A New Life Through The Eyes Of Kanto: An Autobiography

Reach For The Starters

“I really wasn’t sure where to go or what to do,” June told me as we walked. “I was just so sad and depressed. Scared and embarrassed. I kind of hoped I’d just walk off the face of the planet and never be heard from again. I just wanted to disappear altogether. Before I knew it, I was back in Gringey City. I guess it was where I belonged. When I realized I’d somehow managed to travel all the way back there, I collapsed in the middle of the city and cried until the town’s people surrounded me in tears and happiness and took me home.”

“I’m glad you got back safely,” I said. “I worried about exactly where you’d go and what you’d do.”

“Yeah. I was happy to see everybody again.”

“I’m also glad you told them you were leaving this time.” I stared sideways at June. “I really don’t need to be getting arrested again.”

“Sorry about that, Gary,” June apologized.

“It’s fine.”

“Glad to have me back?”

I looked at her out the corner of my eye.

She was smiling widely, staring at me, waiting for an answer.

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever,” I mumbled.

June stopped walking and grabbed my shoulder gently.

I stopped and stared at her, feeling uncomfortable.

“Gary, if you don’t want me back, you can say so.” Sadness was in her eyes. “Please be honest with me. I don’t want to be here if it’s not what you definitely want.”

My eyes lowered to her hand. “Look, June.” My gaze returned to her face as I backed up a step, her hand falling off my shoulder.

Her mouth fell open a little.

“If I didn’t want you here, you wouldn’t be here right now,” I said firmly. “Now, let’s just get on to the next town, okay?” I walked ahead of her.

June hurried to catch up to me. “Gary?”

“What?”

“Where are we headed next?”

“Our goal is Dark City,” I answered without looking back. “But I’ve checked the Town Map and our next destination will have to be Lavender Town, first. Not too far from there is Dark City, though.”

“Oh…” June stared at the ground solemnly. “Lavender Town.”

I looked back. “June?” The sound of something being whipped by the sudden wind grabbed my attention and I turned for a moment to see a huge banner hanging from a large, wooden post, high in the air.

STARTER COMPETITION

Challengers and Spectators Welcome From Any Part Of The World

REGISTER NOW

“Starter Competition?” I read.

Beyond the banner was a huge city. People were running around in a hurry, laughing, chasing each other, some standing around their Pokemon, bragging openly.

“What is this?” I wondered out loud.

“I’m not sure, but I think this is New City.” June gazed around.

“New City?” I asked, unfamiliar with the name.

“Yeah. It’s a city that is always trying out new things to gain attention,” June explained. “They’re a small city right now, but they’ve been earning a bit of a reputation for trying out new kinds of things to keep tourists visiting and interest in the city. They hold Food Eating Contests between Pokemon and humans, which Pokemon can perform best in an office environment doing human type work, and even Pokemon Contests with unique rules from how they’re held elsewhere!”

“Weird,” I replied.

Pokemon Contests were competitions involving Pokemon and their Trainers where a Pokemon’s moves would be used to show off how beautiful and dazzling the Pokemon could look. It went beyond battling. It started out with the Pokemon using an array of moves on a field by itself, ordered by their Trainer, in unique ways to show off a Pokemon in the best way possible. Later, two Trainers would battle, but the winner wasn’t decided simply by who won the match, but by how the moves were shown off during the battle. It was a very different way of using Pokemon, and one I was not interested in, although some of the rounds I’d seen were undeniably spectacular at times.

“I wonder what they’re trying out this time. Let’s go see!” She grabbed my arm and I pulled back hard. “Hey!” June stopped, turning to me in shock.

“I can walk on my own, thank you.”

We walked together inside, gazing up at the buildings around us, the people running around in a hurry, and the Pokemon running by their Trainer.

“Wow, is that a…?” I pulled out my Pokedex on a Pokemon who was running by its Trainer’s side.

Cyndaquil. The Fire Mouse Pokemon. This timid Pokemon can defend itself using the flame on its back for protection, which ignites when it feels threatened. A Cyndaquil may not know its own strength and lack any confidence to win battles.

“It is! One of the Johto region’s Starter Pokemon! Whoa! Look, June, a Chikorita! And look there! I know that Pokemon!”

Chimchar. The Chimp Pokemon. Very playful, it often gets into trouble when it’s playing gets out of hand. The flame on the end of a Chimchar goes out when they are sleeping.

June turned to look behind her for a moment. She turned back to face me. “Gary…”

Amazed at seeing the next Pokemon that appeared, stomping past me, its Trainer walking behind it, I pointed my Pokedex at it.

Swampert. The Mudfish Pokemon. Marshtomp’s evolved form. This Pokemon has no trouble lifting as much as a ton of weight. Its strong vision allows for it to see easily through murky waters.

“Gary,” June said louder.

“Huh?” I turned to her.

“Gary, I think I get it, now!” June beamed excitedly. “Starter Competition! I’ll bet that this is a match for the Starter Pokemon of every region or something!”

Staring around, I saw that every Pokemon was indeed a Starter Pokemon. June might be right. “Well, let’s go find out because I have a Charmeleon! We can take this whole competition out!” I grinned eagerly.

“Well, hurry up. You only have thirty minutes,” someone said behind me.

I turned to a girl a few inches taller than me. She looked to be maybe a few years older than me, as well. She was a tall, fair figured woman with long, pink hair. She was very pretty, but looked very mean, too. “This is a competition for Starter Pokemon only, and you two better hurry over to the registration booth before twelve, or you’re out of luck,” she said, leering down at us.

“Where? Where? Where?” I asked in a panic.

The girl sneered. “Why waste your time? A Charmeleon, did you say? You won’t get past me. You’re better off just watching the battle and seeing a real Starter in action.”

“Tell me where the registration place is,” I demanded, glaring at her. “I’m gonna win this competition.”

“It’s over there.” She pointed behind me.

I turned, but couldn’t see what she was pointing at.

“Just go straight,” she told me. “You can’t possibly miss it.”

“Thanks,” I said quickly, not liking her attitude. “Come on, June.”

“She sure wasn’t nice,” June stated, walking beside me, trying to catch up to my quickening pace.

“She doesn’t have to be,” I replied. “I’m kicking her butt either way.”

June and I walked straight, looking around for the area where I could register at. It didn’t seem to be in view yet.

There were a lot of different Starter Pokemon, a lot of different Pokemon Trainers, but no visible area to register for the competition!

“Gary, where is it?” June asked, sounding worried.

“She said we couldn’t possibly miss it. We’ll find it, I’m sure.” I was getting nervous on the inside. Time was running out.

“Gary, let’s ask for help before it’s too late,” June suggested.

My anger was building with each passing second I couldn’t see a place to register, my impatience becoming unbearable. “Let’s keep going a bit further.”

June sighed but followed me.

It was several minutes before June started to complain. “Gary! We only have but so much time left! Stop goofing around and let’s ask for help!” June begged.

She was right, and I knew it. I turned to a Trainer holding his Charmander in his arms. “Excuse me!”

The kid turned to me. “Huh?”

“I want to register for the Starter Competition. Do you know where I can register at?”

The kid’s eyes opened wide with surprise. “The Starter Competition? Man, you better run down that way and register! You’ve only got about…” He looked at his watch on his arm. Not a watch. A Poketch! I wasn’t sure of the version. “You’ve only got ten more minutes!”

“What?” I shouted. “But somebody told me it was right around here!”

“Nah, dude. It’s down that way.” He pointed back where we came from! “That short building right there, the shortest one, is where you register! Hurry!”

“Thanks!” I took off back towards where we came from as fast as I could, dodging around people in my way, occasionally bumping into a few people, before I saw the little building. It looked like the shortest building around, so I ran into it, pulling open the glass door hurriedly, and ran through the lobby.

The walls were blue and glowed with cleanliness. People in business suits were walking around.

I ran right up to the counter, attempting to stop, but instead slipping on the smooth, black floor and sliding right into the counter. Grunting in pain from my stomach’s collision, my face was mere inches away from a man with dark brown eyes and long black hair.

Behind his glasses, his eyes stared at me in surprise. “May I help you, sir?” the man asked.

“Is this where I can register for the Starter Competition?” I said, out of breath, standing up straight and getting out of his face.

The man turned in his chair to the laptop behind him and started typing. “Just in time, sir. You have but one minute… nevermind… time is up completely. You’re the last person to register.”

My face collapsed on the desk and I breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness!” I let out gratefully.

“May I see your Pokedex?” the man asked, turning back to me.

“My Pokedex? Why?” I asked curiously.

“To register you, of course,” the man said impatiently. “If you don’t want to, you don’t have to.”

“No, no,” I said slowly, but uncertainly. I pulled out my Pokedex and handed it to him.

The man placed it in somewhere under the desk and began to type quickly.

My face popped up on the computer screen behind him, followed by the number ten above my head. The five Badges I’d earned were lined up next to my face on the screen.

The man reached under the desk and handed me my Pokedex. “All done, Gary. Your registration is complete. Take a rest at our Pokemon Center, located on the third floor of this building. The competition will be beginning in one hour!”

“Thank you!”

The man smiled back and gave me a nod before he looked down to the computer in front of him, his smile fading.

The door to the building opened and I heard heavy breathing. June, out of breath, hands on her knees, was looking around.

“June!” I ran to her.

She smiled and stood up. “There you are! Did you make it?”

“Just barely. Let’s get some rest upstairs at the Pokemon Center they have here. The competition begins in about an hour!”

“Wow, that’s short time. Your Pokemon need some healing after our battle. My little Eevee, too.”

I nodded and led the way towards an elevator that was already open, a couple of men in business suits standing inside.

We got in and I pressed the third floor button.

The numbers only went as high as the fourth floor. The inside of the elevator smelled of leather.

The number 2 above the door lit up as the elevator reached the accompanying floor, fading as the elevator hit the third floor, the number 3 now lit. The elevator stopped moving for a couple of seconds, and then the door opened.

June, me, and the two men in the elevator stepped out.

Starter Competition Competitors

Enter For The Pokemon Center

The plain white sign sat on the door to our right.

The two men headed to the left as June and I went through the door for my battles.

Inside, several Pokemon Trainers sat, some holding a Poke Ball in their hands, while others held their Starters in their arms or were brushing them in their laps.

I walked past them all to the front desk where a Nurse Joy and a Chansey stood, smiling. “Hello, Nurse Joy.” My heart began to pump courage into my body and I opened my mouth again in anticipation. “You look stunning, if I may say so.”

“Oh, gosh! Thank you so much!” Nurse Joy’s hands rose to the sides of her now red face, her blue eyes wide.

“AHEM!” June cleared her throat very loudly, causing me, Chansey, and Nurse Joy to turn to her.

June took my Poke Balls from my belt in a hurry.

“Hey!” I said in surprise.

June dropped two of her own Poke Balls on the table. “Please, heal these Pokemon.” June then turned and yanked me by the arm, away from my Nurse Joy.

“Hey, what’s your deal?”

June had an iron grip on me that I couldn’t escape. She sat down in a chair and sat me down next to her, finally freeing me. “So, you’re using Charmeleon?” she asked me calmly with a short smile.

“Duh!” I snapped, rubbing my throbbing arm. “What other Starters do I have? What’s your problem?”

“I don’t know what you’ve captured since I’ve been gone,” June shrugged.

“Charmeleon’s my only Starter.”

“Okay.” She looked away from me, towards where Nurse Joy and Chansey were.

The two females had placed our Poke Balls on a machine and the nurse was typing away at a computer next to the machine.

“Why’d you yank me?” I insisted.

“I just need to know that you’re focused on the right things.” June turned to me sharply, her eyes now digging into mine.

“What are you talking about?” I asked suspiciously.

“I just want you to make sure you take care of your Pokemon properly,” June said quickly. “Listen, I want you to win!” She smiled.

“I’ll win just fine as long as you don’t rip my arm off, June.”

She smiled wider. “Sorry.”

One Trainer in the room had a Charmeleon whose tail flame was clearly larger and more stronger looking that my Charmeleon’s. If the tail flame truly was a measure of the health of the Charmeleon like the Pokedex says, that Charmeleon may have mine beat!

A Trainer was petting his Pokemon while talking to another person, his hand running through the bushy leaves on its back.

Me and the unfamiliar Pokemon stared at each other silently for a while.

When I had decided to pull out my Pokedex to scan it, Nurse Joy walked up to the front of the room.

Her Chansey walked up to me with a tray of six Poke Balls. I took the Poke Balls from the tray and smiled. “Thank you!”

A second Chansey walked up to June and extended her arms, containing two Poke Balls.

“Aw, isn’t this sweet? Thank you!” June also took her Poke Balls.

The two Chansey bowed and joined Nurse Joy up front.

“Pokemon Trainers, welcome to the first annual Starter Competition!” Nurse Joy began, followed by a round of applause by everyone in the room, as well as me and June. “This competition will involve Trainers from around the world using only one of the Starter Pokemon found in the regions of the Pokemon world distributed to beginning Pokemon Trainers. The winner shall be forever renowned among the Hall Of Fame in New City for our various competitions. I wish you all the very best of luck.”

Everyone cheered as Nurse Joy bowed.

“Trainers, please come and follow me to the top floor so the competition may begin.”

Everyone huddled around Nurse Joy, some elbowing each other to get ahead of the rest.

Nurse Joy escorted us out of the room and onto the elevator.

We all just barely fit.

June was pressed up against me, her face literally an inch from mine.

I felt extremely uncomfortable like this.

June smiled at me and giggled. “Sorry,” she whispered.

I struggled not to breathe all over her face and avoided eye contact with her.

The elevator finally opened and we all poured out.

I was grateful to not be so close to June anymore.

We had emptied out into a huge, open room, bleachers lining the walls. A battlefield was outlined in front of the bleachers.

“Everyone, take your seats,” Nurse Joy said. “Your names will be called and the battle may begin from there.”

Everyone rushed to take their preferred seats, some heading straight for the top seats, others going for the bottom row, while the rest sat where they could.

“Come on, Gary!” June pulled me towards the middle row.

I grudgingly sat down next to her.

I took off my hat and unzipped my coat, beginning to feel overheated.

June took off her hood, unzipped her coat, and brushed her hair back with her hands repeatedly.

Outside of the battlefield sat two people behind a large, silver table. The two men from the elevator wearing business suits?! It was! They sat in metal chairs and were now wearing matching sunglasses, a microphone in front of each of them on stands. “Welcome to the first annual Starter Competition, Pokemon Trainers!” one of the men said cheerfully. “I’m Steve!”

Some people started to clap, thought most didn’t until a couple of seconds later. It ended up being pretty lackluster and uncoordinated.

“My name is Brent!” the man next to Steve said.

His applause started up a little bit stronger and better prepared, but everyone was looking around uncertainly, light laughter in the air, many of us looking around with a disinterest in applauding and looking uncool, including myself.

“Welcome all of you Pokemon Trainers!” Brent continued without missing a beat. “Steve and I shall serve as your judges for this competition, which may now, officially, BEGIN!”

At that, most everyone was clapping and cheering, finally fired up to actually start battling!

Even I got into the celebration a little.

“First up, from the Sinnoh region, we have Raphael and his Oshawott, a Unova Starter! He’ll be facing Kanto’s own Claudia and her Squirtle, a Starter from Kanto! These are both Water types, so this promises to be a most interesting of battles!”

The two Trainers stepped down from the bleachers and onto the battlefield.

The match was over in a matter of seconds as Squirtle tried attacking with Skull Bash.

Oshawott used Razor Shell to counter it and Squirtle was taken out with ease.

“That Squirtle was too young,” June muttered. “That Squirtle isn’t experienced enough. That Oshawott is clearly a pretty skilled combatant. Squirtle didn’t stand a chance.”

Nurse Joy and Chansey stepped out and seemed to be checking out Oshawott. They nodded to Raphael with a smile and walked off the field.

“Nurse Joy and Chansey have verified that Oshawott is okay to keep on battling. Since Raphael has won the match, he will stay on the field and battle the next challenger, Hoenn’s Eli, right away! He shall be using a Torchic, a Fire type Hoenn Starter!” Steve stated.

A young man recklessly leaped from the bleachers, over the startled heads of others, and walked ahead to start his match.

Torchic and Oshawott’s battle was much more interesting. Torchic’s Fire moves were no match for Oshawott, who eagerly batted away the flames with its scalchop.

Eli seemed to be expecting this and ordered Torchic to keep attacking with Ember and charge forward.

As Oshawott swatted away the flames, Torchic charged in, spewing fire from its beak and, as Oshawott swatted once more, Torchic got a split second chance and started pecking viciously at Oshawott’s face, surprising Oshawott and making it drop its scalchop. The scalchop now dropped, Torchic continued an onslaught of Fire moves and kicking and pecking.

Oshawott was so overtaken by the feisty little Torchic, it couldn’t even fight back with Water moves and Torchic won.

Nurse Joy and Chansey returned, using a Potion on Torchic. She pet Torchic on its head and walked away with Chansey.

“Now that was proof positive that type advantage is not a deciding factor of any match!” Brent said with excitement. “This proves the fight in the Pokemon is a valuable thing to take into account as well.”

“That’s right, Brent,” Steve agreed. “Next, we have Vanessa from the Hoenn region bringing her Swampert, a Hoenn Starter of both Water and Ground typing, to battle Torchic! Both of those types is bad news for Torchic, I must say!”

It was the same Trainer I’d seen earlier, walking by with her Swampert.

I chuckled a bit as she threw Swampert’s Poke Ball, calling it “Swampito.” Her strong accent only confirmed she was of some sort of Spanish descent.

After Vanessa let Torchic use a flurry of attacks on her Swampito, she, with a yawn, ordered Swampito to use Mud Bomb.

Torchic was taken out in one shot.

“That wasn’t very fair,” June murmured.

Nurse Joy and Chansey walked over to Swampito and sprayed its wounds. Nurse Joy patted the intimidating Pokemon on its stomach without any fear but instead with a smile before walking away.

“These matches sure are getting more and more intense,” Brent announced. “Who knows just who will win and who will last long enough.”

Swampito tore through its competitors for a while, gaining a powerful winning streak and doing it quickly.

“Swampert and Vanessa are winning through because of their bond.” June was staring at Swampito, seeming in a trance. “He’s powerful, but they are bonded. They’re connected. They really are showing what it means to be a team in battle. This is impressive. Just wonderful.”

“Up next, from the Kanto region, we have Courtney and her Grass type, Treecko, a Hoenn region Starter!” Steve introduced.

A young girl with long, pink hair stood up from the bleachers and stepped onto the field.

My eyes widened and I heard June gasp as we realized who this person was.

The same girl from earlier today who had led us in the wrong direction to register for the competition!

“Gary!” June gasped.

“I see her,” I frowned. Could she have possibly led us in the wrong direction on purpose? I wondered. Maybe it was just an accident somehow. But how could she have not known how close we were to the registration place? How could she have accidentally sent us in the completely wrong direction? But then again, why would she do it on purpose?

“Treecko, Energy Ball, now!” Determination was in Courtney’s eyes.

“Swampito, use Take Down!” Vanessa countered.

Swampito charged at Treecko, who waited calmly.

Just as Swampito was ready to take out Treecko, Treecko leaped over Swampito’s head and backflipped while forming a green ball of energy between its hands. Halfway through its flip, it tossed the ball at Swampito and hit it in the back.

Swampito cried out in pain and fell forward onto one knee.

“Quick Attack!” Courtney ordered.

Treecko landed and in a flash, ran to attack Swampito.

The next thing I knew, Treecko had disappeared and reappeared instantly in front of Swampito, a few feet away.

With a groan, Swampito collapsed.

The entire room was quiet for maybe a minute. Soon, the room went nuts with cheers.

“Oh, my.” June hands were covering her gaping mouth, her eyes wide with amazement.

Nurse Joy and Chansey spent just a couple of seconds checking out Treecko before determining it was just fine.

“Wow…” Steve mused in shock. “Well, type may have played a big role here, but that is definitely an extremely powerful Treecko.”

“You’ve got that right, Steve,” Brent commented. “Let’s see how it will fair up against Angelita’s Kanto Starter, Charizard, a vicious Flying and Fire type Pokemon. Angelita is from the Johto region.”

“This seems pretty one sided, Brent, but let’s see how this plays out,” Steve added.

Charizard chased Treecko with continuous Flamethrower attacks.

Treecko was good at dodging, but got hit with one of the flames eventually.

Charizard used Air Slash, but surprisingly, Treecko got up, shakily, and dodged.

Charizard came in close to finish with Wing Attack.

Treecko waited before spewing a purple Toxic attack into Charizard’s face!

Charizard slammed to the ground, shocked, stunned, trying to claw away the poison, but it was far too late.

Treecko then did Hidden Power, glowing a bright green color and forming a green-yellow orb between its hands, and then throwing it, tossing Charizard out of the battlefield.

It hit the ground, twitching painfully from the Toxic.

“That had to have been a Rock type Hidden Power!” June called loudly. “She’s prepared!”

It only took one more Hidden Power after that before Charizard was beaten.

As the crowd roared with excitement and amazement, Nurse Joy and Chansey tended to Treecko’s wounds.

“INCREDIBLE!” Brent bellowed through the microphone. “That was stupendous work!!”

“I’m in complete awe right now!” Steve shouted, a huge smile on his face. “THIS is something to go down in the books!”

I couldn’t believe it myself. That Treecko is gonna be some competition, I admitted. It even beat out a Charizard. And I’ve only got a Charmeleon. My fists balled tightly, shakily. I smiled to myself. And we’ll still win, I thought, bouncing up and down a little bit, amped up for my turn.

“Up next, we have Mary from Kanto, with her Water Starter from Sinnoh, a Prinplup!” Steve introduced.

Mary had bouncy, brown hair and wore a black dress. She was beautiful, resembling a doll in adorableness, and walked alongside her Prinplup before ordering it on the field.

Treecko dodged Prinplup’s Flying type moves, ending the match with Leech Seed and Energy Ball.

Prinplup’s last move was freezing Treecko with Ice Beam just before Energy Ball hit, Treecko now covered in ice except for its head.

“And Treecko wins again!” Steve declared.

“We’re just about at the end of this competition, folks, but not before we bring out the Kanto region’s own, Gary, with his Kanto Starter, Charmeleon, the plain Fire type!”

I gasped and stood up, edging my way out of the stands and running down to the battlefield.

Courtney stared at me in shock, then smirked.

“You knew what you were doing!” I accused, pointing at her.

“Congratulations on making it here at all.” Courtney gave me a teasing look.

I scowled at her.

“Where’s your girlfriend? Did you make it but she not?”

“She’s not competing. She doesn’t have a Starter.” I glared at Courtney for a moment, then shook my head in shock. “And she is not my girlfriend!”

“It seems these two Trainers have history together, but this a Pokemon battle, not a verbal one between humans, you two!” Brent laughed.

“Right,” I muttered. “Charmeleon, go!”

“MEEEEEEEEEL!” Charmeleon roared, released from his Poke Ball and ready to fight.

“Be careful, Charmeleon!” I warned him.

Charmeleon growled, his eyes on Treecko.

Treecko simply stared back blankly, its face impossible to read.

“Flamethrower, now!”

Charmeleon used Flamethrower, but Treecko jumped right over it.

“Leech Seed!”

A green seed rose from the top of Treecko’s head and headed towards Charmeleon.

“Flamethrower!”

“Screech!” Courtney commanded.

Treecko used Screech, which, while loud on its own, hit the microphones and was amplified.

Everyone screamed and covered their ears.

I felt like I’d gone deaf for a moment as I screamed from a splitting headache, my hands to my ears, down on my knees.

After a few minutes, I could hear screaming from others.

Treecko was standing calmly, staring at Charmeleon who was on the ground, struggling against the vines from Leech Seed that were wrapped around his body, draining his health.

“Charmeleon!” I lowered my hands and stood back up.

Most of the crowd was still complaining from the now faded Screech, probably from the headache it induced, or not realizing it was over because the sound was still ringing in their ears.

Others in the crowd were shaking their heads, digging their fingers in their ears, trying to clear them out.

“Well, that was uncalled for!” Steve was shaking his head.

Brent was holding his head in his hands.

“Charmeleon, use Ember to burn the vines off!” I called out.

Charmeleon rose to his feet slowly.

“Quick Attack,” Courtney ordered.

Treecko zoomed forward at top speed and slammed into Charmeleon as his jaws were opening.

“Chaaaaar!” Charmeleon was floored helplessly.

“Hidden Power! Now!”

Treecko used Hidden Power, overtaking Charmeleon with the powerful move.

Charmeleon bounced across the floor, landing facedown.

“Charmeleon, get up!” I urged him. No way we were gonna lose so easily. “Charmeleon, let’s do this!”

Charmeleon’s eyes opened and he rose to his feet. He faced Treecko and let out a loud roar. His tail ignited into a brighter flame. “MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL!” He blasted a long flame almost up to the ceiling. His body was outlined in a red glow.

The entire floor was quiet now, watching Charmeleon losing his cool, his Blaze Ability activated.

“CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!!!!!” Charmeleon faced Treecko and used Flamethrower while Treecko was gazing in shock at him. The attack was intense and Treecko was covered in the intense fire.

When the flames died, Treecko was on its back, eyes closed.

“And I think that’s it, folks!” Steve said, standing up, looking at Treecko. “Charmeleon’s Blaze Ability has been activated, which boosts Fire moves when it’s low in health!

Treecko stirred and lifted its head.

“Whoa! Maybe not quite!” Steve sat back down.

Indeed, Treecko stood tall and glared at Charmeleon.

“Finish that thing!” I pushed.

“CHAAAAAARMELEOOOOON!!” Charmeleon used Flamethrower again, covering Treecko completely.

“Yeah!” I cheered, and waited patiently for Charmeleon to finish attacking.

The flames died down after a moment.

Treecko stood there, surrounded by a light green barrier. The mysterious barrier faded. Treecko now had an aura of green around it.

“And just like that, Treecko uses Protect to block Flamethrower!” Steve explained.

“That’s not all, Steve,” Brent stated. “Treecko now has its Overgrow Ability activated, which happens when they’re at their last bit of strength, boosting Grass moves.”

“CHAAAAAAR!” Charmeleon charged at Treecko with rage.

“Treecko!” Treecko ran forward at Charmeleon with matching anger.

Both Pokemon were attacking, desperate to get the finishing blow in.

Neither Courtney nor I were even able to give commands. We just watched in awe and determination as our Pokemon battled to finish the other off, viciously throwing blows.

Charmeleon was at a disadvantage, still being sapped by Leech Seed.

“This looks like it’s going to be a free-for-all!” Brent noted. “These two Pokemon are going for broke, battling for what it’s worth, throwing their last energy into these attacks!”

Charmeleon tried using Fire Fang, but Treecko dodged and tried to use Pound attack, but Charmeleon ducked.

Treecko used Hidden Power.

Charmeleon used a strong Flamethrower.

The power of the two moves collided and exploded.

I covered my face against the smoke that billowed everywhere, coughing against it, filthy wind blowing strongly.

When the smoke faded, Treecko and Charmeleon were both on the ground on their backs, far apart from each other.

Everyone was watching them. Nobody said a word.

Treecko stirred.

I let out a groan.

Charmeleon stirred.

I heard Courtney growl.

Treecko and Charmeleon slowly lifted their heads and stared at each other.

Charmeleon cried out in pain as Leech Seed sapped him again.

Treecko lit up with a burst of fire that faded quickly!

“Treecko!” Courtney uttered, stunned.

Both Pokemon collapsed and didn’t move.

The vines around Charmeleon vanished completely.

There was only silence.

Finally, Steve cleared his throat. “Turns out Treecko was Burned during that Flamethrower Charmeleon did during Blaze.”

“Uh…” Brent added. “It seems so. Perhaps, during that second Flamethrower Treecko protected itself from, we didn’t get to see Treecko get damaged by the Burn. Not to mention that explosion blocked our view from seeing any further effects of Burn as well. And Charmeleon was wrapped in Leech Seed.”

“It appears this is a draw,” Steve concluded. “Congratulations! Gary and Courtney are our first ever winners for the Starter Competition!”

Everyone erupted in a roar of applause and shouts.

I stared at Courtney in disbelief.

Courtney stared back solemnly. She returned her Treecko.

I returned my Charmeleon and walked over to her. “Why’d you try to keep me out of this competition?” I asked, screaming over the crowd.

She smiled a nasty little grin. “The less competition I had, the easier I could win. You got lucky with that Burn. You, I, and everyone here knows full well I should be the sole winner. If you’re half as good as I think you are, though, maybe we’ll be meeting again. Anyway, I’m out of here. I’ve got another Badge to win. Good luck to you,” she looked me up and down quickly, “Sugar.” She winked and walked away.

I watched angrily as she left me behind. My Poke Ball in hand, I managed a smile and looked to the crowd. “Good job, Charmeleon. I’m proud of you, buddy.” The next thing I knew, somebody was hugging me! “June!” I said, frustrated.

“Gary, you did great!” June gushed. “Congratulations! What were you and her talking about? Did she explain why she sent us in the wrong direction? Was it an accident?”

I turned to where I had seen Courtney last, but she was out of sight. Looking back to June, I told her, “Far from it, June. But I do think I have a new rival. Whether I like it or not.”

After the competition had ended and I’d taken pictures and shaken hands with the two judges.

After my Pokemon had been taken care of and healed.

After a big celebratory dinner on the second floor of the building in commemoration of the competition.

After a nice sleep in one of the many rooms on the second floor of the building for all of us...

June and I were on our way to Lavender Town.

“June,” I said shortly after we’d begun walking.

“Yes?” she asked, turning to me and smiling.

I kept my eyes on the ground. “Why do you have so many Poke Balls?”

June stared at me, her smile faded.

“I remember back in Saffron, I saw you had a ton of Poke Balls, but I never got to ask you why, for obvious reasons... I’ve never seen any of your Pokemon except for Manectric, Ampharos, Pikachu, Eevee and Electivire.” I made sure not to mention Electrode.

“Don’t count out Electrode,” June said moodily.

Damn it.

“I’m sorry, June,” I apologized. “I wasn’t-”

“Don’t pretend like it didn’t happen, okay?”

“I’m really sorry, June,” I said in a low voice. It was impossible to look at her now.

“I still have ten Pokemon, Gary,” June said after a while. “I told you that in Saffron. And the reason is obvious, isn’t it?”

“Not really…” I said, finally managing to stare at her.

“Who gave you your Pokedex?” she asked.

“Prof. Oak,” I answered.

“And if you catch more than six Pokemon, where would it go?”

“To him.”

“Exactly, Gary. I don’t have a Pokedex. I never owned one. I don’t have a Professor to monitor my Pokemon or look after them for me or anything. I can carry as many as I’d like.”

“Oh, wow,” I could only say, my heart beating faster for some reason. “Lucky.”

“I dunno about that. I have to care for ten Pokemon, Gary. Feed them, make sure they’re healthy. All on my own. It may be that you’re the lucky one.”

“I’ve never seen the others. Only the ones I’ve battled. Why is that?”

June’s eyes fell to the ground. “I take care of them in private,” June whispered after a while.

“Why?” I inquired. “I don’t mean to get all up in your business, but I don’t understand.”

“I gave up on our dream! I wanted to become a powerful Gym Leader!” June blurted out, stopping. She turned her face from me. “I feel disconnected from them since I made that decision. I feel embarrassed to even be around them because I failed them and let them down. So I haven’t spent as much time around them as I should. When you’re feeding your Pokemon or sleeping is when I usually feed my Pokemon and let them out for some fresh air privately. Our relationship with each other hasn’t been the same since the first time I left Gringey City... I just can’t do it... I need to find peace with my Pokemon and with myself before I can truly feel like we can communicate again.”

“June, your Pokemon still listen to you.” My eyes matched with hers. “They love you. Your Eevee battled great. Your Pikachu, too. Wait. Is this why Electivire won’t listen?”

June shook her head. “No, Electivire is a completely different story,” June said sadly.

“What’s wrong with him?” I asked.

“I don’t wanna talk about it!” June let out shrilly. Her hands balled at her sides. She still wasn’t able to look at me.

I raised my hands in defense. “I’m sorry, June. Never mind. But your Pokemon love you, June. You have to communicate with them better. You’re so good at it! I can’t understand why your own Pokemon are the ones you’re not connecting with. You’ve helped Robin with his Squirtle! Aly with her Ivysaur!”

“Gary, you just don’t understand.” June finally managed to turn back to me, wiping her teary eyes. “I know they forgive me. But I’m trying to build up forgiveness in myself for giving up on the goal we sought after together.”

I placed my hand on June’s shoulder. The smile that came across my face was impossible to hold back, moved by June’s words. “You’re a great person, June. Don’t hinder yourself to getting closer to your Pokemon. You did nothing wrong by deciding to not be a Gym Leader. You lived your dream. It just wasn’t everything you thought it’d be. But you lived it and fulfilled it. This is a new era in your life. Let’s take it in stride and see what unfolds from it. Together.”

June smiled and more tears fell from her eyes. “Gary!” She hugged me.

Ugh, I thought. Why’d I have to say all that? I hugged her back nonetheless.

We both were in a great, new era in our lives. And we’d get through whatever we had to face, no matter how bad it got.

I somehow felt that we’d be able to get through anything. Together. I knew we’d always have each other’s back.

June wouldn’t leave me again, unless she wanted to or unless I asked her to.

I couldn’t imagine asking June to leave our team.

And somewhere deep inside of me, I hoped she’d never want to leave.

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