“Flying type Pokemon are so unpredictable,” June brought up. “I mean, there are no pure Flying type Pokemon. They are all also another type, too! That makes them really interesting. They can use a nice variety of attacks.”
“That’s true,” I said, thinking about what she said. “This battle should be different, then. I can’t just think I’ll win with a type advantage.”
“Have any strategies or ideas?”
“Not really. I think using Charizard would be good, so her Pokemon can’t just fly away from our attacks. We can at least give chase.”
“That’s a good plan! I can’t wait to get there!”
“My seventh Badge is right around the corner,” I said eagerly.
It wasn’t very cold today, but there was just enough of a chill for me to swap out the brand new heavy coat I had bought to replace my old one I had thrown out after Cloud City, for my favorite black jacket with the image of Mewtwo sewn on the right breast.
June wore a long sleeved, red t-shirt, matching her hair, tight blue jeans, and a pair of white sneakers.
The temperature was getting warmer these days, spring feeling like it had truly arrived. The sky was gloomy, seeming to show signs of rain. We walked through the rocky road, trees lining our path, a long moment of silence between us.
I smiled slightly, enjoying the sounds of only nature and our footsteps, grateful just to be outside to appreciate all of this, and inhaled quietly but deeply. Feelings of regret soon swelled into my chest, and I exhaled more solemnly but still silently, remembering that not everyone was exactly enjoying this adventure.
Not all of us were even on it anymore...
A cave at the foot of a mountain grabbed my attention, taking me from my downhill thoughts.
The two of us stared at it from a distance.
I turned to June.
June turned to me.
I could tell by the look of uncertainty on her face that she was thinking the same thing as I was. After what we went through with Hypno not long ago, we weren’t too keen on entering any caves. My body was still sore from getting attacked by those kids. I cleared my throat. “Come on. Azure City is waiting for me. There lies a Badge with my name on it.”
June nodded. She dug through her large bag and pulled out a Poke Ball. “Light the way, Pikachu!”
“Pikachu!” Pikachu closed his eyes, sending out a bright flash of light, glowing. He opened his eyes and led the way inside.
June and I followed him, staring around cautiously.
Immediately, I became uncomfortably hot and took off my jacket, slinging it over my shoulder.
June fanned herself. “Why is it so hot in here?”
“I dunno,” I told her. “I can’t believe this!” It was insane how heated this cave was! It didn’t even seem natural!
“I can hardly take it!” she shouted in despair. “My goodness!” She rolled up her sleeves and grabbed the bottom of her shirt, flapping it repeatedly to cool herself.
I looked away from her as she did this, furrowing my eyebrows. “Relax, will you?” I said impatiently, in no mood for her to be getting all excited and upset. But, honestly, it was like, a thousand times worse than the hottest days of summer in here! Trying to keep calm and not let the heat get to me, I changed my focus and grabbed Hoothoot’s Poke Ball, ready just in case we encountered a Zubat. I hadn’t caught one yet, but I’d encountered one every time I entered a cave so far. This time, I was catching one.
We didn’t run into any Zubat, but we did stop at a different sight.
The cave continued to go straight, but a separate path went down to the left.
The three of us looked down both paths.
June turned to me. “Where do you think we should go?” She wiped sweat from her face.
“How am I to know?” I snapped, shrugging. The heat was making me moody. “Let’s just head down one and hope it opens out into Azure City quickly.”
“Whatever. Pikachu, let’s go this way!” June pointed down the path to the left.
Pikachu guided us down the path, breathing hard, exhausted from the heat.
“I really hope we don’t get lost, Gary,” June groaned. “I really need to get out of here. I feel like I might pass out.”
I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t worried about getting lost. We’d get out of here somehow. We had to. It was too hot not to!
As our trio walked on, I heard a low rumbling noise.
Pikachu kept walking, as did I, but June stopped. “What was that?” she whispered in fear.
Pikachu and I turned to face June. “It was nothing,” I sighed. “Let’s keep going. It’s too hot to be stopping!”
“What kind of stupid answer is that?” June shot back. “It was something!”
“June, quit being a baby and let’s get out of here!” I urged. “There’s no time for this! In case you don’t know, the Pokemon League is only a mere few months away from beginning and I only have six Badges. I need two more in order to compete. Now let’s move it!” The air was so thick from the humidity. I was desperate to find the exit.
June crossed her arms in front of her chest and frowned, but walked after me.
Pikachu was walking on all fours now, looking ready to drop.
After a while, another rumble, much louder than the first one, was heard.
June stopped again.
I only stopped walking because Pikachu stopped. Sighing angrily, I turned to June. “June!”
“Gary, what is that?”
“I don’t care! Let’s just get out of here!” Sweat was dripping from my face now.
“We’re getting closer to it! We might not be able to get past it!” June warned. “Let’s turn around and try the other path.”
“This might be the right path!” I complained. “Stop being a baby. We have our Pokemon with us. Nothing’s gonna stop us from getting out of here.”
June and I stared at each other, me angrily, her with worry.
The rumbling noise sounded through the cave again, echoing, only this time, it sounded like a roar. The ground began to shake hard.
My eyes widened in fear now.
June looked behind me, terrified.
I turned around, hearing the rumbling get closer, the ground rocking stronger.
Something was charging at us, coming into view from down the cave.
“GARY, RUN!” June grabbed my arm and pulled.
I pulled out of June’s grasp and ran with her as Pikachu ran ahead of us both.
The monster roared again.
I looked back and gasped. “It’s a Rhyhorn!”
“Who cares?! RUUUN!”
The air was so humid now, I couldn’t believe I was even running.
June, Pikachu, and I ran, breathing heavily, our clothes soaked in our own individual sweat. We reached where the path split very quickly and took the path to the left, which was the straight path we had neglected to take. We continued running, though slower now, too exhausted to move faster, but running as fast as we possibly could, eventually hearing a loud explosion behind us.
I looked back to see that Rhyhorn collided into the wall!
The sound of the Rhyhorn never started up again. No roaring. No stomping.
But we didn’t dare slow down.
“There’s a light!” June sounded ready to drop.
“Chaaaaaaa!” Pikachu urged us on, still leading.
Soon enough, we exited the cave. The cool air that greeted us felt like the greatest thing on the planet. We all cried out loudly, happily, and fell carefully on the rocky ground, gasping hard, letting the cool air flow around our bodies. We noisily were inhaling the light, clean, chilly air joyously, gratefully, longingly, desperately.
June swallowed. “What was with that cave?”
I didn’t care to respond, too happy with the cold air on my skin. A cold glass of water would have really hit the spot, but I accepted what I had.
We all stayed on the ground for the longest time, just taking in the air and cool temperature.
“Hey!” June cried out in surprise, sitting up. “Look!”
I finally felt like I had the energy to get up and looked at what June had noticed.
A short distance from us sat a dark town. Several houses were in sight, along with a couple of stores, but not a single light was on. The streets were clean, the streetlights off, the sidewalks and streets in a gloomy, dreary hue from the dark clouds blocking the light sky overhead.
I turned back to the cave.
Nothing was heard, and the Rhyhorn didn’t come out.
June turned to look, too, and we exchanged glances. She turned to Pikachu and smiled. “Thanks a lot, Pikachu. Take it easy, now. Return!”
Pikachu was still sprawled out on his back, smiling, relaxing, his eyes closed. “Chaaaaaaaaaa...!” Pikachu cried happily.
Once Pikachu was back in his Poke Ball, we turned back to the town.
“This can’t be Azure City, right?” I asked.
“It doesn’t look like much of a city,” June replied. “Azure City was nearby, but I don’t think it was the very next place we’d run into. I think it may be after we get out of here.”
“Well, let’s get going, then.” When we stood up, I took a long, deep breath before walking down the street with June.
“I’m just glad we got away from that Rhyhorn.”
“Yeah. I guess we got too close to its territory. Good thing they live in caves.”
We walked quietly together, my eyes focused on finding the way out of here.
June kept turning her head, looking around at everything.
Azure City, I thought. I’ll be there in no time. I can’t wait. I have to catch up to Robin. I have to catch up with even Kiwi, who wasn’t even training her Pokemon for a while, but somehow still has way more Pokemon than me! I have to catch up! I should’ve caught Rhyhorn. I don’t have enough Pokemon!
“Hey, Gary?” June interrupted my thoughts.
“What?” I asked, not looking at her.
“Where is everybody...?”
I turned to look at her.
An explosion of noise made June and I scream out, turning towards the sound.
A cloud of dust rose from out of one of the houses several feet back.
What sounded like a woman screaming, tore through the air.
When the dust faded, I could see the enormous hole in the front of the house. It looked like a huge truck just ran right through it!
June and I spotted the monster soon and backed up. I stopped and pulled out my Pokedex as June kept on stumbling backwards in fright.
Rhydon. The Drill Pokemon. The evolved form of Rhyhorn. Incredibly powerful, though limited on intellect, this Pokemon can be an unstoppable force and smash through just about anything, turning even diamonds to dust in an instant.
Rhydon roared again and turned to me and June.
We both gasped, frozen in place.
With a loud roar, Rhydon charged over to our block!
June and I screamed and ran down the street.
It sounded like buildings were being blown up behind us and I couldn’t help but look back. I screamed seeing Rhydon nearing us!
Rhydon was running through lawns, smashing fences, its tail swinging recklessly around it. Its tail collided with a house! The house was torn easily at the bottom and the rest of the structure crumbled immediately to dust!
Rhydon reached the next house and chose to just run through it completely, the house coming down like a demolition, section by section, as Rhydon exited it, leaving it in rubble.
The screams of people still inside of the houses it tore through were horrifying.
I turned back around and run as fast and far as my legs would take me.
June and I turned a corner and ran down another block.
I looked back to see Rhydon continuing straight ahead, not making the turn June and I took. Turning back, I gasped, realizing that almost all of the houses on this block were completely in ruins!
June cried out, slowing down.
“Don’t stop running!” I insisted as I ran past her.
I saw a door open on one of the houses across the street that were still standing on this block, in between two broken down, barely standing houses. The house was one story tall, the lights off inside.
A man stuck his head out and look around in fright, spotting June and I. “Who the hell are you kids?” he yelled angrily, now glaring at us.
“HEEEELLLP!” we screamed in unison.
He sneered but waved us inside.
I jumped over his fence which was no longer standing, laying in his trampled on lawn.
June wasn’t as agile, tripping over the gate but keeping her balance as she ran after me.
We both ran past the man and into his house, collapsing on the floor, exhausted.
The man slammed the door. “You stupid kids! What do think you’re doing around these parts?”
June and I didn’t speak at first, breathless.
I looked up at the man, my heart beating rapidly.
This guy wasn’t really all that tall, maybe about half a foot over me if I were standing up. He had a very angry look in his blue eyes, his black hair a mess, his face unshaven, stubbly. He stood in his white boxer shorts, his white wife beater pushed out by his gut, standing barefoot.
His house was a little dark, but the dim light from outside made it bright enough to see that it was also pretty clean and tidy aside from a pair of jeans and a white, button up shirt on the floor next to a pair of black shoes. A brown couch sat in the middle of the house in front of a black, wooden table as long as the couch. I could see the kitchen through an opening not far away, the sink and floor visible and clean. A few doors stood near the back of the house. “We were being chased,” I managed.
“Yeah, I know that!” the man barked. “You shouldn’t have come here.”
“Why is he chasing us?” June insisted.
“It’s a damn Rhyhorn! That’s why!” the man raged at her.
June and I lowered our heads.
I looked up at the man after a while. “We were chased by a Rhydon.”
“Whatever!! What are you two doing here?!”
“We were on our way to Azure City,” I explained. “We just wanted to get right out of here. Honest!”
“I dunno what an Azure City is, but then again, living here, you rarely get the chance to hear about the outside world, let alone explore it,” the man said, still staring sharply at us.
“What do you mean?” I asked, standing up. I was right. He had me by only a few inches in height.
“The people of Tough Town live in constant fear,” he explained, his voice calming down, but still glaring at us.
“Tough Town? Is that where we are?” June asked, standing.
“That’s what I said,” he snapped. “Tough Town. The name is pretty fitting. Anyone living here is a damn fool. I’m no bright apple, so I guess that explains me living here. Now, there’s no escape for any of us. You kids have a chance, though, so you should head back where you came from. Just stay away from the volcano.”
“There’s a volcano here?” My eyes widened.
The man nodded. “Not too far from here. It quakes and rumbles often, but it hasn’t erupted in my time living here. Who knows when it finally will decide to, though.”
“Why can’t you escape, too? And everybody else?” June inquired, standing up as well.
The man sighed. “We’re all too damn afraid of the Rhyhorn and Rhydon who live in the area, terrorizing us.”
“Why are they doing that?”
The man turned to June and shook his head. He sighed again. “Basically, they’re just too damn stupid to know what they’re doing.”
The man looked at me. “They’re not very bright. They just attack for very little reason, and often just forget why they began in the first place! They charge nonstop and even after you lose them, they just keep going, with no idea as to why they even started. This is bad, especially since these damn things are so freaking powerful. You’ve seen the destruction they cause. We spend so much time and energy rebuilding the houses they ruin, but it’s pointless. They just keep coming back around here. This is just the way the people in this town have always lived.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and pulled out my Pokedex to verify what he said.
Rhyhorn. The Spikes Pokemon. Rhyhorn are very powerful, but are also very forgetful. Once they begin to charge at something, they won’t stop until they fall asleep. This Pokemon is said to have a one-track mind.
Rhydon. The Drill Pokemon. This Pokemon stands upright, seeming to have increased its intelligence, though it is still often very forgetful. Despite being a Ground and Rock type Pokemon, they have been witnessed swimming in water.
I put away my Pokedex and turned to the man. “There must be something you can do! Don’t you guys have Pokemon or something? Or you could call the police! You guys can’t spend your lives living in fear!”
“Nobody in this town actually raises any Pokemon,” the man said roughly. “Or at least, none that can beat those things. And forget about the police! They can only do but so much to hold back those things. They keep coming back! And it’s near impossible to even call the police to get here because those beasts have wrecked the telephone lines and anything that even allows electricity to this place! The electricians are terrified of coming here. They sometimes get attacked by the Rhyhorn when they come through. They fixed it last time, so we should have some electricity in here, but the next time it gets destroyed, who knows how long until they come again. If they come again!”
I felt so sorry for this man, and the entire town. There had to be something June and I could do. “Wait! I’ll battle them all! And I can capture them, too!” This was too great of an opportunity to miss out on. I could save an entire town and capture a few powerful Pokemon in the process.
“Ah, you’re a Pokemon Trainer!” He squinted hard at me. “Do you have anything that can even battle against these things? You don’t look like you have much.”
“I have more than enough, thank you!” I spoke angrily. “Just watch!” I turned and stomped towards the door.
“Wait! Let me get dressed,” the man said, running to his jeans on the floor. June and I turned away, and a minute later, he ran up to us, dusting off his shoulders and looked at me with a serious face. “You’re in charge, then, kid.”
I smiled. “Don’t you worry about a thing!” I led the way out of the house and looked around the empty block.
“Everyone lives in fear, here,” the man told us in a low voice. “I guess we’ve all just grown accustomed to it. It’s just a way of life for us. Nobody comes out unless they truly have to, like to buy food or whatever. Other than that, it’s the indoors for us.”
“Not after I’m done here,” I promised.
“We’ll see,” the man replied doubtfully.
I turned to the streets and walked down the block.
It was completely silent. Nothing could be heard.
“I wonder where that Rhydon is,” June whispered.
“Oh, you’ll find it,” the man assured her. “Soon enough. Especially if you’re crazy enough to actually go looking for the thing.”
We reached the beginning of the block, where June and I had turned to escape from the Rhydon, and looked down the block where Rhydon had continued to run.
Several houses down this block were wrecked. Loads of people, some in groups, were looking at us in fear. They stood in the middle of the street. Several of them were crying on the ground, on their knees, covering their faces. Some were standing by those crying, trying to comfort them.
Watching this brought a fury from out of my heart, filling my entire body. This is their way of life? Living in fear like this? Losing their homes? Their entire lives?? Their loved ones?? Dying?! This is life?? No! “NO!” I shouted, tightening my fists, glaring at the people far away from me.
Some of them looked up at me mournfully, confused.
I walked over to the people quickly, stopping a couple of feet from them.
All of them looked at me, even those who were crying, their faces full of tears.
I wasn’t sure what to say, but I had to say something to them. “I’m here to help,” I nodded, and grabbed a Poke Ball. “I’m gonna defeat and capture every one of these Pokemon that have been terrorizing you all!”
A woman stood up from the floor, still crying, and ran to me. She gripped my shoulders. “HOW? How will you stop them??”
I raised my Poke Ball. “I have the best Pokemon to beat them with right here.”
Tears ran down her face even faster. “Please, you have to stop them!” she begged. “I... can’t keep on like this... I’ve lost... everythiiiiing!” She buried her face in my chest and cried heavily.
I started to reach out to hug her, not knowing what else to do, desperate to try to calm her down, my own eyes tearing from seeing this grown woman like this.
A loud roar erupted.
Everyone gasped and looked around, trying to find the location of the roar.
The lady released me as well.
An explosive noise grabbed everybody’s attention as a Rhydon covered in dust and dirt appeared. A piece of what looked like a brick was on its head. It shook its head hard and the brick fell off. The Pokemon then roared at us.
I moved away from the woman and stood before Rhydon. “Hey!” I called out furiously. “Cut this out! NOW!”
Rhydon roared and pawed at the ground with its foot, ready to charge.
“Have it your way! Ivysaur, I choose you!”
Her Poke Ball soared through the air and burst open, sending her out. “Ivysaur!” Ivysaur yelled, glaring at Rhydon.
Her bandage… I noted. Crap! She should be okay, though. And she’s the best for this job! “We won’t let you destroy this town any further! Ivysaur, use Razor Leaf!”
Rhydon roared and charged at Ivysaur.
Ivysaur let out a loud shout and charged back at Rhydon.
“Ivysaur, this isn’t the time to be acting like this!” I shouted in frustration.
Rhydon collided with Ivysaur, and she tumbled back through the air. She landed hard and rolled, stopping at my feet. “Saaaaur...” she croaked weakly.
There were concerned mutters and shocked cries from the crowd behind us.
“Ivysaur! No!” I pushed her on.
Ivysaur shook her head and hopped back up to her feet. She ran at Rhydon again.
People gasped and cried out again.
“Ivysaur, just listen to me! We can win if you just listen!” I pleaded.
Rhydon charged at Ivysaur again.
Ivysaur used Vine Whip and wrapped her vines around Rhydon’s legs.
Rhydon was taken by surprise and gazed down.
Ivysaur took advantage of Rhydon’s shock and kept running, going underneath its legs and running straight ahead.
Rhydon’s legs were pulled out from underneath it and it fell hard on its face.
Ivysaur ran around in circles, dragging Rhydon behind her, whipping Rhydon into the ground repeatedly, Rhydon helplessly roaring.
The people watching let out more cheerful, light cries. They sounded hopeful seeing Rhydon dragged around like this!
My Pokemon then stopped and lifted Rhydon high into the air and let go of it.
Rhydon flailed desperately as it fell.
“Ivysaaaauur!” Ivysaur fired sharp leaves from her bulb at Rhydon.
Rhydon hit the ground in pain.
There were cheers and applause from everyone at this, but it was cut short.
Groaning, Rhydon still managed to struggle to its feet.
“Ivy Ivy Ivy SAUR!” Ivysaur ran and used Double-Edge, knocking Rhydon back down. She growled, waiting for Rhydon to get back up.
“Yeah, stay down,” I heard a guy mutter amongst other whispers and mumbles of those pleased by Ivysaur’s power.
I was happy with what she had done, too, but I was upset that she wasn’t listening to me. Never mind that for now, I thought. Now’s my chance. “Poke Ball, GO!” I threw a fresh Poke Ball at Rhydon.
The Poke Ball neared Rhydon.
A loud roar was heard.
I saw the sharp drill first. It spun powerfully and met with my Poke Ball, tearing right through it, and the Poke Ball exploded in a small burst of smoke and debris.
We all gasped at the sight of a second Rhydon! It roared to the skies, raising its hands.
“Another one!” June pointed.
Ivysaur growled as the first Rhydon stood up. She glared at them both. “Ivy! IVYSAAAAUR!”
There was a loud sound of destruction from not too far off, screams and moans from everyone turning to see the predictable source.
From down the street, where debris and clouds of smoke were rising into the sky a couple of blocks behind the two Rhydon, two more Rhydon appeared together from around the corner! They both looked at us and hurried down the street to join their comrades.
Loud stomping made all of our heads turn to a nearby house.
Yet another Rhydon appeared! It swung its tail at a fence and uprooted it from the ground, sending it flying into the house, smashing through the windows.
I heard a scream from inside the house as the new Rhydon teamed up with its friends.
I glared at the five Rhydon.
Ivysaur growled and stepped closer to them, unafraid. “IVY! IVYSAUR!”
I’m not leaving Ivysaur alone, I decided, grabbing and holding out a second Poke Ball. “I choose you, Primeape!”
“Priiiiimeape!” Primeape screeched, looking at the group of opponents. “Priiiime! Priiiiiiiiiime! Ape! Ape!” He punched his fists together eagerly.
I grabbed another Poke Ball, ready to help out the two.
An explosion caused us all to turn around. The loud noise was followed by another one shortly after, getting closer, and finally, the entire house just a couple of houses away from us all exploded at once.
We all screamed out at once.
I shielded my face from the smoke and debris that blew around us all. Once I could open my eyes again, I heard several cries of horror behind me from what I laid my eyes upon.
Four more Rhydon.
They stood glaring at us in a line.
I turned back to the five Rhydon behind me.
We were surrounded.
Eleven Pokemon, I counted and turned to June. “June! We can beat these things.”
June turned to me in fright. “What?”
“I have six Pokemon. You have Electivire and like, ten other Pokemon! There’s no reason we can’t win. We have more than enough Pokemon to handle these guys!”
June looked at me with worry, and then stared down at her bag for a moment.
“JUNE! NOW!” I grabbed my remaining Poke Balls. Before I could send them out, the ground began to rumble beneath my feet. I froze in place, staring at the ground, my hands clutching all of my Poke Balls.
The people around me cried out with worry and fear.
The ground began to rock even harder now, and I fell off of my feet, my Poke Balls falling to the ground around me. “Oh, no!” I exclaimed, scrambling to grab my four Poke Balls and place them safely on my belt.
Primeape and Ivysaur looked around, letting out nervous cries of confusion.
The quaking continued and I began to wonder if we were in the middle of an earthquake. I couldn’t get up!
The Rhydon and Rhyhorn around us held their ground, but looked behind them.
That was when I saw it.
The cave June and I had gone through!
We hadn’t noticed it when we entered, but now, it seemed clear as day. June and I had gone through a volcano on our way to Tough Town! That explained the intense heat inside of the cave.
“Gary!” June squeaked in fright.
I didn’t respond. I just gaped in horror as the volcano roared and rumbled angrily. The next sound I heard was deafening.
The volcano erupted right in front of my eyes!
I was thrown back against the incredible noise and fell into the crowd of people who all screamed in terror. We all kept our eyes on the volcano, watching in awe and horror.
I was paralyzed as I watched the lava explode from the mouth of the volcano and covered my ears, watching constant dark smoke billow from the top.
The lava from inside spewed dangerously into the air, more lava running down the sides of the volcano. The sight was miraculous in its own way, stunningly beautiful, and yet completely terrifying.
And the town was so close to the now oncoming lava flow.
“Gary, get up!” June grabbed my arm and tried pulling me backwards. “We have to run!!”
I was yanked to my feet, but I didn’t run. I stood firmly to the ground.
Many people around us screamed and ran away as fast as they could.
The man we had met, whose house we ran into when we escaped one of the Rhydon, remained on the ground he had fallen on, not moving, watching the lava approach us.
“GARY! Snap out of it!!!” June shrieked, pulling me harder.
My feet didn’t budge. I turned to June.
The panic on her face brought sadness to my heart. “There’s nowhere to run,” I said quietly.
June gasped and looked into my eyes, her fearful eyes watering with tears.
The man sitting on the floor turned to me.
I stared back.
He nodded solemnly and turned back to the lava.
“Gary, please!” June begged. “We have to try!! We can’t just stand here!”
I stared at the lava covering the ground, nearing the town. Something poked at my side, and I looked down to see Primeape looking up at me sadly, his eyes watering. I smiled and sat next to him.
Primeape slowly walked over and sat in my lap, wrapping me in a hug.
I hugged him back tightly, my eyes watering. “I love you, too, Primeape. Thank you everything. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. But it’s time for you to escape to safety.”
“Prime?” Primeape looked up at me sadly.
I turned to June. “And you, too.”
“Huh?” She looked at me like I had spoken Kantonese.
I grabbed a Poke Ball. “Charizard can only carry but so many of us. You have to take my Poke Balls and get out of here on Charizard. He’ll take you all out of here.”
June slapped me across the face, baring her teeth at me.
The hit took me by immense surprise. I raised my hand to the painful, stinging spot on my face. “H-!”
“If you really think I’d do that, I’ll have you know I’d sooner kill you with my own bare hands before the lava even reached you than to desert you like that!” she screamed furiously.
I stared at her in shock.
She took her bag off of her shoulders and held it out to me. “Give Charizard my Poke Balls, too, if anything. He can save our Pokemon at least. I will not leave you!”
“June, if one of us can get out of this alive-!”
She slapped me again. Tears flowed from her angry eyes. “SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!” She heaved heavily, shaking her head. “We don’t have any time left! DO IT!” She shoved the bag into my arms.
I turned to the lava that was getting much closer.
June was right.
I either sent Charizard off with our Pokemon now, or we were all dead.
I set the bag down and grabbed Charizard’s Poke Ball. Don’t make this a long, sad, drawn out affair, I thought angrily, glaring at the Poke Ball. Don’t refuse to go. I pressed the button to enlarge the Poke Ball and get ready to send Charizard out. Just save the Pokemon! My teeth bared against each other as I screamed desperately in my head, and pulled my arm back to throw the Poke Ball into the air.
With an incredible roar, the five Rhydon ran past me and joined the other four Rhydon.
The two Rhyhorn backed away, staring at the oncoming lava in fear.
The Rhydon let out a group roar and charged into the lava! I gasped and froze in place, watching the Rhydon form a line and hold out their hands against the lava!
The lava collided with the Pokemon and rose up into the air on contact.
The Rhydon all roared at the lava, and the lava didn’t seem to be able to make it past the line of Rhydon! They were like a wall the lava couldn’t break through!
The man who had been with us since we entered his house gasped in surprise. “Impossible!”
“No way...” I whispered.
Rhydon’s hide is so tough, that even magma is unable to penetrate through it. They are occasionally spotted in volcanoes, walking easily through lava.
Both the man and I turned to my Pokedex in disbelief, and then turned back to the Rhydon.
The Rhydon stood strongly against the lava, small amounts breaking past them between their legs and over their heads, but they kept the lava from reaching the town, and they stood there, holding it back, until it finally cooled down and solidified. The Pokemon stepped away from it and turned around to face us.
“They saved our lives!” the man cried out.
The Rhydon stared silently at us.
“But, why...?” the man finished.
Suddenly, the two Rhyhorn ran up to the line of Rhydon. They each stopped in front of two specific Rhydon and the two Rhydon, one with a smaller drill on its head than the other, kneeled down and hugged the two Rhyhorn happily.
The other Rhydon smiled and nodded at the four Pokemon.
I watched this scene silently.
Nobody spoke a word.
The other Rhydon suddenly turned to us solemnly as the others continued to hug.
“That’s a female and male Rhydon,” June whispered, staring at the two Rhydon hugging the two Rhyhorn. “The two female Rhyhorn are their kids.”
“They were just protecting their children this whole time,” the man said bitterly. “They don’t care about us at all. Nothing has changed.”
June walked past me.
“June?” I called out.
She ignored me and walked over to the Rock Pokemon.
Everyone watched as she got closer to them, stopping short several feet away. “Thank you for saving our lives!” she called out to them. “You may not have intended to. You may have been terrifying the people of this town for years. But today, you Rhydon are all heroes! I thank you personally, and on behalf of this town. You are sincerely appreciated!” She bowed deeply and stood up, facing the Pokemon.
The mother and father Rhydon looked up at June.
The two Rhyhorn turned to her as well.
None of them were smiling anymore.
June stood still, watching them.
The Rhyhorn and Rhydon all stared back.
June slowly turned around and headed towards me, a sad look on her face, her eyes on the ground.
One of the Rhyhorn let out a loud shout, causing June to freeze and look up in fright, her back still facing the Pokemon.
The Rhyhorn ran at June, a furious look on her face.
The other Rhyhorn roared and ran together with her sister, ready to smash into June.
“JUNE!” I leaped to my feet.
A loud roar filled the area, sending a chill throughout my body.
To my surprise, the Rhyhorn actually stopped running! They froze just a couple of large steps behind June, skidding to a stop, and immediately turned around and stared at the Rhydon.
The smaller horned Rhydon stepped forward and shook her head “no.”
The Rhyhorn looked back at June, and then ran back to their parents.
June turned and watched the Rhyhorn go back.
The mother Rhydon stepped forward another step and stared at June.
June stared back, her hands raised to her chin.
The Rhydon nodded.
June gasped, and her face broke into a smile. She nodded back. “Thank you!” she cried happily, wiping at her eyes.
This Rhydon turned around and walked on top of the hardened lava, followed closely by her two kids, leading the group of other Rhydon towards the mouth of the cave June and I had made it through.
The mouth of the cave was now blocked with solidified lava.
Using Horn Drill, the mother Rhydon’s large horn spun rapidly and bore through the side of the cave, creating a new hole. She turned to the two Rhyhorn and grunted, nodding her head towards the opening.
The two Rhyhorn ran inside of the cave, followed by the other parent Rhydon with the longer drill.
All of the other Rhydon followed.
The remaining Rhydon who saved June, turned back, staring at us all. She let out a loud roar to the skies and entered the cave.
Nobody moved or said anything.
June turned around after a while and I saw her face, smiling brightly, her eyes twinkling behind tears. “I think. Maybe. An understanding has been reached.”
The man whose name I’d still had yet to find out, stood up quickly and stepped towards June. “What do you mean?” he demanded angrily.
June wiped her eyes. “I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. Who knows what the history of this town is, exactly. Who knows precisely why the Rhydon and Rhyhorn were attacking. But, I do know that Pokemon are very territorial. To a fault. They may very well attack people if they feel their space has been invaded.”
I immediately remembered the Whiscash I had ran into on the beach.
“It’s also well known that many Pokemon like to roam and be free,” June explained. “They don’t like to be restricted to one area, sometimes. They enjoy open spaces and being able to travel at will and make new homes for themselves. Perhaps, they wanted to live here, in this place, Tough Town. Or... maybe they just wanted to explore the neighboring area. Rhyhorn are often found in grassy plains. This town clearly didn’t always exist as a town. It was surely most likely a widespread plain before being taken over by people and made into a town. You all live in an area very close to these Pokemon and their volcano home. Basically, this encounter was destined to happen, one way or another, whatever the cause. As humans and Pokemon try to make room for themselves on this planet of ours, encounters like this are just inevitable. The Rhydon didn’t attack you once the volcano stopped erupting. They left. I don’t think they only were saving the Rhyhorn. I think they realized this place was in danger, too. I think they understood that living beings inhabit this place, too. We all were so scared when the volcano erupted. We were defenseless against it, just like their children were. Perhaps they found some kind of common ground to relate to us on, and respect us through. A reason to care. I think, perhaps, you and the Rhyhorn and Rhydon can find a way to live in peace together.”
The man crossed his arms, not looking convinced. “What if they forget again? What if things go back to the way they were?”
June smiled even wider. “There are some things you just can’t forget, no matter what.” She looked back at the volcano and turned back to face us. “Especially for a mother who loves her children.”
June and I departed Tough Town together.
The townspeople were extremely grateful to June and I, showering us in thanks and hugs and a few kisses, though the latter came from the women in town, both to me and June. We stayed for a little while longer as everyone spoke eagerly about the events that took place that afternoon and their hopes that everything would be okay from now on. Finally, June and I left, bidding everyone goodbye.
We walked in silence on the open dirt road.
A silence for a short while.
“Charizard would’ve never left you, Gary.”
“June, I really don’t want to think about that,” I said coldly.
June didn’t say anything after that.
I knew June was right. And I didn’t want to think about what that may have meant if the Rhydon hadn’t saved us.
Right now, I only wanted to think about our next destination.
My battle with Gale.
My seventh Badge.
How happy I was that I’d be there with all of my Pokemon.
How grateful I was June would be accompanying me there.