A New Life Through The Eyes Of Kanto: An Autobiography

By QBOak

Adventure / Drama

Blood, Sweat, & Tears Part 2 Of 2

I’m not doing too well, I thought. I have to think smarter. I have to be stronger. I have to fight back. “Mud-Slap, Baltoy!”

Baltoy spun in place and tilted itself, its appendage smacking repeatedly at the ground, tossing up rocks and dirt at Graveler.

Aurora glared at me and shook her head slowly as Graveler took the hit. “Graveler, end this.”

Graveler brushed at its rocky face and ran forward, leaped into the air, and used Roll Out.

“Baltoy, watch out!” My right hand pressed over my right eye hard, feeling myself losing my temper as I tried to ignore my distracting eye while this important battle was taking place.

Baltoy spun in place and dodged Graveler, but this time, Graveler reversed back rapidly!

Just like it did when it battled Mankey in our first battle! I remembered. Graveler had missed but just reversed back, picking up strength and speed.

Aurora’s eyes widened as Baltoy swiftly dodged Graveler’s Roll Out again, and dodged the next Roll Out as Graveler tried to reverse back into Baltoy yet again!

Baltoy!! You’re doing it!” I cried excitedly, beaming.

Graveler kept reversing back and forth, trying to take out Baltoy, but Baltoy spun like a top and moved side to side, avoiding the hit.

Aurora was in rage now, her fists balled, her face hardened.

“Baltoy! You’re doing great!” But we have to attack, I knew. This isn’t a game of Tag. We have to fight back.

“You think you’re doing well,” Aurora scolded, keeping her eyes on Baltoy. “Little boy, you’ve made a grave mistake. Graveler, rebound! NOW!”

“What?!” I shouted in confusion. “Is that a move??”

Graveler kept using Roll Out, spinning at Baltoy.

Baltoy dodged the hit.

Graveler kept on going forward and slammed into a large boulder on the field. Instead of going right through it as it usually does, it rebounded from the boulder and rolled off into a different direction! It slammed into another, smaller boulder and rolled off into a new direction. It kept up a strange pattern of slamming into large rocks and bouncing off of them, rolling at other rocks. With every push off of a rock, its speed got faster. It was slamming into boulder after boulder, faster and faster!

Baltoy spun slower and gave out a confused cry.

It’s getting so much faster, I realized. I can’t keep my eyes on it!

“Gary! His Roll Out is getting stronger!” June shouted desperately. “Roll Out gets stronger every turn it hits because the user’s speed is built up the longer the move lasts! Instead of hitting Baltoy, Graveler is just bouncing off the rocks and building his speed and power up! Even Baltoy won’t be able avoid a hit at this rate!”

I stared at June in shock and turned back to Graveler. I pictured Graveler in my head, a ball zooming into Baltoy at blinding speed, knocking it out completely with incredible force. What can Baltoy do? I panicked in my head.

Graveler, rocketing at my Baltoy. A ball aiming for Baltoy. A ball flying into Baltoy...

Baltoy was swaying in what almost looked like a dizzy fashion as it continued to spin slower than before, trying to spot Graveler.

Graveler was now a dark blur, rolling around the field.

We can’t attack it at this rate, I thought. It’s too fast, now.

“Graveler, end this now!” Aurora yelled. “Knock it out!”

“NO!” I shouted. A ball... I thought as an idea began to form. A ball... “Rapid Spin in place as fast as you can!”

A quick blur bounced off of a large rock and disappeared as Graveler flew at Baltoy.

Baltoy spun rapidly, twirling in place. It was nothing but a tiny, twirling tornado blur to my eyes.

Graveler connected with Baltoy.

One of Baltoy’s spinning arms smacked Graveler and Graveler was tossed back!

Graveler cried out in surprise, unraveled from its ball form, a shocked look on its face as it was tossed into a large rock and slid down it, groaning in pain.

Aurora gasped.

June gasped.

I gaped silently. It worked, I thought in awe. Baltoy sent Graveler back, like in a Ping Pong game, or tennis. I can’t believe it!

Baltoy continued to spin faster, but slowed down after a few seconds to a complete stop and stared at Graveler.

Graveler sat on the ground, still groaning. After a moment, it slowly got to its feet and rubbed its head, shaking it hard. It then glared at Baltoy.

Nobody said a word for a very long time in Aurora’s Gym.

Aurora finally inhaled loudly, opened her mouth in a silent snarl, and roared, “STONE EDGE!”

Graveler let out a roar and used Stone Edge, sending multiple rocks flying at Baltoy.

“Baltoy, use Rapid Spin to deflect the attack!” I instructed.

“Tooooooooooy!” Baltoy spun in place, smacking several rocks away as they all collided with it. “Toy! Toy!” Baltoy suddenly started to tilt and sway as it spun. It wasn’t able to deflect all of the rocks! Many rocks collided with its body and it spun much slower. The last rock crashed into Baltoy and it cried out as it was pushed back and fell.

“Roll Out!” Aurora continued.

“GRAVELER!” Graveler rolled at Baltoy.

Toooy!” Baltoy screamed in pain as it was hit, tossed into the air. It bounced on the ground and stayed still, groaning.

“Baltoy!” My teeth clenched angrily. No! “You’re still okay! Get up!! You can’t stay down!!”

Graveler came right back at Baltoy, hitting it harder.

Baltoy wailed even louder as it flew into the air, slammed down, and twitched in pain.

The instant Baltoy landed, Graveler slammed into it again, having already been rolling towards it.

Baltoy was helpless as it took this even more powerful strike.

Baltoooooy!” I was unsure of what we could do. “Baltoy...” I grabbed its Poke Ball in my hand and squeezed it tight. This may be it for Baltoy, I thought. I need to return it for a moment. I can’t let it lose like this. What else can we do to stop Graveler?

Graveler used Roll Out again and Baltoy was tossed back into a boulder. The Rock type spun around in a circle and rolled forward, aiming at Baltoy again as Baltoy leaned against the large boulder it was tossed against.

“Baltoy! If you can, you need to protect yourself!” I let out determinedly. “Confusion!”

Baltoy’s eyes glowed blue the moment I finished my order.

Graveler’s body, now outlined in the blue Confusion, continued to push forward towards Baltoy, but at a much slower pace.

Baltoy was holding Graveler at bay with Confusion!

“It worked!” I celebrated.

“Graveler, take it out, now!” Aurora growled.

Graveler’s body spun faster and started to move forward more. Even though Baltoy was holding Graveler in its Confusion attack, Graveler was still moving at Baltoy and picking up speed. They were only several feet apart.

Baltoy groaned angrily as it struggled to hold back Graveler.

“Baltoy, you can do it!” I encouraged it. “Hold on to that thing! Don’t give in!”

Aurora smiled.

For some reason, seeing her smile made my heart drop.

Aurora suddenly laughed loudly.

My heart was now beating in fear, not liking that she found any of this funny.

When she stopped laughing, she looked directly into my eyes and smiled even wider.

“What’s so funny?” I demanded, glaring at her.

“Baltoy has lost, that’s what,” Aurora laughed. “But what’s funny about that is how clueless you are as to how.”

I stared at Graveler as it continued to roll faster at Baltoy, just barely held back by Baltoy’s Confusion attack. It didn’t look too good, but surely it wasn’t so clearly a lost match. Right? I was now eyeing the Gym Leader suspiciously. What did she have planned? How was she going to win with her Graveler unable to attack at a good speed?

Aurora held her hips as she continued laughing. “There’s absolutely nothing you can do,” she explained. “You’ve been holding Graveler in place, but Graveler has been spinning for too long now. Graveler’s attack has been increased to the max. If you let go of Graveler now, the Roll Out will take Baltoy out without any doubt. And Baltoy barely has to strength to hold on to Graveler. It’s inevitable that Graveler will, one way or another, reach Baltoy and drill into it with Roll Out until Baltoy either lets go or faints, the latter happening no matter what. You’re just prolonging your defeat. There’s nowhere for Baltoy to even run at this point. It’s cornered.” Aurora burst out in loud, annoying laughter.

She’s right, I saw. Baltoy is backed up against the rock. There’s nowhere we can get away from the Roll Out. Graveler’s just too fast now. Too strong. Baltoy can’t win this one. I have to return it. Unless...

Aurora crossed her arms with a sinister smirk and watched as Graveler was now mere inches away from Baltoy.

“Baltoy, get closer to Graveler!” I said firmly.

“Gary? What are you doing?” June gasped.

Aurora’s smile vanished immediately and she raised an eyebrow.

Baltoy listened to me and spun in place, moving towards Graveler.

The instant Baltoy began to spin, Graveler, still held in Baltoy’s Confusion attack, was sent spinning through the air, too! Graveler was taken for a ride through the air and slammed into the rock Baltoy had been leaning on, destroying it completely.

Baltoy spun some more, twirling Graveler around as Graveler neared it.

“So you got out of your little corner you were forced into,” Aurora said calmly. “It still won’t prevent you from your defeat, little boy.”

Graveler was only seconds from connecting with Baltoy!

“BALTOOOOOOOOOOYY!!” I erupted.

“Baltoy! TOOOOOOY!” Its eyes suddenly glowed an even darker, more powerful shade of blue.

Graveler was held in Baltoy’s Psychic type attack and was forced back, the shade of blue around it darkening to match Baltoy’s eyes, just as Graveler was ready to hit it. Graveler was now several feet away, still spinning in place, but slower, no longer as close to Baltoy! It was still being held captive by Baltoy’s Psychic move.

“That’s the way to do it, Baltoy!” I called out.

“Gary!!” June called out to me. “Baltoy just learned how to use Psychic attack!! It’s far more powerful than just Confusion!”

“Really? It did??”

Psychic. This move may lower the opponent’s Special Defense Stat. It is one of the more powerful Psychic type moves.

“Baltoy! This is amazing!” I couldn’t believe this happened! A huge burst of confidence filled me up and I leaped in place.

“Graveler, get out of there!” Aurora stomped her foot in rage.

“NO! Baltoy, use Rapid Spin!” I countered. “In place, right now!”

“Baltooooooooooooooy!” Baltoy spun, still holding onto Graveler, making it spin as well.

“Don’t stop!” I pressed on.

Aurora stared in shock as her Graveler was helplessly whirling in a huge circle, slamming into large rocks on the field, tearing through them.

“Now let go and stop!”

Graveler was released from the Psychic attack and thrown out of the battlefield!

Baltoy stopped spinning and watched its opponent.

Graveler slammed into the wall but immediately zoomed forward, the energy from its stored Roll Out finally being released, and it spun all over the field, rolling right past me and slamming into the wall behind me, and then zooming to the field again, past Baltoy, crashing into the wall behind Aurora. It continuously rolled through the Gym, smashing into opposite ends of the walls outside of the field, denting the stone structure, unable to control itself. Graveler finally started to slow down its rolling and was stopped as it collided with another boulder. It stood up on its feet and gazed around dizzily, stumbling.

It’s completely disoriented from the spin Baltoy made it go through! Even after releasing it and letting it do its Roll Out, Graveler couldn’t control all that built up energy mixed with the ride Baltoy gave it! I congratulated myself. My plan really worked!

Graveler turned around and spotted Baltoy, causing it to growl.

“Graveler, use your damn Double-Edge!” Aurora let out frantically.

Graveler’s body glowed gold as it ran to Baltoy in rage.

“Don’t move!” I commanded.

Baltoy froze.

Graveler, still dizzy, ran right past Baltoy and stumbled out of the field, slamming right into the wall behind me! It fell flat on its back and didn’t move.

I stared at Graveler, waiting for it to get up.

“GRAVELER!” Aurora’s foot slammed down, her face livid. “GET BACK HERE!!”

June covered her mouth, her wide eyes staring at Graveler.

Baltoy spun around to stare at Graveler.

“Graveler is unable to battle!” the referee determined. “Baltoy is the winner!”

“HAHA!” I cheered, leaping into the air. “BALTOY, YOU DID IT!”

“Baltooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooy!!” Baltoy cried happily, spinning in place quickly.

June cheered and clapped loudly.

Aurora glared at me and I continued smiling back.

She didn’t take her eyes off of me as she silently returned Graveler to its Poke Ball. Suddenly, a smirk crossed her lips. “Your Baltoy is very interesting.” She grabbed her final Poke Ball. “But you know what’s next.”

My smile faded and my face hardened. “This is what I’ve been waiting for all year long.”

“Yes. One year later, your long awaited defeat has finally arrived,” Aurora nodded.

“My victory is only one of your Pokemon away! Let’s do this Aurora! Now!”

Aurora’s smirk broadened. “As you wish, little boy.” She threw her Poke Ball at the ground, and it sent out her final Pokemon.

“Kabuuuuuuuutops!” The deadly Pokemon raised its scythes in the air.

“BALTOY!” Baltoy cried out and spun in place, backing away from Kabutops. It was so terrified, it didn’t even spin around Kabutops to greet it.

“Baltoy, stand strong!” I encouraged it. “Don’t back away. Use your Harden attack!”

Baltoy’s body flashed white, raising its Defense.

Aurora stared at Baltoy patiently.

“Baltoy, another Harden! Just keep using it, but stay wary of Kabutops’ scythes!”

Baltoy continuously used Harden as Kabutops kept its eyes on it, Aurora not giving it any orders. It finally stopped flashing after a few more Hardens and stared at Kabutops.

Kabutops hadn’t moved at all.

Aurora hadn’t spoken nor moved, either. She had simply allowed Baltoy to max out its Defense.

I grunted in confusion and bared my teeth. “Baltoy, Psychic, now!”

Baltoy’s eyes glowed blue and Kabutops, now glowing blue, was lifted into the air.

Kabutops didn’t seem to care that it was now hovering.

Baltoy held Kabutops in the air for a moment, Kabutops not doing so much as blinking. Finally, with a sharp little shout, Baltoy tossed back Kabutops.

Kabutops landed and slid on its feet calmly, looked down at itself, and then called out dangerously at Baltoy.

Baltoy whined out in response.

“Psychic didn’t do anything!” I said in shock.

“Gary, don’t lose your cool!” June called. “Psychic did something! Kabutops took some Hit Points! Don’t you lose it now! Keep fighting!”

I nodded at June and turned to Baltoy. “Baltoy, use Earth Power!”

Baltoy’s body glowed gold and the ground began to quake hard.

Cracks in the ground appeared and spread out towards Kabutops, gold streaming through the cracks in the ground.

Kabutops was tossed back but kept its footing, leaning over to hold itself up by one scythe. It raised its scythes again, letting out a challenging yell.

It’s taking damage, I told myself. This isn’t-

“Finish it,” Aurora said in a voice of ice.

Kabutops ran forward fast and raised a scythe. In the blink of an eye, the scythe cut at Baltoy.

My Pokemon was flung back with ease, wailing out until it crashed into my legs.

Whoa!!” I collapsed on top it of Baltoy but quickly crawled off of it. “Baltoy??”

“Baltoy is unable to battle,” the referee stated. “Kabutops is the winner!”

“Baltoy...” I whispered on my knees as I picked it up. “You were great, Baltoy. I knew that taking you with me was the right choice. Thanks so much. Thank you. Thank you, Baltoy.” With a hug, I returned Baltoy to its Poke Ball. My eyes closed as I inhaled deeply, my lips tightening against each other, and I exhaled as I pushed myself up to my feet and faced my opponent bravely.

Kabutops stared at me.

*

Kabutops sliced at Mankey, blood splattering to the floor, Mankey dropping in defeat.

*

Kabutops sliced at Primeape, Primeape dropping, beaten in an instant.

*

Not this time. I leered at Kabutops and grabbed my Poke Ball. “Kingdra, come on out!”

“DOOOOOOO!” Kingdra announced.

“Kabuuuuutops!” Kabutops responded.

Kingdra hopped back in fear, lowering her head, cowering.

“HEY!” I couldn’t believe my Pokemon was acting like this. Not now. All bets were off! We needed all the courage and strength we could bring to this fight! “Cut that out!! There’s nothing to be afraid of! It’s all just scare tactics! Intimidation! We’ll fight and we’ll win this one, but not by being chicken!”

Kingdra turned to me sadly.

I stared back at her, a hard look on my face I could feel was getting angrier by the second.

Kingdra straightened up and nodded, her own face hardening now. “Dooo!”

“Kingdra, go! Agility!” I knew she’d have difficulty using Agility on land as opposed to doing it in the water, but I was counting on Kingdra. I had a idea. She was the one I believed in to be able to beat Kabutops. Kabutops was fast, so Kingdra using Agility was a must.

Kingdra hopped forward frantically, flopping as she moved as fast as she could away from Kabutops.

Kabutops and its Trainer squinted at her in pity.

“Don’t let up! Just use Agility and keep up the pace! Go! Go! Go!”

Kingdra hopped along, moving faster over time, bouncing from place to place.

“This must be a joke,” Aurora said, cautiously eyeing Kingdra. “Take no chances! Finish this match!”

“Kabutops!” Kabutops shot forward at Kingdra, one scythe raised.

“You can’t stop now! MOOOOOOOOOOOVE!

Kingdra kept hopping around, faster, running short on breath.

Kabutops was right behind her, ready to strike!

“Use Yawn!”

Kingdra stopped and fired multiple bubbles at Kabutops, but Kabutops swung at the bubbles rapidly, popping them all.

It bought us some time, I thought, expecting Kabutops to do that. “Yawn!”

Kingdra used Yawn again.

“Now, Agility again! Don’t you stop moving!”

Kabutops swung at the bubbles once again as Kingdra hopped along, moving faster, but still not fast enough. Kabutops leaped into the air and raised a scythe, ready to swipe down and finish off Kingdra with its deadly attack.

“Smokescreen!” I reached out for my Pokemon as Kabutops did the same.

Kingdra sprayed a cloud of smoke to cover the field.

Kabutops cried out and disappeared in the smoke.

“Keep up the Agility!”

“Kabutops, Swords Dance!” Aurora spoke.

A strong gust of wind blew against Aurora and I and the smoke was blown away!

As the smoke vanished, I saw Kabutops, its arms crossed in front of its chest, spinning in place, its scythes glowing blue. Kabutops stopped spinning once the smoke was completely gone. It uncrossed its scythes and they returned to their normal color as it stared at Kingdra, still hopping around the rocks on the field.

“HURRY UP!” Aurora barked.

Kabutops ran and swiped at Kingdra.

Kingdra vanished into thin air!

“Yeah!” I said happily, my heart now beating sharply with excitement. “Finally!

Kingdra’s Speed was right where I wanted it to be. She reappeared in a new spot and kept vanishing and appearing again all over the place!

“Keep going, Kingdra!” I couldn’t stop smiling.

Kabutops was so fast, staying close to Kingdra, but every swipe it took at her missed as she vanished with blinding speed, just barely avoiding the deadly scythes of Kabutops. Kabutops swung again, missed, and its scythe crashed to the rock floor, raising dust with a loud collision, but Kabutops was unfazed and continued after Kingdra, hunting it down.

My heart was racing. Damn, I thought. I thought it might get stuck. That didn’t work. But we can still pull this off. I think... “Keep it going, Kingdra! You’re looking great! Go, girl!”

“Aqua Jet!” Aurora’s voice held loads of impatience as she tried to keep her eyes on Kingdra.

Kabutops was coated in a stream of water and it flew at Kingdra just as she reappeared several feet away, colliding into her.

Kingdra cried out in shock.

“NOOOO! Kingdra, get up!”

Kingdra shook her head but looked weakened.

No, not like this. “Hydro Pump!”

Kingdra used Hydro Pump on Kabutops.

Aurora didn’t say a word.

Kabutops raised a scythe in front of it, and the Hydro Pump hit it, breaking in two upon contact with the scythe! Kingdra’s Hydro Pump split in two and sprayed past Kabutops on either side of it!

“No!” I gasped. “That’s-!”

“Now!” Aurora spoke strictly.

Kabutops ran at Kingdra as soon as Hydro Pump ended and slashed at her.

“KINGDRAAAAAAAAAA!!” I screamed out desperately.

“DOOOOOOO!” Kingdra flipped around and turned her back to Kabutops in fear.

Kabutops slashed into Kingdra’s back.

The blood splattered the floor immediately.

KINGDRAAAAAAAAAAA!!” My own back arched watching Kingdra’s do the same. No. Kingdra... I groaned painfully. Not again...

*

Mankey dropped...

*

Primeape fell facedown...

*

No. No. No. NO!

Kingdra hunched over as blood rapidly slid down her back, spilling to the floor.

I was breathing heavily. This can’t be it, again, I told myself, shaking my head. Kingdra, this isn’t over. This...

Kingdra groaned, her face falling to the ground.

I can’t let her fight, I knew. Not like this. She did her best. This is just wrong. Kabutops is just... too much...

The referee stepped a little bit closer to Kingdra, watching her. But he didn’t need to.

I knew what I had to do. We lose again... I accepted. Maybe... this just isn’t the Gym for me after all. If this is the risk and pain my Pokemon have to go through, then I won’t be coming back. I can’t allow my Pokemon to go through this any further. It isn’t worth it. I can’t keep losing here and trying again, putting my Pokemon through this continuously. No way.

Kingdra groaned and straightened up, looking up at me with teary eyes.

I nodded. “Kingdra, that’s enough.” I raised her Poke Ball.

“DOOOOO!”

A spray of water hit me in the face. I choked and coughed, wiping my face. I really wasn’t a big fan of water being sprayed at me, especially in the face, and I glared at Kingdra for doing it. “What was that?!” I snapped.

“Doo! Doooo! Doo Dooo Doo Dooo!” Kingdra exclaimed and turned around to face Kabutops. She blasted the surprised shellfish with Hydro Pump.

Kabutops cried out and was laid out on its back.

“Hey!” Aurora was startled by this action.

“Gary! Kingdra said-!” June started.

“I know, June!” I interrupted, raising my hand out behind me and staring at Kingdra with determination. “I’m her Trainer. There are some things you just understand from your Pokemon.” My hand lowered and my eyes tightened on my opponent. “Aurora!”

Aurora turned to me, her mouth hanging open, stunned.

“I’m ready to win my final Badge,” I told her solemnly. “I hope you’re ready to defend it.”

Her eyes tightened on Kingdra and her mouth closed.

“Doooooo...” Kingdra growled at her as Kabutops sat up, shaking its head.

As Aurora looked back to me, she made my eyes widen in surprise as she smiled! It wasn’t a cold, mean smile, but it almost looked like a gentle, competitively friendly smile. “You’ve done well. But you’ve also gone far enough, little boy.”

“I’m no little boy,” I waved her comment off. “I’m on my way to being a Pokemon Master!” I pointed at her sharply. “You’re on my path, and I’m not letting you block me any further!”

“Then defeat me for a change!” Aurora snarled.

“Right!” I nodded.

Kabutops was on its feet, eyes on Kingdra.

Kingdra was bleeding heavily, hunched over and heaving, but not breaking eye contact with Kabutops.

This has to end now, I told myself. I can’t have her battling like this. I won’t!

“Finish it!” Aurora ordered.

“Dodge!”

Kabutops swiped at Kingdra, but Kingdra vanished and appeared behind Kabutops. Kabutops immediately turned around and faced her. Its scythes raised high.

“Ice Beam, now! Aim for the scythes!”

Kabutops’ scythe swung down.

With a loud cry, Kingdra used Ice Beam at one of the scythes, surrounding it in ice.

Kabutops looked up at the scythe, shocked. “Kabu?” Its scythe was now frozen in ice!

“Now, the other one!” I continued.

Kingdra used Ice Beam on the other scythe.

Kabutops now had two frozen scythes! It lowered them and looked at them in confusion as they glistened and gleamed.

“How kind of you, little boy,” Aurora said calmly.

“What?” I asked, afraid of her response.

Aurora’s teeth gleamed as she grinned at me. “Now we have some new tools to defeat you with. Let’s defeat Kingdra in style.”

“Kabutops...” Kabutops said in a low voice.

I stared at its frozen scythes and gasped as I realized what Aurora was talking about.

Kabutops scythes were frozen, but still usable. In fact, they were arguably more usable than ever before. The Ice Beam had formed around the scythes perfectly. Now, Kabutops’ scythes were sharper than ever, and coated in cold ice!

“What have I done?” I whispered, swaying in place.

“What are you waiting for?!” Aurora screamed manically. “Finish it!!

Kingdra stood, frozen in fear, blood leaking from her back continuously as she heaved air in and out.

“GARY!” June yelled out. “What are you doing?!

Shut up, June!! I shrieked in my head, closing my eyes in fury and clenching my fists and teeth. I know I screwed up!! I get it!! Just shut up!! You’re not helping!!!

Gary, attack again!!” June screeched. “Snap out of it!!

“Huh?” I said in confusion, surprised she wasn’t ridiculing me. I turned to her angry face.

“TOPS!” Kabutops yelled, grabbing back my attention. It slashed again at Kingdra, cutting into her face, blood splashing everywhere.

Kingdra cried out and fell.

KINGDRA!!” I took a step forward. That’s it. I’ve had enough. I gripped her Poke Ball in my hand and extended it.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

At June’s bellow, I dropped my arm and turned to her.

June had leaped from the bleachers and ran closer to me, wearing rage. “You idiot! FIGHT!! Kingdra isn’t out yet! You just don’t get it, do you...” She shook her head. “Don’t you dare give up!” she growled. “Not now, Gary. This is your only chance! THINK!

My mouth was hanging open, taken back by this. What has gotten into her? I looked down at Kingdra.

To my surprise, Kingdra had her head up in the air, forcing herself to keep fighting. Her face had a huge gash in it, blood staining the floor and rolling down her body. But Kingdra’s face was stronger than I’d ever seen it before. She didn’t want to throw in the towel, yet. She clearly desired to keep on battling. But to what extent?

I won’t let her die in this stupid battle, I thought angrily.

“Gary!” June ranted.

“June, what is wrong with you?” I threw my hands into the air. “I’m not gonna get my Pokemon killed over this!”

FIIIIIGHT!!” June insisted. “You had it! You were right there!! I know you. You’d rather figure this win on your own. And you deserve to! You can! Don’t stop! Keep it up! You had them! Don’t be afraid!”

My eyes squinted in confusion and turned back to Kingdra.

“Fools,” Aurora muttered, shaking her head. “Put it down if you must, Kabutops.”

“KABUUUUU!” Kabutops raised its ice covered, sharp scythes into the air to finish the battle.

My eyeballs nearly popped! I gasped! “Of course!” I realized. “Kingdra! ICE BEAM!”

“Dooo? DOOOOOOOOOOO!!” Kingdra used another Ice Beam.

One of Kabutops scythes were hit and became coated in a thick block of ice!

“Again!”

“DOOOOOO!” Kingdra used Ice Beam again on the scythe.

The ice forming around the scythe became thicker, heavier, and less detailed. Soon, the ice around the scythe was no longer sharp. Kabutops’ scythe crashed to the ground heavily, a large square block of ice around it!

“Oh, my GOSH!” Aurora’s face went ghostly white and fear was strong in her wide eyes!

Kabutops struggled to lift its scythe, but it was no use. It angrily turned to Kingdra and raised the other scythe.

“DOOOOOO!” Kingdra used Ice beam on the other scythe and formed a fresh block of ice around it.

A moment later, the second scythe was weighed down.

Aurora watched in awe.

My heart beat frantically, but I managed a calm smile. “Focus Energy!”

Kingdra breathed hard as her body started to glow white.

Kabutops struggled hard to lift its scythes, but they didn’t lift an inch.

“KABUTOPS!” Aurora was practically pleading now. “Slash! Aqua Jet?? Facade??!”

Kabutops grunted, groaned, struggled, its body covered in water before splashing to the ground around it. Its body glowed orange at one point before that too vanished. Kabutops was struggling to use its other moves but was held by the ice keeping it down!

“HYDRO PUMP!”

Kingdra inhaled deeply. “DOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” Kingdra blasted Kabutops off of its feet and out of the field!

Kabutops slammed into the wall behind Aurora. As it hit, its ice covered scythes lifted up quickly, slammed into its own face, and the ice around them smashed. Kabutops slumped against the wall and didn’t move.

“Kabutops...” Aurora said in a low voice, her voice trembling.

I let out a low breath.

Kingdra was hunched over, blood still running out of her back and face, looking ready to collapse, her body shaking.

The referee took a few steps over to Kabutops, disbelief on his face.

“Tops...” Kabutops fell over, its head in its lap.

The referee stood up straight. “Kabutops is unable to battle. Kingdra is the winner! I declare Gary from Pallet Town to be the winner of this battle!”

I dropped to my knees, hard. Pain radiated throughout my entire body, making me flinch sharply.

Aurora didn’t move, her eyes on Kabutops, her mouth wide open.

The referee turned to me but didn’t say anything.

The Gym was filled with complete silence.

After an endless amount of time, Aurora’s shoulders slumped. She silently returned Kabutops to its Poke Ball. The Gym Leader held the Poke Ball up to her face and stared at it. She finally placed it on her belt, but didn’t turn around.

I let out an exhausted, quick sigh.

At my sound, June’s feet could be heard hurrying towards me. “GARY!” She wrapped me in a very tight hug, snatching my breath.

I was too stunned to move. I didn’t take my eyes off of Aurora.

Aurora still had her back to me.

You did it, Gary!” June echoed out in the silent room.

“Dooo...” Kingdra collapsed.

I gasped and broke free of June’s grasp.

Aurora and the referee turned around to Kingdra.

I stopped just feet away from her, standing in her blood that was spread out all over the Gym floor. “Kingdra, I’m getting you immediate help!” I returned her to her Poke Ball and immediately left the Gym, running for the Pokemon Center.

*

June and I sat in silence in the Pokemon Center.

Kingdra and Baltoy were with Nurse Joy and Chansey in the back room.

I knew the healing process wasn’t going to just be so quick and simple. We won, I thought. But at what cost...? I covered my face in my hands and let out a long breath, rubbing my face. I went too far. This journey has gone far enough. My Kingdra could have been killed. What if she was? I’m so close to Pallet Town. Maybe I should just stop here and just end this madness. Why put my Pokemon through so much pain? I love them too much. I sighed.

The doors at the back of the Pokemon Center opened.

June and I leaped up at the sound and saw Nurse Joy and Chansey step through, blank looks on their faces.

The front doors to the Pokemon Center opened, and June and I quickly turned again. We both turned away, looking back to Nurse Joy, and then gasped, doing a double take as Aurora stepped inside!

There were several people inside of the Pokemon Center, and every one of them turned upon realizing that Aurora had entered.

Nobody said a word.

A stern look on her face, she stopped at the doors and looked around at everyone. Her eyes landed on me and stopped. For a moment, we did nothing but stare. FInally, she walked over, stopping right in front of me. Aurora’s hand extended in a fist.

I stared at her hand and looked up at her, a confused look on my face.

She grimaced at me. “You are not a little boy any longer, Gary. You earned this.”

I was too frightened to move.

“Take it, or I’ll simply leave, and you’ll have to battle me for it again,” Aurora said firmly.

It was as if a jolt of lightning had hit me. I lifted my hand.

Aurora opened her hand and something fell into my palm. “Congratulations, Gary. You have surpassed me.”

The entire Pokemon Center gasped loudly.

I jumped from the sound, feeling jittery at the moment.

Aurora ignored the sudden noise. “If I may say so, I am proud of you.” Aurora backed up a few feet and bowed to me.

I instinctively bowed back. “Thank you, Aurora.”

“I still have much to learn,” Aurora said. “There are far too many Trainers on this planet, and evidently in the Kanto region alone, for me to think I’m better than them all. I have kept myself in Pewter City, but perhaps I’d be a better Trainer if I took my Pokemon out of here and we traveled for a while. Meet incredible Trainers with inspiring battle styles like yourself.” Aurora’s gaze never left me. “For now, though, I thank you, Gary.” Aurora turned to June and stared at her.

June stared back fearfully.

Aurora continued looking at June, finally turning around and walking to the front doors of the Pokemon Center.

June stood up quickly. “Miss Aurora!” June cried nervously.

Aurora stopped, but didn’t turn around.

“Miss Aurora,” June repeated. “I apologize for what I said. Your Pokemon are fantastic. They’re strong, and they love you. And you love them. Believe it or not, I can see it, clear as day. I had no right to speak to you how I did. When I saw just how much love there was between you and your Graveler and Kabutops, I really felt disgusted with myself. All I can say is, I apologize, Miss Aurora.”

Aurora turned her head and stared hard towards June. Without a word, she turned around and exited the Pokemon Center.

June looked after Aurora as the doors closed.

I took a shaky breath and looked down at the Badge Aurora had given me. It was all gray and kind of resembled a diamond.

The Boulder Badge.

I now had all eight Badges and could compete in the Pokemon League... I could have passed out right there. Before I could move, everyone in the Pokemon Center surrounded me, crying out excitedly.

“That’s it! The Boulder Badge!”

“Oh, my gosh! He beat Aurora!”

“Impossible! She’s undefeatable! She’s the best in Kanto!”

“How did you do it?”

“Her record is broken!”

“That Badge is a fake!”

“There’s no way!”

“Kabutops is invincible!!”

“Who are you?”

I wasn’t able to answer the swarm of questions that engulfed me. I barely heard them and kept my eyes on my final Badge.

The Boulder Badge.

*

“June. Charizard. Ivysaur. Primeape. Porygon-Z. Baltoy. And Kingdra,” I said, my eyes moving carefully from each one. I held up my Badge case. “We finally have earned all eight Badges and can compete in the Pokemon League!”

Nearly everybody cheered.

Ivysaur glared at me without a word.

Kingdra and Baltoy were both okay, though Kingdra wore a lot of gauze around the middle of her back and face, stitches underneath them. Nurse Joy said Kingdra took the impacts pretty well, considering, and that she should stay out of battle for at least a couple of weeks before another checkup.

I was just slightly surprised that the Nurse Joy was the same one from my first visit to Pewter City, and when she also remembered who I was, she was also surprised.

Now June, me, and my Pokemon stood in a familiar area. It was the place I had taken Charmander, Weedle, Primeape, Metapod, and Hoothoot to train after our second loss to Aurora. It was also where Weedle evolved into Kakuna. When I had gotten here, I teared up instantly, thinking of my Beedrill. We’ll win the entire Pokemon League for Beedrill, too, were my immediate first thoughts as I stared at the area. For Aly... and for Beedrill. I had sent out all of my Pokemon, and June was standing far away, eyes on Porygon-Z.

Porygon-Z had immediately screeched upon exiting, deafening everyone. It then proceeded to greet Baltoy by staring at it for several minutes, keeping its eyes on it as Baltoy spun around Porygon-Z in circles.

Baltoy finally stopped spinning around Porygon-Z and the two just focused on each other, not moving.

Porygon-Z had then proceeded to use Thunder on Baltoy!

Baltoy, part Ground type, was unaffected, and proceeded to spin in place rapidly as the electricity Porygon-Z used on it twirled around its body and a beautiful show of sparking, spinning lights danced around, a lightning tornado rising from around Baltoy and extending into the sky!

It was like a celebration!

Even Ivysaur had been staring in amazement at the scene.

After a while, I gently cleared my throat and Baltoy stopped spinning.

Porygon-Z continued to shock Baltoy, but now that Baltoy was no longer spinning, it turned around and paid attention.

It was now my turn to speak, and I began by showing all of our hard work, holding up my Badge case with the eight Badges we had earned together. I lowered the case and looked down at the eight Badges.

The Dimensia Badge from Shane.

The Thunder Badge from June.

The Rainbow Badge from Vincent.

The Marsh Badge from... Kadabra.

The Mephitic Badge from Ozne.

The Obfuscous Badge from Cleopatra.

The Ascent Badge from Gale.

The Boulder Badge from Aurora...

I had won all eight Badges to compete in the Pokemon League.

No....

We won all eight Badges to compete in the Pokemon League!” I yelled joyfully.

Everyone but Ivysaur cheered again.

Ivysaur had laid down on the ground and closed her eyes rudely.

I sighed in disappointment, but turned to everyone else with a smile. “Thank you all. Including you, June.” I walked over to her and hugged her tightly. “Thanks for believing in me.”

“Oh!” June gasped. She immediately hugged me back.

I backed away from her after a minute, having to pull away as she kept on hugging me. “Ivysaur, thank you,” I told her, kneeling down and reaching out to pet her head.

Ivysaur growled, her eyes on me, stopping me.

I let out an annoyed sigh, not wanting to let Ivysaur ruin my happiness, and went over to Baltoy. I hugged it. “Baltoy, I knew I could count on you. Thank you so much for your hard work.”

Baltoy cried pleasantly. As I let go of it, it spun in place quickly.

I moved over to Kingdra and hugged her more carefully. “I’m so glad you’re better,” I told her, my eyes on her. “And I’m sorry. That match was a bit too much.”

Kingdra pressed against me, shaking her head. “Dooooooo!”

I rubbed her head and smiled as she looked up at me before getting up and moving over to Porygon-Z. “Porygon-Z, you’ve been an amazing friend and a great battler on the team,” I said, extending my arms and wrapping it in a hug.

Porygon-Z started to drastically shake in my arms. I let go with a start and Porygon-Z started to tumble in place in the air, sparking with electricity.

I smiled and moved over to Primeape.

“APE!” Primeape screeched, and leaped into the air, wrapping his arms around my neck, squeezing hard.

I choked hard but managed to laugh, hugging him back. “Primeape. One of my oldest friends. Thank you for everything. I love you so much, man.”

“Ape! Ape!” Primeape held on, not letting go of me.

I walked over to Charizard and hugged him, Primeape still clinging to me, and laughed. “Charizard!”

Charizard roared loudly.

I looked into his eyes.

Charizard looked back, his mouth open in a smile.

“We’ve come a long way, huh?” I said. “Now look where we are. Eight Badges in and ready to win the entire Pokemon League. You already?” I shouted eagerly.

Other than Ivysaur, every showed support at my words.

I smiled at all of my friends.

Charizard.

Primeape.

Porygon-Z.

Baltoy.

Kingdra.

Ivysaur.

June.

We all had earned these eight Badges.

Together.

Our next stop now was Pallet Town.

My smile widened as I realized that my eye had finally stopped twitching.

I knew it’d return soon enough...

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