Opening The Bug Gates
I scooped a few large spoonfuls of cereal and milk into my mouth and chewed eagerly, swallowing within seconds and scooping up more. While chewing, I scooped even more food from my bowl before I’d swallowed the current mush in my mouth, chewing on the new food sitting on my tongue.
“Gary, please eat slowly,” June said with worry. “She isn’t going anywhere. Take your time.”
I ignored June and continued to eat as quickly as I could.
June sighed and lowered her eyes to her remaining piece of toast, picked it up, and ate it slowly. She then picked up a small carton of milk and drank it down.
I slurped the milk from my bowl and placed it on my tray. Grabbing my plastic cup of orange juice, I drank it down hurriedly and let it drop into the tray. “Let’s go!” I said eagerly, staring at June for a second before I stood up and ran to place my tray with the other dirty ones, stacked the bowl with the other used ones, sat my spoon in a container full of stained utensils, and threw the cup in the recycle section for plastics.
“I knew you’d be like this,” June said as she put her trash where it belonged. “That’s why I didn’t bother getting a lot of food this morning. We’ve been here a good two minutes and you’re already done.”
“Yeah, yeah. Let’s go.” Impatiently, I ran up the stairway to leave the cafeteria of the Pokemon Center, June hurrying behind me, and pushed open the door, stepping into the lobby of the building.
A few people were sitting around by themselves and gazed up at me for a brief second before looking away.
Sunlight shined in from the windows. It was cool inside of the building with the air conditioning on.
Nurse Joy was reading a newspaper, a form of pure beauty and perfection right before my eyes.
I walked towards her, smiling as I inhaled silently but deeply, mentally building myself up as I puffed out my chest.
“Oh, great...” June mumbled.
I stopped at the desk and Nurse Joy looked up at me with wide, warm eyes. “Oh, hello, Gary! How was breakfast?”“It was okay, I guess,” I said, my smile fading and my eyes lowering.
“Oh? Why’s that?” Nurse Joy asked with concern.
“I was quite lonely. The food was fine, but it’s always nice to have someone there with you,” I answered casually, disguising the terror pumping from out of my heart and through my veins, yet encouraged by... something to keep speaking smooth and calmly. “Someone nice. Someone beautiful. That special someone who draws you in and you can just tell that you are meant to be.” I heard a strange noise near me, but I ignored it, lost in Nurse Joy’s eyes, the sea if ever I saw it. “Someone with conversation. Someone with an incredible life they’re currently living and isn’t aimlessly wandering the Earth.”
The noise got louder, and Nurse Joy seemed to look around for the source of the noise as she turned red from my comments.
“That person is clearly you, Nurse Joy. A beauty living the greatest, most selfless life someone could be: caring for Pokemon. What could be in the news today? I wonder. You most certainly know, and I would love to know what has your attention held so captive.” I smiled huge, tightening the muscles throughout my entire body to keep my nervousness at a standstill.
Nurse Joy smiled, but then gazed down sadly. “Well, unfortunately, it’s Team Solace...”
My smile faded. “Team Solace?”
Nurse Joy nodded, her eyes closed. She opened them to gaze at the paper. “A large number of Ariados were found in houses, under some form of Confusion. They were attacking people, not aware of what they were doing. Once the Confusion wore off, it was complete mayhem. People were running around in a total panic with large flamethrowers or other weapons, attacking the Ariados. The Ariados fought back, in self defense now, and things just got even worse. Among quite a few other losses, and many, many injured, it seems two children and a married man who had kids of his own were killed during the chaos. The two kids were killed by Ariados. The man was killed during the fighting between the people and the Ariados. Right now, it’s being assumed this entire thing was triggered by Team Solace. They say they have evidence, but it hasn’t been released yet and the case is still under investigation.”
I let my breath out slowly. “That’s terrible...”
I placed my hands on the desk and leaned closer to Nurse Joy, staring deeply into her eyes. “Perhaps we should talk about this tragedy together over a little brunch? Or maybe move on from that topic and enjoy a nice meal to take your mind of it!” The strange noise returned without me even realizing it had stopped until I heard it again. “I was on my way to battle for a Badge, but that can wait. You and I should-” The noise in my ear became a loud, unmistakable growl. I turned around in confusion and gasped in fright!
June was glaring at me, her face less than an inch away, a look on her face saying she would tear through my neck with her teeth with ease, her hands reaching for my throat. “You little... GAAHH!!” She wrapped her hands around my neck and forced me backwards. “You rush me because you’re so eager for your stupid Gym battle and now you wanna postpone it?!!” June wasn’t quite choking me, but she held a strong grip.
“June, take it easy,” I choked out. “We’ll just go to the Gym now.”
“And you were lonely? LONELY in the cafeteria???” June went on.
I grabbed her wrists and removed them from my throat forcefully. My hands quickly went for her shoulders and I held her away from me as she reached out again. “June! I... I... I only meant... I...”
Footsteps approached June and I.
“Well, I see my little Sugar has a thing for the pink haired girls, huh?” a voice spoke.
June froze, her eyes widening at me.
I gave her the same stare.
We both turned.
Courtney ran her hand through her pink hair and fluttered her eyes at me. “Is it just the hair that does it for you, Sugar Lumps?” she asked teasingly, gently swaying her hips to one side and then the other.
June and I released each other, staring at Courtney in shock.
“Maybe if you did something with your hair, Gary would be fawning for you, too, June,” Courtney said smugly.
“YOU!” Rage took over me instantly and I went straight for her, grabbing her roughly by the shoulders and shaking her hard.
Courtney screamed in shock. She angrily tried to shove me off of her, but I dug my fingers into the shoulders of her white tank top. “Stop it!” she cried out angrily. “Get off of me! What do you think you’re doing??!”
“I can’t believe you got me and June lost you liar!” I shouted furiously. “You nearly ruined everything I worked so hard at!” I shook her even harder and then shoved her back.
She stumbled several feet back in her pink sneakers and short pink shorts. Her hair was in her face and she quickly brushed it back into place with her hands. She glared at me, but it soon turned into a smirk as she saw my angry face. She giggled and rubbed her shoulders where I had grabbed her. “Don’t worry, Sugar. You don’t need to apologize for that. I like it rough.”
I sneered in disgust as I held back the urge to charge at her and shove her to the floor.
June growled by my side.
“What is wrong with you?” I snapped. “Do you know how long it took us to get to Pewter City? Time’s almost up for the Pokemon League and I still have another Badge to obtain!”
“Another?” Courtney asked.
“Yes. I have one more to go!”
“Then my job is complete,” Courtney winked.
“That’s right.” Courtney stepped up to me. She stopped about an inch away from my face, her face close to mine, smiling at me with her pretty, soft lips so close to my own, a sweet aroma of flowers and something sugary wafting from her body. “I’m winning the Pokemon League. There is no doubt about that. The less competition I have, the better. I don’t have to prove anything. I know I’m the best. I’m just shortening this long, drawn out competition one little puny Trainer. You weren’t gonna win, anyway. This competition belongs to me, Sugar.” She leaned in a little closer and gently nuzzled her nose against mine.
“UGH!” I yelled out, backing up and wiping at my face as she backed up quickly, giggling. “You almost got June killed because of your stupid prank!”
Courtney glanced at June and then turned back to me. “She looks fine to me.”
“She was poisoned by a Foongus! Her Pokemon just barely saved her life!”
Courtney quickly glanced over at June again and then back to me. She waved at June. “You’re fine, June. I’m glad to see you’re okay. But, really, it’s not my fault if you’re being careless,” she laughed lightly.
“Careless?!” June shrieked.
Courtney turned away and headed for the front doors.
June stomped past me and headed for Courtney. “I’ll show you careless! I’ve had just about eno-”
I grabbed June’s shoulders and held her back.
“Let go of me, Gary!” June struggled against me.
Courtney reached the doors and turned to me. She smiled. “You’ll never get your eighth Badge in time, Gary. Root for me in the stands, though, okay, Sugar Lumps?” She winked and blew me a kiss. Turning, Courtney left the Pokemon Center.
June seemed more infuriated than before and stomped on the ground, screaming in a rage, swinging her arms around, trying to break free from me.
“Cut it out, June! Just let her go! It’s not worth it!”
“Did you hear her, Gary?” June started struggling less. “Get off of me!!” I let her go and she turned to face me, breathing heavily.
“June, just forget about her. I’m angry, too. But beating her up isn’t gonna do anything.”
“It’ll make me feel better!”
“Listen, let’s just get to the Gym right now and we can worry about Courtney later,” I suggested.
“You’re more concerned with Nurse Joy!” June bared her teeth threateningly.
I sighed and looked down. “June, please. Let’s just wait for our Pokemon to finish eating and head over to the Gym. I don’t want you and Courtney fighting.”
“Why? You think I can’t take her?”
“It’s not that, June!” I said loudly. “Will you just relax and think sensibly for a minute?” I glanced around to see that the few people in the Pokemon Center were staring at us. My eyes returned to June. “I’m sorry for what I said earlier, June. I didn’t mean it. I-”
“Whatever, Gary,” June interrupted. “Let’s just get our Pokemon and go get your stupid Badge.” She looked to the floor, away from me.
“Chansey!” Chansey sang out from near me, making me cry out in surprise. She held up a tray with six Poke Balls.
“Chansey! Thank you!” I smiled and took my Poke Balls back.
“Chansey!” A second Chansey arrived holding out a large bowl with several Poke Balls in them.
“Thank you, Chansey,” June said with a smile, and opened her bag.
Chansey dumped the Poke Balls inside and June zipped up her bag. The Chansey walked back over to opposite ends of the desk, Nurse Joy behind it, all of them smiling at us gently.
“Guess our Pokemon are ready,” June said softly, lowly. “Let’s get to that Gym, Gary.”
“Byyye, Nurse-OOOOWW!!!!! HEY LET GO!!” I had tried to run up to Nurse Joy to say goodbye but was stopped by a sharp pull on my ear as June pulled me out the building.
Nurse Joy stared in shock, her Chansey covering their eyes.
The few people in the building were shaking their heads or stifling laughter.
June dragged me out of the building, finally releasing my ear.
I stood up straight and rubbed it, scowling at her. “Fine, fine. Let’s go.”
It was much hotter outside than it was inside of the Pokemon Center. The sun was beaming down right on me, making me extra hot and uncomfortable.
I took off my jacket and slung it over my shoulder as June and I walked silently to the Gym, arriving there fairly shortly.
Viridian City Pokemon Gym
My eyes were glued to the painted words on the door. I could see the Bug type Pokemon, Ninjask, overpowering my Fire and Flying type Pokemon, Charizard, so effortlessly. Ninjask was so fast, I remembered. It was untouchable. It was just too fast to be hit. Double Team made things worse. Swords Dance and then, finally, Screech, was the final touch before ending it all with Slash. It was all so perfectly executed. I have to overcome that...
“Gary, do you know what three Pokemon you’ll be using?” June asked me.
I looked at her from the corner of my eye.
June was staring right at the Gym door.
Without answering her, I knocked on the door.
The door opened and Tera stood a couple of feet away. She was wearing a light blue jacket, unzipped, over a white shirt, tucked into a light blue skirt that ended right above her light blue sandals. Butterfree was perched on her right shoulder as always. The unbelievable Gym Leader shook her head, not taking her eyes off of me, and turned, disappearing into the darkness of the Gym.
June and I followed after her.
The referee stood outside of the battlefield, hands crossed in front of him, standing in his black suit and sunglasses.
Tera walked over to her side of the battlefield.
I turned to June as we stood by the door to the Gym. “Just grab the last three.”
June hesitated for a moment, pondering my words. At last, her eyes lit up and she nodded, reaching towards me.
In the next moment, we walked together to my side of the battlefield and June grabbed my shoulder.
I stared her in the eyes.
“We’ll make it in plenty of time,” June told me, staring at me. “Just take your time with this.” She walked away and took a seat in the bleachers.
“Gary, I swear you’re lucky I’m a Gym Leader.” Tera’s accent was apparent and pleasing to my ears despite coming from the mouth of the foul Trainer they were attached to. “If I could choose to not battle you, I would.”
“Enough talk!” I called out. “It’s time to battle, Tera!”
“This is a Gym battle between Viridian City Gym Leader, Tera, and Gary from Pallet Town!” the referee called. “This will be a three-on-three Pokemon battle. No time limit. Only the challenger is allowed to substitute Pokemon. The first Trainer whose Pokemon are defeated, loses. May the battle... begin!”
“GO!” Tera shouted, and pointed at me.
Butterfree flew from her shoulder, crying excitedly.
“Charizard, you’re up first!” I threw his Poke Ball strongly with a sharp grunt.
Charizard roared and landed heavily.
“That Butterfree,” I muttered. “Charizard, Fire Spin!”
Charizard let loose flames at Butterfree with a huge roar.
“Whirlwind!” Tera ordered.
Butterfree used Whirlwind and they collided with the flames. The fire was pushed back as the strong Whirlwind took over and blew it away completely!
Charizard was hit with the wind and started to glow red, returning to his Poke Ball.
A white beam shot from one of the Poke Balls on my waist and Ivysaur came out!
“Ivysaur!” Ivysaur looked around, stopping on Butterfree and growling. She cried out at the Bug and ran forward at him, using Double-Edge.
“Again!” Tera spoke.
Butterfree flapped his wings as Ivysaur leaped into the air to tackle him.
Ivysaur froze in midair and glowed red, returning to her Poke Ball, and from a white beam, out came my final Pokemon.
“Freeeeeee!” my Butterfree said happily, staring at Tera’s Butterfree.
Tera’s eyes widened in shock. “A Butterfree.” She turned to me with hardened eyes. “You sicken me! You’re still afraid of Bugs, and yet you own one!”
“You’re a Bug type GYM LEADER and yet you hate Bugs!” I countered.
“Your three Pokemon have been chosen for you, now,” Tera said, shaking her head. “The battle can now officially begin.”
“The battle began way before that,” I told Tera with a smirk.
Seeing my smile, her face turned to confusion.
I motioned towards my belt that contained only three Poke Balls.
Tera stared at my belt for a moment, still confused.
“Hiiii!” June smiled and waved, holding up my remaining three Poke Balls I had told her to take once we had entered the Gym.
Tera’s eyes widened as she realized what was going on.
“This battle won’t be a surprise this time,” I told Tera. “I chose my three I’m using, and those three are winning this match!”
Tera’s lips tightened and moved to the side as her eyebrows narrowed and eyes hardened. “I still know your team. I still hold the advantage.”
I opened my mouth to reply.
“OH MY GOSH!” June shrieked, silencing me.
Tera, me, the referee, and the two Butterfree turned to June.
“Are one of these things Porygon-Z??!?!?!?!”
I covered my face with the palm of my hand and let out a sigh.
June pushed all three Poke Balls away from her and scooted away from them.
“Idiot,” I muttered. I turned back to the battle. “Aerial Ace!”
“FRREEEEEEEE!” Butterfree zoomed at Tera’s Butterfree, low to the ground. Her speed picked up and she slammed into Tera’s Butterfree.
Tera’s Butterfree cried out and tumbled through the air.
“Now, Gust attack!” I added.
Butterfree flapped her wings and a strong gust of wind smacked Tera’s Butterfree around helplessly.
Tera’s Butterfree hit the ground as Tera eyed my Butterfree. Finally, she looked down at her own Butterfree, who flapped his wings and got back into the air. “Roost!”
Tera’s Butterfree was outlined in a white glow as he gently landed on the ground, his Flying typing temporarily gone as he recovered his health.
“This is our chance! Aerial Ace again!” I told my Pokemon.
Butterfree flew at Tera’s.
Tera’s Butterfree’s eyes glowed light blue and my Butterfree froze in midair, outlined in blue. “FREEEE!” Tera’s Butterfree shouted, and used his Psychic powers to slam my Butterfree into the ground repeatedly.
My Butterfree cried out helplessly, unable to fight back as Tera’s Butterfree held her captive, hurting her.
Tera’s Butterfree finally let go of mine and my Butterfree laid on the ground, breathing hard.
“Butterfree, use Tailwind!” I demanded.
Butterfree flapped her wings and got into the air. She flapped her wings harder and created a strong gust of wind that ripped throughout the Gym, making my sensitive eyes tear up and Tera forced to hold her skirt down, glaring at Butterfree.
“Return!” I recalled Butterfree. “Charizard, ride the wind!”
Charizard was sent out now and roared as he soared at Butterfree, his Speed picking up as Tailwind boosted him greatly!
“Slam right into him with Wing Attack!” I commanded.
Charizard roared and in the next second, one of his wings, both glowing white, slammed into Butterfree.
Butterfree cried out and flew past Tera, flapping his wings hard to avoid slamming into the wall. He charged at Charizard.
“Whirlwind it away!” Tera let out.
Charizard was too fast now and hit Butterfree with spiraling flames.
Butterfree screamed painfully. The fire continued to hit him and surrounded his body in a sort of fiery twister that lasted for several seconds. The flames finally faded and Butterfree remained on his back.
“Butterfree is unable to battle!” the referee declared. “Charizard is the winner!”
“YEAH!” I cheered as Charizard shot across the field at rapid speed, grunting with joy repeatedly, enjoying the Tailwind Speed boost.
Tera returned Butterfree, staring at him with a look of disgust. She placed his Poke Ball on her hip and grabbed her next choice. “You’re up next, Durant!”
A small creature appeared from the Ultra Ball Tera sent out. It looked like an ant, but made of metal! A robot ant?
“Durant!” the strange thing said.
Durant. The Iron Ant Pokemon. Durant gather leaves which are kept in storage as food for later. They dig twisting tunnels in the mountains to form nests.
“Steel and Bug. The disadvantage is just too great,” I muttered. I couldn’t help but smirk a little bit as I put away my Pokedex.
“Don’t count your Exeggcute so fast. He’s not gonna be that simple to beat. Thunder Fang! Now!”
Durant opened his pincers and they sparked with electricity.
“Another Fire Spin!”
Durant leaped at Charizard. He cried out as he was hit, but his pincers kept sparking and he continued through the fire!
Charizard let out a surprised cry as Durant bit into him, causing him to light up with a strong blast of electricity.
Charizard stopped attacking.
Durant took Charizard down to the ground and continued to shock him.
“Don’t let up!” Tera insisted.
Durant bit down even harder and Charizard roared.
“Flamethrower!” We can’t lose to that thing, I thought. No!
“AGAIN!” Tera continued.
Charizard opened his jaws to attack.
Durant sank his pincers into Charizard even deeper, continuing to zap him.
Charizard helplessly roared out.
Unbelievable, I thought, stunned by how well Durant was actually doing compared to his opponent.
The wind in the Gym from Tailwind finally died down and ended.
Durant was still faster at that close of a range, I knew. Tera really is good at this. She won’t bow down to a type disadvantage that easily.
“Return!” I called back my Pokemon.
Durant landed softly on the ground, having been standing on Charizard. He looked up at me.
“Okay.” I grabbed my next Poke Ball. “Let’s try this. Ivysaur, I choose you!”
“Ivy! Ivy!” Ivysaur growled, looking at Durant.
“Durant!” Durant challenged, sharply opening and closing his pincers.
“Use your Sleep Powder! Right now!”
“Ivy...” Ivysaur growled, and sprayed a blue powder into the air.
“Dig!” Tera told her Pokemon.
Durant dug into the ground and vanished in his hole.
I wracked my mind for an idea while Ivysaur awaited Durant’s inevitable return.
The ground rumbled and Ivysaur looked around.
Durant popped up from the ground and sent Ivysaur into the air.
She landed on her feet with a strong grunt.
Ivysaur’s vines neared Durant.
“Durant!” Durant opened his pincers. The pincers glowed white and bit down on Ivysaur’s vines, stopping them!
“Whoa!” I gasped.
“Reel it in and use Iron Head!”
Durant gave a sharp pull and Ivysaur was yanked off of her feet and headed for Durant!
Ivysaur, eyes wide, suddenly narrowed her eyes in determination and her body started to glow gold.
Durant’s head turned to silver metal and he leaped into the air towards Ivysaur.
Both Pokemon collided with each other.
“SAAAAUUUURRRR!” Ivysaur screamed, tumbling backwards through the air.
Durant slid along the ground on his back.
Ivysaur took a short tumble but got to her feet, looking just fine.
“Ivysaur!” Ivysaur used Razor Leaf, attacking Durant just as he was getting up.
Durant was knocked back onto his back.
“Durant is unable to battle!” the referee stated. “Ivysaur is the winner!”
“ALRIGHT!” I was jumping up and down in disbelief over the advantage I was in! I hadn’t lost a single Pokemon yet! “That’s the way to do it, Ivysaur! Good job!” I turned to June.
She was staring at Durant, her fists clenched tight. She looked up at me suddenly and smiled. “Way to go, Gary!” she called out happily.
I looked away from her. She’s still trying to read Tera’s Pokemon... I realized. It isn’t working, either.
Tera returned Durant and now had her hand over her eyes. She wiped at them furiously.
“Tera?” I asked.
She looked up at me in rage. “I’m getting a headache from this stupid match! I should’ve just ended this in one go from the beginning. Ninjask, destroy everything this kid has!” She threw Ninjask’s Poke Ball.
“Ninjask!” Ninjask zipped around the field rapidly.
I turned back again.
June had her eyes on Ninjask, keeping track of her movements, focusing hard on her, trying to read her.
“Alright. Try to catch it quickly with Razor Leaf!” I told Ivysaur.
Ninjask multiplied in front of Ivysaur as she attacked.
Ivysaur’s leaves hit a few copies, causing them to vanish. She growled, staring at the remaining Ninjask.
“Not this again,” I said through tightened teeth. “Come back, Ivysaur!” I returned her. “Butterfree, it’s time!” I threw her Poke Ball.
“Freeeeee!” Butterfree gazed around at the multiple Ninjask.
This is why I brought along Butterfree in the first place, I thought with a smile. “Aerial Ace!”
Butterfree dove down to the ground, picking up speed, and flipped upward, tearing through a copy of Ninjask and slamming into the real one right above it!
“Ninjaaaask!” Ninjask was taken by surprise.
The remaining copies of Ninjask vanished immediately.
“Aerial Ace won’t miss! And it’s a Flying move, a Bug’s weakness! No more hiding, Tera!”
Ninjask glowed white and picked up Speed from Speed Boost Ability.
“Oh, I get it,” Tera nodded. “You’re the only one here with a Flying type move. NOT!”
My eyes widened. “Tailwind!”
Before Butterfree could flap her wings, Ninjask had tackled her with blinding speed.
Butterfree helplessly tumbled through the air and hit the ground, still rolling, finally laying out flat on the ground.
“Butterfree is unable to battle!” the referee said a little too quickly, in my opinion. “Ninjask is the winner!”
Butterfree was defeated, but I shot an angry glance at the referee for making such a fast call. “Butterfree, you did really well! Come on back, and thank you again for your help!” I recalled her and grabbed my next Poke Ball. “Alright. Once more!” I threw my next Poke Ball.
“Ivysaur!” Ivysaur glared at the Ninjask.
The Ninjask glowed white and picked up Speed, zipping around the field.
“Ivysaur, Sleep Powder!”
Ivysaur stayed still, eyeing the Ninjask.
Ivysaur just growled.
“Ivysaur, cut this out!” My patient was cut short as I started to see what was going on. “Do as I say! Sleep Powder!”
Ivysaur kept on growling and instead used Double-Edge, but Ninjask was too fast and moved out of the way. My Pokemon landed and turned around to face Ninjask.
Ninjask glowed white and her Speed increased more.
“Ivysaur, soon, Ninjask’s Speed will be too overwhelming!! Cut the crap and use Sleep Powder!”
Ivysaur used Vine Whip, but Ninjask dodged once again.
Tera was squinting at my Ivysaur. “Double Team!”
Ninjask multiplied rapidly, nonstop.
Ivysaur got even angrier, watching all the buzzing insects around her.
I rubbed my arms, creeped out by the buzzing noise and the fact that there were tons of nasty Bugs so close to me. Goose bumps were all over my arms and my face was itching.
The Ninjask all glowed white and picked up Speed.
“Ivysaur, please, just relax for a second! Attack with your Poison Powder! If we can catch her with that, we’ll have a really good advantage!”
Ninjask kept on multiplying, all of the copies glowing white and flying around quickly.
“IVYSAUR!” Ivysaur used Razor Leaf, cutting into multiple copies, not stopping to attack for a second, a flurry of constant leaves popping copy after copy after copy.
Why won’t she listen to me? I wondered angrily. She was just listening to me! I turned to June.
She had her eyes on one place amongst the Ninjask.
I turned to the Ninjask, but I didn’t understand what June was looking at.
Ivysaur kept using Razor Leaf, but the real Ninjask was nowhere to be seen.
My shoulders slumped. This is hopeless, I realized. I’m no Pokemon Master. I’m not even a decent Pokemon Trainer with a disobedient Pokemon. If we can’t connect, this just isn’t right. We’re supposed to be a team. This isn’t teamwork. This isn’t the way it should be...
Tera was now shaking her head at me.
The Ninjask glowed white and flew around the battlefield even faster than ever.
“Perhaps you should call it quits, Gary,” Tera said coldly. “I knew you were a loser from day one. I advised you to quit. I told you. You didn’t listen. You’re a complete idiot. Your Pokemon don’t even respect you. Or at least, that smart one doesn’t. I advise you to just quit after I win this battle. Not even your Charizard will save you.”
“I’m not stupid!” I took a stomping step forward. “I’m Gary! And I’m from Pallet Town! And I’ve come here to get your Badge so I can compete in the Pokemon League and that’s damn well what I’m gonna do! Your Ninjask isn’t unbeatable!”
“Of course she isn’t! But an idiotic Trainer like you ain’t gonna get around her! Afraid of Bugs! How you got even one Badge astounds the mind.”
“I’ll show you who’s the idiot!” I had lost my cool entirely with her, a small voice in the back of my mind desperately trying to get me to relax and focus on winning this battle. “Ivysaur, Poison Powder, right now!”
“IVYSAUR!” Ivysaur screamed and sprayed a pink powder into the air.
“Sweet Scent?” I asked. “Sweet Scent!”
A sweet aroma filled the Gym.
The powder was blown away as the Ninjask all spun in place rapidly, creating a strong wind.
It’s not gonna work because of Swords Dance! I realized.
“Keep it up!” Tera pushed her Pokemon.
The Ninjask kept spinning, the wind pushing Ivysaur back as she struggled to keep her ground.
The wind whipped at me as I watched.
Ivysaur kept on using Sweet Scent, the smell making me lose focus as it was blown all around the Gym.
“Swords Dance!” Tera repeated.
The Ninjask kept spinning as they maxed out their Attack.
I remembered when Charizard was taken out by repeated Slash attacks after Ninjask had maxed out her Attack. You still have Charizard, I told myself. This isn’t over yet. Ivysaur is still in this.
Ivysaur was still using Sweet Scent.
“Ivysaur?” I asked weakly, swaying a little bit from the aroma filling my nostrils, feeling a little lightheaded.
The Ninjask all stopped spinning. In the next instant, they all glowed white and flew at Ivysaur to end the round.
“IVYSAAUUUUUR!! POISON POWDERRR!!” I clenched my teeth, sure that move wouldn’t even come out in time to stop the oncoming impacts Ivysaur would have to face.
Ivysaur’s head lowered, preparing for the Ninjask, her eyes on them as her Sweet Scent continued flowing in the air.
The Ninjask neared my Pokemon, entering the pink air still coming from Ivysaur’s bulb and filling the Gym. At once, the group stopped, the white light disappearing from around them, and they hovered in midair. All of the Ninjask were surrounded by Ivysaur’s Sweet Scent, all of them seeming to be in a happy daze!
At once, a Ninjask copy disappeared! Another one vanished! And then another one! And another! The Ninjask copies were all vanishing rapidly as Ivysaur continued to use Sweet Scent, revealing and destroying the copies!
“Aerial Ace, Ninjask! COME ON!” Tera’s eyes were wide in shock.
The Ninjask clones were high in number, but they were disappearing faster and faster.
“NOOOOOOOOOO!!” Tera wailed.
Within a minute’s time, there was only one Ninjask left, happily swaying in place from the aroma.
Ivysaur stopped using Sweet Scent and immediately used Double-Edge, slamming into Ninjask and making her tumble to the ground hard.
Ivysaur landed on the ground and twitched in pain from the recoil damage of using Double-Edge. She shook it off sharply, growling, “Ivysaur!”
“Ivysaur, use-!” I started.
“SAUR!” Ivysaur turned and used Vine Whip... on me! The attack smacked my chest sharply.
I cried out and collapsed, my breathing weak from the burn on my chest.
“Gary!” June screamed.
I shook my head and sat up. “AAAAAAHHHHH...!!!” My right hand grabbed my left shoulder, my arm resting lightly against my chest. It hurt to breathe. To even sit up! But I shook my head again and turned to Ivysaur with fury.
“Get out of there!” Tera’s voice rang out.
To my surprise, Ivysaur had gone back to the battle and had two vines wrapped around Ninjask!
Ninjask was struggling, unable to get out.
This isn’t her battle, I groaned in my head. This is ours! I managed to get to my feet. My right foot rose and slammed back down as hard as I could. “HEEEEEEY!!” I bellowed.
Ivysaur, June, Tera, the referee, and even Ninjask looked over at me in surprise.
“POISON POWDER ATTACK! NOOOOOOOOOOOOWWW!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
Ivysaur turned back to Ninjask and whipped her vine hard, releasing Ninjask and sending her spinning into the air. She ran, using Double-Edge.
I balled my fists, feeling ready to explode into a rage. My mouth was hanging open at how bold Ivysaur was, ignoring me like this!
Ivysaur slammed into Ninjask again and took her back down, standing on her now. She growled and twitched in pain from the recoil damage again. Growling, Sweet Scent came out from her bulb.
Ninjask laid still, the scent calming her down.
“Ninjask, come on!” Tera was jumping up and down angrily.
Ivysaur’s bulb suddenly began to glow white.
“Solar Beam...” I said in surprise.
“Ninjask! One Aerial Ace will end this!” Tera was losing it, fast. “Just get up! You’re too strong! You’re maxed out in Attack right now! ONE DOGGONE HIT!”
Ivysaur’s bulb continued to glow.
Ninjask was still in a daze from the lingering scent.
Ivysaur slowly, carefully, stepped off of Ninjask’s body. She continued to back up slowly.
I watched, very intrigued by what it was she was doing, my anger fading as curiosity took over.
Ivysaur backed up a few more feet and then stopped. “SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRR!!” Ivysaur ran forward at Ninjask.
Suddenly, Ninjask shook her head, gazing around, appearing a little bit dazed as Sweet Scent was wearing off.
Ivysaur’s body glowed gold just as she reached Ninjask.
“Ninjask!” Ninjask now realized what was going on.
But it was too late.
Ivysaur tackled Ninjask, tossing her into the air.
“SAUR!” A enormous, bright white beam fired from Ivysaur’s back and hit Ninjask as she tumbled in the air. Ivysaur twitched from recoil, shook her head, and watched as Ninjask crashed into the ceiling.
Tera’s Bug didn’t move. She looked like she was stuck! Her body finally seemed to twitch, and she fell.
My eyes widened and my mouth dropped open.
Ninjask was right above me!
My heart beat quickly, rapidly, thoughts running through my mind. Do I catch her? Do I let her drop? Is that thing really about to touch me? Why me? I can’t catch her. I won’t catch her. I can’t just let her get hurt like this. What do I do? I feebly held out my hands and Ninjask dropped right into them. I cried out in fear and disgust and let her drop, wiping my hands on my jeans and backing away.
“My Ninjask!” Tera ran across the battlefield towards me.
“Ninjask is unable to battle,” the referee ruled in a low tone. “Ivysaur is the winner. This match goes to Gary from Pallet Town.”
I gasped and looked down at the beaten Ninjask.
Ivysaur was facing Ninjask, growling. “IVY!” Ivysaur angrily ran at Ninjask, ready to slam into her.
“NO!” Tera leaped in front of her Pokemon, her arms outstretched, facing Ivysaur.
Ivysaur didn’t stop running and let out an angry yell as she continued to charge at Tera.
Tera refused to move.
“ENOUGH!” I reached out Ivysaur’s Poke Ball just as she leaped at Tera, calling back my Pokemon. My arm fell, my eyes on the Poke Ball in my hand. “That’s enough...” I whispered in disappointment and exhaustion.
Tera knelt down next to her Ninjask and picked her up.
“GARY!” June screeched excitedly.
I yelled out in surprise from her voice, so close to me, which I didn’t expect. I thought she was still in the bleachers.
She wrapped her arms around me and hugged me extremely tight.
I smiled and turned to her.
She let go of me. “You did it, Gary! You won all eight-” June was interrupted by a surprising noise.
June and I both looked down at Tera in surprise.
Tera held her Ninjask in her arms, her head against her.
Tera was crying with her Ninjask in her arms! Genuine tears were streaming down her face as she held her Ninjask close.
There was no sound other than that of Tera crying.
The referee stood silently, staring in shock at Tera.
“Ninjask...” Ninjask said weakly, reaching up and touching Tera’s tears.
“Ninjask,” Tera sobbed. “My Ninjask. I love you so much.”
My eyes nearly popped. What did she just say? I asked myself.
“You did amazing, Ninjask,” she sniffled. “All of you!” She grabbed her other Poke Ball and Ultra Ball and sent out Butterfree and Durant.
“Durant...” Durant rasped, crawling into his Trainer’s lap, looking up at her face.
“Freee!” Butterfree landed on Tera’s right shoulder.
Tera pet Durant’s head and then rubbed Butterfree’s face gently, smiling. “Durant, Butterfree, Ninjask,” Tera addressed them. “Thank you all for your battling today. I’m so... grateful... to have you all as my Pokemon. My friends. I’m sorry we lost. I’m so... sorry.” She knelt down her head and heaved again, loudly weeping.
I was in awe watching Tera surrounded by her Bugs. She looked so vulnerable. So helpless. So harmless.
“They... love you,” June said in a low voice.
I turned to June.
She was staring at Tera’s Pokemon, her eyes filled with tears.
“What, June?” I asked.
“Tera...” June ignored me.
Tera looked up at June with sadness.
“Your Pokemon all love you...” June whispered, her voice shaky. “They love you, because you love them...”
“Bug Pokemon, are my favorite Pokemon...” More tears rolled fast from her eyes.
“What?!” I exclaimed. “But you told me you hated Bug types! What’s going on here?!”
Tera sniffled and wiped her nose. “When people see Bug type Pokemon, usually nobody cares. They either think they’re weak, can be easily beaten, laugh at them, or are afraid of them.” Her sad eyes turned cold for a brief moment as she looked into my eyes. They softened again as she spoke. “Bug types are the underdogs. Not many people respect them. I guess I can understand why. I get why people count them out often. But, something about the fact that people don’t like them, and that they can be so weak, is exactly what draws me to them. Something about the hate they get, and my understanding of that hate, makes me, in a strange way, love them... They need to be loved. They’re living creatures. They don’t mean any harm. They’re so beautiful, peaceful, and they keep the world turning.” Tera wiped at her eyes as she gazed down at her Bug Pokemon.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was unbelievable to me. My whole world had just been flipped upside down.
“Bug types are so overlooked, and so unloved,” Tera continued, petting her Durant with one hand, and rubbing her Ninjask with the other. “I wanted to kind of prove their odds wrong. I wanted to find Bug types and raise them to be really tough. I fell in love with Bugs and wanted to be around them all the time. Unfortunately, it was tough raising them. They did lose a lot at first. But through patience, determination, courage, will, together we showed improvement in our strength and started winning battles and evolving. My strength and mastery in raising Bugs was recognized and I became a Gym Leader over time. We were finally strong. But I wanted more. I wanted us to be absolutely unbeaten, even against our weaknesses. I traded for specially bred and raised Bug types, and traveled as far as I could, trying to find the very best Bug type Pokemon and raise them well. I may have gone a bit too far, though. In an effort to toughen them up, I talked down about them and referred to them as a weak and inferior type of Pokemon. I never meant to hurt them, though. I always loved them, and they knew it, too.” Tera turned to Butterfree and removed her hand from Ninjask, reaching up to gently touch Butterfree’s wing. “My quest began as soon as I caught my first Pokemon. A Caterpie.”
Butterfree let out a gentle purr and nuzzled his face against Tera’s.
Tera turned to me. “You angered me by being afraid of Bug types,” Tera said seriously, her eyes no longer running, but puffy from crying. “So, losing to you really hurts. You represent a lot of the reason I ever started to raise Bug type Pokemon. You’re nice guy, at heart. I know you don’t exactly hate Bug Pokemon, but, I’m sorry, but, the dislike for them hurts me, too. They have feelings, you know! So, this loss hurts a lot. Perhaps you understand a little better as to why.”
I nodded. “Tera, I do understand.” I paused and swallowed, treading lightly on my next words. “I am still afraid of Bug types, but I have gotten a lot further since the first time we met. I can come into contact with my Butterfree. I’m a little bit of a stronger person, but far from what you’d like me to be. But understand that I know Pokemon have feelings. Every type of Pokemon has feelings, and I know that. I love all Pokemon. I plan to catch them all. All one thousand of them.”
“One thousand?” Tera cocked her head at me in confusion.
Oops, I thought, chuckling a little to myself. “Well, you never know, right?” I smiled.
“Yeah,” Tera smiled, wiping her eyes. “More Bugs.”
I shuddered on the inside, but nodded.
Tera looked down and dug into her pocket. She pulled out a tiny pouch and handed it to me. “This is for you, Gary.”
I carefully took it from her and opened it. I reached inside and pulled out a tiny object. “AAAAAAAHHH!” I dropped the cockroach and pouch and wiped my hands on my jeans, backing up in fright.
June screamed as well and backed away.
“HEY!” I leered at Tera. “What’s your problem??!”
Tera glared at us. She reached over and picked it up. “It’s the Hexapoda Badge!” She held it out to me.
I backed up into June and stared at it. “Huh?”
It was a Badge! The underside of it held the pin, what looked like six cockroach legs on each side of it at the ends of the badge. I hesitantly reached out and took the Badge. It looked exactly like a cockroach, with two antennae sticking from the top. I smiled and let out a breath. “The Hexapoda Badge is mine!!” I cheered. “Eight Badges! Alright!!”
“It’s... an honor of sorts, after all the time we’ve known each other and everything we’ve been through, to be giving you your final Badge, Gary,” Tera managed to slowly beam.
“Tera, this is an honor to have from you,” I smiled back. “Thank you.”
Tera turned to June, her smile fading.
June looked back at her, a blank expression on her face.
“I... apo-” Tera began.
June raised a hand out to Tera.
Tera stared at it for a moment, finally reaching up and grabbing it.
They both shook hands.
“It was an honor to battle you and have known you. Good luck ,Tera.”
Tera smiled and nodded. “Thank you, June.” Tera then turned back to me. “Good luck.”
“Thank you, Tera.” I gave one last look at Ninjask, Durant, and Butterfree before turning away.
“Hey,” Tera said, grabbing my hand.
I stopped and turned to her.
“Your Ivysaur,” she said gently. She gave me one more nod. “Be careful...”
I was confused, but I nodded.
Tera’s hand slid off of mine.
I immediately headed out of the Gym and for the Pokemon Center.
“The Hexapoda Badge is OURS!” I cheered on the outskirts of Viridian City.
Charizard, Primeape, Kingdra, Porygon-Z, and Butterfree cheered.
Ivysaur was laying down, away from the rest of us, her eyes closed. She opened one eye when I mentioned the Badge and glared at me through it.
I lowered my hand and stared at the Badge. Did I really earn this Badge? I wondered. Ivysaur battled for it. She didn’t even listen to me. I gripped the Badge in my hand tightly and turned to my Pokemon, trying not to think about that. I didn’t have time to. “Get ready, guys. Up next, we’re headed for the Indigo Plateau to battle the toughest battles of our lives against the strongest Pokemon Trainers out there. So be sure to give it your all, okay?”
Aside from Ivysaur, everyone was excited.
I was also really happy that Porygon-Z hadn’t been screeching today when I sent him out and didn’t act up in the Pokemon Center.
June sat far away from us, leaning back on a tree, smiling, but her wary eyes shooting at Porygon-Z every few seconds.
I returned my Pokemon back to their Poke Balls, put my Badge in the case and slipped my case in my jacket before walking over to June.
She stood up and smiled brightly, her hands behind her back as she leaned against the tree.
The moonlight above lit up the clearing.
“So, Mr. Pokemon Master, you ready?”I smirked at her cockily. “I am.”
She flashed me her best grin.
It was getting awkward after several seconds and I looked down, still grinning. “We should keep moving, fast. Only a couple more days left.”
June nodded. “Let’s get going.”
I stared at June silently.
June stared back. “Yes?” she asked.
“Back at Tera’s Gym,” I mentioned. “You said her Pokemon love her.”
June’s eyes lowered. “It was... clear as day to me...” She looked up at me. “But I still can’t read Porygon-Z. I don’t understand this at all.”
“Well, it’s a start, right?” I tried.
“I don’t like that I couldn’t read Tera’s Pokemon, and now I just can. It doesn’t answer anything.”
“I know this is upsetting.”
June looked into my eyes, a serious look on her face. “You know what’s upsetting me most of all, though?”
“What?” I asked.
“We’re wasting time and you have a Pokemon League competition to get to in a short amount of days.” She grabbed my hand and pulled me. “Let’s go!”
And with those words, June and I took off through Route 1, eight official Badges from the Gym Leaders of the Kanto region in my Badge case, headed for Pallet Town.
And after we got there.
We’d be running as fast as we could for the Indigo Plateau.