go for type advantage. You dweebs are all alike, always hoping to win the old-fashioned way."

    "Funny," said Jim, "I could say the same about people like you."

    Skull stopped sneering. There was an ugly frown on his face.

    "Bullies like you, always waylaying innocent bystanders who did nothing to harm you, just to satisfy your own sense of self-worth. What's more, you always act in groups or in the dark, since you don't have the courage to face people alone in the day. How pathetic."

    Leanne and Oshawott looked at him in awe. Skull clenched his fist and his mossy teeth.

    "You watch your mouth, you mutt!" he growled. "I'm gonna make mincemeat of you!"

    "We'll see!" Jim retorted. "June, Vine Whip!"

    June lashed her vines at Drilbur.

    "Drilbur, dodge and use Hone Claws!"

    Drilbur leaped aside to avoid the vines, and then began rapidly sliding its claws together, making a metallic grinding noise. When June drew her vines back in, Drilbur brought its claws apart again with a sound like a sword being removed from its scabbard. A sneaky look was in its eye and its Trainer's.

    "Fury Swipes!"

    Drilbur's claws glowed white, and it lunged at June.

    "Dodge until you can get at it, June!" Jim warned.

    June began ducking herself this way and that to avoid Drilbur's claws. She seemed to be gauging a pattern in its swipes, and looked like she had found her answer, as she launched herself into Drilbur's chest out of nowhere. She didn't get away clean, however. A cry of pain from her attested to that. She was flung back to her side of the field, a fresh cut on her cheek. Jim grimaced. This guy meant business…

    "Now, use Metal Claw!"

    Drilbur's claws became very silvery and shiny, as if, for the moment, they had turned into steel. It lunged for June, one arm raised for the attack.

    "Counter with Leaf Blade!"

    Despite the cut, June didn't seem to have been set back. On the contrary, it only seemed to fill her with a new sense of vigor. Quick as a blink, she whipped her tail, the leaf at the end glowing green, and it met the Metal Claw mid-strike. The recoil of the cancelled attacks sent them both back, though only June kept her footing. Skull seemed to be regarding Jim with a mixture of loathing and interest.

    "What's the matter?" Jim asked. "Don't tell me you're losing your cool to a 'dweeb' like me."

    "I ain't gonna lose to you, kid, so wipe that smug grin off your face!" roared Skull. "Drilbur, use Drill Run!"

    Drilbur clapped its paws in front of its face, covering it up, and then it began spinning like a top, so quick and blurrily that it actually took on the shape and form of a drill. It launched itself like a bullet at June.

    "June, stop it with Vine Whip!"

    June's vines came out once again and struck at Drilbur. They whipped at it, but its spinning body merely deflected them off.

    "Uh oh!" Jim groaned.

    Skull smiled maliciously. Drilbur struck home, slamming straight into June and sending her flying in a heap.

    "June!" Jim yelled. "Are you all right?"

    Very shakily, June got back to her feet. A small drop of blood dripped from the wound on her cheek onto the pavement of the bridge. Jim clenched his fist. He'd never seen a Pokemon bleed before, and now that he had, he didn't like the look of it…

    "Looks like we're gonna take this one home, punk!" Skull guffawed. "Drilbur, end this pitiful fight with one more Drill Run!"

    Once again, Drilbur curled up into its drill shape and sped like a missile for June.

    "June, you can't give in yet!" Jim encouraged. "Use Leaf Tornado!"

    With renewed determination, June began to spin like a top herself, and a whirlwind of leaves surrounded her body. With an effort, she launched at Drilbur, who was swept up into the middle of it. The leaven cyclone scratched and buffeted the Mole Pokemon, and the next moment, it was tossed out of it, no longer in its Drill Run.

    "No way!" Skull bellowed.

    "Yes way!" Jim countered. "Now, June, Energy Ball!"

    June threw her paws forward, cupping them, and a green-yellow ball of light, shot with an inner white glow, appeared between them. Then, it fired like a cannonball, smashing into Drilbur with explosive force. Drilbur plummeted and slammed, back-first, onto the road, unconscious. Skull's jaw dropped.

    "You're out, Skull!" said Jim, confidently. "You put up a good fight, and you almost had me, too."

    Skull recalled Drilbur, then looked at Jim.

    "You ain't too bad yourself, squirt," he said, gruffly. "Most of the Trainers I fight don't put up a good enough challenge. This was kinda refreshing…but don't let that give ya a swelled head, get me?"

    "I gotcha," said Jim.

    Skull backed off to join his comrades.

    "All right, Vince, Lara, show these two what you've got."

    With a nod, the two took his place, and Leanne joined Jim, who was picking up June. He had fished a Potion from his backpack and was spraying June's cut. She flinched and yelped as the spray touched it.

    "I know, June, I know," Jim said, consolingly, "but this'll help it heal faster. I'm really proud of how you battled."

    Oshawott gripped her paw, and he felt her clasp tighter when she was sprayed. At last, the treatment was over, and Jim set June next to their bikes, Oshawott beside her.

    "You done?" Vince jeered. "We ain't gonna wait around for you to play nurse."

    "You hush," Jim snapped. "If that's how you view taking care of an injured Pokemon, I feel really sorry for you."

    Lara spat contemptuously.

    "We don't want your pity, kid," she said. "Preach it to someone who cares."

    Jim looked grimly at them. They were the kind of people that would be easy pickings for Team Plasma…He took a Poke Ball from his belt.

    "Let's do this, Echo!" he said, letting out his trusty Woobat.

    "Zorua, time for you to debut!" said Leanne, and from her Poke Ball came Zorua.

    Jim was pleasantly surprised.

    "Zorua's first battle, huh?"

    "Yep! Do you think you could check his moves for me?"

    "Of course."

    Jim took out his Pokedex and scanned Zorua once again. Leanne looked over his shoulder at the screen.

    "Mm-hmm…ok…Wow! It already knows that?"

    After that, they could see that Vince and Lara had drawn their own Poke Balls.

    "Solosis, go!"

    "Gothita, go!"

    From Vince's Poke Ball came a pale green blobby Pokemon. It had a diamond-shaped mouth and small black eyes, and was completely surrounded in a bubble of something fluid-like. From Lara's Ball came a Pokemon that looked like a little human baby. It had a purple face and a black body decorated with a white zigzag. Large white bows adorned its throat and the sides of its head, with a small hair tuft between them. It had large red lips and round blue eyes that stared intently ahead. Luckily, Jim's Pokedex was already at the ready.

    "Solosis, the Cell Pokemon. The special liquid that envelops its body allows it to live anywhere. They drive enemies away with powerful Psychic attacks."

    "Gothita, the Fixation Pokemon. Gothita intently observes Trainers and Pokemon alike. The bow-like feelers on its head amplify its Psychic powers."

    "Both Psychic types," said Jim. "This gives us another advantage."

    He pocketed his Pokedex and faced Vince and Lara.

    "You guys have interesting Pokemon, but you haven't been lucky with match ups, have you?"

    Both punks grinned.

    "Oh, you'll see," sneered Vince. "Make your moves."

    Jim was inclined to feel disconcerted at this comment, but he brushed it off.

    "Echo, use Shadow Ball on Gothita!"

    "Zorua, use Faint Attack on Solosis!"

    Echo cupped his wings, forming a black and purple energy ball, and then launched it at Gothita. Zorua sprang for Solosis, and halfway there, vanished, as if someone had dropped a curtain over him.

    "Solosis, Protect!"

    "Gothita, Psyshock!"

    Gothita cupped its little hands together, and a thick ball of blue and purple energy appeared in front of them. This ball shot upward to meet the Shadow Ball, and the two attacks collided. Meanwhile, Solosis' fluid bubble had turned blue and glassy. Zorua, who had reappeared, struck the bubble and bounced back, landing on his paws. Jim, momentarily fazed, regained control.

    "Ok, let's switch it up. Echo, use Air Cutter on Solosis!"

    "And Zorua, use Fury Swipes on Gothita!'

    Echo flapped his wings, sending slashes of energy at Solosis. They struck against its fluid shell, but even though it flinched, Jim wasn't sure whether it was being damaged or not. Zorua lunged for Gothita and began swiping at it with its glowing claws. Their Trainers, however, seemed prepared for this.

    "Solosis, use Rollout on Woobat!"

    "Gothita, use DoubleSlap on Zorua!"

    Solosis' entire body began to glow with a whitish light as it began rolling like a ball. It launched itself at Echo, striking him square in the face and sending him plummeting. Gothita, meanwhile, was slapping Zorua's muzzle over and over with its little hand, until Zorua's cheeks were red from the stinging smarts. Echo barely caught himself before he hit the ground.

    "Time to break up the partnership!" said Lara. "Gothita, Thunderbolt on Woobat!"

    Gothita's tiny body started glowing and sparking with electricity. In the next instant, a bolt of lightning shot from it straight for Echo. It looked like curtains for poor Echo…but the blast hit, without striking him! Out of nowhere, Zorua had leaped in front of Echo and had taken the full blast of the attack. When it ended, he was very shaky on his paws, but still looked determined to fight. Everyone was stunned.

    "Zorua…" Jim muttered. "He saved Echo…he knew that would have taken him out, and he took it himself…"

    Leanne didn't say anything. She just stared at Zorua, whose fur was smoking from the attack. At last, Jim snapped himself back into attention.

    "Echo, use Shadow Ball on Gothita, quick!"

    Echo tossed another Shadow Ball, but this time, Lara was too late to act, and Gothita took the full abuse from the attack, bowling her over and knocking her onto her back.

    "You'll pay for that, you little weasel!" Lara snapped. "Get him, Vince!"

    "Way ahead of ya, babe," said Vince, as he took off his shades. "Solosis, Energy Ball!"

    Solosis began charging a green and white energy ball in front of its face.

    "Now! Zorua, Faint Attack!" Leanne commanded, right out of nowhere.

    Though smarting from the Thunderbolt, Zorua still had some fight left in him. He leaped for Solosis and vanished once again. This time, however, he reappeared behind Solosis and lunged, slamming into it and making its Energy Ball go off course. Vince was livid.

    "Ok, Echo, finish up with Air Cutter!"

    Once again, Echo sent a wave of energy slashes from his wings, striking against Solosis. This time, Jim knew they did the job, because Solosis sank to the ground, unable to get back up. Leanne jubilantly hugged him, nearly making him fall over. Echo floated over to Zorua and held out a wing. With a little smirk, Zorua high-fived it with his paw. Both Vine and Lara sourly recalled their Pokemon.

    "Not too shabby, runts," grunted Skull. "You actually gave us a run for our money, something no other trainer's ever done before. I hate to have to choke down humble pie, but you've earned the right to pass."

    Jim and Leanne recalled Echo and Zorua and returned to their bikes. Jim tenderly picked June up and tucked her inside his jacket, while Leanne placed Oshawott back on her shoulders. As they pedaled past, Skull called after them.

    "But you keep up on whatever training you're doing!" he said, warningly, "If I catch wind that you two ain't winning, I'll feel worse about losing to you!"

    Jim couldn't help but grin at these words, threatening though they were.

    "See?" he said to Leanne. "They all talk tough, but stand up to them, and they're still just human."

    "It was still a pretty close call," said Leanne. "Weren't you worried?"

    "Me? Maybe a little."

    "Oh, only a little, huh?" asked Leanne teasingly, edging closer to him as they went. "You totally had white knuckles when June was fighting Drilbur."

    "Says you," Jim countered.

    Leanne giggled and gave the bill of his cap a jerk, catching him off guard for a moment.

    "Hey!"

    He swerved for a moment, then regained himself. A cheeky smile was on his face.

    "Ok, you asked for it. First one to the Castelia Pokemon Center chooses the best bed!"

    He pedaled faster and sped along the bridge.

    "Hey, no fair, you got a head start!" Leanne called, still laughing, as she pumped harder to keep up.

    My White 2 Team

  9. #24
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 22
    Cirque de Pokeé



    After checking in at the small Pokemon Center at the other side of the bridge, they turned in their bikes to the Nurse Joy in attendance. Due to its size, it didn't offer sleeping accommodations, but Jim and Leanne didn't mind. They were anxious to get to bed, of course, but they preferred to be within the city itself. With that, they bid Nurse Joy good night and made their way along the short concrete path from the bridge to the city gate.

    Castelia City was one of the most populous cities in all of Unova, composed nearly entirely of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings. Rightly called the "City of Grandeur", Castelia was a corporate and economic giant, rivaled only in size by Nimbasa City, which was, conversely, the entertainment hub of Unova. It possessed an expansive harbor, and as such, enjoyed an unparalleled view of the ocean as well as constant correspondence with cruise liners and commercial vessels. In fact, it was linked, by boat, to a small island simply known as Liberty Garden, of which little was known except that it was said to be the resting spot of a Pokemon of immense power and even greater rarity…

    Despite arriving in this buzzing metropolis at night, Jim and Leanne could still make out the outlines of the window-lit buildings, rising so high that they "pierced the clouds", as the travel guides said. Not only that, but despite the late hour, the streets were still busy with people coming to and leaving from their businesses. Jim couldn't help noticing the public's attire as they biked along. Nearly every person they passed was wearing a business suit and carrying a briefcase: accountants, clerks, CEOs, and the like. Jim looked down at his own clothes. His favorite jacket was a little faded in places, and with their days traveling through the wilderness, it, his jeans, and his hat weren't exactly tidy. Still, it helped that he was only staying in Castelia for a short while. Tomorrow he planned to locate the gym, though he had no idea what Pokemon to expect.

    They checked into the Pokemon Center, which was part of a block of buildings that was a divider between the inner-left and inner-right streets of Castelia. It was much more expansive than previous Centers (which was saying a good deal), but still possessed the usual accommodations and services. June, Echo, and Zorua were healed of their injuries in next to no time, after which Leanne took the opportunity of letting the latter sit across her lap as she stroked his shadowy fur. Despite his rough demeanor, his fur was very soft and pleasant to the touch, and he seemed pleased with the attention.

    Luckily for June, the cut she had received from Drilbur had not gone deep enough to become a scar, something she had dreaded as they left the roughnecks behind. Indeed, she had become somewhat self-conscious of her appearance, and when she and Jim came to their bedroom, she went straight for the bathroom and climbed onto the sink to peer into the mirror. Amused, Jim stood beside her as she turned herself, craning her neck to look, as if worried she was getting fat.

    "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the prettiest Snivy of all?" asked Jim.

    June shot him a look, but she nonetheless smiled.

    "I wasn't before we got here," she said.

    "Oh, what are you talking about?"

    Her smile faded. She looked serious.

    "Jim, I need you to be perfectly honest with me. Don't be biased just because you're my Trainer."

    "Wouldn't dream of it," said Jim, solemnly, raising his hand as if swearing in court.

    June turned to face him.

    "Is travel starting to…show on me?"

    Jim stared at her, thinking of how to phrase an answer to such a question without sounding like he was trying to favor her. At last, he sat down on the closed toilet and motioned for her to sit with him. She settled herself on his knee.

    "You asked me to be perfectly honest, June, so here it is. I don't know what it is you're worried about, but here's how I see it. Travel is showing on you, but not in the way you think. It's showing in your battles, not in your skin. Sure, you've had a narrow escape against that Drilbur, but that shouldn't get you worried. You're a brilliant battler, a beautiful Snivy, and a true friend, and I'll always love you no matter what. So will Oshawott, I may add."

    This seemed to be the consolation June had been hoping for. She leaned up, licked Jim on the cheek, and settled off to sleep in his lap. Smiling, Jim tenderly carried her off to bed.

    ***


    The next morning, Jim awoke with a start. There was a loud ruckus going on outside the Pokemon Center. It sounded like a multitude of people shouting, but in jubilation rather than in a riotous mood. There was also the unmistakable sound of a marching band. Jim got up, strode to the window, and opened the curtains. A long stream of people was bustling past, young and old, some carrying balloons or banners. He wondered if they had arrived on the eve of some political rally or public commemoration. Leanne wasn't long in joining him, and the two dressed quickly and headed downstairs. Nurse Joy was still standing placidly at her desk.

    "Good morning!" she said, in a sunny voice. "Sleep well?"

    "Yes, thanks," said Jim. "What in the world's going on outside?"

    "Haven't you heard? The circus is in town!"

    She handed Jim a flyer, printed on red paper. It dictated that "Cirque de Pokeé" would be performing live in the central plaza of Castelia City for that day only, before departing for the Kanto region.

    "Cirque de Pokeé!" Leanne said, excitedly. "They're really famous in Unova! They have the best Pokemon performers in the world!"

    "Boy, we sure picked a lucky time to arrive in Castelia, didn't we?" said Jim, who was getting excited. "Let's go check it out! The Gym can wait until tomorrow."

    "That's the spirit!" said Leanne, and the two hurried off quickly, June and Oshawott in tow.

    It was no easy job, picking their way through the crowd, but as they threaded their way through the crowd, Leanne suddenly disappeared from Jim's side. As he searched in vain for her, she suddenly popped up again, nearly giving him a heart attack. He would have been peeved with her, if it hadn't been for the fact that she had gone to grab a couple of Castelia Cones, an ice cream treat that the city was famous for. So all was forgiven for that little joke, and the two went with the flow of the crowd, licking their ice creams contentedly, and from time to time offering their partners a taste. At last they made their way to the central plaza, where an enormous tent had been set up in front of the fountain in the very center. Everywhere, the walls and street lamps were festooned with balloons, streamers, and banners, and there was a constant shower of confetti.

    Jim and Leanne made their way inside, slowly, with the crowd, and shifted along until they came to some empty seats, June and Oshawott on their laps. Several other spectators had their Pokemon out to enjoy the fun as well. Suddenly, there was a click, the sound of a Poke Ball opening, and Missy had joined June in Jim's lap. Looking rather sour, June shifted herself to Jim's shoulder, beside his cheek, so the chubby Emolga had the seat all to herself, but she hadn't seemed to notice June's absence.

    They had arrived during an interesting act. Pokemon resembling interlocked silver gears were floating in the air, two at a time. Each had the same face: one round eye, one X-shaped eye, a round blue nose, and an open mouth as if in surprise. They were grouped in a circle, and on the stage in front of them was a pile of metallic objects, such as saucepans, pots, and pipes. Some sort of magnetic force between them was causing the objects to levitate, and they changed height as the individual gears changed their positions. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    "Klink, the Gear Pokemon. Klink is composed of two predetermined mini gears meshed together. Continuous rotation gives it the energy to survive."

    "Professor Juniper was saying something about these once…" he said, thoughtfully. "Something about Chargestone Cave…"

    "Obviously, that's where they come from. To be a Trainer and not even know that? Honestly!"

    Jim stiffened. The voice was young, but snobby and British. He turned around, and saw a boy about his age, with neat blond hair, sitting behind him.

    "Can I help you?" Jim asked, trying to be polite.

    "New in town, are you?" asked the boy.

    "Yes," Jim replied. "We're just passing through, but decided to stay and watch the circus."

    "I suppose you would, if you're into that sort of thing," said the boy, now in a bored tone.

    Jim wasn't sure he liked this boy, but he decided to stay civil. He held out a hand.

    "Well, it's nice to meet you," he said. "I'm Jim, Jim Stevens."

    The boy looked at his hand, but didn't shake it, as if he thought it was covered in filth.

    "My name is Nigel," he responded, curtly, "Nigel Richmond, heir to the Richmond family fortune."

    (Oh, great, a kid millionaire. How did I not see that coming, in a city like this?)

    Nigel's eyes roved over him, and then fell on June.

    "Oh. I see you have a Snivy."

    "Yeah. This is my partner, June."

    "Partner? How touching. To be perfectly honest, I've never taken much stock in the Snivy line. They lack the diverse move pool of most Grass types."

    June glared at him from her spot on Jim's shoulder. Nigel took out a Poke Ball.

    "This is my kind of Grass type."

    He clicked it open, and from the Ball came a Pokemon resembling a monkey. It was about half as tall as Nigel, and was covered in leaf-green fur. It had a tall crest on its head, bushy white eyebrows and tufts at its shoulders, a cream-colored face, body, hands, and feet, and a long tail tipped with bushy leaves. It had a confident, almost smug smile on its face. Jim checked it with his Pokedex.

    "Simisage, the Thorn Monkey Pokemon, and the evolved form of Pansage. When angered, it lashes out at opponents with its thorn-covered tail. It evolves through use of a Leaf Stone."

    "So this is what Pansage evolves into…" Jim said.

    His mind wandered back to his battle against Cilan's Pansage. June was staring down at Simisage with mounting dislike, but the latter merely gave a small "Hmph" and turned its head aside.

    "So you live in Castelia?"

    "Naturally," said Nigel.

    He turned and scrutinized Jim further.

    "Let me see…yes, judging by your garments and general appearance, I'd say you hail from one of the lower rungs of the Unova society ladder…Nuvema Town, perchance?"

    Jim was quite nettled by this assessment of his hometown.

    "And what's wrong with Nuvema Town?" he asked, a little more hotly than he would have preferred.

    "Oh, nothing," said Nigel, sarcastically, "I'm sure it's a fine locale in its own right, but to be perfectly frank, it is the boonies of Unova."

    Jim had gotten to his feet, Missy shifting from his lap, looking anxious at her Trainer's behavior. Leanne had been too absorbed in the performance to know what was going on, and when she turned, it was to find the two boys eye to eye, Nigel looking smugly triumphant, Jim red with indignation. Even June and Simisage were glowering at each other.

    "Say that again…" Jim said, softly but dangerously.

    "Oh!" said Nigel, in a tone of amusement. "Proud of your backcountry town, Stevens? You ought to feel lucky the Junipers even bother to stick around."

    "What have you got against the Junipers?" asked Jim.

    "Nothing, I assure you," said Nigel, dryly, "I simply mean that it's a pity that they have to waste their talents and studies among such low-class…"

    Exactly what "low-class" something Nigel was going to name was never said. Before Jim knew what was happening, he had raised his fist, intending to punch Nigel square in the nose. Thankfully, Leanne grabbed his arm and held him back. His cap had fallen off, and his glasses were askew. Nigel had looked startled at the attempt, and Simisage had been ready to block Jim off with its tail.

    "Jim, NO!" Leanne squeaked. "Don't!"

    "Let go, Leanne!" Jim snapped. "I'll be committed to an asylum before I let him get away with that!"

    "But what about ignoring what bullies say, and never letting them get to you?"

    "You should listen to your girlfriend, Stevens," said Nigel, his composure restored. "She seems to possess more sense than you, though I can't say as much for her diet."

    Leanne reddened indignantly.

    "Well, this has been fun, but I've grown bored of these "festivities". Come, Simisage."

    Simisage nodded, and the two turned to go.

    "Hang on! This isn't over!" Jim snarled.

    Nigel stopped and turned his head, a smug smile on his face.

    "Oh, rest assured, we're not finished. We shall meet again, under more appropriate circumstances…"

    With that, the two took their leave. Jim growled, and Leanne released her hold. Several spectators were wondering what the heck was going on.

    "Low-class…boonies…who does he think he is?!"

    "Jim, relax, this isn't like you. You shouldn't let him rile you up."

    "Nuvema Town's the only home I've ever known, Leanne, and I'll never let anyone take its name in vain! The next time I meet up with that little weasel…"

    "You don't know that you will, though," said Leanne. "Come on, just calm down. Don't let that stuck-up booger get to you. Enjoy the circus."

    Jim sighed and looked down. Missy was holding up his cap for him. He took it and replaced it on his head, adjusting his glasses as well.

    "You're right. I acted completely out of bounds…Let's just enjoy the show."

    They returned to their former seats, and were caught by surprise by what was going on. The Klink act had commenced during the encounter with Nigel, and a new Pokemon had taken the stage. It looked like a girl wearing garments made of nature. She had long leaves for its hair, topped with a red, blooming flower. Her chest was covered with a collar made of yellow petals, leaving her midriff bare, the same shade of white as her face. She wore what appeared to be a skirt made of leaves, in the fashion of a ballroom gown. She had large red eyes, glimmering beautifully as she danced, making smooth movements with her leaf-like arms. Both Jim and Leanne seemed quite taken with her appearance.

    "Wow…" breathed Leanne. "She's so pretty…"

    Numbly, Jim held up his Pokedex.

    "Lilligant, the Flowering Pokemon, and the evolved form of Petilil. The fragrance of the flower on its head causes relaxation. All Lilligant are female, and are popular among celebrities."

    "Lilligant. They're supposed to need extra special care and devotion," said Oshawott, who was also watching.

    "Why?" Jim asked.

    "Do you see that flower on her head?"

    "Yeah."

    "That flower takes extremely skilled coaching to get it to bloom. Once it does, if the Lilligant is neglected, that flower will wilt."

    "Oh, wow…It must be nearly impossible to raise."

    "Not impossible, just difficult. It takes extreme devotion for your Pokemon."

    "Something Team Plasma just can't understand…" Jim muttered, almost to himself.

    Even at this moment, he wondered what they were up to, what Ghetsis was up to…

    As his thoughts were wandering, Lilligant's dance ended, and she was bowing sweetly to the applause. She stepped off the stage, and a man, whom Jim guessed was the circus ringmaster, took her place. He was a barrel-chested man with one of the biggest, curliest mustaches Jim had ever seen, dressed in a red tailcoat and top hat.

    "Another round of applause," he boomed genially, "for Lilligant, our floral diva of the dance floor!"

    Another round was enthusiastically given.

    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to introduce our next act, those soaring simian siblings, the pride of Cirque de Pokeé, the Flying Simi Brothers, Torch and Torrent!"

    He gave a wild, boisterous gesture up toward the top of the tent, and everyone looked up. Two blurs, red and blue, spinning so rapidly that they looked like rolling balls, had leaped from the platform of the high wire and were descending rapidly. They unfolded and landed on their feet, to reveal a pair of monkey Pokemon.

    One had flame-red fur, with a cream-colored muzzle, chest, and paws. A ruff of fluffy white fur crowned its shoulders, its tail looked like a spout of fire, even the crest of fur on its head resembled flames. It had a sort of sheepish expression on its face, with sad eyes but a smile.

    The other had water-blue fur, draped like a frayed tunic ending around knee-level, with white at the chest. Its head was crowned with curled dreadlocks, and its muzzle, arms, and legs were cream-colored. Its long tail ended in a tuft, and its eyes seemed to be closed in bliss. Jim's Pokedex was at the ready once more.

    "Simisear, the Ember Pokemon, and the evolved form of Pansear. Simisear loves to eat sweets, which it uses as fuel for the flame burning inside it. It evolves through use of a Fire Stone."

    "Simipour, the Geyser Pokemon, and the evolved form of Panpour. The jet of water Simipour expels from its tail is strong enough to crack a concrete wall. It evolves through use of a Water Stone."

    "I suppose it makes sense," Jim mused, "circuses do abound with monkey business."

    Leanne giggled, but June rolled her eyes. Torch and Torrent had begun their act. With astounding nimbleness, they had ascended to the trapeze swings, gripping them with their hands, and began revolving around them like wheels. At first, they merely swing between them back and forth, occasionally one would catch the other by the hands or feet and swing them around to the next trapeze, but then, to the audience's amazement, Jim's, nonetheless, both became wreathed in fire and water, and they still kept up their acrobatics with these elemental cloaks. Every time the two passed each other, a cloud of vapor formed from where they had been closest.

    "That's so cool!" Leanne gushed. "They're using Flamethrower and Water Gun while spinning!"

    "That's got to take unbelievable concentration," said Jim.

    Then, the two swirling blurs seemed to come together and begin to swirl downward, like some UFO descending from the sky. Jim could guess that, still in their elemental coverings, they had gripped each others hands and were coming down, spinning rapidly like parachuting skydivers. What was most amazing was the fact that contact of the rotating flames and water were creating, with their owners' motions, a swirling cloud of mist, mysterious and enchanting. The crowd "ooh"-ed and "ahh"-ed at such a sight. The mist met the ground, and in the next second, Torch and Torrent had somersaulted from it, landed on one knee, and threw their arms open in a "Ta-dah!" fashion.

    Everyone had risen from their seats, and was giving the two a standing ovation. It grew to be quite noisy, as even the Pokemon, June, Missy, and Oshawott included, were clamoring just as loudly as the human audience. Torch and Torrent bowed and left the stage.

    "That was really something else!" said Leanne.

    "Yeah!" said Jim. "Imagine having them as Pokemon in a battle! They'd be-"

    But just what they would be, Jim never finished saying, for there was a tremendous uproar from the crowd. He and Leanne looked back toward the stage, and were horror-struck. The ringmaster was back on stage, and was in great distress. His hat was on the ground, his coat was hanging loosely, and he was tearing his hair, shouting for the police.

    Off in the distance of the stage, in the dark but still visible, were two figures carrying something between them, something that was putting up a terrific struggle and slowing them down. Even in the dim light, Jim could see the bright red flower of Lilligant, and the glint of silver armor, adorned with a shield emblem decorated with a superimposed P…

    My White 2 Team

  10. #25
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    Chapter 23
    Team Plasma Strikes Again



    "Jim! Jim! What's going on?! Who were those?!" Missy was asking, frantically, but he didn't hear her.

    He had gone deaf to everything else, even the panicked screams of the spectators. Blood was pounding in his ears, an intense heat was burning inside him, his knuckles were ghost-white on his clenched fists. Never had he dreamed that Team Plasma could sink so low, but it appeared that every time he encountered them, they had reached a new level of despicableness. Stealing from children, stealing archeological artifacts, those were terrible in their own right, but dragging off an innocent performer in the middle of a packed tent!

    He was knocked out of his heated thoughts by a sudden jolt. Missy had given him an electric shock to return him to his senses.

    "Jim, what's going on?!" she repeated. "Who were those people who took Lilligant?! Were they-?"

    "Yes, Missy," said Jim, gravely, answering her unfinished question. "That was Team Plasma."

    "How horrible!" she squeaked. "Can't we do something?"

    "We have to," Jim answered. "I can't let them get away with this, not by a long shot!"

    In an instant, he was barreling down the bleachers toward the stage, Leanne and the Pokemon close behind. They passed the ringmaster, who was still in a transport of anguish. Jim wanted to say something encouraging to him, but he knew that every moment away from the pursuit was another moment Team Plasma could use to escape, so he kept on.

    They headed for where the two kidnappers had escaped, and found that one of the support pegs of the tent had been wrenched away, allowing the canvas to be lifted. Jim held it up as the others passed through, and then, without wasting a second, Jim sent Echo from his Poke Ball.

    "Echo, get as high as you can and scope the area out. Look for two Team Plasma grunts and a Lilligant."

    Echo looked startled by this news, but understood and swept off into the sky. There was a click, and in an instant, Tranquill appeared in front of them.

    "Tranquill, follow Echo," said Leanne. "Keep your eyes peeled for Team Plasma!"

    Tranquill nodded, trilled, and flew after Echo. Jim and Leanne, for their part, pushed their way through the crowd, trying to keep their eyes on their aerial Pokemon. Missy was clinging to Jim's shoulder, looking apprehensive. June had perched herself on top of Jim's cap, her whole body tense and alert, as if she were ready to spring. Oshawott had drawn his scalchop, obviously prepared for battle, when it should come.

    Suddenly, they heard Echo and Tranquill calling from way up above them. They were circling like vultures up above the western pier. Jim shaded his eyes with his hand, and he could pick out a sleek, black boat against the planks. Two figures, carrying a third, were making their way toward it, while a fourth stood by the boat. With a shout, Jim broke into a run. Missy couldn't hold on, and so glided beside him. As they went, they recalled Echo and Tranquill, who had come back beside them.

    As soon as they were near, however, a voice shouted,

    "Axew, Dragon Rage!"

    In the next instant, something that appeared to be a stream of blue flames struck the pier, right in front of the Team Plasma grunts, causing them to stumble backwards, nearly falling into the water. Now that they were close, Jim could see Lilligant. She was pale and scared-looking, and tears were in her eyes. His attention, however, was arrested by someone who had just run up.

    It was a girl, though she seemed to be younger than Jim, perhaps thirteen or fourteen. She had brown skin, large brown eyes, and the biggest bundle of hair Jim had ever seen in his life, two large pigtails with a mass of purple running down her back, like a ponytail handled by an overzealous gardener rather than a hair stylist. She was dressed in a long-sleeved cream shirt, a pink skirt tied in a big bow at the hip, and cream leggings that stopped below her knees.

    Standing beside her was a little Pokemon resembling a baby dragon. It was greenish in color, with red eyes, a crest on its head, and a pair of white tusks on the sides of its face, pointing outwards. Jim brought his Pokedex out.

    "Axew, the Tusk Pokemon. Axew marks its territory by scratching tree bark with its tusks, which grow back if broken. Constant re-growth makes its tusks stronger and sharper."

    The girl heard the Pokedex and turned to look at Jim and Leanne.

    "Don't worry, I'll handle this," she said, and Jim knew by her voice that she had ordered the Dragon Rage attack.

    "I appreciate your bravery, miss-" Jim began, but the girl giggled.

    "'Miss'? Never heard that one before. Call me Iris."

    "Oh? Well, I appreciate your bravery, Iris, but this is a personal affair, so we'd like to help out."

    "Personal affair? You mean you've met these guys before?"

    "Right. They're Team Plasma. They claim to preach Pokemon liberation, but they're little more than thieves!"

    He glanced contemptuously at the Team Plasma grunts, who were still keeping a firm hold on Lilligant.

    "What?! That's horrible!" Iris said, glaring at the two grunts as well. "You creeps ought to be ashamed of yourselves! Pokemon are our friends!"

    "You wouldn't understand, child," retorted one of the grunts. "We shall free all of the Pokemon of Unova, one step at a time!"

    Iris's face flushed, and she stamped her foot, fists clenched.

    "Don't call me a child!" she snapped. "You're talking to the apprentice of Dragon Master Drayden! Show some respect!"

    "Drayden?" Jim wondered.

    The name seemed to have a big impact on Team Plasma. They blanched and stepped back.

    "D-Drayden?" stuttered one. "Drayden of Opelucid City??"

    Iris smiled cheekily.

    "What, are you scared of him? And here I thought you were big, tough thugs. What kids!"

    Jim laughed out loud. It was highly satisfying to see three Pokemon kidnappers being put in their place by a young girl.

    "Silence!" one of the grunts snapped. "How dare you mock us! You will pay for your disrespect!"

    Each of a Poke Ball in their free hands and threw them up. From them appeared a Watchog and two new Pokemon. One looked like a little crocodile, sand-brown with black stripes. Its eyes were set within black sclera, shaped like a pair of goggles. The other looked like a dumpy green trash bag with little feet. It had a toothy mouth and a tied knot on top resembling a pair of tiny ears. Two of its arms seemed to be made of some form of solid grime, and there was a putrid smell coming from it. Jim took out his Pokedex again.

    "Sandile, the Desert Croc Pokemon. Sandile's eyes are covered with a special membrane to protect them from the sun. It lives and hunts buried in the sands, except for its snout and eyes."

    "Trubbish, the Trash Bag Pokemon. A combination of garbage and industrial waste gave birth to this Pokemon. It releases toxic gas in the form of belches which, when inhaled, will put a human to sleep for a week." They were all rounding on Axew, who didn't flinch from such unfair odds.

    "Three against one? That's hardly fair."

    He was just reaching for his Poke Balls when a pair of voices behind them called,

    "Then let us cut in!"

    Something flew over his head, and, to his astonishment, Torch and Torrent, the acrobatic Pokemon, were standing in front of him, ready for combat.

    "What are you guys doing here?" Jim asked.

    "Lilligant's part of our troupe, man," said Torrent, in a voice that reminded Jim strongly of how hippies in the 70's were portrayed. "She's family!"

    "And we'd never let anyone take her away!" chimed in Torch, in a voice that, while bold, still bordered on timidity. "Leave them to us!"

    "The more, the merrier!" said Leanne.

    She, June, Missy, and Oshawott stepped aside as Jim and Iris took their places on the battlefield. On one side, Watchog, Trubbish, and Sandile, and on the other, Axew, Torch, and Torrent. Jim seemed awkward being in control of two Pokemon that weren't even his. The two Simi Brothers seemed to recognize his hesitation.

    "Mellow out, bro," said Torrent. "You can totally handle this."

    "We're with you all the way," said Torch.

    Jim nodded, making a quick check in his Pokedex for their attacks. Just as he finished, everyone else was getting into position. It seemed the grunt with the Watchog wanted to battle Iris and Axew alone first, and the Simi Brothers had stepped back to give her room.

    "Watchog, Rock Smash!"

    Watchog lunged for the little dragon, its forearm glowing red.

    "Axew, Dragon Claw!" Iris commanded.

    Axew leaped to intercept, its little claws glowing bluish. The two attacks struck and cancelled each other out, but this seemed to be what Iris wanted.

    "Now! Dual Chop!"

    Axew's arms began to shine with a bluish light, and with the speed and precision of a karate master, struck Watchog straight on the cranium twice with its arms. Watchog stumbled back, eyes rolling dizzily.

    "Don't let it get the better of you!" its Trainer yelled. "Thunder Wave!"

    The bands on Watchog's body began to glow blue, and a bolt of lightning struck out from its body, straight for Axew.

    "Axew, dodge it!" Iris screamed.

    Axew leaped to dodge, but not quick enough. The bolt struck home, and Axew was flattened to the ground, sparking and twitching. Iris gasped, and Jim knew, with grim apprehension, that it was paralyzed.

    "Now, Watchog, Rock Smash!" ordered the grunt, jubilant in light of Axew's incapacitation.

    Watchog leaped at Axew, its forearm glowing again. It socked Axew right in the jaw and sent it rolling.

    "Axew!" Iris cried. "Try to get up!"

    Axew did try, but a wave of electric sparks surrounded its body, and it returned to its original position.

    "This is bad," said Torch, pensively. "Rock Smash isn't strong, but it lowers the target's Defense. Axew's set up for some major damage…"

    Jim grimaced at these words, and at the sight of poor little Axew, paralyzed and weakened.

    "Slam!" commanded the grunt.

    Watchog sped straight for little Axew and charged into it, shoulder-first, sending it rolling, grunting in pain. Iris looked absolutely distressed.

    "Come on, Axew! Get up!" she encouraged.

    Axew tried to get to its feet, but sparks surrounded it again, and it was forced to lay back down, cringing.

    "This is game over for you, apprentice of Drayden!" said the grunt. "Hyper Fang!"

    Watchog lunged for Axew once again, its fang glowing and elongating.

    "AXEW!!" Iris shrieked. "DO SOMETHING!! PLEASE!!"

    Axew slowly tried to raise itself, wincing in pain. Watchog was closing in, ready to strike…but Axew was not about to give in. A strange blue light seemed to be glowing in its body. Then, with a roar, Axew opened its mouth wide, and a stream of black and blue flames burst out, striking Watchog and sending it flat onto its back, where it didn't get back up. The grunt's jaw had dropped.

    "Whoa!" Jim crowed. "That was an awesome Dragon Rage!"

    "Way to go, Axew!" cheered Iris, who was hopping up and down in excitement.

    Axew had gotten back to its feet, looking weak but triumphant. In the next instant, Iris scooped it up and hugged it so tightly that one would have thought it was an Axew plush toy. The grunt had sulkily recalled his Watchog, and the other two grunts and their Pokemon took their places as Jim, Torch, and Torrent took theirs.

    "Ok, let's see if we can do this," said Jim, trying to keep steady about these odd arrangements. "Torch, Flamethrower on Trubbish! Torrent, Water Gun on Sandile!"

    Both sent jets of fire and water, respectively, from their mouths straight for their targets.

    "Sandile, Sand Tomb!"

    "Trubbish, Acid Spray!"

    Sandile seemed to take a deep breath, and then spat what appeared to be a swirling stream of sand, which struck the Water Gun and mixed into a pile of mud, splattering onto the ground between the two. Trubbish, for its part, spat a greenish liquid from its mouth, dousing the flames.

    "Hmm, typical counter," Jim muttered. "Ok then. Torch, use Fury Swipes on Sandile!"

    Torch leaped for the little Desert Croc, sharp claws gleaming white on his fingers.

    "Sandile, Mud-Slap!"

    Sandile reached one foreleg back, and then, with its claws, swept a glob of mud from the puddle straight for Torch. The muck splattered into his eyes, making him miss his mark as he swept. The grunts laughed derisively as he scrambled back to Jim as best he could, still trying to rub the mess out of his eyes.

    "Torrent, can you wash it off?" Jim asked, concerned.

    "No problem," he said. "Hold still, little bro."

    He held up his tail in one hand, by the tuft, and a jet of clean blue water sprayed out onto Torch's face, wiping the mud clean, though Torch still wiped at them, trying to focus his gaze.

    "That was a pretty smart trick, though," Jim said, hating to admit it, "mixing sand with water to make mud for a Mud-Slap. They're smarter than I gave them credit for. But that doesn't mean we're going to let them get the better of us! Torrent, use Acrobatics on Trubbish!"

    Torrent crouched and sprang into the air, somersaulting rapidly before diving for Trubbish, feet-first.

    "Trubbish, Stockpile!"

    Trubbish opened its toothy mouth and seemed to suck in a great deal of air, swelling like a balloon. Torrent slammed his feet into Trubbish's body, but it didn't seem to harm it. Instead, Torrent bounced off as if he had leaped off a trampoline. Jim groaned.

    "This is a stalemate, and no mistake," he muttered. "We can't get close to Sandile, or it'll Mud-Slap the attacker. If we go for Trubbish, it'll buff itself up with Stockpile…"

    The grunts and their Pokemon grinned devilishly, knowing Jim was at a loss.

    "Ok, Sandile, use Bite!"

    "Trubbish, Take Down!"

    Both Pokemon leaped, Sandile's fanged jaws wide open, straight over the mud puddle…

    The mud puddle!

    "Torrent!" Jim shouted. "Use Water Gun on the mud puddle, with your tail! Quick!"

    Despite it being such an odd command, Torrent didn't hesitate. He shot a jet of water from his tail, so strong that it seemed like a cannon blast, right at the puddle. Sure enough, just as Jim hoped, the force of the jet sent a wave of mud up to meet the two attacking Pokemon. A great amount filled Sandile's gaping jaws, and a sick, choked look came over its snouted face. Trubbish got a face-full and fell short, blinded. Leanne and Iris cheered, while the grunts looked thunderstruck.

    "Now, Torch, Torrent, Flamethrower and Water Gun, once more!" Jim commanded, brimming with new confidence.

    The brothers once again shot their attacks, and this time, they made their mark, both targets incapacitated by the surprise mud-splash. Sandile was swept and splashed by Water Gun, while Trubbish was scorched and seared by Flamethrower.

    "And now, for a grand finale, double Acrobatics!"

    Both Torch and Torrent crouched, sprang into the air, somersaulted, and dove, striking Sandile right on the back and Trubbish square in the cranium. Both Pokemon slumped where they lay, unconscious. Leanne, Iris, and their Pokemon cheered louder than before, and Jim, Torch, and Torrent shared a three-way high five, all of them grinning from ear to ear.

    "Awesome work, guys!" Jim said.

    "Aw, it was all you, man," said Torch, modestly.

    "He's right, bro," said Torrent, "you were the man with the plan."

    Their jubilation was checked, however, by an odd sound: the sound of someone clapping slowly, mockingly, coming from the pier. Everyone turned, and Jim's insides first turned to ice, then blazed. There, at the bow of the ship, clapping with a smile of sarcastic approval, was none other than Ghetsis.

    "Congratulations, indeed, young Stevens…" he said, his voice smooth and oily as ever, his eyes roving over the group. "Ahh, and your young lady friend is here as well…and what's this? The apprentice of Dragon Master Drayden? What a pleasant surprise…"

    Leanne glared coldly at Ghetsis, and Iris also cast him an unfriendly look. Jim clenched his fists.

    "I had no idea you'd be here, Ghetsis," he said, softly. "Here to oversee your lapdogs commit kidnapping?"

    Ghetsis' pale face flushed briefly.

    "Please do not mince words," he said, calmly. "I've told you, our goal is merely to free Pokemon from human bondage, and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to-"

    "Oh, sure, whatever it takes!" Jim interrupted, hotly. "Stealing, kidnapping, it's all for the greater good for you, isn't it, Ghetsis?! I suppose next I'll see you commit arson or even murder to 'free an enslaved Pokemon'!"

    Ghetsis' face turned stern and cold as he regarded Jim.

    "As I said, Mr. Stevens," he said, almost in a whisper, "whatever it takes…"

    The girls gasped. June and Oshawott were trying to get at him, fury etched on their faces, but Leanne held them back. Ghetsis turned toward the grunts.

    "Recall your Pokemon and load the Lilligant into the ship."

    Jim gaped.

    "Y-You can't!" he shouted. "We beat them fair and square! And besides-"

    But Ghetsis held up his hand.

    "I have been observing your confrontation between my subordinates, Stevens, and nowhere in anything you have said did I hear anything concerning terms for Lilligant's freedom. Thus, you have no claim to her."

    "You don't understand!" Jim said, desperately. "She'll die if she remains with you! A Lilligant needs love and care if her flower is to stay bloomed! If she's neglected, she'll wilt!"

    "Precisely," said Ghetsis, with the air of a teacher correcting the stupidity of a student. "As long as she remains among human company, she will sooner or later encounter mistreatment or unhappiness, and thus wilt. If put back into her natural environment, among her own kind, she will have no fear of neglect. It is what's best for her."

    Jim felt as if all speech had failed him. Ghetsis had perfect logic! He couldn't think of anything to counter it, try as he might. He felt a sense of hopelessness as the grunts, having recalled their Pokemon, were surrounding Lilligant, who looked utterly miserable and scared…

    My White 2 Team

  11. #26
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 24
    Rescue and Release


    "Leavanny, String Shot!"

    The voice seemed to thunder from out of nowhere. And then, quick as a flash, something like a white thread, just visible in the morning sun, shot from somewhere behind Jim and bound themselves around Lilligant's waist, forming a sort of belt. Ghetsis and his grunts looked stupefied as, with a tug, Lilligant was thrust from their midst towards the Trainers.

    Leanne caught her in her arms as she flew to them, and the thread broke off. Lilligant seemed to be looking quite intently into Leanne's face, and then, tears coming to her eyes, she wrapped her leafy arms around her neck and nestled her head under her chin. Leanne, not exactly sure what this meant, still smiled and cradled her, like a mother reassuring a child.

    Jim looked behind him in time to see both the ringmaster, looking very much out of breath, and none other than Burgh! A Pokemon resembling a yellow praying mantis stood beside him, clothed in green leaves, and with a pair of blade-like leaves for its arms. Jim examined it with his Pokedex.

    "Leavanny, the Nurturing Pokemon, and the final evolutionary form of Sewaddle. It sews clothing for small Pokemon out of leaves, using its sharp cutters and the sticky thread it spits. It warms its eggs using the heat from fermented leaves."

    Leanne had set Lilligant down, and Torch and Torrent had run up to her, both hugging her tightly. The three of them then joined the ringmaster, who was overjoyed to see Lilligant safe and sound.

    "Burgh!" Iris cried out, looking ecstatic at the artist's appearance.

    "Well-met, young Iris!" said Burgh, grandly and with a bow.

    "You two know each other?" Leanne asked.

    "Of course!" answered Iris. "My teacher, Drayden, has always been on good terms with Gym Leader Burgh!"

    Both Jim and Leanne's jaws fell open.

    "D-Did you say…Burgh's a Gym Leader??" Jim asked, astounded.

    He looked at him, who seemed quite unabashed at this revelation.

    "But I thought you were an artist!"

    Burgh laughed heartily.

    "It seems you've yet to understand the true ingenuity of Unova Gym Leaders, Jim. Have your meetings with the Striation Trio and Lenora showed you nothing? We are more than certified keepers of League Badges and masters of one type of Pokemon; we are respected members of the communitarian world as well. I, myself, must wear two masks in my daily life. One the one hand, I am Burgh, wandering artist, born in Nacrene City, and celebrity of Castelia City. On the other hand, I am Burgh, Gym Leader of Castelia City, keeper of the Insect Badge, and master of Bug-types."

    He proudly looked down at his Leavanny, who seemed to imitate its master's motions. Jim nodded slowly. He knew he should have remembered that Unova Gym Leaders also had second occupations, but never had he heard anything about Burgh being a Gym Leader…

    "Very well said, Burgh," said Ghetsis, composed once again. "I expected no less profound words of wisdom from you."

    Burgh turned his attention to the Team Plasma Sage, his gaze steady.

    "I've heard a good deal about your organization, Ghetsis," he said, in a much more serious tone than Jim had ever heard him use. "You preach a powerful message about ensuring happiness for Pokemon, though you seem to have little regard for the happiness of humans, if this is your way of doing things."

    "Knowledgeable though you are, Burgh, I would never expect you to fully understand. It all lies in the very origins of our land."

    Jim started. The ‘origins of our land’? Was he talking about that legend?…

    Ghetsis proceeded, not noticing Jim's reaction.

    "The legends say that the Black Dragon appeared before a hero, a hero who had sought the most desirable, ideal way to bring together a world of conflict and war. The Dragon shared its wisdom, while simultaneously baring its fangs to those who dared oppose it. Together, this Dragon and its human partner combined their knowledge and skill to unite the hearts of everyone in the land…That is the origin of Unova."

    Despite it being such a reverent dictation, Jim couldn't help but feel skeptical at Ghetsis' choice of words. Why only mention Zekrom and the Hero of Ideals? Weren't Reshiram and the Hero of Truth also responsible for the shaping of Unova?

    "And that is where Team Plasma comes in," Ghetsis went on. "We shall do whatever we must to return the Black Hero and Black Dragon to our land, to once more unify our hearts and lead us to a new and better understanding, the understanding of Pokemon freedom…"

    Jim's mind was reeling from all of this. "Return the Black Hero and Black Dragon"? Did that mean that it wasn't just a legend after all? There really was, somewhere out there, someone who was a direct descendant of the Hero of Ideals, who was destined to wield the might of the Black Dragon? Not only that, but that would mean the Hero of Truth's descendant existed as well, ready to inherit the White Dragon…

    "I won't deny that your ultimate goal has good intentions behind it," Burgh answered, "but your methods of reaching it are not publicly favorable. We're all different in some way, but I think I can safely say there's one thing we can all agree on: our love for Pokemon. You remember your speech at Accumula Town? Before a certain interruption,"

    Here his eyes fell on Jim for a moment, but with an expression of approval rather than reproach.

    "You got me to rethink my relationship with Pokemon. For that, I thank you."

    Ghetsis looked pleased.

    "Splendid," he said. "I see you do have some sense in you…"

    "I thank you," Burgh continued, emboldening, "for allowing me to strengthen my love for all Pokemon. I swore that my dedication would never waver. On the contrary, I would let it grow until I could possibly hold it in no longer! And that, Ghetsis, is why I will never support Team Plasma, now that I see what you truly are…"

    Jim, Leanne, and Iris gazed at him, awed. Jim had always thought of Burgh as a pleasant-natured, slightly eccentric man. Seeing him speak so proudly and sternly was quite surprising.

    Ghetsis, for his part, was stony-faced, as if the reality of Burgh's refusal to accept his doctrine had hit him hard. Then, he burst into a loud, cold, mirthless laugh, the exact sort Jim had figured he had.

    "MYA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!" he roared. "You've surpassed my opinion of you, Burgh, by a considerable amount! You would have made a good Sage, among us Seven. We, who share our knowledge, wisdom, and guidance to our glorious king."

    He gave a sort of ceremonial half-bow, hand on his chest, and all of the Team Plasma grunts did the same. Jim was struck dumb. He had always figured that Ghetsis, so formidable, terrible, and commanding, was the mastermind of the entire organization. To hear that he was merely a subordinate to a much higher authority…wasn't a comforting thought.

    "But come," Ghetsis went on, still smiling, "we've wasted enough time. Team Plasma, we depart!"

    "Yes, Sage Ghetsis!" said the three grunts, in a militaristic way.

    "Your skills are improving, Stevens," Ghetsis added, his eyes falling on Jim. "Keep them up. I look forward to a much better demonstration soon…"

    Jim didn't answer, but glared steadily at him. Still casting a calculating smile at the group of rescuers, Ghetsis went below deck as his soldiers filed onto the boat, and then, with astonishing speed, it pulled away from the dock and sped off down the water. Just like that, they were gone once again…

    "Blast it," muttered the ringmaster. "They got away before we could have them arrested."

    "Were you even able to get hold of the police, sir?" Iris asked.

    "Unfortunately, no. I was getting desperate, especially after Torch and Torrent had disappeared as well, so I went to pursue them myself, and that's when I ran into Burgh. He seemed to understand the situation perfectly, and so we came with all speed here."

    "But it wasn't entirely fruitless," Burgh said. "We've rescued Lilligant and foiled their scheme."

    "Yes, indeed!" said the ringmaster, brightening, "I haven't forgotten that! And so it's you who is our young hero!" he added, turning to Jim, who reddened.

    "Me, sir? It wasn't all me. Iris helped a great deal too…"

    "Aw, don't be so modest!" Iris said, giving him a friendly punch on the arm. "I'd never have been able to take them on all by myself."

    "You're amazing!" Axew chimed in, enthusiastically.

    "And besides," the ringmaster added, "I caught a glimpse of your teamwork with the Simi Brothers. It isn't easy for most Trainers to battle with unfamiliar Pokemon, especially ones already owned by someone else."

    "Well, that was…"

    Jim was going to say "just dumb luck", but he figured it'd be best not to.

    "And to show you just how grateful I am…" the ringmaster continued, looking a bit more serious.

    He reached into his pocket and pulled out three Poke Balls. Jim was confused by this gesture, but the three performers seemed to guess what it meant, and became startled.

    "S-Sir!" Torch stammered. "Y-You can't mean-!"

    The ringmaster seemed to guess what Torch was saying.

    "It's all right, Torch, it's all right," he said. "I've seen the way you two battled alongside this young man, and I have to say it was a most spectacular performance. Once I saw that, I realized that by keeping you under my tent, I was merely holding back what you're truly capable of. I want you to be able to go out, see the world, become stronger and wiser. I know that, as a circus troupe, we travel the world, but I can't feel like it's the same thing."

    Now it was Jim's turn to be startled.

    "You want them…to come with us?" he asked, dumbfounded.

    "Yes, my boy. I can think of no one worthier than you to inherit them."

    "B-But what about your circus? They're the stars of Cirque de Pokeé!"

    "That is true. They've been part of my troupe ever since they were a Pansear and Panpour. However, ever since they evolved, I'd noticed a, how do I put this…a "change" in their performances. They were becoming…restless, sort of anxious for a change."

    Torch and Torrent didn't protest. It seemed that the ringmaster was being completely truthful, and it was no use denying it.

    "I can't take them back, now that they've experienced their true passion. That would be an injustice. Please, Jim, my lad. I know you're the right man for the job."

    The two looked up at Jim, and Jim looked at them. This was too much to ask for. Two fully-evolved Pokemon, seasoned performers, for him? For an instant, his mind had flickered back to what he had heard Cheren say to Bianca, before Nacrene City…

    "Bianca, you haven't been blind to everything that's happened, have you?…He's too perfect for his own good…"

    Then, almost instantly, the fact that it was Cheren that had said it, out of spite and jealousy, overthrew his premonitions. He looked at the ringmaster and said,

    "If they're on board with it, I'm prepared to accept your offer."

    Torch and Torrent looked at each other, stunned but excited. The ringmaster beamed.

    "Excellent! I knew I'd put my trust in the right lad!"

    "But what about Lilligant?" Leanne asked. "Won't she be lonely without them?"

    "Oh, you needn't worry about that, lass," said the ringmaster. "Which brings me to my next point. Er, what was your name, child?"

    "Leanne, sir," she answered.

    "Leanne…Leanne…" he repeated, as if pleased. "A lovely name, to be sure. Well, it's not something widely known, but Lilligant used to belong to my young daughter, whom, I daresay, you resemble astonishingly."

    Leanne turned pink at her cheeks.

    "I…I do?" she asked, flustered.

    "She grew sick when she was just about your age…and didn't recover…" he said, very sadly and quietly.

    Torch and Torrent lowered their heads.

    "Oh…I'm so sorry…" Leanne said.

    "Ever since her passing, Lilligant hasn't been the same. I know she may look bright and cheerful on the stage, but that's just it. She's a performer. She has to put on an act to disguise her emotions, or else channel them through her dances. That's why I think you would be perfect to take care of her, young miss, and I think she knows it too…"

    Leanne looked down at Lilligant, who had come back over to her, and was gazing at her again, almost imploringly. With a tender smile, she knelt down and gripped her leafy hands in hers.

    "If you think I'm the right Trainer for you…I won't say no."

    Lilligant threw her arms around Leanne, hugging her tightly. During that moment, even Jim, despite his distance, could smell something; it was a very pleasant, flowery smell, that made him feel as if every single care he had ever had in the world had flowed out of him like a breath of air. Burgh and Iris watched on, the latter dabbing at her eyes with her big sleeves.

    The ringmaster had taken the Poke Balls and was pressing their buttons, holding them longer than was usual. The reason became apparent, when a bluish glow surrounded Torch, Torrent, and Lilligant, then faded again. He had released them from those Poke Balls.

    "And now, that's done," he said, a little heavily.

    The three performing Pokemon went up to him, somewhat sadly. The ringmaster smiled and knelt in front of them.

    "You all take care of yourselves. I know you will make far better Pokemon, than you were performers…"

    They nodded, and then all three embraced him. A twinge of guilt smote Jim at this. He still couldn't help feeling responsible for the ringmaster losing his best acts, but it seemed that here was a man that cared more for the good of his Pokemon than for the good of his profession. It was a release, like Team Plasma would have wanted, but it was to hand them over to better owners, better friends, and so was not quite the same.

    At last, the ringmaster, casting a last look at them, straightened up, turned, and made his way back towards the town square. Torch, Torrent, and Lilligant then turned to their new Trainers. A little numbly, Jim took two Poke Balls from his belt, and Leanne did the same.

    "This has got to be the weirdest thing I've ever done," he said.

    "Prep yourself for weirder, then," she answered. "We've only just begun."

    "So true," said Jim, with a smile. "Ok, boys, here we go!"

    He threw both Poke Balls into the air, and the Simi Brothers jumped to meet them, pressing their buttons with their hands. Leanne did the same with Lilligant, who hit the button as it reached her hand. All three Pokemon disappeared inside, and the Balls snapped shut. They wiggled for a few seconds in their hands, and then, with a final click, became immobile. They both held up their prizes.

    "I've got a Simisear and Simipour!" Jim crowed.

    "And I've got a Lilligant!" Leanne said, cheerfully.

    June, Missy, Oshawott, and Axew all applauded. And then, quite suddenly, the Poke Ball holding Torch shrank to pocket size, and its button turned red. Jim stared at it, dumbfounded.

    "What's going on? What happened?"

    "Oh dear," Burgh said. "It looks as if you've surpassed six Pokemon. A Trainer can only have six active Pokemon on hand. Until you make room, that Poke Ball will remain shut."

    "Oh, jeez, I hadn't realized," Jim muttered. "I guess I have to send someone to the PC, but I don't like the thought of them sitting cooped up in a computer box…"

    And then, like a flash, an inspiration came to him.

    "Hey…why not? Yeah! I bet it could work!"

    Everyone looked at him, curiously. He opened his X-Transceiver and dialed a number. In the next instant, Professor Juniper's face appeared on the screen.

    "Well, hi, Jim! How is everything?"

    "Great, Professor! Listen, I need to ask something. Do you think you could put Fennel on the line? She never gave me her number."

    "Oh, of course! One sec."

    The screen turned to static for a moment, and then, Fennel's face came into view.

    "Oh! Jim, hi!" she said, cheerily.

    "Hey, Fennel. I wanted to ask a favor of you."

    "Anything, just name it!"

    "Can you rewire that Pokedex software upgrade so that my Pokemon get transferred to Professor Juniper's lab? I figured they might like that better."

    "Oh, of course! I don't know why we never thought of that before! Maybe Amanita can work that into her next update…All right, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes. Hang on."

    She looked away, and a clicking sound filled the call. Jim could guess that she was typing at her computer. Then, there was a whirring, a beeping, and then a ding, and her face bore a big grin when she turned back.

    "There we are! All set!"

    "Thanks, Fennel. You're a marvel!"

    Fennel's already rosy cheeks reddened even more.

    "Just doing what I can to help," she said, modestly. "Take care now, and give my regards to the professor!"

    "I will, Fennel!"

    The screen turned to static again, and Jim was once more looking at Professor Juniper.

    "So, everything sorted out?"

    "Definitely! Hang on a sec, I think you have a few ‘packages’ coming."

    Juniper raised her eyebrows, obviously confused, but Jim was already punching in numbers on his Pokedex. The screen lit up, and then, two Poke Balls at Jim's belt vanished, and Torch's became normal sized again. Leanne gaped at this sight. Then, Juniper turned around, taken by surprise, as a machine to the back had lit up, and the two Poke Balls were sitting within it.

    "Jim, what's this?" she asked, walking over.

    "The first new demonstration of the Pokedex software, Professor," Jim answered, beaming.

    Juniper clicked the balls open, and out came none other than Jolt and Rok. She took one look at the little Archen and gasped.

    "Oh…my…goodness!" she finally said. "A real, live Archen! Jim, how did you ever-"

    "A present," Jim finished, "from Lenora of Nacrene City. Do you think you could bring the screen down so I can talk to them?"

    Numbly, Juniper complied, and lowered the arm holding the X-Transceiver, so that Jolt and Rok were looking through it.

    "Listen, guys," Jim said, "don't get panicky or anything, but you're going to be staying with the Professor now. My team's filling up, and I've got to make space. Don't worry, though. I'll call on you guys whenever I need you. So be good, ok?"

    Jolt gave a sort of cheerful whinny and reared on his hind hooves. Rok squawked cheerily and flapped his wings. It almost brought tears to Jim's eyes.

    "That's my boys. I'll keep in touch, Professor!"

    Juniper still couldn't say anything, so strong was her astonishment at seeing a real Archen in her lab, so Jim ended the call himself. Burgh stepped forward.

    "Well, now that all of this excitement's out of the way, what do you say we schedule your Gym Battle with me?"

    "Definitely!" Jim said. "I was planning on coming tomorrow!"

    "Tomorrow it is, then!" said Burgh, brightly. "Until then, my friends! Come along, Leavanny."

    He strode off down the main road, Leavanny trotting by his side.

    "I'd better head off too," said Iris. "I told Drayden I'd be back after the circus. If you're ever in Opelucid City, let's meet up!"

    "You bet!" said Jim. "Thanks, Iris. You've been a big help."

    He held out his hand, and she shook it in both of hers.

    "Same to you, Jim!"

    She gave the same shake to Leanne, and then, picking up her Axew, walked off down one of the side-streets leading to the north of the town. June and Missy rejoined Jim, who scooped them up onto his shoulders.

    "Come on, girls," he said, "and Oshawott," as a nearly-forgotten afterthought, "it's been quite a day, and it's not even noon!"

    My White 2 Team

  12. #27
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 25
    Battle for the Insect Badge



    Since the fiasco during the circus had really tired Jim out, he wanted nothing more than to go back to the Pokemon Center and rest. They had lunch, and then spent the rest of the day just lying on their beds, playing with and petting their Pokemon or talking about what had happened. Jim was especially interested in hearing Torch and Torrent's stories about their more hair-raising stunts.

    "So, as the grand finale," Torch was saying, "I was to jump from a 200-foot high-dive into a tank of water."

    "But aren't you a Fire-type?" Jim asked.

    "Yeah, but I'd eaten a Passho Berry before I dived, so it wouldn't have affected me too much. We always take these precautions before a super-dangerous stunt."

    "Ah, I see. Go on."

    "Well, I leaped off the board into a jackknife dive, but when I looked down…the tank was empty!"

    "No way!"

    "Way! They'd forgotten to fill it up! Well, I was just about to mentally sign my last will and testament, when Torrent rushes in and fills the tank himself. I was grateful enough for that, but when I splashed in…he had used Scald!"

    "Scald?"

    "It's like a Water Gun, except it uses hot water instead of cold."

    "Ohh, you must have appreciated that."

    "Well, I hadn't been expecting it, so I was a little caught off-guard at first, but once I realized what happened, it felt like I had a new vigor in me, and so I finished off with an Acrobatics spin out of the tank, showering the ring with a warm drizzle."

    "Wow! You two really know how to work off each other."

    "What can I say?" Torrent said, grinning. "He's the only bro I've got."

    He hooked Torch over to him under his arm and gave him a playful noogie.

    Lilligant never had anything to say. She was very quiet and shy, so more often than not, her movements spoke for her. She was quite comfortable with her new friends, however, and was all smiles, though Jim was under the impression that it was partially due to Torch and Torrent's presence as well. Moreover, it was interesting to see her interactions between the two brothers. She treated Torch like a brother, but with Torrent, it was different. Her white face seemed to turn pink every time he looked her way, and she seemed awfully conscious of her leafy hair and the state of her skirt. She reminded Jim of a school girl who was in the presence of the championing honor student whose heart she yearned to win, but was much too meek to express herself in words.

    Usually, though, she hung around Leanne as she lay on her bed, Zorua asleep on her pudgy stomach. Tranquill was sleeping on one of the bedposts, head tucked under her wing, and Oshawott seemed deep in thought of some new poetic production. Echo was sticking to the wall by his nose, snoozing, and June and Missy were snuggled against Jim, on opposite sides, of course. Missy had wanted to be next to June, but the latter made it clear (without actually saying it) that she wanted nothing more than to be away from her. It spared her the sight of watching Missy smile sappily and wriggle as Jim abstractly scratched her belly. What was more, after they had gotten back, Leanne had given her a surprise: a pink ribbon to tie around her neck, ending in a bow at the back. Missy grew very fond of this bow, and Jim even said it made her "cute as a Lillipup". This repulsed June even further, and affirmed her conviction that the chubby Emolga was little more than a pet, and Jim failed to see that…

    That night, however, after dinner, all of Jim's Pokemon gathered around him, planning their strategy for the Gym tomorrow. Jim regarded Burgh's admission that he worked with Bug Pokemon a major slip, regardless of whether or not it was intentional. He had also been given a sneak peek at his Pokemon, with that Leavanny of his, but it was too early to say whether or not it was his signature fighter. June, reluctant though she was to admit it, said she'd be of no use in the Gym, as Bug-types were strong against Grass-types, and besides that, they usually had a second typing, most commonly Poison. With that, Jim decided to go with Flying and Fire: Missy, Torch, and Echo. He hoped Torch would be able to sweep a victory, depending on what was thrown at them, because he had a feeling that Burgh, like all sensible Gym Leaders, would be well-prepared to combat type disadvantages. He hated to make Echo feel like the last reserve, but the Bat Pokemon seemed to understand, and made no signs of disappointment.

    ***

    The next morning, after a hurried breakfast (on Jim's part; Leanne had no need for rushing), the two left the Pokemon Center and, following the directions on street signs, found themselves at the doors of an enormous building. It had the appearance of an art museum, but its roof was domed and made of glass, and there was something greenish within it that Jim could even see from outside.

    They were admitted inside, and at first, they found themselves in a long corridor filled with paintings in gilded frames. They were skillfully-painted and awfully lifelike: a Trubbish sitting contentedly among a heap of garbage, a pair of Deerling drinking from a brook, the goggle-like eyes of a Sandile peering out of the sand, and the three Elemental Monkeys sitting on the limbs of a tree, eating apples. Then, the corridor ended, and through another set of double doors…they found themselves in what appeared to be a greenhouse.

    There could be no other word for it: a vast room with abundant vegetation growing, enjoying a warm bath of sunlight through the glass ceiling. There were Sewaddle clinging to the trunks of trees, and Venipede enjoying the cool shade of enormous leaves. There was another Pokemon as well: a round yellow creature that looked as if it was wrapped in a leafy cloak. Two antennae extended from its forehead, and its face looked quite gloomy. It was nibbling on leaves that sat in a pile in front of it. Jim took his Pokedex out.

    "Swadloon, the Leaf-Wrapped Pokemon, and the evolved form of Sewaddle. Swadloon wraps itself in leaves to protect itself from the cold. In forests where it lives, the grass and trees grow abundantly."

    "Remarkable, isn't it?" came a familiar voice, though Jim wasn't sure where it came from. "Pokemon of the forest all have their parts to play in making our world beautiful and healthy…it really is food for thought…"

    Then, as if on cue, there was a soft burst of song, sweet and low, coming from some woodwind instrument. They both looked up, and there was Burgh, seated on a tree limb, an ocarina in his hands. His eyes were closed as he played, and the sound that came from it was enchanting, beautiful. The Bug Pokemon seemed to stop and listen, not wanting to miss the melody. When at last he finished, he swung himself down to the soft grass below. Jim noticed that, along with his usual clothing, he was also wearing a forest-green cape, clasped at the neck with a leaf-shaped brooch.

    "So!" he said, brightly. "You're ready for our battle, friend Jim?"

    "You bet!" Jim replied, eagerly.

    "Wonderful! Come this way."

    He turned and led them through a path in the foliage. At the end, they found themselves in a clearing, where a battlefield had been painted out on soft dirt. A young man carrying two flags, presumably the referee, was standing at the edge, in the center. Leanne took her usual place on the sidelines, joined by June and Oshawott. Jim and Burgh took their places at opposite sides.

    "I suppose you know what you're in for, Jim?" Burgh asked.

    "Yep! I don't know if you meant to let it slip or not, but I've prepared myself for whatever Bugs you throw at me!"

    Burgh smiled wryly.

    "Whatever Bugs, eh? We shall see…"

    This disconcerted Jim a little. Had Burgh planned to throw him off from the start? He didn't have time to wonder long, however, as the referee was speaking loud and clear.

    "You will each use three Pokemon! There will be no time limit! Let the battle commence!"

    Jim drew his first Poke Ball.

    "Ok, Missy, start us off with style!"

    He tossed it up, and from it appeared the pudgy form of Missy, still wearing her new ribbon. June rolled her eyes and looked away.

    "Well, isn't this a special start-off for our battle!" said Burgh, amused.

    Missy looked flattered at being called "special". Burgh drew his own Poke Ball.

    "Dwebble, let's begin!"

    The Pokemon that appeared from his Ball looked like an orange hermit crab, but its shell seemed to be made of stone. Jim checked his Pokedex.

    "Dwebble, the Rock Inn Pokemon. Dwebble makes its home in a suitable rock, carving a hole in it with the aid of a special liquid it spits. If the rock breaks, Dwebble remains agitated until it finds a new one."

    (Uh oh. It's part Rock. He must've known I'd get cocky about my choices…Well, no point in blaming myself now.)

    "Ok, Missy, let's go!" Jim said, confidently. "Shock Wave!"

    Electricity flared around Missy's chubby body and then blasted itself in the form of a lightning bolt straight for Dwebble.

    "Dig, Dwebble!" Burgh commanded.

    Using its claws, Dwebble burrowed into the dirt, leaving a hole behind. The Shock Wave struck where Dwebble was and vanished. Jim wasn't sure what good that would do, besides dodging. Ground-type attacks had no effect on Flying-types. Burgh, however, seemed to guess Jim's thoughts, and he smiled.

    "Don't worry, Jim. We're only just starting. Dwebble, come out and use Smack Down!"

    In a blink, Dwebble burst from the dirt, a glowing, metallic orb floating in front of its face. This fired straight at Missy and blasted into her. Jim was anxious already, but it was only increased when he saw the little Emolga plummet straight down, as if a magnet were pulling her to the earth. She hit the ground with a soft thud.

    "You see?" Burgh went on. "Smack Down bring all airborne Pokemon down to our level, restricting their resistance to Ground-type attacks."

    Jim gulped.

    "Now, Dig, once again!"

    Once more, Dwebble burrowed underground.

    "Missy, Double Team!"

    Missy tensed, and three other Missies split from her to stand on the battlefield.

    "Oh-ho," said Burgh, intrigued. "Now it gets interesting…"

    Dwebble burst from the ground right beneath one of the Missies, but it vanished as soon as it came in contact.

    "Now, Missy, Acrobatics!"

    The remaining three Missies launched themselves at Dwebble, swirling around it and striking it as they zoomed by. Then, they soared right up above it and went into a soaring dive, one after the other.

    "Dwebble, X-Scissor!"

    Dwebble's pincers glowed purple, and it leaped at the diving Missy clones. Then, it crossed its claws rapidly, creating a glowing purple X in front of it, like a shield. It passed through one Missy, then the other…and at last, hit its mark. The real Missy was struck, and she went falling toward the ground.

    "Good work, Dwebble! Now, let's finish with one more Smack Down!"

    Dwebble once again formed the ball of metallic energy in front of its face.

    "Missy! Do something!!" Jim yelled.

    Missy's eyes snapped open, and all of a sudden, a buildup of electricity began forming at the tip of her tail. Everyone watched, amazed, as it formed into a sphere the size of her head. Jim's Pokedex was out again.

    "Electro Ball: an Electric-type attack that is stronger if the user is faster than the opponent."

    Just as Dwebble fired, Missy swerved, the Smack Down blasting past her and hitting the dirt. With that swerve, she also swept the ball right from her tail, shooting straight for Dwebble like a missile. There was an electrical explosion that ruffled the leaves and made them glimmer. The next instant, Missy landed neatly on her feet. Dwebble plummeted and fell onto its face, charred and unconscious.

    "Dwebble is unable to battle!" said the referee. "Emolga wins!"

    Missy hopped up and down, jubilant for its victory.

    "Atta girl!" Jim crowed.

    June was regarding Missy with an odd sort of look. She had tried to pass off her lucky victory against N's Yamask as beginner's luck, but somehow, seeing Missy pull off a newly-learned Electro Ball impressed her. It showed her that, under that flabby, silly exterior, there was a capable battler…still, the sight of the bow around her neck sickened her, and she was still convinced that Missy was a pet first, and a Pokemon after…

    "Not bad, Jim, not bad," said Burgh, recalling Dwebble. "You have quite an Emolga there. But now, let's see how she stands up to this! Whirlipede, you're next!"

    He threw another Poke Ball, and Burgh's second Pokemon appeared. To Jim, it didn't even look like a Bug at all, but a purple tire, marked with hexagons and bearing two pairs of feelers, one in the front and one behind. It had spikes along its surface, like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. In the very center, Jim could see, one on each side, a glaring yellow eye, disturbingly familiar. His Pokedex solved his bewilderment.

    "Whirlipede, the Curlipede Pokemon, and the evolved form of Venipede. Whirlipede is protected by a hard shell and attacks opponents by running over them like a wheel. It remains motionless unless it is attacked."

    "So that's the Pokemon between Venipede and Scolipede…" Jim muttered, apprehensive.

    Burgh raised an eyebrow.

    "What's the matter?"

    "I…I've had a bad experience with a Scolipede."

    "Perfectly understandable," said Burgh, placidly. "There are many Trainers who feel some aversion toward so formidable and aggressive a Pokemon. Still, to tame a Pokemon that's not only wild by condition, but wild by nature…that is the truest victory a Trainer can accomplish."

    These words stirred the same feeling Jim had had of Burgh yesterday, when he was standing up to Ghetsis. Underneath the eccentric artistic speeches, there was a wise, thoughtful man beneath.

    "Now then, shall we get started?"

    "You bet! Missy, Electro Ball!"

    Once again, the electric sphere appeared on Missy's tail, and she flicked it toward Whirlipede.

    "Whirlipede, Protect!"

    A clear blue bubble surrounded Whirlipede’s body, and the Electro Ball burst against it, dissolving into sparks.

    "Uh oh."

    "And now, Whirlipede, Steamroller!"

    The bubble disappeared. Whirlipede then began spinning rapidly, like a wheel, and shot straight for Missy.

    "Missy, get out of the way!" Jim shouted.

    Missy leaped into the air, but to Jim's shock, Whirlipede leaped at that moment, and in an instant, was right above the little Emolga. She squeaked with fright as Whirlipede plummeted downwards, right on top of her with a THUD! Everyone winced but Burgh, who seemed to experience this very often in his battle. Whirlipede rolled backwards, and there was Missy, stretched out on her back, out cold.

    "Emolga is unable to battle! Whirlipede wins!" said the referee.

    Jim sighed. It was Missy's first defeat. He knew it would come sooner or later. Unknown to him, June nodded to herself, the smallest of smiles on her faces. She seemed satisfied, not merely because Missy lost, but because it proved to her that she wasn't a "perfect" Pokemon, and that was good enough for her. Jim recalled Missy.

    "Good work, girl," he said, proudly. "You get a good rest."

    He pocketed her Ball, then drew his next.

    "Ok, Torch, it's your turn!"

    He threw the Ball, and Torch appeared, to take Missy's place.

    "Ah, here we go!" said Burgh, pleased. "I was waiting for you to choose our friend Torch. However, type advantage will only get you so far. Let's do this!"

    "Torch, Flamethrower!"

    Torch spewed a stream of flames from his mouth. They washed over Whirlipede, who flinched in pain, but otherwise didn't move.

    "Wow," Jim remarked, "that's one strong shell."

    "Whirlipede, Poison Tail!”

    (Poison Tail? But it doesn’t even have a tail!)

    This didn’t stop Whirlipede. Its back feelers began glowing with a purple light, and even lengthened. It rolled swiftly at Torch, then spun like a top, striking him with its glowing appendages and sending him skidding backward.

    (Oh. I guess that’s how.)

    "Once again!" Burgh commanded.

    Whirlipede came at Torch again.

    "Acrobatics, Torch!"

    Just in time, Torch leaped into the air, somersaulting, and Whirlipede missed.

    "Steamroller!"

    Once again, Whirlipede began to spin rapidly, and it bounced into the air. The two spinning Pokemon struck each other and bounced back, Whirlipede still whirring.

    "Keep at it, Torch!" Jim encouraged.

    "Don't let up, Whirlipede!"

    Both Pokemon leaped back into the air, somersaulting or spinning, striking again and again, neither willing to give in. This went on for some time, until Jim shouted,

    "Torch! Dig!"

    Torch stopped his attack in midair, and then dove beneath the ground, leaving a gaping hole behind. Whirlipede therefore overshot its attack and landed on the other side of the hole, its eyes roving, trying to pick out where Torch would come out. Suddenly, the Ember Pokemon burst out right beneath it, fist first, and the force sent Whirlipede flying, and caused it to land on its side. Burgh blanched.

    "Whirlipede! No!"

    By Burgh's face and Whirlipede's feeble struggles, it became clear to Jim that it was now as defenseless as a shelled animal on its back.

    "Finish up with Flamethrower, Torch!" he said.

    Torch leaped upwards, so that it had a clear shot of Whirlipede's interior, and let loose another blast of fire from his mouth. The flames struck Whirlipede right on the spot in a blinding blaze, and in the next instant, it lay charred and out cold.

    "Whirlipede is unable to battle! Simisear wins!"

    "Great job!" Jim said, ecstatically.

    Torch seemed bewildered by his victory, as if he hadn't expected to pull it off. Burgh called Whirlipede back.

    "You're doing a fine job, Jim," he said, approvingly. "I can see why Team Plasma should be wary of you, but you still have one more test to pass, if you wish to show me your true strength. And that final test is…Leavanny!"

    He threw his final Poke Ball, and there was Leavanny, the Pokemon from yesterday.

    "So your star is Leavanny, huh?" Jim asked. "This is gonna be interesting!"

    "I quite agree," said Burgh. "Seeing as my Leavanny is a Bug and Grass-type, you must think Torch has an immediate advantage."

    "I would think that," said Jim, "but you've probably faced a lot of Trainers who make that same mistake."

    "Certainly. Now, let's see if you've indeed learned that lesson! Leavanny, Leaf Storm!"

    Leavanny raised its arms, and a cloud of leaves surrounded its body. Then, it threw its arms forward, and the leaves went straight for Torch.

    "Flamethrower!" Jim commanded.

    Torch shot a jet of flame at the leaves, singeing them into ashes. Burgh, however, was quick on the draw.

    "Now, Leavanny, String Shot!" Through the cascade of ashes, Leavanny spat a white webby string from its mouth. It wound itself around Torch, binding his arms to his sides. It even covered up his mouth! He struggled and strained, but he couldn't break free. Now it was Jim's turn to look frantic.

    "Torch! Try to burn it off!"

    He could see a fiery glow in Torch's face, but nothing happened. It seemed the String Shot had bound his mouth shut.

    "Now, Leavanny, let's finish this! Hyper Beam!"

    A golden orb, shot with white, materialized in front of Leavanny's feelers, and from it, with unbelievable force, an energy beam shot from it, blasting Torch right on the spot. When the smoke from the blast had cleared, Torch was lying across his back, unconscious, the string singed off.

    "Simisear is unable to battle! Leavanny wins!"

    Jim's face was quite grim. With Torch knocked out, Echo was his last hope. Still, hopefully he would be able to last with his Flying type against Leavanny's Bug and Grass. With this thought in mind, he recalled Torch.

    "Good job, pal," he said. "You did fine."

    He took out his last Poke Ball, his last hope, and looked at Burgh.

    "You really know how to keep a Trainer on the ropes, Burgh."

    "It's a trait all Gym Leaders need to possess," he said. "It's necessary to prevent an easy victory."

    "I agree," said Jim, "which is why my final Pokemon is an appropriate challenge. Echo, I'm counting on you!"

    He tossed up his Poke Ball, and there was the Woobat, fluttering his little wings. Burgh raised his eyebrows, obviously humored.

    "A Woobat? Interesting final choice, Jim. I can't wait to see how this turns out."

    Leavanny bared its blade-like forearms.

    "Echo, I'm behind you all the way," Jim told his Pokemon. "I know it doesn't look good, but I know you can do this."

    Echo seemed to regard him for a while, as if awed by his confidence. Then, he nodded and smiled.

    "I'll do what I can, Jim," he said.

    Then, he faced Leavanny. Unfortunately, in the time taken to swap Pokemon, the recharge Leavanny would have had to take after Hyper Beam had already gone by, so it was ready to go.

    "All right, Leavanny, Leaf Storm, once again!"

    Once more, Leavanny summoned hundreds of leaves, and sent them blasting toward Echo.

    "Counter with Air Cutter!"

    Echo's wings glowed blue, and he flapped them rapidly, sending blue slashes of energy at the Leaf Storm. They sliced through and tore the leaves to tiny shreds, though only those within their path; Echo was buffeted by the rest. The Cutters continued on and battered against Leavanny, who tried to shield its face with its arms.

    "Hang in there, Echo!" said Jim. "Use Shadow Ball!"

    Echo cupped his wings, and a black and purple ball appeared between them. Then, it batted it toward Leavanny with one wing.

    "Block with X-Scissor, Leavanny!"

    Leavanny crossed its arms across its chest, and its forearms glowed purple. The Shadow Ball struck and exploded, but Leavanny still stood its ground, though it looked tired.

    "Looks like Leavanny's wearing out, Burgh," Jim said. "Those moves aren't exactly easy to pull off, are they?"

    To his astonishment, Burgh was smiling again.

    "True, Leaf Storm and Hyper Beam have drawbacks in the form of restricting defenses. However, the important thing is to make those setbacks inconsequential! Leavanny, String Shot!"

    Leavanny spat its sticky thread straight for Echo, and it succeeded in binding his wings to his furry body.

    "Oh, man!" Jim groaned. "Not you too, Echo!"

    "Sorry, Jim," Burgh was saying. "You've put up an amazing fight, but the time has come for us to end this performance. Leavanny, Hyper Beam!"

    Leavanny's feelers began to glimmer as the Hyper Beam began to charge. Jim was frantic.

    "Come on, Echo! You've got to break out of that!"

    "I…I can't!" Echo groaned.

    "Yes, you can! I know you can!" Jim countered, stubbornly. "You don't give yourself enough credit, Echo! Sure, you've had a rocky start, but that's because this is just the start! We've still got a long way to go, and we can only get better from here! You're already improving! You've taught yourself Air Cutter and Shadow Ball! I know you've got more in you, Echo! You just have to try! I'M COUNTING ON YOU!"

    Leavanny's Hyper Beam fired like a cannon…but something seemed to have snapped in Echo's mind. In the next instant, his entire body was blazing with blue light. In the next instant, he had swerved out of the way of the Hyper Beam, and it blasted a great hole in the wall. Everyone was gazing up at the glimmering Woobat with awe, but Jim's soon gave way to excitement.

    "Echo…you're evolving!!" he crowed.

    And so he was. His wings were bursting from the bonds of the String Shot, but they were larger, broader. Something seemed to be forming beneath him, like a lower body, including a tail. Lastly, on top, a head seemed to have formed, with a pair of ears. Like a shockwave, the light vanished, and Echo had been replaced by a new Pokemon altogether. What had once been his entire head and body was now the furry, white hide of a large, dark-blue bat Pokemon. His wings were much bigger, but still leathery. Beneath his fur, he had a rounded lower body with black, clawed feet tucked in. Behind, he had a curled pink tail, ending in a shape vaguely like a heart. The head was adorned with a pair of triangular ears, fused into one at the top, a pair of wide eyes, and a smiling mouth bearing a pair of fangs. The one recognizable feature was the nose, heart-shaped and set between his eyes. With trembling hands, Jim checked his Pokedex.

    "Swoobat, the Courting Pokemon, and the evolved form of Woobat. Swoobat enjoy showering themselves with their own ultrasonic waves, especially around mating season. The waves it can emit from its nose are strong enough to break rocks."

    "Astounding," said Burgh, breathless. "Jim, do you realize the magnitude of this?"

    "What do you mean?"

    "Woobat evolve into Swoobat only when their love for their Trainer has reached its peak. Those words of encouragement you gave it must have given it the final inspiration it needed to evolve."

    Jim looked up at Echo, hovering proud and grand. Echo's love for him was that deep?

    "Echo…" he whispered.

    As if catching his word, Echo looked down at him and winked in a reassuring way. Jim smiled and nodded.

    "There's something else about this, Burgh, something you've failed to address."

    "And that is?"

    "With this evolution, Echo's got his second wind, while Leavanny's still drained and tired."

    Burgh's eyes widened. He looked from the fresh, alert Swoobat to his weary Leavanny, seeing the odds stacked against him.

    "Regardless," he said, his voice still calm, "it's my duty as a Gym Leader to fight until the bitter end! Leavanny, Leaf Storm!"

    With an effort, Leavanny lifted its arms again, summoning a cloud of leaves that went hurtling toward Echo.

    "Not this time! Echo, Air Cutter!"

    Echo's large wings glowed a brilliant blue, and with each flap of them, a blast of wind, bearing crescent-shaped energy slashes, blew at the Leaf Storm, the leaves shredded to bits and Leavanny struck again and again with the slashes. Burgh's teeth were gritted. He meant business now…

    "Leavanny, use X-Scissor!"

    Leavanny crouched and leaped, its forearms crossed in an X shape and glowing purple.

    "Counter with Shadow Ball, Echo!"

    Echo spread his wings out, and a large ball of sparking black and purple energy formed in front of him. Then, with one movement, he drew his left wing back and slapped it toward Leavanny like a tetherball. It exploded against Leavanny's X-Scissor, canceling it out and sending it plummeting back to the ground, but Jim seemed to have other plans.

    "Ok, Echo, let's finish this battle once and for all! Show off your new Heart Stamp!"

    Echo spread his wings, his nose glowing a pinkish purple. Then, with the agility of a bird of prey, he dived, wings tucked against his body, the light from his nose surrounding his entire body like a barrier, giving him the appearance of a dive-bombing missile. With an impact that seemed to shudder the very air, Echo crashed straight into Leavanny and slammed it right into the dirt, the light given off by the former expanding outward like an explosion. Everyone shielded their eyes from the impact, as dirt had been loosened and thrown as well. In the next instant, they could see Echo fluttering away from the spot, Leavanny prostrate and out cold.

    The referee, momentarily stunned, raised his arm.

    "Leavanny is unable to battle! Swoobat wins, which means the victor is the challenger, Jim Stevens!"

    Jim let out a whoop of victory, throwing his fist into the air. Leanne was twirling Oshawott and June around by the paws, all three of them shouting "He did it! He did it! He did it!" Burgh sighed, smiled, and recalled Leavanny.

    "I'm very proud of you," he said. "Well done."

    Echo, meanwhile, had alighted on Jim's outstretched arm.

    "Echo, that was amazing! You found your true strength and evolved…all for me?"

    "All for you, Jim," said Echo, beaming.

    He wrapped his wings around Jim's neck, hugging him tightly. Jim smiled as he returned the gesture. Burgh approached as they broke apart.

    "Excellent battle, Jim! It ought to be immortalized on canvas: A Swoobat's Heartfelt Victory!"

    "Thanks, Burgh. It was awesome to battle you as well!"

    "And now, as Gym Leader of Castelia City, it is with pride and privilege that I bestow upon you, Jim Stevens, the official Pokemon League Insect Badge."

    He held out his hand. Sitting in his palm was a glittering badge shaped sort of like the green body and wing of an insect. Jim received it and held it up, the sun gleaming down through the glass roof.

    "Yes! It's all mine: the Insect Badge!"

    His friends cheered from the sidelines, and Echo soared around them, squeaking excitedly. As he did so, Jim began to feel dizzy and unsteady on his feet. He seemed to realize why, however.

    "I thought Swoobat liked showering each other with their sound waves…it didn't say anything about humans!"

    Even as he stumbled, he could hear Leanne, Oshawott, June, and even Burgh laughing, and couldn't help but join in.

    My White 2 Team

  13. #28
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 26
    A Desert Trek: A Burglar Bagged



    "That sounds like quite a battle, Jim! You're really coming along fine in your travels!"

    As Jim was waiting for his Pokemon to heal up, he had decided to give Professor Juniper a call. He was amused to see Rok sitting on a perch in the corner, like an oversized parakeet, eating from a bowl held in his claws. Jolt was in the other corner, galloping on a treadmill.

    "I couldn't have done it if Echo hadn't evolved," Jim admitted. "So, where should I head next?"

    "Well, if you're still planning to go the straight route for the League, your next stop would be Nimbasa City."

    Jim felt a thrill of joy flit through his body.

    "Nimbasa City! That's where I've wanted to see the most!"

    His mind drifted slightly, as he fondly thought of the excitement he would experience in Nimbasa City, which would only be magnified by having Leanne with him.

    "You'd better be careful, though," she warned. "To get there, you have to go through Route 4, which is a desert."

    Jim's face fell.

    "A…desert?"

    "Now don't worry. There's a river that runs through it. And besides, if you have a Water type, cooling off should be relatively easy. They don't suffer dehydration as easily as humans or other Pokemon."

    "Well, that should work out fine. I've got Torrent, and Leanne's got Oshawott."

    "That's the spirit! Just be careful, and stick to the road. The desert is a prime locale for some pretty desperate characters and Pokemon…"

    Jim was about to ask for elaboration, when the chime that signaled that his Pokemon were all healed up rang out.

    "Whoops, gotta go!"

    "Good luck, Jim!"

    The call ended, and Jim went to retrieve Missy, Torch, and Echo's Poke Balls. Leanne was sitting with June and Oshawott, the latter of whom was reading off a bit of prose he had written up, entitled:

    "The Ballad of Stevens"

    Sing hey of the virtuous Stevens

    A lad of morality and strength

    With the patience of kings and the learned

    His efforts span to indefinite length

    Companion of Pokemon and humans alike

    A Trainer of wisdom and charisma

    The tamer of the Snivy, the friend of the Swoobat

    And the terror and bane of Team Plasma


    Jim caught all of this as he was coming back, and it made him blush.

    "Aw, stop, Oshawott, that's embarrassing," he said.

    "I meant every word of it, Jim," he said.

    Jim smiled and petted his head.

    "So, where to?" Leanne asked.

    "The big one: Nimbasa City!"

    Leanne's eyes lit up with excitement.

    "Yes! I've always wanted to see Nimbasa! The amusement park! The Musical Hall! The sports stadiums! It's gonna be awesome!"

    "There's a catch, though. Professor Juniper says we have to cross Route 4: the desert route."

    "Oh, right."

    Leanne's enthusiasm seemed subdued, but only momentarily.

    "We've got nothing to worry about! You have Torrent, and I've got Oshawott!"

    "To be sure," quipped Oshawott, "the harsh desert heat shall do nothing to deter my prowess at quenching the dry throats of my dear friends."

    "It's decided, then!" Jim said. "We'll set out tomorrow! So, in the meantime, we should get a better look around Castelia."

    This idea was greeted with much enthusiasm, and so, with everyone ready, they left the Pokemon Center.

    ***


    So, indeed, they spent the rest of the day walking around Castelia City, taking in the sights of the breathtaking skyscrapers, the businesspersons coming and going, and the street performers. These seemed to be quite prominent in Castelia: clowns, mimes, one-man-bands, break dancers, all performing more for entertainment of the public rather than monetary gain. Passing by town square, they could still see the Cirque de Pokeé tent, and they could hear the ringmaster speaking excitedly into a telephone. Jim could catch snatches of what he was saying, and was filled with relief. It seemed he had finished a successful transfer transaction for some new performing Pokemon: a pair of Electric mice Pokemon that seemed to exist to complement and aid each other, and a Psychic type that could dance like a ballerina, all three from the far-off region of Hoenn. He still wished he hadn't had to deprive the circus of its acts, but he was confident that they would be all right…

    ***


    The next day, Jim and Leanne prepared to take on the full intenseness of the desert. Jim had taken off his jacket, and had reverted to a light T-Shirt and a pair of cargo shorts. Leanne was dressed similarly, attired in a tank top and shorts. Slung at their waists were water bottles, filled with the icy cold water provided by Oshawott and Torrent's Water Gun attacks. Both had also donned sunglasses and had covered their skin, wherever it was bare, with a generous application of sunscreen.

    So, set for the desert, they exited the Pokemon Center, walked to the northern end of Castelia City, and upon leaving the gate at that end, they found themselves in a sprawling grassland that ended in a rise. Down below, like a tan blanket, they could see the vast stretch of sand that was Route 4. Small flecks of green and blue dotted it here and there, especially along a long, curved river that snaked its way along the otherwise unending strip of sand, just like the asphalt road that cut its way through it. Far in the distance, to the east, was what looked like a massive crater, and there seemed to be something within it, like a building whose foundations had sunken. There was, as of yet, no sign of the other side.

    "It may take a few days to cross," Jim said, grimly, "but we should be fine as long as we keep to the north. For now, let's stick to the asphalt as far as it goes. "

    "Right," Leanne agreed. "Well…here we go."

    With that, the two stepped down the grassy rise, and as they did so, the grass already began to brown, shrivel, and vanish as they got closer to the sand. Also, it began to grow warmer, until the sweat was already starting on their arms and legs, despite still wearing their long-billed caps. By the time they reached the bottom, they had set foot in sand, and were now looking out over the wide desert, which seemed much bigger now that they were no longer at a bird's eye view. The asphalt road was a few feet to their right. With a resolute sigh, Jim stepped that way, Leanne following.

    ***


    Instantly, they found themselves subjected to a, while not scorching, steadily warm heat as they walked along. Even through his shoes, Jim could feel the warmth of the asphalt, and prayed that he wouldn't trip, lest he burn his front on its surface. As they trekked along, they sometimes passed a few other wanderers: construction workers putting the finishing touches on the road (as it had been newly put there), men and women moving slowly and steadily with their backs encumbered with hulking backpacks, and once, a big bearded man dressed like a mountain climber. Jim wondered if they would have been willing to battle, but it seemed the desert heat and the need to get out of it drove all else out of their minds, something Jim was grateful for, as he didn't know if he would have the strength or concentration to battle in such heat.

    It was especially bad around noontime. The sun was directly overhead, and beat down without mercy. They were at their water bottles frequently, and if it weren't for these, they'd have given up hope long ago. They frequently ran out, and thus had to send out Oshawott and Torrent to replenish their supplies. They were the only Pokemon they would allow outside in this heat, with the exception of June. Jim had fervently insisted that she stay inside her Poke Ball as they went, but to be cooped up in it for three whole days didn't suit her, and so she made herself comfortable on Jim's head, underneath his hat, like a lizard under a rock. Smiling a little at her stubbornness, Jim allowed her to stay there.

    The nights passed without remark, but it was when they saw Pokemon more often. Jim could see the goggle-like eyes and crocodilian snout of a Sandile glide along through the sand like a fish in water, a Scraggy slumbering on or head butting stones, and a new Pokemon that behaved very oddly. They were small and dumpy, ovular in shape, with red fur, saucer eyes, a perpetually toothy grin, and curly yellow eyebrows. Two or three of them would either bounce around energetically in a group, or they would fall still and asleep, tucking their tiny limbs into their bodies. Jim took out his Pokedex to check.

    "Darumaka, the Zen Charm Pokemon. When its internal fire is burning, Darumaka cannot settle down and run everywhere. When this fire dies down, it goes to sleep and becomes immovable."

    (Only Pokemon like these could stand to be happy in this desert…)

    Still, he couldn't complain when it was night. It had cooled considerably, and they were able to get a good night's sleep beside the road barrier. Luckily, the road was still being built, so there was no danger of cars.

    ***


    Unfortunately, by noon the next day, they were hit by a sudden jolt of disappointment: the road ended. Barricades had been put up, and two construction workers were leaning against them, mopping their brows.

    "Afternoon, kids," said one, genialy.

    "How far is it to Nimbasa City?" Leanne asked, hopefully.

    The other worker whistled.

    "About a day and a half, if you keep at it."

    Both Jim and Leanne looked crushed.

    "Sorry, kids. We're trying to get this road finished as soon as we can."

    "We understand," said Jim. "We'll have to risk it."

    "Just be careful," said one of the workers. "There've been reports of someone or something waylaying travelers and robbing them."

    "R-Robbing them?" asked Jim, startled in spite of himself.

    "Just keep an eye out," the worker said. "It might just be a wild Pokemon looking for food."

    "We can only hope so…" said Leanne, unnerved.

    With that, they took their leave of the two workers, stepping off the unfinished asphalt and into the sand. The heat emanating through Jim's shoes redoubled, so much so that it was all he could do to keep moving.

    "Should we head for the river?" he asked.

    "Yes, please!" said Leanne, emphatically.

    So they turned to the northwest, to stay along the bank of the river, where the sand was cooler. From time to time, Jim and Leanne would send Torrent and Oshawott into the water and let them swim, something they seemed to really appreciate. During one swim, both came to the Trainers, looking excited.

    "Jim! Leanne! We've found shelter!' said Oshawott.

    "Shelter?" asked Jim, elated.

    "There's an oasis just down that bend," said Torrent, pointing down the river, "with a big bunch of palm trees shading some grass."

    "Great! You hear that, Leanne? An oasis!"

    "Awesome! Way to go, boys!"

    So, with renewed vigor, they made their way down the river, until at last, they reached the aforementioned oasis: a clump of palm trees shading a wide, grassy patch alongside the riverbank. Very gladly, they sat themselves down beneath the trees and took a well-deserved nap in the cool shade, enjoying the feel of the grass beneath them. A short stop like this shouldn't prove too costly on time, as Jim reasoned, and besides, they'd earned a break after so much trekking…

    ***


    When Jim reawakened, it was with a sudden jolt. There was a violent scuffle going on close by. Leanne had let out a scream. Focusing his sleepy eyes, Jim could now see what was going on. June, her eyes blazing with resilience and anger, had her vines wrapped around the snout of a Pokemon resembling a crocodile. It looked a lot like Sandile, as it had the same coloring, stripes, and pattern around its eyes, but was much larger and taller, and stood on two legs instead of four. It was fighting violently to break away, keeping a rucksack it had slung over its shoulder closed with one clawed hand. Perplexed, Jim took out his Pokedex.

    "Krokorok, the Desert Croc Pokemon, and the evolved form of Sandile. The special membrane covering its eyes allows it to detect heat, and thereby see in the dark. They live in deserts, in groups of only a few individuals."

    Jim looked from it to the rucksack it was carrying, and realization dawned on him.

    "You!" he said, directly to the Krokorok, who turned his eyes to Jim, "You're the desert bandit, aren't you?"

    With a violent lunge, the Krokorok had ripped its snout out of June's grip, only to have her vines bind his arms to his sides.

    "Yeah, so what?!" he snapped, in a voice reminiscent of a streetwise thug. "A Pokemon's gotta make a living, and this is how I make mine! Get yer Snivy off me!"

    "Did you steal anything?" Jim asked, in a hard tone.

    "I was gonna," he growled, "but that Snivy of yours meddled. Now let go of me!"

    "I can't," said Jim, "not if you're just going to go back to being a thief."

    "Then let's rumble, smart guy!"

    Krokorok, with a huge effort, released himself from June's grip, and just when she was going to grab him again, his jaws snapped down on her vines. She let out a cry of pain and retracted her vines. Krokorok laughed in harsh amusement. Jim growled.

    "So you want to do this the hard way? We'll do it the hard way…"

    Krokorok grinned nastily, obviously enjoying the prospect of a fight. Leanne stepped back, looking tensely at the approaching confrontation. Jim turned to his partner.

    "June, can you still fight?"

    "I'll be all right," she answered, glaring daggers at Krokorok. "Leave him to me."

    "Then give him a taste of your Energy Ball!"

    June cupped her paws to her side, forming a glowing green-blue ball of light, and then tossed it straight for Krokorok. However, with the agility of a fish, he back-flipped, dodging the Energy Ball and diving headfirst into the sand as if it were water, vanishing into it. Jim and June cautiously looked this way and that. Since they were standing on grass, Jim doubted that Krokorok would be able to spring on them easily through it. Little did they notice the shape circling around them, sinisterly, like a shark.

    Suddenly, with a growl, Krokorok lunged at them from behind, fangs glowing white. June, however, hadn't been caught off guard so easily. Spying Krokorok with the tail of her eye, the leaf on her tail suddenly blazed with green-yellow light, and she somersaulted, dodging his snapping jaws and smacking him on the head with her Leaf Blade, right between the eyes.

    "Atta girl, June!" Jim crowed.

    But Krokorok hadn't given up yet. He smacked June away from him, then, with a growl of concentrated effort, raised his arm up, fist closed. There was a shudder in the ground, and from out of nowhere, a ring of jagged stones surrounded his body, orbiting like the rings of a planet.

    "Jim, look out!" Leanne shrieked. "He knows Stone Edge!"

    Krokorok threw his arm forward, and the stones rained against June, buffeting and scratching her.

    "JUNE!" Jim cried.

    This Krokorok really meant business…and he wasn't done yet. With a malicious sneer, he began to summon up another Stone Edge, ready to strike again.

    "June, when he fires, counter with Leaf Tornado. Don't hold anything back!"

    June nodded, her body covered with little scratches, though none of them looked serious.

    "Say good night, ya goody-goods!" Krokorok shouted, throwing the stones forward with a lunge of the arm.

    June, however, acted instantaneously. She jumped up and began spinning like a top, and as she did so, a swirling tornado of leaves surrounded her. Krokorok's jaw dropped in surprise. With a swish of her tail, June threw the Leaf Tornado, and the Stone Edge was sucked into it as it barreled for Krokorok. He tried to get away, but was swept into it himself, battered by both the leaves and stones. When it dissipated, he was sprawled on the grass, out cold. Leanne cheered.

    "Way to go!" she cried.

    But Jim didn't look thrilled by his victory. Instead, he had a resolute expression on his face, as if he had come to a tough decision. Without a word, he reached into his pocket and pulled out an empty Poke Ball. June's eyes widened.

    "Jim! What are you doing?!"

    He didn't answer. He threw the Ball, it struck Krokorok, opened, and drew him inside with a flash of red light. The Ball settled onto the grass, twitching and blinking. Nobody took their eyes from it. Jim's expression was unreadable, but both June and Leanne seemed to be hoping that the effort would fail. Then, with a click, the Ball stopped and stood still.

    With no change in his demeanor, Jim walked over, picked up the Ball, and opened it. There was Krokorok, still looking weary, but with a look of hatred on his face.

    "How dare you…" he snarled.

    "It was our only option," said Jim, stonily. "You're a danger to us as long as we're in the desert, and we want to get out of here as soon as possible as well. But I'm willing to cut you a deal."

    Everyone else, even Krokorok, seemed caught off guard.

    "Jim! Why are you siding with him?!" Leanne asked, aghast.

    Krokorok, however, was much more shrewd about this idea.

    "What kind of deal…?" he asked.

    "You know how to get around Route 4?"

    "Know it like the back of my claw," he answered, smugly.

    "Then lead us to the end of the route, where we'll get to Nimbasa City."

    Krokorok's eyes widened in shock.

    "Nimbasa?! You can't be serious! There's cops there! 'Sides, I'm a wanted Pokemon here! I've got a bounty on my head as big as your girlfriend's gut!"

    Leanne colored, being addressed this way.

    "Insulting my friends isn't going to help your case," Jim said, coldly.

    Krokorok's eyes narrowed. He had the look of a hunted animal that knew it had no chance of escape.

    "If I do lead you to Nimbasa, what's in it for me?"

    "If you do as I've asked, and no trickery's involved…then I'll set you free."

    June and Leanne looked at each other, with a mixture of wonder and relief. Krokorok himself seemed to relax.

    "Do we have a deal?"

    Jim held out his hand. Krokorok looked at warily, his eyes flitting from it to Jim's face. Then, finally, he held out his claw, gripping Jim's hand, perhaps rougher than necessary.

    "Deal," he said.

    "Good. Now, remember, I don't just have June. Both Leanne and I have Water-types. At the slightest hint of desertion or treachery, there won't be any mercy for you."

    "I gave my word, didn't I?" Krokorok asked, pensively. "I may be a thief, but I've got my honor. Now I need a chance to rest before we head out. I won't name names, but somebody gave me a real thrashing."

    With that, he sprawled himself out on the grass, arms behind his head, and dozed off in the shade of a tree, with the two humans and the Snivy watching closely.

    My White 2 Team

  14. #29
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 27
    A Desert Trek: Sand and Sage


    After getting the snatch of rest he needed, Krokorok tersely told the two humans to follow him.

    "It'll take us until the next day to get to Nimbasa," he said, "so you've gotta keep up with me. If you dawdle, chances are the desert Pokemon will pick you out for their next meal…"

    "We're not defenseless," Leanne protested, trying to hide the fact that this statement disconcerted her, once Jim had translated it for her.

    "Won't make much of a difference," said Krokorok, with a shrug.

    Leanne gulped, but Jim gave her a reassuring look, and they set off, June back in place under Jim's hat.

    Since they weren't being spied on, and since there wasn't really any cover, there was no need for them to skulk and sneak across the sand. Instead, they went at a deliberate pace, Krokorok in the lead, followed by Jim, then Leanne, who brought up the rear. At first, nobody said a word as they went. From time to time, however, Jim could feel June lift the bill of his cap to peer out at the Desert Croc with a very untrusting look. On the contrary, Krokorok didn't look back at them. He kept his gaze forward and didn't say anything to them. The only other thing he did, during most of their walk, was flinch when he heard the sound of Jim opening his Poke Ball to let Torrent out, but this was just to refill his water bottle, so Krokorok kept on, with a look on his face as if he were angry at himself for being easily startled.

    As time went on, Jim quickened his pace to walk beside Krokorok. They'd throw each other quick glances from time to time, and once, their eyes actually met, though they quickly averted again. At last, Jim spoke up.

    "How did it start?" he asked.

    Krokorok acted at first like he hadn't heard, but then he seemed to resign himself to talking to Jim and replied,

    "How did what start?"

    "Your career as a thief."

    Krokorok shot him another sharp glance.

    "What's it to you?"

    "I just thought it'd help me understand you better, Krokorok."

    "Croco."

    "Huh?"

    "Call me Croco. It's easier."

    "Oh. All right, then. So, Croco, how did it start?"

    "Usual," he grunted.

    "Usual? Bad home? Bad parents?"

    "All of the above, junior," said Croco. "Y'know how it goes: rough living in the desert, gotta scrape a living when ya can."

    "So, all you've done is rob? You've never-"

    "No!" Croco said, sharply. "I told you, I've got my honor, even if I've gotta steal. I ain't so low as that."

    "Well, that's some comfort."

    "Hmph. You would think that."

    "It's just…it's not natural for Krokorok to know Stone Edge-"

    "It's for protection. I ain't the only bandit in this desert. I'd be lucky if I were. You gotta have a lot of resources to survive even a day out here."

    Jim looked at him, even if Croco didn't look at him. There was something akin to pity and sympathy on his face, but what he was thinking, he didn't say aloud. In any case, the sun was beginning to sink below the dunes, so the heat was relaxing at last.

    "How much further for today?"

    "Until the sunlight's completely gone," he answered. "I can see in the dark, and I don't doubt you've got Pokemon to do the same, but we shouldn't chance it. The night's when the more desperate Pokemon are active."

    Jim looked at Leanne, who didn't know what Croco was saying, but knew it wasn't anything comforting.

    "So, you and her, huh?" Croco went on.

    Jim colored as red as Torch's fur.

    "And just what's that supposed to mean?!" he asked, irritated.

    Croco smirked.

    "Come on, kid, don't try to hide it from me. I've seen the way you're looking out for her. She's something special to ya."

    "She's my friend," Jim muttered, "And that's all you need to know."

    Croco chuckled.

    "Don't worry about it, Stretch, you don't gotta say anymore about it."

    Jim felt indignant at being ridiculed, and didn't especially like being called 'Stretch', but Croco didn't pursue the matter any further, so he couldn't exactly fire back. Then, after another length of silence, Croco spoke up again, but in a rather changed tone.

    "Why'd you catch me?"

    "Huh?"

    "Why'd you capture me? You could have just left me out there, all vulnerable-like."

    "Because I didn't think you were all that bad."

    This time, Croco really did look at him, in surprise.

    "No Pokemon's that evil, and for a while, I hoped that no human was. My father always told me everyone's got some good in them. and also that Pokemon are only bad because their Trainers are."

    Croco just stared at him, jaw slightly open, but he seemed to catch himself.

    "Yeah, well." he stumbled, "I didn't need the help…but thanks, anyway."

    Then, as if reminded of something, he leaned in dangerously to Jim's face, glaring into his eyes.

    "But don't start getting any ideas. This is just until we get to Nimbasa…"

    "Don't worry, I remember," said Jim, calmly.

    Croco snorted and turned away, refocusing his attention on their path. All the same, Jim felt satisfied by this display of gratitude, even if it was grudgingly given.

    ***


    The sun was merely a sliver on the horizon, and Croco was looking about for a place for them to rest. Leanne was lagging behind, and Jim had stepped back to support her, his arm around her shoulders.

    Suddenly, Croco stiffened, and raised a hand up to stop them.

    "What is it?" Jim asked.

    "There's someone there," he whispered. "Over by the Relic Castle."

    His eyes seemed to be focusing sharply on something off in the distance.

    "Relic Castle?"

    "It's an old ruined city in a crater."

    "Must be the one we saw way off when we overlooked the Route."

    "Right. It's a prime place for robbers to hide out, but these guys don't look like crooks."

    "What do you mean 'these guys'? There's more than one?"

    "There's two of them. A couple of geezers in robes."

    "Geezers in robes?"

    A description like that did seem rather outlandish, but upon further consideration, Jim was filled with a sense of horrified realization. This wasn't the first time he had encountered a ‘geezer in a robe’. He had encountered Sage Gorm in Nacrene City. Could these two that Croco was seeing also be a pair of Team Plasma sages? If so, what could they be up to?…

    "What's wrong, kid?"

    "Let's take a look."

    "What? You crazy??"

    "I think I may know who these people are, Croco. They're not bandits, but they are guilty of thievery and kidnapping. I want to see what they're up to…"

    Leanne seemed to comprehend what was going on.

    "Jim! You don't think-"

    "I can't tell for sure, yet, but we've gotta check it out. Lead the way, Croco."

    Croco hesitated at first, then nodded and led them silently along the sand to an enormous boulder sitting in the sand. They came up behind it, then peered around its edge.

    Sure enough, two men, both dressed in long robes, were standing at the edge of an enormous pit, so large that neither of them could see the other edge from where they stood. Both were carrying lanterns, and while one seemed to be looking into the pit, the other was examining one of several objects that seemed to be statues, standing at the edge of the pit. They appeared to be simians made of blue stone, with curled eyebrows, wide blank eyes, and a grim expression on their faces. Jim figured they were a sort of tribal statue, but carved and crafted with unbelievable skill. They looked…lifelike.

    "Bronius, will you stop dawdling?" said the one at the pit, in a sharp whisper. "You must come and see this!"

    "I'm not dawdling, Rood," said the other, pettishly, "I'm examining these statues. They're incredibly intricate. They look as if they could come to life."

    "And they can," said Rood. "Those are no mere statues, Bronius, but Darmanitan."

    "Darmanitan? Don't be absurd. They look nothing like them!"

    "That is because these are rare Darmanitan," said Rood. "These are Zen Darmanitan."

    "Zen Darmanitan?"

    "When they grow weary, they revert to this statue-like state, and use their minds rather than their brute strength to protect themselves, until they are revitalized. They are what prevents intruders from accessing the Ruins beyond the pit border."

    "So, if one were to feed it, or give it a Potion-"

    "Then it would regain its strength and be a regular Darmanitan again!" snapped Rood. "Honestly, Bronius, I wonder about you sometimes…"

    "Don't treat me like a child. I've simply never seen anything so peculiar."

    "Well, if peculiarity is what you wish to see, then stop wasting time with those statues and come over here."

    Bronius stepped away from the statues and joined Rood.

    "Ah…so this is where-"

    "Yes, indeed, and it's where we shall recover our destiny, the destiny of our king…"

    "Then, do we wish to-?"

    "No. It's old enough as it is. The force of moving it would destroy what remains. When the time comes, we will make our declaration from the safety of our lord's castle…"

    "And just what declaration is that, Team Plasma?" came Jim's contemptuous voice.

    The two men whirled around, greatly surprised. Jim had stepped out from his hiding place, followed tentatively by Leanne, and then by Croco. In the glare of the lanterns, they could see that both men were as old as Gorm, with large white moustaches and lined faces.

    "Does destiny mock us?!" shouted Rood. "The Stevens boy himself!"

    "Always in our path to progress!" muttered Bronius.

    "What does Team Plasma want with the Relic Castle? I don't doubt you have your own fortress."

    "Our business is our own, boy," said Bronius. "But if you have been listening to what we've been saying, we simply cannot allow you to walk away with such knowledge."

    "Come on, then!" said Jim, and he lifted his cap, allowing June to jump down in front of him and stand, battle-ready. "We're ready for you!"

    Leanne let Oshawott out of his Poke Ball, and he stood beside June, scalchop in his paw. Rood, however, had a nasty smile on his mustached face.

    "Tell me, Stevens, you've heard all we were talking about?"

    "You know we have."

    "Then you will have heard my little lecture to Bronius about these interesting 'statutes'."

    He placed a hand on the head of the nearest stone. Jim felt an uneasy feeling in his stomach.

    "Yes?" he said, slowly.

    "Zen Darmanitan, one of the more interesting Pokemon of Unova. Once its health is low, it reverts to this immobile state to conserve what energy is has left, thereby allowing it to use latent psychic powers. However, once its lost health is regained, it regains its mobility and strength…and its ferocity…"

    He reached into the folds of his robes, and pulled out what looked like a spray bottle.

    "Hyper Potion: stronger than your average topical rejuvenation."

    He knelt down by the statuesque Darmanitan, the spray end of the Hyper Potion aimed at it. Suddenly, Jim understood.

    "You wouldn't!" he shouted.

    "Oh, wouldn't I?"

    He sprayed the Darmanitan several times on its side, and the water-like liquid seemed to glisten as it dried into its body. And then, all of a sudden, the statue's eyes began to glow an ominous blue, and its eyebrows began to glimmer with a flaming light. Its body shivered, then wobbled, and then, its entire body was engulfed in a blaze of flames, forcing the two Sages to step back. Jim and Leanne shielded their eyes from the pyrotechnic display, and when it finally died down, they lowered their arms and could only stare aghast at what stood before them.

    The Darmanitan was now mobile, standing on tiny legs and supporting its upper body with its enormous arms, knuckles in the sand, snorting steam from its nostrils. Its fur was now a deep red with an orange mask-like coloring over its eyes, its eyebrows ablaze like real flames, its round eyes now focused, and its mouth set into a toothy grin. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    "Darmanitan, the Blazing Pokemon, and the evolved form of Darumaka. The fire within it burns at a temperature of up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, giving it the power to demolish a dump truck in one punch. When it grows weak, it turns into a stone statue, sharpening its mind to fight on mentally."

    "Darmanitan," said Rood, "these are your foes! Desecrators of the Relic Castle! Eliminate them!"

    Darmanitan let out a battle roar, beating its chest with its hefty fists, flames erupting from between its pointed teeth.

    "June, this isn't your fight," said Jim, cautiously. "Stay back."

    June nodded and reclaimed her position under Jim's hat. He drew a Poke Ball from his belt.

    "Torrent, go!"

    He threw it up, and out came the Simipour, who stood side-by-side with Oshawott, staring down Darmanitan. Without waiting for a command, it lunged at them.

    "Torrent, use Water Gun!"

    "Oshawott, you too!"

    Both Water-types spat streams of ice-cold water at Darmanitan, which struck it full force, but didn't seem to slow it down. Everyone scattered as Darmanitan barreled past them, then skidded and turned. Oshawott and Torrent crouched, ready, and Darmanitan pawed the sand like a bull.

    Suddenly, without warning, Torrent rushed forward, charging at Darmanitan.

    "Torrent! What are you doing?!" Jim yelled.

    Torrent didn't seem to hear, however. His forearm had begun to glow with a white light. At the same time, Oshawott seemed to stiffen and tense, and all at once, a shield of water surrounded his body, and he went shooting straight for Darmanitan like a missile. Leanne's jaw fell open, and June gaped as well.

    "That's…Aqua Jet!" Leanne gasped.

    However, as Torrent struck forward with his glowing arm, he flinched, and the glow faded, allowing Darmanitan to punch him roughly in the stomach, making him crumple over. Similarly, as Oshawott came barreling toward the brutish Blazing Pokemon, it simply held out one fist at arm's length, and Oshawott collided with it, his head smacking against its knuckles. His eyes spiraled dizzily as he collapsed onto the sand in front of it. Torrent lay sprawled, feebly trying to get back up.

    "Torrent!!"

    "Oshawott!!"

    "Game over, children," said Rood, darkly. "Darmanitan, finish them off!"

    Darmanitan grinned malevolently, and its entire body seemed to glow with an intense fire.

    "Yes, perfect! Incinerate them!"

    Jim and Leanne fumbled for their Poke Balls, trying as quick as they could to try and recall their fallen Pokemon.

    However, just as Darmanitan was about to send the blaze from its body at them, a volley of stones struck it full-on in the face, knocking it over and extinguishing its flames. Everyone gaped and turned. There stood Croco, his arm jutted out, and a fierce look on his face.

    "Hey, ugly!" he snarled. "You want a fight? You got one! With me!"

    "Croco! What are you doing?!"

    "I said I'd get ya to Nimbasa, and I ain't going back on my word! Now stand aside, guys. He's mine!"

    With a roar, the Darmanitan got back to its feet, its mouth ablaze with a brewing flame, glaring daggers at Croco.

    "Come on, tough guy! I'm ready for ya!"

    Darmanitan launched the fire from its mouth in a massive Flamethrower. Croco, however, somersaulted backwards and dove into the sand, vanishing beneath it. Darmanitan stood stock still, its eyes roving, trying to catch where Croco would spring from. Suddenly, there was a whistle right at the right side of its feet. Looking down, it saw Croco's head sticking out of the sand. Upon being seen, he stuck out his tongue and blew a raspberry at it. Furious, Darmanitan tried to pound him into the sand with its fist, but Croco ducked away again before it could hit. Now Croco appeared on Darmanitan's other side, and as before, he vanished before Darmanitan could get in a hit on him.

    This went on for quite some time: Croco would peer out of one hole and mock Darmanitan, only to duck away and appear in the next one. Sometimes he faked him out by appearing in the same hole he had dove away from, knowing Darmanitan would think it had his pattern down. During the interruption, Jim and Leanne, who were quite amazed at Croco's cunning and gall, had the opportunity to rush to Torrent and Oshawott and drag them back to safety.

    By now, Darmanitan was annoyed out of its wits; its eyebrows were blazing even fiercer than before. When it raised its fist again, this time, Croco leaped out of the sand like a shark and latched his fangs into the Blazing Pokemon's arm. The huge Fire-type gave a howl of pain and swung its arm around, trying to get him off, and indeed, it did seem as if Croco lost his hold very briefly, but that was just so he could bite down even harder!

    "Darmanitan! You're letting that Krokorok make a fool of you!" roared Bronius. "Finish it off!"

    Darmanitan seemed to comprehend this, and cocked its fist back, which then began to glow with fire. With one powerful swing, it socked Krokorok a harsh, flaming blow to the snout, knocking him off its arm and sending him tumbling.

    "Croco!" Jim yelled. "You all right?!"

    With an effort, Croco slowly and shakily got back to his feet. He was smiling.

    "Better than ok, Jimmy," he said. "It's Payback time!"

    He wheeled around to face Darmanitan, crouched, and clenched his fists, his teeth set and eyes narrowed. A purplish glow seemed to surround him, especially in the form of a shimmering orb in his stomach area. Perplexed, Jim took out his Pokedex.

    "Payback: a Dark-type attack that deals double damage if used after the opponent has hit first."

    Suddenly, Croco lunged forward, still glowing purple, and leaving a trail of afterimages behind him. He struck Darmanitan repeatedly with his fists, with more force than he had shown before. At last, the energy dissipated, and Croco leaped back to face his foe. Darmanitan was very battered and worn out, both from battle and from the fatigue in trying to hit Croco in his Whack-a-Mole-style gambit. Its eyebrows were beginning to shrink, and a bluish glow was surrounding it. At last, there was a blinding blaze of light, and when it vanished, Darmanitan had reverted to its statue-like state, immobile and stoic.

    Bronius and Rood's jaws had dropped, unable to fathom their failure.

    "This…this cannot be!" Bronius finally said. "You told me Darmanitan were an unstoppable force!"

    "It is fate laughing in our faces! This Stevens boy is a curse upon our clan!"

    Croco had taken his place next to Jim, and seemed to be waiting for a command to attack the two Sages. Jim, however, shook his head.

    "Why not? They tried to kill you!"

    "That may be so, but I'm not going to bloody my hands just because they tried to do the same. Isn't that what you told me?"

    Croco looked at him, stunned by this comprehension of his morals. Jim directed his attention to the Sages.

    "Take a message to Ghetsis: I'll always be one step ahead of you, Team Plasma, and these underhanded tactics of yours are nothing but an annoyance to me. Tell him that; you owe it to me for this victory."

    Both Bronius and Rood glared at Jim.

    "We will indeed deliver your message, young Stevens, but note that we shall never surrender in our endeavors. Be aware of that."

    "I will."

    Rood clicked a Poke Ball from somewhere within his robes.

    "Sandstorm!" he commanded.

    What the Pokemon was that came out, none of them saw, but a swirling whirlwind of sand surrounded the two Sages. When it disappeared, both of them had vanished, leaving only the Zen Darmanitan.

    "You shouldn't have let them get away," Croco said.

    "What could I do? Tie them up and leave them in the desert?"

    "...Good point."

    At this moment, both of the Water types finally roused themselves.

    "Guys! You're ok!" Leanne said, scooping Oshawott into her arms.

    Jim helped Torrent to his feet.

    "Ugh…where's that Darmanitan?" asked Torrent, one paw clasped to his aching head.

    "Right over there," said Jim, matter-of-factly.

    Both whirled around, just to see the stone statue that was the Darmanitan that had knocked them out.

    "But…how…who…?" asked Oshawott, surprised.

    "You've got Croco to thank for that."

    Jim nudged the Krokorok forward, who looked a little uneasy from this attention.

    "After you both got knocked out, he rescued you."

    The two looked at the desert bandit with perplexed admiration.

    "My goodness," said Oshawott. "It seems we've grossly misjudged you."

    "Yeah, man, we owe our lives to you!"

    "Ah, stop…" muttered Croco. "I ain't good with these mushy moments. Besides, now we're even."

    "I still wish we'd lasted longer against that thing," said Torrent, gloomily. "Guess I still need to practice."

    "What was that move you were trying to pull off?"

    "Brick Break."

    "Really? You know Brick Break?"

    "Trying to. I've seen the circus's strongmen, Throh and Sawk, use it to smash cinderblocks in midair, not missing a single one."

    "Wow! That's unbelievable!"

    "I know I've already got the advantage on Rock types, but I've been trying to add a little variety."

    "And I think Brick Break would be an awesome move! We’ll help you learn it. Echo taught himself Shadow Ball, after all."

    "Sounds awesome, Jim-bro!"

    The two high-fived each other, and then Jim turned to Oshawott.

    "And how about you? That Aqua Jet was really something!"

    "Yeah! I had no idea you knew it yet, Oshawott!" said Leanne, proudly.

    "Well, to be truthful," said Oshawott, "it was my first time performing it. and it didn't end so well, as you saw…"

    "Don't worry about it," said June, consolingly, "it was a trial run. You're only going to get much better as time goes on." S

    he placed a comforting paw on Oshawott's, and he couldn't help but smile.

    "Get yourself a good rest now, Torrent. With luck, we'll be in Nimbasa City tomorrow," said Jim.

    Torrent nodded, and was recalled into his Poke Ball.

    "So, Croco?"

    "We'll camp here. It's not like we're in any danger now," he said.

    As they unpacked their sleeping bags and laid them across the sand, Jim glanced over at Croco. He was standing all by himself, staring up at the moon with folded arms. He seemed to be very deep in thought. Jim couldn't help but gaze at him. This roughened Krokorok, this born thief…had rescued them, without any command to do so. He had done it on his own accord…As if on command, the words of Burgh floated into Jim's mind.

    "To tame a Pokemon that's not only wild by condition, but wild by nature, that is the truest victory a Trainer can accomplish…"

    Now he could see what Burgh had meant. With that thought still lingering, he slipped into his sleeping bag and closed his eyes. He felt June climb on top to curl up and fall asleep on his stomach and heard Leanne give him a sleepy "good night", but he also heard and felt something else. Someone or something had settled down beside his sleeping bag, and was already snoozing peacefully. He opened his eyes again and looked to his side. There, curled up, like a sleeping dog, was Croco, sleeping as if he hadn't a care in the world. Jim smiled, turned back over, and drifted off to sleep.

    ***


    The going was much easier that next day, as they were so close to the end of the desert, and everyone was in much better spirits. Croco led them briskly across the sand, no one really having much chance to talk.

    At last, by noon, they found themselves at a stretch of sand that ended into a grassy plain, and beyond that was the outskirts of a massive, brightly-lit city. Even from back there, they could see a sports stadium, a theater, and most prominent of all, a Ferris Wheel. June came down from her perch on Jim's head to join Oshawott in looking at the sight together.

    "There it is," said Croco, pointing toward it proudly. "Nimbasa City, home of the Amusement Park, Musical Theater, and Subway Station."

    Jim and Leanne looked toward it with faces of wide-eyed excitement.

    "We've made it…we're finally almost to Nimbasa!" Leanne gasped out, her stomach puffing with her fatigued breathing.

    "And almost to my fourth Gym Battle," said Jim. "Croco, we can't thank you enough for guiding us."

    "Don't worry about it," he said. "Least I could do."

    "Well, then, I guess this is goodbye," Jim said, solemnly.

    "Eh? What do you mean?"

    "Don't you remember our deal? I'd set you free as soon as we reached Nimbasa. It's what you wanted, isn't it?"

    Jim held up Croco's Poke Ball.

    "Right, now I remember…" muttered Croco.

    Now that it had come down to it, he didn't seem all that enthusiastic about being set free. Leanne, June, and Oshawott looked at Jim, tensely wondering what would happen.

    Then, Croco said, somewhat hesitantly,

    "You know, I've been thinking…"

    "Yes?"

    "It ain't so great out here in the desert, I've never left it, because I was worried people would be out for me, but I’d be a free Pokemon if you took me away from dat-"

    "Are you saying you want to come with us?" asked Jim, eyebrow raised.

    “Well, let’s face it, kid: you’re gonna need my muscle out there. You barely stood up to that Darmanitan before I jumped in.”

    June and Oshawott rolled their eyes.

    “Besides, I think we make a pretty good team." He added, grinning.

    Jim couldn't help but grin in return. He new Croco was just making excuses to hide the fact that he'd grown fond of them, but if that was how he wanted to take it, Jim decided to go along with it.

    "Well, gang, if it's all right with you," said Jim, "Croco's gonna stick around for a little while longer."

    June was about to protest, but Oshawott put a paw to her arm to stop her.

    "He did save us, after all," he said.

    June looked from him, to Croco, to Jim. Then, with a sigh, she nodded.

    "Great! Well, Croco, welcome to the team!"

    Jim held up his hand, which Croco gave an enthusiastic high-five. Leanne couldn't help but smile at their behavior.

    "You've put in a lot of work these last couple of days, Croco. I'd say you've earned a rest."

    "Thanks, Jimmy," said Croco, with a friendlier smile than they had seen him use before.

    Jim recalled the Desert Croc into his Poke Ball, then turned to June, who had climbed onto his shoulder once again.

    "Are you sure about this?" she asked.

    "I'm sure that I've reached him," Jim said. "He's rough on the outside, but he's got a good heart in him. I'm hoping bringing him along will help flesh that out. Trust me on it."

    June still looked doubtful, but eventually said,

    "I know you're right."

    She then gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze. Jim smiled and stroked her head before turning to Leanne and Oshawott.

    "Come on, guys! Last one to Nimbasa buys lunch!"

    With that, Jim started into a run, Leanne right behind, both laughing as they raced along the now-grassy path to Nimbasa City.

    My White 2 Team

  15. #30
    Registered User TPrower's Avatar
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    Default Re: Jim: The Hero's Journey

    CHAPTER 28
    A Warm Reunion



    It seemed as if it had passed in the space of a second, but in what seemed like no time at all, there they were: standing at the entrance gate to Nimbasa City, one of the commercial giants of Unova, next to Castelia.

    As Castelia was the economic and business capital of the region, Nimbasa was its entertainment counterpart. It was home to a massive sports stadium, where both football and baseball games were played annually, and a smaller stadium for tennis and basketball. It also boasted a spectacularly-decorated Musical Hall, which was said to be one of the crowning attractions of all of Unova. Here, supposedly, Pokemon actors would dress up and perform on stage, sometimes with "vocal" assistance from their Trainers. Besides the Musical Hall, there was the enormous section of town devoted solely for the housing of its amusement park, easily a must for any traveler passing through. Its star feature was a gigantic Ferris wheel, from the top of which one could see the entirety of Nimbasa, a sight especially bedazzling at sunset or at night. Last, but not least, was the Subway Station, within which innumerable subway trains zoomed their way through the underground of Unova. There were also stories that, 24/7, the station hosted a sort of contest, the winning of which would earn the lucky Trainer the privilege of battling the heads of the Subway themselves, known more frequently as the Subway Bosses…

    "Man, so much to do! What should it be first?" Leanne gushed.

    "I don't know. I'm pretty staggered myself," said Jim.

    June and Oshawott perched themselves on their Trainers' heads to gaze at the enormous city in wonder.

    "Well, it won't matter. We have all the time in the world!"

    "You bet!" agreed Leanne.

    With that, they strode under the archway into the city itself. Every building seemed to be decorated with some sort of special lightning or neon, which, since it was early afternoon, didn't show up at that time, but would no doubt look spectacular at night. The streets were packed with people coming and going, though it wasn't quite as bad as it was in Castelia City. This was probably due to the Subway line, since it allowed for more convenient travel.

    Suddenly, Jim heard a sharp gasp, and a female voice screaming out,

    "JIM!! JIM!!!"

    Startled, Jim whirled around, and there, rushing towards him with unbelievable speed, was-

    “Bianca!!"

    Indeed, it was her, and he barely had time to register her sudden appearance before he was tackled and nearly knocked to the ground, and found himself being hugged tighter than he ever had before.

    "Jim! It's really you! You have no idea how much I've missed you!" she sobbed, her eyes flowing with tears of joy.

    In a twinkling, Jim had embraced her as well, hugging his dear, childhood friend like he'd never done in his life, so happy was he to see her.

    "Bianca! This is unbelievable! You here, in Nimbasa?" he said, nearly laughing. "I've missed you so much…"

    He took a moment to break away and hold her out at arm's length, to get a good look at her.

    "You look in perfect health!"

    He was quite impressed at how well she was keeping her appearance, given how messy she usually was. Travel was really suiting her well.

    "Thanks," she said, smiling. "And so do you!"

    Jim grinned in an embarrassed way. He was still wearing his sand-stained "desert duds", but he knew Bianca too well to know what she meant.

    "I still can't believe this! You're in Nimbasa, right when we arrived!"

    "Tell me about it!"

    At that moment, she suddenly caught sight of June and gasped.

    "June!"

    Without preamble, she scooped the Snivy off of Jim's shoulder and gave her an affectionate hug.

    "It's so good to see you again too!"

    The cool-headed Snivy didn't seem the least abashed at this display; on the contrary, she gave Bianca a friendly nuzzle to show she recognized Jim's good friend. She was duly returned to Jim, and that's when Bianca finally noticed Leanne and Oshawott. Jim seemed to snap to attention, and he slapped his forehead.

    "Duh! How could I forget? Bianca, this is Leanne. She's been my traveling companion since Accumula Town. Leanne, this is Bianca, one of my closest friends."

    "Hello!" said Leanne, brightly, holding out her hand.

    Bianca took it in both of hers and gave it a very vigorous shake.

    "Great to meet you!" she said. "I was worried about Jim traveling alone, but now I'm glad he's found you to be his traveling buddy!"

    Leanne blushed at this remark, though she smiled nonetheless.

    "And you have an Oshawott too! That's so great!"

    Oshawott gave a charismatic bow.

    "How's yours doing, by the way?" Jim asked.

    "Oh, he's not Oshawott anymore," said Bianca, in a surprisingly sly way, as she took out a Poke Ball. "Say hello to…Dewott!"

    She threw the Ball up, and from it appeared a Pokemon much different than the Oshawott Jim was used to. This one was still an otter, but its fur was completely blue, and its whiskered face bore a serious expression. It had a crest on the back of its head, and what looked like fur resembling a cloth garment around its waist and legs, adorned with a pair of scalchops at the hips. Both Leanne and June looked at it in amazement, but Oshawott was regarding it with what appeared to be disdain, his little arms folded. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    "Dewott, the Discipline Pokemon, and the evolved form of Oshawott. Strict training allows it to perfect its double-scalchop technique. Techniques vary between Dewott, and they never neglect maintaining their scalchops."

    "That's great that Oshawott evolved!" Jim said, admiring the stoic Dewott.

    On the inside, however, he felt a little awkward. Cheren's Tepig was now a Pignite, and now Bianca's Oshawott was a Dewott. He still had June as a Snivy. He wondered what Cheren would say if he had known this…then, suddenly, it struck him that he should inquire about his other friend (if he could even be considered that anymore).

    "By the way, Bianca, you haven't seen Cheren anywhere, have you?"

    For a fleeting instant, Bianca looked hesitant.

    "No," she said, "not since Nacrene City. He must have been in a pretty big hurry to keep going, because I lost sight of him."

    (Then maybe I won't have to meet up with him for a while…)

    "That's a shame,” he said, aloud. “I was hoping to be able to see him too."

    "Yeah, I know. It would have been a whole lot better! The three of us, together again!"

    "Yeah..." said Jim, trying to mask his awkwardness at this remark.

    It wouldn't do for Bianca to know just yet that he had heard their conversation at the edge of Nacrene City. Immediately, he took to a new course of conversation.

    "Do you know where the Pokemon Center is? We want to freshen up. We just came off of Route 4."

    "Ohh! So that's why you're all sandy! Yep, I know where it is! Follow me!"

    She started off at a brisk pace, Jim and Leanne right behind.

    "So, that's the Bianca you were talking about?" Leanne asked.

    "Yep. She's been like a little sister to me ever since we were kids."

    "I can see why. She's very sweet, if a little hyper."

    "I know, but that's just part of her."

    "What's the matter, Oshawott?" Leanne asked Oshawott.

    He was still looking somewhat sulky.

    "I'm not a fan of Dewott," he muttered.

    "Why not?" Jim asked.

    "They're just too strict for my tastes. I've never liked the idea of evolving in general. I know it's a natural part of Pokemon growth, but I prefer my strength and speed as an Oshawott. To evolve means to abandon what I've held onto for so long in favor of something radically new."

    "So you've never gotten the urge to evolve?"

    "Never."

    "Well, if Dewott are like that, I wonder how Bianca's dealing with it. She's always liked Pokemon she could hug and cuddle."

    "Oh, I'm sure there are exceptions to their behavior," consented Oshawott, "but for the most part, I just find them too serious for their own good."

    During this conversation, June seemed unusually meditative. This talk of evolution had set her to thinking about herself. Did she prefer to stay a Snivy? Or would Jim appreciate her better if she herself ascended to the next level?

    ***


    They reached the Pokemon Center in next to no time, and Bianca waited in the lobby while they changed and attended to their businesses, Dewott standing in front of her like a security guard. Within less than an hour, Jim and Leanne were changed, cleansed, and refreshed, and their Pokemon were all healed up. It was if they had never traversed a desert at all. Bianca stood up as they approached.

    "Now there's the Jim I remember!" she said, cheerily. "Hey, do you think I can meet your Pokemon?"

    "Of course!"

    Jim took out his five other Poke Balls and tossed them up. In bursts of light, there appeared Echo, Missy, Torch, Torrent, and Croco, all refreshed and in bright spirits. Bianca goggled at all of them.

    "Oh my gosh! A Swoobat! And not just a Simisear, but a Simipour too!"

    The three mentioned looked pleased at this approval.

    "Aww, an Emolga! She's so cute!"

    She lifted Missy into her arms, cuddling her to her cheek.

    "I wish I'd found one. And a Krokorok too? Wow, Jim, you've got a really neat team! So balanced!"

    "That's what I've been trying to keep, for the most part, anyway," said Jim, pleased that she admired his team.

    "How about you, Leanne?" Bianca asked, turning to her.

    She had set Missy down, and the roly-poly Emolga had resumed her place, beaming at the attention she had received.

    "Me? Well, I only have a few."

    Leanne took out her other three Poke Balls, and let out Tranquill, Zorua, and Lilligant.

    "Oh, wow! I know lots of Trainers have Tranquill, but a Lilligant! That's so rare!"

    Then her eyes fell on Zorua, and Jim could swear he had never seen her eyes widen to such a size as they did then.

    "Oh…my…GOSH!! A real, live Zorua! It's so cute!!"

    Smirking, Zorua somersaulted, glowing, and Bianca let out a gasp, for Zorua had transformed into her!

    "That…how did…that's the coolest thing I've ever seen!!" she gushed.

    She walked around Bianca-Zorua, examining her perfect replication. Then, with something of a troubled expression, she placed both hands on her hips.

    "Are my hips that big?" she wondered.

    Bianca-Zorua chuckled, glowed again, and reverted back to normal Zorua.

    "Wow! You guys have such awesome teams!"

    "How about your Pokemon?" Jim asked. "I'd love to see what ones you've found."

    "Sure thing!"

    She took three Poke Balls from her bag, and from them appeared a Herdier, a Munna, and a brand new Pokemon. It was a small, gray rodent, with large round ears and a fluffy tail.

    "Aww, how sweet!" said Leanne. "You found a Minccino!"

    Interested, Jim took his Pokedex out.

    "Minccino, the Chinchilla Pokemon. Minccino love shiny things and dust them with their tails until they're shiny. They prefer clean and tidy habitats, and thus are always sweeping and dusting."

    All of a sudden, Jim felt his Pokedex leave his hand. Minccino had leaped up and grabbed it in its mouth, taking it with it.

    "Hey! Give that back!"

    Minccino, however, had set the Pokedex down, and was brushing its tail vigorously.

    "Oh! I'm so sorry! Minccino, we talked about this!"

    Minccino didn't seem the least bit abashed at its abrupt behavior. It at last returned the Pokedex to Jim, who was startled to see how clean it was.

    "Wow…now that's thorough."

    Minccino gave a chipper squeak, proud of its accomplishment.

    "Sorry about that. He's so incorrigible," said Bianca, picking Minccino up. "How many times do I have to tell you not to do that?" she scolded, like a mother speaking to a naughty child.

    Minccino just blinked up at her adorably with its big eyes, until finally Bianca's frown melted.

    "Aw…why can't I stay mad at you?" she teased.

    Minccino leaned up and licked her cheek.

    "So what were you doing before we showed up?" Jim asked.

    "Oh! I was on my way to the Musical Theater!"

    "The Musical Theater? Well, I guess we've answered our indecision," said Jim, turning to Leanne, who looked thrilled at the idea.

    "Yeah! Let's go! I can't wait to see what they're showing today!"

    With that, they all recalled their Pokemon, save for June, Oshawott, and Dewott. Just before they were about to leave, however, there came a loud, collective rumble from the three of them.

    "Heh, oops," said Leanne, sheepishly. "Guess we forgot to have lunch."

    "Does anyone remember which of us reached the city first?" Jim asked.

    His joke was met with a playful punch in the arm from Leanne, and they all laughed.

    "Ok, let's grab lunch together," suggested Bianca, "and then it's off to the Musical Theater!"

    With unanimous agreement, the three headed for the escalator upstairs which led to the dining area.

    My White 2 Team

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