A New Life Through The Eyes Of Kanto: An Autobiography

By QBOak

Adventure / Drama

Blood, Sweat, & Tears Part 1 Of 2

Blood covered the portion of ground between Mankey and Kabutops.

MANKEYYYYY!!” I had shrieked.

Mankey struggled to his feet, pushing himself up, but falling back to the floor. He pushed himself up again, refusing to give up.

I tried to return Mankey to his Poke Ball, but Mankey screeched loudly, stopping me from returning him and forcing me to cover my ears, calling out to my Pokemon.

His body gave off a bright, white light. He was evolving! Mankey had evolved into Primeape, but remained on facedown, beaten.

*

Graveler used Roll Out, bouncing repeatedly off of Primeape’s back until he was beaten. Another Roll Out took out Charmander with ease.

*

Kabutops sliced at Primeape and lots of blood splashed the ground, some dripping from Kabutops’ scythe.

Primeape was defeated.

*

“Gary?”

I looked up, my thoughts broken, and turned to see June staring at me, concerned.

“Gary, what’s wrong?” she asked. “Are you still thinking about her?”

I nodded. “Yes. I was.”

June nodded solemnly. “I understand. You can defeat her. I know it.”

I lowered my eyes.

June and I had been walking around Pewter City for about an hour, if that long. The air held a lot of heat, but it wasn’t too humid. The sun was all around us, refreshing my body, causing a good feeling to spread throughout me, though I still was trembling from anticipation and admittedly, a little bit of fear.

My thoughts were filled with nothing but what occurred the last times I had battled Aurora. I was haunted by what had happened and could think of nothing else now that I was back in Pewter City. My right eye was still twitching. I closed the eye and jabbed my finger into it, hard. I’d been doing that every couple of minutes or so, but it didn’t help. The twitching was driving me crazy.

June walked over to me and wrapped an arm around my shoulder. “Come on. We’ve been outside for a while. Let’s head back inside and rest, okay? Our Pokemon should be ready for pickup by now.”

I allowed June to lead me towards the Pokemon Center. We walked through the doors and sat down on one of the comfy benches against the wall, near a window.

June leaned forward, staring at me.

I didn’t move my head, but my eyes turned towards her pretty, smiling face.

“Smile, Gary,” she told me happily. “Give your Pokemon the strength they need. If you’re worried, they’ll be worried, too.”

I nodded and took a deep breath, leaning back and looking up at the ceiling. As I let out my breath, I reflected again on the battles I had with Aurora. Kabutops, I thought as I recalled every win it had against me. It always won in the same manner. One swipe and it was over in a bloody mess. Graveler was very strong, but even it had to work somewhat to defeat us. Kabutops has to go down. But... What if she doesn’t use Kabutops next time? I wondered. Will she even remember me?

My gaze lowered and I spotted some phone booths. A couple of them were occupied by young kids.

My eyes lit up. Prof Oak! I remembered. I got to my feet and quickly walked over to one of the booths.

“Gary?” June called out.

I took a seat and picked up the receiver, rubbing my twitching eye with my other hand, thinking. Finally, I dialed the number that played in my mind. After a few rings, the black screen cleared to show a smiling Prof. Oak. “Well, if it isn’t Gary!” Prof. Oak exclaimed happily. “How good to see you!”

“Hello, sir!” I said, trying to sound cheerful.

“How have you been?” His smile faded briefly. “I see you haven’t been catching too many Pokemon.” His smile quickly returned. “But I did get your newest capture. A Drifloon, eh? Very interesting. Ghost Pokemon are one of the most common Pokemon types to not be captured by Trainers of any region! I appreciate this capture, but I do look forward to many more from you, Gary.”

“I’ll do my best, sir,” I nodded happily.

“Oh, and I meant to mention this to you the last time we spoke back in Cloud City,” Prof. Oak said suddenly. “I completely forgot, somehow, but I remembered this time! I really don’t know how I could have forgotten this. I truly am getting on in my old age.” He stopped and looked up, seeming to be reflecting on something with a fond smile. “It’s been such an amazing life I’ve led. The things I’ve lived to see and experience.”

“Professor, don’t speak like that!” I said loudly. “You’re in the prime of your life!” Even I could see how old the professor was, but I hated to hear a man I respected so much speaking like this. It was just plain uncomfortable! I’d known Prof. Oak for most of my life. Perhaps all of it. I couldn’t imagine... losing him... “You’re an amazing man with so much more to give to the Pokemon world!” I recalled when he had forgotten to give me, Kiwi, Aly, and Robin our Poke Balls when we had left for our journey, and my face firmed up, ignoring the memory.

Prof. Oak laughed. “Well, thank you for your kind words, Gary. But anyway, what I forgot to mention was your Kingdra.”

“Kingdra? Is she okay?”

Prof. Oak nodded calmly. “Oh, yes. She’s quite okay. But when she first got here, she was quite enraged. She used her Twister attack in my lab and destroyed some very sensitive equipment. Even out of the lab, in the pond, she would fight all of the Pokemon who came near her.”

WHAT?!” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. “Excuse me, but are you sure you’re talking about my Kingdra?” I didn’t want to be one of those people who thinks their children, or Pokemon, are so perfect that they’d never do anything wrong, but Kingdra was a gentle soul. I couldn’t imagine that she’d ever do anything like that.

“I’m one hundred percent sure, Gary,” Prof. Oak said firmly. “She’s been very angry. Do you and her have a close relationship?”

I nodded. “Yes. I love my Kingdra. We get along great!”

“Hmm.” Prof. Oak closed his eyes, nodding. “I see. Well, this may be a case of separation anxiety.”

My eyes widened in shock. “Really?” I gasped. “You mean, you think she’s afraid or gets uncomfortable whenever she leaves my side?”

“Pretty much, Gary.” Prof. Oak stared at me roughly, his hard eyes tearing through me, making my heart beat sharply. “It may be that she desires to stay with you at all times.”

My shoulders slumped. “Prof. Oak, I’m so sorry for the trouble she’s caused you. I actually called you because I was thinking of taking her back.”

“Really? Well, that’s quite alright. She’s very grumpy and hasn’t made any friends here, but Tracey and I can tell she’s a good Pokemon at heart. We had a feeling she was just missing you. We’ve recorded her on camera crying quite often, late at night, when we review the surveillance videos. It’s very sad.”

“Oh, no,” I responded sadly, my heart sinking painfully. “Yes, I will take her back! I’m getting ready to battle Aurora again and-”

“Are you in Pewter City?!” Prof. Oak burst out in shock.

I nodded back eagerly. “That’s right!” I smiled. “I found Gale and defeated her in a Pokemon battle and won my seventh Badge! Now I’m back in Pewter to fulfill my promise to beat Aurora and win my eighth Badge here!”

“I see,” Prof. Oak nodded, a cold glare returning to his face. “It’s been about a year since you left Pewter City. She’ll only be tougher than the last time you faced her.”

I nodded. “And so will I.”

Prof. Oak smiled. “Now that’s the spirit, Gary! This inspires a poem.”

My face dropped. Please, no, I thought in dismay.

“Relicanth,” Prof. Oak began. “A-”

The screen went black.

“Huh?” I gasped.

I heard people in the other phone booths cry out.

“Why’d you hang up, Gary?” June said angrily from behind me.

I turned to face a glaring June. “W-w-w-what? I didn’t! It just ended!”

“You know I have to speak to Prof. Oak!” she fumed. “He’s a hero! How could you forget my need to speak to that amazing man? You know, sometimes, you are-!”

The lights in the Pokemon Center turned off suddenly, the building now only dimly lit up by the sunlight outside.

Everyone in the Pokemon Center turned around in confusion, muttering.

“What’s going on?” June asked, also looking around.

Nurse Joy and Chansey stood by the desk, concern on their faces.

Nurse Joy turned to Chansey and muttered something.

Chansey nodded and they ran to the electronic doors in the back, which opened for them, the doors closing behind them automatically. Glowing red above the doors was an electronic sign with the design of a syringe in the middle of it.

Those doors must be on some kind of backup energy, I thought. A power outage...

“I was speaking with my mother!” a young woman whined angrily from the phone booth. “What is this?”

The Pokemon Center was filled with chatter.

June and I exchanged glances.

At least I didn’t have to hear that poem, I accepted. But what about my Kingdra? I never got to trade for her.

A loud scream silenced the Pokemon Center.

It took me a couple of seconds, but I leaped to my feet. “Nurse Joy!” I yelled. Nurse Joy’s in trouble, I knew, recognizing her scream. I ran to the back doors of the Pokemon Center and banged against it angrily. “NURSE JOY!!”

“Gary!” June ran up next to me, glancing in fear at the doors.

“She’s in there!” I shouted at her. “She’s in trouble!” I kicked at the doors furiously, as hard as I could.

“Blaziken, go!” someone shouted from behind me.

I turned around as a Poke Ball got close to the doors.

“BLAAAAAAAAAAAAZE!” a creature barked as it popped out from the darker colored Poke Ball I didn’t recognize in the low light.

My eyes widened.

A young man held Blaziken’s Poke Ball in his hand, staring fiercely at the door.

Blaziken. The Blaze Pokemon. This is Torchic’s final stage. It can create flames from around its ankles and wrists. Every several years, its old feathers burn off and it regrows new ones.

“Blaziken, use Double Kick to kick the doors down!” the Trainer ordered.

Before Blaziken could even inhale to move, the lights flashed back on!

The doors opened instantly.

Porygon-Z was behind the doors, floating in the air, quivering in place, looking up at the ceiling in a slanted position.

An angry Nurse Joy glared out from behind my Pokemon.

Chansey was shaking her head, her eyes closed, her head down.

“Porygon-Z?” I said in confusion.

June screamed in horror and ran away, only making it a few feet before my digital friend screeched.

Everyone in the building screamed in shock and pain as the sound rang through everyone’s ears.

I fell onto my knees, screaming, covering my ears. The next sounds I heard, moments later, were the sounds of groaning from several people. My hands rubbed my throbbing head as I looked around.

Everyone was on the ground, some on their knees, while others were sprawled out on the floor. Everyone’s hands were covering their ears. Some people looked around, squinting. Other people just laid flat on the floor, moaning.

Porygon-Z let out a long, continuous, low cry as it slowly floated through the air, upside down, shivering hard.

I growled and got to my feet. “Porygon-Z!”

Porygon-Z turned to face me, still hanging upside down, no longer shivering. It let out what almost sounded like a happy, electronic squeal and flew at me, shoving me back as it hit me in the chest.

I stumbled back and wrapped my arms around it. “Porygon-Z!”

It whirled cheerfully and snuggled against me in my arms, still upside down.

I smiled and sighed, softened up by its affection. “I’m glad to see you, too, buddy.” My smiled faded and I gripped it in my hands. I lifted my Pokemon up to my face and turned it right-side up.

It shivered happily in my hands, causing me to shake dramatically.

“P-p-p-p-p-o-o-o-o-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-y-y-y-y-y-y-g-g-g-g-o-o-o-n-n-n-n-n-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z,” I stammered. “S-s-s-s-t-t-t-o-o-o-p-p-p-p-p i-i-i-i-t-t-t-t-t-t!” Porygon-Z stopped shaking and I shook my head as chills ran through my body.

Porygon-Z let out a startling, loud screech again!

I screamed and let go of Porygon-Z, grabbing my head.

Everyone else in the Pokemon Center shrieked with me.

After Porygon-Z’s shrill cry ended, I clenched my fists and teeth furiously, narrowing my eyes. “STOP DOING THAT!!!”

Porygon-Z looked at me and whirred mechanically.

“You can’t keep doing that!” I insisted.

“Hey, control your Pokemon, kid!” a young girl demanded from the ground, rubbing her head.

“Yeah, what’s wrong with you?” a young boy added.

Soon, almost everybody in the Pokemon Center was cursing me.

“I’m sorry!” I apologized. “I really am!” I didn’t know what else to say. I was now so embarrassed!

June was near the front door, huddled on the floor, grabbing her head as she kept her terrified eyes on Porygon-Z.

Porygon-Z let out a low, sad whine and started to lower itself to the floor.

“Porygon-Z, don’t cry.” I reached out and caught it, hugging it tightly.

Porygon-Z continued to whine louder, looking up sadly at me.

“Enough!” Nurse Joy stepped in front of me. There was an anger in her eyes not often seen in Nurse Joys. “Your Porygon-Z could use a lot more training! It cut out the power in this Pokemon Center by transporting itself into our very sensitive electronic equipment keeping the Pokemon Center running and playing around in there! Luckily, we didn’t have any critically injured Pokemon here right now. This could have been a much more serious incident. Please do better in caring for your Pokemon!”

I nodded, lowering my head, tears filling my eyes.

“But I can see that you and your Porygon-Z are very close,” Nurse Joy added, her tone getting lighter.

I struggled to hold back the tears and looked up at a now smiling Nurse Joy, which made me more comfortable and smile back. “Yes. We are. I love my Porygon-Z! We’re working hard on not letting things like this occur. It’s very difficult...” I turned to everyone else glaring at me. “I apologize again.” I turned to Porygon-Z. “Porygon-Z, please, apologize to everyone here for all that you’ve caused.”

Porygon-Z turned its head around to everyone and stared silently. Suddenly, it struggled out of my grip and floated above us all.

Everyone’s eyes were on Porygon-Z now, silence in the room.

Porygon-Z’s body didn’t move, but it turned its head around silently, eyeing everyone. It froze and cried out with joy.

“Porygon-Z?” I asked in confusion.

Porygon-Z flew past me and headed for one of the phone booths! To my complete and utter shock, it neared the screen for one of the phones and the screen rippled, a white hole appearing on the screen! It quickly vanished inside of the monitor, the white hole closing up, the screen looking completely normal again.

“Porygon-Z!” I stepped towards the phone booth.

Everyone stared silently.

What did it just do? I wondered.

The screen Porygon-Z disappeared into cut on. All that could be seen was a white background and a large, brown comfy chair. At once, all of the other screens in the phone booths cut on simultaneously, all showing white screens with a large, brown comfy chair.

Footsteps were heard loud and clear from the speakers on the ceiling of the Pokemon Center.

Everybody gazed around, confused and whispering.

I kept my eyes on the screens.

A man stepped in front of the white background on all of the screens at the same time and sat in the chair.

Everyone’s attention was on the screens now.

The man wore a white lab coat and had black hair sticking out in all directions from his head. His eyes looked abnormal. They took up almost half of his face and were completely circular. They were also entirely yellow aside from a thin, black circle within that surrounded another thick black dot, making the eyes sort of resemble a dartboard pattern.

I recognized those eyes. “Porygon-Z?!”

The man smiled. He took a very long, deep breath. “SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” the man screamed endlessly, his voice blasting out from the speakers.

Everyone screamed in fright and covered their ears, running out of the building.

I stayed behind trying to block out the sound with my hands as I leered at my mad, outrageous, and otherwise insane, Porygon-Z.

*

I was kicked out of the Pokemon Center soon after Porygon-Z’s apology.

Nurse Joy was kind about it. She suggested that I take some time alone, outside, with Porygon-Z to better work together with it and get it used to how to act with other people in a reasonable manner. She said all of this with a caring smile on her face.

Chansey gave me back my Pokemon, all fully healed.

The others in the Pokemon Center were less gentle. They yelled at me and told me to get out immediately. One man even threatened me, ordering that I not come back until his Pokemon were fully healed and he had left Pewter City.

June and I walked outside, me fiddling with my Pokedex.

“What are you doing?” June asked curiously.

“Done!” I said happily, turning to June with a smile.

“With?”

“I traded back for Kingdra,” I explained. “Prof. Oak told me she was missing me, and, to be honest, I intended on using her against Aurora.”

“You got rid of that Porygon-Z?” June asked eagerly, clasping her hands together.

“No!” I snapped.June’s hands fell to her side, her face disappointed.

“I traded Hoothoot over for Kingdra. I also got back my Baltoy for Butterfree. I intend on using those two to beat Cleopatra.”

“Really? Why them?” June asked.

“I want to try something new,” I told her. “Those two are great Pokemon. They know Special Attack moves, too. We can try new kinds of attacks against her that don’t have to be just physical moves, which I’ve primarily done in the past with her.”

“Kingdra’s a good choice,” June nodded. “But why not use Ivysaur? Or Weepinbell?”

“Beating Aurora won’t be about a type advantage. It’s going to take a lot more than that.”

“But it won’t hurt...” June said softly.

“I’ve thought this through, June. I really think that these two will be the best choices to win with.”

June smiled. “Then, good luck.” She placed her hand on my shoulder.

I smiled and nodded back. “But first...” I turned to the clearing and grabbed Kingdra’s Poke Ball. “Kingdra, come on out!”

“DOOOOOO!” Kingdra held a sharp, intimidating look on her face as she looked about her new surroundings. Her eyes stopped on me and her anger faded away, giving way to complete shock.

I smiled. “Kingdra!” I stepped towards her.

Kingdra kept her eyes on me, not moving, not saying anything.

I approached her gently, still smiling, and as I got nearer, I spread open my arms. “It’s been such a long time, Kingdra.”

Kingdra’s face suddenly went hard with fury and she inhaled deeply.

“GARY, WATCH OUT!” June warned frantically.

“Huh?” I looked to June and back.

Kingdra sprayed a large blast of water at me!

I was hit in the chest and thrown back easily, lifted off of my feet and slammed to the ground, struggling to inhale.

“Gary!” June ran to my side and kneeled down.

Groaning, I sat up and looked at Kingdra.

Kingdra was breathing hard, her eyes on me.

“Kingdra?” I asked meekly. “What was that for?”

“Doo... Doo... Doo... Doo...” Kingdra repeated, not taking her eyes off of me.

“Kingdra,” I pleaded. “Please.” I felt so hurt. After all of the hard work we’d been through to get closer after she’d been abandoned by her Trainer, was it all over so easily? Did she hate me for leaving her with Prof. Oak? “Kingdra. We’ve come so far. Please, don’t be mad at me.” Groaning, I slowly got to my feet, June helping me up. My legs rocked underneath me.

“Gary, take it easy,” June warned, eyeing Kingdra.

I ignored June and stepped towards Kingdra.

“Doooooo...” Kingdra warned. Suddenly, her anger faded instantly and her eyes filled with tears. “DOOOOOOOOO!!!” She hopped frantically towards me.

“Kingdra!” I ran to her and wrapped her up in my arms. I was basically gasping for breath from the Hydro Pump I took, but I maintained my strength and clung to my Pokemon.

“Doo! Doo! Dooooo!” Kingdra cried in my arms.

“It’s okay, Kingdra,” I said in a low voice. “I’m sorry I left you without letting you know what was going on. That was wrong of me and very thoughtless. I would never leave you though, Kingdra. You have to believe that, okay?”

“Doooo!” Kingdra rubbed her head against my neck.

Smiling, I rubbed her back. “It’s okay, Kingdra. It’s okay. I love you, Kingdra. I’m here now.” It was painful to hear my Pokemon cry so openly, and nearly impossible for me not to also weep along with her. I gently unwrapped my arms and stared into her teary eyes. “Kingdra, I heard you weren’t behaving yourself with Prof. Oak,” I spoke seriously.

Kingdra’s eyes dripped more tears silently.

“Kingdra...” I took a deep breath and never broke eye contact, focusing on my next words. “I’m a Pokemon Trainer, and my goal is to capture every Pokemon possible. Not only that, but to become a Pokemon Master, my ultimate goal, I have to capture and build a relationship with all of my Pokemon. I have to swap out my Pokemon sometimes so I can give everyone the same amount of love. I love all of my Pokemon just the same. Prof. Oak’s Lab is nice and I know that it has a lot of really cool Pokemon for you to befriend.”

Kingdra listened to me, not taking her eyes off of me as she continued to cry, shaking and grunting.

“You will be going back to Prof. Oak’s lab someday, I’m sure,” I told her.

“DOOOO!” Kingdra bounced urgently.

“Sssshhh!” I whispered sharply, raising a finger, silencing her. “And you will not give Prof. Oak, Prof. Sketchit, nor the other Pokemon there a hard time. Do you understand me?”

Kingdra lowered her head sadly.

I reached out and gently lifted her head up, my eyes focusing on her’s. “I love you, Kingdra. I’ll never desert you. And I need you to trust my words. To have faith in my decisions. To believe in me. If not, I’m failing on my goal to become a Pokemon Master.”

She blinked several more tears out.

“Kingdra, I know you’ve been through a lot. I know trust is a hard thing for you, considering what you’ve been through. But, I need you. I need to know that I’m doing my job. That I’m doing right by you! When things get tough, confusing, scary, uncertain! Can I count on you to trust in me? Not just as your Trainer, Kingdra. As your friend. Can I ask of you to count on me as I count on you? To know I’m there for you as I know you’re always there for me, too?”

I released my Pokemon’s head, and Kingdra held it up. She didn’t speak, her eyes quivering before me as they overflowed from my words.

My hand extended, stopping just inches from her face. “Grant me this chance, Kingdra? Please?” As much as I struggled, I no longer could hold back my tears, and a couple of drips fell to the grass below us both. I blinked a couple of times, and more drips fell from me.

“Doooo!” Kingdra leaned forward and placed the side of her head in my hand.

“Kingdra,” I nodded gratefully, rubbing her face. “You’re going to behave next time, right?”

Kingdra slowly nodded.

“And you know I’ll be back for you, no matter what, right?”

Kingdra’s face lightened up just a little bit and she bounced in place, crying out happily.

My smile widened. I looked down at my belt and grabbed four of the Poke Balls attached to them. “Come on out!” I threw them into the air.

Charizard roared, firing into the air with flames.

Ivysaur growled, first at me, and then at Charizard, and finally at Kingdra.

Primeape screeched eagerly, looking around.

“Baltooooooooooy!” Baltoy sang out, spinning in place. It spun around Charizard, then Primeape, and also Kingdra eagerly. It reached Ivysaur and spun circles around her, Ivysaur growling threateningly.

“IVY!” Ivysaur used Vine Whip at the bottom of Baltoy’s body.

Baltoy leaped right over it easily and continued circling her, singing loudly.

“Ivysaur, cut it out! NOW!”

“SAAAAUR!” Ivysaur shouted and used Razor Leaf, ignoring me.

Baltoy easily dodged around all of the sharp leaves!

This maneuver even impressed me! “Return!”

Ivysaur was put back into her Poke Ball.

Alright, then she can just stay inside, I thought impatiently. Porygon-Z, too. I had been considering sending out Porygon-Z for this pep talk, but after seeing Ivysaur’s behavior, I wasn’t really in the mood for more theatrics. I didn’t intend on using those two, anyway. I took a deep breath. “Charizard, Primeape, you two may recall this city. We’re back in Pewter City, and we’re about to compete for the Boulder Badge.”

Charizard’s face turned solemn as he grunted.

Primeape growled and screamed angrily, hopping up and down.

“Kingdra, Baltoy, you’ve never met Aurora, I’m sure,” I said to them. “I intend on letting you two battle her.”“AAAAAAAAAAAAPE!!! APEAPEAPE!!!!!” Primeape screeched in disagreement, running up to my feet and punching at the air.

“No! I’ve thought this through, Primeape. I know you want to beat her, but not this time. I’m sorry.”

Primeape ranted over this, leaping into the air, swinging around in a fury.

“Primeape, stop it!” I instructed. “Or you’ll go back in the Poke Ball, too.”

Primeape glared at me but walked back over to my other Pokemon, growling and mumbling angrily.

Charizard stared at me.

I stared back.

Charizard grunted and nodded.

I smiled and nodded back. I then turned back to Baltoy and Kingdra. “I know you two will do great,” I told them. “I may not use you two, but my intentions are to do so.” I looked at Primeape and Charizard. “All of you, be ready.”

Everyone nodded and made a grunt of acknowledgement.

“Battle hard, listen to my commands, and let’s be proud of this battle. And this time, let’s leave with the Boulder Badge! Failure is not an option!”

Everyone cheered eagerly.

“Thank you all,” I said, and returned them to their Poke Balls. I turned to June.

She was already staring at me. “Are you ready?”

“I’m more ready than I’ve ever been,” I said, adrenaline running through me, my eye jumping even faster and harder now. “Let’s get this over with!” I turned and ran towards the Gym.

“Hey, no need to run!” June called out, giving chase.

We arrived in front of the Gym a short while later. The enormous, stone structure looked exactly the same as the last time I had been here. I stopped in front of the large, stone door. PEWTER CITY GYM was engraved on it.

I inhaled and knocked on the door, only a dull thud being heard. I didn’t stop knocking until I heard the footsteps approaching from inside. My heart beat hard as the footsteps drew closer.

The door to the Gym swung open.

Aurora gazed out and looked down upon June and I, back and forth, with her attractive, dark brown eyes. Her long, blonde hair flowed down her back. Her face was perspiring. She looked a little bit tired. She wore brown pants and black sneakers. Her white tank top was tucked tightly into her pants. The sweet aroma of something unknown but breathtaking wafted from her.

I could feel my heart beating a little extra hard in my chest, fear no longer flowing through my veins, but a different kind of feeling from gazing at this striking, beautiful woman once again after almost a year’s time. And in this outfit, especially that showy top, she looked better than ever.

“Hello, children,” Aurora greeted, a tired, or bored, look on her face. “Have you come to challenge me to a Pokemon battle?”

Neither June nor I spoke a word.

“Ow!” I cried out, no longer lost in Aurora’s hotness.

June had elbowed me hard.

I glared at my companion, who returned the look, and gave up, turning to Aurora. “Aurora! I, Gary, have returned! As promised!”

Aurora looked at me in confusion. “Gary? Gary who?”

My mouth dropped open in shock. “WHAAAAT?!?!?!” I nearly collapsed in shock before her! “Gary, from Pallet Town!! I challenged you almost a year ago! You defeated me three times and told me to find another Gym to battle! I promised you I’d return and now I’m back!”

Aurora wiped her forehead and sighed. “Listen, um, Gary. It’s been five years since I’ve lost a match. What you just described is pretty much how all of my battles are like. I’m afraid they just aren’t very memorable anymore. I’m thinking the only thing left for me to do is to try to become the Pokemon Champion here in Kanto.”

I gaped at Aurora. Five years... I thought. She still hasn’t lost a battle in all this time. I swallowed and shook my head, a firm growl bringing my determination back within my body and I leered at the Gym Leader, my fists clenching hard. She doesn’t even remember me. All this time, I’ve never once forgotten her, but she can’t pick me out of a lineup. “YOUR KABUTOPS NEARLY KILLED MY PRIMEAPE!” I bellowed. “I BEAT YOUR GRAVELER WITH MY MANKEY, AND HE LOST TO YOUR KABUTOPS RIGHT AFTER EVOLVING INTO PRIMEAPE!”

Aurora focused her eyes on me.

“Then, I came back and you beat me with only Graveler! You beat my Primeape, and Charmander! Then I came back once more and you beat my Hoothoot, but Primeape beat Graveler! Then Kabutops came out and took out my Primeape again!! I promised my return and here I am!! I DEMAND A BATTLE!! And this time, I’m leaving with your Badge!!”

Aurora stared at me silently. Her face softened and she smiled. In the next instant, she burst out laughing. She slowly slid down the side of the door to her Gym and landed on her knees.

I stared down at her, sneering.

“Hey! What’s so funny?” June demanded angrily.

Aurora was gasping and laughing, waving her hand in the air, wiping at her eyes. She looked into my face full of rage, continuing to laugh. “I remember you now!” she laughed. “When you told me what happened in our battle, for some reason, I remembered again!” She laughed hysterically.

Rage was beyond me now. I was so mad, I could feel my eyes ready to slide out tears. Not out of sadness, but out of an overload of frustration. And maybe there was some sadness from embarrassment in there as well...

“I still don’t get the joke,” June said impatiently, crossing her arms.

“He actually came back!” Aurora fell back onto her butt, holding her stomach. She turned to June. “And you even brought along a little girlfriend to support you! This is amazing!

SHE’S NOT MY GIRLFRIEND!” I stomped the ground, which did nothing to stop Aurora’s laughter.

“Hey, what kind of Gym Leader are you, anyway?” June screamed. “You sure are rude! As a Gym Leader, you should be much more courteous to your challengers! You’re a disrespect to the Gym Leader profession! As a previous Gym Leader, I am appalled! To be quite honest, Miss, you make me sick. Someone like you can’t possibly be all that strong of a Trainer. I think you just got lucky against a few new Trainers. You won’t win this time. You’re pitiful!

Aurora’s laughter ended abruptly. It ended so fast, in fact, that I gasped at the sudden silence and the stone cold glare on Aurora’s face. She stood up and towered over June.

June’s face filled with fright immediately, looking like she had regretted letting her emotions take over and say all of those things to Aurora.

“Previous Gym Leader?” Aurora hissed.

June didn’t reply. She actually started to shake on the spot, visibly.

“And may I ask exactly why you are no longer a Gym Leader, young lady?” Aurora whispered evilly.

My own legs were now quaking.

Aurora had become absolutely terrifying.

June still didn’t speak, trembling.

“I asked you a question,” Aurora growled, stepping forward and stopping my heart.

“I quit,” June whispered.

Why??” Aurora snarled.

“I-I-I,” June stuttered, “was no good.” Her last three words came out in a loud squeak of fear.

“Oh, is that so?” Aurora said, kneeling down, her face right in front of June’s. “So, a puny little girl who couldn’t even handle being a Gym Leader thinks she can rate me, huh? Does this mean you wish to battle me? Maybe prove just how weak and poor of a Trainer I am? How ‘pitiful’ I am? WELL???

“No, ma’am,” June said, tears running down her cheeks.

“Then next time, how about you speak more respectfully to those who can do their job properly and learn from them instead of talking from a place you’ll end up regretting!”

June closed her eyes tight, more tears flowing from them, and nodded her head repeatedly.

Aurora turned to me. “Little boy, if you wanna battle, follow me!” She turned around, disappearing into the darkness of her Gym.

I stood frozen in place.

June sniffed and wiped her eyes, trying to clear her constantly oncoming tears from her face. She finally gave up and just covered her face as she cried silently.

It was June crying that gave me the strength and the courage to feel that I could move at all. I took a shaky breath and turned towards the opening to the Gym. Aurora will not get away with that, I promised. I slowly let out my breath as I stepped into the building. As I entered, I heard a loud clap and a couple of lights flashed on. I blinked against the sudden, dim lights.

Bleachers lined the two sides of a rectangular battlefield in the middle of the Gym. The battlefield was filled with broken, crushed, and sharp, jagged boulders.

A tall man stood outside of the battlefield wearing white shorts, a white T-shirt, and black sneakers.

Aurora stood on one side of the battlefield, glaring at me, her arms crossed over her chest.

The inside of the Gym was a little bit hotter than it was outside.

I turned back to stare outside at June.

June was looking inside the Gym from outside, her eyes finally landing on Aurora. She gazed at her and then turned to me.

We didn’t speak a word.

June inhaled deeply and exhaled as she stepped up to join me inside, a determined look on her tear covered face. She wrapped her arms around me and pulled me into a hug. Her lips got close to my right ear and she whispered, “This is your final Badge.” She pulled away from me and walked towards the bleachers to the right and took a seat.

Aurora was still looking at me.

Balling my fists, I stepped onto my side of the battlefield. My right eye twitched hard and I rubbed at it quickly.

“Well then, little boy. It’s been a long time. What will you do after you lose again?”

“I’m not coming back to this Gym to battle for your Badge,” I told her, my eyes locked on hers. “Because I won’t be losing this time!”

“And when you do?” Aurora asked. “Because trust me, you will.”

I grabbed a Poke Ball and pressed to button to make it larger. “The Boulder Badge is mine this time, Aurora!”

Aurora grabbed her own Poke Ball. “State your name and place for the record.”

“Gary, from Pallet Town! Recognize it!”

Aurora’s eyes seemed to actually flash at me as her eyebrows narrowed, flustered by my words.

“The battle between Gary from Pallet Town and Pewter City Gym Leader, Aurora, will now begin,” the man in white said. “This will be a two-on-two battle. Only the challenger is allowed to substitute Pokemon. The first Trainer to defeat all of the opponent’s Pokemon will be declared the winner. Let the battle begin!”

“Graveler!” Aurora tossed her Poke Ball, sending out Graveler.

Graveler called out eagerly, glaring at me.

Is this the same Graveler? I wondered. The same one who defeated Primeape once, and was defeated by Primeape twice? The same Graveler that beat my Charmander twice? The same Graveler that beat my Hoothoot? I was frozen in place, remembering the battles.

“Hey!” Aurora snapped me out of my trip down memory lane. “Select your Pokemon!”

“Gary, you can do this!” June encouraged me.

I turned to her. Right, I nodded, and turned back to Graveler. Relax, I told myself. Relax. Think. Be calm. My right eye twitched again. I took a deep breath, blinking hard. “Baltoy, go!” I threw the Poke Ball.

“Baltoy!” Baltoy spun circles around Graveler.

“Graveler...” Graveler growled, eyeing Baltoy.

Aurora stared suspiciously at Baltoy.

“GRAVELERRRR!” Graveler charged at Baltoy.

“BAAAAAAALLL!” Baltoy cried out as it was tossed backwards. It got up straight and spun in place rapidly. It finally stopped and let out, “BALTOY!”

“You ready now, Baltoy?” I asked.

“Baltoooooooooy!” Baltoy sang.

“Use Rock Blast, now!” Aurora ordered.

Graveler’s head glowed silver and, from its forehead, multiple silver rocks shot out at Baltoy.

“Baltoy, get out of the way!”

Baltoy spun in place and dodged around the rocks fired at it, avoiding each and every rock.

“Graveler, finish that thing off with Stone Edge! NOW!” Aurora shouted impatiently.

Graveler’s body was outlined in white. Multiple white orbs surrounded Graveler and spun around it. The glow faded from Graveler’s body and the glowing orbs stopped glowing, turning into jagged rocks. Graveler reached its arms out to Baltoy and let out a loud cry, and the rocks soared at Baltoy quickly.

“Dodge it!” I commanded.

Baltoy spun even faster in place and maneuvered around the rocks and they all just barely missed it.

With a loud growl, urgent fists at her sides, the Gym Leader insisted, “Double-Edge and knock it out already!”

Graveler’s body glowed gold and it charged at Baltoy.

“Baltoy!” I called out. We can’t just keep running like this. We have to attack, I knew. It was so hard to think with Aurora yelling out constant orders at her Graveler. She was the most intimidating Gym Leader I’d ever met! I could hardly think straight in her presence. “Use Mud-Slap!”

Baltoy spun even faster and tilted to the ground slightly, one of its arms beating at the ground as it spun.

Dirt rose from the ground and slapped Graveler in the face repeatedly. It grunted in surprise and ran right past Baltoy, blinded. It slammed into a larger boulder in the field, tearing right through it, raising dust. Graveler growled and rubbed its eyes, trying to clear them.

I smiled excitedly. Yes! Am I doing it?

Aurora noticed my smile and shook her head at me. “Little boy, I hope you don’t think this battle is going in your favor,” she said coldly, stomping down on my hopes and excitement, bringing me back down to Earth. “Graveler, Stone Edge! And this time, HIT THAT THING!”

Graveler used Stone Edge again, multiple rocks flying towards Baltoy.

“Use Confusion to send it back!” I countered.

Baltoy’s eyes shined blue and the rocks froze in place, right in front of it, also outlined in blue.

“DO IT!” I rubbed hard at my twitching, annoying eye.

The rocks turned around and ripped through the air, headed for Graveler.

“Roll Out!” Aurora told Graveler.

Graveler curled into a ball and rolled right for the rocks, tearing through them without stopping.

I gasped.

It did nothing to it!

Toy!” Baltoy squeaked out as Graveler slammed into it, tossing it back.

Graveler rolled around back to its spot and watched Baltoy.

Baltoy landed on its back, not moving.

“This isn’t over yet! Get up!” I urged Baltoy.

Baltoy groaned weakly.

“GET UP, BALTOY!” I shouted louder, the muscles in my body tightening. “I chose you because I believe in you! You can do this!

“End this,” Aurora said calmly.

Baltoy continued to groan from the ground as Graveler flung itself at Baltoy, faster than before, using Roll Out.

I watched in shock, my heart beating, my teeth clenched, breathing rapidly.

Toooooooy!!” Baltoy screamed loudly upon impact. It bounced hard and had a short slide to its stop.

Baltoy!! COME OOOOOON!!!” I was desperate for Baltoy to endure. We hadn’t even landed one hit on Graveler yet! We couldn’t go out like this! Not after all this time! We had to have something to show! We had to win!!

Graveler rolled back to where it began and spun harder in place, shooting out to take out Baltoy.

“Baaaal...” Baltoy forced itself up by one arm. It spun in place and moved to the side, just barely avoiding Graveler’s next attack.

Graveler spun past Baltoy and kept going, rolling through multiple rocks all over the field, crashing through large boulders and bouncing on little rocks in its path. It continued to roll out of the battlefield and crashed into the wall, sprawled out on its back. Graveler groaned for a moment but hopped to its feet in the next second, shook its head, and ran back to its position on the field.

“You have no strategy, as usual,” Aurora criticized me. “Or at least not one that will do anything against me, little boy. A year later, and nothing has changed. You haven’t grown. You haven’t learned anything. If you care about your Pokemon at all, go elsewhere. I don’t care where.” She straightened up and her gaze tightened on me. “I am the strongest Gym Leader in the entire Kanto region. I’ll prove I am the strongest Trainer on the planet. I won’t lose to you. NOBODY will defeat me!”

June gasped, covering her mouth.

Aurora’s freezing stare caused me to shiver, despite my will not to.

Graveler glared at Baltoy.

Baltoy stared back at Graveler, breathing hard, exhausted.

As my eye continued to twitch yet again, my mind froze solid trying to think of a way to get around Graveler’s incredible strength.

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