Breaking The Habit
I guess I’ll call Prof. Oak when we get to Pewter City, I considered as I walked quickly alongside the trees lining one side of the dirt path.
June was walking on the other side of the path, close to the trees lining it.
June and I hadn’t spoken at all for several hours as we headed for Pewter City. After our fight over Kiwi and Raikou, we were being very distant with each other.
I still couldn’t believe June could accuse Kiwi of such a horrible act. Then again, I knew Kiwi better than June, and June was someone who had a deep connection with Pokemon. It was obvious that we would have differing opinions on this situation. It still bothered me that, after all June and I had been through, and especially after what I’d personally been through during the time June wasn’t traveling with me, that she could think a Pokemon was just so innocent and perfect. I was still haunted by the incident in Saffron City, and my journey through the beach as I headed towards Celadon where I encountered Whiscash, Trapinch, and the Houndoom, were clear incidents of Pokemon attacking for poor reasons, amongst others. Maybe they had explanations to go along with them, but Raikou’s attack on Kiwi could have been the same thing. In fact, I knew it was the same thing. It was this difference in views on the situation that left June and I so upset at each other. We both “knew” we were right and the other person was wrong.
I hope Kiwi will make it through, I thought. I hope she can still compete in the Pokemon League, or at least will recover soon. She’s gone through so much.
Something up ahead made me come to a stop. A town! I hurried forward, trying to recognize if it was Pewter City or not.
I could hear June also pick up her pace.
As I got closer, I saw that it was not Pewter City. Where are we now? I wondered, disappointed. I pulled out my Town Map from my bag and scanned it, but I couldn’t spot the town at first. “Float Town,” I muttered, finally seeing it.
The town looked big enough to be a city. There were mainly houses in the area, but there was the occasional enormous building or two every couple of blocks. Cars were parked on the cement ground, the sidewalks were clean, and the town itself was peaceful.
A few people walked by us.
One woman was carrying a child in her arms, though he looked old enough to walk on his own.
A man pushed a stroller with a kid whose feet just about reached the ground, looking a tiny bit too old to be strapped into one as he struggled in frustration, crying out in distress.
A few other people without children walked by, a couple of them looking up into the sky.
I stared back down at the Town Map. Pewter City is the next location. After we get out of here, it’s just a little bit further. Then, I’ll definitely get my eighth Badge and I can compete in the Pokemon League. It’s just about that time. I started to shake with excitement as my legs carried me faster.
“NO! DON’T DO THAT!” a woman screamed, distracting me from my thoughts. I turned quickly and looked across the street to see a woman snatch a blue balloon from her child who sat in a pouch she wore in front of her chest. She let go of the balloon and let it float into the sky.
The child cried and reached up for the balloon in vain as it floated higher. The child started to scream in anguish.
The mother pet the child’s head and continued to walk on, whispering words which did nothing to calm the kid.
What was that about? I wondered, my eyes rising to the balloon momentarily. I shook my head a bit and walked on. I had crossed several streets after some time and began to wonder if maybe I should have taken other detours instead of continuously walking straight ahead.
Aurora won’t beat us this time, I returned to my encouraging thoughts. I have grown a lot since my last time with her. She was just too experienced for me back then. But now, I can take her down. Three losses. Her Graveler did well, and was tough to beat, but it was Kabutops who prevented me from getting her Badge. She may even be using different Pokemon the next time we battle. No matter what, she was who was going to be my eighth Badge win and allow me access to the Pokemon League. That was my promise.
A shriek from very far away grabbed my attention and I turned back around.
June gasped as she looked back.
What’s going on?
The scream was from far ahead, and I couldn’t make out the words calling out.
I swallowed and hesitated a bit, but in the next couple of seconds, I was heading back towards where we just came from, my feet pounding the pavement. Now what? I wondered, a little bit annoyed at this deterrence from my journey. I soon reached the site of the last woman I saw who had released the balloon into the air as her child cried.
The child was gripping a new, purple balloon by one of two of its strings which ended in a yellow, heart-shaped design. The new balloon was floating in the air as the child seemed to struggle against the balloon, pulling it down. It almost looked like the balloon and the child were having some kind of tug of war match.
The mom screamed and swatted at the balloon and the balloon seemed be dodging the swings! The mother had tears streaming down her face as she swung some more. “GET AWAY FROM US!! WE DIDN’T POP THE BALLOON! JUST GO AWAY!” she screamed desperately. “LEAVE MY BABY ALONE!!”
June and I reached the woman.
“Ma’am, what’s wrong?” I asked in confusion.
The woman didn’t respond. She just continued to cry emotionally, pulling her child wildly as the balloon swayed in the child’s grip.
“It’s a Drifloon!” June gasped.
“Huh?” I turned to her.
June was staring at the balloon.
I turned to the balloon, too, confused.
Two black dots sat above a large, yellow “X” on the front of the balloon. A white puff sat on its head, resembling a cloud.
“A Pokemon?” My eyes widened in shock.
Drifloon. The Balloon Pokemon. They have been accused of taking children away to the underworld. This attempt often fails and has never been officially recorded. It is believed by some that the “X” on their faces represent that they are the ghosts of popped balloons.
“It really is a Pokemon!”
“FLOOOOOON!” Drifloon released itself from the child, floating into the air, higher, higher, and eventually disappeared against the darkening, evening sky.
The woman gripped her child in her arms and cried. “My baby! Oh, sweet Angel, you’re safe! That mean Drifloon won’t take you from Mommy’s hold.”
The child cried as its mother held tightly.
Was that Drifloon really trying to steal that child and take it to the underworld? I considered.
“Are you alright, Miss?” June asked cautiously.
The woman turned to June, her face full of tears. She shook her head sadly. “No. I’m not at all. I can’t leave my baby alone. I have to take her everywhere. I fear what would happen if she were to be left with a babysitter or even with her father. I’m only going to the store, and it’s not an option to leave her behind for even a short time. I just don’t trust her with anybody but me! I love her so much! But, it’s a danger taking her outside, too!”
“Do the people encounter Drifloon around here often?” June questioned.
The woman nodded, tears dripping from her eyes. “There seems to be just one Drifloon that haunts this town. Children have gone missing. It’s terrible!”“Why don’t you just leave here?” I burst out.
“Oh, you just think it’s that easy, huh?” the woman snapped tearfully. “You’re so young. Not everybody wants to live where they live at. People desperately desire to move out of this town. It’s just not that easy! It costs money to move, and money to afford to live in new areas. Then there’s credit, and bills, and, kids, you have no idea! Just trust me that if me and my husband could afford to get the hell out of here, we would!”
“I’m sorry,” I said in a low voice. “I didn’t mean to offend you. But, why is it doing this? It’s just kidnapping your children?”
“Yes. Like your little toy there said, it takes them to the underworld! You have no idea of the pain so many people suffer from here due to the children being snatched up. Nobody lets their kids play alone these days. Nobody pops balloons around here, either. We fear that if a balloon is popped, it may anger the Drifloon.”
“You mean, they actually allow balloons in this town at all? I’d assume you wouldn’t even allow them in here.”“Well, typically, we don’t,” the woman explained. “But on occasion, there are parties and celebrations held here and sometimes, balloons are just present! Not everyone believes in the dangers of a popped balloon. I’m not fully convinced of it myself, sometimes... But some think that by forbidding balloons, we’ll only anger Drifloon further!”
I looked back into the sky, but Drifloon was gone. “Maybe there’s something that we can do to stop this!” I offered the mother.
She shook her head. “There isn’t anything that can be done,” she said sadly, looking deeply into my eyes with her tearful gaze. “They just vanish into thin air. There’s nothing that can be done to stop them.”
“I have Pokemon! I can fight against them!”
“No,” the woman insisted. “It’s pointless. Just forget about it, okay? It’s too dangerous. You don’t want to end up losing your Pokemon in the process. Those things are dangerous!” The woman ran away from me, still crying.
June turned to me after watching the woman for a moment.
We turned away from each other without saying a word.
A Drifloon is kidnapping children from here for some reason, I reviewed. If it’s really just one Drifloon, then I can stop it. My Pokemon are strong. I took a deep breath and let it out. But how do I find it? I looked up into the sky, but I didn’t see anything. June was looking at me again, but I ignored her and kept my gaze towards the sky.
“Gary,” June spoke. Her first words to me in a while.
I ignored her and continued to look above me.
June didn’t say anything more.
They kidnap kids. I walked past June, keeping my gaze to the sky, occasionally looking down, seeking out parents with their kids.
A child gripped her father’s hand as they walked across the street from me. The father had a worried look on his face as he kept his eyes on his daughter who skipped along happily.
The sky was just barely lit by a dying sun. The town, also lightly brightened by streetlights, looked gloomy, just a couple of shades or so lighter than the signs of an oncoming storm. It would be night very soon.
June and I traveled silently, me keeping my gaze towards the sky and back to the ground, repeatedly, but not having any luck spotting the Drifloon. I didn’t want to leave Float Town without figuring out a solution to this Drifloon problem, but time was running out and I had to get to Pewter City. I felt a moment of internal conflict as I tried to think of what I’d do if I didn’t run into Drifloon for several days. There was no way I’d wait around that long.
A path a short distance away seemed to be leading out of Float Town and looked like it was going downhill.
We must be heading out of Float Town, I realized. I looked behind me, staring into the sky, and looked down at the few people walking through, many with their heads in the sky, hurrying along, seeming desperate to get to wherever they were headed, fear in their faces. Some of them had children cuddled in their arms or were hurrying them along. Can I just leave them like this? I wondered. Is there nothing I can do?
“You don’t want to end up losing your Pokemon in the process,” the woman I spoke to warned me.
I looked up into the sky again. I won’t lose my Pokemon, I thought determinedly. We can beat a Drifloon. We can stop this. Maybe we can even save the lost children who were taken. But first, to find Drifloon... I headed back deeper into town.
“Gary?” June asked as I walked on.
I ignored her, looking around, high and low, seeking Drifloon. I didn’t see it, but I didn’t stop looking.
“Gary, you’re not looking for Drifloon, are you?” June asked quietly, a short distance away.
Still ignoring June, I walked on.
“Gary!” She grabbed my shoulder suddenly.
I turned around angrily and glared at her. “I’m after a Drifloon that has been kidnapping kids for no apparent reason!” I yelled at her.
June’s hand pulled away.
“What are you gonna say? Huh? It was the parents’ fault? It was the kids’ fault? They caused the kidnappings? You can go to Pewter City if you want. Or quite frankly, anywhere else away from me! I don’t care anymore! You’ve quite frankly ticked me off far enough with what you did to Kiwi. I stand by her and I believe in her. And now, she may not even be well enough to...” I couldn’t finish. I wanted to, but I couldn’t think of anything I believed in to finish the sentence. She may not be well enough to do what, exactly? She’d be well enough to do anything!! Nothing was wrong with her! “In the end, you’re gonna stick by that stinking Raikou. Well, I don’t buy it! I’m sticking by Kiwi, and I’m going to try and save the kids in this town! If you think Pokemon are so perfect, and flawless, and incapable of doing evil, then you’re just in my way.” I stormed away from June.
“Gary, I believe in Raikou!” June called after me desperately. “But I know Pokemon aren’t perfect creatures! Don’t you accuse me of things I never claimed to believe! I read that Drifloon! Drifloon wanted to steal away that child!”I stopped and didn’t move.
“I could read Drifloon,” June said, walking closer to me. “Drifloon is stealing kids. It’s not right. If you’re trying to stop Drifloon, I’m on your side! I can help, too. If you still want me to.”
I turned to her.
She stared at me, sadness on her entire face. “We won’t see eye to eye on the Raikou incident. I know this now. But I won’t just abandon you until you tell me to go.”
My stern glare met her mournful one.
“Gary, I won’t leave you,” June said softly.
What seemed to be too long a time passed before finally, I simply nodded, which seemed to be enough to bring a smile to June’s face.
She nodded back eagerly.
“I’m gonna stick around for a bit and try to find Drifloon. You’re welcome to join me.”
June quickly nodded again. “Of course, Gary. This is exactly why I’m traveling with you. You’re such a good person. I want to learn from you, Gary. This is just another way, in my eyes, to get to understand Pokemon. But, that woman you spoke to warned us about this.”
“I know. She warned me about losing my Pokemon in the process. I’m not worried about that. I believe that we can do it.” I gazed up at the sky, now completely dark as night settled in.
A loud scream tore through the streetlight illuminated city.
June and I gasped, turning towards the scream. We exchanged glances.
Another scream ripped through the air.
June and I both ran at the same time, unsure of where to go, but heading towards the noise as best as we could trace its location.
Another scream demanded us to reach it. This scream sounded like it was from a child!
I tore across the street.
Bright lights blinded me.
“GARY!” June screamed shrilly.
I screamed but kept running as a car headed straight for me.
The car screeched to a stop, inches from me.
I never stopped, covering my eyes against the headlights and looked at the black car but kept running. The screams from a woman and child got closer as I crossed another street, not stopping to check for cars. Something grabbed my attention from the corner of my eye as I crossed.
There was a woman holding a baby. Both the woman and child were screaming, a Drifloon tugging on the wrist of the baby as the baby and mother pulled back!
Drifloon was pulled easily as it struggled against mother and child, unable to pull the kid away.
“HEY!” I charged at them furiously.
The mom cried out in shock and turned to June and I as we neared them.
“FLOOOOOON!” Drifloon yanked the child from the mother’s grip.
“NOOO!” the mom wailed out in despair as the crying baby was lifted into the air. She leaped desperately and swiped for her child, but came down flat to the street. She looked up and climbed to her feet, chasing after the Drifloon as the baby was carried through the air in Drifloon’s grip by just its wrist.
June and I ran past the woman quickly and kept our eyes on the Pokemon.
“Gary, how are we gonna stop it?” June questioned me.
“I’ll use Charizard!” I grabbed his Poke Ball.
“Gary, you can’t!” June reasoned. “You can’t attack Drifloon! You may end up harming that baby!”
I growled as I realized that June was right. Think, think, I told myself, glaring at Drifloon. How can you stop that Drifloon? An idea struck me suddenly and I put Charizard’s Poke Ball back on my belt and grabbed another Poke Ball. “Butterfree, go after that Drifloon, now!” I flung the Poke Ball into the air harder and sharper than I may have thrown anything in my life!
“Freeeeeeeee!!” Butterfree cried loudly, flying high into the sky. With a loud shout, she flapped her wings and kept close behind Drifloon.
“Gary, what are you gonna do?”
“Butterfree, use Sleep Powder!”
“Freeeee! Freeeeeee!” Butterfree picked up speed and hovered over Drifloon.
Drifloon vanished as Butterfree started to use Sleep Powder, blue powder sprinkling off of her wings. The Ghost appeared right in front of Butterfree and its face enlarged. It make a terrifying face and screamed shrilly.
The blue powder from Butterfree’s wings stopped falling as she screamed out and backed away.
Drifloon turned around and continued to float ahead.
“Butterfree, come on!” I ordered as June and I ran past her.
Butterfree stood in place, shivering from fear.
“She’s Flinching!” June explained. “It can happen when that move, Astonish, is used!”
“Grrrrr... Butterfree! Move it!”
The child continued to cry, louder than ever.
Butterfree finally shook her head and flew after Drifloon.
“Try to attack Drifloon with Supersonic!”
Butterfree soared above Drifloon again.
Drifloon stopped flying forward and turned towards Butterfree. It pointed the top of its head at Butterfree and spun rapidly, the child it was holding screaming in a panic as it was flung around helplessly.
“MY BABY PATRICIAAAAAAA!!!!” the mother, who was still giving chase several feet behind us, screamed at the top of her lungs.
A cyclone of purple wind came out from Drifloon’s head and slammed into Butterfree.
“FREE!” Butterfree grunted as she was hit and tumbled backwards.
Drifloon continued to fly forward once again, away from Butterfree.
“That was Ominous Wind!” June told me.
“Butterfree, we can’t give up! I’m counting on you! Please!” I begged.
Butterfree regained focus and tore through the dark skies after Drifloon.
What attack can we use that won’t hurt the kid? There is no move like that. We just have to attack! We don’t have a choice! Any move we use could potentially hit the kid or cause Drifloon to drop the child. But I can’t let Drifloon get away. No more children can get stolen. I pulled out my Pokedex to see what other moves Butterfree had. My eyes widened and I smiled. “Aerial Ace!”
Butterfree shot forward at Drifloon, tearing through the Pokemon’s body!
“That was Tackle!” June pointed out.
“Butterfree, I said to do Aerial Ace!” I spoke harshly.
“Freeee?” Butterfree looked down at me with a sad face.
“Butterfree?” Confused, I looked down at my Pokedex. “Oh, no!” My Pokedex had shown Aerial Ace as a move Butterfree could learn, not one she did know! The text was lighter and in a different font, like italics. “Then... grab that child with Confusion!”
“FREEEE!!” Butterfree’s eyes glowed light blue and the screaming, crying child gave off the same blue aura as Butterfree used her Psychic powers to free her.
Drifloon held on tight and tugged against Butterfree’s pull. It then raised one of its string appendages and a dark ball formed in front of it. Drifloon swung its appendage that ended in a heart shape at the Shadow Ball and the attack slammed into Butterfree.
Butterfree screamed, tumbling down, flipping rapidly.
“BUTTERFREE!” I ran after her and inhaled deeply, ignoring my fears, and leaped, reaching out for her, and caught her in my arms before she hit the ground. I whined out sharply as I skinned my arms a bit, my jacket protecting me somewhat, holding onto Butterfree tightly.
Butterfree’s eyes opened and stared at me. “Free?”I smiled, my eyes on her’s. “Butterfree. Are you okay?”
Butterfree nodded. “Freeeee!”
I got to my knees and continued to cradle my Pokemon. “You did well. You had enough, girl?”
Butterfree stared at me, an exhausted, sad look in her eyes.
I smiled wider. “No need to be ashamed of the work you did out there. I’m proud of you.”
A loud cry made us look up.
A Shadow Ball soared through the air, presumably having been produced by Drifloon, and crashed into an invisible portion of the sky. It simply vanished in midair and the space it hit quivered mysteriously. Suddenly, a large hole opened up from where the Shadow Ball hit. A light blue area in the hole appeared, shaking, quivering, twisting, right in the sky.
“What is that?” I asked fearfully.
“It’s taking my baby to the underworld!” the mother shrieked.
I watched as Drifloon soared towards the hole in the air, getting closer to the blue space.
June gasped, covering her mouth with her hand.
“NO!” I shouted angrily, getting to my feet, still holding Butterfree.
“FREEEEEE!!” Butterfree soared out of my hands, taking me by surprise. With a burst of energy, she flew forth with an incredible speed, past Drifloon, nearing the hole in the air.
“BUTTERFREE!” I reached out to her. “DON’T TOUCH THAT HOLE!!”
Butterfree continued to soar towards the hole. She made a sudden U-turn, disappeared in a blur, and tackled into Drifloon, tossing it back.
“Floooooooon!!” Drifloon soared backwards, still gripping the child.
“Butterfree! Was that...?” I pulled out my Pokedex.
Aerial Ace. The user moves incredibly fast and tackles the opponent.
“Butterfree learned Aerial Ace! YES!” I cheered, jumping into the air.
“FREEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!” Butterfree used Aerial Ace again, disappearing into a blur and slamming into Drifloon, who cried out, falling back.
“Butterfree, once more! Aerial Ace!” I urged.
Butterfree attacked again, hitting the disoriented Ghost Pokemon.
Drifloon let out a pained grunt and the child was released, screaming as she fell fast!
I gaped in horror as the baby fell.
Drifloon tumbled down towards the ground as well.
I ran towards the screaming baby, my arms outstretched. I stood right underneath the child and reached up, panicking, scared, my heart beating harder than I’d ever felt it beat in my life, my breathing halted. I was suddenly hit by what felt like a truck and hit the floor! “WHOA!” I screamed as I collapsed.
I looked up to see the mother, standing where I stood, leap into the air with all the energy she had in her, and catch her baby in her arms!A long breath of relief released itself from my lungs as the mother landed and hugged her crying baby, rocking her, whispering to her, kissing her while she herself cried endlessly.
June stood a few feet behind the woman, her hands to her mouth, crying silently but smiling as she watched them.
Drifloon tumbled closer to the ground.
I glared at it angrily and got to my feet. My teeth gritted hard together and I ran past the mother and June, taking off my bag, and dug through it frantically.
Drifloon stopped as it got closer to the ground, hovering a few feet in the air above me, shaking its head.
I grabbed a Poke Ball from my bag, but put it back and continued to look for the item I sought.
Drifloon let out a moan as it continued to shake its head.
Finally, I found the item and pulled it out, dropping my bag to the floor. I pressed the orange button to enlarge the object in my hand.“Dusk Ball, GO!”
The new ball flew out hard at the Pokemon.
“Flooooon?” Drifloon’s eyes opened. The Dusk Ball hit it and Drifloon was forced back a few inches.
The Dusk Ball opened and a red beam shot out, engulfing Drifloon and pulled it inside.
The Dusk Ball closed and hit the floor before shaking repeatedly, the button on the front glowing red.
The Dusk Ball continued to shake.
The Dusk Ball shook further.
The Dusk Ball rocked even harder.
I smiled and ran up to the Dusk Ball to pick it up. “I caught Drifloon!!” I laughed lightly but spoke loudly.
“FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” Butterfree cheered excitedly from the skies, fluttering madly.
“YES!” I leaped repeatedly. “I caught a new Pokemon!! HAHA! YEEAAAAAAAAH!!! I DID IT!! TAKE THAT, PROF. OAK!! I DID IT!!!” I laughed excitedly as Butterfree sang from above.
The mother continued to smother her baby, paying no attention to me.
June smiled at me, shaking her head.
I looked up to see the hole in the sky close up completely, no longer visible, as if it had never been there in the first place. As I looked down at the Dusk Ball, it started to glow white and spark with white electricity. In a matter of seconds, it vanished completely, having been sent to Prof. Oak. I let out a sigh of relief. “YYYYEEEEEEEESSSSS!!” I leaped into the air once more.
“You saved my Patricia!!” The mother charged at me, holding her baby, tears running down her cheeks, and wrapped me into a tight hug. She kissed my cheek hard for a long time, and then continuously squeezed and kissed my cheeks, thanking me endlessly. After several minutes, she finally backed away, my face soaked in her saliva and tears.
I could feel the embarrassing heat in my face. “Not a problem, Miss,” I said, staring down, smiling.
She then proceeded to hug her child, covering her face in kisses as she sobbed openly.
Smiling, my eyes moved up to the night sky and closed. I took a deep breath and held it. I just captured a Ghost type Pokemon, I accepted, letting my breath out. My thoughts dwelled on Saffron City.
June and I jogged side by side, heading downhill. We left Float Town behind us, hoping that the town was now safe.
“Gary,” June said, breathing a bit heavily from the downhill jog.
I turned to her, still jogging.
“Are we okay?” she asked, already looking at me.
I turned away. “Yeah. We’re cool, June.”
We continued to jog together, and I could see the path flattening out several more feet below. “I’m gonna meet Kiwi again,” I told June. “And if you’re still with me, I don’t expect there to be any kind of conflict between you two.”
June didn’t speak for a moment. “You’re meeting Kiwi?” she asked quietly.
“Yeah!” I snapped.
“Gary, Kiwi’s in the hospital. You don’t-”
“She’ll be fine!”
June didn’t say a word after that.
We just jogged together until we reached the landing below. Once there, we walked together in silence, headed for Pewter City, not much further.
My eighth Badge was hardly a day away now.
Then, June and I would head for the Pokemon League.
And I’d win.
I’d beat Robin.
And I’d be battling for Aly.
And my Pokemon.
And everything me, my Pokemon, Robin, Kiwi, and Aly had gone through. Nothing any of us had gone through would be in vain.
But first, I was gonna make sure I completely destroyed Aurora in the same way she had beaten and embarrassed me almost one year ago.